As the summer solstice comes to an end today, June 22nd, so does the 2nd outing of Taped Together.
The final track this time round also completes a circle. The very first track we uploaded for this project was Ennio Morricone’s Here’s To You. Today’s track, Belinda May, is also by the maestro, but is a very different creature altogether. Whilst no words are sung beyond the name “Belinda May”, an entire story is nonetheless told through the music. If you listen to this once and mistakenly hear a summery, kitsch lullaby of a love song, then listen to it again. Preferably find somewhere you can stop and watch the world go by for 2.54 minutes. A view from a window, a promenade, a seat in a favourite coffee shop. If that’s just not possible, then stick on headphones and close your eyes.
There is none of the powerful build up, no epic crescendo, nor rousing chorus of Here’s To You. Instead the song dives straight in and gets busy, skipping along at a pace that belies the slower, bitter-sweet vocal. Morricone famously uses the human voice as an instrument and this may be his lightest and loveliest example.
But back to that story-without-words. Maybe it’s twilight at the end of searingly hot summer’s day. Or maybe not. Explaining this any more, it occurs to me, spoils it entirely…I’ll leave it to you to make your own story.
Anyone brave enough to remix a track by Kraftwerk is deserving of respect, in particular the practically perfect piece of music that is ‘The Model’. Equally, anyone prepared to try their hand at mashing up Duran Duran’s ‘Girls on Film’ is also a brave soul. To bring these two tracks together, successfully, is a genius move. If it works. And this does.
Turn it up, and enjoy.
About the person behind the track: Marc Vidler is Go Home Productions. Check out his site for more goodness, including a rather excellent Smiths & Destiny’s Child mashup - ‘How Soon is Independence?’
Like no other band, The Beach Boys capitalized on summer and everything it evoked during pre-Vietnam America. Summer was their schtick. “Endless Summer” was their promise. Although their act had its hokey quality, The Beach Boys broke some serious musical ground, especially with Pet Sounds (1996), an LP now ranked 2nd on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Here, the band introduced its own version of The Wall of Sound, and you can hear it on full display with my favorite track, “Sloop John B.” The tune started out as a West Indies folk song called “John B. Sails,” and Carl Sandburg helped popularize it when he included it in his 1927 collection of folksongs, The American Songbag. In the Beach Boys version, the sound is ever sunny; the lyrics are decidedly less so…
My Body Is Made of Sunlight is from the classic 2005 album The Lick Of The Tip Of An Envelope Yet To Be Sent.
I love a bit of Acid Folk, and this song has a special resonance for me - not merely because Circulus have a Crum Horn player who’s a doppleganger for a colleague of mine at Made by Many. Not just because I stalked Circulus a few years ago, and saw them 3 times in as many months - even including hanging around them and trying to engage them in conversation like I had some kind of deranged band-crush. And not because the last time I saw them play at the Union Chapel I walked out the back before they were on to find the whole band chuffing away on some huge stinky reefers… which I blame for their piss-poor performance that night. No, I think this is a beautiful song and it arouses the pagan within me. Perhaps this is because these days either side of the Summer Solstice would once have been the holiest of holy-days. This music puts me back in touch with the shamans and druids, the ancient ones, and I feel re-born. That’s why they call it Acid Folk FFS. Check out the band’s My Space page here.
I’ve always loved songs with more than one layer of meaning as this iconic 1964 Motown track does. Marvin Gaye co-wrote it with Mickey Stevenson, who had in mind the image of black kids in Detroit cooling off of hot days in water sprays from open hydrants. Released July 21, 1964, it became the huge summer hit. The opening 6-note trumpet flourish was a call to action, and the insistent beat that followed made you want to get out there (even white girls like me). That’s how Motown mogul Berry Gordy wanted it, and Martha & co. viewed it as a party song. But summers in the mid-60s in America were not all about dance parties - civil rights actions were very much in the news, and “racial unrest” was the polite way to describe it. The tune’s insistent beat (it’s impossible to stay still) led some black activists to use it as a call to demonstrate: getting out in the streets took on a rather different meaning in cities like Detroit, Newark, and my hometown, Washington DC. The power of rock is that you can hear it both ways, and Dancin’ still has that double edge for me.
Growing up in Los Angeles, summer has a different flavor. It’s hot, but it’s not as humid. Once the sun starts to set, the LA haze and smog give the sun a deep red glow and a slow, soulful song sounds perfect as you cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway for a weekend in Santa Barbara. This song is an old skool classic that still strikes the right chord even today. It’s a perfect song for grilling in the backyard or hanging out at the pool. It reminds me that it’s ok to take it easy and that there is a world beyond Manhattan.
Predictable? Nostalgic? Yes. But screw it. It’s summer.
This is, obviously, just the consummate, gorgeous, partly cloudy summer song. It was also part of the soundtrack to some of my earliest summer memories - those of family drives, on warm evenings, to the local driving range/putting green, where we ate ice cream, listened to my Dad’s terrible jokes and hit buckets of balls. Yes, I had a sort of embarrassingly normal small town childhood, thanks to my parents. People would fee bad for them when, later, I started coming home with funny colored hair, big boots and boyfriends named Razor. And today, I’m a shit golfer. But, no matter what else is on the mix, I always end up sneaking in a bit of Frank.
"Here it is, the groove, slightly transformed, just a bit of a break from the norm. Just a little somethin’ to break the monotony, of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be…"
Fresh Prince, Summertime, 1991
The Fresh Prince (before Will Smith rebranded and renamed himself for his career) teamed up with DJ Jazzy Jeff for Summertime. This isn’t the song I am nominating for Taped Together (rest easy @kirstinbutler who earlier in #tapedtogether put this track into the “lo spectrum” of best summer namesake tracks). Instead you have the original track to download and a rare remix to enjoy.
This ‘family’ of connected tracks came back to mind last month when @Faris an ambassador of the appropriate Talent Imitates, Genius Steals shared a video on Borrowing Culture in the Remix Age where authorship and creative originality are questioned and celebrated. Popular commercial music such as Fresh Prince can go on to be reinterpreted into a number of infinite possibilities. A cover, a mash-up or a new idea can take a main ‘ingredient’ and make it far more palatable. I don’t like aubergine/eggplant, but I love baba ghanoush. The same ingredient concept can work with music and culture.
REMIX (TO LISTEN TO HERE)
I nominate Hybrid’s remix of Summertime (even the name of the Welsh house/breaks/techno producers is suggestive of being a result of many parts). Whenever I’m DJing an outdoors summer party I spin this track from my 1998 compilation vinyl album Old School Vs. New School. The album in itself was at the zeitgeist of recombinant and remix culture. It has reworked/remixed/rerubbed tracks that create results of ‘old school’ (vintage relatively traditional rap) with contemporary production techniques that gave tracks an up-to-date flavour in the big beat and nu-breaks sound of 1998.
I like the track as a guilty pleasure, based on familiarity of the lyrics and featuring the original instrumental basis of the song. Add a bouncy squelchy bassline and some strings = sounds great on an outdoor sound system in the sun.
ORIGINAL (FOR DOWNLOAD BELOW)
Summertime is, like most rap tracks of the 1990’s, based on either a percussion break such as the Amen Brother sample and/or an instrumental sample. This was based on a sample from funk band Kool & The Gang’s 1974 instrumental track Summer Madness. In fact, the original title is name-checked in the lyrics of Summertime. Kool & the Gang also reinvented themselves from a jazz funk band to a pop funk band.
I love the original Summer Madness, it’s a mellow chilled aural representation of a summer evening. It features a revolutionary sound rising synthesizer scale which give the track a distinctive sound and was also stolen by Bill Conti who did the Rocky soundtrack and it give a key part in the Rocky theme Gotta Fly Now two years later. In fact Bill Conti did such a good job of stealing the sound, someone realized and featured the Kool & The Gang track for a few moments of the Rocky movie.
So there it is: jazz funk chill, stolen via Rocky soundtrack, rapped over by the Fresh Prince, beats by Jazzy Jeff, club treatment remix by dance producers and into a DJ Stoney summer party.
The groove IS slightly transformed… It breaks the monotony.
Today’s track is curated by Saneel Radia / @saneel
Summer is current. I hear lots of people talk nostalgically about summer, but I don’t go there mentally. Every summer day I wake up thinking I have a lot of fun to “get done.” It’s an odd balance of structure and chaos, productivity and play. My internal dialogue includes thoughts like “I’m having fun drinking this beer on this patio, but I really should get to that one rooftop and drink a different beer,” or “it’s almost evening and I haven’t played tennis which was on my to-do list, but then I won’t get gelato, which clearly has to be in the plan.”
It would have been easier to pick ten songs that represent summer than to come up with just one. I tried to resist choosing a song with ‘summer’ or ‘sunshine’ in the title but I just couldn’t do it. All the great songs I could think of that say summer to me are ones where the singer is experiencing summer too. (Moreover, there was always a singer; as I scoured my record collection not one instrumental track set off my internal summer alarm.)
Still, this track isn’t entirely literal. The song, as the title says, feels like summer, specifically it feels like one of those laidback Sixties summers. It’s not about an actual summer though, but the feeling of summer. Singer Lisa O’Neill is dumping you, listener, and the feeling that gives her is the same feeling that she gets from summer. And a good summer, I think she means, rather than the dreary, grey one I’m experiencing now as I write this with - no joke - the heating on.
It was the summer of 1988 when my cousin brought home a cassette tape from a conference he attended in Indiana. It prominently featured two African American men behind bars on the cover. One of the men was wearing a Los Angeles Raiders baseball cap pulled down below his brow, the other an obscenely large clock around his neck. I later discovered his reasoning for such a bold aesthetic statement: “I wear a clock around my neck so I know what time it is.” It works on so many levels.
That summer on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Don’t Believe The Hype became the primary song of choice from Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions repertoire. It was played on high school playgrounds, in pseudo-tricked out Chevrolets, and in our modest homes while we were suppose to be cleaning our rooms. Chuck D’s rhyme and reason blazed through the walls of our ear canals like a lion released from the cages of the San Francisco Zoo, and for us, our musical landscape would never be the same again.
The sun isn’t just a star, it’s magic. Summer days are filled with its light that coats everything in a fine lustre. The grass, greener than
before, the flowers, a dance in colour, the sea a deeper blue than ever. Boys that much more handsome, girls that much more pretty. It fills us with hope, makes what was not possible before, seem possible now. It makes falling in love so easy. The sun isn’t just a star, it’s magic.
But then, what is magic? It is but an illusion, a suspension of reality, a voluntary lapse in reason. It’s a trick in human gullibility. The sun isn’t magic… The sun’s a trickster.
If we were playing a word association game and you said to me ‘summer’, I’d immediately close my eyes and picture myself back in Canada driving up to the cottage with this song on the stereo. The Tragically Hip, or The Hip as Canadians like to call them is one of the most famous bands you’ve never heard of and we secretly like it that way. I believe that music takes a snapshot of memories and for many their songs immediately bring back images of friends, family and summertime Canadian rituals.
From a simple beat and voice in the introduction, to a complex listening experience in the end, this song is an incredibly strong backdrop to our summer. It may not mean as much to those who live in perma-warm locations (California, Texas, etc.) but for individuals in the Midwest and Northeast, summers are a blip, and their brevity makes them that much more special. Often we are overwhelmed with the endless choices of diversions the summer offers us but as time goes on, we learn to soak up as much as possible in the few months we have to be outside “playing” with our friends. In tune, this song becomes progressively more complicated, but by the end of it, your ears remain comfortable, accepting the rush of auditory information until finally and quickly, the excitement comes to an end.
Picking my one ultimate summer song was a real toughie. In the end I went for the nostalgiafest. Perfect Skin — and, in fact, the whole of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions’ album Rattlesnakes — was the soundtrack of my summer of ‘85.
The summer I moved from Liverpool to London, from Toxteth to Pimlico, from theater to advertising, from Liverpudlian caffs to Soho restaurants, from chip butties to champagne (ah, London adland in the 80’s…) and fell in love with someone, to quote the Buzzcocks from a few years earlier, ‘I shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with’. One of THOSE summers.
It’s great to be involved with the Taped Together summer playlist. The big question for me was whether to go indie / alternative or electronic / dance? Glastonbury or Ibiza.
I lean towards electronic but this time I wanted to find something with real crossover. I hope I’ve managed find it in this absolute gem from Two Door Cinema Club - a band that are in the process of going stellar. The subtle but supremely tasty remix comes courtesy of The Twelves.
I think it’s an absolutely brilliant record. Hopefully it’ll become part of a summer soundtrack for some of you as well.
I didn’t think it was possible to make the quintessential summer groove “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out any more languid and luscious, and then I heard fellow South Carolinian Toro Y Moi’s remix. The sonic equivalent of an August afternoon, dj Moi’s “Feel It All Around” weaves its dreamlike web of funk, as promised, all around you.
The best summer tracks run the hi-lo spectrum from Samuel Barber’s “Summer Music” to Will Smith’s “Summertime,” but they all share a certain lassitude, an evocation of ambient warmth and go-with-the-flowness. “Feel It All Around” has that same sense of torpor and drift, with a little grind thrown in for good measure. For maximum effect accompany its three-minute-plus chillwave vibe with a deep-tissue sunscreen massage from a willing partner, and feel any residual real-world tension melt away. I predict it’ll become a staple of your summer soundtrack this year.