DeadSplinter Up! All Night: Excess

Too much is just about right

I quite like things overdone. When an artist has finished that perfect painting and then says, “It needs a lot more orange, and a bunch more trees over here”, that is the artistic spirit I appreciate. Restraint and minimalism are all fine in their proper time and place, but it’s the visionary who sees the infinite canvas and decides to hold nothing back that inspires me most. You can call it bad taste if you want, but it wasn’t restraint that put a man on the moon and then had the genius to get Stanley Kubrick to film it. When I first conceived this DUAN theme (about thirty seconds ago), I was thinking specifically about music that is gloriously overproduced, but really that’s too narrow. I want the music that is just way too much. Songs about excess. Done excessively. Times two.

The first example that came to mind was from the absolutely ridiculous notion that The Ramones needed crazed domestic killer Phil Spector to produce their music. Here’s this stripped-down quartet that was known bare-metal 2 minute songs and they’re going to get the poster boy for over-the-top drench it in strings, three pianos, and timpani production. Amazingly, it worked to perfection and captured the very romantic essence of Ramones. They’d come a long way from “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”.

There’s something about Wilco taking a simple, beautiful song and drowning it in tons of studio sludge and then giving it an aimless 4-minute coda that says something wonderful about the human longing for more on top of more.

Tom Jones, who is one of my personal shower-singing favorites, really knew how to sell a song. But he takes this song by Italian composer Carlo Donida Labati, gets lyrics written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (of Jailhouse Rock fame) and then oversells the shit out of it to the point where you actually fear for his emotional wellbeing. I love this masterpiece.

I wasn’t going to include “Somewhere” by P.J. Proby, thinking that it was just too much, but too much is what this DUAN is about, so here you go. I absolutely do not understand what he’s doing with his pronunciation and accent. And he is absolutely sincere. It sounds like Elvis on acid after dental surgery and I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to replicate this sound myself in the shower. Usually, it causes my wife to knock on the bathroom door to see if I’ve had a stroke or something. The fact that they edited in black and white footage of girls screaming is just a bonus.

I’m not usually a Bon Jovi person, leaving that solemn responsibility to other, better Deadsplinterers. But you know you’re going over the top when you put the lead singer and the guitarist in wire harnesses and swing them over the hormonal crowd like some sort of poofy-haired Jersey piñatas. The excess of this song makes it one of those hair-rock songs that holds up and can still get you singing along and doing rock poses while stuck in rush hour traffic on I-80 even though when it came out it represented everything you hated about pop music. It’s grown on me and it’s kind of glorious. I like to pretend I’m in a training montage where I’m getting my life together when I listen to it.

Finally, I want to include this bit of Petula Clark fluff from an era when it seemed like every trivial little pop ditty had to be given the Wagnerian orchestra treatment. Yeah, it’s way over-produced, and the first 35 seconds are almost tasteful, but then all hell breaks loose. Mostly I’m including it because I really like the record and I can do my Northern Soul stomp dance to the bompier bits.

Hey, thanks all you good people for letting me do these self-indulgent DUANs. I can never get too much of you all.



  1. ive never really grasped the concept of excess…..or better put…as i lack the ability for in moderation….excess doesnt exist…..theres only not quite enough yet….right up until the point you od and die

    so…i’ll just aim for a satisfactory amount of awesome….and try not to think of ways i could make it more

  2. Traditional Wall of Sound production by Johnny Franz

    The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore


    Robin Guthrie’s updated style

    Lush – Nothing Natural


  3. This song is the perfect Pain song for me.  You can tell the writer is a music teacher, it is like a symphony.  Not too many ska/punk songs have violins and french horns in unison.


  4. I like to pretend I’m in a training montage where I’m getting my life together when I listen to it.

    I LOL’d at that. Anyway, when I think of excess…

    Van Halen – Panama

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