The Eurythmics

The Eurythmics were a shock to the pop system. Annie Lennox wielded a stunning strong forceful voice and the songs were equally powerful, even without the amazing videos. The music progressed from synth to more guitar – it was never cast in the typical top 40 sound – such as Madonna. Annie could actually sing for one thing 🙂 But it was adult in sound & in lyric content. The lyrics beam more challenging as the band progressed.

Over two mp3 collections I have Sweet Dreams, Touch, 1984, Be Yourself Tonight, revenge, Savage. Too many hits to name drop. I loved Sweet Dreams with its commanding vocal – she wasn’t longing for but demanding what sweet dreams should be made of. Missionary Man is another of my favourites with the slithering insinuation guitar work. She Likes To Listen was amazing to dance to & the political was delivered with force without being strident. The band as always musical, growing & dealt with emotionally complex relationships issues.

I did listen to some of their solo work but it didn’t really move me as deeply as their work together. Good solid stuff mind you but it didn’t seem to aha the force or edge that propelled the duo work.

To round out the cd’s I added some historical context with a couple of lps by Cilla Black: In the 60’s, Sings a Rainbow- pure delight pop. There is an excellent bio series about Cilla that is worth checking out. Anyone Who Had A Heart is still stunning. A couple of tracks from Julie Driscoll’s Open – a late sixtes singer who was a groundbreaker. Dusty Springfield: In Memphis Deluxe Edition – yet another of those 60’s icons & this is an amazing packing of her most famous sessions – never a powerhouse singer she was an incredible singer but one lost in the rush for commercial success.

Some of Kathi McDonald’s Insane Asylum – a great Canadian singer who didn’t break out of that background singer trap – this as an astounding recording though. Where would Annie be without Nancy Sinatra: These Boots – one doesn’t think of Nancy as an innovator but she was smart enough to work with great song writers & fearlessly embraced then step away from that bubble gum image. A real innovator is Kate Bush: Hounds of Love – is yet another of her sonically amazing recordings – yearning, feminine & adult stuff – a woman who didn’t let the music world dominate what she chose to do with her career. I round things out with Bananarama: Twelve Inches Of, the antithesis of Eurythmics – Bananarama excelled in fun disposable music that made no demands other than shake your booty.

Beneath The Ice

‘When did it start?’

Mike shifted in the chair. The firm back held him, kept him from shifting out of the room, from seeping though the floor.

‘Surely you must remember?’

‘Half-remember.’

‘Good. that’s a good start.’

Mike knew that he’d have to watch his words. He didn’t want to be put though what he had been put through at that half -remembered time.

‘It was winter. Cold. Coldest that even my dad remembered. He said there wasn’t a degree on the on thermometer for how cold it got. Anyway. We were playing in the back of someone’s house. A creek ran through the far edge of the field. It isn’t there now though. Houses, rows and rows of houses.

‘Me and my bother Mark were pushing each other around on the sled. Fighting half the time time like we always did. Like kids do. I know now but then I didn’t. Sometime times I hated him so much.

‘There were some other boys there too. Jeff, Kyle kids from up the street. We’d get together and go to this field.’

‘The one that isn’t there now?’

‘Yes that one. This time we started a snow ball fight. Fun. Supposed to be fun. I never liked that kind of competition. Made me scared, you know, but couldn’t back out with my big brother there.

‘We chased them along the bank of the creek. It was near froze over but there were some places where the water lapped though. I lost my footing. I think. Anyway I found myself flat on my back on the creek. Everyone was yelling and some where laughing. I tried to move but I couldn’t. Found out later that I had broken my collar bone. I couldn’t get up.

‘I put pressure on my other arm and the ice gave way and I slipped between these two clumps of ice into the creek water. It wasn’t very deep but I knew I was going to die. The ice danced over my eyes. Light fractured, scintillated -’

‘Scintillated? That’s a big word for a kid.’

‘That’s memory talk. I see it now that dull sparkle of cold water on my eyes. I couldn’t breath, couldn’t move and because the creek was so shallow I couldn’t sink that far either.’

‘And that was the first time?’

‘Sort of. Not right at that moment but when I came to. Three days later. At the hospital all wrapped warm and my neck in this brace because of my collar bone. The nurse mussed my hair. As she did I saw her slip in the hall.

As she left the room I said. ‘Watch out for that wet spot.’

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Carless Grace Jones

This mp3 collection ranges from the forties to the eighties starting with Dorothy Carless. This is how I sometimes find music: I wanted a version of Whispering Grass – one of the Ink Spots big hits – by someone else. I did a search & it popped on up a best of collection of Carless’s work. A Big Band singer with a pleasant voice she’s easy listening.

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More best of with a Dusty Springfield set: an amazing voice. These are all from her British days & there are sweet covers of things like Tupleo Honey as well as the hits. Another British, yet American, is Ketty Lester who had a Brit hit with Love Letters: I heard this in a documentary about the Beatles Fan Club & was happy to find a sizeable hits collection by Ketty – lots of covers & sweetly moody.backcouch02

Boys Town Gang: a Tumblr post of a video for their song Cruisin’ the Streets brought this collection to me – an early disco song about queer cruising – the music is slick faceless fun you can dance to – like queer sex 🙂backcouch03

Gloria Lynne – another one I found in my look for Whispering Grass – & a fine version it is – a mid 60’s soul singer working with a string orchestra. Not at all like Yvonne Fair: The Bitch is Back – another Tumblr find, the cover was posted on an LP blog; the title was enough for me & I found another lost treasure – sharp social sexual commentary with a funky disco-soul setting. woodchair

The Bobbettes: this is a massive set of 50+ track by this girl group from the late 50’s early 60’s – they start do wop & shift to a more r’n’b sound. Have Mercy Baby was their biggest hit. They clearly paved the way for the Supremes. The cd ends with Grace Jones: Warm Leatherette – one of the classic German disco (or is it disco) recordings. She is in peak form here. I love the music arc this cd takes from 40’s to 80’s as it covers so many styles and eras, from the obscure to the less obscure.

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grandmother

grandmother my mother her mother my father his mother

a trickle of memory but none too too strong

never knew my dad’s parents they had died when he was a child. I don’t even know how.

Met my mother’s mother – grandmother – several times. A little woman who lived to nearly 90 in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil. I once saw Merthyr on the Antiques Road show but what they showed of the town & surroundings didn’t bring back any memories of the place or my Gran.

She lived in a house with my Aunt Nelly who for some reason I called Aunt Neddles.

My mom & I visited two summers for a month while I was a boy about 10 or 11. She came from a big family. I had over 10 aunts and uncles to meet. One Aunt lived up the street and others were scattered around Britain. One Aunt in London we stayed with for a week.

My Gran lived in a row house – the end house – grey/brown stucco. She had a big garden, roses in front and vegetables in the back.

I remember tea time the clearest – bacon & tomato sandwiches thick with gooey mayonnaise. Crumbly little cookies, orange squash, lace curtains in a dark dining room.

Grandfather – my mother’s father – someone I never met who died of his hard life. A coal miner and heavy drinker – that’s all I know of him. Don’t even know his name – nor my grandmother’s for that matter – strangers that I have very vague images of – his from a photo – baggy work pants, shirt, suspenders, cloth cap, toothless smile. The light not quite on his face. Or perhaps the darkness of memory.

My Gran smiling, small round body, comfy floral print dress and bib apron. She’s wiping her hands on the apron with that ‘don’t take my picture wearing this’ look. She’s at the front gate, or maybe the back. There’s vines behind her and a sliver of the cobblestone street in the fore front of the picture.

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