There’s something about seeing an act in concert that, (if they’re good that is), makes you a fan forever. One of the first concerts I ever attended was by The Beatles. I know, I know, I’m showing my age! I had to get my Mum’s permission to go and, to be honest, we couldn’t hear a thing for all the screaming, much of which came from my best friend Helen. But we thought we were the ants pants and I’ve never forgotten that day.
So, it was fitting that SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND opened our show on CONCERTS. Check out this clip from the movie ‘The Beatles Yellow Submarine’ and you’ll have to agree it was a perfect kick off to this week’s program:
Every concert is unique of course, but LCD Soundsystem reckon that DAFT PUNK IS PLAYING AT MY HOUSE. Oh, if only it were true!
Now, that would be a hard gig to follow. For something completely different, look no further than Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band with THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE BY THE ‘BACHELORS’, a great piece of satire about performing on the English club circuit.
STAGE FRIGHT by The Band is a song that just may resonate with some of you. It tells the story of a performer who sings just like a bird but is terrified every time he has to get up in front of an audience. Here’s a clip from the film The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese in 1978. Rick Danko R.I.P.
Not shy at all are Dire Straits. SULTANS OF SWING is about a band blowing Dixie in double four time. A perfect concert song, if ever there was one. And here they are performing it live. Excellent. It’s the seminal concert at which they recorded the album ‘Alchemy: Dire Straits Live’. The album cover, btw, was taken from a painting by Australian artist Brett Whitely.
Wild Cherry’s PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical. The group were a rock band, but in 1975 were competing with Disco for their loyal followers attention. So they wrote a song to suit the times and it’s probably the most recognised funk song there is.
The lyrics of SMOKE ON THE WATER, by Deep Purple, tell a true story too. It was December 1971 and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were performing in concert at the Montreux Casino Theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s King Kong synthesizer solo the place suddenly caught alight. Deep Purple were staying on the other side of the lake and witnessed the fire and the smoke on the water and the rest, as they say, is history.
Arguably, the most famous outdoor concert is Woodstock. And one of the most famous songs about that concert is Joni Mitchell’s WOODSTOCK. She wrote the song after being told about it by her then boyfriend Graham Nash. She wasn’t actually there herself. I prefer Matthews Southern Comfort’s version, which is probably heresy to all you Joni fans. But take a listen. I think its got a really relaxed tone to it that suits the material well. Some cool images of the Woodstock concert in this clip too.
David Bowie’s ZIGGY STARDUST is from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars . A concert film of the same name was directed by D.A. Pennebaker in 1973. Here’s Bowie singing the song on the Jonathan Ross show in 2002. Is it just me, or does the Dude just get better and better?
Sadly all the soul legends referred to in Arthur Conley’s classic SWEET SOUL MUSIC are no longer with us. How good it would have been to see them all in concert. Arthur Conley passed away himself in 2003. Here he is, on the way to the Go-Go in 1966:
I do like to play a little country music now and again, and Johnny Cash’s song about THE NIGHT HANK WILLIAMS CAME TO TOWN fitted the playlist to a tee. As did Camera Obscura’s brilliant version of Abba’s SUPERTROUPER. But the finale of the show had to go to Jackson Browne’s ode to the hard-working roadie. THE LOAD OUT was a perfect finish to a show dedicated to concerts.
Next week’s show will be on SECRET VICES/GUILTY PLEASURES. I’ve been glued to the tele watching the Eurovision Song Contest this past weekend, so that’s my guilty pleasure at the moment. What’s yours? And have they written a song about it? Let me know!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem
The Bride Stripped Bare By ‘Bachelors’ – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Stage Fright – The Band
Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Woodstock – Matthews’ Southern Comfort
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley
The Night Hank Williams Came To Town – Johnny Cash
Super Trouper – Camera Obscura
The Load-Out – Jackson Browne
Next week: SECRET VICES
As someone who relies on trying to create a diverse playlist, week after week, the topic of MUSIC GENRES is one that’s dear to my heart. Useful as they are though, identifying genres is a murky and nebulous exercise, open to countless individual interpretations. Just go into any music store and try to establish why Ian Dury’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll can find itself in pop, rock and alternative, all at the same time, and you’ll know what I mean.
In 1979 Malcolm McLaren’s art school classmate Robin Scott had a one hit wonder with POP MUZIK, an ironic and mischievous little tune, under his pseudonym, M: “New York, London, Paris, Munich…. everybody’s talking ’bout pop music.”
According to Bob Seger, today’s music doesn’t have the same soul. He’s feeling nostalgic for some OLD TIME ROCK N ROLL. Sugarhill Gang, on the other hand, are more interested in hip-hop. Their song, RAPPERS DELIGHT, while not the first single to feature rapping, is generally considered to be the song that first made hip hop popular.
Wild Cherry’s song PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical in that Wild Cherry was mostly a hard rock outfit. In 1976, however, the Disco era was all the rage and many of the group’s loyal followers were asking for more dance songs. And so was born the request: “play that funky music, white boy”:
Back in 1970, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground celebrated ROCK & ROLL with their hit song of the same name. By 1977, Bob Marley – together with Steve Tyler & Joe Perry – were giving us three genres for the price of one on ROOTS, ROCK AND REGGAE.
Punk rocker Wreckless Eric took a swipe at the record companies, for the pressure they put on artists to produce a hit single, on POP SONG: “Just a two minute song with a snazzy middle eight.” Yeah, that’s all they wanted.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band refuse to take anything too seriously, even the blues. So if you merge music hall and blues, it begs the question: CAN BLUE MEN SING THE WHITES? Our girl Joan Jett is nothing but a rock chick so of course she’s going to sing, I LOVE ROCK N ROLL.
Brooklyn rappers Stetsasonic responded to early criticisms of their sampling by releasing TALKIN’ ALL THAT JAZZ which used a clever collage of borrowings from the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith and Donald Byrd.
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd may know a little bit about the track, SWAMP MUSIC. This style of music is particular to America’s south, particularly Louisiana and Southeastern Texas but it’s developed a worldwide following and I, for one, love it.
It’s both funny and revealing that The Killers wrote INDIE ROCK N ROLL to poke fun at the pretentious and sterile independent scene in their native Las Vegas, only to find that the song was embraced world-wide as a cheerfully un-ironic anthem. Here they are playing live and sounding great:
The Beatles take Chuck Berry’s ROCK N ROLL MUSIC and attack it with such intensity that it seems to symbolise what became known as the British Invasion of the 60’s. In total contrast is Wilco’s wistful ode to youth on HEAVY METAL DRUMMER, from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:
Stevie Wonder ‘s contribution to this week’s topic came in the form of his dedication to Duke Ellington and other jazz greats on SIR DUKE. Arthur Conley did something similar, with his shout out to all the soul icons, on SWEET SOUL MUSIC:
Time for some blues, Creole style, with BOOGIE WOOGIE ZYDECO from Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band. Then it was a great piece of music, that recognises the enormous influence of Jazz on all kinds of music: JAZZ THING from Gang Starr. It’s from the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film MO BETTER BLUES, starring Denzel Washington. Absolutely brilliant clip.
There are so many songs that pay tribute to rock n roll that I had to be careful to not let them dominate. But there’s one that I couldn’t leave out – Ian Dury and the Blockheads with the rock n roll anthem, SEX & DRUGS & ROCK N ROLL. I hate the overuse of the word ‘awesome’ but in this case, it’s warranted – AWESOME!!
A song that merges soul and reggae is the very appropriately named REGGAE GOT SOUL from Toots and the Maytals. There are also loads of songs with Blues in the title, so many in fact that I had to restrain myself in this department too. But if you’re going to play one of them, you can’t get better than Buddy Guy with THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES. In this clip he performs with bass player David Myers. It’s from the film CHICAGO BLUES, made in 1970. Now that’s what I call real music.
Bet you thought I wouldn’t give classical a mention. Well, Chuck Berry helped me out there with ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. Here he expresses the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music on his local radio station. On this video clip he’s having a little bit of fun on a French TV show. Not sure of the year, but the song was recorded in 1956:
Couldn’t let disco get away with just a passing mention, so space was made for FRENCH DISKO by Stereolab. The Ramones rescue their disco queen and introduce her to something a bit more rebellious. Now, SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER.
We closed the show with a classic from Dire Straits – a song about a jazz band called SULTANS OF SWING.
Love to have your input for next week’s show. The theme is FUNNY SONGS: Songs that make you laugh or at least smirk because they are clever and witty. Ooh I’m looking forward to seeing what you send me.
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Pop Muzik – Pop Muzik, M
Old Time Rock N’ Roll – Bob Seger
Rappers Delight – Sugarhill Gang
Play That Funky Music – Those Fabulous ’70s, Wild Cherry
Rock and Roll – Velvet Underground
Roots, Rock, Reggae – Chant Down Babylon, Bob Marley + Steven Tyler + Joe Perry
A Pop Song – Big Smash, Wreckless Eric
Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? – Cornology [Disc 1], Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett
Mambo Italiano – Latin Fever [Disc 1], Shaft
Talkin’ All That Jazz – Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 4 Disc 2, Stetsasonic
Swamp Music – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Indie RnR – Demo, The Killers
Rock And Roll Music – Live At The BBC [Disc 2], The Beatles
Heavy Metal Drummer – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) – Songs In The Key Of Life, Stevie Wonder
Sweet Soul Music – 60’s Soul, Arthur Conley
Boogie Woogie Zydeco – Boogie Woogie Zydeco, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band
Jazz Thing – Moment of Truth, Gang Starr
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – No Thanks! – The ’70s Punk Rebellion (Disc 3), Ian Dury
Soul Makossa – Makossa Man: The Very Best Of Manu Dibango, Manu Dibango
Reggae Got Soul – True Love, Toots & The Maytals
First Time I Met The Blues – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Buddy Guy
Roll Over Beethoven – 1956-Rock & Roll Era, Chuck Berry
French Disko – Refried Ectoplasm, Stereolab
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – All The Stuff (And More), The Ramones
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time