Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Roddy Frame


The Holdovers OST - # 11 Mark Orton


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 476 Laurie Spiegel - The Expanding Universe


             Repetitive initially.But it's insistence won me over eventually. Was glad I persevered.

1984 Singles # 21 Aztec Camera


No longer cult concerns. Aztec Camera were in the Pop Market now. This was not something to regret. Like Orange Juice they really saw themselves as chart contenders from the off and it was so exciting to see them strut their stuff. To compete.

Still On Fire had everything that had made them pure, instinctive delight from the off. Genuine flair, like a tricky winger showing the full back the ball and then pushing it between his legs before moving in on goal. Guitar to die for. Nobody has ever played like Roddy could play. I mean nobody. Words that skimmed and scanned and danced like the kind of poetry they couldn't teach at school because it would have only inspired the students to stand up and walk straight out of the school gates. Never to return. It didn't go Top Five. It should have done. What was Top Five that week. Kajagoogoo?

Knife wasn't High Land, Hard Rain.What could be. But it had so many moments it didn't really matter.. I went with my sister and her pretty 15 year old mates when it came out. To Virgin Megatstore on Tottenham Court Road to a signing session. There were the band, sat behind a table signing the records when the fans had queued and bought them. Fully made up. Hair stood to attention. Proper Pop Stars. I asked my sister and her pals to go and get them to sign the record for me.

Not knowing it was for the older brother the band grabbed their silver pens and scrawled across the sleeve. Love Roddy xx. Love Campbell x. It's still one of my proudest possessions.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 514 Giant Sand - Glum


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 34 The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses


Song(s) of the Day # 3,634 You Are Wolf


Having witnessed Lankum's triumphant performace at The Boiler Shop on Saturday night when they carried all before them with consumate ease, I'll be curious as to where Contemporary Folk goes in 2024. It definitely seems to have the world at its feet right now.

Folk comes with innate and inbuilt self-confidence and assurance these days. A spring in its step. This wasn't always the case. In my first year at university in 1985 Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span or Pentangle albums were the last thing you would want to be seen with under an arm. That was not a cool set.

Times are changing though and I'm constantly coming upon records that immediately package themselves as Contemporary Folk and project themselves as the new cool. It's a curious and frankly to my ears and eyes a bewitching phenomena that makes Post Punk (which has carried all before it for so long) resemble increasingly yesterday's papers. 

The Fall, Gang of Four, Joy Division. That's so 2022 Daddio! Don't they know that everybody's gone with the raggle taggle gypsies oh. Hey! Don't walk away. In Silence. Mike Scott where are you now? Your people are calling you back to the campfire. Grab your fiddle and join the reel.

It's weird frankly but everywhere you look there are folk turning up who clearly owe more to Kevin Rowland and Sandy Dennys inspiration than that of Ian Curtis or Mark E. Smith. The latest case is You Are Wolf's hare/hunter/moth/ghost. A quite staggering record frankly to add oi the tottering pile.

The record is much easier to absorband enjoy than its packaging, whether that's either the band's name or the album or song titles. Hey I'm not going to pretend I understand what's actually happening here. Maybe all these people are e all enrolled on or have just graduated from Irish Folklore degree courses. I can't claim to understand everything that's going on here but it's fascinating stuff and in many respects this is a quite brilliant record.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Holdovers OST - # 10 Mark Orton


The Smile - Wall of Eyes


One thing that seems worthwhile to me is to have some idea about 'which way the wind blows' to quote a man who often seemed to have a pretty good idea which direction that was. At least vaguely.

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood always strike me as characters who always try to do that. They maintain the most sensitive cultural anttenae and always have done in remarkable musical careers which are now stretching past the 30 year mark.

Their music always seems immediately germane and contemporary to me and that's a remarkable achievement. Whether in Radiohead, in their own solo projects or now with The Smile, they always seem to make the weight, train up for the fight and come dancing out from their corners at the sound of the bell ready for the fray.Not bad going at their ages. No resting on laurels here.

Wall of Eyes effortlessly maintains their astonishing and almost unrivalled career Knock Out record. It's such a good record from starter's pistol to finishing tape. I wouldn't put it past them to be medal contenders come the awards ceremonies in December. They remain contenders that's for sure..

The rhythms Wall of Eyes seems based on seem to be to be primarily Jazz generated ones to me but I'm not a musician so I won't venture further. Thom Yorke's vocals drift in and out of the mix like the ultimate harbinger of gloom and doom as ever. He's an Old Testament Prophet and no mistake and a particularly persistent example. The Rock & Roll Fiver forever bemoaning the oncoming destruction of the warren. He's never much fun exactly but remains an incredibly resonant and impressive artist.

Greenwood is every bit as remarkable and kudos to Tom Skinner the third player of The Smile who clearly supplies enough creative and personal input to convince Yorke and Greenwood that they don't feel the need to return to the Radiohead fold quite yet. I don't care. I imagine that will happen one day.It doesn't really matter to the rest of us.  This is as good as a Radiohead record for me.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 477 The Lounge Lizards - The Lounge Lizards


John Lurie better known, or at least by me, as an excellent support or lead player in Jim Jarmusch Eighties classics such as Stranger Than Paradise, was also a considerably talented musician. Just take a listen to his band Lounge Lizards' eponymous debut where he led the band and played sax if you don't believe me.

It's the last word in ultra cool angular Jazz posturing. The kind of thing that hipster types like Jarmusch would have posed in the front row of ultra cool dives for and positively purred in appreciation.

Records of this sort don't get any better. Lurie also has a highly praised memoir that's well worth tracking down I'm told.

1984 Singles # 22 Everything But The Girl


When it comes to Great National Treaures, the ongoing discussion in British life the shortlists are sometimes slightly crude, obvious, not to say questionable. Putting aside what the criteria for this label should be it seems to provoke kneejerk votes fot the likes of Morrissey, Mark E.Smith, Michael Caine and Stephen Fry whose names are cast intantly into the ring with nary a moments consideration. Well OK maybe not Morrissey anymore. That boy seems to have well and truly burned his bridges once and for all.

But being anti-establishment is the oldest trick in the book and is not in itself an admirable quality. Neither is being a Lovie. Sorry Fry has many great qualities but also flaws which he himself would be the first to own up to. Caine has become worryingly Right Wing in his dotage as you might expect. Well that's an East End upbringing for you. But how about casting the net a bit wider sometimes. How about Ian Curtis? Tracy Thorn.

Thorn is a particular character on the English Pop scene. And one worthy of particular respect. She's always remained a very dignified figure. Her politics are good. Well OK. They're the same as mine. She's made no end of wonderful records. And diverse ones too. She's a woman. It's nor always easy to be a woman in British Cultural life. There's an ugly misogynist edge just below the surface of British public discourse. Never mind the racist one.

She's also grown to be has an almost figure of letters in recent years. She writes a brilliant column for the Spectator and has a couple of excellent books under her belt. Notably her fabulous Lindy Morrison memoirs which cut incredibly deep. Bringing me to the verge of tears on any number of occasions. 

And also she and Ben Watt are responsible for Eden. Which alone qualifies them both for peerage and damehood nods in my book.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 35 Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City


Song(s) of the Day # 3,633 New Dad


Galway Ireland's New Dad fail to heed the warning from Nineties never weres Gay Dad that including Dad in your ame may not be an automatic password to critical success an mass adulation. Their debut album MADRA is frankly much better than their name.

It's a record that is happy to remain safely generic somewhere between icons of Darkness like The Cure and Garbage.

This leads to many hummable tunes. They're good at this. But the record generally fails to break beyond the conforms of this form as the likes of bdrm have in recent times.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 513 Ali Farke Toure With Ry Cooder - Talking Timbuktu


Monday, January 29, 2024

Gruff Rhys - Sadness Sets Me Free

 'In the night club of my mind. I'm doing cocaine in the cloakroom.'

Sometimes you need to listen to a record a few times and listen to it properly before writing a review. Gruff Rhys latest, Sadness Sets Me Free is an example of this fundamental requirement Pop Pickers!.

Normally I might have given it a single listen. Not been entirely blown away, written a cursory 'It's OK' review and been done with that. But I had a nagging feeling that told me, 'Wait it's better than that.' So I'm only putting pen to paper so to speak a few spins down the road this time round.

Rhys is a doughty performer and has been ever since his first appearnce as man at the mic for Super Furry Animals in the mid Nineties. If he were a cricketer, (and why shouldn't he be), he'd be a reliable middle order batsman in the Peter Willey mould who would come in and flash with considerable flair outside the off stump consistently, score 30 or 40 tuns in quick time and generally wake up the bored and witless middle aged types nodding off in the pavillion. Someone to put trust in. Batting for Glamorgan, the Welsh cricket playing county naturally.

He's never put out a bad record or not one that I've heard. Neither for Super Furries or as a solo artost. But he's so consistent he's also easy to take for granted. Like the middle order batsman who never lets you down. Reliability can be a curse

This review is a half hearted effort of mine to correct tis sorry state of affairs. I think Sadness Sets Me is quite excellent in its characteristic, self effacing way. It is rather sad I must say at points. But this is persona based leftfield slightly arty respect in the grand British tradition and Rhys is one of the best practititioners of this neglected and slightly threatened artform that we have.

So I direct you here if you've ever enjoyed a Scott Walker, Serge Gainsbourg, Tindersticks or Jarvis Cocker record. That's where its heart and soul are. It's a keeper and I'll be listening to it on a regular basis over the coming months,

1984 Singles # 23 The Pogues


                                                    'Lend me ten pound. I'll but you a drink...'

The Pogues and the Folk flame they reignited in the Eighties burn on. It always will. I went to see Lankum for living proof on Saturday night. Experience what that cauldron of lived and passed communal experience and celebration still has to offer. It's beyond explanation and understanding but get  yourself to a good bar buy yourself a pint and start to sup it and you'll be well on your way. 

The experience of irresponsible inebriation and why so many go for it with such abandon is a story in itself. There are few better songs than this to start the playlist for soudntracking and throwing yourself into that particular experience. Better lived than written about and scrutinised too deeply though there's a particularly potent river of poetry attached to this way of living of course which The Pogues plug into here.. Drink responsibly is my line these days. That hasn't always been the case and I have no regrets. It was fun...


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 478 Eurythmics -Touch


I had mixed feelings about Eurythmics at the time but have since realised how good some of their early stuff is. Particularly, the power and projection of Annie Lennox and the resonance and ahead of its time quality of several of their singles and albums. Not to mention their image and Lennox's sexual persona.

I bought Touch at the time. Listened to it a fair bit at the time and liked it for sure without making a deeper connection with what was going on. I've reconected with it recently. It's difficult to make Pop music as good as this. Immediate but also resonant. It's difficult. If it was easy everybody would be doing it and the World would be an incredibly happy place. 

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 512 Wu-Tang Clan - Wu-Tang (36 Tables)


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 36 Pink Floyd - Animals


Song(s) of the Day # 3,632 Conchur White


A huge quantity of exciting new music has cropped up on my radar inthe last couple of days leaving me with a challenge; to do it all justice. But music has beconing a governing principle for me oflate. So, a cup of tea, a hot cross bun an off we go. On with the show.

Certain principles and trends emerge. Scenes. After a weekend when I witnessed  Lnkum's majesty, testimony and gospel, a couple of further Irish albums of interest have dropped on my mat.

First of all Conchyr White's Swirling Violets. A poppier prospect than Lankum but equally intriguing. White hails from Co Armagh and this is his debut. It's always great to come upon first records that seem fully directed and this is a case in point.

Defintely more of a Pop tan a Rock statement but I don't imply criticism in that. Not enough to my personal taste to demand further play but rhe world needs Pop music and this is highly competent and thoughtful Pop which will speak to people. Out on Bella Union. Always a further recommendation.  

Sunday, January 28, 2024

What I Did Last Night - Lankum at the Boiler Shop

I'm becoming a creature of habit. I find it suits me. I need it in order to be content come the end of the day. I'm facing an enormous set of new challenges and in order to be able to rise to them I find I need to adopt and adhere to a certain discipline,

I rise while it's still dark. Go downstairs make some tea and start a long breakfast. I like to stretch my breakfast out as long as I can see days. I put my headphones on, listen to the Tapir! album and write my review which I posted on here yesterday.

I'm slow in terms of dressing and heading out. I notice on social media it's Sam's 25th birthday. Sam is my Rock & Roll friend. Lead singer of local deadbeats and Magic Band impressionists and part time floppy doll scarecrow..Sam's great. 

I enter the shop and let him know I know it's his birthday. 'Sam, have you got Happy Birthday by Altered Images? Have you got Happy Birthday by The Beatles. It's on The White Album. Have you got Happy Birthday To You by Stevie Wonder.' 'No Bruce. I don't have any records called Happy Birthday.' 'Well Happy Bithday Can I have a tab?' He's playing Devo. Sam's always playing something good. Devo are always one of the interesting ones. Their myth of origins. Their mission statement. How right they were about so many things.

Sam gives me a cigarette. A real one. I don't smoke any more. Except one of someone else's every few days. Other people's always taste better. It's hardly the worst crime in the world. It's highly addictive you know. Not good for you. This one doesn't really work.That's not Sam's fault. It's mine.

I wander down to The Royal Station Hotel into the full fathom gale that seems to have been blowing right full on into all of our faces all  the way through January. Sometimes it's bracing if the sky is clear, other times you suspect you might be decapitated by dislodged slates, crushed by uprooted trees or collapsing walls. It's slightly unnerving frankly. Haven't we got enough to contend with. What with politicians and people in our lives. Work. Thinking the sky is about to fall on our heads too is just too much to cope with on top of all that.

Dave is behind the desk in the Fitness Centre crouching in the doorway almost  wincing because the fire alarm is bleeping at full volume which it seems to have been doing unrelentingly for days. I feel for him and comisserate. It's bad enough that they're all on minimum wage, are treated with contempt by management and this seems like it must be possibly the most boring job in the world . They're all very friendly, approachable and have excellent banter considering. I like chatting to people behind the desk.

I'm increasingly adhering to routine as a guiding prunciple for organising my day. A few months in the Fitness Centre has taught me a bit. The value health wise of doing the circuit. Half an hour in the roasting sauna in two shifts. The plunge pool because even though I dread it, it pays dividends. Ten lengths in the small pool. Plenty of showers.

I also hope I'll get a good chat while I'm here. It's something I expect from my couple of hours here. Today it's with a tattoed bike courier I've met before. Nice guy. His surname is Champion and his descendents he tells me, if you go back some were Hugenouts. We talk about governments, surveillance, groups and clubs and and not really wanting to be controlled by them. 

It's a great chat. Not as miserable as it sounds by any means. It's the real deal, The kind of thing that makes me know that I'm going in the right direction. Not sitting in a staff room with people around me whinging about how they hate their jobs rather than comparing notes about what they're doing in their lessons, swapping activities and aproaches or talking about what they love about their lives. What makes them happy. Best practice. I wonder if they're good teachers sometimes.

From there I go home. Call mum. Always great to chat to mum. Then off into town. To Grey Street Opticians the designer place by the Monument. I'm being exceptionally frugal this year, my belt tightened to the last notch. It's the new me. Sometimes it pays to think to the future. But I'm going to treat myself to glasses with cool frames at the end of the month when money goes into my account. 

Cool framed spectacles seems to be almost a niche consumer pursuit in itself now. Every niche interest it appears has a tribe of obsessives and it's all focussed upon to an exhaustive degree. All of the young assistants in the Grey Street Opticians today are sporting a particular pair which stops you in your tracks. I should know about this tendency to obsess on objects. Recently I've joined interest groups on West German Pottery, Liminal Spaces, Art Deco, Surrealism and share images on Social Media at every opportunity. It passes the time.

Back in the flat I put on Lankum's False Lankum to set the mood for the evening ahead of me. I've got a ticket for the gig of the month and possibly the year. Lankum, Contemporary Irish Folk band swept all before them last year. It was an interesting phenomena. Like a wave that gathered, mounted and refused to crash. It's still mounting now. 

False Lankum, the phenomenal album they released early in the year swept all before it by the end of it. It won virtually every music rundown that was going at the end of the year. Mojo, Uncut, Guardian. They pretty much all bowed before it. Why this happened exactly is slightly harder to comprehend and interpret but I guess it's something that should just be appreciated and enjoyed. Something so good capturing the zeitgeist for a change. Generally it's things that I don't understand, say nothing to me and leave me cold.

I've had a relaxed, happy day. Time to head out, I grab my hat, though I'm aware that I'll clutch the top of my head as soon as I'm outdoors to stop it being carried off by the relentless gale and head off for The Telegraph

Amy, the gorgeous barmaid and my friend and confidant for a couple of years now is holding court behind the bar at The Telegraph. She has the finest beehive in Newcastle, a cool Bet Lynch. She serves me a fruit cider, hands me a pint with ice to pour it into and I watch the first half of the match.

It's Newcastle, away at Fulham in the cup. I've been a Newcastle supporter since I was six. Living and working in Newcastle for fifteen years. All my friends from here support them. But for some reason I've become oddly emotionally detached of late. I can't explain it. Like other things I'm distrustful of at the minute. People, institutions, media constructs, I won't give you a list. I distrust it somehow. Find it manipulative.

That doesn't mean I don't want Newcastle to win. We're talking over fifty years here. When they take the lead a few minutes before half time I punch the air, like the rest of The Telegraph. It's a dubious goal. In fact it's not a goal, Bruno handballs knocking down for Longstaff to sweep the ball into the bottom corner of the net. 

The goal is given. Newcastle are the bigger side in this case so that makes sense as the best way to resolve disputes. It happens all the time in football now. It wouldn't be stretching a point too much to imply that it happens virtually every time. It's a three card trick. Like I say I'm pleased when Newcastle score and win. I'm just not willing to invest much. Football's gone down my list.

I'll invest in music though. It's time to decamp to the Boiler Shop. I do so. I get frisked at the venue as if I'm getting on a plane or visiting a detention centre with a file in a cake for one of the inmates. Boiler Shop is an odd place. One part entertainment facility but with the air of a high security prison. I'm sorry, I know things have to be organised this way but it's odd. And not relaxing frankly. Some bands know how to work the place but not everyone.

I get myself a beer. Then I'm pleased to bump into Richard, with Lars another nice and thoughtful guy I've met before. Two academics who work at Newcastle University. I'm pleased to see them. I've reconnected with Richard in the last few months and it's been great to do so. He writes music related pieces and posts them on social media and they're a joy. Erudite but written as a fan. 

We chat about music, work and life in general. One particular thing Richard mentioned at one point was about social media narratives. About attaching yourself to narratives of celebration rather than ones of anxiety. It's been a helpful idea since. There's so much anxiety around these days, fear of everything, and I'm doing everything I can to remove myself from it all. Be with family and friends from now on.

Time for Lankum. The venue is thronging. It's a sell out. More than a 1,000 people. An atmosphere and anticipation that's tangible. Lankum gather onstage and seat themselves at the front of the stage with their unweildy traditional instruments. I'm close to the front but not as close as I'd like to be. This music is intimate and it would be best if you could see the whites of the musician's eyes. The crowd are friendly but packed like pichards at the front of the stage. It would be rude to force through any further. I've been well brought up.

Anyway I get my moneys worth and more. The atmosphere is  'uncanny,' a word I've increasingly turned to to exlain how I've been feeling recently. What Lankum deal with first and foremost is atmosphere as I've said, and an awareness and understanding of what's gone before. An embrace of the past. If they're going to be written about it probably pays to take an academic slant, Collective unconsciousness and memory. Those who have lived and died. Their hopes and dreams. Passions and woes. To quote another Irishman, or at least one with Irish blood.

'With loves and hates and passions just like mine.Seems so unfair I want to cry.'

.The last thing I feel like doing is crying. It makes a change from what generally holds court in the mainstream. It's an odd phenomenon. But certainly one to be celebrated. Lankum are chatty and garrulous from the off. They're having the times of their lives as are we, The last thing they want is respectful silence.. They know their music is best if their audience responds and gradually we do. A few songs in and we get the measure of the occasion. It takes a while. We're not all used to events, celebrations of being alive like this. Chants go up in the crowd, You feel like you're giddy, swaying like you're in a football crowd and your team is three goals up and everyone's hungry and expectant of more. You're aware of the undertow, the wave you're being carried on. You don't want this moment to end.

But for me it needs to. My spirit is more than willing but my flesh is weakening. My legs are aching, my early morning exercise regime coming back to me as it's tending to do these days. I make my way home. But I've had a ball. The gig of the year in January. I didn't experience it all perhaps. But it was fantastic. Lankum have set the bar incredibly high from the off. I won't forget this.

The Holdovers OST - # 9 Artie Shaw


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 479 Travelling Wilburys - Volume One


Despite the talent and some decent very old school songs, this still feels like one of the least cool albums ever made.

1984 Singles # 24 New Order


New Order are one of those bands that seemed more exciting in retrospect than they were to experience.. Their records weren't all actually hugely exciting at the time even if they were generally innovative. Take Thieves Like Us. Barney's vocals aren't strong, (in fact they're definitively thin and reedy). 

As for the lyrics, They almost come with an apology.  'I've lived my life in valleys. I've lived my life on hills. I've lived my life on alcohol. I've lived my life on pills.' You can't help feel Ian Curtis stir a little in his grave. 'Oi Barney. Have you been reading Baudelaire again?' Thieves Like Us is a cool moment with a very cool Peter Saville de Chirico sleeve but musically other bands stirred your heart a lot more. Quite a few actually. 1984 was a golden year for poetic, literate guitar bands, Quite a few still to come.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 511 Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 37 Miles Davis - Kind of Blue


Song(s) of the Day # 3,631 The Vaccines


I've never cared much for The Vaccines really, since they first stumbled into view like young turks smelling of over indulgence while staggering cross the pavemen ahead of you, just ejected from the Last Chance Bar on Friday night because the bouncers had decided they'd finally had enough back in 2011.

They seemed to be a bunch of chancers to me. Graduates from a How To Be an Indie Rock Star course. They do courses in everything these days now. The band preened as if they'd sat down around a computer together one evening shortly before graduation and input every dumb, one dimensional cliche in the Rock & Roll lexicon and once they'd exhausted all their ideas pressed CALCULATE then PRINT and played the most minor variations on the formula that came out ever since. A chorus forever in search of a song.

Let's face it, it's hardly The Ramones, but every generation needs and deserves their own equivalent of The Ramones I guess and The Vaccines were theirs. Judging by latest album Pick Up Full of Pink Carnations released tellingly on the first Friday of 2024, they've learned nothing and have no plans to do so any time soon. Let's face it, their formula has worked pretty well for them. 

The Vaccines never achieve three dimensions let's face it . At least not in any song of theirs that I ever heard. Still there are worse things to listen to as you slip your car into gear for the hour it takes to get into work or get home. I enjoyed this but don't need to hear it again. I imagine they still fill venues. Phew. Rock & Roll!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

1984 Singles # 27 The Triffids


The Mighty Triffids were not on my radar yet. That didn't happen until 1985 and I was on my gap year in a Swiss hotel. My sister made and sent me a fabulous mixtape with several songs from their Treeless Plain record. My Baby Thinks She's a Train and Red Pony stood out. There were other songs frim the tecord but they didn't stand out quite so much and tell you that this was not just a band traumatised by The Velvet Underground, The Doors and Johnny Cash though they were all these things. But these two songs, and I wasn't sure what I thought of them, I wondered whether they were ridiculous for the longest while It took me the longest time for them to seep me into my DNA. 

But they had arrived in the UK in 1984 and already made a significant impact on the British live circuit and in the music press. Read David Cavangh's essential Hell of a Summer a beautifully wrought piece about the author witnessing and befriending the band when they were unkniwn's but clearly something quite startling. They also released this.

Brian Jones & Francoise Hardy


Ty Segall - Three Bells


Do you want to go back in time? Go through a portal and find yourself back in ....1972. Lying on an unmade flat with bongs, joss sticks and the general detritus you would associate with an unkempt suburban teenage bedroomin the Midwest from that year. If you fancy that experience then fret not. The record has arrived to tick all of the 1972 boxes you might possibly have.

The record concerned is West Coast acid troubadour Ty Segall's new record Three Bells. As you might expect. It's FAR OUT MAN! Segall has form for this kind of stuff. I've listened to quite a few of his records down the years and this time portal thing to 1972 seems to be his guiding principle pretty much every time he visits a studio to 'lay down some tracks' as they tend to put it in Rock & Roll parlance.

I like Segall as I like his closest musical cousins Oh Sees and have enjoyed a number of his records down the years. Just as I've enjoyed theirs. Fine as their records are though, I'm not an obsessive fan of either. I've seen them both over the years in the local gig warehouse The Boiler Shop and got tired of both acts mid way through their sets.

While both are exceptionally proficient they both seemed like massively talented acts involved in what I found to be a kind of Retrophilia. An exercise that was ever so slightly devoid of actual soul and heart even though the groove patterns laid down were incredibly impressive. I decided that I thought records were both band's natural element. Perhaps I didn't experience either in their best venue.

Three Bells is OK but Ty didn't blow my mind - this time. In the words of The Delphonics. There's just too much noodling to impress your muso mates going on. Pressing on effects pedals and making 'Wagh!!!' faces int he mirror in music shops  like the outakes from a Wayne's World movie. I'll continue following Segall's career because he's one of the good guys but getting back to 1972 is beginning to seem like a bit of a dead end creatively and I hope he chooses different options next time round.

The Holdovers OST - # 8 Tony Orlando & Dawn


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 480 Miles Davis - Tutu


I've listened to planty of Miles in my time. I've never listened to Tutu until just now. I went into it with an open mind. I'm not sure it was warmly received when it came out in 1986. I found it a bit dull frankly though it was certainly atmospheric. But it all struck me a bit like an Eighties murder mystery set in a large house in the country. Slightly farcical stuff at points. I'll admit didn't listen to the whole record. My bath was hetting cold.


1984 Singles # 25 David Sylvian


A memory. A very happy one. How listening to Climate of Hunter by Scott Walker, on a Facebook group which I'm a member of, which didn't quite do it for me, led me to listen to David Sylvian's brilliant Brilliant Trees from the same year and wallow in this happy memory for an hour:

'Everyone should have a girl or a boy next door in their youth. I did. Emma Kate Pailthorpe was her name. We both liked each other. But I was too shy to do anything about it. I was eighteen. Teddington. One evening in 1984, (the year this came out), I was alone in the house, (my parents and sister were elsewhere for some reason). I watched Top of the Pops. 

The Smiths played Heaven Knows, Morrissey with a small tree hanging out of his back pocket. They also played the video for Sylvian's Red Guitar. The most beautiful man in the world and he came from Catford. There was a ring on the doorbell and it was Emma-Kate.One of the most beautiful girls in the world. At least at that point in my life.

 Her cat had killed a bird and she was very upset and had it in a matchbox. We went round and buried it in her garden. Then we went in and watched Some Like it Hot. She made some cookies. A friend of hers came round and we all watched the film together. This anecdote is not a Pulp song. Nothing happened at all. Still one of my very favourite memories though. 'I'm drowning in my nostalgia' as David sang on Brilliant Trees. Enjoying listening to this more than Climate of Hunter I'd have to say. Tracks Three, Five, Six. Really. Hardly likely to attract the youth vote back in '84 when they had Sylvian and Morrissey. Sylvian particularly took Scott's place as the most beautiful man in the pop world.'

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 510 Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 38 Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures


Song(s) of the Day # 3,630 Tapir !

 People need escape. Release from the constant pressures and stresses they're having to deal with and endure. Withstand.  From their bosses. Their spouses. Their mortgages. Energy bills. Its tough out there. Unrelenting. Who can blame them.

Where do they escape to. To the pub. The beach,.Cinema. Football. TV. On Thursday evening at a loose end I switched on my TV. And instead of opting for my streaming services, looking for a film like I usually do I turned on the terrestrial service to see what BBC had to offer before the news.

I found myself watching The Traitors, the latest hype reality sensation they're all talking about. At least in the Sainsbury's I shop at. I realised on Thursday pretty much immediately that it wasn't for me. Hunger Games in the living room, Brave New World. 1984. Feelies. Hate Week. Mass stimulation. Mass manipulation.People I didn't know but was being asked to pretend that I did. I didn't really like it in short.

Perhaps I'm taking this all too seriously. Ir's all just a bit of fun I hear you say. But every third programme is a reality show now. They all work on similar principles from what I can see though some are more pleasant and engaging than others.

 But they're all based on the principle of competition and I'm tired of competition. It's not the only approach available to us. I'd rather see a bit more collaboration personally. And they're talking about a citizen's army and the evelasting war like the one in The Book of Revelations on Question Time so forgive me for taking this all seriously. .

I go for music and writing on here for my escape and release for the most part. On Friday morning I turned to South London's Tapir! for consolation.I got what I was looking for. I found pleasure and collaboration with a single objective in mind.. Tapir!'s debut album is The Pigrim Their God & the King of My  Decrepit Mountain. And it's a source of considerable beauty, wonder, invention and imagination. Generosity

I've been waiting to hear this record since last May. That's when I caught the band by chance in a support slot with The Golden Dregs at Cluny 2 in The Ouseburn Valley. I was won over. Enchanted frankly. The record is promise realised. I'd rather listen to it and explore than watch reality shows.

Like Aldous Huxley Tapir! look to Shakespeare's Tempest for inspiration. The record's a concept and it's out now on the ever constant Heavenly label. It's epiphany enough for me. I won't trouble you with further reference points though I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of Grizzly Bear at times. Always a happy reminder. Discover the Tapir ! Eden experience for yourself.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Holdovers OST - # 7 The Allman Brothers


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 481 Bathory - Under The Sign of the Black Mark


There are some things that are beyond my job description. And listening through to the whole of this Death Metal 'classic' is one of them. I only lasted a couple of tracks. This isn't my genre but it all seemed rather pointless after five minutes or so. Perhaps someone will explain it all to me one day.

1984 Singles # 26 The Stranglers


The Stranglers had mellowed considerably by 1984. They no longer wanted to stick their fingers right up your nose, nor make questionable, no let's face it deploy appalling and crass tactics like tying up or threatening journalists or calling songs I Feel Lika Wog. They were always bright boys and there was never any excuse for crap attention seeking behaviour like the latter.

They still dressed in black but had eased into middle age comfortably and wanted uncomplicated chart action. They were low maintenance for their relieved record company these days and Skin Deep was one of the finest singles they put out. Perhaps their hardcore fans thought they'd gone soft but some of those people were just brutal ftankly.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 509 Bjork - Debut


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 39 The Who - Who's Next


Song(s) of the Day # 3,630 Brown Horse


Black Horse's debut album Reservoir. An album that often verges on the classic, but never entirely topples into it. Recorded in four days apparently in a studio in Norfolk. R.E.M could work fast but even they took a couple of weeks over Reckoning apparently.

The hype on Brown Horse is already considerable. The band apparently 'acknowledges an indebtedness to the turn of the millennium alt-country sounds of Uncle Tupelo, Silver Jews, Lucnda Williams and Jason Molina.' So they revere the good stuff then. And can walk the walk too apparently given a single play of Reservoir.

I don't really see The Silver Jews connection though let's face it anyone with good taste rates Silver Jews. Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown seem like a closer call to me but perhaps people don't mention that guy these days. It also sounds like Mike Scott is guesting on the mic a fair bit and that's never a bad thing either.

This isn't a masterpiece. It's a little too samey and walks a familiar line. But it is a fine record that the Americana crowd will enjoy. Dark Horses, Brown Horse. I imagine I won't be the first to say that and certainly won't be the last.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Melanie 1947 - 2024


The Holdovers OST - # 6 Labi Siffre


1984 Singles # 27 China Crisis



From Icicle Works to... Oh let's stay on Mersyside. Bands like China Crisis are comforting looking back. Bands with a vision and still but valiant sensibility. Rather than... the likes of Stock, Aitken & Waterman who would fairly soon wipe away all opposition and plunge their sterille identity free flag deep into the Top Twenty and make it a no go area for years for the likes of me who demanded music that actually had identity that spoke in some way to me.

China Crisis were cool in a sweet quiet way. Their second album Working With Fire & Steel issues forth splendid lower chart hits that flicked V signs at the man in quiet but appreciated gestues as the Punk and Post Punk waves retreated in Britain in 1984.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 482 The Rolling Stones - Under Cover


The Rolling Stones were a rather strange proposition if you were discovering music for yourself in your mid teens in their early Eighties, There was their fabulous and still incredibly dark, impressive Sixties legacy which I remember encountering at one of my first parties in Teddington. Alcohol flowing. Girls.

The illicit thrill of Rolled Gold their classic collection of unstopple run of 45s was something else. It felt like you were uncovering and on the edge of the adult without quite having the world experience or knowing how to fully surrender to it or else seize it by the collar. Me anyhow. 

I had a very innocent upbringing and am still grateful for that. I didn't understand the dark roads the Stones were talkng about and walking with the likes of Paint it Black and Under My Thumb though they were mightily impressive and made you wish you could walk that walk and turn the cool girls heads even though you knew you never could. Looking back I'm relieved. A lot of the boys that I knew  could were wash outs before they made it to twenty. Burned out.

The actual Stones of 1982 were a different proposition from what they'd been in the Sixties and early Seventies before Keith's blood transfysions. . They were a seedy unprepossessing proposition, had long lost their grounding and understanding of the blues and peddled a flabby, not to say flacid AOR sound that was sterile to say the least.. And frankly unattractive and verging on desperate. They couldn't get it up. Seriously. I'm sure you've heard Je Suis Un Rock Star.

Under Cover, their album that year shone the spotlight on a set of refugees that had lost their way once and for all it seemed. It was like being obliged to attend a party with your scabby and embarassing older uncles as they paraded their trophy wives and younger girlfriends, devoid of integrity or the remotest self-awareness that they were utterly laughable and ridiculous. Not to say disgusting..

They ran through songs like She Was Hot and Tie You Up (The Pain of Love). The songs turned out to be worse than their sleazy and desperate titles. The Stones were crap. Maybe you wanted to attend one of their stadium gigs to see them go through the motions and run through the classics one more time and try to make Satisfaction and Gimme Shelter and the rest real again in any way at all. 

Really, they weren't worth the bother from this point on. You were much better off playing the records from the golden years when they were actually any good. The Sixties were over and there was no point in pretending otherwise except by following its best examples and living your own life.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 508 The Palace Brothers - There Is No One What Will Take Care of You


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 39 The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced


Song(s) of the Day # 3,629 Cowboy Sadness


Cowboy Sadness. I love the idea of Cowboy Sadness. The kind of ennui and moroseness clicked into motion by the vista of the endless plain and the lonesome prairie at the break of dawn. This might sound pretentious and I've never seen the American heartland but I imagine it's a genuine sensation and emotional experience, The vast horizon that you experience when you're watching great American movies like Paris Texas or Brokeback Mountain. The infinite longing.

There are worse records to listen to if you're hoping to experience this mood than the ludicrously entitled Selected Jambient Works Volume One, Stop sniggering at the back and start listening to this, The record is great even if its title isn't.

January is fleshing out just nicely in turn of new tecord releases. I didn't doubt it for a minute. This is a collaborative instrumental effort from the likes of The Antlers, Bing & Ruth and Port St. Willow. They combine well.

The album is just short of an hour so my advice is take your time. Tie up your hossie outside the Last Chance Saloon pull up a barstool and order a pitcher and a long glass. Here's a record that rewards your undivided attention. It was perhaps just a little but too long even for me and perhaps needed a slight change of pace to be truly essential but I still recommend this highly,

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Holdovers OST - # 5 Mark Orton


1984 Singles # 28 The Icicle Works


There was a lot of Liverpool around in 1984. The last hits of that whole wonderful first wave of Eric's bands. Bunnymen, Teardrops. The bands they inspired in turn. The Icicle Works had their joy, fun and seasons in the sun this year and it was a marvellous thing to behold and cheer them on.

Sure Ian McNabb came across sometimes as McCulloch and Cope's over exuberant younger brother and over egged the pudding on virtually every track on their eponymous debut album. But they were truly joyous tunes at the same time and the three piece Icicles kicked like a herd of asses on acid. 

They played songs that sounded like the way you felt when you first started noticing girls. That mushy wonderful feeling in your tummy that inspired you to write ctruly horrible poetry. Love is a Wonderful Colour was their big hit. They should have had others. But at least they had this one. If you look up the word 'wonder' in your dictionaries you'll find a picture of the sleeve of this record.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 483 Yazoo - Upstairs At Erics


A record it took me a long time to realise just quite how fantastic this was and get myself a copy  The early Yazoo siingles were just wondrous of course, but that wasn't quite my bag at this point.

Probably the best album Vince Clarke ever played on though I wouldn't want to upset Erasure fans. But Upstairs At Erics has everything. It changes gear every song. It's impossible to choose highlights because frankly it's all highlights. t came to an end yesterday and I put it on again.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 507 Orbital - Orbital