I can’t believe that going into our 5th season I still hadn’t put a show together on carnivals, circuses and the like. Well, we remedied that this week. A great introduction was supplied by Eddie Izzard doing a cover of The Beatles BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE. It’s from the soundtrack to the film Across The Universe directed by Julie Taymor. “Just tune in, turn off, drop out, drop in, switch on, switch off, and explode!”
Yes, I know that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers do a great version of LOVE ROLLERCOASTER, but it was the original that made the playlist. It first appeared on the Ohio Players Honey album in 1975. In this clip from the television show Midnight Special, you get the bonus of Wolfman Jack doing the intro and some crazy boy dancers. Ahhh the 70′s.
Thanks to Ku Promotions for our giveaway this week: two tickets to The Audreys’ concert. They’re a band of four boys and one girl, playing rootsy kind of music and are based in Adelaide, Australia. They have released two records, one in 2006 called Between Last Night and Us and one in 2008 called When the Flood Comes, both of which has won the ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album. I’ve seen them perform twice now and they really are a knockout. Their latest album, Sometimes the Stars, features the track TROUBLE SOMEHOW:
I love the collaborative work between Mark Lanegan (ex Queens of the Stone Age) and Isobel Campbell (ex Belle & Sebastian). THE CIRCUS IS LEAVING TOWN is from their latest album, Ballad of the Broken Seas. Here’s a great interview with them which features a slice of the song within it. It was shown when Isobel won the Mercury Prize for the album, which she produced.
Total change of pace came with a couple of tracks from the 60′s: Al Johnson with CARNIVAL TIME from his 1962 album, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Freddie Cannon with his hit, PALISADES PARK. And just to mix it up a bit I threw in some Fun Lovin’ Criminals with CONEY ISLAND GIRL.
The Stylistics were one of the most successful soul groups of the early 70′s and their song SIDESHOW fitted the theme perfectly. As did a true classic from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - THE TEARS OF A CLOWN.
Nellie the Elephant is a classic children’s song written in 1956. It became a UK #1 hit for punk band, The Toy Dolls, when they covered the song in 1983. Michael ‘Olga’ Algar, led vocalist, guitar and bass player, is the only remaining member of the original line-up, who continue to perform. I love the way that they used the aesthetics of punk to express a real sense of fun.
This following clip is from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz, a documentary of the concert by The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25 1976. It was advertised as the group’s last show and they were joined by an illustrious line-up of talent including Van Morrison. Here they are with CARAVAN:
The Decemberists’ songs range from upbeat pop to instrumentally lush ballads, and often employ instruments like the accordian, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer organ and upright bass. In their lyrics, the band rejects the angst and introspection common to modern rock and instead favour a storytelling approach, as evidenced in songs such as MY MOTHER WAS A CHINESE TRAPEZE ARTIST. It’s from the 5 Songs EP.
The 1986 Madness song (Waiting for) THE GHOST TRAIN was actually about apartheid in South Africa but hey, I love the title and based on that alone it made the playlist.
“I got blisters on my fingers!!!!” yells Ringo Starr, (I think), at the end of The Beatles’ frenetic HELTER SKELTER. Written by Paul McCartney, he deliberately tried to create a sound that was as loud and dirty as possible. Done.
Moving onto something a lot more mellow, it was Alison Goldfrapp with the very beautiful CLOWNS from her 2008 album Seventh Tree. And you thought I only played the old stuff. Oh you of little faith!
With his astonishingly accomplished guitar playing, Stevie Ray Vaughan ignited the blues revival of the ’80s. He was inspired equally from bluesmen like Albert King, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters and rock & roll players like Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack as well as the stray jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, developing a uniquely eclectic and fiery style that sounded like no other guitarist, regardless of genre. It’s been said that Vaughan bridged the gap between blues and rock like no other artist had since the late ’60s. His tragic death in 1990, at the age of 35 in a helicopter accident, only emphasized his influence in blues and American rock & roll. Here he is with Double Trouble performing TIGHTROPE:
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon is the second solo studio album from Paul Simon, released in 1973. the album covers several styles and genres. Our choice from the album was, of course, TAKE ME TO THE MARDI GRAS.
Natalie Merchant has been quoted as saying that she named her first solo album Tigerlily because the word evoked a feeling that was both ‘fierce’ and delicate’. Released in 1995 the album included the hit single CARNIVAL in which the protaganist compares the colourful sights and sounds of New York with being at a carnival.
A trio of guilty pleasures were lined up next: Back in 1967 The Hollies released ON A CAROUSEL and Manfred Mann were also were enraptured with the circus on HA! HA! SAID THE CLOWN. But the guiltiest of pleasures was still to come: In 1971 Cher released her first chart-topper, as a solo artist, in the United States: GYPSIES, TRAMPS AND THIEVES. Come on, you’ve gotta love Cher!
Swedish group, The Cardigans, had their first international breakthrough with their 1995 album Life which included the track CARNIVAL, a very cruisy pop tune with the gorgeous Nina Persson on vocals.
Beirut is an interesting band. They’re American yet their music combines elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk with Western pop music. They successfully fuse mainstream and indie-rock with the World Music market and consequently have a very unique sound. CAROUSELS, from their 2007 album Lon Gisland, is a great example of their work.
Beirut proved to be a great lead in to our final song of the day, the very gothic CARNY by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I love the use of accordian on this track (thanks to Warren Ellis). It gives the song an even more intense circus-like feel.
I’m happy to say that I’ll be back for another season of the Theme Park, same time same airspace. So keep listening locally on BayFM99.9 or streaming live on BayFM.org. And I’d love to get your suggestions for next week’s show, which will be on GAMBLING.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Being For The Beneﬁt Of Mr. Kite – Across The Universe, Eddie Izzard
Carnival – The Black Rider, Tom Waits
Love Rollercoaster – Funk Classics, The 70′s, Ohio Players
Enter The Circus – Back To Basics, Christina Aguilera
Troubles Somehow – Sometimes the Stars, The Audreys
The Circus Is Leaving Town – Ballad of the Broken Seas Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
Carnival Time – Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Al Johnson
Palisades Park – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Classics, Freddy Cannon
Coney Island Girl – Come Find Yourself, Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Sideshow – Ultimate Slow Jams 9 [Disc 4], The Stylistics
The Tears Of A Clown – Motown’s Biggest Pop Hits, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
Nellie The Elephant – The Wonderful World Of The Toy Dolls, Toy Dolls
Caravan – The Last Waltz [Disc 2], The Band + Van Morrison
My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artist – 5 Songs, The Decemberists
Goodbye Cruel World – Jukebox Hits 1961, James Darren
The Ghost Train – Rock TV Classic, Madness
Helter Skelter – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 2], The Beatles
Clowns – Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp
Tightrope [Live] – SRV (Disc 3), Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Take Me To The Mardi Gras – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon
Carnival – Tigerlily, Natalie Merchant
Fire Eater – Naturally, Three Dog Night
Ha! Ha! Said The Clown – Manfred Mann
On A Carousel – The Hits Of 1967, The Hollies
Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves – Billboard Top Rock ‘N’ Roll Hits: 1971, Cher
Carnival – Life, The Cardigans
Carousels – The Lon Gisland EP, Beirut
The Carny – The Best Of, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Theme Park is now in Drive Time! I’m very excited, (explanation points aside, can you tell?). To celebrate, the topic this week was CHANGE. There were songs about every possible variety of change: political, social, cultural, emotional, physical, even the kind you find at the bottom of your handbag when you most need it.
BayFM is now in its Winter season and with Theme Park’s new time of Tuesdays 4-6pm, you may have only just discovered us. So, if this is your first visit, the idea is not to find a list of the “best” songs on a subject, because “best” is boring and more or less just involves me reaffirming how great the Beatles, Radiohead and Roy Orbison are. No, what we’re trying to create is a thematically coherent playlist with a mix of genres, eras and moods. Some songs you’ll already know; some, maybe, you won’t, and hopefully each week we’ll rediscover the classics, and discover new music, together.
We opened the show with Michael Jackson’s MAN IN THE MIRROR. And what a great message it is: if you want to change the world then start with yourself and your attitude to those less fortunate than yourself. We followed with something a little less serious: the great Ella Fitzgerald with ANYTHING GOES from her album ‘The Cole Porter Songbook’. It was the first album she recorded for the Verve album in 1956.
John Mayer is in Australia at the moment and I’ll forgive his indiscretions in recent interviews because WAITIN’ ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE is such a great track. Here he is with an acoustic version of the song. Very nice.
We followed with the definitive cover of Bob Dylan’s ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER by Jimi Hendrix. Dylan wrote this song at a time that he was experiencing a complete life change, with two young children and a growing interest in the Bible. Hendrix’s version is so highly regarded that Dylan has been quoted as saying: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
Everyone’s allowed to change their mind now and again. A couple of terrific songs about the subject are the Cardigans’ ERASE/REWIND and soul singer Tyrone Davis’ CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
A completely different perspective on change came from the band Blind Melon. The track CHANGE is from their 1992 self-titled debut album and was the first written by lead singer Shannon Hoon, who struggled with a drug dependancy. The song encourages you to change your life when it gets too hard. Unfortunately Hoon found it difficult to take his own advice and he died in 1995, at 28, from an overdose. His grave is inscribed with words from the song.
Do you think money changes you? According to Cyndi Lauper MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING. Aretha Franklin, on the other hand, reckons MONEY WON’T CHANGE YOU. I think Aretha may have won that round.
Daniel Merriwether received a little bit of help from, rapper, Wale in the song CHANGE. The song and, in fact, the whole album was produced by wunderkid Mark Ronson. Rather than just play the official video clip, here’s a ‘making of’ that you might find interesting.
Country rockers, The Allman Brothers Band, sound as if they have hit rock bottom and are ready to do something about it in the very bluesy CHANGE MY WAY OF LIVING.
Another great rock group is Muse. The song FEELING GOOD is probably best known for Nina Simone’s outstanding recording. Here, Muse take the optimism of Simon’s standard to a whole other place.
We rounded out the hour with THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Recorded in 1971, it’s a poem and a song by Gil Scott-Heron, generally considered to be the father of hip-hop and neo soul.
I’M COMING OUT is a joyous disco number from Diana Ross. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, of the 70’s Disco band ‘Chic’, wrote and produced the track. Rodgers got the idea for the song when he went to a transvestite club in New York City. He went to the bathroom, and while he was standing at the urinal, he saw three men who were all dressed as Diana Ross.
I love my R&B. Anyone who saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Blues Fest a few years ago know what a dynamic group they are. A great song from them is SOMETHING’S CHANGED. We followed with A CHANGE IS GONNA COME. Sam Cooke’s Dylan-inspired, lump-in-the-throat protest song mourns both racial intolerance and his infant son’s fatal drowning. And it’s the most requested song in our list today.
Joni Mitchell’s song BIG YELLOW TAXI is about changes brought about by so-called ‘progress’; “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Sound familiar? And a big shout out to everyone in Mullumbimby, while we’re on the subject of unnecessary change.
David Bowie’s song CHANGES is one you must have predicted. And I’m nothing, if not predictable. We followed with another very predictable track: THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’, although it’s not Bob Dylan but a wonderful version by Nina Simone.
Let’s talk physical change. Can you get any better than Lou Reed’s TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE? It’s from the Transformer album, recorded in 1972 and produced by David Bowie. “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.” Yep, that’s what I call change.
Talking of changing teams, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood contributed a track from their Live From Madison Square Garden album, called, appropriately, TEAM CHANGES. And then it was time to head back to a song about political change: Tracey Chapman with TALKIN’ BOUT A REVOLUTION.
John Legend got some help from Snoop Dogg on I CAN CHANGE. That’s for the right girl, he asserts. Yeah yeah, heard it all before Johnny.
The Audreys do a gorgeous cover of the INXS song DON’T CHANGE. It challenges you not to change. Because you’re perfectly OK as you are, you know. The song is from the album, Between Last Night and Us. Here they are performing at Woodford Folk Festival, 2009:
We closed the show with a beauty: the Beatles and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. “Nothings going to change my world.” Well, maybe, but one thing I do know is that change is inevitable and while we might not appreciate it at the time, its all good.
Next week’s theme will be MORE CRED WHEN DEAD. Yes, every track will be from an artist who has passed on to that big disco in the sky and more than likely became more successful after they were gone. Big list to choose from, so inevitably there will be some omissions. But let me know your requests anyway. Love to hear from you.
Here’s this week’s playlist. From this week, I’ll include the album names as well. You can find all songs on iTunes.
Man in the Mirror – Bad, Michael Jackson
Anything Goes – The Cole Porter Songbook (CD1), Ella Fitzgerald
Waiting on the World to Change – Continuum, John Mayer
All Along The Watchtower – The Ultimate Experience, Jimi Hendrix
Erase/Rewind – Gran Turismo, The Cardigans
Can I Change My Mind – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Tyrone Davis
Change – Blind Melon, Blind Melon
Money Changes Everything – Twelve Deadly Cyns, Cyndi Lauper
Money Won’t Change You – Lady Soul, Aretha Frankin
Change – Love & War, Daniel Merriweather (and Wale)
Change My Way of Living – Where It All Begins, The Allman Brothers Band
Feeling Good – The Best of Muse CD2, Muse
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – The Breaks II, Gil Scott-Heron
I’m Coming Out – Floorﬁllers 80s Club Classics CD3 – Diana Ross
Something’s Changed – 100 Days, 100 Nights, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
A Change Is Gonna Come – The Man & His Music, Sam Cooke
Big Yellow Taxi – Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell
Changes – Hunky Dory, David Bowie
The Times They Are a Changin’ – Forever Young, Gifted & Black, Nina Simone
Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Transformer Lou Reed
Team Changes – Live From Madison Square Garden Cd1, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
I Can Change feat. Snoop Dogg – Get Lifted, John Legend
Don’t Change – Between Last Night and Us, The Audreys
Across The Universe – Let It Be, The Beatles
Next week: MORE CRED WHEN DEAD
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn