I Hate The ****** Eagles

Well I don’t really hate them but I was thinking how much great music there was being made at the time the Eagles were formed, some of it even being made by members of The Eagles. I also fall on the Dudes side of preferring Creedence to The Eagles every time.

It was a rich time in music and I am by no means an expert but here you have it my Spotify playlist of tracks other than The Eagles that embody that laid back California feel from the period of the late 60’s to the early 70’s. It just seems that The Eagles collectively took everything that was great about the cross-pollination of rock and country music and made it insipid and safe. while simultaneously convincing the world that they were the greatest band from California.

So judge for yourself and investigate those other bands it really is a rich vein, especially Manassas.

It’s not that The Eagles were bad, it’s just they seemed to have no passion, they even took one of the most inventive, crazy fun guitarists in Joe Walsh and toned him down, I have no idea how that happens, maybe the drugs

Usually after almost a year of absence I would begin with some reason but I lost interest and that is pretty much it. Maybe this is a new wind who knows, probably helps I have been sick for a week.

Most of the Time

The thing about being a child of the late 70s and 80s is that the perception is there was no good music. The sixties had the revolution of music, the 70’s had the excesses of rock and then the purge of punk. The eighties according to most writers had post punk and little else of note. How sad to be defined as after something else, of course we brought this upon ourselves with New Romantics, awful synths and gated drums. The decade fashion forgot etc. the slurs go on and on. Forever defined musically as the moment between punk and grunge that had no redeeming features. Well as one who lived through the rejected decade I have to say there was some good in there, yes you had to search between Wham and Duran Duran but it was there honest.

I remember a summer spent on the LLeyn Peninsula in North Wales, all I had for company was a copy of Pink Floyd’s the Wall, Rumours  and Live by Fleetwood Mac and every science fiction novel they had for sale in small gift shops at the beach. It was a heavenly summer, the one that stands in my mind as perfect.Llyn peninsula Two weeks in a small cottage in Wales, with no worries, I think it was the year before O. Levels so it was relatively stress free, the next year I was waiting for O. Level results, it rained continuously and the house felt like the walls were closing in. That was the year we went home early, never to go back to that house.

Back to 1981, Ghost Town by the Specials on the radio everywhere we went, that and I Don’t Like Monday’s by the Boom Town Rats which was the song most often played on the pub juke box my parents dragged me to some evenings. All the girls seemed to be wearing yellow that year and have Stevie Nick’s hair. Sat on the beach I read Philip K. Dick, Clarke, Heinlein and as much Moorcock as I could find, I swam in the cold Irish Sea, snorkeled around the crusted rocks and sank the stupid canoe, climbed on cliff faces, fished with my Dad and learned how to cook crab. It was that idyllic summer that in a Stephen King novel would have turned to terror but in reality was just a wonderful lazy summer that you forever try to reach again. I don’t think my parents ever realized what they gave me although I have tried to tell them.

Which all has nothing to do with the music of the eighties in the end apart from to say those albums are etched in my mind as the soundtrack to my youth. In 1982 I went to Cropredy and then other festivals throughout the decade. I was introduced to Richard Thompson’s music and discovered a more roots based music than my contemporaries were listening too. I also became a pretentious ass, preferring the Barrett Floyd to the Gilmour/Waters version which meant I had to listen to the Dark Side of the Moon and Animals in the closet.

The music I remember from that era now is Julian Cope, the Teardrop Explodes, the Icicle Works and Waterboys and also Robyn Hitchcock. I still return to that music even now. I also have a fondness for Here and Now who seemed to be on every festival stage passing the hat around.  My wife was very much in the Benatar, Idol, Journey and Foreigner camp. I remember listening and on strange occasions dancing to it in smoky Liverpool clubs but have to admit I don’t return to it. The biggest musical constants in my life though had to Fairport Convention and Hawkwind. I always seemed to be going to a Hawkwind gig or planning for the next and saving for Cropredy, or going to the seemingly endless tours a band that had split up constantly was on.

It could be a little odd at times to watch your peers succumbing to the synth pop agenda, of course now I can enjoy Depeche Mode and Ultravox along with Japan and the others but at the time it was anathema. So I ended up spending time looking for those lost gems of the 70’s and 60’s and actually becoming more pretentious than my lip stick wearing contemporaries, it also meant I missed out on the Jam, Elvis Costello and other joys through having my head so far up my own behind. I did allow myself as mentioned earlier to enjoy some contemporary music but it had to be performed by relative failures, if it was on top of the pops it sucked if it was on the Tube it was cool etc.

Anyway here is the mix of what I was allowing people to know what I was listening to during that weird strange period. As I made this I realized that with the exception of Hitchcock and the Icicle Works I discovered most of the other music of the eighties once the period was over. I guess I was more pretentious than I realized, although that may be the reason for a blog at the end of the day.

The mix:  https://anonfiles.com/file/fb2b53d006e85fdf82774ffedb437222

 

 

Play Me My Song

Been a few weeks, it’s not like I was busy I just had little or really nothing to say.

There has been much music and a few books, the books are mostly about work, Farrell’s the Myth of Male Power and Gurian’s How Do I Help Him? Both are really useful if you live with a man or boy, or work with one.

With science fiction. I became disappointed by Frederick Pohl’s Gateway, it was an incredible idea but the main character was so unlikable.gateway It was set in a universe were humanity was a disposable commodity, starvation the norm and medical care something to be striven for, far too close to reality at times maybe? It’s a shame as I’ve really enjoyed the other Pohl books I’ve read.

It  has been a struggle to read, I have spent much more time watching TV, Glee, Once Upon A Time, the new season of Grimm and the new Sherlock Holmes show Elementary, although there is no need for the Sherlock connection apart from to attract an audience which I guess it did with me. Most promising worst TV has to be Arrow, it’s so out there and yet cliched that we may become hooked and another season of Being Human.

Thanksgiving has now come and gone, the turkey, well most of it, is eaten and all that is left is the remains. The carcass may be destined for soup but by then we may be tired of turkey all together. It was a good day and as an Englishman living in the USA it is my favorite holiday as there is no pressure to bring a gift for anyone.

Musically it has been a Genesis fest,revisitiedI am not ready to admit that Duke is my favorite but it is the one I know all the words to. This all began with Steve Hackett’s latest Genesis revisited album. Out of curiosity I bought it and the versions on the album were so close but the singing so different I had to revisit the originals. Of course Gabriel’ s  reading of the lyrics will always be the best but Hackett has managed to revisit the songs with enough passion to make the album enjoyable.

Genesis are a band I have obsessed over as much if not more than Fairport Convention and Pink Floyd. They are also the band I have managed to shamefully hide my love of over the years. Let’s face it they are not as acceptable as most of their much more pompous contemporaries. It is still alright to love Yes, enjoy ELP and King Crimson have become beattified. Genesis however largely because of their success in the 80’s have become the prog band everyone loves to ridicule. Even in their 80’s shame they could still knock out Mama or Heathaze, yes they would never sing about giant plants, supper, or mythical beasts but they could still crack the 8 minute barrier when they wanted to and the magic of Genesis was always the melodies. Even if their guitarist invented tapping they were never going to shake their heads although their lead singer might fly and wear a flower or foxes head and a dress.

Genesis were never as flamboyant as a whole, they left that up to the singer.gen gabriel They did however always have a pop sensibility that could be heard in their melodies. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway may be an almost indecipherable prog rock masterpiece but it is filled with 4-5 minute classic songs, the longest being In The Cage. It is a series of short songs tied together by an at best tenuous story, and what other English band would attempt to write the bizarre story of a Puerto Rican punk sucked into the underworld from Times Square. Carpet Crawlers, Fly On A Windshield and the others are all great songs that do not rely on the story to carry them, they succeed almost despite the story.

When Gabriel left the melodies remained and the costumes and theatrics left, Collins filled the void with his charm. For some reason Collins is blamed for the demise of Genesis but they entered their most successful phase with him out front. Yes they got more approachable as a band but they always acknowledged their prog roots, live and even on record. We Can’t Dance had Fading Lights to end the album, it was a brave move for a “pop” band to throw a 10 minute track on an album, Invisible Touch had Domino and the Genesis album had Home By The Sea and 2nd Home By the Sea, all adventurous tracks nestled among the pop songs.

gensis collinsThe Collin’s years also had A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering, two albums filled with progressive masterpieces such as One For The Vine, Ripples and so many others. Live they were still knocking out White Mountain and Supper’s Ready almost to the end. The true reason for fans distaste is that they actually progressed as a band and allowed their love of pop music to spill out and become part of their sound. Without some of that awful 80’s production the albums would have sounded so much better but that was the time.

Well this post has been a long time coming. It’s kind of fun to put my love of Genesis out there. I watched Prog Rock Brittania the other day on youtube, it’s a fascinating look at the Prog movement and how it is viewed as the porn of music, anyway take a look it;s wirth the hour and a half:

If after all that you want to listen to Genesis here is my considered list:

Nursery Cryme

Foxtrot

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Wind and Wuthering

Seconds Out

Duke

Of course you could just go an immerse yourself in the music and have fun with all the albums.

I started writing this in November and so much has happened since then, anyway my hope for this New Year is that we pay attention this year to our similarities and not be so focused on our differences and that politicians can look beyond their reelection hopes.

Send an instant karma to me, initial it with loving care

Living in a house with 3 teenage boys can be different, well two are teens and one is almost. There is a constant cacophony of musical styles throughout the house. The Wu Tang Clan clash with Rush, Dizzy Gillespie, Mumford and Sons and Marcey’s Playground. There is no defined musical identity in the house, car or yard. It’s really very refreshing and surprising. The boys have taken Spotify to heart and are eager to experiment with whatever they can hear following suggested lists to the next album or artist ever curious on a musical journey.  And that’s the music they are listening to not the music they are playing.

Of course all this is off-set by Michelle insisting on listening to Jimmy Buffett who may quite likely be the anti-christ when it comes to music, his margarita’s and hush puppies can stop any intimation of dancing. “None of you understand” insists Michelle, “We don’t need to. ” Is the reply. Of course it takes all sorts as evidenced by my affection for Neil Diamond, Shirley Bassey and the Monkees.

It’s a loud happy house most of the time, music, laughter and every night around eight Chris will shout “Are we going to watch something?”

It’s also at times a really messy house, socks at the foot of the stairs, shirts on the back of chairs and feet on the furniture and the dog racing around. My wife is a saint, there is no disputing this.

This week I’ve been mining the darker side of my musical leanings, by that I mean prog rock, post punk and the oddness that is art rock. Actually on reflection it was a pretty eclectic week after all. It’s been different sitting down to listen and appreciate and be still with the music.

So it’s time to get pretentious:

The music this week has been a little on the art rock side, or pretentious shall we say.

Dr John, the Night Tripper with Gris Gris. Louisiana mysticism meets jazz, blues and rock. Not only is Dr John one of the great arrangers of rock but he has a voice that drips with experiences the listener can only guess at, and at times be afraid of. This is the voice of a man wrestling with his demons.

Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Jets, post-punk before punk, weird shambolic pop sculpture, violent beautiful and just plain out there. Brian Eno is one of the geniuses of pop music and Here Come The Warm Jets announced that to the world, no longer was he the strange man in the corner with Roxy Music but a songwriter using keyboards in ways that others could not even imagine. Of course Ennosification became a description of the sound on albums by Genesis and Bowie and all those post-punk bands thought they had created that strange alien sound. Baby’s On Fire has Fripp’s greatest solo, in fact it seems to be a song based on that solo.

Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted was next. Real post-punk with a big dose of the Fall in place. A piece of it’s time, fun but ultimately a period piece. I think I missed this in the 80’s and while I can appreciate it it does not hold me as something to go back to.

John Cale-Paris 1919, it’s Cale it’s accessible, this makes it different.

New band of the week: Galley Beggar with the album Reformation House, this sounds like it could have been performed by Fairport Convention in one of their many Hey Day’s. It’s a wonderful album hearkening back to the 70’s folk-rock so many including myself love, their website is her:

http://www.galleybeggar.com/wordpress/

The week has ended listening to Van the Man’s Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, this is a bit of a disappointment but everyone is allowed a bad one.

We also rocked out in an early 70’s manner to the wonderful Yes Album by Yes. This is their greatest moment when they still had not reached the cape wearing pretensions Rick Wakeman would bring with him. Released the same year as Fragile it is head and shoulders above that album for greatness, of course there is vague science fiction lyrics and the necessary weirdness of Anderson’s strange personal mythology but it just rocks.

I’m writing this listening to Play by Field Music. Their version of Syd Barrett’s Terrapin makes this worth the cost, although Field Music are one of the great new bands out there to be heard.

Slide Through My Fingers

The great musical journey continues along with the reading, sometimes at the same time.

The music today has been Tame Impala, an Australian band that is at times channeling Pink Floyd and T-Rex at the same time. A truly psychedelic experience and nowhere near the list in the 1000 Recordings book but hey this is my journey.

So it’s Tame Impala and the self titled ep, it’s strange to call a CD an ep, as that was originally an extra play single  usually  four songs instead of two, in the 80’s they always seemed to be of the 12 inch variety and have pointlessly meandering remixes or extended versions, these are now what fills up the “deluxe” edition of any CD that gets the “deluxe” treatment.

Tame Impala-Lonerism was next which definitely has expanded on the sonic palette of the ep. Much more of a Flaming Lips feel to this one but definitely worth the listen.

The drive into work was accompanied by Crosby Stills and Nash, which really is a masterpiece, well the drive was only Suite: Judy Blue Eyes but I did hear the rest driving around.

Reading wise the science fiction continues, I have been reading Gavin Smith’s military science fiction novel Veteran. I am only about a third of the way into it but the characters are engaging and I have no idea were the story is going which for military science fiction is a good thing. A strange war in space being fought by modified humans who when they reach the end of usefulness are discarded by the government to live in squalor, and in the case of Jacob the main character knowing they can be brought back into service.

At the same time I continue with the Neil Young biography. Diversions and then information in equal measure.

Should have been a no-brainer, David Byrne and Brian Eno My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, two geniuses playing off each other. It’s universally acclaimed but just left me cold. I get the idea world music and electronica but for me it just does not work, it’s too difficult, too clever, too self conscious. I’m not sure what it is but I love both these artists and am a little saddened I did not get this. I can’t even say it was a brave attempt although there must be something there for so many to rave about it. Or maybe it’s a big joke and we have been convinced by the hype that we should like it.

Another hyped album though with Todd by Todd Rundgren, again it’s taken awhile but I finally took the plunge and it is a collection of quirky and inventive pop songs that are captivating as well as challenging.

More normal has been Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall in 1971, this a great document of the early Neil Young, many songs from the first four albums performed solo. It is amazing that this album took so long to be released and makes you question what else is hiding out in the archives on the ranch. I’ve been avoiding Neil Young since beginning the book, mainly because I can become a little obsessed at times and did not want to be a total freak for a week.

Playing the whole album is difficult it seems. I have become so used to the constant change of sounds that it’s a little hard to stay  in the moment with an album. I hear moments that make me want to skip to another artist as my mind has been triggered, Playing CSN always reminds me of Yes, I think Anderson and co. must have been listening to the harmonies on the first CSN album when they recorded The Yes Album. The urge to search out Yes halfway through Lady of the Islands was almost overwhelming. I have always had the tendency to flit around often not even listening to the whole song. This has apparently got worse over the most recent years. This may be a useful discipline to practice, listening.

To finish the week off in the Jeep was Bongo Fury by Zappa and Beefheart. It’s amusing to me that once you own a Wrangler it’s no longer the car, or truck but the Jeep. Bongo Fury was particularly fun as I pulled into the bank that was having a Justin Bieber promotional event, I have no idea why. The look of confusion on the attendees face was worth going to the bank for, there was a moment of disgust at the strangeness of the rhythms and then Beefhearts voice took it over the edge.

Then there was Green on Reds No Free Lunch, haven’t heard them since the 90’s but some great memories of dancing in the dark at the Bierkeller on Mt. Pleasant in Liverpool. This was a fun place I almost remember seeing Big Audio Dynamite and many a Roy Haper gig here.

Saturday night was finished off with Michael Chapman’s Fully Qualified Survivor. This is a great folk-rock album although some would like to call it psych-folk whatever that means.

I just realized I could get really pretentious doing this, so I’m going to do my best not to. There are so many albums I have never gone near or been afraid of going near, so the library will get a work out for sure. There is also so much new music being produced that it could get confusing.

I finished the Neil Young book this afternoon. It was a great ride, repetitive at times although I cannot Imagine it being edited. A real attempt by Neil to settle some rumors and come to terms with some tough decisions and losses in his life.

Mind Gardens

It’s a world of sound bites, nothing is more apparent as we enter the week of the presidential debates starting. It was even a day when Bill O’Reilly said the word zinger. So as information gets more compressed to almost meaningless moments held separate from context or meaning I have to ask the question:

When was the last time you listened to the whole album?

Of course in the i-tunes world we can choose the playlist or let the genius button do it for us, We don’t have to appreciate the running order or track list, the artistry of compiling a whole  piece an experience if you like. Also there appear to be more greatest hits packages than ever before allowing us to only hear the songs that the compiler considers greatest. With artists that specialized in the long extended album this can get difficult and don’t mention the box set and what that has done to us. Then there is the extended, repackaged album with extras and extras on top of the extras. We have chopped, cut up, compressed compiled and boxed our way so far away from the listening experience it is hard to know if any one knows what the album used to mean.

Don’t get me wrong I love my i-pod with it’s playlists and random play function as much as the next person obsessed with technology. I was excited when technology allowed us to burn our own compilations on CD and the mp3 playlist in the car is a life saver at times. I have to admit though that I have gone away from listening to the album in order, the ebb and flow of the music as it unveils itself the way the artist compiled it, with no extras or outtakes. I don’t miss the crackle of old vinyl though but I do miss the album sleeves with their art work and folds and creases and information.

I miss music being a shared experience now we are all plugged into our ear buds and private worlds. We share playlists on spotify and social networking sites rather than passing around albums or inviting a friend over to hang out and listen. I remember when Blind by the Icicle Works was released gathering in a dingy smoky room to play the record. We played it three times that night trying to make sense of the various stylistic turns the band were making on every cut. We did the same when Dave bought Sheikh Yerbouti by Zappa, laughing at the coarse humor and wondering at the music, there was eight of us in the room talking laughing and arguing about the music. Last week I bought Tempest by Dylan, well I downloaded it, listened on ear buds and then told my son he should put it on his     i-pod. At no point have we played it together or talked about the music or lyrics.

This weekend I was in the library and found 1000 Recording You Should Listen to Before You Die by Tom Moon, he has a blog here:

http://www.1000recordings.com/

Looking at the book I thought about changing my listening habits. For a year I am only going to listen to whole albums. Maybe not the list in the book but albums I find important to me. I am going to rediscover old favorites, listen to new recordings and maybe even invite some friends over to listen along at times. I am going to play albums as I cook, drive and hang out.  I am going to limit the use of ear buds to walks, runs and mowing the lawn, I am going to share the music with the people I love and talk about it again, I may even keep a record at times here if I remember.

This weeks list so far:

John Adams-Harmonium

King Sunny Ade-Best of the classic years

Ryan Adams-Heartbreaker

Frank Zappa-One Size Fits All

Mumford and Sons-Babel

The Byrds-Younger Than Yesterday

Fela Kuti-Confusion-Gentleman

Crosby Stills and Nash-1st Album

Of Monsters and Men-My Head Is an Animal

I played some of these twice it was so much fun.

I also began Neil Young’s autobiography/memoir Waging Heavy Peace which is one of the most unusually written books I have ever read. It really is liking sitting down with Neil and having a conversation. In reality if there was one artist I would love to do this with it would be Neil Young, although I would undoubtedly be so tongue tied I would never ask a question never mind actually remembering any of it.