Hullo. We is 30. That’s 600 tunes old. Enough to keep your ears entertained for over 24 hours. Might try that when i’ve got a day spare actually. As an experiment, you know. See what happens..
The predicted dip in readership occurred last week, although we still fared better than more recent playlists. I can only assume you were all out having lives and that.
This weeks PPOTW is one of the Don’s typically grizzled efforts. My very good friend, bandmate and heir to the Tunnocks tea cake empire just keeps knocking ’em out the park.
Ok. The vengabus is coming, and everyone is jumping..
Track 1. Golden Days by Whitney.
The label Secretly Canadian is usually a barometer of excellent taste, and this platter which was released in March keeps that needle at a pleasing ‘very dry’. Lovely slacker folk that would make Stephen Malkmus proud, it has a relaxed vibe that made me smile when I first heard it on a Monday morning drive down the M1 at 5:30 a.m. If it can do that, it might just end all war too.
Track 2. Calypso Rock by Original Tropicana Steel Band.
Our first of a clutch of instrumentals featured this week has steel drums and break beats. What’s not to love?
Track 3. As We Do Our Thing by The Allergies.
More breaks? Go on then..This is the title track from the debut of Bristolian duo DJ Moneyshot and Rackabeat. Released just last week, it’s crammed with up-tempo, cut and paste floor fillers such as this. Twenty first century soul at it’s finest, their live shows are apparently party time central.
Track 4. Yama Yama by Yamasuki.
Even more breaks? Well, if you insist. This 1971 track was featured over the opening credits of season two of the excellent ‘Fargo’ tv series. Despite it’s oriental stylings, it’s actually the work of French musician Daniel Vangarde who later went on to pen ‘Cuba’ for The Gibson Brothers and D.I.S.C.O for Ottowan. He’s also the father of Thomas Bangalter, one half of Daft Punk. Sir, you have given us endless joy. Salut!
Track 5. Boogie Man by The Crystal Mansion.
I initially wanted their version of
‘The Thought Of Loving You’, a pop masterpiece from 1967 but, as we’ll see, I had to plump for an alternate group as it was unavailable on Spotify. Anyway, in my search I happened upon this 1971 track which is a world away from the sunshine pop they were plying just a few years previously. White boy funk with some superb organ and guitar work and yes, yet more breaks. A happy accident that proves when you dig, you can unearth treasure.
Track 6. The Thought Of Loving You by The Spiral Staircase.
And here is the very song I was searching for. Also covered by Sonny & Cher and Manhattan Transfer, this 1969 version by The Spiral Staircase is elevated to greatness by lead singer Pat Upton’s fantastic vocal performance. It’s been my default ear-worm for weeks now and just had to make an appearance in one way or another. Again, I’m happy I stumbled upon this take, but if you get the chance, have a listen to The Crystal Mansion’s effort too.
Track 7. One More Time by Psychic Ills.
Experimental rock from NYC next. Psychic Ills have been making velvets type psychedelia for the past ten years now. This comes from their 4th album released in 2013 and has a spaceman 3 air about it.
Track 8. I’ve Lived The Life by Marva W. Taylor.
Christened by James Brown as ‘Soul Sister #1’, Marva Whitney Taylor possessed a raw, pure funk voice that’s showcased here on this 1974 single. Listen to that note she holds from about 2m 32s. Silk.
Track 9. E.V.A. By Jean Jacques Perrey.
One of the godfathers of electronic music, Perrey was an early advocate of the synthesisers predecessor, the ondioline. He took up the moog in the mid sixties and proceeded to release playful, experimental tracks such as this familiar piece from 1970. It’s since been sampled by various hip hop artists and used in multiple tv shows and ads.
Track 10. African Kings by Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra.
With a sound and style clearly based on Fela Kuti, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this as classic seventies afrobeat. They’re actually current and based in God’s own city, Leeds. Check those horns. ‘I’m not a BUSHMAN!’.
Track 11. Evening by TOPS.
From modern day afrobeat to Canadian indie rock, just another clunking gear change at NL. If you want smooth continuation, I suggest you look elsewhere. This comes from their 2012 debut album ‘Tender Opposites’ and features a Sarah Cracknell type female lead vocal over a pretty guitar figure.
Track 12. Town Called Distraction by Sauna Youth.
An epic, ten minute track written in one chord with a boy/girl narrative. This dominated their debut LP ‘Dreamlands’ released two years ago. Sauna Youth are also the band ‘Monotony’, featuring the same members, but everyone swaps instruments. Experiments like these are refreshing to see from such a young band.
Track 13. One Of These Days by Ten Years After.
This comes from their sixth album, 1971’s ‘A Space In Time’ the biggest selling LP from this British blues band. A very much of its time number, you can almost smell the beer, ‘herbal’ cigarette smoke and patchouli. Don that double denim and shake what hair you’ve got.
Track 14. Sparrow by Woodpecker Wooliams.
Gemma Williams has since announced the ‘death’ of this project but her 2012 album ‘The Bird School of Being Human’ will probably prove hard to shake off. Each track is named after a bird but don’t expect cutesy anthropomorphism, the creepy electronic instrumentation and subject matters such as domestic violence soon banish any Disney expectations.
Track 15. Shed Your Head by Blake Mills.
This instrumental comes from the guitarists second solo album, 2014’s ‘Heigh Ho’. A slidey, percussiony piece, imagine if the great Vini Reilly was from Nashville.
Track 16. Every Little Hair Knows Your Name by Jens Lekman.
I was lucky enough to see this weeks cover star at Holy Trinity church in Leeds some years ago. The acoustics in that old building lifted the melancholy tones of the Swedish Songsmith to new heights and with a respectful, attentive audience it made for a memorable evening. Here, we find him in typical romantic mood with the closing track from his last album to date, 2012’s ‘I Know What Love Isn’t’.
Track 17. Sun Zoom Spark by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK ****
I must admit, I was a latecomer to the wild and crazy world of the captain but, always be willing to take the chance on acts you’ve previously dismissed. There’s a reason they are fêted and PPOTW demonstrates exactly why. Who knows, there may come a day when I begin to ‘get’ Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Frank Zappa. Maybe not Zappa..
Track 18. Suavecito by Malo.
It was the comedian Jerry Seinfeld who described the next track thus: ‘It sounds like a summers day’. Originating from a poem the timbales player wrote for a girl in his high school algebra class, this Latin slice of summer from 1972 was their biggest hit.
Track 19. Starry Eyes by The Records.
This power pop combo rose from the ashes of pub rock band The Kursal Flyers. They went on to release a few albums before an acrimonious break up in the mid eighties. This is perhaps their best known song which has nods to The Kinks and Big Star. A forgotten gem.
Track 20. Teardrops by Willie Bollinger.
Our soul slowie this week is a previously unissued doo wop tinged release. Recorded in 1967 for a subsidiary of Chess records, it has a style more akin to songs ten years it’s senior and is a record Smokey could have written himself. Bollinger’s vocal wrings emotion from every word.
So, that’s our 30th over with, as we hurtle towards middle age, let’s not forget the follies of our care free youth.
More top pop picks, same time, same place, next week.
Until then, stay young and invincible.