Saturday, 19 March 2011

Get Back - The Beatles Live at the Rooftop Concert

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged!

Quick Hit

“Get Back”, The Beatles, 1969 (Apple Building concert)

On Thursday January 30, 1969 the Beatles made their final public appearance atop the ‘Apple Records’ building in London England. This was a very historical moment for pop music. They played an ad hoc lunchtime concert conceived only days earlier, as they practiced to lay down the final studio tracks as a band forever.

Saturday Afternoon spinning............Davo-rama picks.

Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells a Story

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like a Wheel

Red Rider - Neruda

Bad English - When I See You Smile

Sometimes I wonder how I'd ever make it through, Through this world without having you I just wouldn't have a clue...

From the Sappy Song Department...

“When I See You Smile” Bad English, 1989

He was in ‘The Babys” and then struck it big in 1984 with ‘Missing You” - still one of my favourite sappy songs. John Waite, (not to be confused with Tom Wait), is arguably one of the best male pop voices of the late seventies/eighties.

‘Bad English’ was formed in 1988 at the height of the ‘hair band’ era.  The name was supposedly derived from when John missed a shot while playing pool and someone commented that he had ‘bad english’  on the ball.  The band was primarily made up of the members of recently disbanded Journey - basically replacing Steve Perry with John Waite.

The Baby’s had a hit with “Everytime I think of You” in 1979, a soaring ballad showcased Waite’s phenomenal range.  This was a huge song in the U.K and the breakout to the U.S. market for John.

In 1984 “Missing You’ from his first solo album pushed Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It’ out of the solid number one position it was holding.  (The 2007 rerecorded version with Allison Kraus on her “A Hundred Miles of More: A Collection” is great by the way.)

 ‘When I See You Smile’ from 1989 was written by Dianne Warren who also wrote ‘Don’t Want to Miss a Thing;’ (Aerosmith) and “How Do I Live” (LeAnn Rhimes) to name a few of the Academy Award winning songs she penned.

The lighters were bobbing back and forth in the dark and the lovers in various states of consciousness hugged and huddled together and cooed as the veteran John Waite belted out his one and only epic hair band ballad in arenas across North America. Cell phones just don’t have the same impact as the bic lighters, but at least no ones poufy, hairsprayed  ‘do catches on fire - the smell kind of takes away from the ambience!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday evening sounds - spinning on the Davo-rama turntable.

U2 - Boy

Jeff Beck - Emotion & Commotion

Nirvana - Live in N.Y.

Van Halen - Van Halen

Bob Marley - Could You Be Loved

"Money can't buy life" said Bob Marley in 1981

Fun Fact of the Week

Bob Marley was raised as a catholic and converted to Rastafarian. He became the voice of social change in Jamaica and the voice of repression everywhere.  On his death bed his final words to his eldest son Ziggy, were” Money can’t buy life”. He died at age 36 in 1981 from cancer, but his deep influence lives on.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Chris Rea - The Road To Hell Full Version

She said "Son, what are you doing here? My fear for you has turned me in my grave" I said "Mama, I come to the valley of the rich myself to sell" She said "Son, this is the road to Hell"

Album of the week

“The Road to Hell” by Chris Rea (1988)

Chris Rea has one of those voices, you know, like Tom Wait or that guy in the Crash Test Dummies, what is his name? oh ya Brad Roberts (you know, The Superman song, it’s been a long time!) You either like these kinds of baritones or you can’t stand them. I take them in context – but only if the song is good!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sniff'n The Tears - Driver's Seat- Rock Song

Pick up your feet, got to move to the trick of the beat...........

70's Pick of the Week

‘Driver’s Seat” by Sniff N’ the Tears (1978)

The late seventies was a time of transition. We were moving from disco and punk to new wave and the era was ending for all the guitar bands – well at least for a while till the hair bands got going.

Like Dire Straits, this British band was in this strange ‘never-land’ of music. This is for sure a very well crafted pop song but it defies classification. It is certainly an odd recipe that makes this song what it is. There seem to be elements of blues/country,  electronic of new wave, and lyrics and cadence give it almost a folk-like feel. Odd as the recipe may be, it cooks up well, clearly reflecting the diversity of musicians that were assembled to arrange and record it. . The bonus was, you could dance to it, and didn’t have to wear a white suit and snaggle- tooth.

The album itself is worth a listen. Songs, “New Lines on Love” and “The Thrill of it All” are both decent pop tunes.

Paul Roberts, who was lead singer, was also the artist who painted the album cover for their first album, ‘Fickle Heart’, which ranks up there with some of the best record album covers made.  
Although they went on to make several more albums, no more hits were ever spawned after ‘Fickle’.

There are many bands with a flash of brilliance but like fireworks over the lake they are gone........but not the recordings they leave behind thankfully!

Album Art by Paul Roberts, lead singer, Sniff N' the Tears

Monday, 14 March 2011

Spinning on the Davo-rama turntable................

Jackson Browne - Lawyers in Love
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
John Mellencamp - Rough Harvest
Stranglers - Aural Sculpture

The Social Evolution of a song: “You had better stop the things that you do I ain't lying.........”

Screamin Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You

Nina Simone- I Put Spell On You

I Put A Spell On You - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Marilyn Manson - I Put A Spell On You

The Social Evolution of a song: 50 years changes the interpretation- or does it?

Songs Everyone Should Know

“I Put a Spell on You” - Various Artists1

Let’s beckon back now to a few weeks ago when we talked about fortune tellers, gypsies, etc.

The first version of “I Put a Spell on You” was recently in “Nowhere Boy”, the British movie documenting the early life of John Lennon. Originally the record was released on 78 rpm format, which is really difficult to find now. Most people do not have a 78 rpm record player that works, let alone the original “Screamin’ Jay Hawkins” version of this.

In 1956 the story goes that this was supposed to be kind of a sedate blues number and when the producer brought in ribs, chicken and rum, the arrangement changed. Screamin’ jay Hawkins says he does not even remember making the record. The original version was banned by record stores and radio stations as too wild.

After the success of the record – because everyone still found out about it and bought it anyway, Hawkins took on the persona of a strange Voodoo Witchdoctor in live performances. This song sounds sexist and at times bordering on psychotic in its maniacal Boris Karloff sort of way. But was it meant to be a bit of a lark as they say? Men very much ruled the roost still at this time. It was before Women’s Lib and the freedom movements of the 1960’s. There are a lot of blues songs that warn their ‘partner’ of the consequences of foolin’ around. Little Walter turned this around a bit on My Babe 1955. In 1966 James Brown covered "Spell' on his album “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, World” - speaking of male domination themes.

Nina Simone2 blues/jazz/soul singer that carried the civil rights message in the late sixties interpreted this song as well. Her version is very much a plea, much more bluesy - almost a sad commentary on men in 1965. Somehow this is more believable but still has the hurtin' blues feel to it to which it was originally intended.

In the 1970’s, Credence Clearwater revival had a hit with it again. Culturally the music was male-dominated, alpha-male guitar rock. This is what sold. (It was unfortunately difficult for female artists at this time to break into the biz and really did not happen till the late ‘70’s) With that there was still an attitude of this male superiority that lingered from the post-war generation. At this point though, the lyrics sounds a bit more like a plea than a maniacal command coming out of John fogerty’s mouth. CCR also was advertised as a band from the Louisiana Bayou, but they really weren’t. The sound is supposed to be reminiscent of sort of a Bayou-blues thing. Fogerty was born, not on the Bayou as he suggests in one song, but rather Berkley, California. It’s all about persona and what sells! Music is after all a business much to purists chagrin.

So many people covered it and continue to cover it. A few people had changed the interpretation of this song over the years but Marilyn Manson’s brilliant take on this song is unmistakable. Through the format of an early black and white horror movie it clearly screams to us that there is something wrong here.  

In 2010 Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde, Mike Jones, Johnny Depp et al, released their take on “I Put a Spell on You” to raise money for the plight of Haiti following the earthquake there.

What is up with this enduring song? Is there any truth to it? Is that truth the same anymore?

1)       Some of the artists that have covered this song include: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Nina Simone, Credence Clearwater Revival, Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown, James Brown, Black Sabbath, Dr. John, Ted Nugent, George Clinton, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, Bonnie Tyler, The Animals, Peter Townsend and Joe Cocker.

2)       Nina Simone – Check out her album “Wild is the Wind” from 1966. “Remixed and Reimagined” 2006 is also good.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin

Did your therapist tell you to write letters....and not send them?

Hip to Be Square

“Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues 1967 (re-released in 1972) 

Do you have a broken heart? Does it hurt? Well you can listen to this song and it will be all better. O.K.?
Well maybe not, but Justin Hayward emotes an amazing (and long) gush to his lady-love in this epic lament that we all love to hear. If the seven minute plus version is not enough for you there is also a ‘Late Lament’ poem on the ‘Days of Future Past’ album.

I remember hearing this at the ‘Shag’ in Junior High School. I remember coming down the long stairwell by the main hall for some reason and this song echoed through the painted brick hallway as I descended the ‘tready grip’ stairs in the dim light. It made me feel alone and almost forlorn - but strangely that was not necessarily a bad feeling. What the hell was going on here? 

You may ask say, "Do tell, what the heck is a ‘Shag”? It was our version of a dance. If you explained the name to some of the teachers who were there at the time, now, they would probably blush. In retrospect, what a stupid name to call an adolescent dance! Nonetheless, I went to every one - did not want to miss the music. Sometimes we even had live bands – that were great! (At least I thought they were at the time – although the gym was kind of echoey)

One time in gym class on the eve of a Shag, Ricky D., punched in the buttons on the jukebox that sat on the stage in wait of the festivities. “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night blared out of the speakers. In those days believe it or not there were people that were technologically challenged and our gym teacher, much to our delight did not know how to shut it down. We all laughed and bopped around. Needless to say, Ricky D was a hero that day – after he did his 20 chin-ups!

Of course the Shag was not like dances now. You did not dance by yourself. If you had enough guts to ask a girl to dance you had to figure out what you were going to do when you actually got to the dance floor. We all kind of adopted this side-to-side step thing and maybe if you were really rockin’ you would bend your hips a bit. Slow dances consisted of essentially just hugging a girl and twirling around to the beat. Hey whatever works! You had to be savvy here – it helped to be able to ‘name-that-tune’ in 2 or 3 notes because if you didn’t, someone else would ask 'that' girl when your favorite song came on (whether it be 'LIttle Willy" by the Sweet, 'Highway Star' by Deep Purple or 'China Grove' by the Doobie Brothers). You also had to be careful on those songs where they change it up – you know you are doing a slow dance at the beginning of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and it all of a sudden turns into a fast dance and you have to go back to your side-to-side thing – avoiding this situation was important as we were all awkward as hell – O.K. maybe it was just me!

Anyway.......The Moody Blues were of course British. In the same vein as ‘Procol Harem’, what would be called progressive rock. They liked big productions. One big production that is notable around the same time is Procol Harems “A Whiter Shade of Pale” done with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Bands like ‘Yes’, ‘Emerson Lake and Palmer’, and even the American ‘Chicago’ would follow the whole big production thing. Even later, Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestral (ELP) were much influence by the big sound of the Moodies.

The Moodies put out a copious amount of  albums and have sold some 70 million records. I also like “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Ride My Seesaw” - they are worth checking out.

Be mellow!