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Looking for the perfect music to take on your trips? Here, our very own TuneSmith, DJ Rob Wood, compiler of the Mr & Mrs Smith: Something for the Weekend CDs, makes his essential monthly recommendations…



phenomenal-handclap-bandThe Phenomenal Handclap Band
by The Phenomenal Handclap Band

When? You’re on the road to your first festival of the year.
Why? This is good-time funk rock that will induce mass breakouts of spontaneous sing-alongs.

Have you ever wondered what would the ultimate band sound like? Well they would certainly need some irresistible live drumming, incredibly funky bass, loud rock guitar riffs, a sprinkling of disco hooks, boy/girl vocals with plenty of soul, a dash of electro, and, of course, at least one band member with a very large Afro hair cut. Ideally they would be from Brooklyn and be partial to incorporating the odd 1970s-era rap à la ‘Rapture’. Clearly that would be the ultimate band. Thankfully, Afro aside, the Phenomenal Handclap Band are all this and more. They are indeed something of a ‘supergroup’, using talents taken from across New York’s underground music scene –making them easily the coolest thing since mashed potato. Sounding like Giorgio Moroder live on stage with Tom Tom Club and Grandmaster Flash can be no bad thing. Rumours of their ‘spiritual’ live shows can be confirmed at Fabric in London on 3 July when they reach these shores for the first time. Make no mistake, though, this album will play a crucial part in the soundtrack to summer 2009. Phenomenal indeed, and totally exciting.


by The Specials

When? You want to revisit a youth well-spent.
Why? This authentic blast from the past has lost none of its credibility or energy.

Having finally succumbed to reforming, albeit minus songwriter/keyboardist Jerry Dammers, the Specials should in no way be denied their right to remind people why they were one of the most important bands in the UK. Taking the intensity of punk and marrying it with the rhythms of 1960s ska music from Jamaica, this album not only gave birth to its own 2Tone youth movement, but it was also utterly enthralling and a major musical innovation. Very much Coventry’s proudest product, they covered the songs they loved – such as Dandy Livingstone’s ‘A Message To You Rudy’ – and penned their own material, which hammered home the harsh reality of turbulent, late-1970s Britain. Alongside the singles ‘Gangsters’ and later ‘Ghost Town’, the album Specials was their defining moment. Produced by Elvis Costello, the ska horns and raw bouncing energy of tracks such as ‘Nite Club’ ensured a legacy that is in every way deserved.

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