Battle of the Bands: Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne

It’s June 15th and the official kickoff to Battle of the Bands going monthly. From here on out, Battles will be held once a month, on the 15th of every month. (Note: some BOTB participants will still post two battles per month, on the 1st and the 15th).

My mid-month battle is featuring the song Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne.

“Doctor My Eyes” is a 1972 song written and performed by Jackson Browne and included on his debut album Jackson Browne. Featuring a combination of an upbeat piano riff coupled, somewhat ironically, with lyric about feeling world-weary, the song was a surprise hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in spring 1972, after debuting on the chart at #80. In Canada, the song peaked at #4.

Jesse Ed Davis played the electric guitar while David Crosby and Graham Nash sang backing vocals, and Russ Kunkel played drums.

I’ve always loved this song. It’s interesting in that the upbeat music doesn’t match the lyrics. Here’s some history of the song from Wikipedia: William Ruhlmann on Allmusic.com elaborated on the development of the song: “Browne first recorded a demo of ‘Doctor My Eyes’ for the Criterion Music publishing company in early 1971, and despite its striking imagery and carefully crafted writing, it was a bleak song… By the time he came to record the song for his first album in the summer of 1971, however, Browne had revised the lyric, tossing out the most pessimistic lines. Now, ‘Doctor My Eyes’ was the statement of a man who had stoically endured life’s hardships, but having done so, now worried that he had been rendered unable to feel anything. It still wasn’t an optimistic song, but the unhappy ending had been rendered ambiguous.” Ruhlmann addresses the final recorded version’s “paradoxical sense” between the music and the lyrics: “Working with other musicians, Browne drastically altered the sound of the song on record. A lively 4/4 beat, played on drums and congas, and supported by piano, set up a catchy underlying riff before the lyrics even began. Browne’s singing was supported by Graham Nash and David Crosby’s harmonies, giving the lyrics an emotional edge. On the whole, the arrangement and performance worked against the still desperate message contained in the words.” There was originally a third verse to the song, but it was not retained when Browne recorded the song for his debut album. The lost verse, however, can be found on circulating bootlegs of the song’s original demo.

In part 1 of the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, JD Souther and Glenn Frey discuss at some length the process of Browne’s work methods while Browne was working on the song over a period of some months. The three lived in adjacent downmarket apartments; the future Eagles would hear Browne, through the walls, at work on his piano every morning.

On the song’s reception: Jeff Walker, in his review of Browne’s debut album for Phonograph Record magazine in 1972, wrote that “Doctor My Eyes” is one of a number of tracks on the album that “deal with a spiritual search; no preaching, no conclusions, just searching.”

Ruhlmann on Allmusic called it “a rollicking pop/rock song about being almost terminally burnt out.”

Here’s a terrific live performance of Jackson Browne’s appearance on Rockpalast (Rock Palace), a German music television show, in 1986. Don’t vote for this version: it’s here for your enjoyment only.

 

THE BATTLE, featuring female vocals:

CONTENDER #1: Wilson Phillips 

Wilson Phillips covered the song on their 2004 album “California”.  Wilson Phillips is an American vocal group consisting of Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips, the daughters, respectively, of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas. (If the video doesn’t play for some reason, you can hear the version here)

 

CONTENDER #2: Gretchen Wilson

Gretchen Frances Wilson (born June 26, 1973) is an American country music artist. She made her debut in 2004 with the Grammy Award-winning single “Redneck Woman,” a number-one hit on the Billboard country charts. She covered the song for the 2013 album “Under the Covers“.

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

Thanks for your participation and your votes! I’ll be back next month, on July 15th, for another battle. Until then, rock on…

Battle of the Bands RESULTS: Losing My Religion

Here are the results from my latest Battle of the Bands, which featured R.E.M.’s 1991 hit Losing My Religion. The battle was between Passenger and Jacqui Naylor.

Well, Jacqui Naylor sure didn’t fare well in this battle! She only managed to pull in one vote..and it wasn’t mine. I voted with the majority and went with Passenger.

Final Tally:

Passenger:  9 votes

Jacqui Naylor:  1 vote

I’ll be back on June 15th for another battle. Until then, I’ll leave you with a few Passenger originals. First up is Let Her Go from Passenger’s third album All the Little Lights, released in 2012:

Next up is Somebody’s Love, the lead single from his most recent album Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea, released late last year:

 

See ya on the 15th!

Battle of the Bands: Losing My Religion by R.E.M. #BOTB

It’s June 1st and in another 30 days 2017 will be half over already! But let’s stop the clock for a minute or two and groove on another Battle of the Bands. My battle today features R.E.M.’s 1991 hit Losing My Religion

“Losing My Religion” is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. The song was released as the first single from the group’s 1991 album Out of Time. Built on a mandolin riff, “Losing My Religion” was an unlikely hit for the group, garnering heavy airplay on radio as well as on MTV due to its critically acclaimed music video. The song became R.E.M.’s highest-charting hit in the United States, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and expanding the group’s popularity beyond its original fanbase. It was nominated for several Grammy Awards, and won two for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video.

Interesting tidbit: About the lyrics, and in particular the song title: “In the song, R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe sings the lines “That’s me in the corner/That’s me in the spotlight/Losing my religion”. The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means losing one’s temper or civility, or “being at the end of one’s rope.” Stipe told The New York Times the song was about romantic expression. He told Q that “Losing My Religion” is about “someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.” Stipe compared the song’s theme to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, saying, “It’s just a classic obsession pop song. I’ve always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’

That was pretty cool: I never really understood what the song lyric “losing my religion” meant or to what it referred. I had no idea it was a southern expression!

The music video for “Losing My Religion” was directed by Tarsem Singh. This battle actually came to me after researching the Pepsi commercial featured in Mike Spain’s May 15th Battle (using Queen’s We Will Rock You song). I hadn’t seen the commercial before and wondered when it was produced. It led me to discover Director Tarsem Singh’s works, one of them being the award-winning R.E.M. music video for Losing My Religion. More specifically, “the music video was nominated in nine categories at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. The video won six awards, including Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Art Direction, Best Direction, and Best Editing. “Losing My Religion” also ranked second in the music video category of the 1991 Pazz & Jop poll.” (Source: Wikipedia)

I love this song! This is the R.E.M. official music video. But don’t vote for this version! This is for your enjoyment only. TURN IT UP!

 

THE BATTLE

Contender #1:  PASSENGER

Michael David Rosenberg (born 17 May 1984), better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Previously the main vocalist and songwriter of Passenger, Rosenberg opted to keep the band’s name for his solo work after the band dissolved in 2009. His most successful single, “Let Her Go”, has topped the charts in many countries. In 2014, the song was nominated for the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, and he received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work.

Passenger just came through my town last month, Austin TX, on his North American Tour. About Austin he said, “One of the tour highlights without a doubt. What a fun town and the bbq was outstanding as ever 😉 thanks to everyone at Stubb’s Austin for the amazing hospitality !!!!”

Austin is such a cool town! And Stubbs is this really awesome outdoor venue downtown that hosts so many brilliant bands. I’ve been to several events at Stubbs: Great music, great barbecue and cold beer on a gorgeous spring evening: Ah, it just doesn’t get any better…  (And Stubbs Bar-B-Q Sauce is THE BEST (and it’s the only brand I buy! I purchase it at my local grocery store but you can buy it at amazon as well. Try it, you’ll like it!). Unfortunately, I did not attend the Passenger concert last month.

Here is his cover of Losing My Religion:

 

Contender #2:  JACQUI NAYLOR

About Jacqui Naylor, Jazz Times writes: “Jacqui Naylor is the new voice of jazz-pop.”

“In the never-ending “next big thing” sweepstakes, bet on Jacqui Naylor to be a frontrunner. She bears a striking resemblance to Diana Krall and echos the Canadian diva’s roundly rich sound. Naylor’s voice suggests, though, a slightly deeper sensuality and is charged with a strong jolt of Norah Jones’ folk-jazz electricity. Her originals are Joni Mitchell good.”

On Jacqui Naylor’s site, her biography states: “Jacqui Naylor is not an easy artist to categorize. There are times when she performs straight-ahead vocal jazz, but at other times she favors more of a folk-rock/adult alternative approach. Depending on the mood she is in at a given moment, the northern Californian can bring to mind anyone from Cassandra Wilson or British jazz vocalist Claire Martin to Sarah McLachlan or Shawn Colvin — she is as comfortable among jazz improvisers as she is in the singer/songwriter world. During one of her live performances, Naylor has no problem singing smoky jazz one minute and folk-rock or adult alternative the next — and there are times when she blurs the line between the two…”

This performance is Live at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle WA:

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

 

Thanks for your participation! I’ll be back in six days to post the results…

Battle of the Bands RESULTS: Devil Woman

It’s RESULTS time for my latest Battle of the Bands, featuring Riot and All About Eve battling with Cliff Richard’s hit Devil Woman.  It was my first battle back after a break and I feared a shutout as all votes coming in were going to Riot.

But then Stephen whisked in and shut that shutout down! In the end, All About Eve picked up a few more votes, including mine, but certainly not enough for the win.

I actually liked both versions. When I first heard the versions, I said Nah to each one. But then as the song went on, Riot’s version grew on me and then so did All About Eve’s. I kinda like them both equally. In the end I decided my choice by imagining which one I’d rather listen to on auto-repeat and it came down to All About Eve’s version.

Final Tally:

RIOT:  7 votes

ALL ABOUT EVE:  4 votes

As always, thanks for participating! I’ll be back with a new battle on June 1st…

I’ll leave you with another song by All About Eve: Wild Hearted Woman

A Return to Battle of the Bands: Devil Woman by Cliff Richard

After a brief (well, maybe a bit more than brief) break from this bi-monthly music feature fondly known as Battle of the Bands, hosted by Stephen McCarthy of StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands, I am returning to spotlight one of my very favorite songs from the 70s.

Devil Woman is a 1976 hit single by Cliff Richard from his album I’m Nearly Famous.

In case you’re not familiar with Cliff Richard: Sir Cliff Richard OBE (born Harry Rodger Webb, October 14, 1940) is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor and philanthropist. Richard has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. He has total sales of over 21 million singles in the United Kingdom and is the third-top-selling artist in UK Singles Chart history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

“Devil Woman” was written by Terry Britten and Christine Holmes (singer of the Family Dogg) and also recorded by Holmes under the name “Kristine”.

A No. 9 UK hit in June 1976, “Devil Woman” became Richard’s first single to reach the Top 20 in the US, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was Richard’s highest peaking single. “Devil Woman” is the third biggest-selling Cliff Richard single with over two million copies sold worldwide. It was certified Gold by the RIAA in the US and the CRIA in Canada.

The song is told from the point of a view of a man jinxed from an encounter with a stray cat with evil eyes, and his discovery that the psychic medium (a Gypsy woman) whose help he sought to break the curse was the one responsible for the curse in the first place.

The song is heavily guitar-driven, with soft-distortion lines doubling the melody in the chorus and long, high, sustained single notes providing atmosphere over the verses. A Rhodes electric piano, bass guitar, drums and percussion are the only other instruments.

Here’s is Cliff Richard’s hit. Give a listen and be sure to Crank It Up! It absolutely should be listened to at high volume…and you’ll surely see why it’s one of my favorites. Such a great song. (But don’t vote for this version; it’s only here for your enjoyment. Vote on the covers presented below).

 

Cover #1: RIOT

Riot is an American heavy metal band founded in New York City in 1975 by guitarist Mark Reale. Reaching a peak in popularity in the early 80s, the band has continued a long-running successful career.

Riot has toured with AC/DC, Molly Hatchet, Sammy Hagar, Kiss, Vandenberg, Black Sabbath and Rush among others.

Riot’s sound initially started out as straightforward heavy metal, but since their 1988 release Thundersteel their musical direction has been more along the lines of power metal.

In 2013, Riot V, a new iteration of the band, was launched by the surviving members, post the passing of founding member and band leader Mark Reale.

Their cover of Devil Woman appeared on Riot’s 1983 album Born in America:

 

Cover #2:  ALL ABOUT EVE

All About Eve was an English band known for their alternative and gothic rock style. The band’s name was taken from the 1950 film starring Bette Davis. The initial creative core consisted of Julianne Regan (vocals) and Tim Bricheno ( guitar) and Andy Cousin (bass guitar) with other members changing over the years. Their biggest commercial success was “Martha’s Harbour” (1988), although the band’s tenure ran between 1984 and 2004, and included four UK Top 50 albums. The band have been recognized for their “unique, folk-rock-influenced take” on the gothic rock style and Regan has been described as “certainly one of the more talented singers” of the scene in the late 1980s.

All About Eve did the Devil Woman cover as a B-side of their 12″ single Flowers in Our Hair in 1987.

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

 

I’ll be back on the 21st with results for this battle. Thanks for participating!