Late Night Stargazing

Tonight’s gorgeous Saturday into Sunday tune comes courtesy of an artiste whose debut album, “Boat to Bolivia” will feature in the main theme arch of this blog soon enough (this is my definition of the word “soon”, mind).

But for now, from his “High Bells Ring Thin” album, here’s Martin Stephenson, minus¬†his Daintees, with a lullaby:

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Martin Stephenson – Don’t Be Afraid of The Night

Lovely¬†that, isn’t it?

More soon.

1985 and All That

In my younger days, I was quite the susceptible type. Easily swayed.  Particularly when it came to music.

Two examples:

At some point or other, probably a few years earlier, I heard the Mighty Quo being interviewed on Radio 1 by Tommy Vance. It was a Desert Island Discs type affair, with Rossi and Parfitt (the ones you’ve heard of) picking songs which were important to them, or that they just plain liked, playing them in between regaling us with tales of their rock’n’roll lifestyle.

One of the songs they picked was the first of those included in today’s post. It was by a band I was already familiar with, and I featured¬†“Labelled With Love” by them in one of my earlier “Sunday Morning” posts.

But other than that, and “Cool for Cats”, I’d never heard anything else by Squeeze until that day.

And then Parfitt picked this:

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Squeeze – Another Nail in My Heart

I was smitten, (at least in part because of who had recommended it) and spent the next I-don’t-know-how-long scouring the second hand section of Andy’s Records in the hope that someone would have discarded one of their albums. Eventually, I gave up and shelled out for their Greatest Hits collection, “45’s and Under”.

In that album, I had a friend for life. 12 songs, each and every one an absolute pearler.

And it meant that I now owned what I have come to view as one of the greatest singles ever released:

Squeeze – Up The Junction

If I had cows, I would listen to that until they came home. It’s often said that Ray Davies of The Kinks writes lyrics which tell a story of everyday London life, that paint a picture, whatever euphemism you care to choose. For my money, Chris Difford is right up there with him. And Glenn Tilbrook writes a pretty mean tune too.

Squeeze have been in the news recently. They were coaxed out of semi-retirement to pen the theme tune to the TV dramatization of Danny Baker’s marvellous, hilarious¬†autobiography “Going to Sea in a Sieve”, the series being renamed “From the Cradle to the Grave”. A short while ago, the band were invited onto the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, a Sunday morning political show, to perform the song. Here‘s what happened. Bless ’em.

Oh go on then, here’s the single in full, as performed on “Later with Jools Holland”

Example two:

One Friday morning at school, me and my mates¬†were sitting in our form group, chatting about the night before’s edition of Top of the Pops. One song¬†came up who I had never heard before but had enjoyed. I did not tell my peers I had liked it, for it was performed by a winsome folky acoustic female.

Her name came up in conversation, and one of my buddies, Matt, said he really liked her song. I – to my eternal shame – uttered words which would never again fall from my mouth.

“I liked that too, but didn’t say anything in case nobody else did.”

I know, I know. I hang my head in shame.

I remember Matt looking at me incredulously, mouth agape. “Why would you not admit to liking something just because you think nobody else does?” he said. And he should know. He liked Simple Minds AND Whitney Houston and didn’t care who knew it.

Because I’ve been banging on about how great Quo are for the past few years, and to admit to liking this, the polar opposite of Quo,¬†is tantamount to admitting I’m wrong, that’s why, I thought.

I didn’t say that. I just shrugged and said “I dunno. Cos I’m a twat?”.

But lesson learned. Never again have I been ashamed to admit what records I like, no matter how others opinions might fall. Diversity in music taste is the making of a man. Or woman.

Which is why I do this, I guess.

By the end of the weekend, the album on which the song in question lived was mine.

Oh, what song was it? This:

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Suzanne Vega – Marlene On The Wall

Cheers, Matt, for pointing out the bleeding obvious to me. I owe you one.

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

Listening to The Sundays’ “Here’s Where The Story Ends” from my last post got me thinking: are there any other great records which mention sheds?

Well, yes there is. There’s this:

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The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend

Which leads me on to the okay-not-quite-the-same-title-but-close-enough-to-qualify-for-inclusion-here (and definitely NOT about a shed, although it does always remind me of a watershed moment in my life. See what I did there?)

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Super Furry Animals – Something 4 The Weekend

After the ghastliness of the cover versions in the last post, I think some kind of equilibrium has been achieved.

More soon.

 

 

How Not To Do a Cover Version

When todays examples got released as singles back in 1998 and 1999, I swear I have never come closer to smashing my radio whenever they got played.

Here’s three ways that¬†they managed to get right on my tits:

  1. Replaced the original distinctive and gorgeous original vocal with something/someone utterly bland and forgettable;
  2. Added a totally unnecessary, crappy, tinny drum track;
  3. Ensured they had sucked every last fucking drop of life out of the original.

Like this, basically:

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Tin Tin Out Feat. Shelley Nelson – Here’s Where The Story Ends

And from their debut album, “Reading, Writing & Arithmetic”, the original:

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The Sundays – Here’s Where The Story Ends

And then, just to add insult to injury, Tin Tin Ouch Out went and repeated the trick a year later, only this time with someone you’ve actually heard of providing the diluted vocal.

Original distinctive and gorgeous original vocal replaced by something utterly bland and forgettable? Check.

Totally unnecessary, crappy, tinny drum track added? Check.

Every last ounce of joie de vivre systematically removed? Check.

Then Tin Tin Out’s work here is done:

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Tin Tin Out Feat. Emma Bunton – What I Am

Just to hammer home how awful that version is, I was going to post the video too. But I figured we’ve all been traumatised enough this week¬†without being subjected to the spectacle of¬†¬†Ms. Bunton dancing around with just a shirt on for just shy of four minutes, a shirt which the cameraman seems determined to look down at every possible opportunity. (If YouTube breaks now, it’s all your fault, you dirty sods).

Here’s the infinitely superior original, by Mrs Paul Simon:

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Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am

I’m off for a lie down.

More soon.

How to Do a Cover Version

Some would argue that¬†if you’re going to do a cover version, you need to do radically rework it,¬†so that to the untrained ear it sounds like something you wrote yourself.

Substitute the acoustic guitar on the original for an electric one on your track.

Upgrade the soft folky lilt of the original for a rip-roaring rollicking rock riff.

Maybe even shorten the title by, say, one vowel.

Trim out some of those rather unnecessary verses.

And then get Rick Rubin to produce it and pop it out on the uber-cool Def Jam label:

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The Bangles – Hazy Shade Of Winter

Now, here’s the original, performed by the evil ones from The Detectorists (Yes, I am going to keep making that reference until someone gets it).

I’ll leave you to decide which you prefer:

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Simon & Garfunkel – A Hazy Shade of Winter

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

Sometimes I wish I was more organised.

An example: the other day, I was watching “Pointless”. For those of you not in the UK and who’ve never seen the show, here’s the premise: 100 people are asked a question, the contestants have to guess which correct answer the least of them knew.¬†Yes, a bit like Family Fortunes. But different enough to prevent anyone suing.

Crucially though, they also have to answer the question correctly. It doesn’t always pan out all that well:

 

Anyway, one of the categories the other day was songs which shared a title, but were a completely different song. Contestants were given the names of both artistes, and asked to say which song they had both sung, but which, other than the title, bore no relation to each other. (This did happen, right? I haven’t dreamt¬†it, have I?)

That, I thought, seems like a bloody good idea for a new thread on these here pages.

Now had I been more organised, then I would have taken note of some of the (correct) answers in that episode, but I didn’t, so here we are.

First up in this series is this:

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Degrees of Motion – Shine On

Given that I was at college (I can’t call it university and keep a straight face), DJ’ing, at the end of the 1980s/start of the 1990s, when the whole rave culture thing was at it’s absolute peak, I was shamefully, if predictably,¬†late in joining the party. About 10 years late, as it goes. But more of that another time. I must have come across this earlier, but the¬†first time I can recall hearing this was when Hel did a mixtape for me (actually, she did me two, plus one which just featured¬†Prince) circa the year¬†2000 which had this on it. All part of my education/awakening. But like I said, more of that later.

And so to the other identically named tune:

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The House of Love – Shine On

At the risk of coming over all Chandler from Friends: could two songs be anymore different?

Yes, of the two Shine Ons, it was the latter that I played regularly at “Intensity”,¬†the¬†little every-other-Tuesday indie night that I used to DJ when I was at college. That was the first time they released it; eventually, after much remixing, it resurfaced on their second album, sometimes referred to as “Butterfly”, sometimes as “Fontana”, more accurately as “the one with their two hits on”.

Oh go on then, here’s the later version that reached the giddy heights of Number 20 in the UK singles chart:

More soon.

The Final Word(s)

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If you’re not all Bowied out by now, and would like to read some more of us blogger types letting out a howl of anguish at the loss we suffered this week, then I would urge you to go and visit JC over at The Vinyl Villain.

I’ve visited JC’s blog pretty much every day for the past…Oh God, for such a long time now that it doesn’t bear thinking about.¬†So when I was thinking about starting this blog, I emailed him in the hope I’d get¬†a few pointers,¬†tips,¬†advice, whatever crumbs might fall from the table. The replies I got from him were incredibly kind,¬†helpful, encouraging and frankly, far above and beyond my expectations.¬†I get a lot out of¬†foisting the¬†banal shit I write upon you, and I wouldn’t be doing it had he not taken the time to reply to me.

Without wishing to blow too much smoke up “there”, if Paul Weller is the Modfather, then JC is the Blogfather; I’ll venture that every music blog you will ever visit has a link to his site on it, and there’s a reason for that: he’s bloody good at it.

Anyway, JC has collated a load of his/my peers’ posts mourning the death of Bowie, and you can read¬†them here, along with, of course, JC’s own words of wisdom.

And if you don’t want to read anymore Bowie posts, visit him anyway. I guarantee that if you like the kind of music I post about, you’ll adore his.

But…erm…you’ll come back and see me, right? Promise? Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye? Good. Off you pop then.

It is 2.30am, and I’m¬†working my way¬†through a bottle of rum (as you can probably tell) so doubtless there will be….More Soon.