Including this double dude…
Literally nothing is more embarrassing than having someone burst into the shower just as you’re about to hit your peak during an emotive soul recital. You’re naked, you’re squealing, those vocal runs you’re doing are much more impressive in your head, they’re pointing at you and sharing crude pictures with their mates on Instagram. It’s a sorry situation for everyone involved. But that wouldn’t be a problem for any of these guys, who can sing the fuck out of shit because they’re bloody amazing… MY FAVOURITE MALE SOUL SINGERS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Feel free to go absolutely apeshit in the comments section because I’ve got it all wrong and didn’t include Stevie Wonder…
The greatest of them all, his voice is smoother than a long piece of wood you’ve spent the last week sanding down for eight hours a day without stopping. Do the maths, that’s basically smooth as fuck. Stupidly, he decided to kill himself in 1979 by jumping out of a window. I was just three at the time, which is neither here nor there.
It’s nuts to think that Otis Redding was just 26 when he was killed in a plane crash, he sounds so mature and borderline-elderly when he sings. Confession time guys! Otis Blue is one of the few records I own that I could listen to from start to finish every single day without tiring of. I have no idea why I just made out that was a big confession.
You might not have heard of this cat, because Frankie Beverly was never a solo star in his own right. He sung with the band Maze in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and possibly beyond, and those cats were funkier than a stink on a hot summer’s day. Some of you might have noticed that I’ve suddenly started saying “cat” a lot in this paragraph. Go with it, I’m just trying it out.
Bobby Womack’s enjoying another blast in the sunshine after collaborating with Damon Albarn on that album about a year ago. Everyone liked it because it combined modern day sounds with old style singing. I didn’t listen to it because I’m a bearded vinyl twat who pretends to only like old stuff like 1970s albums and vintage shirts. I do love Bobby Womack though, he always sounds about this close to a violent coughing fit.
I’m going through a big Isley Brothers moment that doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon. I love them because they looked like a great big pile of fat black Elvis impersonators, I like that they could throw down serious funk jams next to syrupy soul ballads. I adore them especially because Ron Isley has one of the most slippery voices the world has ever seen. And I mean that in a good way.
If I had to pick my favourite Marvin Gaye album I’d go for I Want You because it’s the sexiest record ever made, full of secret messages in between the lines saying stuff like “come here woman” and “I’m gonna hold you real tight”. Chicks love that kind of shit. I also like What’s Going On, Trouble Man, Let’s Get It On, Here My Dear, and basically every other record he ever made.
Whether fat or thin Luther could sing the phone book and while everyone would listen for a minute then whisper “is this guy actually singing the PHONE BOOK?” to each other with an incredulous look in their eyes, they’d all agree that the lyrics might be boring as fuck, but that fat guy’s got the voice of an angel.
When I was a student in Bristol I spent my days frying up pieces of bread for my world famous fried bread fried bread sandwiches and listening to Brown Sugar by D’Angelo. Man that cat could groove. That’s right everyone I’m back to saying “cat” again. Deal with it.
Obviously I’m never going to die, but if I did – IF I DID – during the bit where my coffin is lowered into the ground while all manner of beautiful women in black howl to the heavens I’d like someone to put on Hercules by Aaron Neville. It tells the story of a man just trying to get through life and deal with the struggles. I know what you’re thinking – that’s me in a nutshell. Great song, and what a voice.
Ah man, the last spot was always going to be a nightmare. Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, even Lionel Richie had a shout. Then you’ve got Bill Withers and Gil Scott-Heron who I adore. Terry Callier’s amazing. Sam Cooke. White soul singers like Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart. James Brown who grunted a lot but could also sing amazingly well, Michael Jackson who took soul to the billions. Smokey Robinson, any of the Temptations, I even like R Kelly a little bit. But in the end I went with Willie Hutch who’s just plain wicked.
Yeah, afraid not lads
The debate has been raging for months and years and will go on literally until the end of time, but I’ve finally cracked it – I’ve compiled a list of the Top 20 Great British Bands of all time… according to me. It was a painful, emotional and often unnerving experience, as I watched groups that I adore trundle along the imaginary conveyor belt in my mind, only to clumsily fall off like overfilled cardboard boxes right at the very end. Amongst them The Rah Band who could boogie with the best of them at one point, Dexys Midnight Runners who were consistently excellent, Massive Attack who provided anthems for 1990s dope smokers, The Jam, The Smiths, New Order. Loose Ends. The Shadows. Average White Band. I secretly like Duran Duran and The Pasedenas. Even Wham! One of my guilty pleasures is Young Guns by Wham! I fucking love that track. But in the end I got there. You won’t find Coldplay, Keane, Radiohead, Blur or Oasis in this list. Basically because I don’t like those groups. Neither will you find Queen on account of me not standing them, which is unusual…
1. Small Faces
The greatest band of them all for so many reasons. They dressed in fine outfits made from continental thread, they weren’t alarmingly tall which is neither here nor there, but most importantly they made great tunes, made even better on account of Steve Marriott having the howliest British rock roar of all time. When Marriott eventually flounced off, they famously dropped the Small and employed a guy with a dreadful cough called Rod Stewart.
2. The Beatles
Everyone likes The Beatles. Everyone. Even people who go on about how much they hate The Beatles secretly get home every night and dance naked in front of a mirror to Twist and Shout or Hey Jude. They’re just really bloody excellent, even Ringo who had a foghorn voice and was hilariously considered the twelfth best drummer in the band. Both Revolver and Rubber Soul would make my all-time top 100 albums list. The below track, however, features on neither of those records.
3. The Specials
For those who don’t remember 2-Tone, it involved wearing clothes that were a touch too tight and running on the spot to reggae played a touch too fast. So in short, it was fucking amazing, and of the swathes of bands that bum rushed the charts this one was the best. Their presence here means there’s no room for Madness, The Selecter, or Bad Manners. Although there never would have been room for Bad Manners anyway. No offense.
4. The Kinks
The quintessential English band, that’s what everyone says about The Kinks. They’d sing about things like sipping a cup of tea and bonking the vicar’s wife, or about a buxom man-women they met in a seedy Soho coffee shop. All with a wry smile, a cheeky wink, and a fist punched into the crease in their forearm accompanied by a big chorus of “phwoooar look at the arse on that!”. Without them we wouldn’t have bands like Blur, which may or may not be a good thing. It would mean no almighty cheese prick Alex James. Yeah, perhaps we hate The Kinks. Actually no, we love them. Sorry.
5. Black Sabbath
Before he married a frumpy lady in a floor length Laura Ashley frock who was the opposite of his usual crumpet called Sharon Arden, Ozzy Osbourne was in a band called Black Sabbath, and they were really really fucking loud. So loud your ears would actually grow skin over them during the course of an album. So loud that voices in your head would start to exist just to tell them to stop. So loud that you wouldn’t hear an explosion unless it was actually in your face. So loud that they keep other heavy rock bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden and the Zep out of the top 20. Which is ridiculous when you think about it, because the Zep were AMAZING and should definitely be on this list. And yet they’re not.
6. The Rolling Stones
Old Rubber-Face and the girls have been around so long and now look so old and decrepit like a collection of line drawings wearing suits that it’s hard to remember that when they were younger they were great looking like hot European chicks and innovative like serious German scientists. They were dangerous innovators and over the years they have produced some outstanding music moments.
7. The Jesus and Mary Chain
Don’t be fooled by the strange pissing noises and the fact these guys look precisely like glue sniffers, they’re the real deal. They’re artistes, which is French for artists. They’re also Scotiche, which is French for Scottish. The below clip comes with an introduction from the original Pixie Geldof – Paula Yates.
As funk bands go, the US had it nailed, but Cymande could go toe to toe with any one of them in the 1970s. Formed in London in 1971, they’re still going, and if you listen to this stuff for long enough your trousers morph into flared jeans and some wicked sideburns just appear from nowhere.
9. The Who
If it’s a loud 1960s mod band with buckets of attitude you’re after, try The Who. If you’re looking for solid 1970s rock featuring a man who was separated at birth from Kevin Keegs, try The Who. In the mood for a rock opera?…. you’re probably starting to get the gist of this. Like it when songs start all teasingly slow and then suddenly feature aggressive guitar licks and mad drum skills? I’m doing it again aren’t I?
10. The Style Council
The debate will rage until the planet finally explodes itself on account of global warming, but who is better, The Jam or The Style Council? Both Paul Weller groups, they divide people. One were all jackets and haircuts, the other soft synths, a bit of sax, and men looking like they’d oiled up and recreated Brideshead Revisited. In my case, I like to take The Jam from October to March, then from April to September I prefer The Style Council. At the moment, I’m in an April kind of mood what with it actually being April, so you do the math(s).
11. The Coral
Merseyside has a great tradition in churning out fantastic pop groups, and these cheeky chappies follow in a great tradition that follows The Beatles, The Farm, The Boo Radley’s and Cast. Yes, most of the bands just mentioned are utter shit. That was the joke. These guys aren’t though, hence why they keep The Zutons, The Las and all manner of other floppy haircuts in tight jeans out of this line up.
12. Gang of Four
Time was when you could go for a job interview in a stuffy office working for THE MAN during the afternoon, then head off to perform your political socialist mantras on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the evening without bothering to change outfits. Above are post-punkers Gang of Four. A band that keeps Orange Juice, The Pop Group and Magazine out of the running for reasons of being ever so slightly better.
13. Soul II Soul
Jazzie B is the only human being who has ever dared to pick up a keyboard/guitar without looking like the world’s most stupid prick. Hence Soul II Soul keeps Young Disciples, Freeez, and Loose Ends out of the running. Just.
14. The Clash
Probably three of the greatest front men of all time stuck into a single band, Jones, Simonon and Strummer were like three Springsteens, only not quite so palatable in a good way. The Clash were also the pick of the 1970s British punk bands, so they keep The Damned and the Sex Pistols off the list.
15. Arctic Monkeys
Definitely the most current band on the list, Arctic Monkeys are continuing the trend of nifty bands coming out of the Northern city of Sheffield, which is famous for making steel and generally being an incredibly depressing place for everyone involved – ABC, Pulp, Heaven 17, The Human League. Of that lot, these guys are possibly the best. They can’t quite beat local legend Joe Cocker though. Not yet.
As a band, Aswad were far better than their international saccharine smash Don’t Turn Around would have you believe. An excellent, excellent reggae group, with an occasional singing drummer thrown in to boost them up to Warp Factor A Million on the Wicked-o-Metre. They keep UB40 out of the Top 20.
17. The Slits
Long before The Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, The Sundays, The Mondays, Little Mix and One Direction girl groups were already going super strong in the UK. Look at The Slits – below in 1979. Their lead singer Ari Up invented a revolutionary one-legged dance, which she’d occasionally practice in one of London’s many parks.
18. The Stone Roses
For a strange period in the 1990s, everyone thought it was cool to talk in a Manchester accent and walk around like a really arrogant version of Charlie Chaplin with their feet pointing in opposite directions. That was entirely thanks to the Madchester explosion that started when these guys detonated a pop-funk-dance-rock bomb and ended when the shaved gorillas in Oasis started throwing their weight around because they’d just that minute taken a bunch of coke. Oasis didn’t make the list.
19. Echo and the Bunnymen
Although as a child the bitter disappointment of not seeing a rabbit on guitar or a big brown hare on drums would have me shouting and throwing bricks at the TV whenever these guys were on Top of the Pops, you just can’t fault them as a band. They’ve got all the ingredients: a guy on guitar, someone singing, a bloke playing bass, a wild feral animal smashing around on the drums. They keep The Smiths and The Cure out of the running.
20. Public Image Ltd
Johhny Rotten’s second most famous band, but my favourite of the two – they had a slightly less shouty thing happening, and proved once and for all that Rotten really can’t sing. Not that it matters.
Yeah man, that’s a BEARD
Of course, before this crippling financial downturn, we could all throw our money around willy-nilly. Hence why typical street-side dustbins were overflowing with untainted McDonalds meals, discarded by drunk businessmen who only nipped in for a cheeseburger and a McPiss, but thought they’d pay with a card, so ended up with nine Big Macs that they didn’t really want. Tramps were fatter, people were happier, and if you wanted to splurge a few quid on a record you wouldn’t normally buy, you’d just sandwich it between a few hipper items, like The Smiths, or one of those Stand Up and Be Counted funk compilations. Unfortunately, now that the pinch of the financial winter has grabbed us all by the underpants, musical purchases need to be well-thought-out, or downloaded on the sly. It’s a weird time for the song singing industry. Really weird. Which is why we feel a warm buzz of euphoria whenever we catch wind of a wonderful bargain. Just yesterday, friend of the site Dan-Dan stumbled across a rather acquired taste in his local Let’s Cure Diseases – or some such. “I’ve always secretly enjoyed the work of Michael McDonald,” he whispered from behind a pillar, “but never enough to fork out proper money for his work, so when I saw it going for second hand prices, I snapped it up – snapped it up real good.” Like Dan-Dan, we also could confess to having a secret thing for the grey haired, bearded, white soul singer. Even if his voice does sound a little bit like a muffled fog horn being sounded from over a nearby hill. So come on Dan-Dan, how much for this humiliating record? “20p”
Here’s a cut from the album…
Now, after a week of carrot-dangling, we’re finally at the summit – celebrating the greatest UK Number One singles of all time. Each one is brilliant for a reason. The Kinks make the list for introducing the world to an early incarnation of rock music with “You Really Got Me“. Sinead O’Connor’s heartfelt rendition of a song written by Prince remains one of the most angry and emotional love songs of all time. The Rolling Stones had many decent smash hits, but “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” kicks all of them right in the underpants. “Billie Jean” makes the cut for not only being one of Jackson’s finest, but also because it’s one of his WEIRDEST – that people still dance enthusiastically to a song about an insane delusional fan is completely brilliant. The Beach Boys managed two UK Number One’s, the first of which, “Good Vibrations”, is a masterpiece of musical arrangement, and possibly the electro-theremin‘s finest hour. Paul Hardcastle managed to mix the dialogue from a documentary about post-traumatic stress disorder,“Vietnam Requiem”, with serious synthesizers to make a dance record with an ideology. “Ghost Town” by The Specials also veered into the pop charts waving a political flag, this time spookily condemning Thatcher’s Britain, and creating a truly eerie pop/reggae fusion. The Jam kept “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers off the top spot with Weller’s ode to Woking, which is also a great rock record to dance to – just watch “Billy Elliot” if you don’t believe us. Althea and Donna were a shock one week/one hit wonder back in 1978, thanks to some sterling work by the late, great John Peel – if there is such thing as a cult number one, then this is it. And The Beatles were always going to be sitting somewhere near the top, and, as it is, they snatched the crown with probably the greatest A/B side combination of them all – “Paperback Writer” and (the EVEN BETTER) “Rain”. Only two other A/B combos came into contention throughout the 40 – “Penny Lane”/”Strawberry Fields”, until we realised that it didn’t make it to the top of the charts, it peaked at Number 2. And “Start”/”Liza Radley” by The Jam. But, in the end, this one prevailed, whilst the other two didn’t. Hence, this is our best Top Ten ever. Enjoy…
1A. The Beatles, Paperback Writer (1966)
1B. The Beatles, Rain (1966)
2. Althea and Donna, Uptown Top Ranking (1978)
3. The Jam, A Town Called Malice (1982)
4. The Specials, Ghost Town (1981)
5. Paul Hardcastle, 19 (1985)
6. The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations (1966)
7. Michael Jackson, Billie Jean (1983)
8. The Rolling Stones, Satisfaction (1965)
9. Sinead O’Connor, Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)
10. The Kinks, You Really Got Me (1964)
We’ve reveled in Part One and Part Two of our hit parade countdown, so rather unsurprisingly today finds us enjoying Part Three, which features ten fine Number One hits that didn’t quite make it into the Top 10. But they needn’t be ashamed, as they are still great big giants amongst men. Amongst them are the Arctic Monkeys – a relatively new band – the finest Bowie single of them all, Madonna’s greatest moment, and the funkiest song about beating people up that’s ever been carved into vinyl. Plus, of course, there’s the inevitable Rod Stewart number. Hence, 11-20 reads a little something like this…
11. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends (1968)
12. Gary Numan, Cars (1979)
13. Beyonce, Crazy In Love (2003)
14. Rod Stewart, Maggie May (1971)
15. Madonna, Into The Groove (1985)
16. The Human League, Don’t You Want Me (1981)
17. Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighting (1974)
18. David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes (1980)
19. Procul Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
20. Arctic Monkeys, I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor (2005)
And so to the second installment of our chart countdown, which features only top selling singles. The ones that smashed through the roof of the hit parade. You won’t find Pixie Lott here, sadly, because we have no idea what she/he sounds like. You will, however, be thrown into the past with some classic Beatles action. Plus Musical Youth (pictured), some melancholic folk music from Don McLean, the second greatest David Bowie single of all time, and Mark Morrison – that’s right, Mark Morrison. Often the victim of cruel jokes about being a great big lummox, let’s not forget that for a small window in 1996, he released one of the finest gangster R&B love songs ever written. Seriously, we genuinely love this record. Hence numbers 21-30 read like this…
21. The Beatles, She Loves You (1963)
22. Soft Cell, Tainted Love (1981)
23. David Bowie, Let’s Dance (1983)
24. The Jam, Going Underground (1980)
25. Gnarls Barkley, Crazy (2006)
26. Beats International, Dub Be Good To Me (1990)
27. Musical Youth, Pass The Dutchie (1982)
28. Don McLean, Vincent (1971)
29. Mark Morrison, Return of The Mack (1996)
30. Pet Shop Boys, West End Girls (1986)
Absolutely including this lot…
The big news is that John Lydon is reforming his old group Public Image Ltd to go on some kind of tour. And that got us to thinking. PiL was Lydon’s second successful stab at the big time with a band, but what other artists have been lucky enough to enjoy two days or more in the sunshine? We decided to come up with ten of the best, with the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets, The Raconteurs, Gorillaz and The Foo Fighters all falling at the final hurdle…
1. The Style Council
The Jam split up in 1982 and Weller formed The Style Council in 1983. Much to a lot of Jam fan’s disgust. Where were the spikey guitar riffs? Fuck me, is that a PIANO? The Style Council were much silkier and soulful. They wore lovely cardigans. It was picnic-pop, but totally brilliant. Weller’s finest hour?
2. The JB’s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, James Brown ploughed through backing band line ups – mainly because he was a massive soul bastard, and paid everyone in either punches or peanuts. The JB’s provided the sound for his golden period in the early 1970s, succeeding The Famous Flames, The James Brown Band, and The James Brown Orchestra. Bootsy Collins on bass, “Jabo” Starks on drums, Fred Wesley at the back tromboning. So to speak.
3. Public Image Ltd
Formed in 1978, almost directly after the Sex Pistols had imploded, PiL featured John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten), Keith Levene – once of The Clash – and Jah Wobble. Or, at least, the first line up did. Over the years, almost twenty thousand people could claim to have once been a member of PiL. You were probably in the band without realising it. Lydon’s best band.
4. Humble Pie
Small Faces were bloody excellent, Humble Pie weren’t too bad either – much rockier, intent on wooing audiences in America. They initially got together after Steve Marriott had failed to convince his Small Faces bandmates to allow Peter Frampton to join the group, so he flounced off and made Humble Pie instead. For the first half of the 1970s, they were a fantastic band, then Marriott went a little bit loco.
5. New Order
After Ian Curtis decided to dance weirdly into the eternal night in 1980, the Joy Division morphed into New Order – a far more oily band, replacing their office temp outfits for short shorts, and highlights in their hair. All three surviving members– Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris – stayed on board, with the addition of Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert on keyboard guitar. As anyone who reads massive textbooks about war well knows, the Joy Division was a reference to the prostitution wing of concentration camps during the Second World War, New Order was incorrectly seen to be taken from a quote in Mein Kampf. The band are not fascists.
Wings, though rather unfashionable to like, were actually a pretty decent band. Not, obviously, as good as The Beatles, but tracks like Maybe I’m Amazed and Live and Let Die would have been great additions to any Beatles back catalogue. In fact, the latter was produced by George Martin. They were also the only permanent band formed by any of The Beatles after the split, with McCartney leading the merry troupe for around ten years. He might even have been a Wing for longer than he was a Beatle. They enjoyed much chart success with Linda on backing vocals.
7. Crosby, Stills and Nash
Crosby was once of The Byrds, Stills was once of Buffalo Springfield, and Nash was once of The Hollies. All very successful, sometimes brilliant, pop groups. Hence, this was seen as something of a supergroup project when the three formed in 1968. And yet, they’re still going. Or, at least, on and off. They were so-named to prevent any of the bandmates stealing the name of the group should any of them decided to leave – a result of bitter experience in the cases of Crosby and Nash – and Neil Young would occasionally join in, making it Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Rather cleverly.
8. Lucy Pearl
Like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lucy Pearl was made up of three big names from successful R&B and hip hop groups. There was Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone!, Dawn Robinson from En Vogue, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. Originally D’Angelo was supposed to join in too, but some kind of commitment clash meant that he couldn’t. In the original formation, they only managed to squeeze out one album – in 2000 – but the good news is that it was a corker.
9. Big Audio Dynamite
After getting royally booted out of The Clash, Mick Jones shuffled around for a bit, then eventually formed Big Audio Dynamite with reggae/punk legend Don Letts in 1984. With Jones on lead vocals for once, they became known for mixing punk rock with reggae, hip hop, and whatever kind of genre they fancied with an impressive degree of success and innovation. Their biggest hit came with E=MC2 in 1986. Which isn’t featured below.
10. Gnarls Barkley
Both members of Gnarls Barkley have enjoyed musical success with other groups. Danger Mouse with the Damon Albarn cartoon vanity project Gorillaz, and Cee-Lo Green with the popular US rap group Goodie Mob – who were particularly popular in the 1990s thanks to their affiliation with Outkast, and the rise in popularity of raps from the Deep South. As Gnarls Barkley, everyone knows them for that great song about going bananas.
Marvin Gaye, I Want You
Site regulars will be easy to spot today – they’ll be the ones with a thin film of sweat covering their hungry bodies, their blouses/shirts undone just enough to give you a glimpse of the goods, and you might even be able to hear the soft echo of a rumbling in their loins. It is, after all, Thursday. The most sexually charged day of the week. We like to celebrate Thursdays by playing a sensual love song, and today it’s the turn of Marvin Gaye to explain to his woman that he wants to go to bed and have sex, which he does without ever actually standing up to spell it out.
Jose Feliciano, California Dreaming
Jose Feliciano – probably the most famous blind Puerto Rican singer in the world – turns a very musical 64 today. He’ll probably spend the evening with a bunch of Spanish speaking friends, all sitting around, speaking Spanish, and doing that game where you hit the pretend donkey with a stick until sweeties, chocolates, blood and intestines all spill from its battered guts. It’s going to be quite a day. Hence we decided to get Jose a gift, so we all put of blindfolds and went walking through town discussing ideas, knocking into walls, and getting hit by bikes. It wasn’t long before it boiled down to a toss up between a guide dog, or a clip of one of his finest musical moments. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Jose!
Including this man all grown up…
Names are important, that’s why we all have one. You can tell a lot about a man/woman from staring at their face, or deep into their eyes, but to really know someone, you have to know their name. And these simple monickers can tell you nearly everything you need to know. For example, no one called Neil has ever run a successful import/export fruit company, and you’d be hard pushed to find a Jimmy who couldn’t sing at least slightly in tune. There has never been a popular male model called Simon, and no one in the House of Lords is called Carlos. These are the facts. And another fact is that anyone called Larry will have a special talent, as proven by these four remarkable Larries…
1. Larry Sanders
Although a made-up sitcom character, Larry Sanders is our favourite Larry. The brainchild of the brilliant 1970s/1980s comedian Garry Shandling, he is a chat show host warped by neurosis and a massive ego. The show itself is our third favourite US sitcom ever, and probably responsible for faux-reality programmes like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm. A great Larry.
2. Larry Graham
The greatest bass player of all time, Larry Graham was the man behind the slapping technique – once reserved only for wives by kitchen sinks, but then readapted to bass guitar playing. It was rife in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a member of Sly and the Family Stone before going off to front Graham Central Station, and he has collaborated with some wonderful artists, including Betty Davis and Prince, both of whom could be easily described as “raunchy”. He proves that some Larries can be very good at music.
3. Larry David
The sitcom world’s greatest actual real-life Larry, David was one-half of the mighty throbbing brain that conjured up Seinfeld – the greatest sitcom of them all – and now he’s continuing to blaze trails as the star of Curb Your Enthusiasm. His baldness proves that many men called Larry have to endure a pay-off for their talent, so while he might be really good at being hilarious, he will never again know what it’s like to wear a gentleman’s quiff.
4. Larry Hagman
It was a tough one, deciding on the fourth most wonderful Larry, with Fishburne, Grayson, and ... the Lamb all very nearly barging their way into the final cut. But in the end we went with the man who put the JR in Ewing, Larry Hagman. A wonderfully sleazy actor, he wasn’t just brilliant in Dallas, he was also quite handy in I Dream of Jeannie, in which he played both master and sexual love interest to a very strange magic woman.
Level 42, The Sun Goes Down
A hugely underrated band, Level 42 were oozing with synthesized funk, especially Mark King on bass who liked to wear his guitar just centimetres below his chin. It was an impressive look, and above is one of their greatest moments.
Wow, with that Bank Holiday, the week is hurtling along – it’s Wednesday already. Site members will be easily recognisable by their tight bell bottoms and shirts undone to the guts. Today, allow Hipnotic to appeal to your more lonesome side while you dance sensually.
Terence Trent D’Arby, If You Let Me Stay
And lo, another Thursday rolled around, and the people they did rub butter from the lord’s goats and cows into one another’s wanting bosoms and gentlemanly swords crafted of finest human silk. The flower petals watered, the sounds of the prophet Terence Trent D’Arby echoed about the land, his words begging a gentlewoman to hold him in her heart, not discard him like a lowly bread baker.
The Chiffons, He’s So Fine
You’ll recognise the more avid members of the Interestment family, as they’ll be the ones at work who smell slightly of baby oil, and appear to have sprinted to the office this morning without showering. That’s because they know how sexual Thursdays are, so they will have set the alarm for around 2am, and squeezed in six or seven hours of tantric sex before work. Just you watch them leg it the minute the clock strikes 5pm. It’s a very sexy day which we always celebrate with a song. Today, it’s the turn of The Chiffons and their marvelous ode to a boy they really really fancy.
Kseniya Simonova, Sand Animation
Were he not cock-punched by the cruel fist of death almost exactly a year ago, Isaac Hayes would be turning a very soulful 67 today. Instead, he’s laying motionless in a Memphis graveyard. Alone. Dead. Humming some of his greatest hits. It’s a genuine shame. Hence, we decided to get him a gift, and knowing that he was a Scientologist, we thought we’d honour his beliefs by running around town dressed as lizards shouting at passers-by to hand over their souls. Whilst simultaneously discussing gift ideas, which quickly boiled down to a toss up between a science fiction book by L Ron Hubbard, or a clip of an amazing woman on the Ukrainian version of Britain’s Got Talent. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Isaac Hayes!
Young Disciples, Apparently Nothin’
Despite the American vocalist, Carleen Anderson, Young Disciples were very much a British band. They were signed to Talkin’ Loud, the rest of the group was British, they recorded with Paul Weller and Mick Talbot of the Style Council. Above is their moment in the sunshine.
Bill Withers, Use Me
Yes, it’s happened again, Thursday has come around directly after Wednesday. Site regulars will already have prepared for the day, perhaps by packing an extra overnight bag to take into the office, crammed with squeezable honey, a couple of Kenny G albums, probably some dry rose petals. A lot of condoms. It is, after all, the most sexy day of the week, which we always like to honour with a good song. And they don’t come much better than this Bill Withers classic, which tells the story of a horny young gentleman enjoying whatever sensual scraps a right royal bitch deems to throw at him.
Les McCann, Compared to What
On the off-chance that you passed by someone in a beret this morning, we hope that you didn’t stop dead in your tracks and start pointing, guffawing, and leaping from one foot to the other making strange nasal intonations that were supposed to sound foreign. Because, doofus, it may not have been a wandering Frenchman. It might simply have been a Jazz enthusiast celebrating another wonderful Tuesday. Above, Les McCann takes us for a political walk.
Marvin Gaye, A Funky Space Reincarnation
You might only know Hulk Hogan from Rocky III, in which he played the part of a wrestler called Thunderlips – he was overlooked by the Academy, but his performance was very solid. He even held his own up against Sly Stallone. Others might know him from Thunder in Paradise, a television programme about ex-Navy SEALS who have become local guns-for-hire on a dreamy holiday resort. The rest will know him because he’s a gigantic wrestler who is turning 56 today. Hence we thought we’d get him a gift, so we organised an enormous conference, hired an entire hotel, went around a room asking thirty or so very reluctant employees to introduce themselves and tell a funny story about something hilarious that once happened to them, underwent a series of very pointless and time consuming bonding exercises which did nothing but further alienate the shyer members of the team, endured extremely awkward conversations with higher ranking colleagues who appeared to be attempting to hide the thin-lipped greed that drives them to the very highest highs professionally, but has left them both socially and sexually impotent. Then, FINALLY, we got round to the gift ideas, and all immediately agreed on either a survival knife or a Marvin Gaye song. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Hulk Hogan!
Lee McDonald, We’ve Only Just Begun
And so it was that another Thursday rolled around, and the people did smear great big dripping handfuls of baby oil and honey into one another’s thighs, buttocks, and ‘pon the gentlewoman’s soft pale ankles. Twas, after all, the day when moons of lustiness shone bright, hence tongues not only for the speaking. Which basically means everyone did it. Excellent. Above, the barely-known-but-magnificent soul singer Lee McDonald reinterprets The Carpenters.
Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed
When it comes to the Lennon/McCartney debate, we rather unfashionably prefer Paul McCartney. That might be because our first ever single was Ebony and Ivory, it might be because he was the real genius in The Beatles. We just don’t know. Also rather unfashionably, we think that Wings were completely brilliant. Above is some proof of that.
Jodeci, Freek’n You
“Every time I close my eyes I wake up feeling so horny” sing Jodeci, really catching the mood of a proper Thursday – the official day of freeking each other. You might notice some people in the office refusing to blink. That’s just their way of staving off the horniness until the evening. But, if you’re anything like us, you’ll already be dimming the lights, unzipping your trousers to allow a mellow breeze to dance around your groin, and mouthing along to this sexed up R&B rubdown.
No room for this gentleman…
In tragic music icon terms, Michael Jackson actually lived a fairly long and prosperous life. He made it to half a century, which isn’t bad at all. Elvis only got as far as 42, John Lennon made it to 40 before taking four bullets in the back, and Michael Hutchence was still a fairly youthful 37. Keith Moon and John Bonham made it fashionable for great drummers to die at 32. Then, of course, you have all of the rock stars who couldn’t make it past 27 – Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison. Gram Parsons was even younger at 26, as was Otis Redding when he died in a plane crash. Tupac was 25, Notorious BIG 24, Ian Curtis 23, and Sid Vicious and Eddie Cochran were barely grown ups at just 21. In fact, the list of tragic early deaths is relatively endless. So with that in mind, we thought it high time to select the four most unfortunate, as decided by us…
1. Jimi Hendrix, 27
It was a very sad day for music in 1970 when Hendrix apparently lay on his back, choking on his own sick, thanks to a few too many red wines. The whole thing still smells a little bit fishy, with rumours floating around that it might not have simply been the innocent death of a drinker. Either way, it robbed the world of a fantastic music man, who managed to mix rock, soul and psychedelic stuff really really well. He keeps the likes of Steve Marriott, Janis Joplin, Marc Bolan and Phil Lynott out of the top four, and, to really put things in perspective, without Hendrix we probably wouldn’t have Prince. What kind of rubbish world would that be?
2. Minnie Riperton, 31
One of the great female soul singers, Riperton died of the damn cancer when she was 31. But what a 31 years. She’ll always be remembered for Lovin’ You, a slightly drippy love song, but we’ll forever love her for the rock/soul numbers she did with Rotary Connection, Les Fleurs, and the rather graphic sex song, Inside My Love. With so many excellent soul singers to choose from, she has achieved the remarkable feat of keeping Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke out of the top four. That’s a very big score for the sisterhood.
3. Keith Moon, 32
There were a few decent dead drummers to choose from, but Keith Moon just beat Dennis Wilson and John Bonham to grab a place in the top four. He edged it for being more of a total maniac. Famous for driving cars into pools, flushing explosives down toilets, and for being a completely brilliant drummer in The Who, he died after taking too many anti-alcohol pills in 1978. He’d just been out for dinner with Paul and Linda McCartney, which presumably had nothing to do with the overdose.
4. Big L, 24
The rap game has seen lots of premature deaths – Easy E, Big Pun, Tupac, Scott La Rock, Jay Dee, Biggie Smalls, Jam Master Jay, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. But the one that really makes us slam our fists and weep up to the heavens screaming “why?” is Big L‘s. We honestly think he could have been the greatest rapper of all time, but instead he took seven bullets to the head and chest one evening in 1999. The murder remains unsolved, which makes it double annoying.
Women who can sing the FUNK…
There is a world of difference between being a good soul singer and a good funk singer. Mariah Carey, for example, is a good sweet soul singer, but if she were to suddenly start grunting into the mic and demanding snare kicks from the drummer, her people would rush the stage within seconds to drag her off to the mad house. Presumed breakdown. She hasn’t got the funk. Sadly, neither have many of today’s fine young singers, with the possible exceptions of Beth Ditto, Mary J, Beyonce and that’s about it. Even the greatest soul singer of them all, Aretha Franklin, doesn’t quite have the funk chops to be a BOLD SOUL SISTER. Our top four female funk sensations read like this…
1. Betty Davis
One part of possibly the greatest model/musical genius combo of them all, Betty was the great Mile Davis’ second wife. Back then, in the 1960s, she was just a sexy young model who was friends with Hendrix and Sly Stone, then in the 1970s she emerged as a funk/rock force of nature, with a trio of albums brimming with sexual aggression. An amazing woman, and our top female funk singer.
2. Tina Turner
Before she became Tina Turner with the feathery Rod Stewart hair, and the enormously popular soft rock ballads, Tina Turner was a funk goddess – touring the world with angry, punchy Ike and the magnificent Ikettes. What really marks her out are her excellent dance moves, and a growling voice that sounds like Cathy Beale after a big night on the cigs.
3. Marva Whitney
Featured before as one of our favourite Underrated Soul Stars, Whitney’s piercing, raw voice was the perfect match for James Brown’s band, The JB’s. Alongside other female funk greats like Lyn Collins and Vicki Anderson – both of whom just missed out on a place in the top four – she became a part of the gigantic James Brown family in the 1960s, although she only managed one solo studio album – It’s My Thing, from 1969. Great record.
4. Mary Jane Hooper
Not much is known of this funky Mary Jane Hooper woman. What we do know is that her real name was Sena Fletcher, she had gritty vocal talent that really floated the magnificent Eddie Bo‘s onions, and she churned out about three bona fide funk classics in the 1960s. We also know that she’s our fourth favourite female funk singer.