Monday 26 November 2018

Monday Long Song

Robert Calvert died in 1998 following a heart attack, at a mere 43 years of age. While he was with us however, he was prolific, producing a novel, several plays, two collections of poetry, a bunch of solo records and of course contributing to a series of great albums with Hawkwind. 'Spirit of the Age' opened the band's 1977 LP 'Quark, Strangeness and Charm' and back then the song clocked in at nearly 7½ minutes, but in 2009 a deluxe double CD version of the album was issued on the Atomhenge label, with the inclusion of an additional 13 alternative and unreleased tracks. One of those extras is the full unedited version of 'Spirit of the Age'.

Hawkwind - Spirit of the Age (Unedited Version)

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Changing Costumes in Your Room

Island Records tried hard, so very hard, to get Warm Jets away. Throughout 1997/98 each successive single came in a multitude of 'collectable' formats and the band seemed to be constantly on the road - a never-ending promotional tour that took them everywhere from headline slots in small clubs to supporting major acts in vast arenas. I caught Warm Jets several times in that 24 month period and the highlight of the show was always 'Never Never'. Issued, re-issued, re-promoted, pointlessly re-recorded and re-issued again, the single finally scraped into the Top 40, but ultimately, following the release of their sole album 'Future Signs', the band were dropped by Island and broke up soon after.

Warm Jets - Never Never

Monday 19 November 2018

Monday Long Song / Red Gold & Green #29

The first Factory Records 12" single to find its way into my collection was Fac 11, the powerful 'English Black Boys' by Manchester reggae band X-O-Dus. It took the legendary Dennis 'Blackbeard' Bovell (who wrote and produced 'Silly Games' for Janet Kay, a hit at the time) a full six months to complete a satisfactory mix of the track, but the result was worth every second of his efforts.

X-O-Dus split in 1981 and 'English Black Boys' was not only their sole release on Factory, it was actually the band's only release of any kind until a compilation of unissued recordings appeared on the LTM label in 2012.

X-O-Dus - English Black Boys

Monday 12 November 2018

Monday Long Song

'Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance', a 1982 American experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio, examines mankind's relationship with technology. The film contains no dialogue, characters or narrative structure, relying instead on stunning time-lapse imagery and the equally stunning music of Philip Glass to set the scenes. 'The Grid' is a real highlight of the piece, visually and musically. The world wakes, gradually picks up speed and ultimately hurtles into overdrive.

Philip Glass Ensemble - The Grid

Monday 5 November 2018

Monday Long Song

Kiki Pau's fourth album 'Hiisi', the Finnish quartet's first full length outing since 'Pines' in 2013, was released earlier this month on the always trustworthy Beyond Beyond is Beyond record label. The 'Pines' LP is generally acknowledged as being the band's masterpiece, though for me this latest effort raises the bar even higher. From melancholic pastoral loveliness to full-on polyrhythmic wigouts and beyond, interspersed with occasional soothing birdsong interludes - what's not to love?

Kiki Pau - Hiisi (Part 2)

Check out and/or order the whole darned LP here)

Thursday 1 November 2018

Let's Make This The Big One

In the summer of 1980, following the release of their third LP 'Way & Bar', John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett headed out on 'The Tent Tour'. The gimmick was that admittance to the gigs was by the purchase of the album's second single, 'DK 50/80', only. So, with no actual door money coming in, John & Wild Willy pitched a tent in a campsite near each evening's venue and spent the night under canvas, before moving on to the next town the following morning.

A couple of weeks into the tour, they arrived in my hometown and before that evening's gig at a local nightclub, they spent a good deal of the afternoon meeting and greeting fans, signing albums and generally hanging out, in the local record shop. I'd been working at that record shop for just a few months by then and it was my very first experience of an 'in-store', as these events were invariably christened by record company types.

Otway and Barrett had one of their many parting of the ways at the end of the tour (perhaps not so surprising considering the hardships they no doubt had to endure given the unconventional accommodation involved), but together behind the counter that day, they entertained all and sundry like the seasoned double act they undoubtedly were - Barrett the slightly grumpy straight man to the gangly, flailing blur of movement that was Otway.

As the afternoon drifted on, their road manager tapped his watch to indicate that it was time for the duo to head off for a soundcheck. Customers were satisfied and all our stock had been signed, but we asked for something a little more personal to keep at the shop as a memento of their visit. Otway scratched his head and excused himself to use the toilet, grabbing a magic marker on the way. No sooner had he returned than the pair were whisked away leaving us to clear up the debris left behind.

(Otway & Barrett only had one real chart hit, 'Really Free' in 1977, appearing endearingly and chaotically on both TOTP and the OGWT at around the same time. The b-side was the epic, fan favourite, 'Beware of the Flowers ('Cos I'm Sure They're Gonna Get You, Yeah!)', which contained a much-loved and oft-quoted spoken intro from our hero, Mr Otway.)

A short while after the duo had left the shop, I had occasion to visit the loo myself and discovered Otway's parting shot. On the inside of the toilet door, in huge magic marker print he'd transcribed that spoken intro. So if you happened to find yourself seated and, erm, concentrating on the business at hand, you couldn't help but read, 'OK, LET'S MAKE THIS THE BIG ONE, FOR OTWAY'!

Otway & Barrett - Beware of the Flowers ('Cos I'm Sure They're Gonna Get You, Yeah!)

Otway & Barrett - DK 50/80

Greatest Hits