Sunday, June 15, 2008

music: No Doubt and TAFKAP (Prince)

No Doubt's Rock Steady is just an average set of electro-jams and beats with various producers. Until track 12, "Waiting Room", sneaks in. Hard, nervous, desperate, edgy, erotic, then it rolls into a gorgeous descending melodic chorus “All I can do is wait for you” that perfectly contrasts everything else in the song. Way better than anything else on the album.

Love Symbol #2 of The Artist Formerly Known As PrinceCheck the credits: Written by {symbol} and No Doubt; produced by {symbol}; keyboards, background vocal: {symbol}. No more explanation needed!

Another hidden gem for my list of killer B-sides (does anyone know what “B-side” means any more?). I should track down everything the purple one has ever done, he's an inspired collaborator.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

music: of course Cocteau Twins B-sides

While we were tossing lots o' songs onto the Sanyo MM-9000 phone/music player, "Watchlar" showed up. How could I have overlooked the Cocteau Twins' CD Single Box Set when discussing B-sides and hidden gems? Or their lovely Twinlights EP?

In an interview The Artist Who Was Then Known As Prince said he was listening to Cocteau Twins. I went out the next day and bought "Blue Bell Knoll", and soon most everything else they've recorded. Amazon's "Recommended for you" is pretty useless, I just want to know the music to which my heroes are listening.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

music: Scritti Politti, B-sides and other hidden gems

I post a lot about overlooked music from the 70's, but everybody knows music peaked in the 80's.

I found and joined the Scritti Politti group on Yahoo to try to track down a quote about Green and David Gamson having the microscopes turned to 100x for "Cupid & Psyche 85" and "Provision", but only to 10x for "Anomie and Bonhomie". Unfortunately no one came through, but it's interesting to follow the upswing in interest on the 20th (gulp!) anniversary of "Cupid & Psyche 85".

Another topic that came up was "World Come Back to Life", my favorite B side of all time. There's no experience finer than discovering a hidden gem. I always wonder what other songs got away, transcendant songs I'll never hear because I didn't buy the 12-inch import single or the rarities compilation or whatever. It's easy to get obsessive and track down obscure tracks just in case one turns out to be the one; in the case of Scritti Politti I bought Al Jarreau's distinctly average "L is for Lover" album just for the Green/Gamson track, and it's not that good despite Nile Rodgers production.

In no particular order, here's a list of killer B sides and rarities. These are why God and Roy Gandy created the Rega Planar 3 turntable, so you can flip the vinyl over and unearth buried treasure.
World Come Back to Life, Scritti Politti
B side of "Boom! There She Was". The nastiest kiss-off lyrics Green ever wrote, probably why it wasn't on "Provision".

(Don't) Turn Me Away, Rexy
I heard it twice on Radio One, I had to special order it. The saddest strangest song, ending with the chant "It's a fact. that I live. with" Their album has another great song, "So you wanna be alien too".

Love's Taboo, Cube
An Italian 12-inch. Amazingly atmospheric

The Yearning Loins, Prefab Sprout
I got this as an extra track on the USA CD of Two Wheels Good (aka Steve McQueen). Buy that record! for Paddy McAloon's songs and the masterful Thomas Dolby production, then keep listening for this insanely syncopated and energetic track. And it's from 1984, the high point of Western civilization.

Don't Throw My Love Around, Cooly's Hot Box
This is on a fine compilation of acid jazz tracks, "Giant Steps, Vol. 1". The funkiest percussion (timbales?) I've ever heard. I've bought several really average acid jazz compilations since, hoping for the same magic.

Radio Arabesque, Arabesque
Goofy, vaguely atmospheric song, I heard it once on the radio and it stuck in my mind. I think it's by Arabesque, but there's no clip available.

The sad thing is that no extant rating system can find these songs. By definition they're unpopular because of their rarity, meanwhile Amazon has degenerated into 90% 5-star ratings from rabid fans, 5% 4-star ratings from honest fans, and 5% 1-star ratings from people who never liked the artist or have a grudge.

The sweetest sounds you've never heard... sounds like a Green lyric.

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