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.

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