Sunday, 8 January 2012

Five of the best

 Well, as those of you who know me will know I am liable, from time to time, to share a list of five things that I like with you - my unsuspecting and regular audience.

This time, and further to a conversation with Argent, I am sharing a list of five songs that if I were ever to compile a list of favourite songs would certainly be towards the higher end of that list

Some may look at the list and wonder how it is possible to like wildly differing types of music and to those people I say well, why not?

A-ha - I've Been Losing You
So immediately there will be cries from music lovers around the globe that A-Ha represent the worst of Boy-band Bubblegum pop.  Disposable nonsense with pretty boys and plinky-plonky keyboards.  To these people I say: stuff and nonsence

Yes it is true that when they first came to fame they had an immensely high number of impressionable female followers and as a result of attending one of those early concerts I still suffer from occasional bouts of tinnitus brought on by two hours of 50,000 teenage girls screaming hysterically - but I think that they're reputation for being disposable nonsense is unfair and unfounded.  Scratch beneath the surface and you find a series of well crafted and intricately arranged pop classics and a vocalist with one of the most amazingly versatile voices in pop.

I've Been Losing You, taken from their second album, is a remarkably dark tale about someone who - it can only be assumed from the lyrics - has just shot someone.  Indeed the whole of Scoundrel Days (the album) themes around crime and punishment (although the lyric "maybe it was over/when you chucked me out the Rover" remains one of my favourite unintentionally funny lyrics of all time)

What sells it to me every time on this song is that bass line, the little chick-a-chick of the guitar and then, right at the end, that bit where the song stops - and then the drums come back in for the finale.

Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind
What can I really say about this song - one of the most beautifully played and vocalised songs of all time.  From the wistful strings at the start, to Ray Charles's tones and that sentiment of longing... give me a cup of coffee, a Best Of Ray Charles and a blank sheet of canvas to paint on and I'm set for the day.

Joy Division - No Love Lost
It's weird how the legend of Joy Division has grown.  When I first got into them it was via New Order (the band they became after singer Ian Curtis's death) and they were still something of an underground legend.  Now it seems to be universally acknowledged that they were one of the most important and influential bands of the punk movement

OK -so the lyrics are dark and depressing, but listen to the musicianship on this song - you won't find any other band in the world that has so much going on musically, and certainly no other punk band came close.  The video appears to be clips from Anton Corbjin's excellent biopic "Control"

Manic Street Preachers - Motorcycle Emptiness
Just to prove that I didn't entirely stop listening to music in the 1980s here's a song from the 90s.  The Manics, with their daft politics and youthful enthusiasm wrote some amazing songs and have continued to write good, if less daftly political songs since their rise to fame and fortune.  I actually heard this when it was first released and loved the guitar line - although the clip on The Chart Show was so brief that, at that time, I had no idea who was performing the song.

The Sugarcubes - Coldsweat
I can only assume that, in some corner of the world, the eyes of Bjork Goddmundsdottr and Kate Bush must be avidly glued to their respective TVs to see who has won this year's Annual Mrs Madman award.

Well Kate - it was a good effort with the song about the washing machine and hiring Stephen Fry to recide 50 made up words for snow - but I'm sorry to say that Bjork wins it hands down.

I first heard The Sugarcubes (of whom Bjork was the lead singer before solo success) on a Saturday morning pop show called The Chart Show - where they would play independent videos as well as mainstream stuff.  She was wailing away in icelandic - but even then there was something about her voice that just sparked a shiver - both innocent and wildly sexual at the same time.

Since then Bjork has had much competition in the loopy stakes (Lady Ga-Ga's meat dress anyone?) but I think the album where she used nothing but throat singing for backing and the seven minute recording of some tibetian bloke banging a stick and yelling "Ye-o-o-o-o-o-op" will take some beating.

Still, if you think she's bonkers you should check out Einar Orn, the backing vocalist in The Sugarcubes in this deeply disturbing video.  Cold Sweat remains one of my favourite songs of all time - the immensely dark lyrics, pounding drums and bass - and Bjork's primal rage...

Talking Heads - (Nothing But) Flowers
I couldn't leave you without a clip of my all time favourite band, and possibly (if i were forced to chose one) my all time favourite song.

No matter how miserable I may be if I were to put this song on I would be unable to stop myself from singing and dancing along - it's that catchy.

I mean, come on, how can you not like a song about someone who has gone back to nature and then realizes that he missed technology?

And one for Herself...

Not so long ago, on a particularly special day, I gave a surprise present to Herself - it was a CD of Cliff Richard's greatest hits.  It came with the message that I loved her as she was - naff taste in music included.

Music lovers everywhere should turn away now - or else try and find the Shed 7 cover version - which somehow turns it into a really, really good song


Stephen Hayes said...

One of these songs is on my top ten favorites list. I'll let you guess which one.

Titus said...

I'm guessing Georgia!

And good choices, even though I make it seven. I am tired.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Stephen - if it's Georgia then that's a point in your favour :)

Titus - it's a running joke that my list of fives never add up to five, and never will :)

Anonymous said...

The Sugarcubes. Where have they been my whole life . . .

The Bug said...

Well darn I can't watch the last two videos, but I've already decided that I can't be your friend anymore - ha! Actually, I can be your friend if I can just stare at the lead singer for A-Ha for a while :)

P.S. The word verification is pangle, which is probably closer to the style of music I like :)

Lydia said...

I watched all of them through (except Georgia because I know it so well) until I came to your all-time favorite and the one for Herself...and those two are blocked here. I promise to try to remember to look them up.

The reason I played all the others is because they were all new to me. I had seen Bjork on tv getting an award in a swansuit, but had never heard her sing. I think she is phenomenal. I love how you called her "bonkers" because she truly is. But it suits her.

I sure love your music reviews, btw. You have a real knack for this stuff.

The lead singer in A-ha has an amazing voice. And I liked the song lots.

The lead singer in Joy Division is no match for the one in A-ha, imho, but I don't get the feeling that he was going for Songster of the Year. Is he the one who died at 23? Really a shame...such talent. I absolutely loved the beginning of the song, the instrumental part.

Manic Street Preachers affected me the least, in part I think because I think the 90s gave some pretty lackluster music. It was a kick seeing them, though.

Wonderful post! It is 2:40a.m. and I am heading to bed, forgive me, without hunting down the final two videos at this time. :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

tsdaddy - "Life's Too Good" and "Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week" are both imperfect gems of albums - the third album was less good

check out "motorcrash" which is one of the linked videos that follows

Bug - are you a Cliff fan or something? Bless

Lydia - Bjork's swan dress was when she won an award for her acting in "Dancer In The Dark"

I'm intrigued by your responses to the music - it's interesting for me because I like Joy Division and A-ha for entirely different reasons, so wouldn't have thought to compare them

You should definately check out the Talking Heads song - they were a fantastic band