Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Spot The Track: Lyrics Quiz

The post that generated the most comments recently was You hum it... I'll play it! - a guess the intro quiz. I thought therefore that I'd have a go at another quiz post to see what happens. My idea was to put my iPod on shuffle and give you the opening lines of the first five tracks it played. You could then spot the track and the artist for a much coveted Music Musings no-prize. However, this didn't work for a couple of reasons. First, some of the tracks were instrumentals, and second, two of the non-instrumental tracks were so obscure that even I wouldn't get them - and it's my iPod!

Here then are five tracks for you to guess. Not the first five from a random play but five from artist who appeared in the first ten shuffled tracks my iPod played... and, more importantly, tracks I hope you can guess!

Points will be awarded for identifying the track and for the artist. Bonus points will be awarded if I feel like it. :-)

Update: occurred to me people might still like to play even though people have already got the answers, so I have hidden the answers. If you want to check your guess, highlight the space and hopefully all will be revealed. :-)
  1. Say you stand by your man
    Tell me something I don't understand
    You said you love me and that's a fact
    Then you left me, said you felt trapped.
    Artist: The Clash {Guessed by Jeff} Title: Train in Vain {Guessed by Jeff}
    Bonus point for naming the cover artists I listened to.
    Cover artist: Annie Lennox. {Guessed by Katie}

  2. You know that it would be untrue
    You know that I would be a liar
    If I was to say to you
    Girl, we couldn't get much higher.
    Artist: The Doors {Guessed by Anne-Marie} Title: Light My Fire {Guessed by Jeff}

  3. It's one o'clock and time for lunch,dum dee dummmm dee dum.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench
    I can always hear them talk.
    Artist: Genesis {Half-guessed by Jaye} Title: I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) {Half-guessed by Jaye}
    Bonus points available.
    Name the Genesis album this track comes from.

  4. The distant echo -
    Of faraway voices boarding faraway trains
    To take them home to
    The ones that they love and who love them forever.
    The Jam
    {Guessed by Jaye} Title: Down In The Tube Station At Midnight {Guessed by Jaye}
    Bonus points available.
    Guess which are my favourite lines from this track. :-)

  5. I am the son
    and the heir
    Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
    I am the son and heir
    Of nothing in particular.
    Artist: The Smiths {Guessed by Aileen} Title: How Soon Is Now {Guessed by Katie}
    Bonus points available.
    1) what 1990 single sampled the opening section?
    2) who did the cover version that was used as the theme song for... Love Spit Love {
    Guessed by Katie}
    3) which US TV show?
    Charmed {Guessed by Katie}
Of course, you could just Google them... but where's the fun in that?

Is five enough? Do you need hints? Or, is it too easy? Do you want some harder ones?

I've edited in the answers so far. Current points chart is:

Katie: 4
Jaye: 3
Jeff: 3
Anne-Marie: 1
Aileen: 1

Friday, 26 June 2009

Free Download Friday #16: Logan

ReverbNation is a fairly well established music site. It works with independent artists and provides a web platform so artists can give fans access to their music. The artists can sell downloads, show videos and build a community of fans. There are thousands of artists on ReverbNation covering pretty much every genre of popular music.

You can search for artists offering free downloads, for example, I discovered Fish is offering a free track when I searched for "Progressive Rock" and "Free Downloads".

Originally posted on MySpace
Advert supported downloads
However, given what I've said before about sponsorship being an interesting way for bands to be rewarded for their music while fans get to download for free, I want to focus on a deal that Windows has done with ReverbNation and MySpace. Essentially, in exchange for Microsoft adding a Windows advert to the album art, fans get a chance to download a song for free. Currently, Window's are sponsoring over one thousand songs. Will I say that again? Over 1,000 songs for free download!

It has to be said that, by the nature of the people that use ReverbNation, most are by artists I've never heard of. It also doesn't help that there is no search option in the Windows section of site (the best you can do is narrow it down by first letter of the artists name or by choosing a genre). However, I have come across two names I recognise that I want to pass on here.

Free downloads
The first name I recognised was The Answer. Again, because of the way the site is organised, it is not possible to link directly to their page. You may have to go to the Free Music Giveaway section and look for them yourself. With a bit of luck you will be able to download the mp3 of Tonight from here but if you find them yourself, you get the choice of downloading in m4a or mp3 format, as well as being able to listening to it directly from the web page.

Tonight is a great track from an up and coming band but I must admit I prefer Goodbye from Logan. Logan are a five piece rock band from Glasgow - my home town. They do the noisy guitar bit (which I like!) but are also able to slow it down and produce quieter, dare I say it... ballads too. Currently they are supporting Thunder on their farewell tour and I hope this brings Logan to more people's notice because they are a band that deserves to become huge.

Available on eMusic
It is worth pointing out that both The Answer and Logan can be found on eMusic. (Declaration of interest. If you sign up for eMusic as a result of following this link, I get some extra free downloads but I would highly recommend this site anyway as a great source of cheap, legal, music for download.) My suggestion would be to try Everyday Demons from The Answer but to beg, buy or borrow a copy of Cruel Little World by Logan. I've given the album five stars on my iPod and the track, When I Get Down, is outstandingly good. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Where do I start?
With over a thousand tracks to choose from, my problem is where to go next! Do you recognise any of the other names? Who else should I listen to/download?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Bass Solo

Just back from a schools' orchestra concert where a young boy (perhaps 16/17 years old?) played a stunning version of Victor Wooten's A Show of Hands bass solo. Simply stunning. Watch this YouTube clip and then imagine a teenager playing this in front of peers and parents. He got a standing ovation!

Great to see such talented people getting the chance to perform and develop.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wanted: Online Guitar Tutor

I would like to be able to play the guitar but thus far I have failed to master much beyond the ability to form a few chords. As long as there is a reasonable gap between chord changes, I can just about manage to sound vaguely musical.

I have made a number of half hearted attempts to learn to play. Probably the first time was when I was a teenager but the most recent attempt was connected with a competition win (I won the chance to build my own guitar). In the event, my daughter built it and I inherited her old Squire Stratocaster.

I hoped that combining a geek's love for gadgets with a desire to learn guitar might help, so I looked for online guitar lessons and tutor programmes that might help. Currently, I think my favourite is the Learn to Play feature that is built into Garageband. Brilliant! However I still haven't got very far because I spend too little time practising.

However, this summer (along with DIY projects, family holidays, reading some of the backlog of novels that I've built up, typing up some research stuff, etc...) I thought I'd have a go at ten minutes a day on guitar. Does anyone have any suggestions for (free) geeky guitar tools/sites that will help? All suggestions gratefully received.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Free Download Friday #15: ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time to call the band ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead. It is certainly a name you are unlikely to forget!

In a sense this is a follow-up to two previous posts. It is another link to free, legal concert recordings (like Free Download Friday #11: Official Bootlegs) and the site in question also has a download of a British Sea Power concert (see last week's Free Download Friday #14: British Sea Power).

The site featured this week is Wolgang's Vault - a site with a phenomenal amount of music and music memorabilia. It has oodles of stuff to listen to for free as streaming audio but it also has an extensive collection of concerts that can be bought and downloaded.

Perhaps you are all ahead of me on this one but it was only relatively recently I realised that some of their downloads are free and at the top of the list is ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead. Now this was not a band I'd heard of but who can resist a name like that? :-) So I downloaded their concert and it has to be said that I'm impressed.

Their Wikipedia entry describes them as "Art rock, Indie rock, Noise rock" but to that I would add a hint of punk and a definite leaning to prog. If you don't know them, I would recommend you give them a go. If you do know them, can you recommend an album of theirs that I should get? I'd like to hear more.

P.S. Don't forget to download the British Sea Power concert while you are there. And are there any of the other free concerts you would recommend?

Monday, 15 June 2009

You hum it... I'll play it

A recent Twitter message from The Reasoning (@TheReasoning) inspired this message. They described a track they were listening to by phonetically transcribing the opening bars. I thought this would be a good game to play so here is their track followed by four of mine.
  1. Dun! Dun dun dun. Dun dun dun. Dun dun dahhhh!
  2. Duurn-durn-durn diddle-diddle diddle-diddle.
  3. Diddle da dah! Diddle da da dah! Diddile da dum. Diddle um-pum pum.
  4. Di-dah-din da-di di-dum. {Crowd-shout! Crowd-shout!}
  5. Tan tan ta. Tan tan tad-da. Tan tan ta tum-ti-tum.
The fourth one is obviously taken from the live album where the crowd chant the guitarists name in the pause between repetitions of the opening riff.

A musical no-prize is available to anyone who gets one. If no guesses are forthcoming, I'll reveal the band names to give you a bit of help. :-)

Update: It seems a hint or two is necessary.

2. I thought this was the easiest - shows how much I know! It's a riff from the chaps who pretty much defined Heavy Metal - Black Sabbath. So, the song is... ?

3. They are not exactly a one hit wonder but if I tell you the band name, it will be too easy. Here's a hint to song title - think of the last time Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman appeared together in a Channel 4 quiz show. Some people thought it would be...

Friday, 12 June 2009

Free Download Friday #14: British Sea Power

British Sea Power are a British (surprise, surprise!) rock band. They have been compared to The Cure and Joy Division but I don't think that's quite right. To me, those bands take themselves a bit too seriously whereas, when I think of British Sea Power the word whimsy comes to my mind - a peculiarly British type of humour that seems to come through their relatively downbeat style.

I first heard of them when someone I know posted the video of No Lucifer on his blog:

This is one of the tracks off their Do You Like Rock Music album and it probably gives a fair impression of the album. (I rated this track as four stars on my iPod and the whole album averages out at four stars.)

The free download that is the focus of this post is a remix of another track from this album that they have made available on their official site. The track is All In It... and although I like the original version better, the remix is pretty good too. They have a few more tracks that you can stream from their music page and at least one other that you can download - Come Wander With Me.

If you like what you hear, most of their currently released stuff can be found on eMusic. (Declaration of interest. If you sign up for eMusic as a result of following this link, I get some extra free downloads but I would highly recommend this site anyway as a great source of cheap, legal, music for download.)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Classic Rock Presents Prog - Poll Results

In Prog Rock Favourites I posted my top five Prog albums which I'd sent into Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine. At the time, I wasn't hopeful of my choices getting into the top five but I have been pleasantly surprised at how well all of them have done.

Guitar heroes
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
All five of my choices feature in the top 50, one of my choices is the number one choice and best of all (for me at least) they reprinted my comment about Dream Theater. Brilliant! (Although, I think I need to stop using the word "swagger"!)

I was tempted to give you details of where they all appeared in the list but that hardly seems fair to the magazine. However, I think it is reasonable to give some broad details about the albums/artists I chose.

My first choice was Rush and I was pleased to see four of their albums in the top fifty although disappointingly, none made it into the top twenty. (Their top placed entry was, perhaps not surprisingly, 2112.)

Genesis did well with five albums in total and three in the top ten. Interestingly (at least, interesting to me) the top three are all Gabriel era Genesis. I was surprised but happy to see my choice, Selling England By The Pound, placed above The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. :-)

Next I went for Pink Floyd and they also did well with four albums in the list and three in the top ten. As might have been expected, Dark Side Of The Moon was their highest placed work.

I then moved onto a couple of sprog rock bands and it was good to see newer bands featuring fairly strongly with Dream Theater and Porcupine tree managing two entries each and Dream Theater even scraping into the top twenty.

Other newer prog bands also feature showing that the best of prog is not necessarily in the past (although it is fair to say the old guard dominate the list). As with all lists like this, it is a product of its time. If they did the same exercise next week, they'd get a completely different set of albums. However, I find the top ten difficult to argue with and there are some albums listed that I am now inspired to track down.

Good fun and my name in print. What more could you ask for in a Best Of list? :-)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Free Download Friday #13: Tom Waits

Imagine you are a careers advisor and a teenage Tom Waits tells you he wants to be a singer. How do you advise him? Do you say, "That's interesting Tom. Have you considered a career in McDonalds?"

tom waits stencil
Originally uploaded by chhhh
Singing for a living doesn't seem to be an obvious choice for someone who sounds like he gargles with a cocktail of gravel and whiskey between cigarettes and yet he is an incredibly evocative vocalist. He is an artist who can make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with the raw beauty and emotional power of his voice. Today's Free Music Friday therefore features some free downloads from Mr Waits.

I came to these tracks by a slightly circuitous route that you may want to follow since there's good stuff that I passed on the way to Tom's downloads. It started when I was listening to a Talking Rock podcast (episode 4 to be precise). They were playing a bunch of tunes from the Podsafe Music Network and, on exploring that site, I found my way to the Epitaph Records.

Assuming you are still with me (and I suspect some at least will have been distracted by one of the sites mentioned so far) I hope you'll now spend some time on the Tom Wait's section of Epitaph's site because at the bottom of his page there are links to some of his albums and most of these albums have at least one mp3 track available for download. The one I'd like to feature here is Bottom Of The World from the Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards album. Have a listen to this track, download a few of the others too if you like, then re-think your careers advice to the young Tom Waits.

...And while you're at it, have a think about the number of great artists who wouldn't get past the audition stage of American Idol or Britain's Got Talent! Anyone want to start a list?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Things I'd forgotten I knew. (Number 1)

Sometimes I come across something on my iPod I've not listened to for a while and think, "I'd forgotten how good this is!" I assume I'm not alone. So much music, so little time - it's inevitable that some stuff gets lost or overlooked. So, this is the first in a (very) occasional series where I share something that I've re-discovered.

Slade - Dave Hill
Originally uploaded by

Today, I want to share my re-discovery of Slade. Of course, I was aware of Slade in the 1970s when they seemed to be a permanent fixture on Top of the Pops. My memories of them include top hats, platform shoes and Dave Hill's hair (what was he thinking?) and every year I greet Merry Xmas Everybody as an old friend, as it remains one of my favourite Christmas pop songs. They were a part of the whole Glam Rock scene, which my older sisters were more into, but they were past their peak of popularity by the time I started to develop my own musical tastes and so I never really listened to them as a music fan.

However, I saw them in concert at the Student Union when I was at university in the 1980s. I was hugely impressed. They were a rock band. A full on, in your face, rock band. Live, they were stunning - not what I expected at all. Yet, time passed and it seems I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed them until recently, when I stumbled across one of their greatest hits compilations and once again I thought, "These guys were a stunningly good rock band." I was even more impressed with the quality of the production on the singles. These were not disposable, 3 minute pop songs; these were carefully crafted and well put together pieces of music. Have a listen for yourself and see what you think.

I was further impressed by the range of stuff they did: from the foot-stomping brilliance of Cum On Feel The Noize to the mellow ballad style of How Does It Feel. And Noddy's vocals are unparalleled. I'm not sure why they never caught on in the USA but they seemed to have had an influence on some major bands there - for example, Gene Simmons is on record acknowledging Kiss' debt to Slade.

I hope to do more re-discovered treasures in the future but in the meantime, what do you think of Slade, and what forgotten gems have you discovered in your music collection?