Rod Stewart was probably at his best during his earlier solo albums, which integrated traditional instruments like mandolin and violin with classic rock (and when he still had the Faces to kick him in the tail). Tricky Dick Powell's wistful violin belies the more nonchalant vocals in You Wear it Well.
I hope regular contributor LeaveItAllBehind will forgive me for posting the studio version of this tune, because for my money Jack White and The Raconteurs hit the spot with rock and fiddle integration on Old Enough as well as Rod did with You Wear it Well back in his day. Dirk (not Rod's Tricky Dick) Powell on fiddle. Leavey posted their gorgeous indeed bluegrass version, which is more about Ricky Scaggs's mandolin than Mark Watrous's fiddle.
Charles Burnham's exquisite violin weaves around James Blood Ulmer's guitar and lyrics in the neo-swampy Are You Glad to Be in America? I dunno, are we? Should we be? Are we supposed to be? If we're not, why not? Where else are we going to go? Still trying to work these things out 35 years later.
It's a good thing that some information on the Killer Blues Band was provided with the nomination, because I couldn't find anything else on the interwebs. Except that electric violinist Perry Leandro is available to play for weddings. This is what it's all about as a working musician these days. Pay the rent, do a gig at BB King now and again, and play a killer cover of Black Cat Bone in basements in my much [and quite fairly – ed.] maligned home state of New Jersey. And you though we started and ended with Brucie.
Don't be fooled by the amateurish fairground sound of No Looking, based on a poem by Jacques Prévert. The Raincoats' Vicky Aspinall, who joined the band by answering an ad for "female musician wanted: no style but strength", is a classically trained violinist.
This really had to be here, didn't it? The Tide is High has got to be one of the sweetest and earwormist reggae tunes ever. The Paragons' original features “White Rum" Raymond on violin, who was apparently known to play with a piece of steel when he didn't have a bow.
How much fun fiddler Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson must have had writing tunes like Doctor of Physick, presumably after Chaucer's, who's looking for a different sort of gold to steal in this exquisite little gem by Fairport Convention.
Classically trained violinist Gary Posey was a soloist with the Utah Symphony, served a stint in the army, and then landed in the SF Bay area and joined It's A Beautiful Day. White Bird was their big hit, unique in its multiple layers of violin overdubs. Posey changed his name to David LaFlamme so as not to jeopardise his symphony orchestra reputation. Doesn't look like he ever went back to it though, he still tours with It's a Beautiful Day, and has a side career as a character actor playing “The Annoying Fiddler”.
Ooh, tinkly bells! If you think we're really getting into twee territory now, guess again. Those bells are joined by Simon House's middle-eastern flavoured violin and some very welcome power chords on Hawkwind's Hassan I Sabbah, which protests middle eastern oil, the opium trade, and Palestinian terror. 40 years later, we're still there …
Such sweet fiddle on the beautiful Ciel d'Automne, an original composition from Quebec-based La Bottine Souriente (The Smiling Boot – when the front sole separates from the body of a workboot), who specialise in French-Canadian folk and have expanded outward to incorporate international influences.
Unfortunately I can't state with any confidence who the actual fiddler is. They've been around since 1976, have more than one fiddler, change members often and collaborate frequently.
Mahavishnu Orchestra's Open Country Joy is a stealth little tune that starts out with rainbows, sunshine, flowers and Jerry Goodman's violin. Then blindsides you as the blotter kicks in and all the colours melt. Quickly as it started, it's back to the bucolics with a bluegrassy fiddle, and maybe the interlude never actually happened anyway. Glorious.
So you're part of the last generation of traditional musicians trained at the feet of the masters, and tasked with keeping the culture and music alive and growing for subsequent generations. How to do it in a digital age? If you're sean-nos singer Iarla O Lionáird, you find a place on Peter Gabriel's World Music label. If you're Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, you recruit O Lionáird, a couple of Americans and a second fiddler (hardanger fiddler Caoimhín O Raghallaigh) to form the supergroup The Gloaming. Hayes had never even cared for The Sailor's Bonnet until he started to teach it. The Gloaming slows down the traditional reels to find the music in the ancient tunes.
"It's good! awfully emotional! too emotional, but I love it." So said Edward Elgar about his Violin Concerto. It gained immediate popular success, only to fall out of fashion in the middle of the last century, and to be restored again towards the end. Prodigy Nigel Kennedy made his recording debut playing it in 1984, and returned after dabbling in many other projects to perform in again in 2008. He apparently has a unique personality and presentation, which at best is one more tool to bring attention to the music and keep it alive for another generation.
Appoggiatura A-list playlist
Rod Stewart – You Wear It Well
The Raconteurs – Old Enough
James Blood Ulmer – Are You Glad to Be in America?
Killer Blues Band – Black Cat Bone
The Raincoats – No Looking
The Paragons – The Tide is High
Fairport Convention – Doctor of Physick
It's A Beautiful Day – White Bird
Hawkwind – Hassan I Sabbha
La Bottine Souriante - Ciel d'Automne
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Open Country Joy
The Gloaming – The Sailor's Bonnet
Edward Elgar (Nigel Kennedy) - "Violin Concerto" Elgar (2nd Movement)
Bow and Bridge B-list Playlist
dEUS – Suds and Soda
Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter
String Driven Machine – The Machine That Cried
Roxy Music – End of the Line
Tindersticks – Raindrops
Marianne Faithfull – Crazy Love
Peter Hammill – Amnesiac
Levellers – The Game
UK Subs – Drunken Sailor
The Triffids – Jesus Calling
Karen Dalton – Katie Cruel
Houndog – No Chance
Dixie Chicks – Take Me Away
Iva Bittová & Vladimir Václavek - Sto Let
Classical / Instrumentals Bonus Playlist:
Given the topic, there were an awful lot of great instrumentals, and I still don't have a formula for integrating them properly in the lists. I could only put so many on the A-list, and I gave it up on the B. Don't want those who put up so many of them to feel hard done by, so here's a list of some instrumentals for any who are interested.
Guru's Wildcard Picks:
Seatrain – Out Where the Hills
Criminally neglected and forgotten hippie folk psych prog band from my grade school days, powered by Richard Greene's luminous fiddle. (Yep, they did an Orange Blossom Special too.) Fun fact – this was the first album George Martin produced after the Fabs.
Laurie Anderson – Pieces and Parts
Some tunes with better violin maybe on Life on a String – it's harrowing on Slip Away. But this one is just so pretty. And I like the story.
Wu-Tang Clan – Reunited
Not a sample. RZA had an epiphany and came to believe in keeping musicians employed. It's Israeli hip hop violinist Mira Ben-Ari here, also used by Kanye West and Jay Z, among others.
Bonus Classical Pick:
Maxim Vengerov – Jules Massenet: Meditation from "Thais"
A recent performance of this “... hung in the air like a pure span of rose gold”, as it was described by one of our critics. Not yet online, but this one is with the Russian Symphony Orchestra. Worth a listen.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: We're on the fiddle: songs and music featuring the violin. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.