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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Twisted Sister September 26, 2020

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I was reading recently how Dee Snider had spoken out against anti mask protests using the Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as part of their protests. He was quoted as saying ….

“No…these selfish a—holes do not have my permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause. #cuttheshit,” 

I looked up the song and it brought me back to an era of Music Videos I suppose aimed at teenage boys. Yet they’re excellently done. There is a whole genre of these type of videos.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Carolina Eyck September 12, 2020

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Carolina Eyck plays an instrument known as a theremin, it’s unusual in that to play it you don’t touch it. This year is the centenary of the instrument

Russian physicist and amateur cellist Lev Sergeyvich Termen (1896–1993) — known to Westerners as Léon Theremin — worked on an electronic sensor that whistled over headphones as intruders approached. The sound changed pitch as he moved his hand closer to and further away from the device, a feature Theremin found so intriguing that he refashioned the invention as the first purely electronic instrument, initially called the etherophone. 

Lenin loved the instrument and Theremin was sent on a tour of Europe and the United States to show off the strength of Soviet technology. It looks incredibly difficult to play but Carolina Eyck is probably one of the best exponent of it at the moment.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Winters Reign August 29, 2020

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Saw a clip of these recently and it bought back some awful memories. Winter’s Reign were an Irish AOR band that released two albums “The Mini Album” and “The Beginning”. I gather Louis Walsh was involved with them, they were managed by former Mamas Boys manager Joe Wynne. Despite a good bit of record company backing, they never quite made it.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… CAN August 15, 2020

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Formed in Cologne in 1968, CAN were a German Rock band, their influences were everything from Jazz, Rock and Funk. Their recording output between 1968 and 1979 was considered incredibly influential. Their live performances featured a lot of improvisation, so often live versions of their songs were rarely the same.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Marianne Faithfull August 8, 2020

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At the start of the pandemic there was the bad news that Marianne Faithfull had contracted Covid-19. Thankfully she has made a good recovery and more power to her. But that made me go back and listen to her 1979 album.. I’ve got to be honest, I hadn’t listened to songs from it since the early to mid-1980s and I’m fairly sure I never heard it in its entirety then or since.

Which is my loss and perhaps my gain since it was peculiarly enjoyable to listen to a very varied, knotty, complex set of songs that touch on new wave, punk, disco, rock and other genres with an adeptness that is remarkable given her previous musical homes – consider that by the time Broken English was released this was her eight album proper (and her second of the 1970s). Granted things had gone significantly awry for her in that period, not least serious addiction and living on the streets.

It would be wrong to say that the album is quite punk, or quite rock. The song that is most clearly positioned in those areas, ‘Why’d Ya Do It’ is the last on the album, lyrically excoriating and with guitar lines that are not unreminiscent of Bowie. The other tracks are less clearly so, the title track – a work of genius – is synth driven with (natch) reverbed guitar riffs and that certainly foreshadows a lot of good and bad that was to come down the musical line (and dedicated to Ulrike Meinhof). Steve Winwood was brought in late in proceedings to beef up the sound with a touch of electronica (got to love the curious sounds in the background of Witches Song). To good effect. But the songs themselves are pretty great (and Tim Hardin co-wrote Brain Drain). And then there’s her voice and the lyrics. This is an emphatically feminist album with a stark, uncompromising view of the world delivered by Faithfull (to take but one example the cover of The Ballad of Lucy Jordan).

Amazingly Allmusic devotes just two sentences to the album.

After a lengthy absence, Faithfull resurfaced on this 1979 album, which took the edgy and brittle sound of punk rock and gave it a shot of studio-smooth dance rock. Faithfull’s whiskey-worn vocals perfectly match the bitter and biting “Why’d Ya Do It” and revitalize John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.”

Robert Christgau wrote of the album:

A punk-disco fusion so uncompromised it will scare away fans of both genres, which share a taste for nasty girls that rarely extends to females past thirty with rat’s-nest hair and last night’s makeup on. The raw dance music isn’t exactly original, and sometimes the offhandedness of the lyrics can be annoying, but I like this even when it’s pro forma and/or sloppy, or maybe because it’s pro forma and/or sloppy, like Dylan when he’s good. “Why’d ya spit on my snatch?” indeed–the music’s harshest account of a woman fending with the world

It’s that sort of an album. The songs are smart, honest and resonant, perhaps particularly now. The mood is dark but thoughtful. Also included Sister Morphine that was recorded during the sessions for the album (or re-recorded given it originally was recorded in 1969), released around the same time and wound up on 12” (dispiritingly she had to fight to get the co-credit along with Jagger and Richards. Is it my imagination or did Fanning play this a fair bit?).


The Ballad of Lucy Jordan


Broken English


Why’d Ya Do It?


Witches Song


Working Class Hero


Sister Morphine

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Junior Kimbrough August 1, 2020

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One of the many Bluesmen that were plugging away until they were “Discovered” in their 50’s or 60’s. Junior Kimbrough was 62 when his first album was released and died at 67. He recorded three albums and by the end of his life the likes of U2, The Rolling Stones and Sonic Youth were making the pilgrimage to Holly Springs in Mississippi to see him play.
The first clip shows him playing in the club he co-owned in Holly Springs , He is also featured in a documentary “You See Me Laughin’: the last of the hill country bluesmen ” which I’ve put in at the end of the post (apologies for it having Bono). The two hour clip from the club “A Night at Junior Kimbrough’s” is amazing too. Interesting to look at the crowd in that clip too, seems word of the music had reached further than Holly Springs.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Tim Smith and Cardiacs July 25, 2020

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A very welcome guest post from Tiger2T

After a long illness Tim Smith passed away this week. I saw his band Cardiacs live only once in the late 80s, but his music and the everything surrounding it- the aesthetic, the stage show and the audience – were something I’d never experienced before or since.

In late 2018 I bought a ticket to see a few bands playing in The Garage in Islington on the Winter Solstice. I booked a night in a guest house nearby and secured a return flight to London City Airport. These bands were descendants, or offshoots of Cardiacs, my all time favourite band and obsession.

Long story short, four days before I was due to fly I fell ill. I spent 9 days in hospital up to Christmas Eve with suspected appendicitis and other complications. Hooked up to drips and drifting in and out of fevers I kept myself updated and frustrated on Facebook looking at photos and videos of the gig as they came in.

The bands were playing to raise funds for the medical care of Tim Smith, leader of Cardiacs who had been brought low in 2008 by a full cardiac arrest which in turn led to hypoxic brain damage and left him with a little known condition called dystonia (cardiacs.net). They were also playing to celebrate their Cardiacs lineage and to pay tribute to Smith.

In a nutshell, Cardiacs were formed in the late 70’s and delivered a beautiful/ugly cacophony throughout the 80s, 90s and early oughts. If ever there was a marmite band Cardiacs were it. Under the baton of Tim Smith, songwriter, guitarist and singer the many line-ups brought into the world a chthonic maelstrom of prog, punk, psych, pop, sweet, snarling, fairground nightmare, breakneck, whiplash, nursery rhyme, sea shanty, english hymnal, schoolboy shame, big important man, glitching, twitching ferocity and earthbound magic… for starters.

I was living in London in 1989 and was dragged to see them at The Brixton Fridge. I won’t say I was immediately smitten, it was more like the effect of a hallucinatory drug changing the way you see, hear and tolerate things from then on. I bought their album On Land and in the Sea and thought ‘this is awful, why can’t I stop listening to it?’

Cardiacs have a tight band of devoted fans/friends/followers referred to by Tim Smith and by themselves as ‘The Pond’. An amazing concert they played in Salisbury in 1990 was captured on film and can be viewed under the title ‘All that Glitters is a Mares Nest’. It wallops you with the full throttle Cardiacs experience from that time and a core of the Pond, there on the day, are still the Pond today. They’ve been joined by many later fish and the FB group, a reliable record of pond life, now boasts over 5,600 members.

In late 2019 one of the bands that played the night I missed, Spratleys Japs, announced another Winter Solstice gig this time in Brighton. “This time!” I typed into the FB comments. And so it came to be. I went to Brighton and had a brilliant night in the pond.

Cardiacs have been featured before on ‘This week I’ll be mostly…’ but they get another go because the work of Tim Smith has opened and blown our minds and holds such a special place in our hearts.

The assault starts here. The Duck and Roger the Horse is the first track on their ’89 album On Land and in the Sea and is probably my favourite Cardiacs live clip.

Irish composer Martin Keary (Tantacrul) gives an introduction to the strange and wonderful world of Cardiacs with the added value of a little music lesson

The first Cardiacs song on my radar, the video shares themes and images with a nightmare I had as a small child.

Everyone’s favourite Cardiacs anthem.

Is this the life?

A track from Some Fairytales from the Rotten Shed, footage of Cardiacs’ rehearsals of their early tracks.

Jibber and Twitch

The Sea Nymphs was side project for Tim and Sarah Smith and keyboardist Bill Drake

On the dry land

An amazing song from another of Smith’s bands.

Vine

My favourite album track, The Everso closely guarded line, from On Land and in the Sea.
One of their scarier songs. Yes it’s a prog-tastic 8 minutes plus but it rewards listening to the end.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Shane MacGowan and The Popes July 18, 2020

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After the break up of The Pogues,  Shane MacGowan was the frontman for The Popes for six years. They released a few albums and singles and played countless live shows. Saw them umpteen times and the sets were a good mix of Pogues and Popes songs. “Lonesome Highway” and “The Song With No Name” are two of my favourite MacGowan tracks ever. Even though they were very good, they still weren’t the Pogues!

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Lisa Hannigan and Paul Noonan July 4, 2020

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A pair of artists that regularly collaborate to produce some lovely tunes. Both happened to play concerts over the lockdown. Lisa Hannigan in the National Gallery of Ireland and Paul Noonan in the NCH. It was lovely to watch these, yet so strange especially looking at an empty National Concert Hall.
They also dueted on The lovely Printer Clips album.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Joe Dolan June 13, 2020

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One of the patterns from the lockdown and working from home is that I try and take lunch around 12.30. So I’m in the kitchen and the radio is on and like my mother before me, it’s permanently tuned to RTE Radio One. So daily as I make my lunch or cooking something for the family I’m listening to Ronan Collins.
Between the birthdays, Anniversary’s and other requests there’s the music. Generally it’s quite pleasant.
He plays a lot of Joe Dolan and I’ve found myself singing along to Joe numerous times as  my children look on incredulous.
Saw him in Wexford in the late 80’s and it was a great show, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone sweat so much on stage. There are so many tunes that everyone knows.

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