No, not a response to the (otherwise unnoticed by AW) Brits of yesterday, but an ask for folk to pitch in with the albums they didn’t get around to listening to last year. Just been listening to “This is Where I Live” by William Bell and it is every bit as good, better even, than the glowing reviews. If this clip doesn’t melt your ears, try his version of blues standard, Born Under a Bad Sign, which is just sheer blow other versions out the water phenomenal It could have pushed Michael Kiwanuka very close, IMHO, he being my number 1 at the end of year. So what is your later discovered glory?
Town Hall, Birmingham
First gig of the year and good to be out and about, despite the determined nip in the air. Missed my first train so missed the support. Spot on 8.30 and a six piece band ran on: keyboards, drums, double bass, cello, violin, guitar and synth, followed by Kenny, the elfin and eponymous King, beaming his wide-mouthed grin. A vaguely space theme inhabited the costumes, all silver leggings, NASA T shirts and, for the frontman, lots of glitter eyeliner. Nary a word and straight into You Just Want, the opener from unlikely hit album, 12 in theAW poll, the band just right for his organic motorik, a successful hybrid between fey(ish) folk and acceleratively drummed drones. 3 songs before a word, that being for introductions and a brief question around the love life status of the audience, involving a brief waltz with woman from the front row, conducted at the edge of the seating. Love Life the song followed, if anything more yearning yet propulsive than the original. The whole of Astronaut Meets Appleman followed, albeit in different order to the record, the otherwise somewhat indulgent Peter Rabbit Tea steering right over the » Continue Reading.
It says here, over here to the right of my writing, that Beany’s 2015 post about bread shops in Bolton is in the lead. Despite it being near 8 months since any comments were added. Do I detect nefarious forces? Veritable teams of, well, given the piece, muppets, tasked with viewing this on a daily basis? Will this start a trend in bringing back tumbleweed from our well of remembrance? There’s a chance for my Bastille review after all!
Another good man gone, erstwhile Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers guitarman, also of The Action, Mighty Baby, Savoy Brown to name a few. The Willis were my main band as a mid to late teen and I caught them a number of times, Stone being one character there amongst many, sporting a beret long before anyone else popular here. Lovely clipped tone in his playing, almost a jazz sound but his style unmistakeably of the blues. Play up, Martin at 1 min 25s in the clip
I ranted here yesterday about the tyranny of copyright fears for photos, arguing the logic for youtube to be similarly denied. Today I have you-tube size spaces in all the posts that had them, OK, with the URL present, but no auto-embed. Glitch or the hope you like our new direction?
What does it sound like?:
What does it sound like? Absobloodylutely stupendous, believe the hype. Really. There really is a reason why just about every critic in just about every sphere is saying this. Ok, so some of it is because it is so very very long since hopes lay undashed, but if ever a prodigal came good, this is it, kill the fattest calf in the land. Forget best since Some Girls, best since Stripped, this is the best since the 1964 EP The Pretty Things, which, apart from not being by them, gives the best idea of the sound they’re coming from. And, yes, stuff the pundits saying this needed Mick Taylor in, or even Brian, it’s Dick, with a D, Taylor that I would like to hear, back with the band he nearly joined. And Stu would have been good. Hopefully you are getting the feel this is no polished late 60s Blue Horizon fare, Mike Vernon would not have touched this garage band with a bargepole. This is the blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, even if the songs aren’t, rough and ready, raw and vibrant, grown men polishing their, um, brooms. Basic even, » Continue Reading.
As I was today doing my homework, the monthly skim through Unshod/Boho, I discovered a further, unheralded at least in England, untimely death, that of Shooglenifty front hurricane, Angus Grant, who quietly died last month “after a short illness”. Yes, Bro’ Cancer strikes again. Probably explains their non-appearance at Shrewsbury this summer. As this obit shows, he was quite a fella. Some malt will be belatedly supped the night. http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14798254.Obituary___Angus_R_Grant__musician_and_member_of_Shooglenifty/
O2 Institute, Birmingham
Here’s the vibe, one of the coldest nights of the year, and there are 5 middle-aged men on stage, singing and strumming their hearts out on the cheeriest sounds this side of the Clyde Riviera. This late blooming, new album “Here” featuring in most of the 2016, best-of lists, is a delight, anything from that album segueing seamlessly with anything from before, interspersing old with new with abandon. Like a comfy winter coat, they instil a feel good whatever in their, um, fan club and tonight, Matthew, I was one of them. Kicking off aptly, Start Again, songs from nearly every stage of their 27 year existence were featured, Norman Blake unmistakably in charge, yet sharing and swapping singing duties with bassist Gerrard Love and guitarist Raymond McGinley. the 3 styles of songwriting impossible to differentiate, all a joyful jangle, a word I try to avoid. But can’t. With keyboard/sometimes more guitar and drums adding to the vocal swell, at times this smacked more of the Beach Boys or, particularly with some of the newer songs, C,S,N & Y, albeit ni a good way, if those bands had been brought up in Northern » Continue Reading.
Musing on the RS/RSs piece by Junior a week or so back, I got to thinking how much would I pay for a decent Stones ticket. Or anyone for that matter. And I am appreciating that it isn’t always the music that calls the tune, sometimes there being other tugs on our consciences to put on the glad rags and barefoot it into town, any town, and catch some live. (Hell, with a 2016 like it’s been, reaping grimly at our individual bucket lists of bands to see, names now impossible drawn through, there’s added pressure.) I used to see the Stones every tour for a while, 80s through 90s, up until the Voodoo Lounge tour, 1995, but it all got silly priced after that. Shame, as that was, for me, the best show I had experienced, the coalescence of better sound, and better preparation. (Knebworth, best for cred kudos, was pretty shite, I recall….) I still look at the prices, despite the increasingly derisive and/or sycophantic reviews, but nah. But still I wonder. So my question for youse is who would you consider paying over the odds to see and why?
o2 Academy, Birmingham
I was a wee bit nervous ahead of this, uncertain which version I would be seeing. So this tour advertises itself as celebrating 20 years, despite the Rev. D Wayne telling us it’s actually 19. (Or wiki saying 21) But that wasn’t the point, it was whether I was going to get the country blues bottleneck’n’harp gravelly vocals techno band or the annoying bloke talking cod american all over it. As it happened we had both, but the Rev D, for it is he, was restrained enough to be bearable, even amusing, once the image of Vic Reeves disappeared from my mind. After an energetic set by a reincarnation of my school, your school, any school’s 6th form band, playing similar material and the same covers, prompt on 9.20 out went the lights and on strode the 1st 7 of the 3 represented tonight, kicking straight in with a new song from Blues, their new LP, stylistically segueing straightaway into their trademark wail and stomp in a pleasing way, Larry Love sleazing the vocals in tandem with Harpo Strangelove’s, um, harp. Rev D then appeared with a brief epistle and they cantered through » Continue Reading.
OK, first stadium tour, this band nailed it and have their sights on being the next biggest band in the world. And they could do it, the combination of boyband singer, choral vocals and solid musical crew on stage appealing to as wide an audience I have witnessed, from teeny bopping office girls to loves young marrieds, babes all babysat, to grizzled AW types like me. Singer Dan Smith jumped and jogged his way through the 90 minute show with gauche abandon, all self deprecation about his lyrics and his dancing, yet canny enough to constantly thank his audience, with reminisces as to the exact wheres and whens of previous Birmingham shows. Maybe nearly every song they know, certainly all the ones I know, from their 2 LPs, the live band was augmented by the same brass section as in the Glasto coverage, as well as now a 2 piece cello and violin string section, each of which, brass and strings, expand the electronica of the core band to good effect, adding an organic earthiness. Video backdrops carefully choreographed the onstage sound, echoes of U2, yet without the knowingness, and Smith won over the » Continue Reading.
Some of you who know me elsewhere will be aware the Squeeze made a respectable man of me on Friday. Our celebration included this piece of music, during the signings, so, imagine our surprise when we visited Chester today. As we took a short cut through an alley I could hear violin playing, seeing a busker at street level below. Smooth tone? Check. Long hair and gothy? Check. Hell, purple violin and effects pedals aplenty? Check and double bloody check, for yes, it was he. And he seemed please to be told he had soundtracked at least part of our day. We were in 8th heaven! Couldn’t have planned it if we tried.
Shamelessy picking up from the ailments post below, I thought it would be interesting to examine the smoking history of our demographic, not given least the long and usually amicable relationship between music and drugs. Tobacco, neat or with added, was well nigh an essential when some of our grizzled and motley crew were cutting their teeth and choosing their chops. Not asking for US presidential-style I never inhaled cop-outs, or indeed about anything other than non-waccy baccy. This is narco free admissions time. So, here goes. I’m the clean-living representative, never fancied it, never did it, some luck I raise probably too many glasses to, in a likely swing and roundabout, but so far, hic, so good. You?
In the absence of that occasional sturdy variant, seemingly recently lopped, “best thing you’ve heard all month”, that hybrid of blogger takeover and nights in, here is a cracker on all fronts, John Scofield’s new work, and from best title like ever, “Country for Old Men”. Don’t run, Tiggs, this is no country like you know, especially this version of Hank Williams staple, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. OK, this isn’t the album version, that being unavailable in this country’s youtube, but it is a slower lope at it than the recorded version. And it is OK, but you will have to imagine the version that nearly had me drive a nun over at lunchtime. Less lonely, more full on stir crazy, cabin fever demento I could scream. Or at least play such manic, marginalised guitar that even Hank might question his authorship, with barely scarce glimpses of any remembered sequence of notes, more the tunes of the synapses in Jack Nicholsons head as he went slowly mad in The Shining. A maelstrom of inventive brio, only finally nailing the tune in the final bars. I love it. And there’s more like that on the record. If you think » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
I’ll come to that in due course, but this is more than a review, it’s a request, cos the recording I talk about is all but unavailable. I refer to “Unexpected”, a disc that was for sale and that I picked up at last weeks Graham Parker (&BS) duo gig a week ago. Played (quietly) as pre-show music and featured by one song within the understandably Parker predominant set, I gave it a punt, abetted by the support act’s statement that it was unavailable via the usual tax-dodging outlet etc. I should add I am one of those off folk who enjoys the other guy, if you understand and forgive the phrase. I have the albums by the Rumour and the one by the Attractions minus their modus. And i liked what I heard. On closer listening I liked it better. Crafted and honed old guy rock music, neither scary nor innovative, nether noisy nor challenging, just very well played, soothing and sound, songs to mellow to. Schwarz can certainly play guitar, has an unassuming voice and can rhyme a near-cliche with aplomb. OK, he isn’t ever going to tear the charts apart, but » Continue Reading.
Partly inspired by Sewbots waspish remarks over on the sister to this strand, let’s hear it for the shockers, preferably by those who should know better, like Willie ‘n’ Waylon………
Pepped up by Tigger’s review of the boxset, it was only yesterday I sought a ticket for this, and barely 24 hours later, here I am to hear the Parkerilla recall the legendary goodwill of Bromsgrove audiences. I can’t believe he has ever played this tiny theatre, perhaps 300 souls, even if that, but perfect for this sort of set, no frills, light shows or theatrics, just 2 seasoned performers doing what they do best. Graham Parker, tinier and friendlier than memory serves, on harp, kazoo and a massive acoustic guitar, Brinsley Schwartz, the man, not his eponymous band, on a tiny electric. (Perhaps it was the perspective, Schwartz’s XXL against Parker’s S.) Diving straight into a glorious “Watch the Moon Come Down”, the duo treatment worked a treat, Parker singing and strumming, voice unaltered, whilst fluid licks sprung effortlessly from Schwartz’s fingers. With 39 odd years of songs to choose from, it was always going to be a challenge what would make the cut, but we were assured he would be giving a lot of old stuff, duly delivered, perhaps with the most exposure to “Howlin’ Wind” and “Heat Treatment”, his first 2 » Continue Reading.
Shropshire Showground, Shrewsbury
My return trip here, finding the ambience right up my street: not too folkie, unless you want that, a wide definition anyway of folk and you can park by your tent, none of that cross-country endurance hike mullarkey with your house on your back. So with the sun high in the sky I arrived, eager for the fray. Tom Robinson, yes that one, was first up, with me hoping he hadn’t seen my review of his new (see Nights In), and hoping he would only play old. He played old, and it was a delight, gamefully playing bass, as he always did, rather than coasting with an acoustic strum. All the hits were sung along with gusto and it gave an uplifting boost to kick things off with. Blackie & the Rodeo Kings were on next and were terrific, their folk and country roots well hidden in a 4 to the floor robustness, drawn from, apparently, 32 years of gigging, 26 with the same line-up. The 3 front men were clearly having a ball, playing and singing their black Nudie suits off, Tom Wilson clearly having morphed into a bear since his album » Continue Reading.
Prompted by Twangs 20 best guitar album thread and Sunday morning, so anything goes…. A question, m’learneds: a few years back Carlos Santana put out a “covers” LP of guitar solos that was hugely derided by all and sundry, including not a few of his peers. And, OK, allowing for the fact it isn’t all that great, actually guitar solos apart, being let down by a Billboard top 50 aimed production and the usual lousy vocals so loved by the man, what is so wrong with the idea? He is a guitarist. Singers can get away with singing other peoples songs, jazzers are always interpreting other peoples stuff, tho’ they call ’em standards in that idiom, why shouldn’t he? (The criticism was more that he did it, not how he did it, Richard Thompson being expressly dismissive)
Given it’s the dog days of summer, with nowt on the telly, give or take some splashing, running and jumping, time to appreciate the full literary talents of this august site, here’s an idea: As a way of denoting our origins, or current placements, all are invited to pen a pome, preferably in that highest of the canon, the limerick. Here’s mine, from Lichfield.
“There was an old man of Lich,
whose language was arcane and kitsch.
His meter was torrid.
his language was florid,
in song, haiku or triptych.”
P.S. So why the song? Kudos to the first to comment.
As ever and reliably late to the game, I have been exploring some of the psychedelier end of dance musics, especially where it laps onto the waves of world exotica, so it’s been Loop Guru, Dub Trees and the like. In this case the like is Shponge, who, whilst I was reading the sleeve notes revealed a name I recognised. Yes, Rama Ram, and the same ex-Quintessance flute-tooter, Rama Ram. And rather engaging it is all and I consider myself well Shpongled. So, Colin H, your task should you take it………
What does it sound like?:
Not quite as the hype would suggest…. I really like Beth Orton, or did, eagerly snapping up the early records on arrival; is it really 20 years since Trailer Park “invented”, albeit with hindsight, it not called that then, Folktronica, the combination of an electronic music with keening damsel in distress vocalisations? I even saw her live then, supported, I recall, by Shack. I stayed with her for the next few discs, as she gradually dropped the electronica and found greater power and control in her wayward voice, adding jazzier hues. This record has been touted as a return to her starting blocks, so my hopes were high. Heck, even the reviews seemed good. So what’s my problem? Sadly she seems to have lost near all semblance of the organic heart that was the humanisation of her beats. Her voice sounds all wrong for a start, not like her, the frailty replaced by a glassy brittleness, and, call me old-fashioned, I do like a tune from time to time. Indeed, it is only the second to last track, ironically(?) entitled Flesh and Blood, that anything familiar in expectation raises it’s head, and it is » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Given how this band seem to be the bee’s banana for so many on this site, I thought it belatedly time to, um, get on the train, and establish whether we are talking TGV or 3rd class single carriage. And the truth is neither, being more a largely very pleasant day out on the Bluebell Railway, or some other heritage steam engine, lovingly restored and managed by amateur enthusiasts. They say it is all the future of prog, an odd way to look at a style strictly embedded in the past, but actually, I would go further back still. Whilst clearly a nod to folk traditions, I see this as entirely classifiable within the admittedly broad church of folk. Prog, as a label, may diminish it’s appeal, putting off those, like me, who remember how we looked and behaved when in the thrall of that musics heyday. (Have you looked at any photos of yourself from the early 70s recently?) This is a folk album, albeit in the style and spirit, if not sound, of Jethro Tull when they/he were waxing all bucolic about things wooden. The band would be a shoo-in for any » Continue Reading.
Come you, remember the drill, crank up your player of choice and reveal the first 5 out of the speakers. Name, player and, if you can be arsed, why you have it or some sort of explanation/excuse. Like this: 1. Fortunate Son: Todd Snider from Peace Queer. Not the CCR song, quite a reasonable subdued acoustic shuffle, just guitar, voice, harmonica and backing vocal in the chorus. Must listen again to the whole LP. 2. Your Word: Eleanor Friedberger from New View. Very Aimee Mann-ish song from one of last years AW faves. One of the few actual standout tracks, the whole palling after a few listens. 3. Bitch: Herbie Mann from Satisfaction, Covers and Cookies from the Stones. OK, I was going through a covers completist phase, but it isn’t too bad. I quite like Herbie Mann. Not enough flute in music nowadays. 4. Newmarket Polkas: Patrick Street from Best of Patrick Street. Irish jiggery-folkery, and it’s a band not a person, named after a street in, probably, Dublin. Andy Irvine was a member if I recall. 5. Caroline: Status Quo single. Proves I didn’t cheat. I was young once, you know….. Still sounds OK to me.
It seems that HMS Afterword is hitting some turbulence and the lifeboats have been launched. So the political threads have frightened the horses…. No change there, they have always harboured inflammatory remarks and unpleasantnesses. BREMAIN/BREXIT was always going to have the full quotient of invective and, unlike the result, did not disappoint. But like old men in macs shouting in deserted bus stations, why should a music lovers site have to fold because of that volume? The Fall would be a popular band were that the case. Remember all those songs in Gangles REMAIN list? Think of them as songs for the AW(shucks)REMAIN movement. Why should we lose 2 things many of us love in one week?