The Songs That People Sing

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

Month: January, 2011

John Barry RIP

I wanted to post some Barry, wanted to tell you how those big sweeping sexy themes made walking around London a better time. How many of the tunes I loved over the years owed something to him, especially my Mod days and the dance scene in the 90s. I wanted to talk about my love for the old James Bond films. But some of you lot have done more than that.

So here’s what might be the oddest John Barry tribute of the day. Yup, it’s the Joe 90 theme tune, a tune which I associated with John Barry, and for the life of me today I couldn’t work out why. Then I remembered, the Joe 90 theme was written by one Barry Gray. And that twangy guitar? Vic Flick, once of the John Barry Seven, and the original guitarist on the James Bond theme.

Rest easy Mr Barry.

Dominant Legs

Another new thing to my ears. I once thought about creating a bunch of tunes myself and posting them as different artists, just to see what sort of reaction it would get. I can honestly say I haven’t done that this week!! But I probably would have done something a bit like this one. There are people out there who are going to like this I think, it’s all a bit stoned Orange Juice, very 80s but hazy, like the story of Edwyn Collins as re-imagined by Sofia Coppola.

This is Dominant Legs, who would appear to be a duo from San Francisco. Some write ups have said they’re like a funky Belle And Sebastian. I don’t know, Orange Juice for sure, the Belles, lots of 80s Indie.

I’ve got one question to ask, why are all the things I’m hearing that I’m liking American all of a sudden? What’s happened to our music? Where are you? Are you out there bands and artists? Drop me a line at and let me know you exist.

Sounds For Sunday: Versions

I love finding different versions of a great song, especially when all those versions are great. Here’s an old soul tune called Wide Awake In A Dream, written by the great Gaudio/Crewe team, yup the Four Seasons writers. I’ll let the music do the talking.

(And a favourite? Probably the Vicki Anderson one which has a gorgeous vocal, and makes me wonder what Dusty would have sounded like singing it…)

Reading Rainbow

Here’s another tune that’s been going back and forth on my Ipod all week. Reading Rainbow are a husband and wife team from Philadelphia and appear to have been around for a while. The video below is very French New Wave influenced, and pretty cool with it. They sound like they’re influenced by a lot of 80s Indie/Alternative – I’m hearing B-52s, Stereolab and 60s girl groups, as well as the ever present Velvet Underground.

Reading Rainbow site

Broken Bells

Broken Bells are a duo consisting of the producer Danger Mouse (one half of Gnarls Barkley and producer of Gorillaz and Beck amongst others), and James Mercer of The Shins. I’d not heard of them until this week, but I’m liking what I hear. Mongrel Heart is a lovely moody slice of 80s flavoured twang, with a gorgeous Morricone styled breakdown in the middle.

Broken Bells Wiki
Broken Bells website


More new(ish) here. I don’t know much about Lettercamp. They’re from Detroit, they land somewhere in the middle between Goldfrapp and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs more recent synthpop stuff, with maybe a touch of the old Trip Hop days, someone like the Sneaker Pimps. There’s one track in particular on the album called Fool For Long which is a slinky bass propelled lovely sexy little thing; I listened to it constantly on repeat yesterday for about an hour…

There is a Myspace here and if you follow the link below and click on either of the two album covers you will find their album and remix albums available for free download.


Penguin Prison

This is something newish, and there’s likely to be a few new bits and pieces from me in the next couple of weeks. I’m on a mission this year to find something good and new. I’m hoping for something new with guitars, but there’s not much of that about. Yet.

Meanwhile here’s Penguin Prison (not the best name ever) a New York musician/producer/mixer called Chris Glover, who claims influence from the likes of Talking Heads, but actually sounds to me like Justin Timberlake produced by Prince covering Hall And Oates. It’s all a bit 80s, but that’s my cup of tea, so that’s alright.

Blue January

I hate January. In fact I probably hate the whole time from the start of December until the end of February. Then I can feel the spring (and then summer)approach and my mood lifts. But, especially when we have weather like we have had recently, the winter really takes it out of me. All I really want to do is sit back and stay warm, perhaps lose myself in a book or a film.

Creativity seeps away. I find it really difficult to do any work of any kind, either the sort I’m being paid to do Monday – Friday 9 to 5, or my own outlets, music, writing and the like.

It’s not helped by the fact that my birthday sits in February, and while I’d like to enjoy it, it’s so firmly in the ‘dark’ times that the best I can do is take a day off work as a treat to myself and try to relax. It never used to be this way, when I was a kid. It’s probably why Christmas takes over so massively. The winter festivals came into being to mark the halfway point, one day nearer to the lighter seasons.

I was never sure about the SAD syndrome, was convinced for some time that it was an excuse for some people. And I’m not really depressed, just lowered if you like, but I see the affects of darker colder weather with my own eyes everytime I wake up. Yup I’ve got the blues.

And for no reason at all, apart from chatting about this with somebody this week, here’s Swansway, with the 12″ version of their 1984 hit Soul Train. A lovely lovely track, like a rather gothic Dexys Midnight Runners.

Swansway – Soul Train 12″

Magpie Moments #276

I was listening to the mighty Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice last week and I was struck by the tribute made by one track in particular to the wonderful George McCrae. Had never noticed it before. All three tracks are cracking tunes so enjoy.

This Woman’s Work

You will probably be aware of this song in it’s original form by Kate Bush. I was, but I wasn’t aware at all of this version from the late 90s by Maxwell. Maxwell was one of the new soul (Nu-Soul??!? Neo Soul?) people that started to appear in the mid to late 90s; people harking back to the more organic funky days of soul rather than the shiny hip hop electronic RnB of the time. Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye seemed to be the biggest influences on them, multi layered and hazy music, poetic lyricism and a lot more feminine in it’s ways. Especially at odds with the hip hop of the time.

I used to own Maxwell’s first album Urban Hang Suite and it’s good, but I’d kind of forgotten about him since. An old friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this and I sat there listening with goosebumps all over, close to tears. The original is a lovely song, but this version takes the original and flies with it. It is simply beautiful, massively soulful and I’m putting money on it, this will be the best thing I hear all year.

(How the hell did this pass me by?)