Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Review

Like most people, I'm pretty glad to be getting out of January. Who needs that month. My favourite album thus far this year is Tim Cohen's Luck Man which strikes me as a keeper. A gentle, thoughtful midlife record, beautiful crafted and I get the feeling, offering further rewards with repeated listens. Another one I really liked was The Molochs' America's Velvet Glory which was an excellent assembly of the whole Garage Punk aesthetic. Wasn't personally so keen on the rock record the critics seemed to be pushing this month, The Japandroid,s Near to the Wild Heart of Life, but will give it further spins. Other albums I liked to a greater or lesser degree were Rose Ellinor Dougall's Stellular,  Courtney Marie Andrews' Honest Life, The Proper Ornaments, Foxhole and  Flaming Lips' Oczy Mlody and there are always bound to me more than a few that I missed and will catch up with later, there's no real earthly way of really keeping up nowadays. Anyway, onward to Spring!

Songs About People # 287 Forest Whitaker

Cheer up Forest. You have a song! From Bad Books second album II and 2012.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 712 Big Youth

Song(s) of the Day #1,108 The Frightnrs

One of the best albums of last year, and one I've just caught up with. Or perhaps one of the records of 1966 as it's an impeccable and loving recreation of the feel, pulse and soul of Jamaican  Rocksteady and ska, circa that time.Out of Queens, New York; The Frightnrs debut album Nothing More To Say.

It's frozen in time in a couple of ways in that it came out following the death of remarkable vocalist and driving inspiration Dan Klein of a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. Klein's singing is at the heart of everything going on. And the fact that he's no longer with us gives Nothing More To Say and added poignancy from its title downwards.

The production of the album replicates that spooky echo chamber quality of the songs and scene that clear give birth and driving reason to The Frightnrs. On the Daptone label, a home to like-minded souls, the whole exercise is lifted beyond the realms of mere pastiche by the sheer quality of everything on show here. They get it right in every way.


I've just posted four songs here but I could easily have put up the whole damned thing. The Frightnrs don't put a foot wrong for the eleven song course of the album. An absolute treat!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Songs About People # 286 Carl Sagan

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…"
Carl Sagan in 1995

This song comes form American band Night Moves, whose stuff is strangely reminiscent of American seventies AOR radio and came out as part of an EP at the beginning of January as well as being the first track on their album of last year Pennied Days.

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 182 Little Walter

In a documentary I watched recently about Keith Richard you see him lovingly putting an album on that as good as defines everything that he most loves about music and has made him. The record is by Little Walter and this, (probably his best known song), sounded great on the jukebox at Rosie's on Friday night.

Johnny Cash

January 30th 1959 Mark Eitzel

Thirty Days of C-86 # 30 Jesus & Mary Chain

And to bring this series to a close, the group who gave this scene birth, more than any other. Some Candy Talking was the only record they put out in 1986. It capitalised on the wave and well-justified hype achieved the previous year with the release of Psychocandy. The C-86 was a movement in many ways frozen in time, very particular to its time and place, but it nevertheless laid down a template for pale white things to aspire to over the next three decades. Its influence, given how small and specific it seemed at the time, is just remarkable.

Covers # 69 The Four Tops

During his crit of the song below, Dave Marsh mentioned the Tops 1971 cover of MacArthur Park which made # 38 on the Billboard singles chart and led me here. It's no mere exercise, given the Motown arrangement and Levi Stubbs' voice.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 713 The Four Tops

Song of the Day #1,107 The Four Tops

Four Tops day today. Here, they go disco, in 1976.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28th 1941 King Tubby

Thirty Days of C-86 # 28 The Woodentops

Not strictly a C-86 band by any description, but they were one of the best British independent bands of the time, put out the wonderful album  Giant in 1986 and this single which came from it.

Songs About People # 285 Edward Norton

A song for one of the greatest actors there is from a band named Blue of Colors and their sole album to date, 2013's Small Little Pieces. Full of that crunchy preppy energy which was probably first set off by Green Day twenty years or more back.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 715 Marvin Gaye

'Motown expert Don Waller says Marvin Tauplin's guitar line(it couldn't be by anyone else) makes I'll Be Doggone Byrds-like folk rock, and I suppose he's right, but if the Byrds or any folk-rock act had ever been supported by a groove this deep, or topped by singing this gritty, they'd have to invent a new name for the genre. Folk-soul? Not with those strings I guess, but it's a helluva thought, huh? Maybe the very reason that Dylan called Smokey Robinson America's greatest living poet.'

Song(s) of the Day # 1,105 Mickey & Sylvia

Mickey & Sylvia are are course best known for Love is Strange, one of the greatest Rock & Roll songs of all, given a new lease of life by its inclusion on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. But they actually put out plenty of other records of note. Like these two.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Housemartins

January 26th 1958 Anita Baker

Thirty Days of C-86 # 26 Meat Whiplash

The band's one single, on Creation, from 1985. Wilful amateurism. Hailing from East Kilbride and taking their name from a Fire Engines song printed by Bobby Gillespie and hand-folded by Alan McGee and his team. They opened for Jesus & Mary Chain at their infamous 'riot' gig at the North London Polytechnic playing their part in terms of stirring the pot. 

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 717 U.S.A. For America

Not a personal favourite of mine but Dave Marsh makes the case for it painstakingly over four pages of The Heart of Rock & Soul

Songs About People # 283 John Hughes

And here's another from the same record, a trawl back to the eighties, personal memory and in tribute to John Hughes, director of many of the decades' definitive films about teenage yearning, confusion and romance. The song itself revisits all of those exquisite chord change that Arthur Lee's Love used so effectively two decades back from that.

Song of the Day # 1,103 Tim Cohen

'Ain't no clouds in the sky. But if you look just right you see a rainbow...'

Coming up to the end of January and great, new records for 2017 are already piling up nicely. Like this for instance, Luck Man a side project from San Francisco's Fresh & Only's Tim Cohen and a pure gem. Solo albums from band members generally shape up as modest affairs but this is an exquisite record, using smallness as a specific virtue. It's occupied by busy, lovingly arranged songs that promise to unpack ever greater surprises and delights with repeated plays. But that's a pleasure ahead.

 Full of the thoughts, vague unease and spontaneous happiness of modern living  that succeed each other in all of our minds as we make our way down the more mundane pathways that life lays out for us as day succeeds day. But there's beauty in that as Cohen knows well. On the cover he stares out at us, unkempt hair, unruly beard, unironed shirt, an ordinary fellow pushing middle age but an artist nonetheless. 

As for the music, it's that warm, melodic well trodden path, going all the way back to the Lovin' Spoonful, The Beatles, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, at one point Leonard Cohen through Belle & Sebastian to now. The album gets better the more I give myself up to it. I may have to write more about it at a later date. In the meantime on a couple of listens it's still mighty fine. January's not all bad!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Songs About People # 282 Buster Keaton

A funky little number from 2010 from LA based Danish duo. Neat lyric:

'You can't keep on preachin'
Like it's your Sunday meetin'

It's to Buster Keaton.
Maybe there's no Eden.'

No, me neither!!!

January 25th 1978 Joy Division

Following their name change from Warsaw, played their first gig this day in 1978 at Pip's Disco in                                                                             Manchester.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 718 Patti Smith

                                                                       Here's a link!

Thirty Days of C-86 # 25 The Primitives

The Primitives were not known for their lyrics. They were known for mixing up the essential ingredients of The Ramones and Blondie and they did so really well. Morrissey approved.

Song of the Day 1,102 Lift To Experience

'This is the story of three Texas boys...'

This is something I wasn't aware of until I read the latest edition of Mojo a couple of days ago when there was a feature on this particular. It comes from the band's sole album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads which came out in 2001. Their main man Josh T. Pearson has put our records since and garnered some well-deserved critical attention. Much in the whole, righteous, messianic, evangelical crazed tradition of the 13th Floor Elevators who hail from the same general vicinity in Texas. I'll investigate further. So should you! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Real Estate

New from Real Estate. Which is always a good thing. And I'm not talking about real estate opportunities!

Songs Heard on the Radio # 181 Luke Haines

Luke Haines sings another song from his hymn sheet and these things are always nice to hear! It was a session song on the radio but here is the studio version.

Jim Morrison

American States # 37 Louisiana

The Walkmen, one of the best and most underrated bands of the last twenty years. At their best they capture the moment when the human heart is about to break. As here!

Thirty Days of C-86 # 24 The Railway Children

The Railway Children were pushed for a while in 1986 as some big new guitar hope. They never quite fulfilled the claims of those supporting them, but this, their first single, still sounds fine.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 719 Buck Owens

Song of the Day 1,101 Goldfrapp

Goldfrapp are back. With this as the forerunner for their seventh album, Silver Eye, due out at the end of March. It's the cool, futurist disco thing they've done before, but hey, they do it very well!

Monday, January 23, 2017

1,100 Days, 1,100 Songs, 1,100 Artists

1,001 - Marching Church
1,002 - Dave Dudley
1,003 - PragVec
1,004 - Higher Authorities
1,005 - Cabbage
1,006 - Kikagu Moyo
1,007 - Agnes Obel
1,008 - Xylouris White
1,009 - Geneva
1,010 - Prefab Sprout
1,011 - Miracle Sweepstakes
1,012 Phyllis Dixon
1,013 - Lambchop
1,014 - Les Big Byrd
1,015 - Kim Yung Mi
1,016 - Alan Price
1,017 - Claude Nougaro
1,018 - Helado Negro
1,019 - Little Green Cars
1,020 - Sacred Paws
1,021 - Petite Meller
1,022 - Grass Widow
1,023 - Nelcy Sedibe
1,024 - Gold Class
1,025 - Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions
1,026 - Mutual Benefits
1,027 - Silver Apples
1,028 - Chicken Shack
1,029 - Tom Robinson Band
1,030 - Sufjan Stevens
1,031 - Five Man Electrical Band
1,032 - Nino Ferrer
1,033 - She Devils
1,034 John Moreland
1,035 StarBenders
1,036 -  Hinds
1,037 Hurling Piss
1,038 - Joanna Newsom
1,039 - Witch
1,040 - Frightened Rabbit
1,041 - Writing on the Wall
1,042 - Go Sailor
1,043 - Taraf de Haidouks
1,044 - Del Byzanteens
1,045 - Quintessence
1,046 - Juaneco y Su Combo
1,047 - Marmalade
1,048 - Catavento
1,049 - Night Manager
1,050 - The Four Vagabonds
1,051 - P.P. Arnold
1,052 Holly McVae
1,053 - Human Switchboard
1,054 Johnny Fritz
1,055 - Marlon Williams
1,056 - Antena
1,057 - Paul Simon
1,058 - Hoops
1,059 - Blind Willie Johnson
1,060 - Marvin Gardens
1,061 - Buffy Saint Marie
1,062 - The Nuns
1,063 - Nap Eyes
1,064 - James & Bobby Purify
1,065 - John D. Loudermilk
1,066 - Doug Tuttle
1,067 - Bent Shapes
1,068 - Peter Doherty
1,069 - Street Chant
1,070 - Oh Pep!
1,071 - Johnny Ray
1,072 - Wham!
1,073 - The New Lines
1,074 - Billy Paul
1,075 - Los Dug Dugs
1,076 - Froth
1,077 - Debbie Reynolds
1,078 - The Real Numbers
1,079 - Faine Jade
1,080 - Deerful
1,081 - 39 Clocks
1,082 - Washboard Sam
1,083 - Marcos Valle
1,084 - The Vapors
1,085 - The Rings
1,086 - Dama Scout
1,087 - Burl Ives
1,088 - Happyness
1,089 - The Alessi Brothers
1,090 - Martin Stephenson & the Daintees
1,091 Carsick Cars
1,092 - The Flaming Lips
1,093 - The Molochs
1,094 - The Trashcan Sinatras
1,095 - Savoy Motel
1,096 - Adam Torres
1,097 Wells Fargo
1,098 - Vladimir Vysotsky
1,099 - Chunky
1,100 - Khadja Bonet

Jaki Liebezeit 1938 - 2017

          I listened to Tago Mago today on the day that the death of Jaki Liebezeit was announced. It's a remarkable document from a great band who were responsible for any number of them and Liebezeit was always their beating pulse and heart. A great loss to music!

Thirty Days of C-86 # 23 A.R.Kane

A.R.Kane went on to become a lot more experimental and leftfield with time. In 1986 they were clearly under the spell of the Jesus & Mary Chain and came up with this.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 720 Buck Owens

Song(s) of the Day # 1,100 Kadhja Bonet

An album from last year that was full of that wonderful early seventies silky, space-age soul of Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye. Kadhja Bonet's The Visitor. Well worth a listen! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22nd 1931 Sam Cooke

Songs Heard on the Radio # 180 Belle Gonzalez

Came out as a single in 1972 on Columbia records. It's wonderful! I can tell you no more on this particular story however than I can about Chunky!

Vinyl Purchases Manfred Mann

And to make it three, another re-post of my review of their '65 record Mann-Made.

Vinyl Purchases # 21 Manfred Mann

Wednesday 24th June. £5.00. RPM Records, Newcastle

I didn't wake up this morning thinking I'd end the day with a Manfred Mann record. Well you don't, do you? The whole of my mouth numb from a dentist's filling I wandered down the hill to RPM at midday, one of four record shops in Newcastle and possibly the best. This was playing on one of the great antique players at the back of the shop. Sounded great, I exchanged a few words with the owner and now I have it.

Manfred Mann to me generally epitomise the slightly drippy, side of the beat band sixties scene but I can see I've slightly misjudged them. They're a tight band, quite thoughtful at points here and I imagine would have played a good set in a dark, sweaty night club. 

They play a number of covers here, Since I Don't Have YouThe Way You Do The Things You Do, Stormy Monday,You Don't Know Me some great instrumentals and some originals, spread across the band, particularly L.S.D. (pounds, shillings and pence, not hallucinogenics), from guitarist Tom McGuiness, the best thing on here, along with You're For Me where they really let rip. L.S.D. was the track playing as I came in and it persuaded me to buy the record. Worth having a copy with McGuiness's extensive sleeve notes explaining the making of the record.

It's a neat record. Perhaps that's a dated description but it seems to fit here. It's also tasteful. There's some poppy stuff, but no Doo Wah Diddy, or Pink Flamingo to spoil the mood. I like it! I like it! Oh no, not one of theirs.

Covers # 69 Manfred Mann

And while we're with the Manfreds and Dylan here's them doing Just Like a Woman which hit the British Top Ten and fell just shy of the American Top 100 in 1966.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 721 Manfred Mann

Songs About People # 281 Bobby Fischer

Song for the  tragic chess genius. One of the most famous people in the world in the early seventies and an object lesson in the inherent perils of all consuming obsession. This, from Tik Tok, played over the closing credits of  2011 documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World.

Thirty Days of C-86 # 22 Bogshed

Bogshed were one of the more abrasive bands on the C-86. Hailing from Hebden Brige there was no discernible Byrds or Orange Juice influence in their sound whatsoever although it's reasonable to suggest they might have had their heads turned by a few Fall records.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,099 Chunky

Ridiculously infectious Glam, (blatant Spirit in the Sky, Son of My Father and Get It On steals and all) from 1973. I can tell you nothing about Chunky or Albatross Baby and Road Runner Girl except they didn't make the charts, when they clearly should have done. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Songs About People # 280 Edwyn Collins

            Edwyn Collins deserves a song on this list. And he actually has a rather fine one courtesy of Gentleman! a Polish band singing in one of the most emotive languages I know.

Thirty Days of C-86 # 21 The Wolfhounds

The Wolfhounds were a little tighter and more acerbic than most of the C-86 bands. Here is perhaps their most well known and best moment.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 722 Stevie Wonder

Song(s) of the Day #1,098 Vladimir Vysotsky

Vladimir Vysotsky, an incredible figure in Russian musical and cultural history. Something akin to their Jaques Brel. Here's just one song from his recorded legacy.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thirty Days of C-86 # 20 The Servants

A band that spawned Luke Haines, named after the splendid Dirk Bogarde/ James Fox sixties film. This was their own wonderful C-86 moment!

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 723 Joe Tex

Song(s) of the Day #1,097 Wells Fargo

Band from Zimbabwe, (at that point officially Rhodesia) and the early seventies. I was actually there, though as I was five, was quite oblivious of course to the existence of Wells Fargo. Their message is clear, they're calling for change and it's little wonder they were victims of censorship from the white political regime of the time.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Song(s) About People # 279 Billy Chidish

What could be more 'modern' than Billy Childish?  With a group of his own, Thee Headcoats and a sister group called Thee Headcoatees for whom he writes many of their songs including one, (at least one), in tribute to himself. Here it is!

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 724 The Isley Brothers

January 19th 1935 Johnny O'Keefe

Thirty Days of C-86 # 19 Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes

One of my own particular favourites from this year. Perfect, in it's own small-formed way.

William Onyeabor 1945-2017

Song(s) of the Day #1,096 Adam Torres

I spent much of yesterday listening to Pearls to Swine the quite extraordinary record by Adam Torres from 2016. It's Torres's second album, ten years on from his debut Nostra Nova. In the meantime he's been out in the wide world working in nine to fives as most of the rest of us do, but also working on his art. And it's time very well spent because Pearls to Swine is the most beautiful new record I didn't get round to hearing last year.

It has that hard-earned stillness, sparseness and purity that only the very best singer-songwriters tap their way into. Think Townes Van Zandt. Think Leonard Cohen. Think Nick Drake. Think John Martyn. Think Tim Buckley. Yes, it's really that good! Torres, begins the album, with Juniper Arms with an incredibly high-pitched falsetto swoon but settles down from that moment on for the most part onto a spectral plateau of spiritual wonder. It's a thing of beauty!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Johnny Cash - Man in Black

One in an ongoing, occasional series. From the work of a Brazilian artist named Butcher Billy, one of the very finest working in this medium. More here.

Songs About People # 278 Ron Asheton

What this underplayed jazzy instrumental has to do with the Stooges legend is anyone's guess. But he deserves a song!

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 725 Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

January 18th 1941 David Ruffin

Thirty Days of C-86 # 18 The Pastels

To some extent father figures of this scene. A single they released in 1986.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,095 Savoy Motel

I've held back from posting Savoy Motel on here since they emerged a few months ago as there's a fairly distinct whiff of hype about them. Coming out of Nashville, Tennessee they have a resolutely retro element to their sound. They're utterly mired in the seventies in terms of their sound, the way they dress and the look of their videos. They might almost be torn out, lock stock and barrel, of an episode of The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family.

But listening through to their self titled debut album from last year yesterday for the first time in its entirety I got a different impression. It made me recall Dazed & Confused, one of the very best Pop Culture movies ever made. Set on the last day of the school of a High School in Austin Texas it follows a group of disparate students and is soundtracked for the most part by a set of songs of the sort of heavy rock songs which Savoy Motel draw on strongly for their sound.

But there are two tracks on the OST which hint at a bigger picture. Dr. John's Right Place, Wrong Time and War's Low Rider. And Savoy Motel understand this aspect of Southern Rock. They have the funk. It bleeds consistently across the record. So, four months or so after my initial reservations, I give them the thumbs up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Songs About People # 277 Link Wray

Utterly ludicrous tribute to the late great Wray from Valencia's Way Y Los Arrrghs. This is completely typical of what they do, very much in the spirit of legendary sixties Peruvian garage pioneers Los Saicos.

January 17th 1948 Mick Taylor

Thirty Days of C-86 # 17 Felt

The C-86 had a few, 'stars in their own heads' and Lawrence from Felt was probably the greatest of them. This single from 1986 was probably his and their signature. An admission that perhaps everything he'd ever dreamed of was never destined to come to pass. A beautiful melody and lyric, all pulling out of one station and into another in just shy of three minutes.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 726 The Easybeats

Song of the Day # 1,094 The Trashcan Sinatras

Pure early Aztec Camera but wonderful for all that. The debut single from Glasgow's Trashcan Sinatras which came out on Go! Discs records in 1990.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 181 Donovan

I do try to provide continuity on this particular narrative but it's not always easy. Tonight for example, when I wanted to play a Donovan song to play after the previous post. But one of the latest additions to Rosie's community, a middle aged Chinese guy from Hong Kong was in the pub and chose to drown out this particular moment from Donovan's most hippie dippy period with his own very loud telephone conversation. Still, the conversation ended and he then proceeded to buy me a beer and  invited me to a family bash at Rosie's on Sunday so I guess it all came out in the wash.

Songs About People # 276 Donovan

From Pills 'n' Thrills & Bellyaches. No clear reference in the lyrics to the elfin troubadour!

Thirty Days of C-86 # 16 Jasmine Minks

Jasmine Minks were the most Mod and Soul influenced band on the early Creation roster. Here's their single from 1986.

January 16th 1970 Brendan O'Hare

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 727 The Bangles

My first girlfriend at university had the words of this song written on a poster on the wall of her room in different coloured crayons. She was truly lovely, and naturally, I fell for her.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,093 The Molochs

The Molochs have a great little record, neatly entitled America's Velvet Glory, to welcome in the new year. The album is drenched with the sounds and sensibility of sixties Garage punk but is sufficiently infused with love of the tradition they're drawing on and understanding of its poetic yet snotty sensibility and rebellious spirit to be much more than mere pastiche.

In the words of leader Lucas Fitzsimons, ' We love 60's music and certain aesthetics about it. But a lot of our favourite music from the '70s up to the present day is by bands that were also heavily influenced by music from the 60s - Nikki Sudden & the Jacobites, The Clean from New Zealand, the Go-Betweens from Australia, the Only Ones from England.'

The Molochs themselves take on the role of 'go-betweens' on America's Velvet Glory. We're familiar with this stuff but there's more than sufficient songcraft, energy and driven love here to earn themselves a place at the table. Taking their name from Allen Ginsberg's Howl, which he used as a metaphor against capitalism and its unrelenting grip on the human spirit. Fitzsimons again: 'It was only over time that I realised how the concept of Moloch as seen through Ginsberg's eyes and also the film Metropolis really represents my views on the world and human culture, modern society. I wanted a really basic name, but I guess now it carries more of philosophical value. It feels more timeless in a way.'

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Songs Heard on the Radio # 179 Clancy Eccles

John Cooper Clarke serving up his fine, eclectic selection while substituting for Jarvis Cocker on 6 Music this afternoon. Including this...