Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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More Than This – Roxy Music

For many people Roxy Music were on a downhill trajectory from start. Understandable in some ways, because that debut album, and the hit single that sat alongside it (Virginia Plain) are such extraordinary records, seemingly coming out of nowhere.

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And in those people’s eyes, Avalon, Roxy’s swansong, became the epitome of everything that they had lost – smooth, bland, featureless, a triumph of style over substance. Well, I’m not one of those people, and I see it quite differently. Yes, Bryan Ferry would appear to have spent much of the rest of his career circling around and repeating that Avalon sound, but there are worse things to repeat. And that record, Avalon, is in my mind a classic, a subtle, sophisticated record that is a world away from songs like Editions of You and All I Want Is You, and yet retains much of the mysterious DNA that marked those early records out from the crowd.

More Than This was the lead single from Avalon, and landed at a time (Spring, 1982) when Roxy’s influence over other artists had never been stronger. Both musically and aesthetically, the sounds of the early 80s were indebted to the path that Roxy had pioneered, with groups like Duran Duran, Associates, Spandau Ballet and many others from that post-punk / new romantic era openly citing Roxy as a prime influence. That the rich, sophisticated sound that Avalon inspired may have resulted in some of the more vacuous, hollow, style-first content that followed later in the decade is hardly Roxy’s fault. This was a record that was taken to the heart (and bedroom!) of many that heard it, and to my ears is one of the bands masterpieces.

So here’s the songsheet. I’m aware that there are other ukulele versions floating about out there. But they didn’t quite cut it for me. Chords are relatively straightforward, the structure is pretty standard. I’ve included the opening riff as well, which definitely enhances the song. Not much more to say, really, other than enjoy!

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O Children – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Another Nick Cave song, and another where appearances can be deceptive – a gentle but intense song that ultimately appears to be a ballad of murder and suicide.

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Yet this is the song that, despite having a moderate sized hit with Where The Wild Roses Grow, has probably had the biggest exposure of any Nick Cave song, albeit maybe unknowingly for the majority of it’s audience. O Children was first released in 2004 on Cave’s double album Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus, an album that was in effect two albums, almost flip-sides of each other – Abattoir Blues a more menacing, driving rock album, and The Lyre of Orpheus a quieter, more reflective album – elsewhere the distinction being stated much better as Abattoir Blues being “a rock & roll record… a pathos-drenched, volume-cranked rocker, full of crunch, punishment – and taste” and The Lyre of Orpheus “a much quieter, more elegant affair… more consciously restrained, its attention to craft and theatrical flair more prevalent.” O Children closes out The Lyre of Orpheus.

But it was the choice of the song to feature in a pivotal scene in the 2010 film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) that both brought a certain emotional intensity to the movie, and also brought Cave’s music to a far broader audience than he had ever been exposed to before. As this interesting article points out, the inclusion of music “from an artist whose work has been steeped in lechery, sin and redemption, characteristics [is] not necessarily associated with a holiday-season family blockbuster”. And yet it worked, and that scene, and this song, are held in great affection by many fans of Harry Potter.

And here is the songsheet. It’s a long sprawling song, so had to stretch to two pages – sorry about that. It’s a straightforward chord sequence, the rough timing of which I’ve indicated in the intro – the only trick being to delay the [D] chord at the end of the sequence (it’s only two beats). The song itself has Cave singing with a group of backing singers, and so in places the lines overlap – I’ve tried to indicate where these overlaps happen with asterisked chords – don’t play both of these chords, they are in effect the same chord, just shown twice for clarity. Enjoy!


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UkeTunes – now on Facebook

I’ve finally got around to setting up a Facebook page for this here little site. The primary aim is to have somewhere people can follow and see when there are new posts on this site. I’m not planning to duplicate anything or have any additional content on those pages – it’s just a way to post notifications of updates and links to this site.

So if you’re interested in being updated on any new content on here, then do drop by, say hello, and like or follow the page. There’s not much there at the moment, but it will grow. And I promise not to spam you!

You can find the page here.

Ian


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UkeTunes Songbooks – Edition 3

I thought it was probably about time that I updated the songbooks to include all the new songs that I’ve posted on here over the last 18 months or so. And here they are. These songbooks are by far the most downloaded things on this site, and hopefully that means they get used as well. Please feel free to onward share as well as use yourself

As with the last update, I’ve taken the opportunity to include a whole batch of songs that I’d worked on that never made onto this site as individual blog posts. So by my reckoning there are 39 new songs in here since the last edition, making a total of 152 songs in the new book. Eclectic as ever, that includes some synth classics, pop-punk by way of the 60s, a fair smattering of contemporary country-and-folk tinged songs, disco, and even a few contemporary pop hits. But more importantly just good songs (in my opinion, at least!).

These are now compiled into three books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For reference, here’s the list of all the new songs that are included in the books (those that haven’t previously published on the site are shown with a (*):

 


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Glen Campbell – RIP

Late last night came the sad but inevitable news of the death of Glen Campbell. Inevitable, as he has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the last 6 years or so. Sad because Glen was a man who’s music made the world a better place. Never one of the cool kids, perceived as being on the square side of the block (although his back-story and life might tell you otherwise), Campbell had a way with a song (and a guitar) that was unparalleled. And when paired with songwriter Jimmy Webb, they made a peerless combination.

So here, collected together, are the four Glen Campbell song sheets that I’ve published so far (I get the feeling there might be another one coming!):

And here’s a few other songs to remember him by:


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UkeTunes Songbook – The 60s and 70s

songbook60s70sWhen I published the last update to the UkeTunes songbook, there was a suggestion from Mike DiCamillo for a 1970s songbook to sit alongside the 1980s one. Seemed a good idea, so here it is.

EXCEPT. I decided to extend it to a 60s and 70s songbook – it seemed to feel like a logical thing to do, and I think those songs sit well together.

So here’s a collection of over 40 songs from that period, running the full gamut from crooning to punk, with a bit of reggae, psychedelia, country, soul, pop and rock along the way.

As ever, please feel free to onward share and use as you wish.

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Down In The Subway / What! – Soft Cell

R-490877-1235309593.jpegR-116294-1241539463.jpegBy 1984 Soft Cell were imploding in a cocktail of drugs, sex, fame and general debauchery. It had been a steep, messy and rapid decline from the heights they had achieved with the massive success of Tainted Love 3 years earlier. It was an arc that can be traced through the titles of the three albums they released during that period – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, The Art Of Falling Apart, and This Last Night In Sodom.

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To the mass consciousness, Soft Cell are Tainted Love, Tainted Love is Soft Cell, and that’s all there is too
it. Clearly things were far more complex than that, and at their heart there was always a tension between their pop sensibilities and their more outré tendancies. But throughout their career, one influence that they kept coming back to was Marc Almonds passion for Northern Soul. Northern Soul was a dance movement that emerged in the north of England in the late 1960s, that focused on black American soul music with a heavy, four-to-the-floor beat and fast tempo, strongly influenced by the sound of Tamla Motown. And the more obscure the record the better.

Tainted Love, Soft Cell’s huge breakthrough hit, was a cover of a a 1964 original by Gloria Jones (and was backed with a cover of the Motown hit Where Did Our Love Go, famoulsy segued together on the 12″ version). And they returned to that format a number of times throughout their career. In 1982 their cover of “What”, originally a 1968 recording by Judy Street, climbed to the top 5. And their final single before their dissolution, 1984s Down In The Subway, was a cover of a 1968 original by Jack Hammer.

So two song sheets for the price of one today. Down In The Subway is a pretty straightforward song – three chords, and a lot of attitude. What! is a little more complex – the rhythm is one that needs a little practice and experimentation to get right. I’ve tried to transcribe the sound as close to the Soft Cell version, including the extended outro. I’ve also included some tab to cover some of the riffs, and the solo section in the middle.

Enjoy!

<What!>  <Down In The Subway>