woensdag 29 juni 2022

Week 26, 10 singles

Summer's here and the time is right for ten more singles released somewhere in the past weeks. From the obscure to a band that fills an arena easily. From rock to soul and 80s rock to country and soul. You will see it all come by. Let me not detain you.

She. The Legendary Swagger

The Legendary Swagger is a Long beach, Ca. band that has a clear goal based on the sound of this single and that is to play the tiles of your roof. She is full of energy, the band has the mileage on it to show the wear and tear coming with the mileage. Just like the cassette player in a worn out but totally dependable car the band plays rock from quite some time ago; as if it was invented yesterday. Singer Geoff Yeaton has that greased over voice that comes with the territory. As an extra he throws in a saxophone solo the late Clarence Clemons would not have been ashamed of playing. The blurb is you've heard it all before, but so nice to do so once again. That swagger has a place in 2022 and does not to be legendary based on yesteryear's music. Leave it to this band to create its own.

De Eerste Knecht. Broeder Dieleman

'De Liefde Is de Eerste Wet' heet de laatste plaat van Broeder Dieleman. Het was een prima album, maar viel ook weg in het grote Corona gat dat de wereld voor ons neerzette. De Eerste Knecht is de eerste van twee singles, ja echte 7", die Broeder Dieleman dit jaar uitbrengt. Het verhaal achter de single is dat het begon tijdens de sessie voor 'Liefde Is De Eerste Wet'. De tekst is geïnspireerd door een verhaal uit 1923 van Leo Bootgezel. Het is als het ware een ansichtkaart van een West-Zeeuws-Vlaamse boerderij uit de begin van de 20e eeuw. Het valt op dat Broeder Dieleman zich meer is gaan richten op liedjes en zich weg heeft bewogen van de uitgebreide sfeerstukken van midden vorig decennium. Zelf zie ik dat net anders, de sfeer heeft hij zijn liedjes ingetrokken, want deze zijn zo sfeervol. Dit geldt ook voor De Eerste Knecht. O zo langzaam voltrekt het nummer en daarmee het verhaal zich. Wie de muziek van Broeder Dieleman kent, zal direct de inmiddels bekende elementen opvallen. Elementen die allemaal weer op de precies juiste plek vallen. Met zijn nieuwe single schiet Broeder Dieleman precies in de roos en dat is geen toeval meer.

Julia. Fence

Celebrating 10 years Fons Records, the band Fence is releasing a new album soon. This is one of the singles, Julia. Where the video is rather epileptic, the music is the music equivalent. The music is just bouncing and then bouncing some more from another floor, wall or ceiling. It has the exuberance of some later 1960s pop single from the U.K., while musically it fits in with a Britpop band like Supergrass. Julia is pure musical fun. There's no other word for it. The music stop-starts the whole of the time, making the song epileptic as well. Where the vocal melody flows forward almost uninterrupted, the music only does so in the outro. This apparent controversy fits together in a beautiful way. On 1 July the album is there, 'Hazy Mist Of Rock'.

Spitting Off The Edge Of The World (feat. Perfume Genius). Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This is an option in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, in ours it is quite the challenge. Not so for Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Spitting Off The Edge Of The World is an ultra exciting single. It has a darkness that is barely let go off and an inner tension that only wants to do one thing and that is explode. The band doesn't permit it and prefers to build the tension a little more. The keyboard solo making it higher and higher before the final seconds die out. Yeah Yeah Yeahs is around since 2000, but has not released a record for nine years. It is about to do so once again in September. Somehow all previous work has past me by, although I had heard the name. But that is it. If Spitting Off The Edge Of The World is the band's standard, I have some catching up to do. This is simply a very exciting single.

Baby Baby. Continental

Rum Bar Records from Boston regularly showcases its artists on compilation albums that are free of charge, if you know where to find them. One of the singles from its recent 'Rebel Rousers, Round 2' compilation is Baby Baby by the band Continental. I know nothing of the band, but the tightly rocking Baby Baby certainly is the kind of invitation that is hard to decline. Baby Baby is a song with a strong connection to things past. The last singles that made it to the top 40 here of this kind are 'Your Love' by The Outfield and 'Satellite' by The Hooters, from deep(er) into the 1980s. The kind of song that rocks but has enough of a pop flavour to capture the attention of a larger group of people without really offending the hardcore rockers. "Your love", is a part of the lyrics and a reference to the Stones' 'Under My Thumb'  tops it off, were it not for the fun horns solo and the lead guitar straight out of the Dan Baird songbook. Top single.

The Reckoning Is Here. Lonely Leesa & the Lost Cowboys

More rock from Rum Bar and Rebel Rousers Round 2, but so much more lush. The guitar is allowed to space out in sound and notes, a warm organ spruces The Reckoning Is Here up no little. Lonely Leesa (Coyne) has the voice of a true rock chick. Tough, yet exactly right. The band obviously loves The Rolling Stones of the 1970s, with organ and electric piano, while the dual guitars are present for the whole of the way, including a slide guitar. In sound The Black Crowes, always a Stones/Faces rip off in sound of course, are certainly present, but so is Guns 'N' Roses in the way the guitars are played. Can a female singer be influenced by Rod Stewart? It appears so listening to this single. This band brings together the best in rock of the 70s and 90s and all in one song.

Rescues. Monica Taylor

From rock to country is a smaller step than one might think. Without country (and rhythm & blues) no rock and roll and without the excitement of rock and roll no rock. Monica Taylor is about to release her 9th record and 3rd as a solo artist. If Rescues is a cue to what 'Trains, Rivers and Trails' has to offer, country fans should start running to the record shop, or the device that gets them on Spotify nowadays, alas. Rescues will introduce you to a very traditional song. Do not expect to hear anything you will not have heard before. What you will hear, is a beautiful song, capturing that bittersweet atmosphere that makes this song stand apart. Besides the extremely pleasant voice of Monica Taylor whose alias certainly is well-deserved: the Cirramon Songbird. Rescues holds a kind of violin that I was introduced for the first time to by Scarlet Rivera on Bob Dylan's 'Desire' album. In combination with other traditional country instruments and a rhythm section giving the song its body, Rescues is a great song. Monica Taylor thus falls into a category containing hundreds if not more female singers coming out of the U.S. With a song like Rescues I welcome one more with gusto and pleasure.

Kissing Lessons. Lucy Dacus

Back to rock we go. Lucy Dacus is one of the alternative rock ladies that broke in the past few years. To most of them I have an ambivalent relationship. As often I can not really make up my mind what I truly think of them. From Courtney Barnett to Phoebe Bridgers, I am always going from great to what? This is no different for Lucy Dacus

With Kissing Lessons Lucy Dacus takes sides on her love preference in a clear way but also rocks out in a modern and clever way. This is a tough song and yet melodies are oozing out of every corner of Kissing Letters. Blink your eyes and this single is over, yet is immensely rich as it captures so much. At the basis this is a tight rock song with a nice vocal melody. In the second half that tightness does not disappear but magic is sprinkled all over that tightness. Conclusion, Kissing Lessons is one of the songs from the young female rock generation that is great.

Colour Your World EP. Mega

Stepping just a little outside of my comfort zone here. Listening to the opening song Mega's EP, 'Smile', I was captured by her voice. Not to compare her to Tracy Chapman's voice, but I was caught in a way that 'Fast Car' and 'Talking About A Revolution' once did to me a long time ago. Mega has Ugandan roots but is from North London where she sang in church choirs in her youth. A gospel element is certainly no stranger in a song like 'Box Of Regrets'. 'All Day Long' has African influences but is also a 2022 rendition of what Steve Winwood did in the 1980s on e.g. 'Higher Love'. It shows how wide the influences range on this five song EP, Mega's second EP. She can be called a soul singer. This has nothing to do with the soul singes of the 1960 nor 1970s. Mega is a modern singer who lets in modern elements into her music, in the form of beats and electronic elements. The soul is there at heart in the vibe of the album. She manages to pull soul into the third decade of the 21st century. 'If Not My Heart' even contains a little 'All Night Long (All Night)'. Mega is capable of all this in just five song and convinces along the way to be her own singer too.

Kharma Climb. Editors

Kharma Climb was a few seconds old and it had transported me back about 40 years. The pulsing synths, that disco form of drumming underneath a rock song, the lead guitar starting off with a solo, it all spelled 1980s and more specifically Depeche Mode. Kharma Climb is a rip off, there's no other word for it. I would never have written about this song if it wasn't so infectiously good. Editors simply pushes all the right, if totally predictable buttons. I never was a Depeche Mode fan, except for that few fantastic singles like the live version of 'Just Can't Get Enough' and 'Everything Counts' to mention to of about four, five singles. Editors made a song that is on that level and adds two things: an ultimate pop feel and an element of rock, here and there. The rest is classic Depeche Mode and although I'm sure this song was recorded before Andy Fletcher died recently, it is a befitting farewell salute to the least important man in Depeche Mode.

Wout de Natris

dinsdag 28 juni 2022

The hits of The Kinks, 1965 - 1969, part 2

Welcome back to the second instalment of The Kinks hits from 1965 to 1969. Having looked at the artwork of the first seven singles, I have to make one comment of critique. The Pye record label had a dismal art department. Really nothing was done to make the individual single's artwork stand out. So many are almost identical, have the same picture or are obviously from the same session. In the third part there are even pictures from a period the band was not at anymore. It could have been so much better.

It would be ludicrous to state that to be the reason why, in my opinion, the work of The Kinks is highly underrated for over 30 years already, but having signed to the Pye label was not the wisest decision it seems in hindsight. The question is, why hadn't any other label recognised the potential of this band? Did it have another option? I don't know. The Kinks' legacy is quite clearly badly taken care of and that may be because the label simply doesn't exist any more, for a long time at that. This should change. So, who is willing to start the Ray Davies and The Kinks appreciation society?

In the Dutch Top 40 it is 1966 and great times are awaiting the band and its fans. The big breakthrough is nigh.

Dedicated Follower Of Fashion (1966, 1)

Someone gave one of The Kinks' guitarists a resonator guitar, I know hear in 2022. No matter how often I have heard the song, I had no clue and hadn't, seriously, listened to the song for years. Another one of the singles I was given by my cousin. The second song where Ray Davies looks at the world around him and starts reporting on it in the form of a song. (I am listening to a horrible stereo mix. Only Ray is on the right. The rest is on the left speaker.) Carnaby Street was the center of the world or so it thought and the Carnabishian Army is what is described here.

Now what made this song The Kinks' first number one hit here in The Netherlands? It starts out rather odd, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion does. Acoustic and loud. It's not someone expects to hear on a hit single. Also, it is not an easy song to sing along with, except the "yes it is" part. Far from I'd opine in fact. The music has a little country flavour, as well as referencing music from Davies' youth or even his parents' age, but is also a little messy. The walking bass is nice but who buys a single for that? The typical The Kinks piano is once again played by Nicky Hopkins. Altogether it is as weird as the text may have sounded at the time. In short, I have no clue why this one went to the top. Perhaps the easy answer is: the country was ready for The Kinks and the band delivered.

Sunny Afternoon (1966, 1)

Now the intro to Sunny Afternoon. Speaking of a suave opening! The chromatic intro is fantastic. Dave's oohs coming in under the rather cynical but resigned sounding lyrics of Ray. This is one of The Kinks' singles I can listen to all day and it is not even my real favourite. That descending bass line opening the song is so good. Something the band will do again later on. Never waste a brilliant idea. The taxman under Prime Minster Wilson was a topic to write songs about in 1965-66.

Musically the band dives a little deeper than ever before. The arrangement is much better worked out that ever before. The piano is well known by now but the melodica coming with it is new (both Nicky Hopkins). The acoustic guitar has become normal by now. Is there even an electric one on the song? Yes, the accents in the bridge of course. Who listens carefully can here Ray's (then) wife Rasa singing along as well.

In 1969 I had a neighbour friend, Hans. He had a lot of singles which he gave away or sold to friends when he'd heard them enough. This is one of them. Thank you, Hans. I still treasure it.

Let's pause for a moment. We are one and a half year underway with our The Kinks overview. Just look back for a few seconds and let the transition get to you. From a proto punk band, playing power chords, to the soft ballads and now this kind of song that nobody else was doing, once again. Sure, many followed suit, Cat Stevens e.g. The Kinks by mid 1966 were on another plain, going their own way. Scoring its second top 1 hit here with Sunny Afternoon.

Dandy (1966, 3)

Now I know 100% certain that this is my first The Kinks single, in the sense of knowing when it was a hit and owning it, with 'Mr. Pleasant'. Why? Because I remember it being played on the radio and by my cousin on birthdays. (And no, not the next one. How that can be, I don't know. I think because I really, really liked Dandy.) And still do.

It is fairly unique as the song was not released as a single in most countries. It was here and made the top 3. It was also a hit for Herman's Hermits and perhaps that is why the Dutch label decided to release it also. Listening to the song for the first time in some years, immediately tickles my inner child. I hear my four year old brother sing "Dandy in de go now". What I notice as an adult, is how well this song is crafted. The descending chords, are simply well done. They give Dandy an immediate change of tone. From the exuberant Dandy part to a far darker mood, looking beyond the dandy part of the person sung to. Ray Davies' voice is totally shot at the end. I've never heard him this raw. It gives the song so much extra. The bridge is simply great, if not stunning.

Again an acoustic guitar drives the song, with a piano clearly playing the fun notes. The bass is also extremely nice. as a whole this song totally works and became a hit because it is one. What was wrong with you in the U.K.?

And the b-side? That is fantastic as well. This week I listened to one of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour shows, on telephones. And so I heard for Party Line for the first time in years. I love this song perhaps even more than Dandy. What a 45 with these two songs on it.

On Wikipedia I read that the sleeve I have is the German sleeve. So did Ter Meulen in Rotterdam buy up rest badges of singles from Germany and sell them for fl 0,59? Thank you Ter Meulen.

Dead End Street (1966, 5)

The hit in the rest of the world at the same time as 'Dandy' was Dead End Street. Another one of Ray Davies' social commentary songs, perhaps his most so, so far. The drab live in the U.K. in 1966 is highlighted here, a topic that really had nothing to do with a pop song, not with beat, nor with the swinging 60s. Being stuck in nothing, going nowhere, is the digest of Dead End Street.

At the same time it is the most upbeat song with no chance to anything as a topic. No matter how you describe it, this is a fun song. The trombone underscores the "deadness", the rest of the band makes sure the song is alive and cheerful. The rolling piano, that typical The Kinks piano sound, leads parts of the song even. It is Ray Davies playing it. Perhaps the piano because of this is more prominent than ever before. It is the electric guitar that is moving to the background more and more. You will hear a few single notes played very staccato, that's all. Once again, The Kinks produced a great single. Ray Davies was knocking them out of his sleeve as it were. Although John Matthews' trombone solo is sort of fun at the end, it could have been a bit shorter. Final note, as far as I know, this is the first The Kinks single with John Dalton on bass.

Mr. Pleasant (1967, 2)

And here is the absolute favourite of my youth. Listening to it today I still understand why. Having had no clue what this song was about, then, all I heard was that upbeat music, that great piano, that trombone and the great melody. This song is so good. It has something of a carnival song, a pop song, a traditional Dutch pop song, vaudeville and a rock and roll, honky tonk piano. And then I have not even started on the harmonies. The best of the band's to date. It seemed to have all that a young boy needed to be musically satisfied. I could listen to it all day long and probably still can.

It is June 2022 and I'm listening to Mr. Pleasant for the first time in years. The effect it has on me is exactly the same, I think. Mr. Pleasant makes me happy and sad at the same time. It has this bittersweet quality. The Kinks capture this feeling so well here. Ray Davies is laughing at "Mr. Pleasant", straight at his face, in the same way as he did with "Dandy". Musically it is captured in a rolling, round sound that comes across as a party song, but the chords do not match. And exactly this, so I realise now, is what makes this song so strong. The piano just rolls on, the "simple", like a carnival song here, produces that party vibe. Next comes the vocal melody and the harmonies of "Mr. Pleasant, Mr. Pleasant", etc., underneath the "Mr.Pleasant is good, is fine", etc. This is sheer sadness. And there is the mysterious bridge that has a totally different mood once again. Both Nicky Hopkins and Pete Quaife and Rasa Davies are on the record.

Waterloo Sunset (1967, 1)

The return of the chromatically descending chords. One of the most sentimental songs by The Kinks and of course one of the band's greatest hits. Their third number 1 here in NL and last in this selected time period. Waterloo Sunset is a beautiful song and that has to do with that unashamedly sentimentality. The acoustic guitar drives the song and Dave Davies lays down (muted) accents on the electric. The bass is softly going downwards, to start all over again all over the song. The drums are ever so subtle. Rasa Davies has her most prominent role as background singer. She is very clearly heard all through the song. It is 1967 and finally The Kinks admit a little psychedelia into one of its songs. The end gets an ever so light psychedelic flavour, perhaps symbolising the sunset over the river. Waterloo Sunset is a song that is full of restraint, which allows the relaxed atmosphere to dominate the song and Ray smooching his way round "Terry and Judy", accompanying them across the river and to their gazing on the sunset. Beauty, that's the word alright. Oh, yeah, thank you Tineke also for this single.

Death Of A Clown (1967, 2)
Yes, you are right, strictly speaking this is not a The Kinks single but a Dave Davies solo recording. I've opted to bring it along, as in all other ways it is a The Kinks single, written by Dave Davies. You can find it on a The Kinks albums, credited to the band, so there you go. Ray wrote the 'la la la' part, Rasa sings the background vocals and the band plays, with Nicky Hopkins on piano.

Death Of A Clown would have fitted perfectly among the songs in this list as a The Kinks single. This song is truly sad. It is as sad as the topic. Dave Davies sets the stage within a few lines. This circus has outlived itself and goes from bad to worse in a few verses. The intro, played by Nicky Hopkins, sounds like a pop version of a Hungarian gypsy song. It makes Death Of A Clown special immediately. It sounds so different because of it. Again the rhythm has this pre-1960s and even older stamp on it. The Kinks were so far removed from what was going on in the U.K. It really set them apart. The Small Faces had 'Itchycoo Park' of course, but that was drenched in psychedelia. The Kinks have nothing to do with that. No matter how sad Death Of A Clown is, it is a song one can sing along to, but there's no need to do so, really. Listening tells the story and Dave Davies shows himself an accomplished singer and songwriter, although he turned out to be an extremely lazy one.

There is more to come next week.

Wout de Natris

maandag 27 juni 2022

Sophie Hunger Live. Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam, Saturday 25 June 2022 with Géonne Hartman

Photo: Wout de Natris
Another postponed show finally taking place. The surprise of seeing a very pregnant artist in the spotlight, starting to sing an a capella Swiss German song, without the microphone and you could hear a pin drop in Paradiso's Tolhuistuin. The surprise of seeing a totally different Sophie Hunger than ever before. A very confident woman, open, smiling, at ease with the world and herself. The surprise that every time she smiled it was like seeing the younger version of the wife of one of my best friends on stage. This just the beginning of telling you how perfect Sophie Hunger's show was.

Although she opened with the title song of her 2015, fantastic album 'Supermoon', in a radically different version, the backbone of the show was her August 2020 released album 'Halluzinationen'. An album that hangs somewhere between modern beats, electronics and great songs. An album released in the height of the pandemic and falling somewhat flat because no support was possible at all. Even the November 2021 show had to be postponed because of round 3 or 4 of the pandemic. With numbers surging once again in June 2022, this time there is no lockdown.

On stage just three players. The omnipresent keyboardist and flügelhorn player Alexis Anérilles filled up the whole space, so that drummer and percussionist Julian Sartorius could do his amazing rhythms. Just imagine an already complex rhythm to get extra accents within the fourth measure each time, and these accents are usually weird sounds for a drummer. It is as if Sartorius stops time as it were to deliver these two weird accents, before falling back into the rhythm for three measures once again. Rhythms can come from anything attached to or surrounding the drums.

Photo: Wout de Natris
Against this background Sophie Hunger can deliver her songs and play her guitars as little or much as she likes. She is the exact centre of the show and the music. If ever a singer shone on stage, it was Sophie Hunger during this show. She commanded attention. Conversing in a relaxed way with the audience in between, showing big smiles and sing the songs, no matter how complex they are, with an ease that shows how good she is.

Nearly all her albums go to number one in her home country Switzerland, although she lives in Berlin these days. The mystery for me remains, why doesn't she grow a little bigger each album here? She has the songs, the quality, the live performance. The upside is of course that I can see her perform from fairly up close, but I'll forgo this privilege, because Sophie Hunger deserves more, like the Paradiso or Melkweg proper and not the side venue.

We were prepared by her for the end. She announced that with the word "hope" things would be over. Except for three encore songs, of which one was a true punkrocker no less. Her baby will be a rockstar as it has heard so much good music from up close already.

I have seen Sophie Hunger perform five or six times now and all shows were great experiences. Somehow, I have the impression to have seen the best one yet. True or not, there's no way a comparison is possible, it shows how good Sophie Hunger is live. I was mesmerised for the whole time and looking around me, so was everybody else.

Photo: Wout de Natris
The evening was opened by Utrecht based singer Géonne Hartman. One girl, one guitar and singer-songwriter songs from her debut album. A new name to me, she made an impression with her pleasant voice and nice songs. Songs to listen to and the audience allowed for listening. There was no one talking and that is amazing to notice. in a larger venue usually someone always starts and that is the sign for most other people to start doing the same. Not in Tolhuistuin this Saturday. Geónne captured Sophie Hunger's audience and held it. Although I concluded at the end that the songs were a bit the same and the show could use a little more variation, I also noticed the half hour Géonne Hartman played was a time well-spent. She also plays with her band, so it might be worthwhile to check out her songs in another setting as well. All in all a very nice introduction to her music. I have the album on now, and it is quite different and interesting, I can share with you. Check it out sometime.

Wout de Natris


You can order Sophie Hunger's albums on her website:

https://store.sophiehunger.com/store/

and Géonne Hartman's album 'He Went To The See' here:

https://www.platomania.nl/article/11008051/he_went_to_the_sea/hartman_geonne

zondag 26 juni 2022

Elvis

How is it to watch a movie on a rock and roll star I never was a fan of? Well, pretty good actually. The reviews I read were mixed, although the slightly negative one admittedly was rather elitist, perhaps because the reviewer appeared to be a fan of Elvis Presley and had wanted more out of the movie.

Elvis and me never really got it off. I wasn't around when he broke big, I was to young to appreciated what he did in the late 60s and did not really like most of his 70s hit singles at the time. The whole Las Vegas thing passed me by until years after his death. Elvis and me in a nutshell, to set the stage.

In 2022 Elvis Presley is still a phenomenon, albeit a fading one. A good reason to go and watch the movie and see for myself what impact the man had on music, and life in the U.S. in general.

Looking around me in the theatre that was nearly sold out on a Friday night, not sold out, I noticed how young the audience was. No Elvis fan of old in sight. They may be too old to go to a movie at night by now. Most weren't even closely born in 1977, the year Elvis died at the age of 42. So what could have attracted them? The director is not a hip young one. It is not as if Elvis' music is everywhere on the radio anymore. Hence, I doubt whether Elvis can do for Elvis Presley, what 'Bohemian Rhapsody' did for Queen and perhaps 'Rocketman' for Elton John.

What Baz Luhrmann, the director and co-scenarist, shows extremely well, is how music influenced Elvis. How he lived music and was possessed by it. By joining a jukejoint with a Southern baptist church in one setting, in the dirt poor, rural land of Mississippi, the whole of Elvis' musical career is caught within ten minutes. How he soaked up country blues and gospel and used both to work for himself in the first songs he recorded at Sun Records and RCA Victor. Luhrmann shows the excitement the young Elvis brought with him, the impact this had on girls (and women) and the outrage of the fathers who could see the reputation of their daughters shot to you know what. The conservative backlash it caused, the racism that was part of the outrage: "Negro music is corrupting the souls of our children". The excitement and ecstasy the younger Elvis had seen in the Southern church, he brought to the stage with him and caused a sexual arousing in the whole of the country. All this extrapolates into the intenseness of his Las Vegas shows, when he is finally released again by younger collaborators. Where nothing is withheld and the candle burns at both ends and fast. These bursts of energy are caught on film in a fantastic way. The way he is fixed up time and again by a doctor, brought Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' to mind immediately. "It will keep you going through the show, come on it's time to go". All this comes across so good.

It is not the main story though. In the background is Elvis' relationship with Col. Tom Parker, his manager. The complexity of that relationship is shown in all its facets. The constant hints that Parker, who had never been a colonel, was not a Tom and not even a Parker but Breda, The Netherlands born Andreas van Kuijk and illegally in the U.S., was pressured into certain choices because he could be blackmailed, show a few things. Elvis had a lot to thank Parker for. He brought him where he was, co-made him into who he was. He also held him back tremendously. The army, the movies, not being able to perform outside of the U.S., because Parker had no passport and could not get one (or thought so). Then going back to the other side, Elvis was the only rock and roll star that did survive the 60s in a grand way and started to score hits, huge hits and to critical acclaim from the late 60s onwards. That may well be because Elvis was not competing with the British Invasion and returned at the right moment when the invasion was over and spent its energy. The world was ready for Elvis once again and never got him, because of Parker. He could have been so much bigger now, as in essence Elvis remained an American phenomenon and not a true global one. Can Elvis possibly be bigger? I think yes and that travelling had enriched his career and perhaps even made him see there was more to live for than Graceland and Las Vegas. Perhaps his self-view and appreciation would have changed for the positive.

All the hangers on and leeches living from his pocket, including his father, were not able to stop the candle from burning. They had no interest to do so. The only one who had, his wife Priscilla, had left the building by then. That is the other side of a giant money generator, no one has in interest in the well-being of the chicken with the golden eggs, i.e. Elvis Presley. Pills, drugs and the fabled peanutbutter sandwiches, that are not shown in the movie, culminated in a tremendously overweight, spent, 42 year old wreck. And then the scene changes from the actor to the real Elvis, singing the last song he sang live on stage, a caricature of the man he once was. When he starts singing 'Unchained Melody', the only thing left to do is to sit back in awe at the power of that voice. No, I'm not a fan but have come to appreciate some of his work more over the past 50 years and some songs are fantastic, with 'Suspicious Minds' as my favourite. Many of the rock and roll ones are still great fun to play with the band.

I was left with one question. The Elvis songs I remember from being a smal kid, were the ballads. 'Wooden Heart', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?', 'Love Me Tender'. Except for an almost psychedelicly warped 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' they are not within earshot. Elvis is a movie about the excitement. There's no room for sentimentality there, until the end that is.

And Tom Hanks as Co. Tom Parker? An Academy Awards shimmers in the near future.

Wout de Natris

zaterdag 25 juni 2022

Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë. Sofie Livebrant

De Zweedse muzikante Sofie Livebrant gaat aan de haal met de gedichten van de Engelse Emily Brontë en met zowel Britse als Amerikaanse folk, met een verbluffend mooi en spannend album als resultaat.

Ik ben meestal niet zo gek op de wat traditionele Britse folk, maar het nieuwe album van de uit Stockholm afkomstige Emily Livebrant duwde ik te makkelijk in dit hokje. Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë van Sofie Livebrant is immers geen moment een dertien in een dozijn folkalbum. Alle songs vallen op door een prachtige en veelkleurige instrumentatie, Sofie Livebrant zingt op haar nieuwe album prachtig en slaagt er ook nog eens in om de gedichten van Emily Brontë te vangen in songs die zowel authentiek als eigentijds klinken. Ik moest er heel even aan wennen, maar dit album wordt echt alleen maar mooier en indrukwekkender. Veel te mooi om onder te laten sneeuwen dus.

Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë van de Zweedse muzikante Sofie Livebrant verscheen afgelopen zomer al, maar heeft eindelijk een Nederlandse release gekregen. Ik was de naam van de muzikante uit Stockholm volgens mij nog niet eerder tegen gekomen, maar Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë is al het zesde album van Sofie Livebrant. Haar vorige albums werden stuk voor stuk in het hokje folk geduwd en dat is ook het hokje waarin haar nieuwe album thuis hoort, al kan Sofie Livebrant binnen de folk op een breed terrein uit de voeten. 

Op Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë gaat Sofie Livebrant aan de slag met de gedichten van de Engelse schrijfster Emily Brontë. De telg uit de schrijversfamilie Brontë is vooral bekend van haar roman Wuthering Heights, maar voor ze op slechts 30-jarige leeftijd overleed aan tuberculose schreef ze ook een flink aantal gedichten. Sofie Livebrant draagt de gedichten van Emily Brontë (gelukkig) niet voor, maar heeft ze verwerkt in haar songs. 

Het zijn songs die niet alleen fraai maar ook bijzonder zijn ingekleurd. De akoestische gitaar legt in de meeste songs op het album de basis, maar strijkers zorgen steeds voor bijzondere accenten. Het zijn accenten die de muziek van Sofie Livebrant voorzien van vooral donkere tinten, maar die ook zorgen voor een bijzondere onderhuidse spanning. Door hier en daar gebruik te maken van bijzondere percussie wordt vervolgens voldoende variatie aangebracht in de over het algemeen genomen toch redelijk sobere instrumentatie. 

Met de bijzonder sfeervolle maar ook altijd bijzondere klanken op het album onderscheidt Sofie Livebrant zich eenvoudig van de meeste Britse folkalbums van het moment, al klinkt het album door de gedichten van Emily Brontë behoorlijk Brits. Brits met een bijzondere twist, dat wel. 

De mooie maar ook spannende instrumentatie, met hier en daar weergaloos akoestisch gitaarspel, was voor mij de eerste reden om te blijven luisteren naar Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë, maar langzaam maar zeker werd ik steeds meer gegrepen door de stem van Sofie Livebrant. 

De Zweedse muzikante beschikt over een wat hoge stem, die af en toe herinnert aan de grootse vocale daden van Sandy Denny. Wanneer Sofie Livebrant wat opschuift van Britse naar Laurel Canyon folk, hoor ik ook wel wat van Joni Mitchell, waarmee we zeer indrukwekkend vergelijkingsmateriaal te pakken hebben. De combinatie van de fraaie instrumentatie en de mooie vocalen doet me ook wel wat denken aan de vroege albums van de Britse singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams, maar Sofie Livebrant heeft ook een bijzonder eigen geluid. 

Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë is een album dat waarschijnlijk niet overdreven veel aandacht gaat krijgen, maar het is in alle opzichten een bescheiden meesterwerk. De fraaie instrumentatie en arrangementen strelen meedogenloos het oor, maar weten je ook steeds weer te verrassen, de stem van Sofie Livebrant is prachtig en het is knap hoe ze de meer dan tweehonderd jaar oude gedichten* van Emily Brontë het heden in sleept en deze opneemt in songs die geen moment te pretentieus klinken, wat vaak wel het geval is op albums met dit soort ambities. 

Ik vind pure Britse folkalbums meestal net wat te traditioneel, te plechtig of pastoraal, of zelfs te saai, maar Weep The Time Away: Emily Brontë van Sofie Livebrant is een album waar ik alleen maar ademloos naar kan luisteren. En de groei is er, ook na vele keren horen, nog niet uit.

Erwin Zijleman

* Als historicus moet ik hier toch aangeven dat de gedichten iets minder oud zijn. Circa 185-175 jaar. Emily Brontë overleed in 1848.


Je kunt het album hier beluisteren en bestellen:
 
https://sofielivebrant.bandcamp.com/album/weep-the-time-away-emily-bront