Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Summer's Comin'! A Springtime Playlist

I wanted to share this CD compilation that my friend Geoff gave me for my birthday. It's called Summer's Comin'! You won't hear most of it on 6 Music. These are my sleeve notes:

1. The Sun Has Got His Hat On by Kidzone. Reminds me of long, multiple-stop journeys in the Volvo when the kids were little and making ecosystems out of raisins, crisps and fruit juice in the lining of their car seats. It was all cassette back then and Shepherd's Bush was mainly fields. Opens with an excellent sample of a wren in full song.

2. Hawaii 5-0 by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. One of the great TV themes of all time. Don't remember much about the show but those pumping horns and pounding drums over the kayaking lunatics in the titles are tremendous.

3. Summertime by Sarah Vaughn. Porky and Bess, innit. Gershwin. All that. A song about summer that sounds like mid-winter. Reminds of the night at the Scarisbrick Hotel in the mid-70s when my Aunty Marjorie astonished a bar full of late-night drinkers by bursting into her own impromptu, note-perfect version. She should have been in Covent Garden not Southport.

4. Shine On by The House of Love. Loved this album when it came out in 1990. Reminds me of writing music reviews at the Telegraph & Argus in Bradford. An astonishing amount of vinyl arrived each week and sorting the wheat from the chaff became an overwhelming ordeal. That's when we got a cat to help. Cleo had two great ears and a lovely set of whiskers. We miss her.

5. Lovely Day by Bill Withers. Fact: Bill can hold a note longer than the total number of daylight hours on June 21st.

6. Midsummer Night by The Time & Space Machine. New one to me, this. A low-key mutter about everything being all that I want and all that I need over music straight from the verses of Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds. More golden leaves than green.

7. Long Hot Summer Days by Sara Watkins. Fiddlededee, why don't you. Many a weary pilgrim has set down his spotted handkerchief next to a midsummer bonfire and gazed at the stars with a song like this in his cider-addled head. What the Radio 2 Folk Awards were invented for.

8. Raining In My Heart by Buddy Holly. People used to say I looked like Buddy Holly - big quiff, glasses. It caused an incident at a wedding once when an aunty of the bride insisted on kissing me because it would be like snogging Buddy. The uncle of the bride didn't seem that convinced of the resemblance.

9. Dream Baby Dream by Bruce Springsteen. Wonderfully elegiac plea to a cheated lover building beautifully to a finale of swooning strings. The Boss unplugged.

10. The Clearing by David Crosby. Dischordant 70s-style acoustic guitar thumper that will be good when he finishes it. Hints of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac in the second half, conjuring images of James Hunt and Niki Lauda catching fire in speeding cigarette adverts.

11. Nature Springs by The Good The Bad and The Queen. All edge of the rim drums and percussion backing a slow tempo Damon Albarn vocal performance that can set the unwary listener strangely on edge. Whistling on songs always reminds me of Games Without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel. Whistling tunes and doing something mean in the jungle. Classic.

12. Sao Paulo by Morcheeba. Perfect soundtrack to a sunny afternoon in a hammock with a bottle of Goose Island IPA and half a dozen oysters. Imagine Groove Armada's At The River mashed up with Sade's Diamond Life and it's not nearly as awful as that sounds.

13. How Deep Is Your Love by the Bee Gees. Ah - Cromer Pier, Norfolk, August 2013. The Magic of the Bee Gees playing live. The sea under our seats at the end of the pier, the summer breeze rippling through the stick-on beards and trilby hats. Because we're living in a world of fools, oh yes.

14. Wakin' On A Pretty Day by Kurt Vile. A lovely, lazy croon over acoustic guitars and flickering drums, complete with an old school guitar solo for a middle eight. Sounds like Tennessee with the top down, the old man's beard threading through the trees, alligators on the side of the highway, our old friend Jack Daniels along for the ride.

15. Mind How You Go by Keane. The kind of big-hearted piano ballad that puts Keane right up there with giants of the field like Gilbert O'Sullivan and Ron Sexsmith. Be gracious with your life - tearjerking carpe diem advice to a child, a friend, a lover, the whole human race. The more we rush about the less we do. Excellent birthday food for thought for people in their prime.

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