Hullo. Another week, another glamorous location. This time around you find your favourite blog and playlist positioned in deepest darkest Staffordshire. I’ve got a lovely view of the A38 from my budget hotel window and the traffic is providing a constant flow of white noise.
What better way to drown it out than with ten hand-picked quality tracks? Nine by my own fair hand and the remainder courtesy of my very good friend, bandmate and celebrated importer of rare exotic fruits, Paul D’Cruz. He’s topping the list this week as you can see if you look down there.
Alright then. let’s take it to the limit, one more time..
Track 1. Just Like You Imagined by Nine Inch Nails.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
So here he is, and unusually on time too! Lifted from 1999’s ‘The Fragile’ which was Trent Reznor’s third studio outing with his band, this is a typically raucous affair once it gets going with it’s trademark layered industrial guitars and synth patches. Also featured on the track is pianist Mike Garson who is most famous for his work with David Bowie, in particular his stunning avant-garde contributions to ‘Aladdin Sane’ and his jaunty turn on ‘Young Americans’. My own, personal opinion is that he’s a tad underused here but his presence is felt enough to add extra depth to this instrumental piece.
Track 2. Shout About Pepsi by Denny Wright & The Hustlers.
The 1995 Studio 2 compilation album ‘The Sound Gallery’ was a firm after hours favourite for a good few years after its release, the perfect companion for winding down after some hardcore club action. A collection of library music used for ads, lifts and TV shows, it kicked off the mid nineties Easy revival and has since been plundered by lazy daytime shows in the mould of ‘Come Dine With Me’ as backing music for their repetitive content. There’s genuine gold contained within the comp including Paddy Kingsland’s majestic ‘The Earthmen’, Mandingo’s frankly bonkers ‘The Headhunter’, and five (count’em) five contributions from the incomparable genius that is Alan Hawkshaw. Also included is this funker from legendary session guitarist Denny Wright. An original composition which was included on the 1974 MPI soft drink tie-in LP ‘Non Stop Pepsi Party’, it never failed to get weary feet moving again back in the day.
Track 3. Baby Don’t Go by Colorama.
We featured the original Sonny And Cher version of this classic song on a very early edition of Nobody’s Listening but this brand new cover by Carwyn Ellis’ outfit is far too good not to warrant another appearance. This interpretation, which closes their brand new LP ‘Some Things Just Take Time’, is a good representation of the indie bands new direction. With a sparse, country-folk arrangement, he turns the song into his own. Beautiful stuff.
Track 4. Two Creatures by The Tears.
I’ve previously mentioned in these pages that Suede were one of my road to Damascus bands, an act that I was obsessed with for a good couple of years mainly due to the chemistry between Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler. When the latter left the band halfway through their second album ‘Dog Man Star’, the honeymoon was pretty much over, and save for a few outstanding tracks on the Butler-less follow up ‘Coming Up’, I pretty much left them behind. When this project was announced back in late 2004, I was cock-a-hoop at the prospect of one of my favourite double-acts putting their differences aside, albeit in a different guise. The album ‘Here Come The Tears’ was released in April the following year and didn’t disappoint being choc full of that wonderful Butler guitar sound and Anderson back to his vocal best. This is a stand-out track from said LP and manages to catch some of the same fire that those early Suede songs were ablaze with, complete with a direct lift from Bowie’s ‘Sound And Vision’. I was lucky enough to catch them live at Glastonbury a few months later and recall wearing a massive beam throughout at the sight of two heroes reunited at last. They then promptly split up again. The buggers.
Track 5. Rainbow Sign By Sarah Webster Fabio.
Poet, performer, scholar, and educator Sarah Webster Fabio is considered a foundational member of the West Coast Black Arts Movement. She recorded four LP’s in the early seventies including the collected works that formed 1972’s ‘Boss Soul’ from which this interpretation of one her most celebrated works comes. Accompanied by various members of her family, Sarah’s words are at first recited by Thomas Fabio before she takes the reigns for the final few passages, backed by the rest of her funky brood.
Track 6. The Plum Blossom by Yusef Lateef.
This is the opening track from Lateef’s 1961 LP ‘Eastern Sounds’ which continued his exploration into Middle Eastern music. Featuring the man himself on Chinese globular flute (generally referred to as xun) and light backing courtesy of bebop legend Barry Harris on piano, it’s very much a minimalist piece. Save for a plucked rubab from bassist Ernie Farrow and a few tambourine shakes by Lex Humphries , that’s pretty much it as far as the instrumentation goes. Less is very often more though and that’s the case here with the quartet’s efforts combining to provide a gentle, affecting piece of wonderment.
Track 7. Forever by Roy Wood.
I’m currently working my way through Simon Reynold’s hefty tome ‘Shock And Awe – Glam Rock And Its Legacy’, a captivating look at the early seventies phenomenon which was as influential a genre as any other I can think of. Among the hefty deconstructions of Bowie, Bolan and Roxy, there’s a few pages given over to the Wizzard main man. In between leaving ELO and forming the ‘zard, Wood released a solo LP and even managed to dent the charts with this, hitherto unknown to me, stand alone single which reached number eight on the hit parade in early ’73. In the book, Reynolds describes it as “A jump-cut composite that leapt from The Beach Boys to Neil Sedaka” and I completely agree with him. A curio that bridged the gap between the psych-pop of The Move and that Christmas song.
Track 8. Can’t Keep Checking My Phone by Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
It’s 2015 in my Long goodbye to Leeds feature next. It was in May of that year that the current Mrs Orley and I had a rare couple of days sans-child so we took full advantage and made the trip to Liverpool for the Sound City festival, an annual shindig that takes place in the re-generated dockland area of the city. It was the lure of headliners The Flaming Lips that attracted us to the suburban gathering and as expected, they were a class act. The under-card was a quality proposition too mind, with special mentions for Stealing Sheep and the always enjoyable Dutch Uncles. However, these Kiwi/U.S psych rockers were the clear highlight of the support acts, their askew, modern day disco meets indie-psych anthems filled the cavernous disused warehouse which housed the second stage. This was the lead single from their third, and to date, latest LP ‘Multi-Love’ and was an earworm of mine for the rest of the day and beyond.
Track 9. Archid Orange Dwarf by Hannah Peel.
This weeks cover star released her third solo LP just last week under the alias of Mary Casio. A seven-movement odyssey composed for analogue synthesisers and a full 29 piece colliery brass band, ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ is a coming together of the futuristic and traditional that not only works wonderfully but creates a sound that is at the same time warm and distant. Hannah is truly one of the twenty first centuries real treasures, an artist who is unafraid to explore the possibilities of music of the past and the future. We should be thankful that we have visionaries such as Peel, an exploratory artist who can effortlessly flit from styles such as traditional Irish folk to creating challenging, cinematic soundscapes in a heartbeat.
Track 10. You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up by James Carr.
Our soul slowie closer this week is the title track and closer of Carr’s 1967 LP, a record which is now regarded as one of the greatest deep soul records of all time. This single version managed to reach number 7 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1966 and provided him with his first hit before Carr went on to record the original and definitive version of the soul standard ‘The Dark End of the Street’. Maybe it’s the over-familiarity of the latter, but I much prefer this lesser known track which has a stunning vocal performance from Carr, elevating him to the dizzy heights of his contemporary Otis Redding.
Cor Blimey! That’s another week done with then. Don’t forget to share with friends as that’s what it’s all about innit? Pass it all off as your own if you like. Instant cool points right there and I’d hate to think I do all this for nothing.
I’ll see you in seven days time with more or less the same sort of carry on. Be sure to make it a date as I road checked number 91 on my journey home this afternoon and let me tell you, it’s an absolute banger.
Until then, farewell my summer love, farewell.