I have a mind to tape a podcast at the weekend chewing over the summer now it’s nearly over. Anyone wanna take part?
What does it sound like?:
Cyndi Lauper singing country! It’s produced by country supremo Tony Brown with the cream of Nashville session men and star guests including Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Jewel. So be assured it sounds fantastic. I’ve always thought, right from the first album, that Cyndi had some country music in her blood– there’s a bit of Tammy and Dolly in the way she hits those high notes, and in her vibrato. Here it is fully unleashed. Most of the songs are well known and Cyndi delivers them with verve and obvious joy and typical irreverence and humour too. Country music is misunderstood by many as being either schmaltzy weepies or my dog/truck won’t start clichés. In truth it’s the home of the song, of the tune, of great pickin’ and singing’ and never far from healthy humour. All are present here, and when Cyndi delivers some virtuoso yodelling on a Texas swing take on “I wanna be a cowboy’s sweetheart” this reviewer was whooping with joy.
What does it all *mean*?
Many artists late in their career seem to gravitate to a country album. I’m always suspicious of projects like this as they » Continue Reading.
I started mentally composing this post on a very long drive back from France, listening to various play lists on the iPod. 20 albums with great guitar playing which made a big impact on me at the time and still do (in no particular order). They are all old (I can hear wails from the List Hate fraternity about the absence of anything after 1979 or similar) but in truth this is more likely because I’ve always been more interested in the song than the guitar player, though as a nipper, learning guitar, a well applied plectrum always caught my ear more than it does now. It’s not comprehensive – no Zep, no RT, none of the later generation of ace players (the first Van Halen album and “Surfing with the alien” by Joe Satriani would be in the top 30 as representatives of later rock stylings), no Dave Gilmore who I consider one of the finest…no Jeff Beck who probably IS the finest. The first 20 I thought of in a stream of consciousness. I could finesse for ever and there are albums I probably like as much of any of them which don’t feature great picking. Take it » Continue Reading.
I want to get a portable Bluetooth speaker setup for hotel room usage – playing Spotty or other downloads to the phone. Any advice welcome!
Each year there’s an international event, known as The RPM Challenge, (note: “it’s a challenge, not a competition”) to musicians to write and record an album during February. It’s a bit like writers producing a novel in a month by writing n thousand lines a day. I’ve started it before but never finished it – this time I decided to try harder…. I decided to do a concept album… Anyway, I discovered Harold MacMillan made his “never had it so good” speech when I was in utero, so I settled on the concept as being to have a look at how we’ve done since then – literally in my lifetime. It’s not autobiographical, more a chronological look at history and culture. We start in 1957 and end up, well, now, thinking about the future. Also, it’s not musical pastiche, though some of the flavour of the times creeps into the tracks one way or the other. Like all good concept albums there’s a lyric sheet which I’d urge you to have a look at, if only for my little intro to each track. Like all good concept albums, it has lots of tracks (some quite short) and is great » Continue Reading.
What will you be reading on the sun bed this year then? And anything you’d recommend? I am catching up on a few JG Ballards I’ve missed, the biog of Tubby Hayes, the Glyn John’s biog which I bought and forgot to read and an unspeakable Tom Clancy, whose work I enjoy in a “peeling off a scab is both pleasure and pain” kind of way. If you don’t know the great man’s oeuvre, try “Executive Orders” which eerily predicted 9/11.
Some bands have stuck in my mind but I’ve never got around to checking them out, and now they have drifted into possibly well deserved obscurity. One is 70s festival stalwarts Stray…never heard them, and their name is ungoogleable if I ever got around to looking for them (which I won’t). But I wonder…were they any good? Another one is Glencoe – I vaguely remember the adverts – 4 hairy rockers glaring out from the NME….any good? I have the faint feeling some of them went on to the Blockheads. Any Glencoe fans out there?
So who are the ones you always wondered what they are like? We are here to help.
What does it sound like?:
Ben Watt’s second album, since he relaunched himself as a solo act with 2014’s Afterword appreciated “Hendra”, is a low key delight. A band nucleus comprising Watt on vocals and guitars, Bernard Butler on grungy folk rock guitar plus rhythm section have created an acoustic rock sound which has been captured in old school fidelity doing odd things like all playing together in the studio and having songs of heart which build and flex as their mood develops. There’s great use of texture and arrangement, old woozy synths drift across the soundscape and the whole thing wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Island catalogue in 1971. Ben’s vocals have never sounded better – with EBTG he always suffered, popping up next to one of the greatest pop voices these islands have ever produced, but here he comes across all gruff, passionate yet still understated. The title track is a great example – a 70s arrangement with blurry sounding bass and drums, a catchy cyclical guitar riff, slapping congas and a big lifting chorus.
What does it all *mean*?
It means Ben’s avid listening to artists like John Martyn, Tim Buckley and Richard » Continue Reading.
Haven’t been around much recently as I’ve been busy workwise and with life in general and also, if I’m honest, I got seriously wound up over something and decided I needed a break. Anyway, it’s nice to see the old place creaking along if slightly deprived of some well-loved contributors. But hey ho, here’s one of the things I’ve been doing…my new guitar! I’ve been working away from home for months and decided a toy was in order and had the idea to get a guitar custom built. Thing is, I am hardly short of our fretted friends already, so specifying something from scratch was rather tricky since pretty much all my needs are already met. But….but…. as all guitar lovers know, the right number of guitars to own can be calculated by the formula N+1 where N=the number you currently have, so what the hey. Anyway, I had a think about my requirements…. (more nerdiness in comments)….
I have a spare ticket for Jonathan Wilson at the Union Chapel on Thursday (well, 2 actually). If anyone wants it/them PM me. £17 or sensible offer accepted. ..I’d rather they were used than wasted.
Best selling author Stephen Clarke pops into the pod to tell The Afterword about his new book “Merde in Europe”, interviewing 90s pop stars in the streets of Paris, and trying to get Prince lyrics into the French/English dictionary. Give the amount of merde talked here, this is an ideal topic for this week’s episode.
These look good! They are playing London in March – anyone going?
All original episodes of Danger Mouse now on Netflix. Great joy in Twang Towers. This is a public service announcement.
What does it sound like?:
A bootleg, really, but who cares. This is the live performance reported by Junior Wells recently – a fan tape of the never recorded Bluesbreakers lineup featuring future Fleetwood Mac members Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood with Mayall in Holland. First, sound quality. Well, not bad actually. Quite clear and dry, no “back of the room under a greatcoat” about it. The band is remarkably balanced sounding, and the full range is there – you can hear the bass, drums etc all in balance with the vocals, guitars and organ. Then the performances – well, this just adds another underline to the view that Peter Green , here at his peak, was one of the greatest ever blues guitarists. This is pure blues – none of the eclecticism which crept in later with songs like “Man of the world” or “Oh well”. His playing on “San Ho Zay” is quite astonishing – cheeky, lyrical and innovative all in one. Only Jeff Beck usually gets away with this stuff. On the numbers we know from the Beano album he kinda reflects Clapton’s groundbreaking playing, whilst adding a distinctly Green tinge to the phrasing. » Continue Reading.
New season starts next week! **claps hands **
Storm Imogen appears to have arrived outside and sheets of rain are lashing the house. Time for a thread of rain songs. A rich seam to mine I think, and let’s kick off with this chilly bit of 80s folk/Goth….over to you.
When I were a nip I thought this was dead good. I haven’t listened to it for years but was suddenly moved to…and it is still dead good. Fab guitar playing and particularly good bass playing too. That’s all.
Anyone know where one can find recordings of classic political speeches from the 50s to the present day? Curiously hard to find, beyond YouTube where they tend to be a bit hacked about.
I love what Stuart Maconie refers to as a salty snack. Tonight I had a large bowl of Twiglets with a pre dinner sherry, though it could easily have been KP Dry Roasted Peanuts, or pistachios. Sure for more poncy occasions an olive is good, or a tray of Waitrose charcuterie. I love a nib. How about you?
Well, we’re all going to get a vote soon. I have to say I’m divided on the subject. Having lived in France for a long time I feel quite European (though I can tell you, most of the French people I know don’t feel European, they feel French) and from a trade point of view I am quite sure we’d be subject to all the alleged red tape which apparently drives everyone mad now. So economically we are probably as well staying in. But, but… I do really resent the way the EU behaves. The Strasbourg bollocks. The financial corruption. The blatant politicing amongst the big players. The busy body legislation (iPod volume limiters etc). And, TBH, the legal constraints about who we can and can’t allow to remain in the country. I am a probable Yes, but have No sympathies and am looking forward to each side making the case. So far, and to his credit, only Nick Clegg has tried and got a grandstanding roasting from Farage for his trouble.
What do you think?
Outrageous self promotion alert…
I have been mucking about writing and recording some songs for, oooh, ages and have finally finished. The results are available here as a free download or if really keen you can order a real CD! Artwork by our fave Pencilsqueezer. El Hombre Malo makes an appearance on the title track too. It’s a tunesome mix of folk rockish numbers with an emphasis on the rock. Enjoy!
Nice and fresh. Lovely job. Thanks all who laboured on it.
I’m approaching the end of a contract and a major drama exploded today resulting in me having to run around like the proverbial fly with blue nether regions. Not at all what I had in mind for Friday before departure. So I need a musical pick me up. It used to be the first Boston album but today it is Karnataka – pop/goth/prog, with soaring female vocals, stacked vocal harmonies, tons of keyboards, lead guitars, tempo changes and all in a melodic ear friendly package. And drums that go be dum be dum be dum be dum CRACK across the stereo spectrum. Marvellous. What picks you up?
DogFaceBoy, Twang, the Cheshire Cat, Pencilsqueezer, Steerpike and El Hombre Malo struggle with technical gremlins and seasonal torpor to discuss the year past and the one to come. The Cat lives up to his fictional namesake by disappearing regularly and El Hombre wanders in the Skype wilderness before finding the way in. Nonetheless some highlights are identified, and in AW tradition an argument breaks out over Joanna Newsom.