Playlist: Rebel Tablets

TJR presents… Rebel Tablets

  • I have a one-song one-genre tagging policy for all tracks in my collection, with 68 designated genres enough to cover them all. This remains a work-in-progress, but ~125,000 tracks have been tagged so far. This playlist features the ultimate Jukebox Pick from every genre; the Rebel Tablets.
  • 67 tracks, runtime 5h 14m 7s. (the Jingle genre isn't included in the playlist at the moment)
  • Rebel Rating: 9.70 “An elite masterpiece”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

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AFRICANA

Umculo Kawupheli by Mahotella Queens (1973)
(Francisca Bopape, Marks Mankwane)
South Africa
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Africana
TJR saysFrom their album “Umgqashiyo” in March, 1973. Was also b-side of their “Abaculi Bethu” 45 in the same year. In their native Zulu tongue, “Umculo Kawupheli” delivers a performance which oozes confidence from both the Queens and their group, the Makgona Tsohle Band. “Our Music Will Never End” is the core message of the piece, a glorious celebration of the mbaqanga genre which dominated black South Africa's affections from the mid 60s to the late 70s.

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ALTERNATIVE COUNTRY

Get Thee Gone by The Geraldine Fibbers (1995)
(Carla Bozulich)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Alternative Country
TJR saysThe closing track on their bona-fide masterpiece debut album “Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home” in July, 1995. A couple of different versions of “Get Thee Gone” had appeared in '94, but the album version shades it. The 5-piece were: Carla Bozulich (guitar, vocals), Kevin Fitzgerald (banjo, drums), Jessy Greene (viola, violin), Daniel Keenan (guitar) and William Tutton (bass). I once nearly fainted to this at a festival such was the raw power before me (ok they were on early and I might have been a bit hungover) but the impact from their intoxicating blend of Swans, Jem Finer and Janis Joplin hasn't diluted a bit over the years. Majestic and unique.

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ALTERNATIVE DANCE

A Cold Freezin’ Night by The Books (2010)
(Nick Zammuto, Paul de Jong)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Alternative Dance
TJR saysFrom their album “The Way Out” released in July, 2010. A collagist masterwork, with the unlikeliest of unwitting star vocals. Co-creator Nick Zammuto explained: “This track was one of the first tracks we made for ‘The Way Out’ and we knew when we started it that it was going to push things in a very new direction for us. A little back story: The movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was released in 1992, and you might recall that Macaulay Culkin used a tape recorder in that movie (to disguise his voice I believe). Kids wrote letters en masse requesting that a retail version of the tape recorder be made, and sure enough in 1993 Tiger Electronics released a version of it called the Talkboy. Many many were sold, you may have had one! You can still get them on eBay in fact. The salient thing about the Talkboy is its speed control. You can adjust the speed of the tape during playback and recording to get very strange vocal effects. The opening sample in ‘A Cold Freezin’ Night’ is a perfect example… listen very carefully… you will unmistakably hear a line from a well known kids’ song, distorted to the edge of recognizability, but I promise you it’s there! You know, since we’ve started touring we’ve been raiding thrift shops looking for good audio and video tapes. We have many thousands of them. Among these tapes were at least a half a dozen talkboy tapes. And, as you may know first hand, when a kid gets his first tape recorder all inhibitions disappear. These tapes are full of outrageous moments that no fully conscious adult could ever duplicate. The primary tape that you hear in ‘A Cold Freezin’ Night’ is a game of one-upmanship between a brother and a sister (I think). Their conversation escalates until the younger sister has no choice but to drop the A-bomb. It’s very musical how it unfolds, so it was not a stretch to turn it into a pseudo-techno-dance mix. The rest of the sounds in the mix range from bass guitar that I recorded with my brother Mikey, a collection of amazing vintage synth samples that Paul collected from various sources, fragments of outdated radio jingles (including the best harmonica solo ever) and an electro-acoustic polyrythm generator that I invented! We’ll release the video soon, which consists mostly of samples taken from the dozens of summer camp videos in our collection.”

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ALTERNATIVE FOLK

All Tomorrow’s Parties by The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
(Lou Reed)
the USAGermany
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Alternative Folk
TJR saysFrom their album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” in March, 1967, a fully realised version of the 3 minute single from July ’66. I'd hold Nico up as the Queen of Alternative Folk, her monotone vocal so well suited to the ancient drone sounds which could just as easily place her in 13th century Bohemia as 20th century New York. Writer Lou Reed’s passion for using colourful characters from his everyday life is to the fore on “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, almost like a medieval dirge with a contemporary cast. Here, Lou observes the Warhol clique of ’66. According to him, the song is: “a very apt description of certain people at the Factory at the time. I watched Andy. I watched Andy watching everybody. I would hear people say the most astonishing things, the craziest things, the funniest things, the saddest things.” In a 2006 interview John Cale stated: “The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her.” Nico’s vocal is simply stunning. She sounds like she has lived emotionless since the dawn of time. And what of this strange rhythm? As Lou Reed once famously said, “There are two kinds of drummers - Moe Tucker and everybody else.

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ALTERNATIVE ROCK

Jesus Built My Hotrod [redline / whiteline version] by Ministry (1991)
(Al Jourgensen, Bill Rieflin, Gibby Haynes, Michael Balch, Paul G. Barker)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Alternative Rock
TJR saysFirst out as a single in November, 1991. Promo copies included free quart of motor oil! In a blinding flash of inspiration, Ministry invited an inebriated Butthole Surfers' singer Gibby Haynes to accompany them on what turned out to be the most intense, insane slice of metal since "Ace Of Spades", chief architect Al Jourgensen cutting vocal tape and building layers on top in the weeks which followed Gibby's incomprehensible, but nonetheless memorable, one hour session. The mocking mid-song voiceover sample was spot on the money - "There's no use trying to talk, no human sound can stand up to this". Quite possibly, the greatest ever accident in the history of Rock n Roll.

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AMBIENT

The Crossing (Oohh The Action…) by Grace Jones (1985)
(Simon Darlow, Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson, Bruce Woolley)
Jamaica
8.3 “Fantastic” Ambient
TJR saysFrom her “Slave To The Rhythm” album released in October, 1985. The set was a curious affair indeed, featuring as it did several radically differing versions of the title track. The ambient approach taken on “The Crossing (Oohh The Action…)” was a standout, with the candid Paul Morley / Grace Jones interview snippets revealing a more human side to Grace's character.

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ASIAN

Beezhinden (Coming Back From Beijing) by Shu-De (1994)
(Traditional)
Russia
9.8 “All-time classic” Asian
TJR saysFrom their album “Voices From The Distant Steppe” (Real World Records CDRW-41) released in 1994. Hark, the wondrous traditional sounds of the Tuvans – once heard, never forgotten. Throat-singing, at least as old as the 8th century, is practiced by very few cultures - Mongolia and Tibet providing the only other strong examples - and Tuvans are arguably the finest exponents. The practice was not encouraged by the Soviet authorities, but continues to thrive nonetheless, appearing in many contemporary genres. Shu-De is a word a rider uses to shout to their horse, like “gee-up!”, but it can also mean “good” or “excellent” in appreciation of a musical performance. The group recorded the first of their two albums whilst visiting the UK in 1992. Over the course of these, they offer a great many different styles to fill up your senses, and the highlights are plentiful. The cheerful “Beezhinden” is my favourite although the pressing plant did their very best to fool the world into thinking that this one was titled “Aian Dudal” on the CD. On the plus side, at least they made me concentrate and sharpen up on my Tuvan!

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AVANT-GARDE

Sister Ray by The Velvet Underground (1968)
(Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, John Cale, Maureen Tucker)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Avant-Garde
TJR saysFrom their album “The Velvet Underground” in January, 1968. The whole scene is black; the cover, the lyrics, the humour, the shades, the clothes. The Velvet Underground’s response to the disappointing sales of their debut album was illogical; this aggressive and beastly follow-up was devoid of normal pop charm. It was “consciously anti-beauty” said John Cale. The seventeen minute sonic assault that is “Sister Ray” typified the approach. “By this time, we were a touring band” Cale explains. “And the sound we could get on stage – we wanted to get that on the record. In some performances, Moe would go up first, start a backbeat, then I would come out and put a drone on the keyboard. Sterling would start playing, then Lou would come out, maybe turn into a Southern preacher at the mike. That idea of us coming out one after the other, doing whatever we wanted, that individualism – it’s there on Sister Ray, in spades.” Literate, expressive and insanely exciting – these four were easily the World’s smartest, coolest rockers in 1968.

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BIG BAND / JIVE / SWING

Cow-Cow Boogie by Freddie Slack and his Orchestra featuring Ella Mae Morse (1942)
(Benny Carter, Gene DePaul, Don Raye)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Big Band / Jive / Swing
TJR saysFor all of her teenage years Ella Mae Morse had been auditioning for radio stations and bandleaders, determined to make the big-time with her singing talents, but it wasn't until she was the grand old age of 17(!) that she got her first big breakthrough. Freddie Slack, formerly pianist with Jimmy Dorsey, had struck out on his own, landing a deal with a brand new label, Capitol Records, co-founded by Johnny Mercer. He remembered Ella from his time with Dorsey, and sought her out as his lead singer of choice. Their very first session was recorded on 21st May 1942 at Hollywood's McGregor Studio, and they were lucky enough to have access to “Cow-Cow Boogie”, written by Jazz arranger Benny Carter with Gene DePaul and Don Raye, both of whom were writing together for Universal Studios. They had written the song for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the movie comedy “Ride 'Em Cowboy”, but it did not make the director's cut. Morse, however, had learned the song from hearing Fitzgerald on a soundtrack she had acquired. The song was a tribute to the black movie star, Herb Jeffries, whose movies had been reversing the white cowboy stereotype since 1937. Ella Mae sings of Herb's mixed race background: “He's just too much, He's got a knocked out western accent with a Harlem touch, He was raised on local weed, He's what you call a swing half breed”. Freddie Slack's lazy Swing tempo was the perfect canvas for Ella Mae to lay down her bluesy, soulful delivery. “It was a walk in the park, because I had been doing it a couple of months with the band,” she'd later tell biographer Kevin Coffey. “Johnny Mercer (said) 'okay, let's run it through once,' and that's what we thought we were doing. And when we got through with it, he said, 'Wrap it up! That's it, that's a take!' And I burst into tears!” She felt that she could produce a better take, but was over-ruled by Mercer. With Ella Mae's vocals, Freddie's piano and the fine trombone and trumpet solos, he was convinced he had a major hit on his hands, excitedly rush-releasing the single just weeks later. And he was right - it went Top 10 in the Pop Charts, becoming the first one million seller for Capitol Records.

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BLUES / RHYTHM N BLUES

The Sun Is Shining by Elmore James (1960)
(Elmore James)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Blues / Rhythm n Blues
TJR saysRecorded on April 14th, 1960 and released on the b-side to “I Can't Hold Out” in May, 1960. Somewhat ridiculously, Elmore was ripping off his own preceding classic single from a couple of months earlier, “The Sky Is Crying”, but emerged improbably with something which had an even stronger emotional edge. It don't matter a damn that the sun is shining, his baby has left him and it's raining in his heart. She didn't even say goodbye! This really is the epitome of the blues, and it's played to devastating effect by grandmasters of the genre, namely Elmore and his long-time band, The Broomdusters. Elmore's the king of the slide guitar and his vocal oozes soul; feel the longing, feel the hurt. Cementing the magic are: J. T. Brown (tenor sax), Little Johnny Jones (piano), Homesick James (guitar) and Odie Payne (drums). Sheer dynamite.

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BLUES ROCK / SOUL ROCK

Dignity by Deacon Blue (1987)
(Ricky Ross)
Scotland
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Blues Rock / Soul Rock
TJR saysAs far as opening statements go, Deacon Blue's “Dignity” has to be right up there as one of the strongest ever released. Their debut single was issued in March, 1987, and, although it didn't have much impact at the time, it grew to become one of Scotland's most-loved songs. It was John Lennon who sang that “a working class hero is something to be” and Ricky Ross took the baton from there, putting us in the mind of the man who's been a council worker for 20 years now. His moral compass is on point - “he takes no lip off nobody and litter off the gutter” - and he gets by on his dream of saving for a small boat that he's going to christen “Dignity”. It's an everyman tale, delivered with Scottish soul and a band who seem to instinctively seize the moment, grasping the feeling that they've got an anthem in their hands. Here's to the beautiful dreamers; “Dignity” is unsinkable.

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CARIBBEAN

Hool-A-Hoop Calypso by Count Owen and his Calypsonians featuring Euton Gayle and his Banjo (1959)
(Owen Emanuel)
Jamaica
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Caribbean
TJR saysCount Owen (Owen Emanuel pictured c1968) was around 25 when he released this mento 78 in 1959, tuning in to the hula hoop craze that was sweeping around the world at the time. Owen is quick to acknowledge the keep fit aspect, and with a typically Jamaican lust for life he also sees the hoop as a great way to spice up things in the bedroom: “If you find you are gettin' extra fat and do not know what to do, you should try the hoola-hooping, Count Owen is advising you, Jane and John they're really clever, they do the hoola-hoop in the bed, they go back-to-back, belly-to-belly with the hoola-hoop on dem head”. The highly rhythmic banjo player Euton "Lord" Gayle, a recording artist in his own right, accompanied Owen in all of his mento recordings in the 1950s and really helps to make this piece the classic that it is, picking and strumming like a virtuoso.

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CEREBRAL POP

Yes by McAlmont and Butler (1995)
(David McAlmont, Bernard Butler)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Cerebral Pop
TJR saysSo it's the summer of 1994 and guitarist Bernard Butler's just left Suede, feeling down. Within days, inspired by Dusty Springfield's ability to reverse low mood with songs like “I Only Want To Be With You”, he's plotting to deliver the perfect moment in pop, 1990s style. “I listened to that at full volume until the speakers distorted. I wanted to do something like that, with the strings and drums really loud and interesting key changes. I wanted to learn how to do that.” Learn, he did and, after a couple of mis-fires, he finally sourced the perfect vocal counter-foil for his arrangements, David McAlmont, a singer with a three octave range, keen to take his career onto the next level. McAlmont brought his own lyrics to the table. “Even though Bernard's aspiration for it, if I'm not mistaken, was to make a really joyous record, the lyric I had for it was pure vitriol. It was a really bitter, twisted lyric about being dumped and imagining what I'd say to the person who dumped me when I became famous, which was a real risk to take. It all depended on the record succeeding or it would have been ridiculous.” He needn't have worried. The single was released in May, 1995, and went Top 10 in the UK Pop Charts, selling 140,000 copies. More than that, the critical acclaim afforded the track since then has been fully merited, for it's a spine-tingling masterpiece of epic proportions, positively re-realising Phil Spector's wall-of-sound 30-years-on. Yes!

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CLASSICAL

Godzilla Main Title by Akira Ifukube (1954)
(Akira Ifukube)
Japan
9.4 “Classic” Classical
TJR saysIf I ever get around to delving into the classical world of which I know very little then I'd probably be inclined to select Beethoven's 5th symphony or his piano sonata No. 14, or some such striking work of profound import. As it stands, I'm not in that deep, but my Jukebox pick, from 1954, is a classic for all that, albeit it's merely a brief snapshot piece from a v/a compile in my collection. As Wikipedia tells: Akira Ifukube (31 May 1914 – 8 February 2006) was a Japanese composer of classical music and film scores, perhaps best known for his work on the soundtracks of the Godzilla movies by Toho. Originally intended to be associated with the Japanese Self Defense Forces featured in the film, the 90 second piece became the official theme song for the monster character Godzilla and the entire franchise. Despite the track being titled as "Main Title" on the Godzilla soundtrack, fans and Toho executives know the track as the Main Godzilla Theme or the Godzilla (Main Theme) song. The song first appeared on the original Godzilla film and in later sequels was replaced by a new theme titled the Godzilla March. The Godzilla (Main Theme) was re-used for the first time in Terror of Mechagodzilla, the last Godzilla film of the Showa era.

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CLUB

The Deal by The Field (2007)
(Axel Willner)
Sweden
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Club
TJR saysOn 2007's “From Here We Go Sublime”, Sweden's Alex Willner delivered, literally, a sublime one hour’s worth of minimal techno - my album of the year. This was a significant landmark release for me – almost bounding the timeline from “Trans Europe Express” through “Selected Ambient Works” and taking electronica somewhere new, fresh and exciting for 2007 - machine-like, yet blissful. “The Deal”, a trance-inducing epic, was the centrepiece track; set to a heart-pounding beat it has a weightless sound that delivers a feeling of senselessness, as if you're in freefall with headphones on, in a dream-like state, wordless vocals echoing around your brain. This is a master craftsman at work for sure. And just HOW did he do that thing at 6:25? Try setting your alarm clock to THAT sleepyhead…

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COMEDY

Lucky Uncle Freddie [live '74] by Billy Connolly (1974)
(Billy Connolly)
Scotland
8.4 “Fantastic” Comedy
TJR saysFrom his third LP “Cop Yer Whack For This”, released in 1974. It was recorded live at the Unicorn Leisure production “The Billy Connolly Show” in the Kings Theatre, Glasgow. In the 70s, my Nanna and Grandad had all-in-one record player-cum-table and parties there were all the better for the rough and ready jollity of the records on the stereogram; Billy Connolly was always a big hit for us. Obviously. We're Glaswegians! “Lucky Uncle Freddie” delivers great craic about an orally-challenged Glasgegian family, borderline incommunicado; he's totally hilarious on the voices. He’s not yet a UK-wide star, but the 31-year-old is revered on his home turf at this stage, his observational routine especially striking a chord with working-class Scots. “The Big Yin” is in charge of the house straight from the off; in reply to a heckle of “ya big eejit” his witty, off-the-cuff riposte brings the house down: “You should get an agent pal… why sit in the dark handling yourself?” His roots as a conventional folk artist are still in evidence at this time, the whole routine being based around the fact that he is here to play some songs, which may or not come to pass in amongst the patter. He was actually quite handy as a folkie too, but that's another story…

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CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL

A Loon [strings version] by Kristin Hersh (1994)
(Kristin Hersh)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Contemporary Classical
TJR saysIt's hard to call which is the best version of this tempestuous masterpiece, highly strung then de-stressed in two parts, the initially paralyzing fear subsiding in favour of a contemplative mood. “A Loon” first appeared in January, 1994 on her “Hips and Makers” album, with Kristin and her acoustic guitar to the fore. Just shading it for me was the version which was re-imagined for strings. “My cellist, Martin McCarrick, wanted to hear five strings of my guitar turned into five stringed instruments, for some reason” reflected Hersh. Making the magic happen were: Kristin Hersh (vocals), Martin McCarrick (cello and string arrangements), Jane Scarpantoni (cello), Wilfred Gibson (violin), Perry Montague-Mason (violin) and Gavin Wright (violin). Finds beauty in the eye of the storm.

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COUNTRY

A Good Year For The Roses by Elvis Costello and The Attractions (1981)
(Jerry Chesnut)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Country
TJR saysFrom his LP “Almost Blue” in 1981. Stamped with a great big MADE IN NASHVILLE, this was the first Costello record to categorically displace the artist from the Punk framework. It seems like he’s having a genuine blast on the 12 country covers - and The Attractions are right up for it, aided by the authentic pedal steel guitar of John McFee. The album’s a hit in my book, and houses Elvis’s warmest hour in his extra-ordinarily “Blonde-On-Blonde-esque” treatment of “Good Year For The Roses”, a yearning broken-marriage ballad originally recorded by George Jones in 1970. Costello’s immaculate reading, tender and tormented, was rewarded with a Top 10 hit single in the UK.

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CROONER / CABARET

The Day The Rains Came Down [live '61] by Jane Morgan (1962)
(Carl Sigman, Gilbert Bécaud, Pierre Delanoë)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Crooner / Cabaret
TJR saysThere's a few versions of this awesome track kicking around - all are 10s! However, splitting hairs… the (slightly tamer) English no.1 single version from 1958 is 3rd best, the (sexier) b-side sung entirely in French is 2nd best, and the live version which I've got on a compile (an English-French hybrid) is the ultimate. On the live version, both the band and Jane are raunchier, packing the most passionate punch; one of the greatest stage performances I've ever heard. It was recorded live at The Cocoanut Grove Nightclub, Los Angeles in 1961, with an orchestra conducted by Dick Hazard. The show was a bit of an extravaganza, and Jane was booked for a three-week stint which commenced on October 12th 1961. Kapp were on hand to record many of the performances, represented on the LP "Jane Morgan at The Cocoanut Grove" (Kapp KS-3268), first issued in February 1962. She was inspired by Édith Piaf - this positively shines through on this flawless and exquisite performance.

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DESI

Topknot by Cornershop (2004)
(Tjinder Singh, Bubbley Kaur)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Desi
TJR saysFending off stiff competition from Fateh Ali Khan, Bhosle and Mangeshkar (yes I do have some of their records), my Jukebox pick lands with this glittering beauty, released in 2004. Cornershop's exploration of the desi aspect of their cultural roots isn't usually the foremost aspect of their output, but it's there in spades on this 'un. “A massive track for urban stations, turban stations, clubs as well as Indian weddings” they say. They're not wrong! “Topknot” was the first fruit of the pairing between the band and the enigmatic singing debutant Bubbley Kaur who, Annabella-Lwin-style, went from the launderette to the recording studio (the back story itself could make a film). Initially a stand-alone single, it would eventually settle down to live on their full-blown collaboration album, 2011's “And The Double O Groove Of”. Their stars collided naturally through mutual acquaintances and a shared love of Punjabi folk music. The New Delhi-born, Lancashire-raised housewife brought her own lyrics to the table as Garry Mulholland in the Guardian explained: “There's this guy, see, who's the hottest thing since green chillis, and Kaur wants him, but knows she faces stiff girl competition, and suspects he'll break her heart anyway. 'Don't betray the girls,' she pleads, but we suspect her sisterly solidarity is all in vain.” A classic Bollywood theme. Or you could say it's The Shirelles reimagined in the punjabi style 40 years on. Any which way you look at it, this is a joyous masterpiece which deserves to be celebrated far and wide for decades to come. [Worth watching is the excellent video American film-maker Prashant Bhargava made as a promo for his 2011 film “Patang”, albeit a considerably shortened version of the piece.]

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DISCO / FUNK

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [album version ’71] by Gil Scott-Heron (1971)
(Gil Scott-Heron)
the USA
9.9 “All-time classic” Disco / Funk
TJR saysThis ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around. This is the burgeoning sound of rap-funk, this is the sound of angry working class America, in particular black America. The definitive version (re-recorded from the sparse bongo drums version from his debut album in 1970) of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was first issued in September, 1971, on his LP “Pieces Of A Man”, and was the only political song in the set; “the least inventive one on the album was the one that was the most heralded” rued Scott-Heron. Groan… I'd like to think he was secretly pleased anyway. His lyrical jabs and sneers were delivered stream-of-social-consciousness style, ducking like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, on his toes every round. The message is clear - do not get lost in the debilitating stupor of pop culture frivolity; wake up and smell the coffee, there's corruption all around and it's working against you, get active. Brothers and sisters, there will be no highlights on the 11 o'clock news, the revolution will be live. And you can dance to it.

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DREAM POP / SHOEGAZE

Mogwai Fear Satan by Mogwai (1997)
(Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison, Martin Bulloch, John Cummings)
Scotland
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Dream Pop / Shoegaze
TJR saysRight from their start in the mid-90s, an inescapable sense of magic existed within Mogwai's output, and this was never more emphatically realised than it was with “Mogwai Fear Satan”, the mesmerizing 16-minute epic which closed their excellent “Young Team” album in 1997. The piece runs the gamut of Mogwaism, with guitars that twinkle in the sunlight one minute, then fearlessly roar in the heart of the lion's den the next, scaring the bejeezus out of any would-be predator, vampire or any such-like perpetrators of evil. Bulloch's undulating percussion climbs, marches and rolls as the landscape demands; he's a master of his own space and a vital cog in the machine. Amidst the beautiful chaos, Shona Brown's calming flute could charm the snake out of a chicken basket. The whole is now the stuff of legend. Forget Ghostbusters, if ever there's an actual need for exorcising demons then one blast of “Mogwai Fear Satan” pumped through a 100K Marshall stack is all it's going to take to save mankind. “Lucifer Fears Mogwai” mair-like.

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DRUM N BASS

Taa Deem by Asian Dub Foundation (2000)
(Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Drum n Bass
TJR saysAs the Wiki tells, “Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (13 October 1948 – 16 August 1997) was a Pakistani musician, primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis. Considered one of the greatest voices ever recorded, he possessed an extraordinary range of vocal abilities and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours.” The original “Taa Deem” (an all-time classic in my book) was his own composition, and was first issued on his album “Mustt Mustt” (Real World Records CDRW-15, 1990). The decision of London's Asian Dub Foundation to sample Ali Khan's vocals for their pounding dub-d-n-b version in 2000 was genius; the highly charged collective fused naturally with the late singer's intensity. If they intended it as a tribute to the man (he died 3 years earlier) then it succeeded brilliantly; this was a collaboration made in heaven.

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DUBBEAT

No-Ones Little Girl by The Raincoats (1982)
(Ana da Silva, Georgina Birch, Victoria Aspinall)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Dubbeat
TJR saysSweet little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend” sang the Ramones in '76. Art student Gina Birch got to thinking and “No One’s Little Girl”, her first-ever song, was written for a college project, and was showcased in November '77 at the debut gig of her band, The Raincoats, which she had formed with her fellow student, Ana da Silva (vocals, guitar). You don't need to conform, seek adventure, create was her message. Musically, Toots and the Maytals “Funky Kingston” LP (1973) was Gina's first bass love - this influence is apparent in her work from the off. An almost five year gestation period ensued before the piece was fully realised on record, the 45 being first issued in the late summer of 1982. By then, they were a core trio of Gina, Ana and the classically trained violinist, Vicky Aspinall. This was the Raincoats at their mighty peak, the oddness of the piece being typical of their free-thinking oeuvre. Bassist Kim Gordon loved them: “They seemed like ordinary people playing extraordinary music. Music that was natural that made room for cohesion of personalities. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggression… or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism.”

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ELECTRONICA

Europa Endlos by Kraftwerk (1977)
(Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider-Esleben)
Germany
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Electronica
TJR saysDisclaimer: I’m a sucker for a deadpan delivery, appregio and melody. “Trans Europa Express” has all three and has got to be up there with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall as one of Germany’s greatest post WWII statements… “Dear Europe, we love you.” It's a perfect production, probably one of the most cohesive albums ever made, and, judging by the reception afforded Kraftwerk (and their ilk), I think it’s clear to see the world loves Germany’s post-war babies. Miles apart from ‘75s “Radio-Aktivität” in terms of pop consistency; “Trans Europa Express” was an adventure playground for cutting-edge futurists. The latest album from the quartet was delivered in March ’77, fittingly and famously launched with a train journey press conference from Paris. The impressive TEE network ran from Spain in the west to Austria in the east, and from Denmark to Southern Italy. Germany was central to the network, connected at every angle – this seems like a natural cause for celebration, and Kraftwerk’s mechanical rhythms lent themselves perfectly to the theme. Ever the perfectionists, they even went to railway bridges to listen to the sounds that trains actually produced, although they found that these were not danceable and slight alterations had to be made! Although I initially had the English version of this album, some time back I took the plunge to invest in the German language versions of all the groups’ albums; the urge for authenticity was too great. Scarcely can any side of an LP have been so perfectly constructed as side A of this set. The blemish-free “Europa Endlos” is a blissful 10 minute paean to the elegant continent; it perfectly captures a sense of wonder at the beginning of a new journey. For all their robotic sound, Kraftwerk still manage to convey much emotion, in their own strange way.

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FILM SCORE / INCIDENTAL

The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe: Opening Titles by Robert Mellin and Gian Piero Reverberi (1965)
(Robert Mellin, Gian Piero Reverberi)
UkraineItaly
9.7 “All-time classic” Film Score / Incidental
TJR saysFirst aired on BBC TV on 12th October, 1965, (episode one of the series in Britain) and first released commercially on “The Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe” (Silva Screen FILMCD-705) in 1990. Originally a 1964 French production in conjunction with German TV, the series was overdubbed with English language in 1965 for the American and British markets. Producers Franco London, seeking a new score for the English version, brought in the then British-based songwriter, Robert Mellin, and a young Italian composer and conductor, Gian Piero Reverberi, to give the film greater feeling, and this they managed with aplomb. The 23 seconds track, which heralded the beginning of all 13 British episodes, was the most famous piece to be associated with the series, unforgettable for the generations who watched in the mid-60s, or indeed watched the repeats in the 70s and early 80s. The short, but evocative, orchestral burst seems to capture the danger of the rolling sea as well as the romance of being a castaway, and really sets you up for what's to follow on-screen. Job done. The track was never released commercially during those times, but surfaced again in 1990 for, of all things, a baked beans advert on ITV, featuring Frank Bruno on a desert island! Such was the strong public reaction that Silva Screen Records took on the task of seeking a commercial release and managed to track down co-composer Robert Mellin, who by that time was living in New York. Luckily for all, he had kept the original session tapes, and they had survived in good condition, 25 years on. Well done that man.

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FOLK

The Lambs On The Green Hills by The Johnstons (1968)
(Traditional)
Ireland
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Folk
TJR saysThe Johnstons were an Irish close-harmony folk group, originally founded in the early 60s in Slane, County Meath, consisting of siblings Adrienne, Lucy and Michael Johnston. Building on home territory successes, they delivered their first proper long player (following on from a singles compilation) in May 1968. By this time they were: Adrienne Johnston (vocals), Lucy Johnston (vocals); Mick Moloney (vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Paul Brady (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin). Although they were as comfortable with traditional or contemporary material, an LP of traditionals was decided upon for this release. For all the material is good throughout, the album is dominated by the utterly phenomenal rendition of “The Lambs on the Green Hills”, led intensely by Adrienne. The liner notes tell us that it comes from Colm O'Lochlainns first collection of Irish songs and is related closely to the Scottish “I Once Loved A Lass” and countless other variants of the most familiar theme in folk music; the story of unrequited love. The performance from all is spine tingling – perfectly poised, with an intimate delicacy which could bring even the severest of brutes to tears. It’s surely one of the greatest moments in the entire history of recorded folk music. With this release, Transatlantic helped to serve a wee gem to the world.

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FOLK ROCK / AMERICANA

Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan (1965)
(Robert Zimmerman)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Folk Rock / Americana
TJR saysFirst out as a 45 in June, 1965 then included on his LP “Highway 61 Revisited” released in August, 1965. With this release, much to the chagrin of the eclectically challenged, the decade’s lead hipster deepened his experimental hybrid of folk roots with electrified blues rock, all twisted up in lyrical Dylanility. The songs were flavoured by Mike Bloomfield’s blues guitar, and Al Kooper’s organ riffs. With a doff of the cap to his spiritual ancestors, the album title alluded to the famous route which passed near the birthplaces and homes of influential musicians such as Muddy Waters, Son House, Elvis Presley, and Charley Patton. The “empress of the blues”, Bessie Smith, died after sustaining serious injuries in an automobile accident on it. And it is, of course, the stuff of legend that bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have “sold his soul to the devil” at the highway’s crossroads with Route 49! Bob had to fight hard to get the title that he wanted to go with the content, he said: “Nobody understood it. I had to go up the fucking ladder until finally the word came down and said: ‘Let him call it what he wants to call it’.” How ridiculous is that? Fighting folk fans, fighting record companies, deemed to be a fighter of everyone’s cause; it’s little wonder he was fired up for this one. The strength in depth over the course of the 9 classic pieces is unsurpassed in Rock n Roll thus far. Such passion, such spirit, such vitality. It’s got a triple wow rating from start to finish. Opening track, “Like A Rolling Stone”, bristles with an intensity which is verging on the insane; when Bob sneers “How does it FEEL?” you get a sense that this is a guy on the edge. In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. He told journalist Nat Hentoff: “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained.” The singer added: “It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.” As a consequence of his dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote 20 pages of verse he later described as a “long piece of vomit”. He reduced this to a song with four verses and a chorus—“Like a Rolling Stone”. He told Hentoff that writing and recording the song washed away his dissatisfaction, and restored his enthusiasm for creating music. As always, you can take Bob’s songs in many different ways – it seems to me he himself is the one with “no direction home”. We've all been there.

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HIP HOP / RAP

Ingoma by Kanyi (2011)
(Kanyi Mavi, Sivuyile Notywala)
South Africa
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Hip Hop / Rap
TJR saysKanyisa means to illuminate in the Xhosan tongue. I have no doubt Kanyi Mavi achieves this - to paraphrase the lady herself - I know ‘dope’ when I hear it, no matter the tongue. Kanyi’s a female MC who rhymes in her aforementioned mother tongue, and focuses on social issues relating to modern-day South Africa. She began performing at open mic sets around Cape Town South Africa from 2002. International ears were alerted after she’d opened for Mos Def at the 2009 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Her magnificent “Ingoma” was released as a single in the summer of 2011, and was included on her debut album “Intombi-Zifikile” (trans: “The Women Have Arrived”) in 2012. On the single, her ferocious delivery challenges society to think twice about a myriad of moral issues, her metaphorical phrasing warning about the dire consequences of staying silent and doing nothing in the face of oppressive behaviour. The first verse, for example, speaks about abusive relationships, and violence against women in particular. She ain't dealing in voodoo as her ritualistic overtones might suggest at first glance - but the end result could be just as deadly for those who pay no heed. The possessed violin playing of Teboho Semela is a key ingredient of the piece, and the menacing beats, from producer Sivuyile 'mananz' Notywala, seal the deal on this transglobal bam-bam, straight outta Cape Town.

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INDIE

Geraldine [single version] by Glasvegas (2008)
(James Allan)
Scotland
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Indie
TJR saysIt's surreal to me that, in his previous career, James Allan took to the football field with his sole ambition for the afternoon being to defeat Partick Thistle. So brilliant was his new career as a shades-on black-rebel rock-star that I now forgive him his previous sins. Building on a string of excellent singles - “Go Square Go!”, “Daddy's Gone” and “It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” - “Geraldine” was the one which broke his band in mainstream terms, giving them a Top 20 hit in the official UK singles chart in the summer of 2008. All the way from the ethereal opening bars to the devastating finale, the song is profoundly perfect. This is a band well-versed in the rich tapestry of the black pop song, at once evoking memories of Phil Spector's wall-of-sound, the Shangri-Las sense-of-drama, Moe Tucker's bull-free percussive directness, Joy Division's bleak beauty and the Bunnymen's ear for a soaring anthem. This base-power would be enough for a perfect 10 in it's own right, but the emotional integrity of the lyrics and vocal delivery raise it to the rarefied levels of music's all-time elite classics. “I wanted to write a poem about a person showing another person compassion” said Allan, and it's fair to say it was mission accomplished. The power certainly hit Geraldine Lennon, friend of the group, who found herself at the centre of the poetic narrative: “I worked for Glasgow city council social work department, on the addiction side. It was a thankless job, but very rewarding at times, too. You learn very quickly that if you expect people to change their life overnight, you'll be let down. But you learn not to judge. James's sister Denise worked in the same office as me. I think a lot of the lyrics come from her going home and talking about difficulties in her relationships with clients. Usually the only time you hear about social workers is when something's fucked up and has been horrendous. I've spoken to social workers who've said, 'That song gets me to work in the morning', and it was the same for me. Somebody has put value on what we do. When James said he was writing a song called 'Geraldine' I thought he was taking the piss. When I heard it I was blown away. A lot of tears. It's probably one of the most special things anyone will ever do for me.” To all of whom this immensely beautiful song concerns, hope springs eternal.

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JAZZ

Flesh by Ken Nordine (1966)
(Ken Nordine, Dick Campbell)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Jazz
TJR saysFrom his LP “Colorsː A Sensuous Listening Experience”, released in 1966. Sometime in 1965, the smoothest, most suave, most soothing voice in all of recorded history was commissioned to script and record a series of commercials for paint; I for one am not surprised to hear that those commercials had people phoning up stations requesting for them to be aired again. When did you ever hear that about an advert? That’s the Nordine effect for you. Although most of the 90 second pieces were surrealistic adventures through the vivid imagination of Ken’s brilliant mind, one or three proffered some insightful social commentary; and one piece in particular served up Ken's finest hour… on every level. You and I both know that the proper colour for “Flesh” to be is the colour it is ; – )

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LATIN

Mucha Muchacha by Esquivel (1962)
(Juan García Esquivel)
Mexico
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Latin
TJR saysFrom his LP "Latin-Esque" (RCA Victor ‎LSA-2418, 1962). A spicy space-lounge epic from the master of the art - Juan García Esquivel! Esquivel’s use of stereo recording was legendary, occasionally featuring two orchestras recording simultaneously in separate studios - such was the case for his 1962 album "Latin-Esque", from which the song “Mucha Muchacha” makes particularly mind-bending use of the separation. With its chorus and brass rapidly alternating stereo sides - it’s a jaw-dropping rhythmic masterpiece of zany pop. The album cover had the subtext “The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow”. For once, the marketing bull was bang on the money!

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LO-FI

The Window Song by The Mountain Goats (1992)
(John Darnielle)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Lo-Fi
TJR saysFirst released on “Pawnshop Reverb” (Shrimper SHR-28) in 1992, a sampler cassette for friend-of-the-group Dennis Callaci's label. At 24, John Darnielle was a late starter as a recording artist, but the über-prolific Californian wasted no time when he got going, releasing an incredible amount of songs on a bewildering array of albums, singles and compilations, notably on cassette and 7" vinyl formats. The Mountain Goats name was 1-year-old when “The Window Song” was released, and it must have shone like a star for the very small number who heard it originally. Fearlessly embracing the home-recording aesthetic, the quality of the songwriting positively demands that you turn the volume up, turn the bass up, and get the treble just so. Mix your own album - does the artist have to do everything for you? Ha! And therein lies the thrill of discovery when sifting for the lo-fi gem, unheard by the masses and their preference for the fully-polished stones. “The Window Song” is a simple affair - an unrealised love is about to be fulfilled; “I moved toward your voice, and my body got so light, I could've walked on eggs right then and not broken a one of them”. Beautiful. Accompanying our plaintive cassonova-in-denial on his acoustic guitar are 2 (or 3?) voices from his “Bright Mountain Choir” (a rotating cast of Rachel Ware, Amy Piatt, Sarah Arslanian, Roseanne Lindley), who often appeared in the early 90s work. They give the romance a two-way feel: “I know you, You're the one, I spent three seasons trying, To pretend that I never knew”. Three seasons have been wasted, but in the immortal words of The Shirelles, “Tonight's The Night”. I can only hope she's not a ghost…

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MIDDLE EASTERN

Leysh Nat’Arak by Natacha Atlas (1995)
(Natacha Atlas, Hamid Mantu, Count Dubulah, Attiah Ahlan)
Belgium
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Middle Eastern
TJR saysFrom her solo debut album “Diaspora” released in February, 1995. The literal translation of “Leysh Nat' Arak” is “Why Are We Fighting?” It has a universal power. Extending her recent work as the face of Transglobal Underground, Natacha delved deeper than ever before into traditional Arabic music, maintaining a foothold in the 21st century all the while. First and foremost, “Leysh Nat' Arak” is a captivating, exotic and classy potpourri of East meets West, Ancient meets Modern. It's all the better when you read more into it, and understand the core message. As the wiki tells, it was inspired by ethnic and religious conflicts in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and Yugoslavia. Written in Arabic, the song calls for peace and unity between Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle East. “Why are we fighting when we are all together? Listen to you heart and you will know the truth”. Futile? Maybe. At least she's trying, and that's a great deal more than can be said for the morally bankrupt warmongers… [worth watching is the single edit video, colourful and poignant, the only drawback being it's a considerably shortened version of the original piece.]

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MOODCORE

Drunk Tank by Tindersticks (1993)
(Stuart Staples, David Boulter, Neil Fraser, Dickon Hinchliffe, Mark Colwill, Alistair Macaulay)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Moodcore
TJR saysTindersticks sprawling self-titled debut dared to go where the (so-called) great American songbook would not; this was the devil's cabaret, an unholy Cohen-Bad-Seeds-like alliance, pulsing in the wee small hours on a rainy night in Soho. Relaying the drama were: Stuart Staples (vocals, guitar), David Boulter (keyboards), Neil Fraser (guitar), Dickon Hinchliffe (violin), Mark Colwill (bass guitar) and Alistair Macaulay (drums, vibraphone). In “Drunk Tank”, the rapidly-sobering wife-beater is a tortured soul: “No more fists on the end of my arms just these hands, trembling, Think of me it never goes away, think of me the way I used to be, I know I said we'd better get home to bed, And I was the one I always stayed out so late, Always forgiving my inconsideration, it's a different story, When you can never go home again, I'm home, home again.” Reflecting the inner torment, the group deliver a gut-wrenching lament with no mercy. It's sheer devastation from the Nottingham six. Stick that in your great songbook.

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NATIVE AMERICAS

Retribution by Tanya Tagaq (2016)
(Tanya Tagaq)
Canada
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Native Americas
TJR saysAs Yoko Ono and Björk did before her, Tanya Tagaq enjoys extremism in her music, and can be politically charged, especially with burning issues close to her Inuit origins such as climate change and Indigenous rights. Canada's cultural and physical genocide shame and her shameful Residential School History burn particularly deeply. Let's get these issues out in the open, dealth with, let's build bridges and let's move on she says, not unreasonably. “Retribution” is the title-track on her 2016 album, where she's joined by her core two of violinist Jesse Zubot and percussionist Jean Martin. The original and memorable music video features Greenlandic performance artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory alongside Tanya. The message is clear - Mother nature's been raped and pillaged, it's a fool's gold and she will have her revenge. I wouldn't argue with Tanya. You can feel the force of nature in this performance - it's a work of art.

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NEW WAVE

Save It For Later by The Beat (1982)
(Dave Wakeling, Roger Charlery, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everett Morton, Lionel Martin)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” New Wave
TJR saysThe sophisticated branch of The Beat was in full-flow in this strings-enhanced classic, the mature production at odds with the teenage-angst at the heart of the song. “Save It For Later” first appeared as a single in April, 1982, several years after it had been written by singer-guitarist Dave Wakeling: “I wrote it when I was a teenager, before The Beat started. We did try it out the first few times in The Beat’s rehearsals, but David Steele [bassist] put the end to that; it was too “old-wave” for him. I don’t know how or why, but he always considered he had a veto in the group. I mean, he was quite a bit of a genius as well [laughs], but he’d have had trouble sharing the stage with Mozart. It was about turning from a teenager to someone in their 20s, about not knowing what to do, because you knew people looked at you as though you were a man, but you knew you didn’t know how to operate in a man’s world. You still were responding to things the same way as you always had as a boy. It was about being lost, about not really knowing your role in the world, trying to find your place in the world, and you'd have all sorts of people telling you this, that, and the other, and advising you, and it didn't actually seem like they knew any better. So it was like keep your advice to yourself. Save it – for later.”.

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NOVELTY

The Intro And The Outro by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (1967)
(Vivian Stanshall)
England
9.6 “All-time classic” Novelty
TJR saysThink I was about 12 or 13 when I picked up on a snippet in Smash Hits (or-such-like) where Buster Bloodvessel was serving up his All-Time Top 10 tunes (he listed “I'm The Urban Spaceman” btw). I had never heard of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band at that stage, but I really wanted to! Eventually, they appeared on some compilations that I picked up and all became clear; turns out Vivian Stanshall's (talented) group of bored art students were just as nuts as I thought they might be. “The Intro And The Outro” opened side two of their debut album, “Gorilla”, released in October, 1967. It was the ultimate piss-take of the old “namecheck the band cliché”, Vivian's roll call seemingly genuine at first as the real seven band members get a shout-out. The absurdity of the situation soon becomes apparent as an improbable cast of tens unfolds including Princess Anne on sousaphone, Charles de Gaulle on accordion (“really wild General!”) and the whole of the Count Basie Orchestra playing a triangle! According to the Wiki, discounting fictional characters, all of the “performers” mentioned were alive at the time of the recording, with the exceptions of Casanova and Adolf Hitler. Adding to the magical surrealism was the fact that Eric Clapton got a shout-out on ukelele whilst actually playing the thing there and then, and Val Doonican got an in-person shout-out for playing himself, adding his goofy catchphrase “hello there!” a couple of times. Onstage namechecks would never sound the same again…

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OPERATIC / CHORAL

Ave Maria by Alessandro Moreschi (1904)
(Johann Sebastian Bach, Charles-François Gounod)
Italy
8.6 “Excellent” Operatic / Choral
TJR saysThis recording of “Ave Maria” by Alessandro Moreschi (the only castrato to have made solo recordings) was captured in Rome on 11th April, 1904. It was released shortly thereafter on a 10" shellac 78 (Gramophone Concert Record ‎G.C. 54774). I was strangely drawn to it about 10 years ago (as I write in 2019) when I was researching and collecting digital MP3s of old cylinder recordings of the late 19th and early 20th century. I'd usually run a mile from anything operatic, but this guy seemed to be crying out to be helped or rescued - I took pity on him! When I then read his back story, my gut feeling seemed uncanny. The following text is largely adapted and re-ordered from Wikipedia… In Europe, when women were not permitted to sing in church or cathedral choirs in the Roman Catholic Church (St. Augustine had forbidden it), boys were castrated (i.e. had their testicles removed) to develop a special high voice and to prevent their voices breaking at puberty. The first documents mentioning castrati are Italian church records from the 1550s. Such singers proved to be very popular in the new world of opera not too long after this; in the 17th century, an Italian opera not featuring at least one renowned castrato in a lead part would be doomed to fail. In the 1720s and 1730s, at the height of the craze for these voices, it has been estimated that upwards of 4,000 boys were castrated annually in the service of art. By the late 18th century, changes in operatic taste and social attitudes spelled the end for the brutal practice, although there was still a place for such singers in the church. After the unification of Italy in 1861 (when the papal states were subsumed), castration for musical purposes was officially made illegal. The last true castrato was Alessandro Moreschi (1858–1922) who served in the Sistine Chapel Choir; he was the only castrato to have made solo recordings, doing so in 1902 and 1904. Inbetween these sessions, the order finally came to forbid castrati from singing in church - on St. Cecilia's Day, 22 November 1903. Although he had been renowned as “The Angel of Rome” at the beginning of his career, some would say he was past his prime when he made his recordings in his mid-40s. Also against him was the fact that the recording technology of the day was not of high quality. Despite these facts, Moreschi's singing approaches the type of star quality that the great castrato performances of the Baroque era must have possessed; there is great fervour in the singing - “a tear in every note” - and Moreschi takes the climactic high B natural without apparent effort. Moreschi retired officially in March 1913, and died in 1922.

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ORCHESTRA DANCE

Misirlou by Joe Maize and his Cordsmen (1958)
(Traditional)
the USA
8.4 “Fantastic” Orchestra Dance
TJR saysFrom his album “Presenting Joe Maize and his Cordsmen” (Decca DL 8817, 1958). Lux & Ivy brought me here! The quartet had been going for some 9 years at this stage, playing top hotels in the mainland States as well as Hawaii, where Joe's virtuosity on the console steel guitar was very well received. Usually accompanying the 46-year-old band leader were: Johnny Cassinari (accordion), 'Little' Joe Tobia (spanish guitar) and Chubby Dorin (bass). Always joking around (in-between skits were part of the act), they also had their TV show and were as watchable as they were listenable. The origins of Misirlou are disputed; some say it was first performed by the Michalis Patrinos rebetiko band in Athens, Greece in 1927 (it was later recorded by them in 1930). The first known recording was credited to the singer Tetos Demtriades in 1927, working alongside Nikos Roubanis, who claimed composer credit for the music. Some think the song originated in the late 19th Century, but it could be older. Sounds to me like a “trad arr Joe Maize” job!

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ORIENTAL

Four Gardens by Julia Holter (2012)
(Julia Holter)
the USA
7.7 “Great” Oriental
TJR saysFrom her album “Ekstasis” released in March, 2012. Julia Holter's an excellent artist who always keeps me on my toes when it comes to genre tagging; she's very experimental and often visits differing territories within the space of the same song, just as spiritual sister Laurie Anderson did before her. Case in point is the dubby/trippy “Four Gardens”, where some of that squalling sax has me wandering down a jazzy path but, thankfully, this is kept at arms length, and it's the sound of the ancient far east which leaves the biggest impression on me as far as tagging goes. As well as the obvious musical motifs that can be heard, Julia's delicate and nuanced approach to her vocals is well suited to the stereotypical prettiness of the Far East. Everything but the kimono!

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PACIFIC

`Ahulili by Genoa Keawe (1965)
(Traditional)
the USA
9.3 “Classic” Pacific
TJR saysFrom her album “Party Hulas” (Hula Records HS-507) released in 1965. ‘Aunty’ Genoa Keawe (1918-2008) was a legendary performer beloved in Hawaii, who was gigging to the very end of her life, even when she was wheelchair bound at the age of 89! She played guitar and banjo and her trademark was to sing with a falsetto technique, incorporating unique yodeling, often holding high notes for a minute or more. So smitten was I with her smile, her story (everyone in Hawaii called her Aunty), her voice and her music that I just had to buy the full album, all of which is terrific. As regards the featured song, the album’s liner notes reveal that it’s a traditional piece and explain a little about the meaning: “You might call this ‘you gotta see mama every night or you don’t see mama at all’… Hawaiian style! The name Ahulili means ‘plenty jealous’.

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POETRY

St Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H Wilson by Mike Garry and Joe Duddell (2015)
(Mike Garry, Joe Duddell, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Poetry
TJR saysThis fantastic work of art, complex and evocative, was voted #8 in the 2015 Festive 50 – how wonderful it was to hear Tony Wilson’s name echoing in the mid-2010s. The ever-enthusiastic Journalist and TV presenter was a great champion of the Arts in the North West, particularly in Manchester, and his support made a huge difference in the region’s profile on a national, and even international, level. He was a man who put his money where his mouth was. “I used to say ‘some people make money and some make history’, which is very funny until you find you can’t afford to keep yourself alive” said Tony wryly with reference to the fact that he was denied access to the £3,500 treatment cost per month necessary to keep him alive. Tony lost his battle with cancer in August 2007, aged 57. Terry Christian made a tribute programme which was broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester on Christmas Day. The programme ended fittingly with a brilliant poem by Mike Garry, who had been invited to write an ode by Terry, who was a big fan of the Mancunian poet. The poem had been popular in Mike’s readings for several years when he met Joe Duddell, who thought it would sound great set to music. The creation, some two years in the making, was released to commemorate what would have been Tony Wilson’s 65th birthday in August 2015.

It’s a beautiful orchestral piece, based on the melodies from New Order’s 1983 Power-Corruption epic, “Your Silent Face”. Original co-writer Bernard Sumner gave the project the big thumbs up: “St Anthony is an ode to the memory of Tony Wilson who was no Saint but he was a good man who did good things by using his position in the media to help musicians, artists and poets to grow. He didn’t need to do that and he didn’t do it for the money, he did it because he was trying to do good for the culture of the City he lived in and loved and that’s pretty saintly to me.” Tony’s friends and acquaintances were queueing ‘round the block to take part in the video, filmed over two days. The cast includes: Steve Coogan, Iggy Pop, Shaun Ryder, Christopher Eccleston, John Cooper Clarke, Philip Glass, Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Morris, Richard Madeley, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Paul Morley, Peter Saville, Miranda Sawyer, Rowetta, Terry Christian, Kloot’s Johnny Bramwell, James guitarist Larry Gott, The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, as well as Mike and Joe themselves. It’s quite the turnout for an incredibly special piece. All profits from the single and video went to Manchester cancer hospital The Christie, where Tony was treated. Every City would love to have a Tony Wilson. Manchester got lucky.

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POP

Be My Baby by The Ronettes (1963)
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Pop
TJR saysFor every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three.” Full of seductive promise, this timeless masterpiece dares to dream and inspires fantasy. Some of the heights scaled in the many irresistible Ronettes (led by Veronica Bennett, with sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley) tracks were otherworldly for the age; producer Phil Spector and his recording engineer Larry Levine fully merit all the plaudits going for their vision and the studio wizardry - even if Spector did rule with an iron hand. After being denied a release of their first recording, and having to silently tolerate the credit for their next four recordings going to another group (The Crystals), the Ronettes hung in there with the producer and were rewarded when “Be My Baby” (featuring a 17-year-old Cher on backing vocals) shot to #2 in the fall of ’63. “Our lives were turned upside down” lead singer Ronnie later recalled. “All the things I'd ever dreamed about were finally coming true.”. 21-year-old Brian Wilson bought the single and set about deconstructing its arrangement and production. Reckons he's heard it 1,000 times since the first impact: “I was driving and I had to pull over to the side of the road — it blew my mind. It was a shock. I started analyzing all the guitars, pianos, bass, drums and percussion, once I got all those learned, I knew how to produce records. I felt like I wanted to try to do something as good as that song and I never did, I’ve stopped trying. It’s the greatest record ever produced. No one will ever top that one.

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POP BALLAD

Perfect Day by Lou Reed (1972)
(Lou Reed)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Pop Ballad
TJR saysFrom his album “Transformer” released in October, 1972. By the standards he’d set with the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed’s self-titled debut LP in April ’72 was, as good as it was, a bit of a plain-Jane affair, literally recorded with Yes men. By sheer contrast, the follow-up, “Transformer”, out just 6 months later, was way-ahead in every department – production, quality of songs, invention and delivery. So perfect is the first side of this LP, it probably stands in my All-Time Top 5 of album sides. Again, Lou recorded this one in London, but this time he chose his cohorts wisely, falling in with David Bowie and Mick Ronson – the album’s co-producers – who were into Lou’s work and also had loads of their own ideas to bring to the party. The sublime “Perfect Day” can be taken innocently as an ode to a beautiful romance or sinisterly to a deadly dalliance; adjust as per your mood of the moment. Mick Ronson’s string arrangements showcase a master craftsman at work; clearly, he’s not your average filthy Rock n Roll animal. Not only the ultimate Lou Reed song; “Perfect Day” stands as one of thee greatest songs ever written.

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POST-PUNK

Blindness [peel session] by The Fall (2004)
(Mark E. Smith, Spencer Birtwistle)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Post-Punk
TJR saysRecorded on 4th August 2004 and first broadcast 8 days later on the 12th. Brilliantly, a huge amount of the history of The Fall was played out tirelessly in a Radio 1 series that ran from episode 1 (1978) to episode 24 (2004). With a constantly evolving cast and dramatic storylines, the Fall's Peel Sessions were a bit like the Archers, but for musical intellectuals! The Fall recorded more sessions for Peel's programmes than any other artist; there can be no doubt this was a mutually beneficial relationship. It was business as usual as John broadcast from home on the 12th August, 2004. his episode commentary at various intervals reading: “As regular listeners will know, there are few words in English finer than, 'tonight, a new session from The Fall' … After that you're probably thinking why only 24 sessions? … Well I am tempted to say that this is possibly the best Fall session that we've ever had but I probably say that about all of them.” With The Fall there was permanently a feeling of excitement that the next track might be their best yet - and that feeling was justified when “Blindness” was unleashed. Hilariously, as can be heard on the video intro, Peelie had a false start, not once but twice as playback sources seemed to get mixed up with the Steveless track “Not” (yes, as I was saying it was business as usual, we always laughed with him!) Once we finally got going, the track rumbled out of the radio like a champion horse off the mark. Where did THIS come from?

We took a break from Tuff Gong to go for a drink in The Original Wire pub. Pretty much the worst pub in Warrington. I remember a cloud of flies buzzing around in there. In the car on the way back we heard witness by Roots Manuva and Spencer [Birtwistle] got very excited. We were inspired by the groove and I think Spencer started the beat, then Steve [Trafford] came up with the bass and me [Jim Watts] and Ben [Pritchard] came in with our guitar parts. Then it was put forward to Mark as a demo and he went in to do his vocal sessions and he made it a Fall song. I remember the sessions were pretty much - day one band recording - day two vocals - day three mixing. Or something close to that, wasnt a long recording.” Witness the fitness of The Fall at their thundering and mesmerizing best, yes, ripping off Roots Manuva, but propelling his 2001 tune into murkier and duskier realms, inhabited by a savage, seething beast of rhythm and a fevered madman sing-shouting bewildering exclamations on multiple storylines which somehow manage to link the blind (then) home secretary David Blunkett (“blind man, have mercy on me!”), state control (“Said poster with a picture: "Do you work?") and masonic rituals (“I was on one leg”)! Right there, we were in the weird, wonderful and frightening 26-year-old world of The Fall. Just 10 weeks after this recording, John Peel was dead; this session marked the end of an era. “Blindness” burned fiercer than anything which went before - that there was no fade away on the Fall's Peel sessions is tantamount to the working ethics of a great DJ and an awesome group. “Well this has been just magnificent I think, and thanks Mark and the rest of you for making an old man very happy.” ~ John Peel, 12th August, 2004

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PROG

The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica) by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band (1969)
(Don Van Vliet)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Prog
TJR saysFrom their album “Trout Mask Replica” released in June, 1969. Coming into that LP - had I lived the period - my position would have been that I trusted Beefheart completely; he had proven himself to have the right feel for the blues, and his appetite for messing around with genre-defying techniques was a healthy one. I'm guessing that nothing quite prepared fans for what they actually received when they picked up their copies; a surreal sensory onslaught, decidedly avant-garde, wilfully beyond genre, a world away from what had gone before. As far as my subjective feeling goes, it's extraordinarily good only in places, “The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)” emerging as the major highlight for me, a rare moment of spontaneity in a notoriously regimental affair. The title itself, as well as lyrical fragments and the frenzied vocal delivery, allude to the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, specifically Herbert Morrison's live reporting of the event. The spoken word was performed by guitarist Jeff Cotton, with producer Frank Zappa interjecting at the beginning and at the end of the piece. He later recalled: “I was in the studio mixing some other tapes, and the band that's actually playing on 'The Blimp' is actually The Mothers Of Invention. The vocal was recorded by telephone. He [Van Vliet] had just written these lyrics, and he had one of the guys in the band recite it to me over the phone. I taped it in the studio, and recorded it onto the piece of tape that I had up at the time, which was my track, 'Charles Ives'!” Beefheart himself can be heard blowing away on hunting horn in the background, and he steps up for some conversation with his old buddy at the end. It's nice to hear he and Zappa making weird and wonderful music together, having fun and working harmoniously!

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PROTO-PUNK

Roadrunner [1972] by The Modern Lovers (1976)
(Jonathan Richman)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Proto-Punk
TJR saysJust to be clear, there are two main versions of this song - one recorded in 1972 (which I've tagged as Proto-Punk) and one recorded in 1974 (which I've tagged as New Wave). The latter “baked in California” version was first to see the light of day, recorded in 1974 with the uncredited Earth Quake backing Jonathan. This version was first out on the b-side to “Friday On My Mind” by Earth Quake (Beserkley B-5701) circa springtime '75. It also appeared in July 1975 on the v/a compilation LP “Beserkley Chartbusters Volume 1 - Home of the Hits” (Beserkley BZ-0044). It was often titled “Roadrunner - Once” on subsequent releases. The definitive faster / punkier version was recorded in 1972 with John Cale as producer. It was first issued on “The Modern Lovers” LP ‎(Home Of The Hits HH-1910) in August, 1976. It was often titled “Roadrunner - Twice” on subsequent releases. They're both perfect tens to be fair - but the '72 original is the best!

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PSYCHEDELIA

L’America by The Doors (1971)
(Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Psychedelia
TJR saysFrom their album “L.A. Woman” in 1971. Mr Mojo Risin and his boys, bristling with tensions between them, had sparks flying left, right and centre in 1971 but, for me, they emerged with their greatest set – and that was no mean feat after the dynamism of their previous output. That said, the albums greatest track - “L’America” - was recorded (and rejected) for the soundtrack to Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 psychedelic drama, “Zabriskie Point” more than a year before the L.A. Woman sessions began. The Italian auteur visited the band in the recording studio, but their intensity was too much for him, as Ray Manzarek explained: “We played it for him, and it was so loud, it pinned him up against the wall. When it was over, he thanked us and fled!” Michelangelo's loss was L.A. Woman's gain and it opened side 2 of the LP, the dark-light adventurism of the highly unique song encapsulating all that is great about the Doors, with tension-release tricks to the fore. Manzarek's keyboards are especially excellent, painting in many off-tone shades. “I took a trip down to L'America, To trade some beads for a pint of gold” Rip-off the Latin Americas, yeah! All is not rosy for the Latino immigrants: “Friendly strangers came to town, All the people put them down.” Whichever way you look at it, this song sounds like a bad-trip. These cats were wild!

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PUNK

Anarchy In The UK by Sex Pistols (1977)
(John Lydon, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Punk
TJR saysI started to like some Sex Pistols tunes around 1980 when I was 11. At first it was “Somethin' Else” and “Who Killed Bambi” - catchy, funny, hey, this is kinda cool thought the young me. Fast forward to Christmastime 1982 and I'm listening to John Peel's Festive 50 on my new prized possession - a personal radio. When it came to the #1 being played I was gripped - then it happened. When those big cascading power chords came bursting in and Johnny snarled “Right…now” I nearly wet the bed with excitement (thankfully it never came to that). Suffice to say I felt a super-strong connection right there - this was my DJ, these were my people and I was so proud that the Pistols were #1 in a chart. A lifetime bond and a non-conformist pledge was established. But that's quite enough about me…

The 26th November, 1976, goes down in history as the date of the big bang by which all of music's revolutions must be measured. In mid-70s Britain, a huge number of teenagers were bored with the blandness of the music, were disillusioned with the state of the nation and had worries about their life prospects. Someone had to say bollocks to it, Punk had to happen. Seizing the day, the Sex Pistols released their explosive debut single, declaring themselves to be the anarchic anti-christ. They were sent to destroy Eagles and overthrow Queen - make no mistake, this revolution was cultural and musical. Detonating the bomb were: Johnny Rotten (20, lead vocals), Steve Jones (21, guitar, backing vocals), Glen Matlock (20, bass, backing vocals) and Paul Cook (20, drums). Sure, this “new punk” thing had been bubbling under for a couple of years, but this was the explosion which sent ripples all throughout the UK, energetically bristling with a sociopolitical venom and delivered with an antagonistic seethe. Feel the wrath of the Rotten bombast: “Right…now…hahahahaha! I am an anti-christ-ah and I am an anar-chist-ah” I mean, holy fuck, it's the “devil” on the radio! “How many ways to get what you want, I use the best I use the rest, I use the N.M.E. I use anarchy… Is this the M.P.L.A.? Or is this the U.D.A.? Or is this the I.R.A.? I thought it was the U.K.! Or just another country, another council tenancy… I get pissed! Destroy!

The explosion may only have been underground initially (the single actually hit #38 in the pop charts), but this was THEE big bang. Scenes and ‘zines burst into life all over the western world; the D.I.Y. ethics of which continue to reverberate in the 21st century. Punk, the fashion statement, soon faded, but the floating nebulae of the explosive victory has never stopped, and can felt to this day in musical sub-genres, fashion and attitude not only in Britain, but in countless cutting-edge music-loving scenes the world over. The Sex Pistols and their-likes were the real Jukebox Rebels, and made things better for you and I today. Nasty nihilism never sounded so appealing, before or after this incendiary behemoth.

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R N B

Dy-na-mi-tee by Ms. Dynamite (2002)
(Leonard Hibbert, Niomi Daley, Salaam Gibbs)
England
7.4 “Really good” R n B
TJR saysFrom her mercury prize winning debut album “A Little Deeper” in June, 2002. The good fun auto-biographical single gave her a #5 hit in the UK pop charts: “I remember all the house parties that took place, bein' in my bed upstairs and we could still feel the bass, And my cousins and my brothers we'd sit up all night, Listenin' 2 my family vibin' till the mornin' light”. It's an engaging listen - and the refrains from Musical Youth's “Pass The Dutchie” are a nice touch. The Londoner hit big at 21: “If you had asked me back then what I wanted to do, I would have said I'd be a teacher. I'd never thought I could have a career in music. One day, I was living in a hostel, going to college and on jobseeker's allowance, the next, I was walking into my local newsagent and seeing my name and face splashed all over the papers. It was as quick as that. It was really good fun, but there was loads of pressure that I didn't acknowledge at the time. I'm definitely the kind of person who, when the pressure is on, convinces themselves that everything's fine. It's only when I get out of it that I think: what the hell?” Incidentally, her £20,000 Mercury prize money was donated to the NSPCC - she's a real life dynamite gal!

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REGGAE

Picture On The Wall by The Natural-Ites and The Realistics (1983)
(Ossie Samms)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Reggae
TJR saysReleased as a single circa April, 1983. 14-year-old me fell deeply in love with this tune at the very point of it's birth; it's burned deeply into my psyche and soul and will remain so until the day I die. 2-Tone was my first love, and now it was time for a deeper exploration of JA music - even if this one was made in the UK (I'm so sorry Jamaica)! The Natural-Ites were a Nottingham based vocal trio (Ossie Samms, Percy McLeod, Neil Foster) who modelled themselves on their great heroes, Culture. (At this stage, it might be pertinent to add that Culture's “Lion Rock” grappled so hard to win my Reggae #1 spot that I remain emotionally drained after the internal battle!) Although they would later consolidate as one cohesive group (The Natural-Ites) in the early days they were backed by The Realistics (usually 7 or 8 members strong), each free to express their own identity. The musicians were top-notch but unheralded, which was par for the course in the UK reggae scene at the time. We can gauge a sense of just how good they were by a little anecdote about Albert 'Itico' Barnes, a trumpeter who'd been touring and recording with Culture as part of their impressive horn section. Legend has it that when Culture stopped off in Nottingham in 1983, Itico heard Natural-Ites, hit it off with them, decided to stay, joining the group! Noble, peaceful and loving, the song celebrates Haile Selassie I, Jah to the Rastafari: “He sit upon the seat of justice (true, true), Defending the poor and the weak and the fatherless, In my house there's a picture on the wall, Rastafari sit upon his throne”. It reached #1 in the UK Reggae chart, but mainstream chart success proved to be elusive, the single peaking at #97 in October, 1983, several months after release. Still, the fact that they made it that far as a wholly independent entity was an achievement in itself. Championed by John Peel all throughout the year, “Picture On The Wall” was voted as the 10th best song of the year in the listeners annual poll, The Festive 50. This was another fine achievement within the confines of Peel's post-punk-indie-centric listenership. Respect is due.

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ROCK

Ace Of Spades by Motörhead (1980)
(Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Rock
TJR saysReleased as a single in October, 1980, before settling down to live as the title-track on their album released just a couple of weeks later. It's always great to see “no-compromise” artists shaking up the pop charts, and such was the case with this thundering beast of a track. Rumbling the 'quake were: Lemmy (bass, lead vocals), 'Fast' Eddie Clarke (lead guitar) and Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor (drums). In what surely stands as one the greatest intros of all-time, Lemmy's overdriven, apocalyptic bass sets an ominous tone… get ready for the assault! Much credit goes to Vic Maille at the production helm who “used an expert ear to translate the monstrous live sound and feel of the band to vinyl”. As with many artists, Lemmy was proud of his signature song, but also got sick of it: “I used gambling metaphors, mostly cards and dice — when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm more into the slot machines actually, but you can't really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down. Most of the song's just poker, really - 'I know you've got to see me, read 'em and weep, Dead man's hand again, aces and eights' - that was Wild Bill Hickock's hand when he got shot. To be honest, although 'Ace of Spades' is a good song, I'm sick to death of it now. Two decades on, when people think of Motörhead, they think 'Ace of Spades'. We didn't become fossilised after that record, you know. We've had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it so we still play it every night. For myself, I've had enough of that song… I'm glad we got famous for that rather than for some turkey, but I sang 'The eight of spades' for two years and nobody noticed…” No one lives forever, but songs do. Well played Lemmy and the boys.

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ROCK N ROLL / ROCKABILLY

The Container Drivers by The Fall (1980)
(Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
TJR saysFrom their third new music album “Grotesque (After The Gramme)” released in November, 1980. There was one change to the starting line-up, with a 16-year-old Paul Hanley (bassist Steve’s younger brother) replacing Mike Leigh on drums. If this is a deliberate policy, it seems to be working well, and this rough-and-ready offering – loose-caboose Post-Punk-Rock-a-Billy with kazoo accompaniment and a frontman ranting ten-to-the-dozen – is a winner all the way. He liked a bit of rockabilly did Mark, and owned at least one album of truck driving hits. With hindsight, a merger of the two was inevitable! When side one's closer, “The Container Drivers”, blasts in, the excitement factor is sky-high; they're playing like a group possessed, and the energy assault doesn’t let up for a second. I dunno what his beef his, but MES doesn’t seem too enamoured with HGV Harry: “Bad indigestion, bad bowel retention, speed for their wages, sun tan, torn short sleeves”. Of course, having served time as a docker’s clerk, it could well be he's settling an old score with big-gut Eric, the stretchy co-op jeans-wearing guy from Rochdale, but that would be idle gossip. One thing’s for certain - he enjoys a good sneer and it’s very funny. Big Eric’s not best-pleased mind.

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ROCK N ROLL BALLAD

One Night by Elvis Presley (1958)
(Dave Bartholomew, Pearl King)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Rock n Roll Ballad
TJR saysRecorded February 23, 1957 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood. It was first out as a single in October, 1958, as RCA continued to drip-feed new singles from old recordings whilst Elvis served his two-year mandatory stint in the U.S. Army. Making the magic happen with Elvis were his trusty solid core of Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass) and D.J. Fontana (drums). The song had been done as “One Night Of Sin” by Smiley Lewis in '56 and, although Elvis initially chose to record it with a faithful lyrical rendition, he was over-ruled by management. However, such was his magnetism and sensuous delivery, the sanitization was academic. “One Night” was sex-on-45: “Always lived, very quiet life, I ain't never did no wrong, Now I know that life without you, Has been too lonely too long.” The frustration, the hunger, the desire - it's all there in Elvis's incredible delivery. His use of the common language “I ain't never did no wrong” accentuates the raw sexual power, and the synergy with his “Blue Moon boys” is uncanny and electric. A big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, the song made #4 in the US and went all the way to #1 in the UK. “brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious… this rancid-smelling aphrodisiac I deplore ~ Frank Sinatra”. Dearie me, calm down Frank. It's only Rock n Roll.

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SKA / ROCKSTEADY

707 by Prince Buster and his All Stars (1963)
(Henry Mancini)
Jamaica
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Ska / Rocksteady
TJR saysIt's extremely difficult to be exact about the first release / first billing for this magnificent reading of Henry Mancini's “Peter Gunn”, but I'd be inclined to believe that the first issue would be on Buster's own Wildbell label, and that it would be first released in Jamaica, probably in 1963, though possibly in 1964. The 45 I'm talking about was paired with “Faith”, both sides billed as Prince Buster and his All Stars, though the Prince himself would almost certainly have played no part in the instrumental “707”. The entrepreneurial music-lover had little trouble in attracting the best players to his stable; although cast members of his All Stars would come and go, the brand name stayed strong always. The legendary Don Drummond (as confirmed by Heather Augustyn in her 2013 bio “The Genius and Tragedy of the World's Greatest Trombonist”) was at the heart of the blazing horns in this one. It's sheer dynamite. Also, I love how the bass continually revs up, but never quite goes full throttle, leaving the horn players in full charge of the record's mighty dynamic. Did you know Mancini built “Peter Gunn” from the bassline of “Down The Road Apiece”? Gotta love a bit of Pop trivia!

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SKETCH / SKIT

The Vidiot by Ken Nordine and The Fred Katz Group (1957)
(Ken Nordine, Fred Katz, Harold Gaylor, John Pisano, Red Holt, Richard Marx)
the USA
9.2 “Classic” Sketch / Skit
TJR saysFrom his album “Word Jazz” in 1957. This superb sketch, semi ad-lib, is set in a TV interview situation and is basically a conversation between Jim “The Vidiot”, a guest (who comes across like a patient) who's addicted to TV, and the less-than-understanding interviewer (who comes across like a therapist), played by Ken Nordine, who picks away at the poor man. The sketch hasn't aged a bit; the victims and the celebrities may be different, but the addiction is deeper and more widespread than ever before. Step away from the smartphone!

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SOFT ROCK / A.O.R.

Coney Island Baby by Lou Reed (1975)
(Lou Reed)
the USA
9.3 “Classic” Soft Rock / A.O.R.
TJR saysClosing track on his LP of the same name in December, 1975. The album was, on the surface, a “play the game” concession, as Lou is backed by a group of oh-so conventional session rockers. The one saving grace is Lou himself though; his vocal style continues to be effortlessly cool, as he drags and drawls it all around, with those affections which are uniquely his. Single-handedly, he lifts the set out of the mediocre and into the realms of a perfectly acceptable good ‘un. The title-track summed up what the album was really all about – his Coney Island Baby was Rachel, his new transgender lover, who’d be around for the next couple of years: “Just remember different people have peculiar tastes and the glory of love might see you through.” Well, I never. In 1975, that was probably half of his potential sales gone right away. Their loss.

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SONGWRITER

Ocean Rain by Echo and The Bunnymen (1984)
(Will Sergeant, Ian McCulloch, Les Pattinson, Pete de Freitas)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Songwriter
TJR saysThe title-track which closed out their 1984 magnum opus in a blaze of glory, with McCulloch's metaphorical brilliance portraying the majesty, the turmoil and the ultimate tragedy of a stormy relationship. In keeping with the darkly romantic piece, the 35-strong Parisian orchestra are beautifully restrained until the intensely emotional 45 seconds finale, as the tortured soul screams from beneath “the waaaaaaves!” Said guitarist Will Sergeant: “We wanted to make something conceptual with lush orchestration; not Mantovani, something with a twist. It's all pretty dark. The whole mood is very windswept; European pirates, a bit Ben Gunn, dark and stormy, battering rain, all of that.” Mission accomplished Will. In a spectacular fail, Rolling Stone's 2-star review said that it was “Too often a monochromatic dirge of banal existential imagery cloaked around the mere skeleton of a musical idea”. Talk about missing the point. Any great composer of any century would be proud of this exquisite work of high art.

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SOUL

Bring It On Home To Me [live '63] by Sam Cooke (1963)
(Samuel Cooke)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Soul
TJR saysRecorded live at the Harlem Square Club, Miami, Florida, on 12th January, 1963. That this stands as the greatest moment in soul music is not in doubt for me, Sam surpassing his own awesome May '62 studio single with an incredibly raw, visceral and intensely exciting performance in front of his adoring, most loyal African-American fans. The two-way feed between artist and his downtown audience is super-charged from beginning to end, almost reimagining the most frenzied of gospel sessions in a rock n roll environment. Shockingly, the RCA executives deemed the work too loud and raucous, and out of sync with their vision of Cooke, the palatable crossover 'race music' singer for a conservative pop audience. Unbelieveably, it was 22 years later when a curious and determined new recruit, Gregg Geller, rescued the tapes from the RCA vaults and persuaded the company to release the album, which was duly met with world acclaim. How can these people get it so wrong? Regards the song itself, somewhat audaciously, Sam has sole writers credit, even though it's entrenched in the melody and structure of Charles Brown and Amos Milburn’s 1959 duet single “I Wanna Go Home” (Ace Records 561). Cooke had been a fan of Charles Brown and would later record a number of his tunes on his live 1963 Night Beat album. Cooke apparently heard Charles Brown play the song in Cincinnati nightclubs, re-worked the lyrics, and, according to some sources, even invited Brown to play piano on the single session. The back story may be messy but, ultimately, who cares? The end result is an absolute triumph, and what a pleasure it is to hear Sam Cooke roaming free at the peak of his mighty, electrifying soul power.

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SOUL BALLAD

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) by Aretha Franklin (1967)
(Ronnie Shannon)
the USA
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Soul Ballad
TJR saysFrom her album “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” released in March, 1967. After six years recording with Columbia Records, Aretha Franklin made one of the best decisions of her career when she signed with Atlantic Records and set to work with producer Jerry Wexler and the famed musicians at Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama. The chemical reaction was highly potent. Album highlight “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” continues the early perfection. This was the first song that Aretha brought to the table in the Atlantic sessions, written for her by Ronnie Shannon. Aretha’s talents are all to the fore – her piano caress lays the foundation, and her extraordinary ability to impact emotionally all the way from breathy whispers to ecstatic screams seals one of the classiest musical performances in all of recorded history.

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SPEECH / CHAT

Bicentennial Blues [live '76] by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson (1976)
(Gil Scott-Heron)
the USA
8.5 “Excellent” Speech / Chat
TJR saysRecorded with Fedco mobile recording unit on the 2nd July 1976 at Paul's Mall, Boston, Massachusetts. Released on their album “It's Your World” in November, 1976. This piece, performed by Scott-Heron without accompaniment, straddles regular speech as well as poetry, but I plumped for the former as the primary tag. Gil talks about one of his favourite subjects - the blues! “But the blues has always been totally American. As American as apple pie, as American as the blues. The question is why? Why should the blues be so at home here? Well, America provided the atmosphere.” It's a pleasure to listen to the great orator in full flow, his biting wit clear to all who listen. America's still got the blues…

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SPEEDCORE

D.L.S. 2009 by meep (2009)
(?)
?
7.7 “Great” Speedcore
TJR saysFrom the compilation “Aaaaargh” (Digital Vomit DVR-047) released in 2009. Don't know anything about the identity / origin of meep but Discogs suggests that the moniker existed between 2004 and 2012. The Digital Vomit label was an electronic music collective that existed from 2005-2015. All creative decisions and release funding was done by the group at large and not specific individuals. The aim of Digital Vomit was to be completely open and democratic, allowing for all individuals to participate and contribute, and for the "label" to become completely self-sustaining without any real financial risk or burden for anyone. Although the concept sounds very hippy-ish, most of the DigiVom members were said to be degenerate misanthropes!!!

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STORYTELLING

Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 2 by Ivor Cutler (1975)
(Ivor Cutler)
Scotland
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Storytelling
TJR saysFrom his album “Velvet Donkey” in 1975, the second of Ivor’s three mid 70’s LP’s for Virgin Records, featuring 12 songs, 11 poems and 8 stories. Following the series that had begun on the preceding years' “Dandruff”, “Velvet Donkey” contained another two episodes from the nostalgically evocative semi-autobiographical works “Life In A Scotch Sitting Room”, a series of monologues based on Cutler’s Depression-era childhood that he would finally complete in 1978. Best of all these pieces is the playfully bizarre “Episode 2”, with it’s amazing tale of how much fun could be had with 3 grains of sand. They, most certainly, don't write 'em like that anymore.

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TRADITIONAL BAND

4-4 March: Scotland The Brave by The Grantown and District Pipe Band (1976)
(Traditional)
Scotland
8.8 “Excellent” Traditional Band
TJR saysFirst out on their LP “Popular Pipe Tunes” ‎(Lismor Recordings LILP-5050) in 1976. The tune is led by Ian Fraser (Pipe Major) and A. Masson (Drum Major). In his liner notes to the 1976 LP, Leonard Grassick wrote: “Grantown and District Pipe Band (formerly known as The Clan Grant Pipe Band) was reformed four years ago after being in abeyance for many years. Much of its present success is due to the youthful policy which it now pursues, with five of its present pipers still of school age. The area covered for band recruitment is large and in years to come it will inevitably grow in size because of the current educational policy to teach piping in all the area schools. Grantown, situated in the beautiful Spey Valley, is an ideal centre for any pipe band, with the lovely woodland areas, the heather-clad hills and the fast flowing River Spey winding its way along the valley. The band takes advantage of this setting and travels at weekends to the various villages to entertain both locals and visitors, who enjoy hearing Scotland's traditional music.

I find myself completely powerless to resist this. It stirs the heart and soul of all Tartan Army cohorts and, indeed, any true Scot, second only to “Flower Of Scotland” in terms of national anthem stature. The 15th June, 1982, goes down in history as the first time the Scottish national team were introduced by an “unofficial” national anthem. Documents published in 2010 later revealed that Margaret Thatcher's government feared that letting Jock Stein’s side ditch “God Save the Queen” in favour of this rousing tune would stoke nationalist sentiments, legitimise the campaign for independence, and weaken the United Kingdom in terms of the world's perception. Resisting the lobbying, Ernie Walker of the Scottish Football Association stood firm. To celebrate the occasion, Scotland defeated New Zealand by five goals to two! The tune also represented Scotland at the 1986 and 1990 FIFA World Cups, before making way for the aforementioned “Flower Of Scotland”. In regards to the history of the tune, respected historian Charlie Gore reckons that it dates to the early 1890s, and that it was known under the titles “Brave Scotland” and “Scotland For Ever”. It was published in “The Gesto Collection of Highland Music” by Keith Norman MacDonald in 1895. The earliest reference close to the now established title was found by Edinburgh collector and researcher Jack Campin in a Boys Brigade pipe tune book from 1911, where it appeared as “Scotland, the Brave!!!” Lyrics were added circa 1950 by the Glasgow-born journalist-author-songwriter Cliff Hanley, the intention being that it was to be sung by Robert Wilson in a musical at the Empire Theatre, Glasgow. It caught on with folks and is now likely to last forever!

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TRANCE ROCK

6 A.M. Jullandar Shere by Cornershop (1995)
(Tjinder Singh)
England
10.0 “Utterly Perfect” Trance Rock
TJR saysFrom their album “Woman's Gotta Have It” released in May, 1995. Reportedly, the track in question was recorded in a decidedly non-glamorous makeshift studio in a Holloway bedsit which just goes to show that heart, soul and vision trumps lush and polished anyday! On Wiiija's 99er (i.e. 99p) series, an edited one-sided 7" teaser of “6 A.M. Jullandar Shere” had been delivered a month earlier, whetting the appetite for the album which quickly followed. Book-ending the set were two extended versions of Jullandar Shere, a six minutes 6 A.M. opener and a nine minutes 7:20 A.M. closer; can you get too much of a good thing? On this evidence, NO! So what's it all about (Alfie)? I'm very rarely up at 6am, I've never been to Jalandhar, and you wouldn't see me for dust if I stumbled upon a tiger. As I begin my research into the piece, I discover that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's family originally came from Jalandhar in the Punjab region, and he championed the devotional music of the Sufis, a form which was characterized by the long, hypnotic mantra. Speaking to Songfacts in 2017, group leader Tjinder Singh related to that: “I didn't really hear Western music until the age of about eight. Maybe even later. The first music I got into was religious music. That's Sikh devotional music. Punjabi folk music. We also had an old Sikh temple. Half the hall conducted the Sikh devotion, and the back of the hall was the Christian denomination, and in the middle you had the kitchen. So you'd eat and you'd hear speakers from the Sikh denomination mixing in with the clapping going on. I've always loved gospel music. I'm a big collector of gospel stuff.” In the same interview, the songwriter interestingly revealed that he's not a practicing Sikh anymore, and that he's now a Darwinist. For sure, one thing remains constant and true; Cornershop's conjoining of eastern ideas and western forms delivered spectacular musical results. Lyrically, I was curious to know what I've been unwittingly singing along to all these years…

In these days of the 20th Century, we seem to have many leaders. Let us have faith in truth, whomever we believe in” reads the translation from Tjinder's opening salvo. “apaan ekta vich rahiye, jai jai” (trans: “let us live in union - then we all win, win”). So far, so good. The main hookline is introduced @ 00:52 and repeats often throughout the piece: “prapati kariye tan dukhaan to vi darie, tan das terian dukhaan mera laal, kehnde, das terian dukhiaan mera laal” (trans: “We aim to achieve, And of hurt let us worry, Tell of your hurting my beloved, They say tell me about your sorrows my beloved”) We seem to be in the middle of some sort of confessional scenario. Several chants of “teri aasis chaunde” (“your forgiveness is wanted”) emerge @ 3:20. Whether you believe or not, you can't possibly beat this; give in and sing up is the official rebel policy here, especially when I think back to how I handled ace gospel records from LaVern Baker, Sam Cooke, Bunker Hill and such-like. Empowering the trippy mantra is the bedazzling combination of sitar, percussion, simply played guitar and bass, keyboard swirls and a vocal which gives the effect of being chanted through a megaphone in a way that reminds me of MES. The whole is simply mesmerizing, and the power and the glory of the oh-so subtle bass-lift @ 5:33 does it for me everytime. Et voila, the pucker devotional music of the Punjab meets the shades-on cool of the Velvet Underground, Pavement et al. Who knew this would work? What vision, and what a performance. I've always been mystified as to why the sitar exploded into Art-Rock in the 1960s, but failed to maintain the high-profile after being enjoyed by so many. Was it lack of artistry or was there no demand? “When we first started out, it was quite a challenge for any community that we played to, whether that was white or Asian. They couldn’t really stand it, either of them” recalled singer-songwriter Tjinder Singh in 2012, offering some sort of clue. Why aren't more folks open to this otherworldly excellence I wonder? Nevertheless, an appreciative high-profile audience was found for this one, with the likes of David Byrne, Brian Eno, Joe Strummer, Thurston Moore and John Peel all queuing up to heap thanks and praise on the work. These are my kind of gods, and this is my kind of church.

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TRIPBEAT

Temple Head [album version] by Transglobal Underground (1993)
(Tim Whelan, Hamilton Lee, Nick Page, R. Harris)
England
10.0 “All-time classic” Tripbeat
TJR saysFrom their album “Dream Of 100 Nations (Nation Records NR021-CD) released in October, 1993. Since first being released as their debut single in '91, the piece had appeared in several different mixes, but the album version of '93 shades it for me. “Now coming from a different hemisphere we bring you… global music” was the opening salvo on the album; these dark, light and exotic textures seemed multi-continental, but were still very much a positive by-product of London in the 1990s. “The kind of record that makes you proud to be an Earthling” said the Melody Maker when naming it their single of the week, a quote which says so much. At the heart of the multi-cultural vision were three producers; Tim 'Kasiek' Whelan and Hamilton 'Mantu' Lee (both ex-Furniture) and Nick 'Dubulah' Page, all of whom adopted these mysterious psuedonyms, very much in keeping with the theatrical nature of their creative endeavour. They slowed down hip-hop, sped up dub and, as their website puts it: “‘Temple Head’ caused delight and confusion in equal measure. DJs such as Andy Weatherall Danny Rampling and Monkey Pilot caught on fast while other DJs, confronted by a record featuring tablas, Polynesian vocals and playing at 95bpm, simply played the thing at 45rpm instead of 33. It became Single of the Week in Melody Maker and got played on daytime Radio One. The first public faces of TGU appeared; three Nepalese Temple guardians, an identity which caught the mood of the single and saved effort on photo sessions.” The entire album was a masterclass in fusion and TGU represent modern London at its very best, celebrating music as a universal language. Nice dream.



TJR presents… Rebel Tablets (via Spotify)

  • 6 tracks are unavailable on the Spotify version of the playlist; Mahotella Queens (Africana), Billy Connolly (Comedy), Ultimate Productions (Jingle), Joe Maize (Orchestra Dance), Captain Beefheart (Prog) & Meep (Speedcore).
  • The Shu-De track is mis-named on Spotify; whilst it says “Aian Dudal” it is, in fact, the desired “Beezhinden (Coming Back From Beijing)”.
  • Kraftwerk's “Europa Endlos” is unavailable in my region, so has been replaced with “Europe Endless”.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png




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