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?
Day of the Dead arrived yesterday, so only now beginning to dip into it, CD1 containing the challenge of the bloody Mumfords, suddenly darlings of a latter-day americana, apropos their work along side Costello in the New Basement Tapes. That I wouldn’t listen to on principle, such is my prejudice against the ersatz removal men, my finger pausing over buy for this purchase too. So, any good? Damn their eu=yes, it is. Not brilliant. Not as good a cover as Lyle Lovett’s or Vassar Clements’, but better than Counting Crows or Rice, Rice, Pederson & Hillman. Nor as good as the original, but hey, only lyle’s hits that button. Soo, guardians of the cool, have the Mumfords broken through the shit curtain?
Catton Hall, near Alrewas
Day 1: Barely 15 minutes from my front door, I had the luxury of a leisurely lie-in ahead of being able to put my tent up and still be in the arena for midday. Traditionally the first couple of hours are for finding ones bearings, without anyone of much cop playing. 5 main stages, the Pallet, for the bigger bands, another in the woods, called the,um, Woodlands, for 2nd stringers, and then a hotch potch of marquees for dance, cabaret and such like. All easily accessible around a central fairground and all the usual outlets for festival food and clothing. First band for me were Roughneck Riot, one of the slew of shouty thrash/folk/punk bands, filling out their orthodox rhythm section with the now de rigeur accordions and banjos. A rousing start and another new to me, The King Blues, with energetic flashes of angry near rap from the dapper front man. Entertaining enough, but made me miss Attila the Stockbroker, one of many names from the past who showed up. I had always thought Reverend and the Makers would be shite and, do you know, I wasn’t wrong. Terrorvision couldn’t convince » Continue Reading.
I’m embroiled in Gomorrah, series 2, courtesy the praise levelled by other punters here, thanks, Nessie. The problem is my TV ate the end of episode 3, and it isn’t available yet to re-download. I’m guessing by some dialogue about “our friend the Spaniard” no longer being around that Don Salvatore has been topped. How? Who? Where? BTW, good, innit!
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
OK, OK, forgive the poor taste and the image, clearly Nick wasn’t there, but it is quite something that such a little respected talent, at least in his lifetime, can still half fill Symphony Hall with a tribute show of this calibre to such a reception. It’s true, I wasn’t that much a fan, don’t like his voice, too Fotherington-Thomas, but the Squeeze is, hence the tickets. And then she called off sick, so I was solo. But I finally ‘got’ ND, arguably thru’ the gift of covers (see Ganglesprockets covers thread nearby) but nonetheless I did. Presented by Joe Boyd himself, in person, ridiculously youthful. At, I don’t know, 103, he makes Cliff look positively middle-aged, this brought together a seasoned band of musicians, playing the Drake canon for a number of years, with a bevy of singers, some old, some new. The band, string section, 2 guitars, double bass, piano, drums and the multi-tasking Kate St John on oboe, sax, accordion and vocals.Danny Thompson was off sick, his nominated dep being Joe Thorne, and, tho’ I wasn’t familiar, he played a blinder. Neil MacColl was the main guitarist, son of Ewan, » Continue Reading.
Warwick Arts centre, Coventry
First night of E.C.’s new european (de)tour, solo raconteur with songs. Supported again by the comely sisters of Larkin Poe, they opened proceedings with their cheerful country blues holler, 2 young women on electric guitars, what’s not to love? A sort of sameyness, I guess, as what is fabulous for a couple of songs can become a bit dull after a bit, albeit less so live than on record. A short gap and on bounds the entertainer, in the first of 4 pairs of specs, suspiciously like the ones from the cover of Trust. The sound engineer seemed to have kept the sound on swampy from the girls earlier, and it was hard at first to know whether the guitar was tuned in the wrong key or whether Elvis was singing flat, but a couple of songs in it was clear it was both. For an hour it was insufferable, all clanging strings and flatness, as he struggled thru’ songs that curdled my memory. Olivers Army was particularly awful and I, for one, wished I was anywhere but there right then. A move to piano helped, as the frailty of voice worked » Continue Reading.
Make it trivial, please.
As I drove into work this morning, casually enjoying the bombastic guff on the compilation “Cries From The Midnight Circus: Ladbroke Grove 1968-1973” when up came a track I hadn’t heard for probably 45 years, this absolute belter by Edgar Broughton band. This had been a staple in my 3 boy study in the 5th form, and I was amazed how my memory had retained the words and the leslie-ed guitar solo word and note for note. I don’t think I have ever listened to anything else, except their hit single, by the ADHMs*, dismissing them as frightening anarchists on the back of flatbed trucks, eternally supporting Hawkwind at free festivals. I now look to pointers as to what else by them I should be investigating. *Apache Dropout In passing, I am guessing I heard it originally on a sampler of its day. Which one, pop-pickers? (Or Johnny as we call him.)
Intriguing piece in yesterdays Guardian listings comic about this chap, calling him the maker of Pagam Music in Desecrated Churches, or some such memorable hyperbole. Is this typical? Worth exploring more? One for Poppy and Kid D, I somehow guess,
Royal Albert Hall
Now don’t get me wrong, it was a great show, it just wasn’t the show I was expecting. With the 20 year revision of Tiger Lily, Paradise is There, I was somehow expecting this to be a play through of the album live, as is currently de rigeur. And the stage set-up led me to believe the same, with keyboards, guitar, double bass and drums, with a string quartet alongside. When the first half consisted of songs from other albums, first night nerves causing her to fluff the start of ‘Maggie Said’ three times, this was fine, as I was able to confidently say what the second half would be. Once her stilted start wore off she gradually melted, loosening her hair and unleashing her fabled twirls, sort of Stevie Nicks meets Maddy Prior, uncertain whether more or less embarrassing than either, with several newer songs from 2014’s eponymous album, a staple in my car recently. The string quartet were divine, the rest of the band a tad anonymous, albeit accomplished, especially the bassist and guitarist. An interval led, again, to a song I wasn’t expecting before the familiar start to ‘Beloved Wife’. » Continue Reading.
Irrespective of the NotW type headline, surely there can be discussion around DJs we liked. Surely they weren’t all fumbling and a’furtling? I actually did like Fluff, with all his hideous tropes, phrases and repeated bursts of Wagner and ELP. His 3.30 show on weekdays was great for a spotty teen with an emerging taste in classically influenced prog, as he could always be relied on to squeeze some, well usually only always, ELP. Coke-honking (as he still likes to be known, I understand, having admitted it) Johnny Walker, I think, next took over that time slot, his love of americana and folk-rock seeping into the schedule, before his R1 saturday afternoon epic of indulging his own tastes, 2, maybe 3 hours of listening bliss. This later transferred to R2 before they sacked him. I did listen to Peel back then, after lights out, when he could be relied on to play stuff like the Albion Dance Band and Greenslade. And then, of course, it was Whistle Test, with Whispering Bob, and later the 2 old gits, with added andy Kershaw. When Bob and Kershaw transferred to the radio, they were worth a listen. The Anne Nightingale request show on » Continue Reading.
OK, so we knew it was real and all, but maybe not that real!! Well done our Colin!!
Brmingham O2 Institute
Small stage and a scruffy venue seemed somehow wrong for a performer with a catalogue as long and varied as Jacksons, but nonetheless, that’s where he was playing and where, delayed at work, I found, or was found by Mr (Steve) T of this site. Taller and ganglier than ever, Jackson lurched onstage shortly around 8, starting off as his own support, playing 4 of 5 songs alone at the electric piano, with an energetic It’s Different for Girls to kick things off. A couple of conventional mid period piano ballads followed, the lyrics for Be My Number 2 seeming from now a different era. (I guess it was.) But it was a masterstroke to cover Big Yellow taxi in a N’Awlins /Dr John style, which certainly delighted the 2 of us, and seemingly the rest of the hall. Another ballad was beginning to lull the raised atmosphere, when, mid song, a figure strode on, plugged in his bass, interrupting with the unmistakeable dum der-dum intro of Is She Really Going Out with Him, bringing the audience back to life. Drummer and guitarist strolled on, verse by verse, until the full band, and » Continue Reading.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Rollicking into Brum for the last night of his “new” 4 Seasons tour, Kennedy made the most of home turf, peppering his concert with references to Villa’s dire performance the day before, and to the Jasper Carrot helmed Boggery Folk Club in Solihull, where he had played a show with Stephane Grapelli some decades ago. The first half opened with the English Chamber Orchestra, string section and harpsichord, trooping on, followed by the additional musicians, making 13 in all, 2 acoustic guitars, a huge double bass and very rudimentary drums, basically a snare and a cymbal, followed by Kennedy’s shamble on, playing the opening stanzas to 4S on a mouth organ. All ill-fitting and unmatched jacket, trousers, trainers and T-shirt, lengthy introductions fed into 5 opening pieces in this first half. 4 of these were related, as being tribute pieces to Isaak Stern, the aforementioned Grapelli, a famous polish violinist whose name I can’t recall and probably couldn’t spell and, a surprise, to whom he called nashville’s finest fiddler, Mark O’Connor, getting at least one cheer from me, even if none of the pieces necessarily evoked the genres of the artist so celebrated. » Continue Reading.
O2 Academy, Birmingham
The 3rd of my what I still might call techno forays, even I knowing my terminology grates against the full live Massive Attack experience, which hardly categorises as trip-hop either, now so vast and orchestral is the bass-heavy swell of sound. The tour is to promote the new material, audio and visual, with a lot of new, interspersed with what you might call greatest hits, maybe volume 2, so all the anthemic forbodings from Mezzanine and Heligoland were there, little from the first 2 albums, bar a Karmacoma, greeted with cheers by the heaving hall. Singers included Martina Topley-Bird, who gave good credit to Teardrop and the theme from Luther, and good old Horace Andy, a little dreadlocked gnome alongside Daddy G, but in as fine vibrato as ever. A striking new voice was Azukiel, spelling uncertain, striking also in stature an appearance, a welcome new find for their sound. Less so for me were Young Fathers, who, as well as being support band, did 2 songs as the 1st round of encores, from the forthcoming new material. Maybe I am not their demographic, scarcely fitting the bill for a young grandfather these » Continue Reading.
Prompted by the Nice post, and reminded of that pointless waste of crumbs and sugar that always vies for last in the Xmas bumper biscuits selections folk think (ha!) will make nice (ha!) gifts for their Dr at this time of year, what is your least fave? I think we did best biscuits in the old old place, but surely the bottom of the Huntley and Palmer barrel needs opening, in all its stale majesty. I propose the custard cream, the slap in the face for anyone thinking a sandwich biscuit to be the treat beyond plain, vile mucus flavour paste between 2 pieces of sweetened formica.
Barclaycard Arena (? hell, it’s the bloody N.I.A. to me), Birmingham
Extraordinary, really, and not quite as expected. First time to the Indoor Arena without seats and it’s a corker, like a decent N.E.C., as droves of the Faithless faithful arrive, in all ages, sizes, shapes and forms, the atmosphere of a revivalist meeting. The arena so big and roof so high it feels like outside, with party coats laid out on the floor as support band ‘Until the Ribbon Breaks’, no me, neither, came on and did their stuff, a fascinating blend of electronica and beats fuelled folky-blues with occasional trumpet and lots of percussion, electronic and otherwise; largely well-received and one to hear their recorded stuff for clarity, I felt, the sound a bit muddy. Bang on 9 the lights go down, the floor fills and bank upon bank of lasers come up to, sorry, euphoria, the biggest cheers reserved for Maxi Jazz, diminutive and suited, a white T under the jacket. Bravely banging off with signature tune, ‘God is a DJ’, alternating between the quiet rappy bits as it builds inexorably to the chunky bits that sear the room with joy, this seemed » Continue Reading.
You know the sort of thing, blind spots, prejudice or just plain ignorance. Those artists who have fallen under your personal radar, for whatever reason. One of mine has been Steve Hillage, beany-headed guitar elf. (Does he still wear that, does he stil have a grin and wispy beard amidst a head of cascading waves?) Altho’ I aquired Sea Shanty, by Khan, in a brief dalliance with completing the canterbury scene, at this moment not recalling a bit of it, I am an accredited non-believer in the airy-“faerie” nonsense of Daevid Allen period Gong, thus always associating Hillage in that particular (hemp) bag. Recent idle browsing on the interweb led me to System 7, his more recent dance oriented groove, if you forgive my archaic daddio description of the genre, which I liked. Today had me listening to ‘Fish Rising’, his 40 year old solo album, and jolly good it is too. Reminded me of a better skilled Hawkwind, had they all been Canterbury based rather than Ladbroke Grove. (And I note a mispelt Hill(i)age is appearing with Hawkwing in December.) So, who have you belatedly caught up with? Or are there entire genres you pooh-poohed at the time, suddenly » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Absolutely bloody marvellous is how it sounds! Irrespective of the grumpy old sod he seems to have been, issuing rules about how ‘folk’ music should sound and be presented, he wrote some absolute corkers, and I don’t just mean the obvious one(s), ‘First Time Ever etc’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’, and, indeed, this alerted my ears to a huge body of work with which I was unfamiliar, largely put off by his portrayed persona. Curated, I believe, by his son, Neill, currently David Gray’s right hand man, this brings together as many of the great and good of, what, anglicana(?), to perform and interpret 2 discs worth of material. Catnip to me, and to many here too, the roll call is impressive, as I will show with the track listings below. Astonishingly, if I count grandson, Jamie, in his dayjob as a Bombay Bicycle Clubber, I have albums by each and every of the performers here, and would commend any of them in their own right. Even more astonishingly, many haven’t sounded this good for years and this could almost stand in it’s own right as a sampler of who is currently who. (Struggling » Continue Reading.
Steve T’s house, somewhere in the west midlands
Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, aka My Darling Clementine, each with long track records of credible music, produce canny and aware modern country (and, hell yes, western) which deserves better than the radar they meet, but, it’s 2015, this is how it is. And house concerts, huge in the states, are perhaps the sway forward. So, perhaps 35 or 40 of us meet for a party, and the band play. No microphones, acoustic guitar and vox humana, with occasional low amped electric piano. Actually, man from boy stuff, as Mike and Lou blew off the roof, showing for real the skill and expertise built on the back of natural talent. 10,000 hours of experience, playing a mix of songs from their 2 LPs and the recent roadshow with crime-writer Mark Billingham. With never a song ever having a thing good to say about that crazy little thing called love, they bickered delightfully through songs of distress and dismay. Adding an occasional cover from Hank Williams, Jackie Leven and Costello, E, via George Jones, OK, ‘Good Year for the Roses’, written by neither, split into 2 sets, this » Continue Reading.
Tee hee, if we all reply to niscum here instead of there…………