INXS – I Need You Tonight (12″ Mix)
June 25, 2012

A track that really doesn’t need much of an introduction, INXS were pretty much unstoppable when this was released. The riff is a legendary slice of late 80’s pop, catchy and inescapable once its hooked itself to the inside of your skull. Hutchence’s vocals take an important but laid back, sordid position at the back of the track while the instrumental sits right up front, exactly where it should be.

The 12″ re-edit just lengthens the original composition with some echo effects but more importantly, it keeps the riff and baseline going for much much longer and lets be honest here, its the reason the track is so beloved. An absolute classic.

From Wikipedia

In INXS’s official autobiography, INXS: Story to Story, Andrew Farriss said that the famous riff to the song appeared suddenly in his head while waiting for a cab to go to the airport to fly to Hong Kong. He asked the cab driver to wait a couple of minutes while he grabbed something from his motel room. In fact, he went up to record the riff and came back down an hour later with a tape to a very annoyed driver. This riff was later described as sounding like a cross between Keith Richards and Prince.
The song is a much more electronic track than most of the band’s material before or after, combining sequencers with regular drum tracks and a number of tracks of layered guitars. To approximate the sound on the recorded track, the band often utilizes click tracks for a frequent synthesizer chord as well as rim shots heard throughout the song.

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Otis Redding – Change Is Gonna Come [1965]
October 5, 2011

Wow, just unbelievably good. Sure, Sam Cooke did the original and its fantastic in its own right but would you just LISTEN to that? Otis just owns this track, his voice is designed for this time of melancholy soul cut. What more can be said? This is one of those rare tracks that just speaks for itself. Stop reading, close your eyes and listen.

The Detroit Spinners – The Rubberband Man Parts 1 & 2 [1976]
May 31, 2011

Its hard to believe this was released in ’76 when you had so much disco and funk being pumped out. However, this is classic Detroit Spinners territory. Catchy riffy, hooks and fantastic vocal lick that will just have you singing along in seconds. It specifically reminds me of leafing through my old man’s collection of 7″ records and digging this up because I liked the name. Oh what an introduction to the Spinners it was.

From Wikipedia
“The Rubberband Man” is a song recorded by the American vocal group The Spinners (known as “Detroit Spinners” in the UK).

The song, written by producer Thom Bell and Linda Creed, was about Bell’s son, who was being teased by his classmates for being overweight. Intended to make his son feel better about his self-image, the song eventually evolved from being about “The Fat Man” to “The Rubberband Man”. The last major hit by the Spinners to feature PhilippĂ© Wynne on lead vocals, “The Rubberband Man” spent three weeks at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and topped the U.S. R&B chart at the end of 1976. It was also a top-twenty hit in the UK Singles Chart.

Shannon – Let The Music Play [1983]
December 8, 2010

An absolute milestone in the history of dance music. One of the best vocal tracks of all time for me, i’d not listened to it in ages and up it popped on the iPod this morning – cue lots of singing in the car and hammering on the steering wheel. Why? Perfectly executed synth work, incredible proto-acid 303 business and those bassdrums, pure, unadulterated punch as only the 808 could make.

From Discogs
An undisputed classic as well as a critical record in the evolution of dance music, Shannon’s groundbreaking ‘Let The Music Play’ was, in some ways, a throwback to the diva-dominated days of 70s disco. For 1983, this cut made use of some truley cutting edge production techniques. Up until that point, electro was very much a masculine thing. When ‘Let The Music’ was released, not only did it elevate electronic music to a new high, it was also the first time we heard a robust female vocal backed by wholly synthetic music – something that has since dominated mass appeal dance music. Additionally, it also did the impossibly difficult task of transporting dance music back over to the masses (a feat for the mid 80s), something absent since disco itself.

The Family Stand – Ghetto Heaven [1990]
December 1, 2010

Where in the hell did this come from back in ’90?! Out of nowhere came this incredibly soulful masterpiece from an otherwise unknown group of the time. I remember this exploding into all corners that summer of 1990, you couldnt move for hearing this track. Full of positivity and warm soulful lyrics, it promised a great start to the 1990’s, riding on the optimism that had predated it. For me it will always be one of the tracks that defined that summer for me. Sandra St Victors vocals are absolutely sublime, the bass is deep and warm and the break is a perfect funk inspired shaker and snare combo. I dont think there is a thing not to love!

King Curtis & The Kingpin’s – Memphis Soul Stew [1967]
August 24, 2010

I still remember the day my old man dug this out and I was old enough to understand just how incredible a track it is. Its a masterclass in how to throw a track together, with some of the best artists in the business. Probably the best know track from King Curtis, its got some of the best bassline, horn and break combinations of any Soul track of the time. The look on my fathers face the day he slapped this on the table was priceless. Its probably the same look ive got right now 🙂 YEAH!

Somewhat sadly, four years after this was released, Curtis was murdered on the steps of his NY apartment by a couple of junkies. [1]On the day of his funeral Atlantic Records closed their offices. Jesse Jackson administered the service and as the mourners filed in, Curtis’s band ‘The Kingpins’ played “Soul Serenade”. Amongst those attending were Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Duane Allman.[11] Franklin sang the closing spiritual “Never Grow Old” and Stevie Wonder performed “Abraham, Martin & John and now King Curtis” (*1* taken from Wikipedia)

King Curtis & The Kingpins performing Memphis Soul Stew live

From Wikipedia
Curtis Ousley (February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971), who performed under the name King Curtis, was an American tenor, alto, and soprano saxophonist and session musician who played rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, funk and soul jazz. He was also a musical director and record producer. He was best known for his distinctive sax riffs and solos such as on “Yakety Yak”, which later became the inspiration for Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax” and his own “Memphis Soul Stew”.

Aretha Franklin – Rocksteady [1972]
August 3, 2010

Buried deep on Franklin’s seminal 1972 album “Young, Gifted and Black”, Rocksteady is a track that is hard to ignore. Taken on its own, its a great funk styled breakbeat belter. But seat this into a breaking set and you’ll see the place go mental. Its all about Aretha’s soulful vocals over those crackin breaks provided by drummer, Bernard Purdie. Absolutely legendary break specialist. Absolute corker.

From Discogs
The Queen of Soul delivers a truly stunning album that is surely her finest and one of the greatest pieces of Soul music ever made. Aretha’s vocals on this album are breathtaking and incredibly moving. From the powerful black Soul power of ‘Young, Gifted and Black’, and the sweet soulful funk of ‘Rock Steady’ right through to the stunning and mesmerising closing track that lifts your spirits through the sky ‘Border Song (Holy Moses). This is essential and timeless Soul music.