"This song was sent to me by a friend who is good at words and it's stayed with me ever since. Dessa knows how to paint a picture with her words. The lyrics in the 10 seconds I have chosen are: ‘the worry keeps her slender, the pills keep her awake, her man can’t make her happy but he helps to still the shakes’.
That line! Who doesn’t understand that idea; propping yourself up by leaning on another regardless of your true feelings. Dessa moves from 3rd person to 1st person. From narrating a story to admitting she is the centre of it. A real skill. Songwriters do that I think, they pretend it's all about someone/thing else.
This whole track is a stream of consciousness I wish I’d had. 551 is so much more than another break-up track and I’m grateful for it."
2. Joan Armatrading - Love and Affection (2'50" - 3'00")
– Joan Armatrading (1976)
"Joan Armatrading is one of the best songwriters of all time. That is a fact.
Love and Affection is one of her most known songs. It's nostalgic, loving and filled with passion. I’ve chosen to highlight the first ten seconds of the sax solo. I can sing every note back to you and loudly. It is epic and it is everything.
I would never submit myself to the patriarchy and enter into the oppressive institution of marriage but if that is your thing I’ve always thought Love and Affection would be a good first dance..."
3. Prince - If I Was Your Girlfriend (4'41" - 4'51")
– Sign "O" The Times (1987)
“Everything. And I have no further comment. I haven’t got the words."
4.Akala feat. Selah - A Message (3'01" - 3'11")
– Knowledge Is Power Vol 1 (2012)
"There will be some artists who don’t agree but I believe that it is an artist's role to speak truth to power. If you can, say something. Akala is one of the greatest minds of our times and I’ve been listening to his work for years. I’ve chosen ten seconds from a lesser known track of his, A Message. The lyrics at 3:01
‘If we have half the parents then, are we half the person?'
There are few artists who challenge the nuclear family imaginary and its link to identity. Those of us who have had to create our identities from fatherlessness or who have knowledge gaps in our family tree appreciate the shout out :)"
5. Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (0'48" - 0'58")
– Speaking In Tongues (1982)
"This must be the place, like David Byrne has just landed and is content with what he's found. When I share this track with others it becomes their favourite too. I’m convinced the instrumental texture is the sonic equivalent to velvet, woven consistently and soft. Everything fits.
The ten seconds I have chosen include a sliding synth that, in isolation, is ridiculous but like I said, everything just fits."
6. Minnie Riperton - Les Fleurs (2'41" - 2'51")
– Come To My Garden (1971)
"VOCALS. MELODY. Completely stunning."
7. DJ Luck & MC Neat Track - A Little Bit of Luck (0'44" - 0'55")
DJ Luck & MC Neat
– A Little Bit Of Luck 12'"(1999)
"There has never been a more iconic introduction. To see the power of these ten seconds just play it at any gathering (pre Covid) and watch it physically move people to the dance floor. It feels like West London and it feels like home."
8. Irakere - Bacalao Con Pan (0'49" - 0'59")
Irakere – Grupo Irakere (1974)
"Bacalao con pan, fish with bread, because in 1974 there was little else to eat in Havana.
When 0.49 hits I get goosebumps every time.
Irakere are important. They combined jazz, rock and significantly Afro Cuban folkloric rhythms laying the foundations for the impending Timba movement. Don’t quote me but I think this was one of the first times we heard the bata drums on a ‘popular music’ track.The tumbao at 0.49 is a calling for the listener, for me. It reminds me of friends, love and times of complete joy and pain in equal measure."