Thursday, June 21, 2018

Songs to Learn and Sing – EP717 (20 Jun 2018)

Last night's playlist...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mick Lynch RIP

Mick Lynch RIP

Mick Lynch the lead singer with Stump sadly passed away on 17 December 2015.

During 2015 I interviewed all of the members of Stump for a radio documentary and Oral History.

The Oral History is available here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 - In Review (Part 2 - Reissues and More)

Part 1 of my 2014 Review covering LPs of the year can be found here.

Reissues of the year:

Morrissey - Your Arsenal (Parophone)

Vauxhall & I also got the reissue treatment but for me this was always the more exciting LP of the two. Moz with Boz and Alain Whyte and Mick Ronson behind the console and a batch of amazing tunes - the Remastering sounded fantastic. Unlike the other albums in Moz's reissue campaign Your Arsenal has been left alone from a tracklisting and song ordering point of view except for a different mix of the album's last track, Tomorrow.

 The The - Soul Mining (Sony Music)

I balked initially but eventually went for the LP boxset. I'm glad I did - this is how reissues should be done. There was even room in the box for the Record Store Day 12'' of DJ Food's reworking of Giant. Soul Mining is one of altime favourites and this pressing sounded unreal.

C86 - 3CD Boxset (Cherry Red Records)

This was a blast from start to finish and fantastic companion piece to Cherry Red's Scared to Be Happy Boxset. Worth it for the extensive booklet alone - basically an history of indiepop.

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt)

Axel Willner's 2007 debut was finally released on vinyl by Kompakt. An amazing record remastered and pressed on double vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve.

Live Album of the year:

The House of Love - Live at the Lexington 13.11.13 (Cherry Red Records)

Chadwick and Bickers blasting through a set culled mainly from the first two records but also highlighting some of the gems from last year's She Paints Words in Red. Jesus, I love this band! This came with a DVD - watching the camera zoom in on Bickers' guitar playing was one of my highlights of the year!!! Wow that sounds sad, I know!

Now would someone please get around to doing a boxset of the Fontana years. It's always the Creation years that people go on about. I would love a box of the three Fontana LPs + the B-Sides Comp. The last album of the band's original run, 1993's Audience With the Mind has to be without doubt one of the most under-rated albums of the 90s - tt is absolutely sublime but because of the band's backstory it always gets ignored and also because Bickers was gone by then they don't play any of it live.

Gigs of the year:

Sleaford Mods at Whelans
Clint Mansell at NCH
Peter Gabriel at The Point
The Jesus & Mary Chain - Vicar Street
Moderat - Vicar Street

Of the secondhand finds these were the highlights: 

 The Triffids - Wide Open Road 7''
DAF - Gold Und Liebe LP
David Ackles - American Gothic LP
Moby Grape '69 LP
XTC - Black Sea LP
Fiction Factory - Feels Like Heaven 7''

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 - In Review (Part 1 - Albums)

My round up of the year. Nothing out of ordinary here, in fact it's probably a little bit predictable really, but I kept it to LPs that I purchased rather than things I downloaded and therefore some of my favourite artists inevitably show up. I tried to keep it to 10 but failed - I just couldn't leave out the Röyksopp & Robyn mini-LP.

Röyksopp & Robyn - Do It Again (Dog Triumph)

A white vinyl mini LP but a sublime piece of work. This was better then the Röyksopp album and just made me want a new Robyn full length. This spent a lot of time on the turntable.

Allo Darlin' - We Come From the Same Place (Fortuna Pop!)

The third full length from Elizabeth Morris' indie popsters arrived on blue and white splattered vinyl. History Lessons was probably one of my most played tunes all year. I thought 2012's Europe was a really strong indiepop record but this album really, really impressed me - it's a huge leap forward in songwriting. The liner notes from Darren Hayman were also beautifully written.

Shellac - Dude Incredible (Touch & Go)

Shellac of North America - Albini, Trainer, Weston. Packaged in a chipboard album jacket with two high gloss, full-color monkeys on the front cover. The LP is an 180-gram audiophile quality pressing and includes a CD of the full album. LP comes in a printed inner sleeve. Yes!

Morrissey - World Peace is None of Your Business (Harvest)

Five years on from Years of Refusal, Moz was back with one of his strongest sets in years. The gatefold double vinyl was a beautiful package. His voice sounds better then ever and the album was packed with beautiful moments - Gustazo Manzur's Spanish guitar for one.

Walls/Oram - Sound Houses (Ecsatic)

Alessio Natalizia and Sam Willis got the chance to play around with Daphne Oram's tape archive, Sonic Boom mastered the end result which was pressed on clear vinyl. This is a great, great record.

Adrian Crowley - Some Blue Morning (Chemikal Underground)

He did it again. A beautiful gatefold pressing on heavy vinyl on Chemikal Underground - this just sounds amazing. A beautiful collection of songs.

Goat - Commune (Rocket Recordings)

The second LP from the masked Swedish experimental fusion group didn't disappoint. This was every bit as good as their World Music debut. The live album (Live Ballroom Ritual) they released this year was also brilliant. This edition of Commune came on beautiful red and black splattered vinyl and also included a free 7''.

Dum Dum Girls - Too True (Sub Pop)

Initially I wasn't too sure but by the time the needle hit Trouble Is My Name, I was hooked. This first edition on blue vinyl came with a signed poster of the album artwork signed by Dee Dee.

Future Islands - Singles (4AD)

Like the Dum Dum Girls LP, I was a little disappointed upon my initial listen. It really did reveal itself after repeated listens. A big step up for them.  Their gig in Dublin's Vicar Street was also a momentous event.

Marisa Nadler - July (Bella Union)

Bella Union picked up this Sacred Bones release for Europe and I'm so glad they did - this has probably spent more time on the turntable then any other LP all year. It might be called July but it's a dark, Wintery album. She has a huge back catalogue that I've yet to start exploring.

Eat Lights Become Lights - Into Forever (The Great Pop Supplement)

The fourth full length Kraut/electronic/synth mash-up from Neil Rudd, but definitely his most diverse and enjoyable release to date. This was pressed on a beautiful grey vinyl. 

That's it for albums, Part 2 will cover reissues and Part 3 will cover books.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 521

Songs to Learn and Sing
Thursdays @ Midnight
103.2 Dublin City FM

Last night's show featured new music from Gruff Rhys, Owen Pallet, The Antlers and The Asteroid No. 4. We also featured a number of retrospectives Flying Saucer Attack, Neon Neon, Pizzacato Five and three tracks from the great Puressence.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Dora Suarez - Derek Raymond / James Johnston / Terry Edwards

 Dora Suarez (Clawfist 1993)

I came to this cassette in 1993 via my love of Londoners Gallon Drunk - I'm sure I'm not alone in being introduced to the writing of English crime novelist Derek Raymond via this treasure. Dora Suarez was released by Clawfist Records in 1993, the same year as Gallon Drunk's opus In the Heart of Town. Dora Suarez is a recording of Raymond reading extracts from his 1990 novel I Was Dora Suarez soundtracked by Gallon Drunk's James Johnston and Terry Edwards. Its possibly the most unsettling record I've ever heard.

Robin Cook was better known by his pen name, Derek Raymond and I Was Dora Suarez (1990) is the fourth novel in his Factory series. The Factory series are police procedurals narrated by an unnamed detective in London's Metropolitan Police who works in the most despised branch of "the Factory": the Department of Unexplained Deaths. 

I Was Dora Suarez is an extremely shocking read, as the novel opens a serial killer brutally murders a prostitute, Dora Suarez. We then follow the detective as he obsesses over the young woman whose murder he investigates. Raymond has been described as the father of British Noir but according to A. L. Kennedy, "he's far beyond noir. There probably isn't even a word for his kind of darkness." 

 Dora Saurez (Sartorial Records, 2008)

The soundtrack produced by Johnston (guitar, organ, piano, percussion) and Edwards (saxophone, organ, piano percussion) is full of "Haunting melodies, sound effects and menacing soundscapes which underpin Raymond’s unlikely Etonian accent."

Their industrial drones are dense, dark and incredibly eerie. The album clocks in at over an hour and is a really intense, claustrophobic listen - which is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The idea for the Dora Suarez project came from Geoff Cox. Cox was a collaborator of Nurse With Wound and Current '93 and brought Raymond and Gallon Drunk together. He also acted as editor with Raymond to pick which texts from the novel should be included in the recording. Raymond recorded his reading and Johnston and Edwards recorded their soundtrack to his voice. When the album was released in 1993 Raymond performed a sell out live reading with Johnston and Edwards in London's South Bank. Raymond died in 1994, he was 63.

Sartorial Records reissued Dora Saurez in 2008. I picked up the reissue simply because I didn't have a cassette player to play my original tape at the time. I'm glad I did though because it's a beautuful package with liner notes from Johnston, Edwards and English novelist Cathi Unsworth. Unsworth has previously written about how Raymond had influenced her writing. The reissue is still available from Sartorial here. An extract from the album can be heard below.

Gallon Drunk released their latest new album in March 2014 on Cloud Hills Records entitled The Soul of the Hour and the band have a free download of an amazing 25 minute live version of that album's closer The Speed of Fear available here. The album follows 2012's The Road gets Darker From Here and its business as usual from the band with another epic release. In 2012 James Johnston also released a solo album entitled Hassan Falls to His Death available on Trestle Records. The album can be purchased on Trestle's bandcamp page.

 Gallon Drunk - The Soul of the Hour (Cloud Hills, 2014)

  James Johnston - Hassan Falls to His Death (Trestle Records, 2012)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 520

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

Last Thursday night's show featured a few new tracks: music from Laurie Shaw, James Yorkston, Polar Bear and next Stop Horizon as well as the usual retrospectives on some older albums.

This episode features a couple of tracks from Zoo Uncaged 1978-1990, a 1990 compilation of tracks released on Liverpool's iconic Zoo Records. I've written about Zoo Records before here. We also played a few tracks from Hope Sandoval & the Warm inventions debut album, 2001's Bavarian Fruit Bread.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

American Spring - American Spring (1972)

Episode 519 of the radio show featured three tracks from American Spring's 1972 self-titled album.

 American Spring - American Spring (United Artists, 1972, UK)

The band were known as Spring in the US but were American Spring in Europe (presumably due to the existence of English prog rock band Spring). American Spring were sisters Diane Rovell and Marilyn Wilson. Both women had earlier been members of girl group The Honeys along with their cousin Ginger Blake. Brian Wilson (Marilyn's then-husband) produced most of the band's songs as indeed he had with The Honeys.

American Spring is a must have for anyone with even a passing interest in The Beach Boys or Brian Wilson. The album features a number of Brian compositions and a fantastic version of Dennis Wilson's Forever.

My own copy of American Spring is the 1972 UK United Artists textured sleeve LP, but the album had different cover art in Germany and The Netherlands. The US release of the Sping album used gothic toned plaster casts of Diane and Marilyn's heads. All versions of this album command stupid money on the second hand market these days. See For Miles Records did release a compilation of Spring recordings in 1989 entitled Spring...Plus and a few tracks also appeared on Ace Records 2003 compilation Pet Projects - The Brian Wilson Productions.

 American Spring - American Spring (United Artists, 1972, Germany)

 American Spring - American Spring (United Artists, 1972, Netherlands)

Spring - Spring (United Artists, 1972, US) - Front Cover

Spring - Spring (United Artists, 1972, US) - Back Cover

 American Spring - Sping...Plus (See For Miles, 1989)

Pet Projects (Ace Records, 2003)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 519

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

Last night's show features a few new tracks: music from Caribou, Actress and Goat as well the usual retrospectives on some older albums.  I also managed to get in the full 20 minute plus version of Tortoise's DJed and a couple of tracks from Martin Stephenson.

This episode features a couple of tracks from ABBC's 2001 album Tête À Tête. ABBC was a one-off collaboration between Calexico and the Amor Belhom Duo. The band's name is taken from the first letters of the four members' surnames: Amor, Belhom, Burns and Convertino. The French duo's Gallic flavour works brilliantly with the Calexico's Tuscon sound.

The show also features three tracks from American Spring's 1972 self-titled debut, but more on that great record can be read here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Songs to Learn and Sing - Episode 518

Songs To Learn And Sing
103.2 Dublin City FM
Thursdays @ Midnight

Last night's show features a few new tracks: music from Wildbirds & Peacedrums; The Icypoles and Boy & Bear, as well as retrospectives on some older albums that I've blogged about recently: Denim On Ice by Denim, The Prawn Lawn by The Shanks and Science of the Sea by Jürgen Müller

This episode also features a couple of tracks from Marianne Faithfull's 2008 album Easy Come Easy Go. The album was subtitled, 18 Songs For Music Lovers and was produced by Hal Willner and features contributuions from among others: Keith Richards, Antony Hegarty, Jarvis Cocker, Chan Marshall, Sean Lennon, Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright. I played Marianne's versions of tracks by Neko Case, Espers, Morrissey and The Decemberists. Her interpretation of these songs is inspiring and it's a great record well worth ckecking out.