Whereas in Europe in 1984, this crazy business was going on. Percussionist Tullio De Piscopo was mixing jazz funk with Italo disco to create this dance floor gem. ‘Stop Bajon’ is all about rhythm. If I close my eyes, I can see an Amalfi beach
In 1984, Tears For Fears released the first single from an album that would take permanent residency in my cassette deck’s rotation. Mixing New Wave with Europop influences, ‘Mother’s Talk’ was one of a handful of tracks on their 1985 LP Songs From The Big Chair that would somehow define a decade. Like an exercise in magically creating the pop sound to fill a stadium. With ‘Shout’, ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, ‘Mothers Talk’, ‘Head Over Heels‘ and ‘Listen’, these guys were knocking it out of the park. But the creative partnership of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith wasn’t a happy place and they would just about last one further album. It would be a loss.
He may not have been a nice man, but Phil Spector knew how to produce a record. After having pioneered his Wall of Sound production technique, with its immersive use of layered instruments (think Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep, Mountain High’), he attracted a lot of heavyweight admirers. The Beach Boys and The Beatles were front of line. After being brought in to rearrange Let It Be, George Harrison asked him to co-produce one of my favourite albums, the 1970 triple LP All Things Must Pass. I have featured a number of its songs on this blog, but this classic is still conspicuous by its absence. I love the heavy reverb on ‘Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp’.
Phil Spector died this weekend. His music will live on. Have a great week.
Keeping to the melody of songs, Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker relased two albums – songs and instrumentals – last October via 4AD. The lead single off songs was the beautifully delicate ‘anything’. “I don’t wannna talk about anything/I wanna kiss, kiss your eyes again.” Have a great weekend.
Of Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven said: “Franz has my soul.” Franz Liszt called him “the most poetic musician that ever was”. So when the Austrian composer died of syphilis at the unripe age of 31, one could argue that the world saw the greatest instance of a master cut off before his prime. Schubert had already become a prolific writer of art songs (“Lieder”) that combined poetry and music to tell a story. He wrote over 600 of them. ‘Ständchen’ (‘Serenade’) was written in 1826 and was released posthumously in 1830. It was later famously arranged for solo piano by Liszt and I prefer the inclusion of cello as well.
The cosmic sound of ‘Maru’ is exactly what IDM should be in 2019. Released by Warp Records as the first single off Plaid’s 10th studio album Polymer, the track shimmers with kick drums and snares. It has been a long journey for the London duo – Ed Handley and Andy Turner released their first Plaid album, Mbuki Mvuki, in 1991.
The anthemic nature of ‘Laid’ gives you a flavour of what was about to hit the UK shores with Britpop. In fact, listening to Counting Crows and James alongside, you can really feel the Atlantic divide in 1993. “Ah, you think you’re so pretty” sings Tim Booth in a glam-rock-like delivery followed by his falsetto … and all to a Brian Eno production.
Good morning. Counting Crows’ lead singer Adam Duritz lifted the title of this song off Saul Bellow’s ‘Henderson the Rain King’, a book he read while majoring in English at the University of California. He believed ‘Rain King’ was the song off their 1993 LP August And Everything After that radio stations would pick up. In fact, the ubiquitous ‘Mr. Jones’ was the big hit, which helped them shift bucket loads of the album, especially because they had made the decision to withhold any single releases in the US. ‘Rain King’ was the better track. Have a good week.
I’ve decided that Gerry & The Pacemakers are not the way to end the week. Something a little more upbeat as a bonus… ‘Niobe’ is the closing track off Caribou’s 2007 album Andorra. The album is great, but on the eight minutes plus that close the album are so on the money – in fact, I think the the last 60 seconds or so would really set the direction that Dan Snaith has traveled since.
I start and end the week with tributes. Last week, Gerry Marsden sadly passed away. In the mid 1960s, he and his band The Pacemakers were synonymous with “Merseybeat”. Their 1964 single ‘Ferry Cross The Mersey’ was a big part of that sound. Written by Marsden, the song is a nostalgic salute to his hometown and fellow Liverpudlians. R.I.P. Gerry.
Bob Dylan wrote the grammatically incorrect ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’ for the John Schlesinger movie Midnight Cowboy, but it had stiff competition. Harry Nilsson‘s award-winning ‘Everybody’s Talkin” was ultimately selected as the film’s ubiquitous theme. Instead, Dylan fans were treated to the song on release of his 1969 album Nashville Skyline.
In 1984, Prince’s intros needed no introduction. If ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ – the opening track off his album Purple Rain – has arguably has the best intro in 1980s pop, then the guitar solo and drum machine that kick off the LP’s flip-side combine to be very close contenders. Prince had written and composed ‘When Doves Cry’ after completing everything else on the album and any outstanding creative caution was thrown to the wind. Vocal loops, no bass-line and a baroque synth solo… this was a top-selling pop single from an artist at his creative peak.
Eight years since she burst into my consciousness with 2012 debut Is Your Love Big Enough?, Lianne La Havas was ready to release a self-titled album. The Londoner is evidently happy with the range and development of her brand of neo-soul. The album kicks off with the simmering ‘Bittersweet’ – I hope you enjoy.
Good morning folks. I was very sorry to learn recently that Daniel Dumile Thompson died in October. Inspired by the Marvel Comics supervillain Doctor Doom, Daniel Dumile stood out in the world of hip hop (for being British and) for his use of the MF Doom alter ego both on and off stage. In 2003/04, he did something equally intriguing by asking the anonymous Mr. Fantastik to provide guest verses on two standout tracks… ‘Anti Matter’ and ‘Rapp Snitch Knishes’. The latter features on his the album MM..Food and gives you a taste of why hip hop heads have been so keen to identify his guest and where they can hear his other work. Perhaps more will be revealed now…
R.I.P. Daniel Dumile. R.I.P. MF Doom.
I won’t be posting tomorrow but am back on Monday. In the interim, another slice of UK electronica. This time from Manchester’s Sam Shepherd, who was able to explore the geometry and code of ratios in 19 mins of dance beats. He put out the full mix of ‘Ratio’ as a standalone Floating Points release in 2017. Have a good weekend.