Hullo. Firstly, apologies if this weeks commentary on your selection of superb-ness is slightly truncated. This is due to the crappy wi-fi connection in this godforsaken hotel which renders the task of putting this thing together frustrating to say the least. Nevertheless, I shall battle on to bring you your weekly portion of poppadums and dips.
This time around we have a chunk of solid sounds from North of the border including a side project from a feller who has appeared on the playlist in two guises previously, a lesser heard version of a song made famous by Billy Bragg (no, not New England) and an early track from a personal hero of mine.
Paulo is here with his pick of the week although my very good friend, bandmate and voice of ‘Uni’ in the old eighties Dungeons and Dragons cartoon is late again. Who knows what secrets lurk in his black magic box?
Ok, come get it, I got it..
Track 1. This One’s For The Humans by Alien Stadium.
We begin with the unmistakable tones of Edinburgh man Steve Mason who has teamed up with Primal Scream keyboardist and fellow Brighton dweller Martin Duffy to record the mini album ‘Livin’ In Elizabethean Times’ which is due to drop next month. This is the first fruits from that project and is exactly what you’d expect from the former Beta Band man, sailing his ship the closest to that groups sound since they disbanded. Marvellously bonkers.
Track 2. Queen’s Tattoos by Aztec Camera.
We stay in bonnie Scotland for our cover star who has been writing and releasing top notch pop songs for thirty seven years now. Thirty seven years! He’s only bloody 53! I have followed Roddy Frame from those very early days, ever since the wondrous ‘Oblivious’ first made me sit up and take notice as a ten year old top of the pops viewer, but it wasn’t until 1987’s ‘Love’ and it’s clutch of perfect pop singles that I became obsessed with the lad from East Kilbride, voraciously eating up his back catalogue. This is the b-side to ‘Pillar To Post’ a rough trade 7″ from 1982 which was a foretaste of the superb debut LP ‘High Land Hard Rain’ and another example of his precocious talent.
Track 3. Tong Poo by Yellow Magic Orchestra.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
And he pulls it out of the bag at the eleventh hour yet again. This classic piece of Japanese synth pop, which opened the second side of the YMO’S 1978 debut LP is a joy from start to finish, its frenetic tempo and ahead of the curve production are just two of its many jewels to admire. Its splendour comes as no surprise when you consider the fact it was penned by one of the bands co-founders, the genuine genius that is Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Track 4. Love Don’t Come No Stronger by Jeff Perry.
Next we have another of those superb soul singers who never really got the recognition they richly deserved. Ignored by the masses but heartily endorsed by the Northern scene, this 1975 single is a fine slice of modern that is elevated further by Perry’s first class vocal performance. He would go on to release the excellent 1978 LP ‘Jefree’ which also remained roundly unheard. Criminal, this business.
Track 5. Hammock by Millionyoung.
I can’t quite recall where I first heard this 2010 track, probably on the excellent BIRP! Indie playlist. The pseudonym of Floridian indie/electronica producer Mike Diaz, Millionyoung was just one of a glut of Pitchfork-championed acts that sprang up around the turn of the decade who relied on heavy bursts of sampling and reverb. What sets this apart for me is the gentle build and layers that add up to an evocative piece of chillwave.
Track 6. Subaru Nights by Insecure Men.
Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family and Ben Romans-Hopcraft of Childhood make up the core duo of London ‘Supergroup’ Insecure Men, joined by various other musicians taking a break from their day jobs in Marley Mackey of Dirty Harrys (who is the son of Steve Mackey of Pulp), Victor Jakeman (Claw Marks) on organ, Joe Isherwood (We Smoke Fags) on keyboards and saxophonist Alex White who is also on hiatus from Fat White Family. Some talent then, and this is their first release which dropped back in September. Woozy synths and Saul’s Robert Wyatt-esque vocal combine to create a dreamscape celebrating the one time motor of choice for urban yoof.
Track 7. Sun by Anna St. Louis.
Anna St. Louis was born and raised in Kansas City spending her time as a painter and singing in punk bands before eventually leaving her hometown to attend art school in Philadelphia. After graduating she made the move to Los Angeles where she began teaching herself guitar, writing songs and recording them on her own in her bedroom. These sketches, including the track I’ve featured here, have made up her debut release ‘First songs’ which came out as a cassette only release just last month. Gorgeous psych folk, this is the sound of an artist finally finding her voice.
Track 8. The World Turned Upside Down by Dick Gaughan.
This weeks third visit to Alba brings us Glaswegian folk legend Dick Gaughan. This track, which featured on his 1981 LP ‘Handful Of Earth’ first came to my attention when it appeared on Billy Bragg’s ‘Between The Wars’ EP from 1985. Always a highlight of his live shows, I assumed it was an original of Braggs until I heard Gaughan’s version on the wireless and assumed the bard of Barking had covered Dicks own composition. However! it turns out Dick didn’t write it either. Leon Rosselson is the author behind this 1975 protest song which relates the tale of the diggers in the 17th century. It has since become a socialist anthem and a rousing one at that.
Track 9. My Conception by Sonny Clark.
Sonny Clark was another of those Jazz artists that never really got the kudos he deserved during his all too short life. Time, however has proven him to be an innovative and generous performer, both attributes clearly evident on this original composition, a post-bop piece which was recorded by Clark and his superb quintet for blue note in 1959.
Track 10. Sad Girl by The Intruders.
Our soul slowie closer this week is from one of the first groups to have hit songs under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and as such, had a major influence on the development of Philadelphia soul. This 1968 single was previously recorded by its author Jay Wiggins in 1963 but this version with G&H’s trademark silky smooth production surpasses it by some distance.
Not too short in the end then, a lousy connection can’t keep a good gobshite down!. There’ll be more of this guff next Friday of course as we creep ever closer to number 100 and what may well be the last Nobody’s Listening EVER!..Ever…ever…ever..
Until then, don’t cry for me Argentina.