She has fancy clothes and diamond rings…

Or a comfy bed that is rich with sounds.

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She introduced me to her favourite books…

Ever since I began buying records they have been tied up with books. I began buying books long before I began to buy records though. This afternoon I was feeling a little melancholy and turned to Moorcock. Not the slash up sword and sorcery of the past but the more introspective serious writing that more and more he has been engaging with.

The soundtrack was Steven Wilson’s Hand Cannot Erase which with it’s themes of alienation and loneliness seemed to go with Moorcock’s Lunching With The Antichrist.

hand

Both the book and the album have left me feeling particularly introspective. I don’t have a lot apart from this from Mr Moorcock in 1993.

“It is heartening to note, as our economy collapses perhaps for the last time, a return to the language and sentiments of mutual self-interest. London was never the kindest of English cities but of late her cold self-referential greed has been a watchword around the world. Everything we value is threatened in the name of profit.”

Substitute the city and the country and you have a pretty good picture of the world as it is.

All of which leads me to conclude that you should only listen to Hawkwind when reading Moorcock.eye switching to another musician has caused a dis-regulating experience.

The Steven Wilson however is one of my favorite albums of the year and the concert was one of my most memorable as they crammed a quadraphonic sound system and a big rock show into a hall that normally hosts reflective folk musicians.

I have to confess I had to give up reading as the music became too compelling and I finished the book in silence once I was done with the record. This either attests to the music being attention grabbing or acknowledges my brain is not necessarily able to allow for the input of two types on information anymore.

15 is not enough…

15 Albums what a ridiculous number that is but keepsmealive picked the number.

Those ones you cannot live without. The Desert Island albums, the essentials etc. etc. etc. Or really the compromises you make when faced with an arbitrary number. At any time the list may change and I am already having regrets.

My rules,

1.Well they had to be records that meant something to me of course.

2. Compilations count because the two I chose are carefully thought out retrospectives ( not really, see rule 1)

3. I had to own them and be able to sing along in an out of tune but enthusiastic voice to every song (practiced this in the car all week)

4. Bootlegs count because I said so (see rule 1 again)

Neil Young  – Decade

decade

Fake country, psychedelic jams it’s all covered here. Neil’s greatests moments in noise production in his first ten years. I know it’s cheating as it is a compilation but it is the second best compilation made, covering ten years of creativity and soul searching.

Fairport Convention – What We Did On Our Holidays

holidays

The absolute best English Folk-Rock album from the 60’s. Yes better songs appear later in the band’s career but nothing ever holds up as a whole again. Traditional songs and original compositions all make for a perfect album. Yes Liege and Lief was more groundbreaking but everything on What We Did fits so well and the show stealing fiddle is not there yet.  

Hawkwind – Hall of the Mountain Grill

hawkwind-hall-of-the-mountain-grill-non-sticker-lp

Some claim this is Hawkwind lite but it is for me the best album, great songs enough blanga to melt the brain and electronic blips and bleeps as well as Simon House squawking away on electric violin. I almost went with Space Ritual but that can at times be too much Hawkwind.

Roy Harper – Stormcock

cock

Four long songs covering everything from religion to the gaseous emissions of critics. An album of contrasts and all acoustic, in fact it has Jimmy Pages finest acoustic appearance on any album as he shreds his way through Same Old Rock. This is one of those albums that you have to play all the way through.

The Beatles – Blue Album

blue

This may be cheating again with a compilation but this is how I first ever heard The Beatles, this album nestled in my parents radiogram as the only album from the Beatles. My mum sang along to every song and  I can play this album through in my head without it being on. I know there may be better or at least real Beatles albums but this is the one you need, or rather I need.

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks, the New York Sessions

new blood

Again it may be a cheat, as it’s a bootleg, but the versions are so much better sounding, more direct and less muffled, also there is something about hearing Dylan’s buttons rattling against the guitar body that makes it special. It is essential at some point in every list it is important to be a little pretentious.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory

hunky dory

There are many other choices but this for me is Bowie right before he entered the stratosphere, still paying homage to his heroes and still with a unique voice. He is still a little wide eyed on this album if not innocent. The future however is there with the searing Queen Bitch and The Bewlay Brothers to end the album.

David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name

crosby

If you have this you don’t need another album from San Francisco. Containing most of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and CSNY this is an album that reeks of lazy afternoons and evenings smoking and jamming. It is a musical tour de force and no wonder it took him forever to record a second solo album this may have just run the well dry. Full of obscure guitar tunings and meandering vocal harmonies it is a wonder with Jack Casady’s bass holding it all together at times when it looks like it may disappear in a cloud of smoke.

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

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At times sounding like Burt Bacharach joined Pink Floyd with Neil Young as a singer, well that sums it up. They have never sounded so consistent although they have been more fun at times.

Richard and Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

lights

A wholly excellent album at times uplifting other times harrowing and bleak. The whole album flows with a strange sense of completeness and spirituality.. Moving from one observation to the next with the constant searing guitar lines imposing themselves over crumhorns, mandolins and accordions and that is just the first track. Has there ever been a better beginning of a song than Calvary Cross? Also any album with a silver band on deserves to be heard

Pink Floyd – Animals

animals

Anger, angst and solos. Floyd’s best moment in many ways sandwiched between the musical genius of Wish You Were Here and the mega selling Wall. It was the second Floyd album I ever heard after A Saucerful of Secrets and the one I can return to again and again along with Atomheart Mother which almost made the list.

Genesis – Duke

duke

My go to genesis album, enough prog to keep a nerd happy and some really emotional ( sappy ) songs to keep you grounded. It also has in Heathaze one of the great Genesis songs nobody every really rates.

The Icicle Works – Blind

blind

A confused album ranging from all out Led Zep homage rock to Prince pastiche via a little Byrds flavored country rock. Somehow it all hangs together and is the best of the original Icicle Works albums, although a really good compilation may do it in, they have not made one of those yet.

I Often Dream of Trains – Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn_Hitchcock_-_I_Often_Dream_Of_Trains

An album that is difficult to define, songs about buildings, trains, personality disorders, death and insects. Need I say more really. It is the quintessential obsessive compulsive English album. 

The Yes Album – Yes

yes

Beatles references, harmonies, guitar solos switching speakers and a big big sound. Four of it’s songs are classics that still stay in the Yes live show and it has a delightfully creepy cover.

I never left you…

Name the  most infuriating Beatle ?

And the answer  is John, he is also the most fascinating, the most obviously scouse as well; a little edgy, cuddly and possessing of a huge talent that he seemed to be able to turn on and off at will sometimes just to annoy those around him he also may steal the silver not because he needs or wants it but because it would be a laugh.

My Dad will tell you tales of growing up with John, I am pretty sure he is not being truthful, especially as he is a lover of the tall tale. He also leans back smirks and then launches into a long convoluted story that rolls along adding in Liverpool landmarks at will. I think he does it simply to amuse/bemuse the American relatives who seem to sincerely believe that everyone from Liverpool of a certain age must have been close intimate friends with the Fab Four.

It is my contention that the only Lennon collection you really need to own is Shaved Fish. fishThrow in  a few other songs from the later albums if you need to and you have a perfect collection. Concise biting and a perfect distillation of the wit, romance and politics of Mr Lennon.

For the sake of full disclosure I own everything available by the man and the small beat combo he was a member of. I enjoy the majority of it even some of his experiments with the wife. However the album I return to most often is Shaved Fish for my Lennon fix as it hits all the necessary points. Yes there are things I miss when  listening, I want Working Class Hero or Watching The Wheels but the collection is complete without them too.

So yell shout and scream but I will remain true to my contention. Shaved Fish rules it is perfect.

” I was once sorta…”

There is really something about a great post-apocalyptic novel. It can get you lost in the maybes out there not to mention the what ifs. Unfortunately at times someone decides to make a movie and ruins it.ThePostman(1stEd)

The Postman is a great story, David Brin did a great job convincing you that a little man desperate to survive can use an ideal in order to con his way into food, sex and supplies. At the same time inadvertently reconnect the west coast with the idea they can become a nation again. It is a big book built on the small idea that if communities can gather around an idea and communicate then society can go on, that human connection can overcome barbarism and peace is a good idea.

Then Kevin Costner came along and ruined a good story with ridiculous hero worship and gung ho patriotism. Don’t get me wrong the book can be quite bleary eyed about the USA but in a well done the little man way, Costner turned this element into the over riding them in the movie.

The best aspect of the movie is Tom Petty as a slightly deranged rock star survivalist who has the best line in the movie. It is the reply to Costner’s “I know you, you were famous.”

So at the end of the day go read the book, unless you want to see how beautiful Oregon is.

Tonight the night is mine

Ominous lines from Fagen’s the Nightfly.

I had never heard this album until this week. I had never searched it out, it was maybe good enough to know it existed without hearing it. It was semi-legendary and what the hip cats into Steely Dan really listened to, nightflyit was hard to get for many years it seemed elusive at the best, impossible to find or out of reach for my poor pocket as a student and then I forgot about it. Then yesterday while driving past Goodwill I saw the cover in the window. Well I had to pull over.

It’s unmistakable, the jazz guru cigarette in hand whispering knowledge along the airwaves. On a radio station you had to be cool enough to know about as it was so independent.

Then there it was in the stacks of used vinyl, the cover was perfect, not immediately a good sign. The vinyl looked fine.

Home we go clean it up and give it a spin and suddenly I am one of the cool kids. It was all recorded digitally in the age of vinyl and sounds nice. Immediately you are transported back to late night radio, for me it was John Peel and rock music and not jazz but the theme is the same, secret knowledge being passed on to the initiate in the dead of night. Apparently many of the lyrics are auto-biographical and just goes to prove Donald Fagen is one cool cat

This is an album that would have hit the cool quotient of the staff at Probe Records. A polite nod to the knowing as others left with their OMD records or Bad Company.probe

So now I feel like one of the cool kids having heard the elusive to me Nightfly album. I have to also admit I bought a Bad Company album at the same time though sometimes you just need to rock and the Bad Company boys can do that and somehow I think Mr Fagen would appreciate that although maybe with a sardonic grin as he sipped his cocktail or black coffee, and not an all out devil fingers.

Lord of Light

When I began this blog it was to record my reading. Over time that has changed to be some sort of ongoing discussion of my obsessions, from music to books to whatever is on my mind at the time.

I do however still read, surprise to some. I still have my original project of trying to read some of the greatest science fiction written, as well as my current re-reading of the Eternal Champion Cycle by Michael Moorcock and my return to vinyl. So much going on in this messed up head of mine.lolnovel

Today I finished another of those classic sf books in Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. I have always enjoyed Zelazny, he has the Hawkwind connection for those interested, Lord of Light being an epic track from The Space Ritual album, with searing synth work and a driving blanga beat that cannot be beaten, Simon King and Lemmy at their best. That however is for another post I think.

A novel taking on every major religion in a satirical manner, looking at the dangers of religion and the joys of religion and absurdity of gods. It is also a fun filled adventure. What is not to love?  Zelazny is one of the best writers of sardonic science fiction and does not miss the mark with this novel.

 

The unmade movie script for this novel was the cover story used by the CIA as shown in the movie Argo which I am sure amused Zelazny.

Way more information here: http://web.archive.org/web/20110724150727/http://lordoflight.com/

And then there is this which has nothing to do with the book whatsoever: