A very welcome and given it’s the 4th of July appropriate guest post from YourCousin.
One can’t begrudge success. And classic country acts who have a certain cross over appeal are as legitimate as anyone else. But there comes a time when the cross over appeal becomes cooption. I would put Johnny Cash into that category. I remember where I was when both June Carter and Johnny Cash died, the exact moment and location. He is understandably a bigger than life icon, but when Jay Z and Jonny Depp, and Owen Wilson show up in the your music videos well it should give one pause (I mean he’s dead so it’s not his fault, but still). So any more when someone asks me who my favorite country musician is I always say Tom T. Hall. If they say, “who?” then I get the chance to play a song or two for and if they already know then they get extra brownie points. A songwriter whose influence was felt by other artists rather than by the public at large, I always considered him a good journeyman song writer. Someone who approaches the artistic process as a craft,
with skill and a matter of factness which some of the the more “artistically inclined” folks may not always have. For a better take I would direct folks to this article from The Guardian.
This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Wailers June 27, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Went to The Script last Weekend in Croke Park… The Script were good , that Pharrell Williams was woeful and the highlight of the day were The Wailers. I hadn’t realised that they were playing!
I suppose they are almost a tribute act at this stage but what a repertoire they have to choose from. Yes no Bob Marley but still a brilliant sound and great songs.
Was amused in the intro to “Get Up, Stand Up” the leader singer Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin was talking about Revolution with his arm up in the air clenched fist in a Black Power style salute…. a lot of the crowd seemed bemused at the gesture.
It’s very hard not to enjoy songs like ‘One Love’ , ‘No Woman No Cry’ and so on. They really are classics. It also left me wondering how much better it would have been to see Bob Marley and The Wailers in their prime.
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It had been a while since I listened to Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Go’s. At least three or four years. And before that probably a decade or so. I bought this first in Macs in the Georges Street Arcade in or around 1984 and never regretted it. But what struck me was just how good it remained.
There was, for all that it was new wave pop, a punky snarl in amongst the 1950s girl group stylings and the surf guitars – that curious mixture of looking simultaneously forward and back is very 1982, isn’t it? It’s in the metronomic beats behind some of the songs, the sheer power of the drums (most un-1950s on the backing to the chorus on How Much More), the restrained but not muted guitars, the ever so slightly off kilter and sometimes melancholic approach to the vocals and the angular arrangements.
Read any of the accounts of west coast punk and it can be surprising just how high profile and well-regarded the Go-Go’s were by the most unlikely of peers. They were part of the scene and though there was a sense amongst some that they were shifting from it there was surprisingly little rancour directed at them. Half a year in the UK in 1980 clearly altered their trajectory yet further – not least due to the success of ‘We Got the Beat’ which even in demo version became a hit there. A deal with IRS followed and with that their first album, the aforementioned Beauty and the Beat.
Allmusic suggests that this album was one of a number that brought new wave in the US to a wider audience. it’s very possible for it is quite simply full of really well arranged and composed songs. Our Lips Are Sealed is rightly a classic – and co-composed with Terry Hall – all chugging guitars, as is Tonite, This Town and We Got the Beat but there is real pleasure in the other less well known tracks.
I’ve read some note that early REM sounds not unlike this, and you know, it’s not that much of a stretch. There’s a jangling quality to the guitars and the arrangements. Both groups were expanding the space that post-punk operated in, both in an odd way reaching back to pop albeit in unexpected directions.
I remember buying Vacation, its successor, at more or less the same time and being a little disappointed. There the formula had been smoothed out, the melodies a little less distinct, and a sense that while the textural aspects were all there somehow it was a bit lacking. And yet that album too has its moments. Later there were breakups, solo careers, sort of kind of bids for stardom and so on, and a sense that they had become even more commercial. They have however reformed numerous times and are still gigging.
And this, this is a great album and its familiarity – perhaps over familiarity at certain points – is no reason to ignore that fact. Brilliantly ironic post-punk cover too.
Our Lips Are Sealed
We’ve Got the Beat
How Much More
This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening… Slowdive June 13, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Was out for a pint recently with a friend who was telling me he had been to see Ride in London a few weeks ago. Ride were reportedly amazing…. we got talking about shoegazing bands from that era….. Slowdive came up and it turns out that after almost 20 years they had reformed last year.
They are a band that I’ve listened to since the early nineties, lovely guitar, Rachel Goswells beautiful voice. Some beautiful slow tunes and atmospheric ones too.A host of EPs and three albums followed. They broke up in 1995 and some members reformed as the wonderful Mojave 3 and reformed last year.
As an aside I bought The Drays album yesterday. The Drays being the band that ex Star of Heaven Stephen Ryan is with now. From the couple of listens I’ve had it’s excellent. It’s funny but I think its the first album in 20 years that I’ve been so eager to get that I’ve bought it on the day of release.
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Is June early Summer or late Spring? Given how cool the weather has been it’s easy to make a case for the latter. But anyhow, here’s some tracks I’ve been listening to recently that I really like.
Starting with a genuine feel good Summer track from French outfit the Penelope[s]. I always liked their first album from the 2000s which straddled a sort of new wave/post punk/electronic/pop area that was a lot harder edged, for the most part, than their last album from a few years back from which this track is taken. Kind of like both approaches.
The Penelope[s] – Summer Life
Keeping that mood what of this from 1960s and early 70s US group Blue Cheer – not a very well known name this side of the Atlantic, but on their first two albums responsible for something very like proto-metal.
Blue Cheer – Summer Time Blues
Was never much of a fan of Babes in Toyland back in the day, but grown to quite like their raucous punk/metal/near grunge clatter as time has passed. So here’s a blast from their earliest years, Dust Cake Boy – 1989 and for those who appreciate this good news in that they reformed earlier in the year (as by the way have the indomitable L7).
Babes in Toyland – Dust Cake Boy
And speaking of things metallic. Good to see US boogie revivalists Endless Boogie (dealt with in this slot all those years back) just keep on keeping on.
Endless Boogie – On Cryology
While we’re on the subject of the late 1960s been listening to this crew too quite a bit recently. Here’s all ten minutes of part of their contribution to Woodstock and what is something of a classic.
Canned Heat – On the Road Again (Woodstock)
Here’s Blue in Heaven’s Across My Heart which for my sins I only heard for the first time this last month. I’d been listening to All the Gods Men and Explicit Material plus some of the Fanning Sessions and an RTÉ live broadcast that myself and Alastair – once of this parish – were at in 1986 or so. And then I went looking for their successor group, Blue Angels material online, with no success, but then realised that there was still some material I hadn’t heard including the above single. I’m still convinced that they were one of the few really good Irish groups of that mid to late 1980s period. Across My Heart is just such a great immediate song that I’m amazed it doesn’t have a wider recognition. This by the by was produced by one Martin Hannett.
Across My Heart – Blue in Heaven
Meanwhile from Wire, a track from their album released a little earlier this year, which is oddly appropriate. I’m hearing mixed reports of the Fall’s latest album which deals with much the same subject matter but Wire manage to have a light touch in relation to all things tech. Though they would with that name they’ve got, wouldn’t they?
Wire – Blogging
There’s been an odd little Nordic krautrock/pop/electronic scene, though perhaps that’s too grand a word for what is a few bands making music with some commonalities, across the last decade or so. Silverbullitt, 121 Days and here is Audionom. I like them all but this is particularly good I think.
Audionom – Kristell
And here some electronica. Straight from the Warp label and an EP track. Mighty fine.
Clark – Silver Sun
And here’s something a bit popper from a former member of Mind.In.A.Box, the not exactly brilliantly named Thyx… and Robots Don’t Lie.
Thyx Robots Don’t Lie
This is amazing. It reminds me of early to mid-period Black Dog, Palmbomen II and a track drawn from the latest album – an album which has a fairly entertaining concept at its core. No prizes for those who can suss it out without going looking for what it is. Think I might do a longer This Weekend on this one.
Palmbomen II Lorraine Kelleher
I’ve no excuse of this, I’m a real sucker for European synthpop/futurepop and EBM, and this hits all those categories in turn. Oddly enough I’m no fan of Depeche Mode, and the vocals are reminiscent of same, but clearly not too much so.
Code 64 S.O.L.
Loved the song Vine by Cardiacs spin-off, Spratley Japs, and here’s Heavy Lamb containing some of the members of the SJs at a benefit for Tim Smith from a few weeks ago playing just that.
Heavy Lamb play Spratley Japs ‘Vine’.
I tuned in to John Kelly for the first time in probably years in the last week or so and heard a track by this crew and got to admit I really like it – sufficiently so to go exploring. Here’s another piece by them which is mighty good.
Marcin Wasilewski Trio & Joakim Milder – Sudovian Dance
And to leave with another sunny track, always quite liked Best Coast, not least for their fetishism of…er… the west coast. And this from their latest album California Nights will do just fine.
California Nights – Best Coast
This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Denis May 30, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
For the times that are in it……
Once upon a time long long before they became the go to outfit for Celtic mystic atmospherics and had all the big name collaborations and special appearances Clannad produced albums like this – Dúlamán, their third album, released in 1976. They might not be the Ramones or the Pistols, but mighty fine they were in their own way: albums filled with spare traditional standards, beautifully produced and performed. And yet with an odd undercurrent. Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (Lament For Owen Roe) typifies this strand, albeit the guitars are perhaps that bit more emphatic than might be expected.
And therein lies the fascination of this album for me, the way the title track- surely one of their finest moments – has something of their future in its vocals and arrangements, particularly the central part and the end which nod to (then) contemporary folk and rock. It reminds me of what Robert Christgau once observed about the second Boston album, that there was some hint of corruption of the form that pushed it beyond the purely formalistic. To me that’s a strength rather than a weakness and the proof seems to me to be the effortless way they blend the styles together. I won’t overstate it. Such excursions were far from unknown in groups then and now.
But the approach is replicated to a greater or lesser extent on track after track. Two Sisters, with lilting vocals that are just about crystal clear and which within a minute or so pushes in a more muscular direction. Or what of the multi tracked wordless vocals that open Éirigh Suas A Stóirín (Rise Up My Love) and the genuinely lovely instrumental arrangement of the song – is it too much of a stretch to suggest someone had been listening closely to CSN and those of that ilk?
The Galtee Hunt also moves from traditional music in a more folk direction fairly sharpish. This pattern is evident in many of the tracks, Éirigh is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Eadaigh (Dress Yourself) where semi-instrumental passages arrive about half-way through. It’s as if a subtly different aesthetic is smuggled into the music. The rhythm guitar on Mo Mháire is yet another example.
A lot to like here.
Éirigh Suas A Stóirín (Rise Up My Love)
Éirigh is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Eadaigh (Dress Yourself)
Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (Lament For Owen Roe)
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Three Years ago I popped up some songs from my days in a band.. . Well I have some more and it’s weird because I hadn’t listened to them at all in the past year but was prompted during the week to give them a listen again…. and sure if you lot wont listen to me nobody will :)
Some of it is shite but funnily enough the ones I think are shite, other people have thought that they were less shite.
The beleaguered population of the United Kingdom? Well, the Tories back, again. A supine centrist LP. Murmurs and more of the UK breaking up. It’s just like the late 1970s all over again.
What better time for a documentary on The Damned – punk survivors, but more than that? And here is the trailer…
Doesn’t it look great? And so it should because the Damned released the first British punk single, released the first punk album, were the first British punk group to tour the US. And yet others tend to have a greater prominence. It’s difficult to quite explain this. The documentary suggests that they should have released one album and had one of their number die.
I can’t help but think that it was a mixture of the sense they were messers (the names of various members Rat Scabies, Captain Sensible spoke of a sense of humour), that despite or because of the punk, later goth and garage stylings they achieved a fair measure of chart success as something remarkably like a pop group – even became, whisper it, popular… and that yes they stayed the course mostly, surviving and even prospering. And perhaps too their visual style, a most unpunk like tilt towards the melodramatic, Dave Vanian being exhibit A with his Hammer Horror movie look, didn’t help either for those who liked to keep it pure.
Perhaps it also was the duality of their output, particularly early on. There was a rigour to their singles – I Feel Alright being a good example, but also an underlying melodicism. Their first – that historic first punk single in the UK full stop – New Rose, was a perfect blend of rock and roll and punk, a combination of the energies drawn from both sources. But listen to their output as they progress and it was clear that psychedelia, garage, a pinch of prog, proto goth and eventually goth proper and other strands were as, if not more, important.
Messers they might be, and messers they were, but they could play – Vanian’s voice was great with a range that covered punk, crooning, goth, whatever – and they clearly had ambitions beyond the often self-imposed constraints of punk. Perhaps too it was that in some ways those ambitions were quite traditional. Look at that list again, psychedelia, garage, prog, goth and so on. It’s not that they never used sequencers – their goth phase and before saw them couple their sound to some fairly rigid beats, but when you’re releasing a cover of Alone Again Or in the late 1980s it’s fairly clear that your vision is one positioned firmly in a certain context. And perhaps that’s it, they didn’t go the post-punk route, not at all. They remained a rock group.
But what a rock group. It’s difficult to pick out individual albums. Damned Damned Damned was an abrasive burst of punk – guitarist Brian James, later of the entertaining and often excellent Lords of the New Church with Stiv Bator, brought a certain tortured aspect to the group on tracks like Feel The Pain. Roughly produced, raw, elemental, these are key document from the front line of punk.
But tellingly their next album, Music For Pleasure was almost an F.U. to punk tropes. Produced by – of all people – Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (and with an intriguingly New Wave styled cover by the peerless Barney Bubbles) it was goodish, perhaps hinting at rather than attaining the potential promise of their sound, but poorly received critically. Machine Gun Etiquette from 1979 had a much stronger welcome, not least due to tracks like Smash It Up and Love Song which seemed to crack the melodic/punk issue perfectly. The Black Album from 1980 was a two disc magnum opus – tinged with proto-goth numbers but not forgetting their punk past (check out the times of the tracks, most are under four minutes). Strawberries was excellent, a sort of distillation of its predecessor. Phantasmagoria was commercial, if by commercial one means a sort of goth pop with tracks like The Shadow of Love, Grimly Fiendish and so on. All tongue in cheek, but given a certain pathos by Vanian’s none more deep vocals. But by now Sensible was long gone and with him a certain oddness that added something intangible but important to the group. That said I’ve still a soft spot for the follow up album Anything, though it’s hardly a masterpiece and was a commercial flop.
An hiatus in the 1990s led to Rat Scabies releasing an album under the Damned name, with Vanian on vocals, though it seems to not be regarded as canon. The late 1990s saw Sensible return and with him Patricia Morrions, late of the Gun Club and Sisters of Mercy and now partner of Vanian. They released a good album Grave Disorder, that pushed back towards their garage/goth roots, and more recently, which is to say seven years ago Vanian and Sensible with assorted accomplices released the even better ‘So, Who’s Paranoid?’
Actually I’ve never seen them as an albums band really. Years ago I got The Light at the End of the Tunnel two disc/tape/CD compilation best of and while I’ve acquired a fair few of the individual albums subsequently it never struck me as a bad testament to the group – spanning the Brian James years, the Captain Sensible and post Captain Sensible period and on up to their surprising return to the charts in the mid to late 1980s. Indeed the sense of them as an excellent singles group comes across loud and clear – and not just singles. All the albums have non-single gems like Stranger on the Town, Disco Man amongst others. That said there are albums I do like, Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album, yeah, even, for all its gloss, Phantasmagoria (look closely at the cover, by the way, you’ll see a jet in the background of the none more gothic cover photograph).
Saw them three times, once in the SFX in 1984 or 1985, later in the Top Hat in 1986 and then in the Music Centre, as was, ten years ago. They were pretty great on all three occasions, though at a push the first and last gigs were most memorable – the latter perhaps because Sensible was back in the fold. They’re still going and I’m looking forward to the documentary. By the by, those interested in their garage/psych roots will probably like a spin-off album released under the name Naz Nomad and the The Nightmares.
Plan 9 Channel 7
Smash It Up
History of the World (Pt. 1)
Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
Stranger on the Town
Shadow of Love
Given that they are in the news I figured that this weekend I’d be listening to some songs about buses. Some good songs in there too. Ironically its on the bus that I listen to most music these days too.
Many moons ago I worked as a bus conductor and there were tape players in the drivers compartment. So if the driver was agreeable my walkman was opened and the bus would be listening to Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, AC DC or some other musical delights. The reaction was generally good , especially at the quieter times of the day.