Sunday, 30 November 2008

34. Herbie Hancock, Rockit (1983)

I went clubbing last night. In Shoreditch, London's perenially fashionable hotspot. I am 30 years old. Yes, I was terrified. I had a great time, though, first in 93 Feet East, then the brilliant Horse and Groom pub, before going to East Village where the music was bloody awful and the crowd incredibly dull. But the rest of the night up to that had been bloody marvellous, especially at the point in 93 Feet East where this, erm, "dropped". Great video, too.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

33. The Smiths, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (1984)

This cropped up on Football Focus this morning as I was channel-hopping, still hungover after the excitement of last night. It accompanied some footage of a footballer who obviously has a story to tell. God bless all those lovely music continuity people, and God bless The Smiths for saying everything always.

Friday, 28 November 2008

32. The Killers, Human (2008)

I'm on Newsnight Review in about six hours. We will be talking about the new Killers album, among other things. I am pacing round the house like a fool. Arrggrghh.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

31. Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, Further Into The Future (2004)

I am writing a piece for The Graun about the revival of cosmic and italo disco, fantastic music from the early '80s that is bloody everywhere at the moment. I know, get me and my fancy pants. I interviewed Lindstrom about it this afternoon, an utterly lovely Norwegian chap who is incredibly bright, makes fantastic records, is an amazing remixer, and is also very, very handsome. I think I'm love.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

30. Sad Kermit, Hallelujah (2008)

Today, I've been writing my Guardian column about modern standards, making particular reference to Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Time Goes? and Laughing Len's Hallelujah. While looking for, and listening to, the numerous cover versions of the latter on YouTube, I found this. The most original version yet, I reckon. Eat that, Rufus.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

29. The Passions, I'm In Love With A German Film Star (1981)

The reissue of The Passions' debut album has been in the kitchen hi-fi for about a week now. Those opening chords – I love 'em – get me every time.

Monday, 24 November 2008

28. Leona Lewis, Run (2008)

I got tired of the original after about five minutes. And Leona should be a dry and soulless X-Factor product. But I think this is really good. And apparently it's not just me. Who'd have thought it?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

27. Gina X Performance, Nice Mover (1979)

Today started much the same as Saturday. Then a lovely friend of mine came round. We drank bitter and played Scrabble in the pub, ate pizza and watched Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert in my living room, and went a bit YouTube crazy in my kitchen where I was introduced to this terrifying little beauty. Eat that, Grace Jones. And thanks a million, Dan C.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Friday, 21 November 2008

25. Janis Joplin, Ball and Chain (1967)

Today, four days after I'd last been there with Leonard, I did a radio interview at the Royal Albert Hall. This time it was empty apart from a few stage-hands and a stage dotted with music stands. I was being interviewed about Janis Joplin, Leonard's girl from the Chelsea Hotel, and her performance there, in 1969, with the Kozmic Blues Band. How strange that this week should bring the two of them together.

But this remains my favourite performance of hers, from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. I love the moments when her voice is soft and low – such a contrast to those wild, ragged wails. Most of all, I love Mama Cass's reaction in the audience. Rapt and open-mouthed, it says everything.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

24. The Beatles, Paperback Writer (1966)

The Chain – the e-mail game I play with my friends which I wrote about last week – has brought us to this little-known gem. Christ, they were alright, weren't they? But if you had to have one of them, at this precise stage of their career, which one would it be? At the moment, I'm veering towards John.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

23. A Guy Called Gerald, Voodoo Ray (1989)

The new Hacienda Classics album has been a boon these last few days. Here is a track I adored as a wide-eyed eleven-year-old and still adore now.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

22. Leonard Cohen, Famous Blue Raincoat (1971)

Leonard Cohen played this, my favourite song, last night. I would write about it, but I can't find the words, or the guts, to do so right now. Just listen to the lull of its guitar, the sensitivity of his vocal, and the lyrics that cut me to the maw every time.

Monday, 17 November 2008

21. Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Love Will Tear Us Apart (2006)

Before it all, I saw Susanna at Kings Place. Her songs were beautiful, and her razor-sharp, yet soft, Norwegian voice, as always, grabbed my heart and tugged it hard. Given what happened after, it continues to. Here is her version of one of the greatest ever pop songs.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

No track today

Four and a half years finished today, so the doctor didn't stay away.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

20. Young Marble Giants, Final Day (1980)

Last night, I saw Young Marble Giants play in the Reardon Lecture Theatre at the National Museum of Wales. What a heavenly place it was. Every bit of it seemed to breathe out an air of dusty, lovely learning. I wanted to fold myself up into the plush, faded seats and stay there forever.

And then there were the band themselves. I came to Young Marble Giants very late - last year, in fact, when Domino re-issued their only album, 1980's Colossal Youth, and their other recordings. I was instantly fascinated by the album cover, a bleak, black-and-white photograph of two men and one woman, all of them impossibly young. It made me think of the same doomy spirit of Joy Division's album sleeves, transformed into something unbearably human.

And then there was the music, sparse, sublime, sweet and terrifying at the same time. Final Day was the song that affected me the most, a song about the dropping of the nuclear bomb. Last night, it was moving to see Stuart and Philip Moxham, somewhat older now and cheerier, still making that same raw sound from the bare bones of a Roland synthesiser and the rough plucks of a Rickenbacker. More moving still were Alison Statton's vocals, still summoning up the eerie power of the untrained, flat-vowelled 21-year-old she once was.

Friday, 14 November 2008

19. A-Ha, The Sun Always Shines On TV (1985)

Because it's Friday. Because the sun's out. Because I heard it on Radio 2 yesterday afternoon by accident and it made me happy for the rest of the day. Because it reminds me of being a nipper and hearing Morten Harket singing "touch me" and my head falling off with excitement.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

18. Wiley, Wearing My Rolex (2008)

This week, I've gone to two aerobics classes. What's more, I enjoyed them. I know – I'm worried too. But in both, I got to star-jump to this, my favourite no. 1 of the year so far. I think that might have helped.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

17. Robert Wyatt, Sea Song (1974)

Today, I'm writing about the wonderful glut of Robert Wyatt reissues for my Guardian column (in the paper this Friday). This, I think, is my favourite song of his, and what a lovely version of it it is too. If you like it, I'd recommend a listen to the wonderful version by Rachel Unthank and the Winterset as well. Then buy some new hankies.

My Word

Issue 70 of The Word is out today, with a charmingly winterish Jarvis Cocker on the front. Inside, I go to town on the new albums by Razorlight and The Killers in a big old review. I also tell you why you should listen to Alela Diane's lovely Headless Heroes album, and enjoy the masterclass in Spinal Tap parody that is the opening 15 minutes of Scorsese's Shine A Light. Subscribe ever so cheaply here.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

16. Elastica, Vaseline (1995)

My friend Oliver (hello, son) is obsessed with The Chain, the song-linking segment on Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie's weekday evening show on Radio 2. Its rules are simple. Pluck any song out of the air – let's say, for the sake of argument, the song below, The Jets' Crush On You. Someone might think, oh, the Jets were a gang in West Side Story, a film that starred two actors who went onto act in Twin Peaks. So – let's make the next song in the chain the theme from that series, which was Falling by Julee Cruise.

A confession: Oliver, my boyfriend, two other friends and I now play this game by e-mail. The Jets, yes, was my entry, the Julee Cruise song, my boyfriend's follow-up.

Anyway, today we got to Molly's Lips by The Vaselines, which brought me to my next, rather weak, link in the chain – in terms of how inventive one can be with the links, I mean. But I had to include this song because, goddamit, it is the lost classic of Britpop – a dirty slip of a thing which, like so many of Elastica's songs, is basically about shagging.

This song also has a legend that lives on among people of a certain age. In essence, Vaseline was very, very short, which made it a perfect track for the end of a C90 mix-tape. Oliver told us today that he had once put this song on the end of one side of a tape, nine times, for a laugh. I'm sure Justine Frischmann, and anyone out there born in the late 1970s, would be very happy to hear that.

Monday, 10 November 2008

15. The Jets, Crush On You (1986)

The first pop magazine I bought was No. 1. It didn't have as profound an effect on me as Smash Hits, a magazine that was such a mind-meltingly wonderful revelation that I still remember every detail about the first issue I bought. August 10, 1988. 48p. Brother Beyond on the cover; Tanita Tikaram on the side-strip; songwords to We Call It Acieeed by D-Mob inside. Anyway, the only thing I remember about No. 1 is that it alerted me to the existence of The Jets, who, if memory serves, were the American version of Five Star, who themselves were Romford's take on The Jacksons. Amazing.

The Jets only had one hit, which I remembered it this morning for some peculiar reason. And guess what? It's still really, really good. It IS.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

14. Kym Appleby, Don't Worry (1990)

I turned on Radio 2 today (while trying to scrape some lunch off a pan, as per) to find Dale Winton's Pick Of The Pops show. I never even knew such a thing existed. He was running through the Top 10 countdown from November 10, 1990. God, I nearly burst with excitement. Then he played this, a song that bleeds bright red Stock Aitken Waterman blood. Naturally, I love it.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

13. Threatmantics, Big Man (2008)

I first saw Threatmantics playing in a tipi in a field in Dorset. They were great and utterly mad, like three hairy blokes let out of a loony-bin, given a viola, and told to try and make some tunes. Then they started singing in Welsh. My big Swansea heart couldn't have beaten any louder.


Five words isn't enough to write an aural diary. So you're going to get more of the buggers from now on, you poor devils. Enjoy.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

9. London, The Smiths (1987)

To Euston, she really goes.

Monday, 3 November 2008

8. Elbow, Friend Of Ours (2008)

Heartbreaking, heart-lifting. Love you, mate.

Sunday, 2 November 2008