Sunday, 31 October 2010
12 Dirty Bullets - LIVE @ The Garage, Highbury & Islington 29/10/10
Today's review is of local boys and Trinity Bar fellow good timers 12 Dirty Bullets, and separating Friday night's gig at The Garage from the other gigs I have attended and reviewed recently is that I chose this gig because I wanted to go, rather than being assigned to go with the promise of a few Red Stripes and a fistful of silver so you'll have to excuse me for being less than objective when reviewing mates rather than the usual posers I see.
12 Dirty Bullets have earned their stripes and done the grafting to warrant a gig at newly re-opened Garage (although personally I didn't even notice a lick of paint or new door knob different to that of the old one) and have filled the venue with actual record buying fans as well as some friends and family rather than 80-20 ratio the other way which is very ofter then case of up and coming bands on the circuit.
They start the set strong with "Black Roses And Violence" from their debut album and new track "Dreamers" and by the time the band has fallen in around lead singer and guitarist Jamie Jamieson's intro the crowd are already behind them and up for a good night for all.
Tonight's gig includes 8 tracks from their debut "Downsides To Making A Living" including "Sweet Susie", "Rock 'n' Roll Pretty Boys" as well as 5 new tracks being road tested before the second album is released such as gem and definite single worthy "She Could Love You Forever" with its Billy Bragg sounding lyric cradled within a strong money chorus that could be the turning point up the ladder for the band.
The set continued with "Keep Chancing", the first single "Fatman" and crowd favourite "Good Time Girls" which puts 12 Dirty Bullets above a lot of bands in the same genre simply because of the craftsmanship and quality of songwriting involved.
12 Dirty Bullets have never been shy in wearing their influences on their sleeve or in the case of songwriter, Jamie Jamieson, his chest (tonight he sports the classic "Hi how are You?" t-shirt from indie underground legend in his own lunchtime Daniel Johnston) although this was probably missed by the majority of the crowd as they prepared to launch beer at each other and perform high risk shoulder standing acrobatics during the Arctic Monkeys influenced track "Champagne And Cocaine" (another live favourite and a drink spiller unless you watch from a safe distance). This is one of their strongest tracks to date and shows each member of the band playing full tilt as a unit which shows that this isn't a one man show but a well oiled and good old fashioned rock and roll band.
Bringing the set to a conclusion was a 1-2-3-4 combination of first album closer and guitarist Michael Smith's ivory tickling "Away With The Stars", new track "Riddles" and Four Tops Motown hit "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" that although shows the dexterity and versatility of the 4 piece seemed to border on playing to the crowd rather than winning them over on their own steam, although this is small change and simply personal taste during an otherwise faultless set. Currently on tour across the UK, catch em' why you can.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:14
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Swanlights - Antony & The Johnsons
The 4th full length album from Antony Hegarty and his band The Johnsons (no sniggering at the back of the class) was something I was looking forward to reviewing as I'd been a fan since I heard "I'm A Bird Now" and although I felt the next EP and album were worthy inclusions neither of them reached the level of their predecessor. Although with this in mind I was still looking forward to "Swanlights".
The album begins in a haphazard manner that in some ways will underpin the whole album "Everything Is New" meanders along and although features a lot of Hegarty's trademarks doesn't really go anywhere. The album is lifted if only briefly with the track "The Great White Ocean" which reminds the listener of why they loved Antony & The Johnsons in the first place, with its heartfelt lyrics often sung through the tear stained vibrato in his voice although after the initial breakthrough seems to lose direction and energy and slows to a premature end. "Swanlights" continues on with "Ghost" and "I'm in Love" 2 tracks that never hit the mark (wherever they are aiming) "i'm In Love" especially which begins reminiscent of "Going Out" by Supergrass of all bands which shocked me into thinking my playlist had shuffled before Hegarty's voice wobbled into audio horizon. With "Violetta" clocking in at an unimpressive 35 secs it seems that the masterpiece I was preparing myself for seems to be falling through my fingers track by track.
Next in the firing line is the title track itself "Swanlights" which although admirably tries something new with its almost "Everything In It's Right Place" era Radiohead chopping and editing of the vocals lose the lyrics beneath the heavy use of organ and reverberated "oohs and aaahs". When writing this review I found it hard to understand why such an obviously below par record was made from someone so talented and top shelf as Antony & The Johnsons but it seems that the track "The Spirit Was Gone" answers these questions for me with its title although I hope its just a break rather than a permanent vacation.
The only passable single on "Swanlights" is "Thank You For Your Love" and so this is the case drums and steady backbeat have been included. Antony sings "when I was lost in the darkness, thank you for your love" harking back to the New York days when he first arrived. The most bankable track on the album although they aren't the type of band to trouble the top 10 any time soon.
Even "Flétta" - FEAT BJORK comes as a welcome shot in the arm as a possible album saver although prominent in the track and stamping her personality over it doesn't hit the heights of "Boy George" or "Rufus Wainwright" from his second album "I'm A Bird Now" with its starts and stops and quirky arrangement that goes from almost whisper to building conclusion before trailing off may have been better suited to B-side. The album concludes with the double header of "Salt Silver Oxygen" and "Christina's Farm" that have much better titles than they deserve, the equivalent of a dog turd wrapped in fifties. "Christina's Farm" is the better of the two with its lone piano that gives a subtle flicker into what might have been, its still an end to a very mixed and confused album.
"Everything is new" the vocals sing but didn't convince me that the new is always better, "if it ain't not broke-don't fix it" should be something to consider in my opinion. Back to the drawing board and to woodshed those Nina Simone albums again….
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:46
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Another grey cold wet day in Albion and what better to do than to find some pleasure in the soaking clothes and flu nosed grime that is today than to listen to some great songs all with one thing in common....the RAIN!....
So flick on your spotify and bring up your Tuesday Rainy play lists...
1) Rain - The Beatles ; The b-side to Paperback Writer and the first use of backwards singing, cuts straight to the point with this mid 60s classic.
2) Purple Rain - Prince ; The marmite song of his set list but with the bombastic guitar solo and slow build up shows a masterclass in light and shade (even if its all purple)
3) Rainy Night In Georgia - Brook Benton ; This Tony Joe White penned track is a staple of late night soul and r&b classic stations and with this low rumbling velvet vocal from Brook Benton and the expert cradled production by Arif Mardin you can understand why its a classic
4) Have you Ever Seen The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival ; CCR (because I'm not continuously writing their name out) made the fashion faux pas of making hit singles one after another in a time where it was ALL about the albums. Leader and chief songwriter John Fogerty made classic rock and roll records where all that mattered was "a great title, a great guitar riff" that harked back to pre-Beatles swampy boogie woogie when everyone else was "progressing"...a great song. Even see George Harrison and John Lennon jamming this during "Let It Be" documentary.
5) Rainy Days And Mondays - The Carpenters ; This would have been a double hitter if I'd updated this page yesterday but as its now Tuesday I guess I'll have to roll with the punch. The Carpenters came about in the early 70s that for America was a turbulent time with Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, Kent State etc and adult contemporary music with subtle horn accompaniments weren't exactly what "the kids" were reaching out for. But sales don't lie and with this as another number 1 of their 12 top 10 hits (including 3 number ones) there wasn't a riot goin' on in Downey,California.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 14:25
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Guitar Heaven : The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time
Santana and more importantly Carlos Santana knows what works and what doesn't. After many years in the touring wilderness without a hit to hang onto he joined forces with Arista Records legend Clive Davis and the “Supernatural” album was made in 1999 and brought to him a whole new audience along with a host of supporting acts and solo stars who would “FEAT:” on the tracks. A clever game plan as a name like Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean can definitely get you some air play on stations outside of his usual FM oldies station. The plan paid off and with it 9 Grammy awards followed along with his biggest hit in 20 years “Smooth” featuring Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas. Santana were back.
They have followed this template since with the album “Shaman” and “All That I Am” which made use of his little black book of “friends”.
This new offering “Guitar Heaven : The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time” is a collection of cover versions that reads like the back of a Guitar Hero Game or the best of lists found at the back of a Xmas edition of Guitar Player magazine. The song choices are obvious, as good as the tracks are and as well executed they are played (Carlos Santana playing has never sounded so incendiary and ballsy) it doesn't really knock the originals out of the limelight i.e. “Can't You Hear Me Knocking” feat: (obviously) Scott Weiland is a great choice but isn't going to worry Mick Jagger any time soon for early retirement (or is that late?). Only the classy re-arrangement of the George Harrison Beatles track “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is worthwhile, with its Mexican mariachi guitar playing the initial piano figure of the original and a restrained vocal from India.Arie give this a stylish make-over. Other tracks include the awful “Photograph” (original Def Lepard) to the confusing “Back In Black” feat: Nas turns AC/DC's original into a strange money spinner hoping for a hit by “updating it” for today, lame.
The Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek appears with Chester Bennington on the remake of his former bands “Riders On The Storm” without any of the heart of the original Jim Morrison or the the bands interpretation. A definite wasted opportunity as both Manzarek and Santana have the chops to solo into jazz territory instead there is just a lifeless Friday night covers band version here. “Smoke On The Water” (yes I know THAT obvious) is next and like the previous track you just need to walk into any bar in any city and hear a comparable version.
Van Halen's track “Dance The Night Away” was chosen although I have no idea why, can Carlos Santana really think this is one of the greatest classics ever? Its not even in the top 10 of Van Halen's tracks although maybe he possibly decided against bongos with “Hot For Teacher”. Bush front man and the current Mr Gwen Stafani Gavin Rossdale appears on the 2 star version of the
T-REX classic “Get It On” or “Bang A Gong” as its named here by that ol' hippy Carlos.
An album with this title would seem a total lame duck without the inclusion of Jimi Hendrix so its no surprise when one of his great tracks “Little Wing” appears with a left field selection of Joe Cocker on vocals. Like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” before in the album, they have tried to change the arrangement a little but while this worked previously this only seems to take the guts out of the original as the majority of the Hendrix guitar work is replaced by keyboards that hold the arrangement down enough for Carlos Santana to solo merciless over while Cocker seems lost by the whole thing.
The album picks up from disaster with the inclusion of Jonny Lang and his run through of the Willie Dixon penned Howlin' Wolf classic “I Ain't Superstitious” which has the feel that everyone in the room was firing on all cylinders and the A&R guys were locked outside. This version owes more to the Jeff Beck cover than the Howlin' Wolf original with Lang's vocals leaning towards Rod Stewart's rasp rather than Wolfs growl. The set concludes with run through's of Creedence Clearwater Revivals “Fortunate Son” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers ballad and monster hit “Under The Bridge”, both never get off the ground and are forgotten by the time both familiar choruses kick in. A pointless affair. Download “I Ain't Superstitious” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and bin the rest.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:46
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown
"Come Around Sundown" the 5th album from the band who when their not dividing the country and indie fraternity on whether they are any good any more or just a bunch of stadium rock sell outs are here to stay and still making some of the best music of their ongoing career.
The new set of songs starts in the same vain as the previous album with the slow rumbling bass of "The End", after all there is no point whacking the single as track 1 boys after all, don't want to blow your load too soon, that's saved for track 2 "Radioactive" with its Edge style circling delayed guitar riff that pretty much carry off where "Use Somebody" left off for the stadium rock crowd.
Kings Of Leon could have played this hand very easy and simply made "Only By The Night" part 2 but sticking with the fashion and progression of their last efforts they have moved on while showing a few musical bread crumbs of what came before them earlier. From track 3 onwards they have shown some new colours in their pallet with the almost Tom Petty-esque swinging "Pyro" and while the chorus like a lot of their recent songs is very stadium friendly this is also going to be one for the isolation of headphones on the bus home as well. Other standout tracks include the almost "Boys Don't Cry" type chords of "Beach Side" with its trademark Caleb Followill opening lyrics that sound like a wordless drawl. This is followed in turn by "No Money" which would be my bet for next single due to its meter reminiscent of "King Of The Rodeo". Only the track "Pony Up" seems well.."pony" as it seems to be a bit of a Kings Of Leon by numbers and definitely should have been relegated to a b-side (if such a thing even exists any more) the album doesn't end there and with the track "Birthday" they manage to bring the level up again with this future definite live favourite. The country influences that Followill often talked about in interviews are present here in tracks such as "Back Down South" which its steel guitar bends and slides and the mariachi style "Mi Amigo" complete with "Ring Of Fire" style trumpets which show more influences of drugstore truck driving men rather then skinny jean wearing fey sensitive indie boys. "Come Around Sundown" ends with "Pickup Truck" again with the standard fade in and echo guitar (starting to get a little tired by track 10 lads). A nice enough bookend to the album and a strong enough contribution although as with some of the other tracks including "The Face" and "The Immortals" some how missed opportunity arrangement wise simply relying on their set bag of tricks and sometimes end up sounding a little tired and boring where once there were the NEW sound.
The indie elite of NME and other magazines seem to have already had the jury's decision back 10 seconds after hearing "Sex On Fire" and have hung,drawn and quartered the band for the very un-cool crime of being popular and becoming successful beyond their piers. I understand that when your mum and the milkman start whistling the chorus to your favourite songs in your teenage years you feel like the only way to regain the balance is to distance yourself from it and spit at them but like it or not Kings Of Leon are here for the long haul and are making strong work. On first listening it doesn't grab me the way "Because Of The Times" caught my attention from the opening bars but this is small potatoes when I'm sure after the multiple listens I'll get from every radio station, TV advert and probably (god forbid) X-factor auditions I'll be hearing some of these tracks for the foreseeable future and whistling them myself as I get my semi skimmed 4 pinter. File next to "auto-pilot", they haven't re-invented the wheel nor have they gone back to horse and cart, they have made a good solid record to be proud of, if only R.E.M could produce an album this good rather then resting on past glories maybe NME would cheer up about KOL's success.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:08
What do you write about when you don't really have any topics to discuss? I need to write something to keep a working daily blog valid after all. I was sent another CD to review but as it was some drum and bass racket I politely declined rather than ripping it to shreds verbally (after all who am I to judge the work of a drum and bass artist especially when I own zero Cd's in that genre and couldn't compare shit from gold)
The record currently on my player is "A Wizard, A True Star" by Todd Rundgren and the book in my line of sight this week is a biography of Charles Bukowski (poet and writer from the beat generation)a typical insight into the mind and life of another of the "suffer for your art" kinda guys, this has always been something I was never sure of. I like a warm bed and a hot bath before I go into the studio to record anything, the idea of having to stay up and destroy a million brain cells before I'm "ready" seems a bit too much of an effort. Either that or I've seen the abyss from the sidelines and never really fancied jumping in feet first. I'm all for being able to pull a riff out of the bag like Keith Richards but do I really want his morning wheezing cough? On the other hand I definitely could do without sliding into the Eric Clapton picture of health safe as milk play by numbers ball ache he calls music these days. Better to paddle your own canoe I guess, just be aware where the rocks and waterfalls are.
Load your spotify's and dig out the following nuggets....
1)Down Boy - Yeah,Yeah Yeahs
2)Since I Lost My Baby - The Temptations
3)Let Your Shoulder Fall - Matthew Jay
4)Life's A Gas - T-Rex
5)She Smiled Sweetly - The Rolling Stones
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:19
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Once again I'm throwing the gauntlet down for all of my merry men and women out there will Spotify to update their play lists with some of my favourite tracks that they might have missed before. Some are newer than others, some are dead and some are living..in my life I love you more....
You Don't Understand Me - The Raconteurs (from their 2ND album)
Cornerstone - Arctic Monkeys (yes you all probably all have this song already but its such a stone cold classic I couldn't take the risk of you not)
Past - Todd Rundgren (from his more recent album "Liars", slow 70s style Philly soul is what he does best, great production too)
Call My Name - Prince (no god babble or pointless funk jams, give him piano and a sympathetic band and he can still pull the goods from his royal purple behind)
Both Sides, Now - Joni Mitchell (a beautiful track originally from Clouds in 1969 but then re-recorded in 2000 an octave lower with an orchestra on the album of the same name) Both are amazing which is the proof of a great song that the arrangement and key can change and the song still hits the spot.
Are You Passionate? - Neil Young (a criminally underrated album post 9/11, Neil young playing his bluesiest since "This Notes For You")
Rock And Roll - The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground for a solo career but in a classy act of kindness crammed his last album "Loaded" with a ton of "hits" and commercial tracks, here's one of his best.
Shapes Of Things - The Yardbirds (with Eric Clapton off with John Mayall the guitarist duties baton was picked up by Jeff Beck and thrown about a mile over the finish line.
A Kiss Before I Go - Ryan Adams (Here is the Gram Parsons influences coming to the forefront, a 4 star record from start to finish)
Soothe Me - Sam & Dave (Stax legends backed by Booker T and the Mg's, whats not to like?)
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 10:47
Thursday, 14 October 2010
With the weekend approaching rapidly (and a busy one at that) I try and grab as many quick cat naps and relaxed moments as possible, with the bus and train journeys too and from work and my trust ipod at hand I've managed to squeeze in some beauty sleep while keeping a third eye open on my phone and bag...
Here are 6 of the tracks currently drifting me off to the pleasant land of semi-nod....
1) A Case Of You - Prince ; Cover version of the Joni Mitchell classic, starts with the second verse and builds it up slowly. Easily the best track on the Joni Mitchell Covers album, effortless.
2) Saturday Sun - Nick Drake ; Even without his guitar, just playing piano and singing should still put Nick Drake up with the best of them...
3) Echoes - Pink Floyd ; Not for the faint hearted and definitely not for The Ramones fans, this track builds at a snails pace but when the harmony vocals drop in it makes you realise why they have sold a zillion copies...
4) Solid Air - John Martyn ; I actually love this song so much when I saw him play live at Shepherds Bush Empire and he DIDN'T play it I went looking for him and as he drove out of the back entrance banged on his car window, looking visibly freaked out (and pissed) his driver sensibly floored the accelerator leaving me clenched fist...listen to this title track about his friend Nick Drake and you'll understand why, its hypnotic.
5) Your A Big Girl Now - Bob Dylan ; This track from possibly his best work "Blood On The Tracks" just floats along with such loose precision and throw away lines that somehow still work because of the sentiment and bigger picture surrounding the songs and the album as a whole.
6) Drifting - Jimi Hendrix ; This track released after his death in 1970 is just another piece of evidence that as well as being the greatest guitar player ever to twang a stratocaster he was also an amazing songwriter and producer. In the same Curtis Mayfield guitar style as "Bold As Love" this song weaves in and out of the listeners speakers along with a vibraphone as a perfect complement.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 15:36
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Al Pacino set to play Phil Spector in new rock biopic.
This is the news that greeted me as I flicked on the news this morning. Al Pacino? Michael Corlenone? (The Godfather), Tony Montana? (Scarface), the Devil! (Devils Advocate) is now up for the roll of Rock and Roll pop producer and genius Phil Spector (currently serving 19 years to life for murder). It does sound a juicy plot that would have Hollywood rubbing their hands, a story of a teen genius, millionaire by 21, pioneer in the industry, number 1 records, rubbing shoulders with everyone from The Beatles to Elvis then to become a virtual recluse in his gothic mansion while his muse and then wife was kept under almost lock and key due to his growing jealousy and obsessive nature. The rock and roll Howard Hughes. But Al Pacino? You got to be kidding.
Al Pacino plays the tough guy rolls well. You believe him. Phil Spector was never a tough guy, he hung around with tough guys, paid big strong ex-cops to be his bodyguards, and he was always carrying a gun or two but would hope to never have to be in the situation where his bluff was called (in his teenage years his bluff was indeed called and the actions that happened mentally scarred him for the rest of his life)
Al Pacino likes to shout in his movies…he’s a shouter…Spector is petulant , he throws tantrums like a spoiled child when he doesn’t get is way…i.e. you want to leave his home after 8 hours of not doing anything (see his time with The Ramones for more details)
In the late 90s rock journalist and film maker Cameron Crowe wanted to make a definitive Phil Spector movie and even cast Tom Cruise in the lead but it fell apart as he could never get the 3rd act of the movie script to end with a satisfying conclusion. One fell into his lap with the eventual court case and imprisonment but I don’t think it was what he wanted when he first envisioned Phil’s comeback record with UK band Starsailor being the start of something wonderful to come.
Al Pacino is a wonderful actor, one of the best ever in my opinion but I think he would be drastically mis-cast as this role. I’m sure he is more than capable of pulling off a performance that wouldn’t be embarrassing but for a figure like Phil Spector a little more is needed. I would personally select Paul Reubens as a candidate. I know people will assume I’m joking but I think he would nail it. He is a great actor and has just enough of the madness within to be childish yet serious. His performance in “Blow” with Johnny Depp proved he was much more than just Pee Wee Herman. He might not be as bankable to the producers as a big name like Pacino but he’ll make the art needed and for someone like Spector it’s the art that matters.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 14:39
Thursday 7th October and thanks to a heads up by one of my mates I'd been lined up for some session playing for a group playing a gig in town. After acquiring the needed bass guitar (for it was that I was playing rather than the standard guitar I was used to)I proceeded to the venue and squinted my way through the set following notes and chords jotted down on a piece of A4 at my feet. The gig was fun, 5 songs and sorted. The journey home was a headache. In central London on week night a good hour after the last trains had vanished and carrying a very expensive Fender Jazz bass that wasn't mine I thought the safest option was the call Addison Lee cabs and get home. What they sent was someone who the CIA must have trained up in mind torture, every opinion more idiotic and pathetic than the last and although I would try and cut conversations short even trying "the phone off" by beeping and flicking through already read messages in a vain attempt to give him a clue but it seems this was a man on a mission. If I'd started this tale a bit sooner I would have combined his insanity into a new "sacred cows" page as the bands he mentioned as being his favourites were such dross as "Status Quo" (THE Quo! as he called them) and "Dire Straits" who also climb the ladder near the top of the worst bands, singers, guitarists of all time in my opinion. Music for people that don't like music... I would rather slice my member off with a rusty bread knife than sit through even a minute of anything off of "Brothers In Arms" or god help me a Mark Knopfler solo outing. As the insanity carried on and the wind started getting up in my sails I cut him short with a "what the fuck about Hendrix?"... (as his ramblings about guitars reached fever pitch) he casually brushed this away with "I never really understood why it needed to be so loud and so aggressive"....no mate and you never will. God how I hate people... after the revolution and the armies have everyone lined up against the wall I will distribute a ten point questionnaire a mark lower than 7 will result in immediate death. Tough rules for a safer Britain...hail biggus dickus!
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:43
Friday, 8 October 2010
Frazey Ford – Obadiah
"Obadiah"is the début solo album from Canadian singer songwriter Frazey Ford. Once a member of Appalachian styled country song smiths The Be Good Tanyas she's now reinvented her sound to a smoother relaxed soul tinged flavour reminiscent of After The Gold rush/Harvest Era Neil Young (heard especially in the albums opener “Firecracker”) mixed with the best of southern soul.
Where as the Joni Mitchell comparisons are easy to make when describing Fords light vocals (especially when listening to the 3rd track “Bird Of Paradise”) I would personally think of her more as a anti folk Ronnie Spector or even Dolly Parton as her tones and vowels quivers under the arrangements at the end of the phase.
The album is a slow burner that works very well as a whole piece with other stand out tracks including the modern R&B flavoured “Blue Streak Mama” which flows without the typical synths and lazy drum machine beats you would come to expect from the lacklustre hits coming under the “soul” bracket at the moment. “Obadiah” is a mixed collections of styles that stop at each road across the map of American music, from country to soul to rock to folk. “Lost Together” is framed in a Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris arrangement with the vocals snaking around each other that resolve perfectly on each chorus.
“Hey Little Mama” is another stand-out of the album that points the spotlight on Fords singing with minimal backing including brush played drums used to great effect. Other numbers on the second half of the 13 strong list include “Half In” and the UN-gospelly “The Gospel Song”. “Half In” with its “Time Out Of Mind” atmosphere and double bass anchoring the slow rhythm as the Hammond Organ weaves in and out the vocals with great results.
The obligatory Bob Dylan cover actually fits perfectly as a bookend to the songs included here. Her version of “One More Cup Of Coffee” although faithful to the original doesn't really bring anything new to the table (unlike The White Stripes version) if anything it gives the second half of the album an added boost from a songwriter of Dylan's pedigree.
"Obadiah" ends with “Mimi Song” a slow ballad which speaks of redemption and acceptance of someone leaving something precious behind (a child? A love? Another time?) Like John Martyn's arguably best work “Solid Air” “Obadiah” is a album best heard late at night and when it finishes you almost wake back into reality like a hypnotized stooge after being in another place for the last 60+ mins. A keeper and one to be troubling the best albums list's of this year.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:42
Due to few angry hipsters out there that got their “ironic” Pac-Man underwear in a twist about my “lost classics” post I have re-named it Re-discovered classics now.
For those of you not in “the know” this is where I list some old and in some cases new-ish tracks that might have flown so low under the radar that they were missed altogether or simply just great songs you aren’t ever going to hear on XFM or see on
Here’s my October List.
1)Berlin – Lou Reed ; This is the version from his first solo album “Lou Reed” as opposed to the version on the “Berlin” album a few years later. I’ve always preferred this version as it doesn’t sound quite as dark and murky as the re-make.
2)96 Tears – Question Mark and The Mysterians ; This garage rock nugget from the Cameo Parkway label was kept in limbo for years due to the ownership of the label not re-releasing any of the companies songs onto cd so the only way to hear this would have been if you owned it on vinyl or watched some grainy footage on YouTube. Its now available everywhere and is a great frat party classic with its cheap spooky sounding organ and straight 4/4 scratchy guitar riff.
3)Don’t Let Me In - Steely Dan ; This track is only available on a compilation of pre debut album tracks by Donald Fagan and Walter Becker called “Beginnings” while they were struggling songwriters pitching their work in New York. While the seeds of what was to come are evident the overall sound of it is more bluesy and innocent than the later sardonic high brow jazz infused pop classics they were to become famous for.
4)So Alive – Ryan Adams ; This is a prime example of a song that I’d catch hell from some Nike-Air wearing fringe telling me its not “lost” as it’s their favourite track ever, but it’s one that doesn’t get played enough and mentioned in the same breath as other tracks in the Ryan Adams catalogue where I actually would argue that it’s his finest moment and the best track on the “Rock N Roll” album. Great chiming Marr-esque guitars interweaving with each other on a wave of echo with Ryan Adams singing in his best Morrissey tenor, a definite main-stay in my DJ box.
5)You Needed More – The Sleepy Jackson ; The opening track from the 2nd album (no I’m not American and refuse to call it sophomore album!”…their 2nd album “Personality – One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird” . This track is full of the trademarks of front man, songwriter and chief Luke Steele's heroes, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson are all included in the reverb laden drums and shakers and the choral harmonies thickening up the hook and expanding the middle 8 into classic blissed out territories. Definitely don’t file next to your Cramps CDs…
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:20
Thursday, 7 October 2010
At the start of the week the world (NME.com) was shocked to see Velvet Underground drummer Maureen (Moe) Tucker being interviewed on TV, and not because the 66 year old mother of 5 confirmed catholic was looking to start a revolution or promote heroin use to the nation mind but simply because of who she had come out to promote and discuss.
She was there to stand with The Tea Party, a conservative right wing political group in the USA. This didn't go down well with the staunch Left wing (bordering on communism manifesto) reading students that run the indie paper who felt she was "voting wrong", after all she'd played drums on some of the most influential records of all time and had been the benchmark for such other bands as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Hatcham Social and right up to any other drummer that stands up and plays primal 2 lick drum beats. "How dare she vote for these right wing idiots!" they gasped, who the hell did this free woman who'd paid into the system without ever really making any profit (The Velvet Underground's biggest record still never actually charted so royalties were pointless)think she was? Which leads me to believe that the underlying message of the left wing parties seems to be "freedom of speech unless you say something I don't like". Below I have listed some other so called "wrong" rock stars that happily vote or voted Conservative or Right Wing parties. Remember just as the Nazis get labelled "right wing"..then Stalin and Chairman Mao must get labeled "left wing" so it's all a big row in the middle of the same hypocrisy.
Freedom of speech and the right to vote are the only way things can ever change and making your own mind up is the last bit of freedom the government have left us to fight over. Personally I like musicians and artists by the work they create call me crazy, Bob Dylan could be a paid up member of Al-Qaeda for all I care "Blonde On Blonde" is still a 5 star banger...
5 RIGHT WING ROCK STARS
1) JOHNNY RAMONE (THE RAMONES) - Staunch Republican supporter even on his induction quoted "God bless President Bush, and God bless America".
2) Ted Nugent - The 70s guitar slinger holds all the republican values very close to his puffed out chest beating heart, basically leave my guns,money and bible the hell alone. If your looking for a hand out then move on down the road.
3) Elvis Presley - The king of rock and roll himself wrote a rambling 6 page letter to Richard Nixon explaining his worries about the drug crazed youth movements and how everyone should be watching out for the hippies,counter culture and black panther movements even going as far as putting himself forward as an agent to infiltrate them (not the panthers though I think!)
4) Ian Curtis (JOY DIVISION) - I can almost hear 1000 emo students fainting at the thought of this one but the Joy Division doe eyed singer/songwriter/ face of a generation was also a supporter of the Conservative party even voting for Margaret Thatcher in 1979 which brought her into power over the Labour Party.
5) 50 CENT - A fan of George W Bush going as far to call him "gangsta" as funny as that sounds and as bad of a president he was 50 (sorry FIDDY) didn't actually get to vote for anyone as his felony conviction upheld by Bush prevented him...I think they call that biting the hand that feeds you George..
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:59
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Anna Calvi LIVE @ Madam Jo Jo's -Soho,London
This was the second time I'd see Anna Calvi and her band and I can honestly say she has upped her game and polished off her performance to the next level. While some might argue that by doing this she has lost some of the spontaneity and rawness she originally had I would disagree and say she's simply channeled it back to the audience. Her individual playing was much more focused and during particular "musical" moments she was playing runs and notes that sounded like she was exorcising her deepest rock and roll heroes (especially during the outro of the last song "Love Won't Be Leaving"...BUT wait a minute I'm getting a head of myself here.. She started off with a building and tense guitar intro that sounded like something from a Robert Rodriguez film before dropping into "No More Words"...her band supporting her voice and guitar on drums and a multitude of instruments (I counted another 5 just from one other multi instrumentalist band member) "Blackout" followed in the set which got the crowd moving and earned the drummer his pay. After a quick bit of promo for the new single (out Monday 11Th no less) "Jezebel" her cover of the Edith Piaf track. Anna Calvi is out on the road now with Nick Cave's new band Grinderman and I can see why he chose her as she can do slow and sexy blues with the best of them, sometimes during almost haunting Jeff Buckley-esque moments she brings the volume down so low you could hear a pin drop or mouse fart (or which ever euphemism you want to choose!)before exploding the band into another fuzz guitar workout firing incendiary licks from her already battered telecaster. Other tracks included in her short set were "I'll Be Your Man", "Moulinette", "Desire" (another standout and contender for next single). She was supported by Düd who with there math rock alt noise 1 trick pony lick of Negative Creep played in 6/8 time didn't really blow the cobwebs off any ones trilby....
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:00
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
On the day that another brainwashed religious fanatical idiot was sent down for life in NYC for his crazy beliefs about martyrs,gods and virgins I thought as a nice change of pace to throw in the TOP 10 best GOD songs!!!!
and remember he's NOT the messiah, he's very naughty boy!
10)Godwhacker - Steely Dan - cool 70s jazz rock mixed with William Burroughs-esqe lyrics and Woody Allen views of the world.
09) Our Prayer - Brian Wilson - A chorus wave of vocals orchestrated by Brother Brian sung in a wordless interweaving of notes and chords, inspiring.
08) A Love Supreme - John Coltrane - The Whole Album is broken up into 4 parts "Acknowledgement","Resolution","Pursuance","Psalm", his album after his drug addiction that he praises the almighty from freeing him from the chains of heroin.
07) Forever Loving Jah! - Bob Marley - a vague connection? Possibly...whether jah is god or just his dealer Bob Marley sings like a man who knows something we don't.
06) A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke - I know purists will argue its more of a civil rights song but Sam Cooke's gospel infused vocals and worries about what's waiting for him "beyond the sky" gives a true reading into the challenges of "faith"..
05) Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum - 60s swampy pop song..great melody from the deep south.
04) Awaiting on You All - George Harrison - this 1970 track from "All Things Must Pass" is a screaming,hollering,fainting in the isle's gospel track with shakers and tambourines a plenty with the Phil Spector production..Krishna-krishna George!
03) Every Grain Of Sand - Bob Dylan ; from just after his new born christian period comes this work of poetic genius that almost pushes me over to the burning bush...but not quite.
02) GOD SAID - Todd Rundgren - A late entry from one of his newest albums "Liars"..a conversation from the view point of a man and then god replying that like everyone else in history this guy has got it wrong and missed the point as well...
01) GOD - JOHN LENNON "I don't believe in Jesus, kings, yoga,Zimmerman, Beatles"..who does he believe in?..."me...Yoko and me...that's reality"
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 16:38
Monday, 4 October 2010
Magnetic Man – Magnetic Man album review
Magnetic Man is the new monika of 3 of dubsteps most respected producers/artists consisting of DJ’s Benga, Skream and Artwork. From this albums first single “I Need Air” (released this summer) on Columbia they were already pushing the envelope in the genre and gaining more fans in high places both sides of the Atlantic with both their music and impressive live show with along with their triple threat mix of drums, bass and loops/samples combined with light show have brought their brand to the masses.
This album on paper seems like it might be a case of “too many cooks spoil the broth” but in fact everyone contributes their individual areas as part of a well oiled machine. It seems like ego’s were checked at the door and everyone was pulling together for the bigger picture.
Guests on the album include the comeback kid Ms Dynamite on the track “Fire” (with her best dancehall licks), Katy B who is climbing the greasy pole and making her mark with 2 contributions here both definite highlights to the whole, including “Crossover” with its deep reverb laden bass line and almost early Massive Attack chill out production and “Perfect Stranger” definitely a bench mark of this collection of songs, harking back to a more jungle-orientated anthem mixed with a old skool almost New Order era drum loop for the chorus probably orchestrated by Benga (a live drive aficionado) as opposed to the more drum machine/sample choices of Skream. “Boiling Water” features Sam Frank in this breaks heavy and autotuned (arrrrgh!) track.
Worthwhile but a little bordering on filler with some of the other tracks including “Ping Pong” with its cascading arpeggio keys motif but fails to really go anyway where as “Box Of Ghosts” with its very minimal simplistic production show that sometimes less isn’t always more.
Strings and orchestration have played an important part on this LP and this is one of the avenues the collective (I refuse to use the term supergroup) have explored. “Karma Crazy”, “Flying Into Tokyo” both are lifted by the dramatically overblown string arrangement mixed with the growling bassline giving us an almost dubstep Bond theme.
The album finishes off with another guest appearance but unlike artists in the rock and pop field each selection here have been chosen by what contribution the artist can make rather than trading off their name to sell a few more units and John Legend on the closed “Getting Nowhere” is no exception. His smooth vocals give the track a shine and professionalism that will definitely get this group and record the recognition that they deserve and finish the song cycle in style.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 10:29
Friday, 1 October 2010
Yoko Ono, wife, mother,collaborator,dragon lady, Beatles destroyer, easy scape goat,artist. As we approach what would have been John Lennon's 70Th birthday Yoko Ono is readying the reissue of all his solo output and undertaking a load of interviews and publicity where no doubt she'll have to juggle the same questions from the same hack reporters. I think she gets a hard time of it all, this may sound trite considering she is sitting on about £500 million of Lennon's estate but her character is definitely finalised as far as many people are concerned. I think a drastic overview is needed with this after all she was the person that inspired songs such as Julia (for his mother as well but "ocean child" from the lyrics is the translation of Yoko in Japanese) she also inspired "Jealous Guy", "Imagine" (her book "Grapefruit" has "imagine...." as a concept on each page) there are others too but mainly she unleashed Lennon's inner freak that was dying to get out from day one rather than just simply being his girlfriend. Every rock and roll star wants "his Yoko" someone that challenges them as an artist and understands them, for a genius that bordered on insanity it must have felt like a warm comfort blanket rather than having to "explain" himself to a blank expression Liverpool sheltered ex-wife.
As a Beatles and Lennon fan I always hated having to share him with her like on albums where she got equal billing for songs...personally I'd rather have 10 songs by him rather than 5 a piece from either but that's not to say she never contributed any good songs because she did and they stand up. Here are my top 5 Yoko songs for you to dig out, listen to or dis-regard as the ravings of a mad man with a Friday morning hangover.
1.Winter Song - great slow atmospheric song with lovely production from "Approximately Infinite Universe" album
2.Born In A Prison - first song I gave any notice to, full Phil Spector production and Lennon on backing vocals, one of the high lights from the dismal "Sometime In New York City" album.
3.Walking On Thin Ice - Great track from "Double Fantasy" sessions.
4.Listen, The Snow Is Falling - a great track with session ace Nicky Hopkins playing electric piano, an alternative white Xmas track for the hipsters..
5.Don't Worry,Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow) - rock and roll jam with avant-garde vocals typical of Yoko Ono in this period, but it does rock, not for everyone and not on my ipod daily list but for when you need to clean out the cobwebs and fly your freak flag a little then crank it.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 08:53