Earworms – December 5

Ooh, put it away, Kate!

“Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?”
Michael Torke

The Clovers – Blue Velvet
Most people know this song by Bobby Vinton, which was a hit in 1961 and again in the 80s when the film of that name came out. The Clovers were one of the top vocal groups of the 50s, often recording comedy (“Love Potion Number 9″) and upbeat songs. However, on this they sounded more like either The Orioles (a top 40s group) or even The Ink Spots. This was the original recording of the song.
RockingMitch

The 6ths featuring Katherine Whalen – You You You You
I got this song from one of the Oxford American Music Samplers (hat tip TreeFrogDemon). (Katherine Whalen of the Squirrel Nut Zippers). This is so earwormy!
SpottedRichard

Icehouse – Crazy
I really, really loved this song when it was released, and I still think it’s ace. I used to feel very sorry for the character. Icehouse were an Australian rock band who veered towards pop (or, at least, they did on the album that this track comes from). Please ignore the fake radio bit at the beginning; I nabbed this from Youtube, and that nonsense was part of the official video.
Zalamanda

Anna Calvi – Blackout
Forget the unfavourable comparisons with PJ Harvey, simply because it’s a forceful woman with a guitar; this is less angsty and more operatic, from a pretty impressive debut album, and the world is certainly big enough for the two of them.
Abahachi

Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger
With their “Sweet Dreams” album, Annie and Dave proved that you could make distinctive, characterful, powerful music with synthesizers – and music that wouldn’t have worked on guitars. Nearly 30 years on, it still sounds fresh to me.
bishbosh

Rowetta – And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going
Rowetta was a backing singer for The Happy Mondays. Then she was a losing contestant on the first series of the X-Factor. She released one album. It may well have sold one copy. If so, I’ve got it. This song from the musical Dream Girls could have been written for her. Bigger and better and utterly bonkers. Rowetta sends me.
Severin


Please send submissions to earworm@tincanland.com – thanks! OK, so I keep dithering over what is happening with Earworms over the festive period. But after consultation with Shoey, the upshot is: Normal Earworms set on 12 December, Xmas Earworms set on 17 December (Saturday), no Earworms on 19 December (to make way for Festive Spill tunes), Normal Earworms service resumed on Boxing Day. (And while I’m here, I’m very aware that a couple of contributors at least have had to wait an awfully long time for recent submissions to appear – apologies for that! They will feature in the next week or two, I promise! Thanks for your patience. It’s only cos everyone’s been so good at sending stuff in recently!)

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38 thoughts on “Earworms – December 5

  1. That Rowetta reminded me of good Donna Summer (in a week when all but the Eurythmics – you’re right bish, the synths should date Sweet Dreams but don’t. – sound like they are trying to be someone else). It made my Earworm week severin; perfect way to shake the weekend cobwebs.

    re Blue Velvet: Mitch are you sure this is the original? I thought Tony Bennet did it first.

    • I think Tony Bennett and The Clovers recorded it at about the same time. Often, white run labels (in Tony’s case, Columbia) would look at what the R&B labels (in the Clovers’ case, Atlantic) were putting out and rush out a cover. I think you’ll find the Clovers got there first with the recording, if not the actual release.
      Just noticed, I’ve been signed out. This is Mitch

      • Tinny. I humbly and sincerely apologise. I’ve just looked in one of my (many) books on the whole 1950s vocal group scene and it confirms what you said, namely Tony Bennett did the song first in 51 and The Clovers in 54.
        As a pennance for my error, I will read the Daily Mail for a week.

  2. A goodly set this week.
    I won’t comment on my choice – I’ll leave that to others.

    Katherine Whalen. As you say, very earwormy! Liked it.

    Icehouse. Maybe I’m weird, but I liked the radio bit at the start and, indeed, the whole thing.

    Anna Calvi. The only Calvi I had heard of was Roberto, the Italian banker who was found in dubious circumstances under Blackfriars Bridge. That aside, this is nice.

    Eurythmics – I’m always a sucker for Annie Lennox, from her days in the Tourists to present. Great track.

    Rowetta – This reminded me of the stuff Tina Turner was putting out in the 80s. Very well done, but not the sort of thing I go for in a big way.

    • We don’t know what the f**k we’re doing – we get it all from the papers.
      But thanks for thinking we are still relevant – tea anyone?

      • austerity isn’t it? – no need for our own devices (isn’t everyone on the news international payroll?) – no sugar – no rich tea biscuits either.

        White no sugar – you’re in luck –
        Are you related to the fellow here called Bosh? Good man – supplied his own boots for ‘Interrogation’ Purposes.

      • News International???? As a loyal member of Socialist Worker (the paper that doesn’t hack phones) I take that as an insult :-)

      • by everybody – I do mean the puppets used to front running the country – no offence intended to those with brains….

        as you were comrade.

  3. Oh what the hell, I’m commenting now! Really like the Clovers’ version of “Blue Velvet” – sounds sweeter/less creepy to me than Bobby Vinton. But that may be David Lynch’s fault!

    Unless I’m much mistaken, I sense the presence of The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt in The 6ths. Like this a lot – slightly reminiscent sonically of my fave Fields track, “All My Little Words”:

    I think Icehouse suffers somewhat from its 80s-isms – that “Don’t You Forget About Me”-style production (I’m sure Chris will have more to say on this!) – but good, solid songwriting. I remember it from the time too – and remember rather liking it/willing it to be a hit. (Was it? I suspect not.)

    Anna Calvi reminded me of someone – Siouxsie maybe? I’m not sure. Like the song a lot, though the production sounds a bit murky to me. But that may be down to mp3 quality! Ironically, perhaps I wanted more of an 80s sheen to this one!

    I loved Rowetta on the X Factor. Bonkers – and she had a great, slightly weird rapport going on with la Cowell. Unfortunately, with her thick Manc accent, she bore a slight resemblance to Bo Selecta’s version of Scary Spice:

    That aside, great version of this song. I think I still prefer Jennifer Holliday’s less hi-NRG take on it, but Rowetta sure has a set of pipes on her…

    Goodness, what a lot of youtube clips.

  4. Blue Velvet – a lovely song that will nevertheless always remind me of severed ears.

    The 6ths – loved this, and like bishbosh my immediate thought was that it was an outtake from 69 Love Songs. A quick Google reveals that it is indeed one of Stephin Merritt’s bands. From the wikipedia page:

    One story has it that the band was conceived when Merritt, observing that there was no tribute album dedicated to him, decided to make one himself. The concept is that Merritt writes and plays songs which are then sung by other artists, different ones on each track. It has so far produced two well-received albums and many different collaborations.

    The list of singers on Wasps’ Nests includes many notable mid-90s indie-rockers, including Barbara Manning, Mary Timony, Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta), Lou Barlow, Chris Knox (Tall Dwarfs), Robert Scott (The Bats, The Clean), and Mark Robinson.

    Some of the more notable artists appearing on Hyacinths and Thistles are Bob Mould, Sally Timms (The Mekons), Sarah Cracknell (Saint Etienne), Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), Gary Numan, Marc Almond, Momus, Clare Grogan (Altered Images), Melanie, Miss Lily Banquette (Combustible Edison), Katharine Whalen (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and the accomplished toy piano player Margaret Leng Tan. The album also features an improbable duet of singer Odetta accompanied by Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler on accordion.

    Icehouse eightiesed me out I’m afraid.

    Anna Calvi – I really like what I’ve heard, this track in particular. She reminds me of someone too – not Siouxsie. It’s bugging me.

    Eurythmics – yes, fair enough, this is 80s production that works. I’ve never listened to them much – I was always a bit put off by Annie Lennox winning Best Female Artist at the Brits every year, even when she didn’t appear to have done anything – maybe I should.

    Rowetta has quite a voice, but I think I prefer it when Shaun Ryder’s slurring in the foreground.

  5. Evening all.

    Before I even start to listen, I’ll declare my hand. I bought Icehouse’s Love In Motion LP on release as a result of both Crazy and Hey Little Girl being proto-earworms that had instantly burrowed their way into my brain. It’s a very good – if yes, I do admit, now a little dated – album. Great Southern Land and, um, another one, are excellent.

    Good choice Amanda; ages since I heard/played it.

  6. Lovely selection of earworms. I don’t mind who did Blue Velvet first, I love this version, it’s not something I would normally seek out, but enjoyed it very much.
    The second one is very earwormy, I agree and I don’t know if I’ve heard the Icehouse song before, but we’ve been watching old John Cusack films (The Sure Thing and Say Anything) and it fitted brilliantly with those.

    I was quite excited about Anna Calvi, after Siouxsie comparisons, so I was disappointed when I first heard her, but this is better than I remember.
    I do like that Eurythmics song too :-)

    It’s Bethnoir in case it has logged me out again.

  7. Not really my cup of cha this week, but I liked the Anna Calvi. I’m still not entirely won over by her though, maybe I need to hear more….

  8. The Clovers – fine.
    Loved the Katherine Whelan, very much up my alley.
    The rest …a bit “blah” for me. I don’t like much 80s style product too “cold” and impersonal for my tastes.

  9. The Clovers – Blue Velvet

    I only knew the Bobby Vinton version of this song from the rather strange film. But this is actually quite different. The arrangement is much fuller with the saxophones and the vocal harmonies. It makes the Bobby Vinton version sound very thin actually. (I just listened to BV again to check) This has a completely different feel. BV is almost a little perky(?) and unsophisticated compared to this version. I definitely prefer this version of the song. It is warmer and deeper, it is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold evening ! ! ! Lovely ! ! !

    The 6ths featuring Katherine Whalen – You You You You

    I liked this. It has a really nice naïve feel to the lyrics and production. It reminded me of a girl playing a self-written love song in her bedroom in some ways. I really liked it very much indeed. I like her voice very much.

    Icehouse – Crazy

    I actually liked the fake radio station part at the beginning of this song. The vocal delivery of the song is absolutely 100 per cent 1980 decade. You can really hear all those bands like Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode in here also. I liked the singing on this track a lot. It is hard to make the dramatic style that was popular at the time sound convincing and they did this very well indeed, I liked it a lot actually even though the era and genre is not my favourite period for western pop music .

    Anna Calvi – Blackout

    I know this song and I have the album. I think she is a talented singer, and this is from a good debut album, but she is really over publicized and maybe this is why she is critic so much. I downloaded the album without hearing it first because I had read so much about her and some of the reviews were amazing, I thought I would get an album from the love child of Elvis and YUI or something. But of course there was no way she could live up to that publicity and so I did feel a bit disappointed, but the album has grown on me and if you forget publicity it is actually a nice album. This song is really influenced by the 1980 decade and it has the same dramatic vocal style, and the arrangement and production is very influenced by that decade. It fits into the playlist very well.

    Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger

    This was a huge hit all over the world and of course here in Japan also. It is a little while since I heard it and it nice to hear it again. I think this is one of those songs where just everything is right and matches together perfectly. Well except of course the gross male voice grunting in it …..urghhhh ! ! ! ! ! …it make me feel sick when I hear that bit ! ! ! But it is a really great song. I like it very much indeed.

    Rowetta – And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going

    This was a really great track. It felt so happy and positive and I loved the really carefree beat and funky backing and brass section. It really made me want to dance! ! ! She has a great voice and this song really suits voice very well indeed. I liked this track very much indeed.

    Bish ! ! !

    This is a great selection and you made a really nice play list again ! ! ! Thank you for you hard work in doing Earworms for us ! ! !

    • Ha ha, I actually quite like those ‘uhhs’. I think they match the rather sinister (and brilliant) metaphor: “Love is a stranger in an open car to tempt you in and drive you far away…” Who is he? Where is he going to take me? And why is he making those weird noises?! x

      • Bish ! ! !

        “I think they match the rather sinister (and brilliant) metaphor: “Love is a stranger in an open car to tempt you in and drive you far away…” ”

        Maybe that is why I do not like them ! ! ! ; -)

        It is a great playlist ! ! !

  10. I’ve started my new job this week, shorter commute than before so I’ve had a walk around Leeds this lunchtime to listen. Health and Fitness through Earworms ! They’re all marvellous this week, Rowetta is a lot of fun, The Clovers are everything one could want from a doo-wop group, Katherine Whalen sings beautifully, Anne Calvi splendidly dramatic, Icehouse very good in what’s not usually my cup-of-genre. It was great to listen to Love Is A Stranger again. The LP came out when I was in my early twenties, and I don’t think at the time I was grown-up enough for those lyrics. I’ve stumbled in some debris since then. Fabulous.

      • Sorry for any misunderstanding Tinny, my phone is only just smart enough for commenting here with extreme patience, and no hope of listening online while wandering about. Now I’m back in full-time work, I don’t have much spare time to be online, and I don’t want to spend the entire evening with headphones on ignoring MummyP. So I have a folder for Earworms on my MP3 player and download the week’s tunes into that, and replace them each week. I’ve just realised that I could rename / number them after downloading, so they play in Bish’s intended running order.

  11. A nice set, a lot of variation and overall pretty good stuff. I will leave Anna Calvi aside because her album has been one of the things I have enjoyed most in 2011.

    I didn’t know the Icehouse track before but it was great stuff, classic 80s big hair rock music and loads of the kind of guitar and keyboards that just screams out “pastel jacket wit the sleeves pushed up”.

    The Eurythmics track is a classic.

    Of the rest, loved Blue Velvet, a wonderful song anyway, and I liked the disco belter from Rowetta. I could see that going down a storm at G.A.Y or some similar kind of club.

    Which leaves the 6ths. Sorry, it didn’t work for me.

  12. Loved Blue Velvet, Mitch – but then, I’ve always been a sucker for 40s/50s vocal groups. Can’t get enough of the Chords, the Orioles, The Cardinals, The Moonglows etc. etc. etc….

    • Yeah. Me too. The Ravens with lead singer Jimmy Ricks (who later did some really good solo stuff) are also worth checking out.

      • I think I have some stuff by The Ravens but most of my doo-wop/vocal group stuff is on vinyl up in my attic – one day, I’ll sort it all out…

  13. The Clovers‘ version of “Blue Velvet” is lovely. Like many, I only knew the Bobby Vinton version – in my case, off the back of the film. This is deliciously different to that.

    “You you you you” was great! Right up one of my streets (the sensitive-indie one). It reminded me everso slightly of Taken by Trees, who are a little bit obscure, except kind of smoother.

    Icehouse was my choice, and I don’t think there’s much more to say about it than has already been said.

    Anna Calvi is my joint favourite with The 6ths & Katherine Whalen. I can’t see any reason to compare her with PJ Harvey, but I do, along with a few other ‘Spillers, have a nagging feeling that I have heard something similar in the past. Not Siousxie. Not sure who. Too much attention can be bad … which kind of leads into the next act.

    Oh, The Eurythmics. One of my first musical obsessions. Annie and Dave made some truly extraordinary music together. Unfortunately, they almost did it too well, because their ubiquity killed alot of the respect that they deserved – and possibly encouraged a bit of coasting later on. Like Bish says, that Brits thing was downright daft.

    Rowetta‘s track is perhaps my least favourite. She’s got a belter of a voice, but I’m not so keen on the electronic backing. It’s just a bit too… well, too dance, really, which is not really my kind of thing. I’m getting hints of M-People (whom I do like) with extra beeps. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood.

  14. The Clovers‘ version of Blue Velvet I liked very much, even though Bobby Vinton’s version is perhaps the definitive. (Anything has to be better than Isabella Rosellini singing it, though!)

    Bish and Barbryn – very smart people – outing the Stephin Merritt I Love Me interface there for the 6ths and Katherine Whalen’s You You You You.

    Icehouse was good. I remembered it from the time and liked it then.

    Anna Calvi was nice. I don’t see any reason to make comparisons, favourable or otherwise.

    The Eurythmics.The song stands on its own merits. Although – one thing that can be said that is detrimental about the Eurythmics is that they are so recognizable as The Eurythmics that they can immediately be pigeonholed as 80s which counters the timelessness.

    Rowetta has a great voice, but it’s too commercial for me. Not much nuance, not much soul, or at least that’s what I though.

    Great job as usual, bishbosh. Loved the theme.

  15. As chance would have it, I was just playing the new TV on the Radio album in the car and when I got to work spotted a link in the Grauniad to a live cover of a TV on the Radio track by Anna Calvi:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/dec/01/anna-calvi-wolf-like-me?CMP=EMCMUSEML1647%%__AdditionalEmailAttribute1%%

    I’d never heard anything by her so I played it and found it more than intriguing. She certainly makes this version her own. The guitar work reminded me of Adrian Belew. Next thing I know, here she is on Earworms.

    Here’s the original:

    Another coincidence is that I received a copy of Oxford American Music Samplers No. 5. It was the first time I’d heard of this particular annual comp and imediately took to it. And next thing I know, it features on Earworms.

    I really enjoyed both Anna Calvi and “You, You, You”. Icehouse, I can take or leave, as with much of eighties pop. The Eurythmics were different, but their stuff is so established, like Blue Velvet, I find myself tuning out ‘cos I know them so well.

    The Rowetta song rings a bell (Dreamgirls – got it!). I always had a soft spot for Millie Jackson and Donna Summer, so I can more or less go for this, although she does get a bit “shouty” at the end. Needs a little more colouring to her vocals. That could be the ‘X Factor’ – always get a bit shouty at the end of whatever you’re singing.

    Prefer the Jennifer Holliday version above.

  16. Good lord, a significant number of people actually liked my Anna Calvi suggestion; clearly I’m doing something wrong. Must post more free jazz…

    • I readily admit to not getting free jazz, Abahachi. Glad to hear some more accompanied by some help getting it, but so far it remains a case of getting what you pay for.with free jazz.

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