Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Doors

Steve Gunn

Steve Gunn has already had a Song of the Day on here so this will have to hang free. New and very wonderful song and video ahead of his new album Eyes on the Lines which is out at the beginning of June.

Songs About People # 178 Johan Cruyff

A belated tribute to Johan Cruyff, one of the true artists of the game of football who died last week. Archive, if strangely sped up footage from the man's career in the video below.

The Shins

A re-post from a couple of years back about The Shins and one of the truly great songs.

Song of the Day # 15 - The Shins

 I very much like The Shins. They're melodic and quirky and original too somehow, though it's clear they fit quite neatly within a certain line of music. They're obviously the vehicle of lead singer James Mercer. He made the point himself by dismantling the original incarnation a few years back and reassembling with a new set of musicians but under the same name to show once and for all who was the auteur of this particular project.
They've done a lot of good to great tracks but surely regardless of what they do from now on they'll be chiefly remembered in association with the song that made their name first. New Slang from their first album Oh Inverted World.
The song broke big largely because it was featured in Garden State, a turn of the century stab at a state of the generation movie written and directed by Zach Braff, starring Braff himself and Natalie Portman. It's a good film, made me laugh quite a bit, has a good feeling for colour and mood and set the marker for hip soundtracks taken up by Juno and other vaguely indie American films. It's also very precious and self-regarding but perhaps that's also quite appropriate given the pretty privileged set of people it's set around and made by.
New Slang is at the very heart of the film acting as the catalyst to set up the emotional relationship between Portman and Brach's characters which eventually becomes romantic.  She hands him a set of headphones and plays him the song telling him it will change his life. Of course it does.  It's an immediately affecting song for people with certain record collections. It has that feel of some of Simon and Garfunkel's great sixties records, a sense of gears, direction, lives, and perspectives changing within the course of the four minutes it ducks just under.
The Shins emerged from Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1996 at a strange turning point in American Alternative Music history. Husker Du, The Replacements, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, The Pixies and Nirvana had all made their big statements. Pavement's records probably more than others were painting the way ahead. Towards ghettoisation. An 'indie-world' best exemplified by the ATP festivals which started shortly afterwards and which The Shins became regular players at. A lot of these bands really didn't belong on Lollopalooza which attracted its fair share of redneck muscle-heads. Pavement themselves had been pelted with mud on more than one occasion. ATP partly served to seal out these kind of people. It's the politest music festival I've ever been to.
The Shins music was completely devoid of the fire and anger of the American Independent trailblazing bands of the eighties detailed in Michael Azerad's wonderful book Our Band Could Be Your Life . There was a kind of resigned, neutered contentment which suited the generation it was playing to. But there was unease flowing beneath its melodic skin.

Mercer was well aware of the lineage he was working in. During the video for the song the band recreate the sleeves of Husker Du's Zen Arcade and New Day Rising, The Replacements Let It Be, Slint's Spiderland, Cat Power's Moon Pix, Sonic Youth's Sister, Double Nickels on the Dime by The Minutemen and Squirrel Bait's first EP.
It's a pretty cheeky gesture because though clearly intended as tribute it also implicitly places The Shins as next in line. This is not lacking in confidence. However, the quality of the song means this hubris is not entirely misplaced. It also came out on Sub Pop after all.
New Slang and Garden State made The Shins rich and famous. Wincing the Night Away, the next album completed after the film came out went to #2 in the Billboard chart. This is a remarkable achievement for a band making their kind of delicate, sensitive music. But at the same time they had to deal with the implicit accusation of selling out. New Slang after all featured in a McDonald's ad in addition to the Garden State soundtrack. Here's an excellent description of how things changed for Mercer and The Shins by someone who is clearly no fan of the film.
"Nobody has ever had Garden State and what it did to/for The Shins more on his mind than Mercer, who in interviews promoting Wincing The Night Away appeared to be alternately elated and terrified by the rapidly expanding audience the film had afforded him. He told The Stranger that while he was making the record he “felt there were now more people who might be as interested as I was in... expanding the territory I dwell in.” But he later confessed to the L.A. Times that he had trouble sleeping after Garden State—which is referenced explicitly in the record’s title, though wrapped in a jokey Sam Cooke reference—because he felt "my whole world was moving around.” Mercer’s discomfort was even more apparent on the record itself; Wincing was drenched in flopsweat, the product of a man who had spent too much time in the studio trying to create music that once seemed breezy and effortless. It was as if Mercer could no longer pretend that he was making music just for himself, and was obsessed with living up to the ridiculously lofty claims of an imaginary nitwit invented by the guy from Scrubs. Wincing The Night Away ended up sounding simultaneously over-thought and inconsequential, “a lovely and well-executed album and—for the first time in the band's career—nothing more,” in the words of Pitchfork’s Matt LeMay. (Probably not coincidentally, Wincing The Night Away was easily the worst-rated Shins album by the web’s pre-imminent music taste-maker, ranking far below Oh! Inverted World’s 8.0 and Chutes Too Narrow’s 8.9.)
But the strain put on Mercer and The Shins by Garden State can be measured by more than arbitrary record scores. By 2009 The Shins were a band in name only; Mercer had sacked drummer Jesse Sandoval and keyboardist (and unfairly accused America’s Next Top Model abuser) Marty Crandall and replaced them with hired guns. He was also collaborating with Danger Mouse on the just-released Broken Bells album and acting in movies with the foxy ex-guitar player from Sleater-Kinney. "I started to have production ideas that I wanted to do that basically required some other people," Mercer explained to Pitchfork. "It's mainly about that. It's an aesthetic decision. It's kind of hard to talk about stuff like that, isn't it? Because I don't want to bum anybody out. I'm on good terms with those guys, I hope to maintain that."

Several months later Sandoval granted a truly bizarre interview to the Portland Mercury where he 1) candidly dispelled the notion that Mercer was on good terms with his ex-bandmates and 2) promoted his awesome new food cart. While Sandoval took pains to point out that Mercer wasn’t “a malicious person,” he paradoxically discussed the gory details of his unceremonious firing, which apparently was done over e-mail and with a minimum amount of tact by his clearly uncomfortable friend/soon-to-be-ex boss. “When I think about this, probably if James really had complete say in it, he would have killed the Shins,” Sandoval told the Mercury’s Ezra Ace Careaff. “I definitely believe management's like, ‘You know, you can't start over, you built a name, people recognize you—why would you want to start all over?’ And so, the only thing he had left to do was to really make a drastic change, and I know working in Los Angeles with a bunch of studio people, he was able to find himself in a position where he didn't have to do 15 takes. Even himself, he could have someone play his parts, and that's a romantic idea. I don't blame him for that.

“It definitely got more complicated,” Sandoval said, reflecting on how fame impacted the band. “That's the hard thing. A complex web of relationships form when you start working with your closest friends. We are all terrible communicators with each other. It's hard when your boss is one of your best friends. I'm pretty sure it's even harder to be the boss of your best friends.”

Reading Sandoval’s interview, I actually feel more sympathy for Mercer, who had obviously reached a point in his life where he either had to move on with his career or be a good friend. It was an impossible decision, because either way Mercer was going to lose. Where he is headed now seems all too clear—he’ll continue to work with “better” musicians and write “better” songs, but he’ll never again make records as beloved as the first two Shins albums. He’s well on his way to becoming just another dude who wrote that song from that movie people used to like. That’s the downside of a song changing your life—everything that comes afterward is sort of an anticlimax."

This is all very sad if true. However, the song itself seems to be about breaking away. Mercer has said that it was written about wanting to get out from the relationship and the place he was in. It's a beautiful statement. As I said I very much like a lot of The Shins songs but this is the one I love.

The Shins 'New Slang'. A song about mortality, slightly about sadness, but going with the flow like we all do.
'Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth.
Only, i don't know how they got out, dear.
Turn me back into the pet I was when we met.
I was happier then with no mind-set.
And if you'd 'a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind.
Well, I'd 'a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.
New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries.
Hope it's right when you die, old and boney.
Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall,
I wish you did call
But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely.
And if you'd 'a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind.
Well, I'd 'a jumped from my tree
And I'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.
God speed all the bakers at dawn may they all cut their thumbs,
And bleed into their buns 'till they melt away.
I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find.
Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?
And if you'd 'a took to me like
Well I'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.'


Michael Stipe

From The Jimmy Fallon Show. This week.The Stipe voice is still there. 

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 7 Dennis Wilson

"His image is really macho. He was a beautiful looking, well-built Californian guy and he lived a pretty debauched life. You listen to that song, though, and it’s very tender. 

"Again," and here’s the continuity, "His voice sounds really sad and hurt. Also, I think Dennis is overlooked as a songwriter in favour of Brian." 

March 31st 1934 Shirley Jones

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 98 Neil Young

Song of the Day # 802 The Goon Sax

Young Brisbane band with a son of Robert Forster among their ranks. They have an album Up to Anything, out this week which is well worth a listen!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 6 Marianne Faithfull

"She sings it far better than Mick Jagger," he reckons, "because it’s a song of experience, like ‘Piss Factory’. If you listen to her voice, she does sound pretty strung-out. The song’s about being addicted to morphine and she was a heroin addict. She went through all that, and that’s why there’s so much pain in her voice. 

It’s the blues, basically. I don’t think you can sing the blues, if you ain’t got the blues. You could play this to someone who doesn’t know much about her and I’m sure they could still hear it’s a great record. So I’ve put it in." 

March 5th 1954 Lene Lovich

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 97 The Yardbirds

Song of the Day # 801 Vivien Goldman

Sounds journalist and now Punk and Reggae Professor at New York University. She put out the EP that this comes from in 1981, with tracks produced by John Lydon and Adrian Sherwood. Oh and Vivien herself posted under this to say that it along with other recordings is to be re-released on Staubgold Records shortly. Here's a link.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

800 Days, 800 Artists, 800 Songs!

                                                                    Last lap to four figures!

  1. Andrew Oldham Orchestra
  2. Dion & the Belmonts
  3. Big Youth
  4. The Left Banke
  5. The Undisputed Truth
  6. Ted Taylor
  7. The Real Kids
  8. U-Roy
  9. The Regents
  10. The Nits
  11. The Velvet Underground
  12. Jacques Dutronc
  13. Aretha Franklin
  14. The Lovin' Spoonful
  15. The Shins
  16. Carl Orff
  17. Minutemen
  18. Peggy Lee
  19. The Chambers Brothers
  20. The Thompson Twins
  21. R.E.M
  22. Louis Armstrong
  23. Bugsy Malone Soundtrack
  24. Dennis Brown
  25. Charlie Rich
  26. Roky Erikson
  27. Richard Harris
  28. Fleetwood Mac
  29. Ricky Nelson
  30. Linda Lewis
  31. The Breeders
  32. XTC
  33. The Byrds
  34. The Isley Brothers
  35. The Swinging Blue Jeans
  36. Al Green
  37. Warren Zevon
  38. Cal Tjaeder
  39. Tim Hardin
  40. The Creation
  41. The High
  42. Melvin Van Peebles
  43. Yamasuki
  44. Nina Simone
  45. Cowboy Junkies
  46. Black Blood
  47. Ride
  48. Friend & Lover
  49. Chicory Tip
  50. The Psychedelic Furs
  51. Elvis Costello & the Attractions
  52. Os Mutantes
  53. Nico
  54. The Paragons
  55. Dmitri Shostakovich
  56. The Au Pairs
  57. The Sir Douglas Quintet
  58. Gregory Porter
  59. Pharell Williams
  60. Television
  61. Miriam Makeba
  62. Billy Fury
  63. It's a Beautiful Day
  64. Simon & Garfunkul
  65. C.W.Stoneking
  66. Derek & the Dominos
  67. Grace Jones
  68. New Order
  69. Ivan
  70. Darrell Banks
  71. Los Saicos
  72. Dr. John
  73. Dalek I Love You
  74. The Mynah Birds
  75. Bonny & Sheila
  76. The Aristocats
  77. The Flamin' Groovies
  78. Broadcast
  79. The Blue Orchids
  80. Desmond Dekker
  81. Love
  82. The Rolling Stones
  83. Guided By Voices
  84. Parquet Courts
  85. The Screaming Trees
  86. Neil Young
  87. Kate Le Bon
  88. Patti Smith
  89. The Black Lips
  90. Mighty Hannibal
  91. Nyuyorican Soul
  92. Vernon Green & the Medallions
  93. Cornershop
  94. Dorothy Ashby
  95. The City
  96. The Smiths
  97. Subway Sect
  98. Deerhunter
  99. Black Merda
  100. Scott Walker
  101. The Charlatans
102. Magazine
103. Lush
104. The Stoney Poneys
105. The Allman Brothers
106. John Cale
107. Toni Harper
108. Tammi Lynn
109. Althea & Donna
110. Bobby Womack
111. Japan
112. The Strangeloves
113. David Bowie
114. The Handsome Family
115. Echo & the Bunnymen
116. Grant Lee Buffalo
117. The Jim Carroll Band
118. Waylon Jennings
119. Carl Douglas
120. Otis Redding
121. Peter & the Pirates
122. Strawberry Switchblade
123. Ben Harper
124. Shoes
125. The Capitols
126. Dusty Springfield
127. Fats Domino
128. Buddy Holly & the Crickets
129. Josef K
130. The Feelies
131. The Heptones
132. Minnie Ripperton
133. The Go Betweens
134. France Galle
135. Loretta Lynn
136. Half Pint
137. Death in Vegas
138. Sun House
139. The Liminanas
140.  The Organ
141. Gladys Knight & the Pips
142. Viv Albertine
143. The Ikettes
144. The Ronettes
145. The Fresh & Onlys
146. TV On The Radio
147. Grizzly Bear
148. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
149. 23 Skidoo
150. Nicodemus
151. Serge Gainsbourg
152. The Moles
153. Devo
154. The Go! Team
155. Kim Wilde
156. Brian Eno
157. The Langley Schools Music Project
158. The Cure
159. George Jones
160. The Gun Club
161. David Hemmings
162. Sugar Chile Robinson
163. John Phillips
164. October Country
165. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
166. Francois & the Atlas Mountains
167. Dexys Midnight Runners
168. Andy Williams
169. Kraftwerk
170. Jackie Mittoo
171. Martha
172. The Chills
173. Richard Barrett
174. Mazes
175. Strawberry Alarm Clock
176. Bruce Springsteen
177. J.D.McPherson
178. Elliott Smith
179. Liz Phair
180. East Brunswick All Girls Choir
181. Future Islands
182. Split Enz
183. The Walking Who
184. Townes Van Zandt
185. Bill Callahan
186. The Mantles
187. Sam & Dave
188. Aztec Camera
189. Jimmy Scott
190. Reigning Sound
191. Sparks
192. Rosetta Hightower
193. Big Star
194. Crime
195. Johnny Cash
196. Moby Grape
197. Katty Line
198. Sinead O'Connor
199. Ultimate Painting
200. The Kinks

201. Jan & Dan
202. Santigold
203. The Boomtown Rats
204. Tim Rose
205. Toots & the Maytals
206. Bobby Darin
207. Billy Swan
208. Marcia Griffiths
209. King Creosote
210. Led Zeppelin
211. Hortense Ellis & Prince Weedy
213. The Pogues
214. Twin Peaks
215. The June Brides
216. The Nips
217. Kate Bush
218. Midlake
219. The History of Apple Pie
220. Dr Alimintado
221. Dr. Savannah's Original Savannah Band
222. White Reaper
223. Orange Juice
224. The Bangles
225. The Allah-Lahs
226. The Exciters
227. Ty Segall
228. Agincourt
229. Baxter Dury
230. The Tyde
231. The Pretty Things
232. The Pastels
233. The New York Dolls
234. Life Without Buildings
235. Felt
236. Sugar
237. Bo Diddley
238. Music Go Music
239. The Troggs
240 Mark Mulcahey
241. U2
242. Hiss Golden Messenger
243. Nilsson
244. Spacemen 3
245. Buffalo Springfield
246. Immigrant Union
247. The Fall
248. Phil Phillips
249. Scritti Politi
250. Slapp Happy
251. Phosphorescent
252. ATV
253. Caitlin Rose
254. Opal
255. Frank Sinatra
256. Lena Horne
257. Hookworms
258. Urge Overkill
259. Jeff Buckley
260. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
261. The Sundays
262. The Monochrome Set
263. Joan As Policewoman
264 Bradford
265. The Growlers
266. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
267. The Who
268. Marcelo Carmelo
269. The Wipers
270. Eric Burdon & The Animals
271. Mission Of Burma
272. Thurston Moore
273. The John Steel Singers
274. Pixies
275. Brigitte Fontaine
276. Tindersticks
277.McGough & McGear
278. Le Roux
279. Yo La Tengo
280. Smoke Fairies
281. ABBA
282. Steely Dan
283. Jimmy Cliff
284. The Beta Band
285. John Lennon
286. Young Fathers
287. Lou Reed
288. Beth Orton
289. Julian Cope
290. Tuff Love
291. John Denver
292. Leonard Cohen
293. The Beach Boys
294. Jim Noir
295. James
296.. My Bloody Valentine
297. Barrington Levy
298. Spectres
299, Fun Boy 3
300. The Saints

301. Grandaddy
302. Eleanor Friedberger
303. The Delgados
304. Villalog
305. My Morning Jacket
306. Miaow
307. Vampire Weekend
308. The Shop Assistants
309. Francoiz Breut
310. Alice Coltrane
311. Blonde Redhead
312. The Shirelles
313. Cass McCombs
314. Creedence Clearwater Revival
315. John Grant
316. Bobbie Gentry
317. Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band
318. The Unthanks
319. Slim Cessna's Auto Club
320. Jessica Pratt
321. The Faces
322. Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
323. Warpaint
324. Dandy Livingston
325. Ex Hex
326. Ought
327. The Delines
328. Kings of Leon
329. Morton Valance
330. The Twilight Sad
331. Michael Head & the Strands
332. The Czars
333. Sun Kill Moon
334. Woods
336. Tricky
337. Adrian Crowley
338. Caravan
339. The Vacant Lots
340. Tommy James & the Shandells
341. Charlie Brown
342. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
343. Eurythmics
344. Judy Collins
345. Fraser A. Gorman
346. The B52s
347. Courtney Barnett
348. Benjamin Brooker
349. The Cartoons
350. Joanna Gruesome
351. The Embarrassment
352. Uncle Tupelo
353. Sleater Kinney
354. Tess Parks
355. The Brian Jonestown Massacre
356. Panda Bear
357. Sons of Bill
358. Gold-Bears
359. Curtis Harding
360. Simply Saucer
361. Liam Hayes
362. Cowboys International
363. Natalie Prass
364. Thin Lizzy
365. The Rails
366. Aldous Harding
367. Belle & Sebastian
368. Waxahatchee
369.Django Django
370. Half Japanese
371. Can
372. Julie Driscoll
373. The Supremes
374. The Stems
375..Unknown Mortal Coil
376. Robert Wyatt
377. The Oh Sees
378. Ryley Walker
379. Twerps
380. Alasdair Roberts
381. Dick Diver
382. D'Angelo & the Vanguard
383. Sammi Smith
384. The Jaynettes
385. Viet Cong
386. Duke Garwood
387. Peter Tosh
388. Darren Haywood
389. Blank Realm
390. Richard Dawson
391. Death & Vanilla
392.Heidi Berry
393. Speedy Ortiz
394. Momus
395. Gregory Isaacs
396. Prince Fatty
397. Jesus & Mary Chain
398. Shack
399. Toro Y Moi
400. Lefty Frizzell

401. Summer Canibals
402. Songhoy Blues
403. Meatbodies
404. Moon Duo
406. The Bronzettes
407. Husker Du
408. Cat's Eyes
409. Oh Ok
410. Surf City
411. William Onyeabor
412.David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights
413. X
414. The Undertones
415. The Skints
416. The Carpenters
417. Digable Planets
418. Lester Bangs
419. The Band
420. The Rutles
421. The Butthole Surfers
422 Sleigh Bells
423. Stereolab
424. Tobias Jesso Jr.
425. Sauna Youth
426. UB40
427. The Sacred Mushroom
428. Aerosmith
429. Hollie Cook
430. Gilberto Gil
431. Ellis Island Sound
432. Parker Milsapp
433. Come On
434.Kendrick Lamarr
435. Gary US Bonds
436. Arcade Fire
437. The Chanters
438. Steve Gunn
439. Houndmouth
440. The Parrots
441. Soko
442. The Jon Spencer Blues
443. Silver Jews
444. Los Yorks
445. The Mighty Lemondrops
446. Blur
447. Sonic Youth
448. Ultravox
449. Bop English
450 Wimpy Milkshake
451. The Field Mice
452. Swervedriver
453. Yazoo
454. The Sleaford Mods
455. Daniel Dare
456. Lana Del Ray
458. Cat Stevens
459. Asha Bhosle
460. Eels
461.Hildegarde Knef
462. Papernut Cambridge
463.The Ladybug Transmittor
464. Sharon Van Etten
465. The Baptist Generals
467. Arborist
468.Ron Sexsmith
469. The Doors
470. Weather Station
472. Mbongwana Star
473. Nadine Shah
474. Pins
475. Les Troubadours Du Roi Badouin
476. Elvis Presley
477. Sly & the Family Stone
478. The MC5
479. Jackson C. Frank
480. Gal Costa
481. Bill Fay
482. Las Kellies
483. ESG
484. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
485. Johnny Thunders
486. Moe Tucker
487. Joachim Witt
488. Canned Heat
489. Buck Owen
490. Sudden Death of the Stars
491. The Milk Carton Kids
492. Sissy Spacek
493. Susan Sondfor
494. The Knack
495. Dyke & the Blazers
496. Associates
497. Earth Wind & Fire
498. Irma Thomas 
499. Joannie Sommers
500 The Beatles

501. Emmylou Harris
502. Joni Mitchell
503. Leon Bridges
504. Leila & the Snakes
505. Ike & Tina Turner
506. Jo Mama
507. Deep Purple
508. Milk & Biscuits
509. Young Rascals
510. Moody Blues
511. Sons of Hippies
512. Bread
513. Port Sulphur
514. Brinsley Schwartz
515. World Of Twist
516.J. Geils Band
517. Judy Henske
518. Jeffrey Lewis
519. The Tokens
520. Rage Against The Machine
521. Donna Summer
522. Manic Street Preachers
523. The Cambodian Space Project
524. Robb Storme & The Whispers
525. Suede
526. Lynsey De Paul
527. Girlpool
528. The Replacements
529/ Super Furry Animals
530. The Mystery Trend
531.The Vibrators
532. Clothilde
533. Johnny Clarke
534. Patrik Fitzgerald
535. John Hartford
536. Brett Smiley
537. Melanie
538. Grapefruit
539. Blancmange
540. Duran Duran
541. Shocking Blue
542. Tall Firs
543. America
544. Heart
545. The Soft Boys
546. John Prine
547. Nick Lowe
548. Ann Peebles
549. Steve Forbert
550. Danny Kaye
551. Dr. Feelgood
552. Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
553. Adriano Celentano
554. Foghat
555.Tears For Fears
556. Maggie Gyllenhaal
557. Liverpool
558. Colin Blunstone
559. Radiohead
560. England's Glory
561. Cilla Black
562. The Youngbloods
563. Rachel Sermanni
564. Marie Queenie Lyons
565. Lead Belly
566. The Kossoy Sisters
567.Delaney & Bonnie
568. Syd Barrett
569. The Steve Miller Band
570. The Loft
571. Groupe Folklorique Montagnais
572. Novella
573. Faith Healer
574. Roseanne Cash
575. Camper Van Beethoven
576. The Pointer Sisters
577. Labi Siffre
578. Donald Byrd
579. The Holy Mackerel
580. Mumps
581. Miracle Legion
582. Stealers Wheel
583. The Pale Fountains
584. Roger Miller
585. The Black Tambourines
586. Mary Hopkin
587. Voodoo Queens
588. Heaven 17
589. The Higsons
590. Dwight Twilley Band
591. Suzanne Vega
592. Gary Valentine
593. The Swan Silvertones
594. Archie Roach
595. Tav Falco's Panther Burns
596. Compulsive Gamblers
597. Weyes Blood
598. The Beau Brummels
599. Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez
600. Wilson Pickett

601. The Lijadu Sisters
602. Dot Wiggin Band
603. The Redskins
604. Kenny Rodgers & The First Edition
605. Menace Beach
606. Magic Castles
607. David Wiffen
608. Air Waves
609. Sturgill Simpson
610. PiL
611. Primitive Parts
612. Gene Chandler
613. Cola Jet Set
614. Daddy Long Legs
615. The Dukes of Stratosphear
616. Warm Jets
617. Rozi Plain
618. The Savage Rose
619. Biff Rose
620. China Crisis
621. Mountain Goats
622. The Poppy Factory
623. The Sundowners
624. Bill Ryder-Jones
625. Sibylle Baier
626. Little Joy
627. Vashti Bunyan
628. Lightships
629. Jane Weaver
630. Evie Sands
631. Atlas Sound
632. Mercury Rev
633. Meilyr Jones
634. Moose
635. Holly Golightly
636. Chastity Belt
637. Mariah
638. Martin Courtney
639. Beach House
640. Pink Floyd
641. Lizzy Mercier Descloux
642. The Method Actors
643. The Districts
644. Love, Peace & Happiness
645. Parachute Men
646. The Jades
647. Hidden Ritual
648. Boomgates
649. Anthony Newley
650. Roisin Murphy
651. Chubby Checker
652. Johnny Rivers
653. Martina Topley-Bird
654. Israel Nash
655. Mountain
656. Steel Pulse
657. Elton John
658. The Blue Nile
659. Freda & the Firedogs
660. Let's Away
661. Aaron Neville
662. Joan Armatrading
663. M.Ward
664. Graham Parker & The Rumour
665. Blue Ash
666. Cheatahs
667. Angel Olsen
668. The Legendary Shack Shakers
669. Asobi Seksu
670. Beach Fossils
671. Wand
672. Margo Guryan
673. Camera Obscura
674. Quilt
675. Yung
676. Cold Pumas
677. Throwing Muses
678. Younghusband
679. Tanita Tikaram
680. P.J. Proby
681. Donald Fagen
682. Anna McGarrigle
683. Andy Shauf
684. The Manhattan Love Suicides
685. The Eagles
686. Total Control
687. Screamin' Witch Doctors
688. April March
689. Widowspeak
690. Jim O'Rourke
691. Bentley Road
692. Look Blue Go Purple
693. Stutter Steps
694. Lonelady
695. Bridget St. John
696. Ivy
697. Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya
698. David Blue
699. Gene Vincent
700. Grin

701. The Turtles
702. Annette
703. The Bridewell Taxis
704. The Fortunes
705. Gwenno
706. Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers
707.Quicksilver Messenger service
708. Day Ravies
709. Boogarins
710. The Human League
711. Petite League
712. Camille Doughty
713. Naive Set
714. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
715. The Showmen
716. Garland Jeffreys
717. Sandy Denny & The Strawbs
718. The Notwist
719. The Guess Who
720. Four Tet
721. Traffic Sound
722. Floraline
723. Komeda
724. Emmit Rhodes
725. Sun City Girls
726. Eric Matthews
727. Tinkerbell's Fairydust
728. The Yardbirds
729. The Seeds
730. The Four Seasons
731. Laura Nyro
732. Black
733. The Blue Aeroplanes
734. Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs
735. Car Seat Headrest
736. Lhase De Sela
737. McCarthy
738. Bonnie Dobson
739.The Romancers
740. Ultimate Spinah
741. Drinking Flowers
742. Norman Greenbaum
743. The Morning Reign
744. Crabby Appleton
745. Louie & the Lovers
746. Daevid Allen
747. Iggy Pop
748. Dana Gillespie
749. Jane Birkin
750. Iron Virgin
751. Jarvis Cocker
752. Hawkwind
753. Vinegar Joe
754. Sister Sledge
755. The Soft Machine
756. Lindsay Duncan
757. Delroy Wilson
758. The Bee Gees
759. Tom Rush
760. Som Imaginario
761. Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck
762. Hilton Valentine
763. Unloved
764. Danse Society
765. Blo
766. Massive Attack
767. The Tropics
768. Hoagy Carmichael
769. The Sneetches
770. Raul Seixas
771. The Monkees
772. Joe Tex
773. Van Morrison
774. Wire
775. Hazel O'Connor
776. Moping Swans
777. Night Beats
778. Jackie DeShannon
779. Al Bowlly
780. Queen Ithica
781. The Hold Steady
782. The Hanging Stars
783. Kane Strang
784. Easter Monkeys
785. Purson
786. The Eyes
787. The Student Teachers
788. J.D. Souther
789. Dionne Warwick
790. Casper & the Cookies
791. P.J. Harvey
792. The I Don't Cares
793. Constantines
794. Red Krayola
795. The Wake
796. Adorable
797. A.R.E. Weapons
798. Lord Melody
799. Algebra Suicide
800. Emma Pollock

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 5 Patti Smith

Strangely, no direct link. But here it is. Here's Bobby.

"This is a song I think people should know about, I heard this at a very early age and it had quite an effect on me. It’s about a girl who has a job in a factory. She’s saying I’m young and I don’t want to spend my life getting up at eight in the morning to work with people I don’t like . 

"It made me feel good that somebody felt the same as me, but she had articulated it better than I ever could. It’s a powerful thing - true to life, you can relate to it. You get a lot of lyric’s these days that are obscure or just plain bad, where people are trying to hide the fact that they don’t have anything to say. These lyrics are extraordinary." 

March 29th 1949 Dave Greenfield

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 96 Betty Wright

Song of the Day # 800 Emma Pollock

I've been waiting to post something from this for a while. A direct link has finally appeared to Emma Pollock's wonderful new album, In Search of Harperfield, a wonderful record about family, place and time. Here's one song. I recommend the rest.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Songs About People # 177 Paul Simon

Song called Paul Simon, though there's no clear reason why it might be entitled that way, by Toronto-based indie band The Russian Futurists.

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 4 Big Star

March 28th 1949 Sally Carr

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 95 The Who

Song(s) of the Day # 799 Algebra Suicide

'We're all committing suicide. And everybody points it out to us.' 

Eighties husband and wife duo from Chicago who channeled all of the weirdness of that decade into a series of 'spoken world tales of twisted modernity and existential crisis'. Another band that you come across and realise that if they hadn't actually existed they would probably need to be invented. They convey all the mannered oddness of so much alternative culture from that period of time; think Laurie Anderson, Twin Peaks, After Hours or that other escape from Yuppie-dom movie Something Wild.

'Wow! Heaven must be a big place.'

Every song is a perfectly realised dose of this controlled trip to the dark side. I've only posted a few here but they had loads on the conveyor belt. It's rather strange to think they weren't huge. The record worth seeking is probably with 1987 compilation, The Secret Like Crazy, or perhaps their definitive song Little Dead Bodies, a Waiting For The Man for the eighties which I couldn't find a direct link to here. Sunday afternoon walks on the weird side.

                                               'Pretend you're jaded. To seem intriguing...'

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Great Lost Band Members # 21 Bryan Gregory

Crater-faced guitarist of the early Cramps. Born Gregory Beckerleg in 1951, he changed his name in tribute to Brian Jones though altering the spelling.Left the band in 1980 with a van-full of their equipment to pursue his interest in either satanism or heroin depending on who you care to believe. Neither was a road likely to lead to longevity. He died in 2001 aged 49.

Stutter Steps

Somebody posted a Smog song on social media which had that old Velvet Underground chug and minded me of this, a Song of the Day from a few months back. So here's a repost.

Song of the Day # 693 Stutter Steps

Although almost sixty years in, most of the best names in Rock and Roll have been taken, it still seems inadvisable to opt for certain ones if you're embarking on a career hoping for an enduring career, lasting fame and more importantly, in the world we're living in, internet hits.

Stutter Steps are a case in point. Though I doubt whether any of those objectives are of the remotest concern to them. Taking their name from a manoeuvre in Tennis, Basketball or American Football, references to this are likely to land at the top of a Google search before you come upon mentions of the group itself and their debut album, also called Stutter Steps released a couple of months back.

Persevere, though. Because the effort is worth it. More of a project than a band, they're the brainchild of Ben Harrison who is also curator of Performing Arms at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Warhol's home town. This must be a pretty great thing to be.

Harrison draws on the help of a number of like-minded friends and accomplices for this record. Dean Wareham and Jeff Baron, (Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor) among them. Given the track record of these two, it's no huge surprise that the album chugs along its rails in determined and utterly focused manner in the spirit of Galaxie 500, Felt, Luna, Smog, the Flying Nun bands, Silver Jews and so forth. If you're at all familiar with this lot, you'll have a reasonably good idea what you'll be getting here.

Most obviously of course, this all comes from late Velvet Underground and the template they laid down, so remarkably with their third album, their fourth one, (lost but later found and re-released in 1985 as VU), their '69 Live double and Loaded.

The sound of this is best described I think by the word 'chug'. The songs and bands that master this form sound like nothing quite so much as old-fashioned steam trains, making their way between stations. Haste is not the main objective. Vaguely meandering lead guitar, determined and disciplined rhythm, woozy organ and those driving Bo Diddley drum patterns so beloved of Mo Tucker. Vocals and backing vocals, not predominant, just adding ingredients and subservient to the overall sound and feel. Lou, Sterling, Doug and Mo. Every bit as good as the Cale version of The Velvet Underground, if not better, though Cale himself might and probably would disagree.

Stutter Steps do this tradition proud. It's fitting in some ways that Harrison is a museum curator as this sound has been around for so long that it's been chiseled to some kind of perfection by so many loving contributions to the point where it's virtually a museum piece in itself. Nothing at all wrong with that. It belongs there.

The album is out now on Wild Kindness Records. How good is the name of that record label. 'Music and art for the sake of music and art,' as is stated on the website. Something else to explore. Stutter Steps is a complete success as a project in every respect. It's a warm, wistful, loving and beautiful album. Simply wonderful.

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 3 The Faces

'"I like a lot of records that make me feel calm," he states, and we’re getting the gist. "They’re generally quite melancholy songs, and that’s one of them. It’s very ‘70s in that it goes, ‘There’s more trouble at the depot with the General Workers’ Union’. Nobody would write that in a song these days because we don’t have a trade union movement any more - the Tories crushed it. 

"That’s not why I like it, though. There’s a feel to it that transcends the lyrics. The Faces were as good as The Rolling Stones, I think.'

March 27th 1957 Billy MacKenzie

A singular talent.

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 94 The Walker Brothers

From 'The Brothers' landmark 1978 album Nite Flights.

Song(s) of the Day # 798 Lord Melody

This blog has not been too strong on West Indian calypso, so to ensure I don't lose the blog audience partial to that stuff, here are three selection from Trinidadian Lord Melody's 1963 album The Mighty Lord Melody.


Relentlessly good-natured music of course. The windows are rain specked here following another of those windstorms that seem set to plague England from now on but here it's always sunshine.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Songs About People # 176 Jeffery Lee Pierce

More doomed romance. Today, somehow by default has become on here by very odd union, Supremes and A.R.E. Weapons day. Here is that latter group's tribute to the late lead sing of The Gun Club from 2009 album, Darker Blue. Very much in the spirit of the man himself. Almost as if he were fronting Suicide. Appropriate really as Pierce was always very close in terms of haunted urban spirit to Alan Vega. No direct link available but here it is.

Great Lost Band Members # 20 Florence Ballard

Florence Ballard, one of Pop Music's very saddest stories. The original Supremes member, she recruited Mary Wilson who in turn brought in Diana Ross. Ballard also chose the group's name and sung lead on early singles. Gradually began suffering from alcohol dependence, itself perhaps brought on by the fact that she had been raped by a local high-school basketball player in 1960. She lost her hold within the group and was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967. Much has been made of her rivalry within the group with Ross, including dark hints that she was effectively ousted by her after a long-term struggle for the spotlight with Berry Gordy's full collusion. Here her own take on her dismissal below.

Ballard's decline from this point on is too sad to relate in detail. She died in 1976, aged just 32 after a cardiac arrest. The song posted below is one side of her debut solo single, released on ABC Records in 1968.

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 2 Mott the Hoople

March 26th 1944 Diana Ross

Appropriately, given the selection below.

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 93 Vanilla Fudge

Song of the Day # 797 A.R.E. Weapons

In early 2001, an it's a sobering thought for me to realise that this is now fifteen years back, a friend and I visited New York with his girlfriend, with a view to moving there permanently. It was probably nothing more than a pipedream. It was round about the time when everybody had been priced out of Manhattan and the city was becoming a rich man's playground.

The main source of inspiration for us to uproot ourselves there was the flood of great music coming out of the place at the time. The Strokes, most immediately of course, but also Walkmen, Moldy Peaches, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and this lot, A.R.E. Weapons.

Although it's almost impossible to mention their name without talking about Suicide, the seventies Punk pioneers from whom they plunder their sound, A.R.E. Weapons' records still sound spoofily exciting. A cartoon dream of the lurid technicolor of life in the big city. Quite ridiculous on every level, but being ridiculous has never disqualified Pop or Rock and Roll music from sounding great. Hunt down anything from their self-titled 2003 debut.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Album Reviews # 61 Green on Red - Gas, Food & Lodging

Rock critic dean Robert Christgau didn't much care for Gas, Food & Lodging. Formerly a supporter of the band, he took against the distinctively new sound of their second album proper in his review of the time in the pages of Village Voice.

They used to be fun, partly because you couldn't tell whether they knew how risibly their wacked-out post-adolescent angst came across. So now they unveil their road/roots/maturity album, which extols heroic dreams and revives Americana - drunks, murderers, husbands who've "passed away." Fun it's not. And in addition to the melodies thinning out, as melodies will, the playing's somehow gotten sloppier. B- 

It's an interesting review. Formerly at least loosely affiliated to the Californian Paisley Underground scene, with a distinctly psychedelic sixties garage feel to their sound, Gas, Food & Lodging clearly saw Green on Red choosing a particular fork in the road. It was to prove a sensible one, career wise, for while their contemporaries in that particular scene were to founder one by one, Rain Parade, Long Ryders, Dream Syndicate and True West, Green on Red endured well into the nineties and then onto solo careers for main men Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet that still must pay the rent. I'll try to assess the aesthetic merits or otherwise of that decision here.

I bought Gas, Food & Lodging at the time of its release in 1985. Clued up by interviews from R.E.M. on their first visits to the UK to the Paisley Underground scene, I steadily began to acquire the records by the major players coming out from that scene and getting a reasonable amount of attention from the Melody Maker and the alternative evening TV programme, The Old Grey Whistle Test. Gas, Food & Lodging was a slightly less amenable record than many of the others. Not trying to be likable, rather opting for edgy and wired, Christgau was quite right about it being thinner on melodies while compensating in terms of attitude.

It's quite clearly life viewed from the bottom of a glass at the end of an evening, worse for wear, in a dimly lit bar somewhere in mythic America, with a potential nemesis crouched on the same bar a few stools down. Not altogether authentic, Green on Red are trying on clothes here, much as Tom Waits had a few years earlier, they wore them in only properly after long gigging slogs up and down the American highway. 

It's the America of Peckinpah, Ford, Steinbeck, Hammett and Cain, filmic and wide-screened and hell-bent on trouble. At least that's what they're aiming for though not every shot hits home. As I've suggested the band's sound still needs filling out and much of the grittiness that's hinted at here comes from the pages of paperbacks rather than lived-experience. It would come with time.

Nevertheless, it certainly has its moments and you can see why it's come to be remembered as a pioneering record, guiding american guitar bands back to Americana as Christgau suggests. I'd go for This I Know and Easy Way Out for starters as moments where heart wins out over head and the band show themselves as capable of an independent vision distinct from their book, record and video collections.

While Stuart is not quite the ice-cold killer he'd like to sell himself as here, he certainly sounds as if he's putting in his time at the bar. Both he and his band come across as drunk for a good deal of the time over the course of the record and that's just as it should be. They're embracing a certain vision of dissolution and loss that's deeply American, going back to the frontier days and rearing its head every decade since.

Neil Young is the obvious, ever-present musical touchstone. Young himself is absolutely ragged and inconsistent in terms of his outputs, not everything seems to fit, even on his very best records and Green on Red take up that template. Songs don't necessarily follow one another or slot together, all snapshots from the dreamlike and endless American road. 

So Gas, Food & Lodging is the sound of Stuart sharpening his pencil and the band working on their licks. Not a perfectly realised vision but a prototype for where they saw themselves a few years down the line. Christgau is right to the extent that it's not much fun, but then overall its work in progress. The band were intent on survival and psychedelicisms and garage moves alone weren't likely to get them there. They chose the road and were right to do so. This is not a perfect record by any means but in its own way, it is an important one.

Here's an alternative judgement from Christgau's, perhaps the appropriate, historical one  from a 2003 review from Uncut. 

'For a band whose significance as path-beaters between early ’70s outlaw country and early ’90s No Depressionism grows ever more indelible, Green On Red’s back catalogue has been appallingly mishandled. Gas Food Lodging from 1985 (which was an Uncut Classic Album in October 2002) remains a defining example of howling country-punk, featuring Dan Stuart’s vicious rasp. On the likes of “Hair Of The Dog”, the music joins the dots between Merle Haggard and The Replacements.'

Great Lost Band Members # 19 Jim Tucker

Rhythm guitarist of The Turtles. Supposedly left the band after being publicly humiliated by John Lennon in a night club in London an episode which, if true, speaks clearly about Lennon's deeply ugly streak. Howard Kaylan of the band recalls it thus:

'An apparently drunk or high Lennon mean-spiritedly mocked The Turtles’ then-rhythm guitarist Jim Tucker, making fun of his unfashionable clothes and his unruly hairdo, then launching into a dirty rendition of Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game” rhyming “Tucker” with a certain expletive. Howard says Lennon continued his verbal attack until tears began welling up in Tucker’s eyes. Kaylan’s band mate eventually fired back at Lennon, “I thought you were the coolest guy on the planet. I can’t believe I met you [and] you turned out to be this ass,” to which John responded, “You never met me, son. You never met me.”

Howard says Tucker, who had worshipped Lennon, was so upset by the incident that “he ran out of the club, he got into a taxi, he flew back to California [shortly thereafter], he never played music again [and] I never saw him after that.”'

Such is the nature of Rock and Roll myth. Tucker, in any case, denies the story. Nevertheless, he did leave the band shortly thereafter.

Bobby Gillespie Select Magazine Mixtape February 1992 # 1 Dion

And with one series over, it's probably best to get straight on and start another. In February 1992 in a cover feature for now long-defunct music magazine Select, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie put together a C-90 cassette mixtape to illustrate his Rock and Roll cool and love of music in his flat in Brighton. I won't quote all of his comments on his selections, the original interview is here, but the music is undeniably great!

Side 1 Track 1

"It’s absolutely beautiful, isn’t it?" he splutters suddenly. "It’s almost like a New Orleans funeral march. You just imagine it’s raining and it’s really hot and sticky and there’s a huge procession of people with top hats and umbrellas doing the Second-Line dance." 

March 25th 1942 Aretha Franklin

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 92 The Turtles

Song(s) of the Day # 796 Adorable

There are things that end up on here which I never imagined would. Like these for example. From distinct Creation also-rans from the early nineties before the label came across Oasis and their course changed. Nevertheless, this is a fine debut single, particularly its last few minutes when it lifts off into somewhere new as the guitars speed away into a blur.

Adorable had a brief moment in the sun in the early nineties, between Shoegazing and Grunge when the music papers, and Melody Maker in particular were looking for something to push. Really, they lacked sufficient personality to distinguish themselves long-term from the pack. Their songs are pitched somewhere between My Bloody Valentine, Ride and The House of Love, with an additional but distinct Echo & the Bunnymen edge to their sound which was an unusual lead to follow at that point of time.First album Against Perfection is a tuneful and occasionally diverting, if generic collection of songs that now collects high prices on Discogs, probably more for its rarity rather than as a lost classic, waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Songs About People # 177 Edgar Allan Poe

It's always interesting when great writers are co-opted into Rock and Roll if only to see what rhyme is chosen to go with their name. In this case Lou Reed goes for 'not exactly the boy next door.' Hats off to Lou. No, it doesn't rhyme. From The Raven album, a larger tribute to the man.

Papernut Cambridge - Nutlets 1967-1980 # 10 Mikey Dread

The last of a brief, but enjoyable series. Also the most surprising cover and the most recent, dating back to 1980.