Thursday, 29 March 2012

Rocket Juice & The Moon - Poison...

My review of the Rocket Juice & The Moon album went up today.  The best album of the year so far.  Incredibly warm and groovy.  Highlight of the record is the Gorgeous melancholy ballad, Poison:

Live at Honest Jon's Chop Up @ Fiesta Des Suds 30/10/11, Marseilles:

And at London Barbican (the night before, I believe):

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Saint Etienne - He's On The Phone...

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my blog.  All this time I'd been thinking it was today!  Anyway, HOORAY!  I've been enjoying keeping this. I like to think of it like when you're hanging out at your friends' house and before you know it it's very late at night but it's all been very exciting because there's so much music you've been playing each other that you hadn't heard and much more you're all still dying to share. of my favourite songs of all-time.  He's On The Phone by Saint Etienne.  This song has everything - it sounds Gorgeous, it feels Glorious, never failing to lift one's spirits incredibly high. It always makes me want to go out and live, and, of course, to dance. There's a hint of that certain sadness in the lyrics and voice present within all the Exuberant Joy of the music, that combination that's in all the best songs.

Top Of The Pops, November 9, 1995:

The song was a collaboration with French singer Etienne Daho and was based on his 1984 single Week-End À Rome:

I love the single cover:

Vanessa Paradis did a very nice version of Week-End À Rome with Nouvelle Vague.  They have a free download of the mp3 up on their website here.

And Spanish pop singer Princessa covered He's On The Phone in 1996.  The different key is odd at first and she doesn't quite pronounce all the words correctly but this ends up rather cute:

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Gene Simmons - Radioactive...

Radioactive, the first song on Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album was always my favourite of all the KISS solo records (I remember being very disappointed by them as a child, only ever listening to this and Ace's version of New York Groove, but perhaps it's time to revisit them).  Aerosmith's Joe Perry played guitar on this and Tunnel Of Love and Bob Seger sang backing vocals!  It's a really good pop song.

On the 1979 Dynasty Tour (also known as "The Return Of Kiss") they performed a song from each of the four members' solo records (makes sense) though it looks like Radioactive (and Peter Criss' Tossing And Turning) was dropped after only a few gigs.  A shame.  A live version from Largo, MD 1979:

I was chatting with David Ryder Prangley the other night and he reminded me that not only did Gene Simmons produce Van Halen's 1976 "Zero" Demo, he also roped in Eddie and Alex to play on some KISS demos for him.  The Van Halen brothers played on early versions of Christine Sixteen, Got Love For Sale (originally entitled Have Love With Travel when the VH bros. played on it), and Tunnel Of Love (which ended up on Gene's solo record with Joe Perry on guitar).  How I would LOVE to hear these!  But this is one of those rare occasions that always makes one frustrated with technology, that even with all we have now, there's still no way to hear them.  There's been some conjecture about them being released and fingers crossed one day it will happen. Gene apparently states in the KISS box set that they wanted to use Christine Sixteen and Got Love For Sale but couldn't track Eddie down to get his permission.  He needs permission from both brothers in order to release them.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona...

My friend Sina has asked me to DJ at the first night of his "all-girl pop, rock and indie" night, DEBBIE.  Friday, April 6th, at Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington.  181 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UL.  I'm very excited about this.  I love DJ'ing and, as you may have noticed, I love female vocalists.  Expect me to play Throwing Muses, Siouxsie, Dolly Mixture, Curve, Saint Etienne, Dusty Springfield, ABBA, The Kid and tons more.

The first song that came into my head when Sina asked me was Throwing Muses' Not Too Soon.  Such an amazing song, perfect.  An ecstatic melody that soars through the notes, every voice and instrument has such a great texture and sound.

Live in Düsseldorf, Spring 1991:

Live at The Middle East, Cambridge, MA, May 6, 2000.  I'm not sure why I wasn't at this gig as I was living in Boston at the time.  But I did go see the first, I believe, reunion gig in Providence the year before.  Which was great.  I remember getting to the club (Lupo's) early and there was a couple there who had flown over from the U.K. just for the gig.  I admire such dedication.

Written by Tanya Donelly.  From their The Real Ramona, an excellent pop album.  Tanya also contributed the lovely Honeychain (well, there is that dark, scary bit about a minute in).

Kristin's songs are also quite poppy on this record.  I've always found Graffiti melancholically beautiful and haunting.

The single Counting Backwards:

Which had a version of Amazing Grace as a b-side that I always liked:

The 1:12 pop perfection of Him Dancing:

And the album closes with the achingly beautiful Two Step.  Languorous and dreamy, simply gorgeous, in fact one of the most gorgeous songs I know.  That guitar melody is exquisite, and this is a great example of Kristin's unique lyrics.

I had only planned on posting about Not Too Soon but once I got started it made sense to do half the album as it's such a great record!  I remember when I first heard of Throwing Muses.  It was in 8th Grade and we had 2 student teachers from Fairfield University.  My best friend, Brian Ewing, had one as his English teacher and he would chat to her about music as she had very good taste and knew about bands we'd never heard of, which was so Exciting.  In fact, she loaned him a 7" of her friend's band, Humidifier, which had Jim Wilber on guitar, who would go on to play in Superchunk (a band I loved in my early 20's, and still listen to occasionally).  I remember we didn't quite know what to make of it.  It was good but very different from anything we knew about as 14 year-olds obsessed with AC/DC.  We loaned the teachers tapes we recorded in the basement of us covering AC/DC songs and they were very nice about them.  I remember it was "Wear Your Favourite T-Shirt Day"at school and the student teacher in my Spanish class wore a Throwing Muses one (I want to say it was House Tornado, though hard to recall as it was 1990.  I do remember it being colourful) .  Intrigued but very shy, I worked up the courage to ask her about it after class and she told me they were her favourite band, though "a little scary".  It would be another 2 or 3 years before I actually found any at a record store, and I did start with The Real Ramona.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Crystals - He's A Rebel...

He's A Rebel by The Crystals.  Written by Gene Pitney, produced by Phil Spector.  One of my all-time favourite songs.  My mom used to play this 45 all the time when I was growing up.  Last night I was playing my guitar along to some girl-group greats and I realized one of the things that makes this song Incredibly Brilliant is a half-step modulation up going into the first chorus.  The "No No No"s at the end are Wonderful as well.

As this gets cut off, here's the full version:

I almost wish I hadn't looked up any info on this song as it all seems a little sordid.  It's not actually The Crystals singing it for one thing, it's Darlene Love backed by The Blossoms.  The Crystals themselves were out on tour and Spector was in a hurry to get his own version of this song out, so he brought Love and The Blossoms into the studio.  Vikki Carr had a version out around the same time as well (link to video there but the video is so poor I don't want to post it).  Another video of The Crystals version here with some very interesting information about their career, including the rare Let's Dance The Screw Parts 1 & 2 single.  He's A Rebel was also originally offered to The Shirelles, who turned it down because of the lyrics. Not that any of this takes away from what an Excellent song it is.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra - Us...

From The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra's excellent 1970 album Consummation.  I was first introduced to Us when we played it my freshman year in high school jazz band (I was thrilled to have made it, playing guitar, my freshman year).  This song is incredibly groovy - check out the middle section heralded by that bass riff! - great funky bass work throughout, the horns slipping and sliding, and that kind of major key horn melody that I love.  Pure Jubilance.

Live on Japanese TV, 1974:

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Zero Le Creche - Last Year's Wife...

I first came across Zero Le Creche in 1995 with Last Year's Wife on Cleopatra's In Goth Daze compilation.  A great pop song, romantically reminiscent of The Psychedelic Furs and Echo & The Bunnymen.  Last night I thought to look them up on the internet as I've not been able to find out any info on them in all that time.  A comp of all their recordings was released a few years back (apparently there's liner notes that I'd really like to see) but other than that, what little I've been able to find is here, here, and here.

12" version:

Their second single, Falling:

And another really good one, Kings & Queens:

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Rolling Stones - Come On/Tell Me...

Simon Drowner just posted a link to The Rolling Stones first single, a cover of Chuck Berry's Come On.  According to Wikipedia the band refused to play it live and Decca only bought one ad to promote it.  I thought I had never heard it before but checking my iTunes I must have as it's on More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies).

The Chuck Berry original:

I was also thinking about The Stones' Tell Me the other day.

The Dead Boys covered it on their second album, a really great version, probably my favourite thing The Dead Boys did.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sly & The Family Stone - Runnin' Away...

Runnin' Away by Sly & The Family Stone has been stuck in my head since yesterday.  Such a lovely song, so smooth and relaxed (despite being about all sorts of agitation).  Perfect song for a day like today heralding the change of seasons (my favourite time of year is always when Winter slides into Spring and Summer slips into Autumn).  Featuring Rose Stone on lead vocals with her brother Sly.  From 1972's There's A Riot Going On.

Thanks to this man, I just found out there's a cover of it by The Raincoats as well.  Had no idea, as it's not on the version of Moving that I have.

Terry Hall's The Colourfield also did a version:

As well as Paul Haig:

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Go-Betweens - Right Here...

Sometimes, when you decide to investigate a band, you are somehow drawn directly to what you would like most of their work, like benevolent Pop spirits are guiding you to exactly what you need, because they know you should get into this group.  Such was the case when I decided it was high time for me to hear The Go-Betweens (great fan site here). For reasons I'm completely at a loss to recall, perhaps simply because I just liked the name the best, Talullah was the first record I bought of theirs.  And when I put it on and heard Right Here, I fell in love.  Gorgeous pop sound and melody, lyrics a little obtuse though still pleasing.   I quickly snatched up the rest of their records and read their excellent biography by David Nichols.

Early version:

Live on the ABC's Blah Blah Blah, 1988:

Live on the ABC's Rock Arena, 1986:

Talullah-era interview with Lindy Morrison and Amanda Brown (shortly after she became a full-time member).  The first time I've ever heard it confirmed that the double-L in their album titles is intentional.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Funkadelic - Good To Your Earhole...

Funkadelic's Good To Your Earhole from their 1975 album, Let's Take It To The Stage.  What a song, what a sentiment!  And it is indeed good to your earhole.  That chromatic run up underneath the excellent "Put your hands together, c'mon stomp your feet" is an awesome, celebratory eternal groove.  Amazing guitar work from Eddie Hazel and keyboardist Bernie Worrell is very much on form.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Afghan Whigs - Summer's Kiss

Simon Price has done an excellent interview with Greg Dulli for The Quietus about the upcoming Afghan Whigs reunion gigs.  Great answers from Dulli too.  This is probably the only reunion I've ever heard about and was immediately excited.  I was lucky enough to see The Whigs twice when they were still going, including an amazing performance on Valentine's Day 1999 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA.  Dulli on Valentine's Day, completely in his element.  Lots of people hold Gentlemen to be their masterpiece but for me it's always been Black Love, which I think is one of the best records ever made.   And Summer's Kiss one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, such passion in everything about it.  Original version here.

Great live version by Dulli in Philly on October 20, 2010:

From An Evening With Greg Dulli & Mark Lanegan, São Paolo, Brasil, 1/7/09:

And don't forget what an amazing covers band they were!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Puffy - Cake Is Love...

Was chatting to Tim at The Hangover Lounge this afternoon about pop from around the world and he mentioned Cake Is Love by Puffy.  A song title so good, so pop, I immediately searched it out when I got home.  Looks like there's a lot of info on their site, with lots to explore.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Dolls - The Reason Why...

My friend Douglas posted this last night.  Lovely girl group song.  I can't find any info at all about The Dolls (except for this about their label) but I had come across them before on this comp with And That Reminds Me.

Friday, 2 March 2012

René Berg...

I've been obsessed with the René Berg song The Leather, The Loneliness, And Your Dark Eyes lately.  A brilliant pop song, filled with huge senses of melody and moment, in the style of 80s glam rock.  I came across René's stuff back in the winter of 2008, when I had just bought a ticket to (finally) see Hanoi Rocks at The Astoria (an excellent gig).  René was in Hanoi Rocks briefly towards their end in 1985, he played on the Rock & Roll Divorce live album.  I quickly fell in love with Head Over Heels (another great glam pop song) and the beautifully melancholic London Town, which it's such a shame was never properly recorded.  The Leather, The Loneliness, And Your Dark Eyes, his only solo record, you can hear on Spotify and is also available on iTunes.  Really good songs, I recommend it if you listened to glam metal in the 80's.  Rat Scabies and Paul Grey from The Damned play on it.  I managed to track down the a-side to his first band, Idle Flowers, 7", All I Want Is You; would love to hear more from his other projects.  Also just found out he had a keen interest in fishing!  Sadly, René passed away on July 28, 2003.

The Soho Vultures (René's band after Idle Flowers and after he was in Hanoi Rocks) apparently made a video for Head Over Heels but I can't find it anywhere.