The man with the funk.Head honcho for a series of outrageous but hyper-enlightened combos from the mid-sixties onwards. Still at it!
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Well it's her birthday today so she lands up here. One of the true life-forces. Also well rounded enough to know that her work isn't everything and equally determined to keep living her life and maintaining her privacy as well as intermittently producing her strange and wonderful individualist art.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Flip side to their final single Take the Time. Their sound on this is curiously updated from the prototype of their classic hits, not dissimilar here to the Supremes, (I Hear a Symphony comes to mind). This is really made by Mary Weiss's utterly distinctive spoken passage towards the end of the song.
And to follow up again. While we're on the street. Here's someone else who's made it pretty much a metaphor for life in a career long search across the underbelly of experience. Ian Svenonius is an odd, particular driven humorist and historian of everything that still makes Rock and Roll such a source of fascination to so many people. He's still exploring new avenues but here's something from his own history.
While we're here. To revive this series which has been lying dormant for at least a couple of weeks. Crocodiles again with a tribute to the ultimate sleazy pin up boy of Rock and Roll. Some appropriate squeals towards the fade out of this.
Crocodiles are a band who have based much of their long career on coming on as a thinly-veiled Jesus & Mary Chain tribute act. This seems a slightly pointless venture given that the Mary Chain more than perhaps any other band defined what they were all about to a point beyond parody over a career that was certainly a few years and albums too long given what they had to say. Here, though from Crocodiles most recent album, last year's Boys, the San Diego duo who form the core of the band do nail a certain sleazy urban street cool. With nods to Iggy and Stiv Bators too!
Here to accompany that is one of their early standout tracks where they genuflect instead before the altar of Alan Vega, Martin Rev and Suicide but where the song and vibe have sufficient vim to allow them to pull it off. They haven't always got away with their naked plagiarism over the course of their career, it's always perfectly obvious what they love most and where this all comes from, but in their best songs they achieve a fair level of copycat flair.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Now here's a man who belongs here. A true, individualist vision which he's carried all the way through. Originally fueled by intense, righteous anger, he now seems finally comfortable in his skin and truly enjoying it all. Respect to the guy!
This record, the debut album from Charles Howl entitled Sir Vices, released last year is quite wondrous in itself but additionally has helped me rediscover the early joy and promise of The Stone Roses,something I thought I'd never re-imagine. That whole vibe is so dead more than twenty five years on given the way that that particular band have trashed their own legacy and become a cliche. I never thought I'd love them again. But here it is once more, Wedded to a Lo-Fi and tightly honed sound that revisits the whole 'worship the sun' vibe of the early Roses. Summoning guitars and the itching feeling that something is just about to happen. The album keeps a tight rein throughout. Never lets a song go on beyond four minutes, and each track maintains its boundaries and is mostly stuck between the two and three minute limit. It makes you feel like you're at a fairground and are getting off one ride and about to go on to another. Giddy, and unable to resist the next moment. That whole basic thrill. Always different but always slightly the same.
The interesting wedding the band choose is between Ian Brown at his very best, way back in his deep, dark meaningful days is by matching that vision with the rattle of The Modern Lovers and the pure noise, drive and purpose of Neu. It's perfect on its own terms. Twelve songs long as every record should be. Six on each side.Thisalbum has the pure song to song joy of Kilimanjaro and Murmur without really cohering as an object and product in the way those two naturally did. It's still a quite wonderful thing!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Suggested by Milli. A Rosie's regular. For a big Rod fan who was sitting at the end of the bar and is off to see him play in Los Vegas on three occasions but didn't even notice the song was playing when we put it on because he was chatting away. Such is life! Good song anyway.
So to Scott. Impossibly beautiful of course as the picture above testifies but also blessed with deeper and richer talents through which he built his legacy over five decades. The Walker Brothers records would be sufficient to ensure this probably, but his solo records were the ones in which he first really plotted his own strange path. His late sixties albums are an exploration into the soul. Bleak, powerful and nuanced, thick slices from existential novels or films. He's since made several even wilder and braver experimentations in sound and text, which frankly are often too 'out there' and removed from the pure melody of those sixties records for my personal taste. But he remains a true pioneer. Ask Bowie, for whom he was a mentor and guiding inspiration for almost every record he ever made.
I purchased the first, eponymous Icicle Works album among my clutch of first records between 1983 and 1985 as I was belatedly forming my collection and constructing a semblance of a personality in my late teens before heading to university. I kind of knew it wasn't quite as credible as other contemporary things I was buying at round about the same time of a similar bent like The Smiths, R.E.M., Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole & the Commotions.
It was really trying too hard, aiming unashamedly for the peaks achieved by fellow Liverpudlians the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes. Lead singer and songwriter Ian McNabb had clearly been inspired by their example but his songs were rather kitchen sink-ish in their construction and approach and his lyrics stretching too hard for the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch's poetic resonance but insisting on dotting all the 'i's and crossing all the 't's. I don't listen to it now although it contains a number of chunky, melodic, evocative songs It's too much a thing of youth. Specifically, the sixth form.
But I would stick by at least four of its tracks, which I've posted here. Here McNabb, projects his rich, Scott Walker inspired voice wonderfully and the band gel to create that mighty, dynamic brew that seems particular to three-piece rock bands. I haven't chosen Love is a Wonderful Colour, their sole, big British hit, (which to me is rather cloying), but Birds Fly most of all, which remarkably hit the American Top 40 at a time when very few British guitar bands were making any such inroads. I think this is their best song and I've also put up a handful more to keep it company. The Icicle Works fell a little short overall of their vaulted ambitions, but there are definite moments on this first record where they capture the giddy happy moment of being sixteen, perhaps in love for the first time, and knowing that all life lies before you. And that's an achievement!
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
More drip-feed from their forthcoming album Calico Review which is out at the beginning of September and sounds more and more like a must-buy. This is pure late period Velvet Underground from first note to last. But then that's one of my very favourite things, so no criticism from me on that front.
Monday, July 25, 2016
One for Dekka! On an evening when nostalgia ruled the roost and Sinatra, Martin and King Cole all got played.
And from the French Ray Davies on this series to the English one. A true giant, though perhaps he's never quite recognised as one to the extent that he should be. The writer of so many wonderful, utterly distinctive and very English songs. This is one of my personal favourites. Sums up in many respects life's whole odd, mad journey. Neither Lennon or Jagger ever wrote a song as socially acute as this. Even Dylan and Bowie took a much more allusive route while Davies here just tells it the way it actually is. In many ways a very angry song about what he saw happening to the people and the community he had grown up in, being farmed away from the places they'd lived all their lives in to apparently idyllic retirement towns. Strangely, (or perhaps not so strangely), not a hit, The Kinks were going through something of a commercial hiatus when it was released in 1969. Maybe the conclusions it drew were too hard for too many to take. It did make it to # 24 in Holland however.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Until today I was unaware that Dean Martin had a daughter called Deana. As well as one called Gina! Deana went on to have a fairly mainstream showbiz career, but this, her first single from 1966, could have had her heading in a different direction. Produced by Lee Hazlewood, who knew better than almost anybody how to do these things, it's a great slice of pop psychedelic kitsch.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
So while we're here. A man who wasn't originally on my list but certainly isn't out of place. Actually Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV. Someone who treats songwriting like a mathematical exercise, all the while twinning his main inspiration points of Iggy Pop and The Bible. Nobody had ever thought of it before. It's impossible to truly express how deeply exciting those early Pixies records seemed back in the late eighties.
A day of disappointment when I'd woken hoping to buy tickets for Pixies forthcoming December gig in Newcastle which were dashed by ten fruitless minutes of trying to get through to the box office in vain when it opened only to find out it had sold out in six, largely I suspect to touts who will then go on to sell them off to poor fans at inflated prices over the coming months. They were always too large a draw to play a venue of the size they were booked to but still. Not quite sure why this isn't a crime, much less an upfront and apparently respectable business. So, anyway, I put this on the jukebox at Rosie's early on a sunny Friday evening and it sounded great.
Sea Pinks are a three piece from Belfast fronted by a guy called Neil Brogan. Their new album Soft Days offers simple, guitar driven melodic thrills which anybody who's listened to records by Real Estate, The Go Betweens, The Smithereens, The Black Lips or The Undertones will recognise and enjoy.
There's not much more to them than this. They're not really bringing anything new to the table. Record Collector describes the record as 'just so much old hat' but the world will always have room for old hats. Their songs are well crafted and joyous explorations of the simple pleasures in life. Here are three highlights of the album.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Truly, the sound of the English suburbs:
'Is there a group more suburban than The Cure? In England is Mine, Michael Bracewell made much of their origins in humble Crawley. ‘'Quiet and respectable, yet lacking the bourgeois superiority of nearby Haywards Heath (home of Suede), Crawley is a near perfect example of England at its least surprising,” (115) he wrote. For Bracewell, the group are the sound of the in-between spaces of English culture: the suburbs, yes, but also, adolescence, the suburbia of the soul. The Cure are the personification of the not-quite and the not-yet: not quite execrated but never really respected; not punk veterans but not yet generic Goff. The suspicion that has dogged them is that of fakery; yet inauthenticity – as existential condition – was The Cure’s stock-in-trade. You can hear it all in the grain of Robert Smith’s voice. Bracewell again: 'When Smith sang, it wasn't so much his doom-laden lyrics as the actual sound of his voice which lent the Cure their mesmeric monotony: it was the voice of nervous boredom in a small town bedroom, muffled beneath suffocating layers of ennui. Alternately peevish and petulant, breathless with anguish or spluttering with incoherent rage, Smith's voice was unique in making monotony malleable.'
'Marc Bolan is often perceived as a sort of poor man's David Bowie: They shared producer Tony Visconti, flirtatious androgyny and an affinity for the early seventies British style known as 'power pop'. Each began his career by making florid albums although Bolan's flower power poesy had far more groove than Bowie's West End theatrics.
When they turned to making rock and roll in the early seventies, Bolan again had all the best of it - at least in singles terms. While Bowie sometimes scored with stuffy, spacey funk. Bolan ripped into ripe, simple riffs, exuding in open expressions of sexual passion: 'Bang a Gong' uses ' dirty sweet' as its ultimate term of endearment, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Coupled with the honking guitar line (so biting it makes the Chuck Berry reference he whispers at the end seem earned). Bolan's overheated yowling and groaning makes the record a comic-erotic masterwork.'
Wanting a bit of noise midway through yesterday afternoon I found myself listening for the first time to Archers of Loaf. There were several great songs on their 1998 record White Trash Heroes but then I came upon this, the nearest thing they had to an actual hit during their career, from the earlier Vee Vee album and felt it deserved to stand alone here. Worthy of comparison with Teenage Riot and Freak Scene as a great, alienated leftfield anthem and somehow less compromised than either.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Lawrence had all the hits that never were. A hugely idiosyncratic character with a very odd idea about what being a Pop Star was and no real plan for getting himself in the charts except by dreaming. John Peel put a spoke in his wheel by not really liking his band. It's really the world's loss!
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A craftsman, but nevertheless belongs here. A Hoagy Carmichael for our times. Newman's the classic observer, and he inhabits the characters he observes in his songs so consummately that it's generally impossible to see the join. Writes repeatedly on the dumb stupidity of racism and how central it is to the human condition. There's an interesting article here trying to distinguish Newman lyrics from Donald Trump quotes. Enough to say that Newman is certainly smarter than you and I. I won't speak of Trump. Like all great comic writers of any kind he's essentially deeply serious. But maverick nevertheless.
Heartening to hear so much talent coming from one so young, he's still seventeen. So many ideas and mood changes coming from a four minute pop song. Declan McKenna hails from Hertfordshire and has a true melodic songwriting gift. Vaguely reminiscent vocally of two La's, Lee Mavers and John Power but Bethlehem wanders off elsewhere, through a series of vaguely seventies sounding production frills. ELO come to mind at points. This is his most recent single, and a very fine one indeed. Also, a quite wonderful promo.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Monday, July 18, 2016
Perhaps a band that's not as fondly remembered as they might be. This could be because they rather accented lead singer Clare Grogan's cutesy persona for commercial effect. Heard this on Saturday evening however, their last really big British hit, in an indie nightclub and it sounded just stately.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
On the day after Alan Vega died. An incredibly sad moment in terms of trailblazers no longer with us. Here's a spot for one of the other great pioneers. Blessedly, still here. Came to Sweden in 1968 with a clarinet, a saxophone and a guitar and busked and travelled across Europe for the next couple of years, improvising his life. The story, and it's an incredible one, is here Spotted by the other members of Can making something happen on the streets and was asked to play with the band the same night. Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, Future Days and all the rest came out of that.
'If you are really a free person you don't copy anybody. You try to make life on your own terms. To be as free as possible is to not belong anywhere or to anybody. Just trust yourself. It is better not to have too much information because if you have too much information, you are losing a lot of your own creativity. You have to unlearn things and just make your own experience from scratch.'
'More than any Jackson 5 record (except maybe ABC), Heaven Makes You Happy deserves the title bubble gum soul. It has the right writers (the team that came up with that mindless pinacle Montego Bay no less), the right blend of nonsense syllables and non-sequiturs (Heavy what?), the appropriate brainless spark, and Mavis and Pop Staples blend their voices as frothily as anything cooked up in a Big Apple studio.'
Saturday, July 16, 2016
A lot of bands sound pretty much the same nowadays. Take American, broadly melodic, alternative bands for example. Particularly male ones. They can probably be divided into roughly five categories. The ones that sound like Beach Fossils, The ones who take their cue from Allah Las. Those who prefer the Black Angels. Brian Jonestown Massacre disciples and those associated with the west Coast garage sound orbiting around Ty Segall. Not sure if I've missed anyone out, (Pavement perhaps), or if there are swathes of bands who are way away from any of these descriptions I've given.
Holy Wave hail from Austin Texas, like the Black Angels but are gentler than them and sound like an approxiamtion of two or three of the bands mentioned above. They evoke a breathy, dreamy, soothing psychedelia and there's definitely a healthy dollop of Shoegazing in the mix, alongside the usual sixties reference points. In interviews they've cited The White Album, Pet Sounds and Loveless as favourite records which give you a fair idea of where they're coming from.
Their new album Freaks of Nature is a joy. You can get the idea of what to expect within twenty seconds of their first song commencing, their's is a formula of spiraling guitars, incoherent, though interesting sounding lyrics, a holy wave is not a bad description, and they keep things rolling. Every now and then things speed up and a rush of distortion and volume kick in, their My Bloody Valentine moments but these moments are brief for the most part they stay on the straight and narrow. Sure it sounds an awful lot like an awful lot of things around it but Holy Wave get it right almost all the time and Freaks of Nature is yet another album to add to a lengthening list of very good records released thus far this year.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Destined of course to feature in any maverick run-down countdown. The offbeat run of songs he produced with the early Pink Floyd and on his own solo records has been indescribably influential. Never better than here. A song about a psychedelic cat.
'Another of George Goldberg's inspired doo-wop revampings of Tin Pan alley's classics. Heart and soul was written in 1938 for the film short A Song is Born and hit Number One the same year in a version by Larry Clinton, though Goldner probably modelled the Cleftones arrangement pn the 1952 remake by yje Four Aces. But even though Hoagy Carmichael undoubtedly wrote blusier than any other showtune composer, (including Gershwin), he and Frank Loesser could never have dreamed that any of their standards would get such a radical reworking. Though the Latin bass guitar work is near-traditional, and the Darin/Dion-type lead not far from it, the beat changes more powerfully than in any previous rendition, the horn lines are loopy to the point of intoxication, and the swooping bass voice is simply outrageous, each 'Yeaaaaah' transforming the original corn into something positively thrilling.'
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Now there's a great band name. Half Buffalo Springfield, half Lovin' Spoonful, both contemporaries of theirs, they didn't release an album during their actual lifetime but the album that did come out, in 1970, four years after it was recorded, is well worth a listen.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Not the only proud amateur on this here list. With his brother David, he formed Half Japanese, one of the most deliberately untutored and inept bands ever to make their mark. Starting in their bedrooms in the mid-seventies, Jad is still at it. A glorious inspiration to all that it's just as much about what's in your head as your actual musical abilities or in their case, lack of them. And they've made no end of great records too. Write to him on his website and he'll write a song for you for $300.00.
I've been waiting to post this for months, while waiting for a link to it to appear, since first hearing it on evening radio a few months back. It's there now, along with the rest of the Whyte Horse new album, Pop Or Not, which came out in May. The rest of the record is a bit of a disappointment, at least to my ears, it's all a little bit too clever for its own good, despite its impeccable sixties reference points. I'd still stand by this track though.
Monday, July 11, 2016
'Lilting' seems an appropriate description of this. From an album forthcoming on Sub Pop Records in August. Morgan Delt is a Californian singer-songwriter who takes his name from the cult 1966 movie, Morgan, A Suitable Case For Treatment. Clearly worthy of further investigation.