Saturday, 20 June 2015

Elton John

Elton John was never one of my favourites when he first appeared on the scene, but he wasn't one of those acts who made the seventies particularly horrible either.  That sounds like I'm praising Elton John with faint damns or damning with faint praise but that's not true either.

Mr Dwight was a superstar and there was nothing mediocre about him.  I found myself getting bored later on, especially when he started eulogising Princess Diana but that was later.  Many was the time I listened to him on Radio Caroline or even Luxembourg and many are the times I thought, 'Hmm, nice one'.  So the fact he was not my cup of tea does not diminish his greatness, nor even my recognition of said greatness, in any way.

So here's my top five.

1) Under the covers on a Friday night, by torchlight on a cheap transistor radio.  That was how I would listen to the radio and this was one of the songs that made me feel really good.  Lazengenlmen! Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting.

2)  This could be a personal anthem for any of those of us who crawl out of the alligator infested swamp of an abusive childhood to stand on Sunset Boulevard and growl at passing cars.  With fist raised in salute.  "I'm still standing, better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid."  Yep.  I'm still standing

3) Tommy was one of my favourite musicals.  And this song gives me goosepimples.  Added to which, there was a time when I stood in front of the pinball machine in Cambridge YMCA for two hours only to see Tim Cyanide beat my top score.  I know just how the champ feels. Pinball Wizard.

4) Okay, confession time.  I always thought this was kinda cool but no more, and only because of Bernie Taupin's lyrics, but then I heard Big Bill Shatner's cover version and it made sense, and so did Elton John's version, so yes, I do love this.  Rocketman

5) A sad and thoughtful one.  Not to my taste.  But I can imagine this played on an acoustic guitar by somebody like Emmylou Harris and suddenly I realise, this is a brilliant song.  It's not Elton's fault I dislike the arrangement (okay it is, but it's still going in). Something About the Way You Look Tonight.

Hurts to leave out?  Well I wouldn't go that far but there are other songs of his that I might have included in my top five.  Sacrifice for example, or I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues.

On the other hand I would not dream of including though either the Princess Diana version of Candle in the Wind or the version of Yellow Brick Road dedicated to Princesss Di as 'English Rose'.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Gil Scott Heron

So, Gil Scott Heron.  A top five might take some work because there is One song I would like to give all Fifteen points.  The first is obvious.  There can be only one.  This is a work of genius. I love this.  It's probably the best soul record ever.
1) The Revolution Will Not be Televised 

The second is a brilliant cover of my favourite song by Robert Johnson.  When I came back to music after a 21 year retirement, this was the first song I sang.  Oh yes and this is an AWESOME video.
2) Me and the Devil

Okay, for the third, I have said so many times that this is not my world and I want to go home.  Gil Scott-Heron sums up my feelings in this song so it has to be included.
3) Alien (Hold on to your Dreams)

My mother was crazy but not an alcoholic... but her father was an alcoholic and that's why she didn't drink.  Turns out the demons are not in the bottle, they're in the person drinking from it.  That said, this next is another fantastic track.
4) The Bottle

My last choice is one I love for the lyrics.  The music is 1970s.  I hated the seventies, everybody knows that.  Punk took TOO long coming but if I'd been listening to the lyrics, this would have been an exception.  These words are wonderful.
5) Winter in America

Hurts to leave out?  No, nothing really.  There are other tracks I love, pure poetry that I would love to hear shrieked by banshees and rapped by angry hiphoppers but to be honest, I only know their names when I hear them, because the first thing about soul to me is the dull elevator music played underneath these beautiful blistering battlefield lyrics.

I love your words so much Gil Scott Heron, but I wish I could also love your music.