Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Happy People Dance – The 2010 collection for family and friends.

The__Happy_People_Dance__Mix.zip (94.76 MB)

 

Following on from the tradition set last year, here is my annual mix of songs for 2010, that in contrast to convention, doesn’t actually contain any songs released in 2010! But at some point in the year they all spoke volumes to me. I couldn’t help but include a few love notes below, as well as highlight some stand out lyrics here and there….

Happy dancing, and happy holidays~!

 

1. I Cant Stop Dancing by Archie Bell and the Dells

A wonderful soul groove number that I particularly fell head over heels for when I realised my main man Archie Bell was crooning away about shedding his belongings on the street and getting down to the funky beat. Love how vivid the lyrics are and that the whole song celebrates dancing. I always imagine this as the perfect ‘end of the evening’ groove.

“…There is a place I eat lunch at everyday, as soon as I get there the juke box starts to play, I cant even eat my lunch in peace because the music makes me get out of my seat…”


2. Dance, Dance, Dance by King Sunny Ade

King Sunny Ade really is sunny. He is light like fresh air, and bright like summer sun. It is hard not to love his thoroughly happy music, and again, what a wonderful message about dancing. Priceless advice captured in inspiring African music and song.

“Dance, Dance, Dance, dance away your sorrow…”


3. Hang on Sloopy by The McCoys

I love the opening bars of this song, the happy hitting keys in the intro offset by that deep, groovy voice, it makes you want to dance like a hippy chick in a beatnik’s loungeroom. I was pretty captivated by that 60s pop sound this year, that harmless happy mix of rock, pop and groove, this is one of many old tunes that got me up out of my seat.

 

4. Beatmaker by Doris

Doris. Doris. Doris. When I saw that The Yang had put Doris on my Ipod, I was all like, “who the fuck is Doris?” Then I heard her, and it is like she answered my question with a bitch slap. She’s the Beatmaker, a killer groove Queen and she’s “drinkin’ whiskey straight no chaser”


5. Pirates Anthem by Coco Tea/Shaba Ranks/Home T

After spending over 10years involved with overly earnest activists/protest types, sometimes I think this is the only kind protest that should matter, “the right to play the people music night and day”. Anyway this killer, killer tune, that we found on a five pound mix CD in Manchester, made me get up and dance my blues away one day in my kitchen.

 

6. Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll by Ian Dury

I heard this when I took my nieces to see Circus Oz, it was played in the dimmed light of the pre show hubbub while riggers and roadies fiddled with the final touches, I could see this big rugged roadie dude in the shadows, walkin and boppin his head to the shit hot bass line, and I love being reminded that punk has pure bass, and its funky, in a punky kinda way.

“every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty. Grey is such a pity”


7. We Love You by Dj Goodka & Dj Moar

Check out that wobble! What an exciting start to a totally uplifting tune. Driving along one day I tuned in past the funk and found it to be also beautiful. When I’m not being a jaded, snarky bitch, I’m quite partial to a bit of cheesy “we are one big family” sentiment.

 

8. America feat. Mos Def and Chali 2na (Nirobi edit) by Knaan & Tiahoun Gessess

This epic (its over 9mins) is a creeper. Distinctive and noticeable from the moment you hear it, it can take time before you develop a true love and appreciation. I love the musical mix of the Ethiopian and English sound, and Mos Def is at stand out best, sweetly lyrical singing, cutting and clear MCing. Ripper.

 

9. Groove Me by Leroy Sibbles

Bringin’ back the soul. I find this tune utterly delectable; I could eat Leroy’s voice right up. There is not much more to say, you just have to turn it up loud and get lost in the soul groove.

 

10. I am a Madman by Lee Perry

This man’s voice stops me in my tracks, its poignant powerful and sweet. And I love anyone who is mad. In this crazy world, you’d be fucked up not to be.


* with lovin’ thanks to The Yang who continually introduces me to a wealthy world of great music!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the last few weeks I have been inundated with pop induced memories of childhood, brought on by:

1) Reading High Fidelity (that is not a book so much as a padded out version of ‘Top Five’ lists, mostly about pop songs)

2) Vacuuming the other day while listening to Credence Clearwater Revival and curiously experiencing no shame

3) My brother going to see Cat Stevens in concert next week, and

4) Driving my Ma’s car while she was away and listening to the pre-programmed radio stations play a steady (read: monotonous) soundtrack of ‘classic rock’ from the  60s, 70s, 80s and 90s

Collectively these experiences have helped me realise that I was subjected to certain music to such an extent while growing up that I have grown to have a deep affection for it, despite it being daggy and clichéd to the core (Rob Fleming from High Fidelity would be reeling).

And while today my tastes are shaped from an altogether different experience of music, I have come to realise that the mainstream pop music of my youth remains unsurpassed in providing pearls of wisdom to live by. And that when it comes to seeking advice for life in trouble times, we should look no further than these sages with guitars. Which leads to the second (slow coming) instalment of my look into song lyrics (the first instalment can be found here).

Songs to Live By (cheap, but not necessarily nasty, advice for navigating your way through the murky world of Life):

1. Someday Never Comes by Credence Clearwater Revival

First thing I remember was askin’ papa, “Why?”

For there were many things I didn’t know

And Daddy always smiled; took me by the hand

Sayin’, “Someday you’ll understand.”

But, I’m here to tell you now each and every mother’s son

You better learn it fast; you better learn it young

‘Cause, “Someday” Never Comes.”

There is something brutal about this message, yet it rather eloquently captures what is more commonly known as “shit happens”.

This song reminds me of my brother – he loves this band, and hearing it the other day it occurred to me that he could save himself a whole lot of money on therapy bills (he too is going through a divorce that is affecting his young children) by just turning to his classic rock heroes for wise advice, because really, are there any professionals or experts in the field of human emotion and relationships that can any better explain that often ‘shit happens’ for no fathomable reason, and that you would do well to save yourself from the outset the trouble of repeatedly asking? I think not. Just dial 1800-Credance-Clearwater-Revival.

2. Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp

Hold on to sixteen as long as you can

Change is coming round real soon make us woman and men

Oh yeah – life goes on

Long after the thrill of living is gone.

Depressing to say the least. And while you cant argue with the truism that life does indeed continue once the ‘thrill’ has worn off, it is entirely debatable as to when this would be. Some would argue that the downhill slope just doesn’t stop as you slip down the birth canal (those people be cynics, or the children of George W Bush) but others, like JCM, believe its all down hill post puberty, and advise that the best way to keep a spring in your step is to clutch dearly to a time of pimply skin, awkward sex, and crippling self consciousness.

If you find that the clock has ticked on by past this ‘prime’ time, just buy yourself a soda, draw some spots on your skin and head on down to the ‘brook behind the shady tree’ and see if you cant score yourself some adolescent sex – being chased off by the cops and hordes of angry parents could be just the kind of ‘thrill’ you need.

3. Wild World by Cat Stevens

If you want to leave take good care

Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear

there’s a lot of nice things turn bad out there

This is great, because not only does Cat Stevens reveal his astute observations of a world gone bad, but he incorporates the importance of high fashion – and in rhyme no less! And what’s more, it is useful advice, for how many times have we all been caught out losing the battle with corporate giants that have stolen our jobs and polluted our waterways, only to find we are still wearing our tracksuit pants?!

Much like Sex in the City 2, this song promotes the idea that no matter how fucked up things are, say, vacuous, mindless consumption and complete disregard for other cultures, there is nothing that a good dress and a nice pair of shoes wont fix…

4. Take it Easy by The Eagles

Take it easy, take it easy

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels

drive you crazy

Lighten up while you still can

Don’t even try to understand

Just find a place to make your stand,

and take it easy

Now the beauty of this advice by the Eagles lies in its apparent contradiction, while you are scratching your head asking how you are going to ‘make a stand’ while ‘taking it easy’ and whether this could mean lazing about in your hammock at the next old growth forest blockade, you have become distracted, and confused, which is entirely, I believe, the aim of the song.

This is reinforced by the fact that the verse begins with the dulcet, underlying Buddhist messages about not tuning into the potentially insanity inducing sound of your cogwheel mind, and then goes on to feed these very cogs a riddle.

5. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meatloaf

You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach

You’ll never drill for oil on a city street

I know you’re looking for a ruby

In a mountain of rocks

But there ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding

At the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

Meatloaf is many things to many people (not the least being a substantial meal) but often overlooked, in the man, not the meal, is his ability to deliver poetic wisdom for the everyman. He is kind of like one of those books that translate the likes of Shakespeare into layman’s terms; a kind of walking, talking ‘Life Advice For Dummies’ book.

Take, for example, the image of an empty Cracker Jack box failing to bear fruits of fortune, it is the kind poetic enlightenment that cuts through class barriers more effectively than a reverse discrimination campaign led by a PC politician. You don’t need a fancy education to know what the man is talking about, he delivers straight shooting, no nonsense realism that most politicians would be busy shyly skirting around and desperately trying to distract us from, that is: give up. There are the haves, and the have nots, and there is no use trying to mess with this timeless balance, so pack your metal detector away and accept your lot in life. Time saving advice, to say the least.

As an aside, I would like to point out that in the very same song Meatloaf goes on to cement his place as a man of poetic mastery with this line: You’ve been cold to me so long I’m crying icicles instead of tears

6. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

So many times, it happens too fast

You change your passion for glory


Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past


You must fight just to keep them alive

I have to say I agree with this all famous anthem, it can all happen a bit to fast when one day you are a child filled with nothing more than a fiery passion for rainbow flavoured Paddle Pop ice cream, and then next thing you know are all grown up and thoroughly fixated on the glory of the Regional Figure Skating Championships.

I think Survivor are right (and if their name is anything to go by, then they should know because it sounds like they learnt the hard way) we should hold fast to the dreams of our youth, aiming for nothing more than having Paddle Pop ice creams for breakfast and convincing our mums that we should spend the day swimming in the pool rather than going to school. Any objections to these dreams should be fought hard and fast against with the kind of vigour and determination showed by Rocky as he conquered those stairs…

Read Full Post »

Sitting around on the veranda thinking you can play harmonica is one thing, but actually knowing what the hell you are doing is another. Which is why some wonderful friends thought to purchase me some professional lessons with a man named Dan. Choosing not to take offence to the possible “you suck” message in this gift, I readily accepted.

Last Friday I finally had my first session with Dan, and as it turns out, the thing he most had to offer was a lesson in how NOT to teach music:

 

1. Do Not Be Physically Present

When your new student arrives on your suburban doorstep, don’t be home. This way, your neighbours – that are out on the street behaving freakishly similar to characters from a movie about the darkness that lurks in middle class suburbia; trimming hedges, sweeping leaves and lightly berating their children for ‘playing’ – will have someone to stare at, and whisper behind their hands about as your student meekly knocks on your door while your dogs screech and yelp uncontrollably in the background.

 

2. Never Make Courtesy Calls

Do not call said student and explain. Instead, have them call you. Begin by saying that you believe the student has the time wrong, but then quickly retreat from that assertion by laughing and acting as if you were ‘just joking’. This will help ‘break the ice’. Now change track and become self-depreciating in the hope that this seems humble – admit that you did indeed fail to be home for the appointment, but explain that this is perfectly reasonable because you forgot that you had drop your son off at a trumpet lesson, and that you are now no more than 2 minutes away. When you turn up to your waiting student with your son in tow, don’t mention the bit about how you just said you had to drop him at a trumpet lesson, and greet the student cheerily and take them inside.

 

3. Be Thoroughly Inconsistent

Tell your son that you are taking your new student down to the studio and that you will be back in an hour. Settle the student in an office chair lowered so low that they are practically sitting on the ground, while you place yourself in a much higher, throne-like office chair because this will help to clearly establish the Know Everything Vs Know Nothing teacher-student role. After some introduction banter ask the student if they brought their harmonica with them, and if they reply – “no, I asked if I should and you said not bring anything but myself” – don’t be thrown, this is clearly an unidentifiable ploy on the student’s part. You can raise your eyebrows in suspicion/questioning, but otherwise say nothing more on the matter except that they can use a ‘spare one’ of yours.

 

4. Self Promotion Is Key

Start things off with some basics on how to hold the harmonica correctly, but don’t feel pressured to maintain this focus on ‘teaching’ for long. Now would be a good time to mention your band and ask if the student has heard of you. Don’t be discouraged if they have not, instead, draw their attention to the fact that you are performing at a local festival on the weekend and then insist on halting the lesson so you can fire up your computer and search ‘the net’ for the festival program so they have all the correct and necessary details at their disposal should they want to see you play. (The solos that you perform later during the lesson may help to sway their decision, but we will get to that later). Now, after you have established the set times and shared this info with your new student, who may appear somewhat bewildered at this point, drop in some further uninvited info such as that you will probably be “having a blow with Ash Grunwald later that night too”, then have a bit of a “blow” on your harmonica to demonstrate.

 

5. Avoid Focus

Before getting back on with the lesson, just ask if you can be excused while you go upstairs to check on your son and let him know that you are down in the studio for the hour. Pop back in, offer a quick apology with your best ‘loveable lopsided grin’, and move along to teaching some basic rhythms. Have your student practice them on their own while you take out your mobile, send a text message and then make a call where you loudly converse with someone on the other end about the possible whereabouts of your other son.

 

6. End Lessons Early

After 10-15mins or so of having the student practice this tell them that you have an instructional CD with this on it and that they will probably find it easier to just follow that at home. Hand them a copy, and hold their gaze. If they don’t say anything, you will have to be the one to talk first. Perhaps something along the lines of ‘there you go then, just go home and practice’.

 

7. Answer All Phone Calls

When your phone rings take the call. Don’t tell them you are just finishing up a lesson and you will get back to them, but rather take the opportunity to talk freely and openly in front of your new student as well as to the prospective student on the line, this is a great promotion opportunity as you effectively have two people listening to you at once. Be sure to give a detailed run down of your background and really amp up how great your hour-long lessons are. If after this your new student happens to query you on the usual length of the lessons being an hour, quickly sit back down and rally along the lines of, “oh, I thought you had somewhere you needed to be, that’s why I finished so early”. This might not be the case, but it is imperative you don’t get caught out looking like you tried to short change someone, so stick to this track, continuing with something along the lines of, “that’s the vibe I was getting from you, yeah I was totally getting that vibe that you were done. But if not, hey, like if you want to keep going, that’s cool, lets keep going”. Then continue the lesson (which may have a slightly awkward ‘vibe’ now) with a few further rhythm combinations. Be sure to include lots of solo “blows” during this phase to both distract your student from your stuff up, and impress upon them your ‘blowing’ skills.

 

8. Scam Extra Money

Another 15mins or so will bring you up to the hour mark (if you include the time it took you to actually arrive, ‘surf the net’, check on your children, field a few calls and demonstrate lots of solos) so attempt to bring the lesson to a close again. Refer to the CD that the student now has resting in her bag, reminding her to just practice at home. As the student gets up to leave, now would be a good time to hit her up for her ‘purchases’, asking if she is going to “fix you up for the harmonica and CD now?!”. The new student may be thrown by this and act as if caught unawares, so don’t push the matter too hard, just tell them you will send an invoice and they can pay later. If they mention that you told them not to bring their own harmonica (which they may have left at home based on your initial advice) be willing to drop that charge, but on no account leave the CD that you made out to be giving them, uncharged for. However, be aware that they may go home and discover on your website that both a CD and a harmonica are included in the gift package price – so you might want to prepare a response to that should they query you, perhaps feign ignorance as to how that ‘special’ ended up on the website you yourself administer.

 

And there you have it. Follow these steps and you are sure to leave a *memorable* impression on all you new students, just like Dan who I will forever recall as the fucktard that taught me how not to run a music lesson.

 

Thanks Dan.

 

Read Full Post »

Before I explain how the cool cat with a caramel coated voice ends up in one of our backyards, first some backstory:

For the uninitiated, it was way back in 1970 that Rodriguez first stepped out in style, dropping Cold Fact, one of the most timeless, well rounded blend of Rock, Folk, Jazz, Soul, Blues albums ever made.

But despite its awesome music and beauty – it has poetically crafted socially conscious lyrics that can cut to the core, the album sank without a trace, much like the man himself.

For 30 years Rodriguez was an enigma – not even the label knew where to find him -. Barring a couple of sold out Australian tours in 1979 and 1981 (he never even became popular enough to do this in his home country) nothing had been heard of Rodriguez for almost 30 years when a journalist found him working as a labourer in Detroit in 1996.

He had no idea of his fame.

He has since toured to sell out crowds in South Africa, and this year he returned to Australia, who welcomed him with open arms and rave reviews.

And then invited him round for a Barbie.

Here is what some of the guests had to say about what they loved:

Johnno: The man’s a worker. He never let all that fame go to his head, even though that’s cuz he didn’t even know about it, still, he got on with things, you know? Hard working like. You could sit around, talk about how you did all your own paving around the pool, and he knew what you were on about, even chips in with a bit of brickie talk. That’s not bad for a darkie

Robbo: He likes a drink. Even though he’s a bit of a skirt, drinkin red wine instead of a good old-fashioned beer, you can’t knock him cuz he sure knows how to put it away. See him skull all those glasses? Some young bloke walked up mid set and shouted him another round, sorta like a dare even, but he downed that too. Bloody brilliant.

(note: some English folk were there too, like)

Mick: He likes the Oils. I heard he supported them back in tha 80s. Means he’s pretty much one of us. And you just kinda knew, that after the sun set and your all sittin around the fire, that if you asked him to do an Oils number, he’d know all the words, but probably not even think about their meaning, and that’s authentic like. Nah really, he’s good for a sing a long, you know? I reckon he’s even the type that’d let ya have a bash of his guitar once his done

Matty: He knows about Mary Jane. And he’s got that cool song that goes ‘sugar man’, but its not really about sugar, wink wink, nudge nudge. Cheeky buggar. The boys all love that one, always gets a good jeer, some sly grins and some high fives, goes right over the missus’ head but, she’s got no idea, probably thinks it’s a love song!

Here is what some of the guests didn’t like so much:

Dave: His dress sense. He didn’t turn up in no thongs. Came along decked out in all that black gear, wearin that wonky hat, and a bloody woman’s scarf! And his suspenders were broke, only one bloody clip holdin up one side of his pants over his old paunch, I mean, I know he’s done it rough all those years, but that’s no reason not to look respectable. Any one think he been shopping at some charity stop

Liz: His accent. Makes it bloody hard to talk to the bloke, no one really knew what he was on about, it was all ‘yeah mate, yeah, that’s right’ and just nodding along while you didn’t have a bloody clue in hell

Mel: The seating arrangements. That was real confusin’, cuz everyone wanted to come right, but how would we all fit? I mean, you couldn’t have everyone lumped into together, like, that’d be a bit fair, you had to think about sections, havin all oldies up front with their steaks and chips, and lettin the rest of the mob fight it out up back, bit of headache, had to even have Robbo do a bit of a stint on security, keeping the majority of people outta the way cuz you cant have people just mixin together willy nilly

Timmy: Knowin’ how to respond. You’d get ‘im doin’ a bit of a sing a long, takin some requests, singin that song about sugar that’s not about sugar, but how’d you respond like? That’s what got me. The old ducks were clapping and boppin and singin along, but that looked bloody naff, so I just thought you’re better off just standin’ there, or sittin still kinda like you’re watchin the TV, few times I gave the boys some high fives and stuff, you know, for those songs about havin sex n’ that, but that about does it. I know Ricky, he just brought along his camera, sat there firing off a few shots on his new digital SLR, that’d be a good way to do it I reckon

Sharon: His message. I dunno what he’s on about, like when he said, “free love, its expensive”, what the hells that suppose to mean? And then it got real crowded cuz obviously all the neighbours and the relos wanted ta come, made it a bit squishy up back, I even had one sheila stepping on my toe and getting in me road while I was tryin have a bit of a twirl around, and that just pissed me right off. Those things he says about measuring love and the state of the world, he can shove that, I jus wanted ta  job that bitch

Aaron: His encore. Honestly mate, I swear, he got up to leave, got all the way to the gate, them he comes back, and get this, starts singin this song, “I’m going to live, until I die”. I mean, c’mon, that’s a bit bloody fucking obvious in’it. Reckon that’s supposed to be some kinda joke or something? Shit, wouldn’t want him telling too many of those…

Read Full Post »

This line from Born To Be Wild has been lodged in my brain of late, which could have something to do with The Boy’s newfound infatuation with driving our parked car and the sense of parental duty I feel to provide him with a fitting soundtrack.

And while it may not be the best example of lyrical gold, it has at least inspired the idea of documenting some of my favourite lyrical moments in song.

This is in no way a Top Ten list, partly because it goes from one to six, but mostly because that would be an impossible task for a lyric lover like me.

So instead you could think of it in much the same way as you do of the ‘shuffle’ function on your Ipod, except that it won’t ‘randomly’ select tracks from the same five albums for six months in a row before it finally throws in a wild card from one of the other 8,458 songs on there.

So to kick it off, here are a few gems that have either been on my mind of late, or are lingering favourites…

1.  Joni Mitchell singing “I could drink a case of you / darling / and I would still be on my feet / oh, I would still be on my feet

This is like poetry for alcoholics. It’s one that the real drinkers amongst us get, and we think its beautiful. It’s like, filling your cup full of someone, 24 times over. And even though the demure and classy Joni Mitchell was no doubt referring to a case of wine, I like to localise the sentiment and think of it as, ‘I love you so much I could take you to an arvo barbie with all me mates and down a case of ya in one sitting, and not even fall ass over tit’.

Other highlights from the same song include, “if you want me I’ll be in the bar”, cuz where the fuck else would someone who likens not being able to get enough of someone to drinking a case of alcohol be found?

2. The entire lyrics of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, though in particular;

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / I’m begging of you please don’t take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / please don’t take him just because you can…I cannot compete with you, Jolene / you can have your choice of man / but I could never love again, Jolene

I particular like the repetitive use of the name, Jolene. Because even though poor Dolly sounds like a downtrodden heartbroken lover, she manages to make, Jolene, sound like someone that must be spoken to as though they have a dangerous mental health condition.

I also think this track has the potential to bring women together everywhere, this is mainly based on the fact that one night at the pub when some girlfriends and I started singing a drunken rendition of this number some old bird (we nicknamed her MJ cuz she was rockin the black shoes and white socks look) got up and started belting it out with us, and we all knew all of the words.

3. Now, there is no shame here people, and so much to the dismay of The Yang (aka the Music Nazi) I am going to publicly admit that I know the words of a Garth Brooks song.

Bear with me on this one, and you just may understand, because this is a man who gets what’s its like to come from the wrong side of the tracks. He kicks things off by signing

“Blame it all on my roots / I showed up in boots / And ruined your black tie affair….”

And then goes onto cement his knowledge of the lower classes with

Cause I got friends in low places / Where the Whiskey drowns / And the Beer chases my blues away / But I’ll be okay

Its rationales like this that has saved my best friends and my entire family a lifetime of therapy bills, and you cant argue with logic like that.

The other highlight from the song (if you can bear to listen) is the cheers, whoops, whistles, and drunken revelry taking place in the background. Rockin.

4. In keeping with this lowbrow theme, another all time favourite is Fancy by Bobby Gentry, who sings

I couldn’t see spendin’ the rest of my life  / with my head hung down in shame / You know I mighta been born just plain white trash / but Fancy was my name

Substitute ‘Fancy’ for ‘<RubyTwoShoes>’, ‘plain white trash’ for ‘Westie’, and the general theme of the song from ‘lady of the night rises from the depths of poverty and despair’ to ‘<RubyTwoShoes> moves from the Western suburbs to the inner city’, and this is pretty much the theme song of my life.

5. The ever delightful Gillian Welch crooning in Look At Miss Ohio that

she wants to do right / but not right now”,

because this is something that I totally get. It captures my feelings on everything from doing the dishes, all the way up to ending world poverty and environmental destruction.

Like, how I would love nothing better than to contribute to the completion of such goals, if only we could just, push it back a little, until after dinner, or after this TV shows finished, or after I drink this beer, or eat one more tin of tuna, or have one more el-cheapo holiday in the third world, or go on one more gas guzzling holiday in my methane farting prehistoric vehicle….

6. And there is this;

I can’t be precise, when people ask what I do with my life” by Kevin Renick.

I wish I had the rhyming genius of Kev and that I had have coined this winner myself so that when I was next presented with dilemma of how to answer the stock standard ‘so, what do you do?’ question that dominates social interactions (which I hate) I could just burst into song.

If only we all slipped into a little rhyming verse at these times, while I bags Kev’s line above, next time you’re at a party, or out to dinner, and someone asks you to define your life in one sentence, you could try something like;

“I wipe my kids bum, but it doesn’t make me glum, because I love being a mum!”

or

“I’m saving planet earth, to improve my feelings of self worth!”

The possibilities are endless.

Well, a list like this could go on forever, or it could go to six. I’m choosing six. But a word of advice before I depart, by the way of this little gem from Chic:

Remember: the whole world is a circus, don’t you be the clown”.

Read Full Post »

Its that time of year where the days are blistering and searing and you cant escape the heat until the sun slowly falls off the edge of the sky, and you crack open can after can of cold beer but it does nothing to allay the hot climbing up your face like the rising red line on a thermometer.

And then the night comes and the air is warm and sweet, lights are swung up to illuminate the tops of trees, and beers are drunk under the wings of fruit bats.

That time when, for a brief interlude, the city turns it on.

At a festival in city parkland in the harsh heat of the day, I saw Cat Power. The mid afternoon sun bore down on the sweeping concrete space before the stage chasing away every last speck of shade away. She was dressed all in black and even from up the back I could see the sweat dripping off her. The sun caught her and the band unguarded, casting them in a kind of overexposed light. It was a setting so far from the dimly lit, dingy basement bar watering holes that one imagines when listening to her mellow melancholy sounds, but despite how jarring the setting was, there was something perfect about how she slowed the day down, how she sang and moved as though she were walking through quick sand and how the drummer from the Dirty Three sat back deep in the stage with the most languid style of drumming I had ever seen.

Hard to imagine that on the same day I bounced to the bass heavy black man’s music of Roots Manuva. The cool cat was dressed more appropriately for the mid summer sun in a dapper white suit that was cut off at the knees. Playing tracks mostly from the new album meant the air was full of grimy London bass heavy sounds with a detectable reggae flavour. But typically, the crowd ‘moment’ came when they played their old hit Witness the Fitness.

It was a whole new day when we set out to see Smoke and Mirrors and Juke Barritone at the Famous Spiegeltent. We started our evening off by chasing some cheap afternoon drinks at the Hotel William.

While we might have been imagining summery gin and tonics with palm trees, clinking ice cubes, fresh limes and water views, what we really had were chairs stained black from soot and grime, paint peeling from the walls, ongoing construction inside the building, walls stripped back to crumbling concrete and dungeon pit toilets down in the basement hole below.

While I was at the bar I over heard the following exchange:

Old Regular (the kind that comes to bar and has his beer poured his beer without him having to say a word): he’s been at it again

Barwoman: Oh, yeah, I know, yesterday I had to peg a fucking highlighter at his head to get him to stop

Old Regular: (laughing) No. I mean now. He’s at it again

Barwoman: your fucking kidding.

Barwoman (turning to Barman): go and fuckin’ get up ‘im

Barman (rounding the bar and heading over to the lone drinking sitting in front of the TV): put yours hands on the table (repeats getting louder) hands on the fucking table where we can see them!

Needless to say, the Famous Spiegeltent was a welcome step up in style. At least all the wankers we saw there were so in the colloquial sense, rather than the bone fide variety.

The little mirror tent from Belgian is held together with not a nail to speak of. The oddly matched panels of old wood, the lovers booths lining the outside rim and circle of stain glass ceiling windows all make it feel like you a walking into some crafty old woman’s belly full of secrets.

And once Smoke and Mirrors filled this little den, our socks were really knocked off. iOTA was smashingly good, with a captivating stage presence that I cant imagine he had as a recording artist. Queenie van de Zandt was a spellbinding singer. The strong men were eye popping. The trapeze artist was awe-inspiring. The magician was fittingly mystifying and the band rocked it. I loved the whole show from start to finish and I emerged from the tent babbling and buzzing.

On another day, same tent, Laura Marling had the same magic. The songbird from Ireland that sang her pack-a-punch folk songs barefoot and in quasi yogi balance postures, leaving us back against the wall and breathless.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for my night out at the Becks Bar to see Grandmaster Flash. It might have been my own foolish fault to expect the Grand Master to get me dancing from start to stop. I have seen him before, full of hip hop hype, but even still, he played some good stuff saying that ‘if it’s got a beat, I’ll play it’.

I don’t know what the requirements were this time around.  Maybe, ‘if it’s a crowd pleasing top 40 song I’ll play it for a bit, then scratch over it a whole lot, then drop out the sound completely so the audience can sing along?!’.

Whatever the guiding principle was, all it did was lead us to a sad, sad land, where people ‘put their hands in the air’ (as repeatedly instructed to by the Grand Master, reinforced by ever helpful PowerPoint type presentations on the massive screens either side of him – stunning visuals to say the least) and left their feet firmly planted in one spot.

People seemed to revel in the fact that he played songs they knew, and perhaps that pleasure outshone the need to have a decent sound system, any room to move, and hey, even the previously considered essential component of having a beat (the songs that did have a pulse were quickly dropped out for the aforementioned audience participation segments, where group monotone singing did a good job of replacing music to move to).

At the one point he did play a lesser known song, the guy next to me quizzically said to his girlfriend, “don’t know this one?!” as if questioning what the hell was happening. Before knowingly concluding that it, “must be old school”.

I mean look, I knew I wouldn’t get a New York block party from 1983, but I didn’t think it would be that bad.

The Grandmaster did not cut faster. He did nothing to lure us into a world of funk and groove and soul, nothing to help people shrug off the sluggishness of the everyday and get their feet movin. He did nothing to entertain us.

Am I naive? Do I expect too much? Or just getting old and cynical?

All I can say is that now the little tent from Belgian has been folded away for another year, thank God for my never fail lounge room dancefloor and the wealth of my boyfriend’s music collection.

Read Full Post »

I borrowed the idea from a friend to compile an annual mix CD this year. But in slight departure from the convention set by my friend, my “2009” mix fails to really include songs that are actually from 2009. And in a further, more enthusiastic, departure from her idea, I have gone ahead and given a long list of reasons for this (see ‘album notes’).

This CD actually exists in the world outside cyber space as a real, tangible object you can hold in your hands, so suspend disbelief, close your eyes, and try with all your mite to just picture what it could look like as you click on the link and enjoy the miracle of sound…

My 2009 in Song!

  1. Here comes the sun – The Beatles
  2. Next Lifetime – Erykah Badu
  3. Looking for the heart of Saturday – Tom Waits
  4. Lovely Day – Bill Withers
  5. If you don’t think – Tammy Mongomery
  6. Another Day – Jamie Lidell
  7. Heavy Cross – The Gossip
  8. Rumours – Capital Letters
  9. The sun goes down (Extended version) – Level 42
  10. Helicopter – M.Ward
  11. One of these days – Eilen Jewell
  12. Three is the magic number –  Bob Dorough

http://rapidshare.com/files/323674400/My_2009_In_Song.zip

‘My 2009 in song’ album notes – Yes, that’s right, album notes! On a personal, homemade, mix cd. Now you know how much I care…

1. This was one of the first songs I listened to on my newfound Ipod  (a surreptitious gift from the universe, keenly spotted by The Yang one day in the park) and it made me gleefully happy. The sweet voice and feeling of the song create the exact same mood as the sun beginning to peek out after a grey rainy morning, or a long cold winter.

It is unsurprisingly then, to learn that this is exactly what inspired the song. It was written by George Harrison in response to English winters that feel never ending. Funnily enough, John Lennon is nowhere to be heard on this number.

2. Having owned this song for years, it wasn’t until one nondescript day in 2009 that I paid the lyrics any mind. They tell a slightly poignant story, beautifully. Making the childlike notion of ‘next lifetime’ sound so simplistic that it is altogether alluring.

The film clip, which whimsically depicts this notion of reincarnating lives and souls, was actually directed by Erykah Badu, the ‘first lady of Neo-Soul’.

3. On a cold winter’s night, huddled by the heater, warmed by red wine and conversation with The Yang, Tom Waits sang this one to me at his sing-song best, noticeable for its slight departure from his signature gravelly growl, hauntingly beautiful in its melody and melancholy.

Music critic Daniel Durchholz once described this trademark growl as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.”

4. Another song that after being unassuming for years, decided to put its hand up and say ‘look at me, look at me’. And so I did, and it was beautiful and uplifting.

Earth, Wind and Fire producer, Skip Scarborough, wrote the music for this song. Bill Withers was so taken by Skip that he became the inspiration for the lyrics – “Skip was a very nice, gentle man. The way Skip was, every day was just a lovely day. If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically”.

5. I doubted over the inclusion of this one, but something about the rocky, punchy rhythm, and the attitude of expression – the backhanded way she tries to tell someone she loves them, just reminded me of how I communicate to The Yang.

This song was actually written by James Brown for Tammy Montgomery, who is better known for her duets such as ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ with Marvin Gaye. In 1967 she collapsed on stage, falling into the arms of her rumoured lover, Marvin. She died shortly after from a brain tumor at the age of 24.

6. I consider this an all time favourite ‘happy song’. Perfectly composed with bumping brass and horns and gospel backing chorus to put a bounce in your feet and a smile on your face. It’s impossible to listen to it and not feel good.

Now that Jamie Lidell is a soul-pop sensation (he has had great commercial success with last two albums, and Elton John is said to be a fan) much is made of his glitchy, experimental, electronic underground past. But, Lidell says, “I made Muddlin Gear (his first album) for a friend and it was tailored to his tastes. The fact that it now represents me is funny, really, because at the same time I had a soul band called Balzac, very similar to my band now”.

7. I heard this song in a shopping centre and it just stuck in my head. I had no idea of the name of the song, or who was even singing it, but one night I got on the internet and did some searching around the one line and riff that had lodged in my brain, and I found it! I was so proud of myself for tracking it down, and I felt weirdly connected to the wider world because now I was into Top 40 music.

This album is produced by omnipresent, superstar producer Rick Rubin and is the long awaited follow up to Standing In The Way of Control, the title track of which made headlines when Ditto said it was written in response George Bush’s stance on same sex marriage – “I wrote the chorus to try and encourage people not to give up. It’s a scary time for civil rights, but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting.”

8. This song literally does.not.stop. coming up on random on my Ipod. Insistent on talking to me, telling me its heartbreaking story, all the while sounding so sweet while it does it.

It’s by Capital Letters, who, back in 1979, were the first homegrown group to be released on the now legendary Greensleeves label, but sadly, and strangely, they fell off the rader after delivering this extremely successful album, which is called “Headline News”.

9. One day while listening to The Yang’s radio show, I learnt that this was one of his fav songs of the day. He said he kept finding himself playing it at sunset at his gigs down on the harbour, and that today, he would give us a treat and play the extended version. I fell in love with the song, and with The Yang all over again for loving this kooky disco tune with some geeky guy doing far out funky.

This would prove to be the first UK Top Ten hit for Level 42, who had a long, up-and-down career through the 80s and 90s. They gained a lot of their fame from Mark King’s (founding member, bass player and singer) “percussive slap-bass” guitar technique, that was the driving groove behind many of the band’s hits. King actually picked this style up from watching American funk players that came into the London music store in which he worked.

10. A stand out track on Transfiguration of Vincent, this has a really great foot-stomping tempo that makes it one of the only upbeat songs on the album.

The album itself was received with pretty muted reviews, with many believing his best work lays in his other releases. One blogger, although conceding that ‘Helicopter’ is a stand out track, went on to say that it was a straightforward song with a “melody line lifted straight out of Paul Simon’s Graceland”.

11. Eilen Jewel had to make an appearance here, for it was in 2009 in which revealed herself to me. She has a wonderfully rich sound, a unique ‘ye-olde’ treasure to find in these modern manic times.

This is from her third album that includes what was previously excluded on her other albums – the influence of the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Animals and the Kinks. These influences are lovingly blended into her roots, blues, country, folk sound.

12. “A man and a woman had a little baby / Yes, they did  / They had three in the family, / That’s a magic number.”  If this doesn’t perfectly, and beautifully, capture my life in 2009, I don’t know what does.

The creator of this tune is somewhat of a bebop, jazz legend, and was one of the few vocalists to record with Miles Davis. This track is the result of Bob and his pals whipping up a little counting and multiplication magic (as part of a now famed educational animation series from the 70s) and was actually sampled by De La Soul for their own  ‘The Magic Number’ track.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »