The Specials emerged in the late 1970s as the multiracial flagship of the 2 Tone movement, and sang of racism, unemployment and injustice making a very clear political statement every time they stepped on stage. It's fitting, then, that in 2021, at a time when the world is riven with social, racial and political unrest, that the Specials have made this album of Protest Songs and are once again reflecting the society we live in and taking a stand against all forms of injustice. A typically unpredictable collection of unique takes from folk to post-punk, righteous uplift to biting satire, and from Kingston to Alabama, the album is a powerful reminder that there are no fixed rules to what makes a protest song. All that’s required is the combination of something that needs to be said with music that needs to be heard. “People have been using music as a vehicle for protest since time immemorial,” says bass-player Horace Panter. “Injustice is timeless.”
In February 2020, Horace, Terry, Lynval and co-producer Nikolaj Torp Larsen gathered to begin work on a reggae record, the follow up to Encore. Then Covid hit and plans were put on hold. During the first lockdown and following the murder of George Floyd and the waves of protest that grew around the world, Terry suggested that they make a different kind of record as a response to recent events.
The trio started by picking some personal favourites. The Mothers of Invention’s Trouble Every Day (Horace), Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows (Terry) while Lynval was keen to sing Bob Marley’s classic rebel song Get Up, Stand Up. Other favourites included Talking Heads’ Listening Wind and “Trouble Every Day” which was about the Watts riots in 1965. Spending months combing YouTube and books for songs they had never heard before, they discovered or rediscovered Big Bill Broonzy’s angry 1938 blues Black, Brown and White and the Staple Singers’ stirring Freedom Highway, written for the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The Dixie Jubilee Singers first recorded the spiritual Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around in 1924 but it was the civil rights movement that tweaked the lyrics and made it an anthem. Soldiers Who Want to Be Heroes is another example of a song that found its true calling after the fact. Written by the poet Rod McKuen in 1963, it was rerecorded three years later, during the dog days of the Vietnam war.
Folk singer Malvina Reynolds, best known for Little Boxes, provides two spiky odes to the contributions of ordinary people: I Live in a City and I Don’t Mind Failing in This World: And because the Specials have always had a taste for black comedy, they’ve chosen two songs by bluesman Jerry McCain (My Next Door Neighbor) and Wild Thing writer Chip Taylor (Fuck All the Perfect People). “Terry said, ‘I’ve found this song, listen to this,’” Horace remembers. “We all sat there open-mouthed.”
The album was recorded in a studio in West London in May of this year with regular bandmates Nikolaj Torp Larsen on keyboards, Kenrick Rowe on drums and Steve Cradock on guitar. Hannah Hu, a young singer from Bradford, fronts Listening Wind and sings back-up on Freedom Highway and Everybody Knows.
The Specials remain one of the most electrifying, influential and important bands of all time and this new record and the success of Encore proves that they are every bit as relevant and vital as they were in 1979.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: As far as ska bands go, there is very little doubt that The Specials are one of the most legendary around, and this excellent collection sees them revisit a number of protest songs written throughout the years in their own inimitable style. Unsurprisingly well done, and full of the sort of playful groove The Specials do so well.
Personally curated by Paul, McCartney III Imagined features an A-List assortment of friends, fans and brand new acquaintances, each covering and/or reimagining their favorite McCartney III moments in their own signature styles. The result is a kaleidoscopic reinterpretation of an album Rolling Stone accurately tagged “an inspiration to us all”—one that serves as an extension of the instantly beloved McCartney III while standing on its own as brilliant and adventurous milestone in the McCartney discography.
The first offering from McCartney III Imagined comes from American singer/rapper/songwriter Dominic Fike, whose cover of “The Kiss of Venus” transmutes the tender acoustic ballad into a retro-futuristic R&B tour de force. “The Kiss of Venus (Dominic Fike version)” is available digitally
Further III-imaginations will be forthcoming from Damon Albarn, Beck, Blood Orange, Phoebe Bridgers, Josh Homme, Khraungbin, 3D RDN of Massive Attack, Ed O’Brien (EOB), Anderson .Paak, St. Vincent and more.
Originally released December 18, 2020, McCartney III is the third in a trilogy of home-made and self-titled albums that began with Paul's 1970 solo debut McCartney, and continued in 1980 with McCartney II. All three albums were written, performed and produced by Paul in varying states of isolation, all showcasing his unique creativity and inspired spontaneity. Recorded in “Rockdown," McCartney III topped album charts across the world, scoring Paul his first UK#1 album in 31 years – increasing his lead as the UK’s most successful chart act of all time.
McCartney III Imagined continues the tradition of the biggest and most diverse names in music covering Paul’s songs — an ever-expanding lineup that ranges from more recent versions by Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Dave Grohl, Coldplay and The Cure, to interpretations over the years from the likes of U2, Guns N’ Roses, Earth Wind & Fire, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and so many more. McCartney III Imagined is a testament of Paul’s enduring and unmatched influence, a legacy that stretches from “Yesterday” being the most covered song in contemporary musical history to the inspiration his current work continues to hold for generations of artists and fans.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: I have to say, I never expected to see Idris Elba listed on the tracklist for a Paul McCartney release, but here we are. A selection of the leading lights in the music (and TV) industry rework a number of tunes from the brilliant 'McCartney III' to great effect. A wonderful companion to the original and a worthwhile listen regardless.
1. Find My Way (feat. Beck)
2. The Kiss Of Venus (Dominic Fike)
3. Pretty Boys (feat. Khruangbin)
4. Women And Wives (St. Vincent Remix)
5. Deep Down (Blood Orange Remix)
6. Seize The Day (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
7. Slidin’ (EOB Remix)
8. Long Tailed Winter Bird (Damon Albarn Remix)
9. Lavatory Lil (Josh Homme)
10. When Winter Comes (Anderson .Paak Remix)
11. Deep Deep Feeling (3D RDN Remix)
12. Long Tailed Winter Bird (Idris Elba Remix)*
Following the success of her 2019 GRAMMY®-nominated album Norman Fucking Rockwell, Lana has announced that March 19th, 2021 is the official release date for her highly anticipated seventh studio album Chemtrails Over The Country Club.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: Lana's 7th album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club brings all of the latent melodicism and swooning pop of her previous outings but with a more melancholic leaning, resulting in a hugely enjoyable distillation of pop with more esoteric production elements.
1. White Dress
2. Chemtrails Over The Country Club
3. Tulsa Jesus Freak
4. Let Me Love You Like A Woman
5. Wild At Heart
6. Dark But Just A Game
7. Not All Who Wander Are Lost
9. Breaking Up Slowly
10. Dance Till We Die
11. For Free
1. Christine’s Tune (Parsons, Hillman)
2. Sin City (Hillman, Parsons)
3. Do Right Woman (Chips Moman, Penn
4. Dark End Of The Street (Chips Moman, Penn)
5. My Uncle (Parsons, Hillman)
6. Wheels (Hillman, Parsons)
7. Juanita (Hillman, Parsons)
8. Hot Burrito #1 (Ethridge, Parsons)
9. Hot Burrito #2 (Ethridge, Parsons)
10. Do You Know How It Feels (Parsons, Barry Goldberg)
11. Hippie Boy (Hillman, Parsons)
An exploration of the vibrational relationship between light, sound and spirit, We Will Always Love You doubles as “an exploration of the human voice” and a spiritual reckoning via the big questions “who are we really? What happens when we die?’”. So says Robbie Chater, who alongside bandmate Tony DiBlasi and collaborator Andrew Szekeres has moved beyond the party-up exuberance of The Avalanches’s youthful music to a tender, reflective sound infused with hard-earned life wisdom.
If there’s a single spark for We Will Always Love You it’s the story of the love affair between Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan: “science communicators” whose writings and TV programs brought the ever-deepening mysteries of astronomy and astrophysics to the mass audience. Chater was profoundly moved by the fact that the couple’s romance was captured and carried into space, thanks to the Voyager Interstellar Message Project. Druyan served as Creative Director in charge of curating the Golden Record: earthling music and assorted terrestrial sounds gathered for the contemplation of any alien civilisations that might be out there and be advanced enough to construct a playback system.
Originally, Druyan was set to be a presence on We Will Always Love You: a studio was booked to record her telling her own story. That never transpired, but Druyan “gave us permission to use her photo on the album cover,” says Chater. “We photographed it off a static-y television set and ran it through a spectograph to make the cover image. So that was a beautiful way that Ann could still be part of the record. We turned her into sound and back again”
Sampling remains at the core of The Avalanches sound, but alongside all of the sample ghosts, We Will Always Love You features an array of living guests who contribute vocals and lyrics: Blood Orange, Rivers Cuomo, Pink Siifu, Jamie xx, CLYPSO, Denzel Curry, Tricky, Neneh Cherry, Sampa the Great, Sananda Maitreya and Vashti Bunyan and many more exciting collaborations to be revealed over the coming months. The Avalanches’s music has always dripped with melody, but because of this expanded role for guest singers and writers, We Will Always Love You is their most song-oriented album yet.
“For us, to make the same record again, no matter how well executed, wouldn’t have been satisfying," says Chater. "We were looking to do something that would open up possibilities for the future. Take a bit of a left turn that frees us up to do whatever we want to next.”
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: Inspired by love, humanity, space and at least 6,000 sample-able records, 'We Will Always Love You' sees The Avalanches return in record time for a third album The album dips into hip hop, disco, house and electronica with all the warmth, wit and wanderlust we've come to expect from the Aussies.
01. Ghost Story (feat. Orono)
02. Song For Barbara Payton
03. We Will Always Love You (feat. Blood Orange)
04. The Divine Chord (feat. MGMT & Johnny Marr)
05. Solitary Ceremonies
06. Interstellar Love (feat. Leon Bridges)
07. Ghost Story Pt. 2 (feat. Orono & Leon Bridges)
08. Reflecting Light (feat. Sananda Maitreya & Vashti Bunyan)
09. Carrier Waves
10. Oh The Sunn! (feat. Perry Farrell)
11. We Go On (feat. Cola Boyy & Mick Jones)
12. Star Song.IMG
13. Until Daylight Comes (feat. Tricky)
14. Wherever You Go (feat. Jamie Xx, Neneh Cherry & CLYPSO)
15. Music Makes Me High
16. Pink Champagne
17. Take Care In Your Dreaming (feat. Denzel Curry, Tricky & Sampa The Great)
19. Gold Sky (feat. Kurt Vile)
20. Always Black (feat. Pink Siifu)
21. Dial D For Devotion (feat. Karen O)
22. Running Red Lights (feat. Rivers Cuomo & Pink Siifu)
23. Born To Lose
24. Music Is The Light (feat. Cornelius & Kelly Moran)
God Knows (feat P Money)
That's Too Much (feat Frisco & D Double E)
LLLL (Love Life Live Large) (feat Chip)
You Don't Know
Energies & Powers (feat Banglez & Alicai Harley)
Eastside (feat Ghetts & Kano)
Act Like U Know (feat Smoke Boys)
Don't Be Dumb (feat Ocean Wisdom)
Be Incredible (feat Rob Jones TV)
A1. Rhymin’ & Stealin'
A2. The New Style
A3. She’s Crafty
A4. Posse In Effect
A5. Slow Ride
A7. Fight For Your Right
B1. No Sleep Till Brooklyn
B2. Paul Revere
B3. Hold It Now, Hit It
B4. Brass Monkey
B5. Slow And Low
B6. Time To Get Ill
1. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. I
2. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. 1
3. Hibou Anemone And Bear
4. A Concise British Alphabet, Pt. II
6. Dada Was Here
7. Thank You Pierrot Lunaire
8. Have You Ever Bean Grean?
9. Pataphysical Introduction, Pt. II
10. Out Of Tunes
11. As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still
12. Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening
13. Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging
15. Orange Skin Food
16. A Door Opens And Closes
17. 10:30 Returns To The Bedroom
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