FEATURE: Helen McCookerybook – Bunch Of Fives | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle born Helen McCookerybook brings her acoustically led songs of love and politics to Live Theatre on Thursday 28th September supporting Laura Cortese And The Dance Cards. Before that, she joined us for a new Bunch Of Fives and told us her five top tracks. Over to you Helen…

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
I love this track- it’s got everything a good song should have- simplicity, freshness, energy, and infectious melody and a lot of meaning in the lyrics. If I could have written a song like this, I think I would have felt that my life was complete. Strangely, a lot of her other music seems just too complex to me. What is so lovely about this is that she almost seems to be making it up on the spot, every time she sings it.

Shark by Katy Carr
I have known Katy since she first started out as a folktronica artist and this is one of her earliest tracks, recorded with the guys from Herbaliser. It has a great shuffling rhythm and sometimes when I’m DJ-ing I play this and people come racing over to ask what it is. I love the sound of Rhodes pianos and the Rhodes is right at the heart of this song. Plus it has that ‘Lovely Day’ challenge of trying to sing along with Katy without taking a breath. Gets me every time!

Oh Bondage, Up Yours by X-Ray Spex
Poly Styrene is the most inspirational person for my generation. Her singing is a sort of tamed yell (she was actually a really good singer) and in this track she expresses the fury and frustration of a whole generation of angry young people, and especially the women.
The wild screaming sax, the bashing drums: it’s a good thumping for everyone who oppresses young people and tries to cage their energy.

N.I.T.A. by Young Marble Giants
This is a gorgeous simple track, a break-up song that really means it. I saw the band live at The Royall Festival Hall in London a couple of years back and they were just as good as ever. The almost creepy pacing of this makes my hair stand on end: it’s also something to do with the dinky-sounding electronic instruments set against the harsh sounds of the guitar and bass.

Elvis Presley Sun Sessions: Heartbreak Hotel
I love the power of this: it was recorded just at the cusp of hillbilly and gospel music beginning to merge together before rock’n’roll was born. Although it plods along compared to some of his other Sun tracks, you can still here the power of the performances. I’m not surprised his baby left him, because he sounds really scary. There are no drums, either, and you hardly notice that they’re not there.

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