mandag 31. desember 2012

My perfect new year's party playlist 2012

It's time to say goodbye to 2012, and whether you've had a good or a bad year, it should be cause for celebration. I've compiled my perfect playlist for the occasion, featuring some of the songs that really set their marks on the year we wave bye-bye to, from ridiculous but fun "Gangnam Style" to quality hits such as "Locked Out Of Heaven" and the Norwegian smash "Æ vil bare dans". Inbetween are old party classics, and they're all bookended with ABBA's evergreen "Happy New Year" and U2's "New Year's Day", marking a new beginning. The list is to be found in the streaming service WiMP, so I hope you're a subscriber. If not, maybe the songs will inspire you to compile your own. I wish all of you a great evening and a happy 2013! Thank you!


søndag 30. desember 2012

Best of 2012 - my top 50 songs

Once again, here are my Top 50 songs of 2012, put together for Norwegian streaming company WiMP. These are all excellent of course, and most of them can be labelled true pop music. Open the link below and you'll get immediate access to snippets of each, and if you're a subscriber, similar access to the entire playlist with the full songs.


Kristina Train is responsible for the best song of 2012, "Dream Of Me".

David Bowie - Fashion

Not for the first time, David Bowie changed musical direction with his 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), a modern sounding album that plugged directly into and ahead of what was going on at the time. Along with artists like Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel, Bowie was at the sonic forefront of popular music, helped in large part by his co-producer Tony Visconti. "Fashion" is one of the most easily accessible songs on the album, but still very unusual, and what really sets it apart is of course Robert Fripp's astounding guitar work. "Fashion" was a hit single different from everything else.

Watch and listen

Robert Palmer - Johnny And Mary

Why Robert Palmer didn't become more popular at an earlier point of his career seems a bit strange when you hear a song like 1980's "Johnny And Mary". It's a masterclass in the melancholy pop song, with a melody to die for and a "new wavey" sound that was very much of its time. What should have become a huge hit only reached the number 44 spot on the UK charts. It did, however, become a big hit in Germany.

Watch and listen

lørdag 29. desember 2012

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - Tijuana Taxi

Ah, the carefree sixties, the hedonistic decade where everyone was dancing and smiling, wearing brightly coloured clothes, and generally having tons of fun. Yeah, right! But that was indeed part of the picture, as you can see in this video for Herb Alpert's enjoyable easy listening classic "Tijuana Taxi" from 1965. With his "Mariachi" band The Tijuana Brass, where actually none of the members were Mexican, he produced a string of instrumental hit singles following the debut smash "The Lonely Bull" from December 1962. "Tijuana Taxi" (1965) "only" reached number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100, but who cares? It's a classic song that is sure to get your spirits up. Love it!

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The Seeds - Pushin' Too Hard

American psychedelic garage rock band The Seeds, fronted by the enigmatic Sky Saxon, went from being very "underground" to almost becoming teenyboppers, a much dreaded term, thanks to hit singles such as "Pushin' Too Hard". The song was first released as a single in 1965, and peaked at number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was re-released the following year. In 1968 the band performed "Pushin' Too Hard" in the television sitcom The Mothers-In-Law, and I guess it's fair to say that more people probably remember The Seeds than The Mothers-In-Law. Or maybe not... Anyway, click on the link below and you can watch the performance in the sitcom. "Pushin' Too Hard" is a great rock song.

Watch and listen

Allah-Lahs - Busman's Holiday

Los Angeles-based Allah-Las released one of my favourite albums this year, that unfortunately got to me after the compiling of my best of 2012 lists. Flying slightly below the radar, this Nuggets-era sounding band released an eponymous debut album that garnered deservedly great reviews in the British music mags, but it has not yet been released in Norway or, I fear, in the rest of mainland Europe. It's chock full of great songs that sound exactly like they were written and recorded in 1967-68, and "Busman's Holiday" is not among the best songs. It's fantastic all the same, and that says a lot for this album. Let 2013 be the year that the world discovers Allah-Las!

Watch and listen

fredag 28. desember 2012

Elvis Perkins - While You Were Sleeping

The son of actor Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame, Elvis Perkins is a singer/songwriter who released his wonderful debut album Ash Wednesday in 2007. Although it was spearheaded by the single "All The Night Without Love", the song everyone who knows the album will tell you is the main attraction is opening track "While You Were Sleeping". Being more than five years old now, I guess it's time to call it a classic. It seems to be one of those songs I never tire of hearing.

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Talk Talk - Tomorrow Started

The genius of Mark Hollis and Talk Talk, eh? Although well-loved and quite popular when they existed, the band's posthumous standing is larger than life, much due to their two final albums, experimental and wildly adventurous sonic masterpieces Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock. It's hard to find much wrong with an album like 1984's It's My Life either. "Tomorrow Started" is just one of those deeply felt, atmospheric songs that led up to the more minimalistic approach of the latter albums, really, truly beautiful in all respects. Here's a live version from Montreux in 1986, that adds one and a half minute to the studio version. That in fact means it's one and a half minute better than the studio version.

Watch and listen

mandag 24. desember 2012

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 24

The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl - "Fairytale Of New York"

Today is Christmas Eve and what better day to play what is quite possibly the greatest Christmas song ever written, The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York" (1987)? Shane MacGowan (who co-wrote it with fellow Pogue Jem Finer) found the perfect duet partner in Kirsty MacColl, and when the two shout insults at each other you feel the goosebumps coming it sounds so real. The song tells the tale of an Irish couple seeking a better life in New York and not succeeding. It's been covered by many, some good, some bad, but it's impossible to better the original. This is perfection in every sense of the word. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Watch and listen

søndag 23. desember 2012

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 23

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - "Colorado Christmas"

By all accounts my favourite country Christmas song is Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's lonesome-sounding "Colorado Christmas" that was written for the band by singer/songwriter Steve Goodman. It's about staying in Los Angeles and missing your home in the snowpeaked Rocky Mountains, touching and sentimental in the best of country music traditions. It was first released as a single in the late 1980's and became the opening track when the band re-recorded it for their 1997 release called The Christmas Album. Just beautiful.

Watch and listen

lørdag 22. desember 2012

Penthouse Playboys - A Kind Of Christmas Card

Penthouse Playboys, fronted by the enormously enigmatic singer Jens Pikenes, specialize in improving well-known and loved songs, and each December the band do a series of concerts at the Oslo club Rockefeller Music Hall, always with a special guest artist. Among the band's many memorable interpretations are "A Kind Of Christmas Card", a-ha singer Morten Harket's solo power ballad that's turned into a latin rhythm fest, with a driving farfisa organ, doo-wop harmonies, a fine trumpet solo and Pikenes' convincing delivery. It was the opening track on the band's 1996 debut album Sånn skal det gjøres (That's the way to do it). A great time is to be had for everyone, I guess. Enjoy the show!

Watch and listen

Erik's musical advent calendar - December 22

Wham! - "Last Christmas"

It doesn't get much better than this. When Tracey Thorn, maker of this year's best new Christmas album Tinsel And Lights, set out to make it, she considered lots of songs, but one she didn't dare touch was Wham!'s 1984 classic "Last Christmas" as she found it perfect. And perfect it is. I have heard many versions of it, most of them meaningless, or as in the recent case of The xx trying to alter it a bit, plain awful. I think The xx is a wonderful group, but their take on "Last Christmas" is not a great one. The original though, has it all. The cheesy synth theme, George Michael's initial moaning, the soppy lyrics, loads of "christmassy" sound effects, of course a melody to die for, and last but not least, an accompanying music video featuring so many cliches wrapped into its four and a half minutes that you're left deeply impressed by how they could possbly fit all this into such a short film. I love everything about the song and the video, and if I hadn't been such a forgiving person I would say that The xx's version borders on sacrilege. But let's forget that one and play the original one more time. Enjoy!

Watch and listen

File:Last Christmaswham.jpg

fredag 21. desember 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Merry Christmas Baby

One of the best and most famous Christmas rock songs ever written is Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore's "Merry Christmas Baby", first recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers and subsequently covered by a whole lot of artists, including Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley & B.B. King. Although the Moore original may be considered the definitive version, a lot of good can be said for the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band version that appeared on the original A Very Special Christmas album in 1987. This take is from the Conan O'Brien Show in December 2002, and it sounds fantastic.

Watch and listen

Van She - Jamaica

Van She was totally unknown to me until I heard the song "Jamaica" on the radio this morning. They are an Australian electro-pop group with two albums in the luggage, V from 2008, and this year's Idea Of Happiness. "Jamiaca" is lifted from the latter, sounding like the best possible 80's song written today, a blend of early Tears For Fears, the voice of Nick Laird-Clowes (Dream Academy), Howard Jones and a Toto-sounding guitar towards the end. It's really a perfect summer song discovered at the height of winter, but there you go. At least it's summer in Van She's native Australia.

Watch and listen

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 21

Dolly Parton - "Hard Candy Christmas"

Today I'm going for a song that mysteriously I had not heard before Tracey Thorn recorded it for her beautiful Christmas album Tinsel And Lights that was released in late October. Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas" (written by Carol Hall) first featured in the 1978 musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas where the girls in the brothel traded verses. For the 1982 film version Dolly Parton was the star and did most of the singing. The song is a positive, if bittersweet and sad, first person narrative about doing the best out of a meager existence. Here's Dolly Parton performing it in a TV show, and a slightly different version is available on the Once Upon A Christmas album she shares with Kenny Rogers. You should also check out Tracey Thorn's wonderful take.

Watch and listen

torsdag 20. desember 2012

Human Radio - Me & Elvis

Memphis band Human Radio didn't want their record label Columbia to push the song "Me & Elvis", fearing they would be considered a novelty act. They may have been right, but not necessarily. Columbia Records did go against the band's wishes and released the song as a single, and it was a minor hit in the US in 1990. It was the first track on an otherwise pretty forgettable album, and I think the label did the right thing. Human Radio and Columbia soon parted ways, and the band wasn't heard of again. Having said this, I think "Me & Elvis" is an absolutely brilliant song and not at all a novelty song. It's a perfect rock song about, well you guessed it, an imaginary friendship with the King. A lost classic.

Watch and listen

Rune Berg - Pass It On

From the seventh best album of 2012, Hølå, here's the beautiful song "Pass It On" by Rune Berg. Berg, who used to be in The Margarets and still is a member of Number Seven Deli, may very well be among Norway's best songwriters. Far too few people have noticed that, he's probably too good. Nevertheless, Rune Berg soldiers on, and this autumn he has released his first solo album that is simply gorgeous. You can read my review here.

Now his friend and former The Margarets member Ronnie M.A.G. Larsen (who's also a noted author and joins Berg and former The Margarets singer Alex Rinde in another musical project) has recorded a home video for what is his favourite song off Rune's album, a beautiful and tender little ballad called "Pass It On". It's a fairly dark and atmospheric video where Larsen basically has filmed his two daughters in a pensive mood, all in glorious black and white, perfectly capturing the mood of the song. What a fantastic Christmas present he has made for his friend!

Watch and listen

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 20

Slade - "Merry Christmas Everybody"

No Christmas is complete without Slade, or at least, it hasn't been since 1973 when the British glam rockers took "Merry Christmas Everybody" to the top of the UK charts. It was written by singer/guitarist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, and became the band's sixth number one single, keeping another Christmas classic that same year at bay, when Wizzard's fabulous "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" stalled at number four. "Merry Christmas Everybody" is a perfectly joyful Christmas song, a bit rowdy and with a great sing-a-long chorus. Everybody go: "So here it is, merry Christmas, everybody's having fun, look to the future now, it's only just begun."

Watch and listen

A monochrome photograph of four young men, with a white border, set almost centrally in a red square. The words "SLADE" dominate the cover, underneath which is written "MERRY X'MAS EVERYBODY". Underneath the photograph are the words "DONT BLAME ME". White stars border the left and right sides of the photograph.

onsdag 19. desember 2012

Roxy Music - Over You

Suddenly I got an urge to hear Bryan Ferry singing "Over You". Co-written with Phil Manzanera it was a single off Roxy Music's 1980 album Flesh And Blood, and it sounds as elegant today as it did then. It's simply a great recording and a great song.


She & Him - Baby, It's Cold Outside

Last year She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) released their Christmas album A Very She & Him Christmas featuring 12 classics of the genre in their typical retro fashion. Now they've gotten a cartoon video made for one of the album's songs, the Frank Loesser composition "Baby, It's Cold Outside". It's been recorded an unknown number of times, by artists including Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, Ray Charles and Betty Carter, James Taylor and Natalie Cole and loads more.

Watch and listen

Duran Duran - Leave A Light On

Duran Duran's mostly excellent latest album All You Need Is Now was released digitally in December 2010 as a 9 track album, and released physically three months later, now with a total of 16 songs. The stand out track all the while was "Leave A Light On" that sounds quite similar to the band's 1982 classic "Save A Prayer". "Leave A Light On" is not that good, of course, but it's still a fantastic song, a melancholy ballad with an intoxicating and hummable melody. Why it has not become a hit is beyond me.

Watch and listen

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 19

Michael Martin Murphey - "Cowboy's Christmas Ball"

And now for something completely different: Cowboy poetry! Michael Martin Murphey is an American singer/songwriter of a certain fame, having written songs recorded by The Monkees, Flatt & Scruggs, Bobbie Gentry, Kenny Rogers and others. He's equally well-known for his records of western and cowboy songs, performing songs or poems written by actual cowboys, many of them more than a 100 years old. "Cowboy's Christmas Ball" appeared on the 1991 album Cowboy Christmas: Cowboy Songs 2 which also featured such classics as "Old Time Christmas", "Christmas Cowboy Style" and "Merry Texas Christmas You All". To me "Cowboy's Christmas Ball" is the standout track, a jolly stomp through verse after verse of cowboy poetry about a ball in Anson, Texas that's getting livelier by the minute. The original poem was written by the cowboy William Lawrence "Larry" Chittenden (1862-1934) in 1890, and like a lot of old folk songs and poetry it has evolved through the years with different verses being added and removed. Rock band The Killers also recorded it last year for what has become their annual Christmas recording. It's a fine version that differs a lot from the Murphey version. For his version Murphey is helped by vocal group Riders In The Sky and Suzy Bogguss, and it is by far the better one.

Watch and listen

tirsdag 18. desember 2012

Allah-Las - Tell Me (What's On Your Mind)

There will always be an album or two or three or four that slips through the cracks when you put together your best of-lists each December. The best record of 2012 that I've missed until now is most likely L.A. quartet Allah-Las' eponymous debut album, an extraordinary collection of 12 songs that sound like they belong in 1966 or '67. To quote British rock magazine Uncut: "Their debut could pass as a lost volume of Nuggets, sounding as they did like innocent US teens seduced by the British Invasion." "Tell Me (What's On Your Mind)" is the perfect example, and for good measure, it has to be said that singer Miles Michaud sounds quite a bit like Green On Red's Dan Stuart. The entire record is a fantastic blend of music we've all heard before, sounding not of today at all, but as Uncut suggests, lost gems from way back when. And they do have an excellent band name, don't you think?

Watch and listen

Frank Sinatra - Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)

I'm in a bit of a Frank Sinatra mood these days, and tonight I just heard Ol' Blue Eyes singing "Fools Rush In" on my iPod, and just had to share it. This is the 1960 recording of the song that Sinatra first recorded the year it was written by Rube Bloom and Johnny Mercer, 1940. This version appears on his Capitol album Nice 'n' Easy, and is of course beautiful. What a voice that man had!


The xx covers Wham! - Free download of "Last Christmas" here!

Wham!'s 1984 hit "Last Christmas" is one of the true classics of the genre, a song that's so perfect that Tracey Thorn didn't dare touch it when she recorded her Christmas album earlier this year. Gloomy electro adventurers The xx are a bit bolder apparently, and played the song on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. Tracey Thorn may have had an excellent point when she claimed the original was perfect, but this version is, if nothing else, interesting. By following the link below you can both listen to the song and download it for free.

Listen and download

Paul McCartney + Dave Grohl and friends - Cut Me Some Slack (studio version)

Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear performed the song "Cut Me Some Slack" on the 12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief, urging McCartney to say he felt that he found himself "in the middle of a Nirvana reunion". The song, especially when sung by McCartney, brings The Beatles' classic "Helter Skelter" to mind, and here now is the studio version. Buy it on iTunes or wherever and you help the flood victims of New York.


Exclusive first listen: Fleetwood Mac live from the vaults

Fleetwood Mac's classic album Rumours will be released in several new formats on January 28th, and among the bonus features is a live disc with performances from the band's 1977 tour in support of the album. There will be an extravagant six-disc super deluxe edition featuring four CD's, a DVD and a vinyl edition of the album, a more reasonably priced three-CD set, and also a straight-up CD release of the actual album. More details and full track list can be found here.

And now, listen to the previously unreleased live version of "Monday Morning" from the band's self-titled 1975 album by going here.

Erik's musical Advent calendar - December 18

Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas Is You"

Mariah Carey's 1994 single "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (co-written with Walter Afanasieff) was the lead single off her Christmas album with the simple title Merry Christmas. Although Carey has enjoyed scores of hit singles over the years, I have a feeling that none is more loved than this one, deservedly so. It's the perfect Christmas single, written, produced and arranged in the very best Phil Spector tradition.

Watch and listen


mandag 17. desember 2012

Ty Segall & White Fence - Scissor People

San Francisco-based musician and songwriter Ty Segall is wildly prolific, recording in every possible direction all the time, like a love child belonging to Jack White and Ryan Adams. Among his output in 2012 is the album Hair, credited to Ty Segall & White Fence. White Fence is a pseudonym for the L.A. rocker Tim Presley. I've only heard the song "Scissor People" so far, but that is truly fantastic, an intense, overdriven guitar-fest, semi-psychedelic and impossibly frenzied. It goes on for nearly six minutes, building in intensity for every second. This is the kind of song that can lift entire mountains, it's so loud and energetic. Prior to the album release Segall said the pair wanted to "bring the guitar solo back to rock'n'roll", and boy do they do it! This is the coolest rock song I've heard in ages. Wow!!!

Watch and listen

The Justice Collective - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Today sees the release of what many think will be the UK Christmas number one this year, the charity single "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", by The Justice Collective. Behind that moniker we find, amongst others, Paul McCartney, Glenn Tilbrook, Melanie Chisholm, Paul Heaton, Paloma Faith, Robbie Williams, Holly Johnson, Shane MacGowan and Beverley Knight. The proceeds from the classic song written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell and made famous by The Hollies in 1969 goes to the charities for the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, when 96 people died in a human crush at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during the F.A. Cup semi final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. In other words, after you've watched the video below, please buy it.

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Prince - Rock & Roll Love Affair

Prince is back with a brand new single called "Rock & Roll Love Affair". It's basically a 12 bar blues, a rock song with a great melody, that references his classic song "Take Me With You" as well as starting with the not very subtle line "She believed in fairy tales and princes, he believed the voices that was coming from his stereo, he believed in rock'n'roll". The song never really gets to a chorus, but it's got a great, steady beat, and a video where you see "the purple one" and his (mostly) female band play and have a good time. It's the kind of video I like the best, where you see musicians actually performing. Great single, so let's hope it precedes an equally good album.

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