marlena

Nobody’s Listening. No.49. 24.10.16.

Hullo. This week is the actual first anniversary of the playlist but as I explained last week, we’re holding off the celebrations until NL. No.50. as it’s a nice round number, so keep your ears and eyes peeled for a bumper bag of special-ness next week. Not that this weeks is any less special, in fact it’s one of my favourites so far with some absolute beauties.

We had a theme night over on our facebook page last Saturday night (which you can join Here ) celebrating Motown. As always, our members pitched in with some cracking shares. Thanks for your always invaluable input.

Paulo is here of course with his pick of the week. This time around my very good friend, bandmate and co-creator of Jet Set Willy has gone for a boogielicious belter.

Ready? Ok. Let’s make this precious…

Track 1. Voodoo by Ganglians.

This is the Sacramento bands second visit to the playlist, they made their debut with the reverby lo-fi madness that is ‘Hair’ some months ago now. It’s a pleasure to have them back with this track cribbed from their debut LP, 2009’s ‘Monster Head Room’. More reverby lo-fi madness then, and a cracking way to get things going this week.

Track 2. I’m Your Pimp by Skull Snaps.

‘I wear my Hat to the side, and I walk with a limp’..That’s a pimp alright. This funk outfit released just one LP, 1973’s eponymous effort, then promptly disappeared. As is usually the case with these rare deep-funk records, the drum break for ‘It’s A New Day’ was picked up by the hip hop scene in the late eighties and has since been sampled to death by the likes of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Das EFX, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Eric B. & Rakim, Digable Planets, DJ Shadow, The Prodigy and Panjabi MC among others. This particular cut has a late Temps, psych/protest soul feel and some hmm, questionable lyrics. It grooves like a bastard though.

Track 3. Trans-Pennine Express by Warm Digits.

I recently heard this north-eastern electronic duo in session for Marc Riley on Six music and immediately decided they were to make an appearance on NL. Whilst I couldn’t source the new material they played, I went back to their debut LP ‘Keep Warm…With The Warm Digits’, and picked this Krautrocky number which cheekily nods to the biggest act of that movement in the title.

Track 4. Outro by Vulfpeck.

Stumbling on new acts is a pastime of mine and it usually makes up a good third or so of these playlists. This American funk outfit were a recent discovery and one I am thrilled about. They’ve been around since 2011 and make some of the most joyful sounds I’ve heard in a long while. This particular track is the opener to their 2012 EP ‘Vollmilch’ and has a thumping piano which gives way to a hyperactive sax line which goes on to dominate proceedings in the best way possible. Fantastic stuff and a fine way to kick off a funky triptych.

Track 5. Boogie Down by Al Jarreau.

****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****

For some reason, Paul was a bit apprehensive about submitting this track from the ‘Moonlighting’ Man. He need not have been, it’s a fabulous piece of eighties funk with a squelchy synth line and Jarreau showing off his Jazz chops while scatting in the middle eight. It sits proudly in the middle our trio of funk-eh selections.

Track 6. Listen by Chicago Transit Authority.

Rounding off our three pumping, funking tracks is Chicago Transit Authority and this brassy smack in the gob. Keyboardist Robert Lamm gives a punchy lead vocal, backed by Peter Cetera’s nagging bass and some brilliant axe work from guitarist Terry Kath. This is lifted from their self titled debut released in 1969. Following the threat of legal action from the actual Chicago Transit Authority, the band shortened their name to Chicago and the rest, as they say, is history.

Track 7. Lord, Can You Hear Me? by Low.

Alrighty then, time to slow things down a tad. When a band you love covers a band you love, there’s always some trepidation involved. Fortunately, this Spacemen 3 classic could have been penned by Low themselves, and while I dislike the overused talent show hi-jacked phrase ‘You made it your own’, the Minnesotan dream pop legends show respect for the source whilst uncompromising their own idiosyncratic sound. An all round success.

Track 8. Don’t Let The Kids Win by Julia Jacklin.

We stay slow with our next selection, the title track from Jacklin’s debut LP released a fortnight ago. The live video below showcases the Australians effortless songwriting and affords us an insight into her confessional style. It must break her heart every time she sings the line ‘Don’t let your grandmother die while you wait/ A cheap trip to Thailand’s not gonna make up for never getting to say goodbye,’. A new talent with a very bright future.

Track 9. Flop by Le Système Crapoutchik.

A slight change of pace next with this French psych pop oddity from 1970 which has a pleasingly self effacing title. With lots of CSN&Y harmonies mixed with Beatles-esque guitar and early synth oddness, this band should have been bigger than they were but folded shortly before releasing this posthumous track.

Track 10. Night And Day by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

This is probably my favourite Cole Porter song and has been covered by numerous artists, including myself as a karaoke turn on a few drunken occasions in the late nineties. Indeed, it has made an appearance on NL before with Ella Fitzgerald’s take. Here’s the always welcome baritone of Jalacy Hawkins with his version.

Track 11. Nwantinti Die Die by The Ify Jerry Krusade.

We return to our old friends Soundway for the next selection. Nigerian afrobeat with an absolute peach of a drum break. Try keeping still during this one, impossible.

Track 12. The Morse Code For Love Is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code is One One by Sweet Baboo.

Stephen Black is one of a long line of Welsh acts that stretches back to Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and reaches forward to current indie darling from the valleys, Meilyr Jones. His knack with a singalong chorus is evident here on the standout track from his 2013 LP ‘Ships’.

Track 13. Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell by The Flaming Lips.

Perhaps my favourite live act of all time, The Flaming Lips have been a going concern for an astonishing 33 years. If you haven’t yet managed to catch one of their shows may I suggest you rectify this oversight at the first available opportunity. Their recorded output isn’t too shabby either. This lesser played track from their tenth studio LP, 2002’s ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ was released in the form of a remix EP but I’ve gone for the original dreamy take from the parent album. I note they are playing in Brixton in late January. I feel a trip to the old smoke is on the cards..

Track 14. Bound For Magic Mountain by Eat Lights, Become Lights.

Wow. What can I say about this next track but strap yourselves in and prepare for takeoff. I really don’t want to elaborate on that. Just experience it, then do it again.

Track 15. Ja Mil by Detroit Jazz Composers Ltd.

Taken from the ‘Hastings St. Jazz Experience’ LP which was originally released locally in Detroit in 1976, this spiritual jazz piece is a big band blowout with vocalisation from local Soul legend and former NL alumni Kim Weston. This was the collective idea of Ed Nelson, Dedrick Glover and Charles Miller, a huge project involving over 50 musicians, a creative response to a decaying city harnessing the vitality and history of the black experience.

Track 16. Murmurio by Lalo Schifrin.

I realise we’re a bit instrumental heavy this week. There is a reasoning behind this which will become clear when next weeks Birthday playlist drops. That’s all I’ll say for now to avoid any spoilers. Anyway, here’s another from Argentine legend Schifrin, a fast paced take on Luiz Antonio and Djaima Ferreira’s ‘Murmurio’, taken from his 1962 LP ‘Piano, Strings and Bossa Nova’. That album title probably lets you know what to expect here.

Track 17. Honey Suckle Song by Ray Stinnett.

If not for the excellent archaeology of Light In The Attic Records, Ray Stinnett would have remained a footnote in the history of rock n roll. He was a former member of ‘Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs’ who had the massive 1965 hit ‘Wooly Bully’ but they soon disbanded when they couldn’t capitalise on it’s success. He went on to record a solo album ‘A Fire Somewhere’ for A&M, however the label were reluctant to release the record until Stinnett appointed a manager. Having been burned with his previous pop success, he refused and was consequently given his master tapes and relieved of his contract. The LP sat gathering dust on a shelf for forty years before LITA unearthed it in 2012. This track is just one of a wonderful collection of late sixties soul-rock, folk-rock, psych-rock songs that make up this unreleased gem of an album.

Track 18. At Full Height by The Weather Station.

Taken from ‘Loyalty’ their third LP released last year, this is a beautifully gentle song from the Canadian band which is built around Tamara Lindeman’s crystal clear voice and intricately picked guitar.

Track 19. I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) by Marlena Shaw.

Cover star time next and a song which served as an anthem for the civil-rights movement in America in the 1960’s. We featured Nina Simone’s version last year, but this cut from Ms. Shaw is right up there with the doctor. UK listeners are probably more familiar with it’s writer Billy Taylor’s instrumental version which has been used as the theme tune to the BBC’s flagship movie review show Film (insert year here). Marlena herself is probably most famous for her classic cover of the Ashford and Simpson song ‘California Soul’ which featured on her second LP 1969’s ‘The Spice Of Life’ from which this track is also taken.

Track 20. I’m Glad (1966 Demo) by Captain Beefheart.

And so, to our soul slowie closer. This week it’s a demo of a song which featured on the Captains debut 1967 LP ‘Safe As Milk’. It has more in common with Smokey Robinson than any of Mr Van Vliet’s future experimental jazz blues releases, in fact it’s a virtual retread of Smokey’s ‘Ooh Baby Baby’. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that

There you are then. Number 49 done and dusted. Remember to join us next week for an epic playlist celebrating a year since I tentatively shared twenty songs I thought others might dig. And you’ve dug, so ta. See you at the same time and place in seven days.

Until then, stay with me. Baby.

Andrew Orley.

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