Before I start, I’d just like to apologise for the lack of content for a week – work’s finally calmed down, but I’ve essentially spent the last week asleep as a reaction to the lifting of four months’ constant stress.
Anyway, I’ve decided that to start posting again I’m going to do another hyperpost like series, this one starting off with thoughts on authorship rather than canon. I’m going to talk about Cerebus, Smile, Wednesday Comics and Strange Adventures, Darkseid and Jack Kirby, and copyright law, among other things. I’ll also try, next week, to get more Beatles stuff posted.
But in the meantime, here’s a playlist I’ve put together…
Hand 19 by Andy Partridge And Harold Budd is from an album I only discovered existed through Spotify, a collection of somewhat new-agey jazzy stuff. I almost wondered at first if it was a different Andy Partridge, but it has his melodic fingerprints…
How Sweet To Be An Idiot by Neil Innes is probably Innes’ most famous solo song, thanks to appearing on a couple of Monty Python things (and being ripped off by Oasis for Whatever). It’s deserved though – Innes is a *shockingly* underrated songwriter, easily as major a talent as someone like Ray Davies, who gets overlooked because so much of his material is hilariously funny, so the craft (an the often very poignany emotions) underlying it gets lost.
Buttons Of Your Mind by The Scaffold is a rather lovely B-side to their novelty hit Lily The Pink. It sounds like a poor man’s Bonzo Dog Band – which is, of course, what The Scaffold essentially were – but they have their moments. (For those who don’t know, The Scaffold were a comedy group which featured the poet Roger McGough and Paul McCartney’s brother).
Stagger Lee by Mississippi John Hurt is still my favourite version of this – a completely different song to the more well-known one performed by everyone from Lloyd Price to Nick Cave, but containing many of the same lines.
Season Cycle by XTC is, amazingly, from the same album as Dear God. Rather amazing that the band capable of such a terrible song about atheism could also be capable of such a wonderful song about religious awe at nature. Rather obviously ripped off from Sagittarius’ version of My World Fell Down, but none the worse for that.
Mr Guru by Laurie Biagini is a fun piece of 60s pastiche from someone who does a lot of that sort of thing. It actually sounds rather like Bananarama, but in a good way, if you can believe that.
Good Sounds by Linus Of Hollywood is one of the best pure pop tracks of the last decade – an absolutely gorgeous, fun chorus with some rather disturbing lyrics – “I was just thinking/We were both drinking/So we should fool around/Things would be much easier if you’d just stay the night”, along with a promise to ‘play your favourite record if you promise that you’ll stay’ is rather too creepy to be an effective pickup line, or at least so I hope…
Cross Hatched World by Chewy Marble is by far my favourite song from last year’s Modulations, their first album in several years, a Beach Boysy track about drawing.
Loveland by The Mello Cads is a fantastic piece of lounge music pastiche, based around Come On In by The Association (which if I remember rightly was the theme music for lead Cad David Ponak’s radio show for a few years) but with some rather incongruous Indian stylings and backwards guitar on top. The Mello Cads are one of about a million bands with Probyn Gregory and Nelson Bragg in, always a sign of excellence.
I’ve Loved Her So Long by Neil Young is from his eponymous first solo album, which I still consider the best thing he ever did. Jack Nitzsche’s arrangements, and the more melodic stuff Young was doing then, place this firmly in ‘interesting LA pop’ territory with The Monkees, Love and Jimmy Webb, rather than the hippie singer-songwriter or proto-grunge furrows he spent much of the rest of his career in.
Flaming Carrot Theme Song by Wild Man Fisher is a theme for the great surrealistic 80s indie comic.
Don’t Make Me Over by The Swinging Blue Jeans is one of the great late-Merseybeat singles, obviously no match for Dionne Warwick’s original, sung as it is by a slightly flat Scouser, but that in itself is its charm – when Ray Ennis sings “Accept me for what I am”, it’s a flawed human doing so, rather than a vocal goddess.
Killing Floor by Howlin’ Wolf is the song which Led Zeppelin… er… homaged in The Lemon Song. However, good as Led Zep are, Howlin’ Wolf is roughly ten quadrillion times better – he sounds like he could bite Robert Plant’s head off between phrases.
And Long Black Limousine by Elvis Presley is a masterpiece of resentment and nastiness. She went off and said she’d be in a fancy car – well look at her now, she’s in a limousine all right – a hearse. That’ll teach her for wanting to do something with her life, won’t it, the stuck-up bitch? She’s dead now and everyone can see her funeral. It’s a thoroughly unpleasant song, as so many of those in this playlist are, but dear god Elvis’ voice in the last verse after the key change… what a singer…