Music Emissions Alternative Music Reviews Music Reviews For The Rest Of Us en-us Music Emissions 79 60 <![CDATA[ Marvin Gaye - I Want You (1975)]]> Written by Leon Ware, Marvin Gaye turned this into a love song intended for his second wife, this song positively steams with sexual tension. While not exactly explicit, there is an unmistakeable theme and sensation running through it which is akin to Marvin screaming "I want to fuck you NOW". The distorted guitar adds another edge to it which makes it stand out from a lot of seventies soul. His voice is as smooth and as passionate as ever and it does not take long before you realise that Gaye has made "I Want You" his own song with his passion and feeling. Its release came at a time when Gaye was much more in control of his artistic creativity than before and it shows. Hardly surprising though that this bombed as a single in the UK - too close to the bone.

(Tamla Motown 1975)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:58:14 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing (1982)]]> Before Marvin Gaye was murdered, this was his last great song. The master of sixties soul had gone through the barrier of early seventies political music with What's Going On and in the eighties gone back to his emotionally charged, erotic roots. "Sexual Healing"was the best of this bunch and is as much a straight out love song as it is an invitation to engage in a spot of rumpy-pumpy. It has a smooth sound and is slickly produced. OK, it has probably been played at too many close-outs at night clubs but that should not detract from what is, after all, a damn good song.

(CBS 1982)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:57:13 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Forever People - Invisible / Sometimes (1982)]]> One of Sarah Records more notable outfits, I feel, the Forever People, had a bit more professionalism than most of the bands who signed to the label. Tim Vass and Greg Webster from Razorcuts were the force behind the band and perhaps their experience was the reason. This single was actually a charity project for Friends of the Earth and the inside of the single came with a membership application form. As you might expect therefore it is a single tinged with some political overtones - a Sarah trademark - but it works well enough. This single is some excellent mid-period jangle pop. 

(Sarah 1982)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:56:04 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Easybeats - Friday On My Mind / Made My Bed, Gonna Lie In It (1966)]]> One of the best of the sixties bubblegum singles  and from an Australian band too. This paean to the weekend, and the anticipation of the break is a timeless classic which has been covered many times but never bettered. A sort of cross between the Kinks and the Monkees, the Easybeats were clearly talented musicians who brought some clear class to their music. The melody is catchy enhanced by some excellent guitar work and the drumming especially is of a high quality often lacking in mid-sixties pop. The Easybeats were pretty much a one hit wonder in the UK, but what a hit to be a wonder with!

(United Artists 1966)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:55:05 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Stranglers - Peaches / Go Buddy Go (1977)]]> I will always remember this as a double A-Side, so good were both tracks, though in truth they have not aged well. "Go Buddy Go" was the first punk single I bought, with its infectious, get-up-and-pogo melody and its sing-along refrain. "Peaches"was more restrained, a sort of bitter look at a day at the beach in summer. Both carried that trademark heavy bass line of the Stranglers which made virtually anything they did instantly recognisable.

There exists an alternative version of "Peaches", duly sanitised for radio and TV, which could not have the word 'Bummer' used in a song. Dimwitted idiots that they are, they didn't know that this was a song about someone staring at breasts on a beach.

(United Artists 1977)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:54:07 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Stranglers - No More Heroes / In The Shadows (1977)]]> Of all the punk bands which surfaced during that heady year from the summer of 1976 until the summer of 1977, the Stranglers were the one band with which I found the least affinity. This was in spite of the fact that the first punk single I ever bought was "Peaches". I don't know why this should have been but I have just accepted the fact in the years since.

It may have something to do with the fact that the Stranglers were perhaps the least punk of the punks. They had been around the London scene in various guises for some time and, unlike most other punk bands of the era, they were unusual in having a keyboard player. The keyboards gave them a different sound to most of their contemporaries and it may have been this which caused me to overlook them.

By the time "No More Heroes"came on the scene, the Stranglers were making much more use of keyboards than they had previously. "No More Heroes"was a thoughtful song which fitted in with the punk ethos about the collapse of hope. But it was not aggressive enough, not negative enough and the melody was too jaunty to be considered as a punchy song for its theme. Nevertheless, it is a good song, just not as good as it could have been.

(United Artists 1977)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:52:49 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Stranglers - Five Minutes / Rok It To The Moon (1978)]]> The metamorphosis of this band from hard-arsed punks to melodic smoochers was quite unbelievable. Thankfully, their early stuff is much more enjoyable. "5 Minutes" captures them at the height of the first phase and describes a particularly heavy night outside a club the band were playing in south London one Saturday when it all kicked off in a most unpleasant fashion. The urgency comes straight through in the music and the lyrics. Sadly, it has dated very badly as a track although I venture to suggest that things haven't changed much down the clubs and bars of Brixton, Peckham and New Cross. Sounds just like a night out at the Venue!

(United Artists 1978)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:48:06 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Bessie Smith - Careless Love Blues / He's Gone Blues (1925)]]> Bessie Smith was nicknamed the Empress of the Blues and was one of the early pioneers of the the blues jazz crossovers which came to dominate the forties. A young Louis Armstrong played cornet on "Careless Love Blues", another W.C. Handy composition. The song has a strong melody which contains one of the oldest black folk melodies from the US. This amply demonstrates the voice which made Smith such an influence on subsequent jazz music.

If you mamage to come across an original ceramic 78 of this, lucky you. But I suggest you don't play it. The pressings of this were frequently poor and the discs were sometimes slightly elliptical rather than a pure circle and the hole in the centre was not exactly dead centre. Plus, recording techniques of the time meant that there were fluctuations in the speed of the recording (remember, these things were hand cranked). The result is that there is a distinct unevenness in the pitch of the sound, especially the voice. Thankfully, Bessie Smith's earliest recordings have been digitally remastered to eradicate these flaws. Whether or not you judge that authentic is up to you, but it does improve the sound.

(Columbia 1925)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:45:30 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Rolling Stones - Mother's Little Helper / Lady Jane (1966)]]> The Rolling Stones' valium song. In the mid sixties the Stones turned their attention to social commentary on various aspects of the growing baby boom become adult phenomenon. "Mother's Little Helper"was set to a great little riff and to lyrics which, part from condemnation of the song title, were delivered with little or no contempt for the phenomenon itself. This song is often overlooked among the Stones great tracks of the sixties, partly because the subject matter was regarded as too controversial for the times when it was issued. But lest we forget, when considering what the Stones have now become, they were back then very much seen as an anti-establishment force which would bring down society as we know it. 

(London 1966)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:42:44 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar (1971)]]> The Rolling Stones kicked off the seventies in pretty much the same way they finished the sixties. This is another one of those riffs which, the moment you hear it, you know is Keith Richards. Not surprisingly, the Stones courted controversy with this as much as with any other song. It was originally banned in the UK because it was assumed that "Brown Sugar"referred to heroin and the song promoted drug use. Well, if you want to believe that, go ahead. It's more likely about Marsha Hunt.

But what the hell! Few are the people who cannot instantly recognise this song from the opening chords. And the sax just adds to the mix. This is party music from the days when rock was still king of the party. Disco may have killed off good chart music, but "Brown Sugar" will outlast any disco dross you care to mention.

(Rolling Stones 1971)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:41:40 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Rolling Stones - Tumbling Dice / Sweet Black Angel (1972)]]> "Tumbling Dice"was one of those Stones tracks which sort of passed me by when it was first released. At the time, I had only just discovered music and was exploring the limited range of options available to someone with only limited amounts of cash to spend. The Stones had been around forever and did not pique my interest that much. As a result, I came to this late, but then realised how good it was. A typical Stones rocker, with a slightly more opaque production style than many of their earlier tracks it produced a heavier, denser sound more in keeping with the styles of their contemporaries than their own work. It was a role which, to this day, I feel the Stones were not entirely comfortable in.

(Rolling Stones 1972)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:39:41 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Rolling Stones - Angie / Silver Train (1973)]]> Yes, the Rolling Stones still did slowed down love songs as well as rockers. This one, "Angie"is perhaps one of the finest of its genre. It has a twist insofar as the protagonist is leaving his Angie despite his feelings for her. Whether this was written for Angie Bowie after an affair is or is not an urban myth is not the point, the track still stands as one of the finest love songs from the seventies. And Jagger proves he can sing with real, choking emotion when he has to. Keith Richards' excellent acoustic guitar work is a superb accompaniment to the song as well. 

(Rolling Stones 1973)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:38:47 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[The Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock And Roll / Through The Lonely Nights (1974)]]> To many, the Rolling Stones started to lose their way in the seventies. For someone who came to the Stones late, this was a track which would have piqued my interest had I bothered to extend that interest beyond the sixties classics in which I was then interested. Yes, they could still belt out a classic rocker in the vein of their late sixties stuff, and while this track may not have been quite up to the same standard as those great classics, this was still a good track. And yes, it is cliche, but if any song containing a cliche was marked down, then there would be few worthy of note anyway.

(Rolling Stones 1974)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:37:26 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Iggy Pop - The Passenger / Success (1977)]]> Iggy Pop has had a chequered solo career. At times he has produced some fine stuff; at others he has produced some woeful stuff. Thankfully, "The Passenger"falls into the former category. Like his career, and the potholed roads along which the passenger may drive, the song has a bumpy feel to it. Yet the melody is catchy and the lyrics hint of the excesses of city life for those who have the ability to isolate themselves from it in the back seat of a car. And then, just to make sure that the song can stay with you, we are all invited to a sing-along chorus of "la la la's". Despite being one of the more poppy songs in Iggy's catalogue, this one strikes the right note musically in enabling you to relate to the topic of the song without even having to hear the lyrics.

(RCA Victor 1977)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:35:53 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Orange Juice - Rip It Up / Snake Charmer (1983)]]> Unceremoniously lumped in with the post-punks and C86, Orange Juice were really nothing of the sort. The Glasgow band were out to make catchy pop numbers which took them away from the dark and gloomy introspection of the post-punks. They almost did it with this number. Sure, it is catchy, with that memorable chorus, but that apart, there was a lot wrong with this, though it took me a good listen to it again recently to realise what it was. The bass line is horrible and mushy - like walking through soft fruit. The sax solo is out of place and the cheery effects do nothing to improve. This is the better end of the sort of music which turned people off eighties music. It could have been so much more.

(Polydor 1983)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:34:42 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ McCarthy - Keep An Open Mind Or Else / New Left Review #1 (1989)]]> McCarthy took their name from the bete noir for left-wing American politics, not surprising really when you consider that the band were noted for their left-leaning political stance. This frequently comes out in their lyrics which often contain biting satire and are seemingly at odds with the sweet sounding jangle pop of the music. "Keep an Open Mind or Else", with the vocals on this provided by Laetitia Sadier, was therefore a bit different from a lot of largely male-fronted jangle pop of the time. The band got little acclaim, largely due to their political views getting them lumped in with artists with whom they had little else in common, but they were influential to bands who came after them, such as the Manic Street Preachers (who covered some of their tracks) and, of course, provided core members to the band Stereolab. What makes this interesting is that this is jangle pop with its gloves off. It was a departure from the fey and wistful lyrics of the rest of the genre. This was political, and as such marks an interesting change.

(Midnight 1989)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:33:27 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Little Walter - My Babe / Thunderbird (1955)]]> Little Walter did this cover of the Willie Dixon classic in the same year that rock and roll can be said to have broken onto the musical scene. Little Walter was an innovative blues harmonica player and"My Babe"shows his talent off with the instrument to the full. Listen closely and you will hear the distortion for which he was famous. The song itself is simple enough. A standard blues melody in twelve bar. But it is that harmonica which stands out. The song has since been covered by dozens of artists as diverse as Cliff Richard and Ike and Tina Turner and featured in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet.

(Checker 1955)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:30:49 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Johnny Kidd & The Pirates - Shakin' All Over / Yes. Sir, That's My Baby (1960)]]> Johnny Kidd was one of those authentic British characters who passed away too early. His real name was Frederick Heath, but Frederick Heath and the Pirates doesn't sound right, whereas Frederick Heath and the Junior Clerks is not snappy enough. "Shakin' All Over" was his biggest hit and what a number it was.

For a start, it seems incredible that this should have been released in 1960. Way ahead of its time. The song pulses with sexual energy which, in 1960, was something that could barely even be hinted at let alone spoken of. And then there is that guitar riff. Owing a lot to the R&B of the Chicago and Detroit scenes, that riff has to be one of the all time great riffs. And still this was only 1960! More Eddie Cochran than Buddy Holly, this track set the template which others took four or five years before they were able to follow it.

(HMV 1960)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:29:32 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Elmore James - Dust My Broom / Catfish Blues (1951)]]> "Dust My Broom" is a essentially a cover of a Robert Johnson song, "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom", though some believe Elmore James wrote it for Johnson. Whatever, it is based on a long-standing traditional melody and is one of the links between pre-war delta blues and post-war Chicago blues that tie with Robert Johnson. Elmore James certainly shows that he knows his way around a guitar with this one. And no, the song is not about keeping a tidy house but leaving an unfaithful woman behind in search of a new woman. Elmore James' version is crisp and delightful, and ought to be rated as one of the great blues classics of all time.

(Trumpet 1951)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:28:16 by Charles Martel]]>
<![CDATA[ Steve Harley - Make Me Smile (come Up And See Me) / Another Journey (1975)]]> Steve Harley was someone who lived an early life of adversity and then made it to his advantage when he began his musical career. This song was undoubtedly his biggest hit, and deservedly so. Released when glam was passing into the musical beyond, it remains a timeless classic nonetheless and is a great little pop song.

Part of it comes down to Harley's distinctive vocal style, pausing before certain words and then drawing the vowel sound out to almost absurd lengths. A pity then that it is marred by the excessive use of female backing vocals. Yet the song has endured long enough to have been covered by numerous other bands - the Wedding Present's version perhaps the best of them.

(EMI 1975)
Reviewed on 2014-10-28 07:26:48 by Charles Martel]]>