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.
Hello. Well, my burgeoning interest in real ales and craft beer has come to its logical conclusion – I’ve bought be kit to try to brew my own, starting with St Peter’s Cream Stout.
So, although it’s admittedly in the verges of the byways of popular culture, I wondered whether any of you might share your brewing wisdom.
I’m not going full grain yet. The method seems simple enough: warm the malt, add boiling water, cool with more water, add some hops, pitch the yeast and wait to get the right gravity.
Here’s the bit I’m confused about, though. I’ve bought a pressure barrel, but if I wanted to bottle condition a few to compare them for fizziness, would I fill some bottles from the fermenting vessel or my barrel, via the tap?
I’ve asked the same question on a Hone Brew forum and been totally ignored. I trust the AW massive to have the answers, and I’m sure some of you might like to share your brewing expertise.
As some of you may recall, when I was off work with a bad back recently, I started to re-compile my Best Ofs by year in Spotify. Periodically, since I’ve ben back, I’ve kept going. Throughout, the intention was to be honest, and compile the sound of my bedroom from each given year, though obviously as I dug further back past 1976, the outer limit of my musical memory, it became songs from those years which have continued to resonate.
Once I’d got back to 1965 – which being a neatly symetrical 50 years and also the year tht things started to get intersting (I’m not Bob Stanley, I don’t care much for the bloodless pop of the early 60s) – the obvious thing to do was to merge all the playlsts together to create my personal Best Of 1965-2015. (As a technical side-note: to sync this to play on my phone, I had to pretty much delete all of its other content.)
So here it, 2,327 songs long (most years seem to peak at around 50 cool songs), or, if you prefer, six days’ worth.
What have I learned about my taste over this period? Firstly, though » Continue Reading.
Last week I was watching Jenny Hval channel Yoko Ono via George Pringle to the bemusement of a three-quarters empty Festival Hall and it got me thinking…
The Pink Floyd were on their second single when they organised the elaborate Games For May event at the RFH. At that time they’d played club shows in London, Bath etc, to 200-odd people, and provincial ballrooms as a badly received segment of package tours. Even if we’re being generous and the show was a lightning rod for the putative counterculture, I find it unlikely that 2,500 heads would have showed up.
So, was anyone there? Was this mythical event half-empty? Was it in the Main Hall or the Purcell Room or what’s now the Clore Ballroom? Or was the Pink Floyd/counterculture’s ascent really so rapid that a band on their second single could have sold out such a prestigious venue?
Opinion is raging on the UK Mod Scene Facebook group as to what Paul Weller’s hair is all about. He’s tamed it slightly since this photo, but basically the hardliners are saying that – though it’s been copied by mods the world over – it’s not in any way a 60s mod haircut. So far over 1,000 people have contributed to the debate, and it’s getting testy.
Personaly, I think that it’s a variation on Rod Stewart/Steve Marriot’s hair circa 1966, with the distinct influence of a skinhead girl’s ‘do and, perhaps at its spiky rear, a touch of former Hammersmith Gorilla Jesse Hector.
What are your thoughts?
This is a truly fantastic find from the much-recommended Dangerous Minds blog. It’s a film from 1977 called The Day The Music Died, cobbling together footage from the ill-fated New York Pop Festival, with some scripted inserts to add context.
As well as some great footage of Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Mountain, Dr John and Steppenwolf, you see the festival begin to fall apart around its ears as various hippy interest groups attempt to get a share of the takings, the bands pull out because they don’t get paid, and the fences come down. It’s all The Man’s fault. The pigs and The Man.
It’s a highly subjective, sarcastic view of the death of the 60s dream but is nonetheless well worth watching, not least because up until today I’d never heard of the event or the film.
This was the first thing I saw/heard this morning, and I’ve shared it with everyone I know.
In spite of being on that grinning loon Chris Evans’s Radio 3 show, it’s quite fantastic, and features the current iteration of The Waterboys being very cool in a confined space.
At first, I thought that Maureen Lipman was there to provide backing vocals, having a jaunty musician’s hat and all, but it soon becomes apparent that she’s pretty nonplussed, and that she and Mark Strong are drumming their fingers, waiting to be interviewed by Simon Mayo.
This could go two ways. 1) Either post your favourite footage of a band setting up in a small space; or 2) Let’s all go on about how brilliant The Waterboys are for a bit.
The glaring lack of many works by The Man on Spotify sent me back to iTunes recently, in the hope of adding to my existing “best of”, assembled a good 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, he’s pretty unrepresented on there as well these days, so I’ve spent the last week listening to the further reaches of his back catalogue and ripping the odd find to iTunes.
So, now my best of is a good 50 songs long, covering as many of the veteran R&B grump’s Caledonian soul stompers, Celtic reveries and metaphysical musings as I could find.
But it’s too late to stop now. I fear there must be some deep cuts that I’ve missed. Or perhaps you could help me rearrange the running order so that the GLW doesn’t insist that I turn it off whenever we get into the more “difficult” likes of Rave On, John Donne. Maybe some of his recent records are under-represented (The Healing Game seems quite good).
So, here’s my work in progress. What more needs to be done? (I’m assuming it won’t be improved by any of the forthcoming duets with Hucknall and the like). Strangely, the Guardian’s music site hasn’t covered » Continue Reading.