You just happened to be there that’s all…

It’s been a day and a half today. I went to the doctor and on the corner was a guy begging, panhandling, choose your term.

I was overcome with a realization that we are all so close to homelessness. So I dug my wallet out and gave him all the money I had. Through my head went all the usual cynicism, he’ll buy drugs or booze etc. I felt a fool an idiot a mug.

I sat in the my car on the way out of the doctors and on the corner was the same guy. He was sitting on a bucket and eating a sandwich, he smiled and gave me a thumbs up. All my usual bullshit lifted and I smiled.

As is usual I visited the thrift store on the way home. To spend some of that disposable cash we forget we have nowadays. I wandered over to the stack of records and the young man stocking said there’s a whole bunch of vinyl over there not on the shelf. I dug around for awhile and hit the motherlode of used vinyl for the month. I walked away with twenty records or so that are all new to me.

 

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Earth Calling…

Last night I had a dream. It was very vivid and may have been real.

After declaring that Deep Purple MK. II were capable of saving the world from it’s current dire straights Dave Brock called me. He informed me that the Space Ritual lineup of Hawkwind are the only band that trump the current decline into nationalist furor and stupidity.

Sometime in the near future he will be plugging his Orgone Accumulator in and summoning Stacia, Lemmy and the others to perform a tripped out anti-establishment classic to quell the rising tide of ignorance.

Until that time if we all play Space Ritual at least once a week a disaster will be stalled until the Sonic Assassins can kick some fascist butt.

I am not kidding I think this really did happen so play the damn album.

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It’s got everything…

In the midst of the Joy Division obsessed sixth form at my school there were several moments of insanity that stick in my mind.

The day that Made In Japan was placed on the common room turntable (yes it was one of IMG_6461those types of schools) with the immortal words of “just one track” mumbled was one of those days. The hairy young man placed side four on the table and sat back as all 20 minutes of Space Truckin’ unfolded.

“The fireball that we rode was moving
But now we’ve got a new machine
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah the freaks said
Man those cats can really swing”

The very serious young men in their long black overcoats were in a state of shock and cried into their cups of tea. In no way would the words cat or swing ever pass their lips unless it was about an actual cat. Distorted feed backing pseudo classical soloing on the guitar was something they were unfamiliar with and the screaming of the vocalist caused them significant visible pain it seemed.

Nobody moved to take the album off as it seemed the whole room was frozen by the audacity of the long haired pimply teenager. After the song ended he stepped to the machine, slipped the record in it’s sleeve and left Made In Japan clutched under his arm.

The whole room was silent. Something monumental had happened the gloomy sway of Joy Division had been broken by the neanderthals in denim and leather, anything was now possible, at least for a brief time.

On the way home I stopped at the record store and bought Made In Japan and ever since it has been my shield against the encroaching darkness. I firmly believe if Deep Purple MK II reformed they would be able to turn back the tide of gloom and lies that are enveloping us at present. It really is time to let that freak flag fly I think.

Feels like a brand new day…

Damn it got really late.

Been out looking for the perfect abode to abide in. Drove 158 miles and looked at so much land and then buildings.

IMG_6459I have decided I want a river running along my property line, so I can sit there and sing along to Down By The River as I sip a beer with a whiskey chaser into my dotage.

Until that time I am sitting on the couch after a really long day listening to Van the Man. I have nothing to say about this album apart from it is damn near perfect and if you haven’t heard it don’t wait any longer.

 

This is the look the cat got when listening to the glory that is Glad Tidings.

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“So believe no lies, dry your eyes and realize
That surprise”

My love she laughs like the flowers…

It’s a strange thing the first Dylan album. You either love or hate him but you are forever changed having heard him. It’s an as they say life changing moment. What however if your first time is an album that falls into the derided Dylan album category. It seems like everyone should hear Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks first, be bathed in the beauty of the words, the rhythms, the high speed imagery and the stories.

1989-fiat-uno-3I had a habit in the past of thinking the best way to get into a band was to get the live album, better still if it was a double as that’s twice the volume of songs isn’t it. So when faced with a several hour drive with my new love up the A1 from London to Newcastle in a hired Fiat Uno there was a need for some tunes for the journey. This being a spur of the moment thing there was no time to make the obligatory road trip tape. In fact I had a brief moment of panic, deciding at the last moment to leave the choice to the neighbor, asking him for 4 or 5 tapes he could choose, “and oh yeah do you have any Dylan?”

So we set out with an assortment of tapes, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Mott the Hoople, John Prine, The Band and some others all greatest hits collections from his drives. Nestled amongst all this was the Dylan tape, the only one he had on tape and joy it was a double live album. I was obviously aware of Dylan, had heard many songs but never sat down with an album and here we were setting out for a long sit down for several days on the way to Newcastle.

So the first Dylan I heard all the way through was Live at Budokan. A universally it seems IMG_6428panned album. Show band Dylan, massive backing band 3000 backing singers, reggae flutes and incredibly jaunty versions of songs, or cod heavy metal at times. Most consider it a travesty. However in the full flush of young love it was the perfect soundtrack to that road trip. Now when I hear the strange flute on Tambourine man I smile and settle in for a long happy listen that takes me back to golden hair spilling out of the car window as we attempted to pick up speed to pass another car in a white Uno going uphill.

Yes there are without a doubt better Dylan albums but none of them remind me of that glorious summer. Here they all are, the hits in almost unrecognizable versions. I have to admit to Live at Budokan being my favorite Dylan album. The day I did this in the Dylan club meeting in the smoky bar in Liverpool they threw me out and refused me entry, luckily I had gotten the GP’s bootleg I went for before admitting this shameful fact.

So it may be a coke fueled frenzied album. It may tear apart classics, reinventing them into strange distorted versions of the original, but damn it sure is a fun album that shows in my opinion that when asked to do a greatest hits tour Dylan does what he does and gives you what you didn’t know you wanted. All you need to hear is the slinky, strange sexy version of One More Cup of Coffee with it’s staccato latin rhythms and congas, oh the congas, to know there is something else happening her. The thing is you have no real way of knowing what it is that is happening. Like A Rolling Stone is relentless, the backing singers hitting every last phrase with Dylan and wailing those lines out like a Greek chorus. It’s a march through the hits, Oh Sister, All Along the Watchtower, all recognizable and yet twisted and torn.

That last sentence would make those men in the Dylan club back in Liverpool very happy. The real thing is if you are not to wedded to your Dylan mythology it’s an interesting listen. Of course now it has become part of that mythology, hated by most loved by some. For me it takes me back to that wonderful week as I grew to know my future wife, getting to know what the rhythms of our life would be. Of course if you ask her about Live at Budokan she probably doesn’t even know Dylan made a live album in Japan. She has however a great affection for The Band’s Last Waltz album which was in the player that week too. Just goes to show she has infinitely more taste than me.

 

 

Please don’t get us wrong man, this is just a song man…

FullSizeRender 4Often a bands first record is the great one, they have saved up all those songs they have been writing since puberty. Getting it all down on record for the first time. There is often an intensity involved in the belief that nobody else is going to give them a chance and they need to get it all out.

Fairport Convention managed to get a deal based on their guitar players skills. Then they released an album that if like me you came to after some of the other near classics in their canon is at first a bit of a disappointment. No fiddles, lots of covers, some okay original compositions and a silly tune about breaking down in a car. Yes there is a girl singer, she has a sweet voice, a little polite but very English, she’s not Sandy Denny though most will say.

Having owned this album for as long as I have. I now realize what a classic it is. Some of IMG_6408the first English recordings of Joni Mitchell and a weird Dylan track in Jack of Diamonds. Judy Dyble’s vocals are the true star though, sweet and clear and if you can find the single with Ribbon Bow on with a sigh to make grown men sit up and pay attention. If you want to really hear how great her voice is go find the Trader Horne album Morning Way, it’s on nifty red vinyl very pretty, and who can resist red vinyl?, It’s of it’s hippy dippy time but less pretentious and tedious  than a Donovan album.

This Fairport Convention however is the band that jammed with Hendrix and Barrett at the UFO club, while their hippy girl lead singer knitted on stage, and was beloved of John Peel. Yes they went on to make flawed and better albums but there is something about a bunch of music fans getting together and being allowed to record their songs. It very likely would not happen now no matter how great the guitarist was jamming on East West.