Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Joe writes: It can take a long time to break an artist. ie music, who manage Robbie Williams, have been managing Passenger for 11 years and finally things seem to be coming together for him. I tried to see him play at Great Escape earlier in the year, got the stage time wrong so arrived just after he had come off stage, and was amazed to see hundreds of people filing out. And now his excellent song Let Her Go has gone to no. 1 in both Belgium and The Netherlands.

His music has very pleasant echoes of Cat Stevens so here's The Wind:

Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas In Prison with John Prine

Joe writes: A recent discovery for me that is already one of my favourite Christmas songs, not least thanks to the couplet "I dream of her always/Even when I don't dream/Her name's on my tongue/And her blood's in my stream." The original version isn't on YouTube so I've experimented with embedding from Spotify:

There is a later, possibly better, studio take on YouTube.

Talking of Christmas songs, here's a wonderful article by Dorian Lynskey about Fairytale Of New York. I always wondered how that extraordinary song came about.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Infinity Ink - Infinity

Joe writes: Love this tune from Infinity Ink, one of whom is Ali Love

Friday, 23 November 2012

from Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me to Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt

Joe writes: Great soulful track on French Express. Does anyone know what the sample is?

(update in Jan 2012: I now know what the sample is - If This World Were Mine by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, and interestingly the a cappella is also on YouTube which may be a big factor in how it came to be sampled)

So Good To Me reminds me of All I Need by Ill Beat Hustlers which went nowhere but should have been huge:

Ill Beat Hustlers sampled Don't Know Much by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt:

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thanksgiving by Mary Gauthier

Joe writes: As a one-time regular prison visitor and Mary Gauthier fan, I was bound to like this. Be warned though - it will not get your Thanksgiving party started.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Forever Autumn - Justin Hayward

Phil writes: The Gary Barlow version has reminded me of a lovely song that I had almost forgotten.  Not sure what GB adds to it though:

Monday, 5 November 2012

"the sky isn't always blue, the sun doesn't always shine, it's alright to fall apart sometimes"

Joe writes: There's an identikit cover version of Robert Miles featuring Maria Nayler's One & One floating around which reminded me what a great song it is.

It was written by Billy Steinberg, Rick Nowels and Marie Claire D'Ubaldo. Billy Steinberg is "just" a lyricist - he doesn't write melody - but he's one of the most successful lyricists of the modern era having written Like A Virgin, True Colors, Eternal Flame, and Alone by Heart, all with Tom Kelly. I heard a story, probably apocryphal, that some time after Like A Virgin had been the pivotal smash for Madonna, Billy and Tom went to a party because they'd heard Madonna was going to be there and they'd never met her. They went up to her and said "Hi, we're Billy and Tom, we wrote Like A Virgin and we've always wanted to meet you". Madonna said "Well now you have". End of conversation.

There's more about Like A Virgin here, including the one lyric they didn't use in the end: "Ask my friends and they'll tell you it's true/Nobody's had what I'm giving to you", which I think is a shame.

Rick Nowels' CV is almost as impressive as Billy's, and more current - he co-wrote one of the biggest European hits of recent times, I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li, as well as Heaven Is A Place On Earth, You Get What You Give, and a number of Dido songs including White Flag.

Marie Claire D'Ubaldo is an Argentine musician whose song Falling Into You (also written with Billy and Rick) was a hit for Celine Dion.

Robert Miles was released on Arista in North America and I have a feeling Clive Davis was involved in finding this song for Robert. Children was of course Robert Miles' breakthrough smash in both the UK and the US. Then came Fable, which sounded a lot like Children. Then came One & One, which was a big hit in the UK but doesn't seem to have charted in the US.

If you'd like to hear it dubbed from the 7" vinyl head to So Many Records, So Little Time.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Barbra Streisand - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Phil writes: Just caught this on the 'Judy Garland Show' (Sky Arts). A great song, sensationally sung by the 21 year-old Streisand:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Taro - the track that converted me from grudging respect for Alt-J to genuine excitement

Joe writes: I heard an amazing track on Yadi's mixtape, which I guessed from the tracklisting was Mahd Assalhin by Cheb I Sabbah Ft. Hadderetes, but when I bought that track on iTunes, it sounded very different. Then I listened more and thought "the singer sounds like the guy out of Alt-J", checked the tracklisting again, and realised it was Alt-J. What an amazing track - lyrically intelligent (read the YouTube comments to find out what it's about), and musically so far from a parochial British indie band. Unfortunately it can't be embedded on YouTube so click here.

Monday, 22 October 2012

M83 - My Tears Are Becoming A Sea as featured in the trailer to Rust and Bone

Joe writes: Had to Shazam this when the trailer to Rust and Bone came on in the cinema. Didn't think I was an M83 fan until the Shazam result came up. Radio 1's head of music George Ergatoudis has written about this on Twitter.

The trailer:

The full song:

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Eliza Doolittle and Solange Knowles

Joe writes: Eliza and Solange have both just released really good pop tracks with cool producers that feel like great steps forward for both artists.

Eliza's Don't Call It Love is produced by Kwes:

Solange's Losing You is produced by Blood Orange/Dev Hynes:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

Hal David (and John Barry, and Louis)

Phil writes: Meant to post this in tribute to Hal David when he died, a great example of his writing. It's a beautiful song memorably and poignantly recorded by Armstrong (in one take). It was his last recording and he was unable to play trumpet due to his health. It didn't matter, even though he was possibly the greatest trumpet player of all time.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Friday, 14 September 2012

Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli - Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò) as heard on the last ever Chris Moyles Radio 1 Breakfast Show

Joe writes: Chris Moyles played parts of this several times during his emotional last ever Radio 1 breakfast show. It's my favourite ever classical crossover song and recording, written by Francesco Sartori (music) and Lucio Quarantotto (lyrics). It's so good it's hard to believe it was written during the modern era. It reached no. 2 in the UK charts in 1997.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Rose - Bette Midler

Phil writes: There was one of those mini SuBo moments on X-Factor. It reminded me what a great song 'The Rose' is.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden

Joe writes: Joe South who wrote the amazing song Rose Garden has died.

Here's Lynn Anderson's hit version:

and here's a fun cover by The Suicide Machines:

The original version was by Joe South himself, and the song has been recorded by many other artists including The Three Degrees which gives me an excuse to post one of my all-time favourite hits, When Will I See You Again:

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk

Phil writes: Heard this song on the radio today. Haven't heard it for years but it sounds as great and mesmeric as ever.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Pretty Good Day by Loudon Wainwright III

Joe writes: Last night a musician sent me this link to Loudon Wainwright III's song Pretty Good Day and now I can't stop listening to it (it can't be embedded from YouTube so you have to click the link).

I think everyone in the Western world should listen to it every day as a sort of musical, secular alternative to saying grace. If that doesn't sell it to you, let me also say that I find it very moving.

Friday, 24 August 2012

the London 2012 Paralympics theme song: Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy (just like that)

Joe writes: Excellent choice of theme for the Channel 4 Paralympics coverage, giving Public Enemy their first hit in a while (it's no. 11 on iTunes UK at the time of writing).

If this is the first Public Enemy track you've heard then I recommend you go for Rebel Without A Pause next, but that might prove difficult as the original version isn't on iTunes or YouTube (it is on Spotify though). Fortunately my favourite bootleg of all-time is on YouTube, Rebel Without A Pause (The Whipped Cream Mix) by Evolution Control Committee, which is the Public Enemy a cappella over the top of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing Bittersweet Samba. I first heard this when John Peel played it on Radio 1 in 1994, long before such bootlegs became ubiquitous. It was quite a revelation.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Diplo feat. Lazerdisk Party Sex - Set It Off

Joe writes: I really don't want to like Diplo because of that Blackberry advert but the trouble is, he keeps making excellent music.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

love this new Muse track Madness

Joe writes: They are combining seventies soft rock with dubstep, and it works. Amazing.

But just for some perspective, here's I Want To Break Free by Queen:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Closing Time by Feist, Leonard Cohen cover as featured on the soundtrack to Take This Waltz

Joe writes: Last night I saw an excellent Canadian film Take This Waltz starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan. Not only is the film named after a Leonard Cohen track, but there's a party scene featuring Feist covering Leonard Cohen's Closing Time. This sounds like a hit to me yet doesn't seem to be available anywhere except YouTube:

one of the best ELO songs Telephone Line features in probably the best Orange "Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie" cinema ads

Joe writes: Plan B AKA Ben Drew and Ray Winstone spoof The Sweeney for Orange in a film that can be seen here.

The YouTube comments sum up the variety of opinions about ELO from "This what the Beatles wouldve sounded like in the 70s" (sic) to "many of Vivaldi and Bach's concertos expressed the same beauty, tinged with sorrow" to "Jeff Lynn was a twat. He hyjacked and commercialised the talent of Roy Wood, and tried to pass it off as his own" (sic). My view: Telephone Line and Mr Blue Sky are classic singles.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ellen & The Escapades - The World's Greatest - R Kelly cover as featured in the BBC's London 2012 Olympics coverage

Joe writes: I've recently become a fan of the transatlantic band Ellen & The Escapades after drinking a pint of  their branded bitter in my local pub (this is almost true). I really like Ellen's voice and they write proper songs. They also cover proper songs, such as R Kelly's The World's Greatest - their version featured in the BBC's Olympics coverage and no wonder, it's lovely.

Here's one of my favourites from their current album, called Without You:

And what about R Kelly? Bump 'n' Grind in 1994 to Ignition (Remix) in 2003 was one of the best runs of singles that anyone will ever release. So many songs and performances that were just streets ahead of any of his contemporaries. Here's his last great single Happy People, released in 2004. It didn't set the world on fire - perhaps people weren't ready for Robert to do his What's Goin' On thing, which is a shame as he did it so well.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Klangkarussell - Sonnentanz

Joe writes: Sonnentanz by Klangkarussell sounds like something new to me (although it's actually a year old).

The best thing out of Austria since Rock Me Amadeus?

this is what Annie Lennox should have performed on the Olympics closing ceremony - No More I Love You's

Joe writes: Produced by Stephen Lipson

Annie didn't write the song though, Joseph Hughes and David Freeman of The Lover Speaks did, including the brilliant "do do do do do do do ah-ah" hook:

I Drink Drink Drink

Joe writes: I just found out Mary Gauthier is playing some UK dates in October. I don't know that much about Mary but I Drink tells me everything I need to know. I heard it first on Bob Harris's Radio 2 show - it's perfect late night music.

Naturally I Drink reminded me of Mario Lanza's second greatest hit Drink Drink Drink which is crying out to be revived.

Also coming to the UK later this year is Matraca Berg whose beautiful Back When We Were Beautiful I wrote about here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Trisha Yearwood - On a bus to St Cloud & I would've loved you anyway

Phil writes: Heard this on the radio. A deceptively simple song with a killer line:

And another great Trisha Yearwood song:

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

David Holmes - I Heard Wonders as heard during Olympics opening ceremony

Joe writes: This was a surprising, lesser-known highlight of Danny Boyle's London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Isles of Wonder indeed

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Nina Simone - My father

Phil writes: Some time ago I saw a clip of Judy Collins singing this song of hers and wondered about posting it then. I knew it was a good song but wasn't quite sure how good. I just caught this Nina Simone version on a film of her last recorded live performance. I find it very moving and deeply felt, in a way that the original doesn't quite match.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

"Laura, you're more than a superstar"

Joe writes: I'm a convert to Bat For Lashes thanks to her new single Laura, and the artwork for her forthcoming album The Haunted Man. Both are brave and classic, recalling a bygone era in several different ways, all of them welcome.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Asaf Avidan & The Mojos - One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Remix)

Joe writes: Wankelmut is a DJ/producer from the Berlin-Mitte minimal scene. Asaf Avidan is an Israeli singer-songwriter. Wankelmut sampled Asaf's 2008 track Reckoning Song and the resulting track has come through the Berlin clubs to become a phenomenon in Germany. Despite coming from a very cool minimal club scene, it comes off sounding like the midpoint between Rednex and Moby. Fun.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

"It's too late when we die to admit we don't see eye to eye"

Joe writes: I've taken to posting songs on This Is My Jam regularly, even though I would never use the phrase "This is my jam". At present, my jam (ugh) is The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics, one of my all-time favourites and an apposite song for people of my generation with parents approaching old age. Make time for them; you never know when it might be too late. The lyric was written by BA Robertson.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The King Blues feat. Tim Armstrong - Booted Out Of Hell

Joe writes: This is my favourite track from the final King Blues album, and it features one of The King Blues' heroes, Tim Armstrong of Rancid. Big hooks and a great lyric.

My favourite Tim Armstrong track is probably Diamonds & Guns by The Transplants, and Tim owes a lot to The Clash so here's London Calling:

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Daddy I've fallen for a monster

Joe writes: Loving bad men has been the theme of some of the biggest and best songs of recent times including Stooshe's current UK hit Black Heart with its wonderful lyric "Daddy I've fallen for a monster".

See also the biggest hit of 2010, Love The Way You Lie by Eminem feat. Rihanna.

And one of the biggest albums of recent years, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse.

And if you haven't heard Lying Lips (Words I Should Have Said) by Tanya Stephens before, you must.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Four Seasons - Sherry

Phil writes: I see that Frankie Valli (at 78) is touring the UK. A good excuse to post this masterpiece:

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sugar Man by Sixto Rodriguez from the film Searching for Sugar Man

Joe writes: I know this sounds very Nathan Barley-esque but I first heard Sixto Rodriguez when the DJ at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch played Sugar Man and I Shazamed it. It's a magical record and it turns out it has a magical story behind it which is the theme of the new documentary Sugar Man. Read this for more.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Edwina Hayes, whose cover of Feels Like Home features on the soundtrack to the Cameron Diaz film My Sister's Keeper

Joe writes: I have been an Edwina Hayes fan ever since the demo of The Road appeared on a National Band Register CD in the late nineties. There's an all-too unusual purity to her voice and her songwriting. If she had more ambition and nous perhaps she would be huge, or then again, perhaps that would be incompatible with purity.

She made an album called Out On My Own for Warner which featured most of her best songs, but it was  overproduced (not enough focus on the purity).

Her cover of Randy Newman's Feels Like Home featured on the soundtrack to the Cameron Diaz film My Sister's Keeper and I guess the film was just shown on UK TV because Edwina appeared in the lower reaches of the chart.

Here's the original demo version of The Road, a little rough around the edges and very long but who cares when the voice and song are this good:

And here's Bonnie Raitt singing Feels Like Home (Edwina's version is here):

Daine Angel feat. Theo Altieri - Txt Me Back

Joe writes: This is so good. Theo Altieri is a singer songwriter in his early teens. Daine Angel is a rapper with hearthrob good looks whose father is the techno DJ and producer Dave Angel. Both Theo and Daine are from Swindon and on Txt Me Back they get together and perform alchemy. Emotion, hooks, songcraft, it's all there. Who does it sound like? Maybe G Love & Special Sauce. Whoever it is, it's a sound no-one else has done recently and it feels like the right time.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Julio Bashmore

Joe writes: Julio Bashmore is the producer behind one of my favourite tracks of the year so far, 110% by Jessie Ware. Superficially what he's doing isn't that different to the last two decades of house music, but he has somehow succeeded where so many others have failed - he makes accessible tracks that also sound modern. He has also started DJing on Radio 1 and he's pretty good at that too. Here's his solo track Troglodytes, in the fine tradition of dance tracks featuring spoken word samples.

Talking of which, here's Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb, featuring a sample of an interview with Rickie Lee Jones (and various other samples according to the Wikipedia page):

The theme from Prometheus: Chopin Prelude in D Flat Major

Joe writes: I went to see Ridley Scott's film Prometheus tonight which was better than I'd feared, and features my favourite piano piece as its theme, Chopin's Prelude in D Flat Major, also known as the Raindrops prelude.

The same prelude also inspired the theme to the '80s soap opera Howard's Way (sorry, couldn't resist):

Here's a scan of an autographed page from the Paderewski edition of the sheet music:


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wind and Walls by The Tallest Man On Earth

Joe writes: My favourite track from the new Tallest Man On Earth album. Also my favourite track of the moment. It's an orgy of melody.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

more Rumer originals: Richie Havens and Stephen Bishop

Joe writes: Here are my other two favourite discoveries of songs covered by Rumer on her Boys Don't Cry album.

It Could Be The First Day by Richie Havens is simple, concise and beautiful. Rumer has said she was introduced to the song by the producer Steve Brown.

The Same Old Tears On A New Background by Stephen Bishop can't be found on YouTube so here it is on a long-forgotten corner of the internet called MySpace: The Same Old Tears On A New Background

Art Garfunkel actually released the first version of Same Old Tears... on his album Breakaway, but Stephen wrote the song and released his own version on his album Careless.

Here's Stephen's greatest hit On And On:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Otto Knows - Million Voices

Joe writes: Big dance tune from a protege of Avicii.

Vaguely reminds me of the classic Da Da Da by Trio, being based around a vocal riff that's not really a lyric.

original versions of the songs from Boys Don't Cry by Rumer

Joe writes: I get excited when artists with great taste make covers albums - it means I can download all the original versions and reasonably expect to discover some great tracks in doing so. Rumer was already planning the release of Boys Don't Cry before she'd signed a record deal. It features lesser known songs of heartbreak by well respected but not necessarily well known male singer songwriters of the early '70s. In other words, music to my ears. A lot of the song suggestions came from Steve Brown who produced Rumer's first album but didn't produce this one after falling out with Rumer.

I have three favourite discoveries from the album. Two of them aren't on YouTube yet which I may remedy shortly. The one that is is Be Nice To Me by Todd Rundgren. I liked the YouTube comment "Ben Folds should give Todd 30 cents of every dollar he makes".

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Script - The Man Who Can't Be Moved

Phil writes: Not really being very clued-up about the music of today, apart from things that Joe tells me about/posts here, I must confess that 'The Voice' has been a bit of an ear-opener  -  Tom Jones was the only judge whose music I was at all familiar with.

Just happened to catch the video of this on a music channel. Pretty impressive even on first hearing:


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Benny Hill meets dancehall

Joe writes: Every summer, London's Choice FM used to playlist reggae and that was where I first heard Sorry If I Hurt Your Feelings by Tenor Fly tune in I think 1996. Great lyric, great melody, an amusingly Benny Hill-esque backing track... it should have been huge.

Which reminds me of the time the Benny Hill theme became the dancehall beat du jour. My favourite take on it was of course Lady Saw's excellent Jealous.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Jimmy Webb's Ivor Award

Phil writes: This recognition of his great songwriting has meant several TV and radio interviews, plus an appearance on Jools with Rumer:

I love this song of his:

And this (though not the best audio quality):

The First Thing You See by Bruno Charles

Joe writes: This is pretty, by new artist Bruno Charles, really good singer, guitar player and songwriter

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Janis Joplin and Bessie Smith

Phil writes: A contestant on 'The Voice' was told by Tom Jones that she reminded him of Janis Joplin. She later admitted that she hadn't heard of Janis. But she's only 17 so has some excuse. For anyone else who hasn't heard of her  -  and there will be such people out there  -  here she is. First, the amazing song she really made her own:

She could perform lesser material equally successfully, making it memorable:

Janis herself was compared, undertandably, with the legendary Bessie Smith. So here's Bessie:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lost classic: First Kiss by Lovatux

Joe writes: There was a lot wrong with Lovatux, not least their name. They signed a record deal and got nowhere in about 1997. But First Kiss, the demo that got them signed, was pretty near perfect.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

this was the best song I heard at Great Escape Festival

Joe writes: It's an old Cornish folk song, Little Eyes, performed by Cornish band Crowns

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Ray Charles - Georgia on my mind

Phil writes: This blew me away when I first heard it many years ago. Somewhere out there there'll be people who've never heard it. They're in for a treat:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Nina Simone - For all we know

Phil writes: A distinctive and stunning version of a much-covered song:

Friday, 27 April 2012

just found out that Chris Ethridge from The Flying Burrito Brothers died earlier this week

Joe writes: He co-wrote my favourite Burritos song, Hot Burrito #1, as covered by Elvis Costello under the title I'm Your Toy

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Robbie Boyd Band - I won't let you go

Phil writes: Graham Norton played this on Radio 2 and I thought it must be a new Mumford song. It's a very good song, performed well:

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lou Doillon - I.C.U.

Joe writes: I don't know much about this, but from what I can work out it's the debut release by a new French artist. It's a proper song that manages to avoid sounding old-fashioned or schmaltzy. Very classy.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

R.I.P. Levon Helm

Phil writes: Another member of the legendary band follows Richard Manuel and Rick Danko offstage. One of the extraordinary things about the Band was the sheer excellence of every member. None of them was really ever the same after the surely premature decision to dis-Band, though the reformed band (minus Robbie Robertson) of the nineties was very good by any standard and I reckon they made better albums than RR.

Here's Levon Helm at Woodstock singing possibly the best Band song (and in his view, and the view of other members of the Band, like much of their material, this was a co-operative writing effort  -  like the vocals  - though, as so often, Robertson managed to get the credit).

Abba - The Visitors

Joe writes: Abba's final studio album The Visitors is reissued on Monday. Conceptually this is my favourite Abba album, being released in the year that Anni-Fred and Benny divorced (Björn had already split two years earlier). I must say, listening again, it's not the most consistent album but it does contain two classic songs of heartbreak, One Of Us and The Day Before You Came.

The Day Before You Came:

Listening again now, I'm sure this must have been the inspiration for one of my favourite Pulp songs,  Something Changed:

And here's One Of Us:

Monday, 16 April 2012

Jessie Ware - 110%

Joe writes: The new Jessie Ware tune is even better than the last one. A few people have tried to fill this niche recently but Jessie seems to be doing it right.

Monday, 9 April 2012

And a Bang* on the Ear - The Waterboys

Phil writes: Mike Scott of the Waterboys has tweeted a link to a review of his latest concert where he apparently dedicated this song to the original Lindsay mentioned in the song who was present at the concert. Great opportunity to post this rollicking song.

*A 'bang' is a kiss.

Grown Up by Danny Brown

Joe writes: Nice hip hop tune. Who does his delivery remind me of?

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Everyone gets to sing with Emmylou eventually

Phil writes: The Band are no exception though this footage had to be slotted into the movie and is not of an actual performance from the concert.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

CSYN - Our House

Phil writes: Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is on some advert at the moment. Happy to say I can't remember what it's advertising - apart from this great song from an almost great band.

Plan B - Ill Manors

Joe writes: I guess this barnstorming single takes Plan B into the territory once occupied by The King Blues:

Ill Manors borrows its backing track from this German hip hop track Alles Neu by Peter Fox, which in turn samples Dimitri Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony.

yesterday The King Blues announced that they are splitting up

Joe writes: I worked with them on the album Save The World, Get The Girl which is full of great tunes and lyrics*. Here's one of its lesser known songs, The Schemers, the Scroungers and the Rats:

And here's the poem Zane Lowe played last night to mark their departure, What If Punk Never Happened:

I will always remember the first time I heard an entire crowd shout along with the words "Viva la punk, just one life, anarchy", and the last time, when they were headlining the Roundhouse in their spiritual home of Camden a few months back.

Zane played their demo a couple of times, but didn't play them again until the guy behind the counter in his local organic greengrocer said to him "Why don't you play The King Blues instead of all that rubbish you do play?". They were a people's band.

* Footnote - after George Galloway won a by-election last week I wrote on Twitter that one of my favourite King Blues lyrics is "A peace movement needs fire in its belly, but Galloway's lapping up milk on the telly" (which he did as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother). Someone then tweeted me asking what song this is from - good question. I think it was from an early version of Save The World, Get The Girl, and they changed it before the album came out because it was no longer topical. They may have done this at my suggestion and I wonder now if it was a mistake.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Weight - The Band

Phil writes: Watching 'The Last Waltz' again I was reminded again how magnificent The Band were, never mind all the guests. I think this is my favourite Band song and one of my all-time favourite songs period. The Staples Singers are the icing on the cake here.

Dry Your Eyes - Neil Diamond

Phil writes: I've just seen 'The Last Waltz' on a big screen for only the second time. I've got it on DVD of course, but watching that, even on a decent TV, is not quite the same thing. This must be the best ever film of a live gig, if only because of the astonishing and extraordinarily varied line-up. Neil Diamond would not seem to be an obvious choice as a guest with The Band but this is a storming performance clearly enjoyed by all concerned.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

"I'll kiss you one more time, and leave you on the rolling river shores of changes"

Joe writes: I heard this Phil Ochs song Changes when Digits covered it for a Gordon Lightfoot tribute album. Phil's version sounds ponderous once you've heard Gordon sing it.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Spose - Pop Song

Joe writes: Big tune, funny video. Do people who aren't in the music business find this equally funny I wonder?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ice Prince feat. Brymo - Oleku

Joe writes: This is the other current Afrobeat tune I like apart from Oliver Twist by D'Banj (I've researched this thoroughly by listening to the whole of DJ Abrantee's Afrobeats mixtape volume 1). It's by Ice Prince from Nigeria.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel - Another Day

Phil writes: An intriguing version of an excellent Roy Harper song.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Smiths - I Know It's Over

Joe writes: A YouTube cover reminded me of this magical track from the album The Queen Is Dead.

Azure Blue - Chesil Beach

Joe writes: I keep listening to this Azure Blue tune Chesil Beach - great groove and melody.

Monday, 20 February 2012

"Tonight we are young, so let's set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun"

Joe writes: Fun are no. 1 in America with their song We Are Young featuring Janelle Monae (I'm not sure where Janelle features on it but still).

Their new track Some Nights is even more exciting to me, kinda taking what The Feeling were doing to the next level, with a debt to Queen, 10cc, Journey and many others. So American and so good.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Vince Kidd - Sick Love

Joe writes: Sick song, sick artist, sick video by the amazing De La Muerte Films

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Harper Simon - Berkeley Girl

Phil writes:  Don't think we've posted this previously.  Heard it on the radio this morning and thought, as I did when I first heard it, that it could stand aside any of his dad's best songs. If you didn't know, you'd think it was written and sung by Paul S:

Sweet Thames, Flow Softly

Phil writes:  Christy Moore performed this beautiful Ewan MacColl song on the AM programme this morning and this is a fine version with Sinead on backing vocals:

just discovered this Death Cab For Cutie song after hearing a barbershop quartet cover it

Joe writes: It's called I Will Follow You Into The Dark. Lovely lyric and tune. I've never really been into Death Cab before - do they have more like this I wonder?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Rhye - Open

Joe writes: I feel like Rhye could be the artist I've been looking for for five years or so. Echoes of Sade but the singer is male apparently.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Indonesian jam

Joe writes: The Music Alliance Pact is a monthly collaboration where blogs from around 35 numerous countries each pick one track to represent their country. I wish someone would launch a pop version of this where the biggest local track from each country is represented, but in the meantime, there are usually one or two interesting tracks amongst the Music Alliance Pact zip file.

This month the interesting track comes from Indonesia's Belkastrelka, "an eccentric electronic duo who sample sounds from various sources – windows, the library, television, nature and everything else. Combined with the tiny but wild vocals of Asa Rahmana, they create feral dance music." Am I mad or is Pujian Ekspatriat, which features Fraya and is tipped by the Indonesian webzine, a bit of a jam? Someone should sample it. Here's the mp3.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Paul McCartney and Fats Waller

Phil writes: It would be very hard to write a Valentine's song as great as Steve Earle's sublime 'Valentine's Day' but this effort of Paul's shows he can still turn out a very good song:

There's a decent version of 'I'm going to sit right down and write myself a letter' on McCartney's new album 'Kisses on the bottom' which takes its title from the Fats Waller song. I think, though, that the original has even more to offer:

Friday, 27 January 2012

"Linger on, your pale blue eyes" (song from the BBC Radio advert/trailer)

Joe writes: The BBC make such great trailers advertising themselves, especially when they draw on the songwriting of Lou Reed. The current trailer for BBC Radio features a man moved to tears firstly by The Velvet Underground's Pale Blue Eyes, and then by a football commentary as Blackpool gain promotion to the Premier League.

For the original underground band, The Velvet Underground sure had some great tunes.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Zane Lowe is playing Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez

Joe writes: It's a choice of Lana Del Rey who is being interviewed. It sounds amazing on Radio 1 (as it does everywhere else one might hear it). Bob Dylan is so great he even inspires other artists' finest work.

Also here is Lana Del Rey's second best track National Anthem:

Monday, 23 January 2012

Etta James

Joe writes: I listened to all the Etta James tracks that Richard Williams wrote about in The Guardian, but I have to say I don't think any of them are as good what her two biggest hits until Avicii sampled her.

At Last is a top 40 hit in the UK for the first time this week:

I Just Wanna Make Love To You (originally the B side to At Last) was a hit in the nineties of the back off a Diet Coke advert:

Laura J Martin - Doki Doki

Joe writes: Just heard Laura J Martin for the first time. This is an instrumental flute track but very infectious and quite unlike anything else I've heard recently.

Different instrument, different vibe but I was reminded of Devil In The Kitchen by nineties Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac:

And this hypnotic track The Diamond Mountain by Sharon Shannon & Friends:

Friday, 20 January 2012

D'Banj - Oliver Twist

Joe writes: Dance track from Africa that could be a hit in the UK and elsewhere.

Chiddy Bang and Steve Greenberg's Best of 2011

Joe writes: Legendary American record label boss Steve Greenberg has once again published his best of the year list, containing many of my favourite tracks of 2011 plus quite a few I'd never heard before.

It also contains one track I've been meaning to blog, the new Chiddy Bang single Ray Charles which has a chorus (written by Sam Hollander) that lights up the radio every time it's played.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Billy Joel - Lullaby

I could understand someone feeling this is over-sentimental, particularly with the dodgy video, but I think it's a real gem.  There's no doubt that he's written a number of truly memorable songs.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Bowie's 65th birthday

Phil writes:  As this is currently being celebrated, it seems appropriate to pay tribute to an innovative and very influential artist.  Not so long ago, Joe and I were saying what a great album 'Ziggy Stardust' is.  I believe it has a higher proportion of great songs than almost any album you can think of. I'll just concentrate on three. The opening track, 'Five Years' is, like so many Bowie songs, quite unlike any other song you can think of and some of the lines and images live on in your brain for many years (believe me!).  And then there's 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide' with its brilliantly pithy portrayal of someone right on the edge who by the end of the song may well have been saved from suicide.  I never tire of 'Ziggy Stardust' which might almost be said to be a new kind of rock music.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Miriam Makeba - Khawuleza

Joe writes: Thanks to MrBedosey for drawing my attention to this track via a comment on my YouTube channel. Like Nongqongqo (To Those We Love), it's from the album An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba, but this version was is from a 1966 Swedish TV show and is followed by a moving interview and another track.