A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Saturday, 23 February 2013

...Sings Don Gibson - Roy Orbison

A hidden gem from Orbison's commercial slide in the later sixties.  Celebrating the work of country singer/composer Don Gibson, it's simple country pop, beautifully sung.  You'll probably recognise a few of the tunes and find some gems you didn't know.  (Yes) I'm Hurting is badass, and Sweet Dreams is aching and beautiful.  Both Gibson and Orbison come out of the whole thing very well.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tesoras de Coleccion - Roberto Jordan

Roberto Jordan was a major Argentinian pop star of the 60s and 70s, and this is a greatest hits set.  For the most part he's a South American Cliff Richard, and listening to him for too long will send you mad, but there are some great Spanish covers of English language songs buried in all this.  His Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon is a gem, while his versions of various bubblegum numbers and the Box Tops' Cry Like a Baby are also worth a listen.  The fact that I know about these tracks and Quentin Tarantino probably doesn't actually makes me feel a bit powerful.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Letter to Katherine December - Jake Holmes

Jake Holmes is a fascinating figure.  A 60s Greenwich Village scene singer/songwriter, he is mostly famed for writing Dazed and Confused, a song Jimmy Page would nick for Led Zeppelin without even giving Holmes a smidgen of credit for it until a few months ago.  As well as this, he co-wrote albums for the Four Seasons and Frank Sinatra.  His songs, sounding like the bastard love-children of Richard Yates and Rod McKuen, are character-filled biting critiques of suburban life, which in the hands of these MOR artists were sold to the very people whose lives he was deeming spiritually empty.

A Letter to Katherine December is his second solo album from 1968.  Clothed in baroque-psych arrangements, it's pretty much a short story collection set to music detailing small-town life.  People go out and get drunk on Saturday night, chew the fat in the diner, and move house after a divorce, while the high school hero grows old and turns to fat.  'People who have lost all their loving die when they're told' Holmes sings at one point, and it's chilling.  Intense, rich music from an uncompromising songwriter who was somehow allowed to crash the easy listening fondue party.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Here At The Water's Edge

Soundtrack to a 1963 film documenting a boat trip round the port of New York.   And it's literally that.  The sound of a boat trip round the port of New York.  No music, except in the John Cage sense of the word.  Foghorns!  Seagulls!  Children playing!  Very restful.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Golden Decade

A multi-volume series that covers the out-of-copyright period of 1948-1957, year by year.  What puts this beyond the thousands of nostalgia collections covering this era is that it raids not just the US pop charts, but also the country and R&B ones as well.  Consequently, you can listen as all three genres work their way towards the game-changing moment when Elvis walked into Sun Studios and fused them together, with no one having a clue it was going to happen.  A bit like watching the Star Wars prequels, only, you know, good.  Having said all that, the music is not just pre-history, and much of it stands on its own merits.  I've barely scratched the surface and discovered all sorts of delights I had no idea existed.  In particular it introduced me to the genre of Western Swing, more on which later.  Obviously there is some dreck, and some novelty records of the damned, but that's inevitable with a project like this.  Someone once said before Elvis, there was nothing.  They were wrong.


The Shangri-Las and the 60s Girl Group Garage Sound

This lengthy compilation not only contains many of the legendary Shangri-Las' greatest hits, but also some incredible obscurities by lesser-known acts.  Stand-outs include: 'Melvin' by The Belles, a straight rewrite of 'Gloria' by Them so that it's now about some bloke called, um, Melvin; belly-dancing celebration 'Jelly Belly' by Nai Bonet; Robin Clark's brat anthem 'Daddy Daddy'; politically incorrect 'Dumb Head' by Ginny Arnell; Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In spin-off 'Sock It To Me' by Judy Carne, and the simply gorgeous 'Popsicles and Icicles' by The Murmaids.  Great stuff.


Slim Gaillard Rides Again - Slim Gaillard

A relatively late album by jazz eccentric Slim Gaillard, famed for his own semi-nonsensical hipster-speak.  Considered a dud by aficionados, to the non-attuned ear what stands out is the sheer outsider weirdness of Gaillard's patter.  Standards are put through his free-form thought mangler, and end up peppered with references to Ovaltine, cosmic explosions and giant potatoes being peeled with bulldozers.  Bad jazz, good music.


An Introduction to EVP

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) are, as the more Sky Living-friendly amongst you may know, mysterious voices that appear on tape recordings.  Many believe they are the voices of the dead.  There are other more boring explanations such as stray radio transmissions and mis-identification of ambient noise, but let us not dwell on these here.  This is a collection of EVP recordings by Raymond Cass, who, we are told, has since been diverted from his collecting of EVPs by 'wine, women and song'.  Hear the dead say things like 'put it on ice and I'll mend your feet' and 'where's Mable'!'  Even Elvis and Philip Larkin get in on the act.  And be sure to stick around until the end to hear the source of a very famous sample.


Celebrity Commercials of the 1950s & 1960s

 Do you fancy a 'great shake'?  No?  Well, by the time Dusty Springfield, the Yardbirds and the Spencer Davis Group are finished with you, you will!  Also, Tom Jones sells you Coke, Frank Sinatra sells you shampoo and Iron Butterfly sell you deodorant.  Also, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin swear profusely.  All in all, it puts John Lydon's butter advert into some perspective.


What is the point of this blog?

The rock writer Lester Bangs used to fantasize that he had a library containing all the records ever made.  Music streaming service Spotify is not such a thing, (there are, for example, gaping holes in the 'Beatles' and 'Pink Floyd' sections) but it is more than enough to be getting on with.  Over the past few years I have chanced across numerous things by accident when searching for something else.  Some of these things were quite interesting, at least to my ears, and so I filed them away in case I should ever need them.  That moment has now come.  I unleash them here, for you.