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News and Views for Authors. The primary voice of Booksquare is Kassia Krozser. She is a kind-hearted, gentle soul with a wealth of patience for the foibles of humani–wait, that’s not true at all. Kassia has never had an opinion she didn’t wish to express, nor has she ever been shy about telling the emperor that his clothes are, well, transparent. This is her way of expressing love, and she lavishes all of her adoration on the publishing industry because, like a child who needs firm, corrective guidance, publishers and writers need Booksquare.
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1. Certain Songs #628: Hoodoo Gurus – “Gene Hackman”

Hoodoo Gurus Electric Chair Album: Electric Chair
Year: 1998

This is my favorite song in what is perhaps the all-time smallest category: “Late-90s Songs About Gene Hackman as Sung By 1980’s Alt-Rock Icons.”

How small? There are only two songs in this category: The Hoodoo Gurus’ “Gene Hackman” and Robyn Hitchcock’s “Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman,” which may or may not be an answer song. Probably not, as Hitchcock’s is a live acoustic take that was a hidden track on Jewels For Sophia.

Not that the Gurus’ “Gene Hackman” is any less obscure: it turned up on a compilation that I’m not even sure got released here. A straight out punk rock song, it’s a clear throwaway, but who cares when it’s got lyrics like this.

Well, is there anything he can’t do?
Well, is there anything he can’t do?
Gene Hackman, versatile
The leading actor by a country mile
Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman

With Brad Shepherd making rude guitar noises throughout, you almost might miss the chorus, except for the fact that it’s so damn great:

Gene must have made a thousand films
He’s kissed a thousand girls
And made a thousand kills
And let’s not forget he took on Superman!

Like all of the greatest Hoodoo Gurus songs, “Gene Hackman” is great good fun, and a fantastic way for me to end writing about them.

That said, guessing that most folks lost track of them even before In Blue Cave, so I’d like to report that — after taking 8 years off — they’ve continued to release records into the 21st century. 2004’s Mach Shau was pretty good, but 2010’s Purity of Essence was nearly as good as In Blue Cave, and if they make another record, I’d be excited to buy it.

But if they don’t, I think their legacy as maybe the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band to ever come from Australia is secure.

Fan-made video for “Gene Hackman”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #628: Hoodoo Gurus – “Gene Hackman” appeared first on Booksquare.

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2. Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me”

hoodoo gurus in blue cave Album: In Blue Cave
Year: 1996

The year is 1996. I’ve moved to Oakland, and I’m doing what I did at least twice a month on Saturday mornings: digging through the recent additions in Amoeba Music’s used CD section.

It was one of my rituals: driving into Berkeley first thing on Saturday morning, standing in trade-in line with CDs that had run the gamut of usefulness in order to get some store credit to offset the a bit too much I was going to spend on music that day.

And I come across a promo CD with no cover, but stamped on the light blue label is “Hoodoo Gurus In Blue Cave.” I don’t think I knew they had a new album coming out, but since that was 20 years ago, who remembers? And despite the fact that I hadn’t like either of their previous two records, I figured it was worth the five or six bucks to check it out.

And I’m eternally glad I did.

Because In Blue Cave was a pretty fucking great comeback, an eternal reminder of just how well-schooled the Hoodoo Gurus were in the basic rock ‘n’ roll that I’ll always love, and coupled with a bunch of great Dave Faulkner songs, it was irresistible.

My favorite song on the album was “Down on Me,” which featured everything you could want in a Hoodoo Gurus song: a tough-as-nails central riff, call-and-response chorus, and more than one killer Brad Shepherd guitar solo.

And the darkly sardonic lyrics were just a bonus.

Ain’t it always the way
How people treat you today
Fuck you over and say,
“Now go and have a real nice day!”

They must be
(Down on me!)
Can’t you see
(Down on me!)
I don’t need them
(Down on me!)
Let me breathe, stop drowning me

It goes without saying that yelling “down on me!” along with the Gurus is the point of the song, and it’s an extra nice that in the verse about turning to drugs has a tongue-in-cheek phase shift effect even as Faulkner is listing all of the drugs that aren’t helping.

Also fun, and pretty much apropos of nothing given that it was 1996: when Faulkner ends the song by yelling “MTV, go down on me!!!”

“Down on Me”

“Down on Me” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me” appeared first on Booksquare.

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3. Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me”

hoodoo gurus in blue cave Album: In Blue Cave
Year: 1996

The year is 1996. I’ve moved to Oakland, and I’m doing what I did at least twice a month on Saturday mornings: digging through the recent additions in Amoeba Music’s used CD section.

It was one of my rituals: driving into Berkeley first thing on Saturday morning, standing in trade-in line with CDs that had run the gamut of usefulness in order to get some store credit to offset the a bit too much I was going to spend on music that day.

And I come across a promo CD with no cover, but stamped on the light blue label is “Hoodoo Gurus In Blue Cave.” I don’t think I knew they had a new album coming out, but since that was 20 years ago, who remembers? And despite the fact that I hadn’t like either of their previous two records, I figured it was worth the five or six bucks to check it out.

And I’m eternally glad I did.

Because In Blue Cave was a pretty fucking great comeback, an eternal reminder of just how well-schooled the Hoodoo Gurus were in the basic rock ‘n’ roll that I’ll always love, and coupled with a bunch of great Dave Faulkner songs, it was irresistible.

My favorite song on the album was “Down on Me,” which featured everything you could want in a Hoodoo Gurus song: a tough-as-nails central riff, call-and-response chorus, and more than one killer Brad Shepherd guitar solo.

And the darkly sardonic lyrics were just a bonus.

Ain’t it always the way
How people treat you today
Fuck you over and say,
“Now go and have a real nice day!”

They must be
(Down on me!)
Can’t you see
(Down on me!)
I don’t need them
(Down on me!)
Let me breathe, stop drowning me

It goes without saying that yelling “down on me!” along with the Gurus is the point of the song, and it’s an extra nice that in the verse about turning to drugs has a tongue-in-cheek phase shift effect even as Faulkner is listing all of the drugs that aren’t helping.

Also fun, and pretty much apropos of nothing given that it was 1996: when Faulkner ends the song by yelling “MTV, go down on me!!!”

“Down on Me”

“Down on Me” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me” appeared first on Booksquare.

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4. Certain Songs #626: Hoodoo Gurus – “Dressed in Black”

Hoodoo gurus kinky Album: Kinky
Year: 1991

After four good-to-great albums in a row, the Hoodoo Gurus finally stumbled with 1991’s Kinky and 1994’s Crank, both of which suffered from songwriting that just wasn’t up to their previous standards.

And when you’re a straight-ahead rock and roll band, and all you are ever going to be is a straight-ahead rock and roll band, you live and die on the strength of your songwriting, and — for the most part, those two records just didn’t have it.

There were exceptions, of course: the wistful life-on-the-road tune “1,000 Miles Away,” the garagey “Form a Circle,” and the punky b-side, “I Think U Know” were definite signs of life. As was Brad Shepherd’s “Dressed in Black,” which is yet another entry in that small Certain Songs department of songs about wearing black clothes.

Featuring a chiming, droning guitar and a psychedelic rhythm section, “Dressed in Black” wore its Beatles influence in both music & lyrics.

You have been hurt, you’re sorry for yourself
Well, there is no argument
So you retreat, hiding your love away
Well, that is no testament
And you could cry yourself a river
I say damn your eyes
You’re not such a tragic figure – realise

I also love how Shepherd pronounces “figure” as “figger” on last verse, and with drummer Mark Kingsmill alternating between psychedelic backbeats and double times on each verse “Dressed in Black” is content just to ride on its groove, not even bothering with a guitar solo.

“Dressed in Black”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #626: Hoodoo Gurus – “Dressed in Black” appeared first on Booksquare.

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5. Certain Songs #625: Hoodoo Gurus – “Shadow Me”

hoodoos magnum Album: Magnum Cum Louder
Year: 1989

I don’t know. While the vast majority of the songs I write about were singles, or at least major album tracks, occasionally I hit upon a song that was neither, and yet speaks so deeply to me that I can’t help but write about it.

Like “Shadow Me,” which is on the list of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Hoodoo Gurus Division, and yet is a song that I expect to get little to no reaction when I post it. But I don’t even care: except for the utterly god-like “Bittersweet,” it’s my favorite Hoodoo Gurus song, and pretty much always has been.

Opening with an electric guitar lick falling from the heavens like a warm healing rain, “Shadow Me” is a straight-out unabashed love song from the get go.

I was counting on you being there,
Hoping you would shield me from the glare
Shadow me, shadow me, shadow me
I have lived in shadows all my life

Featuring what is probably a Hammond organ, and Brad Shephard’s gorgeous feedback-drenched guitar weaving in and out, “Shadow Me” features ghostly backing vocals supporting Dave Faulkner.

(Shaaadowwwww)
Shadow me
(Shaaaadowwww)
Shadow me
(Shaaaadowwww)
Shadow me
I have lived in shadows all my life

And while it plays like a ballad, it’s a mid-tempo rocker that builds and builds but never actually explode. Rather, “Shadow Me” is content to let us swim in its overwhelming beauty, letting Dave Faulkner sing about ancient mariners as the guitars fall like rain, the vocals whisper magic and all I can do is melt.

“Shadow Me”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #625: Hoodoo Gurus – “Shadow Me” appeared first on Booksquare.

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6. Certain Songs #624: Hoodoo Gurus – “Come Anytime”

hoodoo gurus come anytime Album: Magnum Cum Louder
Year: 1989

After the massive utterly 1980s sound of Blow Your Cool! didn’t raise their profile one whit in America, the Hoodoo Gurus retrenched a bit, changed record labels, and followed it with the more restrained Magnum Cum Louder.

Of course, that “restrained” is relative, but at least the drums sounded like drums again, and the spaces between the acoustic guitars and electric guitars were more defined.

And Magnum Cum Louder sported their only #1 U.S. Modern Rock song (for whatever that’s worth), the pure pop “Come Anytime.”

A love song about sex, or a sex song about love, “Come Anytime” featured a prominent acoustic guitar riff dueling with an electric guitar hook, and featured what was a new instrument for the Gurus, an organ floating throughout.

And, of course, one of their trademarks, the call-and-response chorus:

Come anytime
(Come anytime)
I won’t give you pressure
Come anytime
(Come anytime)
I can wait forever
And if you can’t make up your mind
We could make it up together

Featuring a clever arrangement that has the song start over when the chorus ends, more velocity than you might expect, and an invocation of The Handclap Rule near the end, “Come Anytime” was no less of a power-pop classic than “I Want You Back” or “Bittersweet.”

Or at least that’s how I see it now: I’m not sure I appreciated “Come Anytime” as much in 1989 as I do now. Maybe because I was taking their excellence for granted at the time, as opposed to reveling in it.

Official video for “Come Anytime”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #624: Hoodoo Gurus – “Come Anytime” appeared first on Booksquare.

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7. Certain Songs #623: Hoodoo Gurus – “Party Machine”

Hoodoo Gurus-Blow_Your_Cool Album: Blow Your Cool!
Year: 1987

Here’s a rule: if you’re going to have the temerity to name a song “Party Machine,” then it damn well better sound like one hell of a party.

Luckily, that’s a rule that the Hoodoo Gurus knew quite well, and so “Party Machine” ends Blow Your Cool! with an utterly raucous blast of full-on good timey energy.

Kicking off with nothing but Mark Kingsmill’s overly reverbed kick and snare drums, “Party Machine” pretty much starts in fourth gear, with Dave Faulkner pointing out that it’s Friday night and he’s getting to rev up the Gurumobile.

Because of course the Hoodoo Gurus have a Gurumobile. How else are they going to get the The Bangles to the party and sing backing vocals.

Oh, and just for the sheer fuck of it, they lift the guitar riff from “Gloria” for the chorus, because did I mention that this was a party, where everybody is singing and clapping their hands and somebody is playing bongos and somebody else is blowing a harmonica, because why not!

In the end, there’s a rave-up, as Faulkner and the rest of the Gurus and the Bangles (and I think half of the Dream Syndicate) are all screaming back and forth with each other.

I say, where have you been?
Where have you been?
(ON THE PARTY MACHINE!)
(ON THE PARTY MACHINE!)
I say, what did you see?
What did you see?
(EVERYTHING!) Uh-huh
(EVERYTHING!) Uh-huh
(EVERYTHING!) Oh yeah
(EVERYTHING!) Say more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more

And at this point the song just starts speeding out of control until it finally crashes into a wall. On one hand, of course, it’s all very silly, but on a much more important hand it reminds me that some of the best times I’ll ever have with music involve just pure and utter release, and “Party Machine” absolutely invokes that.

“Party Machine”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #623: Hoodoo Gurus – “Party Machine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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8. Certain Songs #623: Hoodoo Gurus – “Party Machine”

Hoodoo Gurus-Blow_Your_Cool Album: Blow Your Cool!
Year: 1987

Here’s a rule: if you’re going to have the temerity to name a song “Party Machine,” then it damn well better sound like one hell of a party.

Luckily, that’s a rule that the Hoodoo Gurus knew quite well, and so “Party Machine” ends Blow Your Cool! with an utterly raucous blast of full-on good timey energy.

Kicking off with nothing but Mark Kingsmill’s overly reverbed kick and snare drums, “Party Machine” pretty much starts in fourth gear, with Dave Faulkner pointing out that it’s Friday night and he’s getting to rev up the Gurumobile.

Because of course the Hoodoo Gurus have a Gurumobile. How else are they going to get the The Bangles to the party and sing backing vocals.

Oh, and just for the sheer fuck of it, they lift the guitar riff from “Gloria” for the chorus, because did I mention that this was a party, where everybody is singing and clapping their hands and somebody is playing bongos and somebody else is blowing a harmonica, because why not!

In the end, there’s a rave-up, as Faulkner and the rest of the Gurus and the Bangles (and I think half of the Dream Syndicate) are all screaming back and forth with each other.

I say, where have you been?
Where have you been?
(ON THE PARTY MACHINE!)
(ON THE PARTY MACHINE!)
I say, what did you see?
What did you see?
(EVERYTHING!) Uh-huh
(EVERYTHING!) Uh-huh
(EVERYTHING!) Oh yeah
(EVERYTHING!) Say more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more
(EVERYTHING!) And more

And at this point the song just starts speeding out of control until it finally crashes into a wall. On one hand, of course, it’s all very silly, but on a much more important hand it reminds me that some of the best times I’ll ever have with music involve just pure and utter release, and “Party Machine” absolutely invokes that.

“Party Machine”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #623: Hoodoo Gurus – “Party Machine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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9. Certain Songs #622: Hoodoo Gurus – “Out That Door”

Hoodoo Gurus-Blow_Your_Cool Album: Blow Your Cool!
Year: 1987

1987 was probably my favorite year of music in the 1980s, and one of the reasons for that was the third straight winner by the Hoodoo Gurus, Blow Your Cool!, which at the time I felt was their most consistent album, even if it admittedly didn’t quite hit the highs of their previous two records.

That said, I’m also now horrified by the terrible terrible 1980’s production, which makes Mark Kingsmill’s snare drum sound like it was miked at the bottom of a metal trash can that was then set on fire.

You can hear those drums at the outset of the the opening track, “Out That Door,” which starts off with a big Phil Spector beat, and then builds and builds throughout the first verse into a huge, stirring chorus.

And I’m out that door
(Out that door)
I’m out that door
(If you call)
But I’m not sure
When we decided not to care for each other anymore.

This, of course, was the result of Elektra pairing them up with a big-name producer, so the whole record was bathed in swaths of reverb, making it much more massive sounding then the previous records.

But I didn’t mind: the massiveness seemed to suit a song like “Out That Door,” and the standard Gurus templates of Dave Faulkner’s sense of melody and Brad Shephard’s guitar hooks were still all right there. Yeah, in retrospect, it might seem like a bit too much, but I still love it.

“Out That Door”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #622: Hoodoo Gurus – “Out That Door” appeared first on Booksquare.

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10. Certain Songs #622: Hoodoo Gurus – “Out That Door”

Hoodoo Gurus-Blow_Your_Cool Album: Blow Your Cool!
Year: 1987

1987 was probably my favorite year of music in the 1980s, and one of the reasons for that was the third straight winner by the Hoodoo Gurus, Blow Your Cool!, which at the time I felt was their most consistent album, even if it admittedly didn’t quite hit the highs of their previous two records.

That said, I’m also now horrified by the terrible terrible 1980’s production, which makes Mark Kingsmill’s snare drum sound like it was miked at the bottom of a metal trash can that was then set on fire.

You can hear those drums at the outset of the the opening track, “Out That Door,” which starts off with a big Phil Spector beat, and then builds and builds throughout the first verse into a huge, stirring chorus.

And I’m out that door
(Out that door)
I’m out that door
(If you call)
But I’m not sure
When we decided not to care for each other anymore.

This, of course, was the result of Elektra pairing them up with a big-name producer, so the whole record was bathed in swaths of reverb, making it much more massive sounding then the previous records.

But I didn’t mind: the massiveness seemed to suit a song like “Out That Door,” and the standard Gurus templates of Dave Faulkner’s sense of melody and Brad Shephard’s guitar hooks were still all right there. Yeah, in retrospect, it might seem like a bit too much, but I still love it.

“Out That Door”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #622: Hoodoo Gurus – “Out That Door” appeared first on Booksquare.

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11. Certain Songs #621: Hoodoo Gurus – “Like Wow-Wipeout”

hoodoo gurus like wow Album: Mars Needs Guitars!
Year: 1985

Mars Needs Guitars! was a weird beast. I loved the first side, but couldn’t stand the second side, which got away from their core strengths. Over the long decades, I’ve changed my mind somewhat, and enjoy a couple of songs from it now, but they still don’t compare to that first side.

And how could they?

Because the first side of Mars Needs Guitars! — starting off with “Bittersweet, barreling through “Poison Pen,” “In The Wild” and “Death Defying” before climaxing with “Like Wow-Wipeout” — was as fantastic of a side of a record as anybody put out in 1985.

Powered by Mark Kingsmill’s dumb-but-fun surfer cheerleading drumbeat battling an equally dumb-but-fun guitar riff, “Like Wow-Wipeout” is a flat-out party song, alternating that drumbeat on the verses with a chorus where Dave Faulker lists everything he loves about his girl.

I love the way you talk, (ahhhh)
You walk (ahhhh)
You smile (ahhhh)
Your style (ahhhh)
Like now (ahhhh)
Like wow (ahhhh)
Wipeout (ahhhh)
No doubt (ahhhh)
But I was gone the moment I laid eyes on you

Naturally, the “ahhhhs” are the key ingredient for the chorus, along with Kingsmill’s groovy backbeat, so it doesn’t really matter what Faulkner’s singing, just as long everybody else kicks in with those “ahhhhs.” But it’s kinda cool that it’s a declaration of instant and eternal devotion.

And, of course, the last line of the chorus builds and builds a little bit more each time they get to it, then, after the third chorus — and a couple of modulations, natch — Dave Faulkner really stretches it out while the rest of the band aimlessly meanders around him, just waiting to see what happens next.

I was gone the moment I laid
Eyeeeeees on you
I laid eyes on you
I laid eyyeeeeeees
On you

And WHAM! Kingsmill takes off into a into a lightspeed double-time with the rest of the band chasing him down before he drives them all into a wall. Almost instantly, both Faulkner and Brad Shepherd figure that their only choices are guitar solos.

And that’s how “Like Wow-Wipeout” ends: the entire band hurtling forward until they fall right off of a cliff.

Apparently all of this madness resulted in the Gurus biggest single in Australia to date, and my close personal friends The Miss Alans used to play a kick-ass version as well.

Official Video for “Like Wow-Wipeout”

“Like Wow-Wipeout” performed live in 2011

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #621: Hoodoo Gurus – “Like Wow-Wipeout” appeared first on Booksquare.

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12. Certain Songs #620: Hoodoo Gurus – “Bittersweet”

Hoodoo Gurus Bittersweet Album: Mars Needs Guitars!
Year: 1985

Yes. “Bittersweet.” One of the greatest songs of the 1980s, full stop. Why in the holy hell isn’t it recognized around the world as such?

Right. Why do I keep asking that question when I lived through the answer?

But, gentle readers, it’s sometimes rough taking this journey through the past and digging into a song like “Bittersweet” and knowing that every single person ever hasn’t heard it and can’t celebrate it with me. I mean, talk about bittersweet.

From its slow opening build to its all-hands-on-deck fadeout, “Bittersweet” is everything I could want from a pop song: smart, catchy and ever-changing while hewing to a steady central riff.

A musical descendent from the always-fruitful “Sweet Jane” tree, “Bittersweet” establishes its basic riff early on as Dave Faulkner sings about a relationship gone sour and at exactly the right moment, his bandmates lend him support:

(Don’t cryyyyyyy)
I couldn’t be that strong
(Don’t cryyyyyyy)
That used to be my favorite song
(Don’t crryyyyy)
Tears so bittersweet
Fill my eyes whenever we meet
It’s always bittersweet

With new drummer Mark Kingsmill lagging behind the beat while the rest of the band modulates every few bars, “Bittersweet” maintains a sense of continuous forward motion and ever-increasing excitement without ever breaking a sweat.

All the better for Brad Shepherd to lay on a melodic solo after the second chorus and later, zoom in with a stinging, chordal solo at the end of the song. By that time, “Bittersweet” has already stuck itself deep into both your heart and your head.

Simple, beautiful, and seemingly effortless.

I say “seemingly,” because we tried covering this once in Sedan Delivery, but I could never quite wrap my head around where the drums fit in with the guitars.

Official video for “Bittersweet”

“Bittersweet” performed live in 2012

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
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13. Certain Songs #619: Hoodoo Gurus – “My Girl”

hoodoo gurus my girl Album: Stoneage Romeos
Year: 1984

“My Girl” was the last song on the U.S. version of Stoneage Romeos, and — for me, at least — was a stellar ending to an album that completely resonated with my circle of friends.

How much did it resonate? It came in #4 on KFSRs year-end DJ poll, behind R.E.M., The Toy Dolls & XTC, and beating out The Smiths & U2.

An offshoot of the “Hang on Sloopy” branch of the “Louie Louie” family tree, “My Girl” starts out with just a couple of quiet chords as Dave Faulkner sings his sad tale of woe, but almost instantly builds into a chorus that is as musically uplifting on anything else on the album.

It’s a perfect contrast with the lyrics of the second verse.

I took her to the dance
And then I didn’t see her all night.
Then a friend said he saw her
With some other boy just outside.
When I went out she was alone.
She said, “I would like to go home”
I asked her, “Who were you with?”
She said, “No-one.”
I could tell that she lied
(And a voice said inside)

My girl don’t love me at all
(Myyyy girl)
My girl don’t love me at all
Anymore

After that verse, Brad Shepherd kicks in with a low-down guitar solo, and then twists it around as the song builds towards a big, glorious finale where everybody is joyously singing about Dave Faulkner’s romantic issues.

Which weren’t really his, as Faulkner said that it was more of a love song about love songs, a tribute to all of the sad love songs of the 1960s that he loved. Which is probably why it felt timeless then, and still feels timeless now.

“My Girl”

Official video for “My Girl” (bad sound)

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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14. Certain Songs #618: Hoodoo Gurus – “(Let’s All) Turn On”

hoodoo gurus - stoneage romeos Album: Stoneage Romeos
Year: 1984

So here’s a thing I just learned: Dave Faulkner, lead singer and principle song writer for those Hoodoo Gurus, is now a pop music critic for The Saturday Paper in Australia.

Which is doubly good, because one thing I like is knowing where a music critic is coming from, and I’ve known exactly where Faulkner is coming from since the first time I heard the searing “(Let’s All) Turn On” back in 1984.

“Shake Some Action”
“Psychotic Reaction”
No satisfaction
“Sky Pilot,”
Sky Saxon
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

“Blitzkrieg Bop”
Do the Jailhouse Rock
“Stop, Stop”
“At The Hop”
Do the Blue-jean pop
That’s what I like
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

A non-punk song done at punk speed, featuring a circular repeating bassline and guitar riff, “(Let’s All) Turn On” attempts to cram all of the energy of all of these songs into a single song, which means a plethora of guitar leads, drum builds and even a harmonica wailing away throughout.

“Born To Lose”
Those summertime blues
In blue suede shoes
The Hoodoo Gurus
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

“Waiting for My Man”
Baby, can the can
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
Remember Sam The Sham?
That’s what I like
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

One one hand, “(Let’s All) Turn On” is nothing more than a glorified list, but on the other hand, it’s also a pre-emptive strike on the inevitable “so, what are your influences” question. Because they’re all right there in the song.

“When You Walk in The Room”
“Sunny Afternoon”
A-wop-bop a-loo-bop,
A-lop-bam-boom
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

“Sugar Sugar”
“Talk Talk”
“Money Honey”
Boardwalk
Who wears short shorts?
(We wear short shorts)
That’s what I like
That’s what I like
That’s what I like

Walking the line between completely nonsensical and totally essential, (“Let’s All) Turn On” is also part of a glorious tradition of super-rocking list songs that include Deep Purple’s “Speed King” and R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

So let’s all turn on!

“(Let’s All) Turn On”

“(Let’s All) Turn On” performed live in 1987

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15. Certain Songs #617: Hoodoo Gurus – “I Want You Back”

hoodoo gurus i want you back Album: Stoneage Romeos
Year: 1984

Here’s what I’m hoping: there is somebody reading this — maybe one of those Millennials that are all in the news these days — who has never heard of the Hoodoo Gurus, and will click on this post and hear this song and fall in love with it the same way we all did back in 1984.

Perfectly straddling the line between power pop and garage rock, Australia’s awesome Hoodoo Gurus felt like a breath of fresh air; in the 30-odd years since then, they’ve never stopped churning out high-quality rock ‘n’ roll.

In my review of Stoneage Romeos — one of my very first published reviews ever — in The Daily Collegian, I described them thusly:

The Hoodoo Gurus’ debut album Stoneage Romeos falls into the un-category of “Guitar Bands That Play Loud Pop Music That Is Sort Of Familiar If You Like The Sixties But Is Still Fresh And New For Right Now. Oh Yeah, Lots Of Fun, Too.”

And, in fact, a song like “I Want You Back” still sounds fresh. And nothing like the old Jackson 5 single with which it shared a name.

Instead, it kicks off with a tangle of electric and acoustic guitars, a big bouncy bassline, as lead singer Dave Faulkner describes a relationship gone sour.

The guitars build and ring throughout the verse until they’re jangling every which way when suddenly the song breaks down into a stop-time part with the drums rumbling all around as Faulkner sings:

That’s her, I’ll never believe her again.
She might have deceived all my friends
I know they will see in the end
What it all means when she says (yeah!)

And this point, the song builds into its indelible call-and-response chorus, which rang loud and true from every college radio station in the country that fall.

(I, I, I) want you back
(I, I, I) want you back
(I, I, I) I want you
She says (she says)
She says (she says)
She says (she says)
She sayyyyyyyys yeah yeah!

That’s lead guitarist Brad Shepherd singing with Faulkner on the chorus, while also providing guitar commentary throughout the song, including a great twangy solo after the first chorus just to calm everybody down a bit.

In 1984, I was still hopeful that a song as well-conceived, catchy and brilliantly performed could become a massive hit single all over the world, which of course it wasn’t, except in the same universe that it followed “I Will Dare” “Hero Takes a Fall” and “So. Central Rain” to the top ten.

In any event, “I Want You Back” was a helluva start to their career.

“I Want You Back”

“I Want You Back” performed live in 1987

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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16. Certain Songs #617: Hoodoo Gurus – “I Want You Back”

hoodoo gurus i want you back Album: Stoneage Romeos
Year: 1984

Here’s what I’m hoping: there is somebody reading this — maybe one of those Millennials that are all in the news these days — who has never heard of the Hoodoo Gurus, and will click on this post and hear this song and fall in love with it the same way we all did back in 1984.

Perfectly straddling the line between power pop and garage rock, Australia’s awesome Hoodoo Gurus felt like a breath of fresh air; in the 30-odd years since then, they’ve never stopped churning out high-quality rock ‘n’ roll.

In my review of Stoneage Romeos — one of my very first published reviews ever — in The Daily Collegian, I described them thusly:

The Hoodoo Gurus’ debut album Stoneage Romeos falls into the un-category of “Guitar Bands That Play Loud Pop Music That Is Sort Of Familiar If You Like The Sixties But Is Still Fresh And New For Right Now. Oh Yeah, Lots Of Fun, Too.”

And, in fact, a song like “I Want You Back” still sounds fresh. And nothing like the old Jackson 5 single with which it shared a name.

Instead, it kicks off with a tangle of electric and acoustic guitars, a big bouncy bassline, as lead singer Dave Faulkner describes a relationship gone sour.

The guitars build and ring throughout the verse until they’re jangling every which way when suddenly the song breaks down into a stop-time part with the drums rumbling all around as Faulkner sings:

That’s her, I’ll never believe her again.
She might have deceived all my friends
I know they will see in the end
What it all means when she says (yeah!)

And this point, the song builds into its indelible call-and-response chorus, which rang loud and true from every college radio station in the country that fall.

(I, I, I) want you back
(I, I, I) want you back
(I, I, I) I want you
She says (she says)
She says (she says)
She says (she says)
She sayyyyyyyys yeah yeah!

That’s lead guitarist Brad Shepherd singing with Faulkner on the chorus, while also providing guitar commentary throughout the song, including a great twangy solo after the first chorus just to calm everybody down a bit.

In 1984, I was still hopeful that a song as well-conceived, catchy and brilliantly performed could become a massive hit single all over the world, which of course it wasn’t, except in the same universe that it followed “I Will Dare” “Hero Takes a Fall” and “So. Central Rain” to the top ten.

In any event, “I Want You Back” was a helluva start to their career.

“I Want You Back”

“I Want You Back” performed live in 1987

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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17. Certain Songs #616: The Honeydogs – “Sour Grapes”

honeydogs here's luck Album: Here’s Luck
Year: 2001

I first became aware of The Honeydogs due to a controversy on the AOL Replacements boards in the mid-1990s, which were never quite as great as the Prodigy Replacements boards, despite many of the same people frequenting both.

Anyways, I think that the controversy revolved around somebody on the boards who was continually talking about The Honeydogs (who were at least from Minneapolis, so there was some ‘mats connection) being suspected or revealed as being from their record company.

Tres scandale!

In any event, I guess she did her job, because The Honeydogs were put on my radar, and I bought a couple of their albums, 1997’s Seen a Ghost and 2001’s Here’s Luck, and while the former is a better album, the latter has their best song, the incandescent “Sour Grapes.”

“Sour Grapes” is one of those songs that lives for Beatlesque chorus, and frontman Adam Levy packs a lifetime’s worth of psychedelic pop into that chorus, and it’s almost impossible not to sing along with it by the time it’s over.

Sour grapes
Yeah, we’ve got them
Don’t need rain
Just a glass of water
Yeah, It’s lonely at the bottom
It takes everything I’ve got
From sinking like a stone

By the end of the song, with the drums double-timing into a modulation and the guitars are squealing both forwards and backwards, it’s all so joyful-sounding you completely forget that it’s a song about jealousy.

BTW, the video is awesome, one of those that purports to (and hell, might) be a single take, with the camera circling around the band as they perform the song. At the very least, it should have made “Sour Grapes” an alt-rock hit.

Official video for “Sour Grapes”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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18. Certain Songs #615: Holly & The Italians – “Rock Against Romance”

Holly & The Italians - The Right To Be Italian - 1981 Album: The Right To Be Italian
Year: 1981

All these years later, if anybody remembers Holly Beth Vincent, it’s probably as the writer of “Tell That Girl To Shut Up,” which was a minor hit single for fellow members of the “Where Are They Now?” file, Transvision Vamp.

But in 1981, in the wake of the Pretenders and, lets be honest, Pat Benatar, vaguely new-wavish looking chicks fronting vaguely new-wavish bands felt like it could be a huge thing, thus the hype surrounding the debut album by Holly & The Italians, The Right to Be Italian.

And as much as I’d love to report that The Right To Be Italian is a long-lost classic, I never really loved it that much, though I gave it numerous chances over the years, mostly because the one song that truly got me, the is-what-it-says-it-is “Rock Against Romance,” burns as bright as ever 35 years later.

An anthem from the start, featuring long soaring guitar lines over an churning rhythm, “Rock Against Romance” — the title itself an allusion to Britain’s contemporary Rock Against Racism movement — takes its sweet time getting to the first verse, which Vincent sings against the wake the song has already created.

Don’t
come
any
closer
than
that
which
the
law
allows

Over-enunciating every single syllable in order to make sure we’re paying attention, Holly ain’t fucking around here, and when she gets to the chorus, the switch to singing in a normal cadence is almost jarring.

For you, from me, got nothing
For you, from me, that’s all
That’s all
I will not vi-o-late you
But I’ll help you load your gun

At least that’s what I think she’s singing. There aren’t any lyrics for “Rock Against Romance” out there on the internet, and I’m transcribing while listening to it over and over again, so I could be wrong.

What I’m not wrong about is the last minute of the song, where the mood actually shifts to hopeful, and the dudes in the Italians come in on one of those massed punk rock choirs singing the last verse over and over again:

Someone told me once
There really is a wonderland
Do you think so?
Could it be so?
Oh I hope so

And while they’re singing this over and over again, Holly is singing “WONDERLANNNNNNNND” over and over and over as a counterpoint and “Rock Against Romance” ratchets higher and higher and higher and until it finally collapses on a far more hopeful note than it started.

“Rock Against Romance”

“Rock Against Romance performed live

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19. Certain Songs #611: Hole – “Doll Parts”

Hole Doll+Parts Album: Live Through This
Year: 1994

Perfectly capturing that disassociation when you like someone and you’re not sure they like you back, “Doll Parts” features drums that continually start and stop, like when you’re at a party or a show and you keep starting to walk over to talk that person, but then you catch yourself, and turn back around.

It’s also got some of Courtney Love’s most iconic lyrics.

I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache

Every single one of the lines in that chorus could its own song, but of course the most famous is probably the most damming: “I fake it so real, I am beyond fake” gets right down to the essence of not just Courtney, but art in general.

Right now, I’m just faking that I have anything new and profound to say about this song beyond “I really love it,” but that’s a given, and the point of these posts is why I like the songs, so I’m making with the fakery in the blind hope that I stumble across something, anything that will make sense.

I do this a lot, and I think that’s one of the things that attracts me to Courtney Love’s best songs: the feeling that she’s desperately searching to express something real in the songs, but at the same time, she’s so incredibly self-aware that she’s always putting on a show, knowing damn well that we know she’s putting on a show.

It’s a dizzying level of meta, and in the overly sincere pop moment of the mid-1990s, that kind of meta — totally real, ironically — was utterly verboten, and just gave the Courtney-haters the kind of ammunition that they needed.

Official video for “Doll Parts”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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20. Certain Songs #611: Hole – “Doll Parts”

Hole Doll+Parts Album: Live Through This
Year: 1994

Perfectly capturing that disassociation when you like someone and you’re not sure they like you back, “Doll Parts” features drums that continually start and stop, like when you’re at a party or a show and you keep starting to walk over to talk that person, but then you catch yourself, and turn back around.

It’s also got some of Courtney Love’s most iconic lyrics.

I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache

Every single one of the lines in that chorus could its own song, but of course the most famous is probably the most damming: “I fake it so real, I am beyond fake” gets right down to the essence of not just Courtney, but art in general.

Right now, I’m just faking that I have anything new and profound to say about this song beyond “I really love it,” but that’s a given, and the point of these posts is why I like the songs, so I’m making with the fakery in the blind hope that I stumble across something, anything that will make sense.

I do this a lot, and I think that’s one of the things that attracts me to Courtney Love’s best songs: the feeling that she’s desperately searching to express something real in the songs, but at the same time, she’s so incredibly self-aware that she’s always putting on a show, knowing damn well that we know she’s putting on a show.

It’s a dizzying level of meta, and in the overly sincere pop moment of the mid-1990s, that kind of meta — totally real, ironically — was utterly verboten, and just gave the Courtney-haters the kind of ammunition that they needed.

Official video for “Doll Parts”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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21. Certain Songs #612: Hole – “Celebrity Skin”

Hole Celebrity Skin (Single) Album: Celebrity Skin
Year: 1998

If Live Through This was already scandalous because of its (relative) polish, then the big, brassy and glossy Celebrity Skin was tantamount to high treason against indie ideals.

Not that Courtney Love gave a fuck: the circumstances surrounding Live Through This and Kurt Cobain’s suicide had made her infamous, something she milked on AOL as well as the subsequent tour, and her performance on The People Vs. Larry Flynt threatened to make that infamy tip over into actual fame.

So damn straight she was going to make Celebrity Skin as accessible as possible, even corralling Billy Corgan as a ringer and fellow heretic, because this was her shot to be the biggest rock star in the world, which I think would have been more subversive than remaking Pretty on the Inside for the third or fourth time.

And while Celebrity Skin was both a critical and commercial success, there was just too much shit swirling around it to be world-conquering. Even at the time, I thought that it could have benefited from a bit of editing, as the back half wasn’t nearly as good as the first half, which kicks off with the rip-roaring title track.

Over a heavily Corganized riff, Courtney picks up right where she left off:

Oh, make me over
I’m all I want to be
A walking study
In demonology

Hey, so glad you could make it
Yeah, now you really made it
Hey, so glad you could make it now

With guitars being piled upon guitars, and Courtney’s vocals processed so much they were beyond process, “Celebrity Skin” was all shine and polish, stopping and starting with abandon until it dropped into its biggest hook of all:

When I wake up in my makeup
Have you ever felt so used up as this?
It’s all so sugarless
Hooker, waitress, model, actress
Oh, just go nameless

With the guitars jangling not crunching, and Melissa Auf Der Maur singing “la-di-las” in the background, it was all so completely calculated that it shouldn’t have worked at all. But of course, it was also perfectly calculated so couldn’t help but work, especially as a contrast to the legions of guitars that dominated the rest of the song.

For me, who was already predisposed towards liking Courtney Love, and already kinda sick of the the holier-than-thou indie snobbery that I’d encountered on the internet, “Celebrity Skin” was utter catnip.

Official Video for “Celebrity Skin”

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22. Certain Songs #614: The Hollies – “Pay You Back With Interest”

Hollies - Pay You Back With Interest Album: For Certain Because
Year: 1966

I wasn’t ever a huge Hollies fan.

Sure, they had a lot of singles on the radio when I was a kid, but by that time, but none of the biggest ones — “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “The Air That I Breathe,” “Bus Stop,” even “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” — really grabbed me all that much.

So I never really investigated their catalog the same way I did with a lot of their British Invasion contemporaries. (And tbh, I was never all that into the pop-oriented British Invasion bands like I was into the heavy rockers).

It was only after I fell in love with The Posies version of “King Midas in Reverse” that I went back to investigate, and subsequently discovered the charms of songs like “Carrie Anne,” “Jennifer Eccles” and “Pay You Back With Interest.”

Starting off with a piano so closely miked that it sounds like it’s coming from inside of the strings, “Pay You Back With Interest” winds its way through a 6/8 opening section on the verses, a bridge that coulda come from Happy Jack and ends up with the trademark Hollies harmonies battling it out with gigantic bells.

All in support of lead Alan Clarke’s tale of a guy who wants his girl to wait around for him while he tomcats around. If she lets him do that, he’ll pay her back with interest, a clever enough turn of phrase that should really give her some pause.

Maybe that’s why “Pay You Back With Interest” barely scraped the top 30 here in the U.S. and wasn’t even released as a single in the U.K.

“Pay You Back With Interest”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
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23. Certain Songs #613: Hole – “Boys on The Radio”

hole celebrity skin Album: Celebrity Skin
Year: 1998

I mentioned this in my post on “Violet,” but in December 1994, Hole played Live 105’s “Green Christmas” being broadcast live from Berkeley, which I stayed home on a Friday just to tape off of the radio.

I was rewarded with a pretty ferocious and barely-together performance that twice featured a new song that seemed to be written in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide & Hole bassist Kristen Pflaff’s OD, especially since it had the following lyric:

He said I’d never ever ever never go away
He said he’d always always he would always stay
They said they’d never ever never go away
They said they’d always always they would always stay

I found it incredibly aching, and wrote it down on the cassette label as “Never Go,” and was a little bit surprised when it turned up on their MTV Unplugged performance as “Sugar Coma,” and hoped that if they recorded it for the follow-up to Live Through This, it would have oomph than that particular performance.

What I didn’t count on was a complete revamp that ended up being my favorite Hole song, the ridiculously catchy “Boys on The Radio,” which takes the ache that powered “Never Go / Sugar Coma” and turns it inside out in with a multi-tracked chorus of Courtney Loves and Melissa Auf der Mars singing like the goddesses’ own angels:

All the boys on the radio
They crash and burn
They fold and fade so slow
In your endless summer night
I’ll be on the other side
When you’re beautiful and dying
All the world that you’ve denied
When the water is too deep
You can close your eyes
And really sleep tonight
Tonight

With Courtney’s crunchy rhythm guitar providing a platform for Eric Erlandson’s to toss siren-like hooks every which way, the chorus of “Boys on the Radio” is about how music can help us through shitty times, not exactly a new concept, but who cares when it’s this well done?

And I haven’t even gotten to the stop-time part. About halfway through the song, they repurpose the “never go” lyrics from 1994 and turn them into a multi-tracked overdubbed vocal juxtaposition worthy of “Fall on Me” or “Pilgrimage.”

Building and building and building.

He said he’d never, ever, ever go
And heavens, heavens, heavens know
And never, ever, ever go away
Baby

And just for a second, all of the music stops and sighs, before it continues.

I’ve gone away

And before they can finish the line, the chorus of angels swoops back in singing about “endless summer nights” and it’s gorgeous and transcendent and a million miles away from the fear and anger and aching that had to be at the root of the original song, and suddenly “Boys on the Radio” isn’t just about music as redemption as concept, it’s about music as redemption as fact.

It also just might be Rox’s favorite musical moment ever, as it’s not come up in the mix even once in the past decades without her singing along to it.

“Boys on the Radio”

“Boys on the Radio” performed live in 1999

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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The post Certain Songs #613: Hole – “Boys on The Radio” appeared first on Booksquare.

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24. Certain Songs #613: Hole – “Boys on The Radio”

hole celebrity skin Album: Celebrity Skin
Year: 1998

I mentioned this in my post on “Violet,” but in December 1994, Hole played Live 105’s “Green Christmas” being broadcast live from Berkeley, which I stayed home on a Friday just to tape off of the radio.

I was rewarded with a pretty ferocious and barely-together performance that twice featured a new song that seemed to be written in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide & Hole bassist Kristen Pflaff’s OD, especially since it had the following lyric:

He said I’d never ever ever never go away
He said he’d always always he would always stay
They said they’d never ever never go away
They said they’d always always they would always stay

I found it incredibly aching, and wrote it down on the cassette label as “Never Go,” and was a little bit surprised when it turned up on their MTV Unplugged performance as “Sugar Coma,” and hoped that if they recorded it for the follow-up to Live Through This, it would have oomph than that particular performance.

What I didn’t count on was a complete revamp that ended up being my favorite Hole song, the ridiculously catchy “Boys on The Radio,” which takes the ache that powered “Never Go / Sugar Coma” and turns it inside out in with a multi-tracked chorus of Courtney Loves and Melissa Auf der Mars singing like the goddesses’ own angels:

All the boys on the radio
They crash and burn
They fold and fade so slow
In your endless summer night
I’ll be on the other side
When you’re beautiful and dying
All the world that you’ve denied
When the water is too deep
You can close your eyes
And really sleep tonight
Tonight

With Courtney’s crunchy rhythm guitar providing a platform for Eric Erlandson’s to toss siren-like hooks every which way, the chorus of “Boys on the Radio” is about how music can help us through shitty times, not exactly a new concept, but who cares when it’s this well done?

And I haven’t even gotten to the stop-time part. About halfway through the song, they repurpose the “never go” lyrics from 1994 and turn them into a multi-tracked overdubbed vocal juxtaposition worthy of “Fall on Me” or “Pilgrimage.”

Building and building and building.

He said he’d never, ever, ever go
And heavens, heavens, heavens know
And never, ever, ever go away
Baby

And just for a second, all of the music stops and sighs, before it continues.

I’ve gone away

And before they can finish the line, the chorus of angels swoops back in singing about “endless summer nights” and it’s gorgeous and transcendent and a million miles away from the fear and anger and aching that had to be at the root of the original song, and suddenly “Boys on the Radio” isn’t just about music as redemption as concept, it’s about music as redemption as fact.

It also just might be Rox’s favorite musical moment ever, as it’s not come up in the mix even once in the past decades without her singing along to it.

“Boys on the Radio”

“Boys on the Radio” performed live in 1999

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #613: Hole – “Boys on The Radio” appeared first on Booksquare.

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25. Certain Songs #615: Holly & The Italians – “Rock Against Romance”

Holly & The Italians - The Right To Be Italian - 1981 Album: The Right To Be Italian
Year: 1981

All these years later, if anybody remembers Holly Beth Vincent, it’s probably as the writer of “Tell That Girl To Shut Up,” which was a minor hit single for fellow members of the “Where Are They Now?” file, Transvision Vamp.

But in 1981, in the wake of the Pretenders and, lets be honest, Pat Benatar, vaguely new-wavish looking chicks fronting vaguely new-wavish bands felt like it could be a huge thing, thus the hype surrounding the debut album by Holly & The Italians, The Right to Be Italian.

And as much as I’d love to report that The Right To Be Italian is a long-lost classic, I never really loved it that much, though I gave it numerous chances over the years, mostly because the one song that truly got me, the is-what-it-says-it-is “Rock Against Romance,” burns as bright as ever 35 years later.

An anthem from the start, featuring long soaring guitar lines over an churning rhythm, “Rock Against Romance” — the title itself an allusion to Britain’s contemporary Rock Against Racism movement — takes its sweet time getting to the first verse, which Vincent sings against the wake the song has already created.

Don’t
come
any
closer
than
that
which
the
law
allows

Over-enunciating every single syllable in order to make sure we’re paying attention, Holly ain’t fucking around here, and when she gets to the chorus, the switch to singing in a normal cadence is almost jarring.

For you, from me, got nothing
For you, from me, that’s all
That’s all
I will not vi-o-late you
But I’ll help you load your gun

At least that’s what I think she’s singing. There aren’t any lyrics for “Rock Against Romance” out there on the internet, and I’m transcribing while listening to it over and over again, so I could be wrong.

What I’m not wrong about is the last minute of the song, where the mood actually shifts to hopeful, and the dudes in the Italians come in on one of those massed punk rock choirs singing the last verse over and over again:

Someone told me once
There really is a wonderland
Do you think so?
Could it be so?
Oh I hope so

And while they’re singing this over and over again, Holly is singing “WONDERLANNNNNNNND” over and over and over as a counterpoint and “Rock Against Romance” ratchets higher and higher and higher and until it finally collapses on a far more hopeful note than it started.

“Rock Against Romance”

“Rock Against Romance performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #615: Holly & The Italians – “Rock Against Romance” appeared first on Booksquare.

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