POP EXPLORED. Part five. Enough Christmas Mozart; time to excavate youth’s psyche. Positive things to say about these three.
Machine. There but for the grace of God go I. (rec. Grandson Ian). But for the soul-destroying bump-bump drumming this would be an engaging song with singers who have audible characters, coherent lyrics going somewhere, a complex tune and – goodness! – choruses. Genuine musical/structural skills, singing propelled by the beat (elsewhere, often not the case), and roots in jazz’s periphery.
Now they gotta split because the Bronx isn’t fit
For a kid to grow up in.
Let’s find a place they say, somewhere far away,
With no blacks, no Jews, no gays.
Leonard Cohen. Hallelujah. Never heard him before but felt I knew the tune. Possible defect (but not for me) is it’s perhaps too well organised, not least the way the verse cleverly grows from monotone Sprechstimme into repeated melodic refrain of title. Then dares to do it again. Includes extremely professional eight-bar organ solo done at high speed. Microphone persona well studied with the rakishly angled trilby and the left fist clenched as if from arthritis. Lyrics audible but unexceptional; some kind of emotional failure deliberately understated, I assume. Hurray for the oldie!
The Smiths. How soon is now? (rec. Professional Bleeder – says it’s her favourite). A synthesised wobble-board, later tricked out with bell textures, provides the background. Usual dull drumming. Pleasingly masculine rather than androgynous, twittery voices. Lasts 6 min. 48 seconds but lyric fragmentation means much of track is instrumental. Quite literate lyrics easily misunderstood: I am the Sun, and the Air turns out to be:
I am the son, and the heir,
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar,
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular.