Archive

Archive for March, 2008

iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 6

March 31st, 2008 3 comments

To end off the month, here the five random tracks my iPod threw out for your pleasure. Actually, I’m cheating, because it listed a couple of tracks I recently posted…

The Band with Neil Diamond – Dry Your Eyes.mp3
From The Last Waltz. Neil Diamond must have retained some of the cool he had rightfully acquired before going all lamé on us (cf. Pissing off the Thought Police with Neil Diamond), else surely Messrs Danko, Robertson, Manuel et al would not have invited the man to jam with them. And the crowd seems happy enough to welcome him on stage. It’s all good. I like pre-lamé Neil, I like The Band, and I like this song. Thank you, iPod Shuffle Function.

Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You.mp3
Originally from the Moldy Peaches eponymous 2001 debut — and so far only — album, this is everybody’s favourite song from the quite wonderful Juno soundtrack (lovely film too). The one Ellen Page and Michael Cera sing at the end. Kimya Dawson, the female component of the Moldy Peaches, features very prominently on the soundtrack. Her solo albums are well worth seeking out as well.

John Barrowman & Kevin Kline – Night And Day.mp3
iPod loves soundtracks. First The Last Waltz, then Juno, now DeLovely. I was hoping it would give me chance to post something from Cabaret, actually. I may be committing some sort of credibility suicide here, but this is my favourite version (of those I know, which must be a dozen at least) of Night And Day, in terms of tempo, arrangement and vocals. A great though pretty difficult song to croon along to.

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up (Piano Version).mp3
Sometimes iPod surprises me. I didn’t know that this slowed-down acoustic version of the 1993 hit by Linda Perry and chums was residing on it, and I certainly can’t see why I might have thought it necessary to copy it over. Still, having listened to it again for purposes of this post, I think it’s quite a nice version, and a pretty good song, too.

Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – Rattlesnakes.mp3
To me, this is the sound of 1984. The lines “She looks live Eve Marie Saint in On The Waterfront; she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance” (hey presto, and another movie reference) are among my favourites from the ’80s.

And for our listening pleasure, a song which iPod didn’t random shuffle: the original version of the Sesame Street/Muppets classic Mah-na Mah-na, by Italian film score composer Piero Umiliani, from 1969. Of the two muppetised versions, I prefer that of Sesame Street, also made in 1969, with the two female backing singers who communicate bemusement better than many a movie actress, and the singer who looks like heroin addict (video). The Muppets’ version (video) has a stoned hippie and some pink animals. Good, but not as good. By the way, links open in the same window, so click new tab/window, or you’ll lose this page.
Piero Umiliani – Mah-ná-mah-ná.mp3

And an added bonus for my fellow Weepies fans: the title track from their new album, due for release on April 22:
The Weepies – Hideaway.mp3

Perfect Pop – Vol.2

March 26th, 2008 7 comments

Here is the second installment of Perfect Pop. For the criteria, look up the introduction to the first part of the series. One commenter rightly suggested the inclusion of The La’s, which I happily already had on my shortlist. Tell us which songs you think constitute perfect pop.

The Troggs – Wild Thing.mp3
A bit like “Louie Louie”, featured in the first part of this series, there is something gloriously shambolic going on here, understandably so if one knows that it was recorded in 20 minutes as an afterthought to a recording session. Singer Reg Presley not just sounds lewd, he is fucking the listener none too gently. Which is quite a contrast to later, milder Troggs hits (Love Is All Around; With A Girl Like You), but quite in keeping with the famous recording of the Troggs’ having an animated discussion in the studio.
Best bit: The ocarina solo (1:11)

The La’s – There She Goes.mp3
Had the Troggs been 20 years younger, they might well have sounded like the La’s (a name I’ve always hated). Allegedly about heroin, this song has a catchy tune and beautifully jangling guitars which surely helped influence dozens of US Indie groups in the ’90s. And it was only in the ’90s that this song, originally released in 1988, became a hit.
Best bit: After the slow bridge, “She calls my name” (1:46)

Roy Orbison – Only The Lonely.mp3
My mother had the single of this: it was the song she and her teenage sweetheart shared. It’s a good “our song” if your love is being split up by disapproving parents, I think (he was working class, my mother the rebellious princess of upper middle-class parents; you know the deal). On many songs, Orbison’s voice annoys me (hence my utter hatred for the Travelling Wilburys), on a few it is perfect. Only The Lonely, where he sounds a lot like Elvis at times, is one of those.
Best bit: Orbison hits the falsetto (2:08)

Pilot – Magic.mp3
Unjustly never a hit in Britain, this is one of the finest bubble gum pop songs of the ’70s. It’s so full of lovely little touches. Listen to the quirks of the guitar, the sporadic handclaps, the intermittent strings, the soft backing la-la-la-las. And then there is the rich chorus; it’s all rather brilliant.
Best bit: The handclaps during the guitar solo (2:16)

The Cure – In Between Days.mp3
The Cure have a surprising number of straight pop songs; easy to forget if one listens too much to the weird or depressing stuff Robert Smith and pals have produced. This, the first of two outstanding singles from 1985’s The Head On The Door, is a quick, bubbly burst of perfect pop. New Order might have taken notes about the value of brevity in pop.
Best bit: Bob laments over the outro: “Without you!” (2:35)

Van McCoy – The Hustle.mp3*
Tune! Disco guitars, strings, flute, horns, a killer bassline, while friendly ladies and commanding gentlemen invite us to do The Hustle. Do it!
Best bit: The guitar demands to be heard (1:02)

Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi.mp3*
Belgian punk, thankfully in French and not Flemish. It’s all very audacious, probably borrowing less from the Sex Pistols and more from the Small Faces, whose Sha-la-la-la-lee Plastic Bertrand covered on his debut album) than Sex Pistols. I have never bothered to establish what the man is singing about. I don’t think I want to. As long as I can sing the title and the ou-ooou-eeooou, I’m happy.
Best bit: Whatever he sings after being the king of the divan (1:12)

Mel & Kim – Respectable.mp3
Take them or leave them, but the much reviled Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory of the ’80s created some respectable pop. This song found SAW more or less at a crossroad: their formula was starting to take hold (with Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up becoming a hit just six months later), but there remains enough of the Hi-NRG-cum-pop sound which propelled songs such as Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” to pop classicdom. The “tay-tay-tay-tay” intro is an iconic ’80s moment. Sadly Mel Appleby died of cancerin 1990, just three years after Respectable (and the equally fine Showing Out).
Best bit: The House break (2:07)

ELO – Shine A Little Love.mp3
Jeff Lynne’s pop orchestra could get a little too prog, but 1979’s Discovery album was a jewel of great pop. I might as well have chosen Don’t Let Me Down (with its power chords and the bwoosh sound) or Confusion (with its lovely keyboard riff), but it always seems to me that Shine A Little Love tends to be overlooked. The urgent, swirling opening passage and the chorus with the strings and the woooo’s qualify this as a piece of perfect pop.
Best bit: “Ooh, ooh…ooh-ba-ooh-ba-ooh-ba” (1:37)

Georgie Fame – Yeh Yeh.mp3
2:47 minutes of pure joy. I think this is perfect kitchen pop: try not to dance to it while doing the dishes. Or while you sail a boat. The famous British pirate broadcaster Radio Caroline was launched because no other station wanted to play Yeh Yeh, on account of it sounding “too black”, according to its founder, Ronan O’Rahilly. Read the full story of that here.
Best bit: The slow build-up to the chorus: “We play a melody…” (0:49)

Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Oh man, that opening line: “Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo, crying in the rain”! The lyrics, the lament of a gay man who can’t pull through a relationship because he is shackled in the closet, are incredibly sad, scored by a gorgeous melody, Marc Almond’s luscious vocals and some of the best synth pop lines we’re ever likely to hear. And, please, never listen to David Gray’s excruciatingly poor cover (or never do that again)!
Best bit: “We’re strangers meeting for the first time, okay? Just smile and say hello…” (3:40)

On current rotation

March 22nd, 2008 4 comments

When I started this blog, my idea was to flag new releases I enjoy while occasionally dipping into the archives of pop. As it has turned out, I’ve had greater fun doing nostalgia. But that means I’ve sometimes neglected the original purpose of this blog: to promote new music which I like. So, here are some songs from new releases (and one that is a year old) which I am listening to at the moment.

Tift Merritt – Keep You Happy.mp3
Tift Merritt – Morning Is My Destination.mp3
I can’t claim to know much about Tift Merritt. The new album, Another Country, is her third. I have not heard the previous albums, but the buzz has been good. Another Country may become Merritt’s breakthrough album. Merritt swings between country, alt.country and folk-pop, which places her alongside the adorable Mindy Smith, another singer who is receiving attention only in her 30s. Another Country is a gentle but engaging exercise, one for Sunday mornings. Keep You Happy, with its Wilcoesque guitar, has a depth which may at first not be apparent, while Morning Is My Destination fuses alt.country sounds (even more Wilco guitar here) with classic country rock.
Tift Merritt on MySpace

Landon Pigg – Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop.mp3
Another singer-songwriter with shaggy hair and a funny name… His 2006 solo album, titled LP, was a pleasant folk-pop effort, but lacked a killer track. Pigg delivers such a track with Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop, an entirely sweet acoustic song which will doubtless end up on the soundtrack of a quirky independent movie (think Garden State). This is a song that should have featured in the Love Songs for Every Situation series (guess in which part). I hope the coffee shop in question an independent joint, not bloody Starbucks. And I hope that Pigg won’t sell his soul by letting Starbucks use this song for an advertising campaign; the song is far too lovely to be tainted by the stink of capitalist globalisation.

Tristan Prettyman – Madly.mp3
I loved Tristan’s 2005 debut album, Twentythree, a slice of California Dreaming which was trumped last year by Colbie Caillat’s entirely lovable album. I had sort of hoped that Tristan would in turn trump Colbie with more of the same. Instead, on her second album, Hello, Tristan suggests musical growth, and a welcome country influence. The beach vibe is still evident (see Madly), but many tracks are darker and more complex than those on the debut (California Girl sounds nothing like the title suggests). At first I was thrown by this; my expectations thrown, I was disappointed after the first listen. Having put the thing on rotation for a bit, I’m falling for it. (More Tristan Prettyman here)

Joshua Radin & Ingrid Michaelson – Sky.mp3
Joshua Radin’s We Were Here album was my album of 2006. I love the man’s gentle voice, his Drake-channelling acoustic sound, and I really enjoy his lyrics. I’ve read that Radin’s soft sound was forced by their production in a NYC flat. Sky, his new duet with the wonderful Ingrid Michaelson is upbeat and poppier than previous material. The rest of the four-song Unclear Sky EP (an iTunes special described by the singer as a teaser for the upcoming album) is more like the Radin we know, understated and intimate. Lovely Tonight, which should be on the CD later this year, is a gorgeous duet with Catherine Feeny, one of my favourite songbirds (whom I featured here), featuring guitar work by Ryan Adams. (More Joshua Radin here and here)

Counting Crows – When I Dream Of Michelangelo.mp3
Adam Duritz and pals are releasing their first studio album in five years, following the critical failure Hard Candy. Actually, there was much that is good on Hard Candy, though the true quality of some of the tracks revealed themselves only when performed live, as the fine New Amsterdam live album showed. Listening to Counting Crows albums requires patience; not unlike hearing an album by their spiritual godfathers, The Band. On my first listen, I didn’t much like the new album, Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings. After the second listen, I liked it better. A few listens further, and I’m sold on much of the album. Apparently the first, rockier half is a band effort, while the second, more reflective half is something of a Duritz solo project (as if anyone ever remembers any of the other Crows). The tracks I’m posting are the immediate stand-outs; the former a rock tune in the manner of The Band, the latter a slow-burner in the manner of, er, The Band.
Counting Crows homepage

Laura Veirs – Saltbreakers.mp3
Laura Veirs – Pink Light.mp3
Laura Veirs on MySpace


Perfect Pop – Vol.1

March 17th, 2008 7 comments

Jim Irvin in the latest issue of that fine British music magazine The Word makes the point that when his fellow critics describe something as perfect pop, it probably is neither. “It’ll be the work of a tone-deaf beanpole with a great haircut who sings like a rusty hinge while his mates commit acts upon musical instruments that the Spanish Inquisition would have thought twice about,” he writes, exaggerating for effect only marginally. Irvin mentions three songs as examples of what does constitute perfect pop: Britney’s Toxic, Take That’s Back For Good, and the Beatles’ I Feel Fine. I think these are excellent choices. But perfect pop is not a rarity, as I and a few Internet buddies found.

So, what are the ingredients in a perfect pop record? One pal suggested that pursuing a recipe is like “unweaving a rainbow” (a reasoning which might recall Stephen Fry’s immortal line, “Don’t analyse comedy; it’s beautiful as it is”). Unlike my pal, I prefer to approach such things scientifically, so here are some criteria I’d employ:

1. Great tune (obviously)
2. A killer chorus
3. Relative brevity (six-minute epics really must justify their time)
4. Instant recognisability
5. A certain timelessness (it should sound fresh three decades later)
6. Singalongabillity (or humalongability)
7. something undefinable; let’s call it aural fairydust (probably the one essential ingredient)

With all that in mind, and acknowledging that discerning perfection in pop is intrinsically subjective, let’s dip into the first bumper lot of 20 perfect pop records (enough to make a mix-tape, so take your time):

Hall & Oates – Private Eyes.mp3
It is easy to make fun of Hall’s mullet and of Oates in general, but Daryl and John were purveyors of many a perfect pop record. ‘She’s Gone’, ‘Kiss On My List’, ‘Rich Girl’, ‘Everytime You Go Away’, ‘One On One’, perhaps also ‘Out Of Touch’ (were it not for the horrible ’80s production) are all contenders. ‘Private Eyes’, however, towers above all of these in capturing a flawless pop sensibility: you sing along with it involuntarily, you do the drum thingy, your foot taps, you remember the lyrics even when you haven’t heard the song in years…
Best bit: The whipping drum thingy (0:42)

The Sweet – Teenage Rampage.mp3
It could have been any number of Sweet hits. ‘Ballroom Blitz’, ‘Blockbuster’, ‘The Six Teens’ or ‘Fox On The Run’ have no deficiency in the pop perfection stakes. When the verses are almost good enough to be the chorus, and the chorus tops it, and you have to sing along, then it has the main ingredients for perfect pop.
Best Bit: When the chorus kicks in (0:54)

The Jesus And Mary Chain – Just Like Honey.mp3
Can a record with excess feedback be perfect? In this case, I think it can be. Indeed, had the Reid brothers dispensed with the feedback for ‘Just Like Honey’, the song might have been just another Phil Spektor pastiche.
Best bit: The guitar solo gets even louder (1:42)

The Turtles – Happy Together.mp3
The sound of 1966, a great year in pop. A judiciously employed backing vocal of ba-ba-ba-bah and a martial beat can make a difference between a good pop song and a perfect one.
Best bit: “How is the weather?” (2:21)

Guildo Horn – Guildo hat euch lieb.mp3
Germany’s quite brilliant Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1998 seemed to at once embrace the contest and give it the finger (hence his relatively poor showing in seventh place). The name alone suggests some ribbing at the German Schlager (Guildo is phonetically identical to the surname of the late Schlager icon Rex Gildo, whose ‘Fiesta Mexicana’ can be found here). On ‘Guildo hat euch lieb’ (Guildo loves you [plural]), Horn accomplishes the impossible: he makes German sound good in a pop song.
Best bit: “Tief, tief, tief, ich hab’ dich lieb” (1:00)

Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace.mp3
This might have aged a bit since it was a hit 50 years ago, but if you have to listen to somebody speak on record, wouldn’t you rather it was the Big Bopper instead of bloody Fabolous?
Best bit: “Helllooooo baaaaaaybee” (0:01)

The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star.mp3*
Not quite three-and-a-half minutes packed with so many endearing touches, from the piano intro to the sing-along fade out. It’s impossible, surely, not to love this song.
Best bit: The drum comes in (0:31)

Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.mp3
Would one say this song was perfect pop if it wasn’t for that video? “Spinning Around” is perhaps the bouncier pop song, but this creeps into your head without you even noticing and squats there like a hippie commune. Where do I apply for the job as Kylie’s gold shorts?
Best bit: “La la la, la-la-lala-la…” (0:15)

Abba – Dancing Queen.mp3
Some would say that this is the most perfect pop song ever. If one takes the view that there can be such a thing as a single “most perfect pop song” ever, then ‘Dancing Queen’ would be as good a choice as any (but there can’t be, of course). Indeed, there are a number of worthy challengers in the Abba canon: there is only a sliver of difference in the perfection of ‘Dancing Queen’ and, say, ‘S.O.S.’ or ‘Mamma Mia’.
Best bit: “You can dance, you can jive…” (0:20)

Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This.mp3*
The Pet Shop Boys are another outfit who could churn out some wonderful pop. The 1986 debut album, Please, in particular boasted four singles which accomplished or neared perfection, especially ‘Suburbia’. But it was in tandem with another purveyor of great pop that they conjured indisputable perfection.
Best bit: Dusty’s voice goes higher as she sings “make me feel better” (2:48)

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me.mp3*
Steve Harley’s periodically stuttering, spluttering and sneering delivery are complemented by a great tune, infectious hooks and an exciting arrangement, with sudden stops and those “oowooh-la-la-la” backing vocals.
Best bit: The two second pause between the acoustic guitar solo and Steve Harley resuming (2:19)

The Temptations – My Girl.mp3
One could fill a whole 2GB iPod with perfect pop from Hitsville, and still regret leaving out great songs. So we’ll settle for “My Girl” as a representative for Motown, appropriately so not only because it is a mindbogglingly great song, but also because it combines two agents of serial pop perfection: it was written by Smokey Robinson, and performed by the Temptations.
Best bit: “Hey hey hey” (1:42)

The Smiths – This Charming Man (Peel session).mp3*
There are people who have bought into the foolish notion that The Smiths were in any way depressing. Who created that idea? The Smiths were a great pop combo, and ‘This Charming Man’ is the best example of that.
Best bit: Marr’s closing chords (2:39)

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie.mp3
If you have the right hi-fi equipment and good hearing, apparently you can hear the drummer say “fuck” when he screws up as he comes into song. Which would be the first instance of the f-word word being released on record. Everything about this song is shambolic, which adds to its attraction. It makes even the untalented among us believe that anyone could do this rock ‘n roll lark. So it’s probably more punk than the Sex Pistols ever were.
Best bit: “OK, let’s give it to them, right now” (1:25)

Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday.mp3*
My son’s 13-year-old friend Thabo was going through my iPod, and attracted by this duo’s name (mmm, strawberries) discovered ‘Since Yesterday’, a piece of pop heaven from 1984/85. Thabo was so enchanted by it, he recorded it on to his cellphone (when all he needed to do was visit this blog to get the MP3. Or just ask me for it).
Best bit: The instrumental break (1:32)

David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star.mp3
Is this glam rock or bubblegum pop? Either way, it is faultless pop with loads of little touches which reveal themselves the more familiar one becomes with this1974 hit.
Best bit: “I’ gonna make you a stah-yee-yah-yee-yah-yee-yah-yee-yah-ee-yah-ee-ye-yay-yeaaaa-ur (2:39)

Rainbow – Since You’ve Been Gone.mp3*
Great opening chords, some of the best handclaps outside a Motown studio, a catchy chorus, and fantastic pop-rock vocals of the kind that would come to influence every big hair rocker (by a dude with short hair).
Best bit: Things picking up again after the bridge (2:15)

Wham! – Club Tropicana.mp3
Wham! had their share of great pop tunes: ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, ‘Freedom’. But this trumps any of these. It’s a total joy from the first few seconds when the crickets chirp to the final “coooo-ooool”. Only a curmudgeon could not derive pleasure out of this.
Best bit: The duelling saxophones (2:45)

DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – Summertime.mp3
It is indeed the sound of a lazy summer’s day. If this is going to be Will Smith’s sole legacy worth preserving (as seems likely), then we nonetheless owe him a debt of gratitude for adding to the pop canon this most evocative seasonal anthem. Props to DJ Jazzy Jeff who presumably was responsible for sampling so well from Kool & the Gangs ‘Summer Madness’ (download that as well).
Best bit: The Kool & the Gang sample throughout.

* previously posted

The Age of the Afro: '70s Soul Vol. 3

March 14th, 2008 12 comments

After a hiatus of a few weeks, we return to the age of the Afro, the glorious times of sunny soul which talked about love and preached social-consciousness. Read more…

Funny Friday

March 7th, 2008 No comments

I am so sad that the goldmine that was holygoof.com is no more, apparently zapped by the site’s host. The Holy Goof was a like a supernova: it appeared suddenly, was quite a spectacle, and disappeared as suddenly (that’s what supernovas do, right?). I have not come across a finer audio comedy site, and my life “” and iPod “” is emptier without the fine comedy which the Holy Goof shared. So, for funny Friday, a bit of comedy; some of it samples from stuff I found at the Holy Goof.

Ali G – Ali G Meets Posh Spice And Beckham.mp3
Ali G has been eclipsed by Borat, who was much funnier in small doses than in a feature film. This interview with Victoria Beckham and her little pet monkey is Baron Cohen at the height of his game. He makes Posh repeat what football fans used to allege about her supposed unlocking of the tradesman’s entrance. When he sets up David with a poor joke, it is not the punchline that makes us laugh, but the way David walked into it. And through it all, Victoria handles it with grace, making me almost like her.

Chris Rock – Real People Of Ignorance (Friend of a Rap Star).mp3
Chris Rock – Real People Of Ignorance (Tattoo).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Pineapple).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Jamaica).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Mars).mp3
Five short skits from Chris Rock’s Never Scared album, a collection of stand-up and skits. While I regard Chris Rock as the funniest and most penetrative stand-up comedian of his generation, his skits are a mixed bag. The five on offer here, however, are very good indeed. Rock’s backing vocals on the “Real People Of Ignorance” bits are total genius “” hear his comments on nightvision goggles and the purposelessness of vaginal tattooes (and those in Sanskrit). The Friend of a Rap Star one comes from an earlier post.

Jim Norton – Michael Jackson Is The Artist Of The Millennium
Be warned: Jim Norton smacks you in the face with some entirely inappropriate gags. You may laugh because it is funny, but even then you gasp and think: “He didn’t say that, did he?” Michael Jackson is, of course, an easy target. Britney Spears, another target in this bit, was not yet the pitiable wreck she is now. With Norton, one understands after a while that the offensive lines, often self-deprecating, are merely gratuitous, not representing an agenda or manifesto. By Norton ascribing shocking conduct to himself, he opens his way to be as shocking and scathing about the targets of his jokes. Still, fuckin’ hell, man!

Patton Oswalt – You Are Allowed 20 Birthday Parties.mp3
Patton Oswald is only marginally less ready to offend than Jim Norton. His CV lends him some credibility: voices for various versions of Grand Theft Auto; appearances in several movies and TV shows, and a voice appearance in the Pixar movie Ratatoullie. His routine is laced with pitchblack humour, offset by a certain self-deprecating geek charm (indeed, self-deprecation is a popular technique among contemporary comedians. Ãœbergeek Woody Allen used to it great effect in his stand-up days).

Eddie Izzard – Americans.mp3
Eddie Izzard – The Future.mp3
When I big up Chris Rock as the finest stand-up comedian of his generation, I feel a need to send an apology to that cross-dressing genius Eddie Izzard. I love Izzard’s voice and delivery, but it is his way of weaving a narrative “” not unlike that other giant of British standup, Billy Connolly “” which merits total admiration. So it was quite difficult to cull a couple of tracks out of the context of that narrative. Izzard’s humour is insightful, playing with absurd concepts and the surreal, rather than turning to aggressive sarcasm for laughs.

Paul F Tompkins – Cherry Picking.mp3
A veteran of TV comedy programming, Paul F Tompkins’ debut album Impersonal is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Some bits, like this one, are very amusing; others seem to try too hard in their stretch for surreal humour. But Tompkins’ delivery is likable “” you feel that you are in the company of somebody who will make you laugh at some point; and sooner than later he does. And even the chuckle-free bits hold the listeners interest because Tompkins knows how to tell a story. Sides will remain unsplit, but one is not likely to regret the time spent listening to Tompkins’ brand of observational humour.

Bill Hicks – On The Bright Side.mp3
This is from the Shock & Awe album, recorded in Oxford. While Izzard is an Englishman speaking to an American audience, so is Hicks the Yank trying to explain his country to an English audience, and trying to make sense of Britain. This is not Hicks at the top of his game ““ for one thing, he’s is far less aggro and much more laid back than on other recordings “” but even Hicks not at his best is preferable to many other comedians. Just two years after this show was recorded, Hicks died of pancreatic cancer,

on February 26, 1994. While he never attained great fame, his influence on any number of contemporary comedians, including some featured here, is evident.

Peter Sellers – Party Political Speech.mp3
I have said it before: Peter Sellers is not by any stretch of the imagination a favourite comedian. I find absolutely nothing mirth-inducing about “Birdy Nam Nam”, and the Goon Show leaves me cold, other than to acknowledge the debt owed to it by Monty Python and everything that took influence from that ensemble. But when Sellers was cooking, he really was great. His satire of a political speech which is high on pomposity and empty of content might sound dated in delivery, but remains relevant today. And on the subject of politics: what is the fucking matter with fucking Ohio? Bush in 2004; HRC in ’08?

Intros quiz – 1973 edition

March 5th, 2008 8 comments

Today we’ll start a new theme on the Intros Quizzes: the anniversary series. All 20 songs come from the same year, in this case (as the attentive reader may have guessed) 1973 “” 35 years ago. The next one will focus on 1978, then 1983 etc.

All songs here were hits in 1973. Some were released in 1972 but became hits in 1973; a few were released in 1973 and became hits in 1974 (mostly in Europe, which used to lag behind the US and UK).

I’ll post the answers into the comments by the weekend.

Intros Quiz – 1973 edition

Categories: Intros Quiz Tags: