Thursday, 9 August 2018

Busy Land

Gregorio Vardanega’s Disc and Spherical Construction, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge.

Many thanks to everyone who left birthday greetings for Mrs S last week. We had a fine old time in Cambridge, in spite of the draining 30+° heat. Memo to self though - next time spend a little more money and get a hotel with air-conditioning. As it was, it felt a bit like trying to sleep in a cardboard box stored inside a greenhouse. This week we're back in full-on work mode, then on Saturday I'll be up at the crack of dawn to travel down to London for a precious few days catch-up with the visiting American contingent of the family. Unfortunately Mrs S can't join me on this jaunt as she'll be busy prepping for a forthcoming four day artistic endeavour which commences next Thursday, I'll be returning from London on Wednesday to accompany and assist her. Long story short, my profile round these parts will be even lower than usual for the next couple of weeks. I'll try to schedule another interim post if I get a moment, but if it all goes a bit quiet for a while, you'll know why.

Here's The Soundtrack of Our Lives in 2012 with a corking approximation of the kind of noise Pete, Roger, John & Keith were making circa 1966. 

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Busy Land

Thursday, 2 August 2018

I've Got to Say This, I Hope You Don't Mind

Today is a milestone birthday for Mrs S. She sees it as a very big milestone, though of course from my aged perspective it's just a modest marker in her journey through life. Mrs S is in the middle of a busy series of art related projects at the moment and I've been putting in long hours at work for some months, but to celebrate the occasion, we've taken a brief hiatus from our respective hectic schedules and, as you read this, are in Cambridge, doing cultural stuff and hopefully recharging the batteries.

Here's a song from one of Cambridge's finest sons. For Mrs S, now and always.

Syd Barrett - Two of a Kind

Monday, 30 July 2018

I Suppose the Tedium Must Drive You Mad

The Distractions came together in 1975, though it would be a further 4 years before the band committed any music to vinyl with the 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That' EP on Manchester indie label TJM Records. Side 1 track 1 of that release was the original version of 'It Doesn't Bother Me', a good song in search of a little extra oomph. Things get a bit hazy at this point as The Distractions simultaneously signed to Factory for a one-off single and also to Island Records for a more conventional and comprehensive deal. In the event Island was first out of the traps with a re-recorded, re-arranged stab at 'It Doesn't Bother Me' produced by Jon Astley. This time around the song ticked all the boxes - it's powerpop perfection. 

The Distractions - It Doesn't Bother Me (1978) 

The Distractions - It Doesn't Bother Me (1979)

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

In 1977, for 'Life After Life, Alternative TV's second single on Deptford Fun City Records, the band drafted in a young Jools Holland to provide stabbing soulful counterpoints to the song's reggae soundscape. Mark Perry & co were on an early career roll with the debut 7" 'How Much Longer' preceding it and 'Love Lies Limp', 'Action Time Vision' & 'Life' all following within the next 12 months - classic singles one and all.

Alternative TV - Life After Life 

Alternative TV - Life After Dub

Monday, 23 July 2018

I Can't Complain We Went Down the Drain

There's a new multi-disc PIL retrospective doing the rounds, featuring hits, b-sides, rarities and out-takes from John Lydon's post-Pistols career. I'm pretty sure this won't be on it though. During the 'Flowers of Romance' sessions in 1980, Lydon and Keith Levene were actively involved in the production and recording of tracks by their friend, the journalist Vivien Goldman. The resulting 'Dirty Washing' 12" EP  was issued in America and parts of Europe in April 1981, with a UK 7" release containing two of the three tunes (the third being a dub version) coming later in the Summer. These songs are a must for lovers of that particular strain of scratchy groove based post-punk that runs from The Slits, Raincoats and early PIL through to LoneLady and beyond.

In addition to the PIL factor, 'Launderette' also boasts the violin of Vicky Aspinall from the aforementioned Raincoats, musical maverick Steve Beresford contributes toy piano and percussion comes courtesy of Robert Wyatt, while 'Private Armies' adds a production credit for one Adrian Sherwood. This second tune wasn't so much covered as replicated wholesale by Sherwood and used as the closing track on the debut LP by New Age Steppers, which was also released in that heady year of 1981.

Vivien Goldman - Launderette 

Vivien Goldman - Private Armies 

New Age Steppers - Private Armies

Monday, 16 July 2018

Clear Spot

Clear Spot were a short-lived instrumental combo comprising drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig from My Bloody Valentine, guitarist Simon Johns of Stereolab and future Heliocentrics member Mike Burnham on keyboards. In 1998 the trio released their one and only 7" single on Stereolab's Duophonic label, the rather fab 'Moonman Bop'.

Clear Spot - Moonman Bop

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

All That Jazz #7 - Sonny Red

Large swaths Blue Note's legendary back catalogue were re-issued as part of a deal with EMI in the mid-1980s. The label's roster seemed an endless parade of wonderfulness to me. Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith, the list went on and on and, working in a record shop, I was in the fortunate position of having access to many of the gems on offer.

A lesser known LP that I discovered sandwiched among the jazz giants in the reissue programme, was 'Out of the Blue' by saxophonist Sonny Red. Originally issued in 1960, it features Miles Davis alumni Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers among the backing musicians. Biographical details are scarce, but later in the 1960s Sonny played extensively as a sideman for trumpeter Donald Byrd and eventually drifted into obscurity after releasing a final, self-titled, LP in 1971.

Sonny Red passed away 37 years ago at the age of 48, leaving 'Out of the Blue' as his only Blue Note LP as a band leader. Here's the very cool 'Bluesville'.

Sonny Red - Bluesville

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