A lot has been happening this week on the little island of Singapore. It’s not often that your journey to work gets disrupted by a North Korean dictator. Well unless you live in Pyongyang, where it’s probably a daily event. Then again if you do live in Pyongyang and you are reading this… Welcome friend, this is the Internet. It’s the largest and most disruptive communication tool since humans first crawled out of the swamps and started calling each other Keith and Julia. It gives a voice to anyone with a connection and enables the rapid spread of information, with an ability to improve the quality of human life across the planet through the unbiased sharing of knowledge. In the developed world we mainly use it for sharing videos of cats and selling pornography. Maybe you can do better. This small corner of the Internet is dedicated to sharing chunks of musical pleasure loosely coupled to a random theme. I hope you enjoy.
You can be assured that I have a number of opinions on the weeks events, but this is not the forum for that conversation. Here we talk about music, no politics or negative rants. It’s a happy safe place and this week it’s raining. The rains in Singapore have arrived and seem to be taunting me by disruption of my out-door pursuits (…drinking beer in the sun). So I am defying the rain by embracing my indoor pursuits (…drinking beer inside) and delving back into the catalogue for rainy songs. This was a hard fought list. I could have easily done the lazy thing and given you Umbrella by Riahanna and Monsoon by Robbie Williams. Travis’ hit Why does it always rain on me nearly made it, which gives an indication of how bad things got. On top of that, I’ve been gently kicking myself that I used Raindrops.. on last weeks list. Finally I pulled these bedraggled four out of the deluge and I think you will be happy. I am.
First up is James and Sometimes. When I think of James there is a vision in my head of floppy haired Tim Booth spinning around on stage, dressed in some something floral, compelling everyone to sit down. Nowadays he looks more Ben Kingsley, but I believe is still performing (mainly in hats). Rarely do you see anyone put quite as much energy into his act. (Tim that is not Sir Ben, although I’m sure he would disagree.) In the video to this song Mr Booth is chest deep in water – but still spinning like a relentless dervish. I love the song and the lyrics. They hold a strong memory for me and probably a lot of young men and women who were in their mid teens, bumbling awkwardly between hormones and emotions, when this was released. Good storm song too..
Next – Riders on the Storm from The Doors of course. Wikipedia describes this track as a psychedelic rock song, which does quite fit in my opinion. However, perhaps any song with more than a smear of Fender Rhodes is instantly shoe horned into that category. This has more than a smear. Ray Manzarack’s gorgeous extended Rhodes solo on this track complete with the sound of rain and thunder is to behold. Seven minutes is not quite long enough.
Somehow in the last few years the Astrud Gilberto back catalogue has made its way onto the chain store playlist. Every craft butchery, boutique tool shop and artisanal lighting warehouse has been pulling out tunes by this 1960’s Brazilian singer in an attempt to appear switched on. I’ve known this music all my life, the music and the singer being a favourite of my father. She has a raw quality which he described to me as; sounding if she had just been pulled up on stage by the house band, fresh from serving as a waitress in some dingy little side street jazz bar. She probably feels she had a little more professional preparation for her career, but it is the understated, under produced quality to her voice that makes it so enduring. The Gentle Rain was written and composed by Luiz Bonfá and sung by Gilberto among many others. This version is a remix by musician RJD2 and is one of many deftly re-arranged tracks on the ‘Verve remixed’ series of albums, which I can highly recommend. The original is beautiful, but was a little too sombre for this list.
Finally, I dug out this handsome number by Lamb from their 4th studio album ‘Between Darkness and Wonder’ released in 2003 – yes 15 years ago. My friend Chris pointed out at the time that the best tracks on the album are actually between the song title ‘Darkness’ and the 2004 single ‘Wonder’ which may or may not be coincidence.. Till the Clouds Clear sits snugly in this pocket and is a good representation of Lamb’s signature ethereal sound. Slowly building like a storm with Lou Rhodes’ voice (an acquired taste, but a worthy acquisition) bringing the full force, before ebbing away to gentle guitar. Calm after the storm.
This TV ad from about 10 years ago came to mind whilst I was looking for these songs. apologies for the gratuitous advertising – please feel free to buy me a Golf GTI after watching this.