31 July 2020

31 July 2020 - First Aid Kit - Emmylou

The "Emmylou" in this song is famed county artist Emmylou Harris, who was a tremendous influence on First Aid Kit.  After you listen to the song, you are going to see how obvious that statement is.

So, I know what you are thinking - does Emmylou Harris know about this song?

She does.  She's a fan.

30 July 2020

30 July 2020 - The Jesus And Mary Chain ft. Hope Sandoval - Sometimes Always

This 1994 collaboration between Hope Sandoval, best known as the vocalist for Mazzy Star outside this song, and The Jesus and Mary Chain ended up being their biggest US hit - and only song to hit the Billboard Hot 100 - and HER 2nd biggest one - after "Fade Into You".

The song is a little less... dark than other Jesus and Mary Chain fare, which is probably how it was so darned accessible to so many.  

28 July 2020

28 July 2020 - Tori Amos - Crucify

I cannot believe that we are almost a decade and more than 800 posts into this blog before we get to Tori Amos.   It's a surprise, because she was an early figure in the 1990's surge of women who were singer-songwriters and finally getting major label contracts.

This song - a minor hit in 1992 that sparked an EP with some pretty epic B-sides - is my favorite of hers.  From her debut album - we aren't counting Y Kant Tori Read here - the song is powerful and full-on from the first note.  A very piano-driven song, it was wholly written by Amos herself. 

That EP did not contain the Little Earthquake album version of the song, though.   It contained this very mild remix of the song, which includes some additional lyrics that I think add to the power of the song.

In stark contrast, this is a live version of the song from the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1991, before the song was released - and it's not at all remixed - and is STILL powerful.  True talent - a woman and her piano - is on full display.

By the way, Tori Amos still performs.  Here she is from 2014 performing a similarly pure version of the song.... and it is still as brilliant as the first time.

17 July 2020

17 July 2020 - The Bangles - In Your Room

It always comes back to The Bangles for me.

From the first song of theirs I heard (their cover of "Going Down To Liverpool") and throughout their career, I have always thought they were four excellent musicians who just happened to be female performing great music.

This was the first single off their third album Everything and it was the band's fourth top 5 hit.  Written by Susanna Hoffs, the primary vocalist for The Bangles, it is one of my personal favorites by the band.

For our live selection today, I wanted to choose a really recent performance, for two reasons.  First of all, the band hasn't lost a beat.  At all. 

The second is that bassist.  The classic Bangles lineup included Michael Steele on bass, but she was NOT the original bassist.  The original bassist was a woman named Annette Zilinskas, who left the band in 1983, just before their breakthrough All Over The Place album was released. 

35 years later, in 2018, Annette Zilinskas returned to the band.  And I just think that's awesome.

16 July 2020

16 July 2020 - The Call - Let The Day Begin

Sometimes, I post great songs and tell you a lot about them.   There's a lot to say about this song.  You can read all about it on Totally Covered today.  Here, just listen to Michael Been sing this very inspiring song.

15 July 2020

15 July 2020 - Baltimora - Tarzan Boy

When I was younger and this song was new, this was one of my favorites.  Released in early 1985, it took nearly a year to chart in the United States.... and it was Baltimora's only real hit here.

Interestingly, the man you see in the video is an Irish native named Jimmy McShane - who was kind of a member of Baltimora, as a front man.  However, he did not sing the song - Maurizio Bassi, the architect of this Italy-based project, was the vocalist, and he co-wrote the song along with Long Island, NY native Naimy Hackett. 

To be fair, McShane could sing - he did perform backing vocals on several other tracks - but not this one.

When it became clear that Baltimora was not going to recreate the success of "Tarzan Boy", Bassi disbanded the group.

I usually like to include live performances of the song, but, well, when you're using an actor to represent your band.... there aren't any.  Instead, here is the late Jimmy McShane (he passed away in 1995) dancing on American television.

08 July 2020

8 July 2020 - Transvision Vamp - Kiss Their Sons

By this time, I think y'all know that I think Transvision Vamp was one of the most underrated bands of the late 80's and early 90's.  And, if you are reading this from the UK, you probably think I'm bonkers.  They were relatively consistent hitmakers there.

This song was not a hit.  Or even a single.

I personally have a favorite album by them - Velveteen.  I consistently list it among my five favorites of all time, and usually around #3.  I purchased that album the day it was released, and it is fantastic, end to end.  I remember every song on that album had its lyrics printed in the liner notes, except one.

"Kiss Their Sons" was that song.  And this song was a lot darker and angrier than anything else on the album - because it was angry and the band was angry - at journalists who were calling these punks with credibility and careers "sell-outs", with very specific anecdotes and a lot of very colourful language.  The song opened Side 2 of the album, for those old enough to remember those - and it opened it with a guitar screech and a hell of a bassline.  The lyric "If you went away and never came back, that wouldn't be too soon" is possibly one of my favorite opening lines of any song, ever.

It is my favorite song on my favorite album of theirs, and it is a go-to for me all these years later.

I include the only live performance of this song I could find - as part of a whole live show.  The anger really shines through live - and unless I'm mistaken, Wendy James is naming names!

07 July 2020

7 July 2020 - Dweezil Zappa ft. Moon Unit Zappa - Let's Talk About it

Dweezil and Moon Unit were the elder children of Frank Zappa, and frequent MTV VJs.  They did a couple of singles together - this Dweezil-penned antiwar song being their best known collaboration, from 1986, when it received a lot of MTV airplay.  Look for the Frank Zappa cameo at around the 2:03 mark of the video, by the way - as well as a LOT of other celebrity cameos (I count no less than 6). 

I was a teenage boy.  I was watching for Moon Unit. 

By the way, Dweezil was 17 in this video, and reportedly wrote this song when he was 15. The WHOLE song - lyrics and music. 

Moon Unit, of course, is better known for her appearance on their father's single "Valley Girl", but this is an objectively better song. 

01 July 2020

1 July 2020 - Robin Sparkles - Let's Go To The Mall

Yes, this is really Cobie Smulders singing this.  I figured, let's just put that right out there.

If you are a fan of the TV Show How I Met Your Mother, you know this song well.  It's possibly more iconic than the show itself - and it endures to this day, several years after the show left the air.

I mean, everybody loves going to the mall.  Let this song rock your body until Canada Day (which happens to be today).

Oh, if you had doubts about my claim that it actually was Cobie Smulders.... as part of all this COVID-19 fun we're all having, she recorded an updated and quarantine-appropriate version..... 

These's one more thing.

Go to www.twitter.com/redargyle and start reading down.  First word of each tweet is all you need.