'I'll Spend My Life With You' by The Monkees
There are two versions of this song. The official one is on The Monkees third album 'Headquarters'. The other is a lovely softer take on the tune done by the band for their previous album 'More Of The Monkees' – this version is available on the recent Rhino editions of the groups back catalogue.
The Monkees for me have always been an album band. There are the hits, and then there all the strong tracks spread over their records - the first four especially. 'I'll Spend My Life With You' was written by Boyce&Hart, who are perhaps best known for writing the bands first chart-topper, the sublime 'Last Train To Clarksville'. Boyce and Hart were also in a mid sixties LA pop band that had one of the best band names in the history of rock – The Candy Store Prophets. Beat that.
They were pop writers in the best sense, and with 'I'll Spend...' they wrote a gentle, melodic, and romantically heroic song. Our version has the strum up high – we are in love with the melody, simple guitar lines run through the mix played by the session's bass player Scott Bromily, and hopefully total joy is heard in our recording.
'The Prisoner' by The Saints
Brisbane boys and a little nasty. I love the mood of this and the hypnotic two chord verse melody that then bursts onto the third chord at the end of the vocal line. The lyrics evoke post punk London 1978, and you can perhaps hear that I very much enjoyed singing this. It came easy.
The Saints were a Brisbane band and 'The Prisoner' is off their third and best album 'Prehistoric Sounds'. The band were an inspiration to the local groups that followed, including The Go-Betweens, who saw in The Saints not only good songwriting and attitude, but a group that managed to get out of Brisbane and snag an album deal in London. This was fuel for the local scene circa 1978 -80.
'Just A King In Mirrors' by The Go-Betweens
Grant McLennan my songwriting partner in The Go-Betweens wrote this for the b- side of 'Part Company' in 1983. Which shows the band was either crazy to put material as strong as this on a flipside, or we had so many good songs and this was the only home it could find.
This is a beautiful ballad from Grant. Melodically strong as always, and with a lyric that really cuts and evokes a person and a scene. Normally I never asked Grant what his songs were about, but this one so took me at the time that I asked him who the subject of the song was. He said it was Nick Cave, whom Grant was close too at the time. I don't know what I thought when he told me that, but listening to the song now, and singing it, it sounds nearer to a portrait of Grant himself.
A final note added as humbly as I can. The guitar solo on this is by me, and I think it is one of the best things I've done.
'Walcott' by Vampire Weekend
I love this band and dug them from the get go. Their first album is a classic and was one of those records that pop up very occasionally and make you re-assess what can be done with drums, bass, and guitars. Plus they had 11 cracker songs that had a fresh lyric slant and showed brilliant pop roots. The whole African influence debate and the yuppie student moan a big distraction to strong songwritng and inventive record production. That also impressed. No indie rock, heavy name producer. They did it themselves, so the flavours are full, and that made the impact of the album even stronger. Enough frothing from the mouth from me.
'Walcott' is not the best song on the album. But I am going to be cheeky here – it is the one that I thought that I could have written. The fast strum, the strong middle eight, the Velvets like glide of the whole thing. Our recording has taken out a lot of the production tricks of the original and played it as a straighter, more naive pop song. A bit of Buddy Holly. The first guitar solo is mine and the second – the stunner – is by Scott Bromily, he of the bass and also a member of The John Steel Singers (great current Brisbane band). He had a big grin on his face as he put it together in the studio, telling us at one stage he was channelling Clarence White. He got there.
Brisbane, 30th June 2010