Hullo. This playlist is running the risk of becoming a weekly obituary such is the disturbing frequency that we’re losing beloved artists.
Last week brought the sad news that Sharon Jones had lost her fight against pancreatic cancer, we pay tribute to her wonderful voice in the soul slowie closer slot.
We’ve also got new tracks from acts that are still very much with us and old tunes from artists that left this mortal coil a fair while ago. The world keeps spinning, just.
On top of that, Paulo is here with his pick of the week. Again, as I write he’s still pondering on his selection. Lazy ass punk. I’m still confident that my very good friend, bandmate and wedding usher to Danny from Hearsay will knock it out of the park once more.
Before we begin, here’s your usual reminder that you can contribute to and enjoy our dedicated facebook page Here. Jump in!
Alright then, Can I kick it?
Track 1. Washed Ashore by Monster Rally.
Ted Feighan’s project Monster Rally begins this weeks proceedings with the opener from his brand new LP ‘Mystery Cove’. A short slab of exotica propelled by luau-loops, this sets the scene for the album which is an imagined soundtrack to a fictitious film concerning a narrative arc of young lovers on an island getaway. Dreamy stuff and a perfect way to get us going. So brand spankingly new, there’s no video.
Track 2. Strange Boy by El Michels Affair feat. The Shacks.
NYC based hip-hop cum jazz funk instrumental band El Michels Affair released this 7″ a couple of months ago. During the recording of this track, saxophonist and leader Leon Michaels decided his new piece needed a vocal. Enter 18 year old producer wunderkind Max Shrager. Max brought his friend, the then 16 year old Shannon Wise to the studio where he was playing guitar on the track. They put Shannon in the booth to try out, and despite no previous recording experience, she nailed it in one take. The Shacks were born, and so was this fuzzed out song with delicious doo-wop background vocals.
Track 3. The Magician by Graham Bond.
Bond was one of the founding fathers of the British rhythm and blues movement of the sixties and a Hammond Organ virtuoso. After forming a band with a pre-Cream Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, he went on to record some well received solo LP’s before an interest in the dark arts blossomed into full on infatuation. This typically hammond heavy track comes from 1970’s ‘Holy Magick’ which was intended to be the first of a trilogy of LP’s based on the occult. It was followed up with 1971’s ‘We Put Our Magick on You’. The third installment was not forthcoming however. In 1974, after years of heavy drug addiction, mental health issues and nervous breakdowns, Bond died under the wheels of a Piccadilly line train at Finsbury Park station, London, at the age of 36.
Track 4. Chicago, Damn by Bobbi Humphrey.
Jazz flute. Don’t run away! That bloody Anchorman thing has a lot to answer for. Bobbi Humphrey’s opener from her 1973 Blue Note LP ‘Blacks And Blues’ is a superb example of a genre that has been unfairly ridiculed for the last few years. Although it begins with a sound effect referencing the famous windy city of the title, this is a taste of Summer in these dark winter months.
Track 5. The Birds Of Late December by Luke Temple.
Speaking of dark winter months..Here We Go Magic frontman Luke Temple has enjoyed a prolific solo career away from the band. This comes from his fifth LP, ‘A Hand Through The Cellar Door’ which was released on Secretly Canadian two weeks ago and is a gentle finger-picked paean to divorce.
Track 6. Sure Is Nice by Natural Child.
This comes from the Nashville Trios latest long player released in September and is a shuffling organ infused piece of sunshine pop. Special mention must go to the following lyric:
‘You know it sure is nice
To have a place to sit
You can leave me alone
While I’m taking a shit.’
Again, no vid. Soz.
Track 7. Cassius Can by Junior Oliver.
This is the playlist’s second visit to this LP, released late last year. A side project from Producer Lack Of Afro, it features a fictitious band with very real musicians including Jamie Cullum, Nigel Kennedy and The New Mastersounds. As you’d expect with such illustrious players, this is a funky jazz masterclass with an easy going, summery sound.
Track 8. Long Walking Down To Misery by The Beau Brummels.
Formed in 1964, San Franciscan band The Beau Brummels were initially a beat combo with a sound shaped by The British invasion. By the time they released their fifth album, 1968’s ‘Bradley’s Barn’ they had been reduced to a duo consisting of Sal Valentino (lead vocals) and Ron Elliott(lead guitar). Leaning on a more countrified sound, the LP is choc full of twangy classics such as this, the only single release from the album, enhanced by the wonderful Jerry Reed on guitar. The BB’s split up soon after but this LP is now considered as one of the very earliest examples of Country Rock.
Track 9. Juxtapozed With U by Super Furry Animals.
A 2001 single release from Gruff and the boys, this is probably my favourite song of theirs. With a fuzz guitar riff pinched from Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Win Again’, Philly Soul strings, Vocoders and a chorus that sticks in your nut for weeks, this is a case of everything AND the kitchen sink. 15 years on and I still can’t help but sing along with every word.
Track 10. Merry Go Round by Equatics.
This next track comes from a Virginian High School band who won a competition run by Pepsi Cola in 1972, with first prize came the opportunity to record an LP. After convincing friends and family to collect bottle tops, the band romped home as winners. With an average age of seventeen, they show prowess well beyond their years and the album stands up next to older psych-soul contemporaries such as Sly Stone and late period Temps. The band folded shortly after the record’s limited release but their promise on this original composition from band member Leo Davis demonstrates that they could have enjoyed a long and prosperous career.
Track 11. Baal’s Hymn by David Bowie.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Told you he’d knock it out of the park didn’t I? This week Mr D’Cruz has gone for a lesser known track from the thin white duke in full on Anthony Newley mode. This was featured on a 1982 EP released to coincide with Bowie’s appearance in ‘Baal’ which was the first full-length play written by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht. The Starman was always an accomplished storyteller and his impressive acting chops are employed to full effect on this track.
Track 12. Sun Butler by Sunbutler.
This is the title track from the 2012 LP which was a collaboration between oddball veteran of left-field pop Momus and fellow Scot Joe Howe. With an eighties retro sound that comes across like Scritti Polliti through a Paisley Park looking glass, it’s a DX-7 drenched piece of nuttiness.
Track 13. Here I Go Again by Archie Bell And The Drells.
Cover star time next with a record that makes you grin like a goon as soon as you hear that first note. Archie Bell hailed from Texas and scored his first hit in 1967 with the superb Billboard #1. ‘Tighten Up’. This Gamble and Huff penned track featured on the 1969 LP ‘There’s Gonna Be a Showdown’ but didn’t dent the charts until three years later when, popularised through the Northern Soul scene, it climbed to No.11 on the UK chart. It’s a record that is always a welcome bonus when it pops up on FM radio from time to time, and one that I can recall from a very early age. A frantic dancer that has joy embedded in every note.
Track 14. Elephant Stone (Mint Royale Mix) by The Stone Roses, Mint Royale.
The Stone Roses Remixes album was released in 2000 and featured twelve of the seminal Manchester band’s songs given the makeover treatment from popular dance acts of the time. This particular track was handed to fellow Mancunians Neil Claxton and Chris Baker who traded under the name Mint Royale. Stripped of Reni’s (amazing) drums, the focus is on Squires guitar and Browns vocal which are both backed by strings ripped from an instrumental version of Bacharach’s ‘Alfie’. A sort of ‘Long And Winding Road’ Spector treatment ensues. While some might say it’s sacrilege to rip apart one of the best tracks from the Roses, this actually works, bringing out an angelic quality to Browns frequently unreliable vocal style.
Track 15. Mississauga Goddam by The Hidden Cameras.
When I first discovered this Canadian band way back in 2003, I would often play their second album, ‘The Smell Of Our Own’ to friends and delight in their inability to pigeonhole the music. My stock response would be to quote leader Joel Gibb who described the band as ‘Gay Church Folk Music’. Cue more confusion, compounded when the often saucy lyrics were deciphered. This is the title track from their follow up and is an allusion to Nina Simone’s civil rights anthem ‘Mississippi Goddam’ (from the album Nina Simone in Concert), suggesting suburbia (Mississauga is a suburb of Toronto) as the real battleground for LGBT equality.
Track 16. Petite Fleur by Sidney Bechet.
There’s been an absence of Jazz in the last few playlists so I’m going to address this oversight with two different examples of the genre. First up we have Sidney Bechet with probably his most famous piece, the clarinet led ‘Petite Fleur’. This well known trad instrumental became a massive international hit for Chris Barbers band in 1959 and was later inevitably released by Mr Acker Bilk. Persons of a certain age will be familiar with this mournful tune as it was often used as backing for pages from Ceefax.
Track 17. Joycie Girl by Don Pullen.
We move from trad to free with elements of fusion on this track from American pianist Cullen’s 1975 LP ‘Capricorn Rising’. The album features a quartet comprising of Bobby Battle on drums, Alex Blake on bass and Saxophonist Sam Rivers who gives a frenetic performance on tenor.
Track 18. Susan Jane by Eugene McDaniels.
Taken from his 1971 LP ‘Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse’ which flitted from styles as diverse as Psych-soul to Jazz to folk, this is a countrified number which recounts the tale of a free spirited girl. The LP has been plundered for samples over the years with artists such as Q-Tip and Pete Rock ripping beats and breaks from its colourful pallet.
Track 19. On Days Like These by Matt Monro.
‘The Man With The Golden Voice’ is a perfect description of Monro. His soft Baritone has a precious quality to it that was utilised to great success on Theme songs for ‘From Russia With Love’, ‘Born Free’ and this, the theme tune to 1969 crime caper ‘The Italian Job’. Penned by Quincy Jones with lyrics by Don Black, this was produced by George Martin. Four names with ‘legend status’ that combined to gift us with this atmospheric slice of romance.
Track 20. Mama Don’t Like My Man by Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings.
We’ve praised the excellent work of revival label Daptone Records a number of times on this playlist series. From Charles Bradley to the Menahan Street Band, all are welcome guests to our collection with their authentic latter day entries into the soul world. Sharon Jones and label house band The Dap Kings have been the greatest success for the label, releasing quality records since their inception back in 2001. Success came late to Sharon. After singing with local bands and session work in the seventies, it wasn’t until she was forty years old that she cut her first disc. After a three year battle with cancer, we lost Sharon last week at 60 years old. I can’t think of a more worthy voice to conclude this weeks playlist. RIP Soul sister.x
Another sad note to end on then. Here’s hoping we can get through the next seven days without further loss.
The season is upon us, and while I’m not adverse to the odd Crimble song, don’t expect to hear any festive offerings on the playlist. If you are hankering for some hall decking, you can fill your stockings with last years Christmas special which is available Here.
I’ll see you same time and place next week.
Until then, use it up, wear it out.