On Friday Absolute Radio announced the result of its song of the decade vote: shockingly the top 10 doesn’t include the Arctic Monkeys, Strokes or White Stripes but does include two songs each by The Killers & Snow Patrol, a sign that whilst the station may be excellent, the average Absolute Radio listener gets most of their musical taste from the latest copy of Now That’s What I Call Indie. Oh well.
Anyway, in order to prove that this decade should be remembered for more than some sell-out Scottish Coldplay wannabes and a half-decent American 80s British indie tribute band, I thought I’d note down the albums that have made the last ten years such a musical treasure trove. As always, these are in no particular order.
- Paul Weller – 22 Dreams: Whilst, like most double albums, it would have benefited from a bit of judicious editing, this was still one of the finest albums Weller has produced in years. In fact, with its wide-ranging eclecticism & its towering sense of a man ageing yet still having an unparalleled love for music, 22 Dreams is simply one of the best records Weller has ever made.
- Common – Be: Kanye West may have been, along with his mentor Jay-Z, the man who stole all the spotlight in terms of noughties hip-hop, but his best work was often as a producer. Like a 21st Century Gil Scott Heron, on Be Common blended soul, funk and a stridently political view of the world to amazing effect.
- José James – The Dreamer: Anyone who says that jazz is dead clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but if you’re determined to prove them wrong then give them anything by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions or their Brownswood label-mate José James. He brought a hip-hop swagger to his take on classically cool piano-led jazz. With the voice of an angel, James may well be one of the most exciting discoveries of the noughties.
- The Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: Talking of exciting discoveries, the Arctics burst onto the music scene like a fresh Yorkshire breeze. From the dead-pan intro to the video for their début, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (“We’re t’Arctic Monkeys, this is I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Don’t believe the hype.”), to their scathing take on British bands thinking they were Californian (whatever happened to The Thrills?), they showed that they were more interested in making amazing rock music than matching any passing fads.
- Tuomo – My Thing: Sounds like stone-cold perfect 60s/70s era-American soul. Actually written & performed by a ginger guy from Finland in 2007. So perfect it probably shouldn’t be allowed.
- Marc Mac Presents Visioneers – Dirty Old Hip Hop: Better known for his role as part of hardcore & drum & bass pioneers 4hero, Dirty Old Hip Hop could well end up being Marc Mac’s best ever work. It basically takes classic hip hop tracks, and tracks famously sampled for hip hop records, and recreates them with a lush live soul band. The cover of Pharcyde’s Runnin’ is just one track that now sounds better to me than the original.
- Ohmega Watts – The Find: Like a mix of Visioneers & Common, Ohmega Watts, on splendid independent US label Ubiquity, used soul samples that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early-90s golden-era track with ryhmes that avoided all the nasty rap cliches. Good old-fashioned, pure party music, this deserved to be huge. Obviously it wasn’t.
- Radiohead – In Rainbows: Whilst Kid A may be getting most of the end of the decade plaudits, personally I prefer Radiohead when their biggest experiments are saved for their retail mechanism and they remember that there’s nothing wrong with a tune. Blended the avant garde spirit of OK Computer with the stone-cold tunes of The Bends.
- Amy Winehouse – Back To Black: Her 1st album was a lovely blend of old-time jazz vocals and hip-hop sass & beats. Her 2nd, produced by soon-to-be über-producer Mark Ronson, jumped forward, providing a 21st Century slant on the Motown girl-groups of the 60s. And, as with her first, Winehouse’s amazing voice was used to catalogue her ‘interesting’ private life. Unfortunately it was soon anything but to be private and I think we all wish she had gone to rehab. Whether she’s release anything as good as this in the next ten years, or even releases anything at all, we” always have this amazing record of being a young woman in the noughties.
- The Strokes – Is This It: If the title of this album was a question, the answer looking back from 2010 would probably have to be yes. Whilst they seemed poised to take over the world they never really equalled the brilliance of their début, but what a début it was: drenched with New York cool, it married the stripped down sound of The Velvet Underground with a glamour that was very un-indie. Did for the US what the Arctics did for the UK.
- Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night: They started the decade being written off as a southern Strokes, but ended it as, arguably, the biggest and best rock band in the world. As with so many American acts they first found an audience in Europe, and especially the UK. And the years of touring their first three albums were apparent in the perfectly pitched and incredibly tight tunes on Only By The Night.
- Omar – Sing (If You Want It): Briefly famous in the acid jazz days of the 90s, Omar resurfaced in the noughties with a beautiful album of modern British soul. The album reeks of London, blending as it does sounds & styles from around the world, a fitting tribute to the most multicultural of cities. It’s also one of the few albums to feature a Stevie Wonder duet that doesn’t sound like it’s been phoned in.
- Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid: The band everyone wanted to succeed finally did. Their rendition of One Day Like This became the defining song of Glastonbury 2008, the album won the Mercury and now we all await their next record with bated breath. An achingly lovely record which could only have been born in Britain, and with a lead-singer who wouldn’t have made it past the auditions on the bland production line that is the X Factor.
- Ty – Closer: Prior to Dizzee Rascal’s take-over of the charts, Roots Manuva was probably the highest profile British rapper. But whilst his music was often dense and claustrophobic that of his protege Ty was soulful & full of melody. That’s not to say that he was any less serious, his rhymes covered every topic imaginable, but did so with an infectious joie de vivre. How this album wasn’t massive, superior as it is to any number of huge selling American hip hop albums, I really don’t know.
- Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes: A stunning record that brought to mind everything from Gregorian chants to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s classic Deja Vu, this is the perfect winter record and manes expectations are very high indeed for their follow-up next year.
- Jazzanova – Of All The Things: Jazzanova are best known as producers of high quality electronic dance music, but on the showing of this record, they’re even better at producing organic 21st Century soul. With a stellar line-up of contributors from the world of contemporary music, every song on this record sounds like a single and is a pleasure from start to finish.
- Zero 7 – Simple Things: dismissed as mere Air copycats, they’re so much better than that. Obviously huge fans of soul producer Charles Stepney, this oh-so laid back album positively drips with strings, which act as a perfect backdrop for the lush vocals of the various contributors. Just because the swathe of ‘chill-out’ albums that came in the wake of Simple Things were mostly shit, doesn’t mean that we should discard this great record along with them.
- Norah Jones – Come Away With Me: Another record that has suffered because of the pale imitations that have followed it, Jones’ début was a delightful blend of jazz & country, and her stunning voice became a staple on Radio 2. But that doesn’t mean the record isn’t amazing.
- The Streets – Everything Is Borrowed: His first album perfectly caught a moment in time and defined a genre just as it outgrew it, his second was hailed as a modern equivalent to Shakespeare and, in Dry Your Eyes, spawned a Wonderwall-size hit, his third was shit but his fourth, with its move to a more organic sound, and intensely personal lyrics, was his finest. Apparently his fifth will be his last, I really hope it’s not.
- Kanye West – Late Registration: After nearly losing his life in a car crash (as he never bores of telling us) Kanye’s debut was a miracle of some sorts. Not just because it actually got made, but also because it saw a mainstream black rapper admitting to being human, rather than spitting out the same old boring ‘guns & hos’ rhymes. Jesus Walks is massive, Through The Wire touching and All Falls Down just plain brilliant.
- Gomez – How We Operate: Most people probably think the one-time Mercury winners have long-since disbanded. In fact they’ve gone from strength to strength, quietly ploughing their own furrow of intelligent, eclectic rock. This album is the perfect demonstration of this, packed as it is with sunny melodies and wistful vocals. Unsung heroes.
- Jamie Lidell – Jim: Lidell was probably signed by Warp because he was a geek creator of weird electronica. They can’t have expected him to turn into the best producer of blue-eyed soul the decade has seen. He sings like he went to church with Otis Redding but looks like he went to Reading Polytechnic.
- Nitin Sawhiney – London Undersound: Apparently this record was Sawhiney’s musical response to the London bombings of July 2005 and the events that followed them. If so, it’s the perfect response to the religious fanatics who try to rule us with fear, being as it is an example & celebration of the beauty that secular multiculturalism has to offer.
- J.A.M. – Just A Maestro: In their ‘day-job’ they make up half of experimental Japanese ‘death jazz’ band Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. But with their splinter group J.A.M., they’ve produced a record more consistent, and more listenable, than anything by the Pimps. It might be slightly more mainstream, but it’s still modern jazz of immaculate quality and would be enough to get a corpse dancing.
- Estelle – Shine: After being unfairly ignored by the, border-line racist, British music industry, Estelle went to the US to be produced & mentored by John Legend. She had a worldwide smash with American Boy but also produced an album that should be compulsory listening for the likes of Beyonce, Leona Lewis & Simon Cowell, who generally seem to think that R&B has to be bland. Catchy but still intelligent, this is a great modern pop record.
Well, there you go. I’m sure that I’ll think of some more, and there are probably a load you think I’ve missed. But
2010 image by Doug8888 on flickr
So, when Absolute Radio announced their quest to find the best songs of the decade, I said that I found it hard to pick any. Well, I’ve changed my mind, thanks to some inter-office discussions (ending in this playlist) and listening to a lot of stuff from the last ten years. Like this.
And so, without further ado, here are my Best Songs Of The Decade – I should add that these are simply my favourite songs – I don’t claim that they’ve necessarily defined the Zeitgeist or anything like that, I just really like them. Oh, and they’re not in any particular order.
- Amy Winehouse – Rehab: Not my favourite song off of Back To Black, but this song, and the singer, have certainly defined the last few years. And, along with Lily Allen’s début album, is the reason that Mark Ronson has the career he does now. And on that note…
- Lily Allen – LDN: Maybe it’s because I moved there in 2000, and find myself moving back there in 2009, but London has (again) loomed over this decade, just as it did in the 60s & 90s. And Lily Allen blended genres just as London mixes cultures, and came up with an absolute belter, with a little help from that man Ronson.
- Mark Ronson – Just: Valerie is the one that really got him the fame (and royalties) but his cover of Radiohead’s 90s indie classic, for an album of Radiohead covers, is simply wonderful. The ‘indie tune with brass’ thing still seemed fresh then, and the video was rather wicked too.
- The Strokes – Someday: Making rock cool again, The Strokes channelled The Stooges & The Velvet Underground whilst looking like they’d been spawned by specially reared supermodels (most of them probably had): they’ve not lived up to expectations since then, but by clearing the path for the likes of Kings of Leon, they’ve earned their spot here.
- Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody: It may not be cool anymore in these days of firework bands, who explode onto the scene and then disappear from sight (see above), but the Kings Of Leon spent the decade tirelessly touring the globe, building a devoted European following, whilst slowly improving their music. It led to them owning the last couple of years with Sex On Fire and this, Sex’s more pared down, moody brother.
- Radiohead – Weird Fishes: They spent the early part of the decade experimenting with electronica, but then decided to shake up the recording industry by giving away In Rainbows, which also happened to be their best album in years. And this was the best song from a very strong set.
- Arctic Monkeys – I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor: To show how quickly times have moved on since this stormed to the top of the charts, but just think about the fact that the Arctics were lauded for their use of MySpace (something the band always denied). Whatever the case, they were like a British Strokes, making rock cool again. Except that, if anything, their second album was even better that their début.
- Sebastien Tellier – La Ritournelle: This track can only be described as a French Unfinished Sympathy, with the (several minute long) piano intro alone being worthy of inclusion on this list. The word epic is one that is over-used in music reviews, but is just about the only word that truly does justice to this track.
- LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends: As if being the mentor for the early 90s New York punk-funk scene, James Murphy also found the time to create amazing music as LCD Soundsystem. He’ll probably be best remembered for Daft Punk Is Playing At My House but for cataloguing the terror of ageing for music loving hipsters, All My Friends has no peer. And it reminds me of Marquee Moon by Television.
- Amerie – 1 Thing: Beyoncé may have had her boyfriend rapping on Crazy In Love, causing many people to laud it as the greatest R&B record of the decade but, for me at least, this takes that title. Like Crazy In Love it’s a product of Rich Harrison. With that awesome Meters sample it’s still a song that could be used to test whether people are medically dead, because if this doesn’t make you want to dance, there’s something seriously wrong with you.
- Coldplay – Everything’s Not Lost: Though they were famously derided as making ‘bedwetters’ music‘ (no Alan, they just made music for people not overwhelmed by admiration for one trick pony Beatles wannabes) and have followed an Oasis like trajectory where quality of output is directly inverse to their popularity, there’s no doubt that Coldplay’s debut Parachutes was bloody good or that this, it’s epic closing track, is pretty hard to beat. They’d never have had a career without Travis though.
- Travis – Driftwood: It may seem hard to believe now, but in the early years of this decade Travis were poised for greatness. Their album, The Man Who, had swept the UK and they were poised to do the same to the rest of the world. Then their drummer broke his back and the career had to be put on hold. In the meantime Coldplay took their formula of gentle indie music and sold it to the world. Driftwood is a nice reminder of exactly why Travis were the men who nearly did.
- Common – Go!: Kanye West is probably one of the biggest musical phenomenons to come out of the last ten years, but much of his best work has been his productions for other people. This, a track from Common’s amazing Be, is a brilliantly up-tempo paean to what can only be described as an interesting love-life. But, being Common, it lacks any of the lazy misogyny that blights so much other hip hop.
- Aqualung – Strange & Beautiful: Plucked from obscurity thanks to this beautifully understated track being used as the soundtrack to a lovely VW ad, Aqualung is viewed in the UK as a 1-hit wonder. Apparently he’s done pretty well in the US, thanks to his tracks being used in popular dramas, but this is the one that whisks me back to a time when I couldn’t imagine being 30, let alone approaching my mid-30s. Ho hum.
- Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind: 22 Dreams is Weller’s best album for years (in fact it’s just one of the best albums for years) and this is one of the many amazing tracks on it. For a man who will never see his forties again he sounds fresher & more full of life than artists half his age. A national treasure, this goes to show why he’s one of the best British artists of the last few decades.
- Gorillaz – Feels Good Inc: Talking of the best British artists of the last 30 years, Damon Albarn’s reinvention of himself since 2000 has been amazing. His ability to invent the ultimate rock-band and then use this vehicle to produce cutting edge 21st Century pop with collaborators such as De La Soul has even seen his nemesis Noel Gallagher expressing admiration. The début was made with uber-producer of the time, Dan The Automator but the the follow-up, including this track, was a collaboration with the even more ubiquitous Danger Mouse.
- Gnarls Barkley – Crazy: Fresh from conquering the world with Gorillaz, Danger Mouse created another ‘virtual band’ (of a sort) when he teamed up with Cee-Lo (the man who, by writing Don’t Cha, gave us The Pussycat Dolls – I’m not sure if he should be shot or sainted). This was their biggest hit and, despite being a look at mental illness set to a thundering beat, is an absolute belter.
- Zero 7 – Destiny: Chill-out, and the dreadful coffee-table CDs it gave us, has thankfully fallen out of fashion. But, as with most fads, it produced some amazing music. Zero 7′s début Simple Things was one such record; for me it was the soundtrack to countless summer holidays and never fails to make me think of Mediterranean sunsets and chilled white wine, which is no bad thing at all.
- Jamie Cullum – Frontin’: Another fad that swept the decade was jazz-lite, as exemplified by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Madeleine Peyroux & Jamie Cullum. It was an unfair tag as they all had their moments and for Cullum his greatest moment was this inspired cover of Pharrell’s stripped down hip-hop classic.
- N*E*R*D – Provider: As with Kanye, Pharrell Williams nearly always saved his best work for other people. Having said that, Provider is a truly fantastic track: raw 21st Century soul which lacks much of the bombast that spoils so much of N*E*R*D’s other work. A true classic and one which Zero 7 did a rather lovely remix of.
- Snoop Dogg – Beautiful: If you needed proof that Pharrell was always very generous with his genius (for a hefty fee, of course) then I give you Beautiful. It more or less reignited Snoop’s career as well as featuring a fantastic Brazilian drumming break-down. Oh, and it also demonstrates Pharrell’s other stroke of genius – insisting he feature in the video for just about every track he produces, thereby getting paid by others to build his profile ready to launch his solo career & clothing range (which he wore in most videos) – pity he didn’t keep some of the best tracks for himself.
- The Streets – Weak Become Heroes: Mike Skinner managed to encapsulate UK garage just as he was outgrowing it (much like Dizzee & grime). There are a bunch of his tracks that could figure on any Best Of The Noughties list, but this one, with its craving for the more innocent early days of the UK house scene is one that will always be close to my heart, and not just because it was the focus of one of my first ever posts.
- Ben Westbeech – So Good Today: One of the best aspects of the noughties as far as I’ve been concerned has been the return of Gilles Peterson to the position of record label owner. This was the 1st single released on Brownswood and remains one of its best releases to date. I really don’t think I could ever get bored of its fantastic simplicity, though I’m still disappointed that his album, though great, didn’t live up to So Good Today’s promise. Not something that can be said of all the artists on Brownswood Recordings though…
- José James – The Dreamer: Another début single from Brownswood, this featured on the first Brownswood Bubblers compilation and is, like much of James’ work, simply stunning. Classic jazz delivered with a hip-hop attitude the single and the album of the same name it came from should be must-haves for any discerning music lover. Here’s hoping the next ten years sees him develop a career of sustained quality.
As I write this I keep thinking of more I could add but I’ve decided that, like all good things, this post needs to come to an end. I think I’ve shown what a good few years it’s been for music, even if nothing has really had the over-whelming cultural significance of house, punk, hip-hop or even the New Romantics. But maybe that’s just a sign of these splintered, multi-media times that we’ve lived through. Whatever the case, I’d love to hear which tracks you think I’ve missed – maybe this one?
Over to you, and I’ll see you in 2010 (if not before) when we can start working out what the hell we’re going to call the next decade.
Whilst some people crave a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, for many the way they know they’ve made it is when they get their own pair of trainers.
Well, with the release of the limited edition Nike Airs that he’s designed, Dizzee Rascal can take comfort in the fact that he has definitely arrived. Especially as he’s already had his own trainers before although I don’t think those ones went on general sale.
Then again, with only 200 pairs of the Tongue & Cheek Nike Airs up for grabs at the brand’s 1948 London store, one could argue that these are barely up for sale either. That said, anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a pair can take comfort in the fact that, as well as looking supremely fresh, they’ll also be supporting a deserving cause: all the proceeds from the trainers go to Tower Hamlets’ Summer University.
Photo from Clash.
After years of being critically acclaimed but ignored by the mainstream (a situation similar to that described by The Roots in Act Too with the line “when we perform it’s just coffee shop chicks & white dudes”) Dizzee rascal has obviously decided that he likes the kind of success and attention that came with his cross-over smash Dance Wiv Me. Because his new singleis another stomping slice of techno & house, this time provided by dance God Armand Van Helden, with the grime element stripped down to Dizzee’s rhymes.
If the YouTube Cannes Lion competition made me want to be 27, this track makes me wish I was 19 again: able to go out all night without worrying about a hangover and with no thought of going home early so that I can get up early the next day to mow the lawn. With its screaming acid squelch, military drumming on the build-up, wicked scratching and viscious break-down Dizzee’s new track is absolutely storming.
Which is why it’s so annoying that the name is so shit. Bonkers? Really? Is the next single going to be called Plonker, or Wally? Oh well, nevermind.
And, as it’s Armand Van Helden that Dizzee’s chosen to collaborate with, and because Dizzee’s early sound can be traced directly from the speed garage scene of the 90s, let me leave you with Van Helden’s amazing Tori Amos remix that defined that scene for millions of people. It’s gotta be big!
Rave lights by Delfi’s World [In Focus] on flickr
I’ve just been flicking through the crap that makes up Saturday TV when I came across one of these interminable ’50 Best (insert genre here)’ shows on 4music. Except that this particular show was being presented by our next Prime minister, Dizzee Rascal, and was made up of the best team-ups. Being Dizzee, it has a hip-hop bent, and when he played the remix of M.O.P.’s Ante Up which features Busta Rhymes, it almost had me jumping up & down on the sofa.
Yeah, yeah, yeah (or something)!
And if, like me, you couldn’t stop wondering what the horn sample in Ante Up is taken from, it turns out that it’s from the Sam & Dave track Soul Sister, Brown Sugar. So now you know!
UPDATE: I’ve just been sent this rather wonderful mash-up of old footage of Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street and Ante Up. Puppets in da hizzouse!
Brown sugar image by aaron13251 on flickr
I was going to call this post the best singles of 2008 but living as we do in the age of iTunes, I’m just not sure how relevant singles are these days. That said, I’ve tried to restrict my choices for the Best Songs of 2008 to tracks that weren’t only released on albums. However, seeing as I haven’t listened to the charts for about 10 years, with some of them I’m just assuming that they were single releases.
Anyway, here they are (in no particular order – I keep regretting the order I put the top albums of 2008 in):
- Estelle feat. Kanye West – American Boy: Estelle moved to America to record with John Legend and became friends with Kanye West. They made a hip-hop/house record to try to teach John about dance music. It rocks and is probably the best track of 2008.
- The Streets – The Escapist: Mike Skinner decided not to bother with a proper video to The Escapist, the first single from Everything Is Borrowed. Instead he walked to the South of France and created the perfect visual accompaniment for his beautiful Brockney* gospel.
- Elbow – One Day Like This: Just like when Travis played Why Does It Always Rain On Me at Glastonbury in 1999 only for it to start raining, Elbow’s performance of One Day Like this saw the sun come out from behind the clouds to make for a truly amazing performance. Already an iconic song.
- Wiley – Wearing My Rolex: After me, “normally drink, normally dance, normally bubble…Next thing I know she’s wearing my Rolex”. One of those tracks that start entire trends, Wearing My Rolex was what I believe the kids refer to as a monster choon, with Wylie finally cracking the big-time with a blend of grime and dirty house.
- Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me: As with Wylie, Dizzee moved into the big league in 2008 when he hooked himself up with some serious dance backing. One of the catchiest tracks of the year and hopefully one that won’t prove to me Dizzee’s biggest ever hit.
- Funkagenda & Mark Knight – Man With The Red Face: A week in Ibiza was too long and it really was ridiculously expensive but there were several excellent things I brought back with me. One was the memory of being at Bora Bora when the horns kicked in on this cover of Laurent Garnier’s Man With The Red Face, seeing the whole place going nuts, and looking out to the beach & realising that it was only late afternoon & on a normal Friday I still would have been at work. Priceless.
- Baby Charles – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor: One of the other great things about Ibiza was sitting by the pool of the impossibly cool Hotel Es Vive and listening to the great daytime DJs. One of them played this amazing funk cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ debut singleand my day was made.
- Public Enemy vs DJ Zinc – 138 Noise (Wicked Devil Bootleg): This hasn’t even been released yet and so will probably end up being one of the biggest tunes of 2009. That doesn’t change the fact that Wicked Devil’s awesome techno/rap mashup is one of my favourite tracks of the last few months.
- Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire: I hated this single at first but, just like the album it comes from, Sex On Fire has ended up being one of the records of 2008. Nuff said.
- Jamie Lidell – Another Day: Jamie Liddel’s album is an amazing blend of soul, techno, jazz & hip hop beats. And this track gets it off to a barn-storming start.
- Adele – Chasing Pavements: She definitely isn’t the new Amy Winehouse (something she never claimed to be) but my God has the girl got a voice. The album can get a bit one-dimensional, but Chasing Pavements is pretty special.
- The Courteneers – Not Nineteen Forever: Basically just another indie band, but with Not Nineteen Forever The Courteneers made something very special indeed: powerful & wistful all at the same time.
- N*E*R*D – Everyone Nose: “All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom, all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom, all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom.”
- Erykah Badu – Soldier: Ms Badu blends a sharp beat, lovely woodwind backing and her amazing vocals to great effect. I just wish she’d allow the (amazing) video on YouTube.
- J.A.M. feat José James – Jazzy Joint: Possibly the best thing that José James or Soil & “Pimp” Sessions (the band that the members of J.A.M. normally play with), Jazzy Joint is exactly what it says on the tin. Impossibly jazzy I hear this and find it very difficult to keep my feet still: quite embarrassing on the 7.52 to Waterloo as I’m sure you can imagine.
- Charlie Dark & Roger Robinson – Prayer For Angry Young Men: Charlie Dark is a genius (as well as a true gent) and this track, which I found via Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Bubblers 3, only goes to prove that fact. It’s little more than a repeated horn section, a clattering beat and a spoken word rap on the various lost youths of 21st Century Britain. And it’s one of the most powerful tracks to have been released for years.
- Chase & Status feat. Kano – Against All Odds: Blaring horns, raging beats and Kano spitting his lyrics over the top: another tune to prove that grime stars seem to shine more when paired with up-tempo tracks.
- Vampire Weekend – A Punk: I may have written about a different Vampire Weekend track but that was because the video was so perfect. A Punk however is the perfect example of Vampire Weekend’s blend of preppy rock & African rhythms. Impossibly catchy.
- Jeff Buckley – Halleljuah: I know it originally came out years ago but it was the Christmas number 2, and should have been the Christmas number 1. Beautiful.
- Friendly Fires – Paris: I keep describing this band as being like a younger, British LCD Soundsystem. And if that’s the case, then this is their All My Friends.
- Paul Weller – Have You Made Up Your Mind: I could have picked about half of the tracks from 22 Dreams to feature in this list but I think this is probably my favourite: it’s tender, beautiful and full of confidence, truly 2008 was Paul Weller’s year.
*Brockney = my new made-up word for a Brummie with a slight Cockney accent.
Image of an American boy by bobster1985 on flickr
As I’ve mentioned before I can’t stand any of the major breakfast DJs so have my car stereo tuned to Radio 4 (I find listening to news of the world’s imminent collapse on Today much less annoying than even 30 seconds of Chris Moyles). However if I get home after 7 I find that I’ve missed the excellent PM show and whilst I may be slipping gently into my 30s I’m not yet prepared to listen to The Archers and so I occasionally turn back to Radio 1.
Last time I did I discovered, courtesy of the slightly annoying Zane Lowe, 138 Noise and tonight Mr Lowe came up trumps again. This time the track that got me jigging in my car in a manner which really isn’t appropriate for a man nearer to 40 than 20 was Against All Odds by Chase & Status, with grime star Kano supplying the vocals. As with other recent cross-over hits by grime artists (and I have no doubt that it will be a hit) such as Wearing My Rolex & Dance Wiv Me, it sees these (undoubtedly talented) British rappers drop the rather down-beat personas they often portray on record for something a lot more upbeat.
And whilst I’m all in favour of artists keeping it real & telling it like it is, if it’s a choice between listening to another slow, slightly depressing grime opus, or a bit of old-school hip-hop, with a very funky (drummer) beat, some neat samples and great rhymes, I’ll take the latter any day of the week. And if it gives Kano the recognition he deserves, but has failed to gain despite numerous awards, then I hope that the British public do too.
Paxman – Do you believe in political parties in Britain
Rascal – Yeah, they exist, I believe in them. I don’t know if I care
Paxman – Well why don’t you run for office?
Rascal – See, that’s a very good idea, I might have to do that one day still. Dizzee Rascal for Prime Minister!
I want to be able to vote for Dizzee in the next election!
I think he’d make an amazing politician, but in the meantime let’s see him do what he does best – flex!
Courtesy of Chungaiz, comes this track from The Brighton Port Authority (BPA) which appears to be a new band from Fatboy Slim (AKA ex-Housemartin Norman Cook). It features David Byrne on vocals (who seems to be doing all his best work as a guest vocalist on house tracks these days) as well as a great little rap from Dizzee Rascal.
As Chungaiz points out, it sounds like vintage Fatboy Slim. The video is also pretty cool – I especially like it when the black bars blocking out the naughty bits of the dancers make a shape in their own right. And I also like the elaborate back-story that Cook has built up around the band. To quote from their MySpace blog:
In September 2007 a Brighton mystery was finally solved. While rumours had long been rife, few were sure if the shadowy musical project known as The Brighton Port Authority really existed. Proof of their recorded output was only confirmed when a cardboard box of dusty reel-to-reel tapes was found during the development of a Brighton dockside warehouse.
Sounds like the A-Team of big beat to me…