Friday, May 02, 2014

Hypothetical mixtape: May 2013

Here we go again. Not really catching up, are we?

"Soul Confusion", by The Keith Mansfield Orchestra. With its groovy bass line and "funky drummer" beats, its Hammond lead-out, some breezy horns and a serious guitar solo, this would not have sounded out of place on a 1990s Karminsky compilation CD. Keith Mansfield, as you know, is one of the masters of British "library music". This one must have escaped from the library: it was released as a single in 1969.

"Side By Each", by Richard Torrance. This has a similar understated waltz-time melody line to the one made famous by Miles Davis on "All Blues", from "Kind of Blue", and subsequently put to good use by Tim Buckley on "Strange Feelin'". (I have a feeling Beck may have lifted it at one stage, too, but I can't put my finger on it (well, this is in 3/4 time and has pedal steel, but other than that it's not really a good reference point. Maybe I made that up).) But whichever way you cut it, to borrow a Richard and Linda Thompson album title, it pours down like silver. (Obviously, if you combine it (if you combine anything) with pedal steel I am like putty in your hands.)

"Roxy Roller", by Nick Gilder. Dude had a hit in Australia with "Hot Child in the City". This was his first solo single. I suspect he had been listening to T. Rex at this point.

"Golden Belt", by Marc Bolan. This recording is Bolan unadorned: just that voice and a flesh-piercing blast of electric guitar. Thing is, the T. Rex / Bolan sound is so singular that your mind is more than capable of filling in the missing pieces. Think of all the money they could have saved!

"The Everlasting First", by Love. Notable for the words "Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar". Which is enough for me.

"No Fun", by The Black Keys. Seven-inch single released for 2013's record store day, with the Stooges' original on one side and this (no) fun yet faithful cover on t'other. The Black Keys are an interesting proposition: they would appear to have managed the impossible task of infiltrating the top end of the charts while not deviating from their chosen path.

"Masters of War", by Mark Arm. "Masters of War" might be my favourite Bob Dylan song. Why? Its unrelenting bleakness would seem to be a neat fit with the early Bad Seeds, which is largely whence my interest in Dylan sprang, so that might explain it. Mark Arm, who probably also listened to a bit of Nick Cave in his day, takes the song and turns it into the kind of dirge that might have slotted very tidily into "The Firstborn is Dead". Love the song, love the version. Taken from a seven-inch single from the days when seven-inch singles set the tone.

"FixUrLifeUp", by Prince and 3rd Eye Girl. I haven't been looking, admittedly, but this might just be The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince's first certifiable earworm since the 1980s. Doesn't say "Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar" (see above) but you wouldn't have been surprised if it had.

"Look At My Window", by Flower Travellin' Band. These chaps appear for the second month in a row. This time, it's with an epic journey that almost asks for more than its allotted 10 minutes, and would have warranted it. You might locate it somewhere between Canterbury-scene prog and early Sabbath. I once worked on a theory that 1974 was the greatest year for rock music, but I am now leaning towards 1972-73 as some kind of high-water mark. Whatever. (Whenever?) It's all good.

"Get Out of My Life Woman", by Grassella Oliphant. Titular sentiment aside, this is a rip snorter. Grant Green on guitar, "Big" John Patton on the B-3: what could possibly go wrong?

"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever", by The Peddlers. More Hammond goodness: oo-wee baby.

"Angel", by Fra Lippo Lippi. Here is a song in what might be titled "high eighties" style (see also "The Captain of Her Heart", by Double, from two months back). How is it possible not to love that guitar sound? From Norway, as if to say that "high eighties" was the universal language.

"All You're Waiting For", by Classixx feat. Nancy Whang. In some ways this might be an update of "high eighties" (albeit more New Order than Sade). Regardless of its ancestry, though, it's got Nancy Whang on vocals, and, while we wait for the next Juan Maclean release, it will do nicely.

"Wonder (Ray Mang Mix)", by Rune Lindbaek feat Kurt Maloo. How many credited artists does it take to make a record? Do you wind up with music by committee? Who is steering this goddamn ship? Does it really matter? Not when the cover of the record depicts a moustachioed chap in a Viking helmet, surely.

"Renata (Daphni Remix)", by Holden. The lines that I thought existed between Dan Snaith's work as Caribou and his work as Daphni seem to have been blurred, or scribbled out, in this remix, which has much in common with the harsh resonances of the "Swim" album, by Caribou, whereas it is tagged as a "Daphni Remix". Well, who really cares? It's still the same guy, and it's still excellent music.

"Changes (James Blake Harmonimix)", by Mala. If Dan Snaith is now putting out similar music under different monikers, James Blake has spent the last few years putting out music of wildly divergent styles under the one name: his own. This remix continues the trend: I'm not sure where it would comfortably sit in relation to his vast body of work, but it is nevertheless a haunting and gorgeous piece of music that is, in its own way, I think, recognisably his. (Did I just contradict myself?) Contains, unless I am imagining it, which I suspect I am, perhaps just the tiniest hint of Laibach.

"Bodo (81)", by Mammane Sani. Fascinating: late-seventies synth music from Africa. Who knew?

"Wild Geese Descend on Level Sand", by Chuck Johnson. I got into solo guitar music by way of James Blackshaw, a few years back, but then, really, it first bit me many years ago when I started buying John Fahey records from second-hand record shops. Heathen that I am, I can't always (or ever) appreciate the technical know-how and, uh, "stuff" that can go into playing a guitar (although I am able to sense, listening to John Fahey in a live context, that it really can be a wrestling match between Man and Guitar, with no guarantee that Man will be the winner), so I tend to follow this type of music (well, most types of music, really) on account of whether it grabs me emotionally (not a connoisseur of "licks" and "chops", me), which this piece certainly does.