Thursday, June 18, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 41)

41. "The Sun Beats Down"
Artist: The High Llamas
Year: 1998

I grappled with whether to include the High Llamas on this countdown. They were one of the most vital bands in what was a rather desolate decade for me, but this is list about songs, not albums, and I have never really had one go-to tune... at least not from the '90s. I do actually have a favorite song from the band in the '00s, but that's a post for another day. If this was about the long player, I wouldn't hesitate to place 'Hawaii' in my top 10. I'm quite sure I would look back on this countdown someday and wonder how I could have omitted the High Llamas from a list about the '90s. So, that's just not going to happen.

The tipping point to choosing "The Sun Beats Down" is rather silly, I guess. My last big countdown was the 50 best UK indie singles from the 1980s. Physically, these two lists couldn't be much different. A majority of the singles on the '80s list came from my vinyl collection. Predictably, most of the songs on the '90s list are from CDs. In fact, I have about as many picks from cassette singles as I do from vinyl (reason No. 38 why I hate the '90s). "The Sun Beats Down" is a rare 7" selection (among my records, anyway) from 1998. When I had my choices whittled down to "Nomads" and "The Sun Beats Down," the 7" got the edge over the CD. Yep, that's how I picked it. I don't have much to add about the High Llamas that I didn't cover at length back in January, but "The Sun Beats Down" is from 'Cold and Bouncy,' one of Sean O'Hagan's more electronic leaning albums, but there are still lots of marimbas, strings and other "unplugged" instruments for those who prefer that side of the band. Come to think of it, I'm glad this one is popping up now. It's a pretty unusual take on the summer song.


kevinpat said...

Sweet. Didn't know this one. Sounds like the stuff McCartney was soloing with…..or the Kinks. Or an album track from a Beach Boys album. Oh wait… NILSSON!!! I can honestly say it's not something I would play often but it's sweet. I like that you chose the 45 rather than the album cut. For my old, experienced ears it always sounds better coming from vinyl than the mechanics of CD. But that's just me. Fun stuff as usual.

Brian said...

Hi Kevinpat. You won't be surprised to know the High Llamas are huge disciples of Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach. There is plenty of Nilsson in this song too. That's a good call.