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Write Here, Write Now: 8.23 – Justify a Whole Lotta Love

Wax Audio –  Justify a Whole Lotta Love. The song doesn’t remain the same, eh readers?

Madonna takes on John, John-Paul, Jimmy and Robert. Though there’s not much of the Bonham beat in this track.

With an opening snarl from Percy, the track quickly builds up a rhythm that keeps going throughout the song. Jimmy’s riff makes an appearance, tautly captured in little bursts. before returning to more words from the Led Zep frontman as he struts the stage with his stuff like a preening cockerel. The Justify my Love synths play as consistently through the track as the rhythm and are pretty much the only reminder that it’s not just a Led Zep song put to the visuals from a Madonna video.

That is until the elapse of a full 2 minutes when we first hear from Madge -as if she’s expecting foreplay before she performs. Languorously, lasciviously and completely in control, she sings four lines of her chorus, before letting Plant off the lease for a lot of vocal acrobatics accompanied by the grumbling rubble of Page’s guitar.

Every now and then Madonna steps up to the mike to remind us she’s still there, but the strength of her role in this mash up seems to be the absence of her singing. As if she’S rationing out her presence –  a little bit of Ciccone goes a long way to drive the English boys wild, but wild in a way she wants it – marshalled by the taut and volume limited rhythm of the track to give great traction towards the track’s climax.

I think it is a great pairing. Whole Lotta Love is a real cliche that I have heard too many times in the same order. This track takes some of the amazing vocals and instrumental playing  and freshens them up in a new setting. As for Justify My Love, Led Zep jab a big cable of fizzing electrons deep into its nether regions and reanimate its decaying husk.

Mashups – a way to reinvigorate the  listening pleasures of a jaded palette dried out by too much half listening to the same old rock.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.18 – Relax Billie Jean

MsBlueCat – Relax Billie Jean. “The Best of three” – sometimes, the easy path is the best.

Nothing very sophisticated or complicated about this mash-up, that is pretty much Billie Jean with a few frills thrown in from Frankie and Deep(ie). And there’s nothing wrong with that. Like a warm bath, there are few surprises, but a pleasurable immersion in familiar sounds, albeit placed in slightly unexpected places to tease and mildly surprise.

The Billie Jean bassline and drumbeat bumping along in the background make for a nice bouncing musical bed. And what delightful bedfellows we have – lots of space around Michael’s taut vocals for calming interjections from Holly – “Relax (Michael)” and occasional samples of that oh-so-familiar riff from Ritchie.

This is no longer a song about unwanted pregnancies, delayed sexual pleasure or arson, it is a neutered and meaningless paean to chilling out and dancing. And what’s wrong with that?


Write Here, Write Now: 7.4 – Frontier

Dead Can Dance – Frontier. “I see the proud man”.

I was intrigued to see that this Dead Can Dance song came up when I typed frontier into my music search. (It was that or The Corrs, The Avalanches or Loop Guru). In some ways younger than Donald Fagen, in other ways much older – in the music influences they pursue. One a maximalist music production, the other much more still and focussed around a few austere instruments.

Deep humming and drumming on an old can with knee bells chinking is what the opening sounds like. Then the singing starts – what sounds like Cocteau-like made-up words actually have meaning.

I like the tin can battering, together with the distant hammering ,  it contrasts nicely with the haunted cathedral acoustic humming. On this occasion, Liza Gerrard’s vocals don’t do anything for me.

How might the two songs relate? Well, I suppose the Dead Can Dance one could be from the woman’s perspective on the morning after the night before with Donald.

“The bloodstains on the floor.
He left, he’s left.
He’s gone today,
He’s gone back”

That would match with what I’ve heard of the sleazy reputation of Steely Dan, even if it is mere coincidence.

Musically, the more I listen to the Dead Can Dance track, the more Fondly I remember the Donald Fagen song for the lasting impression that the complex interweaving instruments left after multiple listens. Like many Dead Can Dance songs, it’s good to have in the air around, creating an instant atmosphere. But the impression fades as soon as the track ends. I like the band, but more their later stuff, particularly Aion.

Write Here, Write Now: 6.19 – Torn And Frayed

The Rolling Stones – Torn And Frayed. Not terrible shocker!

Maybe I’m worn down by the songs I’ve listened to so far, but this muddy mess of a track doesn’t make me wrinkle my nose up so much. There isn’t the same layer after layer of rock/blues cliche, Mick Taylor is on bass, Jagger is softer and less barking, there’s an intriguing mix of sounds to explore.

The guitar player doesn’t steal my heart away – there seems little in the way of flourish from Keith Richards. The pedal steel of Al Parsons seems to be the spotlight/highlight.

It’s very downbeat, both in lyrical content and delivery. If anything, Jagger seems half not there at all. I’m tired anyway, and this song just make me more tired. The lines just seem to repeat themselves over and over again. There’s little in the way of stand out musicianship. But at least they try something a bit different. It doesn’t work much, but it’s something.

Write Here, Write Now: 3.16 – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme

Pentangle – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme: Bed Thyme

The language of flowers and plants – where everything has a second meaning, nothing is just what it is. Where women are trees and men are vines. I can just imagine the wise woman of the village gathering all the teenage girls around her and giving them helpful and not at all confusing tips about human horticulture. Sex education has changed a bit since then.

I come at Pentangle via Danny Thompson, whose distinctive bass notes graced the songs of many other artists who I like – Billy Bragg, Kate Bush, Nick Drake, etc. And this song starts with Danny’s bass growling as Jacqui McShee launches into the song. And indeed it’s the last sound heard as the song fades.

Folk of all descriptions was anathema to me as a teenager, and her voice is an acquired taste, bending around the notes as is the nature of folk singers. But the heart of this song, the instrumental break – a minute of interplay between guitar and drum – is more jazz than folk in its rhythms. Coming at folk from a different direction than Fairport Convention, then, but there’s enough going on in both to save the music from being twee.

Thyme is one of the few herbs I have no problem growing, along with rosemary. While basil, parsley, coriander fail to thrive, thyme just sits there, growing bigger and more woody. I seem to have no problem keeping my thyme.There’s a herb spiral in our garden where it sits at the top of the bed of earth and waits for me to cut bits off for roast vegetables.

And now it is time for bed.