Friday, November 27, 2015

Santa's got a bullet in his gun (The Killers) #487

The Killers Don't Shoot Me Santa/ Don't Shoot Me Santa (video)  (Island, 2007)

Weird weird weird. 

Brandon Flowers and crew construct a bizarre song involving a homicidal Santa Claus.

So not a charming Christmas ditty to warm your cockles then. Instead a psycho drama that I guess he needed to get off his lips (hips?). Well it is by The Killers after all!

Yes, bizarre, but fiendishly catchy and the man has great pipes!

This single was left behind by one of my children and I have not wanted to chuck it away for good reason. I hate throwing anything like this away - books, CDs, records, magazines. The hoarder in me.

Hidden gem: No actual B side, instead you get the video.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Don't wanna hold hands and talk about our little plans alright! (Jet) #486

Jet Cold Hard Bitch/ Everlovin' Man/ Ain't That A Lotta Love/ You Don't Look The Same (demo)/ Cold Hard Bitch (live)  (Capitol, 2004)

Generally, the Aussies do hard rock well: Cold Chisel; AC/DC; Midnight Oil; Stevie Wright; Wolfmother; Skyhooks; Silverchair all have long established places in my collection. 

Jet aren't at that level but for a while they were genuine contenders based on their first album Get Born.

Actually, it was the McCartney/Wings style ballad Look What You've Done that got my initial interest but that turned out to be an aberration.

Cold Hard Bitch is in the classic rock style of standout track Are You Gonna Be My Girl? and the rest of that debut album. Which is to say - it's pretty full frontal grunty guitar riff rawk and I like it! If you can ignore the lyrics you're fine.

Hidden gems: It's a ratty rag bag of sloppy live, amateurish demo and sub par unreleased tracks on the B side. 

If forced to pick a stand out track I'd go for the Deep Purpleisms of Everlovin' Man, even down to the title!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Things seem different today (Idlewild) #485

Idlewild You Held The World In Your Arms/ Distant History/ I Was Made To Think It (Parlophone, 2002)

I wanted to like Idlewild so much! There was so much going for them: altpop punk smarts; great guitars; Scotland! 

So I bought the first two albums and the third - the parent one to YHTWIYA (The Remote Part).

The problem, I think, is the lack of a smash tune. In my defence - it worked for Snow Patrol!

You a good toe tapping song but a minute after it's finished I can't remember the melody. Which is a pain, because I really want to like them.

Hidden gems: Neither of the B sides are from The Remote Part. Neither distinguish themselves enough to be gems but Distant History gets marks at least for being at a different pace!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The future needs some firm direction (House Of Love) #483 - 484

The House Of Love   Never/ Soft As Fire/ Safe  (Fontana 12", 1989)

The House Of Love You Don't Understand/ Sweet Anatomy/ Kiss The Fountain/ 3rd Generation Liquid Song  (Fontana, 1992)

Never came from The House Of Love's second album (the one with the butterfly on the cover). It was the first single (of four) off the album and didn't really trouble the charts at the time.

Never-the-less it's a terrific song. 

I was lucky to find a copy of the 12" vinyl at Slow Boat Records a few weekends ago. It has a terrific cover with Guy Chadwick looking suitably enigmatic/broken-hearted - take your pick! The guy who tallied up my purchases remarked what a great selection of vinyl I'd found! Yeah man!

Back to Never: it has those instant House Of Love touches - dreamy pop played with passion and skill. Guy's voice is instantly recognisable.

You Don't Understand is the first song I ever heard by the band (lead track on their third album Babe Rainbow) and it was instant love at first hearing.

Hidden gems: All the B sides are non album tracks, although Never's B sides are compiled on A Spy In The House Of Love.

Kiss The Fountain is an alternative arrangement of You Don't Understand - a slow grind with menace. Wonderful!

But all are wonderful! I don't think Guy could actually make a duff track if he tried. Bold claim? You be the judge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hallelujah (George Harrison) #482

George Harrison My Sweet Lord/ Let It Down/ My Sweet Lord (2000)  (EMI, 2001)

A CD single revisit for George's great solo single.

I don't care about the plagiarism, this is quality! 

Those acoustic guitars lay down a beautiful bed of melody for George's vocals and his distinctive electric guitar sound.

A wonderful song that achieves an exultant mood! Enough said (but if you want more try me here).

Hidden gems: My real reasons for getting the single are of course on the B side. Let It Down is a cool acoustic demo version that is full of George's humour and warmth.

The My Sweet Lord 2000 version uses different musicians, a different vocal and adds a lot more slide guitar and some sitar and serves them all up as an alternative take on this great song. 

It works in spectacular fashion too, and is even more poignant given George didn't have long to live when he recorded it (he died in 2001). For much much more on the song go here.

Friday, November 6, 2015

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies (Green Day) #480 - 481

Green Day Holiday/ Minority (live) (Reprise, 2004)
Green Day Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/ American Idiot (live)/ She's A Rebel (live)  (Reprise, 2004)

You've got to admire the energy and enthusiasm from Green Day. And longevity.

Their problem was always going to be how to retain their teenage angst shtick into middle age/middle career maturity without seeming contrived and they seem to have done well.

Boulevard and Holiday come from the American Idiot album which I really like. Both songs have got spunk and are catchy. And are actually fairly standard rock songs. 

Usually, when I don't think about it, I tend to associate the band with standard punk pace but that's unfair and in truth they have always been more than that. 

These two are nuanced and nothing like a punk thrash. Holiday even has a guitar solo!! Fab!

Hidden gems: Both live versions on the Boulevard B side are worthy! They are different enough to the studio versions to be interesting.

Minority is a live version as well. It sounds a tad like The Pogues and I'm not a Pogues fan.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Some things you do you can never repair (David Gray) #479

David Gray Wisdom/ Lovers/ 4am  (VC Records, 1993)

Wisdom is VERY early David Gray (breakthrough album White Ladder was five years away).

Included on the debut album A Century Ends (always thought that was a weird title, it makes no sense given it came out in 1993), Wisdom is a decent mid paced rocker and a worthy single attempt. 

The problem with early David Gray is that he sounded like hundreds of other folk rock singers.

The David Gray voice is present and correct on Wisdom, but there's no audible X factor to the song/album. That wouldn't happen until White Ladder and the purple patch from 1998 to 2005 (since then he's retreated in reach, although 2014's Mutineers showed some stirrings of things more interesting again).

I acquired the single along with all the pre White Ladder albums because of that album's brilliance but aside from a few individual songs, none of the albums come close to indicating he had White Ladder inside him.

I'll keep buying his post Slow Motion albums though - you never know...1998 to 2005 wasn't a fluke!

Hidden gems: Nope - both songs eventually surfaced on a singles compilation (The EPs 1992 - 1994) but neither are memorable and gems would be a misnomer.