Thursday, 30 May 2013

Communication Breakdown

Apologies to fellow bloggers through whose pages I usually meander, but my laptop has unexpectedly taken a vow of silence and so I'm temporarily unable to listen to any of the tunes posted therein. I'm not tech savvy, so I don't know if it's the speakers that are at fault, the soundcard or, most likely of all, something stupid I've done, but hopefully I'll get it sorted before the weekend and be back catching up on missed posts and leaving my usual witty, incisive comments before you know it!

Meanwhile, this enforced period of radio silence is allowing me time to dig deep into my record & CD collections in a concerted effort to slim down the quantity and overall weight of my lifelong habit - floor space and ceiling strength being among our chief concerns at the moment.

Here's 'Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden (And It's Wintertime)' by The Dentists, a gently psychedelic pop gem from 1985 and a single that I wouldn't dream of parting with.


Monday, 27 May 2013

Siouxsie Sioux at 56

It's my age I know, but whenever Savages are played on 6Music (and with the recent release of their debut album, they've been played a lot) I turn to Mrs S and say...'this is a splendid racket, but it don't arf sound like Siouxsie & the Banshees in places...' Or words to that effect.

Today, however, to mark Siouxsie's 56th birthday, Tom Ravenscroft played a session version of the fantastic 'Placebo Effect' from 'Join Hands' by yer actual Banshees. It sounded magnificent coming out of the radio. To continue the celebrations, here's another corker from Bromley's finest.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Version City #11 - Mark Lanegan sings Gene Clark

A tweet from the venerable Sid Griffin, reminds me that May 24th 2013 was not only the 72nd birthday of Bob Dylan, but also the 22nd anniversary of Gene Clark's death. In his tweet, Sid also mentions 'Some Misunderstanding', a sublime song from Gene's masterpiece, 1974's 'No Other', which in turn got me thinking about a terrific interpretation of that song by Soulsavers, fronted by Mark Lanegan. Soulsavers have released four long-players to date, two of which feature Lanegan extensively - 2007's 'It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land' and 2009's 'Broken', from where this version is taken.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Happy Birthday Bob!

Whether it's your 1st Bob Dylan concert or your 1001st, the chances are that by the time you enter the venue, you'll have a wish-list of songs you'd like to hear performed that night. It might be a great version of a favourite 'classic' from his catalogue that you're hoping for, or perhaps your fingers are crossed for a dusted off obscurity or rarely played gem. I, like many, have a wish-list of unlikely suspects as long as my arm - 'Dirt Road Blues' and 'New Pony' have been fairly high on it for years.

If we're talking unlikely scenarios, however, how about this? Bob and the band stand to receive their applause after the concluding blast of 'Thin Man', 'Watchtower' or 'Rolling Stone' and begin to file off the stage. Bob pauses, walks back to his keyboard and, alone in the spotlight, digs deep and gives us this.


Ah well, a man can dream can't he?

Many happy returns of the day Bob.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman is an author, humanitarian, tequila baron, gubernatorial candidate, irreverent raconteur, Peace Corps veteran, cigar smoker, animal rescuer, country singer, fellow coffee lover and a man who can count among his friends such luminaries as Bill Clinton, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and (slightly unfathomably) George W Bush. 

I'm currently engaged on a project that I've been meaning to undertake for several years, namely to re-read all 19 of Kinky's mystery novels in sequential order. In all but one of these, the star of the tale is a fictionalised version of the Kinkster himself, aided and abetted by the Village Irregulars, characters based on a loose group of his real-life friends and acquaintances. The books are engaging, laugh-out-loud funny and extremely moving. Kinky has the enviable talent of having the reader sniggering on one page, before bringing them up short on the next, with a touching one-sided conversation with his cat or a real-life memory of a loved one who has been 'bugeled to Jesus'.

Some Texan advice from the Kinkster

In 2003 I attended a book reading by the Kinkster in New York, where he was launching 'Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned', the one novel in which his own character is not featured, although the narrator's voice is still very much Kinky's. After the event I was lucky enough to meet the man himself, along with his fictional sidekick, real-life friend and fellow author, Larry 'Ratso' Sloman.

A couple of weeks ago I renewed my acquaintance with The Kinkster, when I caught a great show on his solo UK tour. Kinky effectively abandoned songwriting at the end of the 1970's, but still takes his songs out on the road from time to time and bolstered with readings, wry observations and the occasional wince-inducing joke it makes for a hugely entertaining evening.

Leading with the campaign slogan 'Why the Hell Not?', Friedman unsuccessfully ran for the office of Governor of Texas in 2006 and is currently gearing up for another run at the post. Meanwhile 'Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned' is being developed as a potential movie and, excitingly, rumour has it that a new Kinky Friedman mystery novel is on the horizon - the first since he killed his fictional self off in 2005's 'Ten Little New Yorkers'! And me? I'm currently re-reading 1989's 'Frequent Flyer', book 4 out of 19. A long way to go, but enjoying every minute.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Smiley Smile

Technology, in the right hands, can sometimes provide such innocent fun.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Steve Martland

Towards the end of the 1980's, Factory Records launched a classical music label with a handful of albums, which I dutifully stocked in my shop in order to support this interesting venture. Among the initial batch was an album by the, then, 30 year old English composer Steve Martland. I immediately found Martland's music recognisable and understandable to my predominantly rock mindset and went on to purchase a number of his subsequent releases.

Listening to the radio yesterday afternoon, it came as something of a jolt to learn in passing that Steve Martland died in his sleep last week, at the age of just 53. I immediately reached for a couple of those early albums and was gratified to hear that they remain as vibrant and powerful as ever.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Stevie and the Breadwinners

Here's a lost treasure from the Black Ark, dating back to the late 1970's.....hold it, hold it.....rewind selector. I cannot tell a lie, this very fine tune actually eminates from a group of musicians based in Manchester and was recorded at The Bakery Studio in Stockport circa 2013. Would you adam & eve it?


The Breadwinners, lead by Alan Redfern, appear to be the studio's house band and on 'Pass It To You' they accompany Stevie, about whom, regretfully, I can tell you nothing. Check out several more remarkable recordings from The Bakery here.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Milo Greene

California's Milo Greene (a band, not a person) describe their music as cinematic pop - impossible to argue with after after taking in the Chad Huff directed, 'Moddison', which features video's for the band's songs, thematically linked to create an utterly captivating short film.

Milo Greene's self-titled debut album, released in the UK in January, is quite magnificent. Set aside 37 minutes of your day and get a load of this.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Died Pretty

On my regular journeys up and along the A12, A14, A140 and M11 in the 1980's, travelling to concerts in London and the East of England, my one constant companion in the car would be a little portable cassette player. My old Vauxhall Viva had a radio, so I could at least listen to Peel when he was on, but otherwise radio programming in those pre-XFM/6Music dark ages could be a grim affair, particularly on the journey home in the wee small hours of the morning. So, with new batteries installed for the trip, I would head out on the highway with a miniature ghetto-blaster (affectionately dubbed the gateau-blaster) and a multi-volume series of carefully crafted, home-made, car-tapes I dubbed 'Out of the Unknown'. The title, 'Out of the Unknown', derives from the 1984 debut single by Australian band, Died Pretty. The song was never far from my ears, heart or compilation tapes at the time and it remains a stirring psychedelic masterpiece, dominated by Brett Myers' wailing guitar. Terrific stuff.

I saw Died Pretty in concert on just one occasion, in a support slot at Brixton Academy in the mid-1990's. I think I was the only non-Australian down at the front for their set. The band were tremendous that night, but, to my disappointment, they didn't play this song. Later, in 1999, they released a compilation album entitled 'Out of the Unknown – The Best of Died Pretty', which, though packed with great tunes, bafflingly failed to include the title track! Perhaps by then Died Pretty had grown tired of that debut single. I never have.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Version City #10 - Pat Kelly

'Try to Remember' is a song from a musical, 'The Fantasticks', originally performed by Jerry Orbach in an off-Broadway production of the show in 1960 and thereafter covered many times in subsequent years.

Here's a bright 'n' breezy rocksteady treatment by Pat Kelly (often spelt Kelley), which appeared on the b-side of his 1969 single, 'How Long Will It Take?' I've had a scratchy copy of this 7" since the late 1970's, but on Sunday I was lucky enough to pick up an upgrade from a local car-boot sale for just 30p - good times!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Looking Through the Window

Something strange is going on around here. Our house has suddenly become a magnet for birds and I don't mean the general area, I'm talking about the building itself. Over the last week we've had a tit and two robins standing on the back door handle while tapping on the glass, and today, as I sat at my computer, I had a sparrow tapping at the window to my right and two collared-doves standing looking at me on the window sill to my left. Here's one of them.


Even as I type these words, another sparrow has appeared and is tapping on the pane to my left. What's going on? Mrs S brought me an adhesive window bird feeder for my birthday, which is currently sitting on the table waiting to be attached to the outside one of these very windows. Perhaps word has got out and the locals are becoming impatient.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Saturday Scratch #24

Here's The Mighty Diamonds with their 1974 lament for lost love, 'Talk About It', together with a sweet version featuring Lee Perry's children, Marsha and Omar, chanting hypnotically over the rhythm.


Later that year, Scratch re-used the same rhythm for U-Roy's 'Yama Khy' and was clearly pleased with the efforts of his offspring, placing them high in the mix.


Previously on Saturday Scratch

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