S lately I'm been listening to a lot of music on YouTube. It's really become a great resource for checking out stuff. Since I'm an old fart, most of my 'discoveries' are actually twenty-plus years old, but they're new to me. So every now and then, let me share some discoveries. Here are three:
'Young, Gifted and Black' by Bob and Marcia: This song's a bit of an obsession for me, lately. It's certainly not that I can relate to it: I'm precisely zero for three, after all. It's the exuberance of it. I'm really loving Jamaican music lately, and I've been excited to learn that rocksteady - which I had always brushed off as a mere transition between ska and reggae not worth consideration on its own - happens in fact to be an amazing genre itself. Affirming, in this present case, when drenched in one of the greatest things ever: happy strings. Too often, strings are used outside of chamber music merely to create a morose sense of sadness. It's amazing when they're used to cheer people up - like in so much disco. Here, the strings bear the optimism of empowered youth entirely successfully.
'Baby I Love You So' by Colourbox: I came to this song bit by bit - first, Augustus Pablo's "King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown", which I've heard a million times down the years. It was through the kind people at YouTube that I discovered that dub's 'original version' - "Baby I Love You So" by Jacob Miller, an amazing song and an amazing track in its won right. From there it went to here: all I knew about Colourbox was that they were half of M/A/R/R/S, who made "Pump Up the Volume". Turns out their own work is pretty great, too - and here's a perfect example, a symphony of 80s studio-overdubbing, my perhaps all-time favourite soundscape, pulsating behind a breathy female vocalist like Massive Attack would do a few years later. If there is a heaven, this is what music sounds like there.
'Tarantula' by This Mortal Coil: Heaven can't sound like this, though, or people might think twice before going there. Colourbox were a 4AD group, which led me to This Mortal Coil, less a 'group' than a project that periodically brought 4AD signees together for Golden Palominos-style projects. Collaborative, but obviously not 'jammy' - this is 4AD, after all. And being 4AD, it's hauntingly gorgeous and evocative, while being cold as ice and emotionally distant. It's a brittle statuette, liable to shatter into pieces at any minute. It's heart-stopping, but you'll never cuddle up with it to keep you warm. Turns out, oddly enough, to be a cover of Colourbox. How circular life is, eh?