Monday, 29 August 2011

The Cure

One of the things that I have realised over the years that there are few people of my generation that do not think that the Cure are cool. Well, I know that there are some white boy try hard rappers out there who probably don't have The Cure albums as the most played on their Ipods, but for the rest of us The Cure hold a special place in our hearts. I am not sure why this would be, other than the fact that The Cure rule.

Seriously though , there is something about the multi faceted construction of the songs that appears to that part of us all that we think is sensitive. A favourite quote by Tommy Lee comes to mind, you can't be phoaar metal the whole time, because anyone who pretends to be phooar metal the whole time is fake. Quite often in those moments when you are not full on The Cure fit like a well made suit. There are those moments of self reflection and regret , where there is an appropriate Cure song. I have heard a lot of people say that they think The Cure music is too miserable. I can see that. However as I always say it is about time and place isn't it. If it is a sunny day and you just got promoted and you have a beautiful partner and had a great meal then there is little chance that this song will fit the moment correctly

I am not sure if I put in in  previous post or not, but I used to listen to that song a lot on long night journeys across the Australian countryside in my late teenage, early twenty's . . it is a great song for just drifting off into a revere and watching the ghostly images of the trees and fields pass by the window. Thinking about how some girl wasn't perhaps as into you as you were into them.

Like many of you I have been a big proponent of the mixtape, the cd, the mini disc and now the self made playlist. Loving the playlist and after close enough to 30 years of making them in one of the above mentioned formats I think I have developed a least a little bit of skill in creating them. I thought that as The Cure have such a massive output and so many high points over the years that I would attempt to put together a playlist for you of the best Cure songs that I know properly.

A coupe of rules in order to try to limit the arguments.

1) Each song has to come from one of the studio albums - rare B sides are great and The Cure have a lot, but it is just showing off to put them in and we are going to keep it mainstream
2) I am limiting it 13 songs. Just because
3) The selection is not an ordered best of. The songs are not ranked, my favourite Cure song is By the Edge of the Deep green sea. Simple.

Song                                      Album

Just like Heaven                    Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me
A night like This                     Head on the Door
Lovesong                              Disintegration
Charlotte Sometimes             Pornography
Edge of the deep Green Sea  Wish
Prayers for Rain                    Disintegration
To Wish Impossible Things    Wish
All Cats are Grey                  Faith
Apart                                    Wish
Same deep Water as You      Disintegration
In Between Days                   Kiss me Kiss me Kiss me
Boys Don't Cry                      Boys Don't cry
A Forest                                Seventeen Seconds

So there you have it. A list as notable for the omissions as it is for the inclusions. Do you want to see Robert Smith without make up?

The Cure have been a very important band in my musical life. While I was going off and getting into harder and harder metal, exploring the fury and righteousness of Punk , I always had time for The Cure. I listen to the songs now and I try to put away the familiarity of them all to see if they still stand up as good songs. Well they of course do, but are they dated terribly? Well to be honest a song like A Forest doesn't sound new anymore. It doesn't mean it is not still a great song, it is, but the effects of the keyboards and the production mix are not so new anymore. However, a song such as All Cats are grey, which is now 30+ years old, still hits a chord somewhere deep in the soul because of the shades of bleakness it pulls over you when you listen to it.

However this song

(can't show the orginal video) doesn't seem to age in my mind. It is just simply a great song and as such will always be a small part of me.

Which I guess it what most people will say about at least one Cure song. Which is why they remain so dear to us.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Pop goes the 80s

Like so many of you, I am a child of the 80s. I grew as a teenager in the 80s and as such much of the music I heard then had a lasting impact on me. It seems at the moment as well there is a revival in the early to mid 80s fashion and a post ironic like of the music. Seriously, I saw a guy getting his final school results in a 'choose life' t-shirt. The Wham one, not something more sinister about birth control. I have to admit that this sort of thing makes me laugh ,and die just a little bit inside because I am now old, as I am not so sure it is actually ironic at all.

Why do we have this revival of the pop culture? Well, I think a part of it is the laziness of people in actually coming up with new things, let's not forget this

Also , a lot of the music was , dare I say it, quite good. As always there is a lot of rubbish. The early to mid 80s in particular have often been lambasted by the music geeks such as myself as being a comparative wasteland of decent music. It is all relative and if we take 80-85 it doesn't really compare that favourably to the 60s or the 70s , early 90s does it? We should not forget though that perhaps the greatest post Beatles pop song came out of this period

Ah Michael. His death was a little surprising wasn't it? I am not sure quite how I feel about it. When Billy Jean, Thriller etc came out I was still pretty young and as such thought it was great. But by the time Bad came out I was a long way past pop and heavily into metal, alternative, punk etc and so it was the anathema of what I thought represented me as a music lover. I do think it is sad just how warped his life became.

There was a lot of other good music that came of this period. A lot of it came from the new Romantic synth pop movement from the UK. I must admit, that when I think of the 80s pop scene this is very much what I come back to. I have always had a small, OK tiny, place in my music collection for Duran Duran. Now that I have admitted perhaps my greatest musical shame I need to go through the whole processes and also put out there that I, alternative, metal , punk, electronica guy, have a vinyl picture disc of the Duran Duran Arena album. Now that is out, I need to have a little lie down. Here is a song from them whilst I regain my equilibrium.

What are they wearing?seriously wtf? The somewhat suspect imagery aside, that is a pretty good pop song. Let's be honest we know it wasn't meant to move the goal posts in terms of musicianship and change the direction of music. It is a pop song designed to sell records and tap into the current mood and perhaps direct that a little bit.

The new romantic scene took itself extremely seriously on the surface of things. Sure a lot of it was , with hindsight, visually ridiculous and surely tongue in cheek? Actually no. The purveyors of it thought it was very much the cutting edge and they felt they were trying to influence fashion as well as music. People like Adam Ant particularly were extremely serious about the whole thing. Thanks for that.

Over in the States there was a more fun feel about a lot of the pop music, take for example this gem from the Go-Gos

I do like that as a pop song. It is extremely catchy, and it conveys having a lot of fun. Apparently the Go-Gos were a pretty wild bunch of girls. It is interesting that in this period a lot of women performers became much more accepted in mainstream music. I am not in anyway suggesting that the 80s saw the beginning of women in pop, but there is a definite cross over into the very mainstream areas. Before that it was either the very serious, like Joni Mitchell or the rebel type, think The Runaways.

It does occur to me at this stage that pop in the 80s is actually a huge subject. One that a single post could not possibly cover in full without being very long. So perhaps just a couple more and if you want more then please comment and I can explore more of the areas.

A lot of the music reflected the separation of music as an artistic outlet and went into the somewhat banal, not necessarily bad as such, but not really doing much except filling up radio time

This is as it always was, I know. That is what pop music is supposed to do. But it doesn't mean that it can not be good. for example this is a good song and I love the earnestness of the whole idea

As with many songs of that time, there are two videos for that song. That is the US version which is frankly much better.

So the 80s, not a complete wasteland. As I said though, let me know about your favourite moments and if there are some more gems I will put them out there for public discussion.

Monday, 15 August 2011

seriously, wtf is going on there?

Like many of you I grew up with the video clip, film clip, music video, depending on where you are from. Many of those videos have been fantastic visual realisations of the artistic vision. Some have been pretty poor. Did you see that Friday clip that went so big on You Tube that they had to take it down. That was a terrible song and a wholly dull clip, but she got fame and isn't that what she wanted?? Actually I heard she has had to start being home schooled because she got teased so much. The price of 40 million plus hits!!

There is of course the very very strange clip that you have trouble working out. Some clips appear to be odd, but like this one by the Avalanches , which is about insanity, it is portraying the theme of the song.

However, there are those that make no sense what so ever. Many of these come from the land of the strange. Japan . . like this. I speak a bit of Japanese, lived there for years and have no idea at all what is going on in this clip.

So, the big person in the pink dress is doing the pon pon pon dance? Is it a woman of a guy dressed as a woman? Is the brain in the wall cupboard head banging? Why is her face painted pink for some of it? I am so very confused by the imagery. Really I am.

At least though that is happy bright and fun imagery. My friend Marylin Manson has provided us with some pretty disturbing imagery over the years. I know that is the point, but none-the-less I think you will find that this is less savory than the pon pon pon clip.

I love that song. It is so deliciously dark. The clip is warped though.It does show the power of the visual though. If you have watched it you will remember it for some time. Perhaps longer than you will remember the tune for. I have been meaning to write a post on the shock merchants like Alice Cooper and Mr Manson, but as with so many posts I am going to write I simply haven't had the time to get to it yet.

The 80s was the birth of the video clip as we know it. Sure there were people performing their songs in the 70s, but they weren't much more than that, a live performance. With the 80s came artistic impression and with MTV we got the film clip. I saw a very interesting show by the guy who directed most of the big 80s film clips, Russel Mulcahy. He said that he didn't really listen to the lyrics of the songs he directed the clips for, more what feeling they gave him. Which is probably why none of the 80s film clips you remember make much sense, and have quite a bit of gay imagery in them! Seriously, how does this relate to the actual song?

Actually, that is not so bad, but you get that great 80s vibe with the split screens and the like. The Motels, under rated or just plain terrible?

What are some of the weirdest videos you have seen?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Jani Lane

I wrote a about Hair metal The Ballads, where I quoted Jani Lane from Warrant who said that he hated the Cherry pie song. He said he didn't really want to write it and regretted doing it as it became his legacy. Sadly it was announced today that he has died. He used the phrase, 'I could shoot myself in the head for writing that song'.

Well all the articles i have read describe him as the Cherry pie guy. Sometimes things are just a bit unfair aren't they.

Anyway, here is Heaven, I song I have always liked.

Rest In Peace Jani. I hope that people realise you could write things that were better than Cherry Pie.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots London

So as you probably know, I am in London and last night, the night before and quite likely tonight as well, riots have dominated the news. Quite rightly as well, given that people are going around the city, breaking and taking stuff.

I have seen some comparisons to the 1977 winter of discontent. Where the music of the time took up the call. Bands such as The Clash sent out a cry for people to take control. Although , it is not necessarily what it seems on the surface.

The song is a call to arms for the white people of London to determine their own rights. Not in a Nazi right wing way, as they subsequently went to great pains to clarify. More to mobilise in the same way the Afro Caribbean community was at the time. They also came out with this at a similar time

London's burning.

Well indeed it is again. This isn't a social or a political blog and so I am not going to get too into the rights and wrongs on what is going on. It does seem to me that things are pretty bad in the UK at the moment. However they are nothing like as bad as they were in 1977. Please keep that in mind at all times. These riots are not about the social oppression and a crumbling fabric of society. These riots are people stealing stuff because the police are overwhelmed.There isn't a political statement in it. They are anarchists, left or right wing. They are just thieves.

Will we see any music of any note come out of this? it is likely that we will see something come out of the London underground. Maybe something from Ndubz? I hope not if I am honest. Sorry , I try to like everything , I really do. But that stuff is just pap.

I am not of this generation. I am too old for that. It does seem to me though that despite my penchant for new music there isn't a movement going on at the moment that isn't either incredibly self obsessed or obsessed with things. The music that inspired people to drop out, to question society to try to make a difference, has gone.

Come back John Lennon, John Lydon, Joe Strummer, hell even Bob Geldolf, your country needs you . . . It needs you to write a song and inspire someone of this generation to write something that we can all get into . Something that is better than this by Limp Bizkit

Please. We need something good out of this senseless chaos.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Do we need a keyboardist?

The perennial discussion in metal/ rock is whether or not keyboards belong there? Even the name 'keyboards conjures up an image of

'welcome to the starlight room, nice to see you, nice to be seen by you, giggidy giggidy'

Is this a fair assumption though? Is it right to say that keyboards belong only in electronica and the light entertainment fields? Well, there has been some very good music that involves Keyboards and I am certainly not suggesting that the keyboardists are any less talented than the other musicians in a band. Honestly, take John Lord from Deep Purple and the masterpiece that is Child in Time

The intro alone is enough to warrant the keyboards in that song. Let alone the solo piece. But is that song metal? I guess that is really the question. Well it has all of the main criteria. Guitar riffs and solos, massively overblown and over the top. Virtuosity at extreme levels. mmm, but you can't simply define metal by a series of boxes to tick now can you. Would it be more metal if it didn't have the keyboards? If the solos were in fact played on a guitar? Do the Keyboards make it prog and not metal? In a word YES

Did you see what I did there . . . anyway, enough self aggrandisement. Yes are less guitar based that Deep Purple and yet they have to be looked at as the band that drove the keyboards from what was acceptable in metal and hard rock. Before Yes, it seems that it was a legitimate concept to have keyboards. After Yes, it wasn't . I think that Rick Wakeman , more than John Lords has to take responsibility for this. It is nothing to do with his playing, which by the way is amazing at times. It is much more the Cape, the silks,and the faerie tale whimsy. At a time when Sabbath, Priest and other such bands were plowing the way for mans heavy metal, Yes were going in a different direction and as such the defining public image of Yes, Wakeman and bloody King Arthur, seriously Rick wtf dude, were defining prog in such a way that meant that keyboards were never to really come back.

Think about it , before this you had bands like The Doors who forwent a bass player altogether and were still considered a rock band. After this, no chance. Could you imagine AC DC introducing their faithful to the new keyboardist? Actually I would like to see that, it would properly hilarious. Bands have tried to bring it back, take this gem by Van Halen.

That was from Eddie as well, the guitar hero of the early 80s to most Americans. But to be honest it has left Rock as we know it. It lives in it's true home. Prog. Bands with true virtuosity use the keyboards, sometimes so well that you are not even sure that they are there. But they are

That is were they belong.

Love to hear what you have to say about this, answer and arguments are all welcome . . .