Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Byrne Baby Byrne

David Byrne was responsible for one of the real watershed moments during my younger life.
The epiphany came during a late night broadcast of The Old Grey Whistle Test; Talking Heads were making their British TV debut; their performance of 'Psycho Killer' that night was stunning and incredibly exciting.
The ordinariness of the band juxtaposed with the jagged, angular rhythm; Tina Weymoth's intense stare; and, above all, David Byrne's jerky, Tourettic-like, ticky delivery, made me realise you didn't have to look like you'd just stepped off an alien space ship to make new, noticeable, and far out music.

But that was all a long time ago.
(Still gives me a thrill when I watch it now though.
O YouTube...)

A more recent TV broadcast (2003, BBC4) caught Byrne on top form playing in the gorgeous surroundings of The Union Chapel in Islington, London, as part of his Lazy Eyeball Tour, 2002.

Employing a very percussive band (no keys or second guitar) and a sextet of strings that take the tunes back through time to the baroque; into the present with banging club sounds; journeying through space via North Africa, Europe, the USA and beyond, allowing all of Byrne's intermediate discoveries and influences to come together and shine.

David Byrne - Live at Union Chapel (2002 - first broadcast 2003).

And She Was
Once in a Lifetime
The Great Intoxication
The Revolution
Uni De Felice
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
What a Day That Was
U.B. Jesus
Life During Wartime
Road to Nowhere

Excellent quality rip from broadcast @320kbs

An official DVD release of this concert has been made available, featuring more tracks than I have included here.
This is an audio rip from the TV broadcast, not from the DVD.

Grab a Talking Head here

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bass of Sobriety

On emerging from his mole-like toil, steering commuters through the trogloditic world occupied by London Underground, Jah Wobble returned tentatively to a music business that had been seriously pissed-off with many of the madcap bassist's pre-subterranean antics.

It was difficult for anyone to take him seriously; he had gained reputation: he was difficult, drunk, and often disorderly.

But he had a vision.
An aural vision.
And he found just the right musician to help give his vision substance.

Ex-Etonian and 'Ubertoff' (as Wobble dubbed him) Justin Adams had a sensibility in his guitar playing that was inspired by and reminiscent of Middle-Eastern and Arabic sounds.
This was music to Wobble's ears, and they were soon playing together under the name Invaders of the Heart.

It did take a couple of years before anyone really took notice of their efforts, and it was only through Wobble's dogged persistency that the breakthrough album Without Judgment was ever released at all.

While they were waiting for their breakthrough to happen, Wobble and Adams recorded several tracks for Aki Nawaz's Nation Records, for inclusion on their seminal world-music dance fusion compilation Fuse.

Nation released the better of the tracks as 12" singles; Invaders of the Heart's 'The Unspoken Word' being one of them.

With the assistance of Zahrema's voice, 'The Unspoken Word' is a bubbly piece of arabic flavoured dub; essentially Jah Wobble, the Ovation bass fluid and confident; but Adams forceful in his playing, reminds the listener that it was the combination of Wobble and Adams that formed and shaped the distinctive sound; a sound so immediately identifiable to Invaders of the Heart.

Invaders of the Heart - The Unspoken Word (1989)

A: The Unspoken Word
B: The Unspoken Word (Dub)

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
A segues nicely into B, creating a continuous piece lasting 16 minutes.

Make your ears all Wobbly here

Monday, 8 February 2010


Not being a fan of Faith No More - although their version of DK's 'Let's Lynch the Landlord' was bloody genius - I was totally stunned on first hearing this album.
I know Roddy Bottum was (is, aren't they back together?) merely the keyboard player in that monster nu-metal outfit, and keyboard players don't tend to be the most conspicuous within metal bands, but the difference in sound - and attitude - between Bottum's day-job band and this, his hobby band, is immense.

Strapping on an electric guitar and fronting a rock band can do wonders for the ego.
And as long as one can avoid the phallocentric urge, there is no better way to express raw, authentic emotion.
Roddy Bottum it seems had a lot to say.

Existential lyrics emerge from crisp, percussive riffs.
His words are playful, spiteful, provocative and funny.
Nearly every song has a hit the button moment.
That moment when the guitar player pushes the pedal switch.
That moment when you feel the rush.
The crush from behind.
And from within.
With a female rhythm section (and that's more Freudian than I intended) and old friend Will Schwartz helping out with guitar parts, Bottum appears to keep it real; his vulnerable delivery creates instant empathy, and the way the listener is compelled to join in with the lasting refrains creates an immediate bond.
Queer sensibility or not.

Imperial Teen - Seasick (1996)

Imperial Teen
Water Boy
Pig Latin
Blaming the Baby
You're One
Tippy Tap

CD rip to mp3s
Get all emotional here

Monday, 1 February 2010

Horse Meet

For his second album, Anton Fier drafted in through the Golden Palominos' ever revolving door carefully chosen musicians to nail and delineate his rapidly evolving ideas.

As one of alternative music's biggest hitters - he's Bonzo-like in his relationship with the skins - his ideas were naturally going to be bombastic.
So he needed some giants to carry it off.
Which is when everyone found out just how well connected Fier was.

The roll-call for Visions of Excess was magnificent, reading more like a guest list for a gong show than album credits.
Among others are: Bill Laswell, Jody Harris, Richard Thompson, Henry Kaiser, Jack Bruce, Nicky Skopelitis, Carla Bley and Arto Lindsay.

Some sessions they must have been.

Top notch singers were also cast; appropriate to type; applying the finishing touch to Fier's genre expanding sounds.

Michael Stipe, singing on the opening three tracks, establishes the alt. country, Americana flavour that Fier was now dabbling in.
This new found interest allowed Stipe the opportunity to really let loose on 'Clustering Train', which to my ear sounds like one of the best songs REM never recorded.

Syd Straw, making her lead debut, furthered Fier's interest in Americana on a couple of tracks; but then a swerve was made musically: first one way with the more stripped down track 'Only One Party', including a return for former Palomino Arto Lindsay who sings lead; and then more obliquely with 'The Animal Speaks', a song fronted by John Lydon - proceeding a tremendous belch - which is about as far away from alt. country and Americana as it could get on this album.

And if 'Clustering Train' sounds like one of the best tracks REM never recorded, 'The Animal Speaks' sounds like a long lost track from a long lost PIL session.

The Golden Palominos - Visions of Excess (1985)

Boy (Go)
Clustering Train
The Animal Speaks
Silver Bullet
(Kind of) True
Buenos Aires
Only One Party

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Get yourself some horse here