Earworms – October 24

“I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality.”
H.A. Overstreet

Elbow – Great Expectations
This week, I have mostly been listening to… Elbow. In fact, you can call me obsessive if you wish, but I don’t think I’ve listened to anything but Elbow during the entire month of October! This little ditty, taken from the 2005 Leaders Of The Free World album, stood out like a sparkling diamond in a sea of very sparkly things. It also contains the immortal words ‘The Stockport supporters club kindly supplied us a choir’, so how could it possibly be anything but a gem?

Iona – Chi-Rho
Mr Munday reminded me about a band called Iona – they’re a Christian/Celtic band, but don’t let that put you off. Joanne Hogg, the lead singer, has a superb voice and the rest of the band aren’t bad either. Chi-Rho is a Christogram made up from the first two letters of Christ’s name, in ancient Greek (Chi and Rho). Still with me? Well, Wikipedia has a lot to answer for. Anyway, even if, like me, you’re not religious, you have to admire the ability of the band and the uplifting-ness of the song. No, you do, really.
Ali Munday

Fitkin/Wall – Snow Clamp
I was lucky to spend the heatwave in Cornwall. On a cliff walk at Logan’s Rock I came across a little cafe selling CDs from minimalist composer Graham Fitkin. I believe in serendipity, so – never having heard of him before – I bought one. Here’s a sample, which is quite earwormy when it gets going at 1:15.

Visage – Fade to Grey
The ‘Toy’ theme sent me back to Visage, and any excuse will do to revisit Fade to Grey, one of the great singles of an era that was marked by great singles, the early 1980s. Driving electro beat, mysterious French muttering – what’s not to like?

Camille Bazbaz – Hors de Prix Titles
This comes from the closing credits for the film “Hors de Prix”. I don’t really know why it makes me smile so much (maybe it’s Audrey Tautou on the back of a motor scooter) but I find this irresistible. Perfect for morning coffee or a sunlight afternoon tea.

Pyotr Leschenko – Miranda
I only bought a CD by Pyotr Leschenko “the King of Russian tango – June 1898 to July 1954” because Amazon said he did a version of Gloomy Sunday and I must have every possible version of that song. Sparing you this delight – and it is a delight to me – may I offer “Miranda” which is about, well, I expect it’s about Miranda. It might take two or three listens but you’ll like this. No, you will. I tried it, I liked it.

Please send submissions to earworm@tincanland.com – thanks!

36 thoughts on “Earworms – October 24

  1. I love Miranda ( don’t tell the wife !) and Fitkin is interesting (but makes me think of 1970s kid’s Puppet show The Pipkins staring some spectacularly manky puppets) .
    The others don’t really do much for me, pleasant enough but too musical and lacking that soupcon of insanity that I cherish.

  2. Just had time for a quick listen before popping out to Edinburgh Zoo. Loved the Fitkin/Wall track – I’ll be whistling it as I walk around the grounds today. Thanks ghe.

  3. I’m hoping to listen tomorrow, but for now, here’s the famous Chi-Rho page from The Book Of Kells, to contemplate during Ali’s contribution:

  4. Early to the Earworms for once!

    Fade to Grey was much better than I remembered and the real treat here was Fitkin/Wall.

    Thanks all!

  5. An interesting set.
    Elbow – Technically, very good musicianship, but didn’t press any of my buttons, I’m afraid. Nice, though.
    Iona – Beautiful voice. I too am not religious, but can appreciate many religious/gospel songs. Good one.
    Fitkin/Wall – Nice sound.
    Visage – Not my cuppa.
    Camille Bazbaz – I really liked this – my pick of the week.
    Pyotr Leschenko – Sounds like the soundtrack to one of those movies about the seedy side of Berlin in the 20s/30s, pre nazi era. Hypnotic and my 2nd pick of the week.

    Cheers Mr. Bish!

  6. Much as I love it, I have to say that Visage sticks out like a day-glo electronic tarantula on a piece of authentic hand-knitted carrot cake with a ‘proper music with real instruments’ label. Very much enjoyed the Leschenko.

    • Soz about that, Aba. I tries to match ’em up as best I can but sometimes I have to just go with what I’ve got in the pot! I can see that Visage might stick out like a bit of a sore thumb in this list but I think it’s a mighty enough tune to stand out in a good way!

      • Not a problem as far as I’m concerned – to be honest, it’s the only one of these that’s really my cup of tea – but that tends to suggest that it will come as a bit of an unwelcome change of tone for others. No criticism intended – I can’t imagine how you find time to put these things together so carefully. How are your reserve stocks at the moment?

      • We always welcome more submissions, Abahachi, always welcome more…

        For what it’s worth, I love “Fade To Grey”. I’ve always found it dead exciting: like a Cold War espionage movie or something. All exotic and paranoid and enigmatic. I can see how some might consider it a bit daft, but I love the imagination and ambition that clearly went into creating it. As another great popstar of the era said, “Ridicule is nothing to be scared of…”

        And in its own way, I think it’s just as atmospheric and evocative as, eg, the Camille Bazbaz, which I love too. But then, I tend to come to love all the earworms. They are like little babies that I midwife into the Spillworld…

  7. Elbow: that’ll be another yearning, over-emotional ballad with plenty of strings and suspended fourths then… oh, no it isn’t. It’s rather lovely and forces my jury to go back for more deliberation.
    Iona: pleasant, until the sax solo, when it upgrades to pretty damn good.
    Fitkin/Wall: Lovely, and I’m so, so glad the percussion stayed fractured rather than take the obvious beat. The dissonant chords underneath are great! (My brother was on a cliff-walking holiday in Cornwall during the heatwave, too, ghe. Co-incidence? Probably.)
    Visage: it’s just too tempting to add to Aba’s list of things wrong with this….. But it’s the appalling pretension that’s the real biggie, for me. That’s probably my objection to the eighties as a whole, though.
    Camille Bazbaz: a very nice groove (although one wearing beige slacks). I’m not sure it amounts to much without a film (or lyrics) over it.
    Pyotr Leschenko: definitely in grainy monochrome, as Mitch implied, with Marlene hanging around somewhere, presumably playing ‘Miranda’. Good but not my cup of black-market schnapps.

    Fitkin/Wall and Elbow for me. Thanks, people.

  8. I thought Fade To Grey fitted in ok. It had the “mysterious French muttering” of which you speak and it was sufficiently far away from the world of corporate rawk to take its place with the home woven yogurt that the rest of us posted.

    Loved the minimalist Fitkin piece. I’m a sucker for Philip Glass too.

    You know, I was convinced during the intro that Elbow were going to start singing “Scarborough Fair”. Halfway through I still wasn’t totally convinced that they wouldn’t. It is a beautiful piece of music in its own right I concede.

    The Bazbar was hugely enjoyable. I kept trying to place which TV theme it put me in mind of. I detected elements of Mission Impossible and The Avengers. Very nice. Probably even better if you’re watching Audrey Tautou on a Vespa at the time.

    Iona – I have to kind of edit out the ideology to appreciate a song like this. I do love the instrumentation and the voice though.

    Once again I am astonished that my suggestion found a place in a themed list and fitted there.

    Incidentally if anyone does want to hear his version of Gloomy Sunday, it’s on youtube.

    • I’ve only ever heard versions by The Associates and Marianne Faithfull. (Whose takes ‘should’ I know?) Pyotr is my new favourite “Gloomy Sunday” interpreter.

      • The most famous versions, I think, are by Billie Holiday and Paul Robeson. Both very good but they do include the extra verse added for the American market where the singer says that they were only dreaming and their love is still snoring away on the other side of the bed (I paraphrase).

        Disappointingly Sinead O’Connor also chose the bowdlerised version when she recorded it.

        Marc Almond and Elvis Costello have also had a go.

  9. What an absolutely super Earworms ! ! !

    Elbow – Great Expectations

    I love the simple but emotional songs ! ! ! I think that sometimes the arrangements and production obstruct (?) the emotional content of a song. I think when there is a great song then it should be direct and not over complex as it distracts from the emotional impact. I had to listen to this track several times, it just is so wonderful and somehow restrained and honest. I really like when guys sings emotional songs with this strength and restraint and understatement. I really believe this something Japanese and British people have in common. We feel deeply but express our feelings in a restrained and understated way. I loved this song so much ! ! ! Thank you for sharing it ! ! !

    Iona – Chi-Rho

    Oh Wow ! ! ! I am going to love this Earworms ! ! ! I find her voice so wonderfully pure and communicative of emotions, even if you do not understand all the words, the emotional content is communicated perfectly ! ! ! This song has a feel of modern classical music somehow but also of British folk and really she has such a wonderful technique when she sings, but the technique is not to be clever it is to convey meaning and so it is totally great ! ! ! I loved the sax also, but my only complaint is it was too short ! ! !

    Fitkin/Wall – Snow Clamp

    This is going to be my most favourite Earworms ever ! ! ! Maybe because I had a romantic weekend and I feel so in love just now, but these songs allseem to tell a story that touches me. I feel in this track I can smell the snow and hear the horses running through the snow and see the sun shining of the snow ! ! ! This track is just so visual for me. I closed my eyes and just2 let my imagination run away and like with the really very best instrumental music when there is no words to get in way the story seems clearer. Totally wonderful in every respect ! ! !

    Visage – Fade to Grey

    This is the only track I knew before and I love this it is maybe my most favourite 1980 decade British track. I think the speaking in French is so exotic and the image of fading to grey and shapes merging and disappearing in the rain is so powerful. We have a lot of rain here also and maybe this another thing that binds the Japanese ands the English. When I was in LA I missed the rain so so much, even if I hate it when I am here. I think it is another really visual track with the images filling the space in the words. It is really a classic of the time and as a pop song maybe a classic of all times ! ! !

    Camille Bazbaz – Hors de Prix Titles

    The sound of the scooter is just so great ! ! ! It really makes you feel of sunny days and a trip to beach ! ! ! When I was younger and at high school in the summer holidays I would go home and my dad gave us an old motorcycle and I would drive with my sister all over the island and we would go with like five people on the motor cycle to the beach, with one on sitting on the gasoline tank and one on the seat in front of me, and two behind, it was great fun. My uncle was the head police man (there were only two other and they were both my cousins) so we never had any problems that a kiss or a smile or a small present would not resolve ! ! ! This song just brought those days back to me so clearly ! ! ! Thank you so much Fintan for sharing it! ! ! It is simple wonderful ! ! !

    Pyotr Leschenko – Miranda

    Where did leave that Rose ! ! ! This is another so visual song and so romantic ! ! !

    I love accordions and the Italian feel to this.

    Actually accordions are popular in my home island. This is because in the past there was a typhoon and a German ship was sinking. But there is a bond that all sailors have and the fishermen and sailors of my island could not watch the ship be lost and the sailors drown as it was too hard for them, so they went out to sea in the storm and resuced the German sailors. They stayed on our Island of many months until they could go home and taught the accordion to my people. Our Island is the only one in Japan where now there accordion is a traditional instrument. The German king, who was called Kaiser, was so thankful he built a German cultural centre on our Island and even now when a famous or important German comes to Japan they usually come to our island. Chancellor Schroeder even came to visit one time.

    But anyway, I loved the song and really enjoyed how it took me back in a strange Italian, German, Japanese loop back to my home ! ! !

    I really think this is my favourite Earworms and I am copying to my iPod NOW! ! !

  10. I really don’t think Snow Clamp is an earworm. It’s not a piece I want hanging round my brain all the time. It is, though, an amazing fucking piece of music as communication. Before I was through it the first time my blood was racing & I could feel a dry, cold gust of wind on my neck. By the second time I was planning routes down my favorite mountain to it. Straight to a ski list it goes. Just amazing. As earworms go Visage seems to have wandered into the wrong party. It’s ok though. Everybody took a turn on the floor as it passed through. Earworm of the week was definitely Miranda. Made me wish I spoke Russian. As to Elbow & Chi-Rho I say Chris nailed it with his description. Glad there was some BazBaz love.

  11. Great Expectations: I really enjoyed this – specially the way it starts out so gentle and soothing and then gradually builds up. Good stuff.

    Chi-Ro: Pleasant, and I like her voice. I thought the drums were a bit abrupt though. Shame they didn’t have bagpipes at the end instead of the sax (but the sax was good).

    Snow Clamp: This isn’t the sort of thing I would think of listening to but I’m glad I have. (Hey, that’s what earworms are for!) But I won’t be able to listen again without a picture of Fintan zooming down a ski slope in my head.

    Fade To Grey: this one leapt up and bit me, all right, while I was filling my boxes – suppose because I don’t expect to recognise earworms, and I did recognise this though I couldn’t have told you what it was called or who by. Still don’t like it though.

    Hors de Prix: did anyone else get the Avengers here and there? I think I would have to see the film to appreciate this properly – it didn’t do much for me on its own.

    Miranda: oh yes, this is lovely. My favourite this week! Thanks, severin. Now for Gllomy Sunday…

  12. After a couple of weeks of kind-of-themed earworms, bish has boshed us with a surprise eclectic set. Whilst Abahachi might be right about Fade To Grey standing out, I felt like they all stood out from each other. In a good way.

    I don’t know if anyone nominated ‘Fade To Grey’ for RR Songs About Futility, but it seems to be saying that our lives are mundane, filled with fear, and eventually fade not even to a satisfying cinematic black, but a boring old grey. Like the best electronic chart music, it deals with such morbid and terminal subject matter in a catchy, poppy way. In the 1980s I disliked nearly all of it because I wanted more Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Squeeze and Madness, and because however much i tried I couldn’t sustain any kind of dance to it. It also gave me a serendipitous moment on the journey to work, when the train conductor’s announcement coincided with the start of the rhythm track and before the song kicked in, so I had a perfect spoken intro of “BRADFORD INTERCHANGE, THE NEXT STATION IS BRADFORD INTERCHANGE’. I got off the train and almost sat on the platform next to my suitcase with cold and fixed eyes speaking of fear, but I had to get to work.

    To be continued….

  13. I thought the drummer of Iona sounded like a bit of a Phil Collins fan, and was expecting it to go all Proggy on me any minute, with a few bars of 13/8 and lyrics about God making the little Space Pixies. So, enjoyable all round.

    The Elbow tune was lovely, I shall listen to this some more. The Camille Bazbaz cheered me up and brought me round from my alienated state after the Visage (good programming by bish), the Pyotr Leschenko was fun and I was glad to have heard the Cornish minimalism and be reminded of the coastline and cliffs.

    Thanks everyone !

  14. Hey bish what a great set. Only knew Elbow and Visage. I realy like “Fade to Grey”, both the song and the video are stand outs of the eighties.
    This set has gone straight into it’s own playlist and I’ll be listening to it quite often I think.
    The variety that Earworms offers is staggering.

  15. Aba and Daddypig, you both made me laugh aloud. I remember coming into Leeds on the train for work once, with “Funeral in the Rain” by Chris Isaak on my Walkman. The rain was streaming down the train windows, the city was “fading to grey” and I nearly got straight on the next train back out, to anywhere. And it’s Bradford Interchange for me from next week – hardly an improvement!!

    Right – Elbow. I like Elbow. I especially like this, right up my ali. (See what I did there?)

    Iona – well, I chose it, I still think it’s good. Reminds me of Annie Haslam / Renaissance.

    Fitkin / Wall – superb, GHE. Sunlight on the water. And that extraordinary light you get in South Cornwall. Lamorna Cove. Philip Glass. Arvo Part. Hypnotic ripples … I digress (again).

    Visgae – not my thing but I remember it and would hum along if it was on the radio.

    Camille Bazbaz – not my thing either, but good in its way.

    Pyotr etc. (have already lost my comments once and now frightened to scroll up. Young Munday has nicked the mouse. Flipping half-term …). Very good. I like it. Whatever happened to Ivan Rebroff?

    Great week Bish, thank you.

  16. Hmm, i’m feeling like a bit of a sourpus here and thinking that maybe i should come back another day and try again!

    Only one that really did much for me this week was Elbow. I haven’t heard much by them, but they’re another band that i like very much the few bits i have heard. Maybe someday someone will be inclined to do a Spillover Elbow.

    I also liked the Iona – ChiRho piece as well, but the message was a bit wasted on me i’m afraid. Big dond to DaddyPig’s ChiRho from the Book of Kells though, that i am familiar with, although sadly not in the flesh, if you will. Perhaps someday i’ll get to Trinity to see it (isn’t that where it’s kept?)

    Thanks to Bish and all!

    • Amy, my sister used to work in The Long Room at Trinity College where the book is kept – she worked on the preservation of the vellum manuscripts and books there.

      Your fellow countrymen would frequently ask if they were in the right place to see “The Book of Kelly” 😉

  17. Glad that the majority seem to have enjoyed the Elbow track – thanks for all the positive comments. Two things that no one has mentioned:

    1) the musical and vocal similarity to early Gabriel-era Genesis (think Nursery Cryme and Supper’s Ready)
    2) the lyrics. The story of the song is that of a drug-addled relationship between two young lovers who made a vow (I love you, I always will) on a late night bus ride home. The exchange is likened to a wedding ceremony at which:

    A callgirl with yesterday eyes was our witness and priest,
    The Stockport supporters club kindly supplied us a choir,
    You vow was your smile,
    As we moved down the aisle,
    Of the last bus home.

    Guy Garvey has an eye for this sort of thing – it’s basically a short story set to music. Beautiful stuff.

    I’d be happy to undertake an Elbow ‘Spillover – give me a week or two.

  18. Thanks for the info, guys. I have a special little jones for illuminated manuscripts, i love the anal-retentiveness of them too. Not picky about the faith either – i love the Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu – all of them! If i had lived in medieval times, i think there were worse lives to be had than holed up in a monastary or scriptorium or whatever doodling away. It pained me to hear about the Chinese trashing the all of the books and manuscripts in the Buddhist monastaries and temples – all of that beautiful artwork lost!

    Toffee – if you’re inclined to do an Elbow spillover, i’d be delighted – take all the time you need, i know you’re busy.

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