Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Transplants - Diamonds and Guns

"Diamond and Guns" is a 2002 single by The Transplants and includes a memorable, unconventional piano hook and "woo woo" vocal samples.

This song is about Sierra Lione, and the 'blood diamond' mining tragedy there. The same as Kanye West's "Diamonds from Sierra Lione".

"No one lives forever, in fact we all die"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water

This 1972 song is known for and recognisable by its central theme, a four-note "blues scale" melody harmonised in parallel fourths. The riff, played on a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar by Ritchie Blackmore, is later joined by hi-hat and distorted organ, then drums, then electric bass parts before the start of Ian Gillan's vocal:

"We all came out to Montreux, on the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile, we didn't have much time"

Jon Lord doubles the guitar part on a Hammond B3 organ played through a distorted Marshall amp, creating a tone very similar to that of the guitar. Blackmore uses two fingers to pluck so the pairs of notes can be played exactly simultaneously, to match the organ's timing more closely.

(text from Wikipedia, read the whole article)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Styx - Boat On The River

From the 1979 Cornerstone album, Boat On The River was Styx' biggest European hit. The song features one of the most legendary mandolin solos in rock history, performed by guitarist Tommy Shaw.

In Greek mythology, Styx was a river which formed the bounday between Earth and Underworld.

Take me down to my boat on the river
I need to go down, I need to come down
Take me back to my boat on the river
And I won't cry out any more

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paul Hardcastle - 19

"19" is a song by British musician Paul Hardcastle released as the first single from his self-titled third studio album Paul Hardcastle (1985). The song features dialogue by television narrator Peter Thomas, and a strong anti-war message.

The track is about America's involvement in the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the soldiers who served. "19" features sampled dialogue and news reports from Vietnam Requiem, an ABC television documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by veterans.

The title "19" comes from the documentary's claim that the average age of an American combat soldier in the war was nineteen, as compared to the claim of World War II's 26. This claim has since been disputed. Undisputed statistics do not exist, although Southeast Asia Combat Area Casualties Current File (CACCF) shows a large number of deaths (38%) were ages 19 or 20.

The song also comments that while the tour of duty was longer during WWII, soldiers in Vietnam were subject to hostile enemy fire almost every day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

America - Horse With No Name

America's self-titled debut album was released initially in Europe with only moderate success and without the song "A Horse with No Name". Trying to find a song that would be popular in both the United States and Europe, "A Horse with No Name" was originally called "Desert Song".

Despite (or perhaps, because of) the song's being banned by some U.S. radio stations (including one in Kansas City) because of supposed drug references the song ascended to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the album quickly scored platinum.

The song has also been ridiculed for its banal, oddly phrased lyrics, including "The heat was hot"; "There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things"; and "Cause there ain't no-one for to give you no pain."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AC/DC - Thunderstruck

One cannot talk about this song in words. Period.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dio - Holy Diver

Dio is Ronnie James Dio, the replacement vocalist for Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. His solo career was far less successful than Ozzy's, and there is a mutual hatred between the two.

This song is about Satan, and his descent to Hell (his "dive"). The lyrics deal specifically with Revelations 12:9 where Satan was cast to the earth. The tiger is symbolic of the wild beast that comes out of the sea, as mentioned in Revelations 13:1.

There are two characters in this song: the tiger and the holy diver. The tiger is the Sun God ("the cat in the blue is coming after you, holy diver") and the holy diver is an ordinary person who sees the hypocrisy of religion ("the velvet lies") and finds himself lost ("in the midnight sea" or darkness). There are "shiny diamonds" or stars as if "the eyes of the cat" were in both "the black and blue" or night sky as well as day.

The impulse here is to get away from religion ("something is coming for you") but still seek that guiding light ("race for the morning"). The paradox is quickly realized ("you can hide in the Sun until you see the light"): that which he is running from he is also searching for. So, the conclusion is to "ride," "jump on," mount the tiger, taking personal control of his beliefs and rejecting organized religion.

Generally speaking, things are not always what they seem. (Is the demon on the cover drowning the priest, or the priest drowning the demon?) The tiger looks dirty but there is nothing wrong with him. You can feel his love, but don't let your guard down. Finding balance is a recurring theme in Dio's works.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weezer - Island In The Sun

This was the second single from the album, following up "Hash Pipe," but it almost didn't make the album; producer Ric Ocasek fought for it and the song ended up being a radio hit and perhaps the band's biggest hit ever outside of the United States.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love

(story of a song 3/3)

From 1969, this song has one of the best guitar solos ever. The free-form section was the result of Page and engineer Eddie Kramer "twiddling every knob known to man."

Some parts of the song as well as some lyrics were borrowed from a song called "You Need Loving" by the Small Faces. The Small Faces was a '60 band that Zeppelin modeled themselves after.

Also, this might be the first use of "backward echo." Page put the echo of Plant's lines before he says them, creating an interesting sound.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Small Faces - You Need Loving

(story of a song 2/3)

Founded in 1965, Small Faces were an English rock and roll band from East London, heavily influenced by American rhythm and blues singers, such as Muddy Waters.

In 1996, Small Faces were belatedly awarded the Ivor Novello Outstanding Contribution to British Music "Lifetime Achievement" award.

Despite the fact they were together just four years in their original incarnation, the Small Faces' music influenced one of the greatest rock bands to come.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Muddy Waters - You Need Love

(story of a song 1/3)

Back from 1962, this song, written by Willie Dixon for Muddy Waters, will be the starting point for a legendary rock song performed by a legendary rock band. If you don't know which song I'm reffering to, you will find it here in the next days.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby

"Eleanor Rigby" is a song by The Beatles, simultaneously released on the 1966 album Revolver and on a 45rpm single. The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney. With a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin, and striking lyrics about loneliness, the song continued the transformation of the group from a mainly pop-oriented act to a more serious and experimental studio band.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Bad Bussinessman

"Nut Zippers," is a southern term for a variety of old bootleg moonshine, and the band's name comes from a newspaper account which related the story of a highly intoxicated man who climbed a tree one night, refusing to come down even after authorities arrived. The article's headline read: "Squirrel Nut Zipper."

The Squirrel Nut Zippers is a band formed in 1993 whos eclectic fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s-era swing, klezmer, and other styles makes them hard to categorize, their unique music found a niche in the late 1990's, when the band met with national recognition and commercial success, sometimes associated with the Swing Revival of the same period.

The Hell album was certified platinum (more than 1 million copies sold) in less than an year. From this album, Bad bussinessman. C'mon, get with the beat...

Vitas - Opera No. 2

Vitaliy "Vitalik" Vladasovich Grachyov, better known by his stage name Vitas, is a Russian pop singer, composer, actor, and fashion designer.

His 2000 song, "Opera No. 2" has been forwarded frequently via the Internet, which accounts for much of his worldwide recognition. His eclectic pop music is often difficult to categorise, incorporating elements of techno, dance, classical, jazz, and folk music.

Vitas established an indisputable record having organized the premiere of his solo concert in the State Kremlin Palace on 29 March 2002, becoming the youngest artist ever to perform a solo concert at the Kremlin.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Champs - Tequila

Tequila is an alcoholic beverage named after a town in Mexico. It is a key ingredient in Margaritas and is often done as a shot by licking salt, taking the drink, then sucking a lemon wedge.

"Tequila" is a 1958 rock instrumental by the band The Champs. The title of the song constitutes the entire lyrics, and is spoken three times during the song. "Tequila" became a number-one hit on both the pop and R&B charts, at the time of its release and remains popular amongst fans of the golden age of rock and roll, but the band was a one-hit wonder.

This won for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance at the first ever Grammy Awards in 1959.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bob Marley - Iron Lion Zion

Although the song was written and recorded somewhere in 1973 or 1974, it was first released in 1992, eleven years after Marley's death.

The song's lyrics are directly related to Rastafarian beliefs. Zion is "the promised land", in the song referring to Ethiopia. The lion refers to the Lion of Judah, which appeared on the old royal Ethiopian flag, and represents Haile Selassie I, the former Ethiopian emperor whom Rastafarians regard as their Messiah.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Uriah Heep - July Morning

From the 1971 Look at Yourself album, this is a ten minute song which was essentially put together from different ideas from Ken Hensley and David Byron. While recording the album, the band noticed that they had three separate parts of compositions that were all in C minor, so they tried putting them together, thus those parts became the intro, verse and chorus build-up of July Morning.

After becoming a classic, the song has been the inspiration for a Bulgarian tradition named after the song. Every June 30, Bulgarians from all over the country travel to the coast of the Black Sea to watch the rising of the sun on the 1st of July. They often sing the song while the celebration takes place.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pulp - Common People

Released in 1995, the song is about those who were perceived by the singer/songwriter Jarvis Cocker as wanting to be "like common people" and who ascribe glamour to poverty. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as slumming or "class tourism".

The inspiration for the song came from a Greek fellow student Cocker knew at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Taking this inspiration, the narrator explains that his female acquaintance can "never be like common people", because even if she gets a flat where "roaches climb the wall" ultimately, "if [she] called [her] dad he could stop it all", in contrast to the true common people who can only "watch [their] lives slide out of view".

In his lyric Cocker embellished the situation for dramatic effect - in real life the woman in question said she "wanted to move to Hackney and live like 'the common people'", but in the song her character also declares: "I want to sleep with common people like you."

A BBC Documentary failed to correctly locate the woman that inspired the song.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man

"Son of a Preacher Man" is a song recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1968 and featured on the album, Dusty in Memphis. The song was originally offered to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down. It was only upon hearing Springfield's version that Franklin reconsidered and recorded the song herself.
By that time, however, Springfield's version had already become a hit; thus, Franklin's version, included on her 1970 album, din't get into charts.

Aretha Franklin, Sarah Connor, Liza Minnelli, Joan Osborn, Dolly Parton, Nancy Sinatra and many others covered this song, after Dusty's success.

The song was featured in a scene of the film Pulp Fiction (Uma Thurman making John Travolta wait an the intercom). Quentin Tarantino has been quoted on the "Collectors Edition" DVD of Pulp Fiction as saying that he probably would not have done that scene had he not been able to use "Son of a Preacher Man".

In 2004, the song made the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at #240.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zager And Evans - In the Year 2525

"In the Year 2525 (Exodium and Terminus)" is a hit song from 1969 by the american duo Zager and Evans. At that time, the song reached number one in Billboard Top 100. Zager and Evans never had another chart single for the rest of their career. They achieved this one-hit wonder both in UK and US.

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back anything

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Wizards in Winter

"Wizards in Winter" is an instrumental track by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, released on the 2004 album The Lost Christmas Eve.

During the 2005 Christmas season, electrical engineer Carson Williams set up a Christmas light show in the front yard, driveway, windows, and roof of his house. It took him about two months and 16,000 lights. The lights were synchronized to the song, and the show was free for anyone passing by who tuned to a specific low-power FM frequency on their car radio.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blondie - One Way Or Another

Despite popular belief, Blondie is not the girl's (nick)name, but the band's name. The band was founded by Deborah Harry (vocals) and Chris Stein (guitar) and achieved several hit singles and was noted for its eclectic mix of musical styles incorporating elements of disco, pop and reggae, while retaining a basic style as a new wave band.

The today's song is one of the group's most popular songs worldwide and was ranked #298 in Rolling Stones magazine The 500 Greatest Song Of All Time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Under The Bridge

I don't ever wanna feel
Like I did that day
Take me to the place I love
Take me all the way

Friday, January 8, 2010

Haggard - Awaking the Centuries

Released in february 2000, this is the theme song on the Awaking the Centuries album. The album is based on Nostradamus and his experience during The Black Plague in the Medieval Europe. Album features several compositions based on Rachmaninoff's music (the piano/violin/guitar motif in this song).

When recording this album, Haggard had its highest number of musicians at 21.

The use of authentic classical instruments mixed with minor metal elements in the form of down-tuned electric guitars and heavy metal rasping vocals keep this from being merely a metal album with symphonic elements, but more of a perfect fusion in-between, performed by far more musicians than the average rock band. This is why this song got its place on this page.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing

Now this one is really a classic one. First played in 1975, it managed to get to UK Top 10 in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Those were the days...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

AC/DC - Whole Lotta Rosie

The song is about an obese woman, Rosie, (physical measurements: 42"-39"-56" and weighs nineteen stones (120 kilos)) with whom the singer (Bon Scott) has had sexual relations. In addition to pointing out the woman's obesity, the singer finds her to be one of the most talented lovers he's experienced - note the solo at the end.

There is an ongoing search for the real Rosie, although she has yet to be found!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

The opening track from the 1977 Bat Out Of Hell album, the fourth best-selling album worldwide.

"Bat Out Of Hell" is an expression meaning very fast. Like all of Meat Loaf's hits, this was written by pianist Jim Steinman. He said he wrote this to be the ultimate "Motorcycle crash song." The lyrics refer to a rider being thrown off his bike in a wreck and his organs exposed: "And the last thing I see is my heart still beating / Breaking out of my body and flying away / Like a bat out of hell."

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Survivor - Eye of the Tiger

"Eye of the Tiger" is a song performed by the American rock band Survivor from the album Eye of the Tiger, released in 1982. It was used at the request of Sylvester Stallone for the film Rocky III. The mix of the song heard in the film features tiger growls, though these are omitted on the album and single versions.

The song was listed at #21 on Billboard's All Time Top 100 and was named the 63rd best hard rock song of all time by VH1.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pro Musica - Si daca...

From the Pro Musica group, released in 1987, on Mihai Eminescu's lyrics. English translation:

And If...

And if the branches tap my pane
And the poplars whisper nightly,
It is to make me dream again
I hold you to me tightly.

And if the stars shine on the pond
And light its sombre shoal,
It is to quench my mind's despond
And flood with peace my soul.

And if the clouds their tresses part
And does the moon outblaze,
It is but to remind my heart
I long for you always.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Deep Purple - Soldier of Fortune

"Soldier of fortune" is another term for a mercenary or adventurer.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond II

And it just doesn't get any better than this.