Pet Sounds: March 22

Probably because it’s Spring, and possibly because of the recent warm weather I went a bit ‘folky’ in March. I’ve also been working on a short story in which I have indulged my love of all things pagan and folk horror so that may also explain it. Anyway, here’s the tunes I’ve returned to in March:

Johnny: Jim Sullivan

Jim’s probably looking for Johnny here…

Jim Sullivan only released one album. It was called ‘UFO’, released in 1969, and contained this song, about a boy who decides to fly away, or at least, to live in the sky, despite the protestations of the confused and envious masses. It’s weird in all the right ways: I particularly love the shuffling, ramshackle drumming and what sounds like a double bass bumping away. The strings are more reminiscent of Scott Walker or Serge Gainsbourg. There’s a beautiful mystery to the song, the whole album and the man himself. In 1975, he drove himself to New Mexico in a car containing his records and a guitar. Once there, he bought vodka. And then, he disappeared without trace. He has never been found. Seems like the Earth was just too small for Jim…

My Friend The Sun: Streetwalkers

A Far Cry from Iron Maiden: Nicko McBrain on tambourine here…

The studio version is by Family, the band with whom Roger Chapman made his name, but this live version by Chapman’s next band Streetwalkers is so good I had to include it instead. This is such a warm song, befitting the title. I love the first minute or so of the video, where Roger strolls around self-consciously, and the rest of the band tune up. Nothing can quite prepare you for the sound that they make when it suddenly all comes together. Chapman’s voice is incredible and he is matched by Bob Tench. The two harmonise beautifully, particularly in the last section of the song. Tench also contributes a brilliant, understated guitar solo too. And if that doesn’t sell it to you, then maybe the knowledge that the drummer on this delicate, folky number went on to find fame and fortune with Iron Maiden…

Rambling Man: Laura Marling

Rambling Man: Doesn’t seem the most sensible place to keep your wardrobe…

I was walking on the fields around the canals in Worcestershire in the early morning of one of the hottest days this year. The dog was with me and we’d ventured off the beaten track a little bit, to explore the woods and hills we saw. The light was perfect, in the way that only early Spring can be. We stopped at the top of a hill just to enjoy the view and at that precise moment, this song started to play on my earbuds. One of those moments, I guess…

Feast of Carrion: Midlake

Feast of Carrion: Makes a change from the usual Sunday dinner…

Something brand new. Midlake have a new record out. It’s great. This is my favourite track on it so far. Dig that flute…

White Mustang: Cat Power

Cat Power: Horse Power?

Cat Power’s got an new album out. It’s great. This is my favourite track on it so far. Dig that Fender Rhodes…

Song for Insane Times: Kevin Ayers

If he thought things were insane in 1972

I managed to get hold of an original vinyl copy of Soft Machine’s ‘Third’ from a record fair this month. Dunno if that prompted me to listen to Kevin Ayers again (he was the original bassist and singer for the band) but listen again I did. Rock journalist Nick Kent was a fan. He described Ayers and Syd Barrett as ‘the two most important people in British pop music’. Well, I suppose if you want to be controversial and ‘different’ then you might agree. Me, I just like that whole Canterbury scene sound, which mixes jazz and rock with Nick Drake. The title is apt, but then, when isn’t it?

The Belldog: Eno, Moebius, Roedelius

Underworld heard this, y’ think?

Another, ‘out walking in the hills’ tune. This is from the second album Eno made with German band ‘Cluster’. It was released in 1978 but I think it’s completely timeless; it could have been released yesterday. Eno says he saw a raggedy man sitting under the Arc de Triomphe playing strange chords on an old upright piano and singing ‘The belldog, where are you?’ over and over again and this inspired him to write the song. To him, the belldog was a herald who may not yet have appeared, or had disappeared. I love that; appeals to that ‘folk horror’ fan in me! The tune itself sounds very like something Underworld might do today. For me, it’s best listened to out in the middle of nowhere in the early morning, or late at night. Give it a try…

Here’s the link to the complete March playlist, with these songs and added Aretha Franklin, Billie Eilish and The Kinks. Plus The Adventures which appealed to me at the time!:

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