Category: Isador


Flash Lights and Great Parties

It’s not hard to explain the appeal of Parliament-Funkadelic, especially to white people, who follow the great maxim of liking black music that nobody listens to anymore. Now while that unfairly throws honkies like myself under the bus – after all, great music is great music no matter where or when it comes from – by the same token it is evident that the unfathomably upbeat and occasionally uncritical has immense appeal to the rock and jazz audience who aren’t completely sold by the material generated by the hip-hop, indie-rock and electro generation. Continue reading

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I only want to see you in the Purple Rain

This is Prince’s original recording of Purple Rain, sans several minutes of jamming at the beginning, an extra verse in-between the standard second and third verses and a minute or so of the final guitar solo. I get it, an eight minute song is already pushing it, unless you’re in the prog-rock business. That said, I do wish he’d just kept the original like this. Sure it’s sanctimonious, sure it’s kitschy, but that’s what Prince is. The power of this man is to turn (often perverse) semantics into intensely funky tales. There is no-one else in the audience except the girl he’s singing to, and anyone who’s seen Purple Rain (which I completely recommend) can remember the sheer amount of close-ups between him and Apollonia.

I personally don’t give a shit what Purple Rain is, or what it’s supposed to symbolise. I don’t care that every Prince song is about sex, love or dancing. I care because this insane, idiosyncratic man puts his all into the music he creates. People don’t always like it, because it isn’t neatly definable. It’s too dirty for pop, too robotic for funk, too heavy for dance, too electronic for R&B and too muddy for rock. It’s this strange, convoluted sound, that makes you groove as much as you want to rock. What stands out is not only his bizarre intellect and prodigious output, but how genuine he is. While admittedly some of Prince’s material is hardly the sort that is generally regarded as being “written from the heart”, there are moments, like this, where he does dissolve some of the barriers he puts up between his audience and himself.

And damnit he’s sexy.

The Real Thing

I’m surprised I ever forgot about this song. To be fair, when I was young I never really realised how psychedelic it was; it was just being played on the radio because it was featured in The Dish.

No real spiel, it’s just an excellent, dare I say, catchy, song. Listen.

Nah. No description for this one. You all know it, but you have to listen to it again. Music doesn’t really get better than this.

If There Is Something

I’ve been going through one of those phases recently. I was considering reviewing this entire album (Roxy Music’s debut), but I quickly realised that despite how many times I’ve listened to it, I’m still not sure if I get it. Although I think “getting” Roxy Music would be antithetical to their entire cause; like an unholy marriage of Sgt. Peppers and Dadaism, Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno and co. served to stylise and obfuscate simultaneously. The songs were profound, but only to the point where you realise that you still have no idea what they’re talking about. Continue reading

Funeral For A Friend

Diverting from his glam, singer-songwriter cliche ever so slightly, Elton John opens up his magnum opus Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by shooting his fans in the face, defecating on their corpses and riding over them with a Harley. Admittedly, Funeral For A Friend isn’t exactly Frank Zappa, but this dramatic, synth-heavy depiction of his future funeral song was not of the same universe as the folky Your Song that brought him to fame. This was Elton locking and loading, refusing to take prisoners, and entreating the worthy remaining few to enjoy a sprawling double album testing his limits.

The song does oddly segue into Love Lies Bleeding, apparently simply because they were both written in the key of A, but it’s not immediately obvious. The tension builds throughout both songs, aided by the muscular guitar that pervades throughout. Elton’s vocals are at his best, and the music jives in the way that only the profoundly camp piano man can make it.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road would go on to be Elton’s best-selling album, most likely due to the fact that Candle in the Wind immediately followed this cathartic rampage. Just don’t expect to see it in any Greatest Hits collection.

Firstly, I encourage you to listen to the song before you read this blog. It’s a bit of an experience. Okay, you’re done? Excellent. Continue reading

Fear of a Blank Planet

Porcupine Tree were a strange discovery for me. While the first few listens completely turned me off (“you call this prog rock?”), I gradually warmed up to them after being forced to put up with them while my brother was driving. Specifically, the song that really got my attention was “Anesthetize”, after my brother mentioned that Alex Lifeson (of Rush) guested on a guitar solo. Little did I anticipate how my mind would be blown.

Describing Porcupine Tree as a modern day Pink Floyd, while beyond high praise, is more than a bit unfair to Steve Wilson, the primary songwriter, guitarist and singer. However, it’s easy to see why such comparisons exist; the combinations of electronics and instruments, the flowing nature of each song, the layered keyboard textures and the sophisticated, thematic lyrics (hell, even the occasional clumsy lyric is classic Roger Waters) are all reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon. Indeed, there is a rather logical progression from Dark Side to Radiohead’s OK Computer to Fear of a Blank Planet; each devliering more dystopian, damning critiques of society and the human condition. Continue reading

Fall At Your Feet

I never expected myself to like this song, or Crowded House really. Of course the name was familiar, how could it not be, but it wasn’t like I could really sing any of their songs. Then some guy on some forums told me to check them out, because they were “like the Aussie/Kiwi Beatles dude”. I’m still surprised as to how accurate that description is.

It’s tempting to call this song sappy, or just a “decent” pop song. After all; what is there to it? Simple drum beats (there’s barely a fill in it), simple bass lines and basic guitar and keyboard melodies. Sure the harmonies are nice, but they’re hardly difficult. It even follows a I-V-VI-IV chord progression for god’s sake.

But that doesn’t matter. Sure instrumentation isn’t difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Those harmonies? They’re beautiful. Neil Finn’s singing? It’s so withdrawn, broody and confused in parts, yet  so clear and pure in others. As soon as that chorus hits, what sounds like typical soft-rock transforms into a transcendent moment of beauty, with harmonies so sweet that only siblings can achieve. And the shouting backing vocals in the bridge… just perfect. Did I even mention the lyrics?

I’ll stop. I love this song. More than any other in the last year it’s taught me simply to love music, to love singing and even to love life. Never before have I heard something so delicately powerful, and I dare say, I’m not sure if I ever will again.

[There are a lot of videos in this post. I apologise, but I felt it was the only real way to get my point across. You don’t have to watch them all]

Ah yes, the drum solo. Please don’t leave, don’t use this number to go to the bathroom and get a drink. I promise you it’ll be interesting.

Really it’s not surprising why drum solos get a bad rap. There’s enough negative press about guitar solos as it is, and that’s the one that makes squiggly exciting noises that can be bent by ungodly amounts of pedals, computer processing and any other form of electronics conceived by man. And when your audience is bored of some long-haired jock playing with electricity, well, how does a drum solo begin to compare?

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