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June 29, 2008

Point, counterpoint, set, match
Posted by Patrick at 11:16 PM *

Via Crooked Timber: the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain perform David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” and, simultaneously, pretty much everything else.

Comments on Point, counterpoint, set, match:
#1 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 11:59 PM:

Lovely! Thanks for the link!

#2 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 01:02 AM:

For your spelling references: "ukulele." I know because I, heh, got it wrong. "Uke" is a misleading abbrev.

But yeah, so far what I've seen of the uke orch is that they never do just one thing at a time.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 01:06 AM:

They've got a concert DVD titled Anarchy in the Ukulele.

#4 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 01:27 AM:

Wow. They're amazing. I was even more engaged by this one: Fly Me of the Handel

#5 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 01:43 AM:

This is just to say that the alien LOLcat in your sidebar has killed me ded. *happy sighz*

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 02:09 AM:

If you want to hear spectacular ukulele from a soloist, look up Jake Shimabukuro on YouTube. He's a Hawai'i player (website) who's amazing with that instrument. Flashy, fast and jazzy or slow and soft, he's someone to hear.

#7 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 02:32 AM:

I agree about Jake Shimabukuro. I particularly recommend his cover of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". I don't know what it is (tighter stringing?), but he seems to extract a lot more precision from the instrument than I'm used to hearing.

#8 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 02:37 AM:

There was an excellent BBC Radio 4 documentary about them last week - it's probably still available on Listen Again. I can particularly recommend their version of Wuthering Heights.

#9 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 04:55 AM:

I really, really, really needed just this kind of lift today. Thank you.

#10 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:01 AM:

Heh. I heard them play "Silver Dream Machine" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the Edinburgh Festival a few years back. By the way, there is an MP3 selection and a concert DVD at their site.

#11 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 07:18 AM:

OH man. That...that was fantastic.
Thanks.

I love out of the blue arrangements of stuff ( a la the Gourds Bluegrass version of Gin and Juice--a high recommendation.) Beautiful.

#12 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 08:16 AM:

Ukulele players rock.

(If you google, you can find me misspelling it, too.)

#13 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Nick Brooke at # 10 writes:

> Heh. I heard them play "Silver Dream Machine" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at the Edinburgh Festival a few years back.

Nick - do you perhaps mean "Silver Machine", the old Hawkwind hippie space rock classic? Or is "Silver Dream Machine" a song I don't know.

I'd heard quite a while ago that they'd covered "Silver Machine", but I've never managed to get a listen to it, by fair means or foul. I'd kill to hear it.

btw - there's heaps of UkOGB on YouTube, and they're even better to watch than to listen to. It's hard to decide whether the live version of Wuthering Heights or the cover of The Good the Bad and the Ugly is the best thing ever recorded. Or maybe "Fly Me Off The Handel". Tricky...

#14 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:01 AM:

> Or is "Silver Dream Machine" a song I don't know.

Silver Dream Machine

#15 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Spelling fixed--thank you, Kip.

#16 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:23 AM:

Steve@#13: Correct, my lyrical flub -- "Silver Machine" by Hawkwind it was.

#17 ::: JimR ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Holy Schnikeys...
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, = Win.

I think I love these guys...

#18 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Then you would probably enjoy the Spaghetti Western Orchestra's appropriately reverential live peformances. (They were also at Edinburgh a few years back, at the same time as the Ukes -- what culture!)

#20 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 12:14 PM:

After watching the BBC series I can't hear the song without crying.

#21 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 12:15 PM:

I ♥ the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. And like earlier commenters, I am surprised that our hosts weren't listing already. Me? Ahead of the crowd?
And Jake Shimabukuro? I like him best without a band...

#22 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 12:21 PM:

And, I'm pretty sure, at least in the Central Park version of My Guitar Gently Weeps, he has his uke strung with metal strings. His undoubtedly custom instrument is setup with a very precise action, too.

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 02:19 PM:

Jake's opening for and playing with Jimmy Buffet this summer (again), so if you're a Parrothead you might get a double treat.

#24 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Here's a version of "Life on Mars" by the Flaming Lips— I particularly like how the vocals are sung into a guitar pickup, giving it this weird transmission quality.

#25 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 05:19 PM:

By far the best cover of "Life on Mars" is the Barbara Streisand one. Just kidding, it's the Peter Noone one.

OK, just kidding again, but they did both really sing it.

#26 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:04 AM:

Anybody who covers the Rezillos ("My Baby Does Good Sculptures") is jake with me.

#27 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 08:44 AM:

I hadn't known, prior to this week, any of the tangled historical links between "Life on Mars" and "My Way". It's such a weirdly complex world.

#28 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:05 PM:

My #25 is an embarrassing mistake. I meant "Oh! You Pretty Things", not "Life on Mars". I feel shame.

#29 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 12:08 PM:

...and, as usual, correcting an embarrassing mistake has led to a new one. I meant to say that Barbara Streisand did cover "Life on Mars", but Peter Noone covered "Oh! You Pretty Things". I'm going back to bed.

#30 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 05:31 AM:

Is there anyone else whose brain is irresistably compelled to mash up Bowie with the Doors? "Come on baby, life on Mars."

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