Spells of hot sweaty weather such as the one we're experiencing at the moment traditionally send me off on a reggae tip - and indeed I had one such selection in mind for this week's long song entry. At some point during an 11 hour shift at work on Friday however, a portion of 'Never Lose That Feeling', the epic 1992 racket by Swervedriver, nudged its way to the forefront of my internal jukebox, where it lodged itself until I could come home that evening and play the whole darned thing for real. Utterly splendid stuff it is too, here complete with the equally marvellous 'Never Learn' coda.
Monday, 14 June 2021
Friday, 11 June 2021
In an effort to give my moribund mojo a good kick up the backside, behold - a new series. Actually, the idea is so simple that even if the worst comes to the worst, my mojo can just stay skulking over there in the corner where it's been for the past couple of years, while the post takes care of itself. A photo, probably taken on my phone while out walking, or maybe an oldie retrieved from the family archive, perhaps even an anonymous antique snapshot plucked from what remains of my collection of such ephemera. To accompany it, a tune, ideally one that's at least partially inspired by the image.
It's an idea brazenly half-inched from any number of my blogging chums, not least Swiss Adam who slots one of his own excellent mid-wander shots into the majority of his posts. Here's a recent photo of mine, taken in the middle of nowhere, to kick things off.
Thursday, 27 May 2021
I've probably mentioned this before, but scattered around the various hard-drives in this flat lurk several partially completed ICA's, destined, one day, for JC's consideration to be included in his legendary ongoing series over at The (New) Vinyl Villain. A couple of weeks ago, The Blogfather himself shared a Buddy Holly ICA, one of the very artists that I had on my 'to be finished' list. When it comes to Buddy's music, it'd be hard to put a foot wrong in terms of pulling together a worthy compilation and indeed JC's ICA is pretty much faultless.
Buddy Holly had been dead for 14 months when I appeared on the scene, but his music was in the house from day one. Dad was a fan and I still carry his handful of original singles with me to this day (that's one of them at the top of this post). I played those singles endlessly on the trusty family radiogram from a very young age and know every note, every crack and pop on each one of them, intimately. Buddy's music had such a profound effect on me that years later I later picked up one of the very earliest career spanning box sets ever released by any artist, 1979's 'The Complete Buddy Holly'.
Here's a song that would've made my version of a Buddy Holly ICA. 'Take Your Time' appeared on the b-side of 'Rave On' in 1958 and is a sparse, organ led gem. It's lyrically interesting too - consider such lines as '...heartstrings will sing like a string of twine...' or '...go with me through, times 'til all times end...' Somewhere, a young Bob Dylan was paying attention. At the time of his death on February 3rd 1959, Buddy was just 22 and had been recording professionally for barely 2½ years.
Monday, 24 May 2021
I'm fortunate enough to have seen Bob Dylan in concert nearly 70 times - from Blackbushe in 1978 to the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, via France, Switzerland, America and all over the UK. People sometimes ask what it is that keeps me going back again and again? I tell them that it's the moments. Across the years I've witnessed astounding, transcendent performances - shaky, uneven performances and everything in between. But even the bleakest concerts have contained moments that made me laugh out loud, cry real tears or simply involuntarily yell out my appreciation. We in the audience know when something magical is happening up there - we're lifted, elevated, even levitated. It's hard to explain, as you can see.
Here's an example. Back in 1994 I did a three show run across France, taking in Paris, Besançon and Lyons. I could write a volume on each night, but just take a look at this performance of I'll Remember You from Lyons. It's a grainy audience shot video of an ok song from a wildly overproduced mid-80s album, but, not for the first time, for some reason Bob really connected with it lyrically that night. After noodling through the intro, Dylan is immediately engaged with the opening verse - passionate, articulate, focussed. More noodling, then he steps forward to deliver verse two, again, fully engaged with his vocal. Things almost imperceptibly step up a level with the 'There's some people that you don't forget...' line, but nothing prepared us for the change of gear with 'When the roses fade, AND I'M IN THE SHADE...' - just listen to the audience reaction. To quote a great man, something is happening here and we don't know what it is. By now he is elsewhere, as are we. I'm feet away, caught in the spell, as the spittle flies from his mouth '...didn't I try to care..?' He sensibly pulls back from the brink for the final verse, but once again it's a controlled, passionate build to the concluding '..in the end, my dear sweet friend, I'll remember you...' and the audience, once again, erupts. Note the wry smile that flickers across his features as he sings '...it was you who came right through, it was you who understood, though I'd never say, that I done it the way, you would have liked me to...' If he's ever addressed any audience directly and openly, it was right there and then. Naturally, Bob being Bob, having taken us to an altogether higher plane with a phenomenal, captivating vocal, then allows the song to drift instrumentally and aimlessly to an eventual conclusion, a very l-o-n-g three minutes later. Seriously, when the vocal is done, you can switch off and get on with your day.
The fact that Bob Dylan features so rarely on these pages is a conscious decision. If you've made it this far, you've no doubt noticed that I can bore for my country when I get into pontificating about the man, his cultural impact on my life and the minutiae of his art. The last thing the world needs is another amateur wannabe Bobcat spouting forth, when there are so many far more eloquent students of his work available to tap into. I couldn't let today of all days pass by unacknowledged though. Many happy returns of the day Bob.
Friday, 21 May 2021
Digging through some old photos recently, I came across this one, taken by Dad on one of our many Sunday outings around London in the mid-1960s. We hit a lot of well known spots on that particular day, several of which he documented with his trusty camera. Dad worked in busy hi-fi shops on both High Holborn and Oxford Street during this period, but enjoyed wandering the relatively quiet streets of the city on Sundays, when practically everything was closed. I vividly remember that, in spite of it being 20 years on from the end of World War II, a number of bomb sites still remained, scarring the landscape, apparently untouched and open to the inquisitive eyes of a little boy and his Dad. Many central areas were truly deserted, our footsteps and chatter echoing around the empty streets and pavements. Later we'd amble East to the heaving Petticoat Lane Market, where it felt by comparison that every family in London had gathered to barter, haggle and trade.
So there I am in front of a filthy looking Big Ben (it practically glistens these days), wearing what is by far the coolest jacket I've ever owned in my life. An old Green Line coach heads out of shot - possibly a 705 on the way to Victoria. A Ford Anglia passes on my side of Westminster Bridge - a car I knew well as an Uncle drove one throughout the 1960s. An unknown lady walks into shot. When I initially rediscovered the photo, my 21st century instinct told me that she was looking at her phone, but of course on closer inspection she's holding her own camera. Perhaps, buried deep in an old shoebox somewhere in this world, there's a fading image of Big Ben being photobombed by an anonymous young lad in a rather fetching brown jacket.
The snap gives me a perfect excuse to dig out Lee 'Scratch' Perry's fantastic 'Big Ben Rock', a 7" single released for Record Store Day 2019 and featuring Boz Boorer on guitar.
Monday, 17 May 2021
Flip over the 12" of George Faith's classic 1977 reading of William Bell's 'To Be a Lover' and you'll find 'Rastaman Shuffle', a lengthy instrumental ramble through the same tune by The Upsetters - essentially it's the backing track, stripped of vocals and effects. Sometimes you need a thudding drum and bass heavy dubwise selection in your life, but at other times a melodic, chugging beauty such as this just hits the spot.
Friday, 14 May 2021
To coincide with the first anniversary of the passing of keyboard maestro Dave Greenfield, The Stranglers have issued a fitting tribute to their fallen comrade, 'And If You Should See Dave...'. I'll put my hand on my heart and admit that I've not followed the exploits of the MeninBlack to any great degree since the halcyon days of the classic line-up, but this really is a fine and moving song, taken from the 18th Stranglers LP, 'Dark Matters', due for release in September. Greenfield played with The Stranglers for 45 years and appears on eight of the eleven tracks on the forthcoming album. The song's video, shot on the streets of Los Angeles, features key locations in the band's relationship with the city such as the Whisky A Go Go where they played a 1980 residency and the Regent Theatre, scene of Greenfield's last ever American show with The Stranglers.
I'm fortunate enough to have seen Bob Dylan in concert nearly 70 times - from Blackbushe in 1978 to the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, via F...
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I've probably mentioned this before, but scattered around the various hard-drives in this flat lurk several partially completed ICA'...
Digging through some old photos recently, I came across this one, taken by Dad on one of our many Sunday outings around London in the mid-19...
In an effort to give my moribund mojo a good kick up the backside, behold - a new series. Actually, the idea is so simple that even if the w...