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Live It Up 60: Luka

There aren’t many pop songs which deal with the subject of domestic violence, but this one does. I heard Vega on the radio many years after it was a hit saying she took the name from that of the boy who did indeed live on the floor above her. She subsequently found he was playing on the fact that it had been used in the song as a chat-up line!

The first video below is the official one, the second a “live” performance.

Suzanne Vega: Luka


Live It Up 59: Drive

I saw from The Guardian that Ric Ocasek, song-writer for the US band The Cars, has died.

The group’s highest UK chart placing was at no. 3 with My Best Friend’s Girl in 1978, a song which was of a piece with those punkish times.

The much less abrasive Drive reached no. 5 in 1984 but its use the next year in the Live Aid concert of 1985 to background scenes of the famine the concert was designed to help alleviate led to a reissue where it climbed to no. 4. Since then it’s been almost impossible to hear the song without those images coming to mind.

This, though, is the official video from the original release.

The Cars: Drive

Richard Theodore Otcasek (Ric Ocasek): 23/3/1944 – 15/9/2019. So it goes.

Live It Up 58: Twist in my Sobriety

The second single – and second hit – from the laconic Tanita Tikaram.

It’s unusual to hear an oboe so prominently in a pop song.

Tanita Tikaram – Twist in my Sobriety

Live It Up 56: Don’t Talk to Me About Love

In the sixties and seventies Scottish pop acts who had success in the wider world weren’t all that numerous. By the eighties things had improved a bit. Altered Images were to the forefront.

Here’s a Top of the Pops appearance of theirs from 1983. I didn’t remember quite how much electronic instrumentation there is in this.

Altered Images: Don’t Talk to Me About Love

Live It Up 54: Garden Party

This piece of rather heavy-handed social commentary was, in 1983, the third choice of single for Mariilion.

As a result this version does not use the word that rhymes with rucking in the two words that follow it, presumably to avoid being banned and to safeguard airplay. Live versions of the track have no such inhibitions.

Marillion: Garden Party

Live It Up 53: Don’t Dream It’s Over

I must have heard this when it first came out but don’t consciously remember doing so. Well, it was released in 1986 and I was in the first throes of fatherhood that year. Still I suppose the song may only be familiar from repeated plays on the radio since.

(The first song I remember associating with Crowded House by name is actually Chocolate Cake from 1990.)

The talent in the band and Neil Finn’s songwriting ability is clear here though.

Crowded House: Don’t Dream It’s Over

Live It Up 52: Life’s What You Make It. RIP Mark Hollis

Talk Talk were never makers of big hits but nevertheless produced four or five songs which still show their quality over thirty years after they were written and recorded. The group also influenced many later bands as quoted in the Guardian obituary of Talk Talk’s singer and composer Mark Hollis who died earlier this week.

Hollis seems to have been one of the few people who could walk away from a musical career as, barring a solo album in 1998, after 1991 he made few forays into music making.

Talk Talk: Life’s What You Make It

Mark David Hollis: 4/1/1955 – 25/2/2019. So it goes.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

This is one of those songs whose jaunty sound hides a darker underside in the lyric. The video here more than hints at that but undercuts it at the end.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

Live It Up 50: Echo Beach

A bit of 80s fluff.

Martha and the Muffins: Echo Beach

Live It Up 49: Steamy Windows – RIP Tony Joe White

I was sad to read of the passing of singer-songwriter Tony Joe White, who died last week. His was an idiosyncratic voice.

I have already noted his sole UK hit Groupy Girl. His greatest success was perhaps as a writer of songs made famous by others. Elvis Presley recorded Polk Salad Annie (I featured White’s version here.) Tina Turner had a big hit with Steamy Windows in 1989. White’s version is a bit less strident.

Tony Joe White: Steamy Windows

White’s breakthrough as a songwriter came with Rainy Night in Georgia which has been covered multiple times. His original is still quite soulful, though.

Tony Joe White: Rainy Night in Georgia

Tony Joe White: 23/7/1943 –24/10/2018. So it goes.

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