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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Groove! numero dos

The time has come, once again, to fill your ears with pure filth. The second instalment of big tunes is here.

Get The Blessing

Get The Blessing

Organs have the potential to rule the world, and Alan Hackshaw’s Beat Me Til I’m Blue could be the song to achieve global domination. Or so I like to think anyway.

Written by Stevie Wonder, Tell Me Something Good by Rufus featuring Chaka Kan is next up, a tune of talk box, heavy breathing and bass plucking wonder. Add a big chorus to the mix too and it’s a belter.

The first track from the album Bugs in Amber, Music Style Product by Get The Blessing can not fail to instantly hook you with raw energy and blaring brass lines. Look out for them again in future blogs, they have a raft of awesome music.

A Tribe Called Quest need no introduction…….an old favourite, Luck of Lucien is from the album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

And lastly, the massively funky Make It Real (Ride On) by Betty Adams rounds things off, with brilliant vocal performances and piano work.

Enjoy!

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Vocal bliss

Dirty Projectors

Vocal harmonies are something which I just can’t quite grasp in my mind, in how to put them into practice myself. Much like how a good drummer manages to make all their limbs flail in a random motion and produce a coherent beat.

When done well, vocal harmonies and melodies can transform a song which revolves around one or two notes into a thing of memorable beauty.

Quite probably the best ever three-part harmony pop group, The Beatles are an obvious choice. There is far too much to choose from, Nowhere Man and Here, There And Everywhere are two that instantly spring to mind, but I have a particular love for Yes It Is. Cast aside as too similar a song to This Boy and thus used as the B-side for the Ticket To Ride single, Yes It Is utilises complex harmonies and is a Lennon composition that showcases his ability to reel off beautifully melodic songs at will. McCartney and Harrison coming back in at 1.12 after the double tracked Lennon vocal is particularly nice.

Upon hearing this piece for the first time on the Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack, I was hooked and listened to it over and over again for a long while. As creepy as it is hypnotic, On The Ground, Sleep Sound is taken from Benjamin Britten’s opera of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It would be rude not to mention The Mamas and the Papas on such a blog, with their track I Saw Her Again Last Night.

And finally, one of the best vocal groups I have ever witnessed live, Dirty Projectors take the biscuit when it comes to ridiculously tight and incredible sounding harmonies. Bitte Orca and Swing Lo Magellan are two brilliant albums full to the brim with singing prowess, with the below acoustic version of No Intentions taken from the former. After David Longstreth’s initial lone intro, the perfect pitch harmonies start from 0.22 and are at their best during the choruses, the first one kicking in at 1.12.

p.s. If you can find a decent live version of Beautiful Mother by the Dirty Projectors from the Mount Wittenberg Orca EP, with Bjork, then that is well worth viewing too.

Frank Zappa – He’s A Beautiful Guy

There is only so long one can listen to Frank Zappa and not feel the need to wax lyrical about one of the zaniest and most prolific composers of all time. This could well turn into a regular post, as the sixty two albums released in his lifetime offer an incredibly diverse body of music which you can pick and choose from.

For all my friends who are already Zappa fans, this is just a gentle reminder of his genius in a few choice tracks. For all those reading that have never heard a Zappa tune before, I envy you. There is almost definitely a song in his catalogue that you will take pleasure from!

zappatoiletpaper

Taken from the album Chunga’s Revenge, Would You Go All The Way? is a straight forward blues rock number, a relative anomaly in the Zappa sound. The groove from 0.34 (‘Who’s this dude with his hair straight back?….) makes use of a deliciously simple bass line to great effect, followed by bursts of bluesy guitar.

Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus is a more traditional Zappa track, packing in accomplished playing of multiple instruments in just under three minutes. With ideas in abundance that characterise the style of the album from which it is taken from, The Grand Wazoo, it is very easy to get lost listening to every element of this song. And also very fun. Highlights include the descending piano at 0.17, which continues to tinkle away at a rapid speed in the background; the rolling drums at 0.56; the wah wah guitar in the background of the keyboard solo; the organ interlude at 1.53; and the female vocal crescendo at 2.29.

Village Of The Sun is taken from the album Roxy & Elsewhere. A story about Sun Village in Palmdale, the tune coasts along and is a prime example of Zappa’s ability to create catchy melodies.

For a charged up and, quite frankly, mental version, check out the take from You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 2: The Helsinki Concert.

A favourite for getting me up in the morning, Blessed Relief is also taken from The Grand Wazoo. Jazz tinged and relaxing to the point of melting, this is as smooth as it gets from the man from Baltimore.

Taken from the album Apostrophe (‘), , St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast is impossible not to like. Completely ridiculous lyrics match the frenetic and complex music, peaking with Ruth Underwood’s unbelievable marimba playing from 1.10 to 1.40. This section never fails to leave my head shaking in wonder, as for all its technical virtuosity, it is still funk driven. And as for the drums between 1.20-1.23, oh my days……

A groovy country tune that relies on slide guitars and contrasting vocal styles, It Might Just Be A One Shot Deal is lifted from Waka/Jawaka.

Considered to be one of the most inventive, intricate and elaborate compositions Zappa ever created, Inca Roads from the album One Size Fits All features what is renowned as Zappa’s most accomplished band of musicians. It takes a while to digest, but the time spent with this epic reaps many rewards.

There is brilliance throughout the piece: the first free form break from the main groove at 0.57; plectrum tapping on the guitar from 4.16; the wide bass slides from 4.44 to 5.02; the mesmerising unison lines from 5.42 followed by the mother of all riffs at 6.06 to 6.23; gobsmacking marimba playing again from Ruth Underwood at 7.53 (leading to cries of ‘On Ruth!’ at the end); the twisting and angular sounding vocal line from 8.06.

Dive in head first, and the best of luck to you. Let me know how you fare……….

Sometimes, one tune is all you need

I have been far too silent over the past couple of weeks, perhaps my recovery speed after such an event as Glastonbury has waned due to my old age, but I am now fully resolved to getting back on the bandwagon and sharing the music filling my ears.

And all I have been listening to since returning from the (for once) arid pastures of Somerset is this one glorious tune: In Every Way by Reverie.

Drawn in by the shimmering keyboards and plucky bass line, the melody is relaxing and uplifting at the same time, joyfully infectious and catchy. It kills my stony mood on the morning train to Moorgate and is even better upon emerging from the underground to the current blazing sunshine.

The continuous shift in percussion from swing jazz to tropical snare and ride hits, the pulsating bass, and the warm production have all got me relentlessly hooked. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Off the topic slightly, I am looking high and low for a drummer in London who wants to jam and start a new band. If anyone reading this knows of someone that I could pester for a meet up, that would be greatly appreciated. Muchas gracias.