This month I have mostly been listening to…
1. Lucille Bogan – “Till The Cows Come Home” (1932)
Sexually explicit songs have been around since time began but to hear the language used on recordings by Lucille Bogan in the 20s and 30s still comes as a shock to modern ears. Check out her “Shave Me Dry” too, just not in front of the kids.
2. The Brigands – “(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man” (1966)
Snarling vocals and lyrics, a nifty nagging guitar riff and the world’s biggest tambourine lay the foundations for The Brigands’ only 45, a well-produced garage punker straight outta New York City for Epic Records before they mutated into the Third Rail the following year.
3. The Garden State Choir – “Who’s Over Yonder” (1967)
By jingo, The Garden State Choir were in one heck of a hurry to check over yonder for the Lord. Slow down brothers and sisters, soldiers of the cross, He’ll still be there when your time comes.
4. Harper & Rowe – “The Dweller” (1968)
Or, as some wag on-line remarked when this was doing the rounds recently, “The P.Weller”. Remarkably Style Councilesque, “With Everything To Lose”/”Have You Ever Had It Blue?” in particular springing to mind. Surely a coincidence...
5. The Isley Brothers – “Sweet Seasons” (1973)
The Isleys cut three Carole King tunes on Brother, Brother, Brother; this summer breezey one is a joy.
6. The Staple Singers – “Trippin’ On Your Love” (1981)
Back in the late 80s a then-current Arthur Miles version of this filtered its way into “our” clubs. I distinctly remember it played regularly at a Northern Soul do at Drummonds by King’s Cross (Chuck Jackson’s “All Over The World” spun next to it). It divided opinion but, trying to be a progressive thinker and embracing modern soul at the time, I loved it. Had no idea it was originally by the Staples. Listening now, Arthur’s version is still pretty good but the Staples one is sublime. Sing along with Mavis to that intro: “I don’t need no speed or weed…”
7. Paikan & The Mighty Mocambos – “Ballad of the Bombay Sapphires” (2010)
Thirsty work being this goddam cool.
8. Big Boss Man – “Aardvark” (2014)
The new Big Boss Man album, Last Man on Earth, sees the band continue to chance their arm away from the safety of their well-established funky soul-jazz instrumentals by incorporating elements of folk and psych rock to the mix plus a few more vocal tracks. As laudable as that is, and they remind me of Mother Earth in that mode, the highlight of Last Man on Earth is the single “Aardvark”; with swinging Hammond, punchy horns, bongo groove and soul claps it’s Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames at the Flamingo revisited.
9. Martin Carr – “The Santa Fe Skyway” (2014)
The Boo Radleys were a bit hit or miss but this sunny lead track from Carr’s new The Breaks album definitely falls in the former category. The “Shaft”-style outro came as a surprise (although it won’t now to you, sorry).
10. The Oxbow Lake Band – “Mr. Strange” (2014)
Great opener to their Boy Angus EP, Aberdeenshire’s The Oxbow Lake Band throw everything but the kitchen sink into this fiery floorshaker. Early Dexys horns, some wicked flute, Hammond solos turned up to eleven, and a fag-throated vocalist who sounds a ringer for Chris Dean of the Redskins, who would’ve loved a track like this for themselves. Keep on keeping on.