I’ve got a LOT of posts I want to make over this four-day weekend – reviews of The People’s Manifesto by Mark Thomas, This Town Will Never Let Us Go by Lawrence Miles, and I, Claudius and Claudius The God by Robert Graves, a post about Batman comics, a review of the new MoffWho, my incredibly belated review of Asterios Polyp, my contribution to Plok’s recent ‘meme’…
It may be that not all of these will get written in the next three and a half days, especially since I’m also trying desperately to recover data from a nearly-full terabyte external hard drive I dropped on the floor (it doesn’t have that many bad blocks, but unfortunately the boot sector is one of them – I could use photorec, but don’t really fancy hand-renaming and tagging tens of thousands of files, especially all the Beach Boys bootlegs – “Does this version of Barbara Ann sound more like the 1971 touring band or the 1972 one?”)…
Right now, however, I’ve got a migraine, so here’s a playlist of (mostly) relaxing, fun, light music.
I Am The Walrus by Papa Doo Run Run is an oddity. Papa Doo are a band from California who normally do painfully faithful recreations of early ’60s pop (they’re made up of people who used to be sidemen in the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean backing bands), and the album this is from is no exception, with karaoke-esque versions of California Girls, .Walk Like A Man, Eight Days A Week and so on. But this track is different – the Beatles’ psychedelic classic, reimagined as a one-minute surf guitar instrumental. It works astonishingly well…
Go Away Boy by The Pearlfishers is the first of three songs from Caroline, Now – a favourite album of mine that recently turned up on Spotify, consisting of remakes by (mostly) Scottish indie musicians (members of Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian, and so on) of obscure Beach Boys tracks. This one is a song Brian Wilson wrote for an out-of-print 1983 album by his ex-wife’s band The Honeys, and is girl-group-as-torch-song. Absolutely gorgeous.
Oh, Oh, Ooh, Ei, Ei, Ei, Wo Immer Es Auch Sei by Daisy Door and Peter Thomas was the song Tilt suggested I enter for the Pop World Cup round two, and I won with it…
Tam Lyn Retold by The Imagined Village is from the first Imagined Village album (the first is more interesting, the second better music). The Imagined Village are essentially an attempt by folk musicians to say folk you to the Bastard Nazi Party. The BNP have tried recently to use traditional English folk music as an expression of ‘ethnically British’ (i.e. white) ‘values’ (i.e. bigotry), BNP leader DickIbegyourpardonNick Griffin having claimed Eliza Carthy as one of his favourite musicians. So The Imagined Village are a loose grouping of musicians centred around Chris Wood and Martin and Eliza Carthy, who bring in musicians from the various traditions that have *added* to Britain over the last sixty years, and rework traditional English music with those influences. In this case, this is the traditional song Tam Lyn reworked by dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, dance musicians Transglobal Underground, and Eliza Carthy, in a modern setting.
All I Wanna Do by June And The Exit Wounds is another one off Caroline, Now – a remake of a Mike Love/Brian Wilson song from Sunflower. I always thought this, even in its original version, sounded just like New Order – especially the middle eight (“Ooh when I sit and close my ey-eyes”).
It Might As Well Be Dumbo by The High Llamas is my personal favourite of their tracks.
The Diner Song by Jake Holmes is very much of a piece with his work on Genuine Imitation Life Gazette and Watertown (two of my very favourite albums). Those who like late-60s Scott Walker might like this one.
That’s What You Think by Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys is a lovely, fun version of a 1920s jazz song, all clanking banjos and ukuleles.
Miss Clarke And The Computer by Roy Wood is one of the saddest songs ever – a song from a computer who’s in love with an engineer who is dismantling him. Wonderful instrumentation as well – what sounds like ‘cello, bouzouki, acoustic guitar, double bass and glockenspiel, all played by Wood himself.
Wax Minute by Michael Nesmith is from Nesmith’s third solo album after he quit the Monkees, Tantamount To Treason. It’s generally considered one of his weaker efforts, but this is an astonishingly literate lyric (“As you complicate things greatly since you came into my life/Old veneers and stately postures wax minute within your sigh/And the taxing way of adjusting to all the thoughts which you reveal/Only incites me to motion, well that’s the crux of your appeal”) and while the melody is a little too close to In My Life, Nesmith’s vocal here is possibly the greatest of his career.
Yellow Man by Ella Fitzgerald is a cover of the Randy Newman song. Ella was such a professional singer, and sold songs so well even when she hated them, that I honestly can’t tell if she ‘gets’ the joke here or not – and I’m not sure if it would be better if she did or didn’t…
You Don’t Have To Walk In The Rain by The Turtles is from one of the great unsung albums of the 60s, Turtle Soup. This album was essentially the Turtles’ attempt to do their own Village Green Preservation Society – to the extent that they got Ray Davies to produce the album. The end result, with its combination of California pop and British toytown psych, resembles nothing so much as the Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle. This track also has my favourite line of any lyric ever – “I look at your face, I love you anyway”.
Rainbow Skies by Kie (not K*Le as Spotify have it) is the third song here from Caroline Now. This one is a song that had at the time not been legally released before, and it’s one of my very favourite late Brian Wilson songs. Kie’s version is very close to Wilson’s recording, but with far better vocals.
And to finish off we have Love Songs by Margo Guryan. This song has been a favourite of mine for a while, but this demo version is if anything even better than the released one.