SONG CLUB REVIEW: "Brains Brawn & Beauty" by GlenFoster Group
(This post is based on the script Mark David Stallard wrotefor The Invisible Song Club live show.)
"Brains Brawn & Beauty" is a fun, somewhat ironic look at life as it really is, juxtaposed to how we sometimes think it is.
From the start the song comes alive with a warm, familiar, bouncy 60s rock’n’roll British invasion vibe. Herman’s Hermits come to mind.
The drummer starts off playing a single-stroke roll on the snare for one bar, then the rest of the band hits the ground running. The bass plays a nice rockin’ walk, and the electric guitar plays a simple twangy accent to the bass. The song seems ready to move into the first verse, but it doesn’t. It gives us an unexpected guitar solo, which plays a bright tuneful melody that introduces us to the melody that is to come.
As the male vocals start, the instrumentation backs off. It gives us a chance to hear what the song is about, as these lyrics add quite a lot to the enjoyment of the song. The drums flourish subtly on the first beat of the bar, the bass rings out a single note, and the rhythm guitar strums quickly in the distance.
The melody rises and falls in a familiar manner, but it builds a little tension, and just when we expect it to return to the root or the tonic, the singer just stops short. Close enough that it’s not jarring, but far enough away to let us know there’s more coming. This happens several times throughout the verse.
The last section of the verse becomes more linear, and the vocals match the steady meter of the drums. And just as we near the end the tension is built and comes crashing down into the chorus. And we’re off to the races.
The instrumentation returns to the bouncy introduction, the bass walks through the chord progression, and the vocals list off a very catchy chorus.
After the verse and chorus is repeated once more, A short guitar break leads us nicely into the next section, which is a spoken word piece. I’m not really sure how to label this. It seems to become something of it’s own. The music changes, and they’ve made a real effort to mimic the music played during silent movies. Then the “girl tied to the tracks” scene plays out. And of course, the hero saves the day.
I’ve often gone on the record of disliking spoken words in songs, but this stands out as not only fitting the song, but I think if this section were sung, rather than spoken, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining.
As the song comes to a close, there is a nice double track guitar break. Each playing something different, but harmonizing nicely. Then the guitar plays a short flourish and the song comes to a satisfying close with a crash of cymbals.
In many ways this is a silly song. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, actually not at all. But you will get so much more out of this song if pay close attention to the lyrics. Without being preachy, we have our delusions laid out for us to see. We can look at the lyrics and see something of ourselves in them.
Some people living life like a dream
Fancy crowned kings and queens
In ivory castles with courtyard kingdoms
Their serfs and servants at knee, ya but
I’ve got you baby, you’ve got me, together
We’ll drive these dreams into reality, we’ve got
Some people’s luck runs from bad to worse
All in the flash of an eye
Struggling to fight back from last to first
Then they call it success overnight
"Brains Brawn & Beauty" is a fun, lyrically clever song. While it might not be the most original work in the world, musically, it is an excellent take on a tried and tested, and much-loved musical genre.
-- Mark David Stallard