Tuesday

That's all folks

In this form, the blog has run two years, time to pull the plug rather than posting "bubbling unders" that are increasingly less close to the original 100. Image sourced from here.

Two music blogs of mine are up and running, both with YouTube links:

Dutch pop and rock from the 70s.
Exploring classical music.

Thursday

Bubbling under: Angel (Annie Lennox)

This song is listed here in the Annie Lennox (image credit) solo version, but the earlier version of her with the Eurythmics is just as good. The beautiful ballad Angel is a moving song allegedly about her mother ("Underneath this canopy of snow, where fifty-seven winters took their toll") who committed suicide rather than facing a cruel end as cancer patient. Annie re-recorded it solo in 1997, after the death of Princess Diana.

YouTube

Saturday

Bubbling under: Lotte (Stephan Sulke)

The Shanghai born Swiss singer Stephan Sulke (image credit) had some exposure in the Netherlands in 1976 with songs like Lotte and Du machst mir noch mein Herz kaputt, both taken from his debut album Stephan Sulke. Lotte, a common German abbreviation of Charlotte, is a beautiful ballad that describes the feelings over the years between two lovers, from the moment they met years ago, to the first time together, and finally to the uncertainty they feel right now, with the song ending appropriately with "Wo gehen wir nun hin?" (where do we go to now).

YouTube

Tuesday

Bubbling under: After the gold rush (k.d. lang)

It is not often that I hear a cover of a famous song that completely blows the original out of the water. It happened earlier this year when I got hold of Canadian singer k.d. lang's (image credit) 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel. Her take on Neil Young's After the goldrush is breathtakingly beautiful.

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: A whiter shade of pale (Procol Harum)

The 1967 hit A whiter shade of pale by Procol Harum (image credit) is one of those songs everyone knows. Also one of those songs where the most outrageous wrong claims circulate on the internet. I wish I would get a euro for every time I have seen someone claim that this is a cover of Bach's Air. It is not, as a simple side-by-side comparison will show to anyone who has ears. The melody and the harmonies are akin to Bach though, and actually his Sleepers awake would be a stronger case to claim as an inspiration source. A world wide number one, and deservedly so.

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: One way wind (Cats)

For a long time the Cats (image credit), one of many groups to come from the small fishing village of Volendam (hence the term Eel Sound), were the most successful Dutch group in the Dutch charts, with a seemingly endless series of top ten hits. Most of these were rather middle-of-the-road pop songs, with heavy orchestration, and an almost wailing-like singing by Piet Veerman. A beautiful exception to this is their masterpiece One way wind from 1971. Much more subdued than most of their hits, the band lets the song with its great melody speak for itself.

YouTube

Monday

Bubbling under: In the air tonight (Phil Collins)

In hindsight it seems unbelievable how much progressive Genesis fans like me looked forward to the first solo album of Phil Collins (image credit) in 1981. In the end, Face Value was disappointing, consisting mostly of straightforward pop songs, but the macabre hit single In the air tonight was of a much higher calibre. The song is about a man who is drowning whilst another man watches without offering any aid, all of this being witnessed by Collins at a helpless distance. Actually, the song was symbolic for Collins' failing marriage. The instrumentation really makes it work, especially the drums that explode near its finale.

YouTube

Saturday

Bubbling under: Woodstock (Matthews Southern Comfort)

Matthews Southern Comfort (image credit), the band around Ian Matthews, is only remembered nowadays for their one big hit, a cover of Joni Mitchell's great ballad Woodstock, which was a #1 in the UK and a top 20 in the USA in 1970. The song gives a perfect impression of the peace and nature loving Woodstock generation - the finishing lines are amongst the most impressive ever penned: "By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and everywhere there was song and celebration . And I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky , and they were turning into butterflies above our nation . We are stardust , we are golden , and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden".

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: I've seen that face before (Grace Jones)

Model/actress/Singer/Disco queen Grace Jones (image credit) was one of the most remarkable figures of the early eighties' music scene. Most of her works, including the 1981 hit album Nightclubbing, was interesting anti-punk retro-disco, but there is one track in her oeuvre that really stands out. I've seen that face before, a single release from aforementioned album, is an enchanting re-make of Libertango, a tango composed by Argentinean classical music virtuoso Astor Piazzolla, complete with a seductive bridge spoken in French.

YouTube

Thursday

Bubbling under: Don't fear the reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)

The American band Blue Oyster Cult (image credit) were one of the more intelligent hard rock bands from the seventies, and they will always be linked with their absolute masterpiece Don't fear the reaper from the 1976 album Agents of fortune. More subdued than most of their output, the chilling theme is set against a gorgeous melody with a suitably heavier instrumental middle session, which was cut for the single version. Of course, it could have used a bit more cowbell, but hey, nothing is perfect.

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: Send in the clowns (Judy Collins)

American singer/song writer Judy Collins' (image credit) cover of the Stephen Sondheim classic Send in the clowns, from the 1975 album Judith, was a surprise hit single, and it is interesting to note that she beat the likes of Frank Sinatra in creating the best version - by a mile. An excellent regretful ballad, that has not aged one bit.

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: Born to be wild (Steppenwolf)

Born to be wild by Steppenwolf (image credit) is the ultimate biker song, simply begging to be played at top volume on a car radio, whilst trying not to exceed the speed limits. It was a highly successful 1968 single release from their self-titled first album, reaching #2 in the USA. Its subsequent use in the movie Easy Rider further enhanced its popularity, and ensured them their immortal place in pop and rock history. An interesting piece of trivia: the term Heavy Metal is usually thought to be derived from the lyrics of this song ("I like smokin' lightening, heavy metal thunder").

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: Radar love (Golden Earring)

"The road's got me hypnotised and I'm speeding into a new sunrise!".... Surely Radar love is one of the ultimate classic rock songs you love to hear blasting from your car radio - and probably responsible for more than one speeding ticket. Dutch rock giants Golden Earring (image credit) made far more great songs than most people outside Holland are aware of, but this song from the 1973 album Moontan is admittedly their best, with its thriving beat and excellent drumming.

YouTube

Wednesday

Bubbling under: Number nine dream (John Lennon)

After the Beatles split up, all four members embarked on a more or less successful solo career. In general, I prefer Paul McCartney's solo output over the others, but by far the best single post-Beatles song was made by John Lennon (image credit): the soaring Number nine dream from the 1974 album Walls and Bridges. More than any other John Lennon song, this one recalls the Beatles of 1967-1968. Although hitting the top ten in the USA, the song was not very successful as a single in Europe, just missing out on the UK top 20.

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: There is a light that never goes out (Smiths)

The Smiths (image credit) is one of those band that by all that is right I should love - and I don't. I find them OK, but there is only one song that scores higher in my appreciation than those two letters. Their third and best album The Queen is dead from 1986 includes one of the most touching and romantic songs of the eighties: There is a light that never goes out. Morrissey's lyrics are so morbid it hurts: "And if a double-decker bus crashes in to us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die - and if a ten ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine...."

YouTube

Bubbling under: W.O.L.D. (Harry Chapin)

A fatal car accident in 1981 ended the career of Harry Chapin (image credit), one of America's most talented folk singer/song writers. The American #1 hit Cat's in the cradle will always remain his signature tune, but even better in my opinion is W.O.L.D. from the 1974 album Short Stories. The song depicts the attempts of an ageing DJ to get back with the family he left, only to find out that they are not exactly waiting for him. There is surprisingly little real emotion being evoked though, perhaps because the character Chapin portrays in this song is so unsympathetic. Great melody, great echoing sound effects, and a song that really has aged well.

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: Halo of flies (Alice Cooper)

This Alice Cooper (image credit) track from the 1971 album Killer was a most unlikely hit single in the Netherlands in 1973. Halo of flies made the top 10 in the favourite songs of all time that year, as organised by the Dutch pirate radio station Veronica, and the record company yielded to the requests to have the song released as a single - over 8 minutes at a time when 4 minutes was already considered an abnormal length! Actually, with all the instrumental sections and the complicated build-up, this song about espionage is strangely close to progressive rock - an unexpected field for shock rocker Alice Cooper to venture into!

YouTube

Wednesday

Bubbling under: Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)

Canadian singer/song writer Leonard Cohen (image credit) made a stunning debut in 1968 with the album The songs of Leonard Cohen. Especially the tender ballad Suzanne struck a chord with millions world-wide. The very intelligent lyrics, bordering on poetry, go from a deceptively simple love song to religious questioning, set against a perfect melody. Cohen himself has stated that the lead character was inspired by a real woman in Montreal (Suzanne Vaillancourt), who was married to a friend of his, he has explained, so the only opportunity to touch her perfect body was with his mind.

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: Owner of a lonely heart (Yes)

The song that most fans of prog rock superstars Yes (image credit) despise. I am a prog rock fan, and I love it. Of course, Owner of a lonely heart is an order of magnitude more commercial than their previous works, and it is undoubtedly a far cry from progressive rock, but judged by itself it is a great tune, with a fantastic production, and showing all the musicianship that the band members are justifiably renowned for. Both the single and the album 90125 were world-wide hits in 1983 and firmly put Yes on the map.

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: Ultimo entardecer (Bacamarte)

Few prog rock albums are so good and yet so unknown as the 1983 classic Depois do fim (After the end) by Brazilian band Bacamarte (image credit). The absolute highlight on this album is the 9 minute epic Ultimo entardecer (Last twilight), with tremendous guitar works, including notes that will haunt you forever once you heard them, as well as an amazing keyboard/guitar exchange that seems to come straight from a Genesis album in terms of style. The fantastic vocals by Jane Duboc contribute to the unique sound of this band - both the clarity of her voice, and the singing in Portuguese.

YouTube

Friday

Bubbling under: Pastorale (Liesbeth List & Ramses Shaffy)

Dutch song writer Lennaert Nijgh is mostly known for the songs of Boudewijn de Groot, who always contributed the music. This combo saved one of their best compositions for singer/cabaret artist Liesbeth List and actor/singer Ramses Shaffy (image credit). The 1968 song Pastorale (Pastoral) is a beautiful duet, in which Liesbeth sings the lines of the little girl in love with the sun, whilst Ramses sings the lines of the sun, trying to convince her that this is an impossible love. Beautiful lyrics, as usual with Nijgh, bordering on poetry. Excellent melody to boot.

YouTube

Sunday

Bubbling under: Streets of London (Ralph McTell)

Folk singer Ralph McTell (image credit) will always be linked to his one great success: the touching ballad Streets of London, which has been recorded more than 200 times by artists ranging from soul diva Aretha Franklin to the punk group Anti-Nowhere League. Five years after the release of the first acoustic version on the 1969 Spiral Staircase album, a re-recording of the song reached the #2 spot in the UK top40. This better-known version is the one I prefer myself.

YouTube

Tuesday

Bubbling under: Ferry, cross the Mersey (Gerry and the Pacemakers)

In the shadow of the Beatles, many other Liverpool bands raced to stardom in the mid sixties. Perhaps the most talented of those was Gerry and the Pacemakers (image credit), who will always be remembered for their anthem You never walk alone, an eternal favourite with the Liverpool football club fans. Even better is their 1965 tribute to the Liverpool river the Mersey, a sentimental strings-accompanied ballad, way different from most uplifting Merseybeat songs.

YouTube

Thursday

Bubbling under: Over de muur (Klein Orkest)

The eighties saw probably the most tension between East and West since the Cuba Crisis. Several of my favourite pop/rock songs were inspired by that situation. This song by 't Klein Orkest (image credit) is the only Dutch one of the bunch. Over de muur (Over the [Berlin] wall) describes life in East and West Berlin. It is a critical song, trying to find good and bad on both sides, but the recurring image in the lyrics of the birds who fly over the wall, because they sometimes want to be in the East and sometimes in the West, is incredibly strong. When this was a hit in Holland, no-one would have believed that five years later the wall would fall!

YouTube

Saturday

Bubbling under: My immortal (Evanescence)

The 2003 album Fallen by Evanescence (image credit) is one of the most impressive debut albums of this century. They have often been compared to Linkin Park, but they are far superior. The Amazon review characterisation ("evoking Tori Amos and the Cranberries") is much more to the point and explains why I like this group so much. It is intelligent dramatic goth-influenced rock music, and singer Amy Lee has a really amazing voice. The highlight of the album is the moving ballad My immortal, which was also included in the soundtrack to The daredevil.

YouTube

Wednesday

Bubbling under: I don't like Mondays (Boomtown Rats)

Bob Geldof will of course always be remembered by the various concerts he has arranged to help the poor in the Third World. It would not be fair though to forget that he was a great pop/rock musician in his own right as lead singer of the Irish band Boomtown Rats (image credit). With a sound that flirted a bit with the punk movement, but still far too musical to be ranked under that category, their main claim to fame is the 1979 song I don't like Mondays. It is based on 17 year old Brenda Spencer from San Diego who shot 11 people, killing two of them. When asked why, she replied with, "I Don't Like Mondays, and I thought this would brighten up the day." The single went to the #1 spot in the UK, but burned out quickly in the USA where the subject was probably too close to home for comfort.

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