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List songs by Song title | Performer | Year

You searched for ‘subtle’, which matched 52 songs.
click - person recommending, year, performer, songtitle - to see more recommendations.
500 Miles (Theme From Winning)  performed by Dave Grusin  1969
Recommended by eftimihn [profile]

Delicate instrumental by Dave Grusin, that grows with each listen and has all the charachteristics of late 60s arrangements i love so much. The instrumentation is diverse, rich, yet subtle with piano, organ, horns, flutes and wonderfully arrangened, smooth strings and some harp embellishments thrown in. The mood is mellow, romantic with a dose of melancholia. Another great instrumental from the soundtrack, "California Montage", has recently appeared on "The Get Easy! Sunshine Pop Collection", while this one unfortunately is only available on vinyl.

from Winning (Decca DL 79-169)



After The Dance (Instrumental)  performed by Marvin Gaye
Recommended by mr_klenster [profile]

I don't know if this has already been recommended. When you think Marvin Gaye, it's the gut-wrenching, highly emotive vocal style and incredible lyrics that immediately come to mind. This song is curious, yet not unique to Marvin in that it manages to capture those same Marvin-qualities in a purely instrumental track. The vocal version of this song is great too, and I don't mean to imply that the vocal version is somehow inferior, however the vocal and instrumental versions leave me with completely different emotional impressions. The vocal version is so much more overtly full of desire and pure lust, the instrumental version by comparison feels so much more uncertain, longing, and subtle. For me, it's the subtlety and grace of this instrumental version that make it so compelling.





American Jesus  performed by Bad Religion  1993
Recommended by xfanatic50 [profile]

The lyrics to this song, even though they were written years ago still hold up today. Nothing has changed, which is kind of sad. This song hits you hard with it's political message with very little subtlety, but it doesn't need it because the message is so strong and so frustrated. Bad Religion's best work.

from Recipe For Hate (Epitaph)



Autostop Rosso Sangue - M23  performed by Ennio Morricone  1977
Recommended by bobbyspacetroup [profile]

The score for Pasquale Festa Campanile’s mean but effective film "Autostop Rosso Sangue (Hitch Hike)" seems to be a precursor to the score for Oliver Stone’s mean and ineffective "U-Turn." On second thought, not just the score but the entire film. I wonder if Stone had seen this movie before making "U-Turn." At any rate, I’m here to talk about the music, and both films feature absolutely incredible scores by Morricone.

The arrangement here is pretty spare – I’m pretty sure that this track is mostly improvised -- and plays like a toned down spaghetti western theme. Morricone can evoke more feeling from a small group of musicians than most film composers could from an entire orchestra. The twangy banjo sounds great over the plodding bass line, and I love the subtle organ sounds. Ultimately, the real star here is Edda Dell'orso whose wordless vocals meander over it all.

from Autostop Rosso Sangue
available on CD - Un Genio, Due Compari, Un Pollo (Hexacord)



Bleak House  performed by Anthony Phillips  1978
Recommended by Mike [profile]

Subtle harmonic and textural touches lift this well above the ordinarily beautiful. It's varied and lasts nearly 6 minutes, building gradually, and keeps getting better until just before the end. You can tell at times that he's listened to "Ripples" and some of the good bits on "Wind and Wuthering", but this has its own space. The vocal is by a former Genesis roadie.

from Sides, available on CD


Bossa Nova Bessie  performed by Frank DeVol and the MGM Studio Orchestra  1966
Recommended by delicado [profile]

This sounds like it should be a generic bossa nova cash-in film song, but instead, it's strangely haunting and gripping to my ears. While it's a sweetly orchestrated piece (a bossa nova guitar and beat, a flute melody, and a Stan Getz-esque tenor sax, backed by a subdued orchestra) I feel as if there's something menacing just beneath the surface. However, it's so subtle, this could be in my head. It's taken from the 'The Glass Bottom Boat'; maybe I have to see the movie and decide.


available on CD - Bachelor In Paradise - Cocktail Classics from MGM Films (EMI)



Chorou, Chorou  performed by João Donato  1973
Recommended by Festy [profile]

It has been argued that Joéo Donato was the first to play a bossa nova rhythm on a recording (playing the accordian on "Eu Quero Um Samba" with Os Namorados), but whilst his contemporaries from the early years of bossa, such as Gilberto and Jobim, were happy to expand on the traditional bossa sound in later years, Donato went a number of steps further. The first track "Chorou, Chorou", from a fabulous album titled "Quem é Quem" is not even the best track off the album, but the opening bars give an idea of what the whole album is about. It's playful in melody, often subtly funky in rhythm and over all, a great album. This particular album also contains my favourite interpretation of "A Rã" by Donato. I'll have to recommend more songs from this album at a later time, because it really is great.

from Quem é Quem (Odeon)
available on CD - Quem é Quem (Odeon/EMI)




  konsu: He was always revisiting his compositions. He did this one in the mid sixties as well. Also check out the mad versions on his "Bad Donato" LP he did for Blue Thumb in 70', his take on The Frog is amazing.
  Festy: I recall reading somewhere that "A Rã" was his most favourite track that he had written. I haven't heard a bad version of it by him or anyone else. The "Bad Donato" album never grabbed me either, for some reason. Lots of people love it. I think I need to have another listen to it. ;)
  ambassador: i had the pleasure of interviewing maestro donato a couple summers ago as he was celebrating his 70th birthday. I recently went through the interview again for a forthcoming article about the man and he admitted that "A Bad Donato" was his "noisiest" album. hard to disagree with that and I think that's why some people love it and others are turned off. Sometimes there is just too much going on with it and his later versions of some of these songs are much more refined and better in my opinion. regarding his regularly recording previous songs, he is a HUGE Stan Kenton fan and kenton also recorded his songs dozens of times. my two pennies.
Cinderella  performed by Aqualung  2007
Recommended by Mike [profile]

Despite couple of questionable decisions over the arrangement and mix, this is an extremely good song with an excellent lyric.

Particularly good is the harmonically-driven chorus, but there are a number of subtleties, as is evident from the opening instrumental sequence.

Why does he insist on recording his voice with so much distortion? It could almost drive you crazy...

from Memory Man


Comme  performed by Francoise Hardy  1966
Recommended by scrubbles [profile]

Dreamy. One of my favorite F. Hardy songs, if only because I can easily imagine her singing it while strolling through a meadow of sunflowers, breezes gently blowing her hair. Ahem. The light arrangement with subtle strings and harp accompanyment is gorgeous.


available on CD - The Vogue Years (Camdem/BMG)



Easy Money  performed by King Crimson  1973
Recommended by mardikas [profile]

Has a heavy sound, ethereal and complex rhythm. Guitar, bass guitar, violin, 2 drummers. I like it because it is insanely groovy.

from Larks' Tongues in Aspic


Fim de Semana em Guaruja  performed by Os Tres Brasilieiros  1969
Recommended by tinks [profile]

A lovely, gentle samba with wordless three-part mixed harmonies, gently swinging organ and subtle percussion.

from Brazil: LXIX (Capitol ST-301)




  delicado: I still don't have this album (and it just sold for a whopping $79 on ebay!) but from the picture on the back cover, I'd say this is definitely the same group as Os 3 Morais.
  tinks: 79 bucks! i paid a quarter! i listened to the clip on your morais recommendation, and it definitely sounds like the same people. mystery solved!
flim  performed by aphex twin
Recommended by VataMcPortaltech [profile]

flim is the best aphex twin song it reminds me of a thistle blowing through a playground. i'm the thistle going through monkey bars.i've heard it coming home from so many raves its the subtlest most child like song...


available on CD - richard d james album


Floods  performed by Pantera  1996
Recommended by King Charles [profile]

Starting off with the haunting echoing of steel string suspended minor chords, and quickly moving into the feeling of darkness, Floods reigns as one of the greatest metal balladry songs of all time. With a time of 6:59 (minutes and seconds), Floods deals with the internal struggle, elements of corruption, and dissolution of troubles (wash away man/ take him with the floods), that is not dismissed or watered down into a three-minute wad of sound. Pantera's pervasive composing abilities are seen not only in the length of this track, but it its bridges and structured solo set ups. Phil Anselmo delivers this song on the back of Dimebag Darrell's mighty 'steel' guitar effect, and of course the trademark bass drums and top-hat kicks of Vinnie Paul that have made Pantera so famous. The bridge perhaps extracts the greatest meaning from the song; it epitomizes itself on the power chord riff solos and Anselmo's godly muttering of "floods" (in which we can picture a Goliath or force of destruction coming in to obliterate all existence), which echoes throughout the solo. A rather dark song, Floods is characterized by its catchy guitar work (which contains a spectrum of minor and suspended shapes), and staircase wit/reflective backdrop mumbling vocals about the cold, harsh realities of life. Recommended to anyone who doubts this band's ability to do other than scream and wax metallic, Floods will not be a disappointing track. The bleak acceptance of moving onto new horizons or ways of life, leaving the old and dead behind and walking on down the road, is embodied in the ending solo, with the subtle sound of rainfall calming the listener in the end. 5 out of 5 stars for its genre.

from The Great Southern Trendkill



Georgy Girl  performed by Alan Tew Sound  1968
Recommended by n-jeff [profile]

It starts the LP with a blast of horns and a wail of Harry Stoneham on Organ, with a big intro that makes you check the LP sleeve - Is this really that folky ballad?

A drop down to a cowbell latin beat, and then back into the song proper. The main rendition is pretty good, but theres just something about that introduction that just turns it into a cheeseball, high kicking masterpiece. I start grinning every time I hear it, never fails to lift my spirits.

from Latin Style..plys the hits of Tom Springfield (Contour)


Gordon's Gardenparty  performed by The Cardigans  1995
Recommended by tinks [profile]

A lovely, sugary piece of easy-pop, with a nice flute, some subtle strings, fingersnaps and terrific lyrics. "We were swinging oh so nice/bubbly pink champagne on ice"...plus a few "la la la doobie doobie doo"s for good measure.

from Life, available on CD (Minty Fresh)



Horse Tears  performed by Goldfrapp  2000
Recommended by Mike [profile]

There are many echoes of Morricone here of course, but they're incorporated into a sophisticated, subtle and original musical aesthetic rather than just being lifted.

I'm as unclear as ever about what Alison Goldfrapp is singing about in this song or indeed many others, but musically it's so very good that I am not too bothered.

Point of curiosity/interest: Andy Davis and Stuart Gordon of The Korgis play on some tracks on this first Goldfrapp album; Davis also plays on the follow-up "Black Cherry".

from Felt Mountain, available on CD (Mute)


how’ s it going to end  performed by tom waits  2004
Recommended by olli [profile]

one of my favourite tracks from the new album. it's one of his dark plucked string- ballads, quite a simple melody really, but the subtle brass and the mournful moaning of the background vocals makes truly beautiful. and then there's the lyrics..

"behind a smoke coloured curtain, a girl disappeared
they found out that the ring was a fake
a tree born crooked never grows straight
she sunk like a hammer into the lake"
stunning.

i am SO going to buy this album when it comes out, even though i've got the mp3's (sorry mr waits!). a part of me hoped that this album wasn't going to leak, so that i could get the whole package with the liner notes and all at once, but then again some things are just too good to wait for..

(hope they avoid the glossy plastic paper of the alice booklet this time. that was just plain wrong. didn't fit the subject matter at all..)

from real gone


I Want Wind To Blow  performed by The Microphones  2001
Recommended by kaptnunderpnts [profile]

i think this song is beautiful. it's subtle but moving. the structure and composition of the song is great. both instrumentally and vocally it has a very nice development. the song that follows (the glow, pt. 2) on the album is a very natural extension of i want wind to blow. at the same time it offers a first glimpse into the microphones' heavier songs.

from The Glow Pt. 2


I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face  performed by Stan Getz and Cal Tjader Sextet  1958
Recommended by kaptnunderpnts [profile]

this is perhaps my favorite jazz ballad. maybe the most romantic song you'll ever here. stan getz's saxaphone sounds like it came down from the clouds. it sounds so soft and warm. it's often so subtle that you here just air passing across the reed. and cal tjader's vibraphone adds just the right punctuation. the song is ethereal. romantic and ethereal are hardly words i use often, but they seem to be the best i could think of to describe this song.

from Stan Getz and Cal Tjader Sextet - San Francisco


In Search of England  performed by Barclay James Harvest  1978
Recommended by Mike [profile]

One of the most appealing of the songs by Woolly Wolstenholme, the band's keyboard player until he left in 1979, and who sadly committed suicide on 13 December 2010.

Woolly's songs, the best-known of which are examples of the often grandiose style which has since become known as "symphonic prog", always stood out from those of his band-mates for their harmonic interest and textural subtlety.

from XII (Polydor)


It's My Life  performed by Talk Talk  1984
Recommended by Mike [profile]

This song is one I remember enjoying greatly as soon as I heard it shortly after its release as a single. To me it encapsulated perfectly the angst and frustration I often felt at that time. It did this as much through its sophisticated musical content and texture as through the lyrics. Listening to it now, it's as good an example as any of how different synth sounds go in and out of fashion. Hollis gives a typically intense vocal performance, and there are subtle hints in some of the instrumental lines of the more jazzy direction the band would later take. Highly recommended - don't miss this one. Oh, sorry - wrong site. Thought I saw the word Ebay somewhere.

from It's My Life (EMI)


Janela De Ouro  performed by Egberto Gismonti  1970
Recommended by bobbyspacetroup [profile]

I first heard this one on one of the radio mixes on Stereolab's website, and found a copy for relatively cheap on eBay shorty thereafter.

Anyway, it's great.

The sound reminds me of Gary McFarland's "Latin Lounge" stuff but with a bigger sound and an extra element of subtle funkiness. Gismonti's arrangement here is adventurous, unpredictable and totally engrossing.

The whole album is wonderful -- "Pendulo" and "Parque Laje" are equally as good -- but I'm still most partial to this, the first track that I heard.

from Sonho 70 (Fontana (Brazil) 6470572)


Julia  performed by Ramsey Lewis  1969
Recommended by delicado [profile]

This one really has everything, to me. I'm not a connoisseur of the Beatles's 'White album', but I'm completely crazy about Ramsey Lewis's superb LP in tribute to it. The entire album has a delicious balance of crisp beats, electric piano, strings, and subtle touches of moog, played by the album's producer, Charles Stepney. I've chosen 'Julia' to recommend because I enjoy the way it changes mood - opening mournful and slow, and then getting very funky. But the entire album is really packed with winners; other highlights are a wacky and extremely funky 'back in the USSR', a superb 'Dear Prudence', and a great 'cry baby cry'.

from Mother Nature's Son (Cadet)




  vince: Is there any way to get the whole album Mother Nature's Son on CD?
  delicado: yes, there's a Japanese CD, which you could probably get via www.dustygroove.com. It really is a wonderful album (for those that like this kind of thing!)
Just for a moment  performed by Aqualung  2002
Recommended by Mike [profile]

Beautiful and intense song, musically and lyrically. The breathy and sometimes nasal vocal sound won't suit everyone, but the melody itself is of undoubted beauty, and the arpeggiated piano backing (shades of Bach and Chopin at times) contains a good dose of this writer's usual harmonic subtlety.

from Aqualung, available on CD


La Lucertola  performed by Ennio Morricone  1970
Recommended by delicado [profile]

This is an extremely atmospheric soundtrack piece, with a wordless vocal melody from Edda Del Orso. Strings, electric harpsichord and some subtle electronic effects set the scene. There are also some beautiful Bacharach-style twists with brass. Overall it's a deadly serious and delicate number, incredibly intense, while still sounding very 'cool' (whatever that means...).

from La Lucertola (Soundtrack)
available on CD - Mondo Morricone (Coliseum)




  eftimihn: Perfect description, delicado. This track is firmly in my Morricone Top 10, though it would be impossible for me to actually write down a top 10, maybe top 20, no, a top 50 would be possible...maybe...damn, one man - so many terrific tunes!
  dominb: I got the first Mondo Morricone cd on its original release nearly 10 years ago now,I was familiar with Morricone's stuff but when I heard this it totally changed me.I became a Morricone devotee and this first track along with "Metti..." blew me away.The version on Mondo is actually about a minute shorter than the original version,so is "Metti" and some of the other "Mondo" tracks,they've abridged them no doubt to fit the cd...I found this out gradually from hearing the complete versions,they're not different versions,they've just been cut down....This is one of Ennio's all time great themes.
Late Again  performed by Judie Tzuke  1982
Recommended by Mike [profile]

A beautifully clear female voice emerges out of a rich synth backing of subtle harmonies provided by Bob Noble. Judie Tzuke (best-known for "Stay with me till dawn" of 1979 which was a minor UK hit) recorded a number of excellent tracks over the years. A reviewer on Amazon describes her as the "fifth biggest selling British female singer between 1980 and 1985", but I'd almost forgotten about her until I stumbled across one of her albums on CD in a shop the other day, prompting a return to some of my LPs and tapes.
This particular track has long been a favourite of mine for its emotional depth, but for whatever reason it's been a long time since I heard it. It would have helped had I been able to buy it on CD - unfortunately it doesn't appear to be available on any current disc.

from Shoot the moon (Chrysalis)


Mrs. Bluebird  performed by Sunshine Day  1999
Recommended by bobbyspacetroup [profile]

"Mrs. Bluebird" by Eternity's Children is one of the great songs I carried away from the now-defunct LuxuriaMusic. This version is from a "children's record" produced by Richard Preston & Louis Philippe. The arrangement is pretty faithful to the original, maybe a little longer with subtle but important differences. Philippe's singular vocal style compliments the song suprisingly well. Very cool.

from Simultaneous Ice Cream, available on CD ()



Night Game  performed by Paul Simon  1975
Recommended by G400 Custom [profile]

One of the most mysterious, beautiful, and above all *quiet* songs you'll ever hear. It comes at the end of the first half of the album 'Still Crazy After All These Years' and is nominally about baseball, but don't let that put you off. Worth a listen if you like subtle 70s singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell or James Taylor, or if (like me) you're a fan of Red House Painters, upon whom Paul Simon's earlier work was a great influence.

from Still Crazy After All These Years, available on CD (Warner Brothers)



Noah’s Dove  performed by 10,000 Maniacs  1992
Recommended by Yammer [profile]

For admirers of classic pop song construction, production, and performance, Noah's Dove is jaw-dropping in its perfection. The subtle piano hook, deep and dark chord changes, and the warm, dry-eyed, heartbreakingly acute singing grab your ears, while the lyrics (an unhurried, unsparing epitaph to a relationship with a cheating scumbag) clench your heart. The best part may be that it introduces Our Time In Eden, a collection of finely-crafted folk-pop songs that served as a worthy finale for the Maniacs.

from Our Time In Eden


Off Night Backstreet  performed by Joni Mitchell  1977
Recommended by mojoto [profile]

If someone would have asked me say ten years ago what artist's oeuvre I would take with me to a desert island, I would with dead certainty have answered: everything by Joni Mitchell, please. I'm not so sure anymore, although it could well be that I, when push comes to shove, would still make that choice. So it may not come as a surprise now that for a long time my all time best album was one of Joni's, Don Juan's Reckless daughter, where her cooperation with Jaco Pastorius really took off, for instance on this song where she's questioning her love for a man who's new sweety has already moved in while still keeping poor Joni (assuming the song is sort of autobiographical) on the side as his Off Night Backstreet. Jaco's warm bass carries the whole song and is almost like a second voice to Joni's singing, it blends marvelously with her cold metal guitar, some nice echoey and spacy flageolets too, great additional vocals - "Backstreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!"- by JD Souther and Glenn Frey, drums by John Guerrin, subtle and tight. PS Be warned that the soundfile is quite big (500 Kb).

from Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (Asylum 701-2)



Pilots  performed by Goldfrapp  2000
Recommended by eftimihn [profile]

An otherworldly beautiful track. Will Gregory provides an excellent arrangement here: smooth, stylish, elegant, lush orchestration with Barry-esque cinematic soundsacapes, evoking images of a slow-motion nightflight. While there is a strong 60s influence, Gregory throws in some subtle, futuristic sounding digital artefacts giving it a slight neo-noir feel.

from Felt Mountain, available on CD (Mute)



Pyar Karne Wale  performed by Asha Bhosle  1980
Recommended by jeanette [profile]

A week ago I was in India, the holiday of a lifetime. As well as all the tourist stuff, like temples and museums, I always make sure that I get a slice of pop culture when I'm in a foreign country. So the night tended to conclude in the hotel with a bit of Indian TV.

Watched a fair bit of MTV India which, if anything, is even heavier on ads and blatent self-promotion that its British and American equivalents. I was cheered to see that most of the music they played was in Hindi and there was a limit on the American and European bands that got airplay (seemingly, strangely, limited to The Rasmus and Britney Spears).

But MTV is only watchable for a limited amount of time. Jet lag and excitement dictates that one spends more time awake than asleep and so I got to see a few late 70's Bollywood classics, among them 'Shaan' (translation: 'Pride'). This Asha Bhosle gem is from this movie. The film itself struk me as a fairly banal James Bond rip off although, not speaking Hindi, I grant that I'll have missed the more subtle aspects of plot construction.

This song stopped me in my tracks. I knew that Bollywood was an area that I enjoyed but was in a grand state of ignorance of, and I was looking forward to rectifying this. Pyar Karne Wale takes the prize for best Donna Summer rip off EVER. Stealing its barely-adjusted backing from 'I Feel Love', Bhosle wails and moans over the top, transforming Moroder's disco classic into something that simultanously establishes common ground between Indian and European disco while evoking its more subtle differences.

Myself and boyfriend came back with what seems like every Bollywood soundtrack produced between 1972 and 1980 including, of course, Shaan. I look forward to educating myself in this genre and finding more similar gems.

from Naseeb / Shaan, available on CD




  pleasepleaseme: Hi, I'm From N.Y.C. In the early 80's we had a show on cable, called "Cinema,Cinema, which showed numbers from the classic cinema. I lucked out on a few OST'S. Can highly recommend "Qurbani" & "Kasme Vaade" & "Sargam" & "Sawan Ko Aane Do" & "Loafer". Would love to know if you found any of those, or if you could recommend some of your finds.
  jeanette: Did indeed pick up Qurbani, which I have now listened to and would agree that its fab. That's the only one I have of those you mention. Got 30-odd CDs and most of them are double or triple headers, and I'm slowly ploughing my way through the pile. Favourite thus far is 'Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai' which is another R.D. Burman stunner.
  olli: RD burman is, ahem, "da bomb". probably my favourite bollywood producer/composer. not that i'm an expert on indian 70's pop culture or anything.
Romance  performed by Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man  2002
Recommended by robert[o] [profile]

A great track from the excellent "solo" LP by the Portishead vocalist (actually it’s a collaboration with Paul Webb - one time member of sublime 1980's pop group Talk Talk - calling himself Rustin Man for some reason.) The arrangement suggests a low-key take on one of Bacharach/David's statelier ballads, (like say "Aprils Fools" or "Trains and Boats and Planes"), which develops a wonderfully sad groove on the chorus. There are lovely strings, a great, woozy horn solo, and some inspired use of subtle, dissonant electronic textures and spooky female background vocals (both very Ennio Morricone.) Meanwhile, Gibbons does her most stylized take on Billie Holiday at her most stylized - which really shouldn't work, but somehow ends up being just right. Strong song from a very strong album.

from Out of Season, available on CD



  bobbyspacetroup: Agreed. This track and "Drake" are my favorites from the album -- especially "Drake." Good recommendation.
Skin Trade  performed by Duran Duran  1986
Recommended by dsalmones [profile]

Beneath the avant-garde lyrics and futuristic synth textures, there was always a pulsing dance music quality that drove the classic Duran Duran sound. As they progressed into the late '80s, they allowed that dance element to move up front and dominate their style. A good example of this tactic is "Skin Trade," a hit whose silky and funky style led to it being mistaken for a Prince song. The lyrics have a surprisingly direct, soul-searching feel to them as they lay out scenarios of people shortchanging their dreams to make money. These moments are followed with the dramatic proclamation that makes up the chorus: "Will someone please explain/The reasons for this strange behavior?/In exploitation's name/We must be working for the skin trade." The music lends contrast to the angry tone of the lyrics by creating a sultry, mellow melody that juxtaposes verses with a soft, hypnotic ebb and flow with an ever-ascending chorus that revs up the song's inherent drama. Duran Duran's recording is fuelled by funky but gently layered guitar textures and subtle drum work that push its groove along, plus some atmospheric synth textures on the chorus. Interestingly, Simon LeBon uses his normal tenor voice for the choruses but sings much of the verses in a lush, soulful falsetto that led many pop fans to initially mistake "Skin Trade" for a Prince ballad. The result was a perfect blend of slow-dance textures and adult social critique. It didn't do as well as "Notorious," just barely making the Top 40 in the U.S., but it got plenty of radio airplay and is fondly remembered by the group's fans as one of Duran Duran's most mature achievements of the late '80s.
(AMG)

from Notorious, available on CD


So um amor  performed by Shorty Rogers and his Giants  1961
Recommended by delicado [profile]

A short, but astoundingly catchy instrumental in the bossa nova style. This is led by guitar and bass, with subtle stabs from the horn section. It's hard to put into words how clean, yet edgy and catchy the sound is. Somehow, in spite of all the instrumentation, there is a lot of space in the mix. This is from an LP on reprise called simply 'Bossa Nova', with a generic looking sleeve that is also used for a much less bossa-inspired Barney Kessell LP.

from Bossa Nova (Reprise R-6050)



Spin, Spin, Spin  performed by Terry Callier  1964
Recommended by trivia [profile]

"Spin, Spin, Spin" is a graceful and romantic folk song which Callier sings with a smirk - almost as if he's in on a secret joke. His guitar phrasing is pitch perfect and his voice is both rich and subtle. HP Lovecraft covered this tune as a string-heavy psych-lite track on "HP Lovecraft II," but I prefer this original rendition's low-key and unpretentious acoustic charm.

from New Folk Sound of Terry Callier (Prestige)


Sunset  performed by Pierre Dutour  197?
Recommended by callgirlscene [profile]

Trumpet, strings & a subtle jangly sound begin this song in a way that suggests a tale of heartbreak, as Burt Bacharach can do it. Then piano and wordless female vocals join, in a chorus that seems to say love or redemption is going to come. And this is done in a Todd Rundgren way, as on his Something/Anything album. Then it repeats, and you're redeemed again. Two winsome influences are combined in this sound library recording for a real slice of heaven.

from Dance & Mood Music #9 (Chappell DMM309)


Sweet Susan  performed by Ennio Morricone  1972
Recommended by eftimihn [profile]

You probably wouldn't expect an amazing easy listening track by Morricone on a western soundtrack i guess, but that's what you get here. Except for the harmonica intro this is pure Morricone lounge and it features the most delicate use of a muted, toned down trumpet sound one can imagine. The way it's gently built up is just fantastic and it surely can make your hair raise, it's so subtly but overwhelmingly performed. After the harmonica there's piano chords fading in, then the song kicks off with subtle strings in the background and with a midtempo drumbeat. Wonderful melody, after a while the strings start to crescend leading into a swirl and a harpsicord is added in the right places. This track just melts in your ears like italian ice cream in the sun. Another gem by Ennio, the song was even issued as a single in Italy in 1972, together with "Sonny", recommended elsewhere on musicaltaste.

from La Banda J. & S. (CAM CSE 050)
available on CD - CAM (CSE 050)




  dominb: Yes, this song, hidden away on the "La Banda J & S" soundtrack is quintessential Morricone, it is truly sublime. One of the joys of Morricone is discovering tracks like this given his overwhelming output so thankyou for pointing this song out.
Tear It All Away  performed by The Church  1981
Recommended by dsalmones [profile]

Following shortly on the heels of Of Skins and Heart, "Tear It All Away" still was the picture of a developing band, but one already more comfortable with the studio, able to use subtlety and quiet drama to inform its cool, soothing yet tense take on post-punk filtered through psychedelic touches. The familiar Byrds-derived guitar and Bowie-tinged lyrical regret and sighing crop up as they so often would in the earliest days, but there's a clean, blue tinge to the whole performance, something that feels inexpressively like an eighties recording rather than a sixties throwback. Call it the space in the mix, the gentle keyboards here and there, or the substituting of folk and country roots for something more urban and faster-paced. The lovely mid-song solos show the Marty Willson-Piper/ Peter Koppes team still well within its element, and the whole composition has a rich, lush feeling to it that's most attractive.
(AMG)

from Of Skins and Heart, available on CD


The Look Of Love  performed by Diana Krall  2001
Recommended by eftimihn [profile]

For "The Look Of Love" Diana Krall managed to bring the legendary Claus Ogerman out of his retirement as an arranger (in fact, at that point, he didn't arrange for other people for 15 years or so). That was due to the fact that Krall's longtime producer, Tommy LiPuma (who did some marvelous production work for A&M in the late 60s e.g. for Claudine Longet or The Sandpipers) used to work with Ogerman in the past and so Claus got on board. While Krall's jazz followers found the result all too schmaltzy i just love it. The track is a very laid back, gentle, cool sounding version with a subtle bossa rhythm. And the arrangement and production is as immaculate as you might expect with Mrs. Krall giving a fine vocal performance, reminding me a lot of Julie London.

from The Look Of Love, available on CD




  konsu: It reminds me of some of Ogerman's work for Verve/CTI in the late 60's. Really the nicest version of this song in years.
To the shore  performed by Pet Shop Boys  2005
Recommended by Mike [profile]

Dark, majestic, tender, subtle instrumental music which is of immense quality and beauty. There are several other high points on this...it's very worthy of investigation!

Unfortunately the British CD has nasty copy control technology on it which I'm pretty certain is going to stop me listening to it on an mp3 player. Oh well...

from Battleship Potemkin, available on CD


Toy Box  performed by Sylvia Striplin  1981
Recommended by jeanette [profile]

This reminds me of The Velvet Underground. Not musically in the slightest but just on one point - while absolutely great, paved the way for some awful copycats.

This is ultra-soft funk, luxuriating in comfort like the fluffy fur Striplin is wearing on the sleeve. Absolutely adorable, and so finely nuanced that it never cloys and just improves with repeated listening. It's hard to pick one song from this LP not just because they're all so damn brilliant but because each and every one of the songs sounds better nestled between their bedfellows.

Unfortunately this kind of style was robbed of all its subtlety and beauty in the 80's leading to the formula of soulless soul that began to proliferate. Enjoy this album for what it is; a creative apex between the decades.

from Give Me Your Love, available on CD



Una voce allo specchio  performed by Ennio Morricone  1968
Recommended by eftimihn [profile]

Well, i guess you just can't recommend too much Morricone. So, this is another track off the excellent "Mondo Morricone" trilogy (Note: With the completion of the trilogy with "Molto Mondo Morricone", the formerly out of print first two parts "Mondo Morricone" and "More Mondo Morricone" have been reissued with 2 bonus tracks each). This track has it all: Gentle bossa nova rhythm, subtle triangle, swirling, almost surreal sounding strings, harpsicord galore and on top of it magnificent vocals by the incomparable Edda Dell'Orso.

from La stagione dei sensi (Ariete)
available on CD - Mondo Morricone (Sony)



Unas Slayer of the Gods  performed by Nile  2002
Recommended by The Great Deceiver [profile]

A technically astonishing piece of Egyptian-influenced death metal by a bunch of Americans from the swamps of Florida. For those not initiated in the relentless grind of thrashing guitars, double-bass tub-thumping and unholy growling vocals this is about as subtle as a horse's cock. And about as appealing as well. Make no mistake, this is brutal but in a market dominated by tedious and unchallenging MTV-friendly nu-metal, that any band can try and succeed in pulling this off is two welcome fingers in the face of Fred Durst and his pals.

from In Their Darkened Shrines, available on CD



Unas the Slayer of the Gods  performed by Nile  2002
Recommended by King Charles [profile]

If you are looking for an epic, detailed, scriptured text, infused with the basal roots of death metal, this song is it. Standing at a whopping 11:43 (minutes and seconds), this is one of the longest songs I've ever heard, apart from Dream Theater. Listen to the lyrics here, we don't have a bunch of nihilistic meatheads preaching about death and lost love, it rather contains text from the Pyramid of Unas (known as the Pyramid Texts). These texts are dated in Unas's reign, who was the last ruler of the 5th dynasty- most agree he was alive from 2375 to 2345 B.C., but as is seen on elyrics.net, some date him back to 5330 B.C. This date, combined with it's deific juggernaut of sound (perpetrated in the beginning with an echoed 'vena' intro compimented by an all mighty gong, and again in the bridge which sounds like the intro to the Dark Army from LOTR: Return of the King, with it's French horns and marcato kettle drum foundation), make for a truly musical masterpiece. This is the first death metal band I encountered whose lyrics had real meaning, origin, and context (much like DJ Cheb i Sabah's portrayal of texts from the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita). Listen to this the whole way through, the instrumentation is incredible, with a massive orchestrated sound about as subtle as a tidal wave. The bass drums constantly set up the rhythm for the entire work (hold the beginning, and about 8:20 through, as well as the conclusion), and the instinctive deep-throat, albeit gut lyrics add for the dark yet impressive overtone of this piece. I believe I can hear sitar, vena, and even 12-string guitar in this piece. Also, it is critical to acknowledge the chorus in the background- this really highlights the sovereign, godly quality of the song's tone. The arrangement is tight, constantly in rhythm, never behind, and well meshed together, indicating well thought-out composing. Great to listen to before a game of hockey, going to the gym, or if you are feeling weak and helpless- this piece will give you power. Enjoy it for what it is- a new, comforting taste in death metal. Listen to this piece, buy the album, and do research on Unas himself- you'll find a quite interesting history behind this ancient Egyptian ruler, which is the embodiment of Nile- their obsession with the ancient kingdom. 5 out of 5 starts for its genre.

from In Their Darkened Shrines



Wanderlove  performed by Claudine Longet  1967
Recommended by scrubbles [profile]

I always like Claudine Longet's whispery, French accented voice, singing cutesy little love songs with all the dreamy passion of a girl decorating her school notebook with detailed drawings of unicorns and flowers. But she sounds even better when performing a darker, vaguely forboding song like "Wanderlove". The gentle string arrangement and subtle sitar flourishes are the icing on the cake. Wherever you're going, Claudine, take me with you.

from Claudine, available on CD


War  performed by Onra
Recommended by Churchill [profile]

A brief and understated mix of haunting vocal samples, subtle guitars, hip hop beats...
Taken from Onra's Les Chinoiseries- a collection of tracks that sample music from China and Vietnam. Whole album worth a listen!

from Les Chinoiseries


What a Fool believes  performed by Self
Recommended by texjernigan [profile]

This is off an album in which most if not all of the instruments used were kids toys, which I have a little trouble believing, especially when it comes to the drums. This is originally a Doobie Brothers song, but this cover brings out a lot of the subtle nuances which go unheard in the original.

from Gizmodgery, available on CD



When the Wind Blows  performed by David Bowie  1986
Recommended by Mike [profile]

I discovered this work of absolute genius today - it was on a 3 disc Bowie compilation ("The Platinum Collection") which a colleague was playing at work.

The song starts with an echoey 80s drum sound with a repeated guitar riff, behind which we begin to hear a beautiful chord sequence played on the synth. The riff drops out and Bowie sings a fantastic melody over the chord sequence, which takes many subtle and grand turns. The song has a relatively complicated construction and instrumentation.




who needs forever  performed by astrud gilberto  1966
Recommended by coffman [profile]

This exceptionally haunting and lyrical song by Quincy Jones has received its definitive interpretion by Astrud Gilberto with arrangement and accompaniment by the Brazilian organist Walter Wanderley. The melancholy urgency of the piece resonates well with the dark/sad tonality that pervades so much of Bossa Nova music, though its character is also reminiscent of certain otherwise very different pieces from the bebop era, which had a formative influence on Quincy Jones' music. There is definitely the remote influence of Charlie Parker and especially Dizzy Gillespie. It's truly a completely unique piece. The drifting melody which seems to skirt over the chord changes has a beautiful inevitability. Only a very gifted and skilled musician could have contrived such a beautiful work. So Quincy Jones deserves especial credit for crafting this song from the film "The Deadly Affair."

Astrud's delivery, so typically limpid and restrained, only serves to heighten the intensity of this darkly passionate song. The subtle but somehow fierce organ playing of Walter Wanderley acheives a sizzling romanticism that perfectly complements the reading of Astrud's apparently detached fatalism.

In my opinion, this track is a true musical masterpiece. Its remarkable economy of means is a testament to the skill of the composer as well as the artistry of the performers. In fact, it's a nearly perfect combination of expressive means and poetic intent. The beautiful resolution, with Astrud's perfect striking of the high B-flat over the half-diminished F-minor seventh, is a moment of sublime dramatic intensity, though profoundly understated, as is typical of her finest artistic moments. One is reminded of Miles Davis. Her poetic skill is rooted in subtlety.

I have listened to this extraordinary track hundreds of times, and always experienced chills rising up on the back of my neck. How amazing that this incredible musical gem was omitted from the original album A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness. Perhaps it was too intense, too heavy; whatever the case, it's a truly remarkable piece of music.

I'm truly grateful to have discovered this great albeit minor musical masterpiece. There's really nothing else quite like it! The sizzling but subtle sensitivity of the rhythm section (Claudio Slon on drums, possibly Joao Gilberto on guitar and Jose Marino on bass) adds an intensity to the piece which helps project the almost existential tone of the song.

I'm really swept away by this obscure and neglected work, which attains -- for me at least -- to a peak of poetic intensity really rare in music. As is usual with Astrud at her best, it accomplishes its artistic ends with what seems like the most minimal of means. But subtlety is always the avenue to the most profound of artistic experiences. I think this is a remarkable example -- one of the greatest -- of the wedding of popular music and high art. It is a truly perfect performance. In my opinion, its greatness increases rather than diminshes with repeated listenings. There is only one word for that -- it's magic!

from A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, available on CD



  rio: you must pick-up the quincy jones soundtrack (released with the score to "the pawnbroker") with astrud singing "who needs forever". The lush quincy jones score is hauntingly beautiful, and astrud never sounded better. This version is the real deal for me..
  rferus: Amazing guitar on this piece.
zebulon  performed by einstürtzende neubaten  199?
Recommended by olli [profile]

i like eistürtzende neubaten better after they started writing ballads. in my opinion, this is one of their finest pseudo-velvet underground moments. some nice metallic spring percussion, humming and subtle string backing. it plods along quite nicely and builds tension until it explodes into full industropop greatness at the end. i have no idea what the lyrics are about as i don´t speak german, but the music has quite an uplifting effect. a bit like playing around with controlled fire in science class or something.
(yes, i know, it's a stupid comparison).


available on CD - tabula rasa


Zero  performed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Recommended by komodo [profile]

A piledriving slab of synth rock with HUGE hooks. Think Atomic era Blondie, perhaps a touch of Moroder, but with a much, much bigger sound. Not subtle, but overdriven, oversexed and overwhelming. Not normally my cup of tea, this sort of music, but this track is great.


available on CD - It's Blitz (Interscope Records)


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