Ahh_Bisto on Neo-Psychedelia: The 1980s Wormhole Part 1
Do you remember the first time you listened to music on headphones?
Ahh_Bisto on Neo-Psychedelia: The 1980s Wormhole Part 1
Do you remember the first time you listened to music on headphones?
Raymond on How not to write a song for Shania Twain
A few years ago, I was asked to provide some material for an up-and-coming young female country singer. A friend in the business who was familiar with my writing style (I was going to use the phrase ‘writing prowess’ there, but that would have been a bit of an exaggeration) thought that I might have some songs which -given the right treatment- could have worked for this particular vocalist. My name was passed to the singer’s manager, who also happened to be her mother. After a perfunctory phone call (“I’ve been told you write songs. We’re looking for songs”), an appointment was made for us to meet. I packed my guitar and notebook and drove out to a big house in the country, about a mile and half from the middle of nowhere.
(the rest of this article will hopefully follow below)
Raymond on Some advice on how to curate your tragic music collection
A few weeks ago, I got involved in a conversation with some friends about what to do with our old vinyl and CD collections, the assumption being that -in the digital age- nobody really wanted to keep hard copies of anything anymore. I begged to differ, because I’m one of those sad folk who does want to keep hard copies. I like having products to hold, look at, read, smell and –most of all- file. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a sizable music collection will have to devise an efficient filing system. CDs, for instance, should always be displayed in alphabetical order, preferably in the room in which you do your listening. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury for my own collection, which resides in the living room, wherein other members my family are to be found, usually watching something they call ‘the television’. Due to some legal mumbo-jumbo that I don’t understand, I am not allowed into this room without giving written notice, but at least I know that when I fancy listening to an old CD, my meticulously-curated display » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Bill Leader
One of my ideas when I began writing The Wheels Of The World: 300 Years Of Irish Uilleann Pipers was to include a chapter or appendix on the Irish music aspect of the career of legendary English engineer/producer Bill Leader. Uniquely, he recorded several of the most significant figures in 20th century uilleann piping and during a key point in its history, when it was becoming visible to non-specialist listeners outside of Ireland.
As the book grew in size and scope, however, something had to give and I decided that a full chapter on Bill had to go. Much of the material specific to his recordings with pipers and a little on his general career was used elsewhere in the book (mostly in chapters on Finbar Furey, Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy and Liam O’Flynn). But a draft of the planned Bill Leader chapter was two-thirds complete and I’ve finished it off, after a fashion, to present it here for the enjoyment, I hope, of Afterworders.
I should also mention that Mike Butler is currently working on a Bill Leader biography and has already created an amazing illustrated Leader discography online at: http://www.dyversemusic.com/2013/01/bill-leader-discography.html
Bill Leader: » Continue Reading.
Sewer Robot on The line that separates trickery from deceit.
In the first wave of the public’s fascination with Uri Geller, he was invited to appear on America’s biggest stage, The Johnny Carson Show. Carson was skeptical about Geller’s abilities and asked his friend James Randi how he should prepare for the young Israeli’s appearance. Randi was a well-known magician (performing as The Amazing Randi) who -like his hero Houdini – specialised in escapology. And like Houdini before him, he was also a dedicated debunker of psychics and others who would not admit to the public that their magic was not real. Magicians make their living by deceiving us, but implicit in the deal is an understanding that we are being fooled. They take great pride in the ingenuity and skill that go into their tricks. Psychics, by and large, present themselves as bona fide, and this rankles with most magicians. Randi instructed Carson’s people how to prepare Geller’s props and told them to ensure none of Geller’s people were able to interfere with them. Confronted on live television with spoons he had not previously touched, Geller admitted he wasn’t feeling “strong” that night, protesting he felt he was being » Continue Reading.
moseleymoles on A brief note about the liner note
If the mp3 sounded the death knell for the Liner Note, the era of streaming has well and truly nailed the coffin down and shovelled the earth over. The idea that there might be some writing alongside the track(s) seems a positively antediluvian notion. So, before its gravestone mosses over, let’s offer a brief thought for the humble Liner Note.
The first records had no truck with writing either. Instead the record sleeve was valuable billboard real estate that could be used to shift other catalogue items, the record player to play your new disc on, or other stuff entirely. This notion lived on into the early eighties in the ‘Nice Price’ range, when the inner sleeve showed you how you could add most of the Alan Parsons Project back catalogue to your collection at a speical low price.
The liner note started as an extension of advertising copy – written by the admen at the label to persuade you to take it home as you stood there staring at the back of the album in the record shop. Here’s the note for the first Bob Dylan album:
Columbia records is » Continue Reading.
H.P. Saucecraft on Driving For Your Life In Rural Thailand
The Thais are not the worst drivers in the world, although they seem keen to give that impression.
They’re not even the worst in South East Asia; the feeling that Vietnamese road users are out to kill you is not without foundation, and the Cambodian understanding of the rules of the road is even sketchier than the Thai – going offroad through a jungle carpeted with landmines can sometimes seem the safer option in a country where road users on the wrong side of the road have precedence. Lao PDR only has one road, but abundance of good luck and an almost supernatural attentiveness is required to get from one end to the other. Or even across.
Thai drivers have a 360 degree blind spot. They will cheerfully drift across lanes, pull out, reverse, overtake and slew to a halt with zero awareness of other road users. Mirrors (in cars or on bikes) are used exclusively as personal grooming aids, allowing minute inspection of complexion flaws while parked in front of the Seven or speeding across an intersection. Why on earth would you want to look where you’ve been? » Continue Reading.
Raymond on The science of male grooming is far from being ‘settled’.
During a recent visit to a Turkish barber, I made a startling discovery which I hope may lead to me being recognised as having made a significant contribution to the science of grooming. Like most folk, I believed that the science had been more or less settled since the mid-seventies, when Jorge Silva’s ground-breaking ‘The hermeneutics of grooming’ was published. Silva’s research established that there were six recognisable stages on the ‘male haircut’ continuum:
Passive → Larval → Peacock → Business → Utilitarian → Topiary
The ‘passive’ phase encompasses the childhood years, when the male has no awareness of his hair and all responsibilities for grooming fall upon his mother. The second (or ‘larval’) phase begins when the young male becomes self-conscious and is, as Silva puts it, ‘quite fussy’ about his appearance. Stage three (the peacock phase) has been the subject of most academic attention. Gilligan and Porter’s influential paper on ‘The Hair Delusion’ (Oxford Tonsorial Review, 1991) observed that, during the peacock phase, a young man “may spend as much as one third of his income on hair products and spend as much as one » Continue Reading.
moseleymoles on Blue Oyster Cult
One of the joys of the old place (both of them now) was the threads in which a slightly less celebrated act was given a thorough airing in a thread dedicated to them. In that spirit here’s my take on an act that if they ever had their due, have now slipped well off the radar. So welcome to the Blue Oyster Cult thread and if you’ve never heard anything by the Cult beyond Don’t Fear The Reaper don’t be afraid..
BOC started in the late sixties as an American answer to the emerging heavy metal/hard rock acts from the UK, particularly Black Sabbath. Their first three albums: BOC, Tyranny and Mutation, and Secret Treaties, mine a fairly conventional rock sound – enlivened by Donald ‘Buck’ Dharma’s guitar and lyrics that mined mysticism, World War Two and arcane mythology amongst others.
After building up their reputation as a hot live act, their phase as top-notch album-sellers started with the live album On Your Feet or On Your Knees, and two subsequent studio albums, Agents of Fortune and Spectres. These albums saw their sound coming into focus and the airing of a slew of their best-know » Continue Reading.
Junglejim on How far is too far?
Enjoyed the movie Whiplash, excellent screenplay, direction and performances, and am curious on the thoughts of the Massive on what I took to be its central question: how far or can or should one go in the pursuit of excellence and whether the price paid is worth it, particularly in the field of music.
Can a mentor justify pushing a pupil to absolute breaking point in attempting to achieve ‘perfection’? Few would question this motivational approach in sports training ( particularly in endurance events), but in music? especially the branch of music featured in the film, with its unique history? And does technical prowess offer any hope of worthwhile output?
I was also taken with the fact that it centres on a jazz drummer, aspiring to the technical heights of Buddy Rich. Rich has an interesting place on the pantheon on drumming, and jazz specifically. I know nobody who questions his preeminent ability and there’s no shortage of available footage that leaves one thoroughly impressed, but I also don’t know any one who likes jazz that actually listens to his music or would put any of his albums in their personal top 10s » Continue Reading.
moseleymoles on A short introduction to some East Coast writers of the eighties
Picking up Donna Tartt’s latest novel The Goldfinch at a local charity shop got me thinking about how, while I’ve lived out my life through new wave, goth, acid house, britpop – literature isn’t quite like that. Movements take decades to crystallise rather than months. But there was a group of young American writers who resembled if not a group, then a loose scene – those described as ‘the Literary Brat Pack’ in the mid-eighties whose image and much of its writing drew heavily from the music and creative scene of New York. They were young, wore shades after dark, listened to music, went to clubs, took drugs and wrote about…mainly other people who were young, wore shades etc…
Tartt was famously at Bennington, an exclusive East Coast college with Bret Easton Ellis in the early eighties as was Jonathan Lethem. Ellis became famously associated on the New York party scene with Jay McInery. Add Tama Janowitz and you have five writers whose work all features heavily on my shelves.
As an impressionable teenager and avid reader these writers – many of whom wrote debut novels set » Continue Reading.
Sewer Robot on Untangling Reality and Fiction
*Contains spoilers for all titles in bold. And, perhaps, for the existence of Santa*.
“I am afraid sir, you have a rather weak grasp of reality”. So speaks Jonathan Pryce during the opening scene of Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen. The man he is addressing has disrupted a play recounting Munchausen’s fantastical exploits while claiming to be the real Baron himself. Thus a film set in “The Age Of Reason… somewhere in Europe… Wednesday” portraying a theatrical production of the tall tales of a fictional character whose audience includes people wounded from the very real siege bombing taking place outside the theatre is hijacked by the same legendary fictional character (who was, in fact, based on a real person). The Baron goes on to explain (in flashback, with the actors from the theatre playing their adopted roles) how the siege was all his doing – a story so far-fetched only young Sally Salt believes any of it. Somehow the magic of Gilliam movie logic buttresses the Baron’s shaky story, but how strong a grasp on reality do any of us have? Oprah Winfrey’s autobiography is called “What I Know For Sure” » Continue Reading.
todayoutof10 on Fifty Shades – Christian Grey is ready for us. But are we ready for him…?
As I booked my ticket to see Fifty Shades of Grey, I was very much looking forward to my date with Christian Grey. I had been left disappointed by our first encounter and was eager to find out if our second meeting would be an improvement. I had reason to believe this would be the case.
I was late to the Fifty Shades party, having bought the book and its two sequels long enough after they had become a sensation to expect a cracker of a read. Finding the idea interesting, I was eager to immerse myself in a story that I expected to be emotionally charged, erotic and pretty gripping. In my head, I was already conjuring the developing relationship between the troubled man and the sexually naive young woman and looked forward to how it would play out in word form. Unfortunately, the books disappointed. So much so, that I gave up part way through the second novel. For me, a good book will put flesh on the bones of the characters I am imagining, helping me develop the story » Continue Reading.
Raymond on Pathologising the intellectual opposition
I’ve just finished reading ‘Eminent Hipsters’, Donald Fagen’s erudite and witty homage to his favourite musicians of the 1950s and ’60s. I’m not going to review the book, but something in it really caught my eye and I’m compelled to pass comment. Some of my friends (particularly those who have, over the years, been bored rigid by my missionary zeal), are aware of my admiration and love for Donald’s work, both as a solo artist and as part of Steely Dan. I was too young to appreciate ‘The Dan’ when they were in their prime; my love affair with their music only started after a friend made me a compilation tape back in 1989. He knew that I was a big fan of the Scottish pop outfit Danny Wilson and, as he handed me the tape, said: “If you like Danny Wilson, just wait until you hear this”. It was the start of a love affair which endures to this day. Indeed, so great is my fan-boy love for this band that when, after a twenty year hiatus, they released their comeback album ‘Two against nature’, I took the day off work just to » Continue Reading.
madfox on Britpop
AN ACCIDENTAL CONVERGENCE OF NOSTALGIA
How Suede, Blur, Oasis and Pulp came to define the UK’s youth-driven commercial music scene in the 1990s
“Britpop” is a term commonly used to group together up to a dozen musical acts which emerged in the UK in the early years of the 1990s and which would reach their creative and commercial peaks later that decade.
It’s tempting to regard these bands – chief among them Suede, Blur, Oasis and Pulp – as being part of some coherent movement. But this was not really the case: on closer inspection, there are significant differences in the musical and lyrical styles of each band, and in the social backgrounds, political interests and cultural fashions attached to them. Indeed, the key players could be seen to represent several of British popular music’s favourite genres from the past – 1960s beat, 1970s glam and pub rock, 1980s art-school pop – while a number of the also-rans dipped their toes in surf, folk rock and punk.
Britpop is a collection of divergent bands who just happened to become active or achieve recognition around the same time – when the extreme poles of grunge and rave » Continue Reading.
Colin H on Quintessence
I see a yawning chasm marked ‘Features’ that needs to be populated. Here’s a piece I wrote on Quintessence which appeared last year in ‘Record Collector’…
Some bands struggle for years for attention, but not Quintessence. Within weeks of forming, in April 1969, they were a word of mouth sensation. Chris Blackwell and Muff Winwood of Island Records dropped into a rehearsal with a chequebook and an artistic-freedom guarantee. Sorted. Quintessence were huge on the European live scene for three years and, in retrospect, were the last great hurrah of ‘the sixties’. By mid 1972, after four albums and two singles, the original six members had split in two – recording one more album each, as Quintessence and Kala respectively, before all involved slipped into obscurity as swiftly as they had appeared.
Quintessence, like Hawkwind, Marc Bolan and the Third Ear Band, were a product of London’s Ladbroke Grove scene, but few were locals.
Ron ‘Raja Ram’ Rothfield, an Australian conservatoire and jazz trained flautist, had met American bassist Richard ‘Shambhu Babaji’ Vaughan in Greece, both moving to London in 1968. Phil ‘Shiva’ Jones, also Australian, had recorded downunder as Phil Jones & » Continue Reading.
Tim_Admin2 on Gerry Rafferty
Rafferty left St. Mirin’s Academy in 1963. He worked in a butcher’s shop, as a civil service clerk, and in a shoe shop, although as he noted in a later interview: “But there was never anything else for me but music. I never intended making a career out of any of the jobs I did.” On weekends he and a schoolfriend, future Stealers Wheel collaborator Joe Egan, played in a local group named The Mavericks, mainly covering chart songs by groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the mid 1960s Rafferty earned money, for a time, busking on the London Underground. In 1966, Rafferty and Egan were members of the band The Fifth Column. The group released the single “Benjamin Day”/”There’s Nobody Here” (Columbia 8068), but it was not a commercial success. The Humblebums/Stealers Wheel
In 1969 Rafferty became the third member of an existing folk-pop ensemble The Humblebums composed of future comedian Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey. Harvey left shortly afterwards, and Rafferty and Connolly continued as a duo, recording two albums for Transatlantic Records. A 1970 gig at the Royal Festival Hall, supporting Fotheringay with Nick Drake, earned a positive review » Continue Reading.