Sunday 28 October 2012

Caution: Don't Play With Fireworks

Rachael FoxEvans has a brand new album out. It's her first; Playground Of Dreams has been a long time in the making: I've heard each and everyone of these songs germinate - from the drawing board to the beautifully performed and produced finished product. Ten self penned acoustic vignettes are laid out before us; drenched in harmonies and some augmented with mandolin, Rachael's voice and guitar bring these delightful songs alive in a way I'm sure even she couldn't have dreamed possible if you'd asked her twelve months ago.

This is my favourite. And a timely reminder too.

Rachael FoxEvans: Don't Play With Fireworks

Monday 22 October 2012

Jam tomorrow?

There's still time...

Reading John Harris' piece in Mojo, about the final days of The Jam, brought back memories of the two occasions I saw one of the new wave's most blistering bands up close and personal. At Derby King's Hall in late '77, still in their matching black suits, they were promoting their rather disappointing second album 'This Is The Modern World'. Still, they played everything off the first platter so nobody got bent out of shape when Bruce Foxton took centre stage and rattled off his turgid 'London Traffic'. And as for rumours that one of our party almost missed the bus home, the 53-seater we'd hired for the night, while allegedly being serviced by Mr Weller, must remain just that - a scurrilous rumour.

Eighteen months later at Leicester De Montfort Hall they were plugging the far superior Setting Sons; the suits were long gone and the songs far better. However, something was missing; they needed to fill their sound out - a problem that three pieces, no matter how powerful, invariably encounter. It was no surprise that not long afterwards they went out on the road with a horn section. And Weller was talking between songs now; in Derby I don't think the awkward eighteen year old muttered anything other than the odd 'Alright?'

I never saw them after that. But there's time yet. John Harris doesn't think they'll ever get back together. Paul Weller is adamant they'll never get back together. I'm not so sure.

Sunday 21 October 2012

I've just seen a Face

 Britt Ekland (just out of shot)

Poring over The Times yesterday, I found The Rodfather adorning the front cover of their glossy Saturday magazine; not looking too dissimilar from the above Radio Times shoot, I guess both snaps must have been taken at the height of his mid 70s pomp; i.e. when Rod looked every inch the sultry babe magnet who'd found himself a rock and roll band.

Despite not being musically relevant for sometime, his 1993 Unplugged set was a masterclass in how to deliver a back catalogue; a feather cut swan song, if you will. The wilderness years were only escaped by his foray into the classic American crooner songbook - an insult to any self respecting Faces fan and can only be seen for the money grubbing exercise his accountant no doubt told him it would be. I'm guessing that Rod, in his newly published memoirs, probably doesn't see it that way; leggy leggy blondes and train sets will probably feature more heavily than Steampacket or those early John Peel sessions.

But I'm not bitter. We'll always have Python Lee Jackson:

Friday 19 October 2012

Chuck Berry Red

Don't try this at home

Chuck Berry celebrated his 86th. birthday yesterday. The man who all but invented rock and roll has lived. I mean really lived. When you've seen life from both sides of the prison bars it can't not have had an impact on you. Be it for having sex with a minor or just plain old tax evasion, Berry's spells of incarceration have never dulled his lust for life.

We were lucky enough to catch him live a few years back. His lateness was both two-fold and predictable: waiting to be weighed in (in cash - obviously) by the promoter before he's even plugged his cherry red Gibson in, and talking his backing band for the night (he'd never met them before the gig) through his illustrious back catalogue, meant that a 9.00 p.m. start was never on the cards.

But, when he finally did take to the stage, it soon became apparent why he was the first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Happy Birthday Chuck.

  Chuck Berry: Night Beat


Tuesday 9 October 2012

Leo - definitely

Space Truckin'

When members of a pop group are prefixed by the word Messrs. you know right from the get go that the combo in question are most probably rockers. And if said combo had a definitive lineup then, like the humble Ford Cortina, they will have a Mark. So whenever Messrs. Gillan, Blackmore, Paice, Lord and Glover are mentioned in rock circles, everyone's on the same page: we're talking Deep Purple Mark 2.

But I'm not here to reignite the debate that probably still rages in rock clubs around the world about who was the best vocalist or banjo player; I haven't got time for all that nonsense. No, I'm here to set the record straight on something else entirely.

You see, for years I've been under the misapprehension that Machine Head - the 1972 long player brought to you by the above mentioned Messrs. (and an album I was spoon fed from an early age) - was but a three card trick. Namely, (the ubiquitous) Smoke On The Water, Highway Star and Jon Lord's Hammond heavy Lazy.

But I was wrong. So very wrong. Listening to it now, forty years after its release, the scales have fallen from my eyes. The stand out track is blindingly obvious. Isn't it?

Any fool knows that Maybe I'm A Leo knocks the rest of the album's oeuvre into a cocked hat.

Friday 5 October 2012

Can you tell what it is yet?

We're going to see Field Music at The Cockpit in Leeds tonight. They remind me of XTC; especially on this year's Plumb. Andy Partridge writes songs at the bottom of his garden in Swindon. I don't know if brothers David and Peter Brewis write their material in their own sheds in Sunderland; they may well share a shed. Probably on an allotment.