Does anyone else remember the days before streaming services? Before playlists? If you wanted to get someone into a certain band, or play them a selection of the artists you’d be watching live at the weekend, you couldn’t just drag every song they’d ever written into a playlist and send it to them over email. Nope. You really had to think about it, to distil that feeling you wanted to give them down into a few tough choices.
Tapes had two sides, both 45 minutes long. You had that long to say what you needed to say and then it was time to move on. We’re bringing that challenge back in our mixtape. 45 minutes to convince someone why they should like a certain band, artist, genre, or era.
Making this mixtape was hard. It turns out that Róisín has a tonne of lengthy songs. I’ve included a bunch of radio edits here for the sole reason of getting the duration of the mixtape down under 45 minutes. So a couple of pleas. First, forgiveness. Then please go and listen to the full length mixes afterwards. Thanks.
‘Sing It Back’ – 4:24
I’ll ease you in with familiarity. It became one of Moloko’s biggest hits after being remixed by German producer, Boris Dlugosch. But here for consideration is a version you may not have heard taken from their 1998 album I Am Not A Doctor. Terrible album name. That aside this will hopefully give you a different idea of what to expect from Róisín’s back catalogue. That famous remix, and Moloko’s other mega hit ‘The Time is Now’, were certainly the first times I became aware of Róisín. My taste back then was too immature to really appreciate it. But hey, growing up is all about making a Róisín Murphy and Moloko mixtape instead of a Muse one, right?
‘Pure Pleasure Seeker – Edit’ – 3:26
Baritone sax makes everything better. I love the lyric ‘never been too keen a time keeper’ especially when delivered in Róisín’s unique tones. This song was a brilliant discovery for me a few years after it came out and it sounded nothing like I expected.
‘Night of the Dancing Flame’ – 3:26
So we’re into solo Murphy now. The range of odd noises throughout this song is impossible to describe. Just go and listen to them. Eventually it settles into something kind of jazzy, with a mystical tale of the eponymous night set curiously against them.
‘You Know Me Better’ – 4:17
My love of Róisín Murphy began properly with the album Overpowered and was the impetus for me to reassess and explore the music that had gone before. This, and the following track, are the perfect example of how her approach to songwriting brings a unique perspective to the otherwise tired subject matter of a love song.
‘Unputdownable’ – 5:14
Hairless Toys was nominated for the Mercury prize and I’d like to think it’s because it’s her most reflective album, and best album lyrically. She expertly bends the novel metaphor to, but never beyond, breaking point in this song: ‘Well, I’m left in confusion / By your epilogue / Where is the conclusion / A narrative arc’.
‘Ten Miles High’ – 5:20
By her own high standards, Take Her Up To Monto, is not her best album. But that does not mean it should be ignored. If you did you miss the joy that is ‘Ten Miles High’.
‘The Rumble (Radio Edit)’ – 4:04
A deep cut here from a 2018 EP. Róisín worked with DJ Maurice Fulton on a series of superb 12″s with ‘The Rumble’ being the highlight. It seemed like the longest teaser for a new album ever, leading to me being unfeasibly excited about the release of Róisín Machine in 2020.
‘Incapable’ – 3:45
More on that unfeasible excitement now. The extra long pre-album original version of this (please go and listen) was the tipping point into full-on Róisín obsession. It was also lockdown so there wasn’t much else on, but don’t let that dampen things. A highlight of album Róisín Machine – it rhymes so you know how to pronounce ‘Róisín’.
‘Something More – Edit’ – 4:01
Róisín was hugely entertaining online during lockdown and was easily my favourite person to watch – I’ve included a video of her showing boundless energy in a solo performance of this song above to convince you further. Add in to this energy the carefully considered visual aspect of her performances and you can see why she’s such a compelling artist.
‘The Truth’ – 5:37
I’ve stuck to chronological order for the majority of this mix, but have broken away to give you something different to finish with. It’s Róisín providing irresistible vocals to this classic from hip-hop duo Handsome Boy Modelling School. And what a perfect choice she was.
Okay, so there it is. How did I do? If this is your first time listening to Roísín Murphy, or if you have heard the odd bit but never really given her a full go, did I convince you? What songs are your favourites?
And for the fans – go on then, tell me what I missed? What would your mixtape have looked like?
Words by James Spearing