Saturday, 31 October 2009

Doctor in the House

I have lots of fond memories of this band.
They often performed at London all dayers and nighters back in the eighties along with Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, PWEI et al.
If they weren't performing, the Doctor (Clive) would often take up position on the decks and act as house DJ and compere.
He was very good.

Visually, the band were stunning; with their peculiar take on psychedelic kabuki, the Doctor's crazy hair dos, and the Anadin Brothers' (Wendi and Colette) synchronized dance routines: it all made for great entertainment.

This e.p. from 1987 is a good representation of their sound; moving from a Devo-like angular style to progy-new wave, all soaked in a fair dose of eighties' psychedelia.
And of course: its got a great cover!

Doctor and the Medics - Two Pieces of Cloth Carefully Stitched Together (1987)

Sound of Chains
Perfect World
Silver King
Age of Gold

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Fill your prescription here

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Soul Shall Be Required

Wicked 1969 sampler from British Soul and R&B pioneers Soul City Records.
A collection of top tunes from difficult to buy 60's American artists; specifically targeting home audiences eager to experience the "exciting, everchanging scene of Soul Music, more than just a transitory fad."

The compilation is bookended by a couple of real original greats.
Opening with the R&B classic 'It's All Over Now' - made famous by cover band extraordinaire The Rolling Stones - here produced in all its raw glory by The Valentinos, belted out masterfully by the song's co-composer Bobby Womack.

And ending with Bessie Banks' soulful delivery of 'Go Now'; anglicized mournfully and made massive by The Moody Blues - this version is so much better. Alone well worth the download.

Also included are some great dancy instrumentals.
A young Billy Preston pushes the Hammond to the max on his 'Greazee - Part 2'; The Soul City Executives go upbeat and party during 'Happy Chatter'; and The Packers' perform an excellent Booker T styled track with 'Go Head On'.
If these songs don't make you wanna get up and dance, you need to check your pulse...

As well as live sounding R&B tracks, best utilized by Thelma Jones and the great Chuck Edwards - 'Downtown Soulville' must be one of the best R&B tunes ever produced - the "now sound of Soul and R&B" is also represented; Chris Jackson singing a blinding falsetto vocal over an orchestrated wall of sound; a style that would soon come to dominate the genre.

All in all a superb collection.
Evey track's a star; and despite this sampler being forty years old, if you want to let your hair hang down and really wig out, you'd be hard pressed to beat this... It's real bad!

Various Artists - Soul From The City (1969)

It's All Over Now - The Valentinos
It's A Good Life - Sylvia
Greazee-Part 2 - Billy Preston
The Star - Shirley Lawson
Downtown Soulville - Chuck Edwards
Happy Chatter - The Soul Executives
The House That Jack Built - Thelma Jones
Go head On - The Packers
I'll Never Forget You - Chris Jackson
Go Now - Bessie Banks

Excellent vinyl rip (despite its age) @320kbs
Get as deep as you like here

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Real Live

I was ripping this for myself, and figured it was so good it had to be shared.

From London's Camden Town Roundhouse, this blistering Magazine set was broadcast as part of the BBC's Electric Proms festival.

And boy were they hot.
I don't think I've heard so much energy from a reformed band as apparent on this recording.
The songs sound alive and fresh; delivered with style and vitality; no evidence here of a band merely going through the motions.

The set list is perfect. A collection of A and B sides.
Beginning with the dynamic 'Shot By Both Sides' and ending perfectly with 'I Love You, You Big Dummy', a song they colonize so expertly, it's easy to forget that it was conceived by someone else; and that's saying something about a Beefheart cover.

Devoto is on top form too.
He does ham it up a little for the first few numbers, but as the band settles, Howard loosens up, actually sounding like he's having a good time: enjoying every minute in fact.

After such a blinding set as this, the big question is: what now?
New material? An album?

Norman Fischer-Jones (Noko) has been recruited in to fill the empty space left by the late John McGeoch; during this set he totally justified that choice; and I'm not sure that Jonny Greenwood - often mentioned as a potential collaborator with Magazine - would have made a better job.

But for me, apart from the band's startling sonic effects, it was always Barry Adamson's bass playing that made their sound. And he certainly hasn't lost his touch; playing this set with great gusto and real energy.

I enjoyed this a lot.
I can't recommend it enough.

Magazine - Live at the Roundhouse, 22/10/09

Shot By Both Sides
Rhythm of Cruelty
A Song From Under the Floorboards
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Sweetheart Contract
Feed the Enemy
Give Me Everything
The Book
20 Years Ago
The Light Pours Out Of Me
I Love You, You Big Dummy

Ripped from captured broadcast to mp3s @320kbs
Get your subscription here

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Non Traditional Punk

Less sardonic or sarky than John Cooper Clarke; without the wit of Attila or the vitriol of the Poisons; lacking the antagonism of Crass or the spite of Mark Astronaut, Patrik Fitzgerald soon found himself occupying a more Romantic position within the world of punk poetry.

Daubed the 'New Dylan' by certain rags - the reality couldn't have been further from the truth; for Patrik's music was as British as you could get.

Bowie's influence is obvious, you can hear it throughout the vocal delivery (he even name checks him during 'Live Out My Stars'); but there was enough difference in Fitzgerald's voice to prevent him from being a mere imitator.
Besides, his subject matter was a world away from Bowie's; gravitating more towards traditional late seventies' fare: paranoia, mental illness, decay and poverty (in an introduction to one of his songs he complains that his hands are 'so cold': he's recording in his bedroom).

So no big production here, just Patrik and his guitar.
And personally I prefer the Bedroom Tapes tracks (1977, originally side B of the vinyl release) to those tracks recorded at Redwood Studios in '78; the lo-fi, demo-like, hissy home-made recordings suit the songs so well; authentically capturing Patrik in the raw: adding enormously to the poignancy and mood of the songs.

(I love his little preamble to 'George', a song about George Davis, a celebrity-type bank robber who was the focus of the 'Free George Davis' campaign; capturing Patrik debating whether Davis is innocent or not; deciding that because Sham had recorded 'George Davis is Innocent' he probably wasn't. Aah, the naïveté.)

Listening to this album now, three decades beyond punk, Patrik Fitzgerald's music stands up better than ever (compare this to artists such as Devendra Banhart or Jeffrey Lewis).

Free of the shackles of the zeitgeist in which it was made, his recordings can now be seen and understood as belonging firmly to the English balladeer tradition.

Patrik Fitzgerald - The Paranoid Ward (1978)

Side A - The Paranoid Ward

Irrelevant Battles
Cruellest Crime
The Paranoid Ward
The Bingo Crowd

Side B - The Bedroom Tapes

Life at the Top
Ragged Generation For Real
Live Out My Stars

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Share life with Patrik here

Much of Patrik's recorded music is long deleted, but if you like these early recordings it may well be worth checking out his only available product: The Very Best of Patrik Fitzgerald: Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart

Friday, 16 October 2009

Captain Marvel

Despite the rather dodgy cover (is that Don?), this live recording from Seattle, 1981, is one of the better Beefheart boots.

The recording obviously came from within the audience, but the quality isn't bad; I give it an A-.

Along with an excellent set list - reads almost like a 'Best Of', although it doesn't feature 'I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go' [his finest moment], it does feature 'Veterans' Day Poppy', 'Big Eyed Beans From Venus' and 'Hothead', the best tracks from Trout Mask Replica, Clear Spot and Doc at The Radar Station respectively - a band that was in touch with what their leader was doing - it would have been nice to have a quality boot like this from 1971, but beggars can't be choosers, and 1981 does actually capture Beefheart and his Magic Band at a very creative time; he had been reborn: Doc at the Radar Station had gone down a storm, and his audience had never been bigger - and a half decent recording, this makes for an essential addition to any Beefheart collection.

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - Don's 40th Birthday Party (1981)

Flavur Bud Living
My Human Gets Me Blues
Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man
Ashtray Heart
Best Batch Yet
Safe As Milk
A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
The One Red Rose That I Mean
Doctor Dark
Bat Chain Puller
Sugar 'n Spikes
Veterans' Day Poppy
Sheriff Of Hong Kong
Suction Prints
Big Eyed Beans From Venus

CD rip to mp3s
Artwork included

Don yourself with Beefheart here

Monday, 12 October 2009

Honest John

I thought I'd post a little more music from Jah Wobble's enormous back catalogue in celebration of the release of his autobiography: Memoirs of a Geezer.

I anticipate reading it with even more excitement than reading Ozzy Osbourne's recent confessional.
And for a rock autobiography it has received good reviews, making it a truly essential purchase.

So firstly let's journey back to 1983 for a collaborative recording from Wobble, The Edge and Holger Czukay with the mini-LP release Snake Charmer.

The title track very much reflects the time in which it was made; an example from the early days of electonica based dance music; a time still suffering from the lasting effects of the doings of Trevor Horn and the sounds emanating from his Perfect Sounds stable.

'It Was a Camel' and 'Sleazy' (undoubtedly the best track. A jam really, with the band stripped right back to a trio, creating enough space to allow Mr. Wobble to reveal his bass chops) probably represent best where Wobble was going with his music, although he was yet to fall into bed with ambient dub and find inspiration in world music.

Jah Wobble, The Edge & Holger Czukay - Snake Charmer (1983)

Snake Charmer
Hold On To Your Dreams
It Was a Camel
Snake Charmer (reprise)

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Charm yourself here
My other offering comes from December 1991; an Andy (remember him?) Kershaw session broadcast by the BBC.

Here the Invaders of the Heart are in full flight; Animal has been replaced by the idiosyncratic Justin Adams, and the band rely heavily on Arabic and North African rhythms and textures.
Wobble has found his distinctive bass sound, and he's much more bold and adventurous in what he's doing.

If the earlier recording revealed an artist searching for a niche, this session proved that over the following eight years Wobble had dug in deep, finding his muse in the very Earth.

Invaders of the Heart - BBC Radio Session for Andy Kershaw (1991)


Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Ululate along with this here

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Edward the Confessor

I was once standing in a queue outside Dingwalls in Camden Town waiting to see Stump.
Dingwalls is a small club, and if someone interesting was playing - Stump were at the time - it was always a good idea to get there early; judging by the size of the line that night I'm glad I did.

There appeared to be a delay, and those waiting started to get a little fidgety; the odd 'Cuuuum-on' could be heard from the less patient waiters.

All of a sudden, as if from nowhere, a busker-type began walking up and down the line while singing and playing an acoustic guitar.

It was a great tradition one time in London: street entertainers would often perform to those queuing outside of theatres and the opera.

However, this guy was anything but traditional.

He was wearing what I imagine those Europeans who were out fighting in Indochina in the 1950s would have worn: a pith helmet; a matching khaki shirt and long, below the knee starched shorts; gray, school type socks pulled up tight, meeting the hem of the stiff shorts; and a pair of biblical styled open sandals.
On his face he wore a big ginger curly beard.

He was singing and playing his heart out.
At first he was interesting, then comical; but as the wait continued he started to become rather disturbing, he became more and more intense, making some in the line feel incredibly uncomfortable.

At last we were in, and as the club quickly filled an announcement was made: 'there will be a special guest performance this evening as well as the main act.'

Hmm, wonder who that could be?

Yeah, you guessed it.

It was the crazy fucking dude from outside; the busker who appeared to have just suffered some kind of mental breakdown while trying to do his thing; screaming at the top of his voice while strumming frantically on his quite badly damaged guitar with a dessert spoon.

On stage he was just as alienating.
But somehow, now his performance was legitimized, strangely endearing.

I can only remember one song distinctly from his set that night, mainly due to his confessional preamble, revealing how when he was a kid he couldn't be bothered to go all the way from his bedroom to the toilet, so he jumped out of bed, quickly shat on the floor and then hurriedly returned to his nice warm space beneath the covers.

His mother on finding the nasty deposit concluded that the dog must have done it, and proceeded to wipe the confused pet's face in it.

Our narrator had observed this horrific scene by timorously peeping out from under the covers, suffering terrible pangs of guilt; guilt that had remained with him ever since.

As soon as he started the song, you knew his story was true.
The amount of conviction he put into his performance - I've never seen anybody so remorseful, so racked with guilt and ruin - was so authentic, so real, your heart would have gone out to him (and the dog).
75% of the song consisted of him screaming how sorry he was: 'I'M SORRY DOG, I'M SORRY DOG...'
I swear I could see tears rolling down his face.

I had been introduced to the phenomenon that is Edward Barton.
As an homage to Edward, many of his contemporaries from his native Manchester (and beyond) put together this truly wonderful selection of their versions of his songs.
There's some excellent tracks here; Edward Barton was obviously a productive muse.

The real highlights (although it's hard to see any weakness in the album) come from Inspiral Carpets, who kick things off with what I think is their greatest recording.
The two tracks from Stump, who are split into two camps for this recording, are wonderful: McKahey and Hopper, the band's rhythm section, performing a subversive piece of 'traditionally' styled Irish music; juxtaposed with Lynch and Salmon's performance of Barton's elegy to onanism: 'Knob Gob'.
Patrick Mooney's cover of 'Me and My Mini' and the wonderful Ted Chippington's reading of Barton's 'Z Bend' are alone well worth downloading this album for; and it's great to hear Ruthless Rap Assassins performing 'Z Bend' in a hip-hop style; reminiscent of Franti's Disposable Heroes.
808 State perform the aforementioned 'Sorry Dog', and a big surprise comes at the end with Fossil performing a splendid piece of trip-hoppy jazz for their version of 'On a Hot Day'.

All in all, a fantastic recording.
A worthy homage to an unique performer and artist.

Various Artists - Edward Not Edward (1989)

Two Cows - Inspiral Carpets
King of a Flat Country - Robert McKahey & Kevin Hopper (half of Stump)
Dear Dad - Cathal Coughlin & the Fatima Mansions
Knob Gob - Mick Lynch & Chris Salmon (half of Stump)
Barber Barber - Dub Sex
Me and My Mini - Patrick Mooney
Telephone Box - Louis Philippe
Z Bend - Ted Chippington
I Slap My Belly - Jane
Z Bend - Ruthless Rap Assassins
Sorry Dog - 808 State
Barber Barber - A Guy Called Gerald
I am a Mother - Chapter and the Verse
Smother - Kiss AMC
On a Hot Day - Fossil

Viny rip @320kbs
There is some surface noise which I couldn't eradicate, but not enough to ruin listening experience: one mustn't be too anal...
Experience Ted's songwriting prowess here

Check out some of Edward's recent doings at his website;
go there for some free downloads.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Colour Me Pop

I was not a big fan of the Paisley Underground sound or any of the other sub-genres deriving from that strangely titled beast: alt country.
(I don't include the more traditional artists in this category; those who are often considered 'outlaws': Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, early Beck, et al. I'm referring to the more commercial bands who seem to be lumped under this bludgeoning, marketable term.)

And I've never really been a big fan of Green On Red...

This recording is quite special.

I've listened to other Green On Red recordings on the back of this one; but they don't come close; their studio sound epitomizes everything I dislike about this genre.
Sorry guys.
I don't know what it was about this gig - although the clues are there: recorded at the end of an apparent disastrous European tour; a stand-in last minute drummer, required due to the regular skin thumper walking away; and difficulties with legal and financial obligations - but they appear, to me at least, to be a completely different band.
Maybe all that bad shit going on allowed them to perform as if they really meant it.

I normally detest blues played by WASPs, mainly because it's so disingenuous, but the two highlights of this album for me are the two big slow blues numbers: 'We Had It All' and 'Morning Blue', the latter being particularly moving; Chuck Prophet playing like I've never heard him play before (or since).

Together, the execution and performance of this set along with the lush recording makes for a great listen.
So if you too, like me, have never really been a fan of either the band or the genre, it may still be worth checking this out; you never know, you may be pleasantly surprised...

This version was released on cassette only; there was a 10" vinyl edition released, but it lacked two of the tracks featured here.

Green On Red - Live at the Town and Country Club (1989)

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Poor ole Dan here