[20] Karl Blau, ‘Fallin’ Rain’


Before we start, a word on Brexit and Trump.

Not really. More pertinent questions: what’s a single? What is this? Who are we?

A single is a single, and we’re going to make the best of it. It’s also an ‘impact’ track these days, and pretty much any song that’s even marginally promoted outside the confines of its album. Look, these are confusing times.

This is a blog that’s been running since November 2005. Admittedly, it’s running rather sporadically now, but if I’m going to go through my favourite songs of the year, it’s still the best place.

We are me and my three daughters. Junior (J1) who’s 11 and has been doing this since she was flapping her babygro arms to Kanye West all those years ago; Junior 2 (J2) who’s eight and massively into Top Of The Pops 1982, smuggling Dexys and Haircut 100 CDs up to her room; and Junior 3 (J3) who’s six and opinionated.

Finally, Karl Blau is a honey-toned C&W geezer from the Pacific Northwest who, after years on the circuit, released the wry Introducing Karl Blau this year, a collection of covers that’s the best of 2016, pipping good old Dexys’ mind-bogglingly loose selection of ‘Irish and Country Soul’. They both did the Bee Gees’ ‘To Love Somebody’ but Blau wins there too by the length of a Hammond organ. This wildly extended version of Link Wray’s ‘Fallin’ Rain’ uses gently tinkling piano to evoke the raindrops and Blau’s own gentle commitment to convey the woes of the world. He’s a Nashville Isaac Hayes.

Over to our panel: J2 is measuring angles on her mum’s macbook, J1 is watching her. J3 is bouncing a cuddly tiger on my head.

J1: “It’s all right.”
J3: “It’s bad.” She pops on her headphones and goes to play the little Yamaha keyboard on the rug.

[4] Haircut 100, ‘Love Plus One’

When people talk about “perfect pop” they usually mean clever-clever, arch stuff that doesn’t appeal to The Kids. Like most of my favourite records. ‘Love Plus One’ was a huge hit, not too clever but with a stylish conceit, and is pristine perfect pop in practically every way.

They were clearly a bunch of talented lads, possibly backed up by a little too much jazz education, and for a year had the punters eating out of their hands. Four singles, four Top Ten hits – this, ‘Favourite Shirts’, ‘Fantastic Day’ and ‘Nobody’s Fool’ (No.21 on this chart, made-up-fact fans) – and *puff* they were gone. Well, not so much “puff” as, “Here, Mr Heyward, have this large sum of money to embark on a pleasant but hardly George Michael-troubling solo career”. Pity.

I won a Haircut 100 poster at Great Yarmouth Fair – I think I managed to shoot a teddy bear or something – but only three of the band were on it. Portentous, I’m sure. Just a minute ago I did a Google search for their names and found that the band have reformed, or are at least thinking of it, Heyward reckoning the old “magic” would still be there…

Junior will watch with interest, anyway. She was swept off her grubby feet by this one, throwing shapes, even singing along with the “ai, ai, ai, ai”s. Maybe her favourite since ZZ Top. What an odd demographic she inhabits.