Heard a remix on a magazine cover mixtape, tracked down the original. Should have bought the whole album then, which I have since done. The change in tone from the big beefy beaty beginning and the floating midsection gets me right there.
Big beat (ugh, remember that?), reverbed pulses, extra-crunchy acid, and a breathtakingly peaceful middle section (taken from another track on the album, and stretched to full track length in the remix by Spiritualized (Electric Mainline).
Today’s pop pick: Parts and Labor – ‘Satellites’. Today’s nomination: Dr James Kneale
Couldn’t really do this without nominating a BBO partner-in-crime, could I? This track was one of the first I grabbed on the advice of the fellas, back when I was living alone in San Diego.
It starts with what sounds like a ZX Spectrum loading, then comes the guitars, then the synths, then the vocals with some nice harmonies. Then it keeps building, and the key goes up and up and up, and the synth returns, and the whole thing grinds away and fades. The lyrics are poetic and surreal, and remind me of Haruki Murakami (probably because of the “wind up bird” thing). A trip.
Today’s pop pick: The Wonder Stuff – ‘On The Ropes’. Today’s nomination: Emma-Jane Berridge.
The Wonder Stuff are a funny lot. I liked their first album when I heard it years later. ‘Hup’ passed me by. I was a student when that bloody cow song came out, and while I joined in and danced and puked Newkie Brown at the time, I could stand to never hear it again. After that it was all quirky time signatures, fiddles and plaid suits, no thank you very much.
So then this came out, and I missed it at first. It took an old friend putting it on a mixtape and sending it to me in Switzerland when I was there to learn a shitty SCADA package for me to notice it, and it became a firm favorite. It’s a rollicking good tune, and the lyrics grabbed me – a little bit “tortured artist”, but that’s OK. It hit the spot at the right time.
Today’s pop pick: Roots Manuva – ‘Witness (1 Hope)’. Today I nominate Alex Schmidt-Arkin.
I don’t listen to much hip-hop, and certainly not much UK hip-hop – it’s just not for me, really. But this is fantastic, both in the instrumentation and lyrics. Roots grew up in Streatham in South London, and is seen triumphantly returning to his primary school in the video above. I lived in Streatham for a while, so while I can’t say I understand his background or experiences, I do have that tiny connection.
I “discovered” this by accident. I don’t know how it got on my iPod, but I was on the elliptical at the gym in San Francisco, and this song came on and was the perfect speed and style. When I got home, I looked it up, and was charmed to see Roots exercising in the same way, before winning all the sports day activities he had failed at when he was a schoolboy, claiming the trophy, and roaring off in his Ferrari. I like the sound of it, and the lyrics blending Jamaican patois (“Let go me ting, duppy, let go me hand“) and London geezer (“Breakneck speed we drown ten pints of bitter“). Good one.
Today’s pop pick: The Walker Brothers – ‘No Regrets’. Today’s nomination: Mira Vogel
You see it’s this kind of thing that makes me almost sad that I’ve not had much in the way of true romantic heartbreak or loss. To be able to legitimately identify with this song and this sentiment would be a privilege. In the absence of that, I can at least sing it in the car.
Then there’s the instrumentation. The string chords that accompany the start of the second verse (about 1:40 into the above) get me right there. I’m a sucker for a good pedal steel, of course. And the final almost-incongruous guitar solo sounds like after all the reasonableness of the lyrics, there is a very unhappy and angry person performing. Fantastic.
Today’s pop pick: Echo and the Bunnymen – ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’
That repeating one-note phrase! That harp! Duke McCool’s voice! That ethnic flute/pipes sound that got used a lot around then (research tells me it’s a Shakuhachi!)!
I got into this lot when I would listen to my brother’s copy of ‘Ocean Rain’. Then this came out and it was a legit hit. For some reason I remember it playing on the radio while my bro worked on his go-kart in the garage. Then of course thanks to Robin, the KLF and that episode of Rock Family Trees I got into the whole Liverpool/Eric’s scene from around 1980. Still into it all now.
Today’s nomination: Aforementioned bro Simon Petty
Today’s pop pick: The Advisory Circle – ‘Now Ends The Beginning’
Another one-note bassline! If my Mum was around, she would say this sounded like the theme from Chariots of Fire, and it would be ruined for me.
Ghost Box records. Very British, very pseudo-nostalgic, very post-hauntological. Wonderful art direction.
This track reminds me of riding the Tube from Heathrow into London in the snow, savoring the feel of being back in the Old Country for the first time in years. It needs green and white hills and weather, but even without them, for example driving on the Sheikh Khalifa highway in a dust storm in a rented Corolla, it can still be effective.
After clamoring to be included in this thing, and after talking about posting videos in another post, it’s time to actually do it, and the advantage of doing it on WordPress is that I can set them up to post in advance, and it won’t chew into my LeechBlock allowance in Facebook.
So here we go.
I don’t know what it is about this song. My brother gave me a tape of this album in about 1986, and I played it constantly. I think it’s the combination of keyboards and guitars, simple melodies. That middle bit is incredible. I’m not much of a vocals person now, but then at least I would (try to) sing along. I played the tape at a house party I held at the time, and no-one liked it. I recall the Sisters of Mercy taking its place on the deck. Fair enough I suppose.