Lindisfarne – Magic In The Air

It was my Dad who bought this album, on cassette, and I have no idea what prompted him to do so as he wasn’t a big consumer of music, but buy this he did and it found its way to me at a time where I only had a cassette player and very few cassettes, so I played this pretty much every night as I fell to sleep for quite a few years, probably starting when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I listened to it most often on a mono headphone as I drifted off, it was shit.

When I left home at 16 I don’t remember taking it with me, though I do have a vinyl copy now that I bought for two or three pounds a few years ago.

Sometimes records, or just songs, evoke memories or feelings in a way that nothig else does. For me, this record takes me to a much simpler time, a time not without drama or pressure, but seen and felt through a different lens. As a teenager I didn’t worry about a job, or money or even school, because I, like so many teenagers, had no real idea what was coming in my future and was pretty indestructable and yes, I was an expert on everything, even things I knew nothing about, because youth.

From Rock Goes To College the same year, 1978, that the album was released is the opening track from ‘Magic In The Air’, Lady Eleanor.

The album version is better to be honest.

There was a time when I knew every word to every song, and still remember most even now, but the song that I always felt highlighted the incredible songwriting of Alan Hull was ‘Winter Song’. Even as a know nothing 13 year old I understood everything that was being conveyed through the words Hull wrote, and so did Elvis Costello, who performs the song below.

When winter’s shadowy fingers
First pursue you down the street
And your boots no longer lie
About the cold around your feet
Do you spare a thought for summer
Whose passage is complete
Whose memories lie in ruins
And whose ruins lie in heat
When winter comes howling in
When the wind is singing strangely
Blowing music through your head
And your rain splattered windows
Make you decide to stay in bed
Do you spare a thought for the homeless tramp
Who wishes he was dead
Or do you pull your bedclothes higher
Dream of summertime instead?
When winter comes howling in
The creeping cold has fingers
That caress without permission
And mystic crystal snowdrops
Only aggravate the condition
Do you spare one thought for the gypsy
With no secure position
Who’s turned and spurned by village and town
At the magistrate’s decision
When winter comes howling in
When the turkey’s in the oven
And the Christmas presents are bought
And Santa’s in his module
He’s an American astronaut
Do you spare one thought for Jesus
Who had nothing but his thoughts
Who got busted just for talking
And befriending the wrong sorts?
When winter comes howling in
When winter comes howling in

That’s poetry that is. Alan Hull wrote this around 1967 and it appeared on their album “Nicely Out of Tune in 1970”. It’s good that it is still being performed today, by Sam Fender, who released it as a christmas single:

The album title comes from the song ‘Dingley Dell’ which is from the album of the same name. There are many, many good songs in this live collection and while I am not here to try and convert anybody to the music of Lindisfarne I would urge you to give it a listen, you never know, you may like it.

The album is below, it’s part 2 starting with Lady Eleanor

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0ZEJnrAVfBHBLVaTzOSpbg

100 best Tracks of the 1970’s (Repost, just because)

I have no idea why I started this bloody list as it’s proven to be really difficult. I’m looking at mostly 45’s but have had to throw a few album tracks in there as well. Back in the 70’s I had a few 45’s, not that many though, so the majority of these I didn’t have. I heard most of them either on the radio in the kitchen, in the car or at a friends place, some I heard much later. We consumed music differently back then. Music was not as available as it is now and when a song hit it big it received lots of radio play, then that tailed off and then you’d hear it now and again, making it almost a special treat, unless you had bought the single or the album it came from of course, particularly on Top Of The Pops type albums which were compilations of the hits of the day.

Anyway, here goes, it’s my personal list so I’m sure there will be some ridiculous exclusions, but I make no apologies for that, they just hadn’t entered my life at the time or much since. Also, they are not in any particular order, they are numbered for convenience not to show preference. Let’s not forget that in the seventies I was 3 years old, and thirteen years old, and all the ages in-between.

100 Steely Dan – ‘Reelin In The Years’

I heard this on ‘The Friday Rock Show’, presented at the time by Tommy Vance, but I never heard the introduction so I had no idea who it was, and when the record was over, he never repeated it so I was left in the dark for quite a while. Some months later I found out who it was and have liked Steely Dan ever since, helped somewhat my my friend Dave, who loves them and whose brother, Pete, had several albums that we listened to in Dave’s bedroom. Bedrooms were where music was most often shared in the days before MP3’s, Before Spotify and youtube, you went to somebody’s house and they played you stuff.

99 The Pretenders – ‘Brass In Pocket’

I’d heard this on the radio several times before I ever saw them and I remember being quite confused by the whole waitress thing, but it was, and probably still is, my favourite Pretenders track, not that I’m a big fan.

98 James Brown – ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine’

This was a re-issue that found the charts again in the 70’s. Who could not love it really, all that energy and he groove it finds, though I’ve no idea what prompted it to be re-released it was all over the radio.

97 Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘No Woman, No Cry’

This was probably the first time I became consciously aware of who Bob Marley was and I remember well that the video for the song was the lyceum concert. I’d heard Marley before, I’m pretty sure of that, but it was being combined with the visuals and it being played on Top Of The Pops that really made me sit up and take notice. I think this was 1975 so I was only 8 at the time and I’m convinced it was re-released at a later date but can’t find any record of it.

96 Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’

I, like many others, thought ‘What the fuck is this?’ when I saw it on TOTP and there followed much lampooning from comedians of the day, Kenny Everett and such like, but when you listened closely it changed, from what seemed like a one off novelty song to something with more substance and it grew on you until it, and subsequent releases, became part of the musical landscape at the time.

95 Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Hong Kong Garden’

Now here is a single that I actually owned and which I’d owned for some time before I even realised it was about a Chinese take-away, I had thought it all rather exotic until I listened properly.

94 The Undertones – ‘Teenage Kicks’

This has become a rather important song since it’s release, helped by John Peel naming it as his faviourite song, although I think he had many and just named this one to shut people up because they were always asking him. I liked it, Feargal Sharkey was rather odd looking and it had energy.

93 Dead Kennedys – California Über Alles

I actually found this track ( and the album it came from) in the early eighties, influenced by a group of Punks I hung out with then. Punk had long passed but these guys had yet to realise it and were trying to support a whole local punk scene that was dying on its arse to be honest. They were 4 years too late at least, but they seemed happy to be part of something.

92 The Jam – ‘David Watts’

At the time I had no idea this was a Kinks cover but I thought it was a great track, and either it was the songwriting or the performances or maybe both that caught my attention. At this point I had no idea what I liked, I’d listen to anything if I thought it was good while sticking strictly to a single genre if ever questioned (this was a sort of rule back then)

91 Free – ‘Alright Now’

This single was in our house and it was played to absolute death, partly because it was good, but also because we didn’t actually have that many records so there wasn’t much choice. This was a time for me, where the possibility of playing what I wanted to listen to when I wanted to listen to it was starting to become, in a small way, a reality. We had a record player, the old sort with the built in speaker that you could stack 10 singles on and they would drop one after the other and later, we had a stereo, with a turntable, radio and a cassette player. Our next door neighbour had an 8 track in his car, which was crazy, listening to something other than radio in the car? Wow! Then we had a cassette player in the car and it really was revolutionary.

90 Madness – ‘One Step Beyond’

This was huge at my comprehensive school with loads of people getting into the whole ska revival thing, and some just liking the songs but not adopting the fashion. I seem to remember liking ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ more later but this was my first hit of Madness.

89 The Specials – ‘A Message To You Rudy’

The song that really got me interested in The Specials was ‘Too much too young’ which was a 5 track E.P consisting of ‘Too Much Too Young’, ‘Guns of Navarone’, ‘Skinhead Symphony’, ‘Longshot Kick The Bucket’, ‘Liquidator’ and ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’, it was released in 1980 though so I can’t include it, ‘A Message To You Rudy’ is a great track though so that’s OK.

88 The Kinks – ‘Lola’

I’m pretty sure that we had this 45 in the house and it got played an awful lot for the same reason as before, not having that many records. I had no idea what it was about of course.

87 Stiff Little Fingers – ‘Nobody’s Hero’

There were a load of SLF tracks that I could have thrown in here, ‘Alternative Ulster’, ‘Suspect Device’ etc but this was probably my favourite. I didn’t have a copy but a friend did and it was another track repeatedly listened to in a bedroom.

86 The Undertones – ‘My Perfect Cousin’

I feel sure I had this single, although memory is hazy. It certainly had the piss taken out of it at school, mostly by my friend Dave who liked to push his nose to the side with one finger and sing it in a terrible Feargal Sharkey expression, in fact, he still does that nowadays.

85 Buzzcocks – ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’

Vague memories of this track as I wasn’t that aware of The Buzzcocks, but I liked it.

84 Joni Mitchell – ‘Big Yellow Taxi’

Another track that we had on 45 in the house, there were actually 3 singles that I played the most, which were this, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Charlie Rich and return To Sender’ by Elvis. All three would go on the record player, drop one by one and then I’d put them on again, and again, and again.

83 Althea & Donna – ‘Uptown Top Ranking’

This was a rather odd track at the time, at least for me as it was a genre that I rarely came into contact with, but one has to admit, it’s catchy as hell.

82 Jean Michel Jarre – ‘Oxygene part IV’

I’ve lost count of the number of times I heard this track, it seemed to be everywhere at one point. I seem to remember it even being the theme for a Science Show. I just looked it up, apparently it was alled ‘Where There’s Life’, which I remember now.

81 Chic – ‘Le Freak’

Well it’s a classic, and remains relevant with the latest Daft Punk release drawing heavily on the sound of Nile Rodgers, well, he actually plays on the Daft Punk album so you can’t really draw more heavily than that. This would be a track that I listened to without actually admitting I liked it, but how could I not like it?

80 Blondie – ‘Picture This’

Like so many teenage boys I had a planet sized crush on Debbie Harry, but she was more than just a look, and the band as a whole weren’t just bubblegum. I’ve harped on about just how good ‘Parallel Lines’ is before and I could easily include the whole damn thing, but will, instead, just pick a few tracks, this being one of my favourites.

79 The Jam – ‘The Eton Rifles’

Much like Boris Johnson I had little idea what this song was about, I thought it a song about war as I had never really listened to the lyrics closely. “The song recounts a street battle Paul Weller had read about in the newspapers concerning elements of a right-to-work march through Slough in 1978 breaking off to attack pupils from Eton who had been jeering the lunchtime marchers (hence “Hello, Hooray, an extremist scrape with the Eton Rifles”)”

78 The Stranglers – ‘Peaches’

There’s no official video for this so above is a live version. The single was a double A-side with pub rock song “Go Buddy Go” which was played on UK radio at the time and also on the band’s BBC TV Top of the Pops appearance because the sexual nature of the lyrics of “Peaches” caused the BBC to ban it. Hilarious really, but what a bass line.

77 Justin Hayward – Forever Autumn’

I was a huge fan of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds back around ’78 or ’79 and I’m pretty sure we had a copy, possibly on cassette. This was a track from it that made the charts sung by Moody Blues front man, Justin Hayward. I think it was preceded on the album by the voice of Richard Burton, which gave it a certain gravitas.

76 Supertramp – ‘The Logical Song’

It would appear there has been some litigation as the original video is not available. Another album that we had at some point, it was probably my brothers. I do remember that I listened to it a lot and I think we had it on vinyl. It has a good set of tracks on it, the ones I best remember being the title track, ‘Breakfast In America’, ‘Goodbye Stranger’ & ‘Take The Long Way Home’.

75 10cc – ‘Good Morning Judge’

Oh how I loved this album (Deceptive Bends) and played it to death, we had the cassette version and now I have the vinyl version which I picked up at a record fair for £3.50. It’s an undervalued piece of work I think and 10cc were pretty huge at one point but sort of faded away when they were expected to be bigger than Zeppelin.

74 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – ‘Blinded By The Light’

This is from the album ‘The Roaring Silence’ which you may recall is the one where the cover has an ear with a screaming mouth in it. I didn’t know at the time that it was written by Bruce Springsteen and thought it was their own song, which doesn’t actually matter, it’s a really good performance. It was another of my brothers albums I think but I have my own copy now, which, again, was £3.50 from a record fair.

73 XTC – ‘Making Plans For Nigel’

Nigel, what a dick, or that’s pretty much how I saw it when this single was out, also, his parents, dicks. The truth was that nobody was making pans for me and nobody seemed to want only what was best for me. Sad really.

72 The Who – ‘Who Are You’

I suppose I must have seen this on TV and heard it on the radio, I definitely didn’t own it, although I did later get ‘Face Dances’ which contains a good opening track and nothing else, I defy anybody to try and defend ‘Don’t let go the coat’. The song is one of those that always seems to have been there.

71 The Rolling Stones – ‘Fool To Cry’

This was on a tape that we had in the car and ‘Fool to cry’ was quite an appropriate truth at the time.

70 Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Jamming’

I completely fail to see how anybody could not love this song, and yes, it is how I like my doughnuts. It was all rather exotic at the time as I had never met anybody who wasn’t white at this point, it was another world.

69 Sparks – ‘No 1 Song In Heaven’

Now I’m pretty sure we had this in the house as a 12″ single, when it was number one. This was the first thing I ever heard by Sparks and it was very different, I think I was 12 at the time.

68 The Clash – ‘Tommy Gun’

A friend of mine had the 7″ of this and I feel reasonably sure that I somehow ended up with it at some point. What I do know is that the damn thing got played to death, and I’m still not bored of it.

67 Blondie – ‘Denis’

and on the 7th day God made Debbie Harry. Did I care that this was somebody else song? Nope. Do I care now? Nope. This was the first time I both saw and heard Blondie and I was, and still am, captivated.

66 Ram Jam – ‘Black Betty’

Didn’t everybody love this? It was only later that the guitar solo started sounding to me like the music from the Benny Hill Show during the inevitable chase sequence.

65 George Harrison – ‘My Sweet Lord’

I was 4 when this reached number 1, so I probably re-discovered it later, and when I did I played it until there was nothing left in the grooves to play. I remember being young and how some music felt rich and full and it just needed to be played time and again to keep experiencing the pure joy of it. I also remember that I thought the outro was too long.

64 Peter Gabriel – ‘Solsbury Hill’

1977, 10 years old, ‘Grab your things I’ve come to take you home’ were lyrics I found very pertinent.

63 Van Halen – ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’

Their debut album was, and still is, just brilliant. I never saw this video at the time as it wasn’t played anywhere that I had access to. All I knew was what was on the album cover, which all seemed very glamorous.

62 Gary Numan – ‘Cars’

Carefour, the first big supermarket in Britain, I was at one in Caerphilly and we bought the album there, although I think I wanted ‘Slow Train Coming’ by Bob Dylan, but this  was all very futuristic. I still listen to it today and for me, it really hasn’t aged a moment.

61 Sex Pistols – ‘Pretty Vacant’

This was in my singles collection and was played a hell of a lot. I’ll talk later about exactly what happened to my 7″ singles, but this was definitely one of my favorites, and I loved the cover as well!2654066

60 Elvis Costello – ‘Oliver’s Army’

I listened to this only this morning in an Apple playlist ‘Hits of 1979’ which also contains things like ‘Peaches & Herb’ & ‘Abba’ with ‘Chiquitita’, which highlights the wide variety of different genres that used to populate the singles charts back then.

59 The Ruts – ‘Babylons Burning’

I actually have no idea why I liked this as much as I did. I actually bought a Ruts best of CD just for this track and was somewhat disappointed when I played it (some 20 years after it was originally released) because it wasn’t as I remembered it. It’s here anyway because I know I loved it at the time.

58 Genesis – ‘Follow You Follow Me’

From the album ‘and then there were three’, which followed the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett, it was about the first proper hit that Genesis ever had and seeing them on TV was a real rarity until this point. Clearly when it came to picking a musical clan to hang my flag to, I went for the several flags option, it was a good single though, and album.

57 Squeeze – ‘Up The Junction’

Difford & Tilbrook wrote some really fabulous songs, but at the point this hit the charts it felt a little bit like a novelty single. Yes it spoke of teenage pregnancy and was hardly bubblegum, but nobody new then what the band was going to be and how good their future output would be. There was also ‘Cool For Cats’ which had a siniliar vibe, both reached number 2 in the UK charts, but probably my favourite track is coming up in a while.

56 The Police – Can’t Stand Losing You’

I had this in Blue vinyl, loved that, loved the cover and loved the song, including the B Side, ‘Dead End Job’. While many might pick ‘Reggatta de Blanc’ as their faviourite album, it will always be ‘Outlandos d’Amour’ for me, there’s only one bad song on it, which is ‘Sally’, it’s shit. I guess this is because, as I remember it, we were buying the singles before the album came out, with Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing You and So Loneley having originally been released in 1977, the album came out in 78 and the first two singles were re-issued.
the_police_cant2bstand2blosing2byou2b-2bblue2bvinyl2b2b2bsleeve-12785

55 David Dundas – ‘Jeans On’

I was 9, it was 1976 and I loved this and I seem to recall it was used to advertise Brutas Jeans, which possibly don’t exist as a company anymore. It is a pretty good song actually, I think I still love it. I’m sure I had a copy and it the cover was tied in with the advert, I’m going to look for it now……..I didn’t find it, but just because the internet doesn’t have it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

54 Elton John – ‘Rocket Man’

I didn’t really appreciate this at all initially, until my brother and his friend recorded an instrumental version of it on a Revox Reel to Reel that I thought sounded really good, so I gave the original more attention and, despite not being a huge Elton John fan, particularly his later work, I do really like this one.

53 Ian Dury & the Blockheads – ‘Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)’

A list of things Ian Dury liked, what could be simpler? And what a song:

“Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats
18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats
A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome, we can spare it – yellow socks.”

My mate Dave had the lyrics on his wall, it’s always good to have happy things on the wall.

52 Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Obviously this was massive, it was everywhere and it, possibly, marketdthe beginning of the music video era, or at least gave it a big leg up. It isn’t my faviourite track by Queen as I have always felt, with some justification, that they had 3 unfinished songs and just stuck them together, but it does seem to work.

51 The Stranglers – ‘No More Heroes’

The stranglers released 4 singles in 1977 and they were all brilliant, Rattus Norvegicus is a brilliant album, but this wasn’t from that,it was from the next album, it has Leon Trotsky, Lenny Bruce, William Shakespeare and Sancho Panza mentioned. which you did’t tend to get in most singles of the time, and the keyboard riff is just wonderful. This is the track that Elastica’s ‘Waking Up’ was taken to court for being overly influenced by.

50 Elvis Presley – ‘Way Down’

I do believe that had Elvis not died this track would probably have sunk without making much of an impact, maybe appearing at number 40 in the charts for a week and then it’s gone, however, it went to number 1. From my perspective it was deserved regardless of increased sales due to his passing. I had been an Elvis fan since I was a small kid, rather proud of knowing all the words to ‘Return To Sender’, even though I actually didn’t, I just thought I did.

49 The Clash – ‘London Calling’

The best this track did in the charts was number 11 back in ’79 when it was released but that really didn’t matter as that was enough to cause it to still be around today and widely considered as a classic, because it bloody well is.

48 Bob Dylan – ‘Stuck inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again’

I bought this in a newsagents as a 45″, I can’t remember what the b-side was (I just looked it up, it was called ‘Rita May’ and I don’t remember it at all). This got played a little bit at the time and it was much later that I actually started to like it. The version I bought was released in 1977.

47 Nick Lowe – ‘I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass’

I remember the ‘Live Stiffs Tour’ and I think Lowe was on it with Ian Dury and maybe Elvis Costello, so I paid attention tot his and really rather liked it. I do have the 7″ of this but not in a picture sleeve.

46 ELO – ‘Mr Blue Sky’

I could and possibly should have picked more ELO songs, but this was THE ONE, above all others that I liked. I could include any of the following, “Livin’ Thing”, “Telephone Line”, “Turn to Stone”, “Wild West Hero”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, “It’s Over”, “Shine a Little Love”, “The Diary of Horace Wimp”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Confusion” or “Last Train to London”, they had a lot of hits in the 70’s and I loved all of these.

45 Blondie – ‘Hanging On The Telephone’

‘I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall, If you don’t answer, I’ll just ring it off the wall’ Another Blondie hit that turned out to not be their own song, but I don’t care, I heard this version first and they sort of own it.

44 Deep Purple – ‘Smoke On The Water’

Oddly enough I don’t actually like this song that much, not any more anyway. This will be the first time I’ve listened to it in years. It was great for the long haired denim clad kid I once was, but two pf those things are no longer true so it just doesn’t fit. At the time of course, the riff was so easy to play, everybody did, including me. It made me feel like a proper guitarist.

43 The Cure – ‘A Forest’

At the same newsagent I bought the Dylan single ‘Stuck inside of mobile….” I bought this, I think they may have been ex-jukebox singles as some were in picture sleeves, some weren’t, and there was a series of singles which I think were called ‘Old Gold’, there were a few of them, so a mish mash really. When I got this home and played it I found it all rather creepy, because it was, and still is.

42 T. Rex – ‘Get It On’

I have a really vague memory of watching the Marc Bolan TV show, I’ve seen it on youtube since but I’m sure that I saw it broadcast live. I also once decorated an entire apartment on my own while listening to Marc Bolan greatest hits on cassette, it was the only cassette I had with me at the time and it took me a week to decorate, so the songs are ingrained in my brain now. I probably should have chosen 20th Century Boy.

41 The Jam – ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’

This is still a favourite of mine, it is all rather British and the picture it paints is so vivid. “”Hey boy” they shout, “have you got any money?”
And I said, “I’ve a little money and a take-away curry
I’m on my way home to my wife.”

40 The Knack – ‘My Sharona’

Oh how Kurt Cobain and I loved The Knack, although Kurt probably loved them more than me as I still really only know this one song, but what a song!

39 Bee Gees – ‘Stayin’ Alive’

1977 and Saturday Night Fever was everywhere, although I really only saw clips of it in music videos as I was only 11 and wasn’t allowed in to the cinema to see it. This added some mystery to the whole thing and of course, John Travolta was the coolest cat in the world then. The follow up movie, well, he was then the least cool cat on the planet.

38 Sex Pistols – ‘Anarchy In The UK’

John Lydon is a fairly inflammatory character, as evidenced by this slice of rebellion, which, in it’s day, really was quite a revelation. It was an angry, anti-establishment rant, and though I probably didn’t understand it in full at the time, I do think it managed to, in a diluted fashion, make me distrustful of large corporations and governments in general, along with George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

37 Public Image Limited – ‘Death Disco’

I thought this was a pile of shit after seeing it performed on Top of the Pops, it was a million miles away from the debut single and absolutely not connecting in any way with what I thought of as listenable music, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. I had a copy of the 7″ from somewhere, it may have been somebody else’s even and it was a wholly different listen to the TOTP performance. I loved it.

36 Squeeze – ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’

I’m not absolutely sure when I started liking this, it wasn’t immediately, but it wasn’t recently either, so at some point in the last 30 something years I started looking back on it fondly and was able to appreciate the quality of the song writing.

35 The Police – ‘Roxanne’

I was a huge fan of the Police, the first two albums at least, they lost me with Zenyatta Mondatta, specifically “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”, but this, well this was something else. I would have been 11 or 12 when I first heard it and and loved everything about it, even the single cover, there was, at the time, just something quite captivating about the sound.

34 Dave Edmunds – ‘Girls Talk’

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this, I just liked it, along with Nick Lowe, I think they were on the same label or something.

33 The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

Everybody knows this one don’t they? It was a huge number 1 of course and it had an interesting, although macabre, back story. They had a two year run of hits from 1977 to 1979 but everything after that was a bit crap I thought. I’d be surprised if many people could name any single from 1980 onwards. This though, well, it was pretty damn good.

32 Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’

This seemed, to me, to be the first rock/metal (or whatever) track that had any success as a single, and it was so damn heavy in comparison with everything else that was around at the time. Also, I could just about play it on guitar, so that was a plus.

31 Gerry Rafferty – ‘Baker Street’

This was special, and I still think it is. Great songwriting, instrumentation and delivery, it really deserved to be as massive as it was. It’s instantly recognisable and that saxophone, and the guitar sole, just brilliant. It was always worth waiting through the chart run down to get to this at number one. The album, ‘City to City’ is pretty good as well.

30 The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star’

I have a tale to tell of this song. So a mate of mine and I bumped into a guy who was a year older than us, in the park, and got talking. He told us he had a load of singles and we went over to his place to listen to some of them, the first of which was ‘Video killed the radio star’, we then listened to a few more and while doing so his younger brother came in, went to the corner of the room, dropped his trousers, took a shit on the carpet, and left the room. Nothing was said, absolutely nothing, so we made some excuse about having to be somewhere and left. Never went back.

29 Dr. Feelgood – ‘Milk & Alcohol’

Pub Rock done exactly right. I’m so glad I remembered this one. Things were confused from a genre perspective at the time, not that it really mattered, but this sort of fell in with punk somehow, at least in my mind it did.

28 Kraftwerk – ‘The Model’

It was so different both in sound and presentation, I seem to recall not knowing if they were even a group or not or whether it was all created by a computer (which were highly mystical things back then). I’m still listening to it all these years later and it still somehow feels futuristic.

27 BA Robertson – ‘Bang Bang’

Another single I had, I thought it the greatest thing ever at the time and ate up all Robertson related information from TV and magazines. He turned out to be pretty much a one hit wonder, I think there was also ‘Kool in a Kaftan’ or something like that. My interest faded quickly.

26 Joe Jackson – ‘Is she really going out with him’

Jackson didn’t really sit well in the genres of the time, it was sort of New Wave but not quite, however, he did put out some great songs and I still listen to this now and again having bought the vinyl, another £3.50 album at a record fair.

25 David Bowie – ‘Life On Mars?’

So different, so special. I hadn’t exactly forgotten about this track but it was revived for me by the TV series of the same name. It really is incredibly moving despite seemingly being complete gibberish.

24 AC/DC – ‘Highway To Hell’

It was this or ‘whole lotta Rosie’.

23 Tubeway Army – ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’

That this still sounds fresh to me even today is testament to the impact it had when it was originally released. There has been much talk about Numan appropriating this or that from various places, but nobody did this like he did this. He’s still going strong and still releasing good music.

22 Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Christine’

She is not playing that guitar. I was quite the fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and almost went for ‘The Staircase Mystery’ but this one resonated with me a bit more I think, probabaly becasue I like the line “Christine, the strawberry girl,
Christine, banana split lady” and no, I have no idea why.

21 M – ‘Pop Muzik’

This popped up the other day in a documentary about Electronic Music, apparently it was all originally written on guitar. It still pops up on Radio 6 now and again and was just a damn fine single.

20 The Specials – ‘Gangsters’

Ska, Pop, Punk, it’s all in there and they are the best band ever to come out of Coventry. I had a drink in the same bar they were in once, in Coventry, I never said hello, though I wish I had. Terry Hall wasn’t there.

19 Queen – ‘We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You’

I had a chopper bike and a little tape recorded. I would ride up and down the street with the tape player strapped tot he handlebars playing a cassette of ‘News Of The World’, which contained both of these tracks almost as one. It’s probably still my favourite Queen album.

18 Ian Dury – ‘Hit Me With Your Rythm Stick’

Genius, pure and simple. I have loved it since the first moment I heard it and was delighted when I saw him live and he didn’t turn his back on his hits. “In the deserts of Sudan/ And the gardens of Japan/ From Milan to Yucatan/ Every woman every man”, hearing those opening lyrics is still a joy, and it has a really bloody good guitar solo.

17 Donna Summer – ‘I Feel Love’

It’s Giorgio Moroder and it’s infectious. This did so much for shaping the music that was to come and is arguably the best Disco song ever created.

16 Stealers Wheel – ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’

I didn’t hear the original first, I heard a version by Denis Waterman on his 1976 album ‘Down Wind Of Angels’ that belonged to my mum. Yes, the Denis Waterman who “wrote the theme music, sang the theme music”. This caused me to find the original, which is far superior, and included Gerry Rafferty again.

15 Stevie Wonder – ‘Superstition’

I think it was the keyboard part that really got me on this, it sounds like a funky bass. I seem to remember that Wonder actually played all the instruments on this, great song, very talented bloke.

14 Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’

Despite the double negative in the lyrics, “we don’t need no education”, it is a tiny bit of genius. I suspect Roger Waters knew all about the double negative and it is meant ironically. As I was at school at the time it resonated and was not at odds with the punk and new wave songs that were also around at the time. Not to me anyway.

13 Terry Jacks – ‘Seasons In The Sun’

This is just one of those that was on the radio all the time, possibly during a ridiculously long and hot summer, and I’m stuck with it in the memory bank.

12 John Lennon – ‘Imagine’

Although I think it is overrated as a song, that doesn’t mean I think it is bad, I just don’t think it is the greatest song ever written, which is a title it has claimed a few times.

11 Fleetwood Mac = Tusk

I wanted the album that this came from so badly, but it was a double, and it cost more, and I had no money whatsoever to buy it. This track made the whole thing seem very mysterious and I just wanted to hear the rest of it to find out what was going on.

10 Wings – ‘Band On The Run’

I was very into this at the time but it’s interesting now to see the celebrities that were on the album cover, many haven’t really endured and I doubt that most young folk would know who they all were. Other than the band they were James Coburn, John Conteh, Clement Freud, Kenny Lynch, Christopher Lee & Michael Parkinson.

9 Sex Pistols – ‘God Save The Queen’

Am I remembering right but didn’t this get to number 1 in the charts but was never officially acknowledged as such. Maybe there were fixing allegations. I know BBC radio wouldn’t play it. Understandable at the time really but it just made more people buy it. The cover was amazing, I definitely remember having a copy of this one.

8 The Motors – ‘Airport’

Another from when music was accessible mostly via the radio, we were at the mercy of the BBC. It was a cross over period where I started defining what I did and didn’t like and began to see that being told what is good and what isn’t was limiting, and I didn’t always agree of course.

7 Public Image Ltd – ‘Public Image’

I still think this is one of the greatest 45’s ever released, though few would probably agree with me, but I remember being in Woolworths and picking it up. It had a fake newspaper cover and, again, I really wanted to buy it, but couldn’t. I have followed P.I.L ever since and have every album on vinyl nowadays. Sometimes bands just connect with the listener, there is no explaining it really.

6 Blondie – ‘Heart Of Glass’

I care not for the ‘Sold Out’ accusations that were thrown around at the time, this is a brilliant single taken from a brilliant album and just served to deepen further my crush on Debbie Harry.

5 Lindisfarne – Run For Home

I appropriated a cassette from my Dad of Lindisfarne Live and fell asleep listening to it every night for years, so they have a special place in my memory. This wasn’t on the live album, but it is my favourite track they released as a single.

4 David Bowie – ‘Ashes to Ashes’

What the hell is this? Oh my god this is amazing, look at the visuals – were some of the things I may have said when this was out. In hindsight the video is a bit crap, but not at the time, it was all rather groundbreaking. It was an extraordinary single for a singularly extraordinary artist.

3 The Clash – ‘London Calling’

Well it’s the Clash, and it is London Calling and it had to be here somewhere. There are many many songs I’ve left out that could easily have made up another 100, but not this one, the song along with the video, well, it’s bloody iconic.

2 Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi

Yeah, I know, Plastic indeed, but at the time I loved it and still do to some degree, it is catchy as hell, and no, I’ve no idea what it is about. It was this or ‘Gordon Is A Moron’ by Jilted John

1 City Boy – 5709

I have been singing this in my head for about 35 years off and on and have never been able to remember who it was by, I had to look it up for this. It isn’t number 1, these aren’t ranked. I’m not even sure if this was much of a hit but I must have heard it a lot at some point for it to stick in my brain for so long.

Here are all of them in a playlist, just in case anybody wanted to play them all at once, I can’t imagine why anybody would except me, it is the soundtrack to my childhood I guess ater all:

So what happened to all my records? I moved from Didcot to Leamington Spa when I was 16 and I gave everty single one of them away, for free. What a fucking idiot.

Verian Thomas – Untitled (With Crows)

FKA Twigs – Sad Day Video – Wow!

Return to work

After 4 months working from home I returned to work for a day on Thursday for the first time. My office was empty and it was a peaceful and productive work day. While there I collected the four albums that had arrived from Rough Trade while I had been away. The album selections are unknown to me so I find out what they are as I open them. As things stand I’ve had a quick listen to all of them and I would say at this point that I really like one of them, the other three I’m not sure about at all, I know I wouldn’t have bought them if I was browsing at a store or online, but this is the music discovery aspect of the monthly subscription to Rough Trade.

Briefly, these are the 4 albums I received.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

Ben Lukas Boysen – Mirage

This was the one I liked, the others may well grow on me, we’ll see.

1001 Other Albums – 1 – Yma Sumac – Voice of the Xtabay

So this is probabaly a rather leftfield choice and a difficult album to kick proceedings off with as parts of it sound rather odd 70 years after it’s release, but odd in a rather brilliant way. Voice of the Xtabay is the first studio album by Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac, released in 1950 by Capitol Records and produced and composed by Les Baxter, along with Moisés Vivanco (whom she later married I believe, then divorced when he sired twins with another partner then remarried and subsequently divorced) and John Rose. Sumac sings magnificently on the album, accompanied by ethnic percussion and musical variations influenced by the music of Peru.

Sumac’s vocal range of 5 octaves (some say 4 1/2) is quite startling at times, particularly when in the high register, the control she has over that voice is amazing as she moves from baritone to whistle register.

The more I listen th this album, and others of hers, the more I like them. I’ve only very recently discovered her work and amd very pleased that I did so.

Full List

Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Over a whatsapp video call, David showed me a new CD he had bought, I nodded politely as though I recognised the band and knew all about them and we moved on to the next one of three. The album was Black Pumas by Black Pumas and I thought little more of it until the very next day I somehow found myself in a record store for the first time in months since the lockdown started. I didn’t really have anything in mind to buy and was browsing around when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of the album. I bought it, unheard, on a sort of recommendation by David. I think if I had gone to the store with a purpose, looking for something specific, I probably wouldn’t have, but apart from the recommendation it was on a nice splatter vinyl and came with a bonus CD, also it wasn’t particularly expensive.

I’ve played it several times since then and really do rather like it. If you haven’t heard them yet here is their track ‘Colours’ (which I’ve spelt correctly) for you to have a listen to before I go on:

So who are they? They are singer Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada who got together in 2017 and released their debut album, Black Pumas, on June 21, 2019. They performed at South by Southwest in 2019 and won a best new band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. On November 20, 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That’s quite a start.

Black Pumas performed “Colors” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! following their network TV debut on CBS This Morning along with a taping on season 45 of Austin City Limits. The band’s single “Colors” later reached number one on AAA radio. The single has been streamed over 60 million times across all platforms. Meanwhile, the official live video of “Colors” has been viewed over 25 million times on YouTube. Despite all this, nobody has pointed out that Colours has a U in it.

In their hometown of Austin, Texas, Black Pumas became the first band to sell out four consecutive shows at Stubbs, one of the city’s live venues, and on May 7, 2020, mayor Steve Adler proclaimed the date as Black Pumas Day.

The whole album is consistently good and doesn’t step outside it’s aesthtic with the production staying true troughout to a sort of modern 70’s feel that has been quite popular of late.

This is roughly what the vinyl looks like, not my picture but my copy is pretty similar:

Tracklist

A1Black Moon Rising
A2Colors
A3Know You Better
A4Fire
A5OCT 33
B1Stay Gold
B2Old Man
B3Confines
B4Touch The Sky
B5Sweet Conversations
Bonus CD
CD-1Black Moon Rising
CD-2Colors
CD-3Fire
CD-4Eleanor Rigby

I’ve yet to listen to the bonus CD, I’m not sure if they are demos or live or something else. I just checked, it’s a live session. SO that’s something to look forward to.

Manuel Göttsching ‎– Inventions For Electric Guitar

Shortly before Lockdown I saw a copy of ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ in my local record store and completely ignored it as, based on the cover, it was probabaly not my thing at all, soI flicked past it and pretty much forgot about it. Then, about a month ago I was reading an article on Krautrock and I realised that he was from Ash Ra Temple, which made me listen to them and then try and find this album on spotify and, to my suprise, it wasn’t there. I did find it on youtube and have put it down below if you would like a listen.

1.“Echo Waves”17:45
2.“Quasarsphere”6:34
3.“Pluralis”21:36

Although it is a solo album and all the instruments (Guitar) are played by Göttsching it was originally subtittled Ash Ra Tempel VI, technically making it the sixth and final album under the Ash Ra Tempel name.

Göttsching started his career in music at a young age, with various Berlin pop and blues bands in the late-1960’s, including the Steeple Chase Bluesband. He was the mainstay of Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, and also worked with The Cosmic Jokers, and other Kosmische Kuriere projects. Later he established a project together with Michael Hoenig, and on numerous occasions he also played as a guest/collaborator along with Klaus Schulze.

I like repetitive music that I can get lost in, I also like complex music, this album is both, and at times it can get pretty heavy. I can identify with it too as I released a couple of albums of my own that utilised only one guitar and it is difficult to differentiate the tones and sounds when you have only a single instrument. While Manuel was decades before me and is much better at it than I could ever be, I’m going to put a track called ‘Firefly Dance’ from the album ‘Massive’ that was recorded using only one guitar and nothing else.

Verian Thomas – Firefly Dance – From the album ‘Massive’

I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Göttsching and whenever I listen back to tracks I’ve done in the past I get the urge to set all the gear up again and have another go, then something mundane happens, like needing to take the recycling out, and that urge fades as quickly as it arrived, but maybe, one of these days, I will inflict further noise pollution on a world that really already has enough, the only thing I really need, is time.

Top 40 Joni Mitchell Songs

Quite why I start these almost impossible lists is something I probably need to speak quite earnestly to a therapist about, however, here I am, doing it again. As always it is just my opinion and sometimes I forget the odd track or two, so feel free to demand that anything I’ve excluded is included. I’m not going to write about all of them, but I will about some, just because I will have thought about something to say.

I fully appreciate the pointlessness of such lists having just listened to pretty much the entire back catalogue and again realising that I could probably choose any of 200 songs in any order and it would be just as valid, and I know the moment I finished this I got it wrong, but no matter, it is how I feel today, right now, in ten minutes or an hour it will change, but that’s OK.

40 – The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms) (Chalk Mark In a Rain Storm)

39 – Night of the Iguana (Shine)

38 – The Magdalene Laundries (Turbulent Indigo)

37 – The Last Time I Saw Richard (Travelogue version)

36 – Chelsea Morning (Clouds)

In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mitchell explained: “I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this colored slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colors all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There’s even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time… before I had a record deal. I think it’s a very sweet song, but I don’t think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those early songs seem like the work of an ingenue.”

I bought a job lot of 5 Joni Mitchell albums from Ebay, one of which was Clouds and this song, track 2, was the one that grabbed me and drew me in to the album. Even songs she doesn’t think are all that good are, compared to a lot of other writers, quite wonderful.

Interesting fact, Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter Chelsea after this song. They got the idea for the name when they were walking through the Chelsea area of London and heard the Judy Collins version of the song. According to Hillary Clinton (stated in her book Living History), Bill said to her, “If we ever have a daughter, we should name her Chelsea.”

35 – The Boho Dance (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

Full disclosure, this is the first Joni Mitchell album I ever owned, bought when I was 16 I think, so 8 years after it was released, and I played it to death. Other than bits and pieces I heard here and there it was my proper introduction to her music and it has probably framed everything I have have listened to since. The album did not receive much acclaim upon its release (The online Rolling Stone review is particularly scathing, some reviewers did rate it highly though) but I’m happy to report that they critics who panned it are all wrong. The problem, I think, was that they wanted folky Mitchell, and this most certainly isn’t that. She was experimenting with a jazzier feel and new forms, which I happen to think she pulled off magnificently.

34 – In France they kiss on main street (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

33 – Amelia (Hejira)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I wrote the album while traveling cross-country by myself and there is this restless feeling throughout it… the sweet loneliness of solitary travel. In this song, I was thinking of Amelia Earhart and addressing it from one solo pilot to another, sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do.”

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms

32 – Man From Mars (Taming the Tiger)

This is a later album, 1998, and I don’t know it very well. All my Joni Mitchell albums are on vinyl and this was never released other than on CD and Cassette so it doesn’t get much play time but this particularly stood out for me.

I fall apart
Everytime I think of you
Swallowed by the dark
There is no center to my life now
No grace in my heart
Man from Mars
This time you went too far

31 – Come in from the Cold (Night Ride Home)

Another album I’m not that familiar with, from 1991, and one which I really must get a copy of. I’ve given it a good listen over the past few weeks and it was both the hook and the opening lyrics that really caught me on this track.

Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
And so with just a touch of our fingers
I could make our circuitry explode
All we ever wanted
Was just to come in from the cold

30 – My Secret Place (Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm)

Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm is the 13th studio album, released in 1988. The album features various duets with guest artists such as Peter Gabriel on “My Secret Place”, Willie Nelson on “Cool Water”, Don Henley on “Snakes and Ladders”, Billy Idol and Tom Petty on the track “Dancin’ Clown”. Henley also performs backing vocals on “Lakota”, and Wendy and Lisa perform backing vocals on “The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)”. Obviously, I would pick the Gabriel track.

29 – Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody (Wild Things Run Fast)

There is an honesty that Mitchell sometimes conveys that, quite frankly, is painful, and it happens in this song where slipping into Unchained Melody seems the only way to end it.

Christmas is sparkling
Out on Carol’s lawn
This girl of my childhood games
With kids nearly grown and gone
Grown so fast
Like the turn of a page
We look like our mothers did now
When we were those kids’ age

Nothing lasts for long

28 – Talk to Me (Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter)

So there are two reasons I love this song, one is the bass of Jaco Pastorius, the guy was quite brilliant. The second is the way that Mitchell’s opening lyrics paint such a vivid word picture, one that is, perhaps, rather unexpected.

There was a moon and a street lamp
I didn’t know I drank such a lot
‘Till I pissed a tequila-anaconda
The full length of the parking lot!

27- Song For Sharon (Hejira)

26 – Hejira (Hejira)

25 – Coyote (Hejira)

This song was written about the actor/writer/playwright Sam Shepard during Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Sam Shepard wrote The Rolling Thunder Logbook, which is an account of the tour.

The “woman at home” in this song is Patti Smith, who declined the invitation to join the musicians on the Rolling Thunder Revue.

I’ve included two videos as I like them both.

24 – Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

“Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow” is an acoustic guitar–based song with stream-of-consciousness lyrics, focused on women standing up to male dominance and proclaiming their own existence as individuals. 

23 – The Jungle Line (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

22 – Big Yellow Taxi (Ladies of the Canyon)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”

The line, “Took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum, charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em” refers to Foster Gardens, a place in Waikiki which is basically a tree museum. It’s a huge garden full of trees so tall you feel like Alice in Wonderland.

The line, “Put away that DDT now, give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees” refers to the insecticide DDT, which was used on crops. The deleterious effects of the chemical were in the news, as Americans learned that their food was being contaminated by its use – those spotless apples looked great but held hidden dangers. Also, birds were eating the insects and fish poisoned by DDT, which caused them to lay brittle eggs and put many species in danger, including the bald eagle. In 1972, DDT was banned for most uses.

The song holds a particularly poignant memory for me as it is one of three 45’s that I had as a child, left behind by my mother I think, and I would play it repeatedly. I think it was an original 1970 release with Woodstock on the B-Side.

21 – Free Man In Paris (Court & Spark)

The “Free Man” of the song is David Geffen, who was in charge of Mitchell’s record label. The song is about the pressures the music industry puts on their artists.

Mitchell and Geffen rose up the ranks together. In the late ’60s, he was establishing himself as an agent (an important early client was another mighty female songwriter: Laura Nyro) and she was making a name for herself with her music. They became good friends, and when Geffen started Asylum Records, Mitchell recorded for the label – her 1972 album For The Roses was her first on Asylum. The two confided in each other, and Geffen would often talk about the extraordinary pressures he faced as a high-powered music mogul. Mitchell wrote “Free Man in Paris” based on what he told her: Where Geffen felt most alive and unencumbered was in Paris, where nobody could call him up and ask for favours.

José Feliciano played guitar on this track. He was working on another project at the studios (A&M in Los Angeles) when he heard the song coming from Mitchell’s studio and offered to play.

20 – Same Situation (Court & Spark)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I don’t want to name names or kiss and tell, but basically it is a portrait of a Hollywood bachelor and the parade of women through his life, how he toys with yet another one. So many women have been in this position, being vulnerable at a time when you need affection or are searching for love, and you fall into the company of a Don Juan.”

19 – Help Me (Court & Spark)

In this song, Mitchell sings about a guy she’s falling in love with while at the same time knowing the relationship is doomed, as he is “a rambler and a gambler” who loves his freedom. Mitchell never revealed the identity of this person (if any – she says that not all her songs are autobiographical), but the two prime candidates would be Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, both of whom she dated in the early ’70s.

Interesting fact, Prince gave this song a shout out on his Sign O’ The Times track
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, where he sings about a tryst with a waitress who tells him it’s her favourite song.

18 – For The Roses (For the Roses)

The whole album is new to me having picked up a copy only last year, which is great for me as it is like having new material even though it is nearly 40 years old.

17 – Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (For the Roses)

16 – Edith and the Kingpin (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

This is the song that prompted me to buy the album having heard it on The Friday Rock Show.

“Edith” in this song was inspired by the famous French singer Edith Piaf. In an interview with Mojo magazine February 2008, Joni Mitchell was discussing her songwriting: “Sometimes you write about the exact thing you saw, but other times you take something that happened over here and put it with something over there. In ‘Edith And The Kingpin,’ part of it is from a Vancouver pimp I met and part of it is Edith Piaf. It’s a hybrid, but all together it makes a whole truth.”

15 – Cactus Tree (Song to the Seagull)

“Cactus Tree” is the final song on Joni Mitchell’s debut album, Song To A Seagull. It’s about several men who are in love with a woman, with each story tied together by the common theme of the unnamed woman’s need for freedom and resistance to romantic commitment. In every case, the woman “thinks she loves them all” but ultimately is always “too busy being free.”

The song is written in the third person, but Mitchell is an autobiographical songwriter and the female subject in the song is herself. The feeling is that Mitchell is torn over her simultaneous need for love and her need for freedom, with freedom always ultimately winning out. Every verse tells the story of a lover, or an overview of several lovers, identified with archetypal personas like “a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store.”

Mitchell has called herself a “serial monogamist.” She carried the inner tension presented in this song throughout her life.

14 – Urge for Going (B-side of the “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” )

What I find great about this clip is how the guys either side of her look blown away by Mitchells performance as though they know she has something they never will.

13 – A Case of You (Blue)

The version found on Blue features Mitchell playing Appalachian dulcimer, accompanied by James Taylor on acoustic guitar and Russ Kunkel on drums. Kunkel is widely regarded as one of the top session drummers of the 1970s.

Joni Mitchell told Robert Hilburn in a 1994 interview regarding this song: “I think men write very dishonestly about breakups. I wanted to be capable of being responsible for my own errors. If there was friction between me and another person, I wanted to be able to see my participation in it so I could see what could be changed and what could not. That is part of the pursuit of happiness. You have to pull the weeds in your soul when you are young, when they are sprouting, otherwise they will choke you.” 

12 – River (Blue)

At the start of 1970, Joni Mitchell’s relationship with her boyfriend Graham Nash was crumbling. On top of this, she was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the mass adulation her recordings were receiving. The songstress needed to get away, so she took off on a trip to Europe, metaphorically skating away on a river to escape the crazy scene. While Mitchell was in Crete, she sent Nash a telegram to tell him their romance was over. On “River,” the Canadian singer gives her perspective on the doomed relationship as she yearns to escape the emotional bonds. She admits to being “hard to handle” and blames herself for losing “the best baby I ever had.”

11- Court & Spark (Court & Spark)

The title track from what I think was her most commercially succesful release.

10 – California (Blue)

In this song, Mitchell sings of going home to her beloved California. She sings as though she’s been on a long journey – and indeed, she has. After a tough breakup with her longtime boyfriend Graham Nash, Mitchell hoofed her way across Europe. It was during that journey when Mitchell penned many of the songs on her Blue album.

This song, and many of the songs on this album, were inspired by the jazz style of the great Miles Davis.

9 – Blue (Blue)

The title track on Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece 1971 album, the song touches on depression, general sadness and the ways people use to escape from them told over a beautiful piano melody.

Blue
Songs are like tattoos
You know I’ve been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away

Hey, blue
There is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in

8 – Carey (Blue)

Carey was a real person Joni met in Matala. He had flaming red hair and often wore a turban. They met, says Mitchell, when Carey “blew out of a restaurant in Greece, literally. Kaboom! I heard, facing the sunset. I turned around and this guy is blowing out the door of this restaurant. He was a cook; he lit a gas stove and it exploded. Burned all the red hair off himself right through hiswhite Indian turban. I went, ‘That was an interesting entrance-I’ll takenote of that.'”

The following transcript of the introduction to this song that Mitchell gave during a performance at the Troubadour is on this site devoted to Crete:

“I went to Greece a couple years ago and over there I met a very unforgettable character. I have a hard time remembering people’s names, like, so I have to remember things by association, even unforgettable characters I have to remember by association, so his name was ‘Carrot’ Raditz, Carey Raditz, and oh, he’s a great character. He’s got sort of a flaming red personality, and flaming red hair and a flaming red appetite for red wine and he fancied himself to be a gourmet cook, you know, if he could be a gourmet cook in a cave in Matala. And he announced to my girlfriend and I the day that we met him that he was the best cook in the area and he actually was working at the time I met him – he was working at this place called the Delphini restaurant – until it exploded, singed half of the hair off of his beard and his legs, and scorched his turban, melted down his golden earrings.

“Anyway, one day he decided he was going to cook up a feast, you know, so we had to go to market because, like, in the village of Matala there was one woman who kind of had a monopoly – well actually there were three grocery stores, but she really had a monopoly, and because of her success and her affluence, she had the only cold storage in the village, too. So she had all the fresh vegetables and all the cold soft drinks and she could make the yogurt last a lot longer than anyone else, and we didn’t feel like giving her any business that day. Rather than giving her our business we decided to walk ten miles to the nearest market.

“So I had ruined the pair of boots that I’d brought with me from the city, because they were really ‘citified,’ kind of slick city boots that were meant to walk on flat surfaces. The first night there we drank some Raki and I tried to climb the mountain and that was the end of those shoes. So he lent me these boots of his which were like Li’l Abner boots – like those big lace-up walking boots – and a pair of Afghani socks, which made my feet all purple at the end of the day. And I laced them up around my ankles and I couldn’t touch any – the only place my foot touched was on the bottom, you know, there was nothing rubbing in the back or the sides – they were huge – and he wasn’t very tall, either, come to think of it, was kind of strange – I guess he had sort of webbed feet or something. But we started off on this long trek to the village, I forget the name of it now, between Matala and Iraklion – and started off in the cool of the morning. And by the time we got halfway there we were just sweltering, me in these thick Afghani socks and heavy woolens and everything. So we went into the ruins of King Phestos’ palace to sit down and have a little bit of a rest, and while we were there these two tourist buses pulled up and everybody got off the buses in kind of an unusual symmetry, you know, they all sort of walked alike and talked alike and they all kind of looked alike. And they all filed over to a series of rubble-y rocks- a wall that was beginning to crumble – lined themselves up in a row and took out their viewing glasses, overgrown opera glasses, and they started looking at the sky. And suddenly this little speck appeared on the horizon that came closer and closer, this little black speck.

“Carey was standing behind all of this leaning on his cane, and as it came into view he suddenly broke the silence of this big crowd and he yells out, ‘it’s ah MAAGPIE’ in his best North Carolina drawl. And suddenly all the glasses went down in symmetry and everybody’s heads turned around to reveal that they were all very birdlike looking people. They had long skinny noses – really – they had been watching birds so long that they looked like them, you know – and this one woman turned around and she says to him (in British accent) “it’s NOT a magpie – it’s a crooked crow.” Then she very slowly and distinctly turned her head back, picked up her glasses, and so did everybody else, and we kept on walking. Bought two kilos of fish which would have rotted in the cave hadn’t it been for the cats.

“When we got back from that walk, Stelios, who was the guy who ran the Mermaid Cafe, had decided to put an addition on his kitchen, which turned out to be really illegal and it was so illegal, as a matter of fact, that the Junta dragged him off to jail. And torture was legal over there – they burnt his hands and his feet with cigarette butts mainly because they hated, you know, all of the Canadians and Americans and wandering Germans living in the caves, but they couldn’t get them out of there because it was controlled by the same archaeologist that controlled the ruins of King Phestos’ palace, and he didn’t mind you living there as long as you didn’t Day-Glo all of the caves. And everyone was, like, putting all of their psychedelia over all this ancient writing. So they carted him off to jail.”

7 – The Circle Game (Ladies of the Canyon)

In this song, Mitchell tells the story of a child’s journey to adulthood, using a carousel as a metaphor for the years that go by, pointing out how we can look back, but we can’t return to our past.

The song opens with the young boy enjoying the wonder of youth, but looking forward to getting older. In the second verse, he is 16 and driving. The final verse finds him at 20, with his dreams tempered a bit, but still with high hopes for his future.

6 – Woodstock (Ladies of the Canyon)

Mitchell most likely could have, and would have, performed at Woodstock but her manager, David Geffen, made the decision that she would not join her peers on stage in Bethel, N.Y., where the officially titled Woodstock Music and Arts Fair was being held. Mitchell was booked to appear on The Dick Cavett Show the day after the festival, and Geffen took the calculated risk that it was more important for the singer-songwriter to get the exposure the popular national TV program would bring her than to sing for the hippies upstate, who might not even pay attention. Getting stuck in a traffic jam would not do her any good either, Geffen reasoned.

Geffen and Mitchell instead holed up in a hotel room in New York, watching news reports on the festival as friends like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (also Geffen clients) played to hundreds of thousands of rock fans.

After the festival, Graham Nash, involved in a romantic relationship with Mitchell at the time, excitedly regaled her with the details of the event: how it truly felt like a turning point, a sea change, how the crowd was “half a million strong and everywhere there was a song and a celebration.” Mitchell grabbed a pen and paper and started to write.

5 – My Old Man (Blue)

My old man, he’s a singer in the park
He’s a walker in the rain
He’s a dancer in the dark
We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall
Keeping us tied and true no, my old man
Keeping away my blues

4 – Willy (Ladies of the Canyon)

Graham Nash, whose nickname was Willy, left his crumbling marriage, moved in with Mitchell and they lived together in her house for two years. She eventually split from him with a telegram from Greece stating, ‘If you hold sand too tightly in your hand, it will run through your fingers. Love, Joan.’

3 – Little Green (Blue)

A song to the daughter she gave up. If you do not know the story it is worth looking up and reading, it is a tragic tale that initially seemed to have a happy ending, but things started to go wrong a few years after mother and daughter were reunited.

2 – Morning Morgantown (Ladies of the Canyon)

I would very much like to give a solid and reasoned account of why this song has ended up at number 2, but I can’t. It just says something to me that I really connect with and I’m not even sure what that is, more of a feeling than anything. It may have something to do with growing up in a village and the feeling of belonging which, through circumstance, had to be left behind and was never really found again.

1 – Both Sides, Now (Clouds)

This was the first hit song written by Joni Mitchell, whose version appeared on her 1969 album Clouds. Mitchell recalled: “I was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Mitchell had been through a very difficult time when she wrote the lyrics. In 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl, but struggled as a single mom (the father was an old boyfriend who left soon after Mitchell got pregnant). She married a musician named Chuck Mitchell that year, but soon after the marriage, gave up the child for adoption. Soon, her marriage was on the rocks, and in 1967 they split up.

Judy Collins was the first to record the song and it provided her first hit, and also brought exposure to Mitchell. With this song Collins won the 1968 Grammy for Best Folk Performance.

This is Joni Mitchell’s most-covered song; with over 1000 versions recorded, it could be considered a standard. Some of the luminaries to record it include Frank Sinatra (on his 1968 album Cycles), Bing Crosby, and Ronan bloody Keating, a version I haven’t and won’t listen to. .

And that is my imperfect list, which I already want to change havng not included anything from Dog Eat Dog or Mingus, ah well, maybe another day I will make it top 45!




2:54 – 2.54


I saw this album on CD in a charity shop and picked it up as part of a 3 for £1 deal. I was intrigued by the complete lack of information, I wasn’t sure if 2:54 was the band name or the album name, turns out it was both.

they are an alternative rock band from London comprising sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow. In mid-2010 they formed 2:54. The bands name stands for two minutes fifty-four seconds into their favorite Melvins track, “A History of Bad Men”. This makes no sense to me at all but names have to come from somewhere I guess.

They first came to public attention in 2010 after putting one of their demos online. Their debut single, “On a Wire”, was released in 2011. The sisters were joined for live shows in 2011 by bassist Joel Porter and drummer Alex Robins. Their self-titled debut album was released in May 2012.

The line up following are: Collette Thurlow on guitar and vocals, Hanna Thurlow on guitar, Alex Porter on bass and Alex Robins on drums.

On the way back from town I popped the CD in the car stereo and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. It has a lot of the elements that I like in Indie rock and was far more accomplished than I’d been expecting. I was reminded of bands like Ride, Curve, Lush and others from that musical arena. It was the song above, ‘Scarlet’ that I probably liked most on first listen, so if you haven’t already, press play and try it for yourself.

The track ‘You’re Early’ has strong hints of Garbage I think, mostly in the vocal delivery at times:

They must have had a reasonable promotional budget behind them back in 2012 when the album was released as there are several videos accompanying the album, well, at least 4:

Tracklist

Revolving
You’re Early
Easy Undercover
A Salute
Scarlet
Sugar
Circuitry
Watcher
Ride
Creeping

For me, the album is great value at 33 British pennies and a copy can be aquired for about £3 on Discogs Marketplace

Stina Nordenstam

I went to the local rubbish tip last week and had a quick look through the stack of CD’s they have there that people were going to throw away as landfill. Amongst the Westlife, Boyzone and Robbie Williams CD’s, which are going where they belong, was ‘The World is Saved’ by Stina Nordenstam, which was a delightful surprise and a bargain at £0.50p

Ive been listening to Nordenstam since around 1998 when I heard a cover version of ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince. I was rather taken by the fragility of her voice and various tracks by her ended up on several mix CD’s that I used to listen to in the car (before MP3 playlists).

She was born in Stockholm and, as a child was greatly influenced by her father’s classical and jazz music collection. Early comparisons were made with artists like Rickie Lee Jones and Björk. Her early albums, ‘Memories of a Color’ and ‘And She Closed Her Eyes’ were jazz-influenced with elements of alternative rock. 1997’s ‘Dynamite’ began a more experimental path—most of the album was filled with distorted guitars and unusual beats. A 1998 cover album, ‘People Are Strange’, followed in the same vein. In 2001 Nordenstam went with a more pop-influenced sound on ‘This Is Stina Nordenstam’, and features guest vocals from Brett Anderson. Nordenstam’s 2004 album ‘The World Is Saved’ continued the path set on This Is…, but presents a more realised sound and acknowledges her earlier jazz influences.

‘The World Is Saved’ is her last album release, 15 years ago in 2004, so I’ve no idea what she is up to now. The last thing she seemes to have been invloved in musically was back in 2007 with David Sylvian’s band ‘Nine Horses’.

The voice that Nordenstam uses on her official releases is a voice she chooses to reveal as, though it may seem juvenile at first, and tentative, it is quite deliberate, she is more than capable of much more than she allows the listener to hear but she uses her voice to help tell the story of the words she is singing, with long pauses at times that can be quite unnerving.

This is Stina Nordenstam is the first of her albums I bought, but it was both the Purple Rain cover and that of The Doors – People are Strange, that first brought her to my attention. Nordenstam doesn’t do many interviews and often disguises herself with wigs and suchlike and this has had a twofold effect, on the one hand she has to a degree, protected her anonominity, and on the other, it has restricted her success. From what little I do know of her, I suspect she would be just fine with that

The choice of cover versions on People Are Strange is an intersting one, here are the tracks:

Tracklist

1Sailing – The Sutherland Brothers / Rod Stewart3:14
2I Dream Of Jeannie – Theme3:56
3Love Hurts – Everly Brothers  0:32
4Lonesome Road – Traditional2:04
5Bird On A Wire – Leonard Cohen3:41
6Purple Rain – Prince3:48
7Swallow Strings – Stina Nordenstam1:08
8Like A Swallow – Traditional2:44
9Reason To Believe – Tim Hardin4:10
10I Came So Far For Beauty – Leonard Cohen4:01
11Come To Me – Stina Nordenstam3:28
12People Are Strange –The Doors3:35

All of her albums are available on popular streaming sites so go and discover if anything you’ve heard here appeals to you in any way.

To finish, there is a video available of a young Nordenstam not being typically Nordenstam from 1989, before her first album was released, here it is, the girl can sing.

FKA Twigs – Cellophane on Jimmy Fallon

I shared the official video of Cellophane in Your F***ing Sunny Day 45, (which I realised I forgot to post so I just did it), and it’s a great video and a great song, but I saw this performance on the Jimmy Fallon show yesterday and wanted to share it as well, it’s really quite beautiful.

The White Room

Back in the 90’s, 94-96 to be precise, there was a short lived music show on TV called The White Room hosted by Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley. I really liked this show and have no idea why it didn’t last very long, other that that, possibly, Channel 4 messed it all up. Anyway, back then I used to always have a videotape in the machine ready to press play and record just in case something good came on TV, The White Room rarely disappointed with some great and unexpected performances, not least Prince and NPG (The theme music is by Dave Stewart in case you wondered), oh and Prince married Mayte of course, though they weren’t at the time time of the performance below.

I think I still have the videos in the loft somewhere, although I don’t think I have a video player anymore.

The Manic Street Preachers where only two years on from The Holy Bible and the loss of Richey Edwards, Design For Life hadn’t hit the charts and their performance on The White Room would have been one of the first times they had ever played it live. One of the things I also licked about the show was that it wasn’t one song and you’re off, it would be two or three quite often, all played live.

I think it’s a pretty good show when Oasis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Pulp, Marc Almond, Bryan Ferry, Jimmy Cliffe, Wilson Pickett, Chris Farlow, Dreadzone and Skunk Anansie are all in the room and then they open with Bowie!

The Bluetones made their TV debut on the White Room, several year later I saw them on what turned out to not be their farewell tour at Napton Festival, which is tiny, a local festival for local people, there were probably a maximum of 200 people there and the most popular band were a Stone Roses tribute act who were on before the Bluetones. The band took to the stage very very late and didn’t seem particularly happy to be there at first, but they did the hits and put on a decent show.

Now I’ve not made it any secret that I like a bit of Gary Numan and he too was on the show. There were some stellar artists that appeared, perhaps as it was one of the few alternatives to Top Of The Pops at the time, post The Tube.

As I look back through the videos I can find on youtube I am constantly reminded how great this show was, it was almost as though they gave me a call every week and asked me who I wanted on the show. Case in point, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with P J Harvey, I would have definitely asked for this!

So they call me up, in an imaginary scenario, and ask me, “What do you want to see next week?” and I answer rather offhandedly, “Shane McGowan and Sinead O’Connor”, and they reply “Sure, no problem”. The song is really good by the way, don’t skip it.

I was very fond of Elastica when they first appeared on the scene, I still have a couple of CD singles somewhere. They seemed pretty cool, the sort of people you’d want to be in a gang with I guess. The first album is very good, the whole Stranglers law suite aside (The song “Waking Up”, written about being an underachiever, received positive critical reviews. However, it also prompted a lawsuit from the publishers of The Stranglers, who claimed that Elastica took the song’s riff from The Stranglers’ “No More Heroes”. The case was settled out of court – It was more than a just a resemblance, it was a straight lift).

A couple of stunning tracks from Portishead, the version of ‘Over’ being performed 2 years before it appeared on their second album and it’s a noticeable different , and fabulous version. Again, I love this band and there they are on the telly, this show was so good, with the odd exception, almost everything was killer.

This was a great period for Paul Weller, with the albums Wild Wood and Stanley Road being released, two of my favourites of his and perhaps the best of his solo work. He made a couple of appearances on the show, probably promoting both albums, I’ve gone for Sunflower, but could have gone for Changing Man or Peacock Suit, they are out there if you want to see them.

The show was, of course, the one where Iggy Pop wore plastic see through trousers, which was pretty shocking at the time.

I saw pretty much all of the clips above when they were first broadcast and I do wish there was a programme on TV now that was as good. There’s nothing much, other than Later…..with Jools Holland, that comes even close. There wasn’t much faffing about, little chat, just bands getting on stage and playing.

And there is this:

Your F***ing Sunny Day (Episode 47)

Your F***ing Sunny Day (Episode 46)

Darkstar – Foam Island

Somebody bought this album back around 2015 and wasn’t very pleased with it as I found it in a used records bin still in its shrink wrap for £7.00. As it was released by Warp records and I was sure I’d heard some of their tracks somewhere in the past and don’t remember hating them, I bought it. Pretty glad I did as I really do like it. I’m very fond of spoken word interludes in music, the sort of thing Public Service Broadcasting do for instance, and this has an element of that although more between tracks rather than as an integral part of them, they have a proper sense of not being scripted though, which matters. There’s also some words from former British PM David Cameron, the man so self absobed in his own belief of his invincibility that he never considered that the referendum could possibly not go the way he expected, and when it did, he ran away and left everybody else to deal with it.

Darkstar are James Young and Aiden Whalley (there was a third member at one point, James Buttery) who began making music together in London around 2007 and originally self released their records. ‘Foam Island is their third studio album which was released on 25 September (UK) and 2 October (ROW) via Warp Records. The album’s main themes were informed by social change in the UK and in particular how this is affecting the youth of today post UK Conservative Party re-election. Much of the spoken word included on the album is as a result of the duo travelling to Huddersfield in order to talk to and capture the thoughts and aspirations of the Northern youth of England.

Tracklist
A1 Basic Things
A2 Inherent In The Fibre
A3 Stoke The Fire
A4 Cuts
A5 Go Natural
A6 A Different Kind Of Struggle
A7 Pin Secure
B1 Through The Motions
B2 Tilly’s Theme
B3 Foam Island
B4 Javan’s Call
B5 Days Burn Blue

For me it was a good find as it is another of those bands that I’ve seen or heard a small amount of but never really investigated, now there are a few more albums out there that I can discover and if there’s one thing I really like, it’s finding new things to listen to. There’s an interesting summation to the album review in Crack magazine, which I think is probabaly true:

Foam Island is not the zeitgeist-defining masterpiece that something as ambitious and politically engaged as this could have been. There are moments when it seems to lose focus; minutes that pass without note. But Darkstar sound comfortable with themselves, and their uneasy equilibrium. You won’t hear another album like it this year, and that alone is a reason to grimly raise a glass and be thankful for a band with a disdain for smiling sweetly, and who remain on the outside looking in.

It’s probabaly fair enough, but sometimes it is just a question of whether you like something or not, and I like it.

Oh Good Lord

I didn’t now this existed unti I stumbled accross it today, now I feel my life is somehow diminished by having seen and heard it.

Hekla ‎– Á

Who the hell is Hekla Magnúsdóttir? Well, she plays the theramin, and who doesn’t love the theramin?………………………. Don’t answer that.

If you had to categorise her debut release you might very well go for something like ‘Icelandic ambient’, but no, she doesn’t really fit in that, she produces rather haunting electronica overlayed with a delicate voice, haunting even. It’s a strange listen and and times there is a creepiness about it but there is also great beauty. For me, one of the key indicators of whether this album is any good or not is whether I’m constantly thinking “Teramin, Theramin, Theramin” all the time as I’m listening to it, and I don’t. Some of the sounds and transitions between notes are unusual but she plays the instrument with such skill that there is no suggestion that there is anything gimmicky here. Hekla is an extremely skilled musician who can make her instrument bend to her will.

Obvioulsy I’ve made some assumptions here, so just in case, here is a quick rundown on what a theramin is:

The theremin (/ˈθɛrəmɪn/; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after its inventor, Léon Theremin (Лев Термен), who patented the device in 1928.

The instrument’s controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.

The sound of the instrument is often associated with eerie situations. Thus, the theremin has been used in movie soundtracks such as Miklós Rózsa’s Spellbound and The Lost Weekend, Bernard Herrmann’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Justin Hurwitz’s First Man, as well as in theme songs for television shows such as the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. The theremin is also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music), and in popular music genres such as rock.

If you wanted to buy one you can pay as little as £40 but the go to instrument appears to be by Moog and it is about £300.

I bought the album a few weeks ago, it was discounted to about £11 I think from £20 ish and this is the thought process that made me decide to buy it:

It’s quite cheap, oh Icelandic, Theramin! It will be terrible or brilliant. I’ll get it.

Tracklist

Hatur4:43
Í Hring4:22
Muddle4:29
Heyr Himna Smiður1:52
Arms4:19
Ekki Er Allt Gull Sem Glóir3:25
A Way4:13
Í Felum2:42
Slit2:40
Stondum4:30

Julie London – London By Night

Another of the best albums of 1959 arrived this week, the wittily titled ‘London By Night’ by Julie London. While compiling the best of list for 1959 I listened to a load of albums on Spotify through noise cancelling headphones but playing the actual record is a much better listening experience. Having the sound vibrate the air molecules in the room, filling it up, bouncing off walls and filling my ears from multiple directions just feels so much better. Added to this the fact that I wasn’t doing something else while listening, just siting and listening, also helps to create a better listening experience.

My copy is a 1963 repress so not really very long after it was originally released and the entire process of recording, mixing and pressing would still have been analogue. Though my ears are not as good as they used to be, I,m pretty confident I can hear the difference. The sound is rich and full and it feels like it has a warmth about it which is often lacking when digital came along. This is not a scientific thing, I can’t really prove it one way or the other, it just feels like that to me.

On listening more closely to the songs they are a piece of social history and at times indicative of the place of women in the late 50’s. while sitting and listening to the lyrics rather than letting them wash over me I was struck by these words from “Just the way I am”:

If perhaps I’d been a little distant
If I tried to play a little hard to get
Do you think you might have fallen in love?If I’d been a trifle, inconsistent
If I hadn’t let you light each cigarette
Do you think you might have fallen in love?And if I’d wonder the way you like, him
Would I’ve been more appealing?
Had my chin been stronger
Had my kisses lasted longer
Would I’ve inspired that I adore her feeling
If I’d been little more, attractive
Had my power had not been so, overactive
Would you have not held that nose
Like some meek, sweet adolescent lad?
What a fool I was to ever believe
That someday you could love me,
Just, the way, I am

Written by a man, Bobby Troup, and sung by a woman. It is possible to read different things into the lyrics but it gives me the sense of things being entirely the woman’s fault. I decided to check if Bobby Troup was actually a man, and he was, he was also the writer of “Route 66”. When I looked up his songwriting credits I discovered this song was not originally sung by Julie London (although some of his songs were), but by June Christy 4 years prior, who I’ve never heard of but she has a nice voice.

Much of the above is just rambling, sorry, also I discovered Bobby Troup was the husband of Julie London.

Let me give you a special prize for staying with me this far. When I buy a used record I always hope for an inner sleeve that advertises other records as this was a sort of old timey music discovery route. Unfortunately this album had a plain white sleeve, however, I just discovered something inside the cover!

I don’t remember seeing an insert like this before, and it has the Peggy Lee/George Shearing album that is also in the top 30. I knew you’d be excited. I listened to tracks form some of the other albums by people I’d never heard of, like The Dinning Sisters, Glen Gray, Peters Sisters, Ray Anthony, didn’t like it. Harry James was ok, Sinatra, Garland, Cole and Kitt I already know, which just left Nelson Riddle, who I knew was often Sinatras band, so I gave that a listen, the band is great but I couldn’t listen to a whole album of songs that normally have vocals but are played as instrumentals.

I really should say a little more about who Julie London was, so here is the start of her wiki entry:

Julie London (born Nancy Gayle Peck; September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American singer and actress, whose career spanned more than 40 years. Born in Santa Rosa, California to vaudevillian parents, London was discovered while working as an elevator operator in downtown Los Angeles, and began her career as an actress. London’s 35-year acting career began in film in 1944, and included roles as the female lead in numerous Westerns, co-starring with Rock Hudson in The Fat Man (1951), with Robert Taylor and John Cassavetes in Saddle the Wind (1958), and opposite Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959).

In the mid-1950s, she signed a recording contract with the newly established Liberty Records, and released a total of 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s, with her signature song being “Cry Me a River”, which she introduced in 1955. London was noted by critics for her husky, smoky voice and languid vocal style. She released her final studio album in 1969, but achieved continuing success playing the female starring role of Nurse Dixie McCall, in the television series Emergency! (1972–1979), in which she appeared opposite her real-life husband, Bobby Troup. The show was produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb.

A shy and introverted woman, London rarely granted interviews, and spent the remainder of her life out of the public sphere. In 1995, she suffered a stroke, which left her with permanent health problems, and died five years later of a heart attack.

Track List

1Well, SirBobby Troup, John Lehmann3:09
2That’s for MeRichard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II2:26
3Mad About the BoyNoël Coward2:11
4In the Middle of a KissSam Coslow2:19
5Just the Way I AmBobby Troup2:43
6My Man’s Gone NowGeorge and Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward3:50
7Something I Dreamed Last NightSammy Fain, Jack Yellen, Herbert Magidson2:36
8Pousse CafeNigel Mullaney, J. P. Jowett, Chris Foster2:53
9Nobody’s HeartRichard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart2:20
10The Exciting LifeEarl Hagen, Hubert Spencer2:31
11That Old FeelingSammy Fain, Lew Brown2:29
12Cloudy MorningMarvin Fisher, Joseph McCarthy2:13

And now for your listening and viewing pleasure, The Julie London Show from 1964:

Nérija ‎– Blume

The album for August I received today (actually 2 days ago now) from my Rough Trade Subscription is Blume by Nérija. I’m on my fourth listen and I absolutely bloody love it.

To my thoroughly untrained ear I hear a strong, resounding in fact, echo from the days of the Jazz greats intermingled with everything that has happened since then, with occasional seventies TV themes and a sprinkling of Afrobeat. It is a delicious cocktail.

Nérija were winners of the Jazz Newcomer Parliamentary Jazz Award 2017 and Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year 2016 nominees, Nerija are are a collective of London-based musicians playing exciting and original music inspired by Jazz, Hip Hop, Afrobeat and South African Township. Featuring a line-up truly representative of the up-coming London jazz scene, the seven-piece band features rising players such as tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia (Polar Bear, Outlook Orchestra, Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award Winner), trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey (KANO, Little Simz, KOKOROKO) and guitarist Shirley Tetteh (Maisha, Gary Crosby’s Groundation).

After the release of an EP in 2016, their eclectic repertoire has appealed to the UK jazz scene as well as giving them a presence at rap and pop-focused festivals. They have toured across Europe and the UK and performed alongside top UK jazz musicians such as Nathaniel Facey of Empirical, pianist Zoe Rahman, and supporting Jazz Jamaica at the renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Recently signed to Domino records and having performed at Ronnie Scott’s, the Barbican and jazz fetivals in the UK and Europe, Nérija are truly part of the buzz.

SXSW Band Write UP

My copy is three sided orange vinyl with the fourth side etched, which is sort of nice as it means it hasn’t had the crap compressed out of it to get it onto 2 sides, even though etched sides are a little pointless, it’s better than blank I guess. Oh and it’s limited to 1200 copies.