Do You Remember Bob Mould?

Five Things You May Not Know About Bob Mould

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American Tunes

Paul Simon turned 70 this week and here are seven songs from both phases of his career as performed by female artists. The first four were originally released as part of his musical partnership with Art Garfunkel. The Bangles’ hit version of A Hazy Shade of Winter from 1987 is the most well-known of those. Lucy Wainwright Roche’s America appears on her 2010 debut called Lucy and Joan Baez’s Dangling Conversation is taken from her 1967 release, Joan. Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini’s interpretation of The Sounds of Silence is from a 1996 compilation called Stone Free. The final three songs represent Simon’s solo career and begin with Hearts and Bones by Crooked Still singer Aoife O’Donovan from 2004. Susan Werner sings Something So Right on her 2007 Last of the Good Straight Girls album. Finally, Julie Doiron’s downbeat reworking of Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard was recorded live in Minneapolis in 2002. Happy belated birthday, Mr. Simon

A Hazy Shade of Winter (Simon & Garfunkel cover) – The Bangles

America (Simon & Garfunkel cover) – Lucy Wainwright Roche

Dangling Conversation (Simon & Garfunkel cover) – Joan Baez

The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel cover) – Emiliana Torrini

Hearts & Bones (Paul Simon cover) – Aoife O’Donovan

Something So Right (Paul Simon cover) – Susan Werner

Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard (Paul Simon cover) – Julie Doiron

The North Sea Scrolls

Luke Haines recently announced that he’s about to release the follow-up to 2009’s 21st Century Man. The new album has the rather improbable title of 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early ’80s. And, apparently, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I’ve been following Haines’ career ever since the release of New Wave by The Auteurs in 1993. The band were always on the margins of Britpop and Haines later changed musical direction to form the electonic group Black Box Recorder. Haines has also collaborated with other musicians and has released a few solo records. He’s even written a couple of memoirs, beginning in 2009 with Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall. Haines was quite uncomplimentary about his fellow Britpoppers, with Blur and Radiohead amongst his victims. I’ve seen him once in concert, when he performed recently at Cabaret Voltaire during the Edinburgh Festival. The show was advertised as the North Sea Scrolls and all I knew beforehand was that he’d be joined on stage by a number of companions. When I got to the gig, I was delighted to discover that Cathal Coughlan was one of those guests and that they would also be joined by the writer Andrew Mueller and the cellist Audrey Riley

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Late Nights With The Power Pop

The American singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet celebrates his 47th birthday today. I first heard of him in 1991 when he released his breakthrough album, Girlfriend, a record I’ll be looking at when it reaches its 20th anniversary in a few weeks. The type of music Sweet performs belongs to a genre known as power pop, which feature vocal harmonies and strong melodies as well as memorable guitar licks. Groups like The Beatles and Big Star have exerted the biggest influence on the genre. Sweet has covered these bands throughout his career and, with the help of Susanna Hoffs, released two fine albums of songs from the sixties and seventies. Their version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes? is taken from the first of those and features Hoffs on lead vocals with Sweet providing harmonies and the guitar parts. It’s preceded by three songs that Sweet has contributed to tribute albums over the years. Big Sky appears on This is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies. Let Me Be the One is from If I Were a Carpenter. And his quite effective take on the theme from Scooby Doo is part of a musical celebration of Saturday morning cartoon shows. The final song is Death Cab for Cutie’s acoustic version of the opening track from Sweet’s 100% Fun album. Sweet’s just released a new album called Modern Art and you can download a free track from it at his website. From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds like it could be a welcome return to previous form. Both the new album and Girlfriend are available in a number of different formats and I’ll reveal more when I revisit Girlfriend on October 22nd. Hope you have a sweet birthday, Matthew

Big Sky (Kinks cover) – Matthew Sweet

Let Me Be the One (Carpenters cover) – Matthew Sweet

Scooby Doo, Where Are You? – Matthew Sweet

Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Sandy Denny cover) – Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

Sick of Myself (Matthew Sweet cover) – Death Cab for Cutie

I Quite Like Wednesdays, Actually

Former Boomtown Rat and current saint, Bob Geldof, celebrates his 60th birthday today. These days he’s best known as the organiser of Live Aid and its successor, Live 8, but there was a time when he helped to pave the way for Irish success on the international music stage. Geldof formed The Boomtown Rats in Dublin just as punk was kicking off on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1977, the band’s first single finished just outside the top spot in Ireland and also the top ten in England. Lookin’ After Number One, musically and lyrically, had much in common with the ethos of punk rock. It opens with pounding drums and is followed by some thrashy guitar before Geldof’s sneering vocals enter. The narrator is out of work and angry with society, but is adamant that he’ll do his own thing. This ideology would also appear to be the singer’s and it wasn’t too long before he could be heard railing against the status quo on TV. The band continued to have hits, though their sound could be described as new wave on subsequent releases. In 1978, their second album produced the band’s first UK number one, though it stalled at number two in their own country. Rat Trap replaced the prominent guitars with saxophone and piano and the song was more influenced by Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen than punk. It’s basically a song The Boss might have written if he’d grown up in Dublin instead of Asbury Park

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Time Is On My Side

Last week it was Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday and today it’s the turn of Charlie Watts. Here are four covers of songs by the Stones where Charlie’s drumming was to the fore on the originals. Next up is Murray Lachlan Young’s paranoid though hilarious tale about an encounter with Charlie and his band. He’s followed by the Stones’ version of Barrett Strong’s well-known song before a crowd called Antihero finish up with their tune about the even more renowned logo of Jagger’s lips that has adorned tons of t-shirts down the years. Happy birthday, Charlie

Out of Time (Rolling Stones cover) – The Ramones Acid Eaters (1993)

19th Nervous Breakdown (Rolling Stones cover) – 5678s 19th Nervous Breakdown 7″ (2004)

Paint It, Black (Rolling Stones cover) – Echo & the Bunnymen People Are Strange 7″ (1987)

Tumbling Dice (Rolling Stones cover) – Diesel Park West Uncut Gimme Shelter Volume One (2002)

I’m Being Followed by the Rolling Stones – Murray Lachlan Young Vice & Verse (1997)

Money (That’s What I Want) (Barrett Strong cover) – The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones EP (1964)

Rolling Stones T-Shirt – Antihero Rolling Stones T-Shirt 7″ (2002)

How Does It Feel, Bob?

Barack Obama’s first official visit to Ireland came and went yesterday. It was certainly a success as the US president knocked back a pint of Guinness in the village of Moneygall and got to show off his command of the Irish language in Dublin. Another famous American who has been a regular visitor to these shores in recent years celebrates his 70th birthday today. In the early sixties, Bob’s music had been used to soundtrack the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Dylan’s championing by the movement was not something he encouraged, though he was present at the march in Washington on August 28th, 1963, when Martin Luther King delivered his powerful I Have a Dream speech

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