Top 50 older song discoveries of 2018 (#35–#31)

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31.)
Wind-Up by Jethro Tull (1971)
(For me, the opening and closing tracks are the highlights on 1971’s Aqualung. You could easily make a case for the opening title track Aqualung as the finest moment with its epic guitar riff.
The closer Wind-Up features a persuasive vocal performance by Ian Anderson, the lyric deals with religion and reveals the thoughts of a person who prefers to think for himself rather than be controlled. It’s quite haunting and some of the most purposeful writing I’ve seen from the group)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32.)
We Used to Know by Jethro Tull (1969)
(Tough to pick a favorite from Stand Up (1969) because there are so many good ones to choose from. We Used to Know is probably the track with the most accessible lyrics and not only that, there’s a great guitar solo too. The band are famous for Ian Anderson’s talent with a flute, and Reasons for Waiting from the same album is really beautiful and romantic)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33.)
Easy from Now On by Emmylou Harris (1978)
(I haven’t listened to the entire album that closely yet. The “easy from now on” chorus from the first track was exactly what I needed, especially after a hectic time moving to a new home this year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34.)
Jump into the Fire by Harry Nilsson (1971)
(Inspiring lyrics and just a great rock song. “I could climb a mountain” makes you want to get going! Heard this one in the 2015 film A Bigger Splash. Apparently was also used in Goodfellas (1990), I must have overlooked it when I watched Scorsese’s film)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35.)
On the Border by Al Stewart (1976)
(I knew the wonderful title track Year of The Cat yet the rest of the album was a nice surprise with plenty of instrumental variation. This track is like a short story and there’s a bit of a Spanish flavor to the guitar in keeping with the lyrics which are allegedly about the Spanish Civil War)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Film review: Suspiria (2018) (spoiler-free)

 

 

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A “cover version” of  Dario Argento’s horror classic from 1977. The story is more ambitious than the original, which back in the 70s went for atmosphere over story. The dance sequences are expanded on and the violence is definitely more graphic and off-putting. There’s a bit more depth in regard to the seduction and control of dance choreography, comparable to the manipulation of the Germans by Hitler or the loss of self in a cult. Set in late 70s Berlin, some reviewers wrote about national guilt in post-WW2 Germany, this aspect wasn’t that apparent to me. You could argue denial, guilt and trauma was embodied through various characters but I won’t spoil this here. Argento’s film was evasive about revealing what was wrong at the dance academy until the end, whereas Guadagnino’s Suspira is a different kind of mystery by giving up its secret half way through with explanatory dialogue, yet still offering other surprises.

 

 

 

What the new film wants to do (but to me doesn’t fully manage) is humanize these women and probably that’s the reason we see them laughing and enjoying themselves in the restaurant. The scenes with the old man have some emotion but needed to be edited down and at times are too removed from the central narrative. By the conclusion, I couldn’t tell dream from reality, and maybe that was intended, who knows, to make the audience feel we too were cast under the spell. The music and sound design is good, especially Thom Yorke’s haunting song Suspirium, although I think Goblin’s 70s soundtrack is far more eerie. A passable re-imagining, but not particularity emotionally involving and tonally it has some big shifts from quietly touching to gruesome all within a short space of time. I cared about the old man (I wasn’t distracted by Tilda Swinton in heavy make-up) and Sara (Mia Goth) yet felt almost nothing about the leads Susie (Dakota Johnson) and Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). That said, Madame Blanc is arguably the most interesting and complex character. There are 2-3 sequences which I’ll remember for a long time, such as the emotionless stare, the laughing women and the detective, and the shocking opening dance. Unfortunately, the violence is needlessly unpleasant. But I guess it’s not a fault because the filmmakers were obviously going for uncomfortable.

 

 

 

The original is style over substance. But in terms of style there are few that can top it, with fantastic camera work, production design, music, and suspense. The 2018 film is thinking man’s arthouse cinema with a completely different approach to visuals and story. Because plenty is going on beneath the surface, one viewing is probably not enough to unpack everything. I’m happy tries to be different to the 1977 film and from what I’ve read is a labor of love for Italian director and horror fan Luca Guadagnino. There’s been talk of a new film category “elevated horror” or “post-horror” and Suspiria I assume belongs to this new bracket because it (in the vein of Get Out or Hereditary) features strong performances, works as a drama, and has substance to go with the blood. However, some have complained the term is disrespectful, an elitist label which implies horror needs elevating. Of course, you could make the case smart horror dramas have been around for decades (Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining) and these are just fancy new categories for journalists to write about.

 

7/10

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Top 50 older song discoveries of 2018 (#40–#36)

 

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36.)
Europe Endless by Kraftwerk (1977)
(I love how the track takes you on a journey. The synths and lyrics have a rhythm suitable to the theme of movement. Not unthinkable Kraftwerk got the idea for their album because Bowie referenced them on his similarly train-themed 1975 album Station to Station. 1977’s Trans Europa Express celebrates the European railway service and explores the disparities between reality and appearance)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37.)
Hallogallo by Neu! (1972)
(wow, one of the best instrumentals you are likely to find on YouTube. You can tell these guys have some talent as a unit. Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother are actually former members of Kraftwerk.
I’ve listened to Kraftwerk, Scorpions and Tangerine Dream yet I’m not too familiar with other German bands from the 70s. Neu’s 1972 and 1975 albums appear to be their peak. If you know any great krautrock music, feel free to recommend in the comments)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38.)
Are Friends Electric? by Tubeway Army/Gary Numan (1979)
(I recently discovered synth-pop artist Gary Numan used to be in a group called Tubeway Army.  Are Friends Electric? is one of their most well known songs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

39.)
Rhubarb by Aphex Twin (1994)
(I didn’t fully connect with the techno-ambient Selected Ambient Works 1985-92 but when I listened to Rhubarb from Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994) I knew I had found the Aphex Twin album for me)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40.)
Jay by Disasterpiece (800% Slower)  – It Follows Soundtrack
(The slower remix is the newest track in the top 50 (from 2016) and my most played this year. Can put on repeat and I don’t get sick of hearing it. Very calming. Play it quietly in the background if you need to get your stress levels down!)

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Top 50 older song discoveries of 2018 (#45–#41)

 

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41.)
Guess I’m Doing Fine by Beck (2002)
(I’ve heard Sea Change described as the definitive break-up album. Guess I’m Doing Fine is a Beck classic. The singer is at his most vulnerable, using the songs as self-therapy, telling the listener about his loneliness and failed relationship, and in turn we can empathize and maybe relate)

 

 

 

 

42.)
Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails (1989)
(A change of pace compared to the rest of 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine. A piano ballad which is arguably the most affecting on their debut. The mystery about the “something I can never have” allows the listener to fill in the blanks, as most of us yearn for things out of reach. Possibly the lyrics are about how we need distraction from looking inward “I’m starting to scare myself” and interaction can make the pain “all go away”)

 

 

 

 
43.)
Fruit and Icebergs by Blue Cheer (1969)
(From the soundtrack of The Other Side of the Wind (2018), Orson Welles’ lost 70s film which netflix recently released. The striking, guitar-driven tune fits well with the wordless, psychedelic film-within-a film)

 

 

 

 

 

 

44.)
Sæsonen Er Slut by CV Jørgensen (1980)
(The lyrics look at the the changing seasons, repetition and getting older,  the temporary nature of summer fun. The writing and musicianship is strong, although the album is written in such a vague manner that I don’t quite know where CV Jørgensen stands. Perhaps that’s the genius of it)

 

 

 

 

 

45.)
Om Lidt by Kim Larsen & Bellami (1986)
Kim Larsen (with his unmistakable large mouth) never made a big splash when singing in English but was a giant in Danish music, as a member of beloved rock band Gasolin in the 70s, and a successful solo artist as well. He tragically passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer. Nobody can replace him. Om Lidt became a hymn in the aftermath of his death. Oddly, I didn’t know the track, the opening lyrics read: “In a little while things will become quiet. In a little while it’s all over. Did you see what you wanted? Did you hear your melody?”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

Top 50 older song discoveries of 2018 (#50 – #46)

 

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John Peel used to do a Festive 50 at the end of the year on his BBC radio show. I’ll do my own version, only in this case the music is a few years old and there’s no voting. I know it’s not Christmas or even December yet but I want to get this ten-part series off and running. The newest tune is from 2010, the oldest from the mid 1960s. You’ll also notice a number of these are discoveries from blogs I read. In case you’re wondering, the ranking is not important, so if it’s #50 or #1 doesn’t really matter. Beginning with possibly the least interesting post to readers. As all five choices are Danish. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the English language stuff later! And there is an instrumental below.

 

 

 

 

 

46.)
Endnu by Tommy Seebach (1986)
(An artist where I don’t enjoy everything he’s recorded. I pick out a few tracks from each album and make my own playlist. His music is regarded as cheesy by some Danes, and his musician son Rasmus Seebach is more popular with the younger generation, yet if you do a bit of digging, Tommy’s ballads are especially good. Endnu is a seize the day anthem, basically saying it’s not too late to achieve your dreams. The 1983 piano ballad Andeby is another keeper from his heyday)

 

 

 

 

 

47.)
Du’ Det Dejligste by Tommy Seebach (1983)
(Features one of his best vocal performances. Can bring a tear to your eye because he died three years after this 2000 live performance. The singer couldn’t handle the drop in popularity and turned to the bottle, which led to a divorce and his untimely passing aged 53. Very sad)

 

 

 
48.)
Finito by Tommy Seebach (1993)
(Arguably the last great song he recorded. Very moving and you might want it played at your funeral)

 

 

 

 

 

49.)
Bubble Sex by Tommy Seebach (1977)
(The disco-styled Apache (with a dated video I refuse to share) could be Seebach’s most recognizable instrumental. Bubble Sex (from the same album Disco Tango) is better than its smutty title indicates, a sensual instrumental with an inspired keyboard melody, accompanied by synths, guitars and violins, you picture a woman in a bubble bath with her lover due to the moans and water effects)

 

 

 

 

50.)
Morten by De Eneste To (2010)
(Heard randomly on the radio and made a point of scribbling down the name. I’m glad I did because this is the best contemporary Danish song I’ve heard in a while, great lyrics and chorus.  De Eneste To is a successful Danish band consisting of two established musicians, Peter Sommer and Simon Kvamm)

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome