Saturday 26 September 2015

The Furrow Collective

For the penultimate song of their tremendous performance in Norwich on Thursday evening, The Furrow Collective deployed that most underused of instrumental combinations - guitar, harp, banjo and musical saw, after which Emily Portman, Alasdair Roberts, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton stepped around the microphones to bid us farewell with a gorgeous unamplified reading of 'Blow Out the Moon', from their recent EP of the same name.

Listen to / buy the whole EP here.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Here's Johnny

John Lydon was interviewed on 6Music a couple of weeks ago and he was everything you always hope he'll be - witty, sharp, wry, knowing, mischievous, entertaining. Perhaps it was the questions he was asked or the mood he was in, but there was no trace of the narky bitterness that sometimes creeps into his conversations. I'm not sure that the latest LP, 'What the World Needs Now...', is quite as strong as 2012's comeback album, 'This Is PIL', but it does include what I reckon is Lydon's best 3½ minutes in over 25 years.

Sunday 20 September 2015

The Ghost Of You Walks

If he were the proprietor of a High Street shop, he could quite legitimately hang a business sign above his door stating something along the lines of - 'Richard Thompson: Making Other Singer/Songwriters and Guitarists Look Pretty Ordinary Since 1968'. On Friday evening Richard Thompson (fronting his Electric Trio) did just that, throughout an incendiary set that touched on all periods of his long career. Highlights? Blimey, now you're asking. '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' never, ever gets old and was utterly spectacular. 'Beatnik Walking' one of several treats from his latest LP, 'Still'. 'Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?', possibly the only song from 'Shoot Out the Lights' I'd never previously seen him perform in concert. A totally inspired cover of beat classic 'Take a Heart' by The Sorrows as a final encore. Best of all though, was a frankly staggering reading of 'Hard on Me' (originally issued on 'Mock Tudor' in 1999) in which Thompson's extended solo was beyond comparison with any other guitar-slinger that I've ever come across and should more realistically be musically likened to how it must have felt to experience John Coltrane in full flight.

I recently flicked through an article that rated all of Richard Thompson's solo LP's in reverse order and was marginally horrified to read that the author had ranked the 1996 double album 'You? Me? Us?' as his worst. I couldn't tell you offhand what title I'd put at the bottom of the heap, the man's quality threshold is so high, I can tell you that it wouldn't be 'You? Me? Us?' though. Fortunately for those punters sitting in my vicinity, Richard Thompson didn't play 'The Ghost Of You Walks' on Friday evening, because If he had, there wouldn't have been a dry eye in my little corner of the house.

Thursday 17 September 2015

This Is The Kit

I've been a very lucky lad so far this year. The stream of local gigs has been steady and of consistently high quality - although I've just realised that I've foolishly neglected to mention some of the best of them on these pages. Never mind, I'll catch up with those in the end of year round-up.

One band I really wanted to see, but unfortunately missed out on, was This Is the Kit. Their third LP 'Bashed Out' is very good indeed and the terrific single lifted from it, 'Silver John', will, I'm certain, also feature prominently in that end of year round-up. One of my songs of 2015, no question.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Something Nice Might Fly By

During the course of a recent real world natter with a good friend of this blog, I found myself, not for the first time, struggling to put into words why exactly it is that I continue to seek out new music as relentlessly as I do, in spite of owning more than enough records, CD's and mp3's to last a lifetime. For years I've justified my irrational excesses and endless searching by being panic stricken that if I don't check out every single piece of music that comes my way, I could very easily miss the best thing I might ever hear in my life. That's still the case, but lately Lauren Laverne has taken to using an eerily similar quote on the trailers for her BBC 6Music radio shows. So I've decided that from now on, if my peculiar obsession is called into question, I'll just quote the mighty Robert Lloyd (of The Nightingales and The Prefects) from his time fronting The New Four Seasons in 1988. 'I get scared that something nice might fly by, and I will miss it out the corner of my eye'. Sonically, the recording may have dated a little, but the lyrics of this great song resonate more and more with each passing year.

Here's a rare TV performance of 'Part of the Anchor', another gem by the same combo.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Saturday Scratch #51 - Residence La Revolution

Saturday Scratch, an occasional series that shines a light on a selection with a Lee 'Scratch' Perry connection. 

I've been largely absent from Internet musings over the past seven days, thanks to a long planned week of decorating. Long planned by Mrs S that is. Long dreaded by yours truly. If I don't see another paint brush for the next couple of years, you won't hear any complaints from me. Still, we've managed to tick a few little jobs off of the very long list of stuff that needs doing in and around the house, which is all to the good.

And now for something completely different. Saturday Scratch traditionally deals in wicked cuts from a bygone age, but on this occasion the selection is virtually bang up to date. In April 2015, XL Recordings boss Richard Russell, trading under the Residence La Revolution moniker, issued a 12" single, 'I Am Paint' and the tune, a stabbing aural collage, features heavily sampled chunks of Lee Perry vocals high in the mix. Each sleeve of the ridiculously limited run of 250 copies was personally hand (and foot) painted by Russell and Perry themselves in one all night session, documented in the accompanying clip. The resulting artifacts weren't distributed through traditional outlets and were only ever obtainable via a bartering system from the RLR website. Intriguing stuff. Read more here.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Saturday Scratch #50 - Dennis Alcapone

Saturday Scratch, an occasional series that shines a light on a selection with a Lee 'Scratch' Perry connection.

Mrs S asked me to give her a hand over at the allotment the other evening. This only ever happens if she's really up against it - I'm sure that I'm far more of a hindrance than a help. I did my best to follow instructions though, but for my troubles I got bitten by bugs on my arm, elbow and side of the face. As you can see, my arm subsequently blew up into a rather alarming shape. I'm just not cut out for this outdoor lark!

In spite of being munched on various parts of my body, unlike Dennis Alcapone, I was untroubled by back biters. On this beautifully crackly rip of his 1972 single, Alcapone DJ's over Lee Perry's 'People Funny Boy' rhythm, with the additional accompaniment of Ron Wilson on trombone.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Why Did the Slug Cross the Road?

It's a good question and one I've asked myself several times over the past week or so. Coinciding with the recent burst of damp weather, I've noticed huge numbers of slugs crossing pavements and roads, presumably to get to the other side. But why do they leave perfectly functional fields and gardens to cross a road, thus risking a splatty death, just to get to another identical field or garden? I dunno, but when I'm out walking up and down local country lanes I do my best to avoid flattening them. Cars are less careful.

Slug, the musical project as opposed to the slimy creature, is the brainchild of Field Music alumnus Ian Black, indeed his former bosses, the Brewis brothers, lend their considerable talents to the debut LP, 'Ripe'. 'Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic' was the first taste we got of Slug, at the tail end of last year. The song boasts a very catchy chorus, but it's a bugger to sing along with.

Greatest Hits