Stevie Wonder – Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?) (1972)

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Good morning all. A couple of weeks ago, I featured Cody ChesnuTT’s work as a one-man band. Last week, it was the turn of Todd Rundgren. Todd was not the only man with the prowess to be both the singer-songwriter and the band in 1972. With a new contract from Motown in his hands, Stevie Wonder released the long player Music of My Mind. On the album is the standout sound of ‘Superwoman’ with its harmonies, ladles of metaphors and clever use of synthesisers. Have a great week.

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The Stone Roses – Fools Gold (1989)

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I started the week with The Rolling Stones; I end it with The Stone Roses. 30 years old this week, ‘Fools Gold’ is as iconic as the ‘Funky Drummer’ break that it is looped around. The band’s guitarist John Squire was in Eastern Bloc Records in Manchester when he heard the potential in Clyde Stubblefield’s drum work for James Brown. The title and vocals of the track were inspired by the Humphrey Bogart movie The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. The production was heavily influenced by the Dust Brothers-produced Young MC track ‘Know How’. Whereas the bongo-fuelled madness is pure Madchester. The single was originally released by Silvertone Records as a double A-side with ‘What the World Is Waiting For’, but there was only one ‘Fools Gold’. Have a great weekend.

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Lambchop – So Modern And So Tight (2019)

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It feels as if Kurt Wagner is on the final leg of a protracted musical journey. ‘So Modern And So Tight’ is so far removed from the americana of 2000’s Nixon and 2002’s Is A Woman, that it would be unrecognisable as a Lambchop production was it not for Wagner’s voice (albeit via a vocoder). Their new digital work certainly tips its hat to Justin Vernon, but the bands’s honest alt country roots and unexpected tack make the sound more than just derivative.

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Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light (1972)

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This is a case where one song doesn’t do an album justice. Todd Rundgren’s tour-de-force third album Something/Anything? kicks off with the Carole King tribute ‘I Saw The Light’. The album is made all the more remarkable as the work of a one-man-band.

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Whyte Horses – The Snowfalls (2014)

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Self proclaimed purveyors of mystical pop Whyte Horses are excited to announce a new album, Hard Times, due for release in January. Back in 2014, this shape-shifting collective seemed to be more aligned to Merseybeat with their single ‘The Snowfalls’. It features on their 2014 collection Pop Or Not. It takes me back to the ‘beat revival of 1989/90; halcyon days.

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The Rolling Stones – Rocks Off (1972)

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Over the weekend, it dawned on me that I’ve featured the sounds of The Rolling Stones from albums including Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and nothing from 1972. It was an incredible run, but arguably these works were all eclipsed by that year’s Exile On Main Street. ‘Rocks Off’ kicks off the recording with a Keith Richards riff punctuated by a Charlie Watts snare and a moan of “oh yeah” from Mick Jagger. This was the sound of The Stones at their peak, all sprawling chaos and musical brilliance. It would never get this good again… the self-exile, the drugs, the circus, the women and the infighting were taking their toll, but the band was going down in glorious flames. Have a great week.

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Tame Impala – It Might Be Time (2019)

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Hypnotic drums, stabbing keyboards, techno crashes, rave sirens, questions about purpose… in a week of returns, Kevin Parker and Tame Impala are back with ‘It Might Be Time’. Their new album The Slow Rush is expected to drop in February. Have a great weekend.

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Cody ChesnuTT – Look Good In Leather (2002)

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Cody ChesnuTT’s debut album The Headphone Masterpiece was an incredible collection of work. Its 36 songs were recorded in his home studio on a four track and mixed on a pair of headphones. What binds this home brew together is his voice. While previously featured ‘Michelle’ sounds like Prince, the penultimate track ‘Look Good in Leather’ delivers a vocal that both The Purple One and Terence Trent D’arby would have been proud of.

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Andy Shauf – Things I Do (2019)

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Another singer returned in the last week or so is Andy Shauf; he is most welcome. For his new single, the singer-songwriter questions why he does what he does. ‘Things I Do’ will feature on his new long player The Neon Skyline, all written, performed, arranged and produced by Shauf, and due to be released in the New Year. “Seems like I should have known better / Than to turn my head like it didn’t matter.”

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Michael Kiwanuka – Final Days (2019)

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A couple of years ago, I featured the opening track (‘Cold Little Heart‘) off Michael Kiwanuka’s second album Love & Hate. Last week, he released his latest full-length effort to a very warm reception indeed.  Such is the strength of Kiwanuka and its Danger Mouse production that I could have selected half a dozen songs. Keeping with the the downbeat titles, I have plumped for the beautiful sound of ‘Final Days’.

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Smith Westerns ‎- All Die Young (2011)

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Good morning folks. I hope you had a good weekend. A forerunner to Whitney, Smith Westerns were an indie rock band from Chicago. In 2011, they released their second full-length outing Dye It Blonde. At its centre is the song ‘All Die Young’. Despite the unhappy title, the track is a clear celebration of a Ziggy Stardust/Marc Bolan-indebted glam sound. Have a great week.

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(Sandy) Alex G – Station (2015)

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Philly-based Alexander Giannascoli is better known by his stage name (Sandy) Alex G (formerly Alex G). After launching his career with a number of self-releases and his label debut DSU on Orchid Tapes, Giannascoli signed to Domino Records and released the long player Beach Music. Its exploratory production was well received; the track ‘Station’ is sung in a lower pitch than much of the album, as Alex G expresses the psychedelic moment of a man breaking into a liquor store. Have a great weekend.

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Gang Starr feat. J.Cole – Family and Loyalty (2019)

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Last month, Gang Starr dropped their first song since 2003. it was made possible by DJ Premier, who was able to pull together a pair of unreleased verses from his deceased MC partner Guru, and cleverly complement them with a guest spot from J. Cole. ‘Family and Loyalty’ sounds like classic Brooklyn hip-hop, but with the added benefit that Guru’s verses always remain fresh.

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Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good (2007)

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‘Rehab’ and its title track may have taken the plaudits, but Back To Black is laced with treasures. By her second album, Amy Winehouse had hooked up with producer Mark Ronson and together they incorporated 1960s soul, modern R&B and Winehouse’s libertine experiences to create something magical. Listening to my selection today, it’s not the Amen break infused production of ‘You Know I’m No Good’ that stands out, it’s the poignancy of her lyrics: “I told you I was trouble”. Winehouse sadly died in 2007 from “misadventure”.

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The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio (2010)

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By 2010, The National were no longer just another band from Brooklyn. After two successive, successful slow-burn albums (Alligator and Boxer), they had grown into one of the most feted indie bands. That year they released High Violet, which features their gig staple ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’. The track kicks off with Bryan Devendorf’s persistent drum solo that lays the ground for the instruments that follow. This was a high watermark.

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