That’s why we don’t wanna be good..

From the wasteland, two of Neil Young’s lost albums, one deserving of some attention and one that may be hard to forget.

Landing On Water is generally derided as Neil’s worst moment. It is a difficult waterlisten and I don’t think this album will ever be a fond memory of the 80’s. It is so different to other Neil Young albums the drums are in your face and it has an 80’s sound that is hard to reconcile with the Laurel Canyon sound or even the eclectic dodging he had engaged in with the previous three albums on Geffen of Trans, Old Ways and The Shocking Pinks album. It is however almost a precursor of Freedom, especially on tracks like Hippie Dream which along with Thrasher is his best comment on the 60’s flower child rot. It’s not something I want to listen to all the way through again though.

lifeI followed this up with Life, which is a better and easier listen. This was also the album that was out the first time I went to see Mr. Young and Crazy Horse. I had however never heard it. We all drove down to the Birmingham NEC in the back of a white Ford Transit van with no seats. Eight 19 yr olds rolling around in the back of an old van being driven at break neck speeds as we were concerned we would be late could be considered a recipe for disaster or the beginning of a really bad road movie.

You can find the setlist and download the show here if it is still there: am-england-6-2-87.html

I remember it being a great show, how could it be bad that began with Mr. Soul as the starter. Lesley was convinced she new all the songs lyrics, even the new ones we had never heard. Dave was glassy eyed for some reason, Andy had only heard the Roxy Music version of Like A Hurricane and we may have lied to him about how it would be but he was the only person we new who could drive. I have no real memory of the other people in the van, I think we added them for petrol money and help with renting the van. I have no memory of getting home from the show, which is a little concerning.

Back to Life, it’s a fine album with some still relevant songs. It is a more traditional Neil Young album than Landing on Water and does contain the essential Prisoner’s of Rock’n’Roll and Long Walk Home. It was apparently recorded live with the audience removed which may account for it sounding more comforting then Landing on Water.

So move along, get along, Move along, get along, Go! Move! Shift!

I’ve been talking about moving house for awhile so here is a little of the story without the self pity. I really enjoy moving house as it is a time to downsize the stuff you don’t need and concentrate on something important. In my case that is the people I love. This move should simplify a lot of things and allow us to concentrate on what is important.

This move is almost over, this is our 16th and some level our saddest. We had been in this house for 10 difficult years apparently, bought just as the markets all collapsed and the plan to refinance never made it to reality. Bad loan, thanks to a friend,  great house as I keep thinking.

This year we gave up and decided to take the short sale, this has involved us systematically destroying our credit which has been somewhat liberating and terrifying at the same time. dylan Our kids got to squat for three months which reminded me of my younger years and gave me a rosy glow at least as I caused mayhem for the home owners association  by paying my dues so they could swim in the pool and not be hassled by the self-righteous members.

Hopefully by Friday it will be all over and we can move on. I also hope that Chris comes to get his stuff as he has been moving into an apartment as we moved towards the end of this process. If he doesn’t make it I guess there is a pile of instrumentsinstruments waiting to be collected.

As you can see we concentrated on musical taste not financial security with our children. This has caused them to be a lot of fun to be around, incredibly responsible were work is concerned but a little flaky in other areas of life that some feel important like buying food rather than instruments or music.

Chris left with five boxes of records, many instruments and one box of clothes and another of other personal possessions, of course he does seem to have forgotten some stuff. Tom only had one box of records but five guitars and three amps which are filling up our spare room right now as he figures out what to do and where to go.

Anyhow it is all over apart from the signing so things are looking rosy right now, the cats are happy and the dog content so there you have it.

Who are the ones who would lead us now…

And then there is Gordon Lightfoot. Ignore the wide open shirts and the lascivious grin. Inside this album lies great songwriting and wonderful sentiments.

Also after watching some of the news it’s a good question he asks.

There are some records that seem to always be on someones garage sale table. Everyone and their aunt was buying Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond in the 70’s it seems. Gordon seemed more palatable than Neil Diamond this evening and the songs really are something special in that gentle 70’s songwriter manner. I need a copy of Canadian Railroad Trilogy.

Death by reputation…

I have several Leo Kotke albums and they are some of my favorite late night listening moments.

kotkeI have never seen him live but will do eventually if I am lucky. His legendary monologues are something I would like to hear. His sleeve notes are a lot of fun although this eponymous album has none, or at least none that came with the copy I have. I have another album that’s sleeve notes cover ice fishing, frostbite and nuns so I feel like I am missing something.

It’s a pleasant listen with engaging finger picked guitars and some sweet Jack Nitzsche orchestral additions that work nebraskasurprisingly well over Kotke’s slide guitar. I have always really liked the sound of a twelve string played with a slide and Kotke is the master of this.

So after a hectic and fraught week during which the listening has centered mostly around Springsteen’s harrowing Nebraska album this effort by Kotke, the first on the Chrysalis label managed to get my head back in gear. Ready to make the last push to finish moving my house and my kids.

Just relaxed and paying attention…

I only ever have felt the need for one Byrds album.  It is the Byrds Greatest Hits, originally released in 1967. It is compiled from the first four albums and is the perfect distillation of those albums. Yes there are deeper tracks and cosmic voyages waiting to happen on the albums as Crosby may say, but for sheer joy Greatest Hits has it.

This is why I am so happy this evening as I came home with a great copy. I was driving past the thrift store promising myself I would drive by but then mysteriously found myself parking and going in and then seeing this on the shelf. turn turn turnThere I was hoping for no scratches or scuffs or I would have a nice cover for the wall. It is in excellent condition and plays through wonderfully.

So why this Byrds album, a compilation that has only 11 tracks from 4 albums, no Chestnut Mare, Ballad of Easy Rider or other great tracks?

It lies in the associations that go along with it for me. Sitting on the floor of a bedsit in ’85 with a cassette copy listening to those chiming guitars and harmonies and realizing that maybe every band with a guitar in Liverpool at the time had based their sound on this one album.  Later on we figured out the American’s all had it playing too from R.E.M to Petty. It must be one of the most influential albums of all time. We listened to every word and decided that what the world needed was more tinted glasses furry hats and bizarre facial hair.

This has been a constant in my life like After the Goldrush by Neil Young or Harper’s Stormcock. It has accompanied me through heartaches and joy. When my sons came home after being  born we played and sang Rock’n’Roll Star to them, because that is what they are.

We spent hours arguing about so much crap listening to this album before going out to raise hell. We once thought we understood what Eight Miles High was really about and then forgot, who knows that may have been a truly illuminating idea we lost that night. When someone declared they were relaxed and paying attention we knew it was time to go home regardless of how much we thought we knew better.

So tonight as I listened I had a real rush of nostalgia. So I sat down and emailed some friends and told my children they are rock stars and somehow those guitars and harmonies made the night so much more cheerful.

I scoff multifarious breakfasts with a sneer…

Well I missed breakfast.

It’s Sunday and today’s soundtrack was the wonderful Banana Moon album that only makes sense on certain Sundays when you have driven for six hours with no music and only one cup of coffee and then are sitting at the end of the day wondering if you should go to bed.moon But then take a look around and find that the 22 year old who just moved home, “just for awhile to get my head together.” has found something wonderful. I guess I did some things right as a Dad.

In all honesty this is the album that came home the other day with me but missed out on the picture for some reason. It sat leaning against the other records in a pile of fun waiting to happen, or until someone discovered it and placed it on the turntable thereby allowing the fun to happen.

This is one of the most confusing, chARLYenjoyable, strange, fun weird and wacky albums you will ever take the time to listen to. It’s a sort of Gong/Soft Machine/Ayers experience. It is also always a good thing when the record label makes you smile as well.

Almost impossible to explain, psychedelic, poppy and out there in a laid back gentle way. I really have no idea how to explain this album apart from it makes me smile.

It’s exhausting living here…


Too much to cope with for a cat.

This weeks playlist included;

Trespass – Genesis

A Saucerful of Secrets – Pink Floyd

Blind – The Icicle Works

The Raven That Refused to Sing – Steven Wilson

The Final Cut – Pink Floyd

Comes A Time, Harvest, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Live Rust, Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young

Aja, Pretzel Logic – Steely Dan

Until In Excess Imperceptible UFO – The Besnard Lakes

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Fragile- Yes

Tales From Topographic Oceans ( I may finally be getting this) – Yes

Darkness at the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen.

The Crane Wife – The Decemberists

I’ve gone through all my rings and assorted gold things But there will always be something missing…

I have always been a sucker for album titles. So when I read the title Until In Excess Imperceptible UFO by the Besnard Lakes,  I was unable to resist. The cover also grabbed me immediately.

I have no idea where they found this or whether it was commissioned but I have always enjoyed seascapes that seem to draw you in with the power and ferocity of the ocean and the sky, excessthis of course is not the sea but a grassland that moves and shifts like ocean swells. Those Canadian Prairies have had an impact on them it seems.

It is also a good representation of the music, Shifting, changing at times almost imperceptible but with a relentless dynamic quality that can be overpowering. Which is the long way of saying this will sweep you up, toss you about and leave you exhausted. The sound is somewhere around the Beach Boys playing Pink Floyd after they spent the night listening to the Cocteau Twins playing Brian Eno’s greatest hits.

I enjoy albums you have to listen to all the way through every time. This is one of those, when you sit down to listen get ready to spend the next 50 minutes in the company of the Besnard Lakes.

The final track Alamogordo takes everything you have heard throughout the album and wraps it up in 7 minutes of crashing drums, swelling synths and guitars to leave you exhausted and then three minutes of calming synth swell to get back to normalcy.