Saturday, 27 December 2008

61. Richard Hawley, Valentine (2007)

Totally unseasonal, but I introduced my younger beardy brother to the Hawley a few years ago, and I was pleased to find out tonight, while being entertained down his and his wife's new dog-filled abode, that Rogers Junior and Richard are still in love. It's fine, my brother's wife knows, as she was being serenaded by the velvety Northerner too. It's quite the menage.

Friday, 26 December 2008

60. Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, Girl From The North Country (1969)

I have a horrible, horrible cold, and have been up most of the night hot, bothered and hallucinating, so I am now mainlining the hot orange and trawling YouTube for comforters. I'd already listened to a ton of Richard Hawley and Johnny Cash, when the latter brought me to this version of the song Bob Dylan first put to tape in 1962. I've now listened to this Nashville Skyline classic three times in a row, making me think that Dylan should become my new love for the new year.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

59. Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody (1973)

Because it has to be, really, doesn't it? Merry Christmas from me, Noddy and Dave Hill's fringe.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

58. Aztec Camera, Walk Out To Winter (1983)

This just popped up on my iTunes shuffle while I wrapped the last of my presents. How festive.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

57. East 17, Stay Another Day (1994)

I've heard this not once, not twice, but three times today, the first time on local radio in the car, the second burbling away on a pub jukebox on TV, and the third on Magic FM while catching up with old friends from comprehensive over pizza and plonk. I'm still not bored of it either.

Monday, 22 December 2008

56. The Dunvant Rugby Club, In The Bleak Midwinter (2008)

Sadly I can't post you a clip of us in the Dunvant Rugby Club tonight, swimming with mince pies and Old Speckled Hen as we sang to the gods at the bar, but I can post you a clip of my favourite traditional Christmas song. Imagine the choirboys that much older, drunker and Welsh-er, and you'll get the general idea.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

55. Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender (1984)

God, am I fed up of Christmas songs today. If you are too, and are spending the day packing presents or cleaning the house like an idiot, as I am, here's my tip: put Born On The USA on at full volume. No Surrender, in particular, makes the floor sweeping that much more interesting.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

54. Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris, Dance Wiv Me (2008)

Last night, aided by the devil drink, my friend Lucy and I stayed up until the early hours, watching music videos, and deciding which pop star we wanted to be best mates with. Cheryl Cole came close, but Dizzee took the top trump.

Friday, 19 December 2008

53. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (1963)

Last night, I went to the BBC, to the recording of something that doesn't actually happen on New Years' Eve. I wonder what that is. Anyway, ahem, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were there, and they played this. It has, for the last ten years or so, been in a constant battle with Glenn Campbell's version of Witchita Lineman to be rubber-stamped as my favourite song of all time. At the moment, thinking of what that glorious, best-bassline-of-all-time does to my brain and my knees every single time I hear it, it's winning.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

52. Francoise Hardy, Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles (1962)

I went to France yesterday for the day on a cheese, rillette and Cremant cruise with my friends Alex and Helen. We blasted this out of Helen's little car speakers as we drove out of the Sea France ferry. Pure class, non?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

51. Tindersticks, Buried Bones (1997)

Saw a triumphant Tindersticks last night, playing under glorious stained glass and a starlit Christmas tree at Islington's Union Chapel. My favourite moments were their performance of the wonderfully passionate Her and The Not Knowing, but in the absence of these songs on YouTube, try this song, from 1997's wonderful Curtains, which they played in their encore. Still, although it was lovely to hear it, Stuart insists on singing the female vocals himself these days, which I think deprives the song of some of its magic. If you need me to help with them, dear, just give me a shout up in the balcony.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

50. Shirley Collins and Davy Graham, Love Is Pleasin' (1964)

Rest in peace, Davy Graham. Obviously I should've put Anji up here, which is, without doubt, one of the most wonderful things ever put to record. But YouTube's full of young hairy men trying to fingerpick their way through it, so I thought I'd give you this instead. Listen to Shirley Collins' voice, too, and feel your heart melt. Having interviewed her earlier this year, and thought the world of her, I'm thinking of her today.

Monday, 15 December 2008

49. Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal (2008)

I heard this gorgeous song playing over the speakers in Oddbins over the weekend. It made me feel so Christmassy that I spent £25 in there. I think I'm still drunk. Damn them all to hell.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

48. Alexandra Burke, Hallelujah (2008)

Oh shush yourselves, indie boys. I love Leonard Cohen's sleazy original from the bottom of my heart, but there's no denying that Hallelujah is also, at its core, a truly fabulous love song, and I'm delighted that more people will get to know it now. Alexandra's not got a bad set of pipes either – and her last verse is truly lovely.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

47. Abba, Knowing Me Knowing You (1977)

Here's a scene from a recently single woman's life that sounds like it came straight out of a terrible rom-com: a girl in a minicab, full of beans after a night with friends and lashings of drink, beaming as this, the perfect pop song about break-ups, suddenly comes on the radio. Abba are geniuses and let's leave it at that.

Friday, 12 December 2008

46. Joni Mitchell, River (1971)

Best Christmas song ever. Apart from the one by Slade, obviously.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

45. Morrissey, Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning (1994)

I saw Morrissey introduce his new album at the Pigalle Club today – read all about what I thought of the record over at my other blog. This is still one of my favourite Morrissey songs, though, and I long for him to do something as affecting, and wonderfully strange, as it again.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

44. Blur, Sing (1991)

I've written about the Blur reunion for The Guardian today, and I was reminded by a friend, and then a blog poster, about this fantastic track of theirs. There's something about its bassline, and those seductive, building guitars, that just won't let me go.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

43. The Hives and Cyndi Lauper, A Christmas Duel (2008)

The first Christmas song on here this year, folks. Not surprising, really, as I have done bugger all about present-shopping apart from a brief five-minute scoot around Borders in Islington, and feel about as festive as an over-boiled sprout. Still, this song might change things. It is genuinely, genuinely fantastic – Fairytale Of New York filtered through ten shades of mental.

Monday, 8 December 2008

42. Feist, So Sorry (2007)

This came up on my iTunes shuffle today. I still remember the first time I heard it – a bright spring morning when I first put Feist's second album, The Reminder, on the CD player, and stopped, gobsmacked, as this gorgeous opening track unwound itself from the speakers. And to these well-worn ears, Feist's vocal here is still utterly extraordinary.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

41. School Of Seven Bells, iamundernodisguise (2008)

I listened to this album today on a long, cold, sunny walk into Islington. I loved it when I first heard it three months ago and still love it now. And if you are a bit partial for Au Revoir Simone, enjoy the more electronic side of shoegaze or dream-pop, or simply like the sound of two lovely female voices lacing themselves together, then you should like this too.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

40. Jackie Lee, White Horses (1968)

This just popped up on Sounds Of The Sixties. Few songs say so much about lovely, whimsical nostalgia as this one.

Friday, 5 December 2008

39. Bob Dylan, I Threw It All Away (1969)

Oh my God. I've just been listening to Michael Eavis on Desert Island Discs. This was one of his choices. And I know this sounds ridiculous, but here goes anyway.

After years of almost getting there but not quite, I think I've just had my first real Bob Dylan moment. Tell me where to go from here.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

38. The Small Faces, Rollin' Over (1968)

I've just come back from a lovely couple of drinks with a friend of mine who takes photographs for the marvellous The Word. As well as plying me with wine, he also introduced me to a side of The Small Faces that I'd never heard before. I thought they just debated, in an irritating fashion, whether it would be nice to get on with your neighbours or stroll round Itchycoo Park. I was wrong.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

37. Odetta, House Of The Rising Sun (2008)

Today, I am writing about the wonderful American singer and civil rights activist Odetta, who died yesterday at the age of 77, six cruel weeks before she was due to fulfil her last dream and play at Obama's inauguration ceremony. In the piece, I write about this incredible clip of her, last summer, singing House Of The Rising Sun at a free concert in Governors' Island, building in verses from the folk songs St James' Hospital and When I Was A Young Girl. Her voice still conveys so very, very much.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

36. Mary Margaret O'Hara, Body's In Trouble (1988)

I finally interviewed Mary Margaret this afternoon. She was absolutely wonderful, telling me about how her nephew's wife gave birth to their latest baby after "bringing up", how her sister Catherine – her from the Christopher Guest films – is a huge inspiration, and how Morrissey was a "real cute kid". She also talked a lot about the unconventional nature of her music. There's something about it that always brings me back, the sense of an unique, vivid personality that reminds me of artists like Laurie Anderson and Bjork. This is from Mary Margaret's debut album, her only full album, Miss America.

Monday, 1 December 2008

35. Morrissey, November Spawned A Monster (1989)

Sorry that this is the second incidence of La Moz in three days (although GOD, what a video - I can still sense the stirrings of teenage me). Anyway – this song is here because I tried to interview Mary Margaret O'Hara today, the Canadian singer and sister of Christopher-Guest-film-aficionado Catherine, and wanted to ask her if she actually did backing vocals on this song, as the myth says she does. I can't hear them. Can you?