I’m floating away…

There was only really one album I was never to play when my parents where home when I was growing up. The mere sight of it would cause immediate fear for my parents. They really could never appreciate Doremi Fasol Latido by Hawkwind. If they heard a second of it my parents would immediately be convinced that I was going to turn into a long haired drooling Morlocks from the Time Machine:

I am convinced that one of the main reasons for this belief was the subsonic rumbling that Lemmy’s bass created throughout the album. It could be a truly terrifying sound when matched with DikMik and Del Dettmar’s synth assault and Brock’s mechanical riffing and the doremithunderous drumming of Simon King but I really truly believe it was the bass that was their undoing. The bass in Lord of light would cause screaming up the stairs at a volume that was quite astounding. I never tried to play any of those early Hawkwind albums when they were home after the reception this one got.

It seemed that everything about Lemmy was deliberately thought out to make parents and other authority figure run in horror, he was however apparently according to those who have met him a truly nice person. The dialectic in action. He seemed to simultaneoulsy repel and attract in equal measures.

His albums with Hawkwind, and Motorhead were responsible for much of my late teen listening. I saw Motorhead a few times and each time it was a physical experience that left me drained and bruised and a little amnesiac. Some times we would even venture to that strange land of Manchester to see them again, and then the festivals as well. It is one of my greatest regrets that I never saw him with Hawkwind, but I really got into going to gigs a little too late for that.

So this afternoon when everyone went out I dragged out the grey vinyl copy and played it loud, very loud and had a think. Next time my parents come to visit I may just get it out again to see what may happen.

It’s a quieter and not necessarily a better world without him.

Past the willows or an illusion, Lord, tell me the reason why…

Two days after Christmas and the last of the celebrating just ended. Gifts exchanged and hugs given, games played and meatballs consumed. Now that all the kids want is money there is not so much random cardboard detritus to deal with as there used to be.

Excess can only justifiably be celebrated with Big Brother and the Holding cheapCompany’s Cheap Thrills, the prototype with Janis of so many of Robert Plant’s more histrionic vocal moments. Sam Andrew may have had one of the dirtiest guitar sounds around at the time, linked with Joplin’s voice it is incendiary and who doesn’t love an R. Crumb cartoon.

The whole thing also complements the lava lamp with a nice period ambiance, all I need are silk scarves and incense burners and I may be taking the great leap backwards.

It’s been a relatively quiet Christmas. Two out of three kids have been working throughout the holiday. Yesterday we went looking for ski pants for my wife so she can throw herself down a snowy mountain in some relative comfort. This search will continue tomorrow. Relatively mundane and not as exciting as some of the others I have been reading about.

Maybe you don’t understand it…

It’s the first day of a vacation and here I am sat while my wife sleeps listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I’m feeling about now I should have a glass of bourbon in my hand or maybe a single malt, I also should have some deep reflective thoughts about the music. All of those things may be possible later but right now I am just enjoying the fact I don’t have to get up tomorrow. It’s also pretty early in the evening.

I have only ever owned CCR’s greatest hits in one form or another, this afternoon I found Bayou Country and Cosmo’s Factory while I waited for them to call me and tell me the Jeep was ready. The thrift store was within walking distance and why not just risk life and limb crossing the crazy street just on the off chance that there may be something there. 10 albums later I payed the mechanic and drove off.snow The records were considerably less cost than the car repair and potentially more entertaining. Although the vehicle can be pretty entertaining.

The last time I really sat and listened to a whole Creedence album  was at Daves flat one Sunday afternoon when he tried to convince me they may be the greatest rock band in the world. Whatever his passion at the time was generally the greatest. We were attempting to stay awake to watch the Superbowl that was supposed to be being televised that year. Our answer to this was to drink American beer and bourbon and play music loudly.

ccrDave declared that it should all be American music which resulted in everything from Moby Grape to Frank Zappa via the Dead and the Airplane. There was a middle period in the afternoon when the first five Creedence albums were played in order as this 6ft 4inch bearded whisky breathed enthusiast pirouetted and declared their greatness. Luckily they are quite short albums however great they may be. At one point Dave whispered that he wished Dylan had co-opted Creedence rather than the Band as he thought that would have intimidated the English audiences and they would not have declared him Judas. None of it made sense and yet it was all so sensible.

I have no idea if we saw the Superbowl. I do remember rolling around Sefton park in the rain and laughing a lot though and the sound of John Fogerty’s guitar always puts a vague taste of bourbon in my mouth and makes me smile, go figure.

And I got involved in madman spaceship races…


The first time I saw Iain Matthews was in a small upstairs room in a pub in Brighton in the late 80’s. On the way up the stairs to that dingy room I met  a man who claimed to have the most tenuous of connections to the singer. All I knew of Matthews was his work with Fairport Convention that spanned 2.5 albums and Woodstock by Matthews Southern Comfort.

On entry into the venue I was a little dismayed at the state of things. Spilled beer and empty crisp packets were the order of the day and a stage at one end with a brightly lit bar at the other. I picked my way to a table and sat down with my new friend. A pleasant man joined us for a few moment to say hi and shake hands. He then climbed onto the stage plugged a guitar in and along with another guitarist who to this day I have no memory of his name managed to hold the small audience in the palm of his hand. I have never been able to meet Iain again but if I did I would thank him for one of the concerts in my life that actually changed the way I listen to music.

The problem with recognizing Iain Matthews is that he may very well be the Dorian Grey of music, he then looked about the same as he did in 1967 on the back of the first Fairport Convention album, and the last time I saw him in 2007 he looked about the same still.

What I heard that night went on to direct most of my listening for a good while ifafter. That night I discovered John Prine, Jesse Winchester and Townes Van Zandt, as well as rehearing many others such as Peter Gabriel, John Martyn and Richard Thompson. It was a concert of favorites and unknowns played with integrity and passion by one of the great lost voices of English music. He is also a damn fine songwriter in his own stead.

After the show the next day I bought a used cassette copy of If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes. It is one of those albums that could be considered perfect in many ways. It is strangely American album for being recorded by an Englishman. From the first notes of Desert Inn to the closing heartfelt prayerful notes of the title track there is nothing out of place on this album. Richard Thompson is heard throughout on guitar and Sandy Denny duets and plays piano on  the soulful final track. It may be the best album that has been recorded by an ex-Fairporter as a whole album. and yes I include Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny in that statement.

Yes Iain Matthews went on to record many other fine albums and even though he tried to retire continues to release beautiful albums to this day but he has never again reached the pinnacle of this first solo album.

They say there’s life up there in the galaxy…

My favorite dystopia, the one you read about or the one you live in?

The question resonates as you watch T.V. check out social media or watch the debate. Friends and family revealing their latent racism and hatred for their fellow man while they lament the lack of Christ in Christmas.

This evening after being assaulted or insulted intellectually, spiritually and my basic humanity questioned I gave up and retreated to the world view of Bob Calvert and the Hawklords. This is not necessarily a safe place as the Flying Doctor reaches for the drug cabinet key and Icarus plummets to his fate.power

The Hawklords album has been a favorite of mine since the first time I heard it. It’s managed to age well over the years in my opinion, it’s slightly more punk approach to the usual Hawkwind assault on the senses results in shorter more direct songs without the wonderful whoosh of early Hawkwind. This is not necessarily a good thing as a good whoosh is called for at times especially when focusing on the approaching dystopia.

psiIt’s on the famous Charisma label as well which always makes me smile with the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter.

After almost 40 minutes of the Brock signature guitar riffing (often strangely enough on an acoustic guitar) and the blurred future predictions of society from Mr. Calvert society almost looks normal. As long as you avoid CNN and realize it is good for us as a society to be the laughing stock of the other nations. If we are not we may start thinking we have some answers.

Just don’t let them know you can see what they’re thinking.

I’ve got your number, is it still the same?

Live/Road albums are a mixed bag. The new collection of songs released as live album is often pretty dangerous, see Richard Thompson’s Dream Attic for a emptydisappointing example.

Jackson Browne’s  Running on Empty however is an example of how it should be done. Of course a band with Leland Sklar, David Lindley and  Russ Kunkel on drums would have to work hard to fail.

So I am sitting here listening to it and really enjoying it. Recorded on stage, in motel rooms and on the tour bus the album lopes along nicely. Like most Jackson Browne albums it is full of engaging songs that rock along pleasantly. He is not however the edgiest of songwriters, more like a warm blanket to wrap yourself in than anything else.

It has however been a good week for Jackson Browne albums with The Pretender and For Everyman coming home with me this week as well as Running On Empty so it should be a good weekend for some pleasant if less than challenging moments.


Remember the boy who you left on the mountain…

I have always struggled with the Grateful Dead. Alternating between brilliance and abject boredom for me they have never made sense as America’s band as they seem to have become lauded. I always thought of them more as a bunch of stoners done good, the musical equivalent of Tommy Chong.

For hours friends have attempted to convert me to the Dead. I saw the show, met the fans and ran away in fright. I even put up with the Phil Lesh band once just so as I could get to see Dylan. Dylan was on form, Phil Lesh just solidified my opinion of all things Dead, that you have to fucked up to fully get the show and that is not a place I have ever had much luck getting to.

There are however two exceptions to my Dead rule though. One is the Dead’s output ridersin 1972, it is fun and engaging and the best the band ever sounded. Yes there are exceptions but nothing a really great self created compilation wouldn’t help you out with. The other is New Riders of the Purple Sage.

A band that started out as a side project but grew to be a fun filled country rock power house(over exaggeration apparent there) Anyway a lot more fun than the self reverential Dead in 1969 the first New Riders album is a great show case for the exquisite songwriting of John Dawson and Jerry Garcia’s first foray into Pedal Steel territory.

Picked up at the expense of Mr Dejected and definitely one of the best finds this week. This was the album Dave managed to use to convince me that there was hope for the Dead and there offshoots. Dave would literally buy everything that had a member of the Dead or the Airplane on it. This would often lead to some terrible late afternoon listening sessions as we waited for the pub to open. In this case however it led us back to the record store to look for more New Riders. It contained all the twang of Clarence White Byrds with that laid back almost comatose feel of the Dead, it also has Lost Lonely Eagle which may be one of the best songs written.

nashTonight was also the night for Graham Nash’s album Wild Tales. The album cover is a little unsettling, maybe reminiscent of the state you need to be in in order to fully appreciate a Dead show. Or maybe it is just a reflection of Nash’s state of mind.

I had always heard that this was not as good as Songs for Beginners which is not true at all. It is darker but the songwriting stands up. He has always been the poppier songwriter among the law-firm of CSNY. Maybe it is Mancunian roots that make him want to just write a catchy song.

Mark the precise nature of your fear…

Sometimes things just happen for no other reason than you made the right turn. After dropping number 1. son off to fill in his paperwork for his new job I decided to stop off at that enticing looking thrift store.

After rooting around for a few minutes in the records I realized this was the remnants of somebodies record collection, you don’t often find that any more. I picked through grabbing some Tull, The Who and about 8 other albums. As I checked out my haul for scratches scuffs and other problems another person sidled over to the records with a look of dejection, “you got the? oh and the?”

Smugly I grabbed my records and headed for the checkout and spent my $10 and realized that I could stop trying to decide if I should by that copy of Thick as a Brick now as it was in the haul. I then also realized that in some weird way crate digging is a really competitive sport as I watched Mr. Dejected digging through the stacks and knowing there was very little there beyond the usual Cat Stevens and almost every Elton John album from the 80’s.brick

So after cleaning them all up it was time to sit down with Thick As A Brick and it is as much over the top fun as it ever was complete with the folding out newspaper with all sorts of double entendre’s and schoolboy humour. My wife complained about the noise and kids retreated to their computers and I was somewhat satisfied that in my advancing years I can still annoy everyone within earshot with my questionable taste.