Songs To Make You Drop Your Drink
If only they had recorded just that one song ... pt 3
I have to confess to being obsessed now with the idea of someone recording just that one song. I am tempted to refine that by referring to me hearing just that one fantastic song by someone. It could be the closest I get to this idyll.
And I may just get away with it. For my song of songs from 2003 has to be that Lumidee summer slice of magic I still insist on calling the 'Uh Oh song'. It still has me jumping up on tables and waving my pom poms around every time I chance upon it. And I have never ever heard another Lumidee song. So? So!
I thought I had got away with it once with Kelis, and that astonishing 'I Hate You So Much Right Now' back then. I tried hard to avoid hearing more, so much so that it became like an old episode of The Likely Lads where they are trying to avoid hearing the score of an England match. But her Neptuneswere all pervasive, and Kelis was much more than just okay. But of course never up there with anything to rival her hate hymn.
That is until I heard 'Milkshake'. Now there are not many things better in life than hearing a song on the radio that makes you drop your drink in delighted surprise. And that's what I did when I heard 'Milkshake'. No it wasn't a milkshake. And then I heard it was the new Kelis, and loved her for it. It is my runner-up as the song of songs for last year, with Broadcast's 'Pendulum' possibly just sneaking in stately and seductively on the inside to take the bronze up on the podium.
The point is I could have chased idylls and successfully ignored Kelis' works other than her hateful heartbreakingly great start, but would have missed so much. I almost did that with Tweet too. Her outrageous 'Oops (Oh My)' caused another of those drink dropping radio moments, and it flounced in flamboyantly and fearlessly to pinch the bronze in 2002. I thought it may have had more to do with collaborator Missy Elliott and her Tim, and rather fancied I had me one of those just the one fantastic song scenarios. But I did sometime later succumb to the temptation of a cheap Tweet Southern Hummingbird set, and delightedly discovered a consistently lovely set of worldly r'n'b. So? So!
So speaking of those heartstopping startling radio moments I am sure the other day I heard a lovers rock version of Alicia Keys' 'You Don't Know My Name' which was just oh so gorgeous and I desperately want to hear it again. I will state quite boldly that I am a huge fan of Alicia, and absolutely love the lush soul of the new Diary Of ... set. One of the highlights of my week is catching a bit of the Ranking Miss P's Riddim & Blues show on BBC London with its mix of old & new reggae and r'n'b. And the great lady has been championing Alicia's second LP and saying that it is as great as the upstart Songs In A Minor collection of a year or two before. Quite right too. It all seems suspiciously tasteful, but Alicia has got class and a certain something to set her apart from the soulful mainstream.
Another lady who got under my skin this year was Terri Walker, who almost caused me to spill a coke with 'Ching Ching'. And if you approve of the Erykah Badu and the Jill Scott and the Angie Stone new soul thing you will love her. Her Untitled set is coolly elegant, and like Alicia she leans more towards the classic Roberta Flack school of soul excellence than the bouncing derobed divas bumping and grinding their way through shallow sets with as many intrusive guests as a doctor's surgery gets. And that's got to be a good thing. As long as the feel gets edgier and the strangeness makes things more unsettling. We do not need more dinner party background music. So? So!
So it's all about soul. I'm listening to the lovely RPM Timi Yuro collection which is called The Lost Voice of Soul. She was a fantastic singer, and yes she may have been white and more than often sang straight pop and country but she sure had soul. But don't ask me to define it. Call me contrary but I don't hear it in Beyonce's 'Crazy In Love', but I do hear it a lot in the War Prayers set by Young People. War Prayers is far from perfect, but Katie Eastburn's performances are enough to make you spill your soda water.
Now I do have a slight problem with War Prayers. There's an advert in the latest BB Gun (you should have your copy by now so you'll know the one I mean) which says 'imagine June Carter singing to John Cage's music'. Now I am no expert on John Cage, but I am sure he does not make music sort of something like Sleater Kinney, Galaxie 500, Mecca Normal, Opal, and better still Kim Gordon leading her lads through some strange minimal electric blues and folk thing. All of which is perfectly fine. So? So!
So that same ad also says Young People are like the Raincoats on Broadway in the most expressive way. Now I keep seeing these US underground groups now compared to the Raincoats, but I can't see it or hear it at all. The Raincoats were so un-rock, fragile yet fearless, and unstructured. These new American groups are so together and solidly formed that it's hard to see the connection. I, however, do very much get the on Broadway thing. Katie Eastburn's performances are up there with Judy Garland and Bette Midler in the true tradition of a real trooper giving a guts'n'all display with nothing left in reserve folks. And Katie's got what it takes to knock ´em dead in the aisles. And she's a huge Roberta Flack fan.
It's funny because I ordered War Prayers on a whim after reading that ad I mentioned. I had not really made the link with the Tangents cover page. I had not even remembered reading a rave review of Katie's cathartic choruses. So? So!
So the funny thing is the way Katie's dwarfed on the cover by a couple of colleagues which sort of reminds me of Isabel Monteiro and Drugstore. In fact Katie's a genuine star like Isabel at her best. And Drugstore at their best bring us back to the point about people recording just that one song, or us hearing just that one fantastic something. With Drugstore it was the first side of their debut single, 'Alive', which if I had ever have heard it oozing out of the radio would have had me tossing my Tizer clean across the room in awe. If only it had all stopped there. What a song that was! Isabel's purring and growling haunts me still and I can't even remember when I last heard the song. Great cover too. So? So!
So I will say one thing about covers, Alicia Keys, Young People, and Terri Walker. It doesn't matter how great their records are, they will still get black marks from me for giving a veritable telephone directory worth of credits, thanks, props, namedrops, and acknowledgements. It is so aesthetically wrong, horribly out of hand, and distracting. And it's a waste of space. Or maybe I'm just jealous these people have so many friends and such extended families. So?
© 2004John Carney