Historically speaking the classic iPod era from 2001 until 2007 passed in the blink of an eye. And yet it still pioneered a new kind of listening experience that managed to change music forever and provide the soundtrack to our lives like never before. Of course, that golden age is long gone now, iPod production ceasing in September 2014 just as streaming services became the premium audio format, a rather soulless tool that will never match the pure, unadulterated joy to be found in loading up an iPod with your own personal arsenal of songs and albums, secret pleasures, canonical favourites and mysterious obscurities.
Thankfully in my case it doesn’t have to, not yet anyway, because my bruised and battered sixth generation classic is still going strong, the music within as important and precious as ever. In fact, it could even be said that if Green Inc online came out of anywhere, it came out of the iPod, my constant companion over the past fifteen years or so. Currently containing over 26,000 songs, with room to spare for a couple of thousand more, my only regret is that the pressures of everyday life dictate that I’m never going to have enough free time to listen to them all. Consequently, hiding within the invisible digital depths of my little black box is a whole load of stuff that rarely come to the surface, if ever.
In this Green Inc iPod Archive I will be documenting at least some of it on playlists dedicated to thirty songs by thirty artists from one letter of the alphabet, songs that are not just a mass of audio coding data but a road map detailing the countless scenes, movements and genius misfits of modern music culture. One things for sure, pop, rock, glam, soul, funk, disco, reggae, electro, hip hop, techno, acid, punk, industrial, indie, electronica and the kitchen sink, all musical life is going to be in here somewhere!
BABY DEE ‘The Earlie King’ (Safe Inside The Day LP January 2008)
- Baby Dee writes songs that are simultaneously worldly wise and innocent. Inspired by Goethe’s ruinous ‘Erlkönig’ about the final moments of a boy possessed by a malevolent spirit dying in his father’s arms, ‘The Earlie King’ benefits from a bawdy treatment teetering somewhere between Kurt Weill and ‘Pink Elephants on Parade’ from Disney’s Dumbo.
BAD BRAINS ‘Pay To Cum’ (Single A Side June 1980)
- An essential building block of American Hardcore, even today you’d be hard pushed to find anything faster.
BAM BAM ‘Give It To Me’ (Single B Side March 1988)
- Chris Westbrooks raw, unadulterated, Acid House.
BARRY ADAMSON ‘The Big Bamboozle’ (Oedipus Schmoedipus LP August 1996)
- Like the incidental music to a 1930’s gangster flick laced with some very British, very sixties style instrumentation, ‘The Big Bamboozle’ is the classic example of Barry Adamson’s innovative soundtracks for films that existed solely in his own imagination.
BAXTER DURY ‘Claire’ (Single A Side May 2011)
- Baxter Dury didn’t plan to follow in his old man’s footsteps but I’m glad he did, his lackadaisical ode to his ex typically ironic and brilliant.
BEASTIE BOYS ‘Shake Your Rump’ (Paul’s Boutique LP July 1989)
- Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA were a bunch of jokey, irreverent rich kids who were never meant for permanent canonisation yet somehow found themselves immortalised. Paul’s Boutique still stands as a landmark in the art of sampling, ‘Shake Your Rump’ just one of its many highlights.
THE BEAT ‘Save It For Later’ (Single A Side April 1982)
- The best song Dave Wakeling ever wrote.
BECK ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’ (Sea Change LP September 2002)
- For all his humour Beck Hansen is consistently thoughtful and earnest, never more so than on the world weary Sea Change and painfully lonesome ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’ in particular.
BEIRUT ‘A Sunday Smile’ (The Flying Club Cup LP October 2007)
- Zach Condon’s one man declaration of war on the 21st century malaise of sonic insipidity hit new heights on The Flying Club Cup. Foregoing the frantic Balkan folk shanties that made his name, instead he ventured out onto the streets of Paris to bring us his romantic notion of France.
BEN E. KING ‘Supernatural Thing Part One’ (Single A Side January 1975)
- Having mostly dropped out of music for the previous five years, Ben E. King returned with a disco funk groove that evolved as if by magic from his aborted version of Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’.
BENJAMIN CLEMENTINE ‘London’ (At Least For Now LP March 2015)
- Benjamin Clementine’s remarkable back story of a strict Christian, London childhood, a spell living rough in Paris and busking on the Métro, and a subsequent return to Britain gave him plenty of source material from which to craft his piano led songs. His resulting debut album was by turns bold, brave, beautiful and at times quite remarkable.
THE BETA BAND ‘Squares’ (Hot Shots II LP July 2001)
- Unfashionable, kaleidoscopic, folk rock for the new age.
BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE ‘Medicine Show’ (This Is Big Audio Dynamite LP October 1985)
- I’m always surprised how radical Big Audio Dynamite sound in comparison to the mediocrity of most rock and pop from the mid-eighties, Mick Jones hip hop influenced use of samples coming at a time when the mainstream music industry was vehemently anti.
BIG YOUTH ‘Lightning Flash (Weak Heart Drop)’ (Dread Locks Dread LP 1975)
- The most influential toaster in Trenchtown pushing the art of the deejay forward in his own unique style.
BJORK ‘Play Dead’ (Single A Side October 1993)
- Björk’s first two albums felt like scrapbooks of barely realised ideas floating around the non-Britpop version of the nineties. Co-written with future James Bond composer David Arnold, the remarkable ‘Play Dead’ pulls off the trick of keying into the era’s interest in soundtracks and easy listening without ever veering into parody.
BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB ‘Mexo Mambo’ (Black Moon White Sun LP October 2013)
- With a mythical reputation forged in the late seventies, sixty something Parisian Bernard Fevre doesn’t so much reinvent the wheel as keep the same wheel turning with his own peculiar brand of voodoo trance and alchemical disco.
THE BLACK DOG ‘The Age Of Slack’ (Age Of Slack EP November 1989)
- Regarded as key figures of British techno, sonically The Black Dog’s fell somewhere between the old skool hardcore hedonism of the late eighties/early nineties and the stirrings of ambient dub, albeit that the percussive, quirky absurdism of ‘Age Of Slack’ doesn’t sound much like either.
BLACK GRAPE Feat. Joe Strummer & Keith Allen ‘England’s Irie’ (Single A Side June 1996)
- As football songs go ‘England’s Irie’ is no ‘World In Motion’ but its surely preferable to the ubiquitous ‘Three Lions’, and in Shaun Ryder and Joe Strummer has the distinction of featuring two of the greatest wordsmiths of the 20th century.
BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB ‘Spread Your Love’ (B.R.M.C. LP April 2001)
- Whatever happened to our Rock‘n’Roll? Well, it sounds like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club nicked all the best bits, squeezed them into three minutes and 45 seconds of Stooges style fuzz and called it ‘Spread Your Love’.
BLACK UHURU ‘Youth’ (The Dub Factor LP January 1983)
- One of the greatest late period dub records may sound a million miles away from King Tubby’s Meets Rockers Uptown but its infinitely more accessible for the undevoted.
BLUR ‘Death Of A Party’ (Blur LP February 1997)
- The sound of Blur rediscovering their artistic essence and consciously extricating themselves from the vulgar sales and media rat race of Britpop, the movement they were largely responsible for creating in the first place.
BOARDS OF CANADA ‘1969’ (Geogaddi LP February 2002)
- The genius of the Boards Of Canada’s warped effects, lightly sprinkled beats, ghostly melodies and echoes of distant voices in one vaguely disorientating recording.
BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS ‘My Philosophy’ (By All Means Necessary LP April 1988)
- As clear and essential a statement of black intent as there’d been since disco crushed the protest funk and soul of the early seventies.
THE BOOKS ‘Take Time’ (The Lemon Of Pink LP October 2003)
- Lumped into the folktronica micro genre along with Four Tet, in truth The Books mélange of found sounds, musical loops and original material was impossible to categorise.
BOOTSY COLLINS ‘The Pinocchio Theory’ (Aah The Name Is Bootsy Baby LP January 1977)
- ‘If you fake the funk, your nose will grow’.
BRAND NUBIAN ‘Slow Down’ (One For All LP November 1990)
- An Afrocentric outfit rapping about not dating crackheads were hardly star material yet Brand Nubian were so good they were sure to succeed. And they did too, ‘Slow Down’ proof, as if proof were needed, of hip hops redemptive power by turning the ignorance is bliss bullshit of Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians ‘What I Am’ into a deeply menacing groove.
BRIGADIER JERRY ‘Pain’ (Single A Side 1982)
- One of Jamaica’s top DJ’s at the dawn of the dancehall era, Brigadier Jerry secured his reputation on his retitled version of Slim Smith’s ‘Never Let Go’.
BRIGITTE BARDOT ‘Contact’ (Single B Side March 1968)
- When everyone else was playing The Beatles, my old man was listening to the retro, futuristic weirdness cooked up by Serge Gainsbourg for the sixties greatest screen siren.
BRUCE HAACK ‘Blow Job’ (Haackula LP Originally Unreleased June 1978)
- Obscure, obscene, slightly creepy gem from the one time guru of experimental children’s music.
BUZZCOCKS ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’ (Another Music In A Different Kitchen LP March 1978)
- Punks greatest and longest end of side two album track that tends to confound those more familiar with the Buzzcocks two and a half minute pop tunes.