Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue

Joe writes: My favourite Nina Simone recording, as covered recently by Laura Mvula. It was the title track of Nina's debut album from 1958, released on the seasonal-sounding Bethlehem Records. But there was no room at the inn for Nina - according to Wikipedia, she sold her rights to the album (which also included the much-synched My Baby Just Cares For Me) outright for $3000. I suspect Joni Mitchell might have got the idea for the Jingle Bells piano part in River from Little Girl Blue's similar reference to to Good King Wenceslas.

Anyway, Rodgers & Hart wrote Little Girl Blue; Nina immortalised it.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

One Direction - Midnight Memories

I recently listened to the One Direction album which I think is their best one yet. My two favourite tracks are Diana and Midnight Memories.

I wonder what the London taxi service Addison Lee did in exchange for that lyric and screen grab.

To me the biggest influence on the sound of the album is not Mumford & Sons or Def Leppard but John Mellencamp, so here's his classic Jack & Diane:

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Busta Rhymes Feat Q Tip, Kanye West & Lil Wayne – Thank You

Joe writes: Busta and Q-Tip are both great on this. Kanye and Wayne are hardly on it. But the real star of the piece? Alicia Myers, who is robbed of a credit - it's her soul house classic I Want To Thank You that provides the backing track and the hook. Alicia's track has been sampled before by rappers including DMX and Theophilus London. I don't want to take anything away from Busta and Q-Tip though - they really show their class.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Esbjörn Svensson Trio (EST) - Sipping On The Solid Ground (Live in Hamburg - 2007)

Joe writes: Cerys Matthews, formerly of Catatonia, presents the late Sunday morning slot on 6 Music. She has a lovely voice, a lovely manner, and she plays lots of music I've never heard of, some of it very good, including occasional jazz tracks which are nice to hear on 6 Music. Sipping On The Solid Ground was on this morning's show - perfect Sunday morning music with a really remarkable amount of space in the track.This was recorded live in 2007; Svensson died the following year in a scuba diving accident.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight

Joe writes: This came on the radio while I was driving through Los Angeles. It sounded so futuristic. It was clearly a massive inspiration for the Drive soundtrack, but much as I love Real Hero and Nightcall, this is on a different level in terms of melody, vocal performance, arrangement, everything.

It has been used on numerous films, TV programmes and adverts, starting with the pilot episode of Miami Vice. Some of those uses, like the Cadbury's Gorilla commercial and The Hangover, have been slightly mocking, which is perhaps why not everyone realises what a brilliant, serious, angry record this is.

The official video is cut to the single version which has drums from near the start, added on the suggestion of Ahmet Ertegun so don't listen to that, listen to this:

And here's a demo version, before the addition of Phil's trademark gated drum sound:

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Phil Campbell/The Temperance Movement

Joe writes: I wrote about Phil Campbell once before but I wasn't expecting the music world to hear from him again. In the mid nineties, he was signed to EMI in what was a particuarly Kill Your Friends-esque era for the label. His debut album had a lot of money spent on it but was a stiff. After leaving EMI he formed a band called White Buffalo but eventually left the music industry before joining a new band, The Temperance Movement, around two years ago. They signed to the heavy rock label Earache, toured a lot, and charted their debut album at no. 12 in the official UK album chart.

My favourite from Phil's debut album was Hope, Faith & You, with its gloriously over-the-top string arrangement and a healthy dose of influence from Tom Traubert's Blues by Tom Waits. Hope, Faith & You was covered by Cliff Richard. Is it religious? It's ambiguous - he could be referring to his actual father. Either way it's a lyric about self-belief that is particularly appealing given the arc of Phil's career.

My favourite track on the Temperance Movement album is Chinese Lanterns, but remember that Chinese lanterns are dangerous and bad for the environment:

The Temperance Movement play Koko in London tonight.

Here's Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen):

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Ten Walls - Requiem

Joe writes: Super catchy but cool instrumental house tune.

It reminds me of Disco's Revenge by Gusto:

with a little of Get Get Down by Paul Johnson:

Jake Bugg - A Song About Love

Joe writes: I don't always get Jake Bugg but I really like this song from his new album. It sounds big.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Don't let it die - Hurricane Smith

Phil writes:  Heard this on the radio recently.  I always thought it was a great song and, clearly, more and more relevant as the years go by:

  Hurricane Smith was a sound engineer who worked a lot with the Beatles.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sad Songs - Spotify playlist

Joe writes: My favourite genre is sad songs, and this playlist includes most of my favourites including Sad Song by Lou Reed:

Thursday, 31 October 2013

this tune by Francis and the Lights sounded so good on Zane Lowe last night

Joe writes: If James Blake had tried to write Wonderful Tonight (if only), it might have sounded a little like this.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

"I'm gonna stop wasting my time" - RIP Lou Reed

Joe writes: Sad Song, from the amazing album Berlin, is my favourite Lou Reed track and one of my favourite tracks of all-time

Friday, 25 October 2013

AWOLNATION - Sail as featured on the trailer to The Counsellor

Joe writes: I'm not sure how much I actually like this tune but it's such an obvious, infectious hit. UK radio should be playing this a lot, especially Radio 1, and they are not - yet. It features on the trailer to the new Ridley Scott film The Counsellor.

Also, check this out:

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Monkey Safari - Coming Down (Hi-Life Radio Edit)

Joe writes: Lovely tune brought to light by the Majestic Casual YouTube channel. It's pretty much the natural follow-up to So Good To Me by Chris Malinchak.

It's based around Bon Iver's cover of Coming Down by Anais Mitchell. Here's the original:

And here's the cover:

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I think Arctic Monkeys will win the Mercury Music Prize and deservedly so

Joe writes: They are great and their album is great. But Laura Marling's music affects me in a way no other contemporary artist does - I'm in awe, I'm sad, I'm uplifted. I get the same feelings from listening to Blue or Blood On The Tracks (which I do a lot).

Monday, 21 October 2013

Young Fathers - LOW

Joe writes: I heard this on Zane Lowe tonight. Best Scottish hip hop track ever?

Saturday, 12 October 2013

For The Good Times - Perry Como

Phil Writes:  This is a Kris Kristofferson song.  Normally, I think he performs his own songs best.  But I really like this version.  Perry Como had a very relaxed voice and though he may be out of fashion now he had a weekly TV show that, at a time when we only had a couple of TV channels (if we were lucky), showcased a lot of great songs and singers we might otherwise never have heard:

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

How Long Will I Love You - Ellie Goulding and The Waterboys

Phil writes: Ellie Goulding has a good version that is likely to become a classic wedding song (according to her and I think she's right).  It also features on the soundtrack of Richard Curtis's movie 'About Time':

The original is excellent and I love this live acoustic version, slower than the original, including a Cohenesque introduction from Mike Scott:

Only You - Yazoo and the Platters

Phil writes: Heard the Yazoo song the other day and was reminded how good it is:

Not surprisingly, the title is not unique to this song, and I've loved this Platters track from the moment I first heard it many moons ago:

Monday, 7 October 2013

Heart - Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters (live)

I was listening to the radio in Florida, and heard what I assumed was the new country smash by Tricia Yearwood or similar. I turned out to be Heart covering this Elton John song with its wonderful chorus melody. Of course. If there's a studio version I can't find it so here it is live in Seattle:

Monday, 30 September 2013

Malcolm McLaren - Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo)

Joe writes: I'm not sure I'd heard this track until today when I saw it mentioned in a list of Peter Hook's favourite ever albums. It reached no. 13 in the UK charts in 1984 but I guess it's too weird to get much airplay nowadays. What a brilliant, imaginative record though. Over six minutes long but never boring. Another YouTube uploader says "Malcolm McLaren's masterpiece". Quite.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Helloween are playing Rock In Rio and trending on Twitter

Joe writes: There aren't many power metal tunes that I know and love but Power by Helloween is one of them. Such a big tune. I reckon it would be fun to watch them live at Rock In Rio.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Ben Pearce - What I Might Do

Joe writes: I can't believe I haven't posted this before now. It's a great tune that has already been a hit in Italy and is now, finally, breaking in the UK after months of underground love (I'm not sure anything is really underground anymore but you know what I mean). It's signed to Chase & Status's MTA Records.

For a while I assumed Ben Pearce was the vocalist - always a mistake with electronic music. Of course it's a sample - from Anthony Hamilton's fabulously named Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

R Kelly - Genius

Is R Kelly a genius? No, but he has as good a claim on that word as any musician to have emerged in the nineties or since. His greatest hits album would be longer and better than other artist of his era. Genius isn't his best song but it is a great record, a typically bonkers lyric, and generally streets ahead of the competition.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Mary Margaret O'Hara stars in a new film, Museum Hours

Joe writes: which is excuse enough to post her greatest hit Body's In Trouble (OK, it wasn't a hit but it is great). Mary Margaret is generally agreed to be a Canadian national treasure despite having only released one studio album, 1988's Miss America. Reading between the lines, an unsympathetic experience with her first record company may be the culprit for her limited musical productivity. Such a shame. Body's In Trouble has a wonderful vocal delivery, melody and guitar riff.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Bastille cover We Can't Stop by Miley Cyrus

Joe writes: Every band who comes into Radio 1's Live Lounge is made to do a cover, and it must be something known to current Radio 1 listeners. Often the bands don't have time to prepare properly which leads to some uninspired results. But Bastille have clearly put the time in, and they have done something genuinely musical with We Can't Stop, which highlights what a good song it is. But I will never be able to forgive the Molly lyric.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Etta Bond x Raf Riley

Joe writes: In terms of the brave honesty of the lyrics and the vocal delivery, Supposed To Say Goodbye reminds me of Lily Allen, and I mean that as a big compliment.

Then there's fighttothedeath. Etta's lyric is uncomfortable in a good way and the production is all over the place in a good way. Exciting.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Hayden James - Embrace

Joe writes: Great little tune from the buzzy but poorly named Australian electronica label Future Classic

Friday, 30 August 2013

FLYTE - Faithless

Joe writes: Not so long ago bands were dismissed out of hand for referencing The Beatles. Now it seems refreshing. Flyte's other songs are not so Beatles-y, and their singer Will Taylor (formerly of The Ashbies) has it, as you can see from this video. They could be huge.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

FIDLAR - Awkward

Joe writes: This sounded rather good when Zane Lowe was singing along with it earlier.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dolly Parton - Jolene - slowed down

Joe writes: This works amazingly well, and Boy George has left a comment on the YouTube

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Belle Stars - Iko Iko

Joe writes: While in France I heard this track from 1982 on Radio Nostalgie. The Belle Stars were signed to Stiff Records and this became a hit in the US after featuring on the soundtrack to Rain Man, apparently at Dustin Hoffman's suggestion. It's weirdly futuristic and very Xenomania.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Monday, 29 July 2013

Haim - The Wire

Joe writes: The Wire was always the standout song from Haim's live shows and I think they've done a good job of recording it (when they play it live, it sounds rather like The Darkness, but not here). Ariel Rechtshaid produced it and Mark "Spike" Stent mixed it.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Tim Westwood just played Tha Crossroads in tribute to Tyrell Matthews-Burton

Joe writes: Great tune, great DJ, nice message.

I always found it weird that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony invented this amazing sound and neither they nor anyone else really developed it or even copied it.

JJ Cale has died

Joe writes: Here's his lovely track Wish I Had Not Said That, which opened a recent Washed Out mix done for Rough Trade

Friday, 26 July 2013

John Wizards - Lusaka By Night

Joe writes: Like the comment on YouTube says, so fucking fresh. On Planet Mu Records.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Dr Octagon - Blue Flowers

Joe writes: Mo Wax Records will shortly be celebrating their 21st anniversary which led me to relisten to one of the weirdest, funniest hip hop albums they or anyone else released, the eponymous debut by Dr Octagon AKA Kool Keith. Keith plays a highly perverted doctor in a number of skits, one of which, General Hospital, ends with the memorable line "Oh shit, there's a horse in the hospital". This leads directly into the album's highlight of the album, Blue Flowers, with its eery, Wu Tang-esque string sample. Dan The Automator produced the album and there's more amusingly crazy stuff about Dr Octagon on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Kris Kristofferson - To Beat the Devil

Joe writes: Brilliant song from the Kristeofferson album that Kris wrote in the hope of saving Johnny Cash's life, as he explains at the start.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Peter Gabriel - The Book of Love as featured on Scrubs

Joe writes: A cover of the Magnetic Fields with a lovely string arrangement that's reminiscent of Tom Waits. From the YouTube comments I've learnt that it featured on Scrubs, which I guess explains a lot of the 5 million plays.

Monday, 8 July 2013

JAY Z feat. Justin Timberlake - Holy Grail

Joe writes: I'm not sure what I think about the Jay Z album yet. I'm not even sure what I think about his contributions to this track. But Justin Timberlake's bits are sensational - some of the best melodies since Rihanna's part on Love The Way You Lie. I wonder who wrote the melodies? Whoever it is might have ended up with a small percentage of the song as there are nine songwriters listed including three members of Nirvana thanks to the Smells Like Teen Spirit steal. The most likely candidate apart from JT is Terius "The-Dream" Nash.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Heartbreakers never break your heart forever (1000 Questions by Hawkon)

Joe writes: It took me a few listens to realise how great this tune is; now it's one of my favourites of recent times. When the strings and the beat come in at 1.10, it's a real moment.


Sunday, 30 June 2013


Joe writes: One of my favourite tracks of the year, Song For Zula by Phosphorescent, owes a debt to Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen, which reminded me how remarkable it is that the film Philadelphia featured two wonderful original songs with Philadelphia in the title.

Here's Springsteen's:

And here's Neil Young's Philadelphia:


Thanks to Streets Of Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen is on the short list of legendary artists who have written one of their biggest songs well into middle age (see also Bob Dylan - To Make You Feel My Love and Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah).

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Joe writes: I revisited this album recently for the first time in years, yet several of the songs were still firmly logged in my mind - Right In Time, I Lost It (with the opening line "I think I lost it, let me know if you come across it"), Greenville, Still I Long For Your Kiss... It really is an excellent album; almost a classic. Listen on Spotify.

But my favourite of all is probably Metal Firecracker. The verse reminisces about the high points of a past relationship, then shifts to the devastating refrain "All I ask, don't tell anybody the secrets I told you".  According to this YouTube video, a metal firecracker is a tour bus. Lucinda plays Glastonbury on Sunday night.

Lorde - Royals

Joe writes: If the internet is any indication then it looks like New Zealand teenager Lorde could break worldwide. Royals is a great tune and I really like what she wrote under the video on YouTube.

Willy Mason

Joe writes: Tonight I went to see Laura Marling play Secret Music, the debut music event from the people behind Secret Cinema. I have been waiting for someone to take the Secret Cinema concept and apply it to a gig, but actually the most magical elements of the night were the musical performances. Laura and her guitarist popped up without warning and duetted on a cover of Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark (which Springsteen apparently wrote for The Ramones but ended up keeping for himself). The night ended with a full gig from Laura - incredible - she just gets better and better.

But before all that was Willy Mason.

Of course he did Oxygen, this generation's Imagine, the song that should have saved the world:

And he closed with a great song called Tic Tac Toe, written by his father. This is a hit song for someone (why not Willy?):

And finally, here's James Blake singing a song written by his father. Power to the dads:

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Random Acccess Opinions

Joe writes: Basically I love the Daft Punk album. Wait, there's more!

I loved Daft Punk from Da Funk to Digital Love but haven't liked too much since. I had mixed feelings about Get Lucky, feeling it paled in comparison to the likes of One More Time and Digital Love. I'm not a big fan of funky music per se so I wasn't excited by Daft Punk bringing that back. Mostly I just thought - and still think - that the marketing campaign around this album is the best I've seen during my time in the music industry, especially when you consider that their last studio album sold 70,000 in the UK and the Tron soundtrack did 100,000.

So I listened to Random Access Memories once and thought it was OK. Then I listened again out of duty. Then something made me listen a third time. Now I can't stop listening and I think I will be listening for years to come. I can't remember the last time a new album had that effect on me.

There is one element that predisposed me towards this album - I'm a fan of emotional vocoder music. I loved bits of 808s & Heartbreaks, but song-for-song Random Access Memories wipes the floor with Kanye's album. It's long at 13 tracks but every track has merit. And to hear "electronic" music played by brilliant musicians on real instruments is just so refreshing.

I wonder if there was any A&R involvement in this album besides a vote of confidence from Columbia Records? I suspect the other huge album of the moment, Justin Timberlake's, may have been made with a similar lack of A&R involvement. I guess there's something to be said for leaving great artists to their own devices (not that it works every time, or for every artist).

Daft Punk eschewed the easy route of synthesisers and samples with this album. Instead they did what so few people would take the time, effort or expense to do - they recruited world class original musicians to play parts that are worthy of being sampled. Sometimes you get out what you put in to music. 

There's something fascinating about the artist or musician as film director, not necessarily performing or writing or twiddling knobs but merely directing and curating. This describes some of the most successful producers of recent time including Rick Rubin and Rollo. If you want to make an album that stops people in their tracks, maybe you need a little distance from the minutiae of the process. Having said that, Thomas and Guy are the sole producers, writers and vocalists on one of my favourite tracks, The Game of Love.

As the album campaign unfolded, it became clear there's a tension in Daft Punk between a desire to maintain distance and mystique, a strong degree of ambition, and one member (Thomas Bangalter) who clearly loves to talk and is extremely eloquent. So much of the brilliant marketing campaign must have come from them. 

Then there was the wonderful Pitchfork interview - a masterpiece in a band controlling how they are represented in the media. This quote in particular highlighted how much Daft Punk have thought about their music, and how that thought process has helped them make an album bigger and better than anything their contemporaries have managed: “It's very strange how electronic music formatted itself and forgot that its roots are about freedom and the acceptance of every race, gender, and style of music into this big party,” says Bangalter. “Instead, it started to become this electronic lifestyle which also involved the glorification of technology.” 

I'm so on board with this album I've even purchased a Chic Organisation t-shirt. I even love Giorgio By Moroder. 

I've added my favourite six tracks to a Spotify playlist called Joe's favourite new tracks (I'll be updating this regularly, adding tracks in reverse chronological order).

We Got Hope In Our Hearts

Joe writes: I really like this new Beach Blood single H.O.P.E. So ambitious and melodic.

H.O.P.E. has enjoyable echoes of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine so here's The Only Living Boy In New Cross:

(Full disclosure - I used to work with The King Blues, and Jamie from Beach Blood was in The King Blues)

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bobby Charles - Small Town Talk

Joe writes: I have no idea how I came across this gem - I guess it must have been synced somewhere. It was written with Rick Danko from The Band.

Monday, 17 June 2013

How To Save American Music

Joe writes: I was at a wedding recently where Drops Of Jupiter by Train was performed. This reminded me that years ago Eddie Ruffett and I came up with a concept for a compilation album tentatively titled How To Save American Music, featuring all those tracks by mainstream North American rock bands that became hits in the UK in the 90s and beyond. Often, the bands were never heard of again over here, but their one hit still sounds great.

We couldn't persuade anyone to make this compilation album but maybe it was always destined to be Spotify playlist:

Friday, 14 June 2013

Laura Marling - Once

Joe writes: I seem to fall for Laura Marling's music more and more with each album, which I suppose is the way it should be as a young artist grows and develops. Even her style of singing, which felt slightly affected in the past, now makes sense because she seems so at ease with it. Once is the beautiful highlight of the new album Once I Was An Eagle. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Flamin Groovies - Shake Some Action

Joe writes: The Flamin Groovies are playing London soon, for the first time in 30 years. Should I go? If I do it will just be to hear this song, which I first heard on Mark Radcliffe's Radio 1 show Out On Blue Six many years ago. It has been a big part of my life ever since. It was produced by Dave Edmunds in 1976 and featured on the Clueless soundtrack in the '90s.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Throw Your Hatred Down

Joe writes: Another thing I found while sorting through some old possessions was a set of tracklistings for cassettes I'd made for friends when I was in my teens. Many of the songs on there are still close to my heart but I'd completely forgotten this one by Neil Young from the Mirror Ball album made with members of Pearl Jam. Now I've listened afresh the lyric speaks to me and it's a beautiful melody only partially buried under a non-production.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Wayne Kramer - Wild America

Joe writes: Wayne was the guitarist in the MC5. Wild America is from the nineties, when he was signed to Epitaph Records. I'm not sure why I was reminded of it but it is a great tune with real bite. It's not on YouTube or iTunes but it is on MySpace which is something to be said for MySpace I suppose.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

I Drove All Night - Roy Orbison

Phil writes: I've heard this a lot recently. Although he didn't write it, and recorded it late in his career, it's up there with his classics as far as I'm concerned.


R.I.P. George Jones

Phil writes: A great country singer has died.  I first heard this track covered by Elvis Costello  -  very well, I thought. But this sounds majestic and the two voices go well together.  He did write a lot of the songs he recorded but this was written by Jerry Chesnut.

my new favourite Dylan cover - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues by Nina Simone

Joe writes: Just Like Tom Thumb's Blue isn't one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs, or wasn't until I heard Nina's restrained version of it. It's my new favourite Dylan cover and one of my two favourite Nina Simone tracks.

Here's my other Nina favourite, Little Girl Blue, which borrows from Good King Wenceslas:

and while I'm on the subject of classic tracks that borrow from Christmas carols, here's Joni Mitchell's River with its debt to Jingle Bells:

Friday, 26 April 2013

Phosphorescent - Song for Zula on Jimmy Fallon

Joe writes: Nice performance of my favourite track of the moment

Hi, my name is Stereo Mike

Joe writes: While looking through old possessions in my mum's house, I came across these Bran Van 3000 beer mats which reminded me about their awesome but odd debut single Drinking In LA. Odd because there's a DJ talking over the intro about giving away Bran Van 3000 tickets. Awesome because it's such a tune, with that fabulously loose groove, a singalong chorus to rival Tubthumping, and a lyric which captures the mindset of wasting time getting drunk when you could be getting famous. Bran Van 3000 are Canadian and they're still touring apparently but the rest of their career was always likely to be overshadowed by this extraordinary debut single.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Grandaddy - AM180

Joe writes: For years I've been racking my brains trying to remember which American indie record from the '90s inspired MGMT so much. Of course it was this.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

DJ Jurgen presents Alice Deejay - Better Off Alone as sampled by David Guetta on Play Hard

Joe writes: This is one of my favourite Euro dance tracks. I love the build up to the vocal (which doesn't come in until 1.17). I love how simple the lyric is; they were right to resist the temptation to write any more. Basically it's perfect.

I once experienced a big moment when Judge Jules played this at El Divino in Ibiza. Judge Jules is now an entertainment lawyer. I wonder what DJ Jurgen and the rest of Alice Deejay are doing now? Wikipedia suggests Jurgen might still be a radio DJ in The Netherlands, probably playing the David Guetta tune that samples Better Off Alone I imagine. Wikipedia also confirms something people might have forgotten - Alice Deejay had a top ten album in the UK.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Sometimes It Snows In April - Prince

Joe writes: NME declared Prince's Parade as the album of 1986, back before they were obsessed with white indie rock. Years later I borrowed it from my local library, copied it on to cassette and remember being moved to tears by Sometimes It Snows In April as I walked home from school along Cemetery Road. It might have been April, it might have been snowing, probably not though.

Prince has an army of lawyers keeping his music off YouTube so here it is on Spotify:

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Phosphorescent - Song For Zula as featured on Grey's Anatomy

Joe writes: I didn't go to SXSW this year but I did download a couple of compilations of bands playing the event and felt I wasn't missing much until I heard Song For Zula. Then I saw it on Xfm's playlist, then in Spotify's "most viral" chart, then I discovered it was on Grey's Anatomy, all in the past 24 hours. What a beautiful piece of music, with echoes of Bette Midler's The Rose, Streets Of Philadelphia, and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Fryars - On Your Own

Joe writes: Love this new single from Fryars - better than anything Tame Impala have done.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Bruno Mars - When I Was Your Man

Joe writes: When I hear Bruno Mars on the radio I'm impressed and annoyed in equal measure. Impressed because time after time he writes a hit song with a good old-fashioned melody and lyrical concept. Annoyed because I think why aren't more people doing this? I'm not sure Bruno would have been a world-beating artist any time before 1990, but in the current era, he's streets ahead of the rest.

The 100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs according to Rolling Stone

Joe writes: I just spent a long flight listening to Bob Dylan and reading Rolling Stone's Special Collectors Edition of 40 years of Dylan interviews. They also asked a panel of Dylan experts to create a list of his 100 greatest songs. The top ten is here. Like A Rolling Stone is no. 1 - fair enough. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall is a rather surprising no. 2.

Blood On The Tracks is one of my favourite albums of all-time, and it's surely the best Dylan album from beginning to end. This is reflected in the chart which features nine of the ten tracks from the album. The Blood On The Tracks outtake Up To Me also features at no. 49. Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts is the one Blood... track that doesn't feature and it's the closest thing to a weak spot on the album; musically it's a little generic in a way that wouldn't be out of place on one of his recent albums.

Dylan has written so many great songs that you can make a list of his 100 greatest and still leave some out.

The glaring omission is To Make You Feel My Love, which I wrote about here, and which set Adele up to have one of the biggest albums of recent times after her version benefited from various reality TV performances, boosting her profile shortly before the release of her 21 album.

They also left out Sign On The Window, a gem from New Morning that hasn't received the Coen Brothers treatment (yet):

And their list of the best Dylan covers missed Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity's version of This Wheel's On Fire, presumably because Absolutely Fabulous was bigger in the UK than the US:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Emmylou Harris - Here, there and everywhere

Phil writes:  With all the Beatles stuff there's been in the past year, I was wondering why they hardly feature on WGM.  The reason must be that their music, which is clearly amongst the world's greatest, is so well known that we assume readers of the blog will already know almost anything we might post.

However, a great many of their songs have been covered and there are some excellent versions which may not be that well-known.  This is one:

Monday, 18 March 2013

Richard Manuel of The Band - I'm Just A Country Boy

Joe writes: My dad bought The Band's 1993 album Jericho at the time of release. This was its highlight and the first time I'd heard this gloriously simple song, recorded by Harry Belafonte but made famous by Don Williams. Country Boy was a posthumous inclusion on The Band's album - Richard Manuel who performs it had committed suicide in 1986.

I learnt from Wikipedia that the song was co-written by Fred Hellerman of The Weavers who was credited under the alias Fred Brooks because he'd been blacklisted in the McCarthy era.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Atomic Kitten - Whole Again as head on The Big Reunion Show

Joe writes: I have been planning a new series where I post lesser-known original versions or demos of classic songs. Then I heard Atomic Kitten singing Whole Again on TV last night in the reunion programme The Big Reunion. Also appearing are the likes of Honeyz and Liberty X. Records like End Of The Line and A Little Bit More really haven't stood the test of time, but Whole Again undoubtedly has. The song was originally written by Andy McCluskey of OMD, and Stu Kershaw. Bill Padley and Jem Godfrey then did "additional production and mix" which, on this occasion, included writing an excellent melody for the previously spoken word verses. I can't find the original spoken word version on YouTube and I probably shouldn't post it there, but if you'd like to hear it, email worldsgreatestmusic@gmail.com

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

R.I.P. - Pat Halcox

Phil writes: Pat, who died earlier in the month, was a fine trumpet player and an integral part of the great Chris Barber Band whose role in developing British blues and blues-related music is hard to exaggerate - so many great blues and gospel artists performed with them. He retired from the band few years back but he and Barber had by then set a record as the longest partnership in jazz history - 54 years. Here he is with a majestic performance of a wonderful song written by Hoagy Carmichael:


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

Phil writes: So, BBC Radio 2 has been celebrating the album and compiled a Top 100 list.  They only included one track from each artist.  Fair enough, I thought.  You could vote for the No 1.  I looked through and was astonished to see that Bowie was represented not by 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars' (which I would have voted for) but 'Let's Dance'!!!!!

The first is a unique, ground-breaking and incredibly influential album by a great artist at the peak of his form.  The second is an example of his chameleon-like ability to do lots of styles of music whilst still being Bowie very well .

Anyway, I won't go on.  Here's the whole album.  Set aside just over half an hour and if by any chance you haven't sat through it before prepare to be bowled over.

Fuse ODG feat. Tiffany - Azonto

Joe writes: I only recently heard Azonto for the first time and I'm really surprised that it hasn't crossed over yet. Maybe this summer. It's basically the Afrobeat Agadoo. Fuse ODG is a British Ghanaian rapper and I assume the beat is Ghanaian.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mindy McCready has died

Joe writes: Back in the era where major labels decided what was going to be big and, mostly, made it so, her single Oh Romeo was one of the anointed ones that didn't quite deliver (in the UK anyway, where it reached the fateful chart position of no. 41), which is surprising as it's a great pop song and something of a forerunner of Taylor Swift. It's closing line is "I would not die for you".

Shadow Morton died on Valentine's Day

Joe writes: Go to Wikipedia to read the amazing story of Shadow writing of Remember (Walking In The Sand) which was the breakthrough single for The Shangri-La's and is also my favourite single of theirs. I also learnt from Wikipedia that Billy Joel played piano on the demo.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Takura - Ponytail

Joe writes: Takura is best known as a guest vocalist with Chase & Status. He's one of those singers who can make a good song sound great, and he's also a very good songwriter. Ponytail is dark and sexy and cool and honestly sounds massive to me. 

Ruen Brothers - Aces

Joe writes: Henry and Rupert Stansall, AKA Ruen Brothers, are two brothers aged 22 and 23. One of the songs in their live set, On The Sunny Side Of Town, was written when they were around 16. I mention this to illustrate that they have been playing and writing rock 'n' roll for years - it's their passion and they're not bandwagon jumpers. However, they have undoubtedly been helped by Jake Bugg's breakthrough and the hype around The Strypes. This could be their time - as long as they don't pause until they're huge.

Fullish disclosure: I don't work with this band but I have been helping them out. Here's a track I pointed them towards which they were inspired by, Inside Looking Out by The Animals. I first heard this on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show, and Zane is now a big champion of Ruen Brothers (sometimes what goes around does come back around):

Here's a song I love, which I found out about thanks to Ruen Brothers, Lonely Weekends by Charlie Rich:

And here's Ruen Brothers' awesome breakthrough song Aces, written and produced by them:

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Joni Mitchell - The Magdalene Laundries

Phil writes:  This is a memorable and moving song which I've been prompted to post by the current focus on the Magdalene Laundries following the publication of a detailed report into these dreadful institutions.  I always meant to find out more whenever I heard the song.


introducing a new contributor to the blog

Joe writes: My brother Ben's first post, about Bob Marley, is below. Ben is two years older than me so introduced me to a lot of music from Aztec Camera to Faith No More to Lord Tanamo. He wanted to be called Worldsgreatestmusicbrother on here but he has ended up with plain old Ben Taylor.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Confrontation

Ben writes:

I was introduced to Bob Marley through the 'Legend' compilation of his top 40 hits (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_(Bob_Marley_%26_The_Wailers_album) - and though it contains some brilliant tracks, it somehow seemed twee and irritating as it was played approximately 47 times on the coach on a school wind band trip to Austria (you had to be there, I suppose).

Many years later, though, I'd come across the truly wonderful 'Roots of Reggae Vol. 3' compilation 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roots-Reggae-Vol-3-Various/dp/B00000ARCI - which will no doubt be the subject of a future post - which showed that early reggae was, well, just sublime - fun and uplifting in the way that nearly all my favourite music of the late 80s and 90s wasn't.

So when I moved into a new flat and discovered that someone had left a whole box set of Bob Marley and the Wailers, I fell upon it with some anticipation. I wasn't disappointed, though I only recently learnt that my favourite album, Confrontation, was released posthumously with a bunch of overdubbing and remixing (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confrontation_(Bob_Marley_%26_The_Wailers_album).

It's a classic album in its entirety - uplifting, inspired, political, and about liberation.

Two tracks set the tone (and should link to a whole album youtube playlist - with the added bonus that they feature the colourful, wacky, and oddly symbolic cover art of Bob with big dreads in rasta colours slaying a purple dragon)...

'Jump Nyabinghi'. Google Nyabinghi and you're straight into the fascinating world of Rastafarianism - it's a drum, a goddess, a ceremony, a spriritually posessed woman, black victory, and death to the white oppressor, all in one. Anyway, it's a great song:

Biblical/rastafrian references abound, and in another favourite, 'Chant Down Bablyon', the theme is again the destruction of 'Babylon'.

All the lyrics are worth a read - http://www.angelfire.com/fm/reggae/confro.htm - or better still, a listen.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Deacon Blue versus The Blue Nile

Joe writes: I have been thinking about Deacon Blue recently. They were my favourite band for a while, until Aztec Camera released Stray. Real Gone Kid features on a current TV advert. I recently gave their classic debut album Raintown on vinyl to a friend for his birthday then ended up discussing Deacon Blue versus The Blue Nile with another party guest. While I know The Blue Nile are great, what I loved about Deacon Blue is how ambitious they were. Ricky Ross was trying to be the Scottish Bruce Springsteen. Personally I prefer artists who aim high and fall short than those who aim lower and reach their target.

Dignity was Deacon Blue's anthem and fan favourite. It's a nice story song that held a lot of appeal for me as a teenager. Maybe Dylan or Tom Waits could have got away with it.

Here's The Blue Nile with The Downtown Lights:

Here's how Aztec Camera won my heart with the Stray album, from which came Notting Hill Blues:

When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) was Ricky trying to be the Scottish Harold Melvin. If he didn't quite get there in terms of performance, I really think he did in terms of songwriting. I'd love to hear this song covered by a true soul artist:

And for good measure and comparison, here's If You Don't Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes:

Deacon Blue also helped Bacharach & David get the appreciation they deserve with the 1990 release of the Four Bacharach & David Songs EP, which reached no. 2 in the UK chart. As well as The Look Of Love and I'll Never Fall In Love Again with Hal David's wonderful couplet rhyming "pneumonia" with "phone ya", it also brought to light a couple of lesser known B&D songs, including this Are You There (With Another Girl), as recorded by Dionne Warwick:

Finally, here's a recent live version of Dignity that I found both heart-warming and a little sad:

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Basement Jaxx - Rendez Vu

Joe writes: Dave Pearce opened his Radio 2 show with Rendezvous on Saturday night, and that's a statement that would have seemed highly unlikely ten years ago. Anyway, it reminded me how great Basement Jaxx were at their peak. I hope some of the new crop of dance artists develop to become as musically ambitious as they were on Rendez Vu and Red Alert.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Jim Croce - I Got A Name as featured on the Django Unchained soundtrack

Joe writes: Quentin Tarrantino's current focus on revenge fantasies makes for some fantastically enjoyable films, albeit without the freshness, purity or shock factor of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

In his choices of music Quentin continues to excel and I was particularly pleased to hear Jim Croce getting the Three Dog Night treatment on Django Unchained. Not only that but the version of I Got A Name on the soundtrack sounds like it was dubbed from vinyl, complete with crackle:

Here's a Jim Croce TV performance of Lovers Cross:

Sivu - Better Man Than He

Joe writes: Top notch songwriting and singing from new artist Sivu, and a great production from Charlie Andrew who did such a good job on the Alt-J album.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Darwin Deez - Free (Billy Mix)

Joe writes: Billy is a friend of mine as Jackson Browne almost sang, but notwithstanding that I really think this remix is pretty special.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tribes - Wrapped Up In A Carpet

Joe writes: This new Tribes song is so good. Channelling 1970s American soft rock is so much more enjoyable than channelling 1990s grunge (although I liked them when they did that as well). And there's a sax solo at the end!

If this had been the Bowie comeback song it would still be no. 1, especially if Bowie were singing it.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Leningrad - Billy Joel

Phil writes:  Another great Billy Joel song that slipped by me unnoticed when I was busy bringing up WGM and his brother  -  and not listening to much 'new' music:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Autre Ne Veut - Counting

Joe writes: Really like this, even though he's from Brooklyn with a name in French. The YouTube clip is audio only and can't be embedded but it's worth a visit there anyway for the top comment, which reminded me of this spoof.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Emeli Sandé - Clown

Joe writes: I have mixed feelings about Emeli Sandé but there's no denying this song which I think could be her biggest hit yet.

There are shades of Stephen Sondheim's Send In The Clowns which is obviously a big compliment.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bowie's back!

Phil writes:  An unexpected (by me) new single from Bowie, Where Are We Now?  I like it.  Had to post it:

I didn't expect it to be on YouTube yet.  As I was wondering which song to post for his birthday I heard Professor Brian Cox on the radio say, 'Is there life on Mars?' (his exact words).  It's hard to pick his best songs but this is one of his biggest and best.  Always worth a listen:

Monday, 7 January 2013

Electric Guest - Awake (Dennis Rivera Remix)

Joe writes: Great remix that's currently no. 1 on the Hype Machine. I think this could be a big hit.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance, and Aaron Neville

Joe writes: Aaron Neville has a really extraordinary voice. His first US pop hit was the wonderful Tell It Like It Is, which reached no. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1966.

He also recorded my favourite version of the song Pledging My Love, originally a hit for Johnny Ace, whose version was the first single Paul Simon ever bought according to Wikipedia (if so then it stood Simon in good stead as a primer in songwriting).

Paul Simon's song The Late Great Johnny Ace appeared on his underrated album Hearts & Bones, and here's my favourite track from that album, Train In The Distance:

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Memory of the future - Pet Shop Boys

Phil writes: If you listen to Radio 2, you'll have heard this a lot.  To me, it's got instant classic stamped all over it.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Birds by Poor Moon

Joe writes: I've been enjoying this track without knowing anything about Poor Moon. Now I've researched it and two of the members are also in Fleet Foxes which makes perfect sense.