With You On The Beach

April 21, 2011

Nico Fidenco: Con te sulla spiaga

An Italian pop song from the 60s. So odd in so many ways. Came across this song in my record collection in the wordless cover version below.

Noo toons

October 9, 2010

Just to prove that my musical taste didn’t ossify circa the disco era, here’s actual new music that I’ve been listening to lately:

Jay Brannan: Good Mother

Jay Brannan first caught my attention in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus. I just bought his latest CD In Living Cover which is mostly covers plus two originals. His stripped down version of Jann Arden’s “Good Mother” is my favourite cover of this song – maybe even as good as Jann’s original (which I love).

Perfume Genius: Learning

I heard this song performed live on Q on CBC Radio 1 on Friday and was blown away by the voice and raw emotion. Perfume Genius is Seattle musician Mike Hadreas. I may have to buy his debut CD Learning, though I think I may prefer the four live videos on YouTube to the album cuts which all seem to be drowning in reverb and other audio effects.

Okay, it’s not all new music. I saw Xavier Dolan’s stylish new film Les amours imaginaires (they’ve given it the prosaic title Heartbeats in English) at the EIFF a couple of weeks ago and now I adore Dalida’s over-the-top version of Sonny and Cher’s “Bang Bang” which is used a few times in the film. It’s also the soundtrack for the trailer:

here’s the full song:

Dalida: Bang Bang

Odds are you’ve never heard of Dalida. Seems she sold millions of records just about everywhere except English speaking countries. Very briefly: Born 1933 in Egypt to Italian parents. Miss Egypt 1954. Moved to Paris 1955 to pursue a screen career. Signed to a record contract by Eddy Barclay. Made movies in France, Italy, Egypt. Had many failed marriages and suicide attempts. Reinvented herself several times. OD’d on barbiturates in 1987, apparent suicide at age 54. Check out her full bio at All Music or one of the many websites devoted to her. I have one of her French LPs in my collection – Coup de chapeau au passé. One side is ballads, the other is disco.

Incidentally, I highly recommend Les amours imaginaires though I hear it’s not as adventurous as Dolan’s début film J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), which I’ve yet to see.

I only discovered Auto-Tune The News on Friday and I can’t get enough.

I’m on the fence about this record. It’s pretty bad, but not necessarily in ways I enjoy.

Here are a few representative tracks (I’m keeping it nameless to avoid any egosurfing awkwardness).




Use the comments to justify your vote.

Having finished soundtracks, I’ve moved on to school bands and choirs. Here are half a dozen cuts that have charmed me and will charm you too, I hope:


Tiffany: Beatle Medley (1975)
Not the Tiffany that sang I Think We’re Alone Now, this Tiffany is an all girl group of singers from Spruce Avenue School in Edmonton.


Viscount Bennett Combined Senior Mixed Chorus and “Grad” Choir: This Guy’s In Love With You (1970)

From Viscount Bennett School, Calgary.


The Action Singers: Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)

A group of 14 to 19 year olds from Lang and Milestone, Saskatchewan.


Crossroads: Me and Bobby McGee (1971)

From Holy Cross High School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


The Jug-a-Lugs: I’m Satisfied (1973)

I like the giddy false starts. These kids are from Coronation School, Coronation, Alberta. Besides the Jug-a-Lugs, this album has numbers by The Norfolk Avenue Singers, The Lovin’ Roomful (love that name), The Half Fast Jazz Band and Toot Sweet.


PITCH: That’s The Way God Planned It (ca. 1974)
PITCH (People In The Crowd Harmonists) and SPICE (Spreading Peace In Crowds Everywhere) were young musicians from St. Albert, Alberta. Our House was an “opera” performed by PITCH comprised of pop songs such as Father and Son, The Sound of Silence, I Can See Clearly Now and others.


Listened: 2,922
Loved: 2,438
Lumped: 484

What’s on, Patrick?

May 17, 2009





Last night’s Patrick Watson concert culminated (before the inevitable encores) with Watson donning this Medusa-like loudspeaker contraption and playing in the aisle with his bandmates on electric guitar, acoustic guitar and saw. Crazy awesome.

My Saturday

April 12, 2009


Breakfast: pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage, two eggs sunny side up and endless cups of the most wonderful smelling and tasting coffee.



What the heck? The Emergency Relief thrift store was open on Good Friday but not today?









The new art gallery under construction. It seems you either hate it or hate it. I think I like it. Right now it looks like something collapsed – this is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished:




Bought my ticket to see this dude.


To the library for cds and dvds


but my membership had lapsed and I didn’t want to wait in line to renew and risk a parking ticket.


Made the thrift rounds in the northeast part of town which I don’t get to very often.




…because it sucks. No thrift finds. I also trolled a couple of Giant Tiger stores I hadn’t been to before for remaindered dvds.





Late lunch at Sunterra market on the south side. Delicious soup (more like a stew) chock full of chicken chunks in spicy coconut milk broth. Then grocery shopping at Spinelli’s for pizza fixin’s.


Homemade pizza with bocconcini, feta and olives.


Enjoy your Easter.


Just payin’ his rent…

February 27, 2009


Leonard Cohen is playing Rexall Place on April 25th on his North American tour. Can you believe that Cohen – age 74 – is doing an arena tour? Tickets start at $59.24 and go up to $549.00. I know he was swindled out of $5 million from his retirement fund, but does he have to make it all back in one night?

Power Play

September 4, 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is my niece Vanessa’s entry in CBC’s contest to find a new Hockey Night in Canada theme. Maybe you heard that CBC lost the use of Dolores Claman’s hockey theme that they’d been using since 1968 when she sold it to CTV for a reputed 2.5 to 3 million dollars. The winner of the CBCs contest will not be nearly so well rewarded – the prize is $100,000 plus half of performance royalties (the other half going to minor hockey). Still, it would be a nice payday for Vanessa. If you’d like to comment on Vanessa’s song, do it at the contest website (registration required), not here. Although ratings and comments aren’t the only thing that determines which songs make the “semi-finals,” they’re probably one factor in helping the judges choose which songs advance. Semi-finalists will be announced on October 4th, after which public voting will decide two finalists and then the winner. Competition will be stiff – more than 12,000 entries have been received.

CDs of the Week

May 7, 2008

Yesterday while I was waiting for my prescriptions to be filled I slipped across the street to the Salvation Army store. There were almost no records (where did they all go? Surely no one bought all those religious records and Reader’s Digest box sets), but there was a nice selection of quirky, fairly recent CDs. At $1.99 per, they’re the same price as LPs at Goodwill and Value Village so I can see myself buying more thrift store CDs as the number of LPs I’m interested in continues to dwindle.

1. Jane Siberry: Shushan the Palace (Hymns of Earth)

I love Jane – so flaky, so insanely talented and creative. Maybe you know by now that she changed her name to Issa and divested herself of most of her possessions (are you there Madonna? That’s reinventing yourself). This 2003 album is Siberry’s last under her old name. A Christmas album of sorts, though I didn’t realize it until I read it somewhere. No Santa or chestnuts roasting on an open fire – instead hymns by Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, Rossetti, Holst and others. I love Jane’s soaring voice and her slow, wobbly vibrato. After two listens, Jesus Christ The Apple Tree is the track that sticks in my memory: simple and lovely.

Bonus! It’s autographed. If that signature was any more stylized it would be a straight line.

Links: Website, MySpace

2. Various: Christmas Songs

I’ve been searching for this Nettwerk Christmas compilation for years because I need Meryn Cadell’s The Cat Carol for a disc of depressing Christmas tunes I’m putting together for my friends. It may well be the worst tear-jerker of a Christmas song ever: A cat is forgotten outdoors in a blizzard on Christmas Eve. A mouse creeps by, lost in the snow, almost frozen. The cat digs a hole in a snowdrift and curls up with the mouse, keeping it from the cold. Santa comes along and finds the cat frozen to death. He discovers the mouse still alive in the cat’s warm fur. Reindeer weep. Santa commemorates the cat’s sacrifice by turning her into a constellation.

Now I love Meryn Cadell, but I was appalled by this song the first time I heard it on the radio. It’s everything she’s not: mawkish, sentimental, cheap. I think I may be the only person in the world who feels this way – this song is much loved and requested.

Cadell is another peron who has radically reinvented herself; she kept the name but changed genders.

Links: The Cat Carol, blog

3. Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm

Aimee Mann is not someone I’ve listened to much (I saw Magnolia, that’s about it). I bought this CD because the packaging is so beautiful (you can do that when CDs are two bucks). Digipacs rule! The booklet looks like a pulp novel from the 40s or 50s with the lyrics of each song laid out like chapters. The gorgeous illustrations are by Owen Smith. It’s a concept album – a musical “novella” about a troubled couple who meet, fall in love and take a road trip across America.

click to enlarge

Also, I was thinking I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas sounded like it might be right for my depressing Christmas comp. Aimee has a Christmas CD (who doesn’t?) but it looks too upbeat for my purposes.

Links: Aimee Mann. Owen Smith, more Owen Smith