Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30th 1957 Richard Barbieri

Keyboardists of a band almost unrecognisable in terms of their sound from where they started to what they became. This is the opening track from their first album Adolescent Sex. If there are traces they are probably in the sound of Barbieri's synths. Much of the rest of the record it has to be said, is very poor man's Bowie funk rock.

Songs About People # 147 Philip Guston

A typically intense, impassioned performance from Chesnutt. A very specific and missed musician. This is named for Philip Guston a painter and printer from the same school of art as Pollock and De Kooning. From Chesnutt's last, remarkable album At The Cut. He passed away on Christmas Day 2009.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 25 Yma Sumac

One of the pleasures of watching the early seasons of Mad Men is to hear the great series of all but forgotten songs and genres from that age used to soundtrack events. This is a track which was actually recorded in 1954 by Peruvian singer Yma Sumac. Here it's used to soundtrack the out of control shenanigans of the office party on the night of the Nixon / Kennedy election. Lounge!

Song of the Day # 680 P.J.Proby

An interesting sub-genre in the history of music is the series of records made by the Rock and Roll stars of the fifties, responding to the changing events and values of the hippie generation. Dion, Del Shannon, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Johnny Rivers, Jerry Lee Lewis and countless others all had a go to greater or lesser effect and it resulted in some great records. 

Here's P.J.Proby, pretty much the most over the top of them all, having a go. He's helped by having a great song at his disposal. In the Jim Webb scheme of things. You definitely get the impression P.J. may be wearing beads here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sinead O'Connor

Heard bad news about Sinead O'Connor through the media today. Hope she's OK! Remember watching this on Later twenty five years ago with my flatmates in my last year at university. One of them, a gay guy said the rest of us blokes watched the whole song with our eyes utterly fixated on the TV screen.

Songs about People # 146 Franz Schubert

From Kraftwerk's still magnificent 1977 album Trans Europe Express.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 24 Harvey & The Phenomenals

England win the 1966 World Cup. The Jaguar man gets taken to a New York brothel where this fine record plays. Pete and Lane have a fist fight in the office the next day after the fall out.

Songs Heard on the Radio # 103 Andy Shauf

Deeply talented singer-songwriter from Regina, Saskatchewan. This is quite beautifully inventive. Just out.

Thirty Days of Fifty

As it's coming up to the calendar year, I'll catch up with a bit of paperwork. Here's a series I ran in September running up to the 30th when I reached a personal milestone of my own. Songs that mean something to me for one reason or another.

1. Big Star - September Gurls
2. Judy Henske - High Flying Bird
3. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Big Boys
4. Miriam Makeba - Pata Pata
5. The Go-Betweens - Karen
6. Nina Simone - In The Morning
7. Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
8. Dexys Midnight Runners - I'm Just Looking
9. Aztec Camera - Lost Outside The Tunnel
10. Courtney Barnett - Avant Gardener
11. Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser
12. Patti Smith - Kimberley
13. Love - Bummer In The Summer
14. Mary Hopkins - Those Were The Days
15. Al Green - Belle
16. Television - Venus
17. Marvin Gaye - What's Happening Brother
18. Talking Heads - Heaven
19. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
20. Jacques Dutronc - Et Moi, Et Moi, Et moi
21. R.E.M - Harborcoat
22. The Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend
23. The New York Dolls - Lonely Planet Boy
24. Curtis Mayfield - If I Were Only A Child Again
25. Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do
26. Lee Hazlewood - My Autumn's Done Gone
27. Frank Sinatra - Rain In my Heart
28. Tim Buckley - Happy Time
29. Leonard Cohen - Famous Old Raincoat 
30. Billy Bragg - New England

Songs About People # 145 P.J.Proby

A man with one of the finest haircuts of the entire sixties. Much beloved of pioneering pop critic Nik Cohn who gave him an entire chapter in his book Awopbopaloopobalopbamboom, although even he admitted he was probably overstating the man's significance and talent. Some of his recorded output is so over the top it verges on the ridiculous. Listen to his version of Somewhere for example. Perhaps difficult to understand fully if you didn't see his, apparently mesmeric, live act. Read the Cohn chapter anyway if you can track it down. It's wonderful.In the meantime here's a detailed account of P. J. and the impact he had.

November 29th 1941 Denny Doherty

Song of the Day # 679 Tanita Tikaram

A minor sensation, in the UK at least, when she arrived in the late eighties. A good looking, soulful, singer-songwriter. This was the big moment of her first album, one she never quite recreated. A nice, gentle start to a Sunday morning.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 23 Spencer Davis Group

I skipped a day so here's another musical post relating to the same episode at the other end of it chronologically. Don arriving at the airport in California to meet Megan and a smart sports car. All about image and surface as their relationship is in the process of coming apart. She takes him back to her hillside apartment later on in the day where coyotes are howling in the woods outside.

November 28th 1943 Randy Newman

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 22 Vanilla Fudge

Perhaps the heaviest song ever used on Mad Men. For one of the heaviest moments. Don sat in despair in his dressing gown on the frozen terrace of his flat. Not sure I'm the hugest fan of the song but its heaviness is undeniable and sums up something about the changing times it soundtracks. 

Song of the Day # 678 Younghusband

The second 'street' song of the day in a few days. Just a good pop song, dappled with sun. From their current album Dissolver.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Songs About People # 144 Vladimir Mayakovsky

Here's a photo that looks good on any blog. Russian poet, artist, stage and film star. The ultimate artist's artist, romantic hero and name to drop. Here, typically it's dropped by The Manic Street Preachers who like to do this kind of thing more possibly than any band there's ever been. This comes from their excellent album from last year Futurology. A European inspired project. Mayakovsky closes it. It's an instrumental largely, prefaced by a sample from Ringo shouting at the end of Helter Skelter. There are also some spoken and very European spoken moments, but why it's called Mayakovsky I couldn't tell you. It just is. Link to song here.

Song of the Day # 677 Throwing Muses

I gave Throwing Muses first album a play late on Wednesday night. You have to be in the right mood for it. It's a very particular record, detailing as it does much of leader Kristin Hershes' teenage emotional trauma but at the same time its a very good one though too odd and diffuse in its sound. No real surprise then that 4AD labelmates and fellow Boston band Pixies seized the commercial initiative from them. Here's my favourite track from the record. A great Rock and Roll song that seems to be out an urban panic attack. Be careful out there! A live version here but here's a link to the recorded version.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 21 William Blake

One of the great comic episodes. From Season 3. Brits meet the Yanks and the Brit child genius gets his foot sawn off by an electric lawnmower. Not entirely accurate. The British were never quite like that. Even Public School ones in 1966. But very funny nonetheless. There are so many wonderful moments in this but one of the best is when the British entourage go past an open doorway and Paul Kinsey, (what an eternal twat), is playing a snippet of Jerusalem on his acoustic guitar while perched on his desk because he imagines his job may be on the line. Though in this respect he might possibly be right.

November 26th 1944 Jean Terrell

Song of the Day # 676 Cold Pumas

From a Spotify recommendation from Yung. A song from their 2012 debut. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 20 Peggy Lee

I haven't actually seen this episode. It's late in Season 7. But apparently it was considered as the theme tune for the whole series. And it's one of the best songs of all. About life and everything. Look forward to catching up when I finally get to see this.

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 89 Psychedelic Furs

Rosie's jukebox is fully functioning again. So I put this on off an album by a reasonable band which I was interested in hearing something off. There was no reaction from the assembled crowd.

November 25th 1974 Nick Drake

Nick Drake died this day in his sleep following an overdose.

Song of the Day # 675 Yung

My new favourite band for today. At least from Aarhus, Denmark. Somewhat indistinct vocals but the guitars should get you. It's got that melancholy edge of the eighties New Order sound that I wrote about with Beach Fossils a few days back.

Very prolific already this year, they're currently touring Europe with the equally excellent Ought which is a double bill which should be worth seeing. I can't post all the songs I'd like to on here but direct you to YouTube and the band's website for more listening pleasure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cynthia Robinson

Cynthia Robinson has passed. What a wonderful set of musicians.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 19 The Tornadoes

1962. The first British record ever to make Number 1 on American Billboard. Also Margaret Thatcher's favourite record though this is not meant as a recommendation .

'while it signals the future in an obvious way — the space race and changing technologies — it's also a nod to Don, seeking a new future in Los Angeles as his relationship with Betty is falling apart.'

Songs Heard on the Radio # 102 The Wave Pictures

A great song from a consistently English band. This comes from three years back.

November 24th 1955 Clem Burke

Sixty today!

The Ramones & Talking Heads

Song of the Day # 674 Quilt

From their forthcoming album Plaza.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 18 Chubby Checker

From the same episode where Don goes back to the Bohemian flat he frequents in the first series and the people he's with are intent on listening to Miles and getting high. Not really sold on Sketches of Spain though I am on so much of his stuff. So you get the equally weird scene or at least the song where Peggy gets a promotion and dances at the local bar, tries to get Pete, the father of her unborn child to dance with her and gets cruelly rebuffed.

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 88 Marianne Faithful

The jukebox at my local is back in full effect. Playing this quite a bit recently! 

November 23rd 1949 Marcia Griffiths

Song of the Day # 673 Camera Obscura

A second cut from this 2006 album in a few days. As good a way as any to start the working week. Some echoes melodically of the Little Joy track I posted as Song of the Day a few weeks back.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Songs Heard on the Radio # 101 Lord Huron

Great thing to hear coming out of my radio on a Sunday afternoon.

November 22nd 1976 Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee was arrested for drunk driving after steering his Rolls Royce into a ditch.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 17 The Kinks

Another very dark episode from the same season. Lightened a bit by its ending and Peggy getting her big break and this playing as she enters the lift and leaves the building.

Song of the Day # 672 Margo Guryan

As good a song as any for a cold, grey Sunday morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21st 1940 Dr.John

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 87 Stiff Little Fingers

Not my choice but a big favourite at Rosie's. Happy to put it on because it's a good song. Especially after another slightly expected home loss for Newcastle United. Such is life. No-one grumbles! Which is one of so many reasons why I love this city.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 16 The Beatles

And fifty years back from Wand to something else that sounded utterly groundbreaking though to more ears than Wand at the time of its release. The sixtieth episode of the Mad Men series and one of the very best of all. Named Lady Lazarus after the wonderful Sylvia Plath poem. Pete starts an affair with a troubled neighbour after starting the episode reading Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 on the commuter train into work while talking to the woman's loathsome unfaithful husband (he is yet to meet her the affair begins later the same day). 

Much talk of beat bands in the episode. The Zombies, Herman's Hermits and Chad and Jeremy are mentioned. None of it is Don's cup of tea. 'When did music become so important/' he complains to Megan. 'I have no idea of what's going on out there.' The Beatles were important and she gives him one evening before going out,the newly released Revolver and tells him to start with this one. He listens to it after she leaves. It's  not for him. He's basically a product of the fifties and early sixties. He takes it off midway through. 

Song(s) of the Day # 671 Wand

A couple of days ago I read a 'Road to Damascus' type review about California band Wand on the Tulip Frenzy blog listed on the right hand side of this page. The author had just seen said band playing a small venue in Washington D.C. and was incredibly effusive about their performance and potential. Read it. It's a great review. The word 'transcendent' is mentioned.

It led me to listen to their latest album, (one of two they've released this year), and it didn't take me long to realise exactly where this ecstatic, fulsom praise was coming from. It's a really heavy record. Not my general territory but there's definitely something happening here. Listen to it late and night and it may well scare the living daylights out of you.


The band are from the incredibly prolific Ty Segall scene from the West Coast that seems to be churning out stuff in this vein on an almost weekly basis. It's Psychedelic for sure. And sludgy. But there's something of Nirvana's mastery of all that Sabbath noise. I've just posted the first three tracks of the album on here. I imagine I'll be playing them and the rest of the album a fair bit over the coming months.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 15 Rosemary Clooney

One of the lighter episodes of the whole run. Don and Roger have an afternoon supping cocktails and then have to brave the stairs as the lift is out. The programme closes with one of the slightly ridiculous faux Italian records that were so in vogue in America in the fifties and early sixties.

Song(s) of the Day # 670 Beach Fossils

My job is not always the most inspiring one. I hope and trust that my immediate superiors are not reading  this. I doubt it somehow. However, one of the more rewarding sidelines of my work is that I can, (as I go about my admin and lesson planning), stick my headphones on while I'm at my desk, browse Spotify and listen to something I've never heard before, be inspired and get taken somewhere.

Like yesterday for example. When I chanced upon this five year old debut album by a Brooklyn outfit called Beach Fossils called, appropriately, Beach Fossils. The record is built upon a very solid and rarely changing template. New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies and more particularly its opening song Age of Consent, (one of the best things that band ever did), and the moment in the song when Barney starts intoning, 'Lost you, I've lost you, I've lost you, I've lost you, I've lost you..' The inspiration and essence of this album is captured in those few seconds. At least that's my take on things.

There's nothing anything like as emotionally wrought as that lyrically on here. Nothing seems to happen particularly in Beach Fossils world except for trips to the beach, (appropriately, given their name),wonderment of the enormity of the universe, vague, barely spoken, longing for the opposite sex and such like. Nothing wrong with that of course. They're generally pretty happy campers at this point in their development as musicians, certainly by comparison with New Order for example. Their stuff is very similar in nature, on the surface at least, to that of Real Estate, Wild Nothing, Ducktails and countless others who sprang from the same parts of the world and the indie guitar scene that sprouted there in the past ten years. The reference points it draws on are strangely very English, very indie and very eighties. Aside from New Order I'd list The Wake, Felt, The Railway Children and other shy and earnest fringed guitar strummers. So odd that this stuff is so popular among hip American musicians nowadays. As I said Beach Fossils very rarely, if ever, stray from the formula they've chosen and it all serves to make the album an ever more effective debut record, Frankly it's a minor classic.

It doesn't really matter that the band aren't particularly singing about anything apart from the joy of being alive, being young and in a band. They distill their musical influences highly effectively into a ringing, happy, contemplative whole that ends at the beginning and closure of last track Gathering with the crying of gulls and lapping of waves. It's a contented and confident album. I'll give the band's other records a listen in the next few days but I'm not sure they could possibly beat this. Hear it, if you haven't already!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Songs Heard on the Radio # 100 Jean Paul Sartre Experience


Two in a row for this series. A couple of quick singles to bring up the century to drag in a cricketing metaphor. A song from New Zealand, a great cricketing nation. A band from Flying Nun, an equally notable record label from that same country.

Songs Heard on the Radio # 99 PiL

Great, reasonably late period PiL.

Songs About People # 143 George Bernard Shaw or Bernie Shaw

From the songbook of F.M. Cornog, a troubled soul but a talented man. I assume this in some way is about George Bernard though there's no direct reference as far . Otherwise it might be for Bernie Shaw, former singer of Uriah Heep. Good song regardless, like so many of Cornog's.  East River Pipe also dedicate one to T.S.Eliot but I can find no link to it.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 14 The Crystals

An uncomfortable episode in many ways. Don hallucinates an infidelity, Joan chucks her husband out, Peggy insults Dawn. The episode ends with one of the most uncomfortable songs of all.

Song(s) of the Day # 669 Asobi Seksu

A song for Thursday called Thursday. Always one of the better days of the week. Plus another from the same band. One song from almost five years back. Another from almost ten. Not enormously groundbreaking but both keepers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 18th 1972 Danny Whitten

Died this day in 1972.

Covers # 40 Billy Swan

Quite the oddest cover. And he has a swan in a bath on his album cover. Stranger still! Roger McGuinn I've heard plays guitar on it.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 13 Nancy Sinatra

The last episode of Season 5. Don Draper sits alone at a bar feeling threatened by Megan's developing acting career. This great Nancy Sinatra song, one of the finest Bond theme songs of all comes on. He's approached by the friend of an interested single woman and you sense where he's going next. Back into infidelity. 

Songs About People # 142 Dory Previn

And to return the tribute, here's a song for Dory herself.

Songs About People # 141 Marlon Brando

From perhaps the most idiosyncratic singer-songwriter of them all. Dory Previn imagining herself taming the mighty Brando.

Song of the Day # 668 The Legendary Shack Shakers

I wasn't aware of The Legendary Shack Shakers until yesterday. On a whim I went to see them at  The Cluny in Newcastle last night. They were magnificent. I couldn't find anything from their great album of this year The Southern Surreal so here's something from their back catalogue.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 12 Nashville Teens

Mad Men sometimes repeats itself. Like any long running TV series. Like here for example. Don rediscovers his mojo again. Great tune mind!

B Sides # 51 Sugar

On the 12 inch of 1992. Contributed and sung by bassist Dave Barbe. Sugar's collected b-sides are well worth tracking down.

Covers # 39 Buffalo Tom

If you're going to do it you might as well do it slightly differently.

Song(s) of the Day # 667 Angel Olsen

On Spotify, where I found this yesterday, Angel Olsen is listed as a Related Artist to Courtney Barnett. Related I suppose in that they're both women who play guitars and write and sing their own songs. But Angel Olsen is an altogether more unsettling proposition. If she's an angel she's probably an avenging one. Her songs, (these are both taken from last year's splendid album Burn Your Fire For No Witness), are strangely brittle, other-worldly objects. She reminds me a little bit of Sylvia Plath for some reason and that's meant as a very high compliment. In Forgiven/ Forgotten below she sings 'I don't know anything...but I love you. Yes I do...' as if the pain of the end of a relationship will physically tear her apart. Most of us will know what this feels like. Highly recommended 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Such a horrible weekend! I've been thinking, as so many other people have been over these last couple of days about Paris. Semi-drunkenly  on a Sunday night I made a playlist on the Jukebox at Rosie's for the multicultural society we have! The first song is based on the idea of the first immigrant fear the  English had of invasion. The other songs speak for themselves.

1. The Skids - Into The Valley
2. Cornershop - Brimful of Asha
3. The Specials - Message to Rudy
4. Steel Pulse - Klu Klux Clan
5. MIA - Paper Planes
6. Joan Armatrading - I'm Lucky
7. The Equals - Viva Bobby Joe
8. The Clash - Safe European Home
9. Labi Sifre - It Must be Love

The New York Dolls

The New York Dolls in Paris in 1973. The played The Bataclan, the legendary venue and scene of some of the attacks that took place in that city on Friday night.

November 15th 1945 Frida Lyngstad

Seventy today. The outfits. The outfits!

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 10 Shilrley Ellis

This features only briefly. In the background of the California restaurant scene in the last episode of Season 4 where milkshake gets spilt and Megan shows she's mother material. It's a happiness record, perhaps a novelty single but a very good one which perhaps transcends the category and one of several great records that Shirley Ellis has to her name.

Song of the Day # 665 Blue Ash

Starting Sunday morning a bit late with some Power Pop. Shake Some Action by The Flamin' Groovies on the jukebox. One of, if not the very best example of that genre on the record player. But they've already featured on this series. There are countless websites and articles devoted to the theme where you can find everyone from Television, The Undertones, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Husker Du shoehorned into the category. Generally there's broad agreement that The Byrds, Big Star, Badfinger, The Knack, Shoes, Dwight Twilley, Todd Rundgren and The Raspberries among countless others fit.

Perhaps there's scope for a chart countdown on here like the one I did on here for Garage Rock last Christmas. Certainly, the best examples that fall under the banner are also among the best Pop Records ever made. Maybe  the one thing that might stop me doing so is that for the most part all of the records that slot in here are so completely white. Not that that's a bad thing, just that there's a lack of funkiness in a classic Power Pop song.

There is plenty of soul though. And perhaps some of what might be described as White Man's Blues. Here are Blue Ash, a band who set off from Ohio in the early Seventies, put out a number of good songs over a number of years but never achieved much mainstream success. Abracadabra, their best as far as I've heard, sounds like a country cousin of In the Street and When my Baby's Beside me, from Big Star's first album #1 Record. It's a wonderful one and It's Power Pop for sure.

Post Script - Having just listened to a few records I hadn't heard before mentioned in the article highlighted in the script above I think I will do that Power Pop chart come Christmas. Gives me something to do and there are so many truly great records that fit within this category so watch this space come December.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 14th 1965 Stuart Staples

'Got this sickness. As I got off the train. Now it chips away at my heart. 'Til nothing remains.'

Such a great and very British record. The same applies for the whole of Tindersticks debut album.

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 86 Sugar

Hurrah! The jukebox at Rosie's on the corner of Stowell Street in Newcastlemy local is back in full effect after four  months of feeling poorly. You can even download new songs again, a function that has been out of action for a long, long time. In celebration, this series gets a re-boot with a fresh picture of one of the best bars in Newcastle and Sugar channeling Pixies from their incomparable debut Copper Blue.

Thirty Days of Mad Men # 9 Simon & Garfunkel

To one of the best episodes of all. The night of the Ali, Liston fight in Season 5. Peggy and Don have their incredible, all night discussion. Don finally comes upon his Samsonite pitch and says goodbye to one of the loves of his life. Again, phenomenal, funny, emotive and thoughtful television. And a quite beautiful song for a New York morning

Make Up

And here's a photo of the band. A group who knew how to turn themselves out as well as how to play. More from this particular road in the highway when I've investigated it further. Here's another song in the meantime. 

Songs about People # 140 Arthur Lee

Yesterday I found myself entranced while at work by the recorded work of the very American group Make Up. Particular their 1999 album Save Yourself which sounded to me on first take like one of the best records I'd ever heard. I'll be looking to get myself a vinyl copy. But also by this, which came out a few years early. For the leader of Love, who at this point was in prison on one of the notorious Californian three strikes and your out legal charges. A statement. Make Up sound like nothing quite so much as a rebirth of one of those eerie, weird but fascinating early seventies American political underground sects. The spirit of the MC5, most obviously of all, reborn and revivified.