Monday, July 8, 2024

rock songs I loved before my taste formed (1 of ??)

Which doesn't mean things I'm embarrassed about - not at all... just things that caught my ear before I was seriously following pop 'n' rock... not formative loves but pre-formative loves, maybe

This one, for instance, still sounds amazing to me


The dazzle of the sound enacts the title. It's like the "Digital Love' of its time, but without any irony, or nostalgia. Everything phased 'n' philtered, even the vocal (which is apparently why "wrapped up like a deuce" is heard by everyone as "wrapped up like a douche")

That Moog tremolo-ing a rocket streak up into the sky  - might that have been a formative electronic-thrill for young me?  A very different  deployment of Moog to, say, "I Feel Love" from that same year - much more rock, flashy rather than mechanistic-futuristic.

The face and look of the singer makes it all even more perfect.

The lines that leap out to me now - more than the "douche"  or the calliope crashing to the ground -  are:

"She said, 'I'll turn you on sonny to something strong / Play the song with the funky break'"

Written in '73, or even '72, by Springsteen - I'm surprised that the term "funky breaks" was in parlance then. 

(Update: another lyric I only just noticed - "Go-Kart Mozart" - clearly Lawrence of Felt / Denim was a fan of this single, or dug the echt-70sness of it).

Those lyrics felt like a frothing fountain of imagistic frolic to me then - and still override any kind of sequential mental picturing that would form them into a scenario / mise en scene / storyline. The language-romp approaches peak-Costello self-enraptured wordplay levels - the lyrics just become another element of the totality's shimmer-dazzle.

A classic example of radio rock - live-rocking energy, fed through a ton of production, oriented around HOOKS. 

It works through what I call asignifying craft  - tension and release, build up and breakdown - such that the single is ultimately "about" nothing but its own splendor, the structural thrill-ride of its movement through time. 

The full track / album version -  at once more epic in its extended form - yet slightly less majestic,  through being less concentrated. 


You know what, I am not sure I have ever listened to the Brooce original before 



'S okay...  lollops along amiably... somewhere between Dylan and KC & the Sunshine Band!

Utterly eclipsed by the cover version.

I have been meaning to check out the album discography of Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Greil Marcus reps for the debut in the back bit of Stranded, says it's progressive rock redeemed by a sense of humour... (is this really what progressive rock lacks?  After all A/ there's a fair amount of goofy, whimsical, plain daft prog...  but equally B/ the solemnity is the point, surely. Would Magma be improved by gags?)  



Another renowned critic who's a fan of Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Kodwo Eshun!

The band took one of the more interesting career paths

As Manfred Mann - no Earth Band yet -  they were one of the massive UK Beat Group era hit-makers, smash after smash after smash....   

One of those archetypal-Sixties, Carnaby-Street type groops that have been evacuated from memory to very large extent - like the Dave Clark Five, or the Move.

They carried on having large hits right through psychedelia....



I do like these two, indeed have a tendency to annoy family members by breaking out into an Alan Partridge style version of  the "ha, ha, said the clown" chorus

"The Mighty Quinn" (another cover - Dylan this time) surely has some relation to the Anthony Quinn film in which he plays an Inuit. 


Original singer Paul Jones was such a star (and being well-spoken and articulate, a frequent figure on chat shows as Representative of the Young Generation) that he got the lead role in the dystopian pop-culture-gone-totalitarian movie Privilege



He also starred in this "experimental satire"


Arthur Brown appearance at 35 minutes in !

Then, sans Jones and sans his replacement, the disconcertingly named Mike D'Abo, they reinvent themselves as a progressive rock group, adding Earth Band to the end of the name - and in accordance with that moniker,  doing eco-themed concept albums like The Good Earth.







Holst and roll!






Finally Manfred Mann's Earth Band have One Last Huge Hit with "Blinded By the Light"  -  a smash on both sides of the Atlantic - and even bigger in the States, where it got to #1.



D'Abo postscript: Phil points out he wrote this song, aka the Office theme tune albeit in Rod Stewart's version. 




The physical resemblance between Paul Jones and Mike D'Abo was commented upon at the time. 

Both went to Oxbridge - but neither completed their studies. D'Abo came away with a "first class jazz collection" but no degree. 

Jones (as Phil points out) did this Sex Pistols cover





26 comments:

  1. This is the first record that really blew me away, at the age of six:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMYo4KTzFi4

    I reckon this will still be absolute catnip for infants. If anyone out there has young children, please test.

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    1. Wow. Sort of obviates the need for the Cramps altogether.

      What are those weapons that the Pan's People girls are holding?

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    2. Think they're a combination of blunderbuss and pop-gun.

      Jungle Rock actually got to No.3 in the charts in '76. Of course when you're six years old, two weeks is like two months, so this this seemed to be on the radio forever. Me and my brother used to go absolutely mental to it, and never got tired of doing so.

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  2. "my song I loved before my taste formed" was Stevie Wonder's You are the sunshine of my life. I remember hearing it often (or so i remember) on Radio One's Breakfast and I can't but help but think Rice Krispies when I hear it.

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    1. Aye mate I like Rice Krispies too and the song I associate them with and my childhood, riding around on my Chopper, is 'Hitchin' A Ride' by Vanity Fare, I heard it loads on the Radio

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  3. My brother was born in 1970, and his experience of punk was buying the LPs as an angry teenager aged 14, well after punk had died. Then my middle sister, born in 1977, got into Nirvana, so she and her mosher boyfriend dug out my brother's old vinyl and taught 8-year-old me about the Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden and Guns N Roses and the aforementioned Nirvana. This included The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, and I can still recall every lyric to Friggin' in the Riggin' and the title track. That was cool for a 9-year-old, but I wouldn't try and impress my mates with it nowadays.

    I turn 40 on Saturday. Something on the Mondays would be appreciated.

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    1. often wondered how I would have turned out if I'd had elder siblings, although funnily enough it was my younger brother who turned me onto punk

      congratulations on the 40th - unfortunately i don't do requests... as a blogger I am at the mercy of my whims and fancies - and chance things I stumble on, memories triggered etc

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    2. https://www.google.cos/zacharylipez.ghost.io/21st-century-party-people-whatever-the-opposite-of-anxiety-of-happy-mondays-influence-is/amp/ An article on the the (somewhat) contemporary influence of the Mondays.
      But frankly, as much as I appreciated the sentiment, his dismissal of Shaun Ryder's lyric made me want to slug the Adam's apple right out his throat.

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  4. This had a massive impact on me as a 5 yr old: https://www.discogs.com/release/8240638-Various-All-Aboard

    A lot of this material has not aged well.

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    1. Yeah that's something different I think - children's music, aimed at children.

      I am talking about rock songs that enter your child-world and have an impact, before you have any sense of what rock means, what it represents.

      So for instance I liked things like the Goodies hits and the Wombles, but that won't be in this series - whereas America, "Horse With No Name" will be. Now of course I hear it as the Neil Young rip off that is, but at the time it seemed to have a unique eerie haunting quality.

      On that tape, the Bernard Cribbins's "Right Said Fred" is an appealing oddity.

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  5. I only just noticed the words "Go-Kart Mozart" in the lyrics to "Blinded" - so Lawrence from Felt / Denim clearly a fan.

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  6. btw, that's Mike D'Abo singing on "Clown" and "Mighty Quinn".

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  7. Never forget:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmNocMeL3AA

    (btw, that's Mike d'Abo on "Clown" and "Mighty Quinn)

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    1. Amazing! Never heard of that cover before.

      Ah right! I have amended the post accordingly. Funny thing is they look quite alike and sound fairly alike too.

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    2. One more noteworthy factoid is that d'Abo wrote this old chestnut:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApIMvj3xLvM

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  8. Not sure why Manfred Mann's Earth Band didn't just go ahead and record and release their own version of Greetings From Asbury Park, as they ultimately picked off "For You" and "Spirit in the Night", in addition to "Blinded." Would have put them well ahead of the curve.

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    1. They did have a Springsteen fixation seemingly - they were to him what the Byrds were to Dylan, maybe. The ideal interpreters - or in MMEB's case, inflators.

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  9. I always wondered if there was any uproar/notice at the time that the song begins with a fairly explicit reference to masturbation ("In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat"). I remember a couple of years later in high school one of our teachers being "shocked" at how an explicit song like Rod Stewart's TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT was a hit. I was old enough by then to think "Oh what else you've missed..."

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    1. crikey, I didn't notice that. 'Songs about Wanking' would be a good idea for a post / comments trigger. 'Pictures of Lily', 'I Touch Myself', 'She Bop', 'Dancing with Myself' construably, 'Turning Japanese', 'Orgasm Addict'

      What the teenager do with his hat afterwards? Wearing it surely off the table. Or does 'hat' have some other meaning than headgear.

      'Tonight's the Night' is really upfront. But in a kind of sweet way.

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    3. One from George Duke:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERFlt7iztJ0

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    4. Inter Milan KunderaJuly 14, 2024 at 11:12 AM

      "Riding On A Pony" by Free.

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  10. "jimmy hat" has long been slang for condom, but I can't imagine it was much in vogue around the time Bruce wrote "Blinded."

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  11. Also - there's a SECOND reference later on in the lyrics - at least in Bruce's version, not sure if MM sings it in their album version or not - "some fresh-sown moonstone was messin' with his frozen zone to remind him of the feeling of romance". A bit more oblique than the opening lines, but thematically consistent. Also - if you substitute your favourite euphemism for wanking for the word "dream" the Everly Brothers' ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM it belongs on any "Songs about Wanking" list.

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  12. Thank you mate, you've ruined a perfectly good song with your wanking!

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rock songs I loved before my taste formed (1 of ??)

Which doesn't mean things I'm embarrassed about - not at all ... just things that caught my ear before I was seriously following pop...