Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Hello , Hello I'm Back Again

No , sorry to disappoint you but this is not going to be a Gary Glitter post ! As you may remember yesterday we mentioned Steve Lillywhite whose CV includes production duties for Ultavox , Psychedelic Furs , Eddie & the Hot Rods , XTC and Morrissey amongst others , rather a shame really that he went on to work with Dave Mathews and Phish , still they do say that Beethoven was deaf ! For me some of his best and most sympathetic work was with his then wife Kirsty MacColl , who was sadly killed by an idiot piloting a power boat in December 2000 whilst swimming off the Mexican coast . I've just heard that the Mexican government have promised justice , after Bono dedicated 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for' to Kirsty during a concert in the Mexican city of Monterrey , just goes to show how useful it can be to have rich and powerful friends .
Her second LP 'Kite' , for me her best and the first to be produced by Lillywhite was released to the non appreciative masses in 1989 . A very mature and varied set of songs , it included the excellent 'Don't come the cowboy with me sunny Jim' a country style lament with witty lyrics concerning her hope for the future of her relationship with a somewhat typical son of a bitch - in fact in terms of subject mater not that far removed from 'Fairy tale in New York' . The LP also boasted a version of the Ray Davis 'Days' , managing to make the song her very own .
This was not her first outing on vinyl , as it was back in those days , in 1981 she scored a novelty hit with 'there's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis' , great title , disposable song .
It was in 1984 that I started to take more notice of her when Stiff Records released what for some , but not for me was the definitive version of 'New England' . Kirsty would later claim that recording the song was like having access to an unrelated Beatles song ! Despite the fact that people in industry thought she was mad , it was to be her biggest chart success .
Footnote concerning Kirsty while she was singing back up vocals in the Lillywhite produced Stones 'Dirty work' album she profited from the services of Keith Richard as guitar teacher , not bad !
recommended Purchase : 'From Croydon to Cuba ...... an anthology' a very reasonably priced 3 CD set released in 2005 and covering the whole of her career , includes the 2 mp3s posted , Still available , so no excuses .

This brings us nicely round to Billy Bragg , aka the bard of Barking or as I saw some where on the web recently the barking bard , maybe this was a joke or our American friend does not know where Barking is , answers on a postcard please ............Of course Barking is Billy's home town or rather the suburb of London where he was born . And I hope I don't need to tell you that it was indeed Billy that wrote 'A new England' , a tune that appeared on his 1983 debut mini album 'Life's a riot with spy vs spy' . I can remember my first exposure to him came from a late night John Peel show , I quickly bought the record and have been a fan ever since . The first of many occasions that I was to see him was almost on his , and my own home turf , a gig at the old Ilford Town Hall , I can remember that we were rather sparse in the hall but a great gig all the same with the one man Clash on stage with his guitar and amp , and that great play anywhere punk attitude . One of the highlights , was a song that was to be come a rarity 'A13 trunk road to the sea' Billy's great re-writing of 'Route 66' for his home grown Essex audience . A song that became a live favorite in the early years . Despite being recorded at least twice , once for John Peel and also during the 'Life's a riot' sessions , the song was to remain hard to come by on disc as only the Peel version received limited release . Billy was to be no stranger to cover versions , another rarity was to turn up as one of the extra song on the 1992 CD single 'Accident waiting to happen' , a live version of the Beatles 'Revolution' recorded I believe at the London Town & Country Club , November 1991 with his then backing band the Red Stars. A song that when you think could almost have been tailor written for him .
So what better way to celebrate the early part of his career than the soon to be released box set 'Vol 1' sadly lacking in imagination for someone that has displayed such passion , anger and wit in his music . the said treasure comprises of 7 CDs packed with rarities , and 2 DVDs , more info and ordering a copy signed by the great man here .Looks like one of this years highlights already and very reasonably priced at around £35 sterling .
To celebrate this release Billy we be out on tour details here , but being the good chap that he is the tour goes under the banner 'Hope Not Hate' , still preaching the good message. Sadly there will be no gigs in France , How about Montpellier , though interestingly he will be playing for the first time for many years (?) in his home suburb of Barking , fittingly enough a May day gig . SOLD OUT .

Kirsty MacColl, a sad story indeed, I was for sure disgusted by the press indifference, only a few lines to say she was dead in Mexico while swimming.

Voilà que c'est mieux comme ça patron, on peut au moins se promener ici et laisser une petite trace.

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