Sunday, January 28, 2007

Love equals happiness

Last post for happy week before its time to move on, and two more entries to cheer you up. Firstly a little bit of Motown via Marvin Gaye and secondly Rickie Lee Jones. The link is of course love and I cant really ignore the fact that most love songs are by their very nature also happy songs. Gaye released 'How sweet it is' in 1964 despite his early determination to avoid R & B and concentrate on the 'Sinatra' style. I cant say I've ever been a great fan of either Marvin Gaye or Motown in general but I enjoy the classics and this song is lovely.

Rickie Lee Jones hit big in 1979 when this single was released and the self titled album was a joy to listen to. (For years this song was my test track whenever I bought a new piece of hi-fi). Previously she had only been famous for being on the cover of the 'Foreign Affairs' album by Tom Waits whom she was dating at the time. Although her output was patchy afterwards I always admired the fact that both musically and politically she was always leftfield.

Marvin Gaye - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (mp3)

Rickie Lee Jones - Chuck E.'s In Love (mp3)

Buy Marvin Gaye and Rickie Lee Jones please

Friday, January 26, 2007

I think I might be happy if I wasn't out with them

I think I've thunk too much this week and missed my chance of stardom on contrast podcast. I should have guessed that 'x-rated' would prove very popular. The early bird catches the worm and all that. Still, at least I have this forum to vent my spleen on the world. So back to happy week for all, and first up today is:

Stevie wonder - Sir Duke (mp3)

A song in remembrance, of course, of Duke Ellington but I like its upbeat tempo and I cant think of many more opportunities to get Stevie Wonder in my blog.

The other is:

The Housemartins - Happy Hour (mp3)

I dont think the song has that much of a feel good lyric, but hey it has 'happy' in the title. And they come from Hull. And Everything But The Girl come from Hull so they must be good.

Getting to the end of happy week now. Brmmm brmmm its driving week soon

Buy Housemartins and Stevie Wonder whenever possible

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just take your seat and hold on tight

First up - a plug for the Contrast Podcast, a fine compendium of songs this week under the banner of actor/celebrities, that yours truly appears on. A minor effort (on my part of course compared to the others) in the scheme of things, but I'm sure it will get better. This week is 'X-rated' and I've already got my thinking cap on.

Back to happy week and a couple of little gems to listen to. First up is:

The Beatles - Here comes the sun (mp3)

I have to say I've resisted putting The Beatles up on the site before now but this is just pure happiness perfection. I also have to say it wasn't me that suggested it but my environmentally concerned car sharing colleague. Many thanks uncle.


The Lightning Seeds - The Life of Riley (mp3)

A song about childbirth (not Ian Broudie himself but his son/daughter - I can't remember which) and positive to the last. But my main thoughts about this song revolve around 'Match of the Day' on a saturday night after a few beers. I think it was for the 'match action' bit at the beginning of the programme. Days of bliss!

Dip into The lightning Seeds back catalogue or expand your Beatles collection as you see fit

By the way saw '2001: A Space Odyssey' again at the weekend after a gap of lots of years. I quite forgot how magisterial it was, and how technically advanced. Kubrick truly was a god amongst directors.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I rise as the morning comes

Three weeks into January and its monday morning. Its cold and dark when you leave the house, dark when you arrive home later that day. The new years resolutions have all been well and truly tested throughout the past weekend. The next holiday seems ages away and the festivities of Christmas are fast fading into the past. Yes its 'blue monday' folks and I have the perfect antidote. First up are The Boo Radleys with 'Wake up Boo'. I know the lyrics are a bit suspect but the music is so jolly you have to feel bright and breezy. A shame that the band failed to last their dalliance with Britpop. And secondly we have Bill Withers and 'Lovely Day'. A bit predictable perhaps but I really don't care, Bill is in!

1. The Boo Radleys - Wake Up Boo! (mp3)

2. Bill Withers - Lovely Day (mp3)

Buy stuff by The Boo Radleys
Buy a little soul music with Bill Withers

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I choose my final scene today

The final day of my miserable week and the last two choices to muse over. It has been an enjoyable but exhausting process and is going to have to have some sort of antidote. Thus, you've guessed it - next week is happy week with songs to make you feel that the day is glorious and the world is your playground. But first we have to end the misery on a high. So without further ado I present Elbow with 'Switching Off'. I have seen this band three times now with very mixed results - the first two times they were great but the last time (in Birmingham) they were a complete shambles. Nevermind, a temporary dip in quality I hope. The second offering comes from Sweeney's Men with 'Dreams For Me'. A masterful song from the masters of Irish protest misery, and Terry Woods trying his level best to make me feel downbeat and woeful (a tactic that has often worked in the past I am ashamed to admit). But enough of this - listen to the tracks, rush off to the shops to buy the albums, listen and weep if you have to - but be prepared for joy and happiness on 'blue monday'.

1. Elbow - Switching Off (mp3)

2. Sweeney's Men - Dreams For Me (mp3)

Please buy Elbow here
Please buy Sweeney's Men here

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You were always so lost in the dark

Oh my god I dont think I can take much more of this. I've become morose and grouchy as the week has progressed and all down to selecting songs that will rip you apart.And you dont get any more gut wrenching than The Cure and Nick Drake. The 'Disintegration' album has always been a favourite, and with the possible exception of 'Faith' probably their best work (you can see the link I'm sure). In addition to 'Pictures of You' I also have a song by Nick Drake. I remember the first time I listened to Drake (1989 after a friend introduced me to her back catalogue) and I was bowled over by the achingly beautiful songs. I couldn't play any Nick Drake for several years after a personal tragedy but have since rediscovered that I can listen to 'River Man' without breaking down completely.

1. The Cure - Pictures of You (mp3)

2. Nick Drake - River Man (mp3)

Please buy The Cure here and also be blown away by purchasing the great Nick Drake here

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kiss me out of desire - not consolation

There are many different types of heartbreak of course. My first heartbreak was one of two that I can recall. Either it was a pet greenfly disappearing mysteriously (and tragically) out of my matchbox, or it was failing to hold hands with Carol Hillier at country dancing in the infants. I'm unsure to this day which came first, but both seemed to be the end of the world at the time. Whether out of a sense of loss or frustration the feelings of grief and regret are often overwhelming. Obviously this is the reason why so many records are written in this state of misery.

So two more to tug at the heartstrings, hope you enjoy them.

1. Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye (mp3)

2. Jane Weaver - Once You'd Given Me Up (mp3)

Buy Jeff and Jane here and here, because you know you want to after you dry your eyes

Monday, January 15, 2007

Separate from the rest, where I like you the best

Its heartbreak time on 'The World Won't Listen'. Another theme you lucky reader. Great songs to feel miserable by. I've shed a few tears over these thats for sure.

First up is New Order with 'Love Vigilantes', track one on 'Low Life' probably the finest of their albums. When thinking of favourite New Order songs it nearly always is the first on my list.

Second is 'Between the Bars' by Elliott Smith. Such a talent and such a waste, this appeared on the 'Either/Or' album. They say that the geatest sad songs occur in a state of abject despair. Poor Elliott must have been in perpetual misery for he produced some of the very finest.

New Order - Love Vigilantes (mp3)

Elliott Smith - Between the Bars (mp3)

As a bonus you fortunate person I've included the Hungry Lucy version of 'Love Vigilantes' for you to compare.

Hungry Lucy - Love Vigilantes (mp3)

Buy Elliott here , New Order here and Hungry Lucy here

Sunday, January 14, 2007

For A Minute There, I Lost Myself

Last day of the track number 6 extraveganza. And we leave on a high. One from one of the very best albums of all time, the other from the darlings of the modern music press.

1. Radiohead - Karma Police (mp3)

Oh my God! This was just fantastic. It still makes me come out with all the superlatives when I listen to it. I've got just one piece of clothing that I'm too sentimental to get rid of - a Radiohead t-shirt from the 'Pablo Honey' tour showing a baby with scarey red eyes - priceless.

2. Arctic Monkeys - Still Take You Home (mp3)

I have to say I was sceptical when I first heard about the 'Arctic Monkeys' but I've been proven wrong. Whether they will stand the test of time with the problem second album remains to be seen. Until then they are there to be enjoyed.

Buy these two sublime acts here and here

Friday, January 12, 2007

Now I know how Joan of Arc Felt

I've missed a day - poo! Got to set myself some lines as punishment - 'must try harder', 'must try harder'.

Back to the task inhand and two from the eighties today.

1. Echo & the Bunnymen - The Killing Moon (mp3)

Going off to college. Let off the leash. All night sitting listening to records, drinking coffee, toasties, a whip round for the beer. 'Ocean Rain'. Those were the days.

2. The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again (mp3)

Roll forward in time two years to 1986. Dissertation time, so time to roll up the sleeves. Pah! Lets listen to records, drink coffee, 'The Queen is Dead', toasties ................................. you get the idea.

Buy Smiths here
Buy The Bunnymen here

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Hardcore and the Gentle

Two from the early 90's in our continued odyssey of greatest tracks coming in at number 6:

1. Bjork - Big Time Sensuality (mp3)

I think there is a common theme in my appreciation of women artists - i.e. the fact that most of then are completely bonkers. Bjork is, of course, no exception and fully deserves the reputation foisted on her by most of the music press. Along with 'Human Behaviour' and 'Violently Happy' this album struck a real chord as I was about to begin teaching. Happy days indeed.

2. Suede - The Drowners (mp3)

The buzz and hype surrounding the release of 'The Drowners' and 'Metal Mickey' was huge in the early 90's. It was inevitable that Suede were never going to live upto the virtual deification status given them by the NME, but the tracks still have a resonance lost to many of the songs of this time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Old but distinguished

Two rather old school favourites for today in the track number 6 stakes, but brilliant nonetheless.

1. Fairport Convention - I'll Keep It With Mine (mp3)

I remember the first time I listened to this was at my sisters in Norfolk back in the early eighties. The album this comes from is 'What We Did On Our Holidays' in 1969. The guitar playing of Richard Thompson and voice of Sandy Denny combined to superb effect in this beautiful and haunting song.

2. John Martyn - Dreams By The Sea (mp3)

People are usually very nostalgic about programmes they watched when they grew up. In the true spirit of companionship, I in turn was very nostalgic about 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' remembering the fantastic songs played live in the BBC studio with Bob Harris to guide us. Then over the Xmas period BBC4 was kind enough to air the 'Best of.... Whistle Test' for the early 70's, selected by Bob himself. Great I thought as I eagerly sat down to watch my recorded episodes, but what a load of bollocks! If this was the best then the rest must have been awful. With one exception ........ John Martyn playing this song fantastically. A mate of mine went to see him in the 80's and he was totally pissed (fell off the stage I recall) - I think you had to catch him on a good day. One drink inflicted leg amputation later I must see him before the guitar gets hung up forever.

Monday, January 08, 2007

And the Winner is ......track number 6!

I know it is a familiar chestnut to do the very best track number one of an album or even track number 1 of side 2; but in the digital world of CD how about track number 6? In an effort to get my posting up and running on a more regular basis I am unashamedly going to do a post a day (all this week you lucky few people out there) for my favourite tracks sixth in the running order.

The only problem today is that I'm at work (boo hoo) and not able to access my collection until later. I will edit this in due course but until then we have do with my rather dim memory. So without further ado the first two on my list are:

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain - April Skies (mp3)
Of course track number 6 on the Darklands album. The Reid bothers go all melodic.

2. Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy (mp3)

Massive Attack in their pomp. Not only one of the very best number 6's in existence this regularly makes appearance in best single of the nineties or even best of all time. Stunning.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Songs and Images of a Lifetime - 1967

Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl (mp3)

Quite a tough choice with a wealth of great tracks this year (Aretha Franklin and Respect in particular). But overall he just shades it with this fantastic record by one of the greats. This is one of those tracks where I wonder whether to listen to, but when I do I'm always amazed by its utter brilliance.

'Cool Hand Luke' - director: Stuart Rosenberg

With Bonnie and Clyde also in the frame, this may seem like a strange choice, but I've always loved Newman as an actor and this film seems to sum up what he was about. I love the loner, anti-hero figure in most cinema and here Newman plays it to a tee. He makes an excellent job of portraying Luke descending from a good guy eager to please, to a world-weary bad guy fed up and demoralised. The tagline 'What we have here is a failure to communicate' is probably the first one I ever remembered. The egg eating scene is legendary and the support given by George Kennedy as 'Dragline' is superb throughout.

Buy your Van Morrison right here