Don’t surround yourself with yourself…

It’s Yes it’s supposed to not make sense. Don’t worry about the lyrics just dig the music man.

What do you mean you don’t get it? It’s yes.

How many times had I heard that and other statements as Galvin switched to the next Yes album in his hazy bedroom.

His greatest argument was based around the Yessongs triple album and how great it was, listen to the bass man he would mumble as the wah wah peddle hit.

As if that made any difference. In 1973 Genesis released a live document of the band at that time, it was one album that missed off the long song that was central to their show. Yes likewise released a live document of the band that was three albums and included pretty much everything you might see them do live and things you hoped they would not.shows

This did mot make any sense to me as I was a fan of the batwing headdress Gabriel led band while Galvin was enamored of the odd lyrics and capes of Yes. I was a fan of the melody and precision of Genesis while he reveled in the excesses of Yes.

fishThen one afternoon as I gazed at the little girl sat on the strange mushroom shaped rock confronting the fish spaceship it all made sense. They had surrounded themselves with themselves and it was good.

Not to mention.

It’s Yes man!

Gettin’ stoned…

Rooting around on other peoples blogs can cause problematic behavior.

Is just such a post, first of all it got me thinking about my visit to the Rollright Stones. Which involved satellite navigation, not working,  getting lost and then asking a wizened old local the way. Travelling in ever decreasing circles prior to this, through a housing development past school kids and mothers pushing their children in strollers. Until we ended up in a layby parking behind a salesman sleeping in his Taurus.

At the time there were four of us jammed into my Dads Nissan Micra and none of us were small men. 20130807-072557.jpgIt was my sons return to the homeland with his brother, we picked up my friend Paul and thought a tour of stone circles and other fun sites would be a good thing to do. Avebury, Silbury Hill, Stonehenge, one of the many white horses and Glastonbury ensued. The Rollright stones were really an after thought and to this day I have no idea what dragged it into my or Paul’s mind other than the Half Man Half Biscuit lyric from Twenty Four Hour Garage People:

‘I fancy I’ll open a stationer’s,
Stock quaint notepads for weekend pagans20130807-072618.jpg
While you were out at the Rollright Stones
I came and set fire to your shed.’

Paul is a big fan and this could be the source of the journey.20130807-072605.jpg The highlight of the journey was the strange pagan creation that waited for us across the street with the Kings Stone. In my confusion I may have forgotten to take a picture of the stone. But here is the strange collection of sticks and wood creating the sculpture.

This all ends up with me buying another record as always, I am not the biggest traffic fan although late at night they really do hit the mark. stonedI have never heard Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory but suddenly browsing the racks at a record store there it was in all it’s die cut glory and that blog post was in my mind so why not I thought.

Why did they die cut these albums? It makes little sense to me and creates a problem if you have to replace the inner sleeve.

Anyway it is a fine album to my mind Roll Right Stones and (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired are the highlights for me, the former because of that journey with my boys that Bruce’s blog post had reawakened. The latter because after 10 days working straight it fully encapsulated how I felt today, although it was a beautiful sunny day with a blood moon that I could not capture with a camera.

I am going to end this with my favorite sight from that journey with the boys. That is the view of Silbury Hill from the burial mound across the road. There is something to my mind magical of the view across wheat fields to a large man made hill. Even though you can see the road it feels like you are in another time.



You know I’d go back there tomorrow…

There are artists you are supposed to listen to, at least that is what you think in your teen years. That is why I began to try and listen to Joni Mitchell.

Rummaging through the library stacks of vinyl I remember grabbing Animals and Saucerful of Secrets by Floyd and then on the way out of the door Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell.joni

She hung out with Neil Young and Crosby was my thinking she must rock. She wrote Woodstock which had guitars and rocked and Mathews Southern Comfort covered it and they had an ex-Fairport member so were cool. This was the logic my teen mind was working with.

Sitting down after Animals I took a deep breath and placed the record on the turn table and waited. Well there were guitars that was true but they made vaguely odd sounds, there were multi-tracked female vocals and what sounded like a chamber orchestra at times. There was also what sounded like jazz. It just didn’t meet my need to rock, this was a woman who felt too much it seemed to my younger self and that was terrifying.

One song stuck with me though. Free Man In Paris, it was a song that I carried with me for a long time because it really caught that need to not have responsibility. I am sure my attachment is largely because I found myself mumbling it that Spring as I walked along the banks of the Seine on some school trip. In my mind I missed the bus back to the hotel and lived in Paris as an artist or poet with my sultry beautiful patron smiling as I poured my soul onto the page for her. We would live on red wine and gauloises and of course love. As you can see the teen me was something of a romantic.

In reality I got back on the bus, but on warm lazy nights I still wonder what would have happened if I had just not got back on that bus.

Later I got a copy of Hejia with it’s crazy bass sound thanks to Jaco Pastorius and it’s songs of America and travel and really fell in love with Joni and her music working my way backward and forward through her records.

Ha ha charade you are…

I always liked that doggy howling way on the Animals

I have always found Animals to have more in common with the early Floyd albums than it’t two predecessors and I often sit and wonder what it would have been like if they had all kept on with this direction instead of the Wall.

It’s late and I don’t have much to say apart from this was my first Floyd album and every time I hear it I am taken back to my 13 yr old self hunched animalsover the speakers with the lights off listening intently to every note. I borrowed it from the library, made  a tape and played it to death. Until today I have never owned a copy. It is in fine shape for an album that is almost 40 years old.

Last time in London my two sons and myself spent some time looking at Battersea Power Station. For a moment the whole moment took on the feeling of a pilgrimage and then collectively we shook ourselves and smiled. A couple of weeks ago my middle son texted me the link to the sale for the pig and for a moment I thought if I had enough money that is the one piece of memorabilia I would want. Then I heard it was being offered to the band and spent my $15 on the album instead.

Five classic songs with no filler, more guitar than any other Floyd album and the best response by the old guard to punk at the time and much more vital than the Wall.

Oh mother don’t do it again…

Some jokes/albums you just get the very first time and sometimes they are the same thing the joke and the album. I have loved Camembert Electrique since the first time I heard it.

I was on the fence about Gong after Angels Egg and The Flying Teapot album but the cheese factor took me over the edge. It is lunatic brilliance and a strange jazz anarcho hippy dippy wacky love fest in two sides of inspired stupidity. cheeseDynamite, I Am Your Animal may have been the scariest thing I ever heard one odd Saturday afternoon and may have caused me to hide my head under a pillow for at least three of it’s four and a half minutes. Only Fohat Digs Holes In Space and Tried So Hard could calm me eventually once I made it to side 2.

Yes it predates the famous trilogy and has more in common with Floating Anarchy than the cuteness of Flying Teapot’s and Pixies and Hillage’s sophisticated guitar. Punk jazz as Galvin said in his weird whisper, come listen to this.

In 1974 you could have bought it for 59p and may have felt ripped off. So for the 6th time  I went out on a safe limb and bought Camembert Electrique again. I think this is now three L.P.’s a cassette and two C.D.’s and this is the first time it was new and has the word audiophile on it which I think is ironic. The only common denominator is that it has never failed to amuse, bemuse and keep me enthralled. The downside is it drove my wife from the room muttering and shaking her head.

You have to love an album with an infinite loop at the end of each side.

Come words of wisdom from the world outside…

I have never really taken the time to examine my thoughts about Joe Jackson. His album Body and Soul was in all the cool kids dorm rooms when I was at college, I am not convinced that any of the cool kids really listened though. It was probably there as a conversation piece.body It usually nestled among the Billy Bragg and Pogues albums so people were aware that not only were they hip, had a political conscience but they could party with the best. Somewhere if you dug deep enough you would find a Michael Jackson album and Phil Collins which they played on low volume late at night. And there you have it my pretentious judgement of my fellow students out for all to see.

My room on the other hand had many a Roger dean poster, several Genesis and Pink Floyd records and a copy of Europe 72 by the Dead. Also strewn around was my Hawkwind, Gong and Motorhead albums to prove I was edgy and went to all the best free festivals. There was also Roxy Music to prove I could be simultaneously edgy and groove with the best and The Waterboys and Icicle Works to prove I was aware of contemporary bands. Tucked in a dim corner was the Dire Straits and Al Stewart with the dreadfully uncool Uriah Heep and Jethro Tull albums that I played late at night. And there you have it my confession of how shallow I was at 18.

I own Body and Soul and have always sort of enjoyed it’s smoky Latin/jazz feel but at the end of the day it has never really stayed with me forgotten as soon as I lifted the needle. sharpSo the other day I went out on a limb and bought Look Sharp (it looked a little out of place with the George Benson albums as well) thinking it would be more of the same, however it has more in common with Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and Nick Lowe than Frank Sinatra and for some reason the album cover won an award. It has the great single of Is She Really Going Out With Him which I am sure every male of a certain generation can fully relate to with ease.

The album is filled with spiky insightful songs and probably really does as Jackson say reek of London 1978-79. lookI am totally confused as to how that cover won an award when there where so many better record covers of the time. Sunday Papers on this album is as relevant today as when it was written I am sure with it’s biting lyrics and assessment of journalists of a certain kind.

It is more of a pub rock album than I expected and if I had heard it first I may have had a different opinion of Joe Jackson. Just goes to show that my much older self is still influenced by the preconceptions of my younger more self-righteous self. Maybe with this new insight I can go forward with fresh ears to all those other bands I at times dismissed.

My wife says I am still self-righteous so some things don’t change I guess.

I’ve been awake too long and I’m wondering why…

My friend Andy when I wanted to go all Prog copewould make me listen to this and World Shut Your Mouth.

It’s maybe not the best Julian Cope album ever but it is a whole lot of fun. The tour featured Cope swinging from a mic stand he could climb up on and swing around on like some crazed rock’n’roll monkey.

Soon after this and My Nation Underground Cope stopped even pretending to want to have hit’s and in true rock maverick sense headed for the gutter coming out the other side the arch-drude and with some of his greatest albums ahead of him as well as academic success.

If you want to hear a great power punk/pop record with a sense of humor this is the one, especially Eve’s Volcano and Spacehopper. It is not Cope’s favorite but it does have some great moments and it was always good to bounce around to on a Saturday night and may have saved me from some serious Prog Rock excesses.

131Right now I am reading his novel One Three One, subtitled “A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel”, which is requiring way more attention than I really thought it would keeping all the various time streams in place never mind understanding what is going on.

It is an entertaining read though and strangely draws you in with the thought how much of this is really based on reality?

Feel a bit roughed, feel a bit frightened…

I always balked at the thought of Lodger by Bowie. The difficult third album of the Berlin trilogy and yet it was recorded in Montreux and mixed in New York so how is it part of the Berlin trilogy. It’s really the last of the directly Eno influenced albums. It does however have some of the same feel as it’s more acceptable brethren.

At some point though it is kind of like only knowing part of the story to not listen to it. You will never know the end, 26 years after it’s recording it has also like many difficult albums been redefined as a lost classic. lodgerIt’s Bowie though so there has to be something in there interesting and there is.

Lodger took me by surprise, it is more song based than either Low or Heroes with no instrumental sections, it is also a little schizophrenic at times.The story goes Eno and Bowie were tense during the recording and maybe it is like the end of a relationship, things  can get weird but things can still be really good, sometimes passionate and other times cold.

I have lived with Low and Heroes to the point they play themselves in my head at times, I find myself humming along to music nobody else can hear and it may be Sound and Vision or V-2 Schneider. I think that the solos in Boys Keep Swinging may have got into my head in the same way.

It was the last album of the 70’s for Bowie and it is a messed up enough  album to really draw an end to a decade that was so frenetic for him.