Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday Recommendations

In the spirit of the day, here's my recommendation for musical acts that deserve a proper resurrection.

3. Harry Chapin.

So cheesy and sincere he makes Bruce Springsteen look like a Left Bank intellectual who wears black turtlenecks and berets, sips on espressos and formulates wry bon mot about Genet's crueler pieces, Harry Chapin was a folksinger and a believer in a better world. He told stories in songs that Billy Joel could only dream of writing, where pathos was not nostalgic drama but a condition of the human spirit. Sure, one of them became a massive hit, even with frat boys, but that's because frat boys are sons and some of them will be fathers, and the song bears all the truth of a psalm for a Catholic on Easter. In today's day and age, when we've passed through irony to become ironic about irony and discovered that it doesn't lead back to authenticity but to transparency, it's nice to listen to a real believer.

Here's Bruce performing Harry.

And here's Shatner performing Taxi.

2. Alphaville.

Lyrics so articulate and confusing, I'm still sure that Marian Gold knows English better than I do and I've just got to get better at it before I can make sense of them. They were Big in Japan before Spinal Tap or Lost in Translation. They sang about the Victory of Love, they sang about Jerusalem, they sang about Summer in Berlin. While we danced slow dances to Wonderful Tonight or the latest Phil Collins tearjerker, projecting ourselves into our late middle age while still teenagers, the cool kids, the kids in America, were ending their proms dancing to Forever Young, which knows that even teenagers know it will all come to an end, but turns that knowledge into a melancholy beauty of its own.

Dylan scholars are too intimidated by their lyrics; Swedish pop bands turn green with envy at the ease with which the produced bouncy melancholic pop; Marion Gold's mouth is like a Stephen Adly Guirgis play put into lip form, his eyes like Stoppard protagonists between lids, his cheekbones a pair of Pinterian hoodlums who'll slice your spine out, the man's face is New Wave-meets-Drama; Alphaville deserve our reconsideration.

1. The Only Ones.

Britpop avant la lettre? The origin of Britpop? Whatever they were, they had the best pop-rock song of the 1970s (80s, 90s, and 00s) in Another Girl, Another Planet. It's the best song, in every way, ever.

And anybody who loves, I don't know, guitars? could spend hours curled up on the floor up against a bookcase with earphones in, following perfect line after perfect line. If you don't like Pink Floyd (but can't help liking Pink Floyd), if you do like Guns'N'Roses and want to listen to some dirty music instead of feeling morally dirty, if you like The Smiths or Suede or Arctic Monkeys, then how are you not listening to The Only Ones?

This used to be DJ's favourite song; probably isn't anymore, but respect.

Wait, what's that, you say?

The Only Ones reunited a couple of years ago, and re-released all their albums, with bonus tracks?


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