This was an amazing comeback. After creating big headlines in the music press after leaving Suede in 1994, Bernard Butler tried a few collaborations. After briefly joining The Verve, he teamed up with Soul singer David McAlmont, and their short initial spell together created some magical results, the ace in the pack being their first single, ‘Yes’.
A glorious, soaring vocal from McAlmost matched by the Spector-like musical arrangement by Butler made this song a Nineties classic, with it reaching, fittingly, the top 10 after its release in May 1995 (it eventually got to no.8).
The lyrics seem to be an update on ‘I Will Survive’, with Gloria Gaynors defiance in the wake of a lover leaving replaced by McAlmonts resolve that he is over the heartbreak, and he will carry on, and by the way, ‘am I looking better??’.As for him falling for the same trick twice;
“I feel well enough to tell you what you can do with what you got to offer”
Its such a glorious opening, with Butlers guitar intoning, leading onto a fantastic orchestral swell, the strings replaced by McAlmonts beautiful falsetto.
What a single – I played it incessantly that Spring. It was like the gateway to the Summer of 1995, which, like this single was full of sunshine.
They didn’t last long as a duo, splitting up in the same year. Luckily they had recorded enough material for an album, ‘The Sound of McAlmont & Butler’, where there are other classic pop moments such as the epic ‘Disappointment’. If I was to recommend one album to you this week, it would be this one. It is dirt cheap as well (under a fiver at amazon at the moment). It is basically a collection of the songs (A & B sides) they released in 1995 – 6 of the tracks are from the 2 CD releases of ‘Yes’ (the red and blue covers pictured here on this post).
They did reunite and record again, but nothing really came close to this epic, beautiful and stirring statement of intent.
I went through a break up with a girl in the spring of 1995. The day after it happened, I heard this track for the first time, and things were (almost) better again. As uplifting as the best Soul music can be, this stomper got into the charts in March 1995, and eventually got as high as number 9. It was the Boo Radleys finest hour, and as close as any British white indie band from Cheshire (or anywhere else) ever got to perfecting that beating rhythm that propelled the best Northern Soul and Motown tracks. The lyrics merely re-emphasise the beauty in the stirring music, shouting at you ‘isn’t it great to be alive???’;
Wake up it’s a beautiful morning
Feel the sun shining for your eyes
Wake up it’s so beautiful
For what could be the very last time
The Boo Radleys very own Northern Soul anthem still sounds fresh because it is a classic pop song, its exuberance and infectious rhythm never outstaying its welcome.
Released in the early spring of 2001, ‘Since I left you’, by the Melbourne collective The Avalanches is simply the most glorious, uplifting song you could possibly want to hear as you emerge from the gloom of winter. Its *ahem* like the sun bursting out from grey skies. The video is as glorious as the song;
The single even managed to get into the UK top 20, reaching a respectable no.16 in April 2001. (Source – http://www.everyhit.com)
The album it came from, also called ‘Since I left you’, was a work of great invention, created from over 3500 samples – and pretty much nothing else. The album is a great party album, and there is a lovely segue from the opener (‘Since i left you’) to the bassline from Madonnas’ ‘Holiday’ that introduces the second track, ‘Stay another season’. The Avalanches were the first artists to get permission to sample the work of Madonna, and they use that sample to great effect. There are reviews of the album in the links section below.
The Avalanches Official Site (they used to run a great t-shirt club there, but not any more – shame).