Fine slide guitar lament for one of the great Southern novelists from Brook Williams.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
A last Norwich memory song as I prepare to leave at the end of a short stay. From The Waterboys. One of the most romantic, ambitious and literary of all eighties guitar bands who played a legendary gig at the LCR, the university venue during my time here, which I of course missed. This song explains their unique appeal as well as any.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Two songs from The Housemartins who were a big concern during my first year at Norwich, which was my university town and where I'm back now for work for a few days, for those who are taking notes, (form an orderly queue). It was possibly a sign of those times that they were so highly esteemed at the time they emerged. It was a period of dearth for great British guitar bands. Johnny Marr, for example from The Smiths, clearly the best group around at that point was slightly disdainful when they were mentioned as major opposition.
Nevertheless, they were a fine band. As Robert Christgau, a disputatious Rock Critic who pops his head up on this blog occasionally commented:
'Fashion leaders in their cardigan and baggy pants, these unpretentious soul-boys-in-a-pop band are so perky you think they're about to breat into a cereal commercial, but in fact they have a different product in mind, socialist revolution. i'd leave it at something vaguer (Marxist Christianity say) if that disdain for fence-sitters and other sheep wasn't so fervent, so bitter, and rarest of all - so just. And if their catchiest hook didn't go (hum along now) ' don't shoot someone tomorrow / That you can shoot today.'
Here are a couple of great tracks, one each from their two studio albums. Any number of others might have substituted equally well!
Monday, April 24, 2017
Timely this, given my last post. A major inspiration for Orange Juice and their early sensibility.
From Hamilton, Scotland and the early eighties. This song wholly exemplifies the jangly glory of the sound coming from that part of the world at that point of time. This came to my attention recently on the soundtrack for the wonderful music documentary Big Gold Dream which brings back those wonderful times and the string of truly great bands that Scottish punk and post-punk produced: Scars, Fire Engines, Orange Juice, Josef K,, Aztec Camera, Associates and so forth!
Sunday, April 23, 2017
When I started this blog almost four years ago I wrote in its very first post that this was quite definitely not going to be a diary of any sort. Since then it actually has become something of one, in as much as I post on it every day. However, generally I just post music. Today though I'm getting on a train and going down to Norwich, a city in Norfolk where I spent my university years and haven't returned since I graduated in 1990. My time there was a particularly eventful time for me personally, (not unnaturally for that phase of your life). I've been having a series of indescribable thoughts, dreams and fluctuating emotions in the lead up to my journey back there over the last few days.
So to The Jam. Not that they meant very much to me at the time. They'd split and Paul Weller was going through a phase of his career, (with the Style Council, that really didn't appeal to me atg all ). So it's here for Strange Town though he was of course talking about London simply because I'm going back to what has become a strange town to me to wrestle with my memories and it seemed apt!
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Used in the 2011 film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for a drunken Christmas office party scene where the surface frivolity is a thin surface veneer on the reality of mistrust, betrayal and hatred and suspicion of work colleagues. The film it comes from came out in 1965 and was a Bond imitation movie at a point when a whole slew of them were being made.
Three splendid songs from Robyn Hitchcock's new album. He does ten variations on the Byrds/ Beatles/ Barrett Floyd inspired leftfield eccentric and wordy whimsy.
It's a very good record. You get the impression that he's such an able songwriter that he could have amassed a whole series of hit singles over the years had that been his priority bu instead he preferred to follow his own particular vision. The world's a better place for him!
Friday, April 21, 2017
Gerard De Nerval, nineteenth century writer, poet and essayist much beloved by Proust, the Surrealists and Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell among others. Famously, he had a pet lobster which he used to walk on the end of a ribbon in the Palais-Royal in Paris.
'Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog?...or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw on one's nomadic privacy like dogs do.'
Each to their own! Here, Serge Gainsbourg sets a poem of his, Piquillo, to music on his 1961 album L'Etonant Serge Gainsbourg.
Who I saw last night and will write about more soon. Enough to say it felt like you were watching one of the true legends and the essence of it was about the way he moved. He didn't play this particular song but it's a good place to start!
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
London trio Happyness have just released their second album Write In. Costing only £500 to produce but you wouldn't know it. It's spare and languid in the best possible way. Reminding me in turn of The Only Ones, Sparklehorse, Teenage Fanclub and The Beatles White Album, it's a cracker. Ten dreamy, melodic 'walking home at night songs' to the enduring beauty of alternative guitar fin de siecle pop songs!
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Sometimes you chance upon something through the browsing and recommendation system that Spotify offers and know within fifteen seconds of listening that the thing you've chanced upon is for you. Such was the case yesterday for me listening to the first track on Wild Pink by Wild Pink a Brooklyn based trio and their first full album, released back in February.
It's a mesh of sounds and emotions that will be familiar to you, if like me, you have a record collection peopled partly by disaffected, introspective and shambling guitar bands. The kind that wear checked shirts. I get the impression that Wild Pink probably wear checked shirts. If not, they should. The faintest shadow of The Replacements hangs over this record. Because that band were probably the ones who nailed this kind of haunted ennui first. Then came Nirvana, The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom and so on and so forth. Wild Pink do this noble, 'poor me' tradition proud.
I had to listen to the whole album right the way though having heard that first fifteen seconds and being pretty certain immediately that I was in the hands of a bunch of people who know exactly what they were doing. Wild Pink didn't let me down for a moment. It's the most exciting slacker record I've heard for a long time. Here are a band who know when to turn things up and when to slow things down. The kind of people who realise that a lot of things in life seem pretty bad, but that music can always be very good.
Lead singer John Ross's voice is at the heart of things even though the musical accompaniment is skilful and nuanced and shifting throughout. But Ross's underplayed and undoubtedly vaguely depressed presence, expresses what this is all about. You can't often follow the narratives but the mood comes across loud and clear. His is the downbeat, dissatisfied and frankly bored pale white urban or suburban voice that goes back in the American literary, musical and film tradition to Catcher in the Rye. Make your own list of what comes after Holden Caulfield. Off the top of my head I'd throw in Jonathan Richman, Harold & Maud, The Feelies, Paul Westerberg, Wes Anderson, (well of course he's on my mind at the moment) The Wrens and Juno. A random list but I hope you recognise the general thread I'm talking about. Wild Pink slot right in.
The band's Spotify playlist of tour tunes is made up of something a bit more mainstream than the possible influences I mentioned above . It's all Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, George Harrison and The Waterboys. I can't say that I can hear the traces of these in Wild Pink myself but it seems clear from this playlist that they hope to chisel themselves a niche in the grand tradition of those who knew how to write songs. Hall is a thirty plus Florida native who makes his living from writing music for commercials but should really be doing this full time. This is a pretty solid start along the road to that.
As I said above, after hearing the first fifteen seconds of Wild Pink's opening track I wanted to listen through to the whole thing and that's what I did. It never once let me down. It's is a quite superb album, one of the favourite things I've heard this year and something I'll keep coming back to again and again over the coming months to unwrap fully it's sad but compelling set of clues.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Another song about somebody, (Eddie Cochran in this case) but this one goes in this slot. So many of Joe Meek's early sixties productions still sound eerie and strangely, (even now), futuristic. And they also sound wonderful coming out of a pub jukebox.