Friday, 23 September 2016

Music That Saved Me--Letters X, Y and Z

We're on the home stretch guys! Thanks for sticking with me!
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I loved Andy Partridge's distinctive voice, moon face and little round John Lennon glasses. My first choice is from 1982. It is a lovely little selfish song called Senses Working Overtime. Watch after the second chorus where Andy Partridge puts his hand up to his ear to hear the bell dinging.
Watch it here:
How do they make that tambourine sounds so sinister at the beginning of the song? 

My second XTC choice is Mayor of Simpleton from their 1989 album Oranges and Lemons. It is so quintessentially  English from the album title based on a children's nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St Clement's  to their Avenger's style video. You can read about the nursery rhyme here: 
Bit o' trivia--a St Clement's is a delicious drink of orange juice and fizzy lemonade. 
Watch it here:

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This amazing synthpop duo is made up of former member of Depeche Mode Vince Clarke on keyboards and the amazing deep expressive voice of the beautiful Alison Moyet and is one of my favourite bands of all times. Their experiments with sound and spoken word (the haunting I Before E Except After C) made them legendary to me. This is one of those albums that Spiderman and I both had. I think this guy named John David A introduced them to him. John David A is the linchpin of our Six Degrees of Separation. I knew JD from school, Spiderman knew JD from summer camp where they were both counsellors . we were ONE step away from each other and didn't even know it. But I digress. 

The band was called Yazoo in the UK and just Yaz in the US. Hence the need for brackets. Yaz(oo). 

Upstairs at Eric's in possibly one of the best albums of all times. It was hard to choose just one song. Or maybe two. My first pick is Don't Go so you can take advantage of some of that funky synthesizer and expressive voice of Alf (as Moyet was affectionately known) Plus I dig the coloured strip lighting and all the heavy eye make up of Alf and the "Flock of Seagulls" hairdo of Clarke. 
Watch it here:
My next pick is a called Bad Connection. It has a synth riff that is hypnotic and tells a strange story of the phone line being down. 
Listen to it here:

My last Yazoo pick is from their second and last album You and Me Both. It is the saddest breakup song I know. it's called Nobody's Diary and really utilises the beautiful, expressive voice of Alison Moyet, but what the hell is up with Vince Clarke's hair? he went from Flock of Seagulls to atomic mushroom cloud. 
Watch it here:
Interesting Fact: Yazoo broke up and Vince Clarke went on form Erasure with Andy Bell who sounded almost *exactly* like Alison Moyet. FACT. 

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This band is made up of Norwegian brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker. I really only like one song by them. it is a weird sort of earworm that I learned one day a few years back when every third act at our school talent show was this song. There is something mesmerising about it, especially the nonsense sounds. This is called The Fox.
Watch it here:

and last but not least ZZ Top. 
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It's all about the beards, baby. I don't listen too much to ZZ Top these days, but in the 80's their videos were a staple in my diet. They all had several things in common--this video alone features big beards,  fuzzy guitars, the red car, the underdog, a makeover, girls in short dresses with baby girl socks and high heels and the key chain.  It is called Legs.
Watch it here:

I once bought the key chain for my friend Laura M. Also when we had been drinking we used to do that wave at the end of the video.  Actually we did it when we were sober as well cause we were those young teenage girls who can't stop giggling at their own inane jokes. You know the type. 

So that's my list. Every letter had several more I could have chosen, but I tried to scale it down to a manageable size.  It has been fun to remember why I loved these songs so much and how certain songs represent a period of my life so clearly. I hope you have enjoyed this series. Make up your own list. I'd love to hear what songs were there for you. 

Cheers and happy listening! 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Music That Saved Me--Letter W

My first W choice is Wall of Voodoo. 

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Honestly I don't know much about the band but with the advent of MTV I was crazy about the video for Mexican Radio. I loved the slightly sneery voice of the singer, the echo effects,the harmonica,  the ability to rhyme the words iguana with Tijuana and the beans. Oh the beans.  Just watch and you'll see what i mean by beans. I have never looked at beans the same way after this video.
Watch it here:
The rest of this post is dedicated to Weird Al. I have loved Weird Al's parodies ever since he looked like this:
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But these days, he has grown his naturally curly hair out, shaved off his trademark moustache and gotten Lasik eye surgery so he doesn't need glasses and he looks like this:
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Isn't he sexy these days? Also he is vegetarian who is mostly vegan! He has this great quote that says:
“Many years ago I found out something about hamburgers that really grossed me out. You may not know this, so I hope I don’t make you sick, but it turns out hamburgers are actually made out of dead cows. I am not making this up. Needless to say, as soon as I discovered that, I gave up meat entirely."

I remember his early attempts like Another One Rides the Bus (a parody of Queen's Another One Bites the Dust) on Dr Demento which was basically just him manically playing the accordion while Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz banged on his accordion case for percussion. I think he really started to get good when he started to parody the video as well. My first choice is Eat It (a parody of Michael Jackson's video Beat it) which was a shot for shot copy of Jackson's video using the same set and same dancers. Plus there is a little wink to Thriller at the end.
Watch it here:
Funny fact: In 1987 our community theatre did The Wizard of Oz and my young cousin Marty won himself a role as one of Lollipop munchkins after singing this song for his audition piece. 

My next pick is a brilliant parody of Don McLean's American Pie called The Saga Begins. It is a retelling of the plot of the Star Wars film The Phantom Menace and in my humble opinion, is a shitload better than the film itself. 
Watch it here:

Sometimes these days I don't know the song he is parodying because I am not up with the latest stuff (as this series of blog posts have shown) but Weird Al is. He is still rocking and making brilliant parodies. This next song is quite funny on its own, even if you don't know the original song. (Ridin' by Chamillionaire and Krazie Bone--it is about racial profiling and police brutality) But the video copies many ideas from the original. Chamillionaire is singing while Krazie Bone is dancing in the background. In Weird Al's version he is singing with Donny Osmond dancing in the background. He asked Donny because "he was the whitest person i could think of." This song is called  White and Nerdy. 
Watch it here:
Bit o' trivia: The part where he goes POP POP is exactly the same as in Ridin' except in Ridin' it is the sound of a gun being being fired instead of bubble wrap.

I could choose so many more--his new ones are great even if you don't know the song it parodies. I love song Foil which is a piss take of Lorde's Royals which involves the many uses of foil like keeping food fresh and protecting your brain from being scanned by aliens. But I think my last choice has to be Word Crimes.  This is so good you could almost use it in school to teach grammar, but there was a wee bit of controversy over the use of the word spastic, but I still love it. It beats the snot out of the original which is Robin Thicke's rape anthem Blurred Lines. 
Watch it here:

Do you love parody songs as well? 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Music That Saved Me--Letters U and V

OK, I lied about the U. I can't really think of a U band I like. I mean there's Ultravox, but I am not a huge fan. I don't hate them. I have been known to sing It means nothing to me ohhhh Vienna just to be irritating. But I don't go out of my way for Ultravox.

So let's push on to letter V which has a band that was a HUGE influence on me in my teens.

Violent Femmes
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When I used to go to camp at The Mountain in North Carolina I would learn about what all the latest trends were (one long earring and one short earring--remember that one--yeah i was rocking that look a whole YEAR before anyone else!) as well as bands I had never heard of. At one of the dance nights this song came on and everyone and I mean EVERYONE else starts screaming and dancing wildly and singing along. I had no idea what I was listening to, but the opening riff of bah duh duh DUH duh, duh duh duh DUH duh duh, duh DUH duh duh duh duh (bang bang, bang bang) was so infectious and then the bit where he gradually gets softer and softer only to then sing really loudly again nearly made me want to explode. I had to rush over to the DJ and ask what it was. He showed me the album cover (pictured above) and I knew as soon as I got back to Louisiana I would be buying it from Peppermint Records. This song was Blister in the Sun. 
Listen to it here:

Then the DJ played this one and everyone and again I mean EVERYONE else was counting along with it and I wanted so bad to be able to be able to count along with it. So i did go home and buy it and the next year where it was (thankfully) still popular I could count along with the best of them as we sweated and slamdanced into each other on the dance floor. This song was Kiss Off.
Listen to it here:

I had to listen to parts of the album with headphones (mostly due to the lyrics of Add It Up which said:
Why can't I get just one f*ck?
Why can't I get just one f*ck?
I guess it's got something to do with luck.
Eventually I played it for my Mum as i was tired of headphones and she declared it the dumbest thing she ever heard so that was that. No more headphones.

At school when i was listening to it on my walkman and declaring my love for the Femmes everyone and I mean EVERYONE sneered and turned up their noses........until a full year later when their popularity reached the Deep South and suddenly everyone and I mean EVERYONE was declaring them the Best.Band.Ever like it was their idea. No, I'm not bitter.

But I continued to love the Femmes for several albums. Their first album was quite rough around the edges. Their second album Hallowed Ground had a slightly more country influence and an interesting juxtaposition of songs. Lead singer Gordon Gano was a PK (Preacher's Kid) and there is a gospel song called Jesus Walking on the Water on this album as well as one called I Dig Black Girls (I dig white boys) so as i said--strange bedfellows. My first pick from Hallowed Ground is I Hear the Rain with its strange monotone and xylophone. I love the singing over each other with the two sets of lyrics.
Listen to it here:
   Interesting fact: In my high school speech class we each had to lip sync to a song for extra credit as we were hosting a Putting on the Hits lip sync contest to raise money for speech and debate. I chose this one. My teacher was *not* amused.

My second choice was a murder ballad written by Gano when he was in 10th grade study hall. It is based on a true event in  1862. It is called Country Death Song  and their is a cracking video made a fan for an animation class.
Watch it here:
Trivia: Gano was a devout Christian but the other band members were both atheists  and really hated the Christian songs he wanted on Hallowed Ground, but they eventually relented. Gano eventually formed a gospel punk band called the Mercy Seat.

Their third album The Blind Leading the Naked had a few more country sounding songs but also experimented more with --loud and soft volume and echo effects as well as use of unusual sounds from instruments like jaw harp, slide whistle, daf (a type of Persian drum) and inexplicably--tortoise. I swear, that's what it says in the liner notes--tortoise. There were many outstanding songs from this album including a great cover version of T-Rex's Children of the Revolution (which i didn't realise at the time was a cover version because I didn't know who Marc Bolan was) but I am going to choose other songs.

My first pick is the sexually ambiguous song I Held Her in My Arms. It is a jolly song with some sad lines like I was with a girl, but it felt like I was with a boy and I held her in my arms but it wasn't you. 
Watch it here: (be prepared to be dizzy from all the spinning)

My second choice is No Killing. In this time of violence all over the world this is as relevant as ever.
We don't want no killing Lord
I don't want to see my sister cry.
We don't want no killing Lord
I don't want to see my brother die.

Listen to it here:

Lastly, I leave you with a short 30 second song called Old Mother Reagan.
Listen to it here:

Old Mother Reagan went to Heaven and at the Pearly Gates she was stopped. 

Were there bands you adored in high school that nobody else loved?

Friday, 16 September 2016

Music That Saved me--Letter T, part 2

They Might Be Giants
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It was hard to choose a song by this quirky duo. I adore their version of Istanbul (not Constantinople) and they have a song called Birdhouse in Your Soul told from the point of view of a bluebird shaped nightlight that protects a child as it sleeps. (Seriously) But I think my first choice has to be Ana Ng because it was the first one i remember the video for.
Watch it here:

TMBG (as all the cool kids them) also have some cracking great science songs that are factual enough to use in your lessons. Here is my favourite once called The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas which someone has helpfully done an adorable stop motion video with puppets.
Watch it here:

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Tourniquet was a Christian thrash metal band. I discovered them when we were at LC. The Christian bookstore in the mall had these little booths you could go in and hear snippets of new releases on headphones and this song's lyrics about animal rights shot me in the heart. I know without a doubt, this was part of my awakening as a vegan. It helped me stop exploiting animals in so many ways...except one. I was still eating them. Thankfully, my eyes were fully opened in 2005 and I began the path of a  compassionate joyful vegan. But this song with its powerful lyrics helped me see all the ways that we use and abuse animals under the guise that "God gave us dominion over the animals" so we can treat them however we want.

The video and song's message  was so powerful that several veggie celebrities like Paul McCartney, Grace Slick and Tom Scholz of Boston put pressure on MTV to show it. Unfortunately, the video with its horrible and realistic animal abuse footage got it banned for violence. What we do to animals IS violent. In case you are affected strongly by violent images i am printing the words below. But I would urge you to watch it--it might change the way you think about things you do in your life. However, look at the words as well as they can be a bit hard to understand in parts when he is screaming. This is Ark of Suffering. 
You think it's alright to destroy God's creation
They don't have a voice so who cares how we're treating them here
If you read His word you should know that he blessed them
I know your defence is to say "God said dominate them"

Do you think dominate means to kill just for sport
Wear the fur from their backs
Train them for circus acts
Take our pets to be gassed once their "cute" age is passed

Don't you see in their eyes how they trust us
But man in his sin turns that trust into horrible pain
When God says to man give account of your life's work
We must be prepared to reply "Your creation I loved"

Locked behind steel cage
Forced to take drugs we've made
Cut them up just to show
What we already know

Before they die...
Who will hear them cry

Watch it here: