torsdag 28. februar 2013

Atoms For Peace - Ingenue

I really like the Atoms For Peace album Amok that was released a few days ago. It's the debut album from Radiohead singer Thom Yorke's new "supergroup" that also includes Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker who's been a drummer for Beck and R.E.M., and percussionist Mauro Refosco. The album is a wondrous musical journey that seems inspired by music from all over the world, but shares a certain electronic ambience that is coupled with the evident musicality of those involved. "Ingenue" is one of nine songs that flows and moves, in and out of your consciousness, almost dreamlike, captivating, fascinating and a bit strange. Normally not a big fan of Radiohead, I fell completely in love with the outtake "Staircase" from The King Of Limbs sessions, and the Atoms For Peace songs seem to take their cue from this. The video is predictably strange as well, and fits the song like a glove.

Watch and listen

Madness - Never Knew Your Name

"Never Knew Your Name" is one of the singles from Madness' latest effort, last year's Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da album which is about to be expanded into a four disc edition for an April 7th release. Among the bonus material are seven brand new songs, but I can't imagine that any of these will eclipse "Never Knew Your Name", by far the best song on the album. Here is the music video for a song that is quintessential Madness, melancholy, even sad, and utterly, beautifully, mindblowingly melodic. Such perfection!

Watch and listen

Stock Aitken Waterman - Roadblock

Far better than their dubious reputation, British production trio helped artists like Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Bananarama and Dead Or Alive make some excellent hit records in the mid- to late-80's. They also released a few singles under their own names, and the first - and best - of these is "Roadblock", a funky slice of cut-up dance music that was very much of its time. 1987 that is...

Watch and listen

Brand new Steve Earle song - Invisible

Steve Earle's album The Low Highway - credited to Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses) - will be released in mid-April, and "Invisible" is its excellent first single. It's the tale of a homeless man, and in the video we follow in his footsteps through the streets of New York while Earle plays his guitar and sings his song. I love Earle's ways with words, like the couplet "I'm taking my time but I ain't slow/'Cause it ain't like I got anyplace else to go". Great song, and I'm sure the album will be good too. Steve Earle never really disappoints, does he?

Watch and listen

Idde Schultz - Fiskarna i haven

Svenske Idde Schultz hadde en stor hit i 1995 med "Fiskarna i haven", både i Sverige og Norge, en nydelig låt skrevet av Staffan Hellstrand, som såvidt jeg vet ikke har spilt den inn selv. Den er iallfall ikke på noen av hans 14 plater. Derimot har Halden-bandet Onkel Tuka laget en fin versjon på sin 2011-utgivelse Hvit honning. Men nå skal vi altså spille originalinnspillingen til Schultz, som ikke har opplevd så stor suksess som med denne, hverken før eller siden. Så er det da også en nydelig låt og en flott fremføring. Schultz' stemme er sterk og klar, og arrangementet med flotte strykere og "tøffe" gitarer sitter som et skudd. Klart det måtte bli en hit!

onsdag 27. februar 2013

New playlist - 50 songs that should have been monster hits

I'm sure I'm not the only person ever to wonder why my favourite songs don't become huge hits. But unfortunately the world can be an unjust place. That's why far too few people know songs like "She Makes My Day", "Airport", "When A Woman Loves", "Living A Boy's Adventure Tale", "Leave A Light On" and "Play The Hits"...

I've compiled a playlist for Norwegian streaming company WiMP featuring these and 44 other underrated gems whose common ground is they should all have conquered charts around the world if things were working properly. And even if not all of these are completely unknown, they're still not known enough. I hope you like what you hear. Enjoy!


Di Derre - Jenter

Før Jo Nesbø ble verdensberømt forfatter var han både det ene og det andre, megler for eksempel. Men første gang han virkelig vakte oppsikt var som frontfigur, sanger og låtskriver i Di Derre, sammen med blant annet broren Knut som gikk bort for noen få uker siden. Førstealbumet Den Derre med Di Derre (1993) solgte ikke rare greiene, ufortjent i så måte, men oppfølgeren Jenter & Sånn (som opprinnelig het Kvinner & Klær, men ble trukket tilbake da bladet med samme navn truet med rettssak) fra 1994 ble så til de grader en suksess at det gjorde bandet til et landets desidert mest populære. Det var primært sangene "Rumba med Gunn (1-2-3)" og "Jenter" som ga støtet til suksessen, men albumet i seg selv var strålende og gjorde bandet til en kraft å regne med. Det ble to plater til før Jo ble forfatter på heltid og bandet lagt i dvale. Si hva du vil, "Jenter" er fremdeles en dødsfin låt. Her er den, med en fin-fin video i sort-hvitt.

Se og hør

tirsdag 26. februar 2013

Killing Joke - Requiem

Happy birthday to Jaz Coleman, lead singer of Killing Joke, who turns 53 today. "Requiem" was the second single to be released from Killing Joke's eponymous debut album in 1980, a heavy-sounding, brutal and dark piece of industrial rock, that perhaps sounds a little dated 33 years on, but for those of us who enjoyed it then, it's still really good.


Eyeless In Gaza - Changing Stations

British indie duo Eyeless In Gaza (named after an Aldous Huxley novel) was a favourite of mine in the early 80's, one of the many great bands on the Cherry Red label that was also home to Felt, The Monochrome Set, Everything But The Girl and others. To me Martyn Bates and Peter Becker hit their peak with the 1983 album Rust Red September. The music is strangely beautiful with a sound unlike anything else, minimalistic yet quite comprehensive at the same time, and featuring Bates's enchanting voice and the harmony vocal of Becker. "Changing Stations" is the album's wonderful opening track.


Stop press! Brand new David Bowie single - The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

Wow! Here's the second single from David Bowie's surprise comeback album, the eagerly awaited The Next Day. And whereas first single "Where Are We Now?" was a grower, filled with not very subtle references to his Berlin years at the end of the 70's, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" is more immediate, an instantly catchy pop song that sounds more like a cross between "China Girl" (Bowie's own 1983 version that is), and soundtrack songs like "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" and "This Is Not America". This is fantastic pop music with some very nice guitar work, set to an expensive-looking video featuring Tilda Swinton as Bowie's love interest. With these two songs on the table, I am no longer in any doubt that The Next Day is an album to really look forward to. Put simply, David Bowie is back with a vengeance!

Watch and listen

mandag 25. februar 2013

R. Kelly - Feelin' Single

"Feelin' Single" (2012) is the tale of R. Kelly feeling scorned by another woman's lack of commitment, telling her that "two can play that game". However probable or unprobable you might consider this, it's nevertheless an awesome song, and the video version includes a break in the middle of it not on the album Write Me Back, where we are treated to a piece of swinging big band music that contrasts well with the actual song "Feelin' Single" which is a fabulous slice of neo-soul.

Watch and listen

New Order - The Perfect Kiss

"The Perfect Kiss" (1985) was the first New Order single to also feature on one of their albums, namely Low-Life, the Manchester band's third such release. Having said that, the song appears in numerous versions, and the video version, more than nine minutes long, is different from other versions. Not dwelling too much on that, let's instead just watch the Jonathan Demme-directed video, which is unusual for the band in that it simply shows them playing in a rehearsal studio.

Watch and listen

søndag 24. februar 2013

The Beatles - You're Gonna Lose That Girl

To me, The Beatles is the best band ever. In eight intense years the band released 11 albums of original songs, scores of singles and EP's with songs that were not on the albums, made a few films, and in so doing became legends in their own lifetime. All this in less time than it took, say Stereo MC's, to realize the follow-up to the hit album Connected. And where are they today, and who cares? The Beatles on the other hand? Words fail me. Anyway, here is the immensely catchy "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" that featured in the 1965 film Help! Unfortunately I couldn't find the film clip, but you'll hear the song by following the link below.


Bee Gees - You Win Again

And sometimes I just need to listen to Bee Gees... Although I can't be certain, "You Win Again" from 1987, is to me the brothers' last great single. The production sadly is a bit dated, but it's one hell of a pop song anyway.

Watch and listen

Crowded House - Mean To Me

Between 1986 and 1991 Aussie band Crowded House released three faultless albums, Crowded House, Temple Of Low Men and Woodface. Fronted by singer/songwriter Neil Finn, formerly of Split Enz and brother of that band's main figure Tim Finn, Crowded House could seemingly do nothing wrong. The consistency of these three albums is remarkable, containing some of the best pop songs ever written, and although the overall quality took a turn for the less consistently brilliant after Woodface, Finn has never forgotten what a great pop song is. He still writes them, but not with the same kind of frequency as before. "Mean To Me" was the first song on the 1986 debut album, paving the way for all those other great tracks. I just love the opening couplet: "She came all the way from America/She had a blind date with destiny". By the way, the song begins at 1:33 in the video.

Watch and listen

Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around... Comes Around

While we're waiting for Justin Timberlake's soon-to-be-released third album, why don't we revisit the astounding "What Goes Around... Comes Around" from his 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds. I mean, what a great song this is! The singing, the production, the arrangement, everything falls perfectly into place in a song that is nine minutes long. The video is pretty ambitious too, as you'll see, featuring the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson as Justin's love interest.

Watch and listen

Frank Sinatra - Young At Heart

Of all the qualities Frank Sinatra had as a singer, what I admire m,ost is his phrasing. He sings every word absolutely clearly, but in an unrestrained manner that makes every sound he utters sound as natural as breathing. The Johnny Richards/Carolyn Leigh standard "Young At Heart" is a prime example. Sinatra was the first to record it, in 1953, turning the song into a million-selling hit. No wonder, I say. Just listen to it yourself and you'll find this is true perfection.


Culture Club - Do You Really Want To Hurt Me

Speaking of great pop songs, Culture Club's  "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" is a prime example of the art. A fabulously catchy pop/reggae track vaguely related to songs such as Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" and Cat Stevens' "Wild World", this was Boy George and company's breakthrough hit in 1982, a smash around the world. More than 30 years on it still sounds absolutely great.

Watch and listen

Prefab Sprout - When Love Breaks Down

This is one of my all-time favourite songs. Prefab Sprout's wondrously beautiful, strangely different-sounding pop song "When Love Breaks Down" had to be re-released to finally chart in the UK where it eventually peaked at number 25. At its first release in 1984 it didn't chart at all, but a stubborn record company tried again when the album Steve McQueen proved a minor success.

Watch and listen

Sidney Bechet - Dans les rue d'Antibes

American jazz musician Sidney Bechet relocated to France in 1950 after experiencing more and more difficulties at home. There he wrote and recorded the wonderfully happy "Dans les rue d'Antibes", so named after the most famous shopping street in Cannes, sometime in the 50's. Sadly he died from cancer on his 62nd birthday in 1959, but he will forever be remembered for his musicianship and classic songs like "Petite Fleur", "Dans les rue d'Antibes" and others.


lørdag 23. februar 2013

Nick Lowe - I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock'n'Roll)

A song that always makes me happy, no matter how bleak things are, "I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock'n'Roll)" is Nick Lowe at his very best. It was written by Lowe, but first recorded by Dave Edmunds on the 1977 album Get It (where Lowe played bass, of course). A year later it was recorded by Nick Lowe's Last Chicken In The Shop outfit (where Edmunds played guitar) for the compilation album Live Stiffs Live, and then, in 1985, Lowe recorded it for his album The Rose Of England, credited to Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit (this time without the presence of Edmunds, but with the added pleasure of producer Huey Lewis's harmonica). I think this is the definitive version, and the video is quite funny as well. It's also a great song for any party. If it's boring, put this on, and things should get started pretty quick.

Watch and listen

fredag 22. februar 2013

Wild Horses playlist

The food industry is racked with the current horse meat scandal, where meat of dubious quality pops up in prefab foods like frozen lasagne and hamburgers. This led my food-blogging wife to make her own quality horsemeat burgers last night, and I was prompted to make a playlist featuring horse-related songs. You will have to excuse that some of these are in Norwegian, but that's just how it is. All the songs can be accessed in the streaming service WiMP by following the link below.


Recipe for quality horsemeat burgers

torsdag 21. februar 2013

Marion Ravn - Nerven i min sang

Jeg hadde helt glemt hvor god denne sangen er. Ole Paus panikkskrev "Nerven i min sang" på Danskebåten på vei til København der han tok med seg Jonas Fjeld Band for å spille inn albumet Svarte ringer i 1982. Storyen er enkel: Den bedagelig anlagte Paus hadde ingenting klart da de seilte ut fra Oslo, men i løpet av overfarten og påfølgende få studiodager skrev han det som trengtes. "Nerven i min sang" ble kronen på verket, med melodi av Jonas Fjeld (eller Terje Jensen, som han strengt tatt heter) og en tekst som bare er SÅ fin! Det er godt mulig dette er den fineste sangen om kjærlighet som noen gang er skrevet på norsk, noe jeg tror Marion Ravn også ante da hun skulle velge Paus-låt til "Hver gang vi møtes". Paus-versjonen er nok mindre kjent enn Fjeld-versjonen som havnet på suksessalbumet Svært nok for meg i 1989, men Marion Ravns versjon er neimen ikke snau den heller. Men i bunn og grunn handler det om hvor bra sanger det er mulig å skrive. "Nerven i min sang" er en av de helt perfekte komposisjonene. Ville du forandret et ord eller en tone her? Neppe. Ikke jeg heller!

Se og hør

Elton John vs. Pnau - Sad

While we're waiting for Elton John's new, T-Bone Burnett-produced album Voyeur to be (hopefully) released in May, let's go back to last summer and the Australian electronica duo Pnau's remix album Good Morning To The Night where they cut and pasted and strung about elements from early Elton John records, and created entirely new songs. "Sad" is the best of these, combining bits and pieces from the songs "Nice And Slow", "Crazy Water", "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word", "Curtains" and "Friends". The final result was astoundingly beautiful. Enjoy!

Watch and listen

Phoenix - Entertainment

The brand new Phoenix single "Entertainment" sounds like a cross between Electric Light Orchestra, M83 and Daft Punk with a Japanese folk melody added for good measure. With a lot of sound thrown together, the new album that is called Bankrupt! and will be released on April 22nd, could be a massive, stadium-friendly affair. Thankfully, "Entertainment" is still an excellent pop song.


onsdag 20. februar 2013

The Durutti Column - Never Known

Is Vini Reilly the best guitarist to emerge from the post-punk "scene"? The case can be made for a few others, but none can match Reilly's dreamlike, atmospheric guitarpicking which just sounds unlike anything else. The Durutti Column is the band name he chose for his music, but it is actually a kind of alter ego for the Manchester guitarist. "Never Known" is one of the magical-sounding tracks on his astonishing 1981 album LC which has just been re-released in expanded form. Where the original album included a total of ten tracks, it's now a two CD set comprising 33 songs. What's not to like about that?

Watch and listen

Free download - new Son Volt track

Son Volt, the band that Jay Farrar established when he and Jeff Tweedy parted ways and disbanded alt-country outfit Uncle Tupelo, is back with the new album Honky Tonk in early March. Whereas Tweedy started the band Wilco that veered quite far away from the Uncle Tupelo sound, you might say that Farrar dug deeper into the American roots music, as well as being a little noisy along the way. But if the title of the album Honky Tonk and the giveaway song "Hearts And Minds" is anything to judge by, this will be Son Volt's most country-sounding effort to date. If you follow the link below you can download "Hearts And Minds" for free, and I suggest that you do just that. It's great!

Free download

mandag 18. februar 2013

Listen to the new Johnny Marr album in its entirety now

Finally this weekend sees the release of former The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr's debut solo album. Although he released the album Boomslang with his backing band The Healers in 2003, The Messenger is considered his proper solo debut. After The Smiths disbanded in 1987, Marr has played with the likes of Bryan Ferry, The The, Modest Mouse, Pet Shop Boys, The Cribs, Electronic, Kirsty MacColl and many more, but at last he comes into his own right as a proper solo act. It's about time. By following the link below to The Guardian's website, you can stream the entire album. Have fun!


Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z - Suit & Tie

I love the new Justin Timberlake single "Suit & Tie". It's a killer comeback, an absolutely astonishing song. Along with the other new single "Mirrors" it bodes very well indeed for Timberlake's third solo album The 20/20 Experience, due in March. A few days ago the video for "Suit & Tie" was released. Of course it's in glorious black and white, and it's just as classy as the song itself.

Watch and listen

søndag 17. februar 2013

The Droogs - Change Is Gonna Come

In a small record shop in London's Bayswater district in 1984 or -85, I stumbled upon the single "Change Is Gonna Come" by American garage rock group The Droogs. It's still a killer rock song and why it is not a certified classic is beyond me.


Tracey Thorn's autobiography reviewed - playlist included

Everything But The Girl singer and solo artist Tracey Thorn has written an autobiography that was just published, having collected dust for some years after she simply abondonded the project in 2007. What came in the way of the book was actually her return to music - an utter relief to those of us who love her voice dearly - and we are quite a few - having missed it since 1999.

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star is not your average rock'n'roll autobiography, and how could it be? Thorn has always been strongly opposed to the notion of rock cliches, and been decidedly "indie" or DIY in her approach to most aspects of her career. The book does as promised in the title, tells an abridged story of a fairly normal upbringing in Brookmans Park, a small suburb just north of London, and then how she just misses the advent of punk but becomes absorbed in the post-punk records of the late 1970's, before sort of becoming a pop star.
She picks up her first guitar at 16, a Les Paul copy, and as she really didn't think of the fact that you need an amp to play an electric guitar, she starts out playing without one, which might account for the raw and naked but nevertheless silent-sounding music of her first records, both with The Marine Girls (two albums) and her first solo album, 1982's A Distant Shore.

The book goes on to tell about her move to the university in Hull where she meets Ben Watt, lifelong partner, both romantically and as one half of Everything But The Girl. The band's story, and that of Tracey Thorn, is a story of the usual ups and downs a musical career will take, but Thorn's refreshing and not quite everyday look at the music business and its machinations makes for entertaining and interesting reading. She is also quite funny.

Twice in her career she has experienced true pop stardom in the form of real hit singles, first with Everything But The Girl's cover version of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want To Talk About It" in 1988, and then in 1995, when Todd Terry's remix of the Amplified Heart single "Missing" turned into a worldwide dancefloor filler and monster hit. In between there have been a few lows, most notably with the largely overlooked and not very good Worldwide album in 1992, but for the most part Everything But The Girl has enjoyed a certain amount of success as a band.

What I've always admired about Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt is their willingness to never make the same record twice. Especially in their early years, things shifted dramatically from record to record, and then, in the mid-90's, the success of the "Missing" remix coincided with Ben's fascination for electronic music, resulting in their two final albums, Walking Wounded and Temperamental.

Bedsit Disco Queen is a book to enjoy, well-written and interesting, and it sheds new light on one of my all-time favourite bands. It's also chock full of funny anecdotes. Read it if you will, and while doing so, listen to the music of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt once again. Below you'll find the playlist I compiled for Norwegian streaming service WiMP last year, featuring a total of 61 songs, including the solo work of both and a few classic collaborations. Enjoy!


PS! The book was also enlightening in another respect. I've always considered the Idlewild single "These Early Days" to be a love song, whereas it is in fact about Tracey Thorn's (at the time) newborn nephew. Naturally it's still a love song of sorts, but not quite the kind I thought it was.

lørdag 16. februar 2013

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Forest Fire

Another of my favourite albums, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions' 1984 debut Rattlesnakes held ten undeniably great songs, mostly in a melancholic vein, but always highly melodic. "Forest Fire" was the second single off the album, and in retrospect it may be the best. Although the debut single "Perfect Skin" deservedly became an almost-smash, it's the more reflective "Forest Fire" that has best stood the test of time.

Watch and listen

Sade - Hang On To Your Love

Ah, the elegance, the sophistication... Sade's 1984 debut album Diamond Life is one of my all time favourites, and "Hang On To Your Love" just might be the very best of its nine perfect songs, their version of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together" among them. This is simply a master class in perfection, where every note played is at just the right place, every word sung equally so.

Watch and listen

fredag 15. februar 2013

Ronan Keating - Life Is A Rollercoaster

Gregg Alexander intended his song "Life Is A Rollercoaster", co-written by Rick Nowels, for the second New Radicals album, but when he disbanded the group the song was offered to Ronan Keating, hot on the heels of his smash version of the country ballad "When You Say Nothing At All". It was released in the summer of 2000 and is one of those pop songs that make you instantly happy and very very lucky to have such good writers around. "Life Is A Rollercoaster" is nothing less than a pop masterpiece.

Watch and listen

torsdag 14. februar 2013

Free download - Rumer does The Beatles

As a Valentine's Day gift to her fans and friends, Rumer offers everyone a download of her version of The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun", one of George Harrison's most enduring songs. Needless to say, it's a beautiful version.


Happy Valentine's Day - Top 10 love songs

Today is Valentine's Day and of course we have to mark the occasion with some perfect love songs. Here are ten favourites that can help make this a romantic day, and hopefully they're not all that obvious.

Elvis Presley - "Can't Help Falling In Love"

Scott Walker - "Joanna"

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

Buddy Miller - "That's How Strong My Love Is"

Herb Alpert - "This Guy's In Love With You"

Dion & The Belmonts - "A Teenager In Love"

Everything But The Girl - "These Early Days"

Mike Scott - "She Is So Beautiful"

The Stylistics - "I'm Stone In Love With You"

Victoria Williams - "Love"

The Smiths - I Know It's Over

The Smiths was one of the definitive British bands of the 80's, releasing a string of what has become classic albums and singles in about the same amount of time it takes many bands to make a follow-up album these days. This burst of creativity and extraordinary songwriting skills by Johnny Marr and Morrissey hit a peak with The Queen Is Dead in 1986, the band's third album (fourth if you count compilation album Hatful Of Hollow) in three short and very intense years. "I Know It's Over" is the usual self-indulgent stuff that Morrissey mysteriously turned into kind of a badge of honour, and Marr wrote one of his many outstanding melodies to. It's still an absolute treat and joy to hear this song.


onsdag 13. februar 2013

Everything But The Girl - Goodbye Sunday

I am currently reading Everything But The Girl singer/songwriter Tracey Thorn's autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen and enjoying it immensely. After around 100 pages in, she's just met future partner Ben Watt, and is about to set out on their adventure together that goes on to this day, although Everything But The Girl seems to be history. Reading Thorn's biography of course prompts me to listen to her music as well, and "Goodbye Sunday" from the 1988 album Idlewild is quite fitting as it adresses how she clings to the past, refusing to let go of "that box of diaries and old letters" and the like. It's also, of course, a beautiful song.


Lone Justice - Don't Toss Us Away

The first time the world was subjected to the voice of Maria McKee was when she sang the Tom Petty/Benmont Tench composition "Never Be You" (later recorded by Rosanne Cash) for the Streets Of Fire soundtrack in 1984. That went largely unnoticed but when McKee appeared as the singer for Los Angeles band Lone Justice the following year on their eponymous debut album that all changed. She was 20 years old at the time and she belted out the songs on the album as if her life depended on it. Among several great songs my favourite is "Don't Toss Us Away", written by McKee's half brother Bryan MacLean who used to be in the 60's group Love. It's a gut-wrenching and heartfelt country ballad where McKee's voice reaches a dimension far removed from what can ordinarily be expected from any singer. It's simply the performance of a lifetime, even though it must be said that came early.