Monday, 10 June 2019

Drunk With Sadness

I'd like to take a moment to apologise for my ongoing low profile round these parts and more importantly offer genuine, heartfelt gratitude to those who have enquired after my well-being during my absence. The truth of the matter is that after 14 years together, Mrs S and I have separated and I find myself alone, isolated, broken, scared and struggling to function to be quite honest - the black cloud that engulfs me is so dense that it's nigh-on impossible to find a way through. I'm keenly aware that my problems are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things, but currently I'm totally overwhelmed by them.

I bought 'Over' by Peter Hammill in 1977 when I was only 17.  The LP details the breakdown of a relationship in graphic, agonising, intimate detail, something I couldn't even begin to comprehend at such a tender age. It's far from easy listening, but right now every single line of 'This Side of the Looking Glass' rings so true that it's almost as if Hammill is sitting in the corner of the room, watching my suffering and taking notes.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

My Eyes Have Seen the Trolley Bus in 1964

Yer humble author hanging out with Robyn after the show

I know he's already had a lot of love from these pages in recent weeks, but the great Robyn Hitchcock is once again looming large in my mind following Friday night's concert at a tiny Ipswich venue, in front of a sold out audience of just 75 lucky punters.

 '... in 1966, when I was a 13 year old boy listening to Blonde on Blonde, I used to dream of one day wearing a polka-dot shirt, blowing a harmonica and playing a slightly out of tune guitar in front of a small audience somewhere in East Anglia...' (Perfectly timed pause, followed by a big smile) '...and tonight my dream has come true..!' 

In a setlist that delved deep into his vast catalogue, Robyn played a request for me (the frankly magnificent 'Be Still'), another for a mate of mine ('So You Think You're in Love') and concluded his encore with a superb cover of 'Visions of Johanna' - it really doesn't get much better for The Swede than that. Here's a 2017 live clip of the lovely 'Raymond and the Wires', also performed on Friday evening.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Monday Long Song

The familiar version of Sandy Denny's gorgeous 'No End', with a full band and sumptuous string section, was recorded in 1973 and released on her third solo LP, 'Like an Old Fashioned Waltz'. The initial recording of the song, however, featured just Sandy alone at the piano and was made in December 1972 at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall (about a mile from where I and my family then lived). Steel yourself, it's breathtaking.

Sandy Denny - No End

Friday, 3 May 2019

Such a Wonder of Modern Technology

Henry Badowski is a multi- instrumentalist, who released just one album and a handful of singles under his own name, before slipping out of view in 1981. Up to that point he'd played drums, bass or keyboards with a number of punk-related bands such as The Good Missionaries, Chelsea and (the briefly re-named Damned) The Doomed. 

39 years later, I can still recall my initial reaction when I first heard 'My Face'. I became momentarily convinced that Syd Barrett had made a miraculous recovery and had started making records again. Even now, I can appreciate why my youthful imagination made that brief, optimistic leap. 

'My Face' is a great lost single if ever there was one and is probably the song that has featured on more of my own mixtapes/minidiscs/CDRs over the years than any other in my collection.

Henry Badowski - My Face

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Little Walter

That Little Walter was born as Marion Walter Jacobs on May 1st appears to be widely agreed upon, but the actual year in which he arrived is subject to some debate - 1923, 1925, 1928 or 1930, take your pick. What is unarguable is that his innovative, distorted style of playing broadened the accepted scope of blues harmonica, for listeners and fellow musicians alike. What's also unarguable is the fact that he died far too soon - 44, 42, 39 or 37 years of age, depending on which of those birth-dates is the real one. Here's Walter in 1954, with 'Mellow Down Easy', a song written by the great Willie Dixon.

Little Walter - Mellow Down Easy

Monday, 29 April 2019

Monday Long Song

A few weeks back, I shared a Klaus Schulze tune as part of this feature (here). In the accompanying post I reminisced about the youthful hours I spent laying on my best mate's front room carpet, with a speaker either side of my head, as all manner of experimental music washed through my ears. Here's another tune from that period. Much of Edgar Froese's debut solo LP 'Aqua' qualifies as ambient or at the most, gently rhythmic. The exception is 'Panorphelia', which has an unsettlingly dark undercurrent about it that gave me the willies in 1974 - and still does.

Edgar Froese - Panorphelia

Thursday, 25 April 2019

The Listening Project - March

In January, I began to list every album I play in full during 2019. The format is immaterial, LP, CD or Download, as long as the album in question is played in its entirety. If I skip tracks, cherry pick the odd tune or give up part way through, it doesn't go on the list. My aim, as often as possible, is to treat the album as a body of work, old school stylee. 

After managing a total of 58 full albums during February, in March I listened to a mere 30. I played a lot of music, but struggled to fully apply myself fully to the task at hand and found myself flicking around - a couple of tracks from here, a few tracks from there. Must try harder.

A very fine record that has already appeared on a couple of blogs in this little corner of the internet is 'Dusty Notes', the 15th long player by Meat Puppets. Their third release, 1985's 'Up On the Sun', is an all time favourite of mine and in a couple of months I have a firm appointment to catch the band in concert for the first time since 1992. I'm hoping to pick up a physical copy of 'Dusty Notes' at the show.

Chicago Odense Ensemble - s/t (2019) LP 
The Stroppies - Whoosh (2019) LP 
Sleaford Mods - Key Markets (2015) LP 
Brix & the Extricated - Breaking State (2018) LP 
VED - Gershwin's Pipe (2010) LP 
Ashley Hutchings - Son of Morris On (1976) LP 
Frankie & the Witch Fingers - Zam (2019) DL 
The Furrow Collective - Fathoms (2018) CD 
El Guincho - Alegranza (2008) CD 
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (2005) CD 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
The Unthanks – Lines: Parts One, Two & Three (2019) DL 
Greenslade - Spyglass Guest (1974) DL 
Richard Youngs - Red Alphabet in the Snow (2014) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Various Artists - Studio One Scorcher Instrumentals (2002) LP 
The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe (2019) DL 
These New Puritans - Inside the Rose (2019) DL 
Egg - s/t (1970) DL 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
Our Solar System - Origins (2018) LP 
The Del Fuegos - Boston, Mass (1985) LP 
John Coltrane - Ascension (1965) LP 
James Brown - Ain't That a Groove 66-69 (1984) LP 
Paisiel - s/t (2019) LP 
John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, John Surman, Stu Martin, Karl Berger ‎ - Where Fortune Smiles (1971) LP 
Takeshi Inomata & Sound Limited - Innocent Canon (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams - Reprencing (2012) DL 
Anne Briggs - s/t (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Mandatory Reality (2019) LP 

Meat Puppets - Nightcap

Greatest Hits