Tunes From the Singing Tower

(Where carillons ring out on the seaside.)

The Return of the Coquina Marble Column

Well, I know! I know it’s been a long time … since I’ve updated this poor, neglected music blog. I have constantly been distracted and lured away from here over the past several months, but now I plan to focus on resuming my posts from the singing tower. I’ll finally write about my favorite records of 2007 soon and cover subjects varying from Lizzy Mercier Descloux to Long Fin Killie. In the meantime, I’ll start you off with a post-Black Thursday present. It’s a collection of songs that are A) about love, B) anti-love (like Betty Davis, yowza!), and C) tunes I would like to share, either because I’ve been listening to them a lot or they’re somehow relevant to my world at the moment.

David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Forbidden Colours” from 1983
Their collaboration from the soundtrack of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. It peaked at #16 in the UK. Mark Stewart’s 1987 cover of this (“Forbidden Colour” and “Forbidden Dub”) is also worth seeking out. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d tackle Sylvian, either; Stewart cribs from Japan’s “Ghosts” toward the conclusion of Tricky’s “Aftermath” single from 1994. Both versions of “Forbidden Colours” are really hitting home for me lately and I’ve been pining for someone to record a cover that draws inspiration from both. (P.S. If someone can point me the way to “Bamboo Music” I’d be very happy.)
[“I’ll go walking in circles while doubting the very ground beneath me,
trying to show unquestioning faith in everything.”]

Apollo 440 feat. Billy Mackenzie – “Pain in Any Language” from December 1996
The last song Billy Mackenzie (best known for fronting Associates in the 1980’s) ever recorded. A month later in January 1997, he’d overdose on pills in his father’s garden shed. This song and the one above seem to flow together really well, as the former songs sets you up for the downturn in mood on this one.
[“I’m gonna screw you for all you’re worth and no more.” Ouch.]

Chick Corea – “Return to Forever” from 1972
He’s coming to my town next week. Sadly, I’ll probably end up missing out. Maybe I’ll obtain a balcony seat at the very least.

Moonshake – “Girly Loop” from 1993
Where do I pick up a wild woman? In the woods where the wild women grow, of course! Sounds logical enough to me.
[“She knows what God gave her eyelashes for.”]

Cocteau Twins – “Pitch the Baby (Live at The Roxy, New York, 12 June 1996)”
A spacier, sorta trip-hop version of the song from 1990’s Heaven or Las Vegas. Luscious.
[“I only want to love you…”]

The Fatima Mansions – “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” from 1992
A bizarre overhaul of the Bryan Adams song. Seems to anticipate trip-hop by taking cues from The Wolfgang Press and Mark Stewart. Technically it hit #7 in the UK, but it was paired as a double A-side to the “Suicide is Painless” cover done by Manic Street Preachers. That was doubtlessly a lot more popular.
[“I do it… When I’m alone, when I’m in public, when I’m on the bus, when I’m in the bathroom…”]

Cathy Dennis – “Just Another Dream” from 1990
Yes, you bet I did.

Diamond D & the Psychotic Neurotics – “Sally Got a One Track Mind” from 1992
Old school classic. Great bass groove.
[“Sweet sixteen but she looked 21,
If the price was right, she’ll be twice as nice!”]

Long Fin Killie – “How I Blew It With Houdini” from 1995
Who knows why Houdini’s an old woman, but I guess she’s full of surprises. I’m going to write more about them soon, but you can probably find all three of their albums for $5 altogether (not including shipping) if you browse around. I spent more on their Hands and Lips EP!
[“I tried to back down courteously,
‘Tonight’s the night for clubbing, dear,’
But she pulled her arm away from me and screamed,
‘You hopeless, e-fused disco sheep!
I’m looking for a sensitive, intelligent man,
But all those guys have boyfriends,
And you won’t do, no, you won’t do!'”]

Cinnamon – “I Used to Be Your Loneliness” from 2000
Swedish and lovely. Whatever happened to them?

The JudyBats – “Don’t Drop the Baby” from 1991
A piece of American pop/alternative melodrama that I grew up on. An old college radio favorite.
[“Aren’t we all born at sea?
The water breaks, the woman screams…”]

The Terminals – “Both Ends Burning” from 1992
The Roxy Music song done in lo-fi, brooding, slightly psyched-out Kiwi style. It appeared on the B-side of the “Black Creek” 7″.
[“Do I have the speed to carry on?”]

Hunters & Collectors – “Carry Me” from 1984
Essentially their hit “Throw Your Arms Around Me” with less sentimentality.
[“But I’m sorry if I showed you
how to lift this truck up off the ground,
Yeah, I’m not sorry if I moved ten tonnes or more…
And I’m not sorry if I showed you how to wriggle round and round,
As long as you could push me through the door,
So if my overcoat is hung and I’m too far gone to see
And the last drinks bell is rung, you can carry me,
Carry me…”]

Koncz Zsuzsa – “Vándorének (Wanderer’s Song)” from 1972
I made a small post several months ago that included a couple of videos of hers from the Sixties. This is obviously something later, but still pretty exquisite!

John and Jackie – “Little Girl” from 1958
Serge & Jane, eat your hearts out! This probably contains almost as many orgasms as “Love to Love You Baby” (and in a shorter amount of time, no less!).

Julie London – “Go Slow” from 1957
The sensual side of the Fifties, part deux. Yum.
[“Go slow, oooooh honey, take it easy on the curves;
When love is slow, oooooh honey, what a tonic for my nerves…”]

That’s all for the moment!


15 February 2008 Posted by | Apollo 440, Billy Mackenzie, Cathy Dennis, Chick Corea, Cinnamon, Cocteau Twins, David Sylvian, Diamond D, Hunters & Collectors, John & Jackie, Julie London, Koncz Zsuzsa, Long Fin Killie, Moonshake, Music, Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Fatima Mansions, The Judybats, The Terminals | 1 Comment

Tell me, where are your black eyes? The capitalist world is still collapsing.

This summer, I listened to Hunters & Collectors’ 1982 self-titled debut album more than any other record. It’s seemingly matched the weather (it’s felt about as hot as the Outback this year) and my increasingly fraught mental state culminating with a minor emotional collapse about three weeks ago. I’m not sure how I came across it, but I think I was reading about a band whose sound was compared to the earlier and less accessible post-punk output of Hunters & Collectors. “Earlier, less accessible, post-punk?” That was enough to intrigue me and send me into All Music Guide, where I read that their first few records were harsher affairs that had little in common with later outings where they became Australia’s most beloved “pub-rock” band.

They started out as a dozen-plus collective in Melbourne and would often invite members of the audience to join them on stage to bash away during their performances. Their self-titled record seems to have a lot in common with the likes of A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo, and to a lesser extent Shriekback and The Birthday Party. There’s a pretty heavy rhythmic emphasis and a definite focus on the basslines, not to neglect to mention the occasional spot of brass performed by Horns of Contempt (greatest name ever!). It’s also very doomy, too; one review claimed that it sounded like a man losing his mind in the Outback. I think the man in question might be Julian Cope! Mark Seymour sounds a bit like him at points (particularly when he’s hollering away), and when combined with the love of brass and how “Alligator Engine” sounds like the halfway point between The Teardrop Explodes and Shriekback… Well, I’m convinced anyhow. As for the lyrics, some of them are Birthday Party-esque sketches of characters (see “Junket Head” and “Boo Boo Kiss”), others are seemingly random and cobbled together; I think I once described “Talking to a Stranger” as being filled to the brim with Dadaist non-sequiturs. Even so, it’s still one of the most fraught-sounding songs I have had the pleasure of hearing. The video’s classic, too, as you’ll see below. It was directed by Richard Lowenstein and famously attracted the attention of INXS, who used him in a number of their videos, most notably “Need You Tonight/Mediate” and its Bob Dylan pastiche during the latter ditty.

Anyway, here’s some mp3s. Be prepared for something rather intense and unsettling, if not occasionally harrowing. What’s the occasion? Aside from their debut album being in heavy rotation on my CD player, it’s been exactly 25 years to the day since the video for “Lumps of Lead” was filmed/set, as you’ll see below (and in my comment on Youtube).

“Talking to a Stranger”
(Note: the opening line of this song is the opening line to the Baudelaire poem “L’Albatross”.)

“Skin of Our Teeth”
(This one’s got quite the build-up!)

“Run Run Run”
(Skronky intro, cathartic finale.)

“World of Stone”
(The title track from their debut 1981 EP, which has since been appended to CD issues of their self-titled album.)

(Also from the same EP, and more playful-sounding than anything above.)

“Betty’s Worry or The Slab”
(From their 1984 album The Jaws of Life. It’s hailed in Oz as the best native song about drinking/masturbating/performing oral sex on a girl.)


“Talking to a Stranger”

“Lumps of Lead” (off the 1982 EP Payload)

“Judas Sheep” (from their second LP, 1983’s The Fireman’s Curse)

And sadly, the video for “Betty’s Worry or The Slab” has gone missing from Youtube. Bastards!

Buy the reissues of their self-titled, The Fireman’s Curse, and The Jaws of Life. I would have linked to importCDs (where I scored my copy of the self-titled for about $14 including S&H), but they don’t seem to be carrying it anymore. These are only available on Australian import, but the links above feature them at reasonable prices.

17 September 2007 Posted by | Hunters & Collectors, Music | Leave a comment

The Gap Band

No particular reason. I’m just in the mood for them and I keep wishing that one day I could cut a record with Lonnie Simmons at the mixing board. Or have Charlie Wilson guest on it.

“Party Train” from 1983 — apparently filmed in Venice Beach. #3 in the US R&B charts.

“Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” from 1981 — #84 in the US Top 100 (their popularity was still on the rise at this point), #22 in the UK Top 75, and #23 in Holland(!).

“Early in the Morning” from 1982 — #24 in the US Top 100, #55 in the UK Top 75 (sycophants!). Look closely at the drumsticks!

“You Dropped a Bomb On Me” from 1982 — #31 in the US Top 100, somehow never made the UK Top 75. Do you guys know what you were missing? This is the one that still seems to get occasional airplay here.

All tracks culled from their 20th Century Masters disc, which can be found and acquired here.

EDIT: And of course, on a sadder note, Pavarotti died. However, here’s a performance of him from last year with James Brown(!) doing “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”:

6 September 2007 Posted by | Music, The Gap Band | 1 Comment

Urszula Dudziak

Oh dear God, I want this! It’s a self-titled record from Funk Factory, originally issued in 1976 but re-released on CD this past month. It already seems to be rather scarce, but I’ve seen other sites outside Dusty Groove America where it’s available.

According to Dusty Groove: A massive bit of funky fusion from the 70s — an album that was crucially overlooked at the time, but which has gone onto become a crate-diggers classic over the years! The group’s fronted by Polish jazz legends Michal Urbaniak and Urszula Dudziak — but it also features a fair bit of American players too — all working together in a blend of the best funky fusion modes going down in both the US and Eastern Europe in the mid 70s! Drums on the set are totally great — played by Steve Gadd or Gerald Brown, depending on the track — and some tracks have weird vocal bits that riff around the instrumentation, sung either by Urszula, Bernard Kafka, or some other backing singers. The keyboards are great — quite tripped-out at times, but never too over the top — and overall, the album’s a fair bit more soulful and funky than most of Urbaniak’s other work of the 70s. Titles include the killer sample track “Rien Ne Va Plus” — used famously by the Beastie Boys many years back — plus “After The World Goes Home”, “Funk It”, “Sinkin Low”, “Next Please”, “Horsing Around”, and “Watusi Dance”.

For those unfamiliar with Dudziak, she was a Polish (fusion) jazz and disco singer from the Seventies and Eighties heavily influenced by Ella Fitzgerald who had a tendency to distort her vocals electronically. Expect wordless scatting and expressive vocalizing galore, basically. A Night in Tunisia was my introduction to her and it won me over immediately. She seems to best known for Papaya, which made #3 on the Club Play Singles charts (dance) and #9 on the Disco Singles charts in America in 1975. The Los Angeles Times also named her their Jazz Singer of the Year in 1979. She’s still apparently around, too! I found the following on Youtube a moment ago and her voice hasn’t changed a bit, not to neglect to mention that she herself has aged very well:

Going back to “Papaya“, apparently that song’s become a part of a dancing phenomenon in the Philippines. Click here to see what I mean. From what I seem to understand, it’s received a bit of a revival apparently due to a variety show called Game Ka Na Ba hosted by Edu Manzano, where he does a bit of an eyecatching bum-wiggle that now seems to be imitated countrywide by children and adults alike.

Wild. More proof that someone needs to get around to reissuing her solo albums immediately. They’re all pretty much out-of-print.

31 August 2007 Posted by | Disco, Funk Factory, Fusion, Urszula Dudziak | Leave a comment

FAC 501 – Tony Wilson’s coffin.

(The link above is for those who have no clue about who he is, God forbid.)

I’ve been meaning to do a tribute to him (as many others in the blogosphere undoubtedly have) but I’ve been sidetracked and constantly occupied, so only now am I able to post any songs. I’ll just let these songs below speak for his legacy. By the way, his coffin really is the final Factory catalogue number.

ESG – “Moody”
(These South Bronx girls — and one guy — got their start of course with Factory, and then 99 issued an expanded version of their EP shortly afterward.)

Miaow – “When It All Comes Down”
(C30, C60, C86, go!)

The Railway Children – “Brighter”
(Issued in 1987 on their Reunion Wilderness record.)

Crispy Ambulance – “Concorde Square”
(This one’s an admittedly cheeky choice. Wilson loathed the six-minute outro. Factory Benelux issued the Live on a Hot August Night single instead, and it prompted him to quip, “Without Gregorian chants, who the Hell are Factory Benelux?” In fact, I think there was a three-minute edit released on a compilation for Factory US where they quoted him when they decided to subtitle that mix of it.)

Crawling Chaos – “Creamo Coyl”
(I’m not sure what I can write about this one, but I enjoy it!)

Happy Mondays – “Dennis and Lois”
(Underrated album track from Pills ‘n’ Thrills ‘n’ Bellyaches. I think this is my mother’s favorite song of theirs.)

Kevin Hewick – “Ophelia’s Drinking Song/Cathy Clown”
(FAC 48, you make my heart ache.)

The Names – “Nightshift”
The Names – “I Wish I Could Speak Your Language (Pre-Mix)”
(Possibly the best single ever released by Factory? Maybe. “Nightshift” might have been Martin Hannett’s best production effort, too.)

The Durutti Column feat. Jeremy Kerr (A Certain Ratio) – “Sleep Will Come”
(A fitting finale. It was originally written for Ian Curtis, admittedly.)

Buy Miaow, The Names, The Durutti Column, Crispy Ambulance, Happy Mondays, Crawling Chaos, ESG, Kevin Hewick, and The Railway Children.

Official sites for Crawling Chaos, The Durutti Column, Crispy Ambulance, Happy Mondays, Cath Carroll (Miaow), The Railway Children, and Kevin Hewick!

28 August 2007 Posted by | Factory, Music, Tony Wilson | 1 Comment

Sarolta Zalatnay and Koncz Zsuzsa

She recently had a reissue of her more psychedelic offerings courtesy of the wonderful reissue labels Finders Keepers and B-Music. Anyway, WFMU’s Beware of the Blog posted up two clips of hers today, one from 1967 and the other from 1982. I’ll display the former of those and also provide two more examples of her poppier Sixties work.

And some more Hungarian pop from Koncz Zsuzsa. I need my own reissue label, damnit!

22 August 2007 Posted by | Hungary, Koncz Zsuzsa, Music, Sarolta Zalatnay, Sixties pop, Youtube | Leave a comment

The Return of Trapped in the Closet

That’s right, everyone’s favorite messed-up hip-hopera has returned. IFC is posting a chapter every day until the DVD comes out on the 21st.

And for those who want to wash out the (often mindlessly hysterical) stupidity of the above, check out this post from k-punk. It won’t insult your intelligence, unless you haven’t got any!

14 August 2007 Posted by | Classes, IFC, k-punk, Music, Pop Culture, popism, R. Kelly, Trapped in the Closet | Leave a comment

Normally I wouldn’t care about this, but I witnessed it.


And this is a music blog, after all. Maybe Pitchfork will pick up on this tomorrow.

Originally published August 14, 2007
Against Me! singer arrested on battery charge
By Nic Corbett

[The lead singer of punk band Against Me! was arrested Monday night on a battery charge after he allegedly smashed a Tallahassee man’s head against the counter of a coffee shop, according to the Tallahassee Police Department.

Tom Gabel, 26, walked into the All Saints Cafe, 903 Railroad Ave., with his girlfriend to get some tea.

After he ordered a lemon ginger tea, he headed to the bathroom and saw an article about his band on the wall, which was clipped from the Tallahassee Democrat. Someone had drawn over the article.

Gabel told police it had obscene words scribbled on it which made him mad. He grabbed the article, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash.

Michael Hurley, 22, who was at the cafe with friends, said his friend Jared Smith, 22, asked Gabel why he tore down the article.

“(Jared) wasn’t trying to provoke him or fight him at all,” Hurley said.

Gabel started yelling at Smith, who sat down to drink some water.

“Jared said, ‘This conversation is over.’ Tom said ‘I don’t think it is,'” said Cody Cook, 21, a barista at the cafe and a friend of Smith.

Gabel then knocked Smith’s cup out of his hand.

Smith told police Gabel grabbed the back of his head by his neck and forced his head into the wooden counter.

A man came into the cafe, put Gabel in a headlock and headbutted him, Cook said. That man left soon after.

While Gabel admitted to police he purposely knocked over the cup, he denied hitting Smith.

Smith did not suffer any injuries, the report said. He told police he was more upset and scared than hurt.

Police arrested Gabel after the show was over, Cook said.

Gabel was taken to the Leon County Jail at midnight. He was released early this morning on $500 bail.

Against Me! was listed as one of the top 25 greatest live bands last year year by Spin magazine. The band, which is from Gainesville, released its first album on a major label in July.]

My version: I really didn’t catch anything up until the yelling and fighting started. I originally understood it as an argument over borrowing a newspaper, but it turns out to be a clipping about the band that got defaced, as you’ve read above. I was sitting with my friend Amanda and we looked up just in time to see a bit of a scuffle. It wasn’t much, but it was more than what was mentioned in the article; I think both parties threw about five punches at most before five rat-tailed, grungy, bearded bike kids jumped up to separate the pair. Another guy came in from the patio (some of my friends might know him as the “Act like you know!” guy) and indeed put Gabel in a headlock. Tom headbutted the “Act like you know!” guy and knocked his sunglasses off, and then in turn got headbutted himself. Gabel was soon thrown out of the cafe, the “Act like you know!” guy left shortly afterward, and eventually Smith decided to phone the police and hoped to press charges. Two police cars showed up behind All Saints and stayed there all evening as officers talked to the parties that were involved.

The show let out prematurely. I didn’t attend it — I was bouncing between the cafe and the Infoshop all evening, but I was quickly informed by those in attendance that a bouncer apparently threw a stage-diver back onto the stage, and the stage-diver fell and landed on a girl. She passed out and an ambulance was quickly summoned. Several minutes afterward another police car showed up. My friend Alex, her sister Katie and I walked around the side of the Infoshop and caught sight of Gabel being escorted to the police cars behind All Saints. We couldn’t tell precisely what was happening from our vantage point, but officers stood around for a few minutes, Gabel and his girlfriend briefly talked, and Lindsay informs me that Tom was crying when he finally entered the police car and was carted off to Leon County Jail.

Shortly afterward, the All Saints baristas changed the marquee and now it reads, “Tally Punks – 1, Against Me – 0, Tom does coke.” Very mature, lads.

P.S. (Thank you to Manley for posting the following.) This shirt’s going on sale soon in tribute:

And here’s a link to some of their music. I think this is all from their new album (which peaked at #57 in the Billboard charts last week). I won’t listen to it and don’t really care to examine the page, but I figure I’ll post it just in case anyone’s curious.

14 August 2007 Posted by | Against Me, Arrest, Battery, Coffee Shops, Jail, Legal, Music | Leave a comment

Georgia pink marble and Florida coquina stone.

Welcome. If you’re wondering what my blog name is a reference to, see here for details. I have never been there personally, but I’d love to visit it sometime.

This will be another music blog. It will focus on past, present, and anything that delights me.

8 August 2007 Posted by | Welcome | 2 Comments

Marble Station

I originally wanted a musical name for this blog and desired Marble Station, but I’m afraid that someone claimed it. Instead, I thought of the Bok Tower (see last entry) and how it was constructed of pink marble and coquina stone, so I went for the “coquinamarble” moniker and referenced the carillons that gave the structure the nickname of “the Singing Tower” for the blog title. Anyway, the first song I shall post here is the inspiration behind the name I originally wanted to choose. Marble Station is a song recorded in 1980 by a Danish group called Sort Sol. I believe that it originally appeared on an album called Under en Sort Sol that was credited to The Sods, which was the former name of the group. Ivo Watts-Russell of the 4AD label adored this song so much that he issued it as the A-Side of a single that featured another track from the same album, “Misguided“, on the flip. This song subsequently appeared on the very limited edition Natures Mortes – Still Lives compilation. Its b-side also appeared fifteen years later on the — also limited edition — CD reissue.

As for the music, it’s dominated by a stumbling/stuttering rhythm and low bass rumble. It sounds roughly like the halfway point between Crispy Ambulance’s “Concorde Square” and The Names – “Nightshift“, which makes it all the more impressive that Martin Hannett NEVER had a hand in producing this. Sort Sol would later issue several more albums over the next two decades and achieved moderate success in Denmark.

Natures Mortes – Still Lives is out of print, as is the reissue of Under en Sort Sol from what I can tell, but you can probably find more of both releases on Soulseek or something.

8 August 2007 Posted by | Music, Post Punk, Sort Sol | Leave a comment