Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hip To Be Alive

Couldn´t get this song out of my head today. Maybe because of tonight´s Arsenal vs. Barça clash? "Since I'm not supposed to grin, all you've got to do is win..." People often refer to Bowie´s Young Americans album as plastic soul. That´s rubbish of course. It´s the real deal.

David Bowie - Win MP3

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flip City

From the bootleg vault: three very early Costello tracks. These stem from the days when Declan Patrick MacManus had just started calling himself D.P. Costello and was playing around London with a pubrock combo called Flip City. The band´s name was picked by Costello´s future first wife Mary Burgoyne, who had heard the expression pop up in Cheech and Chong´s backing vocals on Joni Mitchell´s Twisted. Go to the Oliver Di Place blog to hear it yourself.

Recorded at Islington ´s famous Hope And Anchor pub in ´75, the Flip City demos are the first audible steps of a budding talent. Already toying around tentatively with songs like Pay It Back, Living In Paradise and Radio Radio (called Radio Soul at the time), Costello was slowly but surely getting ready to surprise the world with My Aim Is True.

Elvis Costello - Pay It Back MP3
Elvis Costello - Living In Paradise MP3
Elvis Costello - Radio Soul (take 2) MP3

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 12

Wild Weekend, take 12. Like some ancient Greek oracle, the ghost in the iPod has spoken again. And once more it prophesied a musical six pack with a little something for everyone. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Btw: despite his lousy musical examples, I kinda agree with this guy that iTunes and iPods have changed the way one listens to music, and that these new technologies have even diluted the act of listening in a way.

But enough of that, we´re off to a furious start with some early Hüskers, from the days the Minneapolis power trio still played hardcore of sorts. "The only freedom worth fighting for is for what you think." Exactly. After which we´ll play the ace of spades, but not the Motörhead song this time. Nope, this is lush southern soul by way of Overton Vertis Wright. "I'm the ace of spades, baby that's me, ace of hearts just keep loving misery... ace of diamonds, somethin' every woman craves... I use the ace of clubs to keep my baby in place..."

Hüsker Dü - In A Free Land MP3
O.V. Wright - Ace Of Spades MP3

The first five Roxy Music albums are all dear to my heart, but nothing beats their adventurous untitled debut from ´72. Must be the prominence of a certain Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste De La Salle Eno, whose synth wizardry is the cream on the glamrock cake here. Just take that mysterious intro to Ladytron for instance... Time to travel to the Arizona desert now, where Calexico reigns supreme. I´ve been following them since their fine debut came out in the late nineties, and they never disappointed me since. You can find the infectious, Mexican flavored Victor Jara´s Hands on the excellent Carried To Dust. For some background on Jara, check here.

Roxy Music - Ladytron MP3
Calexico - Victor Jara´s Hands MP3

It´s Everly time. I was lucky enough to see Don and Phil perform once in the early nineties, thanks to a friend who managed to sneak me in for free. I didn´t expect that much of it, but was pleasantly surprised to find their voices still soared in perfect harmony. Which is quite a feat really, as by that time the love between them apparently had gone rather bad indeed. And we´ve come to the end of another Wild Weekend with Motorpsycho, the pride of Trondheim. These adventurous Norwegians made some fine varied albums in the early nineties, alternating between hard rock, experimental noise, psychedelica and pop with ease. The latter two styles are showcased in the exuberant Waiting For The One.

Everly Brothers - So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) MP3
Motorpsycho - Waiting For The One MP3

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Bed

"You don´t have to say you love me..." Breakfast In Bed was written in ´69 by Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts for soul singer Baby Washington, who managed to score a well-deserved hit with it. But the version to treasure is the hot and horny one immortalized by Dusty Springfield just a wee bit later on her masterpiece Dusty In Memphis. "Pull your shoes off, lie down, and I will lock the door..."

Meanwhile in Jamaica, Lorna Bennett charted with a charming, but rather straightforward reggae take of the song. It was a certain Scotty who ran away with it and stole her thunder though. The priceless Skank In Bed is a weird fake duet made in heaven, with Scotty expertly toasting over Bennett´s original. "Excuse me Lorna, I wouldn´t do that to you..." Halfway into the song, Scotty abruptly cuts off the music to kick someone out of the studio. "Leave the studio mon! I don´t want you inside yeah!" After which he turns around like nothing happened and effortlessly takes the song to the finish.

Baby Washington - Breakfast In Bed MP3
Dusty Springfield - Breakfast In Bed MP3
Lorna Bennett - Breakfast In Bed MP3
Scotty - Skank In Bed MP3

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Temporarily Crushed

Stumbled upon the following amusing anecdote in renowned rock hack Nick Kent´s recent seventies memoir Apathy For The Devil. At the abode of his cokedealer of all places, Kent meets a rather down and out Marc Bolan, erstwhile king of the British glamrock scene with the mighty T Rex. They get to talking about Bob Dylan, Bolan´s ultimate idol.

Bolan recalls how he finally met His Bobness at the house of a mutual friend, the songwriter Harry Nilsson. After listening to Bolan´s effusive praise for several minutes, Dylan had looked at him quizzically and asked: "Say man, are you one of those guys from the Incredible String Band?" As Kent writes: "The bopping elf was temporarily crushed - Bob didn´t know him from Adam - but thinking about it afterwards it only made Dylan more untouchable in his estimation."

By the way: Apathy For The Devil - a title that comes straight from Dylan too btw, commenting on the late-seventies Stones - is an entertaining read, but not much more than that. You´re better off with The Dark Stuff, a tome that compiles Kent´s best rock writings for New Musical Express.

T Rex - Mambo Sun MP3
Bob Dylan - No Man Righteous (live San Francisco ´79) MP3
Incredible String Band - Mercy I Cry City MP3

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 11

Edition number 11 of Wild Weekend is upon us. If you go for that sort of thing, eleven is a master number in astrology and numerology, signifying invention, refinement, fulfillment, vision and congruency. And believe it or not, this probably rings true for the whole sixpack of songs my iPod shuffle queued up for you today. As a Kashmiri proverb states: one and one are sometimes eleven. Chew on that for a sec.

For starters, here´s David Crosby. He of the characteristic drooping ´stache. Founding member of the Byrds and Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Dopefiend supreme. His ´71 solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name is rightly seen as a minor classic. Cowboy Movie is a cool rocking epic that reminds one of Crazy Horse. "And Eli said let's take her back to the cabin, I said you don't know, she might be the law, yeah..." Phosphorescent is slowly but surely becoming a household name in Americana circles. This one-man band improves by the album, and I predict that the new Here´s To Taking It Easy will end up in many an end of year list. But the talents of Matthew Houck were already apparent on the a tad uneven debut A Hundred Times Or More (´03), as the gripping dirge Salt & Blues shows.

David Crosby - Cowboy Movie MP3
Phosphorescent - Salt & Blues MP3

Jamaican producer Winston ´Niney´ Holness got his nickname after he lost a thumb in an workshop accident. But with only nine digits left he could still twist the knobs of a mixing board better than most of his contemporaries. Blood And Fire is such a classic roots track that one of the best reggae reissue labels named itself after it. Let it burn. Lydia Lunch was the undisputed queen of the New York underground in the late seventies. Her ´79 album Queen Of Siam was remarkably accessible for her no wave standards. "If this is the real thing there´s just no need to fake..." Lydia´s rumoured to live in Barcelona now, but so far I haven´t seen her around. I´ll keep you posted about future sightings.

Niney The Observer - Blood And Fire MP3
Lydia Lunch - Lady Scarface MP3

And yet another one-man band performer up next. In addition to 12 string guitar, kazoo, harmonica and hi-hat, Jesse Fuller played the fotdella, a foot-operated percussion bass of his own invention. A wonderfully strange contraption, it helped to make San Francisco Bay Blues into a timeless gem. And for dessert, there´s Lowell George, who´s got my heart on permanent loan. From his only effort away from Little Feat, Cheek To Cheek is a Mexican flavored ode to the lovely Chiquitita from Rosarita. "Yo soy amoroso... what could be wrong with the hombre who sings so slow, from up in Californio..."

Jesse Fuller - San Francisco Bay Blues MP3
Lowell George - Cheek To Cheek MP3

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Flame That Moves

High time we aired some new sounds here again. All tracks below were either recently released or will be very soon. Featuring some new kids on the block, some relatively old hands and even one living legend-ah. Here goes.

If you like moving around in Will Oldham and Joanna Newsom territory, better check out Uncles. This fresh duo from Queens, New York will release their Replacing Words With Other Words sometime next month, and taster Settler´s Song really soars. Promising is definitely the word here.

Uncles - Settler´s Song MP3
Update alert: you can now download the whole Uncles album for free here.

And speaking of Joanna Newsom, you probably know by now that the harp-playing nymph recently released a new triple album. Kudos to her wonderful label Drag City, if only for simply daring to do such a thing. Three discs is a little too much for a fairly recent convert like me, but highlighs like Jackrabbits are not to be missed. "And Matthew spoke to me, said there's a flame that moves like a low-down pest, that says: you will be free..."

Joanna Newsom - Jackrabbits MP3

More Drag City up now, as Smog foreman Bill Callahan´s got a new live album in the works. Rough Travel For A Rare Thing just might be a stunner, if the moving Bowery is anything to go by. "I´m new here and I got a pit in my gut..." Is Bill Callahan the new Lou Reed?

Bill Callahan - Bowery MP3

Wonderful to see that the legendary Mark E. Smith is still at it-ah. The Fall has been musically subversive for more than thirty years now - see a recent post of mine on their two glorious ´79 albums here - but refuses to knuckle under. Your Future Our Clutter will be on the market in late April. Here´s a tasty amuse.

The Fall - Y.F.O.C. / Slippy Floor MP3

Time for some Americana now, with The Fox Hunt and their new longplayer Long Way To Go. These West Virginians have a fine singer in John R. Miller and use mandolin, banjo and fiddle to pepper their rootsy rock sound. If these guys aren´t real hot live I´ll eat Bono´s stupid hat.

The Fox Hunt - Screw Me Up MP3

Apart from playing in Chicago band Dolly Varden, Steve Dawson teaches songwriting at the Old Town School Of Folk Music in the Windy City. His second solo effort I Will Miss The Trumpets And The Drums shows he knows his trade well. Got a fine voice, too. Soulful rock with crossover potential.

Steve Dawson - Today She Found The Way To Break My Heart MP3

Leatherbag hails from Austin and will release their latest offering Hey Day in mid April. Frontman Randy Reynolds has a serious Reed/Dylan/Feelies fixation, and that´s a big plus in my book of course. Definitely one more band to watch.

Leatherbag - Start All Over Again MP3

Stop press: talking about living legends... I just got the sad news that Memphis maestro Alex Chilton has died. The singer and guitarist of the Box Tops and Big Star, invisible man who could sing in a visible voice, was one of the true greats.

Alex Chilton - Every Time I Close My Eyes MP3

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Good Book

I´ve got a confession to make: I´m studying a part of the bible at the moment. Don´t be afraid; I haven´t been born again. Far from it. Only last week I forcefully expelled some stubborn evangelists from my doorstep. But hey, they didn´t bring the gospel according to Robert Crumb.

When Crumb is on the ball, I´m always game. And in his version of the Book Of Genesis, which just happens to be an already interesting collection of stories in the first place, his drawings are as marvellous as ever. His vivid depictions of the life and times of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and all their kin really enrich the reading experience.

I had expected Crumb´s God to slightly resemble his famous Mr. Natural character, but except for the long flowing beard he doesn´t. Crumb shows a lot of respect for and stays close to the original texts of the first bible book and never comes across anywhere as even remotely blasphemous. He permits himself only one small liberty: all the women pictured, Eve included, are ´comely in features´. Which means they have these big butts and nipples sticking out that the icon of underground comics has always been famous for...

Repent and buy this book forthwith, readers. And lest I forget, here´s a fitting biblical six pack soundtrack of sorts for all you sinners out there.

Bogus Ben Covington - Adam And Eve In The Garden MP3
Sly & The Revolutionaries - Genesis 1:11 MP3
Johnny Cash - God´s Gonna Cut You Down MP3
Monster Magnet - Spine Of God MP3
Bingo Trappers - God´s Biographer MP3
Mountain Goats - Genesis 3:23 MP3

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 10

The tenth edition of Wild Weekend already. Who knows where the time goes indeed, Sandy. But it´s on our side, right Irma? Here´s another six pack brought to you exclusively by that certain extraterrestrial who mans the shuffle function of my iPod. Phone home, dude. Time has come today.

And away we go with Kevn Kinney, better known as the frontman of Drivin N Cryin. I always had a weak spot for his first solo album MacDougal Blues (´90). The title song charmingly tells of his exploits to make it as a folk singer in the Big Apple. Back home all disillusioned in Omaha, he brags to his friends about meeting Dylan, hanging out with Joni Mitchell and having lunch with Carole King... "Have you heard about this house?" Hey look, there´s David Thomas with his merry Cleveland gang. Dub Housing is the successor to Ubu´s famous Modern Dance debut and it´s every inch as good. "The windows reverberate, the walls have ears, a thousand saxophone voices talk..." We know, David, we know.

Kevn Kinney - MacDougal Blues MP3
Pere Ubu - Dub Housing MP3

The obscure Monroe Moe Jackson was an extremely wild early blues singer who could shout and moan with the best of ´em. "Oh child, you´re killing me!" Find it on an interesting compilation called Gimme Dat Harp Boy, which shines a light on the roots of Captain Beefheart. Many more goodies there, as you can see here. After which we move all the way to the land of the rising sun, where the three lovely ladies of Shonen Knife are paraphrasing quite a few Beatles classics in one song. Rest assured: "You don´t need to be a walrus." Sayonara.

Monroe Moe Jackson - Go Away From My Door MP3
Shonen Knife - Lazybone MP3

I always thought the eponymous first Love album to be a bit underrated, as critics in hindsight usually compare it unfavourably to Arthur Lee´s later masterpiece Forever Changes and leave it at that. Love is a fine collection of songs in its own right though. Just listen to the very pretty A Message To Pretty - and check out that beautiful harp - to see what I mean. And look, we´ve already come to the end of this tenth edition of Wild Weekend with a track from Family. Remember them? An unjustly forgotten late-sixties psychedelic folky rock band from Britain, with ´electric goat´ Roger Chapman on vibrating vocals. Tell ´em, Chappo.

Love - A Message To Pretty MP3
Family - Hung Up Down MP3

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking Side By Side

Soul survivor and godfather of hiphop Gil Scott-Heron is back after a long absence, and that´s good news. I saw the man, who came to fame with the immortal The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in the early seventies, perform live one time in a small club in the late eighties and that made quite an impression. Although attendance was poor to say the least, Gil gave it his all and simply sang his heart out for two hours.

On his new album, the ironically titled I´m New Here, he deliciously modernizes blues legend Robert Johnson´s Me And The Devil Blues. Heavy stuff, inna surprising triphop stylee. Do yourself a favor and compare the two below, and in chronological order if you please. "Hello Satan, I believe it´s time to go..."

Robert Johnson - Me And The Devil Blues MP3
Gil Scott-Heron - Me And The Devil MP3

The title track of I´m New Here brings another surprise. Who could ever have thought Scott-Heron would one day cover a song by Bill Callahan of lofi heroes Smog? Cool choice, and Gil obviously has fun with it.

"Met a woman in a bar, I told her I was hard to get to know, and near impossible to forget...
She said I had an ego on me the size of Texas...
Well I´m new here, and I forget, does that mean big or small?"

Gil Scott-Heron - I´m New Here MP3
Smog - I´m New Here MP3

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


"My face is so pretty you can´t see a scar, that makes me the king in the ring by far..." Some killer reggae from the days when boxing was still fun and the rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier held the world spellbound. Big title bouts like the Thrilla in Manilla captured the imagination on the island of Jamaica too apparently, as many a knockout reggae song paid tribute to the legendary heavyweights. Note that toasters Big Youth and Dennis Alcapone both use Burning Spear´s legendary riddim to salute Smokin´ Joe. "With the left from the right, and then the right to the left, baba keep on punching..."

Derrick Morgan - Black Superman (Muhammad Ali) MP3
I Roy - Don´t Get Weary Joe Frazier MP3
Dr. Alimantado - I Am The Greatest Says Muhammad Ali MP3
Burning Spear - Joe Frazier MP3
Tommy McCook - Tribute To Muhammad Ali MP3
Big Youth - Big Fight (aka Joe Frazier) MP3
Trinity - Muhammad Ali (Blackbeard Version) MP3
Dennis Alcapone - Joe Frazier Round Two MP3

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wild Weekend Vol. 9

Number 9, number 9, number 9... It´s Wild Weekend time again. Musical revolution. As an alternative to all them discjockey types polluting the airwaves out there, we´ve got the iPod on shuffle. Once more it spins an eclectic six pack of tunes for the music-hungry masses, so tune in. This just might be on your wavelength.

Have been playing a lot of Kristofferson lately. So it´s only fitting that the ghost in the machine picked one of his classic songs to start off this edition. To Beat The Devil, featuring a spoken intro dedicated to his mentor Johnny Cash, gives some sound advice to all you aspiring songwriters out there. "I ain't sayin' I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing... then I stole his song." Which is followed by another songsmith par excellence, mister Tom Waits, who meets Bette Midler in a bar somewhere. Says Bette: "Your life's a dimestore novel, this town is full of guys like you..." Mutters Tom: "Ain´t that cold..." Red coincidence alert: both songs feature the line "you´ve been reading my mail". Spooky that.

Kris Kristofferson - To Beat The Devil MP3
Tom Waits - I Never Talk To Strangers MP3

Up next is a track from a cd I bought only last week: Keith Hudson´s Brand, aka The Joint. Originally from ´77, and finally re-released on the mighty Pressure Sounds label a couple of years ago, it´s one of them hard-hitting dub classics I never get tired of. Turn it up. Some typical eighties industrial postpunk up next: Adi Newton and his Clock DVA. Dark stuff from Advantage (´83), with a funky bass and screeching horns. Stood the test of time surprisingly well.

Keith Hudson - Image Dub MP3
Clock DVA - Beautiful Losers MP3

"Just a little lovin', early in the morning, that little extra something, to kinda see them through..." Some good advice from Dusty Springfield, from the still utterly amazing Dusty In Memphis. Best soul album ever to be sung by whitey, hands down. Having the Memphis Cats as her backing band and Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin in the producer´s chairs certainly helped of course. And we call it a day with the dream pairing of tenor greats Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. Here they tackle Duke Ellington´s Don´t Get Around Much Anymore in grand style.

Dusty Springfield - Just A Little Lovin´ MP3
Coleman Hawkins & Ben Webster - Don´t Get Around Much Anymore MP3

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Live Fire

Some rare live Wailers from the vaults for all you reggae lovers out deh. We´re talking 1973 here, when Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were still part of the line-up. Marley and company were touring Babylon to promote Catch A Fire, their first international release. This is the hungry Marley, on the treshold of international stardom. Or, to quote Midnight Ravers: "It's the musical stampede. Right on!" Take it away Bob.

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Stop That Train (Live London ´73) MP3
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Midnight Ravers (Live London ´73) MP3
Bob Marley & The Wailers - 400 Years (Live Boston ´73) MP3
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Slave Driver (Live Boston ´73) MP3
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Concrete Jungle (Live Boston ´73) MP3

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All The Way Home

Remember I posted that fine cover version of Drivin´ On 9 by the Breeders a while back in Wild Weekend Vol. 7? Well, I finally managed to track down the original. Listening to Ed´s Redeeming Qualities and their lofi rendition of Drivin´ On 9, it´s easy to see why the Deal sisters were charmed enough to try their luck with it. After a somewhat shaky start Ed & co. audibly gain confidence, and the forceful fiddle takes it all the way home.

"You´ll sure look pretty, in Carson City, walking down the aisle..
Will you wear white? I sure hope not, but you might, just to spite..."

Ed´s Redeeming Qualities was a late eighties cult alt-folk formation from Ohio, whose career was cut short by the untimely death of their main songwriter Dom Leone. Although the band carried on without him for a while, things would never be the same. For more vintage Ed, check out the Music-Snob.

Ed´s Redeeming Qualities - Drivin´ On 9 MP3