Thursday, July 29, 2010

R.E.M. - "The Great Beyond" (2000)

Two choruses. First time through, you hear the first one. Second time, you hear both, as though it was one long chorus. In placing them together, they create liaison between the two by a vocal harmony part (not heard in the first utterance of chorus number one) that comes in at the end of the first and continues in the second.

After this, the instrumental break. Violin (or maybe fake violin) and what sounds like some reed organ.

Third time through, you get both choruses once again. The second chorus is self-sufficient, though, and it's this one that repeats for the closing.

SIX times.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shocking Blue - "Blossom Lady" (1971)

This is bubblegum music, really, and yet there's some folk quality to it that is very rooted in tradition. Notice how slowly it is played. The dynamics, with the soft drumming, are a bit more like Fairport Convention than they are the Sweet, yet the composition and arrangement - the economy of the verses, the snare on every beat - are bubblegum rock.

With the horns and the vocal harmonies, the Shocking Blue show themselves to be masters of that genre. The archetypicality of the lyric, though, plays (also masterfully) into the deeper tradition.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nazz - "Forget All About It" (1969)

This is something. Tubular bells at the beginning as a symbol of the divine (reminiscent of some freakbeat songs from the same period attempting such a thing in the context of real power music). First part of the verse in six-four time (four plus two) with a melodic line that both thrives on the irregularity and yet manages structural power anyway with some beautifully-timed long notes. Chord progression here is a loop of four chords - Bb minor/Eb major/Db major add 9/Eb major - and notice how the bass never grounds the Eb chord. Same pattern continues in the second part of the verse, where the guitar begins on F minor and then moves away and back while the bass keeps an F pedal. Singer is already in the higher part of his register here, but still they manage a higher harmony part. By the time of the last line of the verse, both singers are in falsetto.

The type of exploratory harmonic progressions (with continued vocal harmonies) heard in the bridge and at the very end was seemingly this group's domain only.