For reasons having to do with the alphabet, I’ve been listening to the band Blancmange this week. They are generally filed under “80s Anachronisms” with other synth/voice duos, but I think they deserve better: All three of their vintage albums — Happy Families (1982), Mange Tout (1984), and Believe You Me (1985) — are magnificent. (A spate of recent reunion albums, some featuring only one member, is another matter.) The sound is High Eighties, to be sure, but one of the best specimens thereof, and the songwriting is both sturdy and imaginative.
This song from Believe You Me is a great example of what Blancmange were capable of. 34 years later — Jesus, is that right? I guess it is — it still sounds pretty great to me.
This week I found myself listening to Biz Markie’s I Need a Haircut and was struck by this song:
I got curious about the source material, which turned out to be a Donovan song called “Get Thy Bearings.” In fact I own the album it’s on, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, but somehow had never really noticed it. I am now ashamed. This has to be Donovan’s funkiest song, with a loose, hypnotic, irresistible groove:
Great find by the Biz, or maybe his DJ and cousin Cool V. A tip of the hat to them, and to Mr. Leitch, who never quite gets the respect he deserves — even from those of us who ought to know better.
As fate would have it it, this song came up on the ol’ bathroom iPod yesterday, the very day that JC turned 77. 52 years after the first VU album, he’s still out there doing his thing — there he is on the Instagram, futzing around in a recording studio. Cale won’t quit as long as he’s vertical, and I for one take comfort in that.
So I just saw this video for the first time in… hmm… 35 years? Hard to believe it’s been that long since the golden age of MTV, but that’s what the math says.
I never forgot this song, which is a four-minute blast of relentless forward momentum that always gets me hyped. But I had forgotten about the video, which is a perfect visual analog: The camera never stops moving, the people never stop running. Ah, all that youthful energy…. Watching it makes me feel 17 again for a minute. Or four.
Of course after seeing this I had to run out and buy the album, which was not that good. It had one other catchy track and the rest was filler. After that Belfegore disappeared into the crevices of history, never to be seen again.
But they had four glorious minutes, which is enough.
Today’s song of the week comes in six parts, the first of which dates to 1969, when a Belgian pop-rock group called the Wallace Collection recorded a song called “Daydream” (not to be confused with the contemporaneous Lovin’ Spoonful hit of the same name):
According to Ye Olde Wikipedia,
The song was a hit in mainland Europe, though popularity didn’t make it to English speaking countries, despite its use of English lyrics.
Apparently some of the melody was lifted from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, which would take this history all the way back to 1876. But Philistine that I am, I will leave the classical stuff to those with longer attention spans. (more…)