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I always thought I Can’t Explain was the first single by The Who, and it is. But before that, in July 1964, they released this song under the band name The High Numbers.

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This all too brief but beautiful fingerpicked blues was written by Elizabeth Cotten when she was 12 years old. Here she is singing and playing it 80 years later, shortly before her death.

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Gene Clark – No Other

29th January 2024 · 1970s, 1974, Music

This really is a proper deep cut from Gene Clark’s long-forgotten fourth album No Other from back in 1974. Long forgotten for many years, but now regarded as something of an underground classic.

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There are two equally spellbinding versions of this haunting lament to lost love and innocence, by two different singers, and ever since I first heard them I’ve been unable to decide which is the best. The problem is that they’re not all that different, and of course there’s no need to pick one over the other.

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RIP Melanie Safka (1947-2024)

I remember Melanie – just “Melanie” – as a hippie chick with long hair, black eyeliner and a warbling vibrato. I first heard her singing a song called Ruby Tuesday. I was a child and she sounded like one too.

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Phosphorescent – Revelator

26th January 2024 · 2020s, 2024, Music

One of my favourite Americana artists is Matthew Houck, a native of Athens, Georgia, who makes music under the nom-de-plume Phosphorescent.

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This was the first tune I heard by Archie Bell & The Drells when it was a hit single in 1973. It’s very different from the sprightly funk jam of Tighten Up which put them on the soul and funk map five years earlier. For that matter it’s different to the Northern Soul stomper Here I Go Again that gave them their first UK hit at the end of 1972.

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This collab between two London rappers of West African origin is a hymn to their families’ mother continent… and the women they find there. But it’s the music as much as the sultry vocals that really catches my ear, with its shuffling rhythms, lazy swing and joyful, jazzy undertones.

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This was the first song I ever heard by Tori Amos. It’s also the last, when it played over the closing titles of an episode of Beef last night. A wacky song by a kooky redhead, it was a good fit for what is a wacky TV show about a man and a woman with extreme anger management issues.

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Not many people liked Happy Mondays’ fifth album Uncle Dysfunctional when it came out in 2007. I’m not sure I even heard it at the time; I may not even have known (or cared) that they had reunited two years earlier.

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