By writing this I’m not aiming to assert any musical knowledge prowess or illustrate how non-mainstream I am for listening to old music. I am merely trying to acknowledge the musicians who may be easily looked over by young people today due to the artists being from so many years ago. I strongly urge you to trust my words, as the following musicians are some of histories finest. They are in no particular ranking or order but here are my five music recommendations.
1. Kate Bush
I know I did say that this wasn’t in any order, but there is only one place to start the list and that is with Kate Bush. My favourite singer and, in my opinion, the finest female singer music has to offer Kate Bush is one of the most talented, strange and unique artists I’ve ever encountered. With her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1979 Bush became and remained a superstar for the incredible and diverse music she makes. Anyone who has read the novel of the same name that inspired her song knows that it is one of the most complex and romantically tragic books in all of literature. Kate Bush managed to capture this within the sphere of her four-minute song.
This set a precedent for her entire career as she continued to make diversely inspired, masterfully arranged and heavenly to listen to music, addressing and being inspired by topics as ranged as the Vietnam war, being lost at sea and the colour blue. The Queen of avant-garde and a representation of everything wonderful about British music, Bush will always be my favourite and I’m positive if more young people listen to her albums and focus on the music she crafts, they’ll love her too. My song recommendations: Them Heavy People, Symphony In Blue, Running Up That Hill and Oh To Be In Love.
2. Fleetwood Mac
If you were to play Fleetwood Mac’s most famous songs to a group of people, most of them will recognise and know them. Rightly so, those songs are incredible. But if you delve into their albums and carry on listening to their wide range of songs, you will discover one of the finest gems in music’s crown. In terms of musical talent, Fleetwood Mac know what they are doing.
Their 1977 album ‘Rumours’ is and will always be one of the greatest albums of all time, capturing emotion and heartache in the form of beautifully melodic and masterfully instrumental songs. Their success in creating some of the loveliest and calmingly heavenly music continues in their other albums. Play their music when you’re lying on the grass on a wonderfully sunny day and the melodies they provide and the lyrics they sing will match and compliment the mood perfectly.
That is what Fleetwood Mac do so well, they simply just make nice music but in a masterfully executed way and more young people should listen to them for that reason. My song recommendations: Gypsy, You Make Loving Fun, Big Love and Wish You Were Here.
ELO or Electric Light Orchestra are unlike most bands from their era and today. Responsible for that well-known song ‘Mr. Blue Sky’, ELO are one the most instrumentally diverse, talented and complex bands you will ever listen to. They are a rock band but also, as their name suggests, a music group who provide symphonies in every one of their songs due to the electronic sound created by the genius of its multi-instrumentalist members.
Their songs and their impressive albums, particularly their 1977 album ‘Out of the Blue’, reach and go beyond the quality and range of ‘Mr. Blue Sky’, a justifiably popular hit but, in my opinion, not representative of their immense musical talent. A humble band from Birmingham whose initial reception was one of sneering dismissal soon rocketed to fame and became loved by millions. If you listen to them, you will see why. Making masterfully arranged and intricately layered music in the form of upbeat and joyous rock songs, ELO should not be allowed to fade away into musical history.
If more young people listen to them, they will love and adore them just as much as I do and continue a musical legacy that is one of the most individual and impressive in all of rock music. My song recommendations: Strange Magic, Wishing, Starlight and Evil Woman.
4. The Beatles
I, of course, can see why this seems like an obvious suggestion that doesn’t need to be made clear. Everyone knows who The Beatles are and most people like or love them. But what I think needs to be said, especially to those who aren’t of the same generation as them, is that The Beatles are far more varied, unique and revolutionary than their mainstream image. Their early rock and roll dancey songs like ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ are of course wonderful and should be played at every club and party.
However, because it’s these that we always hear, it’s often that it is this image and this sound, as well as a few highlights from their later work that we all know and love like ‘Let It Be’, that people associate The Beatles with. I was one of these people myself up until recently but then I gave them a proper listen. When you explore and go deeper into all their albums you will discover some of the most refined and perfectly crafted not just songs, but pieces of music. It’s a real skill to be able to make complex, intricate and unique musical arrangements for them to also be so lovely and easy to listen and sing along to.
The Beatles do this with faultless ease. Once you go through their archive and give them the intense listening to they deserve, you will see what all the fuss is about and why everyone is still always talking about them. My song recommendations: Norwegian Wood, She Said She Said, Honey Pie and Cry Baby Cry.
A sister and brother musical duet from the ’70s, the Carpenters are responsible for some of the most beautiful, relaxing and angelic songs I’ve ever listened to. Through the quaint lyrics and skilled arrangements of Richard, alongside the perfectly in-tune and stunningly breezy voice of his sister Karen, the Carpenters are the epitome of easy listening. Any environment from a rainy afternoon indoors, a car journey or a warm summer evening, can be made that bit more special, calm and relaxing with the Carpenters music.
They summarise all that is right with pure and simple music from the past; undeniable musical talent, simple yet stunning lyrics and a voice to carry it all through with effortless ease. Karen Carpenter, in my opinion, has one of the nicest female voices in musical history and it is that which makes their songs so easy to listen to whilst being so impressive to wander in and adore. As soon as you listen to them, they’ll become instantly familiar and recurring in the music you play, the Carpenters just have that rare skill of making you want to listen to them as often as possible and more young people should get on board with this.
My song recommendations: Reason To Believe, You’re Enough, This Masquerade and I Won’t Last A Day Without You.