25 October 2004

Are you a hypnotist?

...The last song on the playlist (just below) was Are You A Hypnotist by the Flaming Lips, from Yoshimi... Strictly speaking, I hadn't really listened to it; I'd let it play away on the 'Pod while I answered the phone. (Silent alert can be a pain sometimes, especially when it makes your poor little phone hop around the place like a cricket on meth.)

Having decided to keep this, this podblog or whatever you want to call it, I'd found the most recently played songs in iTunes and copied and pasted the list into my friendly neighbourhood text editor. There the tune was at the bottom; credited but forlorn. I owed it to poor little Are You A Hypnotist? to give it a listen. And straight away, as the kettle hit the boil and the room filled with the scent of smoke and coffee, me and the 'Pod were off in a swirly, Japanese sci-fi, Eno-with-beats sort of world, the beginning of yet another adventure in random music listenage.

Cool Blues - Charlie Parker and Errol Garner Slinky, clubby sounding jazz (nice!), classic riff, a bit workaday compared to the anarchic charm of the original.

Heavy Metal - Teenage Fanclub

Fun little guitar workout from the first album A Catholic Education, sounds a bit muddy.

Share Your Love With Me - The Band

A pretty, heartfelt Richard Manuel ballad.

Buzzin' Fly - Tim Buckley

Not the soft, acoustic version familiar from Happy/Sad and Dream Letter, but rocked up and soulful; my favourite versh actually, from Honeyman.

Quiet - Smashing Pumpkins

Mid-90s guitar maelstrom that brings on that heady, dizzy, "grunge-isn't-a-drug-I-can-give-it-up-any-time" feeling.

Every Other Day - The Stars of Heaven

Just after the mid-80s, Irish guitar bands started to get all country. Well, they all learnt the intro to "How I Wrote Elastic Man". It helped that Ireland has always had a great graw for not only country, but western music also. From the days of Buffalo Bill Cody, whose family were originally from Dublin, through the time of Big Tom McBride and all his spawn, country has always been there, gnawing at the roots of Irish music. The Stars took the sort of sounds pioneered by sundry small-time American rock bands and added a big dose of overalls to the chowder, creating something transcendent but uniquely Irish - poetic and romantic but good-humoured and rowdy too. Always the beautiful losers of Irish rock, the Stars' best stuff came out in a couple of BBC sessions for John Peel's radio show, which they were fortunately allowed to release under their own steam. "Every Other Day" is by no means their best, more of an afterthought, but it captures perfectly a certain moment in Irish rock. How the SOH felt about Bonjela is not recorded.

Here Today - Brian Wilson (Pet Sounds Live)

Bright, happy revisit of the tune that ushers in the second side of Pet Sounds. Wilson's excellent band have their work cut out for them trying to emulate the big, breezy sound of the original, but sound like they're having a good time trying.

Thousand Fold - Jeff Buckley

B-side of "Everybody Here Wants You". I've heard another version of this, maybe on Sketches for MSTD. This is just a bare-bones 4track demo, unfinished and jagged sounding, but some fantastic singing as usual.

Big Bottom - Spinal Tap

Many bass guitars. Brain-curdling synth. And those heartfelt lyrics, often derided as sexist, but usually only by women, of course.

Precious Moments - The Posies

Overall, Amazing Disgrace, which this is from, is my fav Posies album. The production by Nick Launay is faithful to the drums-and-wires sound the band need, but imaginative enough to bring out the best in the songs, stuff that would have disappeared under a heavier hand. "Precious Moments" is well thought out with a great use of dynamics, and those voices blending flawlessly as usual.

Ted's Tune - The Revenants

The Revenants were always going to suffer by comparison with the Stars of Heaven, simply because Steven Ryan's voice is so readily recognisable, but they were a much rockier beast. Good stuff, too, for the most part. Always liked this one; simple and agreeable and not too much fuss:

"Seems like every player on the block is getting better every week

They're doing bends and runs and treble stops and I'm still stuck on G."

Victoria - The Fall

Why shouldn't Mark E. Smith cover a tune by Ray Davies? They have a lot in common after all, as reluctant poets laureate of different musical generations. Neither is what you could call a strong singer, but they've made the best of their vocal limitations and created distinctive voices for themselves. And they are writer's writers, whatever about the musical end of it; they use recurring themes and the past is important to them, though they'll never be curators. And this sounded great barrelling out of radios when it came out in the mid-80s. Not a landmark Fall tune, though it was good to see them in the charts by whatever means, but a perfect choice of cover for the time.

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