Thursday, 4 April 2013

March's Soundtrack

A Bowie-centric month for a variety of reasons, but plenty of other things too....

1. David Bowie - Big Brother (from Diamond Dogs, 1974)

This great anthemic ode (more or less) to fascism is understandably overlooked despite its catchiness. As unsettling as it is stadium-worthy and with one of Bowie's finest vocal performances.

2. Daniel Johnston - To Go Home (from The What of Whom,1981)

Probably DJ's most consistent home-recorded album, and this is one of his most accomplished, 'normal' yet obsessively odd songs.

3. The Edgar Winter Group- Free Ride (from They Only Come Out At Night, 1972)

Perhaps the archetypal laidback 70s funky blues-rock anthem from freakish semi-albinesque rocker Edgar Winter.

4. The Beatles - Sexy Sadie (from The Beatles, 1968)

Lovely funny and uplifting song with only mildly caustic overtones really, considering its disillusioned-with-their-guru origins.

5. Led Zeppelin - Over the Hills and Far Away (from Houses of the Holy, 1973)

A lovely, romantic and atmospheric song that brings together the delicate, acoustic and heavy electric sides of Led Zeppelin perfectly.

6. Cheap Trick - Southern Girls (from In Color..., 1978)

Everything that is great about Cheap Trick in one song; funny, warm, catchy, goofy; rock.

7. Altar of Plagues - (from Teethed Glory and Injury, 2013)

Inventive and (shock!) original post-black metal from one of Ireland's finest metal bands.

8. The Cure - In Your House (from Seventeen Seconds, 1980)

Seventeen Seconds is a superb but strange, hushed, dreamlike album of (aside from the singles) peculiarly half-formed songs, of which this is probably the best.

9. James Brown - Hot (I Need To Be Loved) (single, 1975)

It blatantly rips off the tune of Bowie's Fame but is a great record in its own right.

10. David Bowie - We Are The Dead (from Diamond Dogs, 1974)

Another great song from the end of Bowie's glam era. I don't think there's a better sung or recorded moment in his oeuvre than the first part of this song. The chorus isn't quite up to the quality of the verses but genius nonetheless.

11. Frank Zappa - Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (from Joe's Garage, 1978)

Puerile, silly but also a cool bit of 70s hard rock.

12. John Cale - Coral Moon (from Helen of Troy, 1975)

A melodic and delicate, even 'lilting' song from the mostly angry/disturbed (but still accessible) sounding Helen of Troy
13. King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew (single, 1967 )

Who could not love this classic funk/soul/jazz record? Lots of people no doubt, but they are wrong.

14. Lou Reed - Crazy Feeling (from Coney Island Baby, 1975)

Lighthearted, semi-romantic pop music is not always Lou Reed's forte but on occasion he does it very well.

15. Ólöf Arnalds  - A Little Grim (from Sudden Elevation, 2013)

A lovely and poignant little song from Arnalds' first English-language album.

16. Richard Hell & the Voidoids - Love Comes in Spurts (from Blank Generation, 1980)

A lot of US punk sounds kind of old-fashioned compared to its UK equivalent but not Richard Hell. Not a great song but a great record.

17. Lustre - Spirit (from Lost in Lustrous Nightskies, 2013)

This track comes from a compilation of outtakes and rarities that is a masterclass in almost imperceptible ambient black metal; beautiful and ugly/

18. Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (from Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

One of Talking Heads' most 80s, most pop, but also best songs, strangely haunting for something so chirpy.

19. The Doors - Hyacinth House (from LA Woman, 1971)

Strident yet despondent, LA Woman may well be The Doors' best album, and Hyacinth House seems to encapsulate the mood that led Jim Morrison to his self-imposed exile in France.

20. The Raspberries - Come Around and See Me (from Raspberries, 1972)

The Raspberries' debut is one of the greatest power pop LPs ever made and this song, written and sung by guitarist Wally Bryson is a lovely, romantic, slightly scruffy and informal pop-rock tune.

21. The Smiths - Back to the Old House (B-side of What Difference Does It Make, 1984)

One of The Smiths' loveliest, most autumnal songs, like much of their early work it just sounds like one long sigh.

22. David Bowie - Young Americans (from Young Americans, 1975)

Bowie's foray into contemporary American soul/r'n'b is about as 'authentic' as you'd expect for a white guy from London; and therein lies its charm.

23. Kate Bush - Cloudbusting (from Hounds of Love, 1985)

Peculiar, catchy pop song about philosopher Wilhelm Reich with a great and presumably expensive video. Strangely moving even if it always seems somewhat unresolved.

24. Throwing Muses - Not Too Soon (from The Real Ramona, 1991)

Possibly the most accessible album by the underrated Throwing Muses, both Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donnelly were at their best here and this is probably the most perfect pop song the band ever wrote.

25. The Meads of Asphodel - Sonderkommando (from Sonderkommando, 2013)

I half-wish Sonderkommando was available in an instrumental version, not because the lyrics/vocals are bad, but because the music on the album is so rich and expressive, beginning with this intro.

26. Dio - Night People (from Dream Evil, 1987)

Despite the popularity of the mighty Holy Diver, I think Dream Evil is possibly the most consistently great Dio album, it's commercial, MTV-friendly sound making it a true classic of 80s metal.

27. David Bowie - Station to Station (from Station to Station, 1976)

Exceptionally sinister and occult-obsessed Germanic rock music probably seemed like a strange turn to take from the wholesome accessibility of Young Americans, but Station to Station stands as one of the great albums in the Bowie discography.

28. Iggy Pop - Some Weird Sin (from Lust for Life, 1977)

Iggy Pop is the emperor of jaunty sleaze, and this may be the jauntiest of the many deranged but cheerful sounding songs on Lust for Life.

29. The New York Dolls - Who Are The Mystery Girls? (from Too Much, Too Soon, 1975)

The Dolls' second album may not be as iconic as the first, but it's pretty good and Shadow Morton was an inspired choice of producer.

30. Burzum - Galgviðr (from Umskiptar, 2012)

Sometimes you hear Burzum and all of the crap surrounding Varg and his beliefs just melts away; this is one of those times.

31. Cultes des Ghoules - The Devil Intimate (from Henbane, 2013)

Supremely creepy and nocturnal-sounding black metal from Poland. A great, nasty, scabrous piece of music, even if the intro is probably the best bit.

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