lørdag 24. desember 2011

Erik's musical Advent calendar: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Colorado Christmas

Finally, the 24th and last window of Erik's musical Advent calendar! Of course it contains my all-time favourite Christmas song, which incidentally is a cover, but that doesn't matter at all. Steve Goodman originally wrote "Colorado Christmas", a melancholy song about staying in Los Angeles and missing Colorado and the Christmas celebrations of the narrator's past. The line "The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere, is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow" is pretty descriptive of the mood of the song, and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's performance is incredible. Although I haven't heard Goodman sing the original I can't imagine that it's better than this version. I'm not sure exactly when Nitty Gritty Dirt Band first recorded it (the first time I heard it was on an 80's country Christmas compilation), but in 1997 they released A Christmas Album where "Colorado Christmas" was the first - and best - track. Merry Christmas, everyone!


fredag 23. desember 2011

Erik's musical Advent calendar: The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale Of New York

This may actually be the all time greatest Christmas single, so why do you get it in window 23 and not in 24 of Erik's musical Advent calendar, you may ask...? That's because I have a personal favourite that clouds my otherwise excellent judgement, pushing "Fairytale Of New York" (1987) back one spot. You'll get that tomorrow, but for now please enjoy the talents of The Pogues, their singer Shane MacGowan and the sadly deceased Kirsty MacColl, one of pop music's greatest singer/songwriters.

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torsdag 22. desember 2011

Devo - Whip It

It had been a long time since last I heard Devo's "Whip It" before it was played in a record shop I visited some days ago. What a gloriously catchy song this is. This is the American new wave band's biggest hit, reaching number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.

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Erik's musical Advent calendar: Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?

Paul Young, Boy George, Phil Collins, George Michael, Simon Le Bon, Sting, Tony Hadley, Bono, Paul Weller... and those are just the first you see and hear in the charity classic "Do They Know It's Christmas?" from 1984, credited to Band Aid. The song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, and was a vehicle to raise awareness of and money for the famine that had hit Ethiopia so severely. It sold a staggering one million copies in the UK in the first week alone, and became the biggest sellling single in the UK singles chart history, staying at number 1 for five weeks. It's also one of the songs I need to hear repeatedly every December, because it's so incredibly good! Here you are then, window number 22 in Erik's musical Advent calendar!

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onsdag 21. desember 2011

Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - Home For The Holidays

This one slipped the net, but should have been part of Erik's musical Advent calendar. As the last three spots there are taken, consider Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler's "Home For The Holidays" a "bonus window". Emmy (born Emma-Lee Moss) is an English singer/songwriter and Tim Wheeler is her boyfriend and frontman of Ash. They have recorded an excellent Christmas album entitled This Is Christmas, and "Home For The Holidays" is the one they made a video for, the kind of song they used to call a single a hundred years or so ago... Yes, I'm old! But never mind that, enjoy this song, it's brilliant Christmas pop. You can't not be happy upon hearing this!

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Amalie Øvstedal - Sing To Me

15 year Amalie Øvstedal is from a small place in Norway called Vestnes in Møre og Romsdal, and gained some attention from people in the music business after putting out some clips of herself singing on YouTube. According to a press release they were impressed by her "beautiful and mature voice given her young age". Her debut single is a Christmas song called "Sing To Me", a wonderful little ballad written by Silje Golden Haavet, Christian Hesselberg and Rudi Myntevik, and was produced by Rune Berg, who used to be in the sadly disbanded The Margarets and also is a current member of Number Seven Deli which is an excellent Norwegian pop band. A few days ago Amalia performed the song live in church and you can see the clip here. It's pretty good, if you ask me.

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Free Christmas song from new supergroup here

Diamond Rugs is the name of a new supergroup, or sort of supergroup anyway. Composed of members from Deer Tick, The Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Six Finger Satellite and Los Lobos I guess the line-up could be more impressive, but their debut release is a Christmas single, available as free download. It's an "ironic" track called "Christmas In A Chinese Restaurant" and it's a pretty little song, with a funny video to boot. You can watch the video and download the track from the Rolling Stone website.

Diamond Rugs

Erik's musical Advent calendar: Lyle Lovett - The Girl With The Holiday Smile

In window number 21 of Erik's musical Advent calendar there's a brand new Christmas blues song by the great Texan singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett. He's just released a digital only Christmas EP with three songs called Songs For The Season, and the stand-out track is the Lovett original "The Girl With The Holiday Smile". The girl in question is a hooker that the narrator meets at a grocery store, telling him she "looks so good beneath a Christmas tree", a typically ironic Lyle Lovett song that in its own weird way is a true delight. A great addition to the Christmas songs we know and love, this is a future classic!


tirsdag 20. desember 2011

Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

How cool can rock music possibly become? "Gimme Shelter", the 1969 single that also opened Rolling Stones' great Let It Bleed album is probably the epitome of cool in rock. I rest my case!


Thåström - Fanfanfan

Former Ebba Grön and Imperiet singer Joakim Thåström is now a pretty successful solo artist, and his single "Fanfanfan" ("Damn Damn Damn") was his first number one on his native Swedish single charts. It was the lead single from his fantastic 2005 album Skebokvarnsv. 209, and is a beautiful and bitter ballad, with a sparse and naked arrangement. Brilliant stuff!


Nanci Griffith with John Prine - Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness

For her tenth album Other Voices, Other Rooms (1993), Nanci Griffith made a brilliant decision, namely to record some of her favourite songs and enlisting help from some of her favourite performers. The album's poignant title is borrowed from Truman Capote's debut novel which she poses with on the front cover. Among the very best of the 17 songs on the album is Griffith's version of John Prine's beautiful "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness", featuring harmony vocals by the great man himself.


Gilbert O'Sullivan - We Will

The Irish singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan were successful with early 70's hit singles such as "Alone Again (Naturally)" and "Clair", but should be listened to a bit more closely as he wrote lots of other good songs as well. "We Will" is an excellent case in point. It's his second UK Top 20 single, released in the summer of 1971, a song from which Elton John has "borrowed" a small part for his epic "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" from the 1975 album Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy". This is simply a very pretty song. Please enjoy!

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Brand new Paul McCartney track here: My Valentine

Paul McCartney's new, still untitled album, will be released at the start of February, featuring an assortment of covers of songs that has helped shape his career, both as a Beatle and as a solo artist. The track list is yet to be revealed, but the album will be rounded out by two brand new McCartney compositions called "Only Our Hearts", to feature a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder, and "My Valentine" with a little help from the guitar playing genius of Eric Clapton. It is streamed on McCartney's Soundcloud page now.


Erik's musical Advent calendar: Wham! - Last Christmas

Finally, here's one of the greatest Christmas pop songs ever recorded, and I am not being even remotely ironic. "Last Christmas" by Wham! is one of the all-time classics, written by pop genius George Michael and released for Christmas in 1984. The music video is a classic too. It's as cheesy as humanly possible, and if you can't see the fun in that, too bad for you. (As you can see, the original single cover is not bad either.) I need to hear this song a number of times each year, and it never fails to put me in a very good mood. So here you are, window number 20 of Erik's musical Advent calendar.

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mandag 19. desember 2011

Lene Marlin - You Weren't There

Norwegian singer/songwriter Lene Marlin debuted with the album Playing My Game in 1999, featuring the European hit singles "Sitting Down Here" and "Unforgivable Sinnner". It took her four years to finally release the follow-up album Another Day. That was spearheaded by the wonderful "You Weren't There", a melancholy pop song to match anything on her debut, and in other words, well worth waiting for.

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Erik's musical Advent calendar: Low - Just Like Christmas

Today, in window 19 of Erik's musical Advent calendar, we're close to home when the American band Low sings their wonderful tour song "Just Like Christmas" from 1999. On their way from Stockholm it starts to snow, but when they've reached Oslo with their tous bus the snow is gone. Still, it's just like Christmas...


søndag 18. desember 2011

Eagles - Tequila Sunrise

Eagles' "Tequila Sunrise" is one of the best country-rock songs ever recorded, a mellow and decidedly "soft" little song, written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and sung by Frey, for the band's sophomore 1973 album Desperado. It's extremely tastefully arranged and performed, one of their very best songs.


Foreigner - I Want To Know What Love Is

Why not play what may be the mother of all power ballads now? I have to admit that I detested Foreigner's 1984 monster hit "I Want To Know What Love Is" when it appeared in 1984, but I love it today. What a fantastic song this is!

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Erik's musical Advent calendar: Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry

Although the music video for Jona Lewie's fantastic "Stop The Cavalry" (1980) is set to the trenches of the First World Was, where the fighting troops actually had a short ceasefire on Christmas Day, the song's narrator is according to Lewie, "a bit like the eternal soldier at the Arc de Triomphe". It's an anti-war anthem, with a joyful melody based upon a theme from Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 by Hugo Alfvén, while the major musical elements of the song are borrowed from Mozart's Rondo in D Major, K382. A lot of trivia there for you which I'm sorry about, but what a song. It's a true Christmas classic in window 18 of Erik's musical Advent calendar. Hope you like it!

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lørdag 17. desember 2011

The Doors - The End

Almost 12 minutes long, The Doors' "The End" off their self-titled 1967 debut album is a monster of a song. A psychedelic epic that among other things have been used to magical effect in Francis Ford Coppola's mighty Apocalypse Now, where it is used both in the opening sequence featuring fighter helicopters in front of an orange sunrise and in the end sequence where Kurtz is killed. It shows the true genius of Jim Morrison and The Doors, and even though they continued to make some amazing music, I really don't think they ever got better than they were on this track. It's true perfection, their crowning achievement!


Rolling Stones - Memory Motel

Black And Blue is one of the "hidden" gems of Rolling Stones's 70's output. Although it's not at all regarded as a bad album, many people are a bit indifferent towards it. I think it's pretty damn good actually, and the epic, seven minute long "Memory Motel" is my favourite track. Unsurprisingly, it's written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (Richard at the time, without the s on the end), but more unusually they share lead vocals on it. It's a fantastic ballad, and the title refers to an actual motel in Montauk, Long Island.