OK, besides listening to those 11 “new” Floyd bootlegs, I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to my playlist of the year – a Spotify tradition since 1965 (check my profile). I may snoop around other people’s playlists for a week or two, but as far as I’m concerned, my work trying to find new music to fathom in 2021 is done. Turns out, at 107 songs long, this is the smallest of these playlists for three years. But it’s also one of the best. I honestly think I’ll be playing these songs for many years to come, and there’ll be very few that I look at in March and think: where ever did I dig that old shit out from? The big question, though, is whether it will beat last year’s record of 27 followers on Spotify. If you want six-and-a-half hours of pop bangers, askew indie, poppers o’clock dance and nu-pub rock in your life, then please like, share, comment etc. And, as ever, I’d love to know what I’ve missed; your own favourites could yet make the cut.
OK, well it’s actually 50 years old – from November 1971 – and I’d imagine in bootleg circles it’s not very new at all. What is unusual is that this recording from Quebec City has made it on to Spotify. It’s not part of the band’s Early Years or Immersion series of releases. It’s the original bootleg. I’ll be honest: although this is my favourite period for the band, this isn’t the best recording or show. It seems a little slow (either the band are lethargic or it’s the way it was mastered), and the four songs featured – Embryo, Fat Old Sun, One of These Days and Echoes – can all be heard in more pristine form on the Paris Theatre recordings from earlier in the year. Still there are slight difference here and there, and it’s a great pleasure to spend an atmospheric hour in the company of these recordings. Apologies if anyone’s posted about this already; I literally just found it today. But I’d click now if I were you, because it’s also likely to be gone tomorrow.
With the usual apologies for only showing my face when I want to get … oooh, 11 likes on one of my playlists, I’ve got another for you which I feel could completely divide the Massive.
If you’ve got a spare seven hours, I honestly think this is my best work on Spotify so far. Ever heard an 80s banger and wished they still made them like that? Well, of course, they do. The kids appreciate that era more than we do. Just last week I was one of only two old folk dancing to I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston at a party – we were outnumbered by 11-year-olds who knew every word. So here we have a bunch of 80s favourites, paired with contemporary songs that sound “a bit 80s”. It’s not an exact science: some songs I just chose because I liked them, while others … let’s just say I needed Glasvegas to get Simple Minds in there.
For years I went along with the rock-critic orthodoxy that the 80s was “the decade that taste forgot”. Now I wish that more music would Be More 80s: eccentric crooners, massive snare sounds, exuberant, untutored embrace » Continue Reading.
A couple of weeks ago, about the same time as I resolved to get rid of my CDs, I set about another task I’d been meaning to do for some time: assembling a bunch of my favourite country-tinged tunes on Spotify. As they started to accumulate in the one playlist, I pondered: why not make it chronological, then I can easily add new songs when I hear them, and keep it current? Then I told myself: no need to be quite so anal, and executed a few tweaks which made it not strictly chronological but ensured that everything flows.
Further tinkering ensued when I realised that I had no idea what actually happened to country-rock between about 1977-1984, and figuring it might be jarring to go from the Eagles to, say, Green on Red, went down a rabbit hole to look for more tunes. I also noticed that my knowledge around the start was a bit lacking – didn’t Gene Clark invent this stuff? But he listened to Dylan – so I added some songs to the beginning, many of which, you’ll notice, come from two compilations: Bakersfield Rebels and Tuff’n’Stringy, both of which are a little short on » Continue Reading.
I’m pleased to say that I have refreshed and rebooted my Spotify comp The End of the Innocence, the soundtrack to my over-earnest late 80s. You may be be amused to find that this was my idea of what constituted cool rock in the era of sitting in my parents’ caravan for long afternoons listening to the Stereo Sequence, idly doing my art homework waiting for No Limits to come on, or playing pool at my mate Parky’s house, trying to convince him that Jason & the Scorchers were better than the Smiths.
It’s a world away from NME and John Peel’s notions of ‘cool’ at the time, and so precocious you’d swear I went to grammar school, but it also serves as an alternative 80s, and proof that not all heritage acts completely lost it in this period. So fasten your piano tie, fire up the Fairlight, and set drums to ‘gated’: this is the End of the Innocence. Would be nice to hear your thoughts and memories of this period when AOR briefly ruled the Radio 1 airwaves.
The other day, I was playing our 11-year-old some Giant Sand. “Who’s this?” he asked. “Only the greatest unsung rock’n’roll band of them all,” I told him. He then asked what I meant by “unsung”, and I told him that Giant Sand had only 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and how I’d go to see them in the 90s and seem to recognise everyone in the crowd. My friend Al introduced me to them, via an article in Richard Norris’s mag Strange Things Are Happening, and for a while it seemed the people who turned up at their gigs were offshoots from the family tree of folk who’d read that article; I can’t remember NME or the radio going anywhere near them.
It wasn’t always easy. I remember a gig at the Mean Fiddler going so badly that Juliana Hatfield refused to go onstage with them; there were boos from the beery lads who wanted the disco to start. But how could you not love a band whose approach to guitar was so wayward that they consulted on the Bill & Ted films to show them how not to play? An act who responded to members leaving by recording as » Continue Reading.
I bow to no one in my appreciation of The Who. The way they took the same base materials of R&B as the Stones, Them et al, but used them to create something mythical and existential is nothing short of heroic. They were a uniquely powerful live band and I admire the way they’ve persevered and tried to find something new to say.
However, since A Quick One While He’s Away, Pete Townshend just hasn’t been able to resist the urge to compose something more “important” than rock’n’roll. So far, there’s been the rock operas, Tommy and Quadrophenia, the abandoned multimedia epic Lifehouse, The Iron Man (a musical), White City (a novel), Psychoderelict (a radio play) and Endless Wire (also a musical). Have any of these endeavours been truly satisfactory? I like bits from all of them, but none as much as, say, Who’s Next.
I guess what I’m saying is: can you point me in the direction of a Who (old or new) that’s cerebral but not attempting to be part of some operatic arc? My current Spotify best-of has got a respectable 76 songs on, but I’m sure there is stuff I’ve overlooked (I only recently heard » Continue Reading.
Here’s a Spotify work in progress that I figured you were just the people who could help me with. It started when I noticed that Serpentine by Can shared a similar sound palette to Wish You Were Here and Animals. Listening to a podcast about Hawkwind, a similar case was made for their track City of Lagoon (and I think David Gilmour may have been present when it was recorded). So who else deployed similar analogue synths, stately guitars, greasy bass and that uniquely floppy drumming? Obviously there are many sides to the band, and my favourite era is pre-Dark Side, but I’ll take all submissions, including related solo stuff if it’s on Spotify. I’m less interested in the modern prog bands such as Airbag and Porcupine Tree, who sound too obviously to be paying tribute. In some ways, the more interesting stuff is that which shares the sound somewhat inadvertently such as the Beach Boys’ Steamboat (check those Echoes guitars). And at this early stage I’m surprised just how many Alan Parsons and Gong songs sound like the Floyd; I’d really like to whittle it down to the best ones.
Hello campers. I could spend this opening par apologising for only being an Afterword stalker and posting when I’ve got a Spotify playlist for you but … oops, I did it again.
So, my best of 2020, then: there will always be those who say this was they year that nothing happened, or who quite understandably used the threat of a world pandemic as cover to slink into the cosy arms of nostalgia. But, really, it was a pretty good year for new music (I know that’s what I always say). What’s that, you want evidence? Well, handily, like MasterChef when it was good, I’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested one heck of a lot of pop music while working from home. And, although admittedly there is still nearly seven hours of it here, this is genuinely the good shit; I’ve had to snip and prune like Kim Wilde on khat to get it to a manageable 111 songs (that’s nine fewer than last year, list fans).
So, 2020, then: there will always be those who say it was they year that nothing happened, or who quite understandably used the threat of a world pandemic as cover to slink into » Continue Reading.
Now this, surely, is a job for the Afterword. The other day I found a treasure trove of old Radio Caroline shows on Mixcloud. However, they were mainly from the 60s and 70s. I have fond memories of the mid-80s and switching over from Janice Long or Richard Skinner to Caroline on 963 medium wave.
At the time it was sharing the frequency with Rafio Monique. And between the two stations handing over to one another, it would broadcast an hour of sponsored evangelical content. Fortunately, at 9pm, this would give way to – in my mind – a great mix of US college rock (REM, the Del Fuegos), rubbing shoulders with the tuneful end of UK indie, plus the kind of classic rock (Mountain, Kansas) you’d expect from Caroline. That plus the ship’s bell ringing on the hour and cryptic mentions of Living Awareness and the Caroline Roadshow whose extensive itinerary never seemed to stretch beyond Essex.
My question is: does anyone remember who the mid 80s nighttime DJs were? Were the shows as good as I remember? Did anyone anywhere record any? And if not, should we build up an imagined mid 80s nighttime Caroline playlist on Spotify » Continue Reading.
A friend posting on Twitter yesterday about how a certain Del Amitri song sounded like a lost work by Teenage Fanclub reminded me that I used to have a compilation of songs that could only be called Fanclubesque. What qualities am I looking for in such a song? Well a certain combination of jangle and slouch, plus harmonies and a non-specific melancholy. So, I’ve tried to rebuild it in Spotify. It runs vaguely chronologically but, really, it’s all one song. It also contains a handful of songs they’ve covered and a couple of theirs done by other artists. If you don’t like Teenage Fanclub, it’s probably not for you. And you’re dead to me anyway.
Much as I enjoy my massive Spotify Neil Young playlist, it is a little unwieldy at over eight hours long. So, this week I’ve attempted to tame the beast and create a series of Neil compilations.
I’ve decided that four playlists is the answer, all of 10 songs each to stop things getting out of hand again.
I’ve assembled what I think are the top 10 Neil songs (acoustic), the top 10 electric, the top 10 vaguely commercial ones that will play well in the car without annoying anyone, and a live top 10 based on his many and variable live albums (ie nothing off Earth).
Does anyone want to see what I came up with, or do you want to get on with sharing yours? Honestly, it’s a public service. These concise compilations ate a handy way of enjoying Neil Young all over again.
Look, it’s going to be a long night. We all know it’s going to be a good seven hours until the business end of this election. So why not skip the pundits and treat your ears to my best of the year, an Afterword tradition since at least 2014. A good year, I think. Let me know if there’s anything that I have overlooked. And, hey, if the country is to go down the shitpipe tonight, at least we’ve still got pop music.
So, Pitchfork has just published its writers’ top 200 songs of the decade. A few other AW-friendly scribes such as Dorian Lynskey have also got onboard, posting their own lists. Never one to miss an opportunity to post a Spotify playlist, here is mine. Definitely a golden era for proper pop songs, although I suspect I’ve forgotten a lot of album tracks. Anyone else wanna share?
Okay, I’m back with an another exhaustive Spotify playlist. This one started out life because one of my wife’s co-workers really liked Indiana Wants Me by R Dean Taylor and wanted to hear “more songs like that”. What I took that to mean was early 70s pop, heavy on the harmonies and melodramatics, perhaps evoking the daytime Radio 1 and 2 playlists.
For no real reason, the playlist has since taken onboard some “serious” songs, long efforts by Traffic and Elton John. But, for the most part, this a place for songs such as Me And You And A Dog Named Boo or Gypsies Tramps And Thieves, the kind of turntable hits that demographic shifts mean you will never hear on the radio these days.
So, has anyone go some suggestions for songs that would sit happily among these Teachers, Learners And Incense Burners? Let’s get a bit Bob Stanley, and celebrate the 70s radio of our imagination.
With the usual apologies for not posting enough over the last 12 months, I thought that I would nonetheless respect tradition and post my top songs of the year here. It’s been a very good 12 months, I think, with no fewer than 106 songs making the cut, which completists will note is exactly the same amount as last year. If you look for me on Spotify (I’m Thehorse1), you’ll see that I’ve got playlists like this going back to before Spotify was invented and indeed before I was born. A quick hover over the lot tells us that 1965 has six followers, 1967 and 1970 a paltry two, 1995 a nostalgic eight, and 2014 an unfeasibly generous 18. Please listen, comment, fillet and gut, and share your own best-ofs.
After numerous conversations in our office about why you don’t hear Mark Lamarr these days (see the weekend’s news, sadly), I got to thinking about all the music shows that have shaped my tastes. So here they are in broadly chronological order, and I’d be interested to read yours.
John Peel, BBC Radio 1 The Friday Rock Show, Thomas “The” Vance, BBC Radio 1 On the Wire, Steve Barker, BBC Radio Lancashire The Stereo Sequence, Johnnie Walker/Roger Scott, BBC Radio 1 Persons unknown, late nights, Radio Caroline* Out on Blue Six, Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 1 Mark Radcliffe late weeknights, BBC Radio 1 Solid Steel, Coldcut, BBC Radio London Ross Allen, BBC Radio London Sean Rowley, BBC Radio London James Addyman, BBC Radio Leeds Downtown Soulville, Mr Fine Wine, WFMU Mark Lamarr’s Alternative 60s, BBC Radio 2 Sounds of the 60s, Brian Matthews BBC Radio 2 Rob Da Bank, BBC Radio 1 Pete Paphides, Soho Radio If There’s Hell Below, Rob Morgan and Callum Eckersley, podcast
* Re Radio Caroline, in among the wayward MW reception and Loving Awareness stuff, this was briefly the place to hear hip US bands of the mid 80s (REM, Lone Justice, Del Fuegos, Del » Continue Reading.
Remember a few months back when that mega Spotify playlist of influences on the new Arctic Monkeys album emerged, and it was considerably more interesting than the record? The track that seemed to elicit more interest was Looking For You by Nino Ferrer. Imagine my surprise when I heard that enigmatic object of exotic desire played on daytime radio this summer in France. It was like Ken Bruce spinning Stereolab.
Anyway, Nino’s uniquely uneasy take on easy listening has inspired me recently to seek out more songs that take all the tropes and use them to create something slightly unnerving. The usual rules of my compilations have gone awry here, because obviously Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood, as masters of the form, couldn’t be left to just one song. I would also suggest that you listen to this playlist gapless, with the crossfade set to around eight seconds so that all those lush strings and clicky bass parts start to bleed into one. Warning: contains traces of Val Doonican.
Hello Afterworders. I haven’t posted regularly for a while but I return to you now with a solid Idea. Based on a number of Facebook chats that happened last year, I’m proposing we try to cut the clutter in our lives by reducing our favourite artists’ back catalogues to just 10 songs.
Your Too 10, then: are they the hits, or are they the “deep cuts”? Do you try to go chronologically or mercilessly acknowledge the fact that only the first two albums were any good?
I suggest that the we each publish a 10 perhaps with a little word of explanation, and then when the conversation peters out, move on to a new act. Let’s start with an easy one: in the words of Alan Partridge, “the best of the Beatles”.
Help! / Ticket to Ride / Think for Yourself / And Your Bird Can Sing / Rain / Paperback Writer / Tomorrow Never Knows / Hey Bulldog / Something / Golden Slumbers … Carry That Weight
As for the methodology, I think it suggests I like the quirkily funky rockers best. That’s the way the Beatles are meant to sound for me, and no one else could » Continue Reading.
What were your top songs of 2107, and would you care to share your playlists? I’m not taking any more submissions: it’s Christmas music all the way from now on. Besides, 105 songs is quite enough; it’s five more than last year’s list and makes 2017 officially the best year in pop since 1965 (the stats don’t lie; during a long layoff I compiled all my favourites in Spotify going back 50 years).
Maybe, with your help, I can beat last year’s paltry nine followers, or even challenge the wildly popular Best of 2014 playlist (19). As ever, most of these songs came to me via excellent radio shows or podcasts by Pete Paphides, Sean Rowley, and Rob Morgan and Callum Eckersley (the If There’s Hel Below ‘cast), plus the odd intriguing mention in the Guardian music pages, friend’s recommendation, or cock of the ear to 6Music or Radio 1. Enjoy!
If you’ll excuse the shameless self-publicity, anyone looking for a podcast to fill up the next 30 minutes, or ideas for a walk around the heritage sites of punk rock, might like to listen to this which I knocked together recently with Paul Gorman. It’s the first I’ve tried doing, literally recorded on my phone, but there’s another to follow soon on David Bowie’s Beckenham, all hosted by the nation’s favourite website for retired civll servants.
Bloody hell, getting ready for Christmas with two kids running around is hard work, and the hangovers and work hassles don’t make it any easier. Fortunately I’ve missed my train this morning, giving me a five-minute time window to post this for you, dear Afterworders. Hope you have a great festive period, and I promise to contribute more than Spotify playlists next year.
So, last night, ITV had a go at counting down its best ever theme tunes. I didn’t watch (it was on ITV!) but I’m sure that Minder featured heavily, which is only right and proper. And possibly Weekend World, too, with its skilful repurposing of Nantucket Sleighride by Mountain. But what else should have been in ITV’s countdown? IMO, this is made more interesting by being restricted to ITV. Here’s my vote, from the Schools And Colleges strand. I’ll pitch in with more should this thread have legs.
I really can’t recommend highly enough BBC Radio Ulster’s three-part Top 70 Van songs on the iPlayer. The tales of how his music has touched so many listeners’ lives will bring a tear to your eye, and the Northern Irish public pick a pretty eclectic bunch of songs (Brown Eyes Girl doesn’t make the Top 20). In fact, I’d find it hard to dispute their top three, with No 3 being a particularly deep cut that can’t have had too many airings on national radio over the years Well done everybody: fantastic bit of wireless and the perfect accompaniment to BB’s epic thread.
The BBC Is fond of telling us that its footage of Queen at the Rainbow in 1975 is the band’s “legendary” show, while I – like many fans – was blown away by the footage of Hyde Park from the year after.
I’m sure that many in South America would tell you that Rock In Rio in 1984 was the one, while Live Aid in 85 and the Magic Tour gig att Wenbley are often cited as showing the band at the peak of their powers (which overlooks the fact that Freddie’s voice was on the wane, and some of the material was a little thin – Friends Will Be Friends after We Will Rock You? Really?).
But, I reckon I’ve found the gig that really is the best Queen footage out there: Earls Court, 1977. The only concession to punk is that Freddie’s hair is a couple of inches shorter. He’s still wearing a harlequin leotard for the most of the show. The set list is excellent: it’s the only time you’ll see them doing four of their very best songs: Brighton Rock, Death On Two Legs, You’re My Best Friend and even Millionaire’s Waltz. It’s also the » Continue Reading.