Monday, April 06, 2015

Hypothetical mixtape: May 2014

This thing is a whole lot easier when there are a couple of 15-minute epics included. Not this month. Nineteen songs. Nineteen. Count 'em.

"Death Wish (Main Title)", by Herbie Hancock. "Dino De Laurentiis presents Charles Bronson In a Michael Winner Film 'Death Wish' Music Composed, Conducted and Performed by Herbie Hancock". What are you waiting for?

"Can't Hardly Stand It", by Charlie Feathers. The Cramps did a cover of this song. But whereas Lux and Ivy were essentially a cartoon version of a gothic horror couple, who probably were just as happy sitting down for a cup of tea with the neighbours as hunting for thrift-shop gewgaws to add to their collection, there is something truly frightening about the way Charlie Feathers delivers his lines here. If I was the subject of this song, I would be keeping my doors and windows locked at all times.

"D'Ya Like Scratchin' (With The Red River Valley Girls)", by Malcolm McLaren Featuring World's Famous Supreme Team Show. This is the version on the b-side of the "Soweto" 12-inch. It rambles around, without ever sticking in one spot for any length of time (a bit like Malcolm himself?), but over its five and a half minutes it covers everything that made Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley shoulda-been household names.

"Sometimes I Wish", by Pink and Black. Synth pop! From 1985! Biographical details for Pink and Black are largely non-existent. It seems that Pink and Black released only this one record, in England and Spain, on small labels. How do people find this stuff? How you respond to the thundering drum-machine intro will determine whether or not you can be my friend.

"Casse-Tête Jungle", by Les Espions. The French have a reputation for not really "getting" pop music. Either that reputation is misguided or this song, which really does pick up the essential elements of the more melodic, keyboard-and-sax-oriented arm of post-punk, is one out of the box. (It, like the previous song, appears to be the only record this group ever made; one extra level of obscurity here, though: this song appeared as the b-side. Not so obscure that it isn't on YouTube, though.)

"Le Centre du Monde", by Ici Paris. As above, only this time it's French! Punk! Rock! And it sounds like they mean it, maaan. They sound a bit like a more feminine Buzzcocks. (What would such a band be called? I shudder to think.) Whatever you think of the song, you can't fault the intro, which comes barrelling straight out of the garage and Into! Your! Face!

"Oh Oui J'Aime", by X-Ray Pop. This, the third in our French punk/post-punk trilogy, claims to be from 1987 but sounds older. Loosely synth-pop, although it is the guitars that give the song its kinetic energy.

"Happy", by Pharrell Williams. Sometimes the good guys do actually win.

"Do It Again (Radio Edit)", by Röyksopp and Robyn. If this really is the end of Röyksopp, it is a perfect way to sign off. Play loud.

"Hey Joe", by Charlotte Gainsbourg. There are probably eleventy thousand versions of "Hey Joe" out there in the universe. But this is the only one in which, if you listen closely, you can hear Beck on backing vocals. In its creepily malevolent tone, it isn't too far removed from the version by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds from all those years ago, while musically it sounds like a lost "Morning Phase" outtake with guest vocals.

"… Even Though You're With Another Girl", by Trentemoller. You might have placed Trentemoller in a box marked Minimal Techno. You now have to take him out of that box and put him in a box marked Trentemoller. This is classic dream pop but with a dark edge. That it has taken me five years to discover it is shameful. Don't make the same mistake. (If you can figure out what is going on in the video you are a better man than I.)

"Twelve Miles High", by Burger/Ink. AKA Jörg Burger and Wolfgang Voigt, both mainstays of the Kompakt label. Originally released in 1996, when it really must have sounded like a transmission from the future. Re-released by Kompakt (which itself, at least as a record label, didn't exist in 1996) in 2010, it still sounds like the future.

"Promises (Nils Frahm Version)", by The Presets. Well, isn't this a lovely thing? It's like Steve Reich pulses carried aloft on an electronic cloud-bed. Or something. The Presets are from Sydney: who knew?

"Midnight Train", by Tommy James. One year after "Crimson and Clover", Tommy James went solo and came up with songs like this: a little less overtly hippy trippy, perhaps, but no less psychedelic.

"The Way Love Used To Be", by Pain Teens. Pain Teens were a bunch of experimental Texan mischief makers. It is probably no surprise they found themselves on King Coffey's record label. Here, they take on a Kinks klassik and, unexpectedly, win.

"Sulle, Leyna", by Jaak Joala. Details are scarce, but if you imagine an Estonian version of Pilot you won't be too far off the mark. If anybody had brought a copy of this record to Australia, Molly would have played it on "Countdown" for sure.  Punters, I urge you to watch this clip. It is very special.

(Bonus: album cover of the month; at least, I am led to believe this is the same record, although the song title differs. Anyone?)

"I've Got Your Number (Demo)", by Ned Doheny. Ned Doheny was a musician working in California in the seventies. That's about all I can tell you, and all you probably need to know. This song is from a compilation album released by the ever dependable Numero Group. It's nice. A download link would still appear to be available here.

"Calling Me Home (Demo)", by Donald Thomas. This, too, is from a Numero Group compilation. It's a little bit WTF and a whole lot of perfect.

"Blue Shadow", by Alan Parker. We take you out tonight with a moody instrumental piece by Alan Parker. The album on which it appears contains one side written by Parker and the other side written by Alan Hawkshaw, another one of the bastions of the British library music "scene". Enjoy.