Hullo. Thanks for joining us yet again for twenty hand picked tunes designed to make you think, sing, dance, laugh and cry. I think that’s all bases covered isn’t it?
Over on our dedicated Facebook page we had a theme night last Saturday which was an unqualified success. Members were invited to post their favourite cover versions and we had some real beauties shared. Massive thanks for all your contributions, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We’ll continue these theme nights maybe once a month, as soon as I can get a few hours on a Saturday night to get involved and think of another theme I’ll let you know. Suggestions are welcome of course. Drop me a message on the Facebook page, which incidentally, if you haven’t yet joined (Why Not?!) can be found Here.
Ok then, on with this weeks offerings which of course features Paulo’s Pick Of The Week in which my very good friend, bandmate and part owner of the racehorse ‘Jumpy Geoff’ has chosen a joyful noise.
Alright then, up up and away in my beautiful balloon..
Track 1. What Would I Want. Sky? by Animal Collective.
We begin with a welcome return for one of the most innovative bands of this still fairly new century. A couple of weeks ago I featured Panda Bear’s epic track ‘Bros’ and in doing so, mentioned that I prefer his voice to Avey Tare’s gruffer vocals. This was maybe a touch unfair. Avey takes the lead on this lead single from the ‘Fall Be Kind’ E.P which was released a few months after their breakthrough LP, ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’ and he captures the feel perfectly. Using the first officially sanctioned sample of a Grateful Dead track, this carried on the more pop influenced remit of the M.P.P LP before they buggered off to make the frankly nuts LP and film ODDSAC. You’ve got to admire an act that can toss off accessible, sing-a-long songs in-between more avant-garde offerings.
Track 2. Shilela by Hailu Mergia.
We featured Hailu Mergia back in July with Ethiopian funk outfit The Walias Band. Here he is on his own with a cut from his 1985 LP which is entirely self performed and produced, featuring just a drum machine, a Rhodes piano, a Yamaha DX7, and his accordion. It really is a unique sound, and even manages to make the accordion sound appealing. No mean feat.
Track 3. All I Want by Karin Krog.
Norwegian jazz singer Krog has had a long career stretching back to the mid fifties. A versatile artist, she has released countless LP’s in her fifty plus years either as a solo artist or with various duos, quartets and sextets. This particular track comes from her 1975 album ‘We Could Be Flying’ and is a poppy, smooth-jazz hybrid with a fantastically relaxed backing.
Track 4. Set In Negative by Talkingmakesnosense.
Glasgow based ambient drone artist Dominic Dixon goes under the moniker Talkingmakesnosense and this is a beautiful piece he released in 2012. There’s not much info on the web save for a sparse website and a twitter account which doesn’t really tell us much so I’ll just advise you that this is the sort of music in which to lose yourself completely for a few minutes. Give in to its soft caress and come out the other side cleansed.
Track 5. True Thrush by Dan Deacon.
We stay in 2012 for our next track from Long Island native Dan Deacon. This comes from his sixth studio album, ‘America’ and is a typical example of his contemporary electronic sound. Deacon is an artist who never stands still and refuses to tie himself down to any particular genre, he has at various points been a member of a ska band, played Tuba in a folk collective, played guitar for a grindcore band and has also released highly praised classical pieces. He also tours in a converted school bus that runs on vegetable oil. A true renaissance man.
Track 6. Shake Your Money Maker by Elmore James.
Next up we have the king of the slide guitar with what is probably his most famous tune. Cited as an influence to most of the guitar gods of the sixties including the big two, Clapton and Hendrix. The Stones’ Brian Jones was so in awe that according to Keith Richards he insisted on being called Elmo Lewis when they first met.
Track 7. Never Can Say Goodbye by The Jackson 5.
Like many of a certain age, this Clifton Davis penned song first came to my attention via The Communards Hi-NRG version released in 1987. I heard Gloria Gaynor’s disco take soon after that but it took another 15 years or so until I came across this original interpretation featuring a 12 year old Michael giving it his all. It quickly became my favourite of all three versions and never fails to have me singing along complete with all the Oohs.
Track 8. No More Blues (Crega De Sauade) by Jon Hendricks.
It’s been a few weeks since we had any Bossa on the playlist but rest assured, You’re never going to be too far away from the new sound. This time around I’ve gone for Jon Hendricks’ tribute to Jobim taken from his 1961 LP ‘¡Salud! João Gilberto, Originator of the Bossa Nova’. Jobim’s original version is considered to be the first recorded example of B.N. and Hendricks’ take has English wordplay that is quite faithful to the tune and meanings of the Portuguese lyric. Classy stuff.
Track 9. Magic Summertime by Benji Hughes.
This is the lead track from Hughes’ LP released earlier this year ‘Songs In The Key Of Animals’ and features his languid vocal over a driving rhythm that, as the title suggests, conjours up images of lazy, hazy summer days and nights. Oh how close but so far away those times seem as we get deeper into the year. Only six months of darkness to go Kids!
Track 10. Oogum Boogum Song by Brenton Wood.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
This is just an absolute Joy, it’s one of those records that makes you smile as soon as you hear the first twelve notes. Released just a few months before his biggest hit, the no less wonderful ‘Gimme Little Sign’, it has an easy soul feel that you want to hear again after it’s all too short two and a bit minutes is up. Former NL cover star Alex Chilton also does a cracking version but nothing touches Wood’s original for sheer feel good factor. Excellent work yet again from the Boy wonder, bravo Paulo, bravo.
Track 11. Boat To Nowhere by Anoushka Shankar.
Our cover star this week started playing the sitar at just seven years old, hardly surprising as her father is Ravi Shankar. She has been releasing records since she was sixteen years old and this track comes from her latest, ‘Land Of Gold’ which was released in April this year. It must be extremely difficult to step out of the shadow of a presence such as her Dad. Indeed, I felt compelled to mention his name in the opening sentence there, but Anoushka has forged her own path whilst still celebrating her late father’s legacy. Her individual approach can be heard on this gorgeous, folky track.
Track 12. Just A Pretty Song by The Peddlers.
This British Jazz/soul trio have been a favourite of mine since I was introduced to them by my good friend, guitar legend and raconteur Neil Winspear in the late nineties. They had moderate success in the late sixties and early seventies with a clutch of singles that bothered the lower reaches of the UK chart and earned some latter day recognition when their take on ‘On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever’ was featured in an episode of Breaking Bad. This track comes from their 1968 LP ‘Three In A Cell’ and features their leader and keyboardist Roy Phillips and his distinctive voice which my other good friend, guitar legend and raconteur James Dryden would describe as ‘Having a mouth full of bread’.
Track 13. A Descent Into The Maelstrom by Buddy Morrow And His Orchestra.
With Halloween just a few weeks away. it’s time to ramp up the fear factor. As you’d expect, we’re not going to wheel out ‘Ghostbusters’, so here’s something a touch more esoteric. This is taken from the legendary trombonist and band leader’s 1961 LP ‘Poe For Moderns’ in which he took the opportunity to roll out a whole album’s worth of haunted melodies using the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Spooky, man. Well, about as spooky as a big band can get.
Track 14, The Beatles by Daniel Johnston.
I couldn’t begin to cover Daniel’s amazing story in just a few sentences so I’ll just point you in the direction of the excellent 2005 bio-doc ‘The Devil And Daniel Johnston’, a must watch. The track I’ve included on the playlist this week is a re-recording from his 2006 LP ‘Lost And Found’ but I’ve also posted the original take from 1983 below for you to compare and contrast.
Track 15. Up So Fast by Young Man.
Colin Caulfield, aka Young Man released the ‘Boy’ EP in 2010 and it became lodged in my ears for a good few months after the very first listen. A paean to growing up and all the joy and confusion therein, these seven songs showed great promise with their relaxed loops and subtle guitar lines. Unfortunately he dissolved the project a couple of years back and can now be found playing keyboards with indie-rock darlings DIIV.
Track 16. Souvenirs by Devendra Banhart.
Banhart released his ninth studio album just last week and it contains more of his vibrato voiced meanderings including this freak folk love song. A slightly skew-whiff guitar and keyboard backs this typically cryptic tale of normal lives.
Track 17. Theme From Dirty Harry by The James Taylor Quartet.
JTQ’s stab at Lalo Schifrin’s main score for the iconic 1971 thriller doesn’t break any new ground but is a quite faithful cover of the psych-jazz piece which backed Clint Eastwood’s San Francisco based hard nut. Hard to believe, but JTQ have been a going concern for almost thirty years now and are still a wonderful live experience and for my money are the best Jazz-funk-dance outfit the UK has produced.
Track 18. Helpless by Kim Weston.
Motown gold next with a 1966 single release from an artist who is probably best known for her duet with Marvin Gaye, ‘It Takes Two’. This Holland, Dozier, Holland penned track was originally recorded by The Four Tops who featured it on their second album with a harder edge to it than Weston’s softer, Northern style take. Both are sheer brilliance of course, Kim’s version makes it here as The Tops are penciled in for next weeks playlist.
Track 19. A 1000 Times by Hamilton Leithauser And Rostam.
This is the new project of former Walkmen frontman Leithauser and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. I was a big fan of The Walkmen. Like most, the pained vocal delivery on one of the singles of the past 15 years, ‘The Rat’, made me sit up and listen immediately. Leithauser’s voice has that unaffected, gravelly scratchiness to it that is firmly rooted in classic Rock n Roll but remains contemporary. It’s still at the forefront of this new project, and when you have an instrument as unique as that, you’d be daft not to utilise it to maximum effect.
Track 20. I Guess That Don’t Make Me A Loser by The Brothers Of Soul.
Soul Slowie closer time, and this week it’s a 1968 track from a Detroit vocal trio composed of Fred Bridges, Richard Knight, and Bobby Eaton, who released several singles in a smooth, uptown, Motown-derived vein. They were relatively short lived and this was their biggest hit, reaching No.38 on the R&B charts. It has since become highly collectable among smooth soul aficionados.
That wraps things up for another week. Hope you’ve taken away at least one new love, and if not, don’t worry your pretty little heads, there’ll be another twenty tunes to woo you next week. So I’ll see you then. Don’t be late. And wear something nice. We’re going dancing.
Until then, take a load off Fanny/Annie/Whatever..