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Friday, 31 July 2009

Forgotten album Friday #7 - Shawn Colvin Cover Girl

Shawn Colvin is a horribly under-rated artist. She has some fantastic material of her own of course but I think she is a wonderful interpreter of other people songs, especially some of the Americana classics like Steve Earle's Fearless Heart. Apart from the cover of Sting's ghastly Every Little Thing....this is a fantastic album with every song worth hearing, lovely vocals, stunning harmonies and beautiful playing and production.

Many of these songs are live and the recording quality is astounding. The quality of the songs is tremendous music and the album notes that Shawn picked the songs very carefully. This album is pure emotion, talent, a stool, a guitar...and with the voice to carry it off.

If you get the chance check out the Cd ep's from this time with some brilliant live tracks, some including Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Key Tracks:

One Cool Remove (with MCC)
Looking for The Heart of Saturday Night
Killing The Blues

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Van Morrison Sweet Thing Live

Nice to remind ourselves how brilliant The Man is:

New bap Kennedy Album

Really looking forward to this new release from Bap Kennedy. Here are his thoughts on his inspiration:

I was a seven year old Belfast cowboy trying to stay awake in the early hours of July 20 1969 for the first footsteps on the moon. When I woke up they were on their way home. One month later it was already old news as Jimi Hendrix brought Woodstock to a close with Hey Joe - and the freaky decade so full of promise staggered into a troubled 1970 with a massive hangover.
Nearly 40 years later I began to write some songs that grew into the lunar voyages/1969 inspired album that has come to be known as ‘Howl On’. And all because of a book called Moon Dust, that I devoured by the light of a log fire DVD at the start of a strange lonesome year in London. The Apollo missions and the 60’s were suddenly fresh, wonderful, insane and large as life to me, a man now in his forties - slightly older than the crew of Apollo 11 when they landed on the Sea of Tranquility.
What had become of these men and what had they experienced? How could such a momentous event be reduced to an MTV logo? I was lonely and crazy for love and becoming obsessed by the whole saga. I watched every documentary I could find on the subject and inevitably there was Jimi somewhere in the soundtrack - a reminder of the far out counter culture backdrop of the space race and the Cold War.
And so it was that I immersed myself in the lives of the chosen few who went up there and didn’t care if they never came back. I was in love with America as a child and when I finally got to New York in 1989 as a professional musician I wasn’t disappointed. I’d forgotten all about cowboy suits and spacemen by then, enthralled by the 24 hour bars beside Port Authority.
Gradually America wore me down and I fell out of love with the best and worst of everything. But now maybe things are changing. As a new spirit began to filter over in early 2009 I recorded my own take on Hey Joe during the ‘Howl On’ sessions. Furthermore in a cosmic coincidence I managed to get the legendary Henry McCullough, the only Irishman who performed at Woodstock, to play guitar on my version of the Hendrix classic.
And so now I’m starting to feel that good times are ahead and inspiration is flowing again, not just in me but in the world. The feeling that anything is possible if we just put our minds to it.
We went to the moon didn’t we? All of us.
Bap Kennedy 2009

Album Track Inspiration

America On the night of July 20th 1969, I tried to stay awake for the first Moonwalk, but the comforting and reassuring cowboy voices from Mission Control lulled me into a peaceful sleep. In my seven year old mind, all good th ings came from America. I wanted to be American and live in the sunshine.

Cold War Country Blues Was there a Space Race instead of a nuclear war between Russia and America? Maybe. The frontiersmen who went to the moon took country music to new heights. The pay was terrible but the view was incredible.

The Right Stuff Dedicated to the ancient order of astronauts, the bravest of the brave - and especially to Pete Conrad who was “the best man I ever knew” (Neil Armstrong)

Irish Moon

Michael Collins was the 3rd crew member of Apollo 11. Back in ‘69 when I heard his name I assumed he was Irish. Buzz and Neil got all the glory - but Mick got them home. He had a poem by John Gillespie Magee tucked in his pocket as he travelled to the dark side all on his own.

The Blue One They went to the moon and discovered the Earth, a beautiful jewel hanging in the void. Inspired by a photo taken by Voyager, the deep space probe. Before it left our solar system it turned around and took a picture of where it had come from. And finally there we were, our planet a tiny point of light in the vastness - the Blue One.

Hey Joe A cosmic country take on the classic rock song that finished off Woodstock and the 60’s. Featuring Henry McCullough, the only Irishman to play at Woodstock on muscular guitar.

Howl OnThe mighty universe can seem like a very small place when your heart is broken. And nothing can stand in the way of Love.

One of Those DaysWhat do you do after you’ve been to the Moon? Have one hell of a mid-life crisis.

Brave Captain To see the Earth as it truly is. To risk everything including being forgotten when the next hero comes along. Dedicated to the crew of Apollo 8 who saw an Earthrise for the first time and brought home the photographic treasure for all Mankind.

The Heart of Universal Love Milton, Paradise Lost and the contemplations of an astronaut as he considers the philosophical implications of standing on the barren Moon and looking up at the Earth, a beautiful Eden in the blackness.

Last Adventure Surely there can be no greater adventure than going to the moon. If you get back alive maybe it’s time to hang up your helmet and take it easy.

Ballad of Neil Armstrong In my imagination the commander of Apollo 11 considers an angelic presence as he voyages towards the Moon and a lifetime of unwanted celebrity. (A model of the strong silent type, Neil had suffered the tragic loss of his young daughter before the Apollo Missions became the focus of his life)

Maria McKee with Mark Olson and Gary Louris

This is a great video clip of Maria McKee performing with the Jayhawks, well Mark and Gary anyway from the album she recorded with them. No the best track on the album but nice to see this performance:

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Roddy Hart on BBC Radio Scotland

If you get the chance listen in between 10.30 and 12:30. Great music.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Delta Sweete!

At long last I have secured a copy of The Delta Sweete by Bobbie Gentry, the sleeve wholly abused, the vinyl perfect!

The details:

Side 1:
Okolona River Bottom Band {Bobbie Gentry} (2:57)
Big Boss Man {Al Dixon & A. Smith} (2:56)
Reunion {Bobbie Gentry} (2:35)
Parchman Farm {Mose Allison} (3:00)
Mornin' Glory {Bobbie Gentry} (2:57)
Sermon {Bobbie Gentry} (2:41)
Side 2:
Tobacco Road {John D. Loudermilk} (2:50)
Penduli Pendulum {Bobbie Gentry} (2:55)
Jessye' Lisabeth {Bobbie Gentry} (3:00)
Refractions {Bobbie Gentry} (2:20)
Louisiana Man {Doug Kershaw} (2:35)
Courtyard {Bobbie Gentry} (2:58

(DELTA SWEETE - back cover notes)

Her Second Album! BOBBY GENTRY performs THE DELTA SWEETE sweet is a suite is a sweete...In the heat of last summer, a dark-eyed, dark-haired girl wrote and sang a moving "Ode To Billie Joe" that made the country come alive for millions of people who might not have thought about it their whole lives.And all summer long and through the autumn that followed, everybody praised the subtle intensity of the song, and talked and wrote about the exciting talent of the girl. Her path was stunningly swift: from records to television to films to worldwide fame. Virtually every major news magazine did a feature on her. Mademoiselle gave her the M'lle Award as one of the outstanding women of the year. And everybody everywhere looked forward to her next creative effort.Paying tribute to Hopkins. Allison, Reed, Diddley and Gentry, here is Bobbie Gentry's next. Here is the dust, the fragrance, the molasses, grits and grit, the love, sorrow and humor of the Delta country.And here are the people, young and old, bad and good, from Monday to Sunday....etched in unforgettable images by an immensely perceptive young lady. Here is Bobbie Gentry and here is her "Delta Sweete." And that's about all anybody ought to need to say.
From another era or what! Great stuff.
The album itself is a concept album about white southern life and the tracks all flow into each other. It has huge emotional power and ranges from the funk of Oklahoma River Bottom Band through to a haunting tale of an imprisoned woman with spares arrangements in the track called Courtyard.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Forgotten Album Friday #6 - The Clash, Give Em Enough Rope

The traditional wisdom is that this album was sandwiched between two classic punk / new wave albums in "The Clash" and "London Calling" and there is some merit in this point of view. However that has led to what I think is an absolute classic album to be More or less completely overlooked, certainly as far as most casual listeners are concerned and there appears little in the way of a re-visit in the way some of the other Clash material has been.

The album was released in November 1978 followed very quickly by the lead single Tommy Gun and within a year the Clash had peaked (?) releasing The Cost of Living ep and were about to unleash the magnificent London Calling lp.

The album was recorded after a particularly hair raising experience for the group in Jamaica and
tensions in the studio were obviously channeled out positively into the songs, and they emerge spitting fire and defiance, refusing to lie down.

This would be a 5 star album if the Classic-Clash triumvirate of 'White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)', 'Complete Control' and 'Clash City Rockers' had been originally included (some of the greatest music the UK has ever produced!) but that's being greedy. It stands up just fine without outsiders and is only slightly a lesser cousin to The Clash and London Calling. 'Safe European Home', 'Tommy Gun' 'Cheapskates' and the corny Mick Jones ballad 'Stay Free' all tick the classic Brit-Rock boxes.
Key tracks:
Safe European Home
Tommy Gun
All The Young Punks (new boots and Contracts)
Pressure Drop (b-side)
Guns On The Roof

Thursday, 23 July 2009

First Half of 2009

Bob Dylan - Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
The Low Anthem - To Ohio
Manic Street Preachers - This Joke Sport Severed
God Help The Girl - Funny Little Frog
Malcolm Middleton – Red Travellin Socks
Buddy and Julie Miller – Don’t say Goodbye (with Patti Griffin)
Richard Hawley – Troublesome Waters
Indigo Girls – Love of Our Lives
Bonnie Prince Billy – Beware Your Only Friend
Bruce Springsteen – Last Carnival
U2 - Magnificent
Julie Feeney - Love Is A Tricky Thing
Camera Obscura – French Navy
Morrissey - I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
M Ward - Rave On
Marianne Faithful - Sing Me Back Home
The Decemberists - Isn't It A Lovely Night
Steve Earle - No Place To Fall

Leela James

Not my normal kind of thing but what a performance!


Sunday, 19 July 2009

Justin Rutledge - Man Descending

Yet again I am indebted to my friend Michael for pointing me in the direction of an absolutely outstanding album by an artist who I don't recall hearing of (but Michael will have pointed him out to me before).

Justin Rutledge I know very little of but can tell you that if you like Ryan Adams, Jayhawks, Ron Sexsmith, Josh Ritter and maybe even Justin Currie............you will simply love this awesome album called Man Descending.

Key tracks for me on what is to be fair a weekend on which I have bought or been given some excellent music:

St Peter

Greenwich Time

Honey Houses

I hope to update this post shortly.....but in the meantime the Amazon blurb is:

"Continuing his quest to infuse country music with his love for the literary world, Justin Rutledge returns with his third album, a collection of songs that focus on the quieter, darker spaces in between our everyday lives. Inspired by the 1982 book by Guy Vanderhaeghe, the album follows ten characters down certain half-deserted avenues of their lives where they encounter alternate sides of themselves of which they are relatively unfamiliar. As each character re-evaluates their lot in life, the songs tend to function as questions rather than answers. Rutledge's debut album, No Never Alone, was released to critical acclaim in the UK and Canada and his second The Devil on a Bench in Stanley Park), was released to equal acclaim, including a Juno nomination, the Galaxie Rising Star Award at the Edmonton Folk Festival, and a tip of the hat from Toronto's NOW Magazine, who hailed Rutledge as the best Toronto songwriter of 2006."

The Delta Sweete

Iain Anderson played two tracks on his show last week (Radio Scotland, should be available on Internet) and they were great! Very good of him to pander to my request....and the good news is it looks like a copy has been secured and is winging it's way to me just now! As a total aside I believe that the CD compilation that Iain played the tracks from is an unofficial copy probably from Australia which makes you wonder even more why an official copy cannot be made available?!!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Forgotten Album Friday #5 - Mark Olson, The Salvation Blues

Back after a little bit of a Boss enforced hiatus the Forgotten Album Friday is back and this time with another recent release which seemed to slip under most peoples radar.

A magnificent solo album from former Jayhawk Mark Olson, The Salvation Blues is a superb return to the style of music perfected with the band. The album is very personal following the break up of his marriage and loss of his home and is easily the best work Mark Olson has done since he was with the Jayhawks. This record shows the heartbreak he has recently encountered, but all the time there is a message behind the music, that there is something better coming along and he is ready for whatever that is. Through the heartbreak this is hope, and well, salvation.

On 3 tracks his former partner Gary Louris offers up great vocal harmonies including Poor Michael's Boat, one of the album's standout tracks and a track . The duo record came out the following year and these tracks were very much a taste of what was to come.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves singer-songwriter, from the heart and for all Jayhawks fans.

Key tracks:
Clifton Bridge,
Salvation Blues,
Sandy Denny
Poor Michael's Boat.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Go-Betweens

I am grateful to Daniel Wylie for pointing me in the direction of the Go-Betweens. On the strength of his advice I have bought The Best of the go - Betweens and their outstanding album 16 Lovers Lane with the top single Streets of Your Town.

I will need to delve a bit deeper but it seems the band was basically a duo of Australians Grant McLennan and Robert Foster augmented over the years by various musicians some permanent and some not so. McLennan sadly died of a heart attack in 2006 at a very young 39.

Here are a couple of links:



Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Springsteen Hampden

Well that is that. My mini Boss tour of Europe is over and what a high to end on after the shows in Munich and Dublin with a fantastic set at Hampden Park in Glasgow. I was a wee bit apprehensive as I have been talking up Bruce and the Band for 30 odd years to anyone who would listen, and frankly a few who did not care to! The greatest live act in the world I claimed and with about 40 friend s, relatives and colleagues in the audience this was the moment. Would they Bomb!!! Not a chance.

The Hampden roar greeted the Band as Nils Lofgren started the set with Flower of Scotland on the accordion before blistering renditions of Badlands, Out In The Street and Shes The One. It has been amazing to see Outlaw Pete performed on this tour as it has quickly become a live classic (it has to be said praise for this song has not been universal following the release of WOAD)and tonight the reception was again amazing from the audience. More great tracks were greeted with growing rapture from the crowd and the "requests" section brought the highlight of the night for the long time fans with Incident on 57Th Street, for most of us the first time having heard this masterpiece live. Loved it.

By the time of the encores Hampden was literally jumping. Great review in the Glasgow Herald from which I borrow:

"This was not, however, a crowd that simply cared for the hits and headed for the bar during more obscure numbers. Nearly every song was greeted with wild approval, and you suspect that even if his on-stage entrance hadn't been to Flower of Scotland, the adulation would have remained. A glance across the throng saw both Saltires and Stars and Stripes being held aloft, while everyone from fresh-faced children and teenagers in heavy metal t-shirts mingled with stern-faced veterans of tours gone by, who nodded their head from time to time.

By the time a swelling version of the Rising licked in, arms were being punched by everyone, regardless of age. Even the seated sections were soon on their feet, carried along by the over-riding sense that this was music to live life to the full to, reservations about looking silly while dancing be damned."

The set list as follows:

[Nils solo accordion intro Flower of Scotland]
Out in the Street
My Lucky Day
She's the One
Outlaw Pete
Working on the Highway
Working on a Dream
Seeds Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Raise Your Hand (instrumental, Bruce collects signs)
Incident on 57th Street
Pink Cadillac
Cover Me
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The River
Kingdom of Days
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run

Hard Times
Thunder Road
American Land (with Sons)
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
Twist and Shout

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Point Blank

No commentary from me needed except to say as far as I am aware this is the first performance of this magnificent track since 1981

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Springsteen Munich

My first Springsteen gig of the WOAD Tour was in Munich on Thursday evening and was a fantastic gig.

The setting of the Olympic Stadium was quite iconic for anyone with even a passing sports interest and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being in the stadium and of course enjoyed the gig. There were quite a few surprises thrown in by "Der Boss", in particular This Hard Land and Pretty Woman. The set was not far off 3hrs and he kept his enthusiasm up for the whole thing, really high energy and with the E Street Band in absolutely superb form.

Here is the setlist:

Muss i denn zum St├Ądtele hinaus AKA Wooden Heart [Nils solo accordion intro]
My Lucky Day
No Surrender
Outlaw Pete
Spirit in the Night
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Seven Nights to Rock
This Hard Land
Pretty Woman
Because the Night
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The River
Kingdom of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
* * *
Hard Times
Bobby Jean
American Land
Detroit Medley
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark