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How cool is this song? And whose is your favourite version?

The one thing that seems so difficult to pin down about the song is its origin. Who definitively wrote the words, the chords and the melody cannot be actually be identified from the potted history presented on Wikipedia.

I plan to try and find and listen to the various recordings to make up my own mind, but perhaps, as they imply, the song developed through the ages, each new performer adding their own touches. What is evident to me just from the number of goes at it is that it’s a great and a lasting song.

The arrangement most folks probably know the best was done by the Animals, and it’s one fine piece of work, arguably the best. Although the songwriting credit and royalties go entirely to keyboardist Alan Price, according to singer Burdon, “this was simply because there was insufficient room to name all five band members on the record label, and Alan Price’s name was first alphabetically”. That version was performed by the Animals who were [at the time] Eric Burdon (vocals), Bryan Chandler (bass), Alan Price (keys), John Steel (Drums), and Hilton Valentine (guitar).

Nina Simone’s version isn’t bad either – like she could perform anything badly! And I was surprised to note she recorded her version before The Animals, too. But most surprising to me after I investigated a couple of leads from the Wikipedia article – was my own response to a very evocative version I’d never heard before. I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering this is Bob Dylan we’re talking about. It is worth a listen.

However, his fantastic performance aside, that Dylan credited himself with writing the song raises the context of questionable ethics as apparently Dave Van Ronk argued that he first wrote the altered chords we know today, and that Dylan had copied his version which Van Ronk had performed many times by the early sixties. Not knowing the details of this dispute I cannot comment but it isn’t first tale I’ve heard of Dylan “stealing” someone else’s ideas. It doesn’t change the generally accepted observation that in his own right he is one of the best songwriters we’ve ever known, but it does disappoint.

Dylan didn’t win in the money stakes on this song, though. If you ask about the publishing rights to the song itself, it is EMI Publishing, and royalties do indeed just go to Alan Price. That to me seems unfair. His organ performance on the Animals’ version was undoubtedly very very good, but there’s more to that version than the keyboards.

The House of the Rising Sun

…when we already knew how to make electric cars …

Why the f&*^ did we let this happen? [this is a rhetorical question]

New Porsche hybrid.

Anybody here using Spotify? How awesome is it!

Thought I’d put a post up for anyone who wants to share their playlist.

Mine is here.

Sod off Kraft

…just a short and sweet message from a faithful Cadbury chocolate bar eater.

I’m sure I’ve even blogged about the total godsend of the Return of the Wispa at some point, such is my love of the chocolate… no hiding the fact.

Just… bugger it, I hate to generalise, but Americans just can’t make chocolate! I went on holiday there once. Great place. But something about the use of sugar cane – or their recipe is just a bit wrong? Has anyone in the UK actually ever chosen to buy themselves Galaxy chocolate rather than being given one as a gift that was bought on special?

So, that’s it, my blog on the subject. It strikes fear and sadness into my brown chocolatey heart to contemplate a world where all the good things – the quality, the subtlety and the history deeply ingrained into the great recipes and the great trade secrets – get lost in the mire of corporate profit.

Those damned Americans, they took away my oat krunchies, now they threaten my Wispas. What next? James Bond? Oh yeah… too late.

Long live the Cadbury chocolate bar as it currently stands, and a warning to Cadbury – your brand is respected and loved for a reason. Do not succumb to greed.

The new album has arrived and is available here

Over 10 years ago Rolling Stone magazine called this artist “classy and promising”.

Comprising a selection of songs from a catalogue of over 200 written over more than 10 years, the album Early Days marks a by turns melancholy, angry, joyous, sexy, personal, pathway through love, life and fantasy biography.

With a sound very much his own, Duncan Alex covers a variety of styles within the pop/rock genre with discernable influences coming through, like scents “swimming in the breeze” [to quote the track ‘Born on the 29th’].

A final note about this album. It is entirely self-made with the exception of two guest tracks.

Duncan Alex: Early Days

You can preview the entire album for free here

Lyrics for the album are here


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