It’s Written In The StarsJune 16, 2012
It’s Written In The Stars was a Simon Dine-orchestrated piece of 21st century mod-pop, all sampled horns, chugging guitars and stuttering Beatles ending that Paul Weller managed to drag into the Top 10, the one shining light on the ironically-titled Illumination album. In the desperate hope that it might be a return to form, Weller fans’ll buy anything he’s done, hence the Top 10 success of the single and the Number 1 achievement of the LP. But that doesn’t mean they’re all good. It’s Written In The Stars should’ve probably been included in the Weller post below, but fell outwith the criteria set by not being on any of the last 3 LPs in the Weller canon.
Anyway. It’s Written In The Stars. A modern idiom, a fancy phrase for ‘fate’. Think of it what you will. Celestial intervention that brings two people together. Unseen influences that affect the supposed outcome of a situation. Cosmic forces that align at just the right moment. I’m thinking 18th March 2012. You’ll have your own ideas, I’m sure.
Born Under A Bad Sign was written by Booker T and William Bell in 1967 and is now something of a (yaaaawn) blues standard. You may be familiar with Albert King‘s stinging Stax original, or Cream‘s rollicking version a couple of years later. Perhaps you know it in mind-melting space-blues style from the posthumous Jimi Hendrix ‘Blues‘ album. Or maybe you grew up listening to your Dad playing Rita Coolidge’s surprisingly soulful 1971 take on events. Her version reminds me a wee bit of the Taggart theme tune. Google it if you’re not from the West of Scotland….
But I digress. I honestly find hoary old blues standards a great big bore. All that widdling about on the guitar, 25 lightning-slick notes when 4′ll do doesn’t really do much for me. Luckily, Born Under A Bad Sign also happens to be a track by everybody’s favourite modern-day retro guitar man, Richard Hawley. My blues-fearing heart skipped a beat when I first read the tracklist of 2006′s Coles Corner, an album that on first play had so much pathos and introspection seeping from every gilt-edged chord change I couldn’t believe Hawley would go and spoil it all by letting rip on something so pub rock. Panic over! As the descending guitar riff and glockenspiels kicked it off, and Hawley began channelling his inner Duane Eddy I could rest easy. Not a blues standard at all, but a brilliantly crooned piece of art. With real depth to the sound of it all, this track and the rest of the Coles Corner album deserves to be heard through good old-fashioned big fuck-off hi-fi speakers. Not yer bog standard iPod excuse for a set of headphones. Not yer in-built laptop speakers. Not even on the speakers I have attached to my PC, and they’re actually pretty decent. Nope. Proper music should be heard on proper speakers. But you knew that already.
The ying to Richard Hawley’s yang, Born Under A Good Sign is a track you can find on Teenage Fanclub‘s Man-Made album. I’ll be honest with you here as well. Teenage Fanclub are just about my favourite band on the planet but I never really ‘got’ Man-Made. Too downbeat. Too introspective. Muddy production. Not enough of those trademark 3 part harmonies and chiming guitars. There are some good moments on it, just not enough great ones. Don’t shoot me – it’s not my fault the band have set their own ludicrously high standards. But one of the great moments, not just on this album, but in the whole TFC ouvre is Born Under A Good Sign. A breathlessly frantic knee-trembler of a record, it was written by Gerry Love long before he mellowed out (Mellow Doubt, hey!) and recorded 2012′s Album Of The Year with his Lightships. All garage fuzz guitars and looping 2 chord verses, it comes across like a fast version of Patti Smith’s Dancin’ Barefoot, until the acid-fried solo kicks in and it begins to sound like something Love might’ve recorded around the time of Da Capo. Truly a 2 minute thing of beauty, it would force a three-way photo-finish along with Sparky’s Dream and Radio in a sprint to the end. Born Under A Good Sign also deserves to be heard through the best speakers you can find. Maybe I should take this approach and try listening to Man-Made again.
While I’m doing so, I might even read Gerry’s ‘6 Of The Best‘ once again. I urge you to do likewise.