Shortly before Lockdown I saw a copy of ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ in my local record store and completely ignored it as, based on the cover, it was probabaly not my thing at all, soI flicked past it and pretty much forgot about it. Then, about a month ago I was reading an article on Krautrock and I realised that he was from Ash Ra Temple, which made me listen to them and then try and find this album on spotify and, to my suprise, it wasn’t there. I did find it on youtube and have put it down below if you would like a listen.
Although it is a solo album and all the instruments (Guitar) are played by Göttsching it was originally subtittled Ash Ra Tempel VI, technically making it the sixth and final album under the Ash Ra Tempel name.
Göttsching started his career in music at a young age, with various Berlin pop and blues bands in the late-1960’s, including the Steeple Chase Bluesband. He was the mainstay of Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, and also worked with The Cosmic Jokers, and other Kosmische Kuriere projects. Later he established a project together with Michael Hoenig, and on numerous occasions he also played as a guest/collaborator along with Klaus Schulze.
I like repetitive music that I can get lost in, I also like complex music, this album is both, and at times it can get pretty heavy. I can identify with it too as I released a couple of albums of my own that utilised only one guitar and it is difficult to differentiate the tones and sounds when you have only a single instrument. While Manuel was decades before me and is much better at it than I could ever be, I’m going to put a track called ‘Firefly Dance’ from the album ‘Massive’ that was recorded using only one guitar and nothing else.
I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Göttsching and whenever I listen back to tracks I’ve done in the past I get the urge to set all the gear up again and have another go, then something mundane happens, like needing to take the recycling out, and that urge fades as quickly as it arrived, but maybe, one of these days, I will inflict further noise pollution on a world that really already has enough, the only thing I really need, is time.
Here we are, back in 1976, a year in which I celebrated my 9th Birthday and also the year that Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the CN tower in Toronto, Canada is completed and is the tallest free standing structure in the world. The first commercial Concorde flights take off during January of 1976 as a regular passenger service began. “Rocky”, “Taxi Driver” and “All the Presidents Men” are in the cinema and on TV we have new episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “Kojak” and “M*A*S*H” from the U.S and home grown shows such as “The Old Grey Whistle Test”, “Are You Being Served?”, “Superstars”,“The Tomorrow People”, “Tiswas”, “Jim’ll Fix It”, “Space: 1999” and “The Sweeney”. I never liked Jim’ll Fix It, even from an early age Jimmy Saville creeped me out, but Superstars, won every year by Kevin Keegan, was great.
It was an interesting year in music for me as, being only 9, I would mostly only hear what was on the radio and, for the most part, that would be 45’s, which were somewhat at odds with the albums from this year that I have in my top 50. The top selling 45’s of 1976 were:
Save Your Kisses for Me
Brotherhood of Man
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
Elton John and Kiki Dee
A Little Bit More
If You Leave Me Now
I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)
The Roussos Phenomenon EP
December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)
The Four Seasons
Under the Moon of Love
You to Me Are Everything
The Real Thing
Forever and Ever
Young Hearts Run Free
The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)
When Forever Has Gone
Can’t Get By Without You
The Real Thing
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
The number 1 selling 45 by Brotherhood of Man was this years Eurovision Song Contest winner and was truly horrible. As it’s listed I Think it wise to take this opportunity to include a video of The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key) by The Wurzels as it is one of the greatest songs ever put to vinyl:
Now let’s begin the actual top 50 albums of 1976 according to me.
Seed of Memory
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Rock and Roll Heart
No Heavy Petting
War In Babylon
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
King Tubby & Yabby You
King Tubby’s Prophesy of Dub
Patti Smith Group
The Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein
Fela Kuti & Africa 70
Man In The Hills
Gimme Back My Bullets
Fela & Africa 70
24. Abba – Arrival. Now I know there will be people out there amongst my vast readership of up to 3 people who will be suprised by this at number 25, however, despite what one might think of ABBA there is no denying that they were massive and this is the source album for Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You and Money, Money, Money, which I can’t deny enjoying as a 9 year old listening to the radio.
23. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – The Roaring Silence. We had this at home and I was always intrigued by the cover. I didn’t know at the time that there was a Springsteen cover on it, because I had no clue as to who Springsteen was, but Blinded by the Light is the best track on the album by far.
22. Emmylou Harris – Elite Hotel. This would never have been anywhere near a top 10,000 had I not picked it up for £1 or so at a used record store this year. It won a Grammy or something like that I think, but I’d never paid any attention to her really. Here version of The Beatles Here, There and Everywhere is quite lovely.
21. Blondie – Blondie. It’s not Parallel Lines, but the pre-cursor to it and contains tracks that are much rougher but are a clear indicator, in hindsight, as to what was to come.
20. Rush – 2112. This album has probably slowly slipped out of favour with me over the years, from top 3 all the way down to where it is now at 20. There are a number of reasons for this, such as familiarity, age, the fact that it’s all bollocks really. I do still love it but just don’t feel about it now the way I did when I was a kid.
19. The Upsetters – Super Ape. It’s only recently that I’ve really started listening to Dub & Reggae and its an adventure with there being so much to discover. This album is relatively new to me but I absolutely love it, it’s Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry of course so no surprise there, the guy is a genius of the genre.
18/17 AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap/ High Voltage. Two classic AC/DC albums from the Bon Scott era. Not much to choose between them really but I did anyway.
16. Joan Armatrading – Joan Armatrading. This is a fantastic album and it’s easy to forget the impact and importance she had in British music, in 1976, Robin Denselow wrote in The Guardian that the album “showed that we now have a black artist in Britain with the same sort of vocal range, originality (in fact even greater originality in terms of musical influences) and lyrical sensitivity” as Joni Mitchell.
15. Genesis – Wind and Wuthering. There were 2 albums released in 1976, both post Peter Gabriel and while I like them both this one falls slightly short of the other, although, it is, in many ways much fuller musically. So on another day I may well switch them around depending on my mood.
14. Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record. Jeff Lynne is a great song writer and it is on this album that I think he really found his feet. Songs like Telephone Line and Livin’ Thing still stand up to scrutiny all these years later.
13. Wings – At The Speed Of Sound. My favourite Wings album and one of two that I owned as a kid, the other being the live album ‘Over America’ which we had on two cassettes, one was mine and the other was my brothers. I think this album was a high point in McCartneys post-Beatles career.
12. Ted Nugent – Free For All. Another album that I had as a kid and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it would be like Cat Scratch Fever but it isn’t at all, which turned out to be a good thing as it is much, much better.
11. Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail. The second appearance by Genesis and, in my opinion, the better of the two albums released in 1976.
10. Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration. The eighth studio album by the Bob Marley and the Wailers, the album was a great success in the US, becoming the first Bob Marley release to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart (peaking at number 8). Marley is only credited as writer on one of the songs having named family and friends as the writers to avoid contractual disputes with his publishing company.
9. The Eagles – Hotel California. It was, of course, a huge album and that can’t be ignored, but I may be guilty of including it so highly just because it was. Overall, as a complete album, I don’t think it works that well but it does have several really good tracks.
8. Led Zeppelin – Presence. Though not considered to be their greatest work I’ve always been really fond of it and find it quite an achievement considering it was recorded in 18 days and Robert Plant had to sing from a wheelchair as he was recovering from a car accident.
7. Queen – A Day At The Races. This was the period that I thought Queen were at their most relevant, from the self titled debut to 1978’s Jazz, they had a run of 7 albums that showed development and growth and then, well, they became a pop act and I lost almost all interest in them.
6. Joni Mitchell – Hejira. An album of great writing that asks many questions but provides few answers, concentrating instead on the search, the journey for answers rather than any conclusions. Mitchell rarely disappoints and despite much criticism of her move to a more jazzy sound, backed by the fretless bass of Jaco Pastorius, time has taught us that her musical direction decisions are superior to those of reviewers.
5. Stevie Wonder –Songs In The Key Of Life. At this point in his career Wonder was overflowing with creativity and this can be seen in the e.p that was included with the double LP just to get all his songs in. Considered by many to be the greatest album ever, including Elton John and George Michael, it isn’t perfect, but it’s approaching it.
4. Steely Dan – The Royal Scam. The fifth studio album by Steely Dan, featuring more prominent guitar work than the previous album, Katy Lied, which had been the first without founding guitarist Jeff Baxter. Steely Dan never made a bad album, just different degrees of excellence.
3. The Ramones – The Ramones. Historical significance does play rather a large part in the Ramones being up here at number 3 as it influenced so very much that I like that came after it. Clocking in at less than 30 minutes it isn’t long, but it’s impact is still felt.
2. David Bowie – Station To Station. Blending funk and krautrock, romantic balladry and occultism, this album has been described as “simultaneously one of Bowie’s most accessible albums and his most impenetrable”. It was the pre-cursor to the ‘Berlin Trilogy’ and already pointed towards those three albums.
1 Bob Dylan – Desire. I used to have 2 Bob Dylan albums, the other one was (Live) ‘At Budokan’, so ‘Desire’ was played a lot, well, when you consider I probably had 60 or 70 albums at the time the choices were somewhat limited, certainly compared to today. The repeated listening count is off the scale so the songs on this album are carved into my bones and, even though I know it is not the best Dylan album, it’s the best Dylan album.
Written February 22nd 2015 – Sometime in the 80’s (I think it was 1987) I saw Bob Dylan at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a little odd as the support act, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, did a long set that lasted about an hour and a half and then Dylan came on with the Heartbreakers as his backing band and did about an hour. At the time I was a bit disappointed, but I have subsequently managed to get a bootleg recording of the gig and it is a much better gig than I remember it being. I think that one of the reasons is that I was listening to ‘Desire’ a lot at the time and they didn’t play a single track from it, so it was my own expectations that were at fault more than anything.
And that is my top albums of 1976, feel free to disagree with me, because I disagree with myself most of the time.
Well, this got out of hand a little. So, as I previously mentioned, this show uses only records from my own shelves which I’ve cleaned and then played, linking my amp directly to my computer. This took a while, but the main issue is that I didn’t really take note of how long it was going to end up being. It was a bit of marathon and runs for just short of 5 hours. The longest show yet I should think.
Popped out to a record shop in Witney, Oxfordshire during my lunch break. I’ve been there before but not since prior to Christmas. The used selection is a decent size but there isn’t often much that I’m looking for and they have dividers with the names of bands I do want, but there aren’t any there, which is often disappointing. Today I bought Fripp & Eno for £12, 1973 press but not first I don’t think. It’s not on any of the streaming services so it’s my first listen, it’s bloody good.
There are only two tracks on the album
Side 1: “The Heavenly Music Corporation” 20:55
Side 2: “Swastika Girls” 18:43
There was a deluxe CD reissue which has:
“The Heavenly Music Corporation (Reversed)” 20:52
“The Heavenly Music Corporation (Half speed)” 41:49
“Swastika Girls (Reversed)” 18:54
Which I’d quite like to hear as the music lends itself to being slowed down or reversed. I believe John Peel once played one of the tracks backwards and nobody noticed, including Peel.
Brian Eno invited Robert Fripp to his London home studio in September 1972. Eno was experimenting with a tape system developed by Terry Riley and Pauline Oliveros (I watched a BBC 4 program on this last week, it was fascinating, called ‘Tones, Drones And Arpeggios: The Magic Of Minimalism), where two reel-to-reel tape recorders were set up side-by side. Sounds recorded on the first deck would be played back by the second deck, and then routed back into the first deck to create a long looping tape delay. Fripp played guitar over Eno’s loops, while Eno selectively looped or recorded Fripp’s guitar without looping it. The technique later came to be known as “Frippertronics”.
I had a software version of ‘Frippertronics’ that I played my guitar through which was odd to begin with as you started with no sound even though you were playing and then it comes in, once you got going though it was really interesting building something up only to hear it slowly degrade, so then you play something else and so on. The Terry Riley piece of BBC 4 explained very well how phasing works, basically if you have teo reel to reel tape recorders with exactly the same thing on and press start, they will, at first be synchronised, say 7 notes repeating, but over time they will fall out of synch and things begin to sound a bit busy as you have 14 notes now, 7 & 7 but playing at a different interval. Over time two recorded will fall back into synch and you will have 7 notes again. The interesting thing about it to me is not necessarily the sound that it creates but how the brain processes it. It can be so slow that you don’t actually realise it is happening and you can become aware that the sounds you were listening to 15 minutes ago have completely changed and you have no idea how it happened. Well, intellectually you do, but not emotionally. It is very much a ‘How did I get here?’ experience.
The best known of Terry Riley’s pieces is called ‘In C’ which I’ve listened to a bit, not the whole thing as it can take 4 or more hours to perform, but it was a game changer in music at the time it was first performed.
‘In C’ consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase they play: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. In this way, although the melodic content of each part is predetermined, ‘In Ch’ as elements of aleatoric music to it (n which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work’s realisation is left to the determination of its performer(s)).The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician (“traditionally… a beautiful girl,” Riley notes in the score) to play the note C in repeated eighth notes, typically on a piano or pitched-percussion instrument (e.g. marimba). This functions as a metronome and is referred to as “The Pulse”. Steve Reich introduced the idea of a rhythmic pulse to Riley, who accepted it, thus radically altering the original composition by Riley which had no rhythm.
‘In C’ has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates “performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half.” The number of performers may also vary between any two performances. The original recording of the piece was created by 11 musicians (although, through overdubbing, several dozen instruments were utilised), while a performance in 2006 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall featured 124 musicians.
The piece begins on a C major chord (patterns one through seven) with a strong emphasis on the mediant E and the entrance of the note F which begins a series of slow progressions to other chords suggesting a few subtle and ambiguous changes of key, the last pattern being an alteration between B♭ and G. Though the polyphonic interplay of the various patterns against each other and themselves at different rhythmic displacements is of primary interest, the piece may be considered heterophonic (In music, heterophony is a type of texture characterised by the simultaneous variation of a single melodic line).
Below is a performance which includes Terry Riley who is the bearded fellow at the piano. He is accompanied by Stargaze, who also collaborated with Policia to re-interpret Steve Reich’s Music For Pieces Of Wood, we’ll get into that in a minute.
I bought the LSO’s version of Music For Pieces Of Wood last year when it was released for Record Store Day 2017 and, a few months later another version was released by Policia and Stagaze which used instruments other than wood. This seems a contradiction but it really does work very well, it’s 20 minutes long, if you can spare the time have a listen:
The thing with music of this sort I find is that you need a little time, it is not short snappy numbers that you can blank out as they play, dipping in for a melody or a phrase here and there, this music needs a degree of concentration but you still have to let it wash over you to a degree. It needs a little bit of personal investment, but it is well worth it.
Anyway, I did a little video of walking into the shop, had my mic on so apologies for the heavy breathing! Shop is called Rapture, sister store of Truck in Oxford.
My second album arrived from Vinyl Moon this week and it is really rather good. Before I go any further I will re-iterate that it is too expensive for a UK subscriber, there, that’s said, no need to mention it again until next time.
VINYL MOON creates an immersive music experience by curating a mix of new songs by emerging artists, pressing them on limited edition vinyl, and packaging them in original artwork record jackets. – This is true, they do, and this months is really a rather lovely thing:
Volume 28 is titled – Long Intuition.
I don’t think I need describe it much as you can see it in the images I stole from Discogs, saves me doing it myself, but having lovely and interesting packaging is not the whole story of course, what about the music? Well, below are the first three tracks so you can have yourself a listen. I’ve played the album twice all the way through so far and I like it, some great selections.
All I Hear Is Waves
You Can’t Put Out This Fire
Shuhandz & High Flown
If you this looks like something you may like yourself, then here’s a link VINYL MOON
I’ve already paid for the next one but I’m going to play this one several more times before getting my expectations up for that one.
Sludgefest – SOS (Must Destroy)
The Soul Lifters – Hot, Funky and Sweaty (Funk)
Dylan – Dark Planet (Freak)
Dick Dale – Shredded Heat (Hightone)
Explosions In The Sky – First Breath After Coma (Session)
Beenie Man with T.O.K. – Bring It On (South Rakkas Crew)
DEF Feat DJ Three D – DEF Momentum (Street Sounds)
The Black Keys – Hard Row (Fat Possum)
Big Stick – Drag-Racing (Recess)
Akufen – ? (Trapez)
Numbers – At The Mall (Troubleman Unlimited)
K-Line – Down Around (Boss Tunage)
Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (His Masters Voice)
Vanishing Breed – Flowers Open For Flight Of The Golden Butterfly (Static Caravan)
Explosions In The Sky – The Moon Is Down (Session)
People Like Us – Stifled Love (Soleilmoon)
Magoo – Can’t Get Off The Ground Today (May Go)
Lesser and Venetian Snares – Mensa Disco Queers (Tigerbeat6)
Colder – Shiny Star (Output)
I’m Being Good – Nostalgic For Fake Times (Johnson Family)
Liqitex – Liquitex (Secret Agent)
Fast Floor – Roll The Beats 2003 (Audio Rehab)
Coin Op – The Curve (Fierce Panda)
Explosions In The Sky – Memorial (Session)
Johnny Duhon – So What? (Anticon)
Artimus Pyle – And All That Remains Is Sorrow (Prank)
Featuring session from The Damned and Fingerprintz.
J. Geils Band – Wild Man (EMI America)
Fingerprintz – Who’s Your Friend (Session)
Squeeze – Cat On A Wall (Deptford Fun City)
Spizz Oil – 6000 Crazy (Rough Trade)
Sly Dunbar And The Revolutionaries – Mr Bassie (Virgin)
Bob Dylan – Changing Of The Guards (Columbia)
Weirdos – We Got the Neutron Bomb (Dangerhouse)
Residents – Lizard Lady (Ralph)
Joe Cocker – A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Asylum)
The Damned – I’m A Burglar (Session)
Fingerprintz – Sean’s New Shoes (Session)
Johnny G – Highway Shoes (Beggars Banquet)
Medicine Head – Walkin’ Blues (Dandelion)
The Clash – All The Young Punks (CBS)
Television Personalities – Part-Time Punks (King’s Road)
The Damned – Love Song (Session)
The Shadows – Brother Noah (Black Art)
Gary Moore – Fanatical Fascists (MCA)
Chi-Pig – Ring Around The Collar (Chi Pig Records)
Fingerprintz – Nervz (Session)
Fingerprintz – Sync Unit (Session)
Dr Feelgood – Milk And Alcohol (Stiff)
Wire – Outdoor Miner (Harvest)
Edge – I’m Cold (Albion)
Mauro Pagani – La Città Aromatica (Ascolto)
And another John Peel show. Variable audio quality but listenable.
Featuring sessions from Misty and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft
The Clash – Clampdown (CBS)
The Clash – Guns Of Brixton (CBS)
The Yachts – Now I’m Spoken For (Radar)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Was Ist Ein Welle? (Session)
Misty – Judgement Coming On The Land (Session)
Adam and the Ants – Day I Met God (Do It)
The Beat – Tears Of A Clown (Two-Tone)
Public Image Ltd – Bad Baby (Virgin)
Preachers – Who Do You Love (BFD)
Secret Affair – New Dance (I-Spy)
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Dance Stance (Oddball)
Mikey Dread – Comic Strip (Cruise)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – I And I Reality (Session)
Speedballs – Is Somebody There (No Pap)
Suicide – Dream Baby Dream (Island)
The Undertones – Billy’s Third (Sire)
The Fall – Before The Moon Falls (Step Forward)
Buzzards – British Justice (Chrysalis)
Misty – True Rasta Man (Session)
The Specials – Concrete Jungle (2Tone)
Bob Marley And The Wailers (Concrete Jungle)
Simple Minds – Carnival [Shelter In A Suitcase] (Arista)
The Raincoats – Adventures Close To Home (Rough Trade)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Violence (Session)
The Passions – Oh No It’s You (Fiction)
The Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar (Virgin)
The Pop Group – We Are All Prostitutes (Rough Trade)
Misty – Sodom And Gomorrah (Session)
Snakefinger – Here Comes The Bums (Virgin)
The Clash – Hateful (CBS)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Kebab Dreams (Session)
Mekons – Dan Dare (Virgin)
Boys – See Ya Later (Safari)
1979, what a year to be alive for music! Another John Peel show to enjoy.
Featuring Au Pairs in session.
Stiff Little Fingers – Straw Dogs (Chrysalis)
Spizzenergi – Soldier, Soldier (Rough Trade)
999 – Found Out Too Late (Radar)
Au Pairs – Pretty Boy (Session)
The Specials – Nite Klub (2 Tone)
The Skids – Thanatos/A Day In Europa/The Olympian (Virgin)
Majesterians – Flute In Dub (Revue)
Johnny Guitar Watson – Someone Cares For Me (Red Lightnin’)
Spitfire Boys – Funtime (Impeccable)
Vice Versa – New Girls/Neutrons (Neutron)
Au Pairs – Ideal Woman (Session)
The Slits – Typical Girls (Island)
Tempo – Subway Girl (Klein)
The Undertones – Let’s Talk About Girls (Sire)
Laughing Gass – New Tart (Out Of Order/Wessex)
The Revillos – Where’s The Boy For Me? (Dindisc)
Dennis Brown – The Man Next Door (Joe Gibbs)
Homosexuals – Astral Glamour (Black Noise)
X-Certs – Anthem (Heartbeat)
Apartment – The Alternative (Heartbeat)
Numbers – Cross-Slide (Heartbeat)
Au Pairs – Monogamy (Session)
Cowboys International – Pointy Shoes (Virgin)
Fakes – Production (Deep Cuts)
Shenley Duffus – Rukumbine (Mango)
Joy Division – Shadow Play (Factory)
Out – Who Is Innocent? (Radar)
Mikey Dread – Love The Dread (Dread At The Controls)
Au Pairs – Come Again (Session)
IQ Zero – Insects (Object)
A show from 1981, featuring lots of lovely interesting stuff.
With sessions from New Order and Killing Joke.
Psychedelic Furs – Dumb Waiters (CBS)
Modern Eon – Child’s Play (Dindisc)
Be Bop Deluxe – Ships In The Night (Harvest Heritage)
New Order – Dreams Never End (Session)
Misty In Roots – Man Kind (People Unite)
Splodgenessabounds – Yarmouth 5-0 (Deram)
Pigbag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag (Y Records)
Killing Joke – Tension (Session)
The Delmontes – So It’s Not To Be (Rational)
The Method Actors – Distortion (Armageddon)
John Lee Hooker – Everybody Rockin’ (Oxford)
UB40 – Don’t Slow Down (DEP International)
New Order – Senses (Session)
Recognitions – Too Much Fiction (Ryme Time)
The Cure – Other Voices (Fiction)
Renaldo and The Loaf – Spratt’s Medium (Ralph)
Girls At Our Best – I’m Beautiful Now (Happy Birthday Records)
The Bleechers – Check Him Out (Trojan)
Killing Joke – Butcher (Session)
Magazine – About The Weather (Virgin)
The Cramps – Rockin’ Bones (I.R.S. Records)
New Order – I.C.B. (Session)
The Undertones – You’re Welcome (Ardeck)
Tarzan 5 – Boys Game (021 Records)
Talisman – Free Speech (Recreational Records)
Killing Joke – The Fall Of Because (Session)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Alles Ist Gut (Virgin)
Out On Blue Six – Party Mood (Hungry Rooms)
New Order – Truth (Session)
Art Objects – What Am I Supposed To Do? (Heartbeat)
I have never heard of Prins Thomas, in my defence though, he has almost certainly never heard of me either. I was in the Dance/Electronica section of the record store, a favourite section, and there was this album:
The album is set across 8 sides of vinyl and comes with a CD version on 2 discs. SO that is 4 records and 2 CD’s, going for the princely sum of £10. Well I thought that worth looking into.
Prins Thomas is a Norwegian electronic dance music producer and DJ whose space disco style is a melange of disco, house, minimal techno, electro, Krautrock, jazz fusion, space rock and more. Born Thomas Moen Hermansen and based in Oslo, Norway, he initially made a name for himself as Prins Thomas in the mid-2000s in collaboration with Lindstrøm.
Really? well OK then. At this point I am wandering around the shop, still looking for things but carrying the album around with me. Still undecided but looking up things on my phone. I found it on Apple Musioc and decided to have a quick preview but the reception was awful, so that was a no go. It was at this point I remembered that the shop was doing a 20% of absolutely everything sale, so it was only actually £8. I bought it, I thought it worth the risk.
As I had the CD’s I popped one in the CD player when I got to the car and the 20 minute drive home was an absolute delight and, more importantly, I was feeling rather pleased with myself as I very much liked what I was hearing. I am repeating this again, but it is appropriate to do so, I like repetition, in Music that is. It is why I like so much instrumental music, including kosmische Musik, I like to get into a groove and stick with it and this album does that.
Feel free to have yourself a listen, but be patient, it is an hour long and it is worth a full listen:
This is the fourth solo release from Thomas, which I think translates from Spanish as ‘Prince of the North’, why Spanish I have no idea, and I’ve read that it is ‘an album of instrumentals influenced by 90’s ambient music‘. Which it may well be, and I can hear some of that in it but for me it is an escape of sorts, allowing, as it does, the mind to get rather caught up in it and drift from thought to thought quite naturally. That is a big positive for me and I enjoyed this album a lot.
The tracks are titled after the sides of the records so they don’t really give very much away:
A1 – A1
A2 – A2
B – B
C – C
D – D
E – E
F – F
G – G
H – H
That has to be the most pointless track list I have ever typed.
Here we go with part 2 then and ‘Lord Upminster’ from 1981. This is the Sly and Robbie album, as The Blockheads and Dury had parted company, although Chas Jankel did fly out to Nassau to write and record for this album. Dury and Jankel had no material and did their writing on the flight out and during the recording, which is an issue as Dury could take a very long time to create lyrics that he considered ready, after many many re-writes, and the short gestation period of the tracks on Lord Upminster was not wholly successful.
Side 1 of a fairly short 8 track album is quite forgettable to be truthful, it really is quite disappointing and no matter how much I want to like it greatly, I can’t, I don’t dislike it either, it’s just OK. Side 2 is much better, as though they saved all the good tracks for it. The closing song is one of my favourites of all Dury songs.
“Spasticus (Autisticus)” was written in 1981 as a protest against the International Year of Disabled Persons, which Dury quite rightly considered to be patronising. The repeated refrain of “I’m Spasticus, I’m Spasticus, I’m Spasticus Autisticus” referenced the line “I’m Spartacus” from the 1960 film Spartacus. Dury was considering touring under the name “Spastic and the Autistics” for the record, playing on his own disability and the term “blockhead”, but his friend Ed Speight suggested that the song should be about the freed slave of the disabled.
The term Spastic had been used in the UK as a derogatory term, calling people spastic or spaz was an insult. It was rather unkind to sufferers of cerebral palsy as well of course. The BBC decided that the lyrics were offensive as did the majority of other radio stations and it received no air time. The record company weren’t that interested either. This indicates fairly clearly that they didn’t actually listen to the song or understand the lyrics, it wasn’t a piss take, it wasn’t offensive, it was a rallying cry.
The song was performed live on television and broadcast worldwide during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics, by Orbital and members of the Graeae Theatre Company, which I really had no idea about. I went to the Paparalympics in 2012 and it was brilliant, but today is the first time I’d seen the video below (stick with it, it’s worth it)
How bloody brilliant is that, 30 years on and there it is again.
A1 – Funky Disco Pops
A2 – Red Letter
A3 – Girls Watching
A4 – Wait For Me
B1 – The Body Song
B2 – Lonely Town
B3 – Trust (Is A Must)
B4 – Spasticus Autisticus
I saw Spasticus performed live at the Oxford Apollo or New Theatre, whatever its name was then, in 1984, at least I think it was, Dave probably still has the ticket stub, Dave? It was a stunning performance with Dury walking on stage wrapped in, what appeared to be, real barbed wire. The tour was in support of the next album.
4000 Weeks Holiday (8.4)
Released in 1984, this was the first Dury album that I bought. Everything prior to this I had only as singles, the rest I heard in Dave’s bedroom. For whatever reason, the Blockheads were out of the picture and Dury now had backing from ‘The Music Students’, either by choice or at the insistence of Polydor, the record company, accounts vary. There had been a delay in releasing the album as Dury was insistent that the track ‘Fuck Off Noddy’ be included and the record company weren’t happy about it. There were rumours about the Enid Blyton estate threatening to litigate, there was also a track about Billy Butlin that didn’t make it, amid allegations of Butlin kiddy fiddling, it was all a bit delicate.
I don’t think the album would have been any better from having either track included, I’d even say it is better without them. It’s a really good album that has actually become better over time.The single “Really Glad You Came / (You’re My) Inspiration” was released during that time, the songs were two different lyrics put to an almost identical tune and the single
was a total failure, even though these are the two tracks most often used on Greatest Hits compilations. It’s a shame this single bombed as these are really good tracks, though not necessarily what the record buying public would be expecting from Dury. Its follow up single “Ban The Bomb / Very Personal” was mocked by critics, and to be honest, it is probably the weakest track on the album.
The album also contains “Peter the Painter” which was written following a request from British Pop artist Peter Blake, who had been Dury’s teacher at London’s Royal College of Art. Blake was having his own exhibition at The Tate Gallery, London and asked Dury to compose a theme tune for it. “Peter the Painter” was the result.
PETER THE PAINTER
Who’s got the toughest brush with the sweetest strokes?
At the Royal Academy for Jack-the-Lademy
Mr. Blake is the actual bloke at the Royal College of Useful Knowledge
He plays his part without complaint at the Royal Society for Insobriety
Gets his pencils and his paint from the Royal Commission for Intuition
It’s not a fake, it’s a Peter Blake
It’s navy blue, it’s crimson lake
It takes the cake and no mistake,
For goodness’ sake take a look at those Blakes
As mentioned previously, Dave and I went to Oxford to see Ian Dury & the Music Students and, to this day, it is still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to some bloody good ones. A lot of it was about the stage presence of Dury, he really owned it when he was up there, and his Spasticus performance, wrapped in what appeared to be real barbed wire, was outstanding. I am convinced we also saw a very you Supergrass as one of the many support acts, but I have no proof of this. Three lads of the right age, from Oxford, there’s a good chance it was them.
Below is a playlist of some of the tracks from the album. I couldn’t find a decent ‘Ban The Bomb’, which says a lot about how well it was promoted. Looking on Discogs, only 1 person on there owns a copy, which is most unusual, and makes it rather a rare thing and probably expensive to buy, even though it’s not all that good.
Below is 40 minutes audio of a concert as Ian Dury & the Music Students from 1984, so the same tour I went to:
Also, because I recently picked up a 12″ singles of it and because Big Dave (who is not big but is Dave) has it in his top 10 bass lines, here is a quick snippet of you’re my inspiration playing at home, sort of sideways.
(You’re My) Inspiration
Tell Your Daddy
Peter The Painter
Ban The Bomb
Percy The Poet
Take Me To The Cleaners
The Man With No Face
Really Glad You Came
Not as bad as portrayed pretty much sums up this album, which is a collection of songs from the short lived stage musical of the same name. Critics pointed out that the songs were not as good as Dury’s ‘old stuff’. though two of the tracks, “Apples” and “England’s Glory”, were written over 13 years earlier while Dury was still in Kilburn & The Highroads.
The show, which had several more songs than were included on the album, only lasted 10 weeks before closing, reviews were not favourable and, presumably the ticket sales weren’t either.
I’ve only heard the album a couple of times and it’s the only one I don’t actually own, but there is a particular track that I really like and which is included in Radio show 8, called ‘Love Is All’ which is down below along with the title track ‘Apples’.
Love is all:
I did find a short clip of ‘Englands Glory’ being performed on the stage set:
Dury, Rod Melvin
“Love Is All”
“Bit O’ Kit”
“Looking For Harry”
“Bus Driver’s Prayer”
Traditional, arranged and adapted by Ian Dury
“The Right People”
“All Those Who Say Okay”
“Riding The Outskirts Of Fantasy”
To be honest I’m not really sure if this should be classed as an official release, it is more of a collection of songs from a musical than a deliberate attempt to release an album, if you see what I mean.
The Bus Driver’s Prayer & Other Stories (7.6)
This album was released in 1992 and, even though it followed a successful Blockheads reunion tour following the death of their drummer Charley Charles, it was not a Blockheads album, but it does feature them all at certain points, except bassist Norman Watt-Roy.
The album began life as a result of the 1991 film After Midnight. Dury was asked to produce music for the film and he recruited Blockhead Mick Gallagher and Music Students member Merlin Rhys-Jones to help out. Two of the songs, “O’Donegal” and “Quick Quick Slow” appear on the album, and another, “Bye Bye Dublin” doesn’t.
Lyrically, the album was very much regarded as a return to form for Dury, examples of this being:
From Poo Poo In The Prawn
I was a very hungry fella
I defrosted my paella
Came down with Salmonella
Three weeks intensive care
They failed to send technicians in
To check the air-conditioning
Which was unfortunately transmissioning
A case of Legionnaires
There’s a malaise
In the mayonnaise
There’s a poo-poo in the prawn
Where we missed them
In the system
Little germs are being born
There’s no respite
From the cess-pit
There’s no shelter from the pong
Where the hell did we go wrong?
From Poor Joey
This is my routine: first I ponder and peck I look in the mirror and I shit on the deck I try to fly, I bang my head I think of something creative instead
I ruffle my feathers and have a good scratch Spend at least half an hour trying to undo my catch Not as though I want to be deleted by an owl I’ve got to fight this awful situation somehow
Though the story of poor Joey is seemingly about a Budgie, it is, I would suggest, an allegory for how life can become entirely routine and one can become trapped in this routine, a prisoner of ones own repeated actions.
As far as I am aware no singles were released from the album but there are a couple of contenders on there.
Demon Records were unhappy with the final album and hardly promoted it, despite favorable reviews including in the March 1993 issue of Vox where it was awarded six out of ten stars (which is an ok rating, although not great). Mick Gallagher continues to praise the album as one of his favorites, and noted in the book Song by Song that it was the album by which he personally mourned Dury following his passing in 2000.
Apparently the album received criticism for its use of a drum machine, even though the drummer had recently died, which seems a little unfair.
“That’s Enough of That” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 4:49
“Bill Haley’s Last Words” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 3:12
“Poor Joey” – 3:50
“Quick Quick Slow” – 3:14
“Fly in the Ointment” – 2:55
“O’Donegal” – 3:53
“Poo-Poo in the Prawn” – 3:17
“London Talking” – 1:15
“Have A Word” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 3:57
“D’Orine The Cow” – 3:18
“Your Horoscope” – 4:00
“No Such Thing As Love” – 3:38
“Two Old Dogs Without A Name” – 4:43
“Bus Driver’s Prayer” (traditional, arranged and adapted by Ian Dury) – 0:59
Mr Love Pants (9.0)
This was the last album to be released while Dury was still with us, and the last I will be talking about here. There was a live album, ‘Live! Warts ‘n’ Audience’ from 1990,and, posthumously released, another called ‘Straight From The Desk’ in 2001 as well as studio album ‘Ten More Turnips From The Tip’. Added to that there was a series of re-issues that had lots of out takes and alternate versions that Dury never wanted to be released, but they were released anyway.
But back to this album, this is a real, actual return to form and as far as I’m concerned it is up there with the first two albums. Released 6 years afrer Busmans Prayer it is an entirely different proposition, with the the Blockheads back on board and playing brilliantly, the quality shines through. I’ve listened to this album many times and can put it on shuffle with New Boots and Do It Yourself and nothing seems out of place to me (although production values are different of course, I mean the songs). In a BBC documentary Dury dismissed all of the albums between Do It Yourself and Mr. Love Pants as inferior, and as a whole I’d tend to agree.
“Itinerant Child” was to be released as Ian Dury & The Blockhead’s first single in 18 years (since 1980’s “Sueperman’s Big Sister”) and a video was recorded but the record label, East Central One, rejected the idea. “Mash it Up Harry” was released instead on both CD and 12″ record. As far as I know the video for ‘Itinerant Child’ has never surfaced, although it could be out there somewhere. Bad call by the record company I think, as a single, ‘Itinerant Child’ is the better option. Perhaps the record company were swayed by the football chant at the end. Though it almost certainly isn’t true, the Harry of the song is Harry Redknapp in my head and the team is Tottenham Hotspur, hence the Spuds references. I read somewhere that it is a song about a gay man, but that sounds like crap to me gleaned from alluding to sticking things up ones bottom in the lyrics, which would be a perfectly normal thing for Dury to write.
Here, from ‘Jack Shit George’, which is fairly heavy on the profanity, is a sample of what are curiously beautiful lyrics:
You can’t bear another’s beauty, you can’t emulate a grace You can’t filch another’s mystery, occupy another’s space You can’t do another’s duty, or take a special place In another person’s history when they’ve sunk without a trace
The man could write, and I don’t think it was particularly about being clever with words but more about taking time to find the right ones and not being afraid to use them, not going for the banal or obvious but the words that really allowed him to say what he wanted to say in the best possible way.
Here, for no particular reason, is a ‘Rare’ footage of Dury that I found.
As a special treat, a complete concert to listen to from the Hammersmith Odeon recorded in September 1979, it is over there on the right, you may have to scroll up or down to find it but it is there.
I do think that Ian Dury was a one off, we’d never seen his like before and never will again, he took all his influences and turned them into something new, making the best of what he had and giving us something memorable and wonderful to keep. To finish with a quote from ‘The Passing Show’ would be apt I think:
But when we’re torn from mortal coil We leave behind a counterfoil It’s what we did and who we knew And that’s what makes this story true
If you’ve been listening to the radio show at all then you’d have heard my take on the Mercury Music Prize and how much I liked the album by Dinosaur, well, proving that wasn’t just bullshit words I bought a copy of the album today. At £17 it was pretty reasonable for a new record in a gatefold sleeve, although it came with no extras, which is fine as I never use the download cards anyway, I much prefer a CD tucked in the sleeve.
It is a brilliant debut album and they really are exceptional musicians, as can be seen from their performance at the MMP awards the other week:
I’ve listened to the album several times now and it just keeps getting better and better.
I actually think the right person won the award itself, but for a band like Dinosaur the exposure it has provided them has been invaluable, not only for them but for myself as they wouldn’t have even been on my radar without being nominated. I really do love this album.
Laura Jurd – still in her mid-20s – is already on her third album. Both Human Spirit(2015) and her 2012 debut Landing Ground foregrounded Jurd’s ambitious compositions, drawing on a repertory company of young musicians. Together, As One presents a unified front from Jurd’s regular working quartet, now called Dinosaur. The Dinosaur sound and feel is perhaps best represented by the first track Awakening. This has a superb asymmetric (5/8) pulse out of which Jurd’s trumpet floats across echoplexed synthesizer washes before a fragile theme emerges from the sonic haze. Not an unusual way to begin a jazz fusion track, but Dinosaur make it feel authentic and fresh. After the long intro Conor Chaplin’s bass installs a long 5/4 riff into the piece followed by plangent electric piano by Elliot Galvin. This was not the only time during this album that I was reminded of Ian Carr’s Nucleus and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Mwandishi’ band (featuring Eddie Henderson), but that’s more because of mood and style than compositional and improvisational content. Dinosaur’s music sounds young and defiantly European – there’s a hint of Acoustic Ladyland – and its best moments stick in the mind with an easy grace. The nine-and-a-half-minute Extinct has a cunning groove that emerges slowly from the primordial audio swirl of its intro. A plainly stated middle section theme changes the mood for a while before the Sly-like groove returns for the remainder of the song. Primordial has a hammering, antsy fanfare that morphs into a triple-time lope for an eloquent solo by Jurd. I liked Galvin’s keyboard sounds best when they were idiomatic (electric piano, Rose Stone-like organ in Extinct) or heading for outer space (the twangling synths and electronic washes of Interlude). In Corrie Dick, Jurd has the empathetic, endlessly inventive drummer that every jazz composer dreams of, and occasionally deserves. Bassist Chaplin is a star. There’s a close empathy (which is not always reflected in the mix). Although it may win awards, Together, As One doesn’t come across as a self-consciously ‘award winning album’: the production is understated, the performances are straightforwardly good and no-one is trying too hard to impress, which makes it all the more impressive.
In one of the recent 33 1/3 radio shows I re-wrote what I thought should have been the Mercury Music Prize shortlist, and I rather enjoyed it. It took my way back to the days when the pop singles charts mattered, to me at least, and I would moan at the injustice of one single being more popular than another, did the record buying public have no taste!? Why in gods name are people buying the second Kajagoogoo single? This I have never understood, from a musical point of way at least, as it’s shit:
I hope you didn’t bother watching that.
So in this occasional series I’ll be looking at the official UK charts and moving them about a bit to create a new top 10 based entirely on my own opinion with absolutely no thought to anybody else’s. Counting down the charts from 10 to 1 i’ll tell you what I kicked out and where the replacement actually sat in the charts on this day. Sometimes controversial, actually quite often, as what I think is disposable is another persons classic.