Wednesday 31 January 2018

Drinking Lemonade Through a Plastic Straw

From Leeds in 1978, this is The Jerks with one of only three singles released during their four year existence. If you own a compilation album of second division punk bands, you may well find that it includes The Jerks' debut 45 and best known song, 'Get Your Woofing Dog Off Me', which originally appeared on Underground Records in 1977. The following year, now relocated to the Lightning label, the band unleashed single number two, the (to me at least) altogether more interesting 'Cool'.

I should declare a personal interest at this point, in that I was briefly in and around the Leeds scene during this period, becoming friendly with local bands The Squares, The Straits (no, not them) and The Jerks themselves. I spent many happy hours rolling around Yorkshire in the back of various bright orange Salford Van Hire vehicles, choking on the exhaust fumes, while trying not to become buried under guitars, amps and drums everytime we swung round a bend. Good times.

The Jerks - Cool

Monday 29 January 2018


Radio 1 A-listed, supported by MTV and with a debut single, 'To Myself', so beloved by John Peel, that he voted it into his top ten records of 1997, Cuff seemed on the verge of great things for a while. The band unleashed single number two, 'Yellowmaddacoolivision', later in the year then in 1998 followed with the five track 'Breathe' EP, after which they were snapped up by Atlantic Records and flew to New York to record their debut LP. And here, to quote The Sundays, is where the story ends. Somewhere between the conclusion of the recording sessions and the proposed 1999 release date, Atlantic Records and Cuff fell out with each other. The LP was never released and the band split in 2000. How awful must that feel?

In my opinion Cuff's finest 4 minutes were hidden away as the third track on the 'Yellowmaddacoolivision' CD single. The euphoric chorus of 'I've Just Had a Dream' grabbed my attention when I first heard it twenty years ago and still sounds thrilling today.

Cuff - I've Just Had a Dream

Friday 26 January 2018

Check the Guy's Track Record

Marc Riley paid warm tribute to former gaffer Mark E.Smith on Wednesday evening, when announcing Smith's death on 6Music. Their relationship wasn't always a smooth one (can anyone claim to have had a truly smooth relationship with MES?), but Riley acknowledged that Smith '...taught me a lot about life and he taught me a lot about music. The Fall were my favourite band when I joined and they were still my favourite band when I got kicked out.'

MES could be cantankerous, funny, ornery, mischievous, confrontational, grumpy, chivalrous, obnoxious, uncompromising, charming, single-minded, a thousand other things that made him the complex human being he undoubtedly was, but the unique noises he made with The Fall for over 40 years were wonderful, frightening and often utterly gobsmacking, right until the very end. We'll not see his like again.

The Fall - Auto Chip 2014-2016 

The Fall - Couples vs Jobless Mid 30s

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ashes in M'Beard

For 19 years The Gourds were an alternative American institution, the same five band members released 10 studio albums during this period, before commencing an ongoing hiatus in 2013. These days two fifths of The Gourds, Kevin Russell and Keith Langford, can be found performing as part of Shinyribs, though in 2002, 11 years prior to the cessation of regular Gourds-related activities, Russell released a 'solo' LP 'Buttermilk & Rifles' under the banner Kev Russell's Junker. This short lived side project featured contributions from all of his bandmates and even included one song co-written with his 3 year old son, though the record itself unjustly came and went with little fanfare. Kevin Russell and his chums have a wealth of great music out there and I'll undoubtedly return to The Gourds on these pages in due course.

Kev Russell's Junker - Ashes in M'Beard

Monday 22 January 2018

The Night Grows Darker and the Day Grows Dim

January 14th marked the 70th birthday of T-Bone Burnett - singer, songwriter, member of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, Grammy Award winner for the 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack and noted producer of records by such artists as Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Elton John, Robert Plant, Gillian Welch and Joe Henry. With all the success of his extra curricular work, it's easy to overlook the fact that T-Bone has also maintained an impressive recording career since the early 1970's. Here's the beautiful 'River of Love' from his self titled 1986 LP, my favourite of all his albums.

T-Bone Burnett - River of Love

Wednesday 17 January 2018

All That Jazz #5 - Ian Carr

In 1972, following three albums fronting the original incarnation of Nucleus, Ian Carr put out the 'Belladonna' LP under his own name. This excellent album bridges the gaps between jazz, jazz rock and prog, featuring members of Matching Mole, The Soft Machine and Gilgamesh among the supporting cast of players. Also in the studio for the sessions was Allan Holdsworth, a soon to be legendary guitarist, later described by a certain Mr Frank Zappa as 'one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet'. 'Hector's House' showcases Holdsworth in full flow. Incidentally, if anyone happens to stumble across a reasonably priced original copy of 'Belladonna' on their travels, please pick it up for your old pal The Swede - it's currently going for between £180 and £300 online.

Ian Carr - Hector's House 

Previously on All That Jazz: 

Monday 15 January 2018

All I Want

Snatch was a never a band as such, more a UK based collaboration between fellow exiled Americans Patti Palladin and Judy Nylon, which spawned just three singles between 1977 and 1980. In 1983 these tunes were gathered together, along with an appearance on a Brian Eno b-side, 'R.A.F.', and a handful of unreleased demos, to form a posthumous, self-titled compilation LP on the Pandemonium label.

After Snatch, Patti Palladin continued recording, alone and with Johnny Thunders, while Judy Nylon went on to release the terrific, Adrian Sherwood produced, 'Pal Judy' LP on On-U Sound in 1982, a highly recommended album, long overdue a reissue.

Snatch - All I Want (1978)

Friday 12 January 2018

Johnny O'The Brine

Always moving, always busy, Alasdair Roberts returns on March 23rd, with a new LP 'What News'. The follow up to 2016's 'Pangs' was recorded with Amble Skuse & David McGuinness and is once again on the Drag City label. Among the record's eight songs are a couple I've seen Alasdair play more than once, in fact he's been performing his interpretation of 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland' on stage for over seven years.

Here's 'Johnny O'The Brine', the first taste of 'What News' and an audience recording of Alasdair and old mucker Will Oldham duetting on 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland' back in 2011.

Monday 8 January 2018

Out of the Unknown

On my regular journeys up and along the A12, A14, A140 and M11 in the 1980's, travelling to concerts in London and the East of England, my one constant companion in the car would be a little portable cassette player. My faithful Vauxhall Viva had a radio, so I could at least listen to Peel when he was on, but otherwise radio programming in those pre-XFM/6Music dark ages could be a grim affair, particularly on the journey home in the wee small hours of the morning. So, with new batteries installed for the trip, I would head out on the highway with a miniature ghetto-blaster (affectionately dubbed the gateau-blaster) and a multi-volume series of carefully crafted, home-made, compilation tapes I dubbed 'Out of the Unknown'. The title, 'Out of the Unknown', derives from the 1984 debut single by Australian band, Died Pretty. The song was never far from my ears, heart or compilations at the time and it remains a stirring psychedelic masterpiece, dominated by Brett Myers' wailing guitar. Terrific stuff.

I caught Died Pretty in concert just once, in a support slot at Brixton Academy in the mid-1990's. I think I was the only non-Australian down at the front for their set. The band were tremendous that night, but, to my disappointment, they didn't play this song. Later still, in 1999, they released a career spanning compilation album entitled 'Out of the Unknown – The Best of Died Pretty', which, though packed with great tunes, bafflingly failed to include the title track! Perhaps by then Died Pretty had grown tired of that great debut single. I never have.

Died Pretty - Out of the Unknown

Thursday 4 January 2018

…i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces

It's been a busy festive period for your old pal The Swede. I've accepted every shift offered to me, worked bloody hard and, it has to be said, enjoyed practically every minute of it. After seven years sat on my backside behind a keyboard, it's been a tonic for body and soul to get out into the real world again. The available hours are tailing off now though and soon I'll be back to just picking up the odd shift here and there, which is much as I suspected it would be, so over the next few days I'll be starting to dip into the many blog posts I've missed while I've been otherwise engaged. Meanwhile, as a reward for all my efforts, I thought I'd treat myself to a very special release that's been high on my wish-list for over five years.

Long term readers will know of my fondness for vintage photos (a daily blog of photos from my own collection, Before the Streets Were Aired, is now into its third year of business) and old-time American music. In 2011, the wonderful Dust to Digital label (think a 21st Century, ever expanding version of Harry Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music') issued '… i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs 1880-1955', a 184 page hardback book which features 150 old photos plus two compact discs containing 51 vintage tracks, all transcribed from 78rpm records (dust to digital, geddit?) recorded between 1925-55. This terrific set was put together by Steve Roden, a man who has trawled the flea markets of America for over 20 years, searching for interesting antique photos and fascinating shellac oddities. It's a true labour of love and the whole package is even better than I dared to imagine it would be. Here are a few peeks inside the book (click any photo to enlarge) and a couple of samples of the music on offer.

Lew Childre - It Don't Do Nothing But Rain (1936) 

Sylvester Weaver - Damfino Stump (1927)

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