This is a charming story of when hippie punks Nik Turner’s “Inner City Unit” toured as support to bonehead favourites Sham 69 in 1979. Hilarity ensues. Goes nicely with the clip on YouTube of Steve Hillage jamming with Sham at Reading festival in 1978. Glamourous, this tour was not.
What does it sound like?:
This is one of those products which absolutely does what it says on the tin, and if you like this sort of thing, you’ll love it. Two classic Steve Hackett-related albums (“Spectral Mornings”, and one of the discs he did with the old group), all played beautifully, some creative spins on familiar (sometimes over-familiar) tracks, all tastefully delivered (by the standards of progressive rock), and a few surprises and must-do’s. A DVD of a concert indicates it was also a delightful show for men of a certain age and their long-suffering partners, professionally performed, played, and presented.
I was struck that there was no sense of longeurs as “new” or solo material so often invites in what would have been the first set. That said, “Spectral Mornings” was released 41 years ago, so has had time to bed in. Lots of interesting musical textures and chiaroscuro moments, e.g., “Tigermoth”, and the invariably thundering “Clocks – The Angel of Mons”. Tasteful instrumentation and the occasional world element showed how Hackett was himself moving on, and vocals are competent but not central. Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes) does a great job adding new elements to the music, » Continue Reading.
Sad news. The band were never better.
It’s a blessed relief, of course, but such a shame that Tim Smith has died. The band that could have been so much bigger, and I never quite worked out why not. Probably too clever and just getting big when girl-power and boy-bands were the thing the kids want. I saw them in the mid-80s when in torpor due to girl troubles, a bevvy n’ whizz fuelled gig with them lived me up considerably. I had no idea what they were like, so it was … CRIKEY!
This popped up on ITunes a few after Ian Dury’s “Sex & drugs & rock & roll”
I do wonder if the Aerosmith number was in the air and influenced the guitar line to ‘King Ian’s ditty as much as Ornette Coleman’s bass line…
I’ll get me coat
What does it sound like?:
You know with Steve Howe the guitar tone will be exquisite, as will be be the playing. Awkward arty post-punk buggers like Keith Levene get it as much as involuntarily-celibate centre-parted Afghan-wearing (do they still exist?) teen progressive rock fans, and many men of a certain age (and their long-suffering wives). “Love Is” is Steve Howe’s latest solo album, and the initial tracks of “Fulcrum” and “See me Through” are recognisably Yes-ish (particularly as the latest vocals ringer, Jon Davison ( a more convincing Jon Anderson than their hard-working but ill-fated rebound vocalist, Benoit David) adds his lines and harmonies). Steve sings too; and he’s better than he was. Instrumentals and songs alternate, so you know you are never far from those lovely soaring and ringing lines.
It was nice to hear THOSE “harmonies”; again, and the ghost of Chris Squire is working his magic. Elsewhere, it can be a bit Mike Oldfield for me, but that will delight others. Lyrics, are not as sappy as if Jon Anderson was around, nor the music as wet as Jon’s became, but SH must keep an eye on getting too sweet a tooth in case it » Continue Reading.
When Summer comes, my mind drifts to jazzy samba and ska/ bluebeat.
This is is a good example. The clip has it’s pre-Yewtree charms, but I do wonder about the bassist’s outfit.
A lot of acts have done this, but it’s good spotting the links. Could be a fun thread.
I’ll start. Sting recorded a non-more-Sting song “Moon over Bourbon Street” (I like it, OOAA). Today I discover the cool latin-jazz vibe strongly influenced (he said tactfully), by the impeccable taste of using The Eddie Cano Quintet, except, the ECQ recorded this in 1967.
1970s American Anglophile music magazine Trouserpress’s entire archive is now available to read online.
Astonishing amounts of distraction to read there.
This has been a public service announcement.
What does it sound like?:
Eight months after the release of “Hot Rats”, Frank Zappa was on tour in Europe with a new version of The Mothers (not “of Invention”). With him were Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, and Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, a.k.a. “The Turtles”). The music slightly less outre, the skits sometimes MC’ed by Flo and Eddie. Some of this is recorded on the eternal “Live at Filmore East” album, which acts as something of a bellwether for different types of Frank Zappa fans; it all depends on how you feel about musical parodies and reportage about the groupie scene; for some it is puerile, for others an amusingly salacious satire on the idiocies of fame. Regarding this, call me adolescent and I will say you are SO unfair and slam my bedroom door. The music comprises that time when he was working on “Chunga’s Revenge”, “200 Motels”, and is very music indicative of a transition from his 60s style to that of the 70s.
“The Mothers 1970” brings together 4 CDs worth of officially unreleased studio and live recordings. Some of this has been on the bootleg “Wino Man” (also known as “Schischgebab”) » Continue Reading.
I am sure one of you music fans out there will be able to advise. I have been trying to work out what the big-band Latin music is that covers the incidental scenes in BBC satire, “W1A”. I know the title music is from “Animal Magic” (“Las Vegas” by Laurie Johnson, above). But nowhere on the Interweb seems to say who makes the other music. is it Laurie Johnson as well? Please advise.
It seems to me that a lot of artists are better as quality side-men and song-writers than solo performers. They may not like being on stage, may respond well to the structure of other musicians their equal, or the creativity bank over-drawn. When I hear Bob Dylan’s songs performed by others, his talent shines through. I prefer Eric Clapton as a star soloist with others, and Phil Collins’s drum contributions to other bands were better than his work in post-Gabriel Genesis. Is this a minority view?
Steve Howe has written his autobiography, and for a certain type of chap, it’s a jolly good read. He was involved in music from the mid-1960s, and has been known from 1967’s brief sparks, “Toomorrow” to the present, going through phases of stellar popularity (with all the private jets and decadence that implies) and stages of playing second and third division venues – sometimes in the same year; we find he played the Hollywood, then the Redcar, Bowl. He is a consummate professional, and seems to see it all as part of his creative gestalt, which is all for the good.
Though Steve Howe guards his privacy carefully, he is also endlessly making music both with the band(s), solo, and with many musical friends and family (including, tragically, his late son). It isn’t always easy; Steve damns with faint praise the rock and roll decadence and flippancy which compromised continuity in “Yes” line ups (with clear problems of consistent quality output from “Tormato” onwards). As a conscientious and serious musician, though he patiently approached his more mercurial colleagues, he clearly found Jon, Chris, Alan, and Rick’s various spiritual and chemical demons hard work. For similar reasons, John » Continue Reading.
Exciting new broom to fight a Tory government that has had it too easy with the opposition, or dismal and uninspiring, and about to lose the movement that was bringing back Labour’s true values?
Don’t all rush at once girls. To the left of my head are a series of pictures; a snap i took of Frank Zappa at a concert in 1979; some “blotter art” (don’t ask), a still from the 70’s movie “the Triple Echo”; snaps of my childen and my father; a bookcase with bukes; and my skull replica. Music collection and many other books and filing cabinets cunningly concealed.
Like many a kid in the 60s, American comics opened me up to a new world of product in the ads; “Tootsie Rolls”, Charles Atlas ads, and best of all, the multi-ad pages of joke toys and novelties. I had no idea how to buy things using post from America, let alone the UK, and my parents were not about to help me. So this was a world I could only look through the window at. Eventually, I had enough cash in hand and was in a sufficient shabby British seaside resort to be able to arm myself with a variety of these exotic items. The whoopee cushion distended the sofa so you couldn’t sneak it under auntie at a party, the x-ray glasses were definitely ineffective, and my dad gave me a bollocking when I successfully pranked him with the black-face soap. I just wasn’t cut out as a Beadle.
I am sure you people have amusing additions to this theme. (For all of us with a trash-aesthetic, the article is excellent, too.)
This wronged-woman turned a chap’s records by Yazz, Showaddywaddy, and Paper Lace into her kitchen floor. Love, you are almost definitely too good for him. he only needs the “Brotherhood of Man” to confirm what a wrong ‘un he is.
Has anyone here had painful feedback regarding their loved one’s views on their music or a cruel consequence of a transgression?
What does it sound like?:
Tweeted by Prince (and what could be a greater statement of worth?), this is the 7th album by the artful pop maestros, showing Sunderland remains a centre of remarkable creativity. All those clever oblique pop artists you like; Talking Heads, XTC, Bowie, Ben Folds, Kate Bush, Beach Boys, proper (pre 1977) 10cc, Prince, Todd Rundgren when he wants to play to his strengths … some say they can hear Steely Dan (I don’t hear it, myself) and Pink Floyd (again, “maybe”, or maybe NOT). Beautifully played, composed, and recorded, this is ostensibly a song cycle about life after WW1, but to my ears doesn’t sound like it, maybe as the music is so contemporary. I hear a pile of corking, interesting songs with oblique musical bridges and directions. An gallant song about gender differences here, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles there, air traffic control … this is not “Whitesnake”. I’ve probably listened to it half a dozen times and am still trying to work out how such accessible music slips through given the twists and turns.
What does it all *mean*?
“Record collection rock” has been a working strategy for a number of bands; » Continue Reading.
This popped up on my IPlayer album shuffle recently. I forgot how amazing it is. People often talk about “pure pop for now people” but that was just skinny tie / akimbo children’s sunglasses stuff.
William Lyall (ex-Pilot) made a solo album which is like all the most tuneful bits of early 10cc, ELO, Wings, “Hunky Dory” Bowie, Todd Rundgren at his poppermost, and I’m gobsmacked at this. He quite possibly timed this badly given it came out in 1976, and year-zero poonk this is not. But those who like sneaky pop tunes are in for a treat. Sadly, he died of the big disease with the little name in 1989.
Music fans of every kind will enjoy Graham Duff’s autobiography “Foreground Music: A life in 15 gigs”. It’s a structure we could all follow whether choosing gigs as examples of phases, significant events, psychological revelations… I review it in “Reads”, but thought between us there could be some corking stories to share. I’ll start:
The Cramps, 1984.
After a rather dissolute year of early 80s decadence, finals were upon me, and I decided to knuckle down, cognisant that I could be spending the rest of my life signing on and getting wrecked in south-east London, then find I was 35. I had a month’s washout to tighten-up the synapses and handle the philosophy and psychopharmacology. One slight problem: a Cramps concert scheduled for December was rearranged for the night before a “Philosophy of the Mind” paper, and I was NOT going to miss that. My pals, a good-hearted bunch of degenerates (“Mad”, where are you? it’s been 35 years) had no such worries, so could get appropriately fucked-up. I turned up at their house pre-gig, and within 15 minutes had gone from “No, I better not”, to “more, please”. It got messy.
We got to the Hammermith Palais and » Continue Reading.
“Foreground Music: A life in 15 gigs” is an autobiographical work by hip popular media Renaissance man / subcultural Zelig, Graham Duff, who is an actor, writer, stand up comic, artist, father, and more. He continues to be moved by music in the semi-obsessional way any reader of this blog will recognise, and describes his life in 15 gigs, going from the formative dross/ life-changing moments, to the recent congratulatory “we’re still here and have it” events where middle-aged men and their slightly better preserved / long-suffering wives see a band reunion from back in the day, and see the same audience as ever, but with more waistline, less hair, and, for some, poorer-fitting fan stigmata. I find seeing my age cohort at gigs an amusing/ charming/ salutary/ alarming/ reassuring sight, and it is the same whether it is “Wire” or “Throbbing Gristle” for Graham Duff, or, in my case, “Hawkwind” and “The Rezillos”.
Graham started his gig-going with a Cliff Richard gospel show, so it could only get better after that. The early punk gigs transported him to another world, and he, being a few years younger than myself, was never tainted by the shame of progressive » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
“Hot Rats” is probably the most well-known and accessible album in Frank Zappa’s oeuvre. Mostly instrumental, he keeps the snorks and annoying gimmicks/ satirical cool outsidedom to the minimum, and instead highlights his interesting way with music, melody, and bring out the most creative chops in his fellow musicians. “Hot Rats” (dedicated to Dweezil, who was performing this in full (not the 6 hour box set) in the UK this week) was recorded in 1969 (2 days after man landed on the moon, fact fans). In that year Zappa also released “Uncle Meat”, produced “Trout Mask Replica”, the GTOs, and Jeff Simmons, toured the USA and Europe, jammed with “Pink Floyd”, edited a Lord Buckley album, and more. What was that Lou Reed said about “my week beats your year”? In 1969, FZ had ideas and music flowing out of him, and it didn’t stop.
The Hot Rats Sessions were over 6 weeks (doubtless with lots of other stuff being done) and used the then-fancy 16-track recording desk, and various new musicians, here including Lowell George, Jean-Luc Ponty, Don “SugarCane” Harris, and Shuggie Otis, along with various trusted Mothers, such as Ian Underwood. The » Continue Reading.
I found the “Let it all out!” thread very interesting, and it clearly engaged others, too.
To generalise, those unhip but liked bits of music are all melodic and well-played, and rarely kick against The Man. So are we saying that received wisdom rock critic/ rock snob values (something is only good if it is obscure, unmelodic, ineptly played, and jolly cross) wrong? Are we post-NME and post-Peel? Do people now NOT say “I preferred their early stuff”?
What does it sound like?:
After a European tour that ended in September 1973, ever-moving Frank Zappa decided to liven up the band with a few new musicians. These included George Duke, Chester Thompson, and the rest of the chaps who became the “Roxy and Elsewhere” team. The band took a jazzier, funkier direction, with rather less skronk and snorks, and a a looser, more musical feel. Halloween, Zappa’s favourite holiday was an excuse for him to do some special gigs where audience participation, on-stage shenanigans, and long sets were favoured, and he always seemed to be in a good mood, which makes for a warmer feel to his music, staggeringly intricate and intelligent though it us (behind the pervert songs and irreverence). On Halloween 1973 these shows were performed in Chicago, and they were really quite something.
This CD set comprises two gigs, the second marginally longer and with some different tracks (and of course different solos and stage banter), and a disc of the rehearsals (where you can hear them trying to nail the new tracks without the anxiety of the performance or the unpredictability of the fans and equipment (at the gig Ruth Underwood’s marimba lost » Continue Reading.