Monday 30 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Some good news arrived this week, from the wife of my pal who underwent a period in a medically induced coma followed by open heart surgery just a few weeks ago - he's been released from hospital to convalesce at home. He's as weak as a kitten, frightfully pale and drawn, under regular medical supervision and extremely tired........, but he's home. I'm typing this on Sunday evening and will very shortly pour myself a generous post-work glass of red wine, which I will raise in thanks to toast the phenomenal men and women of the NHS.


This Heat forged a uniquely experimental post-punk path for six years from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, releasing an eclectic body of music across two LPs and one EP that appeared to have obvious antecedents. Produced by Flying Lizard David Cunningham, this is the title track of the 'Health and Efficiency EP' from 1980.

This Heat - Health and Efficiency

Monday 23 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Photo borrowed from the Greasy Lake community

Time is very tight at the moment, but I just had to drop in to wish a very happy 70th birthday to The Boss. Here he is on his last visit to London with The E Street Band in 2016. I was there. Rumour has it that they'll be passing this way again in 2020 - if that truly turns out to be the case, I'll be there again. You should be too.

Jungleland (London 2016)

Wednesday 18 September 2019

A Hip Philosophy

'Old Liquidator', the debut LP by American alternative supergroup The Minus 5, was recorded and released in 1995 during an unplanned hiatus in REM's 'Monster' tour following Bill Berry's brain aneurysm. Core members Peter Buck, Scott McGaughy of The Young Fresh Fellows and Ken Stringfellow from The Posies were joined on the album by Chris & Carla from The Walkabouts, Terry & Tom from NRBQ and a second Posie, John Auer.

Imagine Bob Dylan produced by George Martin circa 'I Am the Walrus' and you'll be somewhere near 'Story', track 8 on the LP. Frustratingly the album version fades out seconds before the song's actual conclusion, but fortunately a few months later an alternative (and complete) mix of 'Story' appeared on the 'Emperor of the Bathroom' EP.

The Minus 5 - Story (alt mix)

Monday 16 September 2019

Monday Long Song(s)

Friday evening front row view

After managing, one way or another, to miss Soft Machine in concert for the entire first half-century of their existence, I'm now playing a belated game of catch-up having seen them twice in the past nine months, most recently last Friday evening at a venue just eight miles up the road from my house. Between tunes, guitar virtuoso John Etheridge mused on the band's long history, it's legacy, illustrious former members and, crucially, the precise nature of their genre - '...Jazz-rock? Prog-rock? Jazz-prog?...'

The original recordings of 'The Tale of Taliesin' and 'Hidden Details' are separated by 42 years, yet feature three of the same personnel - Etheridge (now aged 71) drummer John Marshall (78) and bassist Roy Babbington (79). The current line-up is completed by 55 year-old multi-instrumental whippersnapper Theo Travis, who has played with the band for a mere 13 years, while somehow also maintaining both a solo career and one as a sideman for artists such as King Crimson, David Gilmour, David Sylvian and Steven Wilson. Soft Machine ripped into both of these tunes and many others on Friday evening with all the thrilling inventiveness and attack of players a fraction of their respective ages. It really was a terrific show.

Soft Machine - The Tale of Taliesin (1976)

Soft Machine - Hidden Details (2018)

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Monday 9 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Faust's self-titled 1971 debut contains more musical ideas than you can shake a stick at and is quite the 34 minute sonic adventure. What it isn't though, is anything approaching an easy listen. The following year the band returned with their second LP, 'So Far'.  The record finds Faust still quirky, challenging and wildly experimental, but this time a tad more accessible. 'Its A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl' opens proceedings and is a particular favourite of noted Krautrock authority Julian Cope.

Faust - It's a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl

Friday 6 September 2019

Alden, Patterson and Dashwood

Throughout the 1990s, the Cambridge Folk Festival weekend became an excuse for me and a buddy to drink too much, talk nonsense and listen to some great music for 3 or 4 days and nights every year. I've attended the odd festival since then, but it's been a very long time since since I've tried kipping outdoors on the cold ground. This year, that same buddy came to my emotional rescue and offered me his spare ticket for Folk East. So it was that in the middle of August I spent a weekend under canvas, camping at a Folk Festival for the first time in a decade and a half. My buddy and I drank too much, talked nonsense and listened to some great music for 4 days and nights. It was just like old times and, not to put too fine a point on it, just what the doctor ordered. The highlight of the weekend was a set by the always magnificent Alden, Patterson and Dashwood. With an effortless fusing of traditional music from both sides of the Atlantic, harmonies to die for and a selection of superb self-penned songs, it's an absolute bewilderment to me that they're not internationally celebrated. If they turn up in your neck of the woods you'd be a fool to miss out. Check out their two cracking albums here.

Monday 2 September 2019

Monday Long Song

Mark Nelson has been recording experimental electronic music under the Pan•American moniker since 1997, at which time his actual day job was as one third of Virginian post-rock combo Labradford. This original version of 'Both Ends Fixed' appeared on a split 12" with Janek Schaefer in 1998 - and it's a gorgeously languid, reflective piece. The tune was later reworked and found a home as the closing cut on the Pan•American double LP '360 Business / 360 Bypass' in 2000. Check out more of Mark's music here.

Pan•American - Both Ends Fixed

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