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The A+ List 3-7-14

in the groove

in the groove

1. Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder – His ode to Duke ellington is not jazz, it is pop, and it might have a groove but it isn’t taken from Ellington but this ebullient, bouncy, and very tuneful dance number needs none of that to echo a Black Excellence that deserves the term. “You can feel it all over” is as hooky as an advertising jingle and memorable as your own middle name.

2. Tuesday’s Dead – Cat Stevens – If classic Stevens has a problem that problem is obviousness, his catechisms can feel too Khalil Gibran, too self-evident. But the chorus of this song saves the verse, “Where do you go when you don’t want no one to know” is a teenage paradigm and the piano break more than coloration.

3. I Just Called To Stay I Love You – Stevie Wonder – This is better than jukebox music, better than AOR, better than a big time ballad: a superb, build to a multi voiced chorus just below Stevie and a lyric that, again, sounds like the advertising jingle of your greatest dreams.

4. Elijah Rock – Mahalia Jackson – If Mahalia taught us anything it is that faith is a joyful, powerful thing as this dance groove Gospel masterpiece proves.

5. You’ll Need Those Fingers For Crossing – Los Campesinos – Their greatest moment of all time isn’t on Spotify but it towers over everything else they’ve done, an addictive love song to a woman who denies God in this ode to bulimia. One of the greatest moments of my life was hearing them perform it at the end of their Bowery Ballroom gig in 2008. The letter to God is brilliant. “You needn’t worry about us, we can look after ourselves, we’ve learnt not to rely on you or anyone else”. Titus Andronicus closed their set with a singalong to “Your life is over”. It all means something, right?

6. Wouldn’t It be Nice – the Beach Boys – Always a spritely yet adult opening to Pet Sounds… maybe I mean almost adult, it has the buzziness of college and meta sexuality; of the next step forward into adulthood and with its “sleep tight” coda it is a lullaby of a future together. If you get the chance, watch the movie “Shampoo” where it is used to devastating effect

7. The Last Time – The Rolling Stones – The live from Ireland in 1965 version where the screaming girls become some weird for percussion or sound effect or something.

8. Walking Back to Happiness – Helen Shapiro – At first sight, Helen was an everygirl but on closer examination the re-Feminism walking mat was actually a beauty.

9. Our Whole Lives – The Hold steady – A lost masterpiece off their last album with a CCM kicker, “I’ve sinned and I’m gonna do it again”.

10. Ain’t Too Proud To beg – True love as ritual humiliation, it is where black excellence meets black woman and gets beaten to a pulp.

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