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:
Music has demanded that we try on sunglasses at night, start wearing purple, elevate fashion models to goddess status and, most important of all, respect the power of orange knickers. And we follow in droves, don’t we? Because most of us are ‘dedicated followers of fashion’.
We opened the show with the very fashion-forward David Bowie and the track FASHION from the 1980 album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and followed with the equally style-conscious Prince with RASPBERRY BERET.
Then it was something a little obscure. I’m sure there is a point to preacher’s daughter Tori Amos’ song, THE POWER OF ORANGE KNICKERS, with it’s references to terrorist attacks, bitchy girls and little pills, but I’m afraid it escapes me. Never mind, great song nevertheless. Here she is performing live:
Amy Winehouse calls the kettle black with her critique of footballer’s wives and their F….. ME PUMPS. Gotta love a good stiletto! Here’s the official video, showing a healthy, happy Amy at her best:
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins rendition of RABBIT FUR COAT, a song that spells out a mother’s devotion to her wardrobe, is an extraordinary, dark tale of how one woman hangs on to her fur when everything else in her life is lost.
The Pipettes turn the tables on certain rock stars by pointing out how nice those little schoolboys look in their matching blazers in I LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. And as the Happy Mondays explain, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it – it’s got to be a LOOSE FIT. Check them out:
Bob Dylan got to wondering how your head feels under that LEOPARD SKIN PILL-BOX HAT. Thanks to listener Phil for reminding me about that one. And while I am it, thanks to Zoe, Kira and Lynden, as well, for all your suggestions this week. Keep them coming.
Disco had its own fashion statement going on and a great example of this crazy superficial genre is Amanda Lear’s 1983 recording FASHION PACK. A Vietnamese transsexual, Amanda was born male, had a sex change, became a model and for some time was Salvador Dali’s muse. Now that’s what I call an interesting life! Here’s the video clip, in all it’s camp glory, for you to enjoy:
I love the satire in Jill Sobule’s ode to the ultimate clothes-horse, the SUPERMODEL. The song was perfectly placed in the soundtrack of one of my favourite comedies, Clueless. Also pretty funny is Minor Threat’s GOOD GUYS DON’T WEAR WHITE.
When it comes to fashion victims, there’s one stand-out anthem: It’s the Kinks with DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION. Two other classics in the playlist – The Hollies with LONG COOL WOMAN IN A BLACK DRESS and Wilson Pickett’s DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON.
Lady GaGa summed up our topic of FASHION with her song of the same name. Of all the contemporary pop singers she stands out for her obsession with her image. She claims that: “When I’m writing music, I’m thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It’s all about everything altogether — performance art, pop performance art, fashion. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us.” Okaaaay. Check out this news item and you’ll get an idea of her fasion sense. Or nonsense. Whatever.
Then it was time for a blast from the past: Timmy Mallett’s ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI, which we partnered with PINK SHOE LACES from Connie Stevens.
Fats Waller does a good job of sprucing himself up when LULU’S BACK IN TOWN. And Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gave us the low-down on the ZOOT SUIT RIOT. The Zoot Suit, in case you didn’t know, is a suit with high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and a long coat with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. This style of clothing was popularized in the U.S. by African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans during the late 1930s and 1940s. In England brightly coloured zoot suits with velvet lapels, that bore a slight resemblance to Edwardian clothing, were worn by Teddy Boys.
Next up it was a triple play dedicated to the gals that fire the frenzy for all things fashionable. Yep, three songs about models: CATWALKIN’ from Tony Tisdale, GIRLS ON FILM by Duran Duran and a cover of Kraftwerk’s MODEL by Zoot Woman.
Gwen Stefani’s ode to the HARAJUKU GIRLS of Tokyo has a special meaning as her back-up dancers are exactly that. The Harajuku District is one of the fashion capitals of the world, renowned for it’s unique and influential street fashion and it’s obviously had a lot of influence on Stafani’s own fashion label. I usually wouldn’t upload a video of a slide show but this one features Stefani’s song behind lots of pics of Harajuku fashion, so worth a look:
We all know that fashion is frivolous and silly but isn’t that what makes it so appealing, surely? In order to keep things in perspective we closed the show with a bit of satire: A tune that sums up the objectifying gaze of fashion like nothing else. Yup, it’s I’M TOO SEXY FOR MY SHIRT by Right Said Fred. Go boys:
I bet you thought I wouldn’t play that one. Nah, I have no pride or any fashion sense for that matter. But style? Well, that’s another matter.
To finish off this topic here’s something for you that I didn’t have time to mention on the show: favourite films about fashion. From my all time favourite film on the subject, a compilation of some of the best quotes from, ZOOLANDER.
If you would like to contribute your ideas for next week’s show, the topic will be: SONGS TO MAKE SANDWICHES BY. Yes I’m looking for songs about sandwiches, (has she gone completely bonkers? You may well ask!). You can include hot dogs or hamburgers. In fact, anything between bread qualifies. Or any ingredient that can go into a sandwich, like chicken or peanut butter, or honey. Come on guys, you can do it!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist: