Firstly, an appeal on behalf of the ragged edge of my sanity:
As a tiny part of a huge blogging community, it would be lovely if those of you who still have Hotmail addresses could stop giving out your passwords to all and sundry, or at least change them once in a while. I don’t get a huge amount of comments here from real people (and I’m grateful for all the ones I get and welcome even more), but I do get a fair amount of spam which is not usually a problem – only lately I’m getting hundreds of spam comments every day at the moment, all from Hotmail addresses. And they’re only up to the “D”s. This is almost as annoying as those dozens of sexy ladies who keep following me on Twitter and who then turn out not to be sexy ladies at all.
Also, this is actually last Sunday’s, due to Spotify managing to eat almost two years’ worth of Sunday Whatever playlists (including this one – and yep, this site is almost two years old…) and I couldn’t be bothered starting again. Thankfully – and like an incident in my tiny youth involving a wooden bead off my mum’s favourite necklace of the time, my nose, and a period of about four weeks – they’ve all since worked themselves loose and I have them back again so everyone’s happy. With the possible exception of my mum.
Air – Sonic Armada
It’s somewhat fitting that on this album that accompanies their rescoring of A Trip To The Moon, this particular track seems to be accompanied by something that sounds like a lone Clanger around the 2:45 mark. The rest of the song is almost quaint in its approach to sci-fi: lots of antique synth sounds alongside a military drumbeat and laid back bass, combining to create something that wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to (to give it it’s full title, Japanese pedantry fans) Space Legend Ulysses 31. Love it.
ZZ Top – LA Grange
If there’s a better good-time drinking song than this, then I don’t want to know. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie because I’d love to know if there’s a better good-time drinking song than this as it’d be lovely to have yet another excuse etc. Best drum bit in the world at 1:10, mood-enhancing “a-haaw-haaw-haaaw”s at the drop of a hat and a riff throughout that is so simple and comfortable that the band could build anything they want on it and frequently do.
Limbomaniacs – Maniac
It’s probably not unfair to say that the Limbomaniacs should have been rather huge in the 1990s, and probably would have been if their lyrics hadn’t been (for the most part) so cringingly childish. When they had a bit more purpose about them though, they were awesome as with this track. Drawing samples extensively from 1976 classic Network (note to people operating News Channels now: Network was a satire about how bad reportage could get when editorial opinion and desire for profit is introduced to a media where Fact is all-important. It’s not a “How to…” instructional vid), it takes its musical and lyrical cues from the film and creates something angry and special. If only they’d done more of this sort of angry and inventive rock/hip-hop melding, rather than the likes of Butt-Funkin’ and The Toilet’s Flooded…
Alan Hawkshaw – Soul Organ Impromptu
Britons of a certain vintage! You may not necessarily be familiar with the name of Alan Hawkshaw, but by crikey you’ll have heard his work. TV themes for Grange Hill (and again for Give Us A Clue), Grandstand, the Channel 4 News and (yes!) Dave Allen At Large sit happily on his CV, as well as the Man From Milk Tray adverts and the Countdown clock. In addition to this (and session work with a huge list stretching from Serge Gainsbourg to Des O’Connor), he knocked up a vast array of library music for KPM which mostly comprises deliciously funky Hammond Organ-with-orchestra classics that sound like they belong in very late-night smoky jazz clubs or as the soundtrack to very audacious burglaries. This gem sounds like both.
Wolf People – Banks of Sweet Dundee Pt.2
Education alert! And a welcome tip of the kilt to England’s Wolf People with their tale of the beginnings of the 17th Century Jacobite rebellion, coming across as authentically-folky in the first half and authentically early-Sabbath in the second. All in all, much more fun than that 4th verse of our National Anthem that we’re not allowed to sing anymore. Not that anyone knows any verse other than the first one anyway.
Small Faces – Song of a Baker
The liner notes to Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake are very strange with regard to this particular song. Describing it as “[Ronnie] Lane’s” song despite the Marriott/Lane co-credit and making casual mention to Sufi origins, it is then pretty much dismissed in favour of more “interesting” songs on this wonderful record. Yes, it’s a song about making bread and it does get slightly (and unfairly) overlooked among the other classics contained here (being directly followed by Lazy Sunday certainly doesn’t help its cause). But it’s one of those rare songs that involves the entire band as everyone gets to be part of this without anyone having to wait their turn. A song that basically extols the virtues of self-sufficiency a whole decade before The Good Life, Song of a Baker reminds a post-war generation that sometimes the simple things are all one needs for nourishment. And all tied up with that bassline at 1:50, without which the Screaming Trees would maybe have been a completely different-sounding band indeed.
Black Whales – Books On Tape
The Sun came out this week! So it’s back out with the summery songs. It’s gone away again now, but the brighter playlists are still out, with this band firmly on top of them. The Black Whales are purveyors of decade-straddling jangly pop tunes with just that little sprinkling of cynical knowingness as so well provided by the likes of the Bunnymen and Commotions in days of yore to appeal to even grumpy sods such as myself.
John Martyn – Dreams By the Sea
I must admit that I’m kind of just starting to get to grips with John Martyn – which is something of a monumental task! I’m loving this track at the moment because it sounds exactly unlike what I thought he’d sound like. Expecting a rowdy yet gentle folk/blues collection, there’s sinister electric proto-Twilight Singers numbers such as I’d Rather Be The Devil and this darkly funky number that seems to have been deliberately misleadingly-titled.
Bionic – Theme For a Young Lion
The final track from their last album (2007’s Black Blood, possibly the best Queens Of The Stone Age album that QOTSA never made), dedicated in part to Voivod’s late lamented Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, this song chugs along quite happily on the back of a syncopated riff with lyrics that are largely indecipherable (no huge surprise given ex-Doughboy Jonathan Cummins’ delight in curious lyrics and wonderfully bizarre song titles), before launching into an extended coda that is at first incredibly moving thanks to its chorus and the passion behind its delivery, and then huge and spacey – offering a bit of a wink towards Jet Phil and Michel Langevin of Kosmos, the song’s other two dedicatees. If indeed this was Bionic’s swansong (they seem to have dropped off the radar, with Jonathan last spotted on the last Besnard Lakes album), it’s a great one.
John Grant – Chicken Bones
Not chosen for the fact that it has the best swearing in a chorus in musical history and swearing still makes me laugh (I’m 41, everyone!), but because it’s a song that explores the daily existence of an addict in a surprisingly honest and self-comical way that verges on parody. Helped along by a Midlake performance that is well in on the joke, the cheerful self-loathing strangeness of this song is only matched by the accompanying video.