|Gene McDaniels. Over the moon at making the February Playlist.|
1. Billy Fury - "Don't Jump" (1962)
In Tony O'Neill's latest book, the brilliant Black Neon, one of the main characters - a half Haitian, one-armed, murdering, thieving, junkie, black magic practicing, lesbian (it's that kind of book) - states "This is undoubtedly the best rock 'n' roll song about someone thinking of throwing themselves off a cliff ever recorded". Don't argue with the nice lady.
2. Dean Jones - "Women (Ska-Da-La-De-Da)" (1964)
Don't let the word Ska throw you, Dean Jones is a white TV actor and star of the film The Love Bug but somehow cut this storming Latin/popcorn dancefloor filler.
3. Gene McDaniels - "Hang On (Just A Little Bit Longer)" (1965)
Marvellous, although surprisingly not one of McDaniels' big hits. Can only assume Scott Walker/The Walker Brothers didn't hear it or else they'd have been all over it and would've had a smash on their hands.
4. Donald Byrd - "Brother Isaac" (1965)
Byrd's I'm Tryin' To Get Home LP was released under the title Donald Byrd Brass With Voices, for that's what it was. The voices are used rhythmically - there's no actual words, just what I suppose is scat singing. Sounds a terrible idea but works a treat, especially on the opening soul-church jamboree. Should add there are musicians of neither brass nor voice as a stellar line-up including Freddie Roach (organ), Herbie Hancock (piano) and Grant Green (guitar) testifies.
5. Steve Cropper, Albert King and Pops Staples - "Big Bird" (1969)
In May 1969 Stax released something like 27 different albums and I've yet to hear one which isn't great (makes note to collect all 27). On Jammed Together the three guitarists all compliment each other, allowing the listener to clearly identify their distinctive styles.
6. Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy - "Fire (She Need Water)" (1970)
Light In The Attic Records last year released a lovely limited edition orange-vinyl version of the Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy album. Jamaican-Canadian McGhie - Studio One veteran and Jackie Mittoo band mate - warmly blends reggae, soul and funk.
7. Jerry Reed - "500 Miles Away From Home" (1972)
Bobby Bare's 1963 country hit given a more low-down swampy feel by Jerry Reed who's "feeling dirty" apparently.
8. Four Tops - "Are You Man Enough?" (1973)
Spend a day watching Shaft, Shaft's Big Score and Shaft In Africa. This was the used over the opening credits to the final film and demonstrates how even post-Motown the Tops could still deliver. Their LP for Dunhill, Main Street People, is jammed with other equally great tracks - "I Just Can't Get You Out Of My Mind", "It Won't Be The First Time", "Sweet Understanding Love", "Am I My Brother's Keeper" etc. Co-produced by Brian Potter. Pre-Phoenix Nights I guess.
9. The Style Council - "Big Boss Groove" (1984)
After seeing the Style Councillors at the 100 Club on Thursday I've slightly altered my opinion about tribute acts, or at least am prepared to make an exception in this case. Done with meticulous attention to detail I thoroughly enjoyed them. Largely centred around the '83-'85 period it highlighted what a purple patch it was in Paul Weller's career; such a range of styles although with a strong soul influence. The Councillors well chosen set even included covers the Council only did live - The Impressions "Meeting Over Yonder" and Chairmen of the Board's "Hanging On To A Memory" - which was indicative of where songs like "Big Boss Groove" came from; a track I'd clean forgotten about until hearing it played live the other night. "Get on up."
10. Hookworms - "Radio Tokyo" (2014)
The rocking organ intro sounds like the greatest few seconds the Inspiral Carpets never made before the pained screeching vocals take it some place else. Some scary, noisy, but exciting place.