Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Initially only briefly available as a download back in 2010, Damien Jurado & Richard Swift's informal album of covers, 'Other People's Songs, Vol. 1', has this week received a belated official release via Secretly Canadian. On the record, Jurado & Swift re-imagine an eclectic mix of tunes from the likes of Kraftwerk, Yes, Chubby Checker, John Denver and the cast of Oh Calcutta! Here's their lovely reading of 'Hello Sunshine', originally released in 1976 on the self-titled LP by Relatively Clean Rivers. The Relatively Clean Rivers album has itself had the full reissue treatment in recent years, bringing down the price accordingly, though if you prefer your vinyl to be of the vintage persuasion you should head over to Discogs sharpish, where a mint original awaits you for a mere £1763. Can anybody lend me a fiver?
Damien Jurado & Richard Swift - Hello Sunshine
Relatively Clean Rivers - Hello Sunshine
Saturday, 3 December 2016
In September I tentatively started re-listening to my 2016 purchases in preparation for the inevitable end of year retrospective bonanza, but for one reason or another, I didn't get very far. Now, with only a few weeks to go, I find myself woefully unprepared. It's time to buckle down, but a relatively recent discovery, released in 2015, is completely hogging my head-space at the moment. Step forward Manchester's own Nev Cottee and his 2nd LP 'Strange News From the Sun'. Think Lee Hazlewood. Think Alan Tyler. Think Richard Hawley. In fact don't. Just listen to the sheer quality of 'If I Could Tell You', then check out the whole album here. It's seriously good stuff.
Thursday, 1 December 2016
Gregory Isaacs, the Cool Ruler, reached the peak of his popular success with the 1982 LP 'Night Nurse' and the following year's 'Out Deh!', both on Island Records. He released dozens more albums before his premature death in 2010, but never hit the same creative heights again. Retrace Gregory's career before 'Night Nurse' however and virtually anything he touched is worthy of investigation. Take 'Ba Da' for instance. Recorded in 1974 and produced by Winston Holness (aka Niney the Observer) - it's crucial stuff.
Gregory Isaacs - Ba Da
Monday, 28 November 2016
Be-Bop Deluxe's 1978 LP 'Drastic Plastic' was Bill Nelson's attempt to embrace the UK's burgeoning New Wave scene, but the group's fanbase appeared less than impressed. As a result of this relative failure, Nelson disbanded Be-Bop Deluxe, retaining just keyboard player Andy Clark for his next venture. In the event, Bill Nelson's Red Noise released just one LP, 1979's 'Sound-On-Sound', after which Nelson commenced a prolific solo career that continues to this day. 'Sound-On-Sound' contains some great moments though, not least the band's second and final single 'Revolt Into Style'.
Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Revolt Into Style
Saturday, 26 November 2016
Charity Chic's weekly 'Dylan Covered' series pitches an original Bob Dylan recording in direct competition with another artist's version of the same song, leaving the reader to cast a vote for one performance or the other. Most of the time (see what I did there Bob aficionados?) this doesn't pose a problem for me. I've spent more hours of my life listening to and thinking about Bob Dylan than is probably healthy for a man of my age, so Bob will usually get the nod. He's far from infallible though and I'm happy give credit to a good interpretation where it's due. But Charity Chic has twisted the decision making knife a little further on a couple of occasions, by pitching Bob directly against another of my favourite artists. Already in the series I've had to mull over Dylan vs Robyn Hitchcock (see here for the result of that encounter) and this week, Dream Syndicate's fabulous reading of 'Blind Willie McTell' is up for the popular vote against Bob's sublime original (here). I've been a fan of The Dream Syndicate since 'The Days of Wine and Roses' in 1982, which seems an awfully long time ago now that I come to think about it. The band split in 1989 and I've continued to follow Steve Wynn's busy career as a solo artist in the years since. I'm slightly horrified to note the paucity of Steve's music in my back pages, so by way of recompense, here's the title track from his 1999 LP, a personal favourite and a song which was the highlight of a concert I caught around the turn of the century.
Steve Wynn - My Midnight
Friday, 25 November 2016
When I was a very young child, I lived in constant fear that after my parents had come in to my bedroom to say their goodnights, they would leave the house, never to be seen again. Dad was always the last to try and settle me. Very early on, I was unhappy with the actual word 'goodnight'. To my young brain, it sounded too much like 'goodbye' - too final. If he accidentally uttered 'goodnight' while tucking me in, tears of panic would ensue and it would take some time to calm me down. Eventually, after much trial and error, he found some words that I was okay with. 'Nighty night for now', he'd say cheerily, as he switched out my light. My infant logic determined that Dad's calming phrase contained a firm promise that the night was only temporary and everything would be as it should be come the morning. I slept easy.
Nighty night for now Dad.
Thursday, 24 November 2016
Well wouldn't ya know it. Just a few weeks after I bemoaned the lack of any recent music by The Blackeyed Susans (in this post), along comes a brand new EP - hopefully the precursor to a full length album in 2017. 'Lover or the Loved' is scheduled for release on December 2nd, though one of the EP's four songs is already available to enjoy - and what a stunner it is. 'The Good Life Never Ends' was written by the late great David McComb of The Triffids for his final band Costar, though his recording has never received an official release. 'The Good Life Never Ends' clearly means a lot to The Blackeyed Susans, as they've previously recorded an intense live reading of it in 2008, for a David McComb tribute album. Here are all three versions.
The new Blackeyed Susans EP 'Lover or the Loved' is available to pre-order here.
David McComb & Costar - The Good Life Never Ends (Demo)
The Blackeyed Susans - The Good Life Never Ends (Live 2008)
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