Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Just Like Jeff Lynne

I didn't start listening to the Electric Light Orchestra until hearing "Mr. Blue Sky" on the radio in 1977. I taped it off some radio station and then wore that tape out listening to just the one song over and over. To this day, it's still my idea of The Perfect Song.

In honor of Jeff Lynne and one of my favorite blogs, Copy, Right?, here are a few ELO cover songs:

Paul Melançon - "Jeff Lynne"

Friday, August 26, 2005

What's New Pussycat?

Hey, don't think I sit around listening to oldies stations all day. Truth is, I hate the radio... Haven't listened to music radio for twenty years. I may be 40, but I keep up. I rely upon written reviews, word-of-mouth, and MP3 blogs to stay tuned in to the latest good music.

Here are a few songs from bands I've enjoyed during the past year:

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Day The Music Died

1974... I was ten years old and couldn't give a flying fart about music. Maybe I listened to some John Denver and Neil Diamond, or whatever easy listening was coming out of my mom's car radio. We weren't a musical family.

But my brother, he was 15 and just starting to really discover rock 'n' roll. I can still picture the long list of albums he had pinned to his bedroom wall -- a Christmas wish list of sorts -- stuff like Cat Stevens, John Lennon, Deep Purple, Loggins & Messina... For his 15th birthday, in 1973, he received his very first stereo system, complete with 8-track. What a set up that was! I would've been impressed if I had cared, but I just wasn't into music yet.

My brother loved that stereo for nearly a year. He was killed two months before his 16th birthday when some asshole shot a BB gun at the horse he was riding. It bucked my brother off, he hit his head on a large rock, and that was that.

His room went untouched for four years, his beloved stereo silenced until I went to see Beatlemania at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles and suddenly realized that there was a whole wonderful world of music out there. First place I went when I got home was to my brother's room, and there on the shelf was his small record collection, which included The Beatles "Blue Album" of greatest hits. That stereo became mine, but I never moved it out of his room. It became my "Listening Room" and I think maybe my brother was there listening with me.

He probably enjoyed these songs from 1974...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Where Were You In '82?

Ahhh... 1982... The year I got out of prison. Er, I mean, graduated from high school.

I had this huge crush on a girl named Julie. She was a gymnast, so you can just imagine. Also a cheerleader, so completely out of my league. AND, she was a scholar. She pretty much had it all. I only approached her a couple of times and clumsily let it be known that I was infatuated with her. What a fool I was. What a complete and utter fool.

Anyway, I followed her around all year, tongue hanging out, and last saw her on graduation day when I again worked up the nerve to talk to her, wishing her good luck at college, where she'd earned a scholarship for gymnastics. Quite classy on my part... I still remember the look of horror on her face as I approached in my graduation gown. She assumed I was going to drool on her or something, but I managed to pronounce my greetings and well wishes, and I think she was pleasantly surprised.

Fast forward 23 years... I live 2000 miles from my old hometown and I just learned that Julie lives not 40 miles west of me in my new corner of the country. She lives on a farm in a small town and homeschools her children. 40 miles! I'd drive out there and say hi, but I don't think I could work up the nerve again.

Here is what we listened to in 1982. Enjoy:

The BusBoys - "The Boys Are Back In Town"
Sparks - "Eaten By The Monster of Love"
Marshall Crenshaw - "Cynical Girl"
Squeeze - "I've Returned"
The Who - "One Life's Enough"
Adam Ant - "Crackpot History and The Right To Lie"
Elvis Costello - "Human Hands"
Fun Boy Three - "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)"
Oingo Boingo - "Why'd We Come"
Psychedelic Furs - "Love My Way"
Split Enz - "Never Ceases To Amaze Me"
George Harrison - "Dream AWay"
Men At Work - "Be Good Johnny"
XTC - "English Roundabout"
Roxy Music - "Take A Chance With Me"
The English Beat - "Ackee 123"
Paul Carrack - "I Need You"
ABC - "Many Happy Returns"
Pete Townshend - "Exquisitely Bored"
Dexy's Midnight Runners - "Dubious"
Rank and File - "(Glad I'm) Not In Love"
Thomas Dolby - "Europa and the Pirate Twins"
Haircut 100 - "Love's Got Me In Triangles"
Queen - "Calling All Girls"

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The King's Singers

I first saw The King's Singers on The Tonight Show in the early 80's... They were one of Johnny Carson's favorite musical acts. I had never seen an acapella group of any kind, so was immediately smitten by these guys. Sure, they're rather stiff and some of their covers are kind of lame, but nobody sings the variety of material they do.

They debuted in 1968 after forming at King's College, Cambridge, and have been through many personnel changes since then, but they remain one of the most popular vocal groups in the world.

Here are a few of their covers of rock, pop and new wave songs:

"Vienna" (with Midge Ure) Ultravox cover
"Golden Brown" Stranglers cover
"Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" Korgis cover
"Seaside Rendezvous" Queen cover
"MLK" U2 cover
"Good Vibrations" Beach Boys cover
"The Rose" Bette Midler cover
"Because" Beatles cover
"When I'm 64" Beatles cover
"I'll Follow The Sun" Beatles cover

Buy their Beatles Connection CD here.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Don't Dream It's Over

Ask and ye shall receive... Yes, I do take requests. Someone wanted a live version of this song. Read on:

Crowded House debuted in 1986 with a self-titled album that went nowhere. It was almost a year later that the single, "Don't Dream It's Over," was discovered by someone somewhere (I don't know how these things work) and suddenly Crowded House were on top of the charts all over the world.

My clearest memory of this album was that I received it for Christmas along with Microdisney's The Clock Comes Down The Stairs. A very good holiday that was. I also remember the extremely goofy video for "Something So Strong" that showed Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, and the late great Paul Hester romping inside a hay-strewn barn with some lovely young ladies. MTV aired that one a lot.

Here are two live versions of Crowded House's biggest single (a song which now ranks as a timeless classic), one from Crowded House themselves and one from a Neil Finn solo concert.

Crowded House - "Don't Dream It's Over (Live 1992)"
Neil Finn - "Don't Dream It's Over (Live 2002)"


Sixpence None The Richer - "Don't Dream It's Over"

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tim Finn Retrospective

New Zealand's greatest singer-songwriters just happen to be brothers... Tim and Neil Finn.

Neil has always been the more successful Finn brother, having huge chart hits with Split Enz and Crowded House. But Tim, the older brother, is an extremely diverse and underrated performer. He formed Split Enz in 1972 with friend Phil Judd, then left it in 1984 to begin a solo career that has been quite varied in terms of sales and artistry.

Here is evidence of Tim's long and unique career, from Split Enz to solo success to a brief stay in Crowded House to the first of two albums with brother Neil:

1977 Split Enz - "My Mistake"
1979 Split Enz - "I See Red"
1980 Split Enz - "Nobody Takes Me Seriously"
1983 Tim Finn - "In A Minor Key"
1985 Tim Finn - "Home For My Heart"
1989 Tim Finn - "Suicide On Downing Street"
1991 Crowded House - "All I Ask"
1993 Tim Finn - "In Love With It All"
1995 Finn Brothers - "Eyes of the World"
1995 Finn Brothers - "Weather With You"
1996 Tim Finn & The New Zealand Symphony - "I See Red"
2000 Tim Finn - "Twinkle"
2001 Tim Finn - "Subway Dreaming"
2001 Finn Brothers - "Too Many People" (Paul McCartney Cover)
2002 Tim Finn, Neil Finn, & Eddie Vedder - "I See Red (Live)"


1997 The King's Singers - "Weather With You"
2003 The Wiggles, with Tim Finn - "Six Months In A Leaky Boat"

Click here for Tim Finn and Split Enz CDs at Amazon!