HANDCLAPPING is not only a very useful and easy accompaniment on a music track, it also nearly always signifies a certain level of enthusiasm and joy. And I reckon that’s exactly the kind of show we needed right now, with the weather being so dreary. Clapping is used as a percussion element in many forms of music including Gospel, flamenco, electronic and pop. Shirley Ellis’s 1965 soul hit THE CLAPPING SONG was our opener and it perfectly fitted my criterion for this week’s playlist, with its reference to a favourite childhood game full of happy memories.
Outkast’s song, about a relationship in denial, HEY YA! is a crazy mix of soul, rock and everything in-between, including a chorus of handclapping that recalls the girl groups of the 60’s, 70’s funk and even pop fare like Toni Basil’s Mickey. Check out the amazing Andre 3000 performing the song live at the Grammy Awards:
A couple of rock’n’roll icons who knew the value of a bit of handclapping were Eddie Cochran with his 1958 hit SUMMERTIME BLUES and Elvis Presley with RUBBERNECKIN’, released in 1969. Most songs written by the King of Rock n Roll had girls swooning and shaking and RUBBERNECKIN’ was no exception. A remix version, by Paul Oakenfield, was released in 2003 and managed to top the US charts. I chose to play the original, which also appeared in the King’s final feature film, Change of Habit. Here’s a clip from that film with loads of handclapping in evidence:
Contributing a little funk were The Meters with their HANDCLAPPING SONG and we followed with that great girl group, The Marvelettes, singing TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA. The Marvelettes were Motown’s first successful singing girl group recording on the Tamla label. They set the precedent for Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes.
If you’re after some God-fearing, gospel style clapping then there’s arguably none better than the Abyssinian Baptist Choir and SAID I WASN’T GOING TO TELL NOBODY. Sheer ecstacy for some but I get my thrills from singers such as Jenny Lewis and her band Rilo Kiley. They have a very simple yet effective song featuring handclapping, THE FRUG.
I don’t think Peter Noonan sang any of Herman’s Hermit songs without clapping along and CAN’T YOU HEAR MY HEARTBEAT is no exception. Check out the Noonan’s facial expression at 1:24. Love it that they didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Two more songs that feature a good dose of handclapping are DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD by Santa Esmeralda and Rose Royce’s original version of CAR WASH. Scottish folk/rock group Stealers Wheel’s song, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU, found a whole new audience when it featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. I’d love to include a clip from this film but it just so happens that the song is the backdrop for the most confronting scene in the movie and I did want to keep things cheerful!
The Cars emerged from the New Wave movement of the late 70’s with a blend of punk minimalism, synth-pop and art rock. It’s hard to believe that it’s now ten years since lead singer and bassist, Ben Orr, died of pancreatic cancer. Here he is looking smoking hot on their 1979 release, LET’S GO.
One of the most creative and idiosyncratic musicians of the 1990s and 2000s is Beck with his collage of musical styles, ironic lyrics and quirky arrangements. Check out this clip of his song CLAP HANDS. Now this is what I call good dinner conversation.
The late country crossover artist, Eddie Rabbitt, has a great clappiing song that also pays tribute to the clapping of thunder. I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT was a perfect track to accompany our weather report.
HANDCLAPPING is a very convenient piece of musical improvisation and it comes in useful across all musical genres. It also makes for a pretty cheerful playlist. To further prove my point we included two tracks from 1982: John Mellencamp’s HURTS SO GOOD and Prince’s LITTLE RED CORVETTE.
With a name like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! it’s a given that this group would have to have a least one song with handclapping in their repertoire. The title CLAP YOUR HANDS has also been used by Aussie singer Sia. Here’s she is with her very quirky video clip:
When it comes to video clips, however, none does it better than Gorillaz. DIRTY HARRY is from their second album, Demon Days. Like the video for another of their tracks CLINT EASTWOOD, the video of DIRTY HARRY references the film of the same name. It’s the only Gorillaz music video, other than STYLO, to be filmed on location. For more info on Gorillaz go to: http://www.gorillaz.com For now, simply check out this brilliant piece of animation:
Canadian singer Feist had a huge hit with her handclapping song, 1234. It was actually written by Australian singer songwriter Sally Seltmann, who records under the name New Buffalo. They met while touring together in Canada.
The Romantics livened things up somewhat with WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU. It’s from their self titled album of 1980 and was also released as a single. Jimmy Marinos, the band’s drummer is the lead vocalist and it did particularly well in Australia, where it reached #2 on the Australian Singles Chart. A real party starter.
Mott the Hoople’s song, ALL THE YOUNG DUDES, was written for them by David Bowie and can be found on the 1972 album of the same name. It’s regarded as one of glam rock’s anthems. Despite this, it’s one of the few songs on the list whose lyrics aren’t upbeat. According to Bowie, the song wasn’t intended to be ‘glamorous’ at all and carries a darker message of apocalypse. See what handclapping does for a song? Changes the mood and therefore the intent of the song completely.
Massive Attack’s Heligoland LP boasts a huge slate of guest vocalists, none more sultry than Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. “Sultry” is probably a nice way of describing the Toby Dye directed video clip of PARADISE CIRCUS. The clip is definitely for over 18s, so if you are interested I suggest you go to the Massive Attack Blog but this recommendation does come with a warning about explicit content. .
Less controversial were our next three songs starting with one of my favourites, Radiohead’s 15 STEP. We followed with The Clash and ROCK THE CASBAH and Queen with WE WILL ROCK YOU. Other than the last 30 seconds containing a guitar solo from Brian May, the song is generally set in a capella form, using only stamping and clapping as a rhythmic beat. Perfect for today’s theme.
We closed the show with one of the most inspirational songs that feature handclapping. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE celebrates what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday last Saturday.
If you would like to contribute to next week’s show, which will be on EYES AND SIGHT, I’d love to have your input. Just leave me a message in the comments area of this blog.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Clapping Song – The Best Of Shirley Ellis, Shirley Ellis
Hey Ya! – The Love Below, Outkast
Rubberneckin’ – Treasures 64 To 69 [Disc 1], Elvis Presley
Summertime Blues – Music From The Movies, Eddie Cochran
Hand Clapping Song – Struttin, The Meters
Too Many Fish In The Sea – The Big Chill, The Marvelettes
Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody – Shakin’ The Rafters, The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir
Frug – Rilo Kiley, Rilo Kiley
Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat – Their Greatest Hits, Herman’s Hermits
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Tarantino Experience Take II, Leroy Gomez and Santa Esmeralda
Car Wash – Greatest Hits, Rose Royce
Rebel Rouser – Forest Gump Soundtrack, Duane Eddy
Stuck In The Middle With You – Reservoir Dogs, Stealers Wheel
Let’s Go – The Cars Greatest Hits, The Cars
Clap Hands – Guerolito, Beck
I Love A Rainy Night – Kick It Up, Eddie Rabbitt
Hurts So Good – American Fool, John Mellencamp
Little Red Corvette – 1999, Prince
Clap Your Hands! – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands – Clap Your Hands, Sia
Dirty Harry – Dirty Harry (Single), Gorillaz
1234 – The Reminder [Bonus Track], Feist
What I Like About You – Top Hits Of The 80’s (1980 [Disc 2]), The Romantics
All The Young Dudes – Rock Classics 60’s & 70’s Volume 2, Mott The Hoople
Paradise Circus feat. Hope Sandoval – Heligoland, Massive Attack
15 Step – In Rainbows, Radiohead
Rock The Casbah – Story of the Clash, Volume 1 [Disc 1], The Clash
We Will Rock You – News Of The World, Queen
Give Peace A Chance – Lennon [Disc 1], John Lennon
Whenever I think of Spring, with its warmer days and all the pleasures the better weather inspires, I can’t help but want to put on some reggae. So IN THE SPRINGTIME from Maxi Priest was a perfect opener for this week’s show on possibly the best season of the year.
I must admit, too, that my mind also turns to Spring Cleaning. After all the rain we had during winter, I just want to air everything, get those windows clean and get ready for the beautiful weather ahead of us. Fats Waller’s energetic ditty, SPRING CLEANING, reflects that mood. Ella Fitzgerald has a different outlook on Spring. Without her man, she’s GOT THE SPRING FEVER BLUES.
Another wonderful jazz singer is Blossom Dearie and C’EST LE PRINTEMPS (IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING) was a great addition to the playlist. Sung in French, Blossom was actually American. She moved to France in 1952 and it’s where she met her future husband, the Belgian musician Bobby Jaspar. Blossom had an amazing career, performing right through until her 80’s. She passed away in 2009.
I dedicated that track to Ben from local band The Blackbirds, because I know he loves Blossom as much as I do. The Blackbirds need your support right now to fund their first independent album release and Australian tour. So if you would like to donate even the smallest amount, to this wonderful local group, go to fundbreak.com.au and search for ‘Blackbirds’.
You know, there are so many songs that link Springtime with Paris, that it’s almost a cliche. A version of I LOVE PARIS that surprised me was from the incorrigible Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. I also adore Little Willie John. He was actually the first one to record Fever, in 1956. It was made famous when Peggy Lee had a hit with it in 1958. His contribution to our Springtime show was I’VE GOT SPRING FEVER.
With all this jazz I thought I’d better slip in some 70’s rock/pop and who better than Electronic Light Orchestra? The track MR BLUE SKY is from their 1977 album Out of the Blue, written and produced by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne.
So many songs about Paris in springtime, so it was good to play an authentic French track. Jacques Brel’s AU PRINTEMPS was ideal. We followed with a nice jazz instrumental, I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME from Jacky Terrasson. And to round things out, some Latin freestyle with Stevie B, SPRING LOVE. Does this one take you back to the 80’s?
New Zealand band Dragon’s APRIL SUN IN CUBA was written, like many of Dragon’s hits, by keyboard player Paul Hewson who unfortunately died from a drug overdose in 1985. Lead singer Marc Hunter also passed away in 1998 from smoking related oesophageal cancer. The band continues to perform and are currently led by Marc’s brother Todd Hunter. Here’s a clip of the original line-up.
A great Aussie band from the 70’s were the Go-Betweens. The version of SPRING RAIN we played was recorded live at the Tivoli in Brisbane. The focal point of the Go-Betweens was the song writing skills of Robert Foster and Grant McLennan. Described by Village Voice critic, Robert Christgau, as “the greatest songwriting partnership working today.” Grant McLennan died of a heart attack in 2000.
I must admit that I do like a bit of ukelele so Claire’s suggestion of Leah Flanagan’s SEPTEMBER SONG sat well with me. There’s something about the uke, isn’t there? You can’t help but think of sunny times.
Which bring me to HERE COMES THE SUN from The Beatles:
A great little double that plays on the notion that Springtime is the ideal season for mating followed: The Marvelettes with WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG AND IN LOVE and the Dixie Cups with CHAPEL OF LOVE. Here’s a clip of the Dixie Cups. Loving the frocks girls.
Here’s a unforgettable piece of comedy for you. It’s from the soundtrack to the film The Producers. Remember SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER?
How good is Dinah Washington? SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN was just one of a couple of songs that I was happy to include in our Springtime show. A track that’s usually associated with Christmas is IT MAY BE WINTER OUTSIDE BUT IN MY HEART IT’S SPRING by the Love Unlimited Orchestra. The show aired on the last day of Winter here in the southern hemisphere, so it was a perfect fit. We followed with Teena Marie’s YOU MAKE LOVE LIKE SPRINGTIME, whatever that means.
Next it was a song for all of you who supported BayFM during our Major Subscriber Drive. IF NOT FOR YOU from Bob Dylan.
Jolie Holland reckons that SPRINGTIME CAN KILL YOU. Hope not. A really beautiful tune is ANDORINHA DA PRIMAVERA from Portugese band Madredeus. They became world renowned after performing on the soundtrack of the Wim Wender’s film ‘Lisbon Story’.
The Flaming Lips reckon that YOU CAN’T STOP THE SPRING. This song is full of imagery, some of which I can’t pretend to understand, like “There she was just walking down the street, Smoking with her hands and walking with her feet, Keeping her paint cans underneath the seat, Keeping her hair dryer on her favorite piece of meat.” Hmmm.
The Magnetic Fields certainly know how to play with imagery too. Case in point: LOVE GOES HOME TO PARIS IN THE SPRING. Does it matter that they’re probably singing about Paris Tennesee, not Paris France? Not really.
The Velvets just tell it like it is on the doo-wop tune SPRING FEVER. And then it was time to close the show which we did with the very appropriate EVR’Y TIME WE SAY GOODBYE from Dinah Washington and YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME from Chet Baker and Art Pepper.
A big thank you again to all of you who subscribed to BayFM and mentioned Theme Park. Congrats to all our winners especially Carolyn Adams who gets to donate the Camp Quality holiday to a family in need, in her name.
Next week’s show reflects how I’m feeling right now: SONGS ABOUT BEING TIRED will be the theme. I tell you, we worked really hard during the Major Subscriber Drive! So get your thinking caps on and see what you’ve got for me. Here’s some inspiration: TIRED OF SEX by Weezer or WORKING IN THE COALMINE from Lee Dorsey. You get the idea.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
In The Springtime – Best Of Me, Maxi Priest
Spring Cleaning – Fats Waller Essential 15, Fats Waller
I Got The Spring Fever Blues – Ella Fitzgerald – All My Life, Ella Fitzgerald
C’est Le Printemps – From State Fair/Jazz Goes Hollywood, Blossom Dearie
I Love Paris – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
I’ve Got Spring Fever – Essential Masters, Little Willie John
Mr. Blue Sky – Out of the Blue, Electronic Light Orchestra
Au printemps – Jacques Brel, Jacques Brel
I love Paris in the Springtime – Jacky Terrasson
Spring Love – Stevie B.
Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom – Perez Prado & His Orchestra
April Sun in Cuba – 30 Years of Classic Hits of the 60’s, Dragon
Spring Rain – Live at the Tivoli, Brisbane 06/08, The Go-Betweens
September Song – Nirvana Nights, Leah Flanagan
Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
When You’re Young And In Love – Tamla Motown Gold (Dics 2), The Marvelettes
Chapel Of Love -Replay/Gold – Vol 1 No 5, The Dixie Cups
Springtime for Hitler – The Producers
September In The Rain – The Queen Of The Blues, CD4, Dinah Washington
It May Be Winter Outside – Now Thats What I Call Xmas, The Love Unlimited Orchestra
You Make Love Like Springtime – Irons In The Fire, Teena Marie
If Not For You – Essential Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan
In the Spring – Steppin’ Out, Braxton Brothers
Springtime Can Kill You – Springtime Can Kill, You Jolie Holland
A Andorinha da Primavera – O Paraiso, Madredeus
Love Goes Home to Paris In the S… 2:26 Magnetic Fields
Can’t Stop The Spring – Oh My Gawd!!, The Flaming Lips
Spring Fever – Doo Wop Classics, The Velvets
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – The Queen Of The Blues, CD4, Dinah Washington
Younger Than Springtime – The Route, Art Pepper/Chet Baker
Next week: TIREDNESS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn
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Our theme this week was Communication – not the deep psychic stuff, but good old fashioned talking, letter writing and, would you believe telegrams (remember them?). I was going to play M.I.A.’s ‘U.R.A.Q.T.’ about texting (“you’re fuckin’ with my man and textin’ all the time…”) but I would have been in a bit of trouble over the expletives, I’m afraid. But I did play some other excellent hip-hop during the show, as well as my usual eclectic mix of rock, pop, blues, jazz and whatever I could find to fit the theme.
We opened the show with the Marvelettes ‘Beachwood 4-5789’. They also recorded the first Motown hit, ‘Please Mr. Postman’, but I had already showcased that one during the Motown Show in January. Besides, ‘Beachwood’ was a great opener for this particular show.
The telephone, whether it be landline or mobile, talking or texting, is still probably the most prominent way we keep in touch. So ‘Hanging Up the Telephone’, sung by Blondie’s Debby Harry was not only pop-punk perfection, but it also opens with the sound of a ringing phone. How good is that? Here’s the video from 1978.
Most letter songs feature absent lovers and none convey the absolute thrill of receiving a long awaited message better than ‘The Letter’ from the Boxtops. They were known as a major ‘blue-eyed soul’ group during the 60’s. Hard to believe that Alex Chilton, who later formed Big Star and went onto a solo career, was only 16 at the time this was recorded in 1967. The song has been widely covered, most notably by Joe Cocker, but this original version still stands up well.
Sonny Boy Williamson confimed what I have always knows, (that men are the worst gossips), with his rendition of ‘Don’t Get Me Talking’ while Buddy Guy and Junior Wells contributed ‘A Man of Many Words’ to the Blues segment of the show.
My Roy Orbison song this week was a great one: ‘Communication Breakdown’. Written by Bill Dees, whose collaboration with Orbison led to a string of successful hits for Monument Records including ‘Communication Breakdown’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘It’s Over’, just to name a few.
And then it was onto an absolutely divine song by Nina Persson of the Cardigans, ‘Communication’ – “If this is communication , I disconnect”. If only it was that easy. Here’s a video of them doing a live performance in 2007.
‘Hello Operator’ presented mobile phone refusenik Jack White choosing to use an operator, just like in the good old days. And, as if this was even too newfangled, by the second verse he’s trying to get his message out via canary. Ah ha, rightio then.
Remember when a wedding wasn’t a wedding without the best man reading out several telegrams from absentee friends and family? I haven’t been to a wedding in ages. Tell me, do they read out emails and texts? Just doesn’t seem the same does it? In ‘Western Union Man’ Jerry Butler gives us a passionate attempt at contacting a girlfriend who won’t answer his phone calls. And Chuck Berry tries to get in touch with people who have phoned him in ‘Memphis Tennessee’. Today we would be asking why the hell aren’t they on Facebook! And then there’s Twitter, but please can we not go there? (really).
Joe Jones seemed to be talking right at me with ‘You Talk Too Much’ and I loved Crowded House’s version of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’. But how good was Hank Penny’s ‘Sweet Talkin Mama’ recorded in 1938? You can find this terrific bit of country swing on the compilation album You Done Me Wrong (Vintage Country Cheating Songs 1929-1952) distributed by Buzzola.
There are lots of songs written in the form of letters. One of the best examples of this is Eminem’s ‘Stan’, a masterpiece of escalating desperation that exploits its conceit to its fullest. Sampling Dido’s ‘Thank You’ as the chorus is a piece of genius and the result is a song of chilling elegance that recognises that a letter is always a one-sided conversation.
We followed that with a total contrast – ‘Don’t Explain’ by Billie Holliday and then it was up to Muddy Waters to elevate the mood with ‘Long Distance Call’. There were so many other great songs. I particularly liked Bonnie Raitt’s take on people who talk behind your back. Her advice? Give them ‘Something to Talk About’. Absolutely.
We finished the show with one of my favourite Aretha Franklin numbers: ‘Say A Little Prayer’. This one had me up out of the seat and dancing. And then a fantastic close from Mr. Cool Jazz himself, Chet Baker, with ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. I loved this week’s show and I had a blast. Hope you did too.
Here’s the complete playlist:
Beachwood 4-5789 – The Marvellettes
Hanging On The Telephone – Blondie
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – Steely Dan
The Letter – The Boxtops
Take A Letter Maria – R.B. Greaves
Please Read The Letter – Alison Krauss/Robert Plant
Don’t Start Me To Talkin’ – Sonny Boy Williamson
A Man Of Many Words – Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley
Communication Breakdown – Roy Orbison
Communication – The Cardigans
Telephone Line – Electric Light Orchestra
Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry
Hey, Western Union Man – Jerry Butler
Hello Operator – The White Stripes
You Talk Too Much – Joe Jones
Everybody’s Talkin’ – Crowded House
Sweet Talkin’ Mama – Hank Penny
Stan – Eminem & Dido
Don’t Explain – Billie Holiday
Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters
The Phone Call – The Pretenders
Ring Ring Ring – De La Soul
The Word – The Beatles
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Paul Weller & Amy Winehouse
What’d I Say – Ray Charles
People Are Talking – Shep & The Limelites
Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
Answering Bell – Ryan Adams
I Say A Little Prayer For You – Aretha Frankin
Every Time We Say Goodbye – Chet Baker
Next week, the theme is Money. Any suggestions for songs for the show, or themes for future shows, are always welcome.
Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time, on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org