It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these – far too long. Blame work commitments. I’ve been worried about getting a podcast up some part of Thursday or Friday and then work – the pesky day-job kind – has been on the horizon, looming, with early starts every Saturday for most of the last year. Now I’m free from that grind. Back to ‘normal’ hours. So a return to the occasional ‘Five Songs For Friday’ – which is just about sharing music, five cuts from five artists, or sometimes it’s five songs from a single artist – the themes are random. Sometimes there’s not theme at all. Today it’s about the return of the format, the return to the medium. Nothing more than that.
With that in mind then, here’s Five Songs For Friday (The Return)…
1. Split Enz, Sweet Dreams
I’ve had Split Enz on my mind a lot lately and in particular this song. One day, recently, I played it 17 times in a row. This video is wonderful. This song just bursts. I love it. So happy and weird and wonderful and just a perfect, ever so slightly jilted and odd, pop song. What would a second album proper have been like by Split Enz? We’ll now never know I guess. But at their best I really believe there was no one better.
It started as a joke I guess – I bought a tshirt of the album-cover, The Battle of Los Angeles. I always liked the classic first Rage album and the idea of the band but didn’t stay listening, in fact I don’t think I really remembered or maybe even knew the Los Angeles album. So gave it a whirl. Not only is it great it’s possibly the band’s best. What a fucking rhythm section. So, so good.
3. Joni Mitchell, The Jungle Line
Joni Mitchell’s never far from my mind or my stereo – but just recently this song has been doing the rounds again. In my head, in my heart and on my various devices. Something about her use of the drum-circle and that distorted wash of bass. She used this trick more than once, always made it sound fresh. She’s genius. Untouchable. One of music’s finest. And her music from the mid-late-70s is as good as anyone’s, better than most and some of the greatest I’ve ever, ever heard.
4. Natalie Merchant, Carnival
Late last year I went through all the Natalie Merchant albums and most of the 10,000 Maniacs recordings too. Magical stuff. Merchant is, if you’ll pardon the slight pun, a wonder. I marvel at her genius. And this song – overplayed, used in movies and TV and so on – still sounds so fresh to me. A perfect recording, perfect performance. The arrangement is so good. The lyric, the vocal. Every element about this is correct. If I taught a class I’d use this as the lesson.
5. Jan Hellriegel, Melusine
Great song, great video – and I was back listening to this and other things by Jan Hellriegel, returning to her music, because she’s about to release a book. It comes with a brand new album too. I was lucky to get an early copy of the book, and honoured to write some sort of album liner-notes which have now become the foreword to the book. Hers is a great read. You’ll get the chance to check it out next month (pre-order by clicking this link, etc).
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