Friday, 6 December 2019

Version City #73 - Alasdair Roberts sings Ivor Cutler


It's Clacton-On-Sea in 1966. The two kids in the front are a blur of larkingaboutness, much as you'd expect. The one on the right is taking a good look over the side, perhaps trying to figure out how it is that the little boat he's in keeps j-u-s-t missing that concrete wall as it goes round and round and round. The hilariously intense figure in the back seat? Yes, that's me, concentrating as if my life depended upon it. I'm not quite sure why. Did I really think I was steering the damned thing? Possibly.

Alasdair Roberts - I Had a Little Boat

Ivor Cutler - I Had a Little Boat (Peel Session)

Monday, 2 December 2019

Monday Long Song / Red Gold & Green #33

It's Monday morning, the sun is out, my washing is steaming on the line in the garden and I've just flipped open my laptop for the first time in over a week. Christmas, for those of us working in retail, has well and truly commenced. I made it clear some time ago to those in charge that throughout the festive period I'll be available for every shift going - and they have pretty much taken me to my word. I'm happy with that. I know that the overtime board will be a barren wasteland come January and February, so I'm making hay while the sun shines. Also, I'm saving up for a bit of an adventure in April, so, y'know, every little helps. Today, though, I have a day off. A chance to do my washing, to take a long walk and, most importantly, to have a proper listen to the little pile of new records that the postman has been dropping off just lately. First though, an unhurried breakfast (pictured) and an appropriately titled tune from Birmingham's Carnastoan, the b-side of their one and only 12" single, released in 1981.

Carnastoan - Mr Workhard

Monday, 18 November 2019

Monday Long Song


Although not necessarily my usual area of musical interest, the steady flow of early releases on the Mo'Wax label certainly made my ears prick up back in the day. 12" singles from the likes of Palm Skin Productions, Attica Blues and DJs Shadow & Krush all found favour in my neck of the woods. Then came the 'Headz' compilation, which ended up being something of an in-house favourite in my shop in and around 1994. The initial double CD / triple LP set rounded up 18 waifs, strays and otherwise unavailable singles, eventually spawning two sequels. Here's a tune from the first volume to which I was, and remain, particularly partial. 'Symmetrical Jazz' is the only track Saleem Andrew McGroarty ever put out under the Awunsound moniker, although he still appears to be actively involved in the music scene in various capacities to this day.

Awunsound - Symmetrical Jazz (Flapper Till 5AM Mix)

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

After Years of Wait and Worry

Sid Griffin onstage in Cambridge, as seen through the lens of yours truly. Quite proud of this one.

Between 1984 and 1987 me and my regular gig-going buddy would make it our business to be at every Long Ryders concert that took place anywhere near our part of the world. We travelled many miles, caught many shows and then, after three albums, they were gone. The band reconvened briefly for the State of Our Reunion tour in 2004, before melting away for a further five years. Then, in 2014 Sid, Tom, Greg and Stephen came together once again for a more intensive period of touring, which eventually led to the recording of a fine new LP, 'Psychedelic Country Soul', their first in over 30 years.

I caught a Long Ryders gig in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, my first since 1987. A little greyer of hair and wider of girth........but enough about the audience! The band played out of their skins, mixing a healthy dose of new material with a clutch of long time fan favourites, before coming out to press the flesh with us after the show. The years fell away.

This gentle Tom Stevens tune is Sid's favourite from the new LP.

The Long Ryders - Bells of August

Monday, 11 November 2019

Monday Long Song


To coincide with the release of 'Hårt Som Ben', their second LP of 2019, the mighty Kungens Män will be undertaking a short UK tour in December. I've featured the band (plus offshoots and side projects) several times in the past, but have not been lucky enough to see them play live - until now. To say that I'm excited at the prospect would be to understate the case to a frankly laughable degree. I'm beside myself and the show is still nearly a month in the future. It's a 3½ hour round trip to the venue, immediately following a 6am-3pm shift at work, but I can't think of a better way to conclude my gig-going year. Expect further ravings in due course.

'Undre Inre Yttre Rymden' (translates as 'Lower Inner Outer Space') is taken from the 2016 Kungens Män LP 'Stockholm Maraton'.


Kungens Män - Undre Inre Yttre Rymden

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

And I Remember More Than I Can Tell

Kimberly, Robyn, Ruby and Morris onstage at the Union Chapel (Photo by yours truly)

Sometimes, we can take our favourite artists for granted and almost overlook what made us fall in love with them in the first place. Last week I was reminded in no uncertain terms why Robyn Hitchcock holds such a special place in my heart, when I caught two successive shows on his current UK tour. The first, in a modern, rather atmosphereless space in his old home town of Cambridge, a totally solo affair, kicked off with 'Tonight' and 'Queen of Eyes', Soft Boys classics written within a short distance of where we were sitting. The set then took a stroll through Robyn's vast back catalogue from the very old (and extremely obscure) 'Stranded in the Future' up to his current 7" single ('...not available in any record shop...') 'Sunday Never Comes', a song I'll admit took me a little while to get to grips with on initial release, but which I now recognise to be a thing of exquisite beauty. His interstitial meanderings were as entertaining as always. '...sorry about the slight roughness of my voice, I ate rather a lot of cheese before I came on stage which has left me with a dry throat...' I'm particularly indebted to the punter towards the front of the audience who shouted a request for 'The Speed of Things' during the encore. It's a personal favourite and one I'd not seen Robyn perform previously.

In contrast to the soulless Cambridge room, the Union Chapel in London is a beautiful 19th century building which hosted a truly memorable show on Tuesday evening, where Robyn was joined by fellow former fellow Soft Boys Kimberly Rew and Morris Windsor, along with Robyn's niece Ruby Wright on musical saw and backing vocals. The setlist, long and eclectic, featured a clutch of Soft Boys nuggets as you might imagine, though not necessarily the anticipated heavy hitters. '(I Want to be an) Anglepoise Lamp', 'The Face of Death' and 'Human Music' all got an airing, as well as solo rarities 'Uncorrected Personality Traits', 'Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus' and 'Flavour of Night'. It was a fabulous night. Robyn was on fire, sculpting a setlist to die for and flooring us between songs with a series of unique stream of consciousness ramblings. A number of fans from the online Hitchcock community who've seen the great man in concert many more times than me, have lauded the gig as among the best they can remember.

Even if you're not already a fan, I'd recommend catching a Robyn Hitchcock concert if he pitches up in your part of the world anytime soon. I guarantee that you'll come away having been royally entertained and feeling totally besotted. (A sidebar to the Scottish contingent of our little corner of the internet: Robyn is back in the UK to play Glasgow's Celtic Connections on January 26th - put it in your diaries!) I'll leave you with the 1986 original of another highlight from the Union Chapel show.

Robyn Hitchcock - Winchester

Monday, 4 November 2019

Monday Long Song


I'm back to work and back to reality following a very busy break, during which I managed to squeeze in six concerts. More of all that in due course. I also picked up a few slabs o'wax on my travels, including the 2015 self-titled debut by Japanese krautrock aficionados Minami Deutsch. Some of you may remember that the band's fantastic second LP, 'With Dim Light', was among my favourite releases of 2018, so it was nice to finally get my grubby paws on a physical copy of this one too. The sticker on the cover tells you all you need to know.

'...featuring an endless motorik beat from beginning to the end...best suited for driving into tunnels, midnight walks or any repetitive activities...'

Minami Deutsch - Sunrise, Sunset

Greatest Hits