It's my chocolate attack

Dear friends,

JLM's list made me think about a few scary numbers I've been listening to on repeat lately and some that aren't scary at all...

1. Friends of mine once expressed admiration and surprise that I got this question right in Trivial Pursuit*. The question was "Name the super group that included members of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company." The answer is, of course, The Firm. The reason I know this is because of Radioactive. This song is so goofy, so 80's (you can practically feel the shoulder pads forming as you listen to it,) so phoned in lyrically and yet...it takes every fiber of my being not to start jutting my jaw forward and doing that biting my bottom lip whitey bounce whenever I hear it. I enjoy walking down the street to this song and pretending I'm in Miami Vice (Smuggler's Blues, anyone?).

WARNING: My idea to use this song in a film depicting mental torture is right on the money. Seek at your own peril. This is for advanced scholars of cheese (not Cheez) only.

PS For those of you who have no fear of 80's production sound, cabaret vocals, sax solos and totally off the wall, what is going on in these lyrics? dementia, I suggest you seek out perhaps my all time favorite childhood lip synch. It's pretty bad, people. It's Gold by Spandau Ballet. Ostensibly a tribute to James Bond (at least that's what the video made it seem like) with bongos and bellowing about love being "Like a high prison wall/but you can leave me standing so taaaaaaaaall!" Wha? EXACTLY! It's really bone-achingly embarrassing that I care for this song so consider this admission as a testament to candor, Eddie Izzard's broken vase and my strong personality all at once.

Gold/Spandau Ballet (video)

2. I remember reading a joke article in Spin Magazine a gazillion years ago entitled "How to make people leave your house when it's 4 AM and the party's over." And the last two instructions were: 9. Play a Yoko Ono album, 10. Turn record over. This colored my perception of Ono for a long time, making it possible for me to listen to the B-52's Rock Lobster with total affection yet scowl if I ever heard Ono make so much as a peep. Elvis Costello helped turn that around for me with a rinky dink yet charming cover of her song, Walking on Thin Ice. (The Costello compilation that it was on, Out of Our Idiot, was also responsible for my discovering Richard Thompson (Parenthesis in parenthesis? Is that legal? No. But more on Thompson in a future Soft Communication post, I promise...) Thanks to Elvis' cover of Thompson's lovely/sad Withered and Died). I recommend finding Walking on Thin Ice, though keep in mind that a remix of that song was some sort of club hit several years ago so you may find one with some UNCHA! UNCHA! UNCHA!'s thrown in there.

Walking on Thin Ice/Yoko Ono (video)

3. Do you ever have fantasies of yourself being really, REALLY obnoxiously, almost cruelly good at something that you know with a stone certainty you have no skill in at ALL? That's me and roller skatin'. Me on skates is like a chimp on skates but even funnier and much, much worse. There's the knock knees, the continuing roll away from where everyone else is standing (y'know. "Hey, D...Hey, where are you going? did she mean to do that? Where's she...OOH. That's gonna smart."), the full feet up in the air, land on your ass fall and lastly, the equally unbecoming attempt to stand up by first getting on your knees and knee-ing your way over to the wall like some sort of legless catholic penitent. This is not the case in my dreams however. Oh no. In my roller skating fantasies, not only can I skate, but I can roller dance with the fluid lyricism of a Xanadu muse. Naturally, I have a playlist for my imaginary roller disco and the latest title in that set is Ladyflash by The Go Team. There's an outerspace shortwave radio feel to that song. the vocals sound like they were recorded into tin cans by schoolgirls and the drums sound as if they were played in a vast, crumbling warehouse, all cymbals and crash, crash, crash. what are they saying? Something about romantic is the fantastic? me lovah boombastic? I have no idea. But they are here to rock the microphone and the swirling sampled strings command you to go round and round with funky grace.

Honorable roller skate mention: Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz. To quote The Monkey: "That's hot. But kinda disco." In my book that's a recipe for excellence. Now, if anyone knows a place where I can practice my roller skating in private, let me know.

4. I would like to describe Antony's voice without using the tired "Love child of Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley" thing (though being a lazy whore, I'd add Jimmy Somerville to the Frankenstein mix). All I can say is that it's a weirdly powerful, out of control, vibrating muscle capable of making other usually good singers (i.e. Rufus Wainwright, Boy George in their duets with him) sound bloodless. I need to stress, however, that I wouldn't call his voice pretty or perfect at all. Rather, there's a glorious imperfection at play, like this man is being pushed and pulled like an accordion and this unsettling sound is coming out. It can't be helped, he's an instrument, it's what he's meant to do. Born in another time and he would've been considered a spiritual vessel. Born in ours and he's a downtown NYC cabaret artiste and Lou Reed's backup singer. Go figure.

Candy Says/Antony and The Johnsons (video)

5. Contributor Mary once mentioned her parent's Buffy Sainte-Marie records and I got a yen to hear that old folkie again. when I first sought her out years ago, at the urging of a quote from a Morrissey interview (where he claimed that her willingness to address serious subject matter in a non-preachy way in her songs was a huge influence on him lyrically), I was surprised to find not a 60's English girl singer but a 60's Native American folk singer. Yowza. Try and locate her fabulous Co'dine. Like Antony, Sainte-Marie's also in possession of a terrifying trill but delivers this particular number in a huskier lower register. A cautionary tale told with passion and restraint. You will not feel like a hippie. Trust me.

Love, D

* I know a lot about rock music but I do have weird lapses. for example, I've never heard of The James Gang. I mean, I know Joe Walsh had something to do with them but you know...there's a lot of stuff out there.

Songs to seek: Radioactive/The Firm, Gold/Spandau Ballet, Walking on Thin Ice/Yoko Ono, Ladyflash/The Go! Team, Feel Good Inc./Gorillaz, For Today I Am a Boy/Antony & The Johnsons, Co'dine/Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Anonymous mike said...

Yoko is underrated. Her early stuff, esp. the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band album, has many high points, and "Walking On Thin Ice" is amazing. Plus she was a patron of Fluxus and other avant-gardists before it was fashionable to do so. And no, she didn't break up the Beatles - egos, drugs and dueling managers did.

1:23 PM, April 20, 2005  
Blogger d said...

yeah, I never bought the breaking up the beatles theory. I too am small, dark, opinionated & foreign so the dragon lady thing wasn't it either. I just think my first exposure to yoko was at too young an age to really understand what she was going for. then again, when you're 10, most avant garde stuff is pretentious & boring.

1:27 PM, April 20, 2005  
Blogger Kirsten said...

The description of yourself skating almost made me spit water on the moniter.

Rock. ^^

3:30 PM, April 20, 2005  
Blogger Jenny said...

One of my coworkers a couple of years ago (whose favorite band was Jethro Tull, by the way) begged me to download Radioactive by The Firm.

I had to turn the song off after about fifty seconds. I didn't even find it cheesetastic - it just made me want to vomit. And kill a small animal.

11:38 AM, April 23, 2005  
Blogger d said...

EXACTLY! that's what makes it great! it's the scene in the movie where someone is being tortured by radicals using water & pliers!

3:09 PM, April 24, 2005  

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