30 November 2004

Catching the next train home...

John Martyn has his roots in the British folk scene of the 60s, but his music has always borne its own definitive stamp. From the very earliest days he was experimenting and testing the boundaries, seeing what he could get away with. He'd put his acoustic guitar through an echo box to create those signature, rippling patterns, he'd jam with jazz musicians and stir things up a bit. Folk purists may not have liked all the drums and effects, but anybody with two ears and a brain can see that the man has always been a pioneer whose work defies categorisation. To say nothing of that magnificent, unique voice, which is like an instrument in its own right.

I'd seen him play a few times before last night - sometimes brilliant, sometimes not so great, but a hero is a hero never the less. Fans were saddened to hear of the road accident last year, in which he lost his right leg below the knee, but that loss doesn't seem to have diminished him at all. If anything, it's raised his game a bit. One of my bosses is a diehard fan, and saw him play twice last summer. He assured me that the man has never been in better form, vocally or musically. So when I got the news that he'd be playing in the Róisín Dubh, I didn't hesitate to fork out the readies. Let's just say I wasn't disappointed.

Support was by John Dickinson, a burly Northumbrian who once played guitar in Paul Lamb & the King Snakes and has, in latter days, been carving out something of a solo career for himself. Dickinson himself is something special, with a fine lilting white blues voice and an absolutely wicked slide technique. At times, you could have sworn that his six-string acoustic had transformed itself into a pedal steel, he was that good. You don't often see support acts getting encores, but Dickinson came back for a well-received, bluesy treatment of old folk standard She Moved Through The Fair.

Martyn's own set? Well, I wasn't expecting the heavens to part, or some amazing revelation. Just a well-admired singer and guitarist putting the bad stuff behind him and getting on with the job. I would have been quite happy listening to a perfunctory, casual set with some tasty newer tunes and some old crowd-pleasers thrown in. The reality was something else altogether. This was the best I've seen John Martyn play, ever - thanks in no small measure to an absolutely sizzling backing band - Spencer Cozens on keyboards and effects, Arran Ahmun on drums, and Alan Thompson on fretless bass. The man himself spent most of the gig using his time-honoured rig - that impossibly sexy Gibson SG put through all manner of stomp boxes and a Jazz Chorus amp. Between them, these four men cooked up a sonic stew that would put any diehard fan in mind of the signature ensemble sound of Martyn's mid-seventies albums. They coasted and dipped through all stages of the man's career, and played with real flair and authority. Sometimes you really felt the roof was going to spiral off. And John Martyn, since he doesn't get around as much anymore, has put on a few pounds, but this has actually made a world of difference to his stage presence. He's like a big, rumbling mountain there in the middle of the stage. A mountain with a mean guitar. (Have no fear, he also picked up an acoustic to play some oldies like May You Never.)

When I got home, I got out a compilation CD of some of his best tunes and thought I'd listen to some of the old favs again before I went to bed. In the end the CD went unplayed, because the sounds I'd just heard were still ringing in my head, and I didn't want to disturb them. They're still ringing away, in fact.

Check out Big Muff, the homepage of the John Martyn Appreciation Society. There's also The John Martyn Website, a well-put-together fan page done with John's endorsement, which features some welcome guitar tabs and stories from the man's career.

I got lucky and managed to see him on Tuesday as well.

29 November 2004

A-live, a live-oh...

The week before last I got to see Charis playing an early-evening, all ages gig in the local. Charis keep getting better and better and they now seem to have added a lap-steel player to the lineup - suits perfectly. Singer John is a commanding onstage presence even sitting down with an acoustic guitar, and support from local singer/songwriter Ultan was pretty tasty too. Plus it's great to see young kids at indoor pub gigs. After all, there's no smoke to bother them any more, and it's a chance to expose these malleable young minds to the wonders of the hoochy-coochy rockety-roll music, which of course is a joy that every child deserves.

Don't just take my word for it, the band's own website have some great photos from the night, taken by snd engnr, paparazzo and blogger Seán McC.

The Dudley Corporation were playing that same night, and damn good they were too, but I have to say I got a real kick out of the support, Large Mound - if ever Ireland has produced an equivalent to Hüsker Dü, it's these boys. Apparently one member is emigrating, which may leave things in limbo for a bit, but hopefully we haven't seen the last of them.

Tonight should be good: I'm off to see the Scottish singer, songwriter, guitarist and folk legend John Martyn.

My boss is such a big Martyn fan that last summer he went to see him play in Campbell's Tavern and Vicar Street, and spoke in glowing terms of both shows. Martyn was badly injured in an accident last year, but from what I've heard his most recent shows have evinced a welcome return to form.

10 November 2004

After dinner mince

The chappy upstairs is a nice guy, but has a fondness for bad, kiddie's metal. He probably doesn't bring his library books back on time either. So while digesting the mackerel and rice, what better time to get acquainted with the Shuffle feature on one's portable EmPeeThree player of choice? Ah, that's better...

- The Posies

Last Chance to Comprehend - Latyrx

Si Tu Disais - Calexico

Cantara - Dead Can Dance

The Spanish Merchant's Daughter - The Stoneman Family (from the Harry Smith anthology)

A Little Girl Lost - David Axelrod

Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine - Brian Wilson

St. Elmo's Fire - Brian Eno

Skull X - Primal Scream

Outro (Metal fingerz scraped the chalkboard) - Scienz of Life

Attack El Robot! Attack! - Calexico

Honey Hush - Paul McCartney

We Haven't Turned Around - Gomez

Life on a String - Laurie Anderson

The Light Pours Out Of Me - Magazine

Terrorized - The Posies

Single Girl, Married Girl - The Carter Family (from the Harry Smith anthology)

Tune In - Gregory Isaacs

Let Us Love - Bill Withers

Wayland's Smithy Has Wings - Julian Cope

Wataridori 2 - Cornelius

About The Weather - Magazine

La la - The Polyphonic Spree

09 November 2004

This morning, on the way in to work...

Pardon the incessant playlisting, but this will have to do for the moment in lieu of something a bit more meaningful...

Strung Out On Strings - The Tubes

"You'll never know how far / I've gone with this guitar..." Maybe that's a bit too much information. Clever and listenable if not particularly remarkable track from The Tubes: Now, of interest mostly because of the cute little parody guitar licks that get thrown in all over the place.

Burn & Shine - The Posies

Always loved this one, at what used to be the end of the second side of Frosting On The Beater. Up pops a whammytastic guitar solo that proves they've been listening to their Neil Young.

Lyrical Stance - Minus 5

All I know about the Minus 5 is that (nifty random-play segue here) Ken Stringfellow of the Posies is involved. This is a rather agreeable slice of garage punk, actually, and the lyrics are exceedingly scrumptious, what with the lyrical stance being 'in [one's] pants', and all.

I'm So Glad - Skip James

A great performance: fingerpicking is deceptively clever and the man's voice swoops and dives like a reasonably glad thing. The Cream, and many others, have murdered this tune many's the time, but the gritty glory of the original is undiminished.

Hanging around the day (part 2) - The Polyphonic Spree

I still haven't given up completely on the Spree, though most of the appeal is in the warm, real sound of the instruments, the backing and the voices. I love their big, bright sound but I'm still not sure if the writing really has any substance. The song itself is hooky and worms its way in there. At least it did when I was listening to it on the way back from lunch. I can't for the life of me remember that chorus now, so ha!

Trip To Your Heart - Sly And The Family Stone

Completely around the twist, and brilliantly done - psychedelic funk from the crew that pretty much wrote (and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and then smoked) the rule book.

Jacques Derrida - Scritti Politti

A bizarre little musical triptych from Songs To Remember, the album when Scritti started to get a bit of attention. It starts off as a jaunty strumalong with subversive lyrics, starts messing with sassy backing vocals and ends up in a pretty good 80s white funk groove. Still don't know what the hell Green is on about, though, which is a fitting enough tribute to the French structuralist philosopher of the title.

Twenty Years Ago - Magazine

One of Magazine's most out-there tracks; I can't remember where this came from originally, possibly a b-side. Fantastic bit of rock concréte that proves once and for all that Magazine owed a lot more to the British rock avant-garde of the mid-late 70s than to the traditional punk influences. This is disorienting, intoxicating stuff that repays a few listens.

Natchez Burning - Howlin' Wolf

Eerie; Wolf's lonesome wounded croon sounding more barbed than ever as he sings - confides really - of intolerance and racial unrest in Mississippi.

16 Track Scratch - Calexico

Classy little mood piece, the kind of thing Burns and Convertino do so well. Cinematic and evocative, with just the right kind of grotty sounds.

Because You're Frightened - Magazine

The Correct Use Of Soap came out around 1980 and was produced by Martin Hannett (the record producer guy in 24 Hour Party People). It kicked off with this, which had previously gotten an airing on a Peel Session under the title Look What Fear's Done To My Body.

Turn On Your Love Light - Bobby Bland

Nowadays when we aging Deadheads hear this tune we tend to think of Rod 'Pigpen' McKernan, who made this song a party piece. Here it is straight from the real master's voice.

Who Is It - Mantronix

I'm pretty sure I got this from Actual Discs! Real Tunes! A pretty apposite slice of 80s electro, as it 'appens.

07 November 2004

Another Saturday nite.

Came home from the pub, fired up the 'Pod. What could one reasonably expect? Much of this stuff is music I downloaded from other music blogs, and I've tried where possible to give credit where due. Can't always keep track of it, mind, but sooner or later I'll be collating music blog links in the sidebar, have no fear.

You Wouldn't, You Couldn't Be True - Philip Upchurch

Twang Thang - Billy Butler

The Third Cup - Eddie Fisher

Soul Sides is the site where I got these three fine guitar tracks from. Upchurch seems to be making use of some sort of hybrid twelve-string, maybe it's got only a couple of strings doubled. "You Wouldn't" is pretty tasty, and makes interesting use of a choir and, yes, a harp. 'Twang Thang' is guitar playing against a brass section, and Butler's slinky, clever playing is familiar to me; not three bad. The Third Cup is my favourite of this batch, thanks probably to the understated rhythm section and Fisher's clever extrapolations. There's another track, elsewhere in the playlist, that isn't quite so good but I'll get to that.

The Red Flag - Billy Bragg

From The Internationale EP. One reason why the lords and masters of Jesusland won't be taking over the planet just yet: people still remember how to sing this. Life is short, but memories are long, at least here in The Rest Of The World.

Seems Like A Lifetime Ago (Part One) - Bruford

Bruford (Bill that is) did a solo album, Feels Good To Me sometime towards the end of the 70s, and this features the great Annette Peacock on vocals. Her fantastic pipes don't get preferential treatment in the mix (this is a drummer's solo album, after all) but That Voice can still do wonderful things to you, believe me. The backing is jazzy and fluent, with some fretless bass playing from the daysbefore it became popular or profitable (i.e. before it turned into a gimmick). (Courtesy Mystical Beast).

I'm A Mineralist - Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports

In 1978 the Pink Floyd drummer, fresh from producing a not very interesting second album for The Damned, decided to put together his own solo album. To this end he put together a cracking avant-jazz big band called the Fictitious sports that featured Robert Wyatt and Carla Bley. Such measures can only lead to trouble, as we hear. 'I'm A Mineralist' is a classic: Wyatt sings of a man who, like Arnold Layne, has a 'strange habit', and the hilarious lyrics pun themselves off the side of the planet. (Courtesy Mystical Beast).

Can't Get My Motor To Start - Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports

More from Nick Mason, Carla Bley and the usual bunch of weirdos. Funny and funky, not unlike Zappa in spots. (Courtesy Mystical Beast).

As Far As I Know - Paul Westerberg

From the Folker, album, er, as far as I know. Westerberg sounds all Beatle-y. Great as always.

A Time For Us - Joe Pass

Joe Pass is well known as a great jazz guitarist; here he tries to go middleoftheroad R&B and it just falls flat. Even his usual fine playing just doesn't lift a track that's completely uninspired. (Another one from Soul Sides).

Strange Angels - Laurie Anderson

A song of substance, despite the somewhat incongruous backing. First impression was that of Anderson jamming with the Notting Hillbillies - I'd put money on that being Knopfler on guitar. The backing is gooey, in spite of the pretty pedal steel licks, and Anderson's lyrics just sound geeky and out of place. Cute bit about your friends coming over and eating everything in the fridge though.

Sat Mahaori - The Khmer Fusion Project

This track is contemporary, with traditional sounding violin against a modern fusion backing. Won't set the world on fire but it's pretty tasty. (Courtesy of La Blogothèque.)

O Superman - Laurie Anderson

Can anyone explain why this was number one for what seemed like months, back in the early 80s? The only record I can remember being number one for longer than this (back then anyway) would have been Gloria Smith's version of 'One Day At A Time'. I know of about four couples who courted to 'O Superman' and loads of people who still speak of it with fondness. For a while it was coming out of radios everywhere and you just had to stop and listen. Got to be the most unlikely number one hit single ever, and as good a reason as any for digging out Big Science again and giving it a play.

Life on a String - Laurie Anderson

A bit middle-of-the-road-y for Anderson, but not bad; the track has lots of interesting ideas and her singing is unimpeachable.

I'm Sixteen - Dengue Fever

Gloria - Cambodian Rocks

As far as I know, Dengue Fever are a contemporary band of expat Cambodians who do their best to recreate old underground Khmer psychedelia. If this is only a recreation, then it's damn fine. Plenty of that throbbing surf sound, mad psych organ and a singer who goes up impossibly high. Great fun. Gloria, which sounds like it came off an old cassette, is good too, with Them's old epic getting the Khmer treatment and the band playing away nice and tight. Doesn't get the gritty suspense of the original but an agreeable cover all the same. (Courtesy of La Blogothèque.)

Fast Boyfriends - Girls At Our Best

As I mention below, don't even bother with GAOB, they're pretty terrible. (Yes, I'm writing backwards.) Even a wry one-note guitar solo doesn't redeem this. The lyrics are kind of funny, but don't even last four minutes before they turn over, ha ha.

Cyclo - Cambodian Rocks

If there had been a Far Eastern version of Nuggets, this would have been on it no contest. Brilliantly bonkers slice of Khmer psychedelia. (Courtesy of La Blogothèque.)

Antenna - Kraftwerk

One of those treats that sort of creeps up on you. Before the Beat Police came in and everything had to be cut to cadence, Der Kraftwerkelektronischemusik showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that electronic music can swing and be funky and have lots of heart, and didn't have to sacrifice melody at the expense of a cheap hook. Did we listen?

The Sky Is Full Of Stars - Gareth Williams

Was Gareth Williams something to do with This Heat? Who's the girl singing? What the hell is this? From Mystical Beast again, and the sound quality isn't great - it sounds like it was knocked together on a four-track and left in a dusty cupboard for a couple of years - but the tune is absolutely beautiful. A uniquely English bit of oddment up there with Robert Wyatt and Nick Drake.

Politics - Girls At Our Best

One of those up-and-coming bands you'd occasionally see profiled in the NME in the late 70s. I remember this lot because the singer was cute, but never got to hear them until I found this track at Mystical Beast and got curious. Shouldn't have bothered, it's terrible, and the singer's accent is so irritatingly posh it makes Sophie Ellis-Bextor sound like a fishwife. One for deletion methinks.

Pelz Komet - The Kingsbury Manx

I got their first album (is this the bit where I say 'eponymous'?) - pleasant sounding, but it largely passed me by. This, now this I like - it's from Aztec Discipline. The singer's voice reminds me a bit of Tom Dunne, which is a good thing actually. Closing bit sounds a bit like Belle & Sebastian, which is too.

( ) part 4 - Sigur Ros

What I like about Sigur Ros isn't the moody arctic soundscapes they conjure up, or the pretty vocals or the bowed guitars. All of these are grand, but taken by themselves wouldn't amount to much. Sigur Ros are consistently interesting to listen to because they make sure the natural timbre of each instrument (voice included) is brought out distinctively, and this adds up to a unique, natural sound. Plus all the usual stuff.

This morning I ripped...

The Tubes - Now (1977)

Smoke (La Vie En Fumer)

Hit Parade

Strung Out On Strings

Golden Boy

My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains


I'm Just A Mess

Cathy's Clone

This Town

Pound Of Flesh

You're No Fun

This is a surprisingly strong album thats worn well over time. Smoke has a great Bowie-ish feel, very showy, dramatic and arranged. Listen for the coughs when the drum kicks come in. Hit Parade is a pretty spot-on parody of how pop records used to sound back then, and Fee Waybill does a convincing Neil Diamond impersonation.

From there on it just gets crazier. Strung Out On Strings is the tale of a boy who loves his guitar maybe a bit too much. Golden Boy is the tale of a middle-class blues boy, and features great mouth organ that may or may not have been played by the composer of the following song. My Head Is My Only House... is a great, sensitive reading of Captain Beefhearts love ballad from Clear Spot, and apparently Van Vliet himself turned up at the studio and drew sketches of all the band.

Percussionist Mingo Lewis' showcase, God-Bird-Change is a harmless bit of showy fusion, I'm Just A Mess piles on the tortured-artist cliches, This Town is a smart, sassy reading of Lee Hazlewood's standard, and Youre No Fun starts out as a torchy bit of self pity that somehow or another manages to evolve into a Ramonesy rocker, getting faster and faster and punctuated with counts of one-two-three-four in the manner of the late Dee Dee Ramone himself.

[melodica melodica]

06 November 2004

Live, without a net...

Kometenmelodie - 2 Kraftwerk

So much I like the Electronicmusic, that I must write now of it. This is a jaunty little bit of spacerock that trundles along pleasantly through the outer asteroid belt. People are so fond of Kraftwerk's 'man machine' image, and the band themselves always played that up, but they never really lost the more organic, natural feel of this earlier stuff. It swings, quite frankly, and the simple, pretty melodies that lie at the heart and soul of Kraftwerk's best music are quite unique.

Hangin' Back - (this is somefing wot I knocked up myself on Remix)

A couple of samples, from 'Hangin' Out' by Chic, 'Body Heat' by Quincy Jones, 'Off Broadway' by George Benson, and I think there's a bit of the Undertones (that clanging guitar bit that comes in the second time through). Not bad on a later listen, but it's a pity the sound of the samples is a bit compromised (old vinyl, somewhat pitty and scratchy). Anyway, my gums are sore and I feel like rubbing some Bonjela on them.

Thankyou (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Magazine

Believe it or not, the capaciously domed ex-Buzzcock, Howard Devoto, a man not exactly known for his loose-bootied funky strut, sings Sly Stone. Not as odd as it would appear on paper - Magazine turn in some solid playing, and the groove is made a lot more interesting by the angular, insistent guitar work of the late John McGeoch.

McGeoch passed away quietly a few months ago, almost unnoticed. After Magazine wound up, he joined Siouxsie and the Banshees and was a big factor in transforming their sound from its early jagged clang to something more strident and melodic (and chart-friendly). He also worked with Public Image Ltd. for a while, on the classic 'Album' album (known to CD purchasers as 'Compact Disc').

His musical technique was inspired by innovators like Manzanera, Belew, Ronson & Fripp. McGeoch played sax as well, and he took great delight in making a guitar sound Not Very Much Like A Guitar At All, Actually.

I'll Be Your Friend - Bright Eyes

I don't really 'get' Bright Eyes - the tunes are okay but it always feels there's something missing. This isn't bad, though, reminds me a bit of what it might sound like if Eels jammed with the Super Furry Animals. Thus do I damn it with faint praise and oddball comparisons.

Shot By Both Sides (Live) - Magazine

This was a part of a double live EP, as I remember, though it was ripped from the Maybe It's Right To Be Nervous Now boxset. Not a bad canter through their signature first single, but listening to it now you can't but notice Those '80s Sounds - the big, bubbling chorused fretless bass, the synths, the drums falling down a heavily-reverberated flight of stairs. Devoto would never pretend to be a great singer, but used his limited voice well, with a sense of passion and drama.

Circle Sky - The Monkees

Don't know where this came from; I downloaded it from Spoilt Victorian Child. It's fantastic. Mike Nesmith sings, as far as I can make out, and the backing is pure cowpunk. Even the Velvets would have been hard-pressed to play something as savage and powerful as this. Fair dues.

Hateful - The Clash

An early gallop through this London Calling favourite from The Vanilla Tapes. Though there are no lyrics as yet and the song is only a rough sketch, it's remarkable how tight and empathic the band's playing already is, especially considering that this is a song they haven't routined much yet. Strummer, Jones, Simenon and Headon are busy scraping away at an unformed lump to get at the song they know is inside there somewhere. Edifying listening for those interested in hearing how 'Hateful' came together, probably irrelevant to anyone who isn't a major Clash fan.

Make Love To Your Mind - Bill Withers

You'd know this was Withers straight away - the gently insistent two-chord vamp, the easy swinging groove, the smoky, worldly-wise voice.

Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney

Remember when the Faces covered this? Remember how they made a complete balls of it, but it was still fun? This is probably because McCartney writes songs that of their nature are difficult to fuck up. This is ripped from Wingspan but not too long ago I saw the original, McCartney solo album that it came from in the local second-hand emporium. Kind of rueful now that I didn't pick it up.

Considering that this was recorded on a four-track at home, not too long after the Beatles' split, it sounds fabulous, feels like a real band rather than McCartney overdubbing everything, and features a sterling vocal performance from the artist formerly known as Paul Ramon.

Saut Crapaud - Columbus Fruge

(from the Harry Smith Anthology)

POSSIBLY THE MOST WIDELY KNOWN OF ANY ACADIAN DANCE TUNE. FOR FULL NOTES SEE WHITFIELD'S "LOUSIANA FRENCH FOLK SONGS" ...It says here. An odd slice of Cajun played, no doubt, on one of those diatonic oddball squeezeboxes they have down there. From about 1920.

Walkin' Back To Georgia - Jim Croce

There's something solid and dependable about even Croce's minor tunes, such as this. Maybe not his finest moment, but this pretty ballad has just enough grit in it to keep the tender sentiments from cloying, and it's memorable too, with that little humming bit.

The Smile - David Axelrod

Quite nice, actually; I'm really getting into Axelrod's stuff at the moment. This manages to find room for a funky rhythm section, big, bold sounding orchestration, and some oddball guitar sounds. (At one stage there's a slide guitar imitating a theremin, or something.) Smart.

Back In Judy's Jungle - Brian Eno

It was a delight to take home the newly-released master of Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, a favourite from my teenage years. Back In Judy's Jungle is completely bonkers - its clumping oompah beat is a deliberate avoidance of rock, swing or syncopation of any kind, but the backing band, which includes Robert Wyatt and Eno's old Roxy chum Phil Manzanera, drives this along very nicely.

Black Shuck - The Darkness

I actually thought this was Lizzy when I heard this first. You can only ask yourself, how much more 70s could this sound, and the answer is 'none'; none more 70s. Good fun nevertheless.

Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels) - Jim Croce

I love Jim Croce, but this isn't a favourite of mine. You can't fault the writing, the rueful wit of the lyrics, or Croce's easy, sympathetic delivery, though. Plus the gentle humour: "Thanks for the time, you've been so much more than kind; you can keep the dime."

Train In Vain - The Clash

This was originally recorded for a giveaway flexidisc with some newspaper. When that didn't come together, the Clash stuck this Mick Jones ditty on to the end of London Calling as a bonus track, so it was a complete surprise on first listen. Not a very strong piece of writing, but the Clash get a nice groove on here. (A run-off groove, even.) I love the popping octave guitar and the touches of mouth organ. But it ain't a patch on...

Revolution Rock - El Clash Combo

By a strange quirk of fate, random play now throws up the 'official' last track of London Calling, and it is nothing short of brilliant. Topper Headon alone should have got a knighthood for his fantastic percussive performance on this reggae standard; the drum kit alone sounds like a band in itself. Simonon is right in the pocket with his dubwise bass playing; the album's cover star is a very underrated musician. And Strummer, with his fabulous non-voice and bonkers adlibs, is wonderful as ever. Tell your mama, tell your papa, everything's gonna be all right...

Anthology: a tribute to music - Scienz of Life

I know nothing about Scienz of Life but I know I'm crazy about the Project Overground album. Over gorgeous jazz samples and basslines that always seem about to teeter into dub, the various Scienz-tists pay homage to their heroes beautifully.

The Wagoner's Lad - Buell Kazee


More of the Harry Smith stuff, from 1928. Kazee's banjo playing is so well-controlled it almost sounds classical.

Perpetual Adoration - The Bathers

Celtic soul at its best, and you can keep your shagging Deacon Blue. Chris Thomson could be best described as a sort of Scottish David Bowie, say around the time of Young Americans. His breathy, wracked singing ushers in a sweep of north Atlantic wind, over cold flagstones where wolfhounds are sleeping, where big dark trees are swaying and a girl is singing 'hushabye'...

It Ain't All Because Of Me Baby - Bill Withers

How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it in a microwave until its bill withers.

Flavor Of The Month - The Posies

Clever little track from the excellent Frosting On The Beater.

Intro - Bad Brains

The Brains crammed more ideas and information into quick minute-mantras like this than more bands do into entire albums. Every home should have a copy of I Against I.

City - Primal Scream

The Evil Heat album errs mostly on the side of electronica, but you know they're always going to turn in at least one rocker like this. Plenty of tomcat piss and a Stooges-like stumble, not a bad wee chewn atall.

Work In Progress (Acoustic Guitar) - Nick Drake


At The Love Observatory - (somefing else wot I knocked up myself on ProTools Free)

Aargh! This still needs work, and the vocals especially need to be redone. I'm proud enough of the song, itself, though.

Remote Control - The Clash

From The Vanilla Tapes, in which our heroes holed up in a rehearsal studio above a garage in Pimlico, away from prying record company eyes, and began knocking together the album that became London Calling. Remote Control originally came from the first Clash album, and the record company brought it out as a single against their will. They never played it onstage again, and this warmup version from one of their rehearsals is a bit of a curiosity for Clash fans. It's by no means perfect or polished, and pretty much loses momentum after the middle, but a good example of how, even in throwaway, warmup mode, the band play with admirable cohesion.

Remarks by the Rev. C. L. Franklin

From young Aretha's Amazing Grace gospel album. He says it better than I can, so go have a listen.

A Scanner Darkly - Primal Scream

Again from Evil Heat. Very electronically driven, though more like an early Krautrock tune than club music. A decidedly Frippertronic guitar drifts in and out. In some ways it's a bit like early Kraftwerk again, with the synthesised motorik beat and synth melodies - which is pretty much where we came in.

I Against I - Bad Brains

Classic - a little three-part mini Rasta punk opera. HR sounds like a black Iggy Pop and Dr. Know offers most metal guitarists a serious run for their money. "Amighty watching, almighty watching, I against I against I against I against..."

Prison Cell Blues - Blind Lemon Jefferson


"The clear tone and long runs, so typical of Texas and Louisiana vocal style, are heard very well here. The device used in this song of reversing the line order of the first verse to produce the final verse is still frequently employed."

From 1928.

Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman - The Darkness

From the sublime to the faintly embarrassing. Musically, 'Get Your Hands' is excellent, with some fine riffing, but Justin's singing is just plain overambitious here and ruins an otherwise unimpeachable tune. Motherfucker.

Stackalee - Frank Hutchinson


"The murder mentioned here probably took place in Memphis in about 1900. Stack Lee seems to have been connected by birth or employment with the Lee family of that city who owned a large line of steamers on the Mississippi."

Steamers? Oo-er Mississippi! From 1927. If random play really had its shit together, 'Wrong 'Em Boyo' would come on right after this.

Poor Boy - Nick Drake

...but no, just some wealthy English kid noodling on a guitar into a wonky old reel-to-reel cassette some time late in the 60s. The guitar almost sounds like a piano, the strings are so thick and heavy. This is a more contemplative reading of the tune that got a more upbeat treatment (with chicks singing, yet) on Five Leaves Left. It's extremely pleasant, actually.

Water's Edge - Julian Cope

A pretty apt followup to the Drake track, actually, ushered in by a simple bit of fingerpicked acoustic guitar. From The Skellington Chronicles, which I'm getting into the more I listen to it.

Let Me Help - Bad Brains

First track on the second side of I Against I. I have nothing against The Darkness, really, but put them in a room with these guys and they wouldn't last two minutes.

Last of the Name - Kevin Duffy Band

For one night only, just like the circus, it's the KDB live from the Row Sheen, Dave. This is from either the first or second gig of the original lineup, with Steve Hanks throwing in a nice bit of trad flute. An old favourite from the repertoire of Kev's old band the Non-English Speaking Tourists, or the N.E.S.T. for short.