What else was I gonna use as a picture? I’m writing about music tracks that give me goosebumps, chills, and makes my arm hair stand on end. Give me a break. Anyway, the technical, scientific term for it is Frisson. It could be linked to our brains releasing dopamine. I’m sure I read a theory somewhere, that it’s connected to us remembering our mother/father either “cooing” or singing to us as babies. I like that theory. I’ll stick with that. I have this sensation on the regular. I’ve always been baffled by people who don’t, or can’t feel an intense connection to music. I guess we are all wired differently. I’m just so glad I have an intense connection to music, and not something boring and laborious, like being a royalist for example. So, here’s 10 tracks that fit the bill. Check em out, and feel free to send me yours. I love being introduced to great music:
10: Sault - Light's In Your Hands (Nine)
Release date: 25th June, 2021
When you think about it, I never really had a childhood
I was constantly on the edge, constantly on edge
Throughout my whole childhood
But, we just, we grew accustomed to it
To the point now we're adults and we got thick skin
You shouldn't have to have skin as sick as ours, you shouldn't
We shouldn't have had to grow up with that
For me, Sault are the best thing to happen to music in a long, long time. Obviously, that’s a reflection of my personal taste. They embody everything I love in music. Attitude, originality, musicianship, and it’s all backed up with great lyrics, also, a lot of their stuff would absolutely rock any dance-floor. This is one of their more poignant tracks though. A heartbreaking, yet beautifully delivered song, with themes of hardships, and the strength gained from forced coming of age.
09: CHARLES BEVERLY - STOP AND THINK A MINUTE
Release date: 1975
This track, to my knowledge, went completely under the radar. Both when it was released in 1975, and even today. I see tons of Soul compilation albums released, but I’ve never come across this track on any of them. And it’s beautiful. I don’t much about Philly native Beverly, all I know is I hope he knows there’s a pasty skinned white boy in Wales, who plays this track on average 10-15 a week. Probably not.
08: GIL SCOTT-HERON - HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS (PIECES OF A MAN)
Release date: 1971
Any track off this seismic release could be overlooked in favour of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, but, this will always be my pick. A bleak and honest look into the life of addiction. Set to music that is fucking movie worthy. It’s just so epic in scope. You can almost smell them burning bins on the street corner. Gil Scott-Heron shows here, why he is one of the most revered songwriters of all time. A long time ago, I brought this record to an after-party, and borrowed it to a Jamaican Rasta who was enamoured with it. I didn't see it again. K-J, wherever you are, I want my record back!
07: Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Closer)
Release date: 18th July, 1980
For a while, I was obsessed with this track, and it would be at number 1 on my list, though this list, maybe apart from the top 2, would chop and change in order by the month, but who cares about all that stuff right? Ian Curtis is ice cold in his delivery on this. The lyric “why is the bedroom so cold, you’ve turned away on your side” is so biting in it’s execution, and the tone in which he delivers it in, is unsettling, and brutal. Watch the video too, it’s Curtis at his brilliant, awkward best.
06: Curtis Mayfield - So In Love (There’s No Place Like America Today)
Release date: 1975
So in love
You do so many things with that smilin' face
So in love
Every time we kiss, it's such a pleasant taste
Curtis Mayfield is one of my idols. There’s just so many songs I could list of his that give me the goosebumps. “So in Love” is the perfect love song. It’s a love song without any of the pulp. None of the sickly sweet, bog standard fat that bloats a million and one pop songs.
05: Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know
Release date: 19th August, 2011
The absolute perfect pop song. And that’s in no way meant to do any disservice to the track, as crafting a pop song, that resonates with millions, deeper than a surface level of being “catchy”, is a very hard thing to accomplish. I feel you can’t make these kind of tracks “on purpose”, meaning, it’s kind of a lightning in a bottle scenario, where the track comes from such a real place, and inadvertently hits people in the heart, as it’s a topic that literally everyone, worldwide, can relate to, without being too on the nose or blatant. The line “have your friends collect your records, and then change your number”. Right in the feels. Understated perfection. Note: The link when you click is a live version, which I think is superb, as you've no doubt seen the official video.
04: Idris Muhammad - Piece of Mind (Power of Soul)
Release date: November, 1974
Idris Muhammad is legendary. This album, arranged and conducted by Bob James, is a masterpiece to me. It’s so emotive. Just search for the album, put some headphones on, press play, and zone out for 34 minutes and 20 seconds of top tier Jazz music.
03: Gladys Knight & The Pips - The Makings of You
Release date: March, 1974
If you’re going to cover a Curtis Mayfield track, you better damn well nail it. And Gladys Knight & The Pips do just that. The musicianship is astounding. The strings, the bassline, the guitar, the drums. It’s perfectly crafted and Gladys Knight’s voice, is particularly spellbinding on this. The build up and pay off before the drums kick in is something special. It’s taken from the “Claudine” film soundtrack. The entirety of the soundtrack features Gladys Knight & The Pips, but it was wrote and produced by Curtis Mayfield. That partnership guarantees greatness.
02: Rodney Franklin - New Day (LEARNING TO LOVE)
Release date: 1982
I stumbled on this track years ago. As usual when I find nuggets of great music, I was searching for samples. I have no idea where or when I bought, borrowed or stole it from, but, it was in my “sample maybes” pile. As soon as I hear the piano’s at the start, it caught my attention. Then….THEN!...When that drum fill plays and that guitar comes in, I had a craaaaaazy goosebump, hairs standing on end moment. I was in complete awe. The drumming throughout this is superb too. I played this every night, in my headphones, for about 12 months non stop. It just makes me happy. Every single time. On the album, the track actually plays as part of a 9 minute segment along with the tracks Genesis, Nature’s Way, Early Morning, and Let There Be Light, so in fear of people not having the attention span to listen to the whole thing and subsequently missing out on this stunning track, I uploaded it to YouTube myself, on my account. Check it.
01: Native Son - African Fantasy (Savanna Hot-Line)
Release date: 1986
Oh boy. This track. Why did this instantly connect with me on my very first listen? It was a very strange feeling. I felt emotional, and it felt familiar for some reason. It made me think of a certain point in my life. That’s the never ending beauty of music, the way a Japanese Funk-Jazz Fusion band from the early 70’s can make me stop dead in my tracks and feel raw emotion with their music. Whenever I hear this, it’s very visual and vivid. It’s like some sort of audio connection to another world. Truly a track that resonates in my soul.
So, there's another list. Hopefully I've introduced some of you to some music you haven't heard before. If you've enjoyed the article, go ahead and subscribe to my blog list below. A share wouldn't go a miss either.
Cheers - DJ Alkemy