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.

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


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.

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.