Five songs that get under your skin

"My unconventional taste in music brings all the girls to the yard"

Five songs that’ll get under your skin , take over your entire world and won’t let up until you have listened to each of them several times in a row.

1) Street Hassle, Lou Reed

Mr Reed always maintained that he wanted to write songs that were like punk rock operas. Street Hassle is probably his most convincing and successful attempt at this with a devilishly addictive cello riff that keeps coming back in a labyrinthine structure of musical themes and different voices.

In other news, for all you fans of “The Boss”, Mr B. Springsteen puts in a guest appearance in the middle (at about 09:03), with a bit of Shatner-style talk-singing.

2) Beechwood Park, The Zombies

Talk about harmonies? This tune harmonises the shit out of everything. The last harmonies make the hairs on my arms stand on end, and make my stomach lurch. In a good way.

3) Faust and Tony Conrad

This collaboration between Krautrock favourites Faust and New York young upstart Tony Conrad brought out the best of them both, and resulted in the mesmerizing album from which this track is taken. Conrad’s solid violin drones seem to pin Faust’s sound down a bit more, whilst Faust’s typical skittishness illustrates and augments Conrad’s microtonal double stops (when you play two strings at the same time on a violin). Lovely, mind-bending stuff.

4) Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys

This was my first bit of vinyl, on flexidisc, that I got for free on the cover of Mojo after a readers’ poll voted it the greatest pop song of all time. They were right. This song has got hooks aplenty that sink deep into your psyche and it’s just plain weird in parts. The truncated radio edit version is not acceptable: this must be listened to in its entirety.

5) Be My Baby, The Ronettes

This song is addictive. See also, Frank Booth in Lynch’s Blue Velvet. There’s something about Spector’s production here that drags you into a disgustingly sugar-coated world – like getting trapped in a vat of treacle. Perhaps it’s the piano/woodblock quavers* being played fast like that, perhaps it’s Veronica Bennett’s ever-so-slightly abrasive voice, perhaps its a sound that keeps on getting fuller and fuller until it takes over your ears entirely….

*That’s an eighth note to you, North America.

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the music in issue five of Angry Violist zine

Is experimental string playing the new rock’n’roll?
Tongue in cheek ad for Schoenburg’s twelve tone composition, a.k.a. “the second Viennese school”:

The music video of the ‘Cage against the machine’ campaign to get celebrity-drenched recording of 4″33 to number one:

Revolution Number 9, The Beatles, 1968 — I love that string motif at 00:31

Hymnen, Stockhausen, 1966/67

The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky, 1913

The Noise Rainbow
White noise

Pink noise

Brown noise

Corenelius Cardew and the Scratch Orchestra
The Great Learning, Cardew and the Scratch Orchestra, 1968-70 (this recording in 1981)

Treatise, Cornelius Cardew, 1963-67 (this recording/interpretaition in 2009)

Star-spangled banner, Jimi Hendrix, 1969

Heroes and all-stars of string playing
Tony Conrad & Faust, from Outside of the Dream Syndicate, 1972

Polly Bradfield, Solo Improvisations for Violin, 1979
Listen/read about it here