Monday, 29 March 2010

Art for Art's sake

"When the prestige of state and religion is low, man is free,
but he finds freedom intolerable and chooses to enslave himself through drugs and depression."

This quote, followed by a very downbeat rendition of 'Suzanne' and a dedication to a dead brother, doesn't make for the most auspicious start to what is in fact a witty, provocative, deep (and often appropriately shallow) but in the main entertaining and very funny show.

His brother isn't dead, it's revealed.
But Arthur Smith, the Balham-based 'semi-professional' comedian and writer, uses the lie to position the audience through pathos, much in the same way Leonard Cohen used to do with his songs.

And you really don't have to be a Leonard Cohen fan to enjoy this; I'm not, and neither is Arthur Smith, apparently.

Cohen is used more as a metaphor; glue that holds the observational and often confessional show together - although some of Smith's versions of the old misery's songs, supported and accompanied by ex-Fabulous Poodle Ronnie Golden, are really not at all bad.
Their 'First We Take Manhattan' is possibly better than the original; and Smith's adopted first person intro to 'Chelsea Hotel' is masterful: the admission of "I am Kris Kristofferson" in his rich Bermondsey brogue is quite sublime.

So if you fancy some existential humour, of the not necessarily too cerebral kind, this is well worth checking out, as it's one of the best radio adaptations of a comedy stage show you'll hear.

Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen - Adapted from original stage show (2000)

Captured broadcast from BBC Radio 4.
Excellent rip to mp3 @320kbs

Thanks to Cem for artwork. Perfect!
Get down with Arthur here

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Mud Men

Mudhoney do what Mudhoney do ever so well on this e.p.

The title track, a classic Seattle tune, begins with a riff, a drum roll, a scream from Arm, launching into a head down flat out 12 bar boogie.
A stonker, enabling Steve Turner to float fluid feedback laden lead over the top of Arm's riff and vocal.
Great sound; great tune.

The bonus track, 'Need', is credited on the sleeve as a 'Demo', but you'd hardly notice.
It sounds finished to me.
The quality of sound is superb; but I guess comparatively with 'You Got It' it lacks the polished production.
To my ear it's preferable. Sounding more live; more vibrant; and consequently it's one of my favourite Mudhoney tunes; containing, what I believe to be one of Arm's best vocal performances.

The final track, 'Burn it Clean', was a live favourite.
A very punk tune, with a pogo-friendly feel, which always sent the audience into a moshing frenzy.
O what fun we had.
Cheers, guys!
Mudhoney - You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face) (1989)

You Got It (Keep it Outta My Face)
Burn It Clean

Excellent 12" vinyl rip @320kbs
Revel in mud here

Monday, 22 March 2010

Glorious Mud

I loved Mudhoney.
In fact, some of the most fun I ever had at gigs were at Mudhoney shows.

The best being at the School of Oriental and African Studies at The London University, in 89.
The show had been gratuitously oversold; there seemed to be hundreds in the bar, and the venue itself, placed in another part of the building, looked as if it could accommodate perhaps a third of those wetting their whistles.

Soundgarden were playing their little hearts out, watched by a few but mainly ignored [sorry, Cem], and as their set whimpered to an end the space suddenly became comparable to The Marx Brothers' cabin scene in Night at the Opera.

Mudhoney came on stage; which was instantly invaded - out of necessity as much as enthusiasm - when suddenly there appeared aloft a beautiful antique green Fender. It began to be passed around, hand to hand, to eager outstretched arms, moving it further and further away from the stage, where amongst the total melee stood an incredibly anxious looking Mark Arm; gaze fixed on the ever journeying precious axe.
Much to his relief 'the precious' achieved a complete circuit of the venue, eventually returning to its owner's loving arms.

Eventually the band managed to find a little room on stage and launched into their opening number, but what with all the chaos and exaggerated anticipation, as soon as the first riff attempted to cut its way through the densely occupied space, the place entirely erupted; going off with such a frenzy even the band could see the health and safety implications, and not wanting to be responsible for a massacre of their own audience, stopped and left the stage.

Some quick and serious adjustments were made to the dangerous space; and now tables, sheets of ply-wood and all measure of objects and whatnot were being passed towards a rear exit over the heads of the bewildered but accommodating audience; passing back the assorted objects, it must be said, with almost as much reverence as they had handled 'the precious'.

Once the alterations had been sorted, Mudhoney returned, and played an absolute blinder.
And hey, that's what it used to be like at those early Sub Pop shows: mad, fucked-up, but total fun.

During those early days of the Sub Pop Grunge scene, many (and I include myself among them) believed Mudhoney were going to be the band who went on to achieve the greatest success.

Superfuzz Bigmuff was/is without doubt far superior to Bleach [Ooh, controversial...], and the early part of this collection of BBC recordings (a session they did for John Peel in 89) captures perfectly the anarchic energy they had; an energy that was so appealing; especially when performed live.

The Last time I saw Mudhoney was in Fulham; Tad were supporting, and to be quite honest, for my money, Tad completely blew Mudhoney away.

That kind of depleted my relationship with them really, especially relating to any new stuff they went on to produce; which was all pretty lame anyway compared with their earlier recordings and sense of anarchic fun.

But I still love the old stuff, and when you're in the mood for some raucous stomping about the house music, Mudhoney fit the bill perfectly.

Mudhoney - Here Comes Sickness (Best of BBC Recordings) (2000)

Here Comes Sickness
If I Think
By Her Own Hand
You Make Me Die
Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme
Poisoned Water Poisons the Mind
Editions of You
Suck You Dry
You Got It (Keep It Out of My Face)
What Moves the Heart
In My Finest Suit
Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme
This Gift
Into Yer Schtik
Touch Me I'm Sick
Fuzzgun 91
Poisoned Water Poisons the Mind
When Tomorrow Hits
Hate the Police

Tracks 1-4: John Peel Session 9/5/89
Tracks 5-8: Radio 1 Evening Session 24/5/95
Tracks 9-21: Live at the Reading Festival, broadcast on The John Peel show 27/8/95

CD rip to mp3s
Make yourself all muddy here

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Foetal Upgrade

All Foetal related matter on my previous post I've Got Foetus on my Blog has now been upgraded to 320kbs.
Also, due to more superior software, tracks are now more click and pop free.

I will attempt, over time, to upgrade all previous posts that have been ripped at less than 192.

All to increase listening pleasure, of course.

I'll keep you posted.

Shanti, roy

Thursday, 18 March 2010

White Magic

Much sought after, it seems, bootlegged compilation of early singles, later B sides, rarities and live tracks from the Detroit duo.

A completist's dream this, as many of the original sources are extremely unobtainable and unquestionably overpriced.

For me the triplet of Beefheart numbers is the real highlight of this collection.
Originally released as a very limited e.p. on Sub Pop records, it's now almost mythical in its aloofness.
Obviously Jack plays up the blues elements Beefheart's songs were so rooted in, but he does appropriately manage to bring his own sense of strangeness to the songs.
'China Pig' particularly benefits from this; packed with White's idiosyncrasy, truly making the song his own.
A pretty difficult thing to achieve with such iconic music.

Their cover of 'Jolene' is pure homage - no satire, no irony - Jack just loves this stuff, and The Stripes really big it up with their interpretation.
And yeah, he really can hit those highs!

And Dolly isn't the only icon covered in this collection. Marlene Dietrich, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson all get the White Stripes' treatment.

Quality is rather variable throughout, but never dissonant.
A few of the live tracks are of poorer quality, but they're really there because of their exclusivity, many not having been released in any form.
(And hey, if it's quality live Stripes you want, just drop to the post below.)

But it's the early rare, obscure studio recordings that this now elusive boot is valued for.
Elusive no more. Enjoy!

The White Stripes - Life on the Flipsides (2004)

Let's Shake Hands
Look Me Over Closely
Lafayette Blues
Sugar Never Tasted So Good
The Big Three Killed My Baby
Red Rolling Ball Ruth
Hello Operator
Hand Springs
Party of Special Things To Do
China Pig
Ashtray Heart
Lord, Send Me an Angel
You're Pretty Good Looking
Candy Cane Children
Red Death at 6-14
Rated X (Live)
Hotel Yorba (Live)
Lovesick (Live)
I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
Suzy Lee (Live)
Stop Breaking Down (Live)
Screwdriver (Live)
Hotel Yorba (Live)
You're Pretty Good Looking (Live)
Fell in Love With a Girl (Live)
Fell in Love With a Girl (Live)

CD rip to mp3s
Get more of the White stuff here

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Things Go Better With

The White Stripes captured at their most uncompromising, uncommercial best, performing to an enthusiastic audience as part of BBC Radio 1's 'Big Weekend' back in 2003.

Jack's on blistering form and manically ploughs through a short but dynamite punk/blues set of the most hyperbolic order.
Boy is he into this; solipsistically doing his thing and having what seems like a whale of a time.

True, they do perform 'the hits', but perform them with such vitriol and gusto you get the impression Jack just wants to get on with reinterpreting Leadbelly and Sophie Tucker numbers.
Although the version here of 'The Hardest Button to Button' is immense; a real freak out: quite superb and well worth the download on its own.

Meg does what Meg does, but even she seems infected by Jack's mania; managing to perform the most animated version of 'In the Cold, Cold Night' I've ever heard.

The briskness of it all (just over twenty minutes in total) adds a great deal to the intensity of this set; they're determined to pack it in, and the way they've decided to do that is by going flat out.
Quite takes your breath away.

White Stripes - Live in Manchester
Originally broadcast as part of BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend event, 4th May, 2003.

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
I Think I Smell a Rat - Take a Whiff On Me
Blues Jam & Medley
The Hardest Button to Button
Seven Nation Army
In the Cold, Cold Night
Hotel Yorba

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Get the White stuff here

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Serpent Beguiled Me

Despite the unofficialness of this album, this is, in my very 'umble, without doubt the greatest of Snakefinger's catalogue.
Peaking ain't the word; this performance is magnificent and mindblowing; captured superbly on one of the best quality boots you'll ever hear.

Snakefinger, probably more widely known through surreal visual imagery than his music, was a London lad known to his mum and dad as Philip. And after a few years during the 1970s playing in Pub Rock bands (mainly Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers), Snakey (as I shall now affectionately refer to him) found himself in San Francisco.

Something had obviously happened to Snakey on his journey from London to the West Coast of America; something that radically changed his attitude to music, as once he was settled in San Francisco he soon teamed up with The Residents and began touring and recording with the ever-so-experimental eyeball fixated surrealists.

Ralph Records became his artistic home, and his brilliant debut Chewing Hides the Sound was released by Ralph in 1979.

This boot was recorded in Melbourne in 1980, and captures Snakefinger promoting new material from his second album Greener Postures and performing the best of the bunch from Chewing.

He states during the recording that this is the "first gig" [on the Australian tour], but you really wouldn't know unless he'd told you.
The band are incredibly tight; just check out the spacing during 'Living in Vain'; and the bass playing on 'Don't Lie' is simply phenomenal; not to mention Snakey's vocal delivery; it really does sound like he's experiencing some kind of epiphany as he belts out the words.
No mean feat, sincerity.
James Brown: eat your heart out!

You also get the sense on this recording as to just how English Snakey was; not just because you hear him speak (although I just love his preamble to the sinisterly strange 'Picnic in the Jungle':

"Afterwards it's like a dream.
You can't remember but it seems to stay alive inside your mind
and prey upon your leisure time."

Makes a very strange song seem even stranger) but there's something else; something about his structuring; something about his lyrics:

"I used to have a Grandma
She always called me dear
Never knew her purpose
Only knew her atmosphere"

I really don't know why, but those lyrics could only come from an English writer.

But of course Snakey is really all about the guitar (although his violin skills were also considered to be of the level of a virtuoso), and his playing on this recording is blistering.
Whether it's wigging out in a Paul Leary-like manner; noodling like Lol Creme; chugging along like Fred Sonic Smith; or playing some mean Kingston-stylee reggae licks: Snakey's hot; there's not a bum note here; and as a consequence every track matters.

For me, mainly because I love Chewing Hides the Sound so much, the tracks he performs from that album are the true highlights.
'I Love Mary' sounds even more bizarre played live; and you would have thought Snakey had nailed it on his studio album, but here the magnificent Asian styled psychedelic surf number (I know... you've got to hear it) sounds so good you just want it to go on and on. And as for 'Jesus Was a Leprechaun', well, words can't do it.

But Snakey's true masterpiece is definitely his pseudo-Jamaican styled 'Kill the Great Raven', a song of great poetry; an anthem of a song celebrating the defeat and destruction of darkness by light.
And I really like the way he shouts "I and I kill the mighty raven" before he launches into his cracking solo.

Despite the similes I used to describe his playing earlier, Snakefinger was unique.
Not only as guitarist but as a composer and performer as well.

He 'was' unique; and that's a great shame.
Snakefinger left us in 1987.
He was thirty-eight years old.

And that's the one sour note about this recording, for it was on this tour that he suffered a massive heart attack, one that was to put him out of action for nearly two years.

He did go on to make more music, forming the Vestal Virgins and releasing several albums with them, but he never bettered his earlier work.

And it was on tour once again, in 1987, this time in Austria, that he suffered another heart attack; this time fatal.

What Snakefinger left was a gift.
And if he craved what motivates so many artists, that being immortality, well, I think he deserves it.
So let's give it to him.
Snakefinger is dead: Long Live Snakefinger!

Snakefinger - Melbourne University 1980

Trashing All Loves of History
Don't Lie
Living in Vain
Magic and Ecstacy
I Love Mary
The Golden Goat
Picnic in the Jungle
Kill the Great Raven
Corrupted Man
Man in the Dark Sedan
Who is the Culprit and Who is the Victim
Jesus Was a Leprechaun
What Wilbur
The Spot
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love

CD rip to mp3s
Beguile yourself here

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Murder Most Fowl

Ripped this as a request, but in doing so felt it had to be shared.

The second greatest Residents album in my opinion; second only to the sublimely wonderful Commercial Album, which is hardly worth posting because everybody has it, right (what do you mean... shame on you... go and buy it immediately!).

Duck Stab, as it is known, is not an album in the true sense, it's actually a combination of an earlier released 7" e.p. titled Duck Stab! and a series of tracks added to the original to create an album length package, these tracks have their own identity and are collectively known as Buster & Glen, but the two pieces work so well together I don't know why I'm even bothering to mention it.

Whereas Commercial Album has a very upbeat vibe to it, despite its strangeness, Duck Stab comes from a very different place; it revels in a kind of dark, macabre sinisterism, delineated so aptly by the fixed expression of the knife wielding character on the front cover.

And then of course there is always that sense of who are those guys?
Somehow in our age of cult of celebrity, artists who refuse to divulge their identity, opting out of the 'Adore Me', 'Love Me' demands, are deemed suspicious; and the accusations and speculations aimed at The Residents, claiming that they must be 'famous people' having a joke at our expense, suggests that anonymity in today's art is subversive enough to make many uneasy.

My favourite of all the speculations about who they could be was one of the very early suggestions, that being that they were obviously The Beatles [!].
This was based on the fact that The Residents were apparently originally named The New Beatles, and possible clues were to be found on the first album's art work:

Irony is so often misunderstood.

To adopt complete autonomy and work entirely within the ethos of doing it for yourself, The Residents soon created their own label, Ralph Records; Ralph chosen for its onomatopoeic relationship with throwing up.

I am aware that both Commercial Album and Duck Stab are undoubtedly the most accessible albums within The Residents' enormous canon; and I do see great worth in albums such as Eskimo and Mark of the Mole, but boy, do you have to be in the right mood to listen to those albums, and I'm not quite sure what that mood is...

For me, The Residents shined when they worked with the greatest of their collaborators: Snakefinger.
And why I love Duck Stab so much is Snakefinger slithers all over it; giving a great vocal on 'Constantinople' and adding his unique blend of slippery slide and glass finger guitar to many of the tracks.
Together, The Residents and Snakefinger made some of the most bizarre and absurd music in the history of modern popular music.
And I'm ever so glad they did.
I hope you are too.

The Residents - Duck Stab (1978)

Duck Stab Side

Sinister Exaggerator
The Booker Tease
Blue Rosebuds
Laughing Song
Bach is Dead
Elvis and His Boss

Buster & Glen Side

Lizard Lady
Birthday Boy
Weight-Lifting Lulu
Krafty Cheese
Hello Skinny
The Electrocutioner

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Take up Residency here

If you dig this, keep 'em peeled: Snakefinger boot on its way

Thursday, 4 March 2010

High Frequency

While Mark Perry was taking his punk ideology to the free festival scene, Steve Hillage was attempting to appeal to hard core Oi! style punks.
A somewhat more difficult and highly ambitious task.

Towards the end of the 1970s the hippie had become anathema.
Spurred on by opinion leaders such as Johnny Rotten, who expressed adamantly that hippies were not to be trusted, due to them having let us all down in the past.
(Interestingly, Rotten, née, Lydon, has recently stated that he never hated Pink Floyd and would loved to have worked with them.
Yeah, right! Check it out.)

Hillage, confronting his unfashionable status, appeared in an article published in Melody Maker in 1979 alongside Jimmy Pursey (no less) to defend his existence and persistence in refusing to get a hair cut or trim his beard, and to prove that he and his new found ideological brother in arms were exactly that, and they were really coming from the same place.

Pursey's Sham 69 had recently had a major success with their Oi! anthem 'If the Kids Are United' and Hillage's premise was that he had been preaching the same thing for the previous ten years.
He even produced a punk rock styled song with '1988 Aktivator' to help make his point.

The harmonious relationship shown during the interview had already been established when Hillage joined Sham 69 on stage during 1978's Reading Festival for a unified performance of 'If the Kids Are United', much to the disgust of a few vociferous boneheads in the crowd.

I know this may all seem rather silly now, when you can attend a gig, party, rave, whatever and the tribes gather and mingle readily. It's not uncommon for bikers, punks, emos, metal heads, goths, freaks, teds, cheesy quavers and casuals all to gather in the same place.
But back in the late seventies it was a completely different story.
I don't know about you, but I, and many of my associates were constantly finding ourselves running into the wrong kind of and often hostile tribes; many a time us young punks had to flee for our lives through the streets of North London, hotly pursued by incredibly angry skin heads.
Ah, happy days...

Anyways, it was during this late seventies period when Hillage was attempting to reconnect, that this album was recorded.
Released by Griffin Music in 1994, this is a superb set of recordings, really capturing Hillage and his Live Herald band at their absolute peak.
There is a lot of live Hillage recordings floating around, but the quality of sound on this album is exceptional.
A worthy addition to any Hillage collection.
And if you don't have one, well, this is a great place to start.

Steve Hillage - In Concert (1994)

Hurdy Gurdy Glissando
Unidentified (Flying Being)
New Age Synthesis (Unzipping the Zype)
Electric Gypsies
Crystal City
The Salmon Song
It's All Too Much
1988 Aktivator
Glorious Om Riff

Excellent cassette rip @320kbs
Tune in here

Monday, 1 March 2010

Peace, Anarchy & Lemons

Admittedly not the greatest of recordings ever committed to plastic, but essential none the less.

Without wanting to sound too much like Rik from The Young Ones, this album documents the time when the tribes came together.
Of course not everyone was on side or so readily gregarious, but Mark Perry was always going to be a special case; a loose canon who right from the outset puzzled many with his opening track 'Alternatives' from the now seminal Alternative TV debut album.
A track that suggested future experimentation, hinting at an interest in the avant-garde from one would not acquiesce to genre conventions.

The Wild Fruits

As for Here & Now, well, you kind of get the impression they were up for anything.
Bringing their own sense of neo-psychedelia, madcappery and profundity to their music, they were the perfect act for Perry to synergize with, allowing the audience to fuse in their own minds two seemingly disparate ideologies.

Here & Now and Alternative TV (split album) -
What You See... Is What You Are (1978)

Here & Now side

What You See Is What You Are
Dog in Hell

Alternative TV side

Action Time Lemon
Going Round in Circles
Fellow Sufferer
Splitting in Two

As decent a vinyl rip I could make @320kbs
Find harmony here