Our theme this week was Star Signs – songs of the zodiac, songs that highlight the way someone’s birth date can influence their very being (or maybe not). All the songs on this week’s list try to deal with the notion that we’re emotionally and intellectually influenced by the movement of some distant stars and planets. Some songwriters are more than happy to go along with the idea and some reject the concept outright. We opened the show with Diana Ross and the Supremes singing NO MATTER WHAT SIGN YOU ARE. Written by Berry Gordy and recorded in the the late 60’s it tried to cash in on the success of the musical HAIR and the hit tune AQUARIUS.
For jazz great Cannonball Adderley the zodiac was so fascinating that he devoted a whole 1972 album to it. With narration by DJ Rick Holmes – noted on the sleeve for his “sophisticated rhetoric” – SOUL ZODIAC is seduction par excellence, not to mention a reflection on an era when ‘The Age of Aquarius’ captured everyone’s imagination. If you’re celebrating your birthday this month, like BayFM presenters Helen from Q’s Jazz & Blues or Post Modern Backlash’s Hudson, or my gorgeous daughter Zoe, then you’re a Pisces. So it was fitting that we chose PISCES from Adderley’s album to move the show along.
Kris Kristofferson reminded us that there was a very famous Capricorn who “ate organic foods, believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes”. Yes, JESUS WAS A CAPRICORN. And then it was Creedence Clearwater Revival with a warning: there’s a BAD MOON RISING. Here they are performing the song live, in a rare video clip:
Curtis Mayfield’s “funky woman” decides, rather unfairly I think, that they’re incompatible because of what she reads in the newspaper. He tells us all about it in READINGS IN ASTROLOGY. The Floaters followed with their very groovy 1977 hit FLOAT ON.
Albert King blames the zodiac for all his troubles in BORN UNDER THE BAD SIGN. Albert was born on April 25, which makes him a Taurian. Seems like negativity might be a Taurian trait.
Jamiriquai were having a BLACK CAPRICORN DAY. Singer Jason Kay was born on December 30 and the song is reputedly autobiographical, telling of how he was kicked out of home as a teenager and surviving on the streets. I’m a Cappie myself, so I know how it feels when those occasional dark times descend. Luckily we’re essentially the zodiac’s eternal optimists so there’s always a silver lining under every black cloud. Check out the Jamiriquai video clip:
Talking of optimists, Adem is totally swept away with the power of the stars in THESE LIGHTS ARE MEANINGFUL. Tori Amos seems to be saying farewell to a February/March lover in GOODBYE PISCES. Cannonball Adderley and DJ Rick Holmes were at it again, this time with what many consider the best track from the SOUL ZODIAC album, CAPRICORN.
The Moody Blues delivered a song for all my crazy, brilliant, Gemini mates: GEMINI DREAM. Check out this video of them performing live in 1984 at Wembley Arena. Little bit of overkill on the smoke machine, methinks, but you’ve got to love the Moodies.
It’s been raining cats and dogs up here in the North, so a dose of the The Fifth Dimension with AQUARIUS and LET THE SUNSHINE IN lifted the mood somewhat and, hopefully, will influence the weatherman.
Some more Cannonball Adderley (it’s a great album, really!): Having already heard about the water sign PISCES and the earth sign CAPRICORN, it was time to find out about the fire sign ARIES. Prince couldn’t care less what sign you are, all he wants is your KISS.
Teenage Fanclub try to dismiss the power a star sign can hold: “Hey, there’s a horseshoe on my door,” they sing, “big deal. Hey, there’s a black cat on the floor, big deal.” But the Fanclub accept that people’s days are changed by whatever they wish to believe. For Rush, the question of whether the “stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign” is very simple. “I will choose a path that’s clear,” they proclaim. “I will choose freewill.” Hmmm, now there’s some food for thought. Check out the video of Rush performing live in 1981. Brilliant.
Regina Spektor is another favourite if mine. She’s an Aquarius and she’s recorded a song of the same name that’s intensely personal and worth checking out if you are also one of those highly intelligent, humanitarian people born under this particular water sign.
A great piece of instrumental followed, called SCORPIO, from the brilliant jazz guitarist and ex-Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey. This guy has played with all the soul greats, including Mavin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder….. the list goes on. And he’s white! Just goes to show, there’s no colour barrier to soul. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
More Cannonball Adderley (can I help it if the guy’s a genius and he just so happened to record a whole album that suited the theme?). He gives the air sign LIBRA its due attention, and we know that Librans like attention don’t we! . German Big Bander Gunter Noris contributed the track GEMINI from an album called ‘The In Kraut Hip Shaking Grooves”. I kid you not. The 70’s have a lot to answer for.
SAGITTARIUS SILVER ANNOUNCEMENT is from the album Embryonic, by the band that dared to remake Dark Side of the Moon and actually got away with it – the Flaming Lips. I don’t have a decent clip of them performing this great track, but I encourage you to check out their very good website at http://www.flaminglips.com
The next double was a very moving one. First up it was George Harrison with a song about his own star sign, PISCES FISH and we followed with one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve heard of late, GUIDING STAR by Neil Finn. It was recorded on the album Caution: Life Ahead as a fundraiser for the Buttery rehabilitation centre here in the Northern Rivers.
Now I did choose to cover Western Astrology for this week’s show but I want to recognise that this is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. For those of you born under this sign you are courageous, daring, confident and a born leader. But you can be unpredictable and tempestuous, sometimes territorial and possessive. Because 2010 s the Year of the Metal Tiger, it also brings you additional strength and determination. And in celebration of what looks like a dynamic year for all of us, and as a tribute to all the Leos out there, we closed the show with Al Stewart’s YEAR OF THE CAT. Kung Hei Fat Choy! That is, I hope this year brings you all good fortune and prosperity.
I’m often quoted as saying that I’ll do a show on almost anything, including fruit and vegetables and I realized I hadn’t actually created a show about these very healthy food items, so next week FRUIT AND VEGIES it is. Whatchagot?
Here’s this week’s playlist:
As a tribute to all the Capricorns celebrating their birthdays at the moment, (including me!), the theme this week was GOING OUT AND PARTYING. Some famous Capricorns include Elvis Presley, who would have turned 75 this week, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Dolly Parton… the list goes on. Oh, what amazing company I’m in!
We opened the show Pink’s GET THIS PARTY STARTED and if that song can’t get you in the party mood I don’t know what will. If you’ve never seen Pink perform live, you are really missing out. Here’s some footage from her show at the Wembley Arena. Enjoy.
Wanda Jackson also has the right attitude. Her song LET’S HAVE A PARTY was a hit for her in 1959, a year after Elvis Presley released it. I totally adore Louis Jordan and included two of his tracks this week. The first has a great clip to show you. Have a look at LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL :
The Theme Park party was off to a great start and the party continued with Santana’s INTERPLANETARY PARTY from the 2007 album, Ultimate Santana. But, I ask you, what’s a party without James Brown? One thing you can count on, he’s GONNA HAVE A FUNKY GOOD TIME. Joe Jackson was also STEPPIN OUT and, as the Showstoppers explained, with their hit of 1968, it AIN’T NOTHIN BUT A HOUSE PARTY.
Loved Sam Cooke’s smooth rendition of WE’RE HAVING A PARTY but I have to admit that I was totally intrigued by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song title, GOING TO A GO-GO. I have no idea what a Go-Go is, but the song is a sure fire dance floor filler, so it has to be about a party, surely.
The Irish Rovers sound as if it was one hell of a get-together with their ditty WASN’T THAT A PARTY. It’s hard to find a full clip of the Rovers singing any song but here’s one that includes this catchy tune, which they used to open their 80’s television series “Party with the Rovers”. Take a peek:
Claudine Clark’s one-hit wonder of 1962, PARTY LIGHTS, stands out because she wrote the music and the lyrics herself, which was unusual for a female performer during that time. Sung from the point of view of a teenage girl ordered to her room while her friends were out having a good time, “Party Lights” struck a chord and shot into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts.
What’s the purpose of a party? Well, let’s face it life can be pretty serious a lot of the time, so getting together with your friends and celebrating the positive things in life can be a lot of fun. Although I can testify that the after effects don’t always make it worth the effort. But that’s just my hangover talking. I’m sure the wonderful Amos Milburn wouldn’t agree and he has a great song to prove it – LET’S HAVE A PARTY.
Friday night seems to be the favourite night of the week to go out, so I thought it was appropriate to include Lily Allen’s FRIDAY NIGHT and The Specials’ FRIDAY NIGHT, SATURDAY MORNING. Then Three Dog Night claimed that their MOMMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME. They had to find out the hard way that “This is the craziest party there could ever be”. Check out the clip from 1970:
We played PARTY TRAIN by the Dazz Band on our Train show but it deserved a second listen. Smiley Lewis followed with CALADONIA’S PARTY. Now anyone with a name like Caledonia deserves to have a party in her honour, don’t you think?
Bobby Darin was just sitting in his bath, minding his own business and gets out of the bath with just a towel around him. Now how did he know there was a party going on? That’s how he tells it anyway in SPLISH SPLASH.
ZZ Top know how to do party. They’re turning up the radio and having a PARTY ON THE PATIO. Lesley Gore, on the other hand, needs a bit of sympathy. As she tells it, ITS MY PARTY (and I’ll cry if I want to).
The Donnas give short shrift to gatecrashers on WHO INVITED YOU? And for my guilty pleasure it was Kiss: “and you say you wanna go for a spin, the party’s just begun, we’ll let you in, you drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy.” Yes, indeed, I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL.
Maybe the party lifestyle isn’t what its all cracked up to be. Not according to Elvis Costello and the Attractions, anyway, with PARTY GIRL or Marc Almond and Soft Cell with their reality check of a song, BEDSITTER.
I’m not convinced. Give me the optimisim of Michael Jackson’s OFF THE WALL or anything from the disco era, like Kool and the Gang’s CELEBRATION or Alicia Bridges with the party girl’s anthem, I LOVE THE NIGHLIFE. The song will forever be associated with the film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and who am I to change that? Check out the clip:
The Beastie Boys are ready to FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY. Excellent. Even Bob Dylan had a song for us about parties – MILLION DOLLAR BASH.
Time to finish the show and what better way than with the brilliant Blossom Dearie with THE PARTY’S OVER followed by the Beatles’ BIRTHDAY. Here’s a cute piece of animation created by Mery, for all the Capricorns out there.
I thought next week I might have to work off some of the birthday cake, so it’s a show more for the walkers, than the talkers. The theme is WALKING AND RUNNING. Any suggestions?
Here’s this week’s playlist: