Welcome to the latest in there series of Keep Colchester Cool inviting local faces to provide us with their top ten tracks of all time returns.
There are no rules, some will explain why they’ve chosen particular tracks; other’s won’t. Either way, it promises to provide an insight into what has influenced some of our local heroes over the years.
Ahead of The Judith Charmers acoustic tribute to David Bowie “The Prettiest Starman” taking place at Three Wise Monkeys this Sunday, 28th February we thought we’d find out a lot more about Anton Pace, followed by his top ten tracks…
Anton, ‘baby’ brother of Colchester singing legend Kate Pace (Christy Lee Band, Luigi, Private Collection, Short People, solo), has been active on the local music scene for around 40 years, in (or guesting with) various bands including The Fabs, The 45 Men, The Crossing (1980s), Distant Sun (with Carl Seager in the 90s), Luigi (1980s), the Steve Linton band, Private Collection (with sister Kate), Tunnel of Love (70s soul/funk), Expansions (80s jazz/funk outfit), Chunky (70s/80s cover band ), Vogue (80s/New Romantic project with Paul Rutterford and Keith Lynch), The Gents (acoustic trio with Rutt and Nelson Surfquake…) and probably a few others he’s forgotten about. He currently plays all over the country as lead singer/rhythm guitarists with classic rockabilly outfit, Race with the Devil, but his heart belongs to The Judith Charmers, Colchester-based acoustic duo (with life-long friend Paul Rutterford), formed in the mid 90s and still performing 20+ years later.
Anton’s top ten is an attempt to identify his favourites from a wide spectrum of musical tastes, but would probably be entirely different if he performed the exercise next week… Given the sad events of January 10th 2016 and Anton’s 40 year love affair with the music of David Bowie, this top ten could easily have been currently made up entirely of tracks by the Dame, but in the interests of variety, he’s tried to think beyond that and make sense of his diverse record collection. Enjoy!
1. Life on Mars? (David Bowie, 1971)
Well, there was always going to be at least one Bowie track in this listing. In 1968, the then-unknown DB was asked by his music publisher to write English lyrics for a 1967 French song ‘Comme d’habitude’. His version, Even a Fool Learns to Love, was “rejected out of hand, quite rightly, I feel,” [DB] and was never recorded. The lyrics provided by Paul Anka did, however, see the light of day and resulted in the multi-million selling hit for Frank Sinatra, ‘My Way’. David reworked the chords of the French song and turned it into Life on Mars? The liner notes for the track on the brilliant Hunky Dory album included the note “inspired by Frankie” (referring of course to Frank Sinatra). Utterly beautifully put together and performed – Bowie has surely never sung better and Rick Wakeman’s piano is ‘key’ to the track’s success – this song never fails to move me (the video always makes me cry) and transport me back to the early 70s. Just perfect.
2. Since I Don’t Have You (The Skyliners, 1958)
I became familiar (and fell in love) with this song through repeated viewings of the classic 1973 film American Graffiti . It’s just a perfect ‘torch song’ and a great example of the more sentimental side of the 50s doo-wop genre. Lead singer Jimmy Beaumont had one of the truly get voices of this era and his performance on this track is just beautiful. I can’t imagine creating a 50s mix tape (ok, playlist!) and not including this sublime piece of work on it.
3. Girlfriend in a Coma (The Smiths, 1987)
I love The Smiths and am equally keen on the solo output of Morrissey. Yes, I know he can be a depressing bugger, and I guess the subject matter of this song IS depressing and sad… but, I find the contradiction between the sombre lyrics and the track’s light and playful musical accompaniment utterly irresistible. 2’18” of brilliant pop. I always play this track twice in a row when I listen to it… once is never enough – and not just because it’s so short!
4. Sing Sing Sing (Benny Goodman, 1937)
Written (and first recorded) by the utterly brilliant Louis Prima in 1936, Benny Goodman’s version is just one of the most exciting pieces of instrumental music ever recorded. I’m a big fan of big band era material, and this is a brilliant demonstration of how exciting ‘that many instruments’ playing in perfect concert with one another can be (how amazing it would have been to see this being performed live). Featuring the amazing Gene Krupa on drums, Harry James and Ziggy Elman on trumpet and, of course, the silkily smooth clarinet of Mr Goodman, this track will, for me, be forever associated with dancing: my partner Biddy and I, along with like-minded family and friends, often attend retro evenings, where a regular highlight is doing the Charleston Stroll to all 8’43” of this amazing piece of music. Exhausting, but just too much fun – I recommend it if you want to lose a bit of weight!
5. Satellite of Love (Lou Reed, 1972)
From Lou Reed’s brilliant Transformer album, this is a gorgeous piece of music which owes much to the involvement of David Bowie. Lou Reed’s performance is right on the money – he’s out of tune occasionally and delivers the song in his customary lazy drawl – but Bowie’s production and performance on backing vocals are probably what make this track the little slice of Heaven it turned out to be. I will never tire of this track – the intermingling of the various vocal lines and themes at the end of the track thrills me to this day every time I listen to it.
6. Follow That Dream (Elvis Presley, 1961)
Written for the 1962 Elvis movie of the same name, ‘Follow that Dream’ is an utterly joyous piece of Presley perfection which never fails to lift my spirits if I’m ever feeling a bit down. Elvis is one of my biggest musical heroes and, to be honest, this is one of any number of his releases which I could have selected. Although it’s his earlier 1950s Sun Records-era recordings that I would usually cite as his best period, one thing I love about this track is how it sums up Elvis’ amazing life in the core of the lyric. It was clearly composed as no more than a happy love song really, but when I listen to it, it reminds me how Elvis was born with a dream of a life in the spotlight, which he absolutely followed with purpose and energy to achieve the recognition he fully deserved.
7. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (Elvis Costello, 1977)
Elvis Costello is a genius. There is so much of his material that I have loved across his lengthy career that it was hard choosing just one of his tracks, but I think ‘Red Shoes’ demonstrates so much of what makes him great: brilliant musical composition, idiosyncratic delivery and a wicked ability with lyrics. The line I said “I’m so happy I could die”, She said “Drop dead” then left with another guy makes me laugh out loud whenever I hear it. I’m currently working my way through his brilliant autobiography ‘Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink’ which I heartily recommend.
8. I’m Every Woman (Chaka Khan, 1978)
Oh Chaka – how I loved this woman in the late 70s! Both how she looked and how she sang. I had already been a fan of Rufus – a great band, but I think it was her voice that made this band the seminal outfit they undoubtedly were – and her solo performances lost nothing of the brilliance of the group offerings. Taken from her first solo album Chaka, I’m Every Woman is first and foremost just an incredible vocal performance – she really should be lauded right up there with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Dinah Washington… perhaps she is. This is one of those songs that transports me back to a place and time in my life filled with great memories – just brilliant.
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana, 1991)
This track knocked me off my feet when I first heard it. The earlier 1980s offerings associated with the ‘grunge’ genre by the likes of Soundgarden and the Pixies had pretty much passed me by, but this track was utterly unavoidable. I’ll never forget my fellow EMI Records press offer Lee Haynes handing me a Sub Pop promo cassette of ‘the ‘Nevermind’ album and saying “You gotta listen to this, Anton – it will blow your mind”. It really did. I recently bought the album on vinyl to enjoy it once again in all its glory (no idea what happened to my original copy). The whole album is genius and epitomises the majesty of the punk/metal fusion that became a big part of my music scene in the early 90s. RIP Kurt Cobain – I so wish I’d see him perform live.
10. Hello, Goodbye (The Beatles, 1967)
Impossible to leave The Beatles out of a Top 10 – I can add nothing to what has already been said about this band and the incredible song writing talents of Messrs Lennon and McCartney. Suffice it to say that they changed popular music for ever and their influence continues to be heard on new bands to this day, 50 years after they emerged. Staggering. This may not be their most adventurous composition or performance, but it epitomises for me what made them great. From the first time you hear this song, you know it intimately – like it’s always been there in your mind waiting to be heard. True genius.
The show at Three Wise Monkey’s this Sunday is free entry and coincides with Anton’s birthday. Come along!