April 3, 2014 by Craig McAllister
This feature originally appeared in our sister blog, Plain Or Pan:
Six Of The Best is a semi-regular feature that pokes, prods and persuades your favourite bands, bards and barometers of hip opinion to tell us six of the best tracks they’ve ever heard. The tracks could be mainstream million-sellers or they could be obfuscatingly obscure, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria set is that, aye, they must be Six of the Best. Think of it like a mini, groovier version of Desert Island Discs…
Daniel Wylie is a solo artist best-known as the honey-toned vocalist in Glasgow’s Cosmic Rough Riders, a jinglin’, janglin’ bona fide turn of the century Top 40 chart group, with Top Of The Pops appearances and support slots to some of the biggest acts in the World under their belt. If Cosmic Rough Riders and their influences were a question on Pointless, high scores would be awarded all round for references to the 4 Bs – Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys and Big Star – the mother lode of West of Scotland guitar bands. The smart answers would be on the less obvious; 70s lovers’ rock reggae. Jazz-influenced AOR artists. Contemporary bands. All perhaps obvious once heard, but not the first artists that spring to mind whenever you choose to give essential CRR compilation Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine a wee spin.
Being like a potted history of all their best bits, smash hit Revolution (In The Summertime) (#35 with a bullet) is as good a place to start as any if you’re unfamiliar with their work, where every song appears to have been written, recorded and placed on a timeline anytime between July and August. Daniel and his band’s inter-woven 3 part harmonies and chiming guitars created the unmistakable sound of summer. Nothing new, of course. Plenty of bands, especially in this part of Scotland, seem particularly au fait with this concept, but the Cosmic Rough Riders were one of the finest.
What’s perhaps most surprising about Cosmic Rough Riders is that the ‘band’ was essentially Daniel and some hired help. Think Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera. Or Matt Johnson/The The. Nothing new, really. Even The Smiths on paper were really only Morrissey and Marr. And those ‘inter-woven 3 part harmonies’? Live, Daniel would sing along to his pre-recorded harmonies whilst his band of hired help mimed in best ‘Live On Top Of The Pops’ fashion. Aye! Why? Well, after Alan McGee showed interest in signing him, Daniel hastily put together a band that would enable him to play his songs live. Duly signed there and then, as a band rather than solo artist, Daniel found himself in a situation of Spinal Tap proportions when his new bandmates began demanding royalties for records they hadn’t initially played on. Daniel quickly and quietly left, leaving Cosmic Rough Riders to eek it out, with ever-decreasing returns.
In the intervening years, Daniel has done what he does best. He writes and records regularly and has amassed loads of material. “Enough good stuff for twenty more albums without dropping quality“. His 4th solo outing, Fake Your Own Death will be on sale at all his upcoming gigs. He might even sign a copy for you. In the meantime, you can listen to assorted tracks via YouTube. One of the best, Everything I Give You, wears its influences proudly on its plaid-shirted sleeve (music by REM, harmonies by CSNY). It’s terrific. I think you’ll like it :
Daniel has picked 6 great tunes as his Six Of The Best:
Elizabeth Archer & The Equators – Feel Like Makin’ Love (Dub Version)
I’m a massive fan of 60′s and 70′s pop reggae. I heard this on John Peel’s show one night and had to order it from Bruces Records in Glasgow. He told me 16 people had ordered this hard to find single. Some years later, I heard Edwyn Collins mention it among his favourite records and how, after hearing it on John Peel’s show, he ordered it from Bruces Records. I met Edwyn a couple of years ago and we spoke about how he was one of the 16 and how great this single is.
R.E.M. – Perfect Circle
Not only my favourite R.E.M. song but also Michael Stipe’s favourite. Like on Nightswimming, the beautiful piano motif was written by ex drummer Bill Berry. What a loss he was to the band. When he left, he left a massive void that no one managed to fill.
Band Of Horses – Detlef Schrempf
I love Neil Young and lots of Band Of Horses songs remind me of classic 70′s Neil Young. This is a beautiful melancholic tune that compares favourably with another great Neil Young influenced band, My Morning Jacket’s best work.
Steely Dan – Only A Fool Would Say That
Acerbic and sometimes sarcastic lyrics, were Steely Dan trademarks. They managed to dress them up in amazing tunes and great arrangements, making the perfect package for intellectual music fans around the world…or you might just like the tune.
John Martyn – Fine Lines
John Martyn is an English songwriter who was schooled and brought up in Glasgow by his Gran. He went to Shawlands Acadamy and learned his trade in the folk clubs of Glasgow where he was taught to play guitar by among others, folk legend, Hamish Imlach. Whilst he started out as a folkie, he followed in the footsteps of Joni Mitchell by embracing a more Jazz oriented style. “Fine Lines”, is a transitional song from his mostly experimental album “Inside Out.” A song on which he manages to “touch your soul.”
Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light
Todd Rundgren, is revered by musicians in the same way that Brian Wilson, is. His skills as a songwriter, producer, musician and singer, are up there with the very best. It was a difficult choice between this song and “Hello It’s Me”, but I heard this on the radio when I was around 14 years old and at 54 years old, I’m still listening to it and loving it just as much as when I first heard it all those years ago.
Daniel Wylie plays the HAC in Irvine on Friday 11th April.
Support comes from local up-and-comers Mojo Cams.
A fiver entry! Don’t you dare miss it now!
Listen to tracks and keep up to date with all things Daniel-related via his My Space page. (Shhh! It’s not that up to date).
Or listen to a selection of his songs via Daniel Wylie Radio.
Or buy his music via iTunes. Go! Now!