Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Song of the day: #21 The Delgados – "Mr Blue Sky (Peel session)"

Happy bank holiday! The sun is out where i live in what must be a last-ditch push by the British summer to remind everyone it actually happened at all. So here's a suitably sunny song of the day, The Delgados' epic take on ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky", recorded in session for John Peel in 2002.

Here are the reasons this version is better than the original:

1. Emma Pollock sings it, not Jeff Lynne.
2. The Delgados version doesn make use of stupid Muppet Show backing vocals everywhere. See also:
3. The Delgados' use of a real string section. ELO might well be using a real string section as well, but crucially, even if it is, they make it sound like a tacky carnival ride backing track.
4. The Delgados do not have a stupid boxing ring bell at periodic intervals.
5. i can't hear any handclaps on the ELO version.
6. Slightly unfair given technological progression etc. etc. perhaps, but The Delgados' vocoder doesn't sound like it was knocked together by Willy Wonka on his lunch hour.
7. Again, Emma Pollock sings it, not Jeff Lynne.

It appears Lily Allen and The Decemberists have also covered the song, so i guess if i ever wished to gain a newfound respect for ELO, i would need only to listen to either of those versions.

mp3: The Delgados - "Mr Blue Sky (Peel session)"

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Song of the day: #20 Rita Pavone – "My Name Is Potato"

Love this song. Love it.

The video's been posted up around the internets a few times, but usually in the context of animation fanboys on some "hey, this song is shitty, but look at the amazing video by animation pioneer Guido Manuli!" tip. Well they're wrong, all wrong. The video is of incidental interest, and mainly cuz of how adorable Rita Pavone is serenading an imaginary potato, rather than the decent but rather standard animation, in which the potato dances around a bit, tunnels into and out of the ground, fires off a pair of six-shooters, swallows a shovelful of dirt for no apparent reason, and then repeats the whole thing for a second time before zooming off in a rocket. Better are the psychedelic flying 3D letters – "Potato", of course – and Rita's completely un-self-conscious and wonderful dancing at 2:18.

Really, the charm of this 1977 novelty not-quite-hit is increased by how unlikely it is to even exist. i have no idea why someone thought it would be a good idea to write a song about being (named after) a vegetable, but the fact that they did is somehow very encouraging. Probably the best thing about it is how much joy and passion Rita puts into singing such an obviously ridiculous piece. She attacks it as if her life depends on it, and by the time the stunt key change kicks in at 3:00, she sounds like she might actually explode with excitement.

mp3: Rita Pavone – "My Name Is Potato"

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Song of the day: #19 Walt Solek – "Who Stole the Keeshka?"

Kishka (sometimes kishke, kiszka or keeshka) is a Slavic-originating term for various types of sausage or intestine stuffed filled with meat and/or meal, and popular among Eastern Europeans, Ashkenazi Jews and diaspora communities of both.

Its several types include kaszanka, a black pudding-esque concoction involving a pig's intestine filled with pig's blood and barley. Sometimes liver is used as a filling; sometimes buckwheat, ground potatoes (as in Greater Bialystok kiszka) or other grains are subsituted for the barley. Paprika is frequently added for flavour. Ashkenazic Jewish kishke obeys kashrut restrictions by using beef intestines (or sometimes, an edible synthetic substitute) filled with matzo meal, rendered fat (schmaltz) and spices. So-called "false kishka" is actually helzel, chicken neck-skin stuffed with a flour-based mix. Finally, believe it or not, there's such a thing as vegetarian kishka.

Someone has stolen Polish-American lyricist, composer, and Clown Prince of Polka Walt Solek's kishka, and, though he might not look it, he is extremely unhappy about this. Intending to secure the return of his intestine-based feast through song, he penned "Who Stole the Keeshka?" (as it was originally spelt), which has since become a minor polka standard to the extent that it is often credited as "Polish traditional" rather than to Solek (lyrics) and polka promoter and musician Walter Dana. It has been recorded by numerous groups including Grammy-winning polka artist Frankie Yankovic, polka revivalists Brave Combo, and dependably dreadful musical comedian "Weird Al" Yankovic.

The song veers oddly and abruptly between the mournful verses bemoaning the loss of the food, the slightly more optimistic questioning of the chorus, and the frankly balls-out, horn-filled joyous exuberance of the instrumental sections, also featuring some truly wild1 tambourine-playing. This probably says something profound about the Polish-American experience, but search me if i know what it is.

Solek's anguished vocals really convey the pain of the lost blood sausage: it's actually quite surprising that someone can imbue the words "it was hanging on a rack" with so much emotion. After a while he moves from anger to the bargaining stage, offering up pretty much any of his other Polish delicacies in exchange for the kishka's return:

You can take my szynka
Take my fine kielbasa
You can take my [stewed]? czernina2
But gimme back that kishka

Happily, everything turns out ok for Walt: at the end of the song it turns out that it was in fact Yashil who stole the kishka, the big bastard. To his credit, he returns it to the rack, and Solek thanks him, just in time for another tambourine-soaked hoedown frenzy. He's lucky Walt's such a nice guy. i'd have considered giving him a fine kielbasa round the face, to be honest with you.

Walt Solek's records seem insanely hard to find nowadays. There's a couple on eBay, two records on Spotify for British/Scando readers, and that really is about it. For ages i've been trying to find a tune of his called "Old Whiskey Shoes Polka", which was used to great effect by Les Blank in his 1980 documentary short Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, so if anyone knows where i can get hold of a copy of that, hit me up and i will reward you with some Polish sausage or something. Word.

mp3: Walt Solek – "Who Stole the Keeshka?"

1 And endearingly over-high in the mix, for that matter.
2 Couldn't work out for sure what this says, though some research into Polish cuisine throws up czernina – duck blood soup – as probably the closest-sounding dish. Like the kiszka, it's also full of blood.

#5: Antoni Maiovvi — "The Thorns of Love" (Caravan, 2010)

Review of Antoni Maiovvi for Killed in Cars.

The third album by Bristol-born, Berlin-based DJ Anton Maiof under his (possibly Italo-disco informed) Antoni Maiovvi alias, The Thorns of Love claims kinship with the “overwhelming horror of the stalked… the sound of dimly lit streets where everyone is at risk”. It’s no coincidence that two of his top MySpace friends, juxtaposed next to one another, are John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder...
More more more...
mp3: Antoni Maiovvi – "This Is the Beast"

Or stream the whole record via Soundcloud:
A n t o n i M a i o v v i "The Thorns Of Love" :: CVANCD003 by Multiverse

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Song of the day: #18 Martha Wainwright – "Tower of Song"

i like Big Len Cohen as much as the next guy, but i seem to prefer his songs as done by other people, for the most part.

Today's one of the best Cohen covers, Martha Wainwright's "Tower of Song", from the 2005 film soundtrack I'm Your Man (presumably it's also in the film, but i haven't seen that). The ghostly slide-guitar backing is perfect, and the way her voice cracks around the line "we'll never ever have to lose it again" kinda makes me want to marry her. Ahhh, Martha.

mp3: Martha Wainwright – "Tower of Song"

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Song of the day: #17 Weasel Walter – "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Yesterday i posted probably the second-greatest version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" ever. Today: indisputably the greatest ever. Word to Weasel Walter.

"i'm just a poor boy, nobody likes me"... blastbeats... a recorder solo... that AMAZING drum sound. Perfect. The confused, angry comments under the YouTube video just make it all the more sweet.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Song of the day: #16 The Thurston Lava Tube – "Bohemian Rhapsody"

<a href="">Bohemian Rhapsody by The Thurston Lava Tube</a>

Via Lachlann, who sent it to me via Spotify: probably the second-best version of this song ever recorded. (No, the best is not the one you're thinking of.) The genius switch-up at 0:41 is worth the admission fee alone. For that matter, so is the whole "i see a little silhouette-a of a man" section.

Named after a volcanic tunnel in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, The Thurston Lava Tube are "a psychedelic, experimental surf instrumental band from Leicester", which i think you'll agree is a quite extraordinary proposition. They've done five or maybe six albums since 2001, the first one being a whole album of Beatles covers in a surf style. Their official website doesn't seem to work, but they have a MySpace. This track appeared on the 2006 album The Thoughtful Sounds of Bat Smuggling, as well on the excellently-titled Cordelia Records compilation Beyond the Sea: The Surf Instrumental Bands of the World Fearlessly Extend Their Repertoire.

The actual Thurston Lava Tube, Hawai'i

According to Wikipedia, one of The Tube's members, Alan Jenkins, was also in Leicester groups The Deep Freeze Mice and The Chrysanthemums. The former have albums called things like Teenage Head in My Refrigerator, The Gates of Lunch and Rain Is When the Earth is Television, while the latter's mix of "psychedelic pop, punk and elements of progressive rock" sounds strikingly Cardiacs-y and therefore immediately interesting. Gonna go and try and find more of all the above-mentioned stuff now. i may well report back on this.