fredag 22. mai 2015

Little Richard - Lucille

When Little Richard sang about "Lucille" back in 1957 it was a primal affair. Rock'n'roll was new, it was exciting, it was sexy, and it genuinely upset the grown-ups of the world and at the same time turned scores of teenagers into a lot cooler people than their parents were - at least for a little while. So there you go for another Fabulous Friday entry, the awesome spectacle of seeing and hearing Little Richard and his band perform the hell out of this truly brilliant song. It was written by Little Richard himself (or Richard Wayne Penniman as he was known to his parents) and Albert Collins, not to be confused with the legendary bluesman of the same name. And as long as it's Friday, be sure to check out my previous Fabulous Friday entries here. I'll promise you it's a diverse set of songs.

Watch and listen

torsdag 21. mai 2015

Paris, je t'Aime - a playlist from "la Cité de la Lumière"

Paris, the most romantic city on earth - also referred to as "la Cité de la Lumière" - is the object for a playlist I've compiled for my good friends over at the awesome Borte Best blog. Vibeke has written a love letter to Paris and she asked me if I could compile a list to go with it. "Easy peasy", was my obvious answer, and so I've assembled 40 great tracks from, or referring to, that beautiful city (a few of them may just be French but still give off a Paris vibe) for everyone's enjoyment. So here's your opportunity to bask in the glories of Joe Dassin, Juliette Gréco, Yann Tiersen and Michel Legrend, as well as international acts such as The Style Council, Rufus Wainwright, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and even the Norwegian pop group deLillos. Follow the link below to gain access to the list in Spotify and if you're Norwegian also read Vibeke's article.

Paris, je t'aime

Audrey Hepburn in Paris - yay!

onsdag 20. mai 2015

The Chemical Brothers - Go

The rave scene of the 90's passed me by. I was totally oblivious to it all, listening to anything but Prodigy, Fatboy Slim or The Chemical Brothers. In hindsight I've come to enjoy a lot of these acts though, and The Chemical Brothers in particular. "Go" is the new single off their forthcoming Born In The Echoes which is scheduled for a July 17 release, and it's totally awesome, featuring American rapper Q-Top on vocals. The video is great too, made by French director and screenwriter Michel Gondry, and definitely worth watching.

Watch and listen

tirsdag 19. mai 2015

Elina Born & Stig Rästa - Goodbye To Yesterday

This week is Eurovision week, with two semifinals before the grand finale on Saturday, this year to be held in Vienna. Basically a kind of musical freak show where anything goes, the competition is regarded with equal amounts of adulation and scorn, depending on who you ask, and rarely features entries where the songs themselves are in focus. Estonia's entry of 2015 is a different matter, a dead catchy pop song, classic in every way, ticking all the right boxes, and being a duet to boot. Elina Born and Stig Rästa are more or less complete unknowns outside their native Estonia, but they shouldn't be for long. "Goodbye To Yesterday" (written and produced by Rästa himself) is the kind of song that should reach well outside the Eurovision Song Contest, with the potential of becoming a hit across the board, reaching an audience that doesn't care for the competition, and those who just like a good song regardless. I heard it just now being performed on the first of the semifinals and was completely floored by what I simply consider a brilliant piece of pop music on its own terms. Below is the music video with a bit of dramatic flair to it, but as I've already suggested, the song speaks volumes for itself.

Watch and listen

Everything But The Girl - Missing (Todd Terry Remix)

DJ/house producer Todd Terry's remix of the Everything But The Girl track "Missing" off 1994's Amplified Heart album totally reinvented the duo's sound as we knew it, throwing them head first into the house scene of the mid-90's that Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt had more than a little interest in as it were. Turning their melancholic songs away from the quiet musings of their take on jazz, bossa nova, soul, pop or country even, and over in the direction of modern dance music was a stroke of genius that nobody really could have imagined, with the possible exception of from Todd Terry. It even turned the duo into some sort of semi-superstars for a while, and they recorded two brilliant albums, Walking Wounded (1996) and Temperamental (1999) expanding on Terry's ideas, before they called it quits. Today they've both revived themselves as solo artists and authors (I'm currently reading Tracey's brilliant book about singing, Naked At The Albert Hall), are still married, but with no plans to reform as a duo as far as I know. Still, their solo careers are worth following, with Tracey having just released an EP's worth of film music, Songs From The Falling, and Ben released his second solo album Hendra last year, 31 years after the first.

Rolling Stones - Terryfying

Rolling Stones' 1989 album Steel Wheels was a very welcome return to form at the end of a decade that saw the band slowly fade from rock gods to... well, something less. "Terryfying" was the fourth and, dare I say, best, single off the album, a strutting, proud and boisterous song that is primarily driven forward by Bill Wyman's steady bass and Charlie Watts' drums. It's unusually rhythmic for Rolling Stones with its swamp-rocky, Creedence-y beat and crystal clear production, and the fact that it stands a bit out from much of their other songs is actually what makes it so great. 

Watch and listen

lørdag 16. mai 2015

Janet Jackson - What Have You Done For Me Lately

Janet Jackson's 1986 album Control is her masterpiece, in large part thanks to producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who also co-wrote most of the songs with Jackson and must have helped her find her own true songwriting self. "What Have You Done For Me Lately" was the first single off the album, her third, released in January, spearheading an hour's worth of minimalist synth-driven funk and stunning ballads that totally redefined Jackson and turned her into a superstar. The album and its first two singles, "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and "Nasty", can be seen as forerunners of an entire generation's worth of female R&B artists and their songs, showing their male counterparts where it's really at. Janet Jackson may not be considered a feminist performer by most, but this song was undeniably important for a lot of future female performers, kicking some serious ass along the way. Forgive me if this sounds shallow, it's not meant to. I seriously regard this song as a feminist anthem, and Jackson sounds as tough as nails.

Watch and listen

The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm MIserable Now

What really happens, what kind of chemistry is at work, when two people simply connect, when a lyricist and a songwriter find each other, embarking on a journey that will forever change their - and our - world? I have no idea, but I'm extremely fascinated by how two persons like Steven Patrick Morrissey and John Martin Maher - commonly referred to as Morrissey/Marr - were able to create such a staggering amount of great music as they did in the years 1983 through 1987. Four "proper" albums, 18 singles that in large part did not appear on the albums (B-sides included) and three major compilations in five years is pretty much unheard of this side of The Beatles and I honestly don't think any songwriting team or single songwriter has written such a treasure trove of amazing music since their heyday. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" was The Smiths' fourth single and one of their defining songs, where Morrissey gleefully wallows in his own stilted misery, and, judging by the video, enjoying every single moment of his own performance. Marr on the other hand is doing his masterful guitar work, seemingly at total ease, not minding his singer one tiny bit, just doing his thing in a totally effortless manner. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" was released almost 31 years ago to the day, on May 21, 1984, and still sounds absolutely magnificent.

Watch and listen

fredag 15. mai 2015

Jason Derulo - Trumpets

And once more we have a potentially Fabulous Friday, and thus it's time to play an upbeat song that sets the tone for the weekend. One that never fails to get me in a good mood is Jason Derulo's 2013 single "Trumpets", perfectly catchy and amazingly celebratory in nature. The video adds scores to the fun, being as tongue in cheek as they come in the world of mainstream pop music. You can't help but smile. I hope. Also, check out previous Fabulous Friday entries here.

Watch and listen

onsdag 13. mai 2015

Johnny Cash's final recordings - an essay

Once again I have been writing an essay for Universal Music, this time concerning the release of the vinyl box containing all of Johnny Cash's American LP's, six in all. Helmed by producer Rick Rubin, these albums marked a new turn in The Man in Black's career, making him once again gain the respect as the amazingly powerful performer that he truly was, after his career was in the doldrums for a ten year period or so. The essay is written in Norwegian, so a dictionary or Google Translate will be of some help for those among you who don't know my language.


tirsdag 12. mai 2015

Kjøtt - (Jeg gleder meg til) år 2000

Kjøtt var det soleklart mest toneangivende av de norske punkbandene som oppsto i skjæringa 1979/80. Med Helge Gaarder på vokal og en svært ung Michael Krohn på trommer, hadde bandet to markante og svært forskjellige låtskrivere fra dag én, og det var nok en av mange årsaker til at Kjøtt ikke hadde en spesielt lang levetid. "(Jeg gleder meg til) år 2000" var en av flere aldeles fantastiske låter på bandets eneste LP-plate, Op., som kom i 1981, og den var skrevet av Michael. Det er en seig rocker som mer enn antyder at han noen år senere kom til å starte Raga Rockers, og den dystopiske teksten bærer også bud om det som skulle følge. Fantastisk låt!


The Smiths - This Charming Man

The Smiths is one of the bands that have made the biggest impact on me. Between 1983 and 1987 they released a vast amount of music, including four "proper" studio albums, three major compilations and a staggering 18 singles, most of them with one or two additional songs not to be found on the albums. The same goes for several of the A-sides, including their second single "This Charming Man", released in October 1983. It's still one of my favourite The Smiths songs, with Johnny Marr's trademark jingle-jangly guitar sound and Morrissey's wonderful wail. 32 years on, it still sounds fresh as a new dawn.

Watch and listen

mandag 11. mai 2015

Little Richard - The Girl Can't Help It

Jayne Mansfield plays the titular role in Frank Tashlin' 1956 movie The Girl Can't Help It, and revolves around the character Jerri Jordan and the apparent sexual magnetism that makes everyone yearn for her. Little Richard's title track is a saxophone-driven wonder, two and a half minutes of repetitive rock'n'roll at its finest, with a call and response theme that gets no point for originality but ten out of ten for how well it works. You can't help but love this song.


lørdag 9. mai 2015

Rival Sons - Electric Man

Californian rock back Rival Sons are the dumbest-sounding and coolest-sounding bunch this side of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, or, in the instance of "Electric Man" off their 2014 album Great Western Valkyrie, of The White Stripes. This is a song as cool and ballsy as it gets, a hedonistic rock song if ever there was one. I saw the band perform live at last year's Øyafestivalen and it was awesome. This video is pretty good too, so do enjoy!

Watch and listen

St. Germain - Real Blues

Who'd have thought? St. Germain, the French house/electronica artist named after one of the nicest Paris neighbourhoods there are (his real name being Ludovic Navarre), returns with new music, 15 years after his sophomore effort Tourist that racked up astounding sales back in the day when CD's actually was a commodity that could be sold to others than idiots like me. "Real Blues" is the first single off his self-titled third album that appears to be scheduled for an October release, and it's a funky, little tune with Malian instrumentation to go with the electronics, sampling the voice of the late, great blues musician Lightnin' Hopkins. A stunning track!


fredag 8. mai 2015

Lady Gaga - So Happy Could Die

It's another Fabulous Friday, and I've just woken up to blue skies, sun and a beautiful view from my room in a hotel outside Pafos on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Unfortunately I will have to leave that behind today, but on the other hand I'm going back home to my beautiful wife, so I guess it evens out. Anyway, it being Friday and all, I have chosen a great song that mysteriously was never released as a single. "So Happy I Could Die" was featured on the Lady Gaga EP The Fame Monster (2009), that was released on its own as well as being bundled with her debut album The Fame as a deluxe edition. I think it's one of her very best songs, described by Wikipedia as Europop-influenced which I guess is pretty much spot on. It makes me want to dance, and so does the rest of my Fabulous Friday choices. Check them out here.


torsdag 7. mai 2015

My friend Ronnie and my visit to Abbey Road - who'd have ever thought?

Abbey Road. It's more than a studio. It's more than a Beatles record. It's definitely more than a zebra crossing. Abbey Road is the Holy Grail of musicians and music fans from all over the world. Abbey Road is the last stop.

So, who'd have thought I - a former music journalist from Norway - would ever enter the doors of the Abbey Road Studios in London? I know I wouldn't, but one day in April my telephone rings and I see it's my musician friend Ronnie MAG Larsen. Ronnie used to be in a fantastic band called The Margarets several years ago, but they sadly disbanded, even after having made what I term the best song recorded during the entire 2000's. That's the way it goes though. Ronnie has now made a record with a band called Giske which is basically three out of five parts Margarets, himself and singer Alex Rinde and guitarist/producer/songwriter Rune Berg. He tells me their upcoming record Carousel Magic Spell is to be cut for vinyl in Abbey Road Studios and do I want to join him? Do I ever? The thing is that Alex is seriously ill and unable to make the trip to London and Rune suffers from a fear of flying. Ronnie wants someone to share the moment with, and because his wife can't come thinks of me. To say I'm flattered is a huge understatement, and I immediately say yes.

So, on a rainy day in late April of 2015 Ronnie and I head towards Abbey Road in a taxi after a short pilgrimage to Soho Square where I want to show him the bench with the Kirsty MacColl quote that also seems part of the Margarets heritage just like The Beatles does. And just so this is clear: Without The Beatles, there wouldn't be any The Margarets or in turn any Giske, or any record to cut at this historic site.

Without further ado I leave the word to Ronnie who tells the story of The Margarets and Giske, and of our trip to Abbey Road where we met the engineering legend Sean Magee. He can tell this story so much better than I can, so there's nothing left for me to say here. If you can't read Norwegian it's too bad though, so I hope you're able to work Google Translate to your advantage.


Sean Magee and Ronnie MAG Larsen

lørdag 2. mai 2015

Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White - I Don't Like It, I Love It

Florida rapper Flo Rida has got a new EP out called My House and current single "I Don't Like It, I Love It" is a fabulous song that genuinely screams of summer and good times, featuring vocal help from Robin Thicke with the added joy of the bass player from Earth Wind And Fire, Verdine White. It's a dead catchy song that marries hip hop, funk and pop music with summer hit written all over it, that should make dancefloors everywhere explode with joy.

Lyric video

Jason Isbell - 24 Frames

Former Drive-By Truckers member Jason Isbell was the man behind one of the best albums of 2013, Southeastern, featuring a score of songs written and recorded after a stint in rehab with him noting "This time I want to remember it all". And it really became a memorable record, with songs like "Elephant", "Stockholm" and "New South Wales" among its highlights. He's currently preparing the follow-up called Something More Than Free for a July 17 release, and the song "24 Frames" that he put up on his Soundcloud page is a stunner, a brilliant country-rock song that bodes very well for the album.


Blondie's first albums re-released on vinyl - here's my essay

Pop music as we know it without the influence of Debbie Harry is unthinkable. Universal Music is re-releasing Blondie's first six albums on vinyl next week and have commisioned me to write an essay about the New York-based band that made a huge impact on the world of pop (and rock) music in the second part of the 1970's, going on into the 80's. It's written in Norwegian though, but take a look anyway and play their music once more. You'll not be sorry.

Read and listen

Quantic & Nickodemus feat. Tempo & The Candela Allstars - Mi Swing Es Tropical

What a great song! "Mi Swing Es Tropical" is one of several great Latin-flavoured songs in Jon Favreau's wonderful feelgood film Chef, and is performed by a bunch of guys. Quantic is a British-born Columbia-based musician named Will Holland, Nickodemus I'm not sure about, he may be Dutch. Also present is the featured singer Hector "Tempo" Alomar and he's Puerto Rican, as is, I think, The Candela Allstars. No matter where any of these guys hail from, they deliver a fantastic tune, and their swing is indeed of the tropical variety. Do I know when it was first released? Either in 2005 (according to Discogs) or 2008 (according to a dubious Wikipedia article about Holland). I think Discogs is right, but never mind that, just dance!

Listen - and dance

fredag 1. mai 2015

Ben E. King - Stand By Me

One of the major soul singles of all time, Ben E. King's 1961 smash "Stand By Me" is the song we'll always remember him by. King died yesterday at 76 from what his agent termed "coronary problems", and boy did he leave a legacy behind! He was one of the lead singers of The Drifters from 1958 to 1960 and then embarked on a solo career where he enjoyed numerous big hits, most notably "Stand By Me", but also beautiful songs such as "I (Who Have Nothing)" and "Spanish Harlem". Tonight I'm sure they're singing his praise in Heaven. God bless!


Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together

Well, it's another Fabulous Friday, and it's also the International Workers' Day around the world. My Fab Friday tracks are intended to celebrate the fact that it signals time off from work, and what better way to mark the day than playing a song that can be seen to both celebrate work and at the same time's got a brilliant party vibe? Wilbert Harrison first wrote and recorded "Let's Stick Together" in 1962 as a mid-tempo 12 bar blues with it going nowhere fast. When he re-recorded it as "Let's Work Together" in 1969 though it reached number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year. Just a few months later it was a hit again, this time with Canned Heat who's got the most well-known version of the song. Bryan Ferry reached back to the original's title however when he recorded it as the title track for his third solo album, released in 1976, and that's the version we play today. The lyrics are slightly different of course, celebrating love instead of work. Also, be sure to check out my previous Fabulous Friday entries here.

Watch and listen