This is all a bit weird, and sometimes uncomfortable to watch, so if easily offended, walk on by.
Back in 1983, at the age of 16, I went to the Reading Rock Festival on a £15.95 three day ticket. It was my second time there, although when I went the year before I only had a ticket for the Friday and missed most of the best bands. This time I would get to see them all, although, I actually can’t remember much about the weekend now if I’m honest. I don’t know who I went with, where I stayed (a tent for sure, but I don’t know whose tent it was), or most of the bands I saw. I’ve really had to dig deep into the memory banks to come up with much at all. I had completely forgotten that I’d seen The Stranglers until I saw the poster again, and I love The Stranglers so how the hell could I forget that! Here’s the line up poster for 1983:
There’s not much video available from the weekend, which is unsurprising as camera phones hadn’t been invented yet, probably, but the Stranglers set was broadcast on the radio, and here it is if you feel like a listen, oh, and the set list, though I don’t think it’s the full one, just what was broadcast on the Friday Rock Show:
01 Nuclear Device
02 Toiler on the Sea
03 Ships that Pass in the Night
04 No More Heroes
05 Golden Brown
07 European Female
08 Thrown Away
09 The Raven
11 London Lady
12 Down in the Sewer
Here’s what I can remember of the bands I saw:-
Hanoi Rocks: I’m pretty sure I saw them and wasn’t all that impressed at the time, though later on I did buy one of their albums on vinyl, mostly because of their version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Up Around The Bend’, the album was’ Two Steps from the Move’ released in 1984, it was pretty good, in fact, I probably still have it somewhere.
They were one of the very few acts whose set was filmed, I have no idea why, but here’s the whole thing even though it’s quite rough footage taken from the stage it gives an idea of the crowd and suchlike, and how just about all the bands where bottled at some point, which was stupid:
(The Chantays cover)
Back to Mystery City
Until I Get You
Don’t You Ever Leave Me
Big Country: I recall rather enjoying Big Country, although by the end of their set I was ok about it being over as I think I’d had enough by then, finding the sound somewhat one dimensional. I’m sure it was great if you were a big fan, but I was a casual listener. This was probably their biggest gig up to this point having been touring their debut release, ‘The Crossing’, which I did buy eventually. I found their set list for that night, here it is:
01 Harvest Home
02 A Thousand Stars
03 Close Action
05 Lost patrol
07 The Storm
08 In a Big Country
10 Angle Park
11 Fields of Fire
Steel Pulse: I’m not sure they even managed to get through the first song without being bottled off, which was a shame as we all had to stand there and listen to nothing instead. People can really be stupid sometimes.
Lee Aaron: I do remember the set, but didn’t think much of it at all and I’d never heard of her before she walked out on stange, and never heard of her again actually, it is about the best bit of footage I’ve found though
Lady of the Darkest Night
Under Your Spell
I Like My Rock Hard
Shake It Up
Head Above Water
We Will Be Rockin’
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: I enjoyed this set, not least because they did a version of Voodoo Chile but also because I knew that Vaughan had played on Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, although that was pretty much all I knew beforehand. Just like a lot of other bands, he was bottled, fortunately he just got on with it.
(The Isley Brothers cover)
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Pride and Joy
Mary Had a Little Lamb
(Buddy Guy cover)
Love Struck Baby
(Larry Davis cover)
Come On (Part I)
Marillion: If somebody had asked me yesterday if I had ever seen Marillion live I would have answered a definitive no, except I have, and had forgotten all about it until I looked at the Reading 83 line up again. My recollection is very vague indeed, but it’s there. I had seen quite a few posters for 12” singles (Probabaly ‘Market Square Heroes’), in Birmingham I think and the graphics were intriguing, and this was the year that they released ‘Script for a jesters tear’, which I hadn’t heard at the time of the gig, but I’m sure I had heard them on ‘The Friday Rock Show’ and made the obvious Peter Gabriel era Genesis connections myself, so I did already have a leaning towards liking them. Below is ‘Garden Party’, probably the only track I knew at the time, followed by ‘He Knows You Know’.
Script for a Jester’s Tear
Charting the Single
Market Square Heroes / Margaret / The Web
He Knows You Know
Black Sabbath: This was just awful, at least i’ve always remembered it as such, apart from the fact it was Ian Gillan on vocals, which I just found odd, the PA was affected by water and kept cutting in and out, and I actually laughed out loud, not in a good way, when they started to play ‘Smoke on the Water’. I suspect I was very guilty of music snobbery at this point as Gillan did a perfectly fine job, but I think I would have just rather it have been Ozzy or Dio, maybe I felt a bit cheated. I do seem to recall there was a whole Spinal Tap Stonehenge set there as well. Also, I think Bev Bevan was on drums for this. Some of the tracks are below, I couldn’t find all of them:
Children of the Grave
(with Drum Solo)
Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor
Disturbing the Priest
Keep It Warm
Zero the Hero
Smoke on the Water
(Deep Purple cover)
Paranoid / Heaven and Hell
Suzi Quatro: Surprisingly decent set for the head to toe leather clad bassist/vocalist. Not really my thing but she went down very well with crowd. She must have come on about 6 ish and done around 45 minutes
02 Never Been in Love
03 I Know What I Want
04 She’s in Love
05 Good Girl
06 Strange Encounter
07 Can the Can
08 Devil Gate Drive
09 Tear Me Apart
10 encore break
11 Keep on Knocking
12 Bye, Bye Johnny
Thin Lizzy: I think this may have been their last UK performance, or certainly close to it. They were probably the most anticipated of the bands at the festival for most people and they didn’t disappoint it was a high energy set with plenty of favourite tracks included. This was the end of a year long tour promoting the ‘Thunder & Lightening’ album. Within 3 years Phil Lynott would be dead, a sad loss.
Thunder and Lightning
Waiting for an Alibi
Are You Ready
Baby Please Don’t Go
A Night in the Life of a Blues Singer
(Phil Lynott song)
The Holy War
The Sun Goes Down
The Boys Are Back in Town
Sha La La
Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend
Baby Drives Me Crazy
(Bob Seger cover)
Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)
Still in Love With You
Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul: I vaguely remember being bored by almost the whole set.
Climax Blues Band: There was definitely a harmonica involved.
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel : I only knew one song, there may have been a bowler hat on stage at on point.
I really don’t remember any of the others at this point, though I guess some of it may come back. Right now my 16 year old son is there for his first festival, over 30 years after I went. This is what he can expect to see (Click for bigger version):
I really hope he enjoys it.
I was in town today not looking for records, nor intending to look, but as I was passing the record shop I thought I’d just nip in, and I found ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie for £4, which is about right as it isn’t exactly rare, but I didn’t have it, now I do. I did have a copy when it was originally released back in 1983 but have no idea what happened to it. At some point, when I put all my records away, I must have misplaced it, along with several others. They may turn up some day.
It’s an odd one as an album. I know that Bowie sat down with Nile Rodgers and wanted hits, which there were of course and it was, in many ways, another comeback for Bowie in a career full of them. It had been 3 year since the release of Scary Monsters and Let’s Dance was quite a departure, but my favourite track has always been ‘Cat People’, which doesn’t really seem to fit on the album, and may well have been included only due it appearing on the soundtrack to the film. The album is Bowie’s biggest selling to date, with around 7 million copies sold, which, to be honest, doesn’t seem that many as it felt like everybody had a copy in ’83, though obviously not.
I remember sitting up late one night recording music videos on VHS from the BBC who used to have late night Old Grey Whistle Test style music shows that would go on for several hours. I recorded ‘Let’s Dance’ amongst others, and have seen the video so many times I probably never need to see it ever again, but I’ve included what I could find at the bottom of this post.
Overall it’s a pretty good album, but even after all these years, I am so familiar with it from over playing that I have trouble really appreciating it. I did quote like hearing ‘Ricochet’ again though as I don’t recall liking it all that much at the time, but now, I rather do.
Another hand picked video playlist, though a couple are NSFW.
Saturday, Monday – Headshake (feat. Julia Spada) OFFICIAL VIDEO
Here We Go Magic – “Hard To Be Close” (Official Video)
Born Gold – Abdomen (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Purity Ring – bodyache
Jensen Sportag – Everything Good
Poolside – “Only Everything” [OFFICIAL VIDEO] (Scion AV)
Toro Y Moi “So Many Details”
CFCF ‘Beyond Light’ [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
Southern Shores – Meridian [HD]
M83 ‘Midnight City’ Official video
Princess Chelsea – The Cigarette Duet
The Naked And Famous – Young Blood
Other Lives – For 12 (Official Video)
tUnE-yArDs – Bizness (Official Video)
Memory Tapes “Yes I Know”
Chad Valley – Shell Suite (Warm Bodies Soundtrack)
St. Vincent – Cruel (Official Video)
Funeral Suits – All those friendly people
The Naked And Famous – Birds
Fujiya & Miyagi – Knickerbocker
I went to see John Martyn perform at Oxford New Theatre on 9th November 2008. Sadly, this was one of his last live performances as he passed away on 29th January the following year due to double pneumonia. He hadn’t been well for quite some time and the entire performance was given from a wheelchair, the result of the amputation in 2006 of his right leg, below the knee, due to a burst cyst. There is an excellent BBC documentary based around this period in Martyn’s life called ‘Johnny Too Bad’ which you can watch below should you be of a mind to:
The album that’s in the bag today is one I already owned on CD but is one of the few John Martyn vinyl records I own. It’s a used copy of ‘Grace & Danger’ that was recorded in ’79 and released in ’80. The only issue I have with this album is the inclusion of Phil Collins on backing vocals, because backing vocals should be just that, in the background, but the voice of Collins is too recognisable and, quite frankly, it annoys me that it is there. That having been said, this is another album full of great song writing and performances from Martyn. Despite occasional obvious 80’s production it’s an eminently listenable collection of songs that showcase so much of what Martyn was about. He was an honest performer who could make the listener feel the emotion that he transmitted, not in a cursory way, but deep down in the bones. Take ‘Hurt In Your Heart’ as an example, I find it to be a wonderfully emotional performance on the studio version, and live at the height of his powers, it was capable of causing the owners of the hardest hearts to suddenly have something in their eye, not a tear, of course not, probably an eyelash or something.
There are quite a few videos and suchlike in this post, but if you just watch one, then watch the one below, I just did, and damn, it gets me every time.
Looking back to it’s release in 1980, Angus MacKinnon of the NME wrapped up his album review as follows:
“It’s always been tempting to use the consistency and quiet, careful innovations of Martyn’s work as a stick with which to thrash at the monstrous dumbness of so much contemporary rock ‘n’ pop, but to do so is to render Martyn a disservice. ‘Grace & Danger’ is perfectly capable of recommending itself on its own considerable merits. It’s also the best album I’ve heard all year.”
That’s the thing about Martyn, he could have been Chris DeBurgh if he wanted to, but he always followed his own path, so often with extraordinary results. I would have no hesitation in stating that John Martyn is one of the greatest artists that this island has ever produced, though he never received the recognition he deserved, but I’m glad of that, because had he done so, then he may not have produced so perfect a body of work.
There will be more John Martyn here at some point. The guy was a genius.
Here is a video playlist of some of my favourite songs, performed live at various periods during his life.
Finally, here is a spotify playlist of my favourite songs:
I am a huge lover of Sigur Rós and have been since the moment I first heard them. They are one of those bands that never seem to be able to do anything wrong, for me at least. I don’t want every album to be the same as the last one and I like how they progress while still maintaning that same something that singles them out and gives them individuality. I don’t mind that the words are often in a completely made up language (Hopelandic) as the voice is an instrument and doesn’t have to be coherent, and I like, for instance, opera, but haven’t a bloody clue what anybody is singing about.
The most recent vinyl Sigur Rós I picked up is titled (), yes, that’s open bracket close bracket, and the 8 tracks are untitled. Band guitarist and keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson said of this choice, “we didn’t want to put titles on the record just because there are supposed to be titles on the record.” The band themselves do have titles for them, though unofficial:
1. Untitled (“Vaka”) “Vaka” is the name of Orri’s daughter 6:38
2. Untitled (“Fyrsta”) “Fyrsta” means “The First” or “The First Song” 7:33
3. Untitled (“Samskeyti”) “Samskeyti” means “Seam” or “Joint” 6:33
4. Untitled (“Njósnavélin”) “Njósnavélin” means “The Spy Machine” but is known as “The Nothing Song”
5. Untitled (“Álafoss”) Álafoss is the location of the band’s studio 9:57
6. Untitled (“E-Bow”) Georg Hólm uses an E-bow on his bass in this song 8:48
7. Untitled (“Dauðalagið”) “Dauðalagið” means “The Death Song” 13:00
8. Untitled (“Popplagið”) “Popplagið” means “The Pop Song” 11:44
Total length: 72:05
() was released in 2002 and I had it on CD for about 10 years before buying this vinyl edition. That it was that long ago when I first heard it is rather a shock as certain music seems to me to have an almost ageless quality about it and this falls into that category. Perhaps because there are no words it doesn’t have to fit in any time period. Thought it peaked at only number 49 in the UK album charts I think it’s been a bit of a slow burner, as lots of people seem to know it, which is probably helped by the appearance of certain tracks in films and TV series. It’s appeared in ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘The Invasion’, the video game ‘Dead Space’, TV series ‘Queer as Folk’ and CSI:Miami amongst others. If I didn’t know it already I think that upon hearing it in any of the above I would probably investigate it as it is quite unusual sonically.
If you happen to be unaware of their back catalogue, then this is a pretty decent place to start, or maybe Ágætis byrjun
I’ve been after a vinyl version of TAKK for quite some time (it’s a double 10″) but it is going for crazy prices, over £150, which is ridiculous. The good news is that it would appear that it is to be re-released on vinyl and I should be able to get it for a reasonable price. More on Sigur Rós in the future