Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Back when I started this musical-themed blog, in one of the first articles, there was a brief mention of some of my first musical discoveries. I presume that most people's first music is whatever their parents are listening to, which is my daughters are partial to Hotel California, anything by Imiskoubria and Peggy Zina (yuk!). (Imiskoubria are a greek hip-hop band for those who don't know)
I often find that some of this music has been indelibly etched into the brain, never to be erased. That must be because, at such young ages, our brain is much more impressionable.
And that must be why I can remember almost word for word the lyrics from pretty much everything by the Carpenters, Carole King, The sound of Music and The king and I!
Which of course has lead my wife to asking often "Are you SURE you aren't gay?"
I really love all of this music, even the musicals and even though I never considered myself to be a big "musicals" fan.

There is however one musical which I also used to listen to a lot at the time and which I consider gave me my first true Rock roots. This was "Jesus Christ Superstar".

Even know when I hear the staccato rhythm of the opening of "Heaven on their minds" I can't help a little air guitar...

It was only much-much later that I discovered that it was Ian Gillan who sang/played the part of Jesus and Murray Head of Judas. Also unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber's later productions , many musicians in "JCS" were hard rockers.

If anyone is interested in more info look it up on wikipedia there is extensive info.

Anyway I looked through youtube for a good version of one of the songs sung by Mr. Ian Gillan but couldn't find anything... so you must make do with this little gem.

Beyond these first musicals I listened to I avoided the rest like the plague. Especially as a one time rocker I could not be seen listening to "west side Story" , could I?
Last year though I let my guard down and went to see a fantastic production. there was a lot of hype about it and I tell you it was worth it!
Me and oldest daughter left the wonderful open air cinema (best place to see it) almost skipping and singing ABBA songs all the way...

Mamma mia!!!

I tell you, I'm not... really!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The dark music

Continuing on the theme of people we meet and the music that joins us together I shall travel back in time to 1989. It's been a year or so since I finished my national service and I have moved in to a little bedsit, my first house on my own. I have two neighbours, a girl and a boy. They are students and we meet occasionally in the corridor. They seem friendly but they are students and I am working. Our timetables are quite different... Summer comes too soon and they go back to their respective homes, a bath town and a flowery island. Autumn brings them back. As the swallows leave and the clouds take over, dark tunes emanate at night from the rooms across the corridor.
I am not accustomed to these sounds. I have grown up to a musical diet consisting mainly of rock, hard rock and rock and soul.

The music from next door I can only initially describe as dark. Oh, I have listened to my share of "dark" music but it is altogether of a very different "tone" of darkness. Black Sabbath, Aphrodite's Child, Iron Butterfly. Far out man! Dark yes but also naive in a way.

The song was supposedly called in the garden of eden but the singer was so stoned he pronounced it in-a-gadda-da-vida. kaloooo!

So what are these sounds from next door that are so new to me? They are Nick Cave, they are the Fall, they are the Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil and many many others. on the lighter side they are the Inspiral Carpets and the Stone Roses.
Unaccustomed as my ears were it took me a while but I came to love their music too.

My two mentors were a little younger than me at the time, and living their student years to the full! And they haven't changed much either. we still keep in touch... don't we?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Strangeloves!

I was never very much of an Elvis Costello fan. It isn't that I didn't like him, but rather I didn't happen upon any of his stuff. I was too busy listening to other things. One notable exception was his song "Oliver's Army". This I had on a compilation tape given me by my best mate, Spiro. I liked that song, and in hindsight should have sought out more of his stuff. After all it was the 80s!!
Anyway it so happened that I was to hear many more of his songs and come to appreciate them and love them in another way...

A few years ago, I was playing in a band, with some friends. Part of our band (the more musically proficient part...) in cooperation with another musician friend set up another band on the side. We actually used to play together, as a sort of double act. We were the Blueshine Boys. They were the Strangeloves. The band members were Matt (guitar,percussion,lead vocals), David (Bass guitar, backing vocals) Raul (Rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Akis (drums, percussion).

The Strangeloves were, in my opinion, the best local band ever. They played covers,which is how I got to hear a lot of Elvis Costello songs for the first time. Songs like "Watching the detectives", "Pump it up", "Lip Service" or "Radio, radio" I heard first from the Strangeloves and then much later the originals. But in any case I have to say that for me the Strangeloves OWNED those songs... (I've been remembering song titles for the last few minutes and the Strangeloves are beginning to look like a Costello tribute band ,I know...!)

They also played other covers too. "It's different for girls", "Here comes your man", "I got a line on you" and "Summer in the city" are a few I can remember. All played beautifully with gusto and flair. Matt excelled on vocals and rhythm guitar becoming very much the flamboyant frontman on stage. David and Raul joined in on harmonies and I always got this sense that this was what a band should sound like. Every time i listen to any of the above mentioned songs I can hear the Strangeloves in the back of my mind...

I do have some footage of the Strangeloves somewhere but until i edit it you must make do with some covers of the same songs by other people... or the originals!

As with most bands here, it seems, the success story was shortlived. I can't really tell if they burned out or they faded away, but it was good while it lasted. I was their friendly sound engineer there for a while, and it was a privilege...