Hullo. Welcome to a sun baked Nobody’s Listening coming direct to you from sunny Slough where the mercury is currently sitting at a frankly ridiculous 34 degrees Celsius. It’s not just the climate that’s hot, we’ve got some scorching summer sounds searing their way into your frazzled heads this week. He typed, in a tabloid stylee.
Cartoon bands, twee indie pop, bonkers disco and Ethiopian Jazz are all contained within this weeks ten red hot rocks. And, of course there’s Paulo’s Pick Of The Week. This time around, my very good friend, bandmate and composer of the soundtrack to eighties computer game ‘Bombjack’ has selected some Gallic dream pop.
Shall we then? Set your controls for the heart of the sun..
Track 1. Great White Shark by Big Thief.
We begin with Brooklyn indie rock combo Big Thief and a track taken from their second album which was released a fortnight ago. This was a featured ‘album of the day’ on BBC six records a couple of weeks back, and having no prior knowledge of the band I was more than pleasantly surprised with their dreamy, romantic, almost folky style. So much so that I immediately earmarked it for inclusion on a forthcoming playlist. And here it is. See for yourself how it hooked me after one listen.
Track 2. Funny Little Frog by Belle And Sebastian.
Cover star time next and an act which, if I’m not mistaken, are making their NL bow. Surprising really as I’ve been a fan since their very early days but this track makes an appearance as part of my ‘long goodbye to Leeds feature’. Taken from their seventh LP, 2006’s ‘The Life Pursuit’ this was the lead single and was just one of a number of easily accessible tracks on a record choc full of chart friendly songs. So where does it fit in with your memories of West Yorkshire Andrew? Well, I’ll tell you. I finally caved in and got wed to the current Mrs Orley in the aforementioned year and this was one of the songs we played at our wedding, I also managed to catch B&S live for the very first time that year (twice, actually) ticking off an act I’d waited to see since the mid nineties.
Track 3. Any Day Now by Chuck Jackson.
This Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard song has been covered by a wide variety of artists over the years from Presley to Scott Walker to James Brown and even Nick Kamen had a pop in the eighties (best avoid that one tbf), but this was the very first recording which was a 45 release in 1962. Chuck Jackson was previously lead singer for doo-wop band The Del-Vikings before he struck out for solo fame. This became his signature tune and after recording a clutch of other Burt penned songs he went on to sign for various soul labels including a stint at Motown in the late sixties. Chuck continued to record throughout the seventies and eighties and penned Whitney Houston’s number one hit, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”.
Track 4. Stargazer by Juanita Stein.
This was the first of, to date, three solo singles from Howling Bells Front-person Juanita Stein. Released last December, it has a wintry feel but also works just as well on these hot summer nights and contains more than an echo of her fellow Antipodean, Olivia Newton John. Just listen to that chorus and tell me I’m wrong.
Track 5. Be Proud Of Your Kids by Melody’s Echo Chamber.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
You know when you can tell something is French within the first few seconds? And I’m not referring to the child’s vocal line, but that unmistakable French bass sound that permeates throughout this light-psych track. With the help of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Melody Prochet released her debut LP in 2013 of which, this delightful slice of dream-pop is the closer. Paulo just keeps on picking ’em doesn’t he?
Track 6. Truck Driver by The Archies.
Composed, as were the majority of this fictional bands songs, by the legendary Jeff Barry. This is a cut from the self titled debut LP released in 1968 which I whole heartedly recommend you give a spin. Get past the novelty factor and you can hear 12 tracks of superb bubblegum pop which sits very nicely indeed alongside The Monkees. And no “Sugar, Sugar” either! Go on, give it a go.
Track 7. Mulato by Mulatu Astatke.
Next, it’s a welcome return to the playlist for the father of Ethio-Jazz. Vibes backed by Eastern Africa rhythms, if there’s a better soundtrack for this oppressive heat, then let me know. You can share your own summer sounds on the dedicated Nobody’s Listening facebook page which is just a click away on the handy linkage up the top there. Anything goes and sharing is caring so go on, get involved.
Track 8. Baby Blue by Giorgio Moroder.
From the first ever digitally recorded album, Giorgio’s 1979 release ‘E=MC²’ comes a jolly piece of synthesised four to the floor disco complete with robot voice vocals. If that sentence alone doesn’t make you happy then it’s possible we can’t be friends anymore. Anyone who hasn’t got a massive grin on their kipper throughout the four minutes of this squelchy, bleepy dollop of happiness is dead inside. DEAD I TELL YOU!
Track 9. Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains) by Ryan Adams.
Ok, you want something more organic. Here’s earnest guitar botherer and patchy performer Ryan Adams with a cut from his 2001 LP ‘Heartbreaker’. I’ve never been a massive fan of Adams but this song was a mainstay on my compilations for a good few years back in the early noughties and one I’d completely forgotten about until I heard it on the wireless last week. Anyway, it’s still lovely and here it is.
Track 10. Hurt A Little Everyday by Brenda Holloway.
I mentioned last week that I was reading ‘Detroit ’67, The Year That Changed Soul’ so it’s perhaps inevitable that further Motown releases would find their way onto the playlist. Here, our Soul Slowie Closer for this week is the wonderful Brenda Holloway, who for my money possessed one of the finest voices that ever came out of ‘Hitsville, U.S.A’. Diana Ross was aware of this too and, realising the threat, used her influence over Berry Gordy to ensure Ms Holloway wasn’t afforded the promotion she deserved. Brenda found herself increasingly sidelined and left the label after four years.
That’s it then. As I promised last time, I don’t think I’ve banged on as much this week. So yeah, enjoy them and come back next week for another ten superb selections.
Until then, get a grip on yourself.