Category Archives: Easy

Scott Walker – Jackie (1968)


The passionate and mahogany tones of Scott Walker… R.I.P. In 1968, the single ‘Jackie’ was released in advance of his sophomore solo album Scott 2, was quickly banned by the BBC and subsequently went to Number 1 in the UK charts. “Stupid-ass”… very rude.

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Frankie Valli ‎- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (1967)


A guilty pleasure and gift to my wife this morning. ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is a 1967 single credited to Frankie Valli. The song was co-written by producer Bob Crewe and The Four Seasons’ very own Bob Gaudio. It has been covered dozens of times, not least half the football’s league’s travelling supporters.


Haruomi Hosono – Close To You (2010)

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Like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi (Harry) Hosono first gained global recognition as one third of the electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra. In 2010, postrock maverick Jim O’Rourke had the genius idea of producing All Kinds of People: Love Burt Bacharach, a tribute album to 60s lounge don Burt Bacharach. Yes, I kid you not. The LP features guest vocalists Kahimi Karie, Yoshimi, and several other venerable Japanese artists, including Hosono, who gets a helping drum hand from Wilco’s Glenn Kotche on the classic ‘Close To You’.

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The Turtles – You Showed Me (1968)


The Turtles

‘You Showed Me’ was a song composed by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark in the early 196os, before their partnership with David Crosby to form The Byrds. The song would never make to the front line of The Byrds’ canon, missing the cut of their classic debut long player Mr. Tambourine Man. In step The Turtles, who had first become acquainted with the song after hearing Clark, McGuinn and Crosby perform it at The Troubadour club in L.A. The Turtles added something distinct by giving it its familiar slow beat. And as for me, I became acquainted when De La Soul sampled that beat for the interlude ‘Transmitting Live From Mars’ on their 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising. “Ecoutez: ‘A midi’/ Quel heure est-il?” Have a great weekend.

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Francisco Alves – Aquarela do Brasil (1939)

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Francisco Alves

Simply known as ‘Brazil’ once Disney got hold of it in 1942, Ary Barroso’s ‘Aquarela do Brasil’ was first sung by Francisco Alves a few years earlier. It has since become a samba standard covered by the international great and good, including Jimmy Dorsey, Sinatra, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim. I will always associate it with Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil – it provided the theme throughout. It now provides a start to a week to celebrate the World Cup.

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Nat King Cole – Smile (1954)


Nat King Cole

Based on an theme tune used in Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times, ‘Smile’ was brought to life by the lyricism of two Brits, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, and the calming tones of Nathaniel Adams Coles – aka Nat King Cole. Have a great weekend.

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Etta James – Waiting For Charlie (1962)

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Etta James

Easing us into the Easter weekend, Etta’s James’s ‘Waiting for Charlie (To Come Home)’ features on her eponymous 1962 album. Written by the king of easy, Burt Bacharach, the song has a marching arrangement which builds and builds; and then there’s that violin… have a great break!

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She & Him – Baby It’s Cold Outside (2011)


She & Him

Another Dean Martin track, and I plump for another cover. Nothing against the King of Cool, I just like the minimalist production. The gender swap amuses too.

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Floyd Cramer – MacArthur Park (1968)

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Floyd Cramer

‘Mac Arthur Park’ by a Nashville slip-piano legend. It’s not right, but it works.

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Paolo Conte – Via Con Me (1981)


Paolo Conte

In 1981, Paolo Conte released Paris Milonga, an album that would reach out beyond Italy because of, in a large part, the English-spoken ‘Via Con Me’. In a week that features Serge Gainsbourg, why not a bit of cabaret as well? The song sounds as if it emanates from a bar stool and the nicotine-lined vocal chords of a lecherous flâneur. It’s a heady mix. Have a good weekend.
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Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie And Clyde (1968)

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Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot

To these ears, listening to Serge Gainsbourg is incomparable to the impression left by any other artist. It’s not just the French language. His 1968 duet ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ with lover Bardot is a great example – moody atmosphere, humour abound, a love of Americana, self confidence, and much je ne sais pas.

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Patti Page – Old Cape Cod (1957)


Patti Page

The Groove Armada feature this week called to mind their ubiquitous chillout track ‘At the River’. It was released in 1997 with its sample of Patti Page’s ‘Old Cape Cod’. This one’s a little right-field for me, but I thought I would post the original without synthesizer. There’s something soothing about Page’s voice, and frankly, I am very fond of sand dunes and salty air. Page passed away earlier this year; she certainly left her mark on Cape Cod.

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Willie Nelson – Blue Skies (1978)


Willie Nelson

‘Blue Skies’ is a song that Irving Berlin wrote in 1926. But I know it by way of the cover by the red headed stranger, Willie Nelson. In 1978, Nelson released a collection of pop standards, Stardust, which can be filed neatly under easy listening. However, the repetitive guitar lick and Nelson’s grizzled crooning of ‘Blue Skies’ brings on some sort of hypnosis in me that makes it much more than just musical wallpaper.

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Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman (1968)

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Glen Campbell

‘Wichita Lineman’ was written by American songwriter Jimmy Webb. It was first recorded by country music artist Glen Campbell as the title track for a 1968 long player. At that time, Campbell was prolific, having made 10 albums in a little more than two years during 1967-69. From Delight, Arkansas, to Beach Boys session guitarist, to singer of “the first existential country song”, to variety show host… his hard work was rewarded.  The existential lineman has been widely covered by other artists and understandably so. Although tarred with the easy listening and guilty pleasure brushes, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest pop songs ever composed.

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