Sunday Suggestion – David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

As we reach the end of the week in which David Bowie moved on to the next phase of his career somewhere new, back on earth we’re still looking back at the life work of one of the greatest solo artists of all time. It’s difficult for me to pick an absolute favourite track but ‘Ashes to Ashes’ acted as the centre-point of his career as Major Tom neatly returns after 1969 and to his final appearance just last year. As well as this, this music in it’s experimental form encases in New Romantic aesthetic mirrors the experimentation of Blackstar. It was in 1980 with his return from Berlin, he used techniques such as cutting and pasting for lyrical content and embraced Electronica in a distinct and innovative fashion; moving the genre on from Kraftwerk, Numan and Foxx. The song tracks an elaborate path to it’s melodies and the lyrics meet in unaccustomed places. It brings the experimentation and peculiarities of Strawberry Fields and goes full circle in applying such methods to the cold electronic genre. This song and Scary Monsters (And Super creeps) was just another successful shift in the music life of Bowie and more where to come beyond 1980.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – John Foxx – Underpass

John Foxx was one of the pioneers and forerunners of electronic music. A true innovator who very much carried on some of the more psychedelic-tinged dance music of Silver Apples in the late 60’s. First with Ultravox and then as John Foxx was an inspiration and huge influence to none other than Gary Numan. Another great innovator.  ‘Underpass’ from the 1980 album Metamatic still sounds very late 70’s and early 80’s in terms of the instrumentation, but it is the vitality and tune that is being churned out in this track that makes it sound light-years ahead of most electronic acts prior to him. It is so immediate and razor sharp in it’s quality that it instantly grabs your attention. It then pulls you into the dark and murky depths of his offset vocal and the falling tones of the synths combined with heavy distortion of the synths. He then pulls you back into the immediacy of the chorus with slick and effortless fashion with his spoken vocal ‘Nobody I know’. It is so cold and obstructive but so immersing and mesmerising at the same time. A fantastic track from a fantastic musician.

It’s a cover up! Great song covers – Mr Little Jeans – Waterfalls (Sonder remix)

Back in 1980 a 38 year old Paul McCartney had decided to put Wings on hold and for the unwitting final time people clung on to a full Beatles reunion. But McCartney had other plans. A first solo album in nine years was his goal and picking up on the experimentation he helped plant the seeds for in 1966 and 67 and therefore McCartney II is far different from it’s 1970 predecessor with him resuming his foray into Electronica. ‘Waterfalls’ is a song from the album that is much more calming and contemplative than the repetitive ‘Coming Up’ and the experimentation of ‘Temporary Secretary’. This song was a simple, swooning piece of pop music. It’s almost so subdued and the songs messages so contradictory that it almost deliberately leaves you lost and questioning your own actions. Don’t go jumping waterfalls or chasing polar bears… but I need love. An idea that we put ourselves at risk there just as much as we might do jumping waterfalls. Here McCartney gives electronic music a heart and with good and bad ramifications for the rest of the decade.

Mr Little Jeans is the guise of Norwegian electro pop vocalist Monica Birkenes. She lives in London and records in Los Angeles. This year she recorded her version of the track which was then remixed by Sonder. She has the typical vocal mix of delicacy and power behind it and she delivers the song faithfully for a modern vocalist. Beyond this is a more darker undertone with the blasts of electronica and a slightly hammering drum sample. After each verse the tune is boldly projected to the forefront of the song as it whirrs and grinds in to your ear drums. There’s also times that the heavy, though calm instrumentation drowns out Monica’s vocals slightly as the lyrics are echoed and sifted out eerily in the background. This makes the lyrics a little more amplified with the more uneasy feel of it. In spite of the added atmospheric depth, the song still holds the basic and simple beauty to work as it did back in 1980. A very credible tribute indeed to the great man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Suggestion – John Foxx – Underpass

John Foxx was one of the pioneers and forerunners of electronic music. A true innovator. First with Ultravox and then as John Foxx. An inspiration and huge influence to none other than Gary Numan. Another great innovator. I played ‘Underpass’ from 1980’s Metamatic on Newcastle Student Radio this Wednesday and it really took people aback. Mainly in a positive fashion. It still sounds very late 70’s and early 80’s in terms of the instrumentation, but it is the vitality and tune that is being churned out in this track that makes it sound light-years ahead of most electronic acts prior to him. It is so immediate and razor sharp in it’s quality that it instantly grabs your attention. It then pulls you into the dark and murky depths of his offset vocal and the falling tones of the synths combined with heavy distortion of the synths. He then pulls you back into the immediacy of the chorus with slick and effortless fashion with his spoken vocal ‘Nobody I know’. It is so cold and obstructive but so immersing and mesmerising at the same time. A fantastic track from a fantastic musician.

http://youtu.be/QjA-aFWOZOw

Image from myr1798sf.wordpress.com 

Sunday Suggestion – John Lennon – I Found Out

Thirty Three years ago today; John Lennon was taken away from the world. Just like his father left him at the age of five. Like his mother abandoning him at the same age. Like his father figure uncle when he was a young teen. Like his mother when he just became reacquainted with her. Like his good friend Stuart Sutcliffe. Like his confidant and manager Brian Epstein. Like his son Julian. Who he admittedly neglected in his early years. There is no doubt that Lennon was a highly angry and bitter man and it was something he wouldn’t go on to release until late into The Beatles time together and into the early stages of his solo career. Though on days like this people wish to remember Lennon through the nostalgia of Imagine and other songs; he was much less evocative of the songs lyrics in the life he lead. He would later go on to say that it was “idealistic” and “sugar-coated” despite it being one of the most simple yet most effective and elusive songs in history. How could a man who grew up with so much anger mould a message that is almost too wonderful for humanity to replicate? The answer is that it was the opposite of the world he lived in. I wish to look at a song with which he is being more direct. More realistic. One of these is I Found Out from The Plastic Ono Band album from 1970. Its a song about hypocrisy, anger at the lies he’s been told and generally a personal mission to diminish anyone who frustrated or hurt him. The song is brutal, honest and magnified by the music. The heavy and low lying bass line reverberates through the track along with the scratching guitars. Set against it is the gravely and snarling vocal from Lennon. If anything the emotion that Lennon evokes the best and this song is absolute proof of this. It would go on to be a precursor to the punk genre with a further development of proto-punk. One of the ways Lennon continued to influence music beyond the existence of The Beatles.

http://youtu.be/-jKZEvwKzj8

Image from www.beatlelinks.net