Hullo. Pardon? Oh, I thought you were talking to me. Yes, my ongoing aural troubles took another shitty turn this week with the introduction of tinnitus and total hearing loss in my right ear-ole. Smashing, just smashing. Nevertheless, as I mentioned last week, even my diminished listening powers won’t stop me forcing ten quality tracks in your lovely face.
Paulo has a very good lug planted on either side of his ever youthful Dorian Gray type fizzog. This week my very good friend, bandmate and campaigner for the compulsory use of wooden chip forks has selected yet another beauty. Where does he get them from? He’s astounding.
Ok, On with the show, good health to you…
Track 1. Cellophane Symphony by Tommy James And The Shondells.
After the mid-sixties success of bubblegum classics such as ‘Mony Mony’ and ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, James and his Shondells attempted to shake off the label with a move to the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene. It was a convincing enough transformation to elicit an invitation to play Woodstock, which the band declined. Two psych albums followed in 1969 with proper grown up rock the order of the day. This is the instrumental title track from the second of those LP’s which proved to be their swansong. At a concert in Birmingham, Alabama in March of the following year, an exhausted James collapsed after coming off stage from a reaction to drugs and was actually pronounced dead. He recovered and decided to move to the country to rest and recuperate, and left the band. His four bandmates carried on for a short while under the name of ‘Hog Heaven’ but disbanded soon afterwards. James and the surviving members of the band reformed in 2009 and continue to perform periodically to this day.
Track 2. Happy by Mitski.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
A great find from Pee-Dee-Cee this week. Opening with an incessant drumbeat and featuring some superb Bowie-esque asthmatic Sax, this is the opener from Mitski’s fourth LP ‘Puberty 2’ which was released last year. Accompanying it below is a video which has a pay-off that Paul himself described as “Disturbingly Grisly”. I’m inclined to agree and must warn you to ensure you have no chilblains or nosy bosses peering over your shoulder as it’s definitely NSFW.
Track 3. William by Sibylle Baier.
A change of pace next with two female singer-songwriters/actresses from the early seventies. First up is Sibylle Baier with a track from an album she recorded at home in her native Germany from 70-73 although it never saw the light of day until some forty years later. It was when Baier’s son Robby compiled a CD from these recordings to give to family members as presents that Sibylle’s beautiful, nylon string guitar backed songs were eventually shared with the world. He also gave a copy to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who in turn passed it along to the Orange Twin record label who gave it a release in 2006.
Track 4. Up North by Catherine Howe.
The second in our seventies stage and songstress segue comes courtesy of this weeks cover star Catherine Howe. Taken from her 1971 debut ‘What A Beautiful Place’ this has a lusher arrangement than our previous track and is a love letter to her native Halifax. There’s another parallel to be drawn with Sibylle Baier as Catherine also remained relatively under-appreciated in her time and found a new fanbase when the Numero group re-released the LP in the noughties. She has gone on to record further works and is now rightly fêted.
Track 5. La Cure by Julien Gasc.
This is the second appearance in as many weeks by French artist Julien Gasc, his band Aquaserge opened last weeks playlist. This comes from his solo LP ‘Kiss Me You Fool!’ which was released in 2016 and is another piece of slightly jazzy soft psych similar to NL favourites The Amazing. With a shuffling drumbeat and a distinct ‘French bass’ backing things up, this is a dreamy slice of Gallic detachment.
Track 6. Regret by The Blue Nile.
The most welcome news of the past week came when Paul Buchanan announced that The Blue Nile’s fifth album is “two thirds complete”. I’ll put my enthusiasm on hold however as this is their first offering since 2004 and given the bands snail-on-sleeping-pills work ethic, I’ll be incredibly surprised if it makes an appearance any time soon. Still, we BN fans have become accustomed to hearing nowt for years on end and we still have have an almost perfect back catalogue to mine in the interim. This particular track is a rarity from around thirty-odd years ago and is typically stunning. Listen to P.B’s voice at around the 2m 50s point as he proclaims ‘I Can’t Let Them Go’. Hairs on the back of the neck stuff.
Track 7. London by Alessi.
NYC born twins Bobby and Billy Alessi are probably best remembered for their 1977 summer smash ‘Oh Lori’, a song which, if memory serves, has made an appearance on an early NL but don’t quote me. Here they are with their castrati-like voices smothering another superb song that fits into that oh-so-trendy catch all movement ‘Yacht Rock’. As previously mentioned in these pages I really do hate that label, it smacks of post-ironic hipster posturing and that will be the last time you hear me use it. Just enjoy this for what it is. Expertly crafted pop music.
Track 8. Strawberry Glue by Ulrika Spacek.
Hailing from Reading, but based in Berlin, this five piece had a previous life as indie rock band ‘Tripwires’ releasing two excellent singles, “Kings & Queens” and “Just So You Know” around ten years ago. After disbanding and regrouping, they came up with this new project and released their debut LP ‘The Album Paranoia’ early last year. Indie psych rock with chiming guitars and a laconic vocal, this could easily be mistaken for an early nineties shoegaze release.
Track 9. Psychedelic Sally by Horace Silver.
The opener from Silver’s 1968 LP ‘Serenade to a Soul Sister’, this latin tinged Jazz stomper has a cheeky nod to the movement of the time in its title. There’s no real mind-bending here, so don’t be scared that I’m dumping some free jazz on you again, that’s not to say I won’t in the future, mwahaha. Just enjoy this joyful early fusion with Silver all over those ivories like a silk scarf.
Track 10. Thanks For The Invitation by Chyvonne Scott.
Another week, another soul slowie closer. Chyvonne enjoyed only modest success in the mid sixties, becoming a hit on the Northern scene with her best known single, ‘I’m Moving On’. Here we find the New Yorker in a slower mood with a track taken from the excellent compilation from a few years back ‘I’m Moving On – Rare Soul Recordings’.
Sooooo. That’s it for another week. Hope you enjoyed/endured it. Why not share it with friends and while you’re at it, point them in the direction of our facebook page, the link’s up the top there as usual.
I’ll be back next week, providing my one good ear is still working.
Until then, You won’t see me.