Monday, 28 November 2011

I Sing the Supremes Part 1.

I fancy myself a singer (see "One Night Only" post) and here is the proof. This sounds tinny because of the poor quality speakers on your pc. Try listening through headphones for a slightly better listening experience. This is the first prduct of my new found ability to digitise cassette tape recordings, of which I have several hundred.

Happy listening.

I Sing the Supremes Part 2.

I fancy myself Diana Ross and here I am channelling her style of free singing that is liberated from the tyranny of the melody and consistent keys. Not to make excuses, but the circumstances under which this was recorded were two tape recorders playing in both ears earlier recordings of the song while I accompanied myself on guitar and kazoo and attempted to sing in tune and remember the words while not getting too close to the 3rd tape recorder's microphone so as to drown out everything else. Something of a technological tour de force, in my view. Recorded in 1983, in Throckley. the rock'n'roll capital of the world.

This is also the conclusive evidence as to from whence Lily's vocal abilities do come.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


I fancy myself someone who takes listening to music seriously while at the same time deploring people who take music seriously. I do believe that you should be able to say what it is about a piece of music that you like, how it affects you and what thay feels like. But having said that, I do not really know why I like this.It reminds me of 1970s interval music. The vocals are sweet and urgent. I like singing that has that kind of careful enunciation and clipped English tones. And obviously the subject matter is of vital, biting importance.

Don't Let Him Touch You

I fancy myself as moral but I find that this song manages to be salacious while preaching morality. Not an easy trick. Jonathan King wrote and produced it. I am not going to be cheap and make a comment about that, given the song's title. Nice big chorus, always a plus in any song, I think. I like the cello and slightly hesitant vocal in the verse too. It even pulls off the one trick normally guaranteed to make me never want to hear a song again, namely a key change in a reprise of a chorus. The singers of this later sang backing vocals on Bryan Ferry's version of "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", amongst other things.

Remember, girls "if he has you, he will leave you. Don't let him touch you".

That's The Way A Woman Is.

I fancy myself intelligent but find that as I get older I like music that is much stupider than what I used to listen to. This song makes me feel happy. I like that its only lyrics are "Uh huh uh huh huh huh huh huh huh uh huh uh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh that's the way a woman is". There are some other words as well but they are only there to fill in the song until we get to the good "Uh huh uh huh" bit again. You certainly get absolutely no insight into the way a woman is. But you can't argue against a good rhythmn and a good tune. The fact that it makes no sense is irrelevant. In fact, it is probably something to be celebrated. I like that it reminds me of when I first heard music, and what I heard was the overall sound of the record. How loud were the drums, how noisy were the guitars, what was the singer's tone of voice like. This is what was important then and all songs could have gone "Uh huh uh huh huh huh huh huh" for all I cared.

The Rose of Allendale

I fancy myself as growing up immersed in the music of the North East but know that probably is not as true as I would like. I fancy that I learnt this song in school but I suspect I actually first heard Nic Jones' version on John Peel in 1977. This is my favourite version of this song, by the Copper family from Rottingdean. People assume that this is a Scottish or Irish song but Allendale is just outside Hexham. People also assume that this is a traditional song but it was written in the 1840s by two blokes. However, through the folk tradition a Victorian composition set in a tiny village in Northumberland is passed down by a family of East Sussex agricultural workers.

This is dedicated to my beautiful wife who will illustrate the song for you. Her middle name is Mary, which has relevance to the song, as you will see. I have a particular attachment for the final verse. Not the stuff about Africa's burning sands, obviously, but the stuff about my life being a wilderness.

My life has been a wilderness
unblessed by fortune's gale,
had fate not linked my lot to hers
the rose of Allendale.

Monday, 21 November 2011

One Night Only

I fancy myself a singer but this is a real singer. This is my daughter singing on the radio. She is an actress too. All kinds of people can act but very few people can sing like this.

She must get it from her mother.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Live at the Acropolis

I fancy myself a polymath but this Beck bloke takes the biscuit. A hip-hop artist, rapper, multi-instrumentalist who plays country-blues, tropicalia, pop, rock, and is a writer, performer and producer. As well as making his own records, he found time to write and produce Charlotte Gainsbourg's most recent record and has been remaking classic rock lps and putting them on his website. His latest effort in this strain is a remaking of "Live at the Acropolis" by Yanni, who is a Greek composer of new age music, all long hair and flouncy white shirts.

I was thinking that no-one makes really good avant-garde records anymore. Not like they did in the 60s and 70s. It seems too easy now to have some electronic equipment make a funny noise and to drop some sound effects over it and give it a metaphysical title. But this whole album is fantastic. Others in this series sound a bit like people just having a bash at songs they are familiar with but they prepared real arrangements for this recording and employed some proper musicians to play them. The arrangements reconfigure Yanni's original score into something more interesting, not so polite. Keener to engage than entertain.

There are some great tonalities across the whole album. There is a piano being played in a big empty room but recorded from next door, a funky bass, drums that are not so much played as thrown around the studio and lashings of feedback poured over the whole thing like custard over a slice of apple pie. It is Beck's masterpiece.

I absolutely love this and have had it on in the car constantly for the past couple of days. The wife and kids really dig it too.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

I fancy myself the rootin', tootin' kind and I like the swagger of this song. I love it when he sings "Ain't good looking but, you know, I ain't shy. Ain't afraid to look a girl in the eye". What a come on.

I've got this record but I also have a later live album by him which is very boring, American AOR. His early stuff is much more vigorous. "Sock it to me, Santa" is another good one by him that I would pay actual money to have a copy of.

Monday, 14 November 2011

87 Sundays

I fancy myself as lachrymose and have very emotional reactions to some songs. I listened to this song again this morning as I got off the train at Victoria and it made me cry again. This is the best song ever written or recorded.

This song came out in 1968 and I love songs from the 1960s that present the antithesis of the swinging time that everyone was supposed to be having ("Paper Sun" by Traffic is another example).
I do not know anything about Ruth nor about who wrote this song but I would pay a lot of money to have an actual copy of this record.