Friday, 29 April 2011

Aural Sex

Another sweetie from '68.

Harvey Mandel is probably far more known for the acts he worked with (Stones, Canned Heat, Bluesbreakers) than for his own solo recordings.
And this release, his first solo effort, is reason enough to make the previous statement a sad one; coz this is one great album.

Way ahead of its time - just listen to that opening track; no way would you place it in the sixties; more like the seventies (okay, so it's not decades ahead, but I'm sure you get the gist) - it still sounds wonderfully dynamic and dead interesting.

There are certainly nods towards Hendrix, Zappa, and even to Randy California - there are parts that sound quite a lot like Kapt. Kopter; but that album was made in '72, right! See, years ahead! - but somehow, Mandel just sexes it up; creating some of the sexiest - without being sleazy or slack - guitar centred instrumentals you'll ever hear.

The way Mandel jams with the big sound - lots of lush strings and brazen brass from a James Last kind of set-up (please don't let that put you off!) - works in ways where others have tried but so readily failed.

Admittedly, some of the tracks do sound a little like TV themes ('Before Six' even sounds like a TV show!), but hey, some of those seventies' themes (I've placed him there, even if you're not accepting my rhetoric) were fucking great, right!
Just think back to Nationwide, The Money Programme, et al. (if you've no idea what I'm talking about check them out at YouTube) fantastic tunes and fantastic arrangements, but Mandel was in there first, creating sounds that would soon become iconic and true archetypes of kitsch.

So if this album, for whatever reason, has passed you by, check it out, and you'll be asking yourself the questions I always ask myself whenever I play this:
Clapton? Why the hell has nobody heard of Harvey Mandel?

Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (1968)

A Wade in the Water
Lights Out
Bradley's Barn
You Can't Tell Me
Nashville 1am
Cristo Redentor
Before Six
The Lark
Long Wait

CD rip to mp3s
Get sexy here

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Spirit Moves Me

I'll come clean.
I've never really been a fan of Spirit.
But I just love this album.

Retronymically titled The First Album, this version is one that was released by CBS eleven years after its original conception in '68.

Spirit, pretty much a manufactured band; made up of remnants of The Red Roosters (Randy California, Jay Ferguson & Mark Andes); Randy California's new stepfather Ed Cassidy, a drummer who'd already established himself in the fifties and early sixties jazz scene; and John Locke, another jazzer brought in for ivory tinkling, all came together to create a sound that was entirely original; not only unique in terms of what others were doing, but unique within Spirit's own canon.

Essentially this is a fusion album; borrowing heavily from each of the musician's backgrounds.
And it's the blend of soft psychedelia and jazz tropes that really makes this album shine.
Just dig the way the wonderfully ironic 'Straight Arrow' (one of my favourite tracks from this sixties' period) moves from what could almost be described as Americana to modern jazz and back again; and you've just gotta love those lyrics; they just cry out for a visual montage - I see Cameron pressing flesh, kissing babies....

Randy California, in one of his finest moments - only Kapt Kopter and perhaps the oddity Future Games: A Kahuna Dream come anywhere close to this album to my ears - maybe incredibly young during this recording - what was he, sixteen or something? - but he already had amazingly mature and adept fingers.

Channeling the spirit of Hendrix (they were band mates in the Blue Flames), he added his own idiosyncrasies to his master's technique, adapting his style more than adequately to meet, and lead, the jazz based psyche sound.

So, a great album.
Yeah, it is rather.
But who cares.
I listen to Leadbelly and Louis Jordan, and they still blow my mind. Daddy-o!

Spirit - The First Album (1968, this version 1979)

Fresh Garbage
Uncle Jack
Mechanical World
Girl in Your Eye
Straight Arrow
Topango Windows
Gramophone Man
Water Woman
The Great Canyon Fire in General

Vinyl rip @320kbs.
A Little crackle & pop, but nothing offensive.
Gain Spirituality here

Friday, 22 April 2011

London Dreaming

'S'funny, I dreamt of this album the other night.

I can't remember the finer detail - can you ever? - but I remember placing the needle on the first of the Eater tracks and rather than hearing the powerfully energetic sounds of teenage angst, what I heard I can only describe as being the most wonderful and beautiful poetry I have ever experienced.

I awoke bolt upright, knowing I'd heard something truly miraculous.
I desperately tried to recall.
I couldn't.
So I went back to sleep, accompanied by a feeling that something special had been lost.

I'd blown my Coleridge moment.
My dream lost.
As Burroughs described: gone, like smoke beneath a door, when the film is run backwards.

Despite my loss and disappointment, my dream did remind me of the excitement inspired by the first time I played this seminal punk collection.
As a young teenager, hearing Slaughter & The Dogs, Eater, the mighty Wire and The Buzzcocks truly blew my mind, turning me on to sounds and ideas that would go on to play an important part in the shaping of my life.
It was also the first time I was exposed to X-Ray Spex and the provocative lyrics of Poly Styrene, an artist who I still believe was one of the greatest lyricists of her and my generation.

There is an extended and quite different version of this album out there, but I thought I'd up this, the original, as this is how I, and no doubt many others remember it.
Cleverly, it not only captures the sounds of the bands who were creating the scene, but crystallizes the scene itself.
Listen out for the throw away question: 'Is Sid Vicious in tonight?'

So sit back and enjoy; sit back and reminisce; and remember those times when music meant something; when music had balls; when music had a voice and spoke for those who were often ignored; when music could - and did - change the world.

Various Artists - The Roxy London WC2 (Jan-Apr 77)

Runaway - Slaughter & The Dogs
Boston Babies - Slaughter & The Dogs
Freedom - The Unwanted
Lowdown - Wire
1 2 X U - Wire
Bored Teenagers - The Adverts
Hard Loving Man - Johnny Moped
Don't Need It - Eater
15 - Eater
Oh Bondage Up Yours - X Ray Spex
Breakdown - The Buzzcocks
Love Battery - The Buzzcocks

CD rip to mp3s
Return here

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Johnny Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Cem and I were very honoured yesterday to be among only twenty or so people who attended an incredibly intimate performance by John Cooper Clarke at Dylan Thomas's Boathouse in Laugharne.

Part of the Laugharne Weekend Literary Festival; this, in my humble opinion, was the gig of the festival; and John didn't (as if he could) disappoint.

The gig took place in the master bedroom, and despite there not being a bed, much jollity occurred.

I'm sure the spirit of Dylan looked on with much glee; appreciative that his once humble home, now a museum, rang out with cadenzas that I'm certain would have met with much approval.

A glass would have been raised - as many were - to the Salford bard, whose only concern was not living up to such hallowed expectation, but making sure he finished with time enough to get off and catch the footie.

Nice one, John!
And I'm sure you wouldn't mind if I share a little of that intimacy with others.
So here's eight minutes worth of a very exclusive gig, captured on my cheap and rather outdated mobile.
But hey, well worth a listen.

John Cooper Clarke - Live at Dylan's Boathouse, Laugharne, Wales, 16/4/11.

Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman
Christmas at Somebody Else's House

Captured on mobile phone as amr files; converted to mp3s @320kbs.
A little wobbly, but coherent and very listenable to.
Join the bedroom set here

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Normal Service Will Be

Been stuggling over the last few weeks with a very sick PC; it has now died: Peace Be Upon It.

I will be back online as soon as I am over my grief; as soon as I am able to acquaint myself with new hardware; and as soon as I can rescue - here's hoping - some data.

Catch you all soon.
Shanti. roy

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


Two gigs bookending the career of the majestic masters Kraftwerk.

The first is a wonderful curio from the very early days.
Some say it isn't Kraftwerk at all, and in a way they're right.

Play it to someone. Ask them who it is.
I mean, Kraftwerk have a unique sound, right; unmistakable: easily identifiable.
Aural auteurs: the last thing you would expect is electric stun, fuzz guitar and violin sounds.

But it is Kraftwerk; well, I think it is; it just happens to come from a time when the outfit were in flux; a time before they found their niche; before they began making all their own instruments, and before they found the true Kraftwerk sound.

The band at this time included Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger, and as all you Kraut Rock freaks know, they're the guys who went off and created Neu!

And it's Neu! who I would have gone for if someone had played it to me and asked me who it was; coz that's what it sounds like.
And it's damn fine Neu! type noise, too.

Well worth checking out, this.
Especially if you dig stretched out sonic jams, big guitar sounds and monster riffs, all with a touch of trance and grindcore thrown in for good measure.
And it's an A+ recording - man, it sounds good!

Kraftwerk - Bremen Radio 71 (2006)

Heavy Metal Kids

CD rip to mp3s. Seventy minutes. Artwork included.
Go back to Bremen here

It was four years later the classic lineup of the band went on to create Autobahn, recorded entirely using home-made instruments, and as the BBC revealed at the time, not only did the music sound as if it was being made by robots, the pictures confirmed that robots were indeed responsible for manufacturing the bizarre sounds.

Autobahn became a big hit for the band, and in the second of the two gigs, recorded in 2010, 'Autobahn' gets a good airing, and even has a new middle section, one that is fresh, drawing from recent ambient developments; breathing life into the old beast.

The whole gig works like that.
It is a real 'Greatest Hits' set, but what they do with the tunes is quite remarkable; and those tunes we're all so familiar with; well, they sound as fresh as a Tory cut. Chop!

'The Model', a song that had been taken away from Kraftwerk for me by Albini's version on Big Black's Songs About Fucking, is claimed back by the originators.
It just sounds so much better in German.

The real highlight is 'Radioactivity'.
Yeah, fresh!
Just listen to that intro and try not to tremble.

Again, excellent sound, and nearly an hour of ear-poppin', Teutonic brilliance.

Kraftwerk - Live 2010

The Man Machine
The Model
Music Non Stop
Computer World
The Robots
Trans Europe Express

Ripped from DVD captured broadcast @320kbs.
Go back to the future here

Friday, 1 April 2011

Frail Loops

The usual suspects included in those lists of 'The Greatest Albums Ever'; you know, those who have influenced many, changed the world even, those such as: Sgt. Peppers', Pet Sounds, Trout Mask Replica, OK Computer, etc., really need to make way, as there is another contender: a lost or snobbishly ignored classic, a true avant-garde masterpiece.

In 1973, Bognor Regis, a resort often remembered for the momentous encounter between The Beatles and The Maharishi, also played host to another extraordinary event.
This unique historical happening was fortunately encapsulated; captured and reproduced for others to share and experience.
The fact that hardly anyone remembers it or even knows about it is evidence enough to prove just how important and special that event was.

Remarkable individuals gathered together; the stars merged; the planets were aligned; and those fortunate enough to have been there left the life-changing event as totally different people: something had touched them, for they had witnessed something very, very special indeed.

I wasn't there. But I have the recording. And I'd very much like to share it with you.
This will change your mood, your mind and quite possibly your life.

So who's responsible for this potentially life altering manifestation?
Well, feast your eyes and look on in awe, without prejudice, for here are the Special Ones:

I know they might not look like much, but believe me, these innocuous looking types could very well alter your whole outlook.

Now prepare yourself to have your life changed through your ears.

You will not believe the power of Green and Love's delivery of 'The Happy Wanderer'.
You will be moved, like you've never been moved before, by Ward's sincerity during his rendition of 'Danny Boy'.
You will be truly astounded by the majesty of Graham's 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
And as for the Bognor masses belting out the chorus of 'Deep in the Heart of Texas', well, words fail me: language just can't do it justice....


Experience this aural treasure for yourselves.
Get here
It's absolutely smashing!