Thursday 29 June 2017

Let Me Come Over

A little bird tells me that 'Let Me Come Over', the third LP by Buffalo Tom, was released 25 years ago. Ouch. The anniversaries keep on coming don't they? Back in 1992, you'd find me haring up and down the A12, A14 and A140 two or three times a week, catching live music in concert venues all over London and the South East. I'd drive home through the night, snatch a couple of hours shut-eye, work all day, then quite possibly do it all over again that evening. Life was good. It exhausts me just thinking about it.

I've mentioned in previous posts the series of car-tapes I made during those years to keep me entertained and awake on many a long lonely drive home. Buffalo Tom were big favourites of mine in the early to mid-1990s and the thundering 'Velvet Roof' from 'Let Me Come Over' was one of the tunes that appeared on car-tape after car-tape. 'Taillights Fade' is probably the better known song from the album, but this is the one that does it for me.

A 25th anniversary edition of 'Let Me Come Over' was issued recently via Beggars Arkive (here). It's on my shopping list.

Buffalo Tom - Velvet Roof

Monday 26 June 2017

Work in Progress #2: Bob Marley & the Wailers - Could You Be Loved

'Could You Be Loved' was written by Bob Marley in 1979 and originally saw the light of day as the first UK single to be taken from the 'Uprising' LP in 1980. A number of alternative versions of the song have surfaced in recent years, the most interesting of which is this one, subtitled the 'Drumbox Demo'.

Could You Be Loved (Drumbox Demo)

Could You Be Loved (12")

Friday 23 June 2017

Red Gold & Green #19 - Gregory Isaacs

Your humble author with his copy of 'Soon Forward', purchased 38 years ago

A couple of weeks ago, in the 17th instalment of this occasional dip into my reggae archive, I shone a light on The Voice of Thunder, Prince Far-I. Today we travel to the opposite end of the vocal spectrum to sample a tune from that sweetest of voices, The Cool Ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs.

In a career spanning over 40 years, Gregory Isaacs was a prolific recording artist and you're on pretty safe ground picking up absolutely anything you find by the great man from the 1970's up to and including 'Night Nurse' in 1982. Thereafter, his prodigious output continued, but, with the exception of one or two stand-out moments, the quality was never quite the same. It was a long and painful decline, exacerbated by health and drug dependency issues until lung cancer claimed his life in 2010. He was just 59.

Here's 'Soon Forward', the title track from Gregory's 1979 LP on Front Line Records. A sublime performance from an artist at the very top of his game.

Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Organ Mantra

I've been AWOL for the best part of a week, busy ticking off a backlog of errands far and near. Several days were spent in London's East End, checking in with my elderly Aunts, both of whom were on pretty good form I'm pleased to say. As is my wont, I made a couple of compilations for the drive down to the smoke and track one on the first disc was 'Organ Mantra', the opening salvo from 'Hasta La Victoria', the latest LP by The Myrrors. I featured this Arizona band only a few months ago on these pages (here) and have to say that the noise they make is particularly well suited to a long drive in heavy traffic. Mrs S was unexpectedly impressed by this tune too, which is always a bonus. (It starts quietly, as Peel used to say).

Saturday 17 June 2017

Brother (From Another Mother)

Zsa Zsa Sapien at the national Portrait Gallery 19th August 2016, by your humble author

As recording sessions continue for the follow up to 2015's 'HiFi Classics', Meatraffle return with the excellent 'Brother', a limited edition 7" via the Moshi Moshi Singles Club and a song I saw them perform 10 months ago as part of their set at the National Portrait Gallery. Whenever I post about Meatraffle, I include a link to that tremendous debut LP and do so again today, without apology. Please check it out, if you haven't done so already. It's good for what ails you.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Hollow Everdaze

Every now and then, I like to take a look around at what's going down, musically speaking, down under. Last year I was rewarded for my efforts with terrific albums by The Goon Sax, Community Radio & Chook Race and already this year I've found a new favourite in the shape of New Zealand combo The Prophet Hens, with their recent LP 'The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys'. Melbourne’s splendidly monikered Hollow Everdaze joined the list a couple of weeks ago. The band have apparently been producing their own brand of psych-infused pop for nigh on 10 years and their second LP, 'Cartoons' is due for release on Deaf Ambitions next week. From it, here's the title track. Plus, as a bonus, the first thing I heard by Hollow Everdaze, the epic 'Last Laugh' from 2015 - it's the one that drew me in. If you like these (and what's not to like?), check out more here.

Monday 12 June 2017

Farewell Caped Crusader

Just as Roger Moore would later be my 007 and Tom Baker my Dr Who, so, a few years earlier, Adam West was my Batman. It's interesting to reflect that all three actors approached their respective roles with a knowing nod and wink, something utterly compelling to this young viewer. I was so obsessed with the Batman TV show from 1966-68 that, thanks to my parents, for my 7th birthday, I actually became the Caped Crusader! If you know me at all, you won't be surprised to learn that I still own components of the Bat-uniform in the photo (the hood, mask and shirt), rediscovered in the loft when I was clearing Mum's house several years ago - although, unfortunately, I appear to have outgrown them in the intervening 50 years.

Rest easy Adam.

Neu! - Hero

Thursday 8 June 2017

Tuesday 6 June 2017

The Battle

A recent Whiskeytown post over at Charity Chic Music got me reminiscing about the time I saw the band in 1998, at The Borderline just off the Charing Cross Road in London's glitzy West End. The subterranean Borderline was something of a regular haunt for me during that period, I could almost do the 210 mile round trip with my eyes closed and often drove home alone through the night with the windows wound down, to avoid doing just that. I had a mate along for the ride for the Whiskeytown gig though, who happened to be the guy who had originally introduced me to the band. Whiskeytown were joined onstage for a couple of numbers that night by James Iha, then of the Smashing Pumpkins. Iha had recently issued his first solo LP, the alt-country tinged 'Let it Come Down' and Whiskeytown covered 'Be Strong Now' from it in his honour. Iha would go on to contribute to Whiskeytown's third and final album 'Pneumonia' the following year. The show finished with Ryan Adams performing a seemingly impromptu solo interpretation of Johnny Cash's 'I Still Miss Someone'.

But one particular performance from the evening had me and my pal still gobsmacked an hour later as we sped back home along the A12 - the song in question was 'The Battle', a starkly beautiful Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary duet. Let's just say that we summoned the names of Gram and Emmylou by way of comparison - yes, it was that good. A recorded version of 'The Battle' wouldn't appear until 2002, and then only as part of a limited bonus disc issued with Caitlin's debut solo album 'While You Weren't Looking'. Fortunately her old mucker Ryan was on hand to recreate the magic.

When I am buried don’t visit my grave 
God cannot save me from the sins I’ve embraced 
Pay your respects at the old liquor store 
Where I won the battle, but I lost the war

Caitlin Cary & Ryan Adams - The Battle

Saturday 3 June 2017

Work in Progress #1 - Lou Reed 'Perfect Day'

The artist's sketchbook. The author's first draft. The filmmaker's rough cut. Very few artistic creations arrive fully formed, they need to be worked at - it is a work of art after all. It's no different with music. Acoustic home recordings, studio demos and alternative versions are all stepping stones towards the finished product that will eventually sit on our shelves at home.

In this occasional series, I'll be comparing and contrasting a musical work in progress, with the more familiar completed recording that we've come to know and love. I'll start with the song that gave me the idea in the first place, Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day'. The acoustic demo finds the song practically complete (give or take a lyrical re-jig) and beautifully rendered by Lou, at a slightly jauntier clip than on the finished 'Transformer' version. Lou really was singing so well during this period, as opposed to the almost wilful disregard for melody that increasingly became the norm in his later life.

As for the song itself, is it really about a 'perfect day' spent with his fiance in Central Park, or is the object of Lou's affection something altogether darker? We'll never know for sure, but in the wake of several notable covers, 'Perfect Day' has become something of a go-to rock standard.

Lou Reed - Perfect Day (Acoustic Demo)

Lou Reed - Perfect Day

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