Friday, July 31, 2020


As promised last time, here's the first of an excitng new, monthly feature that's really just an old feature hacked up into smaller, more digestible chunks. Doing the quarterly round-up last time took me days. Even I was beginning to get fed up with it by the end. Always take small bites and chew properly or you're going to choke, that's my advice.

The rules are the same as before:
Full song titles used as post titles (even if altered)  - Large, Bold, Green
Quotes from lyrics used as titles (even if altered) - Large, Bold, Blue
Original titles from which quotes were drawn - Small, Italic, Bold, Green
All other music - Small, Italic, Green

That's the short version. The somewhat longer yet disappointingly no more helpful version can be found here.

Posting slowed down a little in July as I weaned myself off a daily routine that started with Blapril and didn't seem to want to stop. With Promptapalooza incoming that may not have been the best timing.

Not that I slowed down all that much. I posted twenty-six times in July and all but four of those posts had some form of song reference in the title, including this one and that aforementioned quarterly megapost, which I entitled, with no little irony,

Too Much Of A Good Thing - The Shirelles - I have a strange history with sixties girl groups. In theory they represent the sound of my childhood. One of the sounds, at least. This one, for example, came out in 1967, when I was nine years old. In fact, I have no memory whatsoever of hearing anything remotely like The Shirelles back then. My introduction to the wonderful world of three part vocal harmony co-incided almost exactly with the first intimations of punk in 1975. It was around then that I began listening, quite obsessively, to Phil Spector and discovering the wonders of 60's garage. In my circle, "punk" was as likely to mean The Monkees or The Crystals as The Ramones or The Damned. If it was fastish, upbeat and two-and a half minutes long, it qualified. That open-mindedness lasted until about the middle of '77, by which time battle lines were being drawn and I was already changing sides.

Broken English - Marianne Faithful -Broken English is a great album. If it doesn't sound quite as sharp thirty years on that's only because time rounds the edges of all things. Back in 1979 it was about as smooth as a mouthful of broken glass, which is what Marianne sounded like she was singing through on half the tracks, particularly the jaw-droppingly NFSW Why'd Ya Do It? Plenty of people tried to re-invent themselves when the new wave looked like it might wash their careers straight down the drain but few made such a convincing job of it as she did. And she kept on doing it, too.

So Stick Around - Benny and the Jets - Elton John - Ah, Elton. What an enigma. One of the strangest megastars you could wish for. A singer-songwriter who doesn't write any of his own lyrics. A flamboyant peacock who looks like a small-town accountant. A self-obsessed self-publicist who's also open, honest and endearing. And the songs. My god, the songs. Benny and the Jets is unsinkable, indestructible, relentless. And I love relentlessness. Also much harder to sing than you might imagine, as evidenced by Elton's assault on the falsetto line in the Soul Train clip above. Could be why there aren't many good covers out there, either, but there are a few. The Beastie Boys ft. Biz Markie is a particular favorite of mine. Biz Markie's having no truck with the tricky bits, that's for sure. The song about the song, Benny and the Jetts by TV Girl is even better, although why they added the extra "t" is anyone's guess.

Tested By Research - Death or Glory - The Clash -  July turned out to be something of a conventional month when it came to picks. Mainstream, even. Entirely unintentional, but even I can't be self-consciously obscure all the time. The Clash weren't exactly mainstream when I saw them do one of the best live shows I've ever seen on the ill-fated White Riot tour but they very, very much are now. It's almost unbearably ironic to see the band that once howled "No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones" become the archetypal heritage act but it happens to the best, I guess. Not that it was long in coming. As this swaggering, sing-along stormer suggests, they were already preparing for stadium stardom as early as 1979.

Defiant Pose - The Cortinas -  I wouldn't be quite as cynical as to suggest the Cortinas' title refers to their contemporaries, the Clash, although it is tempting to make the connection. There's a more tangible link between the two bands, though. When I was crammed into a basement club the size of my mother's front room with a hundred or so sweating, swearing, pogoing teenagers, yelling along to Fascist Dictator and Television Families, I would have headbutted anyone daft enough to suggest one of the acned adolescents on stage was going to end up in the already legendary Clash, but somehow guitarist Nick Sheppard did. For about five minutes. Local heroes, the Cortinas were the first real punk band I ever saw, falling out of a van like cartoon clowns at the Ashton Court Festival in the summer of '76. They never really got out of punk's second division and their one album sounds like it was recorded by a different band entirely but they gave good live while they lasted.

Summer ForeverSeth And Summer Forever - Babygirl -  Much though I loved the original punk thrash at the time, it was what lay behind the doors it battered down that came to mean much more to me. Such a sweet sequence from Subway Sect to Babygirl. These days it feels like the continuum it always must have been.

"It’s so surreal and polychrome
The way it comes and then it runs and never lets you know
Head over heels
Just take the wheel and take me home"

Take The Cash - Wreckless Eric - I'm a little bit worried about Wreckless. He contracted covid19 earlier in the year, recovered, then had a heart attack, trying to get back to normal too quickly. He posted a couple of lengthy, detailed, beautifully-written pieces about it but the last one was a couple of months back and its bloated comment thread is rife with spam. Never a good sign.

This Year, Next Year, Sometime, Never - The Honeycombs  - I wouldn't click that link if I were you. When I wrote the post, I came up with the title first, vaguely remembering I'd heard a song called something along those lines. When I'd finished it I searched the web and found several similar titles, only I'd never heard any of the songs before and quite honestly I'd be more than happy never to hear any of them again. Still, as a matter of record, here are the two exact matches, The Joe Meek-produced horror above and this forgettable instrumental by Mick & Kate Stannard. I plead ignorance.

The Impossible Dream - SAHB - We seem to have hit a bit of a musical low point in the show, I'm afraid, even though I love the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. If "love" is the right word. Maybe "fear". Alex was very possibly the scariest live performer I've ever seen, as this video clip attests. He for sure had the scariest audience. I didn't dare look left or right the first time I went to see him, for fear I'd catch someone's eye and their fist would be the last thing I'd see. I never really rated his assault on this over-dramatic show tune, though. It seemed already too arch to sustain the irony he seemed to expect it to support. Then again, it could have been worse. He could have taken it seriously, like Jimbob and Fruitbat...

Change My Gamma - Bring It Down To Earth - Ultramagnetic MCs - Phew! That's better! Some real music at last.

Every Convenience - Don't Worry About The Government - Talking Heads - And now we're cooking! As I said last time we did this, I've been on a bit of a Talking Heads rediscovery tour of late. This was always one of my very favorites. I know all the words by heart, which is almost unheard-of. I have such a terrible memory for lyrics I sometimes had to take a crib sheet on stage when I performed. There's a great version from a 1978 edition of the Old Grey Whistle Test but the Shine Children's Choir just nail it. That's the pace the damn song needs! And even David Byrne can't dance like that!

All The Trees Of The Fields Will Clap Their Hands - Sufjan Stevens -  How can a song that starts with "If I am alive this time next year" be so insanely calming to listen to? There's a comment on the YouTube thread that just says "I listened to this on loop for a nine hour car ride and didn't get tired of it." Neither would I.

Restless In Tyria - Restless - Cold War Kids - There's a little serendipity in this one. I'd just started on Season Three of Lucifer when I was writing this post but I hadn't yet reached the episode where this plays over a very emotional scene towards the end. I called the post "Restless in Tyria" as some kind of pointless half-nod to Eyeless in Gaza, a book which, naturally, I have never read. Then I went looking for songs called "Restless". There are a few of those, including some by bands I like - The Bangles, maybe, or New Order.  The New Order one's really good, actually. Let's have that , too, why not?

I could have gone with any of them but my eye was drawn to Cold War Kids. I'd not heard the of them before but it's a half-decent name, so I figured maybe they'd be half-decent, too. I listened to the song, which was nice enough, if not really my kind of thing. I'm never sure what that style is called. I just know I hear a lot of it in soundtracks. Directors seem to like it because it yearns. When I made the Lucifer connection that sealed the deal but it wasn't until I reached the episode where it features that I was certain I'd made the right choice. Would have been a bit late by then to find out I hadn't, I guess.

Get A Job - The Silhouettes - That girl group sound we were talking about earlier grew out of fifties doo-wop. If I don't remember The Shirelles I'm hardly likely to remember The Silhouettes, for whom this was a hit in the year I was born. And yet I do know this song. I can't remember where I first heard it. Maybe it was on the soundtrack to some movie or maybe John Peel played it. He loved him some doo-wop. And so do I. In moderation. It seemed almost impossibly ancient to me, when Sha Na Na were making a career out of reviving the sound. I imagine that was kind of what they were counting on, yet everything they were playing must have been barely a decade old. It'd be like someone today dressing up and singing the hits of... 2010. Is anyone doing that?

Always The Same - Legends -What an unironically appropriate title. I always thought the Marychain coud use a female singer.

I'm In A Film Of Personal Soundtrack - Nag Nag Nag - Art Brut - Perfect syntax. I was so happy when I ran across this, looking for songs with the word "soundtrack" in the lyrics. I do wish I'd seen Art Brut, back in their pomp. They may think they're generational but they're just universal.

August, I'll See You Soon - Rilo Kiley - Not my favorite Rilo Kiley tune (not keen on those drums) but the perfect title for the post.

Action, Time And Vision - Alternative TV -  I have a niggling feeling I've used this one before. I should have checked. I usually do. I must have been in a hurry. ATV were one of those bands that manages to define a scene and stand outside of it at the same time. Those are the ones that matter, by and large. And the ones that last.

It's Elemental - Elemental - Tears for Fears - They may well be the most famous and successful band ever to come out of the city where I've lived for the last thirty years but to the best of my knowledge, I have never owned anything by Tears For Fears. Nor wanted to.

More Than One Membership - In Or Out - Ani DiFranco - Bit of an anthem. or so I gather. Ani DiFranco's one of those performers I feel I must have known about forever and yet I seem never to have actually listened to. Obviously, I should have. Reminds me of Brenda Kahn, who I really like, even if no-one else does.

On The Rise - Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival - I've definitely used this one before. Last time it turned up I led with a rambunctious cover by The La La Love Me's. This time I'm quoting a different lyric, though, so that's okay. Every busker and bar band in the world does a version of this and they all thought it would be an original idea to put their unique take on YouTube, which makes finding any genuinely interesting version something of a challenge. Most interpretations seem to emphasize the jolly jug band stomp but there are a few that go the other route, like this swampwater surge by Craw NeQuent or the pull-out slow burner above by La Maurette ft. Kevin Johnson, which goes hard on the horror in more ways than one.

I guess I'd better think twice before I use Bad Moon Rising again but unfortunately it's one of those songs with lyrics that lend themselves to post titles and it happens to be one I can remember easily. Unfortunately, it seems, so can everyone who ever picked up a guitar. Or a ukele.

Mainstream - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Let's end on a high note. The highest. If we're talking quotable lyrics I guess I could just stick to Lloyd, Lana and Lou and forget about the rest. Also, I think this is the first time I've linked the title of the portmanteau post in the portmanteau post itself. Kinda neat.

That's all for this month. Come back around the beginning of September  and we'll do this all over again. I'll try and make it a bit more eclectic next time. No promises!

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