ad00absurdum: (quote - mitch benn)
You know, I really love what Colour Of Bone do with their tunes: they put all those little twists in their songs, transforming them from simple good tracks into subtly (or not so subtly) creepy ones.

I have never encountered it with any other band, to be honest, so more kudos to them.

Take Ashtrays For Earrings - it's got a very subtly creepy ending of recorded conversations played back like the tape is looping and its tail end is being pulled from one reel onto the other one twice as fast as it should.

There's also Itch with the sound of a CD (or a laser disc, to be precise) spinnig in its drive - not creepy at all, but a lovely touch nonetheless. Quite brilliant actually.

The Superstitious Twist has the completely creepy 'choir' doing backing vocals around 01:43. Brings to mind funerals and abandoned cemeteries and yes, the lyrics do contribute.

And then there is the newest single Radio that has piano tinkling in the background of the chorus. Very old-sounding, almost ghostly, and interestingly, quite like a faded black-and-white photograph. It actually creates a great effect with the foreground (music and the lyrics) because you can hear two distinct musical 'planes of existance' transposed over each other.

Also, I think I've just discovered I've got a mild case of synaesthesia. LOL.

Anyway, do give them a listen. Better yet, go and support them.
ad00absurdum: (quote - mitch benn)
Well, what a singularly unmoving experience listening to that album was. It was definitely better back in The Smiths days when Morrissey kept to 10-track album format. Ten songs would be just enough here, twelve tips listening to WPINOYB (as the fans have already nick-named it) over the edge of this side of interesting to the other side of weary boredom.

Bad metaphors aside, though, there are two or three songs that are not entirely forgettable. "Istanbul" and "I Am Not a Man" come to mind first, but musically the album offers nothing new, nothing breathtaking. Let's face it, if it wasn't for Morrissey's name on the cover, the album would be forgettable.

Lyrically, it's no masterpiece either. I do worry (but only a little bit) that Morrissey has no idea what taxes are for. No NHS glasses for him (oh how quickly they forget).

And for the life of me, I can't understand what is the point in writing a song like "Staircase at the University" when all of this has been said before more eloquently and less heartlessly too. Well, at least it's catchy. Good luck with getting it on the daytime radio.
Funny thing about this song, though, it does remind one of The Smiths days or at least the better Morrissey-solo years. But back then the lyrics would have been better too.

"Kick the Bride Down the Aisle" makes even less sense. Moreover, it's not even musically strong enough to justify its existence in Mozzer's catalogue at all. I guess with such composers as Boz Boorer and co. some standards had to go. Pity that, really.

But wait. Wait a second. "Oboe Concerto" – does the bass (or everything else in that song) remind you of anything? It bloody well should because the bass is lifted almost directly from live intro to "Unloveable" and the whole song is a not-so-distant cousin of "Death of a Disco Dancer". I would almost call it a rip-off if I were feeling less charitable. Even the uncoordinated drum solo towards the end is the answer to Mozzer's piano tinkling back then. Jesus, for a bloke constantly saying that The Smiths are dead and well and truly buried under piles of resentment and corpses of NME journalists, Morrissey sure clings to that band. Oops sorry, group.

Anyway, apart from that brief spot of excitement, the songs are dreadfully sleep-inducing. I've never made it a secret that I don't like Morrissey's solo work and the further into his solo career the worse it was, so WPINOYB didn't disappoint me in the slightest. It's not entirely horrible, but it's not all that good. It's mediocre, lukewarm and not at all what a Morrissey album should be. Maybe he really should retire from music and start his career as a writer. Judging by his Autobiography he's at least good at it.

P.S. I have not listened to Johnny Marr's new solo work yet, but I'm sure it will be as unimaginative in the lyrics department and where-have-I-heard-this-before when it comes to music as The Messenger. I'm going back to Kajagoogoo.
ad00absurdum: (the smiths)
Found another Smiths tribute album and finally had enough time to listen to it. I don't know why I do this to myself. I really don't. Anyway, here's 'Wonderwall' here's The World Still Won't Listen.

I'm not sure if the totally inventive and original title should be a plus or not. Considering the contents of the album, it just might be.

front cover

1. "Shoplifters of the World Unite" - Dare to Defy
I was a bit unprepared for the genre I stepped into (yes, people, it's a Genre Album), so I spent this first song with this exact expression: o_O.
Um, the song was fast. Yeah, that's probably best this that can be said about it.

2. "London" - Down By Law
This one is similar to the original except for the guitar coda. The fact that you can actually hear the basisst is, of course, the highlight.

3. "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" - Anal Cunt
Two simultaneous reactions occur while listening to this one: LOL and WTF? Seriously, it sounds like the singer is in grave danger of spraining something (he also sounds like a prticularly annoying frog with a sore throat). I'm almost worried. Apart from that, you won't understand the lyrics if you haven't heard them before.

4. "What Difference Does It Make?" - Subzero
Oh oh, I can recognise the beginning riff - that's always a plus. The vocalist isn't a plus, though. Interestingly enough, he also sounds like a frog with a sore throat but it's not as annoying as the previous one.
The bassist is crap, the chorus was changed, the harmony buggered off to parts unknown. All in all, a more pointless bleating has never been heard.

5. "How Soon Is Now" - The Meatmen
First impression: WTF is this?
*25 seconds in*: Oh, it's 'How Soon... . Okay then.
The vocalist really got into this, though I'm pretty sure that in the first chorus he sings "I'm Ewan..." - I haven't laughed like that since track 2. The lyrics in the subsequent choruses were changed too - to more coarse and more with the image of 'fuck yeah, we're so fucking hardcore, man'. Yes, perfect for The Smiths cover, but it brings to mind Satanism for pre-schoolers just a bit more.

6. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" - H2O
This... is not bad actually. It does resemble the pop-punk Greenday aesthetics and the singer sounds like he's doing a parody of Mozzer's singing voice, but the drummer gives it all he's got and that's an attitude I like.

7. "Handsome Devil" - Sweet Diesel
Well, at least the beginning is recognisable. The vocalist is a bit annoying (funny, I seem to see a pattern emerging here) and he also sings "a girl in the bush..." - NO HOMO, people, just so we're clear.

8. "Bigmouth Strikes Again" - Slapshot
LOL, the band has got The Animal from the Muppets as their vocalist. Right, whatever floats your boat. You'll have absolutely no idea, though, what said vocalist is singing about (an educated guess would suggest the actual lyrics to "Bigmouth..." but you never know).

9. "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" - Screw 32
Another Mozzer-vocal impostor, but the cover is not the worst I've ever heard. Also, it is entirely possible the singer cries at the end. Emo *trololol*.

10. "The Last of the Famous International Playboys" - Leeway
No idea why this one was included on the cover album since it's obviously Morrissey's solo era, but it too was murdered. The delivery and beat are very straightforward and this is not a compliment. The cover lacks the 'swing' of the original and if there ever was a time to mourn the lack of Joyce's drumming (as it almost invariably is with covers), it is now as well.

11. "What She Said" - Youth Brigade
Another Moz impostor. The song is pretty OK, though the second verse is a bit of WTF musically. No, I don't know either.

12. "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" - Vision
And here we've got a very nice day at the races, to use a quote (faster, man! Faster!). The bassist was all right, at least he tried, even though it didn't amount to much in the end. In a word: not the worst, though that instrumental bit in the middle was pretty unnecessary.

13. "Half a Person" - Edgewise
Hm, this one sounds rather threatening. Brings to mind a mass murderer with a grudge, actually.

14. "Panic" - The Business
Wouldn't know it's "Panic" without the lyrics. But it did have rather nice Slide-like, well... guitar sliding.
Also, the singer's accent is rather endearing. But it does not make the song a good cover.

15. "Sweet And Tender Hooligan" - 59 Times the Pain
Ow, my ears. The vocalist is a complete waste of time. The bassist tried to save the song and if you're feeling charitable you might say he succeeded a bit.

16. "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" - Home 33
Hm, and people pay to see their gigs? Seriously? Wow.
The band try their best to erase anything that resembles melody and harmony from the song. I don't know what it ever did to them.
The bassist heroically tried to save it. Didn't quite succeed. R.I.P.

17. "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" - Walleye
Oh, you can recognise the song from the very beginning. How thoughtful. And the song is not entirely horrible. The vocalist gets a tad hysterical, but at least he sings what was written.

18. "Back to the Old House" - Lament
OMG, something slow and it looks like it's gonna stay this way. This is actually pretty good as far as the covers go, but then again, it's very straightforward and very close to the original.

And that is all. Thank God because I don't think I could take much more.

The review was first published in "Shopliftersmag" - an online Smiths fanzine that you can check out on: Google Docs or Issuu
ad00absurdum: (quote - mitch benn)
Time for CD 2 of Please, Please, Please, a Tribute to The Smiths. Hm, it hasn't been a week since CD 1 - I must be tougher than I thought. All right, let's be brave then and without further ado, begin at the beginning:

1. Telekinesis - Sheila Take a Bow
Pretty similar to the original track except the vocalist has a whiny voice that brings to mind Liam Gallagher. Not an association I particularly care for, but that's a question of taste (or lack thereof. No sorry, I'm joking. Sort of. No, I am :) )
Otherwise this attempt falls rather flat, it has to be said.

2. Solvents - Is It Really So Strange?
Ouch, my ears. But I've never liked country, so the nicest thing I can say about this cover is that it's short. The melody is reduced to acoustic guitar, drums (a drum?) and a violin. And a guy singing into a metal bucket (seriously, the echo?). Oh, and then towards the end, a girl joins him in the chorus. What for isn't explained.

3. The Wedding Present - Hand In Glove
Damn, I like The Wedding Present, but I don't buy this version. Still, it's one of the better ones on this album. It's noticeably heavier than the original, full of distorted noisy guitars. Pity the bass line went out of the window, tough. The vocalist seems better suited for something other than this song too - there's something that just doesn't fit here.
I quite like the abrupt ending, though.

4. Mike Viola And the Section Quartet - How Soon Is Now?
As the name of the artist and the accompanying "band" suggests, this is indeed played entirely on strings. Quite interesting, especially how they did the "swamp" effect. And they even played the whistling :)
If only there was no singing. Then it might even be a bit more than bearable. The vocalist - Mike in question, I suppose - has got a really really annoying voice but, as always, you can't have everything.

5. Trespassers William - There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Oh no, this is going to be a dirge. A slow dying in other words, considering the lyrics (see, see, a pun :) ) And this is probably just my problem, but I hate American accent in British songs. Even from a female vocalists with nice voices.
Also, the band probably are trying to put the listener to sleep. Quite humane of them, I'm sure, seeing as there are five tracks still left.
I don't know, some cover of this song could probably be good, but this isn't the one. There's no drama of the original, no passion. Remember the second verse? the one about "darkened underpass"? You can hear the hope and desperation and then quiet retreat in the words Morrissey was singing, in how he was singing. Here? absolutely nothing. The underpass is full of sleepy hipster kids, it looks like.

6. Girl In a Coma - Rubber Ring
Well, with a name like this, you have obligations. And what? And... you managed to surprise me.
This starts like another godawful country song until the vocalist starts singing. Then it gets interesting. I really like that woman's voice (Polish listeners may find it a bit similar to Monika Brodka. That's a plus, people). I could even go as far as to say I would love to hear more of Smiths songs sung in that voice, but the music would have to start being listenable as well. That might be a problem.
I like the ending - not as creepy as the original, which is actually good, and those whispers are great.

7. Elk City - I Know It's Over
At first it sounds like just a slightly cheaper version of Vini Reilly's guitar work. Then we have, umm, rhytmic pop. I do like the bass line here even though there's nothing left of Rourkey's sliding (forgive me, Andrew). A bit dance-y version - but fit for a decent indie disco - which is especially obvious in the chorus. And yet, despite all of that, I can listen to it without too much wincing. Amazing.

8. Katy Goodman - What She Said
You know, I'm starting to suspect the sole idea behind the music arrangements on this album was to make lullabies from the most energetic songs and vice-versa. I'm yawning for real now.
Also, I think the vocalist sings "what she read, all heavy books". Yes, she probably read encyclopedia, LOL.

9. Cinerama - London
Cinerama - the name actually sounds familiar. If I could only remember why. Anyway, maybe it's not that great a loss because listening to this cover doesn't inspire confidence in the band whatsoever. Remember what I said about the idea for musical arrangements here? that's right, another dirge. Only peppered with sound effects of a radio set being tuned (you know, the scratchy sound of foreign radio stations).
Whatever for, you ask? I have no idea. It doesn't add meaning to the song, it doesn't do anything actually beside being vaguely irritating. It's like the band got into the studio, got their hands on the sound library and took to it like a horse to hay.

10. Doug Martsch - Reel Around the Fountain
Oh. My. God. The drummer knows what he's doing. And the bassist too, somewhat (catch me, I'm gonna faint from shock). The guitarist indulges in wah-wah somewhere in the middle, but it can be forgiven.
This cover is probably the one of the most faithful to the original. The guys here don't try to make the song better / something terribly inventive / radically different / WTF is that? and it does them credit. It's a simple straightforward cover that gives you an idea why there can never be another band like The Smiths. Not for the lack of trying.

And thus we end our journey into this album's depths. Well, okay, it was more like splashing in a shallow kiddie-pool, occasionally encountering belly-upped fish, but you get the idea.

Good night and thank you.
ad00absurdum: (quote - mitch benn)
album cover

Various Artists - Please, Please, Please, a Tribute to The Smiths

I've recently found that album online and took the opportunity to torture myself with it. Managed to get through to the end, though not in one go. The album consists of two CDs and even I'm not that patient/determined/prone to fits of self-abuse.

CD 1

1. Kitten - Panic
A not entirely bad Panic/Death of a Disco Dancer combo. Would probably be better if the band did a cover of Death... rather than Panic, because the bits of the former that we hear sound much more interesting than what the band did eventually, but what can you do? *he asks rhetorically*.
The singer is a girl with a really nice voice and I've always rather liked to hear the contrast of a female voice in Smiths songs. Also, the lyrics were changed slightly to accomodate American setting (so there's e.g. Los Angeles instead of London).
The band's got a stupid name, but let's not hold it against them because this song is one of the better ones on the album.

2. The Rest - Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
Wow, at first they sound like they're playing in a hangar next door. Pity the walls are so thin. There's also no bass (or if there is, you can't hear it), which annoys me especially because I've got an unhealthy and, let's face it, rather kinky fascination with Rourke's bass lines because the song was originally driven solely by a bass line and it seemed so important part of it that to remove it would be to destroy the song. You just wait for it to crash like a car that's got no driver behind the wheel.
Well, enough bad metaphors. The song actually sounds a bit psychodelic - or noisy, if you prefer - except the singer sounds a lot hysterical (and by that I don't mean funny). I guess he thought with lyrics like that he had to be. The question 'why?' remains a mystery.

3. Joy Zipper - What Difference Does It Make?
And we're suddenly transported into the 80's when New Romantic was the latest fad and Visage ruled the airwaves and the charts.
And that's really all I can say about this cover. The lyrics were changed and one of the lines became And your prejudice won't keep me warm tonight, which seems awfully presumptious.

4. Tanya Donelly / Dylan In the Movies - Shoplifters of the World Unite
Aw, folk slash country song. How... inappropriate. Sort of a waste of time unless someone likes girls with guitars, violins and sleep-inducing voices.

5. William Fitzsimmons - Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want
A guy with a voice like a dying flower (oh so quiet and sensitive) and a banjo. Marr's many many guitar layers are of course gone. Hard to say if it's good or bad. Maybe it's not bad at all because attempting that would probably lead to somewhat of an embarrassment on the attempting guitarist part.

6. Sixpence None the Richer - I Won't Share You
Hey, I think I actually know them. They had this one song which I really liked. I don't remember how cute the singer was in the video so the song must have been good.
This cover - meh, not the worst one. The sound of a tin bucket being hit repeatedly in lieu of a snare drum is somewhat annoying, but I've heard worse.

7. Sara Lov - Well I Wonder
Not bad, but then again this is one of my favourite songs. The two bass lines of the original are, naturally, absent, but this girl has a nice singing voice and there's a nice piano in there and even the dreadfully regular drum pattern doesn't bother me.
On the other hand there's this terrible clapping: e.g on please keep me in mind line and this is the final stand of all I am. Why oh why would someone do something like that?

8. Greg Laswell - Half a Person
Another sensitive guy with a piano this time. In short - an acoustic ballad and that's really all that can be said about it. Entirely forgettable.

9. Dala - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Yet another acoustic ballad: a girl with a guitar and I'm slowly starting to fall asleep. Nice that the end is near.
But seriously, this could be a lullaby - so delicate and so putting to sleep. Drama and heartbreak? whatcha talking about?

10. Chikita Violenta - Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
The beginning sounds especially unpleasant, but it gets better (oh thank Lord). Not too much and not for long, but just slightly better. Until the vocalist starts singing. Well now, that's annoying, though one probably shouldn't expect much from the band/performer? with a name like this.
Overall, the song resembles something fit for a really really bad indie disco. And the outro is even worse than the beginning, but yessss, we've finally reached THE END.

I'll review Part 2 in another post at another time. I need to recuperate from Part 1 first. A good cup of tea and Hatful of Hollow on a loop for about a week should do the trick.
ad00absurdum: (Default)
Yep, updating with another post of dancing about architecture. Because I sometimes work night shifts and I've found the only thing that keeps me from falling asleep is listening to music.

cover art of My Favorite's album, Love At Absolute zero. Abstract art

Anyway, "Love At Absolute Zero" - I should've written something about this album and this group a long time ago. Such a lovely, little known band that released their debut album in 1999. And in the words of Allmusic journalists, it was "quite simply the best album of 1983, delivered 16 years after the fact". The description would be fitting except the music, despite being steeped in years past (and it can beheard, but wonderfully so), is quite a bit more modern, the usual and expected influences notwithstanding. And My Favorite deserve some recognition.

I first looked for something of theirs back when I just had to get my hands on Working Class Jacket (for an obscure Marr & Morrissey reference, no less :D ). And was quietly enchanted by the simple, unpretentious retro pop the group played.

The band's got two vocalists: a man and a woman and they make good use of it: their voices nicely contrast. And even if the guy is not the best singer in the world, the girl's got a disarming and seemingly naive vocal manner so they fit together beautifully, as heard for example on Absolute Zero which is the first track.

The whole album has some strange melancholy to it. Adolescent romance, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" and faint traces of Pet Shop Boys written all over the sound. It's quite endearing, really. There are very few weak songs, maybe only one or two, and the rest wins you with pretty melodies, shimmering guitars and cinematic storytelling.

Absolute Beginners Again begins with a heavy guitar riff, which is - ironically - the weakest part of the track and a totally unnecessary thing. Because at the heart of the song we've got a simple indie pop tune. Which is great.

The Truth About Lake Ronkonkama unfolds lazily into a chorus and fuzzy guitars and what sounds like pieces of dialogue from an old film or radio show.

Let's Stay Alive would fit right in a lineup for some indie disco from the early 90's along with the lyrics "in the impossible city the impossible popstar sings". Lovely bass there too.

And you could die for Modulate's guitar solo.

And Between Cafes is sleepy and has got some lovely saxophone and lyrics about a couple wandering through some town like "two filmless filmstars" and the boy saying he needs a diamond ring while his girl needs a speeding car. Where have I heard such twists before? :)

My favourite track is definitely Working Class Jacket, though. It has something of the atmosphere of films like "Pretty in Pink" and all the teenage kitchen drama stories of the 80's. Amazing in its seeming like a movie, really. And apart from all that, it's a great catchy tune.

And for finale You Belong With Us - slow and phantom-nostalgic.

End credits roll.
ad00absurdum: (tumblr - oh god)
And now for something... not that different and yet, colossaly different. A tribute album The Smiths Is Dead. I know the grammar in the title can be correct, but it still makes my inner grammar fascist wince. Much like the majority of the album. Although the sleeve is kinda cool.

cover art of The Smiths Is Dead - a boy with a falcon on his hand

The Queen Is Dead by The Boo Radleys - if the title and the lyrics weren't the same, you'd have no idea it's a cover. I suppose there are really only two ways of going about covering any song: recording either something that's very similar to the original or something that's radically different. The Boo Radleys chose the latter, and kudos to them for that, but the result is simply not that good. Something vaguely trippy and resembling Tricky (or maybe Massive Attack). To give credit where it's due, though, it's still beter than the next song, where the band chose the same approach and completely failed.
There are some interesting samples in here: Big Ben, an angry mob for a moment... Maybe The Boo Radleys should just stick to making their own songs.

Frankly, Mr Shankly by The High Llamas - I don't know what the Smiths did to deserve such an awful thing done to this song. There's nothing left from the original (well, except the lyrics): no lovely bass line, no oomph-drumming (actually, there's no drums at all, just some lame tambourine) and no originality to the song. Yeah, it is a cover, but if it wasn't the composition would be utterly forgettable. Oh wait, it kinda is anyway.
And the vocalist can't sing.

I Know It's Over by The Trash Can Sinatras - I think they attempted to keep a bit of the original melody in here. At least the vocalist did. A little. Very little. The rest wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a cover - sort of lazy, spacy, starry tune that brings to mind old children's rooms filled with toy flying saucers. Also, there's a saxophone somewhere in there.
The singer omitted some lyrics - I'd have to listen again to see what impact it had on the meaning of the song, but that means I'd have to listen to it again. Can you guess I'm not in a hurry?

Never Had No One Ever by Billy Bragg - well, at least most of the bass line is still there, but Bragg could have done without those trumpets and dubious orchestra. Still not entirely bad and not a total failure. Or maybe that's just my liking Billy Bragg speaking.

Cemetry Gates by Frank & Walters - not too sure what to make of that one. Obviously some young band and they probably try. Some Irish indie? Feels like it, but at least it's recognisable. Pity about the bass and the drums, though.

Bigmouth Strikes Again by Placebo - You know, I like Placebo. I really do, but this minimalistic version (thank God it's only the beginning) sucks a bit. The rest is definitely better. That is, apart from the bridge and Molko's singing. He should never attempt singing anything Mozzer's ever sung. But the bass is OK and the drumming too and even the guitars (at least to a point).

The Boy with a Thorn in His Side by Bis - Ouch, that was painful to listen to. A bit of a nightmare or if one wants to be charitable - misunderstanding. I thought they'd do more with that bass they had for a moment, but nope.
And there was also Animal Geographic at the end. WTF, Bis, WTF?

Vicar in a Tutu by Therapy? - Hmm, this band and this song. Not the greatest combination (and the cover reminds me slightly of Bloodhound Gang), but bearable. There's of course nothing of the original melody left, but compared to the previous track, this one is almost good. Also, the vocalist omitted a verse at the end, changing the meaning to waht could be a slightly darker version. Curious.

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Divine Comedy - the only cover on this album I could stand to listen more than once or twice. In fact, I'd even recommend it as a very good track. But then, it's Divine Comedy - almost anything they touch turns poetically gold. Here, you can actually hear the melody of the original, but the song is gentler, more contemplative, filtered through Neil Hannon's musical taste and given his particular touch. A midnight sweet.

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others by Supergrass - I definitely like their bassist - he had a good sense to keep most, or at least some, of the part intact. The cover is very Supergrass-like and definitely not bad. Actually, the second from the album I might listen to a few times more.
ad00absurdum: (tumblr - joy)
Oops, not good at keeping this account updated. But since I'm back in The Smiths camp, why don't I bore you with my scintillating thoughts about their albums too. Shall we start with The Queen Is Dead? Fair warning: not a shred of professionalism, only fanboyish squeeing ahead. I'm sort of done with writing seriously about Smiths albums because that's what I did for a few years on one of the music forums (discussions, discussions) and now it's time for the infatuated dork routine. Also, no points for guessing who's gonna be the object.

The cover art of The Smiths album The Queen Is Dead depicting Alain Delon

The Queen Is Dead - The fist track is something absolutely wonderful. Starting with the vocal sample from some 60's film (I used ro remember which one, but now I'm too lazy to check) and ending with that odd reverberating guitar clang. And the middle is pure beauty. Drumming is especially powerful (ooh that roll at the beginning) and yet not overbearing. And the bass line, OMG, the effing bass line. It sounds amazingly odd, as if it was an outro or some half-hearted plucking, but it works and works beautifully.
Also, Johnny's guitar - he really lets it shine in the middle part and, wow, that's almost a solo in there.
And of course, Morrissey's lyrics - oh so angry and oh so whimsical and oh at times funny too.

Frankly, Mr Shankly - is it music hall or vaudeville? Either way, it's one of the most unusual Smiths' songs. And the bass line accentuates the melody so prettily...
Morrissey in top form as well: classic line about writing 'bloody awful poetry' that would almost make you feel sorry for Geoff Travis if it wasn't so funny.

I Know It's Over - all maudlin and depressing, but sounding so lovely about that. The middle part stands out for it's sliding bass notes and Morrissey's classical whining (which I like, BTW). The outro could be a little shorter, but I'm not really complaining.

Never Had No One Ever - never really liked this particular song. Until the day I started to notice something else beside Mozzer's voice and lyrics, so a bit of acquired taste for me now. Very nice bass line and great drumming, which could be very straightforward and nothing to write home about, and yet Joyce manages to add his own little tricks.

Cemetry Gates - yes, I'm gonna be boring, but the bass line here is a thing to behold - lovely little melody, especially heard in the quieter parts of the song. Also, beautiful outro which may not seem like much but it is great.
Also, love the song for its sun-drenched funeral realism. There aren't many things that bring the joy to the old heart but a cemetery on a sunny day is one of them *is a creep*.

Bigmouth Strikes Again - fuuuuu, those shimmering guitars and the bass holding it all together - Rourkey's work on that one is outstanding. I repeat, OUTSTANDING.

The Boy With the Thorn in His Side - again not one of my favourites, but great guitars on that one. Also, drumming. Covers of this song (well, not only this one, to be honest) somehow never quite manage to capture Joyce's parts. Odd timing, playing against the bassist and unpredictable patterns. Seriously, The Smiths couldn't as for a better drummer to fit them.

Vicar in a Tutu - that bass *drools*. And the lyrics *grins*. And the delicate jangling of the guitar (notice how different it's from the bass line). And the driving/train-like drums. Definitely one of the favoutites.

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out - Andy's distinctive bass in the front is what actually drives the song. You can recognise the track instantly by the bass part alone. The middle contains one of the most beautiful (and recognisable) guitar parts. And who could forget Morrissey's words about that fated double-decker bus and a ten-ton truck? A true classic.

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others - Hhnnnnngggh - that't pretty much all I'm capable of saying about this particular song. One of the most beautiful ones in The Smiths catalogue. The guitars - the strings barely touched and echoing. The bass - so many ghost notes it's unbelievable. And the melancholy of the melody which is oddly juxtaposed with Morrissey's playful lyrics, and yet they wind around one other to create something of a rare beauty.

And in the next post, I'm gonna have a go at "The Smiths Is Dead" - a tribute album by various artists. I bet you're all thrilled, aren't ya :)
ad00absurdum: (Default)
...and begin with Unpopular Opinion Time.

I like Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke and I think they were essential to The Smiths.

And this opinion - which BTW I've held ever since I first heard The Smiths - was prompted by a recent trip down the musical memory lane. For a couple of days now I've been listening to The Smiths' first album and two bootlegs: The Troy Tate Sessions and Asleep (which is a collection of soundchecks from 1985) and, dear Lord, the Joyce/Rourke combo is amazing.

The first thing you hear is that Joyce's drumming is rather unorthodox. This especially can be heard on the Troy Tate recordings and the first album. It's not that he lacks skills, it's just that he didn't know bass drum and bass guitar were supposed to go together. I remember reading an interview with Rourkey once, where he said he actually had to teach Mike that - sort of "when I play this, you play that".* The band collectively even sent him to a teacher at one point, but after a few lessons they decided all that teaching was doing him more harm than good. And to scrap those lessons was their best decision ever. It's wonderful to hear what Joyce could come up with, rules be damned.

Another band that had a drummer who played like that was the Buzzcocks. I seem to remember Joyce saying he was a big fan and learned to play from listening to John Maher (and isn't it beautifully surreal he ended up in a band with another John Maher? :D), so it's natural he wouldn't know how to play "properly" in a band. Cooperating with the bassist? LOL, whuz that?

But that's what made The Smiths unique - right next to Morrissey's voice and lyrics and Marr's guitar, it was the all-over-the-place drumming. The easiest way to tell is listening to any Smiths cover. "What Difference Does It Make?" is a good place to start (the "Hatful of Hollow" version has got some nice tricks) - first original and then comparing it to a cover of your choice. The difference definitely can be heard, unless of course, a drummer chooses to play exactly like Joyce. Although that only happens in cover bands. More's the pity.

And Rourkey - great bassist. I wonder how his career would look like if he got into some funk band. Marr said himself Rourke had an amazing ability to shift into that when they were playing. A great example: "Barbarism Begins at Home" (under the cut to spare your Friend's Page).
Also, listen to the live version of "Rusholme Ruffians" (also under the cut). During gigs they always played the song with the intro from the original "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame" by Presley and you can hear how the bass line changes from something completely flat to a leaping and bounding gem. The unmistakable beauty and greatness of The Smiths' bass lines stemmed largely from the fact that Rourke and Marr treated bass guitar as an actual guitar rather than another metronome.

four vids becuase they were all so awesome I couldn't decide on less )

The Smiths fans, which are really almost always Morrissey's fans, tend to overlook Joyce's and Rourke's contribution to the group. OK, they do ignore this contribution, solely because of the court trial and what Morrissey says, and it's not only unfair, it's plain stupid. They were talented, full-time members of the group, and maybe there was a better way to go about the money share than a court trial, but I can understand Joyce. And I get why Moz feels so betrayed, but not writing down a proper contract - signed by all four members of the group - wasn't the smartest thing to do.

Though a reunion looks like it's definitely too much to ask now. Oh well...

*Fuuuuu, being a fanfic writer is terrible because I can already see the scene in my head and my fingers itch to write.


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