Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Those of you that don't already know of Daytrotter
have either been hiding or shouldn't be reading this blog! Their site has become since it's conception in March 2006 an incomparable weekly rendez-vous for those music lovers that would have constituted the late John Peels audience. They feature two sessions a week, Monday and Thursday, from touring bands that are just passing through. They own or have access to Futureappletree Studio One in Rock Island, Illinois. The results are remarkably addictive as the four songs laid down live in their few allotted hours contain a lot of warmth, this is maybe due to the fact that they have been laid down on good old fashioned 1/4 inch analog tape before being transferred to a digital medium, this has almost got me feeling nostalgic for tape hiss! In their own words their manifesto is to "give you exclusive, re-worked, alternate versions of old songs and unreleased tracks by some of your favorite bands and by a lot of your next favorite bands." In my opinion they have more than succeeded in their 49 sessions to date, true you wont find Oasis or Neil Young here, not yet anyway. The bigger names that have laid down some stunning sessions include Bonny Prince Billy
and Two Gallants
. I have discovered numerous artists thanks to them these include Thao Nguyen
who will go down a storm with fans of Cat Power, Erin McKeown
that contains webmaster Marks favorite track, a cover of Fats Waller's 'Honey Suckle Rose' and last Monday's session by The Elected
that exposed me to their well crafted songs that are a little bit on the laid back side but we all have to relax sometime, don't we? I guess relax is the key Daytrotter word as what is consistent through these sessions is an easy going vibe that can only be found when musicians are winding down and doing what they do best : making music with people that understand and appreciate them.
What actually puts the Daytrotters way ahead of the competition apart from the obvious, their good taste and original material, is the almost total lack of photographs on the site. Each of the sessions is illustrated with original drawings from one of their team of eight illustrators / artists.
Another recent discovery of mine thanks to them was current favorite of the music press David Vandervelde
, he comes over a bit like a contemporary Mid West Marc Bolan, checkout 'Nothin' No'
from his just released debut album 'The Moonstation House Band' brought to you by that terribly cool label Secretly Canadian. I must admit what brought may attention to him was the cover version of 'Cocksucker Blues' that he had laid down. Like many of you I was aware of the legend of this notorious contract breaking song by Mick and the boys, though never having actually heard it I was, I must say at times dubious of it's existence, well you can now own this fine version with the lyrics well up in your face over a suitably sleazy rock 'n' blues backdrop. Daytrotter have stated that the song will be taken down when they reach 1500 downloads, they have currently clocked up 948, you have been warned, get clicking!
I guess I'd sum up Daytrotter as being an essential excursion through the backwaters of a vibrant American alternative music scene, to be missed at your peril.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
No It's not a homage to the Toto song , but a handful of random songs that have been keeping my grey cells busy for the last few days, with nothing more in common than they are connected to that enormous continent that was the cradle of humanity.
1. Robert Plant's favorite band of African Nomads Tinariwen provide us with 'Cler Achel', I have no idea at all of what they are on about but it sounds fine to me. The track is taken from their latest album 'Aman Iman : Water Is Life' that is currently gathering the plaudits and stars that it deserves in the music press, may be Damon Albarn has something to do with this?
2. Rachid Taha has long been a star in, France, his country of adoption, and for certain politicians here he has the same quality as a thorn in the side, not such a bad thing? A few years back he recorded a cover version of 'Rock The Casbah' by the Clash that he renamed 'Rock El Casbah' which was really just like taking the song back home. Rachid also has a new album 'Divan 2' where he joins forces with his old sparing partner Steve Hillage to revisit songs of his youth in Algeria.
3. I love female singers in oriental music and a such Natasha Atlas has been a long term favorite of mine here is her voodoo meets Casablanca take on the old standard 'I Put A Spell On You'.
4. Last up is vinyl rip from a song from the Sisters Of Mercy, now I'm no big fan of Goth, though this version of 'Temple Of Love' is for me a big success in the way that it manages to mix the stiff goth original with the sensual charms of Ms Haza to such great effect.
Those of you that have enjoyed today's music and find yourself with too much money could do worse than visiting the Red Cross site
and if you agree with the essential work that they carry out, make a donation!
Monday, January 29, 2007
Peel Sessions 39
Therapy have proven to be a difficult band to pin down, their infuences include the classic metal bands such as Black Sabbath as well as more hip names such as Husker Du, this dual personality was mirrored in the early 90's press as they were well received by both the more fashionable side as well as the traditional hard rock inkies. The band also displayed a good sense of melody and were capable of turning their hands to composing catchy pop gems that left many a band jealous. Their self released debut single was picked up by John Peel who wasted little time in inviting them down to Maida Vale for the first of two sessions in August 1991, a three song set that contained 'Innocent Abstraction'
, 'Prison Breaker'
, their second and final Peel session would be recorded in November the following year. Therapy's following two releases the EPs 'Baby Teeth' and 'Pleasure Death' were on the indie label Wijja, the second of which was to include the 'Potato Junkie' with it's classic chorus concerning James Joyce and someone's sister, for many of us this is a classic Irish sing a long song! Such was the buzz around the band that the majors wasted little time and their following releases were on the A&M imprint, and included the hit 'Screamager'. The band are still around and would appear to have deservedly kept a firm fan base, a recently released live album is available through their web site
I had the good luck to catch up with Therapy in Montpellier back in their 90's hey day and can assure you that they were a damn good live band giving real meaning to the term power trio! They returned to Montpellier April 15, 2005 and unfortunately I missed out on this though those that were present are always telling me that I missed out on one of the gigs of the year. I have three songs for you from that gig 'Potato Junkie', U2 fans are not to take the song's introduction too seriously, a wonderful cover of 'Isolation/She's Lost Control', from the cover stars of the February edition of Mojo and a hot 'n' sweaty 'Screamager'. The photo comes from a Dutch gig on the same tour so I guess energy levels were high on all dates! The band seemed to have a good time as drummer Neil Cooper has the following to say on their web site about the gig "Montpellier seemed like a really nice place. Gig was really cool - thanks to the fella for getting in the tequila shots. The venue - Le Rockstore - was great. We danced the night away at the rock club after the show and got ever so slightly inebriated." Hard life isn't it?
Friday, January 26, 2007
Who Are The Beautiful?
Shoegazing is a form of music that I will readily confess to being fond of, the scene corresponded with a period where I was heavily involved in music and a such could consider my self to have been a player. Now I'm not going to pretend that I listen to this style of music everyday, regular readers will be aware that my musical tastes mirror my advancing years, though from time to time it gives me a lot of pleasure to dig out an old Boo Radley's track or give Catherine Wheel another spin. And so it was that a couple of weeks back that I dug out an old Chapterhouse
12", and was rapidly dragged in by it's charms. Now I would not consider myself as a big fan of the band, though I can remember at the time 'We Are The Beautiful' received some healthy airplay during my radio shows and for good reason just listen to it's big John Bonham style drum sound, It's addictive chorus with a touch of the orient in it's backing vocals, I'd say it deserved to have been a big hit! Now if this wasn't enough my 12" version contains two remixes 'Spooky's Ugly As Sin Mix' which to my ears is just that as it a rather tedious techno take on the song but 'We Are The Beautiful (Spooky's Extravaganja Dub Mix' is as we used to say in my youth, the business! For me this version rates along with the mighty Lazarus, a song so majestic that many others just fade in comparison, as one those songs to be listened to loud, a remix almost made to test your speakers. It's big warm dub base line and shimmering vocals really do sound like as if heaven is calling you in. A track to be consumed only by consenting adults, and be careful with your woofers!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Time to be a bit humble and apologise for yesterday's cock up with the music files, my thanks to anonymous, it's always him or her isn't it ? Anyway as they so poetically stated 'links all fucked up'. Well I've spent the best part of the afternoon trying to sort this one out, only to discover it was a problem of forbidden characters, apparently '&' buggers up the system. So I've replaced the '&' with 'and' before re uploading the files and what do you know the links are up and working. Sorry again and I'll be back tomorrow with some new music.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Bow Bell Blues
We all from time to time re evaluate the prejudices, big or small, that we carry around with us as cumbersome baggage, an example of a smaller prejudice that I had being carrying around for years was Chas & Dave, who at the end of the day I gave a second hearing to and what do you know, they're actually quite good, after all they did go down a storm at Glastonbury in 2005.
Part of the reason why I disliked them so much was that as a teenager I had the good luck of getting the Saturday job at my local record shop that was in Barkingside High Street, at the time it went under the name of Roylance and was owned by a charmingly eccentric old man called Reggie Roylance, as he was well passed official retirement age he finally sold up. His shop was picked up by a mini-chain going by the name of the Record Center. The new owner Ron Self, seemed to model himself on George Cole's Minder character though in reality he often made me think more of old man Steptoe! Ron, in general left us alone to run the shop as we saw fit, and did we have a ball! He liked to turn up Saturday afternoon to watch the money rolling in. If it was a good Saturday around closing time he would invite us to join him for a whisky coke, this would as often as not be soundtracked by one of his favorite records, I guess it goes without saying that on of these was Chas & Dave, God how much we suffered for our whisky coke back in the seventies! I guess the other reasons for my disliking of them is that a) they were so stereotyped East End, and that it was to close to home for comfort and b) lets be honest back when I was a lad they were about as cool as the sun and us Punk / Indie kids thought we were the dogs diner.
My re - appraisal of the band has started with listening to 'Rockney', 1977, and 'Don't Give A Monkeys', 1979. While both albums have their merits the second does get a little bit carried away with it's knees up attitude though it does contain the hits 'Gertcha' and 'Rabbit' that was used in a beer commercial. It is 'Rockney' that has held my attention and given me the most pleasure as it contains songwriting, that dare I say It, is in the same caliber as the Kinks and Squeeze to name just two. Their matter of fact was of story telling about life, their life, in London, which when you think about it is a lot more honest that singing about route 66 or Kansas City! 'Strummin' is a tale about how they started playing music that is reminiscent of 'Razzle In My Pocket' by Ian Dury another Cockney poet. Personal favorite is 'Edmonton Green', close your eyes while listening to it and see if you agree that it comes over as Blueberry Hill by way of Primrose Hill after a detour down New Orleans all served up with a healthy portion of jellied eels.
Do yourself a favour and give them a try, you might actually like them! In case you are worried about credibility, bare in mind that the duo are seasoned session musicians, and as such played guitar and bass on 'I Got The' by Labi Siffre which was in turn sampled by Eminem on 'My Name Is'.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sid Presley Experience
No it's not a joke though the cocktail of the first name, that of a sad punk rock icon with that of the surname of the king of rock 'n' roll who also met with a sad demise could well be conceived as character that would be worthy of the pen of Ben Elton, or some other 'alternative' comedy writer from the eighties. They were a short lived London guitar based four piece that had been formed by Peter and Chris Coyne in 1984. A quick look at their press photos reveals an image of UK gangster chic long before the likes of Guy Richie was to be serving up the same in his films. The look was very much that of the East End around the period of the Kray twins, this underworld association was to be kept up as the brothers next band, that was to be more successful was the Godfathers.
During their short life span the Sid Presley Experience gathered enthusiastic articles from the press where they were promised a great future. They managed to release two singles in 1984 the first of which 'Public enemy Number 1' (gangster references again!) was produced by Dave Goodman, ex Sex Pistol soundman, and producer of the legendary bootleg 'Spunk Rock'. Their second single boasted a cover version of 'Cold Turkey', a John Lennon song, which considering the the bands punk roots seemed a strange choice. Investigation reveals that this was recorded in protest about heroin dealing and addiction on London housing estates, during the early eighties more and more dealers were taking advantage of the forgotten population that was being left behind on these backwaters of society. the second song was 'F For Fake' that shouted out loud and clear their admiration for the Sex Pistols and this was very much to good effect. Final track 'Firewater' is a hi-octane surf/rock 'n' roll instrumental that would burn a hole in any stage. They never got round to releasing an album and by the following year, 1985 they were no more and the Coyne brothers were already planning greater things with the Godfathers.
In conclusion great name, great image and the music wasn't bad either, needless to say their releases have been second hand shop affairs for a long time, this really is the sort of music that should be licensed for digital commerce.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Peel Sessions 38
I probably first heard his voice and word play on Peel, that all important first EP on Rabid records, without doubt I had already read about him in the NME, I was lucky enough to have seen him perform on numerous occasions, the first of which being an opening slot at London's famed Marquee Club. I am talking about noneother than the Salford word slayer, John Cooper Clarke
for whom I have been a big fan since '77. It was therefore very much to my surprise and pleasure to see an interview with the man known as the punk poet in the February issue of Mojo. The article was apparently instigated at the request of Artic Monkeys singer, Alex Turner, who we are to learn, studied JCC's works at school, is this proof of how education has changed since my day or was the young Turner just lucky? True the interview is not the most soul searching piece that I have read though I must admit that regardless it is nice to see JCC having some of the attention that he merits. There is very little that we don't already know that is revealed, though I did learn that Phil Harris was a big influence, he was the man who provided the voice of Baloo in the Jungle Book (the first film I saw at a cinema). Also of interest is that he was not to fond of the musical backing for his three CBS albums as produced by new wave legend, Martin Hannett, claiming that they were not punky enough. The good news is that a new album is planned next year (2007/2008?), that will be the follow up to 1982's 'Zip Style Method' that is itself being re-released in expanded version today! There is also an autobiography 'Slim Volume' that has recently been completed and awaits publishing.
As already mentioned JCC's first vinyl outing was picked up my Peel and this resulted in two sessions one in November 1978 from which the following two songs/poems are taken and a second session in May 1983 which I believe provides the bonus tracks on the CD reissue of 'Zip Style Method', another good reason to buy it.
make a date with the brassy brides of britain
the altogether ruder readers' wives
who put down their needles and their knitting
at the doorway to our dismal daily lives
the fablon top scenarios of passion
nipples peep through holes in leatherette
they seem to be saying in their fashion'
I'm freezing charlie - haven't ya finished yet?'
cold flesh the colour of potatoe
sin an instamatic living room of sin
all the required apparatus
too bad they couldn't fit her head in
in latex pyjamas with bananas going ape
their identities are cunningly disguised
by a six-inch strip of insulation tape
strategically stuck across their eyes
wives from inverness to inner london
prettiness and pimples co-exist
pictorially wife-swapping with someone
who's happily married to his wrist
AROUND THE BLOCK - AGAINST THE CLOCK
TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK
RUNNING OUT OF BREATH - RUNNING OUT OF SOCKS
RUBBER ON THE ROAD... FLIPPETY FLOP
NON-SKID AGILITY... CHOP CHOP
NO TIME TO HANG ABOUT
WORK OUT HEALTH FANATIC... WORK OUT!
THE CRACK OF DAWN HE'S LIFTING WEIGHTS
HIS TELL-TALE HEART REVERBERATES
HE'S HIGH IN POLYUNSATURATES...
LOW IN POLYSATURATES...
THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH'S AWARD AWAITS
IT'S A MAN'S LIFE
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... SO WAS HIS WIFE
A ONE-MAN WAR AGAINST DECAY
ENJOYS HIMSELF THE HARD WAY
ALLOWS HIMSELF A MARS A DAY
HOW OLD AM I - WHAT DO I WEIGH
PUNCH ME THERE... DOES IT HURT... NO WAY
RUNNING ON THE SPOT DON'T GET TOO HOT
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC, THAT'S WHY NOT
RUNNING THROUGH THE TRAFFIC JAM - TAKING IN THE LEAD
HYPERACTIVITY KEEPS HIM OUT OF BED
DEEP DOWN HE'D LIKE TO KICK IT IN THE HEAD
THEY'LL REGRET IT WHEN THEY'RE DEAD
THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN FUN
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC - HE'S GOT TO RUN
BEANS GREENS AND TANGERINES
AND LOW CHOLESTROL MARGARINES
HIS LIMBS ARE LOOSE, HIS TEETH ARE CLEAN
HE'S A HIGH-OCTANE FRESH-AIR FIEND
YOU'VE GOT TO ADMIT HE'S KEEN
WHAT CAN YOU DO BUT BE IMPRESSED
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... GIVE IT A REST
SHADOW BOXING - PUNCH THE WALL
ONE-A-SIDE FOOTBALL... WHAT'S THE SCORE... ONE-ALL
COULD HAVE BEEN A COPPER... TOO SMALL
COULD HAVE BEEN A JOCKEY... TOO TALL
KNEES UP, KNEES UP... HEAD THE BALL
NERVOUS ENERGY MAKES HIM TICK
HE'S A HEALTH FANATIC... HE MAKES YOU SICK
I'm not quite sure whether he ever played live with a band or not as every time that I saw him his was on his own, just like a real poet and in many ways that was how I preferred him, in his own word crowd pleasing. 'You Never See A Nipple In The Daily Express'
is taken from the 'Ou Est La Maison de Fromage' album and is all the proof you need concerning his stage presence.
I'll leave the last words to poet himself who said about his works, "it's reality but it's cranked up a couple of gears. Real reality's quite dull. It's not really that interesting, is it?"
Thursday, January 18, 2007
No! In case you are wondering I have not hit the bottle, though if things keep on going this way maybe it won't be long. It's turned into another one of those weeks, that despite my good intentions I find myself having trouble finding the time to do everything that I either have to or planned to. I am still waiting for the Beatles wish of an eighth day a week to become reality!
And so to 'The Bottle' which is indeed a song and not the one that has p
robably already sprung to mind by Gil Scott Heron, but another song altogether signed by The Tyrrel Corporation. A band from the early eighties for whom I remain blissfully ignorant excepting the fact that this single of their's did a good job of getting my feet moving back then. A song that will go down well with fans of the Hi-Energy brand of pop house that was served up by Bronski Beat, with just a little nod in the direction of rock. A vinyl rip, so the background noise is normal!
Monday, January 15, 2007
Peel Sessions 37
First up well done to Sonofajoiner who was the only person to answer, and correctly. The common point between the four images was indeed the comic artist Jamie Hewlett, the first image was Tank Girl
a co creation between Jamie and Alan Martin from the 1980's, great comics, lousy film! Number two was the Senseless Things, a band for whom Jamie was to design album covers and other artwork. Number three is of course Pulp
, Jamie was commissioned by their record company to draw a promotional strip based on the bands 'Common People' single. The comic can be downloaded, but be warned I scanned the images in high quality so the files are large, maybe only for hardcore fans! Cover, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and Page 6. And the last image was indeed Gorillaz
the band that Jamie formed with his flatmate Damon Albarn.
Pulp were no way near being the band that recorded the most sessions for Peel, four studio sessions and four live recordings spanning the period 1981 to 2001, interestingly enough seven of these were from 1993 onwards. Their record company has done a very good job of compiling the four studio sessions along with highlights from the live recordings that is still available at an attractive price with the added bonus of some great sleeve notes from Jarvis's pen.
I consider myself to have been rather fortunate so far in my life for many different reasons one of which was the years I spent promoting concerts, I was lucky enough to organise three gigs by Pulp. The first of which took place just before the summer kicked in, May 26, 1994 at the Rockstore, Montpellier. This was when they were touring the 'His 'n' Hers' album, my memories of the band were of a group that couldn't believe their luck, off stage they were shy and retiring though once the houselights went down Jarvis went to great lengths to persuade us that this was where he belonged. The following year they were back in the south of France and I organised a date in both Montpellier and Marseille 24th and 25th November. By now the band were real stars, and the transformation was almost fairy story like, the tour bus was bigger, no longer the 2 star hotels of the previous year but now 4 stars were required. An image that has lodged itself in my head is of seeing Jarvis sitting in the salon of the hotel sipping tea as if it was the most normal thing in the world with all the bustle going on around him. The difference on stage was also to be seen to be believed, everything was 100 times more professional, I can remember the moment that I realised the difference was when Jarvis started strumming the introduction to 'Sorted for E's And Wizz', he was so full of confidence and the audience were totally behind him. Two great gigs! Those of you that never had the chance to see them at their height could do worse than buying 'Ultimate Live' a DVD containing two London concerts one indoors and the other outdoors, you won't be disappointed.
And so for today's music 'Common People' recorded September 1994, the vocals are a lot less upfront and I find this version has much more of a reggae feel. 'Sorted For E's & Wizz' was recorded at London's Kings College as part of the celebration of Peels 40 years in broadcasting.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
What is it common point between the following
The answer will be provided Monday!
The second image in case you are wondering is of the Senseless Things, a UK powerpop/punk band who had their five minutes of fame and the odd NME cover and even recorded two Peel sessions during the early 90's. Their albums have all been long since deleted by Sony/Epic who would seem to prefer spending their resources on other things such as game consoles, sorry but this is not my generation! So in case you missed out on them try the Buzzcocks influenced pop of 'Everybody's Gone' from their 1991 LP 'The First Of Two Many' that situated them as contemporaries of Mega City Four often sharing the same bill. 'Homophobic Arsehole' from 1993's 'Empire Of The Senseless' took a heavier direction while keeping their pop sensibilities in tact, maybe because of the more serious nature of the subject matter radio airplay was to be rare and the song failed to chart.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Odds & Ends
There is a lot of talk about global warming at the moment and if this leads to a radical change of attitude, hi there G.W. Bush, then this can't be such a bad thing but I must say I do have my doubts. I think I have already mentioned there was not much snow in the mountains at Christmas, and my sister who lives in Nova Scotia who usually spends a good few months a year snow bound, has yet to see the white stuff this winter. I've just had a look around the garden, and really considering the temperature it's no big surprise that certain flowers already have buds months ahead of schedule. I think it is maybe for this reason that I've had 'Baby's Got Sauce' by G. Love & The Special Sauce
running around my head for the last couple of days as it is a nice laid back funky blues number, maybe sharing it with you will remove it from my memory cells for the moment. The band have been around for a good few years now and this song is taken from their self titled debut album released in 1994, this was right in the middle of my spell as radio jock in Montpellier and I seem to remember their French label, Epic, giving them the big push and trying to sell them as a rap/blues crossover. Still not a bad a album. Those of you that like this could do worse than visit their Archive Org page
where there is a good choice of live shows spanning recent years for you to download.
Backtracking to yesterdays post I get the feeling that I have short changed Tymon Dogg
, and I'm sure that many of you are not quite sure who he is. Probably most famous due to his friendship with Joe Strummer that dates from the the early 70's in squatting and busking London, rumour has it that it was Tymon that was resonsible for Captain Joe's stabbing style of guitar playing which led to his adoption of the name Strummer. By the time the two met Tymon had already had several brushes with the industry, he had almost been signed by the Beatles Apple label though this never quite came about, in part due to the fab four splitting and putting their label on ice. This experience was followed by him being picked up by the Moody Blues newly formed label, though the promised album was never to materialise, maybe older readers can remember seeing him support the Moody Blues? His first album 'Outlaw Number One' dates from 1976 and owes its existence to a heavy handed arrest while busking in the London underground, the resulting £300 compensation paid for the recording and pressing of the only 500 copies of the album to exist, so if you own this it's a real rarity. A second album 'Battle Of Wills' was released through Rough Trade in 1982. This period was when he first came to my attention with his contribution to the Clash triple album 'Sandinista', the violin led country influenced 'Loose This Skin' was the song that made you wake up before the album went really silly with children singing 'Career Opportunities'! It was to be four years before another album bore his name 1986's 'New Age Songs' had been recorded with his wife Helen Cherry. His fourth and latest album, 'Relentless', saw day as recently as 1989, a compact 14 song set in under 35 minutes, this is probably the album where his folk instincts are pushed to the front along with his enthusiastic style of violin playing and very distinctive voice as can be witnessed on 'Sides'
. He has also played on 'Combat Rock' by the Clash and 'Short Back And Sides' by Ian Hunter amongst oth
His recent years were spent as one of the main Mescaleros who along side Joe Strummer co wrote a good number of the bands songs. His most recent activity has been with his new project the Quikening and can be seen playing the occasional gig (London/Hastings), there is an EP, 'Guantanamo', due for release in of 2007 that can be pre-ordered here
I think it goes without saying that his four albums are all hard to find, it is therefore to their credit that the webmasters behind his site are providing a real public service and have the four albums available here
as high quality 320kbps downloads along with two live performances of 'Loose This Skin' recorded with the Mescaleros in 2002. Definitely to be consumed without moderation!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Whatever Happened To ............?
Possibly the first in an occasional series or may be just a one off, just have to wait and see. The idea came about after the Basement 5 post when I discovered what Richard Dudanski is up to these days. Shame on those of you that are mouthing Richard who? It may be true that the drummer, yes the one sitting at the back with what looks like chopsticks in their hands, is often not the best known member of the band. How many drummers can you name? I'm sure a lot less than you can vocalists or guitarists.
Dudanski learnt his trade alongside legendary Clash leader Joe Strummer in the mid seventies. By summer, 1979 he was behind the drums for PIL, and was present for part of the recording of the classic 'Metal Box'. This was the second punk figurehead that he was to play behind. As was to be with the majority of John Lyndon's drummers, he was not to last long and by mid 1980 his talents were being put to good use with basement 5. Since then he has been a member of The Raincoats recording 'Moving' with them and has recorded extensively with an outsider that deserves to be an insider, Tymon Dogg
, again that Joe Strummer/101er's connection. For those of you either too young or too geographically removed to remember, the London of the late 70's early 80's was probably a lot more hip place than the swinging town of the 60's partly due to increased mobility, I can remember that it was not unusual to encounter and make friends with people from foreign lands, and so it was that Richard had met and married his wife a Spanish national. One thing led to another and in 1988 he moved to Granada in Spain claiming to prefer the life style, not that different from me really excepting that I'm no drummer! He has lived there ever since and has played with Por Si Las Moscas whose album was mixed by Strummer, with whom he kept up his friendship as Joe also had a soft spot for the Iberic Peninsula and would often spend part of his Summer there. A chance meeting with American exile and veteran of the Madrid music scene Tom Lardner led to the duo forming El Doghouse
in 2004. And that just about brings us up to date the band gig as often as they can taking great pleasure in playing live and have released an album entitled 'In Heat' that can be purchased for the modest sum of 10 euros from their web site. Musically speaking it has more in common with his early days, if pushed I would describe them as being a heavy country blues with a heathy funky element present, check out 'Little Bit Of Jesus'
to see what I mean. Of the 12 songs 11 are originals with a cover of the Stooges classic 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'
, the band said why not, I would say that a man with Dudanski's pedigree deserves to cover this song much more than many others that have done so.
Maybe you were fortunate enough to have been present when the 101er's reformed to play two tributes to Joe Strummer, after his untimely death in 2002, one in his native London and the other in Spain, guests included Mick Jones, Wilko and Jem Finer from the Pogues, well the man that organised these was none other than Richard Dudanski.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Made In France
Following on from yesterday's post with another all girl band this time from another decade and another country. Strictly speaking this not made in France as despite their French nationality today's heroes met and formed in the Teutonic capital of all things arty, Berlin. This meeting between Francoise and Coco took place in the early eighties and was followed by their first attempts at forming a band with the points of reference ranging from Sylvie Vartan To Jacques Dutronc. With the addition of the Italian, Tutti Frutti the first line up was complete and so a name was needed, this they found after seeing Kubricks adaptation of a Nabolov novel, and so Les Loitas were born. They began gigging in their adopted homeland and despite singing in French, they started to build a reputation. The end of that year saw the German release of their self titled debut album that despite being self produced on a thin budget gathered buckets full of praise from the press. It was the following year that French Label New Rose
, named after the Damned song of the same name, picked up the band despite have never played a gig in the country. This event coincided with them becoming a four piece with the addition of Olga. A second album 'Series Americaines' followed before the French label took the band firmly under their wings. They were to spend summer of '88 in Memphis with Alex Chilton producing their third long player 'Fusee D'Amour' at Ardent Studio, they even had the legendary Jim Dickinson guest on two songs. 'Cactus' is an energetic cover version of a sixties hit from one of their influences, Dutronc and 'Le Mec D'Hier Soir' is almost a cowpunk before it's time as it does a good job of mixing country and punk and in French! The band were strangely reluctant to play France 1988/9 saw them give less than 10 performances against the 300 in Germany and so it was that their star rose faster and higher the other side of the Rhine. New Rose, convinced that the band had real p
otential, hitched them up with another of their artists, Guitar legend Chris Spedding who produced what was to be their final album 'Rouge Baiser'. Described by Spedding as being a fresh take on rock sung in French and not a bad copy of American music, he took them to NYC to record where they laid down this cover version of the Otis Redding song 'I've Been Loving You Too Long'.
And so it was that after a mere five years of existence that Les Lolitas having recorded four albums, having become well known in Germany, a cult in France and unknown to the rest of the world before going their separate ways at the beginning of the new decade. Their albums were all available at some stage on CD though the only CD that I have come across recently is copies of the compilation of their last two albums entitles 'New York Memphis'.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Peel Sessions 36
One of the great things about the Peel Sessions was that they featured everything from the big bands to those that were, and are still today in many cases, obscure. All it needed was for either John Peel or John Walters, his long term producer, to be suitably impressed with a single or a gig and the band could easily find themselves invited down to Maida Vale and subsequently broadcast along the nations airwaves a week or two later. If we take for example the letter P
you will see that for every Pixies, P.J. Harvey or Pulp there was also a Psylons, Premi or Po lurking in the shadows waiting for the masses to listen and who knows maybe even buy their records. This list will also reveal bands that were maybe not destined for greater things for different reasons, one such band is Period Pains, I honestly cannot imagine hearing a daytime jock announcing the latest release from them sandwiched between his usual banalities unless of course the show were to be sponsored by Tampa...........................! And yes in case you are wondering the band did actually exist in the late 90's. I know very little about them excepting that they were a female four piece from the town of Reading that formed at school. According to their record label Damaged Goods
they played short sharp songs reminiscent of X Ray Spex and Pink Kross, I would like to add that their attitude was similar to that of the Slits. A single was released in 1997 that slagged off the Spice Girls 'Spice Girls (Who Do You Think You Are)' the single came to the attention of Steve Lamaq and John Peel both of whom put it on heavy rotation on their evening shows. The result was the single peaked at number 87 in the national charts, such is the power of night time radio! The band had struck the right note with JP and recorded their first and only session in August of the same year. 1997 really was their year as the single made it to number four in Peel's annual end of year listeners chart the Festive Fifty. Quite why I don't know but the band did not build on this cult success, indeed their only other release was the five track BBC sessions that belatedly hit the shops in Spring 1999. It would be reasonable enough I guess to call the band one hit wonders, anyone know where they are now? So, two songs the aforementioned single 'Spice Girls (....' and the terribly middle class girly issue number 'Daddy I Want A Pony' or were they just being sarcastic I'll let you decide.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I've just read a rather nice article in the January edition of Mojo as part of their on going series Buried Treasure. The article has been penned by Kris Needs
who was editor of the much missed UK monthly Zig Zag during the 70's and unknown by me was also manager of the long defunct Basement 5 who much to my surprise have a rather good MySpace
page, not too many friends but they do seem to have more of those that count than a lot of other bands. The article had the necessary effect on me and I dully dragged my CD copy from it's hiding place to give it another listen too, and yes I must say that I agree with Needsy, to use the old reggae idiom a crucial release.
The band, as with so many others at the time, were motivated to start their short adventure by the punk movement. Formed by genuine punk legend Don Letts in 1978 the band wasted no time in scoring the prestigious opening spot for Public Images coming out gig at London's Rainbow Theatre on Christmas day of the same year. I am rather ashamed to say that despite being present at the aforementioned gig I have no recollection at all concerning the opening act. Letts did not last and was replaced by Island Records art department employee Dennis Morris, who dully gave up his day job only to have his band signed to Island. This new version of the band entered the studios with Martin Hannett at the controls and laid down the tracks that were to become their sole album '1965-1985', which interestingly enough was preceded by the critically acclaimed dub version of the album called rather disappointingly 'Basement 5 In Dub'. The band had problems keeping a drummer and if rumour is to be believed the skin basher on the album was Charlie Charles on loan from the Blockheads who laid down his contribution in one day! At another period the drum stool had been occupied by Richard Dudanski whose other notable bands were the 101ers and of course Public Image. The album did not sell as well as expected and as with so many other bands before and after them they fell in pieces and were never to deliver a follow up. Denis Morris, who returned to photography after a nervous breakdown, in a rather bitter but droll manner blames their lack of success firmly at the feet of Island who according to him were spending all of their energy on breaking U2. He goes further by saying that after playing together Bono and the boys borrowed various elements from the Basement 5 that helped to contribute to their success! It is somewhat criminal in my mind that there is nothing freely available from the band, despite '1965-1980' being coupled with 'In Dub' for a CD reissue this has long been out of print, so it's happy hunting on E Bay or wherever.
Musically the band were very much at home with the post punk spirit of mix and match experimentalism. They painted a rather bleak landscape both musically and lyrically that could come from no other period than the dismal years of Thatcher's reign. Mixing rock elements with reggae and dub they were one of the bands that broke down the barriers and paved the way for black kids to play rock music. The album's opening track 'Riot' comes over as cross between The Fall, 'My Sharona', 'Riot in Cell Block No.9' and the song that many think inspired it, 'White Riot'. 'No Ball Games' takes it title from the notice that would often be found on public housing estates at the time and does a good job of conjouring up the urban misery of the masses that were doomed to live out lenthy periods of unemployment at such savory places. They also came close to scoring a hit with the punky 'Last White Christmas' I'm never quite sure whether this was tongue in cheek coming from a band that was three quarters back!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Another quick one today as time is not on my side, I've just spent over an hour emptying my mail box, I must have received almost a million junk mails, spam or whatever you want to call it while I was away for the last 10 days, they are still shit and one of the drawbacks about the wonderful web.
One of the things that I like about being on holiday with the family is that we often do a very good job of cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world, no TV, no radio and no newspapers are the general rules, and believe me for a week or two this isn't such a bad thing. What this does mean is that when I get back there is often some catching up to do concerning the big wide world, I can remember a few years back it wasn't until mid January that I learnt of Joe Strummer passing away. And so it was that while driving into work this morning that I was saddened to hear about James Brown, who left for the great gig in the sky over the festive season at the age of 73. Now I'm not going to beat about the bush and pretend what a wonderful human being he was, as this was not the case he was as weak as the majority of us are and had his own personal devils to cope with, wife beating and excessive drug use were amongst his. Personally I think he had big problems coping with the fame that was thrust upon him, I can remember reading an interview with him, probably in the NME, during the eighties, where he came over as being madder than the mad hatter, and that is no mean feat! The was to remember is by listening to his ground breaking music 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag' is probably my favorite studio track that he laid down as for me this was where the bridge was built between a more traditional R 'n' B and the funk that was to move so many peoples feet from the sixties onwards. 'Cold Sweat' is taken from the classic album 'Live at the Apollo pt 1' that was recorded at his home away from home, Harlem NYC. NPR have hefty file of a live recording from the Godfather of soul up for grabs here
, as recorded just under a year before his death at The 9:30 club Washington DC December 2005, don't forget while listening to this that he was already well into his 70's when this was recorded.
May his music live on and give pleasure for many years to come.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Peel Sessions 35
First up I would like to wish each and everyone of you a happy new year, I guess what is really important is your good health and your mutual respect for your fellow beings.
I think the next couple of days are going to be hard going for me, as everyone else is still on holiday in my household, I do hate being the only one that gets up for work! I didn't ski as there was a noticeable lack of the white stuff, only about a third of the slopes were open, though this did not deter the boys who spent their time speeding down to the station on their boards. Never mind for me there should be enough snow during the February break for me to show off my style.
Don't worry I have not forgotten that this is a music blog, and despite today not being Monday, it is the first post of the year and so I thought why not something a little bit special today. I know that I am far from being the only one to appreciate Bill Bragg's voice and guitar, and one of his fans was also John Peel. It was therefore only natural that Billy was present at the gig held to celebrate 40 years of broadcasting by Peel, this event took place at Kings College Students Union in the centre of London on November 24, 2001, and was dully aired a few days later on the radio. Five songs representative of his career played as Billy does best accompanied only by his distinctive voice and unique style of guitar playing, and an introduction from John Peel for your listening pleasure.
2. 'A Lover Sings'
3. 'Milkman Of Human Kindness'
4. 'St Monday'
5. 'She Came Along'
Sorry about the editing as this was how I discovered this on the web some years back, still the music is well worth it.