We are regularly asked which music we use when testing or demonstrating our speakers. A good question, we have played quite a few songs over the years that we would, of course, like to share with you. We are going to collect these songs for you in a Tidal playlist.
On this list you can find songs that we use when testing our speakers, that we find really beautiful ourselves or that have been recorded perfectly. A varied collection of songs, perfect for high-end speakers. Every week we add a few songs and write a short article about what is so special about one of these songs.
WEEK 47: Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
‘The best rock song of the 20th century.’ That’s how Led Zeppelin’s song Stairway to Heaven is called by many. After guitarist Jimmy Page remained the only member of the Yardbirds in 1968, he decided to form a new band. Besides Page the band consisted of Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass and keys) and John Bonham (drums). Keith Moon, the drummer of The Who, didn’t have much faith in the quarted. He predicted that the band would ‘go down like a lead balloon.’ That inspired the band members to name their band Led Zeppelin.
The special thing about the song is that is is an LP track that was never released as a single. A unique feature of Led Zeppelin is that they often improvised during performances. Other versions, lyrics or solos prevented songs from being identical to the original. This also contributed greatly to the popularity of the live albums.
For a long time it was thought that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote the whole song themselves from beginning to end. However, this changed a few years ago. The intro of the song is said to be taken from the song Taurus by the American band Spirit, made in 1968. These two bands are no strangers to each other. Shortly after the founding of Led Zeppelin in 1968, the two bands performed together regularly. In 2014, a lawsuit was filed against Led Zeppelin by the assigns of the original song (the relatives of Randy Wolfe, who died in 1997, also known as Randy California). Ultimately, it had to take until early 2020 before a judge could give his final verdict on the case: ‘insufficient agreements.’
WEEK 46: HAEVN – The Sea
Probably less known to many, but definitely worth saving to your playlists. The Amsterdam duo HAEVN, consisting of singer-songwriter Martijn van der Meer and film music composer Jorrit Kleijnen, was only founded in 2015. Jorrit and Martijn were coincidentally linked together to make music for a film. This collaboration resulted in the songs “Where The Heart Is” and “Finding Out More”, which were even used in a BMW commercial. After these songs hit the international charts via Shazam, the two decided to continue the collaboration under the name HAEVN. In a short time they developed their own strong sound, inspired by artists such as Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Ray LaMontage, but also film composers such as Thomas Newman and Hans Zimmer.
Especially for Jorrit it is an upside down world. Where he used to make music while seeing images, he now makes music that people can create their own images for. The song ‘The Sea’ is part of the album ‘Close Your Eyes’. An appropriate title, because everyone forms different images in their head when they hear music. “We discovered frequent references to water as a subject in the titles of our songs. While you are close to the sea you can feel your brain clearing up, but at the same time they are so massive and powerful that they are almost incomprehensible. We tried to capture that in the music and lyrics of The Sea.” According to Jorrit.
WEEK 45: The Fairfield Four – These Bones
The Fairfield Four is an American gospel group that has existed for over 90 years in total, in various configurations. The original was founded in the early 1920’s by the pastor of Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He did this to get his two sons, Harry and Rufus Carrethers, more involved in the church. Not much later John Battle was added to the group. However, this line-up did not last long, around the 1930s the group was transformed into an jubilee quartet. This was not a bad idea, by the way. A few years later, in the 1940’s, the Fairfield Four was considered one of America’s most popular gospel groups. Without any effort they were placed in the list of The Dixie Hummingbirds, Five Blind Boys and Soul Stirrers.
Not much later, however, the group collapsed under the pressure. The crowded tour schedule and some financial problems caused the group to split up in 1950. It finally took until 1980 for the group of the 1940s to reunite for a concert in Birmingham, Alabama. This turned out to be a golden move: in 1989 they were designated as National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts. The song “These Bones” was released in 1997 by “the band of the 1940s”. The original group members are unfortunately retired or deceased.
WEEK 44: Ulla Meinecke – Die Tänzerin
The fact that Germany continued to struggle with its past after World War II is clearly reflected in pop music by post-war German artists. The country was divided into four zones: American, British, French and Russian. Many popular songs were about the German identity that endured. In the 1960s, the country was in a kind of denial phase, in which young people tried to be as British as possible. This changed in the 1970s, artists were increasingly looking for their own sound. Thus, at the end of the 1970s, a new trend in pop music emerged called Neue Deutsche Welle (literally translated: New German Wave). It was a movement that emerged from punk and new wave. The main centers of the NDW movement were Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Hanover.
One of the most succesful representatives of this NDW movement is Ulla Meinecke. She grew up in the west of Germany. By the time se graduated she had already written her own songs. She was only 18 years old at the time. A meeting with the German rock musician Udo Lindenberg encouraged her to move to Hamburg to turn her creative hobby into her work. In 1983 Ulla released the song ‘Die Tänzerin’ together with composer Edo Zanki. Millions of Germans heard the song through, for example, ‘Westfernsehen’ or ‘Westradio’ and couldn’t get enough of it. From 2000 she turned to literature as well as the music world. She has written and published several books. Meinecke has released more than 15 albums during her career, which are still very popular in Germany today.
WEEK 43: Diana Krall – No Moon At All
The featured song of this week is Diana Krall’s No Moon At All. Krall is a daughter of very musical parents, she started playing the piano at the age of four. This turned out to be a huge success. She was only fifteen years old when se was already allowed to play her jazz music in several restaurants. Later she attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
No Moon At All is a song from just after the Second World War. It was written in 1947 by David Mann and Redd Evans. The original was sung by Doris Day. In the song we hear Krall opening with a piano solo, which clearly shows her talent. The combination of the piano and double bass, played by John Clayton, is what makes this song so special. In addition, the whole is also exceptionally well produced.
WEEK 42: Johnny Cash – Bird On A Wire
We kick off this playlist with the song that has undoubtedly been played most often on our speakers. At the end of a highly successful, commercial career spanning more than 50 years, Johnny Cash released the song “Bird On A Wire”, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name. Anyone who has followed Cash’s career will know that his voice got darker over the years. That can be heard perfectly in this song.
Recorded in a mountain cabin with only one microphone, the song is the best way to convey the essence of his music, according to Cash. What makes this song so unique, in our opinion, is the fact that it is unpolished, unlike many modern songs that often get polished after recording. For example, at the beginning of the song, Cash once (accidentally) bumps the microphone stand. Nice detail: this can only be heard on the more expensive systems.