Song of the Day – “Love Is the Answer” – Utopia

Todd Rundgren has always been a loner, going into the studio and overdubbing track after track of himself. But for a while, he fronted an actual group named Utopia. But the tracks they cut still sounded like Rundgren – just listen to this classic track from 1977’s Oops! Wrong Planet.

iPhoneography Apps – Big Lens

One of the first things that even a beginning photographer learns is that you can concentrate attention on a certain part of the picture in a number of ways. The first way is to literally draw focus to your subject by making it the only “in focus” part of the picture. This can be done “in camera” by adjusting the aperture. The smaller the aperture (the higher the f-stop number), the more depth of field you’ll have, until everything in is in focus. If you open the aperture (make the f-stop number smaller), then you’ll have a smaller depth of field, and the parts of the picture other than your subject are thrown out of focus.

Smartphone cameras have little in the way of an adjustable aperture, so a whole class of apps has grown up that will put parts of your picture out of focus, thus concentrating emphasis on your subject. One of these is Big Lens, by Reallusion.

Big Lens Splash

The first thing you have to keep in mind is that this app will NOT make your photos look as though you actually took them with a small aperture. The demarcation between “in focus” and “out of focus” will not be sharp. Also, those parts of your picture that are out of focus are all the same amount of out of focus. So you can’t have a flower in the foreground in focus, a flower a foot away partially in focus, and the forest behind way out of focus. Even with these drawbacks, there’s a lot to like about the results you can get with Big Lens.

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Song of the Day – “New Music” Wednesday – “Ayla” – The Maccabees

A South London five-piece that released their first CD in 2007. This is from their critically-acclaimed 2011 release, Given to the Wild.

I like the way the video uses changes in color to signify the build in the song.

Song of the Day – “Name’s the same” Tuesday – “Wrapping Paper”

Cream

This Jack Bruce-penned song is so unlike anything else Cream did – but I love it all the same.

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Graham Parker

Graham Parker was known as an “angry young man” – so it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising that there’s vitriol even in this love song.

Sometimes I feel the kick has gone, it gets mundane
So I team up with the devil and make hell
But I’ll hang on in as long as I know I’ve got you
As long as I know love’s a cure that makes me well

Song of the Day – “Do You Love Me” – The Contours

Work! Work!

It wasn’t until I got the fabulous box set of Motown classics Hitsville USA that I found out that not only were The Contours an early Motown act, but their 1962 classic “Do You Love Me” was composed by Berry Gordy.

Their raucous style did not fit in with the smooth crossover acts that typified the Motown sound, and they were never cultivated like the rest of the acts.

Song of the Day – “I Want to Vanish” – June Tabor

June Tabor is a British folk singer who has been plying her trade since the seventies. Here she interprets one of Elvis Costello’s most beautiful melodies. From 1994’s Against the Streams.

Song of the Day – “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” – Looking Glass

When you spend a lot of time with someone – like, say the 29 years that have passed since I met my wife – then you have a shorthand of phrases that come from popular culture. We are forever quoting Raising Arizona or Arthur or This Is Spinal Tap – or songs like this one. Why should we be saying “My life, my love and my lady is the sea” or she “wears a braided chain made of finest silver from the north of Spain”? Who knows?

Looking Glass was a Jersey band that had a number one hit with this song. As is the story with many one-hit wonders, their hit was the song that sounded the least like them. A year or so later, they had a minor hit with another song that sounded less like them, “Jimmy Loves Mary Anne”. Then they gave up.