I, and I’m sure many of you, will have noticed the tendency among publishers to go for larger font sizes in new books, thus making books much fatter than they need to be. Earlier today I was browsing in a local book shop and noticed John Le Carre’s novel Absolute Friends, looking a bit bigger than I recalled. This edition runs to 438 pages and costs £8:99. I’ve compared with my paperback edition from 2004 which was 383 pages and cost £6:99. So that’s a 14% increase in size. Using the Bank of England inflation calculated the cost then is equivalent to £10:22 today, and adding in the 14% increase in size today’s price should be £11:65 (I realise this is a crude equivalence, but this is a blogpost, not a management report). I’m mystified by firstly the increase in the size of books generally, when we’re in an age where we’re supposed to be conserving resources and secondly by the lower prices. No doubt printing technology has improved in the intervening years, but my feeling is that this is so unnecessary.
We get frequent comparisons to Olympic swimming pools, London buses and elephants among other things, when people try to help us image the volume of something. However I am unable to compute, even approximately, 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter, as expressed by unnamed scientists in this story.
It’s been some years since dog owners started using dog-poop bags to pick up faecal matter deposited on the footpath. It was a development I was really pleased to see, substantially reducing that hazard of dog-shit being walked into your home for one as well as reducing infection risks like toxicara to children. But in the last few years I’ve noticed a change in behaviour. Dog owners are bagging the shit and then just leaving it in the street for others to pick up. Last year my wife and I visited Snape Maltings in Suffolk. We went for a walk across the flat lands behind it. We were appalled to come across a tree “decorated” with dozens of bags of dog-shit hanging from its twigs. Now I’ve had someone deposit such a bag on our garden wall. It may be a small problem but it is really f*#&ing hacking me off. Does anyone have any other fresh, first world problems they’d like to add?
The sad news, predicted for some months now has come to pass: guitar maker Gibson have filed for bankruptcy. Will I ever get hold of a dream Gibson semi acoustic, Now?
I came across this article via The Browser website. I believe the guy thinks he’s writing an article for mid-80s NME. But, as there are a fair few people here who have an interest in Fairport / Sandy, I thought I should share it: A writer in something called The Paris Review on Sandy
Apropos nothing other than it is very irritating, my Mac spellchecker keeps changing Fairport to Airport.
Yesterday’s Everyman crossword has the following clue:
14d – Last section of tar we newly put on road (9)
And if you don’t get it and, like Jackson, you are Waiting to hear from the one who can give them the answers it is below.
There is an up and coming Columbia Legacy box set of the Miles Davis Quintet’s tour of Europe in 1960.
This article gives a bit of background to the creative tensions within the band and certainly whets my appetite for this set.
Are there any sax players out there who can enlighten me to multiphonics? If it’s two notes at the same time, does that mean the two combine to create a third sound or is there some technique that means each note is distinct but is played simultaneously. It is clearly easy to do on a piano or a guitar (or any instrument that has seaparate strings), but I can’t understand how two separate notes can sound on a sax (or any other wind instrument), because that is my reading of the comment in the article.
What does it sound like?:
I was intrigued by the release of these albums because Crabby Appleton was one of those bands that would be alluded to in early 70s rockzines like ZigZag and Dark Star. Others of this ilk were McKendree Spring, Sopwith Camel, Kaleidoscope and more. Bands that I never got to hear, but were aware of as having some part in (mainly) West Coast rock culture. Bands whose names nestled in my subconscious ready to be woken from slumber. And bands that might be worth listening to.
So I was more than happy to give this pair of albums a listen.
These two albums display the recklessness of a band “progressing” (in the vernacular of the time, when progressive meant something different to what it eventually became), but in retrospect and in reality what it shows is that they de-evolved. They show a band giving up on the qualities that could have took them somewhere, namely a nicely defined pop sensibility that was ditched in favour of a blues rock formula that was being adopted by a million other bands because it was seen to be the a move to produce real music that expressed a » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Given the title Cape Wrath, (the most northwesterly point of the British mainland) and the cover art image of a body stranded on a rock surrounded by a storm tossed sea, I’d expected to hear something a bit more aggressive from Morrissey and Mullen. What they produced, on this reissue of their 1979 album (originally on Harvest, now out on Man In The Moon records) is a very smooth sounding album, more reflective of the rear image showing the same Silver Surfer like body sitting on the rock surrounded by millpond calm sea.
It is so smooth that my initial impression was that it was fairly bland, but repeated listening reveals that it is more about the band creating a mood and a groove and it is, in my view, a fine piece of work that is anything but bland. It rewards repeated listening to unearth the diamonds that lie within.
I was quite glad that I’m able to review this positively because I feel I owe Dick Morrissey a small apology. Back in the mid-70s a couple of mates encouraged me to go along with them and see British jazz-rock band If, (appearing » Continue Reading.
It is clear from the What Else Have I Been Missing thread there are a few Spiral fans around, so I thought we could wean ourselves off our Saturday night addiction through some talking therapy. Lots to discuss now series 6 has ended (Series 7 has already gone into production, so we can breathe easy after that ending). Here are some topics to explore, but feel free to go off in your own preferred direction. I thought the end with respect to Laure made perfect sense. She has never fully faced up to the reality of being a mother; she’s made some maternal gestures, but seems more concerned with convincing others she is capable (especially the father, whose name escapes me) and now she has to face up to a reality she has made no preparation for, she has to run. Josephine’s future: I guess this will be one of the axes of Series 7. I think there is going to more investigation into Vern. Will the hitherto creepy Edelman become, through necessity, an ally of Laure and Gilou in trying to bring Vern down? Even if they succeed will Josephine get off, or is she looking at serious time » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Serendipity has led me to two of my favourite albums of the year. Recently I posted a review of Amanda Ann Platt & The Honeycutters; today it’s Chastity Brown and this absolutely knock-out album which also came out in the middle of the year and is one I’ve been enjoying for a few months.
I was struck by her song Colorado listening to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. It gave me one of those “What was that?” moments, leading me to go back and play it again and again and then go to the album.
I found it remarkable that Chastity performed Colorado back in September 2014. I didn’t see it and if I had I’m not sure I’d have been sold on it. In the intervening time she has evolved the song’s dynamics to make it into the very different beast it is today. It has gone from pleasant and unremarkable to outstanding and essential. I guess the delay between writing and release is that modern day malaise facing so many artists of the lack of any record company backing. Chastity include in her thanks in the sleeve notes her Kickstarter backers. » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
I’ve had this album about four or five months now and over that period it has become one of the most played records in our house, loved by both myself and my wife.
Stop reading now if you have no interest in Country/Country Rock/Americana because this album is packed with music that fits down that particular rabbit-hole. Superb music, but if pedal steel guitar sets your teeth on edge this is not an album for you. On the other hand, there is a constituency here that loves that sound and this review is very much for you.
I’d never heard of Amanda Ann Platt until July this year when I read a review of this album on the No Depression website. But it was strange review, written as an open letter of complaint because The Honeycutters have existed for a few years and now Amanda Ann (the songwriter and vocalist) has set herself apart from the other guys.
Despite the separation of elements he still loved the album. This led to a bit of investigation on my part via Spotify and damn! This is one hell of a fine album and being old-fashioned » Continue Reading.
University of London Union
I think I have probably seen Chuck Prophet, either fronting his own band or as part of Green On Red, more than any other artist. I estimate all the time I’ve spent standing in front of stages watching, listening to and enjoying Chuck’s playing and singing amounts to about two days of my life. (I realise this is as naught compared to dedicated Springsteen followers or Deadheads who probably can count weeks of their existence spent in front of their favourites, but it is a significant time for me).
What that means is I’ve seen performances of varying intensity and enjoyment over the years. There is a group of friends I go to CP gigs with, and we’ve been in agreement that his last couple of London gigs have been rather lacklustre. When I was sorting out the tickets for this gig, people were actually questioning whether we wanted to go.
That won’t happen next time because this was a fully energised, fun-loving, concentrated, dedicated, brilliant performance.
The band came out, started up then Chuck bounded out. A huge grin on his face. They play an intro, which something of an » Continue Reading.
Listening to Bob Harris Country earlier tonight, Bob was presenting a Country Rock special (a pre-recorded show, because I know he’s in the USA at present). Anyway he introduced a song by Pure Prairie League, who are a band I thought I know by no more then their name. My recollection is they were somehow associated with The Grateful Dead.
But he played this song, Amie, which it turned out is really familiar to me. I don’t know where I’ve heard it. I certainly didn’t know it was them, but it’s a song I know well enough to sing along to the chorus.
Has anyone had similar experiences recently?
What does it sound like?:
Given that this is essentially a re-recording of Lucinda’s 1992 album Sweet Old World, the two questions many who know her music will be asking are a) is there any point to it and b) is it worth buying (again)? Given that the 1992 album cannot be considered as anything but an artistic success, it’s also a brave step for Lucinda. It’s not as if she can look back and complain about something like inadequate production and say this is how it was meant to be.
To return to my original points, the answers are Yes and Yes. It’s a wholesale reimagining of the original release, representing an artist who has moved a long, long way in the intervening 25 years and it absolutely works as an artistic statement as well as an entertaining and entrancing piece of music.
There is also the question for me as to whether I review it as an album in its own right, or do I compare and contrast with the original. Given that the original played such a large part in shaping my current musical tastes I decided that I had to consider the original despite comparisons » Continue Reading.
The Islington, Tolpuddle Street, London, N1
Shannon McNally – The Islington 19th October
Shannon McNally isn’t a name that will be known to many Afterworders; indeed it’s clear from the size of the audience (about 40 of us) in The Islington she’s not that well known across London. It’s a shame that she is such a well-kept secret, because she has a gorgeous voice and uses it to beautiful effect on her own and other people’s songs.
I first came across her about 15 years ago when I got a mini-album (8 songs, 30 minutes music) she made with Neal Casal, titled Ran On Pure Lightning. After that I heard no more of Shannon until earlier this year when I saw a glowing album review of an album called Black Irish on the No Depression website. It’s produced by Rodney Crowell and has, with his contacts, a galaxy of names performing. I was surprised to find she has been producing albums regularly in the intervening years. For all I knew, not that I’d given much thought, she could have retired. I bought the album and loved it, so I was really excited to find out she » Continue Reading.
Allison and Shelby have arranged four UK and Ireland dates for January next year:
Shelby’s site doesn’t have the ticket links.
We have our tickets for Cadogan Hall. It looks like they are going fast, for that venue at least, so don’t wait around.
My wife has started using an App (recommended by my sister) which gives her 24 free photo prints per month. All she pays is postage (£2:50 for first order and £3:99 thereafter). She has received her first photobook, thus so far so good. My sister has been using it for some months. However it is a business model that seems to me to be unsustainable. They may make money from extra prints, but I suspect most people will be using the free print option. Something that costs them. I’m very sceptical. Can anyone reassure me that sometime in the future my wife won’t find the credit card account empty?
What does it sound like?:
“Don’t leave me like this, I might explode” Hannah Aldridge sings on opening song Aftermath. But that is what Hannah does across the ten tracks on Gold Rush, this her second album. She explodes into your musical experience, embedding herself in your psyche and richly rewarding you with every repeated play.
This review is a couple of months late, but that is not a good reason for this recording to be ignored.
I loved her debut Razor Wire, but this album takes her music forward. For me there is a strong Tom Petty vibe on this record, but she also reminds me of singers like Etta James and Anne Peebles, with flavours of soul and gospel coming through to produce a fabulous blend that draws upon her Muscle Shoals roots to create a confection of sound that is very much her own and she has produced an album that rewards repeated listening. But in contradiction to what I’ve just written and mixing my metaphors, this album is no compound, but consists of ten nuggets of pure gold.
So to the music: what has struck me with Gold Rush, and I’m not sure why I » Continue Reading.
I know we have mixed feelings about lists here, but this one is quite interesting. National Public Radio in the US have compiled their choice of the best 150 albums made by women since 1964. I reckon I own about 20 of them, have heard maybe another 20 and there are plenty I’ve never heard and a fair few by artists I’ve never heard of. As I type I’m listening to Deep Listening by Pauline Oliveros, someone I’d never heard of until about 15 minutes ago.
Some are obvious. Some are WTF is that doing there? Some are bloody marvellous and as indicated above some are completely unknown.
Have a browse. In the words of the late Mrs Merton “Let’s have a heated debate”. NPR’s 150 greatest albums by women since 1964
I reviewed Plainsong’s album In Search Of Amelia Earhart a few months ago.
Today The Washington Post has run a story claiming she was captured by the Japanese and didn’t die in a crash A newly unearthed photo shows Amelia Earhart survived her final flight
Will Ian Matthews be inspired to write something new about her? (I suspect not).
Here is a fairly recent rendition of the song(s). Scroll forward as the music doesn’t start until at about 4:10.
Carl on The Beatles songbook explored
Times flies and more than a month has passed since Please Please Me was posted as part of this series.
Perhaps this song is a true landmark in that it starts the tradition that continued through the rest of The Beatles career: the B Side of a single that is as good as (or nearly as good as) the A side. A song whose quality far surpasses 99% of the rest of singles’ chart content.
But having said that I think it is fair to say that this is one of the more obscure songs from the very early days and It is difficult to understand why.
This contrasts markedly with the schmaltz of P.S. I Love You. It can be argued that it’s equivalently sentimental, but is much more muscular and musically far more interesting. But then it is a vocal by John, so it is hardly surprising.
I’m not sure when I first heard this. We had neither the Please, Please Me single nor album. It’s not on The Red Album and given how rare it was to hear any “popular” music on the old Light Service, be it by The Beatles » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Jeff Finlin has been recording for many years and this is his 9th album.
I’m not sure how, but I’ve never come across him before, although he plays a style of music totally in tune with my preferences. It’s a case not just that I’ve not heard anything by him, but I’d never heard of him (or at least taken notice).
I’m a regular listener to Bob Harris and so searched his website archive (which lists his playlists from every programme for many, many years) and see he has played songs from Jeff fairly regularly over the years, though far less frequently than is the case with such mediocre fare as from the likes of Zac Brown.
I haven’t paid attention to them and that has been a grievous omission on my part, a gap in my musical education that needs to be filled. Having said that, it is something that I can understand from hearing this album, because it is one packed with massive charm, a lot of beauty but isn’t a record that has obvious, immediate hooks. It inveigles its way into your consciousness with subtlety, but once it’s there it’s » Continue Reading.
Carl on The Beatles and the Please Please Me single
Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on, come on…
Now we’re getting down to business. John calls, Paul and George respond. The first taste of John and Paul getting really serious with their songwriting.
It’s just so much more muscular than Love Me Do. Featuring another Lennon harmonica riff, the repeated come ons, each one slightly more intense and emphatic than the previous one indicate their growing songwriting prowess. Their sense of creating dynamics within the song. It’s lyrically a world away from Love Me Do with it’s single rhyme pattern. Here there is a middle eight that really works in providing a contract to the verses and choruses. In the space of three months they’ve really started to develop their songwriting artistry.
MacDonald suggested in Revolution in The Head they were spurred on by the threat of having How Do You Do It released as their second single and so they came up with something that gave George Martin no sensible » Continue Reading.
A treat for me, and a few others who hang round about here, to look forward to is an album due out in August that Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have collaborated on, according to Rolling Stone.
It is titled, Not Dark Yet, after the Dylan Song they cover. The producer is Teddy Thompson.
It also includes covers of songs by Townes van Zandt, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires and Nirvana.