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!