Saturday, 20 March 2010

Another Sad Loss

I don't know what is happening this year as another musical hero of mine died this week. Alex Chilton of The Boxtops and more famously Big Star died on 17 March aged 59 of a suspected heart attack.

Chilton's career took off when he was just 16 when a member of soul group The Boxtops who had an international number one with the song 'The Letter'.

In 1971 Chilton joined Big Star, a band that had limited success but who influenced many. You need only to hear Teenage Fanclub and early R.E.M. to see how much they were influenced by Big Star. With Chris Bell Chilton wrote some truly fabulous songs. However after three albums it was all over. Bell left after the second album Radio City in 1974 and the third Third/Sister Lover was released 4 years later. Bell died in a car crash in 1978.

Chilton continued to tour, record an influence and 1993 he reformed Big Star with drummer Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies. I was lucky enough to see Big Star a couple of years ago in London and it was a great gig (apart from a misguided attempt at playing Ode to Joy).

Big Star made some of my very favourite records and Alex's death has left yet another hole. He will be missed.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

"I Got Sunburnt Waiting for the jets..."

Mark Linkous Rest In Peace.

Mark Linkous the multi-instrumentalist behind the wonderful Sparklehorse took his own life on March 6th. His music touched me greatly it is beautiful and melancholic. Mark you will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Some Velvet Morning ~ Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra

I first heard this record when I was about 18 at a club night I used to go to and occasionally DJ at that was run by Paul Tunkin who when on to run the extremely successful Blow Up club and record label.

The record was from Paul's Dad's collection and was used quite often as the walk out record. It captivated me from the very start and it took about 5 years of searching through junk shops and boot fairs until I bought it whilst on holiday at Truro flea market where the Hall For Cornwall now stands.

To me it sums up the whole sixties scene of arty types trying to be hippies but without taking all the drugs and not bothering to wash. Full of impenetrable lyrics about someone called Phaedra (I once met a woman called Phaedra at a gig in Colchester and she was named after this song), lush orchestration and two voices that matched perfectly; Nancy's pure sound and Lee Hazlewood's amazing deep and soulful voice.

If pushed it is a song that would come with me to the desert island. It is that good.

Nancy Sinatra et Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning
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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

B.U.G. Mafia/Cheloo

I have always had a secret love of hip-hop. It started way back with Rappers Delight by the Sugarhill Gang and was cemented with the marvellous Public Enemy. I am no expert in the genre but I do like to seek out hip-hop from places other than the English speaking world. I was pleased therefore to discover an online mate of mine from Romanian saying she was a hip-hop fan. Who better than to ask about some Romanian hip-hop. Cristina recommended these two artists. The first is B.U.G.(Bucharest Under Ground) Mafia from Bucharest who are championed as starting the Romanian gangster rap scene. This track is called Baieti Buni (translated as nice or good guys)and is rather splendid.

This track is by Cheloo (pronounced Kilo) is called Fericit (pronounced fereecheet) meaning happy. Cheloo is a massive star in Romania and has collaborated with several artists including B.U.G. Mafia and on this track Guess Who. It is another cracker.

Este foarte bun.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Weather Reort

I haven't got much to say about this except to say that the musicianship is outstanding and it features the greatest electric bass player ever, the late, great genius who was Jaco Pastorious.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Genius - Luke Haines.

Last year one of the very best books about the music industry came out. "Bad Vibes - Britpop And My Part In Its Downfall" by Luke Haines was the most brutally honest insights into what it is like to be lauded by the music press as the next big thing and then be cut of at the knees by the very same press when the next big thing comes along.

What makes this book so fascinating is that Haines has not edited his reminiscences about the period to show himself in a good light. Haines seriously believed he was a genius and that The Auteurs (Haines' first project) would take the world by storm. Indeed their first album did take the world by storm (at least critically) and Haines genius seemed to be cemented.

It did not go quite to plan, although Haines continued to write outstanding songs for The Auteurs it ended in tears. 'Bad Vibes' charts this downfall frankly with Haines writing as he was at the time (basically a bit of a twat).

Further projects as Baader Meinhof (an edgy and brilliant concept album about the German terrorist gang) and the wonderful Black Box Recorder followed. BBR got back together for some gigs last year and I can confirm they were outstanding, so it seems Haines still has it.

Here is Haines as Baader Meinhof doing Meet Me at the Airport

As Blackbox Recorder doing The Art of Driving

And where it all started as The Auteurs doing Lenny Valentino

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Record of the year.

It has been an odd year this year music wise. I have been to a lo of gigs, the highlight being Retribution Gospel Choir at London's Water Rats but musically I think it has been a bit barren. It maybe that I wasn't taking a great deal of notice, a fact that has certainly been true over the last 2 months or so when my mind has been elsewhere. However if I had to choose a record of the year I think it would be "French Navy" by Camera Obscura which is a delicious slice of Northern Soul tinged pop.