the Some Songs page

...where the reviewers describe their own favourite songs


JOEL'S CHOICES

Drugstore - El President
Felt - Primitive Painters
Ministry - Jesus Built My Hotrod
The Go-Betweens - Two Steps, Step Out
Uncle Sid - Frenzy

RICHARD'S CHOICES:

Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water

NEAL'S CHOICES

Skeeter Davis - The End Of The World
The Rolling Stones - Monkey Man

JOEL'S CHOICES

"El President" by Drugstore

 Now here's a genuinely beautiful song! But, let's start with the background info - Drugstore is a London-based indie trio led by Brazilian singer and bassist Isabel Monteiro, joined by the American drummer Mike Chylinski and British guitarist Daron Robinson. This peculiar song is from their second full-length record, White Magic For Lovers, and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke is here to help with vocals. The track opens with some odd noises which always makes me think of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", but not so - it'll soon move over into a piano/cello bridge before the verse begins with Monteiro's lovely vocals, backed up by that cello and an acoustic guitar. As the second verse begins, Thom Yorke takes over the place as lead singer (now that it ain't no real difference - he has such a bright voice that at first I didn't notice its was a male singing!), followed by a little, slightly Latin-sounding pre-chorus. The chorus is a glorious thingy, with the two singers singing "kill the president" over and over, to a background which increases slightly each time it is played. All kind of instruments are there - piano, acousic and electric guitars, bass, that cello or violin, and gorgeous percussion. The way the two singers backs up each other during the whole song is awesome, and as a whole, this is a song which you're unlikely to live without once you've heard it.

"Primitive Painters" by Felt

Now that Felt yet hasn't been reviewed on this site, I guess that a little introduction might be of necessity - wanted or not. Felt started out as an alias for the guitarist/singer Lawrence Hayward, mostly known as just Lawrence, in 1979. Shortly after the '79 single "Index", the group became a group, based in Birmingham, and with guitarist Maurice Deebank as the probably most profilic member besides of Lawrence. Around that time, Lawrence came up with the idea that Felt were supposed to release ten LPs and ten singles during the 80's, and then the group would dissolve. Later on, the band would keep Lawrence's promise, and after the tenth LP Me And A Monkey On The Moon in 1989, the band members would move onwards.

Right, this song is from Ignite The Seven Cannons, their perhaps most commercially successful album. Which doesn't really mean anything when we're talking about Felt, and Lawrence made sure that the sales would go down again by recording a slightly more unaccessible album - the instrumental Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death. On this album, the band got produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, and CT's wonderful singer Elisabeth Fraser added some vocals. Felt's music had always been some spiritual (no, not religious - just, you know, moody and imaginative) and atmospheric indie pop, with Lawrence's half sung vocals far back in the sound picture, covered by the guitars and, not seldom, an organ. This song might not be the most representative in their catalog, but it might very well be the climax. It opens with some guitar harmonics, but soon, er, bursts into a gloriously glimmering thing of an indie song, where an acoustic guitar lays some chords in the background, while an electric guitar with a huge bit of reverb and chorus added to an organ laying some just gorgeous chords. The drums has some echo added, to give a less distinct sound, and the bass plays a repetive but important line. The sound of Lawrences laid-back vocals is just too cool, but it is in the choruses, when Liz Fraser comes in with some just awfully great little lines that I get the goose bumps. And they'll stay all the way through the remaining five minutes of the song. It's, like, six minutes of an indie cure for your head and mood - its repetiveness just adding a slightly hypnotic but not at all unpleasant touch...that's a huge unit moving. Wee.

Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry

First I thought that this was a Primus tune, thanks to some mp3-ripping fellow who typed in the wrong name...Quite clumsy, probably, but on the other hand I wouldn't ever have gotten into Ministry if I hadn't downloaded this song - good mistakes rock! Like when I picked up an Urban Turban album, believing that it would be a hiphop community like Wu Tang Clan, but found out that Urban Turban was the coolest bunch of blues covers I had ever heard, played on Arabic and other Eastern instruments. Or when I once bought a Les Claypool album, believing that it was Lee Clayton of Blood, Sweat & Tears who had released a solo album! Happenings like those are funny, especially in cases like this one. Because, well, I could probably expect Primus to record a song which is as great as this one, because they ARE great. When I found out that it was a group which I had only heard some rumours of before, I went totally nuts about the thing - in a good sense, that is. Discovering great artists which are totally new to you is something that could happen every day to me, as far as I'm concerned! The song itself opens with a guy telling us that he has disovered that this rock thing is true, and that Jerry Lee Lewis is the devil, and stuff. The main theme in the lyrics are various of the "dingaling dong dinga dong" theme invented in that old 50's classic, "Blue Moon". I just searched for that song at AMG, and the song has been released on 757 different albums. Consider that, and all less well-known albums which aren't included in the AMG, and the track must have been on over 1000 different albums through the years - talk about lucky royalty-owners! And, add all those "Jukebox Hits" and related compilations, and you'll have an awful number upon that! Whew. Speculations aside, that's the lyrics. Thought it was a nice little retro rock'n'roll tune? Not so - the singer keeps droning through a disted voice twister while the band bashes out a repeating riff at a furious speed, and the energy flows out from the speakers, quite literally. I really hope the bassist used a plectrum, or his fingers would be totally crippled for a day or more, unless he's the bass playing equivalent to a marathon runner. Phew! Sweaty song! now, dear everyone, I'll go get myself some more speed metal!

The Go-Betweens: Two Steps, Step Out

First of all, let me just make clear that I haven't ever heard a Go-Betweens album in its entirety, and not many songs either. It might very well be that the songs I've heard are the very crown of their creation, and that they are actually a pretty mediocre band. If I am to judge them by the songs I've heard, though, (some off "Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express", and some off "Before Hollywood", where this one's from)...well...then the Go-Betweens are at the Josh Clayton-Felt level! Which might not mean a lot to you, but it sure means a whole lot to me! If I ever get any of their albums, and it just happens to have songs like this one on it, I might give a 10 right away. As you understand, this song is something VERY special, like any of the other songs I've raged about in this section of the site. It has a pretty original bass line, changing between playing similar notes to the guitar and hitting some higher note. Alongside, there's that gorgeous Go-Betweens guitar sound, and fine singing by the two (?) lead singers. The verses aren't anything compared to the ultra-catchy choruses, though, with that simple but brilliant lyrical line where the singer tells us about how many miles he has walked. Genious! After a cut-off bar, the chorus will move over into another, different section, with another beat and some extra cut-off or extended bars and measures, which adds a cool effect to the song. Unlike Dream Theater and their relatives in Planet X, though, Go-Betweens' songs have a great flow and don't seem so stumbling. DT worked hard to make music out of weirdass bar structures, but for Go-Betweens, weird bars were a part of the music from the beginning, and so they weren't very weird any more. And, there's something genuine in this song, and the fact that they obviously have recorded a whole bunch of great tunes should prove that there are a really strong sense of pop melodies in the band. Within this song, featuring those melodies, that guitar sound, and that fabulous/famous sound of the 80's alternative scene, the Go-Betweens are closer to perfection than most other bands could ever hope to be.

Uncle Sid - "Frenzy"

Self-explanatory title, I'd say! This ferocius Vancouver-based quartet is a yet unsigned band in the same vein as Judas Priest's "Painkiller" and related speedy metal with roots in the rocking Eighties. The singer has got a voice quite similar to that of Robert Plant and Rob Halford, too! Although he's probably more like Noddy Holder of Slade. I don't mind the first two influences, although Holder DOES annoy me, and so does Franky Dee sometimes, especially now that his voice is mixed so high. Something to correct on the upcoming LP of the band, perhaps? The bass could probably be a bit louder as well, but that every hard rock band should, so that's nothing, really! The band has promised a release of an album sometime during the autumn of '03, an album which I'll be more than willing to check out.

This tune opens with a long wail by singer Franky Dee, and goes through several phases after that, never getting boring. The most exciting parts are probably the guitar solos, which proves that guitarist Henry Seto is really proficient with his guitar. Brilliant, just as his riffs during the pre-verses. Drummer Dale Salive keeps bashing all the way through the song, and we don't have to swallow those annoying double bass drums which so many bands keep messing around with nowadays. The only band member who doesn't get to show what he's up to is the bassist Scotty Vye; I'll look forward to some bass fun on the LP - hear me, Uncles??

As you might've guessed, Uncle Sid are some sort of friends to me and the Bityears, or at least Dale Salive is. Therefore, why not end the review with a classic Dale Salive quote?

"You all rock. Yeah!!!!"

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RICHARD'S CHOICES

Deep Purple: "Smoke on the Water"

Well, it was a long time ago (in not the very end of 20th Century) Iíve heard this composition at 1st, it was on the 1st vinyl of Deep Purple I ever listened (yes, it was the compilation of the best of DPís 1970 Ė 1972, and SMOKE OF THE WATER was among those 8 songs). This time there were only the Beatles in my life, so when I took the cover in my hands with the photo of (as it seemed to me) horrible long-haired guys, I guessed it would be something unpleasant and noisy kind of music (fortunately, it was my mistake, because by BLACK NIGHT and SPEED KING Iíve fallen in love with Deep Purple that day). The last track of the disk was just SMOKE ON THE WATER, and I wasnít impressed by it totally. It was unmemorable to me even after 6-8 listens, so I guessed (by the lack of information) that itís one of the least successful records by the band that time. Iíve got to know that it was the biggest hit by Deep Purple and ďthe hymn of hard-rockĒ much later, but anyway I still liked it not very much.

It was the 1st half of 90s, some years after Soviet Unionís fall, when a lot of different radio and TV-channels has began to disappear, and all of them played SMOKE ONE THE WATER several times a day. Wherever I was Ė at market, at the tram-station near my school (Iíve finished my school in 1995), in the streets Ė SMOKE ON THE WATER was everywhere (of course, it was much better than sickly Ace of Base or Two Unlimited so popular that time!). I walked and thought, why donít they play my favorite CHILD IN TIME or THE MULE?!

At ďmy University yearsĒ I played in some bands, and in all of these bands we played SMOKE ON THE WATER (again!), we even made some new unlike-to-original versions (this time I began to like this song, but ,anyway, I was tired of it soon). It seemed to me that somebody made a curse on me to make me hearing SMOKE ON THE WATER as much as it could be. So how can I like a song (if even itís not bad) when itís so unstopping?!

Now I relate to this song without some strong feelings (as earlier). I think itís one of the most overrated record in music ever and cannot understand why so much people appreciate it. ďThe usual hard-rock-song which became a masterpiece without any causes I can understandĒ.

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NEAL'S CHOICES

The End Of The World by Skeeter Davis

I'm not really sure of the background of the artist, or whether this song was a one-hit wonder in the 1960s, but that's me being lazy with my research again. But anyway, for anyone who has seen the fine film "Girl Interrupted" knows that this was the song that was played when Brittney Murphy's character hangs herself. Being Eminem's current girlfriend, I can see how she might contemplate this act in real life, but it's an otherwise touching and sad, disturbing, yet dramatically inevitable scene in the movie. Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder's characters sit downstairs on the couch while the song plays over and over again, the needle stuck on the 45 record player. I asked my mother about this song and of course she remembered it (moms are good for this kind of research) and said it was played quite a bit on AM radio in the early 60s when she was in university. Mom Grosvenor admits that it's "a pretty melancholy song" but is great structurally too, with a definite leaning toward s the girl group sound, but without the background vocals and a clear, melancholy lead from Davis. It definitely made an impression on me after seeing the movie.

Monkey Man by The Rolling Stones

While we're on the subject of movies, I should say that Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas remains my all time favourite American movie. It's not because it's a typical "guy" movie or that I'm obsessed with gangster films, it's just that I think everything comes together here: writing, cinematography, and brilliant, memorable scenes. And of course the scene that I remember most was Ray Liotta's character aka "wiseguy" Henry Hill driving around LA aimlessly wired on cocaine and thinking a helicopter is following him. "Monkey Man" from the Stones' Let It Bleed appropriately blares in the background hitting the nail on the head for this particular scene with the line "all my friends are junkies". Scorcese loves the Stones and liberally uses them in most of his movies, but this one just totally fits I think. Not the most popular song on Let It Bleed, but druggy nonetheless. I guess being a former cocaine addict himself, Scorcese knows the the years say 1969-74 were probably the most ti mes the band were fucked up on chemicals. I remember my friend asked me while we listened to Exile On Main Street in my car, just how much coke do I think was snorted during the making of that album?? It's a tough question to answer, but I'm thinking quite a bit.

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