Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

1981


Suzy Pepper (33) from East London asks if any other 1981 classics are missing from this compilation.

I have resisted the temptation to suggest 'Outside The Trains Don't Run On Time' by the Gang Of Four, 'Flowers Of Romance' by PiL and the monumentally magnificent 'Ceremony' by New Order since we're talking cheesy, bouncy, slick and pleasy Pop here, angst fans.

Yes, yes, I'm sure some of you older and cooler boys and girls were listening to Josef K and The Fire Engines in 1981, but it was Dexy's, Visage, 'Vienna', 'Reward', OMD and The Jam's 'Funeral Pyre' ("81 was an 'orrible year for songs" - Paul Weller) for most of the kids in my 5th form as I recall.

Me and my mate Marty certainly enjoyed a spin of 'Fade To Grey' of a Friday night spiel session, especially for the posh French bird talking bit ('Un homme dans une gare desolee' - oh yes), but this was Devon, and 'blitz kids' were thin on the ground. Some girls started listening to Duran Duran, but that was about it.

I had my mock 'O' Levels in the spring and the real deal exams in June, so I was probably up to my harris in Bismarck and the reunification of Germany, wave-cut platforms and 'keep up your bright swords for the dew will rust them' for much of the year.

By September we'd made it to the sixth form, so we could wear jeans and desert boots to school, drink Nescafe from our own mugs (because we were Young Adults) and help out with the little kids' discos. But three halves of lager did us in.

This is my original 12" single all the way from back in time.

The Human League - 'Sound Of The Crowd' (12") (1981)

Drip Drop

Why do I continue to believe that drinking loads of wine and staying up too late is, despite all the evidence to the contrary, beneficial to my health? I suppose because I like doing both, but I confess to feeling a tad weary this morning, all told. And what is more, it is raining that kind of thick invisible drizzle that sticks to your person and sinks into your bones. Or your boots, if like mine they have a hole in the sole.

Nothing to be done but shove on some sweet Irma Thomas, as Soul Queen Of New Orleans she knows how it feels to be swampy blue.

Davy's Top Tip - I think you'll find 'Two Winters Long' especially magnificent.

Irma Thomas - 'It's Raining' (1962)
Irma Thomas - 'Two Winters Long' (1962)
Irma Thomas - 'Straight From The Heart' (1964)

[from this, which it will improve your life immeasurably to own]

Les Friday night frolics plus tard.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Carla Bruni A Lloyd Cole Kind Of Woman?


I think she might be.
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Lloyd Cole - 'Woman In A Bar' (2006)
Lloyd Cole - 'Music In A Foreign Language' (2003)
Lloyd Cole - 'Undressed' (1990)
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Very excited about this. It's been a long time LC.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Music Tuesday - arf!

Well, it's not the kind of headline you expect around here I know, but the truth is this was my prize from Mr Rob for guessing that it was Les Dawson with the bunny girls over at Landcroft House. Thank you kindly, Mr Rob.

The last time I won a prize for anything was at my primary school summer fair when I correctly guessed the position of the buried treasure on the papier mache desert island. I don't remember what the prize was actually, it may have been hard cash, but I do remember that my winning strategy was to stick the pin where no-one else had stuck it, a strategy that has served me well in other contexts and on more than one occasion since.

I haven't actually listened properly to this album yet, but then I don't suppose you were expecting me to 'review' it were you? It's the first day back after the Easter holidays and I am full of yesterday's hot cross buns and beer and my brain is a fug thanks to Ally's pesky quiz, so you'll have to make do, I'm afraid, with this flimsy excuse for a post while I go try my brand new green tea with jasmine.
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I know, get me.

Guillemots - 'Falling Out Of Reach' (2008)
Guillemots - 'Cockateels' (2008)
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[This lot are quite good actually; buy here]

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Letter


XTC - 'Dear God' (1986)

[Inspired by Mick]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is Your Journey Really Necessary?



Holiday Weekend Travel Chaos? Arctic Winds Hit UK? Snow Squalls Set For Easter Sunday?

Close the door, light the light
We're staying home tonight

(Aah, Judith...)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Elevensies

So I finally got the chance to return the Street Suite compilation LP to my funk buddy Wayne but his record player's mothballed so he said I could keep it.

We'd been enthusing about the glorious sound of the vocoder on those early 80s Herbie Hancock tracks and he'd brought this up to play me, many years and a hundred relationship traumas ago.

I can't think of another artist who transitioned so successfully from skinny tie Blue Note modernist to jazz-funk/electro pioneer and back again as Mr Hancock did. Those old school B-boys all went crazy for 'Rockit', and this from a man who had played with Miles Davis in 1963. Dammit but the man can also sing, and proved it on a handful of 80s pop hits and the magnificent 'Stars In Your Eyes', truly one of my favourite tracks of all time.

This'll be a strange week where Friday is not really Friday, Thursday does a decent stand-in instead and today is a kind of Wednesday that isn't, so I see no reason why we all shouldn't mellow-funk out a tad for elevensies today. My current fondness for green tea shows no sign of abating, meanwhile. Go figure, as they say.

Herbie Hancock - 'Give It All Your Heart' (1982)

[A vinyl rip from Wayne's comp; originally from the 'largely unavailable' this].

Monday, March 17, 2008

Still Pretending Life Is Like A Song

A post for Adam, formerly known as Crash Calloway, who has closed down his blog Pretending Life Is Like A Song whilst he deals with Big Stuff in his personal life.

PLILAS was one of the first UK mp3 blogs I ever came across.

By dropping in there regularly from here I guess I showed up on Adam's web stats, and he worked back along the trail to find me and to leave the first comment I ever got. He kindly linked to me, and then others started calling in too. This is how it works, and this is how bit by bit we've ended up with this lovely extended network, with lovely new people joining all the time.

I'm conscious that there's serious 'disappearing up one's own arse' potential in blogging about other bloggers - I can certainly remember thinking when I first had a punt at this that all the cool bloggers were bezzies and that they wouldn't let someone like me play (I was wrong) - so I'll be brief: when it comes down to it, what we are doing here is the oldest thing human beings have ever done; we are reaching out to each other, saying hello and making friends.
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It beats all the alternatives I've heard about.

Take care Adam.

Tracey Thorn - 'Goodbye Joe' (1982)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meanwhile...'1978 we brought you this...'

Friday Four Pack

Everything is everything as Mr Hathaway argues, and this Friday everything here's got soul.

The weatherman's forecasting more squalls, gloom and drizzle for this part of Planet Earth but I don't care what the weatherman say when the weatherman say it's raining because I got the warmth of the sun, or more specifically the warmth of these grooves, inside me, oh yes.

How'd it get to be the end of the week already anyhow?

It's like my old Ma used to say, the older you get, the faster it goes...

'Time and tide wait for no man, but at least you can move your deckchair further up the shore' - Ringo Starr.

Donny Hathaway - 'Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)' (1970)
Rufus Thomas - 'Funky Mississippi' (1968)
Joe Simon - 'Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor)' (1975)
The Stylistics - 'Funky Weekend' (1975)

[Recommended running order as listed. Vinyl crackles included. 'Funky Mississippi' written by Mr E.Floyd.]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Soul Food


Well it's been a right old blustery night again and no mistake but I been cookin' up a mighty fine, though I say it myself, Creole seafood risotto and listening to Al Green, What's Going On and Bettye Swann, so things could be worse. The Marvin brought me close to tears as I stirred the saffron and rice. It often does.

As for this...!

Mr Shuffle threw it out at me just the other day, and I think it may be one of the most perfect recordings I have ever heard. Seriously.

From beginning to end, there is nothing here that does not belong and is not wonderful - and boy, that voice, that sound.

I've written about Bettye here before - so no excuses now, go buy.

Bettye Swann - 'Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye' (1968)

Kiss me each morning for a million years
Hold me each evening by your side
Tell me you'll love me for a million years
Then if it don't work out
Then if it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye

Sweeten my coffee with a morning kiss
Soften my dreams with your sighs
And after you've loved me for a million years
If it don't work out
Then if it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye

If you must go, baby, I won't grieve
But just wait a lifetime before you leave
Then if you must go, I won't tell you no

Just so that we can say we tried

Oh baby, tell me you'll love me for a million years
Then if it don't work out
Then if it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye
Tell me goodbye.

[words & music by John D. Loudermilk]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Elevensies

Mick, bless him, happy blog birthday and all, tells me he 'hates jazz with a passion' and I suspect many of the rest of you feel the same - though some recent, sweet reminiscences in comments suggest otherwise for some.

Chaps I don't know why, but this music is just 'speaking to me' at the moment, that's all. I made a green tea with lemon this morning too (I know, I know), but at least I haven't been smoking any Gauloises (reminds me, you must read Crash's fine piece here).

Anyway, in my experience trying to 'sell' people music by talking about it is usually an utter waste of time - all you can do is tell them you like it and play it and let them make their own minds up, so that's what I'll do with this.

If the Duke Ellingtons left you unmoved, then I don't think this'll do it for you either - but hey, there's still some beautiful Blue Note cover art to admire, so all's not lost.
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If you're softening up on this stuff or already very susceptible however, do have a listen - and if you like it, I'd love to know (especially if you've never left a comment here before - don't be shy, life is short).
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For the record, I think this is quite, quite beautiful.

Horace Silver Quintet - 'Peace' (1959)
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[Available without crackles and pops here]

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I Think This Saturday Night Will Be Good



My Dad says if I'm quiet and clean my teeth first I can stay up late and watch this.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I'm Sorry Ms Jackson...

.... ain't posted this till now.

2 minutes 27 of foot stompin' bliss.

Votre vendredi soir commence ici.

Millie Jackson - 'My Man, A Sweet Man' (1972)
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[Not from the pictured album, but I couldn't resist the photo...]

Music Without Words

So something happened for me at the end of the 90s. I stopped buying things like this and this, and I started buying things like this. And reading this.

Had I come to it late? Oh yes. Though there had been Italian house cassettes and Electribe 101 and Orbital and 808 State in 89, and soul, jazz and disco long before - so it'd always sort of been there, waiting by the big speakers in the dark to get me. But now it burst through. I stopped playing music with guitars. I didn't give a toss about 'meaningful lyrics'. Indie was cliched and dead. All the innovation seemed to be happening in the genre called 'Dance'. I got grabbed by the guts by these elatory builds; I went to Ibiza and wept (the sunsets were stunning and the San Miguel helped).

My friends didn't know what the hell was going on. Is Dave now into that dance shit then?

You could say these were symptoms of some mid-30s crisis and I can see the logic of that, I really can. But the feeling, I tell you the feeling at the time was like hearing visceral music for the first time, like those baby boomers who turned on the radio in 1955 and heard Little Richard scream 'Lucille'.
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----
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I guess day-in and out this blog is still asking the question I was asking then and have asked all along.

Why do you have to like just one thing?

This fantastic track is posted with love x

Sasha - 'Xpander' (full length version) (1999)

[Fairly obviously you must play it LOUD. More Friday mallarkey later]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Streets In The Sky

Interesting stuff on the news today about this East London Estate.

Tower Hamlets Council wants to pull it down and 80% of the people unfortunate ( i.e. 'poor') enough to live there agree.

But 'a group of leading architects' is protesting, claiming that the building, by these people, is a model of its kind, comparable, in the words of the very famous Lord Richard Rogers, with the great Regency crescents of Bath.

Now I am neither an expert on 20th Century architecture nor, would I like to think, an anti-modernist nimby with a phillistine bent BUT I could not fail to notice two obvious things during the BBC's news report this morning.

1. The people interviewed who want it demolished either live on the Estate or have the job of maintaining it, and are what we used to call 'working class'.

2. The people who want to save it most certainly do not live there and are what we still call 'posh'.

Perhaps then I am an unreconstructed old reactionary after all, but the whole thing reminded me, and I bet you saw this coming, rather depressingly of this.

The Jam - 'The Planner's Dream Goes Wrong' (1982)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Night Of Love & Justice

My intrepid friend Carlos and I saw a very on-form Billy Bragg at Camden's Roundhouse last night; thought he'd be appearing with his band, but it was an almost two hour long solo set, and quite marvellous for that.

You know you're in for a good night when he enters with the faithful green guitar, opens with 'World Turned Upside Down' and does 'St Swithin's Day' third song in.

His choice of material managed to be generous and fresh and home-crowd atmosphere warm; cracking songs from this and this, a handful from the new one (all very good - buy), an acoustic interlude half way through and - "So Echo & The Bunnymen are playing 'Ocean Rain' with a symphony orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall..." - all of 'Life's A Riot' as an encore.

Did we nip afterwards to the boozer and miss our connections home? Of course we did. Did I wait for the night bus a long time in the cold? Hey, rock and flippin' roll.

These are from a concert at Salisbury Town Hall in June 2006 first given away here.

Billy Bragg (with Ian McLagan) - 'I Keep Faith' (live)
Billy Bragg - 'Old Clash Fan Fight Song' (live)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Morning Prayer

Another LP from the Ray's Jazz of old, and an extraordinary piece of music I can only describe as a prayer - to Land, People, Music, God, all four; you decide.

Written in 1970, when Duke was 69, for the New Orleans Suite; Harold Ashby on tenor sax.

You must prepare to have your breath taken away, I swear.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - 'Thanks For The Beautiful Land On The Delta' (1970)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Run Deep


So many wonderful recordings have been restored to me in the past few weeks of uploading the vinyl. I've never been without a turntable, but some old friends still somehow got neglected, came out now and then perhaps, but didn't get the constant play they once enjoyed.

In particular I'm finding the warmth between me and the old jazz LPs I bought at places like Ray's and Mole fifteen or twenty years ago has rekindled nicely, and I did go through a period of not often listening to this stuff.

Not sure that applied to this beautiful album, which I think survived all vicissitudes of taste, but boy is it good to have it on the iPo and to snuggle up with its intricate ripples and eddies on this quiet, cold Sunday night.

Though most of you will be reading this on Monday, and that's just fine, my foolish old romantic hope is that I catch a pair of sympathetic ears with it late night tonight, for this is music to hear when the crazy world's asleep.

Just a piano and a guitar.

Well, given these players, hardly 'just'....

Perfection; this is the LP's entire second side.

Bill Evans & Jim Hall - 'Romain' (1963)
Bill Evans & Jim Hall - 'Skating In Central Park' (1963)
Bill Evans & Jim Hall - 'Darn That Dream' (1963)

[Criminally cheap with bonus tracks here, but without those lovely crackles...]

The Ghost Of A Chance


Prompted by Ed's post here, I had planned to upload some songs from this long-deleted and rather lovely LP next week...

But, thankfully in the nick of time, I read this over at JC's.

What a brilliant, brilliant initiative.

Shurely if you are lacking in the splendid music of The Orange Juice and minded to do some good with your sorry self at the same time, YOU MUST GO THERE PRONTO.

There'll be no OJ posties here for the while...