I can’t sleep tonight…

Well I always enjoyed Lee and the boys live. Actually to be honest I probably enjoyed myself more than I should’ve done and have no real recollection apart from sweaty jumping around in dark smelly bars.

I like The La’s album well enough, it misses the mark on so many levels of what they were like live. I am however over the poseur approach to never listening to it, it is after all the lasting legacy of a band that could have been so much more. Of course this is the ragged memories of an aging old fart remembering. It is inconceivable it was over 30 years ago.

So the BBC Sessions is on very cool green vinyl, it’s numbered, my guess however there was in inconceivably large number made, mine is one thousand and something.  Most of the songs from the album are here played with the ragged energy and sense of urgency that I remember. Like The Kinks met the Hollies in a dark alley and decided to become the Stones. Jangly and off kilter, it would be sacrilege to refer to the B’ band in reference to The La’s and maybe not relevant.

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There is the myth of the band and then there is the legacy of the recordings. They made one really good pop album, yes it could have probably been better but there really is a point when perfectionism has to give way. The BBC Sessions is a good addendum, it’s rougher it’s more immediate and maybe better, that is however probably more to do with the limitations of recording for the BBC reducing the possibility of getting that perfect take.

It did however manage to distract me really well for two hours, that’s almost three and a half plays in regular time. I danced around the living room, sashayed in the kitchen and rhumbaed in the bedroom before taking a nap.

it’s a cerebral vibrator…

Not been feeling it much these last few days.

Five posts deleted, just no happy with them and they had not been coming together for over a week so goodbye.

The obvious answer is something loud and brash and obnoxious. Enter Hawkwind’s Undisclosed Files, no label, no real track listing, the songs are written in the wrong order on the shield. It’s  a self released live album from 1993, although it’s the mid 80’s Hawkwind  you are hearing. Hawkwind 1 or The Emergency Broadcast System  is the apparent name of the label. Described as unofficial on Discogs but released by the band, only Hawkwind could unofficially officially release an album.

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So what do you get?

You get some classic wacked out Hawkwind, chugging along with Nik Turner  honking away, Harvey’s synths and Brocks metronomic riffing and Huw Lloyd-Langton playing his heart out. Some classics like Master of the Universe that is melded with Coded Languages, Orgone Accumulator, Motorway City and Angels of Death, as well as some other tracks of interest such as Watching the Grass Grow and Ejection.

Ultimately though you get to romp back to a simpler time when festivals were free and pandemics were something in books or movies. You get to remember what ti was like to romp around in the sun in a field with some like minded folk and drink warm beer and cider.

The thing I loved most about 80’s Hawkwind was the synths. They were an ever evolving pattern of oddness permeating everything that was happening musically on stage and visually. It was the wall of sound bubbling away that held the rest of the show together. Harvey really came into his own when he moved form bass to synth.

Remember:

“You must question the nature of your orders…”

 

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see…

I have thought long and hard about my Dad recently, he died just a little over a year ago and for all sorts of reasons I couldn’t say anything at his funeral, now it’s another Fathers Day. 

My uncle Robert did an awesome job of talking about him at the crematorium, and what he meant to his siblings as a big brother and who he was as a man. My Dad was poor growing up and was taken out of school at 14 to work, he worked every day of his life, until his body let him down, he always took care of his family. He saved every day and me and my Mum never went for anything we wanted or needed. He valued education because his was cut short and he was determined I would not have to work so hard it broke my body. He was a solid rock and I miss him every day.

Of course it is just true he was better than everyone else’s Dad because he was my Dad and he loved me unconditionally although we did not always get along all the time, I did however always know I was loved. We would argue about politics, religion and life and I miss that, he would always listen and answer.

He taught me how to pull a splinter, he spat water in my eyes when I had dirt in them, he picked me up and cleaned off my knees when I fell down. He taught me to swim and dive into the deep end of the pool/lake or ocean. He taught me how to be a man, a husband  and a father. He taught me to garden, although I hated it, he would laugh as I tried to push the lawnmower. He made me hate games because he never let me win. He always worked to find interests we could talk about or do together.

I want to share one memory towards the end. It was one of the last surgeries he had in 2018 I think. I came home because he was not sure that it would go well. The night before the surgery we sat and watched TV and talked after my Mum had gone to bed. I thought he would want to watch something light but he had a real need to watch the documentary about Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech he had recorded. His reason was he was seeing some of that hatefulness of Powell seeping into UK life from conversations he was having with friends and others. He wanted to challenge himself to better understand the racist world he had lived in and may have contributed to, and he wanted to do this the day before a surgery he may not survive. 

Think about that, it was important he continue to improve himself even to what may be the end. 

During the film, he sat and occasionally wiped his eyes as he remembered how racist the bus company in St. Helens and Ford motors and the railways he worked on as a lad and the post office job he loved, had been and how he had been complicit in it by not speaking up at times. He also talked about how immigrants had been treated and continued to be treated, his talk was often conflicted and he could understand why people would be afraid of immigrants and other races. He often came back to this idea that it was fear that caused his inaction at times, he struggled with why he was afraid and why others were afraid.

At the end of the film he was silent and mumbled that man was evil about Powell. 

Now my Dad was not perfect, he did join the Conservative club after all because the bingo prizes were better. I am not either. He did however teach me the most important lesson ever, he taught me to always be open to the idea that my biases needed to be challenged and that often they are based in fear. 

If a 70 plus man on the day before a life threatening surgery could confront his own biases and fears, we can from the comfort of our isolated worlds confront our own fears and biases and speak out. My Dad was no saint and never pretended to be, and I won’t lie and pretend he was either, he was an honest person about himself and his own behaviors though, sometimes that was painful for him but it made him a better brother, husband and father.

Happy Father’s Day.

If you want to watch the BBC documentary Rivers of Blood it’s here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQjDu2Zl2fo

If you want to hear a great song about racism and hatred by a great old Liverpool band go here:

Maybe go to both and if you like the song and find yourself agreeing with some of the vileness Powell is spewing ask the question what are you afraid of? 

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storm…

Sitting here numb and exhausted from watching the news unfold for the last few days/weeks.

All this horror.

I am not actually able to put anything together that would be useful about the current state of affairs in my homeland/chosen country.

Two of my sons went downtown to protest tonight, I hope they will be safe and I am proud of them. This is very real for one of them as he said my children won’t be white, I have to admit that I had not thought that, this stuff impacts us all in so many ways.

This seemed appropriate and yes I still have no words, take the time to listen, even though our “leaders” won’t.

I have not got past Side 1. this week.

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a smile keeps me warm…

It’s the endless long drawn out decline.

Phil May died the other day, he fell of his bike and never recovered from the hip surgery. It all sounds a bit mundane as the globe is gripped with a pandemic but sometimes it’s the mundane that affects me. Phil was of course the singer for the Pretty Things, the original and long standing bad boys of rock music, creators of loud raucous blues based rock rowdiness and perhaps popularizers of the rock opera or concept album. Causing the world all sorts of pain and happiness over the years depending on your tolerance for the concept.

Without SF Sorrow it may have taken longer for pretentious rock poseurs to decide to have aspirations beyond their R&B backgrounds. Maybe it was the fact this most working class of bands had managed to outwit the others with their conceptual album. It was inevitable though it seems the others would catch up as the drugs got better the ego’s would require a more grandiose backdrop for the music and possibly capes. Can there ever be enough capes in music?

The beauty of S.F. Sorrow is its lack of pretension. Its brilliance is its dependance on songs to push the written story along, that way if you are lazy like me you can just enjoy the album without ever worrying about the story. It’s full of good songs without an overture, underture to any other type of ‘ture for that matter. There are odd psychedelic sounds and quirkily charming and oddball lyrics.  If you ever read the story it makes little sense which may be its saving grace, it is also not necessary to the listening enjoyment of the album. At the end of the day its just a great rock record, Old Man Going is worth the price of admission alone.

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The album was so confusing to the record company they put no money into the artwork, Phil May drew the picture on the front, they took there own band pictures and managed to make a halfway decent stab at it.

Maybe this is the secret to a good concept album, keep it amateurish.

So  R.I.P Phil May, leader of the roughest of rock bands, conceptual artist and storyteller, and I believe him Tommy was influenced by S.F.Sorrow.

It’s a blimp frank…

I had this really long and involved review of Dusseldorf by Steve Hillage, it involved all sorts of long words and hyperbole. Until this moment.

I was having dinner with my son Tom, not unusual it happens most nights. I was telling him about the story of the record and everything that goes along with it, guilt, mystery and regret along with elation.

He turns to me and asks:

“Does it have Light in the Sky on it?”

“Yes” I reply.

“Must be good then…”

Enough said.

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So it has Light in the Sky on and many other songs and it’s good.

we looked into the ethers…

Aaaaaah the endless Zoom/Skype phone meetings.

I have been reading about the adverse affects of video conferencing, as I prepare to sit in on 6 hours of conferencing ahead, at one point I will simultaneously Zoom and Skype, I am not looking forward to this and knowing my mum she will WhatsApp video call about the same time.

Things that happen that are good or exciting are limited in these Covid times.

Several months ago I ponied up some much needed cash to order Dusseldorf by Steve Hillage, a recording of a concert in said city on 23/8/79. I waited and waited and worried and then a virus hit and still no package from the UK with my exciting album enclosed. Eventually I gave up and emailed the seller, who within minuted gave me a refund with no communication. Oh well I though all is well at least I got the money back. I then went about my business with my desire for the album filed away somewhere in the back of my mind.

Yesterday I took a drive to the post office to pick up the mail. I do this late at night to avoid the people. I live about 8 miles outside a small time and have my mail sent to a PO Box, there is then the exciting parcel locker to open, it’s like Christmas.  9pm is a strange time to get the mail though no matter what you say.

Sitting in the parcel locker was an anonymous package that when I tore it open was my Sleeve Hillage album. Oh joy now I have a free record and feel bad for the seller who has refunded me. I contacted him and he was most understanding, wanted no cash and was happy I got the record.

All I have to do is listen to it now, thats next as the 1979 period for Hillage was amazing, that is the period that the Live Herald album came from.

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I am so happy about this. Live Herald was three sides live and one studio, this is three LP’s of Hillage goodness. More about it after I listen I am sure unless I just take a nap.

In other news Bambi came to say hi as I was on my way out to get the groceries and then the mail on the way home. So many good things in these Covid times.

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life’s like this…

So I became somewhat confused at some point in the week and I just realized it is Friday.

Milestones/considerations:

  1. I have not eaten anything I or someone in this household didn’t cook for over 6 weeks, maybe longer.
  2. It is really hard to find garbanzo beans, thats chick peas.
  3. The damn clay soil is defeating me in building a garden.
  4. Neighbors are pretty cool when they turn up with a tractor and rototiller to attack the clay soil.
  5. I keep thinking I don’t do much at work until my wife kept track of the meetings and phone calls and interruptions to the day, I actually have a job and it sucks doing it from home.
  6. My record buying has decreased.
  7. I have read 14 books, only 3 of them were work related.
  8. I have started staying up later, but not sleeping later.
  9. I don’t want to listen in on another state agencies Covid-19 pandemic meeting, but I will, it’s my job.
  10. I like being home, just not working from home.
  11. My bedroom makes a lousy office.

life’s like this right now:

 

you’ve got pretty eyes…

I saw Townes Van Zandt twice and I remember every moment.

I have seen Steve Earle I think four times and I have no memory of any of them. This is entirely my fault or it was that last drink for sure before we headed to the venue. I have more memories of his appearance on The Wire.

I was browsing Amazon as you do in these Covid times and I discovered Townes by Steve Earle and the Dukes for fifteen dollars. I realized about this time that I owned no Steve Earle records and also that Copperhead Road and Guy were also all fifteen dollars, So forty five of my dollars headed to Jeff Bezos and I contributed again to the enslavement of the working classes and the destruction of the local record store. But I was getting those records so I was being a good consumer and keeping the economy moving in this time. After all personal gratification is more important than ethics.

This has caused no limits to my cognitive dissonance about commercialism. I am the “festive consumer consumed by the feast.” As someone might say. So what to do when your options to buy things you need are so limited these days? I am however going to have to think about this carefully and what it means for myself. Of course this is a problem that began with the Sears catalog in the USA when you could even buy a mail order house.Picture 1 of 1

Of course you can do that on Amazon pretty much now:

To the records though!

Steve Earle’s quote about Townes Van Zandt is well known, something about cowboy boots, Bob Dylan and coffee tables.

The record is what you would hope for, not too reverent, the songs are there but they are Townes’ and he seldom wrote a bad one. It’s a good collection covering Townes career and played really well and Earles lived in voice is perfect for the songs. The thing you are left with at the end though is a real sadness that more people in the USA dont know about the national treasure that was Townes Van Zandt. Maybe though now you can get them so easily mail order there will be a resurgence and it may even be worth Jeff Bezos getting a little richer for Townes name to get out there.

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I guess we will get to the other records another day I am going to lay this one again. Its worth it for Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria.

even a chicken has to what it has to do…

There are not enough accordions in rock music.

There are not even enough accordions in folk music.

There are for sure not enough accordions in folk-rock music.

There are also sad to say these days not enough electric guitars in folk-rock music.

IMG_3391.JPGThere are enough fiddles and bohdrans and even freaking pipes of the bag and uillean variety, I was even watching the kind of cringeworthy Dave(I will not say David)Gilmour family get together on facebook the other day and there is a harp along with a guitar, so there are clearly enough harps in all sorts of music.

In the heady days of the mid 70’s there were plenty of electric guitars in folk-rock music. There were also accordions and mandolins and many fiddles.

There was however only one remaining folk-rock duo willing to stretch those instrumentals out to psychedelic excess along with the more accessible songs about poor boys, whiskey nightmares and meaningful songs of shame. That was Richard and Linda Thompson, the most missed duo of the seventies if I might say. As far as I know nobody is calling for the return of Elton John and Kiki Dee. I may be wrong however.

Now those psychedelic guitar solos are probably explained by Mr Thompson as some IMG_3392.JPGsort of religious ecstatic experience an expression of deep spiritual yearning and fulfillment. I am however going to go with the mere fact that they explore subconscious parts of the mind that only six string played by a maestro can. Especially on Night Comes In. Yes Sufi-whirling may be what Thompson is singing about but there is a lot of mention of wine drinking too. Oh well if you really want to hear an out of the box version get Guitar Vocal and sprawl out with Thompson guitar and John Kirkpatricks accordion as they soar and swoop through the night.

So there are sufficient accordions on Pour Down Like Silver, there are also adequate fiddles, trumpets and cello’s. There is a crack rhythm section but no rhythm guitarist. It is starker than the earlier albums and definitely less polished than the following if that means anything.

It also ends with one of the great songs in the folk-rock world with Dimming of the Day.