Saturday, 22 December 2012

My Musical Diary XLIII - The Xmas Edition

This week's Diary is a bit of a hybrid. Three "regular" songs, and since it's Xmas in just a few days, also five additional Xmas songs that I count among my favourites. Enjoy!

Hurts - The Road

Hurts have unleashed a new song on us (you can get it if you pre-order their upcoming 2nd album on iTunes) as well as new tour dates (I'm a proud owner of a ticket to its Prague gig) and everything's fine. Now, I'll have to wait for the whole album to see if everything really is fine, but The Road sure is pretty good. A dark, almost Nine Inch Nails-ish ditty, all moody and stuff. I like me some of that.

Stooshe - Betty Woz Gone

I was listening to one of my radios the other day (RIP radios...this service will no longer be available for my country and countless others. booo!) and this song came on. Now, it's not usually what I listen to but for some reason this song just entertains me. I got a listen to this girlband's other songs but I didn't find them half as interesting as this one.

Nancy Sinatra - You Only Live Twice

On Wednesday I finally saw a Bond film in the cinema, the recent one, of course - Skyfall - and I really really liked it. A Bond film with a story! Come again? I came home and felt like listening to Bond theme songs, so I got myself and album and had a bit of Bond listening spree.
Now, many Bond songs are just great pieces of pop. Timeless, beautiful. You Only Live Twice is lesser known than some others (even though the film is pretty good) but the strings motive was famously sampled into Robbie Williams's Millennium, and actually I would count this song among the very best Bond songs.

The Xmas section: my 5 favorite Xmas pop songs

These days I'm not exactly big on Christmas. I don't particularly hate it, I just don't get very excited about it. I also don't listen to Christmas songs at Christmas time much...I tend to listen to the truly good ones any other time throughout the year, but on Christmas, it just gets all too much. Still, what other time should I make a list of my favourite Xmas pop songs on my dear blog, but just now. So, here it goes:

The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song

This is a lesser known but a charming Christmas pop song, that I tend to return to every year even though I don't really listen to the band's "regular" songs.

The Pogues - A Fairytale of New York

Best Christmas song ever? There's just no way I would not feature this gem here.

The Killers - A Great Big Sled

The The Killers are releasing a Christmas single every year, and since they generally are a good band, also most of their Xmas songs are pretty good. That made my job here pretty hard, since I obviously only could choose one of their songs. Now, Joseph, Better You Than Me is probably my favourite of their Christmas releases, but the song itself works well outside of the Christmas context and I personally don't file it under "Christmas Songs" as such, so I decided to choose the Christmassiest one - A Great Big Sled. While lyrically it's still quirky and a wee bit dark, the very first of The Killers' Christmas singles also sounds the most like a Christmas song - in the best possible way. It sounds like a big shiny Las Vegas Christmas tree which is a bit sad since it sits all alone in the middle of a desert.

I want to roll around like a kid in the snow,
I want to re-learn what I already know,
Just let me take flight,
Dressed in red, through the night,
On a great big sled.

Pet Shop Boys - It Doesn't Often Snow At Christmas

Let's face it, this is a brilliant Christmas song. Just the lyrics alone are worth framing on the wall and displaying every December.

Christmas is not all it's cracked up to be
Families fighting around a plastic tree
Nothing on the TV that you'd want to see
And it's hardly ever snowing the way it's meant to be
Like in white Christmas year after year

Bing Crosby! Bing Crosby! Are you listening to me?!?!?!

(By the way, it's supposed to be very warm and non-snowy here on Christmas so I guess this song will be my anthem this Xmas time.)

Robert Downey Jr. - River

It was gonna be a tie between Elton's Step Into Christmas and Marc Almond's Christmas in Vegas but I had to give the last place on my list to this Robert's wonderful cover of a Joni Mitchell song. I first discovered it thanks to Ally McBeal and (over) a decade later I still think it's great.

Thanks for reading...feel free to share and comment...and...


Until then....

Love, Peace and Ringo! x

Video bonus:

The Killers - Here With Me

Another week, another brand new Killer music video. This one was directed by Tim Burton and it's therefore sufficiently creepy. Winona Ryder and Craig Roberts star.

Marc Bolan & T. Rex, Elton John, and Ringo Starr - Children of the Revolution

And here's something I randomly stumbled upon on Youtube. A video of Elton John and Ringo Starr jamming with T. Rex on the band's famous song Children of the Revolution. Contains Marc Bolan in a piano (for some reason).

Friday, 14 December 2012

My Musical Diary XLII

Another week has passed, and so I present my version of it to you in the form of another five songs... Geronimo!

Dusty Springfield - In the Middle of Nowhere

Dusty could sing a great torch song but after listening to a best of of hers this week I decided to choose this lesser known upbeat rocking song. I remember being once quite lost, somewhere in Prague, when this song came on on my oldschool discman my utter amusement. The above video includes a hot live version of ...Nowhere, since I couldn't find the version my best of CD features, and which is IMO superior to the regular version.

Bryan Ferry - Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

On Monday I had the need to listen to this song over and over. Not quite sure why. I actually had not known it before I bought Bryan's These Foolish Things album a few years ago and so I had no idea it was co-written by Stevie Wonder. Well, he did a great job, writing this one, but it's definitely Bryan's delivery that makes this song for me. It's so idiosyncratic, as most of Bryan's early records, but it works, even for this pop-soul ditty. And the band is just hot in this song...even if the arrangement is based on the original record by the Four Tops, the cover just has...bigger balls, to put it simply.

Bear McCreary/Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower

I'm a geek. Bute even though I was really into space and had SF leanings since childhood I only got really into sci-fi in my early twenties, and I've been catching up on SF series and films for the past few years. I'm currently hooked on the noughties' Battlestar Galactica (if anyone's interested: I'd shag Tory, Starbuck and Baltar) and a few days ago I finished the third series. And the third series finale featured this Bob Dylan-penned song quite prominently. BSG's score creator even made his own version of ...Watchtower and had his brother sing it. This version is definitely interesting, even if I prefer either Dylan's original version, or the most famous version by Jimi Hendrix. I'm including them all here, in chronological order - for comparison and for fun. And, if anyone's interested in Bryan Ferry's version which came out on his album Dylanesque, you can listen to it here.

Juliet Simms - Wild Child

Together with Jamar Rogers, Juliet was my favourite contestant on the otherwise kind of unfortunate second season of the US Voice. This woman rocks. Check out her amazing voice on her many covers available on iTunes. Not all of Juliet's fans are happy with this new single of hers. Some are not happy at all, some only hate the semi-rap parts - but I actually love this song. Been addicted to it for a few days and I wish it were available worldwide to buy, not just on the US iTunes. I don't mind it it being poppier than I expected. I might listen to a lot of weird, non-mainstream music, but I also love pop music. Besides, Juliet's voice is gritty and sexy enough to rock even this admittedly pop ditty. Also: Geronimo!

Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks

Well, that wasn't much of a jump, really. I'd heard Little Talks on the radio before but I only really noticed the song on The Voice this season when two contestant duetted on it on the show, while the band (OMAM) watched on. The song makes me want to check out the whole album...reminds me of early Arcade Fire a bit, as well as DeVotchKa, to which I used to listen to years ago.

video bonus:

The Killers - Miss Atomic Bomb video

After a tour video (of which I wrote a few weeks ago) the band has presented us with a half-animated video for Miss Atomic Bomb, as well. The video continues the story from Mr Brightside's video, even going as far as including some of the actors from that video. It's a really well done video, this. Unlike the song, which needs a few listens to become a love affair, the video connects immediately - and especially if you have seen Mr Brightside - and who hasn't. (Personally, Brightside is one of my favourite music videos. Full stop.)

Frank Sinatra appreciation

Frankie would have turned 97 on Wednesday, and so I definitely feel the need to remember him in visual form here. Sinatra was, obviously, not "just" a singer but a very fine actor as well. He played some serious roles, he acted in comedies and he featured in several fine musicals. High Society being probably my favourite of these - I already mentioned loving his duet with Celeste Holm, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, here some time ago. But Frank also duetted with another famous acting baritone in this film. Yep, with Bing Crosby. So here are the two wee men with big voices, giving laughs on Cole Porter's Well, Did You Evah:

And now kiss!

But Frank also gave an excellent performance as a Heroin addict in a 1955 film The Man With The Golden Arm, which you can watch here:

And let's not forget if it weren't for Frank's and the Rat Pack's involvement in 1960's Ocean's Eleven, there might have never been the remakes starring the less musical, more handsome and equally suave George Clooney:

And finally, I would have recommended you to watch a 1965 Frank Sinatra documentary, which used to be available online last year. Sadly it's been taken down since, so instead here's a younger documentary instead, and it's pretty good as well. Enjoy!

Thanks so much for reading. Subscribe, if you want, comment below if you want and - again, if you want - feel free to share this little post. Till next week...when I may or may not do a special Xmas edition....

Peace, Love and Ringo! x

Friday, 7 December 2012

My Musical Diary XLI

Another week has passed and so another blog post with my favourite songs from the last few days is due. Okay, here we go then!

Marc and the Mambas - Caroline Says (live at the Duke of York's Theatre)

I finally got around to watching the recently released DVD of the legendary piece of Marc Almond history, known as the gig at the Duke of York's Theatre, and liked it much better than I expected. I'm not the biggest fan of the Mambas period...which musically is definitely good, but overall it's just very heavy and reeks of drugs and despair. But I discovered the material comes off better in a live setting, which I kind of expected, and came out of the whole experience loving Untitled (which has a great melody in the chorus...more on this song maybe some other time...) but what I did not expect was seeing Marc Almond holding a baby while singing a cover of The Velvet Underground's Caroline Says. The pricelessness of it all.

The above video doesn't have a great quality but it's for free. If you want a better quality, on a DVD, with a CD of the concert as a bonus, check out this link.

Jacques Brel - Le moribond

Marc also sang an English cover of Jacques Brel's Jackie at the aforementioned gig, a song which he recorded and released as a single 8 years later. That inspired me to pick up my Brel best of album to which I hadn't listened to in many years and even though I don't speak French, it's obvious I was missing something after I stopped listening to this double album. I know so many of his songs covered by other artists, sung in English (mainly Marc & Bowie) and Czech (check out this amazing version of La chanson des vieux amants
...doesn't seem this song has been covered in English properly yet), so whenever I dig into his songbook I seem to rediscover new amazing songs. There obviously is a language barrier here, but even though I don't understand most of what Brel is singing, he's the kind of artist who is able to transcend this.

Le moribond is one of the songs which I would never connect with Brel. I knew it it Czech and I knew it in English (Seasons in the Sun), and I hated all of these versions. But when I heard Brel's original I was stunned how much sense the song makes in French. I have no idea what's sung there bar a word here or there but Brel manages to make the song not sound annoying. His version sounds proud, if that makes sense (and looking at the translation, it actually does). Shows you how much power an arrangement and a passionate, unique singer can have over a song.

The Killers - I Feel It in My Bones + video

Another year, another Christmas song by the Killers! The band has been faithfully releasing one since 2006, which makes the latest one the 7th one already. Time flies! The Killers's annual Christmas songs have ranged from comedic to thoughtful to downright depressing, I Feel It In My Bones is a mix of all, best described as dark comedic...and to my ears it actually sounds quite Halloween-y. The song has a strong 80's sound, which would make it fit right into the band's latest album Battle Born. I like the song quite a lot but man, do I absolutely LOVE the video!

Lana Del Rey - Paris

The other day, when I was listening to Afraid, I realised it would be really nice if I could own all of Lana's unreleased songs. So I got them. And I haven't even remotely listened to all of them yet. Christmas time is a busy bitch! So far I've only listened to a few songs which titles appealed to me...and let's face it...Paris is a pretty grabbing song title.

The heroine of of this song fits the archetype of Lana's "official" songs quite well. A small town girl dreaming of the big, glamorous European city she knows from films. She lives in the 50's or 60's...and wasn't Paris back then magical. I love the little grammar tweaks in Lana's lyrics which help to build a whole story around this little retro pop song. And pop it is.....more than the stuff of hers you keep hearing on the radio. Musically it actually reminds me of Lily Allen a bit.

David Bowie - Dead Against It

Another song choice caused by the excellent Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog, analysing Bowie's discography, song by song. The Buddha of Suburbia TV series soundtrack is a kind of a half-forgotten Bowie album. I was able to acquire it only when it was reissued 5 years ago. I listen to this song quite often but for some reason, last night, while reading the blog author's post about it, the song triggered a whole wave of memories of my first visiting the UK 8 years ago...I even had to go and investigate where in London I actually stayed at that time. That whole week-long trip was just so cool. But it's strange. I didn't even know this song at that time...but for some reason Dead Against It (with lyrics having nothing to do with my case) keeps reminding me of this sweet teenage time. Nowadays it's one of my very favourite Bowie songs.

Video bonus:

I usually post music videos here but since none caught my attention last week, there will be none this time. Instead, I'd like to feature some interesting music-related footage I've found on YouTube recently. I should do this more often here, since I keep finding cool stuff online all the time.

Leonard Cohen 1966 TV interview footage

Leonard is talking about poetry here, not singing but damn, wasn't he a wisearse even back then! Compared to today's interviews he definitely seems shier and less sure of himself. At 32, his eyes don't have that glint of the nowadays well known Laughing Len yet, but he already offers some interesting thoughts for his audience to ponder on. And last but not least he's very attractive here, and age-compatible to my 2012 self. If only I had a TARDIS...

Bryan Ferry late November 2012 interview

A pretty good very recent interview with Bryan which touches on his latest album The Jazz Age (which I reviewed here last week) as well as his career, influences, style and all that jazz (no pun intended). Apart from being handsome and not looking his age he also manages to be quite adorable in this interview - and more charming and less awkward and shy than he tends to be on these occasions.

Thanks for reading and I hope you might have even discovered your new favourite song here. If not, check out the older entries of my Diary. Feel free to share this post and to comment below as well.

Till next week...

Love, Peace and Ringo! x

Saturday, 1 December 2012

My Musical Diary XL (week 40)

Time flies, and here's already a 40th edition of my weekly musings about my favourite songs. Here we go then!

Kate Bush  - This Woman's Work (Echoes Remix)

I don't usually like remixes, let alone ones of Kate Bush songs but this one is quite good - and deserves a place here. My thanks go to a fellow Kate Bush fan @Gnaes for alerting me to it.

The Dresden Dolls - Kaledrina

I hadn't listened to this song for a few years before it suddenly decided to get stuck in my head earlier this week.

When I woke up,
My arm was off,
My eye was missing,
My face was cracked,
My mouth was rusting,
My dress was ripped,
A button stuck,

This mechanism,
Seems to be broken.

But pull the string,
Still I can talk:

"My name is Kaledrina, and I love you very much....."

This broken doll imagery is very effective, the "my name" line/chorus is very dramatic and some of Amanda's piano motifs are quite beautiful. Therefore it's a shame this song was never properly recorded. On the other hand, the existing live version does have certain elements which could get lost in a studio treatment.

The Runaways - Cherry Bomb

Sometimes a girl wants a bit of rock'n'roll but doesn't want to listen to a penis. What does a girl turn to then? Joan Jett, Blondie, Hole...or Joan Jett's former family The Runaways. Even if the song was actually co-written by a guy (but Joan, too), it's still a pretty powerful and confident sexual statement. Girls get horny too! Or something. The fact Cherie Currie was only 16/17 when singing this song is a wee bit controversial, but these days this is simply a great, hot rock song that managed to survive decades.

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra - Don't Stop the Dance

Well, The Jazz Age, the album from which the above song comes from, is pretty much my album of the week/month... I originally wanted to include Avalon here but sadly the only TJA cut I can find on YouTube is Don't Stop The Dance - which is not bad by any means...just less funny compared to the original. I totally can't stop listening to this record. Shimmy shimmy.

Leonard Cohen - Take This Waltz

Let's finish this entry off with another sexy gentleman who looks good in a suit. For some reason I kept having the mood for listening to Lenny in the mornings the past few days. It's hilarious, since Lenny has always been considered the ideal companion for lonely nights with a cigar and wine. I suppose what calms down others probably wakes me up. But Take This Waltz is a song you can waltz to, which can totally be considered working out. So it's not such a weird winter morning song choice after all.

The the amazing lyrics of the song are based a Federico García Lorca poem called Pequeño vals vienés and recently they even inspired a Sarah Polley film of the same name (which I've yet to see). The music is very Austrian-Hungarian, but also delightfully Jewish (the more Lenny stays true to Jewish tradition in his melodies, the more I tend to love his songs), and the final result is one of Leonard Cohen's best songs.

And I'll dance with you in Vienna
I'll be wearing a river's disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook
With the photographs there, and the moss

And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
Oh my love, oh my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It's yours now, it's all that there is

video bonus:

The Rolling Stones - Doom and Gloom video

Doom and Gloom, I just like this song. And it even gets played on the radio...well done, 50 year-old band! Also well done for getting the sexy Swedish actress Noomi Rapace to star in the video for this song (and even show her can see them in the uncensored version by the way). A pretty good video...mainly thanks to Noomi's rock'n'rolling hotness.

Amelia Lily - Shut Up (and Give Me Whatever You Got) video

And more hotness! The video for Amelia's second single is nothing special, but she sure looks shag-worthy in it. For some reason Xonomania production sounds better with a meaty voice like Amelia's, than it does with Girls Aloud's twee voices... Or maybe it's just the song - and Amelia sells it well, leaning against a wall in a promo video and all.

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass tribute video

Two days ago it's been 11 years since my dear Beatlegeorgie left us. I totally cried back then and I totally cried when My Sweet Lord came on the radio on Thursday. Hell, I'm even getting a bit misty-eyed right now. And because I want to drag you to my level of pathetic, I've decided to include this simple fan video to a demo of All Things Must Pass, which is a song that can reduce me to tears whenever I hear it. Combine this with George's childhood pictures, and I hope you're weeping too...

And now that you've dried your eyes, I want to thank you for reading and I hope you'll come back next week for more, like any self-respecting masochist. Share or comment if you want. Till next time....

Love, Peace and Ringo! x