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 ( - 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 - 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

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 - - 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.