Musical inspiration

You might have noticed that all my posts use titles from popular music. In case you are interested, I thought I’d have a page that told you what they were. I’ve just changed this so the latest title is at the top. I’ve also decided that I should say something about each of them. Sometimes it’ll be a factoid, others a pithy comment and others more personal recollections. Pure indulgence I know, but nobody has to read it and it’s my blog after all!

Work To Do Average White Band
Bit of a dilemma on this song because it was written by the Isley Brothers and Main Ingredient also do a good version. However, my vote goes to AWB from their white album, not their debut incidentally as is often claimed.

Celebrate Kool & The Gang
This is one of their most successful and best known tracks, but anyone familiar with Kool & The Gang will know, it was the beginning of the end for them as a jazz-funk outfit. Likeable, but check out the Wild and Peaceful album for a band at the peak of their powers.
I Can See For Miles The Who
Just brilliant. Nothing more to add.

Isn’t it time The Babies
Post-punk there was a return to what was called power pop. This track emerged during the latter half of the seventies and is just a rather pleasing to the ear power pop ballad.

You Can Do It Al Hudson and the Partners
In 1979, this twelve inch single was a top 50 hit in the states and a massive dance floor hit in the UK. It is actually a fine piece of disco funk, if you like that sort of thing, which I do.

Idiot Wind Bob Dylan
From the Blood On The Tracks album, this is just classic Dylan. Its only recently listening to his back catalogue that I’ve really appreciated Dylan. Nonetheless if you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, along with Elvis and The Beatles he really was one of the holy trinity of musical acts you just couldn’t ignore. Even if you are of the opinion that he is a better writer than singer, it is hard to argue with his back catalogue.
Who Are You The Who
In 1978, amid rumours that a split was imminent, The Who released what was to be the last studio album containing the original four members. Twenty days after its release drummer Keith Moon was dead from a drugs overdose. This track, the title track of the album, was a hit, and like much of their later output featured lyrics from Pete Townsend showing his increasing disenchantment with his rock star lifestyle. For all that it remains The Who doing what they did rather well, singing about Pete and at the same time giving us lines all of us could identify with. After all, who hasn’t at some point wondered where the fun in their job has gone?

Person To Person Average White Band
From their eponymous white album released in 1974, this is a track which is not ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ their career defining instrumental. If you have not heard this album, technically their second album after 1973’s ‘Show Your Hand’, buy it now. For a bunch of white Scots these guys could lay down a soul tune that their heroes James Brown or Kool and the Gang would have been proud of (though having said that the American success of ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ prompted a response from James Brown’s backing band The J.B’s under the name, The Better Than Average Black Band!).

On My Radio The Selector
In the latter part of the seventies as punk’s power to shock diminished, cool music lovers encouraged by The Clash, rediscovered their roots in ska, which had its origins in Jamaica. Many of the bands were from the Midlands, including The Selector who managed just this one hit.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For U2
Massive hit for Ireland’s favourite sons from The Joshua Tree. I used to really like U2, even when it was decidedly uncool to do so. I’ve always had a soft spot for bands who wear their hearts on their sleeves, and have ambitions that seem to extend beyond their own egos.
Just A Little Misunderstanding The Contours
This track from one of Motown’s lesser known vocal groups was a Northern Soul classic and popular at venues such as Wigan Pier, The Twisted Wheel etc. The Contours were mostly second tier to the Four Tops and The Temptations, despite boasting Joe Stubbs, brother of Top lead singer Levi and for a short while Temptation Dennis Edwards in their line-up. I love this track, and can boast of having this as a 7″ vinyl import on the Gordy label.
Think Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul as she was once known in a song used in The Blues Brothers film. What’s not to like?
Keep on running Spencer Davis Group
Massive hit from 1966 for r’n’b flavoured band from Birmingham (UK not Alabama), though Spencer Davis himself was originally from Swansea. Featuring the vocal talents of Steve Winwood.
What an experience Janelle Monae
Final track from her latest (second) album, The Electric Lady. You might think, based on the titles used, that I stopped buying records in 1979. Not true, I’ve bought lots of seventies albums since. That’s also not true, or at least it’s true, but I’ve bought plenty of music that is post-seventies. This album and its predecessor The Archandroid are simply brilliant. Combining old fashioned song craft, with modern RnB, and wrapping it up in a crazy alternative universe that George Clinton would be proud of. Sensational stuff and highly recommended.
Born To Run Bruce Springsteen
Whilst this was The Boss’s breakthrough hit in the UK and in 1974 he was ‘the future of rock and roll’, he didn’t become a global superstar until 1984’s ‘Born In The USA’. Nevertheless, this was the first Bruce song I ever bought (on 7″ vinyl no less) and it remains inspirational. He is right too when he says the set list of the Hammersmith Odeon set recently restored to DVD, would be the envy of many a young band today.
Simply The Best Tina Turner
Whenever I hear this brings back memories of David Brent’s motivational speeches. Personally I think Tina made better records with Ike.
I Can Learn The White Stripes
Remember when they were flavour of the month. I first heard them on Radio 4 of all places.
Don’t Leave Me This Way Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (though Thelma Houston did a pretty good version on Motown too)
Features Teddy Pendergrass on lead, and was one of a string of Philly hits in the 1970’s.
Lucky Number Lene Lovich
Erm, well, yes. I’ve got this on a 7″ vinyl.
Every Picture Tells A Story Rod Stewart
Early Rod before he tried to metamorphise into Tony Bennett. Title track of a brilliant album that also contained Maggie May.
I’m bored Iggy Pop
I can’t say I’m a big fan of Iggy or The Stooges, but at least this is a reminder that he is a better singer than actor.
Putting On The Style Lonnie Donegan
Daddy of skiffle who I vaguely recall as being a bit of an icon when I was growing up.
Perfect Fairground Attraction
Fronted by Eddi Reader who has an amazing voice. This made number one.
A Change Is Gonna Come Sam Cooke though this was also covered by Otis Redding on his Otis Blue album
Both Sam and Otis tragically cut down in their prime. Otis in a plane crash, and Sam in more rock and roll style shot by a jealous husband. Voice like silk though.
If You Were In My Movie Suzanne Vega from her album 99.9 Degrees Fahrenheit
I love her music. This is a track I remember seeing her perform live at Cardiff’s St Davids Hall, on a stage I have also bestrode (though that’s another story!)
Tommy Can You Hear Me? The Who
The ‘Oo – probably the best rock band I ever saw perform live, at Charlton in 1975.
What’s The Story Oasis
Big selling title track from wannabe Beatles who unfortunately are more like a Status Quo tribute band.
A Day In The Life The Beatles
Classic last track from the Sergeant Pepper’s album. In my opinion the last album they made before becoming almost entirely self indulgent.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Gil Scott Heron
Released in 1969, this is the song modern rappers wish they could write. Combines cultural references, political commentary and wit.


3 thoughts on “Musical inspiration

  1. Well, and excellence too … Where does / can music come from? can I respectfully suggest my (Ruth Finnegan) ‘ Music and Creation’., prob shdn’t say ( MODESTY girl!) but I meself think it great, not least ‘cos inspired from outside myself like the best most excellent of musical ( think Tartini, Kubla Khan – what, you don’t know …! )

    Go on, tell me I am wrong … But EVIDENCE please

    Ruth/ alter ego muse-dreaner Catherine

    PS like many good books (Finnegan and other) it’s available on lulu com bookstore. ( I dare you … ) friendlier than amazon

  2. interesting choices…when I was a fresher the SU booked Leo Sayer, a yet to be famous performer on the student circuit. By the time of the concert, he had become the ‘overnight sensation’. The edge of town home for the engineering faculties of a modest polytechnic was mobbed.
    over the dyke
    Don’t Leave Me This Way – liked the communards version – think it’s same song

    • Thanks for this. I have never seen Leo Sayer perform live but imagine he would be very theatrical. Strangely I heard the Communards version of Dont Leave Me This Way on the radio this morning. I prefer the Harold Melvin version, but theirs is not that bad! I’d forgotten they had recorded it.

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