Monday, 29 May 2017

Mind Train


I'm off to see Stewart Lee again next week, for the 6th time in a little over two years and the 3rd time on the current 'Content Provider' tour. In addition to being by far the best stand-up comedian currently working in the UK, Stewart is a massive music fan - in fact on both of the occasions that I've managed to snatch a few words with him, it was music we discussed, not comedy. So you know damn well that when he selects his pre-show and interval playlist, he does so very carefully indeed. On the last tour he had John Coltrane's terrific version of 'My Favourite Things' playing on a perpetual loop, but this time round he's introduced a little Turkish funk to the intermission proceedings....plus one other 17 minute tune that for all the world could be an extended out-take from Neu! or Can. But I cannot tell a lie, it's not a great lost Krautrock track. The chugging riff is in fact the work of ex-fab John Lennon, ably assisted by Klaus Voorman on bass and Jim Keltner on drums - and up front, yes, that's Yoko Ono. The tune is taken from Yoko's 1971 double LP 'Fly' and it's quite an exceptional thing. I'm looking forward to hearing it at full volume again next week.

Yoko Ono - Mind Train

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Red Gold & Green #18 - Pat Kelly

Your humble author with his battered copy of today's featured tune

While sitting in the pub one evening in early 1980, my best pal and I decided to form a band. We were young, idealistic and probably quite drunk. Quick as a flash, one of us produced a piece of paper upon which we jotted down the titles of a handful of songs that, in our highfalutin opinion, we deemed worthy for us to cover. 'Striving For the Right' by Pat Kelly was high on that list. Unfortunately the world was destined never to hear our version of this or any other song, as the band got no further than a few drunken boasts to friends about how truly great we were going to be. We had, of course, conveniently skirted round the crucial fact that neither of us owned, or could play, any instruments.

All these years later, 'Striving For the Right' is still a favourite of mine. A deceptively jaunty tune carrying a strikingly simple and timeless message.

Let us live in unity 
Don't go astray 
We all are striving for the right 
Not for wrong 
For the right 

Pat Kelly - Striving For the Right

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Red Gold & Green #17 - Prince Far I


Thanks to a generous uploader, I managed to catch up up with the Don Letts autobiographical documentary, 'Dread Meets Punk Rockers' over the weekend. The film was originally broadcast in April on Sky Arts, but made a fleeting appearance on YouTube, before, unsurprisingly, being removed. Many of 'The Don's' stories of the Punk period may be familiar, though embellished by the copious Letts-shot film clips, took on much greater significance. Don and John Lydon smoking themselves into a stupor in Jamaica, an off duty Mick Jones looking a bit miserable at a party, Ari Up's unique and joyful dancing - and then there's the live footage. The Heartbreakers, The Damned, The Clash and, best of all in my opinion, a pair of sensational performances by Big Youth and Prince Far I. Is there more of this stuff Don? I'll get to Big Youth in due course, but for now, here's '354 Skank', a 1975 single from the mighty voice of thunder himself.

Prince Far I - 354 Skank

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Can Anyone Lend Me a Time Machine and a Couple of Hundred Bucks?

It's 1971, the year that I began taking tentative steps into my local record shops for the first time, though none of the many outlets in downtown Walthamstow were on quite the scale of the huge Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard. Only last year Mrs S & I caught the excellent Colin Hanks documentary 'The Rise and Fall of Tower Records', which featured many vintage film clips from Tower stores of yesteryear and now yet more fascinating archive footage has surfaced. So journey back with me to a time when the big albums of the day were stacked floor to ceiling - literally pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap - George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass', Janis Joplin's 'Pearl' and Curtis Mayfield's self-titled debut among them. See how many LP sleeves you can recognise.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

AMOR

I couldn't make it to the bloggers summit in Glasgow a couple of weeks back, but I've enjoyed reading every subsequent account of the bash from those that did. One of the sweetest stories to emerge from the weekend has to be that of Brian's meeting with Stephen Pastel in Monorail Music - I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the glorious tale by now, but just in case, read all about it here. I've never been into Monorail's store (hell, I've never been to Glasgow), but I have made several purchases from that esteemed establishment, the latest of which arrived through the post on Tuesday morning.

Your humble author with his latest slab'o'wax 

As is so often the case these days, Swiss Adam over at Bagging Area was the cause of my financial downfall, albeit via the good offices of Andrew Weatherall's Music's Not For Everyone NTS radio show. As usual, I listened to the show in fits and starts, pausing to further investigate any tunes that caught my ear along the way, one in particular stopped me in my tracks though. The voice was very familiar, even if the musical setting wasn't. The song in question was entitled 'Paradise' and credited to a new combo, AMOR, although I immediately recognised the vocalist as being the uber-prolific Richard Youngs. The AMOR project finds Youngs' dry, somewhat disconnected vocal laid over an mutant-disco backdrop, a combination that hooked me instantly. I'd located and purchased a copy of the 12" single from Monorail before Weatherall's show had finished and this was the record that the postman handed over to me on Tuesday. Get your dancing shoes on.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Jake Xerxes Fussell


I'm indebted to Ramone666, over at For the Sake of the Song, for persuading me to have another crack at 'What in the Natural World', the 2nd LP by the spectacularly named Jake Xerxes Fussell. William Tyler, a favourite of this parish, was involved in the making of Jake's 2015 self-titled debut and I'd already given both records the once over, but for some reason neither had stuck. Cue Ramone666's memory jogging post a little over a month ago and suddenly bells were ringing and light-bulbs were flashing. I'm not sure how I didn't fall hook, line and sinker for Jake Xerxes Fussell first time round, but I'm more than making up for it now.

'Furniture Man' is a rewritten take on a traditional song - the sad story of a man who's lost everything, even his frying pan. Has such a tragic tale ever been told so gorgeously? Check out more of Jake's music here.

Jake Xerxes Fussell - Furniture Man


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Gonna Scrape the Trouble Off My Boots....

The brief story of how even Joe Strummer's discarded footwear is now worth a small fortune, from the American version of The Antiques Roadshow.

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