The Songs That People Sing

First let's hear somebody sing me a record that cries pure and true

Month: March, 2009

Random Play: Wet Wet Wet

Wet Wet Wet. I know. I know. Yes, that song. It did my head in too. I won’t mention it, so you don’t get it into your heads. Fifteen bloody weeks at number one though. Yeah, it definately did my head in.

But I’ll let you into a little secret. I own their first two albums. Actually I think I’ve three albums, because there’s one they did with Willie Mitchell in Memphis.

Anyway, despite being a fairly slick pin up band they were musically into a lot of the same stuff I listen to and post on here – for instance Dexys and Costello and old soul. So when my sister got a huge crush on their keyboard player back in the 80s I listened to their albums when she was out, having to buy them later on for myself.

Here’s a couple of b-sides from their early singles. The first Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight is a James Taylor tune that the Isley Brothers once covered to great effect, and the second World In Another reminds me of one of Wet Wet Wet’s other favourites Scritti Politti for some reason.

These are probably my favourite recordings by them, just because they’re not as slick as some of the more known tunes. And Marti Pellow was a great singer.

Yeah. I know. But I don’t care!

Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Wet Wet Wet – World In Another

It’s A Shame

I’ve had It’s A Shame by The Detroit Spinners going around and around in my head for a couple of days now. It’s a song that does this on a regular basis. I’m not sure if that means that I love the song more than most or if it’s just super catchy. I find myself singing it to myself walking down the street, or while I’m cooking.

It is a great track mind you, and what I didn’t know for years was that Stevie Wonder wrote and produced it, and plays a lot of the instruments on it. Listen to the brass lines and you can hear Stevie’s melodic touch quite clearly.

Here’s the original by The Detroit Spinners (just The Spinners in the US, renamed in the UK to avoid confusing them with our middle of the road folk group of the same name) and a lovely reggae version by Alton Ellis. I’ll have this going around and around and around in my head all day now…

Detroit Spinners – It’s A Shame
Alton Ellis – It’s A Shame

Sounds For Sunday: Get Happy!! The Originals

I managed to forget Sounds For Sunday last week. Not quite sure how.

Anyway, I’m on a Costello kick this week: primarily with The Attractions because they were superb. I’m never sure which album is my favourite of those years, at the moment Trust is actually up there. But along with Blood And Chocolate, Get Happy!! is my most listened to Costello album. Loads of songs, mostly played at high energy and filled with soul influences.

Hmm. Motown grooves played with punk energy and topped with snarled vocals singing intelligent lyrics. Weller as always was keeping watch I think, but this album really did show the way for a lot of bands in the early 80s. And what an album, Costello wrote better songs probably, and The Attractions played better elsewhere, but there’s something about Get Happy!! that is just so direct and powerful. And some great choices of covers. Sam And Dave’s I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was a ballad and beautiful with it, and there is a Costello version in the same style, but somewhere along the way he sped it up. I Stand Accused was by Jerry Butler originally. Now I don’t seem to have it, even after some searching. What I do have is an lovely Al Green version. Again it’s a ballad, which is a huge contrast to Costello’s extremely speedy version. On the other hand Costello’s version of Betty Everett’s Getting Mighty Crowded is quite faithful to the original, with a great vocal, and the Attractions powering on like Booker T & The MGs on speed. It’s very Mod with a capital M. (It also ended up on a b-side at the time rather than on the album but we’ll forget about that for the moment…)

Get Happy!!

Sam & Dave – I Can’t Stand Up
Al Green – I Stand Accused
Betty Everett – Getting Mighty Crowded

Soulful Kind Of Friday Night

Something soulful and full of strings for you this evening.

Sam Fletcher’s I’d Think It Over is lovely, a big jazzy orchestral swaggering piece of soulfulness to dance circles around the front room. It builds beautifully, rising up and up to a nicely dramatic chorus. It makes me want to wear a sharp suit, drink whisky on the rocks and smoke french cigarettes. Whilst wearing shades inside. At night-time.


Sam Fletcher – I’d Think It Over

Town Cryer

Adam at Pretending Life Is Like A Song posted the wonderful Town Cryer by Elvis Costello recently. It’s a wonderful song, with a great Costello vocal, changing the way he sings each repetition of the lines until you feel like he’s been singing four or five different songs at once. And then there’s the beautiful arrangement, those orchestral parts that feel like the sun coming up.

I didn’t realise that I had three versions of the song however. The original and an acoustic demo which is lovely. And a very strange fast version, all jerky early 80s funk moves and Hammond Organ washes. I don’t think either of the other versions are as good as the original, but they’re great indications of how good the song is that it stands up to the differences. I especially like the vocal breakdown at the end of the fast version. Fun.

Town Cryer (demo version)
Town Cryer (fast version)

Random Play: Tracie Young!

Can’t be posting Respond Records without mentioning Tracie. Tracie was the reason I bought Beat Surrender, and then Speak Like A Child and then a whole load of music. It was all her fault. There I’ve admitted it. I got into a whole youth sub-culture (so sub by this point that I was surfacing on the other side of the planet) because of a crush on a girl. All my Motown and Trojan and Who and Small Faces and Moment and Fred Perry shirts because of a girl. Tracie! Can’t forget that exclamation point.

Ah but what a girl. One of my favourite vocals ever by anybody on The Boy Hairdresser, a Weller original that was the b-side to Give It Some Emotion, Tracie’s second single. I love the high note she hits on the last verse, the one after the spoken middle. (Who was that speaking? Weller, Mick Talbot, or the late great Vaughn Toulouse?)

And then some eagle eyed folk may have noticed this posted in comments earlier on in the week, but I’ll post it ‘officially’: I Love You When You Sleep, a great song written by one Elvis Costello.

Ah what a song. Absolutely gorgeous.

Keeps On Burning indeed!

Tracie! – Boy Hairdresser
Tracie! – I Love You When You Sleep

Rubber Reggae

It’s a great game isn’t it – recreating Beatles albums purely with cover versions. Here’s a handful of great covers of tunes from Rubber Soul, all from the Trojan Beatles box set.

Willie Lindo – Norwegian Wood
Ernie Smith – You Won’t See Me
Jackie Robinson – In My Life
Joe White – If I Needed Someone

So, name some tunes to finish the album – in any style of music…

Happy Tuesday!!

Random Play: Love: Alone Again Or

An absolutely beautiful and melancholy baroque pop masterpiece. I love the strings and the mariachi brass, and the sense of cold at it’s heart.

Definitely and definitively classic.

Love – Alone Again Or

Meaty Big And Bouncy

(Lee at Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop was reminiscing today about our diets back in the 70s and how steak was a luxury and seen as posh or upmarket. This was in part my response over there, and also a tiny bit of response over here.)

Back in the 70s and early 80s my mum worked at Smithfield Meat Market, doing the books for a big Scottish beef firm. Part of her weekly wages was a certain percentage in ‘meat’ so to speak.

And no I don’t mean she was sleeping with the boss.

Anyway, she regularly brought home a leg of lamb, 2 chickens, sausages, pork chops most weeks. But I can’t recall any occasion when she came home with steaks. Given that she worked for a Scottish beef company it’s a bit odd. Steak must have been their prime resource or something.

I can remember vividly when we were able to start buying anything but the crap food from shops though. It was spring 1982 in our part of London when Safeway opened up one of their big stores near the Barbican. Cartons of orange juice. Fruit and veg that wasn’t simply potatoes carrots and apples. Starfruit and kiwi fruit! And avocadoes. And cook in the oven pizzas with deep crust!

But still we wanted fish fingers and fray bentos pies. Bad pop – “it’s frothy man” anybody?

Is there a link between the country’s diet and the music we listened to I wonder though? Lumpy bad food in the 70s and then the colourful more healthy option in the early 80s: Did all that early 80s pop sound that much brighter and bubblier because I wasn’t so full of crap?

Here’s some of the bubbliest and brightest from that summer when Safeway opened.

Madness – House Of Fun
The Associates – Party Fears Two
ABC – The Look Of Love Part 1
Duran Duran – Rio

The Questions – Price You Pay

I posted The Questions last week and their song Tuesday Sunshine. I had a few requests for one of their other songs, Price You Pay, which came out in the spring of 1983 and takes me right back whenever I hear it.

I hear it quite often because it is probably one of my all time favourite singles. I love it, from the drum intro, to the Paul Barry ad-libs over the fade. I always think it should have been a huge hit. But that’s how it goes sometimes.

The real sound of spring in my head.

The Questions – Price You Pay