Thursday, 3 September 2015

Why Did the Slug Cross the Road?

It's a good question and one I've asked myself several times over the past week or so. Coinciding with the recent burst of damp weather, I've noticed huge numbers of slugs crossing pavements and roads, presumably to get to the other side. But why do they leave perfectly functional fields and gardens to cross a road, thus risking a splatty death, just to get to another identical field or garden? I dunno, but when I'm out walking up and down local country lanes I do my best to avoid flattening them. Cars are less careful.

Slug, the musical project as opposed to the slimy creature, is the brainchild of Field Music alumnus Ian Black, indeed his former bosses, the Brewis brothers, lend their considerable talents to the debut LP, 'Ripe'. 'Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic' was the first taste we got of Slug, at the tail end of last year. The song boasts a very catchy chorus, but it's a bugger to sing along with.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Bob Bob Robyn Along

Following Charity Chic's recent post devoted to firm favourite of this parish Robyn Hitchcock (here), things have been even more Robyn-centric than usual here at Swede Towers. I had a little wobble a couple of days ago though, when Hitchcock announced a short UK tour in late October. My instant fear was that any local date might coincide with one of the pair of Bob Dylan Royal Albert Hall shows that I already have tickets for during the same period. To my huge relief, Robyn's gig in Norwich comes the night after my two consecutive Royal Albert Hall extravaganzas. Perfect.

In May 1996, I was fortunate to be in the audience at the Borderline in London when Hitchcock and a fine group of musical accomplaces lovingly recreated Bob Dylan's legendary Manchester Free Trade Hall concert that had taken place exactly 30 years earlier. A wag at the back of the room even shouted 'Judas', right on cue, just as the band were easing into 'Like a Rolling Stone'. Much of this gig was later included on the double album of Dylan covers, 'Robyn Sings', issued in 2002. Who knows, maybe Hitchcock will drop a Dylan nugget or two into his sets this Autumn, as a nod to Bob's concurrent UK visit.

I've featured two of my personal favourite Robyn Hitchcock songs in previous posts (here and here) and if he were to play either of those tunes in Norwich in October, I'd be happy as Larry. However his repertoire is vast and his set lists ever changing, so here are a couple more that are on my wish list. The latter, 'One Long Pair of Eyes' contains the quitessential Hitchcock couplet, "Doctor doctor, I'm on fire!', 'Oh I'm sad to hear that squire - we're closing". Genius.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Stephanie Hladowski and C Joynes

In 2012, Cambridge based guitar maverick C Joynes collaborated with vocalist Stephanie Hladowski to create 'The Wild Wild Berry', an album of traditional songs selected from archive recordings at Cecil Sharp House. It's an extraordinary record, nowhere more so than on the stark and beautiful closing track 'Died For Love', based on a 1975 performance by Jasper Smith. I'll return to the remarkable C Joynes in the future, but in the meantime, if you enjoyed this taster, you can hear the whole of 'The Wild Wild Berry' here.

As a bonus, this is the live debut of the song, if anything even more moving than than its studio counterpart.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Version City #45 - Hyde & Beast sing Zoo

Dave Hyde (from Futureheads) and Neil Bassett (formally of Golden Virgins) return with the 'Hard Times Good Times EP', which follows 2014's 'Keep Moving', the second long player released in their guise as Hyde & Beast. The EP leads off with a throbbing, groove-tastic cover of the title track from (French Jazz Rock band) Zoo's third and final LP, issued in 1972. Zoo also released an earlier, less polished take as a single in 1971, which is the version I've included here, to compare and contrast.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Down in Front!

Anyone who's been to a gig in the last 15 years will be familiar with the irritation/anger/fury caused by fellow audience members who attempt to record all or part of the event on their mobile phones. Over time, I've grown reluctantly accustomed to bobbing and weaving my way through an evening, in an effort to catch a clear view of the stage through the sea of up-stretched arms. In one tiny venue a couple of years ago, I actually watched a long stretch of Courtney Barnett's set through an iPad (an iPad!) that was being held aloft by someone standing directly in front of me!

In another lifetime, I'm afraid I too was briefly guilty of straying into other people's sightlines, as I did my best to capture live snapshots for a fanzine my pal and I were busy dreaming up. All this was back at the dawn of the 1980's. Nothing ever came of the fanzine, or the photos. Until now.

Gang of Four in 1981, photographed by Yours Truly

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Version City #44 - Choir! Choir! Choir! sing The Clash

Based in Toronto, Choir! Choir! Choir! is a twice weekly gathering of musically open-minded people who just love to sing. In their 4 year history they've tackled songs by a wide variety of artists, such as Big Star, Haddaway, Fleetwood Mac, Sex Pistols, The Muppets, Wilco, Pink Floyd and dozens of others (see here for a full list) in addition to performing in concert with Patti Smith and Tegan & Sara.

There's a whole host of Choir! Choir! Choir! performances available to check out on their YouTube channel (here). Their stirring interpretation of 'London Calling' had the hairs on the back of this old Clash fan's neck standing to attention.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


We've returned from a lovely few days of grazing our way around London with the US branch of the family - and a fine old time was had by all. Back at HQ there is much catching up to be done - posts to be read, music to be heard and, yes, a new laptop to be unwrapped and understood. This could take a while. 

Nestling in my in-box upon my return was 'Drumside Part 1' by Rodinia, an extract from a new LP, 'Drumside/Dreamside', due for release on Now-Again Records in late September. Rodinia is a collaboration between multi-instumentalists, Jay Whitefield (who I know best from his work with Karl Hector & The Malcouns) and Johannes Schleiermacher from the Woima Collective. They're tagging the music they make 'Ambient Krautrock' - and why not? I like this preview a lot and I'm looking forward to hearing the whole thing.

Read all about it here.

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