Hullo. Our first birthday is approaching in the next couple of weeks and I have a bumper playlist planned. I won’t give away the full details just yet, Birthdays are all about surprises after all, but I’ll give you a heads up and tell you to look out for NL No.50. It’s a nice round number and it almost ties in with the date I started compiling these lists of play.
Anyways, we’ve got two more lists to get through before then, starting with numbero forty eight-o, which You’re reading now. Twenty more tracks of varying brilliance including, of course Paulo’s Pick Of The Week. This time around my very good friend, bandmate and ex-member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood has chosen an artist who has already graced the playlist twice before.
Well, alright then, let’s get this party started right.
Track 1. Reality by Black Merda.
These Detroit funksters evolved from sixties R&B group Soul Agents who were Edwin Starr’s backing band in the late sixties, they can be heard on his two big singles ‘Twenty Five Miles To Go’ and ‘War’ (huh!). Adapting their sound with a harder politically charged psych edge, they were signed to Chess who released the self titled debut LP in 1970 from which this selection comes. A follow up record emerged in ’72 but the band split soon after before reforming around ten years ago.
Track 2. Loving You by Matt Costa.
This kicks off with a gorgeous string quartet before a premium pop song bursts forth. Soaked with his Native Californian sunshine, this has lots to love and will stay stuck in your noggin for weeks after just one listen. Let it move in, sleep on your sofa, eat your cereal and use all your internet bandwidth. I bet you miss it when it moves on to another gaff.
Track 3. Bernadette by The Four Tops.
This 1967 Tops classic was released in-between ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love’ and ‘Seven Rooms Of Gloom’. If there’s a finer trio of singles out there, it’s news to me. Levi Stubbs possessed one of those classic, pleading Baritones that punches you right in the gut and along with The Temptations’ David Ruffin, Motown had two voices that could deliver those Holland,Dozier,Holland songs with every ounce of passion and drive that was intended. Just listen to that false ending before Levi’s cry of ‘Bernadette!’. Pure magic.
Track 4. Fleur Tropicale by Francis Bebey.
Cameroonian artist, writer and musician Bebey released over twenty albums in his career, mostly based around the Makossa style with bold experimental instrumentation, blending traditional African instruments with primitive synths. This is a prime example of his craft.
Track 5. High Notes by La Sera.
I was never a fan of The Smiths having never understood the fawning adoration of the Sausage avoiding lead singer. This never stopped me admiring the music created by the other three. In fact, with a different frontman/woman they would have probably been one of my favourite bands. I mention this as this cut from La Sera could easily have been composed by Johnny Marr. Thankfully we have the far lovelier tones of Katy Goodman fronting this countrified single which comes from their latest LP ‘Music For Listening To Music To’.
Track 6. All I Think About Now by The Pixies.
This comes from The Pixies brand new album released just last month and is a thank you letter/apology from Black Francis to their former bass player and founder member Kim Deal. Current bassist Paz Lenchantin takes on lead vocal duties on this song which has a ‘Where Is My Mind’ feel complete with the ‘Oohs’ Kim used to do so well.
Track 7. Only Waiting by The Magic Gang.
This Brighton four piece are straight out of the wrapper, this track being the title cut from their second E.P. released just last week. They already sound like they’ve been around for years with their confident breezy style that throws up surprisingly infectious hooks and harmonies. Props to the band for including the title of the worlds greatest blog and playlist series in the lyric too. I expect great things of this lot and hope they can keep up this early promise.
Track 8. The Halfwit In Me by Ryley Walker.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
As I mentioned in the intro, this is Ryley Walker’s third appearance on the playlist but the first time Mr D’Cruz has opted to feature one of his tunes. He’s really growing on me, this lad. Exceptionally talented, his songwriting and guitar playing are reminiscent of the early seventies folk troubadours whilst remaining contemporary. I’ve included a live performance of the song below so you can appreciate and marvel at his delicate finger-picking.
Track 9. Sunset by Jackie Lomax.
Our cover star this week is an artist who was signed to The Beatles Apple label in 1967. A fellow Liverpudlian, Lomax was a member of The Undertakers who had limited success in the early sixties before he was initially signed as an in house songwriter which led to George Harrison offering to produce a solo LP. The fruits of this labour featured an all star cast including Harrison himself as well as fellow Wackers, McCartney and Starr alongside Eric Clapton, The Wrecking Crew, Klaus Voorman and Billy Preston. Despite the involvement of the cream of the crop, the album had poor sales and Lomax left the label soon after. He went on to release sporadic LP’s and continued to perform up until his death in 2013.
Track 10. Absolute Beginners by David Bowie.
The thin white duke’s mid eighties career has been a source of criticism and ridicule for a good twenty or so years now and while some of that ire is justified, there are flashes of the man’s genius still to be found in his output of that period. This is surely the high-point of those years. The title track from Julien Temple’s 1986 turkey in which he also starred, it reunites him with Rick Wakeman whose Piano is prominent throughout, backing Bowie as he gives a passionate, Sinatra-like vocal, tossing off lyrics like ‘As long as we’re together, the rest can go to hell’- a fantastic line. Special mention must also go to British jazz musician Don Weller who manages to pull off an eighties sax solo that stays just the right side of fromage.
Track 11. Moon Crystal by M83.
Speaking of cheese..This comes from French synthpop act M83’s latest LP ‘Junk’ which was released earlier this year. An instrumental track, it could have easily been the theme to some early eighties U.S. Sitcom which was cancelled after just one season. Nice to see Anthony Gonzalez isn’t taking himself too seriously here.
Track 12. Forget Your Hexagram by Larry Norman.
Next up we have some Christian rock from the artist considered to be the ‘John Lennon’ of that particular genre. This comes from his 1969 debut LP ‘Upon This Rock’ which is thought to be the first ever Christian Rock LP. Don’t run away non believers! (Of which I am a card carrying member incidentally). This is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of swamp rock with a punchy bass line. If you’re having difficulty with the subject matter, just close your eyes and imagine it’s Dr.John.
Track 13. Now And then by Natural Child.
We stay in 1969 for our next selection. Actually, we don’t, for despite this track from Nashville rockers Natural Child sounding like it could have easily been lifted from ‘Let It Bleed’, it was only released two months ago. Not sure what the Windsor Davies connection is on the video below mind..
Track 14. Raunchy by Jim Messina And The Jesters.
Before his stints with Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Messina was a surf guitar prodigy releasing an album in 1964 titled ‘The Dragsters’. This was chock full of the then 16 year old’s guitar licks undercut with revving engines and crowd noise. Very much of it’s time, but also a perfect microcosm of the short lived, fast era.
Track 15. Push Na Ya by Karl Hector And The Malcouns.
With its analogue production techniques and early seventies psychedelic feel, you’d be forgiven if you mistook this for a classic piece of North Saharan Afrobeat. I did, forgive me. It actually comes from German producer and guitarist JJ Whitefield and was the lead track on his 2014 LP ‘Unstraight Ahead’, an album pulsating with African percussive psych sounds married to seventies motorik. Seek it out forthwith.
Track 16. Destiny And Accident by One Two Three Cheers And A Tiger.
The lead singer and guitarist of this Austrian indie-rock combo has a similar voice to The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser who we featured last week. That alone would merit inclusion on the playlist but this 2012 single also has other nice touches, in particular the Strokes-esque guitar line that runs throughout.
Track 17. Sunshine Superman by Mel Tormé.
Mel Tormé featured on our very first playlist with his rendition of the Little/Young 1935 composition ‘You’re A Heavenly Thing’. Here, we find him in his late sixties easy listening peak with a cover of Donovan’s only U.S. chart topper. The velvet fog made easy seem easier than easy, his golden tones dance around this as if the psych-pop classic was always a lounge standard.
Track 18. The Vulture by Labi Siffre.
Taken from his 1975 LP ‘Remember My song’, this track is about a predator who stakes out recently split woman and makes his move. Slightly creepy, but all is forgiven as this has a top notch groove with a great brass/string arrangement. Siffre is one of this countrty’s forgotten greats, popping up every few years or so to remind us he’s there, his early seventies output is Brit funk and soul at it’s absolute zenith.
Track 19. The Bird On The Second Floor by Bernard Cribbins.
British stage and screen legend Cribbins had a short lived chart career in the early sixties with three top 40 singles including the George Martin produced ‘Right Said Fred’ and ‘Hole In The Ground’. This 1963 release didn’t bother the hit parade however and he soon left behind pop music and concentrated on his acting career which thrives to this day at the grand old age of 87.
Track 20. Kiss And Say Goodbye by The Manhattans.
Our soul slowie closer this week is the 1976 No.1. heartbreaker from Jersey City group The Manhattans. Written by their member, Winfred ‘Blue, Lovett. The lyrics and melody came to him late one night. As he later recalled, ‘Everything was there. I got up about three o’clock in the morning and jotted down the things I wanted to say. I just put the words together on my tape recorder and little piano. I’ve always thought that when you write slow songs, they have to have meaning. In this case, it’s the love triangle situation we’ve all been through. I figured anyone who’s been in love could relate to it. And it seemed to touch home for a lot of folks.’ Indeed it did, shifting over a million copies and becoming one of the biggest selling singles of that year.
So, yeah, I’ll see you all in a weeks time.
Until then, don’t go chasing waterfalls.