I told you homeboy u can’t touch this

I hate it when I have a song in my head that I despise but round and round it goes, and it won’t sim­ply go away. Today it’s MC Ham­mer’s incred­i­bly irri­tat­ing Turn This Mutha Out. I hat­ed that song for years. I real­ly despised it and fired any DJ who played it at any of my clubs. I can’t for the life of me work out where it came from. Why the hell is it in my head?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign from some­where, god knows where, to final­ly fin­ish the album roundup I’ve been plug­ging away at for some months. There are three ear­li­er parts, post­ed here, here, and here; and it was start­ed as a sequel to my 7” and 12” lists. This album thing (I have no idea what to call it) is not, as I iter­at­ed before, a sil­ly best-albums-of-all-time list. Rather it’s a bunch of vinyl long play­ers, from the years before (and includ­ing 2000) that would not make most lists of that sort, but may well make mine. Records I’d rather not be with­out, if you will. Many of these, for one rea­son or anoth­er, are either out of print, or hard to get hold of but, that said, these records are all as cool as it gets and I make no excus­es for any of them.

So let’s, with no fur­ther ado, let’s put on our harem pants, start chick­en-danc­ing and turn this mutha out…

  1. Toy LoveToy Love (De-Luxe 1980): yes I know it’s on CD now with lots more bits and rare stuff. But the OG is the real thing. The new ver­sion has a fresh mix of sorts and a nice pack­age but, like AK79, it’s sim­ply not as much the real thing as this. I know I’ve said I’ve nev­er liked the cov­er (and I apol­o­gised to Jane for say­ing that) but it’s actu­al­ly grown on me quite a lot in recent years. And the new issue might have a rather nice infor­ma­tive pack­age but it doesn’t have a pull out poster and it doesn’t have that dense, rather threat­en­ing sound about it. I like the CD as well but there is some­thing about the orig­i­nal. And it’s held its age well. Sor­ry to be revisionist….
  2. EPMD-Unfin­ished Busi­ness (Fresh 1989): the first album from Eric and Parish, deserved­ly, gets lots of kudos. It remains one of the great hip-hop albums of any era. But the sec­ond one is often over­looked. It sits in the shad­ow of its pre­de­ces­sor and that’s not fair as its every bit it’s equal from the open­ing track, So What You Say­ing (best in its var­i­ous 12” remix­es but fine here too) onwards. My favourite track, aside from the sin­gles has to be the love­ly Faze‑O sam­pling Lis­ten to My Demo.
  3. Badfin­gerNo Dice (Apple 1970): per­haps one of the great­est pop bands ever, and sure­ly the most trag­ic, this was their sec­ond album under this name, and I could eas­i­ly have cho­sen any of the next four instead of this. For­get the sin­gle, No Mat­ter What, a huge hit and a film sync reg­u­lar – well actu­al­ly don’t for­get it, but look past it to the likes of With­out You, as lat­er cov­ered by Nils­son, and the majes­tic and slight­ly omi­nous song about a woman of the night, Mid­night Caller.
  4. The DOC-No One Can Do It Bet­ter (Ruth­less 1989): the great unhailed (well be hon­est it was might­i­ly hailed in some quar­ters but not for a long time) Dre album, pro­duced around the time of the first NWA album. The DOC alleged­ly con­tributed more to that group than var­i­ous actu­al named mem­bers, but this is a far more sophis­ti­cat­ed album both lyri­cal­ly and in pro­duc­tion terms than any­thing by the Comp­ton crew. Dre wouldn’t come close to this again until The Chron­ic.
  5. Carl Craig-Land­cruis­ing (Blan­co Y Negro 1995): post Kling Klang metal­lic-eyed soul from Detroit’s sec­ond wave. It always intrigues me to hear peo­ple enthuse about the likes of Kraftwerk but scratch their heads at, and walk away from records like this. The lin­eage is both obvi­ous and cru­cial to the under­stand­ing of the path that elec­tron­ic music has fol­lowed in recent decades. And no-one does it bet­ter than the man from Plan­et E. Re-tweaked and reis­sued last year as triple pack, I’ve got a soft spot for the sound and mix­es on the orig­i­nal dou­ble vinyl, sim­ply because that’s where I first fell in love with this. And then there is the amaz­ing Ken­ny Larkin mix of the sin­gle from this, Sci­ence Fiction.
  6. John­ny Thun­ders-So Alone (Real 1978): That John­ny record­ed any­thing lis­ten­able at this stage in his career remains a mir­a­cle (there are some tru­ly awful records from the same gen­er­al peri­od). But record he did, here with the help of Steve Lil­ly­white, and he made this record. You Can’t Put Your Arm Around Mem­o­ry is jus­ti­fi­ably famous but I love the answer to the Pis­tols’ anti Dolls New York, the Jones & Cook fea­tur­ing, Lon­don Boys, you poor lit­tle pup­pets”. The sense of atti­tude this record exudes is still tan­gi­ble all these years later
  7. The Who -Quadrophe­nia (Track 1973): it’s hard to raise a hand and say which of this band’s albums of its first decade is the stand­out. Leeds, of course, is the defin­ing live album, but I think this edges out Next as their stu­dio peak. The pack­age alone, on the vinyl, is a piece of art, and what is inside, if you play the four sides in order, comes clos­er to defin­ing Town­shend’s elu­sive trib­al youth than any time since the first album. He was still close enough to his roots to have a grasp on what he was writ­ing about and infuse it with the mod ethos and sound­scape that it demand­ed. He would nev­er be this pre­cise again.
  8. Metro Area (Env­i­ron 2002): I snuck this record in, two years after my cut off point. It’s my list and I can do things like that. The album that nailed a whole sub-genre. It didn’t start it (and, indeed, much of this defin­ing album had appeared on 12″ vinyl ear­li­er), but it so obvi­ous­ly was the land­mark release. I hate the term nu-dis­co, but it’s as close as I’m going to get so it will do. Taut flow­ing basslines, sim­ple, decep­tive­ly clin­i­cal, until they grab you, melod­ic keys and a sub­tle seduc­tive­ness make this album one the records that I’ve not been able to file away this decade.
  9. Var­i­ous-Fast Prod­uct (IRS 1979): an Amer­i­can col­lec­tion of the first few sin­gles on Bob Last’s very briefly fan­tas­tic tiny Fast label. The best tracks ever from The Human League, Gang of 4 (the clat­ter­ing­ly angry Armalite Rifle, still their finest moment), The Mekons and oth­ers. Rough and bru­tal, and that’s exact­ly how post-punk records should be. This album inspired me to start a label.
  10. Dr Alim­i­nata­doThe Best Dressed Chick­en in Town (Greensleeves 1980): god how I played this when I first got hold of it. Over and over again. This record just sound­ed so com­plete­ly fucked up, so utter­ly out there, and despite the pas­sage of some 27 years, it still does. Just look at the sleeve. The record sounds as it looks. What I want to know, is did the car actu­al­ly him, as the leg­end goes.
  11. The Mighty Dia­mondsRight Time (Front Line 1976): Vir­gin NZ (or were they still RTC at the time) import­ed the whole Front Line cat­a­logue in 1979 and for many of us it was our first expo­sure to any Jamaican music beyond the Island name stuff (Bob, Toots etc, but not the inter­est­ing things), and what an eye open­er it was. Actu­al­ly that’s not absolute­ly true, I had two tracks from this cour­tesy of the ear­li­er Front Line sam­pler but that was it, noth­ing else, and all that did, in a land where it was impos­si­ble to import records, was frus­trate. Like so many of the Jamaican vocal groups of the era, this had an oth­er­world­ly, almost ethe­re­al qual­i­ty to it, like a fil­tered ver­sion of some­thing from anoth­er time and place. Which is exact­ly what it was.
  12. Robert OwensRhythms in Me (4th & Broad­way 1990): this album, from the tail end of the Chi-town gold­en era of house, is large­ly for­got­ten, but it bought togeth­er two strands of Chica­go House, the vocal genius of Owens, his first record­ings out­side the Fin­gers Inc camp and their sem­i­nal record­ings for Trax, DJ Inter­na­tion­al and Alle­vi­at­ed, and the pro­duc­tion skills of Frankie Knuck­les (with David Morales here­in), god­fa­ther of the genre. And it was a major step for­ward for both par­ties. This album added a sheen of sophis­ti­ca­tion to the pro­to­typ­i­cal Owens vocal style and empha­sised the dark mood­i­ness hint­ed at by ear­li­er anthems. To com­plete this album you real­ly need the Visions 12” mix­es too.
  13. The Bal­lis­tic Broth­ersLon­don Hooli­gan Soul (Junior Boys Own 1995): when I lived in Lon­don in the mid eight­ies I was drawn into the pas­sion­ate addic­tion of the Lon­don soul mafia, scour­ing the shops of Soho and Edg­ware Road for old jazz, funk and soul records arriv­ing week­ly from US ware­hous­es, then off to the Dub Ven­dor in Lad­broke Groove for crack­ly sev­en inch­es from Kingston. This record felt like the sound­track to that era, and indeed it was the young mem­bers of that soul mafia who lat­er in the decade took the Amer­i­can musi­cal rev­o­lu­tion of the mid to late eight­ies around the world, and a decade lat­er made this won­der­ful, warm, and hum­ble album.
  14. Eddie KendricksHe’s a Friend (Tam­la 1979): long out of print but recent­ly avail­able on a lim­it­ed edi­tion triple CD reis­sue, this was a won­der­ful mesh­ing of the for­mer Temp­ta­tions’ ethe­re­al voice with the lush wash­es of Philadel­phia, pro­duced as it was by Nor­man Har­ris and backed by the clas­sic MFSB band. One of those albums that is so damned good, it’s hard to work out why no one knows about it.
  15. Fripp & EnoNo Pussy foot­ing (Island / EG 1974): that this album is so very hard to find in 2007 is an absolute crime. And that this album influ­enced a swathe of young musi­cians, first dis­cov­er­ing the brave new world of syn­the­siz­ers is beyond ques­tion. Much more than most of the Ger­man acts that inspired this record, tracks like Swasti­ka Girls (actu­al­ly there are only two on the album), along with Kraftwerk, pro­vid­ed a rough blue­print applied in garages and school music rooms across the UK and Europe over the next few years. And it still sounds like the future….
  16. SparksKimono My House (Island 1975): the mid sev­en­ties doesn’t real­ly deserve its rock’n’roll rep­u­ta­tion as a musi­cal­ly bar­ren era. Sure the Unit­ed States was – out­side NYC and the odd excep­tion that proved the rule – pret­ty much the musi­cal waste­land it remains today, and the bloat­ed car­cass of prog rock was per­va­sive in the uni­ver­si­ties. But there were dozens of quirky lit­tle acts like this across the rest of the world – well not exact­ly like this. Sparks had to escape the US to get any real trac­tion and they made pop records that sound­ed like no-one else. Fran­tic falset­to sto­ries of angst like This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us. One of them looked like Hitler’s camp twin, and five years lat­er they made elec­tro anthems, which would be huge in the gay clubs, with Gior­gio Moroder.
  17. Todd Rung­drenSome­thing / Any­thing (Bearsville 1971): sprawl­ing, almost inco­her­ent­ly at times then com­ing up for air, at just the right moment, with melod­ic gems like It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Dif­fer­ence, this album works as a whole, best when played from begin­ning to end as one piece. Some­thing / Any­thing is so good you can almost for­give all that cyber hip­pie non­sense lat­er on, but not the fact that he pro­duced Meat­loaf.
  18. John CaleParis 1919 (Reprise 1973): I like the Island Cale albums, espe­cial­ly Fear, and some of his more recent work a lot, but I have a soft spot for my worn old copy of this eccen­tric album from the per­verse Welsh­man. Musi­cal­ly sump­tu­ous, lyri­cal­ly dark, this album is the sort of record that a major label would nev­er release in 2007. It’s an artis­tic state­ment from a mas­ter com­pos­er and musi­cian that exists because it should. Reis­sued in 2006 and then delet­ed almost imme­di­ate­ly for some obscure con­trac­tu­al reason …
  19. John ColtraneLive at the Vil­lage Van­guard (Impulse 1961): the first heavy met­al album. For the meek this is not an easy lis­ten, but it sig­ni­fied the moment when Coltrane veered from being just an incred­i­ble play­er to some­thing much more. With the lights out and the sound up, at 2am, you can lis­ten to this and almost feel that you are watch­ing and feel­ing the heat from Eric Dol­phy’s majes­tic clar­inet and roll with ‘trane on those, intense, extend­ed solos. A total head fuck…..
  20. Scrit­ti Polit­tiSongs to Remem­ber (Rough Trade 1981): Green Gart­side is odd. He’s made only half a dozen albums over a twen­ty eight year career. One, Cupid & Psy­che, was a killer transat­lantic pop album, and the rest were pleas­ant­ly dis­pos­able and rather soul­less. Apart from this, the record that real­ly didn’t belong in 1981 or on Rough Trade and is his one claim to rock’n’roll per­fec­tion. Sound­ing like the record the indie kid made after an evening at a dis­co, you’d swear this was the first E record, pre­dat­ing and pre­dict­ing as it does the likes of The Hap­py Mon­days and Pri­mal Scream at the end of the decade.
  21. The Buz­zcocksAnoth­er Music In a Dif­fer­ent Kitchen (UA 1978): Manchester’s great­est pop band, and pur­vey­ors of one of the finest streams of impec­ca­ble pop sin­gles pro­duced by any­one any­where ever. Fif­teen stone cold killers one after anoth­er, and in the midst of it came this album which offered just a lit­tle bit more. It took the punk exper­i­ment one step fur­ther and was an obvi­ous point­er to the Pete Shelley’s solo work three albums lat­er. Love Bat­tery and, even more so, Mov­ing Away From The Pulse­beat sound like tracks twen­ty years ahead of their time, and even the bang-bang pow­er pop tracks like Fast Cars are nev­er less than compelling.
  22. Moody­mannSilent Intro­duc­tion (Plan­et E 1997): enig­mat­ic, even in his most open moments, Ken­ny Dixon Jr remains both one of America’s great musi­cal secrets, almost unknown out­side elec­tron­ic cir­cles, and a mas­sive influ­ence across the pond in Europe and the UK (try and imag­ine Hen­rik Schwarz’s won­der­ful DJ Kicks mix with­out Kenny’s influ­ence). And com­plete­ly addic­tive – once you buy in you come back again and again (and indeed, find your­self pay­ing sil­ly mon­ey for those rare 12”s). His rhythms, grooves, call them what you will, are often ridicu­lous­ly under­stat­ed in their sub­tly but their abil­i­ty to snare you – as he says: I Can’t Kick This Feel­ing When It Hits
  23. Eugene RecordThe Eugene Record (Warn­er Bros 1976): right­ly famous for all those glo­ri­ous Chi-lites records, this was the first of three, for­got­ten, solo albums for Warn­ers, and is neigh on impos­si­ble to find, as it flopped on release and has nev­er been reis­sued. The two key tracks Lay­ing Beside You, a minor hit, and Over­dose of Joy, revived as a rare groove styled clas­sic in recent years are only the begin­ning of this sweet soul masterpiece.
  24. Split EnzMen­tal Notes (White Cloud 1975): the only Enz album, if push comes down to shove, that real­ly mat­ters. The rest were sim­ply nice but this one, with Judd still in tow, had edge which all the oth­ers sim­ply lacked. The deliv­ery is ama­teur­ish at times and the pro­duc­tion raw (you can tell they want­ed the world but were lim­it­ed by bud­get and tech­nol­o­gy). Although it was record­ed in Mel­bourne, this record breathes Auck­land ’75 and is one of the two must-own AK albums of the decade (the oth­er being the debut Hel­lo Sailor album).
  25. Fran­cis Albert Sina­tra & Anto­nio Car­los Jobim (Reprise 1967): I’m not going to try to talk about the genius of the fifties Sina­tra canon, but by the mid to late six­ties he was regard­ed as an artis­tic spent force, and only a few of his Reprise record­ings do much to con­tra­dict that per­cep­tion. Apart from this, a sub­lime meld­ing of the Jer­sey brat at his most pre­cise and refined and Jobim’s Latin genius. At the time Jobim was rid­ing on a wave in the USA but nei­ther act here suc­cumbs to the temp­ta­tion to over­state, as Sina­tra was by this stage, so prone to do. Perfection….
  26. Wom­ack & Wom­ackLove Wars (Elek­tra 1984): this album was every­where when it came out, it was THE album to own and talk about. But, odd­ly, if drift­ed from the pub­lic con­scious­ness rather quick­ly and for most of the past twen­ty years has been pret­ty much unavail­able. So obvi­ous­ly Wom­ack-ish in it’s grit, this album had many of the rough edges found on broth­er Bobby’s albums, smoothed out some­what. A clas­sic of it’s time with its love­ly inter­twined domes­tic vocal inter­play. My favourite moment is found on Baby, I’m Scared of You when Lin­da wails I Need a Man and hus­band Cecil hollers back I’m Avail­able…. Of course he is.

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