Friday, 29 July 2011

Dance With the Pixies

Around Christmas 1987, while living in a house in Finchley that I shared with five others, a friend turned up with a new release by a new band.
He was very enthusiastic, and acting like an A & R man, he sat me down and told me to shut up and listen.
I acquiesced without too much complaint as he had previously introduced me to the Cardiacs, and various other hot items of the time, and this 12" had the most intriguing cover and an equally curious title.

It only took about four bars of music to know that what I was hearing was something very special indeed.
By the time the second track began to play my other housemates joined us; the sounds attracting them like rats to the music of the Pied Piper.

Nobody said a word, and as soon as it was finished, like crack we were all desperate to experience it again.

The piece was Come On Pilgrim by the Pixies.
A true masterpiece.
And something the band never equalled (although Surfer Rosa came close).

Still shocked and stunned we went on mass a few months later to The Mean Fiddler, and caught a band truly in their prime.

I realise now just how lucky I was to see them in that tiny Harlesden venue.
They were sooooooooooo hot.
We must have been a very enthusiastic audience, as the band seemed overwhelmed by the reception and response by all those, who just like me, recognised them as being something quite extraordinary.

'Fuck me,' said Kim into the mike, when she received our enthusiastic welcome; not out of exasperation, but in an imperative way; a way that truly expressed a desire to consume our love for them - and they hadn't even played a note (she always was a tease: listen to how on this recording she giggles after asking the audience 'D'y'all go to school?').

I have searched and searched for a copy of that Mean Fiddler gig, without luck (but hey, if you have a copy or know where one exists, I'd be eternally grateful for a link [not torrent]...).

But this will do for now; a very good recording broadcast by the good old BBC, post-Surfer Rosa, around the time of the release of Doolittle (an album for me that really marked the death of the Pixies); a set that retains some of their initial energy and guts.

Pixies - Live, Newcastle Poly, 1989

Into the White
Wave of Mutilation
There Goes My Gun
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Isla Da Encanta
Bone Machine
Gouge Away

Excellent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast
Pixielate here

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dirty Pillows Talk

Towards the end of PJ Harvey's initial incarnation, that as a hard rocker, and due to the time: Riot Grrrl (remember that weird sobriquet?); her trio performed at the 1992 Reading Rock Festival. But despite the popularity and excellence of their performances and recordings, Harvey soon disbanded the group and began her move towards vastly different musical territories.

I believe Harvey's music was never bettered than her first recordings (Dry, Rid of Me and her Peel Sessions), and this festival performance exemplifies that absolutely.
It also includes a superb performance of one of her greatest compositions: 'Sheela-Na-Gig'; targeting misogynists everywhere.
PJ Harvey Trio - Live at Reading, 1992.

O Stella
Highway 61 Revisited
Man Sized

Excellent cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs
Embrace the yOni here

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Yore Blues

Call me ol' fashioned, but I was sorry to see Polly Harvey put down her guitar and slowly morph away from her original persona and become what she is now - I don't get it; neither White Chalk nor Let England Shake float my boat, and really, since Is This Desire? I have found her music trying and lacking the dynamism of her earlier material - but like I say, I'm just ol' fashioned I guess.

Harvey's initial collaboration with John Parish was really the last of the 'old school' sound.
Suggestions were certainly evident that Harvey was soon to be heading off into avant garde territory, and her work with Parish seemed to represent the point of transition.
She put her guitar down (too often), picked up a hand mike or went to the piano (admitting she couldn't play it), and even began plucking a zither and an autoharp.

I'm no Luddite, but sometimes it seems progress isn't necessarily progressive.

Anyway. This gig recorded as part of Radio 1's Live in Soho Week, captures Harvey and Parish on top form, performing numbers from their reasonably successful Dance Hall at Louse Point album; playing some blinding gutsy blues and at times sounding rather reminiscent of the Virgin period Magic Band.
And that's no bad accolade.

PJ Harvey & John Parish - Live, London Astoria, 11/11/96.

Rope Burning Crossing
City of No Sun
Urn With Dead Flowers in a Drained Pool
Civil War Correspondent
Dance Hall at Louse Point
Un Cercle Autor Du Soleil
Losing Ground
Is That All There Is? (fades)

Excellent cassette captured FM broadcast rip @320kbs
PJ and Duncan John here

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Prime Cuts

Inspired by Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3, Op 36, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, Lamb's homage now serves as a lament for the composer's recent passing.

The two CD single releases collectively represent much of what the electronica duo were initially all about: wistful vocals, trip-hop beats, with a leaning towards instrumental drum and bass lite.

Part of the mid-nineties Jazz Café, hip wine bar kind of vibe, they exemplified the genre: beautiful music made by beautiful people.

Great come down sounds; if ever you feel the need or inclination.

Lamb - Górecki (1997)


Górecki instrumental
Ear Parcel


Górecki edit
Trans Fatty Acid (Kruder & Dorfmeister Session Mix)
Merge (Jimsters Jam Mix)

CD rip to mp3s
Liddle Lamzy here

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Eel Communication

This could easily fit the 'in case you missed it' category, but it's here to reiterate the point I made below.

'Fucker' is a superb track that only appeared as track 4 on this single release.
Again, I think this gorgeous little twisted ballad is one of the band's best cuts.

Not as easily missed as the Tripping Daisy number, as 'Novacaine For the Soul' is such a great tune, but for those who only buy/download albums, unless tracks like 'Fucker' turn up on B Sides & Rarities type packages then they can just pass one by.

Good to see - judging by his Glasto performance - E in a more cheery mood of late; throwing off that Unabomber look he'd adopted; choosing more of an affable eccentric type look.

Bit Ed Barton circa 88, don't you think...?

Eels - Novocaine For the Soul (1996)

Novocaine For the Soul
Guest List
My Beloved Monster (Live)

CD rip to mp3s
Freeze the soul here

Eels at Glastonbury can be viewed here, but be quick it won't last.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Let's Go Trippin

It's a funny thing, you know, the way some bands seem to bury their best material.

'Creature', a song that I believe is the greatest thing Tripping Daisy ever produced, is a prime example.
Literally sandwiched between two album tracks as part of a CD single, this glorious piece was so easily missed.

Tripping Daisy were primarily an album band; and if you bought the album (I Am an Electric Firecracker, where the other two tracks originate), why fork out for a solitary unreleased track?

However, I'm lucky, I fortunately live with a completest who back in the day would think nothing of buying half a dozen versions of single releases - she was a particular sucker for Kula Shaker & Verve releases, who both really pushed it.
Personally, I always thought it was a right scam, yet as I was to find out, the odd track, like the aforementioned, would just make your jaw drop, and you'd wonder why the hell they hadn't made more of it.

'Creature' encapsulates all that was good about the U.S. post-grunge, indie scene (TD were indie in the genre sense; they belonged to Island): a pronk-like arrangement, you know, slow bits juxtaposed with fast bits; trippy vocals; twisted lyrics and a big chorus with power chords aplenty.

As for the other tracks, 'Piranha' is typically post-grunge, and 'High' is probably the best track from the Firecracker album: a sweet little stoner ode, gorgeously worked with a suitably twisted production and lyric.

If you've not experienced Tripping Daisy before (think Ween, Porno for Pyros kind of territory), this is a great place to start; and if you know them well but have missed this; check it out; see what you think.

Tripping Daisy - Piranha (1995)


CD rip to mp3s
Go tripping here

Monday, 11 July 2011


Here's another post inspired by the aforementioned KSAN compilation; but rather than lifting tracks from it to post, the Joplin fronted Big Brother and the Holding Company's set got me thinking that it's always the same songs; and as great and iconic as those songs are (you know, 'Piece of my Heart', 'Ball and Chain' et al.), listening to them again inspired me to dig out this recording: a little known album from the San Fransisco psyche rockers.

After their initial success, BB&THC called it a day.
Joplin went off to do her Kosmic Blues thang, and after some deliberation, a new Big Brother emerged.
With new singer Nick (The Greek) Gravenities taking over Janis' duties, the band played on; and despite the fact that Joplin apparently left the band acrimoniously - she was the star, band not good enough, unfair distribution of income, etc - she remained friendly enough to record backing vocals for this album; proving that BB&THC were more than just her backing band.

In spite of all the good vibes that pour fourth from this very upbeat and summery album, my favourite track is the obligatory slow number (I'm a lugubrious fucker): the miserable 'Heartache People'. A track that allows Gravenities to reveal his chops, helped out beautifully by fiddle master, legendary Papa John Creach.

Man, they certainly knew the right people did Big Brother.

Big Brother and the Holding Company - Be A Brother (1970)

Keep On
Joseph's Coat
Home On the Strange
Heartache People
Sunshine Baby
Mr. Natural
Funkie Jim
I'll Change Your Flat Tyre Merle
Be a Brother

CD rip to mp3s
Gain Brotherly Love here

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Homophonic Blues

Years ago I was quite into tropical fish.
As well as being psychedelically mesmerizing, they were meditative, calming, friendly, and a darn sight more interesting to look at than anything on the television.

Anyway, went to score myself a fish one day; visiting a new shop in town to see what they had to offer.
I soon cast my eyes on a fine specimen: a Jack Dempsey; apparently, I found out later, named after an American boxer; so called because of the fish's aggressive behaviour and a visage that is said to resemble that of the 1920's heavyweight champion of the world (rather unfair on the fish I thought, as he was lovely; cute, even).

As the owner, a genial old dude grateful for my venturing into his new shop, filled the plastic bag containing the Jack Dempsey and six inches of water with air from an air line, he looked me straight in the eye and said, in a knowing, insightful way: 'He'll like a bit of beef heart.'
This was hard to take in straight away; my perplexity was obvious, so he went on: 'O yes, they like a bit of beef heart; all the large cichlids like a bit of beef heart'.

So I took my Jack Dempsey home, popped him in his new world, placed a speaker at each end of the tank and played through the whole of Trout Mask Replica, hoping the Jack Dempsey would appreciate this and soon settle in.

And you know what? The dude was right.
The Jack Dempsey, and all the other tank denizens, absolutely loved Beefheart!
And why not!

And if my old Jack Dempsey was still in the world of the floating I'm sure he'd really dig this: a slice of swampish blues from The Magic Band, circa '67.

Unfortunately it doesn't last very long - just over thirteen minutes - but it's really very cool indeed.

I have liberated this from a monster of a compilation called It Crawled Out From the Vaults of KSAN (1966-68). It's just so rare to have good quality live Magic Band from this period (any period in fact. Beefheart, for some reason, didn't attract bootlegging anoraks: merely opportunists.
So many Magic Band shows have I downloaded; so many have I deleted before reaching the end), I thought it was worth giving it a platform of its own; especially as it includes a glorious rendition of Howling Wolf's 'Evil', and concludes with an instrumental jam that's heading straight for Mirror Man.

This may only last thirteen minutes, but with so little of worth to choose from, the Beefheart head gets it where they can.

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Live, Avalon Ballroom, 1967.
Extracted from It Crawled Out From the Vaults of KSAN (1966-68).

Old Folks Boogie

Quality rip @320kbs
Feed the fish here

Monday, 4 July 2011


Haven't got too much detail on this one as it came to me as a CD-R via mucker Hackenbacker.

Obscure Power Pop!
And much of it is, despite the album's ridiculous sobriquet.

True, most are unknown (out of the bunch, I only managed to find two Wikipedia pages - if you consider that an act of measurement), and the collection stays way outside of the pop charts of its time, but as a compilation; a crystallization of the glam scene at its height (72-75), I think it works pretty well.

Obviously, this genre snapshot is full of the expected echoes of Slade, Sweet, Wizard, etc., but your ears are taken back even further. Psychedelic remnants abound; marks of Beatles, Stones and Monkees; mediated and moulded to fit the aural lust of the post-sixties pop generation.

Interestingly, the collection also contains fractional glimpses of its future.
Just listen to The Washington Flyers' 'Another Saturday Morning'.
Pulp, right?
(That's the band. Not a put-down.)

All in all, this is good fun. And very deleted.
Well worth a listen.
It may not be Nuggets but I bet it's able to put a smile on your face.

Like a goose from an old friend.

Various Artists - Glitter From the Litter Bin (2003)

The Spivs - Oh You Beautiful Child
Kid Dynamite - Breaking the Ice
Daddy Maxfield - Rave 'n' Rock
Jook - Alright With Me
Anthony Bygraves - Painted Lady
Washington Flyers - Another Saturday Morning
Ayshea - Farewell
Small Wonder - Ride a Black Sheep
Buster - Superstar
Renegade - My Revolution
Barry Ryan - Do That
Streakers - Turn Me Down
Jook - King Capp
Stumpy - Making Me a Superman
Paul St. John - The Flying Saucers Have Landed
Billy Hamon - Butch Things
Capt Skidlid - She Knew Him Too
Buster - Motor Machine
Starbuck - Do You Like Boys
Edwina Biglet & the Miglets - Thing

CD rip to mp3s
Pick up Litter here