Hullo. Welcome once again to the playlist and blog that aims to put a spring in your step, pep in your pipe and vim in your vimto. This is the last one for a while as I am off on my holidays for a fortnight so savour it. If you feel you’re missing your weekly prescription, all previous 36 editions are available under my spotify account. Why not have a look back at some early editions? Every one’s a pearler!
As promised/forewarned last week, there’s a couple of unusual picks this week that may not be for everyone, but please give them a go, life’s not all about three minute pop songs you know..
Of course, Paulo’s Pick Of The Week is also here. This week, my very good friend, bandmate and president of the Reg Varney appreciation society has gone for a legend who left us far too soon..
Ok, Let’s go crazy, let’s get nuts..
Track 1. Summer Music by Advance Base.
We begin with former ‘Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’ man, Owen Ashworth and his solo outing from four years back. A sun kissed, almost melancholy ode to lost love, it has a pleasingly simple throwaway lyric which still has some great lines such as ‘It was hazy and 70, And her in a summer dress. Half a beer and her hair a mess’.
Track 2. Crosswind by Billy Cobham.
Cited as ‘The greatest fusion drummer of all time’, Cobham began his career in the US army before joining Miles Davis in the late sixties. He then went on to a solo career as band leader, releasing albums pretty much every year since his debut, 1973’s ‘Spectrum’. This is the title track from the following years sophomore release.
Track 3. Sleep A Million Years by Kathy Heideman.
I came to this next track through psych-folk band Vetiver, who covered it a few years ago. Heideman is something of an enigma, she recorded just the one album, 1971’s ‘Move With Love’ then promptly disappeared. Nobody knows who played on the album or what happened to her afterwards, it all adds to the mystery of this Californian country rock oddity. It’s so freaking rare, there’s no video.
Track 4. Medicine Chest Dub by Prince Fatty.
Premium, modern day dub which was released in 2014. This is taken from the ‘In The Kingdom Of Dub’ LP which was a project from Mike Pelanconi, using analogue techniques to replicate the original seventies dub sound of his hero, and the man he jokingly christened himself after, King Tubby.
Track 5. Single File by Elliott Smith.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
The welcome return of Mr Smith, who I could quite happily feature every week. Mr D’Cruz has plumped for a track from his second, self titled LP from 1995. There was no great leap from the previous years debut ‘Roman Candle’, dark melancholic meditations on drug use but still backed by his uncanny knack with a melody. He would go on to produce more fully realised and orchestrated albums, but these early songs shine a light on the darkness that plagued him until his untimely death just eight years later.
Track 6. Sunshower by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band.
1976 LP track from the short-lived, Bronx based big band/disco outfit. It’s been sampled by lots of hip hop acts since including A Tribe Called Quest, M.I.A., Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, and Doug E. Fresh.
Track 7. Walk Tall by Esther Marrow.
Queen Esther Marrow was discovered by Duke Ellington at the age of 22. She went on to forge a career as a powerful soul and gospel singer whilst also becoming heavily involved with the civil rights movement. This 1971 single espouses those values and is also a stone groove to boot.
Track 8. Spectacular by Graham Coxon.
The opening track from the Blur guitarists fifth album from 2004, this is a blistering start to what is probably his best solo outing. Coxon virtually throttles his instrument on the second solo producing some wonderful noises.
Track 9. In Your Bed by Bat For Lashes.
I must admit, I’ve been immune to the charms of Natasha Khan until her recently released concept album ‘The Bride’ caught my attention. As she explained the story behind the LP on the radio, my interest was piqued enough to give the full album a spin. It’s a lovely piece of work, it’s themes of love, loss and redemption are beautifully presented, particularly on this, the albums closing track.
Track 10. Jellyfish by Paws.
Glaswegian pop rock band Paws have released three LP’s since their formation in 2010. This is a single from their debut, 2012’s ‘Cokefloat!’ and it’s a stomping guitar heavy two and a half minutes of youthful joy.
Track 11. Hana by Asa-Chang and Junray.
And so to one of the aforementioned ‘unusual picks’ featured this week. An unsettling piece from Japanese percussionist Asa-Chang built around a string sample from an old Sade track. It certainly gave me a strange feeling when I first heard it on John Peels show about fifteen years ago and still does. I appreciate this isn’t for everyone, but once heard it stays with you. Trust me.
Track 12. White Love by One Dove.
I was all over this on its release in 1993. I bought it on cassette single and it subsequently found itself firmly lodged in my walkman for at least a month or so, sound-tracking my commute to and from work. Believe me, it helped make a mundane job even more unimportant, it’s blissful vibes transporting me to a better place.
Track 13. Bergschrund by DJ Shadow feat Nils Frahm.
This comes from DJS’s brand new LP and features the talents of one of my favourite musicians of recent years, German composer and pianist Nils Frahm. Not that you can really pick him out on this cut mind, his Synth line almost smothered by Shadow’s beats and bleeps. Still great though…
Track 14. Big Fat Mama by Four Vagabonds.
Next, we travel back seventy five years with a vocal harmony group very much in the vein of The Ink Spots and The Mills Brothers. A short, humorous song extolling the virtues of the larger lady.
Track 15. Fire Season by The Revival Hour.
Taken from their 2012 ‘Clusterchord’ EP. This is a drum laden psych instrumental with a few lines of lyric towards the end. Atmospheric, trippy goodness from The NYC duo.
Track 16. Sister Brother by F.J McMahon.
Another lost classic. F.J Mcmahon released just one record in 1969, his LP ‘Spirit Of The Golden Juice’. Strange name, but as McMahon later explained, “The song “Spirit Of The Golden Juice” is about my experiences in Vietnam, Thailand and the PI. The “golden juice” is I.W. Harper bourbon which was the fuel of the times.” So a Vietnam vet comes home, records an album of thoughtful lo-fi folk and is consequently ignored. America, you really were a shithouse to these men. Anyway, thankfully the record has gained new fans in the past ten years or so, vinyl re-pressings selling out quickly. Just a shame F.J. had to wait over forty years for some recognition.
Track 17. Some Of Shelly’s Blues by The Stone Poneys.
This Michael Nesmith penned track was featured on our cover stars’ third and final album, 1968’s ‘Vol iii’. Lead singer Linda Ronstadt had some success with another tune from the one with the hat, the classic ‘Different Drum’ the previous year but I’ve always held great affection for this song since I first heard it on Nesmith’s 1973 album, ‘Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash’. Linda went on to become one of the most successful female singers of the following decade with platinum albums a regular occurrence and sold out shows the norm. She carried on with this success until announcing her retirement in 2011. Tragically, just two years later she was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and can now ‘No longer sing a note’. Thankfully we still have songs like this to appreciate those golden tones, and photo’s like the one up the top there to remember the beautiful young woman she was.
Track 18. Slow Motion Blackbird by Chris Hughes.
And so, to our second ‘challenging sound’ of the week. I’ll refer to producer Paul Ridout for an explanation of the piece:
“In September 1967 Steve Reich wrote the score for ‘Slow Motion Sound’:-
“Very gradually slow down a recorded sound to many times its original length without changing its pitch or timbre at all”. He later remarked (1974) that it had remained a concept on paper because it was technologically impossible to realise.
By 1994 the technology had evolved thus allowing Chris and I to add this piece, along with Pendulum Music, to the collection that is ‘Shift’.
Reich’s intention had been to use a recording of children learning by rote. We referenced that with our recording of a violinist learning a blackbird’s song. The original violin phrase which doubles the blackbird’s song was played by Stuart Gordon, but, to this day the blackbird remains anonymous.”
So there you go. Enjoy.
Track 19. Come And Get Your Love by Redbone.
I’m not the biggest fan of superhero movies, they’ve been like shit on a field in recent years and are generally formulaic claptrap. I did, however acquiesce to watch ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ the other day and enjoyed it immensely, thanks in no small part to it’s excellent soundtrack which includes this 1974 hit from Native American band Redbone.
Track 20. Lovin’ You by The Gifts.
Soul slowie closer time. This week’s is a 1966 obscurity that’s virtually a rip off of Smokie’s ‘Ooh, Baby Baby’, but if you’re going to plagiarise, make sure it’s the absolute best.
Ok, alright, ok then…That’s it for a fortnight. I’m off to enjoy music festivals, family time and plenty of r’n’r. Look after yourselves and I’ll hopefully catch you on the flip with some more quality picks and sub standard writing.
Until then, Dance Yrself Clean.