Been a quiet week so here’s something for the locals. Local, that is, if you live in this part of East London (can’t stand it when people call it “the East End”, sounds so contrived). Anyway, this sprightly little ditty by Paddy Roberts won an Ivor Novello award in 1959. The references to rock ‘n’ roll, drainpipe pants and chewing gum nicely tie it to that year. Oh, and look out the album sleeve at 1:20…
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Monday, 26 April 2010
This month’s listening has included some fantastic new stuff. The Weller LP will as ever divide opinion (especially if you’ve seen his dreadful television performances) but after a gap of about 20 years I’m firmly back in the pro camp. If Roky Erickson’s doesn’t move you, nothing will. Fill your boots.
1. Little Jerry – “There Ain’t Enough Love” (1960)
I’ve lugged this rolling piano and horns single around in my DJ box for years yet hardly ever get to play it. I find out today that Little Jerry was Little Jerry Williams who was later became Swamp Dogg. You’re fascinated, I can tell.
2. The Four Tops – “Baby I Need Your Loving” (1964)
When people get married to the strains of Levi Stubbs and co, you know everything is gonna be alright. Mark and Melanie Wilkinson, this is for you.
3. Philamore Lincoln – The North Wind Blew South LP (1969)
Just when you think you’ve discovered every 60s album worth having, something like this lush, breezy, gently psychedelic masterpiece turns up and knocks your paisley socks off clean into next Tuesday. I only discovered it through Bill Luther and his Anorak Thing blog. To see what originally piqued my interest – and to continue our tradition of sharing stuff going back to our fanzine days - see here.
4. Lightnin’ Hopkins – “Let Me Play With Your Poodle” (1969)
If I had poodle there’s no way I’d let Hopkins anywhere near it.
5. The Last Poets – “True Blues” (1971)
If you’re a rapper (unlikely) and you haven’t studied The Last Poets you haven’t done your homework, boiy. Percussion, chanting, and a blistering torrent of street savvy militant poetry. Right on.
6. 20 Dollar Whore – “Big Black Lover” (2001)
Now, let’s see. The band are 20 Dollar Whore. Their record is “Teenage Fuckin’ Boredom E.P.” It has the Black Panthers on the sleeve. One side is “Side Asshole”, the other “Side Bitch”. They come from Kouvola, Eastern Finland. I’m guessing it ain’t a lot of fun there.
7. Serena Maneesh – “Blow Yr Brains Out In The Mourning Rain” (2010)
The album S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor sails too close to the shoegazing wind to be endorsed or encouraged but a couple of tracks stand out including this well titled racket.
8. Johnny Cash – “Ain’t No Grave” (2010)
I hope you didn’t send him any flowers, cos it seems old Johnny ain’t dead yet. “Ain’t no grave, can hold my body down” he wheezes. From the grave. Again.
9. Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation LP (2010)
Like 22 Dreams, Wake Up The Nation works best when listened to as a whole. As such its difficult picking out individual tracks but the further out there he goes, the better it gets. And he goes pretty far out: “7&3 Is The Striker’s Name” is the most extravagantly outlandish single of his career; he audaciously sings falsetto on “Aim High”; he invites Bruce Foxton back into the fold and gets him to play on the gibberish off-kilter lunacy of “Fast Car/Slow Traffic” as a punishment for “London Traffic” 32 years ago; and he throws in a mini rock opera, “Trees”, that has him singing as a woman “When I walk down any street, men would stop and stare/ Boys would whistle and their eyes would shine/ My skirt would swish to show my long strong legs so fine”. Sup up your beer and collect your fags, Weller – you’ve pulled.
10. Roky Erickson with Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil LP (2010)
Fragile, tender, graceful and deeply moving, the countrified True Love Cast Out All Evil is an album of unexpected, unsettling, redemptive beauty. After all Roky has been through – the acid, the madness, the home for the criminally insane, the electroshock therapy, the Thorazine, the poverty, the zombies and two-headed dogs - it’s an emotional listen: you want to wrap your arms around it as it slowly breaks your heart before delicately papering over the cracks. Album of the month and a marker for album of the year.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
What’s the best Bob Dylan album? It’s a question that comes up frequently enough. Only last week a gaggle of mods were discussing it online and answers ranged from Blood On The Tracks (that was me) to Time Out Of Mind (good choice) to a frankly ludicrous vote for Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid. In truth the debate was for “favourite” rather than “best”, so to solve that particular conundrum Eric Feezell from The Morning News has devised an ingenious Your Best Bob Dylan Album Calculator.
My result came out as Bringing It All Back Home and I wouldn’t argue. Give it a go here.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
I wouldn’t expect Nick Kent to challenge Art Blakey to a drum battle and I don’t expect Ginger Baker to raise the bar in music writing but even by rock autobiography standard this is disappointing. Never the easiest person to warm to, there’s little here to thaw Baker’s public persona. Showing little emotion (beyond the occasional burst of anger) he comes firmly from an era and a mindset where men were men and spoke with their fists, women were always chicks, and homosexuals were nancy boys. He leaves an impression of a sexist, snobbish, arrogant thug full of an inflated sense of self importance.
There’s no disputing his prowess behind the drums (as he relates countless times) nor the standard of bands he played with during the early 60s jazz scene and then the Graham Bond Organisation, Cream, Blind Faith, Airforce and all his African projects yet nothing is given a context; there’s no sense of changing eras or environments, just a loop of drums-drugs-chicks-fights, with a few road traffic accidents and horses thrown in. When a book about a musician doesn’t create the urge to discover or rediscover their music you know there’s something wrong. And when all the would-be interesting music stuff is confined to the first half of the book the second half is a chore.
I had to laugh though when he bleats like a child about his lack of song writing royalties from Cream. The way he tells it he should be entitled to a share of the royalties because he changed the intro to “White Room” from 4/4 time into a 5/4 bolero. That’s not really how song writing works dear boy. I might record Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” in the style of the Ramones tomorrow and see if Eric will cut me in for a slice.
There’s no need for another Rock Star’s My Drug Hell saga but his drug addiction is so lightly touched on there’s little appreciation for it. Maybe it was no big deal. The most memorable thing about first taking smack was it enabled him the complete a couple of crosswords. Elsewhere his callousness is startling: events such as abortions are passed over in two lines. He then gives up said chick as his polo club deems she comes from too poor a family. Charmed, I’m sure. Likewise, if he refers to the death of a close friend as “sad” you can call that a deep show of emotion. At his own son’s wedding service he fell asleep and acted like a dick all day without a shred of remorse.
Baker also whinges about – and stopped publication of – other biographies about him, referring to them as “crap”. Hellraiser, and his reluctance to open up and move beyond A to B to C, leaves the reader wondering if instead of being crap they merely got closer to an even more uncomfortable truth.
Hellraiser by Ginger Baker is published by John Blake, priced £18.99
PS: How bloody great does Eric Clapton look in that picture?
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
I have a ticket to see Gil Scott-Heron tonight at the Royal Festival Hall only some poxy volcano has put pay to that. It's cancelled with little chance of a rearranged date. Watch this from his latest waxing I'm New Here and feel my crushing disappointment.
Saturday, 17 April 2010
“Just popping down the road to the shops, do you want anything?”
“Yeah, can you get a pint of milk, toilet rolls, a pickled puppy, a two headed snake and some pig snouts painted gold?”
“Yeah, cool, see you in minute”.
As shopping lists go, that looks tricky but not if you know where to go and can summon up the courage to enter the Little Shop of Horrors on the border of Bethnal Green and South Hackney. This part of East London is generously populated with interesting independent shops and galleries but none quite as off the wall as this. The sign on the door warns folk offended by death and decay to keep away and they’d be well advised to heed that warning. Shrunken skulls sit next to bones which sit next to medicine jars which are gazed upon by dead animals and birds. Then there are books, bizarre toys, flannels with “Cuntface” embroidered on them, and heaps of bizarre curiosities I couldn’t quite fathom.
The pickled puppy, the two headed snake and the gold pig snouts were all in stock and although sorely tempted by a stuffed monkey I only bought a pirate ring. It was neither owned by a pirate nor made from one, but if you want to buy a ring made from a pirate this would be the place to look.
The shop is run by The Last Tuesday Society who are “devoted to exploring and furthering the esoteric, literary and artistic aspects of life in London and beyond”. Count me in.
And after all that, I forgot the milk.
Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors at The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, E8. Open seven days a week from noon until 7pm.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
As we’ve seen, Esquire reckons Kerouac’s workwear was “a nod to nonconformity”. Pah, poppycock. Here his old buddy goes for less a nod and more a full blown head-butt. Unruly beard, half a smile, undercrackers draped over noggin, Please Do Not Disturb sign swinging precariously from knob. Mr. Ginsberg, MonkeyPicks salutes you. Shalom.
Monday, 12 April 2010
Jack Kerouac was recently voted 23rd best dressed man of all time by Esquire magazine. According to them “because during the decade that brought the world The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Kerouac embraced workwear as both a functional uniform and a nod to nonconformity.” I’m guessing Jack would be flattered and bemused in equal measures.
For the full list see here.
Thursday, 8 April 2010
Some years ago I spent the day getting drunk in sports bar in San Diego and fell in with a group of locals. They were a raggedy bunch and in between fighting each other, making up, telling their hard luck stories, crying, fighting again, cadging drinks and scoring crystal meth, we somehow – incredibly – got on to the subject of The Kinks. It turned out me and one of them had both met Ray Davies. What did you say to him? “I said, “My name is Dan and I’m a fan””. Bet he loved that. “Oh yeah”. I wondered how long Dan had been into them. “Right from the beginning. Way back”. Can you remember the first record you bought? “Schoolboys in Disgrace”. Ah, right, their 1976 concept album with a cartoon of a naughty schoolboy having his bare bum caned. Nice.
That neatly sums up how there are to all intents and purposes two versions of The Kinks. I’d like to bump into Dan again to give him this DVD. He might like it. I feel like I’ve been tortured. The running time is listed as 87 minutes yet it felt like 870. There’s a ground swell of support for a Kinks reunion but careful what you wish for. The band are always held up as the quintessential English group yet hardly anyone in England gives a buttered scone or toasted crumpet for anything they did beyond the 60s. And they released tons of albums: one every year during the 70s, another five in the 80s, and then more still after. On that basis I’ll give The Story of The Kinks some begrudging credit for attempting to cover their entire career, it’s just a pity it’s done in such a sloppy fashion, you wonder why they bothered: a corny “legends” montage; a naff voice-over telling you the band were banned from the US “for unspecified reasons”; caption errors; poor quality footage; weird chronology; baffling song selections; uneven timings; clumsy editing; nasty slow-motion backstage shots; live stadium rock versions; and an endless procession of mullets. It’s awful. It’s like it was made for American television twenty years ago during someone’s lunch break. I’m surprised people have the brass neck to flog this shit – for the ludicrous price of £16.99 - in 2010.
But even with all those distractions, these are The Kinks and if you can persevere (and haven’t heard of that there YouTube website thing) there are slithers of fun to be had. As terrible an R&B band as they were, they were by default an incredible early punk band. Hear the savage treatment they dish out to “I’m A Lover Not A Fighter” and the slurred slaughtering of “Milk Cow Blues” live on television in 1966. And by contrast, the 70s ballads “Celluloid Heroes” and “Misfits” demonstrate if you rummage hard enough you can find excellent material post Muswell Hillbillies.
So there you have it. Dan, if you’re reading this, give me shout and I’ll send you the DVD. If nothing else you might get a couple of bucks for it to help feed the meth habit.
You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks is released by ABC Entertainment/Voiceprint, priced £16.99.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
This is the brilliant new single (round, black, 7 inch thing) from the Higher State. Bask in the warmth of its sun. Love the video too.
Monday, 5 April 2010
Well, that was some evening last night/this morning to finish this year’s four night Beat Bespoke event in olde London Town. All three rooms were packed and a buzzing atmosphere throughout. I was suffering with a stinking cold which was soon forgotten although I looked rough before I even went out, so heaven knows what I looked like after ten hours of caning the Stella. And to make matters even more interesting I managed to lose a contact lens so that created a bizarre disorienting effect. If you thought I was winking at you lecherously, I probably wasn't.
Here’s what I played for the first set at 01.10am. Doesn’t look much like what I’d intended, but that’s usually the way:
Leo Price Band – Hey Now Baby (Up Down)
Grover Pruitt – Little Girl (Salem)
Jessie Mae – Don’t Freeze On Me (Dra)
Artie Golden – Look Out (Sunshine)
Dorie Williams – Tell Me Everything You Know (635)
The Gardenias – What’s The Matter With Me (Fairline)
Bobby Peterson Quintet – Mama Get Your Hammer (V-Tone)
JB Lenior – She Don’t Know (Checker)
Banny Price – You Love Me Pretty Baby (Jewel)
Ernie Washington – Lonesome Shack (Chattahoochee)
Aretha Franklin – Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your jacket (Columbia)
Rufus Lumley – I’m Standing (Holton)
Mike Pedecin – Burnt Toast and Black Coffee (Federal)
Buddy Guy – I Dig Your Wig (Chess)
Dick Holler – Mooba Grooba (Comet)
Sugar Boy Williams – Little Girl (Herald)
Mitty Collier – My Babe (Chess)
Kim Weston – Helpless (Gordy)
At 05.10am came the closing set of the weekend. After three allnighters of great music for the connoisseur, thought it would be nice to end on an unashamedly populist one. Seemed to do the trick:
Gospel Pearls – Two Little Fishes (Liberty)
Gladys Tyler – A Little Bitty Girl (Decca)
Anna Belle Caesar – Little Annie (Glad-Hamp)
John Lee Hooker – Think Twice before You Go (Bluesway)
Harmonica Fats – Tore Up (Darcey)
Isley Brothers – This Old Heart Of Mine (Tamla Motown)
The Elgins – Heaven Must Have Sent You (Tamla Motown)
Barbara Randolph – I Got A Feeling (Soul)
Marjorie Black – One More Hurt (Sue)
The Marvelettes – I’ll Keep Holding On (Tamla)
Ann Sexton – You’ve Been Gone Too Long (Seventy Seven)
Sunday – Ain’t Got No Problems (Chess)
Mel Torme – Comin’ Home Baby (London)
Barabara Dane – I’m On My Way (3 Trey)
Marv Johnson – Come On and Stop (United Artists)
Lou Lawton – Knick Knack Patty Wack (Wand) for Guy
Darrow Fletcher – The Pain Gets A Little Deeper (Groovy)
The Temptations – Get Ready (Tamla Motown)
Edwin Starr – Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.) (Ric-Tic)
Cheers to everyone who made it so much fun.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
The shadowy world of Northern Soul is, on the face of it, a peculiar one. Trying to explain it to those who have never experienced it, or just don’t connect with it, is tricky, yet Tony Parker’s documentary Wigan Casino gets as close to any other film in defining its appeal. Made for Granada Television in 1977 it focuses on the legendary all-nighter venue and hears from regulars and staff at the Casino Club.
One unnamed bearded soulie eloquently explains the difficulty people have in understanding why young people from all over the country travel to a run-down northern town, to a casino that isn’t a casino, to a club that doesn’t open until half past midnight, which doesn’t serve alcohol, where you have little chance of copping off, and the music is obscure old soul records no-one else gives a hoot for. The music was the driving force (and remember the only feasible way for most to hear this music was to actually go out to clubs) but the sense of community and of forming an “alternative society” with its own codes of conduct offering escapism and shelter from the dreary lives and loves of the hoi polloi was equally as attractive to many.
The best parts of the film are the dance sequences yet they’re very familiar as whenever footage of northern soul dancing is needed it’s inevitably taken from here. But if you’re hoping the entire 26 minutes will contain a steady procession of flamboyant kung fu kicks and extreme pirouetting then you’ll be disappointed as Parker intercuts with scenes of drudgery at factories, a Socialist Worker seller hawking around the market, and gives space to old timers talking about friends being killed down pit, often to the unbearable soundtrack of god awful folk music. I like the socio-historical framing but others might prefer a tighter focus on kids backdropping to MVP’s “Turning My Heartbeat Up”.
Of all the music I love and of all the ways to enjoy it, there is little to compare to the feeling of being out on the floor in the early hours, at one with the music, executing a deft flick of the foot or a landing a perfectly timed soul clap to acknowledge and empathise with the heartache, teardrops, loneliness and misery of our elder transatlantic brothers and sisters. I went to my first all-nighter at the 100 Club as a sixteen year old and I’m out to one tonight. This has reminded me – if I needed reminding – why I still do it: it gets inside you.
With its short running time, no extras and no booklet, The Wigan Casino doesn’t represent terrific value but as a record of the time, it’s nigh on priceless.
“Tony Palmer’s Classic Film About The Wigan Casino” is released by Voiceprint, priced £9.99.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Thursday, 1 April 2010
The Who played the album Quadrophenia. Start to finish. It had its good parts and its bad parts. If writing a full review the bad parts would outweigh the good which would give a negative spin on what was an enjoyable enough show. Townshend’s theatrical impulses have stood the band in good stead over the years but rather than simply play the tracks his insistence (I’m assuming it was his rather than Daltrey’s) on showing a video narration between songs by a modern “Jimmy” was an unwelcome distraction and spoilt the flow of the music. (I'm showing my age there, it's probably not "video" at all, more like a hi-definition multi media wall screen enhancement facility). The odd growl aside, Townshend was in good voice but would it be cynical to suggest that Eddie Vedder only comes on to hit the notes Daltrey can’t?
The primary purpose was to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust so it’s churlish of me to pick too many holes. And far be it for me to rattle anyone’s tins but if you fancy donating you can do so here. Or any other cancer charity of your choice. There can’t be many of us who haven’t been, and still are, affected in some way. Speech over.
One benefit of donating from the comfort of your laptop is you won’t need to endure the embarrassing sight of the geezer from Kasabian playing the Ace Face with all the style and grace of a wooden X-Factor contestant on “60s Night” giving it some attitude.