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.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Vic Chestnutt RIP

American singer-song writer Vic Chestnutt died on Christmas day following a suspected overdose. He was 45. His body was discovered at his home by REM lead singer Michael Stipe. He recently told National Public Radio in the US that he had attempted suicide on three or four times. Long time friend and collaborator Kirstin Hersch left a message on Twitter that Chestnutt had told her he had left a suicide note so the speculation is that Vic took his own life.

Chestnutt was a master of the melancholy and his songs were dark and rather beautiful. He recorded 17 albums including two that were released in 2009. Acts such as Madonna and Sparklehorse have covered his work. He will be sorely missed.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Delta Maid

I went to see The Retribution Gospel Choir the other night at London's Water Rats. They were outstanding. To see Low's Alan Sparhawke rocking out was a joy. However the evening was made all the more memorable for one of the supporting artists.

I know little about Delta Maid (I'm not even sure that is her real name!) except that she is from Liverpool and plays a lovely mix of country and blues. She is a very gifted guitarist and although she hasn't released anything yet I'm sure it won't be long before we'll be able to buy her wonderful music. In the mean time here is a YouTube video taken at a recent poetry slam in London.

You can also catch her at Delta Maid on Myspace

Friday, 1 May 2009

No, I'm Spasticus.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

I thought long and hard about what to write about for this years Blogging Against Disablism Day. I was initially going to write about the access to live music for disabled people which is still, I'm afraid, not good. In accessible venues, lack of accessible toilets and if you are lucky enough to get in lack of decent views of the stage are 10 a penny. it is improving and the excellent people at Attitude Is Everything are campaigning vigorously for venues to be upgraded to include access to ALL music fans.

Then I wondered about blogging about the lack of disabled performers in the music industry. There are of course notable exceptions; Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Ian Dury, Robert Wyatt and Vic Chestnut spring to mind but although that is a subject that brings up all kind of issues of body image and how the media portrays and excepts us and that issue has already been covered by others during BADD. Visit The Diary Of a Goldfish who is co-ordinating this years event for some excellent blog posts on this and many other issues.

In the end though I decided to post a comment from the late great Ian Dury who in 1981 wrote a song which wouldn't be out of place as a BADD posting today. It was banned by the BBC as offensive but as you will see was completely misunderstood. I'll let the video below do the talking as there is little to add. apologies for the slow loading time.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sweet Soul Music ~ Laura Nyro

I was bought a rather good book at Christmas by my mate Rob (aka Jock Pop). 'The Best Music You've Never Heard' issued by Nigel Williamson published by Rough Guide is a treasure chest of lost classics that is a must for any music fan. Having been a fan of music 'on the fringes' I am aware of a fair proportion of the artists covered in this book but I have been led to some music that I wasn't aware of at all. I'll return to this great book from time to time but today I want to concentrate on someone I was aware of but to my shame had not heard until recently (thanks to Spotify for costing me money on Amazon).
Laura Nyro is one of those talents that a talentless person like me (although my Spaghetti Bolognese has been spoken of as far away as Leigh on Sea) is extremely jealous of. How can someone liby a great musician, singer and song writer. The only unfathomable thing is that Nyro isn't a household name. For example she wrote this song only for Barbra Streisand to cover it is a big showbiz way and make it a hit.

Her songs were complex and by all accounts difficult to play for instance at the 1967 at the Monterrey Pop Festival her band cut her set short because they couldn't follow her intricate music! You don't get that with your run of the mill artist. She recorded three seminal albums for Columbia 'Eli and the Thirteenth Confession', 'New York Tenderberry' and 'Christmas and the Beads of Sweat'.

This song is from 'New York Tenderberry' and is pretty special. It's called 'Captain for Dark Mornings'

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The One That Got Away?

I despair sometimes. Whilst so called talent is festooned with plaudits despite sounding like a vacuum cleaner on reverse (Duffy for instance) really talented people are sidelined. One of the later is the excellent Candie Payne. Liverpudlian Payne's debut album 'I Wish I Could Have Loved You More' is a delicious slice of pop. It has the same 60's tinge as Winehouse and Duffy and she has even worked with Mark Ronson quite extensively.

What sets Candie Payne apart from her contemporaries however is a refusal to partake in vocal histrionics. This gives her sound a feel of the Dusty Springfield's or Petula Clark's. And that is not to be sniffed at. I only hope that the world wakes up to Candie Payne's talent and she gets the success she undoubtedly deserves.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Sad Day For Puppets/The Deer Tracks ~ Live at Somic Cathedral

It's not often these days that you can have a night out for a fiver. It is even rarer to get to see a decent band for a fiver either. Monday night was a treat then as there were two excellent bands to see at The Social a tiny venue situated off of Oxford Street in London.

The night was hosted by the rather excellent Sonic Cathedral who run nights with a distinctively Shoegazey feel to them. My mate Rob and I were extremely pleased to hear Loop being played by the DJ for example, which was the first time either of us had heard such a thing in a club.

The Deer Tracks and Sad Day For Puppets both hail from Sweden and had played the night before with The Deer Tracks headlining. Tonight it was the turn of Sad Day... to take the honours. The Deer Tracks play a lovely form of glitchy electronica with Elin Lindfors vocals floating above some truly gorgeous beats and music laid down by co-member David Lehnberg. The band are backed up by a keyboard player, bassist, trumpet and clarinet which although a tad unusual works extremely well. I bought there excellent album 'Aurora' after the show and can't recommend it highly enough. It is beautiful.

The reason we had gone along to Sonic Cathedral was to see Sad Day For Puppets. I fell in love with their music after hearing the wonderful 'Little Light' last year which turned out to be my favourite track of 2008. They are steeped in all the music that I love; as their Myspace page says "the music is all about shimmering layers of guitars, intertwined feedback melodies all dreamy and grand and sad, and ethereal harmony vocals" and in my view you that is just perfect.

Live (at least tonight) they were a little rockier. Vocalist Anna Eklund introduced several of the tracks as "a rock version" of the album. Stand out tracks for me were new single 'Marble Gods' which is as wonderful piece of jangly pop that you could wish to hear and the aforementioned 'Little Light'. I'm hoping that both of these excellent bands come back to the UK very soon as it would be a crime to miss either of them.

The Deer Tracks ~ Yes This Is my Broken Shield.

Sad Day For Puppets ~ Cherry Blossom.

Monday, 9 February 2009

My New Favourite Band.

I came across Sad Day For Puppets via Myspace and they have capture my heart. They are whimiscal sure but hell what's wrong with a bit of whimsy now and them. I',m off to see them in London on February 23rd and if it is a lovely as this tune, which was recorded live in a Stockholm library it will be rather splendid.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lux Interior 1946 - 2009

There have been quite a few tributes to Erick Lee Purkhiser aka Lux Interior since his death on 4 February but I feel that I should also add mine.

The Cramps were a great band and first captured my heart in about 1982. I loved to dance about to them at my local nightclub 'Crocs' in Rayleigh with my blogging mate over at Planet Mondo. I was a Psychobilly for a while and whilst a lot of my mates rated the more violent bands like The Meteors and the Guana Batz it was always the Cramps for me.

Lux was a great showman and he shall be sadly missed.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

John Martyn 1948 - 2009

The death of British folk singer John Martyn has just been announced. John's music was some of the most inventive music of the genré and it is a very sad loss. It isn't the right time to regale many of the many fantastic stories about John's rather full life so I'll leave you with this, John and his partner in music and crime Danny Thompson performing the timeless 'Solid Air'.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Roy Steers

On 30 December one of the unsung heroes of British jazz died aged 83. Roy Steers presented a jazz programme on BBC Radio Cornwall for many years. His show was heard not only in Cornwall but in Devon, Somerset and Dorset as well and was therefore the voice of jazz in the South West. For seven years my Dad worked with Roy on the show and went from reading the gig news to co-hosting and over the last 20 years became very good friends with Roy.

He had many musicians on his show and he'd ask them to choose the records that week. I was very surprised one day when down in Cornwall visiting my folks when he asked me if I'd like to go on and choose my favourites. Now I am no musician (although my Dad is) and I was amazed to be asked. I think Roy asked me because I am a jazz fan and relatively young compared to most of the jazzers in the area. I had a ball and I went on the show three more times.Any music fan dreams of being asked to compile lists of their favourite music and I can never thank Roy enough for giving me the opportunity of fulfilling at least one dream

Roy liked all types of jazz but had a great affection for Count Basie. This clip of Basie and Oscar Peterson playing 'Jumpin' At The Woodside' is for you Roy.

You were a lovely man and you will be missed by many, many people.