Monday, 21 April 2014

Stellar Songs - Music of the spheres

Gustav Holst's "Planets Suite", the music of the spheres, the harmony of the cosmos, music has always had an association with the stars. We even call our heroes 'rock stars', that is something out of this world. So here are ten songs about the solar system. Rock(et) on!

1) The Rezillos - "Destination Venus"
The Rezillos were a touch under-appreciated punk/art school band from Scotland. With great song titles such as "My Baby Does Good Sculptures" and "Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight". Perhaps they never made it because they were so bad at miming for 'live' TV pop shows

2) The Cure - "Jupiter Crash"
I'd totally lost interest in The Cure once they turned from indie new wavers into silly Goths chasing invisible rabbits down unseen holes. So I was totally unaware of this song from their ouevre. It's odd to think how different a persona guitarist Robert Smith presented when he played in Siouxie And the Banshees when he was no longer the main man and didn't have to adopt all the teased hair and smudged make-up as he did with the Cure.

3) Jimi Hendrix - "South Saturn Delta"
From the man who invented the out of this world "Acid Rock" this song shows just how much Hendrix drew on Southern Delta Blues for his style. Since there are no words to this, not sure what Saturn has to do with it exactly, but any excuse to include Jimi is alright by me to be honest.

4) David Bowie - "Life On Mars"
Considering the whole Ziggy Stardust album could have made this list, it's perhaps surprising that this song actually appeared on the Hunky Dory album. Bowie was best when he was obsessed with spacemen and he and guitarist Mick Ronson wore shiny space age clothes on stage. Just my two cents.

5) B52s - "Planet Claire"
From a band who took their name from the stratospheric carpet bomber the B-52, they made some really knock-about music such as "Rock Lobster" and "Strobelight". Here the professed love object is utterly out of this world.

6) Rush - "Cygnus X-1"
A song about one of the earliest discovered black holes, taken from an album "A Farewell To Kings" that also flirted with the radical ideas of author Ayn Rand, while the album "Hemispheres" contained a track "Trouble With The Trees" which saw the band accused of having fascist leanings. My jury's out on that one, but I just fixate on the bloated size of that drumkit, it resembles a solar system in its own right.

7) The Carpenters - "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft"
And breathe.... Calming it all back down, here we have Karen sending out a beauteous plaint into space. I'd answer if I were an extra-terrestrial wouldn't you? Imagine the heartbreak of landing to meet this siren's call, only to discover she'd died from the very sustenance that is supposed to keep her species alive...

8) Husker Du - "Books About UFOs"
And cranking it back up again, the finest 3-piece power trio introduce some plinky-plonk piano against their wall of noise. Delicious stuff.

9) Pink Floyd - "Astronomy Dominé"
It could have been "Interstellar Overdrive" or "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", but this track from the Syd Barrett days namechecks more planetary bodies and besides, shows just how heavy and dissonant sounding a band they were in those days. Also some rare archival footage of Roger Waters being quite polite.

10) Grinderman - "Honey Bee Let's Fly To Mars"
Glorious inchoate noise that was Grinderman's debut LP. Then they cut their second one and all that was lost... Also note to Nick, excessive facial hair is not rock 'n roll unless you're ZZ Top.

11) Only Ones - "Another Girl Another Planet"
Shame frontman Peter Perrett was lost on another planet most of the time with his heroin addiction, cos they were a great pop-punk band who could have produced so much more.

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