What’s going on my people? This article has been over a year in the making, to be honest. Let me explain.
When I initially joined Ana on this adventure, I initially agreed to write strictly about the 1970’s and the dope songs that I came across from that era. As I sifted and sorted through this decade for tracks that I really enjoyed, I came across an album of Queen’s: “A Kind of Magic”. The album definitely has a futuristic space vibe to it, if the album cover wasn’t enough of an homage to that feeling.
While I enjoyed the album as a whole, what kept me coming back to the album was one track in particular: Princes of the Universe. From the jump, this track is full of energy, sick guitar riffs, and some gnarly vocals. Kind of explains why I felt like running through a brick wall the first time I heard the track. There was one problem though….
This album came out in 1986, so I personally felt I should step in someone else’s lane and write about a track from the 80’s, even though it was an awesome listen.
Another reason I hesitated writing about Queen was because of how much press they were getting last year with “Bohemian Rhapsody” film. Me being a Weenie Hut General club member, I thought it would be lame to write about a track for a band that was so popular in the main stream media.
Fast forward to this year, and that is no longer a problem. I have overcome these irrelevant roadblocks I’ve created for myself and finally decided to share my love for this track and the album that I have waiting so long to share with y’all.
True story: I went to school at 2:00 AM on a Saturday night cause I’m cool like that, and I was just chilling in an empty classroom, listening to Doolittle. And I remember blasting Tame in my headphones and pretending I was performing the song live. I even threw myself on my knees at one point, as I got really into the Charles Thompson’s screaming. And this is when I realized how underrated he truly is. Not only can he play some pretty intricate rhythm guitar riffs, but he can do it while belting out lyrics with such liveliness and charisma; it really brings this song to life.
Let’s just also take a second to address the Pixies signature play on dynamics. They literally have a documentary titled “loudQuietloud” (It’s AMAZING and also free on youtube), and many artists, most notably Kurt Cobain, have credited the Pixies for inspiring certain songs that also follow a similar play on dynamics. Cobain himself has stated that he essentially was trying to rip off the Pixies when he was writing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Cobain, of course, had nothing but love for the Pixies and has listed them multiple times in his diary as a source of inspiration.
(*flavor flav voice*) ANNNNNND yeah boiiiii, let me tell ya, does this song play with dynamics. The verse of this song essentially comprises of Charles whispering and Kim Deal ripping a chunky bass line. And the song quickly erupts to chaos in the chorus, pushed along by Charles screaming, which I can only ever dare to replicate as I danced by myself in an empty classroom.
I think my favorite part of this song is when Charles and Kim start heaving and breathing loudly; it most certainly mimics the exhaustion I’m sure Charles feels when he sings this song. You can even see during the live version he sort of grimaces after every scream, and I can imagine him wishing the song was over, while I’m sitting over here replaying it over and over wondering why it’s so short.
So, it goes. The search for another song to write about, and this week I came across a spooky track from Young Marble Giants, titled Choci Loni. The track, as most Young Marble Giants tracks, is extremely simplistic, comprising of a drum machine, Stuart and Phillip Moxham’s stratifying guitar and bass lines, and Alison Stuart’s whisper like voice. Normally when people talk about Young Marble Giants it’s normally cause they can’t get over that the band used a drum machine for the entirety of their existence or they talk about Alison Stuart. BUT for this track I’m just gonna say that the bass line is the bees knees. Like I could listen to that bass line on a looooop. I love tracks where the guitar plays a complimentary role to the bass, and the distortion that Stuart Moxham adds with his guitar is the perfect counter balance to cut through the heavy and rich bass line.
The song is eerie and sort of foreboding; I could totally picture Michael Myers jamming to this song. As the sun sets on Halloween, He would rummage through his record stash and play some Young Marble Giants as he sharpens his knife and slips on his mask. But I could also just listen to this song when I just want to stare at the dark sky or walk alone on a cold night, where Michael Myers preferably wouldn’t murder me. Either way please check out this track and please enjoy the timeless bass line that Philip Moxham has wrapped around my soul.
I’d like to think somewhere in the world in the year of 1987, there was a couple who danced to the entire Darklands album by starlight. I hope at one point it started to rain, and they remained dancing amongst their own shadows. Even more, I hope in that exact cliché of a moment , as they felt the first raindrops on their skin, “About You”, the final track on Darklands, played. This song has a very “Sunday Morning(1966)” by the Velvet Underground type of vibe; it makes everything in the world good for a couple of minutes. I can’t tell if its Jim Reid’s whisper-like voice or the rich chord progression that just makes me stop everything that I’m doing and pause to listen. After getting past the magentic instrumental, I began to really listen to the lyrics, and I was struck by how simple they are. Yet, they seem to say everything you could possibly want to say to someone you care about. I especially like the lyrics leading the outro. Check it:
There's something warm
There's something warm
There's something warm
There's something warm in everything
I know there's something good
There's something good
I know there's something warm
There's something warm
There's something warm
Good about you
I know the lyrics are a little unconventional for a “love song”, but that’s why I’m so drawn to it. We don’t typically say to someone we like or even love, “There’s something warm and good about you.” But if I think about holding a warm cup of coffee or feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin after being stuck in a freezing room, it’s pure happiness. It feels so right and good. You don’t want to put down the cup, and you most certainly don’t want to go back into that room. I’d like to imagine it’s the same feeling when you really care about someone; you don’t want to let go.
P.S. I realized as I was about to post this that this song could also easily be a love song about rainy weather, which is all the more of a reason for this to be one of my favorite songs ever. Thank you Jim and William Reid for writing this beautiful song!
Xx Ana Tame Xx
How is it possible that I am just now discovering the greatness of ABBA?! I mean yeah, I knew the classics: Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, and The Winner Takes it All, but I never took time to seriously listen to one of their albums all the way through. It’s not like I ever thought I was too cool for disco; I love disco. I just thought “ABBA can wait. I need to focus on *insert diverse list of artists that span different genres and decades* but no, ABBA can no longer wait. I decided to focus on one of their songs from their 8th and FINAL studio album, The Visitors. This was the first album I heard from ABBA all the way through, and I immediately fell in love with the first song on the record, The Visitors.
The song begins with a galactic synth and keyboard combo; Anni-Fred takes the lead vocal in the song, joining the synth and the keyboard, adding anticipation while stretching her voice on ominous lyrics. Percussion is added, quickly moving the song along till it has a sort of quiet explosion at the chorus. I straight up feel like I can picture a U.F.O landing on earth to this song, and as the aliens exit their ship, they blast this song and break out into an intergalactic disco party. Alas, I thought this was just a fun song playing with space themes, but it’s actually a protest song against the communist regime in Russia. Check out the lyrics below.
I hear the doorbell ring and suddenly the panic takes me
The sound so ominously tearing through the silence
I cannot move, I'm standing
Numb and frozen
Among the things I love so dearly
The books, the paintings and the furniture
Now I hear them moving
Muffled noises coming through the door
I feel I'm
Voices growing louder, irritation building
And I'm close to fainting
They must know by now I'm in here trembling
In a terror evergrowing
My whole world is falling, going crazy
There is no escaping now, I'm
The song is meant to show the experience that protestors faced in the Soviet Union. The Soviet police at this time acted similarly to the German gestapo during WW2; officers would show up at your door, ready to take belongings and anyone that questioned or protested actions of the Soviet Union. The Visitors was actually banned in the Soviet Union when it initially came out due to its lyrics and a message that was released from half of ABBA, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, that aired a couple of months prior to the album release. During this message, they spoke against the United States, saying it supported countries such as Russia, El Salvador, and Chile that were ran by dictatorships and communist regimes.
I almost feel like I can’t jam to this song in the same way after I discovered the meaning of the lyrics (key word: almost). I will still jam to this song, annoyingly talking about the historical origins of this song to anyone I listen to it with. Thank you ABBA for this track!
Everything from the classic punk chord progression, to the fast paced drumming, and grimy singing in this song screams hardcore punk. This was a band that was way before their time. They defined hardcore punk, while simultaneously staying true to their identity as a band. The self- titled debut Bad Brains album which features “Sailin’ On” was a perfect mix of reggae and hardcore punk: staples of Bad Brains music. They didn’t care if it made sense to make music from two completely different genres and put it on one album; they were just being themselves and having fun, disregarding anyone who couldn’t understand their performances including the city of Washington D.C.**
This song is fast, short, and simple, but it’s so powerful. The energy the song exudes makes me spaz, and I can only imagine how crazy it would’ve been to see them play live. Front man and lead singer, H.R. (Human Rights), was notorious for riling up audiences with his back flips and seizure like spasms, creating a riot atmosphere. It wasn’t like H.R. was a spectacle for the crowd to watch; he got the audience involved by jumping in the crowd during performances as well as bringing members of the audience on stage. I linked a live version along with the recorded track version so you can see what I’m talking about.
**By 1979 Bad Brains were unofficially banned from playing at any clubs or music venues in Washington D.C., forcing them to solely play at house parties; this uprooted and planted them in New York City at CBGB. I linked a video of them playing at CBGB below the video for the song “Sailin’ On”.
Wow, shout out to the replacements for making this uncharacteristic track which discusses breaking societal gender norms in the 1980s. The song is carried by a simple, soft and catchy piano tune that’s paired with a very true and beautiful message written by the band’s lead singer, Paul Westerberg. The song reminds the listener that superficial things like clothing and hairstyles aren’t bound to a specific gender. Essentially the message that’s pushed throughout the song is “Who cares?” “Why do people let other people’s stylistic choices affect their lives?”
I wish I could be apologetic for highlighting a song that’s political, but I’m not going to pretend that music doesn’t intersect with other aspects of our lives. Using music as a form of protest has been such a huge part of human history for centuries; for example, Britain in the 17th century saw a wave of radical communist movements demanding in song: “But the Gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown. Stand up now, Diggers all!” Gender norms needed/need to be discussed, and The Replacements provided the world with a great conversation starter. With that being said here are a couple of my favorite excerpts from the song:
Here come Dick, he's wearing a skirt
Here comes Jane, you know she's sporting a chain
Same hair, revolution
Same build, evolution
Tomorrow who's gonna fuss
Now, something meets boy, and something meets girl
They both look the same
They're overjoyed in this world
Same hair, revolution
Tomorrow who's gonna fuss
And tomorrow Dick is wearing pants
Tomorrow Janie's wearing a dress
Future outcasts and they don't last
And, today, the people dress the way that they please
The way they tried to do in the last centuries
It took me listening to this song five times, soaking in all its glory, in about a fifteen minute time frame, before I began to wonder what the lyrics were all about. Lo and behold, it’s essentially a narrative from a caribou who has been reincarnated into human form, but it hates its new life so much; so, it kills itself in order to hopefully reincarnate back to a caribou. Take a gander at the first verse:
I live cement
I hate this street
Give dirt to me
I bite lament
This human form
Where I was born
I now repent
The caribou sings of its disgust of anything urbanized, preferring dirt. Then the narrator goes on to talk about being born in human form: ergo reincarnation. On to the next verse:
Give me white
Ground to run
Lets me knife
Knife me lets
I will get
What I like
The narrator talks about how it misses running on white ground, painting an image of a majestic caribou running through the snow. The caribou then reveals what it has always wanted since being banefully trapped in human form: death by suicide.
Black Francis, lead singer of the pixies and writer of the song, has confirmed the meaning of the song in an interview with NME (New Musical Express), “My best memory of it is that the song is a kind of abstract song. I would say the abstraction of it is related to reincarnation, and maybe the singing of the song is about the reincarnation of a caribou; I can’t remember. It’s very abstract, but I do believe it’s related to those ideas: Native American, you know, animism or whatever.”
Lyrics aside or whatever, this song is so great. We got Joey Santiago ripping triplet magic on the guitar, Black Francis’ dynamic voice, which made me want to fall in love and head bang in one song, Kim fucking Deal making simple phrasing sound so good, and of course, David Lovering for providing the **magic tricks and cementing this whole triplet vibe with his rhythmic genius, making cariboooooo a pixies classic.
**David Lovering is a drummer for the Pixies as well as an established magician; he would start off shows in the Pixies 2004 reunion tour with magic tricks.