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.

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