Hullo. And welcome to another weekly wedge of wonderment. Festival season is in full swing and I’m sure you all enjoyed Glastonbury last weekend. So much so that you didn’t have time to squeeze in your favourite playlist and blog, if viewing figures are anything to go by. That’s O.K., You’re forgiven. Remember, you can catch up anytime by flicking through the back catalogues, so go on, you may have missed your new favourite song.
Let’s get on with the business of this weeks selections first though. This time around we pay visits to Blackpool, Canterbury, Lisbon and two sides of Detroit.
Paulo is with us for the trip of course, this week my very good friend, bandmate and understudy to Shane Ritchie for the 94-95 run of Death Of A Salesman alights in San Francisco.
Get on with it I hear you cry. Ok, what’s the frequency, Kenneth?
Track 1. Never Let You Go by Bloodstone.
How about we break with tradition and have a Soul slowie starter? Don’t worry, we’ll round off the playlist with our usual closer but our first track this week stopped me in my tracks when I heard it on Huey Morgan’s Saturday morning show on six music a few weeks back, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Like many funk and soul bands, Bloodstone began life as a doo wop group in the early sixties before picking up their respective instruments and settling in to ‘Black Rock’ by the end of the decade. This superb example of silky seventies funk was the second single release from their sophomore 1973 LP ‘Natural High’ and features a stunning lead vocal performance from big Harry Williams. Check out that falsetto man! Perfection. I really can’t get enough of this at the minute and I insist that you get it in your life pronto.
Track 2. Long Division by The Aislers Set.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Again, Paulo has come up trumps with this weeks selection and a band which I have no prior knowledge of. On first listen, I dated this as mid to late eighties indie pop but it turns out it’s from their 1998 debut LP ‘Terrible Things Happen’. In a sea of post britpop bores, this Californian band were very much out of step with the times at that time then. This dollop of jangly pop complete with handclaps and lazy arsed tambourine has weathered very well indeed and has a sound which belies its twenty year vintage, a trick most of their contemporaries have failed to pull off.
Track 3. North Of Anywhere by Jack Cooper.
Jack is one half of former NL alum Ultimate Painting and has just released a side project solo LP ‘Sandgrown’ which is made up of nine tracks celebrating his home town of Blackpool. This is one of those very tracks and is a gorgeous, low-key lament which has shades of Villagers and Lou Reed and is a world away from the experimental pop of his day job.
Track 4. New Generation by Albert Ayler.
Taken from the avant-garde Saxophonists 1968 album ‘New Grass’, this is a quite straightforward pumper propelled by Aylers incessant tenor. He also lays down a delightfully wobbly vocal backed by the girls and still finds the time to sneak in some of the more ‘challenging’ notes he’s more famous for towards the end. Joyous stuff.
Track 5. Take Pills by Panda Bear.
We reach 2007 in my ‘Long Goodbye To Leeds’ feature and an album which, for me, perfectly encapsulates that year in question. I was already aware of Noah Lennox’s work with Animal Collective at this point but it was when I first heard his second solo LP ‘Person Pitch’ released in March that I really began to take notice. It truly is a perfect record, each of the nine tracks don’t waste a second. Textures are unfurled with every listen and now, ten years later, I still find fresh sounds and meanings. Initially, this track may seem like a celebration of recreational drug use but it’s actually a reaction to the reliance of anti-depressants and contains some sound advice.
“Take one day at a time
Everything else you can leave behind
Only one thing at a time
Anything more really hurts your mind.”
Track 6. This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You) by Tammi Terrell.
We’re planted in the late sixties for our next three picks which showcase the sheer diversity of pop music at that time, beginning with the promised double from Detroit. This cover of the Isley Brothers classic was released as a single in 1969 shortly before her untimely death the following year. I’m not going to dwell on Tammi’s unfortunate and turbulent short life but instead focus on a real talent and one of Motown’s true shining stars. This version has a slightly different arrangement to the famous Isley cut but retains the joy which belies the slightly maudlin lyric.
Track 7. Come Together by MC5.
Next, we stay in 1969 and another side of the Motor City. Our cover stars this week need no introduction and the seminal debut album this is lifted from should be part of every-ones DNA. Tempting as it was to include the wonderful statement of intent ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ or the incendiary title track, I’ve gone for the cut that follows that amazing opening salvo but doesn’t get as much column space. Turn it up and marvel at ground being broken.
Track 8. Love Makes Sweet Music by Soft Machine.
Crossing the Atlantic to good ol’ Blighty, we have one of the pioneers of the Canterbury scene and their very first single released in early ’67. With a more chart friendly sound than their subsequent experimental output, this has a bouncy vocal courtesy of Robert Wyatt and benefits from the production of one Chas Chandler who reigns in their jazzier tendencies to provide some genuine joyous and jangly pop.
Track 9. Please Be Mine by Molly Burch.
This is the title track from Molly’s debut LP which was released earlier this year and it’s a beautifully slow paced heartbreaker. I’m not entirely sure who the Austin chanteuse is pleading with, but anyone who refuses her plea must be a stone cold idiot. I mean, listen to that wonderfully smoky voice which has drawn comparisons with the wonderful Patsy Clyne. Irresistible. Be hers, you fool, be hers!
Track 10. My Woman’s Love by The Impressions.
And so, we reach another soul slowie closer. This week it’s Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions and a cut from their 1968 LP ‘This Is My Country’, the first to be released on Curtis’ Curtom records label. Rather than the politically charged, socially conscious output that he would subsequently release, this is a straightforward love song that is as smooth as they come with a typically lush arrangement from Mayfield himself.
There it is and there it was. Be sure to set your phasers to fun for seven days time when I’ll be back with another ten top pop picks.
Until then, fix up, look sharp.