tirsdag 30. september 2014

Nico & Vinz - When The Day Comes

"When The Day Comes" is the latest Nico & Vinz single ("In Your Arms" is the current US single) and the video was released today. It's a true feelgood song of which there are so many on the awesome new album Black Star Elephant, and the video is beautiful, filled with magic and miracles, a bit soppy, but utterly irresistable. Love it!

Watch and listen


Listen to the Nico & Vionz album in its entirety now

Wow! Nico & Vinz's new album Black Star Elephant is finally upon us. You can stream it on Spotify from today, and this is such a good album. It shows that the Norwegian duo's monster hit "Am I Wrong" was no joke. These guys are so capable of following up with loads of great, uplifting songs. They released their first album, 2012's The Magic Soup And The Bittersweet Faces as Envy in 2012, but changed their moniker to Nico & Vinz prior to their international launch. Black Star Elephant will be in shops across Europe on Monday October 6, and in the USA and elsewhere on October 14. But for now, it's on Spotify, without the interludes. It's a great album that should make anyone instantly happy. Feelgood album of the year, most probably.



mandag 29. september 2014

George Harrison - The Apple Years 1968-75, an essay, video links and a playlist

George Harrison - "the quiet Beatle" - was underappreciated by John Lennon and Paul McCartney as a contributing force in The Beatles. Although he developed into a fantastic songwriter ("Something" is the second most covered Beatles song ever), he still only got two or three songs onto an album. There were several reasons for the band's eventual split-up, but this was definitely among them. In a new box set entitled The Apple Years 1968-75 Harrison's first six solo albums are compiled, and I have written an essay for the record company, Universal Music. It is written in Norwegian though, but also features a few video links and a playlist showcasing some of the music that influenced Harrison both as a guitarist and a songwriter.

Read, watch and listen

Bryan Ferry - Loop De Li

Bryan Ferry fans, take note of the date November 17. That's when his brand new album Avonmore is released, and it may just be a very good one. If the first single "Loop De Li" is anything to judge by, the new record will sound a bit like Avalon-era Roxy Music or at the very least Bête Noire-era Ferry. In other words, very nice. It's set to be a star-studded album as well, with Johnny Marr, Marcus Miller and Nile Rodgers playing throughout with guest stints by Flea, Mark Knopfler, Ronnie Spector and Maceo Parker. There are ten songs altogether, eight new originals, a cover of the Stephen Sondheim classic "Send In The Clowns", and Ferry and Todd Terje's collaboration of Robert Palmer's "Johnny And Mary".



søndag 28. september 2014

George Harrison - This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)

So you thought George Harrison's guitar sounds as if it weeps on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"? Well, it does, but if so, it virtually cries on "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)", the beautiful sequel he wrote and recorded for his 1975 album Extra Texture (Read All About It). It's also a response to the negativity and criticism he was met with for his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar, and a poignant one at that. A great song from an underappreciated album.


lørdag 27. september 2014

Autumn songs - 100 for the season

In Norway we have a tradition called "høstferie" in which the schools close for an entire week, and the family is forced to take time off even though it's not necessarily easy to get away from work. All in all it's of course a great tradition for the kids, but to help the grown-ups a bit I have decided to compile a very nice playlist, featuring songs that somehow fit pretty well with the season. Many of them are of course sad and melancholic, but by no means all of them.

Presented below is the list both in Spotify (100 tracks) and in WiMP (slightly fewer tracks), old and new, in any genre. So please enjoy, whether you're up for a holiday or not. In the end this is simply very good music.



fredag 26. september 2014

The Cure - Friday I'm In Love

It's Friday!!!

Watch and listen

Dolly Parton - Mountain Angel

Dolly Parton's 2001 album Little Sparrow was the second of a bluegrass trilogy that also includes The Grass Is Blue (1999) and Halos & Horns (2002). The first two are pretty much flawless, and one of the best songs on all these records is "Mountain Angel", a Parton original about a woman who loses her mind when her lover leaves her, fleeing into the woods and living alone for the rest of her days. It reads like a sad and sorry folk tale, told in Parton's sweet, crystal clear voice, set to a wonderful melody and an acoustic arrangement. Below is a live version lifted from a 2009 DVD called Dolly Parton & Friends: Love Always - Live From Texas.

Watch and listen


torsdag 25. september 2014

Carlos Santana - Tales Of Kilimanjaro

"Tales Of Kilimanjaro" is originally an instrumental track from Santana's underrated 1981 album Zebop!, co-credited to the man himself as well as keyboardist Alan Pasqua and the two percussionists Raul Rekow and Armando Peraza. This is in every way classic Santana, with the trademark latin flair that marked the band's albums from the eponymous 1969 debut and onwards. This version is actually lifted from Carlos Santana's 1983 solo album Havana Moon, with the difference mainly being this one is a bit longer. It's a beautiful jam that lasts for under five minutes, but if they had continued for an additional five minutes it would only have added to the pleasantness, it's the kind of song that could just go and on and on and on...



onsdag 24. september 2014

Bruce Springsteen remasters finally due - as box set

After oh so many years, Bruce Springsteen's first seven records are finally remastered and on November 17 released as vinyl and CD box sets. Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town have been remastered and released on CD earlier, but now his early output will be available with the best possible sound on both formats. The box set is called The Album Collection Vol. 1, 1973-1984, so I assume there will be an additional two similar sets eventually. For now though, we are talking about his most important - and best - period, so hooray! Also, I do hope the records will be released individually as well. Below you'll find a trailer for the upcoming box set.

Watch and listen


tirsdag 23. september 2014

OnklP & De Fjerne Slektningene - Styggen på ryggen

Er dette årets beste låt? Sikkert er iallfall at det er veldig lenge siden jeg har hørt en låt som har gjort et så umiddelbart og sterkt inntrykk som "Styggen på ryggen". Rapperen OnklP har spilt inn sitt andre album i år (Slekta II som kommer senere i høst) med sitt rockalibi De Fjerne Slektningene, og jeg skal hilse og si han virker inspirert! "Styggen på ryggen" har etter få dager rukket å bli hyllet i det vide og det brede, og noe annet skulle da også bare mangle. OnklP, eller Pål Tøien som han egentlig heter, blottlegger sine indre demoner og rå angst på en måte som røsker tak i lytteren: "Det føles som jeg er i hælvete, styggen på ryggen har blitt en av mine nærmeste, på skulderen min og minner meg på hvor jævla skeis det derre livet mitt går. Fåkk! Er det rart jeg er redd når styggen på ryggen er han jeg prater med mest, oppå skulderen min og sier at jeg kommer ingen vei her i livet?" Alt i alt er det en fantastisk tekst, kombinert med en tilsvarende god melodi. Dette er den mest perfekte rocklåta som er spilt inn på norsk på lang, lang tid. At Jokke er nevnt i forbindelse med denne singlen er heller ikke  så underlig. Slektskapet er til dels ubehagelig tydelig, men OnklP insisterer i intervjuer på at det ikke er SÅ ille med ham. Jeg håper virkelig han har rett. En mann som kan skrive en låt som "Styggen på ryggen" i en alder av 30 år bør ha adskillig mer å bidra med. Dette er en fremtidig klassiker - jeg lover!


Rumer - Dangerous

Finally a brand new Rumer song. The British singer/songwriter and her easy listening music is just the ticket for anyone who loves Burt Bacharach and Hal David's many classics or Carole King and Gerry Goffin's - and anything beyond. Her wonderful debut album Seasons Of My Soul was released in 2010, and two years ago she released the album Boys Don't Cry, where she covered male songwriters she admires, like Jimmy Webb, Todd Rundgren, Terry Reid, Gilbert O'Sullivan and others. Now she's just finished her third album, a collection of songs called Into Colour which will be released on November 10. Check out the album trailer here. "Dangerous" is the first single, a wonderfully slick, disco song that sounds as if it's taken right out of legendary Studio 54 cirka 1976. Instantly catchy, and really beautiful. Rumer has returned and how!


Petula Clark - This Is My Song

"This Is My Song" was written by Charlie Chaplin in 1966, intended for his film A Countess From Hong Kong, which was to evoke 1930's shipboard romances. Chaplin wanted Al Jolson to sing it and was so intent on his wish that he refused to acknowledge the fact that Jolson had died in 1950 until he was shown a picture of his tombstone. In the finished film the song was only used as an instrumental, but Chaplin gave it to British singer Petula Clark who lived near his own home in Switzerland to record. It was released as a single in 1967 and Clark was furious as it was intended as an album track only. Then, when it became a number one single, her first since "Sailor" six years earlier, she was presumably quite happy. (Her most well-known single, "Downtown", only reached number two on the UK charts upon its 1964 release although it was a number one hit in many other countries, including the US.) Needless to say, "This Is My Song" is stunningly beautiful.


Listen to the entire Emilie Nicolas debut album now

Like I'm A Warrior is the title of Norwegian singer/songwriter Emilie Nicolas's debut album that is released on Monday, September 29. Luckily we can listen to the entire thing already on Spotify, and what a thrill this album is! The 26 year old electronica artist first gained attention with a fine English language cover of the Dumdum Boys song "Pstereo", but her register is a lot bigger than that. On her debut are an additional nine songs that are all quite impressive. So is this 2014's most exciting debut album? It very well could be.



Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Thunder Road (live)

Happy birthday, Bruce Springsteen. "The Boss" is 64 years old today, and in celebration we play a live clip of "Thunder Road", performed in London's Hammersmith Odeon on November 18, 1975. You may ridicule me for saying so, but I've always thought there's something lacking in the original studio version of "Thunder Road" and have preferred the live versions I've heard here and there. The best I've heard is this one, that appeared on a live bonus disc featured on the 30th anniversary edition of the Born To Run album. So again: Happy birthday, Bruce!

Watch and listen


søndag 21. september 2014

Sondre Lerche talks new album, Elvis Costello, upcoming tour and more in this interview

Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche has just released his brilliant and quite adventerous new album, Please, his seventh studio album to date, not counting his work on the soundtracks for Dan In The Real Life and The Sleepwalker. With a busy schedule, Sondre still took time to answer a few questions, so here you are, ladies and gentlemen, the first ever interview on Erik's Musical Diary.
Sondre Lerche talks about his new album, Elvis Costello, working without a safety net, divorce albums, his upcoming tour and more in this interview. Foto: Marius Hauge

OK, first of all and most importantly, is the title Please a grateful nod to Pet Shop Boys?
SL: I am definitely aware and fond of that record, but it is not an homage. The only thing that made me doubt PLEASE as a title, was the fact that it was already the title of a great record, but I figured enough time had passed that it was time for a new PLEASE.
There seems to be a more anarchic approach to the new album, and in your recent essay about yourself in (Norwegian newspaper) Klassekampen you hint at a pleasure in letting go a bit, not being such a perfectionist or control freak, that there is a release in working without a safety net. To what extent is this true of the recording of Please?
SL: It is very true. The whole process was about challenging the notion of what a song could be to me, in order to arrive at something new. I’ve had a very strict idea of how I write songs, and it’s probably offered me a sense of safety and pride, I am good at it. So it was time to challenge that process, and find other ways of expressing myself and making my music.
Even when working with contrasts that at first appear to be dissonant, like the frenetic guitar in “Legends” or Robert Fripp-sounding riffs in “After The Exorcism” you never seem to lose sight of the melody?
SL: It’s what I live for, I couldn’t lose sight of it if I tried.
Do you dream music? Does it happen that you wake up in the middle of the night with a new melody in your head?
SL: Sometimes, but it’s rarely something that haunts me. It’s usually more just a feeling of something. I’ve tried to capture it sometimes when I awake, but it evaporates into thin air, as dreams tend to do.
As a musician and a songwriter you are obviously inspired by Elvis Costello, and as far as I know he seems to admire you as well. I guess you have probably met? If so, what did you talk about?
SL: Yes, I did two tours together with him in Canada and America, so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform 25 times in a row from the side of the stage, and also seeing him stand at the side of the stage while I opened for him. He was a very gracious host, very generous and always working, challenging his band, sharing new music, rehearsing new songs. We talked a lot about music, he wanted to talk about me, I wanted to talk about him. It was hard to keep cool. For me.
You have been accused of similarities with other songwriters previously, most notably with Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout at a time when you had never heard of him. Yet, later you became a fan and have even recorded the Prefab song “Nightingales”. I was probably among the reviewers who mentioned Paddy’s name when I wrote about your first record Faces Down in 2001. In retrospect, do you get what we were hinting at?
SL: Oh, absolutely. We were meant to be. Hearing Prefab Sprout made me feel understood. It was a major life event for me. Thanks for bringing Prefab to my attention.
Like Costello, you appear to be a music nut, and you compiled a huge and quite exciting playlist for (Norwegian streaming service) WiMP a few days ago, featuring songs you’ve been listening to prior to and during the recording of Please. How does other people’s music affect your own?
SL: In the past, when I was growing up, I think some of my influences became more than just that. They became a part of my identity. I was accepting of the fact that for a long time I had no one to share my musical interests with, and so those interests take on an even more significant role. As I’ve grown older, the music is still as important, but the identity other artists provide me with, isn’t as important to me anymore. If you were to ask me what artists inspired PLEASE, I wouldn’t know what to tell you.
Can you say a few words about the paintings (Norwegian artist) Lars Elling did for your new album and what prompted you to ask him to work with you?
SL: Well, he’s tremendous, and has been incredibly generous and kind in letting my music associate itself with his paintings. I saw one of his paintings in January, and instantly felt a connection between the imagery, the colors, the chaos, the beauty, the abstract, the baroque, the romantic - and the music that I was in the midst of. When I contacted him, he sent me a picture of a painting called Life Study, without really knowing much about my record. And I knew that was the cover.
Lars Elling's painting Life Study graces the cover of Sondre Lerche's new album.

Both videos that have been made for the Please singles, “Bad Law” and “Legends”, must be labelled “playful”. As seems to be the case with the album, although it’s an excellent collection of songs, neither takes themselves very seriously. You seem to be at a good place right now?
SL: It’s been an intense year, in ways that I am thankful for, and also in ways that have been challenging. To me there is a lot of energy in seeing that you can get through something you maybe would’ve thought you couldn’t. It’s not easy, but it does give you hope, when you are able to get through it, and even feel good, feel thankful, and excited about life. That surprise is worth a lot.
Halfway reluctantly you have admitted that Please is your divorce album. Thematically, have you given any thought to how it compares to famous divorce albums like (Bob Dylan’s) Blood On The Tracks, (Marvin Gaye’s) Here, My Dear and (Bruce Springsteen’s) Tunnel Of Love?
SL: I like Blood On The Tracks a lot, but that is definitely a more caustic, bitter album, the way I remember it. I haven’t listened to it for years. I feel I remember Blood & Chocolate by EC being a break up or divorce record. That’s probably my favorite of the sort. It’s bold, brash, irrational and rational, bitter and loving. Seems about right.
Are there any songs on the new album that you are especially happy about or proud of?
SL: Well, as painful a song as Sentimentalist was to write and record, it is rewarding to see that it’s a song that already means a lot to people. It’s hitting people hard. Crickets, to me, is the best recording on PLEASE. It has a spontaniety and economy that excites me. It’s the first time I was able to write a proper song using only the same four chords over and over. A huge deal for me.
You live in Brooklyn in New York. Do you think the big city affects your songwriting in any specific way?
SL: Well, I like to live in a big, dynamic world. I travel so much, I tour, I walk in and out of all these settings, so I like disappearing into a big world, when I am in one place for a longer time. I’m sure that’s good for my work, although I couldn’t give you examples.
What can the audiences expect from the tour you’re embarking on?
SL: I’ve never paid much attention to anything but the music - I plug in and play, every night is different, I make it work. But this time I’ve become more interested in and aware of the visuals, and also respecting some of the elements in the recordings live. So I’m trying to create a more full on experience, creating a show, rather than just playing a concert.
Finally, I’d like you to compile a very short playlist with the five or perhaps ten songs that mean the most to you. Not your own, obviously. Up for the challenge?
SL: Always.

Happy birthday, Leonard Cohen! Here are 40 of his greatest songs.

Leonard Cohen, poet, painter, singer/songwriter and many others things, turns 80 today, and tomorrow his brand new album Popular Problems, his 13th,  is being released. To mark the occasion I have compiled a list of 40 Cohen favourites, both in Spotify and in WiMP. Here's to you, Leonard! Congratulations!



torsdag 18. september 2014

Bryan Adams - God Only Knows

October 6 sees the release of Bryan Adams' covers album Tracks Of My Years. Apart from first single "She Knows Me" that is co-written by Adams and Jim Vallance, there are ten further tracks on the album, and there will also be released a 16 track deluxe edition. The closing song (on the "plain" album) is an astonishing version of The Beach Boys' wonderful "God Only Knows" which may be the best song Brian Wilson has ever written. Adams strips it down completely to its bare essentials, highlighting the vulnerability of the lyrics by simply adding piano, some subtle strings and a short George Harrison-inspired guitar solo. It's also a masterclass in restraint. Where Adams could have chosen to belt out the lyrics, he holds back, doing the song all possible justice. This is simply stunning!



Bryan Adams - She Knows Me

Bryan Adams is soon to release his new album, a covers collection titled Tracks Of My Years, a wordplay obviously on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "The Tracks Of My Tears" that is one of the album's 11 songs. There is one original song though, called "She Knows Me", an instantly likeable pop song co-written by Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance. How it stands up among songs like "Lay Lady Lay", "Any Time At All" and "Down On The Corner" remains to be heard, but it's a very good pop song no matter what.

Watch and listen (lyric video)


onsdag 17. september 2014

The Rolling Stones with new live album series - see one full 1981 show here

Exciting news for Rolling Stones fans today as a new live album series, From The Vault, was announced with details on the first two releases. The series will include concerts from the Stones' large archive, and the releases will be out in several different formats, including DVD, Bluray, LP and CD. The first two shows are due before Christmas. Hampton Coliseum - Live In 1981 is released on November 3, and LA Forum - Live In 1975, two weeks later, on November 17. The music from both shows have previously been available digitally from the band's website, but now get their "proper" releases. Below you can watch the entire Hampton show that was put up on the band's official YouTube channel a month ago.

Watch the Hampton Coliseum show in full

The tracklisting for Hampton Coliseum – Live In 1981 is:
Under My Thumb
When The Whip Comes Down
Let’s Spend The Night Together
Black Limousine
Just My Imagination
Twenty Flight Rock
Going To A Go Go
Let Me Go
Time Is On My Side
Beast Of Burden
Waiting On A Friend
Let It Bleed
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Band Introductions
Happy Birthday Keith
Little T & A
Tumbling Dice
She’s So Cold
Hang Fire
Miss You
Honky Tonk Women
Brown Sugar
Start Me Up
Jumping Jack Flash
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

The tracklisting for L.A. Forum – Live In 1975 is:
Honky Tonk Women
All Down The Line
If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud
Star Star
Gimme Shelter
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
You Gotta Move
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Tumbling Dice
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
Band Intros*
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)*
Fingerprint File
Wild Horses*
That’s Life*
Outta Space*
Brown Sugar
Midnight Rambler
Rip This Joint
Street Fighting Man
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Sympathy For The Devil
(*Not available on LP)

Genesis - Ripples

When singer Peter Gabriel surprisingly left Genesis after 1974's ambitious double album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the band's fate seemed uncertain to many, and keyboardist Tony Banks apparently considered going on as an instrumental act. As we all know that didn't happen, and after a round of serious auditions failed to turn up a replacement for Gabriel, Phil Collins reluctantly tried singing and as it turned out it was a move that played a huge part in turning the band into superstars a decade later. "Ripples" however didn't really hint at superstardom but could rather be regarded as a continuation of the band's ambitious songwriting, eight minutes long and unconventional as it was. It's one of the most memorable tracks on 1976's A Trick Of The Tail, the first Genesis album without Gabriel and with Collins doing vocal duties, simply a stunningly beautiful and quite adventerous song.

Watch and listen


tirsdag 16. september 2014

Listen to the new alt-J album in its entirety now

The coming Monday sees the release of the second alt-J album, This Is All Yours, follow-up to the Mercury Prize-winning debut An Awesome Wave from 2012. The new album marks the absence of founding member Gwil Sainsbury, but the band soldiers on with an exciting, atmospheric and challenging album. This is the goods! You can stream it on Spotify already and get it in shops - digital or otherwise - on Monday. It ends with a surprising bonus track, a version of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day".

Listen in Spotify


Listen to the new Leonard Cohen album in its entirety now

Monday September 22 is the release date for Leonard Cohen's new album, Popular Problems, the day after the living legend turns 80. Considering his age it's a surprisingly vibrant album, considering the fact that he is indeed Leonard Cohen, less so. We expect quality, and we get quality, every single time. It's only been two years since his last album Old Ideas, and after two quick spins I must say Popular Problems sounds just as good. You can judge for yourself from today. The album can be streamed several places, so just follow one of the links below and enjoy.

Listen on NPR

Listen on the Uncut website

Listen in WiMP


Sondre Lerche - Legends

Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche has just released his new album, the wonderful Please. It's a playful and adventerous record that takes him in new directions that has an overall feel of a newfound willingness to "let himself go" somewhat. I may be wrong, but a first impression is that it's a record that doesn't take itself that seriously and benefits greatly from it. "Legends" is the second single from the album that has already spawned the wonderful "Bad Law". The new single is built around a drum pattern that gives space to a wonderful guitar riff, some serious shouting and an exquisite melody. The video shows Sondre doing some "interesting" dance moves and is simply great fun - just like the song.

Watch and listen


Jeff Lynne's ELO - Mr. Blue Sky

Two days ago Jeff Lynne, the musical genius (strong word, I agree, but hey...) behind the legendary Electric Light Orchestra, performed his first public show in 25 years, headlining the Radio 2 festival in London's Hyde Park. Boy, do I wish I had been there. Richard Tandy, original ELO member, even popped up to add keyboards and sing through a vocoder on what may be Lynne's best song ever, "Mr. Blue Sky", off 1977's Out Of The Blue double LP. ELO was actually the first band I ever saw live, 11 years old, in Ekeberghallen in Oslo. Happy memories, for sure, and I was flabbergasted by the awesome laser show. Not so much so when I saw a DVD from the same tour a few years ago, but as I said, I was 11 at the time and easily impressed. Now, will Jeff Lynne take his new band on tour? Please do, Jeff! Please!

Watch and listen


mandag 15. september 2014

Neil Diamond - The Art Of Love

Neil Diamond, one of my all time favourite singer/songwriters and a legend in his own time, will release his new album Melody Road on October 20. The first single "The Art Of Love" is a classic-sounding Diamond song of the kind he does so well, four minutes of intoxicating balladry with his soothing voice to guide the listener along. The new album is produced by Don Was and Jacknife Lee, whereas his last two (proper) albums were produced by Rick Rubin, a man who undoubtedly gave Diamond a well-placed push towards the true craftsmanship of songwriting. Aside from the fine covers album Dreams and a third unfocused Christmas album, it has been six years since his last album of new material, Home Before Dark, so it's about time now. And to judge from "The Art Of Love" we could be in for a treat.

Watch and listen (lyric video)

Julie Bergan - Rude

Canadian pop/reggae act Magic! has one of 2014's biggest hits on their hands with the irresistable "Rude", and as such the cover versions have long ago started rolling in. Norwegian songstress Julie Bergan has a wonderful voice, and with two guitar players along for the ride, she's doing a sweet little acoustic version of it. It's not as good as her and her friend Astrid Smeplass' take on Kim Cesarion's "Undressed", but that is very hard to top. The "Rude" version still sounds very good.

Watch and listen

lørdag 13. september 2014

Alpha Blondy - Brigadier Sibari

How famous some people may be, they are often famous in a few countries only. So for me to know Alpha Blondy, superstar in France, his native Ivory Coast and other places I'm sure, was, until a few days ago, an impossibity, or at least close to one, being Norwegian. I did however visit a restaurant on the Italian island Sardinia a few days ago when the song "Brigadier Sabari" appeared over the sound system, and a friend of mine living in Spain at once told me, "Wow, this is Alpha Blondy!" And here we are, I have discovered a fabulous artist who's been around for more than 30 years. I still haven't heard many songs of his but I do like him. Alpha Blondy (or Seydou Koné as he was born in the former French colony Ivory Coast on the very first day of 1953) is a very popular reggae artist who made his debut album Jah Glory from which "Brigadier Sabari" is lifted in 1982. The live clip below is from a Paris show in 2009 where I would have loved to be. A great song, performed by a wonderful singer and an equally good band. Alpha Blondy? I'll check him out now!

Watch and listen

Randy Newman - It's Money That Matters

You can't beat Randy Newman for wit and sarcasm in popular music. He is the true master, sometimes a bit subtle, sometimes not subtle at all. His 1988 single "It's Money That Matters" has absolutely no subtlety about it, and is an unapologizing rant against the greed of the late 1980's (think Michael Douglas's Wall Street character Gordon Gekko) that quiet a few people came to loathe. But have things changed since then? There's a good argument going for nothing having changed at all, if anything, things might have gotten worse. But "It's Money That Matters" is more than an angry comment on how money and power corrupts, it's also a hell of a good song, featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar in excellent form, and a sing-a-long chorus of the highest order. I had never seen the music video until now, by the way, an appropriately sarcastic little clip that goes very well with the song.

Watch and listen

Nick Lowe - Failed Christian

Nick Lowe has never been afraid to turn to the odd cover on his otherwise self-composed albums, and they are often small surprises and gems. On 1998's Dig My Mood, he opted for two covers among the 12 album tracks, an Ivory Joe Hunter song and the rather more obscure "Failed Christian" by Northern Irish singer/songwriter Henry McCulloch. It's a sinister song, both in spirit and sound, about the hypocrisies of organized religion. Towards the end it gets really eerie-sounding, when Lowe almost whispers the lyrics in a doomsday voice: "I'm a failed Christian, and if I'm going under, then you're coming with me, that much I can tell". Brilliant!


Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor - Come What May (remix)

Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! is a favourite of mine, pairing Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in a musical romance set in Paris' Montmartre district in 1900. The film is a feast of colours and extravagant musical numbers, and "Come What May", written by the brilliant David Baerwald (once of David & David "fame), is the "love theme". This remix however, turns the beautiful ballad into a brilliant and in every way very charming dance track. It's never been released commercially as far as I know, but the video was among the extras on the DVD release and, I'm sure, on the Bluray version as well. I love this clip.

Watch and listen

Brad Paisley - Keep On The Sunny Side

Popularized by The Carter Family, "the First Family of Country Music", in 1928, the religious song "Keep On The Sunny Side" is even older, written by Ada Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwisle in 1899. The positive and joyous tune is as relevant today as it was then, focusing on the joys of life, although paired with the realities of life's darker sides. Brad Paisley's version is one of the best I've heard. It was featured on the 2007 album Anchored In Love: A Tribute To June Carter Cash, where Paisley, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley and others paid tribute to June and her family.


fredag 12. september 2014

Eagles - I Can't Tell You Why

A few days ago I heard Eagles' classic 1980 single "I Can't Tell You Why" on a rooftop terrace in Alghero, Sardinia. Believe me when I say it was a pretty good experience sipping a glass of wine while listening to Timothy B. Schmit's soothing voice over a track and a production so soft it totally blends into the sunset I was watching. Lifted from Eagles' last studio album when they were still somewhat a permanent band, 1979's The Long Run, it's a song that has stood the test of time perfectly, sounding as good now as it ever has.

Watch and listen

John Fullbright - Never Cry Again

Last week I was fortunate enough to see Oklahoma singer/songwriter John Fullbright perform in front of something like a hundred people at a tiny Oslo venue called Mono. In the audience were several famous Norwegian musicians, most notably Henning Kvitnes, Marit Larsen and Ida Jenshus, and the latter even got on stage to sing harmony vocals on one song. I think I speak for all gathered when I say it was a performance for the history books. My friend Ronnie whom I went to the show with even thought it must have been like having seen Tom Waits perform in 1971. Personally Fullbright reminds me more of a young Jackson Browne, especially when in front of the piano. Similarities to anyone aside, Fullbright is an astounding songwriter and he performs his songs with rare passion, if it's with a guitar or a piano as accompaniment. "Never Cry Again" is a song from his recently released second studio album (his first album was a live one) that is simply titled Songs, featuring one of my favourite lines of his going "dreams are just dreams till they come true". Well put! Below is a link to an acoustic take on the song similar to how he performed it on Mono.

Watch and listen

Queen Live at the Rainbow '74 - videos, playlist and an essay

Legendary British rock group Queen was not all the rage they soon came to be when they entered the stage at the famous Rainbow Theatre in March 1974, but this performance was part of the transformation from "promising" to "world conquering". The show was recorded, intended for their third album release, but was shelved when the band opted to return to the studio instead to record the Sheer Heart Attack album. Shelved until now, that is. Engaged by Queen's current record company, Universal Music, I have written an essay (in Norwegian) and included a few videos and a playlist featuring most of the studio versions of the songs performed on the just released live album. See for yourself by accessing the link below, where you'll also find links to the Queen Live At The Rainbow '74 in Spotify and WiMP.

Read, watch and listen

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Give Us A Kiss

Here's a previously unreleased Nick Cave song from the Push The Sky Away sessions that has now been used in the upcoming film 20,000 Days On Earth. As far as I can tell this is a fictitious documentary depicting 24 hours of Cave's life prior to and during the recording of his last album. "Give Us A Kiss" (Cave might have borrowed the title from Daniel Woodrell's amazing novel) didn't end up on the finished record, but thankfully it's been released now. A beautiful little song that I think would have fit perfectly onto Push The Sky Away, brilliant album that it is.

Watch and listen


alt-J - Taro

The wonderful British band alt-J release their second album in a week's time, but while waiting why not revisit "Taro", one of many beautiful songs on their debut album An Awesome Wave, released in 2012? It's a perfectly executed piece of melancholic pop music, with elements from far and wide, a bit of Africa here, a bit of the Middle East there, but first and foremost a beautiful song with Joe Newman's terrific voice rising and falling along with the music. Astounding stuff, and in February I'll see them live. Something to look forward to. A note on the clip below: The music has been put to footage borrowed from Godfrey Reggio's 1988 film Powaqqatsi: Life In Transformation, the second in his magical Qatsi trilogy.

Watch and listen


torsdag 11. september 2014

The Cure - Hello, Goodbye (plus full info on upcoming The Art Of McCartney tribute album)

It's a lot closer to a re-recording than a re-imagining, but The Cure's dutiful version of The Beatles' 1967 single "Hello, Goodbye" nevertheless spearheads the massive tribute album The Art Of McCartney, slated for a November 19 release. And although it adds nothing to the lightness and brilliance of the original, The Cure has enlisted Paul McCartney's son James on keyboards for the recording, thus securing a bond that somehow justifies the seemingly unimaginative version. Also, I should add that I do enjoy Robert Smith's trademark wails and howls, subtle as they still are on this one as opposed to what he often comes up with. Other artists on the 34 track album are Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Smokey Robinson, Jeff Lynne and many more. There are also a limited edition release in colored vinyl, adding eight bonus tracks.

This is the full track list, link to The Cure's version on the bottom of the page.
1. Maybe I’m Amazed - Billy Joel
2. Things We Said Today - Bob Dylan
3. Band On The Run - Heart
4. Junior’s Farm - Steve Miller
5. The Long and Winding Road - Yusuf / Cat Stevens
6. My Love - Harry Connick, Jr.
7. Wanderlust - Brian Wilson
8. Bluebird - Corinne Bailey Rae
9. Yesterday – Willie Nelson
10. Junk – Jeff Lynne
11. When I’m 64 – Barry Gibb
12. Every Night – Jamie Cullum
13. Venus and Mars/ Rock Show – KISS
14. Let Me Roll It – Paul Rodgers
15. Helter Skelter – Roger Daltrey
16. Helen Wheels – Def Leppard
17. Hello Goodbye – The Cure ft James McCartney
18. Live And Let Die – Billy Joel
19. Let It Be – Chrissie Hynde
20. Jet - Robin Zander & Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick
21. Hi Hi Hi - Joe Elliott
22. Letting Go - Heart
23. Hey Jude - Steve Miller
24. Listen To What The Man Said - Owl City
25. Got To Get You Into My Life - Perry Farrell
26. Drive My Car - Dion
27. Lady Madonna - Allen Toussaint
28. Let ‘Em In - Dr. John
29. So Bad - Smokey Robinson
30. No More Lonely Nights - The Airborne Toxic Event
31. Eleanor Rigby - Alice Cooper
32. Come And Get It - Toots Hibbert with Sly & Robbie
33. On The Way - B. B. King
34. Birthday - Sammy Hagar
The eight additional songs:
1. C Moon - Robert Smith
2. Can’t Buy Me Love - Booker T. Jones
3. P.S. I Love You - Ronnie Spector
4. All My Loving - Darlene Love
5. For No One - Ian McCulloch
6. Put It There - Peter, Bjorn & John
7. Run Devil Run - Wanda Jackson
8. Smile Away - Alice Cooper

Watch and listen

onsdag 10. september 2014

Sturgill Simpson - The Promise

American singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson released his second album, thrillingly titled Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, this year. It's a badass cosmic country record, featuring a string of songs that sound as if they have emerged from a mysterious love child of a holy union consisting of Gram Parsons and Waylon Jennings, and then, in the middle of the album, from God knows where, emerges a sweet and tender cover of the British synth pop band When In Rome's 1988 single "The Promise". A bigger hit in the US than in the UK, I presume it's a song the then 12 year old Simpson grew up with, and he totally nails it, making the song his own. Starting out as almost a whisper of a song, Simpson slowly turns it around, making it a ballad that means everything it says, which basically is an apology and a promise to make things alright. This is stunning in every way, an amazing version of a song that is way better than its original intent, or at least way better than the original version. The melody and the lyric reach new heights in the hands of a true craftsman. Just beautiful!

Watch and listen

tirsdag 9. september 2014

Thomston - Burning Out

I know next to nothing about this guy who goes by the name Thomson. He's from New Zealand, 18 years old and has released an EP called Argonaut. Also, the lead track "Burning Out" is outlandishly good, atmospheric dream pop of the highest order that reminds me of acts like Sohn, Broods and Arthur Beatrice. In other words, "Burning Out" is a beautiful song. I hope to hear a lot more from Thomston.