Saturday, June 26, 2021


Apples are the opposite of bananas, right? Certainly little in common, what with colour, shape, taste, let alone the skin or the peeling. Yes, I know some folk peel an apple, but with their fingers? I think not, and they are as weird as those that eat a banana, skin on. (Smoking a banana skin I have heard of, it being a sure fire 4th form guarantee of a hit, something only being at a boarding school can have you believe.....) But there are loads of songs about these staples of a fruitarian diet. here's two of the best.

"I like to eat bananas

'Cos they got no bones
I like marijuana
'Cos it gets me stoned"

I bloody love this song. I may have mentioned this before, but I don't care, this being the finest and truest statement about bananas laid down in rock and roll. The sheer truth of it is an epiphany, even something may have never appreciated. The reason bananas are so darn accessible and appreciable is because they have no bones. Who knew? OK, we all knew, but, and here's the rub, who realised? Exactly. Who here can honestly say they had ever considered a banana might have a bone in it? I guess, yes, to be fair, most of their audience were less interested in bananas, keen to move on to the next couplet. Me? I was at said boarding school and that was stuff of fantasy, to be dreamt of and imagined. 

How many songs explore the world of banana? Not so many. Most famous, and ubiquitous, is the Banana Boat Song, aka Day-O, as beloved of Beetlejuice, the signature tune of Harry Belafonte, and enough to give every banana a bad name. A song meeting derision in this woke age, to be parodied in adverts and similar, it has some merit, with it needing sage and seer George Clinton to give the mislaid credibility.

So how come apples get all the good cred, all the good press? Let's not forget what got ate in the Garden of Eden, at a stroke denoting the base nature of man and casting us, conceptually, into the abyss of the everyday. So, let's ask what Damien Dempsey, erstwhile boxer and bruiser, now singer and songwriter of evocatively bruising lyrics has to say:

He's good, innee? Big fan am I, since he first found his voice, a decade or so, probably further, back. And I think the Irish, with their catholic guilt, are entirely within their right to diss the apple more than do us lily-livered protestants. Hell, with extreme free church presbyterianism, the Free Church of Scotland, you probably aren't allowed to eat an apple, or a banana, of a Sabbath day. (Disclaimer: these are the guys that ran, and maybe still do, the Outer Hebrides where my Mother grew up, not that even apples grow in the harsh treeless climes. Or bananas.)

Here the Wainwright (half) sisters get the gist, apples and sex, well, love, paired irrevocably in fruity union. Both daughters of Loudon of that surname, the third, Martha and Lucy sing as delectably as they should, as scions of the McGarrigles and Roches respectively. An album of, largely, lullabies, the underbelly of the subject matter lies just beneath the surface.

Finally, in an effort to link all this disparate nonsense together, who finer than the Cocteau Twins to muddy the water indelibly, throwing yet more fruit into the bowl, as Elizabeth Fraser sings about oranging the apple. Or the other way round. As you do.

Pip pip!



Thursday, June 24, 2021

Opposites: Light & Dark #2

purchase [ choose one (or two) ]

Like Seuras, my thoughts gravitated to the quintessential, original pair of opposites. Unlike him, no car travel this year, so the music has been in home and headphones in the dark closet that has become my office, my classroom and most of my life for the past 17 months.

I had started off with the idea that I would find a "light" from one musician and a "dark" from someone else. Until I took the first step with a visit to - because I had already decided that I would include the Youngblood's <Darkness Darkness>. It seemed like it had been quite some time since I listened to the song. The songfacts web site notes that part of the inspiration for the song stemmed from Young's terror related to a friend dying in the Vietnam war (the year was 1969). That's just one of the revelations I gleaned. Another is that my man David Lindley plays the opening fiddle. Yet another is that Charlie Daniels produced much of the Elephant Mountain album that the song first appeared on. And then I recall that way back in the dark days of November, we visited Darkness in our <Empty> theme, so up top here we get a different recording of the song:

And yet another crossing of the paths - that I had forgotten in all the passing years - is that Young also wrote <Sunlight>. Doh! Hmm ... I guess we can drop the search for that "someone else" who wrote a song about our opposite of <dark>.

Our own Seuras could have told me, if I had asked, that Young also recorded <Light Shine>. 

And with a little stretch, there seems to be room in all this search for opposites for a way to bring the opposites together, another Jesse Colin Young classic: Get Together. Now, while the Youngbloods appear to have made the song famous, it was written by a Chet Powers (a.k.a. Dino Valenti and as songwriter Jesse Oris Farrow), who was a lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. What a lot of coincidental revelations in one swell foop.

And away back in 2012 our Mt Vernon Mike posted about Get Together, so we need a different recording of that one too

Monday, June 21, 2021


 Too obvious? Maybe, but surely they are the original pair of opposites, as in in the beginning was and all that. And you can play around a little with either of the polarities and steer a path down the middle, embracing dusk and/or twilight, trying to work out if they are the same or come from the opposite starting points. Light is a bit of a tinker, though, as it can also have an opposite with heavy, which I personally try to avoid, in any musical sense, if less successfully in my own life. Dark doesn't have any such, unless we talk chocolate, as milk chocolate is hardly the opposite of dark, or plain, as some will have it. Where would that leave the vile heresy of white chocolate? These, however, must be concerns for another day.

I thought this the opportunity to indulge my occasional pecadilloe into non guitar based music, into electronica, in fact. Or techno, as the music today featured probably was thought of. At least when both bands featured were just starting. I loved John Peel's putdown of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, arguably whose travails with synthesisers set the scene for the wider genre, road testing the prototype models. "A waste of electricity", the venerable DJ called them. Strangely, as synthesisers begat drum machines and sequencers, and computers became more prominent than keyboards, he became quite keen. Funny that. Anyhoo, be that as it may, I too was quite keen on techno. Reading the definition of the genre makes for daunting reading, so I guess I was no early adopter. Indeed, if Kraftwerk were trailblazers, with the Detroit and Chicago scenes picking up the influences and running, or dancing, with it, I was decidedly sceptic. I thought it was all a bit disco, especially the rooms and fields chokka with e-infused teenagers, blissfully off their heads, that I found distinctly off-putting. But then I caught Orbital at the Glastonbury Festival in the early 90's. Literally caught: we were making an early Sunday evening getaway, for work in the morning, getting caught up in the similar traffic jam of weekend only revellers. And, in the stationary car, heard the set and could see the lightship in the sky. Quite a formative moment. I suddenly saw the light. (See what I did there!)

Funnily enough, the car has remained my place of preference for listening to this genre, lapping up the associated, in my mind, and similar bands and musicians: the Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Moby and, of course, given this piece, Leftfield and Underworld. Sometimes to the extent of attracting alarmed glances cast my way, as I drive along, rhythmically thumping the driver side window in time. I recommend it.

So then, Light is here brought to you by the splendour of Leftfield, the track entitled 'Alternative Light Source', the title also of their 2015 long player. I think they were/are probably my darlings of the scene, with, especially, the remixes version of 'Rhythm and Stealth' being my all time leader of this pack, not unentirely associated that my wife being a huge fan. We met relatively later in life, with music our main comparator on the dating site(!) we both frequented, and she, a massive Faithless aficionado, liked a good bit of my tastes in this direction. (The rest, the folk, the country, the blues, the jazz, less so.)  Leftfield were also the first live band of this ilk I dared go see, in 2015, for the tour that promoted this album. I didn't know quite what to expect, somehow assuming an army of flare carrying floppy fringed fops, finding, instead, an audience not so different from me. And plenty my age or older, too. It was terrific, even if the "show" was just the three, I think, of them, tucked near invisibly behind abstract geometric sheets, through which coloured lights were shone, concentratedly beavering away on their hardware. The bass was extreme, subterranean rumbles that had me fearing that fabled note, over which no bowel has control. Thankfully it didn't come, and I forgave them the missed last train and taxi-ride home. So Light for the Light (as we call our good ladies round here.)

Dark comes, appropriately, from Underworld, the underworld supposedly lightless. 'Dark and Long' the track, from their inventively entitled 1994 debut, 'dubnobasswithmyheadman'. I came to them via the joyous lager lager lager of 'Born Slippy' on the 'Trainspotting' soundtrack. I confess I sort of went off them a bit after watching them on a BBC at Glastonbury filmed performance. And for silly reasons like the 'singer' dancing and having dyed hair, while the anonymous fella with him had to do all the IT heavy lifting. (Thank goodness I never saw the Prodigy, eh....) But I grew out of such daft prejudice, or, rather, my wife told me to, and they too continue to produce work of no small value, keeping the flame alive.

Opposites? Hmm, actually, if nothing else, I seem to have proven Dark and Light can be broadly much of a muchness. Am I bothered? Well, given dark light seems actually to be a thing.....