Friday, 16 September 2016

My Top Ten Maths Songs (Volume 3: Subtraction)

Maths lessons continue. This week: subtraction. Take it away...

10. Pavement - 5-4 = Unity

Malkmus goes jazz. It makes sense on the album, and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is arguably the very best Pavement album. There is a rare version with vocals, but I think I prefer the instrumental... and you won't hear me say that very often. Yeah, I know the 5-4 is a time signature, not a subtraction... but it looks enough like a sum to make the grade.

Of course, this track owes a huge debt to my Number #2 this week... but we'll get to that soon enough.

9. Charlie Louvin - Two Minus One

Here's country pioneers The Louvin Brothers minus one (Charlie's brother Ira). No wonder he's lonesome.

8. Marion - Minus You

Britpop casualties, though this out-take from their second album (released only on the Japanese version) stands up strong, if you like that Suede-y sound. Marion are touring the 20th anniversary of their debut record this month. It's good to see there's life in the old dogs yet.

7. Tavares - Don't Take Away The Music

Ralph, Pooch, Tubby, Butch and Tiny give it their all in this triumphant disco anthem. Not as good as Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel or Whodunit, but few things are.

6.  Dr. John - Me Minus You Equals Loneliness

Voodoo blues direct from New Orleans. Perfect for a warm summer evening... sorry, Ihave a feeling we saw the last of those for a while this week...

5. Paul McCartney - Take It Away

80s cod-reggae McCartney: do I apologise now or later? Look, it's got George Martin on keyboards! Look, it's got Ringo on drums! Look, it's got John Hurt in the video! Look it's got...

How is it possible to be so annoyed by one smugly-slappable star yet find so many of his songs addictive? I wish I understood pop music.

4. Beck - Minus

Remember when Beck sounded mad and scary like this? It seems so long ago...
It's a sensation
A bankrupt corpse
In the garbage classes
With the crutches of frogs
Frogs! Frogs! Frogs!
Yeah, thanks, Beck. Nice Beck. Don't hurt me, Beck.

3. ABC - All Of My Heart
Add and subtract
But as a matter of fact
Now that you're gone

I still want you back.
See, I could have featured this last week, but it strikes me that this is a song of loss, so the subtraction has already won out over the addition.

Epic. Majestic. Heartbreaking.

Don't let anyone tell you the 80s were rubbish...

2. Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five

I'm not the world's biggest jazz fan, and certainly no expert, but I won't turn away any genre in my search for a good tune. And Take Five is more than a good tune. It's a masterpiece.

Plus, the composer, Paul Desmond, left the royalties to charity on his death. The American Red Cross make around a hundred grand a year off this song (and other, less famous compositions Desmond bequeathed them).

1. Frank Sinatra - They Can't Take That Away From Me

George & Ira Gershwin. Frank Sinatra at his peak. It doesn't much get better than this.

Of course, there are many other fine versions, by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Robbie Willia--

See you next week.

Which one takes you away?


  1. ABC would have been number 1 for me
    Less than Zero by Elvis COstello?

  2. Windchill Factor Minus Zero by The Boomtown Rats
    And anything by The Minus 5

    1. The Rats were in consideration, but slipped out when I couldn't find it on youtube. (I'm lazy that way.) Hadn't thought about Costello, good call.

      The Minus 5...? Further investigation required...

  3. Or perhaps something by SBTRKT (pronounced Subtract, so "the kids" on "the street" tell me).

    1. Really. I am aware of their work, but not the pronunciation.

      How do you pronounce !!! ?

  4. Can't beat a bit of Brubeck

    How about:
    Take It All Away by Girlschool (the Female Motorhead?)
    It is my contention that no list is complete without a bit of NWOBHM related shennaingans

    1. I had to google NWOBHM. But I understood once the acronym had been deciphered.

  5. Replies
    1. 'Twas their moment in the Madchester sun.

  6. So nothing by The Cosines? or Algebra Suicide?

    1. Maybe when I get on to higher mathematics...

      Algebra Suicide is a great name for a band though. I'm glad you didn't make it up.


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