Song: Clowntime Is Over
Artist: Elvis Costello & The Attractions, England
Album: Get Happy!!, 1980
Notes: Backed by his always reliable Attractions and with fellow songsmith Nick Lowe at the production helm, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with another hidden gem, this one from the fourth of his 32 studio albums. He also cut a much slowed down version for his 'Taking Liberties' outtakes collection. His real name is Declan MacManus though he's used several others over the years including Howard Coward, Napoleon Dynamite, The Imposter and the Right Reverend Jimmy Quickly. More at elviscostello.com.
Song: Christian Eyes
Artist: Max Jury, Des Moines, IA
Notes: A top-drawer ballad with a lovely Beatlesque 'White Album' era guitar solo in the bridge from a 21-year old tunesmith described as coming on like 'the missing link between Gram Parsons and George Harrison'. He began playing the piano at the age of six and wrote his song at 13, before he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out - twice. He's opened for Lana Del Rey, has just wrapped a tour of Europe and is playing a few US dates next month. More at facebook.com/maxwelljury.
Song: Cheaper Than Free
Artist: Stevie Nicks featuring Dave Stewart, Phoenix, AZ/England
Album: In Your Dreams, 2011
Notes: Deceptively strong lyrics, a simple sentiment, and that timeless black-laced voice on a song, whose title was actually given to her by the actress Reese Witherspoon. (Witherspoon was visiting the studio with Nicks and offered to let her stay in her Nashville condo. Nicks remarked 'Oh that would be cheap' to which Witherspoon responded 'Cheaper Than Free' - and a song was born.) The song features prominent guest vocals by its co-writer and producer Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.
Artist: Linus Young, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Category 5, 2014
Notes: An eerily hypnotic groove enhanced by the harmonic co-lead vocals, hot off the press from LA-based newcomers Linus Young with the uber-cool, restrained standout cut from their debut CD. Seemingly obsessed with Hurricane Katrina, they named themselves after a friend who stuck it out down in New Orleans during the storm and had his house duly flooded. Iris Belson and Joseph Walker were snapped up by Island Records earlier this year. More at linusyoung.com.
Artist: Embrace, England
Album: Out Of Nothing, 2004
Notes: Written by Coldplay and first performed by them in 2002, the song was given to their friends to put on their fourth album. (Coldplay then released their own version on the B-side of their single 'Talk' the following year.) A fifth album and a compilation followed after which there's been nothing. Last August their facebook page announced 'No-one in the world has heard anything from us in over 6 years, and in just a few weeks that's all going to change.' Still nothing however, but as 2013 sees the band's 20th anniversary it's highly likely that a new album will surface.
Song: It Will End In Tears
Artist: Philip Selway, England
Album: Weatherhouse, 2014
Notes: Like the step-child of Elbow and Harry Nilsson, Radiohead drummer Philip Selway with a track from his new album. As a member of Radiohead for almost twenty years, he released his first solo set, 'Familial', in 2010, and this new record - although credited as a solo work - features Adem Ilhan, who produced the album, and Quinta. Selway said of the collaborative process, 'From the outset we wanted the album to be the three of us, and we covered a lot of instruments between us. With a studio full of inspiring gear and a great-sounding desk, we felt like a band.' More at philipselway.com.
Artist: Fureys & Davey Arthur, Ireland
Album: Not available
Notes: Along with the Chieftains, The Fureys truly set the standard for A+ Irish folk way back when. This song is a standard with its lyrics written by the legendary Oscar Hammerstein II and has been recorded by dozens of artists over the decades - there's another splendid version by Linda Ronstadt to name but one - but the delicious slow-picked banjo by Davey Arthur, who was with the band from 1976 to 1992 and the divine, gently lilting Irish-kissed vocal from Finbar Furey make this an essential version. Still going strong after 36 years, they've just released a new album, 'The Times They Are A Changing', and have just set out on a nine-month tour of their native Ireland, the United KIngdom, Belgium and The Netherlands.
Artist: Woman's Hour, England
Album: Conversations, 2014
Notes: The intriguing closing cut on the fine, assured maiden album which emerged over the summer - showcasing the vulnerable tender vocals of frontwoman Fiona Burgess. The group is an experimental indie-electro-pop combo from England also featuring Fiona's brother William on guitar and Nick Graves on bass and Josh Hunnisett on keyboards. They're based in London but hail from the beautiful Lake District town of Kendal and have been together for about three years. More on them at womanshourband.co.uk.
Song: Foreign Fields
Artist: Elton John vs. Pnau, England/Australia
Notes: The singer-songwriter's 1973 vocal 'High Flying Bird' from 'Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player' reimagined and recreated with samples from 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight,' 'Chameleon,' 'Cage The Songbird,' 'Sweet Painted Lady' and 'Pinky.' A downright clever resurrection by the young Australian duo of Peter Mayes and Nick Littlemore, who Elton first heard while stuck in traffic in Sydney in 2007. Giving them carte blanche to re-shape his early '70s back catalog, they've wrapped brand new electronic atmospherics and melodies around the original material. The entire album is more of the cunning same.
Song: I Want You
Artist: Ali Campbell, England
Album: Silhouette, 2014
Notes: The familiar voice of UB40's former lead singer with a fun treatment of the Dylan chestnut, the focus cut on his fifth solo long player, which has just been released and also features new versions of songs by The Beatles, The Chi-Lites and others. Now in his mid-50s, Ali quit the veteran British reggae troupe in 2008 amidst a fair amount of rancor, mainly with his brothers Duncan and Robin. While he continues to battle with his former bandmates, he now has teamed up with Mickey Virtue and Astro, two other members of the original band and now, somewhat defiantly, has a new website - ub40.org.
Song: Easy In The Summertime
Artist: Allison Moorer & Shelby Lynne, Monroeville, AL/Quantico, VA
Album: Not available
Notes: Only available commercially as a solo recording by Allison Moorer on her 2010 CD 'Crows' but heard here in an extremely rare live duet version with her sister Shelby Lynne, recorded in a tiny studio four years ago. A simple piano melody, reflective lyrics about a seemingly blissful childhood in the Deep South in 1981 written by Moorer to recall the simple rural pleasures of childhood summers in their native Alabama - though that dreamy time destroyed in real life in 1986 when the siblings' father murdered their mother and then took his own life.
Song: Down by The River
Artist: Milky Chance, Germany
Album: Sadnecessary, 2013
Notes: Currently making waves with their breakthrough hit, 'Stolen Dance', which was played long ago on L&F, the laid-back laconic stylings of a German folk-pop duo comprising Philipp Dausch and Clemens Rehbein. Growing up in Kassel, where they were schoolfriends, they were members of the Flown Tones jazz quartet before outputting their own music a couple of years ago. More at www.milkychanceofficial.com.
Artist: Emeli Sande, Scotland
Album: Our Version Of Events, 2012
Notes: Yet another sterling delicacy from an L&F favorite, born of an English mother and a Zambian father but raised in Scotland, and featured on her ridiculously strong maiden album. Anyone who has either of Adele's first two long-players would be well advised to pick up this record. The comparisons with Adele are self-evident: she too writes all her own material straight from the heart, they're both in their mid-20s, both are strident, strong role models - and both share the same first name: yes, Emeli's real first name is also Adele. She deservedly won two BRIT awards last year. On receiving her award for Best British Album, she said 'This was an album I wrote because I didn't have the confidence to sing these things in person, and for me, to have so many people to connect with this album and find strength in these words makes me feel incredible and doesn't make me feel as lonely.'
Song: Two Shots
Artist: Elle King, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Not available
Notes: Astonishingly still unreleased, yet arguably her strongest cut and recorded as a demo prior to her signing with RCA last year. Born Tanner Elle Schneider in Los Angeles, brought up in Ohio and now living in Brooklyn, she's just getting started on her career and has just the one EP to date. She has opened for Of Monsters And Men, Train, Dashboard Confessional and Ed Sheeran. More at www.elleking.com.
Song: World Without End
Artist: A.A. Bondy, Birmingham, AL
Album: American Hearts, 2007
Notes: A quiet lost gem from a minimalist folk tunesmith originally from Birmingham, Alabama. The former lead singer and guitarist with Verbena, he's cut a solo path since 2007, when his freshman album, 'American Hearts', was released on which this sad tune quietly resides. More on Auguste Arthur Bondy at aabondy.co.
Song: These Foolish Things
Artist: Bryan Ferry, England
Album: These Foolish Things, 1973
Notes: The superbly constructed nostalgic vocal stylings of an uber-stylish cover of the standard written by Eric Maschwitz and Jack Strachey. First performed by Joan Carr in 1936, it took several versions to turn it into the standard it is today. The 69-year-old smoothie returned last year with a new album called 'The Jazz Age.' He was made a Commander of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2011 and married a former flame of his son Isaac's a couple of years ago, before splitting up last year.
Song: With Your Two Hands
Artist: The Wind & The Wave, Austin, TX
Album: From The Wreckage, 2014
Notes: A rollicking extract from one of L&F's favorite albums of the year. The freshman longplayer which houses this nugget (and six further cuts we've played) was recently hailed by the New York Times as 'an eclectic, radio friendly cycle that ranges from dreamy pop to foot-stomping Americana.' The whole set is just knee-deep in rootsy, rustic golden tunes and comes highly recommended. The Wind & The Wave are the harmony-dipped creative duo of Patricia Lynn and Dwight Baker a couple of best friends who hail from Austin, Texas. More at thewindandthewave.com.
Song: A New England
Artist: Kirsty MacColl, England
Album: A New England (single), 1984
Notes: A heartfelt treatment of a Billy Bragg composition recorded with the singer's then husband, uber-producer Steve Lillywhite. Bragg's original only had two verses, so he wrote a further two at her request. Released as a stand-alone single back in 1984, it's just one of several lost crackers in her dazzling canon of work. Tragically and inexplicably, she died at just 41 in a terrible boating accident off the coast of Cozumel in Mexico in 2000 while saving the life of one of her sons. For those of you who remember Tracy Ullman's pop hit 'They Don't Know' from way back - that was written by Kirsty.
Song: Rain Plans
Artist: Israel Nash, Dripping Springs, TX
Album: Rain Plans, 2014
Notes: Shades of Neil Young and the balladic side of Pink Floyd from yesteryear, sounding for all the world like it was recorded in the early '70s, but actually a new number from a brand new album. Born Israel Nash Gripka in Missouri, the singer-songwriter honed his earnest brand of alternative country/psychedelic rock for about five years, a popular fixture at the Living Room venue in New York when he lived there, before settling in Texas. You can stream this track along with others from the new set at israelnash.com.
Song: Go Gentle
Artist: Robbie Williams, England
Album: Swings Both Ways (2013)
Notes: Some delicious horn runs and a spot of cool whistling gracing this old school pop ditty, universally ignored by all and sundry - although the Lebanese made it a Top 5 hit. Such a clever and simple affectionate delight written when his daughter was born with the promise to always protect and love her. Indeed in an interview Willams said, 'Go Gentle is a promise I'm making to my daughter. It was written when she first arrived on the planet and I'd been a selfish popstar for most of my life and then all of a sudden I've been asked to take care of this whole person. I still am scared that I'm not up to the task!' One of the biggest pop stars on the planet over past two decades - he is reportedly worth north of '100 million but he's never scored a hit on these shores, another weird music mystery.
Song: Broken and Borrowed
Artist: Mostar Diving Club, England
Album: Triumph Of Hope, 2012
Notes: Some lovely mid-tempo Americana, graced by some fine plucky banjo pickin'. The intriguingly named band is an experimental side project by the London-based Damian Katkhuda who's an indie-folk singer-songwriter most of the time as well as the leader of Obi, who've been around on and off since 2000. There have been two fascinating albums and an EP from Mostar to date. More at themostardivingclub.bandcamp.com.
Artist: Kiki Dee, England
Album: Cage The Songbird, 2008
Notes: A lost single from 37 years ago from a much underrated singer best known for her global smash 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' with Elton John in 1976. Born Pauline Matthews in the northern English town of Bradford, she had a solo hit with 'I've Got The Music In Me' a couple of years earlier. Still performing to this very day even though she recorded her first record back in 1963, now mostly with Carmelo Luggeri, accompanying on her guitar.
Song: Thieves Like Us
Artist: New Order, England
Album: Singles, 2005
Notes: 25 years ago 'True Faith' got close to becoming a mainstream hit, but not a single Top 20 entry has happened by this lauded band on these shores. This delicious guitar-bending number, a fine modern rock ode to the power of love, slipped through the cracks in 1984. Named after a Robert Altman movie from a decade earlier - an instrumental version was featured on the seminal 'Pretty In Pink' soundtrack. The group reunited in 2011 though without seminal bassist Peter Hook, played some sold out dates in the US this summer and have even been working on some new material for a new deal they recently signed with the legendary Mute label. More at neworder.com.
Song: Woman In Chains
Artist: Tears For Fears, England
Album: The Seeds Of Love, 1989
Notes: Not only distinguished by the drumming of Phil Collins, but also by the vocals of Oleta Adams, the song was a Top 40 hit in several countries, including the US for the British duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. The Seattle-born Adams was discovered by the pair while performing in a hotel bar in Kansas City, when they touring in 1985. Two years passed before they contacted her and asked her to be a part of their band and to sing on their next album.
Song: Down With You
Artist: Ellie Lawson, England
Album: Philosophy Tree, 2005
Notes: Shimmering with a vocal style not entirely dissimilar to Alanis Morissette, a perky and winning track from her 'Philosophy Tree' which can be found at her website ellielawson.com. Her sophomore set from 2009 was called 'Lost Songs' - and contains lots of deeply catchy tunes which have never seen the light of day. She's worked with production whiz William Orbit, opened for the likes of KT Tunstall and has moved into a more EDM-flavored direction over recent years - check out some of new trance recordings also available at her website, as well as her latest offering, 'Hidden Treasures'.
Artist: Damien Rice, Ireland
Notes: Fragile and fresh, a delightful new rumination from the critically-revered Irish folk stylist who is now in his 40s, after an eight-year absence from the recording scene. Plenty of social commentary is in his work and he was a big mover in both the British and American efforts to promote democracy in Myanmar as well as being a major supporter of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. In addition to being a deft singer-songwriter he's also a top multi-instrumentalist, proficient on the piano, guitar, clarinet and percussion, as well as producing all his material. More at damienrice.com.
Song: Mannish Boy
Artist: Muddy Waters, Jug's Corner, MS
Notes: A deeply influential recording for every blues-rock act which followed in its dazzling wake with the iconic blues rough diamond recorded in 1955 which Waters wrote as an answer record to Bo Diddley's equally seminal 'I'm A Man'. A Top 5 smash on the R&B chart, and included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list, the song has been much covered over the years not least by the likes of Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey, Hendrix and more recently John Mayer.
Song: Street in the City
Artist: Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane, England
Album: Rough Mix (1977)
Notes: A typical storytelling mini-opera with some instrumental histrionics midway through, everyday observations of urban street life from the street level eyes of The Who's writer and guitarist and his cohort, who was the co-founder of both The Small Faces in the '60s and The Faces in the '70s alongside Rod Stewart. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, having died in 1997 after suffering from multiple sclerosis for many years. The pair collaborated many times, but this LP remains their most well-rounded work.
Song: Mason-Dixon Line
Artist: Judah & The Lion, Nashville, TN
Album: Kids These Days, 2014
Notes: Promising new Americana roots music by a rocking bluegrass trio fronted by Judah Akers and based in Nashville. They've been together for about three years, releasing the one EP, 'Sweet Tennessee', last year and their just released first album. All the fresh numbers from the album can be streamed directly at judahandthelion.com. They're touring around the US all autumn long.
Artist: Kyler England, Los Angeles, CA
Album: Golden [EP], 2014
Notes: Another breathless gem from an L&F singer-songwriter veteran who is based in Los Angeles and who is also one quarter of the excellent folk-pop-rock combo the Rescues. She also added her great voice to Dutch DJ Tiesto''s 'Take Me' last year as well as opening for the likes of Annie Lennox, Sting and Avril Lavigne. More at kylerengland.com.
Song: It Makes No Difference
Artist: The Band, Canada/Elaine, AR
Notes: In the great tradition of timeless rock ballads, a man unable and unwilling to let go of the love of his life, love has left the room, memories eat at his soul while he crawls around the self-pitious wreckage, and a subsequent live highlight from their legendary 'The Last Waltz' farewell bash in 1978. Writer Robbie Robertson said of the song at the time, 'I thought about the song in terms of saying that time heals all wounds, except in some cases, and this was one of those cases.' There's also a beautiful over of the song by My Morning Jacket on the 'Endless Highway - The Music Of The Band' tribute album.
Song: My Type
Artist: Saint Motel, Los Angeles, CA
Album: My Type [EP], 2014
Notes: Horns-laced, modern rock fun which was recently used in a Phones4u tv commercial in the UK and available as the title cut on their new EP. They're an LA-based quartet led by frontman A/J Jackson which formed in 2009. The great KCRW station in Southern California were early converts picking up on the band's strong freshman release 'Voyeur' in 2012. More at saintmotel.com, where the group proudly claims this song to be the 69th most Shazamed in the world.
Song: By Your Side
Artist: Sade, England
Album: Lovers Rock,
Notes: Somehow overlooked by mainstream pop radio back in 2000, though subsequently regarded by any refined ear as a lost soul classic, the inimitable Sade Adu and her Sade combo with the delicious, tender swayer from their 2000 'Lovers Rock' opus. It's usually about ten years before a new album emerges from the Sade camp so don't hold out hope for anything new from the Nigerian born soulstress and her colleagues for a few more earth cycles. Their website sade.com confirms this, having not been updated since May 2012.
Artist: Asa, France
Album: Asa, 2007
Notes: The lead off cut from her underrated eponymous maiden album. Born Bukola Elemide in Paris to Nigerian parents, who raised her in their home country from the age of two, she was strongly influenced by American R&B and local musical flavors, and now has four worthwhile albums under her belt including the recently issued, 'Bed Of Stone' which comes highly recommended. More at asa-official.com.
Song: Running Up That Hill
Artist: Placebo, England
Notes: Founded back in 1994 by Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal as Ashtray Heart, they released their self-titled debut album in 1996 and a further six - the most recent being 2013's 'Loud Like Love'. This Kate Bush cover has often been used on TV and in film, most notably 'The Vampire Diaries'. More at placeboworld.co.uk.
Song: Running Up That Hill
Artist: Kate Bush, England
Album: Hounds Of Love, 1985
Notes: In a major surprise, the enigmatic Bush played a series of concerts - the last of which was performed last week - her first since 1979. The concerts, under the banner 'Before The Dawn', took place at London's Hammersmith Apollo and were seen by close to 80,000 fans, selling out in a matter of minutes. This song was a Top 30 US hit for Kate in 1985, her first hit since 1978. In 2012, she remixed the song and it was used during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, but was not heard in the US because NBC cut the song from its broadcast.