Summertime Soul

I dunno why, but Summer always seems to mean soul to me. I think it is the heat, the sun, it has a languid lazy feel that makes me want to listen to some mellow grooves.

Anyway, here are a dozen tunes that seem to say SUMMER to me, mostly stuff from the 1970s, which was the heyday of blissed out summer soul and lazy funk grooves.

Notes from the underground

Nothing to do with Dostoevsky here, just me musing on the split between chart music and all the underground stuff that was such a big part of the musical landscape in the late 1960s and early-to-mid 70s.

Hoshino Sakura’s Slade post was the inspiration for this ramble through the past and it will be a ramble, because I am not really going to advance a grand theory here.

The 60s really was the golden age of chart music, probably only really equalled by the first part of the 1980s, times when the charts actually reflected what the young, the fashionable and the alternative communities were listening to and buying. I can remember when the charts mattered, because you would hear bands like The Who, The Stones, The Kinks etc, people who were making the thing up as they went along, following in the wake of The Beatles. You also heard a lot of black music courtesy of Tamla Motown. This was when the charts mattered, back when the Sixties were Swinging, or, to paraphrase George Harrison, back When We Were Fab.

I think it all changed after 1967, that was when the music changed, when it all got weird, when things got longer, be they hair, hemlines or pieces of music. You really couldn’t imagine something like Interstellar Overdrive getting much airplay and once people like King Crimson got going, you knew that there were things that wouldn’t be on Top of the Pops ever.

Of course, there were people like John Peel, Annie Nightingale and Bob Harris flying the flag for underground music on late night BBC Radio 1 and, for some of us, those shows were massively important. Where else, I ask, would we have heard Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Gnidrolog, Gentle Giant, Kevin Coyne, Gong or Kevin Ayers, to name just a few.

There was a huge amount of music coming out, music that was too varied, too long, too experimental or just too weird for the charts and for daytime radio. You just had to be in the know.

Being in the know generally meant having older friends, maybe elder siblings, who listened to The Grateful Dead or The Groundhogs or The Pink Fairies. It was a kind of rite of passage, an initiation, to be admitted to the world of the underground. It was also a kind of admission that you were consciously being different. You had nailed your colours to the groovy, psychedelic mast of the Good Ship Freaky. You were almost duty bound to dismiss the charts as uncool or a sell out.

There were exceptions, a few brave souls who would venture out from the patchouli-scented, dimly-lit fug of the clubs and the souks of Portobello Rd to release a single occasionally, maybe people like Atomic Rooster;

Now, I really like that one, but it is definitely at the poppier end of the Rooster’s output. There are plenty of other bands who wouldn’t have got on daytime Radio One, maybe like The Edgar Broughton Band?

Very Captain Beefheart in places there, I’m sure you’ll agree, and a long way away from Ballroom Blitz or Telegram Sam.

Anyway, not only did you listen to different music, you looked different, you tried, as best as you could, to look alternate. Of course, your Mum and Dad didn’t like it, mine even threatened to burn my Afghan coat because it smelt of goats. It was a sign of who you were, the music, the clothes and certain other things that all basically said Not Mainstream, Not Trendy.

I think that occasionally we all listened to stuff that we didn’t really like, nor understood, but it was part of being apart. If Peel played it, we listened, if TotP played it, mostly we sneered.

He’s got all the best tunes, you know.

It has often been said that the Devil has all the best tunes. There is also supposed to be something diabolic about certain types of music and there is the interval known as diabolus in musica (the Devil in Music) a.k.a the tritone, an interval known for dissonance.

Diabolic and Satanic imagery has long been associated with heavy metal and Goth has always been as much about decaying ruins, vampires and death as it has about music.

Jimmy Page was, at one time, deeply interested in Aleister Crowley, the so-called Wickedest Man Alive and founder of the occult religion of Thelema (motto – Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law) and the late Graham Bond was so obsesed with Crowley that he formed a band called Holy Magick and believed himself to be Crowley’s son.

Earlier still, it was said that Robert Johnson bacame a blues guitar phenomenon because of a pact with the Devil, signed at midnight, down at the crossroads. This idea later spawned a film about the same subject, culminating in a guitar battle between the Devil’s guitar hero, played by Steve Vai and the hero of the film, Eugene (guitar work by Ry Cooder).

So, music has a long tradition of dealing in the Black Arts and this playlist covers all the bases from posession and exorcism, through witchcraft, occult ceremonies and the Undead athrough to Hell and Damnation.

As you can see, we have 11 tracks. The task here is to decide which one will be saved from the Pit and which one will be cast into the Outer Dark forever.

The track listing is:

Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Siousxie and the Banshees – Spellbound
David Byrne and Brian Eno – The Jezebel Spirit
Dr John – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya
Black Widow – Come To The Sabbat
Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Cassandra Wilson – Hellhound On My Trail
John Martyn – I’d Rather Be The Devil
King Crimson – The Devil’s Triangle
The Clash – Straight To Hell
AC/DC – Highway To Hell

So, it is a case of Farewell, Voyager

It was reported this week that NASA’s venerable Voyager I probe has finally left the Solar System and is heading off out into the cold lonely reaches of interstellar space.

Launched in 1977, Voyager has gone further and faster than any other man-made object and will continue to send data back to Earth until its plutonium energy supply runs out in a few decades time.

So, I decided to put together a playlist that is in the spirit of space, the vast unknown, although not all the tracks are actually directly about space travel.

To keep it fun, the playlist is anonymous and therefore, ‘Spill points are available for those of you who can identify what is what.

Another Tuesday, Another Challenge.

Aha, another ‘Spill Challenge. No real theme here this time and Frippiness has been kept to an absolute minimum. I expect that many of these songs won’t be unfamiliar to most people and I hope that there is something here for everyone. Listening back, though, if there is a theme, it is that I think these tracks all seem to work well in our Summer heat.

So, same as always, What rocks your world and what rains on your parade?

01 – Intro/Sweet Jane – Lou Reed From Lou’s 1974 Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal album, featuring the twin guitar talents of
Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, who also played in Alice Cooper’s band.
02 – Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
The hot weather seems to suit the early Doobie Brother’s sound. This one has a languid, zoned-out feel.
03 – Baby’s On Fire – Brian Eno
The Bard of Braininess from his first album, Here Come The Warm Jets. with a suitably incandescent guitar solo by Robert Fripp (his only appearance on the list).
04 – He’ll Have To Go – Ry Cooder
A hit for Jim Reeves, Ry Cooder’s take is a laid-back affair with a Tex-Mex swing, courtesy of the accordion of Flaco Jimenez.
05 – Jacket Hangs – The Blue Aeroplanes
One of the best-known songs from Bristol’s Blue Aeroplanes. This is a band that needs to be seen live because Gerard Langley is a fantastic frontman. They had a non-singing dancer long before Bez came along, fact fans.
06 – Spencer The Rover – John Martyn
A traditional folk ballad given the inimitable Martyn treatment. One of my favourite songs on the album Sunday’s Child.
07 – There’s No Way Out Of Here – David Gilmour
From his first, 1977 solo album, originally recorded by a band called Unicorn (no, me neither) and released as a single, which flopped, probably because of the year. David gives his guitar a typical workout. This album is interesting, because it shows how Floyd would sound once Roger Waters left leaving David in charge.
08 – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels – David Sylvian
A typically atmospheric song from David Sylvian’s Secrets of the Beehive album. I am a huge fan of his solo work and I really think he deserves more airplay.
09 – Song With No Words – David Crosby
A dreamy drifting workout, basically a jam, from his 1971 solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, this features Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Mike Shrieve and Graham Nash. Hippy Royalty, really. Substances may have been involved in the recording of this track.
10 – Dolphins – Tim Buckley
Fred Neil’s song given the Buckley treatment at the Albert Hall in 1968. Danny Thompson on bass, natch plus guitarist Lee Underwood and David Friedman on vibes. His voice was never better, I think.
11 – Naked Eye – The Who
A regular feature of The Who’s live act but not ever an album track until a version appeared on the Odds ‘n’ Sods compilation. This is classic ‘Ooo.

The ‘Spill Challenge – Touched By Bob

Robert_Fripp

So, this week’s ‘Spill Challenge is all about the Wizard of Wimborne, Robert Fripp.

Apart from being the sole constant in the ever-changing kaleidoscope that is King Crimson, Fripp has contributed his guitar work to albums by many varied artists as a session player, recorded collaborative albums with others and produced a fair number of albums too.

The constant factor here is that everything either features Fripp as a musician or producer or has ex-Crimson members performing on the tracks on offer.

The rules are the same as always, select the one that appeals least and consign it to the dustbin of history.

So, to the music.

1) David Bowie – Up The Hill Backwards. Fripp had previously worked with Bowie on “Heroes” and this track is from “Scary Monsters”, probably Bowies last truly great album. Fripp plays on several tracks, and this one has some typically angular and spiky work.
2) Peter Gabriel – Fear Is The Mother Of Violence. Gabriel’s second solo album after leaving Genesis was produced by Fripp and also features him playing guitar on some tracks. A deceptive ballad, with a rather unsettling feel.
3) Van Der Graaf Generator – The Emperor In His War Room. VDGG were never an easy listen for many people and notably didn’t really go in for guitar solos, although Peter Hammill did play a bit of acoustic guitar. Anyway, here Fripp contributes some trademark sustain-driven electric guitar work.
4) 21st Century Schizoid Band – I Talk To The Wind. The band is made up from former Crimson members and occasionally tours playing classic Crimson tunes. This is from Crimson’s groundbreaking first album, “In The Court Of The Crimson King”.
5) David Sylvian – Wave. One of Fripp’s more interesting and enduring partnerships in the 1980s and 90s was with ex-Japan frontman David Sylvian. Fripp wanted him to join a reformed Crimson in around 1991, but it never happened. This track is from Sylvian’s earlier solo album, “Gone To Earth” and features Fripp’s distinctive sustained guitar and elements of Frippertronics.
6) McDonald and Giles – Flight Of The Ibis. After quitting King Crimson, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles released an eponymous album in 1971. This ethereal track is similar to “Cadence and Cascade” from Crimson’s second album, “In The Wake Of Poseidon”.
7) Daryl Hall – Something in 4/4 Time. Daryl Hall’s first solo album, “Sacred Songs”, was produced by Fripp, who also played on it. At the time, in 1977, Hall was enjoying a lot of success with John Oates as Hall and Oates and, fearing that this allegedly uncommercial solo record might impact on his success, Hall’s record label refused to release the album and it was shelved and only released three years later.
8) Judy Dyble – Dreamtime. Judy Dyble was the original female singer in Fairport Convention. She was also, for a time involved with the precursor to King Crimson, Giles, Giles and Fripp. She gave up the music business in the 1970s and only began perfonming and recording again in 1994. This track is taken from her 2009 album, Talking with Strangers, and features Crimsonites Ian McDonald and Pat Mastelotto.
9) Peter Hammill – Child. This track is from Hammill’s 1971 debut solo album, “Fool’s Mate”. The album is made up from material that Hammill felt wasn’t really suitable for VDGG but features all the band’s members as well as Fripp and several others.
10) Robert Fripp – North Star. From Fripp’s 1979 solo album “Exposure”. This features the vocal talents of Daryl Hall, again something that Hall’s record label wasn’t too pleased about. There are different versions of the album, with some songs rerecorded with other singers replacing Hall, notably Peter Hammill and Peter Gabriel, but both are available as a double CD.
11) King Crimson – Exiles. Finally, to round off, we have the Mighty Crim itself, recorded live in 1974 in Providence, Rhode Island and issued on the live 4-CD box set “The Great Deceiver”. This was arguably Crimson’s greatest line-up, with David Cross, John Wetton and Bill Bruford joining Fripp for some truly incandescent virtuoso playing.

Once Upon A Time ……..

Or, Long Ago And Far Away, or even Such was the tale, Socrates, which Critias heard from Solon...

Anyway, songs that tell stories or which are some way inspired by myths and legends. These are my contribution to the lovely West Country Social that was held last weekend Chez Abahachi.

I think that most people should be able to work out who is playing what, but let us treat it as a small game, ‘Spill points available, for getting all the artists and tracks right. I shall exempt the opening and closing selections.

‘Spill Game: Vote One (or more) Out (or in) Week 4

Well, I am not going to pretend that this week’s list represents either the best 11 songs I own, or even the best 11 songs by my favourite artists.

What it is, though, is 11 songs by artists that I like but who I generally don’t rave about. One or two might be a surprise to regular ‘Spillers who know my tastes run to vintage prog, 80s alt-rock, post-rock and other exotica.

The rules are pretty much as before; you must vote one or more of these songs off the list and say why. I’d like to add a refinement this week which is this; if you could only vote to keep ONE tune, which one would it be and why?

Amazingly, I note, this is my first ‘Spill post of 2012. Memo to self: Must Do Better.

And here are the tracks;

King Sunny Ade – Ja Funmi
Frank Zappa – I’m The Slime
Man – Back Into The Future
Daft Punk – One More Time
The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes
Laura Nyro – Eli’s Coming
St Etienne – Wilson
Spiritualized – Stay With Me
Todd Rundgren – Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel
Groove Armada – Song 4 Mutya
Seals and Crofts – It’s Gonna Come Down

The Crimson-Yes Axis

This post was inspired by those Pete Frame “Rock Family Trees” diagrams that I’ve always found so engrossing and which are a great way to waste an afternoon.

The idea for this particular one came from me listening to the first, eponymous album by the band UK, which featured Bill Bruford, John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Alan Holdsworth, with Bruford and Wetton being the rhythm section that powered the great “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic”, “Starless And Bible Black” and “Red” incarnation of King Crimson. The presence of Eddie Jobson reminded me that he did some violin overdubs for the KC live album from this period, “USA”.

Then I wandered mentally from UK and USA to Asia, another band that featured John Wetton and which also had Steve Howe from Yes, the band where Bill Bruford started out. You can see where this leads, can’t you?

So, I thought I’d put together a playlist that had one rule; the music must feature at least one member of either Yes or King Crimson playing under a different banner.

The musicians I have used are Greg Lake (KC’s original bassist/ELP), Ian McDonald and Michael Giles(also from the original KC line-up/McDonald and Giles), Bill Bruford (Yes and KC/Bruford/AWBH), John Wetton (KC/Asia – also played live with Roxy Music), Robert Fripp (KC – obviously/David Bowie/Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins), Mel Collins (KC/Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins), Steve Howe, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman (all Yes/AWBH), Vangelis (Yes/Aphrodite’s Child), Boz Burrell (KC/Bad Company and Eddie Jobson (KC in the studio/Roxy Music)

So, the track listing is;

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – The Barbarian
McDonald and Giles – Flight Of The Ibis
Asia – Only Time Will Tell
Aphrodite’s Child – The Four Horsemen
Roxy Music – Out Of The Blue
David Bowie – “Heroes”
Bill Bruford – Beelzebub
John Wetton – New Star Rising
Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins – The Other Man
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe – Order Of The Universe
Bad Company – Bad Company

There are lots of other connections that you can find if you are an obsessive about such things. If you wanted to branch out, you could link Yes to UK to Soft Machine and to Gong via Bill Bruford and Alan Holdsworth (because Holdsworth played with UK, the Softs and Gong). You can also link King Crimson to Gong via Theo Travis, who has played live with Robert Fripp. There are also links via Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. You can even link King Crimson to Hall and Oates via Fripp and his work on Darryl Hall’s first solo album, “Sacred Songs”. It goes on and on. I am sure that people can find other links.

Incidentally, the only reason I don’t have a UK track here is that for some reason I don’t understand, my PC was unable to open the CD.

Remember those NME mix tapes?

I am sure that many of us here were avid NME readers back in the 70s and 80s. Who remembers those tapes that they occasionally used to produce?

There is a site dedicated to them here that is an absolute nostalgia mine.

I’ve been looking through them and there are loads of tapes that I actually owned on there. Great memories.

Yes at the Colston Hall 16th November 2011

So, when was the last time I saw Yes? Well, it was in 1975 actually, at the Reading Festival when they were one of the biggest acts on the planet.

Since then, they have shed and regained members in a kind of revolving door policy, released a slew of increasingly less proggy and less artistically and commercially successful albums, had acrimonious splits, been Buggled, re-united, split and re-united again and have still managed to retain a hardcore following.

Since 2008, they have a new singer, Benoît David, who has played in a Yes tribute act called Close To The Edge and in a Canadian prog band called Mystery, and are once again playing with Geoff Downes on keyboards. They also have a new album, Fly from Here, which I shall admit to not having heard. Apart from these two, the current Yes line-up includes original bassist Chris Squire and classic period members Steve Howe and Alan White.

Tonight it was really all about the classic songs, plus some stuff from the new album.

I’d bought the tickets for this gig was back in January and it seemed for a while like it would never come around but tonight we were ensconced in our seats before the band appeared to the inevitable classical intro music and went straight into the classic Yours Is No Disgrace.

The band sound good, there are plenty of opportunities for Steve Howe to display his fretboard skills and they are in the groove immediately. They follow this with a track I don’t recognise and work through a set that gets in some things from the new album, which sound fine, seeing as I don’t know them at all, and enough classics to keep the punters happy. Benoît David has the right vocal range for the songs and has enough stage presence to not be overshadowed by Steve Howe and Chris Squire, who are definitely the dominant forces in the band. Geoff Downes has the musical skills but is definitely the hired help and Alan White is marooned behind a kit that seems to have pretty much everything you could imagine hitting with a stick.

For me the highlights are a magisterial And You and I, which leaves me quite moist-eyed and the long-time crowd pleaser Heart Of The Sunrise which is the closest Yes ever got to the menacing off-kilter dynamics of King Crimson. The band close on an absolute high with Starship Trooper, with an almost Spinal Tap jam at the end, with Geoff Downes on a keytar and a really rocking encore of Roundabout. I’d have loved a second encore of America, but the guys are getting on a bit now and probably wanted their cocoa and slippers.

A long time ago Charles Shaar Murray wrote a one word review of Yes. The word was “Maybe”. I think that the answer now is a definite “Yes”.

They have still got what it takes.

Re-visitation and re-evaluation

I’ve not posted anything much on The ‘Spill for ages, apart from a few comments here and there, work has been taking up lots of time and I am conscious that although I am listening to lots of music, I am not really writing about it. So, I thought that I’d better do something about that state of affairs.

Anyway, this piece is all about how sometimes a band can surprise you and make you go back and re-evaluate their back catalogue.

I made a comment on The ‘Spill ages ago about changing my mind about being someone who liked Radiohead to realising that I was someone who actually just liked The Bends and OK Computer.

That was based on the fact that I didn’t like Kid A, an album I’d bought, listened to once or twice and then just dismissed as electronic doodling.

I’d basically not bothered to keep up with what the band were doing, yes, I heard stuff on the radio but most of it I didn’t really get involved with and then King of Limbs came out. I heard “Lotus Flower” on the radio and thought it sublime and “Little By Little” also sounded like a good song to me, one that crept up and grew on me, in a way that Radiohead hadn’t moved me for a long time. So I bought the album and yes, I really liked it a lot. I liked the shifting, elusive quality of the music, the skittering electronic drum patterns, the layered sound and the enigmatic vocals. The music had a maturity that demanded attention. It reminded me of something else.

It engaged me in a way that I thought Radiohead weren’t able to do any more. Even more interestingly, the blend of sounds; electronica, guitars, brass, treated vocals and other instruments sent me back to Kid A. I thought that it finally deserved a re-evaluation. There were things that I thought needed placing in a context.

However, I didn’t go straight at it. I had a whole afternoon of Radiohead. I played King of Limbs, then went back and played The Bends and OK Computer. I had a bit of a think, realising that what I’d previously loved about the two earlier albums didn’t necessarily move me in the same way. I still liked the anthemic rock tracks and the dislocated ballads but the two albums sounded, how can I put it, a bit too straightforward and lacking in subtlety, compared with the slippery, jittery, layered music on the newest album.

So, then I approached Kid A again. Right from the off, the opener “Everything in Its Right Place” clicked. The dissonances, the samples, the avant garde string arrangements, the punchy, discordant brass (that sort of reminded me of some of the brass used on some of King Crimson’s albums) and the electronic treatments finally made sense. I listened to the album and then I listened to it a second time. It still sounded right and, weirdly, because everyone always says how much of a departure it is from what came before, I could hear elements of continuity with OK Computer. Not large elements, but subtle ones, things to search out. Now, listening to Kid A, I don’t hear wilfully difficult experimentation, I hear musical maturity, I hear musicians stretching themselves, re-inventing their band into something beyond the anthems, something mysterious, something deep.

The band has always shunned, rightly I think, the tag of being a “prog” band. I can see that, because they haven’t done anything that I’d call prog. There was always that hype about OK Computer being a Dark Side Of The Moon for the nineties, which was really just hot air. I am not sure that the nineties needed a DSOTM, any more than any other decade ever did, the original doing a perfectly good job by itself. However, there is something in the experimentation, the use of the avant garde and the way the music on Kid A is structured that is really progressive in a real sense. It is progressive because it marked genuine musical progress for Radiohead. It took them away from the stadium rock that would have been a straight-jacket. Plenty of bands would have probably been happy to carry on cashing in on “Creep”, “The Bends” and “Paranoid Android” for a couple of decades, but Kid A gave Radiohead a whole new language and landscape to explore. In a way, I am kind of glad that it took me this long to make the connection. It is nice to be surprised occasionally and it is always good to have a prejudice overturned.

So, can I call myself a Radiohead fan again? Well, I think the answer has to be “Yes” to that one.

The only problem now, is what do I think of the guitar-based albums now, as opposed to the electronic ones? I am currently thinking that the electronica is what I want to hear most.

So, back to the basic premise again. Can recent music by bands and artists make you reassess their back catalogue and see their output in a different way? We are used to seeing music come out in a linear way. Is there real worth in approaching a body of work in reverse? What can it tell us about the artists to look at their past music through the filter of their present work?

I don’t have an answer necessarily, but maybe there are other views here?

Carole’s latest quiz

Hi ‘Spillers, it’s time to start earning more of those valuable ‘Spill points again.

But remember;

Your ‘Spill points will not be brought to you by Xerox in 4 parts without commercial interruptions.

Your ‘Spill points will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

Your ‘Spill points will not be televised.

Your ‘Spill points will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia. Your ‘Spill points will not give your mouth sex appeal.

Your ‘Spill points will not be televised.

Anyway, there are a dozen intros from songs, some pretty well known, others maybe less so.

Over to you.

It’s like a bloody Zoo around here ………

OK, so I am taking the whole “Animals” concept quite loosely here, but I decided to limit myself to songs that referred to an animal or animals in the title.

I could have chosen many more, but these will all do quite nicely, I think.

I’ve not been posting much recently, pressures of work and life in general, but hopefully I am back now.

Anyway, the tunes;

01 God’s Monkey – Fripp/Sylvian
02 Kangaroo – This Mortal Coil
03 Animal Zoo – Spirit
04 Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
05 All The King’s Horses – Robert Plant
06 Groundhog – The Groundhogs
07 Tigermoth – Steve Hackett
08 Constipated Duck – Jeff Beck
09 Last Lonely Eagle – NRPS
10 Bird – Dead Can Dance
11 Boris The Spider – The Who
12 One Way Donkey Ride – Sandy Denny

It is grey, damp, melancholy, let’s think of better times ahead

There isn’t really a theme to this particular playlist, except perhaps that all the tracks I’ve chosen have a certain quality that reflects my state of mind at the moment.

There is a kind of otherworldliness about many of these, tinged with maybe a dash of melancholy, distance or maybe detachment from the day-to-day dullness of grey, dismal February.

I’ve tried to make the playlist a kind of voyage, starting out with a dash of experimentation that flows into Jerry Garcia’s achingly beautiful “The Wheel”, via some old and new psychedelia, a dash of a Fripp and Travis soundscape, a leavening of classically lovely female singing and finally coming home again, via post-rock, to a place of aching beauty again.

The photograph that heads up this playlist is one of my own. It is the Château de Sercy in the southern part of Burgundy, just north of Cluny. I have no particular reason to post it, except that it is a lovely place and the sky is blue in the picture.

We all need a bit of blue in our skies at this time of year. I think that February is the worst month of the year, but hopefully this playlist ends on an fairly uplifting and optimistic note and leads the way to a happy 2011 for all of us ‘Spillers and our loved ones.

Anyway, now for the music;

1. Jerry Garcia – The Wheel
2. Moby Grape – Looper
3. Mazzy Star – Look Down From The Bridge
4. Warpaint – Warpaint
5. Robert Fripp and Theo Travis – Moonchild
6. It’s A Beautiful Day – Bombay Calling
7. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Black Mountain
8. Sandy Denny – I’m A Dreamer
9. Mogwai – Like Herod
10. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun

Besides ……..

……….. No one ever plays the B-Side, do they? So no one cares what it sounds like.

OK, so you have an album out and you’ve picked the killer single, what do you do about that pesky flipside?

There are a few schools of thought;

1) Stick on another album track.
2) Put out something from the back catalogue that no one really likes enough to release on it’s own merits.
3) Use that song that wasn’t good enough for the album itself but is OK really.
4) Put the drummer’s new song on. It will stop him moaning that no one takes his stuff seriously.
5) Do a cover version of something you used to do live before you had a decent set-list.
6) Remix the single and bang that on.
7) Put on a really good song that will be a genuine treasure for the fans.

I suppose that there are other options but these seem to cover most bases, judging by what I’ve heard over the years.

I always liked singles back when they were releases in their own right, not radio fodder for the album’s marketing campaign, but most bands stopped doing that a long, long time ago.

I suppose that Factory, and also Rough Trade, kept on with the stand-alone single for longer than most, it fitted in with the real indie ethos that came out of punk and therefore, they probably kept the genuine B-side alive for longer than a lot of other labels.

Anyway, this is a rag-bag of different songs that in their own ways all fit into the options I’ve mentioned above.

In A Lonely Place was the B-side of New Order’s first single, “Ceremony”

A House Is Not A Motel was on the back of the USA single release of the great “Alone Again Or” by Love.

Dusty backed her single “Son Of A Preacher Man” with Just A Little Lovin’.

The Sundays I Kicked A Boy was the B-Side for “Can’t Be Sure”.

Him Dancing was remixed as the flip for Throwing Muses’ “Not Too Soon” (this though is the album version from “The Real Ramona”)

The Clash remixed “Magnificent Seven” as Magnificent Dance as the B-Side for that one.

Siouxsie and the Banshees put out An Execution as the B-Side for “Cities In Dust”, but left it off the original album release of Tinderbox.

AC/DC stuck another album track, Have A Drink On Me out when they released “You Shook Me All Night Long” from the classic Back in Black album.

Novelty was the B-Side on Joy Division’s “Transmission” single.

And finally, that well-known regular chart-topping beat combo King Crimson released the instrumental improvised piece Groon as the flipside for their 1970 smasheroo “Catfood”.

Back when it was all in black and white …..

Ah yes, remember the 1970s?

Top Of The Pops, Pan’s People, The Generation Game, only three TV channels and The Old Grey Whistle Test. We did what people always do when things aren’t so great, we partied. Mind you, we didn’t know things weren’t so good, we were all young.

Before punk came along and spat in the eye of prog, when the sequins were falling off of glam and when everyone drove brown cars, we had Austerity Britain. Remember? Crisis? What Crisis?

Remember when Life on Mars was just a David Bowie song and when the ultimate in chic involved nose-bleed inducing platforms and more make-up than the Revlon counter in Boots? Yes, we had it all. The Three Day Week, Beige, orange and chocolate swirly carpets, bottled Double Diamond and Spangles (the sweets, I mean, not sparkly clothes, although we had those too.).

If you can’t remember a Vesta Chow Mein and a bottle of Mateus Rose as the height of fine dining, well, what can I say apart from “You wasn’t a student in the 1970s”.

So, in the spirit of retro austerity, I offer up a vague approximation of a Student Union disco night with this playlist;

No track listing – it’s a disco remember, not too many surprises here but if anyone wants to play “Name That Tune”, feel free.

Bringing Back The Sun

So, Christmas is over, the weather is cold and wet, what do we have to look forward to now?

Oh yes! Of course, we can look forward to the return of the Sun and hot days and long balmy Summer evenings.

Anyway, to banish those Winter blues, here is some Sun-themed music to cheer everyone up.

01 Yes – Heart of the sunrise
02 Its A Beautiful Day – Hot summer day
03 David Gilmour – Fat old sun
04 Primal Scream – Higher than the sun
05 Bob Weir – Walk in the sunshine
06 The Flaming Lips – It’s summertime
07 Cocteau Twins – Frou-frou foxes in midsummer fires
08 Bjork – Sun in my mouth
09 Love – Bummer in the summer
10 Kate Bush – Sunset
11 Dead Can Dance – Black sun
12 Jimi Hendrix – Long hot summer night

Carole’s Albums of the Year

I don’t buy a huge amount of new music, which I doubt comes as too much of a surprise to people. However, I think that 2010 has been an excellent year for new music, albeit not always produced by new acts.

This year I have been enjoying a few new things, and one or two by people that I maybe should have picked up on earlier.

So, in no particular order, my favourite albums of the year are

Best Coast and Crazy For You


Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan‘s Hawk

apologies for the sound quality on that one, but I wanted a video with some action rather than just a shot of the album cover.

Grinderman‘s second outing

Robert Plant‘s Band Of Joy

Gorillaz‘s Plastic Beach

And Warpaint‘s The Fool

I have also enjoyed Robert Fripp and Theo Travis performing some amazing ambient soundscapes on their Live in Coventry Cathedral album, which was recorded in 2009 but released this year. Unfortunately, I can’t find any clips of this.

Carole’s Christmas Quiz

Jeez, I know I've heard this somewhere!

OK, it is a standard music quiz. Ten tracks, I want the artist and the track name, that is 20 answers there, each one worth a nice shiny special Christmas Spill Point.

Prizes? You want PRIZES!!!!!!

No prizes, just the warm fuzzy happy feeling you’ll have from getting these right.

I’ll keep an eye on the responses and post the answers on Christmas Eve.

The Time Has Come……

….The Walrus Said.

And speaking of many things, we have Cabbages and Kings, except there are no cabbages but we do have some Queens to go with the Kings.

Stretching the point a bit, because we open with Led Zeppelin’s mighty Achilles’ Last Stand. Perhaps Achilles wasn’t really royalty, but he is described as the King of the Myrmidons in The Iliad.

Mind you, the rest of the motley assortment of characters are pretty lacking in regal majesty, beauty queens, high-fashion queens, one-eyed people and various other weirdoes.

OK, so maybe they aren’t that different from most royal families after all!

Track listing

Led Zeppelin – Achilles’ Last Stand
Kate Bush – King Of The Mountain
Roxy Music – Beauty Queen
Camel – Mystic Queen
Steely Dan – Kings
Robert Plant – All The King’s Horses
Nektar – King Of Twilight
Rick Wakeman – Excerpts from The six wives of Henry VIII
Dead Can Dance – In The Kingdom Of The Blind The One-eyed Are Kings
The Who – The Acid Queen
Fairport Convention – Fotheringay
The Flying Burrito Brothers – High Fashion Queen

The Rick Wakeman “Six Wives” stuff is from the Yessongs live album and Fotheringay is from the Fairports’ Live At Cropredy 2008 album.