Going For A Song: ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II’

Kiss – God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II

This version of ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You’ by Kiss ticks a few boxes for me. It’s bound up with a memory I won’t bother you with here; it’s one of those song about, and extolling the virtues of, rock ‘n’ roll; and it’s also a cover song which does something quite different from the original. It‘s not a difference immediately obvious as it is with Devo’s cover of the Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’, but there are small elements in Kiss’s version that set it apart, and indeed above, the original Argent version. And with the addition of that preposterous II at the end of the song title I think those involved in the record recognised it as well.

In the Argent original, after the intro, there is a lengthy guitar solo before the chorus enters. Kiss truncates this solo and get straight to the chorus (why hide the best bit a minute in). The organ is also absent in Kiss’s version. I’m not saying the organ cannot be rock ‘n’ roll, but in a song about Rock ‘N’ Roll the guitars really need to be pushed to the front. Luckily Kiss understood this and do exactly that.

This doesn’t mean Kiss’s version is all bluster and no subtlety. The section where it breaks down to just guitar and harmonies is a good example of where it‘s more subtle, more thought out than Argent’s. Within Kiss’s harmonies I can hear a greater nod towards that rock ‘n‘ roll instigated by The Beatles and the Beach Boys in the sixties. And there‘s also another nod, with the slightly (purposefully I‘d contend) over the top spoken outro, to girl groups such as The Shangri-Las.

So when this song was on the radio yesterday, it felt it a bit odd when the DJ said you don’t hear that “on this radio station very often”. They may be right, but you can hear Kiss’s influence on a band such as Super Furry Animals (‘For Now and Ever’ off their first album, and not just because of the spoken outro); and SFA are a band you hear plenty of on this specific station. And if you don’t credit this link between the two bands, well, then I point to SFA’s propensity for dressing up for gigs and their elaborate stage presentation. It‘s not such a great leap from that to Kiss and ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II’.

Going For A Song: ‘In A Landscape’

John Cage – In A Landscape

This is ‘In a Landscape’ by John Cage. I was played this piece on Saturday. I knew nothing about John Cage, or his music, except I knew of him. Consequently I had no idea what or how to write about it. I’ve experienced this same sense of doubt with other genres. Dance music, for example, I’ve listened to, and have some knowledge of, but never have really felt I could write about it with any sense of depth or authority. It’s not that I couldn’t write about how ’In a Landscape’ makes me feel, or write of the solo piano there’s a kind of still beauty in it, it’s more I couldn’t substantiate these feelings by discussing the music itself, the composition. I mean it took me a while to decide, in that second sentence, if I should write ‘In a Landscape’ was a piece or a song. This question then threw up other questions around if certain styles of music need certain styles of writing. In trying to work this through I produced, in an initial draft, an ill thought out, not worked through and possibly inappropriate penis / drawer metaphor to use in a post about the music of John Cage. I did this ostensibly to keep the reader’s mind from the thought that perhaps I was merely transcribing initial thoughts on to the page about a song I’d chosen to write about at the last minute. But also I was perhaps trying to make a point that though I feel certain styles of music need, or lend themselves, to be written about it a certain way, this shouldn’t be the case, especially if it stops me thinking I can write about them. My hope then was by using this necessarily crude metaphor I might circumvent and challenge my own notions that were hobbling me. However, I removed the metaphor because even with that end result in mind, I persisted with the metaphor, I admit, beyond what was necessary (one sentence) which I couldn’t excuse. By taking it out now I’m not sure whether I’ve caved into that doubt. But I’ll leave out and leave it at this: though it’s sometimes good to have that authority, on other occasions something might be reached by not having it.

Going For A Song: ‘Sign On The Window’

Bob Dylan – Sign On The Window

I’m currently reading Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley. At over 700 pages I’m only a quarter of a way through, but already I’m seriously impressed. One of the things evident is the enthusiasm and the love Stanley has for his subject. And it is not an enthusiasm restricted to just obscure acts, musicians or songs, but an enthusiasm that extends to those more well-known episodes in pop history.

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Going For A Song: ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’

Little Feat – Rock And Roll Doctor

I like songs written about the benefits of music, and I particularly like songs written about the benefits of rock ‘n’ roll. So after last week’s post on impotence *best radio link voice* here’s just the tonic in the form of Little Feat’s ‘Rock And Roll Doctor’.

Going For A Song: ‘Quick, Before It Melts’

Cinerama – Quick, Before It Melts

I can’t think of many songs written on the subject of impotence. Only two come to mind (though there has to be at least one blues song?): Art Brut’s ‘Rusty Guns of Milan’ and Cinerama’s ‘Quick, Before It Melts’.

Cinerama’s is the better song, I think, for not just being solely about the subject. David Gedge captures, in his lyrics and ushered in vocals, the precariousness of the entire venture; and Cinerama’s music – slurring picked guitar lines on the verses, loud martial like guitars and drums on the chorus, strings prominent when they need to be – provides the suitable soundtrack for the subject.

Going For A Song: ‘Didn’t We Almost Have It All’

Whitney Houston – Didn’t We Almost Have It All

This week’s blog post concerns Adele’s song ‘Hello’ as much as it does Whitney Houston’s ‘Didn’t We Almost Have It All’.

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Going For A Song: ‘Lonesome Valley’

Richard Dyer-Bennet – Lonesome Valley

You may be preparing for Christmas. You may be stuck for a present to get that music loving relative. So, instead of choosing a Christmas song, I’m using this week to write up a few music books I’ve enjoyed this year (though most have not been necessarily published this year).

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