I get to hear a lot of music, so my likes are broad and a bit crazy. People often ask me to name my favourite, or least favourite tunes. So here’s my top ten, in no particular order.
Shake Rattle & Roll – Big Joe Turner
Later covered by Bill Haley. Joe had great talent and this was one of the sign-posts along the road to rock and roll.
Leaps And Bounds – Paul Kelly
The clock on the silo is still there – even if it doesn’t tell time anymore. A timeless song from Paul’s Gossip album, always takes me to Melbourne in winter.
Coyote – Joni Mitchell.
Possibly inspired by touring with Bob Dylan, people from different sets of circumstances find each other. From Hejira (1976) with great fretless bass from Jaco Pastorius.
Talkin’ New York – Bob Dylan
Brand new to New York, this 1962 live recording from Gerde’s Folk City describes his early days in the big smoke – a rambling laugh out loud classic.
The Bangles – Walk Like and Egyptian
Great pop writing, full of hooks and catchy lyrics. The Bangles deliver the goods and start an 80s dance craze
Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango
Early 70s hit, one of the first African tunes played on Australian radio, from Cameroon-born funkster. The song found its way to an Indian grocery store in New York, from there to radio station WBLS and soon was an international hit. A must have for long distance drives.
Shams-ud-Doha – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Nusrat was the modern day great of Qawwali, a style of devotional music with its roots in the Sufi branch of Islam. One of the first stars of the 1980s boom in “world” music, but there’s much more to the great Nusrat than his international releases. The magical first time I heard him was this from the Shahen Shah album.
Up a Lazy River – Louis Armstrong Newport Jazz 1958
Hoagy Carmichael was a master song-writer. His 1930 composition “Up a Lazy River” became a jazz standard. Louis Armstrong’s live take on it soars above the hundreds of covers of this song. Here Louis and His All-Stars work their magic at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground – Blind Willie Johnson
Haunting gospel-blues recorded in 1927. Willie hums over his self-taught bottle-neck slide, no lyrics, but you get what he was going through. One of 27 songs launched into space on the Voyager mission in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on planet Earth — it was chosen to express and explain the human feeling of loneliness.
I can’t be certain, now, of my earliest musical memories. My uncle’s jazz collection, and hearing 50s pop songs coming out of a bakelite radio. The Del Vikings were great exponents of 50s vocal harmony, one of the few one of the few racially integrated groups of the time.