Category Archives: Pop

Carole King ‎- It’s Too Late (1971)

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A late start this morning… too late. In 1971, Carole King helped popularise a particular female singer/songwriter sound with the extraordinary success of her album Tapestry and the permanent airplay of chart-topping ‘It’s Too Late’. King wrote the song with Toni Stern, a painter and lyricist from Laurel Canyon. Despite the collaboration, it is believed that the sentiment of the song was directed at James Taylor, who was ‘good friends’ with King and played on Tapestry. King never confirmed the rumours and Taylor later dated and married Carly Simon who had a similar heart-of-the-sleeve moment with ‘You’re So Vain’.

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The Blue Nile ‎- The Downtown Lights (1989)

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Before this blog leaves the 1980s, I think midweek is a good time to mention The Blue Nile. In 1989. the Scottish band released the critically acclaimed long player Hats and somehow connected the neon of the 1980s with all dream pop that followed. ‘The Downtown Lights’ is one of the album’s prime cuts. Enjoy frontman Paul Buchanan singing about the romance of that time.

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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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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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Lloyd Cole & The Commotions ‎- Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? (1984)

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The release of Rattlesnakes in 1984 was one of the finest debut albums of the 1980s. A collection of indie jangle pop songs that closed with the beautiful ‘Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?’.

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Deacon Blue ‎- Dignity (1987)

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Despite reference to Steely Dan in their name, Glaswegian Deacon Blue’s influences were clearly closer to home. Their first album Raintown, draws from the mid 1980s influence of Paddy McAloon. Like the work of Prefab Sprout, the lead single off the album, ‘Dignity’, is a slice of clever pop that still manages to reflect working class values.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1990

Looking beyond the pervasive sounds of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and ‘World In Motion’, 1990 had so much more to offer. For the weekend, I give you my favourite sounds that year, in no particular order…

Primal Scream – Loaded

Beltram – Energy Flash

Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro

Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

Cocteau Twins – Cherry Coloured Funk

Smallage – Together

The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds

Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring

Adamski feat. Seal – Killer

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Honourable mentions also go to: Enigma for ‘Callas Went Away‘; Happy Mondays for ‘Step On‘; A Tribe Called Quest for ‘Can I Kick It?‘; Faith No More for ‘Falling To Pieces‘; The KLF for ‘Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard‘; Lush for ‘De-Luxe‘; The Charlatans ‎for ‘The Only One I Know‘; and LFO for ‘LFO

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Talk Talk ‎- It’s My Life (1984)

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The music industry suffered a loss this year that I’ve overlooked until now. Aged 64, Mark David Hollis died in February. The singer-songwriter achieved critical acclaim as co-founder of Talk Talk. An apt song choice is his brilliantly timeless single ‘It’s My Life’. The title track off the second Talk Talk album was released in February 1984, exactly 35 years before Hollis met his maker. It is a classic example of where experimentation and art meets pop to create an indelible sound. R.I.P. Mr Hollis. Have a great weekend.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1991

A compilation for my hangover. Also a compilation for what looks like its going to be one of the last sunny days in September. I was immersed in dance music in 1991, but R.E.M., Nirvana, Mercury Rev and Lenny Kravitz were able to break into a best-of list otherwise dominated by the sound of house music.

Orbital – Belfast

Mercury Rev – Frittering

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

Moby – Go (Woodtick Mix)

Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea

R.E.M. – Losing My Religion

George Michael – Cowboys and Angels

Lenny Kravitz ‎- It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

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Honourable mentions also go to: Saint Etienne for ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now‘; My Bloody Valentine for ‘Only Shallow‘; De La Soul for ‘A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays‘; Photon Inc. for ‘Generate Power (Wild Pitch Mix)‘; Crystal Waters for ‘Gypsy Woman‘; Altern 8 for ‘Infiltrate 202‘; Björk for ‘Hyperballad’; A Tribe Called Quest feat Leaders Of The New School for ‘Scenario‘; Slam for ‘Eterna‘; Frankie Knuckles for ‘The Whistle Song‘ and Last Rhythm and Silvie Carter for ‘Last Rhythm‘.

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Loving – Visions (2019)

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Loving is the musical collaboration of David Parry and brothers Lucas and Jesse Henderson from Victoria, BC. They recently released a new single ‘Visions’. Lyricist Jesse Henderson explains, “the song dwells on a question: that if our lives, what we pursue, or even desire, are often shaped or determined by forces beyond us – what kinds of freedom can we find within that?”. Despite the currency of his existential questions, the sound is all warm pop of yesteryear.

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Metronomy – Salted Caramel Ice Cream (2019)

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Some disposable electronic pop for a Thursday. Metronomy’s Joseph Mount was inspired by the likes of LFO and Aphex Twin from an early age, but his latest creative mine seems to be the electronic art-pop of Yello and Sparks. ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ will feature on Metronomy’s new album Metronomy Forever due for release in September. Kitsch.

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Crowded House – Fall At Your Feet (1992)

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I can’t finish a week of tracks from 1992 without a mention of Crowded House. It’s all a bit time and place, but I spent a few days listening to their standout album Woodface while travelling across California. It was the best 1980s-sounding album released in 1992; and it didn’t get much better than ‘Fall At Your Feet’. Have a great weekend.

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Mariya Takeuchi – Plastic Love (1984)

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I started the week with a track from Haruomi Hosono… I end with another influential figure in the world of city pop. Outside of Japan, Mariya Takeuchi is best known for marrying her collaborator Tatsuro Yamashitathe and releasing the classic 1984 song ‘Plastic Love’, with its dancefloor-filling final chorus. The Japanese genre is an unexpected mix of 1970s/1980s smooth AOR and jazz funk. This very American sound is strange through the filter of a Japanese scene. Have a great weekend.

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Jai Paul – Do You Love Her Now (2019)

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In April 2013, Jai Paul broke onto the music scene with the unexpected release of a set of songs on Bandcamp. Everyone was clamouring to find out who was this creative force – a new Prince elect they pronounced. Six years on and it’s happened again. From nowhere, we’ve received ‘Do You Love Her Now’. It’s good.

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Haruomi Hosono – Sports Men (1982)

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Harry Hosono has featured in this blog before. Whether it would be for his work with the Tin Pan Alley collective, or Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) or as a guiding light in Japan’s city pop scene, today won’t be the last time neither. The synthpop classic ‘Sports Men’ was originally released on 1982’s Philharmony, Hosono’s first solo album following YMO’s Ross to success. “Your mother, she might be a swimmer/Your father must have been a vaulter”. Indeed. Here’s to a sporty week.

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