Hullo. Well here we are at playlist number 20. Back in mid October when I began compiling NL, it was initially intended as an occasional means of sharing music I like that you might too. Now, some 400 tunes later, it’s very much part of my weekly routine. And others too it seems. Thanks for that.
Hopefully, I can keep this going and continue to bring pleasant (and sometimes not so pleasant) sounds to your collective ear ‘oles.
This week we have a mid section which, if you use the cross fade function on Spotify, comes across as positively dream-like. Don’t fall asleep though, you’ll miss out on some beauties.
And of course, Paulo’s Pick Of The Week in which my very good friend, bandmate and falconry expert Paul D’Cruz drops a doozy.
And so it goes…
Track 1. Ultimate Painting by Ultimate Painting.
First off the blocks this week, we have London’s Ultimate Painting with their self titled track from their self titled LP. Eazy-breezy on the ear, the opening guitar figure is just enough to carry the song. I can imagine this would be well suited to a sunny afternoon with nothing to do. Those days aren’t far off folks!
Track 2. Okuan Tsentsen Awar by C.K.Mann.
Premium Ghanaian funk up next from C.K.Mann. Try and keep still through this one, impossible. I love African funk. At the core are those primordial rhythms, probably the first beats that man ever moved to. It’s amazing how they can still stir some ancient feelings inside us all.
Track 3. Better Days by Graham Nash.
From his days with The Hollies, through his time with Crosby, Stills and Young, Nash has always been the melodic heartbeat. His first solo LP, 1971’s ‘Songs For Beginners’ has some of those beautiful melodies I just mentioned. This is the second track on that album, recorded just after his break-up with long time squeeze Joni Mitchell, and the heartache shows.
Track 4. Summer Song by Matt Duncan.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Another top selection from our resident cartoon Ringo. This week he’s gone for a brass heavy piece of sunshine pop. With a voice and style that’s reminiscent of late seventies soft pop troubadours such as Andrew Gold or Steven Bishop, Duncan has crafted a wonderful paean to that glorious season. Get the top down, don those ray-bans and feel that warm breeze caress you like a long lost friend.
Track 5. Old, New Bicycle by Helvetia.
Featuring some fantastic, scuzzy guitar playing, this track from 2010 passed me by at the time. I’m happy to discover it now though. Carrying on the great line of bands to come out of Seattle, Helvetia have their own identity while borrowing some of the sounds that the famously rainy city has shaped.
Track 6. Space Woman by Herman’s Rockets.
Italian space disco from 1977. Always expect the unexpected with NL! Although long time listeners probably know exactly what to expect even when it’s unexpected. I expect.
Track 7. Excuses by The Morning Benders.
Taken from their 2010 LP ‘Big Echo’, this is a big wall of sound type track that never dulls with repeat listens. There’s a wonderful live rendition recorded with friends of the band on youtube which I urge you to seek out, I guarantee it’ll put a beam on your fizzle. The band are still a going concern, although they changed their name to POP ETC a couple of years back. This was after discovering the negative connotations associated with the word ‘Benders’ here in the UK.
Track 8. Window Seat by Portico Quartet.
Here we begin the dream sequence I alluded to in this weeks introduction. Mercury nominated for their first album, this is from their third, eponymously titled LP, the first without founder member Nick Mulvey. Never ones to stand still, their sound changes with every release and apparently they’re quite something live. Portico Quartet are now simply known as Portico.
Track 9. Summertime by The Ohio Players.
I particularly like the way the last track melts into this early offering from the players, creating a dream (or if you like, nightmare) landscape. A cover of the Gershwin classic, its jazz stylings are brought to the fore until it becomes almost unrecognisable. They soon evolved into the seventies funk masters we now know and love them as, but this proves they definitely had the experimental, George Clinton-esque chops.
Track 10. Halfway To Mexico by Jodie Abacus.
If the last two tracks were a dreamscape then this new track from South Londoner Jodie Abacus is your alarm call. Indeed, the opening 15 seconds or so sound like a buzzer on a bedside botherer. Exciting prospect this feller, he has a fantastic voice along with a warped pop sensibility. There’s some brilliant touches in this, the almost techno synths, the throwaway guitar solos and the staccato ending are just three that make it hard to resist. Fun, different and relevant. More please!
Track 11. Raga Bairagi by Charanjit Singh.
A veteran session musician for Bollywood soundtracks, Singh recorded and released the LP ‘Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat’ in 1982 to mass indifference. It was subsequently rediscovered in the early 2000’s and hailed as an ahead of it’s time lost classic, earning him the title of an acid house pioneer. The first time I heard this, I was trying to get my then new baby son to sleep, always a hard task as any new parent will testify. I remember it came on the wireless and we both just stopped. After five minutes of dancing around to it, the beats and hypnotic synths were sufficient enough to ensure he was in the land of nod. Singh passed on just last year aged 75.
Track 12. Straighten Out My Messed Up Life by The Cyrkle.
Christened by John Lennon, managed by Brian Epstein and a support act for The Beatles, The Cyrkle are a fascinating footnote in the history of the fab four. They managed a million selling No.2 single in the states, ‘Red Rubber Ball’ which was penned by one Paul Simon before going on to become successful jingle writers. This mid-sixties bubblegum tune has a jaunty bent which wouldn’t be out of place on a Monkees LP.
Track 13. This Life Is Killing Me by Velvet Crush.
Taken from their LP ‘Teenage Symphonies To God’, (the title is Brian Wilsons description of Pet Sounds) this mid nineties rocker is a personal favourite of mine. So personal in fact, I’ve never met anyone who’s ever heard of it or them. I managed to catch them live at the now defunct Phoenix festival back in 95, and despite their early afternoon slot they got the crowd going. Great LP cover too. Anyone want to knock me up a T shirt?
Track 14. Once Upon A Time In The West by Ennio Morricone.
Celebrating this weeks cover stars’ recent Oscar win, we have the theme from Leone’s masterpiece. I was lucky enough to see the maestro in concert some years ago and out of all the pieces from his vast body of work, this was the one I went to hear. I wasn’t disappointed, a true goosebumps moment which I’ll treasure til the end of my days.
Track 15. Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade.
Beginning with a fanfare ripped off from First Class’ ‘Beach Baby’ which was a direct lift from Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony, this mid eighties stone cold pop classic is often overlooked by oldies radio stations. It deserves far more airplay as its eminently sing-along-able.
Track 16. The Open Road by Postiljonen.
Ethereal dream-pop from Sweden next. Released late last year, this has been on heavy rotation on my commute into Waterloo for the last few weeks. It’s been something to lose myself in as the grey February skies hang over the capital.
Track 17. Love Theme From “The Landlord” by Al Kooper.
Featured on his third album, 1970’s ‘Easy Does It’, this, as the title suggests, was also the main theme to the counter-culture film ‘The Landlord’. It begins as an almost operatic piece before it shows its hand as a Swooping, big production complete with chorus heavy guitar and thumping drums.
Track 18. The Lady With The Braid by Dory Previn.
Previn had a fascinating life and it often seeped into her songs. Here, we find her cast as a quite desperate woman who, to my ears seems a little too keen to hold onto a new paramour. I may have the wrong end of the stick, but that’s how I’ve always interpreted it. No matter the subject, just immerse yourself in her crystal clear voice and beautifully picked guitar.
Track 19. The Love I Lost by Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes.
This supreme chunk of Philly soul was originally a Gamble and Huff ballad before Teddy Pendergrass wrapped those golden tonsils around it. Now credited as one of the very first disco tunes it’s probably known to people of a certain age through Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s version for Sybil back in ’93. I recently heard it over the closing credits for the fantastic documentary about Nottingham Forest, ‘I Believe In Miracles’.
Track 20. The Wind by Nolan Strong And The Diablos.
Shutting up shop this week, we have a 1954 piece of doo wop which has a unique, eerie quality to it. The early use of reverb and a spoken mid section recited in Strongs high tenor only add to its strangeness.
STOP PRESS…This weeks playlist was compiled before the sad news that Sir George Martin has passed. Rest assured, we’ll be paying tribute next week.
So that’s NL 20 done, here’s to the next 20. Stick with us, there’s so much more to discover and share. See you same time, same place next week.
Until then, don’t let the sun catch you crying.