As 2023 draws to its end – and it’s been a year, I can tell you – this will be the last /Tuesday Ten of the year.
/Subject /Guests, Collaborations
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /119/Also Featuring… /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/126 /Used Prior/11 /Unique Songs/109 /People Suggesting/54
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/42:23
I’m returning to a subject I’ve covered before, nearly twelve years ago, but in a different way. Here, I’m looking at guest appearances where the guest outshines, and in some cases completely takes over, a song. As is often the way, the suggestions I got went all over the place in terms of genre, and thus so does the post.
The /Tuesday Ten series will return in the new year, and next week I’ll begin my traditional end of year coverage in the form of /Countdown /2023, which will mark twenty years of my end of year posts – they started in 2003, remarkably.
Anyway: thanks to you, the reader, and my army of contributors who make so many great suggestions when I ask for them, and continue to give this series inspiration as it nears it’s seventeenth year.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Fancy (feat. Charli XCX)
/The New Classic
Charli XCX was actually the original inspiration for this post when my friend Michael suggested the theme. As well as her own work – and guest appearances – she’s an accomplished pop songwriter for others too, and had her big break writing and doing vocals on I Love It by Icona Pop, but frankly Fancy is the track where she really towers above everyone else.
Especially in the video, where Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX have great fun recreating scenes from Clueless, and Charli lights up the song as soon as she bursts in playing the late Brittany Murphy’s character Tai: beforehand, it was just a bit of a dull, lifeless track, afterward, it sounds like a fantastic party you want to be part of.
/Parklife (feat. Phil Daniels)
Phil Daniels, best known previously for his star turn in mod classic Quadrophenia, had a career resurrection thanks to his scene-stealing performance in a Blur song. Daniels does what he does: humourous caricatures of “Landahn life” while Damon Albarn backs him up. The album that this was the title track from, of course, became Blur’s big break as they became one of the biggest bands in Britain, while Daniels became a TV and film star all over again (including over 200 episodes starring in Eastenders).
/Teardrop (feat. Elizabeth Fraser)
Massive Attack have long been experts at letting their guest vocalists take centre-stage – there could have been close to ten entries involving them alone – but one artist stands head and shoulders above all their collaborators. That one person is Elizabeth Fraser, who just a few years since the dissolution of Cocteau Twins, broke her relative silence for a couple of tracks on Massive Attack’s best album.
The story goes that Fraser got the news about the death of her former lover Jeff Buckley while recording the song, and perhaps that comes across in the extraordinary fragility and beauty of her vocal delivery. Incredibly the song was initially offered to Madonna – who wanted to do it, but other members of Massive Attack chose Fraser instead. They chose well.
/Run The Jewels
/Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck) (feat. Zack de la Rocha)
The years following Rage Against The Machine‘s cessation saw Zack de la Rocha attempt to record solo and collaborative material a number of times (the work with Trent Reznor remains one of those great “what might have beens), and the restless rapper always seems to have been happier back fronting RATM, or involved in political activism. But he has popped up on a number of tracks, most notably for Run the Jewels, and his first appearance with them caused a sensation. Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck) is about the incarceration of young American men and fantasies of revenge against an unjust system, and when de la Rocha bursts in for the final, climactic verse, he steals the show entirely. Best experienced live, such as his surprise appearance to perform his verse at Pitchfork Festival 2015, where the crowd legimately lose their shit.
(Amazingly, he returned the favour and invited Run the Jewels to play the song with Rage last year).
Curve remain one of my favourite bands ever – and to hear the ferocious power of Faît Accompli at a club night in London recently was a rare treat. Curve, however, quickly lost their allure to the press as they went in a more industrial direction, and so appearances by the band in the mainstream became vanishingly rare by the mid-90s.
It was a bit of a surprise, then, to find a newly dyed-blonde Toni Halliday joining none other than John Lydon as one of the marquee guests on Leftfield’s landmark debut album, which was as much about dub and downtempo electronics as it was bruising techno (and, of course, volume – something Halliday was more than familar with in Curve!). Halliday’s performance on Original, though, is something else: a smouldering vocal that never gets eclipsed by the trip-hop excursion that is Leftfield’s contribution.
/Relight My Fire (feat. Lulu)
Watching mid-90s re-runs of Top of the Pops in the past few years has been fascinating for what we remember and forget: a legion of one-hit wonders, classic songs, and some massive bands: and at the time, it was hard to get any bigger than Take That. Every Top of the Pops performance had hysterical screams from the crowd, but even this biggest of boy bands was eclipsed here on one of their many Number Ones. Originally a 1979 US disco hit by Dan Hartman (which didn’t chart in the UK), initially it seems that Gary Barlow taking the lead is just going to result in another Hi-NRG cover, and so it is for two verses and two choruses.
Then, the band step aside, and Lulu literally steps through the curtains, and this sixties legend takes the whole song to another level. She’s in the song for less than a minute, and by the end, you barely remember Take That are there.
/When Love Comes to Town (feat. B.B. King)
/Rattle and Hum
Sometimes, it pays to be careful who you ask to join you on a song. Sure, you may want to pay homage to a legend, but there’s always that risk they will totally overshadow you, and that’s exactly what happened when U2 invited B.B. King to join them on When Love Comes to Town. Rattle and Hum was an album that came with a film documenting the tour and recording, as they tried to set themselves as torchbearers of some great rock tradition – but as soon as B.B. King gatecrashes the song on the chorus, you know that they are only pretenders to the throne.
/Licking Cream (feat. Skin)
Sevendust came to prominence in the Nu-Metal era, although they were always a bit more interesting than that, and they were also unusual among their peers in having a lead singer of colour (Lajon Witherspoon), whose powerhouse vocals made their songs that bit more impressive – and soulful, too. Their best album remains their second, Home, which is stuffed with fantastic, hard-hitting songs, and one of those singles brought in another prominent rock artist of colour, in the form of Skin of Skunk Anansie. One of their greatest moments is only enhanced by Skin, who pretty much takes over and puts Witherspoon in the shade – one of the few vocalists I can think of that could possibly do so.
/Killer (feat. Seal)
/Doctor Adamski’s Musical Pharmacy
I have a very personal reason to curse the name Adamski. I am very particular about the use of my name: I’m not “Ad”, or “Adamski”, I’m Adam, and these days I will not hesitate to correct people if they persist in using variants – and Adamski is used more than I would like.
Anyway, Adam Tinley (who went by the name Adamski) was something of a nascent rave star, and one of his MCs happened to be an older singer called Seal (who as more recent interviews has confirmed, he had a difficult upbringing and needed some coaxing into a muscial career). Seal wrote some lyrics for a downtempo track Adamski had kicking around, and by the time it was released in 1990, it sold hundreds of thousands, went to number one, and kickstarted a career where Seal became a worldwide star, sold millions, and married supermodel Heidi Klum. It rather eclipsed Adamski’s career, that’s for sure, who has continued plugging away but never really had any more mainstream success.
/A Tribe Called Quest
/Scenario (feat. Leaders of the New School)
/The Low End Theory
It’s amazing to think that one of the greatest hip-hop tracks ever released sees the main group behind it put in the shade by a teenager. This single by A Tribe Called Quest officially features Leaders of the New School, but the whole song is stolen by then-nineteen-year-old Busta Rhymes, who takes the final verse, and sounds like no-one else at the time (I can’t imagine any other rappers of the era saying “Rawr! Rawr! Like a dungeon dragon” and sounding as amazing as he does). His own first album took a few more years, and in the meantime, he became everyone’s favourite hype man, popping up everywhere and his wild rapping style became inescapable – but was never, ever boring.