Tag Archives: Music

Week 27 – TBT 2017 – Channel Z

I mentioned earlier this year that I love the vocals on songs by the B52s, and this is a brilliant example of them.  It’s not just the harmonies, but also the lyrics themselves that I like.  The words and topics on their songs always seem to me to be “out there”, not quite what you’d call “normal”. In this example, who would have thought to use an umbrella to protect themselves from space dust falling from the sky?  And where’s my umbrella anyway?

Their big breakthrough number the UK was Rock Lobster, and I pretty much got on board with their music then. Songs like Strobe Light and June Bug are just a load of fun, and of course Love Shack is now a classic.  I’m glad to include something a little less well known here.  

B52s – Channel Z

Week 25 – TBT 2017 – Waterfront

Simple Minds are another one of those bands that I didn’t like, then I liked for a while, then I didn’t like them again. Now I can listen to a couple of their songs at a time, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to hear a whole album, and I doubt I’d try to see them in conert again. I went once, but was at the very back of the SECC in Glasgow and couldn’t really see them. And it took longer to get out of the car park than the gig had gone on for!

Anyhow, I chose this track because it shows that bass lines don’t have to be complicated to be effective, and I don’t think you can get much simpler than playing one note over and over! 

I hope you enjoy this blast from the past: it doesn’t seem to get played on the radio as often as some of their other tracks but is very worthy. This is the only one of their singles I bought (on 12″) and I don’t think I’ve any of their albums on vinyl.

Simple Minds – Waterfront

The tracks of my years

image

I thought I’d try to compile a playlist of songs that represent me, or that speak to me on some level, so here goes.  They’re in no particular order.

  1. Gone Cold by Clutch. Probably the first “new” band I’ve heard in a long time, though I’ve since found out that they’ve been going since the early 90s. I listen to podcasts a lot when I’m driving, and one work related podcast features this song as the intro and outro music. It has a lovely, laid back feel to it, with vocals which drawl gently through the opening lines, but which reveal more of an edge when singing the lines around the song title.  I think I am also pretty laid back most of the time, but can be steely as and when necessary.
  2. Doesn’t Make it All Right by The Specials. When you’re growing up in a pretty much exclusively white rural town in the Scottish lowlands, a song which is very much anti-racist sends a strong message,  This song combines one of my favoured music genres (ska) with a conviction that I felt strongly at the time and still do. Oh, and my favourite band, SLF, do an awesome version of it.
  3. Boogie Chillun by John Lee Hooker. Cut down, raw blues with a wonderful hook, this song is just brilliant. the lyrics, about a child’s desire to break free and get lost in their music at times exactly how I feel.  I go through peaks and troughs, and at their height I just want to be enveloped in listening to and playing great music.
  4. Born On The Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival. OK, I’m not entirely sure what a bayou is, and I’ve no idea what shoogling is (it’s one of the words in the lyrics), but this song has a similar sort of feel to me as number 1 above does.  It’s quite chilled, but at the same time full of a sort of restless energy which breaks out from time to time.
  5. Panic Song by Green Day. This song is not long, and it’s not complex: but the intro is nothing more than a build up of energy which eventually explodes into action. In a lot of respects, my anger is like that: it takes a long long time to build, then (and only very rarely) does it get released.
  6. Soul Man by Sam and Dave This mostly made the cut because a) the Blues Brothers did it, b) it’s a fab time and c) they say “play it Steve” (to Steve Cropper) and I am a Steve!
  7. Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet. Again, Steve gets a mention, this time in the intro, but I chose this because it was one of the first songs I remember by a band I used to really like. I think this and Teenage Rampage probably laid the path for me to follow in terms of melodic music with a strong drum line.
  8. White Noise by Stiff Little Fingers. As with The Specials number above, this is very much an anti-racist number, though oddly enough when it first came out radio stations refused to play it because it has a derogatory w-word in every chorus. If they’d checked the lyrics they’d have seen that it was protesting about discrimination for whatever reason, whether race, colour, creed or nationality. What a great message!
  9. In The Hall Of The Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. I’m half Norwegian, half Scottish, and this is written by a Norwegian composer whose parents were Scots and has our hero encountering giants in their home.
  10. Donald Where’s Yir Troosers by Andy Stewart. This is a none too serious look at what it’s like to be a Scot from the sticks, and particularly when they venture down into the big city of London.  I’m a Scot who made the move from a rural part of the country away to England and to a big down. Oh, and if you want an Elvis impression, there’s one on here too – uh huh!

This was harder than I had expected, but I think I got there in the end. I hope you like the list!

When not Writing I…

…spend a lot of my time writing!

image

My work means that I spend a lot of time on a keyboard, whether it’s in answering emails, writing documentation, reviewing someone else’s documents or other things like that.  I’m not a full time Writer, and what I do on this blog is entirely for my pleasure. I find it a way of managing my thoughts, of making order out of the myriad of things going on in my head, and in some cases even making sense of the world around me.  I don’t believe I’ll ever be a published author (because I don’t think I’ll ever try), and I’m never sure how many people actually read my blog anyway.

So, when I’m not writing for work, or Writing for pleasure, how do I fill the time and why?  Family takes up a lot of time, and I love spending my days and nights with them.  We like to go on day trips, road trips, afternoons out, to all sorts of places and for a number of different activities.  Dee and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in bookshops, and are continually seeking out interesting volumes on a wide range of topics, though rarely fiction.  That’s because one of our other favourite pastimes is reading: we’ve always got several books on the go at once.

Other than those, my main distraction is generally music, whether listening to it or playing bass. That and walking I find helps clear my mind, to simply be, and they help me to return to every day life refreshed and full of new ideas.

If I had extra time, would I write more?  I don’t think so.  I enjoy the time I spend writing my blog articles, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs, but I think if I had more time I’d find other ways of spending it.  My diverse ideas are finite and I wouldn’t want to get to the end of them too soon!  I’d like to spend that extra time becoming more adept at mindful meditation, and practicing mindfulness.  I’d like to be more thoughtful – or at least, less thoughtless. I’d probably try to complete a Tai Chi course we’ve been signed up for for ages, and I’d like to try yoga, though as a tall 50 year old slightly overweight bloke with very little flexibility, I think it would take me years even to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees!

Top bass players and bass lines

Dee and I have been making lists of all sorts of things which we’d like to do as a 30 day challenge.  (She’s just coming to the end of a month without refined sugar or sweeteners, and I’m about to embark on a month without coffee.)

image

Though not a challenge, I thought I’d list a number of bass players and a separate list of tracks with great bass lines.  This is because, well, I’m a bass player and I like songs with kicking bass lines!  These lists are in no particular order, just go and check them out: at least some will make your hair stand on end if you concentrate on the bass line. Note, most are best played very loud!

Bass players

  • Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
  • John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
  • John Enwistle (The Who)
  • Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Donald “Duck” Dunn (Booker T and the MGs, Blues Brothers, Stax house band)
  • James Jamerson (Motown house band)
  • Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
  • Jack Bruce (Cream)
  • Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Bass lines

  • Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
  • Sweet Home Chicago (Blues Brothers)
  • I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
  • Crossroads (Cream)
  • Hysteria (Muse)
  • Money (Pink Floyd)
  • Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble)
  • Pump It Up (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
  • Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Ian Dury and the Blockheads)
  • Good Times (Chic)

There are so many to choose from, it’s really hard not to just keep adding players and songs!

 

The Clown and The Wolfman – Image #128

image

During the late 70s and early 80s, there were a number of light romantic comedies which were set in Scotland. Many people will be familiar with Local Hero or Gregory’s Girl, but how many of you have heard of, never mind seen, this one?

I went to see this at the cinema when it came out. It tells the story of two young lads in Edinburgh who decide to supplement their incomes by robbing tourist buses. The Clown gets in with a “real” gangster and becomes hell-bent on making a name for himself in the criminal underworld. The Wolfman falls for a courier on one of the buses they rob. Much of the film is shot in the Highlands of Scotland which makes it feel like a tourism commercial. Throw in seemingly incompetent police and wannabe fan club members and you get a charming film.

It’s not complicated or sophisticated, and you can see the plot lines from a mile off, yet no one left the cinema till after the credits had stopped rolling: I’ve never known that happen before or since.  And the reason? The whole soundtrack was written and performed by Big Country. It’s a wonderful piece of work and even now I love listening to it.

 

Sounds good – Image #107

image

Its been a good day today. Very lazy, but then sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. I spent ages this morning putting new strings on my latest bass: that was mostly because I wanted to clean it really well since I’ve no idea who else has played it or what they’d done to it.

Of the pedals above, I don’t need the Babe Attractor, as I’ve already got one. The others though? I’ll leave others to judge!