Serenity Now

Only a couple of weeks ago I was saying I still felt positive despite the ongoing parade of depressing news. While I haven’t quite revised that opinion, I must admit lately it does make you want to close your eyes and check out of reality for a while.

Here’s a perfect record for doing just that.

Download: Willow – Joan Armatrading (mp3)

Photo: London, June 1942

Picture Post

Download: When The Morning Comes – Daryl Hall & John Oates (mp3)

This is the beautiful opening track of Hall & Oates’ 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette. It also contains “She’s Gone” so I don’t need to say it’s a great LP you should own.

Photo: The Morning Papers by Bill Brandt (1936)

Something for the Weekend

This clip is the sort of thing you’d think only existed in the “What if?” fantasies of music nerds, but it actually happened.

I Can Do It In the Mix

I’ve just put together — sorry, curated – a music mix for the excellent Cooking Up A Quiet Storm site. Entitled A Gentle Simmer it’s a spacey trip along the 1970s pop radio dial with stops at ELO, Hall & Oates, Jean-Michel Jarre, Colin Blunstone, and Wings. Cheesy to some, a blissful dreamscape of Angel Delight and instant mash to me.

Listen to it (and see the full tracklisting) here or through the handy little widget below. Don’t forget to check out some of the other excellent mixes at Quiet Storm too, it’s all fab.

Something for the Weekend

When Easy Listening achieves transcendence.

Sleeve Talk

In case you don’t know (the type is tiny) this is the gorgeous cover of Astrud Gilberto’s 1969 album I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, and if the job of a sleeve is to convey what an album sounds like then this does the job beautifully — it’s so evocative you can hear the record in your mind just by looking at the photo: low-key, intimate, and sad. You almost don’t even need to listen to the record, but that would be silly because it’s wonderful, what Astrud called “my fireplace album.”

Download: I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do – Astrud Gilberto (mp3)

The staring-at-the-camera pose is often used for emotionally-vulnerable albums like this, Phil Collins did it too but he isn’t as pretty as Astrud Gilberto and having a face like hers really helps with a sleeve like this. I imagine the designer didn’t want any type on it at all but the label insisted so he did it as small as he could get away with. A lot of the skill in being a designer is knowing what not to do, or doing nothing but hire the right photographer.

The “right” photographer in this case was Joel Brodsky who shot several very famous record sleeves including Astral Weeks, Kick Out The Jams, and The Doors, (plus that iconic portrait of Jim Morrison) so he has a hell of a portfolio, but his lesser-known work also includes another of my favourite sleeves:

This is another very evocative photo that tells a story but I’ve always had trouble figuring out exactly what it is. Her nakedness and cigarette suggest this is post-sex, but she also looks very pensive and lonely curled up on her own like that. Whatever’s going on, it’s a beautiful photo and her coffee-coloured skin and au naturel state are perfect for Callier’s laid-back, Jazzy-Folky Soul.

Download: Just As Long As We’re In Love – Terry Callier (mp3)

My Mother’s Records

The furthest abroad my mother ever got was to the Channel Islands on a family holiday in the 1960s, and later in life it was impossible to get her to step outside of West London, let alone England. But she had so many groovy sun n’ samba records like this I like to think that when she listened to them she dreamed of exotic locations, sandy beaches, the warm sun, and tanned hunks handing her chilled cocktails. But then it was back to the two kids and the council flat.

I’m not so contrarian that I’m going to claim this is better than The Beatles’ original, but this is the first version I knew so it always sounds to me like it’s the Fab Four who are doing the cover.

Download: The Fool On The Hill – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (mp3)

A Perfect Time for Loving

I’ve used up all the adjectives like “chilled-out” and “trippy” on the previous two records plucked from the 12″ single box but they could apply to this one as well. “Talking With Myself” was originally released in 1988 and this Frankie Knuckles remix from 1990 adds a Deep House undertow to the sublime electronic soul of the original.

Like the Soul Family Sensation record posted previously this was remixed and re-released a few times in an attempt to get it in the charts though, unlike SFS, it did became a minor hit. Electribe 101 didn’t last very long though and broke up in 1992 after just the one album.

Recorded from vinyl so excuse the snap, crackle, and pops at the beginning.

Download: Talking With Myself (Frankie Knuckles Mix) – Electribe 101 (mp3)

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com





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