Here it is- the second list of 2013. There are still a few local musicians in this set, and a few songs by Celtic Thunder singers, though none actually by Celtic Thunder this time. I started out thinking about music I grew up with, though, specifically music that was new in the 80’s and early 90’s and the songs I had in my tiny tape collection as a kid. Heavy metal was not quite so ‘heavy’ or noisy when I was a kid, so nowadays my music tastes don’t always jive with hard rock/heavy metal radio stations’ playlists, but back in the 80’s and 90’s I wore all black (mostly torn black jeans and band tshirts), and my music tastes kept my radio dial on hard rock and heavy metal programming almost exclusively. I am only 4’11” now, and I was of course shorter in early high school and middle school, so while I thought I looked ‘fierce’, I probably looked silly, obnoxious or faintly adorable to the adults who had to put up with me back then. Anyway, ….
1. “High Enough”- Damn Yankees (Damn Yankees): This band was formed in 1989, so it’s not exactly an 80’s band, but it brought together Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent of The Amboy Dukes and Michael Cartellone, who would later join Lynyrd Skynyrd. So, it’s a band that bridges the 80’s and 90’s rock music worlds, and “High Enough” was a big hit for them in the early 90’s. Damn Yankees is not currently an active band, though its members are still playing with other bands and projects and according to wikipedia, these guys have not said they won’t get a new album &/or tour together in the future as the Damn Yankees.
2. “We Didn’t Start the Fire”- Billy Joel (The Essential Billy Joel) : At the Walled City Sessions show in December, Ben Kelly performed an original song, an adaptation of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” highlighting elements of history and culture pertaining to Derry, for their “City of Culture”, which is a promotional push aiming to attract Derry the attention this city no doubt deserves as a cultural center in Northern Ireland. I still prefer the original, but with a few more runs Ben might polish his version enough to give the original a decent challenger.
3. “What A Life”- The Bangles (Sweetheart of the Sun) : This song is off of a 2011 Bangles album, not an 80’s album. I may do a separate post on these ladies- clearly I’ve not been paying much attention to them, because they got back together a few years ago and they’ve recorded and released 2 albums since 2000, and they toured the US, Canada and Europe last year.
4. “The Prayer – with Charlotte Church”- Josh Groban (Josh Groban) : Since this was the first version of this song I ever heard, all the rest that don’t have 2 voices and the Italian lyrics on one voice sound incomplete. You might think that my interest in this song, besides the Italian, is in the then-teenage Josh Groban singing on this track. But, no, this time the focus falls on Charlotte Church, who released the first song off her upcoming EP-release “Glitterbombed” just this past month. Charlotte released another EP earlier last year, and with these new releases she is at last back to her singing career. She didn’t have much success with her last pop album in the US, apparently- I had no idea she had even released a pop album, so clearly we were not targeted that thoroughly by whatever promotional campaign she had in 2009. Hopefully she has better success here in the future, because she still has a great voice and seems like a very nice, well-balanced person.
5. “Black Velvet”- Alannah Myles (Alannah Myles ): This one is an 80’s song, 1989 anyway. Actually this was the first song I added to this week’s playlist, and I thought seriously of making an all 80’s list. There are quite a few on this week’s list anyway, and plenty more are tucked away fro later lists. I grew up in the 80’s, so for me they are old favorites, but the older I get, the more people there are who have never heard these songs or bands. I have a couple local musician friends I could imagine covering this song very well, so hopefully this one will make a comeback on the local country/pop scene soon.
6. “Poison”- Bell Biv DeVoe (Bell Biv DeVoe Greatest Hits) : Hip-Hop/R&B is most emphatically not my genre, but there are always exceptions, and this was one of the exceptions when I was a kid. I’ve heard this one covered rather well at a festival this past season, so it’s still around, though sadly many of the younger folks in the crowd didn’t realize it was a cover. My brother is actually a hip-hop artist, so it’s always nice to have a few (a very few) tunes upon which we can agree. (I know Danielle, of Danielle Ate the Sandwich fame, always comments on how awful her stage name is, but it could be worse. My brother’s stage name, for many years now, is “Booger”. If I’d called him that when we were little kids I’d have been spanked or grounded, or sent to my room for a time out, but now he has lots of fans for whom that’s just his name.)
7. “Aphasia”- Europe (Wings of Tomorrow) : It has no words, just lots of guitar, bass and drums, and normally I don’t go for instrumentals over songs with words, but this is one of my top 5 favorite Europe songs. If I hear the first few notes, I can whistle the rest of the song from memory, even if I haven’t heard the whole song for a few years (though of course at this point I’ve heard this playlist a few dozen times just this week, so whistling any of ’em from memory would be pretty easy).
8. “Freckles”- SHEL (SHEL): “I thought love would be so easy, like pulling petals from a daisy…” This one gets stuck in my head a lot, so it’s finally making it onto my playlists. SHEL is booking dates left and right, by the looks of their facebook posts, so no matter where (in the US) you are reading this post, there’s a decent chance that SHEL will be playing a show near you this year. If I had to guess which band would hit it big from around here now that the Lumineers have hit the charts, SHEL would be one of the bands on my shortlist for sure. Once again, I really ought to get over my distaste for autograph collecting and get some scribbles from these ladies the next time I see them here, before they are too famous and have too many bodyguards to be approachable by a mere music blogger.
9. “I Know My Love”- Malachi Cush ( Celtic Lightning ): I know I heard this song before, sung by a woman, and I could have sworn it was a Celtic Woman singer, but at the moment I am blanking on exactly who I recall singing this lovely tune. I’d love to hear the Celtic Thunder lads do this one, too, but in the meantime, Malachi Cush does an excellent job on it. The rhythm in this song is one that turns up in other Irish songs, especially dance tunes. Malachi Cush, btw, is another County Tyrone lad, though from Donaghmore, so not the same part of Tyrone as Ryan Kelly. Malachi launched into the music world through another one of those singer competitions, this time one called “Fame Academy”. He was involved in the same 2003 Children in Need special that Ryan participated in, and he’s been busy as a singer ever since, mainly in Northern Ireland. Malachi Cush has a his fifth studio album out on itunes now, a collection of religious songs called Songs for the Soul.
10. “Havana”- Hipple Street (Hipple Street: the EP) : Hipple Street definitely sounds a bit like an 80’s band, though this was the band Neil Byrne was singing and playing guitar for prior to his joining Celtic Thunder. It’s easy to forget how much more is online now relative to just a few years ago, but there is very little virtual flotsam left on the internet from the years Hipple Street was active, but hopefully I’ll have enough stuff to put a decent bio/profile up on this band sometime this year.
11. “Faith In a Man”- Danielle Ate the Sandwich (Like a King) : The music video for this song is absolutely gorgeous. It’s in black & white, a film noir mobster story with costumes and a cute storyline running alongside the song. Back when we all got our visual music entertainment from the same single TV source, good ole MTV, this song’s music video could easily have pushed Danielle into the top 100, probably even the top 40 for their year-end countdown. The song is cute enough anyway, video or no video, and if you have yet to check out the rest of the album, you should. FYI: Danielle will be performing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science when she is in Colorado later this month, which sounds like a really cool setting for this lady’s music.
12. “Kick It Out”- Heart (Little Queen (1947-1949)): This song and The Judds’ “Girls’ Night Out” were the ones I relied on for background music whenever I had to clean my room in a hurry, when I was a kid. I’d stick the two cassette tapes in my shiny black dual-deck autoreverse tape deck, and set the thing to play a continuous loop of the two albums, and long before I heard them both twice through my room would be spotless. This song was particularly good, because it supplies the extra energy necessary to stay motivated beyond the time it took to just shove all my Barbie dolls under the bed and jam all the dirty laundry back into the corner of the closet.
13. “Tactless Questions”- Vyvienne Long (Caterpillar Sarabande ): Vyvienne Long has the same edge to her in this song as I always admired in Vixen, Heart and Stevie Nicks. If I was looking for passive aggressive ways of dealing with certain family members, this would be a very useful song to play in the background during telephone conversations.
14. “The Canon (Strange Love)”- Jetset Apathy (3 Songs) : The third of the songs from Ross Crean’s recent project. As I’ve mentioned before, the only thing wrong with this EP is that it’s too short. It’s a nice taste of a more rock oriented side of this fellow, but I’m sure he does more than 3 songs when he gets a stage to himself for more than a few minutes, and if these 3 are so well-developed, I suspect he might have more music hidden away somewhere that I haven’t heard yet. Ross has other interests besides music, of course, so I guess I’ll just have to be patient and go back to working through his other albums on my playlists till he releases some more new tunes. “The Canon”, btw, sounds quite a bit like some of the Depeche Mode stuff I was thinking about using on this week’s list. Actually, of the three songs on this EP, this one’s vocals are also closest, to my ear anyway, to the stuff Ross was singing on his Irish influenced Blackwater album.
15. “To Where You Are”- Paul Byrom (This Is the Moment ): I finally picked one! There are a lot of different versions of this song to choose from, even just within the artists I favor, and I’m not adding them all to these lists. So, after listening to them all a few times recently, I played back just the instrumental intro and noted which voices I most anticipated hearing. It was actually a toss-up between Paul Byrom and Rhydian, but I love that velvety sound Paul has, which Rhydian doesn’t. Another week I’d have picked Rhydian instead, for equally rationalizable reasons, but Rhydian will have to turn up on a future list with a different tune instead, maybe something in Welsh.
16. “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)”- Queen (A Day at the Races) : It seemed so sad that I had so little Queen on my 2012 lists, considering that Queen was all I listened to for much of highschool. Queen is not the new Celtic Thunder on my lists, but I hope to at least include a reasonable number of these classic pop/rock songs over the next 50-odd lists. “Teo Torriatte” is partly in Japanese, because the lads of Queen fell in love with Japan at the end of the 70’s. It’s some of the prettiest lyrics Queen ever recorded, I think.
17. “Not a Sad Song”- Better Than Bacon (Better Than Bacon ) : This was my favorite song from among the music I heard while writing up my posts on the SpokesBUZZ CD release party last month. I no longer remember which songs these guys did- I know they only did 3 songs, but it was the first of 9 mini-sets, so I no longer recall which songs I heard there. I do recall liking the guitar solos in the stuff James (the guitarist) played at that show, and I like the guitar bits in this song equally well.
18. “Orange Moon”- Keith Harkin (Keith Harkin) : Keith just won the Derry Cultural Icon contest that has been going on via facebook this past month or so. Considering that the other people nominated include some of the icons I would be far more nervous about meeting, famous people who have helped shape what it means to be Irish, Keith should feel very honored. No doubt the Thunderheads helped win him this #1 finish, but there really aren’t so many Thunderheads that those well-established cultural figures could not have won if the image they project were really the current image of Derry culture. Keith is the next generation of that earlier image, covering a lot of the old songs, and carrying on a lot of the lifestyle that non-Irish people find so interestingly Irish. And he’s cute, even when he’s tired and grumpy (I only ever saw him in person when he was tired and grumpy, so far).
19. “I’m a Man Of Constant Sorrow”- Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother Where Art Thou (soundtrack)) : Dan Tyminski sang the lead vocals for this song (so he was not ‘covering’ the soundtrack song exactly when he sang this one at last year’s New West Fest). I’ve had this song in the queue for a while now, but with all the discussion among Celtic Thunder fans about Celtic Thunder performing this song, I figured it was a good time to put it in the mix. “Man of Constant Sorrow” was written by Dick Burnett, an orphaned, blind folk musician from Kentucky whose life-story echoes the spirit of the stories portrayed in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou (read the wikipedia page on this guy). Burnett died before I was born, unfortunately- he’d have been a fascinating person to meet and talk to.
20. “Thunderbird”- Quiet Riot (Metal Health) : Another song from my childhood. I LOVE this song, and when I was angry or upset as a kid, I would stalk off to my room, slam my door, and put Quite Riot on, volume cranked up as loud as I dared (which sometimes wasn’t very loud). Most of the album would match my mood, of course, projecting to my folks and whoever was in the house that I was mad, but this last song would always put a damper on my anger. Some days I’d skip back to the start of the tape without hearing “Thunderbird” so I could stay mad a while longer before I finally listened to this last song. “The song “Thunderbird” is dedicated to guitarist and ex-member Randy Rhoads. Although the bulk of the song was written for Rhoads while he was still alive, Kevin DuBrow added one final verse as a tribute to Rhoads after he died in a plane crash on March 19, 1982.(wikipedia)” Quiet Riot is still performing, and until a few years ago they always dedicated this song to Randy Rhoads when they played it. Since 2007, when Kevin DuBrow died of a cocaine overdose, this song has also been dedicated to its writer when it is performed.