Friday, September 17, 2010
My intention when I posted this about the later works of Lou Reed, was that I would follow it up with more examples of artists with hidden gems buried in the sand after they had been generally agreed to have jumped the shark. It's only taken me 3 and a half years to get here..
The perceived wisdom amongst music snobs is that Tim Buckley had 4 distinct creative phases - the hippy-drippy folky, the jazz-folky, the avant-garde nutter and then the sweaty funk pig.
Only the first three of his phases are ever discussed in the context of his legend, and the fourth is often dismissed as being an embarassing footnote, but I'm here to tell you that the last three "funk pig" albums do actually have their moments.
In fact these days, the only Tim Buckley I can actually listen to in any great quantity is the late-period stuff.
Buckley had honed his voice to perfection, and as a white soul singer I don't believe there has been anyone better. He surrounded himself with superior funk musicians and their playing was solid gold.
Sadly those albums did suffer from overly-polished production which took the edge from some of the performances but when the original session tapes were discovered and released in 2001 on the Dream Belongs To Me compilation, it became immediately apparent that this was hard-edged and crucially funky. In fact the 1973 sessions totally blow the 1968 Happy Sad out-takes out of the water on this CD.
Quite honestly two of the finest Tim Buckley performances in existence here:-
Tim Buckley - Because Of You
Tim Buckley - Falling Timber
Thursday, September 16, 2010
On the same tape as the Joe Henry album I talked about here were a couple of other artists I didn't know and one of them was Black Lab.
Just this one song - which I come back to quite frequently as I love it so much. (sad to say that when I checked out the rest of the album it wasn't so hot)
It's another one of those reminiscing about lost love songs and my interpretation is that it's about a bloke who sees an ex-girlfriend at the airport, looking happy as she heads off on her travels, and coming to the conclusion that "she is much better without me".
My favourite line is
"some people change, others hang on 'til they can't anymore"
The one thing that makes the track stand out beyond all others though is the fantastic one-note guitar solo at around the 3 minute mark. There aren't many one-note guitar solos, in fact not enough, but this one really excels as it tortures the life out of that single note (OK it's probably got more than one note in it but not many more). I had it in my head that this was played by Greg Lisher of Camper Van Beethoven but I can't find any evidence on the internet to back that up. I'm probably wrong then.
Black Lab - Gates Of The Country
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Yo La Tengo are one of those bands that have been around for years and years and consistently released good records, yet never seem to have risen to the hallowed ranks of indie royalty like, say, Sonic Youth. A real shame I'd say as YLT albums seem to have more songs (and less dicking about) than Thurston's mob manage per decade.
Maybe the variety they display makes it harder to pin them down (let's face it Sonic Youth have been making the same album over and over for nearly 20 years) and some people just like to know what to expect.
Here we have two of my favourite Yo La Tengo songs, and they bear absolutely no resemblance to each other. Could be different bands if you didn't know better.
Yo La Tengo - Mr Tough
Yo La Tengo - Our Way to Fall
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
In 1987 a new record shop opened in Derby called BPM owned by the chap who had previously run R.E.Cords on Sadler Gate (the first record shop I ever went in and bizarrely now the unit in which the re-activated BPM Records lives). As part of the opening special offer there seemed to be a huge rack of indie records at insanely cheap prices.
A lot of these were by bands that we'd never heard of and because we were all skint but desperate to hear new music we'd quite often just take a punt on the one with the best sleeve.
My sister bought the single "One Summer" by The Moss Poles and it was an immediate indiepop classic. Fast buzz-saw guitars, twee harmonies and a catchy chorus. It sounds quite dated now but it's still a great pop song.
BPM also had the follow-up single ("Underground") and then the album ("Shorn") for cheap but neither were up to the standard of this
Moss Poles - One Summer
Monday, September 13, 2010
Further fall-out from the Music Avalanche, this time Morphine who I think we must have seen on Later With Jools Holland playing their low jazz-rock music with the unusual sax/bass/drums line-up.
Sax in rock can be a bit hit-and-miss in my opinion but this lot nailed it, and Cure For Pain is a great song.
I also loved those pale-green Rykodisc CD jewel cases..aaah why should that have even mattered? I don't know. It just did.
Morphine - Cure For Pain
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Over the years I seem to have made an accidental habit of ending up at gigs I had no interest in attending, and whilst most of these have been miserable affairs (yes I'm talking about you Fields Of The Nephilim) every now and again I have ended up thoroughly enjoying myself.
The Band Of Holy Joy was one such occasion, dragged along by someone (probably Woody) because there was literally nothing better to do - I had heard a couple of their singles and not been hugely impressed, but live they totally blew me away.
Often lazily described as an English Pogues, they did indeed play more traditional folk instruments but they were a lot more esoteric in their song-writing. It was a far cry from the indie guitar bands of the time, in fact probably the only band I saw at The Duchess Of York that didn't have a guitar player
The singer was an intense young chap and the last song they played was delivered with such emotion that it was hard not to love it.
I'd always assumed this was about Marilyn Monroe but is apparently about a Monroe impersonator who mirrored her idol so closley that she even died the same way and at the same age. Quite a sad song then. But a good one..
Band Of Holy Joy - Bitten Lips
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Here's a lovely bit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan especially for the Pastor Terry Jones and his misguided followers (all 50 of them) in Gainesville, Florida.
Let's all just love each other yeah?
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Mustt Mustt
Friday, September 10, 2010
Another one of those records that dates back to the Music Avalanche - I don't actually remember why I bought the Zumpano album "Look What The Rookie Did", as I'm pretty sure I'd not heard them. So a blind (or should that be deaf?) purchase with only the Sup Pop label as any promise of quality, meaning I was expecting something heavy and thus disappointed.
It quickly grew on me though, a sort of baroque pop album not a million miles from Ben Folds. This record has some serious bounce. They did one more album and then split up.
I didn't realise until recently that the singer was AC Newman from The New Pornographers, but I maintain that this album is better than any of those from the Pitchfork Pant-Wetter's favourites.
Zumpano - I Dig You
Zumpano - Rosecrans Boulevard
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Yet another darkly brooding guitar band with a deep-voiced front man. Is this getting boring yet?
Breed were constantly raved about by John Peel and they recorded more sessions than most for his program, yet they never seemed to be quite as successful as they could have been - or indeed SHOULD have been.
Their second album "Violent Sentimental" is amazing and I recently traded in my tattered vinyl copy for a CD issue (I didn't even know it had been released on CD) via the magic of ebay
The singer Simon still seems to be doing stuff and one of the others (probably Ken..) was later in Placebo.
I also just noticed that I already plugged them once in an earlier post about Barbel but I have no memory of ever being aware that he was in Barbel - what is happening to me? Was he in Barbel? Who knows (or indeed cares)
Listen and enjoy this beauty..
Breed - Faithless, Broke and Powerless
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
I saw Dub Sex play a few times back in the day and they were always excellent and very intense. The singer was probably the first person I saw wearing jogging bottoms on stage.
"Swerve" was arguably their finest hour (although the follow-up "Time Of Life" is also really good) and to this day I still can't work out what he's singing at the start (please add your guess in the comments)
I only became aware of their second incarnation as Dumb some years after the fact, and they have an annoyingly un-Google-able name, so
most of what I know comes from this Myspace.
I've managed to track down a couple of 7" singles and one album but I'm still missing the "Thirsty" album.
They didn't stray too far from the original Dub Sex vibe but this single was particularly upbeat and should have been much more widely heard I reckon.
This one is also dedicated to everyones favourite scouser Wayne Rooney. He seems such an intelligent lad as well..
Dumb - Always Liverpool
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
1994 was a particularly bountiful year for me when it came to buying records, due in no small part to the fact I was sharing a flat with the manager of the local independent record shop Way Ahead (now the boss off successful folk-tastic record label Reveal Records)
It wasn't purely his commercial instincts encouraging me to buy stuff (and to be fair he did *give* me quite a lot of freebies) but we were two young blokes who loved our music, and I was like a child in a sweet shop for the most part.
One of the records that always takes me back to that flat is the solo album by Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees
I already owned a copy of "Buzz Factory" by Screaming Trees (on blue vinyl I think it was), which was an impulse buy on the wave of grunge that swept the nation a couple of years previously, and to be perfectly honest I didn't much like it and I sold it years ago. It ticked all the right boxes, minimalist sleeve, produced by Jack Endino, Seattle band, on SST but sadly it did nothing for me (as was the case with pretty much every grunge band outside of Nirvana and Mudhoney)
So I wasn't expecting big things from his solo album but was chuffed to find that it was actually amazing. I dug it out last week and can confirm that it stands up as still a great record today.
Mark Lanegan - House a Home
Will probably post a few more things from that golden summer of music avalanche over the next few weeks (Stina Nordenstam and Morphine spring to mind)
Monday, September 06, 2010
The James Taylor Quartet started out doing covers of 1960's film themes, and their second album "The Money Spyder" was the soundtrack to an imaginary film (yes...it's up there with Kiss "Music From The Elder").
Later on they went a bit acid jazz, which I wasn't so keen on, but by all accounts they are still going and have reverted back to their original style. I should check out the new stuff and stop living in the past shouldn't I?
I also have a distant memory (circa 1989) of frugging my socks off at a club in Bradford called "Dig That Hammond!" that played this sort of stuff all night. It was down some steps and in a very sweaty basement. No further details exist at this point in time, but if you can't tap your toes to this tune then you don't deserve toes.
James Taylor Quartet - One Way Street
This also reminds me that I need to blog something by The Prisoners at some point soon..
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Hard to belive it's well over 4 years since Ivor Cutler passed away
This session was the first time I ever heard him and after the initial confusion I quickly came to realise I was listening to a genius.
All of the stories told in this session are superb and featured in the book Fremsley but it's Cutler's delivery that really makes them come alive. I remember my sister coming into my room wondering why on earth I had an ageing Scottish man with me. It didn't take long before she was hooked too.
Ivor Cutler - Peel Session 15th June 1987
01 The Shapely Balloon
02 The Clever Night Doctor
03 The Aggressive Onion-Vendor
04 Me And My Kid Brother
05 The Perambulating Scottish Collander
06 A Wag At The Flicks
Saturday, September 04, 2010
In retrospect The Shamen are possibly the unhippest thing I could post. Images of Mr C bobbing around off his tits on e's and whizz come to mind, but back in 1988 (ie pre-ecstasy culture) I thought they were a great band.
This session includes my favourite single "Knature Of A Girl" which was typical of the industrial psychedelic pop they peddled in the early days.
"War Prayer" and "Misinformation" are two sample-heavy tracks that featured on the album "In Gorbachev We Trust" - the record which heavily sign-posted their imminent change of direction
The 3rd track "Nothing" is otherwise unreleased as far as I can tell
The Shamen - Peel Session 12th April 1988
01 Knature Of A Girl
02 War Prayer
Friday, September 03, 2010
I was always going to like a band with a name like Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet and this session highlights their guitar instrumental chops quite nicely.
I was never sure whether the Shadowy bit was a reference to The Shadows, because they have that Hank Marvin twang which bears more than a passing resemblance at times.
The last track is a corker - essentially being a medley of brief riff-snippets (riffets?) from cliched encore songs. Can you spot them all?
Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Peel Session 26th June 1993
02 They Used To Pay Him To Watch The Trains
03 The Jehrny
04 16 Encores
Thursday, September 02, 2010
This session from Scratch Perverts caught me by surpise as I didn't expect it to be that interesting. How wrong I was. A relentless 30 minute lesson in A+ scratching. Astonishing stuff.
Scratch Perverts - Peel Session 26th Jan 1999
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
I thought this session from Foreheads In A Fishtank was a killer when I first taped it and promptly bought the Happy Shopper single (which reached Number 21 in the 1991 Festive Fifty). As Peel quite rightly pointed out, the singer "managed to sound like Noddy Holder & Morrissey within the same song" and the style of music was totally at odds to the burgeoning grunge movement that was taking shape.
The album "Buttocks" was a bit of a disappointment and I don't think they reached these heights again (although they did release a completely bizarre cover version of Haircut 100's "Favourite Shirts" as a single a few years later that was quite entertaining)
Foreheads In A Fishtank - Peel Session 24th August 1991
01 Sylvester's Mother
02 British Telecom
03 Happy Shopper
04 Sex And Drugs And..