Friday, April 08, 2011

Episode 343

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 343

Conrad Schnitzler - Zug 12'' (2010, m=minimal Records)

This episode featured Conrad Schnitzler's Zug a 20 minute opus that was originally released back in 1974 on the legendary "Red Cassette" and finally got a proper release last year on the first m=minimal 12''. The release also featured two remixes by Pole and Borngräber & Strüver. Schnitzler was an early member of Tangerine Dream and also one of the founders of Kluster (upon Schnitzler's departure Moebius and Roedelius renamed the band Cluster). Zug is a really important track in the history of minimalist music. The video below is for a shorter version of Zug that later appeared on Schnitzler's 1978 album Con. That album has now been rereleased as Ballet Statique.

This episode also featured three tracks from Cat's Eyes. I've been listening to the self-titled album all week and am getting really hooked. Cat's Eyes are a duo formed by Rachel Zeffira, a Canadian opera soprano and classical multi-instrumentalist based in London, and Faris Badwan, the singer from psychedelic-rockers The Horrors.

Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes (2011, Polydor Records)

The album was produced by Steve Osbourne and all the artwork is by Chris Cunningham. The record has a real late 50s early 60s feel about it and it's really obvious that both Faris and Rachel appreciate Girl Groups and Phil Spector. In saying that it's also a very modern, experimental sounding, romantic record. This is definately going to be one of the soundtracks to my summer.

Episode 343 – 07/04/11


Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma
Trumpets of Death – Cruel Ships Captain
Joan As Police Woman – The Action Man
Lykke Li – I Know Places
Josh T. Pearson – Woman When I’ve Raised Hell
Eat Light : Become Lights – Monorail
Metronomy – The Look
Moon Wiring Club – The Victorian Butter Boat
Steve Moore – 248 Years
The Dirty Three – Obvious is Obvious
The Auteurs – Bail Out (Cello Mix)
Kaija Saariaho – Petals
Andrew Peklar – First
Luke Abbott – Trans Forest Alignment
Tune-Yards – Bizness
Antonymes – Landscape Beyond an Open Window
Conrad Schnitzler – Zug
Burial, Four Tet, Thom Yorke – Ego
Spaceman 3 – Take Me to the Other Side
Hal Blaine – Hallucinations (April)
Cat’s Eyes – Cat’s Eyes
Cat’s Eyes – The Best Person I Know
Cat’s Eyes – Over You
Left With Pictures – River Avon
The Decemberists – Down by the Water
Nancy Elizabeth – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

From the Archives - Guy Chadwick Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - Guy Chadwick Interview

Guy Chadwick released Lazy, Soft & Slow his debut (and only) solo album in February 1998, five years after Audience With the Mind, the last House of Love album. Lazy, Soft & Slow is one of those great albums that just gets better and better with age. I go back to it every couple of years and am always blown aways by its subtle beauty. This is an album that slowly gets under your skin and then grabs you. It was produced by Robin Guthrie and features a great cover of Iggy Pop's Fall in Love With Me. I interviewed Guy around the time of the album's release for Zeitgeist magazine. The article is below. A few years later Guy and Terry Bickers reformed The House of Love and released Days Run Away. They toured in 2007 playing their debut album in its entirety.   

Guy Chadwick - Lazy, Soft & Slow (1997, Setanta Records)

Lazy, Soft & Slow
I wrote the songs on acoustic guitar and that set the tone of the record. I had decided from the outset that I wanted the feel of the songs, whether they were played by a band, in a band situation or not, to have an acoustic feel. I didn’t have a sound in my head and I wasn’t listening to a lot of country, I was more concerned with my voice being intimate and upfront. They are soft songs for the most part, so naturally that effected the way they were recorded and the choice of instruments that we used.

I wanted to do it all and I had been waiting for the right time, I was motivated. I wasn’t expecting the great reviews the album has been getting. Because I’ve been away from the whole thing for a while, I’m fully recharged, and now I’ve got a really good band which I’ve put together this year and we played our first gig about two-and-a-half weeks ago in Paris which was great. I’m doing a few House of Love songs and it all sounds really, really good and they fit in well with the songs from the new album. It’s a nice development for me because I’m going to be making another album this year and I don’t want to make the same record again, I’ll be working it a different way but it’s sort of setting things everything up nicely for it.

Guy Chadwick - You Really Got a Hold On Me (1998, Setanta Records)

Solo artist
Keith Cullen, of Setanta Records, was pretty persistent in getting me to make a record; I was very impressed by him because he had a good handle on how I should be at a time when I was a bit unsure about what I should be doing. He said make a solo record. It’s five years since The House of Love split up and becoming a solo artist has been a very gradual process for me, it’s still ongoing in a way but making the record was a kind of awakening for me and it’s been enjoyable putting the new band together. For the first time in years I feel that I’m doing and working as I should be. So I feel good about things rather than awkward.

Robin Guthrie
The reason why I did the record with Robin Guthrie was because I didn’t want to make a House of Love record and he didn’t want to make a Cocteau Twins record. He really liked the songs which was the main thing, I had demoed them all and the arrangements had been worked out. So it was quite easy to decide where we were going to go and we worked fairly quickly. We were in total agreement about things and he hadn’t made a record for a while we it was a fresh experience for both of us.

Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen
I’m very flattered when people mention Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen; they’re respected people aren’t they? I haven’t got any Nick Drake records but a friend of mine always plays him when I call around but I’m a big Leonard Cohen fan and I’m very aware of the influence that he’s had on me and the sound and everything. I just love him so that’s bound to come out.

Guy Chadwick - This Strength (1998, Setanta Records)

The House of Love
At the moment I’m working with Mercury on a ‘Best of The House of Love’, it’s pretty much 16 or 18 tracks and they’re the ones that anyone who was into The House of Love would expect to be there. But I did choose one track that was a demo which was originally rejected for the third album and it’s one of the best songs that I ever wrote. It’s very simple, the band playing very well in quite a laid back kind of way, very few over dubs and close vocals and ironically it sounds like it would fit really nicely on the new album. Unfortunately, particularly in the later period, The House of Love did over-produce the records, there was too much going on and it didn’t need to be that way. We were quite mellow and played quite well in a mellow way but we got pushed into being a more rocky-sounding band, and ultimately that’s why we split up because we weren’t producing the music that we wanted to.

A mellow record
Lazy, Soft & Slow is not an album that jumps out of the speakers at you on the first listen, it’s mellow unlike most of the music that you hear on the radio at the moment which is harsh and aggressive sounding, and I didn’t want to make a record like that. The record’s a grower so stick with it.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Episode 342

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 342

This episode featured a couple of tracks from Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack to one of my favourite films: Alexander Mackendrick's Sweet Smell of Success. The 1957 film concerns J.J. Hunsecker, played by Burt Lancaster, the most powerful of the New York columnists, whose items can make or break a career and Sidney Falco, played by Tony Curtis, a press agent who supports himself largely by getting items into Hunsecker’s column.  The film was seen as a thinly-veiled attack on Walter Winchell, who for decades had been the most famous and reviled gossip columnist in America.

Elmer Bernstein wrote the score that incorporates the beguiling jazz of the Chico Hamilton Quintet (who play live in several night club scenes). The Chico Hamilton Quintet were one of the last really important West Coast jazz bands and were really popular at the time of filming. Martin Milner plays Steve Dallas, the jazz guitarist and leader of the band who is dating Hunsecker’s sister.    

Elmer Bernstein - Sweet Smell of Success (Orchestral Themes)
(1957, Decca Records)

Two soundtracks were released one featuring Bernstein's orchestral score and another featuring the jazz tunes of The Chico Hamilton Quintet. "These are the sounds of a small section of New York. The section lies between Columbus Circle and Times Square. This is the world of Sardi's, Toots Shor and the Twenty One, Lindy's, Reuben's and the Stage Delicatessen. This is the world in which adolescent dreams of sucess in bright lights must be implemented in work, endless interviews in producers offices and the quick wit of the press agent and columnist. In this tiny empire lives are made and destroyed by the public, critics and columnists... This then is the world. The music reflects the tempo, anguish and frustration in a contemporary, popular idiom. Therefore we find one of our central characters, Sidney Falco, characterized by the kind of musical sound that could be coming from any of the many night spots such people frequent" Elmer Bernstein, 1957. 

The Chico Hamilton Quintet - Sweet Smell of Success (Jazz Themes)
(1957, Decca Records)

Hamilton spoke to Bill Mackowski of Jazz Times for a 2001 article about filming the movie and working with Mackendrick: "He was a helluva director but the lines that I had to deliver were just not right. For instance, at one point I was supposed to say about Marty Milner’s girlfriend, ‘Throw a rope around her and keep her here while I go get him.’ And I told the director, ‘Man, musicians don’t talk like that! As far as I’m concerned, it’s dumb.’ And he said, ‘Well, what would you say?’ So I told him, ‘Well, I’d probably say something like, ‘Cool this chick here while I go get him.’ And he said, ‘Good, good, we’ll use that.’"

Chico Hamilton Quintet/Elmer Bernstein - Sweet Smell of Success
(Jazz and Orchestral Themes)
(2008, él Records)

Both soundtracks were eventually reissued on one Cd by él Records in 2008. Upon its release Sweet Smell of Success was received with mixed reviews from critics. Audiences who had the year before been thrilled by the high-flying acrobats of Lancaster and Curtis in Trapeze were left struggling to pick a hero from two evil manipulative characters.  When the film was screened by a North California audience, one viewer wrote on her preview card: “don’t touch a foot of this film.  Just burn the whole thing.”  The film flopped.

Episode 342 - 31/03/2011


Mazes - Most Days (supporting Dum Dum Girls, Whelans's April 1)
Wolf People - Silbury Sands
Trumpets of Death - The Press Gang
Connan Mocakin - Forever Dolphin Love
Left With Pictures - This Light
Colourmusic - You For leaving Me
Joan As Police Woman - The Action Man
The Raveonettes - Recharge and Revolt
Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
Flying Saucer Attack - Outdoor Miner
Ebsen and the WItch - Marching Song (playing Crawdaddy April 8)
Dum Dum Girls - Wrong Feels Right (playing Whelan's April 1)
Errors - A Rumour In Africa (Gold Panda Remix)
Metronomy - The Look
Eat Lights : Become Lights - Musik for Motorways
Lia Ices - Loce Is Won
Gablé - Too Fat to Fart to Fight
Gablé - Unbeatable
Gablé - My Diamond Pond
The Unthanks - Close the Coalhouse Door
The Memory Band - A New Skin
Gruff Rhys - Sophie Softly
The Go! Team - Apollo Throwdown
Tune-Yards - Bizness
Cornershop - The Biro Pen
Elmer Bernstein - The Street (Main Theme)
Elmer Bernstein - Sidney And Susie
Elmer Bernstein - Hunsecker's Price
Arbouretum - The Highwayman
That Petrol Emotion - Abandon
Tim Cohen - The Flower