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.
What does it sound like?:
“Afraid of Sunlight” was Marillion’s 8th album, and released in 1995. Though critically well-received (well, for Marillion), their appeal was becoming a little more selective at this time. some listeners not liking their band to write songs they want to, and mature with time and experience. The original album had a shiny 90s sound and the remaster makes them sound perhaps a little more indie, and their then current influences – John Lennon, U2, The Beach Boys, the better end of later Genesis – more apparent. Both have some well known tracks – “Beautiful” (a bit wet, if you ask me, but perhaps welcome when getting together with “your lady”), “King” (great), and “Out of this World”, which has Steve Rothery providing a typically tasteful/ lovely/ reassuringly brief solo. “Afraid of Sunlight” remains a rollicking, impassioned number. The edits and revisions of the remastered/ remixed versions of these tracks are really different emphases of the same thing; I found the older “Gazpacho” and “King” more congenial, but then my ears are older, and I like things a bit busier.
The two versions of “Afraid of Sunlight” come with a blu-ray of bits which » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
The last Hawkwind album was a bit of a disappointment; what could have been stentorian orchestrated selection of older tracks was a bit 70s Radio 2, and Hawkwind should NEVER be 70s Radio 2. One rarely uses the phrase “return to form” without irony when listening to new albums by a band 50 years old, but it must be said that “All Aboard the Skylark” draws on themes the mighty ‘Wind have covered previously in ways fans will be delighted to hear.
“Flesh Fondue” (perhaps a relative of “Clam Caravan by the equally estimable ‘Tap) is properly bikerdelic, a swashbuckling riff made for grebs doing that thumbs-in-belt loops dance, while ‘medicated’ viewers watch the lights. Further mellow-friendly content in “Nets of Space”, “In the Beginning”, and “the Road to” also indicate full-strength Capstans may be required for certain listeners. The title track (the spacecraft on the cover looking like a Bruce Pennington painted paperback from the mid-70s) is space rock of the type one would want from Hawkwind. With visuals, dancing aliens, Tim Blake back on board on synthesisers, you can expect this to be even more compelling live.
More ‘Tappery, Hawkwind go on knowingly » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Steve Howe is an endlessly inventive guitarist with a lovely tone. His solos with the current day band are now the best thing about them, and he has been semi-Zelig in his popping up to contribute to a classic psychedelic number here (“My White Bicycle”), or a post-progressive supergroup there (“Heat of the Moment”). A less known phase is his more recent jazz-trio with son, Dylan on drums, and Ross Stanley on pseudo-Hammond, and his album “The Haunted Melody” has all the groove, early 60s saloon-bar swelling organ (sorry, I always have to use that phrase), and wit you would hope without an elf, falsetto, glittery cape, or Roger Dean cover in sight. I had hoped that “New Frontiers” would be in that vein, but definitely not. This is good in that Howe was not staying still, and here, with his son (and occasionally, Bill Bruford) on drums, and Ross Stanley, the music is never less than well-played, interesting, and musical. But I personally felt it did not swing as much as I like. This may be a matter of expectations, as “New Frontiers” burbles along never less than nicely, but equally, nothing really » Continue Reading.
The discussion of Bad Co./ Free the other week, it got me thinking about glam rock, which was often the inverse of meat n’potatoes and greatcoats blues rock. Glam was affected, self-conscious, ironic, camp, and liked by big jessies, whether gay, girls, art ponces, or boys like me who preferred showy dramatics that were less macho. Little did I know there was a Canadian outcropping of this genre, and think on that a while: if being glam may have been difficult in Rotherham, you try it in Moosejaw. The pics here promise much, and that a young Bryan Adams was involved (definitely his high point as far as I am concerned) hakes it all the more intriguing. This is my best find since Zolar X, a space themed Devo from 1973.
I’m not generally a fan of the ‘Purp, but earlier stuff like this I can tolerate more, and i must say they do look fine. Bouffant hair, orange satin Knickerbocker trousers, and Hugh Hefner in the middle of it when he wasn’t QUITE such a creep.
Style guides for then forthcoming party season welcomed.
What does it sound like?:
Frank Zappa was a serious composer who found working in the rock n’ roll idiom and making complicated popular music with knob jokes enabled him to subsidise his artistic work that had less commercial potential. He once observed that “some artists put their money up their nose, I put my money in my ears”, and the concerts on this set of discs were paid for from the profits made from the single “Don’t eat the yellow snow”: there is something Platonic in that equation. I’ve been listening to the is album for almost 40 years, and in that time it has gone from “What is THAT?” to “Could be a film soundtrack” (admittedly an odd film).
For the uninitiated, this music is tunefully and busily abstract, self-consciously difficult and sometimes effortlessly cheesy (I love the big band “Duke of Prunes”), mostly made with an orchestra but occasional guitar, synthesiser, and bass art comedy music. Does that help? It would have led to energetic frugging at a Bauhaus ball (as in German art movement, not Northampton goths) and would surely appeal to hipsters and avant-rock types if it wasn’t for the terminally unwoke cachet » Continue Reading.
Most of the obituaries must already be written, and the worst but most well-known song lined-up for the capsule new reports. Funny how time slips away.
The Crawfurd Arms, Wolverton. https://www.thecraufurdarms.com/
The charmingly named Newcassel-based “Pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs” (Pigs7) have made a name for themselves as an art-grebo sludge metal band (don’t stop reading here). Throughout this reassuringly loud and intense gig I couldn’t but think I was watching a band inspired by the earlier Black Sabbath and Hawkwind albums, managed by Damian Hurst, and fronted by Derek Smalls, a shrunken Henry Rollins and Owen Jones. They played maybe 7 songs in an hour, and it was unclear where drones and riffs ended, and music-concrete started. The art-metal was preceded by, if anything, the charmingly-named “Godspeed, you Peter Andre”, which, as I don’t get out much, I was not quite sure how to describe. The Sleaford Mods after an art college make over and in touch with their female side, perhaps
Hipper, younger, and squarer than I expected for the darlings of “The Quietus”. Rather fewer Tommy Saxondales than you normally see in rock pubs and gigs, quite a lot of old punks. A full room, and an appreciative audience who certainly accepted in-your-face difficulty positively, rather than a call for “More Heep, more Quo, more » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Take The Nice’s rhythm section plus Patrick Moraz on keyboards, and you’ve got another ELP knock-off (Germany had Triumvirat). Refugee only produced one album proper, as Moraz was offered Rick Wakeman’s place in Yes, where he added stellar contributions to “Relayer” and the live shows of the time. (Moraz was then unceremoniously dumped and Wakeman brought back in 1977, which I think was a bad move, Moraz being a better player than Wakeman – OOAA). But what a belter the first Refugee album is… frenetic instrumentals like “Papilon”, “Rit Mickley” (Moraz’s pronunciation of rhythmically, “Mind Your Language” fans of comedy foreigners, note), two epics, one “The Grand Canyon”, the other “Credo” (with church organ, natch), and more. There is a nice fusion feel to parts, as this was from 1974, and wibbly keyboard sounds were no longer enough; they had to be slightly funky wibbly keyboards. Lee Jackson’s vocals remain a sticking point for many, myself included, mixing to questionable appeal, Brian Johnson and Roger Chapman. However, there are not a lot of these, as this is mostly all about the music, man. The second and third discs are live recordings made a month » Continue Reading.
Roger Scruton is a bit of a tool about popular music and culture, though occasionally says some interesting things. Though not dead, he is surely rolling in his grave with the rock lord of the mighty Whitesnake being interviewed in the conservative comic. For me, ver ‘Snake lost it once they lost Mick Moody and the whole Tommy Saxondale vibe they conjured, though I am sure becoming Americanised was more conducive to luxury.
What does it sound like?:
It sounds like “Yes” played by a great guitarist and a fairly good band. Many of the classics are presetn and correct (“Close to the Edge”, “Awaken”, “”Sweet Dreams”, “Yours is no Disgrace”, perennial encores “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper”, and a deep Topographic cut, “The Ancient” (abridged)), along with the more selectively appealing “9 Voices” (wet, instantly forgettable), and a bit of “Fly from Here” (tries hard, but lacks aptitude – and, indeed, altitude). The slower tempos of some tracks reflect the need for Alan White to keep up, he being unfortunately afflicted by health problems (Yes now have a new drummer and AW guests).
My concern is that they play the track much as they have done for the past 47 years. It sounds like we’ve heard it before, and we have. All of these tracks have been heard before, and most have been heard on live albums in the past in similar versions, and if there isn’t much difference from the original recordings or the other live versions, what is the point? There certainly isn’t much improvisation or new interpretation of the songs. This turns the album into a souvenir of » Continue Reading.
de Montfort hall, Leicester
Three nights of Marillion; three different 2.5 hour sets, including the rarely played “life is the road”, 2000 obsessive fans, (thankfully) only one track from pre-1988, some of the fanciest visuals possible for the progressive band that sings of love, laughs at itself, makes mistakes, and, 30 years into their career, still makes music you want to hear (not something that can be said about many of the original progressive greats who have made a lot out of a very thin creative period, when you think about it). The lead singer gave it loads (actually, they all gave it loads, and they were all apparently delighted by the event and the reception), and the band were mostly tight. When they weren’t, it was endearing, as there was a lot of music to play, and this was busy stuff. Each night was a delight, with enough variation to not be bored at any point.
Marillion muthas, proudly uncool (a t-shirt for sale even says “Marillion: Uncool as Fuck”), mostly of a certain age and bigger boned. More women and children than you might think, I think because this was a family » Continue Reading.
Discussions on another forum led me to think the “Confessions…” movies warrant a far more serious exegesis as to the decline and fall of British popular entertainment. These unfunny sex comedies with insufficient sex or comedy, but a plethora of 70s signifiers of mediocrity and light entertainment stars on the way down as witless shit is on the way up (excuse me) are spectacularly the insight into music festivals shown by “Carry On Camping” or Freddie Starr (whatever happened to him, then?) doing his Mick Jagger impression. I recall trying to watch an “On the Buses” movie for 70s retro amusement. i lasted 10 minutes, and I have a strong stomach for this sort of thing. So what of this genre of entertainment still (or ever) “holds it’s own” (hurr). I anticipate a torrent of innuendos and puerile smutty lines along with the semiotics (steady on) here. I reckon being embarrassed by this stuff helped ease through (hah!) our version of PC in the post-punk years. Benny Hill was rarely funny: it was Bob Todd and Rita Webb (or maybe the short bald bloke being hit on the head) that were.