It’s been a strange old start to the year. An odd mood has descended and I’ve found that my music listening, never prodigious compared to some on here, has all but collapsed to a narrow furrow comprising nothing but Cab Calloway, Brahms and an old Spotify compilation of stuff that you don’t hear about the place all that often these days.
I’ve decided to post the latter comp on here, partly because it may be of interest, comprising as it does music that I’m not sure I’ve heard echo previously through these hallowed halls, and partly in the pursuit of a sort of catharsis that will enable me to shake off the January blues and listen once again more freely.
The compilation is a mishmash with no real rhyme or reason to it. I’m not even sure it flows particularly well. And yet, it’s doing the trick right now. Some of these are gems.
Here it is, then, with a few notes on each track. Hopefully it might do something for someone.
1. Return of Crooklyn Dodgers – Crooklyn Dodgers
First encountered on the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s immortal “Clockers”, way back in the 90s, this record was a hardy perennial of Little authored mixtapes deep into the 2000s, before falling from favour. It has a great vocal and is heavily, heavily redolent of how rap music sounded at a certain point in the 1990s. For that reason, it will always hold a place in my heart.
2. Never Never Gonna Give You Up – Barry White
Again, happy soundtrack memories, this time from the soul-powered Dead Presidents. What a world it was when we eagerly anticipated new releases from the Hughes brothers. There was a time when this record was regarded as pure cheese, but it’s now so unfashionable that I regard it as being rather ace, and ripe for hipster reappraisal. He could sing a bit, could Barry.
3. Well Done – Idles
Fantastic, fantastic lyric.
4. LYF – Wu LYF
I am quite keen on the idea of church organs and a barely coherent man shouting “I love you forever” like he really means it.
5. Come Around – Collie Buddz
This reminds me of parties. Lots and lots of parties. Ace lyrics.
6. Oops (Oh My) – Tweet
Once enormous, an important record, but not one you hear that much these days. Is it about masturbation? MDMA? Self empowerment? Who knows, who cares? It’s magnificent.
7. BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION – And So I Watch You From Afar
Track title gets an A+. Band name gets an F. Love the little shout that kicks things off, love the way it builds.
8. 8 Steps to Perfection – Company Flow
Company Flow never seem to get mentioned on here. People like Run the Jewels. They may even like El-P’s solo stuff, but no one seems to go back to his original band, which is a shame, because they were phenomenal. This was one of their better moments, tremendous bassy production backed by a slew of memorable lyrics.
9. What Goes Around Comes Around – Justin Timberlake
A great pop tune that I thought went a little overlooked. Production dates it a bit, but I love it for doing that thing of turning into a totally different song for the last minute or so.
10. I’m Me – Lil Wayne
One of the most exciting hip hop tracks of the last 15 years. The opening verse is pure fire and it really did feel like he could go anywhere at this point (he went nowhere all that interesting).
“I know the game is crazy it’s more crazy than it’s ever been
I’m married to that crazy bitch, call me Kevin Federline
It’s obvious that he’ll be cash money to the death of him
The ground shall break when they bury him, bury him?
I know one day that gotta bury him
Better lock that casket tight so I don’t let the devil in”
He literally appears to be grappling with the reality that Britney Spears’ then husband will one day shuffle off this mortal coil. Love it.
11. Wild for the Night – Rampage
Hailing from an era when hip hop was largely focused on eliciting head nods, this tune is the head-noddiest of them all. Sensational Hype Williams fish eye lens video of the sort that was super exciting before it got played out.
12. Notorious – Turbulence
Some lovely toasting.
13. Crosstown Beef – Medina Green
The absolute highlight of the sensational Soundbombing 2 compilation, which showcased the then-cream of the talent on the roster of Rawkus Records. Well worth a listen for anyone who likes hip hop, that album. Anyway, I have no idea who Medina Green is, because I don’t believe I’ve ever heard another note of his music, but I’ve always loved this – I think this may have been the last point in history (late 90s) where you could make a rap record specifically about some beef you recently got into.
14. Too Late, Too Late
For one brief moment, Mr Hudson looked like he was going to be a superstar. I think he went on to write pop records, rather than front them, but he had a great band and was putting on some great shows a decade or so back. This was his calling card. For a while it was my ring tone. Why must I always play the clown?
15. Cookie Jar – Mark Mulcahy
The song that everyone should know and NOBODY DOES. It’s beautiful.
16. Being Brave – Menswear
Yes – THAT Menswear. OK, they didn’t stack up to much in the end, but this song is an absolute anthem, cruelly overlooked then and now. Tolerate the verses and head for the chorus, which is bloody marvellous ba ba ba baaaa.
17. Turning Time Around – Lou Reed
Late period Lou, off the Ecstasy album, which wasn’t otherwise all that much cop. I’m a sucker for the sparkly moment at 2.15 when it all becomes a bit lovely. Turning time around – that is what love is. If only.
18. Love Is – Donnie & Joe Emerson
Just listen, it’s wonderful.
19. Marmalade – Julie Byrne
Before last year’s well-received album, there was this. Simpler, folksier, that distinctive oddly deep yet feminine vocal, those beautiful, beautiful lyrics. Still my favourite thing she’s done.
20. After Gold – Kelpe
The sound of swimming on a deserted beach. Perfect for a grim January commute.