Category Archives: Rock

Spencer Davis Group – I’m A Man (1967)

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While ‘Gimme Some Lovin’‘ was more successful – both back in the day and after its Blues Brothers renaissance – ‘I’m A Man’ was the the song that defined the soul rock sound of the Spencer Davis Group. A great rock songs by any measure, it was the title track off their second US album. Have a great week.

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Barış Manço – Lambaya Püf De! (1973)


Good morning from Istanbul. Naturally, I’m doing my best to soak up the sights and sounds of this huge city. Barış Manço was rock royalty in Anatolia. His mother Rikkat Uyanık was a famous singer in the 1940s, and a couple of decades late, his life in Paris was shaping his formula: a mix of his minstrel roots and the chanson française so popular in France. “What might that sound like?”, I hear you ask. In 1973, he released the whispering ‘Lambaya Puf De’. It translates to something like “blow the lamp out by going ‘puf'”. That’s how Manço rolled. And that instrument you hear throughout is a Turkish saz. Have a great weekend.

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The Kinks ‎- Waterloo Sunset (1967)


A change of commute yesterday morning got me thinking. If it wasn’t for The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ and The Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’, I think that ’Waterloo Sunset’ might be the best 1960s pop song, and perhaps best ever. Ray Davies wrote the track at age 23, dwelling on the time he spent in Waterloo hospital as a child. The track closes The Kinks’ 1967 album ‘Something Else’. Like, Terry and Julie, I briefly watched the world go by. 

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The Zombies ‎- Maybe After He’s Gone (1968)


I started the week with a band (The VU) that would only be fully appreciated posthumously. I end it with another. While St. Albans is no New York, the town gave birth to the short-lived brilliance of The Zombies. Formed in 1962 by Rod Argent (piano, organ vocals) and Colin Blunstone (vocals), the band released just two proper albums; and because they broke up immediately after recording their second, Odessey and Oracle, their impact would be delayed. The LP was recorded in the summer of 1967, as a last hurrah. The accessible hit singles may have dried up, but you can hear how they were pushing the boundaries. While the harmonies of ‘Maybe After He’s Gone’ are reminiscent of The Beach Boys, the instrumentation is as close as you will get to proto prog rock. The result was timeless and influential. Have a great weekend.

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Cass McCombs ‎- Sleeping Volcanoes (2019)


This morning, it’s another track off Tip Of The Sphere, Cass McCombs’ ninth studio album from last year. The Californian troubadour knows how to create an intro.

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Neil Young ‎- Harvest Moon (1992)

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If Faye Webster is a modern face of alternative folk music, Neil Young is the establishment. Very different to last month’s post of ‘Cortez The Killer’, the title track from his 1992 album Harvest Moon clearly draw’s on Young’s folk rock touchstone Harvest. The two albums shared many of the same guest musicians, but his pals still left him space to perform… his credits on this song include guitar, banjo-guitar, piano, pump organ, vibes and vocals. Have a great weekend.
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The Jimi Hendrix Experience ‎- Foxy Lady (1967)


Good morning… the blog’s back and Jimi Hendrix is no better place to start. The virtuoso’s recording career exploded in 1967 and changed music forever. Are You Experienced? was his debut album with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding (The Experience). Hendrix opens the album with one of the rawest riffs ever recorded. All listeners feel a little more experienced on hearing ‘Foxy Lady’.

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9 of the best – sounds of twenty-tens

It keeps coming… the end of a decade of sound. It would seem that 2014 was peak twenty-tens to these ears. I give you the best of the decade in chronological order:

Beach House – Walk In The Park (2010)

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)

Frank Ocean – Pyramids (2012)

Liam Hayes – Rock & Roll (2013)

Spoon – Do You (2014)

Future Islands – Seasons (2014)

The War On Drugs – Eyes To The Wind (2014)

Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales (2016)

Sharon Van Etten ‎- Seventeen (2019)


Honourable mentions also go to: A Great Big Pile Of Leaves for ‘We Don’t Need Our Heads‘ (2010); Lana Del Rey for ‘Video Games‘ (2011); Chance The Rapper for ‘Everything’s Good‘ (2013); Daft Punk for ‘Get Lucky‘ (2013); Floating Points for ‘Silhouettes‘ (2015); Kurt Vile for ‘Pretty Pimpin‘ (2015); Julia Holter for ‘Feel You‘ (2015); The Avalanches for ‘Because I’m Me‘ (2016); Kamasi Washington for ‘Truth (2017); Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever for ‘Mainland‘ (2017); King Krule for ‘Dum Surfer‘ (2017); Let’s Eat Grandma for ‘Donnie Darko‘ (2018); Father John Misty for ‘Just Dumb Enough to Try‘ (2018); Snail Mail for ‘Pristine‘ (2018); Weyes Blood for ‘Everyday‘ (2019); and Fontaines D.C. for ‘Roy’s Tune‘ (2019)

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Neil Young and Crazy Horse ‎- Cortez The Killer (1975)

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Good morning folks. Just five months after releasing his demons via the classic Tonight’s the Night, Neil Young recorded another masterpiece Zuma with the reunited Crazy Horse. In keeping with his original intention to record an album of songs with historical subjects, he wrote the seven-and-a-half-minute ‘Cortez The Killer’ about the Spanish conquistador. But let’s face it, for most listeners, it’s all about Old Black’s guitar solo. Have a great Christmas!
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Todd Rundgren ‎- I Saw The Light (1972)


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)


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)


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)


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)


‘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


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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