Wednesday 30 January 2019
Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, traded as The Rosebuds between 2001 and 2014, releasing five albums on Merge Records, one on Western Vinyl, and several more through their own digital imprint. From time to time, if the clouds are hanging particularly low and the heart feels a little heavier than usual, I reach for a favourite old song and let it wrap itself around me like a comfortable old blanket. This is one such song.
The Rosebuds - Blue Bird
Monday 28 January 2019
Michael Rother from Neu! and Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Dieter Moebius of Cluster, together trading as Harmonia, released their debut LP 'Musik Von Harmonia' in January 1974, 45 years ago this month. They only released two LPs during their initial three year existence as a working unit (they reunited briefly between 2007-2009), but the music they made moved Brian Eno to pronounce that Harmonia was '...the world's most important rock band' at the time. 'Sehr Kosmisch' is taken from that debut LP and translates as, 'Very Cosmic'. Isn't it just.
Harmonia - Sehr Kosmisch
Thursday 24 January 2019
It's impossible to overstate the importance of Elvin Jones. The fact that he was behind the drums for the incendiary series of LPs put out by John Coltrane on Atlantic and Impulse between 1960 and 1966, guarantees his immortality in jazz circles, even though this merely scratches the surface of his phenomenal body of work. In a career stretching from 1948 until his death in 2004, Jones played for virtually every jazz musician of any significance, while also finding time to release close to 50 albums under his own name. The run of ten LPs he put out on the legendary Blue Note label between 1968 and 1973 are particularly noteworthy. The name on the sleeves was his, but the rotating ensembles he led were crammed with quality players. Here he is fronting an unusual keyboardless three horn line-up of Joe Farrell, Dave Liebman and Frank Foster plus Gene Perla on bass with 'Three Card Molly' from 1971's 'Genesis'.
Elvin Jones - Three Card Molly
Monday 21 January 2019
Swedish four-piece Automatism share core members with other favourites of this parish Kungens Män and Fanatism, though their overall musical approach is somewhat lighter and more spacious than either of those bands. 'From the Lake', Automatism's debut LP, was released last Summer on Tonzonen Records - physical and digital copies are available here. The album's centrepiece 'Propeller Propulsion' is a 12 minute chugger, to borrow a Swiss Adam descriptor.
Automatism - Propeller Propulsion
Wednesday 16 January 2019
As This is the Kit's near-two year 'Moonshine Freeze' campaign draws to a close and Kate Stables prepares to head home to begin writing its successor, bandmate Rozi Plain gears up to release her first album of new material since my favourite LP of 2015, 'Friend' (...and if for some reason you don't already own 'Friend', go get it here now!) Rozi's new record 'What a Boost' is issued on Memphis Industries on April 5th and 'Symmetrical', the first tune from it, arrived earlier this week.
At the end of the month my first concert of 2018 will be a This is the Kit/Rozi Plain double header, held in a teeny-tiny room as part of Independent Venue week. To say that I'm excited would be an immense understatement. Expect absurdly over-the-top lyrical waxings in due course.
Monday 14 January 2019
Sadly not my own work
If I'm in luck and get the timing right, on any given evening I can stroll down the lane that runs along the side of our house, lean on a fence in the twilight and sooner or later catch sight of a Barn Owl hunting for it's supper. I've been fortunate enough to see a great many of these majestic creatures round our way and they never fail to take my breath away. Tawny Owls, on the other hand, are illusive blighters - I've clapped eyes on a grand total of two in the whole seven and a bit years we've lived here. They're out there though, oh yes they're out there. We sleep in the loft, with our dormer windows facing out over the marsh, pushed open in all but the very chilliest of weathers. At dead of night we regularly hear Tawny Owl calls echoing around the marsh, sometimes far away, at other times virtually at the end of the garden - often for hours on end. One memorable night a couple of years ago, Mrs S had the fright of her life when a Tawny landed bang on the roof a couple of feet above our heads and proceeded to call to a pal some distance away in the dark. Mrs S was astonished to find that I slept throughout the entire extended kerfuffle, as the unusually close proximity of the owl's mournful refrain freaked her out considerably.
I pinged a missive to Sista Maj head honcho Jonathan Segel (he of Camper Van Beethoven) in November of last year to ask if the band's second full length album, 'Localized Pockets of Negative Entropy', was likely to be gaining a physical release anytime soon. He got back to me very quickly to relay the unfortunate information that no record company support was immediately forthcoming, meaning that it seemed destined to remain a solely downloadable artefact for the time being. Imagine my delight therefore, when a further email dropped onto my digital doormat a couple of weeks ago, updating the situation and bearing tidings of great joy. Not only has the album now been released as a limited edition double LP - it also contains two additional tracks than the previously downloaded version. Result! One of these days I'll return to Jonathan Segel and his various musical exploits, but for now here's an atmospheric taster from 'Localized Pockets of Negative Entropy' and the convoluted excuse for all the waffle in the first paragraph.
Sista Maj - Owls
Wednesday 9 January 2019
Over the weekend, I belatedly caught up with the Elvis Costello edition of Radio 4's Mastertapes on the BBC iPlayer. The whistle stop journey through a glittering career found Elvis in fine form after his recent health scare. Steve Nieve was also on hand to provide musical accompaniment and remind the world of his own particular genius. The full programme is here and seven uninterrupted performances from it can be found if you scroll down this page. Highly recommended.
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Man Out of Time
Monday 7 January 2019
In 1993, between 'Jehovahkill', his last LP for Island Records and 'Autogeddon', his first for Echo, Julian Cope issued 'Rite' on his own Ma-Gog label. Credited to Julian Cope & Donald Ross Skinner, the CD consisted of four instrumental tunes and was available via mail-order only. It quickly became a firm favourite in my house. As much as I love short sharp pop songs, I'm also a great fan of noodling. Sometimes noodling can form an extended introduction to a more focused piece of music, while at other times the noodling is an end unto itself. This is a good example of the latter.
Julian Cope & Donald Ross Skinner - The Indians Worship Him, But He Hurries On
My maternal grandmother remarried late in life and thus Uncle Ted became the only male grandparent figure I'd ever have. He worked at th...
Half-time in the back garden, circa 1969 As I've mentioned a number of times on these pages, my cousin and I grew up as virtual brother ...
As the shutter clicked, capturing a happy couple in the East End of London exchanging their wedding vows, 225 miles to the North West a youn...
When favourites of The Swede collide - Miles Davis sits in with ELP! It's been a couple of months since I reached for a lengthy prog pie...
55 songs in 55 days - one for every year of my life...so far. We moved from Walthamstow to Ipswich on May 3rd 1975. It was a brave ...