One of the great things about streaming is there’s very little to limit an album library. Unlike a physical collection of CDs or vinyl, or even an iTunes library, is that eventually you’ll fill up a shelf, or the space limit. Whilst there might actually be space limitations on playlists, it’s so that you can actually fit a broad spectrum on your streaming service of choice. So we’re shuffling the entire thing. Our library, in its ever-evolving growth and decline, is going to be shuffled at random. The aim of this is to somehow get me to listen to things I’ve stored but never taken the time to listen to, or to explain why Dido’s No Angel is no guilty pleasure. We’ll do five songs at random every week. Good? Good.
Just Like A Baby – Sly And The Family Stone
Great. I have to explain why I haven’t heard this classic album yet. I’ve heard plenty about There’s A Riot Goin’ On, mostly that’s it’s pretty great. ‘Just Like A Baby’ is very funky. It’s like a lost time capsule of funkiness, with a silky guitar solo that has Sly Stone moan over it – like a baby, but it’s the bass that rules the track, just like any funk track should. It pops, but don’t think of it in the way that Flea’s basslines pop. It’s subtle and not overpowering, but it’s always there. Stone sings about crying like a baby when his lover lies to him, inside a ‘little big man’. I honestly can’t tell whether it’s a drum machine or not, but the ‘tinniness’ of it makes me think it is. This was made in 1971, so it’s got to be a fairly early introduction of drum machines, right? I just realised I know very little about drum machines.
Reprise – Grizzly Bear
I have heard this before, but I can’t quite remember it. ‘Reprise’ doesn’t stick out like ‘Knife’ or ‘Colorado’ did on Yellow House, but then again this was a fairly quiet album back when Grizzly Bear were a quiet semi-folk band. ‘Reprise’ has grown on me now – look at that repeated like ‘My love’s another kind’. Another kind of what? And in relation to what else? I’m tempted to shout ‘Show yourself’ to Grizzly Bear, but I think it would break their spell. They like their mystery, especially on Yellow House where they do sound like a band singing about hidden corners of houses. Listen to those layers of vocals and banjo. This is when Grizzly Bear sounded a bit like Beach House – especially the start of the song – but then again, I think songs like this are much less obscured than those first couple of Beach House albums. It’s less about a layering of effects and more a layering of instruments without becoming blurry.
Deeper Understanding – Kate Bush
What I’m playing here is the Director’s Cut version that came out in 2011. It’s two minutes longer and arguably not as good as the Sensual World version, which I adore. In a really strange move, Bush adds her son’s vocals onto the chorus with a vocoder, and it doesn’t add much to the song at all, but Bush is fond of her son being part of her work, so there you have it. Generally Director’s Cut was an unusual choice, re-recording many parts of The Sensual World and The Red Shoes that didn’t especially need addressing, but I am fond of the harmonica solo that doesn’t intrude as much as you’d think it would, plus her scrambled vocals at the end are interesting. It turns it into proggy territory, and the back half gets quite hypnotic. Points for keeping the references to ordering computer programmes from catalogues in. I talked about the song’s lyrics a bit in my classic review if you’re interested.
World Love – The Magnetic Fields
I made it through 69 Love Songs once, more out of a morbid curiosity and the idea of a marathon of genre-spanning pop songs appealing to me. ‘World Love’ integrates the spanish flavours that The Magnetic Fields used on 69 Love Songs plenty. I loved how they had so many songs to write and record that the songs were mostly kept short, light and bouncy. Stephin Merritt’s known for his unique sense of humour, but lines like ‘So if you’re feeling low, stuck in some bardo / I, even I know the solution / Love, music, wine and revolution’ isn’t sarcastic at all, even if he’s proposing love and political upheaval is the key is happiness. He might be right.
Nice To Be Out – Stereophonics
You’ll have to bear with me because this album was my childhood. I can still see that bright green cover stuck in a CD case in the glovebox, probably scratched to shit. Saying that, I don’t remember this song at all, so nostalgia can’t be that powerful. It’s not ‘Handbags And Gladrags’ or ‘Have A Nice Day’, but it’s good to remember when Stereophonics were a bit deal, trying to be a bit like the next Oasis and all that. They might not have the classic album or the global singles that Oasis did, but they could write a damn good song. ‘Nice To Be Out’ is an acoustic song with Kelly Jones’s instantly recognisable vocals, where he occasionally cracks up if he holds a note a bit too long, and some really nice glossy pop production. It’s a bit of a bittersweet song, with jokes like ‘I stood where Oswald took his shot / In my opinion there’s a bigger plot’ and then also ‘Sleep to drink or drink to sleep / One more week and we will meet’. This era of Stereophonics is criminally underrated for rock bands.
Best Of The Week?
‘Reprise’, no doubt. Completely head over heels and now desperately want to revisit Yellow House. Let’s all revisit Yellow House right now. Yeah.