Sunday, March 31, 2024

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For March


It Starts With a Birthstine - Songs For March


Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 5 Sly & The Family Stone


Sly in the Seventies. Habits mount. Something to take him up. Something to bring him down.He buys a new place. 783 Bel Air Road. From John Phillips. He finds phials of pills every drawer he opens.

Paranoia mounts. As does mania.Lines of coke on glass tablse. Guys asleep with guns on their chest, A parade of faces and names. Gigs and festivals. Places.. Jimi and Janis die.There's a Riot Goin' On comes out.. About the riots in the street. And the one going on inside everyone. 

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 571 Beck - Mutations


Recorded in a studip on Los Angeles where Rat Charles and Brian Wilson had previously been, Mutations was not the first indication that Beck was not to be contained. Nor would it be the last. I listened to it loads. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,974 Glen Gould - J.S.Bach - The Goldberg Variations


A record much beloved by the Cash family in the wonderful Captain Fantastic, which I enjoyed very much again last night. I'm not surprised frankly.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,693 Dent May


You find yourself sitting facing a cleancut young man of the kind you could definitely bring back and meet mother. Sitting at a breakfast table sitting sipping tea. With a fried breakfast and a neat pile of pancakes awaiting his attention.

Dent May is from Mississippi but now finds hmself in LA. 'He's trying just as hard as he can. To be a clean cut dependable kind of man.' Rather more Andrew Gold than Randy Newman. Cynicism doesn't seem to be a suit that he trades in.

Instead What's For Breakfast trades in the wholesome. Your attention may wander after a few songs and you may find yourself reaching for the dial. I'm afraid mine did. I opted for the latest Holiday Ghosts record. It wasn't a decision I regretted.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 417 Various Artists - The Sound of Chicago


The Chicago sound was an incredible revelation. I'm still not particularly fluent if asked to Jack My Body. But am incredibly appreciative of those that can and the music that makes them want to do so.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 4 Sly & The Family Stone


Sly sees a girl that takes his fancy walking down Ocean Drive in San Francisco. He finds out where she lives, goes there and meets her parents and asks if he can take her out.

The moon landing. And then a month later Woodstock.Sly and his band go on at 3.30 in the morning. It's raining.The equipment isn't perfect but they are leaving a record in the air. Sly  decides to give the crowd a chance to sing, They play I Want To Take You Higher.

After Woodstock everything glows. The band's price goes up and they don't have to play clubs if they don't want to. The band entourage grows. They get security.

Sly moves into a house just off Mullholland Drive. He starts collecting guns. A lot of people start visiting the house. Not all of them bring flowers. The narrative becomes more and more about drugs and guns. Looking back Sly gets confused about the details. The music remains stellar. 

Their influence is everywhere. The Jackson 5. The Temptations. Sly calls it 'Cloud Mine.' He keeps running into Jimi. The musician he seems to respect most of all. Even Miles is beginning to follow him around. .Bobby Womack enters the scene. 'He had a hell of a soul yell amd he could play guitar like a motherfucker.' I get the impression that what's about to come might not actually be much fun.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 418 Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast


There were a couple of Iron Maiden singles I quite liked in the early Eighties. But mostly for their faintly ludicrous qualities and Bruce Dickinson's incredible bellowed vocal approach. I never felt inclined to listen to a whole album. It's far too late in the day to start today.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 570 Ravi Shankar - Live At Monterrey


There are stories of hippie audiences going into rapture and ecstatic applause at Ravai Shanker gigs, not realising the great man ha only been warming up and hadn't actually started his performance yet. This was not easy for western ears to process and still is. Perhaps we needed George Harrison's Google Translate. Still, a very great man. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,975 Kraftwerk - Radio Activities


Listening to this sounds like your witnessing the start of a journey that changes the world. Kraftwerk are not fully formed here but that knowledge only makes the experience more exciting. A band that saw the future.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,692 Gnoomes


A record I missed last year. By a band playing a couple of miles down the road from me tomorrow evening. Forty five minutes in the company of Gnoomes Ax Ox has convinced me to wander down. It's fascinating stuff.  

I've used the seafaring metaphor in here before. Like Ahab's Pequod adrift on the ocean's waves in search of quarry for the Captain's Table. Not every fish of interest and nutritious value gets caught in your nets. I missed this fine record last year. But I've noticed it now and I have Wandering Oak to thank for this.

Wandering Oak is a friendly bearded guy called Walter Allison. He's an Event Organiser essentially. He sets up Indie Gigs at venues such as The Cumberland Arms, The Cluny, Xerox and Lubber Fiend in the Newcastle area. I'm very glad he does. They're a mainstay of my gigging experience.


I like what's going on on Ax Ox. Gnoomes are a Russian band and they take elements of their great nation's cultural, literary and musical traditions, meld it onto Krautrock. Prog and Indie ones and set them off on tracks of their own invention. 

There are moments when the band break into mass monk chanting and the effect is deeply mesmerising and hypnotic. So you get The Brothers Karamazov meets Tago Mago. It's fantastic frankly.

So this is what I'll be doing on Sunday night and on top of that I get The Cumberland Arms and its wondrous terrace and interiors..Great way to send Easter Sunday.  

Friday, March 29, 2024

Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 3 Sly & The Family Stone


'Drugs came in. There were reasons' Sly's words. They get audiences dancing. The next twenty five pages race through the writing, recording and release of Sly & The Family Stone's first four things. Everything, on the pages, and in America's history between 1967 and '69 proceeds at breakneck speed. Summers of Love and Hate. Vietnam. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X's assassinatons. Andd Sly and his band racing from the margins to the centrestage. Just in time for Woodstock.

Ride - Interplay


I've always liked Ride a lot even though I've been aware that they haven't always generally been percieved as the hippest merchants on Pop's block. Perhaps excepting their early days when I think it was generally agreed that they were a damined good thing as the Eighties ended and the Nineties began,

I was commencing my last year at university and things very definitely seemed to be on the move. Ride were impossibly young and ptting out one great EP after another. Full of bright and vibrant guitar tunes that appreciated The Velvet Underground but also The Beatles and The Byrds. As well as the time they were in. Things got increasingly nostalgic and reverant and also strangely arrogant as the decade proceeded. Ride were never arrogant.

As they progressed through the Nineties they very visibly seemed to lose their direction and sense of mission. Guitarist and joint songwriter Andy Bell, fell under the spell of Oasis and joined them as a hired hand which I always thought was a shame as his own brand had great appeal to me and others.More to me at least long term certainly. 

Ride's reformation and reignition as a going concern has been that rare thing. A band reforming that's welcome because there's a sense of unfinished business. I saw them play in Newcastle about ten years back and it was one of the best gigs I've ever seen. Their talent was nakedly obvious and quite awe inspiring that night.

They have  a new album out called Interplay and I've just taken great pleasure listening to it, on my television set, (I still find it difficult to totally adjust to the technology leaps of my lifetime). It's a great record and I supect I'll put it on again as soon as it gets to its end.

The standard criticism of Ride has always struck me as a criticism of them, who they are and where they come from as much as of their music. That they are musical standard bearers for a Home Counties blandness. This implicit criticism strikes me as unfair given an actual focused listening to Interplay. It has so much going for it. The lyrics were never primarily what you go to with Ride. They fit fine here too. 

You really get the sense that Ride appreciate their own gifts now and are happy to stick to their own set of rules and sonic guidelines, rather than wanting to be Traffic, The Creation or god forbid Oasis. It's a great and highly varied record which concentrates on the band's consistent asset. Their appreciation of the light. It's almost an hour long and I'd say they're a band worthy of an hour out of anyone's life.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 419 Meredith Monk - Dolmen Music


By turns calming, restorative then suddenly alarming. Monk's voice is a quite remarkable instrument. The arrangements are to die for. Some record.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 569 Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way Baby


A strange phase in my life. A brief period when the DJ was king. I bought the CD but never completely engaged with it. I find it difficult to listen to records of this sort in their entirety but prefer to find tracks and moments in the mix.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,976 Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne


Where so much started from. I remmebr being in Beggars Banquest in the early Nineties. There was an incredible hipster of my acquaintance behind the counter. Always an interesting fellow to run into and find out what was going on. I din't pick up on the majesty of Uncle Tupelo until later. This made a stately impact on my day. It's regal in many ways.  

Song(s) of the Day # 3,691 High Llamas


Another Friday. The Good one. Another set of bright new set of releases to herald the Easter weekend. I went with High Llamas Hey Panda to set off the morning.

Sean O'Hagen the head llama strikes me as an interesting fellow. With time spent in Microdisney and Stereolab, two of the most substantial bands of the late twentieth century. Also no end of notable records of his own under his belt.

 Hey Panda is another. It trades in a rather lovely inautheticity which is very Japanese while also appreciating the Pop craft of the likes of Brian Wilson, Paddy Macaloon, Van Dyke Parkes and Randy Newman.

These have been guys that featured among my taste withour ever being top of my go to lists. I appreciate the eye for detail but would appreciate a bit more heart on occasion, I have the greatest respect for the artistry but also wonder how often I'll be back for more after this initial spin. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Jesus & Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes


I'll be relieved when I get to Good Friday finally and can have some down time. If only a long weekend.I don't like to complain. I'm not working down a mine with the morning lift descent into drakness and a world of underground tunnels of darkness to navigate and sparse oxygen clogging up my lungs.

My work is from my flat these days. Teaching German business people in office spaces and flats and houses with virtual backdrops. The future's so bright you'd better wear shades. Anyhow, I've carved myself a window now between lessons. Time to listen to and consider the latest Jesus & Mary Chain record, Glasgow Eyes.

It's their eighth in all. In almost forty years. Hardly Stakhanovite productivity. You might almost call them lazy bones. Though I never got the impression that the Reid Brothers were siblings to rile or stir to irritation if you knew what was good for you.

Still they're back and that's a very good thing, because Glasgow a very good thing indeed. Hardly a reinvention of their wheel so much as a sleek new model assembled on the basis of the ones we've come to expect of them.

For the Reid's have always been classic songwriters and ones of the highest calibre. Who could have imagined it when they first came to public notice late  ine 1984,. Blinking in the sunlight and scratching their acned complections and scrunching up their poor approximations of Ian McCulloch's more imperious and cared for quiff.

Plus ca Change. It's still Suicide meet Ramones meet the Velvets meet the Shangri-Las meet The Stooges at the Motorik End of Line Central Bahnhof. There's nothing essentially new sonically or lyrically on show here. Just variations on a theme they've carved out in leather and studs and shots of various kinds over forty glorious years of existence. But change is overrated if you've got a basic template as good as this which merely requires retweaking and reassembly every few years rather than a complete overhaul.

The Reid's are smart cookies and they've come up with the goods again. This is a record which compares with their very best and that's some achievement. There's wit and wisdom, top tunes and loads of priceless Glasgow attitude and grit. They've still got it. 

The Mamas & The Papas


Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 2 Ray Charles


Sly leaves school and decides music shoul be his vocation.He finds himself a music tutor and discovers the connection between music and shoelaces.The news of Kennedy's assassination comes in on the car radio while he's driving. He pulls the car over to the side of the road and starts crying. Then starts wondering what contribution he can make.

He goes into KSOL, a local radio station an gets himself a job. Choosing records.He changes his name from Sly Stewart. He invents radio rap in his head to fill the dead air. He reads out commercials and tries to turn every one into an event. The Family Stone start to come together.Beatles and Dylan come along, The California scene begins to gather. The Beau Brummels. The Great Society. He's present when they record their version of Somebody To Love

Sly begins to write songs.The times are a changing. The excitement is palpable. The Family Stone start rehearsing and building up medleys.They're called Sly & The Family Stones and Sly & The Family Stores on billings, They're taking off.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 420 Dome - Dome

 A collaboration between Wire's bassist and guitarist as the original incarnation of that band went on  hiatus for a few years in 1980. The record itself is a challenging but fascinating Post Punk document.


Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 568 Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill


When I went to Manhattan in 2001 it was great to cross an avenue named after Lauryn Hill. She deserves it as much as anyone. The Miseducation of ... is as invigorating listen now as it was the day it came out. As she makes her way towards fifty it's interesting to check out her Wikipedia to check out what she's up to now.  This incredible text still speaks multitudes.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,977 The Jayhawks - Hollywood Town Hall


                                                             'Walkin' on down the road...'

Craftsmanship. A landmark record in the annals of Cosmic Country, Americana and other traditions. Also a stunning statement in its own right. A record apart. Remind me of The Go Betweens in the loving detail and attention paid to decription of  setting and emotion applied in every song. Also in the way that the band are pictured sat on a settee on the front cover. In a similar manner to The Go Betweens on the sleeve of Tallullah. Otherwise the primary reminders are of The Band and Gram Parsons. And in a very good way.The record is so good that the highest praise and comparison points are appropriate. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,690 Sam Evian


'and the waves come, rollin' in rollin in...'

I've set myself a challenge it's worth trying to rise to. To find a newly released record I generally think it's worth listening to most mornings, Given the number of great records around it's not an impossible task.. So today we have Sam Evian and his latest album Plunge.

It's an interesting album title in itself.  I have a very got friend who's much enamoured of deep lake diving which definitely involves overcoming your fears and 'taking a plunge.' I'm less courageous. I'll just listen to and write about the record.

It's as rewarding in its way as a commune with nature at the break of day. Neat record. A New York based artist an record producer. Plunge mines the classic seam of late period Beatles, Harrison, Lennon and Nilsson, a sound and sensibility I'm very fond of andit's  nicely chipped away at here.

Nine songs and just North of half an hour. Another record I can recommend wholeheartedly. Job done. Time for my bath,

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Waxahatchee - Tiger's Blood


It must be Spring. Waxahatchee's Tiger's Blood has arrived to officially decree that we can start enjoying life again. Pack up your cadillac. Get on the highway and put your foot on the accelerator and head off in search of visceral life experience.

As the last paragraph suggests, Tiger's Blood  is very much an all American record. But hey we've all seen the movies now an have some understanding of the rituals of and proceedures these things follow what it looks like and how it's meant to feel.

Waxahatchee, or Katie Crutchfield, as I imagine she signs herself in on motel ledgers, understands all this. She's probably been working her way up to her definitive album statement for a while and I'm saying this might as well be it..I'm no longer in the mood to argue at length whether this is a step forward to maturity from previous efforts like Saint Cloud and I Walked With You a Ways. This certainly feels like a moment of arrival. 

She's been an artist worth celebrate for a while. Her voice is still rather more Indie Gal, than the full Emmylou ephiphany but I always liked Indie Gal. In Lone Star Lake she's posted a signature statement. But then this is an album where nothing really disappoints. It's a record to crank up, put your feet up on a stool and drift away. Or else get into your car if you have one of those.

Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 1 Funkadelic


'Life is a record. But where do you drop the needle?'

My younger sister Alison knows me well. We enjoy giving each other birthady and Christmas gifts every year. It's as much a joy to give as to recieve. This last Christmas she bought me Sly Stone's memoirs. I'm just starting to t read it as Easter approaches. 

It's something of a surprise still to remind yourself that this great man is still with us. He's one of the few living musicians to whom the term 'genius' still applies I'd say. 'He's lived a hundred lives and they're all here.' That's according to the blurb on the back corner from Questlove, who also supplies the Foreword. Let's find out.

Sly is getting clean. He sits in his house in LA watching classic boxing contests. Reflect on hisp ast. The time he appeared with Ali on the Mike Douglas Show in the summer of 1974. Ali was raging about injustice. Sly wanted to radiate happiness. 'If you get bit just hate the bite.' 

He seems to be freefalling through memory lane. Memory Lanes. He goes back to the beginning.He's born in Denton, Texas.  His family move shortly afterwards to California. They learn Mahalia Jacksom amd The Swan Silvertones at the familo piano. Sly starts performing in church and comes alive. He finds it difficult to apply himself at school. Rock & Roll comes along. He gravitates towards Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles .

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 421 Genesis - Genesis


'On which the Prog mainstays perfected their menacing 89s synthpop reinvention.'

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 567 Gillian Welch - Hell Among The Yearlings


Gillian Welch is a much namedropped figure in songwriting circles. 1998's Hell Among The Yearlings, her second album, feels as good a way to become acquainted with her work as any. A rather lovely record that dabbles in all aspects of Americana music. Th Appalachian, Bluegrass, Folk and all their rich traditions. An artist who knows exactly what she's doing. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,978 Regina Spektor - Soviet Kitsch


I pretty much fell in love with Regina Spektor a few years ago. A simlar thing happened with Courtney Barnett at rounnd about the same time. There's no actual law against it. I imagine it happens to ,middle aged men like me all the time.

Anyway I'm not about to start apologising to anyone in either case. They're both worth it. Staggeringly able artists in addition to being staggeringly attractive ones.

I latched onto Regina Spektor when her career was well underway. With 2112's What We Saw From The Cheaps Seats. It was nice to go back to 2004' s Soviet Kitsch this morning. The classical training and sophistication were also in place and evident. So was the essential ingenue quality which always made her stand out from the pack. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,689 Halo Maud


A young woman smiling in bliss under a silk veil. A record that combines childlike wonder with all the things that make French offbeat Pop such a delight. All these years down the line from France Galle, Francoise Harcy and Jaques Dutronc.

Halo Maud's Celebrate. A record that made me want to book a ticket on the Eurostar forthwith and get to Paris for its Springtime as the Easter break appriaches. It's a record that embraces naivety and abandon most immediately.

There's something distinctly elfin like about Halo's disposition. An evident debt to Bjork at her most unrestrained. Audry Hepburn in Funny Face. Amelie in Amelie also came to mind. Stereolab and Broadcast. Those eternal touchstones.

A lovely record anyhow. Always best to maintain an essntial innocence of youthful frisson. Qualities and attitudes that never pale. Celebrate indeed.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Lonely Planet Boy by Barney Hoskyns # 7 Metallica


A rather ludicrous, melodramatic and bloody ending to a book that doesn't really deserve one. I won't spoil it for you if you're planning to read it,

Time for closure on this one. A late twentieth Century Bildungsroman essentially with plenty of digression into excessive drug taking, what it must have been like to be a struggling music journalist in the nineteen eighties and trying to cop off with barely sane junkie femme fatale. It's a reasonably written book. Hoskyns is a good writer. But it's all rather seedy and uncritical of slightly wanton and directionless behaviour for my liking. And frankly the ending doesn't work.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 422 Soundgarden - Louder Than Love


When it comes to Soungarden, and I have the greatest respect for that band, I'm strictly a Superunknown man. With some bands, one album is enough,I bought it when it came out in 1992.On CD. I still think about it as my first CD.  I was in Dortmund, Germany and was making some of the best and most enduring friendships of my lifetime. Just thinking about them transports me back to a time and place and the company of people I loved and still love.

I started going round to a friend's on Friday afternoons to visit one of these people, a guy named Matt and listen to records, drink bottles of Veltins, smoke cigarettes and slightly stronger stuff and talk nonsense. 

It was the height of Grunge and Matt was sold on the whole thing. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Plaid shirts. He grew his hair and tied it in a thick pony tail. He looked like a Home Counties Tonto. He used to play me Rusty Cage from Louder Than Love  and it was so tooth rattlingly shrill and full on that I'd ask him to take it off before it got to the end.

We actually saw the band play a year or so later. At a club in Dortmund called ... yes Soundgarden. They were fantastic. I miss those days but not enough to listen to Louder Than Love today to hear if I missed anything. Matt died about seven years again in painful circumstances in Leiden, Holland. His death still upsets me if I focus on it too much so I prefer not to . Some friends are irreplaceable.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 566 Platikman - Consumed


I knew nothing about Plastikman apart from the name this morning. I put Consumed on as the light began to gather outside the window, I ecied fairly quickly it was repetitive techno thing from the late Eighties, I got bored, went back to listening to Japan's Tin Drum which I'd briken off listening to to give it a try. I may not have done Consumed justice but I'll never know.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,979 Japan - Tin Drum


Now we're talking. Why on earth is this only ranked as the 1,979th best record ever made ?!? It makes me cross with the mania of lists and comparisons that in many ways seem to have taken over Pop thinking. Yes, I know. I'm aware I'm posting them myself on a daily basis myself on here..I still find myself getting cross though. Given that I'd say it's far, far better than Dark Side Of the Moon which some thouands of misbegotten and mistaken souls have foisted to Number 2 in this self-same chart.

I'd much rather listen to this. Any day of the week. And then move on to Gentlemen Take Polaroids And not just because listening to it takes me back to when I was seventeen and reasonably presentable myself. I bought and played this landmark record half to death. What's so great and timeless about this? First of all the members of Japan were so cool. They made you want to dress and look like them and hang around with them at the edge of arty parties, (the first track here), chatting about Rilke and Dadaism.

As for the subject matter itself. A bunch of wallflowers and effete poseurs jet off to Chiang Kai Shek's China in the Forties intent on joining Mao's Long March and sitting around eating bowls of rice posing meaningfully while Reuters photographers snapped away for posterity . Careful lads, you'll smudge your make up and get your silk blouses dirty. Japan's conceit was ridiculous but also perfect. A wonderful record pure and simple. Art in action. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,688 The Veronicas


In many ways a slightly ridiculous Song(s) of the Day. But you're not going to get stone cold classics every time. You only need to look at photos of the band. A couple of impeccable dressed and impossibly tall female twins that are immaculately turned out and look like models on their way to a wedding ceremony. 

The picture on the record sleeve shows their impossibly long and perfect bare legs jutting out from under a sleek sports car. In this context the bare legs come across as vaguey tittilating. Both Veronicas are wearing high heels which seem slightly inappropriate shoewear for car repair .

This is The Veronicas, a duo that have met a certain critical and commercial success with previous releases. Their current release Gothic Summer places itself as Pop rather than Alternative in the marketplace and seems designed to entertain rather than stimulate deep thought. Songs are called things like Detox and Here To Dance. It seems reasonable to go into this not anticipating Seamus Heaney.

I got tired of the lack of depth a few tracks in. The repeated spewing out of buzzwords and assembly line melodies with little melodic or lyrical variation or attempt at soul of any description. I made it through four tracks . You may do better than me. 

I started longing for some depth and replaced this with The Jesus & Mary Chain's latest record. They're a band as prone to repetition as The Veronicas but I felt safer because the repetition was generated from my corner of the classroom and not the part of it where the cheerleaders park themselves.I'm sorry to be so shallow. But this record deserves it after a while. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Lonely Planet Boy by Barney Hoskyns # 6 Soft Cell


The novella goes where it was always going to. Sexual and narcotic abandon in a hotel room with Mina and Kip in bed together.Depending on your inclinations you're either enthralled, appalled or slightly bored. She's a pretty dreadful vamp frankly. Mina ends up checking in to a clinic. Kit comes back to the UK and files his list of favourite records for 1982. It's a list of junkies and hedonists.


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 423 Heaven 17- Penthouse & Pavement


A band named after an imaginary group in the novel Clockwork Orange. An album about a world that was changing forever with the arrival of the Eighties and naked corporate greed. The record smakes it sound better than it was actually like to experience. It foregrounded everything that was going to make Thatcherism and Reaganism such ghastly, destructive experiences. The album itself was beautiful as well as being on the button. 

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 565 Boards of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children


A fabulous, entrancing record. Not just one for elitist muso snobs. It's a 70 minute journey through
time and space that I find myself taking every six months. It makes you think. And appreciate the moment. The purpose of being alive after all. It's a record that defies categorisation. Put a pair of headphones on and experience this. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,980 Joe Jackson - Night & Day


I seem to have been listening to rather a lot of Joe Jackson albums recently. Either through these various rundowns or because I've found cheap copies of his back catalogue in record shops in town. 

1982's Night & Day in many ways was the cilmination of his early journey. It's a classy, polished record. Closer to Irving Berlin than Portsmouth where Jackson grew up. It sold extremely well in the States.It's well worth listening to.  The lyrics and arrangements are a joy,

Song(s) of the Day # 3,687 Newmoon


In the Book Club I attend we had an interesting discussion last month. The book selected was a long novel by a well known and celebrated Edwardian novelist who has gone out of favour in recent years. It was a well written book but my main criticism was that nothing of any import at all seemed to actially happen in it.. A conversation then ensued whether that was necessary in a novel to make it worth reading.

I had similar thoughts about reocrds this morning listening to Newmoon's latest album Temporary Light. It has a picture if clouds in the sky on the front cover. They look rather like the ones that Turner used to paint. The record itself is spectacularly uneventually. Glacial guitars and wan, absent vocals, all rather reminiscent of spendinga n afternoon in your back garden in a deck chair, watching the paint on the garden shed you've just painted dry.

Temporary Light is a well assemble piece of music. It's pretty in the way that Eyeless In Gaza ir Durutti Column records are pretty. Unfortunately it's not remotely as arreasting as either of those things can be. I won't be listening to it again.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Revolutionary Spirit - Paul Simpson - # 11 Marvin Gaye


This is not a bad book. Far from it. It's excellent. One of the best set of memoirs of a musician you could ever wish to read. Most interestingly a musician who never had an actual hit. Apart from Care's Flaming Sword which made the Top 50 briefly in 1983.

But no Killing Moon. No Lucky You. No Reward. Paul is happy with his lot and this book is probably the thing he'll be most proud of. And deservedly so. It's something to be really proud of. In the words of Bill Drummond one of the main characters in the book;' it 'Reads like a Penguin Modern Classic. And not in a Morrissey way, but a proper way.

Revoutonary Spirit draws to a close. I have 17 pages left and will finish tomorrow. In the meantime you get Marvin Gaye.


Rosali - Bite Down


There are no end of fantastic new records being released at the moment and coming down the pike in the coming weeks and months. It's a welcome refuge from the heinous state of the world outside our windows. I don't shy away from political comment.  But I'm inclined to choose my company and conversations these days. I don't care to waste my breath, Cause agitation to others or invite it upon myself.

As an alternative to such wasted endeavour, you might choose to spend some time with Rosali. She's a  North Carolina based singer songwriter. Her new album Bite Down has just been released and in short I think it's excellent. 

Rosali is probably an Americana artist if you want to file herself somewhere in the Record Shop you no doubt have located somehwere in your head.  Bite Down is further testimony to her fantastic gifts.

She's an artist who generally deals in aesthetic pastoral loveliness. In the way that Monet did for much of his artistic career. If you're after musical comparisons, some of her songs sound not unlike Christine and Stevie harmonising together. The Weather Station or Joan Shelley if they were more inclined to rock out and let their hair down.

Anyway the record is further evidence that she's an artist worth investing your time in. And making an effort to go out and see her live is she happens to play a venue near you. I have a good friend who loves her truly and should really write his own testimony. Mine is brief. This is great. Maybe he'd care to expand. 

The Lonely Planet Boy by Barney Hoskyns # 5 Black Sabbath


        'On the flight to New York Kip drank a bloody Mary and felt a kind of wild elation.'

A first trip to the Big Apple. A sure sign that a European band is 'making it.'Mina has sacked her band and taken up with a new one; The Sacred Monsters of Desire. You get another Kip review, this time a live one of them playing at a venie called The Ritz. Hoskyns naturally is a dab hand at these. Then the Sacred Monsters move off into the heartlands.

Before they do so Kip goes up to Mina's room and talks to her with a further article in mind while she shoots up on her bed. There's a desparation and disolution about these scenes but she looks great at the photoshoot at the scrapyard round the corner from the hotel half an hour later. She stands on the roof of a burnt out chevrolet. Kip writes it all up for an 'On The Road' article for the magazine he writes for. He starts rabbitting on about Plato's Republic in it  Those were the days.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 426 Slayer - Reign In Blood


Slayer's third album. Released in 1986. That is as far as I can go. I know my limitations. As a listener and as a reviewer.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 564 The Handsome Family - Through The Trees


                                                     'Reading Moby Dick. On the other bed...'

 I don't consider myself an absolute aficionado of Americana. Though I do love a lot of the Americana I hear. It's a trek into a landscape I'll never fully experience myself. Looking for Lewis and Clark.

The Handsome Family are one of the absolute titans of this genre. Through The Trees is probably a good a place to start as anywhere. You couldn't ask for better scouts.This seemed to be a record deeply predicated by love. I'm always looking for those. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,981 Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie - Bird & Diz


Released in 1952. The meeting of two talents that, if you were inclined to such descriptions might be tempted to call geniuses. I wondered before I started this morning whether it might be slightly frantic for early morning appreciation first thing and so it proved with opener Salt Peanuts. It's impossibly busy. This is what I often find with Be Bop. I'll give it a listen later in the day. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,686 R. E. Seraphin


I like a record where I don't form an instant impression or set of categories to slot something into immediately. File it away. ,So I had some fun with this yesterday an I'm pretty sure I'll play it again plenty. R. E. Seraphin Fool's Mate.

First of all the artist's name gets a thumbs up. I like initial use, it provides mystery, and the surname is interesting, if slightly improbable. Then the record. It doesn't immediately sound like Joy Division, Sleaford Mods, Pavement, Prince, Can, Stereolab, C86 bands. or any of the standard candidates. 

R. E. , if he sounds like anyone vocally sounds a bit like Kurt Ralske. Leader of Ultra Vivid Scene, pale Velvet Underground devotees, who made a few wan, melodic records for 4AD in the late Eighties..One of the weakest Pop vocalists you're ever likely to hear. I loved Ultra Vivid Scene, so I'm up for this. Straight away. 

Fool's Mate is a fascinating record. It's Power Pop I suppose. But it doesn't sound remotely like The Beatles or The Byrds. Or for that matter Big Star, Raspberries, Big Star or Cheap Trick. 

R. E. Seraphin comes across as a fascinating fellow judging by a listen to this. I get the impression he might be an interesting fellow to spend a few hours with at a dimly lit bar on the lower East Side one Sunday afternoon. Laughing slyly at subtle humour together. Downing cocktails with odd combinations of ingredients. Discussing the greatness of The Only Ones, The Shoes or dBs. 

So just my kind of record in short. One that doesn't conform to expectations and keeps you listening. This seems like a second album following 2020's Tiny Shapes. He's clearly one to keep an eye out for. I wish more artists would conduct themselves like this. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Lonely Planet Boy by Barney Hoskyns # 4 Roxy Music


The word gets out about Mina. Her star begins to ascend..Kip travels to Liverpool with a photographer where she's playing a date to get an interview. Mina is in a foul, confrontational mood. After the soundchecks, where she shuts up a mouthy Scouse support band in raincoats who are giving her lip, they ascend to an upstairs room of the venue to conduct the interview.

Mina outlines her philosophy. Every band worth their salt in the early Eighties had a philosophy. It's what made the music papers such a fascinating read at the time. Mina and her band are trying to get away from the 'romantic lie' at the heart of the Pop song. Therefore they dress in black and draw on a certain traition of dark intrigue. Another cliche really. 

Mina has 'chosen drugs'. Yet another cliche, She becomes defensive when Kip brings it up which probably implies it's a problem. She performs a partial strip during her set in the evening. Down to stockings and suspenders.

Kip returns to London and writes up the piece feeling like he's been entrusted to spread 'the word of some new prophet.' He's trying to attach himself to her ascendinsion. He also hopes he'll get to sleep with her. His article has a chance of appearing on the cover of the next issue of, erm Cover the Pop weekly he writes for.

The book has found its momentum and voice. The way women are depicted and discussed by the male characters remains depressing. Essentially as sex objects whch is utimately reductive and controlling. But still. Some flow has been established. It looks like we're off to America next.

Steely Dan - Their Thirty Greatest Songs # 1 Reelin' In The Years


Well I've had a blast with this rundown over the last month. Discovery and rediscovery of what makes Steely Dan such an incredibly exciting an rewarding band. There's a multitude to explore in individual tracks.

We end up with Pop Boogie. Celebration essntially. This is a good song to top the list. It's Steely Dan at their most joyous and playful. Technically it's probably a bit of a mess. But who cares about things like this.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 425 Nirvana - Bleach


There are of course those who will maintain that Bleach is better than Nevermind. Or In Utero ineed. Leave them to it. It's certainly a blast.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 563 Kelly Joe Phelps - Roll Away The Stone


An artist and record I don't know. A Jazz bassist in Portland and Seattle who began to explore Modern Blues in albums like this. He has a wonderful, disembodied voice and the record is spare and haunting, I enjoyed the first track and carried on listening. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,982 Billy Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Avenue


Accoring to legend Billy and Jeff fell out badly during the making of this. Who cares about that though when the record they and the other Wilco guys produced during their collaboration is as delightful as this. An exploration of the world of Woody Guthrie. Can you really suggest a better way to spend your Saturday morning. The first time I'd ever listened yo the album for me. Not the last.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,685 Outer World


I'm going through an exciting period of my life work wise right now. Setting forth on a new and exciting sea workwise, and it's bearing fruit early, every day things happen which are invigorating and motivating and I can't wait to discover what may be behind the next bend.

Music provides an ever changing backdrop to my days. Friday's are fun. I had an online lesson to preparefor at midday yesterday. Apart from that it was a matter of scanning and sampling new releases from the published playlists and other blogs reviews. 

I pulled out another plum Who Does The Music Love the latest from Outer Worlds. In the words of their fantastic press release on HHBTM 'Who wouldn't Want a Break from Planet Earth After The Past Few Years The World Had.'

Precisely. Here's a record that begins the escape tunnel. Made by Kenneth Close and Tracy Wilson using a computer, samples, synths and plugins. Together they map out a fantastic, futuristic terrain. Dee Lite meets Motorik rhythms, meets Broadcast, meets Breeders, meets Jane Weaver on the set of a wonderful Sixties Sci Fi film set. A movie starring Jane Fonda or Raquel Welch.That's my attempt at description. But it's only the beginning of the story. 

That might give you some idea anyhow. But basically its best if you explore Who Does The Music Love for yourself. It's a short album. Seven tracks, less than twenty five minutes. But you wouldn't know it. There's a galaxy of sensation here. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.