Music Labyrinth Episode 097
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) / Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (1986)
Hello Listener, and welcome to episode 97 of The Music Labyrinth. And lets just hope that episode 97 is as varied and interesting as the year 1697 was. In January that year the French writer Charles Perrault released the book which would become known in English as “Tales of Past Times” or, alternatively, “Mother Goose Tales”, which was a compilation of fairy tales including Cinderella, Puss In Boots, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and, curiously, Bluebeard: a tale about a wealthy man who is in the habit of murdering his wives, and the efforts of the incumbent wife to avoid the same fate. And, in what sounds like a fairy tale, 1697 was the year that Russian Czar Peter The Great disguised himself as the relatively common Peter Mikhailov and went off incognito around Western Europe to assess military preparedness and to acquire personnel and weapons to offer Russia an advantage in any European conflict. The problem was that Peter was over 200cm in height, making him a very distinctive human by the standards of 1697, and therefore very difficult to disguise. Meanwhile, in nearby Sweden - an enemy state so far as Russia was concerned - 1697 was the year that King Charles XII ascended to the throne at the age of 14, but the fascinating thing about that is that, prior to his coronation, Charles’ popular title was the Swedish Meteor, a nickname which derived from Voltaire’s description of him as the Lion Of The North. So, when you put all that in the stand mixer with the dough hook, what you end up with is an awareness that episode 97 of The Music Labyrinth needs to be varied, interesting, slightly whacky, and inspirational. And, can I say, we certainly started off in interesting and inspirational form with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band with their live version of Rosalita (Come Out Tonight). If you were not with us last episode, I referred to that mighty performance as a “Time Machine tune” because as soon as that machine is invented, I am off to see them play that particular show. Now that song was first committed to vinyl on the 1973 album, The Wild, The Innocent, And The E-Street Shuffle, and the E-Street Band at that time featured a man who went on to be recognised as one of the all time great session musicians, David Sancious. By the way, here is a fun fact: the E-Street Band is called that because they used to rehearse in David’s Mum’s garage on E-Street. Anyway, David Sancious went on to play with the greats of contemporary music and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. And his keyboard work can be heard on this track from 1993.
If I Ever Lose My Faith In You / Sting (1993)
Welcome back to The Music Labyrinth were we last heard Sting, from his 1993 album Ten Summoners’ Tales, with If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. Another track, which was released as the fifth single from that same album, was leaned on pretty heavily by the Sugababes in their 2003 single, Shape.
Shape / Sugababes (2002)
That was the British group Sugababes with Shape, the fourth single from their 2002 album Angels With Dirty Faces. You will have noticed, of course, the heavy use of samples from Sting’s Shape Of My Heart. Sugababes were big on sampling other tunes. One of their most successful singles was 2002’s Freak Like Me, and if you listen not even remotely carefully, you will hear samples from the tune that will immediately follow it. Here are Sugababes with Freak Like Me.
Freak Like Me / Sugababes (2002)
Are ‘Friends’ Electric / Gary Numan & Tubeway Army (1979)
This is The Music Labyrinth and the last track we listened to was Are ‘Friends’ Electric by Gary Numan & Tubeway Army. The synthesiser player for Tubeway Army was British musician and songwriter Chris Payne who, unsurprisingly, had a hand in the writing and performance of this mega-hit of 1980.
Fade To Grey / Visage (1980)
From 1980, that was Visage with Fade To Grey. Visage were a New Romantic band of varying personnel, but the constant was the Welsh vocalist and songwriter Steve Strange. Alongside Strange, one of the founding members of Visage was Midge Ure who, in 1980, was convinced to join the dormant band Ultravox. Midge Ure’s first album with Ultravox was an immediate success and spawned this hit single. This is Vienna.
Vienna / Ultravox (1981)
Vienna by Ultravox has received many awards and remains a set favourite at any show Midge Ure performs to this day. Perhaps one of its greatest achievements is not so well known. In 2000 the German vocal ensemble Gregorian, who perform Gregorian chant-inspired versions of modern songs, included a version of Vienna on their debut album, Masters Of Chant. Other chants covered on that album include Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman, and a track we have already heard tonight: Fade To Grey. And, it includes a version of this uber-hit from 1991.
Losing My Religion / R.E.M. (1991)
R.E.M’s Losing My Religion was an unlikely hit for the band, but grew to be their highest charting hit in the USA. The song arose from guitarist Peter Buck’s efforts to learn to play his newly purchased mandolin, and in attempting to master the instrument he stumbled upon the riff that forms the core of the song. There are plenty of contemporary songs which also feature the mandolin. One which caught my ear was this one from 2007. This is Joan Osborne with Saint Teresa.
Saint Teresa / Joan Osborne (2007)
From her 1995 album Relish, that was Joan Osborne with Saint Teresa. Joan Osborne is an American singer and songwriter who is perhaps best known for her role in the documentary film Standing In The Shadows of Motown, in which she joined the legendary Funk Brothers band to perform live covers of several Motown classics, including this one.
Heat Wave / Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (1963)
That was Martha Reeves & The Vandellas from 1963 with the Motown classic, Heat Wave. In 1979 the English post-punk group The Jam released their critically acclaimed album Setting Sons. The record started its life as a concept album, but didn’t quite fully develop the concept, largely because its release was rushed. Which perhaps explains the somewhat misplaced inclusion of a cover version of Heat Wave amongst a bunch of ambitious original tunes. One of those ambitious originals was this one. This is The Eton Rifles.
The Eton Rifles / The Jam (1979)
That was The Jam with The Eton Rifles, from their 1979 album Setting Sons. In addition to the usual members of The Jam, that album featured piano contribution from Mick Talbot (who would later join Paul Weller to form The Style Council) and string arrangements by Pete Solley, an English musician and record producer who, in 1979, produced the self-titled debut album for The Romantics which contained this hit.
What I Like About You / The Romantics (1979)
In 2007 The Romantics unsuccessfully sued the makers of the game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80s because of the inclusion of a guitar riff in the game which sounds a whole lot like the one we just heard. Now, whether the law suit had any affect on the way things turned out is something that is unclear, but the associated soundtrack for that game includes a credited version of What I Like About You by The Romantics. It also includes this 1980s classic.
I Ran / A Flock Of Seagulls (1982)
From their 1982 self-titled debut album, that was A Flock Of Seagulls with I Ran. The band’s name, according to the lead singer Mike Score, derived from the song Toiler On The Sea by The Stranglers - which has a chorus about a flock of seagulls - and the book Jonathon Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. I considered playing Toiler On The Sea for you - but I didn’t think it quite fitted here. Still, mindful of the seagull theme, I stumbled upon this jaunty and catchy little number by Eagle Eye Cherry which is consistent with that theme. This is When Mermaids Cry.
When Mermaids Cry / Eagle Eye Cherry (1997)
With his song about Lorelai of the sea, that was Eagle Eye Cherry with When Mermaids Cry. The American indie-folk band Fleet Foxes released their second album in 2011, and it too contained a song about Lorelai. This one.
Lorelai / Fleet Foxes (2011)
From their 2011 album Helplessness Blues, that was Fleet Foxes with Lorelai. One of the interesting things about that album is that it is the only Fleet Foxes album on which drums and backing vocals were provided by Josh Tillman, who is now better known by his professional name Father John Misty. He has had recording success in his own right, and just a few weeks ago this next track was released which features Father John Misty. This is Let The Light In by Lana Del Rey.
Let The Light In / Lana Del Rey (2023)
From her brand new album Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, that was Lana Del Rey with Let The Light In. Feature artists on that album include, as we have just heard, Father John Misty, and also Nick Waterhouse, Tommy Genesis and the New Jersey rock band Bleachers. I have to admit a significant lack of awareness of Bleachers, but when I heard this next track, I immediately thought that they are pure New Jersey. This is Rollercoaster.
Rollercoaster / Bleachers (2014)
It turns out that Bleachers is really a name for the creative output of one person, Jack Antonoff. The track we just heard, Rollercoaster, is from the 2014 album Strange Desire which, in addition to Antonoff’s work, includes contributions from a number of talented musicians including multiple Grammy Award winner Greg Kurstin who we have encountered before in The Music Labyrinth for his work with The Bird And The Bee, Lily Allen and The Shins. And, most recently, he produced the 2023 album from which this is the title track.
Cracker Island / Gorillaz (feat. Thundercat) (2023)
From the recently released Gorillaz album Cracker Island, that is Gorillaz, featuring Thundercat, with the title track. The Crack Island album features guest contributions from a number of well known musicians, including this bloke.
The New Pollution / Beck (1996)
From his 1996 album Odelay, that was Beck with The New Pollution. In 2016 when Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was recording her 5th studio album, called Joanne, she turned to Beck for his contribution to this track. This is, of course, Lady Gaga with Dancin’ In Circles.
Dancin’ In Circles/ Lady Gaga (2016)
Now, as we know, Lady Gaga - Her Gaganess - is something of a contemporary phenomenon of music, and if you ever doubted that proposition, you only have to pause to remember that she has shared a recording credit with these enduring phenomenons of the entertainment industry.
We’re Doing A Sequel / The Muppets, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett (2014)
That was, of course, The Muppets, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett with the very-much-tongue-in-cheek We’re Doing A Sequel, from the soundtrack of the 2014 film Muppets Most Wanted. It has always been something of a badge of honour to perform with The Muppets, something that was achieved in 2016 by Jack White. Here is Jack White & The Electric Mayhem with a song you will recognise.
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life / Jack White & The Electric Mayhem (2016)
The thing about Jack White is that, not only is he at home performing with an ensemble cast of loveable puppet characters, but he is also quite adept at performing with the deceased! From the soundtrack of the 2022 Baz Luhrmann film Elvis, this is Power of My Love by Elvis Presley and Jack White.
Power of My Love / Elvis Presley & Jack White (2022)
Elvis Presley and Jack White bring us to the point of the final track in episode 97 of The Music Labyrinth. Thank you very much for your company this evening. I do hope you have enjoyed the meandering journey from 1978 New Jersey through 80s post punk electronica, the seaside, some new releases and a little bit of silliness towards the end. Please come back and join us again in two weeks when we will continue our wandering in The Music Labyrinth. Bring friends! I usually try to end each episode with something of a standout. Tonight’s final track is a short but punchy toe-tapper which is bound to get us started in a good frame of mind for episode 98 of the program. But - all that is yet to come. We last listened to Elvis and Jack White in duet. Lets stay with Jack White, but in his incarnation as one half of The White Stripes. From 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, this is Blue Orchid. Thanks for listening.
Blue Orchid / The White Stripes (2005)