Lindisfarne – Magic In The Air

It was my Dad who bought this album, on cassette, and I have no idea what prompted him to do so as he wasn’t a big consumer of music, but buy this he did and it found its way to me at a time where I only had a cassette player and very few cassettes, so I played this pretty much every night as I fell to sleep for quite a few years, probably starting when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I listened to it most often on a mono headphone as I drifted off, it was shit.

When I left home at 16 I don’t remember taking it with me, though I do have a vinyl copy now that I bought for two or three pounds a few years ago.

Sometimes records, or just songs, evoke memories or feelings in a way that nothig else does. For me, this record takes me to a much simpler time, a time not without drama or pressure, but seen and felt through a different lens. As a teenager I didn’t worry about a job, or money or even school, because I, like so many teenagers, had no real idea what was coming in my future and was pretty indestructable and yes, I was an expert on everything, even things I knew nothing about, because youth.

From Rock Goes To College the same year, 1978, that the album was released is the opening track from ‘Magic In The Air’, Lady Eleanor.

The album version is better to be honest.

There was a time when I knew every word to every song, and still remember most even now, but the song that I always felt highlighted the incredible songwriting of Alan Hull was ‘Winter Song’. Even as a know nothing 13 year old I understood everything that was being conveyed through the words Hull wrote, and so did Elvis Costello, who performs the song below.

When winter’s shadowy fingers
First pursue you down the street
And your boots no longer lie
About the cold around your feet
Do you spare a thought for summer
Whose passage is complete
Whose memories lie in ruins
And whose ruins lie in heat
When winter comes howling in
When the wind is singing strangely
Blowing music through your head
And your rain splattered windows
Make you decide to stay in bed
Do you spare a thought for the homeless tramp
Who wishes he was dead
Or do you pull your bedclothes higher
Dream of summertime instead?
When winter comes howling in
The creeping cold has fingers
That caress without permission
And mystic crystal snowdrops
Only aggravate the condition
Do you spare one thought for the gypsy
With no secure position
Who’s turned and spurned by village and town
At the magistrate’s decision
When winter comes howling in
When the turkey’s in the oven
And the Christmas presents are bought
And Santa’s in his module
He’s an American astronaut
Do you spare one thought for Jesus
Who had nothing but his thoughts
Who got busted just for talking
And befriending the wrong sorts?
When winter comes howling in
When winter comes howling in

That’s poetry that is. Alan Hull wrote this around 1967 and it appeared on their album “Nicely Out of Tune in 1970”. It’s good that it is still being performed today, by Sam Fender, who released it as a christmas single:

The album title comes from the song ‘Dingley Dell’ which is from the album of the same name. There are many, many good songs in this live collection and while I am not here to try and convert anybody to the music of Lindisfarne I would urge you to give it a listen, you never know, you may like it.

The album is below, it’s part 2 starting with Lady Eleanor

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0ZEJnrAVfBHBLVaTzOSpbg

100 best Tracks of the 1970’s (Repost, just because)

I have no idea why I started this bloody list as it’s proven to be really difficult. I’m looking at mostly 45’s but have had to throw a few album tracks in there as well. Back in the 70’s I had a few 45’s, not that many though, so the majority of these I didn’t have. I heard most of them either on the radio in the kitchen, in the car or at a friends place, some I heard much later. We consumed music differently back then. Music was not as available as it is now and when a song hit it big it received lots of radio play, then that tailed off and then you’d hear it now and again, making it almost a special treat, unless you had bought the single or the album it came from of course, particularly on Top Of The Pops type albums which were compilations of the hits of the day.

Anyway, here goes, it’s my personal list so I’m sure there will be some ridiculous exclusions, but I make no apologies for that, they just hadn’t entered my life at the time or much since. Also, they are not in any particular order, they are numbered for convenience not to show preference. Let’s not forget that in the seventies I was 3 years old, and thirteen years old, and all the ages in-between.

100 Steely Dan – ‘Reelin In The Years’

I heard this on ‘The Friday Rock Show’, presented at the time by Tommy Vance, but I never heard the introduction so I had no idea who it was, and when the record was over, he never repeated it so I was left in the dark for quite a while. Some months later I found out who it was and have liked Steely Dan ever since, helped somewhat my my friend Dave, who loves them and whose brother, Pete, had several albums that we listened to in Dave’s bedroom. Bedrooms were where music was most often shared in the days before MP3’s, Before Spotify and youtube, you went to somebody’s house and they played you stuff.

99 The Pretenders – ‘Brass In Pocket’

I’d heard this on the radio several times before I ever saw them and I remember being quite confused by the whole waitress thing, but it was, and probably still is, my favourite Pretenders track, not that I’m a big fan.

98 James Brown – ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine’

This was a re-issue that found the charts again in the 70’s. Who could not love it really, all that energy and he groove it finds, though I’ve no idea what prompted it to be re-released it was all over the radio.

97 Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘No Woman, No Cry’

This was probably the first time I became consciously aware of who Bob Marley was and I remember well that the video for the song was the lyceum concert. I’d heard Marley before, I’m pretty sure of that, but it was being combined with the visuals and it being played on Top Of The Pops that really made me sit up and take notice. I think this was 1975 so I was only 8 at the time and I’m convinced it was re-released at a later date but can’t find any record of it.

96 Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’

I, like many others, thought ‘What the fuck is this?’ when I saw it on TOTP and there followed much lampooning from comedians of the day, Kenny Everett and such like, but when you listened closely it changed, from what seemed like a one off novelty song to something with more substance and it grew on you until it, and subsequent releases, became part of the musical landscape at the time.

95 Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Hong Kong Garden’

Now here is a single that I actually owned and which I’d owned for some time before I even realised it was about a Chinese take-away, I had thought it all rather exotic until I listened properly.

94 The Undertones – ‘Teenage Kicks’

This has become a rather important song since it’s release, helped by John Peel naming it as his faviourite song, although I think he had many and just named this one to shut people up because they were always asking him. I liked it, Feargal Sharkey was rather odd looking and it had energy.

93 Dead Kennedys – California Über Alles

I actually found this track ( and the album it came from) in the early eighties, influenced by a group of Punks I hung out with then. Punk had long passed but these guys had yet to realise it and were trying to support a whole local punk scene that was dying on its arse to be honest. They were 4 years too late at least, but they seemed happy to be part of something.

92 The Jam – ‘David Watts’

At the time I had no idea this was a Kinks cover but I thought it was a great track, and either it was the songwriting or the performances or maybe both that caught my attention. At this point I had no idea what I liked, I’d listen to anything if I thought it was good while sticking strictly to a single genre if ever questioned (this was a sort of rule back then)

91 Free – ‘Alright Now’

This single was in our house and it was played to absolute death, partly because it was good, but also because we didn’t actually have that many records so there wasn’t much choice. This was a time for me, where the possibility of playing what I wanted to listen to when I wanted to listen to it was starting to become, in a small way, a reality. We had a record player, the old sort with the built in speaker that you could stack 10 singles on and they would drop one after the other and later, we had a stereo, with a turntable, radio and a cassette player. Our next door neighbour had an 8 track in his car, which was crazy, listening to something other than radio in the car? Wow! Then we had a cassette player in the car and it really was revolutionary.

90 Madness – ‘One Step Beyond’

This was huge at my comprehensive school with loads of people getting into the whole ska revival thing, and some just liking the songs but not adopting the fashion. I seem to remember liking ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ more later but this was my first hit of Madness.

89 The Specials – ‘A Message To You Rudy’

The song that really got me interested in The Specials was ‘Too much too young’ which was a 5 track E.P consisting of ‘Too Much Too Young’, ‘Guns of Navarone’, ‘Skinhead Symphony’, ‘Longshot Kick The Bucket’, ‘Liquidator’ and ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’, it was released in 1980 though so I can’t include it, ‘A Message To You Rudy’ is a great track though so that’s OK.

88 The Kinks – ‘Lola’

I’m pretty sure that we had this 45 in the house and it got played an awful lot for the same reason as before, not having that many records. I had no idea what it was about of course.

87 Stiff Little Fingers – ‘Nobody’s Hero’

There were a load of SLF tracks that I could have thrown in here, ‘Alternative Ulster’, ‘Suspect Device’ etc but this was probably my favourite. I didn’t have a copy but a friend did and it was another track repeatedly listened to in a bedroom.

86 The Undertones – ‘My Perfect Cousin’

I feel sure I had this single, although memory is hazy. It certainly had the piss taken out of it at school, mostly by my friend Dave who liked to push his nose to the side with one finger and sing it in a terrible Feargal Sharkey expression, in fact, he still does that nowadays.

85 Buzzcocks – ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’

Vague memories of this track as I wasn’t that aware of The Buzzcocks, but I liked it.

84 Joni Mitchell – ‘Big Yellow Taxi’

Another track that we had on 45 in the house, there were actually 3 singles that I played the most, which were this, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ by Charlie Rich and return To Sender’ by Elvis. All three would go on the record player, drop one by one and then I’d put them on again, and again, and again.

83 Althea & Donna – ‘Uptown Top Ranking’

This was a rather odd track at the time, at least for me as it was a genre that I rarely came into contact with, but one has to admit, it’s catchy as hell.

82 Jean Michel Jarre – ‘Oxygene part IV’

I’ve lost count of the number of times I heard this track, it seemed to be everywhere at one point. I seem to remember it even being the theme for a Science Show. I just looked it up, apparently it was alled ‘Where There’s Life’, which I remember now.

81 Chic – ‘Le Freak’

Well it’s a classic, and remains relevant with the latest Daft Punk release drawing heavily on the sound of Nile Rodgers, well, he actually plays on the Daft Punk album so you can’t really draw more heavily than that. This would be a track that I listened to without actually admitting I liked it, but how could I not like it?

80 Blondie – ‘Picture This’

Like so many teenage boys I had a planet sized crush on Debbie Harry, but she was more than just a look, and the band as a whole weren’t just bubblegum. I’ve harped on about just how good ‘Parallel Lines’ is before and I could easily include the whole damn thing, but will, instead, just pick a few tracks, this being one of my favourites.

79 The Jam – ‘The Eton Rifles’

Much like Boris Johnson I had little idea what this song was about, I thought it a song about war as I had never really listened to the lyrics closely. “The song recounts a street battle Paul Weller had read about in the newspapers concerning elements of a right-to-work march through Slough in 1978 breaking off to attack pupils from Eton who had been jeering the lunchtime marchers (hence “Hello, Hooray, an extremist scrape with the Eton Rifles”)”

78 The Stranglers – ‘Peaches’

There’s no official video for this so above is a live version. The single was a double A-side with pub rock song “Go Buddy Go” which was played on UK radio at the time and also on the band’s BBC TV Top of the Pops appearance because the sexual nature of the lyrics of “Peaches” caused the BBC to ban it. Hilarious really, but what a bass line.

77 Justin Hayward – Forever Autumn’

I was a huge fan of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds back around ’78 or ’79 and I’m pretty sure we had a copy, possibly on cassette. This was a track from it that made the charts sung by Moody Blues front man, Justin Hayward. I think it was preceded on the album by the voice of Richard Burton, which gave it a certain gravitas.

76 Supertramp – ‘The Logical Song’

It would appear there has been some litigation as the original video is not available. Another album that we had at some point, it was probably my brothers. I do remember that I listened to it a lot and I think we had it on vinyl. It has a good set of tracks on it, the ones I best remember being the title track, ‘Breakfast In America’, ‘Goodbye Stranger’ & ‘Take The Long Way Home’.

75 10cc – ‘Good Morning Judge’

Oh how I loved this album (Deceptive Bends) and played it to death, we had the cassette version and now I have the vinyl version which I picked up at a record fair for £3.50. It’s an undervalued piece of work I think and 10cc were pretty huge at one point but sort of faded away when they were expected to be bigger than Zeppelin.

74 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – ‘Blinded By The Light’

This is from the album ‘The Roaring Silence’ which you may recall is the one where the cover has an ear with a screaming mouth in it. I didn’t know at the time that it was written by Bruce Springsteen and thought it was their own song, which doesn’t actually matter, it’s a really good performance. It was another of my brothers albums I think but I have my own copy now, which, again, was £3.50 from a record fair.

73 XTC – ‘Making Plans For Nigel’

Nigel, what a dick, or that’s pretty much how I saw it when this single was out, also, his parents, dicks. The truth was that nobody was making pans for me and nobody seemed to want only what was best for me. Sad really.

72 The Who – ‘Who Are You’

I suppose I must have seen this on TV and heard it on the radio, I definitely didn’t own it, although I did later get ‘Face Dances’ which contains a good opening track and nothing else, I defy anybody to try and defend ‘Don’t let go the coat’. The song is one of those that always seems to have been there.

71 The Rolling Stones – ‘Fool To Cry’

This was on a tape that we had in the car and ‘Fool to cry’ was quite an appropriate truth at the time.

70 Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Jamming’

I completely fail to see how anybody could not love this song, and yes, it is how I like my doughnuts. It was all rather exotic at the time as I had never met anybody who wasn’t white at this point, it was another world.

69 Sparks – ‘No 1 Song In Heaven’

Now I’m pretty sure we had this in the house as a 12″ single, when it was number one. This was the first thing I ever heard by Sparks and it was very different, I think I was 12 at the time.

68 The Clash – ‘Tommy Gun’

A friend of mine had the 7″ of this and I feel reasonably sure that I somehow ended up with it at some point. What I do know is that the damn thing got played to death, and I’m still not bored of it.

67 Blondie – ‘Denis’

and on the 7th day God made Debbie Harry. Did I care that this was somebody else song? Nope. Do I care now? Nope. This was the first time I both saw and heard Blondie and I was, and still am, captivated.

66 Ram Jam – ‘Black Betty’

Didn’t everybody love this? It was only later that the guitar solo started sounding to me like the music from the Benny Hill Show during the inevitable chase sequence.

65 George Harrison – ‘My Sweet Lord’

I was 4 when this reached number 1, so I probably re-discovered it later, and when I did I played it until there was nothing left in the grooves to play. I remember being young and how some music felt rich and full and it just needed to be played time and again to keep experiencing the pure joy of it. I also remember that I thought the outro was too long.

64 Peter Gabriel – ‘Solsbury Hill’

1977, 10 years old, ‘Grab your things I’ve come to take you home’ were lyrics I found very pertinent.

63 Van Halen – ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’

Their debut album was, and still is, just brilliant. I never saw this video at the time as it wasn’t played anywhere that I had access to. All I knew was what was on the album cover, which all seemed very glamorous.

62 Gary Numan – ‘Cars’

Carefour, the first big supermarket in Britain, I was at one in Caerphilly and we bought the album there, although I think I wanted ‘Slow Train Coming’ by Bob Dylan, but this  was all very futuristic. I still listen to it today and for me, it really hasn’t aged a moment.

61 Sex Pistols – ‘Pretty Vacant’

This was in my singles collection and was played a hell of a lot. I’ll talk later about exactly what happened to my 7″ singles, but this was definitely one of my favorites, and I loved the cover as well!2654066

60 Elvis Costello – ‘Oliver’s Army’

I listened to this only this morning in an Apple playlist ‘Hits of 1979’ which also contains things like ‘Peaches & Herb’ & ‘Abba’ with ‘Chiquitita’, which highlights the wide variety of different genres that used to populate the singles charts back then.

59 The Ruts – ‘Babylons Burning’

I actually have no idea why I liked this as much as I did. I actually bought a Ruts best of CD just for this track and was somewhat disappointed when I played it (some 20 years after it was originally released) because it wasn’t as I remembered it. It’s here anyway because I know I loved it at the time.

58 Genesis – ‘Follow You Follow Me’

From the album ‘and then there were three’, which followed the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett, it was about the first proper hit that Genesis ever had and seeing them on TV was a real rarity until this point. Clearly when it came to picking a musical clan to hang my flag to, I went for the several flags option, it was a good single though, and album.

57 Squeeze – ‘Up The Junction’

Difford & Tilbrook wrote some really fabulous songs, but at the point this hit the charts it felt a little bit like a novelty single. Yes it spoke of teenage pregnancy and was hardly bubblegum, but nobody new then what the band was going to be and how good their future output would be. There was also ‘Cool For Cats’ which had a siniliar vibe, both reached number 2 in the UK charts, but probably my favourite track is coming up in a while.

56 The Police – Can’t Stand Losing You’

I had this in Blue vinyl, loved that, loved the cover and loved the song, including the B Side, ‘Dead End Job’. While many might pick ‘Reggatta de Blanc’ as their faviourite album, it will always be ‘Outlandos d’Amour’ for me, there’s only one bad song on it, which is ‘Sally’, it’s shit. I guess this is because, as I remember it, we were buying the singles before the album came out, with Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing You and So Loneley having originally been released in 1977, the album came out in 78 and the first two singles were re-issued.
the_police_cant2bstand2blosing2byou2b-2bblue2bvinyl2b2b2bsleeve-12785

55 David Dundas – ‘Jeans On’

I was 9, it was 1976 and I loved this and I seem to recall it was used to advertise Brutas Jeans, which possibly don’t exist as a company anymore. It is a pretty good song actually, I think I still love it. I’m sure I had a copy and it the cover was tied in with the advert, I’m going to look for it now……..I didn’t find it, but just because the internet doesn’t have it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

54 Elton John – ‘Rocket Man’

I didn’t really appreciate this at all initially, until my brother and his friend recorded an instrumental version of it on a Revox Reel to Reel that I thought sounded really good, so I gave the original more attention and, despite not being a huge Elton John fan, particularly his later work, I do really like this one.

53 Ian Dury & the Blockheads – ‘Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)’

A list of things Ian Dury liked, what could be simpler? And what a song:

“Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats
18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats
A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome, we can spare it – yellow socks.”

My mate Dave had the lyrics on his wall, it’s always good to have happy things on the wall.

52 Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Obviously this was massive, it was everywhere and it, possibly, marketdthe beginning of the music video era, or at least gave it a big leg up. It isn’t my faviourite track by Queen as I have always felt, with some justification, that they had 3 unfinished songs and just stuck them together, but it does seem to work.

51 The Stranglers – ‘No More Heroes’

The stranglers released 4 singles in 1977 and they were all brilliant, Rattus Norvegicus is a brilliant album, but this wasn’t from that,it was from the next album, it has Leon Trotsky, Lenny Bruce, William Shakespeare and Sancho Panza mentioned. which you did’t tend to get in most singles of the time, and the keyboard riff is just wonderful. This is the track that Elastica’s ‘Waking Up’ was taken to court for being overly influenced by.

50 Elvis Presley – ‘Way Down’

I do believe that had Elvis not died this track would probably have sunk without making much of an impact, maybe appearing at number 40 in the charts for a week and then it’s gone, however, it went to number 1. From my perspective it was deserved regardless of increased sales due to his passing. I had been an Elvis fan since I was a small kid, rather proud of knowing all the words to ‘Return To Sender’, even though I actually didn’t, I just thought I did.

49 The Clash – ‘London Calling’

The best this track did in the charts was number 11 back in ’79 when it was released but that really didn’t matter as that was enough to cause it to still be around today and widely considered as a classic, because it bloody well is.

48 Bob Dylan – ‘Stuck inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again’

I bought this in a newsagents as a 45″, I can’t remember what the b-side was (I just looked it up, it was called ‘Rita May’ and I don’t remember it at all). This got played a little bit at the time and it was much later that I actually started to like it. The version I bought was released in 1977.

47 Nick Lowe – ‘I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass’

I remember the ‘Live Stiffs Tour’ and I think Lowe was on it with Ian Dury and maybe Elvis Costello, so I paid attention tot his and really rather liked it. I do have the 7″ of this but not in a picture sleeve.

46 ELO – ‘Mr Blue Sky’

I could and possibly should have picked more ELO songs, but this was THE ONE, above all others that I liked. I could include any of the following, “Livin’ Thing”, “Telephone Line”, “Turn to Stone”, “Wild West Hero”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, “It’s Over”, “Shine a Little Love”, “The Diary of Horace Wimp”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Confusion” or “Last Train to London”, they had a lot of hits in the 70’s and I loved all of these.

45 Blondie – ‘Hanging On The Telephone’

‘I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall, If you don’t answer, I’ll just ring it off the wall’ Another Blondie hit that turned out to not be their own song, but I don’t care, I heard this version first and they sort of own it.

44 Deep Purple – ‘Smoke On The Water’

Oddly enough I don’t actually like this song that much, not any more anyway. This will be the first time I’ve listened to it in years. It was great for the long haired denim clad kid I once was, but two pf those things are no longer true so it just doesn’t fit. At the time of course, the riff was so easy to play, everybody did, including me. It made me feel like a proper guitarist.

43 The Cure – ‘A Forest’

At the same newsagent I bought the Dylan single ‘Stuck inside of mobile….” I bought this, I think they may have been ex-jukebox singles as some were in picture sleeves, some weren’t, and there was a series of singles which I think were called ‘Old Gold’, there were a few of them, so a mish mash really. When I got this home and played it I found it all rather creepy, because it was, and still is.

42 T. Rex – ‘Get It On’

I have a really vague memory of watching the Marc Bolan TV show, I’ve seen it on youtube since but I’m sure that I saw it broadcast live. I also once decorated an entire apartment on my own while listening to Marc Bolan greatest hits on cassette, it was the only cassette I had with me at the time and it took me a week to decorate, so the songs are ingrained in my brain now. I probably should have chosen 20th Century Boy.

41 The Jam – ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’

This is still a favourite of mine, it is all rather British and the picture it paints is so vivid. “”Hey boy” they shout, “have you got any money?”
And I said, “I’ve a little money and a take-away curry
I’m on my way home to my wife.”

40 The Knack – ‘My Sharona’

Oh how Kurt Cobain and I loved The Knack, although Kurt probably loved them more than me as I still really only know this one song, but what a song!

39 Bee Gees – ‘Stayin’ Alive’

1977 and Saturday Night Fever was everywhere, although I really only saw clips of it in music videos as I was only 11 and wasn’t allowed in to the cinema to see it. This added some mystery to the whole thing and of course, John Travolta was the coolest cat in the world then. The follow up movie, well, he was then the least cool cat on the planet.

38 Sex Pistols – ‘Anarchy In The UK’

John Lydon is a fairly inflammatory character, as evidenced by this slice of rebellion, which, in it’s day, really was quite a revelation. It was an angry, anti-establishment rant, and though I probably didn’t understand it in full at the time, I do think it managed to, in a diluted fashion, make me distrustful of large corporations and governments in general, along with George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

37 Public Image Limited – ‘Death Disco’

I thought this was a pile of shit after seeing it performed on Top of the Pops, it was a million miles away from the debut single and absolutely not connecting in any way with what I thought of as listenable music, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. I had a copy of the 7″ from somewhere, it may have been somebody else’s even and it was a wholly different listen to the TOTP performance. I loved it.

36 Squeeze – ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’

I’m not absolutely sure when I started liking this, it wasn’t immediately, but it wasn’t recently either, so at some point in the last 30 something years I started looking back on it fondly and was able to appreciate the quality of the song writing.

35 The Police – ‘Roxanne’

I was a huge fan of the Police, the first two albums at least, they lost me with Zenyatta Mondatta, specifically “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”, but this, well this was something else. I would have been 11 or 12 when I first heard it and and loved everything about it, even the single cover, there was, at the time, just something quite captivating about the sound.

34 Dave Edmunds – ‘Girls Talk’

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this, I just liked it, along with Nick Lowe, I think they were on the same label or something.

33 The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

Everybody knows this one don’t they? It was a huge number 1 of course and it had an interesting, although macabre, back story. They had a two year run of hits from 1977 to 1979 but everything after that was a bit crap I thought. I’d be surprised if many people could name any single from 1980 onwards. This though, well, it was pretty damn good.

32 Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’

This seemed, to me, to be the first rock/metal (or whatever) track that had any success as a single, and it was so damn heavy in comparison with everything else that was around at the time. Also, I could just about play it on guitar, so that was a plus.

31 Gerry Rafferty – ‘Baker Street’

This was special, and I still think it is. Great songwriting, instrumentation and delivery, it really deserved to be as massive as it was. It’s instantly recognisable and that saxophone, and the guitar sole, just brilliant. It was always worth waiting through the chart run down to get to this at number one. The album, ‘City to City’ is pretty good as well.

30 The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star’

I have a tale to tell of this song. So a mate of mine and I bumped into a guy who was a year older than us, in the park, and got talking. He told us he had a load of singles and we went over to his place to listen to some of them, the first of which was ‘Video killed the radio star’, we then listened to a few more and while doing so his younger brother came in, went to the corner of the room, dropped his trousers, took a shit on the carpet, and left the room. Nothing was said, absolutely nothing, so we made some excuse about having to be somewhere and left. Never went back.

29 Dr. Feelgood – ‘Milk & Alcohol’

Pub Rock done exactly right. I’m so glad I remembered this one. Things were confused from a genre perspective at the time, not that it really mattered, but this sort of fell in with punk somehow, at least in my mind it did.

28 Kraftwerk – ‘The Model’

It was so different both in sound and presentation, I seem to recall not knowing if they were even a group or not or whether it was all created by a computer (which were highly mystical things back then). I’m still listening to it all these years later and it still somehow feels futuristic.

27 BA Robertson – ‘Bang Bang’

Another single I had, I thought it the greatest thing ever at the time and ate up all Robertson related information from TV and magazines. He turned out to be pretty much a one hit wonder, I think there was also ‘Kool in a Kaftan’ or something like that. My interest faded quickly.

26 Joe Jackson – ‘Is she really going out with him’

Jackson didn’t really sit well in the genres of the time, it was sort of New Wave but not quite, however, he did put out some great songs and I still listen to this now and again having bought the vinyl, another £3.50 album at a record fair.

25 David Bowie – ‘Life On Mars?’

So different, so special. I hadn’t exactly forgotten about this track but it was revived for me by the TV series of the same name. It really is incredibly moving despite seemingly being complete gibberish.

24 AC/DC – ‘Highway To Hell’

It was this or ‘whole lotta Rosie’.

23 Tubeway Army – ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’

That this still sounds fresh to me even today is testament to the impact it had when it was originally released. There has been much talk about Numan appropriating this or that from various places, but nobody did this like he did this. He’s still going strong and still releasing good music.

22 Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Christine’

She is not playing that guitar. I was quite the fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and almost went for ‘The Staircase Mystery’ but this one resonated with me a bit more I think, probabaly becasue I like the line “Christine, the strawberry girl,
Christine, banana split lady” and no, I have no idea why.

21 M – ‘Pop Muzik’

This popped up the other day in a documentary about Electronic Music, apparently it was all originally written on guitar. It still pops up on Radio 6 now and again and was just a damn fine single.

20 The Specials – ‘Gangsters’

Ska, Pop, Punk, it’s all in there and they are the best band ever to come out of Coventry. I had a drink in the same bar they were in once, in Coventry, I never said hello, though I wish I had. Terry Hall wasn’t there.

19 Queen – ‘We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You’

I had a chopper bike and a little tape recorded. I would ride up and down the street with the tape player strapped tot he handlebars playing a cassette of ‘News Of The World’, which contained both of these tracks almost as one. It’s probably still my favourite Queen album.

18 Ian Dury – ‘Hit Me With Your Rythm Stick’

Genius, pure and simple. I have loved it since the first moment I heard it and was delighted when I saw him live and he didn’t turn his back on his hits. “In the deserts of Sudan/ And the gardens of Japan/ From Milan to Yucatan/ Every woman every man”, hearing those opening lyrics is still a joy, and it has a really bloody good guitar solo.

17 Donna Summer – ‘I Feel Love’

It’s Giorgio Moroder and it’s infectious. This did so much for shaping the music that was to come and is arguably the best Disco song ever created.

16 Stealers Wheel – ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’

I didn’t hear the original first, I heard a version by Denis Waterman on his 1976 album ‘Down Wind Of Angels’ that belonged to my mum. Yes, the Denis Waterman who “wrote the theme music, sang the theme music”. This caused me to find the original, which is far superior, and included Gerry Rafferty again.

15 Stevie Wonder – ‘Superstition’

I think it was the keyboard part that really got me on this, it sounds like a funky bass. I seem to remember that Wonder actually played all the instruments on this, great song, very talented bloke.

14 Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’

Despite the double negative in the lyrics, “we don’t need no education”, it is a tiny bit of genius. I suspect Roger Waters knew all about the double negative and it is meant ironically. As I was at school at the time it resonated and was not at odds with the punk and new wave songs that were also around at the time. Not to me anyway.

13 Terry Jacks – ‘Seasons In The Sun’

This is just one of those that was on the radio all the time, possibly during a ridiculously long and hot summer, and I’m stuck with it in the memory bank.

12 John Lennon – ‘Imagine’

Although I think it is overrated as a song, that doesn’t mean I think it is bad, I just don’t think it is the greatest song ever written, which is a title it has claimed a few times.

11 Fleetwood Mac = Tusk

I wanted the album that this came from so badly, but it was a double, and it cost more, and I had no money whatsoever to buy it. This track made the whole thing seem very mysterious and I just wanted to hear the rest of it to find out what was going on.

10 Wings – ‘Band On The Run’

I was very into this at the time but it’s interesting now to see the celebrities that were on the album cover, many haven’t really endured and I doubt that most young folk would know who they all were. Other than the band they were James Coburn, John Conteh, Clement Freud, Kenny Lynch, Christopher Lee & Michael Parkinson.

9 Sex Pistols – ‘God Save The Queen’

Am I remembering right but didn’t this get to number 1 in the charts but was never officially acknowledged as such. Maybe there were fixing allegations. I know BBC radio wouldn’t play it. Understandable at the time really but it just made more people buy it. The cover was amazing, I definitely remember having a copy of this one.

8 The Motors – ‘Airport’

Another from when music was accessible mostly via the radio, we were at the mercy of the BBC. It was a cross over period where I started defining what I did and didn’t like and began to see that being told what is good and what isn’t was limiting, and I didn’t always agree of course.

7 Public Image Ltd – ‘Public Image’

I still think this is one of the greatest 45’s ever released, though few would probably agree with me, but I remember being in Woolworths and picking it up. It had a fake newspaper cover and, again, I really wanted to buy it, but couldn’t. I have followed P.I.L ever since and have every album on vinyl nowadays. Sometimes bands just connect with the listener, there is no explaining it really.

6 Blondie – ‘Heart Of Glass’

I care not for the ‘Sold Out’ accusations that were thrown around at the time, this is a brilliant single taken from a brilliant album and just served to deepen further my crush on Debbie Harry.

5 Lindisfarne – Run For Home

I appropriated a cassette from my Dad of Lindisfarne Live and fell asleep listening to it every night for years, so they have a special place in my memory. This wasn’t on the live album, but it is my favourite track they released as a single.

4 David Bowie – ‘Ashes to Ashes’

What the hell is this? Oh my god this is amazing, look at the visuals – were some of the things I may have said when this was out. In hindsight the video is a bit crap, but not at the time, it was all rather groundbreaking. It was an extraordinary single for a singularly extraordinary artist.

3 The Clash – ‘London Calling’

Well it’s the Clash, and it is London Calling and it had to be here somewhere. There are many many songs I’ve left out that could easily have made up another 100, but not this one, the song along with the video, well, it’s bloody iconic.

2 Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi

Yeah, I know, Plastic indeed, but at the time I loved it and still do to some degree, it is catchy as hell, and no, I’ve no idea what it is about. It was this or ‘Gordon Is A Moron’ by Jilted John

1 City Boy – 5709

I have been singing this in my head for about 35 years off and on and have never been able to remember who it was by, I had to look it up for this. It isn’t number 1, these aren’t ranked. I’m not even sure if this was much of a hit but I must have heard it a lot at some point for it to stick in my brain for so long.

Here are all of them in a playlist, just in case anybody wanted to play them all at once, I can’t imagine why anybody would except me, it is the soundtrack to my childhood I guess ater all:

So what happened to all my records? I moved from Didcot to Leamington Spa when I was 16 and I gave everty single one of them away, for free. What a fucking idiot.

Return to work

After 4 months working from home I returned to work for a day on Thursday for the first time. My office was empty and it was a peaceful and productive work day. While there I collected the four albums that had arrived from Rough Trade while I had been away. The album selections are unknown to me so I find out what they are as I open them. As things stand I’ve had a quick listen to all of them and I would say at this point that I really like one of them, the other three I’m not sure about at all, I know I wouldn’t have bought them if I was browsing at a store or online, but this is the music discovery aspect of the monthly subscription to Rough Trade.

Briefly, these are the 4 albums I received.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

Ben Lukas Boysen – Mirage

This was the one I liked, the others may well grow on me, we’ll see.

Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Over a whatsapp video call, David showed me a new CD he had bought, I nodded politely as though I recognised the band and knew all about them and we moved on to the next one of three. The album was Black Pumas by Black Pumas and I thought little more of it until the very next day I somehow found myself in a record store for the first time in months since the lockdown started. I didn’t really have anything in mind to buy and was browsing around when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of the album. I bought it, unheard, on a sort of recommendation by David. I think if I had gone to the store with a purpose, looking for something specific, I probably wouldn’t have, but apart from the recommendation it was on a nice splatter vinyl and came with a bonus CD, also it wasn’t particularly expensive.

I’ve played it several times since then and really do rather like it. If you haven’t heard them yet here is their track ‘Colours’ (which I’ve spelt correctly) for you to have a listen to before I go on:

So who are they? They are singer Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada who got together in 2017 and released their debut album, Black Pumas, on June 21, 2019. They performed at South by Southwest in 2019 and won a best new band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. On November 20, 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That’s quite a start.

Black Pumas performed “Colors” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! following their network TV debut on CBS This Morning along with a taping on season 45 of Austin City Limits. The band’s single “Colors” later reached number one on AAA radio. The single has been streamed over 60 million times across all platforms. Meanwhile, the official live video of “Colors” has been viewed over 25 million times on YouTube. Despite all this, nobody has pointed out that Colours has a U in it.

In their hometown of Austin, Texas, Black Pumas became the first band to sell out four consecutive shows at Stubbs, one of the city’s live venues, and on May 7, 2020, mayor Steve Adler proclaimed the date as Black Pumas Day.

The whole album is consistently good and doesn’t step outside it’s aesthtic with the production staying true troughout to a sort of modern 70’s feel that has been quite popular of late.

This is roughly what the vinyl looks like, not my picture but my copy is pretty similar:

Tracklist

A1Black Moon Rising
A2Colors
A3Know You Better
A4Fire
A5OCT 33
B1Stay Gold
B2Old Man
B3Confines
B4Touch The Sky
B5Sweet Conversations
Bonus CD
CD-1Black Moon Rising
CD-2Colors
CD-3Fire
CD-4Eleanor Rigby

I’ve yet to listen to the bonus CD, I’m not sure if they are demos or live or something else. I just checked, it’s a live session. SO that’s something to look forward to.

Manuel Göttsching ‎– Inventions For Electric Guitar

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.

1.“Echo Waves”17:45
2.“Quasarsphere”6:34
3.“Pluralis”21:36

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.

Verian Thomas – Firefly Dance – From the album ‘Massive’

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.

1959 is almost complete

I now have 28 of the 30 albums from my https://thirtythreeandathird.blog/2019/05/11/best-albums-of-1959/ list. The final two are proving irksome, one due to cost and the other due to availability, but I’ll get there eventually.

Darkstar – Foam Island

Somebody bought this album back around 2015 and wasn’t very pleased with it as I found it in a used records bin still in its shrink wrap for £7.00. As it was released by Warp records and I was sure I’d heard some of their tracks somewhere in the past and don’t remember hating them, I bought it. Pretty glad I did as I really do like it. I’m very fond of spoken word interludes in music, the sort of thing Public Service Broadcasting do for instance, and this has an element of that although more between tracks rather than as an integral part of them, they have a proper sense of not being scripted though, which matters. There’s also some words from former British PM David Cameron, the man so self absobed in his own belief of his invincibility that he never considered that the referendum could possibly not go the way he expected, and when it did, he ran away and left everybody else to deal with it.

Darkstar are James Young and Aiden Whalley (there was a third member at one point, James Buttery) who began making music together in London around 2007 and originally self released their records. ‘Foam Island is their third studio album which was released on 25 September (UK) and 2 October (ROW) via Warp Records. The album’s main themes were informed by social change in the UK and in particular how this is affecting the youth of today post UK Conservative Party re-election. Much of the spoken word included on the album is as a result of the duo travelling to Huddersfield in order to talk to and capture the thoughts and aspirations of the Northern youth of England.

Tracklist
A1 Basic Things
A2 Inherent In The Fibre
A3 Stoke The Fire
A4 Cuts
A5 Go Natural
A6 A Different Kind Of Struggle
A7 Pin Secure
B1 Through The Motions
B2 Tilly’s Theme
B3 Foam Island
B4 Javan’s Call
B5 Days Burn Blue

For me it was a good find as it is another of those bands that I’ve seen or heard a small amount of but never really investigated, now there are a few more albums out there that I can discover and if there’s one thing I really like, it’s finding new things to listen to. There’s an interesting summation to the album review in Crack magazine, which I think is probabaly true:

Foam Island is not the zeitgeist-defining masterpiece that something as ambitious and politically engaged as this could have been. There are moments when it seems to lose focus; minutes that pass without note. But Darkstar sound comfortable with themselves, and their uneasy equilibrium. You won’t hear another album like it this year, and that alone is a reason to grimly raise a glass and be thankful for a band with a disdain for smiling sweetly, and who remain on the outside looking in.

It’s probabaly fair enough, but sometimes it is just a question of whether you like something or not, and I like it.

Hekla ‎– Á

Who the hell is Hekla Magnúsdóttir? Well, she plays the theramin, and who doesn’t love the theramin?………………………. Don’t answer that.

If you had to categorise her debut release you might very well go for something like ‘Icelandic ambient’, but no, she doesn’t really fit in that, she produces rather haunting electronica overlayed with a delicate voice, haunting even. It’s a strange listen and and times there is a creepiness about it but there is also great beauty. For me, one of the key indicators of whether this album is any good or not is whether I’m constantly thinking “Teramin, Theramin, Theramin” all the time as I’m listening to it, and I don’t. Some of the sounds and transitions between notes are unusual but she plays the instrument with such skill that there is no suggestion that there is anything gimmicky here. Hekla is an extremely skilled musician who can make her instrument bend to her will.

Obvioulsy I’ve made some assumptions here, so just in case, here is a quick rundown on what a theramin is:

The theremin (/ˈθɛrəmɪn/; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after its inventor, Léon Theremin (Лев Термен), who patented the device in 1928.

The instrument’s controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.

The sound of the instrument is often associated with eerie situations. Thus, the theremin has been used in movie soundtracks such as Miklós Rózsa’s Spellbound and The Lost Weekend, Bernard Herrmann’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Justin Hurwitz’s First Man, as well as in theme songs for television shows such as the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. The theremin is also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music), and in popular music genres such as rock.

If you wanted to buy one you can pay as little as £40 but the go to instrument appears to be by Moog and it is about £300.

I bought the album a few weeks ago, it was discounted to about £11 I think from £20 ish and this is the thought process that made me decide to buy it:

It’s quite cheap, oh Icelandic, Theramin! It will be terrible or brilliant. I’ll get it.

Tracklist

Hatur4:43
Í Hring4:22
Muddle4:29
Heyr Himna Smiður1:52
Arms4:19
Ekki Er Allt Gull Sem Glóir3:25
A Way4:13
Í Felum2:42
Slit2:40
Stondum4:30

Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me

Another 1959 record from the best of joins the shelves, and its Sinatra, so of course it’s good. I still think the cover photo is a bit creepy though.

Come Dance with Me! is Frank Sinatra’s twenty-first studio album. This was Sinatra’s second recording with arranger Billy May, and it’s a great orchestra. The album reached #2 on the Pop charts and stayed in the chart for 140 weeks, apparently it is Sinatra’s most successful album but I’m not sure on what that is measured, still, it did well.

At the Grammy Awards of 1960, Come Dance With Me! took three awards: the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, and the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement. The second of which was given to Frank Sinatra and the third was to Billy May.

As one can gather from the title the album is a collection of songs related in some way to dancing, or as it says on the back of the sleeve “Vocals that dance” which is very late 50’s.

A1Come Dance With Me
A2Something’s Gotta Give
A3Just In Time
A4Dancing In The Dark
A5Too Close For Comfort
A6I Could Have Danced All Night
B1Saturday Night
B2Day In, Day Out
B3Cheek To Cheek
B4Baubles, Bangles And Beads
B5The Song Is You
B6The Last Dance

Julie London – London By Night

Another of the best albums of 1959 arrived this week, the wittily titled ‘London By Night’ by Julie London. While compiling the best of list for 1959 I listened to a load of albums on Spotify through noise cancelling headphones but playing the actual record is a much better listening experience. Having the sound vibrate the air molecules in the room, filling it up, bouncing off walls and filling my ears from multiple directions just feels so much better. Added to this the fact that I wasn’t doing something else while listening, just siting and listening, also helps to create a better listening experience.

My copy is a 1963 repress so not really very long after it was originally released and the entire process of recording, mixing and pressing would still have been analogue. Though my ears are not as good as they used to be, I,m pretty confident I can hear the difference. The sound is rich and full and it feels like it has a warmth about it which is often lacking when digital came along. This is not a scientific thing, I can’t really prove it one way or the other, it just feels like that to me.

On listening more closely to the songs they are a piece of social history and at times indicative of the place of women in the late 50’s. while sitting and listening to the lyrics rather than letting them wash over me I was struck by these words from “Just the way I am”:

If perhaps I’d been a little distant
If I tried to play a little hard to get
Do you think you might have fallen in love?If I’d been a trifle, inconsistent
If I hadn’t let you light each cigarette
Do you think you might have fallen in love?And if I’d wonder the way you like, him
Would I’ve been more appealing?
Had my chin been stronger
Had my kisses lasted longer
Would I’ve inspired that I adore her feeling
If I’d been little more, attractive
Had my power had not been so, overactive
Would you have not held that nose
Like some meek, sweet adolescent lad?
What a fool I was to ever believe
That someday you could love me,
Just, the way, I am

Written by a man, Bobby Troup, and sung by a woman. It is possible to read different things into the lyrics but it gives me the sense of things being entirely the woman’s fault. I decided to check if Bobby Troup was actually a man, and he was, he was also the writer of “Route 66”. When I looked up his songwriting credits I discovered this song was not originally sung by Julie London (although some of his songs were), but by June Christy 4 years prior, who I’ve never heard of but she has a nice voice.

Much of the above is just rambling, sorry, also I discovered Bobby Troup was the husband of Julie London.

Let me give you a special prize for staying with me this far. When I buy a used record I always hope for an inner sleeve that advertises other records as this was a sort of old timey music discovery route. Unfortunately this album had a plain white sleeve, however, I just discovered something inside the cover!

I don’t remember seeing an insert like this before, and it has the Peggy Lee/George Shearing album that is also in the top 30. I knew you’d be excited. I listened to tracks form some of the other albums by people I’d never heard of, like The Dinning Sisters, Glen Gray, Peters Sisters, Ray Anthony, didn’t like it. Harry James was ok, Sinatra, Garland, Cole and Kitt I already know, which just left Nelson Riddle, who I knew was often Sinatras band, so I gave that a listen, the band is great but I couldn’t listen to a whole album of songs that normally have vocals but are played as instrumentals.

I really should say a little more about who Julie London was, so here is the start of her wiki entry:

Julie London (born Nancy Gayle Peck; September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American singer and actress, whose career spanned more than 40 years. Born in Santa Rosa, California to vaudevillian parents, London was discovered while working as an elevator operator in downtown Los Angeles, and began her career as an actress. London’s 35-year acting career began in film in 1944, and included roles as the female lead in numerous Westerns, co-starring with Rock Hudson in The Fat Man (1951), with Robert Taylor and John Cassavetes in Saddle the Wind (1958), and opposite Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959).

In the mid-1950s, she signed a recording contract with the newly established Liberty Records, and released a total of 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s, with her signature song being “Cry Me a River”, which she introduced in 1955. London was noted by critics for her husky, smoky voice and languid vocal style. She released her final studio album in 1969, but achieved continuing success playing the female starring role of Nurse Dixie McCall, in the television series Emergency! (1972–1979), in which she appeared opposite her real-life husband, Bobby Troup. The show was produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb.

A shy and introverted woman, London rarely granted interviews, and spent the remainder of her life out of the public sphere. In 1995, she suffered a stroke, which left her with permanent health problems, and died five years later of a heart attack.

Track List

1Well, SirBobby Troup, John Lehmann3:09
2That’s for MeRichard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II2:26
3Mad About the BoyNoël Coward2:11
4In the Middle of a KissSam Coslow2:19
5Just the Way I AmBobby Troup2:43
6My Man’s Gone NowGeorge and Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward3:50
7Something I Dreamed Last NightSammy Fain, Jack Yellen, Herbert Magidson2:36
8Pousse CafeNigel Mullaney, J. P. Jowett, Chris Foster2:53
9Nobody’s HeartRichard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart2:20
10The Exciting LifeEarl Hagen, Hubert Spencer2:31
11That Old FeelingSammy Fain, Lew Brown2:29
12Cloudy MorningMarvin Fisher, Joseph McCarthy2:13

And now for your listening and viewing pleasure, The Julie London Show from 1964:

Nérija ‎– Blume

The album for August I received today (actually 2 days ago now) from my Rough Trade Subscription is Blume by Nérija. I’m on my fourth listen and I absolutely bloody love it.

To my thoroughly untrained ear I hear a strong, resounding in fact, echo from the days of the Jazz greats intermingled with everything that has happened since then, with occasional seventies TV themes and a sprinkling of Afrobeat. It is a delicious cocktail.

Nérija were winners of the Jazz Newcomer Parliamentary Jazz Award 2017 and Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year 2016 nominees, Nerija are are a collective of London-based musicians playing exciting and original music inspired by Jazz, Hip Hop, Afrobeat and South African Township. Featuring a line-up truly representative of the up-coming London jazz scene, the seven-piece band features rising players such as tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia (Polar Bear, Outlook Orchestra, Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award Winner), trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey (KANO, Little Simz, KOKOROKO) and guitarist Shirley Tetteh (Maisha, Gary Crosby’s Groundation).

After the release of an EP in 2016, their eclectic repertoire has appealed to the UK jazz scene as well as giving them a presence at rap and pop-focused festivals. They have toured across Europe and the UK and performed alongside top UK jazz musicians such as Nathaniel Facey of Empirical, pianist Zoe Rahman, and supporting Jazz Jamaica at the renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Recently signed to Domino records and having performed at Ronnie Scott’s, the Barbican and jazz fetivals in the UK and Europe, Nérija are truly part of the buzz.

SXSW Band Write UP

My copy is three sided orange vinyl with the fourth side etched, which is sort of nice as it means it hasn’t had the crap compressed out of it to get it onto 2 sides, even though etched sides are a little pointless, it’s better than blank I guess. Oh and it’s limited to 1200 copies.

First Ever Record

I would very much have liked to have bought a really cool first record, but I didn’t, at least not from most people’s point of view. I can’t remember exactly what year I bought my first record, a 45, but I think I would have been 6 or 7 years old, so somewhere around 1973-4. The reason I was thinking about this recently is because I stumbled across a video from 1980 which very briefly has a shot of the Woolworths in Aberdare, South Wales, where I bought the record.

My Dad, my brother and I went to the shop and my brother also bought a record I think but I don’t remember what it was, but I remember well what I bought. The shop is in the video below, but I did a screen shot underneath in case you can’t be bothered to watch it.

I had a search for the record and found some pictures of the cover, which was very special to me at the time. Here is the front cover:

I had this record hanging around for years before, at some point, I threw it away, but the thing that made it extra special was the back cover, which allowed me to colour in the Diddymen, and colour them in I did, really badly, but still, it was a fun feature at the time.

I don’t expect that many people to remember the Diddymen, or even have ever known about them, but because I know that by now you are most probably very excited about the above, I will share some history. The Diddymen are the inhabitants of the small village of Knottyash. Where they work the Jam Butty Mines, The Snuff Quaries, the Broken Biscuit Repair Works, The Treacle Wells and the Moggy Ranch. Nigel Ponsonby Smallpiece is the Owner of the Jam Butty mines and Dickie Mint is the foreman. The other Diddymen were Mick The Marmalizer; Wee Hamish McDiddy; Harry Cott; Sid Short; Weany Wally; Little Evan.

They were a creation of Ken Dodd and had a series on TV starting in the 60’s and running all the way through until 1977. In my young mind Knottyash was quite near me, just across the valley near Mountain Ash and anytime we went that way in the car I always had one eye open for a road sign.

Quite poignant to me about all this is that my late father used to have a nickname for me, which was Dickie Mint, I’m not entirely sure why, but he would still call me it occasionally when I was approaching 50 years old. I’d forgotten it was one of the Diddymen.

And now, what you have all been waiting for, the actual song, sorry to have kept you waiting so long:

Love it? Yeah, of course you do, what’s not to love?

Milano – Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts

At the same time I bought this incredibly cheaply: Wild – Streets Of Laredo, I also picked up Milano by Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts cheaply. It was on sale for £8 and I took a chance on it at that price. I did try and have a quick listen on Spotify but there was no data reception so I just got it anyway.

Line Of Best Fit – Review

Luppi draws his inspiration from another city that’s played an important part in his life; the achingly cool buzz of high-fashion 80s Milan. MILANO combines the yin and yang of slacker punks Parquet Courts and brash energy of Karen O. It seems an incompatible pairing, however Parquet’s slurring discordance and O’s frenetic purr make for an intriguing proposition.

O only appears on half of the album, and in her absence the Parquet-only tracks are wired with all the nervy DIY hallmarks that have made their own albums so thrilling. “Mount Napoleon” is off-kilter and downtuned with a laxity and jittery undertone that recalls Silver Jews or Pavement, while on opener “Soul and Cigarette”, Luppi intersperses keys that twinkle through the ramshackle, buzzsaw guitars like lights in glitzy department store windows.

The album really shines though when O steps up to the mic and accordingly, Parquet Courts spike up their guitars to complement her kittenish exuberance. Jagged riffs thrust, needle and stab on “Talisa” and “Flush”, while O’s vocals strut, prowl and drip with unapologetic sexuality. “Touch yourself!” she orders brattishly on “The Golden Ones”, later breathlessly asking “do you like it when I dance for you like this?” on “Pretty Prizes” amid ragged Magazine-esque riffs.

On paper MILANO should be a mess, but it’s a resounding triumph. Luppi has crafted a fast-paced and fashionable record which taps into the lifeblood of his beloved Milan; seductive, hedonistic and super stylish.

So in the spirit of supreme lazyness I agree with all of the above, certainly about Karen O who fits in really well on the tracks which she guests on.

I’ve listened to the album several times now and it’s a grower for certain, mostly because I’ve become used to Daniele Luppi and his voice now.

Odetta – My Eyes Have Seen

So my quest to find copies of every album in my Best Albums of 1959 continues with a copy of My Eyes Have Seen by Odetta. I had thought this one was going to be more difficult to find than it eventually was, all the copies seemed to be in the U.S but one popped up for £4 last week and I jumped on it, so now it is in my possession and another ticked off the list. I currently have 19 of the 30 in the list, so well on the way to finding them all.

So, Odetta, this was her fourth album release and, as far as I can see, it has only been re-released once since 1959 on vinyl, back in 1973 in Italy for some reason. As far as I can tell my copy is from 1959, it’s in OK shape but far from perfect, as long as it plays OK that’s fine though.

Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008), known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, lyricist, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”. Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, she influenced many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. Time magazine included her recording of “Take This Hammer” on its list of the 100 Greatest Popular Songs, stating that “Rosa Parks was her No. 1 fan, and Martin Luther King Jr. called her the queen of American folk music.

The rear of the cover contains a paragraph explaining each song, in the language of the time, which I’ll share with you now:

SIDE ONE

  1. Poor Little Jesus – One of the most powerful Negro Christmas spirituals, Poor Little Jesus draws its strength from the contrast between its exulting melody and its lamenting text. It is far removed from the traditional, “sweet” carol as a plantation is from the meadows of the English countryside. Odetta ironically adds a modern reference which is deeply moving in its underlining of the seemingly endless tide of suffering.
  2. Bald Headed Woman – In this Negro prison song, a boasting air becomes both a comic mask to cloak the tragedies of prison life, and assertion of defiant strength. Songs of this kind, created under conditions whereby they must be carried by the human voice alone, attain a stark, classic line, and it is thus that Odetta sings it, unaccompanied, the silences as potent as the sung phrases, and with punctuation provided by her own hand claps.
  3. Motherless Children – This song is a variation of the better known spiritual, This Train. For the listener, Odetta’s version is a deeper one, since it juxtaposes the jubilation of the gospel train with the tragedies of life.
  4. I Know Where I’m Going – A tender and beautiful love song, which has become a favourite in the repertoires of ballad singers on both sides of the Atlantic.
  5. The Foggy Dew – An old Irish ballad that has been collected in various form. This haunting version celebrates the Easter rebellion against the British rule in 1916, which ended in defeat of the citizen army by the “long-range guns” of the British troops. The extraordinary accompaniment, with its mood of foreboding at the opening, and of the mournful defiance at its close, is a tour de force by Odetta’s guitar and the bass of Bill Lee, her accompanist.
  6. I’ve been Driving On Bald Mountain and Water Boy – Odetta’s linking of these work songs results in a sum greater than the parts. Here is a rhapsody on Negro labor which overwhelms the listener by its alternation of moods and the richness of its characterizations. Opening with the depiction of the proud, John Henry-like steel-driver, Odetta introduces his “buddy” who got hi “learnin’ ” on the Big Bend Tunnel, and shows the mutual respect of these masters of the sledge and spike. The tempo accelerates to a climax at which the mood of freedom suddenly breaks and we find the worker on the chain gang calling for the “water boy”. A mood of bitterness and anguish pervades the first verse, where the dull repetition of rock-breaking is reflected in the hardness of the voice. Then the prisoner’s memory awakes and a rich sense of the loss of freedom is unleashed in the “Jack of Diamonds” verse. Memory is erased in the tempo of labor which engulfs both singer and audience in a dramatic close.

Side Two

  1. Ox Driver Song – This is a song of the American Southwest frontier, of the pioneers emigration by covered wagon or prairie chooner west from the Mississippi. The drive through mud and over steep hills required a granite-like fortitude and it is this quality which Odetta’s perfromance captures, with its unstoppable momentum and cumilative intensity.
  2. Down On me – Oddetta first heard this song in a Library of Congress recording by Vera Hall, as collected by Alan Lomax. The lyrics, with the outcry “Looks like everybody in the whole wide world is down on me” are secular, but the influence of the spirituals is not hard to perceive. A rich body of folk song, created by wandering singers, embodies such a bridge between the spirituals and the blues.
  3. Saro Jane – This is a song of a Negro rouster, a stevedore, who served on a U.S. gunboat that harassed the Confederate supply lines during the Civil War. It was collected by Dave Macon in 1887 from Negro singers in Nashville, Tennessee, and is considered the first example of the “roustabout” songs which arose on the great rivers of the centrsl United States. Filled with good humour, its finest irony is its claim that the stevodores have “nothing to do but sit down and sing”.
  4. Three Pigs – With the inflections that Odetta gives to this children’s song, it becomes a fable for grown ups.
  5. No More Cane On The Brazos
  6. Jumpin’ Judy – Tqo Negro prison songs, which express quite different emotions, No More Cane speaks openly and literally of suffering and degradation, expressing personal sorrow and mood of resignation. It is poetically the more profound lyric, especially in its ironic opening statement. Jumpin Judy, which shares some verses in common with Leadbelly’s Midnight Special, is a comic fantasy, in which ribald ellements effectivly mask the resentments and bitter sarcasm.
  7. Battle Hymn Of The Republic – The melody is of folk origin, despite authorship claims of several 19th-century composers. The words are by Julai Ward Howe who wrote them in December 1861 after hearing Union soldiers singing John Browns Body as they went to battle near Washngton D.C. The Battle Hymn was first published in the Atlantic Monthly of February 1862 and became the anthem of the Union forces.

Upon listening to this album twice as I wrote out the above I am genuinely suprised that it isn’t more well known, revered even. Perhaps it is but I’m just not aware of it. Though it may not be your normal listening choice I do urge you to put half an hour aside and just listen to it from start to finish, it is a wonderful collection of songs beautifully performed.

Streets Of Laredo – Wild

When an album is priced at £3.00 one doesn’t expect much, but it is certainly worth taking a chance on, it’s the price of a cup of coffee after all. In an act of pure laziness I have copied and pasted their bio from their facebook page as I know little or nothing about them, so here it is:


The title track on Streets of Laredo’s new album, WILD, essentially sums up their attitude since starting the band in Auckland almost five years ago. It’s a gorgeous, soul-stirring ballad with a haunting trumpet line, buttery harmonies, and a chorus that goes: “They call us wild / Let’s show them wild.” 

“It’s about how ridiculous you have to be to hang in there with music, against all the good, logical advice people will give you,” says Dave Gibson, who formed the band with his younger brother Dan after they bonded over records like John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Give Peace A Chance” and Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” “Trying to make a career in music is scary and there’s zero security involved,” Dave continues. “And fantastic things will happen, but you really have to be borderline crazy to keep doing it. ‘Wild’ does a great job of encapsulating what that’s like.” Singer and percussionist Sarah jane Gibson says “Wild” began as a song to Dave about their life together (the two are married), but developed into an anthem for anyone who needs encouragement to chase their dreams. “”Wild’ is about being more daring,” says Sarah jane. “If you’re gonna take a big risk, you need to go all in.” 

When the Gibsons relocated from New Zealand to New York City back in 2012, it took a major leap of faith on their part. They had only played one gig and demoed a few songs, but the newborn project incited such a genuine spark of inspiration that they all felt a bold move was in order. “When we moved to the U.S., Streets of Laredo was really just an idea,” says Dave, who is the band’s drummer and — along with Dan, Sarahjane and guitarist Cameron Deyell — one of its principal songwriters. “We were like, cool, let’s start from scratch in a really big town. And I like to think that the naivety and boldness of that move has really paid dividends for us.”

It undoubtedly has: In the four years since they made a new home for themselves in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, Streets of Laredo has developed from an idea to a brainstorm to an exciting new reality for the now six-piece band. They released a critically embraced debut full-length, Volume I & II, in October 2014, and have toured North America with artists from Shakey Graves to Kaiser Chiefs to Albert Hammond, Jr., as well as bringing their rousing blend of gospel-tinged folk and psychedelic Americana to receptive audiences at festivals including Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball.

The band started writing the batch of songs for their second studio album while they were still on the road in support of their debut, and recorded the first series of demos in early 2015. Although they had taken a traditional approach to their debut, writing on acoustic instruments and recording with minimal studio manipulation, Streets of Laredo saw this new one as an opportunity to experiment. “The first album, we tried to limit our choices to organic-sounding and acoustic-sounding instruments, and songs that could be expressed very simply in a live, unplugged setting,” says Dave. “This time, we explored the use of synthesizers a lot more — especially Dan, who experimented the most with using samples and unusual noises that ended up becoming part of the songwriting process. There’s a quite brutal synthesizer line in ‘99.9%’ that wouldn’t have been an option on our first record.” 

Another technique the band used to refresh their perspective was to start a song using sampled instruments, and then transpose the part to acoustic guitar for the recording. Says Dave: “Your fingers go to real different places on piano than guitar, so it’s a way of fighting muscle memory and familiar patterns.” 

Once they had amassed a series of demos they were excited about, Streets of Laredo recruited esteemed producer John Agnello. Fans of Agnello’s deft touch on albums by Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., the band began sharing demos with the producer early on, making refinements based on his input as they moved from preproduction in Brooklyn to three weeks recording at Dreamland Studios in upstate New York. “John definitely influenced our sound,” says Dave, who admired Agnello’s knack for capturing relaxed, natural-sounding performances. “He respects the take and if it’s got a few glitches in it, so be it. He was really good at helping us feel super comfortable and be less academic about things in the studio.” 

Indeed there is a newfound confidence running throughout WILD — from the title track and “99.9%” to the eerily catchy “Silly Bones” and a sweet, lilting tune called “Doesn’t Even Bother Me,” which Sarahjane describes as “this beautiful sentiment about not feeling like you need to be in the mix all the time in NYC, but finding a way to live a happy, normal life with your family.” She continues: “We have an ideal situation, where we can do this and it doesn’t take us away from each other. When we tour and play it feels like we’re living a good life together and fulfilling our dreams. The trick is remembering to find the magic in the moment.”


Streets of Laredo are: 
Daniel Gibson – Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitar 
Dave Gibson – Drummer, Backing Vocals
Sarahjane Gibson – Vocals, Percussion 
Cameron Deyell- Electric Guitars, Backing Vocals
with
Sean McMahon – Bass, Backing Vocals 
Andrew McGovern – Trumpet, Synth, Percussion

So the big question I guess is, do I like it? And I do. Sometimes there are odd connections that occur that lead you to things quite unexpectedly, for example, if you were to look at my recent post Best Albums on 1959 you would see, at number 30, an album by Marty Robbins, on his next album after that one, ‘More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs’ you would find the song ‘Street Of Laredo’. Which is nothing to do with why I picked up the album but is a moderately interesting coincidence.

There are two styles on the album as a result of shared vocals, some by SarahJane Gibson which at times have a Fleetwood Mac vibe about them and most by Daniel Gibson, which you can hear in the video above.

For £3 it’s a good listen and I’m glad I took a punt on it and added it to my collection.

Blanket – How To Let Go

I found an album by Blanket in the reduced items bin at the record shop which I picked up for the following reasons, I quite liked the cover, it was cheap. I hadn’t heard of them before other than maybe a very vague memory of something in a playlist once, maybe, so it was pretty much a blind purchase but I think I got lucky.

I don’t know much about them and there isn’t all that much online either, but I did find this on their official Facebook page:

‘blanket’ started as a bedroom project from Bobby Pook and Simon Morgan. Later recruiting Steven Pellatt and Matthew Sheldon to form a live show. ‘Our Brief Encounters’ was released in 2017 to much critical acclaim, the band then toured that EP around the UK and mainland Europe.

“a five-track sweeping euphony that runs through a gamut of textures from ambient, textural soundscapes to ebullient, cloud-nine euphoria in 26 minutes” – The Independent

The band has always directed and filmed their own visuals, music videos and content with Vocalist Bobby running a video production company (Sumo Crucial Productions), ahead of their first full length release in early 2018 they made a short film documentary entitled ‘Fragments Of A Dream’ about their home town of Blackpool and a look at the differences between the old days and new of the town.
In May 2018 the band released ‘How To Let Go’ their first LP on Music For Nations / Sony Music UK.

It is essentially Post-Rock, if you want to dilute it that far, but I think they refer to themselves as Cinematic Rock, which is basically the same thing if you use Mogwai as a handy comparison. Completely unbeknown to me (for the second time) they will be playing at the BlueDot festival in July, on the Friday, which I will be at, so in all probability I will get to see them (The first one I didn’t know about is Sons of Kemet).

I’ve listened to the album a couple of times now and I do rather like the instrumentals, particularly the opening track, which is the title track, ‘How To Let Go’ starting with some nice piano and then getting really heavy rather quickly I’d say.

There’s one track, the name of which I forget now, which has what I think is a digitally altered vocal, which may or not be deliberate, but I’m not sure I liked it that much. I find a lot of digitally altered vocals disagree with the expectations of my ears and it therefore feels slightly uncomfortable. I just checked, it’s called ‘Worlds Collide’, which I listened to again and I really like it apart from the opening vocal.

Overall, a really good album I think and as it was reduced to £9 I’m pretty pleased with my purchase, which has by now had several listens and I’ve probably got my moneys worth already so any further plays are a bonus, and I do think it will get further plays.

Eluvium – Piano Works

Label: Temporary Residence Limited ‎– TRR299LP-C1
Format: 3 × Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition, Iridescent Mother Of Pearl
Limited to 1000 copies. Includes Pianoworks Vol. 2 (new recordings of classic Eluvium piano pieces).

This arrived in the post yesterday. I pre-ordered from Rough Trade, and then saw the exact same version in my local record shop on Saturday. I didn’t know it was going to be there of course and the only extra expense is the P & P.

Eluvium is one guy, Matthew Cooper, who is based in Portland, Oregon. His first release was sixteen years ago and there has been a steady release schedule in the intervening years of ostensibly ambient material with some oddities along the way. If you’ve not already seen it I talked previously about his 2016 release False Readings On and it was one of my Albums of 2016.

Most of Eluviums previous releases are centred around piano but little of it is just piano, as we have here in Pianoworks. I am not qualified to pass any comment on the piano playing, in relation to style, technique, difficulty etc. But I am qualified to say that I like it. It’s gentle, simple at times but it is music for times when that is exactly what you want. If you fancy a pogo in your living room then this isn’t the album you’d choose but for reflective moments, quiet moments when you have time to breathe, Pianoworks is an ideal companion.

I just looked at the Bandcamp page and read this, which seems absolutely right: Inspired by the quiet thoughts and solitary observations of children – and the evolution/dissolution of that ephemeral, uncorrupted wonder of simple joy – Pianoworks begins with a song about children’s piano lessons, and culminates with an etude driven by the struggle to hold onto innocence and imagination as adulthood settles in. The record’s dramatic simplicity in both execution and expression is with purpose: Cooper wants the music to be simple enough to inspire children and novices to play, and the concept simple enough to resonate regardless of age or experience.

The album is a double on mother of pearl vinyl and very nice it is too:

As mentioned right at the beginning, it comes with a third disc of previously released but re-recorded tracks, one of which is ‘An Accidental Memory in Case Of Death’, which I have been listening to pretty regularly for over a decade now.

The full list of re-recorded tracks is down below:

It’s a nice package, with downloads as well, although I never use those and if the mood is right in your world, I’d recommend giving it a listen.

Nina Simone – Pastel Blues

There are a lot of old jazz and blues albums being re-issued at very reasonable prices at the moment, this isn’t one of them, costing pretty much the same as a new release, but worth every penny.

The album was recorded in 1964 and 1965 and released by Phillips Records in 1965, peaking at number 139 on the Billboard charts, which is interesting as it almost certainly one of the top 100 albums of the decade, in my opinion, and this chart placing re-affirms my view that charts are not necessarily a reflection of what was actually good in any given year. Popular does not necessarily equal good.

I’m always on the look out for Nina Simone albums to add to my collection, and there are plenty to add as I only have two, this and ‘Little Girl Blue’, oh, and a best of CD that I bought in a charity shop for £0.50p.

The recording of this album is a little unclear to me as, online, some tracks are listed as ‘Recorded Live’ but it doesn’t say that on the album cover, maybe they were. It’s an album of cover versions, although back in this time period this was often the norm, with only the final track, the traditional song ‘Sinnerman’, credited to Simone as arranger.

Speaking of the cover, here is a special treat, the liner notes:

Tracklist

Be My Husband3:19
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out2:35
End Of The Line2:51
Trouble In Mind2:37
Tell Me More And More And Then Some3:05
Chilly Winds Don’t Blow3:59
Ain’t No Use2:35
Strange Fruit3:26
Sinnerman10:15

I do prefer the Billy Holiday version of ‘Strange fruit’, which would be even better if the production values were as good as on this record (not that the Holiday version is terrible), but Simone still does a really good version.

There is a certain feeling to ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ that comes from Simone, as though she has lived it and is just passing on her story, she’s exceptionally good at owning a song and her voice carries a depth of emotion that few other performers seem to be able to achieve.

Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile

For Fathers Day today, I received a couple of albums. By received I mean I went to the record store, chose them, paid for them and brought them home. I picked up a copy of the 2018 Mercury Music Prize winning ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’ by Sons of Kemet. Of course they didn’t actually win, Wolf Alice actually won, but this is better than that in my view.

I do tend to always read it as SONS OF KERMIT though, and then visualise Robin his nephew. I wish this weren’t true but it is and I can’t seem to stop doing it now. Anyway, this is their third album, I haven’t heard the other two yet but really, really like this one. While it is filed under Jazz, which is quite right, I hear quite a fair bit of Ska in it as well and other influences.

Sons Of Kemet are born of many vital elements, a name that nods to ancient Egyptian culture, and a line-up that comprises some of the most progressive 21st-century talents in British jazz and beyond. Band-leader, composer and sax and clarinet don Shabaka Hutchings brings together his fiery vision alongside London-based bandmates Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford and latest addition Theon Cross. – That’s what it says on Bandcamp.

I sat listening to the album and then had a little browse to see where they would be playing in the UK this year. Much to my surprise I already have tickets to see them in July, as they will be at the Bluedot festival, which I’m going to, possibly alone now as my son isn’t going to be around, my best friend in the whole wide world refuses to go and my good lady wife is very much on the fence about it. That’s fine, I can do alone.

For reference and in relation to my earlier point, below is a list of the nominees for the Mercury Prize, in which there are a couple I don’t think should be there but otherwise it’s quite a good list, but I think it generally accepted that Wolf Alice was the safe choice of winner.

2018 Hyandai Mercury Prize shortlist in full:
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Everything Is Recorded – Everything Is Recorded
Florence & The Machine – High As Hope
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
King Krule – The Ooz
Lily Allen – No Shame
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Novelist – Novelist Guy
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life

They are playing on the Saturday at the festival but I have difficulty be able to see if they are on at the same time as Kraftwerk or not, if they are then, much as I like them, I will probably be watching Kraftwerk. There are a lot of bands at the Bluedot Festival that I’ve never heard of, but I see that as a real positive, it’s an opportunity to discover new things and if I don’t like what I’m hearing very much I can go to another stage and see what’s happening there.

London 7th June – Record Shopping

Back home from London and back at the MacBook. I had about 5 hours of wandering time on Friday morning with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything so it was time to have a wander. The first place I stopped to browse through the record racks was ‘Sounds of the Universe’. Upstairs was new vinyl, and I browsed through that, almost buying a couple of things but didn’t want to blow my limited budget straight away. There was a fair bit of soul, jazz, electronic and rock upstairs but I was dripping wet from the persistent rain on the walk there and a little uncomfortable, so I moved on around the corner where I knew there were two more shops.

I went to Sister Ray first, I’ve been there before and headed into the smallish basement to see what I could find down there. It didn’t take long. I’d been looking for ‘The Epic’ by Kamasi Washington for a while (it had been on sale in a local record store and I kept thinking next time I go I’ll get it, then it was gone). It’s a triple album, in a nice box with some extra pages with a story on I haven’t read yet, nicely packaged.

It seems that this and subsequent releases are quite polarising, in that a lot of people don’t seem to see any value in it whatsover, other than appreciating the skill if the musicians. I’m much simpler than seasoned jazz listeners, I either like it or I don’t, at a high level, so I enjoy listening to it? Yes I do, that’s all I care about really.

I actually bought all but 1 of the records I got at Sister Ray, the next was from 1959, and I mentioned it before, John Lee Hooker, ‘House of the Blues’. A re-issue which was very reasonably priced at £11, as many of these 1959 albums are now, although the originals in good condition are, of course, much pricier, but I want them to listen to not as an investment so a re-issue is fine for me.

I was looking for a Howlin Wolf album as well but didn’t find it, I’m sure it’s been reissued at some point though.

There was a lot at Sister Ray that I didn’t look through, spending most of my time in the Jazz and Blues section. Last time I went through the Krautrock and some of the rock, electronic etc, indie, punk, all that, but I was still damp and uncomfortable so I just did what I felt like doing and didn’t worry about maybe missing something good. While in the jazz section I saw a John Coltrane re-issue of ‘A Love Supreme’, which was an album I’d been meaning to get for ages so that became number 3 in Sister Ray.

I was about done down in the basement but had a very quick scout around and did find one more thing that was a nice surprise. I’ve been looking for a copy of Takk by Sigur Rós ‎for what seems like forever, and there was one just sitting there. Not the original, which I think was released as 10″ vinyl, but a repress from 2015 on 2 x 12″ with one 10″ containing a single track on one side and etching on the other. The cover is embossed and the 10″ slips quite cleverly in a pocket in the sleeve. Not that I knew this at the time as Sister Ray is one of those shops where you take a photocopy of the sleeve to the counter and they get the records for you from the shelves behind them.

the actual albums behind the counter

So I was delighted to get a copy of Takk, and it’s a really nice re-issue, although not cheap. I had tried to get it from Canada once and the one I bought worked out about £30 cheaper than that one, so I feel a little better about it.

Just across the road is Reckless Records, so I popped in there and didn’t find much, but I was looking for rather specific things and so limiting myself, there was plenty there really. I bought another re-issue, as second 1959 album, this time from Ornette Coleman and ‘The Shape of Jazz to Come’, which I’d streamed a lot since writing the Best of 1959 post, so I was glad to find that.

This is Reckless Records, inside and out. I did see one album that I seriously though about getting and I am regretting a little that I didn’t, but never mind, too late now.

I then went to Phonica, as it was quite nearby but didn’t expect to really find anything as it is mostly for DJ’s I think, white label vinyl, electronic, not very mainstream. I didn’t find anything.

I then went back to Sounds of the Universe and had a look in the basement where there were some used records and a lot of books. I could have at this point bought the couple of albums that tempted me earlier, but I was close to having spent enough and they were both quite pricey. So I headed off to find Fopp, which would be my last record shop for the day. I was really very wet by now and getting grumpy and at the point where I just wanted to have a sit down with a coffee. Fopp was disappointing really, I bought nothing there.

And that was it. I’m pretty pleased with my purchases and, I ended up back in Leicester square where this happened: