A Reader Recommends…

This week marks two momentous events in the annals of RR. This week, RobF’s self-indulgent inclusion of Red House Painters’ “Rollercoaster” brought my grand total of A-listers to 20. And today, the Marconium tells me, is the 3-year anniversary of my first playlisted song (Luke Haines’ “Death of Sarah Lucas” – songs about art). Yes folks, that’s 20 songs in 3 years. Time well spent, I hope you’ll agree.

The list makes interesting reading (for me at any rate). Is it representative of my music collection? Yes and no. In Belle & Sebastian, Tindersticks, Luke Haines and Paul Simon, it’s got four of my all-time favourites, but the particular songs aren’t anywhere near my favourites of theirs. I seem to have spent the 90s listening to trip-hop and one Red House Painters album, but from the last decade we have two of my favourite artists (The Streets and Joanna Newsom) and one of my favourite songs (“Carion”). “Tread Water” by De La Soul was an anthem for me and friends at 6th form (along with the sadly unzedded New F.A.D.S.’ “It’s Not What You Know”), “P.S. You Rock My World” is one of the greatest album closers ever, and the Arvo Part is one of the most divinely sad pieces of music ever written (and still, I believe, the only “classical” piece in the RR Hall of Fame).

If I managed to introduce at least some of these songs to at least some people, then my work here has not been in vain. As these were nominated for very different topics, it’s hard to make a coherent playlist out of them, but I’ve done my best. Already looking forward to the follow-up post in 2013…

James – Gold Mother (Babies and Childbirth)

De La Soul – Tread Water (Lessons in Life)

Red House Painters – Rollercoaster (Coming of Age)

Belle and Sebastian – Lord Anthony (Character Songs)

Luke Haines – Death of Sarah Lucas (Art and Photography)

Tindersticks – 4:48 Psychosis (Mental Illness)

Joanna Newsom – Sadie (Pets)

The Soggy Bottom Boys – Man of Constant Sorrow (I Am… Songs)

Paul Simon – Song about the Moon (er, Songs about the Moon)

British Sea Power – Carrion (The Sea)

Morcheeba – The Sea (Holidays)

All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour (The Sea)

10,000 Maniacs – Verdi Cries (Holidays)

Arvo Part – Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten (Songs that Make You Cry)

Lamb – Gorecki (Devoted Love)

Red House Painters – Dragonflies (Insects)

Pet Shop Boys – Always on my Mind (Guilt and Apology)

The Streets – Empty Cans (Songs with a Twist)

The Streets – Stay Positive (Consolation)

Eels – P.S. You Rock My World (Bereavement)

AOTW: I can’t reign in my enthusiasm any longer

Big challenge for RRers this week:

I’ve run across an album that has captivated me for the past month, and like the following reviewer, nearly dismissed it after only half a song. What a bloody mistake that would have been! Here’s a reviewer who agrees:

On the surface, Corb Lund is not going to be an artist you’d gravitate towards. I mean, country-fused songs with complex narratives about war, the cavalry and a strange obsession with horses is not most people’s cup o’ tea and to be honest, I hit eject the first time I listened to I Wanna Be In the Cavalry. Luckily, I decided to give the record the proper effort before giving up on it and I’m glad I did.

Despite the unique choice in subject matter, you can’t deny Corb’s lyrical skill. He paints detailed images of fragility, fear, love, and loss all within the context of soldiers from the past. Now, I know you might be thinking, “jebus: 15 songs about war?” …. This record is much more ambitious than 95% of the records I get sent, and I was almost too ready to ignore it. Hopefully the rest of you don’t make the same mistake.
- http://www.herohill.com

And so, at the risk of being ridiculed by RRers everywhere, here is:

Corb Lund & The Hurtin’ Albertans
Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!

(See spotify or the box; it’s an album, I can’t link to 2 or 3 songs)
(Cartoon is one someone did of my Dad!)

Blimpy’s Top Ten Albums Of The 2000s.

I might as well weigh in with this, there’s probably glaring emissions, which is due to picking the first ten that sprang to mind, and keeping that order too:

1. KC Rules OK – King Creosote

2. Person Pitch – Panda Bear
3. Passover – The Black Angels
4. Original Pirate Material – The Streets
5. Elephant – The White Stripes
6. A Brighter Beat – Malcolm Middleton
7. Midnight Organ Fight – Frightened Rabbit
8. Alas I Cannot Swim – Laura Marling
9. Get Yr Blood Sucked Out – Viva Voce
10. Walking With Thee – Clinic
If you have Spotify, I’ve made a playlist, which can be accessed here.
I wonder if there’d be any consensus if we picked the best album of the noughties in these here comments…..

Carole’s Seminal Albums – #3

This week’s album in the “Carole’s Seminal Albums” series is Fairport Convention‘s 1969 ground-breaking Liege and Lief.

It was Fairport’s fourth release and was a departure from what had come before; there were no Bob Dylan covers and the West Coast inspired folk-rock was replaced by a totally English folk sensibility.

This was something that had been hinted at on Unhalfbricking‘s most folky track A Sailor’s Life, as well as by the use of Dave Swarbrick’s fiddle playing. A session player on that album, he was a full-time band member by the time that Liege and Lief was recorded.

The main source for much of the material on the album was traditional English folk, as documented by Cecil Sharp. The band member who had driven this shift of styles was Ashley Hutchings, who left the band shortly after the album was released to form Steeleye Span and further develop his interest in traditional forms.

Despite the traditional basis for the material, Liege and Lief is an album that is very much an electric piece, graced by the superb lead guitar playing of the young Richard Thompson and driven by the bass and drums of Ashley Hutchings and Dave Mattacks.

It is also the album that came to define a purely British folk-rock tradition, leading not only to the formation of the already mentioned Steeleye Span but also to Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas forming Fotheringay , as well as providing an alternative sound for British musicians to follow than the mainstream American blues and rock and roll palette.

Fairport Convention were not the first folk musicians to play to rock audiences, Pentangle were already a popular band in 1969, but they were probably the first band to really take traditional music and properly place it into an electric setting.

It is also important to put Liege and Lief into the context of the times. The psychedelic period was over, the ’60s were coming to an end and in both the USA and the UK musicians were looking at older, more traditional forms, paring back on the excesses and getting back to the “roots”. We can see this happening in the music produced by The Band on their first album Music From Big Pink and also on The Grateful Dead‘s 1970 release, Workingman’s Dead. The first Crosby, Stills and Nash album also sees a shift towards more acoustic playing.

Liege and Lief is also an important influence on Led Zeppelin‘s third album, which was largely composed in a cottage in Wales with no electricity, and also on their fourth album, noticeably on The Battle Of Evermore which featured Sandy Denny duetting with Robert Plant and possibly on Stairway To Heaven as well.

As an aside, Robert turns up on Fairport’s 2009 release Live At Cropredy ’08, where he gets a huge cheer from the crowd, before performing The Battle Of Evermore with Kristina Donahue (Jerry Donahue’s daughter) singing Sandy’s part.

Here is the original album, plus the two bonus live tracks that were included on the CD re-issue.

Come All Ye


Matty Groves

Farewell, Farewell

The Deserter


Tam Lin

Crazy Man Michael

Sir Patrick Spens

Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood

too much is never enough

The Pogues – Greenland Whale Fisheries
Woody Guthrie – Buffalo Skinners
Beirut – Elephant Gun
Billy Bragg & Wilco – Jesus Christ For President
Jerry Reed – Lord Mr. Ford
JR – The Crude Oil Blues
Billy Bragg – The Busy Girl Buys Beauty
Tom Waits – Step Right Up
Talib Kweli – Get By
Blackalicious – Ego Trip by Nikki Giovanni
Mos Def – New World Water
Dead Prez – Be Healthy
Dungeon Family – White Gutz
Immortal TEchnique – Peruvian Cocaiine
IT – The Poverty of Philosophy
K’Naan – America
A Tribe Called Quest – Ham n Eggs
The Roots – Rising Down
Outkast – Gasoline Dreams

"There’s a spot in the corner where I always go, I like to feed the flies that I know…"

Songs about reckless consumption:

Clockcleaner – Vomiting Mirrors
Dead Kennedys – Stealing People’s Mail
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Christina
GraveDiggaz – Defective Trip
Hissanol – Satyricon For Lunch
Hüsker Dü – Newest Industry
Jones Very – The Rest, You Know Too Well
Misfits – TV Casualty
New Bomb Turks – Cryin’ Into the Beer of a Drunk Man
Rudimentary Peni – Pig In A Blanket
Webb Pierce – There Stands the Glass
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – There Stands The Glass
Senser – Eject
Tad – High on the Hog
The Fall – Pat-trip Dispenser
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – The Invitation
White Flag – Middle Class Hell

Paper clip. Toilet Roll. Sodium. Twitter.

Now if anyone was going to Twitter, surely it’d be McGyver. I don’t because I’ve never found a reason to. RR might be that reason though. As we trudge through the meaningless tedium of our lives, it might help to share what music we are playing to escape from that dull thumping in our skulls. Or to celebrate the glory of being alive. One of those stop and smell the flowers (if you don’t have hay fever) – whiskey bottle half full half empty things.
Thoughts? Volunteer co-ordinator?

Who dat?

No. not me in my Coverville shirt.
No, not Thea Gilmore signing it.
The (other) balding gentleman in behind. His name is Rod Clements and opened for Thea in Birkenhead, impressing my ‘date’ sonofwebcore and I. But who is Rod Clements?

Show was £12 and worth the price to hear that lovely voice, for Fluff‘s soulful accompaniment,and for Rod’s short opening set. A’s for all three. B for atmosphere, C for production, percussion and guitar, so B- overall. A talent like Thea – eight albums by age 30 – would shine brighter in more favorable lighting.

Spill points to DaddyPig for knowing who Rod Clements is/was. (Read comments). So in a blatant bid to keep the thread going, Thea married her producer/manager Nigel Stonier, who also plays with her, which leads to the obvious questions about mixing work and pleasure. Is this a good idea? Can you still be objective at work? Does it inspire or stagnate you working with one person? Other than your kid hearing some great lullabies and carpooling, are there other home benefits? And do we know any examples. Feel free to discuss or go about your merry business as you please.

Mandy’s Law: Why it’s a Very Bad Thing

This post is created from discussions in Twitter with Dorian and others, about Peter Mandelson’s so-called “Digital Economy” bill, essentially a Big Media wishlist allegedly concocted on a yacht in Corfu at David Geffen’s expense.

Charlie Stross and Steve Lawson have expressed strong opinions on what it’s likely to mean for creative artists who aren’t megastars. Go and read what they’ve written.

Some people have dismiss concerns about this bill as pure hysteria and panicky scaremongering, suggesting that if you’re not a heavy download, you’ve nothing to fear. Yeah, they say that about ID cards as well. How many people still buy that one?

Mandy’s Law has the potential for enormous collateral damage. For starters, I have no confidence in their ability to distinguish between legal and illegal downloads without generating a great many false positives. While industry apologists claim they’re only going to target a small number of heavy downloaders I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if they used the same shotgun approach as they’ve used with DCMA takedown notices in the past. And I’m sure Blimpy can tell us all about DMCA takedown notices. After some rudimentary traffic analysis they’ll just assume everything that appears to be a music file but isn’t from some whitelist of industry-approved download sites must be an illegal download. And out will go potentially millions of nastygrams threatening disconnection.

Think I’m exaggerating? I work in the software industry, as a tester. I know all about bugs in complex software, which is more than can be said for a technological illiterate like Peter Mandelson.

It’s likely have a chilling effect on MP3 blogging, such as this very blog. MP3 blogging admittedly inhabits a legal grey area, but it’s absence surely will limit the exposure of new bands. The false positive risk may even discourage unsigned bands from giving away free downloads, for fear that fans may be disconnected because http://www.myobscureindieband.com isn’t on some secret whitelist.

Of course, for the cartel of big media companies, that’s not even an unintended consequence – adding a lot of additional hassle for unsigned bands works very much in their favour.

It’s OK for industry shills to claim that this won’t happen, but I’m not willing to give sweeping powers to the music biz on a vague promise that they won’t be evil. Their past track record means they simply do not have my trust.

I also have a problem with the whole issue of collective punishment and guilty-unless-proved-innocent. The typical filesharer is a kid living with parents, or a perpetually-skint student in a shared house. The threat of collective punishment for entire households effectively conscripts everyone into being unwilling enforcers of an unpopular law. At the risk of breaking Godwin’s law, it’s the way the Nazis enforced order in occupied France in World War II. Hyperbole, maybe, but when you hear filesharing compared to terrorism…

AOTW: Radio Tarifa – Rumba Argelina

I’ve been thinking about posting this as AOTW for a while. It’s something I’ve never mentioned on RR, I think, but I find it fascinating. The concept of Radio Tarifa, a band from Spain (I’m sure our Spanish correspondents know more about them than I do…) is that they are broadcasting from a radio station in Tarifa, the Southern tip of Spain. The music accordingly combines elements of all the music you might find in that area – Spanish, North African, Arabic – plus they toss into the mix some other types of music as well (there’s more than a tad of Cuban influence, I believe). An amazing array of instruments shows up on the album – guitar, tar (persian lute), buzuki, derbouka, ney, crumhorn, tenor and soprano saxophone, electric bass, electric organ…

I’ve always been fascinated by parts of the world that see a lot of different cultures coming together – by the food and the art and the stories that emerge – and this is an example of that. It’s an odd mix, but it really seems to work.

It’s in the box.

Here’s their website.

Here are a few tracks…

Lamma Bada

“a straight reading of one of the most oft-played tunes of the Arab world…retaining the song’s modal structure (ie, all the instruments, even the bass, playing the same line at once)

La Canal

Nu Alrest

An adaptation of a song by a medieval troubadour named Walter von der Vogelweide, “dominated by the crumhorns and the melancholy tenor of Javier Raibal…”

You love me… You really love me…

Having seized this opportunity to introduce Mr November 2010 – yes, Jasper is now going to be an actual pin-up in a Pet Calendar produced by the local petfood manufacturers – I want to announce something more serious and important: the opening of nominations for this year’s Overs – the Annual ‘Spill Awards. Please email abahachi ‘at’ hotmail.co.uk with nominations for each category (up to three allowed per award), and feel free to append a sentence or two of justification if you wish. I shall endeavour to pull together all the suggestions in a manner which won’t really satisfy anyone and certainly won’t be nearly as good as Snadfrod’s presentation last year, by some time in early January…

1. Album of the Year

2. Older albums that you’ve discovered or rediscovered this year.

3. Film of the Year

4. Book of the Year

5. Hero of the Year

6. Event of the Year

7. Villain of the Year

8. The Overcooked Award: artist must try harder, whatever the critics think…

Any suggestions for special awards, along the lines of Blimpy’s nepotism award or Gremlin’s nomination of Roy Keane as Hunk of the Year, gratefully received…


You sure know how to set the right tone for your participation in any discussion, totally appropriate for your comments on the topic.
This has been my worst weekend in memory, I feel devastated by the response to my recent post, I thought that I was amongst friends here but the manner in which some of you chose to pile on the invective has revealed an aspect of your natures that I never expected. I made some mistakes apparently, you feel that the word ‘race’ is an unacceptable descriptive word to describe a group, would you have preferred ‘Negro’s’ Would that sit better with your delicate sensibilities? “How the mighty have fallen” is a biblical quote that I thought appropriate to the case that I was presenting given the unbelievable list of world-wide talents, lost, to be replaced by ‘what’? Hip-Hop? You chose to attack that rather than deal with my main concern which was the reality of the ghettos in this country, not a single comment was concerned with that. A dozen murders in three days in Oakland, meditate on that.

I shared that post with three black friends this weekend, they all endorsed it totally, two adding the reservation that they were concerned that their own teenage kids were actively emulating their hip-hop heros. From my perspective, living where and how I do and being somewhat aware of some of your circumstances, your lifestyles and where and how you choose to live, I find it disgusting that any of you can, from those perspectives, call me a racist.

And re. the ‘piling on’, it’s not new here, when I posted some months back a question re the mathematical odds of three A lists to the same person out of literally a thousand plus nominations from hundreds of posters, which then keeps happening almost every week. My question was totally ignored, the first comment accused me of denigrating members of this community though I’d made a deliberate point of not doing that but the first to comment chose to ignore that and to attack me, then the rest piled on repeating his words and ignoring my question. ‘Herd’ mentality is commonly used, I prefer ‘flock’ mentality.

I was again disturbed by the vicious tone of the comments here when I recently made a casual suggestion that Ms. Fydo would be an interesting guest, and I was more disturbed when one of the group deliberately invited her over to read the vituperation.

And this week it’s happened again, none of you have dealt with my main question, the relationship between hip-hop and ghetto violence, you chose instead to, as usual, attack and denigrate the messenger, and then of course you accuse the messenger of denigrating you. In Blimp’s ‘housekeeping’ post I suggested that those who’d participated in this disgusting episode should re-read all the comments and then reflect on them, I hope they have.
I no longer feel comfortable here, to say the least, so I won’t be back. I have friends here and if they want to stay in touch I would welcome that, my email is readily available. Obviously everything stated here isn’t applicable to all.