Oysterband – Molly Bond (1986)

Originally known as “The Oyster Band,” Oysterband is a folk-rock band formed in Canterbury, UK, some time around 1976. The band’s music fuzes rock and British folk music, and the result is electifying.

Unfortunately, the band is virtually unknown in the U.S. Back in the day when there were rock radio stations, they wouldn’t play folk rock. The only way American listeners would have been able to hear the band on the radio would have been on a college station.

oysterband

The band’s current lineup is:

  • Chopper – bass guitar, cello, vocals
  • John Jones – melodeon, lead vocals
  • Alan Prosser – guitars, viola, vocals
  • Ian Telfer – fiddle, English concertina, vocals
  • Dil Davies – drums

I was lucky enough to see the band in Providence, RI back in the early 90s (during what was probably one of their only American tours) and to meet them. I have a friend in Boston who knows the band so we got to hang out with them before and after the gig. They’re about the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

“We’ve got a song called “On The Edge” which is a rant against globalization and in particular against McDonalds…You can go into the Arctic Circle and they’ll be a McDonalds that’ll serve exactly the same food as you get in New Zealand. What is the point of that? It takes away all the fun of traveling and all the differences between the countries, and the food’s shite anyway.”

— Chopper, Folking.com interview, 2001

The band moves effortlessly between straight-on Celtic-influenced rock and traditional ballads. The ballads, such as the one presented here, showcase singer John Jones, who has one of the finest singing voices in the world.

Molly Bond tells the story of a hunter who accidentally shoots and kills his beloved Molly, mistaking her for a swan. At his trial, Molly’s ghost appears to the judge and explains that it was an accident.

This video comes from the band’s 2003 25th anniversary concert in London.

Molly Bond
(Trad. Arr. Oysterband)

Lyrics from: Step Outside

Come all you young gallants that delight in a gun
Beware of your shooting at the setting of the sun

It happened one evening in a large shower of hail
When under a bower my love was concealed

He apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

As I walked up to her and found it was she
My limbs they grew weary and my eyes couldn’t see

The ring on her finger, most bitterly I cried
O Molly, if you were living, you’d’ve been my fond bride

Home to my father like lightning I did run
Saying Father, dearest father, do you know what I’ve done?

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling, and where shall I run?

His father in the corner with his hair turning grey
O my dear Jimmy, don’t you run away

Stay in this country until the trial comes on
You never shall be hung by the laws of this land

The day of the trial to the judge she appeared
As God is my witness young Jimmy must go clear

My apron flew around me, he took me as a swan
And I know his heart lies bleeding for his own Molly Bond

Molly Bond appears on the albums Step Outside and Alive And Acoustic (no longer available). The live version is slightly different than the original album version—I think it’s in a different key.

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Julia Darling – Photographs (2003)

Julia Darling

A New Zealand native, Julia Darling bought a guitar and learned how to play it. At age 18, she left home and began busking in Melbourne, Australia. It was only a few months before she was signed to a record deal.

The record company flew Julia to New York, where she worked with seasoned studio musicians (including Jon Brion and ex-Eels drummer Jonathan “Butch” Norton) and recorded her debut album, 1999’s Figure 8. While the album garnered critical acclaim, sales were less than stellar (which was probably due to the label’s lack of promotion). Julia’s record company dropped her and she was left to fend for herself in New York City.

Julia stayed in New York, where she waited tables at The Cutting Room and played small gigs in bars. She eventually developed a following in the New York music scene. In 2003, four years after the release of Figure 8, Julia released Julia Darling, which contains the song Photographs, presented here.

When I listen to the song, my mind races to try to find words to describe her voice—it has an ineffable beauty.

No one could ever accuse this eclectic artist of being derivative or borrowing too much from one any source, though she admits her Kate Bush influences — apparent on the brooding Crinolines and Waltzing.

InkBlot Magazine

Figure 8 is and remains one of the best and most under-appreciated albums that I can think of. Listen to Overloading God or Bulletproof Belief and you’ll be left wondering why lesser talents like Alanis Morisette were popular and this album never quite took off. Maybe Morisette had someone pushing her music to the radio stations (don’t tell me payola is dead), because they played Ironic and You Ought to Know incessantly until I was ready to do anything to just make it stop.

Although Figure 8 has been discontinued, you can click the Amazon link below and find a used copy at a very low price.

Julia’s MySpace page states that she’s recording her 3rd album with Ken Rich and Andrew Sherman.

Julia Darling MySpace page

Eels – Novocaine For The Soul (1996)

everett

Eels are Mark Oliver Everett and the musicians he happens to be working with at any given moment. He released two solo albums under the name E, A Man Called E in 1992 and Broken Toy Shop the following year. The Eels debut album, Beautiful Freak, was released in 1996.

Mark is a complex individual, and a talented musician and writer. A large part of Eels music has focused on Mark’s struggles with his personal demons and the pain that resulted from dealing with family tragedies—including the death of his parents (his father was Hugh Everett, the physicist who created the many-worlds theory) and his sister’s suicide.

“I’m not trying to dazzle anyone with versatility or anything. I just do what’s in my heart basically.”

Mark Oliver Everett

 Mark isn’t averse to occasionally tormenting his live audiences. During one tour, the audience was treated to an opening performance by “MC Honky,” Mark’s alter ego, who is to Mark what Tony Clifton was to Andy Kaufman. An actor stood on the stage with a pipe in his mouth while recorded sounds played that had only a passing relationship with music. This went on for some 45 minutes.

On another tour, Mark’s pre-show torment consisted of showing a 50-minute Russian animated children’s film of talking clay animals (in Russian with no subtitles). The volume was turned way up to prevent the audience from ignoring the film.After being subjected to these two assaults, I decided to stop attending the band’s gigs.

The video presented above is for Novocaine for the Soul, the first single off Beautiful Freak. Great song, great video. I still have no idea how they did the effects for the video. I figure they used a crane and harnesses. But how did they do the shot of the guy standing on the wall?

I e-mailed the director, Mark Romanek, and asked if he’d say a few words about the making of the video for this blog, but he never replied. Hey, I’m just a guy with a little blog and he’s an important music video director.

A new Eels album, Hombre Lobo (Wolf Man), is due out in June.

moe

• Eels Official Site
Eels On MySpace

The Cranberries – Zombie (1994)

www.marcsmusiclist.comThe Cranberries exploded onto the music scene in 1993, with the release of the album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? The band became one of the most popular bands of the 1990s and had a number of hit singles, including Linger, Dreams, and Zombie.

The band’s success was due to singer Dolores O’Riordan’s quirky vocal style, tight musicianship, and superior songwriting.

This song, Zombie, features a heavier guitar sound than the rest of the band’s material (contrast it with Dreams, for example). The song is about the political violence in Northern Ireland. The images in the video makes use of this imagery, mixed with scenes of singer O’Riordan covered in gold makeup and wearing an Egyptian headdress and eye makeup—a representation of the Egyptian goddess, Isis.

Isis

Isis

This is from Wikipedia:

Isis was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife, patron of nature and magic; friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, the downtrodden, as well as listening to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is the Goddess of motherhood and fertility.

Back to the music. Listen to the opening of the song. It starts with about 12 seconds of melodic chords that sound a little like All About Eve. Then the drums kick in, followed by the fuzz effected ominous buzz saw guitars. Fifteen seconds into the song, you already know you’re listening to something brilliant.

Here’s In The Clouds by All About Eve, which was released in 1987. Listen for similarities in the sound.

The Cranberries went on hiatus in 2003. Dolores O’Riordan has embarked on a solo career, although O’Riordan has stated that a Cranberries reunion will happen:

“Definitely down the road, but not right now because we’ve all got kids and babies. You can’t really do both – be on the road all the time and be a good parent. To bring kids into the world, you need to be there for them. I’m really enjoying taking things at my own pace.”

• The Official Community of The Cranberries
• Dolores O’Riordan — Official Site