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
How come every songwriter hasn’t written at least one song about schooldays? Come on, it has all the vital ingredients for a hit: that age-old conflict between discipline and rebellion, close friendships, sexual awakenings and enough traumatic experiences to feed a healthy persecution complex for the rest of your life. Mind you, while every songwriter may not have taken up the opportunity to reveal all about their schooldays, those that did contributed to a pretty good playlist this week.
We opened the show with SCHOOL DAYS by Chuck Berry who turns the joy of hearing the final bell into some hot rock’n’roll. Then it was Young MC who seems well versed in being sent to the PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE, while the Pipettes LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. Don’t we all?
Belle & Sebastian could pretty much compile an album of songs about classroom politics but the pick of the bunch is EXPECTATIONS, from the soundtrack to Juno. The song’s misfit heroine wins the heart of every indie boy by “making life-size models of the Velvet Underground from clay”. Now why didn’t I go to that school?
Jack White is a bit of a hero of mine, so I had to include The White Stripes with WE’RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS. Everyone needs a best buddie at school that’s for sure.
A couple of real classics followed. I would have been sent to detention if I hadn’t included ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL from Pink Floyd or Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ fantastic diss on school, JACK SHIT GEORGE.
Steely Dan had us bopping along to the fact that they are “never going back to” MY OLD SCHOOL. And then it was Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
Sonny Boy Williamson contributed one of the most provocative tracks on the playlist this week, GOOD MORNIN’ LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL. This blues classic was written about the schoolgirl as sexual fantasy. It’s since been covered by every classic-rock band under the sun, but I think the original is still the best.
ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD is a song performed by Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album. In my opinion he’s one of the best contemporary songwriters we have. Here he is performing the song live:
The music video of BAGGY TROUSERS, by Madness, was shot in an English school and park. The band’s saxophone player, Lee Thompson, decided he wanted to fly through the air for his solo, with the use of wires hanging from a crane. The resulting shot is one of the most popular of any of the Madness music videos.
ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL by The Ramones was followed by a personal pick: CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS RULE, by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yes, being an old tyke, or as they say in the trade a “lapsed Catholic”, I have to agree that Catholic Schoolgirls do rule!
A couple of little morality tales followed. James Brown warned DON’T BE A DROPOUT and then it was the wonderful Brenda Holloway performing with the Supremes, as back-up (how’s that!). The song was PLAY IT COOL, STAY IN SCHOOL. All good advice of course.
Cat Stevens took a trip down memory lane with OLD SCHOOL YARD and Busted revealed, THAT’S WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL FOR, a disarmingly frank pop tune about having a crush on a teacher.
Babs Gonzalez taught us a bit about Bebop with PROFESSOR BOP while Nat King Cole favours all things extra-curricular in YOU DON’T LEARN THAT IN SCHOOL.
Boomtown Rats followed with I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS and then it was Billy Bragg with the brilliant, THE SATURDAY BOY which I’ve played before, but with its school setting was a certainty to be played again this week.
Like most of The Coaster’s songs, CHARLIE BROWN was written by the songwriting team of Leiber And Stoller. They wrote hits for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. The songs they wrote for The Coasters were usually more comical. In this case, the song is about a kid who is always getting in trouble and asks “why is everyone always picking on me?”
A nice piece of reggae followed, suggested by Lynden in Sydney: Dennis Alcapone with TEACH THE CHILDREN.
Otis Rush’s distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and is cited as an influence on many musicians, including Eric Clapton. Rush is left-handed and, unlike many left-handed guitarists, plays a left-handed instrument strung upside-down with the low E string at the bottom. He played often with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning . It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. Check it out on this video where he performs HOMEWORK:
A little change of pace then with The Smiths and THE HEADMASTER RITUAL followed by Graham Parker & The Rumour with BACK TO SCHOOLDAYS.
Jerry Lee Lewis uses high school as a setting, rather than a storyline, in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. This would have been his fourth consecutive hit in a row, if controversy hadn’t raged about the fact that his new wife was hardly old enough to be in high school. Oops. Doesn’t seem to bother the audience at this concert in London in the 60’s:
It was nearly time for the final bell, but we still squeezed in another triple play: The Hollies with CARRIE ANNE, N.R.B.Q. with STILL IN SCHOOL and WAITIN’ IN SCHOOL from Ricky Nelson.
Our finale was reserved for a song that divides people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for TO SIR WITH LOVE, from the film of the same name. How gorgeous was Sidney Poitier? Here’s a clip of Lulu performing the song very recently, (I think it may have been 2008). And how good does she look?
Next week, I’m going to go against the grain. Yes I know that Valentines Day is coming up soon but the cynic in me has decided to mount an ANTI LOVE show. So, if you have any suggestions drop me a line.
Here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Next week: ANTI-LOVE