Monday 29 April 2019

Monday Long Song

A few weeks back, I shared a Klaus Schulze tune as part of this feature (here). In the accompanying post I reminisced about the youthful hours I spent laying on my best mate's front room carpet, with a speaker either side of my head, as all manner of experimental music washed through my ears. Here's another tune from that period. Much of Edgar Froese's debut solo LP 'Aqua' qualifies as ambient or at the most, gently rhythmic. The exception is 'Panorphelia', which has an unsettlingly dark undercurrent about it that gave me the willies in 1974 - and still does.

Edgar Froese - Panorphelia

Thursday 25 April 2019

The Listening Project - March

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. 

After managing a total of 58 full albums during February, in March I listened to a mere 30. I played a lot of music, but struggled to fully apply myself fully to the task at hand and found myself flicking around - a couple of tracks from here, a few tracks from there. Must try harder.

A very fine record that has already appeared on a couple of blogs in this little corner of the internet is 'Dusty Notes', the 15th long player by Meat Puppets. Their third release, 1985's 'Up On the Sun', is an all time favourite of mine and in a couple of months I have a firm appointment to catch the band in concert for the first time since 1992. I'm hoping to pick up a physical copy of 'Dusty Notes' at the show.

Chicago Odense Ensemble - s/t (2019) LP 
The Stroppies - Whoosh (2019) LP 
Sleaford Mods - Key Markets (2015) LP 
Brix & the Extricated - Breaking State (2018) LP 
VED - Gershwin's Pipe (2010) LP 
Ashley Hutchings - Son of Morris On (1976) LP 
Frankie & the Witch Fingers - Zam (2019) DL 
The Furrow Collective - Fathoms (2018) CD 
El Guincho - Alegranza (2008) CD 
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (2005) CD 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
The Unthanks – Lines: Parts One, Two & Three (2019) DL 
Greenslade - Spyglass Guest (1974) DL 
Richard Youngs - Red Alphabet in the Snow (2014) DL 
Rustin Man - Drift Code (2019) DL 
Various Artists - Studio One Scorcher Instrumentals (2002) LP 
The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe (2019) DL 
These New Puritans - Inside the Rose (2019) DL 
Egg - s/t (1970) DL 
Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (2019) DL 
Our Solar System - Origins (2018) LP 
The Del Fuegos - Boston, Mass (1985) LP 
John Coltrane - Ascension (1965) LP 
James Brown - Ain't That a Groove 66-69 (1984) LP 
Paisiel - s/t (2019) LP 
John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, John Surman, Stu Martin, Karl Berger ‎ - Where Fortune Smiles (1971) LP 
Takeshi Inomata & Sound Limited - Innocent Canon (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams - Reprencing (2012) DL 
Anne Briggs - s/t (1971) DL 
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Mandatory Reality (2019) LP 

Meat Puppets - Nightcap

Monday 22 April 2019

Monday Long Song / Busy Birthday Week - Part Two

After deciding that I was going to travel to Nottingham and join in the fun at John and Bright Ambassador's inaugural Sunday Vinyl Session, I had a poke about the interweb to find out what might be going on in town during the evening, by way of entertainment. Amazingly there was a gig of interest at the Running Horse, in the very same room where I'd be spending the afternoon discussing all things Bowie. Johnny Dowd was in town. So after dinner and a brief pit-stop in another cool little bar, John, Jenny and I headed back to the pub where we'd met just a few hours earlier.

I knew only a little about Johnny Dowd before the show, but what I did know definitely ticked my boxes. Prolific, maverick, alt-country oddball doesn't begin to adequately describe the man and the music he makes. He's a dark poet, as funny as hell and as serious as your life. After the show we chatted to a couple of fans who are following Johnny's tour around parts of the UK. 'Completely different every night' said one. 'A totally different set from yesterday's' said another. I'm linking a short documentary on Johnny's 2015 UK tour at the bottom of this post, which is worth 18 minutes of anyone's time and will probably tell you more about him that I ever could. Johnny Dowd is 71 and already visibly more frail than when 'Disco Sausage' was filmed. If he tips up in your town anytime soon, I'd highly recommend that you give him a go. I really hope that I can catch up with him again one day. It was late, I'd had a long day, done a lot of driving and (for me) a lot of drinking. I was bushed. Hugs were exchanged between myself and my wonderful hosts and I headed off down the hill to my hotel. I suspect that I was asleep before John and Jenny had even caught their bus home.

On Monday morning I wandered into the centre of Nottingham in search of sustenance and enjoyed the most delicious breakfast/brunch in the Cartwheel Cafe - Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, sun-blushed tomatoes, potato hash, roasted beetroot houmous, red amaranth and spring onions drizzled with garden pesto. It really was amazing, as was the Rwandan coffee that accompanied it. After ambling around for another half an hour, I necked an espresso at Outpost Coffee for the road and headed off to Cambridge.

David Thomas Broughton is part singer-songwriter, part avant-garde performance artist - the clipped Northern diction of his sonorous baritone (think a 21st Century Jake Thackray), guitar and various electronic gizmos are looped, dissected and reassembled to inject sometimes spontaneous elements to each individual performance. He's a baffling prospect to many, but once you fall under his spell, it's hard to look away. He had the entire room in his hands on Monday evening in Cambridge. On Tuesday morning I bumped into him in the hotel lift as we were both on our way to check out. Not wishing to come across as a weird stalker type, I merely thanked him for a great show the previous evening and told him I'd catch up with him later in the day in Norwich.

I was in Cambridge and, as it was my birthday, I figured that I deserved a treat or two, so I made tracks for the frankly magnificent Relevant Records. I'm so glad that this place isn't my local record shop. I could have easily dropped a months wages without even starting to dig deep into the bins. As it was I behaved myself, coming away with Nursery Rhymes by Bill Wells & Friends (a physical copy of which I've been after since posting about it here), second hand copies of John Cale's 'Paris 1919' and 'Future Songs' by The Doozer, plus the Joe Strummer RSD 12" of 'Forbidden City'. Then there was more food, more coffee and a drive onto Norwich, where David Thomas Broughton's performance was in a public bar and free of charge. Unfortunately this meant that a contingent of the audience were not only not there to see him - they simply didn't get what he was doing. This resulted in much peripheral chatter from sections of the crowd, which was a shame as they were missing a terrifically engaging show. After the gig, I wearily drove the last 20 miles home through the night, the first day of my 60th year completed.

Broughton didn't play 'Silent Arrow' at either of the shows I caught on this tour, but it's become something of a personal favourite of mine and illustrates what it is he actually does pretty well.

David Thomas Broughton - Silent Arrow

Thursday 18 April 2019

A Busy Birthday Week - Part One

On Monday evening I stood towards the back of a small Norwich venue as Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs hurled their splendidly unholy racket in my general direction. And that was just for starters. Five nights later, downstairs in the larger room, Sleaford Mods made their third visit to the Fine City. While 'Moptop', Tweet Tweet Tweet' 'Giddy on the Ciggies' and 'No-one's Bothered' have all disappeared from the band's current setlist, newer songs like 'TCR', 'Stick in a Five and Go', 'Kebab Spider' and 'Discourse' have quickly become live favourites. Another grand night out.

The rarely seen Double McSwedeface

The following morning I was up with the larks and on the road early to reach a 2pm appointment in Nottingham. After a 150 mile drive, I stepped through the doors of the Running Horse public house to be greeted by a chap adjusting the levels behind his mixing desk. The event in question was the inaugural Sunday Vinyl Session and the chap twiddling the knobs was our mutual friend John Medd. Crucially, he didn't know I was coming and his casual nodded greeting told me that he didn't recognise me from Adam, so I did the only thing I could think of and held up the LP I was carrying so that it covered the bottom half of my face in a Swedey McSwedeface stylee. If anyone in the Nottingham area heard a clunking sound around that time, it was probably the sound of John's jaw hitting the floor. Along with his co-conspirator Bright Ambassador (he of Modern Gutnish), John introduced, played, then led an informal discussion on, David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory' LP. The three hour session was an absolute joy and fairly flew by. Exciting plans are well underway for future Sunday Vinyl Sessions, which will take place at the same venue on the second Sunday of every month. Watch John's blog / twitter account for further details - there's even a Facebook group you can join. Is there anything better than sitting in a good pub for a few hours with a group of like minded, friendly people, while listening to a few records? I can't think of anything.

My drive to Nottingham was punctuated by a couple of long roadwork related tailbacks, which meant that by the time I eventually arrived at the Running Horse, I hadn't had a chance to grab a bite to eat as planned. Consequently, by the time the Sunday Vinyl Session wound down at 5pm, I'd consumed a few beers on a stomach that had seen no food since a bowl of cereal at 8 o'clock that morning and was in imminent danger of sliding off my chair. Step forward John and Jenny, who marched their unexpected guest off to The Angel for a big plate of delicious grub and the first of many more beers that we enjoyed throughout the evening.

(To be continued)

Monday 15 April 2019

Monday Long Song

When Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve re-animated (that's remixed to you and me) Midlake's already sublime 'Roscoe', they, by their own admission, '...turned up the melancholy level to 11...' and created a very beautiful thing in the process. Now seems a particularly fitting moment to play the tune, given that tomorrow I turn 59 years of age, which, let's face it, is enough to make anyone feel a little melancholy.

As you read these words, I am, as a great man once said, '...on the road, heading for another joint...', in the midst of a flurry of gig and other extracurricular music related activities that are taking me hither and indeed thither. I'll be sure to report back when the dust has settled.

Midlake - Roscoe (Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve Re:animation)

Thursday 11 April 2019

Why Didn't You Tell Me?

Some months ago a friend, travelling by train in the general direction of the small town where my little record shop was located between 1986 and 2000, fell into conversation with an anonymous fellow passenger, who, it transpired during the course of the journey, was a former customer of mine. The conversation went something like this.

Friend 'Did you know Swede's Records?' 
Former Customer 'Yes. Shockingly sad about Swede wasn't it?' 
Friend '...erm?' 
Former Customer 'Hadn't you heard? He died several years ago' 
Friend '...erm?' 
Former Customer 'Yes, he committed suicide after his shop closed'. 

At this point my friend had heard enough, whipped out his phone and showed my former customer a photo of yer humble author in as fine-a fettle as I can manage these days. My former customer was, as you might imagine, gobsmacked to say the least. Apparently this unfortunate story has spread itself around certain sections of my old hometown in the last few years. Sadly, I suspect that my former customer had picked up on a combination of whisper and gossip, sparked by a tragic seed of truth.


Prior to becoming Swede's Records, my shop was Gordon's Records. Gordon ran the place for 4 years after buying it from Derek, who had originally established the business in 1981, quitting after a brief 12 month period. Before setting up the shop, Derek worked as a record company representative for many years, a career he returned to shortly after throwing in the towel and selling the business to Gordon. Derek often dropped into his old shop after I took it over in 1986, checking that I was doing ok and leaving me the odd bit of stock, as at that point I didn't have full record company accounts.

I'd originally met Derek way back in 1980, during my very earliest days of working behind the counter in a branch of a small independent record shop chain. Most of the reps quite understandably ignored me, reserving all of their conversation, attention and persuasive powers for the manager or new release buyer, but Derek was the kind of guy who had time for everybody. During one of our many conversations, I happened to mention how much I liked Fischer-Z's 'So Long', a single available on the record label that he worked for. Several minutes later, when he returned from his car with an armful of stock for the shop, Derek discreetly slipped me a copy of the 45 in question. 'There you go' he said. A few weeks later, Derek was in the shop again, to push the band's then current 'Going Deaf For a Living' album and, remembering our previous conversation, handed me a copy of the LP and a Fischer-Z promotional t-shirt. I was overwhelmed to be quite honest. He had no cause or reason to to give me anything at all, as I was the new kid in town and had next to no influence over what we stocked, but, in time, I came to realise that this small gesture of kindness was typical of the man.

One evening in 1986 Derek phoned me at home to ask if I wanted to meet up for a pint, but I wasn't able to, so suggested that we rearrange for later in the week. He appeared to be fine with that and told me not to worry, but apparently later left the house, telling his wife that he and I were going to the pub for the evening anyway. The following morning Derek's body was discovered in his car at the end of a remote country lane. The police and members of Derek's family were initially convinced that I must've been the last person to see him alive, until I explained that we hadn't actually met up at all.

In 1986 I was a ridiculously naive 26 year old, having the time of my life, living the dream of running in my own tiny record shop and completely oblivious to Derek's dreadful depression, as, it transpires, were virtually all his friends and family. He was a lovely bear of a man, liked by absolutely everyone and seemed very grown up from my perspective, but was actually only 37 - no age at all. I can only assume that the relatively recent rumour of my own demise somehow stemmed from a series of confused, half-forgotten memories of Derek's tragic fate all those years ago.

Fischer-Z - So Long

(Many thanks to Swiss Adam for reminding us of these vitally important organisations in his recent Keith Flint tribute: Campaign Against Living Miserably & The Samaritans.)

Monday 8 April 2019

Monday Long Song

In spite of what your ears may try to tell you, Paisiel is the work of just two men, João Pais Filipe and Julius Gabriel. Their self-titled debut actually emerged last year, on cassette only, via the Portuguese label Lovers & Lollipops, though thankfully the marvellous UK based independent Rocket Recordings has now seen fit to give the album a proper LP release, albeit as a blue vinyl limited edition of just 500. Instead of flailing around for an adequate way to describe this essentially indescribable music, I'll share a simple, but accurate quote from a review: '...a rhythmic plane between Africa, techno, krautrock, and minimalism...'

'Paisiel' will feature among my favourite records of 2019 come December, of that I have no doubt whatsoever.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Happy 70th Birthday Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson has cropped up on these pages several times over the years, not least here with a stunning performance of what is quite simply one of the greatest songs ever written. Today, Richard hits 70 years of age and thankfully shows no sign of slowing down. Even though his long recording career has resulted in a nigh-on impeccable series of albums, you really do have to see the man perform live to truly appreciate his full genius. I'm due to catch him in concert once again in the Summer, after which I'll be sure to report back.

Many happy returns of the day Mr Thompson.

Monday 1 April 2019

Monday Long Song

82 year old Japanese drummer Takeshi Inomata has contributed to over 300 recordings during his long career. 'Theme - Mustache' is track one side one from his very first LP, 'Sounds of Sounds Ltd', released way back in 1970. After 2 minutes of random introductory noodlings, the tune suddenly blossoms into a tight funk workout, incorporating impressive guitar, organ, flute and, of course, drum solos. Then, at around 6.25, a sleazy horn overture clears a path for....well, if you saw that coming, I certainly didn't. Remember, this was 1970.

Takeshi Inomata & Sound Ltd - Theme-Mustache

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