Hullo. Funny business, this blogging carry-on. Some weeks you get cracking readership figures, others, not so much.
We’ve had a bit of a dip in recent weeks. I can only imagine everyone has far more interesting things to do, such as looking at pictures of somebodies tea, or filling in those ridiculous personality tests. Well here’s some results for you: You’re a pillock.
Unperturbed, I will plod on with my mission to bring you tunes of distinction and writing of varying substance.
Some beauties this week including, of course Paulo’s Pick Of The Week in which my very good friend, bandmate and close confidante of the ex cabinet minister Douglas Hurd, Paul D’Cruz shares a sweet sound.
So, do you know the way to San José?
Track 1. I Want You Back by David Ruffin.
I note that the latest of those teeth grinding commercials for yoghurt with that pussycat woman features a cover of this Motown classic. When will we be spared from sickly sweet, girly voiced acoustic renderings of dearly loved songs? Not any time soon it seems, as those evil marketing types are determined to affront our ears with wishy-washy covers whilst they hawk their product. Sigh.
Here’s Ruff with, for my money, the best version. Even better than the Jackson 5! I hear you exclaim in disbelief. Yeah. Even better. His raspy voice owns this, as he did with all those wonderful Temps tracks.
Track 2. Spreadin’ Honey by Charles Wright And The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
Staying on a souly funky tip, our second selection this week is a 1967 floor filler which started life as a specially commissioned theme tune for a local LA radio show. It went on to become a big R&b hit and the first of many for Wright who went on to pen ‘Express Yourself’, probably their best known cut.
Track 3. Fallin’ Rain by Karl Blau.
Blau has been around for twenty years now, so how is it he has managed to escape my radar for this long? This brand new track is absolutely beautiful. A sumptuous ten minute cover of a 1971 Link Wray tune which had me in bits on a rain sodden M25 the other day. I really can’t get enough of it and can’t wait to get my teeth into his back catalogue.
Track 4. All Of The Time by The Sufis.
Starts like ‘Revolver’ era Beatles, ends up like early Pink Floyd. It’s as if these boys have time travelled to 1966 and not bothered setting the coordinates for any other dimension. Fair play to them, they’ve nailed the sound of that time perfectly.
Track 5. Meet Me At The Milky Way by Soft Hearted Scientists.
Esoteric psychedelia from Cardiff next. SHS are very much underappreciated but there’s lots to love in their patented brand of brit-psych. This is quite an accessible taster.
Track 6. DNA by Lovespeake.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
This week, the man with the apostrophe has gone for something brand new from Norway. This is the first release from their debut LP which dropped today (Friday 22nd April). Easy, eighties vibe to this which I imagine would be difficult to stay still to when experienced live.
Track 7. 50 Rivers by Tatsuhiko Asano.
Little known outside his native Japan, Asano has been releasing beautiful, experimental pieces for years now. This comes from his 2001 album ‘Genny Haniver’.
Track 8. Leave My Kitten Alone by The Micragirls.
Back to Europe next with Finnish all-girl garage rock band The Micragirls. Similar in style to the legendary Shonen Knife and the 5,6,7,8’s, this 2006 release is a fun, frantic buzz which gets its business done in an economical two minutes.
Track 9. There’s A Light by Shirley Ann Lee.
Another two minuter up next although the style couldn’t be any more different. Shirley Ann was formerly part of a gospel trio with disco queen Candi Staton. This is one of only eight spiritual tracks she recorded as a solo artist in the sixties. Now, I’m not in the slightest bit religious but music like this can fill that hole, despite the subject matter. Lord have mercy!
Track 10. Obvious Conclusion by Bob Dorough.
Probably best known for ‘Three Is The Magic Number’, Dorough has had a long and varied career. He has played with the greats, from being the only vocalist to ever work with Miles Davis to arranging revue’s for Sugar Ray Robinson. This jazz-flute heavy piece also showcases his redoubtable skills as a pianist. Groovy, man.
Track 11. Come On Home by Everything But The Girl.
I’m not the biggest authority on EBTG’s work, but their third album 1986’s ‘Baby, The Stars Shine Bright’ is magnificent from start to finish. The heartbreak ballads of their early output are still there, but this time around they’re backed by big, lush orchestration. Nowhere is this more evident than on this, the LP’s opener. Horns, strings and a choir all swell magnificently and I’ve always loved the line ‘Every day’s like Christmas day without you, it’s cold and there’s nothing to do’. I recently tweeted Ben and Tracey enquiring about the possibility of a 30 year anniversary show for the album, but it’s fallen on deaf ears.
Track 12. Jesus Christ by The Longpigs.
The Longpigs were always a cut above your typical Britpop fodder. Largely in part to their lead guitarist, one Mr. Richard Hawley. Listen to the way he fights his instrument on this, a stand out from their debut album ‘The Sun Is Often Out’. That’s not to take anything away from lead singer Crispin Hunt who’s anguished vocal style also helped to elevate the Sheffield outfit above their mid-nineties peers.
Track 13. Night Creature by The Runaway.
I’ve absolutely zero information on this next track. All I know from what I can hear, is that it’s obviously an early sixties guitar stomper which wouldn’t be out of place on a teen-scream b-feature.
Track 14. Love Is Free by Stoneface And Life Everlasting.
“Stoneface” Iwuagwu was a veteran of many top Eastern Nigerian bands before he assembled some local teens who became the Life Everlasting.
Not having the financing to purchase all the necessary gear, they used instruments made by local carpenters and had amps and pedals built by their good friend and electronics guru Goddy Oku. They recorded their first single, ‘Love is Free’ in Lagos. The record was a hit and they went on to record another single, ‘Everyday’ and as the story goes, Stoneface ‘thinks they may have recorded a third single, but he can’t remember what it might have been called.’
Track 15. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka.
Kiwanuka was the winner of the poisoned chalice that is the BBC’s ‘Sound Of…’ award in 2012. After the release of his well received debut album ‘Home Again’, he quietly disappeared. Well now he’s back with his follow up LP due to drop next month and this is the title track to it. With a beautifully rounded sound courtesy of the production of Dangermouse, it’s a fine return.
Track 16. Time To Get Down by The O’Jays.
Taken from their 1972 LP ‘Backstabbers’, an album now rightly regarded as ‘the pinnacle of Philly soul’. This is another Gamble and Huff belter.
Track 17. Sunday Afternoon by Jonathan Richman.
This weeks cover star has been in the business for almost 50 years but is still probably best known for that one hit ‘Roadrunner’. His influence is palpable, indeed Jens Lekman owes him a huge debt, he almost comes across as a Scandinavian tribute act! Here we find Jonathan in the romantic mood we’ve come to associate him with. A short instrumental piece with his distinctive guitar style conveying a lazy, sunny pm on the Sabbath.
Track 18. Can’t Find My Way Home by Ellen McIlwaine.
There’s been numerous covers of this song which is Stevie Winwood’s finest hour in my opinion. This one comes from slide guitar genius Ellen McIlwaine and featured on her 1972 album ‘Honky Tonk Angel’.
Track 19. Powerhouse by Raymond Scott.
The second theme of this 1937 instrumental will be familiar to Warner Bros cartoon fans as the ‘assembly line’ music utilised in many of their Looney Tunes features. Just imagine Daffy Duck getting mangled by various cogs and hammers in an Acme factory and you’re there.
Track 20. Just Be True by Gene Chandler.
Winding things up this week is our traditional soul slowie from the Duke Of Earl himself. This 1964 release was his second biggest hit after D.O.E. and showcases that wonderful voice. If you ask me, I’d say he was up there with Sam Cooke and Smokey in the golden tonsils division.
So, here endeth your twenty slices of daily bread for this week. Join us next time for another portion with nowt taken out. Spread the word like butter.
Until then, shine on, you crazy diamond.
STOP PRESS. This playblog was compiled and written before the terrible news of Prince’s passing. Full tribute will be paid next week.