Tuesday Ten: 208: Money Money Money

After a mainly awful day at work today, it has been a useful reminder of why, really, I work: money.

Spotify_Icon_RGB_Green Spotify
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It was only when the idea popped into my head the other week that I realised I’ve made quite an oversight in not having thought about doing this subject before – especially when I looked a bit closer at my music collection and realised I had an awful lot of options, once again. Other suggestions welcome, as always.

A Screw (Holy Money)
Holy Money

The Holy Money EP had something of a theme amid the searing, brutal intensity of the music. With titles including Time Is Money (Bastard), Money Is Flesh, Blackmail and this track, the angry statement being made – or more bludgeoning listeners with extremely big sticks – was hard to miss. It’s also interesting to compare the vicious sound of early-period Swans with the epic soundscapes of the current incarnation, and it’s still clearly the same band, just maybe older and wiser, and more focussed.

Anyway, this track was thrillingly reinvented by ∆AIMON a few years back into a ripping electronic symphony, with demonic, treated vocals and a production that that took no prisoners. In other words, exactly what you should be doing with a Swans track if you’re going to do it justice. In addition, the video – featuring cut-up imagery and samples of TV evangelists – did an even better job than Swans of getting the message across: the coming together of religion and money rarely leaves a pleasant taste.

Material Girl
Like A Virgin

Like many of Madonna’s songs during the eighties, she was way ahead of the curve on this one – with what in hindsight appears to be an amazing swipe at eighties materialism. All she wants is her lover to keep showering her with gifts, each bigger and better than the last, and if he won’t, she’ll just find someone else to do so. A glittering example of Madonna at the peak of her powers in the mid-80s, the power of this track was enhanced by the glorious video where she becomes Marilyn Monroe for four minutes and looks *amazing*.

Attack of the Grey Lantern

Riffing on the Beatles, Donny Osmond and a few others – and having fun trashing them all – this was one of the brighter tracks on an album that much like the follow-up Six, in lesser hands would have sunk under the weight of ideas and pretensions. An electronically-assisted beat, multi-tracked vocals, sampled harps, it is a song epic in scope and length. And that is before the money-obsessed characters in the lyrics are detailed in a less-than-flattering light. The video fits the theme nicely, too, where the band took £25,000 in cash, and filmed commuters all scrambling for the money at Liverpool Street station as the video crew threw it onto the concourse. The choice of station in the heart of the Financial district of London was, I suspect, deliberate.

Be My Enemy
Money Is Your God
The Enemy Within

In amongst the seething, rampaging industrial of the new album, Phil Barry gets in quite a few lyrical kicks at the current political climate, including this blistering attack on those who are making money at the expense of many others. A thumping beat, buzzing guitars, and gang vocals for the chorus. “make some money / buy more stuff / raise your status / raise your class…worship celebrities / shallowness and greed”. Almost like a conceptual pairing with They Live. “CONSUME“, “CONFORM”, “THIS IS YOUR GOD”:


KMFDM have dipped into political comment across their thirty-year career, ripping into the system with some venom at points. One of their most cutting moments was this, the title track from their 1992 album that is in my opinion one of their more uneven albums. It’s not far off redeemed purely by this and Vogue, though. Money takes a familiar refrain (One for the money, two for the show, which is apparently an awful lot older than I thought), and appends a brutal stab at (US) public school funding cuts, low-paid jobs, how crime can pay more, and for those with money laws don’t always apply…

Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Got Your Money
Nigga Please

Many, many rappers have written songs boasting about money and wealth, either how much they have or how much they want to have. But none were quite as brilliant as this, nor as honest, perhaps – ODB finding perhaps unconventional means to make his money, and having no real issue with showing it off. But then, sadly, ODB’s issues with money – he fathered thirteen children, apparently, and spent some time dealing with issues over child support, not to mention many other dealings with the authorities – overshadowed much of his often really off-kilter music. His defining moment will remain this song, though, that has huge, shiny hooks hanging off it like a rapper wears jewellery. Not many others saw a backing vocalist (Kelis) gatecrash the party and become a star herself as a result, either…

The Flying Lizards
The Flying Lizards

One thing I didn’t know about this song – it was the very first hit for Motown in its original form, and then became a Beatles hit, and then this – a curiously deadpan, catchy-as-all-hell new-wave hit. All versions share the same theme, of course – money money money is the aim, no care for love, gifts, or anything else. Cold hard cash, baby.

The Wonder Stuff
It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby
The Eight Legged Groove Machine

Trust one of indie’s greatest gobshites, Miles Hunt, to only deliver a message of brutal honesty. As the chorus refrain goes, “forget your heart / it’s your bank I wanna break“, and the money-grabbing message seems totally at home in late-80s, Thatcherite Britain – 1988, when this was released, saw a period of the British Economy doing well, for some, at least, with the Poll Tax riots and recession in the following years still not in sight. Twenty-six years on, and it all seems naggingly familar again….

Transvision Vamp
I Want Your Love
Pop Art

While Wendy James really, really doesn’t want your money. She only wants love. Well, I guess the band’s pop/punk crossover made for a hell of an appeal, and probably made them a fair bit of cash, too. Like many other bands in the 80s, though, they had a fairly short shelf-life so I guess the money eventually ran out. Except for bassist Dave Parsons, who went on to be the bassist in derided “post-grunge” band Bush, who of course cleaned up in the US after barely seeing any success in the UK at first…

Dolly Parton
9 to 5
9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

Finally, money has to be made somehow. And for one group of office-working women in the US in the seventies, the fact that they were working for less pay than their male colleagues was something to fight about – the fact that the organisation still exists and is continuing the fight is hardly a good sign for equality. This wasn’t – and isn’t – a grab for money. It was a fight for a fair wage, a fight that inspired the hit comedy film and this song, the lead song from it.

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