31/03/2021: “Rage Of Plastics” by U.S. Girls

Misleadingly, U.S. Girls is actually one lady, not an all female American band. But it doesn’t matter – Meghan Remy’s got about 6 people’s worth of talent!

The song has a bluesy Wild West feel, although the subject matter is darkly feminist. It’s about a woman who is infertile after working in a toxic factory.

The Wah-Wah guitar and punchy bass provide the song with buckets of drive, laying down a crunchy foundation.

The saxophone could perhaps be toned down in the mix a bit, but otherwise is a great addition to the song!

I particularly love how each verse ends with a quick run, giving the song a biblical, doomsayer feel.

The song was released on In A Poem Unlimited, in 2018.

30/03/2021: “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks

There was a lot of great music released in the 60s. And in the late 60s, even more so.

Impressive, then, that The Kinks can stand out from the crowd with a psychedelic rock song from that era. There’s no shortage of them, certainly, but this one has a timeless feeling of serenity that transcends trends and decades.

It’s intensely lovely. Can you relate to finding peace in a busy place by focusing on nature? I think I can. I also think the song refers to a wider feeling of peace too – very 60s!

There’s harmony singing, dynamic drumming, and nifty guitar work, just as a 60s classic should have.

The song was released as a single in 1967, before inclusion on the album Something Else By The Kinks later that year.

29/03/2021: “African Child” by The Heptones

As with many older roots reggae songs, it can be hard to pin down a song’s exact origin.

“African Child”, sometimes spelt “An African Child” or “African Children”, exists in two versions. The first, released in 1979 on King Of My Town, is fine. But the version below is sheer brilliance.

It appears to have been released in 1997 on the Three Coins In The Fountain compilation, and on Jack Ruby Presents The Black Foundation in 2000.

My favourite parts of the song are the backing vocals: ‘Oooh ooh ooh!’, and, naturally, the solid, tight bassline.

It’s deep, thoughtful roots music of the best kind.

28/03/2021: “LK” by DJ Marky and XRS featuring Stamina MC

Brazil just turns everything into gold. Musically diverse as the country is, it isn’t known for Drum & Bass.

But when Brazilian D’n’B DJ Marco Antonio da Silva, aka DJ Marky, put his hand to making some bangers, he added a layer of Brazilian brilliance that is truly stupendous.

“LK” is built around samples from a 1970 Bossa Nova track called “Carolina, Carol Bena”, by Toquinho and Jorge Ben. So they can take credit for the blissful guitar and those garbled yet comforting vocals in the second half of the tune!

The song was released in 2002 on V Recordings.

27/03/2021: “It Never Entered My Mind” by Miles Davis

There are many versions of this song. In fact, there are two versions by Miles Davis alone!

Originally, it was written in 1940 by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers. Covered by jazz luminaries such as Stan Getz and pop titans such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, the song has, in my opinion, found its richest expression through Davis’ trumpet and his quintet.

Although here, John Coltrane doesn’t actually play. A great shame. But with Red Garland’s haunting piano playing and Paul Chambers delicate bass, its not a disaster. Far from it!

I especially love Garland’s part. Notes ripple into life and dart daintily between the bold trumpet. A masterclass in jazz piano.

Davis’ first version was released in 1954 on Miles Davis, Volume 3. This one appears two years later on Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet.

26/03/2021: “Empire” by Queensryche

Heavy Metal isn’t known for its social commentary. Yet here’s a song by a metal band that deals with police brutality, drug dealing, gang warfare, and the two-sided face of the American war on drugs.

It’s an interesting effort, putting the epic power chords and squealing guitar solos of 80s hard rock next to grungy, 90s psychedelia – think Van Halen meets Soundgarden. Queensryche are fairly typical of this ‘progressive metal’, and certainly the among the most famous.

“Empire” is the title track of Queensryche’s fourth album, released in 1990.

25/03/2021: “Lost My Way” by Egoless

Egoless is among the most exciting Dubstep artists producing today. Part of the second wave of European producers, his first release was in 2012, paving the way for a solid decade of dubby brilliance.

He innovates. From washed out, echoing digidub to abstract trappy beats, Egoless keeps his music fresh.

There is usually a focus on the sounds and techniques of dub, laying cavernous basslines and dreamlike melodies.

In this case, there’s an R’n’B flavour from the plucky bass, soulful vocals and smooth guitar noodling, while retaining a charming 8-bit vibe. And, of course, there’s no shortage of reverb, adding space to the track.

Egoless released ‘Lost My Way’ last year on Selected Works 2017 – 2020, which pulls together a few of his dubplates and unreleased tracks. As a gift to us all!

24/03/2021: “Magic Mountain” by Eric Burdon & War

This is so cool! That effortless piano groove marries perfectly with the calm, collected drum beat.

And Eric Burdon’s singing – truly the icing on the cake…

Burdon was actually a white English guy, but after moving to San Francisco in the ’60s, he quickly got involved with the funk and soul scene.

‘Magic Mountain’ had been released previously in 1970, as the B-side to ‘Spill The Wine’. In 1976, the song appeared on Love Is All Around, with an assortment of other tracks recorded between 1969 and 1970.

23/03/2021: “Rock And A Hard Place” by The Rolling Stones

It’s a testament to the longevity of The Rolling Stones’ music that they could record this song on the eve of the 90s, having rocked and rolled through the 60s and 70s. The 80s had been a bit patchy, with Keith Richard and Mick Jagger at each others throats and working on solo projects.

But what a return to form this was! Steel Wheels, released in 1989, was a multi-platinum hit and contained some of the band’s enduring tracks.

‘Rock And A Hard Place’ is a funky masterpiece from the album, replete with bass flourishes, iconic guitar riffs, and buoyant horns. Mick Jagger did a great job too, laying down a catchy, powerful vocal.

22/03/2021: “Jean The Machine” by Scott Walker

By Scott Walker’s standards, this is a fairly conventional track. There’s a hint of the 1940s about it, but otherwise, it’s catchy and more or less pop music.

This is due to Walker letting his manager/label have a bit more leeway, since his previous album hadn’t been so commercially successful. As is often the way with these things, it ended up pleasing nobody.

The album, ‘Til The Band Comes In, consists of songs written about a fictional apartment block. The lyrics, at first glance, seem to be about an Eastern European immigrant girl, who is accused of being a ‘commie spy’, but it’s implied that Jean’s actually a ‘lady of the night’, as it were.

“Jean The Machine” was released in 1970 as a single from the album above – but only in the Netherlands.