Here's a weather-themed mix from Ann. Not delayed in the Christmas post - it's me that's delayed. A curious mixture of thing I knew, things I didn't know, things I thought I knew but didn't, things I thought I didn't know but did, things I thought were one thing that turned out to be something else,
Forever Autumn - from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds
A spoken intro, straight out of a 1950s scifi film (which I suppose it is really, give or take a couple of decades), and then something that surprised me with its familiarity. The familiarity of something not heard for a very long time but familiar all the same. But this is the Moody Blues, surely? At least, it's the chap who sang with the Moody Blues? I'm sure that's who I remembered it as being anyway. Smoky, dreamy and nostalgic.
The Thunder Rolls - Garth Brooks
That's Brooks, not Crooks, I guess. The thunder really does roll, which is a bit twee. Years ago when I used to spend time in upstate New York pootling along a stretch of US 20, I hatched a scheme to drive the full length of that road from Massachusetts to Oregon. I never did carry it out - I guess it's not too late - but this is the kind of music that I imagine playing on the stereo as I pass through the plains of South Dakota. Brooks has that Country Twang, as irritating to my ear as the nasal whine of the hardcore Englsih folkie, but I've been trying hard of late to come to terms with contemporary Country and while I wouldn't go outr of my way to listen to this, it's perfectly agreeable when it comes up.
November Rain - Guns 'n Roses
Is this really Guns 'n Roses? I don't really know what Guns 'n Roses are supposed to sound like because I've tended to avoid them on the basis that they would be loud, discordant and in your face. Which isn't a very sensible approach to music at all. As if proof were needed, I like this a lot. It feels a lot more like late-60s West Coast rock than 80s heavy metal and it packs in a surprising amount of subtlety. At nearly nine minutes it's hardly an exquisite little pearl though!
Ride Like the Wind - Scorpions
Isn't this the German outfit whose rather tasteless album sleeve caused some controversy recently after being pulled from Wikipedia by the moral police? Anyway, this sounds as though they're trying to be Guns 'n Roses and not quite getting there. Nothing to object to but it hasn't grabbed me yet.
A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Roxy Music
Bob Dylan's genius was writing songs that could be bent and manipulated in all sorts of ways and still survive to sound great. Bryan Ferry's was to bend and manipulate just about any song to make it sound fresh and original. Put the two together and you've got real class, which this undoubtedly is.
Here Comes the Rain Again - Eurythmics
What can I say? Love it to bits, as I love just about everything Annie Lennox does.
Water on Glass - Kim Wilde
Typically slick and bouncy eighties fare. The opening suggested something more exciting to come, but what arrives is pleasant without grabbing me.
Southern Freeze - Freeze
I thought I didn't know this one but I did. A disco track with a lovely warm soulful voice over a humdrum synthetic ground.
It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls
Something very familiar - the sound of countless office discos and the odd provincial gay club I've ventured into. Great fun, but should ideally be listened to in a slightly drunk crowd.
Traffic and Weather - Fountains of Wayne
I though it sounded like a great title for a song about crawling home down a snarled-up Western Avenue on a wet Friday night (I've done that a few times). In the end I wasn't sure if it was meant to be taken seriously. "We belong together like traffic and weather." Hmmm. Not my kind of thing I'm afraid.
Lightning - REO Speedwagon
More 1980s theatrical rock. It's a very American genre, this; I can't imagine a British band doing this kind of thing successfully. It would fit in well with that coast-to-coast drive and I imagine this helping me get through the industrial wastelands of northern Ohio and Indiana.
Ravel in the Rain - Black
This is something new to me, but I'd very much like to know more. Dark, dreamy and velvety with some quite delightfully lyrical flights on guitar and sax.
Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
It's cheesy, of course, but there's cheese and cheese, and Karen Carpenter's distinctive variety was always more than a lump of plastic-wrapped cheddar. Nothing too subtle, and not especially pungent either. I wouldn't seek this out but I wouldn't be dismayed if it came up in the mix.
Tender Falls the Rain - Randy Crawford
It's difficult to have too much Randy Crawford. Not one of her monuments, perhaps, but very welcome.
I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me - Nik Kershaw
A familiar slice of 80s synthpop. Nice; nothing special for me.
Windy Town - Chris Rea
Chris Rea always sounds to me like Leonard Cohen fronting Dire Straits. There's not much of the profound poetry of the former, nor the lyrical guitar of the latter, but the effect is always agreeable.
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
A real (Christmas) cracker to finish with. So familiar it doesn't need a comment from me, save to say that the juxtaposition of the rough-and-ready voice of Shane Macgowan with the trained voice of Kirsty McColl was an act of genius. The band are fabulous as ever and this is my favourite of all the ubiquitous Christmas songs.
An interesting and on the whole very enjoyable mix. Thank you Ann!