Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Neu! - "Neuschnee" (1973)

The B-side of their 1973 single, this track is really remarkable for having a sophisticated sound and construction along with its primitive compositional elements.

"Neuschnee" on Lala.

Monday, September 28, 2009

ABBA - "Bang-a-Boomerang" (1975)

The intro, bridge, and closing of this song are all absolutely succinct. Apart from these, the only other sections of the song are two verses and three choruses. Still, the song manages to last for three minutes. It does so because of the lengths of both the verse and the chorus, each of which have three parts.

In the verse, you have a two-line exposition, a two-line dramatic moment, and then what might be called a rising action, the final two lines that lead into the chorus.

The first part of the chorus, then, is the climax, with the second and third parts something akin to the falling action and the denouement.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Four Tops - "Bernadette" (1967)

OK, we can assert here that the verses are in two sections, but I'm going to label the first section A and the second section B because sometimes one of the sections will occur without the other. If we label the bridge section as C (the song has no chorus), then the basic structure of the song is this:


This is discounting the return to the A materials at the end of the song (first abbreviated, then repeated as a vamp for the fadeout), but let's look at what we've got otherwise. The two-section verse, both sections very distinct and separated by a pause, certainly seems to me to be a structural curiosity. It's a very long verse, over forty seconds, and its length naturally had to be reckoned with in terms of the overall compositional structure. The song itself is not incredibly short for a pop record of the time; it's over three minutes (barely, but it is), and yet it manages to run that long without a chorus and without an instrumental break.

This leaves the full duration of the song open for Levi Stubbs' lead vocal part to run as a very singular, linear utterance. And three minutes is a pretty long time for that singular drama to unfold.

"Bernadette" on Lala.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Klaatu - "A Routine Day" (1978)

The second section of the verses resonates with me as being evocative of early '70s songwriter pop: Gilbert O'Sullivan and I'm not sure what else. With Klaatu, though, these are only sections in a progressive-minded compositional context, occurring after the excellent, Beatle-esque first parts of the verses.

The chorus also seems to me to be of the same genre, but it only occurs once in the song! And it carries itself perfectly to its conclusion.

In the third and final verse (hastening the song to its structurally appealing end), John Woloschuck's lyrics take that same second part of the verse and invest it with enough drama and enough poetry that the effect is completely transcendent:

I stand here in the queue behind a foul cigar
My face discreetly buried in a book on Mars
And I'm waiting on the pier 'til Charon comes

Entire Klaatu catalog on