Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The show must go on

Great songs with stuff going wrong, artists laughing, whether it be a great belly laugh, a creeping case of the giggles or a snort. Sometimes equipment breaks, sometimes lyrics are forgotten. The phone will often ring. It doesn´t matter.

I love them. It reminds us that our talented, mysterious music heroes are just normal folks, trying to hold it together.
Or not, as the case may be.

Apart from Ella, she´s a pro.

Elvis - tons of laughing tracks.

Elvis´s recording of Are You Lonesome Tonight interspersed with some serious giggles (  became quite well known, but it wasn´t a one off. Elvis quite often had to contend with questionable lyrics, and gloriously failed to hold it together.
These attempts at Beach Shack are lovely. Looks like we caught him at the "silly hour".
This attempt at Datin´never stood a chance.

George Harrison - Miss O´Dell

Miss O´Dell was Chris, an employee at Apple and general assistant to the Harrison gang. Harrison reportedly promised to write a song about her (as Leon Russell had, with Pisces Apple Lady) and instead came up with a much more insightful song about himself. It is rare in this period of Harrison´s career to be sounding so socially apathetic, or maybe it´s more of an exhaustion witht he pretence of the people around him. He has nothing to say about the war or poverty and is bored to tears of pollution. It´s not desolate, just tired, and maybe a little playful. Maybe he is just having a little fun with people´s expectations of him.
Anyway, he says "rice" instead of "night", and the concept of rice "rolling on right up to his front porch" sets him off. He tries but fails, relapsing a few more times before the end.
There´s an especially delightful chuckle at 1.17

Led Zeppelin - In my Time of Dying

Right at the end there when plant is singing his last few notes, Bonzo coughs and splutters. Plant in a singing reply says "cough" and Bonham yells "That´s gonna be the one isn´t it?!"

Bob Dylan - Rainy Day Woman #12 &35

Rather than one specific incident, it seems that this song was born out of one big laugh. Dylan himself cracks a few times and there´s numerous whoops from the party gathering in the background.

Ella Fitzgerald - Mack The Knife

"Oh whats the next chorus, to this song now.... it´s the one now, I don´t know"
Ella can even make buying time and hoping for a prompt sound wonderful. She forgets the words but keeps it together and whips out a mean Louis Armstrong impression.

The Police - Roxanne

You´ve probably never noticed, but there´s a fluffed piano note and laugh in the first few bars.

Genesis - Anything She Does

Just after the final note of this song Phil makes the exact noise my Dad makes when he fluffs a shot in golf. It sounds like a noise of dissatisfaction, but they kept the (wonderful) take, so who knows?

The Kingsmen - Louie Louie

At 0.56 the drummer Lynn Easton says "Fuck!" apparently because he fluffed something. Also, after the guitar solo, singer Jacky Ely comes in too early and drummer Easton redeems himself by filling the time with some interesting drum work. Great song, but it´s all gloriously ramshackle, who knows what´s going on.

The Mamas and The Papas - I Saw Her Again

Quite a well known one, this, but it did begin as a mistake. Doherty comes in too early for the chorus at 2.44, but it worked, so they kept it. It was written by John Phillip supposedly about his feelings on his fling with Mama Cass, which in turn was some kind of revenge for Michelle and Denny´s affair. Messy or what......

The Rolling Stones FEATURING all hail the queen MERRY CLAYTON - Gimme Shelter

Merry Clayton was called last minute, in the middle of the night, to join this session. Hair still in curlers she decided to blow them out of the room.
As her voice breaks the second time in her phenomenal vocal solo we hear Mick exclaim "wooo!" 3.02

Friday, 10 April 2015

There are music films, and films about music

These are my favourites.
It may be a direct musical theme, it may be just a really good soundtrack.
Films for music lovers.

Empire Records

Whether you´ve worked in a record store or not, this will make you feel like you have. It´s got everything; great tunes, great camraderie, quotable lines, a struggle, humour and a character for everyone. Also featuring a great young cast who went on to bigger fame.

If you want blood......

Blues Brothers

Another great film about working together to pull something off. It´s offbeat, funny and totally unexpected. The lineup is frankly ridiculous. Aside from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, you´ve got Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Donald " Duck "Dunn and Steve Cropper among many others. Buckets of fun.

What I would give to be a dancer in this scene.....

Almost Famous

A beautiful semi-autobiographical film by Cameron Crowe, about his time as a young rock writer in the early 70´s. It´s warm, honest and sweet with a phenomenal backing track, changing songs almost every minute, but seamlessly. It is one of the films that has most accurately held up a mirror to my love of music and how the journey of discovery feels. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is heartbreakingly exquisite as Lester Bangs, Kate Hudson embodies the queen groupie composite, a perfect combination of life and soul of the party glamour and vulnerability. In fact everyone is glorious. Just watch it, you´ll fall in love.

Here, this scene didn´t make it in. It´s excellent.

Human Traffic

I don´t really know what the point is writing about this, I don´t really know what to say. It became so much a part of my youth and every time I watch it I realise more and more of what we say to this day is ripped from this film. Effectively a group of mates, a serious weekend in a Cardiff club and house parties. It doesn´t matter if you aren´t into clubbing or house music, there is so much to relate to, and it´s brilliantly well done. The record shop scene is perfection. The weekend has landed. Featuring a glorious performance from a young Danny Dyer.


High Fidelity

This is working in a record shop. It´s funny, it´s sad and it all rings pretty true. Our protaganist Rob is delving through his relationship history to understand his current, failed endeavour with Laura, all to a fine and varied soundtrack. Jack Black´s Barry, his record shop co-worker/employee is utterly perfect. Everyone knows a Barry (don´t worry, if you are self aware enough to worry it´s you, it´s not you). The top 5s, the arguments, competition, the recommendations, evreything. Spot on. How do you order yours? Chronological? Alphabetical? Autobiographical.

An excellent deleted scene.

The Last Waltz

This is a little different. It is a recording of a live concert, interspersed with interviews. Directed by Scorcese, and filmed at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, it is beautifully staged and lighted. It feels warm and grand, suitable for a farewell to such a well loved group. The concert included cameos from such delights as Van Morrison, Dr John, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, cut with candid interviews with the band. It is indicative of, if nothing else, the pure joy they have inspired that so many glorious artists should take the time to come and play with them. For me, however, a lovely bonus is how these artists really raise their game to share an equal footing on the stage with these guys. Neil Young announces it´s one of the pleasures of his life to be on the stage with them, I´m pretty sure Dr John is thanking them profusely before his glittering performance of Such A Night but it´s rather unintelligable. Van Morrison wears sparkles, for god´s sake. There are delightful studio performances from The Staples and Emmy Lou too. Levon talking about travelling shows  (Wallcott´s Rabbitfoot Minstrels) is lovely. Richard Manuel smiles discussing The Band´s less iconic previous names. The scene where Rick Danko plays a recording of his solo track Sip The Wine is bliss. Overall though, the solo performances by The Band are the ultimate demonstration that nothing and nobody else is needed but their talent, and their tunes.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Travelling home

There are many things you can call home, a country, a neighbourhood, a house, a van, a person..... or your local pub.

I am lucky, in that I have all those things to call home.

There are few things that render me such an emotional nostalgic wreck as the idea of coming home, and seeing as this feeling resonates with me in so many aspects, it´s a feeling I am well accustomed to.

Music gives this feeling a partner in sound,  and these to me are the best examples.

Tim Buckley- Happy Time

Sweet and warm and light, the sound of´s a happy time inside my mind when a melody does find a rhyme, says to me i´m comin home to stay...... It´s beautiful, advising his mama to "let the morning sun warm your bed while i´m away".

John Martyn- Over The Hill

This beautiful little ditty seems as conflicted and baffling as the man himself. On first listen it´s a yearning for a countryside home and his wife, but it seems the touring life isn´t going to let go too easily. It seems more that home seems to him like an easy escape from ´sweet cocaine and mary jane´, as "there´s just one place for a man to be when he´s worried about his life". Not so romantic then, but a charming tune nonetheless.

Bonnie Raitt- Home

I love this woman and will not rest till she is worshipped for the goddess she is. Her voice to me has a sense of mourning, and is put to great use in this song. "Home sings me of sweet things, my life there has it´s own wings", beautiful stuff, and great imagery.
Travelling at night, the headlights were bright.....

Terry Reid- Faith To Arise

This is such a sweet honest song. He describes being far away, away from his loved one and missing her, and he is on the phone to her and finds he has nothing to say, he just wants to BE THERE. Beautiful lyrics and gorgeous country slide in the mix.

Jethro Tull- Home

It´s so beautiful! So epic, slightly sad.....yet triumphant. Utterly romantic. Under 3 minutes of grand orchestration. "As the dawn breaks over sleepy gardens, I´ll be here to do all things to comfort you. And though I´ve been away, left you alone this way, why don´t you come awake and let your first smile take me home".