Tunin' the motor, like a weekend boater
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Monday, April 16, 2018
U.K. Freak Rock
(Volume # 1)
I’ve been palming variations on this comp CD off on people for several years now, and I think the track list is now in it’s third, possibly fourth, iteration – so it’s about time I stuck it up on the weblog.
The initial impetus behind it was to provide something of a sampler for folks who dug Black Sabbath and Led Zep but hadn’t yet moved on to check out the wider field of mutant, riff-blasting heavy rock music that existed alongside them in the ‘70s British underground.
As I dug deeper into the period myself however, and kept discovering more great records and great stories, the track list began to take on a slightly more ambitious aim – namely, that of demonstrating the solid through-line of anti-authoritarian rage, musical thuggery and hair-raising electrified noise that ran straight from the psychedelia and counter-culture aligned free festival rock of the late ‘60s to the explosion of punk and heavy metal at the end of the ‘70s, and of countering the offensively reductive “hippies > prog > punk” timeline that various divvies continue to trot out every time the BBC makes a documentary.
1. Admittedly, some may wonder where exactly Badfinger fit into all this, but I would urge them to sample their track here before scoffing, because it is certifiably bad-ass.
2. Likewise, some may feel some of my choices here are a tad obvious – particularly in light of the many ‘70s Heavy compilations that have appeared in recent years - but I would ask readers to reflect on the fact that there are still many listeners out there for whom such hallowed names as Stackwaddy, Edgar Broughton Band, Third World War etc mean nothing. Imagine their pupils dilating as this oversight is corrected, and I’m sure you grizzled vets can stand to sit through ‘Maypole’ one more time.
3. Others still may question the total lack of female representation on this comp, and, whilst I realise that “it was the ‘70s, 98% of music was made by hairy-chested, ale-swilling brutes with facial hair like Genghis Khan” doesn’t constitute much of an excuse, I’ll simply say that, if you know of any good female-led British heavy rock bands from the 1970s, please tell me, because I’d love to listen to them.
4. Do you think there’s too much Hawkwind? It did cross my mind, but… if you can conceive of the concept of “too much Hawkwind”, you are probably not the target audience for this comp.
So -- case closed. I love every bit of this track list beyond words, and I’m gonna stick with it. Meanwhile, I’ve got Volume # 2 on the go, and if anything, I like it even better than this one, so if you get a kick out of Vol # 1 and/or want to complain that I’ve missed out your favourites, stick around.
WARNING: Please be aware that this compilation contains a LOT of rockin’ lead guitar. So much rockin’ lead guitar in fact that even the most ardent fans of rockin’ lead guitar are advised to split listening across several sittings to avoid burn-out. You have been warned.
Full track-list with timecodes as follows:
00:00 The Pink Fairies - Do It
02:57 Hawkwind - Master of the Universe (live)
10:22 Stackwaddy - Roadrunner
13:44 The Way We Live - King Dick II
16:58 Edgar Broughton Band - Out Demons Out
21:44 Badfinger - Suitcase (BBC session)
29:05 The Deviants - Slum Lord
31:19 Third World War - Ascension Day
36:10 Dark - Maypole
41:10 Wicked Lady - Run The Night
46:17 High Tide - Futilist's Lament
51:34 Twink - Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box
56:00 Red Dirt - Memories
58:03 Atomic Rooster - I Can't Take No More
61:34 Larry Wallis - Police Car
64:52 Motorhead - Iron Horse / Born To Lose
70:09 Hawkwind - Urban Guerrilla
(Sneaky download link.)
Friday, April 06, 2018
David Terry –
So I finally did it folks – I bought a cassette tape. Via mail order, for £8.50 including postage. I don’t even have a decent tape player at the time of writing, but such was my desire to hear David Terry’s ‘Sorrow’ through the big speakers after streaming it online, I had to go the physical option, perhaps finally prompting me to start scouring local ‘Collection Only’ ebay listing in search of a double tape deck. (THINKS OUT LOUD: Then I could finally listen to those Indian classical tapes I rescued from a bin too…)
Anyway - with that out of way, banish the preceding paragraph from your brain, for such nattering crap is, it’s safe to say, complete anathema to the atmosphere of earthless, transcendental Romanticism David Terry seeks to evoke herein.
If you’ve been reading these pages for a while, you’ll be aware of Terry’s work providing bass and ‘incantations’ for Bong, and you’ll be aware that I speak as someone with a deep love for everything that band have ever achieved when I dare to suggest that some of Terry’s contributions in the latter capacity have occasionally bordered on the brink of the ridiculous, thus making me at least *slightly* wary when approaching material he’s knocked up on his own, without any bandmates to rein him in.
Well, I needn’t have worried. On ‘Sorrow’, Terry throws the net of his ambition wide, and… I dunno, comes back with all the fucking fish I suppose, if you’ll excuse the iffy metaphor. Whether taken as a work of modern composition, of “dungeon drone” (quoth the bandcamp page), or merely as long form gothic melancholia, this is a very impressive achievement, and makes for heady, immersive listening, even across a near ninety minute run time.
Whilst Terry retains the meditative / hypnotic feel of Bong herein, any trace of metal/doom ancestry is long gone. Instead, other comparisons abound. Admittedly, ‘.My Friends, You Are Shining Pillars Of Light’ sounds very much of a piece with ‘Find Your Own Gods’ from Bong’s most recent LP (or, failing that, sort of like Terry Riley communing with the spirit of Blake on some sun-dappled English hillside, if you must), but ‘Slowly, Slowly, Up Into The Rain We Fell’ sounds equally like The Necks attempting to ‘jam’ with a Gregorian choral ensemble, whilst the legitimately epic ambience of ‘Crummock Water’ might be said to resemble Brian Eno’s hypothetical “Music for Cliff-top Church Yards”, whilst also recalling the sombre-yet-calming tones of Leyland Kirby, or Rameses III’s ‘I Could Not Love You More’.
But, such one-sheet guff is both unnecessary and inane. In truth, I’m aware of nothing in the current micro-label/sub-rock underground that shares the compositional scope and clarity of vision Terry displays here.
Conjured up primarily from voice, keys, Fursaxa-esque accordion drones and a touch of distant, thumping percussion to keep time, there is a carefully wrought sense of slow mo melodicism to these pieces that set them apart from the vast majority of Terry’s lonesome tape droning contemporaries. The layers he builds come together with a more deliberate intent than the kind of accidental / circumstantial methodology that often governs such things, sometimes sounding like the moment of sublime tonal union when everything comes together in some grand classical piece, stretched out and extended across a 20+ minute duration. It’s pretty great.
Wisely perhaps in this more subdued context, Terry’s use of his voice here avoids the somewhat theatrical bent of his thunderous interventions on Bong records, instead employing a ‘voice as instrument’ approach that sees his beautifully resonant bass tones drifting mantra like through the fog of ‘My Friends..’, repeating variations on the title sentence to ultimately moving effect.
Emotionally-speaking, ‘Sorrow’ belies the expectations of its title and cover art by neatly side-stepping the over-bearing affectations of woe and world-denying misanthropy that ensnare so many metal bands, instead evoking a more honest, more hopeful field of melancholic drift, suggestive of a deep immersion both in the contemplation of nature, and in the gleaming spires of the distinctly old school, capital ‘R’ Romanticism that often goes with it.
Far from the blackened deep space explorations of Bong’s earlier career, the feel Terry conveys here recalls the band’s inspired use of Turner’s ‘Thompson’s Aeolian Harp’ on the cover of their We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been LP from 2015, and – for me at least – it is a very good feel to find oneself on the receiving end of.
I know that format isn’t everything, but I also know that, each time I enter a new release record shop for the remainder of this year and see the racks stocked with the shiny new efforts of fly-by-night trending indie bands, their ugly, photo-they-pulled-off-instagram cover art lovingly rendered in eye-damaging HD colour, ready to sit like a badge of pride by the skirting-board for a few weeks whilst their new owner streams their efforts on Spotify – then verily I will weep for my inability to listen to David Terry’s ‘Sorrow’ via the suitably luxurious double LP onto which this incredible music richly deserves to be pressed.
Oh well – at least I’ll have a tape.
You can have one too if you visit Opal Tapes here.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Blown Out / Comacozer –
In Search of Highs Volume # 1 split LP
Just when I was on the verge of completely running out of things to say about Blown Out’s excellent but nigh-on interchangeable records, the band’s side of this split LP on Riot Season sees them shifting gear a bit, delivering three (three!) discrete tracks of faster, more riff-based material, interspersed with a few delightful passages of top quality after-burner amp roar.
Veering more toward the instrumental stoner rock approach taken by Mike Vest in his Dodge Meteor project with Matteo Dainese, Blown Out’s recordings here put me in mind of what the classic era Monster Magnet line-up might have come up with, had Dave Wyndorf buggered off for a while and left them to their own devices.
As far as rhythm sections go, John-Michael Headly and Matt Baty have been “in the pocket” so long they must have repainted it and ordered a new sofa by this stage, so it’s super-cool to hear them speed up a bit on the latter two tracks here, hitting a slightly more trad head-banging groove, as Vest’s diesel-soaked candy-floss fuzz riffs rain down like sugar-choked static and phased out/space echoed lead lines spiral off into twisted, deep space oblivion.
It’s totally sweet – as fiery as anything this band have ever recorded; this is a slightly more ‘accessible’ sound than their customary side-long wig-outs perhaps, but there’s nothing half-assed about the world-eating skree that takes over each time the drums drop out.
The bawling, multi-layered blast of ‘Hook Up The Telepath’ in particular makes me unreasonably excited to hear where these guys will go next, but, for now, this is immense - pure space-rock nectar, straight from the source.
On the other side meanwhile, I confess total ignorance of Comacozer’s line up, history or geographical location, but for some reason their name and single, side-long track had me expecting some seriously furry, bong water-gargling stoner/doom kinda shit.
Colour me happily surprised then upon discovering that their seventeen minute ‘BinBeal’ is actually a pretty benign affair, with a gently propulsive Cecil McBee-via-Hawkwind bass groove taking centre stage, ranging hither and yon ‘cross an interplanetary landscape, accompanied only by shards of hard-echoed, clean toned guitar dopplering away into the distance and some low level patches of DikMik style primitive electronics hovering into view now and again. It’s all very pleasant.
About two third of the way through, there’s a ‘loud bit’ where the inevitable fuzz barges in for a while, and, whilst this is perfectly good fun, to be honest it feels a bit surplus to requirements, breaking the pulsing spell of the proceeding jam and taking the band perilously close to essaying a psychedelic rock take on the kind of unutterable tedium practiced by Mogwai and their ilk.
Basically though, it’s all really cool – a swell example of bombast-free contemporary rockage, and a welcome reminder that not every space-rock track needs to be a one way power blast through the centre of a black hole. As stated, this one’s more like an easy afternoon’s meander around a habitable planetary surface, maybe just encountering an easily dispatched crab monster in a cave or something during the loud bit. Lovely stuff - it too comes highly recommended.
‘In Search of Highs Volume # 1’ can be sampled and purchased via Riot Season.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Born Too Late Radio #1.
Well, I’ll keep this short folks. Just about every surviving music blog/website I follow has been branching pretty heavily into the arena of podcasts and playlists in recent years, and as such, I just couldn’t help myself – I’m back on the (fake) airwaves.
A (nearly) two hour imaginary radio show, complete with talking and bed music and everything, hopefully perfect to throw on whenever there’s nothing good to listen to on the real radio, this can be streamed via the mixcloud embed below, or via my page on that site, or can be downloaded in ever-glorious mp3 format from here.
Maybe there will be more of these, maybe not – let’s see how it goes.
Full track list, including time codes, goes as follows:
0:00 Peter Wyngarde – Come On In
02:08 Saint Vitus – Born Too Late (live)
09:20 Lower Slaughter – Tied Down
12:00 Heron Oblivion – Sudden Lament (live)
20:12 Natural Child – Natural Blues
23:07 Wu-Tang Clan – 7th Chamber
27:23 Depth Charge – Bounty Killers
32:46 War Head Constriction – Graceful Bird
40:32 Formulars Dance Band - Never Never Let Me Down
44:23 The Pointer Sisters – Don’t It Drive You Crazy
50:34 Blown Out – Void Sucker
55:10 Dead Moon – Dagger Moon
62:28 Ennio Morricone – Svolta Definitiva
67:03 Wrinkar Experience – Ballad of a Sad Young Woman
71:48 Chain & The Gang – I Hate Winners
77:57 Che Shizu – “Emperor / Notify”
85:42 Carmen Maki – “Faraway Country”
88:50 Neil Young – Cocaine Eyes
99:02 Joe Henderson feat. Alice Coltrane – Earth
111:14 Randy Newman – You Can’t Fool The Fat Man
And, in the background behind the blather:
Jack McDuff - Magnetic Feel
Donald Byrd – Black Bird
Etienne Jaumet - Mental Vortex
Ananda Shankar – Dancing Drums
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Songs About War.
Over the past few years, I’ve inadvertently become pretty fixated on making themed compilations and playlists – either carefully wrought overviews of particular scenes, sub-genres or sounds, or else exploring different musical approaches to different kinds of subject matter. I will usually tend to slave away over these things for months on end, initially just for my own amusement/edification, although I have sometimes made actual, physical CDs out of them and given them to people I hoped might like them. On one occasion, I actually dared to sell some of these CDs for money (with proceeds going to charity, natch) – a venture which proved surprisingly successful.
So, as one part of my campaign to revitalise this blog, it stands to reason that I should start sharing these comps – primarily streaming via Mixcloud’s user friendly, copyright police-ducking interface, although I’m also game for providing more, uh, ‘old fashioned’ listening options upon request [see below].
A sort-of sequel to ‘Songs About History’, which I posted here back in 2012, the concept of ‘Songs About War’ speaks for itself, more or less, so I'll spare you a round of socio-political hand-wringing.
In spite of the fact that few if any of the predominantly first world based artists on this comp have any first hand experience of war (I think Billy Bragg was in the army at one point, but beyond that… no idea), I have done my best not to simply fill the whole thing with ‘60s derived “war is bad man… why can’t we just stay in head and love each other?” type diatribes, which would have proved all too easy (although I’ve still let The Byrds in with a more-or-less definitive example of the form).
Instead, I’ve tried to select songs whose writers have at least *tried* to place themselves within the skin of someone participating in armed conflict in some capacity, creating what they feel is an appropriate musical analogue to the experience, and perhaps reflecting to some degree on the place of war as a seemingly inescapable component part of human nature and society.
In this respect, I quite like the way that, as you listen to these songs in close succession, the specific details of the conflicts many of them are written about tend to fall away, leaving behind the feeling of more abstract, universal scenarios, applicable to any time and place throughout history in which people have been driven to fight and kill each other en masse.
If you’re worried that such subject matter could potentially lead to a pretty monotonously grim track list, well, what can I say – I hope the inclusion of several banging dance tracks, ‘80s heavy metal and a hefty application of black humour will help ease the burden a little.
Naturally, I would have loved to have included some more songs emanating from areas of the world that actually have been ravaged by war within living memory, but, broadly speaking, my experience of such music tends to suggest that – as was discussed in my review of the excellent ‘Wake Up You!’ comp in 2016 - musicians whose countries have recently emerged from conflict tend to have better things to do than stand around singing about it. Funny that.
Anyway, I hope you get something out of these selections. Any comments, observations or suggestions for future volumes are gratefully received.
1. The Mekons – Hello Cruel World
2. Joe Tex – I Believe I’m Gonna Make It
3. Napalm Death – Retreat to Nowhere
4. Michael Yonkers Band – Boy in the Sandbox
5. Iron Maiden – Intro / Aces High (live ’85)
6. Warren Zevon – Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
7. The Dead Kennedys – When Ya Get Drafted
8. The Byrds – Draft Morning
9. Nudge Squidfish – Part Cherokee
10. Bolt Thrower – Eternal War
11. Party of One – Baghdad Boogie
12. Billy Bragg – Island of No Return
13. Weird War – AK-47
14. William Onyeabor – Why Go To War?
15. The Gories – Sovereignty Flight
16. Honey Ltd – The Warrior
17. Rocket From The Tombs – 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
18. Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas – Last Kind Word Blues
19. Mike Williams – Lonely Soldier
20. Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
21. Wire – Reuters
22. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – The Anniversary of WWIII
23. Dead Moon – Johnny’s Got a Gun
[PS - if you’d like either a downloadable version of this comp or an actual CD, my email address is at the top of the page – I’ll be happy to help.]
Monday, February 12, 2018
First exciting new band discovery of the year! Not that Guttersnipe (based in Leeds, and not to be confused with several considerably more trad punk bands of the same name) will necessarily need much of an introduction to adventurous listeners in the Northern half of the UK, having garnered a certain amount of praise/notoriety and secured many coveted alterna-festival bookings in the several years they’ve been performing/recording.
But me, I live down south and don't make it to many coveted alterna-festivals, so I just happened to notice they were listed as co-headliners with my beloved Vibracathedral Orchestra at Café Oto in March. When I visited the event page to buy my tickets, I clicked play on the video provided in order to see what I was in for, and.... oh boy.
Drunken mosh-bro idiocy from the spectators notwithstanding, this is pretty jaw-dropping.
Jan/Feb is a time of year that always demands some total fucking noise, and Guttersnipe are providing it in as exciting and unconventional a fashion as one could hope for. Each track on their bandcamp is a prime, compromise-free head-cleaner. Which is just as well, as I’d have trouble stomaching more than one of them in a single sitting.
Potentially recalling New York’s Slasher Risk, an aggressively feminized ‘80s Skullflower, Afri Rampo possessed by an Abyssinian war-god or my wildest dreams circa 2003, this is synapse-tearing stuff indeed. Check out ‘Sandworm Percolator’ or ‘Ophid Spy Cramp’ on their “Demo” and fall from your chair in involuntary supplication.
Doubly, trebly looking forward to that date in March.
(Of course, if I were paying attention, I could have been hepped to Guttersnipe WAY BACK IN 2016 when my old pal Stewart Smith wrote up a review of ‘em on a website I visit more or less everyday… ah well.)
(The photo above is taken from that piece and credited to Eleni Avraam.)
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
“I'm a lyric-writer, not a jester-guitarist in the English tradition of southern bleedin' idiots”
I am a country-borne southerner, clothed in low level privilege. I’ve never set foot in Manchester. In fact I’ve barely spent a night north of Crewe, England-wise. In insisting that I’m allowed to have an opinion on him, I’m aware that I make myself a ready facsimile of Mark Smith’s worst enemy. I’m aware of this. If I’m not careful, perhaps he’ll come back and haunt me (which really would make for a strange & frightening world).
I confess I’ve always found the widespread appeal and influence of The Fall - particularly beyond these shores - slightly mystifying. Whilst I appreciate and enjoy their music to a certain extent (see below), learning to love it can be… challenging, to say the least. The band’s music managed to be both rudimentary and threatening, and even his most fervent admirers must cop that the front MES put across to the world was insular and alienating in the extreme. Indifferently recorded and mixed, even their most accessible “numbers” tend to revolve around inscrutable, incessantly repeated playground taunts, led by a man who resembled most people’s idea of a nightmare, closing-time hobgoblin...and yet…. sell out American tours across the decades, with yankees as disparate as Pavement and Nots holding them up as key touchstones. It can’t JUST be purposeful anglophile obscurantism and the insidious influence of Brit-aligned tastemakers, surely?
Whilst I was in Japan last year, I found myself speaking to a highly talented & knowledgeable musician and music fan, and all he wanted to talk to me about was The Fall. How easy was it to get hold of copies of their earlier albums in the UK? Did they play often? What kind of people went to see them? Are they really popular, or more of a cult thing? How is Mark E. Smith generally regarded? Is he a big media figure? Do people realise how great he is? – these are all things he wanted to know. As you will appreciate, trying to find straight answers to these question was a bit difficult when put on the spot by someone speaking English as a second language.
To be honest, I’ve always felt that people born on the same street as MES probably don’t know what he’s going on about half the time, so… what can he possibly be getting across to people from other continents? I don’t know, but, for all the trouble I’ve had with it, the spirit of this music – that wired up, indigestible fury and unfathomable mystery – clearly travels, and travels well. It is kind of fascinating to me.
Though I recognise the myriad qualities of their work, and love a number of individual songs and albums a great deal, The Fall have never really been ‘my band’. Whilst around 75% of male British music fans of an age equivalent to or older than myself treat them with a degree of reverence that borders on the obsessive/irrational, I suppose I’ll never really be one of The Chosen, irrespective of the years I put in on the Peel-taping coalface.
On reflection, I think this failure to grok is just a matter of musical preference on my part, more than anything else. Although I appreciate The Fall’s dedication to simplicity and repetition, I generally tend to favour forms of rock music that aim to achieve some sort of elegance or transcendence, often coupled with exaggerated emotional expression or fantastical escapism… all of which is absolute anathema to the doggedly quotidian aesthetic cultivated by Mark E. Smith, needless to say. All those pre-existing rock clichés he spent forty years excising from his world with puritanical, year zero fervour..? I just *like* them, basically – that’s the root of the problem. I’m more comfortable when bands keep ‘em around to some extent.
In the same way that I’ve never really warmed to The Monks or Pere Ubu, the thunking, ugly, resolutely earth-bound, pointedly comfort-free botheration of The Fall’s post-punk derived sound – heavy, lolloping bass, drums staggering in a circle like a three legged dog, brittle ‘nah-nah-na-nah-nah’ guitar lines - is not a formula that has ever held a sustained appeal for me, warning me off taste-acquiring repeat plays, even as the more sinister, skeletal elements of the band’s admittedly unique conjurations simultaneously tickle my fancy on an equally regular basis.
I like it when the early-era band get their teeth into a really propulsive groove (cf: ‘The Classical’, ‘Flat of Angles’), and they could scratch some satisfyingly grisly noise out of their none-more-basic equipment on occasion (cf: ‘ Put Away’). Other oft-feted songs however just drive me up the wall, particularly those centred around stop-start, call-and-response type shenanigans. Most fans will disagree of course, but, despite their great titles, ‘Eat Yerself Fitter’ has always been a tough one for me to get through, and ‘Who Makes The Nazis?’ approaches a near Residents-like level of fingers-down-the-blackboard annoyance. I suppose I’ll never learn.
THAT SAID THOUGH, I have always really liked Mark E. Smith himself – as a character, as a writer, as an eternally inscrutable/unknowable savant, or as an expertly tuned human bullshit detector, permanently squarking in the red. To the extent that I like The Fall, I like them because of his words and his presence.
He was always a hoot in interviews – dropping his guard a little - but when it came to his more ‘formal’ public pronouncements (those on record, primarily), he always struck me more than anything as a kind of English working class equivalent of William S. Burroughs. That same calculated coldness, that total rejection of all human sentiment, as if he has put all feeling aside in order to aid the circulation of more urgent and practical ideas; hidden knowledge of such uncertain provenance and fiendish, coded complexity that more often than not it emerged hopelessly garbled from the lips of its cracked and lager-addled human medium.
As such, much of what he announced through a microphone during his career ended up sounding like the pronouncements of some malfunctioning, robotically generated emergency broadcast system – an unholy amalgam of guttersnipe slang, mythic/literary allusion, cut-up fragments of local newspapers, TV ads, council flyers, and sound-bites borne of idiots, slung back toward their originators like spiked balls, dripping with sarcasm and hate – absurdist slogans for an empty world.
Except that is, when it didn’t. Because he’s obviously not going to let some soft-brained cunt like me get a beam on what he’s really up to. Sometimes the words that poured out of him had a care and sensitivity, an attention to detail, a concise thematic focus to rival anything that ever came out between Faber covers.
None of this rubbish comes near to nailing him, of course. How could it? Like Burroughs, his was a mode of thinking so singular, self-contained and unprecedented that it impossible to boil down, contain, predict or catalogue. In the very frustration of its unevenness, it fascinates, and, in their determined refusal to adhere to any fixed viewpoint or cultural norm, his words remain far more dangerous and potent than those of any more conventional rock band front-person.
My favourite album by The Fall by quite some distance is ‘Dragnet’. An unconventional choice, I’ll grant you, but that’s the one that really clicked with me. Full of spidery, quasi-Crampsian rockabilly twang, leering references to Lovecraft and M.R. James, psychic dancefloors and monsters on the roof, night-creeping pulp detective fantasies and nocturnal flights from justice… it’s the band’s “horror album”, and I love it as such. For each individual song, and for the consistent ‘feel’ they create, I think it’s an unheralded masterwork, and always enjoy digging it out a few times around Halloween.
In fact, it is MES’s fondness for macabre imagery and horror stories – and his prodigious skill for creating them – that most often gives me my way in. Of course this is mainly concentrated on ‘Dragnet’, but ‘Impression of J. Temperance’, off ‘Grotesque’, is startling too in this regard – perhaps my single favourite Fall song (although ‘New Face in Hell’ and ‘Dr Bug’s Letter’ are strong contenders). In songs like this, MES really goes *deep* into this horrifying macabre shit, way beyond yr usual ‘horror rock’ signifiers, creating tormented visions to match those of any post-Lovecraft/Ligetti horror scribe.
Taken in-and-of-themselves in fact, some of these songs put me in mind less of the thug-art groove juggernaut The Fall would become in the minds of many, and more of various other ultra-obscurist tentacle-shudderers who were lurking in the dankest corners of the UK underground at around the same time – The Shadow Ring, Rudimentary Peni or Una Baines’ post-Fall pagan cabal The Fates…. none of whom were ever likely to trouble the dreams of NME sub-eds or mainstream-indie radio programmers, you’ll note, which perhaps says something for Smith’s forty solid years of banging on the door with his complaints.
Funnily enough, both ‘Spectre vs. Rector’ and ‘J. Temperance’ feature heavily in this article by Taylor Parkes about Mark E. Smith as a narrative writer, which I read the other day. It’s an excellent piece, and really gets to the heart of what I like so much about MES’s words. Recommended.
That article also served to remind me how much I enjoyed Smith’s spoken word album ‘Pander Panda Panzer’ from 2002. With characteristic unhelpfulness, this was presented on CD in the form of a single sixty minute track, but John Peel was good enough to have one of his minions chop it up into manageable slices, which – finger on the record button as per usual – I loyally put on tape and subsequently enjoyed a great deal, wedged in-between doses of the retrograde garage-rock and plunderphonic/digi-grind carnage that comprised the lion’s share of Peel’s ’02 playlist.
Therein, I heard MES tell of how the nation’s football stadia were being refitted to take account of a surprise resurgence in the popularity of jousting, and note that the streets of certain gentrified quarters of Manchester were now crawling with “bat-eared twats”, communicating with each other through sonar. Elsewhere, he seemed to be describing scenarios for bleak, surrealist films of mysterious import, as if participating in the queasiest, most oneiric pitch meeting in Hollywood history.
Ever since, I’ve found myself wishing he might put The Fall aside for a few years to concentrate on writing, or speaking. Prose, verse, I don’t care – I’d buy it. Even a well curated lyrics book would be lovely. Clearly though, MES was never in the business of fulfilling anyone’s wishes, so why should be give a fuck for mine? As we can now appreciate more than ever, he clearly lived and breathed the ideal of The Fall, and had little time in his latter years to be distracted by tangoing with editors and publishing agents. Can’t say I blame him, but let’s hope there’re some good PAPERS they can get their fangs into once they smell a sellable, recently deceased name.
Perhaps said PAPERS may once have been torn from the typewriter featured in the photo gracing the front of the mid ‘80s single cover I’ve used at the top of this post. Originally reproduced in the CD booklet for ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’, this has always been my favourite MES/Fall photo, and I’m really glad I could find a scan of it (albeit, a pretty murky one) online.
Looking at it again after all these years, I wasn’t even entirely sure it was Smith at first – he just looks a little too handsome, that hair a little too curly… don’t you think? Careful comparison with other image results for “mark e smith 1985” make me fairly certain it is our man, but thought I’d best include this paragraph as insurance in case I’ve ballsed up and headed up an obit post with a picture of his (entirely hypothetical) brother or something.
Anyway – something about the wonderful mundanity of his working environment here – the giant mug of (cold?) tea, the pointedly displayed packet of crappy-looking chocolate biscuits and what looks like a letter from the council, as he sits there looking like the tormented accounts clerk for a haulage firm he might have been had – ahem – “punk rock” not got in the way…. It’s always struck a chord with me.
Moreso than the kind of jarring shock and emotional outpouring that often follows the news that someone who(se work) you care about has died, what I’ve experienced this week has been a feeling I’ve unfortunately been required to become very used to in recent months: the slow realisation that something that has been there for the entirety of my life is now no longer there.
Whether you loved them, loathed them or were entirely indifferent to them, if you live in the UK and like music, you will have been aware of The Fall. You’ll have known that they were always there, somewhere in the background, usually putting out a new record or getting up to some low level, NME-headline generating mischief, always offering interested parties a cryptic, weaponised response to whatever fresh hell the world had been throwing at us recently.
Now - suddenly - they’re not there anymore. It might take some getting used to.
The Fall Quote Generator. (Best used for divining purposes.)
I just remembered an old friend-of-a-friend story from many years back, about how somebody knew somebody who had once seen Mark E. Smith crossing the road outside a venue where The Fall were playing. He described him as “..walking sideways, like a crab.”
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke
(1950 – 2018)
As you might well have anticipated, I was sad this weekend to hear about the passing of ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke.
I’ve been listening to Motörhead a lot over the past few years, and Clarke is not only the best guitarist they ever had, but perhaps even my choice for the definitive guitarist of the whole 70s/80s hard-rock-into-heavy-metal trajectory.
His combo of slurred, thug brutality and sudden technical flash was *perfect* for that band, and I think he had as much to do with defining their trademark sound as Lemmy did, to be honest.
Obviously I don’t need to remind you that it was he who laid down probably the ultimate, all time #1 school playground air guitar moment (….and don’t forget the joker..), but fuck it – that one’s overplayed. Instead listen to him go on ‘No Class’, ‘Bomber’, ‘Metropolis’, ‘Stone Dead Forever’, ‘Stay Clean’… dozens of others. I *love* that unnamed instrumental cut that turns up as a bonus on their self-titled album too.
It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that Motörhead’s classic line-up are now all gone.
Just like The Ramones are all gone, The Stooges are all gone [with the exception of Iggy, who always seemed to want to differentiate himself from the rest of ‘em anyway, so fuck him, with all due respect], Dead Moon two thirds gone. Life has not been kind to definitively brilliant, leather jacket-uniformed rock bands, has it?
What a fuckin’ world.
Tuesday, January 09, 2018
Best of 2017: Late Addition.
After spending a lot of time with his first two solo albums a few years back, I’d kind of drifted away from Greg Ashley’s work as he moved from creeped out psychedelia toward more straightforward acoustic/confessional stuff.
Last year’s ‘Pictures of St Paul Street’ – which I listened to for the first time today – however turns out to be a master-class in hate-filled, grand guignol singer-songwriter type business; a few wannabe Leonard Cohen moves gradually suffocated by the glowering ghost of Alex Chilton, leering distantly in the darkness.
Lyrics “go there” in a way they probably shouldn’t, but the settings are so swell they can swing it for me.
Check it out, why don't you.
Just imagine, had I heard this one earlier, I might have had to slot it in at, ooh, I dunno, number #6 or #7 or something on the list I posted last month. A shocking upset for you all, I realise, but you'll just have to live with it.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
My Favourite New Releases of 2017.
This year featuring no surprises whatsoever!
1. Heron Oblivion – Live at The Chapel LP (self-released)
Heron Oblivion’s debut LP from early last year is one of the few albums from recent years that has really stuck with me, that feels better and better each time a track pops up on my earphones, and that I could still happily listen to every day. “It’s a real keeper” is I think the pat phrase I’m looking for.
Handed to me by a surly postman mere days before I decamped to a location several hundreds miles away from my record player for xmas, this live album, comprising much of the same material plus a few extra bits, is liable to prove an equally perennial pleasure on the basis of my first few spins, placing a somewhat different emphasis on the band’s work together. On the one hand, the extreme quiet/loud dynamic that stood out on the (beautifully mixed) studio recordings proves impossible to recreate in a live setting (‘Oriar’s explosive impact is slightly muted as a result). But, on the other hand, Van Harmonson and Saufley’s fuzz/wah-blasted guitar duelling is if anything even more intricately interwoven and hair-raisingly unhinged that in the studio set, and, perhaps more importantly, Meg Baird’s folk-derived songs and vocals – which I initially found a tad too prissy and precious on the album – really come into their own here, her delivery slightly more gutsy and forceful, as presumably necessitated by the need to compete with the band’s racket and the crowd’s whooping and hollering whilst out on the road (a test I perhaps wish more contemporary folk could be put to before its creators hit the studio).
Follow the link below and play through ‘Sudden Lament’ and ‘Untitled’ to hear a few relatively concise examples of this incredible band at their fire-breathing peak. Then, after buying (as you inevitably will), file under “really quite unbelievably good”, and keep both vinyl and mp3s close at hand for 2018 – I reckon they’ll be needed.
(Stream & download via bandcamp here. Best check with yr local dealers for the LP.)
2. Lower Slaughter – What Big Eyes LP (Box)
(Stream/buy from Box Records here.)
3. Feral Ohms – s/t LP (Silver Current)
One of the very few things I actually bothered to review this year, my further thoughts (plus listen/purchase links) can be found here.
4. Skullflower - The Black Iron That Fell From The Sky, To Dwell Within (Bear It or Be It) LP (Nashazphone)
5. Vibracathedral Orchestra – Live at Total Inertia 10”
(At the time of writing, this disc is actually still in stock via Norman – or, you can listen to somebody playing it on a ropey old Dansette and pointing their phone at the resulting racket here (stay vigilant for the bits where a cat walks across screen and/or meiows, and the exciting moment when the man turns the record over)).
6. Grey Hairs – Serious Business LP (Gringo)
May, I particularly enjoy the way they’ve here perfected their ability to meld heavy duty Melvins/Flag riff-grind with a keen pop sensibility and uniquely tormented sense of humour. Great recording too. In essence, everything I said about Lower Slaughter above can equally apply here (joint tour? Just a thought..), but for the fact that instead of witch trials and curses, frontman James continues to build his own inexplicably appealing aesthetic from the contemplation of eating meat, drunkenness, exhaustion and male inadequacy. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.
(Stream/buy from Gringo here.)
7. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Feed The Rats LP (Rocket)
Viewed in the warm tinnitus glow of their triumphant turn supporting (and very near upstaging) Acid Mothers Temple last October, the fact that they seem to have drummed up more interest from the increasingly myopic world of UK radio and magazines than every other group on this list combined is neither unexpected, nor undeserved. It’s fair to say that they’ve taken ‘Feed The Rats’ about as far into the realm of the “media” as it is possible to go with an album primarily comprising of two hefty, Sabbath-referencing psyche/doom epics addressing issues of mental illness, and I for one am happy to cheer their progress.
It’s also fair to say that initially I wasn’t entirely sold on this record, which, lacking the exultantly positive spirit of their live sets, plays out as an altogether darker, more tormented proposition. I do LOVE the perfect Motorhead/Hawkwind amalgam of the palette cleansing, rock n’ rolling middle track ‘Sweet Relief’ however, and my enjoyment both of it and of the aforementioned live sets now spills out across the longer cuts on either side of it, illuminating them with greater clarity, and allowing me to get with the programme. (In fact, how I failed to fully compute the true majesty of ‘Icon’ at an earlier date is a mystery. It’s middle stretch is Hawkwind-meets-Sabbath-fucking-tastic.)
Looking forward to whatever they do next, and I’ll leave you to insert your own cheer-leading “year of the pig” type comment here.
(Stream and buy via bandcamp.)
8. Endless Boogie – Vibe Killer LP (No Quarter)
If relatively few make the effort however, those who do will find themselves regularly rewarded by strange, troubled masterworks such as this one, during which Major attempts to clear the room with pure Lynchian creep on the title cut before reminiscing in pain-staking detail about the time he went to see Kiss perform at a “kite flying contest” in 1974 (‘Back in 74’), instigating an unsettling suburban rewrite of ‘Sister Ray’ (‘High Drag, Hard Doin’), and… well god only knows what he’s going on about on the inchoate ‘Bishops at Large’ or the oddly hypnotic expanse of ‘Jefferson County’ (perhaps I’m not American enough to understand). Still, he certainly doesn’t make any less sense than Mark E. Smith has on any given LP side from the past 30 years, and, as the band keep on cooking as if Status Quo had rediscovered the joys of smoking weed and letting it all hang out before eventually taking on board some absurdly misplaced Chicago post-rock mannerisms, us initiates should consider ourselves more than satisfied.
(Stream/buy via bandcamp here.)
9. Midnight Mines – We Are The Primitives of a New Era tape/download
Hard to believe they haven’t yet sold a mere 50 tapes-worth of this, so for gods sake, follow this link and help ‘em out.
10. Blown Out – Superior Venus LP (Riot Season)
Whilst I can’t in all honestly tell most of their records apart however, it nonetheless makes me extremely happy to continuing buying them and putting them on the shelf in order of release, keeping the latest close at hand for whenever the urge takes me. For, as those aforementioned bands understood, when your music can feed a particular appetite this satisfactorily, what’s to be gained by fucking with the formula? The hunger is always there, and I for one am always willing to be fed.
(Stream/buy via bandcamp)
POP QUIZ: Tell me the name of the individual who links THREE of the releases on the above list and win… I dunno, something? (HINT: for once it’s not Mike Vest.)
11. The Bats – The Deep Set LP (Flying Nun) [link]
12. Mountain Movers – s/t LP (self-released?) [link]
13. Chain & The Gang – Experimental Music LP (Radical Elite) [link]
14. Leyland Kirby – We, So Tired of all the Darkness in Our Lives d/l (self-released) [link]
15. Aggressive Perfector – Satan’s Heavy Metal tape/d/l (self-released) [link]
** STAY TUNED for long-awaiting BLOG RE-LAUNCH in early 2018! **
Saturday, December 02, 2017
Some Other Good Comps/Reissues from 2017.
Because I just can’t get enough of these yummy, critically-acclaimed £40 gatefolds with the nice covers and promises of exotic, never-before-heard revelations, it seems.
World Spirituality Classics # 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda 2xLP
So I had always assumed at least, but, well, time to get wise folks, because there’s not even the slightest whiff of cheese about the extraordinary, unclassifiable pieces assembled here by Luaka Bop. Compromising dense, over-powering monoliths of ultra-compressed electronic textures, massed voices, bone-rattling hand percussion, occasional tambora drones and gospel/deep soul influenced reiterations of ancient Hindu mantras, this is music that determinedly refuses to ever fade into the background, informed by the same uncompromising approach to composition and arrangement that characterised such challenging discs as ‘Spiritual Unity’ in earlier years.
That each track here begins sounding entirely different from the last, yet swiftly engages us in exactly the same kind of sensuous, head-nodding fugue as its predecessor, is testament to both the power and the range of endless possibilities that Alice managed to channel from her spiritual beliefs back into her music.
Existing outside of any of the expected sonic clichés, these are evocations of a terrifying, beatific godhead that has no connection whatsoever to either the Cathedral-reverbed reverence of Western devotion or the mellow, cloud-dwelling man-god of post-hippie Californian spirituality. As with all of Alice Coltrane’s best work, this music feels like peeking through the gold-flecked bead curtain into the cyclopean throne room of a divinity who radiates such love it can crush you like an ant. An endless, throbbing kaleidoscope of sound crushed down to cassette-sized doses of pupil-dilating oblivion, it’s… quite the thing.
I dread to think what ‘World Sprituality Classics # 2’ is liable to consist of, but this is certainly one hell of a good start.
Tokyo Flashback PSF ~ Psychedelic Speed Freaks! ~ 2xCD (PSF)
Of course, hearing newly disinterred cuts from core PSF groups like High Rise, White Heaven, Fushitsusha and Overhang Party is worth the entry price alone (the latter in particular provide an awesome re-working of their classic track from the second ‘Tokyo Flashback’ comp, now pleasingly retitled for English-speakers as ‘Now Appearing! Naked Existence’), but, as was often the case with this label, it’s the more unusual, less rock-orientated stuff creeping in around the edges that often proves most beguiling; terrifying, Lynchian noir improv from .es, angst-drenched Korean psych-folk from Kim Doo Soo, minimalist industrial desolation from Reizen, beautifully gentle, heart-felt free-playing from Niseaporia, and the set even ends, poignantly I’m sure, with a Bach violin sonata rearranged for solo guitar by Hideaki Kondo.
All of these cuts are by turns furious, challenging, lyrical and enchanting, opening our eyes to rarely glimpsed corners of a relentlessly creative musical underground that continues to thrive in Japan and Far-East, much akin I’d imagine to the experience Western listeners brave enough to pick up those first imported ‘Tokyo Flashback’ comps must have enjoyed when they first appeared back in the ‘90s.
I’m not sure how widely available this new comp is outside of Japan, but it is accompanied by a lovely bilingual booklet, so distribution to English–speaking territories was presumably an intention, assuming any overseas distributors could be persuaded that anyone would still be willing to buy CDs. Anyway, should you see it on sale anywhere, please don’t hesitate to prove these hypothetical distributors wrong by snapping it up, it’s extremely worthwhile.
(It’s worth giving a shout-out at this point to the U.S.-based imprint The Black Editions, who have recently embarked on a programme of reissuing the PSF label’s key releases on vinyl for the first time. I don’t actually have their re-release of the first ‘Tokyo Flashback’ comp in my hands yet, but their noble efforts certainly threaten to do a great deal of damage to both my ears and bank balance in 2018.)
Coil – Time Machines 2xLP (Dais)
And, make no mistake, this is some hardcore drone going on right here. When initially dropping the needle, first time listeners may be irked by the idea that they’ve just paid top dollar for some blank oscillator tones, but their tune will soon change as things progress and the full weight of these pieces makes itself felt.
Though this is utilitarian music, created primarily to aid meditation and ritual, like the Alice Coltrane record discussed above, it is about as far away from ‘background’ music as it is possible to get, instead setting out to capture your ‘foreground’ with the relentless determination of a swarming nanobot army.
This is music designed to completely transform the atmosphere of the environment in which it is played. Each of the record’s four sides is named after a psychotropic chemical compound, and the Coil boys seem to have done their damnedest to actually try to create a corresponding physiological change in their listeners through the sound of each piece.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say they succeed, but they certainly got pretty close. Play this record at appropriate volume, and work or writing becomes impossible. Your concentration will disintegrate, your attention will drift from the screen/desk to some blank area on the wall. Your mind will eventually start to empty, as if someone pulled the plug, and Coil’s stated intention of creating “tones to facilitate travel through time” will start to sound a lot less fanciful. Then, about ten or twelve minutes in, when you’re sufficiently monged, they’ll suddenly twist a knob and drop the kind of bass frequency that will make you cack yourself wondering if a passenger jet is about to fall out of the sky above your house. The bastards.
Needless to say, in contrast to the vast majority of ‘drone’ records I own, this is not something to be thrown on casually, for a bit of relaxation before bed time. If you want to get down with ‘Time Machines’, you’d better cross your legs on the floor, fire up the incense, dim the lights - go whole hog with it and let’s see if we can’t make that clock start to go backwards.
Midori Takada – Through The Looking Glass LP
(We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want)
Suffice to say, both ‘Mr Henri Rousseau’s Dream’ on the A-side and relatively brief ‘Trompe l’oeil’ on the B are amongst my most-played tracks of the year - absolutely delightful vistas of nocturnal faux-forest ambience, guaranteed to promote relaxed breathing and a general sense of well-being just as surely as the aforementioned Coil record is to fuck with your head. Absolutely delightful stuff, even as the somewhat more baleful ‘Catastrophe’ proceeds to drag us into unsettling realms of pulsating, rhythmic unease.
This record’s extraordinary cover art – by Yohko Ochida – is also worth a mention. Click on the picture above to enlarge and spend some time looking at it. You will be a happier person as a result.
Maki Asakawa – s/t 2xLP (Honest Jons)
Originally a native of Iskikawa prefecture in Northern Japan, Asakawa’s devotion to the sound of American jazz/blues singers (Billie Holiday in particular) led her to begin performing in Tokyo and Yokahama cabaret clubs, where she soon fell under the wing of avant-garde film and theatre director Shuji Terayama (I mean, of course she did), subsequently picking up a record contract, a formidable reputation a s a live performer and a devoted following amongst Japan’s internationally-minded, left wing student movement in short order.
Truth be told, those anticipating hair-raising avant hi-jinks from Asakwawa’s music will be initially disappointed by the fact that the majority of the recordings presented here remain fairly conventional. For the most part, these are nice songs (a mixture of Terayama compositions, American folk/blues standards reworked for the Japanese language and some Asakawa originals) with strong melodies and pleasant, minimal arrangements, anchored by Asakawa’s defiant and heart-felt delivery, which, though never as gravelly or tormented as her blues idols, nonetheless sits within an unusually low register for a Japanese female vocalist of her era.
Though it would be easy for a casual listener to mistake these tunes for prime examples of enka (the oft-wonderful genre of melancholic, folk-derived pop ballads that dominated the Japanese charts through the ‘60s and ‘70s), in fact Asakawa’s fans and musical collaborators saw her at the time as standing very much in opposition to enka orthodoxy, rejecting the overwrought arrangements, melodramatic sentiments and implicit nationalism of the genre in favour of a more stripped back, “authentic”, Western blues/folk-based approach.
Certainly, the shimmering acoustic strumming, gentle fluting, brushed drumming, smouldering cocktail jazz and tasteful rock/soul jamming showcased here make a pleasant change from the squeaky trumpets and stabbing strings of more commercial enka, even as the uniquely sinuous, serpentine melodies of the genre are still very much in evidence, resulting in a rather beguiling hybrid form that undoubtedly proved very influential on later folk-pop performers such as Carmen Maki and Morita Doji.
Whilst these songs are unlikely to blow many minds in the English-speaking world in 21st century, they are nonetheless extremely fine performances – the perfect accompaniment to a glass of single malt enjoyed on a Sunday evening, and nectar of the gods for anyone with a particular yen for the hyper-specific, monochromatic aesthetic of Japan’s late ‘60s cultural new wave – and the rare occasions on Asakawa and her collaborators throw caution to the wind and get way-out-there (such as on the George Harrison-affiliated raga-rock behemoth ‘Govinda’, or the creeped out downer lament of ‘Onna’) are worth the entry price alone.
Emma de Angelis - Forgiveness b/w Trip/Plankton 7”
Monday, November 27, 2017
The Best Comp/Reissue of 2017:
Neil Young – Hitchhiker LP
Well, if you’re going to buy ONE new release LP on a major record label this century, you might as well make it one recorded in 1976, y’knowwhatImean?
I’ll freely admit I’ve been on a colossal Neil Young binge through the second half of 2017, after finally getting around to reading Jimmy McDonough’s biography (one of the best – and most epic - music books I’ve ever read, no jive) left my head spinning for weeks with thoughts, theories, ideas and anecdotes concerning the mercurial, flawed genius of Mr. Young.
And, as such, this much-ballyhooed release of the entire legendary one mic demo session that gave the world such sublime previously released cuts as ‘Campaigner’ (on the ‘Decade’ compilation) and ‘Captain Kennedy’ (from ‘Hawks & Doves’) felt like manna from heaven to me a few months back. After all the ludicrous new releases and questionable archive choices Neil has put out in the 21st century, I wouldn’t blame anyone for approaching new product bearing his name with caution, but take it from me: this is the real deal.
Although the records Neil actually released between ‘75’s ‘Zuma’ and ‘79s ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ may not be amongst his best-loved or – cough – ‘most iconic’, I nonetheless think that this period probably represents his all-time peak, artistically speaking, and we’re right on the cusp of it here. On the particular evening these tracks were laid down, it seems he sat down with his guitar and some, uh, refreshments, and - as late producer David Briggs quotes Neil as joking in the promo blurb for this record – he just “turned on the tap”.
Neil had certainly gone through a hell of a lot of “life experience” by the time the second half of the decade rolled around, and both the sometimes cloying naivety of the ‘Gold Rush’/’Harvest’ period and the corresponding gory nihilism of the ‘Tonight’s The Night’/’On The Beach’ burn-out had come and gone by this point, meaning that, whilst the songs here retain the sublime melodic gift and ineffable ‘spook’ that characterised his work throughout the decade, his writing has more depth, more cynicism and ambiguity, more variety and imagination, more flat-out *weirdness* to it than anything he did before or since – a mixture of raw autobiographical fragments and cosmic flights of fancy that never fully settles down into any recognisible comfort zone, mixed with a perfect, poetic take on America’s history and it’s lost, post-Watergate drift, with a steely-eyed hustler’s determination to not get fucked by it.
I could go on; I could give you a song-by song break-down, keep this going for four thousand words, but what would be the point? I recognise that Neil Young fans are one of those strange breeds whose tastes seem to function on a slightly different wave-length from the rest of humanity – as such, chances are you’ve either got this already and know exactly what I’m talking about, or you don’t care. If you are a Young-fancier and this release has somehow eluded your attention though, please rectify that immediately.
I hope readers won’t think it’s just some morbid retro fixation taking hold when I state that the best music pressed to vinyl in 2017 was recorded by some washed out hippie snorting coke in a shack on Maimi beach half a decade before I was born, but, what can I say – there it is, take it or leave it.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Dead Moon Forever.
(Blog resurrection coming soon, by the way.)
Thursday, September 14, 2017
R.I.P. Grant Hart.
I’m sorry for recent blog-death. Ideas for potential blog-rebirth are in progress, but in the meantime, I couldn’t let this one go by.
On those pre-major label Huskers records, Grant Hart is a force of nature, busting through your speakers like a hurricane. I actually cannot believe the sheer force with which he plays drums on some of the ‘Zen Arcade’ era material. With all due respect to Bob, the band’s “hardcore energy + heart-on-sleeve pop = ?!?” dynamic was largely down to him, and the intensity of his best songs remains undiminished.
Fans can/will argue long and hard about which songs those are of course, but for my part I’d advise you to click through to the following and play them as loudly as is practicable as soon as possible: 1, 2.
The first is one of the first songs I ever learned to play on the guitar, the second is as good a pick as any for the last song I want to play on the guitar, when some fantasy final encore comes.
I’ve had enough of cancer recently. R.I.P. Grant.
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