Sunday 31 July 2016

Highway Anxiety

Sore of face and fewer of teeth, the deed is done. The fear and dread that had, totally illogically, built up in my mind for over 30 years was dispelled with 20 short minutes of exemplary and professional oral surgery. Of course what I should have done following that one terrifying experience, way back in 1983, was immediately go out and find a new dentist - I'd never had a problem with any of the check-ups, fillings or extractions that I'd endured up to that point in my life. But I didn't. I let the memory fester and build to a ludicrous degree. Irrational anxiety has a lot to answer for.

And if that sounds like a cue for a song, you're dead right. A couple of weeks ago, I began jotting down a few of my favourite albums from the first half of 2016 and 'Modern Country' by William Tyler featured prominently on that list. Tyler's third release on Merge Records (there are further recordings dotted around on other labels) is a fabulous instrumental work that moves effortlessly from Philip Glass-like chiming on 'Gone Clear' to screaming feedback on 'The Great Unwind', via the acoustic fingerpicking of 'Kingdom of Jones'. It's an organic, embracing listen and comes highly recommended. The lovely 'Highway Anxiety' opens proceedings.

Friday 29 July 2016

Red Gold & Green #5 - Sugar Minott

You might remember a few months back (here), I mentioned that I had some serious dental work looming on the horizon. I also expressed my abject terror of said oral surgery. Well folks, today's the day. So if you find yourself with a spare moment between 12 and 1pm, spare a thought for your old pal The Swede.

Here's the late Sugar Minott to try and calm my jangling nerves.

Sugar Minott - Have No Fear

Monday 25 July 2016

Red Gold & Green #4 - The Aggrovators

Last week was a hot one. Throughout most of Wednesday, as temperatures soared through the 30° mark, I hunkered down indoors with the curtains closed - it was just too much for me. In the evening though, all hell broke loose in the form of a brief, but very violent thunderstorm, which left the air blissfully cool when it had passed. As the storm raged (and did it ever rage) I stood at the window firing off ten shots at a time, trying to capture a photograph of a lightning bolt. It's a tricky business with a little point and press camera, but my patience was rewarded with these two consecutive shots (click on them to enlarge).

The Aggrovators were one of the great session bands of reggae's golden age, working extensively with producer Bunny Lee throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The band practised something of a revolving door policy, with legends such as Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar, Jackie Mittoo and Tommy McCook all passing through the ranks at one time or another. 44 of The Aggrovators' dubs, mixed by the late King Tubby, have recently been compiled by VP Records as 'Dubbing at King Tubby's'. Here, from that collection, is the appropriately titled 'Thunder Rock', which was originally released in 1976 on the flipside of Cornell Campbell's 'Have Mercy Oh Jah'.

The Aggrovators - 'Thunder Rock'

Friday 22 July 2016

Red Gold & Green #3 - The Wailing Souls

It was my own stupid fault. I walked into a door frame yesterday, while wearing nothing on my feet. First the air turned blue, closely followed by my little toe. Ouch. Here are The Wailing Souls with 'Walk, Walk, Walk', a Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd produced single from 1971. Walk, walk, walk? More like hobble, hobble, hobble at the moment.

Wailing Souls - Walk, Walk, Walk.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Too Hot To Move, Too Hot To Think

Scattered, in various stages of completion, around the many nooks and crannies of my laptop, are tracklistings for half-a-dozen different Imaginary Compilation Albums that I one day hope JC will consider for inclusion in his excellent ongoing series over at The New Vinyl Villain. One of the said compilations (and, coincidentally, the nearest to completion) features Australia's mighty Triffids. Such is the strength in depth of the band's catalogue, 'Too Hot to Move, Too Hot to Think', from 1989's 'Black Swan', isn't currently a contender for the final running order, though all that could change of course. The song lurches gradually into being, as if emerging from a dense, stifling swamp. It's been the soundtrack to my life this week.

Monday 18 July 2016

Rozi Plain / Milly Hirst - Live at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre, Cley Marshes

Rachel Horwood and Rozi Plain at Cley

Before we went inside, Mrs S & I watched skylarks performing vertical pirouettes in the far distance, spoonbills and little egrets poking around in the shallows, oyster-catchers piping frantically overhead and terns plummeting from the skies into the deeper waters beyond. A little later, as Milly Hirst began her set, a heron flew low from left to right across the sight-line directly behind the performance area. A majestic marsh harrier passed by in the opposite direction soon after. It was a busy evening on Cley Marshes.

In these idyllic surroundings, Milly impressed the hell out of me once again (I wrote about her previously here), playing a couple of songs with which I wasn't familiar and teasing us with a progress report on how the recording of her debut LP is coming along. Then it was time for Rozi Plain, who played a wonderful stripped down set with only Rachel Horwood for company. By now I'm sure that everyone is aware of just how highly I rate Rozi's music (look here if you need reminding) and to see her play in such an intimate setting (the audience numbered a mere 50) was truly a privilege.

At the conclusion of Rozi's set, we wandered back outside to watch the last rays of the sun disappear from the huge North Norfolk sky. The silhouette of a barn owl fluttered silently above the marsh. What a glorious evening.

Thursday 14 July 2016

Version City #53 - Children of Leir sing Lee Hazlewood

Lee Hazlewood wrote and produced 'Shades' for Nancy Sinatra's 1966 LP, 'Nancy in London', before issuing his own performance of the song on 'Something Special' in 1968. 48 years later, Leicester's Children of Leir have shaken down Lee's gentle country-pop original, to create something that is sonically altogether different. Over at Children of Leir's Bandcamp page, just one British pound gets you their interpretation of 'Shades' plus an extended mix of 'Carcass' from 2015's 'Horse Cover', a fine album that ended up finishing just outside my Top 10 of the year.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Astronaut Meets Appleman

Time is a bit short for chatter at the moment, so enjoy 'You Just Want', the first taster from King Creosote's forthcoming LP, ‘Astronaut Meets Appleman’, due on September 2nd. This'll do for me.

Friday 8 July 2016

Red Gold & Green #2 - Justin Hinds and the Dominoes

If you know just one song by Justin Hinds and the Dominoes, it'll probably be the ska classic 'Carry Go Bring Come', produced by the great Duke Reid in late 1963 and released on the Treasure Isle label early the following year. Hinds and Reid revisited the song in 1967, this time recording a rocksteady arrangement and, following Reid's death in 1974, Lawrence 'Jack Ruby' Lindo produced a further, straight forward reggae version for Hinds' 1976 LP, 'Jezebel'. Justin Hinds died in 2005 at the age of 62.

Justin Hinds and the Dominoes - 'Carry Go Bring Come' (Ska)

Justin Hinds and the Dominoes - 'Carry Go Bring Come' (Rocksteady)

Wednesday 6 July 2016

The Rawnboy Archive

It did my old heart good to see so much love being shown for Ron Sexsmith over at Charity Chic Music the other day (here) - in a just and proper world he'd be a huge star. Ron has released over a dozen fine albums in the past 20 years, though he has also produced a vast hidden archive of acoustic performances that many are unaware of. On his Rawnboy YouTube channel, Ron regularly shares his own solo stripped back cover versions, filmed live, straight onto his laptop, recorded wherever he happens to be in his house or hotel room, whenever the mood takes him. He started sharing these intimate performances three years ago and is still adding to them once or twice a week. The songs Ron chooses to sing range from the classic; Beatles, Stones, Motown, Cohen, Dylan, Kinks etc, to the less predictable; Pink Floyd, Horslips, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Boston, Culture Club, Deep Purple, Kiss, Genesis etc and touches on all points in between. In addition to the covers, Ron also takes the time to revisit his own repertoire, offering up bare-bones solo readings of the majority of his back catalogue.

Here are just a few samples from Rawnboy, but I warn you - once you start digging through the huge archive, it's very hard to stop.

Monday 4 July 2016

Here We Come...

The new Monkees LP, 'Good Times!' is co-produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and features songwriting contributions from the likes of Rivers Cuomo, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller and Andy Partridge. Best of the bunch, however, is 'Me & Magdalena', a bewitching gem of a pop song, written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. Micheal Nesmith and Micky Dolenz handle the vocals. Sublime.

Friday 1 July 2016

A Clash Hot Shot

Back in January, Brian, over at Linear Tracking Lives, announced his intention to take us on an ambitious 12 month A-Z journey through his record collection. The good news is that he's been digging out some absolutely belting tunes along the way, many of which I've never previously encountered. The bad news from his point of view is that it's already July and he's only got as far as the letter 'C'. So the very, very good news for us then, is that his cracking series should run and run, hopefully - and long may it do so.

The most recent entry in Brian's journey (here) finds me on more familiar terrain than usual, as his featured slab o' wax is the 'London Calling' LP by The Clash. During the course of the post Brian asked us, his readers, to nominate our own respective favourite Clash tracks of all time. It's just this kind of question that could easily see me lose a whole day while I cogitate on the matter, though on this occasion, in a moment of extraordinary discipline, I plumped for the very first tune to jump into my head - 'Bankrobber'. My default version of the song is this extended one, lovingly crafted by a fan and downloaded from a blog many many moons ago. I've seen a few similar mixes crop up here and there in subsequent years as the technology has improved, but this one'll do for me.

The Clash - Bankrobber (Extended Version) 11.44

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