Nightman Listens To – My Fair Lady – Original Broadway Cast (Top 1000 Albums Series)

Oh, dear Lord, no. This is one giant WTF and should not be on a Top 1000 Albums list. Yes, yes, I haven’t heard it yet, but I already know what it’s going to sound like. I’ve seen the movie, hell, I even kind of like the movie. But musicals, in general, suck balls while simultaneously sucking the life out of me. Musicals… you’re lucky if you get two or three good songs, usually at least one centrepiece. My Fair Lady, as far as movie musicals go, has a few songs which the general public will know even if they haven’t seen the movie, but none of the songs are outstanding. Lets just get this over with.

What Do I Know About My Fair Lady: Musical, based off book, which later became a hit movie. Audrey Hepburn is awesome. She’s not here though.

Overture: It’s frantic and fast. It’s a textbook overture. You already know what you’re getting here. There’s about four seconds here to differentiate it from any other musical.

Why Can’t The English: Ridiculous talky singy. There’s only person who should be murdered here, and it’s YOU. This is just an embarrassment for all concerned. Fine in a film musical – pure torment in literally any other form.

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly: Starts horrifically. Gets gradually worse. At least this one has a memorable main line. The backing vocals are shocking. Some of Julie Andrews’ notes are ear cancer too.

With A Little Bit Of Luck: One of the things I hate most about musicals is singing with forced accents. Which means I’m basically buggered where this album is concerned. It’s so false and theatrical – I want my music, in most cases, to be honest, not acting. Of course, this is a musical so I get it’s meant to be the other way around – but as I’m listening with no visuals it just doesn’t work. The song needs to be extraordinary to get its point across. This is tripe. As far as accents go, Cockney is near the top of the list of ones I can’t abide. YOU SOUND LIKE A COCK.

I’m An Ordinary Man: More talking. I don’t care. You may as well be describing the peristalsis which occurs in your anus as your squeeze one through. Posh rapping. Women, eh, amirite? You’d prefer the Spanish Inquisition to letting a woman into your life? Hardy har. I’d prefer you and everyone you’ve ever met being skinned and set on fire than listen to this for another millisecond.

Just You Wait: Oh fuck off.

The Rain In Spain: Abortion.

I Could Have Danced All Night: I don’t mind the ‘chorus’ of this one. All else is pain and two minutes too long.

Ascot Gavotte: Noises. Marching. Then the singing starts and we all wish we were dead.

On The Street Where You Live: This one would be fine without the terrible vocals.

You Did It: Nice flutey opening descends into farce. And not good farce. The sort of farce where you’re trying to get somewhere on time but you can’t find your keys, then the car won’t start, then you get stuck behind eight cyclists who CYCLE IN A GROUP BESIDE THE FUCKING CYCLE LANE, then you get by them only to meet a tractor, before an ISIS appears in the backseat and beheads you.

Show Me: More travesties.

Get Me To The Church: Nope.

A Hymn To Him: Unlistenable.

Without You: Every single song and every single vocal delivery is identical.

I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face: Starts with ridiculous aplomb. It’s all words words words spoken in the same dumb way. Once we finally get to the ‘good’ bit it’s too little too late.

What Did I Learn: I’m fairly competent that several thousands brain cells died while listening to this.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Are you seriously asking me that with a straight face? Every copy of this wank should be wiped from existence.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 559.

Yeah, don’t even comment. In fact, forget I even mentioned it.

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Nightman Listens To – Jackson Browne – Pretender (Top 1000 Albums Series)

Greetings, Glancers. We’re up through the Sphincter of Musical Past once again and ironically have stumbled across some Brown. Or Browne. Jackson Browne, that is. Isn’t Jackson Browne a painter? What a loads of Pollocks. If it wasn’t clear already, I’m completely new to this boyo and this album, at least from a listening perspective, so I’m not sure what to expect. It’s about time I found something I’ll love though. These are supposed to be the best of the best, but so far this experience has been kind of like hearing your neighbours have sex when you’re a teen – you think it’s alluring and hot, and you want to listen more, but you remember they are both disgusting and frighteningly obese and too hairy. Or less alarmingly, it kind of feels like when you’re stuck with a roommate or friend who insists on playing you ‘their music’ and you just know you’re going to hate it but have to pretend otherwise. Anyway, on the surface this sounds more promising, more than all that Jazz muck anyway.

What Do I Know About Jackson Browne: Another folk singer who popped up in the sixties or seventies and probably sang about love and loss and hippies. I know I’ve heard some of his bigger songs.

What Do I Know About The Pretender: Nada

The Fuse: Tst. Tst. Tst. Piano. Shadows, nice, already my sort of thing. Vocals. Sorts very traditional American. And right on cue there’s the country sounds. Drum sound isn’t great. And right on cue he talks about a drum. A little bit of Disco in there too. Quite a lot going on here, speeding up, pausing, different sounds and styles. On first listen I like it, but it’s not quite ticking all the boxes for me. I love the main piano part, the faster pieces not so much. It then turns into Baywatch. It then turns into Welcome To The Machine. 

Your Bright Baby Blues: Slow. More Springsteen stylings. Organ. People going places fast, that old trope. It’s nice, not a lot to this one. But it’s nice. Sounds like a bunch of other average songs though – those songs you know you know but can’t name. Guitar solo. Maybe it’s a bit too close to country or something. Again it’s good but it’s lacking whatever it is that makes me truly love a song. That being said, both songs so far I’d happily listen to again and presumably they’d grow on me.

Linda Paloma: Harps and weirdness. Or some Spanish equivalent. Was going to say it sounded Greek or Italian as it makes me think of The Godfather, but then he said something about Mexico. Easy chugging chords in the background. Nice again. There’s a little vocal move he’s done in every song so far, you know, turning the last syllable into three. That’s the sort of thing I pick up on and get annoyed by. I can’t think of anything better word to describe than nice – it’s not doing anything for me emotionally, but it’s pleasant to hear.

Here Come Those Tears Again: Nice start. Piano mixing with guitar and drums again. Beats. Organ. Disco beats again. Backing vocals. Good guitar. I’m not sure if this is supposed to emotional – the lyrics suggest it is, but the music is pretty cheery. Maybe it’s his voice – it’s never strained and rarely varies. I prefer a little more distinction in my vocals.

The Only Child: You already know. Nice. I like this one in its opening few seconds better than the others though. Maybe it’s the strings and slower pace. Oh dear, it’s sped up. Most of lyrics are fine. I think his voice is definitely part of why it’d just not clicking, along with the weak drums and the country twinge. It feels like the sort of song Southern State US jocks don’t mind shedding a tear or two to. Heh. Tutu.

Daddy’s Tune: Same again, waiting for the drums and speed. Something about regretting relationship with dad, and not saying what you should when you could. This doesn’t really sit well with me because I regret everything I’ve ever said to anyone, usually the instant it’s out of my mouth. Oh God, where did those trumpets come from? It’s all a bit cheesy. It’s starting to annoy me now, this need to suddenly kick off the drums, almost as if he’s trying to appease an audience that isn’t interested in softer music. Or maybe this was his Daddy’s music and he’s doing it on purpose. I don’t think so. That’s two songs in a row which started perfectly well then fell apart completely.

Sleep’s Dark And Silent Gate: Cool name. Good opening. He knows how to start a song and suck you in. But he also knows how to kick you in the nuts and then laugh in your face for thinking it was going to be something you’d enjoy. At least there’s a bit of gruff in his voice in this one. This one is more pure, no backing drum shite. Phew, made it to the end without any bullshit, good job.

The Pretender: Sounds like the opening track, or what I remember of it. More lyrics. I suppose this spoke for a generation, it doesn’t really speak for me though even though we face the same struggles. This one is a little too plain and again I don’t feel the emotion.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 509/1000

What Did I Learn: That Jackson Browne isn’t just a folk singer with a guitar and has packed in much more depth from a musical perspective. That he’s a good lyricist, but that I don’t love his voice or connect emotionally with his songs as others no doubt will.

Does The Pretender Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Well, I want to like it and given time I’m sure it would grow on it. But when comparing it something equally lauded by Springsteen or Joni Mitchell it fall short for me. The country hues never sit well with me so we’re already on a tumbling scale and Browne’s voice is too plain for me – it lacks the anger or sadness or raw power or rasp or unique quality that affects me on a personal level. On first listen, I’ve liked it more than some other albums I’ve encountered on the journey but it feels less important or revolutionary than those. It’s a no from me, but it’s fine.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Pretender. Does this album hold special value for you, or is it one you’ve never heard?

Chart Music – 1966

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/

1966 Glancers, 1966. The year which meany consider to be the pinnacle of music. A pivotal year by all accounts, for culture worldwide, for music, cinema, politics, civil rights and so on and so forth. Where were you? Where was I? Where am I? So many questions, and so few readers. As you may be aware, I was not yet part of this world, at least not as you understand it, but many people were and they bore witness to things such as England winning the World Cup, thousands more US troops landing in Vietnam, Time magazine asked if God Was Dead, The Church Of Satan was formed, Castro declared Martial Law, Star Trek debuted on TV, John met Yoko, and a maniac went on a shooting spree in Texas.

In the realm of music, David Bowie emerged, The Beatles became the first band to play the Nippon Budokan Hall, Van Morrison and The Doors appeared on stage together, and Bob Dylan turned Judas. A bunch of extraordinarily popular albums were released and many songs still played regularly today were recorded. Looking at the list of songs below, there are only three I know from the name but I’m sure once I listen I will know a few more. The list at a first glance doesn’t seem to be representative of the many great songs and albums which first appeared this year.

  1.  Jim Reeves. Distant Drums.

Smooth vocals. Slow. Far away. Basic beat, simple piano. Strings arrive. Shifts to a more Western style pace. All very pleasant but out of time. Nothing wrong with it, a little too nice for my liking.

2. Dave Dee: Bend It!

Descending riff. Slower pace. Quickening like a Greek tune. Faster. Collapse. Funny. Even Greek guitars so I assume a deliberate choice. I always liked this sort of music from my travels. What exactly is he bending? Pretty good, though probably a novelty song.

3. The Who: I’m A Boy.

Back when they sounded like a nice little garage band, though they still manage to make plenty of noise in the chorus and bridge with those chugging guitars and bin lid drums. Great lyrics, good music.

4. New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.

Ha ha, South Park. There’s something in my pocket for you. Waterloo melody. More novelty stuff but still good. Not a bad song yet, yay.

5. The Rolling Stones: Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow.

Fuzz and throbbing and sudden trumpets. All a bit chaotic with the trumpets out of tune with the vocals and guitar. The little break in the middle is nice. I was never a huge fan of early Stones but this is pretty good. The bass is probably the best part. It all collapses into a surprise bonus riff at the end. You wouldn’t get that in the charts these days.

6. The Supremes: You Can’t Hurry Love.

You know it, of course you do. Or the Phil Collins version. Sweet, melodic, beautiful. Can’t say much more about it, just enjoy!

7. Sandpipers: Guatanamera.

A song forever adopted by football crowds with ‘Guatanamera’ changed to… something else. I have no idea what it’s about but all very nice – dreamy verses and of course an incredibly catchy chorus. Oh, a spoken explanation. I didn’t really need that, but thanks.

8. Sonny And Cher: Little Man.

Greek fingering (madam) and bangs (sir). Yes, I know this. Horn beeps. Lots of pauses. It is a very odd song, then again it was 1966. Good though.

9. The Troggs: I Can’t Control Myself.

To be fair, most morning I wake up and scream ‘OH NO!’ This is a song with a marching beat and a simple structure, catchy chorus, verses okay, probably shouldn’t be stretched to three minutes.

10. Dusty Springfield: All I See Is You

Your standard Springfield ballad – big vocals, a little mournful, you know the score.  The chorus/rest of song is much better – even bigger vocals and more emotion, and it keeps getting bigger in every sense as it goes along.

As mentioned earlier, 1966 had a wealth of quality releases – Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Revolver, Freak Out, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, A Quick One, and many others. Out of the top selling singles of the year in the US, three were by The Beatles, one by The Beach Boys, and one by Frank Sinatra – four out of five ain’t bad. For an alternative list of 10 great songs from 1966 (though most are incredibly famous) have a click on the links below:

  1. The Beatles: We Can Work It Out

2. James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good)

3. The Mamas And The Papas: California Dreamin

4. The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

7. Janis Ian: Society’s Child

8. Jefferson Airplane: Let Me In

9. The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon

10. The Who: Boris The Spider

What is your favourite song from 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

BOW

Greetings, Glancers! We return to David Bowie and another album I know little about. Last time around I knew very little about Lodger which ended up being one of my favourite Bowie albums so far, so hopefully we’ll get more goodness today. As always, share your thoughts in the comments and make any suggestions for what else you think I should listen to.

It’s No Game (No.1)‘. Clicks. Hisses. Doors. Spray pain can being shaken? Music. Japanese. Shrieking Bowie. The music nicely fits the anguished vocals. Chorus (?) finds a little more stability. Some nifty guitar parts. That old glam beat comes in around half way but the general noise drowns out its power to annoy. I think I’d prefer it if the Japanese vocals were a bit more angry too. Nice guitar and shouting end.

Up The Hill Backwards‘. Chords, and twinkles. You gotta have faith. Sudden change and shift to a steady beat, organ backed, and plain talky singing with some gospel harmonies. Dirty guitar part. This is pleasant and poppy, mainly notable for the slight shifts in pace and the intrusive distorted guitar hisses. Final minute or so is instrumental.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)‘. Opens in a hasty manner with another jagged riff, some mouth trumpets, and thudding drums. The verses are at a gallop, there is a lot off industrial type noise in the background, beeps, crashes, dissonance. The guitars are formless at times, deliberately playing off key. I’m still not a massive fan of Bowie’s vocals, I suspect that will always be a thing, and you know that I don’t like the whole singing in English accents thing. More wacky guitar parts by Mister Fripp I believe – he seems to have been given free rein to do whatever he pleases, and the results are fantastic.

Ashes To Ashes‘. I know this one, and have always been intrigued by its oddness. Outside of the strange noises, there is a staccato type beat and funky bass. See, here I like Bowie’s singing in the verses, but not so much in other places. I like the call backs to previous songs. This was always one of my favourites before I’d ever heard a single Bowie album, and that hasn’t changed.

Fashion‘. My ow prejudice never allowed me to truly appreciate this – I think fashion is pointless, dangerous, and ultimately worthless – so of course a song with a name like that was going to piss me off, and it was made worse by apparently being a dance-oriented song. I always had an inkling that the whole thing was ironic, satirical, but I could never be arsed to find out either way. Listening now the song’s sentiments are obvious and the angular, gouging guitar lines are great. There’s a little bit of Pink Floyd in there too, which is always welcome, but the song as a whole doesn’t pull me in.

Teenage Wildlife‘. Bending in. Isn’t that the ‘Heroes’ riff? I’m hoping this is an anthem I’m not aware of but will love. Bowie vocals, affected with an operatic twang. I don’t like the piano – reverting too much to glam. The guitar is immense though. I know I get stick for saying things like this, but I feel like many Bowie songs would be better if he had handed over vocal duties to someone else. It is an anthem of a sort, just not the sort I was looking for. Hey, I still like it, particularly the middle part around 4 minutes. It has no business going beyond the six minute mark.

Scream Like A Baby‘. This starts out as something more akin to my tastes – a growling distortion, sudden mystery, a sense of threat, and here the vocals have more impact. It all falls apart in the chorus, but those verses are great, the riff working perfectly with the anger of the lyrics and vocals.

Kingdom Come‘. This seems to be following a similar rhythm to the previous song, though is immediately more upbeat – good vocals, good backing vocals, feels like a hit. Feels a little Motown. I see this was actually a cover – I had no idea. It loses a little impact towards the end, but otherwise I like it.

Because You’re Young’. Hold on. Hold on, what is this? This is more like it. That’s possibly my favourite Bowie intro yet, followed by a pretty good riff and ‘scary’ noises. This almost feels like Alice Cooper. Don’t mess it up. Uh oh, a sudden pause and wavering vocals. None of the rest of the song lives up to the start, which is a great shame, but as a whole it all balances out.

It’s No Game (No.2)‘. A steady bass and beat, regular guitar interruptions, nicer low range vocals, and a cool choir chorus. Great lyrics. He still seems angry. Camel shit. A sudden pause. Over? No, noises. Now it’s over.

Another one goes down. We’re into the 80s now, a decade where almost all of the successful artists of the previous decade(s) either fell apart or began releasing monumental amounts of crap. I know Bowie had some hits in the decade, but I don’t know much about his album input so I guess I’ll find out. This one.. I’d say it was middling for me, closer to the top than the bottom – some highlights but few standouts. There isn’t any filler and I can’t say I didn’t not enjoy a single song either – middling in other words. Let me know in the comments what you think of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and where it ranks in your list of Bowie records!

Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – Bounce

Greetings, Glancers. Like my Bryan Adams posts, we’re at the point now where I had stopped listening to new music by Bon Jovi. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard some of this album, and I’m almost certain I heard the title track upon release, but as I type this I can’t recall what it sounded like. Looking at the rest of the albums there isn’t a single song that I recognize. According to Wikipedia, the album was heavily influence by 9/11 – unsurprising. I’m hoping then that there are some insightful and emotional songs here which I will enjoy, but given that we are entering unknown territory I’m not holding out hope.

Just an additional note: In these previous Nightman Listens posts I’ve literally been listening to songs for the first type and typing my thoughts as they play. From now I’m going to try to listen to the songs twice – first to get my initial thoughts, and then the second time for the nuances and to allow the song a chance to grow on me before ripping it apart.

Undivided‘ has an unexpected start, lots of chugging distorted chords. Near spoken verse. Lyrics seem to hint at 9/11. Decent chorus. Repeat. Decent middle eight/chorus. Decent solo. Decent softer ending. Decent all round then.

Everyday‘ starts with beats and a bit of the old mouth robot. More heavy metal chords. Decent verse again. Decent bridge. Chorus doesn’t really work, thought it was building up to something better. Seems like an okay single but doesn’t get me pumped like their bigger hits – not quite as good as the first song.

The Distance‘ opens with a screechy riff and fast drums before giving way to a more mid paced intro then settling into a calmed verse. This feels like a traditional old school Bon Jovi power ballad. I hear some strings. Moves into a pretty good chorus. It’s odd how the guitars have a much more metal tone on this album – they’re really crunching – but the songs are soft at their core. Still, this is probably the best song of the three so far.

Joey‘ has a soothing piano intro. It’s not quite Baywatch, but close. It’s another storytelling lyric with near spoken vocals. More strings. Unfortunate it’s very plain – verse, bridge, chorus are almost indistinct. The piano part is the best part.

Misunderstood’ starts in typical soft rock Jovi style – you’ll have heard them play this style many times before. The verse doesn’t do a lot for me in the first instance, the pre-chorus is nothing out of the ordinary, but then the chorus comes in and raises the rest of the song – the next verse etc feels better based on the strength of the chorus. I like the ‘I-I-I-I-I’ hook a lot, but the vocals sound strained – it feels like he managed to hit it once in isolation and they just shouted ‘cut, let’s use that one throughout’. The solo is generic, there’s some phasing effect on it, but nothing new.

‘All About Lovin’ You’ gets me worried that it’s the band going country again, but this moves away into soft ballad territory. There’s a weird choice of guitar tone for the lead in the intro – usually the sort of tone reserved for some blistering solo. The lyrics you’ve heard a hundred times before, all about pages of life and faded memories. There are some plain strings in the background, I don’t like the drum effects in the verse, it’s inoffensive stuff that loved up couples can sway to, but the chorus rips shamelessly from Never Say Goodbye – same chord progression, melodies, even the strings. On its own this is fine, but they’ve done the same much better before.

‘Hook Me Up’ makes me think of drugs. Bon Jovi has never been a drug band, right? It certainly begins heavier than most BJ songs, the same crunching chord over and over with some strange effects in the background. A simple progression comes in, this breaks off into an atmospheric piano and bass section which is nice, though I could do without the scratchy, whispery stuff in the background. The verses are sharp, fast, I like how the central chords fade back in to add a dynamic layer – it’s nothing revolutionary for the band, but it keeps things fresh. The solo reminds me a little of Duran Duran’s Ordinary World riff, the rest of the song and the chorus has quite a lot of hiss and its melodically familiar territory, though the sudden finish is appreciated and caught me off guard.

‘Right Side Of Wrong’ has an almost great intro – I have a thing for piano and string intros anyway, so I’m hooked at the outset. Lyrically we’re in Springsteen territory again, the verse is fairly plain with just the piano, Jon, and some light acoustic guitars low in the mix. Unfortunately the rest of the song doesn’t live up to the opening 10 seconds. In fact, it’s one of the more boring songs the band has written – it’s very plain and unadventurous and like elsewhere on the album it just makes me wish I was listening to a better BJ song. This one borrows very heavily from Bed Of Roses, but it comes nowhere close to reaching the standards of that classic – disappointing.

‘Love Me Back To Life’ feels like a potential single from the get go. There’s a brief crunch chord intro, giving way to simple rock chords, strings, and voicebox – all BJ trademarks. The verses are commercially brief, the pre-chorus sets things up nicely, and the chorus is pleasingly melodic – another you can see crowds singing to. It’s nothing extraordinary, but a decent stab at a soft rock single by a band deep into their career. The solo is accompanied well by the strings, and it’s followed by a softer section where Jon attempts another forceful high note, this time it mostly works if sounding a little strained.

‘You Had Me From Hello’ kicks off in classic acoustic ballad territory – if you’re a regular glancer then you’ll know I enjoy simple acoustics and vocals, so this is promising for me. I could do without the organ. Good vocals, and simple, endearing lyrics and melodies which come across as meaningful and honest. Everything flows well, verse into pre-chorus, and on into chorus. It’s all understated and the volume is never raised beyond gentle. I would drop the organ/keys and change up the shitty drums. Not for the first time the harmonies help things immensely. There’s a slight change for the middle, I don’t know if the song really needs it, the volume gets marginally louder and gives the rest of the band thirty seconds to do their thing before returning to form. A welcome surprise, and maybe my favourite on the album.

‘Bounce’ is another song that’s clearly a single candidate – I’m assuming it was a single given it’s also the title track, but I don’t believe I’ve heard it before. Again the trademark BJ sound rips out of the stereo, stadium guitar tone, voicebox and commercial melodies. At least this time the band sound urgent – there’s a lot of ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ here, and it sounds as if they are attempting another ‘It’s My Life’ as a lot of the tricks used there are front and centre here. This song doesn’t come close to reaching those heights, but it’s still a perfectly good radio friendly rock song. Special points, I guess, for the ‘I don’t give a fu-fu-fu-fu’ pre-chorus which is sure to be a live favourite.

‘Open All Night’ closes the album. I typically want my rock albums to end in buoyant, energetic fashion, but this is one of the softer ballads on Bounce. It’s nice enough drivel, the verses are pleasant but uneventful, while the chorus has some neat hooks. It’s not one of their best ballads, closer to the bottom than the top but it will obviously have plenty of fans singing its praises – just doesn’t move me.

Overall I mostly enjoyed the album – as mentioned I knew very little about it and while it’s heavy on the ballads, there are a few decent rock songs I wouldn’t mind hearing again, and one or two others which hit the mark. No bad songs, but quite a few plain songs which feel too often like overly safe remixes of former glories. Some bands continue to churn out the same sort of song, the key is to make people want to listen to the new stuff rather than hear the new stuff and wish they were listening to the old. Let us know in the comments what you think of Bounce!