Some albums carry a heaviness in their name. They are allegedly significant, important, inspiring. They take on a relevance and reverence that perhaps the creators did not intend. Maybe it’s just a big joke.

Late one night, namely Tuesday night, I had a desire to hear No Pussyfooting by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. It has been at least twenty years since I last heard it. I started thinking about it, I remembered how it made me feel, slightly uneasy and yet relaxed. I turned to on-line shopping, as Mr Fripp tends to not allow things to be available for streaming.  Discogs and eBay had copies that were silly priced, now I was sweating a little in desperation to hear the album again. In despair I turned to Amazon, they had it new. Sanctioned by Fripp and Eno even.

IMG_7904It’s strange what the memory of music can do to you. I can remember sitting in my small room at the top of the stairs, sliding No Pussyfooting out of it’s sleeve and placing it on the turntable. Prior to that I can remember finding it in the library in Huyton. Comparing the card of surface scratches and scuffs, to the vinyl, reading the notes of the librarian about condition and making the decision to borrow based on the names on the front. Fripp and Eno, two enigmatic musicians coming from two different branches of the same tree. I rode the bus home looking at that strange repeating image in mirrors, two aliens facing each other. A tarot deck on the table in front of them.  There was something mysterious going to happen here. It was going to change my life in some way, make things different, better more intense. The instuments listed as guitar and tape deck, synthesizer, the titles enigmatic and ridiculous at the same time. There was something whimsical and simultaneoulsy irreverant about the whole album.

So I played it again, all these thoughts came back to me and I was 16 again laying with headphones on the floor of my small room as this strange music invaded my brain. It’s an album that causes your mind to wander, pick up thoughts and let them drop, forget what you were thinking and then think again. It’s music that seems to move at it’s own pace. Intangible and yet solid, it is the dialectic, the strange orchestral sounds and searing guitar.

Thats bullshit, it’s a cool weird messed up trip of an album, that unlike psychedelia is fueled not by the attempt to take you out there but the attempt to take you in there, wherever there may be.

That’s bullshit too, it’s just a great experiment that was largely ignored by the record company, an excursion by two maverick’s intent on doing what they wanted.

My favorite thought is that it was recorded with a picture ripped from a pornographic magazine featuring naked nazi’s in order that the musicians not take themselves too seriously. It’s the beginning of Frippertronics and the start of Eno’s fascination with ambient music it’s a divergence that became the beginning of something else.

Now that’s pretentious B.S. if I ever wrote it…

Just remember it’s the soundtrack to a shabby ripped out porno pic…

I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home…

Siting here in the limbo of paying rent and a mortgage simultaneously the only sane thing to do is buy some more records. Many of the usual outlets, discogs, Amazon and eBay are out of reach as frankly I have no cash.

The answer obviously is the charity/thrift shop. The delights of the record pile in the thrift store are few and far between. Hidden amongst the Streisand and Manilow was this familiar gem.


Let’s be honest this looks like a bunch of amateurs hanging out in their mothers basement rather than the super group it really was. A wonderfully low-tech album sleeve in replacement of the less acceptable original cover.

The sleeve looks as if it has been used as a floor mat and there was an unsavory look to the vinyl. This really was a desperation buy on some level. Everything cleaned up well. I did apply judicious use of disinfectant to the cover wondering what toxic germs I may be bringing home.

This is the first time I have ever heard this album, I have overcome many of my Clapton biases over the years, even going to see him live once, which was enjoyable if not awe inspiring.

So I have decided to look on this as a Hawkwind, Spencer Davis Group, Family and John Mayall Bluesbreakers off-shoot album.

I am not one for lists and am not good at keeping to a yearly theme so we will see what this year brings. Probably a lot of thrift store shopping, the leftovers of the obsessive collectors who have the leisure time to get there at opening.

There is also our big construction project going on, over the last six months we have been working on moving to ten acres we bought. This is a strange experience waiting for the county to approve septic systems, wells etc. The biggest challenge right now is the house has to be 70 feet form the creek, 10 feet from the neighbors property line and 3o feet from the road. This seems easy but our place is zoned forest and we have 1 acre to fit things like a house on. It’s a puzzle as Shawn the builder says but we will overcome.

It’s a message from an ancestor who lived a long time ago…

Some musicians are a genre unto themselves, some musicians see no boundaries, some musicians are a force for good in the world and some exemplify the word cool. Taj Mahal is all those things. He never disappoints live or recorded.

So here we have 1974 and Taj is out there covering his roots, reggae, funk, blues some proto-disco grooves (I just created that phrase right now) and folk music. Who gets to cover The Slickers Johnny Too Bad and Marley’s Slave Driver and get away with it and sing in at least three languages on one record? It’s the type of music that makes a middle aged white guy dance or at least nod his head contentedly.

It is also the coolest album cover I have seen in a long time.


Exorcise the beast…

There are finer Tull albums without doubt. There are even better albums in general I am sure. This however was my admission to all things Tull. It all began in a murky bedroom in West Derby as John the crazed bearded red head fanatic took the time to explain to me how this was the greatest album I would hear this year, the year being 1982. I am sure that it was not true that this was the greatest album I ever heard in 1982, it did however result in me going to see Fairport Convention at the Southport Arts Center as Dave Pegg was in both bands and then to Cropredy.

John convinced me to go see the band live. I was enthralled at the time by the willingness of a grown man to prance around the stage in a codpiece and gurn his way through one legged flute playing. The tour also had the most absurd pirate ship stage set and was actually the epitome of everything punk had been angry about, this only made it more enjoyable on some level. Over the following years I saw more members of Fairport Convention play in both bands and enjoyed Mr Anderson’s appearances at Cropredy.

So if you want to hear a Tull album that is entirely competent, hits all the Tull buttons, sometimes too hard. You can even take the time to air guitar your way through some of Martin Barre’s rockier moments you don’t need to go further than Broadsword and The Beast. It also has some nice folkier elements throughout.

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Gimme some more…

Every day I drive past a house with a confederate flag flying in the yard.

Every day I wonder what this means to the owner and ultimately to me.

Every day I think something along the lines that there will always be the ignorant out there flying their flags of hatred and intolerance.

I don’t buy the idea that flying that flag is a gesture of defiance to a government that does not represent the people, although watching the orange man on t.v. I may have to reconsider exactly who is being represented by whom these days.

Today as I drove past that very house Ain’t Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo’) by Taj Mahal was playing. I came home and put The Real Thing on and basked in the brilliance of a blues band playing with  four tuba’s as a stone cold genius whistled over the whole mess of blues.


I am not sure if music can make all things better but the very best records can make you forget for awhile and give you the strength to stand up and be counted.

The Real Thing is one of those albums that just make you smile from start to finish. It is a joyful celebration of the blues, it’s bawdy, raunchy and raw and a whole lot of fun in a swaggering mess of music.

The brilliance of this album is encapsulated in the 19 minutes of You Ain’t No Street Walker Mama, Honey but I Sure Do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff. Which while being an epic jam is not your noodling deadhead version of the blues but the type of blues that drags your whiskey soaked soul through the swamp to leave you sobbing at the crossroads and wondering what type of lost soul flies the flag of hatred for all to see.

I truly believe sometimes late at night that if we just managed to get the hateful to hear the right records we would have hope as a species. We would be able to fix the planet heal the rifts between people and feed the hungry. We may even manage to dance a little and sing what we really need though is more tubas…


If you want to get into it, you’ve got to get out of it…

In a fit of nostalgic insanity or fanboy lust, whichever makes the most sense I just managed to acquire Choose Your Masques by Hawkwind.IMG_6758

I believe this may be the result of the regression caused by too much Dungeons and Dragons or a physical real time in the moment acknowledgement that Hawkwind are actually in my DNA and I will always have some amount of affection for just about every album.

Of course the albums from the 80’s while not even close to the peaks of the early 70’s are the albums I bought on the day they came out. These are the concerts I went to three or four times a year until the early 90’s. This is the band that I saw at countless festivals and despite their silly name I still mumble as my favorite when asked by anyone who your favorite band is.  This causes some puzzled looks in the USA, of course my back up favorite does the same with Airport Convention.

The truth is that at this age I am well past having to feel ashamed of the music I listen to, this is the realm of the teenager or adulting and not the grizzled veteran of the rock’n’roll wars I have become. So these days Graham Parker, the Grateful Dead, Hawkwind and Sabbath rub shoulders with Fleet Foxes and Iron and Wine and others happily filling the gaps between the constant hubbub that life sometimes feels like it has become.

So Hawkwind really are a part of my DNA, that part that confuses doctors and passersby.


Turning star projections, voices from the deep…

There’s something about the first time. Whichever first time it might be. The anticipation, the breathless rush to conclusion, the ultimate depression as it ends and then the relentless search for the next time.

Gigs are like that, especially if your 16 year old self has taken the time to commit to memory as much of the discography of a favorite band as you won. You desperately, buy the ticket, arrange the gig companionship and set off into the night full of expectation.

You take your seat and feverishly, drunkenly attempt to hold in the excitement. The band emerges through a cloud of smoke and then only play three songs you know from the twelve played and two of the twelve are weird electronic bleepy things that do not end in the expected chaos of guitars and drumming. It is however deafeningly loud and overwhelming and shit it’s Hawkwind right there on stage blowing your mind. Yes there is no Lemmy and isn’t that Gongs keyboard player up there but the Captain is there and all is well and that’s Simon King on drums so we are good, and wasn’t the guitar player on the first album?

Being hard up for cash I had only heard three Hawkwind albums at this stage, and the callow Joy Division fans at school would sneer at the mention of Hawkwind. Those being the first album, Hall of the Mountain Grill and Space Ritual so all the Calvert songs and the then unreleased songs from Levitation were strange creatures. However my tiny teen mind was duly blown and I hung on every word of the grizzled creatures around me who mumbled of the anarchy of gigs gone by. There was however no Time We Left This World Today, but the strange metal punk Brainstorm more than made up for any thoughts that this was not Hawkwind.

All of this strolled through my mind as I played my newly purchased copy of Live ’79 that  memorializes this anarchic tour before Ginger ruined the gig with a drum solo. It also has one of the most awfully garish album covers of all time.


After this show Hawkwind became a fixture of the calendar for me, if they played on a train or bus line I was there, screaming with the other idiots into the all encompassing noisfest that was a Hawkwind gig.

Do you live in a dream or do you live in reality?

Being a fan of the Kinks I could not resist buying the new Ray Davies album Americana. It’s helped along by the Jayhawks being the backing band.

My first take on the whole thing is it is a fine album. A reflection on Davies relationship with the USA, definitely a timely release as that most English of songwriters tackles his love of all things American. A love that has been evident in the past with songs such as Oklahoma USA from Muswell Hillbillies.

The whole album has caused my brain to start working overtime as I consider my own relationship to my adopted home, my reluctance to become a citizen and the current political landscape. Heady stuff at the end of the night. I am sure there is a lengthier post in this idea somewhere.

The record is however 4 sides of great songwriting that is related to Davies book of the same name in some way. Now I have to go read the book I suppose.


Blip bleep swoooooosh…

I’ve had a strange relationship to the music of Tangerine Dream. It’s a music that really has affected me deeply over the years. There is more to them than the soundtracks but its so hard to know were to begin that I mostly stay with what I know.

IMG_6579I have a love for a certain type of Tangerine Dreams music. I cannot fully describe it but Atem and Alpha Centauri and especially Zeit capture it. Vaguely terrifying, threatening and all encompassing.

These three albums were the soundtrack of a summer in the late 80’s for me. I was living on a street near Sefton Park. Spending the days laying on the floor in the middle of the living room of the two room bedsit that the then love of my life rented, staying as still as possible and feeling the music. There was a coffee table a stereo and a some comfy pillows in the room as well as two lamps that had the shades covered with red gauzy type material.

We lolled around in the throes of young love and the strange bleeps, blips and drones of IMG_6578these three albums. For relief we would play Klaus Schulze’s Irrlicht and stay as still as possible. Sometimes nodding off to wake to silence, other times hanging on waiting for the next change in mood subtle as it may be.

I remember the feeling that the air in the room was filled entirely by the music. The thought that you could not move because there was no room to move, every space was taken with those sounds. It was not and still is not a music you can easily share, people hearing it are dumfounded, disturbed and unsettled. It’s difficult all encompassing music.

For some reason a vegan diet and abstaining from alcohol was part of the experience. If it wasn’t my need for melody and a catchy song I may still be laying there drinking it all in man. The scent of patchouli and vegetarian samosas filling the air.

Zeit arrived today and I am a little afraid to play it so went with Phaedra instead, the sequencers and mellotron and sweeping sounds are more soothing and restful. I have a feeling that there may be an evening ahead with a red light and Zeit playing at volume. It may come in August as the total eclipse hits Oregon. I think it may be sooner though as the strange otherworldly sounds are already calling to me from the cover alone.

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It’s got everything…

In the midst of the Joy Division obsessed sixth form at my school there were several moments of insanity that stick in my mind.

The day that Made In Japan was placed on the common room turntable (yes it was one of IMG_6461those types of schools) with the immortal words of “just one track” mumbled was one of those days. The hairy young man placed side four on the table and sat back as all 20 minutes of Space Truckin’ unfolded.

“The fireball that we rode was moving
But now we’ve got a new machine
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah the freaks said
Man those cats can really swing”

The very serious young men in their long black overcoats were in a state of shock and cried into their cups of tea. In no way would the words cat or swing ever pass their lips unless it was about an actual cat. Distorted feed backing pseudo classical soloing on the guitar was something they were unfamiliar with and the screaming of the vocalist caused them significant visible pain it seemed.

Nobody moved to take the album off as it seemed the whole room was frozen by the audacity of the long haired pimply teenager. After the song ended he stepped to the machine, slipped the record in it’s sleeve and left Made In Japan clutched under his arm.

The whole room was silent. Something monumental had happened the gloomy sway of Joy Division had been broken by the neanderthals in denim and leather, anything was now possible, at least for a brief time.

On the way home I stopped at the record store and bought Made In Japan and ever since it has been my shield against the encroaching darkness. I firmly believe if Deep Purple MK II reformed they would be able to turn back the tide of gloom and lies that are enveloping us at present. It really is time to let that freak flag fly I think.