This might raise a smile if you have twelve minutes to spare.
What does it sound like?:
I do love The Unthanks. I saw them on many occasions with the ten piece band, various times with smaller outfits, once with a full orchestra for backing and then, last spring at Union Chapel in Islington, I saw Rachel Unthank, Becky Unthank and Niopha Keegan still the very air around us and hold the lucky several hundred present with nothing but their unaccompanied voices and not even a clog dance to add percussion.
That Union Chapel show is one of several from the Unaccompanied As We Are tour which has contributed performances on this latest addition to the Unthanks’ Diversions albums series. Previous Diversions releases have gathered songs by theme or songwriter, but this collection is grouped by style, songs in the style in which Rachel Becky started performing in Northumberland folk clubs. It is utterly lovely.
In the years before this tour there was a danger that The Unthanks could turn into the Adrian McNally band. Adrian, musical arranger and former Mr Rachel Unthank, creates brilliant music culminating in Mount the Air, for me one of the very best albums so far this century, but his influence began to overshadow the pure » Continue Reading.
The name may cause a few seconds of head scratching before I say, ‘the guy who drew Asterix’. How I loved those books when I was a kid. No trip to the library was complete without looking for one I hadn’t read at last ten times before. If there was not one the Tintin would do, but I found him too clean cut (though more likely the Herge books were too sophisticated for me), but my heart belonged to Asterix and the other Gauls.
Those who give us joy in childhood keep a special place in our hearts. Writer René Goscinny, along with the translators into English, deserves equal credit for the books’ success but it was the vivid colours and dynamic force of Uderzo’s illustrations which made the first and most lasting impression on me. As we have a little down time at the moment I shall see if I can dig some Asterix books out to revisits and raise a glass to him.
I’m still on leave this week bu will be WFH from Monday for the foreseeable. My usual attempts at fitness are the two mile walk to and from work each day (which will now be unnecessary) and a weekly boxercise class (understandably cancelled for the time being). I’ll still make sure I get a walk in as long as possible, but does anyone have recommendations for fitness videos, ideally free to steam on Youtube or similar?
My profile is that I’m early 50s, err on the side of heft, and am reasonably healthy aside from a tendency to knee trouble. I’m just getting over a ligament strain at the moment. I have limited space but could clear a couple of metres spare in the living room and have a few small hand weights, up to 5kg.
Don’t be limited by the above of course. If you follow anything that works for you please share it here with a brief description.
I was 12 in February 1980, just making my first independent explorations in music. Highway to Hell was an early obsession, and even if there was little music on television and no internet I understood what a force of nature and fount of charisma Bon Scott was. He was my model of what a rock star should be then, and he still is now. Then he died in miserable circumstances, 40 years ago today.
Actually, I don’t have any hatches in my flat, which is probably just as well because I have no idea where I left my battens. It’s going to be a blowy one though, so might as well stay in and share YouTube links.
The wonderful Maria McKee rarely breaks cover these days so I’m delighted to see a solo show announced for the end of March at Earth in Hackney to promote her first album in a decade.
Reading her words in the link and on Twitter it sounds like she’s been through a bit of a journey and has spilled it all out into the songs. Much as I hope she’s OK this is good news, as for my money angsty, howling, Life is Sweet Maria is the best Maria.
(Her Twitter feed originally announced e date as 30 March, but now confirms the venue’s date of 31 March.)
If my Facebook and Twitter timelines are anything to go by most people plan to go to bed early and ignore it, but not before making sure that everyone else knows. I don’t really understand this antipathy to NYE (or Hogmanay if I’m being true to my birthplace). I like the idea of rounding off the festive season with a booze spent with friends rather than family which, and this is the other crucial distinction from Christmas, is all over and done with in one night.
This year however I’ll be with the curmudgeons, not through lack of willing or lack of a party to go to but because I will be at home nursing a stinker of a cold. I should be at work right now, but instead I’m catching up on some excellent films on iPlayer (The Apartment earlier, and I’ll go back to bed with a paracetamol when The Ipcress File has finished). I’m ill as often as not at New Year, something I put down to years retail when I would almost always fall sick at Christmas because I had been too busy to get ill before.
Happily my other half isn’t too bothered about going » Continue Reading.
The incredibly sad news is spreading that Neil Innes has left us. I was a little too young for the heyday of the Bonzo Dog Band and Rutland Weekend Television, but made up for it since. The Rutles at Colchester Arts Centre was one of the best gigs I went saw all 2019, and he was in such good shape that I had high hopes of seeing him next time round.
Tom Waits is 70 today, a fact which would probably have surprised everyone including him a few decades ago.
I bloody love Tom Waits, whether he playing the lovelorn gin soaked hobo, crooning to his piano in the small hours, or sounding like Captain Birdseye has been at the cough syrup again, to the accompaniment percussion which sounds like a Victorian wardrobe being dropped down a lift shaft.
Rain Dogs is probably my favourite album of all time, so here’s a track from that magnificent record.
Yes, It’s the Jethro Cell / Soft Tull collaboration the world has been crying out for, as Ian Anderson and Marc Almond combine on Lord of Misrule. It does sound rather like they recorded it in different rooms, possibly without reference to what the other one was bringing to the party, but YouTube also boasts a video of Almond joining Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull onstage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013 for a rattle through Locomotive Breath, so it could well be that they’re old pals.
You’re unlikely recording partners are of course more than welcome in the comments.
What a sad day. In ascending order of how much they meant to me today has seen the loss of Gary Rhodes, Jonathan Miller and Clive James.
James’ Observer TV reviews and memoirs were a key part of my first forays into adult literature, and the earlier memoirs are still hilarious now. His Philip Larkin book is on my Christmas list. Here’s a lyric he wrote for Pete Atkin.
… who has a quick look at the bottom of the page every time I log on to see if the site motto has been changed to ‘OK boomer’ yet?
The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
What a night. What a phenomenal night! How to celebrate this extraordinary man who has spent more than 50 of his 70 years writing extraordinary songs of apolalypse and redemption, and coupling them with unmistakable guitar playing to the acclaim and adulation of far too few? Stick on a big gig at a prestigious venue and bring along a bunch of family, friends and acolytes to help out, that’s how.
From the get go we were promised an evening of song, friendship and nepotism by our MC Jack Thompson (Richard’s youngest, you see what he means?) and that’s what we got in spades. It is in the nature of a guest list show, with every performer getting one or two songs before making way for the next, that you hope for a collection of highlights rather than a consistent narrative, so I’m going to lean heavily on the setlist which someone stuck up on Setlist.fm with admirable speed and comment on each one, rattling through the songs and guests off the top of my head rather than tackle the evening in themes. The result is far too long and barely edited » Continue Reading.
Van Morrison has just announced a short series of dates at the London Palladium in spring, and from the blurb on the Palladium website I strongly suspect that whoever was given the job of writing the advance notice said ‘Who?’ before gathering the barest information they could from Wikipedia to paste onto the page. Wouldn’t his management have provided a press release with prose less desperate than this?
The legendary Van Morrison, one of the finest singer-songwriters and hardest working live performers of his era, is coming to The London Palladium for five very special shows next year.
Fans may know him from some of his biggest hits, including Brown Eyed Girl, Have I Told You Lately, Moondance and Into the Mystic.
To date, Van Morrison has released a whopping 40 albums and with new material and projects in the pipeline, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
And it’s so long then to fRoots, which is to cease publication. Probably no great surprise to anyone even though it obviously a shame. Even a someone who’s musical taste puts me in the target demographic I rarely picked up a copy, and it may be that such specialist music is better served by online communities.
I’ve just bought tickets for Ross Noble’s next tour. The London Palladium show to be precise. That’s the London Palladium show on 3 May 2020, 11 months away.
Is this a record?
Ealing Blues Festval,Sunday 21st July, with Nick Lowe headlining.
Open, Norwich, and Union Chapel, London
What a difference a lighting rig can make.
I have loved Thea Gilmore’s music for most of the couple of decades that she has been releasing superb, occasionally dipping to merely very good, albums and always catch a gig on each tour as well as buying every album in the week of release. This time The Light and I plumped for a train and Travelodge trip to Norwich rather a school night visit to London and the chosen show, at Open, fell on the day of release of Small World Turning.
Matt Owens, formerly of Noah and the Whale, played a short but amiable opening set before reappearing on electric bass with Thea’s band, along side Katriona Gilmore, no relation, on a variety of stringed instruments (right handed fiddle but left handed mandolin oddly enough) and Thea’s musical and life partner Nigel Stonier. At times the bass dominated the acoustic guitars, and I wondered about the lack of drums.
The performance was highly enjoyable with plenty of songs from the new record and a smattering of old favourites, notably a couple from 2001s Rules for Jokers, but … It » Continue Reading.
The King Crimson CD with the new issue of Mojo is really very splendid, and I write as someone who has always found them easier to admire than enjoy on my infrequest previous encounters. The track listing is in the link below (the first track is missing its ‘Schizoid’ rather than some unreleased obscurity).
Rock City is a 1973 rockumentary which I confess I have never seen, but with input from various Stones, Floyds, and Whos and footage of Hendrix, Otis, Ike and Tina and so it has to be worth a look. ‘Vintage film footage from the hey-day of the London’s rock and roll scene. Interviews with rock artists and London’s hippies and flower children.’ says IMDB.
Friday evening, 10pm, Talking Pictures TV (Freeview Channel 81).
If the Afterword has a patron act it must surely be Richard Thompson. Even the fact that there are cloth-eared fools among us who dispute his brilliance fosters discussion and so is in keeping with the ethos of the site.
Today he reaches 70 years of age, and as anyone who has seen the trio format band recently will attest he can still rip up a stage with the best of them. I like to think that some people who haven’t been keeping up think that buying a ticket for an elderly ex-Fairporter will guarantee an evening of mellow acoustic folkiness. Those same people presumably stumble out two hours later with fixed, glazed expressions and whistling ears. He can deliver masterful mellow acoustic folkiness too of course, and I would be hard pressed to pick which version of his show to see if I was given a straight choice.
We spend a lot of time here celebrating the greats once they have gone, but here’s the chance to share your favourites from one of the all time best while he is still giving superb performances on record and stage.
Nothing to add other than this is a very sad start to Monday morning.
What does it sound like?:
I have already written rather gushingly about the Heartworn Highways gig at the Betsey Trotwood last weekend, and one of the highlights of a gig full of great moments was discovering Louis Brennan, an Irish, London based songwriter.
I ordered his album from his Bandcamp page (on CD, because I’m old fashioned like that) straight afterwards and have had it on repeat play every since. I honestly can’t remember the last time an album made such an instant impression on me to the extent that nothing else musical is quite hitting the spot at the moment. There is no justice when someone of Brennan’s skills is so obscure when others of no noticeable talent draw a huge audience (what scientists refer to as the Sheeran Paradox).
The first thing which will strike first-time listeners is the voice, a deep baritone which sweeps lower to huge dramatic effect when necessary. It put me in mind of Johnny Cash or Lee Hazelwood, and the video I posted under the Heartworn Highways review drew a comparison to Jake Thackray, throw in a hint of John Grant too with a suggestion of Leonard Cohen and you’ll be » Continue Reading.
The Betsey Trotwood, Farringdon, London
I may already have seen my favourite gig of the year and it’s only February.
A night filled with song, musicianship and love saw 12 musicians crammed into the tiny upstairs room of the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, as well as the lucky 30 or so paying audience members they managed to squeeze in as well. I say paying, but at a tenner a ticket I reckon the entrance fee must just have covered the cost of the room, mics and camera. I can’t believe the singers were doing this for anything other than the love of the music, and the couple of bottles of Jack Daniels which circulated freely among them.
The musicians involved were [deep breath] Partick Ralla, Michele Stodart, Louis Brennan, Felix Holt, Zak Hobbs (Richard Thompson’s grandson, fact fans), Ren Harvieu, Romeo Stodart, Laura Tenschert, Angie Gannon (making three out of four Magic Numbers on the bill) Robert Chaney, Naomi Larsson and Joe Harvey-White (the evening’s organiser). Before the event I had wondered how they were going to get that many people on and off stage, even allowing for the 3 hours scheduled. In the event » Continue Reading.