Hullo. Thanks for reading last week, it turned out to be the most read NL since I started this folly, (discounting the Bowie tribute). It’s heartening to know that people are taking this blog in the spirit that was intended, that is, a feller cobbling some songs together then writing a paragraph about why they’ve been cobbled. So, yeah, ta.
This weeks list of play has something for everyone so strap your hands ‘cross my engines and lets blast orf shall we?
Track 1. Into Space by Russ Garcia.
Taken from one of Jonny Trunk’s excellent compilations, we kick things off this week by going interstellar. This comes from Garcia’s 1959 long player Fantastica: Music from outer space, and it’s certainly from another dimension. Although firmly rooted in the fifties it has a timeless wonder about it. It almost definitely influenced Alexander Courage when he came up with the original Star Trek TV series theme some seven years later.
Track 2. Nancy From Now On by Father John Misty.
I had a ticket to see FJM for his intimate show at the mighty Brudenell social club last February. Unfortunately it sold out in double quick time before my mates could secure tickets. Now, I’m not one for going to gigs on my own, although I have done it before, so I tried to sell the ticket on. Anyway, cut a long story short, the div who said he would take it off my hands turned out to be a total flake and left me waiting at New Pudsey station for over an hour with not so much as a by your leave. Turns out it was one of the best shows to ever be seen at the Bru’, stunning from start to finish. I’m glad that timewasting buffoon missed it too. Ah, well..I’m off to see him at The Sage in Gateshead in May, so better late than never I suppose.
This is one from his first Lp under the FJM moniker, ‘Fear Fun’ and naturally, its wonderful.
Track 3. Gotta Move On (To My Destiny) by The Ovations.
Released on Chess in 1975, this is a b side which surpasses the a. Deep Memphis groove which is as infectious as they come.
Track 4. Machine Gun by Portishead.
This came as a bolt from the blue when it was unleashed as the lead single from their third album which was aptly titled ‘Third’ a few years ago. The drum track is absolutely brutal as it apes the weapon the track is named after. Juxtaposed with this relentless beat is Beth’s haunting voice which has always been Portishead’s most effective tool in their Arsenal. Turn it up.
Track 5. Olympia by Gerardo Frisina.
Italian Frisina delves into deepest Brazil for this Latin cut. The title track from last Novembers EP, it’s got shades of the great Lalo Schifrin in it’s guitar lines.
Track 6. Coming Into Los Angeles by Arlo Guthrie.
Like many, this first came to my attention through the Woodstock LP which i first heard over twenty years ago. Along with John Sebastian, Richie Havens, Country Joe and the fish, and Canned Heat, the first five tracks on that album are probably the most evocative microcosm featured on any album, ever. A time before, as Hunter S Thompson wrote, ‘The wave finally broke and rolled back’.
Track 7. Reflections Of My Life by Marmalade.
This made an appearance on Tony Blackburn’s pick of the pops last Saturday whilst I was doing the washing up which warrants its inclusion this week. I haven’t heard it for years but as soon as the chorus kicked in I was singing along at the top of my voice. Mark of a decent song, that.
Track 8. Yonder Blue by Tortoise.
This latter day soul ballad comes from Tortoise’s brand new release ‘The Catastrophist’ and features Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley on lead vocal duties. Warm and dreamy.
Track 9. World-Part 1 by James Brown.
It dawned on me that I’ve mentioned vocalists who are Brown copiers in the last few playlists,but I’ve never featured the godfather himself. Let’s right that wrong with this none more funkier single release from 1969. I was lucky enough to see JB at the Glastonbury festival of performing arts a good few years ago. I’m sorry to report it was a rather underwhelming affair, he was hardly on stage and left it to his band whose legendary discipline seemed lacking that day. On record and in his prime, however, he was untouchable as this track testifies.
Track 10. Dove by Cymande.
Staying funky next with a ten minute odyssey from early seventies Brit- funkateers, Cymande. Santana-esque guitars propel this 1972 release fused with calypso, rock and afro rhythms. Although from London, their Caribbean heritage is massively evident.
Track 11. Fake Palindromes by Andrew Bird.
Multi instrumentalist Bird has put out over ten albums in the last twenty years. This comes from 2005’s ‘..and the mysterious production of eggs’ which is probably my favourite. It motors along on some wonderful drums and his favoured instrument the violin. Cryptic lyrics which mention swapping blood with formaldehyde and drilling tiny holes in your head add to the manic feel of it all.
Track 12. Soldier Of The Heart by Judee Sill.
Next up we have this weeks cover star Judee Sill and a track from her 1973 album ‘Heart Food’. Sill had a turbulent short life, struggling with drug addiction, a spell as a prostitute and time in Jail for forgery offences. She recorded two wonderful, spiritual LP’s in the early seventies, filled with songs such as this. Judee has on occasion been dubbed a ‘female Brian Wilson’ and whilst her songs have a close relationship to tracks such as ‘Surfs up’ and ’til I die’, for my money she shares more in common with Carole King and Joni Mitchell. She died from an overdose in 1979 aged just 35. Underappreciated in her time, she’s recently been rediscovered and has influenced latter day artists such as Fleet Foxes and Beth Orton.
Track 13. The Arp by Aidan Knight.
With a voice that’s quite similar to another of this weeks featured artists in Andrew Bird and an opening that has an Unknown Mortal Orchestra feel, this brand new track from Aidan Knight has other deft touches to fall for. Although the underlying brass could be a bit higher in the mix, that’s a tiny criticism of a cracking single. I just love the bass on the chorus and the extended outro.
Track 14. The Box by Orbital.
Along with ‘Chime’ Belfast’ and ‘Satan’, this was always a highlight whenever I saw the Hartnoll brothers live. As soon as that five note sting on the hammered dulcimer rang out over those fields of Avalon, the already erect hairs on the back of my neck would strive to stand up even further. Twenty years old this year, it still sounds like the sound of the future with a John Barry blessing.
Track 15. Chemical World by Blur.
Staying in the nineties, next we have Blur with the difficult second single from their difficult second album. I was never a massive fan of All-bran and his mates. This did make me sit up and listen back in ’93 but by the time they broke massive with the following years Parklife, I’d lost interest again. It wasn’t until they started to copy Pavement on their eponymous album a few years later that I really started to get them. Coxon rules this track, as he does most of their others. Also includes the afterthought ‘Intermission’, a plinky plonky piano piss take which eventually degenerates into a marvellous space jam.
Track 16. Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) by Dollar.
Yeah, you read that right. Wanna make something of it? Do ya? Nothing at all wrong with a bit of eighties synth pop sez I. This 1981 single is elevated to near genius by the hand of Trevor Horn. Their biggest hit, David and Theresa never really matched its promise again and went on to an afterlife of burger vans and reality shows. Their breakout singles from ’78, ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Who were you with in the moonlight’ are also worth a mention if you like this kind of thing. And I do.
Track 17. Truly Julies Blues (I’ll Be There) by Bob Lind.
Elusive Butterfly man and Jarvis Cocker championed sixties singer songwriter Lind is still going strong today. He released four albums in the mid sixties/early seventies then virtually disappeared to become a writer before resurfacing in 2012 with the remarkable ‘Finding You Again’ hailed by many as his best work ever.
Track 18. I Gotcha by Joe Tex.
Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs soundtrack in 1992 was a bit of a wake up call for me. Filled with seventies cratedigging, it showed me that mix tapes could be an excellent communicative tool. I was making compilations before I heard it, but the ones I made after have always had a certain debt to that film’s musical accompaniment and this track from Joe Tex is a tribute to that fact.. It’s quite easy to forget that, with the exception of Scorsese, few movie-makers had the boldness to experiment with popular music and narrative before QT burst onto the scene. I’ve looked forward to each subsequent release to see what nuggets he’s come up with and he’s never disappointed.
Track 19. Set ‘Em Free by Akron/Family.
Experimental freak folkers Akron/Family have been making intriguing sounds for quite some time now. This cut, the title track from their 2009 album, is just over two and a half minutes long and has a more laid back, straightforward country style than most of their output, and is all the more gorgeous for it.
Track 20. Brazilian Rhyme by Earth, Wind & Fire.
A late addition this week after the sad news of Maurice White’s passing in the early hours of this morning. Maurice has touched everyone’s life even if you don’t know it. The drums on Fontella Bass’s massive hit ‘Rescue Me’, that’s him. The Emotions ‘Best Of My Love’, Maurice wrote it. That’s before we get to the fact he was drummer with The Ramsey Lewis Trio on eight albums, and of course his band EW&F. If you’ve never danced to Let’s Groove or Boogie Wonderland, never sang along to September or Fantasy, then you’re a big liar and your pants are on fire. Safe passage Maurice, and thanks for all the good times.x
Well, we almost made it through this week without an obituary. Hopefully next week we can get through twenty tracks without having to bid another legend adieu.
Until then, Let this groove, get you to move, alright?