For those of you who are uninterested in my increasingly recondite ramblings on comics, continuity, canon, quantum physics and Doctor Who, here’s some music…
Incidentally, I lose track of what I have and haven’t included in these, but I hope there’s always enough new stuff to keep people interested…
Come To The Sunshine by Harper’s Bizarre is one of Van Dyke Parks’ early songwriting/production works, and a little soft-pop classic.
Soulful Dress by Sugar Pie Desanto is a Chess R&B track from the early 60s, about dressing up before going out.
Vox Wah Wah Ad by The Electric Prunes is just what it says it is – the Electric Prunes demonstrating the proper use of the wah-wah pedal.
It’s A Hard Business by Wild Man Fischer and Rosemary Clooney is… wait a second… let me say that again… by Wild Man Fischer and Rosemary Clooney. Yes, that Wild Man Fischer and that Rosemary Clooney. The homeless schizophrenic outsider musician and the jazz singer who starred in White Christmas and was George Clooney’s aunt. What will I find on Spotify next – Perry Como Sings Jandek?
Mrs Toad’s Cookies by Klaatu is from the last album by the Canadian band, who were most famous for writing Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft and for many people thinking they were the Beatles in disguise. I can *sort of* see the Beatles similarity here – especially McCartney – but to be honest it sounds like a collaboration between Jeff Lynne and Mike Batt. Which is no bad thing…
Wild Man Fischer and Rosemary Clooney?!
Ahem… Lighten Up, Morrissey by Sparks is a message I think we can all agree with…
Wagons West by The National Pep is another one by my own band, but again I do actually think it’s a good song. I wrote the music, my friend Tilt wrote the words. Tilt sings and plays drums, I play all the other instruments and Laura Denison also sings.
The Father, The Son And The Friendly Ghost by The Native Shrubs Of The Santa Monica Mountains is a soft-pop/bluegrass song about Casper The Friendly Ghost, Abraham Lincoln and Trotsky, a Beach Boys-esque waltz-time middle eight (with a tiny hint of Zappa in the changes in the end) contrasting with a common-time banjo-plucking verse.
Living In Sin by Janet Klein is another of her naughty covers of songs from the early part of the last century.
Wild Man Fischer and Rosemary Clooney?
Eleanor by Bob Lind is a great little track from someone who’s mostly only known for the one song Elusive Butterfly. This one’s very, very Lee Hazelwood.
Havana Moon by Chuck Berry is one of the earliest knock-offs of Louie Louie, performed solo by Berry on guitar and vocals.
Misty Roses by Colin Blunstone is one I’m sure I’ve included in a playlist before, but it’s also absolutely gorgeous. A Tim Hardin cover, with a fantastic string arrangement, this is one of those tracks that everyone should own.
Don’t Fear The Reaper by The Beautiful South is a cover version of the Blue Oyster Cult song. I used to live round the corner from Paul Heaton, and he used to go to our local pub on quiz nights, but after my sisters started coming and blatantly gawping at him he stopped going (unsure if it was coincidence…)
On Again! On Again! by Jake Thackray has the greatest opening line of any song – “I love a good bum on a woman, it makes my day/To me it is palpable proof of God’s existence a posteriori“. Anyone who can make bilingual puns in Latin while doing Carry On style humour is all right with me. This song got Thackray pegged as a misogynist by many, who couldn’t see that it was just possibly tongue in cheek (lines like “Please understand that I love and admire the frailer sex/and I honour them every bit as much as the next/misogynist” were probably not meant to be taken entirely seriously…)
And Go Back by Crabby Appleton is a great glammed-up powerpop track, produced I think by Curt Boettcher (it certainly sounds like his work – it sounds like his songwriting as well, actually)
WILD MAN FISCHER AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY?!
That last post of mine threw me off my posting stride a bit, because of the sheer weight of response, by email, on Twitter, in the comments here and in the comments to Debi’s repost of it (where our one troll went to hang out – I apologise, Debi, for getting a bit too angry there with someone who is, after all, a fellow human being, albeit one who wants to condemn millions of other fellow human beings to death because she doesn’t like them…).
The response has been, frankly, ludicrous – I was even interviewed by the Wall Street Journal today in my lunch break (I are big media pundit! I am the new Iain Dale or something), which is frankly surreal, given the content of that last post – I would have thought “The NHS isn’t designed to deliberately kill old people” was as uncontroversial a statement as one could make. I wonder what other misconceptions about cherished national institutions I’ll have to try to dispel in international media. Maybe next week I’ll be telling Le Monde that Last Of The Summer Wine isn’t a paedophile ring but a whimsical Yorkshire comedy show…
Anyway, thank you to everyone who retweeted, commented or linked that post of mine, and now I’ll get back to the stuff I *meant* to be posting this week. Tomorrow there’ll be a post on comics and the day after the continuation of my guide to my blogroll, but for now here’s a playlist.
My Mom Is Tor Johnson’s Mom by The Native Shrubs Of The Santa Monica Mountains is a fantastic song that my friend Tilt linked me to last week. For those who don’t know, Tor Johnson was the bald wrestler who appeared in many Ed Wood films, most notably Plan 9 From Outer Space. This song reminds me of my friend Blake Jones, but for a reference other people might get, the closest I can imagine is if The Dukes Of Stratosphear had done a Frank Zappa pastiche…
Think Carefully For Victory by The National Pep is one of two songs by my own band I’m including here (yes, Spotify even has *us* on it now) because I think they genuinely fit. It’s a jangly pop song for which I wrote the music and Tilt the words. The lineup on this one (TNP has a *very* fluid membership) is me on guitars and keyboards, Tilt on vocals and drums, Gavin Robinson on mandolin (which we mixed too low, I think), Laura Denison on one line of vocal and Albert Freeman (of Wilful Missing) on
some African instrument I forget the name of Đàn Bầu.
Save The Last Dance For Me by “Ike And” Tina Turner is a Phil Spector-produced, Jack Nitzsche arranged version of the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman classic. Brian Wilson very obviously ripped off the backing track for this for Heroes & Villains.
Bicarbonate Of Chicken by Ivor Cutler is about ordering bicarbonate of chicken in a restaurant.
Just One Look by Doris Troy is better known, in Britain at least, for a vastly inferior version by the Hollies, but this is the original. This was actually originally a demo, but it was released unchanged and made the US top ten. In the intro, you can definitely hear the influence this record and others like it had on early reggae…
Through The Net by Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers is from Pandemonium Ensues, probably Tilbrook’s strongest album since East Side Story. This one’s very Kinksy.
Common People – Live by Pulp is a recording which always brings back memories for me, as I was at the Glastonbury where this was recorded, and saw Pulp quite by chance, having no intention to see them perform (I’d seen them on some late-night Channel 4 thing and dismissed them as crappy electropop based on a couple of minutes, and hadn’t heard this, which was a huge hit single at the time). But it was the most astonishing experience of my life. I’ve seen Pulp and Cocker solo live quite a few times since, and they’ve always been good, but at that gig Cocker was simply the most astonishingly charismatic performer I’ve ever seen, and every moment is etched in my brain fourteen years later. (Christ, fourteen years? That can’t be right, surely? 1995 was only a little while ago…). This recording was originally a b-side to the Mis-Shapes/Sorted For Es & Whizz CD single, but is now a bonus track on the reissued Different Class.
Baby Please Don’t Go by Big Joe Williams is another song that’s usually much better known in a beat-group cover version (the version by Them), but I prefer (just) the original, just vocal, sparse guitar and harmonica.
Beat Head by Candypants is included in this as part of my ongoing campaign to get Lisa Jenio recognised as one of the real greats in rock/pop music. I think this one might be about something naughty…
Hominy Grove by Van Dyke Parks is one of many great songs from Jump!, his album loosely based around the Uncle Remus stories.
Nasty Dan by Johnny Cash is another one from The Johnny Cash Children’s Album. I always liked Cash doing this sort of material at least as much as the dark ‘man in black’ stuff for which he’s better known.
Time Will Carry On by The Wackers is a nice bit of 70s harmony pop that, to me at least, stays just the right side of Bread or America.
I Got You Babe by Tiny Tim is Tiny Tim being both Sonny and Cher, accompanied by his ukulele.
Don’t Smoke In Bed by Peggy Lee is a song that, I’m ashamed to say, I first got to know from k.d. lang’s vastly inferior cover version. I could listen to Peggy Lee sing anything…
And Jaded by The National Pep is another of my collaborations with Tilt (I’d say the writing here is about 55/45 in his favour), and the closest I’ve ever come to realising the sound I hear in my head in a recording studio. It’s a shame that Tilt didn’t find our musical collaboration a particularly happy one, as I think the results were superb, if I do say so myself. On this, Tilt and Laura share the vocals, Tilt does drums, Blake Jones does the theremin and melodica on the tag, my wife Holly adds woodwinds, and I played guitar, all the keyboard parts, and ukulele (and mandolin? I know I had a mandolin in the studio but don’t remember recording a mandolin part, but I *think* I can hear one on one of the choruses). I’m very proud of this one, and I don’t think you’ll hear music like it anywhere else.