Tag Archives: Candi Staton

1001 Songs – 1976: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Hotel California – The Eagles

Wasn’t I just here last month with the album of the same name? I guess that the song is right in that you can check out, but never leave.

‘Hotel California’ is one of those weirdly immortal songs that functions as a bit of a fun house mirror. Due to the ambiguity of the lyrics and the overall slightly odd nature, lots of people get different things and make different interpretations of the song despite them having a very particular idea.

It’s unsettling, but charming and wouldn’t feel out of place in a new adaptation of The Shining.

Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers

Okay, here’s another bit of déjà vu – albeit from a few months further ago than Hotel California.

Thanks to this proto-punk song being originally recorded in 1972, ‘Roadrunner’ feels a little bit out of time compared to the actual punk music that’s being released in 1976. In fact, it feels like someone decided to take a rock and roll song from the 1950s and added some slight punk elements to it.

However, that works in it’s favour as it showcases the more upbeat side of punk that the Ramones showcased in the first half of this batch of songs.

American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

So this is another one of those songs that, over the years, I have heard in a number of different films and television shows. The first one that comes to mind is Elliot’s transformation in Scrubs after the network executives demanded an image change of her character in order to appeal to the young male demographic.

It’s one of those great songs that epitomises that longing to be something more than you already are. Upbeat enough, but with that hint of melancholy to it which makes it resonate with you.

Detroit Rock City – Kiss

I think this might be the first Kiss song that I have heard other than ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. I know the title, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually heard it before.

I guess that this is where I’m going to hear the first beginnings of what is going to end up becoming metal in a few years time. Not quite for me, but I’m interested to see where this ends up.

Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

Now for some disco. It feels so tame coming after the last four songs and so makes for a nice respite. Then you read up that this song is actually about being in an abusive relationship and suddenly you wonder why you would turn this into a disco song.

Lyrical content aside, ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ is one of those songs that I really know – but I’m left wondering how it’s so famous. It’s one of those songs that makes more sense in a disco than in a living room on a Sunday afternoon I guess.

Chase The Devil – Max Romeo

Well what do you know, another reggae song. We have no songs from East Asia and limited songs from Africa and the Middle East, but this list has space for another reggae song. I could probably say the same of other genres, it’s just that reggae i one of those genres I just can’t find foothold for a fandom.

As the reggae songs on this list go, ‘Chase The Devil’ is one of the better ones out there. Probably because it is interesting, more varied and was sampled into a dance track that I remember from my youth.

New Rose – The Damned

The moment that ‘New Rose’ made a tongue-in-cheek reference to ‘Leader of the Pack’ with their spoken word intro – I was totally on board with what was to follow.

Where the Sex Pistols were the big punk act to come from the UK, it’s interesting to note that The Damned were actually the first UK punk act to release a single. It’s another punk song that isn’t angry or political, but is a good thrashing song about nothing – just phrases that went with the riffs.

And then everything seemed to change with the next song…

Anarchy in the U.K. – Sex Pistols

It’s really interesting to hear ‘New Rose’ and ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ back to back. When you have the chance to compare and contrast these two songs who have their own special places in British punk history – you see just how wide the punk genre is.

On the one hand you have the more visceral and thrashing ‘New Rose’ which has an urgent and immediate quality that I’ve come to see from other punk and proto-punk acts on this list. ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’, on the other hand, is far more deliberate. There’s a political message, the vocals are more prominent, it’s angrier and it feels like a song that can be more easily replicated when performed live.

Honestly, I prefer ‘New Rose’ to this song – but that might be because a lot of the impact has been lost to time and the development of music since then.

Poor Poor Pitiful Me – Warren Zevon

Okay this is such a weird song. An incredibly sarcastic country rock song written as a counter-point to country music’s penchant for self-pity. The protagonist is this monumental screw-up who goes through a lot of the trappings of a self-pitying country song with a bit of S&M added in for good measure.

Honestly, this is one of those songs I need to hand when I am beginning to spiral into a depression. It makes me smile and it has such an edge to it that it’ll just kick me into gear when the blues begin to encroach on me.

Underground – The Upsetters

This is an interesting way to end the group of songs from 1976. We’re not going to see the first electronic song until Kraftwerk appear in the first group of 1977 songs, but here is something that is starting to get there.

This is dub. I’ve never heard of this as a genre, but I definitely know of some of the genres it ended up influencing (such as dubstep and trip hop). If you had told me the path to Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ would be via reggae going electric then I would have just stared blankly at you… but I see it here.

If this is where reggae ends up branching off, then I am happy to hear more of it. Stripped back instruments, reduced vocals and more playing around with studio effects. Man, this final song really has thrown me for a loop.

Progress: 444/1021

1001 Songs – 1969: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

My Way – Frank Sinatra

For many legendary artists there are songs that come to define them. Aretha has ‘Respect‘, ABBA has ‘Dancing Queen’, Nirvana has ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ and Frank Sinatra has ‘My Way’.

This is very much US crooning through the lens of the French chanson. Few American male singers of note have had the voice and range to do justice to this song about looking back on a life lived. It’s not about necessarily having a good life, but about having a life on your own terms. It’s a defiant and somewhat remorseful song that should only be attempted by singers in the final or penultimate act of their life.

When I hear Sinatra sing it I imagine an abusive father being kicked out of the house and trying to show some semblance of pride. I can imaging the Denzel Washington character in Fences being a huge fan of this song.

I guess what I am trying to say is… if this was sung by someone who was less of a piece of work than Frank Sinatra I might be more on board with this despite the fact that the production is so overblown. But I’m not.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack

So this was recorded and first released by Roberta Flack in 1969 and ended up winning her Grammys in 1972. It’s weird how the Grammys work. Then again – Lemonade.

As is obvious from the title, this is a love song. Interestingly it is a song written by Ewan MacColl for the woman he would later marry… who would also be his third and final wife. So that’s kinda sweet.

Roberta Flack clearly has a big set of pipes, but manages to show remarkable restraint when delivering the song. It comes out every now and then, but she keeps a lid on it for over five minutes. Not going to say that I didn’t get a bit bored during this though. It could have been cut for time.

I’m Just a Prisoner (of Your Good Lovin’) – Candi Staton

Probably better known for the immortal singles ‘You Got the Love’ and ‘Young Hearts, Run Free’ we are at the first of Candi Staton’s three entries on this list. All three songs are incredibly different with ‘I’m Just A Prisoner’ being an example of soul done well.

There’s a rasp to her voice that gives her that extra bit of personality compared to other singers of this era – although we won’t see that rasp in full force until her later songs. I look forward to reaching 1976.

She Moves Through the Fair – Fairport Convention

Here we are back in blighty and we have an early example of electric folk. This particular song is a rather traditional Irish folk song that is beautifully sung by lead vocalist Sandy Denny.

It’s an understated affair that brings in influences like Van Morrison and Simon and Garfunkel to update traditional songs to present day using contemporary instruments and arrangements. As music goes it isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it shows just how these influences can separate off.

Many Rivers to Cross – Jimmy Cliff

Okay this selection of songs is a rather downplayed bunch. We’re crossing many genre borders and that’s not something that could have been done when starting off on this list.

According to Wikipedia this is a reggae/gospel ballad – more emphasis on the gospel thanks to that electric organ in the background. For some reason I am getting a massive hint of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ which would place this song more into the soul category… which makes a lot more sense than reggae.

I guess that thanks to all these different genres sprouting the ability to section them off really is starting to get harder. Although, I would be hard-pressed to call this reggae.

In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

Thank you South Park for ruining this song. I listen to this and all I can think of is Eric Cartman singing this about Kenny’s family.

Then again, this is an incredibly overdone song with it’s ghostly backing vocals and Elvis’s affected emotion. The lyrics are fascinating to listen to and, honestly, I wish this had retained the original title of ‘The Vicious Circle’. It’s all about the vicious cycle of poverty and how there are many that cannot escape it. All a bit rich when sung by Elvis Presley who didn’t want to do a political song.

It’s also worth noting that in 2007 Lisa-Marie Presley did this song as a posthumous duet with her father…

Oh Well, Parts 1 & 2 – Fleetwood Mac

So this is the first song in a good while that’s mostly instrumental. Part 1 (which is the first 2 minutes of this 9 minute song) features vocials and is more inkeeping with the rock music of the time, but the rest is more classical.

You have to hand it to Fleetwood Mac for trying to have a 7 minute instrumental track inspired by Spanish guitar as a single. The use of the first two minutes as the A-side was against the songwriter’s wishes with it being a throwaway piece for the B-side. Somewhere along the way the tracks got swapped and it is those first two minutes that went on to be a hit.

Despite being a throwaway ‘Oh Well, Part 1’ went on to be an influential song because of how it fused harder rock with blues rock. As a single it showcases two very different sides of the same songwriter – so I’m glad that I got to hear both parts,

The Real Thing – Russell Morris

Oh psychedelia. We are seeing you on your way out by now in most markets and being replaced with harder rock or a revival of folk… so of course we see a bit example of Australian psychedelia. Without the instant sharing of musical influences things would have trickled around the world so much slower.

It’s not your regular psychedelic rock song. This had the whole music producer toolkit behind it which lead to a lot of interesting effects being used that make this song rather unique and mindbending. The ending alone where it appears that another song is trying to intrude on ‘The Real Thing’ is remarkably odd.

At the time this was the most expensive song in Australian history, coming in at about the same cost as an average album.

Progress: 276/1021