What were the most popular of Jeff Duff’s youtubes and vimeos over the last month?
The Duff Rover has been at work again, collating these statistics, including the number of extra views-per-tube from November to December.
Here are links to the Top 20, in order of extra views (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) and then some stats:
Although Duff’s performance in the ’70s of Easy Street on the Paul Hogan Show is—with more than 64,000 views—far and away the most popular overall, the biggest increase across all Duff ‘tubes was for his performance of Easy Street on Mornings with Kerrie-Anne (Channel 9, Australia); almost doubling in views (albeit from a much smaller base of about 400 at the start of November). There was also a 67% increase in views of the live performance of this song by Duff with The Grand Wazoo.
Most of these Top 20 vids were of Duff/Kush originals and/or single releases: not only performances of Easy Street, but also a couple versions of Walk on the wildside, and his MacArthur Park on the Ray Martin Midday Show. Each of these had more than 300 extra views over the past month.
Also popular were Duff’s TV performances in the UK (on the Old Grey Whistle Test) and Germany of singles from his first solo album—Give me back my brain, and Tower of madness—as well as the title-tracks from his two most recent solo albums: Walking on eggshells and Fragile spaceman.
Performances by Duff of Bowie songs were not as popular as performances of his own songs. Only three performances of Bowie material made it into this Top 20.
Even looking at the next top 20, most of the videos were of Duff’s own songs, Kush songs, or signature covers—but performances of Bowie songs generally had no more than two more views each from November to December. This is surprising given the run of Duff-Bowie shows of late: It seems that a lot of people get interested in seeing more Duff-does-Duff after seeing his Bowie shows than seeing more Duff-does-Bowie (albeit there are more Duff-does-Bowie tubes out there, and so the views for them are more dispersed).
Most of these vids also make up the all-time greatest number of views, led, as usual, by Easy Street on the Paul Hogan Show, followed by Stairway to Heaven on the ABC, the Take a walk on the wildside video, and MacArthur Park on the Midday Show; and then including, at #5, a live performance of Someone like you (Van Morrison cover). Total views across 237 Duff videos (including duplicates) was close to 360,000 at the start of December.
So: is a Jeff Duff originals-only show timely?
More Duff tubes here.
Duff whips up musos and patrons all at once into romantic froffin ecstasy as he style-cuts, like Eddie Scissorhands, the finest sculptural turf out of his very own classic MacArthur Park. As recorded at The Grand Wazoo Gig, Caravan Music Club, Aug 2013 – thanks to john montesante bands.
On top of that hat, let’s also present JD doing MacArthur Park on the Ray Martin Show, from circa 1992, as recently highlighted on his facebook. When a popular artist held his own at the front of a symphony orchestra, on live TV. The truth was told in the following eloquent intro from the mainman of Oz TV at the time, Ray Martin:
"All right, I’m told by anyone who knows anything about music that it takes a brave man to attempt this next song. MacArthur Park is one of the most challenging ballads ever penned. But Jeff Duff has always thrived on a challenge. So now, with the Midday Show Orchestra, would you please welcome the very brave Jeff Duff and MacArthur Park …!?" – Ray Martin
Neat comments that followed JD’s showing of this clip on his FB included:
Get’s me all teary. You do the best version ever.
Hey Jeff, which year was that? Nice job Jeff Duff. Hi Freny, I think it was 1992.
Also lately on his FB, JD shared the following hot info:
I’ve attempted so many Jimmy Webb songs, I’m sure that I’ve had a bash at Paper Cup. In the past I’ve played quite a few Jimmy Webb nites with my orchestra featuring guest singers, including one of your comrades, Robyn Dunne. I think I’ve recorded MacArthur Park half a dozen times and fortunate enough to have had a hit with it in the seventies. I wish I’d written the song! I’m going to post a version I was lucky enough to perform with Sydney Symphony on the Midday show in 1991… ouch!
Yet another rendition to please – from the State Theatre, Sydney, 2013: Duff with Chris E. Thomas, a whole dance spectacular:
… and not to forget “Storylines”, Newtown, Sydney, 2011 (4,547 views as of posting):
A cake left out in the rain. A cake with green icing. But is that lime or avocado? And being pressed in love’s hot-fevered iron, as the cake melts, is just tolerable as an image, but as for lovers like a “striped pair of pants” …? What on earth is it about MacArthur Park that makes it, since the 1970s, one of Jeff Duff’s most recognized tracks – and most requested live performance covers?
Duff first recorded MacArthur Park with Kush, on their 1974 Warner album "Snow White and the Eight Straights" (the best version still on record? for its historical associations as much as the all-band commitment at the time? its bar-by-bar surprises as well as keeness?), and it was released as a single in 1975 (b/w Klue). A live recording of it is on offer on the Aztec (now Sandman) Records re-release of the second "Nah tellus …" Kush album (1975/2008) (celesta and folkish guitar licks for intro, horns soon blazing, much room for a voice that goes from sentimental to rocky in a flash, thoughtful and wayward by a phrase, as the band quietly mixes pretty wind and percussion, ahead of creating a pounding, full-throttled push to the climaxes; all appended with some punkish patter by Duff). Unique recordings by Duff of the song can be found on the first (self-titled) "Jeff Duff Orchestra" album (1989) (true-to-the-MS piano intro, deep-throated and breathy vocals, soft-pedalled rhythm and a smooth, sure orchestral approach to the climaxes), and on the Jeff Duff Band album "Lost in the Stars" (2005) (chunkier piano, electro-string/-guitar and percussive highlights, some trickled-down rhythms for folksiness, and slightly lighter but more plaintive voice, always climaxing in bold stupendousness, rocking even like Bowie’s epic Width of a Circle). The song (as per JDO) also appears on the 2-CD Jeff Duff compilation album "Martian Girls are Easy".
Tubes of Duff doing the song live are plentiful. There’s the Sydney Opera House performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKeP9okuWq8. There’s the performance of JD fronting the Ed Wilson Big Band in a Tom Jones show:
Why it’s so challenging can be picked up from just the first page of the score. First off, you notice how the bass is tonally split from the harmony, pressing out a minor seventh, or the dominant, against the “flat” or minor chords – hence the somewhat airy “la la” feel, but with melancholia never too far gone, even almost fundamentally resolved; pretty unusual for popular songs (even in Bacharach, although Bowie uses the technique on several Never let me down tracks, and on Absolute beginners).
Still complicating the musical picture, we’ve then got a couple changes of metre before the singer comes in, a switch from 4/4 to 2/4 for a bar (ok, like Bowie does throughout Soul love), and then a switch from 4/4 to 3/4 and then to 3/8 … for a quickly arresting climax … right ahead of the voice coming in with the lyric/melody – which has to quickly shift to a feel all about softly defiant nostalgia, angst-in-pleasure, surreal reminiscence … And then, in just the two opening melody bars, the voice has to avoid (in part) the time it kept the first time around. Pleasant novelty for the listener, but for the musicians, spot-learning’s not enough, there’s uncertainty about every next bar, a potential abyss to rise from bar-by-bar. … All in a day’s work for the Duff … and hopefully all appreciated by orchestra players as an expressive challenge. As its composer Jim Webb recently wrote (in an interview with The Guardian), he was challenged “to create a pop song with classical elements, different movements and changing time signatures,” and came up with MacArthur Park, “more of a suite than a song.” Webb also shares here the personal, romantic origins of the song.
A chord-chart for MacArthur Park is available from here.
Music journalist Susan Moore wrote of Duff as having “one of the richest baritone voices in rock,” and that “his version of MacArthur Park remains unsurpassable” (Moore, 1982, Australian Women’s Weekly, p. 170). That was after a #1 US hit with it by … the hot-stuff babe herself, Donna Summer. (See the article at the National Library of Australia site.)
Need more MacArthur Park? That’s what people have been shouting out for at the end of Duff’s gigs, unsated by Bowie songs. So add this tube, again via Ray Martin, Duff with broken wing:
And another one, as part of the Bowie Unzipped shows:
Congratulations on the JDS site. It really is amazing, comprehensive and accurate … and very well written. Your research is sublime … Thank you for all the hard work … / You continue to impress me with your handsomely constructed and informative insights into ‘Duffoworld’— J. Duff [ 2011/07/07 & 2012/05/17]