Sunday, 31 August 2008

Paul Leary: Turn on, Tune in, Dog out

It surprised me a lot when I first heard this album; so I presume it surprised others as well.

Released around the same time as the Surfers' Pioughd, which was by far the most 'inoffensive' of the band's albums to that date, Leary's album seemed even calmer; even more sedate, even discussing political and environmental issues!
And lo-fi it certainly isn't.

There's some pretty slick stuff here. I mean Steve Vai it ain't, but there's some mighty fine chops on display.
It's a Mike Oldfield kind of affair, with Leary playing everything, providing all the vocals, engineering it and producing it, too - he probably even rolled his own spliffs.

And it's certainly more of a stoner album
than a total onslaught on the ears. This is no PCPEP.

Leary cannot sing, but he manages by adopting funny voices, mainly a double-tracked eerie falsetto, which sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does!

There's some wonderful arrangements here, 'Indians Storm the Government' and 'Too Many People' being the strangest, with the latter sounding like a psychedelic, Vegas, Tiller Girl, Busby Berkeley style mash-up. Great stuff!

As for the environmental aspect, I remember my young son on hearing the track 'How Much Longer', which features the couplet: 'How much longer/Till the Earth gets blown up?', becoming quite concerned, and quizzing me as to when this would happen. I'm sure environmental awareness became part of his life from that moment. Not something one would expect from listening to an album by the Butthole Surfers' guitar player.

Paul Leary - The History of Dogs

The Birds are Dying
Apollo One
Dalhart Down the road
How Much Longer
He's Working Overtime
Indians Storm the Government
Is it Mikey
Too Many People
The City
Fine Home

Cassette rip.
Thanks to GD for artwork.
The next one's for you.

Get it here

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Less haste more Verve

The first Verve recording was not as many assume the album A Storm in Heaven but a wonderful extended play (and at thirty-two minutes very nearly an LP) known simply as The Verve E.P.
Released in 92, it contains the two early singles: 'She's a Superstar' and 'Gravity Grave', and the excellent track 'Feel', by far the best track, and still remains one of my favourite songs of theirs; really anticipating their later accessible psychedelic sound so evident on their first two albums.

This is certainly a more ethereal Verve: less in your face, less preachy and lacking the later adopted arrogance, especially lyrically.
If you liked A Storm in Heaven then this is essential listening.

Gravity Grave (Edit)
A Man Called Sun
She's a Superstar (Edit)
Endless Life

Get it here

"We are getting back together for the joy of the music." Ashcroft.

This of course being the band's second resurrection, I do believe this recent set at Glastonbury (29/6/08) proves that among the plethora of 'Super-groups' who have graced us with their presence of late, The Verve's may be one of the more creative and meaningful.
Typical of many headlining festival sets it is pretty much their greatest hits; although the version of 'Space and Time' is quite sublime; really encapsulating what it is that makes The Verve one of the greatest contemporary pop acts.
Their album Forth has been mainly criticised in the press for sounding more like A Northern Soul than Urban Hymns.
Well for my money that's no bad thing.
The new songs in this set don't sound at all out of place, and the rendition of the single 'Love is Noise' as a finale was an act of genius.

"Love and peace to all bands.
It's a struggle.
Life's a struggle.
And Monday morning may be a struggle for a lot of you in a job that you despise.
Working for a boss that you despise.
A slave to money then you die.
God bless ya."

Thank you Rich; welcome back.

Set List:
This is Music
Space and Time
Sit and Wonder
Velvet Morning
The Drugs Don't Work
Lucky Man
Bittersweet Symphony
Love is Noise

Ripped from TV broadcast.
Get it here

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Shoes For Industry 45

It’s always going to be a difficult choice, the first posting on a new blog. But this little seventies' gem not only sets the tone for things to come, but it was the record that began my obsession with new and 'alternative' music.

It wasn't the first record I bought, that was Wizzard's 'See My Baby Jive'. (Curiously enough, for those who are into synchronicity, 'See My Baby Jive' was the number one record in the British singles chart on the day of my live-in-lover and mother of my daughter's birth!)

As a thirteen year old kid, punk rock had excited and enthused me. But U.K post-punk I initially found disappointing. It was too dour, too bleak, apocalyptic even, for my sensitive adolescent ears. (My own serious existential angst was yet to kick-in.)1979, the year of Unknown Pleasures, Live at the Witch Trials, Three Imaginary Boys , Metal Box (still, I believe, one of the bleakest recordings ever) and Wire's 154, all of which scared and depressed the hell out of me. They also seemed to go against all that punk promised and stood for; at least in the way I understood it.

I was looking for some joy in my life, and apart from my new found interest in reggae, the majority of dynamic new music seemed to be emanating from the States.I had already discovered Zappa, Beefheart, the Fugs and the Residents, as well as lots of U.S. psychedelia, but what sounded most gratifying and inspiring to me was the music coming out of the American new wave scene: The Cramps' Songs the Lord Taught Us, Talking Heads with their classic Fear of Music and Devo's Duty Now for the Future (although I was always a little perturbed by Mothersbaugh's "We shoved the Poles in the holes").

But then, one normal school-day lunchtime, while smoking cigs and playing darts with a few muckers, the guy whose house we had invaded decided to play his older brother's brand new single. It was the funniest but at the same time one of the most progressive pieces of music I had heard.

And it instantly changed my life.

So what does it sound like?Well, it is a kind of cover version of the song 'Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)' (originally Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt) made famous by Marlene Dietrich in the movie The Blue Angel (originally Der blaue Engel), but it deliciously deviates away from the original English translated lyric; especially noticeable when the vocalist blurts out "666" every now and then in a most tourettic fashion.

There's lots of primitive keyboards, but not in a Human League or Kraftwerk way; they're used far more humorously, particularly on the flip side, when the moog adopts a spiteful onomatopoeic laugh. And it is, despite being fun (in a dancey kind of way), terribly vitriolic and blatantly misanthropic:

"I like to laugh coz you look like a clown with your trousers down
And when you're talking with someone you're trying to impress
And you're trying so hard but they couldn't care less
And you feel like you're starting to look like a jerk
So you put on an air but it just doesn't work
And your voice starts to crack and there's sweat on your face

And already I can see that you wish you were dead
You're so funny I just have to laugh"

and there's even a little xenophobia, to boot:

"I like to laugh at Americans
I like to laugh at their Westcoast's men

I like to laugh at the clothes they wear
I like to laugh at their haircuts, yeah"

Unfortunately, the band, who were based in Bristol in the west of England were not together long, producing just one other single and an album. They were part of the Fried Egg Record stable, and this single was the first Fried Egg produced.
I hope I've whet your appetite, and I will be posting Shoes for Industry's album Talk Like a Whelk sometime in the near future.

That's just as good; only longer!

Falling in Love Again (label credit: can't help it)
Laughing Song (label credit: Laughbeat)

Download Here