Monday, May 30, 2011

Never Did A Thing Wrong

"Woman hold her head and cry, 'cause her son had been shot down in the street and died from a stray bullet..." Three years after Marley's grim original, Belfast's Stiff Little Fingers saw that Johnny Was didn't just fit the Kingston ghetto: it happened to be just as relevant for the situation around them in Northern Ireland. The resulting cover remains one of the most blistering examples of the punk-reggae hybrid.

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Johnny Was MP3
Stiff Little Fingers - Johnny Was MP3

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wild Weekend Vol. 61

It's the day of the Champions League final, so it sure is gonna be a mad Wild Weekend. While waiting for the kick-off in nervous anticipation, let's get down with edition #61. Spotlight on the soul of Raw Spitt and the swamp rock of the Scientists, while we've got the Blind Owl blues and listen to a reggae psalm. Make it a wild one, y'all, and don't forget: ¡Visca el Barça y visca Catalunya!

Let's get into the groove with a guy who called himself Raw Spitt. Can't go wrong with a moniker like that, right? Try his very soulful anti-Vietnam scorcher Songs To Sing from '71, and join me in wondering why this protégé of the mighty Swamp Dogg never hit the big time. Time for some bible studies now, with the one and only Prince Far I. Nearly everything the Jamaican voice of thunder put out in his long career gets me in an irie spirit, but his '76 debut Psalms For I, lyrically based on the old testament psalms and the Lord's prayer, is probably most precious of all. "Wake out of your slumber and answer your call..." Pray on.

Raw Spitt - Songs To Sing MP3
Prince Far I - Psalm 1 MP3

John Fahey's the man alright, so when one Sean Siegfried sent me a link to his Bandcamp page telling me he was heavily inspired by the steel string acoustic guitar pioneer from DC I was all ears. As you should be, too, because the guitar instrumentals on Siegfried's debut album Backwoods are - to say the least - very promising indeed. Pick it. The North Mississippi Allstars are the sons of legendary Memphis producer and session player James Luther Dickinson, and for that reason alone they can do no wrong in my book. Here they are now, serenading last week's birthday boy from Duluth. The understated arrangement was suggested to Luther and Cody Dickinson by their dad from his hospital bed, only shortly before he died. Postscript: for a labour of love containing seventy (!) more fab Dylan covers, go visit the Boogie Woogie Flu.

Sean Siegfried - Sam's Brewery MP3
North Mississippi Allstars - Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again MP3

Antipodean rockers the Scientists were grunge precursors both in sound and looks. They recorded many a great song in their early eighties heydays, but Swampland just has to be the best of them all. "In my heart there's a place called swampland... nine parts water, one part sand." No worries, mateys. And we call it a day paying tribute to Alan 'Blind Owl' Wilson (1943-1970). Never mind Bob 'The Bear' Hite, Wilson always was my fave vocalist in Canned Heat. Check out the groovin' Change My Ways, in which he sounds a likely successor to the throne of Skip James, to see what I mean. "I've been alone so long, got to change my ways..."

The Scientists - Swampland MP3
Canned Heat - Change My Ways MP3

And as a stop press bonus track, here's the wonderful Gil Scott-Heron. Just received the sad news that he died yesterday. Miss him.

Gil Scott-Heron - Lady Day And John Coltrane MP3

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Vampire Blues

"Energy vampires, crawling out of the wall, they want to steal my vitality, they want to drink it all..." A draculian six pack for your listening pleasure. Garlic and crucifixes at the ready, 'cause here they come.

The Upsetters - The Vampire MP3
Captain Beefheart - Making Love To A Vampire With A Monkey On My Knee MP3
Neil Young - Vampire Blues MP3
Peter Hammill - Energy Vampires MP3
Sebadoh - Vampire MP3
Devon Irons & Dr. Alimantado - Vampire MP3

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take A Look At My Life

Happy seventieth birthday, Bob. Forever young.

Bob Dylan - Old Man (live in Elmira '02) MP3

And as a bonus, here's a cool couple of songs from a recently unearthed, sadly incomplete but excellent soundboard tape of a Rolling Thunder Revue gig in Lowell, Massachusetts on 2 November '75.

Bob Dylan - Romance In Durango (live in Lowell '75) MP3
Bob Dylan - Isis (live in Lowell '75) MP3
Bob Dylan & Joan Baez - I Shall Be Released (live in Lowell '75) MP3

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wild Weekend Vol. 60

About time for Wild Weekend, edition 60. Afro, lofi, ancient blues and so much more for your money. Will melt away the clouds in no time. But first: a simple question.

We know by now they can play the blues (a bit), but can white boys play reggae, too? If they're true roots fans and mix it in with a punk rock background, why not? Just ask the Clash. Or the Ruts, whose angry and rootsy Jah War remains a classic in the genre. "Fighting, fighting, too close frightening..." And here's one especially for the missus. She saw Bill Callahan live in concert a couple of days ago and was mighty impressed, but couldn't remember for the life of her that we already saw the man play a couple of times when he still operated under the Smog moniker. To refresh her memory, here's the lofi and funny 37 Pushups: "I feel like Travis Bickle, I'm listening to Highway To Hell..."

The Ruts - Jah War MP3
Smog - 37 Pushups MP3

Promising new stuff up next, in the form of Two Cent Revival. From Brooklyn, where a lot of cool new bands reside at the mo, but sounding like they have a Texas - or maybe even Seattle - background. Their brooding The Devil's In This Whiskey immediately brought Mark Lanegan to mind, which is definitely a good thing. Gonna continue my obscure nineties indie fixation now with another short-lived combo you probably won't remember: Big Trouble House. Hailing from Minneapolis, they were almost inevitably raised on Soul Asylum and the Mats, which is obvious on their recommended second and last album Mouthful Of Violence.

Two Cent Revival - The Devil's In This Whiskey MP3
Big Trouble House - Union Feed Grain Mill MP3

The Library of Congress just launched a cool new website that allows listeners to stream a vast archive of more than 10,000 pre-1925 recordings of music, speeches, poetry and comedy. Much of it hasn't been widely available since World War I, so go there asap if you like old timey stuff I'd say. And since they forgot to include Ma Rainey's 1924 gem Booze & Blues for some reason, I'll put it up here. And I'll bid you farewell with a jazzy Afro scorcher by the one and only Fela Ransome Kuti. Bought a twofer of prime '75 albums I didn't own yet of the Nigerian master last week - Everything Scatter paired with Noise For Vendor Mouth - and I've been groovin' to them ever since. Go wild.

Ma Rainey - Booze & Blues MP3
Fela Kuti - Mattress MP3

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stray Dogs

Just because we haven't featured señor Waits here for a while, let's listen to a fine trio of rare late seventies outtakes. And as a bonus: a very funny live rendition of the old jazz standard Since I Fell For You.

Tom Waits - Straydog MP3
Tom Waits - What Else Is New MP3
Tom Waits - With A Suitcase MP3
Tom Waits - Since I Fell For You (live) MP3

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Short Musical History Of Evil

"I understand all destructive urges, it seems so perfect". Presenting an evil ten pack. "You better watch your happy home..."

Monster Magnet - Evil MP3
Jan Howard - Evil On Your Mind MP3
John Fahey - On Doing An Evil Deed Blues MP3
Cabaret Voltaire - A Touch Of Evil MP3
Rocket From The Crypt - Evil Party MP3
The Seeds - Evil Hoodoo MP3
Travis Wammack - Easy Evil MP3
The Pop Group - She Is Beyond Good And Evil MP3
22-Pistepirkko - Don´t Say I'm So Evil MP3
Television - See No Evil MP3

Sunday, May 15, 2011


"Once I had a girl on Rocky Top,
Half bear, the other half cat,
Wild as a mink but sweet as a soda pop,
I still dream about that..."

Can imagine, guys.

The Osborne Brothers - Rocky Top MP3

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wild Weekend Vol. 59

Back after a short hiatus for just another Wild Weekend. The weather's fine, my team just won the Spanish league for the third time in a row and is on its way to Wembley for a big showdown, and the hits just keep on coming. On to edition #59 forthwith then so, with laidback alt HipHop from Basehead, crazy rockabilly by Tyrone Schmidling, and hot toasting courtesy of Prince Jazzbo. Irie times.

But let's begin with some deep soul, confusingly known also as northern soul (because they loved it up north in England) and southern soul (because the southern US states were a hotbed of the stuff). Eddie & Ernie are sneaking and hiding in shadows, which is their way of saying they're meeting their baby at the dark end of the street. In style. From '71, and compiled on the 2nd volume of the great Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures. Some twenty years later, a just as funky Basehead relaxes with a few tall cool ones while Easy E's 8-Ball plays in the background. There's worse ways to get through a hot afternoon I guess. From the DC collective's debut Play With Toys, still one of the finest alternative HipHop albums around.

Eddie & Ernie - Hiding In The Shadows MP3
Basehead - Ode To My Favorite Beer MP3

Going on a rockabilly rampage now with Tyrone Schmidling, who ups Elvis, Scotty and Bill's I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone quite a demented notch. In '58, an unexperienced Tyrone suddenly found himself inside a recording studio, and behind a microphone at that, to record a cover of Honey Don't in one take. As he needed another tune for the flipside, he made up this beauty on the spot. Up for some new gold soundz now? In that case, try on Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter Zachary Cale, who'll release his third album Noise Of Welcome this month on the All Hands Electric label. Experimental folk with a healthy Dylan fixation, as Mourning Glory Kid shows with verve.

Tyrone Schmidling - You're Gone, I'm Left MP3
Zachary Cale - Mourning Glory Kid MP3

Gonna do the nineties indie flashback thing once again now, with the lovely but totally forgotten Virginia Dare. Mary O'Neil and co wrote sparse, intense songs with a slight country influence, and it's a shame nobody really caught on at the time. Have a taste of their How Does It Feel and try to hunt down the album (a singles compilation really) pictured above. And it's night night with Jamaican toaster Prince Jazzbo, who uses a strong Max Romeo riddim here. "Onward, forward, don't step backward..." Produced by that wizard Lee Perry of course, who clearly had himself a wild one down in his ramshackle Black Ark studio.

Virginia Dare - How Does It Feel MP3
Prince Jazzbo - Ital Corner MP3

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Meandering With The Streams

You probably know that Pink Floyd was named after two relatively obscure bluesmen. Syd Barrett came across their names in the lyrical liner notes of a Blind Boy Fuller album he owned: "Pink Anderson or Floyd Council - these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys". Must have been weird for these guys, provided they even knew, having to accept that they would forever be a footnote in musical history mainly because of a bunch of longhaired, psychedelic weirdos from Britain. Especially since their own small output wasn't half bad, as you can hear below.

Pink Anderson - Baby I'm Going Away MP3
Floyd Council - Runaway Man Blues MP3
Pink Floyd - King Bee MP3

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rose And Briar

"They buried her in the old churchyard, sweet William's grave was nigh her..." Ye ancient folk song Barbara Allen has been covered by many over the years. Here's a six pack of personal faves. "And from his heart grew a red red rose, and from Barbara's a briar..."

John Jacob Niles - The Ballad Of Barberry Allen MP3
The Lilly Brothers & John Stover - Barbara Allen MP3
Texas Gladden - Barbara Allen MP3
Shirley Collins - Barbara Allen MP3
Bob Dylan - Barbara Allen (live '62) MP3
Bob Dylan - Barbara Allen (live '91) MP3

Friday, May 6, 2011

Colour Me Gold

"Pretty girl, beware of his heart of gold..." The last installment in this series, as I have plain run out of colours, has got the Midas touch all over it. Postpunk legends Magazine go 007, country pioneer Hank Snow buys a one way ticket, and soul saviour Terry Callier mourns a love affair gone bad. Former Swell Map Nikki Sudden finds his pockets all empty, Britpoppers the Wonder Stuff use a golden banjo, and hiphoppers EPMD fall into a trap. "Oh you big big dummy..." Good stuff? Go buy some of the featured albums, ok?

Magazine - Goldfinger MP3
Hank Snow - The Golden Rocket MP3
Terry Callier - Golden Circle MP3
Nikki Sudden - All The Gold MP3
The Wonder Stuff - Golden Green MP3
EPMD - Gold Digger MP3

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Good Mornin', Captain

Do you need another mule skinner? Thought so. Here's three generations of 'em.

Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 8 (Mule Skinner Blues) MP3
Dolly Parton - Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8) MP3
The Cramps - Muleskinner Blues MP3

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wild Weekend Vol. 58

Business as usual here after a sunny Queensday, so get ready for the 58th edition of Wild Weekend. What's in store this time around you ask? Well, there's Bonnie Prince Billy's brother in the new folk department, some Culture for all you roots lovers out deh, while Mickey Newbury takes care of the country side of things. Enjoy and please do have a wild one.

But first we'll witness some trademark weirdness by David Thomas and his merry Cleveland gang, from their so-called 'difficult' third album. In my view, Ubu's New Picnic Time has always been a logical successor to The Modern Dance and Dub Housing, albeit a tad more abstract. Opener The Fabulous Sequel sets the tune: "He hummed & hummed & hum-hummed that zombie tune..." Just marvellous. And here's some rockin' boogie for all you Creedence fans out there. The Underground Railway could easily be mistaken for a John Fogerty composition, but we're talking Redwing here, a Sacramento-based countryrock foursome from the early seventies, a time guitarists still sported big 'staches. Their eponymous first album is a forgotten classic, so go check it out.

Pere Ubu - The Fabulous Sequel MP3
Redwing - The Underground Railway MP3

Culture used to be one of the sharpest reggae vocal trios around, and if you haven't skanked to their glorious Two Sevens Clash album you really haven't lived. I and I just picked up a very nicely priced 4-disc box set which compiles all their work for legendary producer Joe Gibbs, and you should definitely follow suit if you like your music rootsy as hell. Contains the aforementioned Sevens masterpiece, plus Baldhead Bridge, More Culture, and an extra disc filled with early singles and excellent dub versions. What are you waiting for, my brethren? Country time now, as we just received the good news that these fine folks over at Drag City will re-release a ton of stuff by original outlaw Mickey Newbury. About time this crafty but kinda forgotten songwriter, who was a big influence on Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Townes Van Zandt, to name but a few, was put back on the map again.

Culture - Iniquity Worker MP3
Mickey Newbury - You're Not My Same Sweet Baby MP3

Listen to Old Calf and you might think they're the sure winners of a Bonnie Prince Billy sound-alike contest. But guess what? It's Bonnie's brother Ned Oldham here, who played in an early line-up of the Palace Brothers, and later excelled with his own Anomoanon. We didn't hear a lot of him since the demise of said band, but now Ned is back as Old Calf and the results are not too shabby at all. Just listen to their take on ye olde folksong The Cuckoo and you'll find this Oldham warbles as he flies, too. And last but certainly not least here's Jason Isbell, whose exit from the Drive-By Truckers I still can't help but regret a bit. That page was turned years ago though, and instead of crying over spilled milk we'd do better to embrace his soulful 400 Unit. Because that southern melancholy Isbell's so damn good at shines in all its ragged glory again on the just-released Here We Rest.

Old Calf - Bonnie Cuckoo MP3
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Stopping By MP3