Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Acting Out Your Own Death


Think we're all looking forward to this one: Anton Corbijn's monochrome film of Deborah Curtis's Touching From A Distance (which you should read, by the way). Expect film tie-in Joy Division promotional cut-outs at HMV, and 'Atmosphere' re-entering the download chart (if it isn't there already - does anyone, er, follow the download chart??).

Easy to forget that, even back then, Joy Division were bigger after Ian's death than before it - I don't think Radio Luxembourg were playing 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' before his suicide, but I certainly remember it fading in and out on that shaky frequency as a 'POWERPLAY!!' soon afterwards (every night after the 11 o'clock news and just before the ad for Cuticura Mildly Medicated Soap).

Peel, of course, had been there from the beginning - delivered the 'bad news, lads..', played 'New Dawn Fades'.

I loved them then, I love them still, and they get - not many bands do really - better still for me as I get older.

All that darkness was a Game back then, a Pose (not for Ian, that's for sure) - now it has resonance. I think only truly great art does that.

This is my favourite Joy Division song, if push comes to shove.

I hope it's well used by Corbijn - if ever there was a piece of soundtrack music looking for a film, this is it...

Joy Division - 'Shadowplay' (1979)

(from this, obviously)

I promise as soon as I've saved up my pennies for one of they USB turntable thingies, I'll upload my Live At The Paradiso Club Amsterdam bootleg too...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Un Film De Jacques Demy


25 degrees and perfect blue skies in London last week when we were working, comes the Bank Holiday and the roughest squalls and rainstorms we've seen all year arrive and piss on the nation's parade. The kids have been bouncing off the walls all day, there's nothing on the telly and all my favourite bloggers are 'away' (literally, in JC's case, though he's still blogging from Aruba, bless him). I lack, if truth be told, joie de vivre, upness and inspiration. What can I do? I've poured a Guinness - this does help - and I probably need now to watch a sad, romantic, broken-hearted, rainswept French film...something like The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. Except the wife hates it. *sigh*

Michel Legrand - 'I Will Wait For You' (solo piano version) (2002)

(Buy on this)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Get The Funk 'n' Saturday Nite In Here!


It being another Bank Holiday weekend in the UK and all, we're funking on Saturday this week.

Both of these have bass lines fatter than the lady that's yet to sing and a degree of joy to melt the hardest hearts.

Get DOWN!

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Earth, Wind & Fire - 'Saturday Nite' (1976)
Herbie Hancock - 'Saturday Night' (1980)

(Get the Herbie on this and the EW&F on this)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Douze Points


Is this the best Eurovision winner ever ('Waterloo' included) ?

Number 2 in the UK, April 1972 (as 'Come What May') - but this is the original in French. Which won for Luxembourg. And was sung by a Greek. Living in Germany.

I like all that.
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*sigh* I miss old time Eurovision...
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Vicky Leandros - 'Apres Toi' (1972)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Toto Post


Every joke reveals a hidden truth according to Sigmund Freud, or was it Clement?

Discussing a Dire Straits (!) post in comments over at the Tutu Vicar's The World Won't Listen recently I was moved to suggest that the famously scurrilous Toad should host a Toto Week soon. Oh, how we laughed!

And then I thought - hey, hang on a minute - that's not a bad idea...

Hadn't this US band, a by-word for bland, washed up 70s, session musician-led, coked-out, noodly keyboard bit, stadium bad hair soft rock AOR schlock (TM) actually been sampled by supercool NY dance DJ Roger Sanchez (saw him play the Pacha pre-party at Cafe Mambo in 05 maaaaan) for his chillout monster 'Another Chance'? Hadn't I already posted the Chicago-sampling Lemon Jelly groover 'Soft'? And hadn't I, dammit! when it comes down to it! ALWAYS, ALWAYS loved 'Africa' for reasons I cannot begin to fathom?*
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*Well, it's a good tune with nice rhythms betraying the band members jazz/muso roots - I can imagine You're Under Arrest era Miles Davis covering it like he did 'Time After Time'.

Wouldn't it be a hoot to do a TOTO-THEMED POST?

Yes, yes, yes and oh, yes my friends.

Joy Division bootlegs, Pastels b-sides, lost 80s electropop, Great Northern, Orange Juice jazz funk Sarah Records art rock bloody Slowdive be damned! Let's GET DOWN to David Paich and The Boys!!

Oh YEAH!

The sample
Roger Sanchez - 'Another Chance' (Afterlife mix) (2001)

The sampled (deep breath - this one could hurt)
Toto - 'I Won't Hold You Back' (1982)

The solid gold FM classic - no need for caution here
Toto - 'Africa' (1982)

And just for fun...
The famous line from The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

(Will you ever talk to me again?)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shoegaze Memories - Slowdive

If Curve's dodgy session-hack/pop tart past compromised their indie cred with the cool crowd despite the righteous racket of their music at its best, Slowdive seemed more reputable. Signed to Creation for a start, which always helped, they took less of the jet engine noises and feedback squall from scene progenitors My Bloody Valentine but more of the gossamer melodies you could find in there somewhere, and more than a little too of the swirly harmonies and wave-like rhythms of the genius Cocteaus.

Some of their stuff was positively, er, ambient.

For this reason, and the fact that they could cough up a good tune now and then, I find their stuff has aged nicely.

That there was a core of genuine talent in this band seemed also to be borne out by their longevity, if not as 'the Dive' (!) then as the reduced personnel Mojave 3 and later in the solo work of the lovely Rachel Goswell and the very talented Neil Halstead. The Halstead track here, a kind of Nick Drake piece for a 90s comedown, is certainly one of my favourite things of its kind. I have it on a Chris Coco/Rob Da Bank Blue Room mix CD given away with the now defunct Muzik magazine. I'll get to play it to a lovely sunset one day.

The Rachel album's pretty good too.

Enjoy dear hearts.

From Just For A Day (1991)
Slowdive - 'Catch The Breeze'
Slowdive - 'Shine'

From Souvlaki (1993)
Slowdive - 'Souvlaki Space Station'

Solo
Rachel Goswell - 'Coastline' (2004)
Neil Halstead - 'Sailing Man' (2001)

(Buy Slowdive here; Rachel's MySpace is here and Neil's here. While you're at it, Chris Coco's site here).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Real Modfather...


...is 62 today.

This is the famous performance of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' with John Williams from 'The Secret Policeman's Ball' (1979)

Friday, May 18, 2007

I Still Hang Around, Neither Lost Nor Found...

In many ways for me the very definition of the start of Friday night are the opening bars of this song. You never get to hear them on the radio because they always play the shorter single version and you miss that lush, sad, sweet, slow Randy Crawford intro.

They used to call this prologuey bit of a song the 'verse' - all those old Jerome Kern and Cole Porter and George & Ira Gerswin tunes have got them, and Ella used to include them but most other singers dropped them and they got forgotten.

For me the entire loveliness of 'Street Life' is in the shift from this blue beginning to the 1-2-3-4-GO! horns that launch the rest of the song. And then the song and Joe Sample's keyboards and arrangement really get a chance to breath in this luxuriously lengthy 11 minute version. It ends properly too - you think it'll fade, but in the dying seconds you get a soft echo of that first 1-2-3-4 and we're done.

Lyrically it's a perfect evocation of the sadness at the heart of the glitz of an urban Friday or Saturday night. The kind of thing, in an entirely different musical context, Tom Waits used to write about so well.

Are you getting that I love this record?

The Crusaders - 'Street Life' (1979)

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Patti Smith update: The Roundhouse is beautiful - do go if you get the chance; she opened with 'Gloria' and 'Redondo Beach'; 'Are You Experienced?' and 'Within You Without You' (yes, that one) were cover high-points and she told a very funny rambly story about visiting the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone. You had to be there. Hope I'm in such good form when I'm 60...(maybe I shouldn't have had those last two double Jack Daniels mind. My head hurts and we're out of Nurofen.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Are You Experienced?

I'm going to see Patti Smith at The Roundhouse tonight with Mrs H and my good friend Doctor Al, and to be honest I'm almost as excited about my first visit to the venue as I am about seeing the goddess of US art-punk.

It's very appropriate that Ms Smith is playing the first UK venue to host a Ramones gig (in 1976) and the place at the absolute centre of the late 60s underground scene that hosted 'happenings' involving The Pink Floyd (always with a The then), Hendrix, Soft Machine, The Incredible String Band and many others - especially given that her new album Twelve features covers of songs from the period and that she's always personified the creative link between the 60s underground and the CBGB scene of the mid-70s.

The place was built to turn steam trains around in (you couldn't reverse them, since you ask)and became a depot for Gilbey's Gin before its glory years as a rock venue and theatre. It closed in 1983 and lay empty for many years, re-opening only 12 months ago. I've noticed a number of bands I like gigging there in the last year but haven't managed to make it up there yet. So tonight's the night.

Will report back.

Meanwhile here's Patti with, respectively, a hit, a Hendrix cover and a non-LP B-side from the Easter sessions.

Patti Smith Group - 'Dancing Barefoot' (1979)
Patti Smith - 'Are You Experienced?' (2007)
Patti Smith Group - 'Godspeed' (1978)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Inspiration Information

inspire
v.tr. 1. To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence 2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion 3. a. To stimulate to action; motivate b. To affect or touch 4. To draw forth; elicit or arouse 5. To be the cause or source of; bring about 6. To draw in (air) by inhaling 7. Archaic: a. To breathe on b. To breathe life into. v.intr. 1. To stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence 2. To inhale.

This is a contradiction - I'm lacking in inspiration at the moment at the same time as being inspired by everyone around me.

All week I've been loving and repeat-playing the Japan and Sylvian-related stuff at Mick's joint (love the Mick Karn), whilst grooving to the American home valedictory zip from Liz. The Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls album London Lee motivated me to order from Amazon Marketplace finally arrived from Illinois (!) and Colin's Great Northern are on rotation play in the car. Grinderswitch are 'Picking The Blues' on my iPod after Steve revealed that theirs was the theme to John Peel's show and I have rediscovered 'Joan Of Arc' big time thanks to the Tutu Vicar. As for Ally - well, I never know WHAT she's gonna come up with next and WHERE she gets those Smash Hits and NME clippings from (yes, don't tell me - old copies of Smash Hits and the NME, very funny - but my Dad BINNED all mine). And then there are the words and the thoughts and the insights and the rants and the rarities and the enthusiasms, old and new - from JC, and Darcy and ornery old Toad....

What am I saying?

Well probably just, in the immortal words of Sir Bjorn Ulvaeus....'thank you for the music'.

Please visit these people if you haven't already - comment on their stuff, give them some love, disagree nicely sometimes too, if you must.

And then - maybe have a go yourself.

We all did because someone else had before us.

That's inspiration.

'Open up your eyes and ears and yer influenced, and there's nothing you can do about it' - Bob Dylan.

By the way - Happy Birthday Brian Eno, god of influence - 59 today x.

Brian Eno - 'Just Another Day' (2005)
Brian Eno & David Byrne - 'The Jezebel Spirit' (1981)
Brian Eno - 'Everything Merges With The Night' (1975)
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Buy Eno here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Delayed Execution Of All Things

OK. A quick update on an old post and some good news: Rilo Kiley have at last announced a UK release date for the follow up album to 2005's excellent More Adventurous, to be called Under The Blacklight. The bad news; it's August 20th!! (and no US release date has been set yet at all). Not sure what's been going on there in the Kiley Camp since the thing was supposed to be all but finished last autumn. Rock stars! Tchh.

Still....I do at least get to post another picture of Jenny Lewis, which I find motivational on a dull old cruddy day like today, and I guess there's a realistic prospect of UK gigs in the late summer. Hurrah.

Here's summat from this CD single. I like the title.

Rilo Kiley - 'Emotional (Until Crickets Guide You Back)' (2002)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Get The Funk 'n' Revolution In Here!


Some rare old school hip-hop for you this Friday (thinks: wonder how many readers I've just lost with that opening line...).

I first came across this when it appeared on The Mighty Reel cassette given away with the NME in 1982 (scroll down this page for track listing) and lent me by my mate Cool Jim.

I owe more to Cool Jim than he will perhaps ever know because a) he always heard cool things first and played them to me (I recall as if it were yesterday gathering by his turntable in his bedroom on a sunny afternoon after school as he plonked the needle down on Weekend's View From Her Room) and b) his mum had the coolest hippy record collection ever, and one we freely plundered (it contained Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow - an album I would list in my all time ten - After Bathing At Baxters, strange things by Donovan and lots of mid-period Dylan; Jim's mum also happened to be drop dead gorgeous, but let's not go there).

Anyway, back to the tape; this track leapt out at me from the others, though many of those were also excellent (sad that this and other early funky/post-punky NME tapes get few dues nowadays while everyone falls over themselves to laud the later, and much less eclectic, C86).

Enthusiastically, I shoved it on the end of a C90 of bits from Peel shows....and I still have it, though it doesn't play too well now. But it wasn't until last year when this compilation of early New York hip-hop was released that the track became easily available again.

Originally released as a 12" single on the Clappers label in 1980 (if you own it, insure it) it's an early and excellent example of 'political' hip hop, one of the first attempts to do something with the genre other than brag about rhymes, girls, cars and dick sizes.

That alone would make it interesting, but possibly a tad dull too - however, brilliantly, Brother D exhorts his audience to 'agitate, educate and organise' over a fearsome sample (re-recording?) of Cheryl Lynn's 'Got To Be Real' , thereby pulling off the old cake and eat it trick of making a record about the dangers of apolitical socialising that's great to dance to!

It deserves classic status.

So....whether it's an old friend you kinda lost touch with, or something you've never heard before, I hope you like it.

Brother D & The Collective Effort - 'How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise?' (1980)

Have a good weekend. I'm off to Disneyland Paris with the kids tomorrow (oh, the contradictions....).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Solo Flying Mystery Man


This is on the free CD with this month's Word magazine and I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, love it.

Word says nothing about the artist in question, but according to a review here, At Swim Two Birds is Roger Quigley, 'one half of The Montgolfier Brothers' who has been 'operating in the shadowy basements of the Manchester music scene for over 10 years' (?).
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On his MySpace page he describes his influences as 'sinatra & jobim, wine, fucked-up relationships' and says his music sounds like 'post-relationships being taken to pieces, bit by bit, late into the night, a glass and fag on the go...'
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I liked him even more after reading that.
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I'd love more info about this guy if anyone has it.
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At Swim Two Birds - 'Wine Destroys The Memory' (2007)
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shoegaze Memories - Curve


The case against:

The Indie Eurythmics - mates of Dave Stewart's; singer Toni Halliday had less than credible past as big-haired pouting 'rock' wannabe; guitarist Dean Garcia as a session guitarist. Gained attention by tapping their music biz connections and got lucky by surfing the 'shoegaze' zeitgeist. Waned along with it, though continued to release records no-one bought. Inspired Garbage. Despised by NME.

The case for:

Fused big brutal hardcore beats (and sometimes even rap) with My Bloody Valentine/post-grunge/industrial noise, angsty neo-goth lyrical content and infectious melodic hooks. Frequently brilliant live (Reading 1991, Glastonbury 1992). First two (pre-LP) EPs flawless and still sought after. Made big siren noises! Inspired Garbage. Despised by NME.

The evidence before the court:

From the Blindfold EP (1991)

Curve - 'Ten Little Girls'
Curve - 'I Speak Your Every Word'
Curve - 'No Escape From Heaven'

From the Frozen EP (1991)

Curve - 'Coast Is Clear'
Curve - 'Frozen'

The verdict 16 years on - yours.

(Official site here; fan site here; EPs compiled here).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Move With The Fashion Or Be Outcast


This just seems appropriate for May Bank Holiday Monday.

I'd like to dedicate this with love to all the mods, skins, suedeheads and scooter boys & girls, past and present.

'I worked myself to death just to fit in' - but never really did (too much of a hippy).

The Who - 'Cut My Hair' (1973)

(Buy Quadrophenia)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Get The Funk 'n' Holiday In Here!

Since this one's a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK I feel something special is called for in the 'funk in here' zone.

I know many of you dug the posts here from Bobby Womack's legendary Poet album and because I love ya each and every one I thought some stuff from the snappily named 1984 follow up Poet II would set your break up nicely.

Like Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear this was a 'contractual obligation' album. Womack had wound up in a dispute over royalty payments with Otis Smith, the founder of the indie label on which The Poet had been released, and the settlement required the release of one more album. Rather than deliberately sabotage the project with mediocre songs, or use it to detail bitter recriminations and hurt as Gaye had done (HMD being the divorce settlement for Motown boss Berry Gordy's daughter Anna), Womack plumped to make an album that would replicate the success of its predecessor, consolidate his new-found critical and commercial position and ensure all the major labels would trip over themselves to sign him. And so it came to pass. Aside from a couple of duets with Patti Labelle that don't quite come off (and don't get me wrong, I love her voice, I'd just prefer to hear these songs sung solo by Womack) it's a cracker - with Womack's voice rawer and the total sound at times even punchier (because of, or despite, synths?) than Poet.
My advice for tonight is to crack open a cold one and if you're cooking, add Tabasco.

Bobby Womack- 'Tryin' To Get Over You' (1984)
Bobby Womack - 'Tell Me Why' (1984)
Bobby Womack - 'Surprise, Surprise' (bonus track - acoustic re-recording 1998)

(Buy Poet II)

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In other news this week...

Emmett and the guys at the quite brilliant Art Decade announced they were taking a month's sabbatical. Since AD is a blog I visit daily, and since I always find something startling, wonderful, funny, unusual, unpredictable or brilliant there, and sometimes something that is all of these things at once, I will miss their posts madly. My consolation is that if the guys have a month free from blogging they will have more time than ever to rummage New York City's racks of lost vinyl and that we will all be the richer for it when they return.

Emmett posted a comment here to tell me that the John Barry tune I'd uploaded got iPod-shuffled at him on the New York subway: since the piece was entitled 'Nocturnal New York' this seemed rather wonderful. Myself, I spent a blissful hour cooking in my SW London kitchen a while back whilst groovin' to Jack McDuff tracks that Emmett had ripped from second-hand vinyl bought that afternoon on the streets of New York....

Isn't this blogging thing FAB?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

For The Rest Of Your Life

Just a quick one, can't stop.

Have you come across Great Northern yet? Colin at And Before The First Kiss tipped me off first: I've since found them all over the place. They're bloody marvellous.

Great Northern - 'Just A Dream' (2007)

Their MySpace is here; their album's Trading Twilight For Daylight and it's out on May 15th.

That's it! Will be back early tomorrow with a big funky Bank Holiday Friday post. Oh yes!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day! May Day!

Shouldn't you be out marching against something? Or reviewing troops & military hardware? Or even dancing round a maypole for chrissakes?

Tchh! What's happened to May Day?

Elefant - 'Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid' (2004)

(I know next to nothing about this NY band, and the rest of their oeuvre may be tut for all that I am aware. I like this though. Buy on this).
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According to The Oxford Literary Guide To The British Isles, 1977 edition (a book I am rarely without) the largest permanent maypole in London stood for many years at the corner of Drury Lane near the church of St Mary-Le-Strand. It was broken by a high wind in 1672 and taken down, occasioning these words years later from the Revd James Bramston in his 'Art Of Politics'.

What's not destroyed by Time's devouring hand?
Where's Troy, and where's the Maypole in the Strand?
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Erudition you get here my friends. Erudition.