Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Cover Story – Diane Birch

Having won my “Song of the Year” for 2010 Diane Birch caught me out with the sudden release,  of a seven track EP featuring all cover versions as a tribute to the music she loved growing up, music she heard via the older sisters of her friends, movies and other sources that were already nostalgic in the mid 90′s for the era that was the 80′s.

For this release Diane  has teamed with fellow New Yorkers and “astronauts of progressive soul” (Guardian UK) the Phenomenal Handclap Band to record ‘The Velveteen Age.’

 As such she has put her own seductive spin on songs by The Cure, Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Echo & The Bunnymen, This Mortal Coil, The Sisters of Mercy and Peter Murphy.

 ‘The Velveteen Age’ was produced by S-Curve’s Steve Greenberg and Phenomenal Handclap Band’s Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand, and mixed by Steve Greenwell. Birch contributed arrangements with Collas and Marquand, and played all keyboards.

This Corrosion (Sisters of Mercy)

Kiss Them For Me (Siouxsie & The Banshees)
Bring On The Dancing Horses (Echo & The Bunnymen)
Atmosphere (Joy Division) Primary (The Cure)
Tarantula (This Mortal Coil)
A Strange Kind of Love (Peter Murphy)

Diane Birch with The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Produced by Steve Greenberg, Daniel Collás & Sean Marquand
Arranged by Diane Birch, Daniel Collás & Sean Marquand
Diane Birch – Vocals and Keyboards
Luke Riverside – Guitar
Pier Pappalardo – Bass
Patrick Wood – Drums
Quinn Luke & Patrick Wood – Backing vocals

“During my teenage years as a Goth these songs were amongst my nearest and dearest,” says Birch, who appears in one of her vintage Victorian wedding dresses at age 16 in the photo on the EP cover. “Sitting in my bedroom with my headphones pressed into my ears till they hurt, each song gave me a weird kind of hope for my future. I would have never imagined I would get a chance to record them one day, let alone with some of my closest friends.”

To buy the EP click HERE which I would recommend if only for her haunting take on Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”

January 1, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Releases, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beatles

the beatles

Before addressing the Magnus Opus that was 1968’s “The Beatles” aka “The White Album”, I need to address the two singles which were released in 1968 prior to the album.

“Lady Madonna”, written in the style of Fats Domino with Paul on piano, was released on March 15th 1968 and as well as being a superb song, featuring a sax solo from the great Ronnie Scott, it would be the last Beatles release on the Parlophone label as The Beatles, like The Who with Track Records, would thereafter launch their own label in the form of Apple Records.

lady madonna

This was followed by the 30th August first Apple release “Hey Jude”, written by Paul for Julian Lennon, which in its day broke with all known tradition by being a single 8 mins long, by the time Paul McCartney chose it as the song to end his Live 8 set in 2005 it to some felt like 80 mins long!

The B-Side was a version of “Revolution” which would latterly appear in two different forms on the album, John Lennon fought hard for this to be the A-Side, if he had won it would have eliminated one of the all time low points for any pub singer……..and his audience!!

hey jude


As for the album well here we go.

First please note that the album cover design was a directly intended move away from the complex designs that went before, in particular Sgt Pepper, early copies had an individual number stamped on the front. This minimalistic approach was in part compensated for by the inclusion of four full colour photographs one of each member of the group plus a large fold out poster featuring the lyrics and a collage , one on each side of the poster.

Producer George Martin is quoted as saying that this would have made a magnificent single album, whilst originally agreeing with this, over recent time I have grown to enjoy the quirckier tracks and their inclusion I now believe adds to the album’s greatness rather than distracting from it.

It is to me more than any other Beatles album one which is best listened to in a single sitting, sure there are great individual tracks that we will come to, but sitting down with the whole album is an “event” and one which takes you down so many musical avenues which leads me to the conclusion that, at least as I type, this is without doubt my favourite Beatles album.

From the rock ‘n’ roll of “Back In The U.S.S.R. to the west end style show stopping lullaby that is “Good Night” we are transported on a magical musical adventure through The Beatles only, non compilation, double album.

At the end of the day, like us all, it is it’s imperfections that somehow make it so special.

Many of the songs were written when the band relocated for several months to Rishikesh in India to learn and partake in meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a good example being “Dear Prudence”.

The song is about actress Mia Farrow‘s sister, Prudence, who was present when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Prudence, focused on meditation, stayed in her room for the majority of their stay. Lennon, who was worried that she was depressed, wrote this song for her, inviting her to “come out to play”. While the Beatles left the course, Prudence, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and others, stayed and became Transcendental Meditation (or TM) teachers.

This song, along with the preceding track “Back in the U.S.S.R.“, features Paul McCartney on drums rather than Ringo Starr, who had recently walked out. Starr returned after the recording of this song to find flowers waiting for him on his drum kit (which were a gift from George Harrison).

The song features DADGBE, one of the more common alternate guitar tunings for fingerpicking.

Both “Dear Prudence” and “Helter Skelter” were covered to great effect by Siouxsie Sioux & The Banshees.

A bit more innovative than The Marmalade’s copycat cover of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

Now George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is one of the classic songs of all time. It featured Eric Clapton as a guest lead guitarist, however, my own favourite version is the solo rendition featured on “Anthology 3”

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it need sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
how to unfold you love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
they bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
no one alerted you

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

Oh, oh, oh
oh “>oh “>oh “>oh “>oh ohoh “>oh ohoh oh oh
oh “>oh “>oh “>oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
yeah “>yeah yeah”>yeah yeah yeah

Anthology 3

Anthology 3

There are two versions of “Revolution” on the album #1 and#9, my preferred version however is that which appeared as the B-Side to “Hey Jude” and we will catch up with that later when posting on the “Past Masters” remaster.

There are two brilliant McCartney songs in the first half of the album this is an early version of one of them

This though is my favourite “I Will”

Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will.

If I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart.

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know, I will
I will.

The second half of the album get’s of to a flyer with “Birthday” and “Yer Blues” the latter of which was performed by John Lennon with an all star cast as “Dirty Mac” in the Rolling Stones “Rock and Roll Circus” movie.

Time moves on so all I have left to say is “Good Night”

Now it’s time to say good night
Good night Sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night Sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine
Good night Sleep tight
Now the moon begins to shine
Good night Sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Close your eyes and I’ll close mine
Good night Sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night Sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you.

Good night Good night Everybody
Everybody everywhere
Good night.

To learn more about this album click HERE

To buy the music of The Beatles click HERE


September 13, 2009 Posted by | Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment


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