Sunday, 26 December 2010

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Yes, what a year for Rumer

Phil writes: And she's rounded it off with not only a new and then a classic Burt Bacharach song (as the b side):

but also this great collaboration with Jamie Cullum and the Swingle Singers (posted on the grounds that, wisely, not everyone sits through the Royal Variety Performance):

Friday, 17 December 2010

Joe writes: My track of the year is Slow by Rumer

originally written about here

The first time I heard the intro to Slow, it stopped me in my tracks, just as it did for millions of radio listeners a few months later. It is a manifesto as well as a very affecting relationship song. I love the story of how she met her manager Kwame Kwaten and how she was given the time and space to develop by producer Steve Brown. I love the moral of Rumer’s breakthrough: if you persevere, you can overcome any number of hurdles - as long as your music is outstanding.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A Song For You

Joe writes: Two of my favourite tracks are called A Song For You and it turns out there's a link between the two.

First, Gram Parsons again. For me, his four classic compositions are Hot Burrito #1 (AKA I'm Your Toy - see below), Hickory Wind, Return Of The Grievous Angel and A Song For You. Then there's Wild Horses which is credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards but Gram is rumoured to have co-written. There was more than one controversy over credits in Gram's short career as this article about Hickory Wind suggests.

The essential Gram Parsons purchases are the Flying Burrito Brothers album Gilded Palace Of Sin, the two Gram Parsons solo albums (on which Emmylou Harris deserved a credit), and the Byrds album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.

Robert Sandall's interview with Emmylou Harris says "The last time they spoke, Parsons phoned (Emmylou) to tell her that her favourite track from their recent sessions had been left off the Grievous Angel album but would definitely feature on the next". What was that song, I wonder? Presumably it's one of the Emmylou duets on the posthumous Sleepless Nights album.

The other A Song For You was immortalised by Donny Hathaway, an artist who, like Gram Parsons, died too young. But it was written by Leon Russell who has also recorded Wild Horses, so there's your link with Gram. Leon also wrote Superstar, one of my two favourite Carpenters tracks (the other being Goodbye To Love) - what a songwriter.

There's a remarkable film about The Carpenters, made by Todd Haynes of Dylan biopic fame while he was still at film school. It's banned following legal action by Richard Carpenter, but thanks to YouTube it's easy to find it.

Donny Hathaway has legendary status in some quarters but is barely known in others. That's starting to change thanks to lyrical name checks from Wyclef Jean and most notably Amy Winehouse. I was recently discussing him with James McMorrow, a new artist from Dublin whose voice is pure magic. Donny's A Song For You is one of James's favourite tracks of all time too, and I'm sure he loves Gram Parsons as well. James told me that it was the greater success of Stevie Wonder that drove Donny to suicide. I don't know whether this is true, but if so, at least he didn't live to hear Ebony & Ivory.

Gram Parsons - A Song For You (iTunes)

Donny Hathaway - A Song For You (iTunes)

(update of post originally from 06/06/08)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

`Band Of Horses versus Point Break

Joe writes: Many an mp3 blog has already featured the beautiful track that is Funeral by Band Of Horses, but this is surely the first mp3 blog to point out the similarity with Freakytime by Point Break.

Point Break's subsequent single What About Us was glorious too. If Freakytime had been their first single and What About Us their second, I think they would both have been number ones. Unfortunately they released two other rubbish singles first so it was an uphill struggle by the time Freakytime came out. Mind you, Angels by Robbie Williams overcame similar circumstances.

(update of post from 18/10/07)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Coldplay - Christmas Lights

Joe writes: I don't know yet whether this is great or merely good but I do know that Coldplay are still in a class of their own

Long Long Time by Linda Ronstadt

Joe writes: Amazing record that was the musical highlight of tonight's hanukkah party. The song was written by Gary B White.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Can we get much higher?

Joe writes: Haven't fully digested the Kanye album yet but the opening hook "Can we get much higher?" is brilliant. Is it sample? Does anyone know what from?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

If You Can't Give Me Love by Suzi Quatro

Phil writes: This is one of many excellent songs that passed me by during a decade when I had priorities and preoccupations - work and kids mostly - that made it difficult to keep up. Great song, great voice, great sound. I finally heard it on the excellent Vintage TV channel.

I particularly like that catch in her voice every so often - somehow reminds me of the amazing Martha Wainwright, as does the climax of the song.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Devil Has All The Best Tunes

Joe writes: The first record I remember buying (as opposed to having bought for me) was Prefab Sprout's Nightingales/The Early Years EP on 7". It took me a while to get into it but they were possibly my favourite band for a long time.

The A side featured a harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder.

The B sides were two early singles, released in 1982, prior to their first album Swoon (which is my favourite Prefab Sprout album).

I was going to post The Devil Has All The Best Tunes and I even went to the trouble of ripping it from vinyl. But, although it's quite charming, I would mostly have been posting it because of the title and it doesn't qualify amongst the world's greatest music.

Maybe Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) doesn't either but it did signal the arrival of an incredibly ambitious group who sometimes fulfilled that ambition.

buy from iTunes

(update of post from 19/09/07)

The devil doesn't have all the best tunes

Joe writes: Christian records are generally very melodic, uplifting, well produced, and occasionally funny.

And no, I'm not counting U2 et al. To qualify for my Christian list you have to be really brazen about your religious beliefs.

Here are six of my favourites:

Michael W Smith - Love Me Good (iTunes)

Reeve Carney - Think Of You (not on iTunes UK but there is a version on iTunes US)

DC Talk - Jesus Freak (iTunes)

Newsboys - Take Me To Your Leader (iTunes)

Margaret Becker - Clay And Water (iTunes)

Matthew West - Next Thing You Know (not on iTunes UK but it is on iTunes US)

(updated version of post from 19/09/07)

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

Joe writes: Excellent Canadian rapper Shad samples the Lynn Anderson hit on his single but my favourite cover of the song is still this one by The Suicide Machines.

The song was written by Joe South who also wrote Hush as recorded by Deep Purple and Kula Shaker.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Prophet by CJ Bolland

Joe writes: A dated but nonetheless good and evocative dance record that I heard somewhere recently.

buy The Prophet from iTunes

(originally posted 18/09/07)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

World's Greatest Music writes: Puressence

I'm pretty sure it was Puressence who graffittied their name all over Manchester city centre before they were signed. This didn't endear me to them and nor did their first album, although I would probably hear something good in it if I listened again now.

I thought their second album Only Forever was great and should have made them one of the line of massive British bands that ran Radiohead, The Verve, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereophonics, Coldplay etc.
James Mudrickzi has a really excellent voice.

Here are three tracks from Only Forever:

(buy It Doesn't Matter Anymore from iTunes)

(buy Street Lights from iTunes)

and here's a TV performance of This Feeling:

(buy the original from iTunes)


Joe writes: I really liked this song when Cheryl Cole did it but I've only just found out, thanks to the 902012 blog, that it was written by Ingrid Michaelson whose version is here:

Thursday, 4 November 2010

more on The Roches and The Wainwrights

Joe writes: It turns out that there's a link between the Roches and the Wainwrights - Lucy Wainwright Roche is the daughter of Suzzy Roche and Loudon Wainwright III. This is a good excuse to post my favourite recordings by Wainwright/McGarrigle family.

Rufus Wainwright - Go Or Go Ahead - iTunes or Amazon

Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole (iTunes). If there's one thing even better than a really sad song, it's a really vitriolic song. Awesome vocal too. Written about her father Loudon so something of an answer record to I'd Rather Be Lonely.

Loudon Wainwright III - Primrose Hill (iTunes). If you end up destitute in London, I recommend living on the side of Primrose Hill, at least in summer. It's nice.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Matapedia (Amazon)

(update of post original from 28/06/2007)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Phil writes: I plan to do the same. In the meantime......

How about this great Sinéad O'Connor track? I came to it by way of an excellent Joss Stone cover. Its starkness and power (particularly in the original) place it in a long line of political songs inspired by real events which goes back at least as far as Woody Guthrie and probably a lot further.

Not of course the only great song to mention Margaret Thatcher (jump to the performance at 4.01 if you wish but the discussion is unusually informative).:

John Prine - Fish & Whistle

Joe writes: I've always thought I should get into John Prine but never quite got round to it

Love this song though - Fish & Whistle (Amazon)

and here's a YouTube version although the studio take is much better:

(update of post originally from 12/07/07)

Let's Dance

Joe writes: Always was a great David Bowie song. The line "and if you say run, I'll run with you" is so brilliant and unexpected, musically.

There are two cover versions around at the moment but I prefer this one by M Ward from a few years ago (it doesn't seem to be on iTunes, probably because the artist is precious about it).

Here's Hi-Fi, a really good M Ward original (iTunes).

And here's a little-known Bowie track, It's Gonna Be Me (Amazon).

I read somewhere that John Lennon came on board late for Bowie's cover of Across The Universe, so they had to lose something from the Young Americans album to make way for it, and this was the track they lost. You have to be a really great and prolific songwriter and artist to leave out tracks this good. See also Sad Eyes by Bruce Springsteen (iTunes).

(update of post originally from 15/08/07)


Joe writes: I love the idea of M.I.A. - the way she looks, the packaging, the lyrics, her and the fact that she is so cool - but I often find the tunes a bit disappointing.

But there's at least one track on the new album that is good fun and has crossover appeal - Paper Planes (iTunes)

(old post updated from 08/08/07)

Hammond Song by The Roches

Joe writes: Thanks to the group Beacons for introducing me to Hammond Song. It should be called If You Go Down To Heaven. It's really beautiful. The Roches are three sisters produced by Robert Fripp. Listening to it, I was convinced the group would be dead or reclusive but it seems they are back together and touring.

The Roches - Hammond Song (Amazon)

originally posted 26/06/07

This blog was nominated for an award

Joe writes: This is flattering but also embarrassing - not least because we (me and my dad) update this blog so rarely.

So I will take some old posts from the blog, featuring some of the world's greatest music, and repost them with YouTube links.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Awilo Longomba - Carolina II

Joe writes: The artist is from the Congo but the track makes perfect sense in rainy London.

Would it be patronising to say it has joie de vivre?


Phil writes: I should have posted Love Letters by Ketty Lester with the Lennon track below:

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

new Rumer video for Aretha

Joe writes: Similar to the Slow video, but much better

both songs are wonderful

Lennon's 70th

Phil writes: An appropriate time to post this amazing song. There was a decent enough piece about it by Laura Barton in the Guardian recently but she is too young to have been around when his great solo album appeared and to have experienced the shock of this track. There may be echoes of the 'Love Letters' riff but this is a unique and flawless number (and the other tracks are pretty stunning too):

Friday, 17 September 2010

The King Of Spain

Joe writes: Pete Lawrie just told me about The Tallest Man On Earth. I know I'm late on this but I love it. Beautifully simple. A big talent.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hugh Harris

Joe writes: Big thanks to Emma Kamen who this evening introduced me to Mick Jones (from The Clash, not the one from Foreigner) and then introduced me to this brilliant forgotten track Rhythm Of Life by Hugh Harris. What a day!

Monday, 13 September 2010


Joe writes: I did listen to the Villagers album but it's possible I didn't get as far track 10, That Day. Fearne Cotton just played it and it sounded great.

It reminds me of this:

Monday, 6 September 2010

First Be A Woman by Leonore O'Malley

Joe writes: Thanks to Jocks for introducing me to this fabulous (no other adjective will do) track by Leonore O'Malley.

It's worth getting the Horsemeat Disco 2 compilation just to get a good quality mp3 of this.

Nein Mann by Laserkraft 3D

Joe writes: Interesting video and beat

Monday, 23 August 2010

Fuck You

Joe writes: Imagine how huge this would have been if it had been the follow up to Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

I love the Die Antwoord single

Joe writes: Well done to Radio 1 for adding this

and also Alors on Danse by Stromae in its brilliant original French language version

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Taio Cruz - Dynamite

Joe writes: Not only is this the best Taio Cruz single yet but it sounds like a standard to me. It reminds me of Ring Of Fire.

It was written by Cruz, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, and Dr. Luke, and produced by Dr Luke and Benny Blanco.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Paul Simon

Joe writes: Whether you judge it influence or on quantity of great songs written, Paul Simon is one of the ten greatest artists of the rock 'n' roll era.

He also made a painfully accurate film about being a (fading) rock star, called One Trick Pony. It wasn't available for years but you can now buy the DVD on (you'll need a US or multi-region DVD player though). Here's a scene from it:

The soundtrack to One Trick Pony was possibly Paul Simon's least successful album but it's his second best, after Graceland - every song is a killer.

Rumer does a brilliant cover of Long Long Day from One Trick Pony:

While looking at Paul Simon videos on YouTube, I came across this joyous performance of Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. Brilliant dancing and even better music:

a reminder about Rumer

Joe writes: I wrote about Rumer on this blog back in March:

just saying!

I loved reading about Rumer on the A&M Records forum

A second consecutive Laura Marling single that I love

Joe writes: wonderfully retro yet modern and, despite the title, not at all depressing

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Joe writes: I've just been doing what everyone else did five years ago

and spent a bit too long watching old clips on YouTube

Aretha Franklin doing I Say A Little Prayer on The Cliff Richard Show:

Nick Cave doing The Ship Song on Songwriters Circle:

Billy Bragg doing Levi Stubbs' Tears:

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I really like Yeah Whatever by Indian band The Supersonics

(posted by Joe, updated December 17th 2011)

Mumford & Sons somehow passed me by

Phil writes: This was a recommendation from Amazon. Can't believe I hadn't heard of them before. Sensational! It's called The Banjolin Song. And this is probably not their best as it's just the first that came up on YouTube.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

first Charlie Gillett died, then Alex Chilton

Joe writes: sad day

Big Star - Holocaust (buy from Amazon)

Big Star - Thirteen (buy from Amazon)

and two artists Charlie championed:

Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet (buy from Amazon)

Gurrumul - Bapa (buy from Amazon)

The last time I saw Charlie was at a Gurrumul showcase, having previously run into him at a Manu Chao gig in Paris and Joss Stone's debut performance. He was a man of taste and passion and he was very nice with it.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I love Rumer

Joe writes: Once in a while, an artist comes along with echoes of acts from the classic rock era like Joni Mitchell or Fleetwood Mac or Roberta Flack or The Carpenters. The problem comes when you listen to their music back to back with an album like Blue or Rumours; they invariably fall far short.

Not so with Rumer. She is an achingly great lyricist; an intuitive, unaffected soul singer; a wonderful songwriter.

Her music is so good it makes me wince. She is up there with the best of them.

And to cap it all, she has the great taste to cover Long Long Day from Paul Simon's One Tricky Pony.

(updated post)

no. 1 all round Europe - Alors On Dance by Stromae

(posted by Joe)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ignition (Remix) was the best single of the last decade

Joe writes: Steve Greenberg did a list of the 100 best singles of last decade. Steve has great taste and signed one of the singles of the '90s, MMMBop by Hanson. I agree with most of his '00s list - Ignition (Remix) by R Kelly was the single of the decade, narrowly pipping Crazy by Gnarls Barkley.

I also discovered a couple of great tracks through Steve's list:

Baby Mama by Fantasia:

buy from Amazon

Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis:

buy from Amazon

Some singles of the decade that weren't in Steve's list:
* Dry Your Eyes by The Streets
* In My Place by Coldplay
* Chasing Cars and Run by Snow Patrol
* Where Is The Love? by Black Eyed Peas
* Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis
* Push The Button by Sugababes
* Dance Wiv Me and Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal
* Sex On Fire by Kings Of Leon
* It Wasn't Me by Shaggy feat. RikRok

this song makes me cry

Joe writes: Stephen is about murdered PC Stephen Carroll, written from the perspective of his widow.

David Ford is an underrated talent. Buy his albums here.

David Ford - Stephen (buy from iTunes)

Monday, 8 February 2010

Willow by Joan Armatrading

Phil writes: I've not really listened to Joan Armatrading's recent work. I guessed we'd know about it if it came anywhere near her early stuff and I wasn't encouraged by hearing a recent interview where she said that her last album was a blues one and now she'd wanted to do a rock/pop one - surely the point about her best work (and this, I think, is her best) is that it is utterly unclassifiable:

Buy the mp3 from Amazon

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Two great tracks with a similar theme

Phil writes: I was introduced to both by my son, some years ago now. Both made an immediate impact and are amongst my all-time favourites. 'The Dance' has featured on the blog before but you there will be people out there who will be hearing it for the first time:

It seems strangely unavailable on Amazon or iTunes.

This is not the best version of 'Moment of Forever' and Kris's voice, never his greatest asset, is not in great shape these days but it's still wonderful:

Here's the studio version:

buy the mp3 from iTunes

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

brilliant single from Gabriella Cilmi

co-written and produced by The Invisible Men who include two former members of the group Orson.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Joe writes: There's a campaign to get The Housemartins to reform

on Twitter, which gives me a chance to post my favourite Housemartins track, Happy Hour.

Only joking - my favourite Housemartins track is of course a miserable but beautiful one - Johannesburg.

buy the mp3 from Amazon

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Phil writes: I've been a Streisand fan ever since I bought 'The Barbra Streisand Album' soon after it came out. This is remarkable. The song is unusual but you can't point to anything particularly great about the music or lyrics. Could anyone else produce such a great performance?

Buy mp3 from Amazon