A Playlist Like No Other #1
Songs You Have Probably Never Heard (Mostly)
A few years ago I started a list of songs that were , in my opinion , #LikeNoOther , on my Seven Days In blog. These are eight songs for that list , and there will be a lot more in future.
Rather thank include all the songs I have included them on a YouTube playlist here
So here they are:
Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches
I can't remember when I first heard this, but I do remember wondering what the hell was going on. "Frontier Psychiatrist" from the album "Since I Left You" by The Avalanches takes the listener into a vaguely comedic "Twin Peaks" universe mixing dialogue with samples to produce an amazing piece. I have recognized snippets from it in source songs and it is a real (and pleasant) listening experience.
When the album came out I think there were court cases about the sampling but eventually they gave up and just let The Avalanches have it. All their videos and songs are worth visiting and this is probably the most famous and recognizable.
In 2016 they followed up with "Wildflower" , more similar brilliant cut and paste dance pieces with excellent videos and the lead single was "Frankie Sinatra" which I will also include here, because The Avalanches are truly #LikeNoOther and absolute great fun, and the title of their second album is the same as the name of Wildflower which was my favourite Art/ Eating space in Tyneside.
David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes
Once I said I was going to post about songs that basically, to me , were like nothing I'd heard before. I was trying to think of a tag or description and the phrase #LikeNoOther seems appropriate. You may disagree with me, or you may agree. A lot of these songs have become part of the mainstream, often because they were that good, despite challenging the expected musical borders.
This may seem incredibly obvious, but at the time I thought what the hell , well actually it was a bit stronger than that. David Bowie showing his Lindsay Kemp influence dressed as a clown, cutting between his padded cell and a desolate beach with self referential nods to previous songs, the video is as important as the song, the two being inseparable in my mind.
The song structure does have verses and choruses but still sound alien while retaining pop sensibilities making it accessible to the music buying public. Again this was Bowie showing what could be done cutting and pasting the music back together and producing a timeless masterpiece, giving us Ashes To Ashes.
While this is not my favourite Bowie song, for me it is probably his most important song in his musical canon, I still love it and still love the video, and love the album from which it came.
Can you think of any song prior to Ashes To Ashes that has a similar form or feel?
I don't know whether I have made you think or bored you with this, but there will be more to follow after this, but a Bowie song is always a great starting point.
Painted Chariot - Incredible String Band
I must have first heard this when it came out, I'm not sure if it was a single or I heard it on John Peel, but t has a very Celtic Pagan feel to it , like something that slipped away from the soundtrack of The Wicker Man. It starts out as rickety solid folk before descending to an almost hymnal finale. I really haven't heard anything like it before or since.
Isobel - Bjork
All Bjork's music us out of this world , and I chose this for the amazing Michael Gondry video and the lush Eumir Deodato orchestration.
Peek A Boo - Siouxsie and The Banshees
Siouxsie And The Banshees were never your average sounding Rock, Goth or Punk band and their canon is littered with some amazing out there sounds. The only standard instrument used in Peek-A-Boo barring Siouxsie's voice is the dragging bass and that is not played like any that I have heard before or since, then the almost military drum beat and accordion / melodeon driven complex riff sounding like something gestated from Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper).
Another you can't dance to, well not any normal dance, but there are no guitars or pop sensibilities here, in an almost nightmare sequence that implies horrors lurking at the edge of our sensibilities although you feel safe because you know Siouxsie of old. It is similar to Sparks' This Town in the "can't dance" stakes although this does explore a much stranger furrow.
The video is wonderful and this still sounds as fresh today as when it was first unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.
Kitchen Sink by Nadine Shah
Nadine Shah released an album "Kitchen Sink" (though just a thought Kitschen Sink would be a great album or book title) doesn't let up.
Her music is not exactly danceable , but sounds like it doesn't conform to any norm. It has a highly percussive framework which she and her band use to build the songs, and you finish everyone thinking what the hell was that, I need to listen again.
Nadine , as far as I am concerned, falls in the same sprawling universe as all the other artists who have appeared in this series, but my immediate touchpoints are:
Siouxsie Sue and The Banshees
The Incredible String Band
There is a hell of a lot of original music around and it always amazes me that a combination of 12 notes can continually be moulded to give us something new and original. Nadine Shah continues to do that on every song her and her band produces.
Watch and listen to the new single and your musical listening horizons will expand.
I've seen Nadine Shah twice and was very impressed both times. Her music is as I've described and she has a very engaging stage personality as well so well worth going to see her, here are a couple of my reviews with some more video.
Bitches Brew - Miles Davis
I thought I would listen to "The Essential Miles Davis" , I didn't last long ( too jazz club / lounge jazz) and then I switched to "Bitches Brew", which I was sure I had enjoyed when I listened in the past.
I was not wrong.
While a lot of this sounds like free jazz improvisations it's like wandering in a swirling whirlpool of sound, the first piece "Pharoah's Dance" (written by Joe Zawinul of Weather Report) clocking in at over twenty minutes although because you are so lost in the sound it is over before you know it. You cannot dance to this, and most people would probably switch off after a minute or two, but I find it absorbing and while hardly being a jazz aficionado (prefer rockier type stuff as opposed to purist stuff and I tend to hate "smooth", "lounge2 or jazz club type stuff.
The title track is even better though mainly anchored on a seven note bass motif which for the most part uses only three actual notes, though the bassist does vary this after about twenty minutes while still maintaining the rhythm. "Bitches Brew" clocks in at almost half an hour but again for me it seems to fly by.
"Spanish Key" and "John McLaughlin" (I assume named after the Yorkshire Jazz guitarist who plays on the album) "MIles Runs The Voodoo Down" and "Sanctuary" (a Wayne Shorter or Weather Report piece) comprise the second vinyl disc or the original release and while lacking the full intensity of the first two sides is just more excellent quality.
Even though you may not like jazz or challenging music this is something you should try at least once. It is exceptional.
Brando - Scott Walker and Sunn O)))
Scott Walker may only mean being one of The Walker Brothers to you with songs such as "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" and "No Regrets", but when he left he ploughed and interesting solo furrow, covering Jacques Brel (as did Bowie) and displaying a wry sense of humor on the excellent over the top "Jacqui".
As he's aged, his mind and artistry has gone further and further out from the mainstream, with album titles such as "Bish Bosch" and "Soused", which sound inconsequential, but if you are willing to give them the time, they will pay you back in spades. If you put them on at a party, they will probably empty your house fairly rapidly, but anyone who stays may someone worth investing your time in.
"Soused" was made with noise/drone giants Sunn O))) , and when I first heard "Brando" my jaw dropped. How could you describe this, a voice in the realms of musicals and opera backed by slabs of stabbing sound that keeps up for close on nine minutes. No one I've spoken to can describe it, but they are definitely affected by it.
It deserves to be played loud, it is monstrous and glorious, and three years on it has lost none of it's power.
I am glad we have YouTube so I can share these things with you.
Take a listen when you have half an hour to spare. It will make you think