Loving the Music - the Sound of February: 1st - 14th Feb 2020
It seemed to be a month for new releases from well-seasoned rockers Ozzy Osbourne, The Boomtown Rats, Steve Harley and The Pet Shop Boys all came through with releases bound for the charts. We looked at some of the strange origins behind some well-known songs, a few interesting covers, and finished off with a selection of songs for Valentine's Day. Some would call it busy, I'll call it fun.
This series of blog articles cover a week of mini-feature posts from the Loving the Music Facebook page and group. This makes it easier for our music-loving community to search through our ever-growing archive of songs, backstories and trivia.
February 1st - 14th: Musicians Featured
Ozzy Osbourne - Boomtown Rates - The Pet Shop Boys - paul Simon -Jackson Browne REM - Steve Harley - Fiona Apple - Aurora - Robbie Williams & Maxi Jazz
The Hollies - Bread - Harry Nilsson
1st - 2nd Feb: There have been some interesting album releases so far this year, especially from the ‘old guard’ of musicians, and today I am going to feature some that have crossed my musical path over the past week thanks to the good folks at Radio Caroline.
The first is Ozzy Osbourne’s first album in ten years. Ordinary Man. It was released early January and is an epic featuring backing from the likes of Elton John, Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Post Malone).
The 71-year-old rocker announced that this will be his last album due to his ongoing deteriorating health issues connected to his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Let’s honour his career with the track Ordinary Man featuring Sir Elton. This song is destined to become one of the future classics – mark my words.
It is only fitting that the Chinese Year of the Rat sees an album release from Sir Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats. Citizens of Boomtown is set for release in March 2020, but the title single, Trash Glam Baby, was released for promo earlier this month.
When asked why a new record now? Sir Bob explained: “Because that’s what bands do. They make records. Songwriters write songs. There’s so much to respond to in this new and different febrile atmosphere that we live in. People forget we took our name from Woody Guthrie, the great musical activist. I think The Boomtown Rats have always shown that rock’n’roll is a form of musical activism. The music has intent and purpose even if that is just the sound, about boy/girl, nothing particularly at all, everything in general, or pointed polemical… whatever.” (A bit verbose, but thanks Bob!)
When I first heard this track I thought it might have been from one of their old albums. Their sound hasn’t changed over the years and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Although the featured song is catchy, kind of fun and undeniably Rats, it is also pretty predictable. Maybe Sir Bob has been too busy helping save the world to concentrate on growing his musical style? Let’s take a listen to the title track, Trash Glam Baby, from the album of the same name.
Happy News for global dance floors is that the Pet Shop Boys released their 14th studio album on the 24th January, four years after their hugely successful SUPER album of 2016. ‘Hotspot’ entered the charts at #3 this week and is pure PSB magic.
The band also announced a tour of the U.K. and Europe for May and June 2020. Dubbed Dreamworld: The Greatest Hits Live, it kicks off May 1st at Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Arena and includes stops in London, Glasgow and Stockholm.
The official video for Monkey Business, the track that has been receiving a lot of airplay on Radio Caroline, is a high-camp romp and very entertaining. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe haven’t lost their magic touch! Happy Sunday folks. Catch you soon. 😎
5th Feb: Today’s selection is called Never Judge a Song by its Title. Here are three songs that the vast majority of you will know or recognise that have nothing to do with their title. I think you’ll find some of these pretty surprising.
On this day in 1972 Paul Simon released the track Mother and Child Reunion. Although many thought that it was a song about, well, exactly what the title says the truth is somewhat different.
The name of the track was inspired by a chicken and egg dish that he spotted on a Chinese restaurant’s menu. The song's lyrics were inspired by a pet dog that was run over and killed. It was the first death that he had personally experienced, and he began to wonder how he would react if the same happened to his wife, Peggy Harper. "Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy and it was like Heaven, I don't know what the connection was," Simon told Rolling Stone in 1972. I bet you’ll all sleep easier tonight knowing that! 😎
Today’s second often misunderstood song title is a classic from Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty album, Rosie.
Seemingly a song about the wooing of a groupie, it is actually a song that Jackson wrote about the band’s sound engineer who never quite managed to ‘get the girl’.
Rosie is a play on the term ‘Rosie Palm and her five daughters’. You’ve guessed, it’s a song about ‘self-pleasuring’ as a close listen to the lyrics will explain:
“Rosie, you're all right (You wear my ring) When you hold me tight (Rosie, that's my thing) When you turn out the light (I got to hand it to me) Looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie”
Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t know this bit of trivia. I had been singing the song for years before I realised I was singing an anthem for wankers!
Today’s final example of a misinterpreted title is REM’s classic The One I Love. Guitarist Peter Buck was baffled when they started including the song in their concerts and saw that the response was couples hugging and kissing each other.
The bafflement arose because the song was written as a savage anti-love song (as a close listen to the lyrics will explain). Buck could never work out why people adopted it as an ‘our song’.
In a Q Magazine interview with Michael Stipe, he admitted that he almost didn't even record the song, calling it "too brutal" and "really violent and awful." After five years of "The One I Love" going out to people’s loved ones as dedications over the radio waves, Stipe took a complacent stance on his song's misconstrued fate, saying, "It's probably better that they think it's a love song”
I think this proves that many people hear, but far less listen! Have a happy Wednesday folks.😎
11th Feb: Although Steve Harley (with and without Cockney Rebels) made eleven studio albums since 1973 and had his fair share of hits, he has never really struck a chord with me. That was until a few weeks ago when Radio Caroline started featuring his cover of the Beatles classic, I’ve Just Seen a Face. It’s a track from his upcoming ‘Uncovered’ album set for release in March and surprisingly, his voice suits the song perfectly and the arrangement is spot-on. I wanted to share it immediately after hearing it, but the official video was only released yesterday. So without any further fanfare, take a listen and let me know what you think.
In keeping with covers of classics, anyone taking on a Waterboys song had better know what they are doing. This version of Whole of the Moon from Fiona Apple shows that she is someone who does. Fiona Apple kind of faded into obscurity after a slew of albums in the ‘90s, but evidently has been keeping herself pretty busy with various projects, collaborations and activism. Her voice sounds a little more gravelly than I remember, and it gives the song an ‘angry’ vibe. It’s well worth a listen.
Here’s another cover worth a listen. Australian Radio Triple J has a weekly feature segment called Like a Version. Each week a musician or band comes into the studio to play an original song and a cover of one of their favourites.
There are quite a few posts on their YouTube channel which are well worth watching. One that caught my ear is the wonderful Norwegian singer Aurora (who we’ve featured previously) and her beautiful cover from one of my favourite Trip Hop bands, Massive Attack. Time to float away with her take on the song, Teardrop. Have a happy Tuesday folks.
13th Feb: Happy Birthday (No 2) to Robbie Williams. I love this track, For My Culture, featuring Robbie and Maxi Jazz (Faithless) from the amazing 1981 collaboration, 1 Giant Leap, put together by Jamie Cato (Faithless) and Duncan Bridgeman (Grammy awarded musician and filmmaker). Great song, great video. Enjoy!
14th Feb: That day of love has rolled around again. I’ve chosen a couple of my favourite love songs in honour of those struck by Cupid’s bow, complete with some back story trivia for your delight.
I’m starting with a song that many think is a Hollies original but was in fact written and recorded by Albert Hammond on his debut album in 1972. He wrote the song in honour of the first girlfriend he had when he moved to California. The song in question is that wedding first-dance standard, The Air That I Breathe. Phil Everley of The Everly Brothers covered the song in 1973 and it was his version that spurred The Hollies to record the definitive cover version which they released in 1974, cementing its place in musical history.
But that’s not the end of the story. Radiohead ‘borrowed’ quite a few elements of The Air That I Breathe when writing their 1992 masterpiece, Creep. Albert Hammond states that he was quite surprised when Radiohead contacted him for permission and awarded him ⅓ rights to the song without him negotiating or even asking. Nice to know that some folks recognise class when they hear it. Let’s listen to the definitive Hollies version to kick off today.
Today’s second onslaught of Cupid arrows comes from a master of the love ballad, David Gates of the group Bread. The 1971 hit song ‘If’ became one of the band’s trademark songs.
On being asked about the inspiration for the classic, David Gates responded "I wrote that one night at the dining room table after my kids and my wife had gone to bed. It took me about an hour and a half, with an extra verse left over. If you look at it, there are a few bizarre lines in there, like 'you and I would simply fly away' - that's kind of an unusual thought. When I was done, I said, 'That's the best song I've ever written and probably will be the best song I'll ever write.' For me it's really held up over time, more than any of the others." You have to love genius at the dinner table! Enjoy
I think Harry Nilsson was a sadly underrated musician. His album, Nilsson Schmilsson, is up there in my personal top 10 albums, and although not my favourite Nilsson song, Without You, has become one of his most enduring tracks. What you may not know is that he didn’t write it!
The song was written by the group Badfinger (Peter Ham and Tom Evans) and was released in 1970 on their No Dice album. It was never released as a single so very few people recognised the song when Nilsson’s version hit the airwaves.
When Nilsson first heard the song he interpreted it as a slow, dark, piano-driven piece, but the record company had different ideas, insisting on a lush power-ballad format. Nilsson hated every minute of it but the song became a huge hit for him. Strangely enough, his other big hit, Everybody’s Talking at Me (Midnight Cowboy), wasn’t an original either but written in 1966 by American folk musician Fred Neil.
Whether he loved it or not, I’m closing my Valentine’s Day line-up with the song that turned me on to Harry Nilsson and still one of the best love ballads ever, Without You. 😎
I hope that you find these weekly recaps of Loving the Music mini-features make your musical world a little easier. Happy exploring! Join our Facebook Community here for a music group who does more than just post a link to a song.
Please enjoy browsing through our archives:
The Design Train is a social media marketing company run by music-lover Andrew Knapp, who also hosts the Loving the Music Facebook pages. The Design Train specializes in content creation on a wide variety of topics designed to compliment the client's objectives.
Words © Andrew Knapp
The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article