A few years ago I did occasional posts of some of my favorite albums from my vinyl collection, generally they were from the 1960’s/70’s. The advent of so much great music on YouTube prompts me to try again, this time with a single YouTube selection which will hopefully point you towards more offerings at YouTube or to Spottify if you want more. I have several on my desktop so if this works I’ll keep it going with a rather diverse set of selections, all favorites from long ago. 

The first is a showcase for one of my all-time favorite guitarists who sadly didn’t stay very long, another victim of the needle at an early age, his name, Michael Bloomfield, he’s joined by Elvin Bishop and the the album is East West by the Paul Butterfield Blues band. 

The title cut East-West is a remarkable oddity. On the one hand, it was a ’60s pop-music hybrid, combining the disparate musical styles of blues, jazz, modal and Eastern musics in a way that appealed to rock listeners. On the other, it was a virtuoso display that challenged the very notion of “popular” and pushed the limits of how pop music was heard. In some ways it bears comparison to the Miles Davis album, Kinda Blue and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, both of which challenged standard musical ideas. 

The piece was recorded in the summer of 1966 in Chicago at Chess Studios, the personnel were: 

Paul Butterfield — vocals, harmonicaMike Bloomfield — electric guitarElvin Bishop — electric guitar, Mark Naftalin — piano, organJerome Arnold — bass and Billy Davenport — drums

 Here’s East West, enjoy.

Spill Challenge Episode 5F24: Jumping the Shark

There’s that moment, in the career of almost every artist or group*, when it becomes unmistakably clear that something has gone wrong and it’s all downhill from here; the magic has been lost, they’ve forgotten exactly what it was that made them great in the first place. The concept of jumping the shark may have first been applied to tv series, but it applies to music just as much. It’s the moment when the singer gets religion and starts making unfortunate pronouncements about homosexuality. When the songwriter who made his name with gritty street-level realism starts writing songs about the difficulty of finding trustworthy domestic staff. When half the original members of the group have left, and they’re reduced to playing the bass player’s free-form jazz number. Continue reading

House Of Secrets

Doctor Pablo & Dub Syndicate – Man Of Mystery
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & Dub Syndicate – Secret Laboratory (Scientific Dancehall)
BEF & Billy MacKenzie – The Secret Life Of Arabia
Young Galaxy – Cover Your Tracks
Mercury Rev – Secret For A Song
Wave Pictures – Secret Garden
Swell Maps – Secret Island

Stereolab – Metronomic Underground
Yello – Le Secret Farida
Venetian Snares – You Discovered The Secret And Juiced It For All It’s Worth
Young Gods – Secret
Mark Stewart + Mafia – None Dare Call It Conspiracy
Up, Bustle & Out – Kennedy’s Secret Tapes
Wolfgang Press – Kansas
Orbital – The Box (Part 2)
Luxúria – Beast Box Is Dreaming

Earworms 25 June 2012

1: Earl Scruggs with Billy Bob Thornton – Ring Of Fire ~ SpottedRichard

Randy Scruggs heard Billy Bob’s album and called him to come talk to his dad about recording a Johnny Cash cover for the album Earl Scruggs and Friends. You may or may not like this “hick-hop” influenced version of the Johnny Cash song, but kudos to Earl for pushing the envelope all the way.

2: Iron & Wine – Belated Promise Ring ~ ToffeeBoy

Iron & Wine are one of the acts that I’ve ‘discovered’ through LastFM’s similar artists feature – I think that Sufjan Stevens was probably the link – and although I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve heard, they’ve never really grabbed me.  A bit samey – a bit monotonous – one-dimensional.  Good lyrics, good stories but not enough in the musical cupboard for my liking.  And then I heard this song and I can’t stop listening to it.  It starts off at a good steady pace and just keeps going right to the end, spreading harmoniously melodic joy on its way.  Hope y’all enjoy it too..

3: The Wailers – Bus Dem Shut (Pyaka) ~ AlBahooky

I came to the magic of Bob Marley late on and first heard this on the ‘Songs Of Freedom‘ box set.  Here he is with Peter Tosh & Bunny Wailer, pre – Perry & Island as The Wailers with a sublime melodic lightness to counterpoint the consciousness lyrics as enlightened by Robert Christigau : “Bus Dem Shut (Pyaka),” “bus” meaning “bust” and “pyaka” meaning “liar.”  – nuff niceness!

4: Tracy Chapman – Subcity ~ bishbosh

Compassion, empathy, a social conscience… All qualities greatly undervalued in rock and pop, IMHO. 20-odd years later, this still sounds depressingly timely.

5. Everything But The Girl – Don’t Let The Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart ~ Zalamanda

From the lushly orchestral album, “Baby, The Stars Shine Bright“, this always makes me think of a sad and lonely knight whose armour is at risk of rusting – as well as his heart. I love EBTG’s use of lyrics.

6: Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige – Never Gonna Break My Faith ~ Tincanman

Not hard to tell why Aretha was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame this spring. This song about struggling to understand a random fatal shooting is the most powerful gospel duet I know.

Here’s Tin’s Billy Bob Thornton interview.

A big Thank You to everyone who has send in these and other songs. If you have more, PLEASE! Send your juiciest worms plus a line or two per song on how you got hooked: to either or a wormhole near you. Thank you.

Tired, wet, muddy, crushed, pounded, ecstatic

tfd hits the Isle of Wight Festival. It hits back

I first realised something was wrong as I joined the (very long) bus queue in the pouring rain after getting off the hovercraft in Ryde. A rumour ran along the queue that it was taking the buses 6 hours to get to the festival site – a distance of 6 miles. That can’t be true, we thought. But it was, though our driver shaved off an hour by taking a detour via Newport. What had happened was that the first cars into the festival car park had immediately stuck fast in the mud; no more could get in, and the route soon got blocked with traffic for its whole length. We also heard that there were two car ferries circling in the Solent – the police were preventing them from landing.

Five hours later, then, the bus reached the site and I thought my troubles were over. It was dark by then of course, and still raining; and in front of me there appeared a vision of hell – a hill of mud, lit by strings of lights reflected on its shiny surface, up which a host of dark figures with tents and bags were slowly toiling. There was no way of telling how much further it would be once you got to the top. It was a lot further, and I dared not let my suitcase fall. For the first time, but not the last, I regretted my foolishness in not stopping to buy wellies on the way.

Continue reading

The Bhundu Boys, live at Cranfield Institute of Technology, 12th June 1987


Biggie Tembo (guitar + vocal) and David Mankaba (bass)

Inspired by Shane’s revelation that he has a Shona dictionary to assist with Bhundu Boys nominations, and a reminiscent mood caused by turning 50 last month, my thoughts wander to 25 years ago this month, half my lifetime, when I was Students’ Union President at the Cranfield Institute of Technology. Where the *#~* is Cranfield ?!? may well be your first thought.

Well, it’s between Bedford and Milton Keynes, near junction 14 of the M1. It was an airfield, then an aeronautical institute, then a university proudly calling itself an Institute of Technology, and since I was there has given in and calls itself a University. The Students’ Union was a small group of us trying to promote social life and student welfare on an isolated campus dedicated to profitable selling of technology and learning.

Rise Kagona

My predecessor had revived, surprisingly and successfully, the tradition of the Graduation Ball, and we were not a team to shirk a challenge. We had no hesitation in dedicating ourselves to seeking out the best music and comedy we could afford. Continue reading

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Concert Wednesday 20th June

Click On The Picture to see a really HUGE picture.
You may even spot TFD in the audience!

You may well be wondering why I am writing a post about the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert at the Albert Hall last Wednesday. It was the 5th (or was it the 6th?) that Treefrogdemon has been to since May. The reason is that I went too.

I was curious to see what all the fuss was about, more than anything. (She knows this!) I’ve sort of liked TP&H since the early 80s, in pretty much the same way as I liked Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Hornsby etc… great American R&R, but wondering now whether it’s just a little bit dated, you know? Of course I didn’t particularly know, and hadn’t made it my business to find out, so I went to the concert on Wednesday, to see what the big deal was and why TFD is so enthusiastic.

The concerts have received good reviews in the press. This is not surprising. Tom, Mike, Scott and the rest of the band were consummate professionals and highly skilled musicians. There was not one bum note for the whole 2 and a half hours they played, even when Tom stumbled over a microphone cable; he recovered from that really fast.  The set was excellent – lots of hits that I recognised and other stuff too that I did not.   I was so impressed with the growth in their sound; the richness and the sophistication that wasn’t there in the 80s.  There was no stagnation and no sense of a bunch of aging rockers coming out to thrash out their old hits in a mind-numbing way.

There was also a surprise.

Steve Winwood came out and joined them. Playing guitar and singing Can’t Find My Way Home, then moving over to keyboards to sing and play Gimme Some Loving.

The concert was an absolute treat. Incidentally, Helen Mirren was sitting directly behind us. TFD thought it wasn’t her because she looked too young. I am sure it was (as were Anne-Marie and Brad with us). She’s had work. 😉

My faith in the frog was not wanting.  Thanks TFD!