Monday 26 August 2019

Monday Long Song

A couple of months ago I drove 15 miles into the heart of the Suffolk countryside for an unforgettable evening of music in the atmospheric 16th century chapel at Walpole. Laura Cannell’s ongoing Modern Ritual series is '..ancient, modern, experimental, real, fictional, personal & folkloric and has become a unique platform for premiering works from outside of the contemporary mainstream.' The Walpole concert was the 12th in the series, featuring performances from Osita, Polly Wright and Laura herself. The marriage of venue and music could not have been more perfect. Laura Cannell is about as local an artist to me as it's possible to be. She's released two quite differing albums this year, both recorded in a 13th century church less than 3 miles from this house. The first of them, 'The Sky Untuned', was released in April and sits among my favourites of 2019 so far.

Laura Cannell - Flaming Torches

Wednesday 21 August 2019

My Words Just Fail

There's been a lot of stuff going on lately, some happy stuff, some sad stuff and I'll get back to all that in due course with any luck. Right at this moment though, at the very moment I'm typing these words on Wednesday morning, in a hospital somewhere in Essex, one of the few close friends I have is on an operating table undergoing open heart surgery following a sudden illness and a period in a medically induced coma. The rest of us are left reeling at this sudden and terrifying turn of events and send out all our love to his wife and family. All we can do is sit and wait for news.

Inevitably, I find myself sifting through memories of our 40 year friendship in search of any excuse to smile and my mind comes to rest on my 23rd birthday party, a surprise bash thrown for me by the gang. It was a long and glorious evening, one of the oft-recalled highlights being my mate's uncharacteristic 6 minute wig-out to the 12" mix of The Jam's 'Precious'. As soon as the tune started he stood up from the table where we were all eating a meal and spontaneously went for it, big style - totally on his own. Shapes were thrown and the rug was cut - he was a veritable one man Pan's People. At the song's conclusion he simply pulled his chair in and plonked himself back down at the table, leaving us all in a state of slack-jawed hysterics. It's one of those 'you had to be there' memories that still gets pulled out from time to time, on the all-too-rare occasions a few of the old gang find ourselves in the same room. I look forward to chuckling about it again with him soon.

The Jam - Precious (12")

Monday 19 August 2019

Monday Long Song

In the unlikely event that a modest windfall should come my way anytime soon, I'd give serious consideration to shelling out for the 22 CD Steve Hillage box set, 'Searching For the Spark'. I was a massive fan of Hillage's early solo albums in my teens and have been steadily reacquainting myself with his work, as well as that of many of his Canterbury scene alumni, over the past few years. In addition to compiling his own humongous career retrospective, Hillage has also found time to curate the forthcoming 13 disc Gong set, 'Love From Planet Gong, The Virgin Years 1973-1975' - another one to go onto my never-ending wish list.

Here's 'The Glorious OM Riff', the closing cut from Steve's 4th solo album 'Green', released in 1978. The tune incorporates musical elements previously explored on Gong's 'Master Builder', from their 1974 LP 'You' and therefore his former band-mates share a writing credit.

Steve Hillage - The Glorious OM Riff

Monday 12 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Ochno Ochno? Sorry, I have absolutely no information on these guys, other than the fact that they are (or perhaps were) a Swedish band, whose sole musical contribution to the world appears to have been an eyewateringly limited, self-titled cassette only release on the Ljudkassett label in 2016. 'Feberdrömmar' translates as 'Fever Dream' and the tune certainly has an unsettling air about it, particularly that haunting coda.

Ochno Ochno - Feberdrömmar

Monday 5 August 2019

Monday Long Song

Before it came the 'Brassic Beats Vol.1' compilation and Fatboy Slim's debut 'Better Living Through Chemistry'. 'Brassic Beats Vol.2' and the first Bentley Rhythm Ace LP immediately followed it. Sandwiched in the middle of this genre defining flurry of beat beat cacophony from Skint Records, was the virtually subterranean 'One' by Brighton graffiti artist Req. Whilst some of the stuff around it may now sound a little of its time, 'One' is still every bit as odd and unsettling as it was when I played it on a daily basis in my shop throughout 1997 and 1998.

Req - Rain

Friday 2 August 2019

Gonna Have a Party

In this photo, taken in our Walthamstow back garden in 1961, I'm the rather confused looking one year-old being held in the arms of my aunt, who, with her husband, lived upstairs from Mum, Dad & I until 1972. My cousin, who now lives in New York with her own husband and three grown-up kids, joined the household in 1963. In those crucial early years, my cousin and I grew up like sister and brother, with each of us having the benefit of an extra set of parents on call whenever we needed them.

My uncle died suddenly in 1978, when my cousin was only 15, so, tragically, he was unable to enjoy any of her great academic achievements or meet her wonderful family. My aunt still lives alone in the East Ham house they all briefly shared together. Tomorrow it's her 90th birthday and my cousin has arranged for surviving friends and family to celebrate the milestone on Sunday afternoon with a party in the function room of a nearby pub.

My cousin arranged similar celebrations for her mum's 70th, 80th and 85th birthdays, so the tradition is well established, albeit with a smaller attendance and noticeably frailer attendees each time. After work tomorrow, I'll travel down to London to join my aunt and her friends for her latest knees-up. In the couple of days that follow, my cousin and I will hang out, catch up and no doubt start making tentative plans for her mum's 95th in 2024.

Stray - Gonna Have a Party

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