Filed under: Lists
And so it is that 2008 draws to a close. To my mind it’s been a really good year for music and I continue to enjoy forcing my musings upon you as much as ever. Certainly in terms of FDB it’s been a slightly impotent end to 2008 with various technical difficulties plaguing my blogging game, but with my new MacBook up and running 2009 should bring a greater frequency of posting than you’ve become accustomed to of late.
I toyed with the idea of a ‘Best of ‘08′ but since it wouldn’t have necessarily reflected my listening habits I’m instead opting for a more personal approach (particularly given that others have that task covered admirably). Regardless of when these songs were released or whatever genre boundaries you want to lump them into, the following collection of songs are those that will forever remind me of the last twelve months. Today’s installment focuses on anything that falls outside of hip hop, Wednesday’s will be just beats and rhymes. In many cases I’ve already written something about these songs, and if so I’ve thrown a link up to the original post as well just in case you missed it first time around. I would link to where you can officially buy these songs in the usual style, but WordPress isn’t having regular formatting with all these images and that grates against my anal tendencies. Get diggin’!
Isaac Hayes – ‘The Look Of Love’
Despite not wanting to rank these tunes in any order of preference, I’d be remiss if I didn’t kick things off with the late Isaac Hayes, as I think I’ve listened to his music more than any other single artist this year. It’s a sad fact that it is often in someone’s passing that you only truly appreciate their greatness, and such was the case for myself and My Hayes this year, whose discography I have devoured at a rate of knots over the last twelve months. It’s impossible for me to pick a single favourite Hayes composition, but his cover of ‘The Look Of Love’ represents everything that was so special about the man with it’s truly magnificent arrangement and unbridled sense of grandeur. Rest in peace big guy: your music is eternal.
?uestlove & The Randy Watson Experience – ‘Goodbye Isaac’
Although this tribute to Isaac didn’t seem to draw much attention when it was released, for me it was a fitting musical commemoration of his genius. I know little about the background to the song other than it’s a collaboration between that drummer from some band out of Philly, Randy Watson and James Poyser, but their combined efforts capture a somber and reflective mood that still manages to pack a punch. Melodic and haunting, ‘Goodbye Isaac’ is a truly beautiful piece of music that floats effortlessly in that hazy state between consciousness and slumber.
Quincy Jones – ‘Brown Ballad’
Aside from Isaac, Quincy Jones has been the focus of much of my attention this year despite an enormous discography that will take far more than a year to fully digest. For whatever reason Smackwater Jack was the LP that I seemed to latch onto most easily, and ‘Brown Ballad’ became a firm favourite in spite of its gushing sense of sentimentality. Jones is such a master when it comes to arrangement and this song’s texture is just so velvety smooth that it proves irresistible. A guilty pleasure perhaps, but a delicious one at that.
Marvin Gaye – ‘Cleo’s Apartment’
I grew up listening to Marvin Gaye because my Dad is such a fan, although he rarely strays out of the 60’s material so it was a joy for me to fully appreciate the Trouble Man OST off my own back this year. The title track itself is probably one of my favourite Gaye songs ever, but this little ditty creates such an incredible atmosphere in such a short space of time that it firmly rooted itself in rotation for me throughout the year, eclipsing other material to be found elsewhere on the album. Check Boon Doc’s flip in case you missed it: dopeness.
Milt Jackson & Ray Brown – ‘Enchanted Lady’
Sampled on a number of truly classic beats, this sumptuous slice of soul jazz is currently my only real experience of vibraphonist Milt Jackson, but if the remainder of his discography offers up anything as good as this then I’ll inevitably end up violently slapping my own forehead when I finally get around to digging through his work properly. I’m an absolute sucker for this kind of smoothed out jazz in 4/4 time, but there’s so many little details at play here that there’s no doubt in my mind that this is something truly special. I mean, if it’s good enough for Pete, it’s good enough for me.
Bob James – ‘Feel Like Making Love (I Want You)’
I’ve never bragged about my digging credentials largely because I don’t have any. Sifting through sample sources and finding the inspiration behind some of my favourite beats is still a relatively new hobby for me in the grand scheme of things, and purists would despise my methods. Still, elitism about digging in the crates is one of my pet hates in hip hop, so I’m proud to say that previous to 2008 I’d never fully taken in Bob James’sOne LP, home to ‘Nautilus’ and a grip of other heavily sampled tracks that stand alone as fantastic pieces of music. ‘Feel Like Making Love (I Want You)’ weaved its way into rotation at the very beginning of the year and is now a stalwart of my seduction playlist. Shame the girlfriend doesn’t really like it.
Eddie Hendricks – ‘Intimate Friends’
The Temptations co-founder released a whole host of albums after his split from the group and with some of them out of print he’s yet another artist who I’m yet to absorb fully (you can see a pattern emerging here, right?). I did however manage to acquire a copy of Slick (Tamla, 1977) at some point during the year and ‘Intimate Friends’ quickly became a personal favourite both on its own merit and through its employment in anAlix Perez song that my ex-flatmate used to play ad infinitum (I miss you Rich). Man, I’m more sentimental than I thought.
The Supremes – ‘It’s Time To Break Down’
I was completely blown away when I first heard this song, and those initial warbled vocals still send shivers down my spine every single time. Deeply soulful with an awe-inspiring vocal performance from Jean Terrell, ‘It’s Time To Break Down’ conclusively proves that there’s far more to enjoy from The Supremes than just those three minute Berry Gordy financed pop hits of the 1960s. Now I just need to uncover more of them.
Mayer Hawthorne & The County – ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’
Once Phill had pointed me in the direction of this cut from Stones Throw’s Mayer Hawthorne I couldn’t get enough of it. I still can’t. The ‘Tramp’ drums work beautifully at giving this cut a little extra bounce, but it’s the sweetness of the vibe here and Hawthorne’s falsetto that seal the deal. As a result this album is easily one of my most highly anticipated drops of ‘09 and it should be one of yours too. You got that?
Stan Getz & Luis Bonfa – ‘Saudade Vem Correndo’
I’m certainly no bossa nova expert but to me this must surely represent the pinnacle of a somewhat frowned upon musical sub-genre. Yea it sounds a little bit like you might hear it in the carpeted walls of a hotel elevator, but when the sun was whilst I was holdiaying in the south of France this summer nothing felt quite as sweet as this particular cut. Dilla knew all about this song’s charms.
Menahan Street Band – ‘The Contender’
Use of the word anthem can be somewhat overplayed, but I don’t think you could possibly deny the Menahan Street Band of the moniker in this case. Smoldering horns and blistering drums give this song a palpable aggression that is intensely infectious, but it’s smoothed out with lilting guitars and a soaring flute track. The fact that when I listen to it I feel like I’m Rocky Balboa dishing out a final knockout blow doesn’t hurt matters either.
Gary Burton – ‘Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly’
Despite lacking the motivation to embark on another mix project (as yet), I was particularly proud of my Pete Rock Breaks & Beats mix this year: big shouts to Rafi for giving it the push towards a wider audience. Given that ‘Pete’s Jazz’ is one of my all time Soul Brother compositions my affinity with this Gary Burton groove was obligatory before I’d even heard it, but once I did I was sold hook, line and sinker. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to the opening sixteen bars or so over the past twelve months, but I’m still not tired of it and it endures as one of my most listened to songs of the year.
Sharon Jones – ‘How Long’ (Ticklah Remix)
You’re always on dodgy ground with a remix of a song that you love in the first place, but this Ticklah remix of one of Sharon Jones’s greatest songs had me reaching for the rewind ad infinitum. Containing enough to separate it from the original whilst maintaining the core essence of the groove, Ticklah smacked it with this one. Just be sure you don’t make Ms. Jones wait: I’d dread to be on the end of her soulful wrath.
Long out of print, I was pleased to stumble upon Ware’s self-titled album from 1972 on the strength of this song alone. Deeply soulful and expertly arranged, ‘What’s Your World’ epitomsises everything I love about 70’s soul and Ware’s voice is to die for. Excuse the conceit of re-upping my own little edit, but I tended to always listen to it before devouring the original. After all, isn’t the act of blogging pretty much as self-indulgent as it gets anyway?