Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I'm still doing lengths up and and down England every week in the Big Stupid Spanish Diesel, which has given me scope to get extremely bored with the usual dozen or so albums I play on the journey.

For a change this week I went out of my way to pick out music I hadn't heard for some time - the theory was that if it was rubbish, Oxfam would get it, and if it was good then it would go on the list to freshen up my music rotation.

First up was "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane. I've heard it half a dozen times without getting it at all. I've been told a few hundred times in hushed tones by better musicians than myself that it is brilliant - which always makes me feel thick.

After listening to it again, I'm no closer to understanding it and nowhere near enjoying it. Too many notes ! It still sounds to me like a pre-schooler blowing through daddy's sax after too much sugar. One for Oxfam.

Next though was a real find - Film Four's "Essential Soundtracks Compilation" album. Just check out the track list here - I listened to the second CD first and was immediately in Eclectic Music Heaven, where Chuck Berry, The Prodigy, Jimmy Cliff and The Pixies come together.

I had heard "Speaking of Happiness" many times before but would never have been able to put the name to the gloriously clear soulful voice that sings it. It's Gloria Lynne - she deserves to be better known.

But the biggest joy was hearing "Happy Heart" by Andy Williams. Big and unfashionable - it demands your attention. I imagined someone in 1969 driving up the pre-motorway trunk road in a Ford Anglia listening to it on a tinny radio. Then in my head-film, I cut to myself in 2009, driving at £60-fine-and-three-points mph on the M6 listening to it on my rather excellent stereo. Can anyone point me to more powerful voice from the last forty years. Tom Jones ? You're having a laugh.

The fact is - female "Torch" singers have never been more popular (Duffy, Amy Winehouse, the Pop Idol lot etc.) but all the male voices these days seem to be whiny indie kids. But these things should by rights come round in cycles.

So here's a prediction : the biggest selling song of the next 12 months will be a man in an Italian suit with a voice like a Viking God singing a torch song, backed by a big band playing real instruments.

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