Wednesday, 18 September 2019

A Hip Philosophy

'Old Liquidator', the debut LP by American alternative supergroup The Minus 5, was recorded and released in 1995 during an unplanned hiatus in REM's 'Monster' tour following Bill Berry's brain aneurysm. Core members Peter Buck, Scott McGaughy of The Young Fresh Fellows and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies were joined on the album by Chris & Carla from The Walkabouts, Terry & Tom from NRBQ and a second Posie, John Auer.

Imagine Bob Dylan produced by George Martin circa 'I Am the Walrus' and you'll be somewhere near 'Story', track 8 on the LP. Frustratingly the album version fades out seconds before the song's actual conclusion, but fortunately a few months later an alternative (and complete) mix of 'Story' appeared on the 'Emperor of the Bathroom' EP.

The Minus 5 - Story (alt mix)

Monday, 16 September 2019

Monday Long Song(s)

Friday evening front row view

After managing, one way or another, to miss Soft Machine in concert for the entire first half-century of their existence, I'm now playing a belated game of catch-up having seen them twice in the past nine months, most recently last Friday evening at a venue just eight miles up the road from my house. Between tunes, guitar virtuoso John Etheridge mused on the band's long history, it's legacy, illustrious former members and, crucially, the precise nature of their genre - '...Jazz-rock? Prog-rock? Jazz-prog?...'

The original recordings of 'The Tale of Taliesin' and 'Hidden Details' are separated by 42 years, yet feature three of the same personnel - Etheridge (now aged 71) drummer John Marshall (78) and bassist Roy Babbington (79). The current line-up is completed by 55 year-old multi-instrumental whippersnapper Theo Travis, who has played with the band for a mere 13 years, while somehow also maintaining both a solo career and one as a sideman for artists such as King Crimson, David Gilmour, David Sylvian and Steven Wilson. Soft Machine ripped into both of these tunes and many others on Friday evening with all the thrilling inventiveness and attack of players a fraction of their respective ages. It really was a terrific show.

Soft Machine - The Tale of Taliesin (1976)

Soft Machine - Hidden Details (2018)

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Monday, 9 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Faust's self-titled 1971 debut contains more musical ideas than you can shake a stick at and is quite the 34 minute sonic adventure. What it isn't though, is anything approaching an easy listen. The following year the band returned with their second LP, 'So Far'.  The record finds Faust still quirky, challenging and wildly experimental, but this time a tad more accessible. 'Its A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl' opens proceedings and is a particular favourite of noted Krautrock authority Julian Cope.

Faust - It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl

Friday, 6 September 2019

Alden, Patterson and Dashwood

Throughout the 1990s, the Cambridge Folk Festival weekend became an excuse for me and a buddy to drink too much, talk nonsense and listen to some great music for 3 or 4 days and nights every year. I've attended the odd festival since then, but it's been a very long time since since I've tried kipping outdoors on the cold ground. This year, that same buddy came to my emotional rescue and offered me his spare ticket for Folk East. So it was that in the middle of August I spent a weekend under canvas, camping at a Folk Festival for the first time in a decade and a half. My buddy and I drank too much, talked nonsense and listened to some great music for 4 days and nights. It was just like old times and, not to put too fine a point on it, just what the doctor ordered. The highlight of the weekend was a set by the always magnificent Alden, Patterson and Dashwood. With an effortless fusing of traditional music from both sides of the Atlantic, harmonies to die for and a selection of superb self-penned songs, it's an absolute bewilderment to me that they're not internationally celebrated. If they turn up in your neck of the woods you'd be a fool to miss out. Check out their two cracking albums here.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Mark Nelson has been recording experimental electronic music under the Pan•American moniker since 1997, at which time his actual day job was as one third of Virginian post-rock combo Labradford. This original version of 'Both Ends Fixed' appeared on a split 12" with Janek Schaefer in 1998 - and it's a gorgeously languid, reflective piece. The tune was later reworked and found a home as the closing cut on the Pan•American double LP '360 Business / 360 Bypass' in 2000. Check out more of Mark's music here.

Pan•American - Both Ends Fixed

Monday, 26 August 2019

Monday Long Song

A couple of months ago I drove 15 miles into the heart of the Suffolk countryside for an unforgettable evening of music in the atmospheric 16th century chapel at Walpole. Laura Cannell’s ongoing Modern Ritual series is '..ancient, modern, experimental, real, fictional, personal & folkloric and has become a unique platform for premiering works from outside of the contemporary mainstream.' The Walpole concert was the 12th in the series, featuring performances from Osita, Polly Wright and Laura herself. The marriage of venue and music could not have been more perfect. Laura Cannell is about as local an artist to me as it's possible to be. She's released two quite differing albums this year, both recorded in a 13th century church less than 3 miles from this house. The first of them, 'The Sky Untuned', was released in April and sits among my favourites of 2019 so far.

Laura Cannell - Flaming Torches

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

My Words Just Fail

There's been a lot of stuff going on lately, some happy stuff, some sad stuff and I'll get back to all that in due course with any luck. Right at this moment though, at the very moment I'm typing these words on Wednesday morning, in a hospital somewhere in Essex, one of the few close friends I have is on an operating table undergoing open heart surgery following a sudden illness and a period in a medically induced coma. The rest of us are left reeling at this sudden and terrifying turn of events and send out all our love to his wife and family. All we can do is sit and wait for news.

Inevitably, I find myself sifting through memories of our 40 year friendship in search of any excuse to smile and my mind comes to rest on my 23rd birthday party, a surprise bash thrown for me by the gang. It was a long and glorious evening, one of the oft-recalled highlights being my mate's uncharacteristic 6 minute wig-out to the 12" mix of The Jam's 'Precious'. As soon as the tune started he stood up from the table where we were all eating a meal and spontaneously went for it, big style - totally on his own. Shapes were thrown and the rug was cut - he was a veritable one man Pan's People. At the song's conclusion he simply pulled his chair in and plonked himself back down at the table, leaving us all in a state of slack-jawed hysterics. It's one of those 'you had to be there' memories that still gets pulled out from time to time, on the all-too-rare occasions a few of the old gang find ourselves in the same room. I look forward to chuckling about it again with him soon.

The Jam - Precious (12")

Monday, 19 August 2019

Monday Long Song

In the unlikely event that a modest windfall should come my way anytime soon, I'd give serious consideration to shelling out for the 22 CD Steve Hillage box set, 'Searching For the Spark'. I was a massive fan of Hillage's early solo albums in my teens and have been steadily reacquainting myself with his work, as well as that of many of his Canterbury scene alumni, over the past few years. In addition to compiling his own humongous career retrospective, Hillage has also found time to curate the forthcoming 13 disc Gong set, 'Love From Planet Gong, The Virgin Years 1973-1975' - another one to go onto my never-ending wish list.

Here's 'The Glorious OM Riff', the closing cut from Steve's 4th solo album 'Green', released in 1978. The tune incorporates musical elements previously explored on Gong's 'Master Builder', from their 1974 LP 'You' and therefore his former band-mates share a writing credit.

Steve Hillage - The Glorious OM Riff

Monday, 12 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Ochno Ochno? Sorry, I have absolutely no information on these guys, other than the fact that they are (or perhaps were) a Swedish band, whose sole musical contribution to the world appears to have been an eyewateringly limited, self-titled cassette only release on the Ljudkassett label in 2016. 'Feberdrömmar' translates as 'Fever Dream' and the tune certainly has an unsettling air about it, particularly that haunting coda.

Ochno Ochno - Feberdrömmar

Monday, 5 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Before it came the 'Brassic Beats Vol.1' compilation and Fatboy Slim's debut 'Better Living Through Chemistry'. 'Brassic Beats Vol.2' and the first Bentley Rhythm Ace LP immediately followed it. Sandwiched in the middle of this genre defining flurry of beat beat cacophony from Skint Records, was the virtually subterranean 'One' by Brighton graffiti artist Req. Whilst some of the stuff around it may now sound a little of its time, 'One' is still every bit as odd and unsettling as it was when I played it on a daily basis in my shop throughout 1997 and 1998.

Req - Rain

Friday, 2 August 2019

Gonna Have a Party

In this photo, taken in our Walthamstow back garden in 1961, I'm the rather confused looking one year-old being held in the arms of my aunt, who, with her husband, lived upstairs from Mum, Dad & I until 1972. My cousin, who now lives in New York with her own husband and three grown-up kids, joined the household in 1963. In those crucial early years, my cousin and I grew up like sister and brother, with each of us having the benefit of an extra set of parents on call whenever we needed them.

My uncle died suddenly in 1978, when my cousin was only 15, so, tragically, he was unable to enjoy any of her great academic achievements or meet her wonderful family. My aunt still lives alone in the East Ham house they all briefly shared together. Tomorrow it's her 90th birthday and my cousin has arranged for surviving friends and family to celebrate the milestone on Sunday afternoon with a party in the function room of a nearby pub.

My cousin arranged similar celebrations for her mum's 70th, 80th and 85th birthdays, so the tradition is well established, albeit with a smaller attendance and noticeably frailer attendees each time. After work tomorrow, I'll travel down to London to join my aunt and her friends for her latest knees-up. In the couple of days that follow, my cousin and I will hang out, catch up and no doubt start making tentative plans for her mum's 95th in 2024.

Stray - Gonna Have a Party

Monday, 29 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Here's a slice of golden age prog from If's second LP, released in December 1970, just three months after their debut. The band featured the saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who would not only go on find success in the 1980s as half of Morrissey-Mullen, but also as a session player on a multitude of famous recordings by other artists - there's a fighting chance that you have something by him in your collection. That's him on 'The Love Theme From Bladerunner' and on Style Council's 'Confessions of a Pop Group and on 'Press to Play' by Paul McCartney and on Orange Juice's 'Rip it Up' and on Peter Gabriel's third self-titled LP.

If - I Couldn't Write and Tell You

Monday, 22 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Time for writing is short, but fortunately this week's tune is long, and magnificent. It's recently been noted elsewhere what a very good year for music 1981 was. Produced by Martin Hannett, 'The Presence' is not only Crispy Ambulance's finest 13 minutes, but, in my opinion, is up there with the finest music to emerge from anyone in 1981.

Crispy Ambulance - The Presence

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Red Gold & Green #32 - 50 Years Ago Today

I was 9 years old in July of 1969, the perfect age to be captivated and obsessed by all things space travel related. Unfortunately my parents didn't think I was quite old enough to stay up into the wee small hours to watch Neil and Buzz taking mans first steps on the moon, Dad did though and took a series of grainy photos of the TV screen to prove it. Those old photos are in a box somewhere in this house. Also in a box, I hope, is a handwritten and drawn school project entitled 'Space and Space Travel', created by yours truly in 1970 or thereabouts. If I'd have had my wits about me I would've located it long ago and shared it with you today - some other time perhaps.

Here's an aptly titled Bunny Lee production, released in 1969 by Derrick Morgan, who, after periods of ill heath, is still going strong at 79. This one's for Neil, Buzz, Micheal and Dad.

Derrick Morgan - Man Pon Moon 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

This Is My Home, The Place Where I'm Lonely

A photo of Swede Towers taken in the late 1800s

It's been a long stretch - two six day working weeks followed by a seven day one. Keeping mind and body busy is definitely a good thing for me at the moment and the exhaustion guarantees I get at least a few hours sleep each night. It's the coming home from work that's the difficult part though. The house is quiet and empty and the person I want be in it with is no longer here. I'm trying not to rush into anything, but I need to decide what my next move, if any, is going to be. Do I stay in a house that I love, is bought and paid for, but is full of memories and too big for my needs, or sell-up, downsize and take a chance somewhere else?

Husky Rescue - My Home Ghost

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Red Gold & Green #31 - Ken Boothe

Still working at the age of 71, Ken Boothe is probably best known to the world at large for his cover of Bread's 'Everything I Own', which reached the UK Number 1 spot for three weeks in October 1974. To quote Joe Strummer in '(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais', '...Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae...'. Boothe's career, however, stretches back to the late 1950s, with his first recordings appearing as part of a duo with Stranger Cole in 1963. His solo career began in earnest in 1966 with a series of ska and rocksteady tunes for legendary producers such as Leslie Kong, Sonia Pottinger and Phil Pratt. Boothe also recorded for Coxone Dodd's Studio One label and here he is on that very imprint in 1968, with his superb rocksteady reworking of a song written and recorded the previous year by another Ken, UK entertainer Kenny Lynch.

Ken Boothe - Moving Away

Monday, 8 July 2019

Monday Long Song

The catalogue of the splendidly monikered Dire Wolves (Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band) is deep and daunting, featuring as it does a large number of bafflingly obscure cassette releases on a multitude of different labels, going back to 2009. I'm sure I'm not alone in hoping for some form of more readily available reissue program in the not too distant future. Fortunately, over the past couple of years, the band has begun to put out some of their new music on vinyl, although other limited releases continue to appear alongside these 'official' recordings. Long story short - it's confusing. What isn't confusing, or daunting, is the quality of the band's output. 2017's 'Excursions to Cloudland' , a masterpiece of cosmic freakoutery, has recently been joined by its far-out follow up on Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, 'Grow Towards the Light'.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Monday Long Song

Who amongst us hasn't, at one time or another, wondered how a two minute Ramones classic would sound if stretched out to over 10 minutes by a contemporary Kentucky based Krautrock band? I know I have. Wonder no more. Step forward Verstärker with the frankly remarkable opening salvo from a 2017 various artists tribute album, 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, A Ramones Reverence'. (Check out more music from the band here).

Verstärker - (Hallo) Commando

Thursday, 27 June 2019

When the Family Flies In

Caped crusaders - my cousin and I in 1965

24 hours before my cousin, her husband and three kids were due to fly into London from NYC to visit her mum (one of the two elderly aunts often mentioned on these pages) last Summer, her youngest daughter suddenly fell ill. A routine visit to the doctor quickly escalated into an immediate hospitalisation lasting 8 months, during which time she endured multiple blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and ultimately a life saving bone marrow transplant. She's 13 years old. There were many dark days, but throughout them all, my cousin's amazing daughter maintained a positive, upbeat outlook that most of us would have found utterly impossible to contemplate. To cut a very long story short, she is out of hospital, back at school and doing well, although she cannot travel for at least the next 12 months and has to be extremely wary of catching any kind of infection.

 A couple of the stops on our reconnaissance trip

My cousin lived at the hospital with her daughter for the entire 8 month period so never did manage a UK trip in 2018, but in the middle of May this year, with her daughter recovering well at home, she flew into London alone for a brief visit to her 89 year-old mum. I travelled down and caught up with them both for three memorable days. As I've mentioned few times in other posts, my cousin and I were brought up in the same house as virtual brother and sister. She's my closest confidante and oldest friend. Whenever we've been together over the past 25 years, it's been with various members of her fabulous family in tow - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. This time however, we were truly able to wind down, kick back and properly catch up - it was much needed. And drink, we did that too. Venue reconnaissance for her mum's forthcoming 90th birthday party in August took my cousin and I to a selection of fine hostelries around the East End of London. All in the name of research, obviously.


Julia Jacklin's second LP, 'Crushing', is every bit as strong as her 2016 debut - actually, it's possibly even better. It's essentially a break-up album, so, with my domestic situation being as it is, I've consciously avoided interacting with it too often, but it comes highly recommended nonetheless.

Julia Jacklin - When the Family Flies In

Monday, 24 June 2019

Monday Long Song

I'm overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of positive vibes I received in the wake of my previous post a couple of weeks ago. I can't thank everyone who sent a message of support enough, whether in the comments, via email, social media or even in the form of a kindly thought - it means the world, it really does. I'm conscious of the danger of descending into lethargy, so, if I may ask your indulgence, I'm going to try to dip my toe back into the blogging world as part of an attempt to create some form of new normal for myself. I'm finding it hard enough to even get out of bed at the moment let alone string a few sentences together, so it might not be plain sailing, but hopefully there'll always be a half-decent tune attached to my meanderings. Thanks again - really.

Anyway, back to it. Here's one I prepared earlier.

The entire second side of the 1971 Focus LP 'Moving Waves' is taken up by the 23-minute instrumental 'Eruption', a (whisper it) prog reappraisal of the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, made up of of 15 short movements. The band are of course best known to the world at large for their pair of hit singles, 1972's 'Hocus Pocus' and the 1973 classic 'Sylvia'.

Focus - Eruption.

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

Monday, 22 April 2019

Monday Long Song / Busy Birthday Week - Part Two

After deciding that I was going to travel to Nottingham and join in the fun at John and Bright Ambassador's inaugural Sunday Vinyl Session, I had a poke about the interweb to find out what might be going on in town during the evening, by way of entertainment. Amazingly there was a gig of interest at the Running Horse, in the very same room where I'd be spending the afternoon discussing all things Bowie. Johnny Dowd was in town. So after dinner and a brief pit-stop in another cool little bar, John, Jenny and I headed back to the pub where we'd met just a few hours earlier.

I knew only a little about Johnny Dowd before the show, but what I did know definitely ticked my boxes. Prolific, maverick, alt-country oddball doesn't begin to adequately describe the man and the music he makes. He's a dark poet, as funny as hell and as serious as your life. After the show we chatted to a couple of fans who are following Johnny's tour around parts of the UK. 'Completely different every night' said one. 'A totally different set from yesterday's' said another. I'm linking a short documentary on Johnny's 2015 UK tour at the bottom of this post, which is worth 18 minutes of anyone's time and will probably tell you more about him that I ever could. Johnny Dowd is 71 and already visibly more frail than when 'Disco Sausage' was filmed. If he tips up in your town anytime soon, I'd highly recommend that you give him a go. I really hope that I can catch up with him again one day. It was late, I'd had a long day, done a lot of driving and (for me) a lot of drinking. I was bushed. Hugs were exchanged between myself and my wonderful hosts and I headed off down the hill to my hotel. I suspect that I was asleep before John and Jenny had even caught their bus home.

On Monday morning I wandered into the centre of Nottingham in search of sustenance and enjoyed the most delicious breakfast/brunch in the Cartwheel Cafe - Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, sun-blushed tomatoes, potato hash, roasted beetroot houmous, red amaranth and spring onions drizzled with garden pesto. It really was amazing, as was the Rwandan coffee that accompanied it. After ambling around for another half an hour, I necked an espresso at Outpost Coffee for the road and headed off to Cambridge.

David Thomas Broughton is part singer-songwriter, part avant-garde performance artist - the clipped Northern diction of his sonorous baritone (think a 21st Century Jake Thackray), guitar and various electronic gizmos are looped, dissected and reassembled to inject sometimes spontaneous elements to each individual performance. He's a baffling prospect to many, but once you fall under his spell, it's hard to look away. He had the entire room in his hands on Monday evening in Cambridge. On Tuesday morning I bumped into him in the hotel lift as we were both on our way to check out. Not wishing to come across as a weird stalker type, I merely thanked him for a great show the previous evening and told him I'd catch up with him later in the day in Norwich.

I was in Cambridge and, as it was my birthday, I figured that I deserved a treat or two, so I made tracks for the frankly magnificent Relevant Records. I'm so glad that this place isn't my local record shop. I could have easily dropped a months wages without even starting to dig deep into the bins. As it was I behaved myself, coming away with Nursery Rhymes by Bill Wells & Friends (a physical copy of which I've been after since posting about it here), second hand copies of John Cale's 'Paris 1919' and 'Future Songs' by The Doozer, plus the Joe Strummer RSD 12" of 'Forbidden City'. Then there was more food, more coffee and a drive onto Norwich, where David Thomas Broughton's performance was in a public bar and free of charge. Unfortunately this meant that a contingent of the audience were not only not there to see him - they simply didn't get what he was doing. This resulted in much peripheral chatter from sections of the crowd, which was a shame as they were missing a terrifically engaging show. After the gig, I wearily drove the last 20 miles home through the night, the first day of my 60th year completed.

Broughton didn't play 'Silent Arrow' at either of the shows I caught on this tour, but it's become something of a personal favourite of mine and illustrates what it is he actually does pretty well.

David Thomas Broughton - Silent Arrow

Thursday, 18 April 2019

A Busy Birthday Week - Part One

On Monday evening I stood towards the back of a small Norwich venue as Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs hurled their splendidly unholy racket in my general direction. And that was just for starters. Five nights later, downstairs in the larger room, Sleaford Mods made their third visit to the Fine City. While 'Moptop', Tweet Tweet Tweet' 'Giddy on the Ciggies' and 'No-one's Bothered' have all disappeared from the band's current setlist, newer songs like 'TCR', 'Stick in a Five and Go', 'Kebab Spider' and 'Discourse' have quickly become live favourites. Another grand night out.

The rarely seen Double McSwedeface

The following morning I was up with the larks and on the road early to reach a 2pm appointment in Nottingham. After a 150 mile drive, I stepped through the doors of the Running Horse public house to be greeted by a chap adjusting the levels behind his mixing desk. The event in question was the inaugural Sunday Vinyl Session and the chap twiddling the knobs was our mutual friend John Medd. Crucially, he didn't know I was coming and his casual nodded greeting told me that he didn't recognise me from Adam, so I did the only thing I could think of and held up the LP I was carrying so that it covered the bottom half of my face in a Swedey McSwedeface stylee. If anyone in the Nottingham area heard a clunking sound around that time, it was probably the sound of John's jaw hitting the floor. Along with his co-conspirator Bright Ambassador (he of Modern Gutnish), John introduced, played, then led an informal discussion on, David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory' LP. The three hour session was an absolute joy and fairly flew by. Exciting plans are well underway for future Sunday Vinyl Sessions, which will take place at the same venue on the second Sunday of every month. Watch John's blog / twitter account for further details - there's even a Facebook group you can join. Is there anything better than sitting in a good pub for a few hours with a group of like minded, friendly people, while listening to a few records? I can't think of anything.

My drive to Nottingham was punctuated by a couple of long roadwork related tailbacks, which meant that by the time I eventually arrived at the Running Horse, I hadn't had a chance to grab a bite to eat as planned. Consequently, by the time the Sunday Vinyl Session wound down at 5pm, I'd consumed a few beers on a stomach that had seen no food since a bowl of cereal at 8 o'clock that morning and was in imminent danger of sliding off my chair. Step forward John and Jenny, who marched their unexpected guest off to The Angel for a big plate of delicious grub and the first of many more beers that we enjoyed throughout the evening.

(To be continued)

Monday, 15 April 2019

Monday Long Song

When Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve re-animated (that's remixed to you and me) Midlake's already sublime 'Roscoe', they, by their own admission, '...turned up the melancholy level to 11...' and created a very beautiful thing in the process. Now seems a particularly fitting moment to play the tune, given that tomorrow I turn 59 years of age, which, let's face it, is enough to make anyone feel a little melancholy.

As you read these words, I am, as a great man once said, '...on the road, heading for another joint...', in the midst of a flurry of gig and other extracurricular music related activities that are taking me hither and indeed thither. I'll be sure to report back when the dust has settled.

Midlake - Roscoe (Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve Re:animation)

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Why Didn't You Tell Me?

Some months ago a friend, travelling by train in the general direction of the small town where my little record shop was located between 1986 and 2000, fell into conversation with an anonymous fellow passenger, who, it transpired during the course of the journey, was a former customer of mine. The conversation went something like this.

Friend 'Did you know Swede's Records?' 
Former Customer 'Yes. Shockingly sad about Swede wasn't it?' 
Friend '...erm?' 
Former Customer 'Hadn't you heard? He died several years ago' 
Friend '...erm?' 
Former Customer 'Yes, he committed suicide after his shop closed'. 

At this point my friend had heard enough, whipped out his phone and showed my former customer a photo of yer humble author in as fine-a fettle as I can manage these days. My former customer was, as you might imagine, gobsmacked to say the least. Apparently this unfortunate story has spread itself around certain sections of my old hometown in the last few years. Sadly, I suspect that my former customer had picked up on a combination of whisper and gossip, sparked by a tragic seed of truth.


Prior to becoming Swede's Records, my shop was Gordon's Records. Gordon ran the place for 4 years after buying it from Derek, who had originally established the business in 1981, quitting after a brief 12 month period. Before setting up the shop, Derek worked as a record company representative for many years, a career he returned to shortly after throwing in the towel and selling the business to Gordon. Derek often dropped into his old shop after I took it over in 1986, checking that I was doing ok and leaving me the odd bit of stock, as at that point I didn't have full record company accounts.

I'd originally met Derek way back in 1980, during my very earliest days of working behind the counter in a branch of a small independent record shop chain. Most of the reps quite understandably ignored me, reserving all of their conversation, attention and persuasive powers for the manager or new release buyer, but Derek was the kind of guy who had time for everybody. During one of our many conversations, I happened to mention how much I liked Fischer-Z's 'So Long', a single available on the record label that he worked for. Several minutes later, when he returned from his car with an armful of stock for the shop, Derek discreetly slipped me a copy of the 45 in question. 'There you go' he said. A few weeks later, Derek was in the shop again, to push the band's then current 'Going Deaf For a Living' album and, remembering our previous conversation, handed me a copy of the LP and a Fischer-Z promotional t-shirt. I was overwhelmed to be quite honest. He had no cause or reason to to give me anything at all, as I was the new kid in town and had next to no influence over what we stocked, but, in time, I came to realise that this small gesture of kindness was typical of the man.

One evening in 1986 Derek phoned me at home to ask if I wanted to meet up for a pint, but I wasn't able to, so suggested that we rearrange for later in the week. He appeared to be fine with that and told me not to worry, but apparently later left the house, telling his wife that he and I were going to the pub for the evening anyway. The following morning Derek's body was discovered in his car at the end of a remote country lane. The police and members of Derek's family were initially convinced that I must've been the last person to see him alive, until I explained that we hadn't actually met up at all.

In 1986 I was a ridiculously naive 26 year old, having the time of my life, living the dream of running in my own tiny record shop and completely oblivious to Derek's dreadful depression, as, it transpires, were virtually all his friends and family. He was a lovely bear of a man, liked by absolutely everyone and seemed very grown up from my perspective, but was actually only 37 - no age at all. I can only assume that the relatively recent rumour of my own demise somehow stemmed from a series of confused, half-forgotten memories of Derek's tragic fate all those years ago.

Fischer-Z - So Long

(Many thanks to Swiss Adam for reminding us of these vitally important organisations in his recent Keith Flint tribute: Campaign Against Living Miserably & The Samaritans.)

Monday, 8 April 2019

Monday Long Song

In spite of what your ears may try to tell you, Paisiel is the work of just two men, João Pais Filipe and Julius Gabriel. Their self-titled debut actually emerged last year, on cassette only, via the Portuguese label Lovers & Lollipops, though thankfully the marvellous UK based independent Rocket Recordings has now seen fit to give the album a proper LP release, albeit as a blue vinyl limited edition of just 500. Instead of flailing around for an adequate way to describe this essentially indescribable music, I'll share a simple, but accurate quote from a review: '...a rhythmic plane between Africa, techno, krautrock, and minimalism...'

'Paisiel' will feature among my favourite records of 2019 come December, of that I have no doubt whatsoever.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Happy 70th Birthday Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson has cropped up on these pages several times over the years, not least here with a stunning performance of what is quite simply one of the greatest songs ever written. Today, Richard hits 70 years of age and thankfully shows no sign of slowing down. Even though his long recording career has resulted in a nigh-on impeccable series of albums, you really do have to see the man perform live to truly appreciate his full genius. I'm due to catch him in concert once again in the Summer, after which I'll be sure to report back.

Many happy returns of the day Mr Thompson.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Monday Long Song

82 year old Japanese drummer Takeshi Inomata has contributed to over 300 recordings during his long career. 'Theme - Mustache' is track one side one from his very first LP, 'Sounds of Sounds Ltd', released way back in 1970. After 2 minutes of random introductory noodlings, the tune suddenly blossoms into a tight funk workout, incorporating impressive guitar, organ, flute and, of course, drum solos. Then, at around 6.25, a sleazy horn overture clears a path for....well, if you saw that coming, I certainly didn't. Remember, this was 1970.

Takeshi Inomata & Sound Ltd - Theme-Mustache

Friday, 29 March 2019

Version City #72 - Robyn Hitchcock sings Carl Douglas

JC, our mutual friend and Blogfather of this little corner of t'internet, has once again done me the great honour of featuring an Imaginary Compilation Album of my curation over at his place today. This time around, the subject of my attention is the one and only Robyn Hitchcock, a man whose music I've been digging for a frankly terrifying amount of time - 40 years! As I note in the post, the ten songs selected only scratch the surface of such a long, prolific ongoing career and I have every intention of following up with a Volume 2 in the fullness of time. I'm off to catch an intimate show on his UK tour in a few weeks, so expect more Robyn related gubbins soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the ICA here plus this bonus cover version from the 1990 Anti-Poll Tax compilation 'Alvin Lives (in Leeds)'. Thanks again JC.

Robyn Hitchcock - Kung Fu Fighting

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Mystery Bird

I stumbled out of the back door early yesterday morning and caused the usual flurry of panicked fluttering as numerous blackbirds, sparrows, doves and tits rose up and flew off from all corners of the garden. All except for one bird, which sat watching me from the conservatory roof a few feet away, without the slightest hint of panic. Its sheer apparent fearlessness made me jump a bit though. At first glance I took it for a gull, such was its size, but quickly realised that it must've been some sort of pigeon or dove - I've never seen that particular colouration before though. Can anyone put an exact name to the species?

Meanwhile, here's an appropriately titled tune from 'Inferno', the excellent new Robert Forster LP (available here).

Robert Forster - One Bird in the Sky

Monday, 25 March 2019

Monday Long Song

Steve Westfield and the Slow Band had a good line in dark Americana, laced with a dry humorous twist during the second half of the 1990s, with their albums 'Reject Me...First', 'Underwhelmed' and 'Stupostar'. Though his Slow Band is no more, Steve is, by all accounts, still an active participant on the Massachusetts music scene. The title track of the debut LP was for me, their finest 8 and a bit minutes. Check those horns as they beckon you into the chorus.

Steve Westfield and the Slow Band - Reject Me First

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Listening Project - February

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. 

The results are in. The numbers have been checked, cross-checked and verified. Thanks in part to a combination of reduced shifts at work and a couple of endless train journeys, in February I listened to a grand total of 58 albums in their entirety, an improvement on the 37 I managed in January.

As the year progresses, I've no doubt that repeated plays of particular favourites will start to appear on these lists more and more often - I'm already finding it a struggle not to cave in and listen to the fantastic 'Drift Code' by Rustin Man endlessly. If that LP isn't among my top five of the year come December, we'll have been blessed with some stonkingly great releases over the next nine months.

Here's a list then, in order, of the 58 albums I played in full in February, with a track from one of 'em at the end. This month it's the typically odd, but nevertheless catchy as hell 'Token' by Panda Bear.

Beirut - Gallipoli (2019) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Nucleus - Direct Hits (1976) LP 
AMOR - Sinking Into a Miracle (2018) LP 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Robert Wyatt - Ruth is Stranger Than Richard (1975) LP 
Alasdair Roberts etc - Au Cube (2018) LP 
Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Sound On Sound (1979) LP 
Jethro Tull - This Was (1968) DL 
Soft Machine - Spaced (1996) DL 
The Specials - Encore (2019) DL 
Daevid Allen - Banana Moon (1971) DL 
Desert Heat - Cat Mask at Huggie Temple (2013) DL 
The Clash - London Calling (1979) CD 
The Lyman Woodard Organization - Saturday Night Special (2017) CD 
McCoy Tyner - Extensions (1972) DL 
Panda Bear - Buoys (2019) DL 
Francis Bebey - Psychedelic Sanza 1982-84 (2014) DL 
The Cosmic Dead - EasterFaust (2014) DL 
John McLaughlin - Devotion (1970) DL 
Lau - Midnight and Closedown (2019) DL 
Sister John - Returned From Sea (2017) DL 
The Specials - Encore (2019) DL 
Big Blood - Operate Spaceship Earth Properly (2018) DL 
Hugh Hopper - Soft Boundaries Vol.7 (2015) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Chick Corea - Return to Forever (1972) DL 
Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man (2018) DL 
The Coke Dares - Fake Lake (2018) DL 
VED - Demis Roussos Internal (2019) DL 
Meat Puppets - Rat Farm (2013) DL 
Kungens Män - CHEF (2019) LP 
Beak - >>> (2019) LP 
John Cale & Terry Riley - Church of Anthrax (1970) LP 
Lay Llamas - Thuban (2018) LP 
Karl Blau - Clothes Your I's (2001) CD 
Maria McKee - Life is Sweet (1996) CD 
Big Blood - Unlikely Mothers (2014) LP 
Bob Dylan - Scarlet Town: Unreleased Live Recordings 2018 (2019) DL 
Kungens Män - CHEF (2019) LP 
Richard Youngs - May (2014) LP 
Big Blood - Radio Valkyrie 1905-1917 (2013) LP 
Various Artists - Soweto Street Music (1984) LP 
Fridge - Ceefax (1997) CD 
Sleaford Mods - Eton Alive (2019) LP 
Panda Bear - Buoys (2019) DL 
Gong - You (1974) CD 
John Abercrombie, Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette - Gateway 2 (1978) LP 
Shankar - Vision (1984) LP 
Glenn Jones - The Wanting (2011) LP 
Albion Country Band - Battle of the Field (1976) LP 
The Chieftains - s/t (1964) LP 
The Stroppies - s/t (2017) LP 
Greenslade - Time and Tide (1975) CD 
The Long Ryders - Psychedelic Country Soul (2019) DL 
Robert Forster - Inferno (2019) LP 
Paisiel - s/t (2019) DL 
Julia Jacklin - Crushing (2019) DL

Panda Bear - Token

Monday, 18 March 2019

Monday Long Song / Red Gold & Green #30

Across three slabs of wax, the 2002 Soul Jazz compilation 'Studio One Scorcher Instrumentals' offers up pretty much what it says on the tin - 19 scorching tunes originating from the legendary Brentford Road studio of Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd. From the album, 'Shockers Rock', officially credited to Tommy McCook, Richard Ace, The Skatalites & Disco Height, is a truly bonkers 1978 cut-up/remix of Roland Alphonso's 1965 ska cut 'Cleopatra'.

Tommy McCook, Richard Ace & The Skatalites - Shockers Rock

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Version City #71 - Ed Kuepper sings The Who

The 208th entry into JC's never-ending Imaginary Compilation Album series featured a guest posting from Martin, head honcho at New Amusements, with a mighty fine ten track whistle-stop trip through the career of bona fide rock legends, The Who. After spotting Martin's chosen subject on my phone, but before I retired to my laptop to read the post and check out his actual musical selections, I jotted down the first ten Who songs that sprang to my own mind, just for fun, so that I could compare and contrast the results. Inevitably our choices overlapped here and there, most pleasingly when it came to the band's marvellous, but oft overlooked 1970 non-LP 45, 'The Seeker'. Israeli beat combo Men of North Country put out a top notch version of the song on their 'Magic' EP in 2014, but, unsurprisingly, my own favourite cover of 'The Seeker' comes from the great Ed Kuepper, who released it on his 1995 acoustic tour souvenir album, 'I Was A Mail Order Bridegroom'.

If you haven't done so already, go check out Martin's fab Who ICA over at T(N)VV here.

Ed Kuepper - The Seeker

Monday, 11 March 2019

Monday Long Song

As my musical tastes broadened beyond pure glam, or glam influenced rock throughout 1973/74, I began to realise that my modest Fidelty mono record player just wasn't getting the most out of my newly acquired progressive, experimental and electronic LPs. Fortunately my best mate had a stereo, a real one, not just a radiogram that happened to have twin mono speakers. His stereo had two speakers, hung on hooks, high on either side of his parents' living room wall.

When either of us purchased a new LP, we quickly got into the habit of retiring to his house, removing the speakers from their lofty position and placing them faced towards each other on the floor, about 12" apart. We'd then take it in turns to lay on the floor between them to gain the maximum stereo impact we could, from records like 'No Pussyfooting' by Fripp & Eno, 'Trilogy' by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 'Blackdance' by Klaus Schulze, 'Moving Waves' by Focus, 'Aqua' by Edgar Froese, 'Phallus Dei' by Amon Düül II, 'Phaedra' by Tangerine Dream and many others. I don't know why my mate's parents didn't just buy him buy a pair of headphones, but those were great times and every new record was a voyage of musical discovery.

These days I'm a bit long in the tooth for stretching out on the floor to listen to a record, but for the next 17 and a bit minutes, in my head at least, I'm 14 years old again and back there on my old pal's dusty front room carpet - lying between the speakers, digging the music.

Klaus Schulze - Way of Changes

Monday, 4 March 2019

Monday Long Song

Glenn Jones put out nine albums as a member of Post-Rock group Cul de Sac between 1991 and 2004, before announcing a change in musical direction via 'This Is the Wind That Blows It Out: Solos for 6 & 12 String Guitar', a 2004 LP released under his own name. Since then there have been a further eight records of essentially solo acoustic guitar music, loosely bracketed as being of the American Primitive persuasion. Jones signed with Thrill Jockey for his 4th solo record, 2011's 'The Wanting', and has remained with the label ever since. 'The Wanting' is a double LP, with the entire 4th side being taken up what is still my favourite Glenn Jones tune, the epic 'The Orca Grande Cement Factory At Victorville'. The extraordinary piece, allegedly recorded by Jones in a single take, features a rare guest appearance from drummer Chris Corsano, whose contributions were pieced together from four separate overdubs.

Glenn Jones - The Orca Grande Cement Factory At Victorville 

(Check out 'The Wanting' and several more fine Glenn Jones albums here.)

Monday, 25 February 2019

Monday Long Song

Jean-Claude Vannier

Despite a running time that makes it feel more like a generous EP, 'Histoire de Melody Nelson' remains one of the most important and influential albums of Serge Gainsbourg's career - indeed of the 1970s as a whole. If you're at all familiar with the music of David Holmes, Broadcast, Mick Harvey, Massive Attack, Portishead, Stereolab or any number of other Gainsbourg disciples, you will have heard echoes of this record in their work. The basic tracks for the LP were recorded in London with the aid of largely uncredited British session musicians, before co-composer/arranger Jean-Claude Vannier added strings back in France. The 2011 Deluxe Edition of 'Histoire de Melody Nelson' adds a disc of out-takes and a DVD documentary to the story. From the former, here's a chance to fully appreciate the genius of Jean-Claude Vannier via an instrumental version of the album's closing track 'Cargo Culte'.

Serge Gainsbourg - Cargo Culte (Instrumental)

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Listening Project - January

By way of a New Year's Resolution, a friend of mine pledged to read four books per month throughout the coming year. Another has set himself the lofty goal of watching 365 films in 365 days - as I type, they are both still on track. I knew that I wouldn't have a hope in hell of getting anywhere near either of those targets, so I went for something much more within my limited grasp, namely to listen to as many albums, in full, as possible in 2019.

So at the beginning of January I started to keep a list of every album I played from beginning to end. 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.

I realise that this is a purely self-indulgent endeavour and unlikely to be of the slightest interest to anyone else, but since I'm jotting them down, I thought I'd share the stats month by month anyway. So here's a list, in order, of the 37 albums I played in full in January, with a track from one of 'em at the end - a tune from The Stroppies' self-titled debut. Expect these guys to show up again when their new LP arrives at Swede Towers in March. (If you're reading this Brian and you're not already aware of them, I reckon they might be right up your street).

CB3 - From Nothing to Eternity (2018) LP
John McLaughlin - Devotion (1970) LP
Julian Cope - Rite (1993) CD
Sandman Project - Royal Family (2018) LP
Matching Mole - 1st (1972) LP
Ian Carr - Belladonna (1972) LP
VED - Omikron (2016) LP
Sista Maj - Localized Pockets of Negative Entropy (2018) LP
Thomasz Stanko Quintet - Purple Sun (1973) DL
Isotope - Illusion (1974) LP
Alasdair Roberts etc - Au Cube (2018) LP
Isotope - Deep End (1975) LP
Soft Machine - 1st (1968) LP
Soft Machine - 2nd (1969) LP
Fanatism - The Future Past (2018) LP
Alexander 'Skip' Spence - Oar (1969) CD
The Stroppies - s/t (2017) DL
The Janitors - Fuzz Club Session (2019) LP
Elvin Jones - Genesis (1971) DL
Ian Carr's Nucleus - Roots (1973) LP
The Janitors - Horn Ur Marken (2016) LP
Elvin Jones - New Agenda (1975) DL
Richard Youngs - Dissident (2019) LP
John Cale & Terry Riley - Church of Anthrax (1970) LP
Kungens Män - Dag & Natt (2017) LP
National Health - s/t (1978) LP
Ultimate Painting - Up! (2018) DL
dbh - Time Flies (2013) LP
Defunkt - s/t (1980) LP
Dr John - Gris-Gris (1968) LP
Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (2019) DL
Herbie Hancock - Kantonschule (1972) DL
Prince Far-I - Showcase in a Suitcase (1980) LP
Träden - s/t (2018) DL
Soft Machine - Alive & Well (1978) LP
Elvin Jones - Mr Jones (1973) LP
Edgar Froese - Aqua (1974) DL

Monday, 18 February 2019

Monday Long Song

Something a little different this week - not so much a long song, as a long clip. Over the last few world tours, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band have welcomed occasional song requests from audience members. These range from stone cold classics, obscure curios from their hefty back catalogue to one-off cover versions that find them reaching back to their bar-band days. This is a terrific example of the latter, pulled from a 2013 show in Leipzig. Springsteen plucks a request for Chuck Berry's 'You Never Can Tell' from the crowd, to the visible consternation of the band who obviously know the song, but have never actually played it. Steve Van Zandt, Bruce and the band spend a couple of minutes working out an arrangement - worth watching for the look on Steve's face as he tries to persuade Bruce to bring it down a key. Then, gloriously, they throw themselves headlong into a joyous, life-affirming performance. If anyone still questions why I've travelled so far, so often to see Bruce and the E-Street Band in concert over the years, here's your answer.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Judgement Train

I've been even further off grid than usual since Saturday. All overtime at work has been slashed and I'm reduced to bare minimum hours, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to head down to the smoke for a few days and check in on my two elderly Aunts. Mrs S needed the car at home, so I loaded my device of choice with a bunch of recently purchased albums and let the train take the strain. Track maintenance on the way down necessitated a coach replacement service for part of the journey and the trip home was also heavily delayed after a poor soul was struck by a train near Brentwood, halting all services in and out of London for three hours. Long story short, I had plenty of time in which to acquaint myself with new music. I listened to a lot of good stuff, but I still reckon that there has been no better LP released so far this year than Rustin Man's 'Drift Code'.

Rustin Man - Judgement Train 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Monday Long Song

Across the 9½ minutes of 'The Trapeze Swinger', Sam Beam casts himself as a dying man looking back on a life of love, loss, regret, redemption and salvation. It's an outstanding piece of writing and a breathtakingly beautiful performance. The song originally appeared on the soundtrack of the film 'In Good Company' in 2004, before featuring Iron and Wine's rarities and b-sides collection 'Around the Well' in 2009.

Iron and Wine - The Trapeze Swinger

In 2017 Iron and Wine revisited 'The Trapeze Swinger' for a KCRW session, to equally breathtaking effect.

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