Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Musical Eccentricities 3

Time for another set of musical eccentricities, this time with a rather loose spiritual theme.

John Kongos – Tokoloshe Man: Not long back from South Africa, so why not recall a long forgotten Johannesburg guitarist from the early 70s whose 'hairy tidal wave' appearance may have been a shock to viewers of Top Of The Pops. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the song is all about how to avoid the attention of a mischievous, evil and well endowed dwarf spirit (“make your bed up high, pray into the sky”). Infectious tribal beat and guitar riffs too. Curious that he was only ever a two hit wonder, along with “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”.

Gillan – No Laughing In Heaven: Enjoyable comic stomp from the former lead singer of Deep Purple, covering the perils of trying to lead too good a life in the hope of favours in the afterlife. Underlying message, be very careful about what you wish for. Classic section from the ‘heavy rap’ verses: “I gave money to the poor/Until I was poor/But at least I ensured/That I would go up there/Instead of down below/To the inferno/Where the evil flames of desire/Burn higher, and higher, and higher…”

Saxon – Suzie Hold On: At first sight, just a slow rock standard, not quite a ballad. But look more closely at the lyrics and you’ll find it’s all about a dying cancer victim. Probably one of the saddest songs that any band from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal ever wrote. Quite a contrast to ‘Wheels of Steel’ and ‘747/Strangers In the Night’, but no less effective.

Judas Priest – Beyond The Realms Of Death: An actual rock ballad this time, about a depressed person who decides to leave this life at a time of his own choosing as friends look on. The last verse line “Is knowledge worth this bitter cost?” once made me think it was all about the arguable futility in preserving helpless victims on life support machines when they would have no quality of life ever again. Tricky issues.

Scorpions – Wind of Change: Now for something more uplifting – a commemoration of the spirit of the Russian people as they took their tentative steps towards freedom after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, inspired by the group’s Moscow concert on the tour that preceded the release of the Crazy World album. Would the Russians ever want a return to the old days when the Cold War was a reality, when their living standards would be not far off those of the modern day North Koreans, and when they’d have no Western rock music easily available? Thought not.

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