No voice…

I really like a bit of Steve Hillage, burbling synths, glissando guitar and some sexy french backing vocals.

I am trying to forget listening to his 82 album with vocals For to next…

I am however eminently happy to let you know that the companion instrumental album And not or… is pretty darn special.

Yes there is no real drums on the album or bass for that matter, there is however a lot of spacey glissando guitar and bubbling burbling synths. The only thing missing is those sexy french backing vocals, that’s because it’s all instrumental don’t you know?


Screaming sounds are buzzing through my brain Am I mad or am I sane?

It’s been a strange couple of weeks. In the UK for the first time in awhile. This was meant to be a different type of trip, fun and adventure for me and Ben as he made some big decisions in his life that would ultimately impact the whole family. Over the last ten days I have not managed to have the “conversation” I thought I wanted to have.

This has been waylaid by my dad being in hospital the entire time. Days have been taken up looking after my mother, drinking coffee with her and then visiting in the hospital. This has not been the most exciting time for poor Ben, he has been very patient with it however. All in all it’s been somewhat bemusing. We have not managed to achieve any of the things I wanted to. Which makes me think those things maybe were not ever achievable.

Maybe the time for the heart to heart is gone with Ben and even with my own dad.

It’s odd coming from a city that is known around the world. You tell anyone you meet that you are form Liverpool they will know certain facts, mainly about the Beatles or one of the two football teams. It is however a whole lot more than that. An independent city that has finally succumbed it seems to gentrification and it’s own fame. The lines to Anfield were multinational this Sunday and you hear many languages as you wonder around town. The working class houses in the city center now multi thousand pound apartments. It is almost certainly a different city than the one I wondered around as a child/young man, there is however enough familiarity in the streets that I can still navigate with ease.

Slightly drunk on Sunday having met up with two friends that I had not seen in 20 or so years we reminisced about the apartment Andy, who was not present, had lived in. He lived on the top floor of a tenement on Bold Place opposite the bombed out church. The lower floors housed some prostitutes who would try and feed him up as he was so skinny. He is still skinny and living in the south of England now. He probably wouldn’t want me to tell you about the prostitutes though. The day ended in the Pilgrim surrounded by slightly self conscious students watching the football. The football was glorious, the students remained self conscious as the still slightly drunk older men shouted and chanted and cheered.

John made the observation that we all had felt so dangerous back then. How we must have pissed off a lot of people and also how people had looked after the stupid drunk 16 year olds in town. A kinder gentler more connected world. Now the self conscious students just looked bemused by the slightly drunk older men. They also somehow managed to be a little disapproving. Didn’t they know that in our prime we had screamed into the maelstrom that was Hawkwind, The Clash, Magazine, Gong and Here and Now, we had been through the excesses necessary and survived. We were entitled to our bleary gazes and ragged chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

We staggered around from one teenage hang out to the next. Reminiscing and laughing as Ben looked bemused at these middle aged men remembering a time before smart phones and streaming jukeboxes. The Marlborough is no longer the Marlborough and Val is long gone, as is Big Clive from the Swan and the Wilsons is nothing but a memory, the Cracke is living on its brief flirtation with John Lennon as a student. At least John and Paul(the immortal Gooey) had held on to most of their hair even though they had moved to Manchester, of course who am I to complain with the 6000 mile move.

It had been Record Store Day the day before. I showed Ben where Probe used to be and the slightly diminished sad place where it is now. We never went in though. I suppose I should have really as that is what a collector should do isn’t it. I have never really experienced the thrill or need for RSD. I do however have a few of the releases I have picked up when they go on sale or online. We also walked past several other record stores that did not drag me in, mostly because they were closed.

Being in an urban environment as opposed to the rural environment we normally inhabit is a shock to the system. There is no roar of large diesel engines heading out in the morning or the sound of woodpeckers in the evening and the frogs who could forget the frogs, there is however the constant hum of the M62 across the field and the trains every 15 minutes or so and the harsh laughter in the streets and car doors slamming.

So for two weeks I have lain in my childhood bed listening to the music of my youth on headphones. The very same way I used to listen late at night so as not to disturb my parents. These days those albums are streamed on Spotify and not on crackly discs of vinyl. Each night has taken me through an album of the past in its entirety. No shuffle play and no skipping the annoying track allowed. The sounds of my youth in my ears as I come to terms with my parents aging and my youngest leaving home.

In this way I listened to Dark Side of the Moon, Here Come the Warm Jets, Hunky Dory, Wind and Withering, Close to the Edge, Stormcock, Meddle, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Space Ritual, Thick as a Brick, Audentity, Ricochet and Full House amongst others. Sometimes I woke up to Spotify deciding what I should listen to next based on some algorithm that would predict my taste. This was invariably not what I wanted to hear at all.

Then one night I looked up into the corner of the bedroom and there she was glaring down on me in her glory, the glow in the dark Virgin Mary that had counted my teenage years . Her ghostly green hue looking at me disapprovingly as I drifted off to In Search of Space. She has been a story I told my friends in the past and there she still is watching quietly as I tried to do my best.

In a fit of rebellion against the Virgin in the corner I bought Hawkwind ‘s record store day offering The 1999 party finally in vinyl were it belongs. I sat and looked at the record and then succumbed to streaming it. No Bob Calvert but Simon House on violin and keyboards and the joy of the glories of Lemmy and the boys blowing the minds of Chicagos youth. Tonight I sat down finally at home and played the record and it is as good as I hoped it would be. It’s anarchic and wild and free flowing, from a time when the pettiness of band life had not destroyed the fun of making a racket.

At the end of the day with all the travails that family bring, the worry of parents and their health, the difficult decisions children have to make and then the knowledge they have to make the decisions for themselves it is good to know there is always a Hawkwind record that will screw its your mind. My dad also reminded me that Ben is just like me, he is going to make his own mind up and at the end of the day a parents job is to love their children to support them to trust them and sometimes to pick up the pieces when they fall.


I have not had much to say recently.

The desire to just post something for the purpose of posting has been an easy one to escape. If you have nothing to say stay quiet may be a mantra worth sticking to.

This evening as the clock wound down towards another flight to the U.K. my restless mind was looking for something to calm it.

In an attempt to be meaningful and deep and dark and thoughtful and irreverent I reached for my Katrina and the Waves Best of: album and found myself with Yanqui U.X.O. by those zany Canadians Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not sure what happened there apart from the recently bought pile is a little confusing right now, Derek and the Dominoes rubbing shoulders with Japan and Uriah Heep and some truly beautiful Hollies albums, not sure how they sound but the sleeves drew me in as they sat there for two dollars a piece.

Sitting here with the cataclysmic assault on the ears happening, the strange sense of disquiet and concern that the music creates in the listener. Uncomfortableness that draws you in, feedback, melody, beauty and pain. It’s a trip, like Floyd never stopped playing Careful With That Axe Eugene.

It’s beautiful music, it really is, it is however not always for the feint hearted although it us uplifting.

If your sense of fun is sitting in the dark and playing music at the level that is barely audible in order to catch every note, and then blasting it as loud as you can the next day to experience every note on a physical level then this is the very album to do that with. There are nuances and moments that are verging on the angelic and terrifying within moments of each other.

At the end of the day I have no idea what the whole mess is about but in the words of Neil Diamond:

“It’s a beautiful noise
Made of joy and of strife
Like a symphony played
By a passing parade
It’s the music of life”

Who knew that the Diamond one was a GSY!BE fan,

Get back on it…

There is an essential truth, we should all be aware of and accept.

Neil Young was born to rock, he will never be an opera star.

Re-ac-tor, may not be the greatest album ever made by Neil Young, it is probably a footnote in the Youngian canon, however after a weird weekend of emotional highs and lows it is exactly the Neil Young album to play.

I have been trying to explain my love of this album for years. The lyrics often suck, and it occasionally sounds out of tune. It heralded the 80’s for Neil Young with a fierce annoyance, it was also the last album on Reprise for awhile and may be the album David Geffen wished Neil would give him by about half way through the decade.

It is a forty minute slice of aggressive guitaring with fundamentally silly lyrics and very little direction and it’s silly. For some reason I have two copies of the record, a CD and a cassette that I have nothing to play it on. The other day I listened to it on the Neil Young Archives.

So what we have is an album containing songs about, opera, drugs, cars trains, meat and border violence. Maybe its a more relevant album than I thought.

come crawl up to your window…

I am all in favor of turning it up, there is however something magical that happens when you turn it down and record it on one microphone. Whites Off Earth Now is the first album by the Cowboy Junkies. It is mostly a collection of blues standards, a Springsteen and one original.

The claustrophobic, intimate sound of the album turns those blues standards into almost lethargic charged paeans to sex and rock and roll. The pace of the album makes it the perfect soundtrack to the day after the night before. The bass slinks along under Margo Timmins languid slurred vocals and the drums and guitar thread their way through the whole thing.

Damn it’s a dirty album.

Of course the album cover looks like it was recorded by a bunch of nerdy kids one afternoon, it should be full of perky, happy power pop. It should not be wallowing in the muck that is found on the floor of a juke joint the morning after.

I got the vision but it caused division…

The much derided and ridiculed Christian period for Zimmy has even been ignored by him until we hit Vol 13 with the Bootleg Series.

Maybe there is a reason the Dylan organization waited until Vol 13. Maybe that unlucky number with some of the most impassioned playing and singing may reach the heathen masses. Dylan may have said he was never born again, he never said he never got religion.

There is something truly immediate, passionate and engaging about Trouble No More. It’s sincere and compelling and in your face. It was three years of touring filled with ridicule and boos. The playing and singing however is some of the best you will hear from Dylan and any of his bands.

Songs that seem trite and formulaic on the albums live become dangerous and imperative. Singing that is hesitant in the studio becomes fiery.

Let’s face it Dylan has always had something of the apocalyptic visionary about him, whether it’s Hard Rain or Gates of Eden or Slow Train.

The collection is musically rewarding and lyrically challenging, there is a lot of sense being sung in retrospect and like every sincere song ever sung they are worth hearing. Is Zimmy going to evangelize you or turn you off, I have no idea. He will make you think and lets face it he immersed himself in this music for three years almost exclusively avoiding his hits to get this message out. So maybe on that basis alone it deserves to be re-examined.

I sat down tonight thinking I would make it through one side and have to take my time to get through the box. Several hours later I just put away LP 4 having played the whole thing. The collection is revelatory, other Bootleg series have confirmed how great the period it covers was for Dylan. This box redefines the evangelical period by giving you what that sounded like live.

It’s not hip to like religious music, we do however give Beethoven and Brahms their chance with it, so why not Dylan. Maybe we prefer to have our rock stars strung out and hedonistic than sincere and preaching. Who knows?

Ry, David and Jim…

I have never seen the movie Paris, Texas. There is probably a good chance I will never see it. Not that it does not deserve to be seen, it’s just that there is not enough time to see all the movies I think I may want to or need to see.

So what I am left with is the soundtrack. It is nothing short of beautiful.

I have a tendency to avoid soundtracks. I own a few and they fall into the category so far of either Tangerine Dream, Ry Cooder or there is a Peter Gabriel song on there that cannot be found anywhere else, I also have the required nostalgia fest of Pretty In Pink because it was there. I seem to have never actually seen any of the movies of the soundtracks I own.

There is not really a theme here other than I obviously do not watch too many movies. In fact most of my viewing seems to be Star Trek and it’s many offshoots right now.

So what Ry Cooder has created here is a truly amazing, atmospheric and haunting collection of soundscapes. Its minimalist and rich in it’s minimalism. You get lost in the motifs and melodies that conjure up the desolation and beauty of the desert. I have never been to Texas, I do however now have a desire to do so. It may be easier to watch the movie though.

Based on the cover alone, the movie is probably lonesome drifter searching for the love of his life and his sone he lost in some tragic manner.