I’m tempted to just write “’nuff said’” but feel I should at least give you some background to this.
Three stories. One, my mate Graham, hitching his way across the USA, in the late 80’s, got a lift with a guy who only had one CD in the car – “Songs From The Big Chair” by Tears for Fears. You’d have thought he’d never want to hear it again but far from it.
Taken from their album of 2003, “Black Cherry”, I first heard “Hairy Trees” as a sample on Tom Middleton’s excellent mash-up “The Trip.”
I can clearly remember hearing this song for the first time. I’d just started that glorious teaching period known as the “long holiday” in July 2001, and was sitting in the garden, sun out, attempting to write the book and lyrics to a musical I was aiming to produce the following Christmas...
Let’s face it; if you’re into John Martyn, then probably “Solid Air” first grabbed you. It did me; another smoky room, another smile on the face; another piece of music that has me exclaiming, ‘who’s this?’ Of course, once you’ve started, well, you’ve got to hear more to confirm your suspicions, and I first heard “Dancing” on the late night radio in UK just a few days later. Socks knocked off I headed down to the local record shop and hunted him out.
Taken from his debut album “Animal Magic” from 2000, and prior to being signed to Ninja Tunes a year later, Bonobo aka Simon Green has carved out a career with his ambient mix of textured tunes, often referred to as “downtempo” but which I prefer to call calming and reflective. “Shadow Tricks” has one spoken line which sums it up – “you will find each time you listen to this recording that you relax even more.”
An oddity this one, but it always brings a smile to my face. Taken from 1997’s album, “Let Us Play”, the heavy breathing, the samples, the cool vibe and tongue in cheek textures form a sonic soundscape.
Let’s be honest, no one quite kicks-back like the Dan, and if you’re an aficionado, then this eight-minute title track from their album of the same name in 1977 is the dog’s bollocks. It’s a magnum opus with its Chinese influences, congas, vibes, chord progressions, and Fagen’s croonings interlaced with Wayne Shorter on Sax through the whole shemozzle.
There’s something about the atmosphere created by the best live albums. Hard to believe, but Peter’s offering, “Frampton Comes Alive” from 1975, was the biggest selling live album of all time for years after. I wish I could remember how or when I first heard it, but it became my go-to album for a long time. I particularly remember a rain-spoiled holiday in Greece with my trusty cassette player belting this out giving me some succour.
Seminal smoke-ring music because this rehash of Pat Metheny’s seminal tune sung by Polish singer Anna Maria Jopek, also features Pat on guitar synth. I need to come clean on this; by putting Jopek’s version on my list, it leaves more room for the Great Man himself.
Taken from his album “Stephen Stills” from 1971, with that really cool pic of him in the snow, the top fact of this track is that the drummer’s Ringo Starr. Whisper it softly; this proves what a great drummer he is! The album also features Clapton and Hendrix at the peak of their powers; now what does that say about the pulling power of Stills?
A short-lived UK folk group led by Sandy Denny, featuring Trevor Lucas, Jerry Donahue, Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson, they recorded their album “Fotheringay” in 1970 before splitting. At the time I was into “Liege and Lief” by Fairport Convention, and was blown away by “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” as a song covered by Judy Collins, so an album like this, featuring Sandy, was always going to be on my horizon.
Arguably the first US super group, CSN “came out” at Woodstock, giving them instant credibility, justifying the hype and securing reputation.