I have to say, I quite like this month's selection. It almost works as a playlist; at least, it does until it goes completely off the rails at the end.
"Herbin'", by Tony Hatch & The Satin Brass.
"Indian Reservation", by Hugo Strasser Und Sein Tanzorchester. What better way to start than with a couple of choice selections of early seventies tracks from the kind of el cheapo selections piling up on the vinyl junkheap as could, once upon a time, be procured in quantity at Grumpy Warren's Record Paradise, in St. Kilda, just up the road from the Galleon.
Bonus: album cover of the month. The suggestion that this feisty German combo could take on both "Paranoid" and "Black Night" is very intriguing. We'll come back to that. Perhaps.
"En Alabama", by Léonie. You just know that there is going to be a Serge Gainsbourg connection to this beguiling little song. And there it is, in the credits: "Co-written by J. Cl. Vannier." Maybe Léonie is Melody's little sister.
"Gonna Make You My Angel", by Ted. We must be in the Christian-name-only part of the playlist. First we had Léonie. Now it's Ted. Nothing fancy there, just "Ted". The song might remind you (and this may not be an enticing prospect, if you were a boy at a country primary school circa 1974, where all of the girls had been swept up in Rollermania) of the Bay City Rollers. But the significance of this song is twofold: first, it sounds like Eurovision, which is the way a song should sound at this time of year (and didn't Guy do well; I take back every mean thought I have ever had about him); and secondly, it is co-produced by a certain Benny and Bjorn, whom some of us may have had an aversion to for many years, but which we have long since overcome, to everybody's benefit. Sometimes things are popular because they are good. (Sometimes. This song was also recorded, under a different translation, by Mark Holden, with whom I doubt I will be making my peace any time soon. Look away.)
"I See Red", by Frida. And who follows Ted? It can only be Frida. You may know her as the red-headed one from ABBA. You can hear traces of the old ABBA magic here. Produced by Phil Collins. Hence the drum sound.
"Birds of Paradise (Dub Version)", by Peaking Lights. Imagine, if you will, a dub version of Kraftwerk's "The Model", put together by people who have absorbed the lessons of Public Image Ltd, The Slits and The Raincoats. I am entirely comfortable with that.
"Nag Nag Nag", by Cabaret Voltaire. This song, I now discover, was co-produced by Mayo Thompson, of Red Krayola, and Rough Trade's Geoff Travis. The funny thing about that is, it sounds as if it wasn't produced at all. Maybe that's a compliment. I don't know..
"The Soviets Are Coming", by Soul Syndicate. This is not the only time "Take 5" has been done in a reggae stylee. (Sorry. It types itself.) The first 20 seconds are outstanding in the way the song manages to wrong-foot the unwary listener not once but twice. It may not contain the sonic mindfreakery of my favourite reggae, but you can't deny its (or "it's") class. Don't miss the kinda-jazz electric-piano solo.
"Express Yourself", by Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. As heard in, oh, some old hiphop song. The version I am listening to is an outtake, released on a Rhino compilation in 2008, but, y'know, whatever. File with Archie Bell and The Drells' "Tighten Up".
"County Line", by Cass McCombs. I haven't heard all that many Cass McCombs songs, but I also haven't heard one that I didn't like. Maybe there's a lesson in that. You know I'm a sucker for the electric piano. And if the "woah woah woah woah woah" makes you think of "My Love", by Wings, well, where's the harm?
"Jesus Fever", by Kurt Vile. About the only things I know about Kurt Vile are (a) he used to be in The War On Drugs, whom I have latterly fallen for in a rather spectacular fashion, and (b) he has written and recorded quite a lot of songs. They can't all sound as timeless as this. Can they?
"Paper Dolls", by Real Estate. In which my favourite band (as of today, anyway), erm, "rock out". You know, like R.E.M. used to occasionally "rock out"? And it always kind of worked for them because you knew that (a) they really meant it but (b) they knew it wasn't really a style that suited them, which kind of freed them up to just, y'know, have a go. This is like that. And it is also further proof, if further proof were needed, that Real Estate's B-sides are better than most people's A-sides.
"Mahogany Dread", by Hiss Golden Messenger. I wonder what is buried deep within my psyche that causes little tears to emerge from the corners of my eyes whenever I listen to this song. Whatever it is, it's the same damn thing that gets me whenever I listen to that War On Drugs song I wrote about the other month. Do you feel it too? Do I, against my better judgment, really, deeply, miss the eighties?
"It's Good To Touch You In The Sunlight", by Castanets. Imagine, if you will, late-period Bob Dylan fronting Tindersticks. You can't? Well, I think you can. Listening to this might help you.
"Tunan", by Mammane Sani. Hammond sounds (well, "electronic organ") from Africa. It's like the old SBS promo said: "The world is an amazing place."
"I Tcho Tchass", by Akofa Akoussah. Remember when you fell in love with Cesaria Evora all those years ago? Well here's another lost voice in the wilderness for you. I can't even begin to pigeon-hole this stunning song. So I won't try. This blog post does an excellent job. Thanks, pal.
Really, this playlist should end here. There is nowhere to go after a performance as extraordinary as that.
Especially not here …
"Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)", by Hazell Dean. Twelve big inches of Stock Aitken and Waterman. (I doubt they were ever better than this.) ("Better", of course, is a relative term.) (Also: in what universe did New Order not get a songwriting credit for this?)
"Sick Beat", by Kero Kero Bonito. And then there's this.