Sadly, I write this on the day we learn that Sinéad O'Connor has passed away.
I talked about her covers earlier in this blog, but she was a tremendous songwriter in her own right. I became a committed fan when I saw her at a festival in 1994 or maybe 1995 when she was promoting Universal Mother, having previously only known her own song Mandinka, and Nothing Compares 2 U, the cover that made her famous.
I was knocked over by this performance of melodic music somehow influenced by folk and dub at the same time.
The Breeders started as a side-project, and the Pacer LP was made as a side-project from that once the Breeders became a full-time thing. Although featuring a different name and line-up, these are still Kim Deal songs sung by Kim Deal, and I consider it to be, in effect, my favourite Breeders record.
Although it was clearly John Lydon’s time (as Johnny Rotten) in the Sex Pistols that made him famous, his career as Public Image Ltd would ultimately provide a more enduring body of work.
Lydon also had successful collaborations during this time, and it’s 1993’s Open Up, with Leftfield, that I want to look at here.
The Safari EP marks the transition from the raw Albini-produced early Breeders material, such as their début LP Pod and the more polished (and commercially successful) follow-up The Last Splash.
Shortly after sample-heavy Hot Doggie by Colourbox appeared on the 4AD Compilation “Lonely Is An Eyesore”, the label released a collaborative single between Colourbox and label-mates AR Kane as a Double A-Side. The result was less of a collaboration than intended. One side was nearly all AR Kane, the other side was nearly all Colourbox. It was the latter side that got the airplay, and that took the song to the top of the UK Charts.
Another one from Terry Hall, and another collaboration. This time it’s with Ian Broudie, who released his version as the title track from The Lightning Seeds April 1992 LP “Sense”.
Hall collaborated with Broudie on a few tracks on that album, and sang BVs on this track. A few years later, Hall recorded his own version for his solo LP “Home” - produced by Broudie. This take is pretty similar to Broudie’s - with enough difference that I can definitely say that, although I love them both, I prefer this one.
This is an amazing comeback single.
The band had fallen apart when singer Ian McCulloch left in 1987, and drummer Pete de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. After the Electrafixion project ended up with the three remaining (and, indeed, original) Bunnymen being involved, the band inevitably reverted to the Echo & the Bunnymen name. This was the lead single from the 1997 comeback LP.
The third in a series of “big songs” - although this has plenty of variety through its near-13 minute length, it sounds more like one song that the previous two, which were constructed from separate initial ideas merged into one.
The second in a trio of “big songs” - long, relatively complex songs that sound like they were the product of putting together separate pieces into one. Like Jesus of Suburbia, Paranoid Android was also made exactly that way.
The third track featuring Dot Allison on vocals. Here she is with her electronic trio One Dove on a record produced by Andy Weatherall and remixed by Stephen Hague.
The second of three tracks featuring vocals by Dot Allison - this time a track from her first début LP, 1999s Afterglow.
This is the first of three songs featuring Scottish singer Dot Allison.
Here she features on vocals (and co-writing) on Dirge, the opening track from The Contino Sessions, a classic album by Death In Vegas.
This is the song that actually triggered the idea of doing a songs blog. I declared on Twitter (back when that was a thing) that this is a song that I felt I could never truly tire of, and that inspired the idea of a “Songs I’ll Never Tire Of” blog. The crap blog name held me back from actually starting something, but eventually I got around to it, renamed it, and here we are.
This tune was released after R.E.M.’s popularity peak, but to me it still stands out as the highlight track from a pretty-decent catalogue.
Written by Dave Sudbury in the 80s about a homing pigeon, and recorded in 1988 by June Tabor, this live version by folk group The Unthanks (backed by the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band) is a thing of rare magnificence. As, apparently, was the eponymous pigeon :)
I’m definitely not an aficionado of classical music, so it’s probably inevitable that my tastes in contemporary classical are at the more populist end of the scale, but this is a beautiful, emotional, piece. You probably wouldn’t file it under “easy listening”, though.
With Natalie Imbruglia’s take on the Ednaswap song “Torn”, I’d suggest that we are getting into the relatively small list of “covers that sound better than the original” - regardless of whether you consider the “original” to me Ednaswap or Lis Sørensen.
The indie/dance crossover sound from the late 80s and early 90s might well have had its home in Manchester, but these London boys gave them more than a run for their money.
This record takes a sample from Kate Bush’s single Cloudbusting, and builds a new song around it - though my preferred version is the 2008 remix that replaces Bush’s vocal with a re-recorded part.
The Bristol Sound, aka Trip Hop, was the dominant sound of this era for me. Grunge was still hanging in there, but this really was something new, and Portishead were at the forefront of it. This song is built on an Isaac Hayes sample that became quite ubiquitous, and is still making an impact on popular music today.
An absolute banger from Le Tigre, a punky electronic three-piece featuring Kathleen Hanna, formerly of the legendary Bikini Kill.
The first single from the fourth (and last until the band later reformed) Pixies album, this is the tale of an alien who picks up transmissions from Earth.
They head over to find the source, the “planet of sound”.
This is my most-played tune since I moved all my music into iTunes (now Apple Music) about 15 years ago - yet the version I play was never released.