He’s the modern day Van, apparently. I couldn’t care less. This makes me cry. If you’re a songwriter, that’s all you need, surely?
It was yellow. Pale yellow. These days, it would be called Oxford Weave. The material was strong, well made, tightly woven. The pale yellow was broken up with thin, vertical light-blue stripes. Each stripe was made up of two thin lines, close together, and discreet. Man City blue. The collar was button-down, with a third button at the back of the neck. The short sleeves both had a small cut, a dart, in the edge of the sleeve, with a button above it. I was a skinny rake back then and the shirt was fitted, fitting me like a glove. My first Ben Sherman.
I was wearing it with a pair of navy Oxford Bags. 3-button, creased within an inch of their lives, they hung perfectly. Tight on the arse, perfect length, quality material. These rested atop black, stack-heeled boots, polished studiously and carefully, the night before. The only adornment was a silver-plate chain around my neck, thin, delicate and discreet.
For the only time in my life, before or since, I looked the dogs.
I loved Soul. The beat, the rhythm, the sharp suits.
Soul music was about love. And innocence. And loss. And longing. All of the things » Continue Reading.
New Theatre, Oxford
A Saturday night out in Oxford, Bryan Ferry and his young, lean band of musicians and a back catalogue of 40+ years to choose from. What could possibly go wrong? Absolutely nothing. Banana Ferrini belies his near 70 years and looks fantastic. His voice my have lost a bit at the top of it’s range but he has the vocal skills to compensate. The set had 4 or 5 songs from the new album (very good), Avonmore, as well as a good trip back down memory – lane to delve into plenty of Roxy classics. Ladytron, Beauty Queen, More Than This, Avalon, Love Is The Drug, Do The Strand, Virginia Plain and Editions Of You were mixed with album cuts like Stronger Through The Years, Tara and My Only Love. The band are fantastic, Neil Hubbard on second guitar supporting Jacob Quistgaard, the young lead player, perfectly. The star of the show is Jorja Chalmers, a tall girl playing the Andy Mackay role. She looks like she has walked straight out of the Addicted To Love video and she played like a dream. A really good sound, a fast-paced show and an audience » Continue Reading.
This is going to take some explaining so, pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and I shall begin. Leland Sklar is a 67 year old bass player. Any musicians amongst you will know what a ridiculously inadequate statement that is. Lee Sklar is one of the most recorded bassists in music history. He has appeared on more than 2,000 albums. I won’t list them all here but if I tell you that he is on all of the classic James Taylor and Carole King albums, Jackson Browne’s most famous early albums and albums by Ray Charles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, Billy Cobham, Neil Diamond, Hall & Oates, Toto and Barbra Streisand, to name but a handful, you’ll get the picture. Lee Sklar is Mr. Bass. I have seen him play, some years ago, on a Toto tour, shortly after Mike Porcaro first displayed signs of the horrible muscular disease that eventually took his life, last month. Lee got the call, had just two days to learn the set-list, and looked like he’d been in the band for 20 years.
Lee’s rhythm partner for much of his career has been Russell Kunkel. Russ & » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
William Royce Scaggs previous album, 2013’s Memphis, was one of my top albums of that year. I think this new one could be even better. Boz is 70 years old and his voice has lost none of it’s soul. The musicians on this album are a stellar crew; Steve Jordan, Willie Weeks, Ray Parker Jr., Jim Cox and a great horn section. With guest appearances from Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, 3 bonus tracks that are as good as anything on the album, this surely can’t fail. But it’s the song choices that raise the bar on this wonderful record. Curtis Mayfield’s I’m So Proud just floats, Richard Hawley’s gorgeous There’s A Storm A’ Comin’ is sung beautifully and Rick Danko’s Small Town Talk is just perfect. Add to that, Boz’s own Hell To Pay, with Ms. Raitt playing some filthy slide, a gorgeous version of Al Green’s Full Of Fire and half a dozen other classics and this is simply a great album. It sounds like Boz is in the room, the recording is so good. The Latin feel to Last Tango On 16th Street is perfect for his smoky, soul-soaked voice and » Continue Reading.
The Stables, Milton Keynes.
A setlist based around the wonderful new album, and then peppered with ‘the classics’ and some lesser known tracks, was right up my street. Josh and his 3-piece band were obviously in a good mood. They had walked into the little restaurant at the venue, ready for their pre-gig nosh, as Carole King’s Tapestry album played. Josh began singing his lyric from ‘1972.’ “She was feeling 1972 Grooving to a Carole King tune.” I nearly fainted. He sat down opposite me, poured his water and caught me watching. ‘Hi.’ he said. I think I did faint. The gig was joyous. Almost the whole of the new album, plus Love Vibration, 1972, Comeback, It’s The Nighttime, Winter In The Hamptons, Carolina, Why Won’t You Tell Me Why, Quiet Town, Lemon Tree, I Will Live On Islands, The Ocean, Julie….most of the set called out ‘on the hoof’ as his mood got ever happier. I was in the centre of the front row and didn’t stop grinning all night. I’ve been gigging for 44 years, hundreds of gigs, and this went into my Top 10 of all time. Wonderful.
Afterword types to » Continue Reading.
Flying solo, Monday night, Milton Keynes. I am in my 44th year of gig-going. I am up to many hundreds of gigs. A half-full Stables, for a gig by a Nashville singer-songwriter (yes, I know he’s not from Nashville. Yes, I know he lives in Spain.) just went into my Top 10, All Time. Plus, having a quiet meal in the gig’s lovely restaurant beforehand, he sat, 10 feet away, poured his water, caught my eye, and said “Hi.” I cannot tell you what his music, what HE means to me. So, to tell you that his band were great, his setlist was almost perfect (mostly on the hoof which, with 2 Spanish players in the band, is no mean feat.) well, as the song says, “Well, you people all know what he’s talking about.” I shall post a review when I have stopped coming over all unnecessary.
Yesterday’s anniversary of the death of Sandy Denny (37 years ago. She was 31) had me indulging myself in a Sandy-Fest. Her voice has beguiled me for many of my 58 years. A song will crop up, in these days of Shuffle and Playlists, and catch me unawares. This came on the other day. It is my favourite song that she ever sang. I adore everything about it, and it is one of those songs that I wrap around myself, for comfort, and solace, and sanctuary. My wife found me gazing out of the window as it played, looking at nothing in particular, and completely unaware that she was in the room. After several attempts to rouse me by calling my name, she leaned in and kissed me, softly, on the cheek. I could have cried. She just gets me. I am so lucky.
George Marinelli’s excellent youtube channel, Sideman, has a new interview up. This is with his long time friend and band-mate, Hutch Hutchinson. I could listen to musicians of this calibre talking for hours. As you would expect for someone that has been Bonnie Raitt’s right-hand man for 32 years, Hutch comes across as a lovely man. Imagine a night in a bar with these guys.
The girl was sitting alone at the bar. These days, not a common sight, but not unusual. In 1974? It was staggering. So much so that I did one of those cartoon double-takes when I walked into the Rat’s Castle. It was early evening, on a wet, Thursday night and the old pub was almost empty. Ted, the miserable old bloke, who was always there, was sitting in ‘his’ seat, hunched over the Evening Standard and a half of bitter, a pickled onion in his fingers, the dark vinegar dribbling down his fingers and dripping onto the stained wooden table. Terry, the barman, was drying dimpled pint pots with a dirty tea-towel and humming along to The Four Tops on the jukebox. Ah, the jukebox at The Rat’s Arsehole. It was old, clunky and the money-slot was slow. But it had the best sound in town. And Steve, the landlord, kept it stocked with a great selection of Motown, Glam and British Rock singles, as well as a few lesser known American songs. On a good night, when the pub was busy, I could go ten, maybe twelve songs that I loved, before getting a duff one. Then “This Town » Continue Reading.
Cadogan Hall, London
The umpteenth time we’ve seen Paul, and his wonderful band, but I think this was the best. He sings all of the hits associated with his voice – from How Long to Tempted, from Another Cup Of Coffee to The Living Years. These are interspersed with tracks from his new album, Rain Or Shine, and a terrific selection of covers. Peggy Lee’s I Know I’m Losing You is especially beautiful, as is Springsteen’s If I Should Fall Behind. The band have all been with him for years and are all terrific players. But it’s that voice that draws me back. One of the great voices.
Right up for a cracking Saturday night out. The roar that greeted the end of Satisfy My Soul, the gentle opener, really took Paul by surprise. The noise didn’t let up. A quick word for the venue. Great bar, comfortable seats, take your drinks in, great sound, nice staff. What more could you want?
It made me think..
We took 2 friends who had never seen him live but who I’ve been sending his CD’s, every Christmas, for years. They were both quite emotional at the » Continue Reading.
Nights Out & Nights In reviews all appear to have been typed into a different template to a normal blog post – just like in our former abode. Can anyone help me find it, please?
According to today’s papers, as a bi-polar sufferer, it appears that I want to kill you all. As if the state of mental health treatment wasn’t bad enough FFS. Sorry.
It is the accepted wisdom on this site (and the previous one) that this is the greatest guitar solo ever committed to vinyl (it just is, we’ve had the debate, get over it.) However, Pierre van der Linden had a pretty shit- hot day on the drums, too.
Mike Porcaro, bass player with Toto, has died. He suffered from ALS (Motor Neurone disease). He was 59. Live, he had been replaced by the likes of Lee Sklar and Nathan East, which shows just how good Mikey was. I have seen him play plenty of times and he is easily my favourite bassist. He was my wife’s favourite musician so, tonight, we have opened a bottle of bubbly and toasted to the fantastic nights, great music and a wonderful smile that we will miss.
If you have access to today’s Sunday Times do yourself a favour. You may usually avoid the sports section but, today, read the piece by the wonderful David Walsh on cricketer Martin Crowe. The subject has cancer and not long to live. His honest appraisal of his life is almost disconcerting. His views on death are quietly uplifting. Written by a sympathetic and compassionate journalist, it is one of the best things I have read for years.
Something made me turn my head. A sound? A movement? I couldn’t be sure. Whatever it was, it had stopped my journey home, my reverie. I stood on the deserted pavement and looked around. It was nearly 3 o’clock in the morning and the last car to pass me, in either direction, had been ten minutes ago. I unscrewed the top of the half-bottle of Jameson’s Whiskey and swigged the familiar liquid. I was pissed. I was alone. Years later, looking back, it has become apparent just how alone. I put the bottle back in the pocket of my Greatcoat and trudged on. I had left the pub early, the sound of Thin Lizzy ringing in my ears. The walk to the train station took twenty minutes. I had been walking for nearly an hour. I was lost.
The pub was in Shepperton, one change on the train from where we lived. In other words, an effort. But an effort worth making. We had heard that there was this pub, The Ship, that was suddenly playing great music on a Friday night, a few weeks earlier. We had ventured over to the unfamiliar surroundings 3 Fridays on the trot. This » Continue Reading.
The great George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt’s guitar player) and Dave Durocher have recorded some interviews with musicians for a youtube project called Sideman. The interviewees include George himself, and Garry Tallent, from the E Street Band. It’s nice and casual but it’s great to hear road stories, etc. George has become a ‘friend’ of my wife & I on Twitter and he comes across as nice as he appears here. I want to eat pizza made by George Marinelli. He also loves a pint of Guinness. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsDOsSHwXjmT4fok-WUc9NQ/videos
Some of you may remember a post from last year about a lunch with my friend, Jack. It lasted 6 1/2 hours and my post on it brought some lovely comments. The anniversary of it is tomorrow…..and we’re doing it again. I have a hangover of some virility today, so I doubt that the lunch will be the epic of last year but, hey, a couple of Guinnesses with Jack and anything is possible.
sums up my day.
Hi. Nice to be back. Had a shite 6 months but there is light. It’s a tiny, fecking pin – point but, hey, I can see it. Here, Derek Trucks is playing one of Duane’s guitars through one of Duane’s amps. Fuckin’ irrelevant, obviously, but it makes me happy. These days, that’s all I want, to make ‘a tiny bit happy’ (as a Chinese friend of mine would say.) http://youtu.be/cYXSTMK8MU8
On first hearing, I thought this song had a nice intro, a slight Country flavour and good harmonies. Then, 48 secs in…..BANG! They are called The People The Poet, they’re from South Wales and I cannot stop playing this song. Turn it up!