Thursday, December 3, 2009
ABOUT THOSE RR NORTHERN SOCIAL CDs...
Firstly, a special mention to those brave enough to wear their heart on their (record) sleeves. My approach was to mix and match quite a lot, in the hope of pleasing all the people some of the time. Whereas, I think it’s quite brave to stick to one special thing, taking the risk that others might not like any of it. So credit and thanks to: DarceysDad for the heavy rock; Exodus for the reminder of that post-punk flourishing of weird, brilliant originality (into which the two Beatles tracks fitted amazingly well); TracyK for the low-fi indie tunefulness; Webcore for celebrating the pre-electric blues; and gordonimmel, hello over there on the central reservation; some stuff sells millions because it speaks to millions !
…is one of those pleasures that keeps on growing through one’s middle and later years, as memory struggles to keep up with experience. John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett’s "Beware of the Flowers…" (Exodus) and Klark Kent’s "Don’t Care" (DsD) reminded me of when every High St in north-east London seemed to have an independent record shop, with a seemingly endless supply of great 45rpm singles (on green vinyl in KK’s case). I remembered the Bunnymen’s "Crocodiles" (Exodus), but had forgotten how good it is. I’d not listened to the lovely Joan Armatrading (gordonimmel) or the infernally catchy St Etienne (gremlinfc) for years. I’m still giving Dr Feelgood’s “No Mo Do Yakomo” (DsD) repeat plays; I think the album, “Case of the Shakes” ( picture above) might be both my favourite ‘unsung’ album and favourite 1980s album. Nick Lowe at last perfected the capturing of the raw essence of the rhythm & blues band on vinyl, just in time for the world to go off in a different direction.
Two songs popped up serendipitously while I was on the move: “Scattered Leaves” by The Be Good Tanyas (Tarxien) when I was on the train to work, looking out on the River Aire and Leeds-Liverpool Canal. The lyrics described the November day with uncanny accuracy. The chilliness a few degrees colder than the week before; through the trees, a little more of Kirkstall Abbey visible each day. The other was when The Dickies version of "Banana Splits" (DsD) came on as I ran for a train; it felt like being in a speeded-up scene from a silent movie; I’m sure everything turned black-and-white for a few minutes.
Questioning one’s old prejudices ?
DsD Rocks was a challenge for me, because I’ve been pretty sure since about 1977 – with the help of a little indoctrination from the New Musical Express – that I couldn’t stand most of the featured artists. Would it turn out after all that I like Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Rush, AC/DC, Scorpions and the rest ? Had I been duped out of 30 years of heavy rocking pleasure ? …… No - I really do hate ALL 1980s heavy metal ! What surprised me was how much I relished each press of the Fast Forward function. Not just a dislike, but a dislike that I’m very attached to and enjoyed having confirmed. Sorry DsD, I'd hoped I was nicer than that, and I hope you enjoyed doing the same to my jazz offerings.
And it did bring something to mind from my bachelor days, a telephone conversation with a woman I’d contacted via The Guardian’s ‘Soulmates’. She made me laugh when she admitted her policy of not dating any men (and there were quite a few) who claimed to have an “eclectic” taste in music. Perhaps one's dislikes can be as important and self-defining as the things we love ? Did she see eclecticism as evidence that a man is incapable of proper, thoroughly biased, loyalty and commitment ?
Bewitched, bothered and indeed bewildered…
Mnemonic won this category by miles. What on earth was going on ? Which is the artist and which is the title ?? However, having spread a few of the tracks around my MP3 player, so that they don’t all crowd in at once, I find that "Current 93" and "I Miss You" are really quite nice and friendly to listen to.
Favourite new discoveries
Of course this is what RR is all about: Taj Mahal & Toumani Diabate, and the Stanley Brothers (AliMunday); Asie Payton, Louise Johnson, and the acoustic predecessors of “I Can’t Be Satisfied” & the “Smokestack Lightning” riff (webcore); Bruce’s "My Lover Man" (Tarxien); Gregory Isaacs’ “Babylon…” & the Daddy Freddy – the way the samples are dropped in here is brilliant - (gremlinfc); The Eagles “Wasted Time” (gordonimmel). I'm still not sure what I think about Lydia Lunch's "Knives In My Drain" (Exodus), but I'm sure no-one else on the bus was listening to anything quite like it. And, the catchiest tune, that I could sing back after it had finished, and stuck there; "I’m A Paleontologist" – They Might Be Giants (TracyK).
tincanman’s offering of Neil Young’s “Prairie Moon” was indeed a great gig by a great band, with Emmylou Harris an extra special treat. "Harvest Moon" and "This Old Guitar…" stood out especially for me. There were lip-synch issues on the recording which added an extra something for me, as if it were a Japanese Neil Young impersonator overdubbed by the real Canadian one.
Thanks everyone !