December 31, 2007

Snob trap / Fireworks

One of my dad's favourite tapes in our family car used to be a rather uninspiredly titled Golden Oldies cassette. The child that was me in 1988 actually liked quite a lot of the music on that particular tape. But some of the songs were really too old-fashioned, too boring. Like track one of side B: Deep purple by Nino Tempo & April Stevens. No skipping ahead in those days, so I had to listen to it quite a lot. It never grew on me.

Fast forward ten years or so to 1998, when Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap, The Softies, Go Sailor) released her beautiful solo debut album Portola. Track one was a pretty cover version of the very same Deep purple. How I love that song!


The lyrics are unchanged, even the spoken word part is copied exactly word for word. Both versions last 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The only notable difference in the intrumentation is that the original's got some quietly subtle harmonica, drums and piano added, but the overall atmosphere is the same.

Do I really love Rose Melberg's voice so much that it changes a song that ruined an otherwise very enjoyable music cassette into a song of beauty that I can enjoy time and again? Well, apparently. But, no.

It's New Year's Eve. Tomorrow will be 2008. It's only 8:20 PM but outside the fireworks are banging loudly and frequently already. When I peek through the curtains some beautiful colours show in the sky. It's pretty but it breaks my heart, too. I miss my girlfriend.

"When the deep purple falls
Over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to twinkle
In the night
In the mist of a memory
You wander on back to me
Breathing my name
With a sigh..."

Rose Melberg's cover version might be almost identical to Nino and April's, but my mind hears a different, new song. It's a completely different memory. It belongs to a different me, a me to whom those words mean just a bit more than only lalala. A song is never just a song.

Two remarks to end this post:
1. Hadn't Rose Melberg made so many other pretty (mostly original) songs, like the beautiful Cast Away The Clouds, would I have still loved this cover so much? Who can tell?
2. Before writing this post I listened to the original version a couple of times, for the first time in ages. It's really not bad! So I added it to the file below.

I'm writing like a sentimental grandma. I'll try to be cool in 2008.

Download (Mediafire)
1. Rose Melberg - Deep purple
2. Rose Melberg - Cast away the clouds
3. Nino Tempo & April Stevens - Deep purple

December 28, 2007

#1 in heaven

It's easy to lose touch with popmusic's reality once you've lost yourself in an indiepop world. People who are not a part of that world will - probably rightfully so - argue that you're a music snob. When even obscure bands that 99% of the people have never heard of are deemed too commercial by you, it might be time to take a deep breathe and see if you might be the silly one. But it's easy to see how it happens, and most of the time there's certainly no bad intentions behind it. In blogland it's also only a good thing to look a tiny bit further. I'm not that interested in reading about a band I hear on the radio all day.

While thinking of my favourite music to write about on this blog, naturally I came quickly to the great Dolly Mixture. Just as quickly I dismissed them as too well known, too commercial. The point of posting about music is to let at least some people discover music they hadn't heard before, remember? Dolly Mixture are huge.


Will he kiss me tonight? is a classic. A number one hit, for sure. In my dreams. I checked on LastFM and discovered that a staggering 603 people have been listening to the song on their computer.

Been teen is almost as catchy. But only 175 people have been enjoying it so far!

So there you go. Time for me to take my deep breathe.

I'll shut up and just post these (Mediafire)
1. Dolly Mixture - Will he kiss me tonight?
2. Dolly Mixture - Been teen

December 27, 2007

Music is my Christmas

"My head is like some ridiculous barn packed full of stuff I want to write about," she said. "Images, scenes, snatches of words… in my mind they're all glowing, all alive. Write! They shout at me. A great new story is about to be born - I can feel it. It'll transport me to some brand-new place. Problem is, once I sit at my desk, and put them all down on paper, I realize something vital is missing. It doesn't crystallize - no crystals, just pebbles. And I'm not transported anywhere."
--Sputnik Sweetheart, p.16

Yesterday I started reading Haruki Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart. The frustration described above by the book's character Sumire must be a familiar one to anyone who's tried to put words or feelings to paper, I think. Even with something as basically simple as writing a weblog, often a brilliant idea comes out as a very mediocre succession of words.

I tried to post about the conflicting feelings that over the last couple of years have become so familliar to me around Christmas time. Don't get me wrong: I like Christmas. But right next to all the happy coziness there's a prominent place for loneliness, bittersweet memories, missing people dead or far away, and that mysteriously nagging feeling of guilt and/or shame. It's a sort of anxiety that doesn't really stand in the way of good times, but just sort of sits there, lurking in the back of my mind.

Family, colleagues, friends and even strangers often give me the impression that to them Christmas really is that magical thing you see in movies. For a little while, they are transported to a world full of beautiful, if somewhat naive spontaneous love, friendship and peace.

Me, I do like being with my family. I like the food, the lights.

It doesn't crystallize - no crystals, just pebbles. And I'm not transported anywhere.

It was only when I got back home late last night, alone, turned on my stereo and loudly played The Magnetic Fields' 100,000 Fireflies that I could experience beauty without reservations and feel completely comforted. For about 3 minutes and 20 seconds, finally also to me, everything suddenly seemed possible.

For that one person in a thousand that doesn't have it yet

December 24, 2007

Which dress fits best?

Henry's DressWhat, no Christmas post?! Nope, I'm sorry. I'm spending Christmas Eve alone, and I'm not at all in a festive mood. Yet.

So let's talk about music.

Everyone with a bit of passion for music must have frowned frequently at the cringeworthy names with which record shops or magazines try to label your favourite artists. I do understand that there's a certain need and/or function, but what does it really tell you? Freak Folk? Artcore? Bastard Pop? Hi-NRG? Well, I'm sure. Worst of all of course is the classic World Music. Completely empty, or completely overcrowded, depending on how you look at it.

Right now I'm listening to Henry's Dress for the first time in a long time. Shoegazesurf? Phil Spector Gaze? Garagegirl Adrenaline? Noise & Roll? My Bloody Ramones? Pick your favourite. Each one does as bad a job at describing what they really sound like as the next. Listening is the only way.

Let me suffice by just telling you that Henry's Dress's 1996 Bust 'Em Green album is packed with catchy but noisy hooks, and that after the band ceased to exist, Amy Linton joined The Aislers Set. Oh, and of course I should mention that they're great...

...Noise Pop.

Download (Mediafire)
1. Henry's Dress - Get yourself together
2. Henry's Dress - Winter '94
3. Henry's Dress - Target practice

December 22, 2007

Girls At Our Best!

I'm in love with my ridiculously unpredictable and variable music taste.

At the end of every year, there's best of-lists all over the magazines, weblogs and radio stations. Although I always find them intriguing, amusing and often annoying at the same time, I never participate. How on earth is it possible to have one best of anything?

Yesterday I had one of my recurring doo-wop-loving evenings. Had you asked me yesterday for my favourite band of all time, it probably would have been The Silhouettes, and of course especially their Get a job. Today it won't make the top 100. This Saturday doo-wop is completely out of fashion, and it's full force back to indiepop.

The best band of all time ever today might be Girls At Our Best! 1981's Pleasure is such an infectiously happy, fresh and exciting album. Too bad it's their only one. This, and three fantastic singles, of which Getting nowhere fast (later nicely covered by The Wedding Present) is probably their best and best known... that's all.

I'm looking forward to finding out what my best band or song of all time ever will be tomorrow!

Here's some of the music mentioned above (Mediafire)
1. The Silhouettes - Get a job
2. Girls At Our Best! - Getting nowhere fast
3. Girls At Our Best! - Too big for your boots
4. Girls At Our Best! - Pleasure

December 20, 2007

The warm up

Coming back home from the cold outside earlier today, I warmed myself on a cup of coffee and some music. Quite randomly picked, the music happened to be The Shop Assistents' 1986 album with the same name, the one that's also known as Will anything happen.

Slowly getting my hands back to an acceptable temperature from holding the coffeecup, the music played on. I was having one of those "This is really nice!" moments. You know? You're not really thinking that, but if you would stop and analyze, it'd be clear that you're really enjoying the situation. And mostly, the music.

After about ten minutes or so I started thinking... "Why not share this feeling?". The album by then had progressed to the fifth song, All that ever mattered.

Pretty song, and as good a name for a blog as any. It'll be about just me, music, concerts, books, movies, art, stuff. Whatever makes me feel good. Or bad, perhaps. To make this post a bit more than just a boring introduction, I included a link to the song that inspired it.

The Shop Assistants - All that ever mattered (Rapidshare)