Nobody does it like Prince did. His signature sound, his trademark singing, his timeless compositions.
Purple Rain is a true product of the 80s, with its synths and drum machines. The eerie, artificial sounds blend with Prince’s guitar and vocals – true cyborg music, with a very human heart!
The end of the song sees Prince’s vocals shatter and twist with emotion, screaming harshly. It’s a bit of a shock after the more laidback bulk of the track, to be honest, but the jarring change of tone makes the songs more powerful.
“The Beautiful Ones” was released in 1984. You might be able to guess which album it comes from…
It’s hardly surprising that The Beatles’ very first professionally recorded song wasn’t a sophisticated and original masterpiece such as ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ or ‘Yesterday’.
They were a young rock ‘n’ roll band from Liverpool. And when this song was recorded in 1961, they didn’t even have Ringo on board.
But I like this a lot. Paul’s bass playing is creative and nimble, and Lennon’s singing is impassioned, adding a rock star growl to what was originally a very tame 20s pop song.
The list of acts which have covered the song is too long to include here, but it was originally penned in 1927 by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen. A famous version from that era is the mellow and pleasant Gene Austin version – but it was covered by rock acts in the 50s too.
The Beatles version came out in 1964, although they did a 2nd version in 1969 which showed just how far they had progressed in 10 years musically!
This is very much art school Synthpop. It’s classy, fairly tame, and tries hard to be groundbreaking. I don’t know how much it succeeds on that front, but it’s certainly interesting. In any case, it sits prettily within a wider tradition of British synth bands.
Instead of guitars, you get electro synths overlaid with dramatic strings. Credit where it’s due – the song is a zesty one. It punches hard.
Age Of The Train is the name of a documentary presented by Jimmy Savile, which has understandably aged badly, much to the obvious delight of the band. Tongue in cheek doesn’t fully describe it!
They are actually making a point though. British trains are a bit rubbish compared to the rest of Western Europe, especially up North, where the Sheffield-based band have doubtless got some experience of the train system.
This song saw the light of day in 2019 on International Teachers Of Pop.
Even Bob Marley regarded Dennis Brown as his favourite Reggae singer. And what a career…
Dennis Brown, mirroring the development of Reggae music as a whole, started off singing American R’n’B as a young kid. He started early, recording his first album in 1970 – age 12!
The early 80s saw him pursue a more pop sound, before the dancehall era truly kicked in. This song, released in 1982 as the title track of an album, reflects that. It’s lighter disco influenced reggae, lovers rock for the masses.
But, although it’s not hardcore roots, it’s still a great tune. There’s a place for the watered down stuff, as long as it has soul. And nobody could deny that this song has soul in spades!
Wild Honey, the 1967 album which “Country Air” appears, was initially panned by music critics, which tells you all you need to know about the sheer pretentiousness and groupthink of much of that cohort…
But it’s one of the bands most powerful albums. It departs from much of their earlier material, featuring a more stripped back sound – less of their harmony singing, more piano/singer combos.
It really proves the ability of the band to conjure up enduring melodies. I like the song’s simple lyrics, too.