we love you, our countries fucked…

I drove down the road being passed by big raised up trucks flying American flags, they are mostly diesels that belch great angry clouds of smoke as they downshift.

It’s not a parade, it’s a statement. It’s letting us all know they are there. The flag waving good ole boys. Or is that my own bias coming out there.

I was tailgated by a Kia, it was blue and the woman driving was probably half my age, she eventually passed me flipped me off and the bumper sticker proudly proclaimed her desire for a love of the god and the flag.

On the corner there is a Trump sign, its been there for years, it looks a bit run down leaning into the weather, red letters on a grubby off-white background. It must be six feet square.

I watched a man on TV tonight calling for us to unify, to come together, to get back on track, at no time did he talk of what divided us, the lies, the racism the abuses of power.

I realized that unity is almost impossible if you are not aware of how we got here, the small lies that got bigger, the fear and scapegoating that ended with the biggest of all lies.

I watched the numbers of sick getting higher and higher, almost a thousand a day in Oregon and I thought maybe we really have fucked ourselves as a race.

So I played Godspeed You ! Black Emperor and fell into the drones and the violence and cathartic dissonance and beauty of the music. It’s almost magical how every now and then the melody cuts through the noise.

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, it’s almost cataclysmic in its scope, crushing.

I planted some flowers in an old washing machine we found in the woods, the previous owner used it to pump water to irrigate his marijuana grow.

I also planted some peas and beans and tomatoes, along with corn and sunflowers.

Some things make life better.

am I at home…

I wanted to hear guitars!

It’s been hip for a long time to heap adulations on Steven Wilson. He has been the darling of the prog world, he has remixed almost every 70’s album anyone would let him near and now he is invading the pop world, as well as being in more bands than one man has a right to be in.

Steven Wilson’s Hand Cannot Erase tour was the greatest tour my youngest child ever saw, well that and Alice Cooper but there ya go.

My wife truly dislikes Porcupine Tree’s music, you can’t hold that against her though she also hates Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and Motorhead and barely tolerates Tangerine Dream, she does however love Fairport Convention and Neil Young, although not the long loud songs, so there is still hope.

I think I had Up the Downstairs on some sort of cassette that Gooey taped for me for the flight to the USA in 1994, or maybe it was the On the Sunday of Life album. Either way that badly recorded cassette with no track titles on it was my soundtrack for that flight from the UK as we headed out to our new life in the USA.

It rattled around in the pick up for years, it seemed to always be that tape that was in the cassette player whoever you got in the truck, that and Green by REM and a Roy Harper self released tape that goes for silly money if I still had it. Eventually they all got stolen with the cassette player from the truck, the joys of living in the rougher end of town I suppose.

If I am honest and I do try to be, okay every now and then there is an embellishment for dramatic affect I am from Liverpool after all, I really prefer Steven Wilson’s Porcupine Tree when he was a spotty kids recording his tunes in his bedroom, and sending them off to Nick Salomon, well thats how I like to think of it, some homemade recording and a lot of acid.

Up the Downstairs is a gentle psychedelic ramble though the foggy dreams of young Mr Wilsons mind, yes reminiscent or Floyd, Genesis and Tangerine Dream with several truly dodgy lyrics along the way, it’s the musical passages that are really the highlight though. Obviously Steven was and is a fan of 70’s psychedelic/prog and rock music and was not afraid of the long song.

More shitty photies as they say.

It ticks all the boxes, long songs/tunes, disliked by at least one family member, not too demanding late at night.

Bonus is that there are lots of guitars.

There you go damned by faint praise as my dad would say.

I know my way is hard and steep…

There’s always been a connection between psychadelic music and folk music, maybe it’s the thought of all that frolicking through the woods in May being pursued by faerie queens to procreate under the shimmering sun until the rising of the moon.

Or maybe there is really no connection other than all those psychedelic types were too out of it to write their own songs so they raided the Childe ballads and Roud collections.

I like to think it is the connection to otherworldliness and and an attempt to explain the unexplainable. Of course what to do I really know?

Maybe it’s the idea that folk music is the music of the people and their wish to have fun.

Not sure where I am going with this other than The Trimdon Grange Explosion are pretty darn good, they are loud irreverent and manage to capture folk without being too attached to the form. Plenty of depth and they are not afraid to be loud which is often the big mistake for-rock-psychedelic bands make. Folk music is not a twee form it is robust or it would never have lasted and most of the tunes are for dancing at the end of the day.

The band came to fruition out of the Eighteenth Day of May, released as single, then disappeared for several years before releasing an album. Go figure:

ogreish hey nonny non…

Over here, “hey nonny non” Bruce at Vinyl Connection described Alan Stivell as providing some “elvish hey nonny non.”

This got me to thinking about the ogreish side of the nonny non. Bruce suggested some Sabbath and other options, however I really feel like this deserves some real Celtic feel so here is my suggestion the Irish band Lankum provides a really beautiful complex and engaging sound usually however here on the Pride of Petravore they provide a terrifyingly harrowing track.

Here is my suggestion for the “ogreish hey nonny non” by the way I love it.

I am a bit obsessed with Lankum right now so here is more:

a man feels afraid…

I’ve been listening to Neil Young for most of my life. I can pretty much find something worthwhile in all his twists and turns, we have been in the ditch together, had our classic moments, rusted and gone all folky and even dabbled with country together and tied on our blue suede shoes in a big fuck you to David Geffen as we tipped our pork pie hat.

There is however a period that is classic, those first four albums and the CSNY album Neil was pretty damn incapable of messing up an album. Following this he still managed to create the ditch and all it’s glory but he has been consistently dragging us through his psychedelic miasma, making rash decisions, abandoning albums, releasing the wrong album at the right time and in general being all ‘neil’ about things.

So this month we have been in the rust bucket and now we are all acoustic, the two polarities of Neil Young in one month. Young Shakespeare is similar to the Massey Hall release, the show was recorded three days later. It is exactly what you think it should be a flawless live album in the brief period of time between the release of After the Goldrush and before Harvest, all on acoustic guitar and piano. Neil is in a fine mood laughing with the audience and doing his best Bert Jansch impression at times on guitar.

I think I am in Neil Young overload a bit with five live L.P.’s to digest in one month, it may take some time and then I went and signed up for the Rust level on the archives that gives me access to all those movies he has made as well as being able to listen to the archives. I have it feels like been listening to nothing but Neil, maybe time for a change of diet.

There is something special about the A Man Need A Maid/Heart of Gold medley that elevates both songs.

at night I hang from the ledge…

There has been a not unsurprising resurgence of the introspective album recorded in isolation, we used to call that getting it together in the country, now we call it normal life.

Olivia Chaney has created a truly beautiful isolation album that merits listening to again and again and doesn’t disappoint each time.

Shelter is three years old in June, recorded in then voluntary isolation in North Yorkshire in what sounds like a half falling down house. It is however not a claustrophobic album, it is introspective and obviously very personal, in the way many of Joni Mitchell’s are at once personal and universal.

Still posting shite photies

I am not doing well at putting this in words, I find this to be a compelling album that draws you in to it’s own world. She has a beautiful voice that is up there with the finest of English folk singers and her songwriting is empathetic and affecting.

gotta taste the wild honey…

Too few times is there a moment any more when you can just rock in the Covid world. Welcome to 1976 when rock was still played by manly men chugging whisky and beer and smoking cigarettes and objectifying everything whether it was cars, rocks or whatever rolled past their eyesight as they gently curled there chest hairs.

I am not sure if Nazareth ever made the big time, yes Love Hurts was a hit and the Nazgul covered Hair of the Dog managed to convince the metal loving Tolkien fan to buy it for the cover alone. Play’n’ the Game However does not have the luxury of a sweet fantasy styled album cover. It has the four members of the band gathered around a table smoking and drinking Heineken, which in 1976 was the fancy lager.

Now this is a bluesy funky heavy album of strutting and rolling slinky drinking and womanizing songs. It’s one that just rolls along in a befuddled manner, some rockers some funkers and some ballads, all of which have the amazing vocals of Dan McCafferty. It’s the blues as filtered through the Stones and Otis Redding via a healthy dose of Deep Purple.

There are no secrets here, just the truth that in life sometimes you will act reckless, fall in love and have your heart broken and you will never learn to do that differently. Also the answer to all these problems is to do it all again because that’s what rockers do damn it.

monday mornings no good coming down…

Lost classics shouldn’t necessarily be from 2005. Sixteen years ago The Eighteenth Day of May released their one and only album on CD and it was stunning. In 2020 on the 18th of May it was re-released on vinyl with all sorts of other bits and pieces that if you tracked them all down in other forms may cost a small fortune. It’s still stunning and sounds timeless.

specialising in crappy pictures one day at a time

At the time it was classed along with other”wyrd folk” a genre I think Judy Dyble created on her own. I still am not sure what that means, maybe folk that doesn’t require the finger in the ear! I think it’s just a great album.

There is a particular sound to English Folk-Rock from about 1968 to the mid 70’s, slightly hazy production with some raga rock feeling and the often close to nursery rhyme lyrics preferably sung with a super polite english female vocalist. The guitars overlap and create a unique wall of sound while mandolins and dulcimers and violins are all over the place. This was probably created by a lot of sincere young people trying to be original, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, any numbers of Albion iterations and the Pentangle personify this along with a slew of others such as Trees and Tir Na Nog. Eighteenth Day of May have managed to capture the feel without slavishly following the formula and every now and then the band will burst into a jangly byrdsian, California Monkees feel to break things up.

By track two of the Eighteenth Day of May’s one and only album they have covered all the bases. Then over four sides they hit all the stops, wall of sound, gentle pieces, indie pop jangle, they don’t head for the heavy metal corner but if they did it may be early Sabbath that falls out.

Of course all this is very surface and doesn’t actually do justice to how great a record The Eighteenth Day of May is, yes it does reference all that sunny summer of love folkiness, it also conjures up the Velvet Underground and the Cowboy Junkies in the same heady slice of pie.

The problem with all these comparisons is that you think you know what to expect.

They managed to cover Richard Farina’s Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood and managed to match Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny’s version.

I don’t do the song for song thing yet, maybe one day I will. This album though has consistently been the one I reach for if I want to smell the incense and frolic in the daisy’s on a summers or early spring day.

There is also a stunning version of Codine that may rival Mans version.

with music that would cure their souls…

It’s been 19 years since I listened to this album. I never knew you could get it on vinyl until I found this so thats a good thing that you can I suppose.

It’s pleasant enough, some nice reworking of old songs and some nice enough then new songs, as well as the cringeworthy Crowd song.

People who are new to Fairport Convention generally really like the current lineup, let’s face it this is the longest lasting lineup of Fairport Convention in the history of the band so consistency is everything I suppose.

It’s not a bad album, it’s just not as great as they have done. I watched Simon Nicol say on the John Peel youtube channel about Fairport Convention that the thing that saves them as a touring and recording band is that they have never had a truly defining great album. This has allowed them to go on creating music. I am sure there are many who would disagree with this statement, however it is easy to find flaws in all their albums of one sort or another, not enough guitar, not enough fiddle, too sappy, too happy or too drunk, who knows. So based on that logic this album is as good as all the others.

The truth is if you ask any Fairport fan to name their favorite album you will probably get a different one for every person you ask. Ask them about gigs though and thats where they light up tales of Peggy chasing people with a large inflatable banana, Simon fluffing his lines, Swarb causing trouble an grinning mischievously and drinking an entire bottle of wine during the bass solo, or was it port, Maart and his sarcasm, Mattacks and his cowbell, Rowland and his tambourine, Ric’s cosmic violin and Chris Leslie maybe being the nicest musician ever. The bad jokes, the musical pyrotechnics, Sandy’s shyness, Thompsons laconic wit and Iain’s youthful looks and amazing vocals, and Judy’s smile and the day Robert Plant strolled onto the stage.

XXV is as good or as flawed as all the others, there are moments of beauty and then the fluffed lines, it all sounded better live and damn I wish Simon would play electric guitar again.

Continuing the ageless Fairport tradition of bad album covers.

for summer is a coming in…

So punk rock was a thing, then the Pogues punked up some Irish songs and it was hip to cut your hair short, speed up the tempo and go hell for leather with the drinking songs if you were a folk band.

The thing is one band managed to go from performing one of the most cringeworthy songs about a charabanc to a small coastal town on the Menai Straits to convincing the record buying public that they were a real punk-folk band.

I give you The Oysterband who successfully reinvented themselves from being Fiddlers Dram with the gloriously frivolous song Daytrip to Bangor and didn’t they have a lovely time. To the serious folk-rock band that recorded the much more serious Another Quiet Night in England.

You can compare and contrast, yes it’s mostly the same band.

Now don’t get me wrong Daytrip to Bangor brings back memories of many a coach trip to North Wales from my hometown, it was just a couple of hours away but may as well have been another continent from Liverpool. Of course pick the right weekend in Rhyll or Llandudno and you could very well be on Church Street in Liverpool if you only listened to the accents. The coach on the way back would smell like brown ale and fish and chips and we invariably had to stop to use the toilet somewhere between Queensferry and Runcorn. Oh the heady days of childhood in North Wales.

Now The Oysterband are actually a rather excellent folk-rock band, they did get better when Cathy LeSurf decamped to join one of Ashley Hutchings incarnations of the Albion Band they got to speed up and get all jiggery with the music.

Listening to Step Outside by the Oysterband these days it’s easy to get caught up in the less than muscular sound, it really is not as good as the live sound they managed to have at the time. The songs really came alive live and the dancing was wild and frivolous, as shown by my awful blurred photograph.

There may have been some movement involved in the photography here as I relived a moment from my youth. If you could see the photograph you would notice that they are such nice clean cut young men, even though they seemed to have a decidedly socialist bent to the lyrics which could be worrying in this age of nationalism and fear of the other, or was that last year?