I think I might have more versions of “Am The Same Girl?” than almost any other song. I have the 1968 original by Barbara Acklin, the instrumental version by Young-Holt Unlimited called “Soulful Strut”, and the covers by Dusty Springfield (my favourite version) and Swing Out Sister which was the biggest hit of them all. According to the Wiki page about the song there are lots more out there too.
I also have this one by French singer Séverine from 1969. While I don’t think it’s quite as good as any of the above, it’s always a treat to hear a familiar song in a foreign language. It gives you a whole new way of hearing it and pretty much everything sounds better in French.
Download: Je Suis Bien La Meme – Séverine (mp3)
Anna Wise is the vocalist in a band called Sonnymoon but became more widely known (and won a Grammy) for singing on Kendrick Lamar’s last couple of albums.
Her first solo release, a mini-album (or is it a long EP?) called The Feminine: Act I, is a concept record about misogyny and gender inequality that’s fun and danceable thanks to terrific electronic pop-R&B tunes like the above. Listen to the whole thing here.
I watched the terrific documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix last week and it reminded me what a riveting live performer she was. That voice of hers was spellbinding even when she was in one of her dark moods and spent more time berating the audience than singing. I wonder how she would have handled a modern audience taking photos and videos with their phones while she was performing.
The World’s Famous Supreme Team are, um, world famous for bringing Hip-Hop culture and scratching to the masses for the first time with Malcolm McLaren on “Buffalo Gals” in 1982.
Their 1984 single “Hey DJ” sounds like another stab at mainstream success with its glossy production by Stephen Hague who’d go on to work with New Order and Pet Shop Boys. It wasn’t a hit though which is a surprise as it’s Mobdro catchy as hell and has a good groove.
I posted this image on Twitter last week and it got 91 retweets and 130 likes, by far the most popular tweet I’ve ever had. Not exactly Kim Kardashian numbers but good enough for me. The only thing I know about the photo is it was taken by none other than Linda McCartney in 1977 but I have no idea where.
I don’t need to tell you clever people that what makes this photo so interesting and retweetable is the poster on the right advertising the concert Joe Strummer went to that led him to write possibly The Clash’s best single. That list of names is virtually a chorus of the song.
Sadly, not only is Joe Strummer no longer with us but the Palais is gone too. In place of the legendary venue where my parents met and I saw so many great gigs now stands luxury student flats with a swanky 24-hour gym. There’s probably a song in that too.
Download: Happiness Is My Desire – Leroy Smart (mp3)
Download: Once Upon A Time – Delroy Wilson
Download: Is It Because I’m Black? – Ken Boothe (mp3)
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down are a San Francisco band led by singer/guitarist Thao Nguyen. I’m not familiar with her previous work but apparently her latest (and fourth) album A Man Alive represents a shift away from her previous Indie-folk sound into more groove-driven music.
Produced by Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, the beats are thumping and bassy which makes for a visceral-sounding record. It also has a ragged, primitive edge and off-kilter vocals that reminds me of the more tribal and female end of Post-Punk.
Terrific stuff. Highly recommended.
I’ve posted some great live clips here over the years and this is one of the best. This is from the 1985 American Music Awards and I think that’s The Revolution playing with her but I’m not 100% sure.
I’ve written before about my mother liking Rod Stewart but sadly preferring his later 1970s output when he seemed to have left his talent and taste in another pair of trousers. Because of that she owned a lot of rubbish by him — I bought her his Blondes Have More Fun album for Xmas in 1978 — but “Farewell” is a terrific single from 1974 when he was right on the cusp of losing it and my favorite of the ones she had. Though it was a Top 10 hit it’s one of his lesser-known ones and doesn’t crop up on compilations which is a shame as I think it’s a great record.
This was from his poorly-received Smiler album which was the last one he made before jetting off to live in Los Angeles tax exile with Britt Ekland. I don’t know if that was on his mind when he wrote a song about leaving home for glamourous foreign cities but, not only is the subject matter somewhat on the nose, it’s also one of his last records to have the mandolin-driven, Celtic sound that made his previous ones so distinctive and brilliant. So it sounds like he’s saying goodbye to the old Rod in more ways than one. It was a long way down from here.
Download: Farewell – Rod Stewart (mp3)
If Sunday was the worst time for television, the best was probably Thursday night because that was when Top of The Pops was on. At 7:20pm the nation’s youth gathered excitedly in front of the set to watch their pop heroes while their parents made snarky comments about them like “Is that a boy or girl?” It was the one show we all watched and talked about at school the next morning.
If you’re roughly the same age as me this record will bring those nights back like a Proustian biscuit because it was the TOTP theme music from 1970 to 1977 and probably still the one most associated with the show.
CCS (short for Collective Consciousness Society — heavy, man) were a group of session musicians led by Alexis Korner and produced by Mickie Most. I’m probably not the only one who knew their instrumental version of “Whole Lotta Love” for years before I ever heard the original.
It may anger the Rock Gods to say it, but I prefer this to the Led Zeppelin version. Having a flute instead of Robert Plant’s tight-trousered moaning helps it be less of a thrusting Cock Rock record. With that riff it can’t help but sound sexy, but with the brass and Hammond organ it sounds more go-go groovy and designed for Pan’s People to shake their hips to while wearing silver hot pants.
Download: Whole Lotta Love – CCS (mp3)
Being a child of the Punk years I’m dubious about the idea that rock singers are poets, much less seers and gurus which the Hippies seemed to think about anyone who could string a sentence together. So I can’t tell you if Dylan “deserved” to win the Nobel Prize for Literature or not, but I do know that this is fucking rocking.
Next year’s lifetime achievement Grammy should go to Philip Roth.