Friday, April 2, 2021

March Songs

Spring is here! No, really, it is! We went for a walk this morning and I didn't even need to wear a coat! The birds were going crazy, the trees were turning green, I only had to scrape mud off my boots the one time. 

Pause. Clock hands turn. A day passes, then another.

And now Spring's gone.

Let's have some tunes.

February Songs - February Song - Chesy B. & Alan Bi Rush - My Spanish goes about as far as "Can I see the room?" and "What time does the train for Avila leave?" I can read the language a little better than that suggests. I can pick the main theme out of a newspaper article. Most signage makes some sense to me. What this lot are on about? Yeah, I have no idea. It's called "February Song" and that's all I know. Oh, and that I like it.

It Makes You Think - I Hope You're Happy - Hoodoo Gurus - Not really the sound I associate with the Hoodoo Gurus. Feels kinda Stonesy. Seems to be the general intent. In fact, the Stones song it most reminds me of is Happy, which seems a bit on the nose. The studio version uses all the same Jagger-Richards pieces but puts them together in a different order. More what you'd expect. Suggests they might be a stronger live proposition than I'd hitherto imagined.

In Another League - Neva End - Future ft. Kelly Rowland - Is this what the Grammy people mean when they talk about "melodic rap"? I'll answer that now I've done some research: apparently not. Wikipedia thinks Future is trap. I already went down that rabbit hole a couple of years back and I'm not going there again. I'll just say what I already said about Chesy B. & Alan Bi Rush and say I like it. Twenty-year old me is looking daggers at me down the timeline right now...

Relocation Due - The Chisellers (aka Interlude/Chillinist) - The Fall - Phew! Back on safe ground. I know what this is. It's the Fall.  I bought The Chisellers as a single when it came out in 1996. On cassette. A cassingle, no less. There's a format that never caught on. Can't imagine why. Shane Bordoli, owner of the YouTube channel where I found both the videos above, chose to splice the original to a segment of Peter Jackson's infamously twisted muppet satire Meet the Feebles so watch that one at your own risk. On the right is the Peel Session version, which has a different name for reasons only Mark E. Smith could have explained. It's quite different, arguably even better, plus you don't have to watch muppet analogs having sex while you listen to it, which may or not be a bonus. I'll leave you to decide for yourself.

Nothing Lost And Nothing Gained - I Keep A Close Watch - John Cale - Talking of songs changing their name... and their sound... and their shape... The original version and the one I remember (linked in green above) comes from Cale's magnificent 1975 album Helen of Troy, which, once again, I bought when it was first released. And played the absolute hell out of. That version's all lush strings and dacaying grandeur. To me, it seems perfect but Cale, being Cale, couldn't leave it alone. 

He's reworked it a few times, the video above being just the most recent, by which time the title has been cut to just "Close Watch". I'm not sure he's doing the bleak, desperate resignation of the original many favors with cut-up approach but the video's intriguing. I prefer the desolate and beautiful piano version from Dutch TV in the late '80s and there's another good live version here but the original is still the best.

I also left myself a note reminding me to mention that one of the picture captions for this post used a line from Heather Nova's My Fidelity. The line in question was "She's only shining bright 'Cause she's so out of reach". Usually I link things like that in the posts as I do them. No idea why I didn't this time. It's from another album I do, in fact, own although I'd completely forgotten about it. I'd forgotten all about Heather Nova, too, for that matter, not that I ever knew much about her to begin with. I own two of her albums, I think. I know I listened to one of them a fair bit in the nineties. It wasn't this one.

On Ya Like Veronica - Phony Rappers - A Tribe Called Quest - I quite wanted to go with the bizarre Falling Mirror track Archie and Juggie Went Down To The Store (chum chum a rum a rum, chum a rum chum). It's certainly demented enough to go with the theme of the post but, hey, when you can pull a line from A Tribe Called Quest...

No Solid Ground - Faster Than Truth - Neneh Cherry - The video begins with the song in question then moves into the better-known 7 Seconds and Buffalo Stance. Twenty minutes well spent.

Another Year, Another Beer - The closest I could come to this was "another beer" from Bob Dylan's Black Diamond Bay. Dylan seems to have an almost supernatural ability to keep his songs from appearing on YouTube and there's no sign of this one. There is a version by the guy who co-wrote it, Jacques Levy. He co-wrote most of what I sometimes think of as Dylan's best album, Desire. Levy was, among other things, a theater director and I'm getting the feeling the whole rolling, picaresque narrative structure of half the songs on that album might be down to him.

Location, Location, Location - Location - Freelance Whales - someone maybe likes Belle and Sebastian just a little too much. It's a tad less obvious in the studio version - but only a tad.


In Every Dream Home A Heartache - Roxy Music - The first three Roxy albums represent one of the greatest runs in rock music history and all the extant video from the period shows they were every bit as ahead of their time on stage. The stunning performance on the left is from the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, where it must have turned the beards of the watching hippies white. See how Ferry never blinks. Method or methedrine? Place your bets.
The one on the right is from the Dutch equivalent of OGWT, Musikladen. It's longer, more psychedelic, still unsettling. Ferry came back to the song a few times, notably in this intriguing duet with Jane Birkin. There are also a ridiculous number of covers, one particularly fine take coming from Jared Louche and the Aliens and another from Paul (aka Paul The Girl). It also has the notable distinction of being one of the few songs to which I can remember all of the words.  
I'm Off Balance - I Think - Tyler The Creator - Ferry in his prime may have come across as a little unsettling. Tyler The Creator is just plain terrifying. I'm only just now arriving at the point where I can watch him without my fingers over my eyes. Odd Future aka Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All first came to my notice more than a decade ago, when a single viewing of one of their videos on YouTube and a glance through a couple of interviews shot them straight to the top of the very short list of bands that scare the living crap out of me. 
It was mostly the things they said, a little the way they sounded and it certainly didn't help that the one video I watched prominently featured a six-inch cockroach crawling all over the singer. At the time it was reckoned they were going to be important, which was why I was checking them out. I could see it was true but the main effect the experience had on me was to make me seriously question whether I wasn't getting too old for this kind of shit. Another decade has convinced me I'm not but it was a close-run thing. 


Another New World - Another Green World - Eno - and (I Could Live With You In) Another World - Richard Hell and the Voidoids - I couldn't decide between the two so I rammed them together. Well, some of the words.

Under The Sea - Water - P. J. Harvey - Plenty of options here although, if I'm totally honest, I probably had the Disney number from The Little Mermaid in mind. I saw that at the cinema on original release. The phrase turns up in Octopus's Garden, Ringo's comedy turn for the Beatles and also, perhaps more surprisingly, Submission by the Sex Pistols. And, no doubt in many other places as well.  

Out Of The Swamp - Miss Thing - Adam Ant - I'm not going to tell my Adam Ant story again. Watching him here, though, it's like punk never happened, isn't it?  Honestly, I'd much rather have used this very strange Delgados number, The Past That Suits You Best, but there's no video and blogs need visuals. 

I Built A Tower - Counting Backwards - Throwing Muses - Doubling down on that, this Derek Minor track, Babel 2, is a lot more memorable than the Throwing Muses' somewhat identikit nineties indie but once again no moving pictures. Throwing Muses are good but I preferred Belly.

At The Grammys - The People - Common - I've discovered more about hip-hop and rap since i started doing these posts than in a decade before that... and I could still get everything I know on the back of a postcard. I know I like Common a lot, though. And I'd like to know where the prominent samples on this come from. (Oh, I just checked the deets and Gil Scott Heron's credited. Guess that answers that).


Different Voices - Long Hot Summer - Style Council - Who'd have pegged Tyler for a Style Council fan? The interview's a great watch if you can cope with it but the reveal's at 12.37 if the tension gets too much. Which it will.
When You Hear The Call - Word Up - Cameo - Any excuse. Had to forego another favorite, Call of the West by Wall of Voodoo, but some calls cannot be denied.

Just Some Thoughts - If I Ruled The World (Imagine That) - Nas ft. Lauryn Hill - Never really got Lauryn Hill. I'm sure she's all broken up over that.  

Somehow The Vital Connection Is Made - Connection - Elastica - Hmm... I never noticed before how much the huge bass drop in Connection sounds like the signature whoop that drives Blur's Song 2. Factor in Justine and Damon's relationship and that little contretemps with Wire and it's fit to make your head spin. Britpop, eh? Whatcha gonna do? 

Pick It Up And Pack It In - Perfect - Sorry - I don't know Sorry. It took me a moment to work out which was the name of the song and which was the name of the band. The semi-acoustic version in the video is weirdly atonal compared to the full band studio original (the green link) but it kind of grows on you. Like fungus, as the joke goes.

I Just Got A Magic Wand - New Magic Wand - Tyler The Creator - Oh, god! Him again! When I searched for songs featuring the words "magic wand" I did not expect to get Tyler, I'll tell you that for nothing. I was expecting a bunch of new age collectives with "elf" somewhere in their names and probably Jethro Tull. (Tull turn up surprisingly often in these searches, something that concerns me a little). In fact, I didn't get anything of the sort. I got everything from Doris Day to Moments and Whatnauts. I guess the phrase is too generic to appeal to the renaissance fayre demographic any more. I've read Tyler's lyrics several times and while I couldn't swear to it I think he's got something in mind that's going to need more than just a bit of the old Izzy Wizzy Let's Get Busy...

I Search In Vain - Another Night In - Strangelove - And you wonder why they never made it. Okay, no-one wonders that.

Can't Complain - The Girlatones - If you're going to make a sound like this you really need call yourself something like... oh, I don't know... The Girlatones? That'll get you a hundred views on YouTube for sure. Next thing you know, you'll be pop stars

Lost Cat - Catatonia - Add this lot to the pile of bands I didn't pay enough attention to when they were around. It's a big pile.

How We Got Here - Fog - The Regrettes - OMG! Nothing ever really changes, does it? Come back in fifty years, bands will still be doing this. Only wish I could be there to see them.

Sure To End In Tears - From The Hip - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions -Seems like quite a while since we last had some LC&TC. As no-one ever called them. Bought this when it came out but then that's a given. I've bought everything Lloyd ever did when it came out or as soon as I became aware of it, whichever came first. About time for a new one isn't it, Mr Cole? Been a couple of years now.

Center Of The Social Scene - That Boy Is All About Fun! - Freezepop - I played this three times in a row when I found it. Always a sign. Never heard of 'em before (So? What's new?) but they seem to be somewhat successful. They also seem to have some connection to Elefant Records, which I can't say surprises me much. My Elefant Records post will happen one day.

Under The Mountain - Cities In Dust - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Inspired by a visit to the excavated ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, apparently. Punks, eh? No, wait... goths. Goths, eh? There's a good electro cover by Junkie XL I'd have danced to if I'd been there, then. Clubbing in 2010, I mean. Not choking on volcanic dust in 79AD.

Whispers And Shadows - Sometimes I Miss You So Much - PM Dawn - And what a great, uplifting, elegaic note to end on. If the comment thread on this one were rendered as a word cloud, the first word that would jump out would be "underrated". And it's true.

That's all for this month. See you back here at the beginning of May.

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