Other opinions are, of course, available, but this is a new recording that Jan has streaming on his website and I see he’s been playing it live recently too, with sax man Benjamin Herman (jammin’ with Herman…). Bliss!
Colin H on Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill
A number of people around here seem to be fans of The Gloaming. I wish Martin Hayes and Dennis all the success they can get, though the band, for me – just as a selfish punter – dilutes what they did/do as a duo. Here’s something I wrote for ‘The Independent’ back in, I think, 1997, based on a glimpse of their touring world over three days in Donegal.
Dennis Cahill is having a bit of a bad day. No, make that a week. “I think this is the first time I’ve convinced Debbie that touring isn’t one long vacation” he growls, in distinctive Chicago drawl. “I mean, you’ve all the aggravation with airports and none of the relaxation when you get there. I tell you, if I ever make a million I’m gonna give $50,000 to Debbie and Amy and send ‘em off on tour – see how they deal with it…”
The phrase ‘blistering barnacles’ comes to mind, and it’s hard to suppress amusement. Dennis is Captain Haddock to Martin Hayes’ Tintin, cavorting around the world having adventures, meeting faintly ridiculous people on a regular basis and dealing » Continue Reading.
Okay, there may be an element of exaggeration there, but the Wookaladies are featured in this Friday’s first episode of ‘The UK’s Best Part-Time Band’ on BBC4.
The episode apparently features the NI-Scotland-Wales semi-final (filmed at the Limelight, Belfast), which was great fun (I was there, though I didn’t see @Johnny-Concheroo, who is traditionally at everything).
The Wookas get that far – do they get further? We shall see…
Anybody round here live near Rayleigh in deepest Essex?
PM me if you might be able to do me a simple favour (expenses covered, of course)…
The tracklist on this new underground compo inspired the question. Well, Johnny, how many?
DISC ONE 1. STRAY – All In Your Mind 2. THE OPEN MIND – Cast A Spell 3. THE MOOCHE – Hot Smoke And Sassafras 4. CRUSHED BUTLER – My Son’s Alive 5. CHICKEN SHACK – Going Down 6. CYCLE – Father Of Time 7. THE DEVIANTS – I’m Coming Home 8. THE PINK FAIRIES – Do It 9. FACTORY – Time Machine 10. THE GROUNDHOGS – Cherry Red 11. WICKED LADY – I’m A Freak 12. CHARGE – Rock My Soul 13. HAWKWIND ZOO – Sweet Mistress Of Pain 14. STONEHOUSE – Nightmare 15. THE IRON MAIDEN – Falling 16. BARNABUS – Apocalypse
DISC TWO 1. WRITING ON THE WALL -Bogeyman 2. DEEP PURPLE – Fireball 3. JERUSALEM – Primitive Man 4. EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND -Love In The Rain 5. HELLMET – Trust 6. SECOND HAND – Rhubarb! 7. LITTLE FREE ROCK – Dream 8. IRON CLAW – Skullcrusher 9. DARK – Zero Time 10. THE VELVET FROGS – Jehovah 11. THE MOVE – Brontosaurus 12. STACK WADDY – Bring It To Jerome 13. SAMUEL PRODY – Mr Make Believe 14. BARE SOLE – Flash » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Tubby Hayes
‘A Man In A Hurry’ is a terrific documentary about British jazz great Tubby Hayes (tenor sax/flute/vibes), a short fat man (1935-73) from London who was full of energy, had world-class talent, and was incredibly prolific on record, on stage and on screen, particularly in the period from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.
When you scour 1960s Melody Makers at the British Library, as I have done periodically, for information on other fragments of culture, your eye is often drawn to things outside your remit, and for me, Tubby Hayes is one of those. It’s clear he was a big deal at the time. Somehow, he faded away toward the end of the decade and, like fellow British modern jazz greats Joe Harriott and Phil Seamen (one might add Graham Bond to that list), would die prematurely in the early 70s – all of them having to a fair extent become yesterday’s men, and at least partly through substance abuse.
I’m fascinated by 1960s British jazz, of all types, but had little knowledge of Tubby Hayes. It turns out that Mark Baxter and Lee Cogswell, producer/writer and director/editor, respectively, of this wonderful film, could say » Continue Reading.
A funny thing happened to me a couple of days ago at a cafe in east Belfast. Myself and Kyle ‘The Kylemeister’ Leitch, whom some regard as ‘the godfather of punk’ in Belfast (even Terri Hoooley, who’s made a career out of that very epithet!), were quaffing Americanos at an outside table and putting the world to rights when a gentle soul in glasses at the next table said, “Did I just hear you mention Jimmy Clitheroe…?”
He did. It transpired the fellow had seen Clitheroe at an end of the pier show in Blackpool many years ago. Obviously, I had to then find a way to explain why his name had just come up in our conversation. It was like this…
The Kylemeister, in between anecdotes about old punks, had said, ‘Van’s not been back here since he was turned away…’ (The cafe in question is one of The Man’s haunts but one day a few weeks back he turned up and all the tables were full. Sometimes being The Man is no good when The Seats are unavailable.)
At this point, I may have mumbled a brief bit of Van impersonation involving pasty suppers, Mahalia Jackson, creme anglais » Continue Reading.
At last, Avalon can be found on an Ordnance Survey Map. It appears to be located in a suburban park in East Belfast. In fact, as I type, I could walk there in 10 minutes. I’ll pass on the Afterword’s ‘hello’ to King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Merlin, Sir Galahad, ‘Justin’ and all the rest of the guys. I fully expect to find a short fat man in a Blues Brothers outfit in a paroxysm of transcendence, “playin’ R&B with the fauns and the satyrs, eatin’ pies with Reepicheep an’ Aslan, Mahalia Jackson comin’ through the ether, Bix Beiderbecke and Georgie Best crossin’ the bridge, take me back, take me back, take me way back…” etc etc etc
Back in 2001, off the back of Market Square Records’ ‘People On The Highway: A Bert Jansch Encomium’ 2CD tribute album, the great Duffy Power – who performed a stunning version of Bert’s ‘I Am Lonely’ – was blown away by my friend Janet Holmes’ singing on a cover of Pentangle’s ‘People On The Highway’ on the album, and suggested we try some joint recordings.
The logistics between London and Belfast in that largely pre-internet era proved too much for a full album collaboration, but a few joint Janet & Duffy recordings on some of Duffy’s songs were completed before the project faltered. (These recordings, and others by Duffy from the period, were released on Market Square a few years later as his final album ‘Tigers’, which I was delighted to sleevenote – highly recommended. An outtake arrangement of one song from this period, ‘Nine Lives Gone’, appears on my recent ‘Sunset Cavaliers’, which is dedicated to Duffy.)
I don’t like failing in projects. So two things happened next back in 2001: I determined to source material for a ‘Duffy Power at the BBC’ album, for Duffy; and I determined to fund an album for Janet.
Some amazing material, » Continue Reading.
For those who missed Sham in Edinburgh in March, here’s a front row view with quality sound and vision of the first 37 minutes.
I watched the recent bought-in Billy Fury doc on BBC4. It was clearly made as a homage, with non BBC4 production values, but included a lot of interviewees and a few bits of vintage TV – though limited (perhaps necessarily given what survives/was affordable) to mostly rather drab ballads from the early 60s. (From memory, there was a more compelling Fury doc on Arena in the 80s.)
Respect is certainly due to Billy for his being the pioneer of a rock artist writing his own songs, with ‘The Sound of Fury’ album in 1960.
But is the reverence for Billy a little overblown? Does his music really stand up, or are we overdoing the accolades because of his tragic early death and James Dean looks? Is it more what Billy represents than his music that we doff our caps at?
Here is is doing something a bit more exciting: ‘Long Live Rock’, from 1973:
I’m considering various vinyl/CD/download code options for a project. Because I’m not really a music download kinda guy – I choose not have any gadgets for playing the stuff, so it’s not part of my own ‘lifestyle’ – I don’t have a well-informed sense of how used/how popular the combination of vinyl + download code is. Any of the AW massive have any advice on this?
The need for vinyl + ‘something’ (either download code or, slightly belt+braces, a CD inserted with the vinyl) is because I’m looking at a vinyl-length album but around 30-35 minutes worth of relevant additional tracks.
…Extra. Definitely worth 30 mins of your time…
I’m casually fascinated by British rock’n’roll and, beyond that brief late 50s burst of original activity, I’m fascinated by British rock revivalists. We would say ‘rock’n’roll revivalists’ today, but if one reads through old Melody Makers from 1968-70 the term used is ‘rock’ – presumably everyone else was playing music described otherwise at that time. I recall reading a Wild Angels interview from this period a couple of years back (getting distracted from whatever I was actually researching at the time) where the lead singer was saying things like ‘The likes of Led Zeppelin and the Who are playing some rock in their shows cos that’s what the kids want…’, meaning the three or four covers they’d routinely do (Shakin’ All Over, Summertime Blues, Let’s Have A Party, C’mon Everybody, etc). I wonder what the revivalists thought they were playing in the rest of their sets? Anyway…
Is it time we rescued these people – these self-professed outsiders, greasers, teds, rockabilly revels and whatever – from the greasy motorway burger van of oblivion?
Is there anything in this niche within a niche worth hauling into the sunlight and reappraising, as only the Afterword can?
Or is it, like Northern » Continue Reading.
If you live in Northern Ireland, one of the key things you have to be guard against if turning on BBC TV or local radio is the high chance of seeing/hearing Stephen Nolan. I avoid him like a plague. He is a seriously obese man who has rows with peiople for a living – consumer-affair or local politics type talk shows where guests come on to get shouted at and the studio audience is whipped up into pointless apoplexy. Eamonn Holmes was a regional TV walrus too, but at least he was harmless.
I must admit to rather enjoying this clip. I feel sorry for the chair though – stuck in the same room as Nolan for 35 minutes more than it was contracted for.
I had no idea he had a 5Live show. Is anyone else outside of NI aware of this man?
This sounds like fun – a hillbilly version of ‘Tommy’. If only they’d gone the whole hog and retitled it ‘Bubba’…
THE HILLBENDERS present…. The Who’s TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry
Hit US show comes to the UK for the first time in July
The HillBenders, from Springfield, Missouri, finally bring their legendary full-length bluegrass version of The Who’s rock opera TOMMY to the UK. Already a hit in the US, Rolling Stone described the show as ‘full of windmilling arms, intricate harmonies and creatively composed layering. The production was intriguing – in a most excellent way’. Videos here: www.whograss.com
JULY 15 Bristol Americana Weekend 17 Larmer Tree Festival 20 Milton Keynes International Festival 21 London Union Chapel (www.serious.org.uk/tommy) 23 Gateshead, The Sage SummerTyne Festival
Original creator of TOMMY, The Who’s Pete Townshend apparently loves the Hillbenders’ unique version and chatted to them about it when he invited them to see The Who live in concert in Nashville last year – the day after their own sold out performance in the city. (Full story: http://www.cybergrass.com/node/4584). And on April 28 the band will play Roger Daltrey’s Teen Cancer America presents North Carolina Cares charity event in Raleigh, NC.
“Ever since » Continue Reading.
For those around here who think my path never crosses the paths of new music… well, you’d be *almost* entirely right. But I was contacted recently by David Meagher (Meagre Dave? It would be a great punk name…) about his band the Sons of Southern Ulster and their new album ‘Foundry Folk Songs’.
This is the lead track, ‘The Pop Inn’, and I guess anyone who lived in a small town in the 70s will know where he’s coming from. Where he’s *actually* coming from is County Cavan, a place known for pretty much nothing… except the Sons of Southern Ulster. So he’s made a difference already.
It really shouldn’t be my thing, but I like this, and I hope others round here will check them out. Website link attached.
Colin H on Quintessence
It had always surprised me that, with two instrumental live excerpts on 1970 LP ‘Quintessence’ and a live ‘Jesus, Buddha’ on the 1971 Island records sampler ‘Bumpers’, apparently no one in the music reissuing world had asked Universal (keepers of the Island archive) if the rest of that concert was available for license. Around 2007, at my suggestion, Brian O’Reilly, the singularly affable, laid-back and open-to-ideas MD of Hux Records, did so.
It transpired that, in addition to their three studio albums ‘In Blissful Company’, ‘Quintessence’ and ‘Dive Deep’, there had been at least three official concert recordings during Quintessence’s 1969-71 tenure at Island: St Pancras Town Hall in March 1970 (source of the three live fragments mentioned above); and two recorded in one day at Queen Elizabeth Hall in May 1971. Recent research shows that there was a fourth Island live recording made at the LSE in November 1970, but this was blighted by technical gremlins, referred to in press interviews at the time, and has not survived.
At that time, we had access to a Universal-supplied mix (seemingly a mix created in 1971) of the QE Hall concerts in full and 36 » Continue Reading.
A delightful Radio 4 documentary that manages, without fuss or pretension or the male posturing that writing about music became, to show us a world (in the middle 60s) that we probably now underestimate or have forgotten about – a time before musicians became precious about their art and before people writing about it felt the need to become personalities themselves. And yet these supposedly fluffy interviews were read by millions and contained perhaps surprisingly truthful insights, based on significant access. It was very largely a time before ‘the PR person’. The title is slightly misleading: replace ‘rock’ with ‘pop’, which actually adds another layer to it – a time when what became rock was genuinely mainstream and ‘popular’ at the same time, a time before the myriad sub-genres to come. Well done to all who made the programme.
Colin H on George Martin and Mahavishnu Orchestra
NOTE: I was thrilled to be able to put some questions to Sir George Martin for my book ‘Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond’ (Jawbone, 2014). The Mahavishnu album he produced is merely one of many dozens of records he sprinkled magic over, but it was one of his own favourites. This is an abridgement of the relevant chapter. RIP.
(Because of gremlins in uploading the chapter it will appear in the comments below.)
I’m off to see The Manfreds in Dublin later this week. Looking forward to it – a bit of fun and a nice venue. Anyone here seen them before?
Colin H on Brian Houston
No Brian Houston gigs in several years and then two come along a week apart – first, a solo troubadour show to 40 people in the quaint and, frankly, bugger-to-find Brontë Heritage Centre in the wilder regions of County Down, near the Land of the Rathfris (Rathfriland) and then a packed Empire Music Hall show with full band and guests in Belfast. The cumulative verdict in one line: Brian Houston is an extraordinary performer with a mastery of musical styles and so at ease onstage that he can run a show like a gentle observational comedy when he wishes or get down on his knees and rock like it’s 1973 with such apparent naturalness that one never considers at the time whether any irony is involved.
The Brontë show was fun for all sorts of non-musical reasons: for a start, finding the place on a dark Saturday night, down backroads, up dirt tracks, and eventually there it is, an 18th Century church with attached cottage (museum) which has some connection to the Brontë sisters’ grandfather. Poor old Andy Peters – a tireless, easy-going promoter of roots music who runs an Americana club there every Saturday » Continue Reading.
The great Jan Akkerman, best-known for his time in Focus 1970-75, was previously in Dutch prog/blues band Brainboxy for a year or so.
Recently, he’s toured Holland occasionaly with a bespoke band in homage to that time/band, under the banner of ‘My Brainbox’ – to differentiate it, presumably, from the reformed (Mk2) ‘Brianbox’ (featuring his 1970 replacement Rudy De Queljoe).
Jan’s band features a singer whose sound is remarkably close to that of original singer Kaz Lux. Here they are a week or two back playing one of the original Brainbox songs, with period effects on the guitar, and variations on the blues scale that no one in Chicago would understand. Enjoy!
Plenty of notice – the ezquisite and perma-smiley Cornish-Chicagoan singer/songwriter tours the UK in April-May, from Penzance to Oban, in a more or less sensibly arranged south to north progression.
I never tire of her masterpiece ‘In Derby Cathedral’, with its mesmerising canon at the end. Someone has kindly uploaded a new live vid of it recently, wherein we not only hear but somehow see three Sarahs (Sarae?).
And for those who can’t get to any of the UK dates, there’s a month in Holland beforehand.
For the sake of a tenner, take a punt and go see her. You’ll not be disappointed!
I’ve just noticed this short but, I think, interesting interview with Andy Powell, posted by ‘Guitar Player’ a week or so back. He distills a lot of experience into a short space, with some good advice too.