Friday, April 29, 2011

Edwyn Collins - I Hear A New World REMIXED 2 x 12" Promo

Another Edwyn Collins-based request I’m afraid – this time an unusual promo from 1997 – being a double white label 12” pack featuring a set of remixes

A1 Superficial Cat (Red Snapper Mix)
B1 Seventies Night (Deadly Avenger Supershine Mix)
B2 Superficial Cat (Red Snapper Vocal Mix)

C1 Downer (James Lavelle Mix)
C2 The Magic Piper Of Love (The Wiseguys Sniper Mix)
D1 Adidas World (Adileted By Sebstian Lewsley)
D2 Downer (James Lavelle Vocal Mix)

For the most part these are all otherwise unreleased except for:

D1 is on the 2nd CD of the Adidas World single - credited as “Episode 10 (No, No, No, Adidas World)”
B1 later appeared on the Ave Marina compilation CD on Marina Records

So I’ve been asked to post up the whole thing, given that the remixes aren’t even available as paid downloads anywhere either I figured why not?

Edwyn Collins - I Hear A New World REMIXED 2 x 12" Promo

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 4

The fourth and final batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1971 Beaver & Krause – Gandharva
1970 Emitt Rhodes – Emitt Rhodes
1971 Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse
1970 Honeybus – Story
1970 Little Milton – If Walls Could Talk

To categorise these albums, again I know nothing about any of them. Only Emitt Rhodes have I even vaguely heard of.

And so the final verdict?

Beaver & Krause’s Gandharva is a crazy album, stylistically all over the place and interesting with it. Definitely one to listen to a few more times to get the benefit.

Emitt Rhodes is great pop music. Unbelievable really that he recorded this at home on his own in 1970. Equally unbelievable that he isn’t more widely known, compared to a lot of other people operating in similar areas at the time. You can hear its influence on people like Ben Folds and definitely Zumpano

Eugene McDaniels is another slab of craziness. Not at all what I expected, it is in fact heavily funky and immediately apparent that I’ve heard at least one of these songs before sampled in hip-hop tracks (Beastie Boys “Get It Together” for one..). The lyrics are brilliant too.

Honeybus are even poppier than Emitt Rhodes. To the point where they just sound too much like The Beatles (or more specifically McCartney) for me to believe that this is really a classic album and not just a bright and pleasant but ultimately formulaic pop album.

The Little Milton album is also a stormer, like a deeper, more rough and ready Otis Redding, this has already been added to my list of great soul albums. Some of the brass arrangements are sublime.

All in all a much more satisfying batch than the previous lot with all the albums giving me pleasure, and Honeybus’ crime was simply being too “nice”. Here is a selection of tunes from within

Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes
Little Milton – Kansas City
Emitt Rhodes – Live Til You Die

And so I move onto the 1960’s. My initial investigations lead me to believe that there will be a LOT of rare and obscure psychedelia in there, and most of it will be post 1965...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Damien Jurado Live At Landlocked - AKA Record Store Day Sucks

Last week saw this year's Record Store Day - not just here in the UK, but in the US too.

A fine idea in principle and one that I've done my best to support over the past few years.

You see, time was when the 15 year old me would go into town on the bus and spend all afternoon walking from record shop to record shop, browsing the racks. In Derby alone we had a route that went RE Cords – Siren Records– (later)BPM Records – Collectors Records – Virgin (in Debenhams) – Our Price – HMV – Spot-On Sounds – Way Ahead Records. I may even have forgotten one or two (I’ve deliberately not included the market stalls like Felix Records as they mainly sold oldies and second hand stuff).

Now we have no independent record shops left here – and even HMV has moved it’s tiny selection of CD’s upstairs (with no lift so I’m screwed if I have the pushchair).

Even the mighty Selectadisc in nearby Nottingham is a fading memory.

So whilst Record Store Day is seemingly designed to boost trade in the few remaining stores , it seems like they’re fighting a losing battle.

This year in particular it feels like they might as well give up. I know too many people who queued at the shops to get the “exclusive and limited product” – only to find that it had already sold out. Then went home to find pages and pages of auctions for the very goods they couldn’t get in the real world – being hawked online via ebay, at two and three times the price.

So you wonder what is the point?

The net effect has been to increase online sales and drive up prices. Neither of which really benefits the shops that it purports to be supporting. Too many people making a quick buck by snapping up the goods and immediately selling them again online at enormous mark-up.

I’m not daft enough to think that this is somehow an outrageous surprise. It’s called the free market. If someone lives near enough to a city that still has a shop, and can be bothered to queue up then why shouldn’t they take the opportunity? Actually the answer is “because they should be better human beings” but as Nick Cave said “people just ain’t no good”.

I love record shops and I dearly wish that there was still at least one in my town, or even nearby – but the world moves on. I think we’ve reached the point where Record Store Day has surpassed its usefulness. Like in the TV medical drama when the idealistic doctor is still frantically applying the defibrillator paddles long after the patient is dead. It needs someone to put their arm round its metaphorical shoulder and say “come on..that’s enough”

The most annoying part of all this is that it does seem to spur the record companies into releasing some interesting and unique products. At which point you have to say “why don’t you do that anyway you useless fuckers?”.

The final straw for me personally was that the one record I wanted above all was the Damien Jurado Live At Landlocked vinyl LP – but this was only available in the US Record Store Day version of events – so I couldn’t get to a shop that stocked it without catching a plane. Of course a handful of ebay resellers will ship to the UK – for a small fortune. Plus I’ve been stung by our friendly customs tax too many times to know that you can add at least another £15 to the price of a vinyl LP, so I’m looking at the best part of £70-£80 to own a copy. The benefit of that transaction to Record Stores would be precisely zero pounds and no p.

Meanwhile in the modern world, someone rips it to mp3 and I just have to make do with hearing it in digital format and my record shelf remains unadorned.

I’ll probably get a world of shit for this post, but I felt at the very least it needed addressing.

Damien Jurado - Live At Landlocked LP

As for the Jurado record - it's as brilliant as I'd hoped for. He's amazing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 3

The third batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1972 Jorge Ben – Ben
1971 Spring – Spring
1972 D.R. Hooker – The Truth
1972 Bobby Charles – Bobby Charles
1971 Mickey Newbury - Frisco Mabel Joy

To categorise these albums is slightly easier than the first two batches as I know nothing about any of them in equal measure.

So the verdict?

Jorge Ben caused me concern as it was mostly pretty dire samba-pop with very ropey production. The Mojo review had said that one of the album tracks contained the original melody to Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” and I was baffled because I couldn’t hear it anywhere. It was at this point that I realised that I’d downloaded the wrong album! Once I’d rectified the error, I can safely say that the 1972 album “Ben” (as opposed to the earlier “Jorge Ben” album which I had just erroneously listened to) is much better but still veering towards the novelty side of latino pop. Maybe it was the Buena Vista Social Club of its time? I can imagine in the early 70’s it might have been the height of sophistication to listen to something like this, but in 2011 it’s most definitely nothing special.

Spring were an obscure Prog band from Leicester and this is their only album (so no mistakes to be made on the download front). As far as Prog goes it’s pretty restrained for the most part and is actually my favourite album of this bunch of five. Lots of mellotron, acoustic guitars and some quite folky passages. Actual tunes too.

D.R. Hooker (not to be mistaken with Dr Hook of “Sexy Eyes” fame) is another prog rock obscurity and generally as overblown as Spring is reserved. While I didn’t hate it, I couldn’t find anything to get me hooked. I usually find with Prog bands that they have one short bit in one song that grabs me and then I pick up the rest from there. There must be something special about this record though as it was only ever a private pressing, yet made it into the Mojo book. Not mainstream enough for a Wikipedia page though.

Bobby Charles as a younger man wrote “See You Later (Alligator)” and then later in life recorded this solo album with members of The Band. Like The Band I find this country-rock type stuff quite dreary and I skipped most tracks after a minute or so. Pah!

Mickey Newbury seems to be well regarded in Country Music circles but I hated this album even more than Bobby Charles.

All in all the most disappointing batch so far with the Spring album standing out as the only one which I can see justifies its inclusion in the Mojo book.

This track is one of the aforementioned restrained Spring tracks. A piano ballad with some touching lyrics (and a hint of a speech impediment “once I was a dweamer...”)

Spring – Song To Absent Friends (The Island)

It’s also worth checking out the Jorge Ben track which turned into “Do You Think I’m Sexy” – if only for the incredibly poor mouth-trumpet solo that sounds like someone’s Dad humming along with the tune (at about 1min 30s in)

Jorge Ben - Taj Mahal

Friday, April 22, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 2

The second batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1973 Dan Penn – Nobody’s Fool
1974 Lamont Dozier – Black Bach
1974 Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
1975 Jade Warrior – Waves
1975 Keith Jarrett - The Koln Concert

To categorise these albums:

Dan Penn I know from some of the songs he's written ("Dark End Of The Street" in particular) but never heard any of his solo stuff

Lamont Dozier - much the same thing. The album title was enough to convince me!

The Richard & Linda Thompson album is one I've been toying with buying for years and Last.FM regulalry sticks it in my "recommended listening" stream, so it's not strictly true that I've not heard it. I've just not heard ALL of it.

Jade Warrior I'd never heard of despite a penchant for a bit of Prog and having a Father-In-Law with an immense library of obscure Prog records. He probably has this but I've just never had the pleasure

Keith Jarrett is one jazzer I've never checked out, being more of a brass man than piano when it comes to jazz.

And the verdict?

Dan Penn was much as I expected, good songs, good arrangements and a good voice, but it doesn't grab me. There must be loads of albums in a similar style out there on a par with this?

Lamont Dozier really disappointed me on first listen. The second time around I warmed a bit more, but as with the Dan Penn album - it doesn't hold any surpises for me

The Richard & Linda Thompson is as good as I hoped song-wise. Linda's voice is beautiful and Richard's guitar playing really is something else at times, but I just can't get on with his voice. Now if Dan or Lamont were singing Richard's parts then we'd be in business.

Jade Warrior - not quite as prog as I anticipated, it's mostly quite ambient. Two long pieces that are actually various segments of music glued together. It's the sort of thing I like listening to when I want to read. Not so good when I'm driving or working (which is where I did listen to it). Falling asleep in both situations is frowned upon.

Keith Jarrett on the other hand has left me stunned. I'm only on day 2 and already I've discovered two albums that are as good as anything else I've ever heard. I still can't fathom how this was all improvised live, as it doesn't sound that way at all. Some of the passages are quite exquisite and as far away from "jazz" as is possible. I absolutely need to hear more of Jarrett's records, but now I'm scared that there is nothing better out there.

There are only 4 tracks on the album and 3 are quite lengthy so I'm posting the shortest, just to give you an idea and to save on bandwidth, but as with the Townes Van Zandt live album, the record has to be heard in its entirety to fully appreciate the performance. This track isn't even the best one..

Keith Jarrett - Part II c.mp3

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 1

Getting so frustrated with every new band I hear sounding like a poor-copy of a band from 20 years ago who already sounded like a poor-copy of a band from 20 years ago even back then, I devised a strategy to flex my musical brain.

A few years back I picked up a copy of Mojo’s Classic Album Guide from one of those discount bookshops (£3 for a book the size of a breezeblock) and whenever I find myself flicking through it I come across albums I’ve either never heard of, or never got round to checking out. And then never get round to doing anything about it.

So picking a decade (the 1970’s to start with) I’ve plucked 20 albums that fit into these two categories and intend to listen to them over the coming weeks.

It seems to work out best in batches of five, so for batch one I’ve been listening to:

1973 Townes Van Zandt - Live At The Old Quarter, Houston TX
1977 Suicide – Suicide
1978 Nick Lowe – Jesus Of Cool
1979 The Roches – The Roches
1979 Linton Kwesi Johnson – Bass Culture

To categorise these albums:

Suicide and Townes Van Zandt are two artists I’d consciously avoided over the years due to the constant name-dropping I’d seen in the music press amongst bands I didn’t necessarily care for.

Nick Lowe I know a fair amount about via his Elvis Costello associations and various cover versions, but never really listened to his own stuff

Linton Kwesi Johnson I’d heard many times via John Peel but never really got on board with the poetry aspect of reggae. Dub Reggae I can listen to all day, but I struggle with poetry at the best of times.

The Roches I know absolutely nothing about.

And the verdict?

Suicide is exactly like I imagined it would be. It’s like they’re trying to sound edgy and tough over gay disco backing tracks. Maybe that’s the point? I actually quite like it.

The Roches I came to with no such pre-conceptions but it’s all a bit underwhelming. There is nothing here to dislike and I can see it growing on me after a few listens, but an instant classic it certainly isn’t. I only realised after listening that Robert Fripp produced it, but it doesn't really show. Mind you, I've found that most of Fripp's non-King Crimson work takes some time to wheedle its way into my affections.

The Nick Lowe album sounds horribly dated and represents that period where the lines between pub-rock and punk were being substantially blurred. A couple of the songs are just too embarassing to listen to, but for the most part there are good songs buried in the production.

Bass Culture probably needs more attention paying to it than I have given it. Maybe I've just been watching too much Rastamouse recently to take it seriously (and serious it certainly is). Musically it's great, but I guess that's not the issue. Another one I have to give some more time too.

And finally the Townes Van Zandt live album. 27 tracks of just one guy and his guitar recorded in a tiny Texas bar over 5 nights sounds like it could be hard-going but I have to admit to being totally blown-away by how good this record is.

To carry off that many songs in that setting without losing the audience is tough at the best of times, but the whole show is so utterly captivating that it's over before you even begin to realise the time. You get a real feel for the atmosphere from the heckling of the announcer at the start ("Upstairs!") and quite how the rowdies are kept in check by the intimacy of the performance (even Townes seems amazed by the pin-drop silence during the first song). Some good surreal jokes in there too ("What's white and crawls up your leg? Uncle Ben's Perverted Rice")

Taking just one song out of context doesn't really do the album justice, but here's a couple of good 'uns which you may know from cover versions by the Tindersticks and Lemonheads respectively.

Townes Van Zandt - Kathleen [Live]
Townes Van Zandt - Waiting 'Round To Die [Live]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

James Kirk

Yesterday was one of those brilliant days where things conspire to make you smile constantly.

We woke up to the news that my chum Steve Domino (and more specifically his good lady wife) had given birth to a baby girl. Had an hour or so of breakfast time hanging out with our own baby and then found great quality New Order bootleg from 1985 online and spent the rest of the morning listening to it.

I’d put a load of our old crap on Ebay too and that finished around lunchtime and breaking the three figure barrier by the time it all closed.

Back home later for tea time with the baby and then on to see Derby County beat the Dirty Leeds United scum (coming back from 1-0 down in a majestic performance with a stunning winning goal) with my eldest. He’s been totally off football recently as he’s turned 15 and discovered some of the more exciting things in life, but the win had us both on a high and we talked about music all the way home. He’s just getting into Nirvana and we had an awkward father-son moment when I mentioned the Incesticide album. He said “Dad – what’s a b-side?”

I was still smiling this morning, and just when I thought things couldn’t get much better I received a whole bunch of Peel Sessions in the email – sourced directly from the recordings on DAT (ie pre-broadcast quality). Some of these I’d never heard before and some were great sessions that I only had on old hissy tapes.

So to spread the joy I propose another Peel Sessions week like the one I had back in September last year. Probably starting in Easter week. Watch this space

And for no particular reason other than it makes me feel like a good summer is just around the corner, here's an obscure track from ex-Orange Juice legendary guitarist James Kirk. Inventor of the JANGLE!

James Kirk - Faraway Station