Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sound Off

It's rare for me to post without a link, but my goat has been so badly got I felt I just had to say something.

A new New Age Steppers album has been released, not that too many people would know; but it's an important release, being Ari Up's swan song.

Adrian Sherwood went out to Jamaica to work with Ari, to lay down some final tracks before her illness really got a hold.
The result is Love Forever; a superb album, the best so far this year I think, and a very worthy signing off from one of the most important female artists ever to have worked in music.

I find it ludicrous, as well as incredibly sad, that so-called "serious" newspapers like The Independent promote bollocks like The fucking Ting Tings by awarding their recent album five stars, yet fail to even acknowledge Ari Up's posthumous release.
And it's not just The Independent who are guilty of this obscene omission; I haven't seen a single review of this album anywhere in the mainstream media; neither have I heard any airplay (just goes to show what an enormous void the loss of John Peel created!).

For fuck's sake download it, find it on the torrents, or even better, buy it - hopefully On-U-Sounds are moral enough to make sure Ari's kids gain something from it.

Take it from me - if my opinion is worth anything - it's a great album; one that is well worthy of such a great musician, and a powerful piece of closure to a superb body of work.

If you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, go here for older Steppers' albums, both with new working links.

'Love Forever' was how Ari used to sign off her letters.
Kind of sums her right up.
For you, Ari: Love Forever.

Thanks for your time.
Shanti, roy

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rutter's Delight

It was the good old boys from Young Moss Tongue who put this up after I placed a request with them, as it was just impossible to find anywhere.
Well, Young Moss Tongue is no longer (RIP), so a void has appeared where this digital beauty once lived (yes I have checked, and once again it appears to be unavailable - until now that is).

The Rutles, in their original conception - a Rutland Weekend Television spin off called All You Need is Cash, a spoof documentary now considered to be pioneering and truly seminal (it's still stands up well: funny, smart and wonderfully constructed) - soon gained cult interest, and on the back of the TV movie, several recordings were released; featuring Eric Idle (initially), Ricky Fataar (ex-Beach Boy [Holland period]), John Halsey (ex-Timebox, Patto, and acts far too various to mention), Ollie Halsall (ex-Timebox, Patto, Boxer, and again many many others), and at the helm, musical director and song writing genius Neil Innes (ex Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and occasional Python).

You don't necessarily have to know the recordings of The Rutles to appreciate this collection - although that does add something to the gratification of this product - but like all good cover versions the songs stand up very well on their own - no doubt in part as a consequence of reverence and homage - but the collection is still very strong throughout.
When I listen to it I skip nothing; each song, no matter what the genre, compliments perfectly through its juxtaposition; creating a fantastic listening experience from beginning to end.

As with many of these tribute styled collections, the best tracks are those that digress furthest from the original genre; and there's a lot of that digression here: prog, folk, punk, avant garde, electronica, and er, Daniel Johnston; all add plenty to Neil Innes's ever so clever Beatlesesque parodies.

All in all, a superb collection; and I really can't understand why it's not more available or celebrated in the manner it truly deserves.

You'll honestly find it hard not to.

Various Artists - Rutles Highway Revisited (1990)

Galaxie 500 - Cheese and Onions
The Pussywillows - Hold My Hand
Bongos, Bass and Bob - Number One
Lida Husik - Good Times Roll
Dogbowl - Another Day
Das Damen - Piggy in the Middle
Syd Straw & Marc Ribot - I Must Be in Love
Joey Arias - Nevertheless
When People Were Shorter & Lived Near the Water - Let's Be Natural
Unrest - Between Us
Peter Stampfel & The Bottlecaps - Ouch
The Tinklers - Blue Suede Schubert
Tuli Kupferberg - Living in Hope
Daniel Johnston - Baby Let Me Be
Uncle Wiggly - It's Looking Good
Shonen Knife - Goose Step Mama
Jellyfish Kiss - Get Up and Go
King Missile - Doubleback Alley
Paleface - With a Girl Like You
Bongwater - Love Life

CD rip to mp3s, artwork included.
Hit the Highway here

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What's in a Name?

While Evan Dando was disregarding his punk weeds; dressing himself up in his best bib and tucker; preparing to flirt with the mainstream; a three-piece band from Hendon, North London, laid down some extremely well executed punk songs, proving that it wasn't over: there was life in the old beast yet.

The other thing Snuff proved is that the Brits do this kind of thing so much better.

When Snuff played a crazy cover - 'Purple Haze' in this case, or The Shondells' 'I think We're Alone Now' (probably brought to mind if you think of Tiffany [fuck, remember her?], as I'm sure Snuff did) - they actually revitalised it, put something into it; rather than just adding it to an album as a kind of hip post-modern joke.

('Purple Haze' here at 240bpm not only sounds kind of wonderful, it also sounds totally liberated!)

But then that punk thing was really very British.
Yeah, yeah, I know, New York Dolls, Ramones and the whole CBGB's thing; but really it's obvious, there were always subdivisions in the overarching generic term, and British punk is distinctly different.

Never heard Snuff?
Give this a listen, make the comparison.
But I'm sure you'll agree: this is one of the best punk rock albums made in the post-post-punk era.

And like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the title of this album is pretty damn tricky to pronounce.

Snuff - Snuffsaidbutgorblimeyguvstonemeifhedidn'tthrowawobblerchachachachachachachachachayou'regoinghomeinacosmicambience (1989)

Words of Wisdom
Some - How
Now You Don't Remember
Not Listening
I See/H.M. Trout
Too Late
Another Girl
I Think We're Alone Now
Win Some, Lose Some
Pass Me By
Keep the Beat
Night of the Li's
Purple Haze

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
'ave a sniff o' Snuff here

In the same way Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is abbreviated down to Llanfair PG, the Snuff album is more often referred to as Snuff Said.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Hmm, Lemony

It was a shame about Lemonheads.
They couldn't quite decide who they wanted to be.
Pulled between two worlds they were.
On one side, punk, grunge and going widdley-widdley-widdley-wee; on the other, sensitivity, indie stardom and the lure of poster-boy fame.

I experienced this first hand.
On the Lick tour, Lemonheads played at Kentish Town's Town & Country Club, and there was an obvious schism, two distinct audiences: punks enthused by early material and attitude, and female indie fans, ganged together at the front of the stage, staring up into the eyes of their beloved Evan.
It put the moshers right off.

Evan was quite happy playing to his new admirers, but for us others, it was all a bit embarrassing.
I lost interest in the band after that; and gave a knowing tut when 'Mrs. Robinson' started to get day time airplay on mainstream radio.

So Lick for me is really the last album they made that's worth listening to.
The punk attitude is still apparent, even if the shoegazing element has been turned up.
The songs are a little longer, and some of them even have a mosaic quality - the zeitgeist couldn't be ignored forever.

Interesting how they decided to end the album with two songs from the early part of their career: 'Sad Girl' from '87, and 'Ever' from '86'.
Mere nostalgia?
More likely their swan song.

Soon after, the band went through massive changes, and with Dando now fully in control, he commercialised the sound, signed with Warners, and adopted the definite article; always a sign that things have gone tits-up.
Like growing a beard.

Lemonheads - Lick (1988)

Mallo Cup
Glad I Don't Know
7 Powers
A Circle of One
Cazzo di Ferro
Come Back D.A.
I Am a Rabbit
Sad Girl

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
Squeeze ya lemons here

Perfect for Pancake Day. Enjoy!

Friday, 17 February 2012


'S funny, but when this came out, back in '88, boy, did it sound retro.
Now it sounds current!
Strange how things go.

To release a punk album - for that is certainly what this is - as a new band, when grunge had already begun, Aceed was in the house, and indie sounds seemed the most plausible alternative, was quite a brave move; it's surprising the Lemonheads got noticed at all.

Within the near relentless delivery, there is the odd suggestion of a bit of shoegazing - it was the late-eighties, after all - but Dando and co were yet to find their affinity with Dinosaur Jr et al, and were more interested in the past than they were finding inspiration in their contemporaries.
[Good for them!]
And in the true nature of punk rock, there isn't a song on here longer than three minutes, ten; and the shortest just passes fifty seconds.
And like most old punks: I like short songs!

As for 'Amazing Grace' (yes, it is that one), well, it's a comical filler I guess; if you can have a filler on an album twenty-four minutes long.
Or perhaps the Lemonheads were carrying forward the baton of a great tradition; continuing something begun by Judy Collins, Joan Baez and, er, Nana Mouskouri (although I've got a feeling it may be a little older than that...).

Aah, don't they look sweet.

Lemonheads - Hate Your Friends (1988)

I Don't Wanna
Nothing True
Second Chance
Amazing Grace
Hate Your Friends
Don't Tell Yourself It's OK
Fed Up
Rat Velvet
Fucked Up

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs
Get the juice here

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cook it Up

From May 2010, The Slits, re-energised after the release of 2009's Trapped Animal, an album recorded thirty years after their debut Cut, took to a festival stage in Barcelona.

Ari Up, a familiar but unique figure, and only original member, fronted the band, backed up by long time bass playing Slit Tessa Pollitt; drummer Anna Schulte: guitarist Michelle Hill; and helping out with vocals, and doing a mighty fine job, Hollie Cook (son of ex-Pistol Paul).

Six months later, Ari was dead.

Listening to this, no one could have anticipated that (including the band at the time, apparently).

A wonderful performance by Ari - an artist who believed remaining in key was nothing more than bourgeois, and no doubt patriarchal - the perfect crystallization of a truly authentic artist.
There won't be another.
Long live Ari Up!
Long live The Slits!

The Slits - Live, Barcelona (2010)

Grown Ups
Typical Girls
Fade Away
Heard it Through the Grapevine
Lazy Slam
Partner from Hell
Let's Do the Split

CD rip, excellent quality.
Have a punky reggae party here
(No matter what Bob would have thought....)

If you haven't checked out Hollie Cook's album yet, do.
A very nice piece of old skool styled lovers rock.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Natural Law

Ultramarine make dance music best listened to lying down.
And that's how I came across them.

Stretched out within an enclosed area of a Cornish field, staring up at a canvas roof on a rainy summer afternoon, ambient sounds, mostly from the natural world, synthetic melodies peppered with litotic beats, all made for the perfect accompaniment to my extreeemely mellow mood.

And on the back of that pleasing experience, I bought this.
Like their live performance, the natural world is well represented: field recordings making up the majority of the sampled ambiance.
Voices also play a part, Robert Wyatt's among them; but there's no dissonance: nothing dark; nothing frightening: it's all very pleasant; very aaah.

So lie yourself down, relax, and have a little float to this.

Ultramarine - Every Man and Woman is a Star (1991)

Weird Gear
British Summertime
Lights in my Brain
Canoe Trip

Nice vinyl rip @320kbs
Float away here

Friday, 10 February 2012

In the Moog

teifidancer rescued this from thrift.
I half-inched it from him to put it on here as it contains the tracks 'Walkin'' and 'Nine Moons in Alaska', tracks that complete my Performance post.

'Nine Moons in Alaska' is particularly essential as it's the startling piece of electronica that opens Cammel's movie.
It's used throughout. Cut-up and folded in, non-diegetically, enhancing disturbing scenes: whooshing Moog sounds generated by a fucked up Turner; incidental accompaniment to Chas's brutal love making; and then his alkaloid fuelled breakdown.

And it makes awesome shapes on the editing scope:

Paul Beaver and Bernard Krause were instrumental in the popularization of the Moog.
They took Bob's baby to rock, to jazz, to blues and to gospel, as well as helping develop experimental electronica with their early ambient pieces.

This album from 71, brings together a whole array of musicians from different genres, including Ronnie Montrose, Mike Bloomfield, Bud Shank and Gerry Mulligan.

As I've hinted, this album boldly strides from one genre to another.
The synthetics find their niche, readily fitting in to the receptive band set up; a million miles away from what David Vorhaus was doing, and quite different to many of the other budding proggers, Kraut or otherwise.

Side one of the vinyl is a collection of all sorts of disparate pieces, including the two tracks created for Jack Nitzsche that went on to become part of the Performance soundtrack.
Side two contains highlights of sessions recorded at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral over a two day period.
(It's all in Krause's very readable liner notes [included with d/l].)

Whether the venue attracted them due to the music they were planning to play or the venue inspired them to play what they did, the end result is deeply soulful: ascending, wistful sax notes elevated by gentle washes of ethereal electronica.
Very spacey.
Recommended for those late winter nights.

Beaver/Krause - Gandharva (1971)

Saga of the Blue Beaver
Nine Moons in Alaska
Walkin' By the River
By Your Grace
Good Places
Short Film For David
Bright Shadows

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs (some crackle during the quiet bits)
Get in the Moog here

Monday, 6 February 2012

Down and Out at Paris in London

The Wailers only toured outside of the Americas once.
Then they split.
Both Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer expressed distaste; Wailer spat, "I felt like I was in a zoo".

Thank goodness Auntie put a comforting arm around them as soon as they reached ol' Blighty, introducing the weary travellers to the great British viewing public via the PSB funded Old Grey Whistle Test.

The Beeb also captured them for radio, setting up a concert at their Paris Theatre, recording them for broadcast and for posterity (although it has never been officially released).

Before the hyperbole and majesty of Marley's later performances, The Wailers, in their early form, were a tight and mean little combo, relying on intimate harmonizing and clever vocal counterpoints to deliver their message.
The harmonies within the Peter Tosh songs are particularly awesome: Marley and Wailer sublimely homogeneous.

O to have been among those lucky 400 or so - mind you, I would only have been nine; may have found the whole thing a little disconcerting.
A time machine would do better....

Until then, here's the next best thing:

The Wailers - Live. Paris Theatre, London. April, 1973.

Rastaman Chant
Slave Driver
Stop That Train
No More Troubles
400 Years
Midnight Ravers
Stir It Up
Concrete Jungle
Get Up Stand Up
Kinky Reggae

CD rip. Excellent quality.
Weeping & a Wailing here

The last Wailers' boot I posted got removed quite quickly.
Be swift.