Favorites from 2015

downloadGoodbye 2015!  Thanks for the swell music!   Thanks to Son and Daughter of Blailist for helping to compile this year’s list.  I was excited about the return of BLUR (my favorite album) and ROBERT FORSTER (7 years is too long between releases!)   Included is a little of everything that has rubbed off on me during the past year.

  1.  DAVID BOWIE  “Blackstar”  (single).  This was the teaser from the new Bowie which comes out in a week or so.  Many are saying it’s one of his best.  This is truly remarkable from a 69 yr old!


2.   BLUR  “Go Out”   (from The Magic Whip).


3.  SILICON  “God Emoji”  (from Silicon).  Kody Nielson is back!!


4.  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  “Multi-Love”  (from Multi-Love).  Brother Ruban Nielson is also back!!


5.  WAXAHATCHEE  “Under A Rock”  (from Ivy Tripp).    Good tone.


6.  THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION  “Bob Lennon John Dylan”  (from Give Up Your Dreams).


7.  SUSANNE SUNDFOR  “Fade Away”  (from Ten Love Songs).   Alice turned me on to this very good artist.


8.  TORRES  “Sprinter”  (from Sprinter).  In return, I turned Alice on to this.


9.  JUSTIN BEIBER  “What Do You Mean?”  (from Purpose).  Yup, this song made the list.  it’s a great pop song.


10.  BENJAMIN CLEMENTINE  “London”  (from At Least For Now).


11.  KENDRICK LAMAR  “King Kunta”  (from To Pimp A Butterfly).


12.  KAMASI WASHINGTON  “Leroy and Lanisha”  (from The Epic).  Oskar turned me on to this!


13.  PANDA BEAR  “Boys Latin”  (from Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper).  And this.


14.  GWENNO  “Chwyldro”  (from Y Didd Olaf).   I was right about THE PIPETTES all those years ago.


15.  C DUNCAN  “Garden”  (from Architect).


16.  ROBERT FORSTER  “Let Me Imagine You”  (from Songs To Play).


17.  RICHARD HAWLEY  “Heart Of Oak”  (from Hollow Meadows).   Hawley’s tribute to the great NORMA WATERSON.  My favorite song of the year from a great album through and through.


18.  COURTNEY BARNETT  “Pedestrian At Best”  (from Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit).


19.  LOS LOBOS  “Made To Break Your Heart”  (from Gates Of Gold).


20.  KACEY MUSGRAVES  “High Time”  (from Pageant Material).  I missed the boat on her first album but I guess she is the real deal.


21.  ALLISON MOORER  “Down To Believing”  (from Down To Believing).


22.  PAUL WELLER  “Pick It Up”  (from Saturn’s Pattern).   Is it me, or does MARTIN FREEMAN look really old in this video?


23.  HOLLY HERNDON  “Interference”  (from Platform).


24.  SUFJAN STEVENS  “Should Have Known Better”  (from Carrie and Lowell).


25.  BLUR  “There Are Too Many Of Us”   (from The Magic Whip).   Unlike other years, when I struggle to whittle the choices down, on first glance 2015 seemed kind of bleak. But then putting this together, and listening to this playlist, it actually seems kind of awesome.  I really liked the BLUR so we end with them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Allen Toussaint

atALLEN TOUSSAINT passed away this week.   I’m sure the first time I was aware of him was when I heard his great piano playing on ELVIS COSTELLO‘s “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror”.  Thanks to Elvis, I discovered the great ALLEN TOUSSAINT.  There is so much great music to be discovered by looking to our favorites and seeing where the chain reaction leads. With TOUSSAINT, I began to notice him on so many records.  I quickly learned how much great music he had his hand in, either as a producer or as a songwriter. This path of discovery has been repeated so many times for me, but TOUSSAINT’s was less a path and more like the Pacific Crest Trail – epic!  The trail led all over the place. His work as a producer can take the listeners in all different directions.  His songs were covered by so many people and provided hits to many of them.  His collaborations often blended genres.  His signature arrangements, sought out by other legends, enhanced so many recordings. Finally, there is his wonderful piano playing. Listen to TOUSSAINT’s “Tipitina and Me” and try not to go dig up some PROFESSOR LONGHAIR. TOUSSAINT leads you to so many places.

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed TOUSSAINT’s beloved New Orleans, TOUSSAINT was quoted as saying “I know that for anything this bad to happen, there has to be something just as good coming along to balance it out.” That’s a remarkably positive attitude to have in the wake of that tragedy but it makes sense when you hear some of TOUSSIANT’s lyrics. Songs like “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further” or “Yes We Can Can” both speak the truth and inspire hope. His legacy is wide reaching and his talents inspired so many but I will always return to where the trail started – his piano and his songs.

This is a great version of my favorite TOUSSAINT song, this is what I’m talking about.

Another great one.

I can’t stop – one more…

Posted in Music I Like | Leave a comment

The Sorcerer of the Guitar – Franco

FrancoArzoni1977AG335“World Music”.  Yuk.  The term puts music in a box and suggests the music is inaccessible.  It implies that you will probably have to work hard to get it – to understand and enjoy it – just because it’s from another part of the world.  DAVID BYRNE once wrote a piece for the NY Times in which he joked “world music” is a bin in the record store for all the stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere else in the store.  As I have written here many times before, I strongly feel music is music.  All genres owe each other for the ingredients that go into them.  It’s absurd that the western music business labeled music from other cultures as “world” to begin with.  So much of Rock n Roll came from the blues, and ethnomusicologists often point to evidence of that genre’s African origins.  So were the STONES and CREAM just covering world music?  I could go on forever but there are countless examples of this cross pollination and there always have been.  To some kid with a guitar in his hands growing up in Africa in the 1990s, JIMI HENDRIX or MARK KNOPFLER were exotic “world music”; and to some kid in Japan learning to play percussion in the 1970’s, BILL BRUFORD or STEWART COPELAND created exotic jazz influenced rhythms unheard in his taiko roots.  Fast forward to African guitarist BOMBINO working with members of BLACK KEYS and Japanese percussionist SHUICHI HIDANO gigging with long tenured L.A. studio musicians.  It’s not so much “world music” but a “world of music.”

I have been meaning to post about FRANCO (born Francois Luambo Luanzo Makiadi 1938-1989) for a few years.  He has been hailed as the “sorcerer of the guitar”, “the master of the Cogolese guitar” and, by some, because of his stature in African music, as the “James Brown of Africa.”  FRANCO was a guitar playing band leader, reluctant singer and genre inventing musician.  His influence on western music is grossly undervalued and overlooked.  With his bands (OK JAZZ and, later, TPOK JAZZ) playing a style called “soukous”, described by music critic Ted Gioia as “African music that came from Cuba”, FRANCO became the most popular African artist of the 1960s and 1970s.  FRANCO was born near Leopoldville in 1938 in what was then called the Belgian Congo.  Cuban music had infiltrated the Congo, likely through trade ports and the cultural mixing pot of the colonial era.  FRANCO spent time as a kid in the ports soaking up the influences and built his first guitar himself when he was 7 years old.  By 15 he had a recording contract and was a popular band leader.  Four decades later, his career had seen him hailed as a hero and cultural icon and had absorbed numerous scandals.  It’s quite a story.  (Google it)

Soukous music is buoyant and irresistible. FRANCO‘s bands from the late 1950s through the 1980s were mostly large ensembles playing these Congolese Rhumbas that were built around incredible guitar lines.  As a counterpoint to all the blues based playing that is so entrenched in rock and pop for the past 50 years, FRANCO and his style are fresh and, in contrast, sound happy and upbeat.  Although usually embedded deep into the songs, FRANCO‘s guitar always helps build the excitement of each song with a beautiful rhythmic “sebene”. The instrumental sebene is a bit like a guitar solo or a bridge that cranks the (already rhythmic, groove heavy) song up a notch to encourage the audience to dance.  Afterwards, the song usually returns to the Rhumba style.  After a crappy week at work, a little FRANCO snaps me right out of it.

I’ve included a few examples here:

FRANCO and Le T.P O.K. JAZZ – “Falaswa”


FRANCO and Le OK JAZZ – “Infidelite Mado”


FRANCO and Le T.P O.K JAZZ – “Alimatou”


For more, check out my FRANCO mix on Spotify too.

Posted in Guitars in my head, Music I Like | Leave a comment

Favorites of 2014

Although Blailist was relatively quiet this past year, I did find some groovy new music in 2014. Here is a playlist that includes the highlights for me. Included (as usual) are old favorites ROBYN HITCHCOCK, NEIL FINN and LUCINDA WILLIAMS who had a wonderful double album.  Some great new discoveries were KATE TEMPEST, ALVVAYS and KHUN NARIN’s ELECTRIC PHIN BAND.  But my favorite for the year bookends this playlist.  KAMI THOMPSON and JAMES WALBOURNE had quite a year with their album as the THE RAILS and their contribution to the THOMPSON FAMILY album.  Let’s have a listen, shall we?

thomp1.  THOMPSON  “Careful”   (from Thompson 2014)

This is one of KAMI‘s contributions to her brother TEDDY THOMPSON’s pet project of getting the band (or family) back together. For those who don’t know the story, TEDDY and KAMI were just children when British folk legends RICHARD AND LINDA THOMPSON split in the 80s.  The kid’s successful careers have further enhanced the reputation of their parents and have helped firmly establish the THOMPSON FAMILY as Britain’s first family of folk.  This is a very cool album featuring all things THOMPSON: LINDA’s classic voice, RICHARD, grandson guitar hero ZAC HOBBS, son (from second marriage) JACK THOMPSON’s snazzy bass playing, husband and wife KAMI and JAMES, sister MUNA, and other assorted THOMPSON relatives and contributions. Aside from great playing and singing, you get the sense of the competitiveness between the family members when it comes to songwriting. It’s great they got together but I hope they are all still talking…


luc2.  LUCINDA WILLIAMS “Protection”  (from Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone 2014).

Fantastic double album from LUCINDA. All her best rolled into one.


war3.  WAR ON DRUGS “Lost In The Dream” (from Lost In The Dream 2014).

Picked as best album of year on many lists, deservedly so. I, too, have jumped on the wagon.


bry4.  BRYAN FERRY “Loop Di Li”  (from Avonmore 2014).

BF is a revered old favorite, and this sounds like could have been on Boys and Girls.


elbow5.  ELBOW “New York Morning” (from The Takeoff And Landing Of Everything 2014).


download6.  NEIL FINN “Dizzy Heights”  (from Dizzy Heights 2014).

Another family affair.  This album was made basically by NEIL, wife SHARON, and sons LIAM and ELROY. I had the pleasure of seeing them in Boston in April. No LIAM but ELROY was there. NEIL had an absolutely fantastic band with lush harmonies and arrangements up and down those FINN and CROWDED HOUSE songs. It was one of the most inspiring shows I have ever seen.


nina7.  NINA PERSSON “Catch Me Crying”  (from Animal Heart 2014).

The ex-CARDIGANS singer made an excellent solo album this year.


jessie8.  JESSIE WARE “Say You Love Me”  (from Tough Love 2014).

Britain continues to find soulful singers that keep DUSTY and DIONNE fresh in our memories.  I dig ballads too so I have no problem with any of this.


robyn9.  ROBYN HITCHCOCK “The Ghost Of You”  (from The Man Upstairs 2014).

ROBYN HITCHCOCK has recently come back into focus for me.  Years ago, he was a college favorite of mine, he has apparently continued to put out great stuff all these years that I am now just discovering.  I like covers but I am usually wary of covers albums that show up late in a career (ROD STEWART) – it sometimes seems desperate. RH has the superpowers to pull it off. Who can imagine anything but the PSYCHEDELIC FURS‘ version?  Yet, somehow, this seems like the original. That’s pretty cool.


kate10. KATE TEMPEST “The Beigeness”  (from Everybody Down 2014).

I discovered her because she was nominated for Mercury Prize this year.


bp11.  THE BAD PLUS “Gold Prisms Incorporated”  (from Inevitable Western 2014).

We are short on jazz this year but this makes up for it.  No Jazz flute either, sorry.


ben12.  BEN WATT “Golden Ratio”  (from Hendra 2014).

One of the rare Blailist entires this year covered this album, his first solo in something like 25 years.  Very chill.


temples13.  TEMPLES “Shelter Song”  (from Sun Structures 2014).

Very Very Groovy.  This makes me wanna grow weird plants in my yard.


real14. REAL ESTATE “The Bend”  (from Atlas 2014).

More great things from Ridgewood NJ!


benhow15.  BEN HOWARD “End Of The Affair”  (from I Forget Where We Were 2014).

This performance sold me on listening to his second album.  What a great song.


alvvays16. ALVVAYS  “Archie Marry Me”  (from Alvvays 2014).

I consulted with the experts here and this could be classified as “dream pop”, sort of.


nickm17. NICK MULVEY  “Fever To The Form”  (from First Mind 2014).

This song needed to be included for the year.


rose18. ROSEANNE CASH “The Sunken Lands”  (from The River And The Thread 2014).

Great songwriter and great song from an album full of them and some fancy guitar by hubby JOHN LEVENTHAL.


sturg19.  STURGILL SIMPSON “Life Of Sin”  (from Metamodern Sounds In Country Music 2014).

If “Metamodern” means great tone and sounding like Waylon, then we could all stand to be a bit more metamodern.


rbtellis20. ROBERT ELLIS “Good Intentions”  (from The Lights From The Chemical Plant 2014).

Creepy Country music.  Kind of reminds me of JIMMIE DALE GILMOUR.  Skip ahead 40 seconds to miss the product promotion for the pre-amp, unless you are in the market for one, then hear the guy out and maybe you have found the pre-amp you are looking for.


eno21. ENO + HYDE “Daddy’s Car”  (from Someday World 2014).

BRIAN ENO and KARL HYDE (of UNDERWORLD) made two albums this year! This is from the first one, which is a bit more oriented towards the ENO-BYRNE stuff of years ago that many of us can’t get enough of. The album features WILL CHAMPION of COLDPLAY and ENO‘s old pal from ROXY MUSIC, ANDY MACKAY.


warpaint22. WARPAINT “Love Is To Die”  (from Warpaint 2014).

I like this version. I think I have those same drums in my garage.


khun23. KHUN NARIN ELECTRIC PHIN BAND “Sut Saanan #2”  (from Khun Narin Electric Phin Band 2014).

I can’t remember how I stumbled across this but the story goes someone found a You Tube video titled “Mind blowing psychedelia from Thailand” and then a LA record producer went to meet them in their remote village, and now I have their first album. There is still amazing things to discover out there.  Check out their other videos playing on plastic chairs in rural Thailand with a homemade generator for power.


david24. DAVID KILGOUR AND THE HEAVY EIGHTS  “Christopher Columbus” (from End Times Undone 2014).

New Zealand rocker who has been around for a long time, I discovered him a few years ago and am now a big fan.


rails25. THE RAILS  “William Taylor”  (from Fair Warning 2014).

And we wrap it up how we started.  Unlike when I blogged about them here earlier this year, THE RAILS can now be purchased and listened to in the US!  I can now push my British folk obsession on everyone I know.


Go to Spotify to listen to this public playlist: Blailist Favorites 2014 

Posted in Blailists, Music I Like | Leave a comment

2014 Mercury Prize Nominees

mercOk, time to check out some new music as selected by the Mercury Prize Committee.  The nominees for best British and Irish music make an interesting (and sort of diverse) play list:




1.  ANNA CALVI  “Eliza”  (from One Breath 2013).  This is her second nomination.  I can see why they like her so much.


2.  BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB  “Luna”  (from So Long, See You Tomorrow 2014).


3.  DAMON ALBARN  “Mr. Tembo”  (from Everyday Robots 2014).


4.   EAST INDIA YOUTH  “Dripping”  (from Total Strife Forever 2014).


5.  FKA TWIGS  “Two Weeks”  (from LP1 2014).


6.  GOGO PENGUIN  “Garden Dog BBQ”  (from V2.0 2013).  Whoa!  Jazz!


7.  JUNGLE  “Time”  (from Jungle 2014).


8.  KATE TEMPEST  “The Beigeness”  (from Everybody Down 2014).  This is awesome.


9.  NICK MULVEY  “Fever To The Form”  (from First Mind 2014).


10.  POLAR BEAR  “Be Free”  (from Each And Every One 2014).  Whoa, more jazz!


11.  YOUNG FATHERS  “Get Up”  (from Dead 2014).


12.  ROYAL BLOOD  “Out Of The Black”  (from Royal Blood 2014).


Posted in Blailists | Leave a comment

The Rails “Habit”

Whoa!  Has it really been months since my last post?  Well I’ll try to make up for in the coming weeks.  I stumbled across this by accident.  THE RAILS are KAMI THOMPSON and JAMES WALBOURNE.  KAMI, mentioned here before, is of course, RICHARD and LINDA‘s daughter.  And JAMES has been a member of SON VOLT, PERNICE BROTHERS and, more recently, his excellent guitar work has led him to be sideman for RAY DAVIES.

Frustratingly, one cannot easily purchase or obtain their recent album “Fair Warning” in the US.  So I keep hearing bits and pieces of the album and like what I have heard. This little gem, “Habit”, has been reworked by another guitar hero, BERNARD BUTLER.

Their Soundcloud has a few songs on it.  Note that Island record label. Pretty cool that KAMI shows up on that label almost 40 years after mum and dad’s classic (but possibly the label’s worst selling) albums came out.  Love it.

Posted in Album of the Month | Leave a comment

Some New Music

So far this year there has been some exciting releases by some of my old favorites and a few fun discoveries.  Here is a nice little playlist to sample:



1.  ELBOW  “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette”  (from The Take Off And Landing Of Everything  2014).  New ELBOW album is wonderful, as can be expected from these guys.  Also a great starting point place if you are not familiar with them.


2.  NEIL FINN  “DIzzy Heights”  (from Dizzy Heights  2014).  This is a great version of the title track to the new album, already fun to see how the lush album arrangements are paired down for live performance.  Nothing lost in the smaller arrangement.  Saw him in Boston this month.  What a pro and what a band!


3.  ST. VINCENT  “Birth in Reverse”   (from St. Vincent  2014).  This may be my favorite ST. VINCENT album so far.  Perhaps ANNIE CLARK has come to grips with the fact that she is a guitar hero.  I love the choreography in this performance, although the drummer gets off way too easy.


4.  BEN WATT  “Hendra”  (from Hendra  2014).  Just out, this is Watt’s first solo album in 30 years.  Of course he has been busy with EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, his DJ work and releases and penning two books in the interim.  This video is a beautiful version of the title track, featuring the great BERNARD BUTLER, whom I understand is touring with BW.  Almost makes me want a guitar with humbuckers… almost.


5.  LIAM FINN   “Snug As Fuck”  (from The Nihilist  2014).  How about “what the fuck?”   I am not sure what this is but I like it.  Happy Jubilancy Day.


6.  WARPAINT  “Love Is To Die”  (from Warpaint  2014).  One of my daughter’s favorites.  This is very good.


7.  NINA PERSSON  “Dreaming Of Houses”  (from Animal Heart  2014).  Former CARDIGANS songwriter and singer has a new solo album of well crafted pop.  Very clever and very catchy.


8.  ROSEANNE CASH “The Sunken Lands”  (from The River and The Thread  2014).  She describes how difficult it must have been to be her grandmother, but I can’t imagine the burden of being the Man in Black’s kid was much easier.   She is one of the most literate and poised songwriters in not just country music but, in all of music.


9.  LAURA CANTRELL “Starry Skies”  (from No Way There From Here  2014). With Radio Thrift Shop in hiatus, the Proprietress has crafted an excellent new record. I have seen this new album written about quite a bit and heard her featured on NPR and it’s nice to see her getting noticed in the media.  She is a country music historian whose music is becoming an important part of country music’s history.


10. GUY CLARK  “Cornmeal Waltz”  (from My Favorite Picture Of You  2013).  I love the the picture this song brings to mind.  Not that familiar with him, I know him from the periphery.  I know enough to know that this guy is the shit amongst songwriters, and not just Alt Country songwriters either.


11.  NEKO CASE  “Night Still Comes”  (from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You  2013).  Probably should have included in the best of 2013 list but I am not always on the same page as Ms. Case.  But now that I have spent more time with this album, I can easily see its charms.


12.  FRANK OCEAN feat. MICK JONES, PAUL SIMONON and DIPLO  “Hero”  (single  2014).   Hey, what about the chorus of kids?  I looked it up and they are the Los Angeles Children’s Choir.  Why no “feat.” for them??


13.  DAMON ALBARN  “Everyday Robots”  (from Everyday Robots  2014).  I like the video.  I usually hate videos but this is very interesting and does not distract from the song.


14.  TEMPLES  “Shelter Song”  (from Sun Structures  2014).   This is pretty cool.  Sounds like 1968.  These kids either found their parents Nuggets box set or their grandparents old records.


15.  JEREMY JAY  “Covered In Ivy”  (from Abandoned Apartments  2013).  I can’t remember how I stumbled across this guy but I just read he used to write film scores.


16.  BROKEN BELLS  “Holding On For Life”  (from After the Disco  2014).  JAMES MERCER of THE SHINS and DANGER MOUSE of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse.  Oh wait, that’s Minute Mouse.  His stuff sounds much different.


17.  THE RAILS   “Bonnie Portmore”  (from forthcoming album Fair Warning 2014).  THE RAILS are KAMI THOMPSON and JAMES WALBOURNE.  KAMI is RICHARD and LINDA‘s kid and TEDDY‘s sister.  James is a great guitarist, most recently backing up RAY DAVIES, who is no slouch.


Follow Blailist on Spotify and you can listen along.  (Spotify did not have LIAM FINN or THE RAILS yet).

Posted in Blailists | Leave a comment

Bedsit Disco Queen Playlist

I recently read TRACEY THORN‘s excellent book Bedsit Disco Queen, How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star.  THORN is not just a gifted lyricist, but a great story teller as well.   And her story makes for a great read and a great playlist.

This is a great story, two stories actually.  First, Tracey describes her suburban childhood experience, and tells the tale of how the punk movement of the late 70’s could grab the attention of a shy music-loving kid and infuse her with the DIY mindset that anything is possible.  This DYI ethos really provided a catalyst for profound changes in music of the time (both changes in genres and the way the music business worked).  Tracey describes her story with punk as the initial backdrop, providing characters and the attitude that made what she did later possible.  Listening to her first band, MARINE GIRLS, and her later solo work for Cherry Red Records, punk hardly comes to mind when describing the hushed, direct approach of these early recordings.  Folk, Bossa Nova, or Jazz maybe, but not punk.  However, it was that punk attitude that inspired her and so many around her in suburban London and that attitude could be applied to whatever style you wanted to play.  The story of how she became involved with independent label Cherry Red (with its likeminded, diverse group of artists including THE RUNAWAYS and KEVIN COYNE), the influence BEN WATT and others musicians have on her make for a compelling narrative and an interesting diverse playlist.  At the start, we see punk’s great influence, shaking up the entire music industry at the time.   And that story continues through the lens of Tracey and Ben’s 80’s and 90’s experiences in the music industry.   Tracey watches as the DIY ethos fades around them, even with some of their contemporaries and influences, but the skepticism and desire to be original and true to themselves for the most part stays intact.  And every once in a while, even with their skeptical disposition towards the music business, their work overlaps into the big record company world of pop music hits (for example, “Missing” from Amplified Heart 1994).

A second story is Tracey and Ben’s fascinating personal journey: how they met, stayed together all those years and made music together for much of that time.  Especially interesting is the influences they bring to each other along the way.  The stories of their contemporaries and friends during this same period of time (THE GO BETWEENS, THE SMITHS, THE JAM) could (and have) filled volumes themselves.  But Tracey is a gifted and honest storyteller with an acute eye.  This is not name dropping but, rather, a great perspective on some other impressive careers.  The tale winds up where it starts, with Ben telling Tracey in an Australian hotel that he just received a call asking how they would like to open for U2?

I have been especially fond of Tracey’s return to music in the past decade, including her wonderfully well crafted and mature albums (Out of the Woods 2007, Love and Its Opposite 2010, and Tinsel and Lights 2012).  This book is a delightful backstory that provides a great companion to the music of her entire career and confirms TRACEY THORN‘s importance in British pop music.  As the playlist shows, there is a lot going on here.   The soundtrack to this story makes for some wonderful music.


1.  SEX PISTOLS  “Liar”  (from Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols 1977).  Tracey describes how, as a young girl, her journal and attitude transforms after seeing the Pistols on Top of the Pops.  “I had finally had my socks blown off.”


2.  THE CLASH  “White Riot”  (from The Clash  1978).   “Fantastic, I luv ’em.”

3.  THE JAM  “In The City”  (from In the City  1978).  An early influence, later THE STYLE COUNCIL will really help put EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL on the map of British pop.


4.  SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES  “Carcass”  (from The Scream  1978).  One of Tracey’s female punk heros.

5.  MARINE GIRLS  “A Place In The Sun”  (from Lazy Ways 1983).  Tracey’s first real band is not really a band but three girls with a strong DIY attitude and clever songs written by TT.

6.  MARINE GIRLS  “Honey”  (from Beach Party 1981).  Tracey gets the courage to start singing and the rest is history.


7.  KEVIN COYNE  “Love In Your Heart”  (from Beautiful Extremes Et Cetera  1983). Cherry Red label mate.  Coyne is an example of an artist who was revitalized by the punk movement and found a new label home with independent minded artists.  Coyne ends up producing Ben.

8.  TRACEY THORN  “Plain Sailing”  (from A Distant Shore  1982).  Early TT before EBTG really got going.

9.  JOHN MARTYN  “Solid Air”  (from Solid Air  1973).  At college in Hull, Tracey meets Ben and his record collection, which blows her mind again.

10.  THE DURUTTI COLUMN  “For Belgian Friends”  (from LC  1981).  Ben describes his music to Tracey as The Durutti Column with songs.  Pretty obscure now, but pretty interesting.

11.  BILL EVANS  “Waltz For Debbie”  (from Waltz For Debbie  1961).  A strong influence for EBTG was jazz artists like Bill Evans.

12.  BEN WATT AND ROBERT WYATT  “Walter And John”  1982  (from Pillows and Prayers Vol 1 & 2, Cherry Red 1982-1984).  Pretty impressive that Ben could record with such an icon as Robert Wyatt.


13.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “Night and Day”  1982  (Ambition Vol 1 & 2  the History of Cherry Red Records).  This cover of the COLE PORTER classic catches the eye of PAUL WELLER, who wants to go in a jazzy direction after the demise of THE JAM.

14.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “On My Mind”  (from Pillows and Prayers Vol 1 & 2, Cherry Red 1982-1984).  Ben and Tracey are, by now, a working duo, each contributing their own songs to EBTG.

15.  THE STYLE COUNCIL  “The Paris Match”  (from Cafe Bleu  1984).  Weller plucks EBTG, to contribute to this jazzy song.  This is sure a long way from recording with your girlfriends in a shed (Marine Girls) just a few years earlier.

16.  THE SMITHS  “This Charming Man”  (from The Smiths  1984).  Early on, EBTG gets a lot of encouraging support from Moz and Tracey ends up following The Smiths around on tour.

17.  THE GO BETWEENS  “Right Here”  (from Tallulah  1987).   Tracey forms a close bond with LINDY MORRISON, the drummer for the Go Betweens, and like the rest of us, cannot understand why this band did not become widely known.

18.  DUSTY SPRINGFIELD  “Don’t Forget About Me”  (from Dusty In Memphis  1969).  A big influence on Tracey.

19.  FAIRPORT CONVENTION  “Genesis Hall”  (from Cropredy 1990).  Ok, this is not just a cheap opportunity for me to slip a little RICHARD THOMPSON in.  When EBTG is invited to play the Cropredy Festival in the mid 1990s, Tracey is impressed by how DAVE PEGG runs the Fairport operation from a computer in his kitchen.  On the surface it seems like different worlds, but it really does work well together, especially when you hear Fairport’s DAVE MATTACKS and DANNY THOMPSON provide the rhythm section on Amplified Heart (1994).

20.  MASSIVE ATTACK feat. TRACEY THORN  “Protection”  (from Protection 1994).  Tracey wrote the words, this collaboration turns out to be a pivotal point in EBTG’s career.

21.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “Missing”  (from Amplified Heart  1994). Huge, huge hit.


22.  JEFF BUCKLEY   “I Know It’s Over”  (from So Real  2007).   Ben and Tracey play their first Glastonbury with special guest Buckley on a classic Smith’s cover.  From Tracey’s description, this is probably a significantly more polished version.

23.  TRACEY THORN  “Nowhere Near”  (from Out Of The Woods  2007).  Tracey’s welcome return to recording after almost a decade.


24.  BEN WATT  “Guinea Pig”  (from Buzzing Fly Anthology Vol 4  2009).  Ben’s post EBTG work has focused on his Buzzing Fly label and club and his work as a remixer, radio presenter and DJ.  But I am happy to report we can expect a new solo album in April.

Posted in Blailists | Leave a comment

Favorites from 2013

Another new year, another chance to look back on the past year’s music.  Looking back, 2013 featured many new releases from established artists which may have pushed some of the new stuff we discovered to the side.  I tried to mix it up and, like in past years, limit the list to 25.  The list reflects favorite albums so I have selected a song from each album that stood out.  (One artist has two selections – my favorite album of the year and the album I listened to the most).  This list is also on Spotify, if you prefer not to read on and be distracted by videos.  It makes for a great playlist to put on while you ponder your new years resolutions.

1.  DAVID BOWIE  “The Next Day”  (from The Next Day). This album was a surprise, as there was no media hype preceding it’s release.  The album played a big part in the development of a new bona-fide Bowie fan around here.  Having spent much of the past year rediscovering his entire catalog, I think The Next Day ranks up there on the strength of it’s songs and sound.



2.  LAURA MVULA  “Green Garden”  (from Sing To The Moon). What a pleasant discovery this beautiful album was.  It’s full of adventurous vocals and numerous musical styles and is fun to listen to.




3.  HAIM  “Don’t Save Me”  (from Days Are Gone).  I read that these three were basically pros from an early age, heavily influenced by their parents, who were also musicians. This album owes a lot to the artists their parents had turned them on to.  I do hear Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, some new wave and other stuff in there.  It is undeniably great pop music that I have no problem hearing played to death on the radio.



4.  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)”  (from II).  From New Zealand and Portland, Ruban Nielson‘s band creates quirky pop songs that are lightly coated with sprinkles of psychedelia.  I guess.




5.  DISCLOSURE  “When A Fire Starts To Burn”  (from Settle). British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence.  This is just a great song.  Primarily electronic, this album is more dance-y than chill out.




6.  JON HOPKINS  “We Disappear”  (from Immunity). Nominated for the Mercury Prize, this is more chill out than dance-y.





7.  DAFT PUNK  “Giorgio By Moroder”  (from Random Access Memories).  This is such a phenomenal song. Moroder’s voice over and the story behind “the click” is perfectly complimented by the track that builds and builds.  Love the drums at the end.




8.  JOHNNY MARR  “New Town Velocity”  (from The Messenger).   Mentioned here before, this is a great debut album from a legendary guitarist and songwriter.  Repeated listens reveal the layers of care and craft that went into these songs.   Great hooks to add to his already impressive collection.




9.  RADIATION CITY  “Zombies”  (from Animals in the Median).   Do not know much about these guys and gals but I dig the catchy retro sound and the harmonies drenched in washes of reverb.





10.  SAM PHILLIPS  “When I’m alone”  (from Push Any Button).  Sam Phillips is a treasure.  This is her best album in years, possibly since Martinis and Bikinis.  Please check out any Sam Phillips if you are not familiar with her.





11.  RY COODER AND CORRIDOS FAMOSOS  “Vigilante Man”  (from Live in San Francisco).  This album is a real treat.  It features songs from throughout Cooder’s great career. Cooder has served as America’s premier musicologist and this album shows his versatility and varied interests.  It features plenty of tasty guitar work as well as awesome guests (FLACO JIMENEZ and LA BANDA JUVENIL).  The video is not the best quality but listen as the audience gets into it as Cooder gives them what they came for. (Then check out the great sound of the album recording on my Spotify list, or just go buy the album and support the artist).



12.  GREGORY PORTER  “Liquid Spirit”  (from Liquid Spirit).  Some Jazz, some torch, some blues.  Porter’s voice carries it all off.





13.  PATTY GRIFFIN  “Wild Old Dog”   (from American Kid). I don’t ever want to take a Patty Griffin release for granted.  This year the elusive Silver Bell was also released after a decade in limbo and for a while, I was smitten with the band arrangements and more raucous material on that album.  But at the core of all of Patty Griffin’s considerable power are the songs and the achingly beautiful voice, both of which are prominently featured on American Kid.  “God is a wild old dog”.



14.  BRUCE ROBISON AND KELLY WILLIS  “Cheater’s Game”  (from Cheaters Game).  Sure they are both great songwriters and alt-country heros but this does not sound like the cheesy married couple album in any way (George and Tammy, anyone?).  There was a lot of good country music this year from newer artists (KACEY MUSGRAVES, ASHLEY MONROE, BRANDY CLARK) but it is reassuring to hear the old dogs still have it.  Dogs may not be the right word?



15.  STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES  “That All You Got?”  (from The Low Highway). Another artist I do not want to take for granted.  He has been so good for so long.  Back doing his own songs and recorded with the Dukes, this is a very good Steve Earle record.




16.  AOIFE O’DONOVAN  “Fire Engine”  (from Fossils).  Another new country-ish discovery.  Late this year I became smitten with alt-country again, and I haven’t even mentioned great new albums by NEKO CASE or CAITLIN ROSE yet.




17.  JASON ISBELL  “Stockholm”  (from Southestern).  This is a very impressive album from the former DRIVE BY TRUCKER.  Mature songs and fantastic voice.  This cool video really highlights the voice.




18.  BOMBINO  “Amidinine”  (from Nomad).   My fondness for African guitar has been documented here before. Bombino is a recent discovery.  This album is produced by BLACK KEYS’ DAN AUERBACH and is full of good gritty desert guitar.




19.  THE NATIONAL  “Demons”  (from Trouble Will Find Me).   Another strong effort from The National.  Smart songs and more direct than ever.  They seem to be getting better with each album.




20.  LINDA THOMPSON  “As Fast As My Feet”  (from Won’t Be Long Now).  Linda’s latest is like a great big party, attended by all her folk music pals as well as the whole family.  It features ex RICHARD, kids TEDDY, KAMI and MUNA THOMPSON, friends MARTIN CARTHY and DAVE SWARBRICK.  It even has her kids friends on it (AMY HELM) and a grandkid (ZAC HOBBS).  A wonderful collection of songs (her own and from great songwriters like RON SEXSMITH) live up to the hype that a rare Linda Thompson album brings.



21.  LAURA VEIRS  “Sun Song”  (from Warp And Weft). Talked about this previously.  To sum up, another excellent album from Laura Veirs.





22.  LUCIUS   “Turn It Around”  (from Wildewoman).   This album is great start to finish, full of bright fun indie pop.  This may be the best find of the year.





23.  VAMPIRE WEEKEND  “Obvious Bicycle”  (from Modern Vampires Of The City). Very impressive third album.  My only complaint is this should have been the last song.  It sounds like a last song.




24.  GOLDFRAPP  “Thea”  (from Tales Of Us).  Lovely, hushed, atmospheric… almost acoustic.   Goldfrapp seems to have settled into a nice pattern of alternating an electro-dance pop album with quieter albums that require more focused listening.  I like them both.




25.  DAVID BOWIE  “Where Are We Now?”  (from The Next Day).   Back where we started.  Again, even with all the monumental work he has created in his career, this is a great album. It is what Bowie should sound like now, allowed to create great songs that pull from all aspects of his past work but free from having to bear the weight of shape shifter and trend setter.  Just let the guy make great music and stop comparing it to another time. Frankly, this is a great song for any time.


Posted in Blailists | Leave a comment

Something for the Season: NICK LOWE “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family”

Every year I try to resist the barrage of hype, try to keep it simple and just slide through the season. But last night I heard this album, and BLAMMO!  Today I am pulling out the extension cords and scouring the basement for those stupid lights! This straightened my head right out and my heart grew three sizes.  This album is awesome.  Check it out, get in the spirit, and then… go buy stuff!!

NICK LOWE “Children Go Where I Send Thee.”  Now, that’s a carol.


NICK LOWE “Christmas At The Airport”   A new Christmas Classic.


NICK LOWE “A Dollar Short of Happy”

Posted in Album of the Month | Leave a comment