Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Strange Covers - The Ship Song

A link to the last post in that one of the songs featured was co written by Boo Hewerdine who also recorded this cover of one of my favourite Nick Cave tracks. Not strictly a cover version as it is joined up with one of Boo's own compositions which helps make this version unique.

It was the lead off track to his first solo lp Ignorance

I Remember/Ship Song - Boo Hewerdine

You can buy the debut lp here at Boo's website

Monday, 29 August 2011

Not Another Singer Songwriter part 20 - Colin Vearncombe /Black

Colin Vearncombe is best known for the songs he records under the name Black and especially the the 2 maudlin songs he released from his debut lp Sweetest Smile and Wonderful Life. He has recorded various lps and released a number of singles but none of them managed to repeat the success of these two singles.

If you want to listen to a number of these singles as well as the excellent b sided then pay a visit to the wonderful 80s vinyl Gems who has been featuring Black's 12" singles on and off for the last few weeks.

Like artists such as lloyd Cole he has found his niche releasing the odd new lp as well as live lps on his own label and via his website. He has also experimented with different release models as this short extract from his bio tells

2009 was another one of those busy years. After continuing the experiment of limited-period free downloads which had filled most of 2008, Colin, who had been recording in various studios and with several top musicians for over two years wound up with more than two albums worth of new songs and a question mark about how to release them. The response was ‘give to get’ – give away one album in digital form and then make a special package of the other for sale exclusively to those who had lodged their email addresses on the Blacklist (puns, obvious, see above). The Given was released under Colin’s name in July and Water On Stone – a pure Black album – was made available in November.

The full bio can be found on his excellent website here

Of his later tracks I've posted 2 . The first followed a long break and came from the lp the Accused. It featured songs that had been worked on in Chris Difford's songwriting retreats and so features a number of co writes. This one with Boo Hewerdine

Sleeper - Colin Vearncombe

The second comes from a double lp that he also recorded under his own name rather than Black and in his own words

Smoke up close’ is an acoustic album of 30 songs, written in three months and recorded in seven sessions. “No overdubs, no edits. Because I said I would,”

As you'd imagine some songs work better than others and there is a sense of some being a bit half finished. I can't help but feeling there is a great single lp in there. However it does contain what I think is the best song he has ever written

The Sunshine - Colin Vearncombe

You can buy his lps from his website here. By clicking on the relevant lp cover you get track listing and a brief note on the lp as well as the buying options

Finally a reminder of the early days

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lazy Sunday - Kate Bush

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile is one of my favourite singles. I like it becaues Kate Bush can simply do no wrong  and because of the memory of seeing this for the first time  - the drums , the strange prince charming style walk of the band, the pulpit type delivery (and it beat most other things that appeared on Wogan)

Doing the search on Youtube , came across this rare version of Kate singing it live with David Gilmour. Worth looking at for the bass players amazing mullet!

Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The under appreciated trio part 3

Despite coming out to mixed reviews and songs "a little slower than was intended" according to Mike Mills as well as in places veering close to Coldplay territory, Around the Sun is up their with their best. It is full of melody and in Leaving New york one of their most emotive choruses.

I know a lot of fans of the band who think this lp is a bit ... well dull. I've never really got their more rockest tendencies and  prefer their more melancholy moments. which this lp is full of. it does sound like a band approaching middle age and there is a sense of regret that the songs are laced with. The songs are a tad one paced but that helps with the overall mood. even the appearance of Q Tip which could feel like band wagon jumping fits perfectly

The bands did seem to kick against the lp a bit and the next lp came with the now usual claims of a return to both form and their rock roots., which I think slights Around the Sun which I think was made by a band in their mid 40s and fits just right with me in my mid 40s.

Leaving New York - REM

The Outsiders - REM

Friday, 26 August 2011

The under appreciated trio part 2

After the almost claustrophobic nature of Up, the next lp Reveal is just like its cover , bright , sunny and hazy. By now though R E Ms sales were in serious decline which is a shame as this lp is one of the poppiest things they've done, with the echo of the Beach Boys over a number of the tracks

The lead off single Imitation of Life is one of their strongest songs and reminds me a bit of Man in the Moon. It was also helped by a stunning video (unfortunately Warners have had the sound taken off any version on You tube) . The single only got to 83 in the US, but in the UK it reached number 6 where than bands popularity was remaining pretty stable

Imitation of Life - REM

Summer Turns to High - REM

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The under appreciated trio part 1

A bit of a 3 part mini theme form Athen's finest. The 3 lps I'm going to focus on are the ones referenced whenever a new lp is now released and it is hailed as a "return to form".

I think the 3 lps concerned are under rated on the basis of simply not being Automatic for the People or Murmer. They manage to combine some classic REM singles, some brave experiments, sing alongs and songs of quiet emotion, and whilst there are some misses there are also some of the best songs of their career.

Up was the first lp to be released as a trio and the band took the opportunity to produce I think their most experimental set songs. I'm not sure what the record company reaction was to hearing buzzing synth , drum machine and whispered vocals of lead off track Airport Man but I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't busily looking at the small print of the contract they had signed with the band. I'm sure they fell on the only possible single Daysleeper with a sense of relief and hope that the band had got it out of their system and the mandolin would be back soon

Apparently the band came very close to breaking up in this period and some of that tension feeds through to the songs

Airportman - REM

Daysleeper - REM

Monday, 22 August 2011

Not Another Singer Songwriter - Kathryn Williams

I've only got one lp by Kathryn Williams although re listening to it now has prompted a quick visit over to Spotify to listen to some more stuff. The lp I have, Old Low Light, is the follow up to the Mercury nominated lp (Little Black Numbers).

She is another of those artists that have been given a folk label in the past although like King Creosote who I've featured before isn't really limited to one genre but seems to get great pleasure in mixing and matching as well as changing direction. Her covers lp for example had versions of songs by the Bee Gees, Pavement and Nirvana and she describes one of her later lps as "a cheaper version of Bacharach". She has even found time to form the Crayonettes and record an lp of children's songs as she was sick of the awful ones she had to listen to with her own child

 Now back recording on her own label (again like King Creosote she had a short stay on a major label ending in an amicable split and no regrets), the last lp came out in 2010

I've posted a track from Old Low Light that shows her skill at getting a summery song to stick in your head, with the kind of backing that isn't pop isn't folk isn't jazz that Martin Stephenson does so well

 Beatles - Kathryn Williams

You can buy her lps here. There is also a great short biog written by Garry Mulholland on here website here

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lazy Sunday - Guillemots

Lazy sunday and top of the shuffle pile is one of my favourite singles form recent years. From the Guillemots debut lp when I really thought they would become my next favourite band.

What I like about it is despite being about the july 7th bombings it is just so joyously life affirming

Trains to Brazil - Guillemots

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A Year in Books 2011 - A Visit From the Goon Squad

This is the second novel I've read recently that at times feels more like a book of short stories but because short stories tend to sell diddly squat as with the Imperfectionists the publisher is at pains to use the cover blurb to emphasise a linear narrative.

This is a shame as Jennifer Egan's bookis  more than good enough not to need the slightly misleading marketing.

Set around a bunch of characters connected to the music scene the action jumps back of forth across 40+ years and from New York and San Francisco to Naples and South Africa. We see characters in their teens and catch up with them again in their 40s and 50s. They criss cross each others lives as they experience success, personal tragedy , love and failure.

The cover blurb suggests that the novel is about Bernie a record company executive and Sasha his PA and we keep meeting them as their fortunes material and personal ebb and flow. Although they are 2 of the recurring characters they are not alone as this is much more of an ensemble piece.

The shifts back and forth in time , the intersections where lives cross and Egan dropping in short sentences that give you a peak into the future (tradegy, ultimate happiness, disappointment all told matter of factly in a couple of sentences) all mean that the full picture gradually comes into focus. One of the reviews on the cover describe it as a mosaic of a novel and that is a perfect description.

I quickly found myself really caring what happens to these characters and although there is sadness there is also humour and hope and for at least one faded musician his moment in the sun

Egan is also prepared to take risks  one chapter is presented as a series of powerpoint slides and instead of feeling gimmicky, you couldn't imagine it being presented in any other way

It is only the last chapter that jars slightly in that it is set in the near future, only because some of the signposts to this feel unnecessary and get in the way of the characters. It is as if she is trying to force a universal truth about the power of music (not as sickly as it sounds, honest) when there is more than enough small scale observations of wisdom to make this feel a bit redundant.

The book really felt like a breath of fresh air and is the best book of the year so far by some distance

You can buy A Visit From the Goon Squad here where there is also a preview to download

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Life of Live - King L

They may possess the worst band name in history but Gary Clarks next band after Danny Wilson were great live. I was on a course in London with Work when Susan one of the other people on the course mentioned that they were going to see the band play that night with their brother who was at school with Gary Clark.

This sounded so much better than a night in a faceless hotel so I went along ( although a little doubtful about the "at school with" bit)

They were supported by the other 2 Danny's who did a short set playing acoustic guitars. The songs were great and I thought maybe with the demise of Danny Wilson we'd end up with 2 bands for the price of one. I was a bit disappointed when Kit Clark and Ged Grimes dumped this sound  for Swiss Family Orbison (maybe the 2nd worse band name ever) whose lp were sweet tunes drowned in distorted guitar

King L came on and in the small venue were unbelievably load , it was guitar tastic. The school story was obviously true as mid song Gary spotted Susan's brother (I think his name was Andy), looked visibly shocked stopped the song mid line and shouted out "Andy!"(in a way that you would if you were seeing someone you'd known at school), and had to start the whole thing again.

It's a shame that they only lasted 1 lp.

Tragedy Girl - King L

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Strange Covers - Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime

Some songs sound so timeless that it is hard to believe they weren't written in at the birth of pop music and are destined to be covered endlessly. Every body's Got To Learn Sometime is one of those songs.

 Although a top 5 in the UK in 1980 the song passed me by as did everything else by the band the Korgis (I've still no idea of what anything else by the band sounds like).

I first heard the song on The Dream Academy's 2nd lp Remembrance Days. It is not a radical departure from the original but it has a slightly more dream like quality that fits with the rest of the lp perfectly. I like it better than the original

Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime - The Dream Academy 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

New Music - Tiny Birds

A few months ago I posted about new band Tiny Birds who were giving away their debut lp the wonderfully titled Hymns for the Careless. It was a little bit pop and a little bit folky and it was chock full of great tunes.

They now have a free download called The Photographs That You Took , which is all about that morning after kind fo regret. Their website describes it as jaunty , which is a btter description than i could come up with.

Give it a listen here 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Not Another Singer Songwriter - Tom McRae

Tom McRae seemed to burst on the scene in 2001 with rave reviews a Brit win , a Q award and a Mercury nomination as well as being chosen by Scott Walker to appear at his meltdown. Simple stripped down confessional songs were beginning to be back in vogue and  McRae's debut lp fitted the bill perfectly. I saw him support World Party  when he appeared with a guitar and backed by a cellist and gradually the usual chatter when a support act is on died  as the audience got hooked in. I bought the lp and being a sucker for sad songs loved it.

2nd Law - Tom Mcrae

The second lp Just Like Blood didn't mess with the formula too much although this time it was produced by Ben Hillier just after working with Elbow and Blur. The sound is fuller but the intense personal songs remain

Human Remains - Tom Mcrae

The third lp All Maps Welcome had a few more tracks with a more anthemic sound but for me the songs weren't quite as consistently strong.

The Girl Who Falls Down Stairs - Tom Mcrae

Since then there has been 2 more lps and the recent announcements of live dates suggest there may be another due soon.

You can buy Toms lps here

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lazy Sunday - The Stranglers

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile this week is a single from the Stranglers. I like the fact it is sweet ans seedy , sinister and melodic all at the same time

For Pete and Adam who were massive Stranglers fans when I was at school . They were both in a band with the great name of Black Sick.

Strange Little Girl - The Stranglers

Saturday, 13 August 2011

A Year in Books 2011 - Confederancy of Dunces

In my year off in-between school and poly became involved in a voluntary work project living in Worcester which involved doing 2 days on and 2 days off. This did mean that I had quite a bit of time on my hands but not much money (the CSV programme paid little more than unemployment benefit but then the who le point was that it was voluntary a god send was a little booklet that either Dillions or Waterstone's produced at the time with 100 American novels you should read. Nowadays everything is full of 100 things to do read eat see before you die lists but then it was pretty unique.

This list became the main point of reference as I scoured the 2nd hand bookshops in Worcester and through it I found a lot of my favourite books and authors

one book I didn't get round to reading was confederacy of dunces until I saw it recently on a shelf of recommends in a bookshop and decided to finally give it a go.

I had no ideas what it was about although I think I did know it was some form of satire. The book , finally published after author John Kennedy Toole's suicide, follows the trials and tribulations of obese Ignatious j Reilly as he carries out his one man campaign against what he sees as the crassness of modern society whilst also being forced to finally get a job by his molly coddling mother. As he stumbles from one job to another his interactions with books other characters provide comedy and exasperation in equal measures. The tone tries to balance farce and satire , but the novels structure shines in the clever way in that each of the minor characters that spin into Ignatious's orbit have their own back story that we follow as they spin out again, until everything is tied together at the end. It is through their story that Toole paints a New Orleans where everyone is just as delusional as his main character

I don't think I've read another book where all the characters are quite so grotesque, there really isn't a redeeming feature among the lot of them and that is the main problem I had with the book. They were all almost Dickensian in their characture and so their is simply no respite so that in the end I felt like I was trapped in a surreal nightmare of of which there was no escape form these awful people, which is guess was the whole point.

Friday, 12 August 2011

blogger strikes again

Looks like Blogger is on the war path again. The excellent 80s Vinyl Gems has disappeared without a trace. This was a great blog that posted lots of hard to get  and no longer available singles. Hope this doesn't signal another purge.

Jonny G has another blog that you can find here - 90s vinyl gems which features lots of hard to get and no longer available singles this time from the .....90s. It is a bit more dancey in direction but still well worth a visit

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Great Song Shame about the Video

This could be a whole new theme. When I was searching youtube for yesterday's post I came across this.

From the period when they were at their most Smiths like you can imagine the record company conversation.

" We need a video for the single any ideas?

"What is it called ?"

"When Alls Well"

"I know .. lets set it in a ..........."

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Life of Live - Everything But The Girl

I managed to see Everything but the Girl play live just before they discovered dance music and the beats took over. Despite getting thoroughly sick and tired onf the remix Missing, I still think Amplified Heart is their best lp.

I remember being surpirsed at how strong Tracy Thorn's voice was. I don't know why I thought it wouldnt be , although at times the bands various producers havent done her much of a favour (especially at times on the second and third lps)

They kept it very simple , just Tracy and Ben (starting to turn into one of those couples that looked dsiturbingly like each other... matching gagools on a sunday walk?) a double bass and small drum kit often played with brushes. Despite the risk of getting lost , thhey held Everyone in the Shepherd Bush Empire spell bound. Maybe I'm remembering what i want rather than waht happened but there wasnt the ususal buzz of annoyng gig chatter just a captivated audience.

The simple backing meant that every note shone through. They were alos both very funny none of the over seriousness of their press shots.

I've posted one of their best songs with one of the saddest lyrics going

Two Star - Everything But the Girl

This gives you an idea of what they were like with the lead off track from the lp - although the rock and roll julian cope trousers doesnt ring a bell

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Year in Books 2011 - Solar Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is one of a handful of novelists that I read everything by. His stuff ranges from the some of my favourite books , Comfort of Strangers, Atonement, to some that whilst enjoyable slightly disappoint, A Child in Time, Amsterdam (for which he strangely won the Booker prize).

Solar is strange one, I started off thinking it was going to be a struggle and and finished with me wanting it to keep going

Of his previous novels , the one Solar is the closest relation to is Saturday, in that the struggles of one man are tied up in wider events and paint a bigger picture about wider society. The difference is that Solar is firmly a satire, built around a number of big set pieces (with a lot more comedy than in anything else McEwan has written), some of which work better than others. Each set piece builds and builds a fatal combination of the fallacy of human ambition when it is coupled with a gigantic self delusion and inflated self importance. Eventually, of the course, the whole thing tumbles down like and over ambitions house of cards. This personal cocktail is reflected in the wider context of the debate on global warming

The unfortunate soul in question is Nobel prize winner and serial adulterer Michael Beard who, when we met him, is wrestling with a failing marriage (his 5th), a widening girth and a role in heading up the Uks search for alternative power sources which he feels is doomed to fail.

He is not a villain or a particularly bad man just someone whose self interest and self deception make him not very likable. As the book takes Beard from east Anglia to the Artic Circle and on to Mexico, each decision he makes creates a short term gain but you know in the end there will be a cost. a theme reflected in the passages giving the scientific background to the potential solutions to a future energy crisis. Reading reviews on other sites, it does seem as if this is the ultimate marmite book (both Amazon and Waterstones have similar number of 5 star and 1 star reviews) with some of the poorer reviews citing "too much science", However for me these passages really work as apart for being interesting in themselves they help to give depth to Beard's academic world and link Beard's journey to one the whole race is on.

As with Saturday McEwan gets more authenticity with the voice of the middle class intellectual than he does their working class nemesis ,when the dialogue seems at times a bit forced and old school play for today.

This isn't an eco heavy end of days novel (climate change is the back drop), it is firmly a satire and like all satires sometimes the humour can be bit over egged, however I had a morbid fascination seeing if Beard's Teflon qualities would see him avoid the car crash that was surely heading his way

At the end of the day Beard simply can't control his desires , for sex , for food , for money , for fame. As Beard's human failings catch-up with him and he sits waiting his own personal catastrophe, you are left with the sinking realisation that these same human failings will mean we are unlikely to halt the bigger catastrophe that climate change will bring.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Not Another Singer Songwriter - Tom Baxter

A few months a go I went to my first concert at Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush to see Red Box. It is a great little venue , complete with carpet, small low stage with a curtain back drop, chandeliers hanging form the roof and a bar you can get served at without having to sharpen your elbows.

This weeks Not Another Singer Songwriter spent years on the live circuit before a successful residency at Bush Hall got him signed to Columbia records and release a debut lp and the relatively late age for pop stardom , 31.

I think Columbia , saw him as a English Jeff Buckley or something due to the slightly falsetto vocals. The debut lp Feather and Stone married catchy tunes with a rich orchestral backing. What i really like about the lp is that Baxter is prepared to take risks with his arrangements and pull on a variety of styles.

I've posted 2 of the more straight forward pop songs, although they don't really show the range of the lp they do show his ear for a great melody

This Boy - Tom Baxter

All Come True - Tom Baxter

The lp despite getting a lot of radio air play obviously didn't do enough for Columbia and he was promptly dropped.

Having waited so long, Tom Baxter wasn't about to give up easily and wend away to make the second lp under his own steam as well as finding time to produce paintings for the lp art and each of the individual tracks.

Although at times some of Skybound can sail a bit close to James Blunt territory, if anything the experimentation with different styles is greater than on Feather and Stone

I've posted a Judie Tzukie cover that appears on the lp (I only realised its a cover when windows media player listed her as songwriter - so I've no idea how it compares to the original)

Icarus Wings - Tom Baxter

You can buy both lps here. Both a great lps but at a push I'd go for ther first one Feather and Stone. Apparently a third lp Golden is on the way

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lazy Sunday - Ooberman

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile is a track from one time next big thing Ooberman. They were always at their best when the kept under control some of their more over the top tendencies. I like the way this threatens to build to a big climax but surprises by keeping the same melody line to the end

Roll Me in Cotton - Ooberman

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Strange Covers - What

Not really a strange cover more of a stonky good one . Soft Cell's other Northern Soul single and the last of their run of top 5 singles. It runs out of steam towards the end but it still a great pop song

What - Soft Cell

As for the video, well you can tell that days in the pop chart were numbered, it isnt exactly a JLS look. Makes you realise how bland todays pop stars are

Friday, 5 August 2011

Life of Live - REM

I've only seen REM live once and it was on the back of their touring Monster in 1995. Having got all their lps up to that point liking the mumbling jangly early stuff as much as the later world dominating major label releases. However Monster was the first lp that I didn't much care for - it was when they were meant to have gone rock as a reaction to having a mandolin all over Automatic for the People.

I went to the concert at Milton Keynes Bowl basically because I'd been given a free ticket. Michael Stipe had shaved his head and starting wearing eye liner, it was all very rock and roll.

The gig was fantastic. Despite being the first tour for 6 years, by the time they got to the UK they knew how to put on a great show, new songs sounded so much better live and Stipe was pure charisma and stage presence. It seems strange now that at the time they were duking it out with U2 to claim the biggest band in the world title. On the back of this concert you could see why.

I still think Monster is patchy at best but it does contain one of my favourite singles by the band

Bang and Blame - REM

The whole tour was a bit of a watershed moment, they followed it with the recorded on tour and distinctly lacking in single material New Adventures in Hi Fi. Bill Berry left and as a 3 piece they tried experimental , more middle of the road sound and eventually back to rock again with each lp greeted with a "return to form" claim ( I really like the trio of lps they first did as a 3 piece - Reveal , Up and Around the Sun but I think I'm in the minority)

Not from Milton Keynes but the above was from the same tour and gives you an idea of what they were like live at the time.

Support came from Blur who for some reason had a big inflatable Burger as a backdrop (although I may have dreamt this) and I remember thinking that the chirpy sounds of Parklife didn't translate well to an open air stadium on a summer afternoon, and that they would probably disappear back to indiedom..... which shows what I know

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Close to Silence - Part 3 - Mark Hollis/Talk Talk

Mark Hollis was the lead singer of Talk Talk a band who never quite got the success at home as they did abroad and whose reputation seems to have grown since breaking up. This has less to do with the big hits of It's my Life and Life's What You Make It but more to do with their 2 final lps Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock.

Stretching the idea of a band to its limits the last 2 lps feature a collection of musicians improvising sounds which are then stitched together. The whole things has echoes of experimental abstract, ambient and jazz ( a word that usually has me running for the hills) as well as the more usual rock pop structures and often all in the same song . The lps are about mood more than traditional song structure helped by the fact that it is one hell of a struggle to pick out what Mark Hollis is singing and the words tend to bleed into each other with the voice becoming more of a instrument.

The bands most successful lp was the Colour of Spring and is a bit of a cross roads between the pop of the first 2 lps and the experimental of the last 2. It contains a couple of signposts of what was to come, most of all in the haunting Chameleon Day

Things got even more minimalist on Mark Hollis's only solo lp. It feels like the musical equivalent of walking into a room to find someone quietly talking to themselves, it is uncomfortably private and personal

The lp even finishes with 2 mins of silence , not for a hidden track to be tagged on the end but I guess just to get you to sit and think about what you have just heard

Since this release mark Hollis has disappeared from view. i'm not sure if this is a Kate Bush like gestation period between lps or he has taken his sound as far as it can go ... silence

As a reminder here they are at their glorious pop best


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Year in Books 2011 - Good Morning Nantwich

At the birth of BBC 6 Music Phill Jupitus was the man trusted to launch the station with the breakfast show. This was at a time when no-one really knew what digital radio was let a alone that there were were bbc radio channels that were only available on it.

It is hard to imagine then that 8 years later a national campaign would save it from the chop. By that time Phill Jupitus had long come and gone. However he played a key part in shaping what the station would become and fought against the creeping in of playlists and a slow slither towards the mainstream.

Good Morning Nantwich is a little bit full autobiography but is mainly built around one man's love for radio , who got his dream job , fell out of love , gave it up and is learning to love radio again.

The 2 main chunks deal with his time at GLR and then 6 music.

For a comedian is feels strange to say that the weakest bits of the book are when his is trying to be funny, it is far better when he writes from the heart either ranting at commercial radio or when he talks about just how much music and radio mean to him (early on in the book there is a beautifully written appreciation of Terry Wogan)

The anecdotes shed  alot of light on the strange workings of the bbc and the process of putting together a radio show, but it his passion for music and un wavering desire to make a radio show that he himself would like to listen to that comes through again and again. There is a slight bafflement, resentment and then acceptance that the majority don't share his view and that the Chris's and the Jamies and the Docs of the breakfast show world will always win.

What is refreshing is that unlike the so called giants the DLTs and the Jimmy Youngs (whose final show he describes as grumpy and bilious) there is no bitterness and a recognition of how he could have perhaps done things differently (although there is a strong feeling given a chance he would do exactly the same thing again)

The saddest part is how ,having left the breakfast show, he describes how he returned to the station to host a one off show and burnt his bridges. It is a shame he wasn't around when the station finally started to get the audience figures both he and it deserved.

However as he says at the end " So after all these years of wondering, it turned out that I wasn't a deejay after all. And the realisation of this whilst sad , was a relief."

You can buy Good Morning Nanwitch here

Monday, 1 August 2011

Not Another Singer Songwriter part 14 - Chris Difford

I'd never been a massive Squeeze fan. they were a typical singles band and I had the greatest hits that was it. I saw Chris Difford by accident having been to a concert to see Boo Hewerdine. Chris Difford was sharing the bill and played a set that basically consisted of the Squeeze greatest hits lp. I really liked his voice and the versions he did that night , but the 3 best tracks I hadn't heard before and he announced they were from his new lp.

I Didn't Get Where I Am is full of great songs , largely acoustic arrangements and some wonderful backing vocals that balance Chris Difford's lead. A kind of reverse of the way that he used to compliment Glen Tilbrook's sweeter lead vocals in Squeeze.

Most of the songs seem to have an autobiographical element and at times you feel you are listening to an exercise in therapy by song writing. One of the best is a version of a song originally recorded by Squeeze that looks back at his childhood
Playing With Electric Trains - Chris Difford

The follow up isn't quite as good , although with Boo hewerdine as a co writer it is a still a great set. More of the songs going into short story character study mode. Subject matter is more current with trials of getting old
Reverso - Chris Difford

This theme is carried forward into the 3rd lp Cashmere if You Can, for example with this track seeing your own past in your children's future as they follow the same path as you did.

Like I did - Chris Difford

I've written before how this lp was released digitally in weekly chapters with extra tracks, photos as well as Chris writing about how each song came to be. It was great value and I hope more bands start to take this route, it is a lot more personal than being sucked into itunes

He writes a great blog (mainly around when he is touring) and you can still buy the weekly Cashmere if you Can chapters from his website here  and you can buy the rest of the lps here. I'd really recommend the debut I didn't Get Where I Am , it is a lost classic

Finally an example of his solo version of a Squeeze song