Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Eleventh Dream Day
In the late eighties along with my untreated addiction to NME I was also a voracious consumer of the music press in general and had a particular penchant for those titles that dealt with more obscure music and it was by flicking through their pages that I made many a discovery. One of these was made while reading the underground leaning Bucketful Of Brains
, which despite periods of activity is still a going concern today, the band was Eleventh Dream Day, I guess the article must date from 1990/1991 as I can remember the journalist being very excited at having got his hands on copy of a promo only live LP entitled 'Borscht'. As was often the case with discovering new artists in the written press back then if you wanted to actually hear the music you had to fork out to buy the record, whereas today you are spoilt by the zillions of music blogs promoting their favorites and thus giving you an all important taste before lashing out. So it was that Eleventh Dream Day ended up on that long mental list I had of records to buy and sure enough the day arrived when I found a copy of their debut album 'Prairie School Freakout' in a bargain bin and so it was that I became the proud owner. Basically a live in the studio offering recorded in 6 hours with a buzzing amp and displaying plenty of energy and attitude for these real songs played on loud guitars. If this reminds you of Neil Young and Crazy Horse that is only normal a Rick Renzo had taught himself to play guitar by listening to 'Zuma'. So there is plenty of interest here for Young fans a the two guitarists riff it out above the solid rhythm section, of particular note is 'Beach Miner'
a highly infectious number with Television style guitar over a Crazy Horse rhythm. The interest created by the album led to a contract with Atlantic, which the band failed to capitalise on and after just three albums for the major were dropped in 1993 because their critical acclaim was never picked up upon by the record buying public.
Rizzo and drummer Janet Beveridge Bean were a couple and took some time off to look after their newborn child. 1994 saw the release of 'Ursa Major' for US indie City Slang
and the band starting to be interested in a more textured sound as the guitars became less evident. Another period of inactivity was to follow with Rizzo returning to college, he is now a teacher, and Bean focusing her energy on Freakwater
. 1997 saw them reconvening to record 'Eighth' which was infact their sixth studio album for Chicago indie Thrill Jockey that remains their home to this day. By now the band had become a part time affair, with the occasional concert in their Chicago hometown and visits to the studio becoming rarer and rarer. 2000 saw 'Stalled Parade' a fine album following on from the previous two but not really what I thought they did best, which is US indie guitar rock. So it was a very pleasant surprise for me to here their latest offering 'Zeroes And Ones' and to discover that it is a return to the early days with a beefed up sound. The album has been on heavy rotation here for the last few weeks and personal fave at the moment is 'For Martha'
, a song that fools you with it's 5 second Phil Spector wall of sound drum intro before the distorted guitars come crashing in and it's off on a four minute spin with twin male/female vocals culminating in a highly caustic guitar solo. I reckon 'Zeroes And Ones' is their best album yet an amazing feat when you consider this is not even their day job This essential album can be bought from Thrill Jockey
or downloaded from EMusic
, one never knows if enough of us buy it maybe they'll tour or get back in studio before 2012!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding
Answers on a post card to..................... but seriously this has been a song that I have liked ever since I first heard the original by Brinsley Schwartz, and what with having discovered a new cover version this week and with festival season being almost upon us again I thought why not. Brinsley Schwartz purveyors of UK pub rock in the seventies, they were probably one of the bands from this movement that could have made it. The blame is often laid at the feet of the band's manager, Dave Robinson, later to be one of the founders of Stiff Records. Looking for an idea to grab media attention for the band, he arranged to fly a plane load of journalists out to the States to see them opening for Van Morrison at the Fillmore East it was also to be their very first US gig. Just about everything possible went wrong which led to the band playing an underwhelming concert in front of short tempered journalists, the result was swift and without mercy; bad reviews followed by the nightmare of very little media exposure. After this the band were to live a semi-recluse communal existence dedicating their time to playing music and so becoming one of the tightest bands in the country. Having 6 albums to their credit the inevitable happened in spring 1975 and the band split, their final album 'The New Favorites of' contained the song
that at the time seemed like a bittersweet elegy to the fading hippie era. Those of you that do not believe how tight the band were should check out 'The Parkerilla' the live album by Graham Parker
& the Rumour, his then backing band of which the Brinsleys formed the back bone, one of the live albums that actually lives up to its promise. The song itself had been composed by the pen of Nick Lowe
, author to be of one of my all time favorite couplets (I hear they castrated Castro / What a terrible thing to do, from 'Nutted By Reality'), who was to go on to greater things both as a producer and a solo artist.
Nick Lowe was to share in the early success accorded to Elvis Costello
being producer of his first albums, and as such it should come as not surprise that EC recorded his own version of '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding'
, what was more surprising was the fact that such a vital cover was originally to be hidden on the b side of a Nick Lowe single and credited to Nick Lowe and His Sound. This situation was soon to be remedied with song being included as the closing track on EC's US version of 'Armed Forces', Costellos interpretation shrugged off the songs hippies veneer as he transformed the song into an urgent call for sanity in a world dominated by out of control superpowers.
The third version
and indeed the inspiration for today came hidden as one of the filler tracks on the Coal Porters
first ever single from 2005, and to boot is a live blue grass interpretation. Now some of you are probably thinking the Coal who and the only thing I can say is shame on you. Formed 16 years ago by Sid Griffin, ex member of the Long Ryders one of the bands credited with laying the ground work for alternative country and respected contributor to Mojo, the early version of the band was electric and carried on in much the same vein as his previous band. As a result of having been involved with Lindisfarne, Griffin embraced acoustic music, bought himself a mandolin and rediscovered his American roots and the Coal Porters became one of the finest blue grass bands to found in the world today. Those of you that have enjoyed the Coal Porters version should check out this page
where the is a live 'My Generation' by the Coal Porters and a live 'Teenage Kicks' by the reformed Long Ryders up for grabs.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Peel Sessions 9
A quick one today as it's hot and I've got far too many things to do, my tax declaration, watering the garden and sorting out a trip to Barcelona this week-end is only the start of a very long list. Anyway maybe was the talk of those interviews from way back that did it but I've been on a bit of a Wedding Present bender these last two days, not such a bad thing really. My memory of David Gedge is a very good one, I met him one when he was touring the single a month album and I seem to remember the man as very school teacherish right down to his glasses, which he does not wear on stage nor for publicity photos, vanity maybe? Regardless, the short time I spent with him I found him to be a charming intelligent thought provoking man, not something that can be said about all rockstars. David Gedge was a personal friend of John Peel and a firm favorite for his shows up there with Mark E Smiths Fall, the Weddoes recorded 9 sessions during their first lease of life. As everyone knows when the Wedding Present came to an end Gedge formed his chamber pop collective Cinerama who went on to grace the BBC studios eight times for the Peel show. Today's first track comes from their debut session as first aired June 1988 'Maniac'
is a version of a song that appear on their debut album 'Va Va Voom'. The following year saw the band now road tested returning to Maida Vale Studios to lay down another four tracks including their take of the Turtles 'Elenore'
complete with strings. I've always liked it and it is a nice song and so thoughtfully covered that it gets you in the mood for the hot weather that is on its way.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Something For The Week End
This is the first and only photo you'll get to see of me on this blog, the date it was I taken I'm not quite sure of, what I do know is it is from the first half of the nineties, and is of me doing my best Stevie Wonder impression during my radio show. And the reason for the photo? Being the resident English jock on the station I often got the job of interviewing touring bands, this included such names as Thom Yorke, Jarvis Cocker, Poison Ivy, Neil Hannon, Bret Anderson, Martin Carr, Pete Shelley, David Gedge, Nina Persson, Brian Molko, Sheryl Crow and the list continues...............Now if any of you have ever conducted an interview you will know full well that it's success depends on many different factors which are influenced by both parties for example an interviewer who does not know his subject matter or for that case does not have much sympathy for them, or the out right fan bordering on stalker both of these examples are a recipe for disaster. One must remember that touring bands are called upon to give interviews on numerous occasions everyday and will often be subjected to the same list of questions so when you are working for a small provincial radio station the motivation is not always 100%. Now one of the interviews that always stuck with me was that with Roddy Bottum, probably the best ever name for a gay keyboard player, from Faith No More
who were due to play our humble 1000 person hall that night. Now I would not consider myself an expert on the group despite having played 'Epic'
to death a few years earlier, I can remember that this was when record companies were still sending out vinyl and so much had our copy been played that it became unplayable ands so we bought a new copy, a hit! Like many others I was quite taken by their mix of rap and rock but my knowledge and interest really went no further. So I was not expecting much from the interview, chance was I also had a hangover, the result was an hour or so spent in the company of a highly entertaining man who had to be dragged from the interview by the tour manager for the soundcheck, while I was off to edit the interview. The gig was great it was was one of those where a band used to playing large venues plays in a small intimate hall and is sold out well in advance, which tends to lend itself to a very electric atmosphere, and I can assure you the evening was hot. The band disintegrated by the end of the decade but not before another hit with the live favorite 'Easy'
which on disc was a rather turned out to be a rather straight cover of the Commodores old hit, still it does prove that rockers can be crooners.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Back in the days when London Buses were always red routemasters, when you could smoke on the tube, when CCTV still only existed in Orwellian fiction, as punk gave way to new wave there was a skinny stick insect like man who you would bump into at gigs looking slightly out of place in his black two piece suit, shades and that hairdo, he always seemed to have a carrier bag at the end of his long arms. When seeing him for the first time you would have been forgiven for wondering whose father he was, and what the hell was he hiding in that carrier bag. Long before the headline band took the stage all would be revealed it was none other than John Cooper Clarke, Britain, the worlds, no the universe's first and greatest punk poet, who was opening that night.
He had been around for a good few years before his surrealist verse found a welcome home with this younger new audience. A native of Salford, one of Manchester's more working class suburbs, legend has it that his first poem was written as a response to the spectacle of seeing/hearing a Catholic priest farting while celebrating mass, truly the stuff that legends are made from! Having been taken with Dylan, his later look owes much to the radical folkie circa 1966, he took up the musical option and played bass in obscure local psychedelic band as the sixties drew to a close. During the early seventies he started out on his own as a poet, obviously he had no desire to be a star, it was during this period that he started appearing under the name of John Cooper Clarke, to avoid confusion with another poet called John Clarke who was playing the circuit at the same time. He went along to see the Sex Pistols at their first Manchester gig that was organised by the Buzzcocks and liked what he saw so much that he hitched a ride and ended up playing support to the Buzzcocks at London's Vortex club, rival to the better known Roxy club. He latter claimed that he was doing similar poetry when playing jazz clubs but punk gave him more exciting gigs. He released a debut 3 track EP of his poetry with musical backing on Manchester's punk label Rabid. 'Innocents'
(citizens arrest / you've got to give Joe Public his cream / murder is a powerful picture / it's food for the famished masses), was one of the three songs and quickly found favour with John Peel and the London based music press. This newfound media interest in poetry led to him being snapped up by CBS. Now Poetry might be fine on paper but his label needed some music to help sell it and so JCC recruited the help of up and coming Manchester producer wizz kid Martin Hannett as producer and band leader, the result was three rather mixed LP's of his poetry backed by what was at that time rather radical electronic music, 'Disguise in Love' (1978), Snap Crackle & Bop' (1980) and 'Zip Style Method' (1982), this unholy alliance also gave us the excellent live 10" EP in 1979 called 'Walking Back to Happiness'. Despite his popularity on the gig circuit he was unable to sell in the large quantities that a major requires, for such a marginal artist it is almost a miracle that his first two albums are still available along with a compilation and a rather rough live and demo's LP from 1978 on Rabid 'Ou Est la Maison De Fromage'. During the eighties he very much disappeared from view, a heroin addiction, a long term relationship with Nico, the nineties were maybe a little kinder he had kicked his habit and fathered a child with his French partner and found himself living in Colchester. He has even played the opening spot again on a recent UK tour by fellow Manchester outsiders the Fall. He still writes poetry but it is of more sinister nature and so would not go down well in the sort of places he likes to play and so his recent set has been very similar to those of 1978, but sadly his live outing seem to be only to rare.
If you ever get the chance to see him do treat yourself as I can confirm his reputation on stage, and this is how I prefer him, looking so much as he did like an older Joey Ramone, spattering out his rapid fire social commentary, both comical and intelligent and all of this in his thick Mancunian accent. I will leave you
with three of his poems as recorded live and so without a band.
(you're like a dose of scabies / I've got you under my skin / You make life a fairy tale ......... Grimm!)
3. 'Beasley Street'
(the boy are on the wagon / the girls are on the shelf / there common problem is / that they're not someone else).
For those of you discovering JCC for the first time do buy the CDs while they are still available and you never know if he sells enough maybe he'll get his act together enough to record a new one. To me it is almost criminal but there is no published book of his poems though most of them you can find here
. And if anybody out there could provide me with a copy of 'Walking Back To Happiness' on CD or MP3 format I'd be eternally grateful.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Handsome looking bunch, aren't they? Bobby Gillespie's merry band of party goers, hell raisers and part time music makers are not the most prolific of bands, eight albums since 1987 including the soon to be released 'Riot City Blues' and excluding 1997's 'Echo Dek' despite its obvious merits it being a remix album by Adrian Sherwood. Of the seven albums to date I own five so I guess I could be called a fan.
Bobby was the original stand up drummer for the Reid brothers in Jesus & Mary Chain, legend has is that despite being allowed to wear his ever present leather pants on stage his ego demanded that he was more front of stage. So it was that he formed Primal Scream in the mid eighties, almost as far removed from the noise terrorist approach of JAMC as it was possible to be with their jangly pop. He managed to hold down his place in both bands but as they were both on the an upwards curve the Reids insisted that he make a choice, and so the Scream became his full time employment. The title of their first album 'Sonic Flower Power' and the sixties Byrds feel of the album cover says all you need to know about the music within it. The title 'Velocity Girl' was one of the featured tracks on the NME's notorious c86 cassette, though it must be said that this environment was not their natural home. Through out his career Gillespie has proven himself to be a musical chameleon, changing musical styles as easy as some of us change our socks, and so it was that for their second and self titled album in 1889, they took a the rock god route. Again the visual image they presented was very close to the New York Dolls and MC5 influenced garage rock they were now producing.
It would take their third album the 1992 Mercury prize winning 'Sceamadelica' before they achieved the fame that Gillespie so obviously craved. The end of the eighties in the UK heralded the blooming underground (acid) house scene, and Bobby having discovered something between D and F became fascinated by this new dance music and the possibilities it offered and saw this a way forward for the band. Recruiting the services of a friend, Andrew Weatherall, the track 'I'm Losing You More Than I'll Ever Have' from the second album was remixed. So radical was the treatment it underwent that the finished product was a totally new song and so it became 'Loaded', and as they say the rest is history. Now not having been convinced myself at the time by the acid house scene, there were certain aspects of the album that did not go down to well with me, if it were not for the more classic rock songs on 'Sreamadelica' I probably would never have given it a second listen, and thank heaven that I did as 15 years down the line the album has become a well merited family favorite mixing so successfully as it does elements of dub, pop, techno and rock. A track that did not feature on the album despite deserving to do so was the B side of 12" version of 'Movin' On Up', here is a remixed version of 'Sceamadelica'
as revisited by Go Home Productions
As is very much their nature the next album was a change in direction and again the album cover gave it all away the band had a new obsession with southern (US) rock! Now part of the trouble with 'Give Out But Don't Give Up' is that a) it's too long (a sad truth is that in this CD age artists seem to feel obliged to fill the medium and well sometimes 70 minutes is just too much, I can remember vinyl when we were lucky to get 40 minutes) and b) it does not really benefit from the collaboration on certain tracks with drug buddy George Clinton who was by this stage well passed his sell by date. Now having said this I flooded the local airwaves with 'Rocks' at the time and the album contained several Stones style ballads along the lines of 'Wild Horses', for which we are all suckers, aren't we? Here is a live version of the albums opener 'Jailbird'
as recorded in Japan July 1994.
The two albums that follow also have their place in my collection, though let's just say that they are not on high rotation. Both of them received glowing reviews praising them for their musical innovation and risk taking the only problem was they just didn't get my feet moving, very much a case of them working on an intellectual level but not on a gut level which after all is what the Scream are all about, raw emotions. Then a few weeks ago I was watching some UK gangster film maybe 'Layer Cake', I'm not quite sure, anyway 'Swastika Eyes'
from 2000's 'XTRMNTR' had pride of place in the films soundtrack and suddenly everything fell in place and the song started making sense. The film was ok but I'll probably only watch it the once but thanks to it I've rediscovered a lost album.
Don't forget 5 June is the scheduled release date for 'Riot City Blues' which will of course be available from all good record shops and web sites. The word out is that it is again a return to a more classic rock environment, anyway as usual I guess it will be well worth a listen. The band would appear to no longer liking touring as their date
sheet is rather empty, next on a short list being Paris Olympia 2 July, only wish I could make it there.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I must admit that I don't read the NME anymore, haven't done so for years although I do visit their web site, in fact the last time I bought a copy was only because of their Joe Strummer death story cover/tribute which is now framed and has it's own place in my hallway. The reason behind me mentioning the NME is that there was a time when it was very much a crucial read, many a young lad has had his musical tastes formed in part by flicking through their inky pages and lapping up the words of the current journalist in vogue as if they were the sacred scribes. The publication has a long history of producing compilations be it as today on CD or as it was back in my youth on cassette, it was indeed on one of these that I first discovered the full majestic force of the Triffids, in many ways the only real competition that Nick Cave had back home. Now don't get me wrong there are many great Australian bands that we will explore together at a later date, but the Triffids were something else, their music was a gothic ride through the Australian bush. Their greatest album 'Born Sandy Devotional' is maybe one of the best records ever made for hitting the road with, as it conjures up images of desolate open landscapes, in much the same way that Ry Cooder succeeded so well in his soundtrack for 'Paris Texas'. Now I am just a little bit peeved here as I was planning a full on post for the band to celebrate the up and coming re-release of the said album in an expanded 2CD version by Domino
on 12 June. Then what did I discover, I had been beaten to it, now normally this would not stop me doing my own, but in this case the post, being on the Australian blog Something Old Something New which originates from Perth home town to the band, was of such a high quality that here's the link
. Do get over there and read it for yourselves, there are also plenty of mp3's to help illustrate. One song that is not posted there is the albums closer 'Tender Is The Night (The Long Fidelity)'
, a very pleasing on the ear duet between the band leader David McComb's baritone and their keyboard player Jill Birt's childlike voice.
For those of you wishing to investigate further there is a Triffids web site
that as well as the story and the message board offer a whole load of mp3's from the band including an acoustic version of what for me rests their greatest song 'Wide Open Road' the very number that got me interested in the band all those years ago. Anyway start saving now as Domino will be releasing all of their albums over the forthcoming 18 months and who knows it might just turn out to be year of the Triffids this time around.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Peel Sessions 8
I have already talked about a gig I attended during the two years that I lived
in Italy, that of Killing Joke, well there was another (2 gigs in two years I really was spoilt!), they were called the Sound
, and at that time I was totally ignorant of their existence,but that was to soon change. The concert took place in a large village called Nove and was held in the local gym 16 February 1983. Starved as I was of live music I was really looking forward to it. If my memory serves me correctly there was quite a crowd. I can vaguely remember them taking the stage their intro music, and the slow atmospheric start of a song and then Adrian Borland's pleasant voice coming in and then wow! as the song reached its full power with Borland's voice becoming more and more powerful and his guitar playing more and manic I found myself being taken away with it. And so it was that I spent a highly pleasurable hour in their company and came away a fan. Sure enough the next day I was out buying up their records and catching up with lost Time.
They were another of the long list of contenders that never really quite made it, after all being big in Holland and Germany doesn't really count, does it? They were formed in 1979 out of the ashes of Roxy Club regulars the Outsiders but quickly dropped their punk baggage as they developed a sound that was somewhere between Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen. Signed to the same label as the Bunnymen, Korova, it would appear that they were to play second fiddle to their label mates as despite glowing press for their efforts the required sales figures were to remain elusive. Their debut album, 'Jeopardy', scored five star reviews in all the UK music press no mean feat considering the low budget production, it was more than obvious that we were talking about quality songs here. The follow up 'From The Lions Mouth' was much more lavish in production terms though this did nothing to harm the songs, once again the critics loved it and despite a growing cult following they still failed to shift the necessary units and their label made it clear that they expected hit singles. Maybe because of this pressure the band were to deliver in their third album 'All fall Down' what was to be their least penetrable recording, the reply from their label was equally radical: they refused to promote it and as a result the Sound found themselves without a deal. They were to release their remaining output on an independent, and by 1989 they had recorded their final album, that they and many of their fans would consider to be their finest moment, 'All Fall Down', the only problem was that it was very much a case of preaching to the converted as no one else was taking any notice and by the end of the year they were no more. Borland pursued a solo career until mental illness got the better of him in 1999 and he took his own life by throwing himself under a train.
Although John Peel was not their biggest champion, he did do his fair bit to promote them including their unique Peel session recorded in November 1981. Both of the songs here are to be found in their original version on that years 'From The Lions Mouth', first up the keyboard driven 'Skeletons'
which deserved a place in the upper reaches of the charts and the more moody though equally pleasing 'New Dark Age'
My biggest regret as far as the Sound are concerned is that I only got to see them live the once. They did release the live album 'From The Hothouse' which I found rather lacking maybe because by this stage the band were on their last legs. Those of you wishing to catch up on the band or simply refresh your memory will be for once spoilt for choice as Renascent have done an excellent job of re-releasing all of their albums.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Something For The Week End
It's Friday and I've finished working for the week, the temperature is looking up it's starting to to reach the 30° mark. So how about some hot music for the week-end? They call themselves the Bo Keys, they are from Memphis and they sure sound like it. Their combined pedigree puts lesser bands to shame, as these boys have backed real legends; Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner, Al Green, Mar Keys, Blues Brothers, Isaac Hayes, it was indeed their guitarist who was responsible for the wha wha introduction to 'Shaft'. Back in '98 they got together and recorded an album at the legendary Royal Studios, thus the unimaginative title 'Royal Sessions'. It is all to obvious that titles are the last thing on their mind as they are more pre occupied with cooking up an infectiouss groove as in the hey day of their heroes/colleaguess at Stax. True it's not the most original of records, but just close your eyes and imagine you're in some smokey club on Beale Street, as I'm sure on stage they really do set the house on fire. So two tracks for you to tap your feet to this week-end the latin flavoured funk soul of 'Spanish Delight'
and the Booker T meets Neville Brothers soul mumbo that is the albums closer 'Bling Bling'
. Those of you that don't appreciate the sound of a Hammond B3 should desist! I've just checked out on Amazon and the album is still available, so there's no excuse download, listen, like and buy.
So that's it for this week, I'll be back on Monday in the mean time I'll be listening to some music and trying to put some order in my garden.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Before I had the Job in a record shop, I worked an evening and week-end shift in a petrol station, very much a lonely and soul destroying occupation. The only positive side apart from pay day was that we had a little radio/cassette player and so we fetched in our own music to listen to, one of my colleagues had an older brother who was at university and as such he was exposed to more mature and obscure music that he was only too willing to share with me. And so it was that my acquaintance was made with reggae which was was still at this time very much an underground form of music. One of our favorite artists was the stepping razor himself Peter Tosh. Now I think a little moan is in order here as I find that reggae is very under represented on the blogs that I frequent, I know that there are some reggae blogs but I have never been one for musical segregation, being a child of '77 I can confirm that Rastas and Punk did walk hand in hand back then. There is a great debt owed by modern music to these Jamaican sound pioneers. Punk took it onboard after the Clash's rather clumsy at first attempts ('Police and Thieves') with the form, though I must admit their latter efforts (Armageddon Time') were much more convincing. Also the post punk movement was greatly influenced, just listen to the bass lines and the use of space as typified in dub.
Peter Tosh was of course along with Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston the original trio that formed the Wailers, Tosh a strong headed man had been in conflict with Marley for a number of years when things came to a head in 1975 and he quit. Having been quickly snapped up by Columbia he released his debut solo LP 'Legalise It' in 1976, his style was influenced by American rock while remaining true to his Kingston roots, what did set him apart from Marley was his more radical lyrical style. The second album from this deal was 'Equal Rights', 1977, which continued in much the same vein, these two albums are for me the most important work he put down on tape. What was to follow was to be for me a misguided move to the Rolling Stones record label, he had greatly impressed the band, and a direction where his musical roots were given over to a much more FM friendly rock sound, this did give him a certain degree of US chart success.
As everyone knows, Kingston is very much like the far west only with Rastas and ganga though they do have the guns. It was in September 1987 that along with six friends he was shot in his own home, Tosh, touched in the head was not to survive and so reggae lost a legend.
I recently saw a double CD, 'Talking Revolution', that couples his One Love concert appearance with acoustic (demos). Of particular interest are 'Get Up Stand Up'
which despite being often thought of a Marley song was indeed by Tosh, and his, and every other rasta's theme song 'Legalise It'
a song containing more than a pinch of humour. Now these songs where never intended for public consummation and may well sound a little rough in places but are well worthy of your time as are those first two solo albums.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
My prolonged professional experience in the music business had rather humble beginnings, whilst still at school I managed to get the coveted place of Saturday job in my local record shop, at that stage it was called Roylance, in Barkingside. The manager who later became a good friend was called John. He was a good few years older than me and had been around at the time of the summer of love, and during that period he had the reputation of being rather a wild man. Now John walked with a limp, and the reason for this was quite simple and almost unbelievable. While tripping on acid he had walked out of a first store window and had been lucky enough to only have got away with only broken limbs, and this he had done twice, I can never quite remember if it was the same window! Now the reason for this little piece of history is that a similar thing happened to Robert Wyatt
in in 1973. According to his bio it was while under the effects of alcohol that he exited from a third floor window and a party but for him the result was much more serious as it left him in a wheelchair. Now part of the reason for talking about Robert Wyatt is that it was his nimble fingers tickling the ivory on yesterdays 'Sweetest Girl', also I must confess to having rather a soft spot for the man and some of his music. Now let me explain, sometimes I feel quite guilty as there are some records that are widely considered to be classics but they do nothing at all for me, now one of these is 'Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard' great title, great sleeve but the music let's just say it goes over my head. Indeed up until his Eighties output the only thing that I even half liked of his was the tongue in cheek (?) surprise UK hit he had with a cover of the Monkeys 'I'm A Believer'. Between 1980 and 1984 Wyatt released seven singles for Rough Trade Records, the first five of which have been compiled as 'Nothing Can Stop Us' a title that maybe betrays his political alliance with the left wing. The first of the 45rpms was of all things in Spanish with b side being a beautiful cover version of 'Caimanera'
, somewhat out of step with things in 1980 but nevertheless it worked. His next single was his own take on Chic's 'At Last I Am Free', and this time he really did stamp his own mark on the song, with its almost dreamlike quality underlined by his frail voice it was almost enough to break my cynical heart. My Own personal favorite from his series of singles was 'Stalin Wasn't Stallin'
, a Barber Shop Quartet Accapela number that recounts with more than a degree of humour how Stalin whipped Adolf's arse. Now as this really is for me Wyatt's best period I can't resist a third song and again it's a cover version, but he does do them well, his almost straight run through of Elvis Costello's anti-Falklands song 'Shipbuilding'
, and despite all the respect that I have for Costello it is the Wyatt version that wins hands down, it's his voice that does it.
In the years tha
t followed he has continued to record this has included such well received albums as 'Dondestan' and 'Shleep', he even lent his voice to the track 'Submarine' on Bjork's 2004 album 'Medulla'. Though as far as I am concerned his golden age was with those Rough Trade singles.
Wyatt today, after having spent some years living in Spain, is now back in England and living in Lincolnshire, where he has his own recording studio in his bedroom, he records a little and paints as he pleases and dabbles in politics. As for my old friend John the last time I saw him he still enjoyed a pint of Guinness with the ever present joint in his hand and he no longer drops acid!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Looking back through my life there were two periods when music really meant something, when it was vibrant, when it was important, when it was dangerous. There were the early nineties and the period starting in 1976 and going through to the early eighties, notably post punk or whatever you want to call it. There are many artists from this period that have passed the test of time, not like the terribly synthetic, lost decade, the eighties, it would take to long to mention them and if you're too young, got a bad memory or were in prison you can always read Simon Reynold's book "Rip It Up And Start Again",
which does an excellent job in its 500+ pages.
Scritti Politti, who have become little more than vehicle for Welsh singer Songwriter Garth Gartside, are one of the many treasures from this period, growing out of London's then fertile underground culture. Gartside the bright underachiever at school managed to obtain a place at a provincial art college were he was to meet his co-founders of Scritti, they rapidly dropped out of school and headed for London. Inspired by the do it yourself ethic of punk and the Desperate Bicycles in particular they decided to learn how to play and formed Scritti Politti, which is a rough translation of political writings in Italian. This choice of name illustrates Gartsides interest in politics, from his teen years he sympathised with left wing groups, and philosophy. Three months was all it took them from their formation to the release of their self produced debut 45rpm 'Scank Bloc Bologna'
, the sound was experimental to say the least. Gartside's sweet vocals were laid over a backdrop characterised by its abrupt changes and rhythmic displacements making for a demanding but pleasurable listening experience. The first pressing of 2,500, which sold out, came complete with hand made sleeves, it was obvious that despite the experimental nature there was a demand and Rough Trade snapped them up and went on to sell over 15,000 copies. Aged only 23 Gartside suffered a heart attack rumoured to have been brought on by stage fright when supporting Gang Of Four and Joy Division, this led to him taking a year off. When he was to return
in 1981 it was with the sublime 'Sweetest Girl'
, a sound much more pop and accessible, but keeping his characteristic subversive edge, just look at the sleeve! Their following album 'Songs To Remember' made it to number 6 in the UK charts. After this success Gartside was the only original member remaining and decided that Rough Trade could not finance his musical ambitions and after much bidding from different labels signed up with Virgin. Hardly the most prolific of artists his major labels days yielded only three albums 'Cupid and Psyche' in 1985 which also housed his biggest international hits, 1988's 'Provision' and the very poorly received 'Anomie and Bohemie' in 1999.
2006 looks like it might be a good year Scritti Politti have returned to their spiritual home, Rough Trade, and have their fifth album in 25 years scheduled for a 5 June release. Entitled 'White Bread and Black Beer' rumour has it that it's a killer, mixing hip hop with the Beach Boys, unfortunately not having a pre-release copy I can neither deny nor confirm this, what I can say is that it's always a pleasure to have some thing new from Green Gartside.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Peel Sessions 7
For me music is 90% a gut thing, by that I mean often upon listening to a song or an artist I have a positive reaction the first time that I hear them or it , a good example of this would be 'teenage Kicks' by the Undertones, having said that there are many a band that I have come back to after having a negative reaction only to find certain merit and often a good deal of pleasure in their music. Stereolab
was one such band, in 1997 I was well aware of their reputation and had listened to several of their records but nothing really gelled for me. It was in that year that I was offered the chance to promote a local show for the band, after a little reflection I thought that it seemed like a viable proposition, I was only too aware of the excellent reviews and reputation for 1996's 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' and was sure that they had a local fan base and seeing that they'd never played in Montpellier before thought why not! The date was set for 14 October, and the machine was set in motion, I received a copy of their then latest album 'Dots and Loops' and was reasonably impressed. Come the day of the gig, pre sales were good and we were expecting a good night. I had very little contact with band before they played, I let them get on with their sound check and they let me look after my side of things. Now as a promoter you find yourself in a rather privileged position, if you can actually believe it you get to see too many bands! At this period this was very much my case and to aggravate things my whole social life revolved around music and concerts, so if I wasn't promoting I'd probably be found at the bar at some gig ar the other. Why I can't remember but I found myself in the hall when Stereolab climbed on tho the stage, I can remember thinking to myself how ordinary they looked but when they started playing it was something altogether different. Something rare for me at the time happened and I was captivated and as such saw the whole of their show. Now having said that I would not call my self their number 1 fan by any stretch of the imagination but I can say the play one hell of a gig.
Stereolab recorded six Peel sessions inbetween 1991 and 2001 and today's songs are both taken from the first which was originally broadcast 30 July. 'Super Electric'
is just that and is pure garage meets Krautrock with my personal favorite being 'Changer'
, after all if you have someone French in the band why not sing in French! The song illustrates very well the bands strong points, a droning hypnotic rhythm track with melodic mesmerizing female vocals laid over the top, not difficult really to see why they were one of the nineties biggest cult bands.
The band are still going today despite the fact that long time member Mary Hansen was killed while riding her bike in London by a lorry in a 2002 road accident at the age of 36. Late 2005 early 2006 saw the band release four limited edition EPs which have been conveniently compiled as 'Fab Four Structure' by their original record label Too Pure
, and in to my ears this comes highly recommended.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Something For The Week End
Legend has it that that back in the fifties the Brits only had sex at the week end and above all never talked about it nor would they use any word than made allusion to the act. The legend also states that men would buy condoms, these were the pre-contaceptive pill days, at the barber shop, this was way before the uni-sex saloon came into being, of course the word condom would never be used and the said object was referred to as "something for the week-end". Now not even having been born in the fifties myself I can neither deny nor confirm the truth behind the legend, and being a true Brit may father refuses to enlighten me on the subject. So while searching for a title for a regular Friday post, along the lines of its the end of the week and I'm feeling far too lazy to research anything (and make mistakes!!!!) so howsabout some week-end music with a minimum of text, I came up with this old UK euphemism and though why not.
And so without further a do what I know you are really interested in, the music, it comes from Alabama 3, who are a London based rock/country/ dance cross over act, and are still waiting for the big time to call despite this song being used as the theme for the excellent Sopranos, the song is of course 'Woke Up This Morning' a cool modern take on the old blues mantra, which has been remixed to death and so here is the 'Chosen One Mix'
dedicated to Tony and the boys.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Before you start scratching your heads, yes they are French as are smelly cheeses, Brigitte Bardot, Luc Besson, Renault (both the singer and the car) and of course not forgetting the ever present political scandals, much a case of boys will be boys! If any of you don't Know Rinôçérôse, then shame on you, they are a top of the range house/rock/electro/indie cross over band from Montpellier with friends in very high places.
Going back a few months and I was on one of my rare trips to the Rockstore and chatting away with friend when someone told me that Rinô had had one of their songs chosen for the all new apple ipod Nano advert, you probably know the song by now it goes on about a cubicle. I was intrigued as I have known Jean-Philippe and Patou
, the founding couple and both practicing psychologists, for years, an hour or so latter and Jean-Philippe walked in and confirmed this good news to me. Now if I am to be honest I was never a great fan finding them a little bit too house/techno for my tastes, but on discovering that their latest album 'Schizophonia' was available on E Music I thought why not give a try, and was I surprised. It rocks! On my recent trip to Paris the album had been on constant rotation on my Archos, and if truth be told I think my ears were begining to suffer but I was a happy man. What really makes the album stand head above the competition is its effortless mixture of big dirty rock guitars and licks and their more electro oriented dance side. This explosive cocktail comes as no surprise when we examine their influences; Rolling Stones, dub, My Bloody Valentine, flamenco, Happy Mondays, AC/DC and nineties house in fact just about anything worth listening to for the last 40 years. After meeting and getting on with one of their heroes, Mark Gardener (Ride), they hit upon the idea of recording with guest singers the result is an impressive list of vocal chords on the album including Bnaan (Infadels). There were of course regrets, Ian Brown had to decline as his own record commitements would not allow him. Then there is the Debbie Harry story, Rinô met up with here when they were both playing a festival in Santiago de Chile, and a meeting was arranged to discuss the project. Jean-Philippe spent an afternoon is Miss Harry's hotel room (hands up all those who are jealous), after several listens to 'Stop It' she was very enthusiastic about singing the song and so phone numbers were exchanged to prepare the recording. As with all fairy stories there is a wicked witch and in this case it was Debbies manager who agreed to the project if the band would pay a fortune for a voice and so it was not to be. Still he got to keep her phone number!
So some music for you to taste before running out and buying the highly recommended 'Shizophonia' or their newly released record label cash-in compilation. 'Bitch'
was the first single taken from the album and should have been a very big hit and illustrates their knowledge of AC/DC with some tasty funky guitar thrown in. The album closes with only non English title 'Fahr Zu Hälle'
which reminds me of the best of NY indie dance, and that can't be a bad thing .
As with many bands the Rinô couple have a history, look upon it as job training if you like, in the late eighties early nineties they were the driving force behind the Maracas, a French indie inspired pop band, one of their more popular songs was 'C'est Plus Fort Que Moi'
, not really in the same league but nothing to be ashamed of.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Voice Of The Beehive
I must say I always thought this was a great name for a band, it always reminds me of my childhood when every other boys mum seemed to have a Beehive, wear a mini skirt, smoke players No.6 and be married to man who drove a Ford Cortina, not that different from the images presented in many a grainy black and white UK film from the early sixties.
So who were Voice Of The Beehive
? The focal interest and vocal talent in the group was the Belland sisters, Melissa and Tracey, Californian natives, they were born into the industry as their father was a member of the fifties vocal group the Four Preps, their showbiz childhood included staring in TV commercials, this was of course before reality television. the older of the two sisters, Tracey relocated to London soon to be followed by her younger sister and so by the second half of the seventies they had become hangers-on of the UK indie scene, really just London's Camden Town. Whether they decided that English guitarists were the best before or after they came to England is anyone's guess but the result of this fixation was them grabbing one of their own in the shape of Mick Jones and forming Voice of the Beehive, named after a Bette Davis film. True to their showbiz roots they managed to hook up with an all star rhythm section borrowed from the then inactive Madness. Their early releases were to gain favorable comparisons with Blondie, both for the musical content and their sixties inspired way of dressing. Before they were to call it a day in 1995 they gave us three albums the Beatles pun 'Let It Bee' (1988), 'Honey Lingers' (1990) and 'Sex and Misery' (1995). Personally I prefer their debut album which came as very welcome brash and colourful radio friendly platter, and as such their unashamedly commercial efforts earned them a number of UK hit singles including 'Don't Call Me Baby'
mixing the shiny pop attitude of the sixties with a more liberated nineties feel. The sisters continued to gather friends in the UK indie scene being romantically linked with Steve Mack and Zodiac Mindwarp who co-wrote 'There's A Barbarian In The Back Of My Car'
, rumour has in that he was also the inspiration for the songs title, true or not it rests a wonderful song and full of humour.
So where are they now? The sisters have long since returned to the Californian sun after the grime of London, with Mellisa
earning a living by making and selling fairy statues, this does sound rather Stevie Nicks to me. They got back together for a one off in December 2003, though I must say I prefer to remember them with their three minute classic pop gems so light that they float in and out of your head like bee in the wind and so sweet that its almost like eating honey.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Not All That Glitters Is Gold
In the days of my youth it was not uncommon to find me in a pub of an evening in the company of a group of friends. Our choice of pub was either guided by the brew of beer they served and whether they had live music or not, so apart from the many real gigs I have attended I have probably put up with an equal amount of bar bands, often dishing up a set of finely chosen cover versions of differing quality, enough to turn you to drink! In the mid seventies just about every bar band would play either 'Smoke On The Water' or 'Stairway To Heaven' some were even bold enough to torture us with both songs, in this case we just drank even more! If you can believe your luck some twisted person at WFMU has compiled 64
versions of the Led Zeppelin torch song which are up for grabs as high quality mp3 files , go on treat yourself there really is something here for all the family from Dolly Parton (yes that Dolly Parton) to the wonderfully over the top Leningrad Cowboys complete with what sounds like a Red Army Choir in tow. If anybody knows of a similar exercise for 'Smoke On The Water' I'd be interested !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Peel Sessions 6
are very much your typical cult band, criminally ignored during their life time despite being critically acclaimed their record sales were not to follow suit, indeed as was the case with for example the Velvet Underground their post split sales far exceeded those during their life span. They first came to my attention with their dreamy enigmatic single 'Blue Thunder'
, containing Wareham's aloof vocals and slow motion like guitar, the Peel session version here lacks a little of the majesty of the vinyl version, maybe because there is no saxophone, though it still remains a fine example of what they did best. Galaxy 500 were also one of those bands capable of doing justice to a cover version and as such their career (1986-1991) featured a good many, of their two Peel Sessions (September 1989 and October 1990) four of the eight songs were covers and it was for the BBC that they recorded their version of the Sex Pistols 'Submission'
, the eight tracks are available today on CD. The strain of touring lead to the demise of the group with Dean Wareham forming the recently defunct Luna and the other two thirds regrouping as Damon And Naomi after having given the name Pierre Etoile (a tongue in cheek translation of rock Star) a try.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Grant W McLennnan
I heard the news today that Grant McLennan passed away in in his sleep at his Brisbane home May 6 at the tender age of 48. I won't pretend to be his biggest fan though it must be said that I have followed his career with interest since the late eighties for the simple reason that he was a highly gifted songwriter and a talented performer, both with his partner Robert Forster in the Go Betweens
and as a solo artist. His songs often played a role in my life, during my period as a DJ on 89.9 Radio Alligator we had the track 'Sally's Revolution'
, taken from his first solo album, on very heavy rotation, as was to be the case for 'Thought I Was Over You'
from another of his side projects, Jack Frost, both of these date from 1991. The reason we played these songs to death was simple; they were and still are great songs. The respect that he commands from his peers is all to obvious, after all God's favorite rock star Bono has stated that 'Cattle and Cane'
by the Go Betweens is one of his all time favorite songs. I think the best way to keep the memory alive of this gifted artist is after downloading and tasting the songs to go out and buy the albums.......... and that's an order.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Stratford E15's one and only small wonder, Patrik Fitzgerald the bard of the East End has been on heavy rotation here for the last 48 hours, so much so that my neighbours are begining to think I've finally gone mad, my children are singing along with the songs and my girlfriend swears he is her all time favorite artist. For me it is always a pleasure to rediscover an artist as has been the case with Patrik Fitzgerald, and listening to his compilation CD "the very best of", on Anagram and his only disc still on catalog, I have had great problems choosing the songs for this post, the reason be quite simple they are all so good.
Patrik native of London's east end had an almost brush with fame when he auditioned for the London Underground, a mythical punk band that never got past the rehearsal stage despite including Mick Jones and Tony James in their ranks. The young Patrik returned to his bedroom and his songwriting with his trusty acoustic, having recorded his songs he decided to try his luck and so why not with the new local record label Small Wonder. Small Wonder doubled as a record shop and as such was a frequent hang out for the young Fitzgerald but such was his shyness that the demo was pushed through the letter box anonymously one night. The result is as they say history, Small Wonder went on to release three of his singles the first of which from 1977 was 'Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart'
, this song alone won him the label of punk poet, indeed Patrik was up their with the other punk generation wordsmiths of note John Cooper Clarke and Linton Kwesi Johnson, interesting to note Patrik was the only one not have a double barreled surname maybe his working class roots. His debut received rave reviews as were his next two as well, making it as prestigious single of the week in NME, and back then single of the week did really mean something. Armed only with his guitar Patrik hit the gig trail and opened for many of the days acts, including the likes of Sham 69 unfortunately for such a liberating movement the followers, punks, were notoriosly narrow minded and often gave him a hard time, but he was not the only one, remember what happened when Suicide opened for the Clash. A second EP 'Backstreet Boys' was to follow in 1978 with the title track displaying a slightly more traditional approach to recording using reverb, though the song that always stuck in my mind from this one was 'Trendy'
which always reminded me of my sister and her friends. His last release for Small Wonder was the EP 'The Paranoid Ward' more or less a demo tape, for your listening pleasure I have chosen 'Irrelevent Battles'
which was recorded with a band. At this time Small Wonder had a distribution deal with Polydor and the label were quick in snapping up Patrik Fitzgerald, to illustrate his importance at the time many people said that his signing with a major was the day punk died, but then again the same was said for the Clash, so we see he was in good company. His time with Polydor led to one LP 'grubby Stories' in 1979, one side acoustic and the other with a full band. The album was pressed in Walthamstow, only a stones throw from Small Wonder, and the workers took offence to the language on the record and refused to manufacture it, does rather make you think of the Sex Pistols, doesn't it? By 1981 he was a free man and with a change in musical direction gave us the excellent 'Tonight EP' on London's Final Solution my own personal fave is the very catchy 'Animal Mentality'
A more mature Patrik Fitzgerald was to resurface on Red Flame records in 1983 for whom he was to deliver three albums, that years 'Gifts and Telegrams', 1984's 'Drifting Towards Violence' and the 1986 'Tunisian Twist' two of these come highly recomended as I owned them on vinyl and I have no doubt that the third was every bit as good. A compilation, 'Treasures From The wax Museum', of these three albums came out in 1993 on CD but has long become a collectors item. Patriks last recorded output would seem to be from 1995, 'Pillow Talk', and was for a Greek label called Lazy Dog. So there you go by now Patrik was disillusioned with things in the UK and took the plunge and moved to New Zealand, a case of their gain is our loss, and as we speak he still resides there.
The good news for music lovers is that Patrik is comming back to Europe for some dates this summer, check out his myspace for more details. I strongly recommend that you don't miss this chance to see him as who knows when he will be coming back? I saw him many times in the late 70's early 80's, my best memory of him on stage was at home town gig for him at Stratford's Livingstone House, where I went along with friends who were non believers, so intense was the gig they came away converted!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
The May issue of the UK magazine the Word
contains a nice thought provoking list of eleven punk 45rpm as chosen by contributing journalists to the magazine. They wind up their introduction by concluding that these songs sound best pulled from old sleeves and played on real record players, replete with crackles! My own addition to the list would be the Buzzcocks 3rd single 'What do I Get' / 'Oh shit', as far as these ears are concerned as near to perfection as you can get on a 7" piece of plastic under five minutes long. The list is as follows and in the same order as presented in the magazine:
- the Flaming Groovies "Shake Some Action" chosen by Rob Chapman
- the Users "Sick of You" chosen by Howard Male
- Siouxsie & the Banshees "Honk Kong Garden" chosen by Keith Drummond
- Jilted John "Jilted John" chosen by Paul Du Noyer
- Sex Pistols "Go Save the Queen" chosen by David Quantick
- Wire "Outdoor Miner" chosen by Rob Fitzpatrick
- X Ray Spex "Oh Bondage. Up Yours!" chosen by Jude Rogers
- Richard Hell & the Voidoids "Blank Generation" chosen by David Hepworth
- the Slits "Typical Girls" chosen by Sheryl Garrett
- Patrik Fitzgerald "Banging & Shouting" chosen by Mat Coward
- Television Personalities "Part Time Punks" chosen by Simon Barnet
There are two artists that
grabbed my attention as they are both more a less forgotten today, Patrik Fitzgerald who we will come back to tomorrow and the Users. They first came to my attention back in 1977 or 1978 as they were featured on a Raw Records compilation which I had purchased on cassette and proceeded to wear out over the months that followed. Raw claimed to be one of the first UK independent labels to come from punk, ironically enough, considering punks year zero manifesto, the label was started by the owner of the Cambridge record shop Remember These Oldies. The Users heralded from the same town and the single was a home made lo-fi blast of Iggy fueled punk. They might well have been consigned to histories pages were it not for 'Sick of You'
being sampled on the Atari Teenage Riot single 'Sick To Death' and more bizarrely upon John Peel passing away it was discovered that his record box contained two examples of the single! One for each ear?
The compilation contained another favorite track of mine from this period in the killjoys "Johnny Won't Get To Heaven
", a classic blast of amphetamine charged punk and
with a catchy chorus thrown in for good measure. This single is of particular historic note as it is the first time the vocal chords of Kevin Rowlands, later of Dexys Midnight Runners, were to grace a record. As mr Rowlands himself was to claim in 2001 "there was no doubt in my mind that I was at least as passionate and angry and as from the street as any punk rock singer you could name. But it was wrong for me to try to be part of someone else's thing", and so Kevin went on to do his own thing which as everyone knows culminated in his cross dressing in public! Interestingly enough the bands bass player Gem also went on to greater things, she filled bass duties for Girlschool after having been recommended by the bass players bass player himself Lemmy.
The Raw Records catalog has been rescued by Damaged Goods
and thanks to them both songs are still available on 7" picture sleeve black vinyl or on a more boring CD compilation.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Do You Remember The First Time ?
Yes I do, though the memory is somewhat vague and may have been slightly distorted through the nostalgic mist. I was maybe 14 or 15 at the most, and was a hormone over charged spotty lad as were my friends, and in the middle of my own personal crisis of adolescence, rebellion was what it was all about. True for such an important event in ones life I am almost ashamed that I cannot remember exactly when it took place, though I can recall where and with whom. At the time I lived in Forest Gate in London's exotic East End, and the event took place at the other side of London, to be more precise Hammersmith. At that tender age and I have still no idea how I managed to persuade my parents to let me go, but they did and so the evening in question I made my way to the local British Rail station and then changed at Stratford to take the underground, I'm sure I was excited at the prospect of what lay ahead. When I finally surfaced from the tube, beneath the all imposing Hammersmith Flyover, I looked around and there it was in front of me lights blazing out in the night air announcing "Nazareth on stage tonight". Yes my very first gig. It has been a little while now that I have been toying with the idea of this post, fully realizing that Nazareth are hardly trendy or even well known and are certainly not representative of this blog. True I could rewrite history, much the same way that I our politicians and media are always trying to do, and tell you about the first time I saw the Clash, the Buzzcocks or the Jam (opening for the Stranglers!). From what I can remember it was a pleasurable experience that I was only too keen to repeat despite thinking that I had gone half deaf as my ears were ringing as I left the hall, they still were the next day! To help set the picture a little bit the London of the early 70's was nothing like what it is today, in many ways the town had still not got over WWII still bearing certain scars bomb shelters and temporary housing were everywhere, and in terms of radio and musical exposure we were very limited, I can remember buying records such as 'Band on the Run' and a Deep Purple compilation when in the spring of '75 I heard a single by the Scottish band Nazareth and to the ears of this 14 year old their cover version of the Tomorrow song 'My White Bicycle'
was the dogs balls (an expression that was common when I was young, don't ask me to explain but it means very good!). So it was only natural that when I saw in the music press, at the time I read Sounds, that they were touring that I pestered my parents until they agreed to let me go. Regrets, no as I have already said I rather enjoyed it and it put me firmly on the road to what I have become. By the end of the following year I had read about this new band, Sex Pistols, and no I never got round to seeing them despite almost going along to a gig the Brunell University but we never thought they would disappear so soon, and I had also discovered the delights of the NME and cool DJ John Peel whose programe went out late in the evening where you could hear great records no one else was playing.
And this is what they looked like back then, still brings a little smile to my face but I must say thank heavens for Punk and all that followed it.
In case any one is interested this is the original version of 'My White Bicycle' by Tomorrow.
A big thanks to Jarvis for the title and if you feel I mislead you don't worry I'm sure a Pulp post will come arround some day.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Peel Sessions 5
be a little to simple this one, I chose today's band a
) because I like them and b
) because today being May 1st it is a public holiday in France, and the beginning of the great month of May when not only can we expect the weather to look up but we have 3 other public holidays (May 8, May 25 and June 5) to look forward to, and so for me that make today a Happy Monday!
Remember them? Of course you do, the Ryder brothers, Bez and some friends with those frentic baggy dance grooves from way back. They recorded two Peel sessions the first in April 1986 from which their signature tune 'Freaky Dancin'
is taken and a second in February 1989 when 'Mad Cyril'
was recorded, just listen to the way they craftily weave parts of 'Sympathy For The Devil into the fabric of their own song. I can remember the arrival of their seminal 'Pills thrills and Bellyaches' album and upon hearing the opening lines of 'Kinky Afro' ("Son I only went with your mother cos she's dirty"), realising that Sean Ryder might be an irresponsible lager lout drug lover but did he have a way with words. The said album was indeed the bands high point and everything was down hill after this until the they literally fell apart in the Bahamas while recording their final album 'Yes Please' which as far as the public were concerned was more a case of no thanks. When divorce settlements and drug dealers need to be pawed they have been known to get back together, but you should forget these come backs and dig out the original recordings and just close your eyes when listening to them and let the Happy Mondays fine music take you away.