Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 8

Hola, amigos da musica. Time to put the old iPod in shuffle mode and see what surprises we´re gonna get this time around. It´ll be a Wild Weekend again, with yet another musical grab bag of goodies for your aural liberation. Because, as the Residents once rightly proclaimed, ´ignorance of your culture is not considered cool´. Right on.

To start off this week´s edition, the ghost in the machine picked a cool song by the Soft Boys. Fun late-seventies punky glamrock psychedelica - or was that the other way around? - from Robyn Hitchcock and company. Their albums A Can Of Bees and Underwater Moonlight have since become cult classics, and that´s totally deserved for once. And talking about cult classics, Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson´s terrific Pacific Ocean Blue definitely belongs to that category as well. Go for the deluxe edition, which comes with a second disc featuring the interesting sessions for the unfinished Bambu album. As a taster, here´s the rather strange He´s A Bum.

The Soft Boys - Insanely Jealous MP3
Dennis Wilson - He´s A Bum MP3

Don´t know about you, but I just can´t wait for the new Drive-By Truckers cd, which will hit the stores any day now. In the meantime, here´s one of their oldies but goldies. "If Mr. Phillips was the only man that Jerry Lee still would call Sir, then I guess Mr. Phillips did all of y´all about as good as you deserve..." Now that´s what I call a solid argument. After which we move to the (mostly) sunny island of Jamaica for some mento sounds from Lord Beginner, who delivers a delightful pre-reggae song about a fearful hurricane hitting Kingston. "A hundred miles an hour was an awful blow..." You can say that again. Thanks to my esteemed Groover´s Paradise colleague Nicolas for this one.

Drive-By Truckers - Carl Perkins´ Cadillac MP3
Lord Beginner - Jamaica Hurricane MP3

"I guess I missed my calling, ´cause I should have been a clown..." Yup, we´re talking prime southern soul and heartaches here. James Carr recorded many a scorcher, but the bitter Pouring Water On A Drowning Man was arguably his finest hour. And we´ll be off with a fascinating Stones rarity from the Exile On Main St. era, featuring some sharp barbed wire guitar by Keef. I wonder if this one will show up on the upcoming deluxe edition of Exile.

James Carr - Pouring Water On A Drowning Man MP3
The Rolling Stones - I Ain´t Lying MP3

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In The Soup

"There's a mushroom on my eyelid,
There's a carrot down my back,
I can see in the distance,
A vast quantity of beans..."

Here´s one of the funniest songs Robert Wyatt ever wrote. Sung from the unique perspective of a... slice of bacon. And that slice just doesn´t understand why the hell it has to end up in the soup. After all, there was a time when crispy crunchy bacon sandwiches were everyone´s favourite snack, right guv? Musically reminiscent of Wyatt´s former band The Soft Machine, with Nisar Ahmad Khan and Gary Windo shining on baritone and tenor sax respectively.

"So I may as well resign myself,
Make friends with a few peas,
But I just, I can't help hoping,
That a tummy ache will bring you to your knees,
Bring you to your knees..."

Robert Wyatt - Soup Song MP3

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Every Sound Goes Quiet

"I only feel the grasp of his sweatin´ hand. Everything ´round me loses importance. Every sound goes quiet."

That´s Glen Sherley talking, in I See A Darkness, the amazing biography of Johnny Cash in graphic novel form. It may seem a little weird that it took a guy from Germany to cook this up, but Reinhard Kleist proves he sure was the right man for the job. He´s obviously a fan, has a fine drawing style, and knows how to make up a storyboard.

Kleist depicts the turbulent life and times of the Man In Black through the eyes of Sherley, an aspiring songwriter doing time for armed robbery at the infamous Folsom prison in the days that Johnny Cash played for the inmates there. An event that would be recorded to try and revive a somewhat sagging career.

When he got word that Cash was coming to his penitentiary to entertain the prisoners, Sherley managed to smuggle out a tape with one of his songs, aided by the prison minister. Cash heard Greystone Chapel only a day before the gig was to take place, but was impressed enough to learn it quickly, so he could use it at the two shows he would play on January 13, 1968. He ended both sets with it.

"There's a greystone chapel here at Folsom,
A house of worship in this den of sin...
You wouldn't think that God had a place here at Folsom,
But he saved the soul of many lost men..."

In an interview with Life magazine, Cash would later remark: "The night before I was going to record at Folsom prison, I got to the motel and a preacher friend of mine brought me a tape of a song called Greystone Chapel. He said a convict had written it about the chapel at Folsom. I listened to it one time and I said, "I've got to do this in the show tomorrow." So I stayed up and learned it, and the next day the preacher had him in the front row. I announced, "This song was written by Glen Sherley." It was a terrible, terrible thing to point him out among all those cons, but I didn't think about that then. Everybody just had a fit, screaming and carrying on."

"Now there's a greystone chapel here at Folsom,
Stands a hundred years all made of granite rock,
It takes a ring of keys to move here at Folsom,
But the door to the house of God is never locked..."

Later country singer Eddy Arnold would cover one of Sherley´s songs as well. And the man himself, by that time transferred to Vacaville prison, recorded a pretty good live album while still behind bars. Of course, it featured a rendition of Greystone Chapel. When he finally became a free man, he went to work for House Of Cash, Johnny´s publishing company. He was eventually kicked out because of bad behaviour - even Cash himself was a bit afraid of him, and I guess that´s saying something. Sherley ended up living out of his car, working for a cattle company. He fatally shot himself in ´78. "Inside the walls of prison my body may be, but the Lord has set my soul free..."

Johnny Cash - Greystone Chapel MP3
Glen Sherley - Greystone Chapel MP3

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 7

Wild Weekend is here again, featuring the iPod as the rebellious jukebox of modern times. The shuffle mode decides which sixpack of songs you´re gonna get. Variety´s the name of the game. Check it out, y´all.

First we go back to 1958, with a rockabilly scorcher by Sammy Gowans. Sammy finds himself rockin´ all alone, "wigglin´ like a wigglin´ dove", until he finds somebody new... Some really wild guitar work here. Want more? Get Cat Talk, a dynamite compilation of obscure sides from the great Imperial label. Fast forward now to 1991, and the triphop gospel according to Massive Attack. One Love stems from the still stunning Blue Lines album and features Jamaican nightingale Horace Andy on vocals. A classic.

Sammy Gowans - Rockin´ By Myself MP3
Massive Attack - One Love MP3

"That token draw on your cigarette, that well-known face in the fire..." That´s Peter Hammill, one of the few prog rockers I can stand. For a good overview of his post Van Der Graaf Generator work, the Love Songs compilation is a wonderful place to start. Next up: Monk. Need I say more? There were many amazing piano players in jazz, but no one is as special in my book as the man called Thelonious. Here he´s doing his thing alone in San Francisco. Do I hear jaws drop? Good.

Peter Hammill - Ophelia MP3
Thelonious Monk - Blue Monk MP3

The Deal sisters travel a country road in this melancholy Breeders gem from Last Splash. Carrie Bradley shines on fiddle. Drivin´ On 9 is a cover of ultra-obscure Youngstown, Ohio band Ed's Redeeming Qualities. I´ve never heard the original, so if anyone can help out I´d be much obliged. And as a grand finale, here´s the black & white pride of Coventry. I read somewhere that the Specials are touring again at the moment, but I´m glad I caught the 2 Tone experience back when Jerry Dammers & co. were still in their prime. Those where the days, rude boys and girls.

The Breeders - Drivin´ On 9 MP3
The Specials - Blank Expression MP3

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One More Cup

Coffee... drink of the gods. I endorse Saula. Try it if you can find it. An excellent coffee, made in Barcelona.

Recommended reading: Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins. "She pours it. There it sits, black and ominous, a slight oil slick at the top. I drink, smooth, like Death."

Recommended viewing: Coffee And Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch. A classy brew featuring messieurs Waits and Pop amongst others. Tom: "You wanna join me, man?" Iggy: "Well, yeah... since I´ve quit..."

Recommended listening to maximize that caffeine buzz: the following sixpack. "Drinkin´ black coffee, black coffee, drinkin´ black coffee, staring at the wall..."

Black Flag - Black Coffee MP3
Otis Redding - Cigarettes And Coffee MP3
Augustus Pablo - Java Original MP3
Bob Dylan - One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below) (live ´75) MP3
Sonny Criss - Black Coffee MP3
Tom T. Hall - Don´t Forget The Coffee Billy Joe MP3

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

With A Bite

High time we showcased some recent stuff here again. Been awhile... Let´s see what you make of Kasey Anderson, Glossary and Jinx & The Back Alley Cats.

If you´re into Steve Earle and Tom Russell, the songs of Kasey Anderson may be right up your alley. His new album Nowhere Nights features fine songwriting in a rootsy, no-frills musical scope. Which is exactly what you´re gonna get when you hire Eric ´Roscoe´ Ambel for production duties, as Ambel was playing Americana long before it became a household genre. A sureshot highlight is I Was A Photograph (Blake´s Song), a moving ballad with fine harp playing about a casualty of the Iraq war. Based on a true story, which you can find here.

Kasey Anderson - Sooner/Later MP3
Kasey Anderson - I Was A Photograph (Blake´s Song) MP3

If twangy roots rock with a bite and a bit of pedal steel on the side is your thing, be sure to check out Glossary´s new offering Feral Fire. Fans of the Drive-By Truckers, Grave Dancers Union-era Soul Asylum or even Tom Petty´s Heartbreakers really should prick up their ears here.

Glossary - Your Heart To Haunt MP3
Glossary - Bend With The Breeze MP3

Which brings us to Jinx & The Back Alley Cats, who are definitely the trashiest of today´s bunch. And that´s no problem at all of course. This young four-piece from Indiana probably listens to Johnny Cash and Jon Spencer. Hell, they even use a theremin and a singing saw on their promising debut Fish As Friends... Check out their MySpace page to order a copy why don´t you.

Jinx & The Back Alley Cats - Twin Bed MP3
Jinx & The Back Alley Cats - Machine Wing MP3

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 6

Wild: aj. - not tamed or domesticated; not cultivated
Weekend: n. - Saturday and Sunday (as a period of rest or holiday)
iPod: t.m. - a pocket-sized device used to play music files
Shuffle: v.t. - to mix together so as to make a random order of arrangement

Yes, and here we go again... with yet another edition of Wild Weekend. Let´s kick it off with Swedish garage rockers supreme the Nomads, and their swampy Where The Wolf Bane Blooms. Saw these guys live a couple of times in the early eighties, and I can tell you their guitar player Hans Östlund was really something else. After which we slow down the tempo a bit with a smooth but still very funky piece of soul by the eccentric hypochondriac Donny Hathaway, from his classic debut Everything Is Everything (´70). "I hear voices, I see people, I hear voices of many people..."

The Nomads - Where The Wolf Bane Blooms MP3
Donny Hathaway - Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything) MP3

Time for some roots reggae now. One of Jamaica´s finest vocalists - Bob Marley even called him the best reggae singer in the world at some stage - Dennis Brown scored many a hit on the island. Deliverance Will Come, produced by the mighty Joe Gibbs, is a fine example of his powers. Next up are the Velvets, with a live track recorded back in ´69 by future Voidoids and Reed guitarist Robert Quine. Lofi they may be, but the Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes are definitely essential listening for fans of Lou and company.

Dennis Brown - Deliverance Will Come MP3
The Velvet Underground - Over You MP3

John Phillips was the brain behind the Mamas & the Papas, but I´d rather listen to his country-tinged solo album John, The Wolf King Of L.A. to be honest. A question of "subtracting the former from the latter" I suppose. And yes, that´s practically the whole Elvis band taking care of business here. And we´ll call it a day with a fine song from the obscure Marc Benno, who you may remember from his collaboration with Leon Russell in the Asylum Choir. Here he´s lost in his hometown: Austin, Texas. Attention Slowhand fans: listen closely, for that really is Clapton on guitar.

John Phillips - Let It Bleed, Genevieve MP3
Marc Benno - Lost In Austin MP3

Friday, February 12, 2010


I always like it when a cover version differs radically from the original, and that just happens to be the case here. A young Bob Marley recorded his Sun Is Shining in the early seventies under the productional guidance of the one and only Lee Scratch Perry. It´s not Robert Nesta´s best song by far, but still very agreeable, with special thanks to Peter Tosh playing a subtle melodica.

And then it´s time to shine for the Japanese duo of turntablist DJ Krush and trumpeter Toshinori Kondo. Find the superb, Miles-goes-triphop interpretation of Sun Is Shining on their stunning ´99 collaboration Ki-Oku. Now catch them rays.

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Sun Is Shining MP3
DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo - Sun Is Shining MP3

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Happened upon the following quote in an ´82 interview in the New York Times with Elvis Costello. "I always thought it was a big mistake to toss around that expression ´new wave´ in connection with my records. Why does everything have to be pigeonholed? Why can´t you hear Hank Williams and then Billie Holiday on the radio?"

Couldn´t agree more, El. So here goes. Not on the radio, which long ago ceased to be a ´sound salvation´, but in a blog post.

Hank Williams - Can´t Get You Off Of My Mind MP3
Billie Holiday - I Cried For You MP3
Elvis Costello - Radio Sweetheart MP3
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Radio Radio MP3

Monday, February 8, 2010

Swedish Charms

A friend of mine recenty alerted me to the charms of young Swedish girl duo First Aid Kit. Thanks for the heads-up, bud: the warm, fresh and just a tad naïve pop of their full-lenghth debut The Big Black And The Blue goes down a treat here. No-frills acoustic bliss, located somewhere halfway between late-sixties Laurel Canyon and modern Stockholm. "I wish that I could have known by then... we all know now that we're never getting back to those times..."

Johanna and Klara´s earlier cover of the Fleet Foxes beauty Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, which got them on the musical map in the first place, isn´t half bad either by the way. Which finally gives me the chance to practice my Swedish in public: Välkommen, jag har saknat dig!

First Aid Kit - Heavy Storm MP3
First Aid Kit - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song MP3

And just in case you forgot what the original sounded like...

Fleet Foxes - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song MP3

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 5

Long live the weekend, the weekend is here. And it´s gonna be another wild one... My iPod shuffle function picks the tunes, and we´ll just have to wait and see what comes up. Ready, set, go.

Let´s get this show on the road with some intense blues from the inimitable Robert Pete Williams. Recorded live in Angola Prison, where the guitarist was doing time for fatally shooting a (white) man in what was probably self-defence. "Some got six months, but me and my buddies got a lifetime here..." These ´59 recordings actually helped to get his case looked at anew and his sentence reduced. Jandek provides another kind of blues: of the outsider variety. Most people find his stuff unlistenable, but I regularly need a shot of the unique Houston loner.

Robert Pete Williams - Some Got Six Months MP3
Jandek - Naked In The Afternoon MP3

The Buzzcocks more or less defined the punkpop genre in the magical year of ´77. They´ve been unrivalled ever since really. To be sixteen again... oh no! Find it on Love Bites, their somewhat underrated second offering. I stupidly forgot to include Tom Russell´s Blood And Candle Smoke in my list of last year´s fave albums. Sorry Tom, won´t happen again. Check out the impressive East Of Woodstock, West Of Vietnam and add this album to your wishlift pronto. Them mariachi-like horns are delicious. "Raise high the roof beams, carpenter boy..."

Buzzcocks - Sixteen Again MP3
Tom Russell - East Of Woodstock, West Of Vietnam MP3

Next up are the Byrds. Makes sense, as I´ve got a lot of their timeless songs on my iPod. One Hundred Years From Now was sung by McGuinn on their groundbreaking countryrock classic Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, as the original vocals of the one and only Gram Parsons were erased for contractual reasons. The version here comes from the Byrds box set, with Gram´s wonderful voice restored. And we bid you goodnight with some intense flamenco from the Jerez Earthquake. "Toma, toma..."

The Byrds - One Hundred Years From Now MP3
Terremoto De Jerez - Fiesta En El Barrio Santiago MP3

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hey Uncle

Badar Ali Khan (1962-2007) was a younger cousin of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Must have been tough, standing in the shadows of arguably the best qawwali singer the world has ever known. To expect that Badar, who was also a big guy, could scale the same dazzling vocal heights as his illustrious uncle would be too much of course, but he sure came close sometimes. Try on Jano Mara Dil for proof.

Badar Ali Khan - Jano Mara Dil (My Heart) MP3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Captured By Your Moves

Got all inspired by two recent entries posted during Live Week on Star Maker Machine. Both (check here and here) featured mighty fine, never officially released live tracks by Neil Young. So I dragged myself upstairs, started rummaging through my collection of Dinosaur Sr. rarities, and here´s some of the treasure I found. These songs may turn up eventually in some future installment of the Archives, but with Neil you just can´t count on anything, ever. In the meantime, make do with this Jurassic ten pack.

First up is Pushed It Over The End, also known as Citizen Kane Junior Blues. Recorded in ´74, at an amazing show in the small Bottom Line club in New York City. "Good lookin' Milly's into politics now, and things are looking much better... She keeps ten men in her garage knitting her fine sweaters..."

Neil Young - Pushed It Over The End (live ´74) MP3

Hold Back The Tears is an earlier, way different version to the one that eventually ended up on American Stars ´N Bars. It stems from an acetate recorded in ´75 and/or ´76 called Chrome Dreams, which suddenly surfaced among collectors in the early nineties. The spooky solo acoustic take on Powderfinger comes from the same disc.

Neil Young - Hold Back The Tears (early version) MP3
Neil Young - Powderfinger (acoustic version) MP3

The somewhat bitter piano ballad Don´t Say You Win, Don´t Say You Lose was taped in some unknown venue in ´76. "Once I was in love... now, it seems that time is better spent searching than in finding, but no one seems to know..." Give Me Strength stems from the same year. "The happier you fly, the sadder you fall..." Some nice harp there.

Neil Young - Don´t Say You Win, Don´t Say You Lose (live ´76) MP3
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Give Me Strenght (live ´76) MP3

"Have you seen the evening coconut, bobbing on the bay?" This is the short-lived Stills-Young Band in ´76, with yet another rare gem. Stephen Stills shouldn´t have joined in on vocals though. The legendary Lady Wingshot was performed with the Gone With The Wind Orchestra a year later. The sound quality´s not great, but what a song it is. Leave it on the shelf why don´t you, Neil. "Your draw is fast as lightning, my eyes are captured by your moves..."

Stills-Young Band - Evening Coconut (live ´76) MP3
Neil Young & The Gone With The Wind Orchestra - Lady Wingshot (live ´77) MP3

The lovely Amber Jean, a tribute to his daughter, was recorded at Austin City Limits in ´84 with the International Harvesters. "Amber Jean, oh, Amber Jean, prettiest eyes I've ever seen..." The Harvesters also played the fun, fiddle-driven Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (aka Good Phone) that night. "You never gave good phone at all..." And as cream on the cake there´s a driven ´85 live rendition of Interstate, a song only released much later as a single and on the vinyl version of Broken Arrow. "I'm out on the interstate... I can hear
a soft voice calling me to bring my guitar home..."

Neil Young & The International Harvesters - Amber Jean (live ´84) MP3
Neil Young & The International Harvesters - Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (live ´84) MP3
Neil Young & The International Harvesters - Interstate (live ´85) MP3

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lagos Jumps!

The companion set to the amazing Nigeria 70, The Definitive Story Of 1970´s Funky Lagos (see post below) has finally arrived at the For The Sake Of The Song headquarters. And man, it´s another goodie. Nigeria 70 - Lagos Jump, subtitled Original Heavyweight Afrobeat Highlife & Afro-Funk, is no match for the former, but there´s still plenty of funky stuff to enjoy here.

By way of an illustration, let´s hear it for two cool tracks from the album. Eric (Showboy) Akaeze was a singer, dancer, multi-instrumentalist and renowned Nigerian hitmaker. His ten-piece band The Royal Enricos (great name!) have these trancy highlife rhythms down pat. The lyrics show that life wasn´t always easy during the transition from colonial rule to independence: "If you leave your house, you gwan be dead...”

Eric (Showboy) Akaeze & His Royal Enricos - Wetin De Watch Goat, Goat Dey Watcham MP3

Meanwhile, Sir Shina Peters nicks the intro of Bob Marley´s I Shot The Sheriff and gets away with it gloriously. Fun song. That repetitive guitar line works wonders, while Shina´s lyrics laugh at wannabe Westerners in his country. "My mother be like European..."

Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars - Yabis MP3