I prefer no music in pubs but just for a bit of fun I'm going to have a virtual pub jukebox to which I'll add a track from time-to-time. Listening to the audiobile in some of the boozers on the Isle of Wight whilst on holiday in 2014 convinced me that music in pubs is generally a bad thing because, more often than not, the selections can be infuriating. The Isle of Wight seemed to have a 70s and 80s fixation. I never thought I'd hear Sweet Sensation's "Sad Sweet Dreamer" ever again but, to my horror, it cropped up twice on the island in different pubs. I wanted to find the cables to the loudspeakers so I could snip them in half. The trouble with mainstream popular music is that there is just a hideous amount of pap, proving that 'People Like What They Know' rather than 'Know What They Like.' So, as publican and the person who inserts the records into this jukebox, I get to put on the tracks I like. All selections are from my personal music collection that has taken a lifetime to compile. I have wildly eclectic taste in music so there is a bit of everything - just as it should be in the pub where patrons can all select a favourite. From indie to country, and soul to bluegrass, I love every one of these tracks. Hopefully, at some point you'll be entertained, intrigued, amused or bemused. Do NOT e-mail me suggesting I add a track by some boy band or a winner of 'they ain't got talent' - it simply isn't going to happen.
Footnote : that aforementioned "Sad Sweet Dreamer" was arguably the forerunner of the trend for talent shows - you just have to delete Simon Cowell and Pop Idol and insert Tony Hatch and New Faces. However, the group did spawn the classic "Reach for Love" when youngest member, the late Marcel King, hooked up with Factory Records and produced a Hacienda club hit in the mid-80s.
With some sort of reference to how the records fit into the pub's weekly schedule, I will try to write a few words on some of the jukebox selections over time. I will kick-off with a classic from 1958.
Link Wray : "Rumble"
The jukebox has just been delivered to the pub so it's that exciting moment of trying out the equipment. The first record I'm putting in the jukebox, with an accompanying video [below], is for those who, in this digital age, perhaps do not know what a record player looks like... try this killer 1958 record by Link Wray with details of equipment used. It's still a fantastic 45rpm packed with an undercurrent of malevolence. The track perhaps conjures up an image of 1950s bikers with blue jeans and leather jackets - or maybe down the drag for a hot-rod burnout. But, if you intend to listen with four wheels, please note that this should only to be played in a car if you actually happen to own something like a '57 Chevy!
Hector Rivera : "At The Party"
It's Saturday night and there's a party in the pub so this choice is a no-brainer. A mid-60s scorching mix of latin, soul and jazz. The banality of the lyrics is more than outweighed by the outrageously infectious rhythm that will have everyone on their feet dancing, arms flailing whilst singing ""At The Party!" If this record fails to move you then you're already on your way to the pearly gates. A hot, sweaty slice of boogaloo, "At The Party" is frenetic in all departments with several trumpet players interlinking with frenzied drumming. This single is the most famous recording of New York-born Hector Rivera and topped the American R&B charts in 1967. It is the title track of a 1966 album by the keyboardist, arranger and composer. He started out in the previous decade with the band of Elmo Garcia. Although he released his own records as a bandleader, his bread-and-butter was playing with the likes of Joe Cuba and Pacheco, plus vocalist Vincento Valdez.
First Aid Kit : "Emmylou"
2012 got off to a great start with the release of "The Lion's Roar," the second album by First Aid Kit, an outfit featuring the close harmony delights of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. They originate from Enskede, a southern suburb of Stockholm, but you'd never be able to detect this from their output - they sound like some kooky chicks from somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the deepest Midwest of America. Following the release of their debut, they were quickly compared to the Fleet Foxes so it was a canny move to cover "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" and plonk it on You Tube. It went viral and has notched up over 3 million views. They have since played alongside the Fleet Foxes, recorded for Jack White and collaborated with Bright Eyes. Consequently, they have become genuine cool cats on the alt.folk circuit - and beyond. Their voices are flawless - indeed, ethereal to the point of pure perfection. Blimey, Sweden's gone and done it again - they win my Eurovision Song Contest year after year.