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
HANDCLAPPING is not only a very useful and easy accompaniment on a music track, it also nearly always signifies a certain level of enthusiasm and joy. And I reckon that’s exactly the kind of show we needed right now, with the weather being so dreary. Clapping is used as a percussion element in many forms of music including Gospel, flamenco, electronic and pop. Shirley Ellis’s 1965 soul hit THE CLAPPING SONG was our opener and it perfectly fitted my criterion for this week’s playlist, with its reference to a favourite childhood game full of happy memories.
Outkast’s song, about a relationship in denial, HEY YA! is a crazy mix of soul, rock and everything in-between, including a chorus of handclapping that recalls the girl groups of the 60’s, 70’s funk and even pop fare like Toni Basil’s Mickey. Check out the amazing Andre 3000 performing the song live at the Grammy Awards:
A couple of rock’n’roll icons who knew the value of a bit of handclapping were Eddie Cochran with his 1958 hit SUMMERTIME BLUES and Elvis Presley with RUBBERNECKIN’, released in 1969. Most songs written by the King of Rock n Roll had girls swooning and shaking and RUBBERNECKIN’ was no exception. A remix version, by Paul Oakenfield, was released in 2003 and managed to top the US charts. I chose to play the original, which also appeared in the King’s final feature film, Change of Habit. Here’s a clip from that film with loads of handclapping in evidence:
Contributing a little funk were The Meters with their HANDCLAPPING SONG and we followed with that great girl group, The Marvelettes, singing TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA. The Marvelettes were Motown’s first successful singing girl group recording on the Tamla label. They set the precedent for Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes.
If you’re after some God-fearing, gospel style clapping then there’s arguably none better than the Abyssinian Baptist Choir and SAID I WASN’T GOING TO TELL NOBODY. Sheer ecstacy for some but I get my thrills from singers such as Jenny Lewis and her band Rilo Kiley. They have a very simple yet effective song featuring handclapping, THE FRUG.
I don’t think Peter Noonan sang any of Herman’s Hermit songs without clapping along and CAN’T YOU HEAR MY HEARTBEAT is no exception. Check out the Noonan’s facial expression at 1:24. Love it that they didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Two more songs that feature a good dose of handclapping are DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD by Santa Esmeralda and Rose Royce’s original version of CAR WASH. Scottish folk/rock group Stealers Wheel’s song, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU, found a whole new audience when it featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. I’d love to include a clip from this film but it just so happens that the song is the backdrop for the most confronting scene in the movie and I did want to keep things cheerful!
The Cars emerged from the New Wave movement of the late 70’s with a blend of punk minimalism, synth-pop and art rock. It’s hard to believe that it’s now ten years since lead singer and bassist, Ben Orr, died of pancreatic cancer. Here he is looking smoking hot on their 1979 release, LET’S GO.
One of the most creative and idiosyncratic musicians of the 1990s and 2000s is Beck with his collage of musical styles, ironic lyrics and quirky arrangements. Check out this clip of his song CLAP HANDS. Now this is what I call good dinner conversation.
The late country crossover artist, Eddie Rabbitt, has a great clappiing song that also pays tribute to the clapping of thunder. I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT was a perfect track to accompany our weather report.
HANDCLAPPING is a very convenient piece of musical improvisation and it comes in useful across all musical genres. It also makes for a pretty cheerful playlist. To further prove my point we included two tracks from 1982: John Mellencamp’s HURTS SO GOOD and Prince’s LITTLE RED CORVETTE.
With a name like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! it’s a given that this group would have to have a least one song with handclapping in their repertoire. The title CLAP YOUR HANDS has also been used by Aussie singer Sia. Here’s she is with her very quirky video clip:
When it comes to video clips, however, none does it better than Gorillaz. DIRTY HARRY is from their second album, Demon Days. Like the video for another of their tracks CLINT EASTWOOD, the video of DIRTY HARRY references the film of the same name. It’s the only Gorillaz music video, other than STYLO, to be filmed on location. For more info on Gorillaz go to: http://www.gorillaz.com For now, simply check out this brilliant piece of animation:
Canadian singer Feist had a huge hit with her handclapping song, 1234. It was actually written by Australian singer songwriter Sally Seltmann, who records under the name New Buffalo. They met while touring together in Canada.
The Romantics livened things up somewhat with WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU. It’s from their self titled album of 1980 and was also released as a single. Jimmy Marinos, the band’s drummer is the lead vocalist and it did particularly well in Australia, where it reached #2 on the Australian Singles Chart. A real party starter.
Mott the Hoople’s song, ALL THE YOUNG DUDES, was written for them by David Bowie and can be found on the 1972 album of the same name. It’s regarded as one of glam rock’s anthems. Despite this, it’s one of the few songs on the list whose lyrics aren’t upbeat. According to Bowie, the song wasn’t intended to be ‘glamorous’ at all and carries a darker message of apocalypse. See what handclapping does for a song? Changes the mood and therefore the intent of the song completely.
Massive Attack’s Heligoland LP boasts a huge slate of guest vocalists, none more sultry than Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. “Sultry” is probably a nice way of describing the Toby Dye directed video clip of PARADISE CIRCUS. The clip is definitely for over 18s, so if you are interested I suggest you go to the Massive Attack Blog but this recommendation does come with a warning about explicit content. .
Less controversial were our next three songs starting with one of my favourites, Radiohead’s 15 STEP. We followed with The Clash and ROCK THE CASBAH and Queen with WE WILL ROCK YOU. Other than the last 30 seconds containing a guitar solo from Brian May, the song is generally set in a capella form, using only stamping and clapping as a rhythmic beat. Perfect for today’s theme.
We closed the show with one of the most inspirational songs that feature handclapping. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE celebrates what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday last Saturday.
If you would like to contribute to next week’s show, which will be on EYES AND SIGHT, I’d love to have your input. Just leave me a message in the comments area of this blog.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Clapping Song – The Best Of Shirley Ellis, Shirley Ellis
Hey Ya! – The Love Below, Outkast
Rubberneckin’ – Treasures 64 To 69 [Disc 1], Elvis Presley
Summertime Blues – Music From The Movies, Eddie Cochran
Hand Clapping Song – Struttin, The Meters
Too Many Fish In The Sea – The Big Chill, The Marvelettes
Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody – Shakin’ The Rafters, The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir
Frug – Rilo Kiley, Rilo Kiley
Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat – Their Greatest Hits, Herman’s Hermits
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Tarantino Experience Take II, Leroy Gomez and Santa Esmeralda
Car Wash – Greatest Hits, Rose Royce
Rebel Rouser – Forest Gump Soundtrack, Duane Eddy
Stuck In The Middle With You – Reservoir Dogs, Stealers Wheel
Let’s Go – The Cars Greatest Hits, The Cars
Clap Hands – Guerolito, Beck
I Love A Rainy Night – Kick It Up, Eddie Rabbitt
Hurts So Good – American Fool, John Mellencamp
Little Red Corvette – 1999, Prince
Clap Your Hands! – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands – Clap Your Hands, Sia
Dirty Harry – Dirty Harry (Single), Gorillaz
1234 – The Reminder [Bonus Track], Feist
What I Like About You – Top Hits Of The 80’s (1980 [Disc 2]), The Romantics
All The Young Dudes – Rock Classics 60’s & 70’s Volume 2, Mott The Hoople
Paradise Circus feat. Hope Sandoval – Heligoland, Massive Attack
15 Step – In Rainbows, Radiohead
Rock The Casbah – Story of the Clash, Volume 1 [Disc 1], The Clash
We Will Rock You – News Of The World, Queen
Give Peace A Chance – Lennon [Disc 1], John Lennon
I love the major prize in BayFM‘s Subscriber Drive this year. It’s a trip to Broome and the Kimberley, in conjunction with the Save The Kimberley action group. So I thought it was a great opportunity to create a playlist on THE ENVIRONMENT.
We opened the show with a locally produced track from a group of young people who are concerned about climate change. They came together at a hip-hop recording workshop in the country town of Kyogle in 2007. The result: PROTECT THE WORLD. The kids were aged between 11 and 17 and wrote the words on the spot and played all the instruments. Check it out:
Another song about the environment that really hits home is GASOLINE from Sheryl Crow. She’s so great when she’s singing about something substantial, isn’t she?
The Cranberries tell us that TIME IS TICKING OUT: “We’d better think about the consequences, We’d better think about the global senses, The time went out, the time went out.”
Cerrone’s song SUPERNATURE was released in 1977 and crossed over to both pop and soul charts. An interesting bit of trivia: the lyrics were written by a young Lene Lovich, although she wasn’t credited.
Gorillaz is a band that fascinates me with its merge of music and art. They have a brilliant site, so rather than me babble on here about them, go to www.gorillaz.com. Right now I’m listening to their PLASTIC BEACH album. The track of the same name features Mick Jones & Paul Simonon from The Clash. Say no more.
Way back in 1971 Marvin Gaye broke ground with his song MERCY MERCY ME (the Ecology). It’s from his album, What’s Goin’ On and features The Funk Brothers on instrumentals and a leading sax solo by Wild Bill Moore. Brilliant stuff. Here’s Gaye at the Montreux Festival, 1980:
The John Butler Trio’s song SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE was only released in Australia. It came out in 2004 and is an interesting blend of funk, rock, blues, roots and the traditional sound of a jam band.
An absolute classic is Joni Mitchell’s BIG YELLOW TAXI: “They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.” With that one line, Joni Mitchell created an everlasting metaphor for the ongoing effects of industrial development on the natural world. Big Yellow Taxi is one of the great environmental laments of the modern age, a breezy little tune that describes a world where DDT is used freely and trees are relegated to a museum.
I thought I might include some Kraftwerk for all the techheads and others (like me) who love this highly influential band from Germany. RADIOACTIVITY is perfect for this week’s theme:
Neko Case suggests that you NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON MOTHER EARTH. It’s from her Middle Cyclone album. A prophetic follow up came from The Beach Boys with DON’T GO NEAR THE WATER:
Tegan and Sara are a Canadian duo (they’re actually identical twins). I love their song OUR TREES. A perfect follow up to that was Jack Johnson’s ANYTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
Despite what Michael Stipe says about this song being about oppression, I always thought that the R.E.M. song, FALL ON ME, was about acid rain and it’s effect on the environment. Well I suppose you have a right to feel oppressed when governments keep refusing to do anything substantial about climate change.
Singer songwriter Missy Higgins is politically pro-active and it was great to air an interview with her during the show about Broome and the Kimberley. Here’s an extended version of that interview from the Save the Kimberley site:
Another activist/musician is, of course, Ben Harper. His song EXCUSE ME MISTER is just so relevant right now, with its mention of pollution of our waterways. Are you listening BP?
John Mayer is WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE. Me too John, me too.
Massive Attack were encouraged to get into the recording studio in 1991 to record their debut album Blue Lines, by Nenah Cherry. She consequently sang back up on our pick from this album, HYMN OF THE BIG WHEEL. In this clip Deborah Miller, who tours with Massive Attack on a regular basis, does a brilliant job of back-up/support.
MONKEY GONE TO HEAVEN, is a song by the American alternative rock band, the Pixies. It’s from their 1989 album Doolittle. The song references environmentalism and biblical numerology and was the first Pixies song to feature guest musicians: two cellists, Arthur Fiacco and Ann Rorich, and two violinists, Karen Karlsrud and Corine Metter.
Our final song of the day was one I’d like to dedicate to all those lost in Pakistan’s devastating floods: Jackson Browne with BEFORE THE DELUGE.
I’d like to thank everyone who subscribed during Theme Park over the last two shows. Thank you so much! We’ll be drawing a winner for our Camp Quality holiday at Possum Creek Eco Lodge on next Tuesday’s show, so tune in then. And if you want to go into that draw, and you haven’t subscribed yet, that’s Ok. When you do subscribe just say that Theme Park is the show you want to be acknowledged on. We’ll give you a shout out next week. Good luck to all of you. I hope that you are lucky enough to win one of the daily prizes, the additional prize for business subscribers of 30 radio spots, or the major prize of the trip to the Kimberley.
I’d love to hear from you with your requests for next week’s show when the topic will be SPRINGTIME. Can you believe its almost here? Yay!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Protect the World – Kyogle Kids
Gasoline – Detours, Sheryl Crow
Time Is Ticking Out – Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, The Cranberries
Supernature – Cerrone
Plastic Beach Ft. Mick Jones & Paul Simonon – Plastic Beach, Gorillaz
Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) – What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye
Something’s Gotta Give – Triple J’s Hottest 100 Volume 12, The John Butler Trio
Big Yellow Taxi – Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell
Radioactivity – The Mix, Kraftwerk
Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth – Middle Cyclone, Neko Case
Don’t Go Near The Water – Surf’s Up, The Beach Boys
Like The Weather – MTV Unplugged, 10,000 Maniacs
Our Trees – Tegan & Sara
Anything But The Truth – To The Sea, Jack Johnson
Fall on Me – Lifes Rich Pageant, R.E.M.
Going North – Missy Higgins
Excuse Me Mister – Fight for Your Mind, Ben Harper
Waiting on the World to Change – Continuum, John Mayer
Hymn Of The Big Wheel – Blue Lines, Massive Attack
Monkey Gone to Heaven – Wave of Mutilation: The Best of Pixies, The Pixies
Before The Deluge – Late For The Sky (Gold Disc), Jackson Browne
Next week: SPRINGTIME
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time