As a teenager I had a slightly different relationship with music to most of my class mates. While everyone else seemed to be in the thrall of Oasis, I was more interested in Dixieland jazz. You know the kind of thing: ‘Down by the Riverside’, ‘Alabama Stomp’, ‘The Charleston’ and ‘St James’ Infirmary Blues’.
My favourite, by far, was a tune by Jelly Roll Morton which went by the name of ‘Billy Goat Stomp’ – complete, of course, with goat noises and the cry of ‘Get that goat outta here!’.
This kind of prohibition era jazz has an infectious quality to it: the garage band rock of its day, I suppose. It’s raw and raucous and touches the part of your soul that needs to get up and dance, let your hair down and completely forget all your troubles.
I’m far from an expert on the subject but – as with lots of people’s relationship with a lot of art: I know what I like.
This sub-genre of jazz hasn’t gone unnoticed by pedlars of contemporary pop and rock. Back in 1997, White Town hit the number one spot with ‘Your Woman’ featuring a sample of Al Bowlly’s ‘My Woman’.
Three years earlier one-hit-wonders Doop had released an eponymous tune which lifted the rhythms of ‘The Charleston’ hook, line and – quite positively – sinker for its own not entirely nefarious purposes.
Fast forward to 2015 and we find ourselves embracing the enticing genre of ‘Electro-Swing’. In particular, if we head to Paris in that year, we’ll find – somewhere or other – Caravan Palace, progenitors of the non-alpha-numerically (but ever so aesthetically pleasingly) named album <I°_°I>.
Side one, track one of the aforementioned is ‘Lone Digger’, a marvel of echoe-y clarinets and electro beats. I dare you not to dance – or at least wiggle your bottom ever so slightly to it. I have written about this song – and the album from which it comes – at no little length before.
Despite some rather fierce competition from the likes of Blur, Bjork and John Grant, Caravan Palace’s LP (and this song in particular) represents the definitive sound of 2015 – for this music lover at least – not least due to the stark contrast between the sheer joy expressed in this French outfit’s music and the absolute horror that manifested itself in the Batalcan venue that year.
That raw, passionate, raucousness – the glorious stuff of humanity at its splendid simplest – that comes out of tunes like ‘Lone Digger’ is but a simple example of the kind of thing that makes us normal people – the kind of people that don’t take twisted fascistic pleasure in annihilating others – us.
Listen to ‘Lone Digger’ and love, love, love it.