1)AUTOPSY (Fairport Convention): I discovered this on the Saint Etienne compilation The Trip, which has some wonderful gems including this one. I love the changes of pace here and the guitar work.
2)SNOW QUEEN (Roger Nicholas And The Small Circle Of Friends): Also from The Trip. Written by Goffin and King, don't know anything about the people who sang it, but a great song and performance.
3)CAN'T FIND THE TIME (Orpheus): A third and final number from The Trip, this has a gorgeous romantic arrangement with horns and strings that I am always a sucker for. Orpheus were a Sunshine pop outfit from the late 60s who have been compared to the Association and Fifth Dimension; I should probably check them out a bit more as it sounds just like my scene!
4)I'll GROW STRONGER (Ballroom) I got the whole Magic Time 3CD Ballroom/Millennium collection on the basis of being recommended to Beach Boys/Sunshine Pop etc. fans. I wasn't totally blown away, but there are some very nice bits, like this song which has a great melody and a slightly quirly arrangement that works very well.
5)GOLDEN (A Girl Called Eddy): A Girl Called Eddy's debut album was one of the highlights of 2004, and this is probably the highlight of the album (although there is some strong competition on the album). Described as a Goodbye To Love for the 2000s, it is powerful, beautiful, sad and moving.
6)THE RIGHT TIME (Karnataka): Got this album on the strength of the group's assocation with the October Project -they performed together in New York. Just a very pretty tune that build up nicely -although 7 minutes long, it doesn't feel too drawn out either.
7)GOODBYE FOREVER(The Association): Also got the Association's Just The Right Sound, after just having the standard greatest hits from this group. Of the songs I hadn't heard before, this probably stood out the most -nice pop song, and quite up-tempo, despite the title.
8)SIDE STREETS (Saint Etienne): Aside from their recent compilations of other people's songs (The Trip and Songs For Mario's Cafe,Saint Etienne have also released quite a bit of new material, including a great new album Tales From Turnpike House plus B-sides, extra EPs etc. Lots of great new songs, but this, the first single from Turnpike House is the best, a great tune, with a fantastic arrangement. It should have been UK#1. In fact, if there is a judgement day, I think one of the questions people should answer is why they didn't buy this single. It's that good.
9)TEENAGE WINTER (Saint Etienne): The other great song from Turnpike House, this is half-sung and half-spoken, with a brilliant instrumental break.
10)SONG ABOUT TRAVELING(Innocence Mission): A group who can make the mundane sound spiritual. Includes some great lines such as "Itís the people in the cities youíll never know, it is everything you pass by,wondering will you ever return."
11)BEACH BOYS BRIT (Alan Boyd): A great recreation of the Beach Boys sound by a real friend to the group.
12)THANK HIM (Beach Boys): I'm a sucker for the early Beach Boys romantic sound, and this gem in the Beach Boys unreleases archive is another treasure in that genre.
13)MALIBU SUNSET (Brian Wilson and Friends): Another unreleased gem in that early romantic style. This is a very rough demo, but there is a great tune sitting in there.
14)TRANSATLANTICISM(Death Cab For Cutie): Very nice song from a much more recent group -there is still good music out there!
15)A FEW THOUSAND DAYS AGO (Swan Dive): From their 2004 album William & Marlys. Very evocative music and lyrics.
16)SLEEPER (Swan Dive): Actually a bonus track from William & Marlys, this is reflective of the overall high quality of Swan Dive's music.
17)THIS IS WHERE I CAME IN (Thelma Houston): No relation to Whitney, this was on an album written and produced by Jimmy Webb in 1969 called Sunshower. Brilliant songs and brilliant singing..makes you realise how terrible R&B music has become in the 2000s. This is a great "lost love" song.
18)A POCKETFUL OF KEYS (Thelma Houston): Another dose from Sunshower, this is a carefully observed song from Jimmy Webb, showing both his lyrical and musical talents.
19)ALYCE BLUE GOWN (Jimmy Webb): The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress was a limited edition box set released this year, bringing out all of Jimmy Webb's 70s albums on CD. Land's End was probably the best of those albums, and this is a great song from that album, with some nice tempo changes.
20)HIGHPOCKETS (Jimmy Webb): Also from the Jimmy Webb, also nice tempo changes!
21)FREEFALL (Burt Bacharach): Something Big is another recent limited edition box set that covers all of Burt Bacaharach's albums with A&M. This is an obscure instrumental that showcases for me the melodic genius of Bacharach as well as his arranging skills.
22)THE DANCING FOOL (Burt Bacharach): Another great instrumental from Something Big
23)ETTA'S THEME (Burt Bacharach): A third from Something Big. A bit of a cheat as it is a variation of the Not Goin' Home Anymore/Come Touch The Sun theme from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid which I have had in my collection for some years, but this version was previously unreleased and it is such a great theme.