Wednesday, 22 April 2015

My Personal Spotify Song Analysis

Ok, I've been using this Spotify thing since it began its service in Australia in 2012.

Every month, I make a playlist that collects a song, or maybe two, by an artist from every album I've listened to during that period. It may even include songs that I occasionally hear in my head - my earworms, or they may be songs I've heard in passing, for example at someone's house, in a movie or over a shop PA, whatever and wherever, but only for the month of the playlist.

And once a song is added to the playlist for the month, it's my own little rule that they cannot be added again until the next year. This way we build a library of songs across a year with no repeats at all.

These are the playlists I share with you, dear reader, every month in these pages. They can include up to 300+ songs on them, and all of them unique.

In light of the fact that a song can only be added to a playlist once in any calendar year, I thought it would be interesting to look at the songs that have been added across the 2 and a half years of Spotify's existence to see which songs keep reappearing every year. This list would give anyone with a passing interest an idea what songs I consider to be classics. Well-worn standards that stand the test of time. As a discerning listener and one who takes music choices seriously, I would have thought you could take a list like this as a indication of quality, a list of songs that warrant repeated listening. Almost a list of songs to take to a desert island...

...well sort of. It's not quite the list I was expecting. And while there are many songs here that I would consider "Desert Island Discs", it's not an exhaustive list of said songs. It is NOT a list of how much I have played these songs, but rather how often I have returned to them and have had them important enough to be added to the playlist to take with me wherever I go.

The list does actually contain quite a few surprises. The criteria I looked at was if, in a list of over 7000 titles, how many appeared on the list three times (one for each year from 2012 to 2014 inclusive). I have no idea why "Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters appears on this list three times. Or how anything by Motley Crue has ended up on here once in every year, let alone the same track three times. And why, out of all the Aerosmith tracks I adore, did the title track of a fairly mediocre album become the most selected song from them on here?

Take a look at the list below and have a listen to the Spotify playlist below. Let me know if you think these are the most worthy songs you've ever heard. What songs would you include by a band if not the ones listed here?


Aerosmith Get a Grip
Audioslave Cochise
America Sister Golden Hair
Anthrax Time
Bad Books You Wouldn't Have To Ask
Bernard Fanning Songbird
Billy Bragg Between The Wars
Blind Melon No Rain
Blondie Atomic
Bruce Springsteen Lucky Town
Cast Alright
Cats and Jammers Spitball
Cheap Trick Mighty Wings
Cosmic Rough Riders Justify The Rain
Cowboy Junkies Sweet Jane
D.R.I. Marriage
Dan Reed Brave New World
Donovan Sunshine Superman
Eddie Floyd Knock On Wood
Extreme Stop The World
Faces Ooh La la
Icehouse Walls
Focus Anonymous
Fountains of Wayne Stacy's Mom
Gary Clitter (aka HeeBeeGeeBees) Gary Clitter is Back
Genesis Turn It On Again
Guns 'n Roses Estranged
Holly and the Italians Tell That Girl To Shut Up
Icehouse Street Café
Iggy Pop I'm Bored
Joni Mitchell Come In From The Cold
Judas Priest The Green Manalishi
Liam Lynch United States of Whatever
Little River Band Help Is On Its Way
Models I Hear Motion
Models Local and/or General
Motley Crue Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Muse Supermassive Black Hole
Paul McCartney Coming Up
Paul Simon 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Pete Townshend Face The Face
Pharrell Williams Happy
Powderfinger Turtle's Head
Powderfinger Up and Down and Back Again
Queen Scandal
Ramones Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Redgum The Drover's Dog
Relient K Chapstick, Chapped Lips and Things Like Chemistry
Santana Well All Right
Screaming Trees Nearly Lost You
Small Faces Tin Soldier
Spiderbait Sam Gribbles
SpizzEnergi Soldier Soldier
Split Enz Nobody Takes Me Seriously
Squeeze Pulling Mussels From The Shell
Starship Sara
Steve Vai I Would Love To
Temple Of The Dog Hunger Strike
Ten Years After Positive Vibration
The Angels Mr Damage
The Byrds Welcome Back Home
The Damned Neat Neat Neat
The Gaslight Anthem Here Comes My Man
The Go-Gos Our Lips Are Sealed
The Hummingbirds Two Weeks With A Good Man In Niagara Falls
The Killers Mr Brightside
The Lemonheads Into Your Arms
The Lovin' Spoonful Summer In The City
The Master's Apprentices Rio De Camero
The Pointer Sisters Dare Me
The Promises Baby It's You
The Records Starry Eyes
The Rolling Stones Little T&A
The Roots The Seed 2.0
The Rubinoos I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
The Runaways Cherry Bomb
The Saboteurs (aka The Raconteurs) Steady As She Goes
The Saints Just Like Fire Would
The Saints This Perfect Day
The Sports Don't Throw Stones
The The Infected
The Who Love Reign O'er Me
Todd Rundgren I Saw The Light
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers American Girl
Toto Africa
Warhorse St Louis
Warren Zevon Tenderness On The Block

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Frank Turner Live!

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls,
9th April 2015, the Small Ballroom, Newcastle NSW Australia

It's not often I get out to gigs these days, but when I do, I make them count.

And so it was with some excitement that I approached this Frank Turner show in my old home town, but I misunderstood how much appeal he had in this city. and indeed this country. Sure he's been written about in these here pages, and indeed in the pages of various local music periodicals, but that doesn't always amount to a following. I assumed there'd only be about 20 people at this gig, but how wrong I was.

The Small Ballroom is a venue with an apposite name. Although whether it was a ballroom or not is a point of conjecture, it's bloody small, holding 350 people at the most. There's at least 200+ here tonight, which made things just comfortable enough.

Frank Turner both on stage and off, is a personable chap. He was out the front having a cigarette with fans before his set, and then he joined his support act Jon Snodgrass for a couple of songs from their duet album "Buddies". However he really shined on stage with his band the Sleeping Souls.

Even in the tiny venue and cramped stage, all 5 guys on stage played like it was their last ever gig on Earth. They threw everything they had at the songs and the energy was almost tangible. This didn't send the crowd into a moshpit frenzy however, but it did put the crowd into a lively mood. Everything they played was tight and rampaging. When playing my personal favourite "Try This At Home", which already is a fast song, was played so fast that even I felt breathless after singing along to it.

The sense of fun in the crowd was warm and genuine. The great thing about Frank's music is that the melodic, sing-along nature of it fosters a sense of uplift and community amongst those in the audience. And that's exactly what Frank likes at his shows - the crowd to be singing along in full voice and to make friends, both of which happened from where I was standing.

The real charm of Frank's work is to be literate and melodic all at once, but to turn those songs and experiences into pieces that can be enjoyed by large groups of people. He infuses his work with enough empathy that, even though we may not know exactly who Frank is singing about, the experience he sings about is often common to us all, even with the names changed.

A case in point is the track "Long Live The Queen", a song detailing the last few times Frank saw his good friend Lex, who was dying of cancer. As a communal sing-along, no-one in the crowd knew who Lex was, but we understand the significance of the story and can feel the pain of the writer. We all sang along with the lyrics knowing it could happen to someone we know. or already has. It is a true mark of Frank's artistry that he can take a personal story and turn it into a song that people on the other side of the world can sing their hearts out to with respect and reverence to the people depicted in the story, despite having never met them.

I walked out of the show a bigger fan than I already was to start with and that is a mark of quality of the performance. It was of such a high standard that I can't wait until he comes back next year (He says he's always in the country around Easter). I just hope that next year he brings his good mate Jay, aka Beans on Toast to the party.