Friday 29 March 2019

Version City #72 - Robyn Hitchcock sings Carl Douglas

JC, our mutual friend and Blogfather of this little corner of t'internet, has once again done me the great honour of featuring an Imaginary Compilation Album of my curation over at his place today. This time around, the subject of my attention is the one and only Robyn Hitchcock, a man whose music I've been digging for a frankly terrifying amount of time - 40 years! As I note in the post, the ten songs selected only scratch the surface of such a long, prolific ongoing career and I have every intention of following up with a Volume 2 in the fullness of time. I'm off to catch an intimate show on his UK tour in a few weeks, so expect more Robyn related gubbins soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the ICA here plus this bonus cover version from the 1990 Anti-Poll Tax compilation 'Alvin Lives (in Leeds)'. Thanks again JC.

Robyn Hitchcock - Kung Fu Fighting

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Mystery Bird

I stumbled out of the back door early yesterday morning and caused the usual flurry of panicked fluttering as numerous blackbirds, sparrows, doves and tits rose up and flew off from all corners of the garden. All except for one bird, which sat watching me from the conservatory roof a few feet away, without the slightest hint of panic. Its sheer apparent fearlessness made me jump a bit though. At first glance I took it for a gull, such was its size, but quickly realised that it must've been some sort of pigeon or dove - I've never seen that particular colouration before though. Can anyone put an exact name to the species?

Meanwhile, here's an appropriately titled tune from 'Inferno', the excellent new Robert Forster LP (available here).

Robert Forster - One Bird in the Sky

Monday 25 March 2019

Monday Long Song

Steve Westfield and the Slow Band had a good line in dark Americana, laced with a dry humorous twist during the second half of the 1990s, with their albums 'Reject Me...First', 'Underwhelmed' and 'Stupostar'. Though his Slow Band is no more, Steve is, by all accounts, still an active participant on the Massachusetts music scene. The title track of the debut LP was for me, their finest 8 and a bit minutes. Check those horns as they beckon you into the chorus.

Steve Westfield and the Slow Band - Reject Me First

Wednesday 20 March 2019

The Listening Project - February

In January, I began to list every album I play in full during 2019. The format is immaterial, LP, CD or Download, as long as the album in question is played in its entirety. If I skip tracks, cherry pick the odd tune or give up part way through, it doesn't go on the list. My aim, as often as possible, is to treat the album as a body of work, old school stylee. 

The results are in. The numbers have been checked, cross-checked and verified. Thanks in part to a combination of reduced shifts at work and a couple of endless train journeys, in February I listened to a grand total of 58 albums in their entirety, an improvement on the 37 I managed in January.

As the year progresses, I've no doubt that repeated plays of particular favourites will start to appear on these lists more and more often - I'm already finding it a struggle not to cave in and listen to the fantastic 'Drift Code' by Rustin Man endlessly. If that LP isn't among my top five of the year come December, we'll have been blessed with some stonkingly great releases over the next nine months.

Here's a list then, in order, of the 58 albums I played in full in February, with a track from one of 'em at the end. This month it's the typically odd, but nevertheless catchy as hell 'Token' by Panda Bear.

Beirut - Gallipoli (2019) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Nucleus - Direct Hits (1976) LP 
AMOR - Sinking Into a Miracle (2018) LP 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Robert Wyatt - Ruth is Stranger Than Richard (1975) LP 
Alasdair Roberts etc - Au Cube (2018) LP 
Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Sound On Sound (1979) LP 
Jethro Tull - This Was (1968) DL 
Soft Machine - Spaced (1996) DL 
The Specials - Encore (2019) DL 
Daevid Allen - Banana Moon (1971) DL 
Desert Heat - Cat Mask at Huggie Temple (2013) DL 
The Clash - London Calling (1979) CD 
The Lyman Woodard Organization - Saturday Night Special (2017) CD 
McCoy Tyner - Extensions (1972) DL 
Panda Bear - Buoys (2019) DL 
Francis Bebey - Psychedelic Sanza 1982-84 (2014) DL 
The Cosmic Dead - EasterFaust (2014) DL 
John McLaughlin - Devotion (1970) DL 
Lau - Midnight and Closedown (2019) DL 
Sister John - Returned From Sea (2017) DL 
The Specials - Encore (2019) DL 
Big Blood - Operate Spaceship Earth Properly (2018) DL 
Hugh Hopper - Soft Boundaries Vol.7 (2015) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Chick Corea - Return to Forever (1972) DL 
Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man (2018) DL 
The Coke Dares - Fake Lake (2018) DL 
VED - Demis Roussos Internal (2019) DL 
Meat Puppets - Rat Farm (2013) DL 
Kungens Män - CHEF (2019) LP 
Beak - >>> (2019) LP 
John Cale & Terry Riley - Church of Anthrax (1970) LP 
Lay Llamas - Thuban (2018) LP 
Karl Blau - Clothes Your I's (2001) CD 
Maria McKee - Life is Sweet (1996) CD 
Big Blood - Unlikely Mothers (2014) LP 
Bob Dylan - Scarlet Town: Unreleased Live Recordings 2018 (2019) DL 
Kungens Män - CHEF (2019) LP 
Richard Youngs - May (2014) LP 
Big Blood - Radio Valkyrie 1905-1917 (2013) LP 
Various Artists - Soweto Street Music (1984) LP 
Fridge - Ceefax (1997) CD 
Sleaford Mods - Eton Alive (2019) LP 
Panda Bear - Buoys (2019) DL 
Gong - You (1974) CD 
John Abercrombie, Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette - Gateway 2 (1978) LP 
Shankar - Vision (1984) LP 
Glenn Jones - The Wanting (2011) LP 
Albion Country Band - Battle of the Field (1976) LP 
The Chieftains - s/t (1964) LP 
The Stroppies - s/t (2017) LP 
Greenslade - Time and Tide (1975) CD 
The Long Ryders - Psychedelic Country Soul (2019) DL 
Robert Forster - Inferno (2019) LP 
Paisiel - s/t (2019) DL 
Julia Jacklin - Crushing (2019) DL

Panda Bear - Token

Monday 18 March 2019

Monday Long Song / Red Gold & Green #30

Across three slabs of wax, the 2002 Soul Jazz compilation 'Studio One Scorcher Instrumentals' offers up pretty much what it says on the tin - 19 scorching tunes originating from the legendary Brentford Road studio of Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd. From the album, 'Shockers Rock', officially credited to Tommy McCook, Richard Ace, The Skatalites & Disco Height, is a truly bonkers 1978 cut-up/remix of Roland Alphonso's 1965 ska cut 'Cleopatra'.

Tommy McCook, Richard Ace & The Skatalites - Shockers Rock

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Version City #71 - Ed Kuepper sings The Who

The 208th entry into JC's never-ending Imaginary Compilation Album series featured a guest posting from Martin, head honcho at New Amusements, with a mighty fine ten track whistle-stop trip through the career of bona fide rock legends, The Who. After spotting Martin's chosen subject on my phone, but before I retired to my laptop to read the post and check out his actual musical selections, I jotted down the first ten Who songs that sprang to my own mind, just for fun, so that I could compare and contrast the results. Inevitably our choices overlapped here and there, most pleasingly when it came to the band's marvellous, but oft overlooked 1970 non-LP 45, 'The Seeker'. Israeli beat combo Men of North Country put out a top notch version of the song on their 'Magic' EP in 2014, but, unsurprisingly, my own favourite cover of 'The Seeker' comes from the great Ed Kuepper, who released it on his 1995 acoustic tour souvenir album, 'I Was A Mail Order Bridegroom'.

If you haven't done so already, go check out Martin's fab Who ICA over at T(N)VV here.

Ed Kuepper - The Seeker

Monday 11 March 2019

Monday Long Song

As my musical tastes broadened beyond pure glam, or glam influenced rock throughout 1973/74, I began to realise that my modest Fidelty mono record player just wasn't getting the most out of my newly acquired progressive, experimental and electronic LPs. Fortunately my best mate had a stereo, a real one, not just a radiogram that happened to have twin mono speakers. His stereo had two speakers, hung on hooks, high on either side of his parents' living room wall.

When either of us purchased a new LP, we quickly got into the habit of retiring to his house, removing the speakers from their lofty position and placing them faced towards each other on the floor, about 12" apart. We'd then take it in turns to lay on the floor between them to gain the maximum stereo impact we could, from records like 'No Pussyfooting' by Fripp & Eno, 'Trilogy' by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 'Blackdance' by Klaus Schulze, 'Moving Waves' by Focus, 'Aqua' by Edgar Froese, 'Phallus Dei' by Amon Düül II, 'Phaedra' by Tangerine Dream and many others. I don't know why my mate's parents didn't just buy him buy a pair of headphones, but those were great times and every new record was a voyage of musical discovery.

These days I'm a bit long in the tooth for stretching out on the floor to listen to a record, but for the next 17 and a bit minutes, in my head at least, I'm 14 years old again and back there on my old pal's dusty front room carpet - lying between the speakers, digging the music.

Klaus Schulze - Way of Changes

Monday 4 March 2019

Monday Long Song

Glenn Jones put out nine albums as a member of Post-Rock group Cul de Sac between 1991 and 2004, before announcing a change in musical direction via 'This Is the Wind That Blows It Out: Solos for 6 & 12 String Guitar', a 2004 LP released under his own name. Since then there have been a further eight records of essentially solo acoustic guitar music, loosely bracketed as being of the American Primitive persuasion. Jones signed with Thrill Jockey for his 4th solo record, 2011's 'The Wanting', and has remained with the label ever since. 'The Wanting' is a double LP, with the entire 4th side being taken up what is still my favourite Glenn Jones tune, the epic 'The Orca Grande Cement Factory At Victorville'. The extraordinary piece, allegedly recorded by Jones in a single take, features a rare guest appearance from drummer Chris Corsano, whose contributions were pieced together from four separate overdubs.

Glenn Jones - The Orca Grande Cement Factory At Victorville 

(Check out 'The Wanting' and several more fine Glenn Jones albums here.)

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