I’ve been away in my home town of Sydney for a couple of weeks but you can’t keep me from Byron Bay for long, so I was all fired up for this week’s show on SONGS WITH SOUND FX in them. I’ve discovered that many a song has been enhanced by a clever piece of non-musical noise and our opening song, MY BROTHER MAKES THE NOISES FOR THE TALKIES summed up the program beautifully. It’s by the very entertaining UK group, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Sounds of thunder accompany a song that suits the weather we’re having up here at the moment. WALKING IN THE RAIN is by the Ronettes, best known for their work with Phil Spector. With their beehive hairdos and tight skirts, they were known as the ‘bad girls’ of rock n roll. And now you know where Amy Winehouse go her ‘look’.
The sound of lapping waves welcomes in Otis Redding’ standard, SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY. Redding wrote this song while living on a houseboat in Sausalito on the San Francisco Bay. It was recorded shortly before his tragic death at the age 0f 26. Released posthumously, it is his biggest hit ever.
There’s lots of playground noise on Cat Steven’s (REMEMBER THE DAYS OF) THE OLD SCHOOL YARD. And The Beatles use all kinds of carnival noises on BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE.
Jazz great Charles Mingus got his band to use their instruments to sound like foghorns and other harbour sounds on the remarkable A FOGGY DAY. In complete contrast, but somehow weirdly complementary, is M.I.A.’s PAPER PLANES. She utilizes the sounds of a cash register and heavy gunshot noise on this very provocative piece of hip-hop.
There were lots of requests for MONEY by Pink Floyd. And it had to be played, if not for the very good use of various sound effects, but because, well ….. it’s Pink Floyd!
Another fantastic song with sound effects is NO TIENE BILLET from Fruko y Sus Tesos. The rifle fire that tears through this brilliant Colombian tune implies that the eruption of violence, in a very poor country especially, is almost inevitable. On NITE CLUB, by the Specials, the only aggression heard is raised voices and the clinking of glasses.
George Gershwin’s AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, written in 1928, is full of imagery gone wild. It’s a brilliant song and a brilliant film too. This was Gene Kelly’s magnum opus. His choreography was of such a standard that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences created a special Oscar that year in recognition of his achievement. Dancing to a segment of George Gershin’s stunning music, here is Kelly’s duet with the beautiful Leslie Caron:
Michael Jackson uses sound effects to the hilt on THRILLER and the Doors gave us another perfect weather song, with its thunder and lighting sound effect: RIDERS ON A STORM.
There are some very suggestive street sounds on what happens to be one of my all time favourite songs: LOOKING FOR THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT from the sublime Mr. Tom Waits. And then there’s a beautiful song that reminds me of my home town, Sydney: The Platters’ HARBOR LIGHTS.
Yep, that’s a baby gurgling throughout Stevie Wonder’s ISN’T SHE LOVELY. And as far as car sounds go, you can’t go past the highly influential electronic pioneers, Kraftwerk, with AUTOBAHN. Check this out:
Talking of road sounds, you didn’t actually think I was going to leave out LEADER OF THE PACK by the Shangri Las did you? This clip is from the television show ‘Ive Got a Secret’, recorded in 1964. The ‘bikie’ is Robert Goulet!
Dancehall queen, Lady Saw, inserts self-made creaking sounds on BED NOISE. They’re so convincing that I can hear the neighbours complaining already! Neo Ska group, The Specials, seem to put sound effects on most of their songs. This is one of their big hits: GHOST TOWN. These guys have been around for 30 years and still going strong. Here they are on Top of the Pops in 1981. Blast from the past. Love, love, love.
The Surfaris break a surfboard just to make a point on WIPEOUT. Creaking doors and other creepy sounds illustrate MONSTER MASH, by the marvellously named Boris Pickett and the Crypkickers. And crashing glass introduces Billy Joel’s YOU MAY BE RIGHT. How’s that for a trio of songs with sound effects? And just because I can, here’s a nice little clip with lots of fun horror film clips, backed up by MONSTER MASH. Do you see where Michael Jackson got his inspiration for Thriller?
Our last song went out to Des who so ably sat in for me while I was away for a few weeks. His favourite is Bob Dylan and it seems that Bob isn’t against using a sound effect either. There’s a mean sounding whistling siren on HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED.
Hopefully I won’t need to use any alarms to keep you awake during next week show on SLEEP AND INSOMNIA. Lots of great songs in this category so get your thinking caps on and send me your suggestions. But remember, we’ve done DREAMING and TIREDNESS, so the list has to be specifically about sleeping, or not.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Walking In The Rain – The Ronettes
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
(Remember The Days Of The) Old School Yard – Cat Stevens
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! – The Beatles
A Foggy Day – Charlie Mingus
Paper Planes – M.I.A.
Money – Pink Floyd
No Tiene Billete – Fruko y Sus Tesos
Nite Club – The Specials
An American In Paris – George Gershwin
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night – Tom Waits
Harbor Lights – The Platters
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Autobahn – Kraftwerk
Leader Of The Pack – The Shangri-Las
Bed Noise – Lady Saw
Ghost Town – The Specials
Wipe Out – The Surfaris
Monster Mash – Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-kickers
You May Be Right – Billy Joel
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
Next week: SLEEP AND INSOMNIA!
In my opinion, a ‘list’ song, if it’s genuine, should feature at least half a dozen items. In compiling this week’s playlist I didn’t feel it was good enough to include songs that simply rattled off one number after another or letters of the alphabet, although place names and girl’s names did get a bit of a look in. So it was a bit of a challenge, but that’s what makes it so much fun.
We opened the program with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s spoof of band leader introductions, INTRO & OUTRO, in which each instrument is played by an unlikely public figure: “Looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes. Nice.” I couldn’t find a video clip of the original song but here are the Bonzos performing a version with the cast of the pre-Python show, “Do Not Adjust Your Set”, 1967-1969:
That song set a pretty high benchmark for the rest of the show. The only thing to do was to take a completely different direction and consequently it was a couple of R&B standards: Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD and The Temptations with THE WAY YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO.
Bob Dylan’s SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES is a lively example of the list song if ever there was one. I’ve played this before and also posted the video clip, so let’s don’t do that again. Instead let’s have a look at feminist electro-punk trio Le Tigre, who pay tribute to dozens of female visual artists, musicians, writers, feminists and others who have inspired them, in HOT TOPIC.
Just to stir things up, we followed with UK group Pop Will Eat Itself with CAN U DIG IT. It’s a list of their favourite things including disco, comic books, AC/DC and the Twilight Zone. Somehow I don’t think that Le Tigre and PWEI should ever meet.
In the 40’s & 50’s list songs were sophisticated affairs, delivered with polite confidence. There’s no better example than Sarah Vaughan singing THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME. Vaughan died 10 years ago this week. Jazz commentator Scott Yanow described her as having “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century” and I couldn’t agree more.
John Lennon wasn’t concerned with being polite on his 1971 recording of GIMME SOME TRUTH. In fact, just the opposite, as he expressed frustration with deceptive politicians at the time of the Vietnam War: “short-haired, yellow bellied sons of Tricky Dicky”. It’s from the Imagine album. Here’s an extract of the documentary on the making of the album, featuring GIMME SOME TRUTH:
It’s also the 10th anniversary of Ian Dury’s death (on March 27th). He was a master of the ‘list’ song. Hard to choose, but decided to go with REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (Part 3). If ever there was a tune that encapsulated Durie”s love for jazz, rock & vaudeville and his collaborator Chaz Jankel’s love of funk, then this is it. Here’s an extended version performed live in 1985.
If you are ready to ditch someone from your life, it was probably time to take a few notes from Simon & Garfunkle as they explained about the 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER.
If you’re looking for a female perspective on the subject then Carole Bayer Sager is your girl. She’s in total control as she tells her ex-lover YOU’RE MOVING OUT TODAY. Lucinda Williams goes one step further. She’s CHANGED THE LOCKS:
Two more of the great jazz and blues singers are Etta James and Nina Simone. We played James’ THESE FOOLISH THINGS REMIND ME OF YOU and Simone’s AIN’T GOT NO, I GOT LIFE.
LOSING MY EDGE was LCD Soundsystem’s first single in 2002 and was born out of James Murphy’s horror at realising that he was being branded ‘cool’. It’s laugh out loud funny in my books and, not to mention, has a great vinyl list to cross check your ‘coolness’ against:
“But have you seen my records? This Heat, Pere Ubu, Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, The Trojans, The Black Dice, Todd Terry, the Germs, Section 25, Althea and Donna, Sexual Harrassment, a-ha, Pere Ubu, Dorothy Ashby, PIL, the Fania All-Stars, the Bar-Kays, the Human League, the Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Niagra, Joy Division, Lower 48, the Association, Sun Ra, Scientists, Royal Trux, 10cc, Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force (“just hit me”!), Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil! Scott! Heron!, the Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharaoh Sanders and the Fire Engines, the Swans, the Soft Cell, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics.”
Moving back in time it was Wilson Pickett with LAND OF 1,000 DANCES and a track that I held back from my HAIR show last week because it was so perfect for this theme, BALD-HEADED LENA from Piano Red, later known as Dr. Feelgood. And to round out the triple play, it was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with a recipe, which of course is nothing but a list. The song: ALLIGATOR WINE.
The Queens of the Stone Age delivered FEEL GOOD HIT OF THE SUMMER. Apart from the single word “and”, their salute to stimulants is nothing but a list, performed with the enthusiasm of those who know of what they speak. Unlike myself of course. Here’s the official clip with a nice piece of animation.
If you’re after something a little more highbrow, and also quite funny, then you can’t go past Divine Comedy with BOOKLOVERS. It lists over 70 different authors for you. Names that live forever.
Here’s a beauty – Monty Python with a song that asserts that all of the great philosophers were drunks – BRUCE’S PHILOSOPHY SONG. Here they are performing at the Hollywood Bowl. Hilarious.
And now for something completely different: Antonio Carlos Jobim with Elis Regina singing the Brazilian classic AGUAS DE MARCO, an impressionistic flood of nouns representing the journey of life towards death. The title is translated as WATERS OF MARCH. Here’s a link to a very good blog that will tell you more about ‘Tom’ Jobim and will also give you the English version of the lyrics: http://leftbankpress.blogspot.com/2006/02/aguas-de-marco-waters-of-march.html
And, from me (and YouTube, of course), a clip of the duo performing the song live:
Having put you in a Latin mood, it was time for some Latin fusion and the next number would surely have had you up and dancing. Lou Bega’s MAMBO NUMBER 5. Can you believe that it was Australia’s #1 single in 1999?
As we were heading towards the end of the program it was great to get my dose of Roy Orbison by including The Travelling Wilburys in the show. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison made up the super group. Legends, one and all, they contributed an interesting little ditty called DIRTY WORLD, with Bob Dylan on lead vocals. And then it was time for two other ex-Beatles with songs about LISTS: Paul McCartney and Wings with LET EM IN and, how could we leave out John Lennon’s GIVE PEACE A CHANCE?
Billy Joel defended the Baby Boomer generation with his hit WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. As the song goes: “We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world was turning.” Well, yeah, but …
We closed the show with REM’s IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (AND I FEEL FINE). Inspired by Bob Dylan’s SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES, the track is known for its quick flying lyrics taking the form of what appears to be a stream of consciousness. Michael Stipe says that he wrote the song after dreaming that he was at a birthday party where all the other guests had the initials L.B. hence “Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs, birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!”
And on that note it was fini. Next week the theme will be FRIENDS & NEIGHBOURS, so get your thinking caps on. And try to avoid themes for sit-coms. Yes, it’s going to be harder than it looks.
Here’s the complete playlist for this week:
Intro And The Outro – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
What A Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
The Way You Do The Things You Do – The Temptations
Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
Hot Topic – Le Tigre
Can U Dig It – Pop Will Eat Itself
They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Sarah Vaughan
Night Train – James Brown
Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon
Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3) – Ian Dury and The Blockheads
Fifty ways to leave your lover – Simon & Garfunkel
You’re Moving Out Today – Carol Bayer Sager
Changed The Locks (Live) – Lucinda Williams
These Foolish Things (Remind M – Etta James
Ain’t Got No I Got Life – Nina Simone
Losing My Edge – LCD Soundsystem
Land Of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
Bald-Headed Lena – Piano Red (Dr. Feelgood)
Alligator Wine – Frenzy Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age
The Booklovers – Divine Comedy
Bruce’s Philosophers song – Monty Python
Aguas de Março – Elis Regina & Antonio Jobim
Mambo No.5 – Lou Bega
Dirty World – Traveling Wilburys
Let ‘Em In – Paul McCartney & Wings
Give Peace A Chance – John Lennon
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.
Now I know that in reality fire is pretty frightening, and I don’t take the current fire warnings lightly, but for songwriters, flames represent love, dancing and, above all, passion. And that just can’t be a bad thing.
In reggae and punk, however, fire has a moral – almost purging – quality to it. Recorded as riots swept Britain in 1979, the Ruts incredibly tense BABYLON’S BURNING foresees the demise of western civilisation. Extra points, too, for starting the song with a fire alarm and siren. Excellent.
DISCO INFERNO from the Trammps, would normally be a scary newspaper headline but when you’re grooving away to very this funky track, you know that it’s more about burning up the dance floor, rather than burning down the building. Here’s a clip from the song that is probably best remembered from the film Saturday Night Fever :
The Pointer Sisters know all about passion. Cause when they kiss, its oooooh FIRE. Dido, on the other hand is way more restrained in her rendition of FEELS LIKE FIRE, her contribution to Carlos Santana’s album Shaman. This is a very interesting album and worth a listen with its mix of hip-hop, rap and pop artists.
Last week in our Covers show, Patricia Barber did a great version of the Doors’ LIGHT MY FIRE. I wasn’t beyond playing the tune again, as it suits the theme, but this time it was the very sexy version by the beautiful Julie London. In complete contrast, M.I.A. came out fighting with FIRE, FIRE as she reckons relationships are more like a battlefield. Fair enough.
Country fans weren’t ignored. First it was a classic from Johnny Cash – RING OF FIRE – that I teamed with BABY I’M BURNIN’ from the wonderful Dolly Parton. To round out the set, who else but, Bruce Springsteen burning up the airwaves with I’M ON FIRE.
Time: 1983. Place: Any Disco in Town. Talking Heads creepy dance track, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, was inspired by the crowd at a Funkadelic concert shouting ‘Burn Down the House’ but David Byrnes’ penetrating delivery suggests that he may have taken it way too literally. At the same time Madonna was emerging as the next big thing and she exhibits the combination of erotic heat and disco fever that would keep her in good stead for the rest of her career. The song, of course, was BURNING UP. Here’s a clip of Talking Heads with BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, a great example of art-school punks of the 80’s.
In a show about FIRE we can’t leave out Deep Purple’s SMOKE ON THE WATER. So, we didn’t. Here’s a clip of the original Mark II lineup in New York, 1973. One of the final performances, this is one of the only videos of the band performing it in the 70’s with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.
The second hour of the show was suitably launched with the Lord of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown with FIRE. That was followed by Brian Eno’s strange little song, BABY’S ON FIRE. It started Eno’s post-Roxy Music solo career and owes as much to Robert Fripp’s guitar solo as it does to Eno’s sinister vocals. Then it was time for some lovin’ music and Teddy Pendergrass & Stephanie Mills were definitely burning with desire with their song FEEL THE FIRE.
Last week on our Covers show I played some Elvis, (Presley that is, not Costello), and Mel from BayFM’s Rollin’ program told me that she was sorry that we didn’t hear more of the King on local radio, so who am I disappoint the gorgeous Mel, especially when it fits so beautifully with this week’s theme? So it was one of Elvis’ best: BURNING LOVE.
Here’s a great triple play: Jimi Hendrix with FIRE, Prodigy with their first UK number one single, the controversial FIRESTARTER and then it was the Stones with PLAY WITH FIRE. This track was the B side to ‘The Last Time’. Released in 1965, it was recorded the night before they left to tour Australia. The video for this track is quite pedestrian, so I’d rather show you something wild – and so, the Prodigy’s official video for FIRESTARTER it is. Enjoy.
There was still time for Nirvana’s LAKE OF FIRE and Natalie Merchant’s THIS HOUSE IS ON FIRE. I really liked the combination in this set. And then it was time to finish up with Aussie made good Daniel Merriweather supported by Adele, with WATER AND FLAME. The final song was a guilty pleasure (as if I didn’t include enough of them already!) – a song that I probably should have included in the program on FAMOUS PEOPLE – Billy Joel’s WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. Check it out and you’ll understand why:
Here’s the complete playlist: