Friday, 10 August 2012

Back Soon

I'm off on holiday with a trip  round californiyiaaaa. 2 weeks in a big ozone destroying car , 4 of us in various dodgy motel rooms, 3 nights in Yosemite tent and ending up for a week in a beach villa in La Jolla.
3 weeks of steak and eggs for breakfast, sunshine and smiles, wondering where my posh english accent has suddenly come from (it always happens when I go to the states for some reason), trying to dodge the adverts ans religious stations on the car radio, long stright roads , giant beds and all the other "only in america" stuff.

 My sister and her family is using the house whilst we are away so god knows what we'll come back to!

Normally when I'm away I have posts lined up but for some reason this time I've not got my act together and I am going to try and avoid all things internet  So to celebrate my trip here are a bunch of californians

Long December - Counting Crows

The break will give me and you if you want to play along in thinking of my top 125 lps

The rules I've set myself are as follows

Only 1 lp per artist (although someone can have an entry for their band and as a solo singer) so some favourites will face the chop ...Steve McQueen or Jordan?

No greatest hits so all those singles bands I like Squeeze , The Cure etc. wont make the cut

No live lps (are these any good ever ...really??!)

No soundtracks so my strange Evita / Jesus Christ Superstar / oliver fix will be missing

Got to be all round good - one or two great tracks don't a great lp make - so no for example Visage

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Life of Live James x2

With Life of Live I am now at the 2 children stage of life which means concerts have fallen away to one or two a year, inculding my frinds form poly and my annual pilgrimage to see James.  Having made their comeback with  Hey Ma , they did something a bit different with their next releases.

2 mini lps were released about 6 months apart and recorded in different ways. For the Night Before , the band took the songs that had been written by core trio of Booth  , Glennie , Gott and added their instruments and interpretations in isolation, swapping sounds over the internet. With eventually a patchwork forming around the songs. The second saw all 7 playing together with songs eventually emerging from lengthy jams.

Neither are their best work (I seem to remember a couple of vicious reviews) but both contain some great songs.

They toured with both eps and again the concerts contrasted sharply.

The first was a return to the Royal Albert Hall and a pretty standard James set list. The second was a  smaller venue and featured only the singles that they didn't play the first time around. The set was for long term fans with lp track s, obscure b sides all getting a airing. I loved it , my wife hated it and felt a bit cheated.

I've posted 2 of Tim Booth's more autobiographical lyrics.

The first focuses on his school days and despite needing another verse and losing its way a bit it at the end  is a great song.

The second is even better despite the old school choir trick for the chorus. It is about Tim Booth's mother and one of the best songs they've done

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


A while back  I got an email from Wally who was kind enough to say some nice things about the blog. He also mentioned that he had a record label (based out of Canada) and would I like to hear some stuff.

Anyway soon a package of cds arrived all brightly coloured sleeves, some slightly kitsch, some echoed earlier times but all pretty unique.

The music inside was a mixture of summery , breezy , jangly pop the kind of thing you would get if you combined a bit of the sound of Postcard , a bit of Sarah and a bit of Creation.

Wally describes it as a labour of love "we don't sell that many but give a lot away"

I think he is being a tad modest - go to the website here and see how  the Beautiful Music label is made up.

A lot of care and attention as well as love of the music has been clearly put into everything about the label.

You can listen to a free sampler from the label here and then better still take a punt on a cd or two

Here is one of my favourites

It Doesn't Really Matter - Skytone

Monday, 6 August 2012

Middle of the Road Monday - Tony Christie

I've posted this track before , but it is so dam good it is worth repeating. It only got to 37 in the charts on its initial release , despite being the theme tune to the Protectors. I used to have it on a compilation tape when I lived in Scotland and the chorus is just made to be belted out whilst driving along the A1 at night on the way back to Edinburgh 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lazy Sunday - Bic Runga

Lazy sunday and top of the shuffle pile this week is a track from New Zealander Bic Runga. What do I like , apart from the middle aged male bit of the fact that she is gorgeous, there is a fragility in her voice that I really like

The Be all and End all - Bic Runga

Friday, 3 August 2012

Life of Live - Deacon Blue

I'd seen Deacon Blue 3 times before , once at the start , once at the height of their success and once on the reunion tour.

The fourth time was something special. AS is the fashion now they decided to play the whole of Raintown live (I'm guessing for some anniversary or something. The venue was small and full of people like me who knew Raintown off by heart.

They played the lp , had a short break and then came back and did greatest hits set. The highlight was definitely the Raintown section, with the songs fitting perfectly in the more intimate setting.

I've posted one of the lesser known tracks , one of the few not to mention rain or home in the lyric.

He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now - Deacon Blue

... and you can read the article that inspired the song here

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A year in Books 2012 - The Cornish Trilogy

Canadian author Robertson Davies is not one of those that you see mentioned much. He doesn't appear on many best ofs or must read lists. He is not mentioned as a comparison in many reviews, etc. which is a real shame as he had a beard that is well worth remembering

During his life he was a major literary force , possibly most famous for a series of trilogies. When I was discovering books properly (ironically after finishing A level English) his books were everywhere with their distinctive covers . I would keep picking them up but with a limited budget would always put them down for something else.

Well I've finally got round to reading one of the trilogies , the Cornish trilogy (made up of the rebel angels , what's bred in the bone and the lyre of orpheus) and 1100 pages later it has left me regretting that it has taken so long.

The three novels, published between 1982 and 1988, can be read stand alone , but work best as a trilogy. The edition I've got has the 3 together and I read them with no break. 1100 pages and time flew by. In their own way the 3 novels are quite different but core themes run through all 3. The main one I guess it about the circles of history and how the lives of those gone by impact on the actions of those still here

The Rebel Angels is mainly a satire on academic life. A trio of college professors are brought together to dispose of the estate of Francis Cornish one of their peers. The estate consists of a haphazard collection of old manuscripts , paintings , sculpture, historical documents etc. The trio are employed by  Arthur a successful banker and the nephew of Francis. All 4 become fascinated and a little obsessed by Maria , a half gypsy free spirit student and hampered by ex monk , liar , charmer and rogue John Parlablane.

Life at the college is so well drawn that I suddenly wanted to do a career change and become a university professor.

Whats Bred in the Bone is the best of the three. This time we focus on the life of Francis Cornish and the secrets of his family. We move from early life in Canada through to studying in Oxford , studying art and spying in Nazi Germany, until finally he achieves a kind of greatness.  This book is more of the great family historical novel

The final novel sees the characters from the first book return as they head up The Cornish Foundation who allocate funds to worthy artistic endeavours, in this case the completion and performance of an unfinished opera based on the Arthurian legend. A satire on the arts , at the same time the lives of the opera's characters begin to be reflected in the actions of those on the Foundation.

All 3 are a delight and part of the fun is spotting the themes and echoes that weave in and out of the 3 books. They are smart books and at times they did leave me with a list for wikipedia as I wanted to really understand all the artistic and historical references. Don't let that put you off because there is a humour and lightness of touch that as I mentioned makes time fly by as you become immersed in Davies's world.

If you have read his books and wonder at my ignorance than I apologise, but it is worth discovering someone who deserves a lot higher profile and not just for his beard

You can buy the Cornish Trilogy here

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Life of Live James

By this stage of Life of Live children had appeared and so concert going that had been in steady decline suddenly dropped off a cliff.  There was some light on the horizon as James reformed which meant my annual concert visit with friends from poly could begin again. The returning James was the 7 who had 
made Gold Mother , Seven and Laid. The lp they came back with was the immediately recognisable , big tunes and sing along choruses repeated 3 times, with the odd atmospheric slow one towards the end. It was a great return.

The concert was also fantastic. It started with a trumpet blast from the balcony and then the singer and guitarist walked through the audience to the stage singing a slowed down acoustic version of Sit Down.  New songs and old blended together perfectly. Although my memories may be coloured by the fact that I has spent the afternoon drinking in a pub. The concert also turned into a two kebab night (one before and one after) which gives an indication of the state I was in.

Anyway here is a marmite track from the Hey Ma lp . I love it but i can see how it would annoy the socks off some people

you can buy Hey Ma here