Posts from 9th September 2006

9
Sep 06

THE MOVE – “Blackberry Way”

FT + Popular64 comments • 5,481 views

#265, 8th February 1969

 

COVER MOVE blackberry wayThe first time I heard this – one of the songs from this era that was entirely new to me – I thought it sounded like a terrible mess. Everything about it was heavy-handed, lead-footed, fuzzy, all its elements slopping into one another and crushing a pretty pop song in the process.

Then of course I realised that’s the desired effect. “Blackberry Way” gets the emotional mood of a break-up right – the mooching, washed-out misery punctuated with blurts of stupid optimism. But it also captures in its production the physical mood too – the way that in its rejection your body no longer seems to fit right with the world, making you feel clumsy and out of place.

(And by most accounts it fits 1969 too – the psychedelia it nods back to has been compromised and complicated, its colours running. A bleak record, this.)

… to GI-I-IVE to the PO-O-OR — oh wait

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herneBUDAPEST, Hungary: Police recovered a collection of video cassettes stolen from a production company working on the BBC’s new TV series Robin Hood, after questioning one of two suspects, police said Saturday… The suspect — identified as 22-year-old Daniel G. — told police he and another man had taken the tapes with the intention of blackmailing the film company…”

THE FREAKY TRIGGER TOP 100 SONGS OF ALL TIME No 67. The Velvelettes – “Needle In A Haystack”

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Nobody volunteered to write about this record, so it falls to yr humble pop editor. Which is a bit of a shame, because it turns out I don’t like it much.

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FLEETWOOD MAC – “Albatross”

FT + Popular75 comments • 8,588 views

#264, 1st February 1969

 

The appearance of not one, but two instrumentals in the late 60s lists shouldn’t be taken as any great sign of a revival: the first months of the year are generally the time when minority tastes can break through. This represents a hiccup in their long decline, but the days of pop instrumentals regularly reaching the top had long gone. Those older hits were light, frisky, dance-ready; “The Good, The Bad…” and “Albatross” are both thicker concentrates of pure mood.

In the case of “Albatross” there’s not even a film to prompt you, so its associations need to be even more compelling. Of all the instrumentals to reach number one, “Albatross” is closest to the ‘exotica’ and lounge music that enjoyed 50s and 60s popularity: a collection of ruthlessly pared-down sound-ideas. The tidal throb of the bass and drums, the seaspray brushes and cymbals – this is soundscaping the Martin Denny way, with a one word title setting the tone like a cherry in the cocktail glass.

It teeters close to kitsch (and is no worse for that) but the glory of the record is the marriage of this briney confection with Peter Green’s wistful, wandering guitar line – an element of subdued individuality that is quite foreign to exotica. Green’s appearance in the track is like a single figure on a postcard seascape – it lends the vista scale and makes it feel more wild and mysterious and lonesome, not more human.