Who runs this place?!
The elevators in my building play music at an obscenely low volume during the day. It seems to get just a skosh louder as it gets closer to 5pm. That’s usually the only time I’m able to identify anything they’re playing. I usually assume it’s typical “muzak” sort of stuff and don’t bother straining my ears or running Shazam but TODAY, today was different. It was about 5:30pm when I was leaving the building and the unmistakable whine of one Elvis Costello could be heard through those muted elevator speakers!I had barely been able to step outside my office all day so I was instantly happy to hear a familiar (albeit petulant) voice and it just so happened to be my favorite song off Get Happy!! (“Opportunity”). It was the perfect little dipper for the end of an otherwise sauce-less day.
The Beatles are awesome (Sgt. Pepper is #2 in my Top 300 Albums for Pete’s sake!). Nobody does it like the Beatles…except when they do…and they do it better. Here are 5 instances where bands made songs that sound JUST LIKE THE BEATLES, only better.
1) Dave Clark Five, “Because” (1964)
There are five of them, so that should be our first hint. Aside from that, Dave Clark Five (affectionately referred to as DC5) sound EXACTLY LIKE THE BEATLES, especially their early stuff. I’m thinking the goods off Please Please Me and Twist and Shout (particularly “From Me to You”). Earlier in 1964, DC5 had a little single called “Glad All Over” which knocked “I Want to Hold Your Hand” out of the UK Singles Chart. BOOM! Alas, they did not have the staying power our beloved mop-tops did. “Because” remains with us though as one of the lost Beatles gems…that wasn’t by the Beatles.
2) The Monkees, “Last Train to Clarksville” (1966)
The first time I heard “Last Train to Clarksville” I thought, this is the coolest Beatles song I’ve ever heard! Only, I hadn’t ever heard it. Not by the Beatles anyway. Because it’s by The Monkees. It has serious echoes of “Paperback Writer” though, and I think you could slot it into A Hard Day’s Night and no one would notice. Better yet, stick it on Help!. That album needs all the, ahem, help it can get.
3) The Kinks, “A Well Respected Man” (1965)
From the 1965 album Kinkdom, it’s a little more obviously on the snarky side than we’re used to with the Beatles…because it’s The Kinks. Ray Davies wrote the song after a nasty run-in with some snooty upper-crusters at a fancy-pants hotel left a bad taste in his mouth. “Well Respected Man” was Davies’ way of deriding their smug behavior and affectations. Message received, Ray!
4) The Hollies, “Bus Stop” (1966)
Ahh, the Hollies. One of Remo’s favs. This song is straight from the grooves of Beatles for Sale. Maybe even Rubber Soul. And not that this has anything to do with anything, but “Bus Stop” was written by Graham Gouldman, future member of 10cc!
5) Swinging Blue Jeans, “The Hippy Hippy Shake” (1962)
This one was so spot-on that the Beatles themselves actually did a cover version of it in a BBC session! It also has the distinct honor of being featured in the 1994 classic, Angels in the Outfield. If you don’t want to watch Danny Glover play coach (why wouldn’t you want to do that–weird), skip to 1:34 when Adrien Brody hits the ball (possibly for the first time ever?). Classic.
*Honorable Mention: Badfinger, “No Matter What” (1970)
This song could be a later Beatles jam but it’s basically too hip. We’ll leave it to Badfinger at this point. Just as an aside though, the version that was released on the album No Dice was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Just sayin’…
Thanks for sampling the Sauce! Stay tuned for more.
Today we talk about Ammnesia, the 1989 Mr. Fingers release. Spanning the length of a supreme 69 minutes, most of the tracks (other than “Beyond the Clouds” and “Mystery of Love”) clock in at approximately 5 minutes which is just long enough for Fingers to reach into our brains, give ’em a quick rub, then release us into the ether of the clouds he’s showcased for us on the sleeve.
The opening track, “Can You Feel It,” is arguably the best on the album. It is serene but jazzy; relaxed but also driving—basicalllllly…everything I come to Chicago House for. “Washing Machine” makes you feel like you are in the midst of a lather-rinse-repeat permanent press load. About 3 minutes into this mindbend, the beat kind of cuts out and all we hear is the “ti-ti-tin-tin-tink-tink” of what I can only imagine is Mr. Heard’s own Kenmore machine reaching its spin cycle.
Roundabout “Slam Dance” and “Stars,” Ammnesia takes us from the laundry room out into space where I have spent the most time with Larry Heard vis-à-vis Sceneries Not Songs Volume One. I looove when shit gets spacey, when we’re dipped temporarily into a galaxy of lights and sounds. But we can’t just lounge in the “Stars” and “Waterfalls” forever can we? No, we can’t. Want to know why? Because side one of disc two on this double LP is begging us—”Let’s Dance All Night” (well okay!). This is in competition with the opener for my favorite track because it is so consistently rad. If I had to pick a weak point on this album, it would be “The Juice.” It doesn’t seem to flow as smoothly with the others (despite the implications of its name). It’s still sick and it’s not like I would CUT it. But if you held a gun to my head and said, “goddamit pick a weak point on Ammnesia!” that would be my pick. The album closes out with “Mystery of Love,” a tremendous 7-minute song that earns its name in spades.
So there you have it, a brief run-down on Ammnesia. What’s YOUR favorite track, I wonder? And, if pressed, which one would you cut??
Thanks for dipping into the Sauce, stay dreamy.