Summersongs: Martha and the Vandellas

3 09 2014

Labor Day has come and gone but the heat remains.

Now, I generally associate Stax and soul music more with heat than Motown, but this happy tune bounces over an insistent beat, and while the anti-war protests hadn’t really yet hotted up, I can’t help but hear the call to dance in the street as a kind of if-I-can’t-dance. . . defiance.

I could pull out a political undertone from this tune, too, but honestly, I just hear that there’s no way to escape the heat—and maybe that ain’t so bad.

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Summersongs: Frente!

31 08 2014

How did I hear of Frente? I have no idea.

I didn’t have cable so I wouldn’t have seen them on MTV (if they were on MTV), and I mostly listened to MPR when I lived in Minneapolis, so I doubt radio was the source.

I can think of two possibilities: a music review in either City Pages or the Twin Cities Reader, or it was playing at the Electric Fetus.

Anyway, “Accidentally Kelly Street” is pure confection, a state I associate with summer:

This is not wholly complimentary, insofar as I’m a more tang/salt than sweet kinda gal, and, of course, I don’t like summer.

Still, if one is in the right—which is to say, light—mood, it can be kind of charming.

Not all of the songs on Marvin the Album are as, well, twee, as this one, but Angie Hart’s high and breathy voice makes even political songs like “Cuscatlan” sound like bouncy summer fun:

Now, I’m not unalterably opposed to twee—I do own a coupla’ Belle & Sebastien cds, after all—but I can only listen to so much before it’s helium “hi! hi! hi!” attitude grates.

Still, in the summer, a song or two of helium-hi’s aren’t all bad.





Summersongs: Romeo Void

7 08 2014

Had enough of the angry money posts? How about biting sex posts?

Biting sex. . . hmmm, I see how that could be taken a couple of different ways. In any case, the “biting” refers to the attitude of Deborah Iyall toward sexy sexytimes and the occasional aftermath.

I first thought “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” would be the summersong, but after a night out with C & K, thought that maybe “Never Say Never”

Whatever. It’s Romeo Void, and even tho’ Iyall tells the girl that old man would “be warm in your coat”, why be literal about the coat-wearing and the presumably cold weather?

It’s about the beat and the attitude—and the backup boys singing temporary temporary in the chorus.

Do pop songs even use sax anymore? And, yeah, those Eighties video production values. . . .

I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together

How can you not sing along to that?





Summersongs: XTC

23 07 2014

Moar music!

Yes, I’ll continue with my Listen to the music series, but I’m feeling a bit. . . limited by the one-way trek through my cd collection. So why loosen things up a bit, and gambol thru some songs of the season.

XTC’s Skylarking is, to me, a summer album. The first single was released in 1986, smack dab in the middle of my college years, and tho’ the album didn’t come out until the fall, my (mis?) memories are of listening to this in the green months of Madison.

The most well-known song may be “Dear God”, because in 1986 in the United States it was controversial to put out a single mildly criticizing/questioning the Big Kahuna. It wasn’t until I brought home my own copy of Skylarking that I realized that I got an alternate version: “Dear God” wasn’t included.

On the one hand, I was pissed, because even though the song wasn’t that great, I liked it well enough, and I didn’t like that it had been removed. On the other hand, I probably laid out 8 bucks for the new vinyl and wasn’t about to shell out even more money just for one song.

Singles? No.

Anyway, the songs that tie me most closely to that time are “Summer’s Cauldron/Grass” and “That’s Really Super, Supergirl”. I could never figure out Andy Partridge’s attitude toward the Supergirl—was he being nasty or pouty?—but I thought, get over it. In fact, I might have liked the song just for the attitude it inspired in me.

Listen to the lovely:

And enjoy the smirk:

Bonus fun fact: I recall Andy Partridge saying in an interview that all Englishmen had two of the following three characteristics: had bad teeth, were bald, were gay. He noted that he was bald and had bad teeth.

Don’t know why I remember that, but I do.