Summer mix

This year’s Summer mix includes two Brazilian innovators who are still recording and performing today. Marcos Valle starts things off with a breezy track from 1968. Towards the end, I chose one by Caetano Veloso from 1975.

“Breezy” also describes track number two, a song originally recorded by Sister Sledge. This update comes from the German/Italian trio of Piet Blank, Jaspa Jones, and Mike Francis.

I only recently learned about Nina Simone’s album “High Priestess of Soul” from 1966. She is accompanied by orchestra on all the songs, so it’s more lush than some of her better known music, but that singular voice is still front and center. To me it sounds like a moody 1960s film score. The arranger is Hal Mooney.

I could play Thievery Corporation and Nightmares on Wax in every mix – both were early inspirations for the Between Two Islands sound. Thievery Corporation’s 2014 album “Saudade” concentrates on their gentler side, as you might have guessed from the title. The Nightmares on Wax track comes from Shirley Bassey’s remix album, an experiment that could have gone very wrong but ended up sounding fresh and creative.

“That could have been me”, from Todd Rundgren’s excellent new album, is a meeting of two of the smartest people making pop music. Despite a 30 year age difference, Robyn and Todd are kindred spirits. This song reminds me of the pop-soul classics that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis made in the 1980s – “Let’s wait a while” by Janet Jackson, “Saturday love” by Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal, “Human” by The Human League, and so on. Of course Jam and Lewis were probably influenced by Todd’s pop-soul classics from the 70s.

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to work both Shuggie Otis and Belle & Sebastian into a mix. Here they are at last, back to back, with a surprisingly similar groove.

Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne has made two solo albums, as ambitious as the albums she makes with her band but also musically distinct. “Anymore” is a pop-disco treat from her first, released in 1997.

I stay on the dance floor, sort of, with the closing track by Steffi Doms, a Dutch producer-songwriter-DJ who has established herself as a major talent in the ultra-competitive Berlin club scene. Keeping in mind that Between Two Islands is the name of a Pet Shop Boys song, I confess that part of the appeal of this track is a beat that reminds me of “Being boring”!

Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.

1. Marcos Valle – Viagem
2. Blank & Jones with Mike Francis – Thinking of you
3. Larry Heard – Serene
4. Beach House – Lover of mine
5. Brad Mehldau with Joshua Redman – Sky turning grey
6. Nina Simone – Keeper of the flame
7. Thievery Corporation with Elin Melgarejo – Sola in citta
8. Gregory Isaacs – My number one
9. Shirley Bassey – Easy thing to do (Nightmares on Wax mix)
10. Todd Rundgren with Robyn – That could have been me
11. Harvey Sutherland and Bermuda – Expectations
12. Shuggie Otis – Inspiration information
13. Belle & Sebastian – If she wants me
14. Gabor Szabo – Witchcraft
15. Lizz Wright – Lean in
16. Caetano Veloso – Qualquer coisa
17. Sarah Cracknell – Anymore
18. Steffi – Pip