From the category archives:

Songs to Learn and Sing

#1063: 1971, David Bowie, The Bewlay Brothers

January 17, 2016

One of the saddest, most profoundly moving songs of all time. The Bewlay Brothers is a track from the stupendous Hunky Dory album by David Bowie released in 1971. The song is reputedly a fictionalised account of Bowie’s relationship with his schizophrenic brother, Terry – who killed himself in 1965. It was Terry who introduced […]

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#1062: 1980, David Bowie, Ashes To Ashes

January 16, 2016

Our Songs to Learn and Sing this week have been a tribute to the genius of David Bowie. Including the four posted so far this week, we have featured fifteen Bowie songs over the years on this blog (see the list at the end of this post) but have somehow not featured this piece of […]

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#1061: 1986, David Bowie, Underground

January 14, 2016

I wanted to post something slightly different in our week of tributes to the life and work of David Bowie – so, I turned to Mrs North and asked her which was her favourite Bowie song – ‘Underground, from Labyrinth’ she answered without hesitation. I don’t normally allow Mrs North to get too close to […]

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#1060: 1975, David Bowie, Young Americans

January 13, 2016

Continuing our tribute theme week on Songs To Learn and Sing, here’s another instalment in Bowie’s ever-changing career, the self-proclaimed ‘plastic soul’ period. Number 4 in my personal top 10, I see that it also features in Charlie’s and George’s lists. Far from being a phony imitation, this is a great soul record, frantic and […]

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#1059: 1976, David Bowie, Wild Is The Wind

January 12, 2016

So on to the second song in our David Bowie tribute theme week. David Bowie’s history of cover versions is, to be honest, a bit hit and miss. His album of covers, Pin Ups, feels like what it was: the end of the road for the Ziggy Stardust era. With the exception of his great […]

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#1058: 2015, David Bowie, Lazarus

January 11, 2016

As a lifelong massive fan of David Bowie, I am struggling to comprehend the sad news of his death. I absolutely love his music. A back catalogue of utter genius. Heroes is one of my favourite albums ever. Heroes, Blackout and Life on Mars are three of my favourite songs of all time. Even right […]

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#1057: 2015, Squeeze, Cradle to the Grave

January 11, 2016

For all the media’s ignoring of the social damage being wrecked by the Housing and Planning Bill, and Labour’s determination to detract attention from it through its own internecine quarrels, Sunday’s Andrew Marr show did feature some people willing to make a stand. With David Cameron on the sofa, Squeeze played out with the title track […]

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#1056: 1969, Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

January 9, 2016

There I was, a couple of weeks before Christmas, wandering down the road near my place of work, it was about 11am and the town was just starting to get busy with the mass-hysteria of pre-Christmas shopping. And that’s when I saw it. Scorpio Records. A new independent record shop, selling not only vinyl records […]

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#1055: 2015, Sleaford Mods, Rupert Trousers

January 3, 2016

So my song of 2015 is this superb track from Sleaford Mods’ Key Markets album.  The song which is far less ranty in its vocal delivery than many Sleafords tracks (not that they are any worse for that) may be the greatest state of the nation song since the post-Mick Jones’ The Clash’s This Is […]

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#1054: 1972, Hawkwind, Silver Machine

December 29, 2015

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you will have heard that Ian Kilmister, aka Lemmy, died yesterday from an extremely aggressive canver that was only diagnosed on Boxing Day. He had turned 70 on Christmas Eve. It was a life lived to the full (he barely remembers roadie-ing for Hendrix due to his excesses at the […]

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#1053: 1985, Bruce Springsteen, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

December 24, 2015

My kids are very excited right now. The big man is up in the sky riding with the reindeers and if my kids have been good, he is heading towards them right now. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first sung on Eddie Cantor’s […]

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#1052: 2012, Emeli Sande, Read All About It

December 22, 2015

Not an obvious choice for me. My middle son Iorweth is an interesting child – small, quick as a pin and as bright as button, he has his Irish grandmother’s propensity to fight anyone who he believes has wronged him (or someone near to him) and is clearly destined one day to be a doughty […]

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#1051: 1965, The Beatles, Nowhere Man

December 14, 2015

Not a comment on Jeremy Cobryn but instead inspired by Jackie’s post of Land in tribute to the 40th anniversary of the release of his favourite album of all time, Patti Smith’s Horses, I have decided to mark this month’s other major musical landmark: the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ album that […]

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#1050: 1975, Patti Smith, Land

December 13, 2015

It’s been almost a fortnight since our last Song to Learn and Sing, so I’m jumping the queue of our usual order of posting songs to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of my favourite album of all time: on 13 December 1975, Patti Smith released Horses. Land, or to use its full title Land: Horses/ Land […]

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#1049: 2015, Benjamin Clementine, Winston Churchill’s Boy

December 1, 2015

Jesus this is good. The opening track of Benjamin Clementine’s recently announced Mercury Music Prize winning album. Can’t say I’m up to speed on all of this year’s short-list, but they would have been something very special to have beaten Clementine’s At Least For Now. This autobiographical song, including reworking of Churchill, is a song […]

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#1048: 1976, The Drifters, You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book

November 27, 2015

Wow. Did he really just do that? During his response to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, John McDonnell whipped out Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and started quoting from it. This stunt will probably go down in history as the most ill conceived gimmick ever unleashed upon the House of Commons. The symbolism is just awful. […]

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#1047: 2006, Eagles of Death Metal, I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)

November 15, 2015

Friday’s horrific news from Paris has spurred this entry to the canon of our Songs to Learn and Sing. Of the 132 (identified to date) people murdered that evening, 89 were at the Bataclan theatre watching the Eagles of Death Metal. The band had to stop and escape backstage when the bullets started flying. Nick […]

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1046: 1972, Neil Young, Old Man

November 12, 2015

Neil Young is one of my favourite artists of all time. I was a late convert. I didn’t get him until I was in my late 20s – but, when I did, when the songs finally permeated my spirit, when I realised that that odd, slightly high-pitched, reed-frail voice was in fact imbued with magnificent […]

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#1045: 2015, Ezra Furman, Can I Sleep In Your Brain

November 7, 2015

I’ve been to a lot of gigs over recent weeks, covering pretty much the full range of live music experience: from the scuzzy stripped back rock n roll of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the suitably flea-pit-y Electric Ballroom, the peerless energy of the Sleaford Mods, the religio-hippy sex mysticism of Father John Misty, […]

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#1044: 1969, Roberta Flack, Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

November 5, 2015

The opening track to side two of Roberta Flack’s marvellous debut album, First Take – a recent discovery thanks to a speculative second-hand vinyl purchase. A bit of a revelation, can’t recommend it highly enough. This song, written by Leonard Cohen and featuring on his debut two years earlier, is tender, touching, and in Roberta […]

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#1043: 1974, Tom Waits, The Heart of Saturday Night

October 20, 2015

All That’s Left Committee, correct me if I am wrong, but we appear to have only one Tom Waits song listed within 1043 songs in the vaults of Songs To Learn And Sing. This is a pretty disgraceful oversight and one that I am going to rectify with immediate effect. So, tonight’s song of choice […]

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#1042: 1987, The Cure, Just Like Heaven

October 13, 2015

Things have been a bit shite really – for various reasons – far too many to go into on these pages things have been a bit difficult for some of us who write on this blog and sadly this has meant a reduced output of our rants, reflections and ruminations, and, of course, our daily […]

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#1041: 1994, Suede, We Are The Pigs

September 22, 2015

The news this week for some reason brought this song to mind. This one is dedicated to all the people the Tories have screwed over the last five and a half years, and will screw over the next four and a half. It all leaves a rather bitter taste in the mouth. And as the […]

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#1040: 1993, Senseless Things, Primary Instinct

August 25, 2015

I felt like something a bit noisier today, so how about this slice of early 90s indie-punk pop. Strong guitar riff, big bass, nice hooks,  and a healthy anti-racism message. What’s not to like!? Used to love it back in the day. The UK’s answer to Nirvana, or something like that…

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#1039: 1978, The Stranglers, 5 Minutes

August 11, 2015

Fancy some angry music? Ok. You can have a bit of The Stranglers. The Stranglers were the ultimate outsiders – their music is fast, bass driven and bloody aggressive. There was a genuine aura of danger with this lot. Both in terms of look and a totally unique sound. 5 Minutes was released in 1978 […]

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#1038: 1976, The Runaways, Cherry Bomb

August 10, 2015

Time for a bit of female rocking out with dashings of ‘tude from proto-punks The Runaways. A nice bunch of women who you rather expect might have stuck a stiletto heel into Donald Trump’s bollocks if he had tried to make similar comments about them to those he used about Megyn Kelly. Times may have […]

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#1037: 1980, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, Enola Gay

August 6, 2015

70 years ago today, the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. In doing so they killed between 90,000 and 166,000 people. That’s men, women and children. I’ve been listening to those who justify that act on various news and radio programmes today. It ended the war, they tell us, it saved lives, they say. […]

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#1036: 1986, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Some Candy Talking

July 31, 2015

A few weekends back Jackie South and I went to see the Jesus and Mary Chain at the Roundhouse performing their seminal 1985 debut album Psychocandy.   The Reid brothers (particularly William) are a bit larger around the waste from their heroin-skinniness back in the day and the drum set up is more than pre-Primals Bobby […]

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#1035: 1984, Kraftwerk, Tour de France

July 25, 2015

I’ve finally warmed to Chris Froome during this Tour. While I would have cheered had Quintana managed to pull off the last minute steal on today’s fantastic stage, I was happy to see Froome hold his lead and seal his overall win. Thoroughly deserved and all that’s left is the roll into Paris. As for […]

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#1034: 2015, FFS, Piss Off

July 7, 2015

One of the most exciting developments in the world of arty-farty post-punk is the supergroup collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. The result is the production of an album that is bizarrely both coherent and crazily creative. FFS is an album that is a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. It pretty […]

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