Thursday, 1 July 2010

Clandestine Classic V - Cuban Slide

The fifth post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

Today, a b-side from everyone's favourite 70s Anglo-US hybrid, The Pretenders. Formed in 1978 and and fronted by Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders have weathered a lot of storms but are still going strong - they were excellent at Latitude last year and their last album, Break Up The Concrete, garnered excellent reviews (including this one, oddly, from genre-fiction master Stephen King) - their best effort for 20 years, some were saying. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, my older brother was a big Blondie fan, for musical and (I suspect) hormonal reasons. Then, as now, I much preferred brunettes, and so it was Hynde who drew my attention.

What's the first record you bought? I mean, actually properly bought, by which I mean you went to the record shop (without your parents), rifled through the racks, selected a record and paid for it with your own money. In other words, you have to discount records that were given to you, or that were bought for you. My subconscious mind is probably forgetting something by Abba for the purposes of making me feel cooler than I actually am, but I think the first record I actually properly bought for myself was Talk Of The Town by The Pretenders, a song I still love today, with its meandering guitar line and the variety of expression in Chrissie's voice. It's one of The Pretenders' best known songs - hardly clandestine. But its b-side is a hidden gem. Cuban Slide is, as I think Hynde once described it, the Pretenders' Bo Diddley number, with an elementary riff that nevertheless burrows its way into your musical soul. And its refrain, with the line "I want to dance, but my feet won't let me" would come to resonate with me more and more as life moved on, through teenage parties, nights clubbing, wedding reception discos, 40th birthday bashes...

For your shopping pleasure, you can pick up Cuban Slide on the remastered and repackaged Best Of album (which, from the looks of it, comes bundled with the new album too - what a bargain!) Naughty downloading boys and girls may prefer this file. And whilst I couldn't find the studio version on there, YouTube does at least offer up a live rendition of Cuban Slide... and here it is.

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