A splendid half hour with the Great Man 🙂
Are you the one?
I was lunching with two of Horslips – originators of Celtic rock – yesterday and much badinage was exchanged, with the conversation turning to things ‘that Donovan invented’ (i.e. things he didn’t). ‘Obviously, he invented Celtic rock,’ I said, to chortles all round. And then I vaguely remembered something. ‘Hang on… y’know, I think he *did’ record a track called ‘Celtic Rock’… Jim locked it up on his gadget – sure enough, in 1970, a year before Horslips began, Donovan recorded ‘Celtic Rock’. Gobsmackery all round. Situations in which one realises that, yes, the Don *really did* invent something must be rare indeed! 😀
What does it sound like?:
What does it all *mean*?
It means that I now know the song titles.
Goes well with…
Headphones and whisky, I’d imagine.
Might suit people who like…
The Beatles, Lloyd Cole, Neil Young, Bread, Glen Campbell, the Icicle Works…
I’ve posted hereabouts before on the psychedelic pop splendour of ethereal Belfast/Bristol personality Francis Kane O’Kane, with his current collective OTHERISH. Between 1988-95, he was the main man in Bristol psych-popsters ME – who are, in July, anthologised with ‘Crows Nightingales SHOCK (Best of Me 1991-95) by Bristol Archive Records.
Here is the Bandcamp blurb:
On 16th July 2021 Bristol Archive Records are releasing “Crows Nightingales SHOCK (Best of Me 1991-1995)”. This will be the first UK-released collection drawn from the many records put out in the early ‘90s by Bristol-based Anglo-Irish troubadours Me. With Me cited by NME at the time as “effortlessly the best band in Bristol”, this new selection of the band’s best work showcases the very distinctive sounds of the widely praised but often misunderstood Anglo-Irish pop-visionaries.
With four gifted songwriters onboard, Me’s songs were always bound to be insightful, wilful, hook-laden, bathed in soaring pop-sensibility and propelled upwards by tightly ecstatic vocal harmonies. Championed in their day (1988-1996) by the likes of John Peel, Mark Radcliffe and even Bob Harris, Me toured widely – USA, France, Czechia & UK – while putting out two richly varied double-albums and a handful of diverse and distinctive » Continue Reading.
Looking at BBC News site pics of todays internal election of a new DUP leader (28 voters, I think), I came to the ghastly awareness that the DUP HQ is literally a few hundred yards from my home – a drab building on a street corner that I assumed was a constituency office.
Up for election are Edwin Poots and Geoffrey Donaldson. There is no known problem to which Edwin Poots – a man who believes the world is 6,000 tears old – is the solution. There is only one problem to which Geoffrey Donaldson is the solution: Edwin Poots.
Outgoing DUP supremo Arlene Foster – the woman who personally presided over the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money with an insane heating scheme (it was either corrupt or monumentally stupid) – will apparently sever her links with the party once she leaves office.
All political careers end in failure.
Anyway, it sent me off to Spotify for an immediate injection of ‘Northern Ireland Politicians’ and ‘Smash the System’. It’s the first time I’ve used Spotify. Someone here, at the AW, brought up the topic of the current digital availability of something else » Continue Reading.
July 16, it seems:
Colin H on Horslips
I knew I had a VHS edit *somewhere* of a concert film I made in 1990, and yesterday it turned up. Which is just as well, because I found the umatic masters of the full show two weeks back and had them professionally transferred… to receive only about 20 minutes’ worth of heavily degraded fragments of footage. Strange. The VHS edit, though, looks fine.
It’s a film of Horslips (1972-80) member Johnny Fean fronting effectively his own tribute band – at that time, quite a novel idea – the Spirit of Horslips, playing at my alma mater, Queen’s University Belfast. I’d left the place the previous year but sneaked back with some hired gear and a few friends manning it – three cameras, someone on sound, me on live vision mixing with headset communications between all involved. I think I was unemployed at the time, but cobbled the necessary couple of hundred quid together. After all, it might be legendary.
It was seat of the pants stuff, but great fun. One of the funniest moments was the next day, picking up the gear to return it. Walking through the Students’ Union, I’d mentioned to a » Continue Reading.
A heads up – Tim Ayres profiles the Bert Jansch Conundrum (1977-81), with bassist Nigel Portman Smith contributing:
Sub-titled ‘How 35 years of John Peel helped to shape modern life’, this book was published in 2015. I read it at the time and corresponded briefly with the author, having felt moved to tell him how much I appreciated – as someone who has written research-heavy books myself – the sheer amount of work involved (which may not be apparent to many readers, so light was his touch as a writer) in it, and the subtle qualities of the end product.
What David did was cherry-pick / randomly sample (there was an element of both, I think) over 250 radio shows fronted by Peel spanning 1967 (the last days of ‘The Perfumed Garden’ on pirate radio) to 2003 (the last days of Peel). His sources included tapes of broadcasts (with comments by Peel on the state of the world, his health, his views on this or that artist peppering the text), ‘Programme as Broadcast’ files kept on microfiche at BBC Written Records (showing exactly what was played and when), period interviews with Peel and a few of the artists he championed at various times (all used sparingly) and extracts from general news stories of the day » Continue Reading.
The Last Gig Before The Apocalypse – a fantastic charity night at the Pavilion, Belfast, with the Brian Houston Power Trio, the Holsteins (reunion), One More Great Adventure (a new venture by Maghera legends James Devlin and his crew) and Dave McLarnon’s Hat Band – a one-off grouping of local legends featuring Dave McLarnon (Shock Treatment, Peacefrog), Billy Shovel (Ghost of an American Airman), Norman Boyd (Stonefish), Ali MacKenzie (Bush Turkeys, Mighty Mojos, etc.), Petesy Burns (Stalag 17, Outcasts, Petesy Burns’ Arse,. etc.).
Five Ulster rock classics by Peacefrog, The Adventures, Energy Orchard, Rudi and Them. Let’s rock!
This appeared on YouTube today – a fantastic raggle-taggle version of something from Bert Jansch’s little-known country-rock period in 1974 from a shower of fellows straight out of a Coen Brothers hillbilly film. Get down!
My good pal ‘Uncle Spike’ has an entrepreneurial offspring called Dave, who’s doing a degree in event management (I know, I know…). Still, we are where we are.
Dave’s dissertation involves a survey about the reopening of music festivals after Covid. The more responses he gets the better. If you’re interested, have a look.
Long version: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdIQye0W7eT9rPamWvoJT3PTqWuFlwwKYUQEajZSrbnyyIcrQ/viewform
Short version: https://tinyurl.com/1psctkbe
A public service upload. Might contain Van talking about arranbee…
Colin H on Rick Laird, Brian Auger, Glenn Hughes, John McLaughlin
The recent news that Rick Laird is seriously ill has prompted me to share some of the content from ‘Bathed in Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond’ (2014) – adapted with a little bit of new research, among which is this terrific photo / news item from ‘The Stage’ on 9 January 1964. Rick very kindly talked to me for the book about a time long before he and John McLaughlin renewed their acquaintance in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, when they were both in the Brian Auger Quintet for a residency at London’s Pigalle nightclub and also a short-lived trio.
Baritone saxophonist Glenn Hughes was common to both groups. Glenn and John had previously played together in Georgie Fame’s (pre-fame) Blues Flames in 1962–63 and in the Tony Meehan Combo (October 1963 – January 1964). John and Glenn would have a last musical hurrah together with a version of Brian’s quintet in August 1964, reassembled for a German residency. By that point, Rick had moved on to become house bassist at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, backing a series of American headliners at the club and on TV. » Continue Reading.
I don’t know how I’ve not seen this before now – terrific webcast film of Horslips recording a radio session for RTÉ’s ‘Miriam Meets’ show in 2012. All four numbers were caught by the roving verité man, but the sound engineer is the real star – it’s sensational recorded sound to my ears: crisp, clear and still blistering.
Horslips (1971-80) reunited as an occasional entity in 2004. Since then, they’ve recorded only one studio album (‘Roll Back’ in 2004 – a quietly fabulous re-arranging of past works for a sort of unplugged format – much better than simple acoustic strumalongs of old hits) along with two live albums, one electric band the other electric band + orchestra. This session feels close to an electric band *studio* recording – a controlled environment, perfect sound, no need for anyone to be leaping around.
No, not another Brexit thread – a load of radio tracks recorded by Johnny Renbo’s short-lived late 80s band. I digitised these yesterday and recorded two of the three items, from ‘Folk on Two’. I’m thinking somebody else must have sat up to 2am or thereabouts to get the ‘Nightride’ session, or at least some of it (one or two tracks per night over the course of a week in a 12 midnight till 3am show, comprising inane upbeat chat from posh-sounding presenters with Mantovani and 60s/70s folk-rockers on the comeback trail (lots of the Renbourn generation recorded for ‘Nightride’ in the 80s – I recall hearing an incongruously blistering Strawbs session one night while unable to sleep; it probably didn’t help).
The excellent Simon Spillett – jazz saxophonist, incredibly prolific and compelling writer of substantial CD booklets, generally around British jazz of the 1950s-70s, and author of the superb Tubby Hayes biography ‘The Long Shadow of the Little Giant’ – has just launched a blog.
Over the past few months, since joining Facebook, he has used it largely as a blog, posting wonderful essays about aspects of jazz history and its people. For various reasons, he has come to more fully embrace writing and ‘being a writer’ recently. In my view, that’s great news – because he’s one of the best, and the latest in a distinguished history of British jazz musicians being equally adept as essayists and long-form writers. Humphrey Lyttelton, George Melly and Dave Gelly are three others that come immediately to mind – though George was, I think, a significantly better writer than musician, per se 🙂
I hope Simon will transfer some of his long-form Facebook essays (some presented there in two or three instalments) on to the new available-to-all blog. Certainly, he will be posting new material there regularly. I take my hat off to him!
Last year, Covid was Buryan’ Sarah McQuaid’s career. She flipped that portent of doom over and ingeniously decided that, instead, her career was Buryan – St Buryan, the cloistered building thereto in the village down the road (just before the road runs out at Land’s End).
Sarah raised some cash from crowdfunding towards a live album and DVD / series of song films – filmed and recorded in rules-compliant conditions at the church. The first sample has just premiered online. Sarah still needs some cash to finish the DVD editing end of things. If you can help her, please do. If you can’t, just enjoy the music. It won’t necessarily cheer you up but it might reflect some muddling-through hopefulness. Any port in a storm…
Martin Williamson has had something to do with the Furs and his latest project certainly wears that influence on its sleeve – the Auld Gods. Also featuring Belfast punk legend Dave McLarnon. Out now!
I stumbled on this Altan video of the trad ‘Month of January’, from January 2019. I’m stunned it has had only 420 views in all that time. Let’s give it a few more.
One consequence of lockdown is that singer Mairead has mused on social media about whether she wants to return to the life of a musical troubadour once it’s over. She’s certainly served her time. Altan have been on the road since roughly 1990, peaking perhaps (in commercial terms) in the mid to late 90s. I saw them often in Belfast and Dublin and Donegal then – they were truly exhilarating – but lost touch with their music after the 90s. I saw Mairead at an awards do in Belfast two years ago and she shouted a breezy ‘hello!’ as she dashed across the room to another crowd of well-wishers and revellers. Whatever she chooses to do next, I wish her well. 🙂