Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Wanderers Soundtarck # 1 The Four Seasons

The Wanderers a 1979 film directed by Philip Kaufman is not the finest teenage Rock and Roll films ever made. Pitching its tent some way between American Graffiti and The Warriors, it's diverting, but hardly essential. Where it does excel is in its soundtrack, which is one of the finest every made. Documenting that strange, but strangely exciting period between Elvis enlisting and going to Germany and The Beatles arriving on American shores it's thrill packed from start to finish. The next three weeks here should give testament to that.

Song of the Day # 2,314 Able Tasmans

Thirty year old Flying Nun.

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 43 Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony Number 6 'Pathetique' - Recommended by Vini Reilly

More Tim.

Tim Burgess - I Love The New Sky

Tim Burgess has become so ubiqitous of late, not least on here, where I'm drawing to the close of a long series dedicated to his taste and famous friends, that it's almost tiring, Lockdown has seen him hosting a series of much publicised listening parties and he has a new album I Love The New Sky just out to boot and it's so choc full with all the qualities that make him who he is, for better and for worse, that it's almost difficult to know where to start.

Burgess is almost a gift to the likes of me with a quirstless thirst for the new and exciting cultural ephemera as well as cherry picking the best of what has gone before. While his non-stop enthusiasm for all of this is in many respects admirable and infectious, you might also sometimes wish he'd give it a rest. There's something of the eternal adolescent about his relentless positivity and desire to cover all bases, this album could certainly do with some cosidered pruning, (it could lose the last two songs quite happily for starters), but then again that would not make it Burgess product.

So, while this is perfectly worthwhile stuff, it's also rather exhausting. I Love The New Sky is on the surface as inclusive as the man's Twitter parties, a set of twelve songs that speak to themselves as well as to their audience. The songs are faultlessly melodic and chirpy, in deep love with the wells they draw upon without particularly replenishing them. There's plenty of opportunity to trainspot the sources his magpie eyes lock on and pilfer from before moving on to yet another glittering prize his heart is set on.

Because this is the musical equivalent of the Vinyl Adventures book that I'm in the process of chronicling on here. You're in the company of someone intent on telling you about each and every record in his vast collection as well as namedropping each and every one of his famous friends and itemising ths backstory of their friendship. An inveterate list-maker and anecdote teller. Burgess's nearest equivalents are probably Bobby Gillespie and Cameron Crowe, both of whom have a tendency to do the same although in a rather less likable and more self-regarding manner.

This record is certainly likable, even when it strays into to the ridiculous, (as it does frequently if I'm honest). When Burgess performs a song about Warhol, so he can mention Liz Taylor for example, (because the deceased are on his list too), or when he asks you which your favourite Cure album is. He plumps for Pornography by the way, although he adds that it could be any one of three. This is a record with more than enough going for it that you may wish to return to. There are plenty of good songs on here. How often you'll want to listen to it all the way through is another matter. Because if you do, you're likely to need a long lie down by the time you get to the end of it.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Goofy Greats # 21 Tommy James & the Shondells

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 41 George Jones & Tammy Wynette - Golden Ring - Recommended by John Cooper Clarke

Good for John Cooper Clarke. The most hilarious and consoling dysfunctional marriage record ever released. Jones and Wynette got divorced before the album came out.

Song of the Day # 2,312 Lucern Raze

Lucern Raze runs the PNKSLM Skewed Garage recorl label. His new record International Breakdow comes across as a mixtape, highlighting his latest collaborations. It's raw, immediate and exciting. Almost like Link Wray meets Black Lips meets Hinds with beats. Here's one from it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Goofy Greats # 19 Ohio Express

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 39 Pick-a-Dub Featuring King Tubby & The Barrett Bros Arranged by Keith Hudson Recommended by Richard T. Kirk

Song(s) of the Day # 2,310 Fiona Apple

A useful rule of thumb of where records stand in the overall scheme of things, (at least for America), is The Best Ever Albums site, where the listings for past and present records are decided by the users themselves.

In recent weeks Fetch the Bolt Cutters the recently released new album from Fiona Apple has made its way to the top of the charts for 2020 above the latest records from The Strokes, Tame Impala and Grimes. It fits in with records Apple has released previously in being non-conformist, fussy and endlessly idiosyncratic but evidently this particular offering has hit a specific nerve.

She isn't quite an artist without precedent. You might hear echoes of Rickie Lee Jones, Liz Phair, Tori Amos, Laurie Anderson even Suzanne Vega at various points but Apple has certainly quietly carved out her own territory over the course of her career. 

The record might take a few listens for you to decide whether it's really one for you. But it's immediately arresting and marks itself as one to return to in order to form your own evaluation. All power to her elbow. I suspect I'm open to its angry, determined, percussive powers of persuasion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

George & Paul

On holiday in Tenrife, 1963. Photograph from Astrid Kirchherr.

Goofy Greats # 18 The Olympics

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 38 The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers - Recommended by Nik Void

From Modern Studies to Modern Lovers. Don't find their name prosaic though. It fits. One of the best Rock and Roll records ever made. Remarkable, given that these songs are essentially demos.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,309 Modern Studies

It often takes me a while to get round to listening to new records by bands with prosaic names. I tend to wonder if they put so little thought and energy into naming themselves whether their music is really going to be worth listening to. Such is the case with Glasgow via Lancashire Modern Studies and their latest The Weight of the Sun. Finally got round to it and it's certainly worth a listen.

It's a solid if not spectacular album. Locating itself somewhere between The National, Cowboy Junkies and modern folk. It's smooth and considered. There wasn't sufficient here to get me through the whole album but it's certainly a record with some fine tracks that many will gravitate to so I give you three from it should you wish to do so.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Songs About People # 1,125 Lee Majors

Beastie Boys do one for Six Million Dollar Man.

Perfumed Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

There's an inhaled breath at the beginning of the latest Perfumed Genius album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately which is telling and affecting, though not hugely surprising. You know where you are with this particular artist. Mike Hadreas, (because it is he), has form in this respect. It's immediately clear what you're getting but you might as well enjoy this hugely narcissicistic form of expression and dive in anyway.

We're in the realms of melodrama and experienced pain of the most gorgeous, melodic but deeply felt sort. File it next to Rufus Wainwright, John Grant, Anthony & The Johnsons and Ezra Furman in your record collection if you don't order these things alphabetically. File it next to Lou Reed, who was the king daddy of this kind of musical expression. This is a very American kind of yearning. Of being beaten up in the locker halls for perceived difference by confused jocks and going back home and not seeking revenge in a violent form but instead in interiority and artistic expression.

This is an extremely rich and layered product. We all know at this point of time that things are getting complicated in terms of human expression, so the arrival of this record is both timely and welcome. It's familiarity doesn't lessen its value or impact. Hadreas has been here before, but now he seems keen to iron out the creases he might have been known for previously for commercial impact and consumprtion. Drawing on similar classical impulses as the contemporaries and equivalents mentioned in the previous paragraph but making sure this is a deeply personal statement at the same time.

I'm only on my second play of the record but already it seems like the most extravagant and gorgeous indulgence. Of course this is a sexual statement. That factor is blatantly clear from the most immediate contact with its textures, but this is not a forbidding or exclusive album in any respect. In fact it's one of the most inviting and immediate albums I've heard this year. It also sounds hugely commercial to me. It's just a shame that it's being released at a point where the general public can't go into record shops and exchange currency for rich, expressive product in the manner we're so used to. Never mind, there are other ways to consume, or at least divulge. This is incredibly good. It repeats on former glories but adds new and unexpected layers to that rich experience.

Goofy Greats # 17 Lovin' Spoonful

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 37 John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure - Recommended by Dennis & Lois

Song of the Day # 2,308 Babe Ruth

Friday, May 15, 2020

Parsnip - Adding Up

A small treat in these difficult times is the release of Adding Up, a new EP from Melbourne's Parsnip.
This band is a small wonder and I've featured them on here before. This comes relatively hot on the heels of their debut album When The Tree Bears Fruit, which I listed on my rundown of my favourite records of the year last year.

The four songs here build on the good work put in their. Parsnip's recipe is fairly basic. Sixties Garage, but poppy not fuzzy, day-glo colour, relentless positivity. Childlike wonder. Short and sweet. What's great to hear is how they're managing to find ways to make this simple formula work for them well and keep things fresh at all times.

The four songs here are all small gems. One of them is quite delightfully called Crossword Cheater. one of them steals the riff from I Can't Explain quite blatantly. It doesn't matter at all when put to such good use. Parsnip show us new ways to have old fashioned fun here.

Goofy Greats # 14 Little Richard

Song(s) of the Day # 2,305 Toner

Another recommendation of a new one from Darren Jones. In his words Nineties Slacker Rock. That's what it is. It's strength, but also its limitation. Worth a listen to remind you of those days if nothing else.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Songs About People # 1,124 William Wordsworth

Just discovered a wonderful 1986 album from retro-Sixties Irish American band The Steppes. It's called Drop of the Creature and I'll have to get back to it and write more about it on here soon. In the meantime, here's its utterly sparkling opener.

Goofy Greats # 12 Bobby Day

Tim Burgess: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco: # 32 Loudon Wainwright III - Album III - Recommended by Sharon Horgan

Song(s) of the Day # 2,303 Virginia Trance

What's their name. Virginia Trance. What do they sound like. They sound very much like The Velvet Underground chanelled through the Flying Nun sound with a sprinkling of later devotees of the same sound such as Beechwood Sparks and The Tyde.

This is such a well ploughed sound and sensibility that in many ways there seems little more to say about it. Except that Virginia Trance do it very well. Singer Scott Ryan Davis gets Lou's laconic drawl just perfectly and the resy of the band pull off the perfect fuzzy chug to accompany it all.

So while new album Vincent's Playlist won't surprise you, it may please you, if you like the bands and sound I've listed above. I certainly do, and the record makes a very pleasant easy half hour soundtrack.