What’s The Sound Of Summer?


Summer is just around the corner. What, you say you can’t feel it where you are? You have to use your imagination a bit and pretend there will once more come a time when you’re not wearing a puffa-jacket, but from where I’m sitting (overlooking a miserable grey London) it’s not so very far away, and that means summer music. When it comes to the kind of chiringuito sounds that make you check between your toes for sand I’m all for chillout, even after the Conchords’ cripplingly funny and accurate parody of the genre on ‘Foux Du Fafa’.

There are certain tracks that start with samples or riffs that just make you smile. Many have become the soundtrack of my life, and I’m shocked to realise just how long they’ve been around. I’d have to count Groove Armada’s ‘At The River’ and Moby’s ‘Slip Into Something Comfortable’ as all-time sun-in-yer-eyes faves, but Jose Padilla’s ‘Helios’ and of course his anthem ‘Adios Ayer’ have to rate majorly. Like all great summer tracks, this latter seems to exist in about 3 zillion variations, like Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ – in fact the only version of that song I don’t like is their harsher original.

Cornish Beach

And here’s a tricky one – listening to the opening sample of Englebert Humperdinck’s ‘From Here To Eternity’ will fool your ears into thinking about an entirely different track. I’m surprised more ‘summer’ sampling isn’t used like this in chillout sounds. Some artists seem to be only bearable in compilations – for me, Moby gets too repetitive in album form – and some artists with massive numbers of albums seem to exist below the radar, like Bebo Best, Tape Five, Mr Untel, Lemongrass, De-Phazz and the wonderful 17 Hippies.

The good news is a return from Chicane with a new album, ‘The Sum Of Its Parts’, which, while lacking the iconic instrumental tracks that made the band famous, is still an early taste of warm weather in your ears. Not that the single, which features Kris Marshall wandering around a fraught wintery London, is remotely summery or anywhere near the best track on the album.

‘Chillout’ has become a catchall suggestive bad session musicians and elevator music, but a well-compiled album is a joy. It has become de rigeur for European street musicians to offer CDs of their own music, which is a great way of finding original work while supporting performers.

NB I took the photograph on a Cornish beach. It was freezing.

4 comments on “What’s The Sound Of Summer?”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    Bill Withers for the obvious. Stone Roses for the history.

  2. Jo W says:

    Ah,an English summer! I missed it last year, I was in the bathroom at the time😳😳

  3. John Griffin says:

    Weirdly, for me, it will always be the Doors ‘Strange Days’ – it really was the summer of 69, I met Kathy Hartley in Falmouth while living in a garage and working the club kitchens as a washer-up. It could always have been the start of something big, but the next four decades were a sad decline.

  4. Ness says:

    What, no six string?

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