Tuesday, June 30, 2009

calling the 'Spill police

Hello, Spillers all. Hmmm... I received a $25 gift card from iTunes for my birthday. Now, I haven't bought a thing from iTUnes since a certain McFlah said he'd never paid for an mp3. But this seems like an interesting opportunity, because there are things it's hard to find elsewhere. So what should I get? I can tell you I've spent the day listening to spotify, and the force of Saneshane, Nilpferd, Ejay, Mnemonic and others is strong with me. I listened to a lot of Aesop Rock (can you recommend an album, SS?) Cannibal Ox, Eddie Harris (I love Listen Here, what album would you recommend, Nilpferd?) Colette Magny, DJ Mehdi (Can't find a full album), Tabu ley Rochereau... And this last is where the real questions start, because I read a bit about Tabu Ley Rochereau (Can you recommend an album, ejay?) and then I started listening to Wendo Kolosoy (and I love it)... Can ejay, or goneforeign, or anybody else that knows these things tell me where to go next with all this? Ahem. I suppose I'm asking for some direction with the vast vast vast afropop universe.

But even if you have no interest in that--if you had a $25 iTunes gift card, what would you do with it? (It's pretty large, you could probably use it as the base for a lego skyscraper.)

All That Jazz #3: Blues

Jazz and the blues. There's little disagreement about their close relationship, their common origins and their frequent cross-overs. Considerably more controversial is the question of whether it's true, as some argue, that if you can't play the blues then you can't play jazz, or that jazz without some element of the blues ceases to be jazz. That tends on the face of it to rule out the possibility of any genuine European or other non-American jazz, and often gets brought into the argument that white men can't really play jazz - because of course white men can't really play the blues.

One of the reasons this is so arguable is that there's almost as much disagreement about the nature of 'the blues' as there is about the true essence of jazz, and hence considerable difficulty in deciding whether or not a particular track has blues in it or not. I Don't Know What Kind of Blues I Got, as the Duke Ellington song put it. Is it the long-suffering, "I woke up this mornin' and wished I was dead" misery lyrics? Is it the classic twelve-bar, I-IV-I-V-IV-I structure - and how far can you start substituting more complex chords into that structure, as Wayne Shorter does, before it ceases to be blues? Is it the regular use of the blues and pentatonic scales in improvisation, and how do you stop that becoming a cliche except by using some other scales and thus ceasing to be blues? Is it the blues scream and its instrumental equivalents, the microtones and dissonance - and at what point does that cease to be blues and start turning into nasty atonal free jazz?

All of these tracks, I think, show their links to the blues pretty clearly, whether in formal terms (Shorter's classic Footprints or the near-pastiche of Miroslav Vitous and Jan Garbarek, both using variants of the standard chord structure) or in terms of their 'feel' (a track from Mingus' Blues and Roots album, recorded specifically to show that he could do roots music as well as the more sophisticated and elaborate compositions he was best known for in 1959, and, sorry GF, Ornette Coleman, for me one of the bluesiest jazz musicians going). The real challenge would be to find a track that doesn't have any blues influence at all and yet is still recognisably and unarguably jazz, but I'll have to think about that one. Modern Jazz Quartet, maybe.

For all those of you who were hoping that I'd forgotten all about this; sorry, just been rather busy recently...

Pixies news and gratuitous cat shot!

Just read this and wowee, Doolittle! Exciting! And Mnemonic mentioned that I should post a pic or two of Dani, our insane, characterful rescue cat, so here she is, napping in the poppies.


MONDAY, June 29, 2009 -- To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their 1989 album Doolittle, the Pixies - Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering - will embark on a very special tour this fall - the Doolittle Tour - which will kick off with two nights at the Olympia in Dublin, Ireland on October 1 and 2. Tickets for all dates (listed below) go on sale this Friday, July 3 at 9AM.

For the Doolittle Tour, the Pixies will perform all of the songs from Doolittle and its related B-sides. Pixies' classics such as "Debaser," "Wave of Mutilation," "Here Comes Your Man," "Hey," and "Gouge Away" are all on Doolittle's track listing.

"We wanted to do something special for Doolittle's 20th anniversary," said Black Francis, "and we thought his was a good opportunity to play all of the songs from that album, something we don't normally do at a regular gig."

With the first date still three months away, the band is brainstorming on Doolittle-related surprises that will also comprise the nights' entertainment.

Dates for the Pixies' Doolittle Tour, and appropriate links to purchase tickets are as follows:

1 Olympia, Dublin, Ireland www.ticketmaster.ie
2 Olympia, Dublin, Ireland www.ticketmaster.ie
4 SECC - Hall 4, Glasgow, Scotland www.gigsinscotland.com
6 Brixton Academy, London, England www.gigsandtours.com
7 Brixton Academy, London, England www.gigsandtours.com
8 Brixton Academy, London, England www.gigsandtours.com
9 Brixton Academy, London, England www.gigsandtours.com
11 Jahrhunderhalle, Frankfurt, Germany www.fkpscorpio.com
13 Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Holland www.livenation.nl
14 Forest National, Brussels, Belgium www.proximusgoformusic.be
15 Zenith, Paris, France www.avosbillets.com

And now a little something for the grandmas and grandpas in the crowd

Wolfgang’s Vault: A free treasure trove of live rock performances, the Vault acquired the Bill Graham Presents master recordings of live concerts from the Fillmore East and Winterland between 1965 and the late 1980s.
Added to that are recordings of the King Biscuit Flower Hour; the Record Plant and Dawson Sound catalogs; and modern sounds from Daytrotter and Noise Pop. Everything from the Allman Brothers to Zookeeper–all free.

A little light relief

When I was a little kid, and a big fan of musicals, I remember wishing that real life was something more like this.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I thought that this week, given the RR topic, we'd be inundated with pet pics, Shane had a go as did Carole and Shoey, but it never took off the way cats did, have we exhausted the subject? So to get my best mates their international internet 15 mins of fame here they are, Seamus, Jasmine, Marley, Biko, Chips and the brown cat.

Seamus is the world's best dog, no argument, he's a German Shepherd, about 12+ years old, we've had him since a pup, he's amazingly intelligent and does everything except speak English. That nose is like radar, ditto those ears; I used to pull a weed and toss it out into the field, 40-50ft and he'd chase after it with his nose glued to the ground going round and round in ever decreasing circles until he found it, then he'd bring it back to me. All that based on the fact that I'd touched it for about a second! During all that recent Pink Floyd listening I didn't pick up on the 'Seamus' cut on the Meddle album until it was mentioned at RR, my Seamus does a way better wolf howl than the PF dog, everytime an ambulance goes by it triggers him and Marley together.

Jasmine was the runt of the litter so we got her free, she's his best friend and has an absolutely wonderful personality, she doesn't just wag her tail ecstatically to greet you, she wags the entire read end. She goes insane. The frog was also her best fiend for a while, totally inseparable.

Marley you met about 10 months ago, now he's working at becoming a handsome young man, we bought him so there would be a continuity when Seamus died, he's not as smart but he's going to be OK.

Biko; he adopted us in Long Beach in about 1988, he was an alley cat, thin as a rail and used to eating out of trashcans, when he found us he thought he'd died and gone to cat heaven; a warm bed and regular meals. We used to travel a lot in an RV, he came everywhere with us, he'd prowl backwards and forwards across the 6ft wide dashboard absolutely intrigued with that huge world out there. He died of old age some years ago but is very fondly remembered.

Chips, AKA Sascha depending on who's talking to him thinks he's a dog, he follows me everywhere, if I go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea he'll follow me and sit at my feet 'til I'm done, then he'll follow me back; he spends a lot of time sitting on my lap having his ears rubbed when I'm at the computer.

BrownCat is very afraid of something, probably from a prior lifetime, he sleeps upstairs all the time only showing his face at meal times, I'm trying to get him to let me get close to him, sometimes he lets me touch him.

OK, so there they are, I think if you click on 'em they'll get bigger, does anybody else have pets to share?

Count this as a bonus ps; I recently came across this pic in my photo file. I've long been an admirer of Morton Subotnik, one of the early electronic musicians, in the late 80's I saw this picture of him in the LA Times, I couldn't believe it, he looked exactly like me, so I had a friend take this pic of me in the same pose, I always wanted to send it to him but never did.

What is this "tape" of which you speak?

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day 

Yes, the Beeb gave a 13yr old a gen1 walkman to have instead of his mp3 player for a week. You can read more here. Quite sweet, really. 

Anyone had any similar old tech/new tech experiences lately? 

Breathing Space, The Intake Club, Mansfield

Olivia Sparnenn at The Intake Club, Mansfield
Olivia Sparnenn

In CaroleBristol's review of Mostly Autumn at Gloucester, she remarked that it would have been good for backing singer Olivia Sparnenn to have a bigger role.

In addition to being Mostly Autumn's backing singer, Olivia also fronts Breathing Space, a band she put together with Mostly Autumn keyboard player Iain Jennings in 2005. What was originally a side project took on a life of it's own when Iain left Mostly Autumn at the beginning of 2006, but they have continued recording and touring even after Iain rejoined his old band at the beginning of last year.

Over the past couple of years Olivia Sparnenn has got better and better as a vocalist and frontwoman. Indeed, she auditioned and made the shortlist for the gig with Finnish symphonic metallers Nightwish, and I still think she's better than the singer who finally did get the job.

Many fans of the band were saddened at the unexpected departure of Breathing Space's guitarist Mark Rowen at the beginning of the year due to good old 'musical differences' (I'll say no more). His replacement was none other than Mostly Autumn's second guitarist, Liam Davidson.

Liam Davidson at the Intake Club, Mansfield
Liam Davidson

Changing just one band member has transformed the band's sound far more that I'd expected. Mark Rowen's economical jazz-tinged playing was a major element of Breathing Space's sound, and Liam has a very different style. With Mostly Autumn he's always very much in the background, but I've always thought he's a far better guitarist than many people realise. Given the chance in the spotlight shows just how good he can playing lead. He doesn't try to copy Mark's solos note-for-note, instead using the basic structure as a template for solos of his own.

The result is a far rawer and rockier band, which actually suits Olivia Sparnenn's powerful vocal style very well. Many of the big soaring ballads and jazz-rock jams that epitomised the album "Coming Up for Air" have been retired from the set in favour of guitar-driven hard rock numbers, turning the overall energy level of the set up several notches. A surprise was the Mostly Autumn standard "Never the Rainbow", which I'd not heard Breathing Space play live before.

The set included several new songs from the forthcoming album "Below the Radar". The title track has been in the setlist for a while, but the standout of the new numbers has to be the encore, "Questioning Eyes", a huge soaring and emotionally moving epic in the same league as Iain's Mostly Autumn classics "The Gap Is Too Wide" or "Carpe Diem".

It's a pity a band this good isn't better known; they deserve far better than playing to less than a hundred people in a small club in Mansfield.


I had a (n enforced!) afternoon off work today. Ah...I'll do some tidying up, maybe read a little, then pop to the shops and get dinner ready for when Mrs Japanther comes back from work, I thought.

Halfway through the afternoon I thought, I know, I'll just re-organise my entire record collection quickly, i've been meaning to do that for ages.....cue, two hours later with me splayed out on the floor with stacks of unsorted vinyl around me. It's now more of a mess than when I started as I've just shoved it all back hastily in order to get dinner ready in time (still not done it yet!).

As we can't ask these kind of things in the EOTWQ, I'll ask here. How does it go in your place? Alphabetical? Genre? Chronological?Most played?Shove the embarrassing ones in the corner?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Bunny Run

Inspired by this week's theme, but otherwise entirely irrelevant, is the story of the Bunny Run. The drama group I was in in Milton Keynes was famous for its local documentaries, and we did one about life in Stony Stratford in the 1920s and 30s. This is what some Stony residents remembered:

"Sundays, we used to walk the High Street. Everybody did. It was the highlight of the week…

Up Stratford High Street, on Sunday nights, they used to call it “The Bunny Run”. You’d walk up and down, talk to girls, Sometimes, in the summer, you walked across the fields to Cosgrove…

They used to go and stand about in the shop doorways and they used to reckon that, if you walked up the “Bunny Run”, eventually you’d get a young man. This is going back about 1936 or ’37. It was like a promenade at the seaside. If you’d got a new coat or anything new, you had to appear…

I think there were some people in them days, met their partners on the “Bunny Run”…

Sergeant Rollings would come by. “Come along. Out of those doorways.”…

If any of the shopkeepers didn’t want it, they used to put a little gate across the front of the shop, so you didn’t go in the doorway. I remember Grafton Cycles put in a little gate, so no one could go in their doorway. Oh dear. When you think about it!...

The young fellows from Deanshanger, Stony Stratford and Wolverton would all walk the “Bunny Run” as we used to call it. We all used to walk and smile and nod and maybe have a word with someone and nothing ever went beyond that. I suppose, through talking to boys like that, you sort of got to know them. You might have a date with a boy and go out for a walk with him. That would be the start and then it led to courtship. Or you just had a date, where nothing came of it, and you sort of looked around somewhere else. That was a great pleasure; because that was one of the ways we really met boys unless we went to dances…"

Any courtship rituals in your neck of the woods?

The Bunny Run - the Living Archive Band

AOTW - 24 Years of Hunger

The last two weeks of AOTW have been spent discussing the pros and cons of two very well known albums (namely Pet Sounds - how prophetic was that? - and Dark Side of the Moon - Songs About Large Objects Orbiting The Earth next week?) so I thought it would be wise to choose an album that most of you probably won't be familiar with.

Eg & Alice were perhaps an unlikely duo - Francis 'Eg' White was, along with his brother David, a founder member of Brother Beyond (you'll be relieved to know that he left the band before the collective terrors of Stock, Aitken and Waterman descended upon them) and then teamed up with former BMX champion Alice Temple to record a truly remarkable album, called 24 Years of Hunger. It's a major Toffee favourite, dating from 1991 but still sounding as fresh today as it did then.

The basic style and content won't come as too much of a surprise to those of you who are familiar with the sort of music I like. If you only listen to one track, let it be Indian but of course, I encourage you to give it all a whirl. Let me know what you think.

In A Cold Way
Mystery Man
And I Have Seen Myself
So High, So Low
New Year's Eve
Doesn't Mean That Much To Me
I Wish

Let's just hope the links work ...


Old Blue
Alligator Eating Dog
Dog Treat
Pepe Hush
The Dog Song
Ding Dog
I Wanna Be Your Dog
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Dog On Wheels
I Love My Car
Animal in Man
Quiet Dog
I'll Be Around

hi ho hi ho, it's off to the mine we go

Data mining seems such a naughty thing, but most tech is neither good nor bad; its all in how it is used.

Take Marconius' wonderful index of all things RR, which in a sense mines data from several sources into one great resource for us RR folk. That's pretty much a mechanical labor of love; no one's going to write a program to automate for such a small group.

But the folks at LyricMiner have apparently been thinking along the same lines as Marconius, and think they have a way to tap into the growing mixtape/playlist trend.

Their almost-out utility will be free at least at first, and runs on Mac, Linux or Windows. What it does is scan your music collection, checks it against 3 large on-line lyric databases, and creates a searchable keyword file. Because it is cataloguing only words, it is a realtively small text fie. It takes about an hour to catalogue 30,000 song files, and after that its miscroseconds. (There is a 'watch folder' option to automatically add new songs to the catalogue.

I'll use this week's RR topic to illustrate. Use 'pets' for instance, and it'll give you a list of songs in your collecion that mention pets. It also uses a synonym and alternate spellings database to suggest other likely choices, PLUS - and I think this is sheer brilliance - it has some algorithm thingee which lets its servers monitor reputable sites dedicated to song meaning discussions, and from that adds other songs from your collection likely to be about the keyword.

And the list is ranked by likely matches. Eerie? Just a bit? But it's pretty amazing. You can have a sneak preview here.


Is this broken?

I uploaded a few tracks but they aren't visible. There is a message that says

- Some files maybe showing however cannot be accessed, this is currently being fixed.

but that's been there for days.

If I put the tracks in Dropbox, could I then make them into a playlist forr a quiz here?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

walkin' the dinosaurs

"you think your pitbulls are hard.. meet fifi, fluffy, dinky, rara and REX.. my likkle babies"

exquisitely on topic to start with.. just not like me at all... but I did have to finish with 'She Purred While I Grrrd' whatever you think of the song and the fact that it doesn't fit a pets theme.. what a title.
Had to miss out loads to keep it sensible..

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monkey riding

I've been thinking about the different ways in which we humans invite or coerce other species to share our lives. There've been a couple of songs about dancing bears on the Mothership, and this monkey I think probably didn't choose to ride that bike - so they're making money for their humans, but of course they may have other more petlike roles when they're off duty. Then there are the trophy pets, like Paris Hilton's handbag chihuahua; or those monkeys that people have instead of children - there was a documentary about some of them on the telly a couple of weeks ago. Here are some other ways:

Dogsong aka Sleep Dog Lullaby - the Be Good Tanyas
Black Cat - Maggie Holland
Bull Dog - the Shangri Las
The Falcon - Mimi and Richard Farina
Hellhounds - the Gourds
Cats Of Joy - Slosinger Redbury
Monkey Riding - the Cock and Bull Band

Steenbeck's "cousin francais"

May I introduce you to Steenbeck's French cousin. This is an Atlas. As you all know by now, a "Steenbeck" is not only our faithful, just-turned-40 (JUST) US of A correspondent or indeed a beautiful dog, but also a flatbed film editing machine. It serves to view your rushes and synch up the sound - or it did on the good old days when people still shot on film. Sniff. Anyway. I was at a "do" at our local TV station the other night and spotted this beauty in the corner. It is, in fact, the machine I edited my final year short film on as I came out to France with my rushes in my suitcase - got the job before I'd finished my studies y'see. And the director of the local TV station very kindly let me go down into the cellar every night after work and finish my film on this beauty. And now they have it exposed in the corner....
(Deep breath)
(Mental note to self: Must practice more on Final Cut...)


Pets On Parade

These are my Westies, Maisie and Daisy, when they were tiny puppies.

This was taken last Summer on holiday in Burgundy, Maisie is at the front. and the last picture is the pair of them tired out after a long day being cute and doggy.

They are getting on for three years old now. They are sisters and we got them as Christmas presents to ourselves in 2006. We love them to bits and are a pair of sad doting Mummies to them.

We had them vaccinated against rabies so we can take them on holidays with us, which is wonderful because I hate being away from them. They are well travelled doggies and we are taking them to the Loire Valley in September.

Pet Sounds 2


Me Animal


A Dog's Life
Dog Meat
The Girls And The Dogs
No Dog Barks


Jump At The Cats
Tipsy Cat
Tommy The Cat


All The Pretty Little Horses
Cowboy Without A Horse

Monkeys &, erm, a Shark

I Don't Want To Live With Monkeys
Monkey vs. Shark

Hey Ms. SteenB.. all of us think you might be getting younger in the morning!

"I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled"

(I can't quite link this properly at the moment.. but it explains why each track links to the next.. in a mammoth 'Spill chain)
Captain Badass
Woke Up This Morning (Sopranos Mix)
Chasing the Dragon
Star Anis
Shining Star
Medly - Good Times/ Rappers Delight
Until The Lion Learns To Speak
Pass The Peas
Get The Funk Out
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Gewn Ni Gorffen
We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Daddy's Speeding
I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire
Mix Up Matrimony
There Will Always Be
Another Man's Rain
Rhythm Of The Rain
Jerry Weintraub
To Live Is To Fly
Hillbilly Willie's Blues
In the sunshine
Call My Name Out
Man Gave Names To All The Animals
Baffling Smoke Signal
What A See (Tommy "Tikk Takk" Piper Mix)
Ciocarlia Si Suite
Unpronounceable Name

Dorothy At Forty
Over the Rainbow
The Pebble And The Man
Byrds Turn To Stone
The Littlest Birds
Oh No
I Don't Know
Editions Of You
New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
Bird Song
Light Flight
African Night Flight
Soul Flower (Remix)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How's Spotify doing. First numbers released

Statements seen by the highly rated UK tech blog "The Register" indicate Spotify makes just 14p per user from its advertising-supported business.

The figures do confirm Spotify's explosive growth - topping half a million registered users in the UK in May from a standing start in January.

But revenues at this stage are negligible. Advertising income was just over £82,000 last month, hence the 14p figure. The takeup of the tenner-a-month subscription program is small, and as a percentage of users, is falling.

Fewer than 17,000 UK users were signed up to Spotify Premium in May.

It's early days for Spotify, and its potential is largely untapped. Spotify has yet to make its Premium service compelling; currently, it merely removes the already-unobtrusive advertisements. An offline version could be one way of luring subscribers - the mobile Spotify caches songs to be played offline, with iTunes-like easy synchronisation. An iPhone version is in the works, the company has confirmed.

Michael Jackson Dead?

Right now, as I type this, Michael Jackson is like that famous cat in that famous hypothetical experiment. 
This has lead me to think about the way recently, in the run-up to his London "come-back" gigs, that everyone seems to have forgotten the controversy that has dogged Jacko in the last decade. I'm not sure if giving children alcohol whilst they're having a sleepover at your house is now acceptable? Or whether the large and frequent out-of-court settlements point to anything? Bu still, the way the radio is talking now, it seems like it doesn't matter in the long-run. 
This leads to a question that has interested me for about the last 17 years: 

Should an artist's art be judged by how they have acted in their personal life? 

Should Salvador Dali's art be shunned because he tried to rape one of his models? 
Should Egon Scheile's art be shunned because he had a penchant for underage girls? 
Should Gary Glitter's art be shunned for similar reasons? 
Should Paul Gaugin's art be shunned because he had a thing for exploiting underage natives from his trips abroad? 
Should Jackson Pollock's art be shunned because he was an murdering alcoholic? 
Should Michael Jackson's art be.....

RIP Swells

One of the only music journos of any note of the last 20 years has died. 

Steven Wells used to write for the NME, and was their most radical writer, even when surrounded by fawning sycophants, he stayed true to his anarchic ideals - and his articles WERE NEVER BORING. 

He also directed the Manics clip above, which is bloody ace. 

Swells wouldn't like fawning sycophantic elegies, so I'm just gonna say, his stuff was around since i started reading the music press at 14, and I always thought it was (often wrong) but fucking awesome nonetheless. 

Swells struggled with Hodgekins Lymphoma, that eventually got the better of him. He wrote this amazing article about it a short while ago. 

A Message From The Beach

Following on from the mega-successful re-listening of "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys, the poet Stephen Kalinich wrote in to us, to explain how the Beach Boys' song "Little Bird" came about: 

"Thank you so much for including Little Bird.
I was sitting at his piano on Sunset 14400 Sunset Boulevard and I saw a bird on a tree branch and the lyric  came bursting out of me.I showed it to Dennis..we were inspired.  Around 3 AM he called me in 1968 and played me the song we had worked on that day and we both got chills.It was his first Beach Boy song and mine as well.It was a magical moment an it seems like only yesterday.It still gives me chills and I am still at it."  
Stephen also wrote many other Beach Boys songs, if you would like to find out more about what he's up to, visit his website by clicking here
The excellent record label Light In The Attic, home to one of my favourite ever bands The Black Angels, releases some of his stuff, a free mp3 can be heard below:

Be Still by Stephen John Kalinich


I heard this song on the radio yesterday, and I just love it. It's El Loco Cha Cha by René Touzet. Those horns!! It also fits into my semi-obsession with making musical connections, and discovering the origins of music we take at face value as "american" because it's Cuban, but can you guess which well-known and oft-recorded song it predated?

Here's a hint...

Wot No Questions?

Well it's the end of the RR /'Spill week & I see no questions. Call me a boring traditionalist, but feel we should have some. But it's getting late, so rather than compose a thoughtful, original piece, I'm going to nick them from "Inside The Actor's Studio" & as beardy Lipton stole them from Bernard Pivot who ripped-off Marcel Proust, there should be no complaints. Don't know if you get this show in Europea, but it always amazes me how El Beardo manages to be equally fawning towards a Merryl or a Keanu. Anyhow, here's a little video demo of how it's done:

Here are the questions:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Twice the questions, half the effort. Over to you:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

EXTINCT old timer!

Dinosaur on the Ark
Go Go Ninja Dinosaur
Dinosaur Heart
you'll have cake later.. so here's some Dinosaur jr. crumble.
(obviously while working you have to think of any mentions of dinos in song.. and if you see double in the picture at all you've had too many drams for lunch)

Shoey's Album Of the Month -June

What, year half-over already? Anyway, time for a track from my favorite AOTM (as I'm in a good mood, I'll re-up the previous 5 too).


This Man is about to show you the future, and it's Blimpy's Birthday

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Let's get personal

Often, a piece of music we really love can speak to us so powerfully, it almost feels like it describes some part of our deeper selves. Sometimes that's a part of ourselves we couldn't even hope to put into our own words even if we wanted to; and anyway, the music does it so much better, so why not let it?

If I had to pick one 'track' out which does this job for me, its actually not a song at all, but a kind of poem. When I heard this one through for the first time, it was like all time stood still on me. I know some of you are not such big Dylan fans, but I ask you to take the time to listen to this and answer me this question: What do you think Mr D is saying in the last verse? Having absolutely nailed so much of the nature of life in all his other verses, Bob throws us off scent abruptly with some apparently throw away line about the Grand Canyon. Any thoughts?

Also, i'd like to know if any of you have any tracks which you feel maybe speak for you better than you can yourself?

My Procrastination Project

Japanther commanded, and I obliged:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hope you like it, sorry about the ums and ahs and the slurping, and remember that English is not my native language, so I have immunity.
By the time posts, I'll be on the other side of the Channel, so if I don't respond straight away, I'm not being rude. See y'all next week.

"It's got a good beat..."

I really wanted to illustrate this with a picture of a bad dancer, but somehow got sidetracked by Robert Webb doing his Flashdance routine. In a leotard. Anyway...
What I wanted to discuss was: given that most of us would happily describe ourselves as music obsessives (and I'm being kind with that word, obviously obsessive means wise, passionate, erudite, to me!), have any of you got friends who are really not into music? One of my friends actually said last week, "I don't give a monkey's about music" in regard to picking her wedding music! I was horrorstruck. And then I realised that almost all of my friends feel almost as strongly about music as I do: given that I met many of them in clubs, maybe this isn't so surprising. Another old friend recently got in touch and, as I was a demon mixtape maker back then, I suggested sending him a link to my current Spotify playlist. He said "I probably haven't listened to much good music in the past 15 years" and the scary thing was, he wasn't even exaggerating. He and my other friend are really what I would term "straights" and I've never really had many "straight" friends, if you understand my meaning. Like SKP said, he got the 'mis-shapes' cat-calls on a Saturday night, and me and my friends did too.
So, my question is, if you have these friends, do you try to educate them? Take them to clubs and force them to dance awkwardly? Or just look on them as missing the music gene and try to play up their other good points?


I mentioned recently that I was re-playing some of my old vinyl with the intent of seeing which had held up over the years, there were several that had and one that I really liked back in the early '70's when I bought it was 'Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, it's held up and I've recently played it at least a dozen times. In addition I've read the book 'Dark Side of the Moon- the making of the Pink Floyd masterpiece by John Harris, a very interesting and informative read. In addition I've played all the PF albums I own plus I've watched the Earls Court video of Dark Side a couple of times.
In the 60's I was very interested in electronic music and specifically in synthesizers and new recording technology so when PF came along I was ready, I bought several albums but it wasn't until this one that I was really impressed, I thought that most of their prior music was lacking something and I now think that something was Syd Barrett. After he left the group they floundered for a couple of years not knowing quite where to go until in Dec. 1971 when Roger Waters took charge and came up with the Dark Side concept which they accepted and developed and played on the road regularly, refining it as they went. They were also in and out of the studio, Abbey Road, throughout 1972 laying tracks and adding new ideas, like the jazz sax of their old friend from Cambridge, Dick Parry and the vocal trio of female voices. Finally it was done and it was released in 1973, I bought it immediately and thought it was wonderful, a fabulous mix of rock, jazz, electronics and with lots of synths, the best thing they'd ever done. Very slick and clean, beautifully recorded and mixed, the electronics blended into the whole in ways far beyond what the prior synth albums had done; it was an original piece of music that set the standards for years to come. All those road trips where they kept testing and changing it paid off.
An interesting side issue: in 1969 I was in England during the summer and one night fairly late there was a BBC program about an electronic musician and it showed him working in his studio in what looked like a garden shed. His name was Ron Geesin and he was working on a film soundtrack. The film was titled 'The Body' and he mentioned that the soundtrack was being released on an album. As soon as I arrived back in LA I went to a record store to see if it was likely to be available, they said they'd order it: it came in several weeks later. It's a co-production between Geesin and Roger Waters and I'll play a couple of tracks here and you'll see where some of Dark Side's music originated. I liked it from the start but didn't realise the connection until I started playing Dark Side again recently.
Spotty doesn't have any Pink Floyd so we'll go with Podbean, here's three cuts from Dark Side and a couple from 'The Body'. Hope this is a more popular selection than Pet Sounds was. I'm also interested in how many heard it in 1973 when it was first released versus those who first heard it much later.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bends For 5904 Miles - A Joint Podcast

Our second home...

This is a special joint podcast hosted by myself and me old mucker SatanKidneyPie.

Flung together by fate on our very first day of higher education by virtue of being designated the same shared house in a Bristol suburb by the university accommodation department.

We eyed each other warily at first. SKP with his Ministry of Sound compilations and Crystal Palace obsession. Myself with a skinny-fit Shed 7 t-shirt and a complete lack of football knowledge. But we shared a common belief in humanity and social justice and as Britpop ballooned and evolved (this was 1995) we united together as an inseparable force to root out new music and see as many gigs as our student budgets would allow. We lived together for 2 years and only parted ways because SKP had a year of work experience in a power plant as part of his degree course.

All tracks on this podcast are from bands whose gigs we attended together mostly from 1995/96/97 but going through to 2002 just before I left for Japan. Which pretty much makes it a one-stop Britpop bop shop!

The podcast itself was recorded over many time zones using the incredible technology of Skype and the easy to use functions of my Macbook. SKP is a wee bit quiet and unclear for most of part one, sorry about that, but luckily I had an expert technological assistant on hand to help out (erm.....Mrs Japanther suggested turning up the volume!) which seemed to work and he is much more audible for part two. So, apologies for the all-round poor sound quality (we hope you do persevere), but we like to think of it as the lo-fi DIY approach, and we'd much rather be the Magoo of podcasting than the U2!

What's the 5904 miles you ask? Well, it's the distance between Birmingham and Tokyo innit!

Bends For 5904 Miles - Part 1
Bends For 5904 Miles - Part 2

NB: Can listen here or in Dropbox with individual tracks attached.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Giro scope

as I'm late to sign on - "your giro will not be issued"
these have fleeting mentions of the dreaded unemployment or insinuations of joblessness.
Being into painting and design I'm always out of work -
or always working (but for no pay) depends how you want to look at it!
The World is gone
Red Letters
Summer Job

Ancient Mysteries

Unemployed In Summertime (Junior Sanchez Remix)
underwear goes inside the pants
Young Guns (Go For It!)
I haven't made it over to RR yet.. so it was a dropbox scan, for tunes.. dond to those that got in first.


I recently came across this documentary on youtube, it concerns a film by Coppola that I've been trying to find for years. It's one of his earliest, his fourth I think, it's 'The Rainpeople' from 1969, what's interesting about it to me is that he made it when he was getting just a little bit of support from Warner Bros based on his scriptwriting, I think he'd just done the script for Patton [which went on to pick up 7 Oscars]. He approached them with a fairly radical idea, he wanted them to finance a project where he would take a tiny film crew and cast on the road in two vans and several cars and would partially improvise the film based on whatever they encounted along the way. He had a cast, James Caan, Shirley Knight and Robert Duvall plus others and he wanted to escape the studio/union system that said there must be X number of crew on all projects. The union demanded that there be dozens of workers handling lights, transportation, sets, food, etc: he wanted to shoot it like a student film with a very lean crew. There would be less than a dozen crewmembers and all the equipment would be carried in two vans.
The story outline was that a young New York woman, Shirley Knight, needs to escape from an unsatisfactory marriage, she gets in her station wagon and drives not knowing where she's going, she just needs to escape. The camera crew follows her all over the eastern and southern US and she has several adventures along the way, one involves a brain damaged football player [James Caan] who's hitch-hiking, she picks him up, another involves a motorcycle cop [Robert Duvall] who stops her and thinks he's onto a hot number.
Coppola put all the money he had into this film and his friend George Lucas tagged along and shot a 16mm documentary of the entire project. That's what I found this week, the Lucas film, but still no trace of The Rainpeople. I knew Coppola back then, he invited me to see his workprint roughcut and I was very impressed, I also saw the Lucas film and when both were released a year or so later I had copies which I used annually in a film production class that I was teaching. The Lucas film above is not quite what I remember, it's been drastically edited and large chunks removed but it's still an interesting window into the creative process and a view of a very young Coppola. An interesting detail, both Caan and Duvall played major roles in The Godfather just a few years later, nominated for 10 academy awards, it won three. Japanther's epic below has 90 youtube segments, this has only 4; both are worthy of your attention.

Jazz History

A big thanks to Goneforeign for recommending this. It's taken me over 3 weeks of living my life in ten minute Youtube-length segments to watch the 90 clips that have been uploaded so far (just 21 more to go)!

If anyone hasn't seen it, this is an incredible documentary that is as much a social history of 20th century America as it is a documentary on Jazz. Get it before "they" remove it from Youtube!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

People on album covers you wished you looked like

OK, this is a silly one.

The idea is that there are people on album covers that at various times in your life you really wanted to look like.

I will happily admit that when I was about 18, I'd have gone down to the crossroads at midnight and signed on the dotted like to look exactly like this;

How do you spell "Eponymous"?

You just gotta love songs that have eponymousity in them. I know I do. The summertime is a good time to listen to eponymous songs too. I'm sure I've  written  about eponymous songs before but my memory isn't so good. So now when an eponymous song has cropped up in the summertime, I feel the need to post it. 
Slow Club are an amazing and lovely folky pop duo, who I was lucky enough to see at Homegame this year, they were fab. Just fab. 
They have an eponymous type song, which is fab - it's not quite as eponymous as, say, "Titus Andronicus" by Titus Andronicus - which is also a fab song, but it is eponymous and descriptive - which really helps when picking a song to listen to, I find. 
Slow Club's song is called "Slow Club Summer Shakedown", which is all the info you need really! 
If you like, have a listen to the song, and then think of other either eponymous songs, or very self descriptive songs that you like, and make a note of them in the comments? 

Slow Club Summer Shakedown

Hard Times

Jean Redpath - The Terror Time
Jean Redpath - Faraway Tom
Skip James - Hard Time Killin Floor Blues
Big Bill Broonzy - Unemployment Stomp
Odetta - Unemployment blues
Dr. John & Odetta - Brother Can You Spare a Dime
Drink Me - My Ship's Rolling In
Blackalicious - Shallow Days
Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Ghettos of the Mind
The Roots - I Will Not Apologize
Beastie Boys - Johnny Ryall
Mos Def - Worker's Comp

Friday, June 19, 2009

Well, I got no job and I got no pay

Coal Tattoo is one of my very favourite songs (and it's easy to play on the guitar) and here it is on John Peel's Perfumed Garden radio programme sung by Shawn Phillips, who wrote it. EDIT: whoops, no he didn't: it was Billy Ed Wheeler.

Bonus bit of (muffled) Peel chat at the end!
EDIT: many thanks to whoever put Coal Tattoo in the Dropbox!

Drifting Through the Days - Richard Thompson
Another Quiet Night in England - Oysterband
Love of the Common People - Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band
Coal Tattoo - Shawn Phillips

Back At Last - The Very Best!

I first blogged about Esau Mwamwaya way back in March last year. 
Which even attracted a comment from his producer! Anyhoos, since then, he released one of the albums/mixtapes of last year (for free) and is now back as The Very Best with a new tune and LP on the way. "Warm Heart Of Africa" also features the dude out of Vampire Weekend, who is put into the shade somewhat when Esau starts singing. As usual, it's an uplifting mash of old and new, and as usual it's jolly good! Bodes well for the album proper, and if anyone can tell me what he's singing, that would be a bonus. 

Warm Heart Of Africa

Dole Drums

Unemployed In Summertime
A Year With No Head
Work Hard, For What?
The Unemployable Rub Oil On Her Coffin
Don't Give Up
Tell Me About Poverty
Job Search
Ghost Town
Assembly Lines
No Bottom
Hard Times

Well someone had to do it ...

and the line at 1m32sec in this trailer too ...

Two of my favourite films with both a music and an unemployment streak in 'em.

Any others?

Blimpy here, the first one that springs to my mind is this:

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This came to my attention through a conversation Mr. Steenbeck had with a friend, but I found it interesting, and it seems to tie into the Beach Boys discussion through a surf-rock connection. If you'll listen to this early surf-rock tune, you'll hear remarkable similarities to middle eastern music. A bit of (sorry, Aba) wikipedization revealed that the blandly named Dick Dale was originally called Richard Monsour, and that he had a Lebanese father and a Polish mother. He was influenced by his uncle, the Oud player. He used non-western scales. (and he played the guitar upside down, because he was left-handed.) This song, his big hit, was originally performed by a Greek Rebetiko band, a style that has Turkish influences. The song refers to a muslim Egyptian woman, and a cross-faith romance.

I think these connections are fascinating. They became obvious once they were pointed out to me, but I'd never heard them before in the music.

The 'Spill Recipe Book #1

This morning I shall mostly be procrastinating and failing to get my chapter written by kicking off what may become a new regular series of 'Spill recipes with my Spicy Chicken Nuggets; not the most elegant of meals, and scarcely a great culinary achievement, but good comfort food and goes down well with children as well.

*1 chicken breast per person, cut into 6-8 pieces.
*1-2 eggs, depending on how many you're catering for.
*Breadcrumbs: ideally make your own with a food processor - stale sourdough works really well. Mix in any combination of crushed garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground cumin and/or chopped coriander according to taste of your target audience.

Roll chicken pieces in seasoned flour, dip into beaten egg and then roll in breadcrumbs until properly coated; shallow fry in olive or sunflower oil on a medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, turning at least once. Serve with new or saute potatoes or oven chips, and whatever green veg or salad you have handy. Ketchup is okay, but for a more elegant approach (if you have the time) either of the following are nice:

Redcurrant and chilli jelly. Stew redcurrants and chillis with a little water for 10-15 minutes on a low heat until juice is running; sieve; weigh the liquid and add an equal quantity of sugar; bring slowly to boil, making sure that the sugar is well stirred in, and boil for c.10 minutes until it reaches setting point. Put into jars; keeps for ages (at least until next year's redcurrant season). It's very difficult to tell how hot this will turn out; generally less than you'd expect from whatever amount of chillis you put in, and if it's really hot you just eat smaller amounts.

Thai dipping sauce. Heat 50ml wine vinegar, 1.5 tbs water and 100g sugar until dissolved, then boil for about a minute. Leave to cool, then stir in very finely chopped onion (25g), carrot (25g) and cucumber (50g) and a couple of hot Thai chillis (also finely chopped), and a couple of tsp of fish sauce.

Enjoy (and protect from pillaging cats...)