Love is like a cloudy day
Doug Parkinson’s single Love is like a cloudy day, written and produced for him by Vanda and Young, is one of those songs. Why it wasn’t a monster hit when released (whereas ‘Let’s hear it for the boy’ and the works of Meatloaf, to name just two varieties of music I thoroughly disapprove of, were) is a thorough and complete locked and sealed box of a mystery. The song has everything and a little bit more. It has, firstly, Doug Parkinson which is not always enough, but it’s pretty great, and he belts the fucker out. It has a ridiculously catchy singalong chorus that your grandma would love (and she possibly did, since she was 14 when it came out). It has a hot drummer who does the most fabulous fluttery fill just before the chorus as well as being rock-solid in the bulk of the song. It has horns perfectly tuned to the aura of Doug Parkinson. It has, probably, Vanda and Young doing backup. It has piano played by a gorilla in a gorilla suit, using large concrete bananas to hit the keys. It has a gospelish bridge and fabulous wheedley but not inconsequential guitar as well. It has the dumbarsest central concept. ‘Love is like a cloudy day, it comes and goes and that’s the way… someone soon will blow those clouds away.’ What is possibly, probably really meant is that ‘LACK OF love is like a cloudy day, if love be like a sunny day’.
Shoop shoop diddy etc
Monte Video and the Cassettes’ Shoop Shoop Diddy Waka waka etc’ is a lost classic, with Monte Video as a cross between Jona Lewie and Sid James (with a big ostentatious nod to Eric Idle’s ‘Nudge, nudge’ character). It is also, surely accidentally, is quite gender-transgressive, in ways that Jona Lewie and Sid James tended not to be, if you ask me. Not because it is primarily about an interaction between a horny feller at a ‘little party, nothing formal’ and a girl who ‘looked like normal’ but turns out to have unexpected sexual tastes which affront, yet do not ultimately put him off. No, the gender transgression is as the song fades out, and Monte asks ‘what kind of girl do you think I am?’ That throws me completely into confusion. Are Monte and the girl both girls? He certainly sounds like a bloke. In fact the tail-out lines are: ‘What sort of a girl do you think I am? Well, alright. Now you’ll think I’m awful! Got a light?’
18 with a bullet
Pete Wingfield’s 18 with a bullet might well be the best record ever made by anyone ever. I mean, there are surely other contenders, I know Friday on my mind has a strong case, and Micro-chips and fish by the Red Crayola, and The Flood by the Blue Orchids. But 18 with a bullet has something those three songs don’t, which is an absolutely impeccable combination of crushed, fucked metaphor that doesn’t make sense, and totally perfect metaphor that is funny and witty. Is that throwaway? Maybe; I tend to see it as the genius of Wingfield peering through the cracks of his own conceit, showing us he knows how fragile it is, and yet making something more heartfelt out of his theatrical frippery.
The song is riddled with joke references to the charts. The title, obviously, which is also the first line, though the second line is the first poke (‘got my finger on the trigger – I’m gonna pull it). ‘I’m picked to click now’ is a bit of jive speak which might have come from some bad DJ; then ‘I’m the son of a gun’, which goes back to the gun reference and delightfully doesn’t make no sense. ‘I may be an oldie but I’m a goodie too’ says Wingfield (but he’s only 18; how old is that?). ‘I’m a super soul sure shot – a national breakout’, then he wants to ‘check your playlist momma’ – what’s that mean?
This is when the song totally freaks out, with a blissful soaring chorus-like element and the sensational line, ‘we got a smash double header if we only stay together’ and a grouse sax solo. Wingfield gets cute when he says that ‘Right now I’m a-single, but pretty soon you’ll see…’; he advocates ‘raising a whole LP’ with his beloved and then tells her the house is too small. This is when you realise and appreciate what Wingfield is doing. It’s not some guy making cracks about the charts. It’s a SONG singing to a SONG, using SONG. It’s pop seducing itself. How could anything be more wonderful to listen to? It’s a peacock display. I mean, Dave Graney can sing about being deep inside a song, or about being a star pretending to be an imitator of that same star, and so on. But Wingfield goes beyond reflexive and has created a record with needs and wants. I’d love to know what record ’18 with a bullet’ had his eye on. I suspect it might be Sylvia’s ‘Pillow Talk’ (which, by the way, Graney used to cover).
Rock ‘n’ roll love letter
Meh, after 18 with a bullet, you just think ‘meh’ about Rock ‘n’ roll love letter, though it is still in the top 1% of genius. It’s got these lines, soon after the singer tells his parents that he loves them:
Cos I see a nascent rhythm
In a man’s genetic code
I’m gonna keep on rock ‘n’ rolling
Till my jeans explode.
That is almost certainly not what is being sung there, though it is most certainly what it most sounds like. And that is hot.
Taste ‘Tickle your fancy’
I don’t ‘get’ drummers like Virgil Donati, who seem too virtuoso for the real world, never able to play the same thing twice, Ian Wadley style, I mean always ABLE to but when was the last time either of them did it? But I gotta say on this track he nails it like jesus to a child. And the rest of Taste are totally ballsy, and the song is totally all about being a member of Taste, and playing a show and some girl is sexy and Taste want her to give it (her fancy, I imagine) to them. Buh! And there are funny lines in amongst the bluster about how the singer of Taste ‘didn’t want to meet your father’. I think this is a b-side but it should've been B+