Bob Dylan – Birmingham NEC 12th October 1987

Originally written February 26th, 2004

As Bob Dylan is probably the most bootlegged artist in the history of anything ever, I decided to try and find a recording of the concert I went to. It took a while as I had the year wrong, but I found it, it’s sitting on my desk in front of me and I just apologised to it, I’ll tell you why, even if you don’t want to know.

The concert took place at Birmingham NEC on 12th of October 1987 (I thought it was ’86) and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers did a long set before Bob turned up. My lady partner for the evening (who brought binoculars as our seats were so far away from the stage that they weren’t actually in Birmingham) charmed her way through several miles of bouncers and by the time his Bobness took the stage we were quite near the front.

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Dylan with the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – 1987

Bob shambled onto the stage and kicked off with an unintelligible version of Like A Rolling Stone, which went very much like this:

Oneupona thyme dressed finethrewbumsdime inyrprime, didn’t you?

(rather than ‘Once upon a time you dressed so fine/You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?’)

It was awful and that set the tone for me and was my enduring memory of it, Bob mumbling his way through a load of songs as though he didn’t really want to be there. But listening to it now, some 17 years later, I realise that my memory is coloured by that opening song and isn’t to be fully trusted. One of the problems I had with it becomes quite clear to me, I didn’t know a lot of the songs and I don’t think I was alone in that. The evangelical albums that began with Slow Train Coming (which I’d not heard) and continued with Saved (1980), Shot of Love (1981) and Infidels (1983) sold poorly, were poorly promoted and I hadn’t heard a single song from any of them. As about half the show was made up of these songs and others I’d not heard I was disappointed, I remember, for some reason, wanting him to do Hurricane even though there was absolutely no chance he would, and others as well that I knew and wanted to see played live, these didn’t come either.

It was the expectation unfulfilled that made me think that this was a terrible concert, but it wasn’t. There were rambling musical introductions that bore little or no resemblance to the songs they turned out to be, such as the harp (harmonica, I know all the terms me) solo that eventually became Shelter from the Storm, it wasn’t until our Bob actually began singing that anybody knew which song it was and I kept hoping that it was one I wanted to hear from my own personal list of what a Dylan concert should contain.. Another part of my problem was that I was still wrapped up in music elitism (that I shrugged off in later life) and wasn’t absolutely sure that I really should be seen at a Dylan concert, despite the chances that anybody actually seeing me there were pretty much nil. Ridiculous really.

Thinking back on it now, and hearing it again, it was not the greatest Dylan concert ever, but it was nowhere nearly as bad as I have always described it as being. He put on a good show, a little on the short side perhaps but whereas I had always thought he played for sixty minutes, it was actually eighty. Memory, it’s a slippery thing and becomes all twisted up when avoiding capture. Also, I bought a Tour T-Shirt, which I almost never do and that must mean something.

I know I’m jumping about a bit here as I recall things but that’s the way things from that long ago return. Gotta Serve Somebody from Slow Train Coming was wonderful, I really liked it and thought it one of the best songs he did on the night, even though it was one of the ones I’d not heard before. That’s contradictory, I know, but that’s just the way it is.

At this time I knew quite a lot of Dylan’s songs, the more well known ones, and owned only two albums, At Budokan and Desire. Thinking about the former, I remember wanting him to do All Along The Watchtower as well. Nowadays I’d have a completely different set list in my head and probably stand as little chance of having it played out.

There was no encore, but as he finished with Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 there wasn’t really any need for one. I’m really glad I got to hear that live, everybody must get stoned!

So what’s the upshot of all this? A little bit of regret that I didn’t have the good sense to just enjoy myself at the time and some joy at discovering and listening to it all over again and being able to admit to myself that, for the most part, I was wrong, except for Like A Rolling Stone, I was right about that, it was rubbish.

Dylan in ‘87

at Wembley 5 days after the NEC Gig (added 27/06/2018)

Birmingham NEC 12th October 1987 – Set List

1: Like A Rolling Stone
2: Maggie’s Farm
3: Forever Young
4: When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky
5: Shelter From The Storm
6: Clean Cut Kid
7: Joey
8: Emotionally Yours
9: Seeing The Real You At Last
10: License To Kill
11: Dead Man, Dead Man
12: The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
13: Tomorrow Is A Long Time
14: Gotta Serve Somebody
15: I Shall Be Released
16: Positively Fourth Street
17: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35

The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

From the outset I must declare that this is one of my favourite albums of all time, just so that you know.

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The Sundays formed in the late 1980s and released three albums in the 1990s, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, Blind and Static and Silence. The band’s genesis came with the meeting of singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin at university.  The duo added to the band with bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan and they quickly secured a recording contract with Rough Trade.

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, released in 1990, was their debut and it reached Number 5 in the UK Album charts, which is a pretty good start I’d say, bolstered by some singles success with the tracks ‘Can’t Be Sure‘ and ‘Here’s where the story ends‘.

Give me a story and give me a bed
Give me possessions
Oh love, luck, and money they go to my head like wildfire
It’s good to have something to live for, you’ll find
Live for tomorrow
Live for a job and a perfect behind, high time

England my country, the home of the free
Such miserable weather
But England’s as happy as England can be
Why cry?

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
The worst that I can find
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
But I rely on mine
Ah-ah

However, the band has been on a lengthy hiatus since those releases, with Wheeler and Gavurin focusing on raising their two children. In my opinion they should stop doing that, the kids will be fine, kids are very resilient, and start work on a new album and a tour. Also, re-issue the 2nd & 3rd albums, they are bloody expensive right now. Cheapest Blind is £50 and Static & Silence is £60 for an average copy.

I often see on forums and on facebook the request to, ‘Name an album that is good from start to finish’, or variations on that, and this is one of those albums, there isn’t a dud track on it.

The album was recorded in three and a half months and was released by Rough Trade on January 15, 1990 (this was a year after their debut single) and three months later in North America on Geffen’s GDC label.  In November 1989, a few weeks before the release date, Rough Trade provided a brief preview of the album through a freebie flexi single featuring the track I Won via UK music magazine The Catalogue.  On its release the album sold 60,000 copies in the first two weeks which took it to number 4  in the UK album charts. In America it sold over over 500,000 copies and became a top 5 hit on the alternative chart.

For record store day, can’t remember which one, there was a re-release but I have the orignal, which I didn’t buy on release, I bought the cassette and I played it until the tape was just clear plastic! I picked up a copy of the record at a record fair and it is one of the best purchases I’ve made.

 

Tracklist

A1 Skin & Bones
A2 Here’s Where The Story Ends
A3 Can’t Be Sure
A4 I Won
A5 Hideous Towns
B1 You’re Not The Only One I Know
B2 A Certain Someone
B3 I Kicked A Boy
B4 My Finest Hour
B5 Joy

Rating: 9.8

Your F***ing Sunny Day (Episode 42)

Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda

If somebody were to have recommended and album of Jazz Harp to me I would have said no thank you having immediately associated it with the Jazz Flute bit in Anchorman. Nobody needs either in their life. Fortunately I stumbled across it myself, with no visuals or knowledge of what the hell it actually was.

Who was Alice Coltrane? Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer, and swamini.  That last one I had to look up – In Hinduism, a swami (Sanskrit: स्वामी svāmī [sʋaːmiː]), sometimes abbreviated sw., is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into the religious monastic order, founded by some religious teacher. She was one of the few harpists in the history of jazz and recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels. As you may have guessed from the surname, she was the second wife of jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane.

One of the problems with Jazz is that, to many, it is either an unlistenable mess or, conversely, background music. Throw in some unexpected instruments such as the constant drone provided by the oud and tamboura, as well as the unusual prospect of a harp, and it really isn’t going to sound very appealing. When I first heard a track from this album I didn’t know any of that, I just heard it and thought it was quite brilliant. When you have Pharoah Sanders on sax – Ornette Coleman once described him as “probably the best tenor player in the world – then it is going to be good, great even.

Some interesting facts:

Paul Weller dedicated his song “Song For Alice (Dedicated to the Beautiful Legacy of Mrs. Coltrane)”, from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, to Coltrane; the track entitled “Alice” on Sunn O)))’s 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was similarly inspired. Electronic musician Flying Lotus is the grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane. The song “That Alice” on Laura Veirs’ album Warp and Weft is about Coltrane. Orange Cake Mix included a song entitled “Alice Coltrane” on their 1997 LP Silver Lining Underwater. Poet giovanni singleton’s book Ascension includes 49 poems written daily after Alice Coltrane’s death. I had never heard of her until a couple of months ago.

Having heard a track from it I found a copy of this album for £10 on Amazon, I’ve no idea why it was priced so low but it was and it was brand new, sealed, so I was pleased with that.

Tracklist

A1 Journey In Satchidananda 6:35
A2 Shiva-Loka 6:32
A3 Stopover Bombay 2:51
B1 Something About John Coltrane 9:39
B2 Isis And Osiris 11:29

Rating: 9.0

Here Lies Man

About a month ago I went into my local record shop and asked them to order me this album:

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The reason I wanted it is because of its premise: What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?

This is an excellent question, what if they did? well it would probably sound a lot like the debut from Here Lies Man, which I discovered when it arrived and I popped in to pick it up. Now there are a few other things, the cover is brilliant I think and the music is too, though the one downside is that it can, at times, feel a little repetitive with one song sounding very much like another, but as a whole, well, I feel I must use a phrase that feels somewhat alien to me, IT ROCKS! It really does and that Sabbath/Afrobeat thing is not just some PR blurb, you can really hear it.  Judge for yourself with the track ‘When I Come To’:

This is the actual PR Blurb that accompanied this release in 2017:

What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat? In short, that’s the underlying vibe to the self-titled debut by Here Lies Man. The L.A. based quintet is founded and conceptualized by Marcos Garcia of Antibalas, bringing his erudite experience of West African rhythms and music to the more riff-based foundations of heavy rock. The results are an incredibly catchy and refreshing twist on classic forms, without sounding forced and trite like some sort of mash-up attempt. Here Lies Man merges and expands musical traditions organically, utilizing the talents of drummer Geoff Mann (son of jazz musician Herbie Mann) and a host of skilled musicians to make Garcia’s vision a reality.

“The repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are very close to heavy rock guitar riffs,” Garcia explains. “ This music is based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. It’s what gives it integrity and provides the basis for the musical conversation that’s happening. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition rather than pretending to be creating something new.” And that expansion is the brilliant, hazy, psychedelic, hook-laden 8-song masterwork Here Lies Man, available on LP, CD and download on April 7th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records. (Written by Dave Clifford)

Tracklist

When I Come To
I Stand Alone
Eyes Of The Law
You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
Letting Go
So Far Away
Belt Of The Sun
Here Lies Man

So yes, I really like this album, but today I picked up the Indie Stores release of their new album, You Will Know Nothing, and it is even better than the debut. It has much more light and shade, much more variation between tracks to keep the listener interested and, perhaps, provide for more repeated listenings. The Indie Only release is a blue splatter vinyl, and very nice it is too. Officially it is, according to the record company:-  “very limited u.k ‘light blue clear’ exclusive indies only lp”. I’ve no idea how limited, they don’t say.

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Tracklist

A1 Animal Noises
A2 Summon Fire
A3 Blindness
A4 Voices At The Window
A5 Hell
B1 That Much Closer To Nothing
B2 Taking The Blame
B3 Fighting
B4 Floating On Water
B5 Memory Games
B6 You Ought To Know

I have only listened to it once but loved it straight away. I really do like how there is obvious progression from their debut to this second release which has many of the elements of what made the debut so likeable, but has a more post rock feel about it, and if there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s post rock.

let’s give them a rating:

Here Lies Man: 8.7

You Will Know Nothing: 8.9

Vinyl Vault – Cheltenham

A couple of weekends ago I visited Cheltenham and stopped in, for the first time, in a basement record shop called Vinyl Vault. The picture below makes it look bigger than it really is, but there was a great selection and I found three albums that I was really pleased with.

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There were a couple of albums that I asked if they had and they looked and didn’t, but I’ve been in shops where you just get a grunt, the chap in Vinyl Vault wasn’t like that at all, really helpful and welcoming.

So the three albums I found were –

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Double red vinyl in excellent condition. I’m not absoluelty sure what it is about Poliça that I like, I just know I like them. Here is a track from this album, ‘Warrior Lord’:

The next album I stumbled across in Vinyl Vault was this one, which I had been considering buying from Amazon, it was in my basket and had been for a couple of weeks I just hadn’t pressed the button to buy it:

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In excellent condition again, which one would hope for as it isn’t very old.

And finally, a lovely copy of ‘Spirit Of Eden’ by ‘Talk Talk’, a re-issue but I don’t care, it’s a brilliant album:

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At the till I got a small discount, £3 to make it a round number, which was nice and all in all I’d say my 45 minutes in Vinyl Vault was a very positive experience.

On the way back to the car I walked through a shopping mall and, much to my surprise there was a HMV. Now I’m not really a big fan of this chain but I did pop in and when I popped out again I had three more albums. These are they:

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A nice day out, but more expensive than I was intending!

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