Archive | April, 2013

Song of the Week: “The Day It Rained Forever” – Aurora UK

30 Apr

I stumbled across this track years ago while trolling for dance music on YouTube. I was familiar with the band already because of earlier tracks like “Hear You Calling” and their cover of Tasmin Archer’s “Sleeping Satellite,” neither of which held much interest for me. But this track—featuring the vocals of Lizzy Pattinson, older sister of Twilight’s Robert—just nailed it: perfect dance-pop. According to Wikipedia, it reached #29 in the UK in 2002 but was never released in America.

Song of the Week: “Secret Oktober” – Duran Duran

26 Apr

I was a pretty decent Duranie by the time I left high school—due more to their Notorious album than to their earlier records—but a roommate told me that one of their best songs was one I’d never heard, found only on the b-side of 1983’s “Union of the Snake” 45. And he was right. Written, recorded, and mixed within 24 hours to meet a deadline, “Secret Oktober” has a spare, haunting appeal.

Just a few years ago, I watched an interview where Simon Le Bon remarked how the song’s rise in popularity over the years surprised him. The first video is the studio version, the second a wonderful live arrangement filmed in 1998 when the band consisted of only Le Bon, Rhodes, and Cuccurullo.

Song of the Week: “The Runner” – The Three Degrees

17 Apr

“When Will I See You Again?” and the theme song to Soul Train are the most familiar tunes by this trio, but “The Runner” is way more entertaining, plus it’s a super sing-a-long track. I’m using this live version not just because it’s a great performance, but I love how the PA system can’t handle Sheila Ferguson’s vocals when she belts into the song.

If you want a whiter version, try Bananarama’s awesome cover on their Ultra album.

Song of the Week: “Pie Jesu” – Hayley Westenra

8 Apr

I sure like Hayley. Not as breathy—or as odd—as Sarah Brightman, and not so much “show” in her shows. Just the voice, and a wholesome ambience. This is a cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of “Pie Jesu” from his Requiem. She did a studio recording of this track early in her career, but I believe the album was only released in Japan, and the import is pricey. At least we have YouTube.

Song of the Week: “Calling You” – Jevetta Steele

2 Apr

In 1987, director Percy Adlon released his film Bagdad Café, about the unlikely friendship between a stranded German tourist (played by Marianne Sägebrecht) and the unhappy manager (CCH Pounder) of a rundown, roadstop motel in the desert outside of Las Vegas. (There was a spin-off TV series a few years later, starring Jean Stapleton and Whoopi Goldberg.)

I enjoyed the film well enough, but was utterly entranced by the primary soundtrack tune, “Calling You,” sung by Jevetta Steele and written by Bob Telson. It’s used repeatedly in the movie, often over desert images of arid, windswept beauty. Even 25 years later, it carries the same haunting quality.