Category Archives: Rock

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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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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9 of the best – sounds of nineties

Good morning. It’s a little bit later than normal but hopefully worth the wait. I participated in Portsmouth’s Great South Run yesterday, which was was celebrating its 30th anniversary with a 1990s party. It was fun, but no semblance of the decade’s best songs involved. I give you my favourite nine sounds in chronological order. I have to say this is by far the toughest best-of list that I’ve published… just look at the quality of sound that I demoted to honourable footnotes.

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (1991)

R.E.M. – Nightswimming (1992)

Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye (1994)

The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (1995)

Oasis – The Masterplan (1995)

Sparklehorse – Cow (1995)

Radiohead – Let Down (1997)

Mercury Rev – Holes (1998)

Wilco – She’s A Jar (1999)

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Honourable mentions also go to: Cocteau Twins for ‘Cherry Coloured Funk‘ (1990); Pulp for ‘Babies‘ (1992); Pavement for ‘In The Mouth A Desert‘ (1992); Blur for ‘To The End‘ (1994) and ‘The Universal‘ (1995); Beastie Boys for ‘Sabotage‘ (1994); The Flaming Lips for ‘Placebo Headwound‘ (1995) and ‘Race For The Prize‘ (1999); Radiohead for ‘Fake Plastic Trees‘ (1995); Red House Painters for ‘Have You Forgotten‘ (1996); Spiritualized for ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space‘ (1997); and Röyksopp for ‘So Easy‘ (1999).

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Cream ‎- I Feel Free (1966)

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We had heard that he had been taken critical ill, but news broke this weekend that Ginger Baker has passed. Before Baker broke onto the rock scene, there wasn’t really the template for anyone playing lead drums. With his love and mastery of jazz, he took drumming to a new level. The apt ‘I Feel Free’ kicked off the US version of Cream’s debut album, Fresh Cream. R.I.P. Ginger.

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Deep Purple – Hush (1968)

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‘Hush’ was originally written by Joe South for a 1967 recording by Billy Joe Royal. A year later, Deep Purple covered it for release on their debut album Shades Of Deep Purple.  While they kept the “Hush, hush, I thought I heard her calling my name” lyric, the band’s version was all about the arrangements; so much so that one its most memorable lines is “Na nana na na na nananana”. The organ riff would surface again in 1990 when The Charlatans lifted it for their hit single ‘The Only One I Know’. Have a great week.

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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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Love – Always See Your Face (1969)

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Another song that has been used to great effect on screen is Love’s Always See Your Face. It closed the band’s (or more factually it was really Arthur Lee’s) 1969 album Four Sail; it later featured in the 2000 film High Fidelity alongside John Cusack, helping him with a bout of misery; and then took a bow on the sountrack of this year’s sublime Once Upon A Time In Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino.

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Led Zeppelin – In The Light (1975)

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I just enjoyed the first season finale of Mindhunter. The episode concludes with an extended play of ‘In The Light’. Kicking off with a psychedelic drone and clocking in at just under nine minutes, it’s a most suitable choice for the unnerving delights of the show. Hypnosis induced by Jimmy Page’s use of a cello bow on his guitar, I believe.

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The Kinks – I Go To Sleep (1965)

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‘I Go to Sleep’ is another piece of genius from Ray Davies and was first released by The Applejacks. It was never officially recorded and put out by The Kinks, but a demo can be found on the reissue of their second studio album Kinda Kinks. The reason that most know the song is because Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders successfully recorded a cover in 1981.

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Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song (1996)

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My wife and I travelled through Moseley yesterday en route to Birmingham to see my daughter in a concert. I don’t know the area, save it being a hangout for artists and the inspiration for OCS’s second long player Moseley Shoals. The album’s opening track was ‘The Riverboat Song’ inspired by the river journey from Apocalypse Now and clearly the riff and all from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Four Sticks’. Have a great week.

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Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows (2002)

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Did QOTSA ever get better that the lead single from their 2002 album Songs For The Deaf? I don’t think so! With riffs abound and, as Pitchfork once put it, “it’s four-to-the-floor slime of the highest quality”, this classic deserves all the plaudits. It’s undoubtedly a great guitar track, but Josh Homme’s vocal should not go without mention. The soulful cowboy. Have a great weekend; particularly if you’ll be out cycling like me.

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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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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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9 of the best – sounds of 1992

A compilation for sunny day in June. 1992 could have been a creative wasteland between what had been (Madchester, shoegazing, grunge) and what was to come (the Wu-Tang, trip hop, Britpop). But no, far from it. For starters, this was the year that Slanted and Enchanted and Selected Ambient Works 85-92 reached our ears.

Aphex Twin – Xtal

Pavement – Summer Babe

Flowered Up – Weekender

Pulp – Babies

R.E.M. – Nightswimming

The Black Crowes – Remedy

Crowded House – Four Seasons In One Day

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Honourable mentions also go to: Sade for ‘No Ordinary Love‘; Derrick May for his Illusion First Mix of ‘Sueño Latino‘; Mel’isa Morgan for ‘Still In Love‘; Coco Steel & Lovebom for ‘Feel It‘, My Bloody Valentine for ‘Only Shallow‘, Sergio Mendes for ‘Fanfarra (Cabua Le-Le)‘, Spiritualized for ‘Shine A Light‘, Kevin Saunderson for his Tunnel Mix of Inner City’s ‘Pennies From Heaven‘, X-Press 2 for ‘Muzik Xpress‘; and The Pharcyde for ‘Passing Me By‘.

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The Black Keys – Never Gonna Give You Up (2010)

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The Black Keys did something remarkable once they joined the likes of Wilco on Nonesuch Records. Over the course of four albums, they completed a journey from a blues-rockin’ duo in Akron, Ohio to awesome glam soul stadium rockers travelling the globe on a cloud of musical distortion. But during this rise, they were also able to fit in a cover version of Jerry Butler’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Style.

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