We don’t often hear people covering Pentangle soings, do we? Here’s their near-hit in three time signatures given a spring clean by a woman from, I’m guessing, the Netherlands.
Here’s a song from a recording I have – I can’t recall if I made it myself or asked the sound man to record it for me – from a show at the characterful Rotterdam Bar in Belfast, November 1992.
In the period before his ‘comeback’ album ‘When the Circus Comes to Town’ (1995) and all the celebrity endorsements, Bert was touring small bars around Ireland and half-filled arts centres elsewhere. He had begun this comeback trail, if you want to look at it in that way, by touring as a duo with Rod Clements in 1988-89, then with Peter Kirtley in the early 90s, and sometimes as a duo in that same period with his long-time Pentangle stalwart Jacqui McShee.
Both Rod and Peter were in the part-time Pentangle,in turn, during the late 80s/early 90s, with the band making its last album (the underappreciated ‘One More Road’) in 1994, bar a less compelling ‘Live 1994’ the following year.
The Bert & Peter duo had great moments – Peter was a real seat-of-the-pants player, exciting to watch and hear. He probably still is. On the 1992 Irish pub tour they played this song of Bert’s, ‘O’er the Lonely » Continue Reading.
Here’s a glimpse from a day of digitising off-air Bert Jansch recordings in my collection. It seems appropriate to the moment (in Britain) – obviously, as Locust will confirm, Stockholm is under six feet of snow with howling winds, bears and marauding trolls 365 days a year 🙂
Rod Clements created a duo with Bert for a couple of years in the late 80s, at a time when Bert’s career was in its nadir. The album they made, ‘Leather Launderette’, for a small North-East label, Black Crow, remains under-rated and is probably unique in Bert’s canon in being unavailable on CD (ownership complicated).
Assuming the ‘Bert Jansch at the BBC’ project I mentioned elsewhere comes to fruition, that hole in Bert’s musical story will be partly addressed through two Radio 2 sessions, both from May 1988, representing between them six songs from the album, a Woody Guthrie cover they did for a tribute LP on the same label, and three classics from Bert’s past – of which ‘The Snows’ is one. This version comes from ‘Night Ride’, from the days when Radio 2 was MOR and cosy, but veteran artists like Bert could still sneak on with a » Continue Reading.
I’ve been asked by Earth Records to curate a Bert Jansch BBC (audio) box set, likely to be 4 discs, the great majority of which will contain master-quality audio direct from the BBC or individual producers It’s very early days indeed but I’m sticking this notice up to get the word out to anyone who might have anything recorded off-air, for bonus tracks. People may be unaware that they recorded something in the 70s or 80s that no longer otherwise exists.
I’ve got several things myself in this category, the earliest being a couple of tracks from a duo Night Ride session in 1968 that are uncirculated, plus bits from the 80s and 90s and from regional BBC stations that will almost certainly not be extant at source.
Some years back, essentially pre-internet, I was amazed and delighted at a word-of-mouth appeal for material towards a Duffy Power BBC set on Hux – a lot of master-quality and off-air goodies were acquired, enough for us to be selective with the finished content. Perhaps something similar will happen here?
I feel sure that somebody out there will have taped Bert’s 1973 ‘Sounds of the 70s’ session, or a couple of » Continue Reading.
The Bert Jansch Foundation, a charitable trust, is sending four guitars around the world for Bert Jansch enthusiasts to run events and/or film performances to keep his music alive. My associate Steve McCann ran a public event last weekend in Belfast at the Black Box café, which he invited me to play at. The invitation resulted in a new song and it seemed I might as well go the whole hog and film it for the Foundation’s online collection. I added ‘Blues For a Green Earth’, an instrumental I recorded with Bert in 2004.
Big thanks to the award-winning Mark Case for filming this, and to Lamppost Café legends Mary Armstrong and Victoria Armstrong-Corbett for staying late letting us film in their fabulous first-floor room. No coffee (regrettably) was consumed in the making of this video. I’m sure we can make up for that in the fullness of time.
I discovered I had an inherited reel to reel tape of a BBC Radio Ulster broadcast from (I’m guessing) 1978, which I doubt is in the BBC archive. I’ve just digitised it. Think of it as a podcast. It’s a fascinating half-hour.
Interviewees include John Peel, Dave Robinson (Stiff), Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), Terri Hooley (Good Vibes), Cliff Moore (It Records), various Outcasts, Rudi, Undertones members… and someone from the Dougie Briggs Band, who appear to have occupied a space in the NI ecosystem similar to Eddie & the Hot Rods in London (between pub rock and punk) and, unless I’m mistaken, are now forgotten. Similarly, I believe the presenter here is Mike Kerr – purveyor of a very specific kind of ‘BBC Northern Ireland’ plumminess of voice particular to the 70s and 80s – who is also, as far as I’m aware, a forgotten figure.
Aberdeenshire Council fails to spot phoney stonies. In other news, a spokesman for Historic England has said new evidence suggests Mick Jagger dates dates back to 6,5000 BC. ‘The primitive nature of his music was the deciding factor,’ said Dr Haile Bogus, on his way to putting his collection of Jagger artefacts on eBay…
I’m thinking of flying over to see JM at the Barbican in April. I’ve never been there before – can anyone recommend which seating area I should book (stalls, circle, balcony)?
Here’s the fellow on his farewell USA tour in late 2017. After a load of burbling, the sublime ‘Lila’s Dance’ begins at 5:30:
Sometimes these days I write long essays in reissue/archive CD booklets, but more often (not least because it’s easier) I get involved in the background of such projects – putting audio source holders in touch with appropriate labels, recommending other (better) people to do the notes, digitising audio if required, rummaging around for period adverts to scan for the booklet from my vintage magazine collection, etc.
I was delighted to do all of the above for a terrific release coming up next month on the Turtle imprint (part of the Cherry Red group): ‘Honesty: The Unreleased 1963 Studio Session’, a 2CD set and the very first album ever by the Fat John Sextet.
The release came about, really, via Facebook. I’m a member of an FB group that celebrates 1950s–70s British jazz and among its other members are a couple of fabulous musicians who passed through the ranks of Fat John’s band back in the day (versions of the band spanned 1962–66). I posted something there about Fat John, being one of those names that crops up relatively frequently when scouring period copies of the ‘Melody Maker’ for other research purposes, yet who left little trace on record (just » Continue Reading.
The Sunflower Bar, Belfast
I had a few friends in the crowd and doubtless Petesy had many, many more there. Certainly, the room seemed to be awash with ‘old punks’ – ‘Trouble Songs’ author Stuart Bailie, Rudi mainman Brian Young and various other characters from Kyle Leitch’s days as the guv’nor at Caroline Records, Anne Street. The bonhomie was terrific. I was wearing a Mahavishnu Orchestra T-shirt – I was the guy the punk wars were fought over – and nobody punched me on the nose. That can only be a good thing. We sorted out that old Harp Bar/Pound Club antipathy last night. Now we just need to sort out Stormont.
It made me think..
The musical connections, camaraderie, positive energy and good vibes (no pun intended) apparent in all these adventures thus far can only lead to more great things down the line.
The Black Box, Belfast
There’s a saying where I live: ‘Dublin never got into punk, Belfast never got out of it.’ Certainly, Belfast was one of the epicentres of punk in the 1970s worldwide, and a very distinctive brand of punk flourished here. Punks in Britain liked to posture about being underdogs – but *everything* about Northern Ireland – socially, culturally, politically, geographically, employment-wise – was beneath the underdog at that point. To an extent, it still is. Sham 69 could nudge the kids into being united, Belfast punks could rage about the adults being disunited. And if you look at Stormont – a regional assembly that hasn’t functioned for two years – they’re still disunited.
I was at secondary school (well, okay, grammar school) from 1979–86, so while I saw the odd punk act on ‘Top of the Pops’, and while one or two people in my year had ‘punk’s not dead’ type slogans written on pencil cases, it wasn’t part of my lived experience; it already history. So, I never saw any punk bands in the 70s. I popped my head through the door of a venue hosting Stiff Little Fingers in the late » Continue Reading.
I was tickled to find out from this news story about the Geordie influence in the Chinese telecoms scene. HUAWEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII YABOOGAMAN!
A shower of corporate villains who want to build shiny crap in the middle of Belfast have hired NI actor James Dornan to lend his silky voice to a rather creepy propaganda film claiming ‘We are Tribeka’. The irony that Dornan generally plays manipulative villains must have escaped them.
My friend Conor Shields, who runs a community arts charity in the area they want to bludgeon, has responded with a blisteringly powerful poem of his own. Over 30,000 FB views in 24 hours.
It seems we are NOT Tribeka – or Chewbacca or Buildcrappa or anything else. Presumptuous scumbags.
Here is Dornan’s video, with Conor’s in the comments.
Regular Afterworders will know I’m a huge fan of smiley, deep-voiced troubadour Sarah McQuaid – who combines Chicago, Spanish, Irish and, some say, Polish ancestry with living a couple of miles from Land’s End.
Barring John O’Groats, it’s hard to imagine anywhere on mainland Great Britain less conducive to being a starting point for international touring. Nevertheless, McQuaid manages to create epic touring schedules, accompanied by trusty driver/sound engineering wizard/minder/manager Martin Sainsbury.
Her current three-month, 62-show international tour winds up this week. It’s incredible to me that anyone can pull such tours together on a one-person cottage industry basis. Hats’ off to her!
With some people, one can admire the effort but not be keen on the artistry. Luckily, I find Sarah’s artistry at least the equal of her industry!
Tonight, she’ll be at the old fire station in Carlisle, Thursday at Rothbury Roots in Northumberland, Friday at Armandaleg Music in the Old Baptist Chapel (John Moore Museum) in Tewkesbury, Saturday at South Devon Music in the Dolphin Hotel, Bovey Tracey, and Sunday at Old Bakery Studios in Truro, Cornwall.
Then I presume she goes home and hibernates for a week before creating similar epic tours for next year.
No, not by me – by the legendary John Kelman at All About Jazz. It’s wonderfully detailed and perceptive. If you have a spare hour, put on one of Jan’s albums and read all 20 pages of John’s analysis…
This 20-minute prog epic from 1972 might get you halfway:
I have an interest in the Northern Ireland MLA pay scandal, as anyone who has viewed ‘Smash the System’ – my recent futile gesture mixing wit, vitriol and old punks lambasting an empty Stormont – will know.
I was baffled to see it reported (in several national papers) this week that NI Secretary of State Karen Bradley told the NI Affairs Committee that the current bill for MLA pay since Stormont collapsed in January 2017 is ‘£8.5 million’.
On July 4 2018 (4 months ago) she told the same committee the then-current bill was ‘£9 million’ – again, widely reported.
MLA pay scales are publicly available here: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk
Using this resource, one finds the current total to be £9.87 million (factoring in the minor pay cut from November 1 but not including increments of £12,000 p.a. per MLA given for chairing committees – this information being unavailable).
If, however, we take Karen’s ‘£9 million’ figure from July to have been accurate, then the current MLA salary bill is over £10.63 million. Further to this, combining published data and extrapolation, the current MLA expenses bill for the period of inactivity is c.£11.77 million – and that aspect is a » Continue Reading.
The ‘other side’ of the ‘Smash the System’ single – on iTunes etc. on 16 November – this is the first studio recording by ARSE and was filmed at over a dozen locations in Belfast last week (and a bit of the chaps in the studio a month ago).
Petesy has rewritten the Monkees’ classic as a commentary on punk revisionism – people with blogozines who weren’t there and so forth. And yes, the word ‘blogozine’ appears therein!
Here’s what the Petesmeister says on the matter:
‘Punk history belongs to us all. It is a history of individualism and the sense that WE have the power and when WE use that power WE can create a better world. It is not the history of the opportunist or the narcissist, although they do figure in it.
‘It is not the history of the Hollywood-style hero making a stand, changing the world and leaving the meek to bow and scrape in their wake. If you lived it you were as big a part of it as anyone else and don’t be told any different. Our contribution doesn’t seek to attack individuals but it does seek to attack the notion that we » Continue Reading.
The always excellent Sarah McQuaid is currently touring Britain. A string of dates over the next three weeks or so, with Surbiton tomorrow. Highly recommended!
I mentioned this in a post a couple of days ago. Here it is. Context in the blurb at beginning and end…
Debuting online this Wednesday, November 7, at 9.30am – the video for ‘Smash the System’ by Colin Harper’s Bourgeois Fury featuring Petesy Burns. A double A-side with ‘Steppin’ Stone’ by Petesy Burns’ ARSE, both recorded in one fabulous sessions three weeks ago.
The pitch in one line: Bourgeois East Belfast author and academic joins together with legendary North Belfast punk/anarchist to tell Northern Ireland Assembly Members (MLAs) ‘do the bloody jobs we’re paying you for’.
In the past 20 months these 90 workshy, posturing, amoral disgraces have trousered £10.25 million in salaries and estimated £11.77 million in expenses. They haven’t attended their workplace once. Time to start shouting about it, if nothing else.
Bert Jansch: Around the world in 80 plays A worldwide journey for Bert Jansch To launch on Bert’s 75 birthday, 3 November 2018 Supporting the Bert Jansch Foundation (BJF)
Bert Jansch would have been 75 on 3 November 2018. Although he has been gone for seven years, his music and spirit are ever-present. Today, some of his closest friends and collaborators begin a world-wide musical odyssey in his honour.
Johnny Marr has kicked off this voyage called ‘Around the world in 80 plays’, in which a TransAcoustic guitar, the latest version of Bert’s favoured Yamaha L series, will be sent from artist to artist across the globe to play and say something special for Bert. Each artist then chooses the next recipient, anywhere in the world, for the next stopover on the journey.
Johnny has passed the TransAcoustic in turn to Bernard Butler who also collaborated with Bert. Bernard is sending the guitar to the extraordinarily talented guitarist and songwriter, Anna Calvi. Graham Coxon and Beth Orton have also had this guitar in their hands for their contribution to this odyssey.
All the contributions will be showcased on a dedicated section of the BJF website https://80plays.bertjanschfoundation.org/ where » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Jules Maxwell is an enigma – a quixotic, intriguing, gentle, mischievous, profound and brilliant (and wryly hilarious) man who has made a quietly successful career by doing the polar opposite of self-promotion and perhaps sometimes making things rather more awkward for himself than they might be (an impenetrable website comes to mind). But first some context…
The 1990s in Belfast, musically, seem like a golden age of sorts. Maybe scenes always do when you were in the middle of them. From 1994 to early 2001 (though the last couple of years were detached, as I was focusing on a biography), I was writing for a regional newspaper in Northern Ireland about local musicians and organised a couple of mid-90s multi-artist live CDs designed to show off the abundance of talent.
A handful of the people involved in that scene went on to have ongoing careers – traditional songbird Cara Dillon, future Ivor Novello nominee Iain Archer (co-writer to the stars), his brother Paul Archer (whose new album with East Anglia-based Burning Codes, ‘Liberator’, is storming), soul man and future Ed Sheeran protégé Foy Vance, prolific troubadour Brian Houston (who popped by » Continue Reading.
Many people in the Northern Ireland music scene know Big Bill Campbell as a gentle giant – a superb jazz guitar player, string arranger for poetry projects and occasional rock/soul band sideman at the un-lime-lit back of the stage and also a very humble, soft-spoken fellow who never pushes himself forward. The latter reason is why many others on the current NI music scene – people who are more prominent in terms of getting publicity and opportunities – have probably never heard of him.
Well, I hope we’ll all hear much more of Bill in due course. He’s just posted a totally unexpected progressive-rock epic, a foretaste of an album-in-progress, I believe, and even those close to him have eyebrows raised in shock and awe.
Bill sings (none of us knew…), plays guitar and keys, with ‘Grinning Phil’ Smith, another jazzer, on bass and drums. The song is Bill’s.
Bill lives in Bangor, on the Ards Penninsula, a Viking stronghold back in the day. I’ve no idea if that has anything to do with it.
I wonder what else he’ll write about? Hitherto, Northern Ireland’s only noteworthy contribution to prog-rock has been Fruupp, in the middle 70s.
Big Bill’s » Continue Reading.
Most people on the AW probably think Northern Ireland is a backward annoyance, and care little what goes on there. We who happen to live here are used to this. It’s a nice place but its politicians are a shower of b*****ds and the sooner the population outgrows the bigotry the better. Current Westminister arithmetic has possibly focused a bit more attention on NI politicians – or at least, on the creepiest, smuggest and most backward of the lot, the DUP.
DUP names have long been associated with the stench of corruption in NI – property deals and cosiness with guys who get to build on greenbelt land seems to be their thing – though only rarely is it proved. Mrs Robinson’s ludicrous brown-envelopes affair with a juvenile cafe owner was one exception – it ended her political career and helped to end double- or triple-jobbing (the same individuals being MPs, MEPs and sometimes also councillors, and being paid three times).
DUP politicians always seem to do very well in terms of maximum expenses and family members on the payroll.
Among these is Ian Paisley jnr. As if all this cash wasn’t enough, he was happy to take two luxury » Continue Reading.
Theres a fellow in the Netherlands, Vincent Lyons, who has a great ability to take film clips of performers that are well-constructed and help their music come alive. I daresay he has something better than a mobile telephone. Here’s his latest clip, which is a rare chance to see and hear Jan Akkerman jamming, three days ago, on a Southern rock groove – not dissimilar to the three chords of George Michael’s ‘Freedom’ – with the band of one Ralph de Jongh. Jan solos from 2:05 – and Vincent’s camera skills allow us to see how he spontaneously constructs a solo brimming with singular dialect of Akkerman despite the music/groove being a language he doesn’t normally speak. Brilliant…