Friday, 8 February 2013

My Musical Diary XLVIII

Hello everyone! It's Friday, which means it's time for another Diary! I had way too much potential songs to write about this week but had to make cuts so that this entry is not too long (to write and read as well). It was very hard though...hope I remember to write about the eliminated songs here soon because they're all definitely worth it.

David Bowie - Baal's Hymn

Two Bowie songs fought for this spot this week. Five Years, which I realised I knew all the lyrics to when I started to sing it to myself while playing golf on my iPhone the other night - and Baal's Hymn. And because even many Bowie fans never heard Bowie sing this Brecht song, I decided to feature this one.

I'd been aware of Bowie's involvement in the 1982 TV adaptation of the 1918 Bertold Brecht play but apart from The Drowned Girl (featured in the Platinum Collection Bowie compilation) I'd never heard any of the several songs Bowie recorded for it until they were analysed on the Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog (aka the Best Bowie Blog in the Universe) over a year ago. Bowie played the title role in the TV play and sang five songs which were also released as an EP.

Baal's Hymn is the opening track (and opening song in the play) and perhaps my favourite on the EP - partly because of the melody (written by Brecht himself) and partly because of the way Bowie sings it. He is a pretty good singer on a bad day, but Baal's Hymn must be, in my opinion, one of the best vocal performances of his career. Bowie is at his best when he's more or less OTT and in full volume and he gets to do just this on this song. The fact the performance requires expressiveness and a certain amount of theatricality (it's a play and he's acting after all!) definitely helps the overall effect.

Immensely MAAAHVELOUS, indeed.

(For a more detailed and very interesting read on the Baal EP check out this link.)

Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up (feat. Kate Bush)

At some point last week I realised I hadn't listened to this song in months and immediately felt ashamed. I have to say I don't think I ever really "got" this song until last week. But the overwhelming presence of the global economic crisis might have helped me to make an interpretation.

An observation: If you listen to this song while watching tiny birds feeding at the feeder on your balcony it offers a moment of tranquillity. If you listen to it while watching the official simple but very effective video, there's a big chance you'll get a wee bit choked up.

A sidenote: Kate's vocal in this song is like a gentle caress...oh I just love this woman so much. That's all.

Pet Shop Boys - Jealousy

I listened to the Pet Shop Boys quite a bit last week. Whenever I do so I always get a guilty feeling because it's obvious I don't listen to them nearly enough. You can never listen to them enough. The melodies, the masterful lyrics, the deadpan humour, the emotionless emotion...there can never be too much of that.

And Jealousy, right the first song Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe ever wrote together, has all the above qualities. And as far as songs about the subject matter of jealousy go, this surely has to be one of the very best ones.

Do check out this adorable 31+ year old demo version of the song:

Suede - It Starts and Ends With You

The 90's glam kids Suede are back. No longer kids, even remotely. But the second of the new single (the first being Barriers) is still as strong as any of their biggest hits. I'm on greatest hits terms with Suede but I think it's a testament to the quality of It Starts... that I think it totally could have been on a best of album. It's a strong, catchy and signature Suede song. Well done!

The Avett Brothers - The Once and Future Carpenter

I discovered this folk-rock North Carolina band in 2009 because of Kick Drum Heart, which is an amazingly rocking, piano & drums-led affair. But I've almost entirely forgot about them in the last couple of years until I saw a review of their new album The Carpenter in a Czech online music mag. The review made me check out the new songs and I have to say, listening to them late at night and paying attention, wine in hand, the music on this album moved me in a way I had no idea I could be moved. This is music made by people who just love writing songs and playing. People who have human things to say and don't care much about what the latest trend in pop music is. It's just a joy to listen to someone who doesn't make music for any kind of pretence, but just for the joy of it (not that there's anything wrong with pretence in music, mind!). It's hard to explain, I suppose the album has to be listened to and connected to. I can't promise what happened to me (tears) will happen to you but I personally can only recommend The Carpenter.

Video Bonus:

Little Mix - Change Your Life

Manufactured pop time!!!!!!!! Yay!

Change Your Life is a mid-tempo song about...well, changing your life, stepping up and not letting anyone drag you down. In short ONE BIG CLICHÉ but as a pop song from a girlband it's not bad at all and if I were God I'd make sure it becomes a proper hit. O'well.

The video is nothing special (unlike the video for the girls' previous single DNA) but cute and adequate to the song. There you go.

Hurts - Miracle

There was so much I wanted to write about the new Hurts video. There was going to be a whole freaking essay (not really) about how it made me like the song (which is sounding too Coldplay-ish for my taste). But the video has been taken down a few days ago and now it's nowhere to be found online. I have no idea why.

You can see parts of the official (?) video in the fan video below but while nice, it's not as good as the real thing. There was a lot of black, some fire, dark angels of destruction (aka girls in skimpy black underwear) and a good white angel who possibly got killed by all the Hurts evil. Or something. And there was a raven. I love ravens. My only criticism of the original video was: too much of Theo's face and Adam's guitar, not enough of Adam's face. And not enough of the raven. But that's just nit picking. I loved the video. Please come back, dear video.

Thanks for reading, comment and share if you want....and till next week..........

Love, Peace and Ringo! x

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