Tagged: 60s

Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder

Earlier this week Stevie Wonder turned 64. I meant to blog about it on the day but have been feeling a bit under the weather. Anyway, better late than never, here’s a post to celebrate the birthday of, arguably, the single most important musician of the 1970s. Bowie would possibly be a close 2nd*.

Like so many of the greats his work has fallen a long way since he was at his peak, but honestly, he’s still responsible for more great music, directly and indirectly, than pretty much any musicians of the 20th Century, apart from Lennon, McCartney and a few other people.

And, with that in mind, above we have a very apt McCartney track to which, where Stevie is concerned, the answer is yes, whilst below Mr Wonder shows that he could even improve on The Beatles.

Happy birthday Stevie, long may you be with us.

Share

The Best Of The Isley Brothers

The Guardian have started an interesting new feature where they will be highlighting the ten best songs of  key artists or genres and launched it with a look at the Isley Brothers.

I always forget just how far back the Isley Brothers go, but it’s kind of incredible that the first song on the list is from 1959 and the last from 2001. What’s even more incredible is just how long they managed to keep up the quality; Shout & Testify, recorded in ’59 & ’64 respectively, are up there with the best of James Brown’s early output, whilst the likes of That Lady & Harvest For The World, from their 70s purple patch, are simply up there with the best records of that decade.

The Spotify playlist above is one that The Guardian put together but I thought it would be interesting to also pull together a video mix via Dragontape, the app that the Brownswood crew used to highlight Gilles Peterson’s favourite tracks of 2013. Which all goes to show, of course, that it doesn’t matter what type of tech you use to listen to it, it’s the music that really matters at the end of the day, whether it’s 5 months or 55 years old.

Picture: United Pentecostal Church on flickr

The picture at the top has nothing to do with The Isley Brothers. I was trying to find a picture for the word harvest (see what I did there) and this came up. How could I not use it?

Share

Every Goal Matters

It’s not as good as Channel 4′s Meet The Superheroes, but then very few ads are, but I saw another sports trailer today which is really rather good.

YouTube Preview Image

The ad, for Sky Sports, set to the Rolling Stones classic You Can’t Always Get What You Want, is made up of (what I assume is) real footage of fans at grounds around the country. As the intro, sung by the London Bach Choir (the Stones wanted to do an English version of the kind of gospel choirs that feature in a lot of songs, if I remember the anecdote from Keith Richards’ autobiography correctly), comes to an end, with that immortal like, “but if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need“, the fans all start going mad following a goal being scored.

YouTube Preview Image

Whilst there’s a lot of talk about how the Olympics means that people won’t be as interested in watching overpaid, arrogant footballers, this ad is a pretty good way of showing that, with the best will in the world, that’s a pretty naive hope. Because, as the ad says, for lots and lots of people, every goal does matter.

Share

The Monkees – Daydream Believer

First post for a long time, and I thought I’d fall back on my old friend, Hunch FM. 5th song in, was this, Daydream Believer, possibly one of the most perfect pieces of pop music ever recorded. They may have been made for TV, but The Monkees best material is an entirely different ‘product’ to the soulless pap that Simon Cowell and his minions keep churning out.

YouTube Preview Image

It’s not been long since the English member of The Monkees, Davy Jones, passed away. WHich means that rather than try to explain why this is such an amazing slice of 60s perfection, I can turn to this rather lovely tribute  by Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. In it he quotes Robert Forster of 80s band The Go-Betweens:

Whenever I think of the Monkees, it’s a sunny morning, the brightest colours, and David Jones’s eyes. Their music is perfect, as perfect as pop could ever be. Last Train to Clarksville has been written, and we are left with our own imperfection.

You could quite easily substitute Daydream Believer for Last Train To Clarksville and still agree with every word.

Monkeys by jster91 on flickr

Share

#shfl11: Jim Hendrix Experience – Gypsy Eyes

It seems quite apt that after James Brown, the next artists I should find as part of #shfl11 is Jim Hendrix. In many ways he’s been as influential as Brown, and is certainly as close to my heart as The Godfather of Soul.

On top of the fact that he rbought an entirely new dimension to rock in the late 60s, blending psychedelia, R&B and a type of guitar playing that left his peers dumb-struck (as did his chutzpah, including the time he opened a show, that Paul McCartney & George Harrison were attending, with a version of Sgt. Pepper’s, only days after it been released), he could almost be claimed as an honorary Englishman.

YouTube Preview Image

Arriving in London under the wing of Chas Chandler, Hendrix hooked up with two white Englishmen, Noel Redding & Mitch Mitchell (something that Wesley Snipes’ character refuses to accept in the movie White Men Can’t Jump) and preceded to set the world on fire. The track Gypsy Eyes, whilst not their finest work by any means, highlights why. The riff is insinuatingly addictive, the rhythm section kick up a joyful noise, that brings to mind the urban heartbeat that Crosstown Traffic so brilliantly depicted, and the whole thing blends every genre under the sun.

YouTube Preview Image

If, for some strange reason, you’ve never got into Hendrix (perhaps you were put off by the annoying use of Foxy Lady in Wayne’s World) then I’d suggest the The Essential Jimi Hendrix, which is how I first discovered the great man, and includes the classic as well as lesser known tracks such as Gypsy Eyes.

#shfl11 is a self-set challenge to write a post every day in 2011 about whatever song pops up 1st on shuffle on my iPod.

Gypsy by oliver on flickr

Share

#shfl11: The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

It’s quite apt that the latest track to pop up on my iPod as part of my plan to listen to, and write about, a random song every day in 2011 (I missed this weekend as I was travelling), is by The Beatles. Not only has it just been announced that they have racked up 5 million downloads in the 2 months since becoming available on iTunes, but whilst in London I picked up a rather lovely Beatles cushion, showing the band in their Sgt Pepper outfits.

YouTube Preview Image

When Rolling Stone listed what they believed to be the 500 best albums of all time, they put Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at number 1. But, to paraphrase John Lennon (“Is Ringo the best drummer in the world?” “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles”), Sgt Pepper’s isn’t even the best Beatles album: which album that is is something that I change my mind on most days, but Revolver would probably win out 9 times out of 10. In many ways it’s the most perfect pop album ever recorded, it has a cooler cover than Sgt Pepper’s and Tomorrow Never Knows is an absolutely perfect finale.

Fittingly for a song recorded in the Swinging London of 1966, Tomorrow Never Knows was apparently written by John Lennon under the influence of LSD. What’s for certain is that the track is a brave statement of intent by a band who were about to abandon touring to concentrate on pushing the boundaries of popular music in their Abbey Road studio. It sounds like nothing that any popular act had ever recorded before, it could be used as an aural definition of the word psychedelia and, in many ways, as far as I’m concerned, it set the stage for what would later become techno: just play Setting Sun by The Chemical Brothers back to back with Tomorrow Never Knows if you don’t believe me.

YouTube Preview Image

Anyway, there’s really nothing more than needs to be said about The Beatles, so I’ll leave you to enjoy this 20th Century masterpiece and get back to admiring my new cushion.

#shfl11 is a self-set challenge to write a post every day in 2011 about whatever song pops up 1st on shuffle on my iPod.

Share

#shfl11: Small Faces – Lazy Sunday

When you stop to think about it, it’s amazing that The Beatles ever broke America: whilst their music was, and is, quite obviously brilliant, it’s also, often, very, very British. And parochial, eccentric British rock is something our former colonial cousins have never taken to – something the Small Faces would have been able to explain more than almost anyone.

YouTube Preview Image

The Small Faces were one of the biggest drivers of the mod sound in the 60s, and their influence has been felt across the decades since their demise. Lazy Sunday perfectly encapsulates the charm of the Small faces; sung, if that’s the right word, in a blatant London accent, it veers & rolls with a life of its own. And whilst  the likes of Paul Weller, blur, and half of the Britpop era bands owe a debt to the band, they never made it in the way that they should have. In common with bands like The Kinks, they were just too British – as were their spiritual heirs, such as Weller, blur & even The Streets.

Despite this, the band that was born out of the Small Faces’ demise, The Faces, launched the career of Rod Stewart, whilst Small Faces singer Steve Marriott found fame in the US with Humble Pie. Sadly though, it didn’t ended very well for a number of the band: without the riches that came to many of their peers, and troubled by illness and other tragedies, Marriott & fellow vocalist Ronnie Lane both died far too young, with many people only recognising their brilliance after their passing.

Let’s just hope that they’re both up there somewhere now, enjoying an eternal lazy Sunday afternoon.

#shfl11 is a self-set challenge to write a post every day in 2011 about whatever song pops up 1st on shuffle on my iPod.

Lazy teenagers by Alex Murphy on flickr

Share

Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air

YouTube Preview Image

You know how sometimes a song just pops into your head and you have no idea why? I know that I once found Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach playing on my internal jukebox for a whole day, with no obvious explanation: that was a pretty bad day.

Anyway, I was just sitting here and started humming a song to myself (what can I say, the cat’s conversational skills are limited). It was a song that was used in a great British Airways ad a while back and I’d never gotten round to finding out the name of the song or the band, though I knew it well as it’s a staple of classic rock stations round the world.Well, after chucking the one line I could remember (“we’ve got to get together sooner or later”) through Google, I found that the song in question was Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman (a Pete Townshend side project apparently).

That’s it really – it’s a great song and I hope that it adds to your Sunday evening entertainment. And to go with it, why not check out Ooh La La, a classic by the Rod Stewart era Faces (though it was actually Rolling Stone to be Ronnie Wood singing rather than Stewart). For some reason I always associate Ooh La La with Something In The Air. I’ve no idea why, but I just do.

YouTube Preview Image

Faces’ Ooh La La on Amazon

Thunderclap Newman’s Hollywood Dreams (feat. Something In The Air) on Amazon

Share

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone (Live At Manchester Free Trade Hall)

YouTube Preview Image

I’m just browsing around YouTube this afternoon and, via Hendrix, The Beatles & The Rolling Stones, ended up at the amazing live version of Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan that forms the ending of the documentary No Direction Home and is available on the documentary’s soundtrack.

It was famously recorded at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1966 at the time when Dylan was receiving a lot of criticism from folk afficianados for ‘going electric‘. Just before he plays Like A Rolling Stone one ‘fan’ shouts Judas at Dylan. Dylan, obviously not happy, exhorts the band to:

Play it fucking loud!

They do. Fan is so ashamed he refuses to go public for over 30 years. Dylan wins.

Enjoy.

Share