fentonsteve on Vinyl cleaning
Full review in comments
Raymond on the template for an eccentric pop career
As a tragically obsessive consumer of music, I am used to the idea of ‘expectation’ out-performing ‘reality’. It has too often been the case that the act of imagining the tantalising possibilities of an eagerly-anticipated album has provided rather more fun than the experience of actually listening to it. Having learned to live with that kind of disappointment, it was always a particular treat when something managed to match my hopes and expectations.
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Colin H on Musings on the byways of British Jazz
That got your attention, didn’t it? Rather like the Afterword (definitively described once, by Hannah, as ‘still not as good as it used to be’), the British jazz scene has FOREVER been whingeing that it’s all gone to hell. There is some unreachable, vague point at which the British jazz scene was apparently great – but that point is ALWAYS years before the date at which a given person is stating it. Maybe in the 60s it was great in the 50s; maybe in the 70s it was great in the 60s, etc. etc…
Certainly, as my recently acquired April 1957 copy of British magazine ‘Jazz News’ would have one believe, the whole thing was all over already – flee at once, jump overboard, every man for himself…
I was delighted to find this on eBay recently. The magazine ran from 1957–63, beginning as monthly and then becoming fortnightly, even trying weekly at one point. I have many 1960-63 copies but ‘50s copies are much rarer.
I thought the Afterword might enjoy this wander down memory lane, around the beginning of the pop/rock era. So here is a » Continue Reading.
Raymond on tracing the musical lineage of your heroes
For a nerdish young music-obsessed Glaswegian in the late 70s and early 80s, the ‘Lost Chord’ record shop had an almost mythical status. It was located in the bohemian West End, the part of town where poets, intellectuals, posh kids and people who played in bands hung out. If -like me- you lived on the dull south side, getting there required not only dedication, but an ability to decipher bus timetables which openly mocked the restrictive notions of linear time.
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niallb on The story of a support band.
This is an extended version of a post I wrote a couple of years ago. Think of it as the 12” remix.
If I could have jumped on any band wagon in my 34th year, then the FA Cup run of non-league Woking FC, in 1990, was as good as any tiny little band wagon around. It turned out that the little band wagon became a runaway train.
The date was Saturday 8th December 1990. A few friends had been following Isthmian Premier League team, Woking FC, throughout the Qualifying rounds. The Isthmian Prem was one division down from the Conference, the Holy Grail of non-league football. My mates had been to the home game against Bath City, from the Conference, in the 4th Qualifying round. Woking had won 2-1.
In the First Round Proper, The Cards (short for Cardinals, from the Cardinal Red colour of their red & white halves shirt,) drew high flying Conference side Kidderminster Harriers, again at home. It was a 0-0 draw and the replay, at Kiddy, was 1-1. The second replay (remember them?) also at Kiddy, was 1-1 until Woking scored in the dying minutes. » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Buddy Mondlock, Tommy Halferty and cunning plans
I’ve had an Interesting couple of days and, given the current clamour for long-ish new pieces of writing on the Afterword, in the wake of the Barge-gate controversy, I thought I’d tell the tale…
It all began a long, long time ago, in the morning of the world, when the trees were tall, the valleys fair and the beards less grey. In fact, 1994. Buddy Mondlock, a Chicago singer-songwriter with exquisitely crafted lyrics of gentle profundity and observation and a gossamer voice, had been signed to an Irish record label in some way associated with U2 for his debut album – which was and is a sublime set of songs, unshackled to any particular time or sound.
I reviewed the album somewhere and went to see him perform live in the upstairs room of a Belfast bar during a local festival. I seem to recall he had Guy Clark’s son on bass – a very effective two-piece. The live performance was as compelling as the record. I may even have reviewed the show somewhere as well.
Buddy has made a point of coming back to tour Ireland almost every » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Gene Perla
Given the recent demand for more long-form pieces on the Afterword blog ¬– coupled with my cunning marketing genius (not) – here’s a short chapter from my book ‘Echoes From Then: Glimpses of John McLaughlin’, which will be self-published around October this year. I posted a heads-up couple of weeks back about the beginning of a Kickstarter campaign, and I know a number of Afterworders have already very generously supported it – thank you one and all! But never mind that: even if you’ve only a passing interest in John McLaughlin’s career, I hope you’ll find jazz bass legend Gene Perla’s tale as entertaining as I did…
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Carl on The Beatles songbook explored
Times flies and more than a month has passed since Please Please Me was posted as part of this series.
Perhaps this song is a true landmark in that it starts the tradition that continued through the rest of The Beatles career: the B Side of a single that is as good as (or nearly as good as) the A side. A song whose quality far surpasses 99% of the rest of singles’ chart content.
But having said that I think it is fair to say that this is one of the more obscure songs from the very early days and It is difficult to understand why.
This contrasts markedly with the schmaltz of P.S. I Love You. It can be argued that it’s equivalently sentimental, but is much more muscular and musically far more interesting. But then it is a vocal by John, so it is hardly surprising.
I’m not sure when I first heard this. We had neither the Please, Please Me single nor album. It’s not on The Red Album and given how rare it was to hear any “popular” music on the old Light Service, be it by The Beatles » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Vincent Crane
As requested over at the mental illness thread, here’s a piece on Vince Crane written in 2004 for a magazine but never published. I have a feeling I may have posted this before on a previous version of the AW. Still, here it is… The 2CD VC compilation ‘Close Your Eyes’ (one disc Atomic Rooster, one disc other items and rarities) is recommended.
‘There was always the sense that it could slip out of control,’ says Roger Glover, engine room of Deep Purple, ‘a lot of heart, a lot of attack, a lot of flailing of hair. That’s probably my over-riding image of Vincent Crane: the flailing hair! Organists at that time – Jon Lord and Keith Emerson, they were the ‘twin towers’, and Vincent was right there with them. Even though Emerson threw knives at his thing, it was all very controlled. Vincent was more of a wild man. He looked great on stage – and there was a chance that this machine might run amok.’
Thirty-five years ago, on Friday August 29 1969, the world – or that part thereof which had wandered up The Strand at midnight, paid their 20 shillings and » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Dinosaurs
On October 1970 the Melody Maker revealed astounding new research that antedated the Mock Jogger and his garage band cronies at least 30 years prior to the existing understanding of their formation. Somehow swept under the carpet by the Rolling Stones’ publicity machine, this remarkable research deserves to be re-examined. It means Jogger is about 112.
Here is the text from that original 1970 expose:
‘MICK – YOU NEVER TOLD US!’
Nothing is new – back in 1932 the Melody Maker was raving about The Rolling Stones.
Our delightful picture shows an incredibly camp looking band who must have been a sensation. Al Smith was the drummer and the Jagger-like lead singer was Jack Lewis – “an accomplished dancer, a noted athlete and once schoolboy boxing champion of Great Britain”, according to the contemporary report. Al used to lead a group called the Broway Melody Makers until he formed the Stones, “a bright and popular act”.
The review goes on to say of Jack Lewis: “besides his terpsichorean efforts, which are a big feature of the act, he gives a clever exposition of ball-punching to music. Dolly Lewis, his sister, sings and dances equally well, and » Continue Reading.
Carl on The Beatles and the Please Please Me single
Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on, come on, Come on, come on…
Now we’re getting down to business. John calls, Paul and George respond. The first taste of John and Paul getting really serious with their songwriting.
It’s just so much more muscular than Love Me Do. Featuring another Lennon harmonica riff, the repeated come ons, each one slightly more intense and emphatic than the previous one indicate their growing songwriting prowess. Their sense of creating dynamics within the song. It’s lyrically a world away from Love Me Do with it’s single rhyme pattern. Here there is a middle eight that really works in providing a contract to the verses and choruses. In the space of three months they’ve really started to develop their songwriting artistry.
MacDonald suggested in Revolution in The Head they were spurred on by the threat of having How Do You Do It released as their second single and so they came up with something that gave George Martin no sensible » Continue Reading.
Carl on The Beatles
The b-side of Love Me Do. Here is the first taste of things to come – McCartney’s saccharine side.
I don’t have problems with songwriters showing a softer, emotional side, but there is a line between showing a softer, caring side and oleaginous sentimentality. This is on the wrong side of that divide. And, as we are all aware, there was more to come from that side of Paul (as well as plenty of great songs).
Having said that, no-one, least of all the band, expected things to last more than year or two. Remember Ringo at one time said that when it was all over, he was going to open a chain of hairdressers.
It’s strange that this song doesn’t feel like part of my childhood, because it still seems as familiar to me as so many other Beatles songs.
I’m fairly indifferent to it. It’s a long way from Paul’s worst, but in terms of a song being a B-side it’s definitely inferior to to Love Me Do and deserving of its B status. A saving grace is that it clocks in at under two minutes.
At this stage it is the worst Beatles » Continue Reading.
LOUDspeaker on Books
Kindle Unlimited is a £8/$10 monthly subscription on Amazon that allows you to borrow books to read. The catalogue is extensive but it’s mostly self-published. I have dipped in twice many months apart (it’s easy to cancel). Going over the archived list of my borrowed books I picked out these as the better ones I’ve read. They might interest you.
Tiger Tracks – The Classic Panzer Memoir by Wolfgang Faust (author), Sprech Media (translator) Fascinating first-hand account of the hell of the Eastern front from a German’s point of view. I highly recommend this.
The Last Panther – Slaughter of the Reich – The Halbe Kessel 1945 by Wolfgang Faust (author), Sprech Media (translator) Fascinating first-hand account of the hell of the Eastern front from a German’s point of view. I highly recommend this.
D DAY Through German Eyes – The Hidden Story of June 6th 1944 by Holger Eckhertz (author, editor), Sprech Media (translator) Collected verbal recollections from the German point of view transcribed from interviews conducted in the 60s.
D DAY Through German Eyes – Book 2 – More hidden stories from June 6th 1944 by Holger Eckhertz (author, editor), Sprech Media (translator) Collected verbal » Continue Reading.
Raymond on 1960s football as performance art
In his classic dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell famously had the party apparatchik O’Brien make the following assertion: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” Watching Scottish Premier League football can be a bit like that. It was bad enough when the Old Firm routinely carved things up between them, but since Rangers had their liquidation event in 2012, watching Celtic demolish the opposition has become about as much fun as watching a big rich kid beating up a bunch of poor little kids. The Scottish Cup, at least, has managed to provide some welcome relief from that, with Hibernian, St Johnstone, Hearts and Inverness all winning the trophy in recent years. And this season, once again, the only game that matters is the tie at which one of the so-called provincial clubs will (hopefully) thwart Celtic’s pursuit of the domestic treble.
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Raymond on the sights, the sounds, the smells of a cup-tie down the coast.
For lovers of the old trophy, there can be no more romantic side to watch, surely, than Queen’s Park, the oldest association football club in Scotland and ten times winners of the Scottish Cup. As I drove to the coast to take in their fourth round tie at Ayr United, I was full of the joys of a crisp clear winter’s day and had high hopes for some raw footballing entertainment.
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Colin H on Fairport Convention
The Quest For Roger Burridge: 50 Years of Fairport Convention
Welcome to an Afterword exclusive: an interview with Dave Pegg (bass) and Chris Leslie (vocals, song writing, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, etc.) from Fairport Convention, recorded on Saturday 27 January at the Black Box in Belfast, in between a sound check and the first of two shows in the venue – the second having been added the following afternoon by popular demand.
And speaking of popular demand, Roger Burridge: if you’re out there, get in touch with Dave Pegg – he’s easy to find! (For everyone else wondering what this is all about, read on. Or better still, make a cup of coffee, set aside half an hour, and then read on.)
It’s Fairport Convention’s 50th anniversary this year. I followed the band in the 80s and early 90s, not having been of an age to experience them ‘back in the day’ (the band is older than I am, just). Although I reviewed them several times in newspapers or magazines in the 90s it occurred to me that 2017 is the 30th anniversary of the one time I interviewed them. It would be nice, I thought, » Continue Reading.
Dave Amitri on The Incredible String Band
I’ve taken some guidance from Wikipedia to get some background of The Incredible String Band and it strikes me that they were from a time now over 50 years ago of which I know very little. However they were “discovered” by someone who saw them play live and signed them. The album I’ve listened to 3 times today is their eponymous debut.
The first thing that struck me before I heard a note were the sleeve notes, I literally laughed out loud. I’ll share 1 paragraph ….
“There are three logs, one for each of the incredible string band, and although they look just like any other logs, they were given to the three musicians by a golden wonder potato, who was a very close friend of the magic blackbird”
There is more of the same and a joyful description of each song by Mike Heron, no lyrics, just a stream of consciousness that already sets the scene for what is to follow. I knew what was coming before the needle hit the record. The one for “Oh Lord How Happy I am” should become a daily poem at all secondary schools » Continue Reading.
Raymond on the wee teams dreaming of glory
Several days of cold weather meant that the morning of the third round of the Scottish Cup was a time of anxiety for the roving fan with hopes of taking in a game. I had picked five possible venues within reasonable driving distance, but overnight frost meant that pitch inspections were taking place at most of them. As information about postponements started to filter through, I was relieved to discover that perhaps the most intriguing tie -Bonnyrigg Rose versus Dumbarton- was going ahead. The Bonnyrigg twitter feed posted this simple and joyous message shortly after completion of their pitch inspection:
“We are … ON!!!! To the bodies that were here yesterday and in darkness this morning – Legends.”
Colin H on Big Pete Deuchar and John McLaughlin
In 2014, when my book on John McLaughlin was published, there was a lot of material that, for reasons of space, had been either edited out of or deliberately set aside from the main text for inclusion as bonus material in the ebook edition – mostly stand-alone chapters and appendices. One such was a short chapter on the enigmatic Big Pete Deuchar, a trad jazz bulldozer who has the perhaps unlikely distinction of being John McLaughlin’s first bandleader/employer.
During the period of working on the book I was stretched in several directions, trying to cover john’s various adventures in Britain, mainland Europe and eventually America between 1958-75, slipping with often minimal trace between the jazz, R&B, soul, pop sessions, free jazz and rock worlds of the time. The one area of research that was squeezed the most was the Big Pete era. When you live in Belfast, trips to London to access period print resources have to start with your highest priorities – it’s all time and money. I can recall a last, rather frantic day at the British Library during my last research trip scanning at speed through 1958-59 editions » Continue Reading.
Raymond on the ruminations of a Tragic Football Tourist
For the second round of the Scottish Cup, I decided to head to Annan to watch the home side take on East Stirlingshire. My extensive pre-match research revealed that these clubs had something remarkable in common, in that each have endured a single ‘ghost’ season when they disappeared off the football map.
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DrJ on DrJ on the new 2CD reissues of all seven Crowded House albums
By the summer of 1985, Neil Finn was 27 and already he was an old soul. For eight years he had been in Split Enz: He had been around the world, had written their biggest hit, had felt their diminishing returns and finally he orchestrated the band’s dissolution. He was also married with a baby. Split Enz had never been his band though, it had belonged to his older brother Tim.
So that summer he decamped to LA with a record deal for a new band pulled from the end of the Enz and initially called The Mullanes. While playing in Chinese restaurants and with everyone living in the one crowded house, á la The Monkees, they recorded a debut album with producer Mitchell Froom. They also figured out what their new name should be.
Their debut album, Crowded House, came out in 1986 and in a parallel universe it would live alongside earnest but less well-regarded contemporaries like Icehouse and Burgeous Tagg: Vaguely remembered by some, fondly remembered by a few. Yet here we are thirty years later with this deluxe 2CD reissue leading » Continue Reading.
Raymond on the mystery and wonder of the Scottish Cup.
When the draw for the first round proper of the Scottish Cup was made, I drew up a wish list of the ties I fancied attending. As a football tourist with no fixed loyalties, my plan for this year’s competition is to visit some grounds and, perhaps, some places I’ve never visited before. A number of intriguing possibilities presented themselves, but events conspired against me. The weekend of those first round ties coincided with my wedding anniversary and my wife had selfishly booked a weekend abroad to celebrate. Not only did she expect me to go with her, she could not be persuaded that a visit to Deveronvale, Galashiels or Inverness to watch a first round Scottish Cup tie would surpass any of the supposed delights to be found abroad.
Astonishing, I know.
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Tiggerlion on These Dreams Will Never Sleep: Best Of 1976-2015
Graham Parker has enjoyed a forty year career that can be broadly divided into five parts: establishing his reputation in the seventies, earning a shilling in America during the eighties, domesticity in the nineties, creative resurgence of the noughties and The Rumour reunion in the teenies.
I first encountered him supporting Thin Lizzy on their Jailbreak tour in 1976. He cut a scrawny figure in The Stadium’s lights, wearing T-shirt, suit, trainers and his trademark shades. Even then, he sang with passion, the effort straining his sinews and beading his large forehead with sweat. I thought I could see his brain pulsing. He sang with the same commitment as Otis Redding or early seventies Van Morrison. The band played tight soulful rock. The horn section rocked soul. I’d seen Dr. Feelgood the year before and felt Graham Parker and The Rumour were just as good.
During that year, he released two albums, Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment. His manager was Dave Robinson, who later founded Stiff Records. Robinson gathered together the finest pub rock musicians he knew, including Brinsley Schwarz, to form The Rumour. Nick Lowe produced the debut and » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Atomic Rooster
The image above is the inner gatefold of Rooster’s third and best album, ‘In Hearing Of…’, released in 1971. It was their only LP to feature singer Pete French. In the (very accurate) caricature are Vince Crane (organ), Johnn Cann (guitar), Paul Hammond (drums) and Pete French. But before the album came out, that would all change.
I wrote the text below as a note to an expanded CD reissue of the album in 2004. Now that Pete and guitarist Steve Bolton (who joined to tour the album and would record on the next one) have revived Rooster with Jean Crane’s blessing, I thought it might be of interest. If Pete get’s back to me, I’ll print a new interview on all things Rooster in 2016.
In Hearing Of… Atomic Rooster
Having set out their progressive rock stall in 1970 with an ambitious first album – doomy lyrics and pastoral vibes with virtuoso workouts from a singular trio of bass/flute, drums and keyboards – and having moved onwards and upwards in first half of 1971 with two British hit singles and the mercilessly focused hard rock of Death Walks Behind You, Atomic » Continue Reading.