If you’re a regular Theme Park listener you’ll know that I have what they call an ‘eclectic’ taste in music. And it comes in handy when you’re putting together a show each week on random themes, I tell you! This week, just to prove that I do listen to new music, I decided that I would bring you songs from my favourite albums of 2010. So no nostalgia this week, all new music and a look-see at what arrived in my Xmas stocking, all 23 albums! Thank you Santa!
Here’s my rationale for how I devised my list: It’s the age of the singles download, but there are just some albums that you can’t cherry pick from. My list represents those albums: the ones that work best when listened to as a whole experience. Having said that, it is only a two hour program, so a choice had to be made about what singles to play from those albums. So, here goes:
Caribou, otherwise known to his Mama as Daniel Victor Snaith, is a mathematician by trade who, in his spare time, delivers beautiful and captivating electronic music. His 2010 album Swim is the first of my favourites and we opened the show with the track ODESSA. Even if you’re not an electronica fan, (and I’m not particularly), this album successfully crosses over and appeals to almost everyone who listens to it.
Next on my list the album Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz. Hard to pick one track from this incredibly diverse album. It was a toss-up between MELANCHOLY HILL and SUPERFAST JELLYFISH, featuring Gruff Rhys and De La Soul. The chance to also play some De La Soul put the latter track on the list in the end. And, I’ve got to say, I’m very jealous of anyone who saw Gorillaz on their recent Plastic Beach tour!
One of the most beautiful songs of the year is PIECES by the Irish band Villagers. Singer Conor O’Brien totally rocks. The song is from their debut album Becoming a Jackal. Check out this live performance from their very first headline show in 2009. Amazing.
My favourite video clip of the year goes to Janelle Monae for TIGHTROPE. It’s from the album The ArchAndroid which is nothing if not ambitious. The album was a very nice surprise indeed. Featuring everything from power ballads right through to the ferocious energy of her signature dance tracks, this is one hot album. Here’s the clip that has garnered so much YouTube attention:
Another surprise favourite for me was Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It finally convinced me of this guy’s talent. I’ll try and overlook his arrogance for the sake of the music and some of his fine collaborators. One of the best tracks features Ben Iver and its called LOST IN THE WORLD.
Down the Way by Angus & Julia Stone was the biggest-selling Australian album of 2010, and it certainly shows the growing maturity of this brother and sister duo. BIG JET PLANE is the standout track from this album.
Another great Aussie group is You Am I. Their best record in more than a decade is self titled. My favourite track is the second single of that album, TRIGGER FINGER. The clip features Lanie Lane who also supplied backing vocals.
I’m a big fan of the soulful voice of Ray LaMontagne. His 2010 album with the Prairie Dogs, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise has a number of great tracks on it. Here he performs BEG STEAL OR BORROW in the studios of Oui FM in France.
Another exquisite song is RUBY from the album Ali and Toumani, released in February 2010. It’s a series of duets from two of Africa’s most distinguished musicians, the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure and kora player Toumani Diabate.
The same kind of purity can be found in a completely different genre by a group called Mountain Man. They’re actually an all girl trio from Vermont who recorded their album Made the Harbor in a disused ice-cream parlour. The whole album is mostly a capella, which just goes to show that the voice really is the ultimate instrument. We played their sublime version of HOW’M I DOIN’.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who thinks that Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy is completely underrated as a singer and a songwriter. This band has been around for about 20 years and yet we’re almost a secret society of fans. Hopefully their latest album Bang Goes the Knighthood will get them the recognition they deserve.
The Roots have also been around a while, 1987 to be exact, and HOW I GOT OVER is their 11th album. They’re all great albums, but this one is possibly their best:
Despite already declaring that I’m not a big electronica fan, here’s another electronica album in my 2010 faves: LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening album can’t be overlooked. I CAN CHANGE is one of the best tracks from the album. Thank God for Jools Holland (what a great show btw). Here’s a great clip from that show:
The Vampire Weekend’s album Contra came out just in time for my birthday in January 2010. Here’s the very energetic track COUSINS from that album:
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released a very Bluesy album called Mojo this year which I really love. I particularly like their version of the old standard CANDY.
At the other end of the spectrum, Danger Mouse got together with James Mercer to invent a new group called Broken Bells. They released their first album together in 2010. Here they are performing THE HIGH ROAD, from that self-titled album, at Lowlands 2010.
Two more albums that I’ve been listening to non-stop this year are Arcade Fire’s THE SUBURBS and The Black Keys album BROTHERS. Here are the Black Keys performing I’M HOWLIN FOR YOU from that album, on Jools Holland:
A new discovery for me late in the year was Diane Birch. She released her first album, Bible Belt, in 2009 and the EP Velveteen Age just before Xmas this year. She’s only in her mid twenties but wow, what a voice.
And talking of great voices, soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples released a wonderful album this year called YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy who also wrote two of the songs on the album. Two of my all time favourite artists on one album. Heaven. Here’s a sample of what we’ll be seeing at the upcoming Byron Blues Fest in April. I, for one, cannot wait!
Ex Czars frontman, John Grant, gives a substantial nod to Supertramp and Bread on his debut album, Queen of Denmark. But hey, who else is doing that kind of material these days? The track I WANNA GO TO MARZ features the band Midlake and its a beautiful song based on Grant’s own childhood experience of escaping to the local sweet shop. In his own words, the song “is a gateway back to childhood and innocence before things have become complicated.”
A band that also sounds a lot like a few bands of the 70’s is The Russians. But gee, what a great job they do of it. Their album Crashing The Party is full of retro power pop/rock melodies. Sort of like Big Star, but , (dare I say it?) better.
We finished up with the song that’s been on everyone’s lips this year, Cee-Lo Green’s F**CK YOU. I had to play the clean version for radio, of course, which he conveniently included on his Lady Killer album as FORGET YOU. This album is more than the sum of its parts, that’s for sure. With its deliberate nods to Motown, 80’s soul and classic pop, its right up my alley. Hey, you’ve seen the official F**CK YOU clip a million times, (well, actually 33 million hits on YouTube!). So here he is, with his rockin’ all girl band on Later with Jools Holland (have I said already that I absolutely love this show?).
Next week will be the first show of the new year! I’ll be welcoming band Orkestra del Sol into the studio. They’re from the UK and are touring Australia. Think big band with lotsa high energy swinging sounds with flavours from the Balkans, Oompah, Gypsy and New Orleans. Should be fun. AND the theme will be the show will be MULTILINGUAL SONGS, by which I mean songs that have at least two languages in the lyrics. Any suggestions? Then leave me a message here!
Here’s the playlist, and accordingly, my favourite albums of 2010 (in no particular order):
Odessa – Swim, Caribou
Superfast Jellyﬁsh Ft. Gruff Rhys & De La Soul – Plastic Beach, Gorillaz
Pieces – Becoming A Jackal, Villagers
Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) – The ArchAndroid (Deluxe), Janelle Monáe
Lost In The World (feat. Bon Iver) – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Big Jet Plane – Down The Way, Angus & Julia Stone
Trigger Finger – You Am I, You Am I
Beg Steal or Borrow – God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise, Ray LaMontagne/Pariah Dogs
Ruby – Ali & Toumani, Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté
How’m I Doin – Made the Harbor, Mountain Man
The Lost Art Of Conversation – Bang Goes The Knighthood, The Divine Comedy
How I Got Over – How I Got Over, The Roots Feat. Dice Raw
I Can Change – This Is Happening, LCD Soundsystem
Cousins – Contra [Bonus Tracks], Vampire Weekend
Candy – Mojo, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
The High Road – Broken Bells, Broken Bells
The Suburbs – The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
Howlin’ for You – Brothers, The Black Keys
This Corrosion – The Velveteen Age, Diane Birch
You Are Not Alone – You Are Not Alone, Mavis Staples
I Wanna Go to Marz – Queen of Denmark, John Grant
Sober and Un-upsetting – Crashing the Party, The Russians
Forget You – The Lady Killer, Cee Lo Green
Next week: MULTILINGUAL SONGS
You’re born, you learn, you work, you may reproduce and then you die. That’s pretty much it. But being human, we’re designed to question, argue and seek meaning in our life. We don’t all want the same thing: the kind-hearted want an explanation for poverty and suffering; the ambitious try to rise above everyone else and if you’re depressed you may be looking for a reason to even get out of bed in the morning. Yes, life’s a puzzle and I’m not sure that there are any definite answers. But songwriters can’t help themselves. Like all artists they’re fascinated by life’s mysteries.
HAPPY TALK, by jazz greats Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, is a great example of a Life Lesson song. Yeah, if you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true? My dream for the next two weeks, at least, is that our wonderful community radio station, BayFM 99.9, gets as many annual subscriptions as possible because we’re in full Major Subscriber Drive mode at the moment. It made for a really busy show which was also loads of fun.
We got the show moving with one of my favourite artists. It’s a song that has one of the best messages, especially for an optimist like me: YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT by Jimmy Cliff. Here he is perfoming the song with the Jools Holland Rythymn & Blues Band:
My choice of a Bob Marley song, and there were a few with life lesson lyrics to choose from, was his energetic attack on religions – the ones that neglect to preach “what life is worth”. The song, of course, is GET UP STAND UP.
Bob Dylan has a great life lesson song: DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALRIGHT. Something I didn’t have to thinktwice about was the opportunity to work with Camp Quality over the next two weeks of BayFM’s Subscriber Drive. Camp Quality is a fantastic organisation that supports children suffering from cancer. They believe that laughter is the best medicine and so they aim to bring optimism and happiness to these children and their families. Jana Ayre, who volunteers for Camp Quality in the Northern Rivers co-hosted the show with me this week, because we had a very special prize for Theme Park listeners who subscribe to the station before August 29th.
Thanks to Possum Creek Eco Lodge in the hinterland of Byron Bay, we are offering a Camp Quality family a respite break. This holiday will be donated in one lucky subscriber’s name and that subscriber then receives the tax deduction for the donation. It’s a fantastic prize, based on kindness and community spirit – and you can’t get better than that! If you’re reading this and are inspired to subscribe and help keep community radio alive, whether you live in the Northern Rivers or not, just go online to http://www.bayfm.org and follow the prompts. Don’t forget to cite Theme Park as your favourite program!
Someone who did call in during the show to subscribe was a new resident in Byron, David Bridge. And he gets a special mention here because he also requested a terrific life lesson song for the show: UP THE JUNCTION from Squeeze. Thank you David! Now, this is how to write a complete story about everyone’s life in a little over 3 minutes:
Another goodie from our British songwriters is ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF from The Streets, known to his Mum as Mike Skinner. Check it out:
I became a big fan of The Drive By Truckers when they appeared at the Byron Blues Festival a couple of years back. I even bought the t-shirt (now that’s commitment!). They do a great Life Lesson song – most people share the experience described by singer Patterson Hood and his 83-year-old friend on WORLD OF HURT: “To love is to feel pain.” The lesson here, I think, is to accept that pain can also be a positive thing.
De La Soul have a different kind of lesson. They reckon that sometimes you just have to TREAD WATER. They use cartoon creatures to get the message across. Very cute.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK N ROLL STAR? Well, the Byrds have some advice for you: All you have to do is get an electric guitar, take some time and learn how to play? Sounds easy enough. But maybe life is like that: Practice makes perfect.
Midway through the show the lovely Gaudi from a new restaurant in Byron, Italian at the Pacific, came in to draw the daily prize for one lucky subscriber. The prize, a day with the chef of the restaurant and dinner for 8 people was won by Craig McGregor whose daughter Claire is a regular contributor to the show (sorry couldn’t fit in Coward of the Country this week Claire!) and another daughter Sarah, a fantastic musician. So I know that this big family will absolutely love this brilliant prize.
THAT LUCKY OLD SUN, by Dean Martin, our weather song for today was suggested by Andrew who also subscribed again this year on Theme Park, so thank you so much for supporting BayFM Andy.
Next up it was a double dose of Ska: Jools Holland and Prince Buster with ENJOY YOURSELF and Dandy Livingstone with RUDY, A MESSAGE TO YOU.
Lots of subscribers ringing in by this stage (thank you one and all!), so I thought a great piece of disco was appropriate ’cause my spirit was uplifted by all the support. The song is one that really speaks to me: YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE from Candi Staton. Here she is with a 1999 re-recording and video of her 1976 classic:
I think that QUE SERA, SERA (“whatever will be, will be”) has to be the ultimate Life Lesson song, don’t you? Look, I know that Doris Day pretty much owns this tune but the version we played this week was by Sly & The Family Stone. I was feeling in a funky mood, you see.
One of many suggestions from regular contributor Robyn had to be included, if only because it’s title was perfect: LIFE’S LESSONS from Lynyrd Skynyrd. And then it was one for Frank Zappa fanatic, Hudson: COSMIK DEBRIS:
Our major prize for those subscribing this year is an amazing trip to Broome and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s in conjunction with the environmental group, Save The Kimberley. A great supporter of this cause is musician Xavier Rudd. And a great song with a life lesson, that he does so well, is BETTER PEOPLE.
Robyn had another request for a perfect Life Lesson song: DON’T STOP BELIEVING from Journey. So the least I can do is upload the video clip:
We closed the show with a classic: “You have to know when to hold em, you have to know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. Yep, Kenny Rogers with THE GAMBLER. There was just a little bit of time, too, for a snatch of the Stones with YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT. So because we didn’t get to play it all the way through, I’ll give them their due here. Check out a very young David Frost and an even younger Rolling Stones performing live in 1969:
Thanks to Jana from Camp Quality for coming in and helping host the show this week and to the many listeners who rang to subscribe. Thank you for your support of BayFM, Theme Park and Camp Quality. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, there is still time to get involved in this particular promotion. Just go to the BayFM website at: http://www.bayfm.org and follow the prompts to subscribe. You can also listen to the show online, there, as well.
I’d also love to hear from you with your requests for next week’s show when the topic will be THE ENVIRONMENT. You may be surprised at how many great songs there are on this topic, from all genres. I think this is going to be a very special show.
Here’s this week’s full playlist:
Happy Talk – Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley,
You Can Get It If You Really Want – The Harder They Come, Soundtrack, Jimmy Cliff
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers (incl. Peter Tosh)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Best Of Bob Dylan
You’ve Got To Learn – Family/Friends/French Lesson, Nina Simone
Up The Junction – Singles, Squeeze
On The Edge Of A Cliff – Everything Is Borrowed, The Streets
A World Of Hurt – A Blessing And A Curse, Drive By Truckers
Tread Water – Feet High And Rising, De La Soul
So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – Byrds/20 Essentia,l The Byrds
That Lucky Old Sun – All Time Greats Vol 3 – The People, Dean Martin (Weather song for this week)
Enjoy yourself – Best Sellers, Jools Holland & Prince Buster
Rudy, A Message To You – This Is Ska!: 16 Original Ska Classics, Dandy Livingstone
Young Hearts Run Free – 54, Vol. 1, Candi Staton
Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be) – Take The Lead (Soundtrack), Sly And The Family Stone
Life’s Lessons – Vicious Cycle, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Cosmik Debris – Apostrophe, Frank Zappa
Better People – White Moth, Xavier Rudd
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 2] The Rolling Stones
Next week: THE ENVIRONMENT
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time