Reckon luck sees us the same…

“Dude it’s all about volume, seriously man listen to how loud that shit is.”

img_6101Wise words indeed as the bottle of Jameson’s reached the sorry end and we had to switch to Carlsberg lager in plastic 2 liter bottles, always the sad end to the night, this time however we were on the fourth listening to Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock by Talk Talk.

The lights were off an all we had was the rising lights of the graphic equalizer on the stereo, we were playing it so quietly that you had to strain to hear but I swear it was the loudest thing I had ever heard. Repetitive, relentless, gripping and yes so pretentious and honest. Prior to these albums I had written off Talk Talk as pop pap, a New Romantic dance band and then Mark Hollis hits you with this stuff that is so heavy, so dense it never sounds the same twice and then he just about disappears into the aether.

“Man the harmonica, listen to it wail.”

And here I am at the tail end of the year, figuring it out and playing those two albums img_6102again. I can almost smell that room with the incense, spilled whiskey and beer and cigarettes as we annoyed the neighbors and fought our way through those two albums. For almost two weeks we sat enraptured by the noise, the sheer physicality of those two fragile albums , we angered our room mates who prayed for the return of the Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd, hoped for something with a discernible melody and a hook and a less than relentless beat, something less physically demanding to listen to. I looked up and there he was staring out the window as the sun rose over Sefton Park and we realized that the only answer may be a walk and feed the ducks and maybe a stroll through the palm house, then a greasy breakfast and try get your head on straight.

The next night we played Miles and Coltrane and smiled. The madness had moved on maybe.

It has  been something like 20 years since I owned either of these albums in any format but there they were in the record store this afternoon. Sitting there on the rack those sleeves so mysterious and familiar. I remembered that physical experience of listening to them and new they were coming home with me. Immediately they caused consternation in the household, it’s unfamiliar, strange and yet engaging, there were grimaces and then I realized they had to be played late and quietly to truly understand the volume.

Maybe next week I can take a stroll through the park and get my head on straight who knows.

 

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So many things I would have done But clouds got in my way…

Maybe it’s time for one of those round up posts, or not.

Christmas is behind us and all that brought. I am anticipating a fun filled couple of days with the family and then maybe off to the high desert for New Years. I really need to get some hiking boots though to thoroughly enjoy that experience.

It’s been a pretty strange year. A year of reflection and consideration, that began with a rush back to the UK to deal with illness, then a return over the Summer to continue with that as well as having a vacation of sorts. In two weeks I head back to see my parents and hopefully keep getting things organized for them.

I’ve bought a lot of music this year, mostly used albums from various sources, mainly thrift stores, then every now and then I think of something I really need and suddenly I am online looking for bargains, they can still be found occasionally. I also realized that I had a real affection for the music I seemed to despise when I was a teenager as well as a continued love for some of the old favorites. I realized how many records I had discarded over the years and had to find again and also how many records had been lost because of generosity or the end of a relationship.

15698257_10209936042751580_8384825806606636043_n-2This last year I rambled through my sonic memories, blasting out Hawkwind and Pentangle on the same day, relaxing with Leo Kotke and getting angry with Harper. I failed to enjoy a Steve Hackett show too many phone calls not the music,  and never went to the Field Music gig I had so looked forward to because I had to get on a plane all in the same two days. Maybe this trip I’ll get to find some records especially those Julian Cope records that have been on my mind this week. I may also get the chance to catch up with some people other than my parents in Liverpool this time.  I did however find my favorite Cope album with World Shut Your Mouth, a record that saved me from an interminable week of Bruce Springsteen and Queen one summer.

To round the year off me and my son just bought Cropredy tickets. This has been my 15726798_10209909453526866_5475464668825045969_nchildren’s graduation gift for many years and this is the last one to graduate, the bands 50th anniversary and also my friends 50th birthday. This will all be celebrated if it all works out in a field In Oxfordshire this August. Then I get all sentimental about my relationship to Fairport Convention and the fact I have been attending Cropredy since 1982 and I believe this may very well be the last, it looks the right one to end on as well.

I think that next year may well be overshadowed musically by that strange anomaly that is Fairport Convention for me in many ways. Over the last few weeks I have been drawn to their music, that may very well be because I just bought tickets for Cropredy and a nostalgia that is definitely rose tinted. I have also pretty much decided this will be my last visit to that field. Of course I made the same statement in 1992 when I staggered back to my tent knowing I was leaving for the USA pretty soon, then I found myself back in ’97 and occasionally throughout the years, money and time allowing. I found a copy of Moat on The Ledge from the ’81 show when it was still considered a reunion stuffed in the back of a wardrobe. This record caused me much grief when I bought it in Probe records all those years ago, not hip enough probably.

Well who really knows what will happen next, I know I have found it hard to sit and write recently, not much to really say. I had to force myself to sit down for this. For my own sanity more than anything. I get back to the USA right before the inauguration so we will see what they brings. It is exciting concerning times indeed.

 

Year of the Dead, well thats it or the other one…

Things have been a little quiet around here. I seem to have not really been able to get my act together enough to write a coherent sentence that was positive. So on the drive this evening as I finally got finished with the three day snow experience that managed to paralyze Portland Oregon but was just a lot of fun to work in I figured out how to end this Year of the Dead for me.

No I never managed to play all the Dick’s Picks albums, or even all of the studio albums. I never managed to go see any of the Dead live although several elements past through town or are appearing soon. I never managed to deepen my appreciation for the 80’s on in any meaningful way. I did however manage to confirm for myself that the albums I really like, I really do like. Also that I can manage to enjoy just about any show recorded from the late 60’s to about 78 and that Donna Jean may be a great singer but she can almost certainly manage to ruin just about any rendition of Playing In The Band she appears on.

img_5987So as I struggled through the frozen landscape of Clackamas County I figured the best panacea was some warm weather music from the Dead. It’s a strange timeless experience traveling on frozen deserted roads, fog rolling across the highway as you struggle up hills and around corners. The best bit about the side roads is that people tend to avoid them, preferring the highly polished major arteries. That are populated by insane people driving all wheel drive nightmares far too fast. Slow and steady is not the by-word for the majority of drivers. Of course the lazy rhythms of the Dead can manage to keep you alive in these circumstances.

As I was working and driving I figured that the best choice was Workingman’s Dead.  Itimg_6041‘s slow paced  blue collar tempos did not cause too much consternation for the passengers as they sat white knuckling the ride to work. High Time relaxed them with it’s familiar pedal steel and strolling bass line. Actually they were having a great time sipping their latte’s and laughing.

I am after all an engaging and fun filled driver. The plea for some Lady Gaga from the young folk in the back was shushed by the grizzled veterans next to them as Dire Wolf taught them what may happen if we broke down and New Speedway Boogie and Jerry and the boys tried to come to terms with the tragedy of Altamont. By the time we got through the whole album on a journey that usually took 25 minutes or so but was stretched to 40 plus by the weather they were singing along to Casey Jones and had the sunny disposition of the Dead convert and no  I did not let them stop at any to the 7 marijuana grows we passed on the way in.

Three days of driving for work, picking up people to make sure the kids were looked after, making hot chocolate with marshmallows, two igloos built, helping four strangers put their chains on and sleeping the sleep of the exhausted all to the dulcet sounds of Jerry and the chaps in their prime. Successful end to the week, however the winter weather warning for tomorrow was not welcome as I would really like a weekend.

So there it is, my year of the Dead, I have not managed to keep track of any of this in an orderly fashion, guess I have a lot to think about for this blogging thing. This thing probably all began with the gift of American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead around this time last year so it’s fitting that it should all end here as well. Not sure if any of this made sense and I never had a schedule and I know there are a lot of records I missed but hey it was my trip and like the last few days it was a fairly strange one.

So these are my last two pictures, the drive home tonight.

 

Happy whatever.

It’s that time of year, Christmas. It has always been associated with vinyl purchases for me, that time of year when I had access to my parents wallet for the important purchasing of albums that I would not be able to get in any other way.

So in deference to them I will now wish you happy whatever you choose to celebrate or if you wish nothing at all but it’s a very sweet picture of Fluffy the cat.

15319113_10209909848536501_2974185093874897051_n

Well, If the river was whiskey, said, I was a duck You know I’d swim to the bottom Lord, and never come up…

Sometimes when your soul is troubled it is good to search out a warm blanket of sound to wrap yourself in. There are some albums out there that wrap their arms around you and let you know the world really is a good place despite the attempt of so many to make it less than so. They reminded you that as Neil Young said “music is the thread that binds both the left and the right” I ‘m not sure he always knows what he is talking about but I sincerely hope he is correct.

So I dragged out that first live Hot Tuna album. The one that is so live you can hear the beer bottle break as the wait staff drop it and the clank of glasses as the revelers revel. It’s a classic, comfortable, white boy country blues at it’s finest. Jorma and Jack playing their acoustic hearts out. Later albums got the heavier strut of those English style blues but this was is an all American homage to the roots of rock.fullsizerender-3It’s an enjoyable album and a needed panacea to the excesses of the Airplane at the time as they morphed into the Starship. A grounding force for the musicians as they headed somewhere else.

This was the album that was dragged out frequently at the end of the week to act as an answer to the weeks work. In those days the end of the work week was usually a Tuesday or Thursday as I was never lucky enough to have the weekend. That was something saved for my room mates who had a real job like teaching or selling insurance not playing soccer with delinquents. It was a way of blowing the cobwebs away a fresh breeze a regenerating moment. It was usually played late at night as I staggered in from work as there was only time for two pints at the pub before closing time. Sit in the dark, listen and feel better by the end.

Tonight it didn’t manage it’s magic but it’s still a fine album.

You can’t help feeling that maybe Uncle Sam’s Blues has something to say to us now.