That’s the worst cover I ever saw…

A terrifying thing happened in my search for Nursery Cryme I found this 

  Of course I bought it but the cover is amazingly awful. It is almost awe inspiring in it’s lack of any artistic merit. 
Then to compound things it is so confusing. 

Side 1 of Nursery Cryme followed by Side 1 of Foxtrot on Side 2 then Side 3 is the second side of Nursery Cryme followed by the final side of Foxtrot on Side 4. 

Obviously so you can play it on a stacker or whatever they were called but so confusing when you are not expecting it. 

It’s a Buddha record release and is described as a Best Of Genesis album so there must have been some really confused people in 1976 when it was released. It is however a fine stop gap as I search out a decent copy of Nursery Cryme although I have to hide it away in case a visitor sees it 

Come ye young men, come along…

Lost opportunities abound for some bands. Fairport Convention may be the band with the most lost  in English folk-rock. Always a strong band with two of England’s most original songwriters in Denny and Thompson and an album in Liege and Lief that is considered the most important folk-rock album on more lists than you can figure. A revolving door of lineups and some strange business choices resulted for many years in a band that’s talent and ability define the idea of cult band. They have now finally settled on a lineup that may not be the most creative but is the most consistent but that is for another post and probably a longer one.

For many Liege and Lief is the album to go to. It is maybe their most important they have produced but I have never really enjoyed the production or sound of the album regardless of format. If you really want to hear the power and the glory of Fairport go to Full House. It also just sounds better than Liege and Lief .An album made by a band that on the cusp of success lost it’s founder and guide in Ashley Hutchings and it’s lead singer and front person in Sandy Denny. Dave Pegg replaced Hutching’s on bass and they went into the studio to record an album which is in my opinion stronger than Liege and Lief.

Seven tracks, two Swarbrick/Thompson compositions two sets of tunes, two traditional songs and the psychedelic masterpiece that is Sloth. Now Be Thankful was recorded at this time along with Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman but not considered for the album which may be the biggest crime perpetrated by Fairport Convention ever.

This is the point in Fairport’s career they most resembled the Band. A group of musicians living and breathing the music.housefull This lineup was a powerhouse live which is why if you get Full House you also need House Full, Live at the LA Troubadour. They are companion pieces. An epic studio album and a live album with a band that sounds like it cannot be restrained.

Zeppelin apparently attended several of the shows at the Troubadour and somewhere in bootleg fantasy land or more likely Pegg’s closet is a recording of the beer fueled jam that has Page attempting to keep up with Thompson on jigs, reels and rock and roll standards. It is better it has never been heard so the legend can grow of that night, some things really are better to be mythical.

laThe original version of House Full on Island has the bands worst ever cover. It was also the record that caused me to be ejected from the sixth form common room for playing it to the massed Joy Division fans as they sat in a gloomy huddle in the corner on a hot July day in their overcoats and with their very concerned looks. I like to think it was because they could not stand the collective joy of five world class musicians playing those trad jigs at break neck speed but there may have been other reasons. Among which may have been I was less than gentle with their record as I removed it from the player. In those days taking a record to school was risky business. Not only did you risk the ridicule of your peer group but you risked damage once your two songs were up.


Was it summer when the river ran dry?

I have never been an audiophile but I do enjoy things that sound right. I don’t necessarily believe that vinyl sounds better, I just think it is cooler looking and more fun to own, I also like the search for things I want as in an age of constant communication and access to things it is nice to engage with people about something you enjoy.

I have had a couple of versions of some albums over the years looking for  the best sounding version but often I am happy with the music on most releases unless they are brick walled.

This post from Vinyl Connection

had me searching for a copy of Wind and Wuthering as I was reminded of how much I loved that album despite the silly mouse song and I only have the CD which lets face it is just not as satisfying to hold as an album.

As I searched, well in Portland you don’t necessarily have to search as there are so many opportunities to just stumble onto things, I found my copy of Wind and Wuthering and next to it in the rack a copy of A Trick of the Tail. atrickWhy not they go together and it’s a cool album. I looked at the vinyl and it had a significant mark across side one, After 10 minutes at the listening station I decided it was worth the $2 and headed home with my prizes.

Well Wind and Wuthering was excellent. As I played Trick all was going well until the bass pedals in Squonk kicked in and then wow, what happened there? I really started listening. Damn vinyl really can sound better given the right pressing and all those other considerations. The bass pedals boomed, the piano was light and the vocals sounded like they are in the room and no I had not returned to some of my younger pursuits.

Well it is really an enjoyable experience listening to the album and it still sounds good this morning and it’s my third play now. Apparently I don’t have a great pressing according to the Steve Hoffman forums but they don’t have my damaged ears and this album sounds great so they can suck eggs.

The problem I have always had with A Trick of the Tail has been the silly songs about mythical creatures. It all went a little Lewis Carroll here for Genesis. The music and melodies are as usual right there and catchy as ever but the lyrics are a little twee. Although my favorite post Gabriel tracks are on  here with Mad Man Moon and Ripples and Squonk if it had different lyrics would be the equal to Kashmir in power.It’s an album I have always enjoyed since I came home with a copy from Portugal which is now long gone between moves and other things.

The only Genesis left from my old collection is Selling England, The Lamb and Foxtrot. Since getting  a new turntable I seem to be getting more Genesis and it is still fun although sometimes I wish I had all those old albums again. IN fact I often sit here and wish that I had all those albums again.

So on to the blazing Oregon heat this weekend and it seems the rivers have run dry before summer really got going as fire season hits early and the rivers are at late August levels. I did get to visit some of my old vinyl today in my sons collection and that was quite fun.

You don’t need the papers to tell you all the news…

Having progged out for awhile, although as I type A Trick of the Tail is playing. I thought I would hit the fok-rock extravaganza, especially as Rise Up Like the Sun by the Albion Band had just arrived. Then I spotted it, one of the most important folk-rock albums ever recorded and related to Rise Up Like the Sun in that many of the same players are on it.homeservicefolk-alrightjack-lprecord-543220

Alright Jack by the Home Service was one of the more intelligent albums I was listening to in the second half of the eighties and the depression of Thatcher’s Britain. It really as an album made me think and confront my very comfortable existence.

It was a polarizing album in many ways for me and my friends. Deeply political but not apart from in my memory fixed to a time. Their concerts were as much political rallies at the time as musical celebrations. It was however a time when it was almost impossible not to take sides especially as you watched friends arrested in the beanfield at Stonehenge. Tam’s lyric of “there’s a darkness on the land” really seemed true.

The album is a true folk-rock album, passionate fiery and beautiful all at that same time. My friends preferred the Pogues and their punk sensibility that caused at times lines to be drawn. My raucous friends balked at the brass arrangements of English dance tunes but sang along to John Tam’s scathing lyrics.

As I listened tonight to an album that so defined a time for me I was struck at how true the lyrics were still resonating with me. It is also one of the few albums recorded in the 80’s that managed to avoid some of the more intrusive production techniques. It is really difficult to fathom that it was recorded almost 30 years ago.

Don’t know what’s going round in your mind…

Sometimes you look at a record and sleeve and have to wonder what the art department were really thinking. Thirty five years ago I would have walked past this photograph of a young manso far in a lounge suit and mentally filed the album with my mums Tom Jones records. It looks a littel middle of the road, some light balladeering going on with a little bump and grind over-sung soul or rock somewhere on the record is what the cover says.

It is however John Martyn. One of the great songwriter guitarists. His echoplex explorations are stuff of legend, his songs are masterpieces, gentle, aggressive and honest all at the same time. If Al Stewart is the gentle fay minstrel from Scotland then John Martyn was the raw open wound.

It’s a compilation which I usually leave alone but I have not been lucky enough to find any John Martyn in my wanderings. Also when I opened it up the label was for a band called the 20th Century Steel Band with the Martyn songs written on a tag stuck to the original Island label. Weird and a little bothersome, was I going to get home expecting to hear the lush sounds of John Martyn but really hear the exotic sounds of the Carribean.label It was a thrift store so no way to hear the album first or even to get your money back if it all goes wrong, “all sales are final” signs everywhere around the vinyl.

The promise of May You Never, Over the Hill and Solid Air won out. Along with memories of my late teens years as I listened to John Martyn every Saturday in preparation for the excesses of the weekend. Martyn’s ability to live the rock life was legendary and I believed some of this would rub off on me. Others amped themselves up with the Stones or T-Rex, I prepared with Solid Air. Regardless of my thinking around this it at least got me ready for the assault of 80’s music that was about to assault me with brief foray’s into joyous Hair Metal of the period.

It is a great compilation of the early albums on one l.p. It is however a little jarring as I am always expecting the next song on the original album as they are so ingrained in my memory now.

My favourite festival memory is of the Suffolk ‘n’ Goode festival when the afternoon was Bert Jansch, Roy Haper and John Martyn followed by the Strawbs. I have never seen so much songwriting talent on a stage since and may never again. I have to admit much to my shame I never saw the Strawbs that night, it seemed irrelevant after what went before.

I heard fortune shouting…

There are some albums that defy genre’s, Kurt Cobain described it as the best album ever made. It is terrifying at times and achingly beautiful at others. Tortured is a kind description. Horns, guitars and mellotrons, some deft poly-rhythmic drumming and a thunderous bass sound.

The album is so good the band stopped recording for 5 years so that they could figure out what to do next and when they reformed it was a new sound and a new band.

Red by King Crimson is a beast of a record. It is also rare in an affordable manner. So my excitement was unbound when I found a copy, o.k. the cover is ringed and split along the seam and there may be a significant coffee stain.King_Crimson_-_Red I asked the owner what she wanted for it and paid my dollar in incredulous joy. She smiled and thanked me and told me it was not a very good record. I smiled and had to disagree.

The cover always strikes me as very descriptive of the music, John Wetton is beaming, Bruford is serious an scholarly and Fripp looks like he is about to decide to do something drastic which I guess he was.

Red has always been a record you experience much more than listen to. It is a quiet evening in a dark room as the bass rattles your joints and the guitar sears your mind. It is punk and prog, jazz and something else entirely. It is alien music that will terrify you and then remind you why you are alive. It is an emotional experience of highs and lows and fearless music.

The most amazing night of music I ever had was in October of 2014 watching King Crimson perform much of the album in Seattle. Yes the lineup was different, three drummers, two guitars, bass and saxes, what Fripp described as the seven headed beast of Crimson. As the band launched Larks Tongues In Aspic Part 1 you knew a journey was beginning that could only end with Starless one of the most beautiful melodies around. Two hours of magic ensued and I knew it was the right decision to take my kids to this as they may never see such a thing again.


Grey spattered thing…

I really try and resist the temptation to harp on about how cool things are.grey spatterHowever this just looks cool and what makes it better it even sounds cool. I also had no idea what I was buying.

Yesterday the postman dropped it off and when I opened it up I was confronted with a pink vinyl grey spattered version of In The Land of Grey and Pink. I guess I should read that description a little closer. 180g vinyl Klimt records from France and all I was doing was trying to buy the cheapest version I could find and at $24 this was cheaper than anything else I could find.

So it looks cool it sounds good and was cheap. Sounds like a win to me. It has also really awakened in me a new interest in the music of Caravan so the search is on for Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night and If I Could Do It Again I Would Do It All Over You.