A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Sunday, 29 December 2013

It's the End of Year 'It Crawled Into My Ear, Honest' Annual Playlist!

The blog is one year-old, (pretty much) and here is a big playlist of the best bits from the albums covered so far.  Please listen and share, so that it becomes the most talked-about toy in the playground next year.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy - Julie London

Like many artists of the pre-rock 'n' roll era, Julie London found the sixties pop scene difficult to negotiate.  There was no longer a clear divide between adult and kids' pop, as serious but mellow young-folk such as Simon & Garfunkel, Jimmy Webb and that nice Paul McCartney moved in on the oldsters' turf.  So what to do?  By the later years of the decade, swingers and jazzers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and even Sinatra were dipping their toes with varying degrees of enthusiasm in the waters of the new emerging pop canon, with multiple covers of Yesterday, Something, and Gentle on My Mind threatening to sink the Western seaboard.  This trend had run out of steam by the time of Sinatra's seventies comeback, where he effectively invented the 'vintage artist' career path that most ageing rockers now follow.
   So how did Julie 'Cry Me a River' London fare during this period?  On this 1969 album, and her final for Liberty, we can find out.  The thing is, Julie didn't really do 'fast'.  She was pretty much stuck on the 'slow and sultry' setting.  At best, she could work her way up to 'moderate'.  So here, everything is slower than you're used to.  This is fine on something like 'Light My Fire' as that's always being bloody slowed down, but 'The Mighty Quinn' is practically soporific, and seeing as it is the most inherently un-sexy composition this side of the Frog Song, 'sultry' isn't much use here.  The bubblegum title track is taken to somewhere that lies beyond ideas of 'good' and 'bad', while 'Louie Louie' has never rocked less, and having such a gloriously stupid song sung as if it means something can only end badly.  The version of 'Hushabye Mountain' here, however, is definitive.

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Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Queen Does Her Thing - La Lupe

Before the Cuban revolution, La Lupe was a nightclub act with fans including Hemingway, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Brando and Charles Hawtrey.  Later exiled to the United States, she became the Queen of Cuban Soul.  This particular album is heavy on pop/rock covers, notably 'Touch Me' by the Doors and Down On Me by Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Contains manic laughing on most tracks.

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Thursday, 5 December 2013

From Here to Eternity - Giorgio Moroder

I'm guessing loads of people know about this album already, but it's my blog, so, you know, deal with it.  Up until this point the only Moroder stuff I was aware of under his own name was the infamous Electric Dreams collab with Phil Oakey-Dokey, and that thing with Freddie Mercury doing guest shouty opera vocals over a film that didn't want them.  This 1977 album, however, is classic-era Moroder, very much a continuation of his work with Donna Summer, and prefiguring what he would soon get up to with Sparks.  Indeed, Moroder's Teutonic non-singer's singing voice is uncannily similar to the one Russell Mael would employ on their recordings together, although whatever weird-ass accent Russell Mael is singing in remains undetermined.
   The album kicks off with the hit 'From Here to Eternity' and it's obvious that Moroder has been giving the newly-released Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk a bit of a spin.  What also quickly become obvious, however, is that this album predicts the musical future of now more accurately than the Kraftsers managed to.  Obviously, they are massively important and influential and legendary and velodrome-filling, but whereas they sing about trains, German Expressionist halls of mirrors and showroom dummies, Moroder goes on about love and all that soppy stuff, at one point even covering (although radically transforming) the old country heartbreak standard, 'I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'.  Often this is done in a disco-robot voice, and the album feels uncannily contemporary.
   Because this is where we are now with pop music, with heartfelt explosions of emotion only seeming 'real' if drenched in autotune.  Pop stars now are singing cyborgs.  Even someone playing towards left-field like Frank Ocean uses it extensively.  Not because he needs it - I understand he can hold a note without wavering very well - but because it seems the right thing to do at this point.  Maybe because our emotional lives are conducted via our devices to the point they almost seem part of us, and autotune is shorthand for this.  Anyway, this is what From Here to Eternity by Giorgio Moroder made me think of, so there you go.

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