Saturday, September 29, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I have an unexpected day free tomorrow and in a carpe diem moment am taking the chance to visit The Aged Parents in South Devon. I'll be taking the train down from London and the journey will take me along one of the most beautiful stretches of railway in Britain - Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Dawlish section of the Exeter-Plymouth railway.
When the train leaves Exeter (last outpost of culture - a University, a cathedral, some bookshops!) it slips alongside the Exe estuary and you get this beautiful calm panorama of the river, the sandflats and the soft, distant hills beyond. At the mouth of the Exe, the train rounds Dawlish Warren, a duny sandspit with mini-golf and a few huddled beach huts, and then the drama begins; for the next few miles the track hugs the red sandstone cliffs on the right and on the left there is nothing between you and the open sea.
It's a calm day in the picture, but even on those the spray hits the train windows; on bleak winter days huge waves crash over the trains, the tracks and everything. Sea, shingle and storm debris frequently close the line. It's the most expensively-maintained stretch of railway in Europe and climate change is making things worse. There's talk of re-routing the whole section. God though, it's beautiful.
There's no interwebby in Devon: well, there is, but not in the home of The Aged Ps. So I'll be silent for a while. Back for the weekend, crashing surf notwithstanding...
Here are three very special songs that will soundtrack my journey.
Heidi Berry - 'Northshore Train' (1989)
Cocteau Twins - 'Road, River And Rail' (1990)
David Sylvian - 'Where The Railroad Meets The Sea' (1986)
And yes, I know it's about the wrong sort of station, but this seems kind of appropriate too...
The Field Mice - 'Coach Station Reunion' (1991)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I found this review of PJ Harvey's new album 'White Chalk' in the Observer Music Monthly at the weekend really intriguing, and the 'advance tracks' that are bobbing about the internet confirm that this one's going to represent a fair departure for Dorset's Polly Jean.
She's singing in a 'different' voice, has dropped the electric guitar for (mostly) piano and all in all is coming on like a Victorian Gothic Vashti Bunyan. Nice one!
Have to say I love the title track and the single (below) though was less convinced, on first listen at least, by a track called 'Mountain' which I found more than a tad, er, caterwauly.
I deeply admire her for innovating though, and Dark Pastoral is surely the zeitgeist again now we're all snapping up reissues of Anne Briggs albums.
You can pre-order 'White Chalk' here.
PJ Harvey - 'White Chalk' (2007)
PJ Harvey - 'When Under Ether' (2007)
[I'll be leaving these up for just one week officer].
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Paddy McAloon's acoustic re-recording of eight tracks from Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen (made to accompany the album's 'legacy edition' remastering by original producer Thomas Dolby).
Happy *sigh* and happy *sigh* again.
For the most part these are not 'unplugged' busking or 'solo live' versions of the originals, and I intend that as a recommendation because I don't know about you, but I always find that sort of thing a bit of a yawn...There's no puritanical refusal to overdub from Paddy, and though the only instrument is his guitar (and it is lovely) many of the new arrangements are almost as multi-layered as the originals and all of the songs are re-invented, sometimes very radically ('Desire As'). PLUS McAloon's voice is excellent - warm and strong and dark and sounding if anything better than it did 22 years ago.
Is Steve McQueen a Record Of Your Life, the 'Pet Sounds' of your 80s? Then I really can't recommend this enough.
Now please can we have a remaster of Swoon with a comparable 2nd disc treat?
Paddy McAloon - 'Bonny' (acoustic version) (2006)
Paddy McAloon - 'Faron Young' (acoustic version) (2006)
Sunday, September 16, 2007
It's thirty years to the day since Marc Bolan died in a car crash on Queen's Ride, Barnes - just a mile from our house (as it was a mile from his).
I cycled over there this afternoon and joined thirty or forty people milling about in the dappled light beneath the trees by the road, reading the messages, taking each other's pictures in front of the memorial, breathing in the incense someone had lit. A few looked like original rock survivors, and maybe they were even old friends; a few others, like the girls in the pic, were young enough to be their kids.
It was all very civilized and not especially solemn; downbeat but sincere. Someone had brought camping chairs. How very British.
I saw no feather boas except the one on Marc's plinth...
RIP Master Feld.
T.Rex - 'Cosmic Dancer' (1971)
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Stone me but these lads were 'tight' (even without Wilko Johnson on guitar).
Meanwhile for evidence, should you need it, that the young Paul Weller based his entire early look & moves on Wilko, have a look at this (recorded in 1975!).
[With thanks to Dr. Al]
Friday, September 07, 2007
'Do the hustle' indeed. *sigh*
They sure could dance though...
Toni Braxton - 'Un-Break My Heart' (Frankie Knuckles Franktidrama club mix) (1996)
[actually quite rare, though apparently being sold here for 77p! I've got it in Spanish too if anyone's interested. No, thought not].
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
It's not summer; it's not winter. The holidays are over and it's a long time till the next ones.
It's midweek. I'm (whisper it) middle aged.
I'm waiting at the station for the train of inspiration, but it's late...
Last night the iPo shuffled this at me, and it felt kinda right.
Ben Folds - 'In Between Days' (The Cure cover) (2006).
[from this; pic - the Millennium footbridge and St Paul's Cathedral, London, 6:30pm yesterday].