Tag Archives: the kinks

Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

7 Years ago today the late, great Elliott Smith died. There is still some debate as to whether he committed suicide or not. But that’s another matter altogether. This post is to celebrate the life of Smith and the never ending legacy that he left behind.


I’m a huge fan of his songwriting skills and voice but i’m simply in awe of the raw emotion he could pluck and strum out of 6 simple guitar strings. There are only a handful of people in this universe of ours who can somehow make me feel the way i do when i listen to Elliott Smith tracks. His albums aren’t ones that i listen to when i’m company of friends. No, Elliott Smith is best experienced alone and dare i say it when you’re feeling down. If you know his back story and the struggles he went through then you’ll know what i mean. The words he sings, the way he sings them, the guitar he strums and the way he strums it can inspire anyone, no matter how down you are, to find that little extra bit of strength to pull through the darkest of times.

He was and still is an inspirational figure to myself and many my friends but it’s not just us who love him…….

His songs have been covered by a wide variety of artists and through a huge spectrum of genres. Here’s a select few.

MP3: Metric – Between The Bars (Elliott Smith Cover)

MP3: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Ballad Of Big Nothing (Elliott Smith cover)

MP3: My Vitriol – Bottle Up And Explode (Elliott Smith cover)

MP3: Jump Clubb – Angeles (Elliott Smith cover)

He wasn’t adverse to performing and recording a few covers as well….

MP3: Elliott Smith – Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks cover)

MP3: Elliott Smith – Supersonic (Oasis cover)

MP3: Elliott Smith – Thirteen (Big Star cover)

On the 1st of November, Domino Records release a best of Elliott Smith CD  simply entitled “An Introduction To……Elliott Smith”. The tracklisting is pretty flawless. Elliott Smith isn’t the easiest person to make a best of compilation for as he has so many songs that are worthy of making the cut but the album has been whittled down to 14 tracks from this supremely talented and gifted artist.


MP3: Elliott Smith – Miss Misery

MP3: Elliott Smith – Twilight

One of my favourite tracks that didn’t make the best of compilation is “Amity” from the XO album.

MP3: Elliott Smith – Amity


Live he was a phenomenal force. Quiet yet loud. Happy yet sad.  Weak yet somehow strong. All the while very shy and  very endearing.

You can download a live Elliott Smith set from Stockholm in 1998 here.

Here’s the setlist:

1. Angeles
2. Division Day
3. Clementine
4. Alameda
5. Between the Bars
6. Pictures of Me
7. Waltz #2
8. Rose Parade
9. Some Song
10. Say Yes
11. Needle in the Hay
12. Roman Candle
13. Independence Day
14. Speed Trials
15. 2:45 AM
16. No Name #1
17. Thirteen

I’ve never seen him live in the flesh but i’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos and this one in particular gives me chills every time. You feel like he’s in the room alongside you playing for only you.

All that’s left to say is..


…and Goodbye.

S.I.T Wolf  XO

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Recycling?

Musical plagiarism or just influence?

This is a subject i’ve wanted to write about for a long time now but i’ve only just found the time to get down to it tonight. The song that made me decide to finally commit to this post was Owl City’s “Fireflies”. I heard it on the radio at work and although i find myself humming along to its undoubted catchiness i still can’t get the fact that he’s ripped off The Postal Service out my head. First time i heard it i actually thought it was a new Postal Service song. He even makes himself sound like Ben Gibbard through extensive autotuner and compression use. Yet i had to laugh when i read an interview with him in which he stated that he had only ever really heard a few Postal Service songs before and that they hadn’t really “caught his ear”.

Here’s the section:

“I’ve become more of a fan (of The Postal Service)  having started Owl City, actually. I had some friends in high school that would have it playing in their cars and stuff. It was cool, but it never really caught my ear. It’s kind of ironic, looking back at it, because a lot of people do relate the two projects. I can totally see it now, but I didn’t really then, for what it’s worth.”

Hmmm…..sorry Owl City but i get a pungent waft of bullshit when i read that.

VIDEO: Owl City – Fireflies

VIDEO: The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

But i’m not picking on or singling out Adam Young for being influenced by The Postal Service. All i’m saying, all i’m asking is how does it come across? Is it plagiarism or coincidental influence/inspiration?

Some of my favourite bands have been hugely influenced by others to the point of almost sounding like them so i’m not saying it’s a bad thing, don’t get the wrong idea. Interpol clearly listened to Joy Divison. A Place To Bury Strangers obviously owned some My Bloody Valentine records. Josh Homme grew up with Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Boards of Canada have heard Brian Eno. I could go on. Put it this way if there was no Jesus and Mary Chain there’d be no BRMC and if it wasn’t for The Cramps or The Birthday Party i’d imagine Eighties Matchbox would sound a bit different. So it is a GOOD thing to be influenced.

MP3: Jesus and Mary Chain – Degenerate

MP3: Black Rebel Motorcylce Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll

MP3: The Birthday Party – Release The Bats

MP3: Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Morning Has Broken

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the hardest things to do in music is create a truly original sound. There’s that much music around that it’s nearly impossible to create a song that cannot be compared to another band or another song. Personally i feel that bands are now labelled as “the new insert famous band name here” too much, there’s nothing wrong with comparisons but it get’s a bit boring when every week some new band are being labelled as the new Sex Pistols, the new Oasis, the new Green Day or the new Babylon Zoo. Ok, forget that last one. In fact forget them all, i’m not a fan of any of the bands i mentioned, they’re just the first famous-ish ones that popped up. I have in fact been guilty of labelling bands once or twice myself to be honest. On this very blog actually, i believe i said Japandroids could be the new Death From Above 1979 but i did state that i also don’t like labelling bands.

“….Make no mistake, these guys have the potential to be the new Death From Above 1979. Although to be honest i don’t like comparing bands to each other, it’s not fair on either so instead i’ll just say the Japandroids sound like they might be influenced by DFA and it’s a badge they seem to wear with pride.”

But that’s going slightly off subject. This is about the plagiarism/influence debate not labelling bands. So back to it, here’s a few examples of apparent plagiarism. Some are obvious, some are slightly similar.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs Love and Rockets

The Accused: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

The Original: Love and Rockets – No New Tale To Tell

Hockey vs anything by Tom Petty (this was a suggestion by Emma)

The Accused: Hockey – Song Away

The Original: Tom Petty in general

Elastica vs Wire

The Accused: Elastica – Connection

The Original: Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

Green Day vs The Kinks

The Accused: Green Day – Warning

The Original: The Kinks – Picturebook

Nirvana vs Killing Joke vs The Damned

The Accused: Nirvana – Come As You Are

The Other Accused: Killing Joke – Eighties

The Original: The Damned – Life Goes On

Couldn’t find an embeddable (is that a word Kempy?) video for this one so here’s the MP3

MP3: The Damned – Life Goes On

So it can be everything from drum beats to chord progression and rhythms to vocal delivery, it’s more or less all been done before by someone somewhere. That’s not to say there’s nothing original left but it is does make for a good debate on similarity, comparisons and the old age debate of a blatant rip off. And what does it tell us about music today? Has it really all been done? Or is that unknown chord still out there waiting to be found?

I mean, bands take influences on board, of course they do. If you grow up listening to certain music and then you yourself begin to play music, of course you’re going to have taken something from the music you love. The chances are that the band you love and are influenced by have themselves been influenced by someone else. It’s an endless line of influence, a knock on effect, a domino effect, musical dominoes if you like.

I only discovered about three years ago that what i thought was part of one of the best Queens of the Stone Age drum intros ever is in fact copied straight from a Black Flag song. One of the opening drum segments of “Song For The Dead” and the intro to “Slip It In” are pretty much identical. Queens of the Stone Age actually came out and stated that the intro to “Song For The Dead” is in fact an homage to Black Flag. All together now….Awwwww, bless.

MP3: Queens of the Stone Age – A Song for the Dead

MP3: Black Flag – Slip It In

I, myself have questioned what i come up with when writing tracks or making music. I constantly find that i tell myself “oh you can’t have that at the breakdown bit, it sounds too much like QOTSA” or “you can’t use that intro, it sounds like a Mogwai rip off”. Just the other week i wrote a song that i thought sounded too much like something Boards of Canada would compose, i kept it in mind anyway and called it “Bored Of Canada”. It sounds a little bit like this one by the reclusive legends…

MP3: Boards Of Canada – Julie and Candy

So the whole thing i’m getting it here with this post is..

When does influence become plagiarism? Or does it all? Is it mere coincidence?

It’s a subject that is and always will be open to debate.

Opinions welcome.

Also, feel free to leave any other songs you believe to be plagiarised. I’d like to here what others think.

S.I.T Wolf X

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