Wittering Wednesdays: New music, old music and 6 Music

It’s been a while since my last stream-of-consciousness muso thought vomit, so I should probably put that right. Not like there isn’t plenty to talk about, eh? In the last hour or so, I got to hear the new material on the forthcoming Doves Best Of so as to enable a review I need to turn around fairly rapidly. Across the two CDs of the special edition can be found a number of previously unreleased bits and bobs, but it’s the songs that have never been released in any shape or form that will draw the most attention. Rest assured, the new tracks don’t stick out amongst the many highlights from the band’s first twelve years. ‘Blue Water’, a track that has been knocking around in the back waters of the internet for almost a decade, is a fine, fine way to kick off the second disc, the swaggering ‘Drifter’ then appears smack in the middle of the disc. The former shuffles along with that wonderful stuttering drum pattern so well deployed on ‘Here It Comes’ and ‘Drifter’ features overlooked talent Simon Aldred, of Cherry Ghost. While both new songs on disc two are fantastic, it’s worth pausing to note the quite brilliant sequencing of the songs, as undertaken by the band themselves. It actually hangs together like a proper record, with the same ups and downs in mood and pace that we’ve come to expect from a typical Doves studio outing. ‘The Last Son’ is saved from the icky obscurity of being an iTunes only bonus track while ‘Friday’s Dust’ appears in its ‘Capital Tower Session’ guise, sounding even more stark and raw than the not especially bells and whistles version from ‘The Last Broadcast’. The decision to include a small number of album tracks seems at first to be an odd one, but the choices have clearly been made carefully and I can’t really see any harm in a couple of these beauts slotting in across the disc when, without them, it would just have had less tracks on it. Don’t kid yourself that they got in the way of new songs and, similarly, it’s easy to cry about favourite b-sides not making the cut but the obvious time taken in getting this selection right and, even more precisely, in the right order means I have no complaints. The main disc, featuring a veritable cornucopia of melodic indie class, is augmented by forthcoming single ‘Andalucia’ which, loosely speaking, is one of their upbeat turbo-chuggers. It’s a good ‘un and, after several dozen listens, you’ll know it inside out but it’s no world-beater. My slightly subdued first impressions may have something to do with it sitting between ‘The Man Who Told Everything’ and ‘Caught By The River’, two songs which did more than a little to soften the tricky late-teen to shit-I’m-actually-an-adult transition period. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll be banging on about how great it is. You watch.

Oh, and just to completely contradict what I said earlier, ‘Brazil’ from the ‘Winter Hill’ 7” really did deserve another outing! To be fair, I can’t see how it would have fitted, so here it is for your delectation and delight. You’ll have to turn your speakers up a bit.

I’ve been listening to the new Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings record, ‘I Learned The Hard Way’ quite a lot recently and it’s one of those rare beasts – an album that sounds incredibly warm… on CD! Regular readers will know of my obsession with vinyl and my general preference for its sound. This is largely as a result of the maximised and just plain bloody loud nature of most newly released CDs so, when one comes along that actually sounds good even when you turn it up loud on some decent speakers, it’s cause for celebration. I loved the first three Sharon Jones albums and this one isn’t a radical departure so, unsurprisingly, I love this one too. I need to listen a little more closely to make any meaningful judgements, but if you’re waiting on this one, you’ll not be disappointed.

The news about 6 Music continues to disappoint and disturb. There are those who are arguing that this is part of some complex ploy to generate publicity for the station and that its future was never really in doubt. Unlikely, I would suggest, but if it does turn out to be true, it still seems a bit mean to put people Lauren Laverne through the on air experience she faced yesterday morning, starting her show just minutes after the station’s closure was confirmed. She dealt with it with the good grace, intelligence and passion which has seen her become a firm 6 Music favourite and delivered one of the finest shows to be heard in the morning slot since Gideon Coe was shunted off to nights. Not that that actually seems all that bad an idea now that I’m happily established in my routine of spending ludicrous amounts of cash on an almost nightly basis at the behest of the genial music enthusiast and waffler-without-compare. His current stint covering breakfast is making for surprisingly pleasant morning car journeys and his presence on the station is a prime example of how it perfectly communicates with its audience. Watching Paxman make Mark Thompson look like the school bully after he’s been caught bang to rights by the head, threatened with exclusion and had his parents dragged in (and, frankly, like he’d shat himself a few minutes before going on air and couldn’t find a comfortable way to sit) was an absolute delight. He looked out of touch, out of his depth and out of line with popular thought. Thankfully for him, they also had Kelvin MacKenzie on, so he still wasn’t the biggest twat in the room. Even better than this, was Adam Buxton offering Thompson out for a fight on Channel 4 News a few hours earlier. Cutting to him for a serious response, Jon Snow asked Buxton if he had anything to say to Mark Thompson. To which he replied, "Mark ‘Thommo’ Thompson, I’m inviting you for a fight. I could take you, I’ve been practising." I’d click that, if I were you. It’s worth watching how remarkably serious he remains whilst saying it. Thompson appears to have no idea what is going on. Presumably not a member of Black Squadron?

Currently waiting on a couple of sizeable jiffy bags, so I’ll endeavour to offer a round-up of new things that have come this way of late by the weekend at the latest. That should include new Matinee signings The Electric Pop Group, the dreadfully named but beautiful sounding Allo Darlin’ and the new album from Tracey Thorn. Good good. Feel free to say hello on twitter – @justplayed is, perhaps unsurprisingly, where I am or you could always email. Address on the ‘About Just Played’ page. Speak to you soon.

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