Gerry Rafferty - "Baker Street"

By 1978, Gerry Rafferty emerged from 5 years of record company litigation and his previous hit with Stealer’s Wheel (one of his former bands) “Stuck in The Middle With You” a distant memory. With producer Hugh Murphy he began work on this solo album, "City To City". Rafferty : "I knew I'd written a good bunch of songs so I called Hugh and we started recording. I remember thinking I'd be pleased if "City to City" sold 50,000 copies". It sold five and a half million.
Central to its success was the song “Baker Street” (Baker Street is a real street in London, Rafferty often stayed with a friend who lived there). Rafferty and his label felt it was too enigmatic and reticent to be a single but a groundswell of radio play, producing a huge surge of public interest, changed their minds. The reason ? That saxophone riff, certainly the most memorable sax intro of all time [or is it George Michael's "Careless Whisper" ?].
Urban legend has the riff being performed by British actor and TV quizmaster Bob Holness. In reality the solo was performed by top sessioneer Raphel ‘Raff’ Ravenscroft (who has played on records by Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Abba, Alvin Lee and many others). But Ravenscroft's line was not actually written by him. Rafferty wrote the song with an instrumental break, but didn't have a specific instrument in mind. Hugh Murphy, who produced the track, suggested a saxophone, so they brought in Ravenscroft to play it.
The publisher and the record company couldn't have been happier about the success of the song and subsequently, the album. Everyone concerned was thrilled, until it became clear that Rafferty, who had a reclusive and iconoclastic streak, was not going to tour America to support the album. The album, which hit No. 1, might've gone double-platinum had Rafferty toured.
Available on the album "City To City"


Nick Drake - "Pink moon"

After two albums of orchestrated folk-pop, Nick Drake chose a radical change for what turned out to be his final album (he died of an overdose of antidepressants two years later). Not even half-an-hour long, with 11 short songs and no more — he famously remarked at the time that he had no more to record — it's simply Drake and Drake alone on vocals and acoustic guitar. Drake recorded them unaccompanied, in the presence of only a sound engineer, in two two-hour sessions, both starting at midnight. Only later was a piano overdubbed on the title track.
After recording the album, Drake dropped off the master tapes at the front desk of Island Records' office building and then swore he was retiring from performing music, planning to train to be a computer programmer and possibly write songs for others to perform. The master tapes layed on a secretary's desk over the weekend and were not noticed until later the next week.
"Pink Moon", the song, was eventually used in a Volkswagen commercial nearly 30 years later, one of life's many ironies, in that such an affecting song could turn up in such a strange context.
Available on the album also called "Pink Moon"


Britney Spears - "Someday (I will understand)"

Britney Spears says that she wrote the tune, which refers to her imminent motherhood, two weeks before she realised that she was pregnant. Spears : "I wrote this song at my piano, at my house. I wrote it two weeks before I found out that I was pregnant, so it was really kind of weird, because the song's about having a baby... and it's something that I'd been dreaming about for a while. It's kind of like a prophecy".
[thank you No Rock&Roll Fun ! http://xrrf.blogspot.com/]
Available... on internet I believe ? Does anyone know, actually ?


Oasis - "Lyla"

According to Noel Gallagher, "Lyla" is Oasis' "poppiest thing since "Roll With It". Annoyingly catchy and sounds a bit like The Who". It may be poppy, but Noel has also admitted to not being particularly fond of the song, saying that it isn’t "even the fifth best track on the album". Then why release it as a single ?
Well, the song had existed as a demo since the early recording sessions for the album but was all but forgotten until practically the last minute. The British band had indeed spent over a year working on their troubled sixth studio disc, during which time they scrapped recorded tracks and fired producers (they wrote 66 tracks). The Mancunian rockers suffered a similar trauma when they sat down to choose their first single. Noel : "It was almost an afterthought. We were sat around going, 'It's a good album but we don't have a first single.' There was nothing obvious". Noel remembered the song while on holiday and rather than lose it decided, with the rest of the band, to bring it out as a single.
The song leaked on the internet during late March 2005, weeks before its May release date, after an unauthorised early airing on Polish radio station Radiowej Trójce.
Noel has revealed that the Lyla in the song is actually the sister of the Sally mentioned in the Oasis song "Don't Look Back in Anger".
When performing on the UK music chart show Top of the Pops, Liam Gallagher, who was forced to mime to the music, made no secret of that fact, walking away from the microphone with his mouth closed mid-way through lines that he was supposedly singing.
Available on the album "Don't Believe The Truth"


The Beach Boys - "Barbara Ann"

"Barbara Ann" was not written by The Beach Boys.
The song wasn't even intended to be a recorded release in the first place.
Indeed, the Beach Boys had a contract obligation to release one more album within a certain time frame. Brian Wilson had already started producing "Pet Sounds" but had to put that aside for a while to meet this obligation. However, he didn't want to spend one minute on this more than necessary, hence the "Party" album idea : the Beach Boys simply decided to through a party at the studio (Mike Love went across the street to pick up some beer) and then simply recorded whatever they felt like singing. Jan and Dead (a then quite famous group) happened to stop by and got invited to join the party. They had previously recorded "Barbara Ann" and Dean suggested they sing that they sing it together, which they did. You can hear them partying in the background, one guy yells, "Pass me an ashtry" and you can hear a girl hollering, "Come on". The guy who was singing lead was actually Dean and not one of the Beach Boys.
On the uncut version, the Beach Boys keep repeating the chorus over and over, getting sillier and sillier (maybe the beer had started kicking in), and one can also hear a "Thanks Dean" shout, thanking him for suggesting they sing the song.
Available on the album "Beach Boys Party"


Phil Collins - "In the air tonight"

There has been a rumor about the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” that Collins had a childhood friend drown and that there was a guy that could have saved his friend but didn’t (Eminem talks about this urban myth in his song "Stan"). The story and all variations thereof are completely false : Collins actually wrote this about the anger he felt after divorcing his first wife, Andrea, in 1979. This was Collins' first single as a solo artist and all the original songs on his first solo album were intended to be "messages" to his former wife in an attempt to lure her back to him.
As for the song's writing, Collins began working on the drums, found a rhythm he liked, then added some chords on the keyboard that sounded good, and the words just came to him.
The main feature in the song is the drums' sound. They come in half way through the song, setting the template for all the 80's drum songs after that. They sound quite artificial, but they were not produced by a drum machine, but by Phil on his drum kit. Hugh Padgham (producer) used a technique called gated-reverb to produce Collins's trademark drum sound. Usually, drums continue to reverberate after they've been hit. In this case, this reverberation is cut short – it extends beyond the end of that first drum sound (stick hitting skin) but then it abruptly stops.
The song appeared on Phil Collins' first solo album and, as it sold more than any prior Genesis release, prompted the group to change musical direction.
Available on the album "Face Value"


Blink 182 - "I miss you"

This is a rare acoustic song by Blink 182. And it sounds a lot like The Cure's "Love cats". Tom Delonge (guitars and vocals) explains : "I'm a really big Cure fan, and one day I was listening to their song called 'Love Cats', and I loved the idea of using a stand up double bass [it's a viola and not a member of the guitar family] and jazz brushes. So what we ended up doing was writing a song with all acoustic."
Travis Barker (drums) indeed used jazz brushes to create the scratching sound throughout the song. But bungalo sticks, and regular drum sticks wera also used. And there was also an orchestra for the background effect and there was a three man choir for the choirs.
What's ironic is that the album on which appears "I miss you" includes guest vocals by The Cure's singer Robert Smith... but on the track "All of this".
Available on the untitled album


Marvin Gaye - "What's going on"

Until this, Marvin Gaye rarely participated in the songwriting process. For the first time, he took control of the production so he could make a statement as an artist. Motown (the record label) hated the idea, but Gaye was an established star and had enough power to pull it off. And he pulled it off indeed.
Mel Farr and Lem Barney were acquaintances Gaye had made during his failed 1970 tryout for the football team the Detroit Lions. Mel Farr : "One day after Lem, Marvin and I played golf, we went back to Marvin's house on Outer Drive in Detroit. We'd hit the ball especially good that day and we were all feeling good, sitting around and kibitzing, when I said, 'Hey, what's going on?' Marvin said, 'You know, that'd be a hip title for a song. I think I'll write it for the Originals.'" Gaye started fooling at the piano and, when Renaldo "Obie" Benson of the Four Tops and songwriter Al Cleveland dropped by to see him the next day, he was still fooling with it.
In truth, Marvin didn't initiate the music himself, the title just being a start for a song. As was often the case, he relied on others to help him break his frequent writer's block. Benson and Clevland wrote an initial rough version of the song, which Gaye took and collaborated with them to finish. When the song was completed, Gaye planned to produce it as a single for The Originals, but Benson and Clevland convinced Gaye to record it himself.
On the finished track, a party can be heard going on in the background, from which Gaye's voice is purposefully detached. Gaye had Barney and Farr, amongst others, singing background. Later on, Motown convinced Gaye to re-record "What's Going On" with a group of professional background singers. But it didn't sound as natural as the original, and Gaye kept the first version.
The song "What's going on" was completed before the rest of the album was finished. Motown chief Berry Gordy tried to block the release of the single, deeming it "uncommercial", but after Gaye threatened to cease recording, Gordy reluctantly relented. "What's Going On" proved to be a substantial commercial hit.
Notably for this record, Gaye sang both lead and background vocals himself, essentially creating what is now recognized as modern-day multitracking. The process had been used for many years to give parts of a recording extra strength, but Gaye took it one step further and sung each of his vocal passes in various harmony parts, creating an ethereal sound that became his trademark.
Available on the album also called "What's Going On"


Meredith Brooks - "Bitch"

In many interviews, Meredith Brooks has stated that "Bitch" almost never made it on the album, but a friend loaned her the money to help record the song.
In this song, Brooks tries to perform semantic realignment to change the world's perception of the word "bitch", by celebrating the strong qualities traditionally denigrated by the use of the term. The song starts from a depressing place ("I hate the world today") and carries the listener to a very happy state ("I wouldn't want it any other way").
The song has a drum machine rhythm with a guitar accompaniment. It uses guitar riffs to emphasize the word "bitch" throughout the chorus of the song.
Initially, some radio stations preferred not to mention the name of the song and would instead refer to it as "a song by Meredith Brooks". However, with the climbing popularity of the song, its name became more commonplace to announce on the air. When the song first hit the airwaves, most call-in listeners believed the song was by Alanis Morissette due to the recent success of Morissette in rock music at the time.
Several music retailers were also upset with Brooks for using the "b-word" in the song. They insisted that the "b-word" be removed from the single's packaging... Brooks responded by saying that according to the dictionary, the "b-word" is not a bad word. Bitch is actually a noun meaning "female dog".
Despite numerous attempts, Brooks hasn't managed to repeat the same popularity and commercial success as "Bitch". For this, she is commonly seen as a one-hit wonder.
During the shootout for the video, the producer's bitch (in this case = female dog !) got sick for a week after eating catered leftovers on the set.
Available on the album "Blurring The Edges"