Funky President

After reading this article about the Rare Groove club scene in 1980s London I spent a while listening to some old favourites from those happy days. That scene introduced me to so many great records like this much-sampled gem from 1973 which has no relevance in 2018 at all, no sir.

Download: Impeach The President – The Honey Drippers (mp3)


The Lost City

I know a fair bit about the history of pop but I’m not a trainspotter about it like some people. That could be why until recently I had no idea that Tapestry wasn’t the first album Carole King recorded after leaving New York and settling in Laurel Canyon. Before her epochal solo debut she made the 1968 album Now That Everything’s Been Said as part of a trio called The City which was reissued a couple of years ago after decades as a lost rarity.

Sound-wise it sits in a real sweet spot between the Brill Building pop she’d been writing before and the more naturalistic vibe of her solo albums. It’s packed full of great tunes but shockingly wasn’t a success (King had stage fright and didn’t want to go on the road to promote it) and was the only album the group made. But I guess if it had done well we wouldn’t have got Tapestry so, you know, silver lining.

This track is a Carole King/Gerry Goffin song that was first recorded by The Byrds but I prefer this version because it’s more soulful.

Download: Wasn’t Born To Follow – The City (mp3)

I Got A Ding-A-Ling

I think I’ve said before that the 70s were the golden age of the novelty hit. Most were dreadful of course but I did and still do enjoy some of them, like this one. A big hit in 1977, “Telephone Man” has more saucy double entendres than an entire Carry On film script, and a goofy charm which I find hard to resist.

Meri Wilson tried to repeat this success with a follow-up single called “Peter the Meter Reader” but this was her only hit. You can only capture this kind of silly magic once.

Download: Telephone Man – Meri Wilson (mp3)

Teenage Dreams Are Hard to Beat

Unless you’re one of those sad YouTube commenters lamenting how music was so much better before you were born, you probably have a deep attachment to the music of your teenage years and will defend it with a passion beyond reason — when people say it was rubbish it feels like they’re attacking your very youth.

It turns out there might be a biological explanation for that. There was an article in the New York Times a few months ago that studied Spotify data to examine why people like certain music. By cross-referencing the ages of listeners with their musical choices the writer deduced that the most important ages for boys in forming their adult tastes was 13-16 and for girls it was 11-14, with the peak years being 14 and 13 respectively. Apparently anything that happens a year earlier to girls than to boys at that age points to one thing: puberty. Yes, your hormones are to blame.

This is hardly shocking news because, as I’m sure you all remember, being a teenager is an emotionally intense time that leaves a mark. With your hormones going ping! you feel everything more strongly and obsessively, and are more sensitive to outside influences. But while it’s not surprising, it is interesting to have some actual data to back that up when it comes to music even if it’s fairly minimal.

Another interesting thing is that, for both sexes, our early 20s are half as influential as our early teens in determining our adult musical tastes. This is when a lot of us leave home, go to college, or get our first job, and being with new people and new ideas also has a big effect. So trying to like Jazz or difficult Post-Punk to appear hip at college does make a difference to what you listen to years later.

One thing to remember before you shout “What rubbish!” is that most of you reading this are serious music nerds who do things like memorize b-sides and sleeve notes so are not normal people. We’re outliers, not like your average punter who still only likes the same type of music he did at 16. We all have friends like that and we love them, but imagine your musical tastes being stuck at that age — he said while listening to ELO.

This is a song St. Vincent cut from her self-titled fourth album that ended up on the soundtrack to the TV show Girls instead. For a “reject” it really is quite wonderful.

Download: Teenage Talk – St. Vincent (mp3)

New Monday

Avant-dance chanteuse Róisín Murphy is releasing a series of four double-sided 12″ singles over the next few months. The first one “All My Dreams” is terrific and comes with a brilliant video directed by Róisín herself. She’s already proven herself to be as creative behind the camera as she is in the studio and this one is no exception. If you’ve even been to a Rave or just got off your nut and lost in the music at a club this should bring back memories.

Physical versions of the singles are only available through The Vinyl Factory which means they’re more than a bit pricey, but thankfully are also streaming and for sale digitally at a price you won’t need to sell a kidney to afford.

We’re Not Happy

I used to own a copy of this record but had completely forgotten it existed until I came across it on the information superhighway the other week. This has happened a few times now and makes me wonder if I should be hypnotized to have my subconscious searched for more. Who knows what other gems are lurking in the dark depths of my memory hole.

TV21 were a Scottish Post-Punk band who had the promise but not the hits and broke up after just the one album in 1981. That one album is decent enough but, like The Sound, I think they probably weren’t different enough to stand out in that crowded year.

I am surprised this single wasn’t a hit though, it has a massive hook and a fist-pumping beat, but maybe it just sounded too much like The Teardrops Explodes.

Download: Snakes and Ladders – TV21 (mp3)

Leave My Melons Alone

If you watched British television in the 1970s the chances are beauty-spotted singer Anita Harris would appear at some point. She was always popping up on shows like Morecambe and Wise, The Good Old Days, David Nixon, and even Basil Brush, usually doing a skit or a song. When she wasn’t on the telly she was usually starring in a panto somewhere and was even in a couple of Carry On films.

Before becoming a pillar of Light Entertainment television and dabbling in acting, Anita did have a recording career and her 1966 debut album Somebody’s In My Orchard is a real curio, a sort of concept album with all the songs revolving around the theme of fruits and vegetables — beat that, Pete Townsend!

The jazzy title track is a bizarre tale of a woman out to get the man who is stealing her, um, lovely produce. I’m assuming that lines like “Picking at my plum tree”, “Somebody’s sneaking melons”, and “Looking at all my walnuts” are all saucy sexual innuendo, but why does she want to get her gun and shoot this guy who “grabbed those goodies”? The original of the song is American and I know that’s how they do things, but is something darker going on behind all the nudge-nudge wink-wink?

Download: Somebody’s In My Orchard – Anita Harris (mp3)

I can’t vouch for the rest of the album because tracks are hard to come by online, but it might be worth buying just for the cover.