WARMER MIXTAPES #1355 | by Benedict Shenton of The Central Executives, The Main Stem, T-Kut, The M.E.B. and Mind Fair
1. Indian Ocean | Schoolbell/Treehouse
Dean Meredith is also The Rhythm Odyssey, one half of Chicken Lips and founder member of Bizarre Inc. Sometimes Music transports you to a time and place, sometimes that time/place is where you first heard it and sometimes it transcends much further than that, as is the case with me every time I hear this song. It takes me back to all the happiest places in my childhood, but most significantly it conjures up the summer of '94? and to the rural settings of my schoolmate Henry's dad's farm, blissful memories of our shambolic band practices, getting drunk on Stones bitter, his mum's exceptional Sunday roasts cooked to perfection on the range (can still taste them parsnips now), daredevil feats on a 50cc Kawasaki and, of course, the sexy Spanish exchange student who resided at the farm and who we took great pleasure in cajoling into rugby, British bulldog, wrestling or indeed any other lame excuse for physical contact. Aah, sweet adolescence.
2. Glen Campbell | Wichita Lineman
There aren't many pieces of Music that I can honestly say have moved me to tears, Wichita Lineman is one of those. A song penned about a lonely telephone operative long for his love and the conversation on the wire that may ensue. I feel the sadness and loneliness in this song yet it's powerfully comforting for me.
3. Kenny Rankin | Peaceful
Another song that can break me when I'm feeling my most fragile and one I listen to again and again, never fails to amaze me what a great record it is and the control and phrasing he has in his voice. For someone like myself who cherishes time alone and time away from the daily stresses of Life this becomes the perfect tonic.
4. Bobby Goldsboro | Summer (The First Time)
She was 35, I was 17, the opening lyrics in this Bobby Goldsboro classic set the tone for the entire Music and it's surely hard for any listener not really feel the raw, nostalgic emotion and overtone of this piece. In the way that Teenage Kicks brought a tear to John Peel's eyes, I suspect this has had the same affect on many of it's devotees. Young, pure, innocent love… With an older more experienced chick.
5. Shuggie Otis | Strawberry Letter 23
Often, when people ask me what me favourite song of all time is, I needn't hesitate, I usually say this. I've never even really been too sure what it's about, that doesn't matter. It moves me in a way most other records never have, something just resonates. I love The Brothers Johnson version too, but it's not in the same league (I believe one of The Brothers was dating Otis' cousin who introduced him to the Freedom Flight). The whole LP, for me, is immense. My love for this artist also gave name to my now 7 year old son, Otis.
6. Grand Popo Football Club | Men Are Not Nice Guys
Often they're not, but in the case of this record I witnessed first hand and rather touchingly an act of generosity and kind-heartedness from a man like I'd rarely seen before. I had been played this record by my friend Jason Cade, a local DJ and serious record collector at the time, I instantly fell in love with it. A week or two later I found myself unexpectedly bed bound in the geriatric ward of the now notorious Stafford hospital, it was hard to sleep during the nights through the cacophony of groaning and people dying so I would catch up on some sleep during the day. One day, during such a nap, I awoke, quite startled, to see Jase quietly sitting, watching and just waiting patiently for me to stir. When I asked him how long he'd been sat there he told me hours, what's more he'd gotten a train up to Manchester prior to this to get me a copy of the aforementioned Grand Popo 12" and had walked the two miles from mum's to get to me. Sadly, Jason is no longer with us, but that gesture alone would keep him in my heart forever.
7. Queen | One Vision
OK, so, not the coolest song ever, but, to explain a little, this could have been any track on the A Kind Of Magic LP. It was on heavy rotation in our household at the time, I must've been about 5 or 6 I guess. I only ever have one memory of a family holiday when our whole family went, my Dad worked hard and was self employed and thus never being able to take the time off. This particular summer though he did just that, we packed all our stuff and ourselves into the brown, bone shaker Land Rover he owned at the time and we set of for Butlin's Pwllheli. We set of at 5 to avoid the traffic (and because this is just what time my old man has always got up and left the house). The soundtrack to that journey was Queen, the early morning Sun beating through the sliding side windows and a beautiful claret Sky enriched the Horizon. My brother had a punnet of plums which he fed me continually so that he could throw the resulting stones out of the windows at passers by, which was funny up until the point where I was violently sick. Not only is this one of my earliest musical memories, but also the first time I heard the expression Red sky at night, shepherd's delight…. By the time we finally arrived at our destination I had a little colour back in my face and we went for a dip in the communal outdoor pool whilst our parents checked into the chalets. It was only an hour or two before Huricaine Charlie moved in, but he stubbornly hung around for most of the week.
8. Eric Clapton | Change The World (Phenomenon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Eric God Clapton was single handedly the reason I decided to pick up the guitar and subsequently make my own Music. I was obsessed by Blues Music from the age of about 10 upwards, taking in everything from Chuck Berry, BB King, Muddy Waters et al, but it was Clapton who made the biggest and most lasting impression. I read his biography when I was about 11, there was a line in it that told of how he could walk into an Armani store and pick up a shirt he liked, buy it and not discover the $1000 price tag until he got home because in short he was that stinking rich he didn't have too. Rather spuriously, I suppose on a deeper introspection, I found this alluring. Needless to say, years down the line and money has no bearing on my motivation and continuing obsession with Music, otherwise I'd have given it all up by now. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter how you got there and, as a kid, Eric Clapton helped me believe I could change the World with Music. And maybe one day I will, or at least die trying.
9. Chris Isaak | Wicked Game
The early nineties to some means Acid House, Ecstasy and warehouse parties. For me it has a whole different meaning. BMX's, Horror movies, Yazoo (the milkshake not the band) and MTV. MTV back in the day, when it used to play Music Videos. Yeah, I know that actually was a thing. Wicked Game soundtracks this era perfectly for me, it encapsulates everything that I loved about my life back then. It was dark, brooding and exceptionally sexual. Some songs would tire after 30 repeats in a day, yet this uniquely never did and still evokes those coming of age feelings that were so confusing at that age. The perfect Pop record.
10. Nirvana | Smells Like Teen Spirit
The soundtrack to my youth. This was OUR Punk, never have I seen, before or after, a record to come along and have such a devastating effect on so many, it really was the Zeitgeist. Simple enough that even the most unlearned musicians could play it, a vocal so incoherent anybody could sing it (and make up your own words as no one new what they were supposed to be). A big regret is never seeing them live, Kurt Cobain took his life shortly before they were due to play in at the Aston Villa Leisure Center in Birmingham. There weren't many people my age in Stafford that didn't have tickets for that show. After the collective shock and morning subsided I remember vividly the scramble at Mike Lloyd's, the local record shop, to get refunds for our tickets. Mike LLoyd seemed uncharacteristically forthcoming in giving people their money back… Easier understand in the days/weeks to follow, when the fateful tickets were trading at around the £300 mark!