Monday, 28 November 2011

Franz Liszt/Roger Daltrey - Love's Dream...

R.I.P. Ken Russell.   I was just saying again last week how brilliant the film Lisztomania is.  Like Beatlemania, though long before, Franz Liszt would inspire delirium amongst his concert audiences.  Poet Heinrich Heine is credited with the term 'Lisztomania'.  In the film, The Who's Roger Daltrey plays Liszt, while Paul Nicholas is his archenemy Richard Wagner. Ringo Starr plays The Pope and Rick Wakeman appears as Thor, a Viking Wagner attempts to reanimate.  I picked this up for my friend Craig MacNeil two years ago and he practically insisted I watch it before sending it to him. So glad I listened to him. The soundtrack is ace, and this lovely number is my favourite:

Liszt's Liebestraum No. 3, played by pianist David Wilde.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bettye Swann - Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye/Make Me Yours

In January of 2005, I moved back to London and, wandering down to a part of the Portobello Road I'd never been to before, happened upon Honest Jon's Records.  The shop also functioning as a record label (I didn't know at the time of its association with Damon Albarn) had just released collections by Candi Staton, Bettye Swann, and Willie Hightower.  Intrigued by what promised some lovely soul, but not wanting to spend too much on records and artists I'd never heard before, I opted for the first two, having always been a sucker for the female voice.  I got home and fell in love.

Bettye Swann's version of Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye remains one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard.  Such sweet melancholy tinged with everloving joy.  Her voice brings a great sigh of pleasure filled with everything, heavenly backing vocals adding to its depth.  The rolling piano announcing the stately horns beginning at 2:28 until the end is one of my favourite sections in all of music, it makes your heart melt.  Everything about this song, its feel, its performance, is perfect.

Two years later I'm back in London, this time at Flashback Records in Angel and seeing Bettye Swann's The Money Recordings, I buy it immediately. Rushing home to listen, I find, on the other side of the pop spectrum now, a delicious opening track called Make Me Yours.  Simply joyous, a POP delight.

The Slits - Vindictive...

I stopped by the studio the other day to visit the recording of Viv Albertine's xmas single.

My favourite Slits song was always Vindictive.   I was enormously excited the first time I heard it and it still thrills.  Such commanding energy, it sounds like they're ripping and tearing the song and everything else apart.  Riotous fun.  I never really knew what they were singing and it seems a lot of other people didn't either.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

David J - Space Cowboy...

The other day I finally got around to listening to the free cd that came with the first issue of Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic magazine.  You can download the whole thing for free here.  And the last song is a lovely acoustic reminiscence by David J, whose work (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets, solo records, The Sinister Ducks with Alan Moore and Alex Green) I have always loved.  Here's my review of his just-released solo album, Not Long For This World, a great record and featuring one of the best songs of the year, The Last Cigarette.

And here's Space Cowboy, from 1992's Urban Urbane, a delicious pop rush:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


A bit of a departure from the usual pop stuff on here, but I've found that people who have good taste don't tend to limit themselves stylistically.  A few hours ago it popped into my head to see if the first Bullroarer 7" was online.  A record I loved on its release in 1997and bought extra copies of to give to my friends, who needed to hear it. We were all in Boston, MA then and seeing them play was inspiring.  They created this wonderful, rampant, psychedelic ROCK, tapping into primal energy and soaring with visions.  Tom Hohmann is one of the most precise, powerhouses of a drummer you could ever wish to hear.  I remember him telling me that the first time he ever played drums was tripping on the day Kurt Cobain died, he broke 2 plastic rods off a multiple plant hanger and sat down at his buddy's drum kit.  And Colin Langenus once had 3 people screech as high and loud as they could in order to demonstrate what the ringing was like in his ears.  They made a highly original beautiful noise and you can download their entire discography for free.

Two live clips from a gig in Boston, May 1998:

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Real Tuesday Weld...

My interview with Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld is now up on godisinthetvzine.  I'm very pleased with it.  One of my favourite songwriters, he's written more than his fair share of timeless pop classics.  I've mentioned Dreaming Of You and Daisies before, but here's a few more:

The Ugly & The Beautiful, one of my all-time faves.  Just a wonderful song, really.  Starts about 1:38 in:

The heartwrenching Over The Hillsides (live at Corsica Studios, 25th September 2008):

The life-affirming, dancing-past-the-dawn whimsy of The Show Must Go On:

And I just found this video for their version of Brazil, which was a pleasant surprise on the 2008 tour:

The Damned - Little Miss Disaster/Diamonds...

Still on a high from seeing The Damned on Saturday night.  There are two absolute pop gems on So, Who's Paranoid? that I think deserve more attention.

Little Miss Disaster is MAGNIFICENT burst of POP!:

And Diamonds is a melodic delight (with very literal lyrics ; ), here live from the Craig Ferguson show 31/10/08 (Hallowe'en!):

And Neat Neat Neat from the same show the night before.  Glad to see they got such exposure in the States with these.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Damned - "Wait For The Blackout"/"History Of The World Part 1"...

I went to see The Damned's 35th Anniversary Tour last night at The Roundhouse.  I've reviewed it for godisinthetvzine so I won't say too much, except it was what I was looking forward to most this year and it did not disappoint.  They were playing Damned Damned Damned and The Black Album in their entireties, plus a hits encore.  Damned Damned Damned was a joyous explosion of raw energy, especially the anthems "Neat Neat Neat" and "New Rose", but it was The Black Album portion of the show for me that was truly wonderful, being one of my favourite albums and containing two songs of the highest quality.

"Wait For The Blackout" is MAGNIFICENT.   Riotous fun from note one, a guaranteed feel-good pick-me-up.  Hugely catchy riff, great melodies, wonderfully fun subject matter,  amusing middle-8, killer outro.  A perfect song, in my opinion.

With Rat Scabies miming Dave Vanian's vocals:

Great BBC Session (October 9th, 1980):

From The Roundhouse gig last night (November 12th, 2011):

And then there's "History Of The World Part 1".   An epic single which should've been #1 for weeks.  Enormous in scope, vast darkness speckled with thunderous ethereal lights.  Gorgeous melodies, insistent playing, hugely musical, carrying one on a grand sonorous journey.

Mike Read Session 9-10-80:

And an absolutely frantic "I Feel Alright" from last night:

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mikael Tariverdiev (Микаэл Таривердиев)...

My most important musical discovery in a very, very long time, perhaps even years, I came across the work of Mikael Tariverdiev at the end of Marcella Puppini's radio show when she was interviewing Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld.  Heard as the last song here, this piece from the 1966 Russian film "Goodbye Boys" begins with a lovely, delicate piano, tiptoeing through the shadows of a marbled city, before changing course, slightly heavier and swaying now, joined by wistful humming, bouncing along on the back of a pickup truck through dirt and fields, out into the twilight.

Tariverdiev writes exquisite songs in the grand European tradition, often sung by the popular Russian singers of the day, and reminding me of Gainsbourg on more than one occasion.  I can't find any of his work available to buy, so here is a double cd Best Of that seems to be a safe download.  

And another lovely one here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mikey Georgeson - "Moth In The Flame Of Carnality"...

I keep meaning to write many posts on David Devant & His Spirit Wife, Mr. Solo, and the man behind it all, Mikey Georgeson, who I consider one of our greatest songwriters.  He has written the most songs I consider to be of the very best.  Will get to those posts soon, but until then, here's a new one that's stuck with me since I heard it.  Utterly lovely:

And now there's a more fleshed-out band version:

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Afghan Whigs covers...

Yesterday I mentioned that The Afghan Whigs are my favourite covers band.  Their takes on other people's  songs are almost always a delight, often matching or outdoing the originals for quality.  The recorded versions are mostly Motown and soul but live Greg Dulli would launch into seemingly whatever crossed his mind at any given moment (a tradition he continues to this day).  Some of my favourites:

A perfect version of "Band Of Gold":

An astoundingly lovely "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road":

Dulli often changes major key classics into more menacing minor key versions, as is the case with "Come See About Me":

These three above are all on the highly-recommended  Uptown Avondale E.P.

I've been looking for them doing the Stones' "Beast Of Burden" for a while, knowing it'd be great, and here it is live in Montreal '98:

"Dear Prudence" was always a treat live.  Evidence at the beginning of these two of what a great frontman Dulli is.

The Twilight Singers doing "Hey Ya":

A soul-aching "Dark End Of The Street":

And if you can find the Beautiful Girls soundtrack, the Whigs' cover of Frederick Knight's "Be For Real" is excellent (done here by Leonard Cohen).

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Divine Comedy covers...

The other day I discovered this version of The Divine Comedy covering The Pixies' "Gigantic":

Which led me to today finding Neil Hannon covering the Pet Shop Boys' "Being Boring":

They've always been a great covers band, rivalling even The Afghan Whigs, who I believe have probably given us the greatest covers of other people's songs.  But Mr. Hannon is such an excellent musician, he's able to play any song by ear; a highly entertaining part of the show often being his asking for people to shout out requests, though they must not be his own songs.  Catching The Divine Comedy on the Absent Friends tour in Boston, MA, at TT The Bear's, we were treated to fun takes on Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O'Mine" & Oasis' "Champagne Supernova" with an amazing version of Prince's "Purple Rain".

Here's Neil doing The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" at The Lexington in London 4/11/10 (so wish I had known about this!):

With Cathy Davey performing "I Only Have Eyes For You" at Manchester Academy 9/11/10:

There's the 3 Magnetic Fields covers from the b-sides:

Jacques Brel's "Jackie":

A lovely lo-fi take on "Moon River":

Roxy Music's "Oh Yeah":

"Life On Mars?" with Yann Tiersen:

Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" and "The Model":

Edwyn Collins' "Untitled Melody":

MGMT's "Time To Pretend":

Sacha Distel's "The Good Life":

Randy Newman's "Lonely At The Top":

And these last two come from the bonus disc of "Bang Goes The Knighthood", recorded live in Paris at Cité De La Musique, 23/9/08.  I was at the second of these gigs, where Neil alternated between classic chanson and his own songs.  Here's him doing Jacques Dutronc's "Les Playboys".  And then one of my fondest gig memories when he went from Francoise Hardy's cover of Mina's "Se Telefonando" (one of my all-time favourite songs) "Je Changerais D'Avis" into his own "Tonight We Fly".

And there's plenty more too.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Martin Newell...

Yesterday Soph and I traveled to Wivenhoe to attend Martin Newell's book reading at the Wivenhoe Bookshop, for his new book, 'Stars On A Tray', a collection of his Saturday columns for the East Anglian Daily Times.   I discovered Mr. Newell's (abundance of) work last summer when I stumbled across "Living With Victoria Grey: The Very Best Of The Cleaners From Venus" on the internet somewhere and fell in love with it.  (I was so impressed that I listed "Discovering Martin Newell & The Cleaners From Venus" as one of my highlights of 2010 for Friendly Noise magazine)  I was also astounded at the story behind the band, how many of their albums were very unconventionally released home cassettes and you'd have to send away or trade for them, but all yielding a lot of amazing pop songs.  A few of these are due to get a proper, remastered, release very soon, but since it took me a while to track a lot of them down, here's some of the original cassette recordings here.

We met the man and he was very nice, funny and interesting, filled with a real passion for music and the life he's led. Some great stories.   He seemed to really enjoy talking to Soph about The Plod, his first band, and was excited and surprised that Soph plays them at GlamRacket.  We each picked up his, what looks to be highly entertaining, memoir of those days, This Little Ziggy.

There really is an incredible amount of music to delve into.  Besides his solo work and The Cleaners (from both of which he continues to release albums and e.p.s at least once a year, details on his site), there's the Stray Trolleys (this took me a while to find but is great) and The Brotherhood Of Lizards.  Here are some of my favourites:

"Goodbye Dreaming Fields".  Lead-off track from his "The Greatest Living Englishman" album.  Produced by Andy Patridge of XTC and Martin's best-known work.

The incredibly lovely "Mercury Girl" by The Cleaners From Venus:

"Victoria Grey":

"Marilyn On A Train" (the 'Blow Away Your Troubles' version is great too):

For more of an introduction to Martin Newell's life and work, there's the Cherry Red TV interview conducted by Iain McNay: