Friday, April 01, 2011

The Jim Jones Revue - Foghorn


ORIGINATION Burning Down Your House
RECORDED IN
2010
LAST LISTENED TO
day before yesterday
RATING
★★★★★

After seeing these guys going all-out on Monday night and then main-lining them most of the rest of the week, it is only a surprise it took this long for them to show up in my morning head. Foghorn is a pretty typical number from their latest album, sitting somewhere between good time rock 'n' roll, garage rock and with just a hint of the blues. The vocals, never more than a breath away from a soul scream, deliver the borderline-clich├ę lyrics with verve and passion, surrounded by soaring guitars, a piano that strays into Jerry Lee Lewis' madness and relentless drumming. A kick of adrenaline to start the day.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jerry Lee Lewis - High School Confidential (Live)


ORIGINATION "Live" At The Star-Club Hamburg
RECORDED IN
1964
LAST LISTENED TO
October
RATING
★★★★

In 1964, Jerry Lee Lewis had been recording music for nearly a decade, was several years from his last hit, had been more or less ostracised for his marriage to his teenage cousin and was out of fashion. Rock 'n' roll was dead, just a teen fad that had had its turn. The odds were clearly not in his favour on the one night he played with a pick-up band in the club that helped make The Beatles name. Yet against those odds, he not only prevailed, he recorded was must be one of the best, if not the best rock 'n' roll album. To be sure, the competition for that title is not fierce, yet even so there is no question that this would surely rule because Jerry Lee, The Killer, is absolutely on fire. Solid gone. His frenzied performance is barely contained, so much so that his young backing band can barely keep up with him, even though they give it a hell of a try. It is a manic performance, utterly deranged, and an absolute necessity for anyone with even a passing interest in rock 'n' roll, hell, with even a passing interest in music. Nothing has ever rocked quite like this and it is unlikely anything ever will again.

High School Confidential is one of Jerry Lee's hits from his period on top, before events turned against him. A fast-paced tune to begin with, here he attacks it without mercy, tearing to shreds. The band do their best to keep up but even so, around two minutes into the song you can hear them hurrying to catch the madman. You also get to hear that madman yelling at 'himself to play that thing' during his solo, before referring to himself in the third person. Deranged. Irreplaceable. Genius.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Stooges - Cock In My Pocket


ORIGINATION Head On
RECORDED IN
1972
LAST LISTENED TO
a week ago
RATING
★★★★★

Yesterday I read a news article by a journalist who was either very pushed for time, or just plain lazy. It parroted and assertion made by the music industry that the recently-published decline in physical music sales in the UK is due to online piracy. Not only is this impossible to prove, indeed there never seems to be any proof attached to these statement but some of the proof available actually points to the opposite truth – that online piracy has led to an increase in consumption of paid-for music by these very pirates themselves. On top of that, there is the heavy irony of the music industry accusing others of piracy, given the notoriously tiny percentage of each sale that goes to the artist and that's when the CD is full price, one wonders if artists make any money at all from cut-price CDs.

Which brings me to this morning's song that I found on a double CD of bootleg recordings, apparently officially released, on sale at less than half price. Given the sound quality of the music, and at times the quality of the music itself, the price does seem rather appropriate, artist payments aside. The songs all come from the period when The Stooges where disintegrating between music contracts, although the energy in the music shows that they were still on top of their game. Cock In My Pocket is one of the most coherent songs on the collection. Focused and taken at a blistering pace, it gives the listener to wondering what would have happened to the Stooges if drugs had not taken their toll. As ever, and in particular due to the lyrics that would almost certainly never have seen a commercial release at the time, this is not music for the faint-hearted. From James Williamson's guitar to Iggy Pop's snarl, that is as raw and uncompromising as anything in The Stooges official catalogue. It also stands apart from that official sound with the addition of a piano, here not only used for colour as happened on occasion previously, but as a full part of the song. Indeed both the pianist Bob Sheff and Williamson are invited (or possibly directed) by Pop to takes solos during the song. Memorably Pop calls out Williamson by shouting "Any time James" during Sheff's solo. For an supposedly unfinished piece, it is quite a song.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Politicians - Psycha-Soula-Funkadelic


ORIGINATION Come Together - Invictus Club Classics II (v/a)
RECORDED IN
1972
LAST LISTENED TO
yesterday
RATING
★★★★★

A fairly deep cut of funk rock took me from sleep this morning. It has, um, guitars, brass, a damned good intro, as well as some men shouting the title over and over. Although the latter does seem rather odd, given that they're not Funkadelic. All in all, pretty groovy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joy Division - Transmission


ORIGINATION Heart And Soul
RECORDED IN
1979
LAST LISTENED TO
two days ago
RATING
★★★★

Is it about the power of music? An illustration of how it can give us the energy to transcend our difficulties? Or is it simply about dancing to forget them? It is tempting to let the history of Joy Division dictate the answer to this. Perhaps that is unfair. Better instead to just dance.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tom Waits - Rain Dogs


ORIGINATION Rain Dogs
RECORDED IN
1985
LAST LISTENED TO
yesterday
RATING
★★★★★

Few things in life as quite as fine as Tom Waits during his rebirth years of the mid-eighties. Rain Dogs was Waits' ninth album and the second in his move away from the lounge-style sound he was originally known for. The album is said to be about the urban dispossessed, which is seen by some as Waits straying into territory marked out in literature by Charles Bukowski. Whatever the truth of that assertion, the title track here does have something of that flavour to it, both in its impenetrably picturesque, booze-soaked lyrics and the strange thrift-store orchestra. It is a combination that Waits has been working in ever since, in his own unique way, and it is the reason why he has become such a worshipped cult figure.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

John Barry - We Have All The Time In The World (Sung By Louis Armstrong) [again]


ORIGINATION On Her Majesty's Secret Service LP
RECORDED IN
1969
LAST LISTENED TO
last night
RATING
★★★★★

I had this one a few weeks ago.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Joyce Dunn - A New Change Of Address


ORIGINATION Sister Funk
RECORDED IN
1970
LAST LISTENED TO
last night
RATING
★★★★★

This morning's ingredients: great brass, fine drums, slightly opaque lyrics that could be euphemistic but on closer inspection are all about being done wrong, burning sax and just a hint of organ. Of such fine things is good funk made. The world seems to know little about Joyce Dunn, other than she released this single on Mercury in 1970 and that's a damned shame. If she recorded other tunes as good as this, the world really needs to hear.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tito Puente - On The Street Where You Live


ORIGINATION Beats & Pieces Volume Two: Music Constructed For A More Discerning Dancefloor (v/a)
RECORDED IN
1964
LAST LISTENED TO
last night
RATING
★★★★

Timbale player Tito Puente was known as the King of Latin Music and with good reason. He plied his grooves for over fifty years and helped popularise a whole genre of music for several generations. Today's tune comes from his latinisation of the score to My Fair Lady, where he turned this overdone Broadway chestnut into a swinging big band number. Puente's percussion is the heart of the song, ticking and swinging and driving. The blood that pumps through it is the two-note bass that runs up and down the scale, almost willy nilly. The body is the wind instruments, the big band that is so very well scored: a full blast of the band here, counter melodies between the brass and wood there and those fantastic, gradually built-up crescendos. The arrangement is just spot on, not only giving the band time to establish the melody and really swing with it, but also leaving plenty of space for Puente's rhythms. This is a song to stick on repeat, to smile and to feel those hips start to wander.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

[radio silence]

This morning was one of those rare silent mornings. It was odd. I lay in bed, with no song in my head and I listened to the world. Traffic moved on the next street down and out on the main road, an argument of herring guls held a discussion on the rooftops all around, my combi-boiler topped up its pressure, a neighbour took a shower and my radio alarm fizzed awake into detuned national morning radio. After a while, I got up.