Friday, November 21, 2008

Beware of Random Music, Part 1

I wanted to say a little more about the Freiheit single I posted a couple of days ago. I realize that it is a little out of keeping with many of my selections as (a) it was a bona fide chart hit and (b) has been maligned over the years as a sappy and uncool record. I was under the same impression, I guess.

Enter the random wonder that is an iTunes shuffle playlist. But first, some history.

Back in 1985, I took my mum's old record player (essentially a suitcase with a stylus) and loaded about ten 7" singles to create a "playlist". Except it would jam after about three.

Back in 1988, I bought a state of the art Pioneer six disc CD player and gleefully hit the "shuffle" function, which enabled me to play Black, Johnny Hates Jazz, and China Crisis in any order. Wow.

Back in 1998, I bought a 50 CD Jukebox player that was on sale. Load up 50 CDs (most of my collection) and hit random. Play a game called "what is that? did I buy that? oh, yeah, that got a five star review, so even though I thought it was crap when I first heard it, now I appreciate the subtleties of the production, er, right?"

Now, in 2008, I access random play on my iTunes player and it digs around my hard drive for weird stuff I forgot I downloaded. Like Freiheit.

I didn't mean to download that one. It was part of a compilation that had Will To Power on it, and for some reason I wanted to hear "Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley" at 11.30 at night several months ago. I am weird.

And last Sunday, iTunes messed me up firstly by playing "Second Chance" by 38 Special, which amazingly I had never, ever, heard before (and could not figure out who it was) and then playing "Keeping The Dream Alive" afterwards. And I found I could not get the bloody song out of my head.

My memories of Freiheit are inescapably linked with Christmas, because the song was rumored to be a potential Crimbo Number 1 single in 1988, and it was included on several Christmas compilations thereafter despite having no connection to Christmas at all except a passing resemblance to Paul McCartney's "Pipes of Peace" at the start.

The band actually had a decent pedigree, being produced by Armand Volker, who worked very closely with Michael Cretu on some very well produced records of the mid 80's, such as albums by Sandra, Hubert KaH, Moti Special, and several others.

To my surprise, the song was quite unavailable on Amazon, either on compilations or on Freiheit's hit collections. And even though I was familiar with it, it seemed folks on this side of the pond had not heard it before. Hence the post.

I'm thinking that Scotland could have used it in the World Cup for inspiration instead of that Del Amitri song, "Don't Bother Parking The Jet", or whatever it was called.

While I was looking for the Freiheit version, I did find a cover by a group called Mulberry Lane. These four sisters are from Nebraska, which I had always thought sounded like a depressing place. My bad. Even though Mulberry Lane is essentially easy listening, they are also easy viewing:

Here's their cover version. You will also discover they have a new Christmas CD out so go check it out! After all, we could all use some cheer at this time of year, don't you think?

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