Simon Morris - broadcaster and musician
Ladies and Gentlemen! Quiet please. QUIET! Good, that's better. Wouldn't want to send any of you to see Mr. Turner after school now, would we?
Welcome back to the Dayglo Disco, ravers! Sorry we've been closed for a couple of weeks -- some Russian oligarch took a block booking for that time, and then failed to show -- another lesson hard won -- the Dayglo first and foremost is The People's Disco, and that's the way we like it! So, good to see you, friends and neighbours, ne'er-do-wells and ratbags! Good to see most of you have a bevvy or two at hand, and what could be a better foot-facilitator than a large glass of TP Pinot?
Speaking of friends, here's a very old friend (as in not very old, but as in long standing). Since 1970, to be precise. First spotted Simon whipping a Vietnam demo outside the Wellington Town Hall into what passes for a frenzy In NZ (ie. one or two tapping feet and nodding heads) belting out Street Fighting Man, while thrashing what was probably a vintage Strat. Needless to say, the last thing any of us wanted was to be actually fighting on any streets, but this was riveting stuff nonetheless.
Okay, we know the Dayglo is no place for biography, but bear with us for a moment -- This is Simon Bloody Morris we're talking about here! Our favourite show-off guitarist! Our favourite film reviewer! (overlook for a minute that there is no record of his ever giving the Prop a favourable review) Our favourite raconteur! Our favourite irrverent broadcaster (big ups to Simon & Phil O'Brien for turning the National Programme on its head and making the Dog Days of summer bearable with the sublime and hideous Matinee Idle). Our favourite student of obscure musical facts! [ ‘ He gives trivia depth! ‘ John Clarke ]. Here he is, sprightly, courtly, curmudgeonly, wildly enthusiastic, outrageously funny, perpetually amused; he knows more about music than NASA knows about space, and we knew he'd make a killer Dayglo DJ. Look at him making his way to the decks: a credit to the airways and an adornment to his country....Give it up please for Mr Rock n Roll himself....Mr Simon Morris!
It's been fascinating looking at your friends and relations' take on the Greatest Pieces of Music Ever Constructed by a Genius, and while I agree with many of them, I won't be doing that. Fact is, most of the usual Kosmik Klassiks have been ruined forever by Solid Gold radio stations and their bloody high rotate policy. While I yield to no-one in my respect for Good Vibrations, Like A Rolling Stone, Strawberry Fields Forever and Heartbreak Hotel, frankly if I never hear them again for at least five years that'll be all right by me. And the same goes for bloody Bohemian Rhapsody and Stairway to Heaven. Sod off the lot of you!
So my Top Ten, in absolutely no order, are simply songs that whenever I hear them I turn the radio up and send any dissenters out of the room. I'll try to give reasons, if any, as I go.
Top 10 Tunes
Hello Dad I'm in Jail - Was Not WasHeard it first when I was working on Radio With Pictures and thought it was hilarious. “Hi Dad, I'm in jail… I like it here, it's nice… say hello to Mom -- from -- JAIL!... (and the cruellest cut) Happy birthday Dad from jail…” Oddly when Alec turned about 14 the song ceased to be remotely funny.
Cuddle Up - Beach BoysYou share my love of the BB's, I know (I remember we cleared a room once discussing the finer points of Dennis Wilson's voice…) Dennis it is here, turning the whole room to tear-stained mush before he's finished. But the backing vocals are the point -- from the much maligned Mike Love holding down the bottom end, to Carl and Al pirouetting in the middle and Brian hauled out of the sandpit to look after the tops. Sheer genius.
I'll Be Back - BeatlesNot sure why this one, but I'm certain it's the one, partly because no radio station (apart from ours) ever plays it, and partly because it's John Lennon before he became a genius, and much the better for it. Paul, as usual shadows John most of the way through, but ace in the hole (again as usual) is George, who conjures up the weirdest, rightest riff at the start, and sings a sitar-like single note behind the harmonies. This a good year before he'd ever heard of a sitar. Ringo's in there too. Hello Ringo...
Tunnels - Arcade FireThe Matinee Idle sufferers are aware of my obsession with Canada's finest a year or so back, but the song that did it for me was this one -- and it has to be the live YouTube version, directed by Terry Gilliam. Just about all the Arcades swap instruments (the drummer plays lead guitar), everyone sings it and you'll notice the third or fourth hearing that the reason you keep turning the volume up is that Tunnels speeds up slowly and inexorably all through. Culminating in a fake snowstorm. Go Gilliam!
I Can Hear the Grass Grow - The MoveThe only Move worth listening to is the original 5-piece, and they all get a brief go on their second single. Roy wrote it, and sings “Can't seem to puzzle out the sound…”. Carl sings a lot of it, and spends the rest of the time pouting at the camera. Ace shows him how it should be done (“Get a hold of yourself now baby…”) and Trevor bangs rhythm guitar and sings the weird falsetto backing vocal. And last and by far the lowest, Bev hammers the drums and sings the one bass vocal line (“I see rainbows in the evening”) Pint of lager psychedelia…
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Jeff BeckOnly Flash Jeff would end a tumultuous rawk-n-roll concert in Japan with this. Most rock bands would finish with a rock and roll medley, or even a spirited rendition of “Hi ho silver lining”. But The Greatest Guitarist in the World ™ sends half the band home and plays Judy Garland's signature tune COMPLETELY IN HARMONICS. He touches the note, and if it isn't the right one he uses his whammy bar to yank it INTO the right one. This is almost impossible in the studio with copious drop ins. On stage, in front of a sweaty Japanese rock crowd, it's FLIPPIN' IMPOSSIBLE.
Wise Up - Aimee MannI bought this album about two years before I saw the film Magnolia from whence it came. And even not lipsynched by William H Macy, Phillip Symour Hoffman, Jason Robards Junior and Tom No Middle Name Cruise, Wise up was absolutely stunning. If you can listen to this and at the end not want to be a better person…. Well, you deserve to go back and listen to Hello Dad I'm in Jail…
Say I Won't Be There - SpringfieldsUnarguably the most contentious one, but I love it for the final bridge. The Springfields were, I suppose, cheese personified, but they had two things going for them. The first of course was Doosty…And the second was Tom Springfield's vocal arrangements. No-one else sounded like the Springfields -- no matter how hard the Seekers tried. And no-one sang “I don't want a new lover, I just want a true lover” like the blonde beehive queen.
You Really Got Me - The KinksThe first and the best - completely accidental, I gather, on everyone's part. Ray never beat his first song, Dave never recaptured that 16-year-old hysteria in the opening riff and the ridiculous solo. Best two noises on it are (1) the first snare-drum thwack, courtesy of session drummer Bobby Graham, and (2) that cling-cling-cling piano bit by Perry Ford, who wasn't actually a pianist. He just happened to be there. Than which there's no better description of this number. It wasn't the First Hard Rock Number, or the Birth of Heavy Metal. It was itself, all on its own.
Evangeline - Emmylou Harris (and Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton)And finally…
When we say Simon is our favourite show off guitarist, here's proof - Simon lifting the roof off in a completely unauthorised recording at the Prop's and Bryan Brown's birthday bash, tearing up Gimme Some Lovin(5.42 MB, MP3)(please don't sue us...anyone). Simon was amazing. As always.
Mammal -- one of the great bands. And who remembers Tamburlaine -- we do -- there is a younger Simon seemingly about to plunge to a severe injury on one of those dodgy old NZ verandahs.
Great Top 10, my man! A big Dayglo hand please once again for the inimitable, fantastic Simon Morris!