I can’t help thinking that the BBC is trying to ensure they keep someone they regard as a star performer rather than appoint the best candidate. To me Fiona Bruce is a bit of a lightweight. This is nothing against female presenters; any of Martha Kearney, Kirsty Wark, Sarah Montague or Emily Maitlis, among prominent BBC female staff could do a great job. Emily Maitlis especially seems to have the steel and nerve for the job, given her no punches pulled interview with David Cameron’s former advisor Steve Hilton on last Wednesday’s Newsnight. The only male I could think of as a suitable candidate was Jim Naughtie, who has demonstrated over the years that he has all the credentials. But that’s all academic. We’ll see how FB does in the QT bear pit. I wish her well, nonetheless.
Given that @Lodestone of Wrongness has volunteered to produce a chart for best new albums of 2018, I will volunteer to run a poll on the best rereleases of 2018. I’ll limit submissions to five albums. I will similarly award points in descending order with your first choice scoring 5 down to 1 for the fifth.
The Scala, King’s Cross, London
One of the preconditions for a great gig is that the artist/band are actually enjoying themselves on stage. Israel Nash was having absolute blast.
This was the final night of their European tour, which may have given a supplementary boost to proceedings as Israel and his band didn’t have to save anything for tomorrow. Against that friends in Holland saw him Nijmegen a couple of weeks ago and they reported he was brilliant there too, so maybe he’s giving his all every night.
This was my gig of the year. I’ve seen some top-notch gigs in recent weeks, (Kacey Musgraves, Bruce Cockburn, Over The Rhine) but much as I enjoyed them, they lacked was the joy, exuberance, ecstasy and intensity of this gig.
Whatever, Israel was over to promote his last album, the excellent Lifted and most of the set was focussed on songs from that, but there was plenty from earlier albums too.
The band was smokin’ hot and for people who like guitar duels (that’s people like me) Israel and lead guitarist Joey McLellan had a couple of really storming battles over the evening. I should also acknowledge the » Continue Reading.
I’ve been listening to the magnificent Chris Wood box set Evening Blue, which covers Chris’s career including, naturally, Traffic, unreleased solo work and sessions he did for various bands and artists, some well known (Free, John Martyn and Nick Drake) and others not so well known. One of the lesser known artists is someone called Gordon Jackson. Not the actor from Upstairs Downstairs, The Professionals and The Great Escape (the dumb ass, falling for “the oldest trick in the book”) but a guy who was apparently well regarded in the Midlands’ music scene at the end of the 60s. Until listening to this collection I’d never heard of him before (or if I had, I’d totally forgotten about him). He seems to have produced one album only Thinking Back, and then disappeared. There are three tracks on Evening Blue which feature all of Traffic. Other musicians involved were Jim King and Pole Palmer of Family and Julie Driscoll. It’s all very much of its time, but I rather like the tracks I’ve heard. I’ve posted a link to Song For Freedom. He was still living a couple of years ago, because there is a YouTube film of hm talking about » Continue Reading.
The Green Note, Camden, London
This gig redefined what a tight band is. The Honeycutters are without doubt musically a very tight unit, but the meaning was squared at The Green Note as they performed on a stage that tends to look crowded when there is an acoustic duo playing, never mind a five piece band. Just fitting a drum kit, pedal steel and a keyboard on to it was a logistical nightmare, squeezing the musicians to play them plus a bassist and Amanda on there was a minor miracle.
This was my first time seeing Amanda and her band live. I discovered her music last year just a couple of weeks after she had played here, I was somewhat downhearted to find out.
Given that my favourite album of 2017 was the eponymous Amanda Ann Platt & The Honeycutters and also given my disappointment with last year’s near miss of the opportunity to catch them live, this gig was long anticipated and my expectations were pretty high.
So overcrowded stage notwithstanding, this was a night that left me, my wife and the audience grinning form ear to ear come the final encore.
The first half » Continue Reading.
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