The Somerville Effect

Two and a half years ago,, I wrote a post about the Scottish singer, Jimmy Somerville. It was one of the ‘Whatever happened to?’ posts, and attracted some views, as well as a few comments remembering Jimmy, and the groups he sung with, including The Communards.
https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/whatever-happened-to-jimmy-somerville/

That was that, and the post went into the archives, occasionally showing up as being viewed, but never receiving any further likes or comments.

Then for some reason, in the space of a few days, it began to be viewed again, a lot of times. By last Sunday, it had overtaken everything else, becoming the most-viewed post on my blog in one week, with close to 200 views, and still going. I have no idea why this interest in Jimmy suddenly resurfaced, and could not find anything in the news to suggest a comeback, or new recording.

But I would like to thank all of those searching about him. You have boosted my blog figures nicely, and revitalised a dormant post.
Please feel free to keep it up.

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Great Albums: It’s All About The Stragglers

This choice may surprise most of you. Despite being in a musical genre known as ‘2-Step Garage’, (no, I don’t know what that means either) this is one of my most played albums over the last eighteen years, and one of the favourites I return to time and time again. I apologise in advance to readers from outside the UK, who will probably never have heard of the performers, the genre, or anything involved with that very British sound back then.

When I heard a track played on the radio, I went into a branch of a big record shop chain in London, and asked about the CD. I was 48 at the time, in the year 2000. I am sure that the young man serving me must have thought I was buying it for a teenage child, but he was suitably respectful when I told him it was for me. Artful Dodger was not a group or band, in the usual sense. It was a duo made up of two white guys, DJ/Producers who developed a sound, then recruited session singers, backing vocalists, or unknown artists to sing the songs they wrote. This led to some of those singers, like the smooth and handsome Craig David, becoming household names in the UK.

The CD had fifteen tracks, but as is usual with modern albums, quite a few of those were extended remixes of the same songs. I preferred the ‘radio edits’ in most cases, and I was caught up in the CD from track one, playing the whole thing again immediately.
Think About Me.

The second track was the Craig David vocal that I had heard on the radio.
Re-Rewind.

This really captured the mood of the club scene back then. Something I knew nothing about aged 48 of course. 🙂

By track three, my feet were tapping uncontrollably.
Outrageous.

Track four was an irresistible smooth groove. I love this one!
Please Don’t Turn Me On.

By track five, I was introduced to Nicole singing this nice funky pop song.
24/7.

Romina Johnson took the vocals for track seven. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, this came along.
Movin’ Too Fast.

By track ten, I was already looking forward to hearing it all again, and Craig David was joined by Robbie Craig for this one. I was on my feet by now!
This was so infectious, I replayed it straight after.
Woman Trouble.

OK, you get the idea. A timeless album that still gets me in the groove at the age of 66. One of the first things I would take to a desert island, or rescue from a house fire. Eighteen years later, it keeps getting better for me, and though I appreciate that this sound is not for everyone, please give some of the tracks a chance.

And if you feel your feet moving, I told you so.

Lyrically Evocative (18)

Almost four years ago, I chose this song for inclusion in my series of ‘Significant Songs’. It was number 54, of a series that has now run to 201 posts. At the time, I suggested that the lyrics were worth examining, so it seems appropriate to include them here. Even though it was released as recently as 1991, the song had a big impact on me at the time, and the sentiments contained in it still resonate with me today.

This is an excerpt from my January 2015 post.

In 1991, Crowded House released their third record, the album ‘Woodface’. This was to be their breakthrough record in the UK, and contained five tracks which were released as singles, to much acclaim. As well as the mournful ‘Four Seasons In One day’, there was the great song ‘It’s Only Natural.’ It also contained this song, about devotion, and unrequited love. The lyrics are worth reading on their own, and together with the music, make up one of the most complete yet unusual love songs ever written.

Here are the lyrics.

Fall at Your Feet
Crowded House

I’m really close tonight
And I feel like I’m moving inside her
Lying in the dark
An’ I think that I’m beginning to know her
Let it go
I’ll be there when you call
And whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain
You’re hiding from me now
There’s something in the way that you’re talking
Words don’t sound right
But I hear them all moving inside you
Go, I’ll be waiting when you call
And whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain
The finger of blame has turned upon itself
And I’m more than willing to offer myself
Do you want my presence or need my help
Who knows where that might lead
I fall
Whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I fall
Whenever I fall

Songwriters: Neil Mullane Finn
Fall at Your Feet lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

And here is the band, singing them.

Lyrically Evocative (17)

I have had a mixed history where Elton John is concerned. Ever since I first heard ‘Border Song’, and bought the first album he released, I have had to put him in the category of ‘Good to listen to, not so good to watch’. I freely admit that I don’t like to look at him when he is performing. I am not saying that all performers have to be good looking, just that there is something about Elton that I don’t like. Sorry Elton, and sorry to anyone who does like to look at him.

But he is a great singer and musician, and his long-term collaborator Bernie Taupin came up with some amazing lyrics. Between them, they have released some of the most wonderful and iconic pop songs in history, that’s undeniable. For me, one of the most enduring is the ballad, ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’. No matter how many times I hear the song, and irrespective of who is actually singing it, it gets me every time. In a few short verses, Taupin got across the essence of a failed relationship, and Elton’s music and vocals expressed those words just perfectly.

Here are the lyrics.

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there?
What have I got to do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it’s all over?
And sorry seems to be the hardest word
It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word
It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad (so sad)
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word
What have I do to make you love me, oh
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do?
What have I got to do?
When sorry seems to be the hardest word

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

And here is the talented Reginald Kenneth Dwight, singing them.

Significant Songs (201)

Roxanne

In the late 1970s, I lived in Wimbledon, in south-west London. (The place where they have the Tennis tournament every year.)
I used to frequent a record shop locally, and buy new singles and albums. The owner got to know me well, and would always suggest a new release that he thought I might like. One day, he played me a new single from a band called The Police. I didn’t know much about them, and neither did he. But I agreed that it was my type of song. Something different, with powerful lead vocals, and a great beat. So I told him to include it in the bag of records I had already bought.

The following week, I bought a best-selling music newspaper, the New Musical Express. There was no Internet then of course, and other than radio and TV chart shows, such journals were the only way to read the background to what was happening in the music business. I was surprised to discover that The Police was fronted by an Englishman, Gordon Sumner, who liked to go by the irritatingly pretentious name of Sting. I had thought they must be American, from their sound. The drummer was an American, but the lead guitarist was English too.

The single didn’t appear in the charts until the following year, 1979, when it was released in America, then re-released in the UK. It made it into the top twenty, and the band were frequently seen on TV, and played on the radio. I was suitably smug, having owned the record long before it became popular.
As for The Police, the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

It’s still a great record though.

Jamiroquai: My ‘Five A Day’

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about the British band, Jamiroquai. This was it.
https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/whatever-happened-to-jamiroquai/

Regular readers will remember that it became something of a beetleypete blogging phenomenon, attracting the most views ever on my blog, and continuing to do so for months on end. I continued the theme with no less than eleven more posts about the effect it had on my blog, and how it continued to attract so many views even after the band reformed, and released a new album.

After writing so much about it, and becoming aware that it was boring the pants off many of my most loyal followers, I called a halt to those posts, and gave the band a well-deserved rest from this blog. But a recent skim through my stats revealed that the original post remains a stalwart on my blog. Ever since I posted it, it has been viewed continuously, for over two years now.

This past month, it has been viewed at least five times every day, seven days a week. Even on the rare days when I post nothing at all, you can bet it will still get those five views, or more.

Sometimes, the experience of blogging can throw up something surprising. And this is one of those.

Significant Songs (200)

Why Do Fools Fall In Love.

I have reached the 200th song in this series, so I am going all the way back to when I was just four years old. Of course, I was too young to even know about the song then, let alone appreciate it. But my older cousins, aunts, uncles, and family friends all loved it, and carried on playing it for years.

Once I was old enough to enjoy family gatherings and weekend parties, I soon became accustomed to hearing this old favourite played many times; watching my relatives dancing around, singing along, and doo-wopping to the music. To say that this is an infectious song would be an understatement, as it is well-nigh impossible to resist the youthful exuberance bursting from the vocals and backing. And I still love it as much today, sixty-two years after it was released. Not long after my fourth birthday.

Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers formed in New York City. When they had a huge hit with this song, lead vocalist Frankie was just fourteen years old. The following year, Frankie split from the group and became a solo artist. Like many before and since, his decision to embark on that solo career proved to be a big mistake, and further success eluded him. He turned to drugs, and started to use heroin. He died of a drug overdose in 1968, aged just twenty-five.

But his song lives on. It is still popular on film soundtracks, and even gets played on the radio.