Playlist 320 - July 22 2014 - Summer Songs

You've heard of a raindance. This is a kind of sundance set, a playlist dedicated to songs about, of and reminiscient of summer. (Much as I love Don Henley's 'The boys of summer', I'm thinking more outside the box than that for this playlist. 'Summer of 69' is right out.)

In here you will find nostalgic cuts (summers of the past), psych pop meanderings (summers of the imagination?), love songs, film music, plenty of soul and buckets of melody. There are also trumpets involved.

You'll find a blow by blow underneath, extra background and reasons why I picked these songs. They're divided into categories which are a little arbitrary. Also, because there was only room for 18 in the hour long show, I might post another set, part 2, later in the summer.

July 22 2014 Summer Songs Special w/Go Betweens,XTC,Serge & Jane,Crystals,Lee Hazlewood,Chills++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 320 – Summer Songs Special
Tues July 22 2014
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

The Crystals – Da doo ron ron
Martha & the Muffins – Echo Beach
The Go Betweens – Bye bye pride
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – 69 Année Erotique
Prefab Sprout – Bonny
The Beach Boys – Wild honey
The 5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let the sunshine in
XTC – Grass
The Flaming Lips – Race for the prize
Lee Hazlewood & Nina Lizell – Hey cowboy
Dionne Warwick – Do you know the way to San José?
Cousteau – Last good day of the year
Esquivel – Mucha Muchacha
The Zombies – Time of the season
Ry Cooder – Brothers (from the soundtrack of the film Paris, Texas)
Harper’s Bizarre – I come to the sunshine
Minnie Riperton – Les fleurs
The Chills – Double summer (playing Button Factory, Dublin, July 31)

*next week’s show is a Trunk Records Special and will feature music from Glenn Gould, Eden Ahbez & The Wicker Man soundtrack, among others

e-mail the show on
or text +353 (0)86-7839800
please mark messages “uoh”

Conor O'Toole,
c/o UCC 98.3FM,
Áras na Mac Léinn,
Student Centre,
University College Cork,


1. The Crystals – Da doo ron ron

We start with an absolute highpoint of popluar music, from 1963, recorded at Gold Star Studios in LA,– written by the peerless songwriting team of Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich, produced by Phil Spector, arranged by Jack Nitzsche, with Hal Blaine on drums. And of course the eternal voice of youth of Dolores La La Brooks. Something about the song screams the freedom and yearning of long summer nights when you’re a teenager. Those clip-clopping castanets could be the sound of teenage pulses racing.

2. Martha & the Muffins – Echo Beach

From 1980, a classic example of post punk infiltrating the pop mainstream, to the tune of no 10 on the UK singles chart. I seem to remember this song coming into our house on one of those pre-NOW chart compilations - I think 'Turning Japanese by The Vapours was on the same one so that was a pretty good year obviously.

There's a kind of sunny nostalgia here for a place and time in the past. The Echo Beach of the title is fictional but it's a symbol of anywhere we escape to from humdrum daily routine. 1980 also seems to have been a (happier) time before saxophone solos in pop songs became naff. This song was also covered later on one of his solo albums by Robert Forster of The Go Betweens...

3. The Go Betweens – Bye bye pride

From Tallulah, the 5th album by the band which tends not to receive as much love as their other albums from Go Betweens diehards. For me, it contains their best collection of songs.

It came out in 1987 but for me this song is all about the summer of 1991 which is when it came into my life. I was an impressionable 20 year old and this song made a lasting impression on me. Right from the vivid opening lines -

A white moon appears
Like a hole in the sky
The mangroves go quiet
In La Brisa de la Palma
A teenage rasputin
Takes the sting from a gin

Straightaway, that sticky, exotic atmosphere had me dreaming of the semi-tropical Antipodean climate...a little like Grant MacLennan dreaming of a heart “tied up and held for ransom”. Class songwriting at any time of the year.


4. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – 69 Année Erotique

The sound of a head-spinning love rush and head-splitting sunshine is implied, as is plenty of good old fashioned and pleasurable adult fumbling. The album containing this song, Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, is like the consummation of their relationship. And what a beautiful thing that is. As is that bassline, among many other things. Check also Mick Harvey’s translation for full lyrical appreciation.

5. Prefab Sprout – Bonny

The voice of the great Paddy McAloon, at his lovelorn best, from Steve McQueen in 1985, a year which brought Ireland something of a mini-heatwave. This album was my soundtrack to that summer as I grappled with adolescence - bush drinking, personal identity and what the fuck to talk to girls about. Extending the summer theme, this song also has a kind of sun-burnished atmosphere, courtesy of the exquisite production of Thomas Dolby.

6. The Beach Boys - Wild honey

The title track from the album of the same name, also a single from 1967. The Beach Boys were a band whose music seemed to occupy a permanent summer, so any number of songs could have made this list. This one has a stunning lead vocal by Carl Wilson and has a certain lustful, “in heat” quality which seems to add something unique to this set.

Psychedelic Pop

7. The 5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let the sunshine in

The height of the hippie dream, THE Summer of Love, but apart from that this is a high watermark of stoned soul, from a band supposedly set up as a black version of The Mamas & The Papas.

8. XTC – Grass

From the 1986 album Slylarking, there’s a wonderful giddy, childlike flavour to this song, aswell as a very appealing pastoral folk undertone. It's like the aural equivalent of doing downhill roly polys in a field in July (Andy Partridge actually does some of those in the video).

9. The Flaming Lips – Race for the prize

A song that ruled the airwaves, and my life, in the summer of 1999, from their classic album The Soft Bulletin. It's an unlikely tale of scientific rivalry. Other than that, all I can say is, what a drum sound.


10. Lee Hazlewood & Nina Lizell – Hey cowboy

That’s one of the most prolific writers and producers in pop music, from the Cowboy in Sweden album from 1970. That was the time Lee had exiled himself to that country. This song has an irresistible summer feel, mainly down to that breezy trumpet line and the clip clop rhythm...that’s even before they get to talking about the “land of the midnight sun”. Gorgeous.

11. Dionne Warwick – Do you know the way to San José

From 1968 written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David, I think of this as the dark heart of summer, that melancholy that Hal David specialised in and which Burt Bacharach disguised brilliantly with that signature swooning string, brass and organ arrangement. You can feel the sweat turning cold on the skin of the song’s protagonist.

12. Cousteau – Last good day of the year

From 2000, featuring singer Liam McKahey from Cork, what a voice. The song is almost like an update of the Dionne Warwick classic, the trumpet and strings arrangement could even be a Bacharach homage. The ending of summer. A bittersweet memory. (Actually I’ve just spotted that the song may in fact be about autumn but let’s not let that get in the way of a good playlist and a great pop song.)

Hot & Sticky

13. Esquivel – Mucha muchacha

An authentic flavour of Mexico by the genius composer and bandleader from the Latinesque album of 1962 (Esquivel's version of 'All of me' is the theme tune of my show). I’m picturing a sultry summer night, a space age bachelor pad, sports jackets, frilly dresses, and drinks with fruits in them.

14. The Zombies – Time of the season

Another one from the first summer of love, 1968, and a song that will forever be associated with summer in this country since its use in a certain cider ad. But apart from that, there’s something seething and steaming about the song - that backing vocal exhalation, the improvised organ solo, those guitar stabs, they all say STICKY. In fact, a little bit filthy all round, for such nice looking boys.

15. Ry Cooder – Brothers

Some classic film music from Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1985), starring the great Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski. A film about the breakdown of a relationship under a neverending, unforgiving sun. A cruel summer, if you will.

Unashamedly Joyous

16. Harper’s Bizarre – Come to the sunshine

Written by the great Van Dyke Parks, with a sweet arrangement reminiscient of the man. If ever a song deserved the term “sunshine pop” it's this.

17. Minnie Riperton – Les fleurs

Mindblowing stuff from Ms Riperton's 1970 album Come to my garden. There's an ineffable quality to it, like fluff blown off a dandelion and floating in the air. It's just a song that brings to mind nothing but meadows and flowers and sunshine...possibly hallucinogens too.

18. The Chills – Double summer

To finish, a band I fell in love with in 1992 via their killer Soft bomb album. Written by main Chill Martin Phillips, it's a winning combination of melody, sentiment and weather. Perfect guitar pop doesn’t come any more sincere and moving than this.

Here goes double summer
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