Thursday, 28 April 2011

101 "favourite" tracks, No 41-50

41. Fania All Stars, Bemba Kora (live).

I first heard this track when I was a student living in a cramped hall of residence in Bloomsbury in 1981. I was studying one afternoon and someone was playing it down the hall from my room. I was so captivated by it that I went to investigate. The guy whose record it was told me all about the band and lent me the record that afternoon. It probably took me a further year to acquire my own copy, and I never found Volume 1.

There is a quite overwhelming joy to this track, as with much of their music I would later discover. Celia Cruz, the main vocalist on the track and a fine solo artist in her won right, is just great on this song. She died a year or two ago and I was quite saddened by her passing.

Alternates: pretty much anything else from this album

42. Fifth Dimension, Aquarius / Let the sun shine in

When I appeared in the Gang Show of 1977, we had a hippy music director and she selected this sequence as one of the songs she wanted to do. We were all dressed up in purple and green costumes and had a series of complex arm movements to produce a sort of psychedelic effect. I had no idea what the tracks were from of course, and was impressed by the radicalism of Hair when I did eventually see the movie. A revival was on in New York when we went there for Daughter's 21st birthday, but I was unable to persuade the family that we should see it.

This is not the Original Soundtrack version, but the far more commercial version that became the huge hit.

Alternates: None

43. Flaming Lips, Powerless

A band that I come back to frequently. I remember them from 20 years or so ago when they were a sort of psychedelic band rather like Loop or Spacemen 3. Now that is no band thing, but they have managed rather a dramatic career since then. They had hit singles in the distant past, but then seemed to disappear for some years, returning with the huge hit album, Yoshimi battles the pink robots, and one of the most bizarre stage shows, hugely suited to huge outdoor festivals.

This track is quite a recent one of theirs, as they seem to be moving a little away from the commercial sound of Yoshimi. On a couple of live recordings I have of them, this is a stupendous track, with the most amazing guitar solo. Who would have thought it was possible to produce a truly original guitar solo in this day and age?

Alternates: I could be a frog

44. Fripp and Eno, An Index of Metals

Forever linked in my mind to a Saturday evening in 1979 when my parents were away in the Lake District and I had the house to myself. Somehow it occured that a few friends came round that night, including the gorgeous Alison Griffith. Wine was drunk to excess, and by late evening, this track had become our preferred listening, with us playing it 6 times in a row. It was a "far out" evening and one I look back on with many fond memories!

All that apart, this is a quite stupendous piece of music, a far more intense work than the more-well-known No Pussyfooting tracks. Layer after layer of guitar, many wild climaxes of sound, and 28 minutes long - what more could you want from music?

Alternates: The Heavenly Music Corporation,

45. Rory Gallagher,


46. Gallon Drunk, Bear me away (the live version)


47. Grateful Dead, Wharf Rat

Alternates: Loser, Looks like rain

48. Lisa Gerrard, Salem's Lot


49. Beth Gibbons, Mysteries

Alternates: Her live version of Candy says

50. Hawkwind, Orgone Accumulator

Alternates: Prometheus,

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