Friday, 31 October 2008


My cd's lived at my parents, while I lived elsewhere. This was the case until recently when the worthy discs were shipped all the way to Chile. Over the last few months I've been getting to know some old friends, and wondering why I befriended others. This one is a real pleasure, The Devlins I Knew That, from their 1993 album Drift. I believe they are brothers and come from Dublin.

The Devlins, I Knew That

The Devlins - I Knew That via

John the Revelator

The righteous P's post about The Afghan Whigs John the Baptist, reminded me of the song John the Revelator, a traditional American folk song. I believe perpetual knob twiddlers Depeche Mode have a version, although I haven't heard it. They would be hard pressed to better either Son House or Blind Willie Johnson, or the gravel and whisky voice of Warren Haynes in the Allman Brothers spin off Gov't Mule.

John the Revelator by Gov't Mule

Thursday, 30 October 2008

1965 1998 2008

10 years ago this week the Afghan Whigs released 1965. I am sure anniversaryists will let this one pass by without a nod. It’s a good album but does it require any retrospectivity? (I realise that I have used two made up words in this opening paragraph, that’s how I roll).

1965 was the final album by the Afghan Whigs and arguably their best, never really achieving the fame afforded to their contemporaries, never having that breakthrough hit gentlemen ploughing a similar furrow had. In the end what do you do, do you hold out or cut your losses, no acrimony, no bitterness, just victims of geography, you end up cutting your losses.

1965, the best album that Marvin Gaye never recorded. If it is possible for white men with guitars to record an album that is soulful but isn’t soul, that has elements of funk, but doesn’t need to dip into the limited funk bag of tricks that The Red Hot Chilli Peppers plunder with all too much regularity? That takes you to funky town on a funky train with the funky worm and but doesn’t have an ounce of slap bass, fat bass or a single Yowser Yowser Yowser. If it is possible then The Afghan Whigs achieved it on this record.

Of course 1965 is a rock record, its white boy rock made for white boys, but Dulli and his compatriots, show a side that moves away from its gin soaked predecessors and embraces the loving arms of early 70s Motown, not mid 60’s Motown, early 70’s. When the ROCK does come its almost as if Buffalo Tom had bought a Jimi Hendrix songbook, thought these solo’s are a bit tricky and only played the chords. I hear Buffalo Tom all the way through 1965, or it may be that I hear the Afghan Whigs all the way through Buffalo Tom? Who knows.

Ten years later and the album sounds circa now, not that ghastly indie sound that seems to proliferate the charts, the one that seems to have a lot of public school boys affected an awful faux cockney accent (See The Kooks, Scouting For Girls etc), but the mixing of styles that Dulli, Lanegan, Desert Sessions have embraced of late.

Since their split Dulli had a brief solo career that traded on his name, but it was more than just the hits, he went on to form The Gutter Twins with Mark Lanegan and The Twilight Singers, perhaps finally receiving the acclaim that his song writing deserved. Curley ended up in The Staggering Statistics, McCollum is in Moon Maan and Horrigan is bassist in the non Raconteurs Brendan Benson’s band. None of whom however came close to recreating anything close to the beauty of final album, 1965.

John The Baptist by The Afghan Whigs.

Buy it from Amazon

Something to Crowe about

Elizabethtown, written and directed by ex Rolling Stones writer turned film maker Cameron Crowe, is liberally doused in music. Annoyingly, it's an example of a soundtrack that has to leave as much off as put in, although there are still highlights on the disc. The film itself, overlong, soppy, and a bit of a muddle, still has scenes that can delight, with my personal favourite being the Freebird moment, as well as the idea of a special someone taking the time to put together a soundtrack for you to listen to on a roadtrip (although I'd like to see what she could have knocked together for a 12 hour bus trip through the Chilean desert).
Of all the reasons you could put forward for the film being unrealistic, surely the main one would be the fact that it would never be the girl that makes the boy the Cd's to listen to in the car, it would be the other way round. The boy, let's call him Kevin T (purely for argument's sake) would spend hours constructing a compilation of perfect symmetry, that contained a mix of both the known and unknown, a delicate fusion of genres, held together beautifully by a running order that simply could not be improved. Girls, it has to be said, don't do this. In defence of girls, the only artice I ever read that articulated the great art of a compilation was written by Laura Barton in The Guardian. The advent of CD's robbed the master compilation makers of the 'Track One Side Two' conundrum, which if I'm honest, I miss.
My final destination for this post is my favourite track from the Elizabethtown soundtrack, 'Don't I Hold You' by Wheat, about who I know nothing apart from the fact that they are from Boston.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Hump(h) Day

A friend of mine once walked into the staffroom of the institute where I worked, and exclaimed loudly "Thank God it's hump day!" You would imagine that her boyfriend, an amiable Texan who was in the room at the time, might have been a smidge embarrassed. But no, Texan Tim didn't even look up from his book. I put this down to Texans having their embarrassment gene surgically removed at an early age, but what I later found out was that 'Hump' day is Wednesday, as it's the hump of the week - all down hill to the weekend.

With 'Hump Day' being a Canadian expression I could honour Wednesday with a bit of Alanis Morissette bashing, or possibly the theme from Due South. Alternatively, with Wednesday being a low point (stranded between weekends, see the Honourable P's post below this), I could opt for a Top 5 to lift your spirits, or in a saucy fashion, some songs either about humping or possibly to hump to. But, being the canny wordsmith I'd like to be but am not, I'm adding an 'h' on the end of Hump, to make Humph, and shall offer up a bit of Mr Lyttelton.

Humph only died in April of this year (2008), and I recently watched a BBC documentary on him. I've listened to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue for years, although never paid any attention to his music, as I'm not too much of a jazz fan. Of course, he went on to record with one of Peter's Satanic Pentalogy, Radiohead (see below for clues on the Radiohead creative process). It would appear that his music was every bit as good as his timing with 'Samantha' jokes.
Lady Madonna anyone?

Wednesday Top 5.

I don't know about you but Wednesdays are are a limbo day for me, and no I don't mean the practice of going under a stick on ones holiday to the Dominican Republic. That point where the weekend is a distant memory and and the next one is not within easy grasp. I feel the yearning fro Friday to come around is a distraction from my work and so a perfect time to distract myself with lists. I like lists, Kev likes lists, people, normally boys, like lists.

When we were bandying about names for this blog, it was trying to meet the criteria of a musical reference related to someone we like, the only stipulation from my side is that it didn't come from the Satanic Pentalogy of U2, Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Bands who I thought were totally without merit.

This morning though I thought, every band has at least one track, one track at the very minimum that could be considered passable, so this Wednesdays top 5?

The Top 5 Tracks by The Bottom 5 Bands!

U2 kick things off, and with a huge back catalogue surely its easy? People who I know that like U2 (and I know a lot of people that like U2) say well how can you not love Beautiful Day, my reply is a withering stare that says "how can you not love that I am going to stab you in the eye"? Others try to appeal to my sense of musical history and say "Well you have to admit New Years Day and Pride are fantastic tunes", I would rather admit to have relations with my cat. So you see I struggle, bear in mind I have gone on record many times as saying, If you like U2, you have essentially declared to the world that you no longer like music. So the number one song by a bottom five band is.......

Angel of Harlem by U2.

My mate Dave or was it Jon, had the album this is from, I want to say Rattle and Hum, but as it is not worth the research so I wont check this fact. Or the fact that it was either Dave or Jon, although its not important at this juncture, lets say it was Dave. Dave used to play it a lot and the only single song on the album that raised an eyebrow was the paean to Billie Holiday, Angel of Harlem. This was Bongo's cowboy boots wearing phase and The Hedge started wearing 10 gallon hats to hide his balding pate. I would like to think that Larry Mullen Jr bought a horse and Adam Clayton started talking in a Texan accent and insisted that the rest of U2 called him Bucky Bob. Unfortunately this wasn't true, Bono started talking about world poverty, whilst accepting millions off Livenation as well as quite a large share in the company and putting all his cash in a Dutch bank account, to avoid all that tax nonsense. Nice one.

Radiohead. This band perplex me, and the people that listen to and appreciate Radiohead perplex me even more. The songwriting process must be an odd time.

Johnny Greenwood: I have come up with a right good riff, it's a little poppy, a little punky, its in 4/4 and the chords are A, D, E and back to D, have a listen Thom, I welcome your thoughts. Its called "I love a girl."

Thom Yorke: I likes it, its catchy, can you just make a few minor changes?

JG: Minor?

TY: Minor!

JG: OK, Rock on Tommy.

TY: First off, the chords, 4 chords.

JG: Yeah, I like its simplicity, 4 chords and the truth!

TY: 4 chords is for Sigur Ros, not for us sonny jim, you need to add a few more, and by few I mean ten, and by more I mean instead of and if there ain't #, 7m, diminished or 9ths after the name, give it to the Sugababes as you are clearly barking up the wrong tree.

JG: Tree?

TY: Tree!

JG: O…..K….so you want me to change a few chords, well OK, it's a learning process, I can do that, lets hit the studio!

TY: Not so fast Greenwood. The style, a bit poppy? A bit punky? You been listening to MTV2 again, we don't do poppy, we don't do punky, we do avant garde noise fuelled Stockhausen influenced minimal beat poetry combining the best aspects of Garbarek with elements of Bolivian folk songs, mixed by Photek. You dig Greenwood.

JG: B..b..but I have been listening to a lot of Green Day recently, Dookie in particular, I thought we could go off in a whole new direction, expand our fanbase.

TY: You ain't paid to think, you are paid to weave sounscapes to my tortured ramblings, you are paid to play in 2/36 time, you are paid to do that CHU-CHUG noise in creep, if you don't like it, I can get Mark Knoffler to fill you boots like that!

JG: Mark Knoffler?

TY: The Knoff!

So whats good then in a sea of shite, what floats?

Faithless The Wonderboy by Radiohead.

I bought Anyone can play guitar by Radiohead when I lived in Kent, I quite liked the A-side and the B-side was a tune called Faithless The Wonderboy . It turned out to be a lovely track rather reminiscent of Creep, but probably better. I have quite a defined line in the sand with Radiohead, I was actually a fan at one point, then OK Computer came out and it undid every single thing that had gone before it. That pattern continued up to the present day.

Muse are a tricky one, my daughter loves Muse, I cry at this thought of her liking them, I also cry at the fact that an ex member of The Senseless Things helped out on bass a few years back. When I am king, that will be a crime punishable by something less exciting than death but as equally distracting.
Muse for too long have been allowed to make rambling modern prog rock opuses (is that opii?) that mimic Radiohead. They are a band that sneakily and without warning ending up headlining festivals but people can't understand how they got there. (See also The Killers, Kings of Leon and The Offspring).
I view listening to any of their albums as a torture akin to waterboarding.

Plug In Baby by Muse.

I own this on single, I bought it from a place that me and Kev both used to work at, it was sold to me by a man that we both consider to be our friend, still he sold it me though and to be honest I like it. I like it quite a lot actually, maybe as it isn't a noodling prog rock opus. I have even danced to it on occasion, and by dance I mean move my body with the rhythmic nuances of a toddler throwing a strop. I throw shapes. People throw fish.

Coldplay, ah sweet little Coldplay, sweet indie Coldplay. I recall Coldplay before Chris started writing on his hand and lecturing me. They played Yellow on Jo Whileys show. I had just been for an interview for the job that I was made redundant from earlier this year, I popped home to change out of my suit and me and my short on stature wife listened intently to Yellow on the radio. But time is a mean sparring partner and her punch nary feels like a kiss. Pomposity and belief in ones own press will inevitably turn a band into the indie G4, an indie G4 that doesn't really need to try to hard as people will buy anything no matter what the quality is like.

The Scientist by Coldplay.

Coldplay are though, the easiest to think of one good track, up until Livin La Vida Loca, I possibly liked one track on each album, this isn't a good thing though, I could possibly listen to every Screwdriver album and feel that at least one track had a good beat. (Curse their nazi politics!!). The Scientist is chosen though as I am a sucker for sentimentality and it takes little more than Bradley off Eastenders frowning to send me into tears. The video is the telling in reverse of a car accident, Chris and his on screen lady, not Gwyneth, (she was probably busy), recreating a public information film on why its best to wear a seatbelt. You may also recall the follow up single, "During the summer holidays, stay off that building site".

For every Coldplay, there is a Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Rather unfortunately, where it was easy to think of a redeeming Coldplay song, it's a real struggle to do the same with RHCP. Do I cheat and go for Higher Ground, but then it isn't their song is it. You see the Chilli Peppers certainly have their fans but I really can not think of a more lumpen, dull band creating music today. They make Oasis seem cutting edge, the Klaxxons seem like geniuses, they even make The Kooks sound good.

Cabron by Red Hot Chilli Peppers

So it is Cabron, I think it is from the album By The Way, it reminds me in part of For Spacious Lies by Beats International. I first heard it trying to pretend I was young, and down with the kids watching Tony Hawks Boom Boom Huckjam, a skateboarding film. (I do not skateboard, my one and only foray into the sport ended up with me losing 5 seconds, splayed on my back on the floor and "friends" trying their best not to laugh) The skaters in it were singing along to the song, Cabron, it fitted perfectly. I think I really like the song, maybe because it doesn't sound like RHCP, maybe. I think Cabron means something rather rude in Spanish.

Being a Huddie

It's nice to see that Tenacious Donohoe got the Led out for an inaugaral post. I've been almost rockless for months, whereas once I was addicted to the riff. A well placed strum seems to do it for me now (surely a line delivered at some point by Jim Dale in Carry On Put Your Foot on the Monitor).

If I was to decline commenting on a band because it's all been said before then this blog would be empty, so allow me to bring up the Page Plant performance of Gallows Pole, November 94 on Later. Those people who like to say that oldies like The Rolling Stones should pack it in are daft, as this performance by a couple of hoary old rockers goes to prove. Nobody ever told John Lee Hooker to put the guitar down, or told a composer to stop writing.

Leadbelly famously sang his way out of the joint. What would he have made of Nirvana's Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, The Animal's House of the Rising Sun, or The Ram Jam Band's Black Betty? When my Mrs sings along to Pick a Bale of Cotton she makes up her own words, which I wish I had on video, but I don't, so here's some Huddie Leadbetter.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

What Is and What Should Never Be

There is much speculation at the moment on the likelihood of Led Zeppelin reforming and going out on tour. This has been exacerbated recently by John Paul Jones. Led Zeppelin, under that moniker played the O2 arena as a testimonial of sorts for Ahmet Ertegün, Atlantic records co- founder. The money raised by the O2 concert went towards an educational fund Ertegün left as a legacy following his death.

John Paul Jones, talented bass player, but always the whatsiface of Led Zeppelin recently appeared at guitar show in Exeter and gave the following information.

"As you probably know, Jimmy, Jason and I are actually rehearsing and we've had the odd singer come in and have a bash. As soon as we know — which we don't — we will let you know. But we really hope that something is going to happen soon because we really want to do it and we're having a lot of fun, actually, just rehearsing. Jason is actually tremendous... And what we've done so far sounds absolutely fantastic. When it does come, it will come, and you'll know about it."

"We really wanna do something and Robert doesn't want to do this, at least for the moment. I don't really know what his plans are. He really doesn't want to make loud music anymore. We do. I mean, I love acoustic music, but it doesn't stop me from turning something up."

So what does this tell us, Page and Plant Page and Jones, trotting out the hits, with the rock Zak Starkey and guest vocalists. I bristle at that thought, guest vocalists creates a visual that will be just awful.


I mean the rumoured "replacement" for Robert Plant, is a gentleman called Myles Kennedy, now Myles Kennedy will be unheard of to most people, he is an American singer in the rock band Alter Bridge, Alter Bridge do that shitty rock that Creed created the blueprint for, alas Creed didn't tear up the blueprint, they spawned Alter Bridge. To put it into context, you know when
Chris Cornell joined the non shouty part of Rage Against The Machine, or when Ian Astbury joined the non Père Lachaise residing part of The Doors, it was all well and good but it was really just the other members knocking out a Cleveland steamer on their own good name.

Obviously this rumour will be coming from the inner sanctum, perhaps Jimmy Page may have leaked this information, or maybe the young Bonham lad, alas no, no, not at all, the tasty morsel that some hoary long hair is going to be fronting the reinvented Coverdale:Page is Dee Snider. It seems that glam metallers are the leading source of music news, expect Gene Simmons to be spouting the latest AC/DC tour dates and Blackie Lawless reviewing the new Brtiney Spears album.

So to round up the facts then, 50 percent of Led Zeppelin are rehearsing, 20 percent of Twisted Sister says some American is going to be fronting it, likelihood of Robert Plant taking them to court if they bill themselves as Led Zeppelin, 100 percent.

eGigs for the quotes.

MuchMusic for the Dee Snider stuff.