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March 16th, 2006

SOTD @ 10:34 pm

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Date:March 19th, 2006 02:54 am (UTC)

Oh, Lady With The Spinning Head, just how much do I love thee?

If you asked me to list U2's best ever B-sides, this would always be the first one that sprung to mind. I'll never forget the day I brought the CD home, without a clue what to expect from this song, and within seconds of hitting "play" I knew I adored it.

In her SOTD post about the Extended Dance Mix, stay_please wrote: "The intro reminds me of marbles being dropped on a hard floor. Not sure why, that's just the image it evokes, dropping glass (that bounces, not breaks) on something hard." And I agree totally with that description, it's exactly the same mental image that I've always gotten from that intro, except I wouldn't have said marbles - for me it's more like the coloured balls in the classic Spectrum game Exolon (yes, made by Hewson!), that bounce around and explode with a soft "pfff!" when you shoot them. Yeah. At any rate, the general consensus seems to be that it's a ball-scattering effect of some kind. *g*

Moving on from that, we're launched into a fantastic whirlwind of guitars and hip-shaking beats that's every bit as dizzying as the title suggests. And when the vocals come in, it turns out to be a total singalong classic, with strong melodies and Ah-ah-ah-ah's and everything!  Plus it's another one of Bono's brilliant lyrical allegories - the casual listener thinks he's just singing about a woman he's emotionally dependent upon, but pay closer attention and you find the story of a man with a gambling addiction, placing everything in the hands of Lady Luck with her "spinning head" (the roulette wheel - see also the clever "red and black" wordplay with its multiple meanings). And he even gets a subtle sex reference in there to boot! ;)  I had to grin when you brought up the Flanagan Bible quote, I *always* think of that quote when I listen to that line in the song, even though it's years since I read the book.

I love the "Mean old man took away my car..." section, especially the gravelly sound of his voice when he pronounces the word "power", and the catchy lines "I'm on top when she's around / She's my ticket out of town". But there's no denying the fact that the best part of the song is just the glorious throwaway chorus. What in this universe is more fun than singing "La-la la-la-la la-la-la la-la-la-lady with the spinning head"?  It's probably U2's daftest chorus ever, but it's utterly perfect for this song and I love them for coming up with it!  It all sounds so good with the backing vocals and everything, too. Bono's voice is slightly distorted and there's an echoey feel at times, which gives me the sensation of being totally submerged in the euphoric madness of the song.

And then there's that distinctively familiar Fly guitar solo near the end, which gives you a happy glow of recognition, like bumping into an old friend. Not to mention that amazingly Eastern / Arabic-sounding solo in the middle of the song - that's a bit special!

You can go here to read why I find the Extended Dance Mix to be inferior to the original - I think I summed it up pretty concisely in that comment. The UV1 mix is sublime just as it is; it doesn't need stringing out with long pointless instrumentals that just seem to bog it down rather than adding to the joy. The original version is compact and clean, whilst bursting with warmth and energy and playful humour. It's a song I love recommending to non-U2 fans who enjoy mainstream pop, because who the hell could fail to love this track instantly?

And best of all, it appears on the second best U2 single ever to be released (losing out to Stay only because it has half the number of tracks!), sitting alongside the amazingness that is One, the delight that is Satellite Of Love and the pure sex that is Night And Day. Now there's a single that's worth taking out of the CD rack on a regular basis!

Quite simply superb.

P.S. Don't ever be less fangirly in your SOTD posts. ;p

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