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Groove on 17

Groove On is our epic (semi) daily radio station for the lockdown brought to you by Mr Stewart Bremner. You can listen to all of the previous shows here.

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Bella Caledonia · Groove On – Episode 17

Here we go with episode 17, featuring as usual a wide variety of styles, covering a period from the forties up to the early 2000s. It begins with ‘Baba O’Riley’ by The Who, their synth-led hit from 1971. Next is ‘Long Hair’ by Nottingham three piece Little Barrie, from their 2005 debut album.

Three songs in a row follow. First is a swinging version of ‘Hang On Sloopy’ by Count Basie & His Orchestra, which many know best as the basis for the Dream Warrior’s ‘Wash Your Face In My Sink’. Then we have ‘Coconut Woman’ by Lloyd Price, a mento song and not a calypso – to educated ears there is a difference (to the rest of us this is chiefly that the former is from Jamaica, while the latter began in Trinidad & Tobago). A rarity, this song can be found on the excellent compilation 300% Dynamite. The third of the three tracks is ‘A Little Bit Of Soap’ by the mostly forgotten soul singer Garnet Mimms.

Next up is ‘Enjoy Yourself’ by The Specials, from their second album More Specials. The song was first recorded in 1949 by Guy Lombardo, but perhaps more famously a little later by Doris Day. From that eighties cover of a forties song, we go to a 2000s cover of an eighties song, but in a forties style, with a version of Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ by The Puppini Sisters. The band were inspired to form by the soundtrack to Belleville Rendezvous recorded by Benoît Charest, who went on to produce the Puppini Sisters’ debut album from which this song is drawn.

Another piece of delightful close harmony work is next, with ‘Take The “A” Train’ by the Delta Rhythm Boys. A signature tune of the Duke Ellington orchestra, this version was also recorded in 1941 and was the first to include vocals. Somewhat different jazz follows, with ‘Step Right Up’ by Tom Waits. An upright bass driven song, this is unusual in the Waits canon for not really being a vignette, but rather being built from a series of advertising slogans and ending with the brilliant Waits’ line ‘the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.’

The middle of the episode is given over to all thirteen minutes of ‘Masterpiece’ by The Temptations. Described as cinematic soul and similar in style to ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ but even longer, this brilliant piece was very much a Norman Whitfield track. Like many of the extended workouts of this period of the Temptations career, there is in fact little of their actual singing on it.

A couple of more out there songs follow. First is ‘En Medio De La Lluvia’ by La Revolución De Emiliano Zapata. Recorded in 1972, this can be found on the 2004 compilation Love, Peace & Poetry: Mexican Psychedelic Music. After that things get stranger, with Alice Coltrane’s version of The Sound of Music song ‘My Favorite Things’. Made indispensable from the jazz canon by her saxophonist husband John in 1961, a decade later Alice very much made this piece her own, with an otherworldly rendition. A quote from Allmusic describes it best: “[Coltrane turns the] melody inside out, wide enough for the strings to whip up an atmospheric texture that simultaneously evokes heaven and hell and skewers the prissy nature of the tune in favor of bent polyharmonics that allow the entire world of sound inside to play.’

Radiohead follow with ‘Lucky’, one of many amazing songs from their landmark album OK Computer.

Two Jamaican tracks come next. First is ‘Dancing With Mr. D.’ by The Rolling Stones, taken from Goats Head Soup which was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica. A dub version of Johnny Clarke’s cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Crazy Baldheads’ follows on from that, called ‘Real Gone Crazy Dub’ by King Tubby & The Aggrovators.

Continuing with a theme of songs from albums that are not supposedly very good (the others being More Specials and Goats Head Soup), is ‘Man On The Moon’ from The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Munki, the climax of which features a wonderfully large body of brass surrounding Bill Reid’s typically glorious guitar.

The episode ends with an organist best known for his work with the Beatles, Billy Preston performing ‘Drown In My Own Tears’.

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