Sunday, 21 August 2011


Current favourites in Monkey Mansions.

1. Billie Holiday – “Gloomy Sunday” (1941)
A declaration to commit suicide would take the shine off anyone’s weekend.

2. Etta James – “Tough Lover” (1956)
As if she hadn’t lived an incredible enough life already, Etta seemingly managed to rise from the dead this month. A false report of her death saw obituaries and RIP messages swamp the internet. She’s tough and will go when she’s ready, not when any damn fool tells her.

3. Ann Cole – “I’ve Got Nothing Working Now” (1957)
Hands up who thought “I’ve Got My Mojo Working” was by Muddy Waters? I did, but no, Muddy heard Cole perform the song and then wrote his version around it. This follow-up, although not as good, stuck to the formula.

4. Don Gibson – “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles” (1959)
The excellent new Gibson compilation in the Complete Country series is titled Lonesome Singer Songwriter With Rockabilly Flair. What it lacks in snappiness it makes up for in accuracy.

5. Guitar Crusher – “The Monkey” (1962)
There are never enough monkey songs. This exuberant swinger shows why.

6. Kenny Lynch – “Movin’ Away” (1967)
You bet. Orchestra conducted by Johnny Harris. No idea who Johnny was but I love his arrangement.

7. James Brown – “Why Did You Take Your Love Away From Me” (1968)
James Brown, like Bob Dylan, is a one-man genre but that doesn’t stop him bullishly shouting and shimmying into northern soul territory.

8. The Slickers – “Johnny Too Bad” (1970)
The still relevant sounding early reggae classic featured in The Harder They Come.

9. Pentangle – “So Clear” (1971)
I usually give a wide-berth to the Aran sweater folk brigade but in a moment of self-flagellation I bought Pentangle’s Reflection. When Jacqui McShee concentrates on stirring her cauldron and leaves the vocals to others it’s not entirely dreadful.

10. Nirvana – “Molly’s Lips” (1991)
Easy to forget that once upon a time Nirvana could bash out two minute pop nugget covers just for fun. Yes, fun.

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