Monday, March 18, 2019

Wave Goodbye

Just got the sad news that Dick Dale has left us. The legendary king of the surf guitar, a pioneer of the Fender Stratocaster, was 81. Miss him.
Dick Dale - A Run For Life

Friday, March 15, 2019

Good Question That

Going warp factor 2 today with the Spizz consortium. Never was much of a trekkie, but of course one doesn't have to be a fan of Spock & co to enjoy this whimsical British new wave wonder from '79. John Peel called it 'the only Star Trek tribute worthy of the Enterprise's jukebox' and as usual, the legendary dj was spot on. "The time warp in space made a change in me, for I was the captain and the captain was me..."
Spizz Energy - Where's Captain Kirk?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Take Them Home

Released last week on what would have been the late great's 75th birthday, these recordings from a '73 session in Atlanta prove a treasure trove for Townes fans. Not bootlegged before as far as I know, Sky Blue provides a mix of known classics, rare covers and even two fine unknown originals, with the unnecessary productional flourishes so often found on his regular studio albums mercifully absent. Good times indeed, my amigos da musica.
Townes Van Zandt - All I Need

Monday, March 11, 2019

Suomi Calling

Yet another new band begging to be checked out further, and not only because the charming Leaves ends with some genuine bird song. Kiki Pau's got that certain je ne sais quoi, if you follow my drift. The mighty 22 Pistepirkko will always remain my fave Finnish combo, but these new kids from Helsinki are contenders for sure. Fresh pop for now people: hurraa!
Kiki Pau - Leaves

Friday, March 8, 2019

Good Question That

Let's start off a new mini-series with one of the eternal questions. Blind Alfred Reed posed it back in 1929, and it's as relevant now as it ever was of course. One of the first protest songs, too: "We can hardly get our breath, taxed and schooled and preached to death..." Hard times and a deadpan delivery. Ry Cooder would revisit this song 4 decades later, and Bruce Springsteen would add his two cents after 77 years, but this version remains the real deal.
Blind Alfred Reed - How Can A Man Stand Such Times And Live?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lucky Star

Peter Hammill all inspired by an old Dylan classic? Sure seems like it. An intense performance this, proving that Mr. Van Der Graaf hasn't lost that magic touch. "And just like that, she's gone..."
Peter Hammill - Girl To The North Country

Monday, March 4, 2019

Born To Roam

Growing old gracefully. Michael Chapman's warm and wistful True North features youngster Steve Gunn as a second guitarist, which only goes to show the British folk septuagenarian still has his finger on the pulse. And their interplay sounds lovely of course. Nothing more to give? Don't you believe it. Chapeau.
Michael Chapman - Full Bottle, Empty Heart

Friday, March 1, 2019

Break It Up

Currently reading Wayne Kramer's funky autobiography The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities. Here's a cool anecdote on the Motor City's finest recording Skunk, one of their hottest tracks. For the horn part, the band invited trumpeter Charles Moore, who wrote a chart and brought some jazz cats along to play it. As Kramer tells it: "The engineer and I were alone in the control room. 'Look, Wayne,' he said conspiratorially, 'I hear what you guys are going for, but these guys aren't cutting it. They're playing the wrong notes. I could bring in some union guys after the session to play this stuff right, in one take.' The engineer was old school, and couldn't hear what Charles had written. The parts weren't traditional harmony, they were written to be dissonant. We wanted biting, extended chords, and that was exactly what we were getting from the musicians. (...) I thanked the engineer for the suggestion and went back to work. The track came out marvelously..." Amen to that, brother Wayne.
MC5 - Skunk (Sonicly Speaking)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Swaying Round

Good to hear that Nicky Hopkins ('44-'94) finally got his well-deserved memorial. Most famous for his work with the Stones (She's A Rainbow, Sympathy For The Devil, Exile On Main St), the session musician par excellence also helped out the Beatles, the Kinks, Jeff Beck, The Who, and the Jefferson Airplane (on stage at Woodstock no less). Even if you don't know his name, you'll have heard him playing keyboards on a couple of your favourite records. Tip: buy the man's '73 solo effort The Tin Man Was A Dreamer: a highly enjoyable record.
Nicky Hopkins - Speed On