Chet Baker – Almost Blue (1988)

In 1983, British singer Elvis Costello, a longtime fan of Baker, hired the trumpeter to play a solo on his song “Shipbuilding”, from the album Punch the Clock. The song was a top 40 hit in the UK, and exposed Baker’s music to a new audience. Later, Baker often featured Costello’s song “Almost Blue” (inspired by Baker’s version of “The Thrill Is Gone”) in his live sets, and recorded the song on Let’s Get Lost, a documentary film about his life.


The Specials – What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend (1984)

In the Studio is the third album from the ska band The Specials, released in 1984 – long after the break-up of the original Specials – and only just managed to get into the UK Top 35. The album was released under the name ‘The Special AKA’ and, despite over 2 years in the making (hence the title), was not as commercially successful as their previous two albums although “(Free) Nelson Mandela” and “Racist Friend” became popular singles.

[via Klaus Lynggaard]

Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding (1982)

“Shipbuilding” is a song written by Elvis Costello (lyrics) and Clive Langer (music). Written during the Falklands War of 1982, Costello’s lyrics discuss the contradiction of the war bringing back prosperity to traditional shipbuilding areas of Merseyside (Cammell Laird), North East England (Swan Hunter) and Belfast (Harland and Wolff) to build new ships to replace those being sunk in the war, whilst also sending off the sons of these areas to fight and, potentially, lose their lives in those same ships. According to Clive Langer, he’d written the tune for Robert Wyatt but wasn’t happy with the lyrics that he had written himself. Langer played the tune to Costello at a party hosted by Nick Lowe, and within days Costello had written lyrics he described as “the best lyrics I’ve ever written”. Robert Wyatt released the song in 1982 and reached number 36 in the UK charts in May of the following year, marking the first ever UK Top 40 entry for Rough Trade Records. On the recording Wyatt is backed by Clive Langer (organ), Steve Nieve (piano), Mark Bedford (double bass), Martin Hughes (drums) and Elvis Costello (backing vocals).

A-side “Shipbuilding”:

B-side “Memories Of You”:

B-side “‘Round Midnight”:

Graham Parker – Hey Lord Don’t Ask Me Questions (1976)

Howlin’ Wind was the debut album by Graham Parker and The Rumour, released in 1976 to critical acclaim. The Rumour were mainly former pub rock scene musicians, including guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and keyboardist Bob Andrews of the band Brinsley Schwarz; Parker’s recent jobs included pumping gas at a filling station. The music is blend of rock and roll, R&B, reggae, and folk music, behind Parker’s searingly intelligent lyrics and passionate vocals. Critics likened Parker’s spirit to British punk rock, then in its early stage, and retrospectively to that of singer-songwriters Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, who would release their debut records within a few years of Howlin’ Wind. Many of the album’s songs became live staples for the group, especially the reggae-tinged “Don’t Ask Me Questions,” which dismisses a malevolent God.

[via Jan Fex]