After some technical ups and downs of the past few days, I’m back with a few more alphabetically-themed musical treats.
I’ve recently discovered “Intergalactic Lovers” who hail from Aalst, Belgium. As is often the way of things these days, the first tune that I’d heard from them was featured on a TV show called “The Team”. A multi-country produced, cop-type show.
The song itself is a pleasant, mostly acoustic affair, and the female lead vocals balance nicely with the rest of the band’s pop sensibilities.
This got me thinking about some other Belgian artists that were also worth a shout. The first I remember hearing were dEUS, just can’t quite remember what their “big” song was, but do remember them being in and around The Top 40 once or twice.
Another favourite of mine are Black Box Revelation. I remember playing a couple of their tunes on “Cut Me Some Slack” back in the day. However, they’ve since disappeared off the map and with no new music in sight. Maybe that guitar/drums duo thing has run its course? Cool video too.
If you’re a fan of Bluegrass, (and if you’re not, then what’s wrong with you?) there was a great Belgian movie called The Broken Circle Breakdown which also had a wonderful accompanying soundtrack. It will make you cry…
It’d be remiss of me not to mention Jacques Brel. David Bowie recorded a version of Amsterdam, as well as Scot Walker and many others covering his work. To see it performed in it’s original language is quite something.
Have you ever seen a band or an artist play in a small, smokey club? Maybe they were first on the bill or were so ordinary that you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was a band playing in the first place? I believe that’s the time when many punters will “hit the bar” and wait for the Headliner.
I had to check, but I think this was August or September 1986, and I was at The Barrowlands in Glasgow to see one of the popular beat combos of the day -The Housemartins. They’d just had a huge hit earlier in the year with “Happy Hour”, a jaunty, jangly, 2 minutes-and-change tune that’d gone high in the charts. They only rleased 2 albums before morphing into “The Beautiful South” and having many, many more hits.
Two things of note about The Housemartins. First, Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim was the bass player. Whatever happened to him? Secondly, the original drummer was sentenced to 6 years in jail for arson. Kinda sad…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Whitaker
So, we’re at the gig, and first one were a local band called “The Crows”. Not The Black, nor Stone The, or even Counting…just simply, The Crows. Later on, I’d pick up a couple of their records but they were somewhere between The Cult and a mish-mash of Goth Rock. They were great, one of those bands you see supporting, remember the name, but never quite hit the big time.
Next up, was an extra addition to the lineup, an acoustic duo called “The Proclaimers”. Remember, this is a few months from their breakthrough “Letter From America” (produced by Gerry Rafferty no less) and they went down like a turd in a fishtank. It wasn’t just their nerdy-twinness that was freaking people out (Auchermuchty no more etc…) but they seemed nervous, somewhat lacking in that “banter with the crowd”, and to be honest, a bit out of their depth. I don’t think, or at least I don’t remember thinking that “these guys’ll go far”. Probably, far from it, but hey, good luck to them. They’ve done alright for themselves.
The Housemartins were late for the show. Like, super-late. It was a Wednesday night and they’d been filming for Top of The Pops which went out the following day. Glasgow crowds weren’t noted for their understanding or compassionate nature and didn’t really like to be kept waiting or be messed about (Beastie Boys Licence to Ill Tour is another that comes to mind). However, we got there in the end. I really don’t remember that much of The Housemartins set (it was 30 years ago…) but I always had a bit of a soft spot for the band.
A Tune a Day…G
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac- The Green Manalishi
“He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” – BB King on hearing Peter Green
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – “If I Were Free”
Sometimes, straight off the bat, the first few words of a song just reach out and grab you. Forget about the usual suspects – hook, riff, or melody. There are times when the words just jump off the page.
If I were free
I would run into battles with flowers and hugs
And bow at the boots of our well-oiled thugs
Yes, if I were free
If it were me
I would yell out “I love you!” to all I passed
I would disrobe and disco and rip off my mask
Alex Ebert (or Edward Sharpe if you like…) started out in a band I’d never heard of called Ima Robot. Let’s just say I prefer this new, more “Gentleman of The Road” persona that he’s found with the Magnetic Zeros.
If you’re a fan of Mumford and Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show, or just like a bunch of hippies on a train playing bluegrass tunes, you’ll enjoy “Big Easy Express”. The documentary features all three bands on tour – with the added bonus of them on their own, unique, musical journey.
A Tune a Day…D
Let’s stick with something from California and have a double from Dawes.
I first came across the band with their 2013 album ‘Stories Don’t End’ and since then they’ve been an ever-present on my playlist. Simply put, I think Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer (and main songwriter for the band) tells great stories in his songs. The band together also add really nice harmonies, perhaps something synonymous (or coincidental) with the “Laurel Canyon sound” that they’re noted for. A claim that the band themselves refute.
Their next album, 2015’s All Your Favorite Bands followed in a similar vain, but it was last year’s prohetically-gloomy titled “We’re All Gonna Die” where the band certainly took a bit of a musical detour and tried to rid themselves of that smooth, sunny, Californian vibe. I thought it was a bit up-and-down, patchy, and trying a bit too hard at times to set itself apart from their earlier efforts.
Upon checking their Youtube page, I see that they’ve uploaded a bunch of tunes from their “We’re All Gonna LIVE” tour. (see what they’ve done there?) and I’m looking forward to adding them to that playlist.
- Special mention for the bands “Delta Spirit” and “Middle Brother”.