It’s all about the heat – or at least we hope it will be. But should a summer soundtrack cool the fevered brow during baking hot city commutes; or stir one to love and passion on foreign beaches; or provide a fitting background to a lazy picnic by a babbling brook or al fresco suppers as the day (hopefully) cools?
It is May-June releases that have traditionally provided the pop soundtrack for our summers. One of the first was Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” in 1958; and ten years later The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” perfectly captured Manhattan’s scorching summers. This year the talk is that Mariah Carey’s “E=MC2″ is going to be the album of summer ‘08 – but we’ll have to wait for next year to see whether we remember this year as Mariah’s year. Gentry has plumped for the tried and tested and this eclectic mix of rock, pop, classical, RnB and jazz aims to keep you both cool and hot as the weather dictates.
5. Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones
“Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy” – but this summer those feet will likely as not be hurrying along to Whitehall offices or corporate boardrooms. However, when Mick reputedly swooped down from his Chelsea aerie into Grosvenor Square to see what all the fuss was about his conclusion was that “in sleepy London town there’s just no place for a street fighting man.” This 1995 “accoustic” concert captures an energy and vibrancy that should rouse you from a hot sleepless night to venture forth to earn your daily bread.
4. LDN – Lilly Allen
With two releases in 2006, LDN yielded two distinct videos either of which will hopefully bring a smile to your face. Based on a sample from “Reggae Meringue” by the early-60s Jamaican band The Skatalites, LDN cleverly conjures up the crazy mixed-up London that equally fascinates and infuriates its residents. But if Ms Allen doesn’t quite do it for you she might lead you deeper into Ska (Jimmy Cliff and I Can See Clearly Now) and thence to the 2-Tone bands of the 80’s (Madness, Fun Boy Three, Bananarama).
3. Summer from “The Four Seasons” – Antonio Vivaldi
This glorious music will fill those languid days when one’s mind refuses to be still in dog days of summer; for while its opening captures the fierce heat of the northern Italian plains, the concluding allegro portrays a thunderously destructive storm. If the languorous days of summer deter one from sufficient preparation for the coming autumn then Vivaldi will rouse one to action. Alternatively, you can ditch Vivald’s Four Seasons for Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons recreated on the West End stage in the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys”.
2. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
Beyoncé‘s first solo album Dangerously in Love introduces sixteen songs of hot summer RnB but it’s this opening track that uniquely that captures everything a man could want from a summer romance. When it’s too hot to dance these two singers will get you on your feet. So whether you are discovering a brand new love, rekindling a current affair or just hoping that cupid’s arrow will find your heart this has got be the song that expresses everything that is fabulous about tumbling totally, chaotically and madly in love.
1. Concierto de Aranjuez – Miles Davis
As Miles Davis once said, “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets”. Joaquin Rodrigo composed the original concerto for guitar in 1939 but Miles Davis tender horn playing wonderfully evokes the blistering dry heat of central Spain. If Spanish jazz seems a contradiction in terms then it is worth remembering that New Orleans was once a Spanish city and the architecture of the original French Quarter principally dates from that period. Taking the concerto as a starting point Davis and composer/arranger Gil Evans developed an entire album of Spanish influenced jazz Sketches of Spain that since its 1960 release has become one of the classic albums in any genre.
Mr. Peter Delaunay