VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S favourite records of all time.
Start the FIRST VIDEO in the playlist. or choose one from below.
The Rolling Stones were arguably the best British band to appropriate blues into popular music during the r&b boom of the early to mid 60's.
This was a demo for Otis Redding complete with Keith playing fuzztone guitar to illustrate what the horns should play, indeed Redding did record a splendid version but this was released by Andrew Loog Oldham their manager without their go ahead, a decision Keith Richards conceded was the right one.
Like all great popular music it has a special feel which is hard to articulate, so listening to this timeless classic is the only way to fully appreciate how outstanding it is.
Baked beans. HP Sauce. Cups of tea with the vicar. These things, among the best England has to offer, cannot compete with this sublime uptown slice of Tamla Motown.
Made in the turbulent musical heat of 1966, with some of the world's finest musicians, it's outro suggest, if not embodies, the beyond. Some may feel it to be sacred.
BABY DON'T YOU DO IT
If you put this on every time you want to eat something fattening, the emotional void which sparks such stirrings will be filled as this choppy harpsichord tinkling obscurity seeps into the soul like golden syrup.
Poor Billy's records were not released at the time but this, and his exceptional Would You Believe album flew the flag for British music as well as those who wore the mantle of fame, including The Small Faces who played on Billy's lush psychedelic pop. Great songwriter too, most highly recommended.
LONDON SOCIAL DEGREE
Apparently Buddy's bespectacled, bookish appearance belied a certain fact about him, which could have been of interest to ladies, and some men. Little Richard claimed to have seen it, and apparently it was truly enormous.
Yes, his songwriting talent, uncompromising rockabilly performances, and pop smart 45s were widely recognised. It is hard to imagine The Beatles existing without Buddy's blueprint, indeed he is revered as a genius. Over 60 years after his death his music lives, more relevant than ever in the wasteland of 2020's music.
Bigger than a Cadillac.
IT'S SO EASY
The Killer, still alive at the time of writing, was almost killed himself when a vat of boiling oranges exploded on the family farm', drenching poor Jerry Lee in boiling pulp. Determined not to be held back, he started playing boogie woogie at Bible college and was thrown into the arms of Sam Phillips at Sun records, who recorded this seminal rocker. Cash was there, Elvis was there, Carl Perkins was there. Rock & roll was born and remains the most exciting and potent, liberating force in popular music.
GREAT BALLS OF FIRE
As was typical of British 70's pop, they wore the worst clothes but had the best tune, covered in America by another artist according to my friend David Bash, (metal) guru of powerpop.
Why should we bother about a record like this now? Well, because it's better than anything else around at the time of writing. It embodies the timeless musical values of melody lyric and rhythm in a most pleasing fashion.
As of 2021 popular music is more or less dead. We can listen to a great pop record like this, or Suspicious Minds, or not bother listening to music at all. What is put before us now is seldom worthy of consideration.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
Tamla Motown's tried and trusted formula was wearing thin by about 1967, due to repetition. It was time for the label’s sound to move on. Thankfully producer extraordinaire Norman Whitfield came to the rescue with his psychedelic production twists, undoubtedly inspired in part by Sly and his tremendous virtually peerless band The Family Stone.
This 45 sounds as if it was recorded on the cusp of the Tamla revolution in sound, after which music was so high you couldn’t get over it...
TAKE ME IN YOUR ARMS AND LOVE ME
Still considered cool in America, one band it was not ok to like in 1970's Britain was The Bay City Rollers. All sorts of people with beards, warts and long hair, some of them men, dictated that the Rollers were crass, a shame and error of judgement as actually they had better haircuts, and wore better shoes. Platform boots are infinitely preferable to flip flops, and who would want to kiss someone with homemade yoghurt in their beards. Evidently someone did, or we wouldn't have all the f***tards running all over the place that we today have, attempting to control every aspect of our lives. They were conceived to the sound of quadrophonic prog, or even more ignominiously 80's Phil Collins, but not to sublime pop masterpieces like Summerlove Sensation.
Fronted by Les McKeown, the band's early singles were undoubtedly bolstered by the best session players, among them VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE favourite drummer Clem Cattini, and guitar genius Joe Moretti who's son confirmed his father's involvement. Songwriting and production were ALSO taken care of also by the best in the business, making the Rollers at least initially a manufactured product. That said, Les has a voice as appealing as David Cassady, and far more appealing than any crusty denim or satin clad rocker of the time. He said the Rollers were not cool, which is bollocks and like if Davy Jones had said the same about the Monkees. With records as good as this, who cares who played on them.
An absolute top VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE favourite, this pop soul gem contains the power to inform the most sceptical of souls that popular music has power. The power to transfigure the spirit, which is the main reason it is worthy of academic, intellectual attention.
We need know nothing about the Flirtations, or why they were on 60's progressive label Deram, to be persuaded, enticed and overwhelmed by this tremendous record.
NOTHING BUT A HEARTACHE
She didn't sing on the record, so this is a youtube only job from the JD show I believe. Again, a piece of transcendent brilliance. Two great singers, one fantastic song, what's to lose. Denver's life ended in an aeroplane he was flying, Cass Elliot was reported to, rather implausibly, have choked on a sandwich in a London flat. Whatever, their brief moment together was an alchemy to rival that of Burt Bacharach with Dusty Springfield singing The Look Of Love. It's that good.
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
Around 1980, a new British breed of metalers, turbo charged by punk, stormed the British pop charts and Top Of The Pops studios. Misfits in the pop charts as they were known were often welcome, particularly when they were making better records than more or less everyone else.
Here JP conjure a majestic melody with a musical backdrop reminiscent of the metal factory clatter of Rob Halford's working background in the UK's Black Country. A heavy thud in other words. The Stooges did a similar thing in Detroit, to equally good effect. This was not the music of spandex trousers and dodgy perms, it was music of tremendous power, completely lacking pretension. It was pop because it was good. It reflected true youth culture. This was not music for Peacocks in shady nightclubs, it was music for tearing up the motorway on your motorbike on, and I know which I’d sooner be doing.
TAKE ON THE WORLD
A delicate acoustic Keith ballad with Mick words from their patchy but sometimes brilliant '67 LP Between The Buttons.
Accordion colours this VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE all time favourite dandy anthem.
Again, if you want to leave the planet for 3 minutes, here's the pill. turn it up loud and bye bye mad, cruel world. A piece of genius, Roger McGuinn's influence is apparent in the intro motif, McCartney is said to have played lead guitar as well as bass on this. It is one of their most enduring records and defined the zeitgeist, while indicating to other bands and artists just what was required to be in the top league.
TICKET TO RIDE
America's pop landscape was changed immediately and irrevocably by the so called British invasion. When is an invasion not a war? There was no war, merely an ongoing cross pollination of musical joy. Britain, who had imbibed rhythm and blues from Elvis Presley and all the rock and roll legends, sent it back with bands like The Beatles. The Rolling Stones and The Animals in particular, and Van Morrison's Them influenced a particular genre of American pop known as garage. One of the best garage bands was The Seeds, whose raw, unsanitised sound ascended the charts with an all important hit single, Pushing Too Hard. With a lyric capturing universal sentiment, the record remains popular with fans of garage psychedelia who still dance to it, in haunted mysterious clubs where anything could and probably does happen. Sky, an inveterate dandy of the scene, continued to play with his authentic and passionate later Seeds lineup until his passing on the same day as Michael Jackson. He hated Doctors. I know how he felt.
PUSHING TOO HARD
A bubblegum pop act and single, roughly on par with the attractive Partridge Family sound of the era. Turn up the music centre and watch the red Polydor label spin, a splendid time is guaranteed for all when listening to a record like this, which was more than a bit of fluff tacked on to a marketing strategy, which is about all most popular music is as of 2021.
This record steals shamelessly from The 4 Seasons, and lacks their robustness, rather resembling a Eurovision song contest entry. Come to think of it, it probably WAS a eurovision entry. It's pleasing, lilting melody, and barnstorming chorus give it the appeal of Angel Delight, a yummy junk food snack popular at the time. Like that desert, it is an instant, disposable pleasure, and holds a very special place in my heart because it annoys hippies, music snobs, and social workers.
BEG STEAL OR BORROW
BILLY was just a lad up on the high tide of 60's mysticism, destined to become a disciple of some old guru or other. Still, at least he is still alive. His LP WOULD YOU BELIEVE was a tremendous psychedelic pop production, drugs without the drugs yes really, a showcase for a truly inspiring songwriting talent, and crucially was recorded at just that point where the 60's was at white heat. The Small Faces were around and about, and performed on Billy's unreleased masterpiece, along with stablemate PP Arnold. Billy had hold of The Stones guitars, and was part of Andrew Loog Oldham's Industry Of Human Happiness, namely the Immediate label. The title track of the LP is a delectable chocolate from a box of equally succulent delights. Sadly the album did not see the light of day when it was recorded, and many years later Billy had to ring around independent record shops asking if they'd take a CD of his presumably self financed release. At least one record shop owner VGM knew said "THE Billy Nicholls?" when he called them.
WOULD YOU BELIEVE
One of the best recordings of the whole era. In VGM's opinion their best record, an exciting aural skyscraper gaze upwards, a thrill. Tremendous record.
HUNDRED MILE HIGH CITY
Suede were slightly pre Britpop, and seem to have had aesthetic pretensions separating them, at least in their own estimation from the Britpop throng. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a band with less in common with Oasis, and certainly Suede's Brett Anderson had no time for Blur pinup Damon Albarn, with whom he shared a young lady.
Anderson constantly played with the idea of bisexuality, hinting at androgyny with his neo glam posturing. Suede were a notable band, described at the time, accurately in VGM's opinion, as the best new band in Britain. It was art student music, but with power and directness, rooted in 70's glam, particularly BOWIE. A string of singles excitingly ploughed the vein, until guitarist Bernard Butler, for reasons unknown, had had enough. They made some good records after his departure and are recording again, but this track is an early single released in their youth and the white heat of early starman, I mean stardom.
Latterly a controversialist, always a bloody maddening controversialist intent on causing public disorder, VGM are already on record as not being particularly interested in his public pronouncements. However, it would be folly to deny the resonance his best songs had and continue to have, and unfair to deny his status as a British lyricist matched only by one other.
Suedehead is of course a homoerotic title, the record itself the first solo single after the collapse of best British band ever The SMITHS. Marr's departure would always be difficult to compensate for, whatever style of music or producer Morrissey turned to. He came closest perhaps with the Byrdsian guitar played here by producer Stephen Street. Complimented by an excellent, atmospheric video made in and around the birthplace of hero and fantasy object James Dean, the single has a charisma and appeal which have not dated.
VGM were proud and pleased to recently receive a message from Maureen Tucker, the VU's unique drummer who was more interesting in every way than everyone else ever born on earth. What could be more fascinating than her cool image and cool, cool gang that she ran with back in '66 NYC. It is the hardness, the directness, which continues to inspire interest, while other more insipid musical fare of the period has slipped by the wayside. Actually Sunday Morning does resemble some of the flower power folk rock/pop of the time, with it's tinkling xylophone and disembodied vocal. It is a lofi recording from their first LP, so splendid an album, so indispensable that VGM would be heard pressed to find praises sufficient to lavish upon it. The song is LOU REED at his finest, and he of course is regarded as one of America's finest writers.
VGM know nothing of Clout other than that they were an all female South African band, who made at least one great record, which is this. A masterclass in conventional songwriting, the record has a thrill on the chorus. It is a tidy 45, released at a time when popular music was hardly at it's peak, and is listed because it is a VGM all time favourite. That is why all these records are chosen.
Rockabilly, apart from an occasional track, was a relatively late VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE discovery. This record is perfect and is joy, raunchy, full of human feeling like all great popular music. Taking that feeling away, by messing around on a computer to perfect the natural flaws musicians express in their playing, is a huge mistake which made, say, Kasabian sound soulless. The players here were tight and didn't need tweaking, rockabilly is too big a phenomenon to address here but this is top notch rockabilly and a great starting point for those wishing to explore the genre further.
BOTTLE TO THE BABY
A more complete pop it would be hard to find the that of ABBA, who boasted 2 attractive, talented female singers, and 2 ugly bearded geniuses thundering away like Rachmaninov on Steinway pianos. Bleaker songs of pain and relationship breakdown would be hard to imagine, yet it is probably these which demonstrated the band's craft at it's finest. SOS is in a similar vein. All their records sold in vast amounts, because they were the best. Young adults could relate to them as people, they were plausible. As always years ago, songwriting quality and good singing and playing, imaginative arrangements and a talented producer were the ingredients which made music sell. That and sex appeal. Knowing Me Knowing You was very much a comedown record, chillier than a Swedish winter, bleaker than a snowstorm. It is despair as art, which most people can relate to beyond their early 20's. And some years earlier x
KNOWING ME KNOWING YOU
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE fell in love with the 40's girl group sound of The Beverly Sisters after buying a 78 rpm record of theirs from a charity shop, and blasting it out on a vintage radiogram. It was love! It still is !! This is a funny, witty, sharp lyric written for a man to sing and sounds even better sung by the streetwise Bevs who apparently came from poverty hellhole Bethnal Green in London, home of THE KRAYS (Valance Road!!) The record has the mid tempo groove so loved by VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE the swing is the thing and this is cooler than lollipops and ice cream sodas, milkshakes and tail finned cars...and Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's blood curdling horror The Birds. OK, I lied. NOTHING ON EARTH is cooler than Tippi Headron in The Birds, but The Bevs are a totally underrated, and periodically fantastic singles group who have little critical track record outside pure, and retrospective showbiz circles. Let this be the start of a reappraisal. It's so great!
IT'S ILLEGAL IT'S IMMORAL OR IT MAKES YOU FAT
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE BELIEVE music has power. That it can revolutionise someone's life. This punk depth charge is right to do just that. Open the windows and blow the cobwebs out with this, a great record by a great band.
Music is supposed to be exciting, popular music any rate. As of 2021 it has, frankly, committed suicide which is why it is a good idea to look back, back, unearth the gems. Another Gen X thrill, KR borrows shamelessly from Bo Diddley, but the band had their own sound and image. Billy Idol a great frontman, Tony James an unfashionably good musician. Punk was supposed to be egalitarian, a space for those who stood little chance, which is all well and good. In fact, many of the most exciting records of the era were made by session standard players.
Always up to their necks in mysticism, this band and VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE had an important friend in common. But the past is the past and better buried. A sometimes hard rocking neo psychedelic group, strongly influenced by Deep Purple keyboard and guitar wise, their producer knew how to make those elements shine. They had an excellent bass player. They were probably the best band in Britain at the time, but were persecuted for having, supposedly, silver spoons in their mouths. In other words, they were punished for being, through no fault or choice of their own, privileged. Rats are more beautiful than human beings. Crispian Mills was from an acting dynasty, with famous and wealthy forbears, a fact which was not lost on some. Hence their ostracisation. The records, however, speak for themselves, and mysticism aside, deserve to be stored along side other great bands.
THE SOUND OF DRUMS
Tremendous tribal drumming by Mick Tucker, the steadiest and most exciting drummer in the business apart from Clem Cattini. One of The Sweet's best records, and one of the best of it's time, the thrill never wears off. They aimed to be the best in their field, as did their producers, and this was the result. DAFT LYRICS, 50's rock and roll filtered through heavy metal, and bubblegum pop all expertly crafted made them a formidable force. They were a restless band, who perhaps sold out to make it big, but their best records came from that, rather than the more serious, technical metal they naturally gravitated towards. Also Brian Connolly was a really good front man, he was good looking and had blonde hair in the feather cut style. He wore gold lam�© and gold platform boots, and thumped his fists in time to the music. If ever you see that happen in a VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE video, you’ll know where it came from.
WIG WAM BAM
The so called new romantic pop era may seem a million miles from the VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE aesthetic, but actually that is a broader thing than it might at first appear. POP's the word, and there are decades to look back over, and many genres, and exciting one offs to discover. New romantic was gay, bi, decadent, and didn't wear denim or smell of patchouli. It was about youth, a niche where disaffected youth, those who would never truly belong could meet and share fashion, art and music. Not to mention drugs and eyeliner. It beats being like your older brother.
The original version of this is of course Gloria Jones’ northern soul classic, but Soft Cell came improbably close to matching it with their early electronic sound, full of space and atmosphere, with MARC Almond's voice, although tending towards being out of tune at this time, undeniably sincere and passionate. They were a true alternative band, who's other treasures apart from Bedsitter VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE have yet to explore.
He came from Manchester, initially from a small row of houses infused with Irish family, and then to a woeful adolescence in a small semi detached house in an average road which could be on the outskirts of any major British city. For the natural conformist, that may be ok. But not for the likes of Stephen Patrick Morrissey. VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE are sure that all you socially well adjusted conformists out there will look on, completely unable to relate to social disenfranchisement. But society is a very funny thing, particularly now. Could it just be, that being inspired by your grandparents and great grandparents would now be an act of rebellion, and a great blueprint for living? What did they get right, and what is wrong with the intellectual zeitgeist in 2021 the time of writing? There are so many questions, and no doubt Morrissey asked them all and continues to. Whether he arrives at the right conclusions is another matter.
This fine single, one of their best, is a repository of influences transexualised through their own artistic sensibility, transfigured into their own work. The magical intro guitar riff is clearly influenced by PUT IT ALL IN THERE, a 60's garage rocker, the song title a close match for a Cilla Black record. But the woeful, doleful delivery is unmistakeably The Smith's own and is a jewel in the crown of the band's utter musical supremacy during the dark, shiny days of the 80's. It wasn’t The Smiths who inspired suicide, it was Top Of The Pops with their straight, straight or downright unmentionable presenters, and the horribly lit studios and forced dancing TO THE MOST UNSPEAKABLE “hits”, the worst of which spent 6 weeks at number 1. The 2021 new year’s TOTP SIGNIFIED THE END OF POPULAR MUSIC.
HEAVEN KNOWS I'M MISERABLE NOW
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE cast the net wider still, with this sublime soul record. It is lush. It has been said that the 1970's was not a good time for white British pop, that soul wore the crown but the truth is of course that both did, in Britain and America. THE DELFONICS, THE CHI-LITES, THE STYLISTICS, this was music for working class people who bought these records in their tens of thousands, despite not having a lot of money to spare. Here's why. PS The best British pop single of 1976 was Disco Music (I like it) by the now forgotten JALN band.
DIDN'T I BLOW YOUR MIND
The trouble with setting the bar this high, is that it can be hard to match it again and in truth VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE never heard anything quite this good again from The Bluetones. However, one great record is great. Perhaps one will do, and this is a most sublime, relaxed, jangling almost synaesthetic experience. The light Ian Brown influenced vocal hangs suspended, before the great verse melody. It is perfect in every way, no point in analysing but magic was in the air and was captured, which is what it is all about.
Sadly genius guitarist and songwriter with FM Peter Green died in 2020 or thereabouts. One hopes he finds more peace in the next world than he did in this, his mind scrambled by schizophrenia and acid. There may well have been a causal relationship. A partial artistic rejuvenation decades later did not really recapture the great man at his height, he was special and arguably his blues inspired work, as elegant, thorny and delicate as a wild dog rose, was less boorish and on an artistically higher plane than his contemporaries. MOTW is one of his best pieces of work, and underlines the fact resoundingly that popular music can and sometimes does match up to great art of a more serious kind. It can give high culture a run for it's money. If it couldn't, VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE would probably have lost interest in it years ago.
MAN OF THE WORLD
Another self consciously aesthetic statement by the duo who were somehow above the hippy throng of Woodstock, with it's gut busting blues workouts, bad acid, and sometimes questionable artistry. This lovely piece of music sold to architecture students, art students, the highbrow. I think we deserve a piece too. It's beautiful.
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE are most pleased to share with you an all time favourite, like all of these. This, is a tremendous song. That is not an easy thing to do, write a tremendous song. Warren Zevon remains a mystery to VGM, except that he died of cancer having, by his own admission, lived like Jim Morrison for 30 years. The song has attitude and balls coming out of it's ears, and makes unusual use of usual chords. Some of the best songs, those by VELVET UNDERGROUND spring to mind, do this very thing. Zevon's song has a terrific folk rock feel and sound. It is clearly a demo, primitively recorded for The Turtles. It's unpolished sound and rough and ready execution place it slightly above their nonetheless excellent version. WZ is VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S HERO for writing this life enhancing thriller.
What can VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE say about Marc. He was the androgyne from outer space, who's records were girl group Spectoresque, deep drum thudding masterpieces while the gold rolled. He took hard rock, playing with the rather limited dexterity of, say, Steve Marriot, into another artistic field entirely. Producer Toni Visconti, who of course was also responsible for much of David Bowie and Lou Reed's best work, shaped the sound aesthetic complemented by the blue/red record labels and their sleeves which were TREX as much as the music. Suited to television more than any pop star imaginable, Bolan had many moments of magic before fame, drugs and drink, not to mention changing fashion, dimmed his star at least for a while. A great singles artist. This 45 is one of several which mean a lot to VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE.
The main thing about this record is the sound, and feel. It was a success in the British singles chart in the 1970's, long after it's original release, for some obscure reason. It is a great rockabilly record though, and very authentic and uncommercialised, at least musically. THE SOUND HAS A KIND OF CHARISMA, LOST IN MOST POST 1980 RECORDINGS and that of course, is the thing which is so attractive about a lot of these old pop records. If they were walking down the street, your head would turn as they walked past. Frankly, VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S head turns the other way when most of today's offerings stride past in their dusty overcoats.
In fact, VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE vomit into the gutter if modern noise booms from a room on wheels. All that nasty noise must loosen the rivets.
Frank Sinatra would have been keen to record this ignored single by the re formed 90's version of The Bunnymen. A track from the excellent Evergreen LP, it elevates pop to art and deserves greater recognition.
I WANT TO BE THERE WHEN YOU COME
In truth this sounds better on vinyl, turned up loud on one of VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S four radiograms. But the video is smashing. One of the most exciting rock & roll records ever made. Freddy is still with us as of 2021. He was a great singer, who knows maybe he can still cut it. He had a number one LP in the British charts which coincided with his tour of the country back in the day. His mum wrote this apparently.
One of the 3 best British rock & roll singles. The Shadow Brian Bennett on drums, VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S favourite guitarist Joe Moretti on, guitar...and this great song Vince wrote himself. It is the musical embodiment of the rock and roll dream...speeding off in something with massive tail fins never to return. It sounds like a good idea. Great, great record. Taylor was not renowned as a vocalist, but his voice had a pleasing sound despite pitching problems. He was inordinately good looking, copied Gene Vincent's dress code of black leather, and was an incredible performer as any youtube footage will confirm. A drug inspired breakdown led to Vince telling The Clash's Joe Strummer that the Duke Of Edinburgh had poisoned his hot chocolate, and showing David Bowie a map he had spread open on Tottenham Court Road indicating places in the world where aliens were landing. None of which diminished his later tv appearances which showed a relaxed Vince, still dancing and with an improved voice.
BRAND NEW CADILLAC
VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE were practising vocals one day to a 1950's compilation of so so ballads and pop hits, when this came on and changed life. Without doubt the best rockabilly music. The only real competition for this is of course the Presley Sun sessions, which many would consider superior. But the Johnny Burnette trio laid a depth charge of lasting gravity and far reaching influence. Their album, and it's offcuts, are music for all time. Tragically killed in a boating accident while still young, Burnette had the toughest sounding vocal in rock & roll.
THE TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN'
Julian Cope is an enduring figure of British culture, an eccentric Englishman if ever there was one. For many years his music has taken a wayward path, surviving perhaps on his cult legend status. It is now hard to believe he was once a bona fide pop star, at a time when experimental pop and it's accompanying fashion were vibrant. Orange Juice, and Echo And The Bunnymen were contemporaries of Teardrop Explodes, who made some fine, lasting records. Reward, VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE'S Teardrop favourite, has the swaggering grandeur of a Bond theme, a fine tempo and pace, Cope's English enunciation, and a fine mixture of musical hooklines to complement an outstanding song. One of the best British singles ever.
A star who struggled to reconcile her apparent disdain for those of homosexual orientation with the fact they loved her and her music, Summer was a disco queen who made many strong records. This single, produced by electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder, a legend himself, mixed an r&b feel with that electronica to mesmeric effect. A huge success on the British chart, it was one in the eye for the tired old rock scene, who declared that disco sucked.
I FEEL LOVE
The best British single of 1976.
DISCO MUSIC (I LIKE IT)
A double sided 12 inch single extended remix of both successful singles, was the most desirable record VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE ever owned, and was sold for next to nothing in a moment of bad judgement. I wonder how much it is worth now. Produced by Harvey Fuqua (watch your pronunciation) these records border into ecstatic psychedelic delirium, and frankly piss all over most of the music the implicitly racist "disco sucks"campaigners were listening to. Sylvester was not as other men. Infact he was scarcely a man at all, but who cares. Sadly he died of AIDS, but left a timeless legacy.
DANCE DISCO HEAT/ YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL)
Unusual at the time, a British/Asian group who crossed over into the British independent charts with this record, which then crossed over from that marginal NME scene into the mainstream, I think reaching no.1 on the pop chart. Amazingly, it is better than the northern soul track it apparently borrowed the main riff from. They booted up the tempo creating a student dance floor filler of lasting joy and timeless appeal.
BRIMFUL OF ASHA
A more singular, eccentric and outstanding British pop personality would be harder to find. Jarvis Cocker was a self confident graduate of high art school, achieving breakthrough success after years of toil and John Peel sessions with this unique record produced by the gifted Chris Thomas. Defining the high end of Britpop, it's very amusing lyrical touch is enunciated in the voice of a northern, bohemian, working class intellectual. It stands high and alone among the Britpop 90's throng, which itself created arguably the best consistent scene since the 1960's. Common People builds and builds.
A masterpiece of brave experimentation and an expression of great talent, it is virtually unsurpassable.
The depths of a great record may be inscrutable, who can identify with certainty what makes that magic which separates the masterpiece from the merely very good. This top tune was no doubt a dancefloor filler on the northern soul scene, which is where working class dancers forgot life's harsh realities in head spinning self abandonment. Landslide is a particularly pleasing example of uptempo soul, panache and polish ensure it's durability.
Often described as honey coated, Smokey's voice had a yearning purity unique to him and his records, which were at the very cutting edge of Tamla Motown at it's peak. A great songwriter, it is darkly illuminating to compare this record to most of what was on the new year's Top Of The Pops, which was a travesty and debasement of the great art form of popular music.
This inconceivably majestic Tamla classic is why we should go back, back in time...to unearth the gleaming gemstones hidden beneath layers of cynical, manufactured unmusical dross.
TEARS OF A CLOWN
It would be a mistake to assume the British music scene fell into a lull after the punk bubble burst, around about 1978. Admittedly, that raucous, aggressive sound was watered down and appropriated into the mainstream, as seems to happen with most if not all genres. But even that diluted music had energy derived from punk. Bands like The Knack and The Vapours made enlivened mainstream pop which owed a great deal to the punk scene. The Jam, who ran concurrently with punk but were never really a punk band, can be seen as one of the most talented offshoots. Punk cleared away the older brother's scene. Punk rock was a tyranny of youth. However ageist that may have been, it was time for something new anyway and The Beat were one of the most refreshing, original bands who came through into the space punk opened. VILLAGE GREEN MACHINE here choose the Beat's first successful record, because of it's strikingly good attempt at reinterpreting such a great original record. With reggae influenced drumming, and a unique set of influences, they arguably pulled off what should have been impossible. They made a version of one of Tamla's best records which was as enjoyable to some as the original.
TEARS OF A CLOWN
A TIGHT BUMP AND GRIND 70'S R&B RECORD WITH AN IRRESISTIBLY CATCHY AND ATTRACTIVE CHORUS, the late Betty Wright could surely have been in no doubt this was destined to be successful. It exudes joy mirrored by the listener, by the dancer. This came a little before disco, was meatier, harder hitting.
This all woman band definitely did not fit in with the pop fodder of the time. Metal at this point was another genre enlivened by punk, with young musicians inspired to inject their youth and energy into a genre which was well explored. 1980 was a great time for such unpretentious fare. Time has been kind to the image of black t shirt, leather jacket and jeans. In truth this stuff was not considered cool at the time, and few outside the metal scene would have touched a record like this. They apparently did not want the thrill of speeding away from humdrum suburbia on motorbikes. It is safe to assume Girlschool did. A really exciting piece of music.
COME ON LETS GO