Culture music

Music of 2017 – part three

The Unstoppable Ted Hawkins
Ted Hawkins

My current car has CD Player and is the main place for playing CDs, but for how much longer? Cars now seem to have USB socket and bluetooth connections rather than players.

One favourite CD for the car is
Ted Hawkins – The Unstoppable Ted Hawkins, 2001 – this is actually a Limited Edition recorded live at the Mean Fiddler in 1988 and doesn’t appear on Spotify or Discog listings. Ted Hawkins died in 1995. The CD notes point out that the original recording was made on a Sony Walkman cassette recorder direct from the mixing desk. It was only made to help someone learn the songs Ted Hawkins played. Get that, hi-fi buffs!

David Swaine recommended a Spotify playlist called The Pulse of Americana and it’s mighty fine, too. It plays ‘latest hits of roots music.’ I found this…

Lori McKenna – The Bird & the Rifle, 2016 – and this connected with something I heard earlier on BBC Radio 2 Folk Show…

Kate Rusby – Life in a Paper Boat, 2016 – and it has the brilliant last line of “Put the kettle on.” And here is another superb British voice
Lucy Ward – I Dreamt I was a Bird, 2015

Ridgeriders – The Very Best of Ridgeriders: Songs of The Southern Landscape From The Television Series, 2016 – (and a live concert in 2001). Ashley Hutchings, Phil Beer and Chris Wiles.

Gretchen Peters – The Essential Gretchen Peters, 2016
Fairport Convention – 50:50@50, 2017
Laura Marling – Semper Femina, 2017
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, 1975 – an album that just has to be heard every so often

I have often denigrated the synth-pop of mid-eighties music but I was hit on the radio by a Whitney Houston song. This sent me on a path of 1985 albums. There were some pleasant surprises such as album tracks long-forgotten (Dire Straits) and hit-singles worn tired at the time but actually quite good (Phil Collins). Although the story of Tina Turner’s revitalised career is great the Private Dance album actually disappoints, I suspect, due to the thrill of later live performances. We have most of these on a mixture of vinyl, cassette and CD. With the test of time the list is a good, classy set but The Eurythmics, Kate Bush and Sade are the finest re-plays, I thought. So, mid-eighties, not so bad after all.

Marg in Piran, Yugoslavia, 1985
Marg in Piran, Yugoslavia, 1985

This is not the order I listened to them, but by total British sales in 1985 as listed on Wikipedia (with some omitted such as compilations).
1. Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms, 1985
2. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required, 1985
3. Madonna – Like a Virgin, 1984
4. Bruce Sprignsteen – Born in the USA, 1984
5. Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair, 1985
10. Paul Young – The Secret of Association, 1985
11. Alison Moyet – Alf, 1985
14. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, 1985
15. Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight, 1985
16. Tina Turner – Private Dancer, 1985
17. Sade – Promise, 1985
21. ZZ Top – Eliminator, 1983

We would not have bought Madonna in 1984/5 but did buy The Immaculate Collection, 1990 on audio-tape. (Good electro-pop, but the non-single tracks are ‘filler’ and I could do without the ‘extended dance mixes’ on the re-issue!) Similar in time period, yet Bruce Springsteen was a much later acquisition with the 1975-1985 Live set. A hero, as written here. I would not have been interested in Tears for Fears in 1985 although the singles are still familiar. This is the one album of this set that I really didn’t like. Synth-pop… I want to know that an instrument is being played!

Let it not be said I only look backwards…
Frances – Thing’s I’ve Never Said, 2017 – singer, pianist

OK, I thought, Chuck Berry, whatever. I’ll take him via his influence on The Rolling Stones and many others. Then, to give him a chance, where to start? Answer: The New York Times ‘15 Essential Chuck Berry Songs‘ with a playlist on Spotify. I had over-looked how clever they are, lyrically. As Nick Hasted in ‘The i’ reported: “Already 30 when he recorded ‘Maybeline’ – his first hit – in 1955, he took an assessing, outsider’s look at the nascent teenage landscape, and became its first sympathetic poet laureate.” and concluded “Flawed, and not always nice. But he was a monumental man.”

Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow, 2011
Kate Bush – Aerial, 2005

By Angus Willson

Angus Willson is editor of this site and author of this blogpost.

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