Thursday, 29 September 2011

"A real human being, and a real hero" - the song from Drive

Joe writes: I know it has only just been released but I'm pretty sure Drive is a classic film. Like lots of classic films, the music is really important - it conjures up a bygone era (the early '80s), yet it doesn't sound quite like anything you've heard before.

The key track is A Real Hero by College featuring Electric Youth. People who haven't seen the film seem to be underwhelmed by this track, which is another reason to go and see the film if you haven't already.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Can't Help Thinking About Me by David Bowie

Phil writes: Bowie is another star who started out as he clearly meant to go on. Unmistakeable.

(Previously posted mp3 version)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Star From The Start

Phil writes: Gladys Knight first recorded 'With Every Beat of my Heart' at the age of 17. She produced great music even then.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Into Dust by Mazzy Star/Gears Of War 3 advert

Joe writes: Into Dust by Mazzy Star has been used on another TV advert, this time for the Microsoft game Gears of War 3. At the time of writing it is no. 39 on iTunes so could be their biggest hit in the UK. But their best song is Fade Into You which I wrote about here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Villagers - Cecelia & Her Selfhood

Joe writes: Excellent new recording by Villagers who can do no wrong for me at the moment. Get the mp3 for free from

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cannonball by Damien Rice as performed by John Adams on X Factor

Joe writes: Cannonball is in the top 3 on iTunes after a Welsh teacher named John Adams performed it on X Factor last night. It's a reminder that even when an album sells a million plus - as Damien Rice's O did, driven by this single - it might only have reached a fraction of its potential audience. Simon Cowell deserves a lot of credit for (amongst other things) bringing songs like Cannonball and Hallelujah to the attention of people who otherwise wouldn't have heard them. I'm pleased - Cannonball is one of the great songs of the past decade. Also, I had no idea this was the official video for Cannonball - interesting.

The other classic from that first Damien Rice album is The Blower's Daughter. Incidentally, I wonder how Damien Rice feels about his music being prefaced by McDonald's ads on YouTube?

The second Damien Rice album 9 didn't sell as well as O but it's brilliant. Here's The Animals Were Gone:

County Line by Cass McCombs, and Gram Parsons revivalism

Joe writes: This is lovely.

Country Line reminds me of the mini Gram Parsons revivalist that was around in the nineties. Here are The Rockingbirds with Restless:

Here are my two favourite Gram Parsons tracks, A Song For You and The Return Of The Grievous Angel, both featuring Emmylou Harris. I once put one or both of these tracks on a CD for a girl at my sixth form college, along with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell etc. She couldn't handle the country twang.

three very different songs I discovered on covermounts

Joe writes: Back when CDs seemed expensive, I used to buy pretty much any magazine with a free CD mounted on the cover. Most of the stuff on most of the CDs was rubbish. Even if I liked the artist in question, the track featured would generally be an outtake or inferior album track. But I did discover the occasional great track on a covermount.

Emerald Sword by Rhapsody was on a CD that came with the charmingly amateur-looking Hard Roxx magazine. I wrote about this recently, and I recently bought a Rhapsody pin badge in an independent record shop in Arezzo in their native Italy.

One of the first covermounts I acquired after my family got a CD player was also one of the best. It was a Sony Music compilation Now That's What I Call Free which came with Q Magazine at a time when Sony must have been having identity problems. Highlights were Appetite by Prefab Sprout, Restless by The Rockingbirds, and two lovely, understated songs by artists who were little heard of subsequently, Sometimes I'm Wild by Jerry Burns and I Will Be Waiting by Martyn Joseph, who is still around and touring.

(update of post originally from 20/08/08)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor

Phil writes: What an inspired choice to have James Taylor singing this song at the 9/11 Ground Zero ceremony. I hear James Taylor a lot as he's one of my wife Sue's favourite artist. For a while, I wasn't convinced, but the more you listen, the more his songs get to you. And he has one of the most distinctive and subtly emotional voices in pop. You'll find several versions on YouTube, including duets with Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Maybe my favourite Van Morrison Track

Phil writes: 'Irish Heartbeat', the album Van Morrison did with the Chieftians, is superb, with effortlessly great music on practically every track. 'Carrickfergus' is probably the best:

Ben Folds Five - Brick

Joe writes: I thought I would post Brick because it's brilliant and there's a Ben Folds Five compilation coming out, then I realised how apposite the lyric is given renewed debate about abortion in the UK.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

PJ Harvey

Joe writes: When I first started listening to Radio 1, Mark Goodier presented the Evening Session and of course John Peel was a fixture. Songs that stick in my head from what was a period of discovery for me include Here and Trigger Cut by Pavement, Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry, and Sheela Na Gig by PJ Harvey:

I've now learnt what Sheela Na Gig is thanks to the YouTube comments (knowledge was not so accessible in the era of Mark Goodier's Evening Session). What a way to announce yourself as an artist.

Just last week I saw this photo displayed in a venue, and it was so familiar despite the fact that I hadn't seen it for 15 years or so:

I think I may have torn some PJ Harvey photos out of Select magazine and Blu-Tacked them to my bedroom wall.

I was at the Mercury awards the first time PJ Harvey won, on September 11th 2001. Here's You Said Something from that album Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea:

I was pleased that PJ Harvey won the Mercury Music Prize again tonight. I hope this will encourage more artists to engage with politics in their music, as Polly has done on Let England Shake. And I'm going to spend more time with Let England Shake, which is the kind of reaction the Mercurys are supposed to inspire I guess.

I wish there were more artists like PJ Harvey. Well done to the Mercury judges for recognising her.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Downton Abbey trailer/Scala and Kolacny Brothers - With Or Without You

Joe writes: This U2 cover is the track that got me in to Scala and Kolacny Brothers. I believe Rob da Bank played it on Radio 1. Some time later their version of Creep was featured on the trailer to The Social Network. For me With Or Without You is even better than Creep so I was pleased to hear it featured on the trailer for the new series of Downton Abbey.