Hullo. So, where do we go from here? I don’t presently know as I’m writing this on Tuesday night and have no idea which way the nation turned. I’m sure it’ll all be fine though. Won’t it? Please tell me it’ll be alright.
However things are, we still have the music and I’ll continue to try and ignore that Armageddon is imminent, as will my very good friend, bandmate and former executive director of the Alpine pop company, Paul Dee-Cee. This week he’s going to make you forget your woes/celebrate a victory for all that’s good with a smashing Pick Of The Week.
Ok then. Let’s leave them all behind..
Track 1. (I Know) I’m Losing You by The Temptations.
Kicking us off this week is the welcome return of Ruff fronted Temps. This 1966 single has his trademark raspy lead at the fore with some superb, harder edged production courtesy of Norman Whitfield. There’s some really great covers of this track, notably fellow Motown act Rare Earth and a 1971 effort by The Faces but, for me, nobody beats David Ruffin in full flow.
Track 2. Mamy Blue by Pop Tops.
This baroque pop group hailed from Spain and featured the soulful vocals of Trinidadian Phil Trim. This was their biggest hit, released in 1971, it made number one across Europe but only managed to scrape into the top 40 here in the U.K. where it vied for chart positions with Roger Whittaker’s version released at the same time.
Track 3. Watussi by Harmonia.
I’m aware that we’re stuck in the past for the first few tracks of this weeks playlist, but rest easy, the new stuff is coming! Anyways, here we have some often overlooked Krautrock from 1974, courtesy of the supergroup (of sorts) Harmonia. Made up of Michael Rother of Neu! and Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Möbius of Cluster, they released two albums: Musik von Harmonia in 1974 (from which this is the lead track) and Deluxe in 1975. It is very much a meeting of minds with Rother bringing his motorik sensibilities to reign in some of the excesses of the avant garde Cluster duo. The result is lush, futuristic electronica whose repetition is infectious and way ahead of its time. None other than Brian Eno described them at the time as “the world’s most important rock band” and was influenced by them greatly, so much so that he became the fourth member a couple of years later recording an album in 1976 titled ‘Tracks And Traces’ which didn’t see the light of day until 1997. It is, as you’d expect, absolutely fantastic.
Track 4. Give It Your Choir by Mark Pritchard feat. Bibio.
Ok, as promised, let’s jump forward to the present day and a track which was released in April of this year. We don’t move too far forward genre wise however as this dreamy piece of electronica recognises its debt to its forefathers in its repetitive bleeps, and is that a light motorik beat we can hear bubbling away underneath? Yes, I believe it is. Add on top reverby harmonies and you have a piece that also recalls the Beach Boys albeit through a Noah Lennox lens. Top stuff.
Track 5. Art_Work by tomemitsu.
We stay fairly recent with the next pick which was initially released as part of an EP back in 2013. Stretching to full album length, that EP ‘m_o_d_e_s’ (an anagram of Demos) is a collection of bedroom recordings from Martin Roork of the band Basement Babies. Slow acoustic bliss is the order of the day here with soft vocals underpinned by experimental white noise and what sounds like a melodica drone towards the end. Simple, but affecting.
Track 6. Joy by Circulatory System.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Depending on how yesterday went (the blog is compiled over a week, so as I write we’re either doomed, confused or heading for a new dawn, delete as applicable) you can either lose yourself in the celebratory lyrics of this weeks PPOTW – “We’re made of joy and make believe/We’re only made of sky”, or wallow in its slightly sombre loveliness and try to forget that we’re all going to hell in a handcart. Whatever state this fair isle is in at present, it’s comforting to know that we can always rely on Young D’Cruz to bring the sweet things.
Track 7. Ummh by Bobby Hutcherson.
Anyway, let’s leave these crazy times behind and head back to 1971 (when actually the planet was in as much, if not worse turmoil) and the early jazz fusion stylings of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Lifted from his wonderful Blue Note release from that year ‘San Francisco’, this features an excellent turn from Crusader Joe Sample on electric keys providing some meat on the bones. Special mention must also go to Saxophonist Harold Land whose Coltrane influenced tenor dances about this track with a playful freedom.
Track 8. Home by Engineers.
And now we turn to my feature where I bid a long goodbye to Leeds, my home for the past fourteen years. My recollection this week is of one of the first of countless gigs I caught at the much missed city centre venue, The Cockpit. The low curved ceiling meant it was never the greatest for it’s acoustics but most of the time bands would adapt their performance and the sheer will and enthusiasm of the crowd was more than enough to make you forget any shortcomings. It was a September night in 2005 that Mr D’Cruz and I paid a visit to see London Shoegazers Engineers and an occasion that solidified a friendship which thrives to this day. As we both stood in copious amounts of dry ice we first discussed the possibility of starting our own band (we initially considered a group made up of only Harmonicas!, blame the recreational cakes we had consumed beforehand). With Young Jimmy Dryden completing the line up, we did just that and it led to some of the best times I have ever had, and indeed, continue to have. I will no doubt regale you with some of these good times in the coming weeks until I actually up sticks and leave.. It all started there in that slightly seedy shed underneath the railway.
Track 9. Dusty Eyes by Bedouine.
Azniv Korkejian records under the name Bedouine, a name which is a direct reference to the nomadic Bedouin. When you consider she was born in Syria to Armenian parents, grew up in Saudia Arabia and has spent time in Boston, Houston, L.A., Kentucky and Houston, you’ll agree it’s an extremely apt moniker to adopt. This is the lead single from her forthcoming, self titled debut LP which is due to drop at the end of this month. Showcasing her smoky vocal style, this is late night music with some lovely touches. Check out that twangy almost folky guitar which plays throughout and the gorgeously warm strings that carry her voice through to the tracks conclusion. Classy.
Track 10. You’re Stepping On My Heart (Tearing My World Apart) by Ben E. King.
Our Soul Slowie Closer this week is also the end track of this weeks cover star’s tenth LP ‘I Had A Love’ which was released in 1976. Silky Atlantic soul at its best, it features a superb vocal performance by the former drifter and goes some way to prove that there’s a lot more to Mr King than the sixties big hitters he is most remembered for.
Ok then, There you go. I’ll see you at the same time and place next week for ten more of the best. Whatever happens today, just remember,in the immortal words of Jon Bon Jovi, we’ve got each other, and that’s a lot.
Until then, smile on your brother.