Monday, January 31, 2022

Joni Mitchell


It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For January


It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs For January


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 8 Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas


1982 Singles # 20 Shalamar


A great year for dance music lest we forget. Shalamar were huge in the UK in 1982 with four Top Twenty hits over the course of the year, three of them Top Ten. Perhaps I didn't fully appreciate them now, having not really got into a Soul thing back then, but I do now. 

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 46 Steve Tilston - An Acoustic Confusion


Song(s) of the Day # 2,927 Lady Wray


Another great album to bring down the curtain of what's been a wonderful January for new music. Piece of Me the second album, from American Soul / Hip Hop artist Lady Wray.

The record is soulful and funky in spades. Boom-Bap drums and chunky basslines The whole thing deeply embedded in the great Black American music traditions of the last sixty years. 

Lady Wray and the backing female vocals are at the heart of the mix which is beautifully velvet rich, and wonderfully reminiscent of Marvin, Al, Aretha, Gladys and Missy. Also Amy Winehouse came to my mind on a regular basis.

Thick with romance and heartbreak,; plenty of  reminders of the past while still sounding utterly contemporary, Piece of Me is a proper treat from start to finish.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 745 James Blake - James Blake


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 7 The Fall - The Wonderful & Frightening World of The Fall


From Duran Duran to pretty much polar opposites... The Fall.

1982 Singles # 21 Prefab Sprout


Their first single and what a statement. Not a hit, at least not in the national charts, but still one of Prefab's greatest songs and one which immediately indicated what they would be capable of. Paddy's lyrical gifts, the romanticism, their way with special, incisive melody. A wistfulness and wisdom that seemed beyound their years, Expressing the pain McAloon felt, being apart from his girlfriend, who was studying at the University of Limoges, hence the title.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 45 Supersister - To The Highest Bidder


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 746 INXS - Kick


Song(s) of the Day # 2,926 Anais Mitchell


A rather lovely, nuanced record to bring down the curtain on what's been a pretty damned great month all round musically considering it's January. It's the eponymous record from Anais Mitchell, eponymous although she's a stalwart recording artist of many years now though she's probably kept it simple as she's been away for a while.

Each song here is built on the firmest foundations. Impeccable songwriting gifts, emotional drive and commitment, embracing life to the absolute full. It's theatrical in nature, not unnaturally as Mitchell has a huge Broadway success under her belt.

But it's highly musically grounded, essentially in the British and American Folk traditions. Nick Drake's riff for Northern Sky, is delightfully replicated during Revenant. Mitchell comes on as the idealised New York girlfriend, some parts Regina Spektor, some parts Suzanne Vega and the record altogether has the most radiant warmth. 

Once the record establishes momentum it maintains it with easy grace. It's an album that exists in a definite tradition but its intimate respect and understanding of that tradition ticks all of the boxes you might want if you have a fondness for this thing.The formula becomes so apparent a few tracks in that perhaps it doesn't fully stay the course but listened to a few tracks at a time, it's highly impressive.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Kikagaku Moyo


1982 Singles # 22 Kid Creole & The Coconuts


I listened through to Tropical Gangsters in its entirity this morning. Not surprisingly it was a fun experience. I wasn't hugely into them at the time. Didn't actually buy the record until a few years later, but it was pretty much impossible to dislike the Kid, Coati and his Coconuts when you heard them on the radio or saw them on TV in 1982.

They were perfect for the Pop party that went on during that year. Virtually the only Americans to gatecrash and they were more than welcome. Coming in from the leftfield. Chic meets the movies. Forties and Fifties New York, Miami and Havana. Just a dash of Talking Heads. Full of pop nous, humour, funk and spark. They were embraced by the Smash Hits crowd, Radio One and Top of the Pops, never really hit the jackpot in the States, largely because they were too smart, but went down an absolute storm over in the UK and Eurupe.

I could have selected either of the albums other two singles Annie or Wonderful Thing or actually pretty much anything off the record to make my point. They were all impeccable. But Stool Pigeon won by a nose. Surprisingly Kid and the Coconuts moment in the sun was relatively short lived, given that they were evidently so talented. But it was great while it lasted. Wonderful to see such suss and pep riding so high in the charts.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 6 Duran Duran - Rio


The Eighties, aspirational party commences.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,925 Kids on a Crime Spree


Now this is tremendous. From it's opening notes where it announces in no clear terms exactly what is going to do. It's Fall in Love, Not in Line, the wonderfully named album from Kids on a Crime Spree, on Slumberland Record which seem to specialise in this kind of treat.

The statement they make immediately and continue to make is that they are here to celebrate one essential moment. The one when you turn 15, have a great set of like-minded friends who dress like you, love the same things that you do, namely The Ronettes, The Ramones and The Jesus & Mary Chain and are ready to rush, full throttle towards the greatest years of your life.

Fall in Love, Not in Line does this with undisguised glee for the course of its ten tracks, none of which breach the dreaded three minute. Its complete hommage start to finish. Never pretends to be anything else. But the test with this kind of thing is, are the songs up to scratch and in this case the answer is a definitive yes. 

Great to see the riffs from the Velvet's What Goes On and The Who's I Can't Explain thrown in for good measure at various points though generally they stick with rigid discipline to the JAMC, Ramones and Spector formula. And why not? Terrific fun!

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 44 Home - Pause For a Hoarse Horse


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 748 Pink Floyd - The Final Cut


Thursday, January 27, 2022

Roddy Frame


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 750 Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 4 Ride - Going Blank Again


I have much time for Ride, though they're often dismissed. This record had considerable swagger.

1982 Singles # 24 The Jam


The Jam were winding down. Paul Weller felt constricted by the format he himself had constructed. They were a band whose singles, towards the end of their run pretty regularly went straight ito the singles charts at Number One. Very unusual at the time. This was fairy close to their last hurrah. Beat Surrender, a few months later in the same year, brought down the final curtain.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 42 Steve Goodman - Steve Goodman


Song(s) of the Day # 2,923 Joe Kenkel


                                      'I have seen the dust pile up outside your bedroom door.'

A fascinating record that has been getting much play from me over the last week or so. Naturale a set of fine, reflective lo-fi songs from Nashwille's Joe Kenkel that don't give themselves away immediately and hence encourage repeated play.

Kenkel, also of the wonderfully named Styrofoam Winos has a gift for noticing the small details and incorporating them in winding and slightly eerie narrative. Naturale is his first solo record and certainly marks him out as one too watch. 

Thanks once again to Darren Jones for bring ing this to my notice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Cure


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 3 Blur - Parklife


Strangely, shares a Teardrops connection as David Balfe was invoved with Food Records, Blur's label and partially inspired Country Life. This record is a snapshot of the UK at a particular point in time and perhaps has not aged too well. Though some tracks still bear up.

1982 Singles # 25 The Teardrop Explodes


Teardrop Explodes had almost run their short course. Too many egos. Far too many drugs. Two fine albums, the exuberant Kilimanjaro and the reflective comedown Wilder. Several fabulous singles which brightened up the charts and daytime radio. And of course, Julian Cope.

In 1982 they put out Tiny Children. Not something that sounded like a single in any respect, fabulous and other worldly as it was. It seemed to be about the pain of the loss of the innocence of childhood if anything, hardly the stuff of Top of the Pops. Radio One DJ Mike Reid latched ont it for some reason and for a brief moment it seemed as if the airplay he gave it might push it into the Top Forty. But it stalled at # 44. Anyway, it still sounds wonderful forty years on.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 41 Keith Pigmy - Christmas


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 751 Howlin' Wolf - Moanin' in the Moonlight


Song(s) of the Day # 2,922 Eve Adams


A couple of days ago, I was half heartedly listening to a new album, as is my wont when I stuck stock still in my tracks, It was halfway through You're Not Wrong, the second track from Metal Bird by Eve Adams. I thought, this is probably the best so I've heard this year. It's familiar stuff. Adams has a voice that is all anguished, doomed romance. The sound of the human heart breaking. Karen Dalton, Hope Sandoval, Country sirens like Patsy and Emmylou. All those David Lynch soundtracks.

The rest of Metal Bird is slightly less startling and  returns diminish. This is very, very well trodden terrain after all. Hey we've all seen Twin Peaks by now. Publicity pictures of Adams with her posing in front of classic fifties microphoes suggest she is being consciously and rather unimaginitively projected in this manner. Still, You're Not Wrong particularly brightened up my day. I couldn't find it to post it here, but it's worth tracking down and the rest of the record is well worth a listen too,

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Garcia Peoples - Dodging Dues


It's slightly disconcerting within twenty seconds of a 2022 record starting , to be reminded, not slightly but very strongly of prime time Jethro Tull. Or else the riff from King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man, Particularly when the band concerned, Garcia Peoples are still relatively credible. 

But that was my first impression on starting to listen to False Company the opening track on Dodging Dues their sixth album just out. I confess, I thought, 'Oh bloody hell, Jethro Tull, my big brother's band.'  and cast it to one side. But I'm back to give it a full listen.

It's an odd experience. Garcia Peoples are still unreasonably young, even though they've got a few records under their belts. but their musical inspiarations are as old, or sometimes older than the hills themselves. First the Tull, then The Dead, from whom they take their name, then any other long haired band who stalked the earth between about 1969 and 1973: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Allman Brothers Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Wishbone Ash. Name your own unfashionable hippie. You'll almost certainly be able to detect them somewhere on the grooves of Dodging Dues.

It's all very odd, but here comes my great confession. I like it. I'm not quite sure why anyone would really want to do this in 2022. Least of all a group of people quite as yoing as Garcia Peoples, But they do it very, very well. Every great lyrical Tolkien, Isaac Asimov and Ursula Le Guin inspired, drug addled cliche is dragged out into the light but it doesn't harm the record none at all. In fact it supplements it. There's even a song called Cassandra on here.Garcia Peoples take you back fifty years and more with effortless grace and make it seem like a very good idea. Far out.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 2 Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand


An early example this milenium of the turn of younger folk to all things Post Punk.

1982 Singles # 26 The Fall


The Fall were something of an anomoly in 1982. Almost alone among the great alternative groups of their era, they had absolutely no desire to have a hit single whatsoever. Ir woud take Brix joining them to belatedly turn their eyes in that direction. In the meantime they comtinued to plough their own dark furrow.

Marc Riley takes a more prominent role. I still feel his, Martin Bramah and Una Baines, influence were missed when Mark E. Smith seized control of the wheel once and for all shortly afterwards. A keyboard similarity n the initial to Trio's Da Da Da. A reference to Jea Paul Sartre. The Fall being characteristically eclectic. Look Now is one of their most disarming singles. Not a hit in the real world, but a hit here.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 40 Centipede - Septober Energy


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 752 The Beatles - Beatles For Sale


Song(s) of the Day # 2,921 Yard Act


Generally, I focus my attention here on things that I like. It would seem like wasted energy to do otherwise. But I'll take a day off that on here to direct my scorn momentarily on Yard Act's debut album, The Overload, a shockngly bad record which seems to be symptomatic of much that I dislike in youthful modern British guitar music.

Yard Act would probably generally be labelled an alternative band I imagine, but in order to truly deserve to be called that you need t provide some kind of genuine alternative to the status quo. The Overload sadly does not do that. It's far too instantly familiar. Stale even. 

It's this Post Punk thing. This Brixton Windmill thing that's beebn buildng up and outstaying its welcome for a couple of years now. Yard Act may not hang out at the Brixton Windmill but they might as well be. IDLES, Squid, Dry Cleaning, Black Country New Road and so on and so forth. And back from there to The Arctic Monkeys, The Fall, Jon Cooper Clarke and The Kitchen Sink Films and The Angry Young Men.

The reference points are so hackneyed now, its almost tiring to list them. Yard Act's hearts are probably in the right place. They rail against everything that is wrong with the UK, most notably conformity but all the time they're deeply, deeply conformative themselves.

I found The Overload, very difficult to listen through to all the way through. There was no light or shade. It will doubtless be greatly lauded, in fact it already has been. But frankly its really tired product.There are a few young British bands related to this scene that I care for. Goat Girl, Shame and Cool Greenhouse. But mostly it leaves me quite cold and I'll continue to look elsewhere.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Songs About People # 1,321 George Raft

No nonsense, full on Punk assault.

Velvet Underground


The B-52's


Mike Nesmith


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 1The Charlatans - Some Friendly


One of the musical highlights of the Covid Lockdown. Tim Burgess organised a set of Listening Parties where fans and the artists behind a series of great albums got together on Twitter to discuss the making of their records. A great set of communal experiences. Starting not inappropriately with the first Charlatans album.a fresh and hugely optomistic record.

1982 Singles # 27 Yazoo


An altogether lovely debut single.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 39 Shelagh McDonald - Stargazer


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 753 Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road


Song(s) of the Day # 2,920 Night Crickets


It's no great surprise on hearing Black Leather on the Inside, the opening track of Night Crickets debut album A Free Society, to discover that their lead singer is David J, once of Bauhaus. Every second of its 3:46 is deeply indebted to The Thin White Duke just as pretty much everything put out by Northampton's finest was too.

Elsehwere Night Crickets, also containing Victor DeLorenzo, (formerly Violent Femmes drummer) cast their net wider. Second track Candlestick Park, an elegy for the venue of The Beatles last concert sounds like the missing track from The Auteurs quite wonderful minor-masterpiece New Wave. All doomed, nostalgic ennui.

A Free Society forges artfully owards. Thematically it's posey nonsense really. Most obviously indebted to Bowie and Eno, but they venture elsewhere with more exciting results. Little did I for example is a fantastic art-scholl reinvention of War's Low Rider. 

All in all, this is something of a mixed bag. Some of it is the kind of thing you really should have got out of your system once and for all at 21. But it conjurs up an atmosphere that certainly might appeal to anyone who were ever drawn to Bauhaus and Love & Rockets. I confess I never was, quite enjoyed my listen to this but probably won't be going back as not unnaturaly I prefer the source material..

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 486 Meat Loaf


Friday night at The Telegraph the day Meat Loaf. Time for one of the greatest Jukebox songs ever made.

Eliza Soares 1930 - 2022


1982 Singles # 28 Culture Club


In retrospect, it's easy to see how refreshing the sudden arrival of Culture Club and The Boy was in 1982. They'd had a couple of singles which no one remembers which sank like stones before Do You Really Want To Hurt Me arrived and sealed the deal. The sweetest pop confectionary. It parked itself at the top for weeks it seemed.. Follow up Time is less generally remembered but was just as impressive in its way. The revenge of Lovers Rock.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 38 Cochise - Swallow Tales


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 754 Hole - Live Through This


Song(s) of the Day # 2,919 Boris


I'm not a huge fan of leftfield, largely instrumental art noise. God Speed You Black Emperor and Mogwai largely leave me cold. It all feels rather like an exercise in cool to me. But this new record W, from Japanese noiseniks Boris took my fancy from its opening notes yesterday.

Their debut album for Sacred Bones Records  W goes straight for the Art. Driven mainly by whispered male and female vocals in Japanese. It's a record just drenched in suffocating atmospherics that functioned for me almost as an Official Sound Track for a Horror, Surreal or Splatter movie that you can script in your head. The kind of thing Tarantino might like.Or fans of My Bloody Valentine actually. 

Not a record that comes with labels or explanation but all the better for that. Although I'm not generally a prescriber of the excessively loud (which much, though not all of this is), in  W's case I'll make an exception.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Meat Loaf 1947 - 2022


Jake Xerxes Fussell - Good & Green Again


Jake Xerxes Fussell's records are always worth a listen. He's back early in 2022 with another very  good one, entitled Good & Green Again.

No real surprises. He's not that kind of artist. He mines the seam he's mined for many years now. That folk seam between the moments of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and The Band. The place where good songwriting and telling tales are what's mostly highly prized.

Fussell is a definite contender if prizes are being handed out in this respect. Good & Green Again plays its hand sraight. There's not the slightest hint of pastiche or irony of any sort. The playing with form that you get wth the likes of Will Oldham, Bill Callahan or Nick Cave.

No this is honest endeavour. Archealogical enquiry of the most loving and diligent kind. A very fine record to add to the modest pile this year has already produced.

1982 Singles # 29 Fun Boy Three


Terry Hall, Neille Staples and Lynval Golding had flown the Specials coop but continued their good work. They were still highly politically orientated, deeply angry about what was going on and righteously so. It was great to have their chart presence for a couple of years. They demanded to be played on the radio. To my mnd their best songles were 1981's The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) and 1983's Tunnel of Love. But their 1982 crop of 45 was hardly shabby.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 37 Paul Siebel - Jack-Knife Gypsy


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 755 Animal Collective - Sung Tongs


Song(s) of the Day # 2,918 Annika Norlin


Swedish pop star, journalist and author wo has just released her latest album Mentor, helpfully with a one disc of songs in Swedish and one in English.

It's very firmly mainstream stuff, which isn't really the main source of stuff I really seek out. But it's all perfectly amiable stuff and there are at least a coupleopf crackers here. You get a couple of songs in Swedish and one in English.

Friday, January 21, 2022

1982 Singles # 30 Roxy Music


Roxy Music were still around in 1982. A rather different prospect from what they'd been when they'd first appeared. Sleek, streamlined and essentially Ferry's vehicle. His ferry, if you like. They weren't perhaps as thrilling as they'd been ten years earlier but were still state of the art pop product. Ferry still the matinee idol star. And this single particularly was one for the ages.

The Action


Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 36 Linda Hoyle - Pieces Of Me


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 756 Damien Rice - O


Song(s) of the Day # 2,917 Hook-Ups


Another great new release I've been directed to by Darren Jones. Domestic Fantasy a new album by Hook-Ups of Oakland, California..

 Full of light and cleverly constructed alternative pop.songs. Only ten tracks and nineteen minutes in total but it feels like longer because there's so much going on. Breathy vocals somewhere between Elliott and Jeff Tweedy and fascinating, between song snippets of everyday American mall life.

This is a quite wonderful, instant album that I'll be back to plenty. 2022 looking just great musically already. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

BB King


1982 Singles # 31 Pigbag


Pigbag. Fabulous! So much going on in Bristol at this point. As in every major city in England and Scotland.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 35 Jerry Lee Lewis - In Loving Memories


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 757 U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind


Song(s) of the Day # 2,916 Wes Tirey


Any album called The Midwest Book of the Dead is almost bound to be worth listening to. Such is certanly the case with Wes Torey's album of this name from last year. Here are four tracks. It will give you the general idea.

With a wizened voice as old as the hills, or certainly as old as Johnny's Cash's and Willie Mitchell's, and a ta leto tell,  this is instantly gripping, right from the off.

Biblical in its intent and delivery, willing to take its time. This is a fabulous record that I'm sorry I didn't pick up on during its year of release. I'm pleased I've found it now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Bobby Gillespie - The Tenement Kid - # 16 Primal Scream


Weatherall transforms I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have  into Loaded and Screamadelica and essentially Primal Scream as they want to be, are born.

1982 Singles # 33 Imagination


I wasn't really on track with Soul and Pop Soul music in 1982. My focus was on the alternative bands lighting up the charts. But the Soul and R&B was around and in the charts and on reflection was pretty damned good. Imagination were a band I barely noticed then. Even though they were everywhere at the time.

They were a trio, and were huge in 1982 and fronted by the flamboyant Leee John who I remember for his big headband and big trousers. Just an Illusion was a number 2 hit in March of the year and deservedly so. It seemed designed for cheesy nightclubs and I've never been a huge one for cheesy nightclubs. But this was classy, state of the art, cheesy nightclub fare.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 33 Chico Barque - Construcao


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 759 MGMT - Little Dark Age


Song of the Day # 2,914 Japanese Heart Software


Melbourne's Japanese Heart Software do that Shoegaze, Belinda from My Bloody Valentine meets Laetitia from Stereolab sweet drone thing, one more time for the kids.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Neil Young


Album Reviews # 108 Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence


Paul Simon is an artist who makes more sense to me the older I get. I bought Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hts for my 86 year old mother last Christmas at her request. And how wise she was to ask for it. I could easily choose any of their Sixties albums to write about their importance. The Greatest Hits are enough but it would be a shame not to investigate further.

They were saying something slightly different from any other musical artists of that particular decade. Which is why their records have endured and not dated while much music from those years seems mired in its times.

The two great gifts they brought to the table were silence and clarity. They are values that prevail. I've chosen to write about Sounds of Silence herebut you might as well listen to any of their records. Cerainly this and the one that came out a few months later in 1966,  Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme seem a piece and make a great single sitting listening experience. 

A suite that should be listened to right the way through as as good a document of that year as any otherThe records provided the musical backdrop to the following year's The Graduate, still one of my all time favourite films.

The Graduate is impossible to think of without considering the songs of these two albums. Documenting a time of general conflict and change, ( generational, political, cultural and racial), in the calmest and most rational but also empathetic way imaginable. 

The Graduate says nothing specific about the latter. Neither do Simon & Garfunkel really, although it's implicitly there in both cases as the racial contradiction was at the heart of the American dilemma, then and now.

So Simon & Garfunkel sing their songs. Not necessaily for the hip, as Bob Dylan had pretty much cornered that quarter of that particular market in 1966. While Dylan asked any number of questions, went electric and left the kids to puzzle out the answers, Simon stayed mostly acoustic and when they were electric, it was quiet electric, spoke relatively clearly and seemed to say that the answers lay in contemplation, reflection and consideration rather than giving the finger to the man . 

Any great artist look to speak to their times and to eternity. Simon & Garfunkel do both here. The focus from Simon in his lyrics is often biblical, generally New rather than Old Testament for the most part.Garfunkel meanwhile is the ace card. He brings the harmony.

I think Sounds of Silence is slightly the better album of the two but what does it matter. They speak of wisdom beyond the years of either of them, combined frankly. They speak of how it's more powerful sometimes to whisper than to scream, to listen rather than to speak.

There's something eternal about these records. They speak of love and ask for peace while fully expecting more war, They're the still point of the turning world and deserve to be fully appreciated .

Bobby Gillespie - The Tenement Kid - # 15 S Express


Primal Scream release their second album which makes little impact apart from getting the band together with Andrew Weatherall. A key moment in their story. They go down in terms of the priorities of Alan McGee and Creation Records. Stone Roses steal their thunder by doing what they wanted to do with Sonic Flower Groove. Life in Brighton suits them. They appreciate what Mark Moore and S Express are doing and limp / forge onwards towards Screamadelica. Their great moment of realisation.