Hi-res Revelations (part 1) – Qobuz playlist

11 05 2023

As a recent covert to the Qobuz hi-resolution streaming service, I thought it would be a good idea to make some playlists of some of the songs that highlight the wow factor of lossless streaming.

What does the hi-resolution experience sound like? Hi-res audio offers greater detail and texture, bringing listeners closer to the original recorded studio or live performance. Bass hits deeper and harder, vocals are clearer, percussion is crisper and the songs sound fuller, more expansive and richer. Parts of the recording that you may not have noticed in a lossy format become more visible, and at times its like hearing the music through new upgraded ears!

I’m a couple of weeks in, and this playlist is made up of some of the tracks that jumped out straight away as being a huge upgrade on the audio quality of songs that I have known and loved for years.

Some of the album covers from music featured in this playlist - Issac Hayes, The Who, Tears For Fears, Mike Oldfield, Kate Bush, Steven Wilson, Donna Summer, Prince and St. Vincent.

Qobuz uses the tagline “Rediscover Music” and that is what I have been doing over the past few weeks. For those new to hi-res music, you need extra equipment to hear beyond CD quality – so a DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) is needed. Streaming from mobiles / tablets works without a DAC up to CD quality, so better than the MP3 quality of Spotify (that I will be ditching!) but if you add a portable DAC such as the DAC I use – AudioQuest DragonFly DAC (and for Apple / iPhone users a Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter is needed), you can listen to hi-res from your phone or tablet.

If you are planning to listen through your hi-fi setup, through your amp and speakers, you will need a DAC streamer such as the Cambridge Audio MXN10.

There are other services, such as Tidal and Apple Music, but I have settled on Qobuz due to the added features such as the editorial options that are provided, along with a great online community and the easy way to get track / recording details for songs and albums.

The catalogue is not perfect – there are some hi-res gaps that I hope will be filled over the next year. The main catalogue is comparable in volume to Spotify, with music available in CD quality but not all of it is in hi-resolution / lossless at the moment. Notable hi-res omissions (although they do have lots of these in CD quality) for me include The Police, The Stranglers, some Steely Day (what, no Aja, once of the best sounding albums of all time?), Porcupine Tree’s Deadwing (another sonically amazing album), Thomas Dolby and some Prince releases.

I’ve spent the past week browsing the hi-resolution catalogue and have added lots of favourites to go back to savour, so Qobuz have already succeeded on the re-discovery front. If you are a Qobuz subscriber, please have a listen to my playlist and let me know what you think. I hope you find some music you like, that you may not have been aware of before.

Hi-res Revelations (part 1) tracks

Peter Gabriel – The Rhythm Of The Heat

The Rhythm Of The Heat had to be the song to open my playlist. Taken from Peter Gabriel 4: Security from 1982, the song sounds stunning in this lossless format. Gabriel’s vocals are clear, and the arrangement builds slowly, with a stark, restrained backing until the percussion explodes on the 3/4 mark.

Peter Gabriel - Security (4)

The Who – Who Are You

Who Are You, the title track from The Who’s 8th studio album, was released in 1978 and was the last album to feature Keith Moon. The synths really bubble in this hi-res version, and Entwistle’s bass has a more prominent role, showing how the bassline really fed into the groove on the final chorus. Townshend’s guitar work in the stripped back middle section is one of my favourite Who moments.

Issac Hayes – Theme From Shaft

Theme From Shaft is one of my favourite songs. Whenever I hear this track, I am instantly transported back to the early 70s. I treasure my original double vinyl version of the Shaft soundtrack, but this hi-res stream is by far the best sounding version I have heard of this iconic and influential single. The hi-hat and wah-wah guitar interplay sounds like you are in the studio as the track was being recorded. I have heard this song hundreds of times and I never tire of it. Can you dig it?

Isaac Hayes - Shaft

Paul McCartney Goodnight Tonight (single version)

This 1979 single is included on the Pure McCartney compilation on Qobuz, a quick and easy way to dive into Macca’s post-Beatles catalogue.

Featuring one of McCartney’s finest basslines, the backing vocals and Rhodes piano on Goodnight Tonight is timeless.

The Carpenters Rainy Days And Mondays

Considering how well-known Rainy Days And Mondays has become, its surprising to note that it wasn’t a big hit in the UK, though it did reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A lot of the songs that blew me away during my first few weeks of using Qobuz were often beat driven, with complicated arrangements, but that was not the case here. The simplicity of the arrangement is pure pop perfection.

Karen Carpenters lead vocal before the strings kick in, is a performance of real beauty. Tommy Morgan’s plaintive harmonica lines just add to the magic.

Mike Oldfield – Five Miles Out

Mike Oldfield has a fair collection of lossless albums on Qobuz, but at the time of writing is missing hi-res versions of Platinum (my favourite Oldfield release), Incantations, Ommadawn, Hergest Ridge and criminally, Tubular Bells. I am hoping they get these early albums in hi-resolution soon. Qobuz do have a hi-res version of one of my favourite Oldfield albums from the early 80s, and I have included the title track from Five Miles Out in this playlist.

Five Miles Out featured Maggie Reilly and a heavily vocoder’d Mike Oldfield on vocals. I have always loved Oldfield’s guitar work, especially his sharp solos, and he is joined by Rick Fenn (10cc) on additional guitar here.

Five Miles Out has never sounded better, with a power and clarity that makes listening to this song an absolute joy.

Kate Bush – Breathing

It was difficult to pick just one song from one of my favourite artists, Kate Bush, who is well-represented in hi-res on Qobuz. It would be too obvious to pick Running Up That Hill (which admittedly does sound wonderful in hi-res) so I went with another personal favourite, the 1980’s post-apocalyptic Breathing. Mood killer!

The Rhodes sparkle and the bassline from the late John Giblin works so well with Kate’s intelligent and emotional multi-layered vocal arrangement.

Kate is not given enough credit for her production skills, which shine on the Never For Ever album. The subtle reverb on the snare, and the placement in the mix of all instruments give this track a rare power. Turn the lights off and turn up the volume if you are a Qobuz subscriber, and prepare to be moved.

Kate Bush - Never For Ever

Steven Wilson – Drive Home

The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) sounds delicious in hi-resolution, and I could easily have chosen any of the album’s tracks to highlight the power of hi-res audio, but I went for the single Drive Home for my playlist.

You can hear the scrape of fingers on guitar, and the drums have real depth. The production is stellar on Drive Home, and the guitar solo from Guthrie Govan takes this song to another level, making this one of Wilson’s most exquisite songs to date.

This Mortal Coil – I Come And Stand At Every Door

Beauty can also be found in darkness. The trilogy of albums from This Mortal Coil can be found in hi-res on Qobuz, and I have chosen I Come And Stand At Every Door from the final This Mortal Coil album, Blood.

Musically a million miles away from The Byrds version of the song, that was based on a poem by Nazim Hikmet. The discordant drums cut through the vocals from Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski, who deliver a gothic choral performance that sends shivers down my spine.

Tim Bowness / Giancarlo Erra – Change Me Once Again

Tim Bowness / Giancarlo Erra remixed and re-released their Memories of Machines album on it’s 10 year anniversary in 2022, and I have included one of the albums key tracks here. Change Me Once Again (featuring Julianne Regan on backing vocals) has a real lightness of touch, with thick acoustic guitars, and a mid-paced tempo, that sounds delicious in hi-resolution.

“Forget the heartache, forget the past”

The Cocteau Twins – Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires

The Cocteau Twins are also well-represented in hi-resolution on Qobuz, and I’ve included one of their most beautiful pieces, Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires from the bands sixth studio album Heaven Or Las Vegas, from 1990.

The jittery percussion and heavily processed guitars are more noticeable in lossless form, and listening to this song in this quality almost feels like an out-of-body experience.

Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas

The Pretenders – Kid

This single from 1979 sounds so much more vibrant in hi-resolution. The production by Chris Thomas is warm and bright, with the drums and the multi-layered guitars (those harmonics 😍) topped by Chrissie Hynde’s unique vocals make this my favourite early Pretenders song.

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

I simply had to include this song from Face Value. The beauty of hi-resolution audio is the lack of compression – with room for the quieter parts to breathe, so when that iconic drum break smashes through your speakers, your whole soul shakes.

The Knack – My Sharona

It’s all about the drums, baby! My Sharona is another groove-led song. This American new wave classic was always one of the best produced songs of the genre, and the scratchy guitar solo screams out of the speakers in hi-res.

Squeeze – Slap & Tickle

Now we go over to one of the UK’s finest bands, and a 1979 single from Squeeze. The band have never sounded better, with percussive guitar and swirling Kraftwerk / Giorgio Moroder inspired synths.

Donna Summer – Now I Need You

And talking of Giorgio Moroder… Donna Summer has a few hi-resolution albums on Qobuz, including what I think is her greatest album, the double Once Upon A Time from late 1977.

Summers vocals switch from warm and sensual to detached and clinical, depending on the mood of each track. The songs were written by Summer, Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and Now I Need You, with its massed choir like backing and pulsing electronic beat, oozes an alluring synthetic warmth.

I may have to include I Feel Love in my next Qobuz playlist, as it sounds so good at volume on this hi-res streaming platform.

Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend

One of the more experimental tracks from 1987’s Sign “O” The Times double album. If I Was Your Girlfriend makes good use of the Fairlight and Prince’s favoured (at the time) Linn drum machine.

The bass (both slap and deep note) really cut through in hi-res, and the complexity of the vocal arrangement shines like never before. A perfect headphone song.

Prince - Sign "O" The Times

Tears For Fears – Mothers Talk

Mothers Talk was the first single from Songs from the Big Chair, and is not a favourite of the band, so is rarely performed live.

The guitars and drums cut clean through the sample-heavy song, and like the aforementioned Shaft, Mothers Talk takes me back to the time of its original release, and I’m wearing white jeans and a Relax t-shirt. In my dreams.

Porcupine Tree – Russia On Ice

I could have chosen so many Porcupine Tree songs, as they are always an example of quality production, but I went with Lightbulb Sun‘s Russia On Ice due to the complexity of the arrangement, and the peaks and troughs that highlight the beauty of hi-resolution audio.

Richard Barbieri contributes some of his strongest soundscapes, with synths, mellotrons and organ adding mood setting textures, whilst Steven Wilson delivers pitch-perfect harmonies and emotive guitar solos.

Lightbulb Sun is the last Porcupine Tree tree studio album to feature original drummer Chris Maitland, with Gavin Harrison taking over for In Absentia in 2002.

Electric Light Orchestra – Night In The City

Night In The City is from 1977’s massive selling Out of the Blue. The whole album sounds beautiful, but one of its lesser known tracks highlights the clarity afforded to it in hi-resolution.

Listen to the separation of the acoustic and electric guitars, alongside Rhodes keyboard and string riffs. Its a joy to hear, either loud on speakers or at night via headphones.

Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The Blue

Harry Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire

One of the older songs on my playlist, Jump Into The Fire was given a second lease of life by being featured in a tense, paranoid scene in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic gangster film Goodfellas.

The track is taken from the album Nilsson Schmilsson, which features appearances from top session musicians Chris Spedding (guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass) and on the wild drum break that sounds top class here, Jim Gordon.

St. Vincent – The Nowhere Inn

The Nowhere Inn is from the soundtrack to the film of the same name. When compiling the playlist, it quickly became obvious that I was choosing lots of older music, so I added this song as an example of the improvement in audio quality from a more recent release. The twists and turns in The Nowhere Inn constantly surprise and delight.

Daddy’s Home is another recent St. Vincent album, with its stylistic nods to the early 70s, that sounds glorious in lossless format.

St. Vincent - Nowhere Inn

I hope you enjoy listening to my Qobuz playlist. Please follow me on Twitter if you want to be informed of part 2.

Listen to my Qobuz playlist – Hi-res Revelations (part 1)

Peter Gabriel – The Rhythm Of The Heat

  • The Who – Who Are You
  • Issac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
  • Paul McCartney – Goodnight Tonight (single version)
  • The Carpenters – Rainy Days And Mondays
  • Mike Oldfield – Five Miles Out
  • Kate Bush – Breathing
  • Steven Wilson – Drive Home
  • This Mortal Coil – I Come And Stand At Every Door
  • Tim Bowness / Giancarlo Erra – Change Me Once Again
  • Cocteau Twins – Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires
  • Pretenders – Kid
  • Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
  • The Knack – My Sharona
  • Squeeze – Slap & Tickle
  • Donna Summer – Now I Need You
  • Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend
  • Tears For Fears – Mothers Talk
  • Porcupine Tree – Russia On Ice
  • Electric Light Orchestra – Night In The City
  • Harry Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire
  • St. Vincent – The Nowhere Inn

Listen to my Qobuz playlist – Hi-res Revelations (part 1)

The Stranglers – In The Shadows (deeper cuts)

10 07 2018

Here’s my latest playlist for you to listen to, hopefully enjoy and share. My previous playlists have been themed – Alternative Jewels (say hello to the modern) and Date Stamp – the 80s (part1)  This is the first playlist dedicated to one band.

That band is one of the most successful UK new wave bands, The Stranglers. I have avoided most of the band’s most well-known songs, though I let a few slip through into the playlist. The list could have been a lot longer, it took remarkable self-restraint to leave songs out, so forgive me if your favourites are not included.


The playlist gets underway with Goodbye Toulouse and Hanging Around, from the band’s debut album Rattus Norvegicus. Neither tracks were singles, but they highlight the raw psychedelic sound of the bands first few albums, and were staples of the live set for years to come.

English Towns is the representative from the No More Heroes album. although I have also included 5 Minutes (one of their most powerful singles) and it’s B side, the ballardian Rok It To The Moon, that both feature on the No More Heroes CD re-issue from 2018.

Outside Tokyo is a beautiful, bittersweet spiky waltz from Black And White, the final Stranglers studio album produced by legendary producer Martin Rushent. Curfew is a paranoid, dystopian tale driven by Burnel’s barracuda bass perfectly coupled with Jet Blacks jazz tinged drums, and a classic Burnel / Cornwell jointly sung chorus.

Walk on By is the definitive version of this song for me. I have probably heard it hundreds of times – blaring out of my transistor radio on its release in 1978, on 7″ vinyl, cassette, CD and live, yet I never tire of the song. Its so easy to get lost in the middle section with the wild solos from Dave Greenfield and Hugh Cornwell.


The title track to 1979’s The Raven is another song that never grows old. I could not leave out Baroque Bordello, the song with one of the best intros in the bands large catalogue. Listen to this, and tell me that the band were not influenced by prog rock!

G.m.b.H is a hybrid of the 12″ and 7″ versions of Bear Cage, from the US import album IV, that lots of fans bought on mail-order from ads in the back of NME or Melody Maker (this was pre-internet) to get the previously unreleased, Doors influenced track Vietnamerica. It took me years to track down the rare USA CD issue of IV – and its not for sale, so don’t ask!

“You can keep your Brussels and Amsterdam 
Give me back my summer in Dresden, man” 

Second Coming (which sounded amazing live at the time) and the single Just Like Nothing On Earth feature from The Gospel According To The MenInBlack, which found The Stranglers at their most experimental. Weird and totally wired.

“A woman in Wellington wet her whistle with a wild man,
From way back when.”

Who Wants The World (yes, it did cost 79p) scraped into the lower reaches of the UK singles chart in 1980, but is still a great single, and continues the UFO theme of The Gospel According To The MenInBlack.


Ain’t Nothin’ to It is an often overlooked track from La Folie, the album that included the bands biggest hit, Golden Brown.

My playlist ends in 1983, with the 7″ mix of Midnight Summer Dream, and the haunting Never Say Goodbye from the acoustic diversion of the Feline album.

I hope you enjoy this playlist – please follow me on Twitter @mrkinski to find out about future playlists that I put together.

Alternative Jewels (say hello to the modern)

4 03 2018

Alternative Jewels (say hello to the modern) is the second in a series of blog posts attached to Spotify playlists I will be putting together, alongside my regular reviews of new releases. Alternative Jewels (say hello to the modern) is the first of two playlists of some of my favourite alternative songs.

I hope my playlists will shine the light on artists that you might not be familiar with, and maybe remind you of some acts that have slipped off your radar. I would love to read your comments about the tracks I have chosen – please feel free to follow my playlists and share them.

I hope you enjoy listening to Alternative Jewels (say hello to the modern).

Opening up the playlist are The Dear Hunter, with one of my favourite tracks from their Migrant album. Bring You Down is one of the band’s most accessible songs, and a great live track. That chorus!


The Dear Hunter now count one of my favourite singer-songwriters, Gavin Castleton, as one of their members, so I am even more keen to see them live again whenever they next head back to London. I also recommend The Color Spectrum and any of the Act albums, especially Act III: Life and Death.

Crowd Surf Off A Cliff by Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton is one of the most simple yet haunting songs of recent years. The key track on the Knives Don’t Have Your Back album never fails to move me.

Next up in my playlist is the more Fleetwood Mac than Fleetwood Mac pop/rock of Dreamworld by Rilo Kiley, taken from the Under The Blacklight album. I’m probably straying a little from the alternative music genre here, but its such a good song.

My most played track from St. Vincent is the short but achingly beautiful piano instrumental We Put A Pearl In The Ground from the Marry Me album. Cherokee by Cat Power, from her Sun album, is so evocative. Close your eyes and you can feel the blistering desert sun on your skin.

starsIn Our Bedroom After The War is my favourite Stars album (closely followed by Heart). Personal is a tale of dating ads and rejection, and one of Stars most heartbreaking songs. You and I Are A Gang Of Losers by The Dears is a great single, with an amazing chorus and powerful lyrics. The Gang of Losers album is the perfect starting point if you are new to the band.

Hello? Is This Thing On? by !!! or Chk Chk Chk as they are often known, is the song that first introduced me to this wonderful NYC based dance-punk band. I get real Sandanista mid-period The Clash vibes from this track. The paranoia is off the scale here, and you will not be able to keep still whilst listening to this song. Dance suckers!

open heart zooI had to include Danish prog-poppers Mew in this playlist. You can’t go wrong with any of Mews albums, but a good start would be No More Stories… from which Silas the Magic Car springs forth. The first UK artist on this playlist is Martin Grech, who has gone a little too quiet over the past few years. There have been rumblings of new material recently, so hopefully new music is not too far away. Tonight is one of my favourite songs from the Open Heart Zoo album. A lovely, beautifully paced arrangement and production.

Stay Tuned from Anja Garbarek’s Smiling & Waving features Richard Barbieri on atmospheric synths and co-production from Steven Wilson. An evolving, often stark production gives way to a delicious, Portishead like chorus.

I am a newcomer to the music of Destroyer, and whilst Poison Season and Kaputt are my favourite albums so far, Shooting Rockets (From The Desk of Night’s Ape) from Trouble In Dreams is one of their finest songs and so an obvious choice for my playlist. A bold, often discordant arrangement pays dividends after several listens.

midlakeShearwater are really an albums band, so it was hard to pick one track, but just for the vocal effects on the songs end section alone, I had to pick Leviathan, Bound from Rook. I fell in love with Midlake around the same time as Shearwater, and The Trials of Van Occupanther is such a  thoughtfully constructed album. Head Home could easily have been released in the early to mid-70s and the song surely would have been a staple of FM radio in that era.

Another stripped back song is up next, with Joseph Arthur’s A Smile That Explodes from Our Shadows Will Remain. This is the Joseph Arthur that I prefer – an intimate, natural performance from a great singer-songwriter.

Field Music cross so many genres. Whilst they clearly fit into the alternative genre, I hear shades of 10CC and other 70s acts in their adventurous arrangements. I recommend the short and sharp Plumb and their latest, Open HereThe Sexual Loneliness of Jesus Christ by the late Jackie Leven is the oldest track on this playlist. Leven was a Scottish songwriter who fronted the late 70s band Doll By Doll, and this song is a late career highlight.

lunatic-soul-IIThe final two tracks are worlds apart. I Need My Girl is taken from Trouble Will Find Me by The National, a band who I feel are making the best music of their career at the moment. Gravestone Hill is from Lunatic Soul II. Lunatic Soul is the progressive / electronic project from Riverside vocalist and bass guitarist Mariusz Duda. Lunatic Soul have gained a sizeable following and will shortly be releasing their sixth album. All of the albums are worth seeking out – but especially the two most recent albums – Walking On A Flashlight Beam and Fractured.

I hope you enjoyed listening to all of the songs, and maybe you’ve discovered some music you were not aware of. Feel free to leave a comment below and please share this blog / playlist. The next playlist will be the second Alternative Jewels – one of older songs – expect post-punk a-plenty.

Date Stamp – the 80s (part1)

30 06 2017

Date Stamp – the 80s is the first in a series of blog posts attached to Spotify playlists I will be putting together, alongside my regular reviews of new releases.

sign o the times

The playlists will be a mixture of the familiar and lesser known songs, that I hope will shine the light on artists that you might not be familiar with. I would love to read your comments about the tracks I have chosen – please feel free to follow my playlists and share them.

I hope you enjoy listening to part 1 of my 80s Spotify playlist.

My Date Stamp – the 80s (part 1) playlist opens up with Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer, from the Rio album. The synth lines alone lead to its inclusion in this playlist. Save A Prayer was released in August 1982.

Next up is the only 12″ mix in the playlist. A brilliant Laurie Latham production, and one of my favourite extended versions from the 80s. Released in March 1983, Come Back and Stay can be found on the No Parlez album, and contains one of Pino Palladino’s most memorable bass-lines.

N_networkIt was difficult to choose just one Prince song for this playlist, and I know future playlists will include other songs from the Purple maestro, but I kept coming back to the Sign O The Times album, and particularly the power-pop of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man, included here in its full album length.

The video for this track was a mainstay on Night Network, the late night weekend ITV show that preceded 24 hour TV.  I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man was released as a single in November 1987.

Mothers Talk was the first single from the second Tears For Fears album Songs From The Big Chair. The single was released in August 1984, with the album following in February 1985. Fairlight stabs, heavy sequenced synths and 80s nuclear paranoia drive this powerful song. The Roland Orzabal guitar riff on Mothers Talk is one of his best. The song may be synth and sampler heavy, but the guitar work (and the delayed and distorted bass and percussion in the outro) make this a standout track on the album.

If you are feeling flush, a deluxe edition of the album was released in 2014. You can read my review here.

wilderTiny Children from the second Teardrop Explodes album Wilder (1981) is one of the bands most commercial pieces.

Released as a single in June 1982, it sat comfortably with the other pop songs released that year, but as with all great pop music, scratch a little deeper below the surface and you will find much to savour.

“Oh no, I’m not sure
Not anymore”

A Secret Wish was the debut album by German band Propaganda. The album was released by ZTT Records in 1985, and was produced by Stephen Lipson with Trevor Horn. p:Machinery is my favourite track on the album, and one of the finest mid-80s singles. I love the percussion and crisp synths, and lead vocalist Claudia Brücken is still releasing new music.

Fade To Grey by Visage is one of the oldest tracks in this playlist. The single (the bands second) was released in 1980. The song was promoted by one of  Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s earliest videos.

lexicon of loveThe title song of this playlist is Date Stamp by ABC, from their debut album, Lexicon of Love. I’ve gone for one of the less-well known ABC songs, but its my favourite track from the album. It hits all the marks for me – great backing vocals, a stunning bass-line and some of Martin Fry’s finest lyrics.

“Looking for the girl who meets
supply with demand”

Lexicon of Love was released in June 1982.

Another lesser-known track is up next. Here Comes a Raincloud is from the second China Crisis album, Working with Fire and Steel. A fine ballad with a wonderful arrangement and beautiful production (from Mike Howlett).  The (real not synthesised) strings on this track still sound beautiful. A piece of pop magic from the Liverpudlians.

I’ve included the 10″ version of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark‘s Messages in my playlist. Another mighty Mike Howlett production. I love the hard sequences and the ever evolving bassline in this single from 1980.

I’m sure other Thomas Dolby tracks will feature in subsequent playlists, but I chose Airwaves as I think its a song that’s often overlooked. That chorus!

Airwaves features on the 1982 The Golden Age of Wireless album – I can recommend the excellent collectors edition.

I never tire of hearing Absolute by Scritti Politti. The mixture of sugar-sweet vocals and hard-beats hits the spot for me, even to this day. This Arif Mardin produced single from the bands period working in New York arrived smack bang in the middle of the 80s, and can be found on the album Cupid & Psyche 85.

A little journey back into the less-familiar for the next track on my playlist. Unless is from the debut Pale Fountains album Pacific Street, which was released in 1984. The slow-building percussion and reverb-laden synth mix with some heart-wrenching strings and an unexpected sequenced synth line towards the end of the song.

The band turned up the guitars for their final studio album, …From Across the Kitchen Table in 1986, before splitting, with vocalist Mick Head forming the band Shack, who have existed in various incarnations from 1987 to date.

44426-cafe-bleuI loved the early to mid-period Style Council singles and I’ve included the single edit of one of my favourites in this playlist. As with the previous track, some wonderfully detailed 80s percussion underpins My Ever Changing Moods. The song includes a typically great Paul Weller lyric and one of his best guitar performances from this era.

“The hush before the silence,
the winds after the blast”

My Ever Changing Moods was released in 1984 and can be found on Greatest Hits (this single version) or on their debut studio album Cafe Bleu.

Prefab Sprout’s Goodbye Lucille #1 (known as Johnny Johnny when released as a single) is a highlight of the bands second album Steve McQueen, which was released in 1985. The production by Thomas Dolby results in a timeless sounding album. Just listen to the intro – such wonderful separation between the layers of guitars.

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions released their debut album Rattlesnakes in 1984, and its release was preceded by the single Forest Fire in August 1984. The album was recorded in John Foxx’s The Garden studios in East London. I’ve always loved the simple but very emotive guitar solo that pushes the song to its conclusion.

Lloyd Cole has always been known as a great wordsmith, and Forest Fire and its lyrics of wild love and lust are an absolute joy.

“I believe in love, I’ll believe in anything”

I’ve included the title track from Deacon Blue’s debut album, Raintown, in this playlist. A fine production from Jon Kelly (who also worked with Chris Rea, Kate Bush and Prefab Sprout). Raintown is a strong late 80s albums, and its worth tracking down the 2012 Edsel reissue.

Primarily known for his signature song Wonderful Life, the late Colin Vearncombe’s Black have left us with a rich catalogue of  songs. My favourite track from the debut album Wonderful Life is the torch-song Paradise. The album was re-issued as a two disc deluxe edition in 2013. Which I didn’t know about until writing this blog – so over to Amazon I go.

“Life should never feel small”

I’ve included one of Thomas Lang’s less well-known songs in this playlist. Thomas delivers a heartfelt version of Jacques Brel’s powerful anti-war (and song of loss) Sons of.  The song was often a highlight of Lang’s live shows in the late 80s, early 90s. Sons of is available on Scallywag Jaz and More – the Best of…

“Sons of the great or sons unknown
All were children like your own”

age of plasticMy playlist ends with Elstree by The Buggles. Taken from their first album The Age of Plastic from 1980,  the haunting Elstree features some lovely piano and a convincing minimoog oboe emulation from Geoff Downes.

The Buggles only released one further album, Adventures in Modern Recording in 1981. The past few years have seen rumours of new Buggles music, which would please me greatly, as I am a big fan of most of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes work.

Ok, Elstree ends with the words “Cut”, and so does this playlist. I hope you enjoyed listening to all of the songs, and maybe you’ve discovered some music you were not aware of. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I hope to return to the 80s for another serving of the familiar and the unknown in the next few months.

The next playlists will be two collections of Alternative Jewels – one of older songs and one made up of some of my more recent favourites. Follow the Music Shack on Twitter to find out when they will be available.

To be informed of new posts, along with music tweets, please follow the Music Shack on Twitter @MkMusicshack.

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