“Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive are tied up in memory.” Nick Cave
Monday, January 31, 2022
1982 Singles # 20 Shalamar
A great year for dance music lest we forget. Shalamar were huge in the UK in 1982 with four Top Twenty hits over the course of the year, three of them Top Ten. Perhaps I didn't fully appreciate them now, having not really got into a Soul thing back then, but I do now.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,927 Lady Wray
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 7 The Fall - The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall
1982 Singles # 21 Prefab Sprout
Their first single and what a statement. Not a hit, at least not in the national charts, but still one of Prefab's greatest songs and one which immediately indicated what they would be capable of. Paddy's lyrical gifts, the romanticism, their way with special, incisive melody. A wistfulness and wisdom that seemed beyound their years, Expressing the pain McAloon felt, being apart from his girlfriend, who was studying at the University of Limoges, hence the title.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,926 Anais Mitchell
A rather lovely, nuanced record to bring down the curtain on what's been a pretty damned great month all round musically considering it's January. It's the eponymous record from Anais Mitchell, eponymous although she's a stalwart recording artist of many years now though she's probably kept it simple as she's been away for a while.
Each song here is built on the firmest foundations. Impeccable songwriting gifts, emotional drive and commitment, embracing life to the absolute full. It's theatrical in nature, not unnaturally as Mitchell has a huge Broadway success under her belt.
But it's highly musically grounded, essentially in the British and American Folk traditions. Nick Drake's riff for Northern Sky, is delightfully replicated during Revenant. Mitchell comes on as the idealised New York girlfriend, some parts Regina Spektor, some parts Suzanne Vega and the record altogether has the most radiant warmth.
Once the record establishes momentum it maintains it with easy grace. It's an album that exists in a definite tradition but its intimate respect and understanding of that tradition ticks all of the boxes you might want if you have a fondness for this thing.The formula becomes so apparent a few tracks in that perhaps it doesn't fully stay the course but listened to a few tracks at a time, it's highly impressive.
Saturday, January 29, 2022
1982 Singles # 22 Kid Creole & The Coconuts
They were perfect for the Pop party that went on during that year. Virtually the only Americans to gatecrash and they were more than welcome. Coming in from the leftfield. Chic meets the movies. Forties and Fifties New York, Miami and Havana. Just a dash of Talking Heads. Full of pop nous, humour, funk and spark. They were embraced by the Smash Hits crowd, Radio One and Top of the Pops, never really hit the jackpot in the States, largely because they were too smart, but went down an absolute storm over in the UK and Eurupe.
I could have selected either of the albums other two singles Annie or Wonderful Thing or actually pretty much anything off the record to make my point. They were all impeccable. But Stool Pigeon won by a nose. Surprisingly Kid and the Coconuts moment in the sun was relatively short lived, given that they were evidently so talented. But it was great while it lasted. Wonderful to see such suss and pep riding so high in the charts.
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 6 Duran Duran - Rio
Song(s) of the Day # 2,925 Kids on a Crime Spree
Friday, January 28, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 5 Oasis - Definitely Maybe
1982 Singles # 23 The Stranglers
Song of the Day # 2,924 Jem Bossata
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 4 Ride - Going Blank Again
1982 Singles # 24 The Jam
Song(s) of the Day # 2,923 Joe Kenkel
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 3 Blur - Parklife
Strangely, shares a Teardrops connection as David Balfe was invoved with Food Records, Blur's label and partially inspired Country Life. This record is a snapshot of the UK at a particular point in time and perhaps has not aged too well. Though some tracks still bear up.
1982 Singles # 25 The Teardrop Explodes
Teardrop Explodes had almost run their short course. Too many egos. Far too many drugs. Two fine albums, the exuberant Kilimanjaro and the reflective comedown Wilder. Several fabulous singles which brightened up the charts and daytime radio. And of course, Julian Cope.
In 1982 they put out Tiny Children. Not something that sounded like a single in any respect, fabulous and other worldly as it was. It seemed to be about the pain of the loss of the innocence of childhood if anything, hardly the stuff of Top of the Pops. Radio One DJ Mike Reid latched ont it for some reason and for a brief moment it seemed as if the airplay he gave it might push it into the Top Forty. But it stalled at # 44. Anyway, it still sounds wonderful forty years on.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,922 Eve Adams
A couple of days ago, I was half heartedly listening to a new album, as is my wont when I stuck stock still in my tracks, It was halfway through You're Not Wrong, the second track from Metal Bird by Eve Adams. I thought, this is probably the best so I've heard this year. It's familiar stuff. Adams has a voice that is all anguished, doomed romance. The sound of the human heart breaking. Karen Dalton, Hope Sandoval, Country sirens like Patsy and Emmylou. All those David Lynch soundtracks.
The rest of Metal Bird is slightly less startling and returns diminish. This is very, very well trodden terrain after all. Hey we've all seen Twin Peaks by now. Publicity pictures of Adams with her posing in front of classic fifties microphoes suggest she is being consciously and rather unimaginitively projected in this manner. Still, You're Not Wrong particularly brightened up my day. I couldn't find it to post it here, but it's worth tracking down and the rest of the record is well worth a listen too,
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Garcia Peoples - Dodging Dues
It's slightly disconcerting within twenty seconds of a 2022 record starting , to be reminded, not slightly but very strongly of prime time Jethro Tull. Or else the riff from King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man, Particularly when the band concerned, Garcia Peoples are still relatively credible.
But that was my first impression on starting to listen to False Company the opening track on Dodging Dues their sixth album just out. I confess, I thought, 'Oh bloody hell, Jethro Tull, my big brother's band.' and cast it to one side. But I'm back to give it a full listen.
It's an odd experience. Garcia Peoples are still unreasonably young, even though they've got a few records under their belts. but their musical inspiarations are as old, or sometimes older than the hills themselves. First the Tull, then The Dead, from whom they take their name, then any other long haired band who stalked the earth between about 1969 and 1973: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Allman Brothers Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Wishbone Ash. Name your own unfashionable hippie. You'll almost certainly be able to detect them somewhere on the grooves of Dodging Dues.
It's all very odd, but here comes my great confession. I like it. I'm not quite sure why anyone would really want to do this in 2022. Least of all a group of people quite as yoing as Garcia Peoples, But they do it very, very well. Every great lyrical Tolkien, Isaac Asimov and Ursula Le Guin inspired, drug addled cliche is dragged out into the light but it doesn't harm the record none at all. In fact it supplements it. There's even a song called Cassandra on here.Garcia Peoples take you back fifty years and more with effortless grace and make it seem like a very good idea. Far out.
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 2 Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
1982 Singles # 26 The Fall
Song(s) of the Day # 2,921 Yard Act
Generally, I focus my attention here on things that I like. It would seem like wasted energy to do otherwise. But I'll take a day off that on here to direct my scorn momentarily on Yard Act's debut album, The Overload, a shockngly bad record which seems to be symptomatic of much that I dislike in youthful modern British guitar music.
Yard Act would probably generally be labelled an alternative band I imagine, but in order to truly deserve to be called that you need t provide some kind of genuine alternative to the status quo. The Overload sadly does not do that. It's far too instantly familiar. Stale even.
It's this Post Punk thing. This Brixton Windmill thing that's beebn buildng up and outstaying its welcome for a couple of years now. Yard Act may not hang out at the Brixton Windmill but they might as well be. IDLES, Squid, Dry Cleaning, Black Country New Road and so on and so forth. And back from there to The Arctic Monkeys, The Fall, Jon Cooper Clarke and The Kitchen Sink Films and The Angry Young Men.
The reference points are so hackneyed now, its almost tiring to list them. Yard Act's hearts are probably in the right place. They rail against everything that is wrong with the UK, most notably conformity but all the time they're deeply, deeply conformative themselves.
I found The Overload, very difficult to listen through to all the way through. There was no light or shade. It will doubtless be greatly lauded, in fact it already has been. But frankly its really tired product.There are a few young British bands related to this scene that I care for. Goat Girl, Shame and Cool Greenhouse. But mostly it leaves me quite cold and I'll continue to look elsewhere.
Monday, January 24, 2022
Songs About People # 1,321 George Raft
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 1The Charlatans - Some Friendly
One of the musical highlights of the Covid Lockdown. Tim Burgess organised a set of Listening Parties where fans and the artists behind a series of great albums got together on Twitter to discuss the making of their records. A great set of communal experiences. Starting not inappropriately with the first Charlatans album.a fresh and hugely optomistic record.
1982 Singles # 27 Yazoo
Song(s) of the Day # 2,920 Night Crickets
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 486 Meat Loaf
1982 Singles # 28 Culture Club
In retrospect, it's easy to see how refreshing the sudden arrival of Culture Club and The Boy was in 1982. They'd had a couple of singles which no one remembers which sank like stones before Do You Really Want To Hurt Me arrived and sealed the deal. The sweetest pop confectionary. It parked itself at the top for weeks it seemed.. Follow up Time is less generally remembered but was just as impressive in its way. The revenge of Lovers Rock.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,919 Boris
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Jake Xerxes Fussell - Good & Green Again
Jake Xerxes Fussell's records are always worth a listen. He's back early in 2022 with another very good one, entitled Good & Green Again.
Fussell is a definite contender if prizes are being handed out in this respect. Good & Green Again plays its hand sraight. There's not the slightest hint of pastiche or irony of any sort. The playing with form that you get wth the likes of Will Oldham, Bill Callahan or Nick Cave.
No this is honest endeavour. Archealogical enquiry of the most loving and diligent kind. A very fine record to add to the modest pile this year has already produced.
1982 Singles # 29 Fun Boy Three
Song(s) of the Day # 2,918 Annika Norlin
Swedish pop star, journalist and author wo has just released her latest album Mentor, helpfully with a one disc of songs in Swedish and one in English.
It's very firmly mainstream stuff, which isn't really the main source of stuff I really seek out. But it's all perfectly amiable stuff and there are at least a coupleopf crackers here. You get a couple of songs in Swedish and one in English.
Friday, January 21, 2022
1982 Singles # 30 Roxy Music
Song(s) of the Day # 2,917 Hook-Ups
Another great new release I've been directed to by Darren Jones. Domestic Fantasy a new album by Hook-Ups of Oakland, California..
Full of light and cleverly constructed alternative pop.songs. Only ten tracks and nineteen minutes in total but it feels like longer because there's so much going on. Breathy vocals somewhere between Elliott and Jeff Tweedy and fascinating, between song snippets of everyday American mall life.
This is a quite wonderful, instant album that I'll be back to plenty. 2022 looking just great musically already.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
1982 Singles # 31 Pigbag
Pigbag. Fabulous! So much going on in Bristol at this point. As in every major city in England and Scotland.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,916 Wes Tirey
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Bobby Gillespie - The Tenement Kid # 17 13th Floor Elevators
1982 Singles # 32 Gregory Isaacs
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Bobby Gillespie - The Tenement Kid - # 16 Primal Scream
1982 Singles # 33 Imagination
I wasn't really on track with Soul and Pop Soul music in 1982. My focus was on the alternative bands lighting up the charts. But the Soul and R&B was around and in the charts and on reflection was pretty damned good. Imagination were a band I barely noticed then. Even though they were everywhere at the time.
They were a trio, and were huge in 1982 and fronted by the flamboyant Leee John who I remember for his big headband and big trousers. Just an Illusion was a number 2 hit in March of the year and deservedly so. It seemed designed for cheesy nightclubs and I've never been a huge one for cheesy nightclubs. But this was classy, state of the art, cheesy nightclub fare.
Song of the Day # 2,914 Japanese Heart Software
Monday, January 17, 2022
Album Reviews # 108 Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
Paul Simon is an artist who makes more sense to me the older I get. I bought Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hts for my 86 year old mother last Christmas at her request. And how wise she was to ask for it. I could easily choose any of their Sixties albums to write about their importance. The Greatest Hits are enough but it would be a shame not to investigate further.
They were saying something slightly different from any other musical artists of that particular decade. Which is why their records have endured and not dated while much music from those years seems mired in its times.
The two great gifts they brought to the table were silence and clarity. They are values that prevail. I've chosen to write about Sounds of Silence here, but you might as well listen to any of their records. Cerainly this and the one that came out a few months later in 1966, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme seem a piece and make a great single sitting listening experience.
A suite that should be listened to right the way through as as good a document of that year as any other. The records provided the musical backdrop to the following year's The Graduate, still one of my all time favourite films.
The Graduate is impossible to think of without considering the songs of these two albums. Documenting a time of general conflict and change, ( generational, political, cultural and racial), in the calmest and most rational but also empathetic way imaginable.
The Graduate says nothing specific about the latter. Neither do Simon & Garfunkel really, although it's implicitly there in both cases as the racial contradiction was at the heart of the American dilemma, then and now.
So Simon & Garfunkel sing their songs. Not necessaily for the hip, as Bob Dylan had pretty much cornered that quarter of that particular market in 1966. While Dylan asked any number of questions, went electric and left the kids to puzzle out the answers, Simon stayed mostly acoustic and when they were electric, it was quiet electric, spoke relatively clearly and seemed to say that the answers lay in contemplation, reflection and consideration rather than giving the finger to the man .
Any great artist look to speak to their times and to eternity. Simon & Garfunkel do both here. The focus from Simon in his lyrics is often biblical, generally New rather than Old Testament for the most part.Garfunkel meanwhile is the ace card. He brings the harmony.
I think Sounds of Silence is slightly the better album of the two but what does it matter. They speak of wisdom beyond the years of either of them, combined frankly. They speak of how it's more powerful sometimes to whisper than to scream, to listen rather than to speak.
There's something eternal about these records. They speak of love and ask for peace while fully expecting more war, They're the still point of the turning world and deserve to be fully appreciated .
Bobby Gillespie - The Tenement Kid - # 15 S Express
Primal Scream release their second album which makes little impact apart from getting the band together with Andrew Weatherall. A key moment in their story. They go down in terms of the priorities of Alan McGee and Creation Records. Stone Roses steal their thunder by doing what they wanted to do with Sonic Flower Groove. Life in Brighton suits them. They appreciate what Mark Moore and S Express are doing and limp / forge onwards towards Screamadelica. Their great moment of realisation.