Earworms 13 January 2014

You want eclectic? We’ve got it from dawn ’til dusk this week. With a little faith and resurrection thrown in. Many thanks to all contributors, and keep sending those worms to earworm@tincanland.com.

Benjamin Britten – Dawn (from Peter Grimes – Four Sea Interludes) – daddypig: Not so much an earworm as a “moodworm”. I saw two of Opera North’s Britten productions for his centenary celebrations, and this is an atmospheric piece that sets the scene as the sun rises on the Suffolk coast. (Having trouble getting this to play in the playlist, so try this if necessary):

Matthew E White – Big Love – debbyM: My Festive ‘Spill choices were all of a similar ilk this time around (sorry, listeners!) – this is the one that JUST missed out on being chosen for the Top Three. I love the big sound of Big Love, but I mostly love its timelessness – without having been told, would you have KNOWN what decade this song is from?

Spacehog – Zeroes – DsD: Probably too straight-ahead sprawling heavy-rock for many of you, but that “zerozerozerozerozero” falsetto refrain is a PROPER worm: if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself singing it in the supermarket checkout queue.

Jah no Dead – Burning Spear – goneforeign: Friedrich Nietzsche originated the phrase ‘God is Dead’. In the mid 60’s Time magazine propagated the idea and it became accepted world-wide, except that is, by Rastaman Burning Spear in Jamaica. He wrote this simple song to express his faith, ‘Jah no Dead’. It was used in the film ‘Rockers’ in a beautiful scene where he’s standing knee deep in the ocean in the moonlight singing it acapella.

Edwyn Collins – Baby Jean – ghe: After his near death experience, Edwyn Collins’ comeback album in 2013, “Understated”, is understandably about survival. This is a standout track.

Tom Jones – Dimming of the Day [Richard Thompson cover] – tincanman: Some songs are too painful and personal to listen to. This is as close as you dare get to this one.

41 thoughts on “Earworms 13 January 2014

  1. Great list – love the Edwyn Collins – one of my musical heroes. I saw Orange Juice live a number of times, including their farewell performance at the Brixton Miners’ Benefit in 1985.

    As a point of order, this is from his second comeback album. Losing Sleep in 2010 was his first post-cerebral haemorrhage recording. Just saying…

  2. I’ve never been a Tom Jones fan but this version of RT’s song fits right into this playlist. As a non-fan I was amazed several years ago at one of my wife’s faculty get-togethers to overhear a group of young to middle aged female teachers going into ecstasy over the impending local concert by TJ; I’d thought he was a has-been by the ’80’s! Just shows to go you. Incidentally this is the third version of this song to be played on Earworms, not complaining.
    Sadly Spacehog wouldn’t play for me so I was deprived of that one; perhaps there is a higher power?
    Peter Grimes can go right into a folder in my iTunes along with Lark Ascending, to me the ultimate musical re-creation of the beauty of Suffolk from where I left on my quest for the new world. I only have to hear that to be transported back to very specific Suffolk places; I think Suffolk is the most beautiful county I ever saw, or at least the one I left was.
    Baby Jean fits as does Big Love, as usual a well structured playlist Ari.
    Oh, and Spear, everyone should see Rockers, it’s probably at youtube, great reggae film with a great Spear sequence.

    • I didn’t know, or had forgotten, you were a Suffolk lad. Is the Suffolk connection to “The Lark Ascending” personal and evocative for you, I don’t know of any specific connection for the poem or the music ?

      • DaddyP; It’s very personal, it absolutely evokes very specific locations, some as simple as a ploughed field or a woodland copse. I was once amazed to see a comments section in the Guardian where everyone thought it was specific to their region;, how could they all be so confused!

  3. I’m so lacking in knowledge and/or ability to appreciate classical music. I did do Britten’s “Saint Nicholas” for O-Level Music, but… this sounded nicely atmospheric without totally grabbing me. I was rather hoping Big Love would be a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song (there has been one recently, hasn’t there?). After I got over that devastating disappointment, rather enjoyed it, particularly the hand-clappy percussion and the farting brass. Spacehog wasn’t really my thing (and kinda passed me by as I was mid-email composition), but it didn’t offend! I only know Sinead’s version of Jah No Dead and have been meaning to investigate the Burning Spear original. Is there a version without seaside noises on it?! I’m finding them a bit distracting. Otherwise, it’s great (much better than Sinead’s take). I’m a bit ambivalent about Edwyn. Love the odd song (Rip It Up, Hope and Despair), less keen on others (A Girl Like You). Think I need to hear this a few more times to decide. Great to hear him sounding so… alive though! I quite liked that cover of Tower Of Song that TJ did – presumably off this same album. I’m less convinced by this. But then, no-one has a voice as lovely as Linda Thompson in my book, so this was always gonna have a hard time winning me over.

    • That is just wonderful. Sinead’s definitely been listening to the a cappella version. I think I prefer this full band take.

      • Bish: I think the acapella version was done specifically for the film, Spear’s standing in the surf in the moonlight singing quietly to himself with only the lapping of the waves; I know the spot very well, it’s just a few feet from his house.

    • Sorry, Ali, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

      Absolutely bloomin’ shattered tonight, so will be in bed before even DsSis. Hope to get to these tomorrow eve.

  4. Lovely to see some Benjamin Britten in the earworms – I also saw the Opera North production of Peter Grimes at The Lowry in November and it was stunning.

    Incidentally, here is a link to a photograph of Maggi Hambling’s Britten shell in Aldeburgh that I took about 10 years ago that the BBC featured as a photograph of the week.


    Looking forward to listening to the rest of these later.

    • That’s a great photo. I posted one on the ‘Spill aeons ago with a “guess where this is” question – my brother lives in Suffolk and we used to take young Munday along to the shell and he would play underneath it. I’m not very interested in sculpture but I love this; I know some local people weren’t happy about it but I think it adds to the setting.

      • Thank you – I think the photo was taken a few months after it had first been put in place – there were still marks on it from where a local had vandalised it with paint, and I think that photo caught a lovely moment of different people standing around it wondering what to make of it all! I thought it really added something beautiful to the place and is a fitting tribute to one of the giants of 20th Century music.

    • Great photo ! I went to Death in Venice as well as Peter Grimes in the autumn, having already seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago, and only having so many pass-outs for the evening. There are fine moments in Death in Venice, but I sort if regret not taking in …Dream again. But I agree, Peter Grimes was magnificent.

      • Daddy P: Death in Venice film? I saw it when it was first released and have a vivid memory of the young boy at the train station with the adagio from the 5th symphony playing.

      • Only saw Crimes unfortunately – would love to have seen the other two, only ever having experienced them on CD (DIV is a flawed masterpiece IMHO) – and the staging of MSND looked stunning in the program notes – hopefully there will be another revival soon.

      • GF – I meant the Benjamin Britten opera. It was the centenary of his birth in November, and there were a lot of his works performed. Opera North, who are based in Leeds and tour the north and midlands, did Peter Grimes, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Death in Venice. The latter has a lot of recitative accompanied only on piano, occasionally bursting into glorious technicolour, including influences from Britten’s visit to Bali. Whereas A Midsummer Night’s Dream is gorgeous more or less all the time.

        Beltway – I shall count myself lucky for seeing both and having seen all three. And I’m sure they’ll all be back in productions revived and new.

  5. Nice set, ta everyone. Especially taken with Matthew White (that track’s getting a lot of exposure), & Spacehog (I can pretty well guarantee I’ll like anything DsD offers, especially when there’s a warning!). Nice to see a classical track. Keep em comin’

  6. I liked Big Love and the Spacehogs which were new to me, already like Tom Jones (in relatively small doses), have you heard his version of Tower of Song? It’s so depressing, makes Laughing Len sound cheerful and Burning Spear was quite lovely. Thanks!

  7. p.s. DsD if it was you who had Retribution Gospel Choir in your festive 3, I have finally got around to listening to it and loved it, downloaded another track from their website, ta for sharing it 🙂

    • Hi Beth.
      Yes it was me with RGC.
      Someone else said

      “Sparhawk releases his inner Hendrix”

      I’m not sure I’d rank it in that bracket, but it certainly is a full-on outpouring of frustrated axe-hero.

      Glad you (and others) liked it.

  8. A lovely set, great to listen to whilst driving around the city…

    Britten – as said above, a big fan of this and it is certainly catchy – also strangely evocative – I visited Aldeburgh a few years back and sat on the beach and I swear I could just hear this piece of music floating in the air, it just conjures up the sound of the whistling wind and the waves crashing on the shingle beach. Grimes really is the pinnacle of British opera

    Matthew E White – After Britten this would be my pick of the week, a gorgeous big soul tinged tune, (love the way the seagully noise segues nicely from the Sea Interlude) – can see me playing this a lot more

    Spacehog – like the spacious atmosphere of this one, pleasant enough though it does go on a bit

    Burning Spear – MP3 compression does this sort of track no favours as it just mashes the higher end of the vocals with the white noise element making it quite hard to listen to – like Burning Spear generally so will seek out a pristine copy of this and give it a fair hearing.

    Edwin Collins – haven’t heard much of his post recovery stuff, but hearing this makes me think I should rectify that – can definitely hear a change in his voice, but it adds character

    Tom Jones – like this much more than I thought I would. A couple of months back I went for a family meal in a local restaurant and they had a CD on in there (frankly it was on a bit too loud but I don’t want to come across as the archetypal old git moaning about the volume of music in public spaces) – and it was a CD of Tom Jones doing cover versions of big pop hits. It started a bit of a debate off with my father-in-law, as I refused to believe it was actually Tom Jones singing – it was just so melodramatic and over the top, so relentlessly loud in hitting the “big soul notes” with overdone vibrato and absolutely no room for nuance and subtlety and just full of “whoops” and “yells”, that I was convinced it was a really bad Tom Jones impersonator – it didn’t help that the backing tracks sounded like the cheapest, nastiest, MIDI keyboard karaoke tracks imaginable. I was utterly convinced it was one of those 99p CDs you get in a clearance rack at a service station called something like “Billy B sings Hits in the Style of Tom Jones” where only the words “Tom Jones” and “Hits” are in a readable size font.

    Anyway, it turns out it really was an actual CD of the actual Tom Jones (the CD was called “Under the Covers…Again” should you wish to experience the full hip gyrating horror for yourself) and I found myself thinking that it was such a shame that a man with such a real talent (even if its not always to my taste) should be reduced to producing such garbage that sounds like no more than a bad parody of himself. Then I hear this – and almost want to rejoice, there he is, using his voice properly, calling on his interpretive powers to find the light and shade in this song, really adding to the emotional pull of it and reminding us that when he wants to, he is a very talented singer. Bet this is nowhere well as known as any of the rubbish on his covers album.

  9. Worth saying that Benjamin Britten’s greatest earworm also comes from Peter Grimes – it’s the drunken round “Old Joe has gone fishing” which I was singing to myself for weeks after I saw the Opera North production of this in November

  10. Another splendid set and well playlisted. I’m impressed with how well the Britten segues into Matthew E White and I like the tune too. I’ve always thought Tom Jones sang everything like a Tom Jones parody, but that song is a revelation. All good this week, though from across West Yorkshire I can hear the check-out operative putting out a discreet “code red” for the incident in aisle number 3….

  11. Keep meaning to have a proper listen and comment. It’ll be time for next weeks worms if I dilly dally any longer so…………….
    Ben Britten – lovely, dreamy, atmospheric.
    Matthew White – Love this. The seagulls reminded me of Tomorrow Never Knows.
    Spacehog – Liked this one ok too but not singing the chorus so far……….
    Burning Spear – have this on vinyl. His response to jibes about the death of Selassie I think. Prefer this version to the one with band although yes the MP3 does lose a bit of the depth.
    Edwin Collins – Hmmm. I only really know Girl Like You and Rip It Up. This was a good one. Must make a point of hearing some more.
    Tom Jones – One of his best vocals I think. None of the bellowing he sometimes resorts to. I think the song does more for him than he does for the song but it’s certainly a moving rendition.

    • Matthew White / Spacehog combination made me think of ‘Demented Man’ on Hawkwind’s original ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’ album. That has seagulls too, but I couldn’t find a download without buying 3 versions of the same album for £18.00. So you’ll have to take my word for it.

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