Thursday, 30 September 2010

Single Review


Jamie WoonNight Air (Ramadanman Refix)
Night Air by Jamie Woon is the first release of his new album and with this new remix (or Refix) by Ramadanman we are shown 2 sides of his personality, this version is much more in the vein of early Massive Attack and Trip-Hop.

The basic track is kept simple with just stuttering drums and echo laden treated keys to help cushion his voice. I can see a comparison with Kid A era Radiohead although that's mainly through production trade-marks rather than any vocal or song writing (very similar keyboard stabs to “Idioteque”. A pretty relaxed production especially when compared with the original version which I believe will be the A-Side to this remix. On repeat listening there seems to be a lot of quiet time where I assume other songs would be mixed although as a solo piece sounds a little too empty and lacking in idea's.

Jamie Woon is definitely still one to watch on the London circuit (recent support act's have included Amy Winehouse) as his solo show with guitar and minimal line up shows his talent and songsmith skills, unfortunately this isn't the best setting for his own style of music and soul infused vocals. The original recording from which this was taken is better in ever respect with a straight pop hook and overall better production and personality. Less is more, except in this case. To little too late.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Managed to get my first piece published on a music website...

thank you Musicvita.com


www.musicvita.com/music-freak/daily-stuff/6535-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-nominations.html

http://www.nme.com/news/alice-cooper/53209


THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS.

The Rock and Roll hall of fame has listed it’s nominations for this year. Artist diverse as Alice Cooper, LL Cool J, Donovan, Tom Waits to Dr John all deserving as they are individually for recognition will still have to be discussed and decided on whether they are “rock and roll” enough to enter this museum.

Obviously the artists that have come before are all valid and great, great artists but the issue I have with the whole concept is that it’s very mainstream and corporate, an almost “Tutti Frutti” sponsored by McDonalds. Rock and Roll as a genre was about and should always be about rebellion and sticking 2 fingers up at authority. Older rock stars from yester-year in tuxedos with their plastic surgery obsessed wives grinning as they get another award simply for still being alive seems to go against everything they ever stood for.

In my opinion if such a thing as “the rock and roll hall of fame” had to exist at all then it would be in an abandoned warehouse half falling down after the 1000th party, beer stains all over the floor, half asleep teenagers in piles while the police try and break down the back door, the Waldorf Astoria in New York with a couple of hundred dollar plate dinners isn’t.

Artists such as Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Who have all been in for many years nowadays its Bon Jovi? The most easy going parent friendly 80’s poodle perm rock (with a small r) band ever to shuffle out of New Jersey. It seems that the only criteria you need to enter these days to be eligible is for their first release to be at least 25 years old. Although in the past acts such as the Dave Clarke Five missed their chance even after winning more votes as not enough Rap artists were mentioned so Grandmaster Flash won the nomination (this was later confirmed by Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner), Dave Clark Five had to wait another year. Rules, rules, rules. The very thing rock and roll came to break. A year when Donna Summer could be winning over Darlene Love or Laura Nyro for anything is the REAL day the music died.

On Shakey Ground....


Le Noise - Neil Young

One of the problems with reviewing anything after a first listen is that some albums are "growers" and a few more listens down the line it might all click and work. The latest Neil Young record seemed a dream collaboration on paper with sound scape producer and fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois who's past productions have included U2 vast backlog and Bob Dylan's masterpiece "Time Out Of Mind" but after the initial listen I was left less than impressed. It's Neil Young, the songs should be great and I tried to listen and judge each one on it's own merit rather than the past history of great tracks he already has in his cannon. It's both over produced and under-produced at the same time (if that's possible.) It's simply Neil Young and his Les Paul playing through songs while Lanois treats the sounds through a host of echos, delays and reverbs. Neil Young isn't The Edge and I don't think this side of production shows his style off particularly well. Songs like "Walk With Me" sound like they were written in 10 mins then recorded which may be thrilling for the artist but without the hindsight of editing and improving sound a little below par when compared to an instant classic like "Pocahontas" or "Wrecking Ball" and I think the main problem is that the band is missing. Crazy Horse are a powerhouse rock and roll band that always lift the songs up and although Daniel Lanois's production on them may have been the wrong move over their gritty raw sound. I think an opportunity was missed to showcase Young's acoustic playing with only a couple of tracks given to this. "Hitchhiker" is a song from the 1970s which was never recorded until now and brings the last 3 songs up a notch because of the pedigree (although "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" sounds like the old hippy inside him is still alive and kicking and not in a good way)but on the whole it seems a little to much like a bunch of Demo's ran through a reverb plate. I think I hear Rick Rubin rubbing his hand's together and praying Neil Young returns his phone calls.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I'm sorry we don't hear a single.....


In the times we live in it seems that the general public loves nothing more than a list, a best of, a top 10, something with order that can tell them in no UN-certain terms how things are rated. If it wasn't for the "best of" TV shows what would Jimmy Carr do with his evenings? After reading the last installment of "the best albums of the 00's" I've decided to go the other route and list the Worst albums of a great artists career. A time when it was all going so well then they released a golden turd of an album and torn between the love of the band/artist and blind faith we went and slapped our tenner on the counter only to turn into a donkey on the bus home as track 3 played...

right as I'm juggling this and "real" work I'll give you 3 to be going on with...



3 - Sometime In New York City - John Lennon
This came out after Imagine a time where a Beatle (a former one at that) could do no wrong. After all he was going to bring peace to the world and introduce Yoko Ono on the pop world and then this happened. Lennon moved to New York (his home for the remainder of his life) and got caught up with a bunch of stoned hippies looking for a revolution, being the band wagon jumper that he was John Lennon jumped feet first into the "struggle" and decided to sing songs about "real issues" almost like a daily newspaper of songs. Apart from guaranteeing that your songs are going to be dated by the time they are eventually released it also splits your fan base in about ten different directions. Does some 13 year old girl who lives in Nebraska really care about a riot at Attica State prison? Another downfall of this album is that Yoko is given centre stage (not for the last time) and she simply isn't good enough to be paired against one if not the greatest songwriter of his generation, its like Bob Dylan making an album with Ringo and giving him half the album for his own songs...you just feel that your missing out on more great stuff by listening to crap.

It does have its highlights, though not many. New York City is a good old fashioned rocker and on the live side the track Well (Baby Please Don't Go) with Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention is inspired.

Apart from these shining moments there is a couple of "alright" moments, Born In A Prison is sweet and Woman Is The Nigger Of The World is almost saved by Phil Spector's bombastic production even if the sentiment seems like its trying far too hard. After this album dropped like a rock Lennon made "Mind Games" which although wasn't back up to Plastic Ono Band standards still was heading in the right direction.


2 Grace/Wastelands - Peter Doherty
Peter Doherty (no longer Pete he means business now)former/current member of The Libertines/Babyshambles was going to show us and the judgemental tabloid newspapers who hounded him through his drug addiction and supermodel love affairs, he was going to show us all, with his poet heart and punk chord changes. What happened? Like Paul McCartney and John Lennon's writing partnership with Carl Barat and Pete Doherty you could usually tell who wrote which song just after one hearing, Doherty was the soul of the Libertines so a solo album seemed a great idea, him and acoustic and no smack head friends plunking away in the background. What happened? Grace/Wastelands is a warm fart of an album, it was released, ignored and then kicked into the bargain bin. No highlights, some of the half finished songs had already been heard on demos that had been floating around the web for months previously. A missed opportunity and proof that The Libertines reunion was needed for all members. The single "Last Of The English Roses" is 2 star by numbers Babyshambles b-side with even his fey "ro-oh-ses" cute little boy routine not helping "paper over the cracks" with this one. Total shambles.

1 - Metal Machine Music - Lou Reed
Obvious? Probably but what else could take the crown for worst album ever, even by a great artist. Lou Reed chief songwriter and leader of The Velvet Underground, just this alone would put him in the highest stream of rock royalty and even his solo albums had shining moments (Transformer, Berlin)but this 1975 double album of just Feedback and Noise takes some beating. Rock journalist Lester Bangs thought it one of the best albums ever, something to blow away the cobwebs ever morning although personally my copy would be covered in them through lack of listening to. Though like Revolution #9 (the beatles) did before him, it's not the fact the track is bad its the fact that they had the balls to do it in the first place which gives them the kudos in the end. Right you hum it and I'll play it Lou...EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

All quiet on the western..avenue...



Things are looking a bit quiet on here since Friday but rest assured I'm simply biding my time. Digesting new albums from Neil Young and Arcade Fire while waiting for the new Kings Of Leon offering.

Also still deciding whether the new MONO versions of Bob Dylans albums is worth the re-buy. I already have them on CD, now there is the MONO versions, then I guess they'll release them again in 5.1 stereo with extra tracks, then release them again in its "original" packaging with the extra songs taken off, then just before he changes label they'll be released MONO version and 5.1 stereo versions together with alt.versions of takes. No wonder nobody cares that the Internet is taking over the industry, the bankers and fat cats have been robbing the punters for years i.e. making you buy something you already own.

stay strong bruvvers and sisters!

Friday, 24 September 2010

great lost tracks...


The weekend is almost upon us and like me I'm sure a lot of people will be heading out for a night of drunken regret and fun and games. Most will end up at someone’s flat/house or back at there's with the partner and friends of their choice and while the drinks are being topped up the cd player/itunes play list will be readied and you'll be faced with the decision of "what do i play"... here are a few lost classics that in the world of spotify will be a few clicks away and will expand your horizons further than Be Here Now for the 1000th time...


1) Strawberry Letter 23 - Shuggie Otis - this is the original version of the brothers Johnson hit (used to great effect in Jackie Brown but I prefer the original)

2) When The Kingdom Comes - Primal Scream - This little played b-side of the Accelerator single is a throw back to the rock and roll strutters of their early tracks, look out for Paul Weller's 12 string guitar solo...zap!

3) Lets Put Our Hearts Together - The Beach Boys - This Brian Wilson track off the 70s LOVE YOU album is a duet between him and his then wife Marilyn, even throughout his insanity, drug in take, not recognising his own children (and offering them drugs) the manson family hanging out at his house and superstardom you can still see the little spark between them is still there, even though not for much longer...Pete and Kate? Kurt and Courtney? Do me a favour...

4) It's Gonna Work Out Fine - Ike and Tina Turner - Forget the dodgy film, forget his drug addiction and liberal use of the back hander as and argument finaliser here is the reason we remember them as a team. Great slippery groovy soul

5) The Rat - The Walkman - As sad as it seems with a band of this much potential, their only good track...but it’s a banger...

6) I'm Glad - Captain Beefheart - Or Bee-Fart as Stephen Fry would say, this slow soul track from the former Don Van Vliet from his Safe As Milk album also featuring Slide Guitar prodigy Ry Cooder.

7) Parachutes - Sean Lennon - Yes,yes would I like this if he wasn't a Lennon? Yes definitely, a great track from the 5 star album Friendly Fire

8) Quarter To Three - Gary U.S.Bonds - A staple of frat rock radio and later the E-Street bands mammoth set, scratchy, cheap sounding, huddled around 1 microphone in a garage somewhere with a honking sax in the background. Or the soundtrack to the best party ever.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Bug feat. Flow Dan – Skeng (Autechre Dub Remix)

Flow Dan featured here on the new remix of dub step giants The Bug with the track “Skeng (Autechre Dub Remix)” shows why his name is spreading form his roots in East London to the far reaches of Europe (where he regularly tours) although maybe also show’s why he hasn’t broken through to the mainstream as much with his brand of dancehall styled delivery as his contemporary’s.

As on the original mix his lyrical delivery can sometimes lack any real definition and presence, sometimes reverting back to a more old skool jungle sounding MC simply running rhymes like a shopping list of empty well worn cliché’s.

While the 2008 original “Skeng” sounded dark and murky and with its deep and nasty growl showed them to be a force to be contended with, this remix by Autechre takes some of the body out of it and give Flow Dan’s vocals an almost evanescent and spirit like quality like an echo from an abandoned club long since gone rather than the full on package he gives when partnered with Wiley and his Roll Deep counterparts.

Autechre bring to the table their own brand of vintage electro which sprinkles its presence on the track rather than breaks it down and builds it up again stronger than before. A possible missed opportunity for both artist and re-mixer’s although sure to be gaining interest among the dub step fraternity if only as a “what NOT to do” when presented with an already popular track.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name.....


NME have just run the "best" cover version's as voted by YOU!...as if somehow Hoxton Dave and his mates have a more well rounded opinion on the finer points of a cover version than someone who's maybe even heard the original to compare.

Cover versions tend to fall into different categories, firstly the sure fire hit ploy where if something’s been a hit once than it can be again. (This is the X-FACTOR Simon Cowell technique when introducing a new act.) This does work and newspapers and general Joe six packs use phrases like "they bettered it, or they made it their own"...when the majority of the time (like with Alexandra Burke's version of Hallelujah) "I never want to hear that song again, its now over played and officially dead to me"...

The 2nd category is "what we've been doing live before we got signed”. this isn't used very much these days as it was something people did when playing the circuit where cover versions were predominant and song writing wasn't a force within the band (see debut's by The Rolling Stones and The Kinks with 9 and 8 covers a-apiece!) Even the band that introduced the self contained song writing musicians motif The Beatles had 6 cover versions on their debut. I'm not sure how serious The Libertines or Oasis would have been taken if over half their debut albums had been cover versions.

The 3rd (probably my favourite) category is the "look how well read and cool I am I'm going to introduce a great song you haven't heard before"...basically the music snob's choice. Jeff Buckley would have been guilty of this until the aforementioned Alexandra Burke pushed it out front to a level where even its creator Leonard Cohen was switching the channel when it started. People who cover Bob Dylan sometimes fall into this category as due to his vast catalogue and minimal hits there is a deep well of album tracks and un-released songs ripe for a cover version or two.

There is 4th which tends to appear when bands get big. Bigger than Jesus. "Play our own songs? Why EVERYONE knows them, we'll play what we want"... Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Oasis, to whoever they may be will always get to a stage where they are throwing a cover in their set here and there just to show musical variety and to liven things up after track 5 of their recent album has killed the crowd buzz dead.

Solo artists do this when they need a new album and are lacking inspiration and go the whole hog and make a covers album e.g. Lennon, Bowie, Dylan, Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney bit hitters all made cover albums. Generally with pretty dismal results.

Cover version's can be a great thing although only when they bring something new to the table. "All Along The Watchtower" is a perfect example. The original is almost demo like in its bareness and stark production with Dylan accompanied with acoustic and harmonica barely gets it off the ground before it ends. The far superior Jimi Hendrix take gives it multi dimensions 3 guitar solos and an iconic intro. When cover versions are bad...they are REALLY bad...I won't even go into detail about David Bowie's version of "God Only Knows" from his early 80's TONIGHT album but lets say if anything pushed Brian Wilson over the edge it may have been this.

NME listed the best versions with Muse's version of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" although failed to list any of Nina Simone's covers that she herself done e.g. her cover of "I Put A Spell On You" or "I Loves You Porgy" see the likes of The Clash doing the pretty weak "I Fought The Law" right on its way down the road.

For the sake of wrapping this up here are my top 10 covers

-----------------

01) All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (orig.Bob Dylan)

02) Louie, Louie - The Kingsmen (orig.Richard Berry)

03) I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvin Gaye (orig. Gladys Knight & The Pips)

04) How Can You Mend A Broken Heart - Al Green (orig. The Bee Gees)

05) Twist and Shout - The Beatles (orig.The Isley Brothers)

06) (They Long To Be) Close To You - Isaac Hayes (orig. Dionne Warwick)

07) I'm So Proud - Todd Rundgren (orig.The Impressions)

08) Gloria - Patti Smith (orig. Them)

09) Wonderwall - Ryan Adams (orig. Oasis)

10) Just Like Heavan - Dinosaur Jr. (orig.The Cure)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

This Weeks Reviews.....


Redlight Feat Ms DynamiteWhat you talking about?

Ms Dynamite tee-heeeee is back and isn’t pulling any punches about what she wants and that’s a hit and she indeed may have one on her hands.” What You Talking About?” is a one-two combination of club dance floor bass and in the words of its producer/artist Redlight (or Hugh Pescod to his mum) a “jet-propelled banger”, nothing like a bit of restrained quiet optimism it seems, although as it’s already
been Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record of the Week back in June it’s not without merit.

The only thing first off that clenches my teeth is the heavy use of Auto-Tune on the vocals, the games up, the cats out of the
bag and when even 70 year old ladies on the bus are talking about “that vocal effect thingy used on x-factor” you know that maybe artists should own up and record their songs warts and all. But this is a small ding and simply personal taste after all using it
as an effect ( as used here) as opposed to band aid to dodgy pitch is an art within itself and could be one of the hooks that drives it.

Lyrics have always been Ms Dynamite’s strongest asset (aside from cooking skills on Hells Kitchen obviously) and this is no different, I’m sure this song will be getting a rinsing at clubs and on the radio if only for the giant clattering Bass line sure to be rattling the speakers of many the mobile phones on my bus journeys in the next few weeks. The new “Bonkers”? Redlight has built a slick dubstep beat and with rave style synths mixed with some M.I.A flavours are used as a perfect catalyst for the vocals. The video is also released and after a few watches think for the good of my fragile mind all the directors’ smartie’s and fizzy pop need to be taken away from him, subtle it ain’t…like an acid trip in Willy Wonka’s factory and would make MGMT opt for more browns and greys in their palette, but till then time
to dig out your dodgy 80s tops, luminous socks and rebook pumps and bounce to this dark horse for club classic in the making, expect a multitude of remixes coming soon.


Edwyn Collins'Losing Sleep'

Edwyn Collins is a survivor. He is in it for the long haul and isn’t about to start a clothing line, new perfume range or
be a guest judge on X Factor. He is a artist through and through. He started as a guitarist and principle songwriter in Orange Juice
with their angular guitar work and early 60s pop-tastic chorus’s in Collin’s deep Scottish brogue onto his solo years culminating with
his biggest hit “A Girl Like You” a song used in many films and montage clips on TV since.

John Lennon once said in a Rolling Stone interview “I'm an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I'll bring you something out of it” the same
could be said to Edwyn Collins. Due to his well publicised double brain haemorrhage back in 2005 he is now incapable of playing the guitar,
the instrument that was his tool to bring to life the backdrop of his lyrics and even though it’s been a long journey back from the end he has
kept moving and kept heart. Guitars on the album will be played by a host of indie luminaries such as Johnny Marr, Alex Kapranos, Ryan
Jarman from The Cribs and Barrie Cadogan from Little Barrie handling 6 string duties on the single. Showing that his inspiration and influence
is already spanning a generation.

“Losing Sleep” is the first single off the new album of the same name and on first listen sounds like he’s back, not with a vengeance but with a
new set of eyes and perspective of the world. His new world. The lyrics are more direct; less embellished with synonyms or rhymes after all if you
fall in the ocean you don’t reel a list of reasons why you would like saving you just scream AAAAAGH! Simple, direct and to the point or in Collin’s
own words “Fast and quick and speedy!” the overall mantra of the album and while still a labour of love, the first idea was the best, get the first or
second take and move on.

This song “Losing Sleep”with its pounding Northern Soul unrelenting drum lick and with the guitars cradle his voice perfectly. His voice sounds stronger than ever and with only that to consider now (his own guitar playing now sadly diminished) gives pure tone and unleashes the crooner within without being schmaltzy or fake. Listening back I would go as far to say as he has finally found his voice he was aiming for. Or he now has the voice he deserves.
Vintage is a word that is over used in every aspect of music and fashion but this track is definitely “worn in”, great sound, loud guitars,feedback and horn section so far removed from the Mark Ronson trade-marks its almost like an old Coasters 45.

If this is the taster for the album it’ll be
a wait worth savouring, welcome back Edwyn…


Screaming Tea PartyThe Witch From Oregon

Bring the noise with a spoonful of sugar to help the power pop go down and you have this great slice of psychedelic pop at its fuzziest. From the opening growling bass to the pitch shifted buzz saw guitar hook that circles and repeats itself surprisingly without ever outstaying its welcome.

Screaming Tea Party are a mom and pop store band definitely. No guru, manager, A&R scout or son of tricky dickie could put this lot together, vocals buried in the mix under layers of distortion and feedback mean a lot of the lyrics are indistinguishable but somehow still manage to create a memorable hook (even if I have no idea what I'm saying I'm at least making similar vowels). With elements of The Cure, Dinosaur Jr and gorgeous female 2 part harmonies mixed with the already mentioned non-discript lyrics (something about a witch and a butterfly?) who knows? Never mind it could be the “Louie Louie” of our generation. In a time where music, trends was going through the Byron-esque trilby poetry and heroin phase before coming out in 2010/1984 with Duran Duran wannabes who would have thought it would be a band that wants to make a racket and nail their colours to the flag pole of alt.noise.pop that were taking the gold medal. Possibly the more accessible of their tracks currently available and this is no bad thing and this band know the beauty of a 3 min pop song and deliver it in a ear drum shaped My Bloody Valentine wave of sound.

Definitely one to be played loud. Catch them live when you can as a band this much fun aren't going to stay underground for long. The video is now up on youtube and looks like it cost a tenner to make but is a hundred times more fun then the next slice of MTV $10 million production to hit these shores any time soon. Right time for one more play....

Friday, 17 September 2010

top 5 soundtracks...


After walking through the jungle of DVDs and T-shirts that used to be the record shop HMV I ended up in the small area of cd's, the Soundtrack section. Everyone film that comes out seems to have a soundtrack even if its just backing scores and instrumentals..who needs the Titanic score? I doubt the Blade Runner soundtrack is going to get that office christmas party rocking. But to be positive and ignore the negatives like a racist electrician here are my top 10 soundtracks for you to dismiss and dig out if you actually shelled out for them.



Magnolia - Amazing film, Even better soundtrack Aimee Mann doing both originals and covers (her version of One is probably better than the original)

The Blues Brothers - ok a bit of a cop out because its jam packed with so many great artists (what's next? A Hard Days Night you bounder and cheat!) But as an album its the record that single handily gave back careers to people like John Lee Hooker that were trying to compete with the Disco music of the times, thank you Dan Aykroyd, probably the only time I will ever utter those words, especially after Blues Brothers 2000 and My Stepmothers An Alien!...

Jackie Brown - I couldn't do a list without mentioning Quentin Tarantino as he always has amazing soundtracks relying on carefully chosen records rather than an actual "score" or songs written for the film itself. Jackie Brown is a master class of choosing 70s soul records. "Natural High" by Bloodstone is a stone cold classic and one I'd never heard until I saw the film. Using Bobby Womacks "Across 110 Street" was a stroke of genius, especially using it as the opening credits theme when in fact the song was originally written for "Across 110 Street" the movie, I can't imagine using the "Goldfinger" theme for the new cohen brothers film about midwest farmers.

High Fidelity - Another easy one as its about a record shop owner and his taste in music, but where else do you get to here The Beta Band, Stevie Wonder, Jack Black and Elvis Costello on the same record?

The Harder They Come - From the movie of the same name, Jimmy Cliff never sounded any better and a record I heard a lot during the summers growing up that I didn't even realise was a soundtrack as each song fit together and was so good on its own merit. "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and "Many Rivers To Cross" have been integrated into the great subconscious now and forever.

probably a lot more...but its now lunch time and so reality calls..all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain...time for a quarter pounder and cheese...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Syd Barrett poster


Syd Barrett. Roger Barrett to his mum. Founder, front man, guitarist and songwriter for The Pink Floyd original line-up. Elfish,good looking and full of Cambridge high class entitlement breeding. Also a LSD munching casualty that when he wasn't tripping on armfuls of hallucination educing drugs was creating 60s pop singles such as "See Emily Play" and "Arnold Lane" 2 of the best singles of the summer of 1967. Syd looked cool, his telecaster covered in mirrors which when hit by the newly used light shows and strobe light effects of the UFO club in London turned him into the golden god while the crowd swayed in the dance of the idiot brains fizzing like eggs. The problem lay in the fact that when the night ended and the comedown began did the songs still stand up. Sadly I don't think they do. I have all the Syd Barrett albums, I will hold my hands up and say I fell for it too. He looks very cool, the few songs that I liked from early Floyd told me there was gold in them mountains. But its a very rocky road and you better find yourself a very good cherry picker to get the nuggets. The Madcap Laughs, newly reissued and given the standard 4 star classic status of the music rags really doesn't stand up. It sounds like a man completely destroyed by psychedelics barely making it through the song and the rest of the band and producer (David Gilmour no less) working like dogs to turn the shambles into actual tracks. This is the same motif for the majority of his work later on. Very lazy writers like to compare him to artists such as Brian Wilson and try and tag him with the Genius label but this is so,so misplaced. Even at his most warped Brian Wilson could still pull a song like "Till I Die" from his overweight unwashed behind, a 5 star gem that still sits high in the Beach Boys cannon. Also with labelling drug casualties "genius" or "mavericks" it almost diminishes those that didn't die. Was Neil Young any less of a maverick because he didn't go down the well trodden road of drugs,excess and death? The list of classic albums he made in the 70s leaves the Barrett's,Brian Jones,Janis Joplin's and Jim Morrison's in the slow lane as far as quality is concerned, but then again he lived, grew up, got old. Syd did all these things as well but behind closed doors. He later turned up at the mark 2 version of Pink Floyd's recording session for "Wish you were here" album "ready to do my bit"...he was vastly overweight, had shaved his hair and eyebrows off and kept excusing himself to go and brush his teeth, the icon of 67 had vanished as quickly as it had come, the rest of the band barely recognised him and just about finished the session without breaking down at the apparition that presented itself before them.

He left London for the last time in 1978, the money had run out and he walked back to his mums house in Cambridge, living in the basement until his death. The original band he'd started went into the heavens with "Dark Side Of The Moon" and never looked back to their shambolic exciting start with heir Syd at the helm. He got his money from Pink Floyd BEST OF's which always included the first 2 singles. After he'd gone all we were left with was the posters. Shine on you crazy Diamond.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

SACRED COWS

"sacred cows make the best burgers"...indeed. In a world that seems to hold artists and celebrity so high on a pedestal its sometimes fun to look through the glitter and objectively think "is it actually any good?".

Sacred cows is a little section where albums,bands,movies,books will be re-assessed and given the new fresh once over. Do they deserve the 5 star status they get.

1- The Police - no not the metropolitan truncheon wielders rather the annoying new wave pop skankers. Sting. Just his name should be enough, who thought that sounded good? But this is about the music not the regrettable fashion mistakes or dodgy winged pants (see Dune) I was born in 1981 so heard The Police as they released songs although wasn't in the frame of mind to actually listen, rate and consider whether it was any good, as at the time I was pondering the chance of another Rusk biscuit or trying to get my shoe's on the right foot. They are given a high place and ranking among the rock élite and with everyone from Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Diddy covering and sampling their work they must be great right?

I don't get it. Whiney white boy cod reggae and a fake accent so bad it'd make Ray Davies from The Kinks ja-faken accent seem genuine. It always seems that Sting is at the very top of his register and is one step away from a vein popping in his golden temple. "Every Breath you take" a song about a stalker turned into a wedding first dance song? "Walking on the moon"...ooh imagine that...only been a decade since It’d ACTUALLY happened boys...what's the next hit "Imagine Colour TV?"...I also blame Andy Summers for introducing the whole 80's guitar tone, that horrible chorus clean effect guitar that sounds like the Casio watch of the guitar tone world. In a side note I was stuck watching his solo show as he supported the vastly superior Buddy Guy at the Royal Festival Hall a few years back and this guy really does have Van Gogh’s ear for music and jazz is something he should stay away from especially when everything he plays sounds like a John Hughes soundtrack outtake.

Stuart Copeland, technically a amazing drummer and the fact he had the words "fuck-off-you-cunt" on his drums/toms so every fill was in fact a shot at Sting means he's the only one with some credibility in all this. and considering it’s by schoolboy behind the bike sheds swearing doesn't say a lot.

The Police? Criminal..life without parole.

Anna Calvi/Forest Fire gig


Anna Calvi is a bit of a mystery. At tiptoe she probably still a fag paper under 5 foot 4, but when on stage she towers over the rest of the band while firing out lightning bolts from her battered telecaster. At the time of watching the expectation's were high and although she's proficient and can solo with the rest of them I wondered whether if the novelty of her being a girl rather than a sweaty longhaired rocker in an Iron Maiden 87' world tour t-shirt gave her the upper hand and wow factor.

I suppose being a girl in the world of posing guitar heroes mean's she has to be double good (to use a Shaun Rider-ism) just to be taken seriously although maybe that's just my ingrained sexism coming to light.

The upcoming debut single "Jezebel" (out on Domino records on October 11th) is a well chosen and slightly leftfield cover of an Edith Piaf song and although on first hearing felt that some horns or mariachi trumpets would bring the whole thing to life a little more still was executed very well and will be a star buy of mine that will be getting an airing at my dj night about town...

Headlining the same show at London's Borderline were Brooklyn New York's own Forest Fire on their return shows in London and at the tail end of their recent visit after their amazing End Of The Road festival shows this past weekend.

Starting with feedback drenched harmonics and fuzz reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine rather than the Fleet Foxes comparisons made by lazy journalists that saw their record next to each other in the CD racks and assumed they were similar. Definitely one to watch, more in the vein of Sonic Youth if they'd grown up in Woodstock. Songs glide between full on feedback drones to gentle flute accompanied Lennon influenced ballads while the statue like bass player doing her best Bill Wyman impression kept the low end stuck solid to the bass drum and without sounding too poncey almost a plastic ono band for the 21st century if the blasphemy isn't too choking. I heard Mecury Rev glimmers while other's heard Black Keys riffs, a band for everyone with taste.

Give them a listen pop pickers, Debut Album "Survival" is out on Broken Sound Records and has already made the Rough Trade top 10 albums of the year....

www.myspace.com/annacalvi

www.myspace.com/fuckforestfire

Monday, 13 September 2010

skint,tanned and stuck at work....

"Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today,
We touched ground on an international runway
Jet propelled back home, from over the seas to the....UK"


Back from Majorca, home in blighty. Lovely break, relaxation, free bar and no mobile's/facebook interaction. Back. Grey sky, moody buses, packed trains and the realisation that the milestone of the 30th birthday is ever approaching. What's the plan batman? No idea. Maybe I should buy some stock in the Koran/Qur'an, if that preacher from Florida gets his way and burns them on a bonfire I'm sure stock will fly off the shelves..might be a nice little earner...I'm sure Amazon are loving it...

many people are burning them, many are burning their fingers trying to burn them....

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

holiday mix tape


"Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing." - Rob from High Fidelity

Indeed this is something that shouldn't be taken lightly and even in the world of play lists and ipods who even worries about such trivial things, why bother even making a list you can just bring your entire collection with you and choose at random. Well I grew up in the times of making mix tapes and having to find that last song that will finish the tape that seems like it will never end even after the 17th song on side B and running out of lines on your little insert...usually its a quick 2min Ramones gem or "sugar sugar" that does the job.

Holiday mix tapes are good for the pool and beach, the last thing you want to be doing especially with an ipod is getting it out at the beach, one thing it gets hot and secondary getting sand in that little wheel will definitely fuck things up, make a list and stuff it back in the bag with the headphone cable snaking out the zip...laverly!....

right in play list form here are the top 10 I'll be queuing up.


*I'm Walkin' - Fats Domino (you have to start with a banger, start things right)

*Tequila - The Champs (a little frat house but if tequila doesn't say holiday then i cant help you)

*Baby its you - The Beatles (can't peak to soon, got to ease back on the break a little)

*Kiss Me Baby - The Beach Boys (summer music, but a relaxing one)

*Broken Stones - Paul Weller (fender rhodes riff, wicked summer tune)

*Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips (a little out of left field but first heard this on a mojo compilation during a boys holiday to greece so its in.)

*Spectacle - Sean Lennon (just the right tempo for drifting off in the shade)

*Please Be With Me - Eric Clapton (a little lost gem from the master of the sad face and oh so "bluesy" surrey born stratocaster twanger)

*Saturday Sun - Nick Drake (from Fives Leaves Left, a great guitarist goes to the Piano instead, wonderful)

*I'm Still In Love With You - Al Green (by then i'm probably asleep on the sun lounger so this will keep me chilled as my body burns)

that's my 10...

probably should then included "My Big Mouth" by Oasis to wake me up....but why bother coming back from pepperland, its all sunny and better there...

*whistles summer holiday*