Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Child’s Mitten Hangs by a Single Peg

And so to books and starting off here with a music focused book that I got for Christmas –

japrocksampler

Japrocksampler: How the Post-war Japanese Blew Their Minds on Rock’n’roll – Julian Cope (2008)

Now I’m a fast reader but here we are in the second week of February and I’ve only just finished a book of c300 pages, what’s going on?

The issue here I think is a combination of Japanese names and the condensing of decades of rock music that caused my synapses to become blocked and unable to take in more than a handful of pages everyday. What wasn’t the issue was Julian’s writing style. I’ve seen it criticised elsewhere but it gave me no grief whatsoever, it’s obvious that he’s passionate about the music and he’s just trying to get that across. In fact I find it refreshing to come across a book like this where the author is enthusiastic, too often they can end up being dry and academic.

And what is a “book like this”?

Well it’s a detailed romp (if such a thing is possible) through the postWar Japanese rock mind, ethos and industry and it’s one hell of a ride as you cover musique concrete, eleki, the Japanese performance of Hair, a hijacked plane, sniffing paint thinners, futen and Miles Davis. This is then topped off by Julian’s top 50 Japrock albums all with their own brief resume, a list that includes (in the author’s own words) – “hard rock, proto-metal, purely psychedelic free-rock, experimental theatre works, choral and orchestral music, experimental percussion works, improvised ambient wipe-outs, progressive rock, and unadulterated guitar mayhem.” A list so wide ranging that it must include at least one thing for every reader that’s into rock music in some shape or form.

For me the biggest discovery, so far, has been Flower Travellin’ Band (track below – it won’t be to everyone’s taste, what is?) but it’s early days and there’s a lot more discovering for me to do!

Rate – 4/5

It’s A Free Concert From Now On……

Off work for the coming week so thought I’d start by making my life easier for when I go back. A mega-ironing session taking on all my work and casual shirts needed some serious long playing music to accompany it so I went for a classic treble LP.

This is one of those records that has been with me for decades and survived house moves in amazingly good condition (having said that the last time we moved the company refused to take my record collection because they were worried about insurance and I had to move it myself). It would have been late 70s/early 80s I bought this off of the back of seeing the Woodstock movie on BBC2. From what I remember it was either a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when they used to stick on some arty or trendy film (presumably as there was such a small back catalogue for them to choose from then), interestingly the film wasn’t censored despite the time of day – The Fish Cheer was there full volume.

Listening to this in one sitting means that it really works, the music, announcements (don’t forget to watch out for the brown acid), crowd chants, thunderstorms all link together to form a whole that is so much more than a sum of its parts – it even makes Sha-Na-Na palatable (I also like to think that their Woodstock appearance was ironic, I know it wasn’t but it helps me).

The group that blew me away the first time I saw the film, and still do, was Ten Years After……………..

Various Artists – Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More – Triple Vinyl (1970)

      • John B Sebastian – I Had a Dream
      • Canned Heat – Going Up The Country
      • Richie Havens – Freedom
      • Country Joe & The Fish – Rock and Soul Music
      • Arlo Guthrie – Coming Into Los Angeles
      • Sha-Na-Na – At The Hop
      • Country Joe McDonald – The Fish Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag
      • Joan Baez & Jeffrey Shurtleff – Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man
      • Joan Baez – Joe Hill
      • Crosby, Stills & Nash – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
      • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Sea Of Madness
      • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Wooden Ships
      • The Who – We’re Not Going To Take It (See Me, Feel Me part only)
      • Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends
      • The Crowd – Crowd Rain Chant
      • Santana – Soul Sacrifice
      • Ten Years After – I’m Going Home
      • Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers
      • Sly & The Family Stone – Medley: Dance To The Music/Music Lover/I Want To Take You Higher
      • John B Sebastian – Rainbows All Over Your Blues
      • Butterfield Blues Band – Love March
      • Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner
      • Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze & Instrumental Solo

Rate – 5/5

Listening Since Day One

CDs – 14, Vinyl Singles – 14, LPs – 9, Downloads – 5, Total Tracks: 307, Time: 22h 35m 36s

Thought I Knew The Score

So what’s on the television? Another short cut to making it famous, pulling on the heart strings wherever possible, cheap to produce show headed up by some modern day “celebrities” (and I use the word advisedly even though it is in quotes)? It must be Saturday night then…………..

This time round it’s The Voice courtesy of BBC1 and, whilst Mrs P loves it, it does nothing for me other than give me the time to put music on in the back room (yes, the one with the lava lamp), sit down and consider how much better things were on tv in the past.

And of course they weren’t, they were remarkably similar to what we have now it’s just that memory has the marvellous knack of forgetting the crap that passes for prime time entertainment that we all have to live through at times – I remember watching Mule Train on Opportunity Knocks and thinking it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen (having said that I was probably about 7 at the time??)

And then I finally caught up with my reading of Shindig! and realised I was just too far up myself with my views on talent shows and what constitutes popular entertainment. I’d heard of Ready, Steady, Go! but a spin-off called Ready, Steady, Win! was totally new to me. It was won by the Bo Street Runners in ’64 – they had formed in ’63 and broke up in ’65………….the more things change the more they stay the same.

But what’s any of this got to do with my record collection? Well for that we need to consider the one judge on The Voice who probably has the right to be considered a true, died in the wool celebrity – Mr Tom Jones.

http://youtu.be/ckabx0MtCY0

Tom Jones – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again / Things I Wanna Do (1967) – Vinyl

Surprisingly the A side is written by Lonnie Donegan of skiffle fame but there’s no sign of that heritage here. Lush orchestration coupled with ‘that voice’ and a chorus that many a broken hearted soul thinks they can sing after one too many wines had this marked as a hit as soon as it came off of the printing press.

Rate – 4/5 Condition – 4/5

Listening Since Day One

CDs – 14, Vinyl Singles – 14, LPs – 8, Downloads – 5, Total Tracks: 284, Time: 21h 5m 12s

 

It’s Possible To Be Too Faithful……

My love for cover versions comes from when the artist brings something new to the song – be it interpretation, emotion, arrangement, whatever. The fact that they can take something that I already know and make it their own in some way, that I respect and it sometimes helps to give me a better insight into the original.

  • Watching The Alarm play “Pinball Wizard” in the 80s, starting as a single guitar acoustic version before exploding into life.
  • Listening to The Flying Lizards and trying to work out how they got the inspiration behind their interpretation of “Money”.
  • Hearing the emotion Fifth Avenue poured into “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” as they played it in tribute to Bon Scott on the day we all found out he’d died.

All of these (and many, many more) can be classed as good things.

But then there are those artists that cover songs but add nothing to the original, as a result they come over as, at best, a tribute act.

And so to Gov’t Mule and this concert, it was shortly after Rick Wright had passed away and a decision was made to make it a night of Pink Floyd covers. But whilst the songs, recording and musicianship are all first rate they come over like a professional covers band – there’s no real ownership and no adaptation of the music (there is a good sax solo on side four though). They stick too close to the originals and most of the time it was playing I was thinking “Why don’t I just put on a proper Pink Floyd concert………..”

I always knew that there was a risk in buying this but I was hoping that they would take the music and do something unexpected  as per The Flying Lizards…………….

Gov’t Mule – Dark Side Of The Mule – Double Vinyl (2014)

    • One Of These Days
    • Fearless
    • Pigs On The Wing Pt. 2
    • Comfortably Numb
    • Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pts. 1-5
    • Have A Cigar
    • Breathe (In The Air)
    • Time
    • The Great Gig In The Sky
    • Money
    • Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pts. 6-9
    • Wish You Were Here

Rate – 2/5

Listening Since Day One

CDs – 14, Vinyl Singles – 13, LPs – 8, Downloads – 5, Total Tracks: 282, Time: 20h 58m 45s