Monday, 29 December 2008

Happy Birthday Röyksopp

World's Greatest Music writes...

I recommend downloading this free track Happy Birthday from Röyksopp's website, firstly because it's rather good, and secondly so you can play it at birthday parties and put it on birthday mixtapes.

Röyksopp - Happy Birthday

I'm thinking about changing this blog

Joe writes:

Amazon's mp3 download store is almost what I've been waiting for. With one click, you can get good quality mp3s with no DRM, often for 69p which is still too expensive but heading in the right direction. The range is of course smaller than Amazon's CD store (not to mention the torrent sites, Limewire, the Hype Machine etc), but a fair proportion of the tracks on this blog are available there.

So can we still justify posting links to download free mp3s of tracks that are available on the Amazon store?

Maybe we should post a YouTube link (like the Primitive Radio Gods one at the bottom of this post) or an Imeem link (like the Slightly Stoopid one on the next post down) for listening purposes, with an Amazon link for anyone who wants the mp3?

What do you think?

Primitive Radio Gods - Standing Outside A Broken Phone Box With Money In My Hand (Amazon)

Slightly Stoopid - 2am

Joe writes:

Slightly Stoopid are a very successful touring band in America (what is it with American touring bands and stupid names?). They are less well known in Britain but held in high regard within a certain scene. With 2am, they do the white reggae thing really convincingly. This could be a hit in the UK.

Slightly Stoopid - 2am (not on iTunes UK but it is on iTunes US)

2 am - Slightly Stoopid

The Temper Trap are a buzz band who deserve the buzz

Joe writes:

They should be around for many years (they've already been around for a few). They can really play live as well.

Thanks to Captain Obvious for the link.

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition (not on Amazon or iTunes yet)

I meant to write about this earlier - Davy Graham died

Joe writes: Read an obituary for more about Davy.

Anji is flawless.

And I couldn't resist an Angie thread as that name features in the title of Helen Reddy's finest hour, and one of the Stones' best songs as well. But I have managed to resist posting Anyone Can Fall In Love by Anita Dobson, good tune though it is.

Davy Graham - Anji (iTunes)

Helen Reddy - Angie Baby (Amazon)

The Rolling Stones - Angie (Amazon)


Friday, 5 December 2008

The perfect gig?

Phil writes:

Caught Leonard Cohen on the final gig of his 2008 European tour. A sensational evening. Everything was just right - setlist, voice, dancing (!), band, backing vocalists, sound (which is usually poor at the MEN arena), large screen video, poetry. One of those artists who's written so many great songs that it's very difficult to select one but I think this has to be it, a haunting, subtle, mysterious track that I never tire of. My son is also fascinated by it and once emailed me about it at 3am. Amazingly, 'at four in the morning' (a rare sleepless night) I read his email and replied. 'Hallelujah' is also a favourite but is now in danger of being done to death and I couldn't help noticing that even L. Cohen has followed most of the cover versions by singing 'do you' etc instead of 'do ya' and so repeatedly spoiling the rhyme scheme. But I guess it's his song so he can do that.

Leonard Cohen - Famous Blue Raincoat (iTunes)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Crosby, Stills and Nash + The Band

Phil writes: I bought the Fleet Foxes album. Although they have a great sound, I don't think their songs are quite there yet. They have been compared to CSN and The Band, amongst others, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to post a couple of my favourite tracks from these two prolific sources of great music.

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Cathedral:


The Band - The Weight:


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Save The World, Get The Girl

Phil writes: A great title for a great album. The King Blues have succeeded in producing one of those albums where every song is worth more than one listen. They remind me, amongst others, of Billy Bragg, Mike Skinner, Lennon, Everclear, and I guess they're inspired by most if not all of the bands mentioned in What If Punk Never Happened, the tour de force which makes such a perfect final track. There's even a song which sounds as though it might be a Nizlopi cover - it isn't, of course - is there such a thing? The success here is the extent to which the influences have led to some distinctive and memorable tracks with some great tunes and clever lyrics, rather than pale imitations, as is sometimes the case. You really need to get the whole album (Amazon) but the title track is possibly as good an introduction as any.

The King Blues - Save The World, Get The Girl (iTunes)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Boyzone have covered Tom Baxter's Better

Joe writes: Boyzone always had a knack of picking great songs to cover, although I must say their cover of Better didn't live up to their glory years on first listen. Good song though. Have a listen to Tom Baxter's original instead, as featured on this blog last year.


wonderful footage of Miriam Makeba just now closing Newsnight on BBC 2

Joe writes: Steve Wright also played Pata Pata today. God bless the BBC.

There are two wonderful pieces on other blogs commemorating Miriam - Heart on a Stick which has great links to audio and video (the track Nongqongqo is beautiful), and SoundRoots which includes a statement from Nelson Mandela. God bless the bloggers.

Miriam Makeba - Pata Pata on iTunes

Friday, 7 November 2008

Immortal Technique

Joe writes: I've found another Immortal Technique track that I like almost as much as The Cause Of Death. It follows a well-worn formula but it's hard to resist thanks to the combination of a lesser known Bob Marley sample with IT's lyrics and delivery.

Immortal Technique - Mistakes (iTunes)

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Joe writes: A good band who remind me of my early radio listening experiences about 15 years ago, when Radio 1's Evening Session was dominated by the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr. There's one specific band who Dinosaur Pile-Up really remind me of, but I can't think who it is.

Dinosaur Pile-Up - My Rock 'n' Roll (not on iTunes but another track of their is)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Sam Cooke's masterpiece

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

has been quoted more than once in all the comment on Obama'a historic victory. And the President-elect almost referenced it himself in his speech. It's a song that has often been covered - the Neville Brothers have a distinctive take on it.

Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come (iTunes)

Aaron Neville - A Change Is Gonna Come (iTunes)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Let Your Love Flow

Joe writes: This Bellamy Brothers soft rock classic is on the current Barclaycard advert on British TV (the one with the water slide).

I was surprised to discover no-one has posted this on a Hype Machine blog yet. There is one Bellamy Brothers track on a Hype Machine blog but that gets slagged off. I guess they can't compare to Of Montreal.

If you like Let Your Love Flow, you may love the Abandoned Luncheonette album by Hall & Oates and my favourite Bread track, Guitar Man (another track that is absent from the Hype Machine).

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Mike Skinner disappointment

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

How could he appear live - with a gospel choir, for God's sake - and not do Never Went to Church? Otherwise the BBC Electric Proms show with choir and orchestra was impressive and he did play two of his best but Church is great music and a lot of his stuff isn't quite. It's often smart, funny, original - It Was Supposed To Be So Easy is one of my favourites - but not truly memorable.

The Streets - Never Went To Church (iTunes)

The Streets - It Was Supposed To Be So Easy (iTunes)

Monday, 27 October 2008

Day 'n' Nite by Kid Cudi

World's Greatest Music writes...

This has been going round my head. Big hit I think. I borrowed the link from the Cream Team blog.

Kid Cudi - Day 'n' Nite (there's only a remix available on iTunes so far)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Can't get this out of my head

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

Most readers of this blog probably watch Jools, though anyone can miss a week - I sometimes do. So you may not have caught Nicole Atkins a few weeks back. I'd never heard her before. I bought 'Maybe Tonight' the next day and I've played it over and over. It's one of those songs that gets straight to you and you can't believe it's not already a massive hit with its Bowiesque lyrics and strong tune. The performance is excellent as well. I love the way the opening ethereal strings are followed by the basic but effective beat. The song builds inexorably to the climactic chorus which doesn't disappoint. Apparently, Nicole Atkins has been compared to Orbison and you can see why. I'm surprised that she hasn't yet made it big. She surely will.

Nicole Atkins - Maybe Tonight (iTunes)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Sara Schiralli

Joe writes: Not sure where I heard about Sara but she is on MySpace (yes, really), and her music is lovely.

Sara Schiralli - Bang Bang (iTunes)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Another 'Blind Willie McTell'

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

When the The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 appeared in 1991 fans were amazed that one of Dylan's greatest songs, an outake from Infidels, had been left on the shelf for 8 years. Now the eighth 'official bootleg' album Tell Tale Signs has appeared and we find a track left off Time Out of Mind 11 years ago which will almost certainly be acclaimed as another lost classic. As with some of the best Dylan songs, it sounds like some other song you can't quite identify and yet it's really unlike any other song you've ever heard. If you're quick, you can follow this link to hear the whole album which is released on 7th October.

Bob Dylan - Red River Shore (Amazon)

Bob Dylan - Blind Willie McTell (iTunes)

the original demo of Without You, the song made famous by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey

Joe writes: The person who sent this to me wrote "Think you might be interested in hearing this. The original demo (different middle eight and no chorus!) of 'Without You'. This is Peter Ham at his Fender Rhodes in 1969 knocking out a song that would earn the industry millions and that he would never see a single penny from and that would ultimately drive both him and his best friend and co-writer to commit suicide. This is the most tragic tale in the annals of pop."

For more on this, read Peter Ham's Wikipedia entry, or this piece from his official website, written by the mother of his child.

Peter Ham - Without You (demo) (not on iTunes, but here's a link to buy the album from whence it came, on

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A favourite Dylan cover

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

Caught Alan Price on a TOTP2 re-run and it prompted me to post this, which is a memorable interpretation of a great, and relatively accessible, song.

Alan Price - ToRamona (not on iTunes so here's an Amazon link to an anthology that includes it)

Friday, 19 September 2008

One of my favourite 'Motown' tracks

worldgreatestmusicdad writes:

If Grapevine is the greatest Motown track, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me is not far behind - though it may not strictly qualify as a Motown track even though the backing band were the Funk Brothers, Motown's house band. I first heard Jackie Wilson's unique vocals emanating from a jukebox in a transport cafe in the late fifties. I'm not certain now which tracks I first heard, but Lonely Teardrops would certainly have been one of them. Levi Stubbs is not the only distinctive artist to have inspired a song by another.

Jackie Wilson - Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher (iTunes)

Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops (iTunes)

Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) (iTunes)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

new-ish bands I've been meaning to post for a while

World's Greatest Music writes...

Your Twenties are a kind of English art rock take on early Hall & Oates or Steely Dan, with surprisingly melodic songs. I stole the link from the excellent Pinglewood blog.

Barefoot Confessor's Camden Road is somewhere in the middle ground between The Libertines and McFly, and I think either band would be proud of it.

Music Go Music sing out of tune, but what good songs. They're very LA as someone pointed out to me. And they have some amazing illustrations on their MySpace site.

I saw Billy The Kid at Latitude Festival and they were really good, if tired and hungover. If I Was is neat.

Music Week's Playlist is a good place to discover new music including Middle Class Rut, who really remind me of Harvey Danger. Flobots have a hit sounding like Cake, so maybe MC Rut can have one sounding like another second division nineties US rock band.

Your Twenties - Caught Wheel (Amazon)

Barefoot Confessor - Camden Road (not on iTunes yet)

Music Go Music - I Walk Alone (iTunes)

Billy The Kid & The Brothers Barbaylios - If I Was (not on iTunes yet)

Middle Class Rut - New Low (iTunes)

Bad Boy Productions (BBP) - Candy Floss

Joe writes: Bad Boy Productions are the team behind Put A Donk On It

They don't take themselves too seriously but maybe they should with this track Candy Floss and its wonderful chords

Norman Whitfield is no longer here to make everything right that's wrong

World's Greatest Music writes...

Amongst many other hits, Norman wrote (with Barrett Strong) and produced probably the greatest ever Motown single, I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine (iTunes)
Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs' Tears (iTunes)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

I'm happy that Elbow won the Mercury Music Prize

World's Greatest Music writes...

Guy Garvey is a nice guy and a good songwriter. Here's one of my favourite Elbow tracks from their catalogue. I always thought Coldplay took inspiration from this for Fix You.

Elbow - Grace Under Pressure (iTunes)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Joan Baez covers English songwriter

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes...

I notice that Joan Baez has included a song by Thea Gilmore on her upcoming album. Haven't heard it yet but it's not such a surprise as Baez guests on Gilmore's latest album 'Liejacker'. I don't know a lot of her stuff but I heard her guesting with Martha Wainwright when they sang her excellent song 'This Girl Is Taking Bets' with its Dylanesque succession of striking images.

Thea Gilmore - This Girl Is Taking Bets (not on iTunes so here's an Amazon link for the album Rules for Jokers)

Thea Gilmore has also done some fine covers herself, including this which is somehow unexpected:

Thea Gilmore - Warm And Tender Love (iTunes)

Monday, 1 September 2008

inspiration for the two biggest hits of recent times

The World's Greatest Music writes...

Most people recognise the references to Sweet Home Alabama in the current Kid Rock hit, but not everyone spots the musically more significant sample from Warren Zevon's Werewolves Of London. Sweet Home Alabama is great but I think Werewolves Of London is even better.

Katy Perry's hit shares a title and a concept with I Kissed A Girl by Jill Sobule. Jill's song is rather more subtle and personal. Indeed it's curious that it took three of the world's most successful pop songwriters and the artist (Cathy Dennis, Dr Luke, Max Martin and Katy) to come up with I Kissed A Girl, considering the groundwork that had already been laid by Jill.

Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London (iTunes)

Jill Sobule - I Kissed A Girl (iTunes)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Interesting how one thing leads to another

when you start trying to identify songs. I've been watching coverage of the Democratic convention and noticed how much Springsteen featured on the soundtrack - that's literally what it is, every speech, video and bit of business accompanied or followed by a snatch of music. I think they should publish the playlist for nerds everywhere.

As well as Springsteen, I heard amongst other vaguely familiar tracks 'American Girl' and had to check who it was by - Tom Petty, of course. Great track, but I'm not sure that they would have used it if they'd read the lyrics right through. Then I noticed on YouTube that Everclear had covered it - quite a decent version. In the YouTube comments someone remarked that they do an acoustic version of it. That I would love to hear as their version of 'Brown Eyed Girl' as the Beach Boys might have done it is absolute class, and very surprising given their usual style. I had been wondering what the Republicans should use on their soundtrack and came across 'Volvo Driving Soccer Mom'. Read the lyrics.

Tom Petty - American Girl (iTunes)
Everclear - Brown Eyed Girl (iTunes)

Lisa Hannigan and MIA

The World's Greatest Music writes...

Two updates on things I've written about before.

Lisa Hannigan's debut solo album is out soon in Ireland. My favourite track on it is Lille which can now be downloaded for free from (in theory at least - in practice the site wanted my credit card details even though the file is free, then rejected them).

And my favourite MIA track Paper Planes is finally receiving the attention it deserves, going top ten in the US and soon to be re-released in the UK.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A favourite Bowie track and an early single

worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

Considering that Bowie is one of the patron saints of this blog, he hasn't featured too much so far, although perhaps he has because you can hear his influence everywhere, in Mike Scott, Tom Baxter, Damien Rice, Belle and Sebastian, Rufus etc. It's hard if not impossible to have one favourite track for an artist like him who has produced so many great tracks in such a range of diverse styles but 'Rock 'n' Roll With Me' is certainly one of my favourites, a gorgeous and instantly memorable sound with his voice as good as it gets (pretty damn good) even if the lyrics are somewhat impenetrable and almost irrelevant - apart from the chorus - and there's not too much rock 'n' roll about it.

In 1966 I owned 'Can't Help Thinking About Me'. It didn't chart but I really rated it. Sadly I took it to one too many student parties and never saw it again. As well as having one of the great rock themes - leaving home - it surely prefigures much of his later work.

David Bowie - Rock 'N' Roll With Me - iTunes
David Bowie and the Lower Third - Can't Help Thinking About Me (iTunes)

Monday, 25 August 2008


worldsgreatestmusicdad writes:

Well, this blog has already promoted trad jazz, so why not? Like country music, ragtime has often been neglected or reviled because of people's false perception that it all sounds the same. There's a limit to the amount of jingly-jangly, out-of-tune piano at breakneck speed that I want to listen to (depending on my mood, anywhere between five seconds and five minutes) but there are all kinds of rags and many ways of playing them. Amongst the best is this beautiful Scott Joplin composition, played here anonymously (probably on a piano roll) and not by the man himself who did make some piano rolls but not of 'Solace', it seems. A classically trained pianist, Joshua Rifkin, helped, along with the soundtrack of 'The Sting', to popularise ragtime back in the early seventies with a great album, and you may have heard 'Solace' played either by him or (truncated) on the film soundtrack (with strings!).

Anon - Solace
Joshua Rifkin - Scott Joplin: Piano Rags (Amazon)

Monday, 11 August 2008

Isaac Hayes has died

Joe writes: You might want to download something with his voice on right now, but instead here's something with Ghostface Killah's voice on, rapping over a sample from Isaac's version of Walk On By - I Can't Go To Sleep by the Wu-Tang Clan

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


Orchestra is my favourite track by Dan Black's previous band The Servant. I wasn't sure about his nasal vocal back then but it works rather better on HYPNTZ, which reminds me of Dynamite Hack's cover of Boyz N The Hood. How did they get away with the Beatles steal at the end I wonder?

And all of this is an excuse to post my favourite Notorious BIG track Juicy. What a lyric. Morally it's deeply flawed but aesthetically it's outstanding. It also includes the line "blow up like the World Trade" which is not the only pre-9/11 occurrence of this motif in rap music. Biggie's lyrics were of course weirdly prophetic, but listeners should note that drinking champagne to quench one's thirst will only result in further dehydration and quite likely a headache.

The Servant - Orchestra (iTunes)

Dynamite Hack - Boyz-N-The-Hood (on iTunes US but not UK)

Notorious BIG - Juicy (iTunes)

Sunday, 27 July 2008

"you know you're gonna lose more than you've found"

Joe writes: There's that cover of Beggin' by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons that's about to be a hit but personally I'm all Beggined out.

I do think someone will have a hit with a cover of The Night before long, although no-one could better the original.

a load of new music I'm excited about with MySpace links

I've been meaning to post this stuff for ages

Dead Confederate - listen to The Rat

La Roux - Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid - their MySpace seems to have been deleted

Tinashé - listen to any of the tracks - there is no such thing as a weak Tinashé track

Mybe - listen to Walk Away

I Blame Coco - her best track Strangers isn't on her MySpace. Go and see her live instead - she is so cool.

VV Brown - listen to Crying Blood, although the proper version isn't up on her MySpace at the time of writing, just the demo and some remixes, so maybe listen to Monster Mash instead. Vanessa also has a really good song called Better

Aushua - excellent vocalist - listen to Stained Glass Blues

Thomas Western - listen to Your Front Door

"I'm gonna feel this way till I'm six feet underground, crazy as it sounds, I need you around"

Joe writes: Smoking Popes are back with a new album. I know this thanks to YuppiePunk.

They sound exactly the same as ever, but they've aged rather well judging by If You Don't Care.

Their classic track is of course Need You Around - just perfect.

It always reminds me of what is possibly my favourite Smiths song, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, not least because they're both so concise.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Wedding Songs

The news yesterday that Lonestar's 'Amazed' is the U.K.'s most popular first track at wedding receptions prompts me to post it, though presumably most people must have heard it - at other people's weddings, if not their own. Still, there must be people who don't know it as, apparantly, it didn't make the top 20 over here. It's a powerful song.

At our wedding, we were allowed one CD track and it was specified that it couldn't be anything religious apparently on the grounds that it was a civil ceremony. We wouldn't have chosen anything religious ourselves but if someone chose, say, a gospel tinged soul number, why couldn't they have it? Presumably there's a historical reason which no-one has seriously questioned. We chose Eva Cassidy's haunting version of 'Fields of Gold'. I think it's one of those instances where a cover surpasses the original, though I really liked the sound of Sting's lute version which featured in an episode of 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'.

Lonestar - Amazed (iTunes)
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold (iTunes)
Sting - Fields of Gold (Studio 60):

Friday, 18 July 2008


Last night I went to see Tinashé's first ever gig with a full band at Proud Galleries in London. He was great but I'd better not post any of his demos yet.

Just beforehand, Collapsing Cities were playing. I only caught the last song but the atmosphere was great and the song is something of an anthem called Seriously.

Collapsing Cities - Seriously (not on iTunes yet)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dion + Spector = A true classic

Phil writes: Yet another singer I was reintroduced to by my son. He played me this enjoyable and very unusual track a few years ago. From there I discovered the classic album it comes from, 'Born To Be With You' and then a number of lesser but still very good albums Dion has made over the years. I like his voice a lot, and there are standout tracks on all the albums. Apparently he didn't really approve of what Spector did with him, but many critics have disagreed with him about this, and it may be that one reason why he hasn't really been consistently successful is a lack of judgement about his material and the sounds producers achieve for him.

Dion - Make The Woman Love Me (not on iTunes so Amazon link for album)

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

a cover of Somewhere In My Heart

Joe writes: Another blog has just posted a pretty straight and decent cover of Somewhere In My Heart by Mystery Jets, and as I'm now officially a Mystery Jets fan (or a Young Love fan anyway), it seems only right to post it here.

Soon I will do a post about the three Aztec Camera albums everyone should own.

Mystery Jets - Somewhere In My Heart (iTunes)

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Two tracks that never pall

These were on tapes that my sons made when they were just discovering stuff for themselves and were played endlessly on the van stereo when we were on one of our summer trips. 'The Whole of the Moon' is an exceptional track - chock full of vivid imagery and imaginative leaps. I believe that it's actually about Roddy Frame which kind of surprised me when I heard it as for me there's no question that Mike Scott is a far more talented musician and songwriter. Still, 'Somewhere In My Heart' is one of those near-perfect pop songs which every singer songwriter must dream of producing.

The Waterboys - The Whole Of The Moon (iTunes)
Aztec Camera -
Somewhere In My Heart (iTunes)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Tanya Stephens - Sintoxicated

Joe writes: This blog is about to take a short break but before we do, one of my favourite lost albums of the last decade.

Around the turn of the millennium, Jamaican dancehall artist Tanya Stephens decamped to Sweden and made a singer-songwriter album for Warner that's closer to Tracy Chapman and Macy Gray than Lady Saw.

This excellent review says that Tanya had some reservations about the production style. I too have reservations about the production, but the songwriting is incredible throughout. The lyrics are savage in places, but not as savage as the thank-you list which is really more of a "fuck you" list. Two of the songs in particular are crying out to be covered - Lying Lips and Tonight - both ballads on a similar theme. Such good songs - clever yet emotive.

Oh, and here's my favourite Lady Saw track. Another really good song and an intriguing arrangement with the fiddle player playing in the next room. I'm pretty sure Lady Saw wrote the song, which was later covered by Linda Ronstadt.

Tanya Stephens - Lying Lips (iTunes)

Tanya Stephens - Tonight (iTunes)

Lady Saw - Give Me A Reason (iTunes)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Joe writes: I've written about Kate & Anna McGarrigle before but as my dad mentions them below, here once again is my favourite track of theirs. Not one from their eponymous debut album, although which has rightly appeared in Best Album of All-Time lists, but Matapedia, the title track of their 1996 album. Martha Wainwright sings vocals and makes an appearance in the lyrics as "the daughter of Kate".

Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Matapedia (buy from Amazon)

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Emmylou - A Solid Album

The recently released 'All I Intended To Be' features some classy backing musicians, a few standout tracks and that haunting voice - often in harmony, when it is heard at its best. My favourite has to be this collaboration (writing and performing) with the McGarrigle sisters. As with some of the early Dylan repertoire, you can't be sure whether it's a traditional song, a reworking of a traditional song or a totally new composition, but it's the kind of track that will quickly get inside your head whatever.

Emmylou Harris - There's a pared down live performance (from Later) of 'How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower' on YouTube (album on iTunes)

Friday, 6 June 2008

The re-release of 'Let's Get Lost'

the classic documentary about the legendary Chet Baker prompts me to post a track from the brilliant album 'Chet Baker Sings'. Of course, Chet made his name as a lyrical trumpet player with a very distinctive, and beautiful, tone. But he also had a fine voice. In the latter stages of his career he sang more than he played trumpet, partly because of problems with his teeth - his trumpet-playing never reached its former heights after his teeth were knocked out in a dispute which was almost certainly drug-related. His trumpet playing on the album is just right, perfectly complementing his voice. Many of the tracks have the melancholic flavour of the one I've chosen but the sound is so great that listening is a far from depressing experience. Many other musicians, amongst them Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, recognised Chet's greatness and not that long before his death Chet contributed a perfect little solo on Elvis's version of 'Shipbuilding'.

Chet Baker - It's Always You (iTunes)

Elvis Costello - Shipbuilding (iTunes)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Talking of Gram Parsons.......

I first heard of him when I bought and was absolutely bowled over by Elvis Costello's album 'Almost Blue'. Elvis recorded it in Nashville, I think, with some local musicians added to the Attractions. Every track on the album was a country cover and the LP cover carried a sticker which famously said: "WARNING: This album contains country & western music and may cause offence to narrow minded listeners." The most memorable track, for me, was Gram's immortal 'Hot Burrito #1' (sensibly renamed 'I'm Your Toy' - never was a sublime song more ridiculously titled). When I finally caught up with Gram's own version with, of course, the Flying Burrito Brothers, I had to accept that the original was better, if only for the heartbreaking cracking of his voice at crucial stages, but Elvis gives him a run for his money. More of Gram perhaps when my son posts his own take on this seminal artist - and more of Emmylou when the new album is finally released. It's been delayed but I've got it on order!

Elvis Costello - I'm Your Toy (iTunes)

Emmylou Harris was just interviewed in The Times

Joe writes: The piece mostly focuses on how attractive she is for a 61 year-old, and Gram Parsons.

Still, at least this gives me a chance to post Boulder To Birmingham, one of my all-time favourites and surely one of the saddest songs of all-time (if you've read the Times article you will be able to hazard a guess at what the lyrics are about).

My dad introduced me to Boulder To Birmingham and he's going to see Emmylou live on her current tour. He also has her new album so will hopefully post something from that, if it's great.

Boulder To Birmingham was written by Emmylou and Bill Danoff. Bill's other credits include Take Me Home Country Roads, a smash for John Denver and Hermes House Party (I will resist the temptation to include a Hermes House Party track on the same thread as Boulder To Birmingham, but I must do a John Denver post and a Gram Parsons post before long).

Emmylou Harris - Boulder To Birmingham (iTunes)

"The United States sponsored the rise of the Third Reich"

Joe writes: Immortal Technique is playing at the Coronet in London tonight and I'm going.

He often raps about conspiracy theories, although he doesn't like that term as he explains on The Cause Of Death. But almost every line here outlines a new conspiracy theory or alarming "fact". It's powerful in its relentlessness, and listening to it reminds me of watching the conspiracy theory film Zeitgeist. Alarming, thought-provoking, extremely misguided in places, but you have to admire the passion, anger and desire to educate the listener - all of which are conspicuously absent from so much of today's hip hop music.

Immortal Technique - The Cause Of Death on iTunes

Monday, 2 June 2008

Golden Silvers and back in black

There seems to be a nice buzz building on Golden Silvers in the London music industry. One of their songs stands head and shoulders above the others I've heard and of course it's the ballad, Fade To Black.

Black has been a big theme in music in the past few years. When you read that, perhaps you don't immediately think of Burn The Black Suit by Juliet Turner or Raude by Black Rose - but you should!

Juliet is an Irish singer songwriter and Burn The Black Suit should have been a huge hit. She has a new album out soon, I see from her website.

I thought Black Rose were extremely obscure (their album is hard to find in the UK) but this website, where you can buy their downloads, tells me they are "without a doubt the most popular Fijian group in the Pacific". Raude is such a great noise and so infectious.

Golden Silvers - Fade To Black (nothing on iTunes yet)

Juliet Turner - Burn The Black Suit (iTunes)

Black Rose - Raude (not on iTunes or Amazon but try the website above or

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Another Lost Album, Another Spectacular TOTP Performance

Leo Sayer's debut album 'Silverbird' was full of good tracks and showed off his distinctive voice and unusual vocal range to excellent effect. His TOTP debut was even more striking (and happily some helpful person has put it on YouTube - not the original, I think, but very close in spirit). This was, of course, in the days when there were only two or three channels and everyone was talking about this guy in the clown suit and his mesmerizing performance. Since then he's had a well-documented decline, with occasional rediscoveries, but he has written and performed some memorable songs and I wouldn't bet against another comeback at some point.

Leo Sayer - Silverbird (Amazon)

my all-time favourite Eurovision entry

Mocedades - Eres Tú (iTunes)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Jimmy Cliff just performed one of my favourite songs of all time on Later

Joe writes: If you are not down with the Jools noodly piano version, fear not - here is the classic original.

It's one of those songs that many people have covered, and it should be easy to cover, on paper, but in reality nothing comes close to matching Jimmy's version.

Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross (iTunes)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Does Martha Wainwright sound like Kate Bush to you????

Phil writes: She does to me, at least on a couple of the tracks on her new album. That's not necessarily a bad thing I suppose - as long as she doesn't make a habit of it. Although KB is one of those artists who deserves some credit for originality, I think her voice would get intensely irritating if you listened to more than a track at a time. See what you think by comparing the Martha track with Kate's stunning second single, which she performed on TOTP while doing the weirdest swinging round dance. Martha's voice is actually much more versatile - listen to her singing two great standards (as part of Rufus's Judy Garland tribute) on YouTube.

Martha Wainwright - Tower Of Song (iTunes for the album)

Martha Wainwright - Stormy Weather

Martha Wainwright - Someone To Watch Over Me

Kate Bush - Wow (iTunes)

The Ting Tings are no. 1 in the UK so here's a track from their previous outfit Dear Eskiimo

Dear Eskiimo - Jo (posted by Joe)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Neil Diamond

So Rick Rubin continues to "do a Johnny Cash" on Neil Diamond. I'm not totally convinced this is playing to Neil's strengths but I'm in favour of anything that gets him the credit he deserves as one of the great pop songwriters and performers.

Here's an Neil classic that's ripe for revival (it's practically a dance record already thanks to that kick drum).

Neil Diamond - Forever In Blue Jeans (iTunes)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Scooter have the no. 1 album in the UK today

Edith Bowman played a track on Radio 1 then slagged it off even though it sounded rather good. As I haven't worked out what that track is, here's my favourite Scooter track Friends, available with the new album along with 19 of their best tracks on a bonus disc.

Scooter - Friends (iTunes)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

It's just like discovering a lost Beatles album

For me, as for most people, I guess, 'She's Not There' was the only really solid reference point when the Zombies were mentioned. It is a very memorable song. A few years ago I heard Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent talking on the radio and this prompted me to seek out a Colin Blunstone album. It quickly became a favourite and this track showcases his very distinctive voice.

I knew nothing about 'Odessey and Oracle' until my son mentioned that they were reforming the original line-up to play the whole album live for the first time ever (the band broke up even before it was originally released). He sent me the album and got us tickets for the show. Both were great. You can see why it is often described as a classic album - there's not a duff track on it and some of the songs are indeed up there with the best of the Beatles' stuff. You really do need to listen to the whole album but the striking opener, with its unusual story-angle, makes a reasonable taster.

Colin Blunstone - Say You Don't Mind (iTunes)
The Zombies - Care of Cell 44 (iTunes for the album)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

I assumed that my son must have known this...

but I discovered a while ago that I'd never played it to him. This Roy Orbison song was the first record that really meant anything to me. Interestingly, the 45 was a ‘double A-side’ - ‘Running Scared’ and ‘Love Hurts’. ‘Love Hurts’ is a haunting, distinctive song which becomes quiet background music through much of your life (and then you discover the version by Gram Parsons and Emmylou). ‘Running Scared’ is something else again, the consummate story song, packed with narrative power, building to its magnificent, orgasmic denoument, which, time after time after time - and I’ve been listening to it for fifty years - knocks you into the middle of next week. The point at which the bass rhythm enters and carries the song and the listener forward and upwards is extraordinary. The words build, the story builds, the music builds. So much of the pain and joy of human relationships in a pop song lasting two minutes twelve seconds. And perhaps the most amazing thing about the song - Orbison claims to have written it ‘in about ten minutes’.

Roy Orbison - Running Scared (iTunes)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

I’ve never been totally sure about the Proclaimers -

some great songs, always at least interesting, often quite original, yet for me there’s something very slightly creepy about them, e.g. 'She Arouses Me So' (too much information?). However, this is a brilliant track and the perfect answer to the current publicity given to those who refuse to see the benefits of immigration. If only there were a similar song about England. Anyone know one?

The Proclaimers - Scotland's Story (not on iTunes)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Bruce Springsteen is playing live in London soon

I turned down the opportunity to go and now I'm having pangs of regret. I have seen him once before at the Royal Albert Hall but that was acoustic, and it was before I knew his catalogue well.

But I've seen so many legends way past their peak - would this be another disappointment? He hasn't written a great song since Streets Of Philadelpia (or if he has, I missed it).

Anyway, here are the two tracks that gave me those pangs of regret.

I very much approve of this phenomenon of the likes of Todd Terje and Cousin Cole taking classic tracks and adding a few little synth noises and tweaks for the dancefloor rather than radically remixing.

As for Thunder Road, "Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band"... if only this were 1975!

This post can also stand in tribute to Clive Davis, the man who told Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and many others to write him a hit. I can live without Lay Lady Lay but we should all be grateful for Born To Run.

Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire (Cousin Cole's Bad Desire Mix) (here's a link to the original on iTunes)

Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (Live at the Roxy, 1975) (iTunes)

Chris de Burgh's time will come again

If Supertramp can come back into fashion then Chris de Burgh will sooner or later, right?

There is a new CdeB compilation released in the UK this week. Included on there are my two favourites - Much More Than This which I've written about previously, and Borderline. Borderline has a topical lyric about deciding between going away to fight for your country and staying with your lover. The Borderline sequel Say Goodbye To It All is also on there (more songs should have sequels).

Chris de Burgh - Borderline (iTunes)

Ludacris vs Born Slippy

Ludacris is one of my favourite rappers (or he was back at the start of the millennium anyway).

Born Slippy is one of my favourite records of all time.

How could I resist a combination of the two?

Yes, the chord does eventually change and when that happens it is of course the high point of the track.

Thanks to my new favourite blog Burnt Waffles for the link.

Ludacris - Ultimate Satisfaction (Cabin Bwoy Refix) (not on iTunes so here's a link to buy the original Born Slippy)

Friday, 18 April 2008

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Very honoured to be invited (see below).

I would have to say that in recent years I’ve learned just as much about great music from him as he may have done previously from me. I’m afraid, by the way, that my version of the Bunny Berigan intro is a very simplified one but I like to think I’ve caught the spirit of it. Mention of Humphrey Lyttleton’s ‘Best of Jazz’ and its recent demise prompts me to draw attention to one of the best recordings he ever played - one to which he returned from time to time. I don’t know anything about Marion Williams or whether she recorded much else, but even if she didn’t the power and excitement of this one track is a greater achievement than the whole output of many other artists. Here also is another great Humph favourite (apparently made it onto the playlist for his very final programme that I sadly missed) which is similarly gospel based, and equally memorable with a tinge of 'tailgate' trombone humour - it just wouldn’t be the same on any other instrument.

Marion Williams - It is Well (nothing on itunes)
Carla Bley (featuring Gary Valente) - The Lord is Listening to Ya Hallelujah (iTunes)

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

a new poster on The World's Greatest Music

I've decided to introduce a new poster on The World's Greatest Music - my dad.

My dad was the first influence on my music taste, and possibly the biggest. Before I listened to any contemporary music, I listened to his record collection. It was an impeccable musical education - The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Chris Barber, Joni Mitchell, Motown Chartbusters, Jimmy Cliff... (the last few might have been my mum's but still).

I inherited his predilection for recording shows off the radio and making up cassettes of the best tracks (I did it with Mark Radcliffe's Out On Blue 6, John Peel and Mark Goodier's Evening Session; he did it with Jazz Record Requests and Humphrey Lyttelton's The Best Of Jazz, which sadly came to an end recently).

It was only a matter of time before we both started mp3 blogging.

Also, he can pretty much replicate Bunny Berigan's awesome intro to I Can't Get Started on the trumpet.

Bunny Berigan - I Can't Get Started (iTunes)

Friday, 4 April 2008

RIP Sean Levert

Sean was in LeVert with his better known brother Gerald. LeVert's track Casanova is a classic.

LeVert - Casanova (not on iTunes except for a karaoke version)

Friday, 28 March 2008

"If I only knew your name, I'd go from door to door"

Joe writes: I heard Ciara Haidar cover this at the weekend. What a great song, and one that I vaguely knew - surely a classic '80s hit for someone like The Bangles or Cyndi Lauper, I thought.

But no, it turns out it's the current single by the Mystery Jets featuring Laura Marling.

I love it when I group I had written off come up with something really great (when I say "love" I obviously mean "grudgingly accept").

Someone has to cover this and make it a hit.

Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling - Young Love (iTunes)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Herman Dune, Jonathan Richman and Paul Simon

Joe writes: Herman Dune played a lovely set at SXSW with Kimya Dawson joining him to sing vocals on a couple of songs including I Wish That I Could See You Soon. A very endearing song from a very endearing artist, although the lyric about spooning is a bit much.

I Wish That I Could See You Soon is clearly inspired by Jonathan Richman, and my favourite Jonathan Richman song is I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar.

I can also hear shades of Late In The Evening in I Wish That I Could See You Soon. Late In The Evening is the opening and best remembered track from Paul Simon's 1980 album One Trick Pony. The album has been slated by critics, perhaps more because of the film of the same name than the music (see also Parade by Prince). The critics are wrong about the music anyway. The album is great from beginning to end and is probably Paul Simon's best alongside Graceland.

Herman Dune - I Wish That I Could See You Soon (iTunes)

Jonathan Richman - I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar (iTunes)

Paul Simon - Late In The Evening (iTunes)

Friday, 21 March 2008

Black Kids video for I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You

I'm just posting this because I like the track and I love the lyric but I never got round to saying that here, and it would look hopelessly late if I posted the mp3 now, right?

some good tracks from bands who played SXSW

Foy Vance - Indiscriminate Act Of Kindness (iTunes)
I really like this song which reminds me of Romeo & Juliet by Dire Straits for some reason (obviously that's a good thing).

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal (not on iTunes UK yet but there is an EP up there including Sun Giant which is also lovely)
One of the buzz bands of SXSW. Their live show is very endearing.

Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers - 4th Of July (not on iTunes UK but lots of his stuff is)

Tigercity - Red Lips (not on iTunes UK yet but there is an EP up there)

Eagle Seagull - I'm Sorry But I'm Beginning To Hate Your Face (not on iTunes yet but lots of their stuff is)

Litttle Jackie - The World Should Revolve Around Me (not on iTunes UK yet)
Macy Gray revivalists with Imani Coppola on vocals

Lars Vaular - Eg E Fra Bergen (iTunes)
Norwegian rapper. No idea what he's saying but I like the backing track and the chorus.

from Adam Green to Jessica Simpson to John Cougar

The Moldy Peaches have broken thanks to Juno. As Kimya Dawson is getting most of the attention, I have an excuse to post my favourite Adam Green track, a savage but superb song about Jessica Simpson. The lyrics about waitressing, Cortisone and that line "where has your love gone? It's not in your music, oh no" make me wince every time.

There was a good single on the first Jessica Simpson album, I Think I'm In Love With You. It was released in the year 2000 but it's totally 1990s.

How can you fail with a sample from Jack & Diane by John Cougar (before he was Mellencamp)?

Adam Green - Jessica (iTunes)
Jessica Simpson - I Think I'm In Love With You (iTunes)
John Cougar - Jack & Diane (iTunes)

The Whitest Boy Alive - Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)

This was Pete Tong's Essential New Tune on Friday and was recommended to me by my friend Daz who was also first to tell me about Call On Me by Eric Prydz, Amarillo by Tony Christie, Cha Cha Slide by DJ Caspar and many other huge records. Thanks Daz.

It's a great remix of The Whitest Boy Alive, which is Erlend Øye from the Kings of Convenience.

I saw Kings of Convenience play at Benicassim a couple of years ago - tent packed with continental Europeans, total silence during the songs, then huge applause at the end of each one. But I'm whiter than he is.

The Whitest Boy Alive - Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix) (only the original version is on iTunes so far)

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Phil Campbell

Phil Campbell has just been added to the Radio 2 playlist, more than a decade after he should have been.

Hope, Faith & You is his classic Tom Waits pastiche

Friday, 7 March 2008

rap with sampled, sped up chorus... paradise

Let It Be by Dyme Def is available on iTunes so it must be cleared, right? Thanks to Fun Bongo for telling me about this track.

Stay With Me by Ironik has not one but two sped up choruses. It's big on the Fizz TV channel.

All this sped up vocal business reminds me of Mark Oh's classic interpretation of Lionel Richie's Stuck On You. That vocal drop out crowd noise trick is so good!

Dyme Def - Let It Be (iTunes)
DJ Ironik - Stay With Me (iTunes link that will probably be removed soon)
Mark Oh - Stuck On You (there's only a terrible soundalike on iTunes)

White Lies

The UK music industry buzz band of the year so far and it's not undeserved.

Chris Barber

Joe writes: My dad tells me that Chris Barber is 80 this year [correction - he's not - see comment below] and just appeared on Later with Jools Holland.

The Chris Barber variety of trad or mainstream jazz is the kind of jazz that's closest to my heart. Generally, the band start by playing the melody, led by the trumpet. Then each player takes a solo in turn. Then they all come back in and play the melody again. The end. Magic.

There's a scene in a film that perfectly captures how exciting this music can be (or seemed to do so twelve years ago when I saw it). It's the 1959 film of John Osborne's iconic play Look Back In Anger. Richard Burton plays Jimmy, the archetypal angry young man. At the start of the film he walks down into a basement where a jazz band are playing (Chris Barber's). He picks up the trumpet and plays with them. It's dangerous, exciting, poetic - rock 'n' roll, you might say.

Climax Rag is the opening track from a legendary concert album, Barber In Berlin. Joe Meek was one of the recording engineers.

Duke Ellington's Creole Love Call is one of my favourite downtempo jazz standards. This version was recorded at the London Palladium. The best moment is at 6.49 when the band comes in with the melody again after a wonderful muted trumpet solo.

Both tracks available on an excellent double CD.

Neither are on iTunes but plenty of other Chris Barber tracks are.

Chris Barber's Jazz Band - Climax Rag (Live at Deutschland Halle, Berlin, 23rd May 1959)

Chris Barber's Jazz Band - Creole Love Call (Live at the London Palladium, 31st March 1961)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

To Make You Feel My Love

Joe writes: To Make You Feel My Love is the best song Bob Dylan has written since the seventies, and one of the best songs he has written. It's a modern standard. The first version I know of was by Billy Joel (before Dylan's own version was released). I also have versions by Garth Brooks, Kelly Clarkson, Caedmon's Call and Josh Kelley. iTunes has versions by Joan Osborne, Louise Setara, Bryan Ferry, Maria Muldaur, Hilary Scott, Lynn Witty and Rob Mathes, Luka Bloom, Jermy Irons and many others. I guess it's one of the most covered modern songs of recent years (alongside You Raise Me Up which I can never understand - why don't people go straight to the source and cover Danny Boy instead?). And now it has turned up on the Adele album. Adele has a great voice but could learn a lot from listening to the Garth Brooks or Billy Joel or Trisha Yearwood versions. Keep it simple Adele! I think the best version is Trisha's.

I've always thought this song probably inspired the Lindisfarne song Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong which was beautifully covered by Erin Rocha.

Trisha Yearwood - To Make You Feel My Love (not on iTunes sadly so here's an Amazon link to the Hope Floats soundtrack which has it, and I thought had the Garth version too originally but not here it seems)

Erin Rocha - Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong (not on iTunes so here's an Amazon link to the album)

Monday, 25 February 2008

one new artist and one newish artist

I Blame Coco - daughter of a star and future star herself. Excellent voice.

Daniel Merriweather - I can't get Chainsaw out of my head. He has also covered a recent track, as his mentor Mark Ronson did with Valerie, and Daniel's is an equally good choice of cover.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Loneliness: what is the point of it?

The new Feeling album is out today in the UK.

Loneliness is the track I wrote about ages ago having heard the demo.

I really rate The Feeling. Their breakthrough was exciting because they were the first band in many a year to be embraced by the UK media despite being neither "alternative" nor passing themselves off as such. Mainstream and proud. I didn't reckon on the inferior bands that have broken through in their wake but I think The Feeling will outlast those bands. This track in particular has a little hint of genuine emotion and depth that the likes of 10cc and ELO definitely had but The Feeling's contemporaries generally lack.

The Feeling - Loneliness (iTunes)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

I was just reading an interview with my favourites Vampire Weekend in The Guardian and they list Brenda Fassie as an influence

Joe writes: Brenda Fassie was one of the biggest artists in South Africa, selling millions of each album.

There was a plan to break her in Britain with remixes of Vuli Ndlela but nothing ever came of it. What a brilliant track though. Incredible vocal. It definitely could have been a hit in the Northern Hemisphere. It's from her Memeza album which has this extraordinary artwork:

I once visited the Cape Town township where Brenda grew up. Here's a photo:

Brenda Fassie - Vuli Ndlela (iTunes)

Saturday, 9 February 2008

songs about getting old

Joe writes: A Moment Of Forever was written by Kris Kristofferson and Danny Timms. It was the title track of Kris's 1995 album which is where I heard it first. Now it's the title track of Willie Nelson's new album. You can hear Willie's version on YouTube. And you can hear a version by Danny on his own website. But for me the best version is Kris's. It's a good one to put on a CD for your partner at Valentine's Day if you are planning to spend the rest of your lives together and have a high tolerance for sappiness.

A Moment Of Forever reminds me a little of Back When We Were Beautiful by Matraca Berg, a lovely song about growing old.

I spent far too long reading an Eva Cassidy website this week and was moved almost to tears once again. Partly because of the story (what a story), but more because of the music - Eva was one of the all-time great singers. Fields Of Gold is a really good song about love changing as couples age. I won't post that because everyone should own the Songbird compilation on which it appears. Instead, I've posted Anniversary Song, the best of the lesser known songs that Eva recorded (it was written by Steve Digman).

Finally, Much More Than This, by Chris de Burgh, an artist who is much under-appreciated in the UK. I have mixed feelings about the sentiment expressed in the lyric (definitely don't put this on a CD for your partner), but nonetheless I think it's one of his best songs, right up there with the likes of Borderline and Lady In Red.