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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Vincenzo Zitello February 16, 2019

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Was at something a while back where someone was playing the Harp. To me The Harp had been the old Mary O’Hara album at home, the Bunratty Castle type harpist playing folksy Irish tunes at the school tour in the early 80’s (Was back in Bunratty last Summer and was very impressed with it), the harpist in the hotel lobby at the Cousins wedding reception. The Harp was just a nice and very old old fashioned instrument.
Then I stumbled upon Italian composer and Harpist Vincenzo Zitello and his wonderful compositions. The Dual harp set up is eyecatching and the added sound from the second harp is wonderful.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Bernie Pháid February 2, 2019

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Happened upon Bernie Pháid a few years ago in Dingle. Loved her performance which was a lovely mix of singing some traditional songs as Gaelige and beautifully sung folk songs. Hailing from the Dingle peninsula she has released two albums ‘Síol’ and ‘Spideóigín’. It was a track ‘Bog Brian’ played on the radio recently by Fiachna Ó Braonáin that got me looking up Bernie Pháid again.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… “Back In The DHSS” by Half Man Half Biscuit January 19, 2019

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“Dad… Who is Fred Titmus?

I was sitting down minding my own business when my son asked me that question….. Over the Christmas the old stereo had been moved from it’s previous perch hiding behind posters and leaflets in the attic to his room. Slowly he’d been going through the boxes of records , selecting a few at a time and playing them. He had come upon ‘Back in the DHSS’ by Half Man Half Biscuit. (previous TWIBMLT pieces on them here and here ) …… All of a sudden I was listening to it with him explaining all the 1980’s North West England obscure cultural references.
It started off with what the DHSS was in the first place and how the album name was a play on the Beatles “Back in The USSR”….
“God Gave Us Life” came on and references to Una Stubbs, Keith Harris, Little & Large, Thora Hird, Matthew Kelly, Wendy Craig and Lionel Blair (He Knew who Eartha Kitt was). So to the best of my ability I described the cultural significance of each! ….. Lionel Blair and Thora Hird were pretty tough going.
“Fuckin’ ‘Ell It’s Fred Titmus” wasn’t that hard only that Fred Titmus was a cricketer with Middlesex.
On then to “Sealclubbing” and playing the original David Essex tune ‘Nightclubbing’ so he could make sense of the “Me and my girl sealclubbing , me and my girl out on the ice” lyrics.
On then to “who is Bob Todd?” , looked up the old Dairylea ad, that James Dean died in a car accident, told him about Blue Peter….. Then on to “Time Flies By (When You’re the Driver of a Train)” , we found the original theme tune to Chigley and watched a bit of an episode. While we were there we found an episode of Trumpton just in case he ever stumbled across the “Trumpton Riots”.
On then to “I hate Nerys Hughes (From the heart)”. Nerys Hughes was an actress and was part of the popular show called the Liverbirds and that I had no idea why HMHB hated her.
Then to “The Len Ganley Stance”, Len Ganley was a Snooker Referee , I showed him a few pics and a video of him in action. “Venus in Flares” was easy enough just Kojak and Robert Powell .
Next track “I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)”, Played a few clips of Jim Reeves, looked up Peggy Mount , then Tony Bastable which led to the children’s TV show Magpie.
Finally “Reflections in a flat” which led to saying who Lech Walensa, David Nixon and Ali Bongo were. That the Ali Bongo in the song was a shit magician rather than the current President of Gabon.

I’ve hidden the Aidan Walsh album ……..

(more…)

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Romeo Void January 12, 2019

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Watching the penultimate episode of the first season of Mrs Maisel recently – and that’s a subject for another day, I’ve very very mixed feelings, I was struck by the last song which played under the closing titles. And so I should have, for it was Romeo Void, the group members being Debora Iyall, Larry Carter, Benjamin Bossi, Frank Zincavage, Peter Woods. Now I only have one Romeo Void album proper, the second one, Benefactor, which had the peerless Never Say Never. I found that in Macs in the George’s Street Arcade sometime around 1984, a couple of years after it was released. To be honest listening to it then it seemed extremely cool and detached, albeit with a strong personal aspect to the lyrics. And as a document of US new wave it was just about perfect.

Anyhow hearing the track on tv more recently prompted me to take a look at the rest of their catalogue and what struck me was how close they remained to their original vision even as they added – frankly – commercial aspects to their sound to broaden it out.

The excoriating vocals, sometimes spoken, delivering a distinctly feminist view (and Iyall is someone with a fascinating life both during and after the group), the staccato percussion (four drummers or so during their career), the horn section which dovetailed neatly with the guitar and bass sounds. So one can hear Siouxsie and Joy Division like approaches on their first album. And later there was something not a million miles away from the Psychedelic Furs at their most commercial. And throughout curious almost funky excursions that with only the slightest nudge could have seen them in explicitly pop and dance territory. And yet the totality of their output makes a sense, the direction of the journey explicable by their own abilities and the broader context.

Here’s a sampling of songs from across their career in the 1980s. Early track White Sweater (a song with a genuinely tragic provenance) merges initial post-Joy Division gloom with something close to Young Marble Giants and US new wave. Never Say Never, produced by Rik Ocasek of The Cars who in a way was an unsung hero of early new wave (though I find them as a group all but unlistenable to at this remove, not sure why), is perhaps their standout track – and again deservedly so. Cool, cynical and yet far from unengaged, those jagged rhythms and chiming guitars propel this song into the musical canon. Sensibly they avoided leaning on it as their only approach later in their career. A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing) surely has one of the greatest double-edged titles in rock history. A minor, and deserved, hit, it melds their energy and new wave detachment in something explicitly pop and works. As is One Thousand Shadows, which was previously unreleased before their early 1990s compilation – and yet listen to that pulsing bass. None more 1980s.

A fascinating group.

White Sweater

I Mean It

Myself to Myself

Never Say Never

Wrap It Up

Undercover Kept

Just Too Easy

A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)

One Thousand Shadows

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… “Tell Me How You Really Feel” by Courtney Barnett January 5, 2019

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Recently included in Barack Obama’s favorite songs of 2018 for “Need a Little Time”, it has become evident Ms. Barnett is no longer the hidden gem of Australia’s rock scene. And this effort reminded me why.
From the opening drone of the guitar on the opener Hopelessness I was drawn in to the Melbourne’s singer-songwriter’s sophomore album. Following her very conversational garage rock debut “Sometimes I Sit….” and the wonderful joint project with Kurt Vile, “Lotta Sea Lice” , “Tell Me How you Really Feel” builds on the wit from the first and adds a political bite in songs like Nameless Faceless.
Where the album differs is the added bite in the instrumentation, and the added aggression shows what a wonderful guitarist Courtney is. From start to finish it is laced with hooks and although her lyricism is the star the riffs and melody really tie it together.
Also her Concert posters and general promotional art is well worth a look!


This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Dominic Behan December 22, 2018

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Dominic Behan died in 1989, after cremation in Glasgow his ashes were scattered at the Royal Canal Dublin by May MacGiolla, an oration was given by his lifelong friend Seán Garland. The trio can meet up now in the afterlife….
It’s amazing how many traditional standards were written by Dominic Behan. “Come Out Ye Black and Tans”, “Take it down from the Mast” , “McAlpines Fusileers” and so on.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…Belly, Dove December 15, 2018

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Been listening a lot to Belly’s third (count ‘em – third) album, Dove, related this very year, the first in two decades. It comes complete with the near enough original line-up, Tanya Donelly, Thomas Gorman, Chris Gorman and Gail Greenwood (who replaced Fred Abong after the first album).

In the meantime Tanya Donelly has released solo albums, been involved in a raft of other groups and so on. I always liked Belly and really loved her work as a component element of the Breeders. Indeed one of things that really struck me was just how hard edged her vocals were. There was a rasping aspect that worked perfectly in the context of that latter group. Interestingly Gail Greenwood played with L7 for some years while the Gormans played music and if wiki is to be believed set up a commercial photography business.

The latest album? It’s both a continuation of their previous output and in some ways quite different to that which came before – alternative and folky, hardly novel now, but perhaps had it been released in 1997 that would have been a surprise. Or perhaps not given the arrival of alt-country.

Some have aired criticisms that the album drifts and the songs are a bit too long. I don’t know. There’s something about the melodies that I really like, but above and beyond them are the arrangements and vocals that on successive listens lodge in ones memory. And it’s the small touches – the almost shouted backing vocals on Shiny One, the way in which on Human Child the instrumentation pulls back before the countryish chorus comes in, Army of Clay’s swaggering guitars and vocals, the personal and moving Suffer the Fools.

Three decades and more after their first album that strikes me as a victory.

Shiny One

Human Child

Army of Clay

Suffer The Fools

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Songs influenced by Brexit December 8, 2018

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As the debate on the ‘Deal’ continues in the House of Commons a few songs from the UK that reference or are inspired by Brexit. Naturally Billy Braggs “Full English Brexit” is excellent but I really like the tunes by Enter Shakiri and Idles.
Shame with their love song to Theresa May “Visa Vulture” and Goat Girl with the rather disgusting video to Scum…….

………and then there’s Morrissey

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Music from The Embankment November 24, 2018

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Drive up the Blessington Road from Tallaght, past the entrance to CityWest, the road veers right after the turn for Saggart and there on your right is the derelict site of The Embankment. It was a top live venue for Folk acts in the 60’s and 70’s with The Dubliners, Wolfe Tones, Planxty , Clannad and a host of other top acts regularly playing there.
These days with drink driving rules it’s mad to think of such a popular venue in such an out of the way spot, although there were many venues in that era that were only driveable. In the 70’s and early 80’s we had a house in a place called Coolgreaney in Wexford and the local pub Gardiners was packed every Sunday for a jazz session as people drove from Dublin and other spots for the Jazz before driving home. The Jazz sessions are long over.
Incidentally Mick McCarthy, a Kerryman from Listowel ran the Embankment in it’s heyday and had fought in the Battle of Cable Street to keep The Blackshirts out of Londons East End.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Paul Brady November 10, 2018

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Passed him in the street recently and it reminded me of how there was a period where I went to a load of his gigs and that I still had some of his stuff on vinyl and CD. Having a background in Traditional music with The Johnstons and Planxty his self penned material is somewhat different yet his distinctive voice carries it. Aside from numerous Irish acts like Maura O’Connell, Dolores Keane and Joe Dolan his songs have been covered by an array of other artists including Joe Cocker, Cliff Richard, Saint Etienne, Tina Turner, Cher, Phil Collins, Santana, Bonnie Riatt, Art Garfunkel and Paul Young. I’d imagine the songwriting royalties he gets must still be pretty good.

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