The casual playlist that worked for me today….

Blam Blam BlamThe Bystanders
A lovely Mark Bell song from the Blams’ only full album, Luxury Length. I love Mark’s glistening guitar and the loping soft funk groove that so deserves to be sampled. Most of the focus on the Blams is, now, placed upon the undeniable talents of Don McGlashan, often overlooking Mark’s work. Blam Blam Blam was perhaps the most perfect and equal trio in New Zealand’s pop past.

John CaleAntarctica Starts Here
This is so slight you almost miss it tucked away at the end of Paris, 1919, an album which stands as Cale’s finest post-Velvets moment. Produced by Chris Thomas, this rather forlorn paean to lost fame, with an almost inaudible whispered vocal, is an appropriate end to what is both a lovely and rather moving long player that once meant a great deal to me.

signs Joey RamoneWhat A Wonderful World
Yit’s its cheesy as hell, but I shed a quiet tear every time I think of poor Joey. His life didn’t seem to be either happy nor charmed, and then it, to top it off, he died so very young – whilst watching all those who claim him as an influence coining it. I guess it wasn’t such a wonderful world for Joey.

The GordonsThe Coalminer’s Song
The Gordons were NZ’s first rave act. Whilst the rest of the world didn’t get hardcore wall of sound nosebleed rave until the late eighties, down in lil’ NZ we had the Gordons from 1980 onwards. Whilst they may not have sounded like a rave act in the latter sense, their intent was the same, and they coupled that with an almost Beatlesque melodic charm. This, from their first EP, pre-Flying Nun, was our pre-going out choon for much of 81 and 82.

Thom YorkeCymbal Rush (The Field Late Night Essen Und Trinken Remix)
I’m not a Radiohead fan, I must be honest (not since they stopped doing the noisy stuff far too long ago and turned into meandering self-absorbed prog), but I did rather like the Thom Yorke solo release from 2006. More to the point, I liked what he did with it – in retrospect, it was a pointer to what R/H were to do last October. This, from a single, is a killer re-rub courtesy of The Field (whose own album last year was rather good) and is probably a better shot at what Radiohead have been trying to achieve in the past decade than anything R/H have done themselves. Which must make this both satisfying and frustrating for Thom, no?

hercules Hercules & Love AffairBlind (Frankie Knuckles Mix)
Without wanting to seem overly trend conscious, I’m waiting with some anticipation  for the album from these guys. I bought the single before this and loved it. And then downloaded this from an mp3 blog. I will buy the album because I like it. Isn’t that how it works? It’s like radio. And isn’t that what the paranoid home taping, home burning, downloading is killing our music crew miss? This Knuckles mix is stunning.

PinchAirlock
The shadow of old school Bristol bass-meisters, Smith & Mighty hangs over this. The Pinch album was another of 2007’s moments for me.

Elvis CostelloAlmost Blue
Just to confuse matters, not from the EC album kwerkof the same name but, perhaps, my favourite Costello album produced by Geoff Emerick, Imperial Bedroom. There is a killer live take of this from the fast fading Chet Baker (Elvis wrote it for Chet), which I like to play when I’m morose, but not today. Elvis’s soft piano-led ballad is fine.

KraftwerkThe Model
The live version from the Minimum-Maximum double from 2005. The studio version of this is what it is but I love this take which adds, bizarrely enough, an almost human funk to it. On this album, they play the songs we all know, love and were influenced by as if they were a touring rock band, complete with mistakes and missed words. They almost, forgive me, rock. Quite something…

Aretha FranklinIt Was You
For the past two months I’ve been 51BTy6d4ZUL._AA240_besotted with the recent double album of Aretha outtakes, Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul (surely a shorter title was available???). This was the unreleased stuff, for gods sake! Listen to the track I’ve sampled above, and then buy the album. The voice, the voice, the voice –and the space … she may have had a patchy post-Atlantic career, but listen to this stuff: there was a time when Aretha wrote the book.

Ok that’ll do.