Hullo. Welcome back to your weekly portion of ten pieces of pop music accompanied by fifteen hundred or so words about them. This week you find me back on the dreaded night-shift down in Redhill, Surrey. Yet another of those nondescript commuter towns for the capital, it was the former residence of Carry On big feller Bernard Bresslaw and briefly home to Occultist, magician and baldy crackpot racist Aleister Crowley.
So what’s in store this week Andrew? Well, we have another appearance for the finest pop band of the seventies, a track from a Jamaican superstar, but not the big hit you’re probably expecting, and a curio from the dad of a band whose star is very much in the ascendant.
Paul is back of course, once I send a reminder to my very good friend, bandmate and owner of Europe’s largest collection of Top Deck Shandy cans, I’m sure he’ll reply with the goods in double quick time, i.e. Just scrape Thursday’s deadline.
So, let me show you, let me show you the way to go…
Track 1. S.O.S by ABBA.
By now, you should all be aware of my fondness for this weeks cover stars. I think this may be the third or fourth appearance of the Scandinavian pop quartet but definitely their most well known track that I’ve featured so far. I mean come on, this is absolute pop perfection. That opening d-minor passage and Agnetha’s sorrowful vocal at the beginning which belies the full on major chord chorus which explodes with a bank of synths, layered voices and Bjorns rock guitar. Absolutely irresistible. Go on, take the time to listen to it again, loud, with the lights off. If you’re not singing along at any point then you, sir/madam, are a falsifier sporting combustible trouser-wear.
Track 2. She’s My Girl by Salty Miller.
This next track has been bumped from the playlist for the last few weeks or so as it didn’t quite fit with the rest of that given weeks selections. Here it is then, following one of the greatest pop singles of all time so I suppose I’m not really giving it a fair crack of the whip. Still, it’s here for a reason and that is it’s from that reliable source of quality, the Numero group. A 1980 single release, it’s pretty much out of step with everything that was going on around it but time has been kind and what we have here is a pleasingly light-weight piece of beach-pop fluff that has echoes of late sixties bubblegum.
Track 3. The Sinking Feeling by The The.
Matt Johnson recently announced his return to the stage after an absence of sixteen years with three sold out London shows. Bloody London. Hopefully, he’ll follow it up with some nationwide dates and as soon as he does, I’ll be jumping on those tickets with gusto. This is from The The’s debut LP proper, 1983’s ‘Soul Mining’ and I can’t wait to hear it live once he exits that Roman Shell and gets his arse oop north. A band/artist I have loved since their/his 1986 LP ‘Infected’, they/he are/is one of the few acts that I started listening to in my early teens that I still love some thirty odd years later.
Track 4. Procissão by Gilberto Gil.
Ah, the infinite joys of night-shifts and the impossible task of trying to get at least 40 winks at the budget hotel the next day. This is made even more Everest-like when you add incessant, DND ignoring Housekeeping. It turns into an expedition to Olympus Mons when you throw in some hairy arsed builders refurbishing the room next to you while blasting Heart FM from their paint spattered radio. I retaliated by turning this slice of Brazilian genius up to the max on my bluetooth speaker. Hopefully they eschewed their chart fodder and appreciated some quality latin soft psych from 1967. I then called at reception and politely but firmly requested a change of suite. I’m now in the room directly above the lads who, if I’m being fair, are just trying to earn an honest crust. It looks like I’ll have to take another trip to reception although at this stage two pillows over my head seems to be the easy option. Either way, this evenings shift will be a grueller.
Track 5. Sitting In Limbo by Jimmy Cliff.
As I mentioned up the top there, the title track from Cliff’s 1972 movie soundtrack ‘The Harder They Come’ is an evergreen classic that quite rightly garners frequent radio play, but there’s lots more to love on the LP that pretty much broke Reggae to the wider world. In the name of this playlists remit in bringing you undervalued gems, I’ve selected this song from the album which had previously featured on Jimmy’s sophomore LP ‘Another Cycle’ from the year before. Recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, it has a wonderfully laid back Fender Rhodes and flute backing our man who is in fine voice. At present, it’s going some way to easing my frazzled, sleep-deprived mind.
Track 6. Thorn by My Bloody Valentine.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Well, I’ve been proven wrong and he’s managed to get this weeks pick of the week to me on Wednesday evening. Still a touch tardy but I’ll forgive the late showing as it’s this classic slice of shoegaze from MBV. One of the tracks from their first Creation release, the majestic EP ‘You Made Me Realise’, this is one of the bands poppier compositions and is a prime example of how their feedback laden assaults could also be cut with jangly magnificence. See, this is exactly why I put up with the slackarse blighter. He offers up genius such as this.
Track 7. Parallelograms by Linda Perhacs.
Here we have an artist who could best be described as a U.S. Vashti Bunyan, such are the similarities to their stories. Linda Perhacs’ ‘Parallelograms’ was her first and, until the release of ‘The Soul of All Natural Things’ in 2014, only album which was all but completely ignored when originally released on Kapp Records in 1970. Discouraged by the lack of commercial attention and the label’s reluctance to promote the album, Perhacs returned to her career as a dental hygienist. The LP gained a cult following in the thirty years or so after its release and is now regarded as a psych-folk classic and led to her re-emergence with the follow up LP released just three years ago. Here’s the title track from that debut, a soundscape that is built around Linda’s soft Joni Mitchell-esque vocal.
Track 8. Like Going Down Sideways by Cut Worms.
I realise we’ve been a bit oldies heavy this week so let’s inject some new blood into proceedings with this track from Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Max Clarke aka Cut Worms. This is the lead track from his debut EP ‘Alien Sunset’ which was released on Jagjaguar in September and is a deliciously retro sounding piece with some quality songwriting and lushly realised harmonies that evoke classic sixties acts such as the Everly Brothers. To me, Clarke’s voice is strikingly similar to another legend of that era, bearing echoes of the great Bob Lind in his more plaintive moments. I look forward to hearing more from this exciting prospect.
Track 9. Love Stepped Out by Ronnie D’Addario.
We stay in NYC for our next selection which comes from the father of wunderkinds and former NL alumni Brian and Michael D’Addario who are making big waves at the moment with their band The Lemon Twigs. D’Addario senior was something of a prodigy himself releasing a handful of superb pop albums in the seventies very much in the mould of playlist favourite Emitt Rhodes. This is the opening track from his 1976 LP ‘Take In A Show’ and is often performed live by his offspring in tribute to their old man.
Track 10. Deep Shadows by Little Ann.
Our Soul slowie closer this week is an unreleased 1967 song that was almost left unheard until its rediscovery some twenty odd years later. ‘Little’ Ann Bridgeforth hailed from Chicago and cut just one LP in 1969 which was never released. It was not until a couple of Northern Soul crate diggers visited the producer Dave Hamilton in the late eighties that her talent was finally recognised. The visiting enthusiasts remarked that one of the records Hamilton played for them was the casino classic, ‘What Should I Do?’ by Rose Valentine, when he revealed the voice to be Little Ann it was apparent that the record was another Northern Soul ‘Cover Up’, a tactic employed by the scenes DJ’s to prevent rival jocks and collectors obtaining the disc, therefore securing its all important obscurity. This song was among the eight tracks recorded for the lost album and gained a further audience when it was used in a U.S commercial for trainers.
That’s that then. Join us next time when I shall shove another ten tracks in your lovely face.
Until then, carry go bring come.