The Daily Square

Certain Songs #448: Flamin’ Groovies – “Shake Some Action”

February 11th, 2016 · No Comments

flaming groovies shake some action Album: Shake Some Action
Year: 1976

With its mysterious echoed guitar, muddy sound and rough harmonies, “Shake Some Action” has long been considered one of the great lost power pop songs of the 1970s.

And for good reason: every second of “Shake Some Action” somehow manages the trick of being mysterious while wearing its heart right out on its sleeve.

The guitars ring out, but they they also shimmer like moonlight on the open water, never quite coming into focus. The vocals are pretty much in tandem throughout, but they’re low in the mix, never quite surfacing, except when Cyril Jordan kicks off one of the guitar solos with a “whoo!”

And what exactly does “Shake Some Action” even mean?

Shake, some action’s what I need
To let me bust out at full speed.
I’m sure that’s all you need
To make it all right.

Does that mean he just wants the object of the song to shake? Or is maybe “Shake” his or her nickname? If it’s the former, does it mean some kind of dance? Or just to, you know, shake?

So even though Jordan’s laying it all out, it’s still somewhat mysterious.

And yet, “Shake Some Action” resonates in your head: from the simple riff that grounds it, to the double-time drums that drive the chorus, there isn’t a moment in it’s long-for-this-kind-of-song 4:34 that doesn’t yield immense pleasure.

“Shake Some Action”

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Certain Songs #448: Flaming Groovies – “Shake Some Action”

February 11th, 2016 · No Comments

flaming groovies shake some action Album: Shake Some Action
Year: 1976

With its mysterious echoed guitar, muddy sound and rough harmonies, “Shake Some Action” has long been considered one of the great lost power pop songs of the 1970s.

And for good reason: every second of “Shake Some Action” somehow manages the trick of being mysterious while wearing its heart right out on its sleeve.

The guitars ring out, but they they also shimmer like moonlight on the open water, never quite coming into focus. The vocals are pretty much in tandem throughout, but they’re low in the mix, never quite surfacing, except when Cyril Jordan kicks off one of the guitar solos with a “whoo!”

And what exactly does “Shake Some Action” even mean?

Shake, some action’s what I need
To let me bust out at full speed.
I’m sure that’s all you need
To make it all right.

Does that mean he just wants the object of the song to shake? Or is maybe “Shake” his or her nickname? If it’s the former, does it mean some kind of dance? Or just to, you know, shake?

So even though Jordan’s laying it all out, it’s still somewhat mysterious. Though, really, it’s probably just about fucking and I’m overthinking the whole thing.

And yet, “Shake Some Action” resonates in your head: from the simple riff that grounds it, to the double-time drums that drive the chorus, there isn’t a moment in it’s long-for-this-kind-of-song 4:34 that doesn’t yield immense pleasure.

“Shake Some Action”

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Certain Songs #447: Fishbone – “Sunless Saturday”

February 10th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone_Sunless_Saturday Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

Who says a funk band can’t play Rush?

That’s actually kinda flip, but it was one thing that I always found interesting about a lot of the hard-rock songs that Fishbone and their Black Rock Coalition brethern Living Color did: songs like “Cult of Personality” or “Sunless Saturday” were much closer to the art-rock of Led Zep or Rush then they were to the punk rock or the glam-metal bands they were ostensibly competing against.

I guess it was one of those deals where to get noticed for playing the “wrong type of music,” they had to show they could play it with more chops than just about anyone else.

So you got a song like “Sunless Saturday,” with galloping drums and extra-long keyboard and guitar solos at every possible turn, almost overshadowing a lyric that was basically the opposite of their previous single:

I hear the sounds of children laughing aloud
A stumbling wino has attracted quite a crowd
My breakfast finished now I brave the outside
But clouds have hidden all the warmth inside

Chase these clouds away
I hate this sunless Saturday

Of course placing “Sunless Saturday” after “Everyday Sunshine” on both the album and the sequence of singles brought the wish fulfillment aspect of the previous single into full relief: they might wish for sunshine everyday, but the reality of their surroundings was that Saturday where the sun was long long gone and there were only clouds as far as the eye could see.

And the music backed that up: it was as hard and as punishing as “Everyday Sunshine” was light and full of joy.

So as the song broke down into a trumpet obbligato over a shimmering acoustic acoustic guitar, all you could do was hope that the sun would come out eventually.

“Sunless Saturday”

File Under: The Daily Square

Certain Songs #447: Fishbone – “Sunless Saturday”

February 10th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone_Sunless_Saturday Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

Who says a funk band can’t play Rush?

That’s actually kinda flip, but it was one thing that I always found interesting about a lot of the hard-rock songs that Fishbone and their Black Rock Coalition brethern Living Color did: songs like “Cult of Personality” or “Sunless Saturday” were much closer to the art-rock of Led Zep or Rush then they were to the punk rock or the glam-metal bands they were ostensibly competing against.

I guess it was one of those deals where to get noticed for playing the “wrong type of music,” they had to show they could play it with more chops than just about anyone else.

So you got a song like “Sunless Saturday,” with galloping drums and extra-long keyboard and guitar solos at every possible turn, almost overshadowing a lyric that was basically the opposite of their previous single:

I hear the sounds of children laughing aloud
A stumbling wino has attracted quite a crowd
My breakfast finished now I brave the outside
But clouds have hidden all the warmth inside

Chase these clouds away
I hate this sunless Saturday

Of course placing “Sunless Saturday” after “Everyday Sunshine” on both the album and the sequence of singles brought the wish fulfillment aspect of the previous single into full relief: they might wish for sunshine everyday, but the reality of their surroundings was that Saturday where the sun was long long gone and there were only clouds as far as the eye could see.

And the music backed that up: it was as hard and as punishing as “Everyday Sunshine” was light and full of joy.

So as the song broke down into a trumpet obbligato over a shimmering acoustic acoustic guitar, all you could do was hope that the sun would come out eventually.

“Sunless Saturday”

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Certain Songs #446: Fishbone – “Everyday Sunshine”

February 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone Reality Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

What a pure blast of unfettered energy.

As one of the greatest singles in my favorite year for music, “Everyday Sunshine” should have been as big of a single as the Sly & The Family Stone songs that it proudly steals from.

In retrospect, it was probably inevitable that Fishbone would attempt a song like “Everyday Sunshine,” as they turned out to be as hard to pigeonhole into any single style as The Clash or Sly & The Family Stone ever were.

“Everday Sunshine” starts out with a huge blast of joyful horns over funky bass & keyboards and almost issues its thesis statement:

I wish everyday the sun would shine
Take me to another place in my mind
Where everything is beautiful
And no wants or needs
Nor sign of greed
Could rule our soul

As they progress, trading off vocals and harmonizing on the chorus, “Everyday Sunshine” doesn’t even show a hit of being sarcastic or ironic or anything but a full-out plea for, well, everyday sunshine.

And of course, they eventually double-down on that by exploding into a double-time, ecstatically trading off “Everyday, everyday, everyday” until the song finally screeches to its end.

“Everyday Sunshine”

“Everyday Sunshine” performed live in 1991

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Certain Songs #446: Fishbone – “Everyday Sunshine”

February 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone Reality Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

What a pure blast of unfettered energy.

As one of the greatest singles in my favorite year for music, “Everyday Sunshine” should have been as big of a single as the Sly & The Family Stone songs that it proudly steals from.

In retrospect, it was probably inevitable that Fishbone would attempt a song like “Everyday Sunshine,” as they turned out to be as hard to pigeonhole into any single style as The Clash or Sly & The Family Stone ever were.

“Everday Sunshine” starts out with a huge blast of joyful horns over funky bass & keyboards and almost issues its thesis statement:

I wish everyday the sun would shine
Take me to another place in my mind
Where everything is beautiful
And no wants or needs
Nor sign of greed
Could rule our soul

As they progress, trading off vocals and harmonizing on the chorus, “Everyday Sunshine” doesn’t even show a hit of being sarcastic or ironic or anything but a full-out plea for, well, everyday sunshine.

And of course, they eventually double-down on that by exploding into a double-time, ecstatically trading off “Everyday, everyday, everyday” until the song finally screeches to its end.

“Everyday Sunshine”

“Everyday Sunshine” performed live in 1991

File Under: The Daily Square

Certain Songs #446: Fishbone – “Everyday Sunshine”

February 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone Reality Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

What a pure blast of unfettered energy.

As one of the greatest singles in my favorite year for music, “Everyday Sunshine” should have been as big of a single as the Sly & The Family Stone songs that it proudly steals from.

In retrospect, it was probably inevitable that Fishbone would attempt a song like “Everyday Sunshine,” as they turned out to be as hard to pigeonhole into any single style as The Clash or Sly & The Family Stone ever were.

“Everday Sunshine” starts out with a huge blast of joyful horns over funky bass & keyboards and almost issues its thesis statement:

I wish everyday the sun would shine
Take me to another place in my mind
Where everything is beautiful
And no wants or needs
Nor sign of greed
Could rule our soul

As they progress, trading off vocals and harmonizing on the chorus, “Everyday Sunshine” doesn’t even show a hit of being sarcastic or ironic or anything but a full-out plea for, well, everyday sunshine.

And of course, they eventually double-down on that by exploding into a double-time, ecstatically trading off “Everyday, everyday, everyday” until the song finally screeches to its end.

“Everyday Sunshine”

“Everyday Sunshine” performed live in 1991

File Under: The Daily Square

Certain Songs #445: Fishbone – “Party At Ground Zero”

February 8th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone EP Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

As I’ve written before, if you were a young person in the mid-1980s, you kept one eye permanently on the sky, expecting that at any moment nuclear hellfire would rain down from out of nowhere.

This naturally let to a lot of great songs, from The Clash’s “Stop The World” to XTC’s “This World Over,” but of all of the songs written about nuclear annihilation, none was more fun than Fishbone’s epic “Party At Ground Zero.”

Like a lot of the greatest Fishbone songs, “Party at Ground Zero” has a ton of moving parts, so it starts out with a long reggae instrumental that kinda meanders here and there, before exploding into lightspeed ska, which almost instantly gives away to the brilliant almost acapella group chorus:

Party at ground zero
A “B” movie starring you
And the world will turn to flowing
Pink vapor stew

Of course, it wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics on the internet that I discovered that the lyric that I’d always thought was “Every movie star and you” was actually “A ‘B’ movie starring you”. And assuming the internet has it right (which is a huge assumption with the lyric sites) I still like my interpretation better, because it meant that not even the privilege of being a movie star was going help folks with the Big One dropped.

Either way, after that intro, it’s a joyous horn section and enough energy to deflect a nuclear blast as Fishbone sing about how fucked we’d all be in case of that nuclear blast. For one thing, getting blown up would mean that we couldn’t dance to this song anymore!

And of course, my favorite part back in 1985 was when somebody interjected “Play it, Boy Wonder!” just before a particularly hot trombone solo. Actually, it’s still pretty cool.

“Party at Ground Zero” Music Video

File Under: The Daily Square

Certain Songs #445: Fishbone – “Party At Ground Zero”

February 8th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone EP Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

As I’ve written before, if you were a young person in the mid-1980s, you kept one eye permanently on the sky, expecting that at any moment nuclear hellfire would rain down from out of nowhere.

This naturally let to a lot of great songs, from The Clash’s “Stop The World” to XTC’s “This World Over,” but of all of the songs written about nuclear annihilation, none was more fun than Fishbone’s epic “Party At Ground Zero.”

Like a lot of the greatest Fishbone songs, “Party at Ground Zero” has a ton of moving parts, so it starts out with a long reggae instrumental that kinda meanders here and there, before exploding into lightspeed ska, which almost instantly gives away to the brilliant almost acapella group chorus:

Party at ground zero
A “B” movie starring you
And the world will turn to flowing
Pink vapor stew

Of course, it wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics on the internet that I discovered that the lyric that I’d always thought was “Every movie star and you” was actually “A ‘B’ movie starring you”. And assuming the internet has it right (which is a huge assumption with the lyric sites) I still like my interpretation better, because it meant that not even the privilege of being a movie star was going help folks with the Big One dropped.

Either way, after that intro, it’s a joyous horn section and enough energy to deflect a nuclear blast as Fishbone sing about how fucked we’d all be in case of that nuclear blast. For one thing, getting blown up would mean that we couldn’t dance to this song anymore!

And of course, my favorite part back in 1985 was when somebody interjected “Play it, Boy Wonder!” just before a particularly hot trombone solo. Actually, it’s still pretty cool.

“Party at Ground Zero” Music Video

File Under: The Daily Square

Certain Songs #444: Fishbone – “? (Modern Industry)”

February 7th, 2016 · No Comments

Fishbone Modern Industry Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

This song is really mostly a trifle, but the video had a shout-out to KFSR, so how could I not include it?

Musically, “? (Modern Industry)” doesn’t amount to much more than a weird hybrid of reggae and the new wave that was dominating the radio stations that this song name-checked.

And boy did it name-check a lot of radio stations:

WBRU, KABE, WFLY, Cool 92
KAX, KOKE, KRO
WAMX, yes, wow
KJZ ! The KUSF, check 94, KFRC

So while you could be excused for thinking that it was a cheap ploy to get some airplay on those radio stations — like when Billy Idol did a bunch of versions of “Hot in The City” where he yells the name of a different city in each version. “FRESNO!!”

But while it’s wacky on the surface — the guys in Fishbone intone the radio stations, both real and imaginary, in a plethora of voices ranging from stoned surfer dude to flat-out Mark Mothersbaugh — “? (Modern Industry)” has some points to make about the radio and the role it plays in peoples lives.

These are the voices of modern industry
This is the music that brings us together
These are the buttons that start the emotion
Continue the motion, the motion, the motion…
This is the music behind the machine
These are the voices of modern industry
These are the voices
These are the voices…

So “? (Modern Industry)” kind of gets to have it both ways: the music and voices signify as satire, the words seem sincere. Which is true?

Probably both.

Official Video for “? (Modern Industry)”

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