Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Cat - Blank Space
On to the mix:
Nik Raicevic and John Laws - Head Sweat (edit)
Flairck - Variations on a lady (extract)
Nana - Codajas
Don Harper & Denny Wright - Surf (edit)
Fever Exploration - Kabiwa
Erwin Halletz Orchestra - In Frankfurt sind die nachte heiss
James Wright & His Orchestra - Crane
Bobby McFerrin & Bob Dorough - Friday the thirteeneth
Slickaphonics - Horseradish
Dwight Twilley Band - Sleeping
Batteaux - Mirror
Jerry Jeff Walker - Moon Child
Jonathan Edwards - Morning Train
Tom Newman - Penny's Whistle Boogie
Eynesbury Giant - The 24th of February
Steeleye Span - Slingo Maid
Jean-Yves Labat - U-Boat
Thomas Leer - Hear what I say
Thompson Twins - Lama Sabach Tani
John Romero - Dr Who
Shades Ltd - Frog hunt on Mars
Bobby Darin - Softly, as in a morning sunrise
Sidsel Endresen - Truth (extract)
This is work in progress - I'm trying to write up one track each day..... starting with:
CANABIS SATIVA (part) - ART OF SPACE (used in opening track Head Sweat)
This gurgling early moog synthesizer workout is from 1970 on Buddah. It consists of three long tracks whose titles somewhat hint at the mood they were going for: Cannabis Sativa, Methedrine and last but not least Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. On the back cover we are advised: "The sound of numbers for soaking in soft dreams. Sweet moments and private notes making a rhyme into a habit. An album that creates the ultimate environment for the smoke generation. Taste it." Composed and created by Nik Raicevic under the name Art In Space. Comes with a surreal booklet of drug induced sketches.... The trouble is, for all it's unique electronic qualities you do rather wish there were some drums on it - in fact someone should just add a percussion track to it, but in the meantime - it does make a rather charming backing track for....
SPOKEN EXTRACTS FROM 'JUST YOU AND ME TOGETHER LOVE' - HENRY MANCINI & JOHN LAWS (used in opening track Head Sweat)
Rather odd recording in which Mancini provides musical score to John Laws' rather macho musings on love and togetherness from 1977. John Laws, a famous Australian radio broadcaster comes across rather on the creepy side at times - but some of his verses are worthy of a larger audience! The music is pretty laid back - not vintage Mancini by any means, but taken as a whole and as an oddity, it's worth tracking down. A couple of John Laws' linking monologues have been extracted for your delectation.
LAMA SABACH TANI - THOMPSON TWINS
It was a personal quest - to find something a little different in the Thompson Twins catalogue. Whether I have found it is perhaps open to debate, but here's an almost totally instrumental, Indian sitar inspired groove, found on the B-side of their early single release 'Make Believe (Let's Pretend)' from 1981. The band featured in the photo on the back cover (above) is somewhat expanded from the later 3 member outfit. Although I do rather enjoy 'We Are Detective', I'm curious to know what the band would have become if they'd stayed as seven piece band. I need to pick up their very first album - A Product Of...(Participation), recorded when they were living in a Lambeth squat, which has a few good tracks. When playing live in the late 70s / early 80s, they invited the audience up on stage to bash the hell out of lots of metal junk - how very industrial!
KABIWA - FEVER EXPLORATION
Kabiwa was the King of Surinam and he had seven daughters whose chosen names all began with the letter V, except the youngest who was named by Sofia, his Queen. She was called Juliette which caused the King so much annoyance that he packed her off to her uncle and aunt (Eugene & Florence) who happened to live in Santa Barbara....... and so Serge Prisset created a 1970 concept album of sorts (though 'Instrumental Super Pop' is the somewhat librariesque title), each track named after a member of the extended royal family or settings for the drama. Kabiwa is the stand-out track - one of those that on first hearing I assumed was some lounge floorkiller that I should have been aware of already. Drum break... enter guitar groove.... bongos.... female vocal chant.... hammond and repeat. vocal scatting....end. Perfection. Serge Prisset was and is a prolific French composer and songwriter, writing, in the 70s, for many famous French acts (such as Mireille Mathieu, Sylvie Vartan, Nicoletta, Hervé Vilard and Charlotte Julian). Now out of the limelight, he writes bespoke 'Gift Songs' for weddings.
HERE WHAT I SAY - THOMAS LEER
Thomas Leer is a proper DIY synth pioneer self releasing the rather marvelous first single 'Private Plane in 1978:
This was followed by a sequence of really interesting synth-pop tracks through the 80s. The double 12" LP 'Contradictions' was released by Cherry Red Records in 1982, and this is the opening track. I think he impeccably understands the dance groove and this one got a few feet tapping at Brillo last year. He also knows how to write a hook - a tune - and pop lyrics too - and that squelchy synth keeps the whole thing warm and organic rather than icily detached. It was a toss up between this track and the equally fantastic 'Soul Gypsy' - I urge you to check that out too! Thomas Leer went on to form the decandent duo 'Act' with Claudia Brücken on ZZT, releasing four singles (one recalled due to illicit sampling of an Abba track).
MOON CHILD - JERRY JEFF WALKER
JJ Walker was the classic drifter of the 60s and 70s - busking around the states, especially fond of Texas, playing classic folk songs, befriending soulmates Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson on the way . Briefly in New York he formed a band - Circus Maximus - who produced two albums on Vanguard - in the vain of the Byrds - psychedelic folk rock.
The founders drifted apart - one going jazz, and JJ heading back to the folk circuit. He is now best known for his song Mr Bojangles - covered by all sorts - and defining his music as Cowjazz, which I particularly like. This track is from his 1972 self-titled album, which he sub-titled - The Continuing Saga Of The Classic Bummer. Apparently Moon Child was a response to his favourite movie - Black Orpheus. It is a gorgeously simple song and melody that shambles along with loose shaggy band accompaniment. I only wish it lasted longer. He's now settled in Texas and his birthday is celebrated with an ever growing annual shindig which often attracts the high and mighty from the folk and country worlds.
SLINGO MAID - STEELEYE SPAN
If you read the rather marvelous Electric Eden by Rob Young, you'll know why I had to pick this album up. In one of the stranger chapters of the book we are told a story about Puck, a cottage built into a rocket, about to take off, and it's occupants and interior - all very odd, but basically a surreal tale based around the cover image of the album, summing up the state of folk music and the nation at that time. When describing this later (1976) work he introduces the rather lovely concept of disco-folk: "There are production flourishes courtesy of Mike Blatt - disco drumming on 'Orfeo', dub weightlessness on 'Fighting Strangers' and Shaft-style wah-wah on 'Slingo Maid'....." That was enough for me to go hunting. It of course doesn't quite live up to the promise, but is interesting all the same - a bit of a one-liner and a bit repetitive, not really going anywhere, it still has a unique quality and that's enough for it to find it's way into the tiny folk section of the mix.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
For me it is the epic ambition of the song structures and the beautifully constructed arrangements, often employing the skills of Paul Buckmaster, that define Elton John from his UK mainstream contemporaries. There is a sumptuous fullness to the songs, which lies at the heart of people's response to his work during the seventies. People either love it or hate it. It is true that, as time went on, Elton would resort more to a generic formula dependent on his voice and piano to create a central focus to songs often extending well over 6 minutes in length. Combined with this, a playful, almost vaudeville, quality infused certain songs - sometimes successfully working as counterpoint to the rich symphonic epics, but at other times seeming just throwaway and pastiche. However, he was capable of producing some surprising and striking work which, I think, outweighs the more predictable output.
I'm not such a big fan of the 'classic' Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Too much a potpourri of sketched ideas, though it does contain the amazing Bennie and the Jets, which surely everyone shares a secret enjoyment. There are a couple of filler albums bookmarking that central work that I don't think make the grade - so perhaps don't bother seeking them out - Don't Shoot me, I'm only the Pianist (1972) and Caribou (1974). But he got back on track with three great albums demonstrating an increasing soulful and gospel-tinged flavour.
This selection tries to show that there was also a great musical mind at work during the early seventies period, and extending through to 1976's Blue Moves double LP, after which Elton and Taupin split as a creative team due to the ubiquitous 'musical and personal differences' (returning to work later in the 80s). It takes some perhaps less known and sometimes experimental tracks from LPs and B-sides, which I hope give an illustration of an artist who was first attacked by critics for various offences (too popular, too prolific, too frivolous) to music's high church, as early as 1972! Elton John was never cool. He was/is fun, glamorous, over the top and energetic - yes; But a serious proposition - no. Personally I don't care about the 'serious' in pop music - but I think the quality and diversity of his 70s output deserves a little (re)appraisal, and displays a natural flair and musical dexterity that has not been appreciated.
I don't think even I am quite ready to reappraise the two decades that followed (excepting the two excellent instrumental B-sides recorded as 'Lord Choc Ice' in 1983), but his last three albums released since 2001 certainly have their moments, reflecting and responding to his early seventies highlights.This lot neatly fits on to a single CD - that was the limiting factor. Several tracks that didn't quite make the cut will follow would make a fine bonus EP. I don't expect many new converts to Elton John's cause, but hope that there is something to tickle most people's fancy.
Your Starter for....
Elton was not a big instrumental track fan, probably due to the fact that wordsmith Taupin would be somewhat redundant. It is interesting to note that it is their last collaboration (Blue Moves) before the acrimonious split, that includes three instrumentals. This is written with his long-time band guitarist Caleb Quaye, and sounds like a lost library track used for a forgotten breakfast TV talkshow. Upbeat and bouncy.
Sixties Years On
An amazing ominous string arrangement sweeps in this track, which manages to combine classical, folk and latin influences creating a unique aural experience. From his second album.
Just like strange rain
This B-side is as close to psychedelic pop that Elton reached. I think it works pretty well with distorted guitar opening, nice organ throughout, ending in a classic wig out. B-side to his third (flop) solo 45 'It's me that you need' from 1969.
Part of the opening medley to 1975's 'Rock of the Westies'. Reminds me a little of Paul McCartney's little experiments throughout his output. On the surface a simple little ditty, but it's those strange backing vocals that make it for me.
Bad side of the moon
This is the Elton John track you can safely play out at any eclectic music gathering. It's catchy, has a wee little break, and is generally funky, and has strings too! I love this track. B-side to Border Song (on which the backing choir is led by one Barbara Moore), single from his second self-titled album.
Billy Bones and the white bird
A pulsating epic, almost prog-glam, track from 1975, which breaks the standard EJ formula with an interesting orchestral beat, intricate and changing rhythms and fun keyboard work. Probably too much for most folk. (From Rock Of The Westies)
After the Blue Moves LP Elton had to consider life after Taupin, his long-term writing partner. Before his first 80s LP came out (with a new collaborator), he released a 45 - two tracks - one with Taupin, one by just Elton. This is Elton's solo effort and is a lonely but defiant statement to going it alone. I'm sure it is a coded message to someone. I like the striped down simplicity.
House of cards
Another B-side (to 'Somebody saved my life'), an effortless example of the country-infected Elton John tune. I do like the tracks that don't overplay his piano playing. This one removes it entirely - just some laid back organ. Nothing amazing - but makes me happy.
Across the havens
An early folky outing, before his first album came out. Suggests something of what was to come, but also shows the choices that Elton was making - was he going to follow Donovan down the folk route, or look to America for inspiration? Although there are some folk tracks on the first couple of albums, they soon disappear from his repertoire.
Throwaway country nonsense. Silly but fun. A B-side contemporary of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.
Another great opening to a track. What follows is a chilled moving folk tale of death and memories. Part of a medley on the first album (hence the violent cut-off).
I think I'm going to kill myself
Strange honkey-tonk suicide note. An example of that hit and miss eclecticism that in this case hits. Found on the Honkey Chateau LP,1972.
Theme from a non-existent T.V. series
Another instrumental. The description describes it pretty well. So - did Elton do any library stuff? He certainly had a flair for it! (from Blue Moves)
Madman across the water
Probably the best-known track of the collection. Classic EJ - epic, long, strings, a groove. The title track to his forth album, which contains Tiny Dancer. Could that be Herbie Flowers on the bass?
Another track you can play out, though you have to hold your breath through the moog solo in the middle. It reminds me of 'Werewolves of London' for obvious howling references. This sits on the self-titled second album.
This is where we get funky. It's not all about the famous 'Are you ready for love' - there are several great soul, gospel, proto-disco numbers to be found. This funky blues number ends with the wonderful contribution of the The Cornerstone Institutional Baptist and Southern California Choir. (from Blue Moves)
Bite your lip (Get up and dance)
THE funky soul number. This is the business on the dancefloor (I imagine - will experiment soon). Great Conga action and fine strings from Gene Page. Again from Blue Moves - a hugely underrated (double) album.
The other side to the Flinstone Boy 45. Sign-posting the way to the 80s, but via Sparks. This is close to the edge, but I'm invariably drawn back to it. Am I wrong?
The perfect ending. Starting with possibly one of the weirdest opening lines - "I used to know this scarecrow, he was my song". This ends the great Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy concept album. I don't know what the concept is, but it is certainly concluded rather well with this rousing bombastic number.
So that's it for now, and I haven't even got to the track that has Dusty Springfield, Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan and Tony Hazzard as backing singers; Or the one with the great Herbie Flowers bassline; Or his version of Lesley Duncan's Love Song; Or the 6 min prog-jazz fusion instrumental; Or his work on Francis Lai's The Games soundtrack...... coming soon.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
This month we go all Hoxton Eclectic. We are looking for our musical clues within the diverse influences of London band ’Golden Silvers’, who play live.... Expect anything from the world of..... "Electric Ladyland, The Love Below, Blonde on Blonde, Luv and Haight, OK computer, Death Of A Ladies’ Man, Here My Dear, Voodoo, Leadbelly, The Miracles, Jay Dilla, The Magical Mystery Tour, Around The World in a Day, Live Evil, Endless Summer" (Golden Silvers’ musical influences, myspace)
Cruisin' - Smokey Robinson
Feel Flows - Beach Boys
Are You There? - The California Dreamers (with Gabor Szabo)
End Credits (The Hot Spot) - John Lee hooker & Miles Davis (Jack Nitzsche)
Let The Good Times Roll - Dr John
Visions - Cold Blood
Sunshine (Go away today) - Isley Brothers
Unwind Your Mind - Greyboy
Candido's Funk - Candido
Tamorine - Prince
Color Me True - Sly & The Family Stone
Brass in Africa - Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
The Hunter - Ike & Tina Turner
Shotgun - The Matadors
Stop - Giorgio Moroder
Drifter - Tritons
Think I Care - Paupers
Got My Thing - Trifles
Ode To Carrabassett 'Fats' - The Significant Others
Trudi - Donovan
Painting For Freakout - John Simon
(Who planted thorns in) Miss Alice's Garden - The Explosive
The Marquis - The Amboy Dukes
Rotation - Rotation
The Cage - Elton John
The Girl Can't Help It - Cliff Richard
Lay Lady Lay - Sandie Shaw
Jacques Dutronc - J'ai tout lu tout vu tout bu
Yellow Moon Band - Chimney
Tranquility - Couldn't Possibly Be
The Hollies - Hey Willie
Iron Knowledge - Showstopper
Anvil Chourus - Rhythm Is the Way
Mike Berry - Take a Heart
Geraldine - The Rattles
The Shocking Blue - Send Me a Postcard
Aphrodite's Child - Magic Mirror
Quiller - Quiller
The Hollies - Mad Professor Blythe
Kenny Rogers - Girl Get a Hold of Yourself
CCS - Hang It on Me
Tim Rose - Morning Dew
Bergundy - Zold Pokol
Manfred Mann - One Way Glass
Bobby Gentry - Fancy
Marta Kubisova - Tak Dej... (Song a Balady LP)
Hor Auf - Manfred Krug
Anagram Jam - Anagram Jam
Jaydee - Fuck the Police
Madvillain - Money Folder (Four Tet remix)
Jaylib - Champion Sound
Noor Jehan - I Am Very Sorry
Eranga & Prianga - Let Love In
Richard Caiton Listen to the Drums
Dia Prometido - Hey Al-lah
Quiet Village - Free Rider
Laughing Light of Plenty - The Rose
TOM B played:
JD Blackfoot - Who's nuts Alfred
The Guerillas - Lawdy rolla
Robert Wyatt - I'm a believer
Owen B - Nowhere to run
Can - Moonshake
Aguaturbia - Heartbreaker
Circus Maximus - Lost sea shanty
Vision of Sunshine - Bizarrek kind
Soft Soul Transition - Move it on down
Erkin Koray - Ilahi morluk
Baris Manco - Anadolu
La Svitate - Basta essere belle
Edu Lobo - Zanzibar
Celia Cruz - Rock and roll
Choc - I want you to be my girl
Alan Randall - The meditating Hindoo man
Eric Burdon & the Animals - Monterey
Alan James Eastwood - Closer to the truth
The Sweet - Man from Mecca
Primitive Man - Animal love
Trubrot - Eg veit ao pu kemur
Googoosh - Respect
Edan - Mic manipulator
Majority One - Get back home
Fluff - Love machine
JD Blackfoot - Epitaph for a head
Aguaturbia - I wonder who