Hullo. If everything has gone to plan, this weekly dollop of delights is coming to you from my native north east as we have finally completed our move back to the motherland this very day.
New beginnings bring new endings however, as this is the last regular playlist before a bumper NL 100 next week brings this whole escapade to its conclusion.
Once again, the rubbish wi-fi in this crappy hotel means I’m probably going to fly through this weeks picks, but something is better than nothing and I’m quite keen to wrap things up before the double stress that is moving house close to Crimbletide hits me hard!
Paulo is here for the final time too. My very good friend, bandmate and part-time Hong Kong Phooey impersonator has pulled out all the stops for his final Pick Of The Week. Probably. He’s late again, the get!
Shall we get on with it then? One more time…
Track 1. The Great Big No by The Lemonheads.
We begin with our cover stars. Evan Dando’s outfit were a listening staple for me between ’92 and ’93, the hinterland before UK bands got their collective arses into gear and began making decent pop music again. This was the lead track from their sixth LP ‘Come On Feel The Lemonheads’, a record which was stuffed with Dando’s laconic, melody driven songs. Following on from the previous year’s ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ and two years before the vastly underrated ‘Car Button Cloth’, the LP is, for me anyway, the bands best work and it’s easy stylings remain eminently listenable today, a quarter of a century after it was released.
Track 2. Breaking Away by Ratatat.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Here he is with his final pick of the week then and an apt title to boot. This comes from the Brooklyn based electronic duo’s self titled debut from 2004 and is a pleasingly straightforward, bleepy instrumental. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the boy wonder for his input over the past two years and for introducing everyone (including me) to some wonderful sounds. Love you man!
Track 3. Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith.
After serving time with jazz greats Pharaoh Sanders and Miles Davis, Smith struck out on his own with his band ‘The Cosmic Echoes’. Concentrating on the burgeoning Fusion scene, the keyboardist released four superb albums on the Flying Dutchamn label from ’73-’75. This is the none more funky title track from the fourth of those records.
Track 4. Maria También by Khruangbin.
This is the latest release from the Texan trio and is a foretaste of their upcoming LP ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ which drops early next year. Expanding on the Thai-psych stylings that made up their debut, they have now incorporated sounds from Spain and the middle east and it all adds up to something steeped in history but profoundly new. Please take the time to check out the accompanying video below which features archival footage of Iranian women who were exiled or silenced following the revolution of 1979.
Track 5. Zack Is Back by Billie The Vision & The Dancers.
This Swedish indie-pop band are a new one on me although this single from earlier this year comes from their eighth album. It’s all good fun and has piqued my interest enough to check out their back catalogue beginning with the wonderfully titled debut from 2004 ‘I Was So Unpopular in School and Now They’re Giving Me This Beautiful Bicycle’. I mean, with album names like that and the subject matter of this song (From what I can gleam, it extols the joy of having someone leave messages on your mobile phone) how can you not love such irresistible Scandinavian twee-ness?
Track 6. Definite Gaze by Magazine.
The opener from their 1978 debut ‘Real Life’, this was for many the first recorded taste of Howard Devoto’s seminal post punk outfit. The band had toured most of the LP throughout the previous year before hitting the studio with producer John Leckie to record what would become one of the most important albums of the late seventies.
Track 7. And That Is That by Creme Soda.
As we’re wrapping things up round these parts, I thought I’d select a few songs which cover the art of goodbye. First up, we have an act who hailed from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Creme Soda generated a fanatical following based on their legendary single ‘(I’m) Chewin’ Gum/Roses All Around’ which appeared on the Trinity label in 1975. They released one self titled LP from which this slice of west coast soft psych is lifted.
Track 8. This Is The End by The Lollipops.
Staying with the teeth rotting moniker theme of our previous pick and continuing with our trip dedicated to ta-ta’s, next up we have Danish three piece The Lollipops with a piece of pop fluff from the early seventies. These lads were active throughout the mid to late sixties as a slightly garagey boy band, check out this 1966 single a record that one Pete Townshend must have come across, such are the similiaritues to one of his biggest songs…
Track 9. Rainbow Ends by Emitt Rhodes.
Former cover star Emitt Rhodes released his first LP in 43 years in 2016. Working closely with producer Chris Price and recorded in his original home studio, the album (of which this is the title track) was intended as a stylistic follow-up to ‘Farewell to Paradise’, his last record which was released in 1973. It is a beautifully thoughtful album which centres on themes of loss and regret with Rhodes in fine voice and instantly recognisable as the same man who made those perfect pop songs in the early seventies.
Track 10. It Ain’t No Fun by Shirley Brown.
Our final regular soul slowie closer is a slab of seventies Stax courtesy of Shirley Brown. This was the follow up single to her million-selling ‘Woman to Woman’ and the opening track from the 1975 album of the same name which is a long plea to ‘the other woman’ to return Shirley’s man. Stax folded shortly after its release but its a fine epitaph, Brown’s strong gospel voice giving Aretha a run for her money.
Well then. That’s that bar the shouting, your last ever regular NL. Be sure to join us next week for the bumper century edition which will serve as our last hurrah. I’m off to enjoy my new gaff. See you in seven days.
Until then, never give up on a good thing.