The Pitchfork 500 – Candido To Goblin

After my last post, the epic Post Punk Part 2, it’s a much shorter one this time. Partly because there’s only five songs, and also because I don’t know too much about four of them, so I’m not going to talk much about them. Except for Kate Bush, obviously.

Now, you’ll know Candido’s “Jingo” even if you don’t recognise the name. It’s a classic slab of Salsoul from late ’70’s New York and mixes disco thump with jazz-inflected keyboards and funk guitar. And you’ll know that “HUNH!” from being sampled by everyone.

Dinosaur was a band put together by cellist Arthur Russell and DJ Nicky Siano, and featured the likes of David Byrne on guitar. Russell was classically trained, and played cello alongside writing disco tunes and pop songs; he was also unable to ever finish what he was doing. At his tragically early death (in 1992), he left behind 1000 tapes of music, including 40 tapes full of different mixes of a single song. In this song, “Kiss Me Again”, he brings a certain organic, live feel to disco. One can only wonder what he could have become if he could have concentrated on just one style, and focused on it. (Oh, and Dinosaur Jr were originally called “Dinosaur” until the legal folks stepped in)

When I first heard Monster’s “There But For The Grace Of God Go I” I thought “This sounds a bit like Kid Creole and The Coconuts”, and then went “Doh!” when I realised it was indeed written by Kid Creole himself, August Darnell. It’s a good little cut of what he does best – funky, tropical beats with a great singalong chorus. Shoddily remixed by Heller and Farley a few years ago, too. Perfectly nice tune, but can’t say it’s my cup of tea. But don’t forget kids, “Too much love is worse than none at all”.

Kate Bush appeared out of nowhere in January 1978 and made us all look at her video on Top Of The Pops and go “What the bloody hell?”. Well, I didn’t quite say that, I was only six, but the thought was definitely there. It’s an incredible song, and she looks absolutely possessed by her character. Funny thing is, Word Magazine recently did a set of articles about her, mainly by journalists who had met her over the years, and they all to a man (for they were all men) said she was totally normal and down to earth, a little shy and reluctant to discuss her private life, but utterly lovely. She’s one of those rare cases of a fantastic, hugely successful musician who doesn’t combine it with being a total show-off. Oh yes, the video:

See? Obviously bonkers. Totally, utterly, uniquely bonkers song, and even more amazing that it was written by an 18-year old, who had to fight with her record label to release it was her first single (they wanted it to be a B-side, but she eventually won. The single hit Number 1 in the UK). This says a lot for how the music industry used to be run. Singles weren’t checked by loads of focus groups and the marketeers, and PR’d to within an inch of their life. It was just up to a few people to make the decision, and occasionally something deeply odd like this would be released, and become a massive hit.

As I said in the first part of the Pitchfork 500 review, much of the early tracks on the list are mainstream songs, but just as odd (if not odder) as the last tracks on the list, who wouldn’t be recognised by the man on the street. So, these days, it’s probably easier to be unusual – with the Internet, blogging, MySpace etc you’ll hopefully find like-minded people, but you won’t get a major label deal and you certainly won’t appear on The X Factor or Amerikkka’s Got Talent. Can you imagine a 19-year old Kate Bush in front of Simon Cowell et al? She’d have been laughed out of the audition room (if she had even got that far). But the major labels, for all their massive faults, did sometimes tell us about truly remarkable talents, and give them the chance to develop how they wanted.

We won’t ever see the likes of Kate Bush become national treasures again.

And so, what more can I say about the song? Based on the last 10 minutes of Emily Bronte’s book (you don’t need me to tell you it’s called Wuthering Heights do you?), it features Catherine Earnshaw’s words. Bush’s vocal gymnastics are challenging and brave, the music is delightful, segueing gently from the minor verse into the major key chorus of “Heathcliff, it’s me, Cathy, come home\I’m so cold, let me into your window”. Now, frankly, it’s not a song to ever try at karaoke. Even the Bryan May-esque guitar solo at the end is nicely understated.

Goblin. Aaargh! Prog Rock! Worse, Italian Prog Rock! But it’s actually a pretty decent tune and, being the theme tune for the horror flick “Suspiria”, is also creepy. Full of squelchy synths, bells, ominous tom-toms, and what sounds to me like a gamelan. The song has also aged remarkably well. Reminds me a bit of the Halloween theme tune, which is an odd coincidence given that the next tune on the list featured in that film. ‘Till next time.

Suspiria by Goblin

The whole list is available here.

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1 Comment

  1. kate bush. all of the spice girls mixed together. with a flake on top. 😉

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