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Thursday, 29 November 2018

S4L Radio Show Playlist #12

It's been a couple of months since the last S4L Radio Show Playlist so I thought I had better rectify that.

This time around there are new tracks (Smashing Pumpkins, Amy MacDonald, Def Leppard, Bruce Springsteen and Chvrches), cover versions (Sonic Youth, Paul Heaton + Jacqui Abbott, Glen Campbell and First Aid Kit), songs that feature on new collections released this year (R.E.M., Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, and Primal Scream) and a few other rocking tunes for good measure.

Hope you enjoy it.

On The Playlist
Mexican Radio - Wall of Voodoo

Old, New, Borrowed and Blue:
I'm An Adult Now - Pursuit of Happiness
Travels - Smashing Pumpkins
Ca Plane Pour Moi - Sonic Youth
Grey Skies Turn Blue - MxPx

Got Each Other (feat. Rancid) - The Interrupters
Woman of the World - Amy MacDonald

Cover Me:
Heal the World (Live on BBC Radio 2) - Paul Heaton + Jacqui Abbott (Michael Jackson Cover)
Personal Jesus - Def Leppard
Running Up The Hill (Live) - First Aid Kit
Time of Your Life (Live) (Good Riddance) - Glen Campbell

Miracle (Hansa Sessions) - Chvrches
Red Aces - The Aints
Thinking (Live) - Duncan Reid and the Big Heads
Punk Rock Girl - The Boys
London is Burning - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
World Leader Pretend (Live BBC 1991) - R.E.M.
Rocks (Original Memphis Sessions) - Primal Scream
Every Saturday Night - Graham Parker

Parting Shot
Land of Hope and Dreams (Live on Broadway) - Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

My Favourite Songs of 2018: Take on the Dark - Amanda Shires (August)

Take On The Dark - Amanda Shires
'To The Sunset'
Silver Knife Records
Produced by Dave Cobb
Released 3rd August 2018

Take On The Dark
written by Amanda Shires

[Verse 1]
I know I said, "Everything's gonna be okay"
But what I meant to say was, "You'll make it through"
Tomorrow will come, tomorrow is yet to be won
You'll push yourself back up and fight the urge to run

And take on the dark
Without letting it take over
Lead with your heart
Don't look over your shoulder
And take on the dark
It's okay to fall apart
It's okay to fall apart
It's okay to fall apart

[Verse 2]
Worry can be a tumblin', tumultuous sea
With all of its roarin' and its breakin'
How 'bout you be the waves, too unafraid to even be brave?
See yourself breakin' out of this place

And take on the dark
Without letting it take over
Lead with your heart
Don't look over your shoulder
And take on the dark
It's okay to fall apart
It's okay to fall apart
It's okay to fall apart

Listen to the album here.


When 'To The Sunset' was released a certain musician claimed that reviewers etc. could barely contain themselves about writing about her 'Significant Other' when speaking of her musical journey (it's actually hard not to as I am finding approaching this piece!) but as he only plays a supporting role on the album we'll try and not mention him at all! πŸ˜„

Amanda Shires is a very talented musician/Songwriter, having begun her musical journey playing violin at aged ten, and by 15 she was playing with the Texas Playboys. Releasing her debut album in 2005 (Being Brave - a mainly instrumental album) and she has continued to release albums, a further four solo before the release of 'To The Sunset' (West Cross Timbers in 2009, Carrying Lightning in 2011, Down Fell The Doves in 2013 and My Piece of Land in 2016) and one with Rod Picott (Sew Your Heart With Wires in 2009). She has also contributed her musical skills on a number of projects with many artists including John Prine's latest 'Tree of Forgiveness' (well worth a listen if you are looking for something different to listen to), Thrift Store Cowboys, Justin Townes Earle, Todd Snider, Blackberry Smoke and Tommy Emmanuel to name but a few. She's also played and recorded with "that bloke" we are not going to mention and even won a grammy! πŸ˜‰

Added to her list of achievements is the Master of Fine Arts in Poetry degree she received in 2017 and of course becoming a mother in 2015.

The song 'Take on the Dark' is my favourite track from 'To The Sunset'. I love the mix of hopefulness ("You'll make it through") and the facing up to the truth that "It's okay to fall apart" because it's in those moments of despair we are able to find strength and it allows us to "take on the dark without letting it take over"

On a personal note I have found the song to be a great encouragement during the past few months dealing with my epilepsy and the moments that I have felt down and out because of it. I don't know exactly what Amanda had in mind when she wrote the song but it's great to discover that this song speaks into my own life. So thanks for the song Amanda.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Unstoppable - Candi Staton (August)

Unstoppable - Candi Staton
Beracah Records/Thirty Tigers
Produced by Mark Nevers
Released 24th August 2018

Where tracks are available on You Tube I have included the link below in the tracklist for the album. If you want to listen to the album in full I'm sure places like Spotify etc have it up on their service.

A1 Confidence 4:41
A2 I Fooled You, Didn't I? 3:49
A3 Love Is You 5:00
A4 It Ain't Over 3:47
A5 People Have The Power 3:57
B1 Revolution Of Change 5:58
B2 Stand Up 4:25
B3 (Whats So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding 4:06
B4 The Prize Is Not Worth The Pain 4:13
B5 Can I Change My Mind? 3:25

I love finding stuff that takes me totally by surprise and Unstoppable from long time Southern Soul/Gospel singer Candi Staton (aged 78) really turned my head after hearing her cover versions of Patti Smith's 'People Have the Power' and Nick Lowe's '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding'.

In the UK if you mention the name Candi Staton most people would obviously mention her 1976 #2 hit single 'Young Hearts Run Free' and just assume that she came out of nowhere to have a hit. But Canzetta Maria Staton has had a long musical history that dates back to her travelling the Gospel circuit with The Soul Stirrers, Mahalia Jackson and C.L. Franklin in the 1950s. She went solo in the late 60s and has released around 29 albums (covering Soul, Disco, Pop, Gospel and even Country!) since 1970.

It's a cracking follow-up to her May 2014 release 'Life Happens', which she recorded at FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals alongside with guests like Jason Isbell and John Paul White (formerly of The Civil Wars) on the song 'I Ain't Easy To Love'. Read a very insightful interview with her from The Quietus from back in 2014.

The release of the album and the tour to promote it was dampened by the news that Candi Staton had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer but she has vowed to keep battling on (this news was only made public at the end of October). You can read her statement regarding it that was posted on her website by clicking the link.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

New Release: Circles - P.O.D. (16th November)

Circles - P.O.D.
Mascot Records
Produced by The Heavy
Released 16th November 2018

A1 Rockin' With The Best 2:38
A2 Always Southern California 3:09
A3 Circles 3:26
A4 Panic Attack 3:01
A5 On The Radio 3:09
A6 Fly Away 3:09
B1 Listening For The Silence 3:48
B2 Dreaming 3:02
B3 Domino 3:28
B4 Soundboy Killa 4:05
B5 Home 4:01

Sonny Sandoval Interview San Diego Union-Tribune (15th November 2018)


If there are some who are unaware of the history of P.O.D. here's a brief summary. Included are links for albums and singles etc that you should check out. Then that should set the stage for the new album 'Circles'.


It's been 26 years since P.O.D. (Payable on Death) first formed in San Diego and during that time they have only ever had three line up changes. The first was when original Bassist Gabe Portillo left the band in 1993 with current Bassist Traa Daniels replacing him; the second was in 2003 when Guitarist Marcos Curial departed to be replaced by Jason Truby (formerly of Living Sacrifice); and then thirdly, when Marcos asked to rejoin the band three years later on the same day that Jason Truby handed in his request to leave for pastures new. The line up has pretty much remained solid since.
 (P.O.D. left to right: Wuv, Marcos, Traa and Sonny)

Sonny Sandoval - Lead Vocals
Traa Daniels - Bass, Backing Vocals
Marcos Curiel - Guitars,
Backing Vocals
Wuv Bernando Jr. - Drums, Backing Vocals

They have come a long way since their 1993 Demo that was issued on Cassette on Rescue Records (a label set up by Wuv's Father, who was also their manager for the first few years). On Rescue Records they released three albums: 'Snuff The Punk' (January 1994), 'Brown' (October 1996),  and 'Payable on Death Live' (1997).

In 1998 the band came to the attention of Atlantic Records and after seeing them live at The Roxy in Los Angeles they were signed to the label. They released 'The Warriors' EP on Tooth & Nail Records as a transitional release in May 1998 (limited to 30,000 copies) prior to the August 1999 release of their major label debut 'The Fundamental Elements of Southtown'. Southtown peaked on the Billboard Chart at #51 and two tracks were released as singles and although neither charted they gained a lot of airplay on MTV ('Southtown' and 'Rock the Party'). A third track, not on the album also had a video, 'School of Hard Knocks', and was included as part of the Soundtrack for the film Little Nicky in 2000.

July 2001 the band released 'Alive' as the forerunner to the highly anticipated new album 'Satellite'. 'Alive' rocketed up the UK Charts to #19 whilst reaching only #41 in the USA. It would become one of the most aired videos of the year on MTV/MTV2

The album 'Satelitte', arrived on a day that would have life altering tragedy for many, 11th September 2001. It would go on to sell 7 million copies worldwide peaking at #6 in the States and #16 in the UK. A further three singles were released from the album: 'Youth of the Nation' (which charted on both sides of the Atlantic), 'Boom' (that featured Blindside in the video playing table tennis against P.O.D.) and title track 'Satellite'. Q magazine here in the UK said, "...heavy, angry, and very, very loud....many songs have messages of peace and spirituality....their Gen-X angst sounds genuine...", whilst giving it 3/5 stars.

'Sleeping Awake' was part of the Soundtrack for The Matrix Reloaded in May 2003 followed by 'Will You' in September 2003. The album 'Payable on Death' followed in November 2003 and whilst it reached #9 in the States its sales came nowhere close to what 'Satelitte' had sold.

A new album was due for release in December in 2005 but was pushed back. The band took the opportunity to release 'The Warriors Volume 2' EP. The seven track EP contained demos from the sessions for the forthcoming album as well as two live tracks and was released a week after the first single that would feature on their sixth album, 'Goodbye for Now'. That single and the video would feature a young lady on backing vocals who would go on to have a huge career herself, Katy Perry!

'Testify' would be their final album for Atlantic Records. Released in January 2006. In November the same year Rhino Records would release 'Greatest Hits: The Atlantic Years' that included 17 tracks covering singles and album tracks and two previously unreleased songs: 'Here We Go' and the single 'Going In Blind'. It would also reach #9 on the US chart.

Two years later there was yet another new label (INO Records in the USA and their own P.O.D. Records and Cooking Vinyl Records for Europe) and a brand new album, 'When Angels & Serpents Dance', released April 2008. It included the singles 'Addicted' and 'Shine With Me'. The album was the third one in a row to peak at #9 on the Billboard Chart.

Moving forward four years and P.O.D. had signed with Razor & Tie and released 'Murdered Love' with Howard Benson back on producing duty. Three singles were released from the album: 'Lost in Forever (Scream)', 'Higher' and 'Beautiful' and each had a promo video which you can see by clicking the link. There was also a video for the title track 'Murdered Love'.

The SoCal Sessions album was next up and was released on T-Boy Records November 2014. This one was a little different in that it was an Acoustic album and spotlighted a number of songs drawn from previous albums. 

August 2015 saw the release of their second album for T-Boy Records, a Concept album entitled 'The Awakening'. Whilst it drew some favourable press coverage it's probably the least played album by P.O.D. that I own. I think it has more to do with me not looking so favourably upon Concept albums rather than the quality of the music.

Then finally we come to November 2018 and the release of 'Circles'. They were saying that they had been co-writing with some folk for this album, something which they had not really ever done before and there was the possibility that it might offer up a rather different view of P.O.D. than expected. But the good news is that they have managed to maintain that typical P.O.D. sound and throughout the album it makes you think back to other points in their back catalogue. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing, especially when you have fond memories of those earlier records.

My favourites so far from the album are Rockin' With The Best, On The Radio and Listening For The Silence.

The Circles Interviews with P.O.D.

Monday, 19 November 2018

New Release: The Last King of Pop - Paul Heaton

The Last King of Pop - Paul Heaton
Virgin EMI Records
Released 16th November 2018

The Last King Of Pop Tracklist

‘I Gotta Praise’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton + Jacqui Abbott)
‘Don’t Marry Her’ (The Beautiful South)
‘Poems’ (Paul Heaton)
‘Happy Hour’ (The Housemartins)
‘Moulding Of A Fool’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘Prettiest Eyes’ [single version] (The Beautiful South)
‘Me and the Farmer’ (The Housemartins)
‘Good As Gold’ (The Beautiful South)
‘Real Hope’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton + Jacqui Abbott)
‘You Keep It All In (The Beautiful South)
‘Austerity of Love’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘Build’ [single version] (The Housemartins)
‘Rotterdam’ (The Beautiful South)
‘She Got The Garden’ (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘Old Red Eyes Is Back (The Beautiful South)
‘Flag Day’ [single version] (The Housemartins)
‘Manchester’ (The Beautiful South)
‘D.I.Y.’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘Perfect 10’ (The Beautiful South)
‘I Don’t See Them’ [radio mix] (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘Song For Whoever’ [single version] (The Beautiful South)
‘A Little Time’ (2018 Version) (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)
‘7” Singles’ (2018) (Paul Heaton
+ Jacqui Abbott)


The cynic in me says that you know Christmas is on the way because there is almost an avalance of artists putting out Christmas music albums or putting out "Greatest Hits" packages but I am not overly cynical about this release from Paul Heaton at all! Yes, there are a few concerns because the music of his bands The Housemartins and The Beautiful South have featured individually and together on these types of collections in previous years. In many ways there's always that element of disappointment regarding things that have been on albums of like nature before. On the other hand though I think that the concept behind The Last King of Pop is spot on as it draws from the wells of over 30 years of a musical career and gives us the "highlights" in a sort of edited Match of the Day broadcast!

So let's have a quick look at what's included (and maybe mention a "few" things that are not!). There could quite easily have been a 2CD set for this because there is so much to draw upon and the compiler has stuck to the mandate of putting together an album of Glorious Poptastic Tunes and thus some better tunes have been laid to the side. I have included a whole bunch of links to some of these songs that could quite easily have found a home on this release. Click on them to enjoy more music from the songbooks of King Paul!

(The Housemartins)

It's fitting that 'Flag Day' should be included as this was the first ever single by the band. 'Happy Hour' (which was their first massive hit, reaching #3), 'Me and the Farmer' and 'Build' (singles taken from their great second album 'The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death') are also included. It's a shame that 'Sheep', 'Think For A Minute' and 'Five Get Over Excited' were overlooked because they were terrific singles as well.

(The Beautiful South)

After the folding of The Housemartins in 1988, Paul Heaton, Dave Hemingway and roadie Sean Welch formed The Beautiful South. Dave Rotheray became the creative writing partner of Paul Heaton and between 1988 - 2007 they churned out some absolute gems over the course of 10 studio albums and 34 singles. Nine songs from this phase of Heaton's musical journey appear on 'The Last King of Pop': 'Song for Whoever' (their debut single that reached #2), 'You Keep It All In', 'Old Red Eyes is Back', 'Good As Gold (Stupid as Mud)', 'Prettiest Eyes', 'Rotterdam', 'Don't Marry Her', 'Perfect 10' and 'Manchester' are the selections here. 

There is one more but it's a new version of an old Beautiful South classic (more about that later). 

(Paul Heaton)

One of the "disappointments" if you can call it that is the inclusion of only one track from Mr Heaton's Solo career ('Poems' from his debut album 'Fat Chance'). Surely a track or two from 'The Cross Eyed Rambler' (released in 2008 - 'I Do', 'She Rolled Her Own', 'Everything is Everything', 'The Kids These Days', for instance) or 'Acid Country' (released in 2010) - 'The Old Radio', 'It's A Young Man's Game', or 'Acid Country'.

(Jacqui Abbott + Paul Heaton)

The solo years between 2007-2010 might not have been his most successful time at all but unlike other songwriters/musicians he was about to get a fourth shot at the big time and this time with Jacqui Abbott (who had been with him in The Beautiful South between 1994-2000).

On working with Abbott once again, Heaton said: "Working with Jacqui again was like going into your garage and discovering a beautiful, covered up Rolls Royce that hadn't been started in years. Jacqui is one of the best singers I've worked with and is also part of my past. It was only a matter of time before I asked her."

Three tracks from their debut album 'What Have We Become?' are featured ('D.I.Y.', 'Moulding of a Fool' and 'Real Hope'); two tracks from 'Wisdom, Laughter, and Lines' ('The Austerity of Love' and 'I Don't See Them'); and two from the third studio album 'Crooked Calypso' ('I Gotta Praise' and 'She Got The Garden') are included.

Two newer songs round out the album, a new version of The Beautiful South's 'A Little Time' (given a very significant overhaul from it's original quite sombre tune to be a bit of a rock and roll hoedown!) and the very brilliant '7" Singles' (which is a deliciously "infectious ska-pop paean to a lifetime of jukebox dancing and pop music obsession").

To celebrate the release of 'The Last King of Pop', Heaton + Abbott will play 3 very special live shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Sheffield City Hall and Blackpool Empress Ballroom at the end of November where they will perform the album in full.

The dates are as follows:

24 November: Blackpool, Empress Ballroom
26 November:  Sheffield, City Hall
28 November: London, Royal Albert Hall.

I'm sure the title of the album might sound a little bit pretentious to some as it's a massive boast. I think Paul Heaton had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he came up with title but love him or loathe him, with this 23 song collection I'm pretty sure if he's not already on the throne he's either marking time or has a cunning plan for his eventual ascension!

Friday, 16 November 2018

My Favourite Songs of 2018: The President Sang Amazing Grace - Joan Baez

The President Sang Amazing Grace - Joan Baez
from the album
Whistle Down The Wind
Razor & Tie
Produced by Joe Henry
Released 2nd March 2018

The President Sang Amazing Grace
written by Zoe Mulford

A young man came to a house of prayer
They did not ask what brought him there
He was not friend, he was not kin
But they opened the door and let him in

And for an hour the stranger stayed
He sat with them and seemed to pray
But then the young man drew a gun
And killed nine people, old and young

In Charleston in the month of June
The mourners gathered in a room
The President came to speak some words
And the cameras rolled and the nation heard

But no words could say what must be said
For all the living and the dead
So on that day and in that place
The President sang Amazing Grace
The President sang Amazing Grace

We argued where to place the blame
On one man's hate or our nation's shame
Some sickness of the mind or soul
And how the wounds might be made whole

But no words could say what must be said
For all the living and the dead
So on that day and in that place
The President sang Amazing Grace
My President sang Amazing Grace 

You might wonder why I would have this song on my list of Favourite Songs of 2018, after all it's not the usual kind of thing I am known for listening to, but it gets on the list because in my mind it is one of the most beautiful songs that I have heard this year.

Originally written and performed by Zoe Mulford following the 17th June 2015 mass shooting in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people were shot dead and there were three survivors of the shooting. President Barack Obama attended the funeral of one of the victims, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney and he gave the eulogy. I think that it was this moment (or maybe it was another meeting in those late days of June) that gave Mulford the inspiration for the song.

Baez heard the song on the radio whilst driving, "and I had to pull over to make sure I heard whose song it was because I knew I had to sing it."

In passing it's worth mentioning that Joan Baez did something that she had never done before in 2008 and that was to endorse a Political Candidate for the Presidency! Writing to the San Francisco Chronicle she had said, "Through all those years, I chose not to engage in party politics. ... At this time, however, changing that posture feels like the responsible thing to do. If anyone can navigate the contaminated waters of Washington, lift up the poor, and appeal to the rich to share their wealth, it is Sen. Barack Obama." Playing at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2008, Baez said during the introduction of a song that one reason she likes Obama is because he reminds her of another old friend of hers: Martin Luther King, Jr..

So for her first studio album in a decade she recorded it and a handful of other covers by the likes of Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Anohni, Joe Henry, Kathleen Brennan, Eliza Gilkyson and Tim Eriksen. The album (Whistle Down The Wind) is actually quite beautiful and a wonderful listening experience. When you consider the years that Baez has given to the Civil Rights Movement and Human Rights and other Social and Political issues this collection of songs is a fitting end to her recording career.

Watch and Listen to a live version by Zoe Mulford Here.

The Victims of the Shooting Lest We Forget:
Clementa C. Pinckney (41) – the church's pastor and a South Carolina state senator.

    Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54) – Bible study member and manager for the Charleston County Public Library system; sister of politician and former state senator Malcolm Graham.

    Susie Jackson (87) – a Bible study and church choir member. She was the oldest victim of the shooting.

    Ethel Lee Lance (70) – the church's sexton.

    Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49) – a pastor who was also employed as a school administrator and admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University.

    Tywanza Sanders (26) – a Bible study member; grandnephew of victim Susie Jackson. He was the youngest victim of the shooting.

    Daniel L. Simmons (74) – a pastor who also served at Greater Zion AME Church in Awendaw.

    Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45) – a pastor; also a speech therapist and track coach at Goose Creek High School; mother of MLB prospect Chris Singleton.

    Myra Thompson (59) – a Bible study teacher.

Rest In Peace

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Year Zero - The Spitfires (July)

Year Zero - The Spitfires
Hatch Records
Released 27th July 2018

Watch some Promo Videos and listen to the album Year Zero here:

A1 Remains The Same    
A2 Front Line    
A3 Over And Over Again    
A4 Something Worth Fighting For    
A5 By My Side    
B1 Move On    
B2 Sick Of Hanging Around    
B3 The New Age    
B4 Year Zero    
B5 Dreamland

The Spitfires are:
Billy Sullivan - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Sam Long - Bass
Matt Johnson - Drums
Chris Chanell - Keyboards 


The tagline "the difficult third album" proved to be irrelevant when it came to the boys from Watford because they just seem to progress with every release.

I find it very refreshing that as I get older that there are still up and coming bands that thrill me when I listen to them. The Spitfires, from the first time I heard them, made a mark on me and as an old guy I'm more than happy to sing their praises.

I have a feeling that they might not like it too much if I suggest that there are signs here and there in their music that remind me of bands like The Jam and The Purple Hearts but for me they do. Whereas Old Paul Weller has opted this year to release an album of quiet, acoustic and very pastoral songs, The Spitfires have a fire in their belly dealing with social issues and an ever changing politcal landscape. They have added a few Ska/Reggae touches here and there that add good weight to the songs as well which I found most appealing. Billy Sullivan is currently one of a good crop of British Songwriters I think and his band deserve all the good things that are coming to them.

I've seen a number of really positive reviews of the album, even on a couple of Punk websites, and hope that they continue to grow as a band and carve out a niche that is all their own.

My Favourite Songs of 2018: The New Age - The Spitfires

The New Age - The Spitfires
Hatch Records
13th July 2018


Watford based band The Spitfires just seem to be getting better with each new release. 'The New Age' was released on 7" vinyl two weeks prior to the release of their third studio album 'Year Zero'*.

There were a few tracks from the album that could have made the list for My Favourites Songs of 2018 but I'll nail my colours to the mast for this one.

*This album will be featured on the next post: My Favourite Albums of 2018.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

My Favourite Songs of 2018: Be More Kind - Frank Turner (May 2018)

Be More Kind - Frank Turner
From the album 'Be More Kind' 
(Interscope Records/Polydor/Xtra Mile Recordings)
Released 4th May 2018

Be More Kind
written by Frank Turner
History's been leaning on me lately;
I can feel the future breathing down my neck
And all the things I thought were true
When I was young, and you were too
Turned out to be broken
And I don't know what comes next

In a world that has decided
That it's going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

They've started raising walls around the world now
Like hackles raised upon a cornered cat
On the borders, in our heads
Between the things that can and can't be said
We've stopped talking to each other
And there's something wrong with that

So before you go out searching
Don't decide what you will find
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

You should know you're not alone
And that trouble comes, and trouble goes
How this ends, no one knows
So hold on tight when the wind blows

The wind blew both of us to sand and sea
And where the dry land stands is hard to say
As the current drags us by the shore
We can no longer say for sure
Who's drowning, or if they can be saved

But when you're out there floundering
Like a lighthouse I will shine
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

Like a beacon reaching out
To you and yours from me and mine
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

In a world that has decided
That it's going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

"In a world that has decided
That it's going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind"

Yesterday was apparently World Kindness Day so in one sense I'm probably a little late posting this but in another sense I'm not. Kindness is not something that is just for one day in the year but should be an attitude of heart on a daily basis.

I first heard Be More Kind by Frank Turner back in 2017 sometime if I remember correctly and I recall thinking that this song could actually be one of the finest he's written to date. I was more than pleased when it was announced that it would be the title track to his seventh studio album. The fact that the subject matter of the song is extremely relevant to the days in which we are living makes it even more of an impressive song. 

This actually almost ended up as My Favourite Song of 2018 but it was just pipped at the post by something else equally as gripping (that I will post within the next couple of weeks or so).

The inspiration for the song if I have this correct was a line from a Clive James Poem that was published in The New Yorker magazine back in 2013 in which he describes his own mortality called "Leçons des Ténèbres". The line which inspired the title reads: "I should have been more kind. It is my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late."

The last line of the song, "In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind" is such a powerful statement about the world in which we live. 

People's reactions to things which they dislike, whether it be politics, music, sport, fashion, books, film, the media in general, religion/faith, and sexual orientation are sometimes so shocking to read. Many times I've read an overly agressive comment on a Facebook post or even on a You Tube video that has been so full of hatred that I have often wondered what on earth that person had actually been watching or reading to provoke such an OTT response. Even on posts that seem incredibly harmless there are people venting their spleens for one reason or another and that seems to stir others to respond in like manner leading to "raising walls around the world" instead of creating bridges! The message of this song though is to put across the totally opposite reaction (and to quote an old House of Love song, "But I won't fight and I won't hate").

I would count myself among the many who have often said a word that has been harsh toward someone (especially toward folks I don't really know on Social Media) but it's not just words that are the driving force of Frank Turner's song but also our actions. 

The call of the song is to act with kindness rather than putting up barriers and making judgements about situations and people before we have even given a moment to actually consider what on earth is really going on. 
This song certainly came as a rebuke to my own hot-headedness and I trust that in more ways than one that I have sought to do exactly what the song says, "Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind".   

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Lucy and the Rats - Lucy and the Rats (April)

Lucy and the Rats - Lucy and the Rats
Dirty Water Records (CD in the UK)
Stardumb Records/ Surfin' Ki/Monster Zero (Vinyl in Europe)
Produced by Johnny Casino
Released 13th April 2018

Released as:
200 x black vinyl
180 x clear and green marbled vinyl (Stardumb Records)
120 x clear and purple marbled vinyl (Surfin' Ki exclusive)
100 x green vinyl (Stardumb Records exclusive)
100 x white vinyl (Surfin' Ki exclusive)
100 x orange vinyl (Monster Zero exclusive)
Download at Lucy and the Rats
Bandcamp Page

Lucy and the Rats, the name was new to me but the lead vocalist Lucy Ellis was definetely not unknown to me (she formerly went under the name Lucy Spazzy as a member of the excellent Australian Pop/Punk band The Spazzys). Lucy brings that same Pop/Punk meets 60's Garage Rock Indie vibe to this band as was in her previous band The Spazzys.
Prior to the release of their Self-titled album in April of this year they had released they had released two 7" singles (Girl / Lose My Mind - December 2016 on Surfin' Ki Records and This Situation / Melody in January 2017 on Monster Zero).
The band are based in London (Lucy having been in the UK since 2015 apparently).
I'm not even sure how I stumbled on this one, I probably read about it somewhere whilst surfing around (the Web, not literally surfing because I don't think I'd be able to stand up to catch a splash let alone a wave! 😁).
Ever since picking it up way back in April it's been one that has been played on a regular basis because there's something delightful and bouncy about it. It actually reminds me in places of The Darling Buds, back when they were first playing around and releasing Indie singles before they signed to a major. I don't think this one was ever going to be left off the list of my favourites for 2018.

Monday, 12 November 2018

My Favourite Songs of 2018: See You On The Other Side - Brian Fallon

See You On The Other Side - Brian Fallon
From the album Sleepwalkers
 All my life I've been a slave to a pardon
My eyes transfixed some where far over the Jordan
And all my years I've wanted some one to die for
So I had a reason I've earned
But I've never been where you were born
Or felt the things that broke your heart
Come talk to me
Come talk to me
I want to understand

And when we both grow old
And there is nothing left to say
I want you to know
That I loved you all my days
And when we close our eyes on this life time
I'll see you on the other side
Yes I'll, see you on the other side

I would count myself lucky, loved, and entertain you
To find myself in the things that complicate you
And spend my life in your majesty service
And I call myself satisfied

But in all of my boring ways
In time and love and body aches
I loved you more
I loved you more
But a clock keeps ticking down

And when we both grow old
And there is nothing left to say
I want you to know
That I loved you all my days
And when we close our eyes on this life time
I'll see you on the other side
Yes I'll, see you on the other side
If you hold on
Hold on
Hold on to me

And when we both grow old
And there is nothing left to say
I want you to know
That I loved you all my days
And when we close our eyes on this life time
I'll see you on the other side
Yes I'll, see you on the other side

Released in February, Brian Fallon's second Solo album Sleepwalkers (on Island Records) is an absolute gem. Loaded with some great songs and I could have picked almost anyone of them but I've gone for the closing track from the album.

I wasn't too overwhelmed with his debut album Painkillers but his second ticked all the boxes and even sounded a little bit like Gaslight Anthem in places! If you haven't heard the album then CLICK HERE to have a listen. 

This time of year we focus a lot on those who we have lost as the spotlight has been on commemorations for the 100 years since the end of World War I and of course in the midst of that our attention has been on those who served in the wars since then who bravely gave their lives in pursuit of freedom. But the song can be seen in many ways especially when it comes to personal loss, whether it be a family member, a loved one, a close friend who has departed this earthly shore or one who is close to the end of their days due to illness or old age. I really like the sentiment of being able to say your goodbyes with these words: 

"And when we both grow old
And there is nothing left to say
I want you to know
That I loved you all my days
And when we close our eyes on this life time
I'll see you on the other side
Yes I'll, see you on the other side"

So, I want to dedicate this one to a number of friends who at this present time have had to say goodbye to someone special in their lives and trust that the precious memories you have of them will bring you comfort in your time of grieving.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

My Favourite Songs of 2018: Cenotaph - The Alarm

Just like with the albums I decided against providing a chartlist of my favourite songs of 2018 and have decided over the next few weeks or so to share some of the individual songs, whether released as a "Single" or just an Album Track. Once again be prepared for a whole bunch of diverse sounds. 

My first pick actually had it's Video Premiere just this morning (about an hour ago) but the song has been around for a wee while and features on the Equals album by The Alarm

It's one of Mike Peters best songs in a long time I think. Anyway, hope you like it. The main part of the video was filmed at an event for World Album Day a few weeks back on which MP played the whole of the Equals album before a very small gathering. 

Cenotaph - The Alarm
From the album Equals (released 29th June 2018)
Video Release 11th November 2018

My Favourite Albums of 2018: Encore - Anderson East

I decided that I wasn't going to do a chart list of my favourite albums of the year but rather I would just share a few albums that have been bringing me a lot of joy in 2018. It's a nice mixed bag of musical stylings that I trust maybe one or two might be a little pleasing to your ears. The final one in my list will be what for me has been my overall favourite, you are just have to keep coming back to see what that one is.

I haven't been posting an awful lot this year but am grateful to those who have stuck by to read and listen to what little I have shared. The Blog reached over 500,000 Page views a couple of weeks back and for some reason it kind of passed by without fanfare. Thank you whatever land you are in across the globe for visiting Soundtrack4Life. I am really grateful for the continued interest despite my absences throughout the year.

Encore - Anderson East
Produced by Dave Cobb
Released 12th January 2018

US Billboard 200 Chart #48
US Folk Chart #3
US Rock Chart #5

* Here are live versions and Promo Videos of songs from the album taken from various places. Click on the Links to watch.

Anderson East hails from Alabama but currently is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

I have to confess to knowing very little about him but earlier this year I heard him cover Ted Hawkins' 'Sorry You're Sick' (the Cover Version features on the Encore album) and was blown away by it so much I had to check out more from him.

I liked the fact that Dave Cobb had produced the album. His previous work on albums by Jason Isbell, Sturgis Simpson, Zac Brown Band and Chris Stapleton impressed me a lot.

Another Cover Version on the album is a Willie Nelson song ('Somebody Pick Up My Pieces') whilst the rest of the songs are co-writes with a number of folks including Chris Stapleton (his wife Morgane Stapleton also has a co-write credit for 'King For A Day'), Natalie Hemby (who has written for Lee Ann Womack, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town), Avicii (Tim Bergling, Swedish DJ/Producer who died in April 2018), Johnny McDaid (Snow Patrol), Ed Sheeran, and Steve McEwan (who has written songs for the likes of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Kylie Minogue, Roger Daltrey, Eminem and more).

With a lot of Country type folk involved you might expect that Encore was going to be a Country album but it isn't at all. Yes, there are some tinges of Country (or Country Rock, whatever you want to call it), but there are nods to Southern Soul, Folk, Americana, Pop and R&B as well which all make for an album that is really worth listening to for its sheer diversity of sound.

Encore was the first album of 2018 to really impress me and there were many more to come. Keep your eyes opened for the next one in a couple of days time.

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