Hullo. Another week, another ten tracks hand picked for your pleasure. And what have your hands picked this week Andrew? I hear the gathered multitudes cry. Well I’ll tell you. We’ve got another trip down memory lane in my long goodbye to Leeds feature, the return of a twenty first century folk artist, two trips to Seattle and the return of doo-wop in our soul slowie closer slot.
And of course, Paulo’s pick of the week. My very good friend bandmate and original illustrator of The Beezer’s ‘The Numskulls’ cartoon strip has selected a new release from a band who have been out of the picture for a wee while.
Alright then, let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to..
Track 1. Assessment by The Beta Band.
We’re straight in there with this weeks cover stars and a reminiscence of my time here in West Yorkshire. I’ve seen a fair few bands in the 14 years I’ve spent as an exile in Leeds but this particular gig stands out as it was one of the first and a spur of the moment decision. I recall it was a gloriously sunny day in May, 2004 that Kim and I grabbed a couple of tickets to catch The Beta Band at Leeds Met. I’d been a fan since those magnificent three E.P’s in the late nineties and had previously caught them at Glastonbury where their performance was erratic to say the least. On this occasion though, they were on fire, a packed, sweaty Uni receiving them rapturously. This is the lead single from ‘Heroes To Zeroes’, the LP which the tour supported and proved to be their swansong as they split later that year. I’ve since seen lead man Steve Mason a number of times and while his solo output is solid, it’s always a highlight when he dusts down a BB classic.
Track 2. Groovin’ by Willie Mitchell.
If ever a tune was made for these hot and hazy days, it’s this. First (and probably definitively) performed by The Young Rascals in 1967, Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere’s ode to summer has been covered by a number of artists from Lulu to War and countless others in-between. This hammond heavy instrumental rendition was released in ’68 and captures those sun-rays in every groove.
Track 3. Fool’s Errand by Fleet Foxes.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
A long overdue return to activity for Pecknold and co next with PPOTW. Carrying on pretty much where they left off in 2011 with their sophomore LP ‘Helplessness Blues’, this is FF by numbers but why fix something that ain’t broke? Scheduled for release on June 16, their third LP ‘Crack-Up’ promises more of the same gorgeous, harmonic indie-folk that we have come to expect from the Seattle combo. My NL comrade in arms Paul and I saw them at Leeds Brudenell back in 2008, a gig we both cite as one of the finest performances we have both been lucky to witness, but I’ll save those memories for another week. For now, just enjoy this more than welcome return.
Track 4. An Aitearachd Ard by Ishbel MacAskill.
Now, this isn’t the sort of music I would normally enjoy but I heard this quite by accident a couple of weeks ago when it closed the ceilidh show which airs prior to Margo Marr’s excellent Oban FM Thursday night programme. (Margo ’til Midnight, Thursdays 10-12, you can hear it here) It caught me just at the right time and I sat in my hotel room absolutely transfixed by the simple beauty of the performance. Sung live, in Gaelic and with no accompaniment, it reminded me of the scene in The Shawshank Redemption which Morgan Freeman’s Character ‘Red’ describes thus..
“I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”
Track 5. Power Child by Night Beats.
We take our second visit to the state of Washington next with modern day psych group Night Beats. This couldn’t be anymore different to fellow Seattlers Fleet Foxes if it tried, the three piece taking their cues from sixties garage rather than laurel canyon troubadours. Solid, driving stuff with a delightfully fuzzy guitar break towards the end, this comes from their third LP ‘Who Sold My Generation’ which was released on Heavenly early last year.
Track 6. Telescope by Vanishing Twin.
We stay in 2016 for the next selection. Founder Cathy Lucas named the group after her vanishing twin, an identical sister absorbed in utero, when they were both still a cluster of cells. The album ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ which came out last September is an exploration of esoteric psychedelia with home-made electronics, vibraphones, tablas, and woozy vocals that add up to a forward looking but retro sound.
Track 7. New Frontier by Donald Fagen.
The Steely man’s 1982 debut solo LP ‘The Nightfly’ carried on the silky jazz that he pioneered with Walter Becker throughout the seventies but with further added sheen due to it’s completely digitalised recording process, an early example of the move away from analogue. This is probably the most well known track from that album, Fagen giving a wonderful vocal and shining on electric keys while backed by superb lead guitar courtesy of Larry Carlton, returning to work with DF after his star turn on the Dan’s 1976 classic ‘Kid Charlemagne’.
Track 8. It’s Time by Max Roach.
The title track from the legendary jazz drummers 1962 album features some excellent sticks work as you’d expect but it’s not just Roach and his sextet that makes this epic piece special. The choral backing which was conducted by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson adds a further dimension that elevates and pushes it towards ethereal.
Track 9. Soldier by Richard Dawson.
It’s been a while since we last featured Richard on NL but this brand new track which is featured on his released-today LP ‘Peasant’ gives us a perfect excuse to rectify that. Now, I know that he can divide opinion, but this is much more accessible than some of his other work, but still tretains the trademark RD guitar and phrasing to please the purists. A true original who, if there’s any justice, should have a very bright future indeed.
Track 10. Too Far To Turn Around by The Creators.
Our Soul Slowie closer this week is the second of two singles recorded by Compton, L.A. doo wop group The Creators. Released in 1962, which was pretty much the arse end of the genres popularity, it is still an excellent example of close harmony. You’d be forgiven for singing along to the words of ‘The Great Pretender’ as the track starts, such is the similarity at the beginning of the song but it quickly becomes its own entity and has some superb vocals courtesy of Charles Perry and Hillary Conedy handling the lead and falsetto parts respectively.
Number 77. Done. Number 78 will be winging it’s way to you in seven days time. Remember, if you can’t wait that long for a fix then don’t forget to visit our facebook page up the top there where you can get a daily track not featured on the playlist and also contribute your own selections as well as enjoying some of the excellent recommendations from our lovely members.
I’ll see you next Friday then when hopefully, this country can look forward to a bright new future.
Until then, use it up and wear it out.