Tag Archives: fleetwood mac

1001 Songs – 1979: Part One

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

Hammond Song – The Roches

It’s nice to be back in the 1001 songs list. Weird how with the coronavirus lock-down we have somehow not been having time to do these – then again this is only the second weekend of what might be a long time. Anyway, let’s go back to 1979 as a bit of a temporary escape and wrap ourselves in the stunning harmonies of the Roche sisters. Not since doing the Mamas and the Papas have I heard such incredible harmonies in a folk song in this songs list.

Hammond is a place and not, as I thought, a reference to a Hammond organ. The production is minimal with the volume of the harmonies occasionally overwhelming my speakers and, probably, the causing the recording equipment to peak. With them, a guitar and another backing instrument I am not sure of, the voices of the sisters truly shine. It’s a stunning piece of folk that has a beautiful simplicity that you just don’t see nowadays.

Heaven – Talking Heads

I liked Remain in Light and have liked a number of other things that David Byrne has done before or since this song. However, I am at odds as to why this song would be included. It makes sense if you are making a list of David Byrne songs you must hear in order to hear his different facets, but there are any number of produced secular visions out there so I am not sure why this was chosen for the list. It’s fine and might make more sense in the context of the parent album, but not so much as a standalone.

The Eton Rifles – The Jam

I didn’t know this song by name, but the moment the chant of ‘Eton Rifles’ came in I had this big moment of recognition. As a genre work, ‘The Eton Rifles’ has definite punk leanings but feels very sixties. Guess that this is the sort of music that was another off-shoot of the punk implosion and a song that, given the lack of testing for coronavirus for those unable to pay for it, feels relevant once again as a poke at the upper classes playing pretend. I can see how Paul Weller would be apoplectic that an Etonian like David Cameron would love the song he wrote – but then again it’s a good shout song no matter your politics.

London Calling – The Clash

Man, it’s been years since I wrote up the parent album as part of my Acclaimed Albums list. This is an actual apocalyptic song and I am listening to it at a time when people are using that word rather cavalierly. Good grief, so many of these songs are making me think of the coronavirus pandemic happening in the world outside the apartment. The apocalypse in here is more about nuclear apocalypse because of this being written during the Cold War – not being devastated by some sort of awful virus.

Like ‘The Eton Rifles’, ‘London Calling’ is another song whose genre is a concoction made in the wake of punk. This time, it’s a punk feeling with a reggae beat in the back – which I guess as a genre would soon start to crystalise into ska. I would hope that the next song would help take me away from coronavirus, but it’s Joy Division.

Transmission – Joy Division

Ah yes transmission, like the transmission of coronavirus. Sorry, I’ll be good. This has absolutely nothing that can make me think of the pandemic other than the need to sometimes just accept and dance like no one’s watching until we all fall down.

‘Transmission’ is amazing. Like a proper amazing post-punk song that is so cavernous in it’s sound that it makes me think of the xx if they ever decided to go punk. There is a truth in this song that sometimes ignorance is bliss, so just dance to the radio and what you are being fed. In modern times, where we are more and more inundated with all the information available on the internet, a song like this can still apply to the echo chambers we create online that have helped create flat-earth and anti-vaxx movements. For me, it might become a good song to make me stop checking news constantly through the lock-down and just dance.

Voulez-Vous – ABBA

Okay, I am always happy to see ABBA on a list like this. I adore them as a band to the point of having gone to the ABBA museum in Stockholm and will play their albums every now and then. Maybe it’s because I love them that I am interested as to why ‘Voulez-Vous’ is one of the three songs to end up on the 1001 list. Like, I really get ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘The Winner Takes It All’, but this feels like a more normal song of theirs.

Then again, this is a song that marks the end of disco. It’s the only song of theirs that I can think of that has a prolonged dance break – let alone a disco dance break. And, unlike the disco breaks elsewhere, ABBA knew how to pitch the timing perfectly so you didn’t get too bored or too tired. Sure, there is a mix out there with a longer break for the clubs but thank you ABBA for making a good at home version.

Beat the Clock – Sparks

Right, so I adored ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’ because of the glam and gun shot ridiculousness. I don’t know why, but I never went outside of that song to explore more of their discography. With ‘Beat the Clock’ that is going to change. Listening to this I had two main thoughts – firstly how amazing is it that synthpop is finally here in the 1001 list. Also, holy hell this is exactly what you consider 1980s music and the Sparks managed to pre-date thanks to this collaboration with Giorgio Moroder. It never ceases to amaze me when this list throws up a song like this which pre-dates what you expect, but this one in particular has given me so much joy.

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

A new wave song with ABBA keyboards and a catchy chorus that is in fact a comment on The Troubles in Northern Ireland – the titular Oliver being a reference to Oliver Cromwell and his army who invaded Ireland in the 1600s. I am always a fan of a song that sounds cheerful but, under the surface, is a darker side – so ‘Oliver’s Army’ is right up my street. The melody is upbeat and so well written as a counter-point to the lyrics which reference The Troubles as well as the Berlin Wall and acts of British imperialism. It’s radio-friendly almost pop, that slam you when you read the lyrics – plus the cover of the parent album is glorious to look at.

Tusk – Fleetwood Mac

Ending the first third of 1979 with the first single released by Fleetwood Mac after the cultural juggernaut of Rumours. This is something that is utterly different and you have to appreciate the risk that a song like this would have been for a band who were having to make a follow-up to one of the biggest albums of all times.

It’s pretty much all drums and the occasional brass interruption. Sure there are some lyrics in here, but they’re secondary to the relentless drumbeat – based on the music that was used when they would come out on stage when on tour. The change in direction is interesting and I would like to see where this more avant-pop leads them on an album, as a standalone song I am yet to be convinced.

Progress: 509/1021

1001 Songs – 1977: Part Three

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

Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees

This is it, the last batch of songs from 1977 and we’re beginning with one of the biggest songs from one of the biggest cinema soundtracks ever. A song that has been used to teach CPR techniques thanks to it’s BPM and how ingrained in the pop culture it is.

In many ways, it’s a very deceptive song as nearly everything about it is meant to make you smile, want to dance and generally have a good time. However, within those falsetto voices are lyrics about surviving on the streets of New York City. It makes it a perfect match for the film Saturday Night Fever because that deals with a similar subject of duality.

I know that, from their previous song on the list, that disco was not what the Bee Gees set out to do – but they do it so well.

Wonderous Stories – Yes

This feels about as close as you can get to something resembling pop whilst remaining a prog rock out. It’s a ballad about a lovely day in Montreux, Switzerland and it’s just a very beautiful track. Also, for a prog rock song, it’s actually very simple. Sure there’s a lot going on with the electric sounds and the two types of guitar, but everything flows well together.

Apparently the band don’t like this song as it is too accessible. Makes sense, as I quite liked it.

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

Classic! Rumours is one of the best albums ever produced and it’s hard to deny that this is a major highlight. The fact that Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album gets two songs on this list and Rumours gets one is a choice. Would have been great to have had ‘The Chain’ on here for being a very different kind of song – but this list has bigger issues than that.

On an album of break-up songs, ‘Go Your Own Way’ is the song that works the best as that feeling of ‘just get out of my life’. Buckingham’s raw vocals and the fact that so much needed to be over-dubbed as they just weren’t recording together. It’s such a great song of catharsis and I’m going to listen to it again before moving on.

“Heroes” – David Bowie

Another iconic song here. Of course, me being me, I know this most from being in Moulin Rouge‘s ‘Elephant Love Medley’ as the section just before the big climax. It’s one of those songs that I know from so many different places like ‘Regular Show’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and a huge number of adverts that I am not sure how many times I’ve actually heard the whole song.

I love the story behind the recording of this album where they rigged three microphones at increasingly further distances away and, as the song progressed, the switched on microphone would move further from Bowie – which explains the increased intensity as the song goes on. It’s not my favourite Bowie, but definitely one I can admire.

Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Right, so this is the title song from the final Bob Marley album on my albums list. I know, from podcasts that I listen to, that so many musical artists that I love really have been inspired by his music. I just. I just can’t.

The first minute or two of the song was good, I can appreciate a good protest song or a song about politics – but there’s no moving from the first two minutes. It just felt cut and pasted enough times to fill eight minutes. At least with ‘I Feel Love’ there was variation to keep it going. I guess I should just rip off the plaster and cover this album…

River Song – Dennis Wilson

Why has the life of Dennis Wilson not been made into a miniseries. A man who was part of one of the biggest acts of the 1960s, was involved with Charles Manson, had troubles with drugs and then a tragic death at a young age.

What ‘River Song’ shows is that, whilst Brian Wilson was incredibly important to the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson had some great talent too. This is a beautiful song about someone seeking a simpler life. Knowing about some of his history, it’s sad he never found it.

Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC

Firstly, it’s glad to see that we are about to reach a far harder section of the list as a lot of these songs in today’s post have been on the quieter side. Also, how great is it to have a hard rock song that celebrates a plus-sized woman for being an excellent lover. It’s a song that is weirdly body positive… which isn’t something I was expecting when I saw the title.

Black Generation – Richard Hell & The Voidoids

Punk isn’t dead yet (then again, why would it be, this list isn’t in completely alphabetical order) so it’s nice to have it as the genre for one of the year’s final songs. In the end, like it or loathe it, the journey to punk has been a large part of the last 10-12 posts in the songs list. Now it’s time to see where that journey is heading now.

For a punk song it’s melodic (think more Clash or Ramones) and was a song that helped influence ‘Pretty Vacant’ by the Sex Pistols. It’s just one of those weird quirks of release schedules that ‘Blank Generation’ and it’s album were released after the Sex Pistols exploded.

Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf

Man this song is so over the top, but that really is the charm of it. It reminds me of an overblown version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, but with more drama and less heart. Then there are elements that feel drawn from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

I have a feeling that this song is on the list because it’s the title track of the classic slow burn album that has become iconic. They really should have put on ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ as that does everything ‘Bat Out of Hell’ does and a whole lot better.

Lust for Life – Iggy Pop

Okay, fine, I get how the Lust for Life album can end up with two tracks on the list. That drumbeat is just so iconic. It’s weird when you’ve heard an element of a song in so many places and then, for the first time, actually hear it in context.

I’m really not sure how this can fit on the same album as ‘The Passenger’, but one day I’m sure I’ll find out. In the end though, I’m not so keen on the rest of the song outside of the drumbeat – but it does makes for a cool way to end the year.

Progress: 474/1021

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

Music Monday: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 18/250Title: Rumours
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Year: 1977
Position: #58 (Previously: #59)

For a number of people of my generation or younger the first exposure to Fleetwood Mac will come from one of two sources. Firstly, Glee did an episode in 2011 where the album Rumours was the central focus and they actually did some decent covers including ‘Don’t Stop’ serving as the closer. The other main source (for those of us in the UK that is) is the use of ‘The Chain’ as the theme music for the BBC’s coverage of Formula 1 racing.  Personally, my first exposure was seeing the music video for ‘Everywhere’ on one of those music stations, a rather beautiful take on the Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman.

Rumours is one of those albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Shania Twain’s Come on Over in that I know a large number of people that will have owned it at some point. Much like how those two were one of “those” albums so was Rumours. Having reportedly sold over 40 million copies around the world it stands to reason that everyone will know someone that purchased this album.

As albums go it is one of those that I forget how much I enjoy it until I start playing it again. I know that I love the song ‘Go Your Own Way’ because it has memories of playing Guitar Hero with my best friend and her (now) husband. For similar reasons I have an attachment to the song ‘One Way or Another’ from Blondie’s Parallel Lines but I’ll talk about that another time.

The odd thing here is that the stories surrounding the production of Rumours is probably as interesting, if not more than the album itself. There is no doubting that this is a classic and influential album… but being the product of broken up relationships, drugs and a decadent recording schedule it had to either be inevitable that this would lead to the album hailed as their best (ironic due to the complete mess the band’s personal lives were at the time) or an utter shock that they would somehow use the pain to make something so timeless.

Then again, so many of the great songs have been the products of heartache and the suspicions that can form before, during and after it. I mean ABBA produced their darkest and, in my opinion best album (The Visitors) since the divorces of the two couples lead to new writing territory. There is a cruelty in musical partners writing for each other since there are times where you can make your ex sing something particularly edged.

Rumours takes a different tactic from The Visitors with the different parties singing their own take on broken relationships whether it be optimism for the future (‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Dreams’), a slightly darker take on things (‘Go Your Own Way’) or about the feeling of loss and blindness that comes about when everything falls apart (‘Gold Dust Woman’).

The most interesting song on the album, however, is ‘The Chain’. Since it is actually cobbled together from a number of songs written by all members of the band which was then spliced together (apparently by-hand through the use of razor blades) and formed this chimeric record which has come to symbolize the fractured nature of the band. An essential listen for anyone looking to start their own band really.