Tuesday Tunes 130: A Few More Favourites

Having taken a couple of weeks away from that long list I created, I thought that for this week I would return to play you some more of my all-time favourites. There is no theme as such this week: just a load of great tunes! So without any further ado, let’s get started. They don’t come much better than this one:

I wanted to find a live version of this, and the one at the 1985 Live Aid concert is a great place to start today’s tunes. If you recall, Phil Collins was playing drums on this having previously appeared at the London concert. A helicopter ride to the airport, a trip on Concorde, and the five hour time difference allowed him to play in Philly too. A great day all round for music. In case you needed reminding this was originally released in November 1970 by Derek and the Dominoes, the band formed by Eric Clapton after he left Cream and Blind Faith, as the title track of their album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, It wasn’t an immediate success, though it did reach #16 in the US Albums chart. It was a different story in the UK, though, as the album didn’t make our chart at all, right up until finally making an appearance in 2011, peaking at #68. Layla was released a couple of times as a single, in 1971 and 1972, and it was the second of these that really took off, when it got to #7 in the UK and #10 in the US. A 1982 re-release made #4 here in the UK, too. It has become such an iconic track that those early days seem strange now, in retrospect.

Having started with one big name I thought I’d follow up with another. I think these guys might just tip it as my favourite band ever, and this is my favourite of their singles:

We Can Work It Out was part of a double A-side single released by The Beatles in December 1965. Naturally, it reached #1 in both the UK and the US, and the other side – Day Tripper – got to #5 in the US in its own right, due to their (to me) strange custom of splitting the listings. It didn’t feature on any of their studio albums here in the UK, though it was included on a North America-only release, Yesterday And Today, in June 1966, again getting to #1 in the US and also in Canada. It has since appeared on numerous compilation albums, of course. I love this video, in which at least two of them seem to be having a lot of fun, with John trying to make Paul laugh, and finally succeeding.

In compiling the list from which I’m taking these songs I made the decision to include only one by each artist. This has made for some difficult choices, and this next one is another in that category. On balance, out of all of her wonderful music, I went for this one:

Joni Mitchell has made so many great records, and I’m a huge fan, especially of her earlier albums: that run up to Blue and For The Roses includes some really beautiful music. Big Yellow Taxi was a track on Joni’s third album, Ladies Of The Canyon, which was released in April 1970 and reached #8 in the UK and #27 in the US. The song was issued as a single to coincide with the album’s release, and made #11 in the UK and #67 in the US. There have been many cover versions, my favourite of which is the one by Counting Crows, which made #13 as a single in the UK – the only top twenty single hit they have had here.

My next two tunes are from bands who may be less well known. I think they deserve to be much bigger, though! I have played songs by them before, though not these ones. The first of my lesser lights is World Party:

The band was very much the creation of Karl Wallinger after he left The Waterboys. They made five albums between 1987 and 2000, and I think they are all superb. Put The Message In The Box was a track on their second album, Goodbye Jumbo – hence the elephant in the video. The record came out in April 1990, and reached #36 in the UK and #73 in the US. This was the second single taken from the album, and it made #39 here, whilst also getting to #8 in the US Alternative Airplay listings. The song has a simple message, one of opening up our hearts to love, and the video is a beautifully joyous accompaniment for it. This was one of those albums that I played a lot in the car during my long commute, and is probably another etched on the memories of those unfortunate enough to have seen me ‘singing’ along with it.

Did I just mention that Karl had been in The Waterboys? What a coincidence – guess who is up next, though this was after his time with them. This is a later live performance of the song, and I think it also qualifies for the description of ‘joyous.’ Sound quality on the video is very variable, I’m afraid, and it gets cut off just before the end, but it is still a lot of fun to watch:

And A Bang On The Ear was a track on The Waterboys’ fourth album, Fisherman’s Blues, which was released in October 1988 and became their breakthrough record: their first to make the UK top twenty, getting to #13 here and also to #76 in the US. It is a fabulous album and I still play it nowadays. The band had already had a hit single here in 1985 with Whole Of The Moon, and two tracks from this album made the UK Singles chart – the title track got to #32 here and this song made #51. It was, however, #1 in Ireland: I worked with an Irish woman around that time and asked her its meaning. She assured me that it was a term of endearment, though with the Irish sense of humour you can never be sure, can you? It appears that one of the writers for the NCIS tv show may have had Irish roots, with Gibbs’ trademark parting shot to his team members.

Another band who gave me real difficulty in choosing a favourite were Crosby Stills & Nash, both with and without Neil Young. There are so many great songs in their catalogue but I think my favourite is perhaps one of their lesser known songs, certainly so here in the UK:

Southern Cross was a track on Daylight Again, their third album as a trio, which was released in June 1982 and reached #8 in the US, though it didn’t make the UK chart. The track was released as a single at the same time and peaked at #18 in the US though again it didn’t feature in the UK chart – you can see now why I think this one might be less familiar to British readers, can’t you. As with all of the songs I’m playing today I’ve loved this one since I first heard it: it is a beautiful piece of music, enhanced by those wonderful harmonies.

Today’s penultimate tune is by someone who only lived to 31, but has left us an amazing body of work to enjoy. I have been a massive fan of hers since her days in Fairport Convention and Fotheringay and through her solo career. This is from her solo days, appropriately enough:

I have previously described Sandy Denny as having the voice of an angel. The phrase gets thrown around a lot, but few live up to it: in my view. Sandy is one who does. This is a stunningly good song, about the break up of a relationship, with some incredible imagery in its lyrics. Solo was the opening track on her third solo album, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, which was released in June 1974 but didn’t make the charts anywhere. During her lifetime she didn’t enjoy much success in sales terms, but those of us ‘in the know’ were a loyal following for her. For those of you who know Fairport Convention from their early days, it will come as no surprise to learn that the blisteringly good guitar on the song is played by Richard Thompson. It is a beautiful song, and I think that guitar lifts it to even greater heights. It is rare for me to shed tears at the passing of a musical hero but I did for Sandy – taken from us by a combination of alcohol abuse and injuries from a fall on a stone staircase. Being a little self-indulgent, I’m adding in a link to what may well be her best known song, written when she was in Fairport Convention, and running this one a very close race to be chosen as my Sandy song for this set. Take a listen to Who Knows Where The Time Goes and see what I mean about her voice! And you get more of Richard Thompson’s guitar on that one, too.

Today’s final tune is also from someone who I think has been poorly treated in chart terms, especially in the US. I’d have thought he would be very suited to the market there but somehow it has never really happened for him. Try this one by Chris Rea and see what you’ve been missing:

Stainsby Girls was a track on Chris Rea’s seventh album, Shamrock Diaries, which was released in April 1985, and made #15 in the UK Albums chart. In the States? Nada, as usual. This track was released as a single in March, just ahead of the album, and peaked at #26 in the UK. For me, this is one of a whole string of great records this guy has given us. He has made twenty five albums, all but four of which have made the UK charts, two of them reaching #1. In the US, only three have made the chart – ironically his best performer there is his debut album, Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? which got to #49 over there but is one of the four not to make it in the UK. Record buyers can be strange, sometimes.

That’s all for this week, and I hope you’ve enjoyed another look at what I see as some of the best songs I know. I’ll be back with a little piece of whimsy in a couple of days, and then of course I’ll be here again on Sunday and next Tuesday. Have a good week 😊

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64 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 130: A Few More Favourites

  1. Pingback: November Tale | Take It Easy

  2. Pingback: Song Lyric Sunday: The Boss | Take It Easy

  3. Big fan of most of these, Clive. I was unfamiliar with Sandy Denny and haven’t formed much of an opinion of this particular song. I’ve never been a big Joni Mitchell fan (I know that may be blasphemous to you and some.) I like the other ones. I really grew to appreciate Eric Clapton and the Beatles are the Beatles. You might be surprised that the song I like most from your group is World Party—my kind of sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I hit the mark for you, Pete. If you don’t know Sandy Denny do try the link I added into the post for another of her songs. It’s a real classic of our folk music here: that beautiful voice and some incredibly mature lyrics for someone who was just 20 when she wrote it.

      Yes, not liking Joni Mitchell is blasphemy, but you knew I’d say that, right?

      I’m really pleased that you liked World Party. They were a bit of an oddity as their albums were made by the musicians Karl Wallinger happened to be hanging around with, no steady line up, but they are all excellent. Try their first two albums – Private Revolution and Goodbye Jumbo – if you feel like exploring further.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. An interesting and joyful selection Clive. I loved the Waterboys video. It was good to see the Beatles one again also. I do think Chris Rea is an excellent musician and very much underated and unappreciated, so I suppose it’s strange that I have only one of his albums!? Sandy Denny has one helluva voice hasn’t she? – one of my folk favourites along with Annie Haslam of Renaissance. I loved hearing “Who knows where the time goes” again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul, I’m glad you enjoyed them. As I said in an earlier comment it was a really dismal start to the day here and playing these on the final edit before posting really brightened it up. I used that word ‘joyful’ a couple of times, and they really were. Even with the sound quality issues you could feel the fun they were all having on the Waterboys one, couldn’t you. I think you need to up the number of Chris Rea albums in your collection! I had around a dozen from the days before streaming took over, and they were all great. Sandy Denny was really special, and a sad loss. Over the years there have been some fabulous female voices in our folk music. Annie was certainly one, and I’d put Kate Rusby and Miranda Sykes (Show Of Hands) up at the top, too. I couldn’t resist adding in that bonus link – it was such a hard choice having set myself the rule of one per artist!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I knew the first, second, and then the third I thought I was on a roll, at least knowing all of them, until I hit the 4th where I had not heard of either the band or the tune! Thereafter, “Southern Cross” was the only one with which I was familiar, and I’d have to say is my pick for #1 among today’s selections, though it’s a close race between it and “We Can Work It Out”. Fun music, Clive … thanks for introducing me to some new ones and none of them hurt my ears!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a bombastic event the Live Aid concert was! I did not remember Phil Collins playing the drums for Eric Clapton’s performance. But I do remember that he played at two concerts… the time difference created a time machine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We didn’t see that here in the UK, as we had our own schedule that lasted from lunchtime through the evening. An amazing day, enlivened for us by Bob Geldof making one of his impassioned pleas for donations, live on the BBC, shouting “give us your f***ing money!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was an important day. Great for music but also for the way everyone came together. I was part of the big charity programme the previous Christmas when Do They Know It’s Christmas came out – one of the best things I did in nearly 40 years at work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You were? Wow! Yes, you wrote history, Clive. I was 14 when Do They Know It’s Christmas came out and only recognized the tip of the iceberg of it all which already was big for my understanding. I can only imagine how fulfilling this must have been for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • An infinitesimally small part of it: it was a huge nationwide team effort but great to be even a tiny part of it. It was a very fulfilling job, though. You were probably still a bit young to appreciate the significance of it all, but you can see now what it all meant. It’s such a shame, though, that the world still hasn’t solved the problems at the root of it all.

        Like

      • You know, I have always loved that song, also because of it’s origin and purpose. It is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and I cannot wait to hear it again soon. Today you added meaning to it for me.
        I agree, and during this I year this thought often ran throuch my mind. We appeared to have come a long way, but it was not a stable construct yet. Hopefully, the next take is more sustainable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As charity singles go I think it is one of the best. I do an ‘Advent Calendar’ on the blog from 1-25 December, playing Christmas songs. That has never been one of them – my taste tends to differ from the pop charts!

        The world has some big issues to resolve, doesn’t it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love Christmas songs. They all have their own charm. Looking forward to listening to your Advent Calendar. I wil post Christmas songs too on Tuesdays.

        Yes, and the sad and shocking thing about it is that so much has come together with in only a few months. When will we ever learn…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mine are a bit of a mixture, but don’t expect too many that have been in the pop charts! Looking forward to seeing what you post, too.

        I don’t think the world will ever learn. Too many vested interests preventing progress.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Although for a while it looked to me that those interests are getting closer togehter but all of a sudden this all turned around. However, this too teaches again dramatically that life only works when we unite.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Clive,

    I don’t know if this will find you but hopefully so.

    My WordPress account has been hacked so I am no longer able to leave likes and comments. I’ve always enjoyed your posts and this one is no exception. Thank you for sharing them.

    I too am a great Sandy Denny fan and have been since her very early days with the Strawbs.

    I can still read your posts so shall continue to enjoy your musical selections.

    Thank you. Take care.

    Clive

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clive, I’m sorry to hear that but your like and this comment have registered, so maybe things are on the mend?

      Thank you for your kind comments, and I’m pleased you enjoy my posts. Good to know that you are a fellow Sandy fan too.

      I guess the hacking is why you haven’t posted recently? I hope you can get back to it soon, as I always enjoyed yours too. You take care too 👍

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Clive – I can’t even ‘like’ your reply.

        I’ve just unearthed my vinyl copy of Sandy Denny and the Strawbs – “All our own Work” released in 1973 I think but written much earlier in 1967! I was 17 years old and rather smitten. I’ll put it on my vintage ‘70s stereo now for a nostalgic afternoon.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. A lot of great artists here. I love The Waterboys, World Party and Joni Mitchell. CSN is one of my favourite albums ever. Southern Cross is a brilliant track and you have reminded me that I must give LP Daylight again another listen – which I am going to do right now, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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