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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

21. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Charlotte Street

An odd choice, but let me explain...

There must be a universal rule for all college students, where your flatmate plays an album or artist that you wouldn't ordinarily like so many times that you actually start liking it. This was the case for me with Lloyd Cole, as my buddy next door would not only listen to 'Rattlesnakes,' but also sing it to me when he'd had a few too many on the way back from the pub. Somehow it worked, and from a position of total ambivalence, I started to love it and joined in sometimes on the way back from the pub.

Lloyd's work has not aged well. In fact from about 1990 onwards he's been distinctly unfashionable, but for a short period of time he had it all. Like a cross between a smoother Morrissey and 'Mary's Prayer' by Danny Wilson, Lloyd Cole unleashed his quaint, lyrical masterpieces on a time and country that wasn't quite ready for them. And probably still isn't.

'Charlotte Street' is my personal favourite, just for the intelligent lyrics, catchy singalongability and its perfect capturing of a time in a dishevelled terrace house in late eighties Tesside.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

22. Heavenly - Atta Girl - (Sarah 82)

The best Sarah release by miles, where the queen of twee Amelia Fletcher came up trumps and produced the classic genre defining single. It's a perfect piece of jangle-pop with a slightly harder edge than their contemporaries; that's not saying much when you're up against the Field Mice, but you can only beat the team you're playing against.

And sadly I have very little else to say about the song and the band; it just does what it says on the tin.

However let's get back to Amelia. She's a legend. She's been in Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, and worked with The Wedding Present, Hefner and the Pooh Sticks. You would have thought she could have retired happily and gone and got a proper job in a second hand/vintage clothes shop or as a Foundation Stage Teacher, but oh no! Like all modern day pop stars, she saw this as job for life and went on and on and on. Until she ended up in the Tender Trap, where even she looks a bit doubtful that it's a good idea. See the video for 'Do you want a Boyfriend' if you have any doubts. Pop stars take note; less is more - see David Bowie/Paul Weller for further proof.

Monday, 27 February 2012

23. The Wedding Present - Don't Laugh

The Wedding Present were an enigma for me. They had everything I liked; they were gritty northerners with frantic jangly guitars and heartfelt lyrics, but apart from really liking the first couple of singles the rest of their output left me cold. Evlkeith bought me George Best for Christmas and it was all very jolly, but I just didn't get it.

It wasn't until I re-listened to the album about five years ago that everything clicked and I really started to love it. The finger shredding guitar style, the deadpan Yorkshire accent and the sentimental lyrics suddenly appealed to me. I think this goes to show that you have to be in the right mood to enjoy a bit of David Gedge. To be honest he was weird then, but looks even weirder as a middle aged Gedgy.

I originally heard 'Don't Laugh' on an old Peel session I think, and when I saw it included on the bonus tracks of the CD version of George Best, I rubbed my little hands together with glee. It's a kitchen sink drama, set in Huddersfield with a dog and a man with lacerated fingers from strumming his guitar too vigorously. The only question that remains is; why oh why did they call it George Best? They came from Leeds! To complete my enjoyment of the LP I stick a picture of Doncaster Rover's diminutive talisman over the top of Besty's image on the cover and pretend they called it 'James Coppinger'.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

24. X-Cabs - Infectious - (Hook Records) 1997

I remember hearing an interview with Hook's owner and premier techno producer Chris Cowie one festive season. The interviewer asked him what he'd been up to on Christmas morning and Chris said that he'd been in the studio working on some new tracks because he loved making music so much. That love manifested itself in some beautiful trance and techno from the Aberdeen based producer and his stable of mysterious electronic artists.

Whether as a solo artist, with his groups the X-Cabs and funky techno equivalent Vegas Soul, or through his mixed compilation albums, Cowie turned his enthusiasm and expertise into special little nuggets of techno brilliance. I once listened to one of his DJ sets that I'd taped from the radio for about a year on the car stereo and never once got bored. It was as close as digital dance music can get to immortality.

And where are we now? Who knows what Chris Cowie is doing, but I bet it's great and I bet he's happily producing album after album of techno classics in his studio that will never see the light of day. I'd still love a Hook Records T-Shirt in the unlikely event that anyone in the Hook/Bellboy organisation is reading this?


Saturday, 25 February 2012

25. Rage Against the Machine - Know your Enemy

Rage Against the Machine are like the American equivalent of New Model Army; anti-establishment, no compromising, political rock animals. And very few bands rock harder than Rage. I'd go as far as saying the first album was one of the top five rock albums ever made by anyone ever. It's like the music that the 'Lone Gunmen' out of the X-Files would make if they could play instruments and that can only be a good thing.

This all goes to show that the incorporation of an 'irritant' in any group is a good thing, or as it has come to be known, 'The Einar Effect'. Just as the Sugarcubes proved that they were brilliant with the irritating Einar in the group and infinitely better than a solo Bjork. The same predicament was reflected in the Rage situation where the initially irritating fraggle-rapper Zack de la Rocha was given the boot from the band to form Audioslave. What a mistake. Audioslave were boring stadium rockers where Rage Against the Machine's fusion of rock with manic rapping/shouting/swearing proved legendary.

'Know Your Enemy' is a typical storming riff-a-thon with Zack providing the trademark nasal political agit-rap and swearing and shouting 'Come On!' and 'Yeah!' a lot. It just got the nod over the 'Killing in the Name' because of its Christmas Number 1 status.

Friday, 24 February 2012

26. BT - Loving You More (Perfecto)

The 'Perfection' compilation on Perfecto Records changed my life in 1996. I'd got really disillusioned with the NME's constant championing of the next big thing and the inherent indie snobbery of what you could and couldn't like. I bought and loved 'Perfection', switched allegiances to Muzik magazine and spent the next three or four years in the world of dance music.

There seemed to be none of the beard stroking indie anorak preciousness in dance culture. Basically, you liked what you liked and nobody cared. Oakenfold could stick a bit of the pure-pop of Grace in the middle of his compilation and everyone thought it was great. A bit of trance, a little gospel, some house, a transvestite and a sprinkling of cheese, with the whole thing packaged and produced like a Disney spectacular.

I listened to the album over and over again at the time and still love it now. It was so fresh and different to the groups I was used to, it really revolutionised my thinking. It's just a shame I keep losing the CD. The BT track I've selected is trance with a deep house vocal and instantly transports me back to the nineties the second I hear it. Brian Transeau has never quite achieved his full potential for me, but this is as close as he came to perfection! Can you see what I've done there?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

27. The Jam - Thick as Thieves - 1979

I got into the Jam a long time after everyone else. I'd hated all the songs I was supposed to have liked; 'Going Underground', 'That's Entertainment' and the truly awful 'Town Called Malice'. It wasn't until a friend let me borrow his vinyl copy of Snap! that I finally started to see some worth in Weller's song-writing. I liked odd songs a lot and tended to buy the LP's that they came from with 'Sound Affects', 'The Gift' and 'Setting Sons' my personal favourites.

I listened to them through college, long after everyone else had loved them and moved onto the Style Council. I guess it was the fact that no-one was interested in them anymore that made them more underground in my mind, and weirdly more enjoyable.

I could have picked a whole host of Jam songs, but I've gone for 'Thick as Thieves'. It's a low key tale of friendship with clashing guitars and belting drums that tells you everything you need to know about the group. If I were you, I'd treat everything Weller did before 1978 with caution and you really shouldn't touch anything after 1982 with a barge pole. The present day Weller output is up there with David Bowie as the worst middle-aged offerings from any artist in the history of music.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

28. The Newtown Neurotics - Sects

Openly left wing, political pop music was big in the eighties. The Newtown Neurotics, or just the Neurotics as they latterly became, were not exactly a Premier League outfit in the battle against Thatcherism, but with hindsight they made a major contribution to the soundtrack of the era.

They were punchy, intelligent and refused to compromise. I loved them because they were so committed and seemingly unloved by the masses, and their 'Repercussions' album has been a constant companion to me over the years. They are possibly better known for the inspirational 'Kick out the Tories', but for me 'Sects' is their best song by a country mile; a heartfelt rant against organised religion and its associated subsets. A sing-a-long classical from start to finish with brilliant lyrics that are just as relevant today as they were in the hopelessness of Thatcher's Britain.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

29. The Beatmasters featuring the Cookie Crew - Rok da House

If Vince Clarke created the template for house music and Farley Jackmaster Funk turned the vision into reality, then it was the Beatmasters that finally convinced us that this was the future. At the time it was impossible to get your hands on, or even hear any house music, and I'd begun to believe the whole thing was some fantasy created by the NME. My entire house collection at the time consisted of Daryl Pandy, Steve Silk Hurley and perhaps Abel Ramos, all taped from the radio; and initially I wasn't convinced.

Enter the Beatmasters featuring the Cookie Crew and suddenly I was convinced. The track fused hip-hop with an infectious house rhythm and then threw in the best piano sample in the history of music. The rest is history as house music went mainstream, turned into Acid House and then reverted back into commercial dance music. I doubt the Beatmasters have ever got any credit for this before, but they thoroughly deserve that all important number 29 spot.

Monday, 20 February 2012

30. Larry Williams and Johnny Watson - Too Late

An all time northern soul classic and a song that I never get tired of hearing for a variety of reasons. For starters, Larry and Johnny go for the slightly 'sweet and sour' voice combination that works like a cheese and jam sandwich, with Larry's sugary sweet vocal contrasted perfectly by Johnny's rasping whine. The lyrics and conversational style of the song provides a unique piece of philosophical magic, although you've got to wince a little at the sexual politics on show. However, who can argue that 'you don't need no woman to help you starve to death' or 'you've gotta find a girl that will treat you right and give you plenty of loving every night.' It's like the Postal Service song but with all sense of political correctness obliterated. The absolute kicker, that turns the song from brilliant to absolute classic, is the generic northern soul 'Huh!' about eight seconds into the record. I defy you not do you own 'Huh!' as you listen along.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

31. Postal Service - Nothing Better

The postal service are a combination of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, who I like a lot, and Jimmy Tamborello from Dntel, who I should like, but don't. The whole project was an indie/electronic crossover which sounds like a really bad idea, but produced one of my favourite albums of the last twenty years.

Ben Gibbard is undeniably a genius, but sometimes gets a bit bogged down and self indulgent in the guise of Death Cab; just listen to Transatlanticism if you have any doubts. In the Postal Service, however he seemed freer, more direct and able to show a camper, quirkier side.

The whole 'Give Up' album is worth inclusion, but I eventually plumped for the all out campfest that is 'Nothing Better'. It manages to be brilliant, poignant and a bit embarrassing all at the same time. The home made videos on Youtube are truly cringe-worthy and best avoided.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

32. Billy Bragg - The Saturday Boy

In the sixth form common room everyone was listening to Black Sabbath, Queen, Led Zeppelin or rubbish forerunners to today's R&B monotony. I was into Billy Bragg at the time and even my closest friends thought I'd gone mad. I remember 'Between the Wars' on the radio and my fellow students putting hands over ears, laughing up their sleeves and looking genuinely bewildered. Was this really the future of popular music?

Well they're not laughing now are they? Thirty years on a Billy's still going strong, even if he is a bit of a silver fox these days. Now a mainstream artist with a host of albums behind him, it's easy to forget how revolutionary one man, a guitar and some quality lyrics could be in the wilderness of the early eighties.

'The Saturday Boy' describes a universal experience to near perfection. A nailed on certainty for the folk hall of fame and the lovely horn tooting away is a bonus. Sadly, it looks like the record company block this song on YouTube, so you'll have to do without as I'm not using a sub-standard live version from a mobile phone. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

33. Bobby Womack - What is this?

Some singers have a strange power to transport you to another place and time. This happens very rarely and only when the singer possesses a talent above and beyond ordinary mortals. Beverley Knight for example, has the ability to go into overdrive and produce this sense of mild euphoria every now and then. No other singer does this as often for me as Bobby Womack.

Womack is a soul legend, but a second division soul legend next to Marvin, Stevie and Aretha. Personally, I'd put him at the top of the league table. He is without doubt a legend, just look at his fashion sense if you have any doubts. Bobby usually combines a certain pimpish 70's look with futuristic glasses and then the next thing you know he's wearing a cowboy hat, sitting on a horse and smoking a pipe.

'What is this?' is difficult to track down on Youtube, but it's well worth the effort. The bit where he produces the 'euphoria effect' for me is where he sings the line 'Oh what a feeling, this thing keeps me rocking and a-reeling'. Give it a go, it's pure magic. Also worth a mention are 'Across 110th Street' and 'Fly me to the Moon'.

34. Infected Mushroom - I Wish

The Infected Mushrooms assume near legendary status for myself and Evlkeith. The Israeli techno duo produce the most perfect brand of psy-trance, but they bring so much more to the table than that. They experiment with tempo, song structure, they add vocals, sometimes there's a bit of rapping, now and then they go classical and once they even went ragtime.

No other techno producer sounds so good in terms of sound quality on your speakers. They must have invested in some serious equipment over the years and every album seems to be better than the last. I'm already giddy at the prospect of a new album in 2012.

On 'I Wish' they go a bit euro-pop, but I can't help loving the vocals. The accent gets me every time and the little clicks, sighs and gulps on the backing track just add to the whole experience. I could literally have picked any of about twenty of the Mushroom's tracks they have so much in their locker. If you've never heard them before, go out and buy one of their albums immediately.

35. The Blofelds - The Dog is Dead

From Throb Records came the mysterious Blofelds. Never has there been a greater travesty of justice that the Blofelds were allowed to depart the indie universe only leaving (apparently) one classic single. And what more can you say? Little on Youtube, no Wikipedia entry, did I imagine the whole thing? I even had to figure out how to put it on Youtube myself, hence the vinyl hiss at the start of the track.

Well, as I'm currently holding the seven inch single of 'The Dog is Dead' I'm guessing the band were a real entity, but apart from that I know nothing. I can't even remember why or where I bought the record, but I'm so glad I did.

It's a whirlwind ride of twangy guitars, banging drums and understated vocals. A great ending too. It should have been number one in the charts, but quite clearly it never got the exposure it deserved. That is until now, because The Blofelds occupy that all important number 35 spot in my all time chart.

36. Dave Clarke - Red 1 - 1994

Dave Clarke's individual take on techno has always been a refreshing and entertaining alternative to the boring repetitive beats syndrome. The self styled 'Baron of Techno' brought personality into the genre and I still listen to an old interview tape of him talking to John Peel about about his musical influences and life in general. Dave seemed like a really interesting, if a bit geeky, kind of guy; he grew up doing nerdy experiments with cassette recorders, he liked early hip-hop, travel and Iggy Pop. There's no wonder he produced his own idiosyncratic form of techno really.

Red 1 is a mini-classic that sounded much more extreme when it was first released. It's still an edgy, moody piece of music with lovely clicky bits and sections where it all seems to go into reverse. It even has a proper and brilliant ending which for a techno track is unusual and a bit radical.

Monday, 13 February 2012

37. Dean Parrish - Determination

If you wanted an introduction to northern soul in the early eighties, your options were severely limited in a particularly grimy South Yorkshire town. In Foxes Records they had about three vinyl compilation albums with the most instantly appealing; the legendary Floorshakers album on Kent Records. It was an essential purchase and would prove to be my only Northern Soul purchase until the advent of cheap CD compilations in the 2000's.

The cover said it all really; colourful, fun-packed classic soul. And the most colourful and fun-packed track on the album was 'Determination' by Dean Parrish. It sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before. It was undeniably soul music, but completely different to the Motown classics I was familiar with at the time. Dean had a deep, booming voice like a cross between Brian Blessed and Barry White, but backed with such a range of horns that it was like listening to the Brighouse and Rastrick brass band gone wild.

As a wet behind the ears teenager I had no idea at the time what made Northern Soul 'Northern', but I knew it was a good thing and it was much better than Southern Soul, which was probably a softer, less authentic version of its harder northern cousin. I could easily envisage Dean Parrish performing this track at some sleazy working men's club in Rotherham. I didn't know if he was black or white, came from New York or Pontefract, but I knew that in spirit he was Northern, working class and came from Doncaster. And that was enough for me to love this song to this day.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

38. Big Stick - On the Road Again

When John Peel played this in his 1992 Festive Fifty he stated that the band were called Drag Racing Underground. After much detective work, I've discovered it was actually by nineties alternative rockers Big Stick, with the song possibly part of the Drag Racing Underground LP.

Whoever made it, it's one of the few songs that I can 'remember' in it's entirety and listen to in my head without the need for an MP3 or a walkman. A homage to the world of trucking, it begins in standard-ish alternative rock style, but then descends into a strange conversation between a trucker and a diner waitress. It's pure poetry with every word in every line delivered perfectly. Where did they get their voices?

In all charts like this there's a comedy number and I guess this is mine. It's makes me laugh every time I listen to it, but it's there on merit. Check out some of Big Stick's other numbers; they were definitely under-rated. 'Well what else is new baby, that's trucking!'

Saturday, 11 February 2012

39. Yazoo - Nobody's Diary -1983

Although largely forgotten, Yazoo's influence on the world of music cannot be over-stated. Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke are now minor legends, but back in the early eighties this was a completely new type of music. Vince who had previously almost single handedly invented synth-pop with Depeche Mode, then went on to form this seminal duo to move the whole genre forward.

Yazoo created the template for house music, techno and synth-pop. Vince Clarke influenced virtually every dance and techno producer and Alison apparently influenced Adele. In addition, they also produced two near perfect albums of punchy electro-soul which stand the test of time even in this day and age.

'Nobody's Diary' is another unoriginal selection, but it just about sums up Yazoo: beautiful vocals, the trademark Vince Clarke synthesiser and perfect pop hooks. If you don't own them already go out and buy 'Upstairs at Eric's' and 'You and Me Both' immediately.

Friday, 10 February 2012

40. Squeeze - Pulling Mussels from a Shell

Growing up in the 70's and 80's we were definitely still living in the shadow of the Beatles. The media was constantly searching for the new song-writing combo to assume the Lennon and McCartney mantle and after an inauspicious 'Cool for Cats' start, Difford and Tilbrook were soon the front runners. Glen and Chris could pen the most perfect three minute pop songs with beautiful pop-philosophy lyrics and catchy melodies. They apparently also hate each other now, which makes me like them more.

However, as time went by song-writing skills became less desirable. Nobody cared about the Beatles or about talent or about lyrics. It was all about attitude, swagger, concept and making money. I never really loved the Beatles, but I can appreciate a crafted, perfect pop song and I really miss the types of groups, like the Squeezes of this world, that strived for this ideal.

Strangely, many of the bands that actually attempt the 'song writing craft' are either ignored or are desperately unfashionable. So at number 40 it's Squeeze, but they represent all those bands that put their faith in song-writing and were rewarded with a touch of genius: step forward The Bodines, The Frank and Walters, Death Cab for Cutie, Embrace, Guided by Voices, and even dare I say, Oasis.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

41. Layo and Bushwacker - Love Story

I love Layo and Bushwacker, but this bootleg inspired combination of their Love Story track and 'Finally' isn't that representative of their work. However, the addition of some vocals to their trademark minimal, chunky house proved to be masterstroke and produced an entirely new entity with a heart and soul of it's own. The remix combines the already brilliant album version of 'Love Story' with Julie McKnight's vocal from the Kings of Tomorrow's 'Finally' to produce a retro sounding house classic.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

42. Huggy Bear - Her Jazz

In the early nineties Huggy Bear staged one of the briefest revolutions in the history of popular music. The whole Riot Grrrl and Boy/Girl Revolutionaries thing seemed to last about a fortnight and then everything went back to normal. To be fair to the band, they did a cracking job of stirring things up a bit and always refused to sign for a major label, preferring instead to remain with Wiiija.

The upshot of all this was the 1993 single 'Her Jazz'. A song that I've never really got out of my head since the very first moment I heard it and undeniably the last truly great punk rock record. Huggy Bear shouted, stamped and stormed their way through the number with a belief that overwhelmed any perceived lack of talent or musicality, and all bands today could learn a lot from them. One of the best endings to a song ever as well...Her Jazz signals our time now!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

43. New Order - Sub-Culture

'Blue Monday' by New Order changed everything. I'd taped it from the Peel show and it was like nothing I'd ever heard before; like some strange hybrid of Gary Numan synthesisers and traditional indie. After dismissing Joy Division as 'boring', I decided New Order were the future and something I needed to take seriously.

My first proper purchase as I received my Polytechnic grant money was the cassette version of Low-Life. It came in a dinky cardboard presentation case with some black and white photos of the band, and it was an essential purchase for student life at the time. 'Sub-culture' brings back all the memories of that time; the cold, eating soup and Thatcher's Britain. And with limited access to music at the time we played it to death.

For me, New Order never quite fulfilled their potential and made that perfect album, but 'Low-Life' was as close as they came, possibly with the exception of the under-rated 'Waiting for the Siren's Call'. So let 'Sub-Culture' take you back to the eighties; for the perfect nostalgic listening experience, turn off the central heating, mix up some Florida Spring Vegetable soup to ward off scurvy and wash it down with a bottle of Pomagne.

Monday, 6 February 2012

44. Lush - Hypocrite - 1994

I started liking Lush because of the arty 4AD covers of their records. Initially the music wasn't great in a shoe-gazing down Camden market kind of way. About the time of the album Split however, Lush came very good indeed and produced some of the standout tracks of the nineties.

I really love the slightly out of kilter harmonising between Miki and Emma. It sounds initially like it shouldn't work, but manages to sound sugary sweet after repeated listens. 'Hypocrite' showcases everything great about Lush with clashing guitars, beautiful harmonies and heartfelt lyrics.

I once went to stay with a friend in London who took me to the pub where allegedly Lush went drinking. On the night we went they obviously weren't there, but apparently we'd just missed Terry Scott's granddaughter. As is usually the case with these tales, we ended up slightly worse for wear in a Spanish bar watching and aged Flamenco dancer instead.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

45. Placebo - Every You Every Me

One day in the mid-nineties I bought two indie 7 inch singles from what was the last remaining record shop in town. One was 'Pull Thru Barker' by Prolapse and the other 'Brusie Pristine' by Placebo. From that moment little went right for Prolapse in terms of commercial success, but for Brian Molko and Placebo it was just the opposite with a current confirmed status as household names and mega stadium fillers in 2012. At the time my money would have been on Prolapse, but who can predict the future?

Placebo turned out to be a bit of an enigma. I don't usually like groups who wear affected costumes and Placebo go for the full 'Marilyn Manson meets Renton from Trainspotting' look. If you ignore this slight fashion faux pas, Molko churns out some of the bitter-sweetest indie pop this side of REM.

It was a tough choice, but I've eventually settled on 'Every You Every Me' as the premium Placebo song, just pipping 'Meds' and 'The Bitter End'.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

46. Elastica - Waking Up - 1995

It remains a mystery to me how Elastica were allowed to almost 'fizzle out' after one brilliant album and Blur keep on churning out rubbish in a variety of forms to this day. Elastica went on to make the lacklustre 'The Menace' and that was the last we heard of them, meanwhile Albarn and his cronies have not only continued the catchy cockernee-ness of Blur, but also peddled those cartoon Gorilla things, opera(!) and their own brand of cheese. It's just not fair.

It seems that Justine Frischmann will be forever remembered as Albarn's girlfriend; like some Brit Pop off-shoot from her more talented better half. This says it all about Britain really. And the sad thing is Elastica were so much better and more talented than Blur it's unbelievable that the masses have been led to accept the opposite.

Elastica made one a truly great album. Admittedly, it was heavily influenced by the Stranglers and Wire, but a great album nonetheless. It combined pop, punk and indie in a down to Earth package of grimy, bed-sit bravado. Needless to say Elastica get the last laugh with 'Waking Up' named in my all time fifty and Blur nowhere to be seen: not so cocky now Albarn?

Friday, 3 February 2012

47. Aphex Twin - Vordhosbn 2001

Five minutes of madness from the master of ambient techno Richard James. I have to admit that although I've listened to a lot of the Aphex Twin, I'm not a massive fan. It's all a bit too dense, noodle-doodley synthesiser based pointlessness for me. However the Drukqs album was a work of genius, combining the obligatory muso noodling with hints of melodies and some beautiful piano, creating an atmosphere akin to something Brian Eno would be proud of.

Apparently Richard James has penned a load of commercial dance hits for other artists and I've always been interested in finding out what they were; hopefully 'Saturday Night' by Whigfield, but I guess we'll never know. 'Vordhosbn' meanwhile, is a dark, brooding concoction of drum and base, piano and general jerkiness, that sounds like the 'future music' played by Michael Caine's old hippy character in Children of Men. It may not be the sound of the future anymore, but it's accessible, soulful and at times beautiful.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

48. Public Enemy - Rebel Without a Pause

When John Peel introduced us to hip-hop in the late eighties it was like a breath of fresh air, with the likes of Eric B and Rakim, De La Soul and of course Public Enemy. Sadly, things went downhill for the genre when the whole thing changed into rap and was either over-commercialised or over 'gansterised', and has been boring ever since.

Public Enemy were tough but socially aware, and as I trudged around the uber-depressing city of Hull in the early nineties 'It takes a Nation of Millions...' was an unlikely, but surprisingly relevant soundtrack playing on my walkman. This was passionate, intelligent and political music, but dressed up with tracksuits, trainers, jewellery, big clocks and lots of shouting 'Yeah Booooyeeeez!'. 'Rebel without a Pause' is my unoriginal choice from the album just for the lyrics, the James Brown samples and a bit of Flavour Flav action.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

49. Freemasons ft. Amanda Wilson - Love on my Mind

An odd choice admittedly, but there's definitely a place in the world for upbeat House influenced dance music. I love the Freemasons and this track combines everything that is positive about them and the genre. There's the retro rhythm, the lush horns, a beautiful soulful vocal and a certain campness not seen since the George Michael 'Outside' video. Put this on the car stereo when you're on holiday, forget you're an Into the Valley fan (is there such a thing?), relax and enjoy yourself for once.