Posts Tagged ‘Dean Martin’

iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol. 8

March 23rd, 2010 8 comments

A couple of years ago I started an occasional series of songs that popped up on my iPod”s random shuffle. I had sort of forgotten all about it, but it”s rather good fun (and liberating) to explore these random songs instead of working from carefully compiled shortlists. So, here are five more in the Random 5-track iPod Experiment.

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Tracy Chapman – If Not Now (1988).mp3
I have many great memories which are soundtracked by Tracy Chapman”s excellent 1988 debut album, particularly a life-changing trip to Zimbabwe. I played Side One of the album to death, put off by a couple of songs on the second side which simply weren”t as good, especially the two openers, Mountain O” Things and the cod-reggae of She”s Got A Ticket. If Not Now is the side”s penultimate song, preceded by the outstanding For My Lover. Great memories of Zimbabwe apart, the Chapman album now always reminds me of my wedding day in 1993, when my brother played the album loudly while dressing that morning. The wedding video film captures him binding his tie and singing loudly along to Behind The Wall, a song about”¦domestic abuse.


Joy ““ Paradise Road (1980).mp3
Oh, great pick, iPod. Released in 1980, this was the first number 1 on South Africa”s “white” charts by a local black act, topping the Springbok charts for nine weeks. That was remarkable under apartheid, of course, even if the song is mainstream pop. Even more remarkable, it was quite evidently an anti-apartheid song, taking issue here with the laws that outlawed sex (and therefore marriage) across the colour lines. I”m not sure which Paradise Road is being referred to. There is one in Cape Town, in the upscale suburb of Claremont, but that isn”t near the tracks that separated white from black (as Tracy Chapman once put it). It is a fine song, with a most wonderful vocal performance by the late Anneline Malebo, who became the first South African celebrity to announce her HIV-positive status. Despite the mammoth success of Paradise Road, which remains a South African pop classic, and supporting such acts as Lamont Dozier, Timmy Thomas, Clarence Carter and Dobie Gray on their South African tours (before the cultural boycott took hold), Joy had split up by 1983. More on Joy and the tragic, inspiring Malebo.


Bill LaBounty – Didn’t Want To Say Goodbye (1982).mp3
The iPod is caught in an “80s vibe, it seems. Bill LaBounty”s self-titled 1982 album is a criminally overlooked gem. Perhaps it came three years too late, belonging to the AOR genre populated by the likes of Ace, Player, Rupert Holmes, Orleans, Ambrosia etc “” the types featured on this mix, in which LaBounty was also represented with the stand-out track of the 1982 album, Living It Up. Another fine track from the album, Look Who’s Lonely Now, was also recorded in 1982 by Randy Crawford, but I don”t know which version came first. The eponymous album was his last for 12 years as LaBounty returned to writing songs for others. In the 1990s he branched out into country, writing several hits for Steve Wariner.


Linda Lewis – Been My Best (1972).mp3

This is really nice. Not a song I”m particularly familiar with. Well, I wouldn”t have known it had you asked whether I have this song, even though I have played the album it”s from often. It resides in the middle of Side 2 of Lewis” 1972 album Lark, a lovely affair in which Lewis creates a folky fusion of Joni Mitchell and Minnie Riperton. The shuffle function is a great way of discovering songs.  The versatile Lewis could do the easy folk thing well; I”ve know her better as the future soul singer who as a child actress appeared in A Hard Day”s Night, as a backing singer, with Tina Charles, on Steve Harley & the Cockney Rebel”s hit Come Up And See Me (she also did backing vocals for the likes of David Bowie and Cat Stevens), and for her glorious “80s disco number Class-Style (I’ve Got It), which featured on Any Major Funk Vol. 4.


Dean Martin ““ Everybody Loves Somebody (1964).mp3
Dino at his most languid. I don”t think that Dean Martin was very serious about this song, written 17 years earlier and recorded spontaneously at the end of recording session. His sardonic delivery, accompanied by antiquated backing vocals that just scream kitsch, is an indication. Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes became a massive hit and one of a handful of signature tunes for Martin. In fact, the title apparently is engraved on his tombstone. In the US, Everybody Loves Somebody took over the #1 spot from the Beatles” A Hard Day”s Night “” which he had predicted the song would do. He also sent Sinatra, who had recorded the song earlier, a telegram, telling his old pal: “This is how you do it”. While a huge hit in the US, Everybody Loves Somebody reached only #11 in Britain, a market which cannot be said to have been averse to easy listening schlock, as the career of the regrettable Engelbert Humperdinck illustrates.


More iPod Random 5-track Experiments

Rudolph – Victim of prejudice

December 15th, 2008 7 comments

We have seen the story played out in countless movies: a marginalised and victimised member of a society finding inclusion after turning his handicap into a communal benefit. So it is with Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

We don”t know much about Rudolph. The song reports that due to a birth defect or medical condition the reindeer has a shiny, virtually luminous red nose, quite in contrast to his black-nosed peers. These evidently have taken to numerous ways of bullying Rudolph, presumably on account of his red nose. The bullying seems to take on the form of abuse directed at the physical non-conformity as well as deliberate marginalisation from social activities. It may well be that the alienation is prompted by other, perhaps related factors. Perhaps Rudy is excessively shy (a disposition which in itself may be rooted in physical differentiation), or perhaps he is rude (a defence mechanism). Perhaps his unglamorous name influences the group dynamic; like children, reindeer can be cruel, and if your name is as dreary as Rudolph, it may be difficult to gain acceptance in a clique which comprises individuals with such remarkable names as Donner, Blitzen and German favourite Vixen which would not be out of place in the line-up of a glamorous heavy metal band.

But we don”t know. All the song tells us is that Rudolph is being bullied, almost certainly on account of his red nose. But then circumstances beyond the group”s control intervene. Bad weather seems to preclude the execution of an important task: the annual delivery of presents to all good children in the world (an inaccurate characterisation, of course; many good children receive no gifts, and many unattractive juveniles will benefit richly from material bounteousness; as Bob Geldof reminded us in poetry when he reminded us that, departing from metereological norm, there won”t be snow in Africa this Christmastime). The CEO of the organisation hits on an unlikely plan: Rudolph”s incandescent nose can double as a headlight, aiding the navigation of his transporter in unfavourable weather conditions. As we learn, the innovation works. Rudolph, having saved the day, finds immediate acceptance, and even a level of celebrity, among his peers. The heavy metal singers presumably act with magnanimity, perhaps patting Rudy on his back and letting him play the bass guitar.

Superficially, the song celebrates the conquest of social exclusion as a response to deviation from the norm. It celebrates the notion that everybody has something to offer to the common good. These are commendable sentiments. However, we ought to question why these impulses to exclude others from social structures on grounds of defects, inherited or caused by illness, exist in first place. How much more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas might the song be had it addressed this specific characteristic of social dynamics more constructively?

Moreover, how much more valid a testament to the season of reconciliation might the song have been had Santa Claus, apparently an equal opportunities employer, taken concrete action to put a prompt end to Rudolph”s discrimination when the problem initially arose. His failure to afford Rudolph protection is aggravated by his opportunistic exploitation of Rudolph”s perceived defect. The episode”s conclusion “” Rudolph”s acceptance into the group “” is purely accidental. Santa used Rudolph”s distinctive attribute for purposes other than effecting that outcome (though he may well have welcomed it).

Without due intervention, Rudolph”s social rehabilitation could not have taken effect otherwise. But with poor Rudolph there must reside a bitterness that the imperfection that once assured his exclusion is now the cause of his celebrity. He is not being received into the group on his own merits, but on basis of a deep-seated hypocrisy. Moreover, he had to prove his usefulness to the group before being incorporated into it. In other words, the other reindeer”s acceptance of him is not founded in their regard for Rudolph, but in his usefulness to the group. Should Rudolph”s nose lose its luminescence and instead turn, say, green, would he lose his new-found status in the group?

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of reindeer”s cruelty against reindeer, managerial failure and the alienation of the reindeer soul. This, I submit, calls not for the upbeat musical treatment of custom. It should be expected that the song be performed as a two-bar blues, a sad country number, or an emo lament, preferably incorporating a verse or two telling the story from Rudy”s perspective, including his contemplation of reindeer suicide.

Mr Martin, shame on you for the cheer with which you invest the distressing tale of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Shame indeed.

Dean Martin – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Temptations – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Bing Crosby – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The iPod Random 5-track Experiment Vol.5

January 7th, 2008 4 comments

When the mood grabs me, I scroll down to the Shuffle function on the iPod and see where it takes me. Here’s the first 5 that came up today:

Joshua Radin – Someone Else’s Life.mp3
A song from my album of 2006. I really like Radin’s calming voice, on this track almost a whisper. Comparisons to Nick Drake are easy when a dude sings quietly, accompanied only by his guitar, but Radin certainly is channelling Drake, with a hint of Simon & Garfunkel. This song was apparently written for his girlfriend, Schuyler Fisk, at a time when he was pursuing her. It must have been an intense pursuit: “Somehow, I”ll make tonight our own, show you every way I”ve grown since I”ve met you.” Some time ago I gave the We Were Here album to my 15-year-old nephew. He is now a massive fan. What better influence can an uncle have but to educate his nephews in the ways of good music? More Joshua Radin here.

Alan Price – Groovy Times.mp3
A beautiful song I don’t hear often enough. Released in 1978, when people weren’t saying “groovy” a lot anymore, it sounds like it was written at a time when people still were saying “groovy”. The arrangement is interesting: it is a mid-tempo ballad in the style of the groovy times of about 1972, but it features restrained Philly-soul strings and a funky disco guitarline. And Price is giving us a great keyboard solo at the end. An insanely happy song. More Alan Price here.

Dusty Springfield – Just A Little Lovin’.mp3
In the late 1960s, British songstress Dusty Springfield went to Memphis and, produced by the great Jerry Wexler, recorded the greatest ever soul album by a white singer. Including the efforts of overrated old Amy Winehouse. Having said that, Dusty in Memphis is a bit overrated itself. It’s a very, very good album and I like it a lot, but it is not quite the masterpiece the critics would have us believe it to be. “Just A Little Lovin” kicks off the album, and if ever there was a song Diana Ross should have sung to show that she was more than the radio-friendly soul-pop princess of Motown, this would have been it. Instead, Dusty nails it perfectly, with a restrained vocal performance and an arrangement that plays entirely to the singer’s strength. More Dusty Springfield here.

Dean Martin – Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.mp3
I cannot claim to be a big fan of the various incarnations of the Idols shows. I do, however, make it a point of watching the local auditions, because there will always be a few laughs to be had. Like the dude who turned up somewhere in South Africa, and announced that he’ll sing a song which he found on a Westlife album, but was originally recorded by Michael Bublé: “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”. He won in the end. The award for worst audition.

Ben Kweller – Until I Die.mp3
Another fine song from 2006, from Kweller’s self-titled album. A lovely but sad song, and the dude is a bit pathetic (in the proper sense of the word) in his fear that the relationship he is in won’t last. Newsflash, Ben: it probably won’t. If you have to beg her to phone you (“I”m in for the night. You”ve got a phone; keep me in mind”) and then ask her to give you a try, then either she’s not that into you, or your self-confessed paranoia and lack of confidence will drive her away. In other words (to quote another Kweller songtitle), this song tells a story many people know all to well from their own bitter experience.