Here's a little slideshow of the 'Legends' gig from March. The pictures come courtesy of The Metropolis Group. Lots of gorgeous guitars and some nice close-ups of Bill's jacket (Armani, donchaknow...)
It seems that the experience was less than satisfying for Mr Nelson as his diary entry of April 24th will testify. He is an absolute perfectionist and his 'OK' is everyone else's 'YAAAYYY!!!'. From where I was standing (stage right, fact fans) it was a fantastic show. The DVD is still due out at the end of May. Watch this space...
Bill Nelson Live: Some Pictures from the 'Legends' DVD filming 26 03 11
Does the roguishly handsome devil in the picture look familiar? Yep, it’s that bloke from the Smashing Pumpkins who wasn’t Billy Corgan, or the ace Drummer, or one of the girly Bassists….It’s James Iha. Now what’s a ruff, tuff loud ‘n’ nasty geetarslinger like Mr I doing in a jingly-jangly, early bedtime, Blue Nile loving blog like this? Let me explain…
Around the time of ‘Gish’ and ‘Siamese Dream’, I was a bit of a Pumpkins fan. ‘Cherub Rock’ and ‘Today’ are two of the best singles from that period and get played whenever I wanna ‘Rock Out’, in that polite, forty something way which is so popular here at BPFE Towers. But then it all got a bit…overblown. Double albums, I can take…but when ‘Melon Collie…’ was released, I got a little restless. This, coupled with the fact that Billy C started to resemble the Mekon made me feel that the honeymoon was over. It was time for the Pumpkins and I to start seeing other people. But then, along came ‘Let It Come Down’. It arrived in my record shop with no hoo-hah at all. I put it on, expecting to be flung across the room with the full-on ferocity of 100 Marshalled-up Flying Vs, but what I got was…positively pastoral. Yep, while Mr C’s intense and brooding back was turned, lil’ Jimmy recorded a rather lovely, singer songwritery album that sounds perfect in this pleasant Spring evening. (Sorry, that came out a bit ‘Women’s Weekly’, didn’t it?)
('Be Strong Now')
It’s a low-key, acoustic based gem of a record with some nice, understated playing and a collection of great songs. Admittedly, it’s a little…’sappy’ in parts, but aren’t we all? James isn’t the greatest singer in the world, but he has a charming voice and the melodies work really well against the diligent strumming of the band. Don’t go looking for stray Pumpkins, as apart from one harmony vocal from D’Arcy, there are none to be found. But what is here is a great, ‘lost’ record. Given the popularity of the SPs, I was amazed to find that this is no longer in print, so as a public service, here it is.
(Part one of 7 little promo snippets for the album
- the rest are on YouTube)
You may have a pretty fixed idea of what this is gonna sound like, given the electrified DRAAANNNGGGG of Mr Iha’s day job, but this is something else again. The single ‘Be Strong Now’ was the most Pumpkinny thing on the album and that’s not really very Pumpkinny at all.
After all, it’s a Rushbo recommendation…what more prompting do you need to click on the link?
Thanks to Mick, I've been able to add three non album tunes to the end of the album. They were originally from the 'Be Strong Now' EP - cheers Mick! I've also included the bonus tracks as a separate file if you've already snagged the album.
Yep, it’s Tuesday, so it must be another Rain Parade live recording.
This is another ace soundboard (or exceptionally good audience recording) from Columbus, Ohio, around the time of the ‘PerfumeRiver’ recording. Don’t panic completeists, there are a number of differences in the setlists, so calm yourself down… As per ‘Perfume River’ they’re joined on the encores by Sid Griffin who (along with REMs Peter Buck) would jump onstage with anyone in earshot during the mid-eighties. You’d be right in assuming he’s not the shy retiring type…
Performances are great – this is the five piece version of the band with John Thoman on Guitar… by far my favourite lineup of the band, for what it’s worth.
('No Easy Way Down' recorded for the OGWT
with a brief interview preceding it)
Now about the date…Matt Piucci announces that the gig was on the 20th anniversary of Sam Cookes murder, which would make it December 11th, but all the references I’ve found state this was November 11th. ‘PerfumeRiver’ was recorded on November 14th (in Rochester). Unless you were there (and if you were, you’re a jammy bugger) we’ll never know. And what difference does it make really…this is great music whenever it was recorded!
I thought today would be the ideal opportunity to whizz these up. They're a bunch of demos by Sir Mitch Easter recorded in 82 and 84 for Afoot and Cypress. Yeah I know some of these have been up on Wilfully Obscure (dammit-they're always ahead of me over there!) but there seem to be a few tunes which are unique to this version. You can have fun playing spot the difference... Track 11 seems to be part of a radio broadcast, it seems. I suppose it was about time I uploaded some Ledz, given the title of the blog...
Right that was just a quickie as there are chocolate eggs to be eaten.
Along with REM, The Church were instrumental in showing me that Guitar music didn’t begin and end with Van Halen in the 80’s. They’ve had a long and fascinating history (beautifully detailed in 'No Certainty Attached - Steve Kilbey and The Church' by Robert Dean Lurie) and they’re still at it today. Their most recent album ‘Untitled 23’ had critics fawning over it and they’ve just completed a sell out tour of the States. But for me, their best work is in the mid-late 80’s. And that’s where we hear them in this recording.
Unplugged. Yeah, that word sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it? I’m sure we all remember the endless footage of panic-stricken Guitarists trying to play proper chords on acoustic Guitars, Drummers flailing wildly on congas and Bassists manfully struggling with enormous acoustic Basses, or better yet, randomly plunking on upright Basses they have no clue how to play. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it reduced everyone to the level of an overpaid busker. But MTV loved it and everyone had a go. Some bands used it as an opportunity to recast their material in a totally different light (Nirvana) and some just pretended they were playing electric instruments (Pearl Jam), but the Church did it really well. This is probably because most of the material was written on an acoustic Guitar by a Bassist – nothing too tricky, but great melodies and memorable, simple tunes with clever, whole band arrangements.
So here we are- its 1988 and we’re at the legendary KCRW with the equally legendary Deidre O’Donoghue. The Church are on an American tour, plugging what was to be their breakthrough album – ‘Starfish’. If you’ve never heard it…I kind of envy you, as to hear it for the first time is like having your brain dropped in a warm bubble bath and then turbo charged. It’s ace. Anyhoo, here are the Anglo-Australian Alt-Psych-Rockers playfully dipping in and out of their back catalogue and being narcotically charming to a clearly in-awe O’Donoghue. A few months later, ‘Starfish’ went platinum thanks to the unexpected hit they had with ‘Under The Milky Way’ and the fact that they were in the right place at the right time. They had just the right amount of Geetar-slinging to reach a Metalhead or two, literate enough lyrics to reach the disenfranchised Goths and catchy tunes to reach the Pop-Rockers. A perfect storm. Sadly, they couldn’t maintain this level of success…but that’s a story for another day – and another post.
This is the complete, unexpurgated recording. Other versions are available in many places on the net (most notably as part of the ‘Acoustic Sermon’ boot), but the interviews and the between tune tomfooleries have been cruelly expunged. Not here. This is the whole thing from soup to nuts. It’s a lovely document of a band with the world at their feet.
('Under The Milky Way' on 'MTV Unplugged')
Church fans are amongst the most rabid and partisan fans in the world. They’re well served by a decent website, a great fansite and an almost daily blog by Steve Kilbey. The latter I advise checking out with caution as he can veer from essential to inconsequential – often in the course of a single posting. And don’t read the comments. They’re scary….
So kids, back-comb your hair, pop on some paisley and blow the dust off that acoustic bass you haven’t played since 1991 and enjoy the Pre-Raphaelite Alt-Pop-Rock of The Church….
This is a bit cheeky as there is a version of this CD in print and available from all good music retailers. But this version, laydeez and genlemen, is the original, 1987 Indie version. And I think it's better.
Stephen Duffy. Is he:
a. That bloke who was that New Romantic one-hit wonder?
b. That bloke who left Duran Duran moments before they became intergalactic enormostars?
c. That bloke who killed Robbie Williams’ career?
If you answered a, b or c...you're right. But he's a damn sight more than that.
Stephen Duffy is one of the best British songwriters of the last 30 years. Fact. And most of those songs are written for his band of bucolic fellow travellers, The Lilac Time - Big in Japan, but pretty tichy in the rest of the world. This is wrong. How can anyone NOT like a guy that started off in a low-budget Glam band, join and leave Duran Duran while still at school, have a big production techno-dance hit, pioneer sampling and then give it all up to make acoustic music with his brother? Yeah, I know....cool eh?
Now I know I keep banging on about Birmingham, but ol' Stevie is a bit of a legend round these parts - a native son. I got into music retail in the mid-80's and everyone I spoke to had their own Duffy story. For further information see 'We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful’ by Dr. S.P. Morrissey. I was mildly amused by 'Kiss Me' (and irritated by his incredibly fey 'Top Of The Pops' performance) and consigned him to the bin marked 'As famous as any Brummie is gonna get'. And then I heard 'Return To Yesterday'.
His move from techno-popstar to acoustic troubadour made the local paper. Then again, it doesn't take much to make the papers in Brum. The gist of the article was that Stephen had turned his back on stardom and 'that London' and made a low-key record in a studio in Kings Heath. Whether he turned his back on stardom or visa-versa is a moot point, but... Anyway, this wasn't the Duffy we were used to. Out was all the hi-gloss production and in were acoustic guitars, Nick Drake references and, most importantly, his genius brother Nick. And the result was the Low-Fi gem called 'The Lilac Time'.
(Return To Yesterday)
It crept out with zero fanfare in 1987 on a label run by some guys from a local record store - 'Swordfish'. (Ah, Swordfish Records...as a teenager I used to hang around that store just to hear the guys behind the counter talk so learnedly about music. Eventually, I plucked up the courage and £2.99 to buy a copy of 'One Size Fits All'. I got a nod of approval from the sages in the shop and almost floated home). They played a few gigs, got a bit of airplay for 'Return To Yesterday' and 'Black Velvet' and they were signed to Fontana. The album was deemed 'too much like a demo' and lots of it was remixed in a Big Studio. To me, that kinda missed the point. I thought it was MEANT to sound a little rough and Low-Fi. And by Low-Fi, we aint't talking Guided By Voices... The Indie version got withdrawn and the shiny new version got released and they became a moderately successful band. But they were out of step with everything. All their recordings are fine and they continue to this day - there's even a movie about them, but they've never got the kudos they deserve. That breaks my heart.
Duffy has had a fascinating career, and one day I'll write that book, but right now, here's some music. Not so subtly different from the tunes you may have heard on the radio. I wouldn't normally post an album you can buy or download, but as this is significantly different to the version that's available, my conscience is almost clear. There ain't too many of the 'Swordfish' version around as it was quickly overshadowed by the 'Fontana' edition. In fact, Swordfish ended up selling them for just £1. I got wind of this at the time and phoned the shop up, desperate to snag a bargain. I asked them to put a copy to one side and I'd be there in a minute...the voice on the phone said 'We've got plenty'. Concerned, I asked how many, just in case they’d all sell out in the 10 minutes it would take me to reach the store. The voice sighed and replied 'About a thousand...'
Well, over at Burning Wood, debate raged about whether RSD was an undignified squabblefest or a great way to get people into record shops again. I ain't even gonna go back into that argument, having thrown my hat into the ring on a number of occasions, but no matter what your experience was, it couldn't have been as good as the one these good people had:
Yeah, you coulda come home with 'Big Star 3', limited edition Queen singles and Elvis jamming with the ghost of John Lennon on 8 Track, but these guys saw 10CC! They win. You lose. Suck it up. Yeah it's another 10CC post - by stealth this time. My blog, my rules...
I can't believe it's been so long since my last Posies related post. What the hell am I thinking?
Here's a great little set from Ken Stringfellow's short lived but awesome band Saltine. I got this from a trading site via the Posies Website some years ago, posted by Kelly Minnis, someone who's done more to chronicle the 'unofficial' history of The Posies more than anyone else. He's the guy behind the 'Broadcasts' series of bootlegs, currently being posted on the simply superb Wilfully Obscure blog. ( I am insanely jealous of WO... it's SO COOL...) Anyhoo, I'll leave it to Kelly to tell you about Saltine:
"Saltine was the short-lived solo outlit for Posies co-frontman Ken Stringfellow. Saltine began as a Posies side project in 1997 and became Ken's main vehicle for songwriting until he disbanded the group in 2000. The band recorded several sessions and released an EP in 2000.
Saltine were like a more indie·rock Posies. They had two guitarists, harmony vocals and were a dynamic rock band. That said, Saltine had an edgier, more pointy, less "big rock" kind of sound to it than The Posies. This radio show is pretty much the penultimate recording of that band. You get most of the songs from that EP plus songs that were later released on Ken's official first solo album "Touched" with much more subdued arrangements. The only thing you miss is actually being in the room when Saltine would go galactic at the end of "Silence" and whenever Ken's filter pedal would hit the high end of its sweep it would nearly implode your eardrums. Good times."
He's a fan. So am I. You will be too.
(Thanks to the mighty Pop Fair blog, I've added the six EP tracks that came out in 1999 - sorry it's taken me so long to add you to my blog roll!).
Well, as the last two posts were a bit preachy, here’s something frivolous and fun. From nearly twenty goshdarn years ago, here’s a little gem courtesy of the BBC. It’s a charming little gig from the Borderline in London featuring four tunes from Richard Thompson and eight from the dual-Finn line up of CH. Thompson plays on some of their set too.
I’ve not seen this on the net, but it must be out there somewhere. Anyroad up, here’s my version from a trusty TDK SA with no clever dickery applied - digitized, split and that’s it. It’s lovely.
Crowded House are a bit of a guilty pleasure at BPFE…as much as I like Mogwai, Phillip Glass, Erik Satie etc, there’s not much that beats a bit of quality Antipodean Pop. It’s a little bittersweet as it features the late Paul Hester, whose untimely departure is still felt by the band. They’ve done two polished albums without him and their live gigs are still warm and funny, but there’s a little bit of Art School Mania missing. ‘Italian Plastic’ is a highlight on this set – it’s a belter.
Richard Thompson is…Richard Thompson. Brilliant musically, great banter and biting, witty lyrics. The bounder!
So there you go…the soapbox is back in the shed and a truckload of Be-Bop Deluxe and Rain Parade shows are ready to go over the next few weeks, interspersed with some tasty treats from the Rushbo Archive. If this post doesn’t put a smile on yer face, then there’s no hope for ya!
I may be biased, having spent 13 years working in Record shops, but I love 'em. I love everything about them, from the cheapo boxes on the counter to the surly/geeky/uber-cool (delete as applicable) staff. Sadly, they seem to be dwindling to nothing if my hometown of Birmingham UK is anything to go by. We used to have a thriving Indie Record shop scene, with Rock, Dance and Vinyl specialists...but now, we're down to about four across the city. And that makes me sad.
Yeah, I am a nostalgic old fart but I ain't one of those guys who complains about change just because it's different to what he's used to. I grew up in a boom time for music retail - remember when CDs came in and we ended up buying all our favourite albums again? I was there. But before that, local Record shops were a place where you could meet your mates on a Saturday, listen to some cool tunes, get a recommendation or two and buy something...something you can hold in your hands. (That's a not-so-subtle dig at MP3s there). The big attraction for me was the guys behind the counter. Record shop staff are a different breed - if you've read 'Hi Fidelity' you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. There's something about talking to someone who's passionate about music to make you want to try something different - you can read all the 'Amazon recommends' or 'people who bought that also bought this' on Websites, but sometimes you just want to talk to a real human being.
It's Record Shop Day tomorrow, so here's what to do. Take your rent/food/baby clothes/beer money to your local shop. Buy some tunes. Any tunes. Just good tunes. Then repeat the cycle as often as you can. I'll be at Polar Bear and Swordfish in Birmingham UK (having just spent far too much money at Fopp Records in Cambridge today - what a great shop!) hopefully scooping up a handful of gems. I'm sure we can manage on toast and jam for a day or two...
Record shops are ace. Please support them.
(The book at the top of the post - 'Last Shop Standing' by Graham Jones is a fantastic chronicle of the UK Music retail scene of the last thirty odd years - highly recommended)
In the space of 24 hours, two of the best Blogs on the web have closed down for the same reasons - apathy and bad manners. ASH and Burning Wood have been providing fantastic, free music, insightful commentary and great banter for years and to see them go because people can't be bothered to say 'please' and 'thank you' or bitch about the stuff they're getting for nothing makes me both sad and angry.
People make blogs for many reasons. Personally speaking, I write for the love of it and the lack of comments, whilst a bit annoying, doesn't really bother me too much. I get a buzz out of doing it - 'Art for Arts sake' as 10CC so beautifully put it. Other people do it because they want to provide a service and feedback is absolutely vital for them. All it takes is a 'cheers' or 'ta' and that's enough. If you feel you’re making art for no one, it can make you think twice about doing it at all.
Everyone’s got a blog. Not everyone has got a good blog. If you've got a favourite or two, be a bit more pro-active. Comment! Be nice! Money is tight the world over and if someone is providing you with top class, free entertainment (whether it's music or thought provoking or amusing prose) say 'thank you'.
Play nicely or the park-keeper will take your ball away.
(Normal service will be resumed in a few short moments...)
As promised, here’s another ace Rain Parade live recording – this time it’s a soundboard from The Dock in Jackson Mississippi. Quality is great, although the sound man throws the levels around a bit, resulting in a rather ‘roller-coaster’ feel in places – especially to the first number. It’s the four piece ‘Explosions In The Glass Palace’ line up in fine form and the energy level is high. It also finishes up with a raucous version of ‘Glory’ by kindred spirits, Television, where they’re joined by members of the Windbreakers.
Yeah, OK, shoot me, it's another 10CC post, but it's the last for a while...unless I put the Hotlegs album up, of course...
It's from 1974, all the way from Cape Cod, from a gig where the lads supported Johnny Winter - crazy stuff happened in the 70s... Quality is - passable, but as you know, live 10CC stuff from the early/mid 70s is scarce, so grab what you can. I've kindly supplied a little sample, so you can make your mind up whether this is worth the download. It is, of course.
(Sample of 'Sand In My Face')
I know I'm a bit evangelical when it comes to this band, but humour me, eh?
The story of Green On Red would make a great movie. Can you imagine…Jack Black would play Dan Stuart and Owen Wilson would play Chuck Prophet. Just watch those dollars roll in. It ain’t gonna happen tho’. But it should. For now, GoR is our little secret.
This peerless soundboard is from their brief, mid-noughties reformation, recorded at a gig in Glasgow. It’s a belter. According to legend, the setlist is exactly the one they were using on the 1992 (?) tour where they fell apart for the (almost) final time. From the first notes, it’s clear that time has not dulled their edge – Prophet pulls off some terrifying solos and Stuart is fine form – loads of banter and just about sober enough to pull it off with aplomb. The whole band sounds great tho’ – tight but loose as they used to say in the 70s. They did a handful of shows, honouring the dates they blew out in the 90s (tickets were still valid, apparently…) Nothing else to say but you need this. Really, YOU NEED THIS.
(Rockpalast - German TV 2006)
Dan Stuart : vocals, guitar Chuck Prophet : guitar, b/vs Chris Cacavas : keyboards Jack Waterson : bass and Daren Hess : drums
Thanks to the original recorded/uploader - Evangeline and respect to Carsten, GoR's sound engineer, for a stunningly good live mix
Someone needs to coax Mr Stuart out of retirement (or out of the bar…)
I really miss the (Old Grey) Whistle Test. For the benefit of non-UK BPFE-ers (I have to think of a snappier name than that (Big Planners? Beepees?) The Whistle Test was a great BBC music magazine programme of the 70's and 80's. What I loved most was the fact that it looked like it was filmed at the back of a furniture warehouse. The presenters were genuine enthusiasts, and in the mid 80's, any Paisley Underground band visiting the UK was guaranteed to make an appearance. That's where I first saw The Rain Parade.
I was in a bit of a transition period at the end of '85. My Metalhead years were coming to an end and I was looking around for something with a bit more substance. I tuned to the OGWT, saw the Rain Parade and the die was cast. They were a funny looking bunch - Matt Piucci's cowboy boots and Mark Marcum's headband seemed rather incongruous, but the tunes...oh my. Fantastic versions of 'Depending On You' and 'My Secret Country' blew my tiny, Eddie Van Halen obsessed, skin-tight jean wearing, bullet belted* mind.
(Depending On You)
They were confusing too...some of the references were easy to spot (their first album, the awesome 'Emergency Third Rail Power Trip' contains pretty straightforward Garage Rock tunes - they're almost pastiches) - but by the time they got to 'Crashing Dream' (the album they were plugging on The Whistle Test) it was hard to discern just what the hell they were listening too. And I like that.
(My Secret Country)
This live recording (see! we got there eventually!) is a superb soundboard from an Italian gig the month before the revelatory TV appearance. Sound quality is pretty close to perfect (although the acoustic Guitar sounds a bit like a massive rubber band twanging away…) and the performance is great. 'Crashing Dream' gets a bit of a kicking from the cognoscenti because of its '80's production' - well here it is, live and raw and those songs sound bloody ace. Eat your words, doubters. This is from the master tape from which a live, picture disc was manufactured in the 80's (pictured above). The mastering was shoddy and featured just 11 of the 17 tracks’ on here. So even if you’ve got the disc, you REALLY need this.
This is my favourite live recording of my favourite era of the band. The good news is, there's plenty more to come. Woohoo!
Massive thanks go to Maurizio 'Ratpie'- the original recorder/seeder. Gratzie!
* I never had a bullet belt, I just thought that was a nice turn of phrase...