Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Diary - January

Click on the pic for full size

I must get this in before the month's out. My old Radio 1 (275/285) 1979 calendar, found while lofting the Christmas bits. Bare-bones on entries and typo-heavy, it's mainly a record of discos and ice skating (a school trip to The Michael Sobell center if I remember). So, Shuggy Otis's Ice Cold Daydream seems an appropriate combo of the two

Shuggy Otis - Ice Cold Daydream

January 2010 may have been the coldest since records blah, blah, blah... but 79 and The Winter of Discontent wasn't shy of ice, snow doom and gloom either.

PS - the "Urcha" quote is a misheard reference to this Courage Best ad'

Friday, January 29, 2010

Funky Friday - A Guy Named Sue

Not 14/6 - but £7 from Ebay! (What is 14/6 - I make it £2.06?)

He's had mentions in a couple of recent bloggings - so it seems only fair that Guy Stevens gets a post of his own...

A legendary DJ working out of Soho's Scene club, during the first steps of London's mod movement. Guy Stevens record collection was, famously, the UK's largest library of imported soul singles and R 'n' B rarities. A vinyl archive that landed him with a double whammy of soul consultancy - cover versions advisor to The Beatles, Stones, Small Faces and The Who. And, recuited by Chris Blackwell to oversee the soul sister label to Island - Sue Records.

The This Is Sue comp was a budget release compiled by Guy to showcase Sue tunes. I've not seen it documented anywhere, but would guess the title is a response to Atlantic's This Is Soul comp. All today's tracks have been ripped from my very own copy of This Is Sue (14/6)

Roy Head - Treat Her Right

Barbra Lynn - Oh! Baby

Jimmy McGriff - The Last Minute

After serving a drug-related prison sentance (and having his record collection nicked while in nick) he went on to work with (and name) Mott The Hoople, Procul Harum and produce The Clash's London Calling

Dig those crazy leg-actions

Or the Tom Jones versh is here..

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brian Eno - Music For Winkies

Only Eno could could unplug from Roxy's sequins, sci-fi and avant glam, patch in with a desperately untrendy mob of spit and sawdust pub rockers - The Winkies, and still make music that sparkles.

Following his firing/resignation from Roxy Music, Eno hooked up with The Winkies for live appearances. But, after just five gigs he was hospitalised with a collapsed lung* (he'd been hit by a car, but whispers at the time suggested an over-enthusiastic bedroom session). Before the accident Eno, along with his new backing band, recorded a Peel session for the BBC, reworking (or is it rewinking) some early solo-era songs. Including Totalled a ramped up proto version of I'll come Running with almost Edward Lear style lyrics (it eventually ended up like this)

Eno - Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch

Eno - Totalled

Post Eno The Winkies went on to record an album produced by Guy Stevens (more on him later) with The Paw Paw Negro riff being recycled as, well, ermmm..

The Winkies - Trust In Dick

*It was during Eno's enforced convalescence that he invented ambient music. Eno's Sleeve notes from Discreet Music - his first' ambient' album

In January this year I had an accident. I was not seriously hurt, but I was confined to bed in a stiff and static position. My friend Judy Nylon visited me and brought me a record of 18th century harp music. After she had gone, and with some considerable difficulty, I put on the record. Having laid down, I realized that the amplifier was set at an extremely low level, and that one channel of the stereo had failed completely. Since I hadn't the energy to get up and improve matters, the record played on almost inaudibly. This presented what was for me a new way of hearing music - as part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of the rain were parts of that ambience.

It's well worth checking out the full set of Roxy 73 live shots here

Or perhaps trying one of Eno's Oblique Strategies

Friday, January 22, 2010

Funky Friday - Island Girls

Unintentionally, last Friday's label-mates turned out to be a grizzled and glittered bunch of blokes, gathering together: ska stars, frizzy hippies and space-rockers.

Today, let's try a tour of the Ladies Department. There's a rich history and roll call of role models to pick and mix from: Millie Small with My Boy Lollipop was one of Island's earliest stars - but Sandy Denny, Linda Thompson, P J Harvey, Amy Winehouse have also been Islanders at one time or another. So, picking up from where last week's timeline left off..

Betty Davis (married to Miles), grunts, grinds and bumps like Buckaroo over a groove-o-matic soundtrack of popping bass lines, fidgety riffing and fatback drums.

Nasty Gal - Betty Davis

Did you know Slits singer Ari Up is John Lydon's step-daughter? Of course you did. The grrrl gang's going over of Grapevine still sounds daisy-fresh, and as contemporary as any new tune you'll hear in-store at Rough Trade.

The Slits - I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Reggae rhythms, Caribbean cool, transworld trendiness and art-scene sparkle make this one of my most played Grace Jones tunes.

PS forgot to mention - we saw the original of this Warhol Pop Life last Sunday

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roxy Musician

Why aye man! It's me Paul Thompson from Roxy Music, you may remember us from songs like Virginia Plain, Love Is The Drug, All I want Is You. In fact, did ya knur, It was me what wrote the the B-side to All I Want Is You? A Roxy rocker called Your Application's Failed It's no'roften us drummers get the chance to chip in with a tune like, but the lads even le'rus speak a line as it's me urn compo'.

Roxy Music - Your Application's Failed

Right, I'm off for a couple of Broons and a paradiddle - H'way the Roxy, and I'll see yez when the beat comes in!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Funky Friday - Island In The Sun

I don't know how Mrs M does it. I am a bugger-to-buy for. Birthdays, Christmas etc. Yet, every year she manages to fill some crack in the collection with a trump card. This year it's Keep On Running - The Islands Records Story. What a corker and a cracker of a read. Full page artwork, album cover galleries, but, more mind fryingly it threads together the back stories and tales of some of my most played or favourite styles and artists. Artists, I hadn't quite connected were on the same label together. It's suddenly like finding distant groups of friends gathered in the same school photo.

Blue beat, ska, reggae and the Trojan association, Guy Stevens and Sue Records (we'll save that for another post), Spencer Davies, Traffic, Wynder K Frog, Head Hands And Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Kevin Ayers, John Cale, Roxy Music, Eno - and into the eighties and beyond. But for now, let's go from the beginning.

Written and performed by Jackie Edwards from 1958 ~ one of the Island's earliest releases, We're Gonna Love is a sonic eclipse of rock, roll 'n' reggae and blue beat meets big band. Jackie late wrote Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me

Jackie Edwards - We're Gonna Love

From Islands 'pink' period Quintessence look exactly as you'd imagine ~ a fuzzy-faced commune of flute-tooters and freak-beaters. Celebrating Notting Hill when it was sleazy stoner central (best rendered here)rather than the Boho village it's become.

Quintessence - Notting Hill Gate

And how must have this lot bristled on the grizzled roots, rock and reggae artists when they signed to Island..Richard Williams ( head of A and R from 73 to 76) intro sets the scene

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

But Boy Could He Play Guitar

On January the 1st 1970 Yorkshire folkie Michael Chapman released his second album Fully Qualified Survivor, a record that passed with few fanfares or fireworks (apart from John Peel crowning it 'Album of the Year'). Forty years on, the album pooling all the elements for the post sixties Bowie tone remains an overlooked obscurity.The Velvets, Iggy and Dylan may get the knowing nods for the rise of Ziggy Stardust but the core components are much closer to home.

Produced by Gus Dudgeon, with string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster, both having worked on Chapman's debut Rainmaker - and Bowie's Space Oddity in between - it's Chapman's choice of fretman for 'Fully Qualified Survivor' that's the key ingredient here. Handpicked from Hull, and making his recording debut is - Mick Ronson.

Ronno's glittering riffs and runs electrify the album's open aired fuggyness of acoustic shuffles, lumpen drums and sparkling guitar work. Effectively it's a style that informs The Man Who Sold The World through to Ziggy Stardust. In the the same way Anthony Newley and this chap (no it's not Bowie singing honest!) were borrowed for Bowie's vocal coat of many colours, Chapman's chewed 'S's, fey waywardness and louche-lipped, gin-soaked vocals seem to have been appropriated as the voice of choice for DB's heavy hippy moonage daydreaming.

We've already documented, Bowie's magpie eye for talent, so it's no surprise that shortly after Fully Qualified Survivor's release, Ronson and Hull-based band mates Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey were recruited for Bowie's new band The Hype eventually evolving into The Spiders From Mars until Ziggy broke up the band.

If you're familiar with the Dame's pre-Pinups discography (Pin ups drummer Ansley Dunbar also appears on Rainmaker) Fully Qualified Survivor will get you spotting a references from the off. Build in the space-age mod clobber of a Droog suit, top it off with Vivienne Westwood's feather cut, and all the pieces fall into place.

Michael Chapman - Soulful Lady

Eleven months later Bowie releases The Man Who Sold The World

Micheal Chapman can be visited online at...

Michael Chapman's official website
Michael Chapman on Myspace

Friday, January 8, 2010

Funky Friday - King Size

I saw him live once. I say live, it was actually Elvis's James Burton era band gigging to festival sized footage of him (in fact it's back this year). But like any soundstage size show (this was Docklands arena), after a few songs the moving dots on stage blend away and it's all eyes on screen. Build in some song introductions, jokes and band intro's from El' himself and we were captured by the Presley spell, forgetting he hadn't, at any point, actually arrived in the building.

It's become overlooked/forgotten/rewritten, but if you grew up during the seventies, Elvis was literally everywhere. Resuscitated and resurrected by the 68 Special he ascended from cultural icon to omnipresent overlord: new hits in the charts, old hits in the parents record cabinet, poster magazines, pocket money priced (50p) tribute albums and films on TV,.

By 1970 The Beatles were a bitter, bearded broken band, and a roots level Rock 'n' roll revival started in the late sixties had set in (inspiring McLaren and Westwood to open their first shop Let It Rock). Elvis was 'now'. In widescreen. With his 2001 intro and space-age stage-wear, he towered like a white giant telegraphing his style and substance to low-level pretenders and high-end contenders: Freddie Starr, Alvin Stardust, Les Gray, The Osmonds, Evel Knievel even Bowie's early glam banging was Elvis influenced.

I was at my aunt's hairdressers in Salisbury, when the news broke that he'd died . It hit me like a blow to the solar plexus. Elvis had seemed untouchable and eternal.

So forget the silly sightings, the tackery and tribute acts, the Burger King with a cheesy film portfolio - the clunkers in the catalogue are easy targets. Instead, remember the essence of Elvis for his 75th Birthday...

One Night of Sin
Not my favourite 50s track, but worth cataloguing for it's original deviant lyrics and rarity value..

Stranger In My Own Home Town
Energised by his 68 comeback the Elvis in Memphis albums are rootsy rock 'n' roll meets Memphis soul - although for my money the 90s remixes beat the original releases

It's Only Love Alternate - Take 9
From The Essential Elvis, Vol. 4 is a selection of undubbed masters from the the early seventies. The 90 second intro eavesdrops on studio banter*, vocal harmony try outs and riff rehearsal before this live take

A King size selection of Elvis treats can be grabbed here..

Watch for the improv vamped up ending at 1:04 Pure magic.

Recommended reading - of course the Guralnick biogs should be ticked off at some point. But well worth tracking down are

Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia

Elvis: The Secret Files

*'Jarv' Elvis is referring to in the 'Watch out Jarv, he'll jive you' line is Felton Jarvis, the producer of Elvis sessions

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Your Starter For Ten

Happy New Year bloggers, blogettes and browsers. Hope you had a goody without overindulging too much. How are you naming new year? Personally I can't bring myself to say twenty ten, so it'll be the large format two thousand and ten for me..

We had The Elms Annual CD Swap last week, where a few music loving ol' gits ( Coops, Piley and I, plus others) got together for a few scoops and to swap CDs of our handpicked highlights from 2009. My selection box was probably too heavy on the vintage vibes rather than new finds, but one name that cropped up across comps was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz, an album that's had regular run outs on my trusty ol' Creative Zen last year..

If you haven't heard It's Blitz yet, there's a taste test here..If you have, you may want to lend an ear to to this stripped down alt.take.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Soft Shock(Acoustic Version)

On a similarly wintery theme, why not try Nancy Wallace's folky refit of Cliff's hit..

Nancy Wallace - We Don't Talk Anymore