“…You play that weird record you’ve been leaving to the side all night and hey, it’s not that bad, really. You play it again and you’re grinning like a fool. Isn’t this just the best tune ever? Your fingers tingle, you race to the computer keyboard and jab out the classic line Single Of The Week. The sun’s coming up and the dawn chorus rips into gear. Bliss. And here’s how it sounded in ’95…”
When you’ve been up all night spinning records, nothing sounds as good as a fresh & new tune. Bursting from the speakers as the sun comes up. Get some munchies inside you and you can finally drift off to sleep. In the 1990s I experienced many moments like that, most of them in the company of friends, all washed down with a quality lager like Oranjeboom or Dutch Gold. The fourth compilation of NME Singles Of The Week taps into that vibe, a perfect summary of one third of the year’s finest 45s – the vast majority of them existing in CD single form as illustrated on the front cover. So it’s a brace of heavy hits to get out of the way first – Oasis and Pulp were both towering forces that year – rightfully represented by Some Might Say and Common People. Next are The Wannadies with their endearing & spiky Might Be Stars which makes way for Ash’s storming two minute hero Kung Fu. And then The Charlatans’ Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over, a perfect summer 45 – ideally spun as the sun still retains some heat, your windows open as the weekend begins.
We then go down a less well-travelled path. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s Miss Trudy shows how they paved the way for Super Furry Animals who released two wonderful EPs in 1995. A pearl of soft psychedelia, like “The Beatles mixed with Frontier Psychiatrist.” Biding their time, Anita Lane & Nick Cave’s The World’s A Girl is superbly moody and perfectly produced by Mick Harvey. The sequencing is perfect now as The Verve’s History fades in, deeply melancholy and speaking of an epic loneliness. Both A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul were popular 3.00am records in my flat, capturing the fragile comedown of those nights as conversations drifted off and gradually grew quieter as a kind of calm contentment came over us. Next in line are The High Llamas whose glorious Checkin’ In, Checkin’ Out reminds me of a 1970s Byrds meets Steely Dan vibe. If you close your eyes while playing it, you’ll see images from Harry O and The Rockford Files. Wrapping up this exquisite section are Tindersticks and the beautiful sadness of the fantastically arranged Travelling Light. Every song’s a winner on their sublime and blooming second album.
The tempo changes but the bleakness remains on Tricky’s searing Black Steel. A welcome single edit. Maxinquaye is a masterpiece, intense and powerful. This is a savage cover version. Meanwhile fresh from the soundtrack of The Basketball Diaries come Rockers Hi-Fi and What A Life. Jim & Bobby’s tune. Next are Cast and the seriously harmonic Fine Time while Ween give us their gentle ode to Philly soul and Philadelphia itself – Freedom Of ’76 – co-written by their friend, guitar player Ed Wilson. Curiously listed as Spirit Of ’76 here. Equally evocative of a long gone era are Plush with the spooky Found A Little Baby which likes like a latter day teenage symphony to God. It was the B-side to Three-Quarters Blind Eye, aptly languid. Following is a long-buried memory from MTV 120 Minutes, The Geraldine Fibbers’ emotional Dragon Lady. Epic chord change too. The storm before the calm; seeing us downstairs and out the front door is Coco & The Bean’s Western Ways. Call it trip hop for narcoleptics. Time to hit the 24 hour Spar in Ranelagh for supplies.
The Verve – History
Tindersticks – Travelling Light
Lest we forget
The Charlatans – Just When You’re Thinking Things Over