Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shoulda Been A Hit: 1967

I've collected a lot of songs over the years, and created "Best Of" compilations for every year from 1967 to the present. Fills up my 8G iPod quite nicely for some interesting random play! Quite often, a song comes up that's got a great hook and is so catchy I think, "This must've been a big hit for them." But I look up the song and find out it never made the charts. Well, I thought I'd do my part and put some of those songs out there, and see if you agree that they Shoulda Been A Hit.

The Creation, "How Does It Feel To Feel"

1967 was a time a great social contrast: Peace movements, hippies, mind expanding drugs and free love, as well as violence, race riots and escalation in Vietnam. The Creation, a mod band from England, seemed to straddle both sides of the times with this song:

The lyrics start out darkly and would make Edgar Allen Poe proud:

How does it feel when a shadow moves you
How does it feel rustles by your bed
How does it feel when it finally holds you
How does it feel when you're thinking your dead

but then the mood lifts:

How does it feel when you wake in the morning
How does it feel feeling sun in the shade
How does it feel when you slide down a sunbeam
How does it feel bursting clouds on your way
How does it feel now that the night is over

Maybe it was the harshness and feedback of the guitars that turned listeners off, who weren't quite ready for the sound that would make groups like Led Zeppelin huge in a couple of years. So maybe it was a case of "ahead of their time?"

In 1994, the Oxfordshire, England group Ride did a nice cover of it. Critics have called Ride a "neo-psychedelic" band, and this really cemented their reputation.

I liked their original songs the best, though, especially 1992's Going Blank Again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Supergrass, up in smoke

I was very disappointed to read this today:

After releasing a collection of classic singles and six great studio albums, [Supergrass] announce that we've split due to the 17 year itch. We are playing 4 farewell shows in June, details to follow. “Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years. We still love each other but, cliché notwithstanding, musical differences have led to us moving on and of course we all wish each other well in the future”

The Oxford-based band has been my other favorite "Super" band for the past 15 years. (I wrote about Super Furry Animals in a previous post.) I'm sad because I know that many people haven't even discovered them yet! Now it'll have to be posthumously. I've been planning to write one of those "Why I love Supergrass" posts for some time now. So, I guess now is the time.

A few reasons why I love(d) this band:
- Good singing. Lead singer Gaz Coombes has a distinctive voice with great range. Plus they do multi-part harmonies frequently, which makes the music more multidimensional.
- Song topics that go beyond "power pop." Here's a sample lyric, from "Mama & Papa:"

Walk in the park, and it's getting dark, and I don't wanna be alone,
Miss my Mummy and I miss my Daddy won't you please bring them back home,
Tire of the trail as the daylight fails and the shadows of the east do grow,
Miss my Mummy and I miss my Daddy won't you please bring them back home

- An ever-present sense of silliness lurking in the depths. Well, they were silly quite often on their first album, with songs like "Mansize Rooster" and "Caught By The Fuzz." They got more serious as time went on, yet never lost that ability to have a laugh, musically, like on "Coffee In The Pot" from 2005's Road To Rouen (love that album title!).

- And most importantly, of course, they never lost the ability to create memorable songs & hooks, sometimes beautiful, sometimes rocking. When I need some grounding, something new yet familiar, to take a break from my daily listens to newest releases, I often put on a Supergrass album.

One of their strong suits has always been their videos, and if you like the music, I highly recommend you pick up their DVD "Supergrass Is 10: The Best of 1994-2004." Beware though, it's been "discontinued by manufacturer" and will probably become a hard-to-find collector's item soon.

My favorite Supergrass video,
Pumping On Your Stereo

Here's one of their harder rocking songs. From their second album winkingly (and ironically) titled In It For The Money, with a noir-ish video:
Richard III." Bonus points for using a Theremin!

And from one of their more commercially successful albums, Life On Other Planets:

My second favorite video, and a great song to boot, is "We Still Need More" which features the boys driving a car off a ramp through a pyramid of TV's. How cool is that?

They're playing 4 final shows early this summer, and damn, they're playing London and Paris just days before I go there on vacation! :-(

It's been a good run boys; over twice as long as the Beatles made it, so well done, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thom Yorke having fun?

Not sure where he's planning to go with this band, but it's nice to see Radiohead's Thom Yorke getting loose with his "supergroup" band, Atoms For Peace, which also features Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on guitar, and Joey Waronker on drums. Radiohead just gets sooo serious, y'know?