Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Everybody Up! 6 - He Drove The Fastest Painty-Can Cart In The West


1. MOTT THE HOOPLE "All The Young Dudes"

# He can kick like a mule, its a real mean team, but we can love; oh yes, we can love...

Yay!  A friend of mine once introduced me to the concept of cheering when a character in a film says the name of the film, which has stuck ever since, and of course occurred to me in this situation.  Note that the less appropriate the timing of the cheer, the more satisfying this little game becomes (see: "Secrets and Lies").

I don't really think you need me to run this one down for you; Bowie wrote this for Mott, who were somewhat in the doldrums at the time.  It provided a shot in the arm for them - and later a new guitarist in the form of Mick Ronson - but so Bowie is the song that it's odd hearing another artist do it, even if they did do it first, and Bowie's never really managed to get a good version on record.

Thus begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a - hang on a minute...  That sounds like... 


2. LOU REED "Walk on The Wild Side"

Sigh.  Here comes ol' painty-can Lou Reed, again, to ruin everything, again.

Yes, here's every apologist's nightmare - arguably your artist's biggest song, which sounded "exotic" at the time, turns out when viewed through modern society's unforgiving prism to be full of outmoded and borderline insulting language, unfortunately targeted at a minority whose causes are just starting to come into sharp focus. 

It's also boring as fuck, though the clever production on the backing vocals through what must be, by a process of elimination, the "chorus" is actually pretty good.  This still falls foul of one of the fundamental rules of the universe: when PJ And Duncan's version of a song improves upon it in every conceivable way, you have a problem.

Finally, to quote a very underrated writer, "the best that can be said for an artefact of this level of throwaway frivolity and outmoded prejudice is that human morality's inexorable progress has rendered this almost impossible to judge by modern standards" - which either makes Lou Reed the American Noel Coward, or Noel Coward the English Lou Reed (delete as applicable).  Either way, one thing is undeniable: Lou Reed's garage contained many half-finished cans of paint.

3. ROXY MUSIC "Virginia Plain"

Not that I'm necessarily saying that Eno doesn't have a stash of Crown's finest, probably all in slightly differently named shades of white, but at least his painty-can-ness tends to manifest in ground-breaking or entertaining fashion - note that's not an and/or, as he doesn't quite seemed to have mastered doing both at once.

This track is great, and features probably the best use of oboe in rock.  In fact, are there any other high profile uses of the oboe in rock?  Answers on a postcard.  We'll be hearing from Byron Ferrari again later on, but unfortunately it will be a bit less exciting than this offering; it's easy to underestimate how exciting and progressive Roxy Music must have sounded at the time, particularly in the context of mainstream pop.

Thus (truly) begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a Midlands-brewed beer in hand and one of them hats like Noddy Holder had perched atop yer head.  Come on, let's feel the noise!

4. T-REX "Metal Guru"

BOSH!  Top of the shop.

It's all in the walk.  The walk I do when this song comes on tells me everything I need to know about the song.  It's not a strut, it's not a swagger, but it's supremely confident.  There's even some swish in the hips, a less masculine quality that bubbles to the surface, sensing a lack of fear, the absolute steely focus that the beat and screeching that hails the arrival of this song instils in me.

It is solid, it is unstoppable, it probably looks really bloody stupid on a Tuesday afternoon in a machine-washable Primark suit, whilst trying to rush back to work with a Tesco meal deal in one hand and a permanently buzzing mobile phone in the other, but damn it if it isn't a great, great deal of fun - even if nobody seems to know exactly what a Metal Guru is.

5. THE OSMONDS "Crazy Horses"

First off: not glam rock.  Not anywhere near.  However, what a track.  Seriously; for all my espousing of Digital Hardcore acts, mid-nineties Touch & Go Records alumni and ear-scorching Japanese punks, this may be one of the most extreme tracks in my collection.

Bear in mind that this is The Osmonds - the Mormon, perennial goody-two-shoeses of the seventies music industry - producing an extremely loud rock song.  By modern day standards, with the jaded, seen-it-all attitude of these bloody millenials, it's the equivalent of One Direction torching an orphanage and releasing the screams as a single.

Featuring a riff that can only be described as "metal", a spacey synthesiser and a dangerously berserk, shout-until-you're-hoarse (pun intended, always) vocal about killer horses taking over the world, or something.  The saxophone towards the end derails it a bit but it's too late by then - your mind may well have been blown.

In short, avoid judging this book by its cover; unlike certain other snooze-worthy offerings by certain Dulux-collecting "legends" we've recently encountered, this snaps, crackles and pops with an undercurrent of genuine danger.

Join us next time when we'll be looking for a kiss and trying to work out how one cans a can.

No comments: