Glasnost

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

My favourite song from Lifeblood is unquestionably the warmest in terms of sound; that main riff is just so joyous that you’d expect this to be some triumphant song of rebellion, but lyrically it treads similar ground to much of the rest of the album, with admissions of defeat, of the mysterious passage of time sweeping so much away. It’s always lovely to hear the band at least sound so happy, and maybe there is hope and joy in the ’embrace with us, make your own glasnost’.

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Glasnost: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: How many ancients not easily understood?

Actual Lyrics: Humiliation’s not easily understood

Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – Crush

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Greetings, Glancers. Bon Jovi have always been seen as an 80s band, but we know they had enormous success through the 90s too. After 1995’s These Days, the various members had gone and done their own things to varying degrees of success and by the time 2000 rolled around the musical landscape had changed dramatically. Could the band see in the millennium with another hit, and would anyone even care anymore?

You probably already know the answer to both of those questions, but if you don’t, here it is; yes. Crush was an instant smash, thanks to a string of hit singles and a sound which was both quintessentially Bon Jovi, but also found a way to speak to modern listeners. Even critics jumped on the bandwagon. I remember when the album was released that both people who outright refused to listen to guitar based music were listening to it, along with people who considered the band too soft and middle of the road. It’s an album I was pretty familiar with at the time, but haven’t listened to in a good ten years, so lets see how much I remember and if it holds up.

It’s My Life‘ was the first single and was of course a hefty hit. Harking back to their 80s sound with voicebox and references to Tommy and Gina, and reminds fans within seconds why they first fell in love. It’s big and brash, has a huge chorus, features lyrics designed to be belted out in a crowd, and is as simple a pop rock song as you’ll ever get. It’s not quite as euphoric as Livin’ On A Prayer, but it comes pretty close.

Say It Isn’t So‘ is another big single – they really front loaded this album with the big hitters – this can be a risky business if you leave the rest of the album without any instantly recognizable tracks. This one opens with an easy swagger, filtered vocals, and guitars reminiscent of many of the softer rock bands which were having hits around the time. I remember the chorus being stronger, listening now the vocals are really weird, the effect is too heavy and they waver around too much. There’s a strange keyboard part in the middle too, reminding us that 2000 was an odd time for rock music, as if it was unsure what direction it needed to move in.

Thank You For Loving Me‘ is a song I’m very familiar with and don’t really need to listen to again here. It was one of the songs my wife and I picked for our wedding day – she wasn’t having any outright metal for the ceremony, so the compromise was Bon Jovi. Nevertheless, it’s a great song and one of their best ballads. Sure it’s soppy stuff, but it’s good soppy stuff.

Two Story Town‘ opens with more turn of the millennium production – I can’t really say it’s dated but it is definitely a product of its time. This is a decent mid tempo rocker which doesn’t go full country – it flies under the radar but is good enough while it lasts. It’s clearly a step down from the first three songs.

Next 100 Years‘ starts with marching drums and a Sambora explosion before pulling back to a simple melody. It’s a good one too – nothing startling – and it builds up to an average chorus. It’s a song I try to like but it misses the mark while trying lots of different things. The brief bridge, the strings, and the solos are all good though – the song tries to go all Hey Jude for the ending, which doesn’t quite work, but it doesn’t totally collapse either. I like how they abandon this for the final minute and race towards the end with an epic solo and zippy violins.

Just Older‘ has another drum into, and again gets off to top speed for a brief moment before restraining itself for the verse. More lyrics about dreams and nostalgia fit well with the melodies and while the chorus doesn’t hit the heights, it’s fine. The verse and chorus compliment each other well, rather than having one outweigh the other. There’s another nice, twiddly solo leading into a softer section, though you know it’ll end with a bang.

Mystery Train‘ begins in acoustic fashion before the organ and electric guitars come in gently. I’ve always quite liked this one – it feels understated and genuine and again the verse and chorus are like glue. It feels like a song that most people will overlook or forget easily, but I think it’s one of their better non-singles – it doesn’t need to be so long though.

Save The World‘ starts steadily – drums, lots of string bends, and lots of violins. Those ‘education’ lyrics are a little cringeworthy, and the rest of the words feel cheesy, but it’s all well meaning. The melodies are great in places, but they are usually followed by something flatter rather than sustaining the quality. Again it feels too long, but it’s another fine song that just misses out on being really good.

Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars’ is Jovi going Bowie. Not really, but the name sound that way. Lyrics too. It’s a softer effort but a catchy one. This has single written all over it. It doesn’t have a huge chorus or anything, but it moves swiftly and I can see a lot of people enjoying it on sunny days. An easy love song, a little bit of poking at and making fun of young love while also revering those feelings.

She’s A Mystery‘ goes full ballad. That’s often a good thing for Bon Jovi, but sometimes a mess. This is a good one though, understated and subtle. It is missing a high point, instead happy to remain on a level. Verse and chorus melt into each other with the drums and guitar not really changing throughout. I like the backing vocals, I like the middle bridge, but it never reaches for that peak.

I Got The Girl‘ opens softly – low bass, light beat, whispered vocals. It suddenly bursts open for the chorus leading to a faster pace and mid level volume. It’s all pretty sweet, lyrically, melodically, and yes it is catchy too. This seems like another of those underrated ones that it’s easy to forget about or miss. No need for that extended ending.

One Wild Night‘ starts like a Disney song from the 1940s before moving forwards 40 years to the band’s 1980s heyday. This is pure 80s played 20 years too late. It’s good though, if you like that sort of thing. It’s as raucous as any of their bigger hits and has all the trademarks – chorus, guitars, melody, shouting backing vocals. The ‘na na na’ parts will get you singing along and the weaker among you may even roll down the windows to join the chorus.

Overall Crush is consistent – it opens big and closes big, and the middle has a mixture of ballads and rock standards. There aren’t any truly bad songs, while the best songs are pretty good examples of what the band does well. A couple of the non-singles are good enough to stick in your rotation but like most of their albums the majority of the album tracks are interchangeable. Still, it’s a decent album from the band and the last one I really know anything about – from here on out it’s uncharted territory for me. Next time around I’ll be checking out Bounce – an album that I’ll probably know a couple of songs from. We shall see. Let us know in the comments what your thoughts and memories of Crush are!

Nightman Listens To – Roxette – Look Sharp!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today we’re back to Sweden and glossy pop rock hits. Roxette’s second album was a massive hit around the world thanks to a string of new singles which saw them becoming late 80s superstars. Look Sharp! is an album that I would have been very familiar with in my younger days – I’m sure it would have been played in the car journeys from my house to our summer caravan park many times, though looking at the tracklist there are quite a few I don’t recognize. Some of the ones I do remember I can still sing word for word even though I haven’t heard them in years, and there may be some I have forgotten completely. Hopefully these will bring back memories and feelings of those car journeys – the sun beating in the window as we weaved between the mountains and the sea, school days behind us, and long summer days of football, friends, and fun ahead, romping on the beach, playing in the park, and gobbling sweets by the dozen. It’s exactly what Roxette were going for when they recorded the album.

‘The Look’ is a great way to start the album – maybe the album’s biggest hit and with a famous guitar riff. I’m not sure about the drums – a bit weak, but the lyrics are pure 80s nonsense which is pretty funny. Per sings the lead on the verses with Marie taking secondary duties once the chorus. Infectious melodies all the way through, from the whispering verses, the call and repeat chorus, and the ‘na na na na’ bits.

‘Dressed For Success’ is just fun all around. It grabs you from the first moment with Marie’s ‘yeah yeah yeah’, accompanied by cheery verses and a massive chorus. The best part is the bridge, because what is a great pop song without a connection between verse and chorus? This one is very good, with all the ‘what you gonna tell your mumma’ and ‘uh oh oh’ stuff and bouncy melodies. This one will put a smile on your face.

‘Sleeping Single’ is one I didn’t remember from the name alone. It starts with thumb clicks and tinkling stuff, before the 80s drums and horn stuff comes along and makes me think of Police Academy. The verses have only the slightest remembrances for me, but I do remember the chorus. It’s fine – I can’t say anything bad about it because it again sounds so fun and cheesy – it probably doesn’t need to be so long though.

‘Paint’ is another I don’t remember. It starts out pretty disastrously, with bad drums and 80s sounds. You can always rely on Roxette to pull it back with good melodies. I don’t remember the verse at all and the chorus makes me think of Madonna, so I can’t say I have any memory of this at all. It’s fine, chorus is okay, when Marie blasts it out halfway through it’s pretty good, but it’s the weakest song so far.

‘Dance Away’ actually start out like something by The Music, for about eight seconds. Then it goes all Eurythmics. Good vocals by Marie but everything else feels like a weaker version of The Look. Even the chorus isn’t that great, a couple of good moments.

‘Cry’ starts out softly, with piano and smooth sounds, leading into plain verses. I assumed I would remember this but I don’t aside from the ‘why should I cry’ line. There’s honestly not a lot to this song, even the melodies don’t hit the spot. I know it’s meant to be a lot more, but it’s a bit of a none event.

Chances‘ raises the energy levels again with heavy use of snyth and beats to create a throbbing rhythm. Better verse melodies and a much better chorus than the last few songs. It’s still not great, but has an atmosphere, a nifty guitar solo, and is catchy like their better songs.

Dangerous‘ opens with some chugging guitars and weird noises. Obviously I remember this, but I must have blocked out the weirdness from my memories. The verses are a little vague in my memory, but I remember the chorus clearly. It’s cute and infectious, strange when you consider the lyrics and subject matter. Like all of Roxette’s finest songs, this is all about the melody.

‘Half A Woman, Half A Shadow’ is one that doesn’t sound familiar at all. Opening vocals – nope, guitar and drums – nope, doesn’t ring a bell. Verse…. I don’t think I remember this but there is something… could be just because it sounds like something else. It feels a little bit like Lonely Nights by Bryan Adams. The chorus isn’t too hot. Disaster end.

‘View From A Hill’ is pure 80s dirt. This could be from Beverly Hills Cop or anything. I kind of remember the chorus, nothing else though. This is another middling effort, easily forgotten and aside from a couple of hooks there isn’t anything here to recommend. Lots of weird moments where the other musicians appear to lose their minds.

‘I Could Never Give You Up’ is a bonus song, but it sounds familiar. Again, I could be confusing it with something else. It’s better than the last couple, good Spanish guitar in the middle, better melodies.

‘Shadow Of A Doubt’ starts like an 80s action movie soundtrack. I love the verse vocals – they sound more urgent than most of the other songs. The melodies are fine, not too much difference between the verse and chorus. We get some sort of sax solo in lieu of a six string. I like the belting out by Marie at the end.

‘Listen To Your Heart’ closes the album – easily my favourite song here. This is one of the few Roxette songs that I’ve listened to sporadically over the years – it’s good enough that it’s never too far away. Atmospheric piano opening like the best power ballads. Steamy verses with superb melodies before the booming, immortal chorus. That’s it really, aside from saying I like the little twiddly synth ending.

I’m surprised I didn’t remember more of this album. My brother was a fan of making his mix tapes, so maybe he only took his favourites from Look Sharp! and the others got lost by the wayside. It’s worth listening to the whole thing, but it’s probably best to just cut out your favourites for future reference. Next time I listen to Roxette it will be an album I know I’m more familiar with – JoyRide. Let us know in the comments what your memories and thoughts of Look Sharp! are and share the music that you used to listen to on long car journeys of yore.

Disney Songs -Duh duh DUH!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time once more to undertake a gargantuan and pointless project by listening to all of the Disney songs. That’s right – ALL OF THEM. And by ALL, I don’t mean all – I won’t be covering the straight to DVD sequels or the non-animated work – only the central Disney Animated movies, starting with Snow White and the Fourteen Twats from way back in 1937 (and for fun I’ll throw in some of the Pixar ones too).

As there are literally (not) billions of songs, I’m going to post one movie at a time. I have my favourites and while driving with the kids I will occasionally blast a Disney Greatest Hits, but many of those songs are dreadfully annoying. There will be many songs I’m either not familiar with or haven’t heard outside of the film or have simply forgotten. For now, here is a handy list of every movie I will be covering (may be changed later as for a few of these I don’t even know if they feature songs). Let us know in the comments which Disney Movie you feel has the best songs, and which songs are your favourites!

Snow White And The Seven Dwarves                                             Pinocchio

Dumbo                                                                                                    Bambi

Saludos Amigos                                                                                    The Three Caballeros

Make Mine Music                                                                                 Fun And Fancy Free                                                                                                                                                                                 Melody Time

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr Toad                                    Cinderella

Alice In Wonderland                                                                          Peter Pan

The Lady And The Tramp                                                                 Sleeping Beauty

101 Dalmations                                                                                    The Sword In The Stone

The Jungle Book                                                                                  Robin Hood

The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh                                 The Rescuers

The Fox And The Hound                                                                   The Black Cauldron

The Great Mouse Detective                                                             Oliver And Company

The Little Mermaid                                                                            The Rescuers Down Under

Beauty And The Beast                                                                       Aladdin

The Nightmare Before Christmas (not complete Disney I know I know)

The Lion King                                                                                       Pocahontas

Toy Story                                                                                               The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Hercules                                                                                                Mulan

A Bug’s Life                                                                                           Tarzan

Toy Story 2                                                                                            Dinosaur

The Emperor’s New Groove                                                              Atlantis

Monster’s Inc                                                                                        Lilo And Stich

Treasure Planet                                                                                   Finding Nemo

Brother Bear                                                                                        Teacher’s Pet

Home On The Range                                                                          The Incredibles

Pooh’s Heffalump Movie                                                                  Chicken Little

Cars                                                                                                        Meet The Robinsons

Ratatouille                                                                                            Bolt

UP                                                                                                           The Princess And The Frog

Toy Story 3                                                                                           Tangled

Cars2                                                                                                     Winnie The Pooh

Brave                                                                                                     Frankenweenie

Wreck It Ralph                                                                                    Monsters University

Planes                                                                                                    Frozen

Planes: Fire And Rescue                                                                   Big Hero 6

Inside Out                                                                                            The Good Dinosaur

Zootopia                                                                                               Finding Dory

Moana

Depending on the time I get around to doing these, I may also include the following as yet unreleased movies and lesser known Disney pics: A Goofy Movie, Doug’s 1st Movie, The Tigger Movie, Recess, Return To Never Land, The Jungle Book 2, Piglet’s Big Movie, The Wild, Mars Needs Moms, Moana, Cars 3, Coco, Wreck It Ralph 2, Toy Story 4, Gigantic.

Stay tuned then for a rundown and half-arsed review of all of the songs. Bibiddi bobbidi arrghh!

Chart Music Through The Years – 1961

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

Greetings, Glancers! Let us twist our heads 180 degrees like a Reagan possessed and see what fell behind us in those heady, innocent days gone by. Hands up if you remember 1961? Not me! I am reliably informed that JFK became President of those United States, that man and chimp ventured off world into space for the first time, The Bay Of Pigs came and went, Catch-22 was released, Ernest Hemmingway died, and Ken first met Barbie. In the world of music, The Beatles performed in The Cabin club for the first time, The Supremes signed to Motown, Mick Jagger met Keith Richards, and rock music continued to challenge the scourge of Swing throughout the year. Indeed, the ten songs featured below suggest a shift in popularity between the old and new, with pop rock upstarts taking the top prizes over the crooners of the past. Looking at the these ten songs, I can’t say that I recognise any of them from the titles alone, but I do know eight of the artists. Lets get stuck in, kids.

  1. The Shadows: Kon-Tiki

The famous twanging guitar, clear and crisp. Yes, it does evoke shimmering images of beach side Caribbean lounging. There’s still a country twist in there too. That this ever made it to Number 1 in the charts is bizarre to me – not because it’s bad, just because. At under two minutes long it doesn’t go very far or ask many questions, but a mild diversion and still sounds good over 50 years later.

2. Billy Fury: Jealousy

Big ass bass and trumpets. String blasts. Sounds like a tango. Certainly a strange collection of tones and styles, offset by the clean, smooth vocals and dark lyrics. Melodies are all over the place though. In trying to go in a hundred directions at the same time, it feels disjointed.

3. Highwaymen: Michael

Whistling. Guitars. Ok, hallelujah. Another bizarre song to ever be in the charts. Nicely sung, has the famous melody, but boring and uneventful – of course plenty of people are into that sort of thing.

4. John Leyton: Johnny Remember Me

Sighing. Cowboy guitars and vocals. Interesting mix of vocals, haunting sound. It frequently feels like the tempo is changing, even though it isn’t. Galloping guitars. This is a good one, even though I don’t like this style of male vocal. This was pretty good, and pretty weird.

5. Shirley Bassey: Reach For The Stars

Scary strings intro. Young Bassey voice… doesn’t sound like the vocals I know her from. Until she hits the bigger notes. It’s a strange song that doesn’t have your typical verse, chorus structure. It’s dreamy and drifting and the melodies don’t have an addictive quality. Difficult to fault the ability of the singer of course, but the vocals at points are too loud and overblown for the music.

6. Elvis: Wild In The Country

Another adventure into Western territory for Elvis, this soothing ballad is straightforward – a soft guitar and humming vocal accompaniment for a gentle Elvis vocal. This feels like a lightweight song that would be easily forgotten if sung by anyone else -even with Elvis singing it feels uneventful, though there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it.

7. Cleo Laine: You’ll Answer To Me

Squealing violin. Stirrings of Stephen King nostalgia. More squealing violins. Suggestive of stabbing, based off the lyrics? Crazy ex or crazy mother? It has a certain charm, and the lyrics are quite funny.

8. Connie Francis: Together

More King nostalgia. Swaying swooning. The complete opposite of the previous song, but retains a certain similar charm. Although the lyrics do become possibly sinister. Spoken part. Not sure if this is happy, creepy, or sad.

9. Del Shannon: Hats Off To Larry

I’ve always liked Del Shannon. More lyrics about lost love. Starts slow, then gets into a ripping tempo with weird blips and Shannon’s trademark high notes. Addictive stuff, angry, but fun, good good.

10. Eden Kane: Get Lost

More funky rock n roll. Strange mix of whispers, growls, and Elvis for the vocals. This is pretty good too, not as instantly catchy as Shannon’s. What was that about a shotgun?

A very good second half of songs, any of which I’d be happy to listen to again. The group of songs are a fair reflection of what was popular and good in 1961, with the year’s top selling songs including other hits by Elvis and Shannon. I’m not even going to attempt to pick an alternate top 10 for 1961, primarily because they wouldn’t be too different from the artists listed above, and also because albums were not really a big deal yet – mostly collections of singles and covers and tracks not good enough to be singles. Feel free to leave a comment about any of the songs or artists from 1961, and let us know what you were up to then!

Nightman Listens To Bryan Adams – Room Service

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Greetings, Glancers! Well here we are at album number 10 for Mr Adams. Quite a feat sir, quite a feat. We’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but I’m still listening baby. If an artist or band hasn’t gone sour by album 10, they are a rare breed, but time catches up on us all. Has time caught up with Adams here? I’ve no idea as I’m not confident that I have heard a single song from this album. The song ‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds familiar, but I won’t know till I actually listen. According to online sources the album still sold fairly well worldwide, but didn’t make an impact in the US due to Adams not having a record company or something. It seems like most critics had abandoned him by now too, not that they were ever really on his side, to be fair. But I will be fair, for I am The Nightman, and wherever there are experiences to experience, The Nightman will give his four cents (the other two are a tip). What was I doing again? Ah yes.

‘East Side Story’ starts with Guitar and swirly noises. Familiar scratchy vocals. Basic verse. Sudden chorus. Fine. Plain. Doesn’t really rock, doesn’t really sway. Just nice, music for happy, well adjusted types.

‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds like another light one. Spoken vocals. Oldsmobile. Sweet again. Nice again. Plain again. No edge, nothing infectious. I have no memory of this. I assume in a month’s time I will have no memory of this. Come on Bryan, ain’t you got another good’un in ya?

‘Not Romeo, Not Juliet’ opens with a jaunty piano and guitar duet. A little bit blues, a little bit country, a little bit rock. Now a little chorus with a little organ. He really loves his not-quite-ballads. This is basically the same song three times in a row. You can’t help but yawn. Still, I can’t really criticize it, it’s the sort of thing plenty people will enjoy – for me, it’s boring and inoffensive.

‘Flying’ is, cripes, it’s another ballad. This one feels better. Do people actually have sex (sorry, ‘make love’) all day? Wouldn’t you chafe? This is one for the candles and lighters and swaying arms. It’s better but still a little dull when compared with his bigger ballads.

‘She’s A Little Too Good For Me’ is faster, seems more upbeat. Still in lovey dovey ballad territory though. Woo, there we go. Drums. Decent lyrics. Reminds me of ‘Never Be Another Tonight’. This is good then – not quite good enough to make me sing its praises, but fun enough to make me want to listen again. Short too.

‘Open Road’ sounds like something from the last album. Up-tempo again. Driving song. Should have repeated that ‘on and on’ piece to enhance the bridge. Okay chorus. Two better songs then, three if we include ‘Flying’. Which we probably should. Lower grade hits are these  – songs to hide in your shuffle that will only pop out every few hundred songs to remind you that they exist. Still waiting for another song you want to have on your shuffle every ten songs.

I Was Only Dreaming‘ gets off into ballad territory, but immediately this one is much stronger. I actually like the brass just after the chorus. The verses are plain but they feel as if they are leading to something stronger, which they do – a good bridge, and a good chorus. Naturally, I like the strings and the whole arrangement is sound – this is more of an honest love song without being bogged down in sentiment or effort and as such is the best song on the album so far.

Right Back Where I Started From‘ opens with decent guitar, sounding more like the successful mid-nineties Adams stuff. It’s mid-tempo, gently rocks, but crucially it has clear melodies in the big chorus and fluttering through the verses. It feels like a happy, fun song and continues the increase in quality in the album’s second half.

Nowhere Fast‘ feels like another decent song. It’s another love song, because of course it is. But the melodies are there – verse, bridge, chorus – all good. Again it feels honest, and nothing is strained or forced. Nice little middle break for a few moments too.

Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love‘ starts off like a slow country ballad, little flutterings of piano and subtle guitar licks. A little bit of string in there too. It’s sweet enough, a nice one for a swaying dance though I’m not sure if the lyrics really qualify for such close quarters. This is a song about frustration so it would be better suited to some romantic drama where the woman throws a mug at the guy and the guy sits alone at a bar while some temptation slides up beside him. And then it’s over fairly quickly, a good choice rather than dragging the song out, so quite good overall.

Blessing In Disguise‘ is.. ugh… he’s just gone full country. I just don’t like this whole sound, never have. Uppy downy guitar, honky tonk piano and the same melodies you’ve heard since Billy The Kid was cruising the bars in the Old West. Okay, it does end up more like a blues country song by the end, but it’s just the opposite of everything I like.

Well, that final song sure dampened things after they were picking up. The album got off to a poor, slow start abut things improved around halfway. There is a terrible reliance on ballads and too many of the tracks lack ambition or stand out enough from their brethren present or past. There’s a few songs here that I’d gladly listen to again that I wasn’t previously aware of, but it isn’t an album I’d recommend from Adams and until I’m more familiar with the few good songs I couldn’t recommend those over other more obvious picks from his back catalogue. Still, it’s interesting to see the direction he went in for this album and I’m interested to see if his follow-up 11 follows in this vein. I don’t have high hopes for that one, but maybe we’ll get a few surprises.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Room Service!