Hullo. After last weeks adventure in North Wales, you join a sleepy NL this week planted back in sunny Slough. It is actually sunny too, I’m enjoying the mid teen temperatures as Summer exhales it’s last breath before we look forward to crappy weather, stripped trees, extra layers of clothing and six months of darkness. Whoopee.
Fret not! Shining a light every Friday is your favourite playlist and blog, here to keep you warm with one big aural cuddle.
Paulo is of course joining in with the embrace. Hopefully. It’s bloody Tuesday as I type and he’s still not submitted this weeks pick. When I get my hands on my very good friend, bandmate and ex-bodyguard to Clive Dunn he’s going to get a right ticking off, let me tell you.
Anyways, onwards! We have all the time in the world…
Track 1. Heaven Must Have Sent You by The Elgins.
We begin with a stone cold classic courtesy of Holland, Dozier, Holland.
Surely every single one of you are familiar with this slab of Motown goodness. It took 5 years to make a dent on the UK hit parade, and bolstered by its popularity on the Northern Soul scene, peaked at No.3 in 1971. One of those records that can brighten the darkest of moods and plant dimples on the dourest of fizzogs. It honestly is one of my favourite platters ever and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the eighty ninth edition of this playlist. The only mystery is that it’s taken 89 of the bloody things before its made an appearance.
Track 2. Follow The Leader by Foxygen.
Let’s keep that good mood going with this joyous single which was released late last year. This was the taster from their fourth LP, 2017’s ‘Hang’, an album which was an ambitious jump for the indie-rock duo featuring a forty piece orchestra arranged by NL alumnus Mathew E White and the kind of songs Todd Rundgren was knocking out at his peak. The accompanying video below features some excellent choreography and adds to the tracks overall ebullience in spades.
Track 3. Medicine To Cure Medicine Sickness by Lorelle Meets The Obsolete.
Ok, nobody wants to bool along with a dopey smile on their face all the time, so let’s turn the dial to darker. The duo of Lorena Quintanilla (‘Lorelle’) and Alberto Gonzalez (‘The Obsolete’) contributed this track to Sonic Cathedral’s excellent Psych For Sore Eyes compilation EP in 2013 and were soon signed up to the London based label, releasing their debut LP the following year. Psychy-shoegazey goodness from Guadalajara, there’s a distinct European feel to proceedings here with shades of Krautrock, Stereolab and Spacemen 3, indeed, The Spaceman that is Pete Kember (AKA Sonic Boom) went on to produce the band.
Track 4. From Home by The Troggs.
We carry on The Spacemen 3 connection with this weeks cover stars. When Jason Pierce’s relationship with the aforementioned Kember soured beyond reconciliation, he took to the studio with the remaining members of the band to record what would become Spiritualized’s debut single, a cover of Chip Taylor’s much interpreted ‘Any Way That You Want Me.’, a song which also provided those scruffy gets up the top there with their fifth UK hit single. Much more influential than their novelty name suggests, The Troggs were massively significant to the garage and punk movements and listening to this Reg Presley penned song lifted from their 1966 LP ‘From Nowhere’ it’s not difficult to hear why. With superb fuzzy guitar courtesy of Chris Britton and Reg’s snarly, sarky vocal, it’s not a million miles away from the scene which would explode ten years later.
Track 5. High Pressure Days by The Units.
Our next track was first brought to my attention by my brother in law on one of the many compilations we used to exchange at Christmastime. I don’t know exactly why but it has been an earworm of late and I find myself singing the opening refrain of “Saw Johnny Tonight, But We Didn’t Say Hello To Each Other” at frequent intervals. This lot hailed from San Francisco and were one of America’s earliest electronic new wave bands and are now cited as one of the progenitors of Synthpunk. This is their first 7″ single released in 1979 and has since gained a new audience when it was covered for Grand Theft Auto V by Los Angeles noise rock band HEALTH who changed the title to “High Pressure Dave”.
Track 6. Afrospace by Blakai.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Well, he’s made it by the skin of his teeth again. But, as always, it’s more than worth the wait. Another new blip on my radar this one and I was astonished to find out it’s twelve years old! Featuring the vocals of one Bembe Segue, this is an effervescent breaker that I’m currently bouncing my leg like buggery to. Just see if you can keep still while it’s on, Impossible!
Track 7. Soft Sounds From Another Planet by Japanese Breakfast.
Essentially a solo project for Oregon based musician Michelle Zauner, this outfit released their second LP a couple of months back of which this is the title track. As with our earlier selection from Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, the ghost of shoegaze rears its head here with reverb drenched vocals backed by organ drone which gives way to guitars, first acoustic then progressively crunchy before transforming into an almost countrified playout for the final third. A song of three halves then, but each has its own tale to tell and all combine to a thing of some beauty.
Track 8. Autumn In New York by Hampton Hawes.
A seasonal jazz standard next and Hampton Hawes’ take on the evergreen, excuse the pun, “Autumn In New York”. This piece was composed by Vernon Duke for the 1934 musical ‘Thumbs Up!’, a little known revue that is probably most famous for this song and “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” which was revived by The Trammps for a 1972 single release. Hawes was a fascinating character who was arrested on heroin charges in 1958 and sentenced to ten years in prison, serving five before Executive Clemency was granted by President Kennedy in 1963. He returned to performing and recording and later wrote his autobiography and one of the formative books on the be-bop era ‘Raise Up Off Me’ before succumbing to a brain haemorrhage in 1977 at the age of 48. Excuse me, while I repair to a popular book selling website to purchase said tome..
Track 9. Wave by Beck.
Next, we move on to 2014 for my Long Goodbye To Leeds feature. We’re actually heading towards completion on our move back North, so hopefully things should tie in nicely over the next few playlists. Anyhoo, this track comes from scientologist (hold it against him, but not his music) Beck’s LP release of that year, the gorgeous ‘Morning Phase’. It was during the first knockings of Spring that I heard the album and it’s slow acoustic and lushly orchestrated songs will be indelibly connected to the early morning sunrise drives I took to work in Todmorden. As I negotiated the winding roads of the upper Calder valley, this record ensured that I always arrived on site in a blissed-out mood. Always a bonus when you’re about to engage in some heavy duty railway fixin’. Have a listen and see how it improves your outlook, just don’t take it too far and consider the works of Ron Hubbard as visionary.
Track 10. You Better Move On by Arthur Alexander.
This weeks soul slowie closer was a favourite of sixties English beat groups in that it was covered by The Rolling Stones, The Hollies and The Moody Blues. This original version was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and released as Alexander’s debut single in 1961. Arthur also wrote “Anna (Go to Him)” which is notable for it’s inclusion on the Mop-Tops debut LP ‘Please, Please Me’.
There it is then. These weeks are dropping off the calendar in record time no?
We’re limping towards that all important playlist number 100 which will be a very special affair. I haven’t come up with anything yet, but let’s just get through the next ten first, eh? Number ninety will be here at the same time and place next week.
Until then, get fresh for the weekend.