/Tuesday Ten /531 /Shake It Off

Back to regular programming – and hopefully weekly posts again – as of this week, as July looks like it might be that little bit calmer than June was. But then, I think I said that before…

/Tuesday Ten /531 /Shake It Off

/Subject /Shake, Shaking
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/161 /Used Prior/3 /Unique Songs/112 /People Suggesting/74
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/42:13

Anyway. This week, things are shaking. That is, literally and metaphorically in song this week, as use of the word shake can vary enormously, and I ended up with a real mix of artists and across time, too: songs this week date from between 1954 and 2021.

Thanks, as always, to the large number of people that took time to offer another excellent selection of songs for consideration this week.

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).

/Taylor Swift
/Shake It Off

We are, of course, starting with the obvious this week. By no means the most suggested song this week (that honour goes to The Cure), this song though remains a phenomenon, a decade on from release. A monster hit at the time, and the point where Taylor Swift moved from being a crossover country-pop star to a straight up pop behemoth (evidenced more recently by demand for her tour in the US overwhelming Ticketmaster’s systems in volumes never before seen – nearly a decade on her success just keeps on going). It was also something of a clapback to those negative comments about her style, music, and dancing – the latter of which is hilariously sent up in the video – as she just shakes off those detractors, and leaves them in her wake.

It was also one of the key breakthrough tracks in the early days of Lip Sync Battle, when Dwayne Johnson did his thing.

Released a decade before was Outkast‘s Hey Ya!, a song that similarly became a cultural touchstone (“shake it like a polaroid picture” – even though you shouldn’t shake them…), and has also been on Lip Sync Battle, when John Legend enlisted none other than Stevie Wonder to assist.

/Depeche Mode
/Shake The Disease
/The Singles 81-85

For a long, long time, my favourite DM song, this non-album track is a plea for acceptance, at least of sorts. Amid what is a slower-paced rhythm – and the darkness that they’d become associated with is now fully-fledged by this point – Dave Gahan brings a soulful vocal and delivery to Martin Gore’s measured words. Here, it’s an interesting take on social anxiety and fear of saying the wrong thing, or anything at all, as the protagonist can’t “shake” the fear of doing so. Quite how this glorious song was little more than a minor hit, and a footnote in the band’s output, is mystifying to me.

/Bill Haley & His Comets
/Shake, Rattle & Roll

Originally recorded by Big Joe Turner – and a Billboard R&B Number One in 1954, a sign of the quick turnover of the time is that Bill Haley recorded his cover within weeks and was in the Top Forty of the Billboard charts proper for over six months. Bill Haley was one of the first stars of the Rock’n’Roll era in the mid-50s, and the songs he and his band had hits with have become enduring icons of the era.

The shake, though, appears to come from ragtime songs popularised decades before in New Orleans, about gambling on dice…

As for songs that encouraged dancing – and dance crazes – another song suggested for this was Shake A Tail Feather by Ray Charles, which got a(another) lease of life thanks to a memorable scene in The Blues Brothers.

/The Cure
/Shake Dog Shake
/The Top

The most suggested song by some distance this week is the opening track to The Cure’s 1984 album The Top, an album of theirs that I’m not particularly familiar at all. The glowering, bass-heavy lurch of this song immediately sets it out as one of the band’s more aggressive songs, as Robert Smith provides a song of druggy paranoia, shaking off the paranoia and self-loathing of the past to become someone else.

/Earth Loop Recall
/Wake Up Shaking

While I’ve featured the successor band this is radio silence on a number of occasions, this is the first time I’ve featured Earth Loop Recall. Both bands have a similar feel in many ways – industrial rock filtered through shoegaze and a deep sense of melancholy. Wake Up Shaking has the feel of the middle of the night, when you wake from a nightmare and have absolutely no fucking idea where you are, and what’s going on. Snippets of distorted, treated vocals murmur in the mix, while the music rolls and breaks like the tide coming in.

/Machines of Loving Grace

As I’ve noted before in great detail on /The Rearview Mirror /006, MOLG were something of a band that passed many people by in the 1990s, and their rediscovery hasn’t been helped by the difficulty of finding their music online until recently (it took until a year or two back until their albums appeared on streaming services).

While the other albums were not exactly happy affairs, Concentration stands above the others for just how much seething hatred was spat by Scott Benzel in pretty much every song. Shake is probably the track where they leaned the most into funk influences – it has a hell of a groove – but any joy in the song is pretty much wrung out by the searing fury aimed at record labels ready to squeeze every last drop out of the band, only enhanced by the inclusion of a Jim Roche rant used in the marvellous Slacker.

/Dead Can Dance
/The Wind That Shakes The Barley
/Into the Labyrinth

Lisa Gerrard’s vocal performance on this take on this Irish folk song is frankly extraordinary, for much of it barely adorned by instrumentation. It’s a powerful song telling of the loss and waste of life in war and uprising in Ireland, originally written about the 1798 Irish rebellion and echoing down the decades since as Ireland finally gained independence in the twentieth century: a struggle centuries in the making.

/Peter Gabriel & Youssou N’Dour
/Shaking The Tree
/Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats

It was only this week – having known this song since it was released in 1990 – that I discovered that this is not the original version of this track, it having been released the year before by Youssou N’Dour on his own album The Lion (and Peter Gabriel did surprisingly little with it, aside from pushing his vocals to the fore, rather than deep in the mix as they were originally). Youssou N’Dour features prominently in this version, at least, on a song that celebrates women as they “shake the tree” (i.e. rising up to action and cause a reaction). Sadly the celebration of women attaining equality was perhaps premature, as thirty-three years later, it still seems a distant goal.

/Shaking Hands

In my quarter-century of a working life, I’ve seen entire sessions dedicated to telling you how to shake hands properly. I’ve been told not to be too “weak”, not to be too “strong”, to make eye contact, to be forceful. Even the act of not shaking hands – as Elina Svitolina has made clear at Wimbledon this week in (rightly) refusing to do so with any Russian or Belarussian opponents – can take an entirely new dimension of deliberate disrespect.

Tunic also dislike the act, judging on the two minutes of hardcore bile here, but then, their general dislike of everyone and anything on all their songs should have made that clear long since.

/Alien Weaponry
/Rū Ana Te Whenua

The young New Zealand-based band Alien Weaponry initially gained attention for not only being so youthful, but also because all three members had Māori ancestry – not a common source of metal bands. As it turned out, they are a phenomenal band that are using their roots to create something inspirational and fascinating, and in this early single, teaching us a bit of history, too.

The title translates to “The earth trembles”, or thereabouts, and honours their forebears involved in the Tauranga Campaign against the British (including Lewis and Henry de Jong’s great-great-great-grandfather, who fought and died in battle), which initially at least inflicted a devastating defeat on the British invaders.

Played loud enough, too, it should indeed make your floor shake, as this is a monstrous track.

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