Tuesday, 28 February 2017
I had scores of these science fiction novels as a kid in the late 70s and 80s. The Bruce Pennington art on the covers seemed overblown and semi-ridiculous then, as a kid, and more so now but they have a kitsch value I quite like again now. Retro-futurism.
Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh are currently encouraging us to listen to Erick Legrand. Legrand has been a big influence on the sound of the Woodleigh Research Facility. Erick died in 2011 and I don't know too much about him but his album Second Machine From The Sun (which really needs a Bruce Pennington cover like those above) is on Bandcamp and may be about to get a vinyl release. The cd/download can be yours for £7.00. It's in an electronic, soundtrack, film music area and worth giving some ear time too.
Monday, 27 February 2017
I need something breezy and colourful to kickstart Monday so this will do very nicely- new luscious cosmic pop from Jane Weaver that makes it feel like spring has sprung (even though it clearly hasn't). Her Silver Globe album from 2014 was a giddy delight, a folky voice filtered through analogue electronics and glitter. This new one sounds just as good. An album called Modern Kosmology is out on May 19th (which coincidentally is my birthday).
Sunday, 26 February 2017
Back to the Velvets for the Sabbath. In days of yore (the late 80s) before the internet, before cds (for me at least, I didn't start buying cds until the mid/late 90s), before re-issues and bands reforming, box sets with alternate takes and full live sets, there was precious little to go off with The Velvet Underground. You had the four studio albums (if you could find them), the two live albums (Max's Kansas City and 1969), the VU and Another View albums and a book by Victor Bockris (Uptight; The Story of The Velvet Underground). These were not just records and a book, they were portals to another world. It was a world that was gone, it did not exist anymore (New York, the late 1960s). Lou Reed had a patchy solo career so there were occasional interviews but the heritage rock press did not exist either so there was a dearth of information. What you knew about the group came from Bockris' text, the handful of pictures in the book, the rumour and talk of like minded people and the songs themselves.
1968's White Light/White Heat album was their most obtuse and difficult album, a rejection of everyone who didn't buy their first album. Here She Comes Now and I Heard Her Call My Name are the closest to conventional guitar songs but wrapped and covered in feedback. The Gift was a spoken word/avant garde exploration with stereo sound. Lady Godiva's Operation had some of Lou's most transgressive lyrics.Sister Ray was a one take song, seventeen minutes of legend, covered by New Order, a story of transvestites, sailors and drug dealers. No bass guitar. Distorted organ. Heady stuff. And the title track (two versions below, from a 7" single re-issue), a statement of intent, a song about speed. This song and Sister Ray are the ones that are 'easiest' to copy when you're learning to play the guitar. Pick two chords and bash away until you're done. White heat.
White Light/White Heat 1
White Light/White Heat 2
Saturday, 25 February 2017
A bumper Andrew Weatherall post for Saturday, four hours of it. Firstly, the latest Music's Not For Everyone, a week late but none the worse for it. Towards the end there's a new remix from Lord Sabre that will be the top of a few shopping lists.
During last year Weatherall and cohorts were forced to move out of the East London bunker complex he'd occupied for twenty years and into new accommodation. As part of the move mountains of vinyl were gone through. Weatherall writes "After de-commissioning the Axis bunker I decided to purge and re-acquaint. The purge took the form of selling 5,000 records and the acquaintance involved listening and compiling with the result being 'M.N.F.E. (The R.G.C. Archive Editions)'.
So what we have now is a monthly online archive hour from the vaults of Rotters Golf Club. Volume One takes in Gene Vincent, Prince Far I, The Durutti Column, Jackie Levan, Fuxa, Charlie Rich and the theme tune from The Sweeney...
Volume 2 has more of the same eclectic mix including Syd Barrett, PiL, Bo Diddley, La Dusseldorf, The Cramps, The People's Temple, John Cale...
The move out of Shoreditch wasn't without its pain. Again, in his own words... 'It was a war that saw a fresh atrocity every day. A Ted Baker shop opening here, corporate "street art" appearing there. Luxury apartments springing up every fucking where.'
Friday, 24 February 2017
A couple of weeks ago Echorich wrote an A Certain Ratio imaginary compilation album for The Vinyl Villain, a ten song ACR primer. I was going to do it but was slower off the mark than Echorich. Then I thought about just sending in an ep's worth as an extra, a Sextet maybe, but when I thought about it, it was easy to find another ten songs from ACR's rich and varied back catalogue. So my ACR:ICA was posted at The Vinyl Villain yesterday. You can find it here. One of the things mine and Echorich's versions show collectively and was commented on by JTFL is how far 'the band morphed over time but still sounded like themselves'. They remain very underrated and outside certain circles a very unknown group but they are much loved- and were/are musically significant too.
Your Blue Eyes was a 1989 single and opened the major label album Good Together. It is classy Mancunian pop. This vinyl rip has a couple of seconds of wonderful crackle before the song starts. As we all know, life has surface noise.
Your Blue Eyes
Thursday, 23 February 2017
One of my brethren is of the opinion that most of what I post here is good but my main open goal, shot-in-the-foot, self inflicted wound and weakness is Dreadzone. Which mystifies me a bit. They have form (a string of albums packed with good tunes covering reggae, dub, roots, techno and dance). They have background and authenticity (Big Audio Dynamite's rhythm section became Dreadzone). Their live shows are the stuff of legend. So enough Sep, and to paraphrase many an early 90s indie group, 'I just post what I like here and if anyone else likes it, it's a bonus'. On with the Dreadzone.
The latest Dreadzone album, Dread Times, is out now and was preceded by this single, a bass heavy, British roots reggae bouncer, recorded at Mick Jones' studio. The title of the album and its lyrical concerns are very 2017 and with its variety of guest vocalists- Don Letts, ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One, and Lena Cullen- this is very much modern West London reggae, best played loud with a full bottom end. At the end of album opener Rootsman a voice intones 'roots music can never die'- something they seem to prove with every release.
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
I don't know where this photo of Mick Jones comes from (or where I got it for that matter)- long hair, floral shirt, red trousers all makes it post Clash I think. This curio came my way via email recently too from old friend/reader Dub Robots. 7 Years was a Big Audio Dynamite demo from 1988 just Mick, drum machine and spare guitar. Someone called IndieGround and Heston have re-imagined it adding samples, instruments and more voices and turned it into a nicely B.A.D. piece of work, totally unofficial but rather good. There's a link on the Youtube page if you want a download version.
There are multiple B.A.D. bootlegs available out in the internet, The B.A.D. Files, running up from Volume 1 through to 9, containing all kinds of odds and ends. This, if you're interested, is Mick's original demo of 7 Years.
7 Years (Original Demo)
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Eat Lights Become Lights have a new one out soon. Back in 2014 they released Into Forever which included this beautiful, stargazing ten minute album closer. A lot of their output is krautrock inspired, busy mechanical rhythms and psychey drones. This one is celestial and introspective and could be double the length and not get boring
Monday, 20 February 2017
I found this the other day on Twitter. Admittedly the photo drew me in first but the music is well worth your attention if you're after something new. JGrrey is from South London and has a six track ep out now, a blend of hazy soul and something modern. I'm particularly enjoying the voice and echo trumpet versus beats on Your GF Can't Kick It and the r 'n'b-isms of L.O.V.E. This all sounds really now.
Sunday, 19 February 2017
Not content with giving us an Andrew Weatherall radio show every month NTS Radio have now given David Holmes a two hour window to broadcast in. If you got Holmes' Late Night Tales album last year you'll have an idea of where he's at at the moment. God's Waiting Room takes in soundtracks, library recordings, psych, rock 'n' roll and other recordings from the further extremities of a man's record collection. No tracklist though so your guess in many cases is as good as mine. In fact your guess may be better than mine.
Saturday, 18 February 2017
If you're after something new and a tad unsettling then you could do worse than have a look at this. Harvey Sharman Dunn had an old upright piano, much loved but knackered. It had to go but before it did he recorded the sound of all the keys (some in tune, some less so). He's now used those samples, decorated and distorted them, to create an album called Tales From The Ghost Piano which is pretty in places, spooky in others and downright freaked out elsewhere.
It is free/pay what you want from Bandcamp. Get it here.
Harvey has also included a cover of Sparklehorse's It's A Wonderful Life, one of the bleakest songs I've ever enjoyed.
Friday, 17 February 2017
I was watching a programme about India recently and this song, Ananda Shankar's sitar version of Jumpin' Jack Flash was playing in the background. My first reaction was 'all those thousands of songs played by Indian musicians and they have to choose a Stones cover, bah humbug, grumble grumble etc'. But then I checked myself and thought 'well, Ananda Shankar was a Bengali musician so there is that' and 'the song is a magnificent blast so stop being stupid'. I think I first became aware of it thanks to David Holmes' Essential Selection where it fitted in perfectly with that mid 90s pick 'n' mix aesthetic, rock and roll and funk and soul and everything else too.
Jumpin' Jack Flash
Thursday, 16 February 2017
If you needed another reason to order Timothy J Fairplay's debut album Where Is The Champion? this has just been put up, a fast moving and intense synth trip. The video, while looking like a computer game, is made up of real life footage.
The video for Autoduel is more like one of the games in those the coin operated, arcade games machines. There was a car stereo fitters at the top of the road where I grew up, Transound. We'd happily feed the machines with 10 pence pieces 'til we ran out while 1980s cars got fitted out with state of the art sound systems. The music here sounds like a drive round town long after dark.
The advert for Moon War above, a 1981 arcade game, knows exactly what younger teenage boys (video games most enthusiastic players) were/are interested in.
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
How many Moon Duo albums does one need? By my count the Portland, Oregon pair have put out four in seven years and I like them all, especially 2015's Shadow Of The Sun. The latest, Occult Architecture Vol 1, is part one of a two part set, one doing darkness and the second light. Part of me thought my bank balance could probably do without another two Moon Duo albums. Do I really need any more Moon Duo? And then I listened to Cold Fear. Two chord fuzz drenched motorik bliss. I'm in.
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Happy Valentine's Day lovebirds. Julian Cope's here with a song for all the lovers, opening with a crystal clear garage guitar riff and 'walking round with my very best friend, she looks good- fine to me, I'm in love with my very best friend.'
Copey played Manchester on Friday night and I didn't go which was stupid of me. I saw it advertised ages ago, didn't get tickets, forgot about it and then missed out. And by all accounts he was very, very good.
Monday, 13 February 2017
As various sites and magazines have noted in the last two days Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works is now twenty five years old. How something so progressive and futuristic can be quarter of a century old is just one of those headspinners you have to live with. Pick anything from its twelve tracks at random and find music bewilderingly beautiful that sounds like nothing else made between 1985 and 1992, music it is impossible to get tired of. Like this one...
Someone on Youtube has set opener Xtal against these visuals creating a juxtaposition nightmare, beauty and horror.
Sunday, 12 February 2017
This live set from Daniel Avery has just come online, recorded on a Sunday evening at London's Brilliant Corners. This isn't the taut and intense techno he's known for but an hour and a half of slowness, shoegaze and ambient- Fuxa, Michael Rother, My Bloody Valentine, early New Order and Autechre included.
I could get into a pattern of posting something by The Velvet Underground every Sunday if I'm not careful. One of the wonders of 1984s lost Velvet Underground songs album V.U. was Foggy Notion, recorded in May 1969, with the twin guitars of Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed achieving some kind of nirvana, Lou's rythm and Sterling's lead. When I hear it I can easily think there is no finer sound and they make it sound so simple. The lyrics are also a late period peak...
Saturday, 11 February 2017
A couple of years ago Andrew Weatherall remixed Aussie duo Jagwar Ma's Come Save Me, spinning their dance pop into an early 90s indie-dance direction.
Come Save Me (Weatherall Remix)
He's had another go at them this time around, with this ten minute cosmic, synthed out version of Give Me A Reason complete with robot voices. It's been given the magnificent new title of Weatherall Meets Johnnie Two Heaters Uptown Part 1. Which leads me to speculate that there will also be a Part 2.
And if you can clear your diary for a couple of hours this mix of the man himself playing Leftorium in Brussels in the middle of January should provide some musical thrills and spills.
Friday, 10 February 2017
My week of protest songs finishes with a double header. First up, Ian Brown and his 2007 single Illegal Attacks, a blistering tirade against the US and British invasion of Iraq set to a hip hop beat and sweeping strings. The Stone Roses had form in lyrical revolution- Bye Bye Badman referenced the Paris '68 events, Elizabeth My Dear fantasised about the death of Elizabeth II and they often mentioned politics in interviews during their '89-90 heyday. That's Sinead O'Connor on backing vocals.
At the other end of the scale from Mr Brown in terms of vocal ability and formation dancing is Beyonce. During last year's Superbowl she ruffled feathers by turning up with her dancers dressed as Black Panthers.
Co-written by Kendrick Lamar Freedom, from last year's Lemonade album (an album shot through with protest), is this slice of righteous psychedelic soul led by wheezy organ, shouting loud that Black Lives Matter.
Thursday, 9 February 2017
To call M.I.A. a political artist is to underplay things a little. Equally 2010's Born Free is less a protest song, more an insurrection, built around clamorous beat, a distorted two note Suicide sample and Maya's chanted vocal.
The video that accompanied it was a nine minute film depicting the genocide of red haired people, widely seen as standing in for the treatment of Tamil men in Sri Lanka. It's here. But you'll want to see this too, live on the Late Show with David Letterman, a revolutionary vanguard of M.I.A.s, backing singers in burqas and Martin Rev from Suicide beating up the keyboard. That's how you do TV performance.
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
One of the best news photographs of the last few years coupled with one of the best call to arms of the last the last decade and a bit (on checking I discovered this song came out in 2006 so just over a decade ago). Apologies to one of my blogging friends Mr CC who posted this fairly recently at his place but it fits in with my last two posts.
Gossip's righteous and riotous indie-punk with a dash of disco hit was written to protest about civil rights and George W Bush's amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in the USA. It was produced by Guy Picciotto who as a member of Fugazi knows a thing or two about punk, protest and conformity. This song sounds good loud.
Standing In The Way Of Control
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Here's another protest song. Jarvis wrote this while watching the Live 8 spectacle on TV almost a decade ago. He starts out with some globalisation issues...
Now the working classes are obsolete
They are surplus to society's needs
So let 'em all kill each other
And get it made overseas
But he also saves some special bile for the people we all know at the local level...
Oh, feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails
Find a school near the top of the league
In theory, I respect your right to exist
I will kill you if you move in next to me
Ah, it stinks, it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust
Extra marks for getting the word 'anthropological' in there.
Then he aims for business and the political parties that prioritise it over people...
The free market is perfectly natural
Do you think that I'm some kind of dummy?
It's the ideal way to order the world
Fuck the morals, does it make any money?
And Jarvis' conclusion in the chorus is truer now than it was back in 2008. All together now...
Running The World
Monday, 6 February 2017
Maybe we're about to enter a new age of the protest song. I've seen people say there aren't any good protest songs from recent years but I think there have been a fair few that rank alongside the protest songs of the past.
I've posted this one before but it's worth repeating. Steve Mason's loose limbed indie plus righteous anger makes Fight Them Back pretty irresistible. I think he's withdrawn a bit in interviews from the threat of the chorus, 'get up and fight them back, a fist, a boot and a baseball bat' but the intent was there when recorded- and we've all seen the 'debate' about punching Nazis I'm sure (conclusion? They're Nazis, punch them). The vocal samples at the end are David Icke and Tony Blair respectively, neither of whom are men I'd particularly want to spend much time with. But no mistake this is a tune to march to.
Fight Them Back
Sunday, 5 February 2017
I like this photo of the early incarnation of The Velvet Underground, mainly because it's in colour. The banana period Velvets are usually in stark black and white, occasionally with some of Andy Warhol's silver balloons. This picture punctures that and makes them something else.
This song is almost without equal. Not just in their back catalogue but in anyone's. It's so out there- the drone and detuned piano are woozy and discordant, the guitar is scratchy and spindly, the drum thuds and then there's Nico's double tracked vocal, the blank and sneery lyrics about a party girl. Lyrics sung behind her back, straight out of Warhol's amphetamine psychosis Factory. Jon Savage describes it as coming at the listener sideways which makes sense. Why they released as a single in 1966 makes little sense at all, other than as a statement of 'they'll never play this on the radio'.
All Tomorrow's Parties
In 2006 John Cale said "The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her", which makes it human and sad.
It's a song that almost dares bands to cover it, inviting them into the trap, taunting them. Japan got away with it, adding synths, neon and pastels and some drama.
Saturday, 4 February 2017
I got back from London last night, three days covering many miles on foot and also by tube. I took this shot in an underground station and shockingly can't remember which one and getting a shot like this is pretty easy but I like the metals and the greys, the light at the entrance and the graffiti on the step.
This is one of those minimal techno/tech-house records that brings in elements one by one, layering machine sounds in waves, building effortlessly. When the synth part comes in just before the middle it's all a bit of a headrush. Underground music. Tube music.
Falling Up (Carl Craig Remix)
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
I'm off to the capital, that London, for a couple of days, on a school trip. I've done this trip several times before and it's always a good one, marshalling some sixth formers round the British Museum, Imperial War Museum and various other sights, plenty of urban walking with a surprise round every corner. So there'll be nothing here until I'm back. See you all at the weekend. And to send me on my way, how about a dub version of London Calling by a Swiss white reggae band? It is much better than that sounds.