Hullo. I see the grim reaper didn’t take the hint and bugger off last week, the big bony get. We’ve got a couple of recent losses in this weeks bumper crop of top pop, along with a few 10 minute plus tracks that may stretch the patience of the casual listener. Stick with ’em though, they’re incredibly rewarding. Or skip through if you like, totally your choice of course. There’s also some three minute gems for those of a short attention span.
Anyway, it’s my playlist, so cobblers.
Let’s get out of this country..
Track 1. I Need All The Friends I Can Get by Camera Obscura.
Keyboardist Carey Lander was only 33 when she lost her battle with bone cancer last October. A tragic loss at such a young age and it’ll seem strange to see the band without her on stage behind her bank of synths. She was a focal point for me on the half a dozen or so times I’ve seen them. Always elegant and slightly shy with a wry smile that would dance across her lips from time to time. I remember their gig at the now defunct Summer Sundae Festival about ten years back, the band had some equipment stolen and Carey had to borrow some keyboards. She kept apologising as she was unfamiliar with the hardware, but nobody noticed, they were, as always, a complete Joy. Carey’s fundraising page is still taking donations, so please visit Carey’s Just Giving Page. and give what you can.
Track 2. Baby Don’t Go by Sonny & Cher.
Released prior to the behemoth ‘I Got You Babe’, this was subsequently rereleased after the latter and went on to be quite successful. Hardly ever afforded much airplay compared to IGYB, for my money this is the better song. Lovely harmonica and backing from a clutch of the Wrecking Crew including Leon Russell. There’s some smashing harmonising from Sonny up top.
Track 3. Hurtling Through by Hamish Kilgour and Tiny Ruins.
This EP sneaked out a couple of months back and although it’s not a full, proper follow up to the gorgeous ‘Brightly Painted One’ from Hollie Fulbrook, it’s a gentle unassuming pleasure. Her voice sounding as natural as it ever has, the percussion backing from Kilgour brings some weight to proceedings. A delicious taster until the main course arrives in the shape of a new T.R. album.
Track 4. Canvey Island by Rotifer.
Fred Perry shirts and half mast trousers, boxes of maltesers and girls in minis all feature in this reminiscence fest from Austrian artist Rotifer. It encapsulates perfectly a child’s holiday in England in the early 1980’s. Lots of subtle little touches add up to a beautiful noise. You can almost taste the Quattro and smell the candy floss.
Track 5. La mauvaise herbes by Georges Brassens.
French poet Brassens up next with a cut from 1952. In it, he portrays himself as a social outcast with no time for patriotism. I can identify with that. Let those that have no time for jingoistic tubthumping live their life, for they mean no harm to anyone. You could maybe learn a thing or two about peace and a life worth living.
Track 6. Norman 3 by Teenage Fanclub.
Taken from their largely forgotten fourth album ‘Thirteen’, their debt to Big Star is plainly evident on this track. A straightforward love song with minimal lyrics, it’s simple refrain ‘Girl, I’m In Love With You’ cuts right to the heart of the matter with typical fanny guitars chiming behind it.
Track 7. I Can’t Let Go by Evie Sands.
I mentioned Ms Sands last week and her cover of The Troggs’ ‘Anyway That You. Want Me’. She makes her debut this week with another cover of a mid sixties beat combo. This time around it’s Graham Nash’s finest hour with The Hollies. Quite faithful to the original,this still stands on it’s own through Evie’s lovely, breathy vocal.
Track 8. You Hurt Me For The Last Time by Otis Clay.
Soul goodness next from Otis Clay. He first came to my attention through the Cornershop side project ‘Clinton’, there was a track on their album titled ‘Welcome To Tokyo, Otis Clay’ and the name prompted me to do some digging. Turns out he was responsible for the first recording of ‘The Only Way Is Up’ and it’s a beaut, check it out if you’re only familiar with the Yazz version. This particular cut is a rare soul ballad from 1969. Sadly, Otis passed on just two weeks ago aged 73.
Track 9. Red & White Light Ship by Gimmer Nicholson.
Another release from the rather brilliant Light In The Attic label. Their main remit is unearthing forgotten gems from years gone by and through them I have found artists that I’ve gone on to love, Donnie and Joe Emerson, Jim Sullivan and Pastor T. L. Barrett to name a few. Nicholson’s album from 1968 is their latest vinyl re-issue and it’s a bit special. I took it for it’s debut spin the other night whilst walking the hound and the softly looped guitars went well with the frost covered fields twinkling in the moonlight. I can also imagine they fit summer walks with yellow beams streaming through trees too. I love it when a record can feel timeless like that. Anyway, it’s ten minutes long, lose yourself.
Track 10. To Earth With Love by Gay Dad.
Produced by Tony Visconti, artwork by Peter Saville and a cocksure muso journalist frontman, Gay Dad had all the necessary attributes to make it big. They didn’t of course, but this, their debut single from 1998 was a wonderful slice of confidence over ability. I loved it at the time and still do, digging it out every couple of years or so to relive those heady days when Britpop was coughing its death rattle. Any pop song that name checks Aerosmith and Kraftwerk can’t be all bad, can it?
Track 11. I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have by Primal Scream.
I’ll be honest, Primal Scream were completely off my radar until Screamadelica came along. I fell for that album pretty much instantly and had to get hold of their other output immediately. Having got my mitts on both ‘Sonic Flower Groove’ and ‘Primal Scream’, I was surprised to hear not all of their previous work pointed to the Weatherall produced dance that I had loved on Screamadelica. This track however was very familiar. It’s an absolute tour de force, Bobby’s voice has never sounded better than this and by the time you reach THAT brass, you feel like you’ve been through the wringer with him. Get me drunk and i’ll scream this at you. It’s fun, honest.
Track 12. Until We Die by Max Tundra,
Steve Davis introduced me to this. Yes, Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis. Former snooker world champion and prog rock aficionado. He was sitting in for Stuart Maconie on the always excellent ‘Freak Zone’ a few years back and played this, our second ten minute plus track, in its entirety. I was hooked and procured the album ‘Parralax Error Beheads You’ on the basis of that first listen. Starting like a long lost Amiga game soundtrack, it goes all over the place until Tundra’s Sufjan Steven-esque vocal chimes in, then goes off on one again. Love. It.
Track 13. Give Up The Ghost by Radiohead.
Best news of the week is that Thom and the boys have announced live dates for this summer. Only a few festivals in Europe for now but there’s obviously going to be a new release and dates to support it some time this year. Like little Mickey Jackson, I’ll be there. This is from their last release, 2012’s ‘King Of Limbs’ and finds them in their full latter day experimental mode. You can lament when they used to ‘Write proper songs’ all you like. This is why they have become the most important and relevant British band of the past 25 years. They evolve, they grow, and they experiment. Long may they do so.
Track 14. The Vile Stuff by Richard Dawson.
I’m not going to give much away about this, our third ten minute plus heavyweight. If you are hearing it for the first time, strap yourself in. I first heard him perform this in session a couple of years back and it absolutely stopped me in my tracks. If you can find his version that he recorded for Marc Riley on ‘All Shook Up’ last year on a popular video hosting site then check it out tout suite, You won’t see a more captivating performer all year.
Track 15. 23 Minutes In Brussels by Luna.
Luna passed me by in the 1990’s it was not until I heard this on the radio recently that my ears pricked up. To be honest, I thought it was a brand new track. It doesn’t show a single wrinkle on it’s twenty year old face. I’ll be familiarising myself with their hefty back catalogue over the next few months. Quite timely too as I read they have recently reformed after ten years. Huzzah.
Track 16. Trees and Flowers by Children Of The Italia Conte School.
Track 17. Such A Night by Johnnie Ray.
1954 Number one from Mr Emotion, ‘Moving a Million Hearts In Mono’. Always loved that lyric from ‘Come On Eileen’ as it nails Ray’s popularity with the record buying public of the fifties. His crying voice was ahead of it’s time and still sounds contemporary today. Despite being awash with the schmaltzy production of the time, if you isolate his vocal, it’s quite extraordinary. Easy to see the influence he had on other early Rock N Rollers at the time who would go on to greater success while Johnnie’s star faded.
Track 18. Nobody Does It Better (Instrumental) by Marvin Hamlisch,
I chanced upon a documentary about Hamlisch on Satellite Tv a few weeks ago. I had no idea he wrote this with Carole Bayer Sager, I always assumed it was Carly Simon. You can’t know everything I suppose. Anyway, it was a great doc. It seems Hamlisch was universally loved and a thoroughly decent chap. This is probably my favourite Bond theme and this instrumental version slows things down to a crawl, stripped of Simon’s vocal, there’s a hidden warmth in the underlying strings and harp that gives way to a guitar and then sax solo half way through. Seductive, if you can get the image of a safari suited Roger Moore out of your head.
Track 19. Birth Of The True by Aztec Camera,
The closer from Roddy Frame’s outfit’s second LP ‘Knife’. This is a simple acoustic guitar and voice number that doesn’t suffer from a trace of the eighties production that slightly blighted the rest of the release. I still love the LP though, and credit must go to producer Mark Knopfler as he let the song speak for itself without covering it in synths or reverb. Sung clean and strummed with his usual confident style, it’s a highlight for me and always a pleasure when he plays it live despite the fact that I can’t help but sing along.
Track 20. Every Little But Hurts by Brenda Holloway,
Soul Slowie time..Keep yer Small Faces, THIS is the definitive version for me. The way her voice slightly breaks at 1 minute 37s gets me every time. Listen to this when you’re down, listen to it when you’re happy, you’ll still end up beefing like a baby.
And so, the end is near. Until next time, keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the mars bars,