Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Off the Peg


On the back of my last two posts featuring Bob James and Joe Sample, I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention Larry Carlton. Carlton was, and still is, the go to guitarist for any discerning jazz musician. Indeed, when Sample hired him for his band the Crusaders in the 70s it wouldn't be long before they were the biggest thing in jazz fusion; no small accolade when you consider the stiff competition knocking around at the time. Likewise, Bob James signed him up in the 90s when his pick-up group, Fourplay, were in the market for a new guitar maestro.

Larry Carlton has played with everyone. His CV reads like a Who's Who of musical greats - he's worked with Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jnr., Michael Jackson, Andy Williams and Dolly Parton to name but a few. He even lent his guitar sound to one of the defining American TV series of the 1980s.

In 1977, like Joe Sample, he got a call from Donald Fagen to come and play on Steely Dan's latest long-player (Carlton had previously given them a dig out on both Katy Lied and The Royal Scam). Aja would go on to become the Dan's Sergeant Pepper, or even Abbey Road, take your pick. In fact Larry liked it so much he even 'borrowed' one of its tunes for his next solo album. No prizes for guessing which one.

Room 335 came out in 1978. The original is a thing of wonder, but, then again, so is this version recorded live nearly 30 years later.

Larry Carlton (with the SWR Big Band) - Room 335 (2017)

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Cornered


Regrets; I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention. Alright, here's one: I never got to see Joe Sample (see this from yesterday). Although I did catch the Jazz Crusaders live with Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder in the early 90s (I remember they were introduced on stage by George Melly), neither Sample or original Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper were part of the lineup at the time. And with Sample, Henderson and Felder now all the wrong side of the grass - any thoughts of a Crusaders reunion obviously died with them.

Sample had a varied musical life outside of the Crusaders and played with the great and the good; not least Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell - you'll find him on both Aja and The Hissing of Summer Lawns. I can think of worse albums to have on your resumé.

Today, however, I've gone for a nailed on jazz classic he put out in the mid-90s. It's textbook Sample. Fill yer boots.

Joe Sample - Hippies on a Corner (1996)




Joseph Leslie Sample (1939-2014)

Monday, 11 November 2019

Shortlisted


As lists go, it's pretty short. As lists go, it's also very niche; in fact, as lists go it probably can't even be described as a list. Let me explain. The list to which I refer is headed up "Smooth Jazz Keyboard Players I Need to See Live Before I/They Die". The 'list' used to have two names on it: Joe Sample. And Bob James. But as Joe Sample bowed out in September 2014, the list (hell, it doesn't even warrant a scrap of notepaper in my wallet) now bears but one name.
So imagine my delight when I saw that Robert McElhiney James was playing a two night residency at London's Pizza Express on December 1st & 2nd (a couple of weeks before the maestro's 80th birthday -on Christmas Day). So far so smooth. However, such is the interest in the man who's best known for this, it's SOLD OUT! Bloody lists.

I don't know what tunes he'll be playing to the Soho pizza eating fraternity next month, but if I was in the room I'd be baying for these two, that much I do know.

Bob James - Touchdown (1978)


Bob James - Take Me There (1999)



Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Big Boys Don't Cry

"Special"
I can honestly say I've never been billed as a special guest before. Ever. But Special Guest is, seemingly, what I am for this upcoming shindig on Sunday. I think a greatest hits set is called for; so that would be the one about the woman with the dogs, and the one I nicked off Neil Young. I might even do my version (vershion) of I'm Not in Love. There never were such times.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Someone to Hear Your Prayers

Jesus - this time it's personal
Sex. And religion. A heady mix; this year marks the 30th anniversary of Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode's crossover hit single released at the arse end of the 1980s. Since then it's been covered by all and sundry, not least Johnny Cash and Marilyn Manson.
I love the way the song carries itself. It's got a groove that lends itself to any genre - hence Cash and Manson queuing up to record it. However, my Personal Jesus is the one covered a bunch of lads from south Yorkshire who, back in the 70s, had cut their teeth on Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, and the Faces. They eye up the dots and proceed to give it a right seeing to.

Def Leppard - Personal Jesus (2018)

Sunday, 27 October 2019

I Believe


"I believe in seeds; I believe in water; I believe in ideas" 

So said Mick Jones in 'A National Anthem' - a song he and Tony James wrote together for their (truly wonderful) band Carbon Silicon who were knocking around just after the turn of the millennium. Some bright spark, it may have been Alan McGee, said, when trying to describe them: "Imagine the Rolling Stones jamming with a laptop." He wasn't far wrong. This version, which leans heavily on Marvin Gaye's Heard it Thru the Grapevine, is, I think, far superior to the heavily sanitised recording that appeared much later on their 2007 release The Last Post (by which time, possibly fearing a plagiarism lawsuit, they'd dropped the Grapevine motif).

01 A National Anthem.mp301 A National Anthem.mp3
pixeldrain.com/u/fKT6vfZ4

Saturday, 26 October 2019

You're Joking


I so need to see this film. Not least because Rock & Roll Part 2 is, allegedly, the glue that binds the movie together. I may, of course, be exaggerating, but from the reviews I've read (and the clip/trailer I've seen - below) it would lead me to believe that this defining glam anthem penned by Mike Leander and Paul Gadd (Gary G**tter) in 1972 is, again, finding a new audience. I've name-checked the song (and the singer too, for that matter) here before: long story short, we need to separate the art from the artist. People get prissy about the Leader (and rightly so), but banning his music from being played on national radio isn't the way forward. If we continue down that road then it's only a matter of time before Led Zeppelin suffer a similar fate; read Hammer of the Gods if you want a flavour of just how young Jimmy Page liked his groupies. 

Joker - 2019

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Full Speed Ahead


Gordon Tracy; pilot of T4 (2043-)
Despite assurances from many Beatles scholars to the contrary, I can't shake the idea that - even if only in a subliminal way - the idea for Yellow Submarine came from Thunderbirds. Thunderbird 4 - first seen on UK television screens* in 1964 - is yellow, and is a submarine. Step forward Gerry Anderson and take your rightful place in Beatles history. 

However, since Anderson passed away in 2012, it will probably be simpler for Macca to 'come out' and be ingratiated into the extended Tracy family. Full speed ahead.





* I am aware that TV in this country at the time was black and white, but Thunderbird merchandising, though in its infancy, (comics, toys etc.) was still a thing.


Friday, 18 October 2019

The Dude Abides

Library photo; I'm not Pete bloody Townshend
I tweeted last week that my guitar was in dock. I'd suffered a six string malfunction just prior to playing a terrific local Open Mic session at the top of my road. I shan't bore you with the details, suffice it to say that with the help of three people, normal service has been resumed.

Erica - for lending me her guitar that night.
Ben - my good friend at the Crafty Teller for giving me the phone number of...
Dicky Fontaine - guitar doctor extraordinaire; a shining light in these times of doom & despair; a Dude.

Thank you all. Especially Dicky. Have a great tour, man.


Dicky Fontaine, Nottingham 2019

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Alright


The Late Late Show comes out of Dublin every Friday night and is as Irish as, I don't know, leprechauns. The Blarney Stone. Father Ted. Tell you what, roll all three of those into one, put it into an RTÉ television studio and that's the Late Late (as it's known over there). It's been running since 1961 and in that time has only had five presenters, including the saint like Gay Byrne and the irrepressible Gerry Ryan.

D. Cullen on the other hand, whilst very much Irish, is still only a gossoon; he's barely old enough to remember the Millennium. But that didn't stop him playing his new single on the show earlier this month; or bringing a choir with him. Fair play. I think if I was debuting my new single on Ireland's Number 1 chat show, I'd bring along a choir. And a tasty horn section. And a few friends too, what the hell.

So, I don't know what it is - whether it's his voice, the piano, the tempo, or even the choir but I definitely get the feeling John Lennon would approve. I certainly do - it's a shoo in for my end of year Best Of, to be sure.

D. Cullen - Alright (2019)

Friday, 11 October 2019

That much I do remember


I can go through vast swathes of my record collection, especially singles, and tell you exactly where and when I first heard them; a time and a place. Like a lot of other memories, some of them are easier to retrieve than others. When I look at the back issues of this blog I think I allude to these memories quite a bit - even if I don't give precise longitude and attitude; or the runners and riders. And anyway, memories can be unreliable. A bit like this blog, really. Like I've said before, I write it for me essentially. That's why it's my version of what's going on. I have no timetable to work to, no regular features and no minimum word count. My fact count though is generally above average.

In the main, most people who knock on my front door are kind of lost; they're usually looking for someone (or something) else. But they're always polite and never leave until they've had a cup of tea and a biscuit, and a bit of a nose around. They sometimes say nice things in the visitors book before I send them on their way with some lame directions, and everyone's a winner. Teamwork makes the dream work, I think is the current parlance.

Sorry, where was I? Songs and memories, I remember. I love this song btw. A lot. That much I do remember.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Into My Arms (1997)

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Steppin' Out


It's hard to think of your parents as young - having a life before you arrived. When everything stretched out before them; when everything was possible. I'm paraphrasing Ben Watt - please read his account of his parents' lives before he arrived. You'll be glad you did. In the meantime, here's a photo of my mum and dad (before I came along) when they were on the (b)rink... 


Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out (1982)

Saturday, 5 October 2019

And in the End

It was the last album the Beatles recorded together, though not the last album they released (that would be Let it Be). And it's our next Sunday Vinyl Session. I went to see Mark Lewisohn's mesmerising talk last Sunday, so Abbey Road is sitting at the front of my cerebral cortex; where it's been for the last 50 years, pretty much.



George & Paul (vocals only) - Something (1969)