So it’s been two years now since David Bowie died. Is this even possible? January brings the man inevitably to mind, this time via an incredible cover of a song that was never previously a particular favorite of mine. But boy does Jesca Hoop give herself over to “John I’m Only Dancing,” doing what any great cover should do: opening the ears to a song’s true power. It is no accident that I selected a female vocalist covering a Bowie song, and no accident that this month’s playlist is dominated by female performances. Keep it up out there.
Meanwhile, the Eclectic Playlist Series this month enters its fifth iteration. In January, I reset the accounts, and all artists become available again. (For newcomers: no artist appears more than once a year here.) Even so, I’m happy to report that 15 out of 20 artists on this month’s list have never been on one of my playlists before, including, inexplicably, John Vanderslice, who has otherwise a strong history as a Fingertips favorite, and Lou Reed, who has an inimitable presence in rock’n’roll history.
* Rita Wright is more authentically identified as Syreeta Wright, but this was her first single, and that’s the name she was given for it by Motown chairman Berry Gordy. She was an early collaborator with Stevie Wonder, co-writing many songs, and singing on his albums. They were married in 1970; it only lasted a few years, but they continued to work together into the ’90s. She recorded eight solo albums in the ’70s and ’80s. Wright died at age 58, in 2004, from complications stemming from a long battle with cancer.
* Thanks to the always enjoyable radio show/podcast “The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn” for the classic Serge Gainsbourg song, which some part of me knew from a buried and mysterious point in the past but I’d never have recovered otherwise.
* I don’t think Britta Phillips got enough attention for her wonderful Luck or Magic album from 2016, the first solo release of her acclaimed career (Luna, Dean & Britta). Pitchfork among other places took her to task for the album’s having five cover songs out of 10 tracks, which strikes me as a stupid critique of someone with such a strong interpretive flair. (And never mind the fact that so many of today’s revered pop performers don’t write their songs in the first place.) The album casts a spell; I recommend it.
Full playlist below the widget.
“Trick of the Light” – Matthew Sweet (Tomorrow Forever, 2017)
“Who Do You Love” – Pointer Sisters (Priority, 1979)
“Whirlwind” – Sam Rivers (Inspiration, 1999)
“Keep It Tight” – Single Bullet Theory (Sharp Cuts: New Music From American Bands, 1980)
“Arrow” – Beaches (Second of Spring, 2017)
“La Chanson De Prévert” – Serge Gainsbourg (L’Étonnant Serge Gainsbourg, 1961)
“Crazy Feeling” – Lou Reed (Coney Island Baby, 1976)
“John I’m Only Dancing” – Jesca Hoop (A Salute to the Thin White Duke, 2015)
“Stranger Than You” – Joe Jackson (Night and Day II, 2000)
“We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves in the Morning” – Nursery Rhymes (single, 1967)
“Same Old Scene” – Roxy Music (Flesh + Blood, 1980)
“Diving Woman” – Japanese Breakfast (Soft Sounds From Another Planet, 2017)
“White Plains” – John Vanderslice (Cellar Door, 2004)
“I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You” – Rita Wright (single, 1968)
“Never Go Back” – Christine Lavin (Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind, 1987)
“Nothing Has Been Proved” – Dusty Springfield (Reputation, 1990)
“Fallin’ in Love” – Britta Phillips (Luck or Magic, 2016)
“Forget About You” – The Motors (Approved By The Motors, 1978)
“The Storm” – The Hunters (single, 1962)
“Attagirl” – Bettie Serveert (Attagirl, 2004)