If Versailles makes you think of Louis XIV and nothing else, let me introduce you to AIR, a French band from that very city near Paris. They have released quite a few albums since the late 90’s, but my favorite is still their debut album Moon Safari, which also contains All I Need.
Should you decide to check out other songs by AIR, make sure to also catch Playground Love, from the soundtrack of Sofia Copolla’s film debut The Virgin Suicides.
Should you stumble, somewhere in the deep, dark crevices of your cupboard, upon a can labeled Legendary 80’s Tracks, and decide to open it, it’s nearly impossible that it would not contain this Walk Out to Winter by Aztec Camera, a Scottish band which was modestly successful in that particular decade.
This song is one of the seldom cases where the extended version (referred to at the time as the maxi-single) not only meant twice the amount of minutes, but also extended quality and enjoyment for the audience – so, if you don’t like it right away (which would utterly surprise me) please put up with the 4 minute intro and stick around for the gorgeous guitar solo that starts around 5:43.
Jon Cutler must be the proud owner of what might possibly be the shortest Wikipedia page about any musician – apparently there is not much to tell about him. But nevertheless this It’s Yours (2001) in my view is enough to grant him eternal fame.
These days (read: at my age) I can usually resist turning the volume up to the maximum when a song kicks in, but not in this case. Damn good music!
In the early 1980’s there was a spectacular wave of interesting Belgian bands. This was not obvious to me at the time, as I (born on the mid 60’s) was just discovering music, so I figured this abundance was the default situation. Only in retrospect did I realize how exceptional the era was.
Such a bold statement of course begs for some proof to back it up, so here’s a very nice example: Allez Allez (which happens to be both the name of the band and the song).
It’s the 4th track on the Chemical Brothers’ masterpiece album Come With Us, that also contains beauties such as It Began In Afrika (ka-ka-ka – I simply cannot mention that song title without adding those extra repeats) and Pioneer Skies. But I have selected Star Guitar here as the combination of the song itself and the accompanying video create an extra dimension.
You might not notice it at the first viewing (in case you want to test this yourself: stop reading right now, watch the clip and then come back to continue reading – welcome back for those who just did that), but the clip is not just some random footage shot from a riding train. In fact: a huge amount of work was put into it, to make sure that each beat within the song consistently corresponds to a visual element you see outside the train window: some part of the railroad infrastructure, fence pickets, bridges, etc. Or would you rather believe that there is a town somewhere that was silly enough to build 6 water towers, each a few 100 meters apart?
In the 1980s and 90s this song would always be ranked in the top spot whenever I submitted a top 3/5/10 of all time favorites. Nowadays it’s down to number 2 – ever since Eels started releasing albums.
Part of the enchanting magic of Steppin’ Out is the fade in from the previous song on the album Night & Day, which you can unfortunately not experience in this clip. So, if you ever have the opportunity: do listen to the entire album.
Of course this band in not from Portugal (but from the US). That’s what indie rock musicians will do for you. Ever since I had heard this Feel It Still a couple of times, I knew it would be my favourite song of 2017, and indeed it was – even a few months into 2018, it still is the best new song I’ve heard in a while.
And then the sheer guts of using punctuation in the band name – love it. I’m quite sure there were some SEO specialists trying to convince them no to go down that road.
For the fans of the 90s: one of the songs that inevitably causes me to start moving (the initial move obviously being turning up the volume). The New York based band Deee-Lite released a couple of albums in the first half of the 90s, but will mainly be remembered as a one hit wonder, because of this gorgeous Groove Is In The Heart. Ah, well, better a one hit wonder than a no hit disaster.
Give me a reason not to like this song. In a lot of cases, songs with electrical guitars in them, contain – for my personal taste – too much of it. But not in this Glory Box. Here it is an element that perfectly blends in with the mix of melancholy and restraint that unites the other musical instruments and lead singer Beth Gibbon’s voice. Definitely one of my favorites from the 90’s (also because it contains a sample of a Belgian classic from the 60’s : Daydream by Wallace Collection).
If you ask people to name a 60’s pop song from Belgium, they typically come up with Daydream (Wallace Collection), Seven Horses in the Sky (The Pebbles) or Dominique (Soeur Sourire) – some of which definitely also belong to my favorites (I leave it up to your deductive skills, gathered from my previous Song of the day posts, to figure out which ones).
But another marvelous song is often overlooked: Move by the duo Jess & James, 2 Belgian brothers with Portuguese roots. The song was originally released in 1967, the video I am linking to dates from 1968 – you will appreciate the flashy and hyper-professional camera work. Some of you might also know the song from the 80s cover version by The Trammps, but as is the case with most covers; nothing beats the original.