I’m gonna get up in the morning…

There is nothing better in the obsessive record collecting world than finding a record that immediately grabs you and takes you back to another time. It’s the grail quest for IMG_2180the modern man and it made worse by those hipster pretenders strolling the streets like big game hunters disturbing the herds that you are hunting for food.

A long time ago before I was really aware of the social and cultural significance of the blues I thought it was something the Yardbirds and the Stones played and Zeppelin made their own. At some point I fell in with a friendly librarian as I was borrowing the John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers album with Claptin reading the Beano on the front. He frowned at me and made the executive decision to loan me the Atlantic Blues box-set. Now this in itself was amazing as you normally needed a papal dispensation to get a box-set out of the Huyton library unless you were an adult, I guess at 19 I was technically an adult. Obviously my excellent taste had won him over or maybe it was my exemplary record of returning albums unscathed.IMG_2179

Whatever the reason I was suddenly thrust into eight albums of Atlantic Blues. Divided into four collections, Piano, Guitar, Vocalists and Chicago. In no way is it the greatest besets blues collection in the world, that would require way too many records for a callow youth to carry home. Either way I am totally convinces that there is no better side of blues than side 3. of this collections Chicago section.

After all what more do you need, songs about booze, women and driving and then you get to sweep up. It’s the perfect four tracks for any album. Of course there is always side 4 that has Freddie King going down to arrive when you flip the record.

Yes as many reviewers who undoubtedly know better than me will attest this is not the all encompassing retrospective. This collection however did blow my mind at the age of 19. I also have an incredible sense of satisfaction that I rescued this from the hipster in the store who saw it as some sort of artifact from bygone days instead of eightt glorious sides of sweaty dirty blues.

a bad reputations a hard thing to bear…

There’s an inevitability about some things. Two things on this blog are  I will write about Hawkwind or Fairport Convention  at some point in the week month or year. It’s going to happen, it’s the danger of being a fan. Cropredy comes and goes and I either go or not. This year we were meant to go, after swearing off mainly because Richard Thompson was going today with Pegg, Nicol and Mattacks as the backing band, not only is this only one member short of the greatest incarnation of Fairport Convention but also exactly the best backing band Thompson ever had. Personal events interfered in IMG_2176this pilgrimage and we never got to the show. This allowed me to nominally keep my vow not to go back, it was also a moment filled with sadness, I have been going to this festival since 1982, lately sporadically but it has been a constant.

In a fit of nostalgia I got excited discovering that 1996’s Acoustic Antipodean tour album has been released on vinyl. This is what happens when you stay up browsing eBay when a field is swaying to Meet On The Ledge. I was not perturbed at already owning this on CD somewhere in a box in the shed as everything sounds better on vinyl ( I am not sure this is necessarily true but vinyl just may feel better).

In the mid 80’s Fairport reformed without Dave Swarbrick, this caused fear anxiety and anger amongst the fans, horror at the fiddle maestro being left out, shock that they could do this etc. In order to make up they recruited Ric Sanders, jazzer and folkie, and Maartin Allcock, prog fan and rocker multi-sintrumentalist, and what happened was suddenly they were a band that could achieve their musical ambitions, as the years progressed this sometimes resulted in some horribly bloated songs that could be maudlin and boring, live however they drank more bars dry than a marauding biker gang and played longer and harder than could be imagined, Matty went metal and the tunes got faster and more complicated.

Just as you thought it had all got out of hand, they created their own unplugged acoustic version without Mattacks on drums and reinvigorated their sound and went on tour to places it was too expensive to take a drummer.

Acoustically Down Under is a great testament to that acoustic version of the band, apparently they saved the excesses until after the show the night this was recorded and they kicked the ball out of the park with definitive versions of some great songs like Slipjigs and Reels, Lallah Rookh and the Frozen Man as well as old favorites and by the end of the album all is well as Swarb turns up to sing Rosie and play as only he can.

So I never got to Cropredy, maybe next year, who knows.

Sometimes it’s okay to be a fan, sometimes it is okay to wallow in nostalgia. So to everyone happy end of Cropredy month.

Run to the shelter nearest you The planet’s running out of steam…

It was really hot today almost reaching one hundred of the fahrenheit’s, This led to some brain circuitry short circuits and listening to Out and Intake by Hawkwind.

It’s the curse of Hawkwind, the dodgy compilation or release. Out and Intake occupies the unenviable task of being simultaneously new and a compilation of odds and sods that were laying around after the album was completed.

It’s not awful, in fact some of it is good, I have always liked Harvey Bainridge’s synth explorations and Nik always has a good honk whenever he can. Danny Thompson manages to keep time the way Brock wanted in the 80’s, which was more reminiscent of a drum machine than a real drummer and Huw Lloyd Langton plays a mean solo and good ole Brock keeps the riffs going.

IMG_2165.JPGAt least it has a pretty cover as my wife says. It definitely falls into the less aggressive side of Hawkwind, melodic at times, even restful. To be honest it sounds better than I remember but 1987 was an odd year for me and Hawkwind. I have to admit thought that I have never found a Hawkwind album I would straight up reject as having no saving graces, this may be the fan in me though.

Tomorrow is potentially hotter so what the heck. The orange gnome says that climate change is not real so I am going with that rather than the evidence before me, after all he knows more about the climate than anyone. The natural hue of his skin tone has convinced me.

take what you can when you may…

Nocturnal ramblings ahoy…

Two days ago Syd discovered a skunk in the yard, this resulted in much mayhem and delight for all involved and an explosive mixture of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and bleach. He had fun frolicking in the froth and ended up smelling a lot better than skunk.

Recently I have been sitting in the dark, well twilight and listening to Hawkwind, it is after all summer time and while temperatures have not reached the heady heights of last year here in Oregon, it is still a lot lighter into the evening. I have been marching out across the rutted yard to the green plastic Adirondack chair by the creek, plopping myself down and plugging in to Hawkwind as I hurl balls for the dog.

This is my happy place right now, a little piece of heaven by the creek with my ears burning up with Hawkwind in the Oregon Sundown.

Later on I will sit in the semi-dark of the living room waiting for my mum to call and playing Dark Matter by Hawkwind. This may have taken over as one of my favorite all time releases by Hawkwind. A double album of never before heard, unless you bought Parallel Universe, sonic excess. It is essential as a release for anyone interested in the early years of the band when experimentation was the norm and the music was as loud and hard as the drugs consumed. Amazingly it can be picked up still brand new and wrapped up for about $20. This is a crime as far as I am concerned.

You Know You’re Only Dreaming opens side one, it is almost an entirely different song from the In Search of Space version, the type of folk busking psychedelia that Hawkwind do so well. Immediately after this we descend into the paranoia of early Hawkwind as they attempt to melt your brain with The Reason Is and Be Yourself. Side one starts the trip off in an off-kilter manner as we get ready for take off.

Things soon go haywire with Hog Farm being a fun guess were that riff ended up one day instrumental. Sweet Mistress of Pain is re-imagined, in fact it may really be a different song, and Calvert handles the vocals making the most of those lyrics. The side ends with 7 by 7 complete with different lyrics, we are now heading into orbit.

Side 3 just about blows your mind with Take What You Can and the full incendiary version of Brainbox Pollution. This is the moment when you know you are actually heading out into space rather than discovering what is going on inside. So many other bands at the time wanted to navel gaze, Hawkwind wanted to pollute your brain, fry your cortexes and then roll you over and do it again. The full on assault, Brainbox Pollution is not a song its a manifesto, it’s all that’s good about Hawkwind in seven minutes or so, the song just about holds it together, at times sounding like it may fall apart, then we get back to the riff and the bass and drums and the ever present electronics. This is when you know you are heading into uncharted territory.

Side 4. manages to gently bring you down from the previous heights with fun studio versions of songs that appears as live versions on Hall of the Mountain Grill and a full on Floydian Wind of Change.

The space rock monster mayhem that is Hawkwind has been part of my life for 40 years or so. I have spent a lot of time being disappointed in compilations, I would say this sits up there with Roadhawks though and will melt your face if you spend quality time with it.

I wrote this a long time ago and have not really been happy with it but decided what the heck, my listening has moved on a little, right now it’s X In Search of Space which is a whole other post.

Recently time spent by the creek has been in the company of That Peter Crouch podcast, this is highly recommended if you enjoy soccer. Other nights have been with the NY Times Daily podcast particularly as the 1619 feature has started. If you really want to delve into the history of oppression and slavery in particular give it a go. If not then go buy a copy of Dark Matter, they sell for less than $20 right now on your favorite online shopping place and fry your brain cells.

you should’ve come again…

The discord and melody. The wall of sound and the ethereal voices.

The Besnard Lakes are the Divine Wind has it all in about 8 minutes or so total on both sides. There’s a catchy pop song in there somewhere.

I have never bought many singles even during the peak of my pop picking. This however came free with an album. Or was the album free not sure. Anyway it was a fine 8 minutes last night which is sometimes all I can manage.

It’s been a productive morning before the temperature rose and I hid in the shadow with the dog

About 5am this morning I waged chemical warfare on the hornets nest in the ground. There are no pictures of this as I could not convince anyone to get up and watch. This was doubly thoughtless as I could have com into anaphylactic shock if I was allergic to stings. They all argued I was not as I had been stung five times finding the nest. I did however in preparation watch several YouTube videos. Ole Duke gave the beat advice “cover up and put your running shoes on.” No injuries occurred I did run away fast and there seem to be a significant reduction in the wasp population.

Syd exiting the creek after a cooling dip.

Anyway this is some of what was accomplished today.

And just because here is a gratuitous tractor in the woods shot.

jyotis avisarmin…

I remember driving through Mold sometime in the early 90’s and seeing this band advertised as playing at the local small theater. This was probably long after Phil Collins went on to mega stardom. For a moment I considered what it would be like to go see them live.

Suffice to say I never went to see Brand X. that time or even a couple of years ago when they toured the USA. I think they just never raised enough interest in me to go.

It is true I only bought Moroccan Roll because i recognized a Hipgnosis album cover and Phil Collins name on the sleeve. For weeks I determinedly made myself listen to it so I could convince myself I was clever enough to like this jazz-fusion stuff. It was confusing and different and may very well have been one of the first albums I ever bought that had few/almost no lyrics and what lyrics there were were in Sanskrit.

My friends who I used to play this to would accuse me of trying to be clever or just look at me puzzled as they searched for the Twisted Sister or Quiet Riot.

The thing is though late at night when the house has quieted and even cooled down it is just the right thing to play to get your head back in gear before bed.


I am not sure of the genre, heavy-prog. Who knows?

It at times really frustrates me that Freddie Mercury’s vocal acrobatics are seen as the epitome of histrionic 70’s rock vocals. Those in the know will cite David Byron of Uriah Heep as the true master of the overwrought vocal. Bare chested and operatically inclined in the vocal department he screamed and hollered his way through many a Heep album, living large and I am sure frustrating his bandmates with his behavior.

In the grand tradition of 70’s live albums Uriah Heep’s cleverly titled “Live” album is a monster among lesser creatures. Overblown solos on all fronts extended versions of songs that were already pretty long and David Byron bellowing his heart out across four sides ending with the endless rock’n’roll medley.

Everything says this should be awful but honestly it’s pretty outstanding and a whole lot of fun. Uriah Heep were definitely in the second division of English proto-metal, heavy-prog bands, not always justifiably but they could for sure manage to pomp it up with the best of them. Now let’s face it David could not hold a note like Freddie but he really more than makes up for it with enthusiasm.

It also has a truly awful cover:

Standing in the neutral zone living on sleep deprivation the rural route sleeps while the city bleeds all over itself…

I had a really long post written about how great Son Volt are, a comparison to Buffalo Springfield splitting up for Uncle Tupelo, the academic album for album review of Wilco and Son Volt and the importance of both bands and the futility of comparisons.

I then deleted the whole thing and decided to go with this:

Son Volt Live at the Bottomline 1996 is straight up how Americana if that is what we are going to call it should sound. Heartbreaking vocals, twangy guitars screaming and funnily enough odd time signatures. It’s the sound of whiskey and beer and the smell of the shampoo of the girls hair you are dancing with as it brushes against your face. Its long rides on open roads and longer rides on winding roads through the mountains at night with the smell of pine trees and rain coming through the open window. It’s coming over the hill and seeing the endless highway stretching before you with the heat haze hovering over the asphalt. It’s blue jeans and flannel shirts worn by working men not hipsters.

“If living right is easy, what goes wrong
You’re causing it to drown
Didn’t want to turn that way
You’re causing it to drown”

if ever there was a reason…

There is a long history of social conscience in music, these days it is frowned upon by many. There are so many complaining as our heroes from yesteryear continue to have a conscience rather than accepting the status quo. Music is to lose yourself in they say, to act as a panacea for our ills not to comment on the world we live in, forgetting all those protests and angry young men pointing out injustice, sing the hits asshole they shout as they sing along to Ohio forgetting the meaning.

Many these days don’t want their worlds disturbed by the discomfort of someone else’s opinion. If you don’t agree that’s fine disagree, argue, debate, don’t fling crap and debase.

The alternatives are truespeak and capitulation.

Jay Farrar’s band Son Volt’s most recent album Union falls into the songwriter as conscience of the nation. Its an album packed with commentary on our world over here in the good ole USA.

The interesting thing for me is the reviews Farrar and Co. have received, ranging from dull and uninspiring to rediscovering the songwriters soul. It seems that even our music rags want musicians to entertain not challenge. Of course it depends which side of the aisle you sit, from my perspective the right has not really managed to dredge too many great songs out of their collective talent pool. That is however my bias I am aware.

Now it’s not a perfect album, it has some beautiful moments and some odd choices, however it is good to see a musician getting what is rattling around his head down on the record, whether its the state of liberty in the land of the free, the plight of the immigrant and the battle for the soul of a country not to mention a Rebel Girl.

It helps I think that Farrar’s voice is world weary and the band are backing him up with some intense and yet relaxed countryfied rock.

“Lady Liberties tears may they wash away the prejudice…”

it’s like a psychedelic dream…

They are going to paint the office I share with my pal and Bass God from Ed and the Boats, Greg. Here is some odd footage of them if you are interested.

This has become a little disconcerting as I realized that everything I own in this office is down to one box a plant and a disgusting looking blue tooth speaker on the floor.

the speaker

When I moved into the big city from the country I took all my pictures home as it felt I was moving into someone else’s space. I also spend much of my time out and about so what is the point of nesting in an office that is not really mine. There was also the thought that after 26 years this may be time to leave and it is easier without so much crap. Of course this has not happened and probably will not as I find interesting things to do, new programs to work on and a whole crew of crazy social workers to supervise.

thats the box and the ever present water bottle.

There is also rumor that we will actually be moving into a new space. I am not sure what to think of this. Is it a sign to get out of here or something else entirely. Maybe it is the final recognition of my value to the agency. I am going to have to decide what to do with these thoughts and concerns. Right now I am supposed to be writing a program outline for a child welfare program for sexually harming youth and instead I am tapping away here.

Several hours later…

I did get back to work. Suddenly I was embroiled in budgets and the understanding that mental health is not the priority in this or any other state under the current administration. Then the USPS text came.

It finally landed, Neil Young and Pearl Jam rocking out on Mirrorball. Who in their right mind sold this for $20, it almost feels like stealing, I did ask if he was sure, no he said it’s fine. I am having a little guilt here for a short time. Released in 1995 and mostly written and recorded over 4 days split between January and February 1995 in Seattle. It sounds surprisingly like a Neil Young album, grungy, rocky, at times inane lyrics and missing all of the navel gazing seriousness of the usual Pearl Jam album, although they have always been a band that could rock. Eddie is mostly missing from the album as he was scared to leave his house because of a demented stalker.

It is like the younger brother of Ragged Glory. It romps along like a four day good time with a bunch of young fans who got lucky enough to play with their cooler uncle. The rhythms are tighter the music a bit more lively and defined than the all out jam band momentum of Crazy Horse.

Downtown is the name checking single from the album and it’s a lot of fun. I remember coming home late at night in the 90’s watching MTV and seeing the video and thinking it was fun. Well here it is if you doubted me:

Anyway if you like romping rhythms, meandering solos, feedback and in studio chat, some half thought out well meaning lyrics, this may be the album for you.