The voice of the summer was probably Marianne Faithful. I picked up her albums Vagabond Ways(1999) and Kissin’ Time (2002) in a secondhand record shop a few months back. One of Faithful’s strengths as an artist is her ability to choose fantastic people to collaborate with. Her albums are so well produced and, despite the wide-ranging material and song styles, retain a distinctive sense of identity. Vagabond Ways is sort of a cabaret album produced by Daniel Lanois. It features her version of Tower of Song which is one of my favourite Leonard Cohen covers. My other favourite track on there is ‘File it under fun from the past‘ which is so bitter, melancholy and defiant. Kissin’ Time is perhaps a little more edgy, with songs produced by Beck, Jarvis Cocker and Billy Corgan.
Also in nostalgia, I picked up Giant Sand’s Selections (1990 – 2000) on CD. I was really into this alt country/rock band a few years ago and was pleased to find that the music still holds up for me. The songs shuffle along in a ramshackle way, seeming to threaten to collapse at any moment, but the chaos is an illusion. My favourite tracks are ‘The Inner Flame(“Love comes in a room, Love blows out the walls”) and the twisted ballad, ‘Sand’. Feel that Arizona desert.
Bob Dylan’s Bringing it all Back Home (1965) was a bit of a revelation and I’m not sure I’d ever listened to it all the way through. I particularly like ‘Love Minus Zero’ and ‘Gates of Eden’, plus it contains one of my all-time favourite Dylan songs, ‘It’s all over now, baby blue’.
I also listened to Beggars Banquet (1968) by the Rolling Stones. Any album that opens with the epic ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is pretty confident in itself. This album revels in its own evil, but the moment when the chorus enters on Salt of the Earth is sublime.
A season can’t go by without Leonard Cohen and this summer it was back to the beginning with Songs of Leonard Cohen(1967). I love everything on this album. ‘The Stranger Song‘ is my favourite track, but the magic moment for me is always the screaming at the end of ‘One of us cannot be wrong’. Bad break up then?
I also listened to a bit of soul and motown. There’s not much I can say about Otis Redding’s, The Dock of the Bay: The Definitive Collection – amazing voice, hooks, use of brass, production, and it’s probably worth getting a record player just to hear it on vinyl. The opening cry on ‘A change is gonna come‘ is spine-chilling.
Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark. The video never fails to cheer me up.
Cocteau Twins, Lorelei – weirdly, I’ve never listened to The Cocteau Twins although I love other bands from the same label
Siouxsie and Banshees, One Mile Below
Bat for Lashes, Trophy
Uh Huh Her, Explode and Common Reaction
Scott Walker’s The Seventh Seal (about the Bergman movie of the same name) is one of the most bizarre and over-the-top songs I’ve ever heard.