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When the music’s just starting

UnknownRecord Store Day is  a mixed moment for me. On the one hand, I love the idea of a day designated for the celebration of vinyl (my collection can be seen here). The B side is that it has been taken over by what we used to call “The Man”.  Record companies pump out rubbish from their archives and some collectors buy stuff just to sell it on eBay a day or two later for five times what it is worth.

Nonetheless, I make the trek each year to my local vinyl shop — the fabulous In The Groove — and buy something. This year it turned out to be a treat — “The Doors – Let’s Feed Ice Cream to the Rats”.

The thing about this recording is that it is early Doors, a concert held at The Matrix in San Francisco on March 7 and 10, 1967. The band had barely been playing for a year. Guitarist Robby Krieger (underrated in the guitarist Pantheon in my opinion) reckons the first gig was a Christmas party in November 1965 at a Hughes Aircraft site where keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s  mother worked. They played jazz standards. It was Jim Morrison’s first outing.

So this recording is at most 15 months after The Doors arrived. It was held at The Matrix, which is something of a storied venue. Located on Fillmore Street, it was famed for launching Jefferson Airplane, but also hosted an amazing set of musicians from Big Brother and the Holding Company vis Santana to the likes of The Velvet Underground.

To the modern listener, this wonderful recording sound a tad odd in one respect. After Morrison and Co. have belted out a magnificent song, the audience response is one of polite, appreciative clapping. It is miles away from the raucous response in arena gigs to come. This is probably because The Doors were newish and the audience sophisticated in rock terms.

This doesn’t detract from the album, just adds a quaint quirk. It is The Doors, after all, and the performances of songs like “Summer’s Almost Gone” and “Moonlight Drive” are frankly what one would expect from a bad that it is increasingly evident was way before its time.

Here is the track list:

Side 1: Unhappy Girl, Moonlight Drive, People Are Strange, My Eyes Have Seen You, Summer’s Almost Gone

Side 2: I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind, When The Music’s Over,Let’s Feed Ice Cream to the Rats – The End

 

 

 

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Nothing compares, indeed

Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” but never released it. Now, The Prince Estate has put it together with video of him and The Revolution practising (if you can call what he does in high heels that).

Waste of time my saying anything about it. Just watch and enjoy.

Stagger(ing) Nick Cave concert film

This is one of those “I wasn’t expecting that” moments. A distant appreciation of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has just become a fixation.

Audiences in selected cinemas worldwide were served up a treat on April 12 with the broadcast of “Distant Sky”,  the concert film of Cave’s October 2017 concert at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen. What a ride it was.

Longtime Cave fans would a) not have been surprised and b) might have wanted a bit more of the early post-punk stuff. But for me — a relative newbie — it was a treasure, a rocky, progy, punky delight dominated by the charismatic Cave teetering in front of his ecstatic Danish audience. Behind him, music maestro Warren Ellis and the rest of  the Seeds hammered out a magnificent orchestral set, one moment soothing the soul, the next setting the heart racing to near attack levels.

I realise that this will be controversial, but one surprise for me was the near prog rock element of some of the performance starting with the opener “Anthrocene” and moving through “Tupelo”, “Jubilee Street” and even the older “The Weeping Song”. Starting slow and building up into soaring crescendos, I kept thinking of Sigur Ros, but only in terms of format.

Cave’s rapport with the audience was special, even dragging dozens up on stage for a final “Stagger Lee”. He was truly mesmerising. Count me now as a real fan – better late than never.

SET LIST:

  1. (feat. Else Torp on vocals)
  2. Encore:

 

Fine looking guitars

Ok, I would not normally post an ad. Indeed, there is a part of me that is hesitant to do so. But these guitars are just so lovely, I had to.  The music is not bad either. I got no money for this, nor a guitar. Just posted something that I liked. Forgive me and enjoy.

On The Road: American Music

DSC02005 2One of the great things about travelling is being reminded of music wherever you go. During a recent trip to the United States, for example, I stayed on Seventh Avenue in New York and kept thinking of Paul Simon’s riff on the street’s whores in “The Boxer”. It was cold, so Bruce Springsteen’s three-blocks-away “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” also seemed a-propos.

And it is nearly impossible to drive through West Virginia (as I did in a blizzard) without thinking of John Denver’s “Country Roads” (or Toots and the Maytals’ Jamaican take on it). Ditto, in passing, with driving on the New Jersey Turnpike without humming Simon’s “America”.

Driving through Ohio was a bit more sombre as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Four Dead In Ohio” kept running thought my head. More obscurely, I found myself recalling Harvey Andrews’ “Hey Sandy”, the paen to Sandra Scheuer, one the four dead shot at Kent State University in 1970 by the Ohio National Guard.

The real surprise for me, however, was finding myself in a used vinyl shop in Champaign, Illinois, and being told it was part of the old railway station that served the Illinois Central Railroad.

Cue Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans” (actually written by Steve Goodman):

Riding on the City of New Orleans

Illinois Central, Monday morning rail

Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders

Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.

A long time resident of the city told me that trains used to bring some great and famous musicians up to Chicago from Memphis and vice versa. They had a habit of stopping off for the night in Champaign, long home to the University of Illinois, and providing gigs a-plenty.

 

 

The Fish Police – genre benders

Members of my family occasionally look at me askance when I am tending to my music collection because I can get very frustrated and upset. This is when I am trying to put a genre to a particular album or artist and can’t work out where they go. Yes, I know, this is very nerdy. But when it comes to music, I can be.

So imagine my delight/horror when a band came across my transom described as “neurodiverse electronic music pioneers”. Aieee! A whole new genre!

Well, not really, The band concerned are The Fish Police. They have been around a while and  they are basically Afro Punk. That is, a bit rappy with basic chords and a smattering of Nigeria or the like. The Guardian newspaper nicely noted they give a nod to “everything from MF Doom, Kraftwerk, De La Soul, the Ramones to Grace Jones” (with whom some of the band play). I might add Keziah Jones and Trombone Shorty.

I like the band very much. Check out the video of “Japanese Girl” below.

The “neurodiverse” is interesting, though. It  comes because two of the band — singer, rapper and songwriter Dean Rodney Jr. and guitarist  Matthew Howe — are both autistic/on the autistic spectrum*.  The other two members — Charles Stuart (bass, co-songwriter, background vocals) and Andrew Mclean (live drums) — are not.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the neurodiverse bit means the band stands out in an industry when standing out is about the only way you can get attention unless you are really, really special. It is important in these circumstances, I believe, not to succumb to the “gee whiz” factor.

Luckily, there is not much need in this case. If I hadn’t been told about the autism, I would not have even guessed from listing to the music. The band has enough to offer without it. Indeed, they are off to play at SXSW in the middle of March (where they are billed as electronic Afro Punk, by the way).

Check them out:

 

*There is a large debate these days about how you express this. For reference I used this article  from the National Autistic Society.

New (360 degree) Steve Martin

As many of you know, there is more to Steve Martin than just a funny man — although he is that. He is also a banjo wizzard.

Here is his latest video. Really interesting that he is using 360, but unfortunately I cannot do justice with it technically.