Michael Stipe Presents... was a compilation album put together by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe to accompany a feature about the band that Uncut were running that month (guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills each curated their own comps, too; you had to buy the mag three times to collect 'em all).
Mr Stipe's hand-picked playlist introduced to me to several great bands (including Tilly and the Wall, who I wrote about only the other week). But it also brought me a bit of frustration: one of my favourite tracks on Michael Stipe Presents... is a song called No Boys by a lady called Leona Naess. It's a sweet song that goes something like this:
"No boys in my room
Just the sweet wooden smell of my guitar's perfume
And in my head, a melody
Baby, you'd be proud of me"
The version of No Boys that appeared on MSP... was a live recording, on which Naess's wonderful voice was accompanied by beautiful strings and some lovely piano work. It's very moving stuff, not least because it always sounded to me like a bereaved woman's message to her dead lover.
11. LEONA NAESS - No Boys [live]
(Naess) Copyright Control
Recorded live at the Living Room, NYC on
December 10, 2003
However, I have just listened to a couple of her other tracks, and I'm pleased to report that they're very good too. So, in lieu of No Boys itself, I invite you to enjoy the beautiful Ballerina (from Leona Naess, released in 2003)...
...and the more upbeat Charm Attack (from Comatised, 2000):
Perhaps this will be the start of my long-overdue journey into Leona Naess's actual discography; in the meantime, if you have any information about No Boys (Why was it never included on a studio album? How did Michael Stipe know about it?) then do get in touch. Especially if you're Michael Stipe or Leona Naess.