Aye tunes

October 12, 2014

Ten songs for Scottish independence (and one poem)

They may have lost the referendum, but they won the battle of the songs. Here are ten of the best new songs inspired by the Yes Campaign. I use my words carefully here. What unites these songs is a sense of hope, that people are on the rise, and that a different Scotland is possible (along with a healthy injection of contempt for Westminster politics). Most of them could not have been written before the Yes Campaign began to take off. There’s not the sense of nostalgia, of looking back, that we find in Dougie Maclean’s Caledonia – “telling old stories, singing songs, that make me think about where I come from”, nor do they fall back on national stereotypes to support their argument.

We begin with a poem :

Colin McQuillen – Alright Westminster  

And here’s my ten songs. If you know of any better ones written in 2014, please post the links.

Andy Clark & the Independence Singers – We’re aw Votin’ Aye!

Ballboy – JK Rowling changed my vote from No to Yes!

Callum Baird – Better Off Alone  

Calum Carlyle – Our Scotland  

Citizen Smart – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright 

Eddi Reader – We Are Everything  

Glesga Poet & The Mad Squad – Independent

Macanta – Be A Nation  

San Fran and the Siscos – Yes  

Stanley Odd – Son I Voted Yes  


Rambling across the Mersey

April 14, 2014

14 April 2014 I’ve been listening to a lot of global music in recent months while researching for my book, but in the meantime let me bring you up to date with some of the best new local sounds.

Ian Prowse – The Murder of Charles Wootton

Charles Wootton’s death led to race riots in Liverpool in 1919. Ian Prowse links this to  Anthony Walker’s murder in 2005. This remarkable song is from the new album Who Loves Ya Baby.

Hughie Jones – Blow the Man Down

Former Spinner Hughie Jones still runs  a folk club in Liverpool. His love of Liverpool’s maritime history comes over in his latest album of songs about the sea, Maritime Miscellany.

The White Widows – Talkin’ to Yourself 

Brilliant debut single. They just launched their album on Friday so I’m looking forward to hearing that.

The Vibes – Rambling Man

One of my sounds of 2013 : they’ve been back in the studio and there’s a new EP in the works which they tell me will be “just as raw if not more so than the last EP”. Sounds good to me. Here’s a taster of it.

Electric Lips – Not Coming Back

Meanwhile The Vibes mates, rockers Electric Lips, have released their debut EP Snake Eyes, and have just expanded to a 4 piece. CDs are available at gigs, so you know what to do.

Evian Christ – Waterfall

Josh Leary, a young producer from Ellesmere Port, has a teacher training qualification and a credit on the latest Kanye West album. His new EP Waterfall was reviewed in Pitchfork (they gave it 7.3), and was the subject of a long feature piece in the Guardian.  Expect noise, technical wizardry and crashing bass.

Ninetails – Sinn Djinn 

From the EP Quiet Confidence. Electronic soundscapes aren’t really my thing, but this is a bit unusual, and worth a listen.

Stephen Langstaff – Home

Last month he was in America where he played three shows at SXSW, and toured in Texas and Nashville, and wrote this song.

Mark Pountney – Treat me Baby Like You Should

If you had to guess which of these artists also fronts a Beatles tribute band, you’d probably have got it right. While the new album Mark One is steeped in the 60s, it’s very much his own material, and let’s hope he stays away from the covers from now on, because this is great feelgood music.

Tear Talk – Parallel

According to their own record company, Tear Talk “is one of the most awkward, introverted and melancholic bands (their words) out there today”.  That endears them to me a lot ! On their 3 track EP Breathe they sound like New Order meets The Cure.

Matt Swift – Everton Songs

In the week in which Everton moved into a Champions League place, surely you can allow me a little indulgence.



1,000,000 !

March 24, 2014

Today this website reached 1 million hits !! It only just struck me, I should be doing some crazy giveaway to mark the occasion. As I’ve not planned anything here’s a promise : anyone who messages me this evening with their email address and the type of music they would like will be sent some mp3s.



For every country, a song

August 17, 2013

You’re invited to follow my new blog diary, in which I’ll be documenting my journey to collect traditional music from every country in the world.

While doing this I’m researching the stories behind the artists who wrote and performed the songs, with the aim of eventually putting them together into a book. It will tie in with a website providing a listen only stream of all the tracks listed.

I’m not just interested in contacting artists. If you or someone you know has a serious interest in the traditional music of particular countries or regions of countries, please get in touch.

music to die for

October 19, 2011

Music knows no boundaries, and neither does this site.

You’re invited to join me in exploring different kinds of music from across the globe : explosive rock alongside Celtic folk; hip hop and African rhythms; reggae and drum n bass.

All the lists here are my personal selections (though I’d be quite happy to host your own lists, following the same general format – contact me if you’d be interested in this). Obviously the lists aren’t reflective of popular opinion. They’re more respectful of critical opinion, without being a slave to this. Unless a song really blows me away, it’s unlikely to get included; though I’ve seen to it that each list is properly researched and genuinely representative of the subject genre. Each time that I research a list, I discover a whole host of great songs that I’d never heard before, so that I’m constantly expanding my musical knowledge !

Site guide

The core of the site is the lists, which you can see listed on the right hand side. The latest major list is my 66 greatest raw & raucous garage rock tunes of all time. In a few weeks time though I’ll be publishing my top 100 songs of 2011, which will be an amazing collection of music from around the world. This time for the first time I’m sharing with you before making my final list the songs which are vying for inclusion (artists A-K and L-Z). So you’ll get more time to listen to the songs, plus a chance to help me decide what should be in and what should be out of the final published list.

Lists from 2010 include my ‘100 greatest songs and ballads of the last 100 years’, an exciting and ambitious list featuring some outstanding songwriting; 40 heavy duty funk classics; and my selections of top tracks from 2010. The most popular page though remains by some distance my 50 greatest traditional blues songs.

Just as lovingly compiled, if less authoritative, are my playlists, which cover new African music and the golden age of jazz.

The podcasts page contains downloadable podcasts of recent music from Merseyside; protest music from recent years; bass heavy club music; Latin American music; and traditional blues music. The latest addition here is a podcast of rowdy folk punk music released in 2011.

For the very latest music, check out the posts on the home page. Slightly older posts are archived in the mp3 corner and Band of the month archive pages.

To keep the site reasonably uncluttered, some lists have now been moved to a separate site – just click on music to die for archive to find them.

Finally, it’s great to get reactions : please leave a comment at the bottom of the page when you’ve had a good look at one of the lists (and let me know of any links that no longer work).