Thursday 8 October 2009

you know the preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm gonna stay.....

Right, well as I think I'm likely to be at the Nottingham Beer Festival tomorrow, I think I'd better get this week's earworms done today, eh?

Earworms of the Week

> "Walking in Memphis" - Cher

There I was, innocently minding my own business in the office, when I was suddenly landed with this. How does a conversation about the ten bestselling soundtrack albums of all time suddenly end up with me having to put up with bloody Cher, eh? Yeah, I suppose it's mildly amusing that someone might think that this song was written by Leonard Cohen (Marc Cohn / Leonard Cohen... easy mistake to make right?). It's not half so funny when you have this ringing around your head, let me tell you......

> "Marlon JD" - Manic Street Preachers

I was listening again to "Journal for Plague Lovers" the other day, and it really is a very good album. In the writing of this album, the band had finally returned to some lyrical fragments left behind by Richie shortly before his disappearance. The result, perhaps not surprisingly, is the best thing that they've done since.... well, pretty much since Richie vanished. Then again, "The Holy Bible" has always been my favourite Manics album, so perhaps I would say that. The lyrics are incredibly dense, seemingly packing in an impossible number of references into each line: I'd be surprised if anyone other than their author would be able to explain them. It was a brave decision by a band who have spent more than a decade trying to look forwards and not backwards, and I think the results entirely vindicate them.... not that they had anything to prove to anyone. I've no idea what this song is about, but it's brilliant.

> "Voodoo Chile" - Jimi Hendrix

Someone linked to this on Twitter the other day, and I'm not sure if I'm missing something, or if they really have made a Bob Marley t-shirt with Jimi Hendrix on it. Whatever, it was enough to plant this into my head anyway. Well, that and hearing it on the radio, anyway. It's not my favourite of his songs, but it's pretty unmistakeable. Is there anyone else who has quite such a recognisable guitar-playing style? All loose-limbed and effortless. His not the best singer in the world, for sure, but you can't have everything, can you? (and I'm afraid to say, that whenever I think of Hendrix, I end up coming back to that immortal line from Spinal Tap: you can't dust for vomit.....)

> "Hey Man (Now You're Really Livin')" - Eels

I love this band. It's not that E writes spectacular anthems or anything, but he does have this amazing knack of conveying emotion. He's had an apparently tragic life, but -- as here -- he has the lightness of touch to talk about some pretty heavy emotions with an almost incongruously upbeat tune.

"Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor
And cry your guts out 'til you got no more
Hey man now you're really living"

He's unique, I think. Great tune.

> "Vicinity of Obscenity" - System of a Down

Well, you couldn't get much more of a contrast from Eels than System of a Down, could you? Absolutely bonkers band. If I have no idea what Richie was talking about in that Manics tune, then what the hell are you to make of this?

"Banana Banana Banana Terracotta Banana Terracotta Terracotta Pie!
Banana Banana Banana Terracotta Banana Terracotta Terracotta Pie!

I'm usually a lyrics man, and that looks suspiciously like nonsense to me....but the sheer weight of the music and the full on screaming commitment of Serj Tankian just about make it all work somehow.

Terracotta Pie Hey!
Terracotta Pie Hey!

> "Empire State of Mind" - Jay-Z

I'm not an especially big fan of Jay-Z, I have to say... but this song stood out at his Wembley gig the other week, and the more I hear it, the more I like it. There you go. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to know my view, so if you see him, please feel free to tell him.

> "PDA" - Interpol

Paul Banks still sounds like an undertaker reading a legal document, but I love Interpol and I was long overdue digging out their debut album and giving it a spin. Still sounds good to me.

> "Love it When You Call" - The Feeling

This was playing when I was in a bar last weekend, and it's just a sublime pop song, isn't it? My favourite bits are the band harmonies on the chorus echoing the main lyrics:

"I love it when you call
(he loves it when you call)


Brilliant song.

> "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" - Morrissey

Morrissey is such a maddening artist: having come back with a bang from his years in the wilderness with "You Are the Quarry", he then quickly followed it up with an album - "Ringleader of the Tormentors" - that just never really did it for me. It was all sound and fury and lacking in substance, even if Morrissey's voice itself sounded as good as it has done in years. Having not really been that thrilled with it initially, his next album, "Years of Refusal" has grown on me. It's not my favourite Morrissey album by any stretch of the imagination, but neither is it "Maladjusted". This is the most immediate song on the album, and when it popped up on the CD player in the car, I found myself repeating it several times. It's short and sweet and certainly doesn't outstay its welcome. Good song. Would probably be enhanced by the presence of Johnny Marr, though..... but what wouldn't be??

> "California Dreaming" - Lee Moses

Given that the Mamas and Papas version of this song was deemed to be number 89 in the Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, then you'd imagine that it would be pretty difficult to top. Well, perhaps Lee Moses doesn't quite manage that, but he does get pretty damn close. The style is completely different - well, what would be the point of trying to top Mama Cass and co. on vocal harmonies? - but that injection of soul works incredibly well, shifting the tone of the song completely and really making the song his own by not competing on the same pitch at all. I can only take my hat off to Red, who brought this song to my attention in the comments to Queenie's autumn playlist on Postculturist. It's superb. I can't stop listening to it......

And tomorrow night.... beer. There will be more than 600 casks of real ale, apparently. Well, I'll do my best.

Enjoy your weekends people.


  1. There was a Bobby Womack version of California Dreamin' used a lot in the film Fish Tank as well, which was also quite a nice version.

    It's the sign of a brilliant song - one that can be covered in a completely different style and still sound amazing.

    Whisper it quietly, but I quite like the Jay-Z song also. Saying that, as Hen was saying the other day, she has never really been that inspired by a city to write a musical eulogy to it. Although Moree: The City That Made Me might be quite a catchy little number....

  2. I'm like a drug pusher with that Lee Moses track, sidling up to people and going "you've got to listen to this". It transformed the meaning of California Dreaming for me.

    I'm glad you liked it too!

  3. That System of a Down track is disturbingly catchy.

    Every time I hear it I picture one of my buddies dancing (he's about 5'8" 280lbs).