Not a bad cover of a fairly mediocre Clash tune included on an Uncut magazine CD called A Tribute to The Clash – White Riot, Vol Two. The school choir chorus makes it and the “Headon on the drums” bit. Better than the original? Probably.
Performed as the encore song on the 21 x 21 concert on Lil’ Beethoven night. A stirring, stabbing anthem sung in German, of course. So stereotypically Teutonic and stern it’s hilarious. A rousing chanty marching song.
The background story to the idea of Lil’ Beethoven, simply narrated over a classy little piano piece. A touching tale explaining how the little guy inherited his genius after the original Beethoven fell in love with his ear doctor’s daughter. Fab.
Oompah! A jauntier song I can’t imagine. A riot from start to finish. When that final verse starts I just cannot help but smile. The satirical punch hits firmly home both musically and lyrically. ‘I say yo dog to my pool cleaning guy’ indeed. Pure joy.
A masterpiece. Another one. Framed in a sumptuously soppy opening and ending, it bursts into life with an explosion of electric guitars and ‘oowak wak wak’ screams. Dispensing with the need for a melody for the verses, Russell just talks his way through the phenomenon, ‘without intending to sound judgmental.’ Ha! The sarcasm drips from every line and the scorn of ‘Things!’ succinctly sums up the whole sorry scenario, as does the hilariously prosaic, ‘My shortcomings were of an economic nature. He was rich, I was not.’ Right up there with the best Sparks songs ever.
The most annoying of automated phone responses rendered fantastically against the backdrop of stabbing strings and a multi-layered chorus. Again, the medium of hypnotic repetition hooks you and keeps you dangling just like the caller on the line. Compulsive and inventive song making it all the way through to the drone at the end.
The ultimate in hypnotic repetition of a lyric. The sound in the heads of a couple in complete reverie walking home in the morning as ‘a rainbow forms, but we’re both colourblind.’ It just works perfectly, then, just as you think it can’t possibly get any more enthralling, the beat kicks in after ‘We can hear the sound of a chorus singing’ and you’re transported again to another dimension. Too much? Not enough.
Great reverb. A basic two note line structure gives it a suitably galloping feel. Amazing stuff. The repetition of this structure is what really bores its way into you. The huge list of opposites framed by all the’from’ and ‘to’s seems never ending. ‘From wowed to bored. Olé, then gored’ being just one highlight. The harpsichord creeping in at one point is another unexpected treat. Deep joy.
Marrying yourself is actually a thing now, called sologamy. Imagine that. This has an inescapably John Lennon-ish feel to it. A beautifully constructed song with an aching loneliness at its core, despite the jokey subject matter. There’s also a kind of Miss Haversham of Great Expectations creepy aura around it too, especially the sentiment of ‘this time it’s gonna last forever.’
More choral/orchestral sweetness with added timpani! The solo piano line in this is a real highlight, offering a quiet respite from the aggressively hurled out lines about blustering bands. The idea that the louder you shout, the more attention you get seems to be what’s niggling here, implying that more talented voices get drowned out and unheard. Hmmm, wonder what they mean? Great point, well made.
Stretching out an ancient music joke to extremes. A brilliant lesson in making the seemingly mundane premise appear fantastical, as piano and strings combine in a perfect blend of bombast and simplicity. As promised by the rhythm thief, there is no beat and we’re swept along by chants, choruses and sweet melodies and harmonies. The minimal snatches of a crowd clapping along provide the only percussive relief.
Majestic start to a truly majestic album. ‘Auf wiedersehen to the beat’ as Sparks assault the senses and state their manifesto for Lil’ Beethoven while stripping away the beat completely and successfully creating a whole new sound devoid of crass and predictable beats. A class move and a class song which hits you in the head and heart and makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle. Wow. Play it loud.