While taking its usual romp through the decades, this latest iteration of the Eclectic Playlist Series focuses its 2010s attention largely on the current year, as a way of highlighting songs from three of my favorite albums of 2014. Other than that, we get the usual strange brew of things that somehow go together for largely unknowable reasons. Along the way we find a Radiohead B-side far stronger than most bands’ A-sides, a lost new wave ballad from the downtown NYC scene (from an album, The Shirts’ debut, never put on CD as far as I can see), and a song that, internet at my disposal or not, I could discover no confirmation of year of release—this the completely obscure but oddly satisfying “So Long Sam,” from Barbara Ruskin, a British singer/songwriter of the “swinging London” era.
Because she is still alive and potentially reachable online, once I have this playlist posted, I’ll see if I can ask her directly about this song, and maybe I can nail down the year that way. Which would actually be kind of fun. But, thanks to good old-fashioned email, I was able to get the information directly from Ruskin herself, who informs us that “So Long Sam” was written and recorded as a demo in 1967. It never ended up being released until President Records put out a Barbara Ruskin retrospective album in 2004 entitled A Little of This, which is quite a bit of fun.
As for why 1997 alone represents the 1990s this time, I have no explanation. Oh, and the Robert Plant song? Unexpectedly awesome.
“Surrender” – J. Geils Band (Monkey Island, 1977)
“Pearly” – Radiohead (Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP 1997)
“Kristine” – Sky Ferreira (Night Time, My Time, 2013)
“Heart of Stone” – SVT (No Regrets, 1981)
“Sonic Parts” – Khoiba (Nice Traps, 2005)
“Running Through the Night” – The Shirts (The Shirts, 1978)
“No One’s Gonna Love You” – Cee-Lo Green (The Lady Killer, 2010)
“So Long Sam” – Barbara Ruskin (demo, 1967; A Little of This, 2004)
“Long Gone (Buddy)” – ‘Til Tuesday (Everything’s Different Now, 1988)
“Loop De Li” – Brian Ferry (Avonmore, 2014)
“Les Petits Ballons” – France Gall (single, 1972)
“Why Can’t You Fix My Car” – Leo Kottke (My Father’s Face, 1988)
“The Agency Group” – Alvvays (Alvvays, 2014)
“Hide in Your Shell” – Supertramp (Crime of the Century, 1974)
“Everybody Knows (except you)” – The Divine Comedy (A Short Album About Love, 1997)
“House of Love” – Robert Plant (lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, 2014)
“Louis Quatorze” – Bow Wow Wow (single, 1982)
“Just One Last Look” – The Temptations (With a Lot O’ Soul, 1967)
“Annan Waters” – Kate Rusby (Hourglass, 1997)
“Parables” – Rebekah Higgs (Rebekah Higgs, 2006)