Features

Bob Stanley (Saint Etienne)

Bob Stanley is a writer, musician, DJ, and film producer. Since founding influential pop group Saint Etienne, Bob has enjoyed a parallel career as a music journalist, contributing to publications such as the The Times, Smash Hits, NME, the Guardian and The Face. A former artist-in-residence at the Southbank Centre, his films have been shown at the ICA and Royal Festival Hall, and he has curated several seasons for the Barbican.

Bob's chronological story of modern pop "Yeah Yeah Yeah" has just been published by Faber & Faber and is highly recommended by the Ace Records Book Club.


www.faber.co.uk
twitter.com/rocking_bob

Selected releases

  • Priscilla Paris 'He Noticed Me'

    Don Peake's arrangement, Priscilla's gorgeous, breathy voice, and a terrifically simple but persuasive set-up. This is about as seductive as pop music got until Stevie Nicks wrote 'Sara'. I prefer songs about being on the beach to actually being on the beach.

  • Baby Washington 'Run My Heart'

    So many great Baby singles to choose from, but this Chip Taylor/Wes Farrell song wins out (just) – 'It'll Never Be Over For Me' and 'That's How Heartaches Are Made' are 10's too. 'Run My Heart' starts out with Baby singing to herself, almost under her breath, and gathers pace with a cacophony of voices in her head, chastising her for not running fast enough. She ends up back in her bad boy’s arms. 

  • The Rockin' Rebels 'Wild Weekend'

    I first came across this on a budget compilation called "Instrumental Greats" in the late 70s alongside 'Tequila', 'Wipe Out' etc. It's so intense. The drumming is very primitive, incredibly distorted, and is half a bar out of time by the time it reaches the fade. The sax and guitar spend the whole two minutes trying to outgrind each other. It's also crucially, deliciously, a bit too slow, presumably to give the inept musicians more of a chance. 

  • Ronnie Self 'Bop-A-Lena'

    "Man I dig that freak juvenile!" Ronnie sounds like all kinds of trouble, but 'Bop A Lena' herself sounds badder, and a whole heap of fun. 

  • Thor's Hammer 'I Don't Care'

    Apparently this is from an Icelandic film soundtrack. One of the loudest, and greatest, things ever recorded in 60s Britain, it jumps up a level whenever you think it can't possibly get any better.

  • The Groove 'Love It's Getting Better'

    What is this? Bubblegum? Blue-eyed soul? It may have been written by one of Tommy James & the Shondells, but it's tearfully great: "I just go out of my mind when you look this way". Upfront vibes, clattering drums, voice straining for that extra emotional punch, and one of the best choruses ever written. 

  • Porgy & The Monarchs 'If It's For Real Baby'

    I'm hoping Ace's songwriter series will get round to Teddy Randazzo one day, the missing link between Burt Bacharach and Thom Bell. This is a ridiculously fierce break-up song, as defeated as 'Make It Easy On Yourself' is generous. "What am I going to do?" asks poor Porgy, falling to his knees as she says "We need to talk".

  • The Butterflys 'I Wonder'

    This sounds a lot like Phil Spector has made an acoustic record without sacrificing any of his power. TheCrystals cut this at a galloping pace, but the keening vocal and wailing finale make this Ellie Greenwich production the winner. The Butterflys never made another record, presumably because they knew they had just defined how it feels to be 16, so what would have been the point?

  • Julie & The Desires 'Kiss and Tell'

    The boy is central to every girl group song. He's pretty hard to pin down: he's a rebel, a playboy, an angel, a dreamboy, and so fine. In this case he's a kiss and tell, something Julie refuses to believe, sticking her fingers in her ears. The intro sounds like a gang of cats emerging one by one and sneaking up behind her, listening out for gossip.  

  • The Zombies 'Is This The Dream'

    When you listen to the Zombies run of 11 Decca singles from the 60s, it's hard to fathom how they only managed one Top 20 hit. As strong as the Hollies, more adventurous than the Small Faces, several notches above the likes of Manfred Mann, they were one of the half dozen best British beat groups. This is a permanent fixture in my DJ box. Terrific intro, Colin Blunstone cutting loose on the finale, what a single!

     

© Ace records 2012