Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Best of The Crimea and The Crocketts

Joe writes: The Crocketts built a dedicated live following but there was something slightly comedic about them (not least their name, as their singer was called Davey), which I felt held them back. But they did have one wonderful song, Mrs Playing Dead. Its opening lines are almost perfect: "It's not every afternoon that you walk into a bar" (I always thought it should be "a room") "and I look at a woman and I know I'm gonna love her all of my life".

Next came The Crimea, who featured two members of The Crocketts - singer and songwriter Davey Macmanus and drummer Owen Hopkin. They were a serious band with a serious name which was partly a reaction to the comedic element I mentioned earlier. I stumbled across them by chance at In The City (a now-defunct music industry conference which gave many bands early opportunities). Their gig was shambolic but I thought songs like Baby Boom and Bombay Sapphire Coma were literate yet anthemic, with the most wonderful extended melodies, and lyrics that pinpointed the male psyche like no-one else. They became the first signing to my publishing company and the first band I worked closely with.

There was a time when every relevant Radio 1 specialist DJ was a fan of theirs, including John Peel and Zane Lowe. Then they signed to Warner Bros US and disappeared to the US to remake their album (which, in retrospect, was unnecessary). By the time they returned home, their moment at Radio 1 had passed, never to return.

After leaving Warner Bros, they made headlines around the world by giving their second album away for free online, but they didn't manage to capitalise on that moment in the spotlight, nor on a TV ad for the most commercial track on that album, Loop The Loop.

Like The Crocketts, they built a loyal fanbase without truly breaking, and I'm still hurting about that, but at least they left behind some wonderful, unique music:

There's one Crimea song you should hear that isn't on Spotify et al - Six Shoulders Six Stone, wherein Davey's girlfriend dies from anorexia. It's hard for me to be objective about The Crimea so I will you leave you to decide whether this is brilliant or uncomfortable or both. It's definitely brave:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Best of Laura Marling

Joe writes: I know lots of people love Laura Marling's debut album but I didn't get it at the time and, as you'll guess from this playlist, I still don't. But from the second album onwards, she became one of my favourite artists. For me she just gets better and better. She's one of very few contemporary artists who I feel could have stood shoulder to shoulder with the folk rock greats of the early seventies.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Greywind - Afterthoughts

Joe writes: Greywind are an Irish rock band and their tune Afterthoughts is a total standout for me. The vocal really cuts through, the song is good, and the video shows them on the cusp between the endearing enthusiasm of a new band of amateurs and a group with worldwide potential.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Bobby Charles - Small Town Talk

Joe writes: I'd never heard Small Town Talk until this year and now I've heard it twice, most recently chosen by Baxter Dury when he was a guest on my new favourite radio show - Cerys Matthews on 6 Music.

The whistle on the intro, the way the vocal is slightly behind the vocal, the horns, the laid back feel throughout... Sadly, they don't make them like this anymore.

You can hear that Baxter has taken some inspiration from Small Town Talk and he said his dad Ian was a big fan too.

Rick Danko from The Band wrote the song with Bobby, who appeared at The Band's Last Waltz concert.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cris Cab - When We Were Young (and Mika and Whipping Boy)

Joe writes: Listening to When We Were Young for the first time was a nerve wracking experience - would it be as brilliant as it promised from the start? They should have used more of the Mr Wendal vocal part that comes in at 47 seconds, but there are so many great parts. Almost brilliant.  

This isn't on Cris Cab's debut album but it is on an early EP and it's available for download on his Facebook.

The guitar riff reminds me of my favourite Mika track. I could never understand why this wasn't huge; Mika was never huge again.

And I couldn't post a song called When We Were Young without remembering another track that should have been much bigger - When We Were Young by Whipping Boy.

Oh and here's Mr Wendall: