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Favorite Obscure Songs


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"Ooh Look, There Goes Concorde Again" - And The Native Hipsters

As Douglas Wolk describes the track in a recent Boston Phoenix:

".....("There Goes Concorde Again") pivots around a jazz bass that doesn’t walk so much as trudge, note by exhausted note. Bells and faint, woozy guitar effects attempt with limited success to follow it where it’s meandering. Eventually, Nanette Greenblatt, a/k/a Blatt, starts rambling in a dazed sing-song about fat women walking up a hill and thin women walking down. "What do they do down there that results in such an increase in size and weight?" Her voice is squeaky and wobbly, the voice of a dithering matron, not a singer; her timing is distracted and irregular. Then she spies something she likes: "Oooo, look! There goes Concorde again! Oooo, look, there goes Concorde again!" She remarks on the Concorde’s appearance over and over. She pauses for a minute (as the bells and whooshes hover uncertainly) before repeating everything she’s said, from the beginning. Then she does it again, trying to understand what she’s just said....."

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"Edward Fox" - Smack is a bizarre beauty of a single, which my children have grown to love as much as I do. Even though, in its year of release, it ranked at #45 in the NME's "Best Singles of 1980 (as voted by our journalists)" - that's one place above The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me"- I tend to think that any single meriting less than a dozen Google hits is pretty obscure by most people's standards.

To refer to Smack / "Edward Fox" as post-punk as Wikipedia does (in its profile of the famous British actor Edward Fox) is true only insofar as it was not "punk", but came out in that exciting couple of years after punk, when things went off at tangents. It certainly isn't in the style of Joy Division, PIL, Magazine or whatever else "post-punk" normally describes. Whilst the music is, in some ways, reminiscent of fairly standard pub-rock/rhythm'n'blues with a vaguely new-wave flavour (think Dr Feelgood meets early XTC), there is a definite quirkiness about this song. It takes as its lyric a biography of the actor Edward Fox, originally published in the New Manchester Review. The verses are all spoken word, narrated in suitably plummy, aristocratic tones: "Edward Fox has charm; not the sticky transatlantic variety, nor the hammy continental strain, but rather a uniquely English charm of old hounds, tweed jackets, unobstrusive courtesy and a complete lack of condescension" begins the first verse. "I wouldn't live anywhere else" he said,when we spoke of the old country,"I like this country, don't you? I like the people: bit dull sometimes, but so what? I also think the best things in theatre happen here..." The mob choruses of "Edward, Edward, Edward Fox! Edward, Edward, Edward Fox!" are a joyous punctuation to the slightly rambling narrative of the verses. Then , for no obvious reasons, the vocalist asks "What do the police think?" before imitating a siren "Nee-nar, nee-nar, nee-nar, nee-nar..etc" over what might otherwise have been a serviceable guitar solo. Then there is a reasonably serviceable guitar solo. Then the narrative resumes with a series of philosophical and insurrectionary treatises about the human condition, the indomitable spirit of ordinary people and the possibility of a proletarian revolution: "Anarchy should be a joyous thing: it should take place in the heart and mind, and speak to the heart and mind", "I think vandalism is poetic, as it's an expression of one human being's otherness", "I think human beings are incredibly tolerant; if they really sat down and thought about how they are mistreated, then there really would be a revolution..." etc. etc. Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that Edward Fox (the actor) espoused such views, but then again, I've never been to one of his dinner parties.

This single (apparently the only one Smack ever released) never made the National Charts, but it did make the Top 10 of the "new-concept-at-the-time" Independent Chart, so it must have sold at least a few hundred copies. To me, it is an absolute joy.

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This is one of the songs of my life's soundtrack. I post any and everywhere I can. It's probably my favorite song, period. I've yet to meet a single person from outside the area I'm from that knows this song. However it's considered a classic back home. And no, back home is not Chicago....

Lake Shore Drive ~ Aliota, Haynes & Jeremiah

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  • 2 months later...

Someone mentioned Tommy Bolin's "Post Toastee," which is wonderful. Some of my favorite obscure songs:

  • Never Met a Dog--Vinegar Joe--Robert Palmer on vocals, and it makes no sense at all, but it's a smooth tune!

  • Every Step of the Way--Steve Walsh--Kansas's lead singer on his own. Schemer Dreamer a tough album to find.

  • Hey, St. Peter--Flash & the Pan--Great tune that would sound fresh even today.

  • Blue Mist--Mama's Pride--A regional band out of St. Louis, the Pride had a great little tune with this one.

  • Roll the Dice--Couchois--Just something a little funky and a little cool about this song.

  • Hollywood--Shooting Star--Another regional band, this one out of Kansas City, that never really got its due. "Hollywood" is a phenomenal track.

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I don't know how obscure these are but...

How about: Biding my Time- Pink Floyd

Where Were You When I Needed You- Grassroots

Star- Stealer's Wheel

In Heaven, We All Are- The Dead Bodies

Two Shy Gnomes Sacrifice a Field Mouse- The Easy Tease

The Octopus Ride (I forget what it's called)- Syd Barrett

Mihalis- Dave Gilmour

16 Military Wives- The Decemberists

Mariner's Revenge- The Decemberists

Telegraph Road- Dire Straits

I'm Never Gonna Wipe My Butt- The Shins

....so there's my list!

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