“If You Wanna” (Paul McCartney Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, one and all, to the new and improved Laptop Sessions Cover Songs Music Blog!  If you’re a regular viewer, make sure to check out the homepage of LaptopSessions.com and see our new features and new redesign.  It may not seem that different at first, but I think you’ll agree that it’s much easier to navigate, especially if you were a first-time viewer.  And, for a limited time, you can get a free mp3 download of my album, “What About Today?” by subscribing to the music blog!  That’s right- just enter your name and email address and we’ll send you new acoustic cover song music videos every week- cancel at any time, but keep the free mp3 download as our gift to you.  Sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it? 🙂

Tonight’s video will also be the last one in HD (there may be a couple of instances where I can’t get the HD camera, though).  Today, after a scare, I got our new HD video camcorder!  It’s a Canon HV10 and man, what a good deal we got on it.  I found it on eBay in Canada and paid literally a third of the price for it.  It’s basically brand-new and came with a whole bunch of accessories and extra tapes.  But, don’t go thinking I went out and bought a camera just for this- I got it to finally play back our wedding videos (which were shot in HD) and edit them onto Blu-Ray.  I can’t wait to see how it came out!  Not too many people these days gettin’ married in HD.

I’m also posting this relatively early tonight in hopes that my music partner Steve will be able to see it before he goes to bed.

Tonight’s video is a slightly obscure one from Paul McCartney from his 1997 album, Flaming Pie.  What a great album.  Steve and I played for about a half hour extra last Thursday, just going through every song on that album.  I’ve written about my love for Flaming Pie in the past (click on the Paul McCartney category in the upper left on the sidebar to see my other posts), but this is actually good timing because I haven’t recorded a McCartney song for months.  Plus, I have Steve with me, playing his usual great guitar and singing the bridge with me.

“If You Wanna” is just a good driving song- when Paul McCartney got together with Steve Miller for a writing session, he promised himself he wouldn’t write an Americana driving song….so much for that idea.  But, it was really fun recording this one- Steve and I always get so pumped after a good take.  And this one was ONE TAKE!  We had never even practiced it before!  We just went over the structure once and hit record.  Such is life when you’re running on a tight schedule.  I keep hoping for the days when we can have a lot of time to just jam and record a bunch of tunes.

Of course, you’ll see me playing our colleague Noreen’s beautiful Gibson 1967 12-string acoustic, which never sounded better.  I’m hoping she’ll let me borrow it next week so I can record a song from a sorely underrated band.  That song will usher in the “holiday” (there’s a clue) season nicely.  Speaking of the upcoming holiday, I’m incredibly excited!!  I can’t wait to finally play some video games, eat, and go shopping for someone else for a change!  We’re hoping to do the midnight madness at our local chain of outlet stores.  Don’t worry, I don’t plan on trampling anyone for a TV at Wal-Mart or anything.  We’re just looking forward to a really cool opportunity to ring in my favorite time of year: Christmastime!  You know, we’ve recorded many Christmas songs already- you should check out some of those acoustic videos by choosing the “Christmas Songs” category up top.

I hope you enjoy tonight’s collaborative effort and I’ll be back next Tuesday with an all-new video in HD for the first time!  See you then.



“Little Willow” (Paul McCartney Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Hey folks!  Today, I bring you a favorite song of the Fusco family in “Little Willow” by Paul McCartney.  “Flaming Pie” is one of my favorite all-time albums and that’s because we listened to it CONSTANTLY when it came out, during vacation, and all throughout the summer.  It always brings back fond memories and I always play the album when I take my own vacations now.

It’s fitting that I’m presenting this song today, as we’re in the midst of Tropical Storm Hanna up here in Connecticut.  Hopefully it won’t be too bad because I have a video job (taping an anniversary party) up at the Mohegan Sun casino tonight.  Should be fun, but who wants to drive an hour in a tropical storm?

So, why is it so fitting?  Well, I read in the liner notes of “Flaming Pie” (which is the booklet I modeled the booklet to my first album, “With Or Without You”, after exactly) that this song, “Little Willow”, was written to calm people after a hurricane.  It’s such a great song- so simple, but it has a great calming effect.  I thought it was a perfect one to do while outside with my nylon string guitar.

There’s also “Heaven on a Sunday” off of this album that makes me feel so calm.  I guess that’s the point of the song, but it always reminded me of a particular summer when I went to Boy Scout camp in Camp Sequassen.  That must’ve been a busy summer.  No wonder I remember this album so well!  Anyway, I used to get to fish off of a row boat there.  Having “Heaven on a Sunday” (“cooling my fingers in the bay…”) stuck in my head while peacefully fishing was a zen-like experience.  I think of that moment and it takes me right back there.

On another topic, how about Jeff with his Beatles cover yesterday?  And Chris doing Hendrix?  Amazing, folks- you never know what you’re going to get next on this music video blog- the BEST music video blog in the universe!  Starting in a couple weeks, we’ll be bringing you yet another “New Bands Week” here on the Sessions because we love to challenge ourselves and entertain you.

I’ll be making a couple of BIG announcements in the next few minutes here on the music blog, so stay tuned and for now, enjoy today’s music video!



The Weekend Review: February 2012 Report

Go Fly A Kite (Ben Kweller)

Released: February 7, 2012

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “Jealous Girl” & “Mean to Me”

When I saw Ben Kweller open for the Barenaked Ladies a couple years ago, I was floored by this performer who managed to blend a wide variety of influences and crossed the genre lines while maintaining a coherent, high adrenaline rock show.  For months afterward, as I picked up his albums, I struggled and largely failed to find anything to match what I had experienced live.  Now, with Go Fly A Kite, Kweller has finally recorded an album that properly expresses all his strengths, alternating between electric rockers and softer acoustic tracks, all the while maintaining a power pop energy that works to his strengths.  Mainstream music critics will largely ignore this album.  Nicholas Moffitt of VZ Magazine went so far as to call it “likeable,” but not before qualifying even this statement with “fans of Kweller and power pop.”  Is Go Fly A Kite the next great rock album?  I’m not arguing that, but it is one of the few albums in recent memory that relies only upon instrumentation and vocals for its energy.  There are no computer tricks employed here: only good, old-fashioned human performance.  There isn’t a clunker in the bunch, and the track listing steadily unfolds larger ideas and themes (not to mention the diorama-style CD packaging, which is one of the most imaginative I’ve seen).  Forget Moffitt’s qualification: if you’re a fan of rock and upbeat, energetic music, Ben Kweller’s latest is a must-hear.

 

 

 

Kisses on the Bottom (Paul McCartney)

Producer: Tommy LiPuma

Released: February 7, 2012

Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “My Valentine” & “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”

A confession before I commence: I’m admittedly predisposed to a bad taste in the mouth upon hearing a well-established artist has decided to record an album of covers.  (I know, I know: I write reviews predominantly for a cover songs music video blog.  But, to be fair, we post them for free and for practice in between our regularly-scheduled albums of originals.)  A brief history of just a few of the cover albums that should compel a roll of the eyes: Michael McDonald’s Motown (2003) and the following year’s oh-so-creatively titled Motown Two, all five volumes of Rod Stewart’s The Great American Songbook series (2002-2005, 2010), and perhaps the most disappointing fall into the valley of covers: Eric Clapton’s Me and Mr. Johnson, a follow-up to 2001’s excellent Reptile album, followed in 2010 by a disappointing album of covers – Clapton – masquerading as his latest solo album.  So, when it comes to albums of this ilk, I approach with caution.  In this case, it is not so much that McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom is a bad album.  It clearly is a very well-thought-out, passionately rendered record.  And yet, on the heels of a string of masterful solo releases – Chaos & Creation in the Backyard (2005) and Memory Almost Full (2007) being probably the best of his career – this collection of traditional pop could do little else than fall short after five years without a new McCartney album.  For what they are, the songs are really done quite well.  It is clear from interviews with McCartney and his producer Tommy LiPuma that this was a labor of love, and it was even revealed that he held off on this project out of desire to avoid any allegations of jumping on the covers train (he even referenced Stewart’s Songbook series).  In the end, the clear standout is “My Valentine,” which just so happens to be one of two McCartney originals on the record.  Coincidence?  I think not.  He has referenced his next album as being along the same vein as the Foo Fighters’ analog, garage rock Wasting Light (2011), so I and others like me can rest easy on that.

 

 

 

Deep Space [EP] (Eisley)

Producer: Eisley

Released: February 14, 2012

Rating:  2.5 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “Lights Out” & “Laugh It Off”

This pretty much fits the archetype of the EP: not bad, not great, just a little something to fill the silence between records.  If you enjoyed last year’s outstanding The Valley, then you’ll most likely enjoy Deep Space [EP].  Or, you could save yourself the five bucks and return to The Valley for more songs and a more fulfilling experience.

 

 

 

 

Sounds from Nowheresville (The Ting Tings)

Producer: Jules De Martino

Released: February 24, 2012

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “Hang It Up” & “Guggenheim”

Don’t let the modern production qualities fool you: there is more here than the extensive list of “engineers” and “mixers” in the credits would have you believe.  The critics have called the Ting Tings out for this and any number of other criticisms: the album is too short, too frivolous, inane, etc.  What they have missed – and what most tracks on Sounds from Nowheresville have to offer – is energy and ambition, subtle touches in the harmonies beyond what is more readily apparent in the synthesized sounds, not to mention the centrality of Katie White’s guitar (yes, that is a real instrument in the mix and it is the female lead singer playing it; if only for that, I have reason to respect this album).  “Hit Me Down Sonny” and “Hang It Up” are as bright, cool, and catchy as you would expect, and yet other tracks like the passionately delivered “Guggenheim” and the tender, acoustic-based “Day to Day” and “Help” express the range the band has to offer.  While this is definitely not a development I would have expected, I have to admit that the Ting Tings have put out one of what will probably be the best albums of the year.

 

 

 

Rooms Filled With Light (Fanfarlo)

Released: February 28, 2012

Rating:  3.5 / 5 stars

Top Two Tracks: “Shiny Things” & “Lenslife”

On Rooms Filled With Light, Fanfarlo have done a nice job of bringing a certain bright quality to the domain of oft-introspective synthesized music.  Aside from channeling a bit too much Ric Ocasek in his vocals at times, Simon Balthazar and company have recorded and sequenced a cohesive and purposeful record that boasts elements of artistic intention while maintaining pop-ready hooks, riffs, and overall production quality.

The BEST COVER SONGS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

By Chris Moore:

What better way to kick off a Monday at the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video blog than to unveil the Weekend Review’s picks for the top ten cover songs of 2011.  After all, this is kind of our thing.  And this has been a busy year for covers.  Not only were there two – not one, but two! – collections of Buddy Holly covers released as tribute to the legendary singer/songwriter in 2011, but there were also two covers EPs put out by Relient K.  This is not to mention Brian Wilson digging back to his childhood (farther back than the Gershwin brothers this time) for the inspiration to In the Key of Disney.

A regular amount of covers wasn’t enough for 2011.  No, no: 2011 needed more covers!  Now, as you’ll recall from our mission statement, it has always been the goal of this blog to put an end to the proliferation of bad covers on YouTube.  In keeping with that tradition, we will now take the time to recognize these non-YouTube covers that have demonstrated excellence this year, standing out from the pack of mediocre (or worse) ones:

1)  “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” – Cee Lo Green (Cover of Buddy Holly)

2)  “Caroline No” – America (Cover of the Beach Boys)

3)  “Here Comes My Girl” – Relient K (Cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

4)  “Colors of the Wind” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

5)  “Baby” – Relient K (Cover of Justin Bieber)

6)  “Not Fade Away” – Florence and the Machine (Cover of Buddy Holly)

7)  “Interstate Love Song” – Relient K (Cover of Stone Temple Pilots)

8)  “It’s So Easy” – Paul McCartney (Cover of Buddy Holly)

9)  “Listen to Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of Buddy Holly)

10) “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Brian Wilson (Cover of the Disney song)

 

Honorable Mention:

“Surf Wax America” – Relient K (Cover of Weezer)