Holy Man Queen

April 20th, 2019

Earlier this year, I posted on the song Holy Man in the Everything But The Brian series, and noted that there was an unreleased version featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor, from a not-so-little-known British band. Well that unreleased version has now been released  thanks to Record Store Day. You can hear the this version featuring the Queen superstars here.

Brian’s Hidden Beauties CLXXI: In My Room

April 17th, 2019

The criteria for inclusion in my Brian’s Hidden Beauties series is any song written or co-written by Brian Wilson that I feel is underrated for some reason. Given that In My Room is a staple of many compilations, it’s inclusion here may seem odd -but since it was only a B-side, I am going to rule that it qualifies as not quite a top-tier Beach Boys hit, and therefore worthy of inclusion. And it gives me an opportunity to write about this song.

The very first Beach Boys music I owned was a copied cassette of a greatest hits collection- and this was one of the songs that really impressed me, and made me realize that the Beach Boys were not just a surf novelty band. For 1963, it was an astonishingly personal song and introspective song, matched possibly only by their soon to be transatlantic rivals from the Liverpool’s There’s A Place.

Given Brian’s retreat from public life in the 70s, this song takes on an additional poignancy, but it remains one of the most perfect of the early Brian Wilson songs, and a song that many people, especially those of us with a more introverted nature, can relate to always.

23 Instrumentals For Today

April 10th, 2019

1. The Mist Covered Mountains -Alan Clark, Eddie Gomez and The Acetones
2. Be Here In The Morning Darling -The Beach Boys
3. The British Opera -Bee Gees
4. Othello -Chilly Gonzales
5. Arrival of the Birds -The Cinematic Orchestra
6. Piano Variations On Thoughts Of You -Dennis Wilson
7. Eveningland -Hem
8. River Flow -Ken Bryan
9. Going Home [Theme of the Local Hero] -Mark Knopfler, Alan Clarke, Mike Brecker & Tony Levin
10.  …but we were happy -Paddy McAloon
11. A Country Melody -Roger Nichols
12. Getting That Way- Rory More O’Donoghue & Sarah Joyce
13. Little Chef -Saint Etienne
14. Swim Swan Swim- Saint Etienne
15. Church Pew Furniture Restorer -Saint Etienne
16. Breakneck Hill – Saint Etienne
17. Angel of Woodhatch -Saint Etienne
18. Yearning -Scott Walker
19. Finale -Scott Walker
20. Saturday, Sunday, Monday -Swan Dive
21. Rêverie -Claude Debussy
22. Spellbound Concerto -Rosza
23. Un Bel Di- Giacomo Puccini

Three’s Very Charming

April 6th, 2019

5o years ago, Scott Walker was close to the top of the album with his third solo album. Indeed, his first three solo albums, while not imaginatively titled, all made top 3 in the album charts, with Scott 2 reaching the peak in era where the charts were dominated by the Beatles, Stones, Dylan and The Sound Of Music. This was followed by Scott 3, released in March 1969, and reaching number 3 in the charts in April that year.

Scott 4 may be the cult favorite, but Scott 3 is a close contender for Scott’s best album, with 10 new Walker compositions, featuring breathtaking orchestral arrangements, lovely melodies and bittersweet lyrics. It’s Raining Again is often seen as Scott’s signature composition, while Copenhagen, Rosemary, Big Louise and Two Weeks Since You’ve Been Gone are all shimmeringly beautiful. We Came Through and 30th Century Man see a bit of a change of pace and style. The album ends with three Jacques Brel songs, which could be seen as an afterthought, but try not to be moved by Scott’s interpretation of If You Go Away.

This album may seem far away from Scott’s “difficult” later music, but the contrasts between beauty and horror are still there, even if lovingly suger-coated throughout. If you want Scott at his most beautiful, yet still challenging, three is definitely your number.

 

Still Remembering Scott

March 31st, 2019

Readers will excuse me in focusing for a few more posts on the loss of Scott Walker. For today, I have linked to a track from his last work, the soundtrack from Vox Lux, and note that even although a lot of his later music was quite jarring and intense, he could still create moments of beauty, as on this instrumental called Yearning.

On Our Own Again

March 25th, 2019

A lot of fine musicians have passed away recently, but for me, the loss of Scott Walker has hit pretty hard. As one of my top 10 favorite musicians,  responsible for one of my all-time favorite albums, this blog has featured Scott Walker a number of times. His story of a teenage idol who was up there with the Beatles in terms of popularity in the UK who became an avant-garde artist who influenced Bowie and many others – a man who refused to follow trends or any conventional route to fame. Even although he wasn’t a young man, his completely unexpected passing was consistent with doing everything on his own terms.

Like many Scott Walker fans, my favorite works remain his five albums from 1967 to 1970 which combined beauty, great vocals, melancholy and meaning. I’ve even got used to 1995s Tilt, which has great beauty in the starkness of the difficult words and melodies. His work in 2000 is more difficult, but there are some glimpses of beauty in his soundtrack work for Vox Lux that was released last year. Indeed, his last two works were movie soundtracks -fitting for artist who once summarized a movie in a four minute song (Seventh Seal) and whose true-life story is stranger than much fiction. Rest well, Scott Walker, and thank-you for being a bit part of the soundtrack of my life.

Everything But The Brian X: Celebrate The News

March 24th, 2019


Just over 50 years ago, Dennis Wilson started becoming a serious creative force in the Beach Boys. It started with two songs on Friends, three on 20/20 (although one with a dubious co-writer..) and continued with the B-side of the last Capitol single of the original recording contract. Celebrate The News  is an ambitious production, featuring harmonies and melodic tricks that would make Dennis’s older brother proud, and showcases Dennis’s first great creative era.

The King Of The Surf Guitar

March 19th, 2019

It’s a reflection on us all aging, as well as maybe a particularly tough period, when this blog ends up becoming like an obituary section. Dick Dale was a key figure in the early development of rock and roll, and particularly surf guitar, which was an important influence on the Beach Boys. Two of his trademarks songs were covered by the Beach Boys on their Surfin’ USA album, and  Misirlou gained a new lease of life after the Pulp Fiction movie. Health and financial issues meant that Dick Dale’s later life was particularly tough, and meant that he was on the road right up until he passed away. He will certainly not be forgotten for his contribution to music, and spirit right to the end.

A Tribute To Hal Blaine

March 16th, 2019

In tribute to Hal Blaine, here is a song he features strongly on.

The Drummer To All The Hits

March 12th, 2019

Sometimes it seems easier to name American hits of the 60s that didn’t have Hal Blaine on them. The list of number one hits  is impressive, and that doesn’t even allow the fact that he drummed on Pet Sounds and the SMiLE sessions. Therefore it is no surprise that there has been a huge outpouring of grief as the world acknowledges the passing of the great drummer -and a huge part of many people’s coming of age in the 60s. Well played, Hal Blaine, and we will still be listening over and over again to the memories.