Monday, March 22, 2021

Spoonerisms and Celeb Citings

Last evening, co-contributor Steve sent me a link to listen to Ritt Momney's indie-pop cover of Corinne Bailey Ray's "Put Your Records On".

Steve commented that the artist's name, Ritt Momney, "gets me every time".  This is, of course, because Ritt Momney is a parody on the name of US Senator Mitt Romney.

Simple, but effective.

After Steve's message, my brain began slipping down the rabbit hole of bands that either directly reference, or twist the names of famous persons.

A Spoonerism is a type of metathesis in linguistics, defined as, "an error in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched between two words in a phrase. These are named after the Oxford don and ordained minister William Archibald Spooner, who reputedly did this."

Another example of Spoonerisms in music is the synthwave artist Com Truise, which is a twist on the name of actor Tom Cruise.  

Sometimes artists don't rearrange the letters in a celebrity's name, so much as substitute one letter to change the entire meaning, in the case of artists like Joy Orbison (a nod to the late, great Roy Orbison), or Chet Faker (a comedic reference to legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker).

The Dandy Warhols (reference to artist Andy Warhol) still make my regular musical rotation with their '90s staple, "Bohemian Like You"

Probably the most prominent example of this in popular music is the CeeLo Green and Danger Mouse project, Gnarls Barkley which blew up the charts with their 2006 megahit single, "Crazy".  Gnarls Barkley is--surprise--a gnarly twist on basketball star, Charles Barkley.

Here's a few other examples:  

Gringo Starr (Beatles' Ringo Starr)

Ringo Deathstarr (Beatles vs Star Wars)

Steve 'N' Seagulls (actor Steven Seagal)

And, perhaps my favorite of the bunch... The Harmonica Lewinskis (Monica Lewinski)

Then again, sometimes you just don't feel like rearranging the letters in a famous person's name to be clever, so you go for the gusto and directly reference them.

Take Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin for example.  Or maybe Kathleen Turner Overdrive.

How about Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.?  They've since changed their name to just JR JR.

According to Wikipedia:  NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. " a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  The band emailed him to assure him they were not making fun of him and sent him a few samples of their music."

Perhaps you're more keen on Natalie Portman's Shaved Head (who have since changed their name to Brite Futures), who publicly stated that it had come to their attention that, "...our muse Ms. Portman is not so keen on us using her name in ours..."

It's well documented that Pearl Jam's original name was Mookie Blaylock, after the basketball player. Luscious Jackson were also named after a misspelling of basketball great, Lucious Jackson.

Many bands have borrowed from historical figures.  Scottish band, Franz Ferdinand, owe their name to the former Archduke of Austria.  The '80s hard rock band Tesla were named after inventor Nikola Tesla.  Classic rockers Jethro Tull were named after the English inventor and agricultural pioneer of the same name.  

Sometimes artists even combine two or more famous titles to make them their own.  The Brian Jonestown Massacre were named after the late Rolling Stones' guitarist Brian Jones and the infamous Jonestown Massacre.

Marilyn Manson is a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson, and the band's early members also took on the conjoined names of famous actresses/models and serial killers (e.g. Twiggy Ramirez, Gidget Gein and Madonna Wayne Gacy)

Inspiration apparently strikes in all sorts of places.  You could really go on and on...  

So, do you have a favorite? Who else deserved to be mentioned in this list?  Comment below if you have additions!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Climax Blues Band - 'I Love You'

You know that part in 'Maybe I'm Amazed' by Paul McCartney, where the song, at about the 2:17 mark, does that piano change-up thing-- do-do-do-do-do-do?  Unfortunately, I am not skilled in properly articulating music (in fact I have absolutely no idea how to talk about music in the technical sense), but you can hear exactly what I am talking about here

Anyhow, if you have ever imagined what the sequel to such a chord progression (or is it regression?) might be, then 'I Love You' by Climax Blues Band may be just the answer.  

Such a statement is not meant to diminish the 1980 single as a cheap Beatles rip-off.  To the contrary, 'I Love You' carries just as much emotional heft as the McCartney-penned doppelganger.  Indeed, the lyrics serve as a sincere ode to those one-of-a-kind women out there who, against all advice to the contrary, decide to take a chance and partner with that possibly problematic man, through thick or thin and for better or worse:

When I was a younger man I hadn't a care /  Foolin' around, hittin' the town, growing my hair / You came along and stole my heart when you entered my life / ooh babe you got what it takes, so I made you my wife.


You came along from far away and found me here /  I was playin' around, feeling down, hittin' the beer / You picked me up from off the floor and gave me a smile / You said you're much to young, your life ain't begun, let's walk for awhile.

'I Love You' reached number 12 on the charts in 1981, but I feel it gets undeservedly low airplay today.  Perhaps it is because it has been overshadowed by the English band's disco-infused A.M. radio staple 'Couldn't Get It Right'?  In any event, even if the song is no longer on the radio rotation today,  'I Love You' by Climax Blues Band definitely belongs on any of Star-Lord's walkman awesome cassette mixes, and likely in your personal Spotify playlist.  

Watch the video for the undeservedly forgotten 'I Love You' by Climax Blues Band below:

Monday, March 08, 2021

Christian Sands - 'Can't Find My Way Home'

Post-college I began to slowly fall in love with jazz; Bebop and Post-bop to be exact.  Midtown martini bars, the Beat Generation, and Don Draper all come to mind when I listen to Miles or The Monk.  It is sophistication, class, and cool epitomized.  

Christian Sands is a contemporary jazz pianist whose expositions reveal he is a disciple of the midcentury jazz tradition.  His style is delicate, and his arrangements demonstrate a keen sense of space and sonic instinct.  

Normally, when it comes to jazz, one of my peeves is when a pop or rock song is covered.  Much of the time, the end result sounds to me like silly Muzak you hear in the waiting room of your dentist's office or at the shopping mall department store during Christmas.  (Shopping Malls...remember those?)  For this reason, I prefer jazz and popular music rarely marry.  

'Can't Find My Way Home' is the rare exception to my mantra.  As a classic rock adherent in my junior and senior high school days, I listened endlessly to Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker jam on the supergroup's self-titled Blind Faith album.  When it was recently recommended to me I check out Sands' rendition of the Winwood penned 'Can't Find My Way Home,' I was skeptical.  But I am glad I gave it a chance, because I feel it is one of the best jazz covers of a classic rock song I have ever heard.  

Sands' version is a slow burn.  But if you have the patience and wherewithal to let yourself go and truly, actively LISTEN, the payoff is wonderful.  His arrangement translates the technical mastery of the rock original's guitar bars and percussion to piano brilliantly.  It gently embraces the original's rawness without getting consumed by it.  The change-ups are seductive.  Just take a listen at approximately the five-minute mark, and you will truly hear and feel what I mean.  I get lost in this song every time I hear it.   

You can listen to the audio stream to 'Can't Find My Way Home' in the music player below.  But if you have 15 minutes to spare, you can watch a recent live performance from a club in Baltimore recorded in November of 2020 here if you want to see how Sands, and bandmates Ryan Sands and Yasushi Nakamura, truly jive.  

Thomas Dolby - 'Airwaves'

For the casual listener, the mention of Thomas Dolby likely spawns visions of quirky synth pop, coalesced with the Poindexter look Dolby adorned in his music video for worldwide smash 'She Blinded Me With Science.'  (SCIENCE!!)  Indeed, 'She Blinded Me With Science' is a banger that still carries Party DJ cred today.  Unless you are a hardcore fan, though, the rest of Dolby's catalog--and even other songs featured on the very same album as 'Science'--have gone completely overlooked.  

Track 3 from The Golden Age of Wireless is 'Airwaves.'  (Point of reference:  'She Blinded Me With Science' is Track 1).  I first came across the track not long ago as it was playing in the background of a satellite radio station or random Spotify station;  I really can't remember.  But what totally grabbed me were the verses' uncanny melodic similarity to Billy Joel's 'Goodnight Saigon.'  In fact, I first thought it was an alternate version of the Billy song, however, the sprawling, spacey, multi-layered chorus immediately informed me 'Airwaves' was a completely different--and frankly much better-- record altogether.  

For fellow nostalgia junkies, 'Airwaves' is a signature artifact from Generation X's formative years.  It is a perfect combination of eccentricity, the subterranean, and New Wave.  The corresponding music video definitely bears this out.

In fact, you can check out the music video for 'Airwaves' in the player below: 

Frances Forever - 'Space Girl'

'Space Girl' is a jaunty track from Frances Forever, the stage name of Frances Garrett.  Although the tune has been around for almost a couple of years, the single has gained recent prominence as it has made the rounds on Tik-Tok. 

My favorite part of the song is definitely the bridge, which begins around the 2:19 mark.  It is a hazy and tranquil divergence from the otherwise buoyant melody, and it balances the tune out quite nicely.

You can watch the official video for 'Space Girl' in the player below:

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Tune-Yards - 'Hold Yourself'

I have always had an affinity for Merrill Garbus and her band tUnE-yArDs (see prior post here), but to be entirely honest, that affinity never grew into reverence or exaltation.  While I certainly appreciated her groundbreaking idiosyncrasies, the music never completely moved me to the next celestial level, if you will.  
That is not an indictment.  Indeed, there are many artists I respect and enjoy that fit into this very category.  

But with the recent release of latest single, 'Hold Yourself,' my adoration for Merrill and tUnE-yArDs has been reborn stronger than before.  Arranged as a  ballad, 'Hold Yourself' is a candid portrait of the precarious role of parenthood; the constant tension between a mother's or father's own frailties and self-doubts on the one hand, while simultaneously projecting strength and false bravado on the other, all for the sake of the child's sense of safety and wellbeing.  

Musically, 'Hold Yourself' is alluring.  Its first couple of bars are reminiscent of 'Purple Rain,' followed by Garbus' measured Gospel slugs during the choruses.   The synth and sax of the tune compliment her voice quite nicely.  Overall, it is a beautiful and moving composition that grips onto my soul a little more each time I hear it.  

'Hold Yourself' is set to drop on March 26, 2021.  In the meantime, you can watch the music video for the single below:

Monday, March 01, 2021

Meg Myers - 'Any Way You Wanna Love'

Meg Myers returned this weekend with a new music video to her single, "Any Way You Wanna Love".

It's been a while since we've checked in on Myers, having first written about her sensuous alt-rock single, "Desire" on this blog more than six years ago.

The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter is back with a new video that supports the Dance to Be Free organization, which "empowers incarcerated women and others who have endured psychological and physical traumas through the use of choreographed healing dance." 

The video finds Myers dancing freely on a beach, and intersperses clips of fans, friends and family contributing their own interpretations of the dance.

In Myers' own words, as posted in the video description:

"'Any Way You Wanna Love' and the Dance are both inspired by healing journeys of liberation, freeing participants of old bonds, old wounds and shadows of the past. Into new light of creation and potential, transforming what was once negative and debilitating into freedom and celebration of new life. So rather than being disempowered by our pasts, we transmute the energy into recognition and empowerment.”

You can watch (and dance along to) the video for Meg Myers' "Any Way You Wanna Love" below.  To learn more about Dance to Be Free, visit​

For more on this artist, visit Meg Myers' Official Website.