Regular readers of this blog know that I occasionally put together three songs as a sort of mini-set. But then I sometimes do six tunes by one artist. Given that it’s the end of the year and I have this huge backlog of songs I want to post on, I hope you’ll not mind indulging me if I do six tunes by six different artists, some of which I’ve been wanting to post since roughly Year One.
By the end of the 70s, Aerosmith was one of the most popular rock bands in the world. But as Wikipedia put it, “drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which led to the departures of (Joe) Perry and (Brad) Whitford in 1979 and 1981,” However an alternate history on Perry’s page says, “Fed up with the slow pace of the recording of Night in the Ruts and frustrated with the band’s precarious financial situation, Perry left Aerosmith in the spring of 1979.” (Pick your favorite version.)
Wasting no time at all, in 1980 guitarist Perry formed The Joe Perry Project. They released their debut album Let the Music Do the Talking in March of that year. The title track is nothing more or less than a kick-ass slab of greasy rock ‘n roll with some great guitar work and lead vocals. Aerosmith did this later but I like this version better. (Perry has had some health issues lately so here’s hoping it’s just a one-time thing and he keeps rockin’ in the free world.)
Levon Helm died in 2012 aged 71. But he had for years been doing solo stuff and performing at the Midnight Ramble in his home in Woodstock. In addition to having these somewhat loose jams just for the sheer hell of it, he also was using them as money raisers for his illnesses.
In June of 2009, his final album Electric Dirt was released and we can reliably say that Levon went out with a bang. Per Wikipedia, “In Uncut‘s list of the 150 best albums between 2000 through 2009, Electric Dirt was listed 80th. It won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, an inaugural category in 2010.”
From that album, here’s a funky-as-hell tune called “When I Go Away”:
Tanita Tikaram was born in Germany and moved to England when she was a teenager. She started singing in nightclubs and came to the attention of Warner Brothers Records who signed her to a contract.
Her debut album Ancient Heart was co-produced by the Zombies’ Rod Argent. Of this album, AllMusic says she, “created a melancholy and wistful work, mature beyond her years, of startling originality and honesty. While this album may be considered folkish and artsy, it never stoops to the clichés that dominated those styles of music in the later Lilith Fair years.”
The song “Twist in my Sobriety” was an international hit and certainly one of the most unusual ever. Of the lyrics, Tikaram says, the song “is really about not understanding – when you’re 18, you’ve got a very particular emotional relationship with the world, you feel very isolated, and everybody else is so distant and cold. And I think I was singing about not feeling anything or not being moved by things around. I think this is a strong feeling when you’re just after adolescence.”
This song haunts me. I think there’s more going on in these lyrics than she’s admitting to:
Who doesn’t love at least one Crowded House song? Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1985 by New Zealander Neil Finn (currently touring as a member of Fleetwood Mac) and Australians Paul Hester and Nick Seymour, they became a very popular band. (Neil’s brother Tim joined later.) This band had – (has? are they still together?) a great melodic pop/rock feel.
The band’s name was originally the Mullanes but “at Capitol’s behest, the band’s name was changed to Crowded House, which alluded to the lack of space at the small Hollywood Hills house they shared during the recording of the album Crowded House.”
How can you not love “Don’t Dream It’s Over?” It’s impossible not to. It’s a near-perfect match of music and lyrics:
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me
Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win
“Damn! Wish I Was Your Lover.” Boy, that’s a powerful statement. If a woman said that to me – even if it could never, ever happen – I don’t know about you but that would totally make my week. It’s not bloody likely to happen but that’s why we have dreams I think. (All that said, I believe she was singing to another woman, an unrequited lover. But, see my previous statement on dreams.)
From Sophie B. Hawkins’ (pictured at top of post) website: “Born and raised in New York City, Sophie has always been an artist at heart. After attending Manhattan School of Music as a percussionist for nearly a year, Sophie left to pursue a professional music career.
She got her big break playing percussion for Bryan Ferry, and after he fired her she was inspired to write the hit single “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.” Her first album, Tongues and Tails, full of primal, fiery pop, was an immediate success, earning her a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist.”
They say the video was too hot for MTV back in the day. Never saw it but chances are it’s tame enough by today’s standards to be used in a TV commercial:
Wikipedia: Stephen William Bragg (born 20 December 1957) is an English singer-songwriter and far left-wing political activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock, and protest songs, with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is heavily centered on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes.
Historically, the Great Leap Forward was a Chinese Communist Party late 50s campaign to try to change the country from an agrarian society to a socialist one but instead wound up causing the Great Chinese Famine. One has to believe that Bragg was aware of this but instead used the phrase in a more personal sense for his song, “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards.”
He described it as his way of “owning up to the ambiguities of being a political pop star while stating clearly that he still believed in Sam Cooke’s promise that a change was gonna come.”
Regardless, it’s a great, catchy tune with a killer chorus: