Sunday, March 18, 2012

Underworld - Peter Loveday

The other day old Pantypal Peter Loveday sent me a link to a music video he'd recently made. It's called Underworld and it's marvellous. But don't take my usual dodgy word for it, go see and hear for yourself. Why review when you can preview! Well, I say that but do check below when you're done seeing and hearing because there is a bit of a story there...

In my wild enthusiasm, I offered to write a blog post and spread the glee. I emailed Peter to send me the mp3 file because our crap internet service wasn't exactly creating ideal listening conditions. Mount Larrikin is apparently in the way of something vital that would enable a 4-minute song to actually play out in four minutes rather than stop every ten or so seconds to catch its breath. And then something really embarrassing happened. Peter reminded me in his diplomatic reply that this song is on an album he sent me a couple of years back. Oops.

Naturally, I popped straight over to Food for the Brain and took their 15-minute test for dementia. No joy there. Perhaps it's actually dimentia I have.

Only partially daunted, I hunted out the CD in question, Moving Along from 2006. This is a fine collection of songs, which I'd not listened to for a while but had remembered fondly. You know how it is. We've all seen Toy Story. I put the CD on and concentrated intently for the first couple of songs and then I started drawing pictures and, while still enjoying, my focus had shifted to my own activity. This is not unusual. I always listen to music when I'm drawing but my consciousness of it quickly becomes subliminal.

Before I knew it, the CD had finished. Mmm, I thought. So, I cut straight to Underworld, which is placed at number ten in a collection of twelve tunes. I played it. It sounded good. I didn't quite get the same buzz as I'd got watching the video though.

This morning, I made myself wake up at 6am. In our little corner of the world, this is far and away the best time to view a YouTube video. I watched Underworld. Buzz. I watched it again. Zing. Mmm, I thought, etching a mental note not to make a habit of thinking hard before breakfast too often.

I thought about it for several hours. Quite a bit of that time was spent desperately trying to figure out a way to appear less stupid to my long-time friend. And then it struck me. Zeitgeist. Boy, that zeitgeist packs a punch when it sneaks up on you. But, even I know you just can't pull zeitgeist out of a hat and call it a white rabbit.

So, I busied myself on research of a very non-scientific nature, i.e. the type that supports whatever hypothesis you are positing. Because, dear friends, I was positing for all I was worth. I had come up with a theory. My theory is three-fold. Firstly, I think Underworld might be a song whose moment in time has come. This strand of my theory is easily evidenced. I submit, courtesy of Songfacts, this list of tunes who belligerently slept through their first release and then shone when given a second life. Quite a few classics in there - and who could believe the likes of Gangsta's Paradise would need a redux to get noticed?

One that isn't mentioned is River Deep Mountain High. That's right. The Ike and Tina Turner perennial failed to bud in its first spring. Interestingly, to me at least, Underworld invokes that very song with the inverted couplet,

It's all magnificent when I sleep,
mountain high, river deep.

Maybe it's an omen.

The second part of my theory has to do with the positioning of the song on Moving Along. I don't think there's anything wrong with the arrangement of these songs. There are twelve, distinctly individual songs, and some of them will end up nearer the end than the beginning. Thinking about it, the CD format advantages concept albums far more than it does collections. Your old vinyl LP required you to get up and spin the disc over, giving the songs on side two second-act status. Tracks at the rear end of a long CD have a hard row to hoe.

Some songs don't like siblings, especially if they're show-offy ones. I submit in evidence, courtesy of Yahoo! this list of quiet achievers who hurled themselves to stardom from the ignominy of B-side relegation. Suffice to say that Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock was a B-side.

Underworld seems to me a song not entirely happy to be a pea in a very long pod. It doesn't stand out in this collection as anything exceptional and I'm sure its writer didn't intend it to. Admittedly, this is the shakiest strand of my theory. Forgive me for going a bit Toy Story II on you. Prepare yourselves for a strong finish...

For the last thirty years the pop song has had a unique opportunity. It can make itself seen as well as heard. Some tunes are natural companions for visuals. And now, this combination is a desirable product in itself and an art form in its own right. Underworld has a strong, driving pulse and a generous tonal palette - qualities perfect for a short film.

Underworld has cut itself a lucky break. Its composer, Peter Loveday, is also an artist of exceptional vision and skill. I've known him for about thirty-five years now and he's always had that in spades. Declaration of interest - I'd rather hoped Peter would become famous for his art as Galleria Pants has quite a few original Lovedays in its collection.

The third strand in my theory is that the animation of it has propelled this solid song into a higher league altogether and given it a whole new life. Very Toy Story III. It's a tune made for YouTube times. Now, all that remains is for it to get noticed. Over to you...