Wednesday, July 30, 2008

splat splash splosh

I went on holiday and came back to a million spill e-mails, I've been though most of them and couldn't turn down the chance to get a swimming play list going, even though Boxstr has stopped my account by request.

On another account here are some swimming songs....
I love some of these so much..hope you enjoy them too....

Hot Chip
Swan Lake
Broken Social Scene
I am Kloot
Tom McRae
Bjork and Bronsky Quartet
Brother Brown
Nouvelle Vague

You've Come A Long Way

A long, long time ago:

Much, much later:

Oh, first one to mention Glastonbury gets a biscuit.

While I'm at it, here's a funny little thing I've been playing with

Bonus Tracks
Jay-Z vs Fela: Roc Boyz (MikeLove's Nigerian Gangster remix)

Anybody got other such transformations? I thought of John Lennon obviously, but that's all I came up with.

listen to those samples

Sorry, I know this is a long post, but has a song ever had better samples? It's Straight out the Jungle, by the Jungle Brothers...

BIll Withers


Grandmaster Flash

Wild Magnolias

James Brown

Manu Dibango

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When Onomatopaeia Goes Wrong!


Onomatopoeiac Songs!!?!!

The Onomatopoeia Challenge begins here!

We've already had:
Umm - Scritti Politti
How I Sang Dang - Arcie Bronson Outfit
Gobbledigook - Sigur Ros
Gesunteit - People Like Us
Pissing - Low

Boing Boom Tschak - Kraftwerk
from Shoegazer

And I'm going to add "Cannonball" by The Breeders, because it has the lyric: "Crash! I'm the last splash!" which is a double point score!!!

'Spillers: On your marks...set....GO!!!

More Swimming Songs!

"Swim" by Madder Rose

I loved Madder Rose when they were around, they released a coupe of brill albums in a row, and I saw them play quite a few times - they played the day after Kurt did 'imself in, and dedicated a cover of Sonic Youth's "Star Power" to him, which I found quite moving at the time. 

"The river's edge you jump right in
The current's strong it makes you spin
Your arms in a wild rotation
Your arms in a wild rotation

The truth's enough to set you afloat
Describe the truth as a yellow lifeboat
Admitting this you climb its ladder
But now the yellow boat
Just looks sadder"

Do we have enough swimming songs for a top ten yet? 

O Pfälzerland, wie schön bist du!

Hey everybody! Back in dear old Blighty after a short break or a long weekend (whichever way you want to look at it) spent in the stunningly-beautiful Pfalz. ToffeeGirl and I go there every second year and we just can't get enough of it - luckily, it's nowhere near the sea and there aren't hundreds of nightclubs - the result of which is, virtually no English tourists - not a kiss-me-quick hat in sight. It was a weekend of long walks up deeply wooded hills (they call them mountains but who am I to disabuse them?) with refreshing drinks available at the top - usually in a ruined castle. And when you come down from the mountains, you have the pleasure of driving (or walking) through the vineyards with buzzards and harriers soaring overhead - and then there are the villages with the Weingüte and Restaurants and the hundreds of House Martins and Swallows flying around. Wunderbar!

And before you ask, yes, I am fully aware that this is a music blog and is not primarily dedicated to holidays/travel - please bear with me - I am slowly but surely working my way towards the tenuous music link.

About twenty years ago I made a tape for my brother featuring lots of northern soul, Capitol and Stax tracks that I was listening to at the time. Since he was then living in Hackney, the tape became known as the Hackney Soul tape. Many years later, I made a CD version, took it on holiday (to Germany) and forced the whole family to listen to it as we drove around the beautiful countryside. The two little MissToffees loved it - so much so, that it's now become an integral part of our trips to the Pfalz and is known, rather incongruosly, as the German Soul CD.

Here are some highlights from said CD for you own listening pleasure. Some you'll already know - some may be new to you - all, I hope, will hit the spot.

Let me know what you think - and, of course, if you have your own favourite holiday sounds, do tell us what they are...


It's hot here. There's something about summer that makes you want to dive into some water. In our area, we have the option of joining a pool. But we never have. When it gets hot, sometimes we'll go over to Princeton and let the boys swim in the fountain, which is actually a very joyful experience, because there's good ice cream nearby, and because there are always children from all over the world there, and it's beautiful to see how little ones are completely uninhibited when it comes to making friends. And sometimes we go here... It's a creek, but in places it's deep enough for even Mr. Steenbeck (6'3" tall) to be immersed up to his chin.

So where does everyone else go swimming?

I couldn't think of any songs about swimming, but this is something I love that I'll never have a reason to post on RR.
La Folia, also called les folies d'espagne is a chord progression or ground bass that many different people wrote different variations on over the course of hundreds of years. (notably Vivaldi and Corelli). The one I posted is by Marin Marais and played on bass viol, which is an instrument I love. La Folia has been compared (for obvious reasons) to 12 bar blues or jazz arrangements, and I love it because it's beautiful, and some of the variations are actually ROCKIN. I have a few other versions--if anyone is interested in hearing, I will post them. Apologies if any of these facts are foggy, but foggy facts are my métier.
Marin Marais--La Folia
Martin Y Coll--Diferencias Sobre Las Folias
Corelli-- Violin Sonata In D Minor, Op. 5_12, _La Follia

And surely someone out there can think of some swimming songs...

Monday, July 28, 2008

i heart indie snobbery

Something over on the GU reminded me of this; it's very funny and I like to watch it about every 4 months or so....

It will appeal to any indie snobs out there (like me), or anyone who's been on the receiving end of snobbery about music...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

NOT for the squeamish!! (Seriously, you have been warned!)

At the express request of frogprincess, may I present to you a category winner from Cannes 2001 - Staplerfahrer Klaus - Der Erste Arbeitstag. Or, if your German is as good as mine - Forklift Driver Klaus - The First Day On The Job.

I have a couple of private copies (with English subtitles) of this because FLT operator training is 90% of what my company does, and I find it funny as hell [goneforeign? You most definitely WON'T!] Unbelievably you can buy a public-license version and use it as a training accompaniment video. I would never do that (a) because that version ups the cost by 10,000% for the same tape, and (b) ... well, watch for yourself . . . you just wouldn't would you? Enjoy:



And before you dismiss this as being outlandish for the sake of it, you should know that in the UK we STILL average twenty to thirty fatal accidents involving FLTs every single year!

Erm, lecture over. If you enjoyed that, head over to youtube and type in Friseuse Claudia or Elektriker Horst.

Now let's see if I've successfully embedded a youtube ...

Saki - Man or monkey?

Just in case any of you are still dithering about which book to take with you for those long, indolent days on the beach, may I be so bold as to make a recommendation? I can think of no better travel companion than the complete works of Saki. The confusion about the pseudonym of English writer Hector Hugh Munro is perhaps understandable. The most popular theory, indeed corroborated by his sister Ethel, is that the name Saki came from a character in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The fact that a Saki is also a small, mischevious monkey with a reputedly wicked temper is not without interest, given that animals play a dominant role in his works, and the sharp-tongued invariably win the day : the triumph of naked wit over brawn.
Saki is considered to be the consummate master of short stories and his first collection - Reginald - was published in 1904. He died in 1916, having enlisted in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. He was well over the age limit at the time and died of a sniper's bullet in the head, having uttered his last words: "Put that bloody cigarette out".
His stories are witty, satirical, often very dark and violent. But always recounted with a gleam in the eye and a profound sense of the ridiculousness of it all. They are often only two pages - short, short stories. And yet every word is weighed and its position in the sentence so finely calculated that he often succeeds in giving you the very essence of a character and their entire outlook on life in one line. His prose is that meticulous.
Saki's mother was killed in a bizarre accident: she was trampled by a cow in a country lane and as a result he was brought up by his aunts. His childhood was, by reports, not a happy one and his stories are often peopled by extremely unpleasant aunts and wily children trying to out-fox them. The vagaries of fate and chance are also major themes - not surprisingly. Animals and the superiority of animal cunning over human intelligence also figure frequently. Saki was a member of the wealthy upper middle class and his world is overrun by dowager duchesses who spend their summer holidays in Baden Baden or Le Touquet, often trying to shake off undesirable hangers-on. He was a true European who worked as Balkan correspondant for the Tory Morning Post from 1902 and could write knowledgeably about Vienna, Prague or Paris. He also spent part of his life in India, and so his stories are extremely diverse in their finely-observed geographical detail.
If I had to choose a favourite, it would be Sredni Vashtar, which best typifies his writing and thematic concerns. Read it and maybe the animal cunning and violence beneath the rigid formality of social nicety will fascinate you as much as it did me.
As for the music, I suggested a song which Ejay correctly named and Lady S. donded: Sympathique by Pink Martini. Now Saki's characters would undoubtedly enjoy sipping a Pink Martini in whatever European watering-hole they were visiting. And you'll agree, I think, that the song has such a twenties feel to it that it seems to fit Saki's universe perfectly...

Découvrez Pink Martini!

work songs

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Because being the decider is a tough job...

I can't Wait to get off work and see my baby--Tom Waits
Take THis Carriage Clock and Shove it--B&S
Funky Boss--Beastie Boys
Muleskinner Blues--Woody Guthrie
All Day Love Affair--Cee Lo
Wat About the Workin Class--LKJ
Work Song--Nellie McKay

need a laugh?

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fail owned pwnd pictures
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fail owned pwned pictures
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Dancey Schmancey? Too much like hard work!

(Eddy Clearwater - With thanks to tincanman for the picture)
OK, if I'm getting the hang of this, what follows are most of my best nominations so far this weekend. I've put in both versions of Easy Money even though RLJ has no chance of 2wks running, I've given you two of the Zutons songs as they're so different. Katrina & The Waves original of Going Down To Liverpool is much meatier than The Bangles, and we'll finish with Drive-By Truckers' industrial strength riff for Buttholeville. RR Socialisers: note that I HAVEN'T nominated or posted Swiss-metallers Krokus' Bedside Radio "Instead of going to the office, you're leaving town!" Still wincing over putting that on my CD almost 12 months later.

Eddy Clearwater - Lazy Woman
Lowell George - Easy Money
Rickie Lee Jones - Easy Money
Edie Brickell - In The Bath
Katrina And The Waves - Going Down To Liverpool
Blood Meridian - Work Hard, For What?
Richmond Fontaine - Exit 194B
The Zutons - Don't Get Caught
The Zutons - Family Of Leeches
Slobberbone - Lazy Guy
Thunder - Ball And Chain
Drive-By Truckers - Buttholeville

Tin emailed me that photo of Eddy Clearwater; I sent him a gig-going tale about the man in reply. If anyone wants to hear it ...

Hard Cash

As I said over on the Mothership, Hard Cash was a television series that was never shown, because the Beeb and Maggie weren't getting on too well at the time. But here's some of the music, which is all about the horrors of work under various kinds of oppression.

1 is Mrs Rita, sung by June Tabor
2 is Work Life Out to Keep Life In: Martin Carthy has added an extra verse to this trad. song
3 is The Guernsey Kitchen Porter, by Michael Marra
4 is Good With My Hands, by Christine Collister and Clive Gregson

Discover Various Artists!
Today's themed poetry courtesy of Philip Larkin:
A workshy slacker if ever there was one.

Why should I let the toad work

Squat on my life?

Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork

And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils

With its sickening poison

-Just for paying a few bills!

That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:

Lecturers, lispers,

Losers, loblolly-men, louts

-They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes

With fires in a bucket,

Eat windfalls and tinned sardines

-They seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,

Their unspeakable wives

Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough

To shout, Stuff your pension!

But I know, all too well, that's the stuff

That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like

Squats in me, too;

Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,

And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney

My way of getting

The fame and the girl and the money

All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other

One's spiritual truth;

But I do say it's hard to lose either,

When you have both.

Toads Revisited

Walking around in the park

Should feel better than work:

The lake, the sunshine,

The grass to lie on,

Blurred playground noises

Beyond black-stockinged nurses -

Not a bad place to be.

Yet it doesn't suit me.

Being one of the men

You meet of an afternoon:

Palsied old step-takers,

Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters,

Waxed-fleshed out-patients

Still vague from accidents,

And characters in long coats

Deep in the litter-baskets -All dodging the toad work

By being stupid or weak.

Think of being them!

Hearing the hours chime,

Watching the bread delivered,

The sun by clouds covered,

The children going home;

Think of being them,

Turning over their failures

By some bed of lobelias,

Nowhere to go but indoors,

Nor friends but empty chairs

-No, give me my in-tray,

My loaf-haired secretary,

My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir:

What else can I answer,

When the lights come on at four

At the end of another year?

Give me your arm, old toad;

Help me down Cemetery Road.

Philip Larkin

We Are All Prostitutes

This week's theme of anti-work songs fit's perfectly for one of my anti-heroes, Mark Stewart. I won't bore you with the biographical details as you can go here if interested:

What I love about Mark Stewart is that he is a true innovator with an uncompromising attitude. He was one of the first to put some funk in post-punk and one of the first to steal, mash-up, dub & overdub to create something unique, usually with an in-your- face political point. His live shows with the Maffia (= Tack>Head = The Sugarhill Gang) were astonishing. He has a new album "Edit" & is currently touring Europe. He is not everyone's cup of tea.

This week's playlist has lot's of Mark Stewart in it. Some sort of introduction to these things seems to generate more commentary, rather than my usual (lazy) practice of just sticking up the songs for people to walk away with/from. So we'll give that a try too.

1. Here's Johnny. Mr. & Mrs. Shoegazer Senior had this single with "The Blizzard" on the B side - so it represents the 1st musical respect Mum & Dad got from me. Also, am convinced that the single version was different to this one. Anyone, anyone, Bueller? 2. M.S. puts in his 1st appearance. 3. Anyone still here after that can listen to the easier listening version by Dub Syndicate. 4. The Congo's, LSP's finest production work on this album IMHO. Still not sure if this is an anti or pro work song? 5. Blue Orchids - mellower Fall spin-off 6. Mr Dury's 1st big hit. 7. M.S. again with The Pop Group & the title track, but this is a recent, insane remix by Adam Sky. 8. Tools You Can Trust grunting & probably operating DIY machinery in the studio. 9. Mr.Devoto wants to join in the fun & give up the farm work. 10. The Jam with a brave choice of single after a run of mega-hits. 11. M.S. to close. Like a fine wine he mellows (slightly) with age (put on some weight too, judging from the above photo).

Sixteen Tons
None Dare Call It Conspiracy
The Corporation
Bring the Mackaback
What A Waste
We Are All Prostitutes
Working & Shopping
Model Worker
Just Who Is The Five O'Clock Hero?
Blood Money 2


Well it seems to be acceptable to introduce new family members here so I'd like to introduce our latest member and by association, the newest Spill member, his name is 'Marley', he's a a lovely 8 week old male sable German Shepherd puppy, he arrived last Sunday.
We already have two dogs, Seamus, the world's largest German Shepherd and Jasmin a lovely female Boxer who you've already met. Seamus is large but very gentle, friendly, and totally non aggressive, I've never heard him growl. Jasmin is similar plus she's the comedian in the family, there's also two cats. It's been a while since we had a puppy in the house, Seamus, about 12 years ago, so it's going to be fun again. We named him Marley because that's a name we want to hear about the house on a daily basis and it fits; I thought this piece of music was appropriate for a christening.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Phantom Carriage

Here's a link to a clip from a silent film (1921) called The Phantom Carriage.

The clip features a new score (the original one was most probably lost) by Jonathan Richman, which I thought would be of interest. Its known that Jonathan has played both guitar and clarinet since childhood, but still you might not expect something like this from the man who brought you 'Road Runner' and 'My love is a flowers just beginning to bloom'.

Its noticeable to me, even when scoring a movie, that Jonathan's sound has an ancient and timeless quality - much like his best popular recordings.

Compare this with the soundtrack which accompanies the DVD released version, featuring a soundtrack prepared by Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehburg.
Which do you prefer?

Shameless branding

My current wallpaper is appropriate for this week's topic...and, spookily, the same person and the same brand (but a different picture) feature as my laptop's wallpaper. Ooer!

At work I'm not allowed wallpaper thanks to our evil IT guys. And we have an enforced screensaver about washing your hands. Did I complain? Yes, but it didn't get me anywhere. Except being labelled as a troublemaker.


My current wallpaper, a quite young ibex, totally at ease (thinking "I can climb a lot better than you, you silly guy with camera..."), at some 2800m above sea level, above Saas-Fee, Switzerland.....

In 6 weeks time I will be there again for my annual holiday, yes!!

ps. click on the pic to see it in its full glory

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A rare, yet shameless, traffic boosting gesture....

It's been a while since our last bare faced traffic raising gesture, so I thought that in order to keep our 3000+ monthly visitors happy, and to attract new readers, that I'd post up what is the current wallpaper on my laptop.....(it's dita von teese looking saucy for the benefit of google's text based searches:  i read recently that this sort of thing really works, even with the sophisticated genteel readership that the ' Spill has....) 

So, what do you 'Spillers have as your computer "wallpaper"? 

In another blatent attempt, here's the UK's current number one artiste covering last week's number one record. As we all know 1 x 1 = 1. Oh yes! 

That's Not My Name by Dizzee Rascal - Ting Tings Cover -


I am off on holiday tomorrow in the early hours, back in the UK on the 12th August. Me and Nicky and the two doggies.

A couple of nights in Paris then two weeks in a gite in Burgundy.

It is going to be great!

See you all soon!

Shoey's Pissed Off Playlist

In response to DsD's last post, here are some of my "venting" songs:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No I Have NOT Had A Good F**kin' Day

Anyone who recognises the above logo will know my pain. Anyone who doesn't ... don't ask.

The point is that I'm in a VERY black mood, and in these cases I have a bunch of songs that I use as pressure release valves. I can't say too many of you are going to like these - and be warned: swearing figures LARGE - but I'm using them as a test to see if I can make Boxstr work.

Now if you don't mind, I'm off to do my best 'Headbanging-Whirling-Dervish-Attacks-Air-Guitar-Whilst-Practising-Primal-Scream-Therapy' thang!

Damien Rice - Rootless Tree
Sass Jordan - Damaged
WGC - Let It Roll
Icicle Works - Shit Creek
Young Heart Attack - Mouthful Of Love
The Datsuns - MF From Hell
Th'Legendary Shack Shakers - Ichabod
The Bellrays - Stupid Fuckin' People
Alter Bridge - Metalingus

the girl who works in the record shop says i'm not avant garde enough

Last night I went to see Ballboy play live. 
Former Peel faves, chronically underrated, great lyrical songwriting in the vein of Belle and Sebastian, killer scots melancholia with added humour, great live band, fab back catalogue, funny and moving when they play live, also quite a regular mention on RR.

Two songs for you. 

Firstly "Avant Garde Music", because as Gordon explained last night, a song inspired by the girl who works in the record shop in Edinburgh accusing him of not being avant garde enough. I certainly know the record store, and I'm pretty sure I know who the girl was. Did Gordon then hook up with this mystery record store girl? The lyrics would suggest so:

"well we shot fake plastic ducks in the park 
and drank cheap plastic wine out of cheap plastic glasses until it got dark 
and the only thing we had to decide 
was whether and where we were going to sleep together that night" 

Secondly "Something Is Going To Happen Soon", because it was the best thing they played last night, and had me running to the girl selling their CDs shouting "give me the cd with that song on it!!!!" seconds after they'd finished playing the song. It's lyrically very interesting as when he sings "and the cellos kick in", they do indeed kick in; before he goes on to admit how open and emotionally naked he is on stage, and then proceeds to be as open as nearly any singer can be. A good moment of self awareness; very clever and effective indeed. 

"and the cellos kick in 
and the lights start to flash 
and everyone watching me 
can see right to my heart

surrounded by drink 
and surrounded by drunks 
i never knew 
what a mess you'd become

but you made yourself 
look great today 
but nobody noticed you except me 
and you never notice me anyway

and no-one will ever love you 
as much as i do 
no-one will ever love you 
like i do"

Avant Garde Music by Ballboy
Something's Going To Happen Soon by Ballboy

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday at the Cambridge Rock Festival

First time I've been to an all-day rock festival for more than 20 years - the last one was The Garden Party back in 1986.

The Cambridge Rock Festival (formerly the Rock and Beer Festival) took place in the unlikely venue of the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Godmanchester, just outside Huntingdon. It's certainly one of the so-called 'boutique' festivals, catering for the genres of music outside the fashionable mainstream. This one featured headliners Marillion (who ironically headlined The Garden Party back in 1986). With personal favourites Mostly Autumn, The Reasoning and Breathing Space also on the bill, this is one I just had to go to.

Given the vagaries of the British excuse for a summer, this one took place in an indoor arena. That turned out to be a large cow-shed like building, whose acoustics were actually a lot better than you'd expect.

With both Mostly Autumn, Breathing Space and The Reasoning all having overlapping fan bases, the festival saw the biggest gathering of Mostly Autumn fans since that fan convention last March in the caravan park near Bournemouth; an awful lot of familiar faces there. Add to that a bar with an extremely large selection of real ales, most of which I'd never heard of, so ordering a beer was a matter of choosing something at random.

Local blues band Taildragger opened the proceedings; competent and tight but rather generic; as a friend of mine remarked, blues bands all tend to sound the same. Bijoumiyo were rather better; a mix of funk and reggae basslines with psychedelic guitar, quite unlike anything else on the bill.

The first two acts played to a largely empty hall; clearly the prog fans had time their arrival to get there in time for Touchstone's set. I'd seen them a year and a bit ago supporting The Reasoning; frontwoman Kim Seviour's first ever gig, and that was a somewhat nervous performance. Today they played a confident and energetic set, mostly drawn from their album Discordant Dreams. Probably the proggiest band of the day, but with a hard-rock edge. You could tell they were clearly enjoying their time on stage, and went down well with the growing crowd. I think this performance probably earned them quite a few new fans.

Breathing Space played an absolute blinder. For the biggest gig of their career so far, they rose to the occasion with a superbly tight set, the best band of the first half of the day. Breathing Space have been a great live band this year; a bit poppy for some tastes, perhaps, showcasing Livvy Sparnenn's fantastic lead vocals, but there's still enough instrumental depth to keep prog fans interested. Aside from Livvy, the rest of the band shone too, especially guitarist Mark Rowan. Livvy's striking mermaid costume was definitely the stage outfit of the day.

John Otway's pub-rock meets standup comedy shtick isn't really my cup of tea, I'm afraid, and I missed part of his set in search of food. But I have to say his set closer of The Osmond's "Crazy Horses" with the theramin solo was entertaining.

The Reasoning's set was one of the most eagerly awaited of the day's lineup, their first gig with their new guitarist Owain Roberts. They played strong hard rocking set, mixing favourites from "Awakening", a great version of the Karnataka oldie "Talk to Me" with several songs from the forthcoming "Dark Angel", including the prog-metal masterpiece of the title track, and the live debut of one called 'Call Me God?'. Marillion's Steve Rothery guested with them for "Within Cold Glass". They did suffer from more than a few technical glitches and sound mix problems, which took the edge off things slightly, which meant they didn't quite top Breathing Space's earlier set.

I felt sorry for Jim and Geoffrey. As an acoustic duo (guitar and violin) they struggled to hold the attention of an audience that had been rocked out by the previous band, and despite being quite good, they died horribly. I'd love to see them in a small club venue, where might make more of an impression.

If the number of t-shirts was anything to go by, Mostly Autumn had the greatest fan support of any band on the bill. So many people were seriously annoyed when they got half-an-hour lopped off their set to allow the following band longer to set up. To make matters worse, problems with Bryan's guitar setup delayed the start, so the band ended up playing for just 40 minutes or so, to the intense disappointment of both the band and their legion of fans. But for that short set the band were absolutely on fire; a storming 'Fading Colours', a really intense 'Unoriginal Sin' and a fantastic 'Heroes'. Had they had the opportunity to play their originally planned setlist they would have been the band of the day without question.

In contrast, Andy Fairweather Low was the nadir of the day. As someone who's had a few hits aeons ago, and had since been an anonymous sidesman of other people, he had neither the charisma nor the material to play such a long set this high on the bill. His interminably long set seemed to consist mainly of 50s and 60s covers, with perfunctory takes on his few hits. As someone it's probably better not to name who it was that said "Who wants to listen to this wank? Just because he's been on Later with Jools Holland". Couldn't have put it better myself. Music for chin-stroking Mojo readers perhaps, not not music for the sort of Rock fans who made up this audience.

And so, headliners Marillion. A band I've been a fan of for longer than members of some bands lower down the bill have been alive, playing a 90-minute festival set. To be truthful this wasn't in the same league as the two awe-inspiring shows I saw in 2007; still good, but lacking the sort of intensity I've seen in past gigs. They played what amounted to a greatest hits set of the post-Fish era, favourites like 'Easter', their recent hit 'She's Gone', 'Afraid of Sunlight', 'King' and the encore 'Neverland'. Still very good, but for me at least failed to top the Mostlies, despite their truncated set.

While what happened to the Mostlies put a bit of a damper on an otherwise great day, in the end the event was bigger than any individual band. The whole festival had a relaxed air, members of many of the bands mingling with fans throughout the day, helped by the fact that there was no backstage bar. And there seemed to be no egos involved. That laid-back approach probably would not have worked at a bigger festival, but here it added to atmosphere; the whole thing felt like a fan convention of sorts. It made me wish I'd camped and made a weekend of it.


I've been constantly amazed by everything I read about the whole 'music festival' phenomenon in the UK, a couple of weeks ago there was an article in the G. with a list of those that were happening this summer that to me were unbelievable, there were possibly hundreds of events charging what seem to me to be exhorbitent prices scheduled outdoors come rain or shine. The pictures published in the G. cause me to wonder re. the sanity of those attending.

'Nuff said about all that, what I wanted to comment on is what was possibly THE ORIGINAL POPULAR MUSIC FESTIVAL, at least I can't think of any that precede it except for some classical events, it's The Newport Jazz Festival held annually in Newport Rhode Island, it's been held annually since 1954. There was an interesting film made about it in 1958, it features a who's who of jazz talent and is intercut with shots of the America's Cup sailboat races which were happening just offshore, it's called Jazz on a Summer's Day, it was directed by Bert Stern.

Specifically I want to deal with just one year, 1956, one band, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, playing just one tune, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue. It should have been a shoe in last week. Duke's popularity was in decline as was that of all the big bands in the mid '50's but George Wein, the event producer invited him to bring the band to Newport and it became an historic occasion.
In 1938 Duke wrote two short pieces to be played separately, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, for this event however he arranged for the tenor sax soloist with the band, Paul Gonsalves, to play a solo in the interval between the pieces, he told Paul to play as long as he felt comfortable.
Duke introduced the piece and led in on the piano, the band picked it up and it started to swing and then at about the four minute point Paul began his solo, very tentatively at first but gaining confidence as he played. He started to swing like mad and the audience was caught up in the excitement of the moment, what should have been a 5-6 minute piece was suddenly being stretched by the amazing tenor sax solo with the band members and Paul Gonsalves playing as they'd never played before, the audience was going nuts! George Wein sensing the possibility of a riot can be heard offstage telling Duke to end the piece, to shut it down but Duke looks the other way and the band takes it up to another level all the while with Paul still soloing. Finally he puts his horn down and the baton is picked up by Cat Anderson, the high note trumpet soloist who does nothing to ease the tension as it builds to a climax. When it finishes the audience erupts, there's a roaring, cheering and shouting that at the time went on for about 7 minutes, on the record it's shortened considerably. The entire event was broadcast live world-wide on The Voice of America with Willis Connover as the host, it was also recorded by Columbia records, I listened to VOA on my headphones in my bedroom in Suffolk.
Duke's picture was on the cover of the next issue of Time Magazine and his fortunes changed at that moment but....

Columbia realised before the concert ended that the mic that Paul Gonsalves was playing into was not on, he was being picked up on an adjacent mic but not clearly. What to do, they had a million seller on their hands and they couldn't use it. The concert was on the Saturday evening so they had Duke bring the orchestra to New York first thing Monday morning and they re-recorded it entirely in the studio and then mixed in the audience reaction from the live recording and released it as 'Live at Newport!' And then some years later when stereo had hit someone found the Voice of America recording in a cupboard, [with a good solo mic] so they were able to combine both versions to create a stereo version.

I have the original vinyl recording titled 'Ellington at Newport' and the updated double CD version which is titled 'Ellington at Newport' with the word 'complete' printed rather obscurely. If you want the full story of this event get the 'complete' version.

OK, so after that long winded into, put on the headphones, sit back and enjoy one of the all time great sax solos, Paul Gonsalves for about 13 minutes at Newport 1956.

dragonfly cake

I didn't want to leave everyone on tenterhooks as to how to make a dragonfly cake out of two 10 " rounds. But I'll be perfectly frank, I don't have any songs about dragonfly birthday cakes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Plea for Jonathan

Its time I made an appearance on the Spill I reckon and in honour of my first time, I feel I want to say a few words about my obvious love for the man Richman and his music.

Now it might seem to some like I praise the guy a little too often on RR or that I hold his work in too high esteem. Of course, one of the joys about RR is that its all personal, its all about a feeling you have for a particular sound or record, and where that sound takes you, in the end, is somewhere nobody else can travel in quite the same pair of shoes.

All I can tell you is that something happened to me one night at a Modern Lovers gig. I was 19 and went along to see the great Orange Juice play a now defunct and cheesy nightclub in Leicester town centre (next to the famous Clock Tower) called Mr Keisers in late Spring. I was right up for Edwin's band coming on, quite focused on what to expect. Perhaps that's why (in that eight-tenths empty club - it was still early to mid evening) I was completely taken aback when a group of about 6 Cali-looking hippies (many of them, middle-aged looking and at least one bearded) shuffled out onto a bare stage with instruments that made them seem like some buskers had arrived; a cool looking guy with an open neck shirt stood to the front and spoke into the microphone but, at the same time, at a distance from it, like it wasn't important. "Hello everyone! I'm Jonathan Richman and this is my band, The Modern Lovers and we're gonna play some songs for ya".

I was 19. Two years shy of making the move to University. We were there, all of us, expecting more of that left-field shilly-shallying which was early Eighties indie, in our black long sleeved t-shirts and our Bunnymen haircuts and our Pillows and Prayers late-sixties/early seventies nostalgia. Nothing prepared any of us for that look, that sound. For me, it was a revelation.

I had played the guitar since I was about 6, but never really got so into it until I was about 13 when I formed my first group. At that age though, you cant really expect to be taken seriously but I guess you could say that I was already something of a veteran of the band scene in general, but was still casting around for the influences that would mould me into who I really longed to be. Bobby Dylan had arrived at 17, stomping all over my world in cowboy boots and suede jacket, persuading me to try to look the 1964 version of him in 1983. But Jonathan Richman hit my world from a completely different angle.

The first song he played was 'The Beach'. We all shuffled closer to the stage. I remember crossing the room from the bar, almost unaware I was even doing it, drawn to this magnet I could feel. The volume was at a comfortable level and we could actually hear all the words; a weird sensation for a start. But it wasn't the volume, or the words (which had me laughing nervously at first - cautiously rechecking my cool as I did so) or the way that Jonathan accomplished himself so effortlessly there on the tiny stage. It was the joy. The sense of joy he and his band created was palpable in a way that related back to my first experiences with music. With my sister's Dansette and the countless Motown, old Rock'n'Roll and sixties pop singles she left lying all around the floor of her room when ever she was out (which was frequently, since she was 12 years older than me); with the first time I can remember listening to Radio 1 or far off Radio Luxembourg. With moving and shaking without fear of embarrassment behind a closed door as I listened to it all. Jonathan had that joy. That unashamed, unabashed, unalloyed joy which got me out of where I was and into the totally new space, which was Rock and Roll.

I knew I could never be Jonathan (I was from Oadby, Leicester) nor could I hope to emulate his sound, but nevertheless, I knew where it counts - in my heart - that I had found my champion.

I saw Jonathan many many times in the years since. Ive taken so many friends along and introduced them all to his 'sound' (not one failing to give me a hug at the end, even if they never did such a thing before) and he's pretty near always been on top form, unless there were cameras present or (worse) an audience giving off the kind of self-conscious vibe which Jojo has mentioned as being an anathema to his purpose. He never really let me down. He is also the one and only person I have ever written a fan letter to and posted it (it was just after the aforementioned gig and after hearing his 'Jonathan Sings' album fresh from the presses). About six months later, I received a postcard from somewhere called 'Grass Valley, California', thanking me for my 'nice letter', hand-written and signed by him personally. I also got a t-shirt, which he designed himself and which I wore almost daily for the next year. That was it. Sold.

So now i've unburdened myself, I will disappoint slightly by adding that I dont even have any Jonathan Richman records here with me (I am currently based in Budapest, as regular RR'er's will know). Sure, I listened to them so often that maybe it doesn't matter that much. But in the end, I like to believe, its the spirit, the heart of Jonathan Richman that endures with me to this day, even in the absence of his records, which I still cherish and keep locked up safe with all my others. I take a little piece of it everywhere I go and every time I pick up a guitar, he's there. Urging me to let go.



Yesterday Jo Stafford died, in 1952 she had a huge hit in England with this song, I was 18, working at my first job and I thought it was a wonderful song. It was Stafford's greatest hit, topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the first song by a female singer to top the UK chart). It first entered the chart on August 1, 1952 and remained there for 24 weeks.[2]
It was covered by Bob Dylan for the the 1994 movie Natural Born Killers. A version by Jason Wade was part of the soundtrack to the 2001 animated film Shrek. Rocker Tori Amos also sang the classic for the Julia Roberts film Mona Lisa Smile in 2003. Most recently, actress Rose McGowan sang it on the soundtrack for the Planet Terror segment of the 2007 movie Grindhouse.

It's a Vincent Black Lightning 1952

...and it's RT's most-requested song...
...and a song about having a shower...
...and a song of great social and political import...
...and a song about advertising signs (well, the chorus is anyway)...

....I want to ride my bicycle....

A picture of my favourite bike, my trusty, indestructable Gazelle MTB, as an introduction to this great video, extolling the virtues of the "Hop Supreme" bicycle, "Medway Wheelers" by the great Wild Billy Childish & the Buff Medways:

So what/who were the Medway Wheelers? It’s the tale of Billy’s Mum, June, & her exploits with her local cycle club, the Medway Wheelers, which she joined in 1944. June had a Hop Supreme cycle. Billy recalls with amusement the manufacturers claim that the bike was ‘made-to-measure’. Not quite the case – it was a man’s bike!

more brands

Brendan Benson
Hot Chip
DJ Yoda

Saturday, July 19, 2008

If I Were A Richman

Welcome to a brand new (geddit?) playlist featuring nothing but Jonathan Richman.

The beauty of this is twofold:

1. If you don't like Jonathan Richman then you don't need to bother with this and you can go straight on to the next (probably far more interesting) post from someone like ejaydee, nilpferd or steenbeck (par exemple) and...
2. If you do like Jonathan or you're willing to give him a chance then you're in for a treat!

I really hope the technology works - both Podbean and Deezer failed me tonight so I'm joining the Boxstr club and feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

I'll spare you the lengthy introductions this week - Jonathan tends to speak for himself. So, here we go: six tracks - one genius - how can you possibly go wrong?

Well after an unbelievable amount of frustration and an enormous amount of help from my wonderful fellow 'Spillers - I gave up and went back to Podbean which now seems to be working. God I hope this is worth it...

2 songs, no picture

Just a short list this week. There's Mississippi John Hurt's Coffee Blues, which seems to be some sort of version on Lovin Spoonful, and is beautiful and touching despite it's maxwell-house-pushing qualities. And then we have Fela ITT. ITT stands for International Telephone & Telegraph, but Fela uses it instead to mean International Thief Thief, and uses it as an example of all foreign companies that came in and stole from Africa. Sorry, should be able to explain this better, but I'm VERY TIRED.
Coffee Blues

Ready For Branding

Song 1 : "Letter From God To Man" - Scroobius Pip & Dan LeSac

This track samples "Planet Telex" by Radiohead quite heavily. "Planet Telex" was originally called "Planet Xerox", Radiohead changed the title fearing a lawsuit from the corporation. 
This sampling has been okayed by Radiohead, which I believe is a rare feat for anyone to achieve. What I like most about this track is the anger in Scroobius Pip's voice towards the end of the song, the like of which hasn't been heard since prime period Eminem (remember him?)

Song 2: "Blue Plastic Bags" by Malcolm Middleton

Is so good, I'm posting it again, as it mentions "Six bottles of Stella, Jacob's Creek, and twenty fags" , as well as hiding self help books inside Heat magazine to avoid the shame. 
There's an interesting duality to this song, the tongue is in the cheek when he sings "sing along with the sad songs" and sends up miserablism. But then again, if you are wanting some proper good miserablism, this song is perfect too. Works on two levels, eh? 

Letter From God To Man by Scroobius Pip and Radiohead
Blue Plastic Bags by Malcolm Middleton

RU lovin' it? - FP's brand-named playlist

I loved this week's theme as you can't deezer it! You really have to trawl the grey matter for those elusive songs... I think we were all off on fairly fruitful tracks of reflection: cars, alcohol, and cigarattes yielding the most suggestions. How rock n' roll...
This week's playlist starts off with two hymns to bling: Sister Sledge's "He's the greatest dancer" name-checks the brands of clothing in any savvy gent's wardrobe (in the mid 70s anyway), and JLo croons about Benzes and Rollys (that's Mercedes and Rolex to you, sir) while insisting that her 'love won't cost a thing'. Hum. Neil Hannon then extols the virtues of coach travel in a pithy account of a journey on a National Express bus. My favourite 'soon to be very famous indeed' French band, Jack the Ripper, provide a fairly conclusive list of the cigarette brands that may cause the lung cancer of which they sing. It is indeed a crime that I have never had an Elvis Costello song in a playlist, so I've put this right with 'Hoover Factory'. A nice bit of just discovered deep house gets 'Rolls Royce' into the list and some acid jazz brings in the legendary Hammond Organ. Two French songtrels, Bardot and the divine Charlotte respectively, give us Harley Davidson (written, of course by Charlotte's dad) and the name of an ill-fated Air France flight. We then fly north to Sweden for Eskobar's 'Champagne' and ABBA's Super Trouper which I was tickled to discover, for the purposes of this blog, really is a registred trade-mark of follow spots - those huge lights which follow you around on stage.
A bonus track and a question: the relationship between music and advertising is often a fraught one. Musicians are accused of 'selling out' if they lend their songs to adverts. And yet there's no denying that you can actually discover music via adverts, so it cuts both ways. I discovered the song "Turn on, tune in, cop out" by Freak Power in an intriguing advert which features a taxi driver coming on to his glamourous passenger, until he realises she is a he...
It's at the end of the list.
But what we really want to know is: Have you discovered any bands through adverts or their link to a brand name? Or have you been horrified when one of your favourites took the ad man's dollar?

Découvrez Sister Sledge!


A note for Ms. Cauliflower, re. the Ry Cooder tape I need to know the size of the reel, you hinted at 101/2", stereo or mono, the speed it was recorded at, and the format it's in; If it's on a reel it's ok, if it's a pancake I don't have the where-with-all to load it, My Revox has two speeds 3 3/4" & 7 1/2" ips, if it's 15ips I can't handle it.

I pulled my Revox A77 back into service and connected it into my Mac and dubbed an old tape from my father to CD, it worked fine.
I must sing the praises of Revox, a division of Studer; I bought this machine in 1970 for about $500, it had a lifetime warranty, consequently I took in to their service unit on Hollywood Blvd annually for a check up. At one point I owned 3 of these, not sure why.
I just checked eBay and they're still asking more than I paid new!

This has caused me to think about the entire process of recording audio, I bought my first recorder, a cheap Phillips unit, in about 1953, I immediately hooked it into AFN and Radio Luxembourg. When I moved to the US I bought a cheap consumer grade Wollensak, I later moved up to Revox. When I think back I realise that I've always had at least one recorder in my music system whether it's been a cassette, a VHS, an open reel or a mini disc, and more lately my hard disc. If I hear of something of interest coming on I hit 'Record', I've got a huge archive of tapes and discs, most of them logged into the Mac.

Anybody else this obsessive?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now That's What I call Brews Hic.

The Pooh Sticks
Black Grape
Eugene McGuinnes
Jeffrey Lewis
Ms.John Soda
Chris TT

Blast First the pooh sticks wont sign for them cos their music doesn’t make your ears bleed- probably correct at the time.. many other labels name checked too.
Dress me up in Stussy.
Blake Grape say put on ya Reeboks and play…tennis.
Don’t lose your child in Tesco they sell them for a pound.
They have Nick Cave Dolls…Cool.
Jeff Lewis doing 12 Crass covers is just Genius.
Technicolor would have been put forward if I had been back for last weeks.
Sellotape give you a Sunday morning student house a decade back.
Jarvis sorts out Disney time…

Persona Non Grata

Distraught isn't the word for it. It seems I am no longer welcome on Readers Recommend as any attempt to post is referred to the Moderator and never thereafter comes to light. Any attempts to contact the Guardian have been met with stony silence - anything addressed to the 'registration' help email address is returned as a non-delivery notice. I don't know if the reason is related to the fact that I post from the Gulf. I can't imagine why that should be so, the UAE is quite idyllic apart from the fact we are singed just looking out of the window by the scorching heat. Anyway, I'll put my suggestions on here and anyone is welcome to plunder or forward them should they wish. The Judds track is particularly fine.

John Deere Tractor - The Judds
Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
Kodak Ghosts - Michael Chapman
Mr and Mrs Mickey - The Bonzos congratulate Mickey Mouse
The Jeepster - Marc Bolan
and, tenuously,
Parlaphone - Erik Truffaz

Here's my Jeepster ploughing through the flooded Al Ain wadi in 2004, back in the days when it still rained here.

Off on me hols for a month. Looking forward to rostilje and beer in Belgrade and stotties and beer in Newcastle.