Alain Bashung – Variations Sur Marilou (2011)

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In 2011, the Paris-based Barclay Disques released an Alain Bashung album posthumously. Bashung’s rendition of the Serge Gainsbourg’s concept album L’Homme À Tête De Chou was an explicit dedication. ‘Variations Sur Marilou’ is a story of a forty-year-old man (perhaps with the head of a cabbage) who falls in love with a shampoo girl in Chez Max hairdresser for men. Full of eroticism, the song is classic Serge Gainsbourg. Bashung was due to tour his version of the project in November 2009, but passed in March of that year. Thank goodness it had already been captured on record. Have a great weekend.

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Desire – Under Your Spell (2009)

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In 2009, Chromatics’ Johnny Jewel and Nat Walker teamed up with vocalist Megan Louise to become Desire. Their debut album II was released on Italians Do It Better and explores the synthpop typical of Jewel’s label. The standout song ‘Under Your Spell’ would then appear as a centrepiece sound in the 2011 movie Drive.

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The Cure – From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea (1992)

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The Cure’s 1992 studio album Wish succeeded some hard competition in the band’s acclaimed Disintegration. But from out of its shadow, the band produced a couple of gems: hit single ‘Friday I’m In Love’, of course; but the real deal is the jangling, dancey hook-laden ‘From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea’, blessfully included as the longest track on the album.

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Eels – Last Stop: This Town (1998)

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In 1998, the Eels took an introspective turn for their second release, Electro-Shock Blues. It was still pop music, but much darker than debut Beautiful Freak. ‘Last Stop: This Town’ is about singer-songwriter Mark Oliver Everett’s (aka E) sister Elizabeth, who had committed suicide. The video features a spinning carrot that slowly turns into a clone of E. Yes, indeed.

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Broadcast – Corporeal (2005)

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Shortly before they released their 2005 album Tender Buttons, Broadcast had reduced to a duo. This change brought about a more stripped-back sound. On ‘Corporeal’, Trish Keenan and James Cargill create a pulsing beat and bass line that reminds me of the work of Yo La Tengo, albeit a touch more sultry. Have a great week.

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First Choice ‎- Doctor Love (1977)

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In 1977, First Choice comprised constants Rochelle Fleming and Annette Guest, with Ursula Herring half way through her stint as their number three. But as is the norm with a Salsoul production, the success of ‘Doctor Love’ is about the bigger team. The opening track off their album Delusions was written by the Philly musicians Felder, Tyson and Harris; it was mixed by Tom Moulton; and it was arranged by Norman Harris. That is calibre; at about 3 mins, after the upbeat vocals, just listen to that choppy guitar, drum and orchestral workout. So we start and end the week with disco. Have a great weekend.

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Françoise Hardy – Comment Te Dire Adieu? (1968)

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Singer-songwriter, fashion icon, muse, Françoise Madeleine Hardy was a leading figure of the French music scene in the 1960s. By the latter part of that decade, she was working with such luminaries as Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg. ‘Comment Te Dire Adieu?’ is a composition by the latter and features on her untitled 1968 album, which has become also known by the title of the opening song. Smouldering lounge sounds and yé-yé.

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Marah – Round Eye Blues (2000)

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For a while there in the late 1990s, Marah were the heirs apparent to Bruce Springsteen. Formed by singer-guitarist brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko, the band developed a reputation for their Boss-like live shows. The release of their second album, Kids in Philly, cemented this reputation, and no more so than in their delivery of ‘Round Eye Blues’.

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John Mayer – Moving On And Getting Over (2017)

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Singer John Mayer’s eleventh album The Search for Everything was released in January. It’s a break-up album and the funky opener ‘Moving on and Getting Over’ puts it simply. It’s a return to his a more blue-eyed soulful side after his dalliance with sounds of Laurel Canyon.

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Rose Royce – Is It Love You’re After (1979)

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Monday or not, I just fancy a spot of disco. Rose Royce’s fourth album Rose Royce IV: The Rainbow Connection was the last to feature vocalist Gwen “Rose” Dickey, who had shined so brightly on hits like ‘Carwash’, ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ and ‘Wishing on a Star’. Produced by Norman Whitfield, ‘Is It Love You’re After’ was a testament to what the LA band would be losing. They would never reach such heights again, although the distinctive synthesised into would feature across dance floors a decade later, courtesy of S’Express.

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9 of the best – sounds of 2000

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 2000 in no particular order:

Radiohead – Idioteque

Blonde Redhead ‎- For The Damaged

Lambchop – Up With The People

The Avalanches – Since I Left You

Alan Braxe & Fred Falke – Intro

Outkast – Ms. Jackson

Marah – Round Eye Blues

Richard Ashcroft – A Song For The Lovers

Phoenix – Too Young

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Honourable mentions also go to: Grandaddy for ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot‘; Erykah Badu for ‘Didn’t Cha Know‘; Daft Punk for ‘One More Time‘; Augie March for ‘The Hole In Your Roof‘; Missy Elliott for ‘Get Ur Freak On‘; D’Angelo for ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)‘; and Edu K for his remix of Otto’s ‘Bob‘.

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Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock – It Takes Two (1988)

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The greatest hip-hop single ever cut? Well if you are judging on the choicest use of a Lyn Collins sample, hands down, Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s ‘It Takes Two’ is numero uno. What’s more, my wife can sing the entire song. That is how the Samuels roll. Have a great weekend.

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Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967)

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On this day (20 April) 50 years ago, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell released ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. The song had been held back by writers Ashford & Simpson from the likes of Dusty Springfield as the their strongest case for entry to Motown. They knew they had a gold-plated disc on their hands. And they were right; they secured a contract with the Detroit-baed label and the song’s success led to a string of more Ashford & Simpson-penned duets (including ‘Two Can Have A Party‘, ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’, and ‘Your Precious Love’). Bliss.

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Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (1977)

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Is this really the first song I’ve featured off the Fleetwood Mac’s off-the-chart success Rumours? Unsurprisingly, it is one of Stevie Nicks’ showpiece sounds ‘Dreams’. This time she takes aim at her strained relationship with Lindsey Buckingham; what they’d had and what they’d lost. Classic. The sound of 1977.

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Radiohead – Idioteque (2000)

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And then on 2 October 2000, wiping more than their own slate clean, Radiohead released Kid A. Seven tracks in, there’s a break in the mysterious ‘In Limbo’ with all seemingly lost at sea, and out of the mist blasts ‘Idioteque’. Its sound is a wave of intelligent electronica pulsing against the rocks, while Thom Yorke delivers a haunting siren to suit. “Women and children first, And children first, And children.” This song mattered.

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