Archive for the ‘Blues’ Category

Alice XY – Me and the Devil (2018)

This is how to do a cover version.

  1. Take a 1937 blues classic from the legendary Robert Johnson.

  2. Meditate on how Gil Scott Heron tackled it.

  3. Radically strip back the music to the essentials required to make your point – simple bass, gorgeous keyboard washes and pulsing drums.

  4. Add soaring, yet melancholic, vocals over the top and definitely don’t change the genders of the subjects.

  5. Mix down, add video and release.

A new talent has arisen, Alice XY hits the mark with her debut solo release.

Did I mention that she’s my daughter?


Nina Simone – Plain Gold Ring (1958)

May 25, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve had a pretty tough week at work and, getting in the car tonight to drive home after the train journey from London, I had the latest free CD from Mojo magazine on the “stereo”.

This was the first track I came to and the quality of the song is just stunning. I think I’ve heard it before (maybe the Nick Cave version?) but it had never resonated as it did tonight. Three listens on the 15 minute drive home; two more after I’d “fired up” the home computer and its place in the pantheon of thebestmusicofalltime was assured (I’m an impulsive kind of guy!)

Taken from Nina Simone’s debut LP, Little Girl Blue, this is faultless stuff. An exquisite vocal (naturally), a stately bass line and shards of piano over the top combine to produce a minimalist classic. Sometimes, there is so little there to keep the music together, you worry that it will fall apart. And then, at the moment of greatest concern, Nina’s voice holds it together and propels the song forward anew ….!

This is perfect, peerless stuff. Unsurpassable.


Eddie Curtis – The Louisville Lip (1971)

June 4, 2016 Leave a comment

A very sad day indeed for the world.

This song would have been worth posting on any day of any year but, today, it just has to be essential. A great song, which I first heard when I bought the superb compilation “Hits And Misses: Muhammed Ali And The Ultimate Sound Of Fistfighting” a few years ago (released on the wonderful Trikont label, details here)

I remember the “Thrilla in Manila” quite well because I was a young boy living in Hong Kong in 1975 in the same time zone as the Philippines. My mum was very excited and followed it avidly!

I’ve previously posted an Ali tribute here (using the medium of reggae) but Eddie Curtis’ “Louisville Lip” is a worthy addition to the bestmusicofalime.

Papa Lightfoot – Wine, Women, Whiskey (1954)

August 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Every so often, you stumble upon a song and have a “double-take” as to the year it was recorded.

“Space Guitar” by Johnny Watson, “The Train Kept A Rollin‘” by Johnny Burnette, “Hallogallo” by Neu are just three examples from my experience.

“Wine, Women, Whiskey” by Papa Lightfoot is in the same bracket for me.

Recorded sometime after 1952, and released on the peerless Imperial Records label in 1954, the bass and overdriven guitar seem to invent glam rock even as you listen to it and then the treated vocals and ruthless harmonica create a sound that transcends a period when Elvis was still musing on how he might change the world of popular music and Captain Beefheart was still contemplating his first signs of stubble.

A stunning record: brief, succinct, powerful, impassioned … a fine addition to the bestmusicofalltime!

Nina Simone – Wild is the Wind (1964)

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

This song has a remarkable history!

Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, the track was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis (of all people!) for the 1957 film Wild Is the Wind. His is a sugary, anodyne reading that I advise all to steer clear of.

I first became familiar with this song through David Bowie’s wonderful version that he recorded for his classic Station to Station LP of 1976. I was also aware of Nina Simone’s first version that was recorded for her At Town Hall LP in 1959. However, it is her, later, studio version of 1964 which is the definitive reading.

A vocal of unparalleled depth and power with understated bass and drums and simply mesmerising piano adds up to a perfect record!

Whoever sings this has the advantage of some of the best lyrics of all time:

Love me, love me, love me, say you do
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind
And wild is the wind

Give me more than one caress
Satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
For wild is the wind

You touch me
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me
With your kiss my life begins
You’re spring to me
All things to me

Don’t you know you’re life itself
Like a leaf clings to a tree
Oh my darling, cling to me
For we’re creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind
So wild is the wind

The 1964 LP version and then Nina’s earlier recording (for comparative purposes!) from 1959.


The Kidds – Drunk, Drunk, Drunk (1955)

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Imperial Records are one of my all time favourite record labels and this is typical of the genius of their output.

Released in 1955 (I think!), The Kidds “Drunk, Drunk, Drunk” joins the pantheon of other booze themed records recorded around these times. I have already posted a couple of them here and here.

By far and away the best of these records (and still the most popular entry ever on this blog with 690 hits –  as of today), is Jimmy Liggins’ stupendous “I Ain’t Drunk” posted here.

The Kidds never quite hit the Liggins’ heights and, frankly, I am struggling to transcribe the lyrics in a manner that might remain within the bounds of 21st century decency. However, I presume it’s just my ears playing tricks on me, so over to you ….

Elvis Presley – Tomorrow Night (1954)

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Elvis Presley at his purest.

Taken from his early recordings for Sun Records, “Tomorrow Night” confirms Elvis as one of the greatest voices in history.

The first recording of this song was made by Lonnie Johnson in 1948 but the track was actually written by Sam Coslow and Will Grosz.

The Lonnie Johnson recording has a rougher, rawer, feel to it which might appeal to some.

However, Elvis’ recording strips the music back to the barest bones and, as his voice soars over the spectral backing, genius is revealed …

From the same sessions, I’ve already posted Presley’s definitive reading of Blue Moon here.

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