Hullo. Well, our big return last week saw a dip in readership from previous editions of NL. After building a keen following in the past few months it seems some of you have forgotten all about the playlist that lives to give. I’m assuming everyone was out and about enjoying the high summer, who can blame you? Enjoy it while it lasts as the cold hand of winter draws ever nearer.
Some good news however, is that along with our core UK followers we had readers dipping in from Norway, Poland, The U.S. and Greece (Hello and Welcome, Nick). We’re truly an international family!
Ok, on with business. Another mixed bag of tricks this week as always. There’s something for everyone including of course, Paulo’s Pick Of The Week. My very good friend, bandmate and Grade 7 Bassoonist has come up with a sound which is new to me. I do so love it when he educates, informs and entertains..
Alright then, let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on..
Track 1. Law Of The Land by The Undisputed Truth.
We begin with this 1973 album title track from minor Motown group The Undisputed Truth. Psychedelic soul pioneer and producer Norman Whitfield used the act as a testing ground for songs which would then be passed to The Temptations to make big hits of. They were the first to record ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ and indeed, this particular track bears more than a passing resemblance to the magnificent Temps smash ‘Cloud 9’. They eventually morphed into an inevitable disco act before disbanding in 1979.
Track 2. If I’m Unworthy by Blake Mills.
Probably best known for his work with singer and songwriter Fiona Apple, Mills has also collaborated with artists including Neil Diamond, Lucinda Williams, Julian Casablancas and Conor Oberst. He’s no slouch as a performer either, dubbed a ‘Phenomenal’ guitarist by no less than Eric Clapton himself. This is backed up on the below live version of this 2014 track which I’ve gone for, the man certainly knows his way around a plank of wood. Please also check out the studio version though, beguiling stuff.
Track 3. Nador by Les Variations.
French Rock band Les Variations up next with the instrumental title track from their 1969 debut. They counted one F.R David among their throng who later went on to have a worldwide hit with the sappy ‘Words (Don’t Come Easy)’ in the early eighties. Don’t worry, this couldn’t be any more different, acoustic gorgeousness which has elements of the bands North African heritage.
Track 4. Lord Morocco by Ginger Johnson And His African Messengers.
Speaking of North Africa..In title only mind you, Johnson actually hailed from Nigeria. He became a well known counter culture figure on the swinging sixties London scene performing with Georgie Fame, Brian Auger, Long John Baldry, Graham Bond, Hawkwind, Genesis, and Elton John as well as appearing at the famous Stones’ Hyde park concert.
Track 5. Shake Off The Demon by Brewer And Shipley.
This is the title track from the duo’s fourth LP released in 1971. It features some stellar slide guitar work from John Cipollina, guitarist and founder of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Incorrect title on the vid below. Divs.
Track 6. Do You Believe by Supreme Jubilees.
It’s been a while since I featured a release from the superb archive record label, Light In The Attic. Let’s put that right with this relaxed slab of gospel soul, re- released by L.I.T.A last year, it has a classic Californian soul sound which belies it’s relatively late 1981 release date.
Track 7. Someday by Middle Brother.
Up next we have a smashing piece of harmony heavy pop-rock from five years back. Middle Brother are an American three piece who to date have only released one album to mass indifference. They really should be bigger than they are, superb songwriting that has a great deal in common with Ezra Furman, right down to the impassioned lead vocal.
Track 8. Jade Lake by Pierre Ralph.
Taken from the soundtrack to 1972 French horror flick ‘Requiem Pour Un Vampire’, this is a gentle, atmospheric piece. I haven’t seen the film but I imagine it to be playing softly as a scantily dressed, nineteenth century Gallic strumpet frolics by the titular body of water…
Track 9. On The Streets by John Kongos.
South African singer and songwriter Kongos is probably best known for his 1971 top 10 single, ‘He’s Gonna Step on You Again’, on which Happy Mondays based their hit ‘Step On’. This piece of library music is a synth and guitar heavy instrumental which I can only gather he knocked off to pay the rent. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable though, with shades of the great William Onyeabor. No vid..
Track 10. Life Could Be A Dream by Holy Sons.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
It seems I’m late to the party with PPOTW this week. Emil Amos has been releasing records since 2000 with eleven LP’s under his belt. This is my first experience of his music and comes from album number 10, 2014’s ‘The Fact Facer’. On the strength of this track, I’ll definitely be going back to see what I’ve been missing out on. Cheers Paulo
Track 11. Star Sail by Verve.
Notice the absence of ‘The’. Yes, this is how I want to remember them, and that is what I shall always call them. Man they were some band back then. McCabe’s guitar shining instead of strumming dull riffs. Ashcroft at his ‘Mad Richard’ bonkers best instead of lazily peddling lyrical cliches. ‘A Storm In Heaven’ will always be one of the great debuts, ‘A Northern Soul’ one of the great sophomore LP’s, the rest that followed? Meh. I’ll stick with these, ta,
Track 12. Everybody’s Gone by Senseless Things.
These pop punk rowdies had a cracking run of singles in 1991, this being the first. The then crusty type me devoured them all. Great fun live, you were guaranteed to emerge from the mosh pit with at least one superficial injury. Their record sleeves were designed by comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, later to create Tank Girl and cartoon band Gorrilaz with Damon Albarn.
Track 13. You Are What You Do by Lee Michaels.
A hammond organ virtuoso, Michaels scored a U.S Top 10 hit with his 1971 single ‘Do You Know What I Mean?’. This early blue eyed soul track comes from the LP which followed, aptly titled ‘5th’ as it was LP No. 5 from the Californian
Track 14. Rachel by The Wedding Present.
Brand new track from The Weddoes up next. Gedge is in romantic mood here, a touching love song with a lyric about skimming stones, stroking hair and guitars ‘playing our song’, all backed up by Dave’s still growly, but tempered stratocaster.
Track 15. Mas Que Nada by Oscar Peterson.
And with all that sporty business going on in Rio, why not? The temptation was to go for the well known Sérgio Mendes version, overused but still marvellous. Instead I’ve gone for O.P and a lesser known take from his 1966 LP ‘Soul Español’.
Track 16. Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do (Part 2) by Frank Stokes.
This cut from 1928 comes from an artist many musicologists consider the father of the Memphis blues guitar style. I also urge you to check out Bessie Smith’s 1922 version, slowed down and backed by piano, it’s intriguing to compare and contrast the female/male perspectives on the same song.
Track 17. Pattern Of The North by Rival Consoles.
We jump forward almost ninety years with our next track released just last week. Ryan West made the conscious decision to move away from digital for this release and it pays off. There’s a heart to the warmth of these old synths, the beginning few bars reminiscent of Townshend’s experiments with the instrument on ‘Baba O’ Riley’. The similarities end there however as the piece develops into a modern day electronica symphony.
Track 18. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)- Stack-o-Vocals Version by The Beach Boys.
Brian Wilson recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Pet Sounds by taking to the road and performing the much feted LP in its entirety. I missed out on those shows so I was delighted when he announced one final performance at the Albert Hall in October. To hear these ‘Teenage Symphonies To God’ in a venue dedicated to the love of one man will be an intensely emotional experience for me. I’m sure I’ve bored you before with my love of The B’B’s, an act I was completely obsessed with in my teens and early twenties, and still love today. Indeed, my dog is named Wilson after the brothers. Everyone must be familiar with every second of the LP so I’ve plumped for this almost acapella version of one of my favourites from the album, Brian’s double tracked vocal punctuated only by that gorgeous, mournful string break with the timpani ‘Heartbeats’. Roll on October…
Track 19. The Right Thing To Do by Carly Simon.
Cover star time with a song which again, should be familiar to everyone. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t merit inclusion on our playlist. These songs are well known for a reason, that being they are ace.
Track 20. All Along I’ve Loved You by Tony Ashley And The Delicates.
The trouble with discovering lost soul gems like these is there is very little information out there to shine a light on exactly who the artists are. From what I can gather, our Soul slowie closer this week comes from 1967 and a man who turned down the chance to work with James Brown for fear of not getting paid. What I do know is that this is a lovely piece of Memphis soul, the backing girls slightly high in the mix giving it a rough demo feel, but more heart.
And so, that’s another week done and dusted. Thanks for staying with us if you have, if not, come back! We still love you and you can have our last rolo.
Also, if you haven’t already, please join the facebook group here. It’s a lovely place, with lovely people sharing lovely music. Lovely.
Same time, same place next week then, yeah?
Until then, free your mind and your ass will follow.