Tuesday, 24 April 2012

JACK WHITE - HMV FORUM 23/04/12


Jack White has always been a dynamite live act so figuratively speaking there were no doubts that last night’s opener gig at the HMV Forum was always going to be great from the moment the date was set. White was in London promoting his debut solo album ‘Blunderbuss’ (released on the 23/04/12) and although he had announced that he would be including music from all of his previous bands I don’t think the fans could have comprehended how jam packed it was going to be with smile inducing fist pumping greasy rock and roll from all of his previous incarnations. Whether you’re a fan of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather or simply from his latest solo outing this gig was catered for you. Songs and arrangements of well loved classics were reinterpreted and played loud, fast and full on from the opener ‘Dead Leaves on The Dirty Ground’ to ‘Blue Blood Blues’ which showed his new all girl backing group showing their chops and proving once again the Prince ideal that a band full of guys is great but if you can find a group of girls that play just as good as the guys, always go with the girls as it looks ten times cooler and sexier. Ruby Amanfu (from Sam & Ruby fame pop pickers) is on hand to handle backing vocals as well as a duet with White on ‘Love Interruption’ and with the incredible Brook Waggoner on keys and piano it shows that Jack has been tearing through Nashville’s music scene with vigour of late and plucking the ripest talent available.

As well as playing fan favourites such as ‘Hotel Yorba’ (complete with a searing country violin solo), ‘My Doorbell’, ‘Top Yourself’ (from The Raconteurs era) and the incendiary ‘Ball and a Biscuit’ (recently voted number 1 favourite Jack White song by Rolling Stone magazine) he also included ‘Two Against One‘ from the ‘Rome’ project with producer Daniele Luppi and Dangermouse which got a great reception and also helped pace the set and perfectly led the more quiet section of the gig into ‘We Are Going to Be Friends’. Although throughout the gig hits, fan favourites and brand new material such as ‘Sixteen Saltines’ were played with finesse and raw power this never seemed like an artist simply playing it safe or choosing songs that he felt would go down the best with the press.

The song selection as a whole was concrete proof that the well of cast iron material available to him at any one time is limitless and whereas others look at him as a obsessive workaholic creating bands and projects time after time and almost schizophrenically changing his repertoire and look/image of the band he is just creating a legacy that will live forever.

The gig ended with a solo Jack White and acoustic guitar gently playing the Lead Belly country blues classic ‘Goodnight, Irene’ which sent the fans away happy and content and proving that including Blues, Country, Noise, Power and Attitude into a single evening can best be described as simply Rock and Roll...

Set List
'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground'
'Freedom At 21'
'Missing Pieces'
'Love Interruption'
'Top Yourself'
'Hotel Yorba'
'Hypocritical Kiss'
'Weep Themselves To Sleep'
'I'm Slowly Turning Into You'
'Two Against One'
'We're Going To Be Friends'
'On And On And On'
'Blue Blood Blues'
'Ball And Biscuit'
'Sixteen Saltines'
'Take Me With You When You Go'
'My Doorbell'
'Carolina Drama'
'Seven Nation Army'
'Goodnight, Irene'

Jack White is set to return in June for more UK gigs, including a set at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend event in London on June 23.

'orignally posted on the 405'
many thanks to Liv Willars at Co-Operative Music photo by Valerio Berdini - LIVE on 35mm http://liveon35mm.wordpress.com

Friday, 20 April 2012

Levon Helm R.I.P - Bob Dylan's Response

While tributes flood in regarding the death of Levon Helm, one of the most poignant has been from friend, collaborator and 'band' mate Bob Dylan... "In response to Levon’s passing. He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I'm going to miss him, as I'm sure a whole lot of others will too. Bob Dylan April 19, 2012"

Thursday, 19 April 2012

THE GREAT ESCAPE: 42 BANDS TO JOIN 2012 LINEUP •FOURTH WAVE OF ACTS FOR 2012 CONFIRMED, INCLUDING DJ LEO ZERO, WE HAVE BAND, TRIBES, REN HARVIEU, WILLIS EARL BEAL, THE MILK, POND, CHRIS T-T, HOLLIE COOK, DAN LE SAC, NATHAN FAKE AND THE DEFILED •RED STRIPE LAGER TO SPONSOR 2012 STREET GIGS •TGE HUB CENTRAL AREA TO RETURN FOR 2012 •RETURN OF THE ALTERNATIVE ESCAPE 42 new escapees today announced their plans to join the other outlaws already flocking to THE GREAT ESCAPE 2012. The 42 new acts will be perpetrating a veritable crimewave of shows in 30 venues across the city. New acts set to hit the seaside town this year include legendary house pioneer DJ LEO ZERO, disco-rock leftfielders WE HAVE BAND, Norfolk based electro-bumpkin NATHAN FAKE, groove-metal up setters THE DEFILED, rapturous indie stalwarts TRIBES, soulful songstress REN HARVIEU, Chicago raconteur WILLIS EARL BEAL, soul revivalists THE MILK, Australian psych set POND, poetic scribe CHRIS T-T, dub-reggae soloist HOLLIE COOK and hip-hop noise master DAN LE SAC. THE GREAT ESCAPE is also pleased to announce that RED STRIPE LAGER will be sponsoring this year's street gigs. Festival goers should keep their eyes peeled for the Red Stripe van that will travel to each of the street gigs - it is an interactive work of art that has been designed by British artist, Rose Stallard. To find out where the street gigs will be, sign up for the official Great Escape text service (text ESCAPE to 80039*) or follow the van's progress @redstripelager. FORD return to The Great Escape again this year and will be filming more exclusive sessions for BANDSINTRANSIT.COM. Fans should visit the site to see exclusive sessions from this year’s GREAT ESCAPE plus a host of other acts including DRY THE RIVER, CITIZENS!, SPECTOR and MICHAEL KIWANUKA. THE GREAT ESCAPE will once again be deploying a fabulous central hub for the use of all festival goers. This is where you pick up your wristbands and can buy official Great Escape merchandise. There is also a licensed bar serving Red Stripe Lager, Kenco 2 Go hot drinks and snacks like Cadbury’s chocolate and Tyrrells crisps. Oh, and then there’s the music. Bands will be playing throughout the day. DOC MARTENS will be providing a photo booth for the area. Also look out for the Metahub, a great interactive screen installation at the Festival Hub. Click the Metahub link on the official TGE app to share your favourite moments of TGE and see if you make it onto the big screens. The complete list of new acts is as follows: TRIBES, REN HARVIEU, FILTHY BOY, POND, CHRIS T-T, THE MILK, WILLIS EARL BEAL, DAN LE SAC, ZEBRA AND SNAKE, WE HAVE BAND,THOMAS J SPEIGHT, JAKE MATTISON, EUGENE MCGUINNESS, DONOVAN WOODS, DJ LEO ZERO, GORGEOUS GEORGE, THE BOTS, SAM SURE AND GIACOMO, HOLLIE COOK, RAZIKA, CLEAN BANDIT, FRENCH FILMS, THE CROOKES, CHILDHOOD, SUNLESS 97, ECHO LAKE, RED INK, NATHAN FAKE, THE DEFILED, KINNIE THE EXPLORER, LITTLE JINDER, KARIN PARK, DEAR PRUDENCE, LOVEPARK, VINYL JACKET, MAUSI, HYDE & BEAST, FRISKA VILJOR, THE ROYAL CONCEPT, BIG WAVE RIDERS and AGENT SIDE GRINDER. The Alternative Escape will be returning to TGE once again now larger than ever before, taking in over 20 additional venues to the core TGE programme. The Alternative Escape allows promoters, media partners, record labels and anyone else interested in promoting live music to host their own creative showcases as part of the wider Great Escape Festival. Acts to appear on this year’s Alternative Escape bill include DISCLOSURE, FRONTIERS, HOWLER, 22, THE CHAPMAN FAMILY and EAGULLS. On top of this there will be special showcases and secret guests presented by the likes of Sofar Sounds and Republic of Music. For full listings please visit www.escapegreat.com/alternative-escape and follow @altescape on Twitter. To see the full Great Escape line up go to www.escapegreat.com ** **A small number of shows will take place at The Dome in Brighton. To ensure guaranteed access at a Brighton Dome Show, attendees can top up their festival wristband for £7 per show, or purchase a separate gig ticket at www.escapegreat.com TGE revellers can rest their weary feet and heads right in the midst of the action without breaking the bank – Brighton’s JOURNEYS HOSTEL will sleep partied-out festival goers for just £30 a night. Just a stone’s throw from the beach and all TGE, this social hub for festival goers offers a brilliant atmosphere and, with the hostel promising to deliver the lowest possible price for their stay, truly unbeatable value. The Great Escape will return to the bustling British seaside city of Brighton from 10th-12th May 2012, presenting festival-goers with over 300 new local and international artists across 30 different venues throughout the city. Running alongside this is the Great Escape convention programme hosting a variety of insightful industry talks, panel debates, targeted networking sessions and key note interviews for industry professionals and music business fans. THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL BRIGHTON, WEST SUSSEX, UK THURSDAY 10 – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2012 3-DAY FESTIVAL TICKETS £49.50 SINGLE & TWO DAY FESTIVAL TICKETS from £22.50 MAXIMO PARK - TOP UP (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £7 (top up a 3-day festival ticket to ensure guaranteed access to Temper Trap show) MAXIMO PARK - SINGLE TICKET (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £12.50 (guaranteed access to Maximo Park show only) THE TEMPER TRAP - TOP UP (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £7 (top up a 3-day festival ticket to ensure guaranteed access to Temper Trap show) THE TEMPER TRAP - SINGLE TICKET (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £14.50 (guaranteed access to Temper Trap show only) AFRICA EXPRESS SOUND SYSTEM - TOP UP (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £7 (top up a 3-day festival ticket to ensure guaranteed access to Africa Express Sound System show) AFRICA EXPRESS SOUND SYSTEM - SINGLE TICKET (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £18.50 (guaranteed access to Africa Express Sound System show only) Access to a number of our shows is available to a 14+ audience. Please see the website for further information http://escapegreat.com/festival-line-up/14+shows TO PURCHASE TICKETS and for further information: www.escapegreat.com/buyTickets/ & SEE Tickets: 0870 264 3333 Artist Registration is now closed 3-DAY DELEGATE TICKETS (SAVER – limited availability) £150 Delegate tickets allow access to TGE industry convention & networking programme and priority access to all core programme gig venues, subject to each venues capacity Industry Delegate Hotel has now SOLD OUT For further information please contact Borkowski Arts & Ents: +44 (0)203 176 27 00 Louise Thompson: 07932 652 495 / louise@markborkowski.co.uk Giles Cooper: 07850 769 189 / giles@markborkowski.co.uk Festival Accreditation: thegreatescape@markborkowski.co.uk

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

THE GREAT ESCAPE 2012 - PRESS RELEASE




THE GREAT ESCAPE 2012:

AFRICA EXPRESS SOUNDSYSTEM TO PLAY ONE-OFF SET AT THE BRIGHTON DOME ON 12th MAY

•REVOLUTIONARY MUSIC COLLABORATION PROJECT FEATURING THE FINEST MUSICIANS FROM AFRICA AND THE WEST
•ONE-OFF SHOW IS UNIQUE CHANCE TO SEE AFROTRONICA, A CROSS-CULTURAL EXPLOSION OF GENRES ON ONE STAGE

Africa Express Sound System (AESS) brings together the best and brightest musicians from Africa and the West to collaborate in hugely-acclaimed one-off shows. Each one is different, with new artists coming together to explore new frontiers and develop new sounds. Now Brighton’s Great Escape Festival is giving you the chance to catch this convention-defying collective on 12th May at the Brighton Dome.

Among those artists coming along for their Great Escape gig* are the following - and there will be more:

Diabel Cissoko - long one of the most intriguing figures on the Senegalese music scene, combining diverse influences with traditional instruments and heritage.

Jesse Hackett (Elmore Judd / Gorillaz / Owiny Sigoma ) - acts as musical director of AESS when not providing keyboards for Gorillaz.

Spoek Mathambo - MOBO-nominated DJ and producer hailing from South Africa and making huge waves around the world for both his tunes and his amazing videos.

John McClure (Reverend and the Makers) fast-talking frontman of British indie sensations Reverend & the Makers, about to release their much-anticipated third album.

M3NSA - Ghanaian hip hop pioneer, dividing his time between producing and rapping. Currently can be heard on the new Rocketjuice and the Moon album.

Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes) - The charismatic front woman of the Noisettes is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary British indie.

Mim Suleiman - from Zanzibar, she defies categorisation but has been described as ‘Miriam Makeba meets Aretha Franklin’.

Thristian ‘bpm’ (Boiler Room) – DJ and Producer with world-leading underground music show The Boiler Room.

Terri Walker - Legendary British singer/songwriter and a cornerstone of the UK soul scene.

Jesse Hackett said “Africa Express has been a truly life changing experience. Since Mali in 2006 it’s had a profound effect on me spiritually and musically. Becoming musical director for the Africa express sound system is an honour..... The Africa Express Sound System is hitting Brighton on the 12th of May for a night of deep African electronic exploration. Featuring master Cuban and Gambian percussionists, a Senegalese kora virtuoso, vocalists from Ghana, Zanzibar and Soweto, the finest producers / DJs and a whole host of amazing UK singers and surprise artists . Expect a joyous spontaneous heavy and mind altering journey into the unknown”

Mensa said “Brilliant! I can't wait to see what we cook up this time! Free spirited super talented artists all in one magical cooking pot! I'm always as pleasantly surprised as the audience themselves!”

The Great Escape will return to the bustling British seaside city of Brighton from 10th-12th May 2012, presenting festival-goers with over 300 new local and international artists across 30 different venues throughout the city. Running alongside this is the Great Escape convention programme hosting a variety of insightful industry talks, panel debates, targeted networking sessions and key note interviews for industry professionals and music business fans.

To ensure guaranteed access at the Africa Express Soundsystem performance, attendees can top up their festival wristband for £7 per show, or purchase a separate gig ticket at www.escapegreat.com

*Artist line up subject to change without notice
THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL
BRIGHTON, WEST SUSSEX, UK
THURSDAY 10 – SATURDAY 12 MAY 2012

3-DAY FESTIVAL TICKETS £49.50

SINGLE & TWO DAY FESTIVAL TICKETS from £22.50

AFRICA EXPRESS SOUNDSYSTEM - TOP UP (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £7
(top up a 3-day festival ticket to ensure guaranteed access to Africa Express Sound System show)

AFRICA EXPRESS SOUNDSYSTEM - SINGLE TICKET (BRIGHTON DOME SHOW) £18.50
(guaranteed access to Africa Express Soundsystem show only)


Access to a number of our shows including AFRICA EXPRESS SOUNDSYSTEM is available to a 14+ audience.
Please see the website for further information
http://escapegreat.com/festival-line-up/14+shows


TO PURCHASE TICKETS and for further information:
www.escapegreat.com/buyTickets/ & SEE Tickets: 0870 264 3333

Book Festival Accommodation for the weekend from £90 for three nights:
http://escapegreat.com/book-hotel/festival-accommodation

Artist Registration is now closed

3-DAY DELEGATE TICKETS (SAVER - limited availability) £150
Delegate tickets allow access to TGE industry convention & networking programme and priority
access to all core programme gig venues, subject to each venues capacity

Book the Industry Delegate Hotel for the Weekend from £420 for three nights:
http://escapegreat.com/book-hotel/book-industry-delegate-hotel

For further information please contact Borkowski Arts & Ents: +44 (0)203 176 27 00
Louise Thompson: 07932 652 495 / louise@markborkowski.co.uk
Giles Cooper: 07850 769 189 / giles@markborkowski.co.uk
Festival Accreditation: thegreatescape@markborkowski.co.uk

Monday, 16 April 2012

Knockin' on Heavens stage door...

This passing weekend at California’s Coachella festival fans of hip hop, and music as a whole, were amazed to see Tupac Shakur share the stage with old friends Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as they ripped through their hits one by one. For those of you not aware of the significance of this, let me explain. Tupac has been dead for 15 years! Not in the creative ‘I’m trying something different/ going progressive/ writing my life story/ living in a commune’ dead but actually DEAD. This feat of technology deserves a Grammy in itself as even on repeat viewings I can’t see ‘the wires’, it’s phenomenal work by all those involved and spine tingling when he first appears to the screams of the fans it both inspires and confuses on both sides of the fence.

The questions being asked all over the internet are whether it is right to include people that are no longer living in events that they may or may not have even participated in should they have been alive. In the past we have had John Lennon reunited with The Beatles when the Anthology was released while artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Tupac himself have been offering a steady flow of ‘new’ material year after year, even Heath Ledger has appeared in films after his own tragic death.


The live show this weekend with Tupac, Dre and Snoop definitely shows that when this type of thing works it really works. Far from being an image cut and paste into a film by fancy CGI effects or using footage on a big screen and mixing the audio together with live instrumentation like the recent Zappa Plays Zappa tour (where Frank takes the guitar solo in unison with Dweezil on a nightly basis). This ‘live’ on stage idea seems to cross the final barrier and bring the fans closer to their idol one last time and to show those who aren’t aware why he was so important within the hip hop and pop culture.

Do these albums, films and live gigs lack authenticity and just simply pull on the heart strings of the fans in a ruse to squeeze a little more money from the now defunct cash cow? Or are they crossing new horizons and bringing old footage and memories to life once again and bringing the talents to a new generation in the cyber face to face?

For Hendrix there has been many, many, many recordings released since his death in 1970 and although not every note is a classic piece of work there are definitely reams of diamonds in this mine of post mortality output. Considering he only saw 3 releases in his own lifetime it is amazing that due to his own capabilities, as a recording artist and musician, he was able to squirrel away so much quality material in a very short space of time.

I do believe that it can go too far as executives and keepers of the estate in the past have pushed good taste to the limit. Jimi Hendrix red wine, golf balls and cringe worthy Gibson signature guitars designed to look like his iconic Fender Stratocaster but sold through Gibson as they out-bid Fender as it’s clearly “what Jimi would have wanted”… On the other hand I’m sure that record labels are rubbing their hands at the thought of being able to resurrect old acts and get them ‘touring’ again without having to foot hotel bills and deal with hissy diva behaviour. Will we have Billie Holiday and John Coltrane playing the Apollo Theatre in Harlem once again or even watch a gig in New York and see the Andy Warhol era Velvet Underground in all their glory? It could even be used as a runner up to new material by aging acts, maybe just let the older musicians handle the studio output and send the longer versions of themselves on the road i.e. send out The Rolling Stones 1972 version on the road and keep the 2012 version in the studio?

It’s all down to personal preference I guess and although this could be seen to be a tip of the iceberg when it comes to possibilities regarding deceased artists, the real fan will always prefer something real and different from what they can find on YouTube any day of the week. One of the best things about attending a live show is the interaction between the stage and the audience and considering these ‘concerts’ are made up of previously released footage from older gigs they are still from a different time and place. As exciting as it would be seeing The Beatles at Shea Stadium show transported to the O2 Arena in 2012 I’m sure it would tire by the time it had been toured year after year until the crowd just wised up to the fact that they were watching a £10.99 DVD of the gig projected onto the stage and simply stopped coming back. The technology is here, who'll be the first to pick up the baton and run with it? Bowie? Todd Rundgren? Kraftwerk? (God I hope not)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

10 Greatest Producers


Record producers were once just the businessmen that held the purse strings and went through the mental checklist of creating a hit. Firstly, the artist was chosen from the labels roster, then a suitable writer was selected from the little black book of songwriters and when a song was found that was catchy, commercial and fitting with the bands desired image they were ushered into the recording studio. Once in the studio the vocals were added to a pre-recorded backing track as they weren’t about to start wasting the company’s money on numerous takes when the best session musicians in town could easily knock off the required arrangement in minimal time. This formula was used continually and in some genres of music, is STILL used today! I It was a tried and tested winning recipe for success. There have been many mavericks that did things their own way, that have added their own sounds and flavours to recordings and it is these particular people that are the subject of today’s little dead end rant.

The top 10 Record Producers of all times and the songs that prove it

10. Rick Rubin
The go to producer when your career is either on the slide or needs a reinvention completely. Rubin is blessed with the ability to morph into many roles and wear many styles with equal ease and aplomb. Whether it’s recording Johnny Cash albums like a historian collecting field recordings of lost civilizations or mixing the newest Jay-Z track Rubin is still genuine and fuelled with love for the music on hand. His presence on a recording is as elemental as gravity, the final result would be lost without his input. In 2007 he won Producer of the year in multiple categories as he worked with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (rock), The Dixie Chicks (country), U2 and Green Day. He repeated this amazing feat in 2009 also when he picked up ‘best producer’ gongs for Metallica (metal), Neil Diamond (classic rock/folk), Jakob Dylan (acoustic) and Weezer (rock). As well as being the co-creator of Def Jam records Rubin is one of the true renaissance men in the business.

KEY TRACK: ‘99 Problems’ – Jay-Z


09. Nigel Godrich
There are many types of producer, some just that turn up, control the sessions, point the microphones in the right places and signal to the band when they have the ‘take’ they need. Nigel Godrich always gets much closer to the band and the muse than that. When he is producing Radiohead he becomes one of the band, he is another member of Radiohead. It’s the care and control over every individual sound going on the record that he has worked on to make it sound the very best that it can so that the song itself has such a strong cradle that the band only have to worry about the performance.

KEY SONG: ‘Everything in Its Right Place’ – Radiohead

08. Frank Zappa
A controversial choice I’d freely admit but when you think about the type of records he was making and the finished product it’s probably more shocking that he’s not higher up the list. As it’s well documented Zappa wrote continually whether it was on tour, in a hotel room or at home in his own studio. On the road new pieces were rehearsed daily and later added to the live shows (which were all recorded as well). When he finally got home and was ready to record the actual version to be released he would use these ‘road recordings’ and a razor blade and manually slice guitar solos and drum tracks out of them before taping them and mixing them perfectly in sync to the now home studio overdubs. In the days before digital editing and Pro Tools it is a work of genius and very steady hand!

KEY SONG: ALL of ‘Apostrophe’ – Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention

07. Martin Hannett
Dubbed the ‘Phil Spector of Manchester’ due to his love of echo and reverb on his recordings, Martin Hannett was never going to be just a background boy in the studio that pressed record. Like Spector before him his explosive temper and difficult personality caused a lot of friction with musicians and engineers, although when the artists heard back through the speakers his interpretation of the original song they’d played to him, they couldn’t really argue. As well as being one of the forefront users of digital echo he also worked first hand with the makers of the reverb and echo effects and gave detailed explanations and technical schematics discussing where they were going wrong.

KEY SONG: ‘Atmosphere’ – Joy Division

06. Tom Dowd
Tom Dowd was just as famous as a recording engineer as he was producer. Learning his trade working for Atlantic Records he not only recorded both in MONO and true Stereo at a time when Stereo wasn’t even commercially available just so he could build a library on the back burner in case times changed (they later did and Atlantic were one of the very few labels to offer genuine alternatives rather than hastily remixed and panned ‘fake stereo’). Apart from his technical abilities and talents capturing the sound of the bands and artists he dealt with in all genres (Rock, Blues, Jazz, R&B) he was also free thinking enough to invent a problem to the ergonomically challenging volume and tone dials on the mixing desk by building the very first sliding faders in a studio. An idea he later regretted not patenting as this is the world wide standard now for ALL commercial studios.

KEY SONG: ‘Layla’ – Eric Clapton (a.k.a Derek & The Dominoes)

05. Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips seems to get overlooked when it comes to production mainly due to the snobbery surrounding the times in which the recordings were made (1950’s) as if technical limitations would have held him back and so he couldn’t really be considered along side those of the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. I would say that this proves him to be even greater than some of these for the very same reason. The fabled Sun Studios in Memphis is still today discussed in hushed tones due to its amazing natural live sound as well as the hand made and designed echo effects such as ‘slap back echo’, which Phillips himself designed, and everyone from Elvis, Gene Vincent, John Lennon to Liam Gallagher use to brighten up their vocals. Sam Phillips was a true pioneer and innovator in every respect and is even responsible for recording and producing the Ike Turner written, ‘Rocket 88’ which has been stamped officially as the first Rock and Roll song,

KEY SONG: ‘Rocket 88’ – Jackie Brenston & his Delta Cats

04. Joe Meek
From his flat in Holloway Road, London, Joe Meek created something that no other producer/artist before had managed to achieve. With ‘Telstar’ he produced a UK single that went number 1 in America. A true genius with sound and recording techniques Meek managed to make guitars sound like spiky bolts and a string quartet perched in a bathroom sound like a whole orchestra. Limitations were put upon him in regards to space and equipment (a lot of which he made himself) although these hurdles were seen as simple challenges that were corrected with minor inconvenience to him (although his put upon landlady would disagree as she noticed liquid rubber dripping from her newly painted ceilings after one particular ‘correction’).

KEY SONG: ‘Have I The Right?’ – The Honeycombs

03. Brian Wilson
As the leader of The Beach Boys it only seemed natural that the person creating the music and vocal arrangements should be producing the group’s records. After many heated arguments with his father (who up to then had taken the production job upon himself) Brian seized power in the studio as well as within the band itself. Using his love for Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ he created his very own ‘Wave of Love’ which used Spector’s initial idea of multi-instrumentation. Where as Spector achieved his ‘wall’ by meticulously doubling up many of the same instruments Wilson arranged and orchestrated rock and roll with mainly classical instruments such as French Horn (listen to the intro of ‘God Only Knows’ for this).

KEY SONG: ‘California Girls’ – The Beach Boys

02, George Martin
A definite ‘back room boy’ that was already well into his distinguished career when The Beatles manager Brian Epstein asked if Parlaphone (a comedy music label) would be interested in signing “his boys”. George Martin was another producer that worked ‘with’ the band rather than ‘for’ them. When you think of a song like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ in its barest bones form demo of Lennon and a acoustic guitar and then listen to the final bombastic version you will see EXACTLY what Martin brought to the group. He managed to understand exactly what they meant when they couldn’t explain themselves fully. During the ‘Revolver’ album when John Lennon described a sound he wanted on the song ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to sound like “the Dalai Lama chanting from a hilltop” Martin understood and immediately began hooking up the Hammond Organ’s Leslie Speaker to the microphone input resulting in one of the definitive psychedelic records of all time and one that has been copied countless times since.

KEY SONG: ‘A Day in the Life’ – The Beatles

01. Phil Spector
Number 1 is always going to be the position where the most arguments arise so it seems only right that someone who loves a heated argument more than most should fill this spot. Harvey Phillip Spector was 19 years old when he wrote and produced his first number 1 record. ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ was taken from the epitaph on his own fathers grave stone that read ‘To Know Him Was To Love Him’ and knowing this about him opens up the kind of drive and fire Spector had inside him from day one. He learnt production from Gold Star Studios’ Stan Ross as well as being the sorcerers apprentice to hit makers Leiber and Stoller who happily let the young Spector sit in on many of their New York sessions (even letting him play guitar on some such as ‘On Broadway’ by The Drifters). Once Phil had learnt all he needed he immediately started producing full time and although got off to a slow start after his first number one he soon found his niche and managed to score an impressive 20 top 10 singles including 5 hitting the top spot in both the USA and UK.

Phil Spector was also the first producer to be credited as such. Before then it was generally “recorded by” or simply not listed at all on the label. When Spector arrived it became “PRODUCED BY PHIL SPECTOR” and this grand statement almost meant more to the record buying public and radio DJ’s than which artists the song was by. A lot of the time the artists were the least important aspect of the record as they were all interchangeable musicians and singers from his vast stable. The Crystals who sang ‘Da-Doo-Ron-Ron’ weren’t the same Crystals that sung ‘He’s a Rebel’ although it was credited to them it was in fact Darlene Love singing the lead vocals who moonlighted between being his first call backing singer and her group, The Blossoms, she was also a solo star and part of Bobby Sox and the Blue Jeans.

After many successes Spector’s first commercial flop was the now classic ‘River Deep Mountain High’ sung by Tina Turner (although credited to both Ike and Tina Turner for contractual reasons). The jury is still out on why it flopped stateside although many insiders in the industry saw it one of two ways. The first being that by the time the song was released Spector had many hits under his belt and flat refused to pay the ‘payola’ required to get a single played on the radio (payola was UN-official money given in a brown paper bag that bribes radio DJ’s to play singles and up the chances of hits). The other reason given was that the industry as a whole was sick of Spector’s one man monopoly of the charts and wanted to bring him down a few pegs to teach him a lesson in humility. Either way after its commercial failure, aged 26, Phil Spector retired. He came out of retirement occasionally to produce solo work by John Lennon, George Harrison, The Ramones and others but the run he’ll be remembered for will be his work during 1961-1966.

KEY SONG: ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – The Righteous Brothers

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Johnny Delaney & The Pin Balls Interview...



In 2010 there was a rumble in the alternative indie underground, a band so good that it seemed that record companies were lining up and in some cases were literally seen to be fighting each other to sign the band while stuffing wraps of pharmaceutical cocaine in each band members skinny jeaned pockets in a vain attempt to sign them and keep them loyal. That band was (and is now once again) the infamous Johnny Delaney and The Pin Balls, there debut gig at the original Flowerpot Kentish Town (no longer there I’m afraid dear reader) was the scene for one of the biggest cultural uprisings this side of the Sex Pistols playing the Lesser free trade hall in Manchester in June of 1976. The band that Toe-Rag Records owner Tommy Domino called “easily the best band I’ve seen in 40 years” played only a handful of gigs as well as some excellent support slots for both the Dirty Pretty Things and 12 Dirty Bullets before in band fighting caused line up changes and the debut record to be re-recorded a fabled 14 times in 2 weeks!

Upon it’s release the debut album ‘No tilting till Brixton' was savaged by the music press getting the lowest score (-1 out of 10) on the week of it's release, although it mysteriously managed to climb to number 2 in the end of year charts for best newcomer which shows either that the band are the dictionary definition of the word ‘grower’ or that the music press is as fickle as the reality TV pop contests they seem to despise so much on a regular basis.

After there awful semi dissolution live on stage at the End of the Road festival last year the rumour mills are going into overdrive with the news that there is a reformation on the cards and that there has been recording happening throughout December and January of 2011-2012. I caught up with bassist Stevie Brazen and Lead Vocalist and incendiary front man Johnny Delaney (John Danes to his mum.)


Q) After the build up before the debut was released and the online fans approaching the thousands added daily on your MySpace page do you think you managed to capitalise fully on the momentum and wave of success you were due?

A) (JD) Not really no, I mean we really thought that it was going to snowball into a fully formed forest fire but it seemed that... (SB) maybe the industry wasn’t ready for us at the time. (JD) Exactly!

Q) There are many stories in regards to the recording sessions for the debut, is it true that there are 13 other versions of the debut online?

A) (JD)(Laughs) Well I don’t know about that. (SB)I definitely counted twenty two myself as I was in charge of saving the files on pro-tools but we did go through various phases and sounds as we experimented with the sounds and feel of each track.

Q) Are there any influences that you’ve been listening to that have maybe encouraged you to reform and re-light the fires within you as a band?

A) (JD)We’ve all been listening to a lot of free-form jazz in the rehearsal room lately, a lot of Roland Kirk and Captain Beefheart. (SB)To be honest I’m not sure that we really understand or even like it but that is the direction I feel we are being pulled.

Q) Your image is one that got mentioned a lot on the early days with the kilts and retro roller skates being worn over the standard skinny jeans and odd socks; do you think there will be any more fashion traits the band will be throwing out this time?

A) (SB)Braces. (JD)Well belts AND braces really, like as a combo. We are a lot more cautious this time around musically and I think this look shows this physically as well.

Q) I know that the new material is being kept under wraps at the moment but I did managed to hear a new track called “Jesus Lied” on YouTube (this has now been taken down as of 08/04/12) can you confirm that this is genuine and will be on the new album?

A) (SB)We’d really rather not discuss that, lets just say there are many new influences in the band and that celebrating them in music is something we’ve decided to do. Although not always for the better. (JD)You'll just have to wait and see whats on the rebound!

Ta very much.

Johnny Delaney and The Pin Balls will be announcing shows for their U.K
Tour on the 25 APRIL at 4am on their website…

Monday, 2 April 2012

That reminds me of the time...part 2


Before Keith Moon the drummer in a rock and roll band was the guy who sat at the back and kept the tempo steady for the other musicians to play their respective parts and take the applause for their dexterity and soloing ability. They were the human metronome. Keith Moon always thought the drums were the most important thing in a group and should be sat front and centre while the lead singer sat at the back of the stage.

Outside the arena of drumming and all things percussive things were never simple when it came down to anything involving Keith Moon and today’s little tale/fable comes from a time commonly known as the 18 month ‘Lost Weekend’ with John Lennon. A time when Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Alice Cooper, Ringo Starr, Jesse Ed Davis and Moon himself would take on LA’s latest drinking establishments and leave them in a state only fitting to a man called ‘Moon the Loon’ by his closest friends.

After a particularly long night on the town Nilsson finally retired to his bedroom only to be awoken by a tapping on his window. Slightly worried due to the fact that his hotel room was approaching the 15th Floor and concerned that he was about to be faced with the sight of a stranded window cleaner or less than discrete cat burglar he approached the noise with caution. After pulling back the curtains he saw the cause of the repetitive tapping. There balanced on a tiny window ledge was Keith Moon clutching the railings of the side of the balcony above while outstretch with the other he protectively grasped a bottle of Brandy for a quick “night cap”. After opening the window and helping him in Nilsson screamed at Moon what the hell was wrong with using the door and stair case?

“It was that bloody Raquel Welch, she wouldn’t leave me alone…” he replied smiling.