Hullo. Miss me? Thought not. Anyhoo, on I plough with more music and musings which will, in later years, come to be regarded as an underappreciated in it’s time monolith for future generations to marvel at in great reverence and wonder.
I had a lovely break, thanks for asking. It’s good to be back listening and writing to mass indifference however, and I trust you’re ready for more sonic wonderment and poorly constructed prose.
Naturally, my very good friend, bandmate and retired inventor of the spirograph, Paul D’Cruz is also back with his pick of the week. This time around he’s gone for one of the best fab four covers ever recorded.
Haway then, let’s go, to San Francisco..
Track 1. Winners by Bobby Conn.
…Chicago, actually. This weeks cover star, Bobby first came to my attention through his mid 90’s song ‘Never Get Ahead’. It received quite heavy rotation on MTV on release and consequently it’s Jackson 5 quoting violin part got it’s hooks in me. Fast forward a few years later and I managed to catch his set at Glastonbury in the early 2000’s, he blew me away. I’ve seen him a few times since and he never fails to stun me with his Prince-like guitar chops. This is from my favourite album of his, 2001’s ‘The Golden Age’, and it’s terrific. A blistering start to this weeks playlist.
Track 2. Outside by Parquet Courts.
It always surprises me when my five year old son expresses a fondness for a particular song or band. Recently he’s been constantly singing sixties classic ‘The Letter’ by The Box Tops thanks to the soundtrack of the Minions movie and just last week he asked who these New York post punkers were when they popped up on the radio. Nice to know he’s making his own sonic journey in these early years, I hope he continues with his left field preferences before the inevitable chartjunk years we all go through.
Track 3. A Minha Menina by Os Mutantes.
Before I left for my holiday I promised to bring back some Portuguese sounds with me. Unfortunately there was precious little to be heard. Most of the radio stations seemed to play late nineties/early noughties British plod rock a la Keane and Coldplay. I think we all know by now that you’re not going to hear any of that here at NL. I did experience some genuine local music but it had an unsettling amount of accordion. In lieu of this disappointment, here’s one of the finest songs recorded in the Portuguese tongue. Famously covered by The Bees on their superb ‘Sunshine Hit Me’ album, an LP I must dust off now those summer months are fast approaching.
Track 4. My Love Is Your Love (Forever) by The Isley Brothers.
Stevie Wonder penned gorgeousness that was shelved after it’s 1967 recording. I discovered this on a Motown connoisseurs compilation some years ago and it became an instant favourite. It would have been massive if released as a single. As it is, it remains virtually unknown although it’s found new life as a Northern Soul night staple.
Track 5. Changes by Charles Bradley.
From classic soul to something brand new next. This is the title track from Bradley’s third LP released a couple of weeks back. It’s a cover of the Black Sabbath track given the Daptone treatment with a typically impassioned vocal from Charles. If you’re unfamiliar with his story I urge you to check out the documentary ‘Soul Of America’, a truly uplifting tale of resurgence and redemption.
Track 6. Moon Watching by Shin Joong Hyun.
South Korean rock n roll from 1958, a hitherto underappreciated genre until Hyun was recently rediscovered. His style can be instantly categorised as US surf guitar but he managed to put his own Asian spin on things, coming up with a recognisable but at the same time unique sound.
Track 7. Go Now by Bessie Banks.
After Charles Bradley’s cover of a classic, we have a classic that was covered. The Moody Blues version of this song is now rightly considered their sixties high water mark but this, the soulful bluesy original is filled with more things to love. Stripped of the slightly overlong middle eight piano, it gets it’s message across economically. Banks’ vocal is choc-full of vim and punch rendering Denny Laine’s effort slightly weedy in comparison.
Track 8. Sweetness In Her Spark by Lightships.
Gerard Love’s solo debut from 2012 is a Scottish supergroup of sorts featuring members of Belle & Sebastian, The Pastels and a couple of his Teenage Fanclub bandmates. Love was always the melodic heartbeat in the fannies and he carries that attribute into this project. Lovely, chimey guitars and lyrics about visiting churches and summertime parks contribute to a romantic, warm seasonal treat. Gorgeous.
Track 9. Oh! Lord by Cortex.
Sampled by Rick Ross on ‘Oyster Perpetual’, this is a lively slab of Fender Rhodes heavy French Jazz fusion from 1977.
Track 10. Fujiyama Mama by Wanda Jackson.
The first lady of rockabilly up next with a song that perversely hit the top of the Japanese hit parade in the late fifties and stayed there for months. Why perverse? Read the lyrics and consider the events of just fifteen years earlier.
“I’ve been to Nagasaki. Hiroshima too. The same I did to them baby, I can do to you.
Cause I’m a Fujiyama mama and I’m just about to blow my top.”
Track 11. Looking For Someone by Roy Budd.
Budd’s soundtrack to seminal 1971 gangster flick ‘Get Carter’ is a jazz piano joy. Aside from the tabla smothered title track there are some cracking ‘proper songs’ nestled within. This particular one is playing in the background when Jack Carter enters the bar and demands a ‘thin glass’.
Track 12. Sowiesoso by Cluster.
The title track from the Krautrock outfits’ fourth LP which was recorded in just two days in 1976. This is another of those pieces of music which is ideal for night driving. Just be careful those hypnotic beats and motorway lights don’t lull you into the central reservation..
Track 13. Dear Prudence by Siouxsie And The Banshees.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
When Paul submitted this track last week, he explained that he didn’t realise it was a cover when he first heard it. My memory is a bit hazy but I think I was also unaware that it was a Beatles tune on its release in 1983. Siouxsie makes it her own with her distinctive voice lending a certain amount of menace to Lennon’s words.
Track 14. Everybody Plays The Fool by The Main Ingredient.
Slick soul from 1972 up next with the band that featured Cuba Gooding Jr’s father. Bet you can’t guess what his name is.
Track 15. Blofonyobi Wo Atabe by The Psychedelic Aliens.
Sixties afro-funk-psych-pop band from Ghana who only recorded eight songs in their short time together. You know when you get those imbecilic baseball cap wearing morons driving past with Generic dance music spewing from their motor? If you ever hear African psych pop coming down the road in the summer, that’s probably me. Don’t forget to wave!
Track 16. What A Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers.
I only follow a handful of musicians on social media. One of those select few is Michael McDonald and he seems like a thoroughly decent chap, happy with life and grateful for his talent and status. This is a stone cold classic, it never fails to make me smile and reach for the volume up button whenever it makes one of it’s frequent appearances on the wireless. That’s all down to MM and his wonderful voice. One of those songs I’ll never tire of.
Track 17. Sam And Davy by Damien Jurado.
Taken from his brand new album ‘Visions Of Us On The Land’. Here we find Jurado on sparkling form, his reverb soaked voice sounding as good as it ever has in his 20 year career.
Track 18. Festival Time by The San Remo Golden Strings.
Here we have another single which had moderate success in the charts, (number 39 in 1971) but later went on to have a new lease of life on the northern soul scene. A studio group from Detroit, The SRGS were a mash up of the Detroit symphony orchestra and Motown’s famous backing band the funk brothers.
Track 19. Break Away by Art Garfunkel.
Art’s second solo album, from which this is the title track, is filled with songwriters of the highest calibre. Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boy’s Bruce Johnston, Steven Bishop, Jobim, and Garfunkels old sparring partner Paul Simon all contribute. This slice of none more seventies mellowness comes from the pens of Gallagher and Lyle.
Track 20. You by The Aquatones.
Rounding off our return to action this week is a 1958 one hit wonder from a doo-wop group that featured 17 year old Lynn Nixon on lead. Apparently this was used in an episode of The Sopranos which is news to me.
And there you go. Nice to be back with you. Let’s do it all again next week.
Until then, keep on with the force, don’t stop.