Sunday, June 29, 2008

Because A Friend Asked... Sort Of

Friend: “So Neil, how about listing seven songs you’re into at the moment? No matter the genre, whether they have words or even if they’re any good but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, you know, shaping your Spring?”
Neil: “Shaping my Spring? What am I, the new man-candy presenter of The f#cking Beechgrove Garden?”
Friend: “Stop being such a bloody misery guts and just do it.”
Neil: “Can I just list seven songs off Outlandos D’Amour?”
Friend: “No.”
Neil: “Oh alright then. But just this once mind.”

Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind
I highlighted this a couple of weeks ago but it’s worth saying again; his new album “22 Dreams” is absolutely fantastic and gets better on every listening. Seeing him sing this song on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ (as well as playing that gorgeous Fender Telecaster – my number one must-have-but-can’t-afford desire right now) was the trigger that made me “log on” to iTunes and “download” (is that how you say it?) the album straight away. Exactly what the interweb was invented for.

The Raconteurs – Salute Your Solution
I didn’t know this was Jack White’s ‘other’ band (not that I have a clue about The White Stripes either) until a pal recommended I listen to their latest album “Consoler Of The Lonely”. It’s still growing on me but I like this song in particular because whenever I hear it, I picture Keith Richards playing the guitar riff… man.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida
It seems to have become very fashionable to despise Coldplay, sometimes with an irrational intensity based solely on Chris Martin’s hair / dancing / shy speaking voice / wife / kids’ names etc. Even my gentle pal Dave told me recently he’d purchased their new album “in a moment of weakness” and went on to say that it’s “just like their other stuff” which I took as a good thing because, pardon me, but I think they’re absolutely brilliant. As a songwriter (hark at me!) I think a memorable melody trumps less-than-Shakespearean lyrics and this band deliver on that front every time. I saw them play at a festival in Texas a few years back and they are phenomenal live so now I can’t wait to go and see them again in Glasgow in December, a gig for which I have a spare ticket if anyone (and by “anyone” I mean “hot, single female”) is interested?

Sheryl Crow – Love Is Free
This song is probably not my favourite from her recent album “Detours” but it’s insanely catchy and is the very definition of a song that’s “shaping my Spring”. I saw her play in Glasgow on Friday night (have I mentioned the kiss-blowing?) and let me tell you there’s nothing hotter than a 40-something rock chick with a Fender Telecaster slung low across her slender hips. (I wonder if she fancies going to see Coldplay?) And in this video she reminds me of someone rather special.

Justin Currie – What Is Love For?
When I first heard them back in the late 80s, Del Amitri were the band I always hoped The Signals would become. Cool, acoustic-based rock ‘n roll, joyously delivered by good-looking Scottish musicians with a dry sense of humour and just the right amount of facial hair and flowing locks. (Now that I think about it, THAT is the answer I should’ve given during my High School careers interview when asked about how I saw my life unfolding. Rather than, “Um, dunno… something involving pizza?”) They should’ve been HUGE in the States instead of being limited to that one hit “Roll To Me” (perhaps their weakest single) which happened to be on various film soundtracks and is still a much loved standard in shopping mall food courts across America.

Former front man Justin Currie is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest ever singer-songwriters and this title song from last year’s debut solo album continues his tradition of producing lasting, heart-wrenching odes to love and loss. Last night I went to see him play a terrific show in a little venue called Oran Mor in Glasgow. He was funny, shy, nervous at times but happily attempted to perform spontaneous requests from the audience, not always with a successful conclusion which only enhanced the overall experience ten-fold. He’s got more than a bit of an insecure streak and reading some of his thoughts on his (and Del Amitri’s) MySpace sites will want to make you give him a hug. (In case you’re wondering, I refrained from rushing the stage last night.) Great song, great album, can’t wait for the next one.

[Interesting aside: Oran Mor is a converted church that sits on the corner of the busy junction of Byres Road and Great Western Road in Glasgow. This is the EXACT location I’ve always pictured in my head when hearing the lyrics “Now the traffic lights change to stop when there’s nothing to go, and by five o’clock everything’s dead, and every third car is a cab...” from Del Amitri’s 1989 song “Nothing Ever Happens”. Spooky huh?]

The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
The Signals are currently going through a phase of finding and rehearsing new cover versions and this one is on the short list after being suggested by powerhouse bass player Donald “Now Where Did I Put My Readers?” Campbell. I have to admit I had little time for The Killers (or is it just ‘Killers’?) until I saw them on television last year at Abbey Road studios doing a spine-tingling rendition of Dire Straits’s “Romeo & Juliet”. So I now have both albums and it turns out they’re not that bad after all. Who knew?

FYI – other artists whose songs we’re considering include Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Counting Crows, Train, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Foo Fighters, KT Tunstall, The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Bon Jovi (f#cking-A!), Take That (yes, really!) AND…

Bruce Springsteen – I'll Work For Your Love
In my book this is flawless songwriting. From the piano intro and snappy snare drum announcing the rockin’ first verse with glorious descending bass, there is absolutely no blemish or waste in this song. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus (with lyrics in the best story-telling tradition), 8-bar harmonica solo, Middle-8, take it down a notch for the first two lines of the third verse and then crank it up for the final extended chorus all the way through to a ‘proper’ ending. Three and a half minutes of absolute musical perfection. His last album “Magic” has been in my car since I got it last year and shows no signs of being permanently usurped by any other.

And that’s that… seven of the best. In case you missed it (Dad?) clicking on the underlined blue words above will take you to some videos/song extracts on the You Tube. So anyway, what’ve you been listening to lately?


At 29/6/08 10:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, thank you.

The mighty Killers have 3 albums, not 2

Claimed, that tickets mine

At 29/6/08 4:17 pm, Blogger Neil said...

Well excuse ME... pointing out my musical stupidity is not really the way to earn yourself a Coldplay ticket... although I can think of other talents that would...

At 29/6/08 8:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My talents are yours, you know that

At 1/7/08 10:54 am, Blogger Donald said...

Soaps, sorry about Saturday - things have settled a bit.
Also - kinda wish I'd checked out Sheryl, mmmm - sexy chick with a Tele!!!

Coldplay - don't get them at all , don't seem like proper rockers , I mean who cares about the planet really?

PW - see SC comment & amend accordingly.

The Raconteurs - bet Keef is playing the riff on a Telecaster.

It's THE Killers & don't you forget.

Justin Currie - spooky - that's exactly the place I imagined too - no kidding. Maybe something to do with staggerering back to the flat shared with Mr Handsome Grant in the early hours. Who was that shady chap with impressive sidies sittting on the wall strumming a few chords? ... and why didn't he respond well to " geesa song/shot o' yir guitar pal!!!"

Did you get the chance to ask Justin about his old bass in his ex girlfriend's mother's loft who an old work mate of mine is related to & is it ok for me to have it? No?

Cheers DC


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