Not my own choice but it sounded pretty good coming out of Rosie's jukebox on a sunny Saturday afternoon after Newcastle United football team got a vital win in their relegation battle which still might see them making it safe.This, meanwhile, was a Top Ten UK hit in 1979.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
One of the more disturbing things about growing old when you're at my age is the anniversaries of things which still seem comparatively recent but are actually receding in the rear view mirror. Beth Orton's Trailer Park, for example is now twenty years old. Best not to dwell on that, she has a new record out called Kidsticks in a couple of months and these two songs have been put out there in terms of pre-release publicity.
Both sound great, on Moon below, she sounds as if she's being backed by Japan. In general though they're neither a million miles away from the basic template of Trailer Park itself. Well, if it ain't broken...
A much covered song in the sixties as it espoused many of the basic sentiments of those times. Jefferson Airplane and Judy Henske also recorded it. Here's Ritchie.
My new favourite band! An Argentinian duo, based in Berlin with that warm, dark, vaguely threatening, industrial urban synth sound pioneered most obviously by Suicide. Their name translates as 'death to humanity' which tips you the wink as to their pre-occupations and general disposition. Still it all sounds just great with the vocals intoned in Spanish. They draw on a clear heritage, but like similarly inspired Australian band Total Control manage to twist things into modern sounding and quite compelling shapes. These two selections come from their most recent album, Miseress, released last year on the ATP label. Very taken by this! Hopefully, you won't find the images above and below distressing.
Friday, April 29, 2016
'I can be lonely sometimes. I can be lonely right in the middle of a crowd' Elvis Presley once said. But it took this band of enfant miserables to find the song that fit the thought. They said it with primordial punk stomp overridden by a great guitar riff (same one Bruce Springsteen used for Roulette) and fleshed out with the saddest of all sad schoolyard stories, the one about the guy who can't fit in even with the other misfits. 'Worm my way into the heart of the crowd.../ Shot by both sides / On my way to the outside of everything,' croaks Howard Devoto, expressing more truths than he perhaps imagines: The reason the others won't let him fit in, the reasons he doesn't want to, the reasons he does anyway, why he think it's a secret, why everybody really knows the score.'
I have to say I'm not entirely sure what Marsh is on about towards the end of this paragraph but people tend to go this way when writing about Magazine. Still, he's quite right about Springsteen's Roulette lifting the same riff.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Pure Chuck Berry, which perhaps goes some way to explain why Eddie & the Hot Rods never really established true punk credibility. It was very much to the liking of a bloke at the bar at Rosie's on being played on Friday night who had bought an original way back when.
'Rocking fifties group harmony doesn't get any more basic than this hot, sweet little puppy-love jump tune, in which Frankie Lymon finally makes it all the way to 'W, X, Y and Z' before lapsing into a series of wordless 'uh-uh-oh-oh''s that are immediately matched by a squawking sax break.'
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
With the deaths of Bowie and Prince in its first four months, it's been a pretty dispiriting start to 2016 for music fans beyond a certain age. We go on of course, and it is heartening how many very good albums have been released just in this short time. Here are the ones I've liked most. Ordered in approximate order of preference though this will surely change.
1. David Bowie
2. Kevin Morby
3. Parquet Courts
4. Eleanor Friedberger
5. Sunflower Bean
6. Margo Price
7. Cate Le Bon
8. Charles Bradley
10. Goon Sax
11. Ray LaMontagne
12. Ulrika Spacek
13. The Hinds
14. Steve Mason
15. Emma Pollock
Another to add to the growing list of interesting records released already this year. Cate Le Bon's Crab Day. What I've hear on first listen doesn't reinvent the wonky Le Bon Wheel, but is a further variation on the enticing and resolutely quirky, out of her tree stuff she's becoming increasingly known for. This is the pre-release single and probably the most conventional thing on here. Elsewhere you get the sense that Captain Beefheart himself would approve. I'll be back. Highly enjoyable. Songs for Mad Aunts. Or a children's party!
Along with the last couple of choices, Dave Marsh, the book's author is making a political, anti-Reagan point here. This time focusing on the joke he made, shortly before going on-air, about commencing bombing the Russians in five minutes
This lot never got their due. Well they were a girl band! But not The Spice Girls. Two fine songs here from either end of their career. The first, a sixties girl Shangri-Las pastiche, with an incredibly complex melody and structure. The second from The Beach soundtrack. Again great melody. They have a new record out this year. Normal transmission will resume tomorrow but I do love both of these.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Clifford telling the story of a backstage Creedence bust-up.
'It was in the Midwest somewhere, sometime in seventy. We were in a locker room, just this big massage table for big basketball players. We had an excellent set, one of our best shows. We knew it and the crowd was going nuts. What happened was Tom and Stu were sitting on the floor leaning up against these lockers drinking Pepsis because we didn't even have beer, bottles of Pepsi. I'm drinking one and I'm hyper, sky-high, full of adrenaline. I'm little and I'm wiry and I'm strong for my size. When you have the adrenaline rush, you hear about ladies picking up off kids, and I'm real excited and I say, 'What's the encore,' he said, 'We're not doing one.'
I thought he was kidding. I said, 'What are you gonna do, let 'em bleed out there?' We had three songs we'd do, and we'd pick one depending on what the crown was doing. He said 'We're not doing one' and he's sitting on the table and I say, 'Why? Why?' He says, 'Encores are phony. From this moment on Creedence Clearwater will never do another one.' I looked at Tom and Stu and said, 'Let's go guys, If we go out there he has to follow us. If we go out there, he's not gonna not show up. Let's go out.' I start to go out and both of them put their heads down at the same time.
At that instant everything started going in slow motion for me. I went blank, all I could see was red. I couldn't see any image for about a second and I took the goddam bottle of Pepsi and I smashed it against the locker as hard as I could. It shattered into a million pieces. I walked over to the table where John was sitting. The legs were wide. I picked the table up, and as I did the table slipped from its weight, he rolled off and things are in very slow motion and he rolled two and a half times and he rolled up against the locker. And he's looking at me and he's got his hands up like I was gonna crush him with the table. Now I've got the table up above my head and he's got his hands like he thinks I'm gonna throw the table on him, which would have hurt him very seriously. And then I looked at him in the face. I looked him right in the eye, it was like the first day I ever met him, like he was thirteen years old again. And I broke the legs off the table and I pointed them at him and I said, 'You're wrong, you're wrong,' and I walked out. I wouldn't ride home with the band. So the next day I walked in and I said, 'No more encores, we're having beer in the dressing room. No beer before the show, but you have your way, I'm having beer.' we got beer, but we lost. That was the beginning of the end of the band, because we would go out and work the audience up and leave the stage knowing we couldn't do an encore and that was tortuous. We never did one ever again.'
Strangely, no direct link. Here you go!
With Prince's passing on Thursday the press have understandably gone into overdrive into the sheer number of famous and important figures who have passed over this calendar year. Not just in the field of Rock, in the UK at least. Obviously Prince and Bowie stand out in the list as completely irreplaceable figures indicating to some degree that an era has come or is coming to an end. But then again perhaps it never will. Records keep coming out in 2016, sixty years after the start of it all and some very, very good ones too.
We're only coming to the end of April and I can already list fifteen albums that have grabbed my attention so far this year, and reward replaying, this being just the latest. Dressed immaculately in the clothes of absolute classic Country, the debut album of Margo Price, Midwest Farmer's Daughter just out on Jack White's Third Man Records label. The title of the record and its cover are enough to signal its intention's blindingly. Margo knows her stuff. This is pure Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Bobbie and Emmylou and every song on the record is deeply steeped in their guiding inspiration.
But it's also at the same time her own story. Very much so. Six minute opener Hands of Time, is surely the most important recorded statement she'll ever make, a potted history of her own narrative. A classic Country tale of loss, struggle, woe, but absolutely grained in gritty determination to endure. Margo's a fighter. It's all sung with that utterly distinctive and familiar Nashville lilt which she nails utterly Brilliant, inspirational stuff.
The rest of the record does it proud. A series of battles with errant men, the bottle, the bank manager and the law. Much of it tracing more chapters of her own story, She's only in her early thirties but has already lived the life and this informs her writing and delivery quite beautifully. Some songs strike home more surely than others, the ones most obviously drawn and inspired by her own personal experience are the true pearls.
This is a wonderful record from a true talent. Not least in terms of its lyrics which indicate a rich and wry comic humour and an uncanny ability to shoehorn beautifully crafted lines into her song's overall structure and shape. It's a lesson, if one were needed, that this stuff never really goes away or out of fashion. Go to Margo's Spotify Playlist, for a wonderful set of her own influences, a great set of records in this fine tradition. Or just listen to her record or read her story. It's the real deal. Go girl!
Saturday, April 23, 2016
The Beatles met The Rolling Stones for the first time at The Crawdaddy Club in Richmond in 1963. I personally moved to Richmond myself as a nine year old with my family twelve years later in 1975. A possibly less auspicious Rock and Roll date.
Great camp Elvis derived Rockabilly from 1968. Released at the time in a limited edition of a hundred copies it's since been re-released on CD. The sixties updates on that classic Rock and Roll fifties blueprint are what makes it plus Cole's utterly unrestrained and utterly over the top delivery. Truly the thing of cults and puts this straight into the company of Screaming Jay Hawkins and The Cramps.
Find it on Spotify or YouTube. The whole thing is a complete delight. I could easily post any number of songs but these two are sufficient to get across the general flavour. Second track Feels Good sounds almost like The King backed by The Troggs. A treat!
Friday, April 22, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Here are three songs from Richmond Fontaine's tenth and last album, You Can't Go Back If There's Nothing To Go Back to, released just recently. The band are also as we speak playing gigs on their farewell UK tour. The album title tells the story of its thirteen songs. They're peopled by drifters, drinkers and losers on a permanently downward spiral in small and desperate towns in the Mid-West. It's all quite unrelenting. Not easy listening by any means.
In short doses, though it's highly effective, like the very best Raymond Carver short stories. So clearly and vividly scripted that each song visualises itself in the listener's head instantly. On the impending band split singer and songwriter Willie Vlautin is set to focus on his other project The Delines and his writing. Here's an uncompromising, stark and finely crafted goodbye to this particular chapter of his and the others' lives.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Go Biblical! Old Testament Prophet! Think Ezekiel! That's the way for singer-songwriters looking to evoke the condition of the rural wilderness. Either physical or emotional. To cut beneath the skin and draw blood. Bob Dylan understood this instinctively, as did Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash at his best, Nick Cave and David McComb in the decades since and now it seems, so does Kevin Morby. At least judging by his new, recently released album Singing Saw. Sorry for being so fanciful but this does deserve it.
It's a quite spectacular record. I spent my day at work immersing myself in it. Play upon play from morning to late afternoon until the songs began to burrow themselves into my bones. I couldn't recommend it to you more highly.
Morby is a musician in his late twenties but you wouldn't know he was still flushed in youth, (relatively speaking), listening to this. The record sounds enormously lived in. Haunted almost. He isn't particularly blessed with an overwhelmingly distinctive singing voice but his writing, lyrics and arrangements richly compensate for this. He's clearly taking Dylan circa-Nashville Skyline as his starting point, very occasionally straying towards vocal inflections slightly too close to home and verging on occasion on parody.
This is a minor carp however. For the most part he manages the balance between drawing on the well of his influences and striking off on his own path incredibly deftly. The album is at its best when it really starts to gather steam and give off heat, and begins to feel as if it must have been written and performed somewhere in the American backwoods back in 1971. When it does, most brilliantly in its seven minute title track, it touches on greatness. That particular song isn't available through direct Internet link here, but I urge you to hunt it down. It's one of the best songs of the year so far, at least among the ones I've come across.
Its companions are far from shamed by its company. I'd like to thank an old friend and supporter of this blog, Rod, who directed me towards this a couple of days back. I'm grateful! Albums like this one seem to come down the pike from America every few years. Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and Phosphorescent's Muchacho spring to mind. Singing Saw is as good as either one of them, high praise indeed, and one of the very best records released in 2016 thus far.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
I've got half a mind on a new Elliott Smith series on here. Watch this space! XO plus one other record are the options available at Rosie's which isn't really a big enough selection. This is almost cheery by Elliott's standards.
Posting this band on here yesterday led to me listening to their two most highly rated records, Madonna and Sources, Tags & Codes. The latter, remarkably, was given a perfect 10 rating by the Pitchfork website on its release in 2002. It's not that. The fact that it's not directly available on vinyl now is perhaps an indication that its reputation has dipped since. It's an album with clear flaws and limitations but it does have many fine moments, such as this!
Monday, April 18, 2016
A repeat post from a couple of years back for this series:
I find the early Siouxsie & the Banshees an interesting band in the sheer, unashamed nastiness that's on display which seems such an important part of the artistic statement they were trying to make. I still really like a lot of their early records because for me they try to say something about the human condition that we spend most of our lives trying to deny and repress. The important original incarnation of the Banshees split in 1979 depending on how you look at it in spectacular or grubby circumstances. Here's an oral account of how it happened from Mark Paytress's authorised biography. Cast is Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin (bass), Kenny Morris (drums), John McKay (guitar) and Nils Stevenson (Banshees manager).
Sioux: If there's a song at the heart of Join Hands it's Poppy Day which was created as a soundtrack for the Remembrance Day two-minute silence. There was something hugely appealing about creating music for a silence. We used a lot of First World War imagery and that imbued the whole album. It was a very un-rock'n'roll subject for a record, but one that was incredibly powerful.
John and Kenny hated the artwork. As far as Severin and I were concerned, the image we used of soldiers on the sleeve was perfect... There was conflict in Iran and bombings in London and it all seemed to fit. It wasn't any pro-military message; we just wanted to catch the spirit of what things were like at the time.... Musically Join Hands was an uncompromising album and it still sounds modern today. We were lonely and isolated and that comes across in the music. It's an extreme record, but a very brave one and that's why I still have a soft spot for it.
The single from the album had been Playground Twist which was about as far removed from Hong Kong Gardens as we could get. It's about the cruelty of children and the whole aspect of being thrown out into the playground in winter in howling gales and left to fend for yourself. It's not the sort of thing you're supposed to write pop songs about.
Morris: We'd be on the tour bus and all sitting separately. Steven would be in his own seat, Nils and Siouxsie would be sitting together. Me and John would be sat at the back.... we were all very sad and all very silent. There was no point in talking. When conversation stops, everything stops. It was obvious that things were going wrong. We disagreed over so many things, and every time there was an issue we were outnumbered three to two.
7th September 1979. Capital Theatre Aberdeen
Sioux: We only played a couple of gigs before we got to Aberdeen. Cracks were already showing in the band. Although Steven and I weren't aware how wide they were.
Severin: It was a Saturday morning and we had an in-store signing scheduled at the local record shop. Yet again no-one had told John we were doing it, so he was in a strop by the time he got there. This was about lunchtime and we were supposed to be going down to the soundcheck immediately afterwards, but the signing was a fiasco right from the off. There were loads of people waiting to get the new album signed but Polydor hadn't sent enough copies up to the shop, so we were having to sign copies of The Scream and the singles instead.
When we walked into the shop they were playing Join Hands, so of course the very first thing John did was say, ' I fucking hate this record.' He walked up, lifted the needle and put on The Slits album which had come out the same week. Siouxsie started fuming.
Sioux: Because Polydor had forgotten to get enough records for us to sign, we used these copies that had been stamped "For Promotion Only - Not for Resale", and John and Kenny started giving them away. I pushed John and had a go at him, calling him an idiot or something. Nothing too nasty.
Morris; I remember that moment so vividly, Seconds before it Nils said to me, 'The manager in the shop wants to take a photo,' Nils noticed my face was really down and said, 'I saw your face. I saw the way you looked.'
Severin: Then the most bizarre thing happened. It was almost like it was prearranged, like a union downing tools and going out on strike. Without a word, not even to each other, John and Kenny stood up and walked out of the store. It seemed like they were waiting for the signal and that shove from Siouxsie was it. Our initial thought was 'Fuck 'em - another day another strop, we'll see them at the soundcheck'.
Morris: We found ourselves outside. I remember crushing an empty can of Coke with my eyes welling. We walked down the street in tears, had a cup of tea and went back to the hotel. This is it. We'd had enough. It was always Sioux, Steven and Nils. That's the story. We were always outnumbered. Nils thought we'd never leave; What the fuck else would we do? Well he took us for granted. We were never interested in money. We were interested in taking an artistic stand against the establishment, musically and socially. It was about principles.
Sioux: We were supposed to meet at the venue for the soundcheck and John and Kenny didn't turn up. It didn't seem too out of the ordinary. I thought they were probably sulking in their rooms.. Then we found out they'd stuck pillows under the blankets with their tour passes on them and had just run off. Nils went to one of the train stations to see if he could catch them. But they'd gone.
Morris: We had about £200 between us and had to pay the taxi driver £50 to take us to the airport. John freaked. He kept looking behind us and saying 'They're going to send the police after us'. I said, 'John they're not gonna do that. We're not that important'.
Severin: From the venue we went back to the hotel and then back to the gig. They still weren't there and that's when it began to sink in that they really had run off. I was devastated. I thought my whole life had collapsed. The Cure who were supporting us were doing an extended set in the vain hope that John and Kenny might turn up but it was pretty obvious that they wouldn't.... I think it was Robert (Smith of The Cure) who said ' Well why don't we all go on and do 'The Lord's Prayer'? He'd seen us do it before, so he knew what to do.
Sioux: It actually felt really good to have played rather than gone away with our tails between our legs. I seem to remember telling the audience that if they saw John and Kenny they had my permission and blessing to kick the shit out of them.
Smith played for the rest of the tour with the Banshees which continued without McKay and Morris.
Morris: John and I were on the run. We were in hiding. If any punks had seen us or found us we could have been murdered.
Sioux: A couple of months later Blondie had a party at the Notre Dame Hall in London and I saw Kenny there...
Severin: I was sitting with this girl, a friend of Kenny's who was defending John and Kenny for leaving. Then she suddenly pointed Kenny out, sitting four or five tables away.. He was with three or four other people, so I walked up to him and whacked him. Nils had seen me approaching the table and was there in an instant, as was Siouxsie. Kenny half fell off his chair and went to stand up, and as soon as he did, Nils hit him. He fell down, and as he was lying on the floor, Siouxsie started kicking him. People from all sides were pulling us apart so it was over very quickly. Nils explained the situation to security and Kenny was asked to leave, not us, which made it even more satisfying.'
Cope covered this, the first song from Pere Ubu's mighty debut The Modern Dance, in the mid-eighties. That Petrol Emotion were doing a live version of their own at round about the same point. It's no surprise, it must have been simply a great fun thing to play. Cope who sounds like a choirboy in comparison with David Thomas almost makes this into a pop object. The track itself, is played almost note for note which is just as it should be.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
A difficult and long undertaking this one. But here we go. In 1989, Dave Marsh, a former journalist of Rolling Stone and Creem published a book where he charted his take on the 1001 best singles ever made. It's full of long, personal stories justifying his selections which I may not quote at length but I do recommend the book. Here's his first choice. A fairly great way to start!