The Greatest Beats of Your Heart

March 11, 2015 Music , MUSIC/FILM/TV

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New, Old, Undiscovered or World Renowned, The Five Records You Can Always Turn To

 

We often read of ‘greatest’ records and how one ranks higher than another in year end or all time lists, but rarely do we talk of what is close to the heart and special to the individual.

In an attempt to right this particular wrong Tuck Magazine has created a feature that will highlight a number of people’s personal musical gems, at the same time introducing them to a whole new audience. The music, be it an album or single track, will not necessarily be the most fashionable or groundbreaking, included to be trendy or knowledgably obscure, but that which is important to the person and very much what we can always turn to in times of heartbreak, relaxation or joy.

In the first of a regular series of such articles we look at one half of Tuck Magazine’s editorial staff Michael Organ’s choices.

 

 

 

1. Darts – Darts (1977) Magnet Records LP

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For an eight year old boy in the 1970s there are a number of things a parent could choose for a birthday present:  Action Man, a bike, football or even Star Wars toys. For this particular boy however, there was something even better: tickets to see my favourite band The Darts.

I don’t remember that much about it, but there I was sitting next to my Mum at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls in 1979, starstruck for the band’s tour of their third album ‘Dart Attack’. Not bad for a first gig and one which I am proud to have been part of………despite the lack of any detailed memory.

A few years earlier, the band released their self titled debut LP on the Magnet label in the UK. Having been brought up on original fifties rock ‘n roll, hearing their modern rocky version of The Rays’ ‘Daddy Cool’ on Top of The Pops could not have sounded more right to these young and hungry ears.

 

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The whole album became my everyday from start to finish, each warm bass and rocking note my own as I secretly dreamt of being part of this crazy but perfect scene. Of all the records I own, this would be the one I have played most over the years and will always return to.

Fresh covers of The Coasters, Willie Mabon, Little Richard and The Wrens blended effortlessly with the band’s own powerful numbers, ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Too Hot in the Kitchen’ to name but a few. Tracks varied from upbeat to downtempo doo wop and rock ‘n roll, Bob Fish, Griff Fender and Rita Ray’s sublime vocals the perfect match for Den Hegarty’s maniacal bass tones with the tightest of bands (John Dummer, Hammy Howell and all) at the back.

I recall staring endlessly at the iconic cover of them at a fairground, forever imagining and wanting more, the band’s own individual and unique poses on the back adding to the mystery for me.

After this record came greater fame with consistently charting singles and a second album which, tried as it might, never could match the raw genius of the debut. An amazing and different third followed, and that was and is for me, the Darts.

 

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Untouchable in my mind and the ideal start to an ongoing love affair with all things music. Thank you Darts, you will always have been my first.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Luscious Jackson – Natural Ingredients (1994) Grand Royal LP

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Luscious Jackson first seduced me in 1992, their debut mini LP/EP ‘In Search of Manny’ coming at a time when hip hop, and for that matter, music in general for this writer, had seemingly lost its uniqueness and charm. Two years later the all female band released their full length LP ‘Natural Ingredients’ on the stylishly funky Grand Royal label. Naturally I was at the shop the day of its release.

One test of a record’s quality I have found is how many times you play it and this is certainly one I dug deeply into each groove, continually wanting more. Much as the Beastie Boys’ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ was for the eighties, ‘Natural Ingredients’ is very much my ‘Pet Sounds’ for the nineties; it’s that good.

 

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A laidback urgency forever cool, the warm freshness of oldschool poetics alongside the melodious colours of everyday make this timelessly untouchable. Clean yet rugged, the beats tug and glide along with you, each musical instrument a voice and vice versa.

 

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Think Blondie mixed with the Beastie Boys and you are half way there. An album that sounds as strong as it did on its release, this truly is as good as it gets in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Dr John – Dr John Plays Mac Rebennack (1981) Demon LP

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I consider myself fortunate that I had a rock ‘n roll upbringing. Not so much the lifestyle, but a Dad who loved it and made a habit of playing some life changing records, from as far back as I can remember.

One area that always struck a chord with me was the piano, boogie woogie to be precise. I soon latched onto anything and everything I could in this respect, identifying and singling out the left handed boogie part of records that just killed me, keen as ever to get my hands and ears on whatever they could.

 

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I first heard of this ‘81 LP from an old Record Collector review, the description of a solo piano album being something I just had to hear so, ten years after its release I found a second hand vinyl copy in Beanos of Croydon.

The standout initially for me was a track called ‘Mac’s Boogie’, very much true to its name and right up my street, but there were twelve others too, each offering an insight into the Night Tripper’s musical genius.

 

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Repeated listenings of this record over the years have only strengthened my love for it, the beautiful opening track ‘Dorothy’ now standing head and shoulders above an already tall stack of impressive numbers.

All except two are instrumentals, Mac’s fingers addressing the blues with a unique New Orleans jazz style that still wows to this day. ‘Delicado’, ‘Memories of Professor Longhair’, ‘Big Mac’ and ‘Saints’ are all to die for, making the album a masterpiece in this writer’s eyes and ears. Truly, let the piano play on.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Llama Farmers – Paper Eyes (1998) Fierce Panda single

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1997 and 1998 were years the radio rang through me as each day I immersed myself in the newly legalised XFM indie station in London. This of course was when it had just started to broadcast and still had an edge, if you cared to listen hard enough that is. Shows from DJs such as Ian Camfield, John Kennedy, Claire Sturgess and Gary Crowley filled my listening days, with the daily interruptions from a then unknown Ricky Gervais an unmissable treat too.

Playlists at that time offered something worthwhile and it was through these that I came across a mindblowing record from the bizarre sounding Llama Farmers. I only had to hear this once and was instantly taken to a place of sheer rock bliss. It starts with the boldest of kicks and crashes straight into growling guitar, never releasing you for its three minutes of hearthumping heaven.

 

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I was lucky enough to get a copy of this on seven inch on the famed and funky Fierce Panda label within days of its release and have played it so many times the needle now rocks along with its own jumps and starts. Not for whatever reason included on their LP at the time, this remains as strong and elusively cool as ever.

 

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Confident, loud and just downright rocking, this is without doubt a ‘Teenage Kicks’ for the nineties and needs to be treated accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Chas & Dave – Chas & Dave’s Jamboree Bag No.3 (1985) Rockney LP

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Christmas ‘85 for me was music, music, music. The days of Star Wars, Rocky films and football had all fallen to the sounds which now overtook my everyday. Hip Hop had come into my life too but there was one record I just had to have and it didn’t emanate from the Bronx.

Alright, it was a cassette, and a double one at that, with a songbook too. Not many releases could boast such an offering, but this one was extra special: the latest by Chas and Dave.

I first became aware of the duo in the late seventies as a young London lad innocently taping favourites from Radio One’s top forty each Sunday. ‘Gertcha’ and ‘Rabbit’ had both managed to seep into the nation’s conscious and I for one took to it all like the proverbial duck to water.

 

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Despite their impeccable roots in rock and roll and musical genius in general (all of which will be detailed in a future Tuck article), Chas and Dave have been unfairly branded with the ‘novelty’ tag from the time of their earliest chart successes. Sure, sporting tie-ins, theme tunes, adverts and even TV shows may not have helped in that respect, but there is so much more to the duo that changed my life thirty five years ago.

The record, or tape from my experience, was the third instalment of the Jamboree Bag series, this bigger and more colourful than anything that came before. To those unaware of such delights, these albums consisted of a medley of old songs from the thirties, forties and fifties, blended lovingly into a rocking singalong, given full respect musically and vocally by the boys. This album, being a double, had four sides, each with a theme (Rock ‘n Roll, Old Time Boogie, Waltz and Knees Up), the entire side a non stop stream of at least twenty five different numbers, meaning there were over one hundred on the whole lot.

 

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Not only did they introduce me to old and long lost songs, but also the genius of music hall and in particular, Harry Champion. Where else would I have heard ‘Our Old Lodger’, ‘Enjoy Yourself’ and ‘Henry the Eighth’? From this I discovered so much more of the past and am musically richer for it.

I know every inch of this album and can recite each side in its entirety, so perfect is it. Discovering the lyrics to ‘Lovin Up a Storm’ and ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ on the Rock ‘n Roll side was another joy, not to mention their version of ‘I’m Ready’, arguably better than the Fatman’s himself.

 

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This is one record I will happily stand up and fight for. Now join me in a celebratory singalong………………….

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have five records equally close to your heart that you will always return to?  Readers are invited to submit their own thoughts and selections via the Comments section or email: editor@tuckmagazine.com

 

 

 

 

me

Michael Organ

Managing Editor and Publisher of Tuck Magazine. A music lover whose first record was a seven inch of Hank Mizell’s ‘Jungle Rock’ (or it could have been Pinky and Perky, the memory is a little hazy) and is passionate about all things music, in particular Oldschool Hip Hop, Rock and Roll, Dylan, Jazz, Led Zep and Blues; in fact anything and everything good.

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