Each month I compile a CD Mix for a small number of music loving friends who I figure will appreciate them – and investigate further. It’s a labour of love, but great fun also. The CDs can include current Pop/Rap and Alternative music from iTunes, and older Jazz; Reggae; Dub and Dance downloaded at much more realistic prices from eMusic. Naturally there is a strong Australian influence, and usually at least one song from a client – Sarah Blasko features regularly. I also try and sneak in a song or two from at least one of my long-term idols: Nina Simone; Nick Cave; David Bowie; Massive Attack; Moby; Talking Heads, Beatles. Different genres and artists appear based on random events during the month.
The focus this past month has been on UK singer and songwriter, Tracey Thorn. Plus I’ve been on the prowl for more Soul to add to the expanding Apple Mac catalogue. There are now over 25,000 songs, so plenty to choose from – and plenty more to discover. Here are the full January mix details:
Track 1: Taxi Cab – Tracey Thorn (from Extended Plays 2010-2011)
Taxi Cab is a great cover of a personal favourite Vampire Weekend song, and a happy little opener for this CD. Amazingly I have only recently discovered the sublime voice of Tracey Thorn. Must have been sleeping? Fact is I’m a long-time massive fan of the Bristol (England) trip-hop sounds of Massive Attack. And I’m well into their support cast including Tricky, Horace Andy, Martina Topley-Bird and Nicolette. But somehow Tracey’s involvement passed me by. Not any more!
Tracey’s vocals of course grace a number of songs on the Massive Album Protection, including the title song for which she also wrote the lyrics. And she has had a highly successful career fronting Everything But the Girl. After taking time out to raise kids, she is back as a solo artist – see Track 6 also.
Track 2: Sleepless – Flume (from Flume)
Top of the Album Charts, and 4 songs in the Triple J Hottest 100 last year. Not bad for a 21 year old guy from Manly. Harley Streten (aka Flume) started out producing songs as a 13 year old. As did fellow Aussie music genius Kevin Parker (see Track 14). Then we have Wally (Gotye) with just about the biggest selling downloaded single of all time. Whatever happened to Aussie Pub Rock?
Track 3: Love Lost – The Temper Trap (from Conditions)
Pure unadulterated Pop really, but lets call them Indie Rock. Great songs featuring the Mandagi voice getting up there real high. Enjoyed seeing them at the recent stormy Coldplay show, and had to include a song to remind us of a memorable night out, despite the extreme weather conditions.
Track 4: You and Me – Sara Watkins (from Sun Midnight Sun)
Folkie sing-along song that I stumbled on during one of my eMusic run-arounds.
Track 5: Heavyweight – Rachael Yamagata (from Heavyweight EP)
A beautiful song, with haunting melody. Rachael Yamagata is a Japanese American songwriter, with German and Italian heritage also. She looks stunning and sounds so sweet. Never seen her perform, and probably never will. But it’s a smooth song which immediately makes its way into the separate and fast growing Bazzas Beautiful Secrets mega-mix, inspired of course by Sarah Blasko.
Track 6: Taking Down The Tree – Tracey Thorn (from Tinsel and Lights)
This song, and the whole Album, is another reason for my recent current interest, bordering on obsession, with Tracey Thorn. Searching for some more recent songs to update Bazzas Christmas CD led me to this album. It’s a classic, and goes way beyond the regular Christmas offerings. Can be played anytime. This is a dreamy song that begs repeat listens. “So high, so high, so high”. Check out the album review by Alexis Petridis (UK Guardian).
I must also recommend Tracey’s book Disco Bedsit Queen, released this month on iTunes (iBooks). It’s a very informative and intelligent behind the scenes look at the music industry, and how a woman can survive in it on her own terms. Surprise, surprise – Tracey was besties with our own Lindy Morrison way back when the Go-Betweens were battling away in the UK. Not such a surprise really when you think about it? And congratulations to Bondi local and EntArt client Lindy on being awarded the Order of Australia medal last month! Well deserved.
Track 7: Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green (from Greatest Hits)
Back into the Soul/Funk groove this month. So who better to listen to than the man with the golden voice; the King of R&B and smooth Soul. None other than the Reverend Al Green. Over20 million record sales, and this song is one of his best. And he wrote the “Take Me To The River”, which is one of my all-time top songs as recorded by Talking Heads.
Track 8: You Make Me Happy – Al Green & Lamorris Williams (from You Make Me Happy)
Mr Green again, but this time in contemporary mode singing with rapper/soul singer Williams, tribute style. Now in his mid 60’s – that voice is still cooking.
Track 9: Say It Again – Jestofunk (from Acid Jazz On the Rocks, Vol 3)
Stumbled across this one searching for funky acid jazz. It’s a hit and miss genre of highs and lows in terms of quality, especially when the musicians are Italian as here. But once past the too long intro, this song really moves along.
Track 10: Let Up – Abbey Lincoln (from Precious & Rare)
This is a recent Jazz discovery for me, although dating way back to the 50’s. First song written by Abbey, apparantely. Heavily influenced by Billie Holiday, and very laid back night-club cool.
Track 11: Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris & Florence Welch (from EP same title)
Can’t get enough of that Florence Welch with her red hair and big lungs
Track 12: Where Are We Now? –David Bowie (from The Next Day)
The boy is back. First single pre-released from new album out next month. It’s been a long time between drinks. I had a passing acquaintance with Bowie many years ago, when I lived in Beckenham (South London). He was running the local Arts Lab, which I was involved with also. One evening he bought in this demo of a new song for us to listen to. It was called Space Oddity. We all thought “far out man” and the rest, as they say, is history (for Bowie; not for me). This current song is not nearly so powerful, and the Ziggy Stardust era (which I followed devotedly) is long gone. But it grows on you, and for a 65 year old Bowie is still one hell of a good-looking man. Can’t wait for the album!
Track 13: Dark Storm (Live) – The Jezabels (from Live At The Hordern)
Great Sydney band, performing on their home turf. Powerful live track. Is singer Haley Mary our Australian Florence?
Track 14: Be Above It – Tame Impala (from Lonerism).
This is my favourite song of the month. Plat it loud. There is a lot of great music coming out of Perth and WA now. And the recent Tame Impala album “Lonerism” is right up there. The Beatles of the 21st Century? Not likely. Speaking as an old guy now who can still remember listening and dissecting the Sgt Pepper over and over with my South London mates, on the day it was released in England – that’s never going to happen! Nevertheless, this is Psychedelic Pop to rival the best of the 60’s. Love it. Band leader; main songwriter; and music genius Kevin Parker is clearly a young man on a mission. Recording since the age of 13, and still only in his mid 20’s, the best is yet to come.
Track 15: Home – Brian Eno & David Byrne (from Everything That Happens)
Two master musicians working together. My wife Judi bought me the latest David Byrne book for Christmas – How Music Works. Recommended reading for anyone with a serious interest in music; songs; and the industry. Had to include this typical more recent Byrne song after that. Home – a recurring DB theme.
Track 16: Something Good – Alt-J (from An Awesome Wave)
Magic music from the UK. Currently touring Australia as headliners on Laneways Festival. Their highly original debut album released last year has been a big hit around the world, charting highest here in Australia. Hard to label them – Dub? Soul? Electronic? Trip-Hop? You name it .. lets call it music for the 2010’s decade.
Track 17: Youth in Trouble – The Presets (from Pacifica)
At last – a new album from Australia’s top Dance band. The EntArt clients inclusion for the month – classic dance anthem. Be sure to check out their amazing new live show – touring near you shortly.
Track 18: Yes We Can – Lee Dorsey (from Saturday Night Fish Fry)
Recently discovered Soul classic. Crisp production. Heavy Bass. Chopping guitars. Obligatory sax backing. Recorded back in 1970, and featuring great vocals and a very positive message. Title taken on board in more recent times by both Bob the Builder and President Barack Obama.