Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goldfrapp - Strict Machine

CHANCE OF WAKING TO IT pretty durn good

Ahh. What a nice way to end the year. This CD has featured on many of Suse and my trips into the highlands of Scotland and this week was no different. Whenever i hear it, i always picture mountains sliding by under an overcast sky. I think we listened to it on the stretch through Tyndrum towards Rannoch Moor this time.

Strict Machine is a few years old now (2003), but it's still sounds sparkly and new. It's a sleazy piece of glam-dance that runs on squelchy synths. These synths sound both very modern and yet also curiously retro, especially during the glam-rock stomp moments.

Alison Goldfrapp's lyrics could be seen to be, once again, quite rude, complimenting perfectly the sleazy feel to the song. However, her angelic delivery works as a perfect counterpoint to this. The result is a sleazy yet pretty song with stomping bits of glam rock sprinkled throughout.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sons And Daughters - Taste The Last Girl

ORIGINATION The Repulsion Box CD

The Sons And Daughters formed in 2004. They follow in the footsteps legendary Scottish band The Vaselines, featuring joint male/female vocals over sparky indie-pop.

This track is one of the stand outs from their 2005 CD and was in fact put out as a single. The lyrics are a little hard to fathom for a thickie twirp such as i, however they are very enjoyable, especially the female half which sound quite scornfull. The male half contains a nice little stuttered 'n-n-n-n-n-n-noooo' which occurs throughout the song in place of any chorus.

Like the rest of their work, this is short, to-the-point and catchy. Go look them up. It's always worth supporting new bands and i have to thank Julie for putting me onto this one.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Black Sabbath - Into The Void

ORIGINATION Master Of Reality CD
LAST LISTENED TO fairly recently

For me this is the heaviest the Sabbath ever went. It's the closer from Master Of Reality in 1971 and is one of my top five Sabbath tracks. Maybe even top three. It's a hard choice.

The intro is typically Sabbath and is nothing special (for them). It's not until around the minute and a quarter mark that things get interesting, when the bass and drums pull out to give Tony Iommi space to play the heaviest riff ever recorded. That in itself would be enough to make the song. Happily, Ozzy's lyrics are pretty good too.

Here Ozzy has chosen to issue humanity a warning of its dire future in the form of an apocalyptic sci-fi vision. In this vision, man has ruined our planet and only a few are able to escape to seek freedom in the stars. It's doom and gloom that fits to a tee the heavist riff ever recorded.

The song starts with this verse:

Rocket engines burning fuel so fast
Up into the night sky they blast
Through the universe the engines whine
Could it be the end of man and time
Back on earth the flame of life burns low
Everywhere is misery and woe
Pollution kills the air, the land and sea
Man prepares to meet his destiny

From here things just get darker, with that riff just churning on throughout. It closes with a few minutes of soloing, which doesn't really excite anywhere near as much as that riff.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Freddie Hubbard - Keep Your Soul Together

ORIGINATION Keep Your Soul Together LP
LAST LISTENED TO in the past few months

A fine and funky bit of soul jazz from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard in 1973. A very funky cycling bass line anchors the song, with the support of both drums and percussion. Over this both the trumpet and tenor sax solo for extended periods. A light sprinkling of electric piano runs along behind this, somewhere between the rhythm and the solos.

There is not a lot of trumpeters in soul jazz. Most of the soul jazz i am aware of mostly features sax and organ, so it is a treat to hear this track, especially as it is one of the funkiest examples of the genre.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Byrdie Green - Return Of The Prodigal Son

LAST LISTENED TO very recently

Byrdie Green recorded this piece of gospel-soul in 1968. Her father was a preacher and there is something of the feeling of a sermon in this track which i believe is based on a passage from the bible.

Byrdie's vocals are strong and understated and they are backed by some equally restrained music. The music is primarily driven by uncluttered drums and a high in the mix bass. The groovy vehicle is augmented by southern soul guitar chops and some choice churchy organ. It a simple affair but, like the vocals, it's strong and it's groovy.

This edition of the song was, like several others entries here, reissued by Jazzman records about whom not enough good things can be said.

Friday, December 23, 2005

(dead air)

Nothing today at all. But you've got to expect that when you've been up for several hours and have travelled many hundreds of miles before the time you'd normally get up at.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Alan Hawkshaw - Dave Allen At Large

LAST LISTENED TO a while ago

I first heard this on the above compilation, Future Sound Of The UK Vol.2, which was mixed by The Freestylers. I think this was the first time that i knew i was listening to Alan Hawkshaw. I have since come to realise that i had been hearing him since i had first watched tv, but had not been aware of it. The Hawk has been a lynchpin of British library for a long time and as such his music has been placed in more (and varied) tv programmes than you can imagine. This here is one of the best and that's because it's one of the ones to feature his mighty organ most prominently. There's also a fantastic brass intro.

Hawkshaw recorded much more music like this. Some of it was even given a proper release, under the name of The Mohawks. Look out for it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Doors - The Soft Parade

LAST LISTENED TO foolishly it was this week
CHANCE OF WAKING TO IT higher than it should be

Funnily enough, just the other day i was wondering who would be the first artist to appear on A Song For The Day twice for different songs. Today is that day and that artist is The Doors. Or are The Doors. Whatever. Sadly, this morning's song leaves a lot to be desired and, whilst it's not pure pish, it's certainly not pure genius either. In fact, it's not pure anything. It's much too much of a cross-breed bastard to be that.

To begin with, you need to know that The Soft Parade album is the worst ever recorded by The Doors. There are many things wrong with it, too many, in fact, to go into here. However, the problems in the title track are a good example of the problems of the whole.

For starters, there is the start of the song. It's really crap. Pretentious Jim "American Poet" Morrison twaddle at it's worst. That's followed up by two minutes of The Doors Musical Improv School as they take a bash at a number of very ill-advised music styles. At best this portion is embarrassing. At worst there is Morrison with more stupid lyrics. It's really quite hard to take and it's advisable to skip forward to 3:04, the point just after Morrison's ludicrous exclamation of "The monk bought lunch!" and the end of the nonsense. From here on it's Doors-by-numbers, fairly enjoyable, but nothing special in itself. Only Manzerak's organ is notable for being better then average.

The Soft Parade represents the end of the path The Doors had found themselves straying down: the nadir in their career, unless you want to be picky and note that as the death of Morrison (and we'll not even mention their most recent incarnation with The Cult's Ian Arsebury). This path had carried them down a vaguely hippy-ish, vaguely mystical path. It's easy to put all the blame for this on Morrison as it's his lyrics that seem to be the most guilty of leading them down this path. But that would be unfair. Well, a little unfair. All four of them got them to this point and clearly their inspiration was all but exhausted by the trip. In The Soft Parade, none of the extra instruments or money thrown at them helped alleviate this problem. It took a stripped, back-to-basics sound and less Morrison nonsense to solve that, which is where their next LP came in…

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Full Grown


It's got a really rude intro ("Baby, baby you sure like to f**k!"). It's got a whole host of stupid lyrics. It's got a squelchy moog bit. It's got hand claps. It's got breaks a-plenty. It's got pseudo-Elvis singing. It's about shagging. It's full of silly asides ("Ah shucks, you make me feel so unnecessary"). It's got more excitement than a bag full of miniature James Bond clones on crack. It's dumb rock 'n' roll. Basically, it's classic Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

It may be not break any new ground but it doesn't need to. It's glorious nonsense and i love it.

Take a whiff of my pant-leg baby!

Monday, December 19, 2005

(mixed signals)

This morning my head is a biscuit tin, with the broken remains of an assortment rattling around inside.

The first biscuit is vodka-flavoured shortbread, a rather unusual Scottish biscuit from the 70s that was made for a time by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Sadly, all that remains of this biscuit is the phrase "Isobel Goudie". The rest of it seems to have vanished and i don't feel like looking for it.

The second biscuit was nasty and jarring and entirely distracted me from the first one. It was a cheap supermarket own-brand chocolately one, wrapped in foil. The foil was patterned to make it look like the mobile phone that rang in the communal hallway not a moment after my return from nod. This biscuit comes with a nasty version of something classical and if you try to eat it, the will foil squeak on your teeth.

Then there was the inevitable crumbly old digestive. This old biscuit was called Humph and had something to say about a 'Mid-Atlantic Variation'. Whether this really had anything to do with Mornington Crescent or not is anyone's guess. I'm not even sure this biscuit ever existed outside my head.

Lastly, a classic biscuit: the two-fingered chocolate wafer. This delicious treat was brought to us by more than one maker and from the bits that are left of it, it's hard to tell who made this particular one. Safe to say, however, that it was made with tainted love.

That is all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Booker T. & The MG's - Outrage

LAST LISTENED TO a few hours ago

This is one of my least favourite of all the Booker T. & The MG's songs. That's not to say that i dislike it, however. Actually, listening to it is making me like it more. It's quite catchy in a slightly irritating fashion and there is something very insistent about the organ, in a way that is rather unlike other of their recordings. In fact upon close inspection, it doesn't really sound like Booker T's organ playing. This does lead me to suspect that this is one of the tracks that Booker T himself does not appear on.

'Eh?' you may exclaim. 'A Booker T track without him on it? Surely not.' Surely yes, i'm afraid.

What is not very well noted is that other people would often stand in for Booker T during recordings, including Isaac Hayes amongst others. This was because from around the time of their big hit with Green Onions, Booker T was attending university. Inspection of the label would seem to agree with this hypothesis, sporting as it does no writing credit for (Booker T) Jones. Instead there is one Mr. Allen.

And that's about as much thinking as i can be bothered with on a Sunday morning. If you want to figure out who this Mr. Allen is, go look. I feel i should know but, as noted, i'm now done with thinking.

Outrage is not a bad little piece of instrumental soul. It's just not really Booker T. & The MG's.

I'd also note that i have a version of this by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames which manages to considerably up the irritation factor. Not that that is much of a surprise with Mr. Fame.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


No song this morning. There might have been, but for the postman's arrival which woke me up. Doubling the chance for no morning song was the fact that i knew the postman was carrying a copy of Iron Maiden's Women In Uniform, which was catchy enough to stick in my head. Thus no morning song.

Happily, the postie also brought me a Jimmy Smith record from 1978. I'm on the third track right now and it's getting funky.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Jimmy Smith - Back At The Chicken Shack

ORIGINATION Back At The Chicken Shack LP

I listen to organ player Jimmy Smith a lot (check this out, if you want proof). There is just something about his tone and playing that i don't seem to tire of. For the most part his sound was the quintessential organ sound, the one that everyone that came after copied and most did come after. He also can solo for extended periods and maintain excitement and interest, which is no small feat.

Back At The Chicken Shack
is from his Blue Note period, when he played with a small band that was centred around Smith (who played the bass on his organ as well), a guitar (often Kenny Burrell) and drums. Here Stanley Turrentine is also along on tenor sax. The track is a Smith original and is a mid-tempo affair that stretches out over eight minutes, giving both Burrell and Turrentine time to solo as well as Smith. It's a breezy infectious number with a melody that is easy to catch onto. Little wonder that i woke to it.

If you want to know more about Jimmy Smith, i've been working on a discography project here.