The Songs That People Sing

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

Month: August, 2010

Sandie Shaw


On my hols now, and I’m writing this in the car (hey that’s a nice looking pub).  Music right now is Sandie Shaw, her album from the end of the 60s Reviewing The Situation and Hello Angel from the end of the 80s.  Surprisingly connected, they sound like the same person grown older.  And gorgeous.  Lay Lady Lay on the 1st is lovely, all breathy Gallic smokiness.  But both albums are well worth getting your hands on if you can.  I’ve also got a version of Maybe I’m Amazed here which I think was a b-side from the early 70s.  Its big and stompy and soulful and you need to hear it.


Ok, I might be the only one who hears this, but what the hey..

On the train home on Friday night and the following came on the Ipod:

And about halfway through a jazzy little piano solo comes in (about 2:10) that suddenly made the whole song stand out as something of an influence on this:

It’s there in that solo, but also in the strings and the backing vocals. I’m thinking that a damning critique of Thatcher’s Britain being based on a track called Evil Woman is not too far fetched. But it is Friday night and I have had a few to drink….

Yvonne Fair – I Can’t Let Him Go

A little gem here from volume 3 of the Cellarful Of Motown series.  Fair is best known for It Should Have Been Me, and that big growl of a voice is all over this funky stomper, with some great backing vocals and some nice little psych soul touches. 

Absolutely thrilling.

The xx part 2


I’m in London staying with friends for a few days, and the old town is covered in rain.  I’m still working, the rest of my little family are going out and about.

It’s weird, I’ve been commuting everyday but waking up here is completely different.  I found it really gloomy, almost depressing.  Like having a badly judged one night stand with an ex; I just want to go home now.  But I was born here, lived here forever, I’m a Londoner.  No more it seems.  Well, I didn’t expect that.

Meanwhile the xx sound amazing over headphones in the rain.

The XX

Put off writing about this lot.  Mostly because I wasn’t sure if I liked them or not.  But they’ve grown on me.  A lot.

I like the voices, the sparse soundscapes, the almost not there songs.  Surprisingly funky, even with its three am feeling.  But does it remind anyone else of Everything But The Girl when they went dance?


Its funny, the odd records you bought that nobody but you seemed to know.  Endgames were one of those bands that sound like they should have been huge.  Big soul electro pop from Scotland, like Simple Minds covering the Thriller album.  You’d know what I mean if you heard their Building Beauty album.

I love them, but its almost like I imagined them.  Have you heard Endgames?

Maxine Brown – I Don’t Need Anything

The fantastic Maxine Brown, probably best known for Oh No, Not My Baby.  She sparkles on this typical mid 60s ballad, which does that tough with tears streaming thing that a Dionne or Dusty were doing.  Lovely moody verses and a BIG chorus, but gently dramatic; there’s no need for shouting when you sound as steely as Maxine.  Its warm, but you wouldn’t mess with her.

Get Yourself Together

Five minutes later up comes The Jam with their version of the Small Faces Get Yourself Together from the live EP that came with Snap!

The original is a good later period SF tune,  soul influenced, but a little whimsical.  The Jam’s version perhaps coloured by their splitting up, and my lack of familiarity with the song at the time becomes their own.  Starting with some interesting and very typical early 80s backing vocals, it shifts the gears up from the original and stomps harder, and Weller, with his voice cracking delivers one of my favourite of his vocal performances.  He still sounds a little like an angry frog, like he did a lot with The Jam live, but its an emotional performance, that never fails to move me.

(There’s a studio version on The Jam’s extras album. Its a bit of a cheat, cos the vocals were recorded by Weller in the 90s. Look for the live version…..)

Watch The Sun Come Up

Example started off as a rapper in the Mike Skinner mold and was signed to his label for a time.  He has since moved into a more melodic area, producing a kind of generic for 2010 synthpop.  Its nice enough, catchy but not outstanding.

But this morning as I watched the sunrise a remix of an Example track Watch The Sun Come Up turned up on the shuffle.  The Devils Gun ‘zeitgeist’ mix, which I’ve got on a Hed Kandi comp, formed one of those perfect moments when life and music meet.

The mix?  It sounds just like you’d expect a track with that name to sound, bubbly tingling synths and mildly euphoric arms in the air moments.  Nothing too through the roof, you want to be calming down as the sun comes up after all.  It sounds a little like the Chems Saturate with a very 70s moog line over the top.   Luvverly!

I Get Around


The Beach Boys.

When I was about eight or nine I had a little mono cassette machine and a tape I used to play all the time.  It was the Beach Boys greatest hits, which I think was advertised on the tv. The one with the surfer on the front.

Even now when I hear them I get blasted back to the late 70s.  What I had forgotten was how weird I thought they sounded.

All the vocals sound almost insane, and I Get Around, for such a lively tune there’s a real melancholy edge to it.

I vaguely remember feeling this way about when I was little –  it kind of sounded like gingerbread houses in the middle of the forest, if you know what I mean.

The other thing that came back to me when I Get Around came on the Ipod was how much it sounded like a foreign language.  I don’t mean some of the terms or Americanisms; I mean it sounds like an unknown language.  The harmonies and rhythms break up the words to such an extent that they just become sounds.  It almost becomes instrumental.  Its no wonder that in my head I still associate Beach Boys with classical music – it evokes similar feelings.

I was a weird little kid by the way, always drawing, creating little stories and listening to the radio quietly through the night….