Ain't Nothing Fresher

There’s an Indian Summer blazing away in Britain. It’s even managed to show it’s face in Manchester, a city famed for year round drizzle. Adding to that the fact that universities are now back in full swing, means Oxford Road has been a very vibrant and colourful place this week.

Seeing all the bright eyed Freshers, student loans in pocket, snakebites in hand, got me reminiscing about the “best years of my life”. Memories of those (not too) distant uni times always come coupled with sounds, music, particular songs that really punctuated the whole experience for me. I’m going to remind some, and introduce others to three songs that may have passed you by but certainly left their mark on me. Oh, and because we’re all lazy bastards these days, I’ll even post some links so you can listen whilst you read.

Fat Freddy’s Drop – Wandering Eye

This track is one of ten phenomenal tracks from the debut full length offering from New Zealand’s most soulful dubists, Fat Freddy’s Drop. I treated myself to a copy of Based on a True Story for my birthday in the winter of my final year and boy did it see my through those dreary final exam days.

The album’s a journey, waking you up with the piano stabs of “Ernie”, walking you down the stairs to breakfast with the gentle shuffle of “Cay’s Crays” as you still brush the sleep from your eyes. It takes you to more melancholy, reflective places as you reach midday and “Dark Days” before firing up the end of the day party with “Roady” and “Wandering Eye”. Finally you’re eased into the early morning post party lull by the softest of Joe Dukie vocals and watery, dream like soundscapes of “Del Fuego”.

Why, Wandering Eye? That song does for me in one track what the whole album combined also achieves, it takes you on a journey. It has the time to do it as well, being nearly ten minutes in length. But at no point do you feel it’s gone on too long. I’m sitting back with a satisfied sigh as I think about this track.

Tom Vek – Music Television

You won’t know this song, well if you do, you’re more in tune with the work of Tom Vernon-Kell (a.k.a. Tom Vek) than I first gave you credit for.

I first heard of Tom Vek when Ed told me he’d managed to blag us not only a couple of tickets to his gig in Nottingham, but a little chin wag pre show. I’ll be honest, I’d not heard any of his music before I wandered up the street leading to the door of the Rescue Rooms where he was going to be playing later that night. From behind the half closed door I could hear three chords blasting out with rhythmic simplicity, the line “I’d be lost without you” ringing almost shrilly over the top. I had a feeling I was going to like this guy.

We chatted for half an hour or so about the usual unintelligent stuff junior interviewers babble on about; What’s your favourite type of fish? How much was your bus fare to the venue? What fascinated me most about Vek as we spoke was how wide and varied his abilities were. Not only was he writing and playing pretty much everything on his recordings, he spoke excitedly about the design process for his album and single artwork that he was also a heavy contributor towards. I have a feeling he also had a hand in coming up with the video concepts too (the video for C-C (You Set The Fire In Me) is a cracking example).

But what was that track I heard? It’s called “Music Television”. Not on any of his albums, you could only get it as a B-side to the 7″ single of “Nothing But Green Lights”. I suggest you go out and get it, pitch it up 1.5% on the turntable, sit back and enjoy. Failing that, I managed to find this clip on YouTube of him performing it at the gig in Nottingham back in 2005. Happy Days.

Roy Davis Jr. – Gabrielle feat. Peven Everett (Live Garage Mix)

But this song is ooooold! Yeah I know it is, nearly 15 years old now. Regardless of when this was released, this was one of those songs that just kept cropping up at exactly the right time for me. I remember buzzing after Quellequs expertly slid it into a radio show one Tuesday night, then hearing it as a closing track at the end of an awesome night out a few weeks later (I think Brackles was the selector that time).

Peven Everett’s vocal is like a relaxing mug of warm milk pre bed time over the top of the garage/disco beat. The hum-a-long horn line (also performed by Everett I am informed) that comes in at the chorus bringing the track to the boil.

I catch this song on the radio maybe once a year and instantly lose interest in everything else that’s going on around me, I can’t help but give it my undivided attention. This track could be my “Love Shack”, and by that I mean a track that I should not be allowed to hear whilst in control of a car (my dad once drove straight into a farmer’s field after missing a 90 degree corner whilst singing along to the B52’s Love Shack).

Drop this one on the stereo as you return home from your Friday night session, it will set you up nicely for the weekend ahead. It certainly has for me.