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.

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.

Pearl Jam – Vitaology

I rarely talk about Pearl Jam, which is odd as I really rather like them and have done since they released their debut album. A lot of their releases came out when I was buying CD’s rather than vinyl, but any album that contains the track ‘Spin The Black Circle’ deserves to be owned on that format I think.

So this is how Pearl Jam get in my head, played on repeat while I am doing something else or left in the car CD player for weeks on end so it always comes on while I am driving. I had ‘No Code’ in for a couple of months and when I listened to it a few years later was surprised I knew all the songs, having forgotten about the car marathon.

One of the problems I initially had with Pearl Jam was that everything I heard that wasn’t ‘Jeremy’, wasn’t ‘Jeremy’, which is silly really but there you are, I compared everything they did to it and if it wasn’t vaguely similar I was displeased. Now this is clearly stupid, several albums of songs that all sound the same would be pretty crappy but that’s how it was. It was this subconscious listening that I later did that shook me out of that idiocy and it’s a good job it did otherwise I would have completely missed so many great songs.

Just in case you are wholly unaware of who Pearl Jam are, here is a very synopsised synopsis:

Pearl Jam where formed in 1990 in Seattle, Washington. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Jeff Ament (bass guitar). Since 1998, the band has also included drummer Matt Cameron (also of Soundgarden). Boom Gaspar (keyboards) has also been a session/touring member with the band since 2002. Drummers Jack Irons, Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, and Dave Abbruzzese are former members of the band.

Formed after the demise of Gossard and Ament’s previous band, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten, in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, its members often shunned popular music industry practices such as making music videos or giving interviews. The band also sued Ticketmaster, claiming it had monopolised the concert-ticket market. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.”

I’m not a big fan of favourite songs from an album, unless it’s one of those albums that really only has one good song on it, and I do like the whole of Viataology, but if somebody held a gun to my head and asked my to pick one song, well, I’d suggest they need some serious medical help, but I would also pick ‘Corduroy’.

As a band I like their ethos, which I take at face value, in that they really do not seem to take advantage of their fan base, or, they really take advantage but don’t appear to. I hope the former. In its first week of exclusively vinyl release (back in 1994), Vitalogy sold 35,000 copies and was the first vinyl album to chart due to exclusively vinyl sales in nearly a decade. 

I do remember disliking this album on first listen as I was still in ‘Jeremy’ mode I think but, like so many of their albums, it has grown on me over time and now it has several favourites on it, but it doesn’t stand up as a complete work. ‘Pry, To’ is filler. ‘Bugs’ is just terrible and “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me”  should never have been conceived let alone given birth to. Take these away and you have a great, but shorter, album.

Legacy 7″ Singles Box – 4

Tubeway Army – are ‘friends’ electric?
Beggars Banquet BEG 18
1979 UK

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.

I had a load of singles once upon a time but I gave them away when I was 16 and moved to a new town, that is a regret I have as I can’t remember now what half of them were, but each one was so carefully chosen as they cost all the money I had.

the rest of the records in the box

Legacy 7″ Singles Box -3

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Christine
Polydor 2059 249
1980 UK

I remember well the first time I heard this single, it sounded so rich and full and was one of those songs where you just picked up the needle when it had ended and put it back to the start to listen to it all over again. I don’t think I ever played the B-Side, Eve White/Eve Black until today, which is a shame as it’s really very good.

So good in fact that I’ll include it below as well, with the added information that I liked it much better on the second listen. Thinking about it, I may have never heard the B-side because U may not have had my own copy at the time and listened to it several times at a friends house, which, as I’ve mentioned before, was a thing in the pre-internet days.

The full list of what is in the box and what the box is and why

Stratford Record Fair

I went to Stratford Upon Avon record fair today and it was pretty big, there were certainly a lot of stalls there. I wandered around for about 90 minutes, speaking to absolutely nobody as I did some crate digging and, sadly, finding nothing that I really wanted. The more I go to record fairs the less I seem to find and, to be honest, I’m enjoying it less and less.

The problem for me is that there are certain records that I’m looking for and, more often than not, I don’t find them and when I do thy are often more than I am prepared to pay. An example today was Alpha Centuri by Tangerine Dream, I nearly bought it but it was £20 and didn’t have a gatefold sleeve. I can go on to discogs right now and get a near mint gatefold copy for £10.99 plus shipping, so why buy the one at the record fair?

It’s also often quite annoying. The whole front of a stall was blocked by people and I waited patiently to get to the one crate I was interested in, then I waited less patiently and after 10 minutes I went to another stall, came back 10 minutes later and the same guy was still microscopically checking every album in the crate even though he didn’t seem to have any intention of buying them, he was on a rather odd mission it seemed. So I never looked in that crate and left wondering if it was the one that held a record that I might buy.

There was another stall that had a lot of records, all in yellowing plastic sleeves containing quite ordinary records that were listed as mint despite the ringwear and scuffed covers. Perhaps they were mint when he got them and he has been carting them around record fairs for decades.

I am less and less inclined to go to record fairs, which is a shame, but I think there’s a much better chance of finding something good in a used record shop than at a fair.

Legacy 7″ Singles Box – 1

I decided yesterday to create a box of singles that represents my music listening life up to 1983, when I turned 16. The box will contain 7″ singles that I either owned, wanted or that friends owned and each one will have a note explaining why it is in the box. I will, eventually, give it to my son so that he can put it in the attic, forget about it and one day throw it away without looking at it when having a clear out.

I have about 40 singles for the box already and will be picking at random for this series of posts. So here we go, 7″ number 1:

Toyah – IEYA

There is every possibility that the lyrics to this song are completely meaningless having been constructed by throwing darts at a copy of National Geographic, but I don’t care. I was 13, it was sort of punk and I liked it. It is probably the only song of hers that I can say I really, really like, though many of the other Punk-pop releases she did are perfectly listenable and there was a period here in the UK when Toyah was all over the singles charts. She’s very likeable, and clever, as well as, at the time, being a bundle of endless energy.

I honestly don’t know why but listening to that again now I got chills. It must just connect me to that specific time in my life. It looks a bit corny in places now but it was sort of cool at the time.

Zion, Zooberon, Necronomicon, Zion Zooberon, Necronomicon

No, I have no idea either.

The full list of what’s in the box

The Shacks – Haze

A few weeks ago I signed up for another vinyl subscription service, you may recall the others:

That Special Record: Really liked it but they stopped
The Retro Store: Crap
Vinyl Moon: Good but too expensive for a non US customer.

This time I’ve gone with Rough Trade, a brand I know. The first record arrived from them on Friday and they sent me Haze by The Shacks, a Rough Trade Exclusive of 1000 Copies only on Coke Clear Vinyl with Download (featuring just the main album) and Rough Trade Bonus CD. I haven’t listened to the bonus CD yet, which is instrumentals, but I’ve played the record a dozen times and really like it.

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The Shacks are fronted by 19-year-old singer & bassist Shannon Wise and 21-year-old guitarist & producer Max Shrager, and you may have already heard them without realising it (or not, let’s find out):

So that is the Apple Iphone 8 advert featuring the The Shacks cover of This Strange Effect by The Kinks, but also featuring Shannon Wise. Seems a pretty good start for any band.

I think the number of plays I’ve given the album since receiving it is indicative of how much I like it, and this made me appear much more knowledgeable than I really am on Saturday when I was in  record shop and a tune came on, I was able to say, ‘Is this The Shacks?’ after just a few notes and a conversation ensued.

I happen to be rather pre-disposed to a whispered female vocal so that was a plus from the start, think Stina Nordenstam if she was shouting, so very whisperery is she, and that is close to Wise’s vocal throughout the album. To make comparisons, or perhaps more bits that made me think of other bands, I felt bits of The Sundays, The Cranes and the aforementioned Stina Nordenstam. I’m also reminded of Death & Vanilla at times, and I love Death & Vanilla so there are elements of several bands/artists that I really like popping up throughout the tracks on this album.

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That there above is the Coke bottle green mentioned above, it’s a nice colour, in fact I think I have another by somebody else in this colour but I can’t remember who it is right now. Here are some snippets of what other people are saying about this album:

“music that envisions comforting, classic sensations like cascading spirals of woodsy incense…sun-drenched and intoxicating”

— PITCHFORK

“dreamy…music tinged with 60’s pop and pyschedelia, as well as Charles Bradley-esque 70’s soul”

— WNYC SOUNDCHECK

“feels like floating in a delicious dream…a testament to the band’s timeless, multi-generational warmth.”

— NPR MUSIC

“a sweet singalong that simultaneously recalls Sesame Street and David Lynch’s nocturnal crooners”

— VICE I-D

“Psychedelic soul with a little Mazzy Star thrown in for good measure.”

— PASTE

 

This video is from BRIC TV— the first 24/7 television channel created by, for, and about Brooklyn. It is the borough’s source for local news, Brooklyn culture, civic affairs, music, arts, sports, and technology. BRIC TV features programming produced and curated by BRIC, an arts and media nonprofit located in Downtown Brooklyn, NYC.

Tracklist

Haze
A1 Haze
A2 Follow Me
A3 Birds
A4 Sand Song
A5 Texas
A6 Cryin’
B1 All Day Long
B2 My Name Is
B3 Blue & Grey
B4 Sleeping
B5 So Good
B6 Nobody, Nobody
B7 Let Your Love
Instrumentals
1 This Strange Effect (Instrumental)
2 Orchids (Instrumental)
3 Audrey Hepburn (Instrumental)
4 Tidal Waves (Instrumental)
5 Rain (Instrumental)
6 Hands In Your Pockets (Instrumental)
7 Strange Boy (Instrumental)
8 Audrey (Spending All My Time With You) (Instrumental)
9 No Surprise (Instrumental)

I like them and will be interested to see how they develop and what they do next.

Rating: 8.5

Gary Numan – Exile

Exile is the thirteenth solo studio album by Gary Numan, released in October 1997 by Eagle Records. I have difficulty with this, namely that it was 21 bloody years ago, I can’t reconcile with this timespan at all, ten I could accept, but 21, it seems so damn long ago. I was still, just, in my twenty’s. I bought it a couple of years ago and I have only just looked to see what year it was released, hence my difficulty coming to terms with it being 1997.

Its release continued a critical upswing in Numan’s career which had begun three years earlier with the release of Sacrifice. This album is loosely conceptual, based on God and the Devil being two sides of the same coin, not denying God, but questioning whether God is entirely a force for good. Shorty after the release of the album Numan was quoted as saying: “Personally, I don’t believe in God at all, but if I’m wrong and there is a God, what kind of god would it be who would give us the world we live in?

The opening track, Dominion Day, is basically gothic/industrial rock and everything that follows is in the same tone. It’s a mine that he has been digging from the late 90’s until today, and very successfully at times. The track describes a man’s nightmare becoming reality as Christ returns to Earth in scenes reminiscent of the Book of Revelations.

Dark explores Numan’s premise of an incestuous relationship between God and the Devil.  The track was widely used for movie trailers before actually appearing in one,  Alex Proyas’ Dark City.

Dead Heaven is a different telling of biblical tales with Mary not being revered by the three wise men, but ravaged and Absolution muses on the consequences of unquestioning faith.

Thought I saw love
Sacrificed
Mary under three wise men
Thought I saw the Virgin look at me and cry

Exile received some very positive reviews at the time of release but wasn’t a chart success, though the accompanying tour was very well attended. Some fans who had been put off by Sacrifice’s (The previous release)  anti-religious undertones were further alienated by the subject matter and lyrics of Exile. The website remindmetosmile.com (now defunct) changed from a tribute page to one openly critical of Numan for being “so bold that he feels he can mock God and feel good about it“. Numan’s response was:

This sort of reaction always amazes me. Here you have people that genuinely believe that God created this entire bloody universe in just six days, without anybody’s help, and yet they seem to think that He needs their help to deal with little me. If God was bothered about me, He would deal with me“.

I find the reaction of the fans rather odd as, if you go all the way back to Replicas in 1979 the guy is singing, in Down In The Park, about rape machines, which those who were complaining about being mean to God, were presumably absolutely fine about.

You can watch the humans
Trying to run
Oh look there’s a rape machine
I’d go outside if he’d look the other way

There are several youtube videos of the Exile tour but the quality is bloody awful so I won’t share them here, go seek them out if they are of interest.

The album, a double on 180g Grey vinyl was selling for £8 in the now defunct local record store, I still think it was a bargain as it is full of really good songs, not very cheerful songs it’s true, but still good. I wouldn’t put it on at a party unless I wanted everybody to get on a bit of a downer and leave. Also, it didn’t originally receive a vinyl release, there was a pressing in 2008 and the one I have is 2012. Originally it was CD or cassette only.

This and the previous album were very much the beginning of Numan’s upward trajectory although he would not reach the superstar status of his early years he has carved out a place for himself in modern music by not relying on those early releases and insisting on always moving forward by releasing new material and touring it. Recently there have been full album tours, which has been in vogue of late, but he has said himself that sometimes you have to give the people what they want, but he is still putting new music out there and stands or falls by it.

He mostly stands.

Rating: 8.8

 

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Open The Gate

On the wall of the used record store there was a Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry triple LP box set. It had been there for about a month and was priced at £30. Every time I went in I looked at it and every time I put it back. Buying things from the wall is not my usual style as they are usually in the higher price bracket. On my last visit the price had been reduced to £20, so I took the plunge and I’m damn glad I did as this Trojan compilation is fabulous.

Don’t know who he is? Well, Lee “Scratch” Perry OD (The Order of Distinction is a national order in the Jamaican honours system) is a Jamaican music producer noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style. Perry was a pioneer in the 1970s development of dub music with his early adoption of remixing and studio effects to create new instrumental or vocal versions of existing reggae tracks. He has worked with and produced for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Junior Murvin, the Congos, Max Romeo, Adrian Sherwood, the Beastie Boys, Ari Up, and many others.

 

 

For a triple album it doesn’t look that track heavy, but a lot of the tracks sort of merge into a dub version with little or no warning so Side A is longer than it looks, and Vampire is a fabulous track running to about 10 minutes (The video above is all three records, sound quality is better at home with the record playing). It is a great compilation of rare extended versions of tracks recorded in Scratch’s black ark studio in the mid to late 70’s.  I’ve read that this is the best of the Trojan label’s Perry box sets – supposedly better than “Build the Ark” or the “Upsetter Box Set“, however, I haven’t heard either of those so can only pass along somebody else’s comment.

Tracklist

A1 Anthony “Sangie” Davis & Lee Perry Words
A2 Devon Irons & Dr. Alimantado Vampire
B1 The Heptones Babylon Falling
B2 The Upsetters Babylon Falling Version
B3 The Heptones Mistry Babylon
B4 The Upsetters Mistry Babylon Version
B5 Leroy Sibbles Garden Of Life
C1 Carlton Jackson History
C2 Junior Delgado Sons Of Slaves
C3 Watty Burnett Open The Gate
D1 The Diamonds Talk About It
D2 The Upsetters Yam – A – Ky
D3 Eric Donaldson Cherry Oh Baby
D4 Watty Burnett Rainy Night In Portland
E1 Horace Smart & The Upsetters Ruffer Ruff & Ruffer Dub
E2 The Congos Neckodeemus
E3 The Twin Roots Know Love
F1 Lee Perry City Too Hot
F2 Lee Perry Bionic Rats
F3 Junior Murvin Bad Weed

This was not on my list of Trojan releases that I was looking for, but sticking to a list can be both a good and a bad thing, in this case it would have been bad, I’m glad I got this and at a decent price.

Rating: 9.1

Charity Shop visit

Popped into a couple of Charity shops at lunch time where I usually find some oddities or oldies that I fancy listening to, had a bit better luck today though, check it out:

Teenagers have no taste, quite rightly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about albums I used to own but don’t own anymore. I really have no clue what happened to most of them and their absence means I never really think about them so it’s actually quite difficult to recall what I did and didn’t have. Every now and again a memory will pop up for any number of reasons, not least of which are a couple of Facebook groups where people post pictures of the records they are currently playing and I’ll be scrolling disinterestedly past and suddenly see something and the realisation will come that I bloody well used to have that.

Exactly this happened last week when I was scrolling, scrolling. scrolling and suddenly stopped on this album cover:
kiss-alive-ii-magnet-m1870

I bloody well had this! I remember having it, though where the hell I got it from I don’t know, then I remember not having it, so where the hell it went I don’t know either. What I do know is that I loved it at the time, so I was probably > 13 but < 16, a very specific time frame within the teen years. Looking back at it now I can appreciate that if you took away the makeup and the costumes, the pyrotechnics etc. then it would be an entirely different proposition than what it was, because in that teen age bracket, it was bloody brilliant, it really was. KISS came along at just the right time with the advent of Stadium Rock where radio stations and promoters were looking for bands to fill large venues. The make-up and the personae were bang on for the early to mid seventies with glam rock breaking around the same time. The music itself, bog ordinary Rock ‘N’ Roll packed full of sexual innuendo, again, bang on for the teen time frame. I loved it.

I don’t know if anybody else remembers how special the discovery of new music was back before the internet when it was all word of mouth or from Sounds, NME or Melody Maker, but it had a different feel about it, as though by discovering it entirely for yourself pretty much with very little to go on it made it’s discovery more special and, odd though it may sound, there was a sort of glow about it, but it was an audio glow. It’s very difficult to describe but this is what happened when I played this album. There were only ever the smallest snippets of information about the band and they would never be on the TV or radio, at least not in the UK, so it was like being part of a secret club in some ways.

I make no apology for liking KISS, or at least early KISS (Unmasked was the latest album I’ve owned and that was 1980, which means I was 13 and I had Alive II first, so maybe I was 11 or 12 when I got it) because, even though to many it is tasteless shite, it was a part of what shaped my tastes and helped me on the path to enjoying, to different degrees, almost everything!

I mean, be honest, if you were a teenage boy you’d lap this shit up wouldn’t you?

Oh, and yes, I bought a replacement copy. Shut up.

 

Kate Bush – The Kick Inside

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One of the best debut albums ever I should think.

It’s incredible to me that she was only 19 years old. and had written some of the songs when she was only 13. I was 11 when this came out and was very weirded out by her top of the pops appearance performing Wuthering Heights as I, and pretty much everybody else, had never heard anything like it before. I think that, early on, the TV sketches taking the mickey out of her detracted from just how extraordinary she was, although perhaps that the sketches existed at all were testament to the impact she made.

So that one was actually quite clever but the next one, by Faith Brown is shite, I never found her funny so perhaps it’s just me but everything she did was just really obvious I thought and her impressions were tosh:

Anyway, enough of all that. Here is the full album, using a lot of live performances.It was quite a while ago so the film quality varies but it is all quite listenable.

It really is a quite extraordinary set of songs, some of which have very strong hooks and some are a little more contemplative and warrant a more concentrated listen as lyrically they really are very interesting.

SIDE 1

Track 1: Moving 3:08

Dedicated to Lindsay Kemp, a dance instructor, who inspired her to use her body in videos to represent her songs. The use of Whale song is, according to an interview with Sounds; “Whales say everything about ‘moving’. It’s huge and beautiful, intelligent, soft inside a tough body. It weighs a ton and yet it’s so light it floats. It’s the whole thing about human communication—’moving liquid, yet you are just as water’—what the Chinese say about being the cup the water moves in to. The whales are pure movement and pure sound, calling for something, so lonely and sad …”

Moving liquid, yes, you are just as water
You flow around all that comes in your way
Don’t think it over, it always takes you over
And sets your spirit dancing

Track 2: The Saxophone Song 3:44

This was one of her earliest compositions, written when she was about fifteen, in an interview she said “…I love saxophones so I wanted to write a song about them… The perfect setting was this smokey bar in Berlin with nobody listening except me in the corner…”

A surly lady in tremor 
The stars that climb from her bowels
Those stars make towers on vowels
You’ll never know that you had all of me
You’ll never see the poetry you’ve stirred in me
Of all the stars I’ve seen that shine so brightly
I’ve never known or felt, in myself, so rightly

Track 3: Strange Phenomena 2:58

This track speaks about déjà vu, synchronicity and how coincidences sometimes cluster together in seemingly meaningful ways. It has been described as a ‘frank paean to menstruation” by The Guardian.

Soon it will be the phase of the moon
When people tune in
Every girl knows about the punctual blues
But who’s to know the power
Behind our moves 

Track4: Kite 3:00

On the one hand, The narrator is tired of life and stress and wishes she were a kite so she could fly and not have worries. Her wish is granted but she soon longs for the safety ground again. On the other hand, this song is about a sacramental mushroom experience, specifically amanita muscaria. “Beelzebub” is a nickname for this fungus and it is mentioned in the Bible. I suspect it is the latter:

Beelzebub is aching in my belly-o
My feet are heavy and I’m rooted in my wellios
And I want to get away and go
From all these mirror windows

Track 5: The Man With The Child In His Eyes 2:40

She explained this song herself when interviewed on TV: “Oh! well it, its something that I feel about men generally (sorry about this folks) that a lot of men have got a child inside of them, you know? they’re more or less just …grown up kids… and that its… its a very… (delayed laughter from audience), no, no! its a very, very good quality… its really good because a lot of women grow up and get far too responsible and its really nice to keep that delight in wonderful things that children have, and thats what i was trying to say;… that this man can communicate with a younger girl because… he’s on the same level”

I hear him, 
Before I go to sleep,
And focus on the day that’s been,
I realize he’s there,
When I turn the light off,
And turn over,
Nobody knows about my man,
They think he’s lost on some horizon

Track 6: Wuthering Heights 4:25

This is based on Emily Bronte’s classic book of the same name. The song pretty much tells the same story as the book, only at a much higher pitch. In the book, two young people, Catherine and Heathcliff, are brought together and become lovers. Along the way, they struggle with issues of class and family. Wuthering Heights was Bronte’s only novel, although she did publish some poems.

This was a huge hit of course, and I’ve heard it many hundreds of times, but some chap slowed it down so it is 36 minutes long and it turns into a quite extraordinary soundscape that I wouldn’t mind having a copy of, listen for yourself:

SIDE 2:

Track 1: James And The Cold Gun 3:33

EMI wanted this to be the first single taken from the album but Bush insisted it be Wuthering Heights, she was right of course, but this is still one of my favourite tracks of hers. The song was inspired by a contemporary thriller, The Day Of The Jackal. Based on the book of the same name by English author Frederick Forsyth, well that’s one interpretation anyway.

James, come on home
You’ve been gone too long baby
We can’t let our hero die alone
We miss you day and night
You left town to live by the rifle
You left us to fight
But it just ain’t right to take away the light

Track 2: Feel It 3:04

In this track Bush sings openly about sexuality, “It’s not such an open thing for women to be physically attracted to the male body and fantasize about it,” she told Phil Sutcliffe in 1980. “To me the male body is absolutely beautiful.”  Bush added that with this and a few other songs, she expressed desire, “so bottled up you have to relieve it, as if you were crying.”

After the party, you took me back to your parlour
A little nervous laughter
Locking the door
My stockings fall onto the floor
Desperate for more
Nobody else can share this
Here comes one and one makes one
The glorious union, well, it could be love
Or it could be just lust
But it will be fun
It will be wonderful

Track 3: Oh To Be In Love 3:19

The feeling of being in love with someone and never being able to fall out of love with them, but becoming trapped in this situation. How it can be anyone at anytime, a completely random event.

I could have been anyone
You could have been anyone’s dream
Why did you have to choose our moment?
Why did you have to make me feel that?
Why did you make it so unreal? 

Track 4: L’Amour Looks Something Like You 2:27

Almost certainly about a one night stand, but who really knows with Kate Bush, it could have an entirely different meaning.

You came out of the night
Wearing a mask in white colour
My eyes were shining on the wine
And your aura
All in order we move into the boudoir
But too soon the morning has resumed 

Track 5: Them Heavy People 3:05

It could be that she is singing about being in therapy, getting help from ‘heavy people’ therapist, psychologists, a lot of heavy talking to work on your mind. Rolling the ball to you because it’s always up to you yourself to do the hard work in therapy. Of course it could be a dozen other things, maybe actually having several meanings.

Rolling the ball, rolling the ball, rolling the ball to me
They arrived at an inconvenient time
I was hiding in a room in my mind
They made me look at myself
I saw it well, I’d shut the people out of my life
So now I take the opportunities
Wonderful teachers ready to teach me
I must work on my mind
For now I realise that everyone of us
Has a heaven inside 

Track 6: Room For The Life 4:03

She may be going against the position of many second-wave feminists in this song,  saying that women shouldn’t get down on themselves because of men, or it could be about about the womb, or both.

Hey there you lady in tears
Do you think that they care if they’re real, woman?
They just take it as part of the deal
Lost in your men and the games you play
Trying to prove that you’re better, woman
But you needn’t get heavy with them
Like it or not, we were built tough
Because we’re woman

Track 7: The Kick Inside 3:37

The original demo version of this track refers to “Lizzie Wan” (alternately “Lucy Wan”) is an 18th-century English/Irish folk ballad, best known as The Ballad of Lizzie Wan, which recounts the tragedy of Lizzie Wan, who falls in love with her brother and then kills herself while carrying his child. This doesn’t mean that this happened to her but she has always been very close to her brother and it could well be about feelings rather than actions.

I’m giving it all in a moment for you.
I’m giving it all in a moment or two.
I’m giving it all, giving it, giving it.
The kicking here inside
Makes me leave you behind.
No more under the quilt
To keep you warm.
Your sister I was born. Lose me.
You must lose me like an arrow,
Shot into the killer storm.

All of the above interpretations could be rubbish of course, and what is really important is what a song means to each listener and how they interpret it.

The US cover of the album is less interesting than the UK one I think and I don’t know why it had to be different, this is it, Kate Bush in a box:

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Apparently Tori Amos pays homage to this US cover with her debut, Little Earthquakes:

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It’s hard to believe that I’ve been listening to tracks from this album since 1978, that’s 40 years. I didn’t own it when it was first released, 11year olds don’t have that much disposable income, and I can’t remember when I got it but its been a lot of years now. A brilliant album.

Rating: 9.6

 

 

FKA Twigs

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I have been very remiss as I have been listening to FKA Twigs for 4 years now (I was just looking at LP1 and was shocked to realise it was so long since it was released) and haven’t talked about it at all really. She pops up in a couple of posts but that’s all. I need to correct this omission as I think she is absolutely marvellous and I’ve played that album to death.

I have just checked and I have all her releases to vinyl except one that was limited to 500 copies and self released, which I might see if I can pick up at some point.  Let’s begin at the beginning with her first release, EP1.

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Originally self released in 2012 (I have the re-release from 2017) with a white label in a white sleeve on black vinyl and containing 4 tracks:

Tracklist

Weak Spot
Ache
Breathe
Hide

I actually heard the tracks off this after I heard the next three releases and I rather liked the whispered vocals of opener Weak Spot and the instrumentation behind it. She has a 1188422rather odd way of putting tracks together that is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The pipe effect on the vocal is really interesting as is the distorted melody on the verses. All the tracks have an interesting quirkiness about them, though not in a cute way, there’s a power about them from somebody who seems to be in control and  knows exactly what they are doing. I wish I had heard this first, it would have been a hell of an introduction to an brand new artist.

Below are 3 of the 4 tracks from this first EP, the last track is missing for some reason.

The next release was EP2, which had a picture on the cover this time and was released by the Young Turks record label. Well, no beating about the bush, it’s just amazing. There is something strangely unsettling about her music and that is what makes it so interesting.

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The visuals are generally rather odd which aligns with the music which is very listenable despite a definite strangeness underlying most tracks.

Tracklist

How’s That
Papi Pacify
Water Me
Ultraviolet

Then came the LP, which stuck with the theme by being titled LP1. This and what proceeded it is the work of  26-year-old (at the time, she’s about to turn 30) Tahliah Barnett, a dancer from Cheltenham whose previous brush with fame involved appearing in the videos for Do It Like a Dude and Price Tag by Jessie J.  There’s a very touching MOBO acceptance speech where she talks about being a backing dancer for WRETCH 32 on a previous year at the event, and creating a dance routine for a Lethal Bizzle video which was cut from the final version.

You may know a couple of Tricky albums, Pre-Millennium Tension and Angels with Dirty Faces, they are dark and brilliant, and LP1 seems to draw from and update the mood of those albums opening with choral singing that normally precedes a revelation in a horror movie where a poltergeist makes itself know by moving a cup or something, rather than an album full of electronic R&B slowjams, which is not necessarily the best description but it’s all I have.  She seems to have the ability to go a bit over the top with vocal acrobatics in a Whitney on speed sort of way, but doesn’t go there, instead choosing to reach where she wants to reach without singing every note in-between. Both Lights On and Two Weeks (after the delightfully creepy Preface) are stunning openers to and album that should find it difficult to continue after them but does, however, and this sounds bloody obvious, you have to listen. There are a lot of interesting things going on beneath the vocals and concentrating on the tracks rather than letting them wash over you really does reap rewards. I first heard the album when I put it on the turntable, sat down for about 40 minutes, stopping only to turn it over. I did nothing else, just sat and listened which is something many don’t do anymore.
 

Tracklist

A1 Preface
A2 Lights On
A3 Two Weeks
A4 Hours
A5 Pendulum
B1 Video Girl
B2 Numbers
B3 Closer
B4 Give Up
B5 Kicks
After the album was released to much critical acclaim, there was one more record (some MP3’s have been released since) and it has veered wildly from the previous naming convention by calling itself M3LL155X. This is the video that accompanied it, and just to be clear from the start, so there is absolutely no ambiguity, it is fecking brilliant. It’s long, but do try and watch it all, I realy think you’ll be glad you did:

Tracklist

A1 Figure 8
A2 I’m Your Doll
A3 In Time
B1 Glass & Patron
B2 Mothercreep

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FKA Twigs is a rare British talent who has a wonderful uniqueness, so much so that her music seems to be in a genre of its own at times. She writes all of her own material, produces her music and also creates all her visuals for her videos as well as directing some of them, and she is an amazing choreographer and dancer. The hard work she has put it shines through. Here she is at the 2014 MOBO awards with a stunning performance. I fail to see how anybody could fail to appreciate how incredibly talented this woman is, even if the music isn’t their thing, the talent is surely undeniable:

At Glastonbury:

And finally, For New Year’s Eve 2013, Young Turks threw a special party in Tulum, Mexico. Here, FKA twigs performs Hide amidst Mayan ruins.

 

George Duke – A Brazilian Love Affair

Recommended by Dave, if I have this story straight then Pete, Dave’s ever so slightly older brother, there’s maybe a couple of months difference between them, he may even be his younger older brother, had a copy of this album, which Dave copied for art class. We were talking about Stanley Clarke the other night and the topic of George Duke understandably came up, I mentioned I had The Clarke / Duke Project album but wasn’t that keen on it on first listen, which is when Dave recommended this one, he was right to, it is entirely different to The Clarke / Duke Project, infused as it is with latin flavours.

It is one of George Duke’s most well-known albums, but I’d never heard of it. For this 1979 album he travelled to RioDe Janeiro to collaborate with several local musicians and vocalists, including Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira (I didn’t know who they were untilI looked them up).  Duke combines his jazz funk fusion styles with Brazilian influences, to create something truly memorable.

There is really only one thing that spoils it, and it is this:

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That bloody CBS Nice Price sticker specifically designed to fuse with the cover underneath if not removed within 24 hours of application. Why the hell do people do this? Price tags are just as bad, some people leave them on for years and it is really bloody annoying. This particular sticker has been in place since 1983, 35 bloody years, it is never coming off without ruining the sleeve. I bought it online and in fairness it did say sticker on the cover,I wasn’t expecting one that bloody big though. Ahhh well, no matter, ultimately it is the record itself that is important and this one play nicely, bit crackly in-between tracks, not too bad though, so I’m good with that.

Listening to it for the second time around right now and I’m rating it pretty highly: 8.8

Currently Listening to……

Milan W. – Intact

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I received this from my subscription to ‘That Special Record’, which no longer does that sort of thing, a shame as they introduced me to some really interesting and varied music. I wrote about it here.

Somebody uploaded the whole thing to youtube since I last mentioned this album, so if you are interested at all, have a listen. I love the bloody thing.

Joan Armatrading – Still Cheap

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Playing this, which I just picked up and continues my belief that this woman is cheap, undeservedly so. I talk about it here.  I now have ten albums (this one was £2) and a 12″ single, total cost £14, average cost per item is £1.27. Crazy for work of this quality, still, it means it doesn’t hit my pocket hard I guess.

The title track alone is worth the money:

I don’t know how many are left to get but I’ll keep buying them at those prices for sure.

The Beatles – The White Album

I’ve said somewhere before that The White album is a brilliant single album, but not so great as a double and, though I’ve listened to the album many times, I’ve never actually owned a copy until this week. I picked up a German re-press from 1980, cover in OK condition but no pictures/posters. As long as it plays I’m not that bothered. It was £8, which is pretty cheap for this double album and, even though it sticks right at the end of Blackbird, I’m pretty pleased with it. 

Speaking of the 4 pictures that came with it, these are they:

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I used to have these when I was about 14, maybe 15. There was a record shop and the B’s were filed alphabetically near the door and the counter was at the other end of the shop with the Z’s. One day I went it in and was looking at The White Album and realised that the photographs were in there. Quite suddenly they weren’t and I left the shop. I had them up on my bedroom wall for quite a while but they were lost at some point. If you’re judging me, stop it, I was just a kid.

The problem I have with the album is that some of the tracks aren’t, in my opinion, very good. People will disagree of course, and they are quite welcome to, but the George Harrison track, Piggies for example, is just mean spirited and feels like a bad nursery rhyme put to music. It does have cultural significance having been adopted by the counterculture of 1968 as an anti establishment theme song and was, of course, one of the tracks Charles Manson used as part of his Helter-Skelter theory of an American race-related countercultural revolution. Cultural significance doesn’t necessarily translate to good though, and this isn’t.

While I’m being negative, I’d throw out Rocky Raccoon, Wild Honey Pie, probably Glass Onion, definitely Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, Birthday, oh and loads of others.

So my single album would look something like this and, in my opinion, would be a much better proposition.

Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired
Blackbird
Julia
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter


Revolution (Replacing Revolution 1)
Cry, Baby, Cry

And these are the tracks for the Beatles Anthology series released way after the fact, pretty much for enthusiasts only:

Glass Onion
Wild Honey Pie
Piggies
Rocky Raccoon
Don’t Pass Me By
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
I Will
Birthday
Yer Blues
Long, Long, Long
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Revolution 9
Good Night

I know, sacrilege, but hey, I’m entitled to my opinion and it doesn’t have to match yours. I was watching some videos of a Beatles collector the other day and there seems to be no subjectivity at all, everything is brilliant and it wasn’t. A lot was of course but not all of it.

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I don’t know if you’ve heard of a guy called Rutherford Chang, he collects The White Album and currently has 1,947 copies. That’s Piggies 1,947 times, good lord, that would be painful. His site is here.

On the other side of the coin, Happiness is a Warm Gun is a brilliant track, and was brilliantly covered by The Breeders:

As it says in the Lennon/Ono interview further up the page, it’s a collage, and it really works.

To be honest, I think Revolver is a much better album, and I’m not alone in that opinion. For the record I think Sgt Peppers is overrated as well. I own them both and have been listening to them for years, Sgt. Peppers certainly has its moments and it is undoubtedly a good album, but if I had these three records and only these three records, Revolver would be on the turntable more than the other two even though I really dislike Yellow Submarine, actually, any song that Ringo sings on I find to be generally lacking.

I’ve just read back what I’ve written, it sounds like I hate The White Album, I don’t, there are just some tracks I can do without having to listen to. I think it’s a great album that could have been brilliant.

As a side note, I was talking to my son about this very subject this evening and he thinks my opinion makes me an idiot, he usually has good judgement about these things.

 

 

Two Gallants – We Are Undone

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I bought this album entirely on a whim having heard nothing, nor even read about them. I just liked the look of it and it was a reasonable price, I think I paid £8. I believe this is their sixth album and they are described as a Folk rock duo from San Franciso, California, USA. The band name comes from the title of a story by James Joyce in his book Dubliners.

I’m not sure I’d go for folk rock myself, to me they are a cross between The White Stripes, Radiohead and Nirvana as, when I’ve listened to the album, bits and pieces that have cropped up have reminded me of those three bands more than any others.

It took me a few listens, 3 or 4, before I could decide if I liked the album or not and, having listened to it again today, I have fallen on the side of like.

We Are Undone, was released in February 2015 having been written and recorded at Panoramic House studio in rural Stinson Beach, California, a house converted into a studio where the band also stayed while recording. I believe they normally work on songs as they perform them live but these songs weren’t done that way for the most part and were born in the studio, I’ve no idea what if anything changed as a result from earlier albums but I like this one so something must have gone right.

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I liked this live performance of ‘Some Trouble’ quite lot.

This is from their website (which can be found here) about the release of this album:

Reached at home, Stephens and Vogel talked about finding inspiration in admitting you don’t have the answers. You recorded this with Karl Derfler in Panoramic Studio in Stinson Beach; what was working with Karl like? For this one, he just acted more as an engineer than a straight producer, correct?

Adam Stephens: The limitations of playing with essentially two instruments has probably been the most driving force for our sound over the years. It’s like this wall that we continually bump up against and every time it repels us in a new direction. Karl pulled off some incredible things within those restrictions. Karl’s been involved in some amazing records and with a lot of musicians we look up to: Tom Waits, Roky Erickson, The Flamin’ Groovies, just to name a few. The three of us pretty much saw eye-to-eye immediately on what we wanted to hear. I think he was able to capture our sound in a way that was very familiar and very real but somehow new to us as well.

So on the opening song and title track “We Are Undone,” You’re talking about the marketplace, you’re talking about the dry and barren field.  And you also say “you sing to the choir/and they know every line.” What was sort of on your mind as you were making the song?

AS: I guess that song is about the illusion of thinking that what you’re doing is of some significance simply because people come out to your shows or because you are told that you make something that moves people in a certain way. But the song is definitely not a statement. I don’t know. It was more of an exploration I guess.

Like, trying to find an answer through a song. It’s not like you have a definite answer. You’re sort of thinking about things out loud.

AS: Yeah. I don’t believe in writing songs with a plan in mind. That saps all the impulse out of it when it should be more like following a lead. The lead I was following with “We Are Undone” was, without being too blunt about it, trying to make sense of this unending pressure to acquire and consume, and usually as conspicuously  as possible, that has taken a hold of our culture. Consuming actual material items and consuming the belief system behind it: that our lives and our happiness are absolutely dependent upon those very items. Everyone is aware of the destructive nature of the way that we live, but nobody wants to do away with all of its comforts. And if you, for a second, start to tell someone that the only way we’re going to solve a problem is if we do away with a certain comfort that they’ve grown up with or grown so accustomed to, then people are up in arms and don’t want to do anything about it.

Were you thinking about anything in particular when you wrote this song? Because you’re from San Francisco. Was that something on your mind while you were writing?

AS: Not this song as much. Actually, the last song on the album, “There’s So Much I Don’t Know,” has a lot more to do with that.

How so?

AS: It’s a bit more about the feeling of becoming estranged from the city, from San Francisco. The place that has always been our home has become rather unwelcoming for the very people whose eccentricities had defined the city for so long; people who want to live simply and make art or music or just be weird somewhere. Every place that has housed or staged that oddity and diversity has basically become extremely exclusive or been shut down. The strangeness is gone. That’s kind of the centerpiece of the song I guess.

Tyson Vogel: If you listen to all of our records, we never have ever tried to portray anything that wouldn’t really be there if you were to go see us play live. And I think a lot of that is in the process of creating the songs, too. Also just having faith in that space, but also, giving the simplistic nature of only two members its full due. You have to commit to it fully.

So tell me about the cover? I hear you have something interesting planned.

AS: It’s a drawing by Kevin Earl Taylor of a 160,000 year old fossilized human skull. As far as the fossil record reveals, it’s basically considered to be from the last stage of evolution that preceded modern humans. The idea was to hint at humanity before it had fully developed its self­-awareness. When its consciousness was just budding. A stage, obviously, all of us go through in a lifetime when we first begin to realize that we’re actually individuals, separate from our parents and our surroundings.

You and Tyson have been working together for around 12 years, and you’ve known each other for much longer than that, right?

AS: Yeah, we’ve known each other since we were five.

So, as you and Tyson have been doing it for a long time, do you sort of have to push each other in order to keep it fresh? Do you guys have to guard each other and let yourselves fall back on old habits?

AS: Well, I would say the one thing that we try to remind one another of is to not overthink what we’re playing. A lot of times when we have a new song that feels pretty good, we’ll decide to not keep working on it because we don’t want to lose that initial feeling. It’s sort of inevitable that we will. But it’s really important to kind of keep that initial feeling, to be able to maintain that part of the song that was there before it could really be considered a song.

TV: I think there’s something especially raw about being in a band with only two people, there’s a certain set of chemistry or energy that happens. This sort of transferal. And I think that ever since the beginning, it’s been super intimate. Because it’s only us two. And so, with that there comes a lot of freedom. And then there comes a lot of spots where we both have to be able to acclimate to maybe a difference of approach or a creative idea that is new to our process. And there’s a volatile love that comes with that process. I think that with this album, in reference to the albums previous, I think it steps in line with this other sort of expansion of both our personal lives, and our relationships personally. We’re both growing together and in different ways, and learning how to find that balance.

Tracklist

A1 We Are Undone
A2 Incidental
A3 Fools Like Us
A4 Invitation To The Funeral
A5 Some Trouble
B1 My Man Go
B2 Katy Kruelly
B3 Heartbreakdown
B4 Murder The Season / The Age Nocturne
B5 The Strange Is Gone

Rating: 8.4

Although nothing to do with this album, the track below was on the previous album and I like it, so I may have a look for tht at some point:

XTC – Well I Never (Part 10)

Nonsuch is the final album I will be looking at for now, although there are some further releases they aren’t readily available, unless you are prepared to pay £200 for a copy, and I’m not. This album sells for around £120, a decent copy does at least. I’ve seen one for sale listed as ATTENTION!!! ONLY RECORD 1 OF THE SET WITH IT’S ORIGINAL INNER SLEEVE, IS FOR SALE…….RECORD 2 WITH IT’S ORIGINAL INNER SLEEVE AND THE ORIGINAL COVER, ARE MISSING!!! that was £50, madness really.

This was the album that caused XTC to enter into a dispute with Virgin Records that resulted in a gap of several years before anything else was released. On its its initial release in 1992 it did pretty well, reaching number 28 in the UK charts and Lead single The Disappointed, was nominated for an Ivor Novello award. The album was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album (won by Tom Waits with Bone Machine) and reached number 97 on the US Billboard 200, as well as number one on Rolling Stone’s College album chart. Not too shabby.

The album cover is an image of Nonsuch Palace,  a Tudor royal palace, built by Henry VIII in Surrey, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3.

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Having written around 32 songs for Nonsuch by 1991, it was a while before anything else happened as the musical director of Virgin Records felt that the band “could do better” and asked them to write other songs. Andy Partridge reflected: “We were ready [to record the album in 1990], but our English record company refused all our songs.” In Partridge’s recollection, the director threatened that Virgin would drop the band if the band don’t write an albumof twelve Top Ten guaranteed singles,” and noted that this attitude held the band up in recording Nonsuch, which they refused to rewrite, believing its songs to be among the greatest they had written. With the band sitting on the material, the director left the label a year later, and his replacement liked the band’s content, hurrying the band to record the album.

I think the band were pretty much right, it’s not an album of top ten singles though, I think that was never going to happen, and to be frank, it is an entirely unreasonable demand to make of any band/artist.

There were only two singles released, The Disappointed and The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead, although Wrapped In Grey was to be released and copies were pressed, but the record label changed their minds at the last minute, another reason why the band parted company with them after this album.

 

Tracklist

A1 The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead
A2 My Bird Performs
A3 Dear Madam Barnum
A4 Humble Daisy
A5 The Smartest Monkeys

B1 The Disappointed
B2 Holly Up On Poppy
B3 Crocodile
B4 Rook

C1 Omnibus
C2 That Wave
C3 Then She Appeared
C4 War Dance

D1 Wrapped In Grey
D2 The Ugly Underneath
D3 Bungalow
D4 Books Are Burning

nonsuch_lp_back

Like all the XTC albums I’ve looked at so far, it’s bloody good. They are one of the most, if not the most, consistently good songwriters I’ve ever heard. I do wish this would get a re-release though, doesn’t have to be a deluxe box set or anything like that, just a re-press as it was when originally released.

Also, I had no idea this existed, I don’t know how I feel about it:

Rating: 9.0

Next, the graph, everybody loves a bloody graph!

Well I Never (Part 9)