I normally regard blogs about music, and what the writer is currently listening to, as deeply self-indulgent. But a follower of mine on Twitter has requested my current playlist, so here goes. You don’t have to read it.
Last CDs bought: John Coltrane, Live At Birdland. The classic quartet. Tyner, Garrison, Jones. I think I probably have enough Coltrane, though a colleague has just recommended More Lasting Than Bronze. Then again, at a price of £2.99 from HMV, why not?
Er, The Best Of The Monkees. A request from the Chief Executive, and only about five songs worth hearing. They were, admittedly, great songs. Written by the likes of Neil Diamond, eg I’m A Believer and A Little Bit Me, A little Bit You. Mike Nesmith, after the inevitable split, turned out to be a rather accomplished songwriter in his subsequent career. Try Different Drum, one of the great break-up songs. “So goodbye, girl, I’ll be leaving/I see no sense in you cryin’ and grievin’/We’ll both live a lot longer/If you live without me, babe.”
Still trending: Melody Gardot, The Absence. Latin, bossa nova tinged jazz singing. Open the French windows, let it drift out.
Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase. A bit prog, but sometimes we need a bit of prog in our lives.
Susanne Sandfor: Ten Love Songs. Norwegian, voice like a ringing glass, house beats. Classy.
Mies Davis: Bitches Brew, Live. Dug up from the vaults, and the non-inclusion of Wayne Shorter on the first three tracks, from the little-recorded Chick Corea quintet, is a shame. Apparently he was held up in traffic. Sound quality lousy, but historic.
Alison Krauss and Union Station: Paper Airplanes. Best known for working with Robert Plant on Raising Sand. Her solo work veers towards MOR, though Away Down The River is a deeply moving song about death and resurrection. Listen to it. (Religion warning.) Her work with Union Station is more rootsy, with a proper country/bluegrass band. Not for those who dislike country and bluegrass, of course.
Carla Bley: Trios. Astringent chamber jazz from this Californian pianist and composer, with her long-time partner Steve Swallow and Bristolian saxophonist Andy Sheppard. An awfully long way from her mad, sprawling jazz/rock/world music operetta Escalator Over The Hill. Utviklingssang and Vashkar are among the most melodic jazz compositions ever. See also her The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu.
The War On Drugs: Lost In The Dream. Slacker US indie. A war almost certainly lost, I fear, from the sound of it.
Syd Arthur: On And On, or Sound Mirror. Psychedelic prog. The bassist is Kate Bush’s nephew and plays a bass given to him by the late Hugh Hopper. Enough said.
Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time. Just finished his biography, same title. This is a compilation of his solo work, plus collaborations with the likes of Elvis Costello and John Cage. Again, enough said. Try his cover of Chic’s At Last I Am Free.
Sia: 1,000 Forms of Fear. The Boy is outraged I should be listening to this. “This is modern music, Dad.” I liked her work with Zero 7. Horribly overproduced, though Chandelier, about her misspent youth, is a stand-out. Great back story.
The National: Trouble Will Find Me. US Indie, clever, tuneful, sharp as a paper cut. Still playing it several years later, and Daughter is a convert. Great baritone voice.
Jennifer Warnes: Famous Blue Overcoat. Leonard Cohen, filtered through AOR. Still timeless. Does anyone know what First We Take Manhattan is actually about? A Sixties radical coming in from the cold?
John Murry: The Graceless Age. Descent into madness, addiction, hell. Try Little Colored Balloons, about how he clinically died on the streets of San Francisco. And was brought around by paramedics.
Jason Isbell: Southeastern. Another rehab survivor, another bundle of laughs. The Elephant, a song about his best friend’s death from cancer.
Plus, I am still working my way through Daughter’s latest two mixtapes. Her tastes tend towards mine, to the extent that we occasionally overlap. Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car? Bought it four decades ago, on vinyl, probably, actually. The Civil Wars? Tick. A country duo who appear to have recorded their last CD slap bang in the middle of a messy divorce. Try The One That Got Away. As in, I wish you were the one that got away… I wish I’d never, ever seen your face. Sung in perfect two-part harmony. One for romantics, then.
Daughter introduced me to Bastille, and Beirut. In return, I offered her The Smiths. About even, then. From her latest mixtape:
Obadiah Parker/Hey Ya.
Fyfe/Solace. Chilled electro.
Hozier/Take Me To Church. Nu folk.
The Last Bison/Switzerland. Ditto.
Ni Oui Ni Non/Zaz. Plainly confused French chanteuse.
Ed Sheeran/I See Fire. The Kygo Remix, obviously.
That’s enough music for now.