Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special No Mas Cowbell!! Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Hop-Sing and I are off to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the first annual Cindy McCain Just Say Yes! Foundation dinner. I'm not sure what exactly Ms. McCain's cause is, but I'm sure it's something wonderfully positive and I'm proud to be a part of it, however small.

Of course, that means that posting by moi will necessarily be somewhat fitful for a few days.

But until then, as always, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

BEST USE OF BELLS ON A POP OR ROCK RECORD!!!!!

By "best" we mean the most creative, or the spookiest, or the most atmospheric or whatever works. And by "bells" we mean chimes of the tubular variety. Mostly. Sleighbells or alarm bells are okay too.

But no fricking cowbell!!! That's another list and/or joke. Seriously -- you try sneaking some of that "Don't Fear the Reaper" or "Time Has Come Today" crap past me and I swear to god I'll take a hostage.

Okay, that said, here's my totally top of my head Top Eight:

8. The Weepies -- All That I Want



Attentive readers already know of my fondness for this; the sleighbells are sort of subliminal, but the record wouldn't be near as good without them

7. Procol Harum -- Pilgrim's Progress

Sorry no video or audio link, but trust me -- when the chimes on the fadeout of this one (it's the closing song on A Salty Dog) seem to appear out of nowhere, it's guaranteed to take your breath away.

6. Spike Jones -- My Old Flame



The great Paul Frees (Boris Badenov on Rocky and Bullwinkle) steals this one as Peter Lorre, but those fire alarms in the band freakout section are pretty hilarious, you'll have to admit

5. The Dixie Cups -- Chapel of Love



Wedding bells, natch. Did producers Leiber and Stoller arrange this one?

4. The Lovin' Spoonful -- You Didn't Have to Be So Nice



Zally's signature guitar riff doubled by the chimes still gives me chills. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that's the first time that particular trick was used on a pop record....

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Your Own Worst Enemy



The Iraq War subtext notwithstanding, Bruce's 2007 album is his poppiest in ages. The chimes here are a wonderful Brill Building touch, no? God, I love this song....

2. The Hollies -- Pay You Back With Interest

Sorry no video, but you can listen here -- it's one of their absolutely best songs, and the chimes at the end are gorgeous...

And the number one, nobody even comes close, use of bells on a pop or rock record is ---

1. Nick Cave -- Red Right Hand



This has been appropriated as background music for countless TV dramas -- actually, I think the first time I heard it was on an episode of The X-Files -- but it's still one of the eeriest pop records in memory, and those solitary chime hits after the choruses just slay me.

Alrighty now -- what would your choices be?

[h/t Brooklyn Girl]

31 comments:

Mister Pleasant said...

You Didn't Have to Be So Nice is my favorite Spoonful tune. Those closing harmonies are killer. The bells really do bring an otherworldly feel to the guitar riff.

Frankly I have not listened to Bruce much since Nebraska (insert catcalls here) but Your Own Worst Enemy is fantastic. It sets a mood that reminds me of The Notorious Byrd Brothers.

My top bell tunes would be The Nazz's Forget All About It with those massive tubular bell strokes in the intro. And last but certainly not least, Bruce's Born to Run with those celestial glockenspiel arpeggios.

TJWood said...

Well, if it's bell songs we're talking about, somebody's going to bring up "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC sooner or later, powerpop oriented blog or no. I'll do the honors right now. The Mike Oldfield thing I'll leave to other bloggers.

There are probably dozens of candidates out there, but the only two that stick out for me at this moment are John Lennon's "Mother" (the ominous intro bells) and Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark" (the chimes by Milt Holland played near the end of the song). But I'll throw in "Time" by Pink Floyd to get our first alarm bell candidate in there.

Plus another rave for "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice"---what a tune, what a riff.

steve simels said...

Mr. Pleasant--

I totally forgot the Nazz song, which is one of the best tracks on one of my all-time fave albums. Good call....

Avedon said...

I totally love that video for Chapel of Love.

It's interesting listening to these songs specifically for the bells - it makes them different.

I'm too lazy to go upstairs to dig up A Salty Dog, which is inconveniently on vinyl only in this house, but I just happen to have the Nazz Nazz CD mere inches away, right next to the CD player. Love both of those albums. Gotta get ASD on CD, don't know how I missed it. I still love the sound of vinyl better, but CDs are so much easier to use....

So, when are you going to do foghorns?

Noam Sane said...

Holy shit, that Nick Cave song is great. New to me.

How about Wilco's "I Can't Stand It".

Brooklyn Girl said...

Does a cash register count as a bell? If it does, then I'd add Pink Floyd's "Money" ...

FeralLiberal said...

There's all kinds of Prog stuff out there with bells; ELP, Genesis, and dare I mention Mike Oldfield? And any number of Xmas covers feature bells, but more in the spirit of things may I offer...

Elton John - "Funeral for a Friend"

The Beatles - "A Day in the Life"

Alice Cooper - "School's Out"

Anonymous said...

How about the intro to Tommy James' Sweet Cherry Wine ?

The Kenosha Kid said...

It's very obvious, but I thought the bells (glockenspiel?) really made Born to Run.

Also, I remember Lulu did a nice version of Morning Dew that had some interesting bells, but it might be marimba (can't remember).

Nice to see Nick Cave get the top slot.

The Kenosha Kid said...

How could I forget - Clap Hands by Tom Waits !?

Brooklyn Girl said...

Clap Hands by Tom Waits

Is that the same song that Beck does with dinnerware?

Southern Beale said...

I'm not sure what exactly Ms. McCain's cause is, but I'm sure it's something wonderfully positive and I'm proud to be a part of it, however small.

Maybe it's collagen lip injection. Let's hope; she sure needs it.

OK I realize that is a very mean thing to say, maybe I'm in a mean mood today. But what is it with these lipless, lizard-like Republican women? Cindy McCain, like Mary Matalin, Bay Buchanan and all the rest of them, look positively feral. What's up with that?

Jim said...

Totally agree with 2 of your picks. Pilgrim's Progress and Chapel of Love are both great songs, with good bell parts.

Brooklyn Girl said...

"Penny Lane"'s fireman has a clean machine ... with a lovely fireman's bell.

SteveNS said...

Sure, it's prime 1980s cheese, but I'm of the opinion that you can't beat Naked Eyes' "Always Something There to Remind Me".

Elroy said...

Ditto Born to Run.

I also love the bells in Marshall Crenshaw's "Our Town".

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Alarm clock # 3 -- A Bright Future in Sales, right after “my head’s spinning & I can’t quite open my eye-highs”

Anonymous said...

Queen's March of the Black Queen on Queen II - not really pop but it's got bells

David said...

You've missed a critical bells song: "Witchi-Tai-To," a shockingly good song by the band who added unneeded sweetening to S&G's "59th Street Bridge Song."

The Humanist said...

Here's a link to Pilgrim's Progress:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vbIvXYeNUw

Anonymous said...

My favorite use of bells in a pop song was, is and ever shall be the instrumental break in the middle of Ringo Starr's "Photograph". I used to sit up all night back in 1973 with a transistor radio held to my ear, waiting for that bad boy to come up on the AM radio.

David said...

Wow, what a good call. Ringo never gets his due, especially as a solo artist, but that song, and the bells-laden break indeed, remain beautiful.

Brooklyn Girl said...

david said...
You've missed a critical bells song: "Witchi-Tai-To," a shockingly good song by the band who added unneeded sweetening to S&G's "59th Street Bridge Song."

3/08/2008


Was that Brewer and Shipley? I don't know why that's ringing a bell if not (no pun intended)....

Brooklyn Girl said...

We apparently have two Brooklyn Girls ... that last one wasn't me.

Anyway, this may be a stretch, but "Darkness, Darkness" by the Youngbloods just wouldn't be the same without the finger cymbals ...

David said...

Similar but not the same. Brewer & Shipley did "One Toke Over the Line" -- it was Harpers Bizarre who did Feeling Groovy and the other one I mentioned...

TMink said...

Tubular Bells!

Trey

steve simels said...

David:

I think Brewer and Shipley wrote it...I'll go google...

steve simels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve simels said...

Ah no -- it was written by an interesting guy named Jim Pepper/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Pepper

And Brewer and Shipley did cover it...

Jeffrey said...

I would have forgotten if not for just having happened to listen to it this morning, but I'll nominate "Crazy Feeling" from Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby anyway.

Alongside "Pilgrim's Progress", most overwhelming for me is the clanging bell that appears at the climax of "Poor Murdered Woman" by Shirley Collins & the Albion Country Band, which never fails to take my breath away.

Anonymous said...

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