Troubled Diva Spoticast 005

(Click the tracklist screengrab to open the playlist.)

As I’ve only just typed up the notes for last week’s Spoticast (click here to read them, if you’re not already on the front page of the blog), I am once again a little en retard when it comes to furnishing you with the full muti-media experience that IS the Troubled Diva weekly Spoticast.

In the meantime, here are this week’s twenty tracks, with alternative YouTube links wherever I could find them.

1. The Money Shuffle – Richard Thompson (YouTube – live clip)

2. Soul Lam Plearn – The Petch Phin Thong Band (YouTube)

3. Mustapha – Davy Graham

4. Mustafa – Staiffi et ses Mustafa’s (YouTube – re-recording)

5. I,I,I – The Osmonds (YouTube – re-edit)

6. Good Beat – Deee-Lite (YouTube)

7. My House – Hercules and Love Affair (YouTube)

8. Marriage – Gold Panda (YouTube)

9. Wouh – Nicolas Jaar (YouTube)

10.Wut – Girl Unit (YouTube)

11. Blind Faith – Chase & Status ft Liam Bailey (uncensored video)

12. Hello – Martin Solveig & Dragonette (YouTube)

13. True Confessions – The Undertones (YouTube)

14.The Bottom Line – Big Audio Dynamite (YouTube)

15. Why’d Ya Do It – Marianne Faithfull (YouTube)

16. TROUBLED DIVA POWER PLAY: Yang Yang – Anika (YouTube)

17. Me And The Devil – Gil Scott-Heron (YouTube)

18. Rolling In The Deep – Adele (YouTube)

19. Mean – Taylor Swift (YouTube)

20. No Words/No Thoughts – The Swans (YouTube)

To open the playlist in Spotify, please click the track listing at the top of this post.

You can also use this link:

Troubled Diva Spoticast 004

(Click the tracklist screengrab to open the playlist.)

These notes are a whole week late – but what the hell, better late than never, etc.

1. My Word! You Do Look Queer! – Stanley Holloway (YouTube)

I often forget how much vintage comedy is out there on Spotify. This monologue was new to me. Its title drew me in, mais bien sur.

2. The Magic – Joan As Police Woman (YouTube)

When it comes to Joan “Police Woman” Wasser, I can’t help feeling that we’re in diminishing returns territory. The new album has yet to grab me much, but this track has a certain je ne sais quoi.

3. The Words That Maketh Murder – PJ Harvey (YouTube)

Considering the number of PJ-influenced acts that are currently surfacing, she couldn’t have chosen a better moment for a comeback. I particularly like the lyrical homage to Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”.

4. Yang Yang – Anika (YouTube)

I tend to imagine this Yoko Ono cover (with production by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow) being played in smoke-choked, sticky-floored boîtes de nuit, where desultory, long-fringed, black-clad ghouls shuffle in the gloom. Do such places even exist any more?

5. Days – Creep (YouTube)

Enough with the French, already. This features vocals from Romy Madley Croft from The xx. Again, we’re in mopey, subterranean territory here…

6. Night – Zola Jesus (YouTube)

..and, for that matter, here. It’s good to run with a theme.

7. Surfacing – Chapel Club (YouTube)
8. Austere – The Joy Formidable (YouTube)

I saw both these bands on the last NME Radar Tour. Neither impressed me on the night, but both have redeemed themselves with their new singles – particularly The Joy Formidable, once I was persuaded to give “Austere” a second listen. Everyone deserves a second chance, don’t they? And besides, it’s about time we had a few guitar bands in here.

9. Adapt – Wire (YouTube)

Still very much working in the music industry today, as they say on Buzzcocks, Wire have described this track (from their new album Red Barked Tree) as “a kind of where-are-we, state-of-the-world address: observations about extreme climate change and disaster, the failure of financial markets (“fairness flounders, sincere cheats”), child labour, hollow politics.”

10. Compared To What? – John Legend and The Roots (YouTube)

The social commentary continues, with the first of three tracks in which John Legend has an involvement. This is taken from his recent album of classic soul covers, recorded with The Roots. Although nothing could ever top Les McCann and Eddie Harris’s brilliant original, Legend does a pretty decent job.

11. All The Boys – Keri Hilson (YouTube)

Although Keri Hilson’s latest album largely left me cold, this Legend-penned adieu (oops) to former lovers is one of the few tracks which grabbed me.

12. Getting Nowhere – Magnetic Man ft John Legend (YouTube)

And here’s Legend for the third and last time, guesting with the second-billed act on the forthcoming NME tour (also featuring Crystal Castles, Everything Everything and The Vaccines).

13. A Homeless Ghost – Console (YouTube)
14. TROUBLED DIVA POWER PLAY: Synchronize – Discodeine ft. Jarvis Cocker (YouTube)
15. Pills – Fujiya & Miyagi

This week’s synthy selections lead us nicely into…

16. Was Dog A Doughnut? – Cat Stevens (YouTube)

…this startlingly ahead-of-its time album track from 1977, in which Cat Stevens inadvertently invents electro.

17. Doctor My Eyes – Jackson Browne (YouTube)

Staying in the 1970s (which I am all too wont to do, let’s face it), “Doctor My Eyes” was a Top Ten hit for The Jackson 5 in the UK, whereas Jackson Browne’s 1972 original charted in the US. I’d never heard this until a couple of weeks ago. Knowledge gap duly filled.

18. Tourist Leggo – King Short Shirt

Calypso music from Antigua, as brought back to the UK by John Peel after a holiday there in 1977. I lost my taped-off-the-radio copy decades ago, and so was delighted to find this again on Spotify. You half-expect King Short Shirt to lay into his target good and proper – “tourist” being such a loaded word – but he confines himself instead to gentle mockery.

19. Roll Jordan Roll – The Fairfield Four

Discovered via the short-lived, but much-enjoyed, ILX listening room. Bass, HOW low can you go?

20. Coming Home – Diddy-Dirty Money ft Skylar Grey (YouTube)

My ability to appreciate contemporary hip hop hit the skids around six years ago, never to recover – which, to someone who likes to form an accommodation with most genres, is a source of considerable regret. These days, I’m the sort of bozo who only enjoys two or three US rap tracks a year: “Empire State Of Mind”, something by Kanye West (at least up until his most recent album, which again falls into DO NOT GET territory)… and this affectingly bombastic cracker from – of all people! – Puff Bleeding Daddy, whom I have cheerfully loathed for a decade and a half. You never can tell, can you?

To open the playlist in Spotify, please click the track listing at the top of this post.

You can also use this link:

Troubled Diva Spoticast 003

(Click the tracklist screengrab to open the playlist.)

This week, your Troubled Diva Spoticast comes with added functionality for the Spotify-deprived, in the form of YouTube links for every track. I’m too good to you. Really, I am.

1. Up Past The Nursery – Suuns (YouTube)

Not much grabbed by the opening cuts on Zeroes QC, the just-released debut from Montreal’s Suuns, I was all set to drag it to the trash pile. Mercifully, and just in the nick of time, a Facebook pal with dependable instincts posted a link to this little beauty, which otherwise would have escaped my notice. Carpers have pointed out its similarity to Clinic’s “The Return Of Evil Bill”. Yeah, whatever. I preferred “Fireflies” to “Such Great Heights”, as well.

(But since we’ve started playing that game; is it just me, or does this threaten to morph into the Macarena towards the end?)

2. Be Africa – Bibi Tanga & the Selenites (YouTube)

I wasn’t intending to return to Bibi Tanga quite so soon – he has already received priceless exposure on the first instalment of my wildly influential Spoticasts, and one has to be fair to all those countless acts who are clamouring, CLAMOURING I tell you, for a similar career boost – but a couple of remixes of “Be Africa” recently emerged on 12-inch, which sent me scuttling back to the original album track. I particularly like the disco-tinged bassline, which follows nicely from the Suuns track. Still not heard the remixes, but I can see why remixers would have been drawn to some of the elements on display here.

3. Sirka v Iouzi – Iva Bittova/Vladimir Vaclavek (YouTube)

Iva Bittova is a Czech singer and violinist with avant-gardist leanings, and this is taken from an album which she and guitarist Vladimir Vaclavek released in 1997. Before switching to pizzicato fiddle later in the track, Bittova wields a curious little mini-glockenspiel, the likes of which I haven’t seen before. This begins prettily enough, before going a bit gutturally bonkers in the middle, as Iva’s yelps are augmented by Vladimir’s grunts.

Note that Spotify has the studio version, while YouTube hosts a live recording from Czech TV. Both are worthy of your time.

4. Kuar (Henrik Schwarz remix) – Emmanuel Jal (YouTube)

In contrast to the Bibi Tanga track, I have only heard the two recent remixes of Emmanuel Jal’s never-more-apposite plea for electoral justice in his native Southern Sudan. A former child soldier turned rap artist, philanthropist and campaigner, Jal donated the original version of “Kuar” to the Sudan Votes, Music Hopes compilation, which marked last April’s parliamentary elections (the country’s first in 24 years). Last week, the mostly Christian people of Southern Sudan voted again, this time on whether to secede from the Muslim north. Results are expected to be announced in early February.

5. I’m A Cuckoo (The Avalanches mix) – Belle & Sebastian (YouTube)

And while we’re in the area, let’s dig out this ace re-working of “I’m A Cuckoo” from 2004, which is transformed by the addition of a Southern Sudanese choir (whose post-performance corpsing is a joy all of its own).

6. I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than A Young Man’s Fool) – Candi Staton (YouTube)

Candi’s debut US R&B hit from 1969 is hereby dedicated to all those who appreciate the charms of the more mature gentleman (although if truth be told, Candi’s testimonial falls some distance short of “heartfelt”). If Florence Welch ever gets her honking chops around this one, then we’ve all had it!

7. Don’t Think About Death – The Humms (YouTube)

Faintly doomy, non-specifically menacing garage rock from Athens, Georgia, which introduces the intriguing concept of “left-handed cigarettes”. I haven’t the faintest idea what they’re on about. This couldn’t concern me less.

8. Hotel Room – Smoke Fairies (YouTube)

Holy Moly described their album Through Light And Trees as “the album Robert Plant would make if he were young and beautiful again (and if he were two girls from Chichester, obviously)”. It’s a flippant point, but not without a nugget of truth – for if you were, like me, charmed by Plant and Krauss’s Raising Sand, only to be let down by Plant’s Band Of Joy, this well could be the album for you. Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies are playing Nottingham’s Glee Club on Thursday, and I’m contemplating a “payer” in their honour. If I did an “album of the week” slot – and I might yet, oh I might – then this would be it.

9. Michael A Grammar – Broadcast (YouTube)

…which would be preferable to running a perpetual “Who Did We Lose Last Week” slot, but here we are again, and what can you do? In memory of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan, this is taken from 2005’s Tender Buttons, always my favourite. My fondness for this track has always been heightened by the way that Trish sings “Michael”, using much the same interval that my mother would use when calling me down from my bedroom at tea-time.

10. Retro Rockets – The Stranglers (YouTube)

I interviewed JJ Burnel again last week. He had been a delight to talk to twelve months ago, and he was just as much fun this time around, teasing me with his fantasies of procuring “gum jobs” from his aging fanbase. (Ah, if only I wasn’t writing for a family newspaper. But I’m sure I can find space elsewhere.)

“Retro Rockets”, a protest song about the state of chart pop (“too much static in my ear from the people who cruise it”) was released as a single nearly a year ago. Appropriately enough, given its central premise – that there is no room left on pop radio for bands like The Stranglers – the song stalled at Number 198. A year later, and a week after the veteran radio DJ Paul Gambaccini’s claim that we are witnessing “the end of the rock era”, the highest placed rock single (using the broadest possible definition of the term) in the current UK singles chart is “Bigger Than Us” by White Lies, all the way down at Number 62. Depending on your disposition, you might cheer or cringe at the message of “Retro Rockets” – but at least you can see where Burnel was coming from.

11. TROUBLED DIVA POWER PLAY: Lights On – Katy B ft. Ms Dynamite (YouTube)

Meanwhile, as rock languishes, UK Funky breaks through at last. Sorry JJ, that’s just how it is. Holding steady at Number 4, this remains my favourite current chart hit.

12. All Over Your Face – Ronnie Dyson (YouTube)

Inspired by the “80s style r&b/boogie/electro with old school soul vocals” thread on ILM, here are two prime examples. Ronnie Dyson first made his name as the original teenage lead in the Broadway production of Hair. In the 70s, he recorded with Thom Bell, one of the prime architects of the Philly sound. This was his last US R&B chart hit, from 1983.

13. Put Our Heads Together – The O’Jays (YouTube)

And from the same year, here’s one of the most successful Philly acts: similarly moving with the times, but still recording for the same label. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of music like this.

14. Paradise – Starkey ft. Anneka (YouTube)

We’re still in Philadelphia, but now we’re back in the present day. This is the last, and best, track on Starkey’s Space Traitor Vol. 1 EP. I don’t know much about dubstep – and I sure as hell didn’t know that they were making it in Philadelphia – but I know I love this. According to his Myspace, Starkey’s only upcoming UK date is at Stealth, here in Nottingham. Truly we are blessed.

15. Klinsfrar Melode – Marco Bernardi (YouTube)

There wasn’t enough electronic music on my first two Spoticasts, so here’s where I redress the balance. Marco Bernardi is from Glasgow, and he has been putting music out since 2004. This is the first track I’ve heard by him. I had a hard job choosing between the original version and the 13-minute remix by DJ Sprinkles, so maybe I’ll flip the record over next week.

16. The Sun Rising – The Beloved (YouTube)

Almost exactly 21 years ago, we threw our best ever house party. I was so pleased with the music that I’ve hung onto the tapes ever since, and recently I used them to construct a 53-track, four-hour replica on Spotify. “The Sun Rising” is as good a reminder of that era as any, and if I could find the Hildegard Von Bingen piece that it samples (the proper choral version, not the “classical chillout” bollocks version), then I’d link to it as well.

17. The Unicorn – Stimming (YouTube)

Characterised by beautiful use of strings and piano, this is taken from the most recent EP (Change) from Hamburg’s Martin Stimming.

18. U & Eye – Chaim ft Meital De Razon (YouTube)

And so to Tel Aviv, although “U & Eye” is released on Ellen Allien’s Berlin-based label, Bpitch Control. I don’t have much to say about this one, to be honest. If this were a radio show, I’d let it run on from the previous track, without further comment.

19. Synchronize – Discodeine ft. Jarvis Cocker (YouTube)

French dance duo make clapped-out pop star sound fresh and interesting again. Rest of world shrugs, having stopped caring about the clapped out pop star several years ago. Their loss, as this is peachy.

20. Do It Now – Dubtribe Sound System (YouTube)

I’m finishing with an epic this week. It might be over 13 minutes long, but not a second is wasted on this truly inspirational deep house classic from 2001. You might also recognise the piano part from The Juan Maclean’s equally brilliant “Happy House”, which came out in 2008.

To open the playlist in Spotify, please click the track listing at the top of this post.

You can also use this link:

Friends and “friends”.

Earlier this week, The Guardian ran a think-piece entitled “Friendship, Facebook-style. Are social networking sites promoting devalued, impermanent relationships?” It reminded me of similar observations which I made (while in the grip of an uncommonly sour, grumpy mood, and rather too long-windedly, as was my habit) on my old blog, nearly four years ago.

(If pressed for time, and aren’t we all these days, skip to the third section, just below the second horizontal rule. The rest is ancient history.)

It’s a shame that my old commenting system packed up, as I remember quite a lot of people disagreeing with me, and I’d like to check back. I wonder whether anyone’s opinions have changed since then?

Nice while it lasted (see update)

I am finding WordPress’s relaxed attitude to post titles very liberating, in an Autumn 2001 kind of way.

Update: This would be fine and dandy, were it not for a bothersome glitch in WordPress: namely that comments left on posts without titles can’t be directly accessed via the “recent comments” widget on the sidebar. Oh well. We can’t ever go back, can we?

There’s no escape from a Tangerine Dream.

I have a Tumblr, but I don’t use it much. Yesterday, I posted this photo to my Tumblr account, which I spotted on an ILM thread (“Vintage seventies (or sixties and eighties) magazine ads for albums”). For the first time since I started using Tumblr, the photo then got picked up and re-blogged all over the place. (N.B. This is how Tumblr works. Everybody re-blogs everybody else, and the culture permits it).

Anyhow, for those who don’t do Tumblr (which is most of you), here’s the photo once again.

(P.S. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one place on the web where everybody put ALL their stuff, rather than spreading it around various blogging systems and social networking platforms? This is kind of why I seem to be blogging again. I just want everything in one place!)