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Any Major Love Mix 2009

February 10th, 2009 11 comments

Amid all the heartbreak and unrequited love (with lovelessness and death still to come) we are looking at this month, we need a respite from the gloomy tears and instead frolic in the calm waters of true love reciprocated — which in itself, as some of the lyrics here suggest, is a source of anxiety and uncertainty. And, well, perhaps some lucky person might need a decent mix for Valentine’s Day which does not include the unlovely horrors perpetrated by Chris DeBurgh, Jennifer Rush, Peabo Bryson, Céline Dion, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Michael Bublé – and who prefer to do without “edgy” comps featuring the love musings of Coldplay, U2, Avril Lavigne and James Blunt. As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R. It might be a good alternative to an overpriced VD card (and if anybody tries that, please let me know if it was a good idea).

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1. Donny Hathaway – A Song For You (1971)
You taught me precious secrets of the truth withholding nothing, you came out in front and I was hiding. But now I’m so much better and if my words don’t come together, listen to the melody, ’cause my love is in there hiding.

2. Carpenters – I Won’t Last A Day Without You (1972)
When there’s no gettin’ over that rainbow, when my smallest of dreams won’t come true, I can take all the madness the world has to give, but I won’t last a day without you.

3. Ben Kweller – Sundress (2006)
I don’t need a smile from a mannequin, I just want to hold you in my hands. I do everything you want me to…for you.

4. The Weepies – Happiness (2004)
Friday 13, lights go red, green, in a coffee shop. I’m giving you the look while someone else is fingering your wallet in my pocketbook. It’s a mean town, but I don’t care. Try and steal this! Can’t steal happiness.

5. Mindy Smith – Falling (2004)
When I’ve almost had enough, something about you draws me back again. When I’ve almost given up, something about you pulls me in. And we’re falling…

6. John Prine with Iris Dement – In Spite Of Ourselves (1999)
She thinks all my jokes are corny, convict movies make her horny. She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs, swears like a sailor when shaves her legs. She takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. I’m never gonna let her go.

7. Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You (2001)
Here is the church and here is the steeple, we sure are cute for two ugly people, I don’t see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.

8. Simone White – The Beep Beep Song (2007)
(Yeah, the one from the Audi commercial) Despite all the warnings I landed like a fallen star in your arms.

9. Curtis Mayfield – So In Love (1975)
This love affair is bigger than we two. Lose our faith and it will swallow you. Loving you is what I’ll always feel, never ever doing things against our will. Loving means, never require any kind of test … Ya got me so in love.

10. Aretha Franklin – Baby I Love You (1967)
If you want my lovin’, if you really do, don’t be afraid, baby. Just ask me, you know I’m gonna give it to you. Oh, and I do declare: I want to see you with it. Stretch out your arms, little boy, you’re gonna get it – ’cause I love you.

11. Ron Sexsmith – Never Give Up On You (2006)
I’d never give up on you because I know you’d do the same for me. Never give up on you because you take me as I am, how I’ll always be.

12. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Grow Old With Me (1999)
Grow old along with me. Two branches of one tree face the setting sun when the day is done. God bless our love. (Beautifully sung by Carpenter, the real poignancy of this song derives from its authorship: written and demoed by John Lennon shortly before his murder in December 1980, it first appeared on his posthumous Milk And Honey album)

13. Tom Waits – Falling Down (1988)
For she loves you for all that you are not …You forget all the roses, don’t come around on Sunday. She’s not gonna choose you for standing so tall; go on and take a swig of that poison and like it.

14. Alexi Murdoch – Love You More (2006)
Love you more than anyone. Love you more than anyone. Love you more in time to come. Love you more. (That’s the complete lyric…)

15. Finley Quaye – Dice (2003)
I was crying over you. I am smiling, I think of you. Misty morning and water falls, breathe in the air if you care, you compare, don’t say farewell. Nothing can compare to when you roll the dice and swear your love’s for me.

16. Dexys Midnight Runners – This Is What She’s Like (1985)
“Well how did all this happen?” “Just all at once really. The Italians have a word for it.” “What word what is it?” “A thunderbolt or something.” “What, you mean the Italian word for thunderbolt?” “Yeah, something like that. I don’t speak Italian myself you understand?” “No.” “But I knew a man who did. Well, that’s my story. The strongest thing I’ve ever seen.” (Single version)

17. The Cure – Lovesong (1989)
Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I’m alone with you , you make me feel like I am whole again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am young again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am fun again.

18. Jens Lekman – I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration (2004)
And the skies were clear blue skies, and her eyes were clear blue eyes, and her thighs were about the same size as mine, and we were walking in the anti-war demonstration; it was a sweet sensation of love.

19. Kacy Crowley – Kind Of Perfect (2004)
The last few years have been much harder than we ever thought they’d be. I know you hate it when I say I’m sorry, but I’m sorry. There was never a point in our love that I didn’t love you; not a point in our love. I always did, I always will, I always do, love you still, I always would, how could I not? Just look at us baby, we’re kind of perfect.

20. Joshua Radin – The Fear You Won’t Fall (2007)
I know you’re scared that I’ll soon be over it. That’s part of it all, part of the beauty of falling in love with you is the fear you won’t fall.

21. Nina Kinert – Through Your Eyes (2004)
All the time I stood here holding dandylions and chocolate for you. Tumbleweeds and fireworks go by. It’s hard to keep them still for you to see, nut you know that I try. I want to see you watching what I see, now that you’re mine, through your eyes.

22. Sarah Bettens – Grey (2005)
Will you be my everything? Maybe just this time we can really think that I am yours and you are mine; I am yours and you are mine…

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More songs about love

Music For Bloggers: Vol. 7

July 23rd, 2008 6 comments

Last time I promised to post more Music For Bloggers within a couple of weeks. Almost month later… As always, if your blog doesn’t feature now, it might do so in the future. Does anyone find this feature useful?

Uncle E’s Musical Nightmares
This might look like an act of reciprocity: a little while back, Uncle E. posted a bunch of made-up and amusing “facts” about Steely Dan, in honour of this little blog. While I was genuinely touched by that, I really do enjoy Uncle E.’s lists, notes and the occasional rant. His fireworks about his “little iPod cigarette lighter FM ‘port’ thingy” (it’s called an iTrip, I think. At least when the fuckers from Apple make it) a few days ago is quite spectacular; and his alternative CD-R playlist not at all unattractive. Unle E. does not give us music, but he gives us some good ideas – and entertains us along the way.
Cat Stevens – 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare).mp3

Jens Lekman – smalltalk
I don’t go in much for blogs written by artists. Maybe I’m betraying my utter lack of empirical research now, but my impression is that often they are either banal or written by the act’s PR interns. Armed with that prejudice, I don’t tend to seek out such blogs. Occasionally I’ll stumble upon one by accident; usually when I do research for this blog. That’s how I found Jay Brannan’s blog, and that’s how I found Jens Lekman’s. If it is necessary to introduce to the reader the great Lekman, the dear reader might right-click HERE for an introduction. Jens doesn’t update his blog with compulsive regularity, unfortunately. The last entry was on June 30. Still, so much greater the joy when he does. I like this, from his entry on 19 June: Everytime I play on some satellite radio station I always end up in the same discussion. [Satellite radio station guy] “You know you can say anything you want here right?” “Oh yeah? That’s cool.” “You know, really, anything.” “Sweet.” “I mean, you can say fuck if you want to.” “Ok.” (silence) “…We’d really like you to say fuck as much as possible.” This absolutely wonderful song namechecks Jens Lekman:
Hello Saferide – The Quiz.mp3

Ain’t Superstitious
The blog’s full title in full is “Ain’t Superstitious, but these things I’ve seen”, which by dint of a comma is an even bigger mouthful than Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. Like most music blogs with long names, it’s named after a song lyric, in this case a Faces song. Blogger Paul Madison, a resident of Wisconsin (one US state I know absolutely nothing about) has a nice, crisp style of writing; he knows his stuff and how to convey it. His music selections are invariably of interest — he scooped me with a post on Lennon/McCartney compositions recorded by other acts. To make sense of my dedication, you’ll have to visit Paul’s blog.
The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (12″ version).mp3

AM, Then FM
I could have sworn that I featured this blog before, but apparently not, as repeated scans of previous Music for Bloggers entries confirmed. Perhaps I wrote a masterful review and in the haze of a drunken hour miserably deleted it. Like Paul of Ain’t Superstitious, Jeff is from Wisconsin. His blogroll features many sites also included on mine, but not the blog of his fellow Wisconsan (and vice versa). Which means that either they don’t each other (possible, unless Wisconsin has a population of 250; as I said, I know nothing about Wisconsin) or they do know each other but are entertaining a long-running family feud. They’d like each other’s blogs, I’m sure. Jeff deals in mostly vinyl rips, some of them quite rare, and evidently in covers of the Rolling Stone featuring Linda Ronstadt in her loveliest pomp. And some good writing along the way. This reminds me, August 12 is Vinyl Record Day , and AM, Then FM and other friends of this blog will take part. I’m trying to organise a turntable (my Technics has no stylus, and I no money for a new one) and learn to rip vinyl before then, but I’m not hopeful that I’ll succeed.
Steely Dan – FM.mp3

PsD Photoshop Disasters
I discovered this blog only yesterday, when I had a shitload of work to do. Work, which includes the occasional bit of photoshopping, had to be damned for an hour or so while I guffawed at some of the idiotic things that can happen when you let the monkeys loose on clever toys. How likely is it to clone, if you need to clone at all, a solitary hand parked on a fence? How difficult is it to let the lovely model keep her belly button (I like belly buttons. Surely everybody likes belly buttons)? I can’t understand why some images need to be created from scratch in Photoshop instead of in a photo studio, or why a model’s arm needs to be stretched to unnatural lengths. And is there no quality control. Not in glossy magazines, Apple ads or DVD covers. DTP has made print media production much easier, but it has also allowed talentless amateurs on the steering wheel. They go crazy with layers and the cloning tool, they O.D. on fonts, they violate every rule of colour management. I once saw an NGO’s annual report which ran all text in red on black background. The design agency – for it was a graphic design company, not he secretary’s 12-year-old son who designed the report – won an award for it! The Photoshop Disasters blog is a healthy way to mock incompetence an

d sloppiness in design. The dedicated song is a 2002 track from a now disbanded South African rock group.
Perez – Picture Perfect.mp3

SibLingshot On The Bleachers
This is a fairly new blog, kicking off business just two months ago. In its first month, blogger ib created almost as many posts as I did in all of 2007, and just in July more than I have this year. And we’re not talking about quickly churned out one-liners, but well-written and thoughtful posts written from a position of knowledge. That is impressive. ib’s music selection is very good, too, covering a wide range of genres, from Deodato via Johnny Cash and Jonathan Richman to the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Normally there is just one song per post, which means that quite a bit of thought goes into choosing the most suitable song. Some of the stuff is very rare. Given ib’s eclectic tastes and weird blog title, I’ve been stuck for a dedication. I remember early in his career, ib posted the Dionne Warwick and Frankie Goes To Hollywood version of Do You Know The Way To San José. You can never go wrong with a bit of Burt, so from 1965…
Jackie Trent – Make It Easy On Yourself.mp3

Dr Forrest’s Cheese Factory
This is a treasure trove in a goldmine. It’s a malfunctioning cash machine which cannot stop spewing out loot – provided one wants comedy or collects really bad music, or gets a kick out of audio novelties. The blog’s narrative is manic, and so is the rate of posting. My heart leapt when I opened the blog yesterday and saw the Kids From The Brady Bunch album, which is truly terrible and needs to be listened to. Once. Ethel Merman’s famous disco album? It’s there. I’ve seen many albums for download in the Cheese Factory which are staples of the “worst album covers ever” type of lists. You know the type of obscure sleeves which may depict four fat brothers and their one-armed mother in matching brown polyester suits warning the kids of the devil in country style. Chances are good that the Cheese Factory has that album. The Cheese Factory also seems to share my obsession with horrible moustaches. To celebrate everything done in the best possible taste, here’s a song the Cheese Factory does not have:
Kenny Everett – Snot Rap.mp3

N.M.E. & Melody Maker
I don’t know whether there are more sites like it, but this unassumingly named blog provides a wonderful service: scanned articles from the Melody Maker and New Musical Express, circa 1987-96. At times, it might embarrass the hacks featured (I’d hate for someone to dig up some of the rubbish I wrote 15 years ago), but it’s great fun. And what fine writers there were: David Stubbs (whose Mr Agreeables and variations thereof also feature), Taylor Parkes (an incredible writer who is far too underused; just read his doubtless easily knocked out Smiths review), Simon Price, Andrew Mueller, Everett True… and a few NME types. Funny, I never liked the NME much, but, goodness, it’s so bloody horrible now that I miss the old incarnation. And the Maker is long dead. So, while we mourn the existence of the non-broadsheet, rather too laddish NME, we can revisit the good old days. Hey, is there a blog dedicated to Smash Hits’ Black Type? Is he Back! Back!! Back!!! somewhere? Of all the dedications in this post, this track was a no-brainer.
The Cure – Desperate Journalist.mp3

Previously featured:
Music For Bloggers Vol. 1: Totally Fuzzy, Not Rock On, Serenity Now (RIP), Stay At Home Indie Pop, The Late Greats, Tsururadio, 200percent, Jefitoblog (RIP), Television Without Pity, Michael’s World
Music For Bloggers Vol. 2: Fullundie, Mr Agreeable, Greatest Films, Peanut’s Playground, Just Good Tunes, Csíkszereda Musings, Mulberry Panda, The Black Hole, Secret Love, Hot Chicks With Douchebags
Music For Bloggers Vol. 3: Girl On A Train, Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore, Earbleedingcountry, Spangly Princess, Ill Folks, Deacon Blues, One-Man Publisher, CD Rated
Music For Bloggers Vol. 4: Pop Dose, Todger Talk, Holy Goof (RIP), Echoes In The Wind, Sunset Over Slawit, The Hits Just Keep Coming, The Ghost of Electricity, Guitariotabs
Music For Bloggers Vol. 5: The Quietus, Barely Awake In Frog Pyamas, The Great Vinyl Meltdown, Fusion 45, Inveresk Street Ingrate, The Songs That People Sing
Music For Bloggers Vol. 6: my hmphs, Visions of Wrong Terrence, Don’t Burn The Day Away, Mine For Life, 3 Minutes 49 Seconds

Perfect Pop – Vol.2

March 26th, 2008 7 comments

Here is the second installment of Perfect Pop. For the criteria, look up the introduction to the first part of the series. One commenter rightly suggested the inclusion of The La’s, which I happily already had on my shortlist. Tell us which songs you think constitute perfect pop.

The Troggs – Wild Thing.mp3
A bit like “Louie Louie”, featured in the first part of this series, there is something gloriously shambolic going on here, understandably so if one knows that it was recorded in 20 minutes as an afterthought to a recording session. Singer Reg Presley not just sounds lewd, he is fucking the listener none too gently. Which is quite a contrast to later, milder Troggs hits (Love Is All Around; With A Girl Like You), but quite in keeping with the famous recording of the Troggs’ having an animated discussion in the studio.
Best bit: The ocarina solo (1:11)

The La’s – There She Goes.mp3
Had the Troggs been 20 years younger, they might well have sounded like the La’s (a name I’ve always hated). Allegedly about heroin, this song has a catchy tune and beautifully jangling guitars which surely helped influence dozens of US Indie groups in the ’90s. And it was only in the ’90s that this song, originally released in 1988, became a hit.
Best bit: After the slow bridge, “She calls my name” (1:46)

Roy Orbison – Only The Lonely.mp3
My mother had the single of this: it was the song she and her teenage sweetheart shared. It’s a good “our song” if your love is being split up by disapproving parents, I think (he was working class, my mother the rebellious princess of upper middle-class parents; you know the deal). On many songs, Orbison’s voice annoys me (hence my utter hatred for the Travelling Wilburys), on a few it is perfect. Only The Lonely, where he sounds a lot like Elvis at times, is one of those.
Best bit: Orbison hits the falsetto (2:08)

Pilot – Magic.mp3
Unjustly never a hit in Britain, this is one of the finest bubble gum pop songs of the ’70s. It’s so full of lovely little touches. Listen to the quirks of the guitar, the sporadic handclaps, the intermittent strings, the soft backing la-la-la-las. And then there is the rich chorus; it’s all rather brilliant.
Best bit: The handclaps during the guitar solo (2:16)

The Cure – In Between Days.mp3
The Cure have a surprising number of straight pop songs; easy to forget if one listens too much to the weird or depressing stuff Robert Smith and pals have produced. This, the first of two outstanding singles from 1985’s The Head On The Door, is a quick, bubbly burst of perfect pop. New Order might have taken notes about the value of brevity in pop.
Best bit: Bob laments over the outro: “Without you!” (2:35)

Van McCoy – The Hustle.mp3*
Tune! Disco guitars, strings, flute, horns, a killer bassline, while friendly ladies and commanding gentlemen invite us to do The Hustle. Do it!
Best bit: The guitar demands to be heard (1:02)

Plastic Bertrand – Ça Plane Pour Moi.mp3*
Belgian punk, thankfully in French and not Flemish. It’s all very audacious, probably borrowing less from the Sex Pistols and more from the Small Faces, whose Sha-la-la-la-lee Plastic Bertrand covered on his debut album) than Sex Pistols. I have never bothered to establish what the man is singing about. I don’t think I want to. As long as I can sing the title and the ou-ooou-eeooou, I’m happy.
Best bit: Whatever he sings after being the king of the divan (1:12)

Mel & Kim – Respectable.mp3
Take them or leave them, but the much reviled Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory of the ’80s created some respectable pop. This song found SAW more or less at a crossroad: their formula was starting to take hold (with Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up becoming a hit just six months later), but there remains enough of the Hi-NRG-cum-pop sound which propelled songs such as Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” to pop classicdom. The “tay-tay-tay-tay” intro is an iconic ’80s moment. Sadly Mel Appleby died of cancerin 1990, just three years after Respectable (and the equally fine Showing Out).
Best bit: The House break (2:07)

ELO – Shine A Little Love.mp3
Jeff Lynne’s pop orchestra could get a little too prog, but 1979’s Discovery album was a jewel of great pop. I might as well have chosen Don’t Let Me Down (with its power chords and the bwoosh sound) or Confusion (with its lovely keyboard riff), but it always seems to me that Shine A Little Love tends to be overlooked. The urgent, swirling opening passage and the chorus with the strings and the woooo’s qualify this as a piece of perfect pop.
Best bit: “Ooh, ooh…ooh-ba-ooh-ba-ooh-ba” (1:37)

Georgie Fame – Yeh Yeh.mp3
2:47 minutes of pure joy. I think this is perfect kitchen pop: try not to dance to it while doing the dishes. Or while you sail a boat. The famous British pirate broadcaster Radio Caroline was launched because no other station wanted to play Yeh Yeh, on account of it sounding “too black”, according to its founder, Ronan O’Rahilly. Read the full story of that here.
Best bit: The slow build-up to the chorus: “We play a melody…” (0:49)

Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Oh man, that opening line: “Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo, crying in the rain”! The lyrics, the lament of a gay man who can’t pull through a relationship because he is shackled in the closet, are incredibly sad, scored by a gorgeous melody, Marc Almond’s luscious vocals and some of the best synth pop lines we’re ever likely to hear. And, please, never listen to David Gray’s excruciatingly poor cover (or never do that again)!
Best bit: “We’re strangers meeting for the first time, okay? Just smile and say hello…” (3:40)