We listened to another one of these strange compilations that came with Songlines, Uncut, MusikExpress, The Wire or Spex. It’s the first »free« CD from The Word:
Word Of Mouth – The 15 tracks everyone’s talking about (compiled by some promotion company, and given away with issue 17 of The Word in 2004)
1. Nick Drake: Rider On The Wheel
From 2004 if you believe the credits on the sleeve! Cozy acoustic guitar picking from the hipsters’ favourite misfit.
2. Fountains Of Wayne: Hackensack
One of the most perfect pop songs ever written. Great lyrics, wonderful tune, fabulous harmonies. If you didn’t know this band then, it’s existence on this little CD excuses everything The Word ever did wrong. »I saw you talkin’ / To Christopher Walken…«
3. John Martyn: Under My Wing
The great man (apparently a quite unpleasant company) with a fine contemporary track. Is that a flute among the Dad Rock noodlings? Nice!
4. Bebel Gilberto: Cada Beijo
Wow – adventurous sounds for the Word reader! Still, it’s smooth enough to fit into the whole Sunday-afternoon-on-the-sofa-with-a-glass-of-wine mood. It’s Brazilian like you expect, but with a few weird orchestral sketches and almost dub effects. Flute again.
5. Jim White: Bluebird
Another ominous guy with an acoustic guitar, but way more interesting than that Drake fellow. This goes for the David Lynch/soundtrack feel. Produced by Joe Henry, from the wonderfully titled LP »Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See«.
6. Franz Ferdinand: Shopping For Blood
Whoever sequenced this platter had a heart of gold – even the Franz fit in here perfectly. Was this the time when their first album came out? This doesn’t sound as choppy or new wave-y as one would expect.
7. Delays: Long Time Coming
Echo-y and psychedelic intro to a timeless paisley underground scorcher. Psych pop at its best.
8. Jolie Holland: Old Fashioned Morphine
Another classic – and we’ve all used it on numerous CD-R comps as a surprise. Sounds at first like one of those old 78 discoveries that you find on a MOJO CD.
Word office favorite C.W. Stoneking probably stole his whole sound from this cut. (And whoever is Isabel Eberhard, and should we know her?)
9. Amp Fiddler: Eye To Eye
Shitty band name notwithstanding, this (again) goes for the slightly weird underwater atmosphere, with shifting backing sounds, as if you’re panning across a big cinematic panorama. Somebody was still listening to the first Massive Attack album.
10. Juana Molina: Quien?
The great Miss Molina (whose 2013 album is highly recommended) with a wonderful Tropicalia track. With lots of little twists and turns.
11. Grand Drive: The Real Thing
You would expect this fitting better on an Uncut/Americana sampler, but it grooves along quite well. It’s probably that »raw« guitar sound that saves it, including a slightly Crazy Horse-y solo.
12. Zero 7: Morning Song
More Sunday afternoon underwater music (What were they smoking in the Word office when they commissioned this compilation?). Another unexpectedly remarkable track. We never heard of Zero 7 again.
13. Kathryn Williams: Thirteen
Yes, we can almost hear Mark Ellen giggling at that song title. The Big Star song, of course, sung by that summer festival favourite, »girl in summer dress with an acoustic guitar«. The following 70 Word platters had LOTS of this stuff.
14. Dogs Die In Hot Cars: Somewhat Off The Way
The stinker on this disc. They should get slapped for their band name alone, and the song is a car crash of pretension, ill-advised backing vocals and dreadful piano tinkling.
15. Sufjan Stevens: The Dress Looks Nice On You
Don’t we all love to hear stuff like that? It’s back to slightly romantic boys with acoustic guitars. Mr. Stevens is Professer Quirky himself and he doesn’t disappoint.
Like we mentioned before, this is wonderfully sequenced, has a nice – slightly disturbing – overall atmosphere (without trying too hard), and works really good even ten years later. The mix of established names, record company promo fodder and a few leftfielders thrown in (Fountains Of Wayne, Juana Molina!) certainly pleased the sales people and the editors in equal measures.
For your historical entertainment, here are Mark Ellen’s sleeve notes: »Survey after survey points to the same truth. No recommendation is as powerful as Word Of Mouth. It’s the music you hear round at somebody’s for dinner that you actually go out and buy. It’s the tune that comes with a warm testimonial from a trusted friend that you listen to with an open mind. Every month WORD encourages famous, interesting people to name the favourites that they would strongly recommend to the magazine’s readers. It’s in the same spirit that we offer up fifteen of the most talked-about songs of this summer, each accompanied by a testimonial from a member of WORD’s extended family.May they lighten your traffic jams this summer and provide you with a new favourite or two. And if you don’t like anything you’ll know exactly who to blame.«