Episode 105–Under the Covers, Part 6

True story: I hire models from Fiverr to do these pictures. All three of them, coincidentally, are from the same (non-US) nation. I don’t do that on purpose but I’m starting to think I have a “type”.

Thanks for your patience as the show migrates from one server to another. As I noted on the social media, I’m working hard to make it as invisible as possible if you listen via Google or Apple or Spotify, etc. And the website here is going to look kind of weird for awhile with a lot of double posts for previous episodes, until I pick my way through and fix them, one by one. Fun, Fun, Fun!

This week, we’re taking yet another look at a few songs which you may not have known were covers, and nearly all of them were suggested by a listener named Kim, who didn’t feel that a shout-out was necessary, but obviously I don’t feel the same way. Kim had a list of songs that could work, and I said “Sure” to most of them, with a single exception, and that’s mostly because the story is a little convoluted and I may have to turn it into an episode of its own down the road a ways.

Anyway: a new hosting partner means a new player here on the webpage for you, and I do have a little bit of customizing control over it (something I didn’t previously have at all), so I’m happy to hear your suggestions. And, of course, please let me know if you hit any weird technical snags.

Finally, as promised: here’s the original French song I discussed during the show. Check out those lyrics; it’s rather poignant.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 104–I Want to Know What Love Is

Enjoy the photo. I spent five bucks on it.
You’re welcome.

First up: A Hat Tip to Jeremiah Coughlin of the podcast Brine Time, a podcast dedicated (but not limited to) the Portland (OR) Pickles baseball team. He wanted to hear about some Foreigner, and coincidentally I just picked up a copy of Agent Provocateur, so we were off to the races. Anyway, Jeremiah and his partner Jake Silberman are a funny couple of guys who know how to convey their fandom in a fresh way. And now I kinda have an idea for another podcast. Aberdeen Ironbirds, are you paying attention?

Anyway.

I think I’m the one person who didn’t hate Agent Provocateur as an album when it first came out in December 1984, because the critics gave it a beatdown. It ultimately yielded four singles, two of which did…okay, and the other two did very well, including this one, which was their only Number One track in the US and the UK, not to mention a bunch of other countries around the world.

Not bad for an album everyone hated.

But while the work was good, Lou Gramm was itching to work on a solo project, and he used “I Want to Know What Love Is” as one of his reasons for bailing out for awhile, so he could go work on his solo album Ready or Not almost simultaneously with their sixth album, Inside Information. And it seems like both albums suffered as a result.

So here’s the show, and then go listen to Jeremiah and Jake.

And click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 103–A Whiter Shade of Pale

Bear with me this week; I’m fighting off some kind of respiratory thing and I’m sounding like Peter Brady singing “Time to Change.”

By the way, isn’t it cool the way we get that flanging effect only when Marcia and Greg are singing solo, despite the group microphones?

Why yes, I am a fussbudget. Nice to meet you.

This week: it was Procul Harum’s debut single, and at last count it was the song most played EVER on UK radio. Not a Beatles or Stones tune; this one. How about that!

I feel a little badly because I didn’t really leave anything out of my script for the benefit of putting something cool here, so I guess you’re out of luck in that respect. But if you’re here to listen to the embed, I’ve got some good news for you: here it is!

Click here for the transcript to today’s show.

Episode 102–The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Roberta Flack was one of those artists that the label couldn’t quite pigeonhole, which meant that they couldn’t find a way to make her accessible to listeners. As a result, her first two albums got some positive press, but the sales weren’t especially great.

It wasn’t until after her second album came out that a track on the first album caught the attention of a first-time movie director by the name of Clint Eastwood. He called Flack at home and asked if he could use the song in his film, a psychological horror film about a disc jockey called Play Misty For Me. It took a little bit of convincing (about two thousand dollars’ worth), and the song made it into the film.

When Play Misty For Me turned into a hit, Atlantic Records finally saw the light and released a slightly shorter version of the song on a single, and it became the first of several big hits for Flack over the next few years.

What most people don’t realize is that Flack’s recording was a cover of a song written and recorded in 1957, and covered rather faithfully several times after that. But once it hit for her, the covers began to sound more like Flack’s version. And while the song finally becoming a hit made its writer a ton of money, the truth is, he’s never really liked anyone else’s recording other than the one his then-girlfriend made.

Image result for danger will robinson gif -site:pinterest.com

Incidentally, here’s the link to the Flaming Lips/Amanda Palmer video that I discuss during the show. It’s definitely Not Safe For Work. You have been warned.

For you independent types who don’t use Google Podcasts or some other podcatcher software, here’s the show for your listening/downloading pleasure:

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Episode 101–In Bloom

You should be forewarned that this episode takes a brief detour into subject matter that’s a little bit on the touchy side. Specifically, there’s a mention of a musician’s gender identity and how it’s affected their relationship with their fans and the media. I hope that’s not a problem for ye.

Anyway, you’re getting two episodes this week, to make up for the lapse I did two weeks ago. So either this is the bonus episode because it’s Monday, or yesterday was the bonus episode and this one is a day late. How you choose to view that, I care not. Anyway, are we good now?

But the members of Nirvana had a tough time dealing with their quick rise to fame in 1990 and 91. They discovered that a lot of their new fans would be bopping about and singing along with their songs without having a lot of idea what the songs meant.

There’s an old Steve Martin routine where he’s playing the banjo onstage, and he comments that “The banjo is such a happy instrument–you can’t play a sad song on the banjo – it always comes out so cheerful.” He even makes an attempt at it: “Oh death, and grief, and sorrow, and murderrrrr…” and that’s pretty much what Nirvana was going through, but in the other direction. Their songs had the benefit of being very catchy, even if the subject matter was kind of dark and alienated, so people were latching on to the hooks (‘scuse the pun, there) in the songs and not really thinking about the lyrics, or the emotions evoked. This provided a weird disconnect for them, and Cobain finally took that emotion and put it into song form. Which didn’t really help, of course, because now they’re singing along to a song that’s basically mocking them.

As the fourth single from Nevermind, “In Bloom” was Top Five in the US on the Album and Mainstream Rock charts, and Top 30 pretty much everywhere else. When the Singles box set came out in 1995, it re-surfaced on a few European charts for a bit. But at that point Cobain had already died by suicide, and Nirvana was no more.

Yeah, I think we’re good here.

Click here for a transcript of this show.

Episode 100–Christmas (Baby Please Come Home

Holy Moley! Episode 100! What a milestone!

This is the first of TWO episodes I’ll be publishing this week. You’re getting this one now, and another one sometime tomorrow, because I felt badly about taking my time with Episode 99.

As I mentioned during the show, the Phil Spector-produced Christmas album went through several re-issues and name changes between its release in 1963 and the early 1980s, including an unfortunate period when the album was remastered into manufactured stereo. In those days, that often meant that the higher-end sounds went to one channel and the lower-end stuff went to the other. It was a mess and really added nothing to the product overall.

At any rate, it was around the same time in the 1980s that a bunch of different events came together and allowed the song to finally break out. One was the reissue of the album on Rhino Records, in its original mono mixes. The second was Darlene Love’s appearance in a Broadway show, which led directly to her string of performances on David Letterman’s show on both NBC and CBS, and finally we have the cover version by U2 the following year. All of these things made for a resurgence in both the popularity of the song, and in Darlene Love’s career.

Stay tuned! Very soon we’ll take a look at a Nirvana song, by listener request!

Click here for a transcript of this show.