Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Led Zep VII


Thanks to Peter Grant, their thug in a suit manager, Led Zeppelin never released singles in the UK; it was beneath them. Not so in the States, however; Grant wasn't quite so precious about what his charges released over their on 45. Their seventh single on the Atlantic label was a delicious slice of cod reggae with John Bonham's drums very much to the fore. I think the reason I like it so much is because their dull bass player, John Paul Jones, said publicly, many times, that he hated it; hated the song, particularly hated the title. Get over yerself Jones.

Led Zeppelin - D'yer Mak'er (1973)


It only made No. 20 on the Billboard charts, unlike the album from which it was lifted. 'Houses of the Holy'. which sat at No. 1 for weeks on end.

Friday, 12 July 2019

1929

Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington (1899-1974)
You can't overestimate the power of music: during the Great Depression, which took a hold in the United States from 1929 (the Wall Street crash in October launched the country off a cliff) and lasted for much of the 1930s, it was music - jazz music - that got people dancing.

Of course the country was still in freefall - but listening to, and dancing to, this surgent musical uprising (often during 24 hour Dance Marathons) was what got a lot of Americans though one of the bleakest periods in modern history.

They'd be throwing shapes to stuff like this. Duke Ellington's band would often go by a string of aliases. This was one of them.

The Whoopee Makers - Flaming Youth (1929)

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

1979


It's long been acknowledged, between me and Steve anyway, that the 70s actually started in 1968 and probably kept going till around mid-1983. Culturally, musically definitely, and sportingly - mavericks ruled the world in concert halls and football grounds the world over. So when you talk about 1979 be under no illusion that the 1970s still had plenty of gas left in its tank.

Some stonking albums came out in '79. I particularly remember buying Joe Jackson's Look Sharp, Valley of the Dolls by Generation X (produced by Ian Hunter), this classic by Graham Parker and The Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette. It was also the year In Through the Out Door - Led Zeppelin's swan song was released, and the Clash's eclectic mixed bag, London Calling.

Tom Petty was busy too. Together with his band the Heartbreakers, he released Damn the Torpedoes the day before his 29th birthday. And if you were to press me for one song from today's featured year (go on, press me) I reckon it would have to be this:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Refugee (1979)

Monday, 8 July 2019

1969



The events of 1969 are currently looming very large. There are a number of monumental 50th anniversaries going on right now; not least Apollo 11 - a must see movie is on general release depicting just what Neil Armstrong and the real Buzz Lightyear got up to when they were floating in their tin can half a century ago.

I remember Aldrin saying in Andrew Smith's Moondust that NASA were very candid with the crew when they signed up for the mission of all missions: their chances of coming back alive were given at no more than 50/50. This is one film I will not be missing.


And Abbey Road. The Beatles' final recorded album (Let it Be, despite coming out in 1970, was already in the can before the Fabs entered EMI Studios in Abbey Rad for the last time). Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn is touring the country later in the year giving his unique take on the events that made Abbey Road, quite literally, The End. And he's coming to a venue near me, so I'm well chuffed.

Joey Ramone may have left this earth (as too have all the original Ramones), but he still looks down on New Yorkers: the sign for Joey Ramone Place, if you look high enough (it's been stolen so many times it's now been sited where it can only be reached by basketball players) is in the Bowery district, close to the site of a (long gone) club where he and the band played many of their 2,500+ gigs: CBGBs - the New York punk venue.


Joey Ramone - 1969


Sunday, 7 July 2019

Yesterday


Went to see the much hyped Yesterday yesterday. Being something of a Beatles nut (clock the number of Beatles and Lennon & McCartney posts on this blog [left]), I thought it would be massively churlish of me if I didn't scribble a few words about it here.
I'm usually pretty quick out of the traps when it comes to rating and ranking new movies, but this is a little bit different - I'm still processing it, would you believe; a fantastical plot (a world without the Beatles - really?) with seemingly more holes than a used dartboard, peppered with more than a few comedy cul-de-sacs and incorporating a typically lame Richard Curtis crow-barred rom-com. And yet, and yet...


That soundtrack; those songs. For all its faults, and there are many, it's the music, ultimately, that carries this film over the line. Himesh Patel who plays struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik, has been gifted the most fantastic set of songs all gift wrapped and ready to be devoured. And they are, for the most part, played brilliantly.   


Patel is not just a gifted actor but he can play a bit too. That means there's no awkward miming or contrived camera angles to disguise the fact that a non musical actor is holding a strange instrument around his neck and doesn't know what a chord is, let alone know where they can be found on the neck of a guitar.


Himesh Patel - Yesterday (2019)


Apart from Malek's performance (and the Beatles music, obvs) I took three positives away from the film:

Lily James - who played the love interest with just the right amount of girl next doorness. 

Ed Sheeran - just a good egg. The ginger superstar was quite happy to sit on the subs bench for much of the movie, but was given some great lines nonetheless.

The best gag in the film - when Jack Malik realises, after an internet search, that his friends really aren't winding him up when they tell him they don't know who the Beatles are, he then Googles Oasis - nothing but a clutch of exotic holiday websites. "That figures" he says.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Giveaway

Bloody brilliant!
Paul McCartney would often gives songs away: Mary Hopkin (Goodbye) and Badfinger (Come and Get It) being two lucky recipients that spring to mind.
One that a lot of people overlook is a song called 4th of July. In 1974, between the Band on the Run and Venus and Mars albums, Macca recorded a very loose demo but never did anything with it; instead he gave it to John Christie. Polydor put it out as a single, but, despite its lineage, it never amounted to much.

In 2010, when Venus and Mars was given the Macca remastering treatment, they chucked 4th of July in with the extras. Like a lot of stuff McCartney was writing at the time, it walked that fine line between bloody brilliant and twee. For what it's worth, I quite like it.

Twee?

Monday, 1 July 2019

Two to Know


Our next Sunday Vinyl Session (our 4th) is a little bit special: the album, Pink Floyd's 'Relics', has been chosen by Martin Stephenson - he of the Daintees - who will not only curate the afternoon, but also be playing a gig later in the evening in the very same pub!

We've kind of broken our own rule regarding compilation albums with this one, but, hey, it's a belter. Although it's obviously very much Syd's collection (it was Barrett's band, after all), Dave Gilmour can be heard setting his stall out on Side 2.


Here's a rather tasty bit of footage of a Gilmour gig at the Albert Hall in 2006. With very little by way of introduction Gilmour brings an old friend up on stage...


Arnold Layne


Where? Running Horse, Nottingham 
When? Sunday 14 July 2019 - Relics 2-5pm; Martin Stephenson gig 8-10pm

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Sometimes. Always. Never.


I love stylish movies. I love funny movies. Sometimes Always Never is filmed like a series of Hopper paintings with jokes hidden in plain sight. If you like your dialogue crisp and your establishing shots crisper, this is the film for you.
Bill Nighy's name is above the door in this terrific directorial debut from Carl Hunter. Frank Cottrell-Boyce's screenplay about a retired tailor looking for his prodigal son is given a seemingly minimalist treatment by Hunter, but look a little deeper and this tight family based drama is a rich seam of Scrabble words, missing children, Marmite gags and red Triumph Heralds; what's not to like when references to Pickwick label Top of the Pops albums and which buttons to do up on your suit jacket* flow as naturally as Jenny Agutter walking out of the bathroom wearing nothing more than a towel?



And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it turns out the soundtrack is only written and performed by Edwyn bloody Collins. This is a film I will watch time and again; I just know it.

Edwyn Collins - It's all About You (2019)


* Top (sometimes), middle (always), bottom (never).

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Cretin


I have precious little time for Elton John. I have even less for the present occupant of the White House.
The artist formerly known as Reginald Dwight wrote a couple of good tunes* way back when, but now appears to be more famous for his annual spend at Interflora. And his rug. Trump, on the other hand...

Don't get me started; really, don't. Suffice it to say you don't need me to tell you he's got a reading age of eight, and uses the word 'huge' a lot. Here, take a look at this. But not before you've read this - Donald Trump, speaking in Montana:

“I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record.” Cretin.

Apparently there's a We Will Rock You style bio pic currently on release showcasing/shoe-horning some of Elton John's songs into a shoddy narrative. I'm sorry, but while there's a new Bill Nighy movie to catch, and the latest Toy Story, I'm afraid I'll be a no-show.

* Here's one of those tunes he wrote with Bernie Taupin. I'm not sure who sang this version** but it's not half bad.

Top of the Poppers - Rocket Man (1972)


** Reg himself used to sing on these early MFP/Pickwick soundalikes, ironically.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Toys are Back


Sequels. Prequels. Sequels to prequels. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the film industry is somewhat bereft of new ideas; maybe they are, I don't know. Hollywood, for sure, know that putting a number after a film makes it odds-on that punters will come back time and again. And again. And again.

Normally I would say 'Down with that sort of thing', but every now and again I hear the clarion call. A call so strong I can do no more than slavishly beat a path to my nearest picture house and wait patiently in line with fellow devotees.

The cowboy has been calling; I'm on my way, Woody.

Chris Stapleton - The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy* (from Toy Story 4) - 2019 


* Written, of course, by Randy Newman

Sunday, 16 June 2019

My Father's Name is Dad


Dad's just rung. He thanked me for his card and then proceeded to tell me that he's going travelling round Ireland at the end of the month. He's 83. Respect. I think the last time he took the car on the Holyhead to Dublin ferry he was driving a 1963 Ford Anglia. And they still had the Punt. Cars and currency may change but my dad's determination is locked-on. There will be stories when he gets back; to be sure, to be sure.


The Fire - My Father's Name is Dad (1968)

Friday, 14 June 2019

Dotage


My love of David Bowie is based, essentially, on a handful of albums and singles from, in the main, the period 1970-1975. Yes, I know this is shortsighted of me and, yes, I know he was so much more than that. But, like opera, Shakespeare, and beetroot, I think I've been saving latter period Bowie for my dotage: in effect, Bowies's dotage if he did but know it. 

This may or may not turn into a feature that I'll return to on rainy days and Mondays. Or even Fridays. As a holding statement I'll just put this out for today. It's taken from Heathen - his 22nd studio album. Released seventeen years ago and produced by Tony Visconti, I'm still to be convinced that Everyone Says Hi was not co-written by Ian Broudie. Have a jolly Friday everyone.

David Bowie - Everyone Sys Hi (2002)

Monday, 10 June 2019

Leave Your Stepping Stones Behind


Bob Dylan recorded It's All Over Now, Baby Blue in 1965. And since then it's been covered by every man and his dog. Far be it for me to tell you which versions are worth seeking out, and those that belong on the turkey farm - I'll let you make your own minds up.
That said, I am rather partial to Chris Robinson's version. I'm not too sure if the former Black Crowe ever released it officially, but this was recorded in a New York radio station a couple of years back. Check the beards out, too.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (2016)


We're a man down: one of our blogging fraternity -  The Swede - is not too good at the moment. I'm sure we all wish him a speedy return to form, and hope he's back in harness before too long.