18/09/2020: “A Andorinha Da Primavera” by Madredeus

Madredeus could loosely be said to be a Portuguese folk band. They come from a tradition of fado music, which is a distinctive style of mixed guitar/stringed instruments, and depressing/beautiful female vocals. Take your pick.

The style is incredibly old, soaked through with centuries worth of tear-soaked tradition.

This one has a xylophone or marimba of some kind, adding further notes of pleasant but haunting contemplation.

The song has a soothing quality that is reminiscent of Muzak, or elevator music. Which isn’t to say that this song is bland – quite the contrary. It’s a very rich, full and deep song.

The piece was released in 1997 on O Paraiso.

17/09/2020: “The Chase (Smooth Mix)” by Juan Atkins

Juan Atkins is one of the three legendary ‘originators’ of Detroit Techno. You could say, without too much hyperbole, that techno wouldn’t exist without him.

Model 500 is one of Juan’s alias. Although the other mixes of this song are fine – this mix does it for me. It does what it says on the tin. Smoooth…

In all seriousness though, this is a classic piece of Detroit history. Even though this was released in 1989, it still sounds ahead of its time today, in my opinion.

16/09/2020: “Valerie (1987 Mix)” by Steve Winwood

The original ’82 mix of this is okay. But this blog is not in the business of okay. It’s all about the bangers here!

This version is peak 80s – so if you like 80s music, you’ll no doubt love this. And quite possibly have done some dubious karaoke to it.

As themes for 80s pop songs go, ‘Valerie’ is fairly standard. Guy meets girl, guy loses girl, guy misses girl. However, the song was written, apparently, with a certain singer called Valerie Carter in mind, whose star was fading due to drug abuse.

The ’87 version did a lot better than the original, because it’s a lot better. It reached number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

15/09/2020: “Man On The Corner” by Genesis

I would argue that this represents a zenith of the Genesis musical history. A lot of people would disagree…

However, that’s in great part because Genesis has a fragmented fanbase as a result of their development over the years.

As I’ve touched on previously, 1981’s classic Abacab was a big change for Genesis. It marks the real start of the Banks/Rutherford/Collins act held by many to be the band’s golden age.

A big part of that change was driven by Phil Collins. You can really hear his trademarks on this one – the familiar vocals, the stadium filling drums, the dark lyrics.

Abacab was written specifically to avoid the band becoming to stale, and drove at a more pop oriented direction. Certainly, this isn’t the most complex song musically, but it packs a punch!

The track is about a troubled homeless man who harasses passersby. I think it’s an effective take on the terrible loneliness of many homeless people – a side to living on the streets which is often forgotten about.

‘Man On The Corner’ featured first on Acacab, and was released a year later as a single, in ’82.

14/09/2020: “Tonka (Menta Remix)” by Jammin’

Menta are a fairly obscure duo, making garage at the time (and place) which it morphed into dubstep. But actually, one half of Menta was in famous speed garage group 187 Lockdown, whereas the other?

Now goes by DJ Artwork. Pretty famous amongst the youth, you might say.

This banger encapsulates the kind of sound which was around in Croydon in the early noughties. It doesn’t take a professional musicologist to see how this sort of track helped to kickstart dubstep!

The bassline is massive, an unwieldy warper which switches into a filthy wobbler. If you don’t know what that means, please have a listen…

The drums are frenetic, a broken two-step beat with hi-hats and snares popping off like bullets.

That’s basically it, aside from some very tasteful samples which add colour and interest throughout. As I say: Banger!

The song was released on DJ Zinc’s label, Bingo Beats, in 2003.

13/09/2020: “Day Of The Lords” by Joy Division

Joy Division are generally acknowledged to be years ahead of their time. As with many of the transitional bands of the late 70s and early 80s, they often get lumped with the amorphous ‘post-punk’ label.

But, in fairness, I’m not sure what else you could call this.

It’s dark. Moody. Slightly unnerving. More than a little sludgy?

If getting stuck in a bog late at night had a soundtrack, it could conceivably sound like this.

I love it!

The thunderous bass, the satanic vocals, the off key guitars, the manic drums: this song is fantastic!

You can find the track on their 1979 debut effort, the iconic Unknown Pleasures. 

12/09/2020: “Love Rollercoaster” by Ohio Players

Having posted a disco hit from 1975 yesterday, it seems only fair to include another. This is technically funk, but it makes me want to wear some flares and strut my stuff – not that I could ever pull that off!

I’m not sure if there are many songs catchier than this. This is very catchy indeed…

So catchy, in fact, that this track reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

11/09/2020: “Love To Love You Baby” by Donna Summer

I’ll tell you a couple of interesting facts about this song. Its extended version stretches out to almost 18 minutes – Pink Floyd would be proud!

The song was also banned by the BBC, because it was 1975, and the song is a fairly suggestive one even by today’s standards.

You can google the details of how the song was recorded. I won’t put them here. Regardless to say, Donna Summer was concerned that the song would tarnish her image.

It is absolutely a timeless track, though. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, ‘Love To Love You Baby’ is deservedly one of the biggest disco hits. The bassline is cracking, the ‘normal vocals’ are breathlessly sultry, and in all – it’s up there with Moroder’s best productions.

The song was the title track of Summer’s second album, and reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

10/09/2020: “Oh” by Ciara

I’m absolutely unapologetic for my love of this one.

It’s Deep South, Crunk (Crunk&B apparently), 00s, and features Ludacris.

But it’s a banger. Ciara’s performance is all you could want for a track of this nature, and the production, by famous duo Dre & Vidal, is spot on.

It’s dark, swinging, and it goes hard!

The song came out in 2005, the third single from Goodies. Demonstrating its wide ranging appeal, the tune got to number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

09/09/2020: “Water/If Only They Knew” by Kojey Radical

Technically, the track I wanted to highlight was “If Only” – but the YouTube version is a great piece of art and smoothly integrates the song with the Kendrick Lamar-esque “Water”.

They’re strikingly different songs, sure, but it works. The production on both is excellent, with the latter track coming from Swindle, one of my favourite artists!

Kojey Radical is one of the brightest stars of the UK rap scene. He raps in an articulate, intelligent way, dealing with social issues eloquently and musically.

This song is a couple of years old now, released in 2018. But with the current focus on Black Lives Matter, the video below is more poignant than ever.