Hullo. Welcome back to your weekly dose of what’s good for you. Nobody’s Listening, the playlist series that refuses to go away despite global indifference.
Well, what a week. Rainy days and Mondays always get me down, and last week had both, coupled with the loss of the greatest pop star this planet will ever know. More of that later. For now, let’s try and get happy..
Track 1. A Little Love by Bing Ji Ling.
…and if this doesn’t paste a smile on your chops I don’t know what will. Beginning like a long lost Style Council track, this song from New York’s Quinn Lamont Luke is a slice of 21’st century soul that’s hand made for summer drives, warm hazy nights and fairy lights. Similar to Har Mar Superstar’s work on his superb 2013 LP ‘Bye Bye 17’, this predates it by two years. Wonder if he was taking notes?
Track 2. Planet Sizes by Steve Mason.
Brand new song from former Beta Band man and all round good egg. This is the initial release, taken from his forthcoming third solo LP ‘Meet The Humans’. More of a straightforward outing than his previous efforts on ‘Monkey Minds In The Devils Time’, nevertheless his songwriting chops are in better shape than ever. Any chance of a BB reunion once this LP’s been toured Steve? Thought not. Bah.
Track 3. Drive My Car by Leslie Overdrive.
The first of three instrumentals on the bounce, we start with this Hammond drenched cover of The Wackers ‘ cut from ‘Rubber Soul’. This comes from the Copenhagen collective’s 2011 EP ‘With The Hammond, In The Beauty’. A cracking 5 track collection which also features a stonking cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’. Get your dancing shoes on, or your plimmies if you don’t want to ruin the laminate.
Track 4. Jagadishwar By Alice Coltrane.
The second of our instrumental triptych comes from the late, great Alice Coltrane and features two instruments I’ve only recently come to embrace fondly. Eighties synths and Saxophone. I had a long time aversion to both growing up in the eighties, they were like the proverbial shit on a field and there’s some truly horrible examples of their usage from that time (anyone for Kenny G?). But this is beautiful. This house is clean..
Track 5. Dominos, Pt III by Chassol.
I heard this on Don Letts’ excellent Sunday night show on 6 records last week and it made me feel like booking a holiday to the West Indies. I know nothing about the artist but a quick google reveals he’s a French musician who released this just last year. It features on the LP ‘Big Sun’ which is the third in a series of album travelogues. I’ll be delving deeper on the strength of this track which I imagine is great fun live-wise.
Track 6. Tunnelvision by Here We Go Magic.
I loved this hypnotic track the second I heard it nearly 7 years ago now. The way the vocals layer over each other until they’ve got you in that trance is indeed, magical. They were playing at Glastonbury in 2010 and I was excited to see them but never did. In fact I saw about four or five bands all weekend, as is usually the case with that wormhole in Somerset.
Track 7. Instant Replay by Wanda Robinson.
Hmm. I still can’t work out exactly what’s happening in this song. Is she dreaming? Tripping? It’s a fairly straightforward, spoken word story about picking a feller up in a bar then by the payoff you haven’t got a clue what she’s experiencing. Either way, the backing is a lovely slice of souly funk that carries the narrative along.
Track 8. Hessa by El Rego Et Ses Commandos.
Daptone reissue from a few years back. A cracking piece of 70’s West African Funk complete with James Brown ‘UH’s’. Made for dancing around with grass between your toes and a belly full of wonky apple juice.
Track 9. Anyway That You Want Me by Spiritualized.
It’s surprising that it’s took me 15 playlists including specials and almost 300 songs before I’ve featured Spiritualized. A band I’ve seen live more than any other (somewhere between 20-30 times over the past 20 years..) So where better to start than at the beginning with this, their first release from 1990. It’s a cover of The Troggs’ song, and like their big hit ‘Wild Thing’, it’s a simple A/D/E affair elevated to greatness by all the hallmarks that Pierce would go on to establish the now unmistakeable Spiritualized sound template, swirling strings, fuzz guitars and his reed thin vocal which he carried across from Spacemen 3. Evie Sands also does a marvellous version of this, I urge you to check that out too.
Track 10. Good Habits (and Bad) by Saba Lou.
Anyone who watches Cartoon Network will recognise this as the end theme to ‘Clarence’. A charming, innocent ditty penned by Canadian singer King Khan and sung by his 9 Year old daughter. ‘Picking my nose, wasting my time….’
Track 11. Happy Songs Sell Records, Sad Songs Sell Beer by Jim Ford.
Sly Stone called Jim Ford the funkiest white man he knew, he wrote hits for Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack and The Temptations, and raised two of Marlon Brando’s kids. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this lost hero. This country/bluegrass tune tells the story in it’s title, the usual Country tropes of a lost woman and lost chances complete with a yodel outro. Stellar stuff.
Track 12. Half A Minute by Matt Bianco.
Unfairly maligned, Matt Bianco had a cracking run of singles in the mid 80’s, and this has to be my favourite. Polish chartreuse Basia carries this typically latin tinged song along with ease surrounded by cuica, piano and Sax. It reminds me of working as a drivers mate in the summer of 1990 as their album was the only tape we had in the van and I was a much too shy 16 year old to suggest I bring some music in. Good job I liked them.
Track 13. Introduction by James Tatum Trio Plus.
Taken from the excellent LP compilation ‘Spiritual Jazz, Esoteric, Modal + Deep Jazz From The Underground 1968-77′ This is pretty accessible considering the title of the album. Goes well with white wine and fish.
Track 14. Open Up Your Arms by Ren Harvieu,
This got quite a bit of airplay on Radio 2 a few years back and perhaps was blighted by association. It’s wonderful. Penned and produced by The Zutons’ Dave McCabe, it showcases Harvieu’s voice in grand style. With a chorus that, as the lyrics state, aches to be held. It’s pop writing par excellence from the Valerie bloke.
Track 15. Dub Organizer by Augustus Pablo.
King of the melodica, Augustus Pablo up next with a typical laid back jam from the 1974 LP ‘This Is…Augustus Pablo’. If you’ve ever been to any music festival at any point in your life, chances are you’ve heard Pablo’s Melodica drifting through the sweet summer air as you’ve made your way across site. This is THE sound of warm June/July/August nights, and typing this on a cold dark, January evening, they seem so far away..
Track 16. Manhattan Skyline by David Shire.
Taken from the ubiquitous Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Shire’s gloriously overblown disco instrumental glides along on a lovely guitar before introducing synths, then those lovely disco strings and brass start to swell. We were all Tony Manero at some point in our lives, living for the weekend, and wether it was 1978 or 1995, what glorious weekends they were..
Track 17. When It Explodes by Pond.
With shared member from Tame Impala, Pond were the more poppier of the two acts (That’s since changed with Tame Impala’s latest effort, which seems to have diluted their original psych sound into a more commercial ‘product’. Shame.) This comes from their Beard Wives Denim Lp from a few years back and has a great bit in the middle where they seem to just be hitting guitars to see what come out.
Track 18. You and I by Black Ivory.
Featuring Cameo’s Larry Blackmon on drums, this soul cut from 1971 has a great falsetto lead from Leroy Burgess. This fell through the cracks at the time but has since been sampled by Madlib and Q-tip amongst others.
Track 19. What He Doesn’t Know By LLoyd Cole.
Cole’s superb second solo LP from 1991, ‘Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe’ is a forgotten gem. One side is filled with the jangly pop he made his name with in the eighties with the commotions, whereas the other is awash with lush, orchestra backed Bacharach-tinged heartbreakers. This is one of them and probably my favourite, particularly the harmonica and string outro which is as gorgeous as anything he ever put his name to.
Track 20. It’s Gonna Be Me by David Bowie
And finally, our soul slowie. This was the first song I reached for when I heard that awful news last Monday morning. It’s a fucking outtake! How did that happen? How can you eject this and the stunning ‘Who Can I be Now?’ in favour of a half arsed Across The Universe? I’m convinced Young Americans would be even more revered than it is if these two were left in. Anyway. He famously referred to this as ‘Plastic Soul’. I’ve never got that. There’s nothing synthetic in this at all, listen to the way he sings ‘Come Back My Babe, be holy again..’ If that’s not authentic soul, I don’t know what is. I said my goodbyes to Bowie on this blog when I heard the news. At last, after being unable to listen to his work through sadness all week, I can say hello again.
That’s yer lot for this week. See you all next week, when hopefully everyone will stop dying.