I know, I know. That’s the opposite to this week’s theme. However…your indulgence, I pray, for my celebration of the launch of the In and Outlaws’ eponymously-titled CD. I shall explain.

My son Matt is not the most dynamic or dedicated of folk and in the past he’s had lots of disappointments. (We don’t use the word ‘failure’ in our family.) He’s not very good at sticking to things and tends to take the easy way out if he can. He was a founder member of the In and Outlaws, and they get paid for gigs, but not a great deal, so they decided that instead of just sharing the money out they’d put it in the bank and save it so that they’d be able to make a record.

And so they have. But this wouldn’t have happened without Matt’s efforts. The other three band members are very difficult to work with – sometimes they don’t turn up for gigs, let alone rehearsals and recording sessions. At least two of them have a serious alcohol problem. It’s been very frustrating for Matt but he’s seen it through and it’s quite true to say that the record wouldn’t be out now if it wasn’t for his work. He is proud of himself and I (have you guessed?) am very very proud of him too. He’s already been on the radio to promote it and next week they set off on a tour of Louisiana, the first time they’ve played outside Texas, so having the record to sell at gigs will be very helpful. The timing couldn’t be better.

UNFORTUNATELY I haven’t received my copy yet and so the first version of Weddings (below) hasn’t got Matt’s backing vocals on it – they recorded this particular one when he had a bad cold. So I’m including his demo version as well, with him doing all the singing and playing. Go Matty!

I Always Cry At Weddings – the In and Outlaws
I Always Cry At Weddings (demo) – Matt Rose
However Much I Booze – the Who
The Wife of Usher’s Well – Steeleye Span
One More Dollar – Gillian Welch
Can’t Win – Richard Thompson
Lord Franklin – Pentangle
My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him – the Silly Sisters

We Both Go Down Together

Shane & Shoey present the collaborative failure playlist:

Everyone’s Starting Over
I’ve Been Let Down
They’re Leaving Me Behind
Breakups Breakdowns
Fallen Not Broken
Wherever You Go
Rusted Guns Of Milan
Wisdom Fail
Losers Weepers, Finders Keepers
Divine Disappointment
I Can’t Get Next To You Babe
Let Love Not Weigh Me Down

Look, Treefrogdemon!!

oops–I loaded the pictures backwards–obviously, the tadpole picture is on the bottom.

David found a tadpole in a puddle, and he brought it home so we could watch it for a while. (The puddle dried up the next day!!) It was thrilling watching him (or her) grow little arms and legs. Last night he was swimming around with a tail. This morning…he had disappeared!! We finally found him not far away on the table. Well, we said to ourselves…what kind of frog could climb up a sloping glass wall? What kind of frog has big clingy pads on his toes? A TREEFROG!! How wonderful is that? We’re reading up on the best place to let him go. But we think he might be a pine barren treefrog, which is an endangered species. Isn’t he beautiful?

it’s only a game.

It’s been pointed out to me that this game has the capabilities of setting up your own league.. as we did last year on the defunct Guardian game… Don’t know if I can play this year Mummy sez my tea is nearly ready… (got a big project starting at the end of August)
..but if snadfrod hasn’t gone out to by todays Times to get a head start on the rest of you.. then it could be a good good one to set up and get going with the RR lot… the good thing about it – no-one can have the same player in their team as one of their opponents… double plus tough.

Some Rushed EOTWQs

Who lives (occasionally) in a place like this? Ans: not me, but v.relevant to RR this week!

OK, just got in and seen that there appear to be no takers for End Of The Week Questions this week. As steenbeck said, I’d reserved a place in the queue, but the number on my pull-ticket was kinda smudged, so I’m not sure if I should be standing up or not . . . which leads me into my first question:

1. At some point, we’ve all been snapped back to attention in a boring meeting by realising we’ve been called upon to contribute. But, uh-oh, you weren’t listening, so you have to wing it. What happened next? And was your response embarrassingly off-topic, or, as with mine, serendipitously brilliant. (I’ll share later.)

2. A couple of weeks ago, we were asked what basic life-skill we lacked. This week, I want to know what ULTIMATELY MEANINGLESS life-skill you are actually ace at? Me? As a former house-husband responsible for all domestic duties including the laundry, I am ridiculously proud of my “flick” ability. Who knows what I mean?

3. Sticking with the idea of “ultimately meaningless”, what is the knick-knack that a burglar (God Forbid!) would pass by, but you would be heartbroken if it got lost or broken? Nothing over 20 quid/bucks in value allowed, and we’ll exclude the usual photos/lock-of-kids’-hair type stuff. I’m not really after sentimental attachments, more inexplicable possessive ones.

4. Big one now: when was the last time you were REALLY scared, and why? I don’t know what I can justifiably expect you to say, as I’m still debating with myself whether to even share mine with you.

5. I eventually realised that my Question 5 was music-related, and thus banned from the EOTWQs. So instead of asking about your choice of funeral music, I’ll ask what quirky request/demand would you like to put in your funeral instructions. I have a couple, one of which is that, subject to a veto by my girls (of anything meaningful or valuable to them), I’d like all of my friends to choose one album from my music collection to take away, keep, and play occasionally to remember me by. But of course that puts us back on the subject of music AGAIN, which means this question might get ejected from the EOTWQ lounge. So just in case, here’s an extra question to ensure I stay at the minimum of five required . . .

6. Having made myself a coffee in my clients’ works kitchen today and walked out, I turned around to pick up the folder I realised I’d left next to the kettle, and went *SPANG!!* right into the self-closing door! So – what’s your last stupid, self-inflicted injury? On scales from 1 to 10, which score was higher: the pain or the embarrassment?


New Genre Alert!! New Genre Alert!!!

Whilst we wait for EOTWQ, here’s some new Victoria Bergsman, performing some cutesy summer twee-ggae (I think i just named a new genre!!!) as Taken By Trees: 


I had previously declared Victoria as having  a sing me the phone book voice, which you can read about along with a brief history by clicking here. Also worth reading the comments for some interesting DsDness. 
Anyone ever invented or named any musical genres, or have a fave/hated genre name? 


I just spent a week in LA visiting old friends, the first ones we stayed with were John and Marti in Topanga Canyon, John’s a carpenter/artist and Marti’s a botanist and works for the National Parks, she needed a new car and they saw this sitting on a car lot, they bought it instantly. It’s a new Honda and the paint job was commissioned by the House of Blues in Hollywood as a fund raiser, it was then sold to the car dealer who was having a hard time selling it. Marti’s well past middle age and this is the car she drives to the office every day, it draws lots of attention. I’ve put a folder in the dropbox with some more pictures.


This is another in my series of 60′s classic vinyl, this album came out in 1965 and it had an enormous influence on me. The band comprised Paul Butterfield on harmonica, Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield on guitars, Mark Naftalin on keyboards, Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay on drums. The psychedelic  revolution of the late 1960s had several sources, but probably the most important was electric blues.  Gradually, electric blues evolved into psychedelic rock and East West was one of the seminal albums that led and marked that transition. The Butterfield Blues Band started out as a straight-ahead Chicago electric blues band and there are several traditional electric blues numbers on this album  but there are also several tracks that stretch the boundaries of the blues genre. The band was remarkable for the work of the two great soloists plus Paul Butterfield was an outstanding harmonica player. Unlike a lot of 1960s blues rock musicians, Butterfield, Bishop and Bloomfield still sound fresh and unique today. In particular, Bloomfield’s solos on “Work Song”, and “East West” have a modal quality unlike any of the other blues rock guitar players of his era and the contrast between Bloomfield’s complex droning runs and  Elvin Bishop’s more traditonal lick-based solos is stunning.

 There was another album a couple of years later with a similar line up and sound, that was Super Session with Al Kooper, Steven Stills, Mike Bloomfield, that was one of the earliest ‘super group’ bands: Kooper and Bloomfield had both toured with and played in Dylan’s Highway 61 album  band a couple of years earlier which is where I developed a love of their style of playing.

Loft Classics No. 1 – "Curfew" by Drive

I’d like to introduce a new feature to The ‘Spill!
“Loft Classics”
It’s a really poor play-on-words, and it’s because I’m attempting to make sense of all the guff in my loft (so I can add to the guff with more guff). 
I’m sure ‘Spillers can relate; I find it impossible to throw away music. This has led to an amalgamation of second tier CDs accumulating in the eves. 
The second tier includes a lot of CD singles, CDs that came free with magazines, and stuff that I wasn’t really that into (but still liked) when I last moved house 3 years ago. 
So, whilst in the loft today, I put my hand into a dusty box and randomly pulled out the CD single “Curfew” by the group Drive. 
Released on Ninja Tune in 1993 (it didn’t bother the charts), and featuring a future All Saint (Mel Blatt) sharing vocals with a certain Julienne Davis (acted in Eyes Wide Shut, according to Wikipedia). 
The song itself, has a jaunty atypically early 90s drum loop (think MARRS) and some sweet non-warbly pop girl vocals mixed in with some bluesy/funky slide guitar. 
For the life of me the vocal melody and lyrics seem like they’re from an old 60s US pop tune, but I can’t place it. It seems too good and accurate to be a spoof/tribute. 
The film sample sounds to my ears like Nick Cage, perhaps from Wild At Heart? 
Anyways, this is a stone cold Loft Classic – a great tune, obscure as anything, dusted off and brought back to life!!  If anyone has anymore information about the song, please leave it in the comments! 

Curfew by Drive

(‘Spillers, I’d like this to be a regular series, so on your marks, get set, LOFT IT!!) 

RIP – Merce Cunningham

I was lucky enough to witness the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on more than one occasion, and to actually witness the great man contribute his steps.

Attending Goldsmith’s College in the 1980′s – physically attached, as it was at the time, to the world famous Laban Centre on Laurie Grove – was an instruction in many things, mostly unrelated to the subject I “studied”. Dance was one of them. Without attending Goldsmith’s, I am certain that one complete area of the Arts might have completely passed me by.

My first experience of attending a dance performance was Yolanda Snaith in a small performance space in East London, just after arriving at college. I had few hopes for the evening, but instead my eyes were opened to the talent, dedication and prowess of great dancers and why they deserve respect. I went expecting to be rather bored, but instead I was profoundly moved.

Merce Cunningham (like Martha Graham) was among the towering figures of modern forms of dance – the Elvis or Beatles of his discipline in many ways. He went on dancing until well into traditional old age and, in this respect, he is also an inspiration to those of us who have ambition to stay fit and healthy as long as possible.


AOTW: A**erisked with abandon

MeursaultPissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues

Four-piece Meursault – loved by Mojo (which spelt their name wrong) and praised in The Scotsman – play six & twelve string acoustic guitars, five string banjo, tenor ukulele, accordian, upright piano, cajon, shaker, korg electribe samplers, korg synth, bowed electric guitar, autoharp, floor tom, snare – and circuit bending. If you read that list and think “folktronica”, listen in – the beats are so programmed and prominent, and Neil Pennycook’s voice strains so hard (without cracking), that the label doesn’t really do them justice. Pennycook is also a fine songwriter, producing humane lyrics such as “the worry that you carry is another word for courage” in The Furnace. They’ve also thought about the pacing of the album – for example, the instrumental Statues of Strangers is a welcome breather in between Salt Pt.1 and The Furnace.

If I may be so bold as to recommend a couple of tracks, try four, the title track (also on my social CD) and eight, A Small Stretch of Land. The title track makes a combination of lamb-and-apricot perfection with Poke, by Frightened Rabbit, whom they’re supporting in Edinburgh on 18 August. Meursault are also playing a session for Marc Riley on 6 Music on 6 August.

Since Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues was released last year, Meursault have released the Nothing Broke EP. This is the title track:

This is a live version of the penultimate track, William Henry Miller, Pt.1, played on a bandstand in Newcastle. The eccentric Miller lived in 18th-century Edinburgh and was rumoured to be a hermaphrodite. When he died, he asked to be buried face down, forty feet below the ground, so that when he ascended to heaven, he could see the souls of others burning in hell below. The story (his? hers?) makes for a beautiful song, though.

EDIT: Thanks Ed!

Neither the album nor the EP are on sale in the remaining high-street music chain, but you can buy it from Song By Toad, which helpfully puts the online store on the front page, or iTunes, which a**erisks the album with abandon.

Celebration of Light Fireworks

Every year they have a fireworks competition at English Bay in Vancouver. Representatives of several countries put on a display of fireworks from a barge in English Bay. Thousands gather on the shore to watch. The fireworks are set to music.

Last night my wife and I were there for the second entrant, South Africa. It was sunny when we got there at 5 PM (people go early to get a good viewing spot) and through 7 PM by which time we had done the NY Times saturday crossword and had our picnic lunch. Then it started to rain and a lightning storm moved in. Below is a pic of Mrs. Marconius and I looking like drowned rats hiding under our blanket.

And here is a video of some of the lighning strikes before the fireworks, one during the fireworks and finale of the fireworks.

In spite of getting as wet as drowned rats, it was a lot of fun. Fireworks and music go well together.

Tin, if you’ve ever been to one of these, I hope it brings back memories!

The Twelve Tasks Of ToffeeBoy – #6 Ben Folds

Bet you thought I’d forgotten about the foolish pledge I made back in January. Well. I’m afraid you’re wrong. Here, about a month and a half later than scheduled, is the sixth installment of the (quite lidderally) Herculean task I set myself at the beginning of the year, to expose y’all to some of the sections of my collection which don’t seem to get much exposure in these parts or over on the Mothership.

The whole series got off to a flying start with some enormously gratifying (not to say, elucidating [I told you not to say that. Ed.]) debate on the nature of pop music: what exactly is pop music, what isn’t it and what qualities define what we call ‘Pop Music’ – which we ARE NOT GOING TO REVISIT! OK???

The debate continued with the controversial choice of Coldplay but the last two editions have raised barely a mumble as first Steely Dan and then Aztec Camera have been rejected either as MOR in the former case or as not even worth rejecting in the latter. Well, I ask you …

Hopefully, my latest choice will get people talking a bit more. I was surprised to find (courtesy of the magnificent Marconium) that Ben Folds has only featured once on the A-List, putting him alongside such luminaries as Bette Midler and The Spice Girls and two behind Britney Spears. Without wishing to buke the works of everyone’s favourite former Disney starlet, surely that can’t be right??!! I suspect that there have been some B-Listings as well, one of which (The Luckiest) I was responsible for myself but this still ain’t enough, d’ye hear? We need more Ben Folds in Readers Recommend and we need it now.

So , to that end, may I present to you the wonderful, the one and only, Mr Ben Folds (with and without his Five (who were actually only Two (or Three if you include him))). As always, I’ll let the music speak for itself but I just want to mention a couple of highlights.

Song For The Dumped has been nominated on RR for a number of topics over the years – it’s about a really, REALLY bad breakup and features the line, ‘Give me my money back, you bitch‘. What’s not to like?

Late is a hauntingly beautiful song written by Ben Folds after the death of his fellow singer-songwriter, musician and good friend, Elliott Smith. There’s a great line it where he says, ‘Elliott man you played a mean guitar, and some dirty basketball‘. I remember listening to the song when I realised what it was about and having a good greet (as my Granny would have said).

Boxing is one of the loveliest songs I know. If I liked boxing I would ask to have it played at my funeral.

Oh, and if you buy only one Ben Folds album, let it be Songs For Silverman.

Here’s some music …

Song For The Dumped

Uncle Walter
Satan Is My Master
Alice Childress
Carrying Cathy
Hospital Song
The Luckiest

… and here are some links:

Official site
Fan club

The Spill’s Ninja Stealth Undercover Reporter um reports

Some of you may have read on the motheRRship that webcore was going down to play at his allotment garden’s annual open house today.

Given this week’s topic, I rolled on a healthy coating of spystick and went down to see what I could capture surreytip… suratep…stirruptish…, well capture on my little mini-video recorder.

It’s a song he wrote himself, and is sung here accompanied by his son Kevin on guitar. In the background prepubescent boys, representing the innocence of youth lost, kick a football, symbolizing Mother Earth and man’s struggle to understand opera.

Hip hop funky organ samples post #2

Steen posted this great A.T.C.Q. track a couple of weeks ago on RR for the youth cults theme, it opens with a sample of Reuben Wilson’s recording of Inner City Blues, from the album The Sweet Life, recorded in 1974. Additionally, a recent compilation from Steen featuring Jamaican organ legend Jackie Mittoo inspired me to revisit Wilson’s organ and blues band.

Here’s Wilson’s Inner city blues, a nicely stripped down piece of R&B. The rest of the album occupies the same relaxed, pared down groove- in particular the title track and the Mittooesque I’ll take you there hit some very sweet spots.
Listen on Dropbox.

Poets and pop.

The topics picked for RR lists just goes to show (for the mockers and sneerers) that there’s a lot of overlap between pop and poetry. The songs people mention can very often easily stand beside the stuff I read in Carol Ann Duffy’s piece in today’s Guardian :

Those wonderful poems brought to mind a song from one of Australia’s biggest ever bands Cold Chisel called Khe Sanh. Don Walker writes like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, two other pop poets (among many) (no, that’s not one of my prolific typos – it really is the URL).

And then I went rummaging around for stuff about pop and poetry and found this piece from last year about poet Simon Armitage’s love for pop :

Cheers, Caitlin