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Your Mother Wouldn't Like It, A Spotify Playlist By Stevie Chick
Stevie Chick , June 25th, 2010 07:28

Stevie Chick recounts a formative experience invlolving some of his Dad's Danny Krivit-style tape edits and Robert Plant's orgasmic howl. Listen to his Spotify list of tunes that his mum would probably like if it wasn't for 'that' bit...

Listen to the Your Mother Wouldn't Like It Spotify playlist here

Back when I was a kid, everything I knew about rock & roll I learned on the back seat of a Ford Escort. Childhood journeys in the family car often doubled as lessons in Pop History, with Dad behind the wheel, recounting his glory days in the audience of seemingly every legendary London gig of the swinging 60s – The Who at the Marquee, the Stones at Hyde Park, Jimi Hendrix at the Bag O'Nails – as the latest of his many home-made mix-tapes blared over the stereo, loud enough to make the wing-mirrors rattle to the beat and shiver to the bass.

Those tapes – and I still have a couple of them – were endearingly, unconsciously eclectic, segueing from Booker T & The MGs' 'Green Onions', to Cliff Richard's 'We Don't Talk Anymore', to Sydney Youngblood's 'If Only I Could', to Traffic's 'Paper Sun' with no discernible theme or thread or logic, beyond 'These are some tunes I love'. And if Dad loved one section of a song in particular – say, the toast Astro dropped midway through UB40's chart-topping 1983 cover of 'Red Red Wine' – he would, through judicious use of the Pause and Record buttons, create his own primitive extended mixes, looping the piano solo from The Communards' 'Don't Leave Me This Way' over and over like it was the 'Apache' break and he was DJ Kool Herc at some Bronx block-party.

It was on one of these trips in the car that I first discovered Led Zeppelin, the guttural, expectorating-carburettor riff from 'Whole Lotta Love' awakening within me the primal lust for tumescent guitar chug that slumbers within many a young lad. I was snapped rudely awake from my Zep-induced reverie shortly after the second chorus, however, by perhaps the clumsiest of all Dad's mix-tape edits, excising the song's infamous erotic/psychedelic freakout involving, I would later discover, all manner of mind-bending free-form vocal, guitar and theremin improvisation intended to evoke some idealised erotic/psychedelic experience.

Noticing my wince at the mix-tape's clunky cut to the next track, Dad grinned apologetically at the rear-view mirror and said, "I had to cut the rest of the song out, because it goes a bit weird, and your Mum doesn't like it." He then launched a tale of his debauched youth that climaxed with him sprawled out at a party between two speakers churning the "weird" bit at full volume, blitzed out of his mind on what he described as "space cakes", an experience he recalled with enough unwise fondness for Mum to scold him with an admonishing "Terry!"

The Psychedelic Era had left my Mum mostly un-moved. While her school-friends nurtured secret fantasies of waking up next to the glamorously bedraggled Mick Jagger, she dreamed of chaste romance with her beloved Cliff Richard. She thought The Beatles went badly awry with Revolver, her Beatlemania perishing somewhere within the opening drones of 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.

When she had control of the car stereo, we were treated to the dulcet conservative pop of The Carpenters or Barry Manilow, and to this day I can quote you pretty much every word of 'Mandy', 'I Write The Songs' and (my favourite, for its engrossing narrative) 'Copacabana'. I was caught in the middle of this crossfire of tastes, between Dad's passion for Rock's more crazed sonic excursions, and Mum's distaste for any needless diversions from the verse/chorus/verse format. I chose not to take sides, and as I grew older my own record collection betrayed a violent schizophrenia, divided evenly between sugary pop and cochlea-scouring noise-outs, songs that coloured neatly within the lines and songs that painted the page with random, beautiful splashes of colour.

My favourite songs, though, have always been those that grab equally from Column A and Column B, lacing their melodious confections with wormholes dragging unsuspecting listeners into the Far Out, peppering choice tunes with off-kilter passages and bursts of unlikely instrumentation and startling spoken word sequences. I just love the Trojan Horse moxie of sneaking something subversive into the mainstream supply, the pretzels-in-chocolate mind-fuck of wildly jarring flavours combining to tickle previously-unknown pleasure centres, and the unwise ambitions of rockers who won't play fair with the blueprint, creating brilliant new hooks from their leaps of creative weirdness.

John Doran and I have assembled a Spotify playlist of just such tracks, songs whose genius would, in fact, be fatally compromised if my Dad had lopped out the 'weird' bit to save from offending Mum with his mix-tape. It is best enjoyed while strapped safely in the back seat of a mid-sized family car, but I'm sure its charms will be equally-served by your computer speakers…

1. The Supremes 'Reflections'

The girls' 1967 excursion into psychedelia finds their rueful romantic retrospective haunted by an ear-warping oscillator, lending it a delectably eerie, paranoid edge.

2. Betty Harris 'Break In The Road'

Whether by accident or design, the blasts of guitar-amp feedback that punctuate this burning slab of New Orleans soul suggest Neil Young jamming with the Meters: a delicious concept.

3. The Osmonds 'Crazy Horses'

Though remembered more now for anodyne balladry, Mormon weirdness and the unsettling frisson between Donnie and Marie, The Osmonds' best-selling single was this haywire freak-rock rave, thanks to its squalling, screaming Moog hook.

4. Carpenters 'Goodbye To Love'

Tony Peluso's fiery fuzz-toned guitar solo at the close of this lachrymose Carpenters ballad alienated MOR radio stations, many of which blacklisted it in disgust. The Carpenters' real mistake was not letting the solo run several more minutes and coining Soft-Pop's own 'Freebird'.

5. ELO 'Mr Blue Sky'

Jeff Lynne's optimistic symphonic sorbet is, of course, prime Mum-pleasing fodder, but Kudos for the heavy prog coda, complete with ominous, UFO-beckoning vocoder outro.

6. My Bloody Valentine 'You Made Me Realise'

Wherein Kevin Shields halts the full-pelt slam-pop of his greatest single for a minute or so of white noise abstraction… just because he can. Recent MBV reunion shows extended the noise-out to almost twenty minutes, and necessitated ear-plugs for the audience…

7. Sonic Youth 'Silver Rocket'

…but, like so much in Alt_Rock, Sonic Youth did it first, pausing the detuned gallop of this Daydream Nation nugget for 100 seconds of amp-burning cacophony (representing, perhaps, intergalactic liftoff), before dashing back to the riff with nary a sweat broken…

8. Nirvana 'Drain You'

…and wherever Sonic Youth went, Nirvana were sure to follow, Kurt Cobain spiking the melodic crunch of this Nevermind gem with a mid-song minute of string strangling, to evoke the turbulent peace of the womb, and a foetus's violent ejection from same.

9. Radiohead 'Creep'

I've a feeling Mum would like the self-pitying lilt of the verse, and maybe soaring chorus on the radio edit. She'd hate, however, the satisfyingly-distorted guitar clank that accompanies 'You're so fucking special', and to be honest, that's the only bit I like.

10. Isaac Hayes 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix'

Hayes' tender take on Jimmy Webb's tale of romantic betrayal is rendered sublime by his unhurried nine-minute spoken word intro where, over a spectral one-note groove, he spells out the brutal cuckolding of his hero in enough detail to break the stoniest heart.

11. Donna Summer 'Love To Love You'

The orgiastic ecstasies hinted upon by Summer's seventeen minutes of aural loveplay make this track a work of inarguable genius, and would embarrass Mum into switching off after only seconds.

12. The Beach Boys 'Heroes And Villians'

Wherein a mentally-unbalanced Brain Wilson leads this innocent Doo-Wop through endless, evermore outré digressions; a baroque-pop folly that's much more than the sum of its parts.

12. The Beatles 'A Day In The Life'

Would Paul's slice of stoner whimsy be quite so compelling if it didn't unexpectedly materialise half-way through John's piano-drenched downer? And vice versa?

13. The Fall 'Living Too Late'

For the way Mark E. Smith's voice hurtles inexplicably skywards on the weird freakouts peppered throughout this track…

14. Queen 'Flash'

One of only two tracks from their score for the brilliantly OTT 1980 Sci-Fi flick to boast lyrics, 'Flash' still demotes Queen's legendary operatic harmonies to mere Greek Chorus status, with snippets of movie dialogue (including Brian Blessed's deathless bellow of "Gordon's ALIVE???") taking centre stage.

15. Chakka Khan 'I Feel For You'

The stuttering sample of Melle Mel uttering Queen Chaka's name was caused by an in-studio glitch, preserved on vinyl by canny producer Arif Mardin as the once-heard-never-forgotten intro to this neon-Soul Prince cover.

16. Neneh Cherry 'Buffalo Stance'

Included for the mid-song breakdown, where Cherry switches between Cockney urchin squeak ("What is 'e loike??") and Yank street drawl ("That man's just a gigolo, maaan"), and convinces with neither. Compulsively irritating, like an itch you can't help but scratch.

17. Blondie 'Rapture'

If you've every attempted Blondie songs down the Karaoke, you'll hold deserved respect for Debbie Harry's pipes, which manage trying melodies with a grace well beyond your typical drunken rock-critic. But as a rapper, she sucks sucks SUCKS.

18. Pet Shop Boys 'West End Girls'

Neil Tennant's dry, droll 'rapping' = a definite Marmite element, which you'll either love or loathe. Either way, you have to admit he makes Debbie Harry sound like Rakim.

19. Hot Chocolate 'Brother Louie'

Dulcet and worthy tale of inter-racial romance, featuring jarring spoken-word breaks where Errol Brown – as the lovers' respective fathers – disdainfully mutters "I don't want no honky in my family, y'dig?" and "I don't want no spook in my family, get it?" over a sweltering Curtis Mayfield vamp.

20. Stevie Wonder, 'I Just Called To Say I Love You'

This infamously-saccharine ballad proves the exception to the rule, as my Mum still thrills to its bizarre, Vocoder-voiced coda (beginning at 4:18 on the album version), which sounds for all the world like your computer declaring heartfelt love to the washing machine.

READ MORE STEVIE CHICK: Spray Paint The Walls: The Black Flag Story and Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story available from Omnibus now and Ninja Tune: 20 Years Of Beats & Pieces coming Autumn 2010 from Black Dog