LONDON a MEMPHIS a ASTON FEBRUARY 2017
ARETHA FRANKLIN P52
Sheer spectacle: Elza Soares wins the day at Le Guess Who?, Lives p118.
REGULARS 9 10 36 126 A
y y jjazz-rock summit that never was!
The Jesus And Mary Chain’s William and Jim Reid go easy on the hooch, p18.
130 H ELLO GOODBYE Dave Mason remembers joking and hoping in Traffic.
WHAT GOES ON! 12
J JOH N CALE & THE VU How to
GRUFF RHYS The Super Furry Animal
THE MOONLANDINGZ The reality-subverting glam-synth supergroup are ccertainly Rising, but is it healthy? Involves Fat White Family, Yoko Ono and Fat Truckers – and W tthe shocking misuse of Warburtons bread.
C FF RICHARD CLI
THE GO-BETWEENS In 1989, it looked like the beloved Australian rock band were at last going to crossover into the charts. But fate conspired otherwise, and a poignant split followed. Read on for Eyewitness recollections.
mark 50 years since the release of the worldc changing The Velvet Underground And Nico? Cale reveals commemorative plans involving “weird ssonics”, Liverpool and, possibly, Moe Tucker.
a solo mind-warrior presents his bold Selfand Portrait. You won’t believe what his biggest vice is!
Sir Cliff looks back o Move It, the ’70s zenith of Devil Woman and on Wired For Sound, and the importance of not W ttelling interviewers to “go away”.
MOJO FILTER 88 NEW ALBUMS Michael Chapman hits 50 at 75, plus The xx, Julie Byrne and more.
102 REISSUES Buzzcocks’ and The Doors’ earliest revisited, with differing results.
114 BOOKS Tony Bennett by himself part three, plus Big Star, Karl Hyde, more Bowie and Dylan.
116 SCREEN Time for a massive Frank Sinatra
Starry weather: Michael Chapman, Lead Album, p88
small screen sit-in. You bring the popcorn.
118 LIVES Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht; fin orked with Jimmy tallica and Johnny pp, Halfin has photographed Black Sabbath for four decades, so knew em well enough to them to a cemtery a (cover story, p72). k at rosshalfin.com
Chris Nurse Chris is an illustrator and motio graphics designer, working pro sionally since 1997. His work is using traditional photographic print practices and newer digit techniques. He works on commissions and projects in publishing, editorial, corporate, advertising and broadcasting, and is repped by Début Art.
eron Editor th cover ears after layed NJ. Their were Steel itarist ndt, who nterviews (p40).
Chris Nurse, Steve Gullick, Jelmer de Haas
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE
13 SABBAT H INSPIRED T RACKS FE ATURING CHARLES BR ADLE Y’S CL ASSIC COVER OF CHANGES RIVAL SONS . BORIS . THE OBSESSED . SLEEP . MOTORPSYCHO . WOLF PEOPLE & MORE
1 Cowboy Lovers
2 Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats
3 Charles Bradley Changes
Spanish duo of F. Pascual (guitar/ vocals) and H. Bardisa (drums/vocals) began by collecting rock, punk, soul and psych vinyl and DJ-ing. Then they bought their own instruments and started Cowboy Lovers. Forming a “cosmic brotherhood” with British producer Liam Watson, they made their self-titled debut at his studio, Toe Rag. Spirited and raw, Poor Lord distils the drive of Sabbath classic Supernaut into one minute and 56 seconds of sonic euphoria. Available on: Cowboy Lovers (LBW)
Mind Crawler If Sabbath were the UK standardbearers of a new sound in the late ’60s, then their US counterparts were arguably The Stooges. Kevin Starrs’ shadowy Cambridge collective appear to have absorbed this kinetic transatlantic connection, their sound based on a fusion of latter’s percussive raunch and former’s riffheavy grooves. Indeed, Mind Crawler exempliﬁes that marriage of two key inﬂuences in an irresistible manner. Available on: Mind Control (RISE ABOVE)
A former James Brown impersonator, 68-year-old soul singer Charles Bradley was not familiar with Black Sabbath when his musical director, Tom Brenneck, presented him with this reﬂective 1972 classic. Bradley was in the process of losing his mother at the time. Having been estranged from her for large parts of his life, this tune became a poignant hymn to her passing, Bradley reﬂecting particularly on “her last goodbyes” and the passage of time itself. Available on: Changes (DAPTONE)
Fusing folk tales with hard, agrarian rock, Wolf People’s third LP, Ruins, is inﬂuenced by a cult Scottish outﬁt, Iron Claw, who formed after their founder member saw Sabbath play a show in Dumfries in November 1969, and went on to cover the band’s entire debut album. Wolf People, however, have their own sound and approach, the heavy, fuzzy psych of Ninth Night underpinned by lyrics rooted in an 18th century incantation. The effect is hypnotic, grand, wild. Available on: Ruins (JAGJAGUWAR)
11 The Skull
Experimental instrumental outﬁt Grails emerged from the Portland scene at the turn of the millennium. In 2005 they covered Sabbath’s on the Everything Comes And Goes tribute LP. The slow-building and brooding Self-Hypnosis (from their most recent album, released in 2013), sees them building on Sabbath’s more reﬂective, acoustic-led interludes, and conﬁrms the Brum foursome’s inﬂuence on scenes way beyond hard rock. Available on: Black Tar Prophesies Vols 4, 5, & 6 (TEMPORARY RESIDENCE)
Released back in 2006, Pink – the 10th album by Japanese experimental trio Boris – saw them expand their sound and reach a wider audience. This cantering title track restates their heavy intent, matching a garage-rock feel with the thrust of Motörhead. Now considered an underground classic, the LP was celebrated with a 10th anniversary deluxe edition released via Sargent House, which came with an album of unreleased material entitled Forbidden Songs. Available on: Pink DeLuxe Edition
Chicago outﬁt Trouble were all Sabbath worshippers, as their six albums released between 1984 and ’92 proved (a ﬁnal brace appearing via Rick Rubin’s Def American label). Frontman Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzer and drummer Jerry Olson regrouped as The Skull in 2012 and issued a debut album two years later. The melodrama of The Door sees keyboards segue into a riff that recalls Iron Man’s churning drive to spectacular effect. Available on: For Those Which Are Asleep (TEEPEE)
Alamy, Camilla Sauﬂey, Ester Segarra, Ty Klingsick, Sloan Morrison
4 Wolf People
Lacuna/Sunrise Taking their name from a 1965 movie by Russ Meyer, the godfather of US sexploitation, Trondheim outﬁt Motorpsycho have made some of the most inspired, progressive records on the planet in the past 25 years. Their latest, Here Be Monsters, is no exception, and features this Mellotron-soaked tune. Inspired by near-namesake Sabbath song Laguna Sunrise, interwoven guitar leads you to the heart of track with its sense of Californian warmth. Bask in it. Available on: Here Be Monsters (RUNEGRAMMOFON)
HE END IS NIGH… AND AS BLACK SABBATH PREPARE for their ﬁnal hurrah, MOJO is proud to present the fourth instalment in our Heavy Nuggets compilation series. The ﬁrst three of these collections celebrated cult heroes from the late ’60s and early ’70s that aspired to global superstar status in a Sabs-styled manner. Volume 4 (every pun intended!) is different in that it concentrates on the very thing that the Birmingham four-piece will leave behind: the music itself and their ongoing inﬂuence. As a result we have gathered together 13 acts who have openly acknowledged a debt to the songwriting and the sound created by Messrs Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward. Of course, more mainstream acts have both covered Black Sabbath tunes or simply drawn on their sound, but the acts featured here showcase the scope of the quartet’s impact. As such we invite you to open your ears and your mind for over 74 minutes of mind-melting music…
5 Rival Sons
7 The Obsessed
Be The Night (Demo)
For the best part of the last two years Rival Sons have been on the road supporting Sabbath on their ﬁnal farewell. For the Californian fourpiece, the challenge has been the same every night: win over one of the most partisan audiences in rock. And Rival Sons have done just that. This loose-limbed tune – recently nominated by Steve Van Zandt as one of the coolest songs in the world – showcases their understanding of soul, rock and psych. Available on: Hollow Bones (EARACHE)
The convergence between the jazz and prog rock scenes was arguably more evident when Sabbath emerged than it is today. Yet that spirit lives on in Norway, home to the remarkable Rune Grammofon label to whom Elephant9 are signed (as are fellow adventurers Motorpsycho, see track 12). Formed a decade ago in Oslo, here the three-piece delivers a pernicious organ-blaster redolent of Purple’s free-form moments. We challenge you not to get down! Available on: Dodovoodoo (RUNEGRAMMOFON)
Along with Pentagram, The Obsessed were one of the ﬁrst US outﬁts to use Sabbath’s sound as the blueprint for their own. Formed in Maryland in 1976 by Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich, their inﬂuence on underground music has continued down the years and through several break-ups. Their return to active service was announced in March 2016, and spawned this heads-down, heavyduty demo tune – a precursor to their highly-anticipated new LP, Sacred. Available on: Sacred (RELAPSE)
Fifteen years after The Obsessed formed, San José’s Sleep’s debut, Volume 1, underlined Sabbath’s ongoing inﬂuence on the contemporary hard rock scene. Their second fulllength album, Sleep’s Holy Mountain, emerged a year later on Earache and, as Dragonaut proves, is a heavy music touchstone. The band’s ill-fated major label dalliance and stop-start career has seen their cult status grow; the recent Clarity 12-inch via Southern Lord suggests a new LP next year. Available on: Sleep’s Holy Mountain (EARACHE)
13 Earthless Violence Of The Red Sea Back in the summer of ’69 Sabbath played their ﬁrst residency at Hamburg’s Star-Club where the need to play several sets a night saw them stretch out and jam. San Diego instrumental trio Earthless echo that early free-wheeling approach, drawing on Sabs and Zep as inﬂuences alongside the work of German outﬁt Amon Düül II and Japan’s Flower Travellin’ Band. Violence Of The Red Sea is proof of that, providing us with a mindblowing ﬁnale to this collection. Available on: From The Ages (TEEPEE)
READ THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE BAND’S ALBUMS COMPILED FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE AND ENTERTAINMENT EXCLUSIVELY AT
Tony Bennett SWING KING
c are you currently o? newest record. She’s wony, very talented person, erything about her – t choreography, she utiful and the audience ! And those records that s, by Ella Fitzgerald. And The public adores her! sh comes to shove, is me favourite album? o many, but all the things Davis did, and what he did ans, I loved it very much. he first record you ever nd where did you buy it? Crosby, y White Christmas, holidays. He taught us all, ers, how to make a living! first one that was by himved how relaxed he was. ician, other than yourou ever wanted to be? trong. Nobody was betpoet in the way he spoke
and the way he performed. And the way people loved him. Everybody realised he was the greatest entertainer that ever lived. I’ll never forget one time I was at the Waldorf Astoria and I went to see him. Between shows, he was speaking to a very heavy man, for about 10 minutes. Finally, he left and I walked over and said, “Louis, who was that man?” He said, “Oh, I don’t know.” He was just talking to a customer, but he was so nice to him. What do you sing in the shower? Ha ha! I sing for more soap! So I can become very clean. What is your favourite Saturday night record? I like the way Ella Fitzgerald sings ballads, and any early record of Frank Sinatra. He sang so beautiful for 20 years, every record is a masterpiece. And your Sunday morning record? I don’t really plan Sunday mornings. I listen to music all the time. I have a lot of favourites. Louis Armstrong, mostly. Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 is on Columbia.
IN WHICH THE STARS REVEAL THE SONIC DELIGHTS GUARANTEED TO GET THEM GOING...
Bryan Adams/Trunk Archive, Janette Beckman
CLASH MINISTER OF INFORMATION
What music are you currently grooving to? My most consistent personal favourite of late is the stuff Louis Armstrong recorded in the 1920s. It’s crazy I know, some of the recordings are 90 years old, but it’s the sound of young black men rippin’ it up and having a ball – makes you feel good to be alive! What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? Curtis by Curtis Mayfield. I actually got this soon after it came out in 1971, due to the influence of an older female friend who owned a copy. I’ve never tired of it, regardless of where I have been, the company I have kept or what I have listened to it on. I don’t think socially conscious music has ever been done better – equalled but not bettered – and the lovey d stuff ain’t too shabby either. What was the record you ev bought? And where did you buy it? Tobacco Road by The Nashville Teens from a Woolworths in
Folkestone during a summer holiday. The first LP was Otis Redding’s Otis Blue off a stall in Petticoat Lane Market, which I still listen to – alas not the same copy.
Pixie Geldof NOW SHE SINGS!
What music are you currently grooving to? I’m always grooving to Shuggie Otis. That’s what gets me up in the morning. Freedom Flightt is an incredible record, I listened to it pretty much every morning when I was finishing writing my record. Sweet Thang makes me feel very free and I love it. In general my house is filled with country music – greats like Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Gram Parsons and Patsy Cline are on pretty much constantly – as well as anything by Leonard Cohen.
Which musician have you ever wanted to be? It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to be a musician, but when I was about 15 I wanted to be the sixth member of the Faces. Doing what, I have no idea – just looking good and drinking, probably. What do you sing in the shower? I’m a bath man myself and my favourite tub tunes are from Dominic Behan’s Easter Uprising 1916 LP (Songs Of The IRA). Completely politically unacceptable I know, but some good singing songs nonetheless, and as far as I am aware I have no Irish in my family at all. What is your favourite Saturday night record? I like to kick it off with Motown Ch b V l 3, then I’m all uff strewn out ver the place. y morning last night’s ck in their he Last Will tament Of Thackray. y ee kosmovinyl. com for the artist’s works.
Tony Bennett loves everything that Miles Davis did, but especially the music he made with Gil Evans – like 1957’s controversiallysleeved Miles Ahead. ● On a Sunday morning, Kosmo Vinyl enjoys the humours and woes of 1967’s The Last Will And Testamentt Of Jake Thackray. y ● Pixie Geldof’s shower song repertoire includes Carly Simon’s enigmatic 1972 V-flicking smash You’re So Vain. ●
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? I actually have no idea. There’s definitely a few, probably too many: So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star; The Marshall Mathers LP P by Eminem; Nevermind d by Nirvana; The Boatman’s Calll by Nick Cave; Townes Van Zandt. Any of those. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? Probably it was Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP. P I think I got it at Woolworths. I miss Woolworths! Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? I don’t think I would want to be
anyone else, but I would’ve loved to have taken a walk around Leonard Cohen’s mind, what a world that must’ve been.
What do you sing in the shower? Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain and Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks, which is terribly embarrassing. What is your favourite Saturday night record? Erase/Rewind by The Cardigans gets me going. And your Sunday morning record? I’ll Be Here In The Morning by Townes Van Zandt, I think it’s the most loving song in the world, it’s always great to wake up to that kind of warmth. The idea of someone putting aside their world for someone else is so romantic, just to make sure they understand that they love them more than they will love anything else. He’s one of my favourite musicians ever. Pixie Geldof’s I’m Yours is out now on Stranger.
Endeavour House, 189 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8JG Tel: 020 7437 9011 E-mail: email@example.com Website: mojo4music.com
Editor-in-Chief & Associate Publisher Phil Alexander Senior Editor Danny Eccleston Art Editor Mark Wagstaff Associate Editor (Production) Geoff Brown Reviews Editor Jenny Bulley Associate Editor (News) Ian Harrison Picture Editor Matt Turner Senior Associate Editor Andrew Male Associate Deputy Art Editor Russell Moorcroft Contributing Editors Sylvie Simmons, Keith Cameron For mojo4music.com contact Danny Eccleston Thanks for their help with this issue: Simon Bogle, Keith Cameron, Fred Dellar, Sarah Fagan, Paul Stokes Among this month’s contributors: Martin Aston,Mike Barnes, Mark Blake,Glyn Brown, Keith Cameron,Stevie Chick, Andy Cowan,Max Décharné, Fred Dellar,Dave Di Martino, Tom Doyle,Daryl Easlea, Andy Fyfe,George Garner, Pat Gilbert,David Hutcheon, Jim Irvin,Colin Irwin, David Katz,Alan Light, James McNair,Ben Myers, Kris Needs,Chris Nelson, Mark Paytress,Andrew Perry, Clive Prior,Jon Savage, Victoria Segal,David Sheppard, Michael Simmons,Sylvie Simmons, Paul Stokes,Jeff Tamarkin, Kieron Tyler,Charles Waring, Roy Wilkinson,Lois Wilson, Anna Wood,Stephen Worthy. Among this month’s photographers: Cover: Ross Halfin: (Inset: Getty) Bryan Adams, Dan Aster, Edo Bertoglio, Stephanie Chernikowski, Duffy, David Gahr, Julia Gorton, Guido Harari, Patty Heffley, Don Hunstein, Art Kane, Barry Plummer, Marcia Resnick, Steve Schapiro, Jerry Schatzberg, Tom Sheehan, Tino Tran, Chris Walter
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FEW ARTISTS ARE AFFORD R ED THE LU L XURY R
of deciding exactly how to take their final bow. This issue contains some poignant reminders of that very fact. In the case of Black Sabbath, however, the three remaining members have spent the best part of 18 months saying farewell. This month, as we look to a new year, we bring you what is bound to be one of their final interviews. We do so by focusing on the one element that often gets overlooked in a remarkable career that has spanned close to five decades: the music. It lies at the core of Keith Cameron’s revelatory cover feature. Of course, in two years’ time Sabbath have the chance to mark a full 50 years of active service. Will that be cause for one final hurrah? But for now, this is The End. Cue that tolling bell…
PHIL ALEXANDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF I don’t know what to tell you… The death of Leonard Cohen leaves a place in modern music that will never be filled. A greater poet in music, we will never hear. Shockingly, though, the more ‘mainstream’ tributes have centred on the impact of Hallelujah on the so-called X Factor generation. His impact travels far beyond that, as you will no doubt agree. Farewell, then, to a man who transformed what modern songs could actually sound like and who made us all more literate as a result. And, yes, things are darker now without him…
Roger Stevens, via e-mail
He is my friend My first wife left me with three things that I will be forever grateful for. Two were sons, who now have families of their own, and of whom I am exceptionally proud. The third is the music and lyrics of Leonard Cohen that she introduced me to. I feel I have lost a friend…
Graham Looker, Cornwall, via e-mail
The passing of a titan The loss of Leon Russell in a year full of terrible losses is genuinely tragic. Thankfully, though, Elton John brought him back to the fore with [2010 album] The Union – a reminder that Leon’s impact on music should never be forgotten. I hope for a full and fulsome tribute in the next issue of your publication.
Ian Michaels, via e-mail
Very tasteful Thank you for a fascinating interview with the wonderful Kate Bush [MOJO 278]. As someone
who had the pleasure of catching the Before The Dawn show, it was a treat that allowed me to re-live elements of that incredible night – which I suppose was what you were trying to do. At a time when we are losing so many key figures in music, her thoughts on mortality and her legacy were particularly poignant. I had no idea she was a Paul Simon fan, either. Thinking about it, though, I can totally understand why she would be, the two of them making pop in the most sophisticated sense of the word. Most significant of all was her tantalising promise of some new music. As ever with Kate, we live in hope…
Simon Major, via e-mail
Give me an exploded view After reading the latest issue I am left wondering why anyone ever bothers interviewing Kate Bush. Seriously. I love her work and attended Before The Dawn, which was the best gig I’ve ever seen. But the woman herself is bloody infuriating. YYour entire interview told us nothing that we didn’t already know, and was just one giant free advert for her current product. I suppose her face on the cover sells copies for MOJO, also. But for the consumer, it’s not a good deal. Thinking about what she’s been doing for two years, I am at a loss. If she listened to two recorded shows from BTD each day, and listed the best performances, that would take a month. Let’s be generous and give her another four months to whip up packaging and choose which tracks to use on the CD. That still leaves 18 months of what? Clearly, she isn’t willing to talk about what she does, or anything that might be of actual interest to her fans. W Worst of all, after f asking fans not to record BTD – because she would – KB withholds the DV D D on spurious
grounds. If it was all about the audio, why did she spend a reputed million quid on the most lavish stage show ever seen? Surely, she’s bright enough to realise that millions of fans could not get tickets, and would love to see that show, even if the view is only from two cameras. But she has “no plans” to release it, which is a kick in the balls.
Adam Webb, via e-mail
Nice job As a long-time fan of The Band, I’ve read 99.9 per cent of Robbie Robertson interviews. The interview by Michael Simmons [MOJO 278] is the best I’ve read simply because Simmons managed to get Robertson to give much more than the same old answer to questions he’s been asked before. It is an excellent piece of work.
Peter Stone Brown, Philadelphia, via e-mail
Good roll, good roll The Steve Jones interview [MOJO 278] may be the best thing you have ever printed: intense, intimate, informative, surprising, very moving… and as well as all that, it includes a picture of Gaye Advert!! Can we have an interview with her too, please?
Graham Peck, London, via e-mail
You can’t afford to be this naive To the punters who are REALLY into their music, the Tindersticks’ astonishing album The Waiting Room is the album of the year. To not have this great LP in your Top 50 albums of the year is a comictragic statement on a par to your customary comictragic pals Bowie, Cave & Cohen who are (always) very prevalent in this list. As a life-long reader of MOJO, I can’t remember such an unbelievable blunder from your esteemed periodical to omit an LP that could easily be in the Top 5 of the annual best – if not album of the year. I think deep down you know this is a ‘gaffe for the books’.
Harry Stiles, Newcastle, via e-mail
Is it too much of a problem to ask? I don’t know if I missed it during my years of subscription and that you have already covered them – or if you’re just doing a cool, blokey refusal about The Moody Blues, but given that you’ve covered loads of prog bands, it would be great to see a retrospective on this band. From their earliest blues days to the Justin Hayward era…
Jane Easton, via e-mail
I would apologise The Tots, Lou Reed’s post-VU backing band hailed from the NYC suburb of Yonkers, NY, not Long
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Island as your article stated [MOJO 276]. They were barely out of high school and toured with Reed through Europe and the US. Check out Lou’s long bootlegged ’72 live radio broadcast, recently released officially as American Poet, to hear The Tots in action. These guys could rock!
Joe Brya, via e-mail
I’m not on fire I cannot help but write you re: your placing Brian Wilson’s memoir on the second page and Bruce Springsteen’s as the major review in your Filter Books space [MOJO 276]. What a slap in the face to Brian Wilson! I mean, Bruce is popular and I know that there are many who cannot wait to read what he has to say about his early life in the industry. But to place Brian Wilson’s on the next page shows a lack of understanding, if not a total lack of respect. Brian Wilson is an important, no, an essential ingredient in popular music. To shove his memoir to a secondary place is like saying that he does not matter, that his story is not as Important… Brian’s demons are serious and have led him down many ‘interesting’ roads. I am not trying to say that Bruce Springsteen has not faced some serious challenges, but by placing Brian Wilson on your back pages it seems to me you ignore the words of a contemporary, Frank Zappa, who said: “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” This describes Brian’s genius perfectly.
Grant Thomas, via e-mail
Worse things have happened Re: John McDonald’s frustrations with the term Krautrock [MOJO 276]. I’ve seen people get touchy about that term many times before, from under YouTube comments, to actual articles, but why the fuss? Apparently it’s derogatory, and the British music press once coined the term. Well, it’s not the first nor, by far, the last stylistic label the music press has come up with and I’ve spoken to people not happy about other catch-all terms, like grunge, Britpop and so on. But is it worth the aggravation? It simply makes it easier for everyone from critics and journos to fans and casual readers to put across what they mean. Krautrock is just an easy way to group all these great bands from that certain time and place. And while the ‘Kraut’ in it may be offensive to some, others took to it with a bit of humour, like you should (Faust’s song titled ‘Krautrock’ opens their album IVV). Surely we’d rather not call these bands ‘new German experimental electronic rock music’ every time Can, Neu! et al come up in conversation? And if John indeed is so offended by a term certainly not aimed at him, maybe he can come up with something easy for us all to say from this point on? It’s not that serious, is it?
Sander Varusk, Tallinn, via e-mail
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THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO REBORN John Cale talks revisiting the VU’s mythic debut, ﬁfty years on, at a special event in Liverpool with new collaborators. But will Moe be there?
Steve Schapiro/Corbis/Getty, Getty
“THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT ARE REALLY TIED TO LOU.”
STAR SAMPHA AND FLOYD FACE MORTALITY… MORE2017 RISING
A FILTERED PREVIEW OF THE YEAR TO COME PLUS THRILLING DISPATCHES FROM PLANET MOJO
Raw urban soul and humane electronic jams from south London’s next big thing.
“I FELT LIKE I WAS TRAVELLING OUTSIDE OF WHERE I WAS IN LONDON TO WEST AFRICA.” FACT SHEET O O
KEY TRACKS O O O
Whacko! The Floyd exhibition will include artefacts from the Wall tour and the original cane used on Roger Waters.
THE CAN PROJECT
Can’s 50th is celebrated at London’s Barbican on April 8. Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt will play An Homage To Can, co-written with Gregor Schwellenbach, with the LSO. Jaki Liebezeit, Malcolm Mooney and others will play too; there will also be a screening of the 1972 Can Free Concert movie and a Q&A with Rob Young about his new Can biography.
PINK FLOYD FEEL MORTAL
Massive V&A exhibition marks 50 years since debut hit.
Flynet Pictures, Jimmy King, Alamy, Photoshot
Airing on BBC2 in January, a year after his death, David Bowie: The Last Five Years focuses on his output since 2013’s return LP The Next Day. y It features rare unseen audio and visual material from Bowie, unheard vocals too, plus interviews with creative intimates and visits to related sites. There’s also Bowie At The BBC on BBC4, with TV appearances from 1964 onwards.
On August 23, 1994, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty filmed The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid, a bonfire of notes on the isle of Jura. They swore to only talk about it after 23 years had elapsed. This year it does. In 2014, Cauty said, “Something’s coming… We had the 23-year moratorium to give everybody else a chance to come up with a good response to the things that we did.”
Museum in September 2016. There could be only one logical explanation: a Pink Floyd exhibition was coming, to follow Bowie’s career-deﬁning retrospective at the same venue in 2013. Their Mortal Remains, which opens at the V&A in May 2017, also follows The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Floyd’s show marks 50 years since the release of their debut single Arnold Layne, and drummer Nick Mason describes the name as simply a “decently gothic title for a retrospective”, but the choice of words suggests these could be the ﬁnal throes of the Floyd brand, which guitarist David Gilmour claimed in 2006 to be “dissolved, ﬁnished, deﬁnitely deceased” – before reviving it for 2014 album The Endless River. What V&A curator Victoria Broackes calls an “immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical” event will include over 350 artefacts, with estranged bassist Roger Waters joining Gilmour and Mason alongside the family of the late keyboardist Richard Wright, and Hipgnosis co-founder (and Remains’ co-curator) Aubrey Powell in supplying the goods. The V&A pointedly make no mention of involvement of the late Syd Barrett’s estate, though Broackes has mentioned “children’s literature that inspired the psychedelic scene in 1960s London,” suggesting that Syd’s dog-eared copy of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows might feature. Intrguing rumours have come to light, though: new music from Gilmour, and relics like the Easter Island-style heads from The Division Bell album art and the original beds from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Further speculation includes bespoke rooms for each member, minus Syd. However, “elements dating back as far as the ’60s… way before the name Pink Floyd came into existence” will feature the original cane used to punish Waters and his late schoolmate (and Hipgnosis co-founder) Storm Thorgerson, and their school reports. Objects of more recent vintage include Animals’ giant inﬂated pink pig, while The Wall’s tour show donates the giant puppet cast, marching hammers, brick-based stage sculpture and stage masks worn by the band. Techies will revel in Gilmour’s famous black Stratocaster and Mason’s newly unearthed “really curious painted” drum heads from the early 1970s, analogue equipment such as a 1969 rebuild of the Azimuth Co-ordinator quadrophonic speaker system designed, and stolen, in 1967. Film footage will be premium, including offcuts from The Wall’s 1980-81 tour ﬁlm. The exhibition, Mason opines, “is actually rather nice, an opportunity to think ‘Oh yeah, they were good ’ or ‘What an idiot!’” Martin A Their Mortal Remains, Victoria and Albert Museum, runs from May 13 to October 1. DOCS ON COLTRANE, MARVIN, W ZAPPA AND JOHNNY THUNDERS… MORE2017NEW
The Slovene art-rock provocateurs play songs from The Sound Of Music in their North Korean tour documentary Liberation Day.
Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star? Films of groups on tour have a hold on the music-minded cineaste, but none are like Liberation Day. On general cinema and DVD release later in 2017, it presents geopolitik agitators Laibach as the ﬁrst western group to play live in the totalitarian pariah state of North Korea. Their concert programme? Laibachised versions of songs from The Sound Of Music. “Normally we don’t like tour concert ﬁlms very much,” says Laibach spokesman Ivan Novak, speaking after the ﬁlm’s international premiere in Amsterdam in November. “But obviously it is a special cultural event, doing the show in North Korea. So we were prepared to do it.” The visit, ﬁlmed in August 2015 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s independence from Japan, was made possible by Norwegian director, artist and North Korean cultural exchange specialist Morten Traavik. “Plenty of people just talk, but we saw that he actually does things,” says Novak. “It was a long debate, with lots of persuasions and diplomacy. He warned us straight away.” The resulting document is a humorous, disturbing, illuminating and sometimes moving immersion into an anomalous communist mirror-world, one wholly uncomprehending of rock’n’roll, let alone the multilevelled conceptual probings of Laibach. Though Novak avers, “the whole of North Korea is a Laibach country,” the trip is unsurprisingly tense: at a welcoming dinner, an ofﬁcial calls them “terrible… this band jokes about what
Co-director Morten Traavik (left) with Laibach (Ivan Novak, second left) in Pyongyang, August 2015.
“LAIBACH MAYBE SHOW THEIR HUMAN FACES, BUT DON’T TRUST THEM.”
crowd s responses show bafﬂement, amusement and, for one man, what looks like something stirring deep inside. Throughout, human stories are foregrounded, but Novak says they are neither condoning nor condemning the regime. “Of course not. It is such a popular country in terms of condemning it. [But] we are not apologists. We do our job. We did a concert in North Korea as we do a concert in London or America. When we go somewhere, we try to understand the situation. We are actually looking for similarities. Of course there is utopian communism which works on a certain level, not everywhere. But capitalism is utopian also, and it also does not work.” Though co-director Traavik often leads the action – Novak calls him “the glue” of the story – Laibach are seen as human individuals, rather than the stern automatons of legend. “I don’t think we actually revealed anything, really,” says Novak, who adds that Laibach also hope to play in Iran and Cuba. “Those who believe that we are like the achines off Westworld, that’s a little bit naïve. And bach has so many multiple faces that it doesn’t really matter. As [philosopher Slavoj] Zizek says, they maybe show their human faces, but don’t trust them.” “We had to trust [the ﬁlm-makers],” he says. “It’s not that we would do the same kind of ﬁlm, we would probably do a different edit. But it’s a small price for the big adventure.” Ian Harrison
Alamy, Rex (2), Daniel Miller
…telling the fraught story of veteran Tokyo metal band X Japan, WE ARE X gets a cinema release in March. It’s direct Stephen Kijak k Walker: 30 Centu and Stones In Ex said the story wa unreal” he migh music ﬁlm-maki Åkerlund will d biopic of JOHNNY THUNDERS, on Nina Anton
biography IN COLD BLOOD. Åkerlund is also working on a ﬁlm dramatising the church-burning tal scene… CHASING TRANE is written n Scheinfeld n…?/ The US cooperation of estate… Alex tinues to work orised Frank cumentary, WHO THE F*@% IS FRANK ZAPPA?
…Kevin M of the Bob documen working o WHITNEY HOUSTON authorised an “unvarn the troubl with interv including Davis… MARVIN, WHAT’S GOING ON? will
entrate on the soul end’s 1971 masterwork, h insider interviews and ate footage from his y …TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK will focus on keley’s 924 Gilman et collective, and ures comment from y Pop, Kathleen na, Jello Biafra, Ian aye and others…
New album Prisoner arrives on February 3. But what have AC/DC, “bummers” and mystery rock ﬂicks got to do with it?
“I IMAGINE I’M IN EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS.”
OVER FOR PREDICTIONS BY PETER HOOK, AND MORE… ORE2017TURN
THE ESUS & MARY CHAIN
Jim Reid talks liquor’ing, bickering and the ﬁrst JAMC album in 19 years...
since 1998 s Munkii will be released. It s a real relief, says singer and guitarist Jim Reid down the line from his West Country bolt hole. “We’ve been talking about doing it for, Christ, about 10 years.” Driven by the combustible sibling dynamic of Reid and his elder brother, guitarist William, the Mary Chain gained feedback immortality with 1985’s Psychocandyy and made ﬁve more truculent, quality albums before splitting at the end of the ’90s. They resumed touring in 2007 and were soon talking about a new album, but as Jim explains, “We couldn’t agree how to record it, where to record it – just the usual brothers bickering, non-stop. Eventually we realised that it was only going to happen if we got somebody else in, to kind of police the situation, and that was Youth.” In summer 2015, the storied producer and Killing Joke member assembled the group at his Wandsworth studio. With regular drummer Brian Young, guitar (on one track) from Phil King and Youth playing bass, recording was completed at his facility in Spain, with mixing following spasmodically and internationally. “I’d been worried about whether we were gonna be screaming at each other within 10 minutes… which of course we were,” says Jim. “But y’know, it wasn’t too bad. We had our little hissy ﬁts and just got on with the job, really. It was relatively painless – the actual amount of time spent in the studio, if you added it all together, you’re talking two, maybe three months.” Reid won’t reveal titles or themes, but says as well as new songs, the LP will feature re-recordings of “[Jim’s band] FFreeheat h t stuff t ff and d some stuff t ff off Willi William’s ’ th thatt he’s h ’ played l d live on occasions. We’ve never had a producer before, so to
Mary Chain s Jim (left) and William Reid, not ready to hang up their spurs.
“FOR MOST OF THE MIXING I WAS VERY VERY DRUNK INDEED.”
but with a new input. It s hard to describe without making it sound FACT SHEET awful… but it’s Mary Chain Title: TBC middle-aged.” Have they gone Songs: TBC back to feedback? “There’s loud Due: March Producer: Youth, Michael guitars. But if you’re looking for Rendall (engineering) Psychocandyy 2017, no, it’s not that.” The Buzz: “Anybody that For a group who once enjoyed likes the previous records a drink, it’s signiﬁcant that varying should be into it. The themes are just what they’ve always levels of sobriety applied this time. been – our fucked up view “Quite recently William’s stopped of the world, and how we drinking, and that kind of makes a fit into it, or rather how we don’t… that slightly hell of a difference with him,” says outside-looking-in point Jim. “When he stops going for it he of view of my brother and becomes much easier to deal with. myself.” y Jim Reid And I myself gave up drinking about six weeks ago, after falling off the wagon at the end of April and having a ﬁve-month blow out of constant drinking, like whisky for breakfast… but I have to admit that it’s more conducive to creativity when you get fucked up. For most of the mixing I was very very drunk indeed, writing the songs I think we were all pretty fucked up, but for the recording I was quite sober, and that’s the most important part.” After clearing this psychological hurdle, he admits they intend to make more records, sooner. “That’s deﬁnitely the plan,” says Reid. “This record wasn’t as terrifying to do as we’d thought, and it does seem a shame to hang up your spurs… th though h it probably b bl iis ti time, h ha h ha!” !” Ian Harrison
Wenn, Photoshot, Alamy, Chuck Berry, Steve Gullick (2)
LIAM GALLAGHER He
ne 10 vowed but Liam’s
coming. He describ the free newspaper as: “rock’n’roll, mate you won’t have to th too much about. No long guitar solos, no drum solos, no mad wizardy keyboard, just bang-inyour-face.”
a 11 Goldfrapp Gregory rele
eventh LP – the 013’s Tales Of Us ly 2017. A man says that i nth-heavy soun k stomping derground ctronica, sensu ereal melodies al machine pop
PAUL WELLER A Kind Revolution is o the spring. Ro guests on trump spokesman, and e sings on a “disc ured danceﬂoo t’s a real groove Also due, a ﬁrst Weller movie soundtrack or boxing ﬂick bone.
CHUCK BERRY His last
record was ’79’s Rock It,t 13 new but at 90, the rock’n’roller ease his farew ll LP (Dualtone). M is with his kids band, his guitar arles Jr says it ra rom “hard drivin rockers to soulfu thought-provo time capsules o life’s work.”
best of the year on vinyl
Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome
Bon Iver 22, A Million
Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl
Christine And The Queens Chaleur Humaine
David Bowie Blackstar
Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate
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After playing their first ever live shows, in Berlin in October, Swiss electro tricksters Yello will play internationally this year. Mentioning Russia, France and the US, voice Dieter Meier (left) confirmed, “We have experienced the magic of being on-stage… and have become almost addicted.”
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS
March 3 brings 50 Song Memoir,r the five-disc set by The Magnetic Fields, featuring a song for every year of mainman’s Stephin Merritt’s (pictured) life. They include ’79: Rock’N’Roll Will Ruin Your Life, ’85: Why I Am Not A Teenager, ’96: I’m Sad and ’02: Be True To Your Bar. European tour dates will follow.
PETER HOOK PREDICTS
And ﬁnally! The Joy Division/New Order bass Viking reads the tea leaves for the year ahead. Donald Trump Will Not Destroy The Planet
I’m not sure he’d be allowed to nuke anybody, put it that way. And he’s backtracking on loads of stuff now anyway. Ultimately the world will be as safe with him as it is with all the other fucking idiots. Face it, nearl of them have been up for impeachment We’re gonna trundle on pretty m for the foreseeable. They’re ap from a legal point of view, saying it when you get involved with the law… Plus, I think it’s a bad time for us to try and alone, it’s silly to be isolationist. I am pro-EU.
On February 3, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge play solo sets at Hull’s FRüIT venue. The shows will open a multi-event COUM Transmissions retrospective, including a six-week exhibition of archival material at the Humber Street Gallery. “I’m thrilled to be returning to my hometown,” says Cosey, who reads from her impending memoir ART SEX MUSIC on March 17. See hull2017. co.uk for info.
After Princess Beatrice got Ed Sheeran with a sword [in November, she accidentally slashed him with a ceremonial sabre while pretending to knight James Blunt], she’ll start attacking all the entertainers, using maces and iron maidens and other medieval torture instruments, depending on which songs do it for her. Actually you’d think she would’ve beheaded him, wouldn’t you? I’ve been watching that new series of The Royals, very Machiavellian, loads all pissed all the time
The Zombie A Coming (Pos It would certainly sor boys, wouldn’t it? It show, too – Zombie Island. Funnily enoug does the contingenc Greater Manchester P
poisoned, shit like that, and do you kno , there is no plan for a zombie apocalypse. It’s coming I tell ya! Life’s a lot like that anyway isn’t it?
Fake News Will Be Challenged There’s a great programme called Adam Ruins Everything, where this guy debunks myths, ke “carrots are good for making you see” or hn’s Wort is good for your bowels”, with need him doing that with everylly, with fake news, news that gets d other propaganda.
England Women’s otball Team Will Have A Good Year
Brexit Will Be Fudged
Musicians Should Beware The Royal Family
easy: soothsayer Hooky has visions of Presiden Trump, c and na fashi
They’re going to beat everybody. Wouldn’t that be great? In the World Cup I mean [nb: this takes place in 2018]. The men are so fucking useless, let them ﬁeld the women’s team and see if they can do any better.
“THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS COMING, I TELL YA!”
Fashion Takes A Drastic Turn We’re all going to go naked. It would be a great leveller, in society, if we all had to walk round nude. How scary would that be? Fucking hell. But this is one of the wonderful things about being my age, you get to the point where everything, like fashion, begins to look ridiculous.
60 Will (Still) Be The New 40 It is, and it’s really weird. If someone would’ve said to me at 20 that I’d still be a musician at 60, I would’ve gone, Fuck off. Yet here you are. Forty years can pass, you change but you don’t doing it. The young oaning about it, but they to usurp you.
l Be Busy work with Wolfgang Flür nd The Makers and I’ve been llaborator] Pottsy about lbum. So it’s going to be his legal shit out of the way r… my life will be rosy.
Getty Images (2), PA, Alamy, Famous, Eyevine
classic albums on vinyl
The Stone Roses The Stone Roses
Arctic Monkeys AM
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV
David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
Prince Purple Rain
Amy Winehouse Back To Black
Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Pink Floyd The Dark Side Of The Moon
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YOKO ONO HELL IN PARADISE (DAVE AUDÉ REMIX)
HOPE SANDOVAL AND THE WARM INVENTIONS INTO THE TREES
Where Yoko’s 1985 dance track of hell on Earth gets a thumping house makeover, with snare rolls galore and pumping bass. Find it: SoundCloud
Nine minutes of organ drones and phasing cymbals underlay the opener from the Mazzy Star voice’s newie, Until The Hunter.r Find it: YouTube
DUTCH UNCLES BIG BALLOON
With an intro that suggests Wire covering Kites Are Fun, gut-wrenching bass and a lyric sung as if by Corinne Drewery from Swing Out Sister, the title track from Manc art-pop nerks’ new LP promises much. Find it: SoundCloud
COLONEL ABRAMS TRAPPED (EXTENDED VERSION)
CLOUD NOTHINGS MODERN ACT
MAGGIE ROGERS DOG YEARS
By the Detroit-born singer who sadly died in November, this soulful, Number 3 proto-house hit from 1985 still builds and delivers. Find it: YouTube
Continuing a proud local indie tradition in Cleveland, Ohio, Cloud Nothings strip out the sludge on this taster from their fourth LP, revealing a cleaner, Superchunky indie rock spark. Find it: SoundCloud Lead track from the Maryland singer’s February EP establishes her reputation with enveloping atmospheres and glacial vocals. Find it: YouTube
LOW SOME HEARTS (AT CHRISTMAS TIME)
Low’s 1999 Christmas EP being the pinnacle of Mormon indie greatness, here’s a new addition to the canon; Mimi Parker’s clear frosty voice reminding us that hearts will break this season to mini minimal backwards tape accompaniment. Ding dong. Find it: YouTube
MOONLANDINGZ BLACK HANZ
The Eccentronic Research Council’s fictional band brought to grimy life by members of Fat White Family, whose Lias Saoudi reprises his role as Jonny Rocket in silver platform boots and a codpiece for their first video. Gloom, glam, thank you rabbit-headed godman. Find it: YouTube
ARETHA FRANKLIN THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER
Accompanying herself on piano, with organ assistance, Aretha sings a stately version of the US national anthem on Thanksgiving Day before an American football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, Detroit. Find it: YouTube
THE SMITHS RUBBER RING
PRINCE MOONBEAM LEVELS
Strangely, the storied group are releasing a new 7-inch single featuring demo versions of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and Rubber Ring, almost replicating the songs’ original 1985 release. Does this suggest the long-awaited Smiths rarities box may be coming? Here’s the fateful original B-side to chew over. Find it: YouTube Unreleased from 1982, but why? A crisp rocke with instinctive harmonies, if it’s a glimpse into the riches soon to be brought forth from Prince’s vault, bring it on. Find it: Prince4Ever (NPG/WARNER BROS) MOJO listens to all its music on Roksan equipment
Comfort zone: Laura Marling (above) seeks succour; (below) Morrissey and Marr, remembering ‘85.
“IS THE LONGAWAITED SMITHS RARITIES BOX COMING?”
GRANDADDY A LOST MACHINE
Preceding a new LP, Jason Lytle’s band come back in pathos-sodden style with a beautiful, sad robot song set in a decaying surveillance state (“Canyonland”). For your so-sad Boxing Day playlist. Find it: YouTube
PIOTTA FEAT. CAPTAIN SENSIBLE WOT! (CAPITANO MIO CAPITANO!)
Captain Sensible’s 1982 hit gets a pop-rap makeover, in Italy, and he’s on hand to assist, rhyming about problems in the Eurozone. Find it: YouTube
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA/ OPETAIA FOA’I WE KNOW THE WAY
Hamilton writer Miranda scores Disney’s latest smash Moana: a box office-slaying blend of intersectional feminism and Polynesian legend. The stirring finale features Western Samoan-born star Opetaia Foa’i. Find it: YouTube
OF ARROWE HILL 1916 (A MESSAGE FROM THE HIGH COMMAND)
THE FLAMING LIPS HOW??
RADIO BIRDMAN NEW RACE
The band once called a “morbid quintessence of acoustic hide and seek” advance their ongoing World War I concept piece with accusing, martial glam punk from behind the lines. Find it: YouTube Wayne Coyne looks uncomprehendingly from his zorbing ball, as slow, bassy synth-pop gurgles downwards into the sump of his mind. It suggests, “legalise it, every drug right now.” You sure? Find it: YouTube
Live in ’77 at the Marryatville Hotel, Adelaide, Australia’s foremost Detroit rockers let their longhair/guitar solo selves battle it out with proper high velocity action-before-thought punk. Find it: YouTube
SECTION 25 LOOKING FROM A HILLTOP (MEGAMIX)
An old fave from the new Factory Benelux comp New Order Presents: Be Music, lysergic electro pop from Blackpool cults. YouTube
PAULINE OLIVEROS HORSE SINGS FROM CLOUD
Twenty-two subtly shifting minutes of accordion drones and sustained vocal notes. From 1982’s Accordion & Voice LP y the ‘deep listening’ musician, who died in November. ind it: YouTube
From her new album Semper Femina, minimal and acoustic nearly-R&B preludes an orchestral surge as Marling declares her need for succour. “I started out writing it as if a man was writing about a woman,” she explains. “And then I thought, It’s not a man, it’s me… looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself.” See also her haunting, ambivalent self-directed film for the track, inspired by a series of dreams. Find it: YouTube
GRUFF RHYS The Super Furry Animals and solo seer in his own words and by his own hand.
I describe myself as… I try not to, really. I’ve previously described myself as a wheelie bin, but that was too conceptual. Music changed me… it’s made me travel a lot more than I would have done, I think, and because of that I’ve found even more music. It’s a totally transforming thing, it turns your world upside down, and it’s like a loop, the more you hear the more you travel. When I’m not making music… I’m usually not making music, I’m doing other stuff, I’ve got kids… Finding the time to go in the studio and make music, it feels like a privileged thing. But because I’ve got a musical sweet tooth, earworms are always there. My biggest vice is… I’ve got a metal one, at home, just a generic one from B&Q. It was in a cellar but I’ve recently moved house so it’s now in a box. I made, like, picture frames in the last millennium. The last time I was embarrassed was… last night. We were playing in Dublin and I went to play a guitar duet with Bunf and he played brilliantly and I didn’t. In the home of Thin Lizzy, it was embarrassing. The UV lights were on so only whites and blues could be seen, not my embarrassment. My formal qualiﬁcations are… I have a degree in ﬁne art. They were big on criticism, and how to not take it personally. By the end I wasn’t making physical work, just ideas. To the point where there was nothing there at all! The last time I cried was… it doesn’t happen a lot. It’s usually to do with a ﬁlm that tries to manipulate you sentimentally. I’m not easily manipulated because I understand the mechanics of what they’re trying to do. Sporting events, they’re pretty manipulative but more unpredictable. But these days all you have to do is watch the news for 24 hours and you’re likely to be streaming away. Vinyl, CD or MP3? …all and more, you know? Vinyl as a medium because they’re quite large artefacts and I ﬁnd
Fine art riot: Gruff Rhys by Gruff Rhys; (below) the artist today.
“I’VE DESCRIBED MYSELF AS A WHEELIE BIN, BUT THAT WAS TOO CONCEPTUAL.”
them easier to keep track of, ﬁles and CDs are more disposable, though I listen to ﬁles and streams all the time. My most treasured possession is… (long silence) My family, but I wouldn’t consider them to be possession. So I’d say a Tom Zé record, Estudando O Samba. It took a lot of trouble to get hold of. The best book I’ve read is… I really treasure the books of Brenda Chamberlain. She used to live in the place where I grew up and later on I lived in the house where she committed suicide, unbeknownst to me when I moved in. She’s still remembered where I’m from because she was so radical: in the 1930s she’d be dressed in a potato sack – really practical. I’d also recommend On David Bowie by the English philosopher Simon Critchley. It’s like a guide to philosophy through the songs of David Bowie. I learned a lot.
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?… Half-full. I’m optimistic. My greatest regret is… I grew up listening to the Butthole Surfers, and on Locust Abortion Technician there’s a quote, “It’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven’t done.” Ha ha! It’s been my education. When we die… it depends on the procedure, on the place of death, sometimes people phone the police, sometimes the funeral home. There are forms to ﬁll in. If you’re Lenin, you get pickled and displayed. An afterlife? People stay in the memory. I would like to be remembered… it’s not something I consider at all. Gruff Rhys’ Set Fire To The Stars dates happen in Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and London from January 26-30.
Getty Images, Rex
writing notes for the reissue of BUSH
burnt £5 millions’ worth (supposedly) ilia t’s
ODUBA JOE CORRÉ
ore en me m
freestyled to So What? …all dub heads know the Scientist Wins The World Cup and Scientist Meets The Space Invaders LPs. But what are these expanded reissues on VP records? They’re now called Junjo Presents: Wins The World Cup and Linval Presents Space Invaders,
crediting the late JUNJO LAWES and producer LINVAL THOMPSON, with new art! Blame “legal argy bargy,” says a spokesman. … JIM STEINMAN’s Bat Out Of Hell – he Musical opens in Manchester in February and moves to London in une. Expect familiar unes, and new ongs like What Part Of My Body Hurts he Most…
THE MOONLANDINGZ Glam-stomp saucy disco doom for a new world order. Includes Yoko Ono.
he world is looking unbelievably fucked up at the moment,” says Dean Honer. “And there’s a history of being daft when there’s shit things going on in the world. Like with Dada, that was a response to the First World War.” “There is a severe daftness about this band,” says Lias Saoudi. “I’d say it’s dafter than the Fat White Family, and that’s pretty daft.” Saoudi is lead singer of The Moonlandingz, as well as the Fat White Family. His Fat White cohort Saul Adamczewski is The Moonlandingz’ guitarist, while the sonic foundations are Shefﬁeld muso magi Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer, who between them have worked on projects including The All Seeing I and Kings Have Long Arms. “We collaborate so we don’t have to spend too much time around the same people,” says Flanagan, though it also seems they have a knack for creating alliances: their last album (as the Eccentronic Research Council) starred Maxine Peake; this one includes Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor and Randy Jones, aka the cowboy from Village People. (“Lias met him at the KGB bar in New York,” says Flanagan. “I think he propositioned him.”) The Moonlandingz began as the ﬁctional band at the centre of Eccentronic Research Council’s 2015 concept album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan. They had one song on that album – the sinister, stomping Sweet Saturn Mine – but now they’ve juddered
ingz, partially (from left) bassman Manfredo ‘The Pimp’, Johnny Rocket (aka Lias Saoudi, with white bread wristband) and Adrian Flanagan.
“THERE IS A SEVERE DAFTNESS ABOUT THIS BAND” Lias Saoudi
FACT SHEET ●
character as Johnny Rocket, Transgressive label in March. wearing a glittery codpiece Interplanetary Class Classics and Warburtons bread bangles. shares some of that stoopid-geni● Yoko Ono (above) guests us rage that Fat White Family have, on album closer The Cities in the lineage of The Monks and Undone. Phil Oakey provides Devo with an added dollop of backing vocals. Half Man Half Biscuit and Delia KEY TRACKS Derbyshire-gone-glam synth ● Black Hanz stomp. And, like FWF, the lyrics ● Sweet Saturn Mine ● 40,000 , Years Of Job Club pick at scabs, delve into bodily functions and sticky oriﬁces, and are sometimes in wilful bad taste. The Strangle Of Anna, for example, is in part a pisstake of hipster Velvet Underground fans (it also rhymes “Sunday morning” with “parquet ﬂooring”), while the demented and cheery Neuf De Pape is inspired by the wine the band drank when they were at Sean Lennon’s studio in New York. And 40,000 Years Of Job Club is “about the Kafkaesque inanity of having to sign on,“ says Lias. “Which I did for about ﬁve years, but it felt like 40,000 years. They’d rather have you in a room digging a ditch and ﬁlling it back up again forever than doing whatever you want to do. You have to be in there writing imaginary CVs for imaginary jobs.” Flanagan nods. “It’s much better to write imaginary songs for imaginary bands.” Anna Wood
Interplanetary Class Classics is out on Transgressive in March. The Moonlandingz tour in January and February.
ANTON NEWCOMBE The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s despot-in-chief picks songs for murder, drugs and devilish taunting.
SUSAN CHRISTIE 3MIND ECHO IN YOUR (from Paint A Lady, Finders Keepers, 2006)
DOBSON 1 BONNIE WINTER’S GOING (from Bonnie Dobson, RCA Victor, 1970)
“I love this track, I love a murder ballad. Bonnie Dobson is a Canadian folk music songwriter, singer and guitarist. I’m a sucker for the Irish, Scottish
ALL I 2TOCHER Y WA NT REALLY DO (Imperial, 1965) “It’s fucking Cher, that plastic queen of all things camp. But wait – here she is at the start, on par with The Byrds. Sonny Bono got her a solo deal, and I
“She’s an American singer-songwriter from Philly. She had a modestly silly hit with I Love Onions in 1966. She later signed to Columbia Records and recorded Paint A Lady, y an album of ‘psychedelic folk music’, in 1970, but it went unreleased for being non-commercial, and she was dropped. Only THREE VINYL COPIES of it were ever pressed. It languished in obscurity until 2006, when my friend Andy Votel of Finders Keepers
YOUNG 4 STEVE KENN Y’S SONG
GURYAN 5MARGO SUN
“He’s a country singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known for Seven Bridges Road, who passed away in March. He was a pioneer of the country rock, Americana and alternative country sounds, and a vital force behind the ‘outlaw movement’. Van Dyke Parks wrote the song The All Golden about him, and he was in the Heartworn Highways documentary. Well for me, this moment was the high point of low topics… drug addiction. I love this sub-
“This album is, in fact, better than the last Oasis album, pound for pound. She was a singer-songwriter type from New York who penned Sunday Mornin’, a hit for Spanky And Our Gang in 1968. She wrote songs for quite a few people but, ultimately, her ‘career failed’ because of her attitude… I love her attitude. She knew it’s all a farce, being a pop star, being manipulated, being used. She didn’t care and I respect her for that. What is the most important
(from Rock Salt & Nails, A&M, 1969)
(from Take A Picture, Bell, 1968)
Anton Newcombe, shining a light in dark corners.
he press ofﬁcer says we can talk to Cliff Richard about anything – “just nothing that’s happened in the last two years.” Ostensibly, then, we’re here to discuss his new album, his 101st, Just… Fabulous Rock’n’Roll. It ﬁnds the 76-year-old back singing the music of his youth. Luckily, we also ﬁnd time to talk about his two golden periods; his ﬁrst ﬁve years with The Shadows, and his amazing run of pop singles and LPs released between 1976 and 1981. “It breaks my heart that I’ll never again take 12 new songs into the studio and give them to a bunch of musicians,” he says. “We do ‘projects’ now. Next there’ll be a jazz project, and then I’d like to do an album of Everly Brothers ballads, do all the harmonies myself. Record companies are not so fearful of releasing a record like that.”
The ﬁrst shows we did there would be ﬁre-eaters and jugglers. It was very weird, but then the promoters could see that the audiences weren’t coming to see the ﬁre-eaters. So quickly, within a year, after my ﬁrst tour, the promoter said, “I’d like to take you on tour as the headliner.” I’d got one record, at the time. I only had Move It.
you considered doing a strippedback, Rick Rubin type album? I haven’t really. Sometimes, there’s a danger when you’re doing something that’s just about you. But you’ve always had that melancholy in your voice. I’ll take that as a compliment. I’ve always said the song will let you know how to sing h i iit. If you’re ’ singing i i Congratulations, that’s not melancholy. It’s not even rock’n’roll. For the Eurovision Song Contest, I did six songs on The Cilla Black Show and the public voted for the one they liked best. There were a couple of others I was hoping would win, and they didn’t. Now, when I go to a restaurant, and people are having a birthday party, guaranteed they sing Happy Birthday, then they all swing into Congratulations! Can you imagine? But then I think, well, if someone had
Richard’s current ﬁve rockers 1 Passenger Let Her Go (NETTWERK, 2012) 2 Sam Smith The Writing’s On The Wall (CAPITOL, 2015)
3 The Everly
Brothers Songs Our Daddy Taught Us
4 Rod Stewart The Great American SSongbook (J,VARIOUSYEARS) 5 Elvis Presley Elvis 56 (RCA, 1996)
By the time of your third LP, Me And My Shadows you’d defined a new British rock’n’roll sound. When we started, we were inﬂuenced by America. But on Me And My Shadows I can hear a new rock’n’roll come out. The Shadows and I had it for ﬁve years. One of The Beatles said, “Cliff and The Shadows had it sewn up, so we left and went to Hamburg”. Now, that means The Shadows and I played a part in the creation of The Beatles. If they hadn’t gone there they might have been us, if you know what I mean. They came back and blew us all off the
Getty Images, Eva Vermandel
The Brit-rock’n’roll cornerstone on the Fabs, God and Devil Woman.
stage. It was great. I wish something like that would revive our industry now. Do you think people went out of their way to give you a hard time once you found Christianity in 1964? They might have done. It’s funny, when I think back, I suppose I haven’t followed the pattern. I’ve changed all the time. Compare Move It with Living Doll! I started to think to myself, Maybe I’m the radical one, because I’m not so fearful of trying new things. I’m so grateful to John Lennon, because so often I get written off as uncool and bland and I know that he said, “Before Cliff and Move It, there was nothing.” You also had a second “five-year cycle” from 1976 to ’81. That was called my renaissance period. I loved it. I was getting a little bit too comfortable. My manager, Peter Gormley, said to Bruce Welch, “Cliff would like to do another album, but nothing that sounds like Summer Holiday or Congratulations.” I already had the Devil Woman demo in my hot, sweaty hands. [Songwriter/producer] Terry Britten gave me that and I thought, This is fantastic but will people accept me singing this kind of song? You’d already refused to sing your previous single, Honky Tonk Angel on the Russell Harty Show because of your Christian fans… Partly true. I’d gone to do a Christian meeting and one girl had said, “Your new record… it’s about a prostitute.” I phoned my manager, Peter Gormley, “Is this true?” He phoned America. It turned out a honky tonk angel was the name given to someone you might pick up at a bar. I pulled away from it. But it’s on my jukebox now and I listen to it for what it is. It’s a great record. What caused the shift to musical theatre in the mid ’80s? There’s a danger that if you get trapped, you can’t spread your wings at all. I hadn’t done musicals and I loved it. I loved Time. The album Dave Clark made, I was a bit annoyed he didn’t let me sing my character’s songs. He gave them to Freddie Mercury and somebody else. I was, “Oh no! They’re my songs, the songs I sing live on stage.” That bothered me. But Time led to me doing the thing I’d wanted to do since I was 18 – play the part of Heathcliff. I got the opportunity because I decided I’d have to pay for it myself. No one was going to offer me that part. Tell us something you’ve never told an interviewer before. Oh dear. There are a hundred things I’ve never told an interviewer before, and I’m going to keep it that way. I’ve never told a journalist to go away. And I’m particularly thinking of otherr ways of saying “go away”. Andrew Male Cliff Richard’s Just…Fabulous Rock’n’Roll is out now on Sony.
LAST NIGHTA RECORD CHANGED MY LIFE
SHIRLEY COLLINS Back after decades, the folk godmother hails Richard And Linda Thompson’s Withered And Died.
The best of England: Shirley Collins (below) remembers track three, side one of the first album by Richard And Linda Thompson, 1974.
’d been ditched by my husband Ashley Hutchings, who’d started falling in love with actresses. Over the next few months my conﬁdence just went away, and I sort of couldn’t sing sometimes. I was at the National Theatre, doing things in public, and it was so humiliating that I hardly dared to try. And this got deeper and deeper in my psyche, I suppose. We were friends with Richard and Linda Thompson, especially Linda, they used to visit us at our cottage, Red Rose, in Etchingham. When their album I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonightt came out [in 1974], they gave it to me, and Withered And Died just sort of summed up everything I was thinking and feeling at the time. It’s such a beautiful song. I think it was Linda’s sorrowful, plangent singing and the words, ‘this cruel country has driven me down.’ It felt like that was my life then. I went with it all. In a way it plunged me deeper into my misery, but it sustained me.
“I WISH I’D JUST FELT ANGRY INSTEAD OF HURT.”
At that time Linda and Richard were about to split as well, and she’d just had a baby. And I thought, God, well, her situation was far worse than mine. But I appreciate it for being a beautiful song now, it doesn’t have a deep meaning for me – I’m past that now. In a way I feel a bit silly talking about it, because it was so long ago, and in many ways I wish I’d just felt angry instead of hurt. But, there. The songs that really mean the most to me are the songs I used to sing, and the songs that I’m singing now. The most beautiful English traditional songs are sort of imbued with the memories and the feelings of all those past generations. What they have for me is a complete truth, all the emotions in them have come down by heart. They represent the best of England, to me – the honest, decent working people. If I had to choose one song, I’d take Gilderoy, which I did on For As Many As Will [1978 LP with her sister Dolly]. The beauty of the melody and the words, and the fact it came from a shoemaker [Henry Burstow] in Horsham, who lived fairly local to me… it’s a source of pride for me that I came from the same class [as him]. When I listen to this music I just feel settled. Perhaps that’s another word for contentment. Ian Harrison Shirley Collins’s Lodestar – her ﬁrst album in 38 years! – is out now on Domino.
THE GO-BETWEENS REACH ENDGAME WITH STREETS OF YOUR TOWN, 1989 After 11 years of graft and magic, Australia’s greatest band looked set to ﬁnally cross over with a single of gold-standard pop brilliance. But fate – and UK daytime radio – would cruelly deny them, and the split that followed would be messy and tragic…
“HE LOOKED AT ME FROM ACROSS THE ROOM AND I LOOKED AT HIM.”
PART 1 “IT QUITE AMAZED US.” Co-leader Robert Forster remembers 16 Lovers Lane, a nearly hit and going back to the teenage bedroom.
e’d made three albums, Before Hollywood, Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express, and 16 Lovers Lane, that I think are masterpieces. What happened was, around Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane there were people wanting to put more chips on the table, and [that] meant, ‘OK, let’s look at producers.’ You would be funded, you know? The stakes would be raised. [1988 LP 16 Lovers Lane] is I think the closest of the whole catalogue where Grant [McLennan, co-guitar, voice and songwriter] and I are on the same page. He’s falling in love and I’m sort of… falling out of love, it’s a time where I’m single and not in a relationship. Over these 18 months I’m probably in the most, in terms of love, the most fractured time, drifting time. When Grant and I were preparing for it, when he played me his songs and I played him mine, I can remember him playing me Love Goes On and I was like ‘I’ve got a song called Love Is A Sign.’ That sort of overlapping had never happened before. It quite amazed us. Which is why the album’s called 16 Lovers Lane in a roundabout way: the songs sort of matched up although there were two different points of view coming in. But his songs were plain as day, completely informed by his relationship with Amanda [Brown, Go-Betweens multi-instrumentalist]. It inspired him, and he wrote a batch of great songs. There was one moment when Streets Of Your Town was re-released [May 1989], and it got, like, A-listed, 13 plays on Radio 1. There was like one or two weeks in London, we were here on tour, where you’d hear it coming out of shops, and it was like, ‘OK, this is it.’ It didn’t happen. So if Streets is not going to make it after, [previous 45s] Cattle And Cane, and Bachelor Kisses and Spring Rain, and you know, Right Here and Head Full Of Steam… if that lot ain’t gonna make it, you just go, Well, what d’you have to do? That was an lluminating moment, when we had that sparkling record and we got A-listed and, you know, it stalled at, I don’t know, Number 78 or 80 or wherever. Why the band broke up at that point… there’s a number of reasons. We’d come off 18 months or 14-18 months touring 16 Lovers Lane, and I’d started a relationship with a woman in Germany. It’s a small crack, n a way. We were tired. We’ve done six bums through the ’80s and basically we’re ack on our arses in Sydney with no money. There were a couple of half-arsed ideas, we re sort of moving towards making a sort of i-16 Lovers Lane. Grant and I had done great mos, we had a stack of fantastic songs. I came k from Germany expecting things to be , but you could feel it running down, rgy. So I ﬂy back to Germany for another h with my girlfriend, come back but it’s ou know… we had one bad practice session e just looked at me from across the room oked at him and after that we met up ust said, ‘I wanna leave the band,’ and wanna leave too. s November, early December. I was going up ne, almost like the mystical place where we he band, for Christmas, to my parents. I said to Grant, Let’s get a bit of distance on this, this is a big thing. I talked with my parents about it, I thought about it. I was back in the house where I’d written (1978 debut single A-and B-side) Lee Remick and Karen, in that bedroom, and I just thought, Yep, and I phoned him. All I can say is, it was tough on people but it was the right thing to do. I have no doubts or any regrets about it, but it was hard for Grant, it was very hard for Grant.”
Robert Forster was talking in 2010. DRUMMER LINDY MORRISON AND AMANDA ON AN UNFORTUNATE SPLIT. TURN OVER! BROWN
Louis Vincent/Dalle/Iconicpix, Getty Images (3), Photoshot (2)
Sydney sunshine and London melancholy: The Go-Betweens’ final line-up (from left) Robert Forster, Lindy Morrison, Amanda Brown, Grant McLennan and John Wilsted; (bottom row, from left) Forster and Wilsteed; Robert smokes; Grant stares; alive in colour; badge, ticket and sleeve of 1988’s Streets Of Your Town single.
PART 2 “YOU HAD 10 YEARS”
THE GO-BETWEENS REACH THEIR ENDGAME, 1989 Violin/oboe/keyboardist Amanda Brown and drummer Lindy Morrison on the wrong way to end a band. Amanda Brown: “Tallulah was sort of [me] ﬁnding my musical place in the band, and by the time we did 16 Lovers Lane I felt very much more an integral part. I think I had lived and had known the songs from conception to completion. I know a lot of people say it’s the best album, I don’t know if it is, but it doesn’t have a single bad song on it. Streets Of Your Town was written in this kind of a sunny top-ﬂoor apartment in Sydney. Even though g the lyrics y are q quite dark, it musically has a very sunny feel. It was one of those songs that just sort of almost materialised out of thin air. We were having a meeting with the producer and Grant sort of played it as an afterthought, and Mark Wallis immediately went ‘Oh, we
have to record that one!’ Grant and I were a couple then. We were in love. You know, the band began for me as a very sunny time of optimism and unlimited opportunities, but by that time, it kind of wasn’t about making beautiful music together, it was about just coming to terms with these interminable rivalries. You had a natural competition between Robert and Grant, because there was always this sort of unspoken rivalry about who would write the singles And when it ended, it was a and unresolve don’t think tha deeply about and I were still relativelyy happ pp regretted that whole thing fe Lindy Morriso Day, 1989. We Sydney and G nda
orster, Morrison, Wilsteed, McLennan and Brown; (below, from left) Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane (side one); Love Goes On 45; Lindy and Amanda; 16 Lovers Lane.
“GEOFF TRAVIS SAID, ‘FOR GOD’S
continue as T e G - etw ens b they don’t want Amanda and I. It was six o’clock in the evening, the time Grant and he had agreed they were going to tell us. And I said, Has Amanda been told? and he said, ‘No…’ And I walked immediately to the phone, I ring Amanda and say, What’s happening over there? I told her and she said, ‘I’m packing my bags, I’m walking out.’ And Robert and Grant then closed the band. Everybody was trying to make the band commercial, and we’re two women in a band, where the boys wanna enter the boys’ world and all the boys want the boys to enter the boys’ world. They’re not gonna do ow, a woman on drums, stage I was 38, and in. ow, I just think the work’s edible. I remember talking vis shortly after and he od’s sake, you had 10 years, u expect? That’s incredible t.’ And he was right. It was great.” Ian Harrison wn was talking in 2014. on was talking in 2010.
THE RIGHT HAND OF THE KING THE GUITAR THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
This CD release contains 30 remastered studio tracks, consisting of the most celebrated and inspired works from Moore’s discography. Featured here are a variety of the sensational recordings he made between 1954 and 1962. “Scotty was my icon. I’d have died and gone to heaven just to play like that. How the hell was that done?” – Keith Richards 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 30 TRACKS. T.T.: 67.44’
GOOD TIMIN’ + 15 BONUS TRACKS
This essential release presents Jones’ splendid debut LP, Good Timin’. It features a number of great R&B staples by this sweet-voiced and compelling singer, such as the aforementioned Otis Blackwell-produced “Handy Man” (later covered by Del Shannon, James Taylor, and even Frank Black). Plus 15 bonus tracks, consisting of hard-to-find sides. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 27 TRACK S. T.T.: 75.10’
A CRUCIAL SOURCE OF ROCK & ROLL, R&B, SOUL, BLUES AND COUNTRY, FROM MUSICAL PIONEERS WHOSE INFLUENCE IS STILL FELT TODAY. ALL CDs INCLUDE A
OH WHAT A NITE! 1954-1962 VEEJAY & ARGO SIDES
Soul Jam is proud to compile 30 studio tracks, including a selection of those fabulous and seminal sides The Dells recorded for Vee-Jay and Argo Records between 1954 and 1962.The capable and versatile group could handle touching ballads such as “Oh, What a Nite,” uptempo tunes like “Jeepers Creepers,” and soul-rocking numbers such as “Cherry Bee,”“Baby Do,” and “Hold On to What You’ve Got.” This set constitutes the foundation of this sensational vocal group and is a must-have for fans of classic R&B. 16-PAGE BOOKLET - 30 TRACKS – T.T.:75:57’
2 LPs ON 1
E SOLOMON BURKERK (DEBUT ALBUM) + IF YOU NEED ME + 6 BONUS TRACK Both masterpiece S s have been rem
astered and pack together in this very aged special release, whic h also includes 6 bonus tracks from the same period. These seminal recordings also feat ure a virtual who’s who of fabulous musicians, including King Curtis, Hank Jone Mickey Baker, and The Ray Charles Sing s, Al Caiola, ers, among others. This is the materia l upon which Solo mon Burke’s lege was built. It is end nd uring music and the epitome of southern soul up north. 16-PAGE BOOK LET – 30 TRAC KS – 75:44’
RARE PHOTOS, VINTAGE MEMORABILIA, DETAILED LINER NOTES AND MORE. FOR MORE INFORMATION:
2 LPs ON 1CD 263500
THE BIG BEAT + JOHNNIE RAY (debut S ALBUM) +7 BONUS TRACK the nickname ‘’Mr. Emo-
Ray’s performing style earned him The Big Beat (1957), tion’’. This quintessential CD includes plus 7 bonus tracks and his debut LP, Johnnie Ray (1952) elling ballad, among from the same period (“Cry,” the million-s from anything that them). Johnnie was completely different Ray to be the father of went before him… I consider Johnnie rock and roll.” — Tony Bennett and style I totally “He was the first singer whose voice fell in love with.” – Bob Dylan S. T.T.: 73:53’ TRACK 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 27
LITTLE ANTHONY AND THE IMPERIALS
WE ARE THE IMPERIALS + SHADOWS OF THE 40’s + 6 BONUS TRACKS
These two magnificent records were originally issued by the End label and contain great numbers, such as “Tears on My Pillow”, “Oh Yeah”, “Two People in the World”, “If You’re but a Dream”, and “All or Nothing at All”, among others. Both albums have been remastered and packaged together in this special collector’s edition, which also includes 6 bonus tracks, consisting of hard-to-find sides from the same period. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 30 TRACKS. T.T.: 75:49’
MARVELOUS MARV JOHNSON + MORE MARV JOHNSON + 6 BONUS TRACKS
The debut LP Marvelous Marv Johnson, and the follow-up record More Marv Johnson. Fusing R&B and soul with some hints of jazz, these two outstanding LPs have been remastered and packaged together in this very special collector’s edition, which also includes 6 bonus tracks from the same period (gathering a variety of hard to find sides recorded by Johnson between 1960 and 1962). Highlights feature the smash “Come to Me”. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 29 TRACKS. T.T.: 73:53’
THE ONE WHO REALLY LOVES YOU + 10 BONUS TRACKS
Mary Wells developed a unique stage persona that was shy and sexy at the same time that made her the first Motown Diva. Her earthy, radiant, and crystal clear voice presaged what was to come later with The Supremes and Diana Ross. This quintessential collector’s edition contains Mary Wells’ magnificent and long unavailable second album for Motown, The One Who Really Loves You (1962) PLUS 10 bonus tracks from the same period. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 20 TRACKS. T.T.: 51:24’
UK distribution by www.discovery -records .com / 01380 728000 – firstname.lastname@example.org
JANUARY 1966 ...ROCK’S HARMONICA MADNESS PEAKS! Billy Lee Riley had been around. A guitarist who could also whip up a storm on harmonica, he’d had a couple of rockabilly hits on Sun in 1957 and led The Little Green Men, a band that for a while featured an up-andcoming Jerry Lee Lewis. Later he played harmonica on numerous sessions for Sammy Davis Jr, Rick Nelson, The Righteous Brothers and The Beach Boys. That’s him on the single version of Help Me, Rhonda, though Billy Lee later confessed: “You have to listen real close to hear me, they got me pulled down in the mix.” Having acquired something of a reputation as a mouthharp mainman he began releasing a series of harmonica-headed albums in the early ’60s, including Harmonica Beatlemania and Whisky À Go-Go-Presents. During January 1966, GPN-Crescendo released a Billy Lee Riley album titled Funk Harmonica (Folk Rock And Folk Blues). An easy-please, wide
appeal affair of songs by Bob Dylan, Donovan and P.F. Sloan, its impact was modest, but it was shrewdly timed. It could not be denied: harmonicas were in. On January 16, that same year, Billboard magazine ran a major news piece sporting the headline “Folk Revival Sparks Harmonica Boom”. The piece revealed: “Record retailers are riding the crest of the harmonica wave. The public, stimulated by the increasing numbers of pop artists who use harmonicas in their acts, is buying harmonicas at an unprecedented rate.” In 1963, the number of US record retailers selling harmonicas was practically zilch. Just a year later, some 40 per cent sold the instruments, while in 1965, the year that sparked the January headline 50 per cent
Gob iron men: (clockwise from top left) Billy Lee Riley, Bob Dylan and Slim Harpo, with Billboard cutting; (insets) Billy’s LP and a Hohner harp.
“THE PUBLIC IS BUYING THEM AT AN UNPRECEDENTED RATE.”
The main reason, according to Billboard’s research, was down to the folk music revival and, “in particular Columbia artist Bob Dylan, who plays the harmonica in combination with the guitar [and] interested thousands of youths in buying and playing harmonicas.” It was reckoned that about 10 per cent of records on the US pop chart during the period featured harmonica, with Dylan, Barry McGuire, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, The Dave Clark Five, Donovan, Sonny & Cher, The Beau Brummels and Bobby Vinton just a few of the performers who lodged harmonica-helped singles in the US charts. A further Billboard news item revealed, “Following the path blazed by folk music which incorporates rock instruments, blues seems to be gaining a Hot 100 foothold with electric guitars, drums and ampliﬁed harmonicas.” The piece listed new releases by Paul Butterﬁeld, The Blues
The hallucination game: the Dead entertain the freaks, for just $2!
Project and The Goldberg-Miller Blues Band, adding that, “the basic element seems to be the harmonica highly ampliﬁed to produce a funky sound.” For a while, the trend continued. Harmonicas were cheap and could be purchased for between two and 10 dollars. At that price anyone could be a music-maker. And if Stevie Wonder failed to tootle even one harmonica shaped note on his January 1966 R&B Number 1 Uptight (Everything’s Alright), Slim Harpo’s harmonica-heavy Baby Scratch My Back was on its way, and would terminate Stevie’s stay at the top a few weeks later. Harpo, born James Isaac Moore, took his professional name from the harmonica he’d been playing in Louisiana since his childhood. But then, gradually at ﬁrst, the number of hip harpsters subsided. One was Billy Lee Riley, who failed to appear on album for many years after. Mouth organ aﬁcionado Dylan was one of those wondering where he was. Searching around, he found Billy Lee in Newport, Arkansas and immediately asked him to open a show for him in Little Rock. That day in 1992 they stood alongside each other, Dylan smiling and hailing Riley as “my hero.” “He knew more about me than I did,” claimed Riley, as Dylan recalled Billy Lee covering his songs on his ’60s albums. Dylan called him “a hard act to follow.” There was something of a late ﬂourish to Billy Lee Riley’s career, and he was nominated for a Grammy for his blues album Hot Damn!! in 1997, before he said his ﬁnal goodbye in 2009. Dylan still remembered him, of course. When accepting his award as Person Of The Year from the MusiCares charity in 2015, he said he, “never got tired of watching Billy Lee perform… We spent time together just talking and playing into the night. He was a deep, truthful man. He wasn’t bitter or nostalgic. He just accepted it. He knew where he had come from and he was content with who he was.” Fred Dellar
AD ARCHIVE 1966
KEEF STARTS ‘ER UP
not yet passing his driving 1test,Despite Keith Richards
(above) takes delivery of a dark blue Bentley Continental.
BBC launch a TV show, A 5WholeThenewScene Going. On
it The Who’s Pete Townshend opines, “There are certain levels of perception that are opened up by taking drugs, but the best way to play on-stage is stone cold sober.”
The US, the final of music 8showInedition Shindig! is
broadcast on ABC-TV, with The Kinks’ I Gotta Move and The Who’s I Can’t Explain included.
BOWIE BUSTS OUT
Pye release Can’t Help Thinking 14 About Me/And I Say To
Myself by David Bowie And The Lower Third. Bowie has recently changed his surname from Jones to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.
TOPTEN TOP TEN SINGLES IN BOSTON JANUARY 29
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ THE MAMAS AND THE 1PAPA PAPAS S DUNHILL
They met when Boyd played a schoolgirl in the film A Hard Day’s Night.
The Sanremo Song Festival on 22 the Italian Riviera ends. Acts like Gene Pitney, Chad & Jeremy, Pat Boone, PJ Proby, The Yardbirds, Les Surfs, The Renegades and Françoise Hardy take part, but Dio, Come Ti Amo by Gigliola Cinquetti wins.
Eric Burdon of The Animals stands in for Paul Jones as lead singer with Manfred Mann at a London Marquee gig. Jones is convalescing after a car accident earlier in the month.
Nashville’s Chart label signs Lynn Anderson, C&W songwriter Liz Anderson’s 17-year-old daughter.
STRIKES LOU CHRISTIE 2 LIGHTNING ANN THE BEACH BOYS 3 BARBARA WELL RESPECTED THE KINKS 4 AMAN THROUGH ANY WINDOW THE HOLLIES 5 LOOK MGM
26 Alamy (3), Getty Images (5), Bonhams
Bill Graham helps Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters stage a three day Trips Festi Kesey describes the event, held at San Francisco’s Longshoremen’s Hall, as “the graduation from the acid tests”. Over a thousand people are turned away each night at the sold-out event, which will, on various nights, feature Grateful Dead, Big Brother And The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans, The Great Society, The Loading Zone and The Marbles.
George Harrison 21 marries Patti Boyd.
So, how does this fit in with theories of Paul’s ‘double’ or the ‘fake moustache’ when you play Sgt. Pepper backwards?
SF KEEPS ON TRIPPING
SPECTOR MAKES CHANGES
It’s reported that JANUARY 29 Phil Spector has written Things Are Changing, a promotional song for the Plans For Progress campaign. Several artists are said to have recorded the song, including The Supremes and Jay & The Americans. The only payment Spector receives for his songwriting effort is a letter from Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. The campaign’s aim is to convince minority groups that many jobs are open to them.
TEARS GO BY THE ROLLING STONES 6 AS THE KNICKERBOCKERS 7 LIES MY LIFE THE ANIM 8 IT’S CHAR 9 CRYI
AM TO 10 AVOID
HERMAN HERMIT MGM
The Mamas And The Papas: sunstruck.
L A I C E P S IAL TR R! E F F O
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A CRACK IN THE COSMOS
Russell 1942-2016 Leon died in Mt Juliet,
Tennessee on November 13. Michael Simmons looks back on the life of the Master Of Space And Time.
laude Russell Bridges, aka Leon Russell, landed in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1942, where an inept delivery-room doctor saddled him with a slightly paralysed right side. While he walked with a distinct limp, he used the inﬁrmity to his own advantage. Classical piano lessons at the age of four grounded his impeccable technique, church rooted him in gospel (although he preferred the Holy Spirit sounds of black Pentecostalism to his family’s “military” Methodism) and he attacked the ivories with the abandon of his hero, Jerry Lee Lewis. But it was his handicap that was crucial to his utter singularity on the keys, forcing him to compensate by developing the strongest left hand in rock’n’roll that often leapt over his weaker right to pound the higher notes. “If I’d been perfectly healthy,” he told me for a MOJO proﬁle in 2010, “I’d probably be selling insurance now.” By 14 he was playing Oklahoma nightclubs, by 16 his group The Starlighters became Jerry Lee’s backup band and by 17 he was gigging and doing session work in LA. Underage according to California law, he became Leon Russell by fusing a fake ID and his middle name. His ascendance as a ﬁrst-call studio musician was astounding. As a member of session aces The Wrecking Crew (a handle he loathed), he played behind everyone from The Beach Boys and The Byrds to Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke. Those are his piano teardrops on Newton’s Danke Schoen – make a Steinway cry. He g arranging, made the Top 1 songwriter for Gary Lewis Playboys and was a featur er on TV pop show Shindig piercing eyes, salt-and-pe and – as one girlfriend des – “sexually spooky” aura established the naturally shy guy as a charismatic presence. In 1964 he built Skyhill in LA, the ﬁrst of several home studios, a clubhouse for Okie expats like J.J. Cale and Jim Keltner and where he produced two Southern-fried/ Sgt.-Peppered albums
Songs for you: Leon Russell onstage at Wadena, Minnesota, circa 1970; (below, from left) Leon in 1978; Concert For Bangladesh poster; in Gold Star studios, Los Angeles, with fellow Wrecking Crew keysmen (from left) Don Randi, Russell and Al DeLory.
“’I’LL BRING THE HIPPIES, YOU BRING THE REDNECKS,’ HE TOLD WILLIE NELSON”
4th Of July Picnic. “I’ll bring the hippies, you bring the rednecks,” Russell told Nelson, thus bridging a huge American cultural chasm – something we might learn from in 2017. It was with Willie that Leon would have his last hit album for three decades: 1979’s One For The Road. Between 1975 and 2010, Russell got by Asylum Choir, a collaboration twixt married, divorced and re-married. he and Marc Benno. In addition, he worked with Joe Cocker (who had a hit He’d moved back to Tulsa in ’71, later back to LA, then to Nashville. Shelter with Russell’s Delta Lady), Delaney & Records fell apart and so did Leon. One Bonnie, Eric Clapton and others. In night in the early ’80s, Leon went to 1970 he released Leon Russell,l his ﬁrst bed and – burned-out, depressed – solo album on his own label – Shelter stayed there for two years. Then in Records. It featured Beatles and 1984, the road warrior put on what he Stones songs and his composition A called his “Leon Russell costume” and Song For You – one of the great love hit the highway, playing hundreds of songs, covered by Ray Charles, Donny dates a year. His hardcore fans – Leon Hathaway and Amy Winehouse. The album established the template for his Lifers – remained true, but younger folks had never heard of him. “Then most beloved solo work – total-energy secular gospel led by his cat-scratch Elton called,” he told MOJO, “and said, ‘I wanna ﬁx that for you.’” With T Bone vocals and phenomenal piano. Along Burnett producing, Leon and longtime with The Band and Gram Parsons, fan Elton John released 2010’s The Leon was a foredaddy of Americana. Union – a critical and commercial He followed up with two more triumph. 2014’s solo Life Journey classics: Leon Russell And The Shelter followed, as did 2015’s ﬁlm A Poem Is A People and Carney. y Also in 1970, he’d Naked Person, Les Blank’s 1974 organised the Mad Dogs And documentary on Leon that had Englishmen tour for Joe Cocker – a languished unreleased for murky blend of the rhythm & blues shows of reasons. His re-emergence as an Amerhis youth with a hippy commune vibe. ican icon was solid, sadly his health Strutting top-hatted across the stage, wasn’t. While recovering from heart peeling off stinging blues licks from a surgery, he died in his sleep on Gibson Les Paul, he was dubbed The November 13, 2016. Master Of Space And Time. Next came At Russell’s Tulsa memorial on The Concert For Bangladesh with November 20, friend Steve Ripley George Harrison and Bob Dylan and quoted the composer of A producer duties for Dylan’s Song For You, Delta Lady, Watching The River Flow This Masquerade and single (Russell created Superstar: “If you write a pre-recorded musical beds song for one person, it’s for the Dylan sessions and more likely that 10,000 Bob wrote the lyrics and people will relate to it melodies in the studio). By than if you try to write a 1973, Billboard magazine song for 10,000 people.” named Leon the top THE LEGACY Ripley went on to concert draw of the year. Album: Leon Russell And compare his pal to Elvis, The Shelter People That same year, Leon (SHELTER, 1971) The Beatles and Dylan. became Hank Wilson, The Sound: Whether “Leon was one of those recording country classics longing for his Okie crack-in-the-cosmos with Nashville cats and home, paying tribute to guys,” he noted. “They releasing the pseudonyLittle Richard or Mad Dogs, questioning his can’t explain their thing. mous Hank Wilson’s Back. existential fate or He was MC at Willie The rest of us just work reimagining Dylan and 4 for a living.” George Harrison songs, this 1971 set ﬁnds Leon at his best – a visit to church with Pastor Russell howling from the pulpit.
DON’T FORGET TO SMILE Satirical jazz and blues bard Mose Allison left us on November 11.
hen Mose Allison talked to MOJO in December 2009, around the time of his farewell album The Way Of The World, d he happened to recall a course he took at Louisiana State University back in the early ’50s. “It was about aesthetics, what was art and what wasn’t art,” he told interviewer Jim Allen. “I remember thinking, Well, those blues things that I’ve been listening to on the jukebox and singing, they’re art!” That recognition of the genius of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and – his particular favourite – Nat King Cole was knowledge Allison kept with him in a career spanning six decades. Born on his grandfather’s farm near the village of Tippo in the Mississippi Delta, he could play jukebox blues and boogie woogie tunes by ear from the age of ﬁve. Playing trumpet and piano in high school – at 13 he wrote a parodic song called The 14 Day Palmolive Plan – was followed by a stint in the army, leading his own jazz trio and working in dance bands. By 1957 he was based in New York, playing with saxmen Stan Getz, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, among others. 38 MOJO
Country Suite revealing his subtle combination of bebop and country blues, and the controlled attack in his deft and swinging playing. He also unveiled his laconic, hip singing voice, and a particular kind of satiric insight, on a trenchant 90-second sketch entitled Blues. With its barbed declaration, “Nowadays the old man got all the money and the young man ain’t nothing,” the song would be furiously interpreted by The Who as Young Man Blues on their Live At Leeds album in 1970. Allison’s second album, 1958’s Local Color,r would feature Parchman Farm, which in time would be covered by Georgie Fame, John Mayall and Bobbie Gentry. Recording regularly g y for Prestige, g , Columbia and Atlantic into the early ’70s, he recorded blues and jazz, sophisticated pop from Broadway and sharp-witted originals such as Your Molecular Structure (played live by Elvis Costello) and the mordant Look Here. The latter was covered by The Clash on their 1980 LP Sandinista!! His output on record slowed in the ’70s, but his rapier-like observations lost none of their piquancy, as 1971’s Western Man anatomised uncomfortable American realities and
Allison, Those blues things on the jukebox, they’re art!”
“MOSE WAS A BRILLIANT MUSICIAN… HE WAS A PHILOSOPHER.” Van Morrison
considered faux non-conformism. The prescient put-downs of 1976’s Your Mind Is On Vacation, meanwhile, held sentiments destined never to age. In his sixties, he still toured and recorded for Elektra, Verve and Blue Note. On 1996’s Tell Me Something: The Songs Of Mose Allison songs from the canon were re-recorded in a day with the help of superfans Van Morrison and Fame and there were Grammy nominations for the two volumes of The Mose Chronicles: Live In London (2001 and 2002), recorded during his regular visits to the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho. Produced by Joe Henry, The Wayy Of The World d closed with Allison duetting with singer-daughter Amy on Buddy Johnson’s 1952 song This New Situation. Mose retired from live work in 2012, and was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for The Arts at in 2013. Hearing of his death, Van Morrison said, “Mose was a brilliant musician, but he was more than that: he was a philosopher. I followed him all of my life, and I was devoted to his music.” Ian Harrison
Album: I Don’t Worry About A Thing (ATLANTIC, 1962) The Sound: As the comically gloomy title track has it, “I don’t worry about a thing, ’cos I know nothing’s going to be alright.” Cool and swinging, and including the original version of Your Mind Is On Vacation, this is 33 no-fat minutes of popular music for grown-ups, full of mordant humours and musical surprises. Beware, though, if you start you’ll have to keep on listening.
Giving the people what they want: Sharon Jones, soul dynamo.
DAPTONE SOUL DIVA BORN 1956 The ﬁrst worldwide star of Daptone, Brooklyn’s soul regenerators, Sharon Jones was a Georgia-born vocal powerhouse who came late to fame but embodied the R&B/gospel traditions of energetic performance and emotionally committed singing. Moving to New York in 1970, she sang sessions and at weddings until 1996 when she sang back-up on a Desco Records date for soul man Lee Fields, improvising a prison rap on Switchblade using her ‘day job’ experience as a guard at Rikers Island (she was also a security guard for Wells Fargo). However, Desco folded and bassist/producer Gabriel Roth put together The Dap-Kings, house band for his new Daptone label, with Sharon as its focal point on a series of tight R&B/ funk albums from 2002’s Dap Dippin’’ to 2010’s breakthrough I Learned The Hard Way. y Her vibrant, fantastically energetic live shows, conjuring the energy of Tina Turner and James Brown, cemented her soul status. But shortly before 2013 LP Give The People What They Want was due to be released, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Recovering, she toured with energy little diminished. Sadly, the cancer returned; she died on November 18. Geoff Brown
DAVID MANCUSO DA DISCO TRAILBLAZER
Getty Images (4)
BORN 1944 Already aware of the power of the well-curated DJ set in the middle ’60s, Timothy Leary admirer David Mancuso saw the future when he held an invite-only, non-proﬁt party dubbed Love Saves The Day at his Manhattan home on Valentine’s Day, 1970. By 1972 the space that would be known as The Loft was in new premises, and Mancuso was hosting regular all-night events whose utopian principle was inclusion – he was all about the social progress, he said – playing eclectic choices to dancers including Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, François Kevorkian and Nicky Siano, who would go onto DJ the message across New York and beyond at clubs such as The Paradise Garage and The Gallery. He also co-founded DJ resource the New York Record Pool, and famously eschewed mixing in favour of playing entire tracks on a top-ﬂight sound system. As dance music grew internationally in the following decades, Mancuso never stopped throwing parties, and held his last on October 9. Ian Harrison
MUSIC NUT BILLY MILLER (b.1954, above) co-founded Norton Records, the rock’n’roll/ garage/R&B reissue label supreme, with his wife Miriam Linna in 1986. They released archival treasures by the likes of Link Wray, The Sonics, Esquerita and more, an invaluable curatorial role in the pre-’net days. They had also published th Kicks, and played rockers The A-Bo The Zantees. M produced LPs for Weiss, Andre W and Hasil Adkin GUITARIST MAR STONE (b.1946 with The Action Baby Stone’s M The Pink Fairies Willi And The R Hot Peppers, th Savoy Brown B Band, The 101’e Wreckless Eric a Marianne Faith He was also short to replace Brian J in The Rolling S In later life a lege the book-dealing he moved to Pari he released the L Homewreckers alb with Laurence Barma in 1996.
DRUMMER CRAIG GILL (b.1971) co-founded Oldham band the Inspiral Carpets in 1983: coming to notice in ‘Madchester’ and via eye-catching ‘Cool As Fuck’ T-shirts - the group scored 10 Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums from 1990-94, and for a time employed Noel Gallagher as their guitar tech. They split in 1995, but resumed touring in 2003, and released a self-titled ﬁfth album in 2014. In 2005 Gill founded Manchester Music Tours, and hosted trips to sites of interest for fans of Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses and more. JOURNALIST DON WALLER (b.1951), a prodigious scribe, wrote
Rock And Roll Waltzer Kay Starr.
for MOJO, Billboard, LA Weekly, LA Times, USA Today and Variety among countless others (writes Michael Simmons). He was co-founder of fanzine Back Door Man and his notes graced a multitude of box sets. The lead singer of proto-punkers The Imperial Dogs, their This Ain’t The Summer Of Love was covered by Blue Öyster Cult. Brilliant, loquacious and dapper, he was also an accomplished gourmet chef. OKLAHOMA-born jazz, pop and country singer KAY STARR (b.1922) sang with Glenn Miller and Charlie Barnet in the war years, and enjoyed US hits in the late ’40s and ’50s including Bonaparte’s Retreat Wheel Of Fortune, d Roll Waltz tmas tune Waitin’ For) h The Bag. rt heyday, she nternationally, with Count oone and ett. She sang eighties, and y described iday as “the oman who blues.” NGWRITER ANKS west London otesters The hers, who oke through Country of The d A Stranger me Ground, early 1985. wo albums the broke up: nks continued
to gig and record, and in 2005 began a mission to persuade songwriters such as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello to cover his songs on a tribute album. The ﬁlm Tribute This! and the book A Far Cry From Sunset followed. FREDDIE MERCURY’S mother JER BULSARA (b.1922) died on November 13, shortly before what would have been her famous son’s 70th. Brian May wrote, “Jer was always a keen follower of our progress as a band, and always came to see us when we played nearby, always with huge enthusiasm… in latter years Jer was always ready with a cup of tea when we visited, and we were always able to speak about ‘My Freddie’ without shyness, feeling that he was not far away.” Jer had a ‘Freddie room’ in her Nottingham home, and told the Telegraph in 2012, “it reassures me that he is still loved by people all over the world, but of course, none of them love him as much as his mother.” CANADIAN guitarist/bassist DOUG EDWARDS (b.1946) was a session musician for harmonisers The 5th Dimension before joining Skylark. He co-wrote their Canadian/ US hit Wildﬂower in 1973 a cover of which by Hank Crawford was sampled by Kanye West, Eminem, Tupac and Drake. He later did sessions and played bass for Vancouver rockers Chilliwack. Clive Prior
THE MOJO INTERVIEW
How The Boss’s bro-in-chief saved Paul Simon’s ass, animated The Sopranos’ Silvio Dante and still refuses to enter “that Hall of Fame of Assholes”. “It’s not about ‘me me me’,” insists Steve Van Zandt. Interview by KEITH CAMERON t Portrait by TOM SHEEHAN
ROM THE WINDOW OF HIS CENTRAL The Asbury Jukes are under-appreciated, while none of the ﬁve Van Zandt points to the London hotel, Steve V albums he made as Little Steven remains in print. T To the mass building across the street, where a small plaque public he’s best known for his acting career, thanks to a gleeful commemorates the former home of NEMS: portrayal of New Jersey mob enforcer Silvio Dante in The from 1963-64, the workplace of Brian Epstein. Sopranos. Now, w at 66, Van Zandt, ﬁnally with a manager, plans to “I actually tried to rent it as an ofﬁce once,” reissue his solo records, and is preparing a new one. There is, he’s Van Zandt says. “Thinking maybe I could pick V saying, more to Little Steven than the eternal consigliere, be it to Bruce Springsteen or Tony Soprano. up some good manager vibes. Haha!” “I just feel it’s time to come back. There are other things that Van Zandt’s mind this Management is at the forefront of Steve V I’ve done that are quite substantial.” late October morning as he sits down with MOJ O O over coffee. In His bond with Springsteen, however,r such an archetypal almost 50 years as a working musician, songwriter, producer and, embodiment of rock’s fraternal promise, will always deﬁne him. latterly, actor, the E Street Band guitarist has survived without a The pair met as teenagers at a Hullabaloo Club in V Van Zandt’s manager – until now. “I was never keen on being a businessman,” he says, disdainfully. hometown of Middletown, New Jersey,y a middle-class suburb 20 This much we could have guessed, given his occasionally testy miles nearer New YYork City than Springsteen’s grittier Freehold. relationships with Mike Appel and Jon Guitarists in their respective bands, each Landau, the successive representatives of V Van recognised a fellow music obsessive who WE’RE NOTWORTHY Zandt’s longtime friend and bandmate Bruce offered something the other lacked. “We SVZ: Rock Mechanic, by Springsteen. The same impulsive streak which formed a mutual appreciation society of two,” contributed to his departure from the E Street wrote Springsteen in his autobiographyy “With E Street’s Max Weinberg. Band in 1984 undoubtedly drove his subseSteve and me, from the beginning, it was heart “The great Bruce and Steve collaboration was Born To quent political activism, producing arguably to heart and soul to soul.” Run. Bruce was bending a his greatest achievement: the 1985 anti-apartVan Zandt has read his friend’s bestseller, V guitar note, turning the heid anthem Sun Cityy But Van Zandt’s many and doesn’t dissent from this portrayal. chord into a minor chord. and varied musical endeavours have suffered “That’s the whole rock’n’roll thing, isn’t And he didn’t want that. But Steve said, ‘That’s for recognition: his three ’70s albums with it?” he smiles. “Inventing our own world, great!’ Changed the entire tenor of the New Jersey barbusters Southside Johnny & controlling our own destiny,y ultimately, song. Steve’s a great mechanic. He knows
instinctively what makes rock’n’roll work.”
with this incredible work ethic, which is one thing that me and Bruce both share.” You’re in London for a show as Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul, a mere 27 years since the last time. What took you so long? I just walked away from my career. It was short-sighted of me. I’m getting back to where I left off, connecting with my ﬁrst album again [Men Without Women, 1982], and the Jukes stuff – that soul-meets-rock-music thing that I helped create. Every one of the solo albums was very conceptual and completely different, which I never would have allowed if I was producing somebody else. It’s not a smart move to do that, if you wanna have a career. But I wasn’t thinking career. I was strictly thinking about the adventure of learning about myself in the world. It was all about international liberation politics, and ﬁnding out who was pulling the strings, how life works, who am I… All those questions. Where did your soul-rock fusion come from? By the early ’70s, I felt we’d kinda missed it. Rock was kinda over. Things had stopped evolving. And I’m looking around for something original to be. [Promoter] Richard Nader had the oldies circuit starting, and you started to reﬂect on where things were coming from. You start going back: blues, soul, and R&B. We went and saw Sam & Dave – me, Southside, Bruce, a few others, in some weird little club in Jersey, must have been ’73, ’74. That was my second epiphany. So me and Southside were gonna be Sam & Dave, but with rock guitars. So that’s where we went. And I found I was good at it, and really liked it. What was your ﬁrst epiphany? Up until the British invasion, I was just a kid. I bought a few singles. Duke Of Earl, Palisades Park, Pretty Little Angel Eyes… Didn’t relate the artist to the single that much. I didn’t need
to see them or know who they were. Then, February 9, 1964: there was a variety show everybody in the country watched – a bit like your Sunday Night At The Palladium. Our whole family would watch it together on a little black and white TV. They had something for the older people, opera, and then something for the teenagers. And that night something for the teenagers was The Beatles. It changed my world and I think most of the world. We discovered The Beatles halfway through their career, so they were already way too sophisticated to actuallyy relate to. So, in June, The Rolling Stones come and they made it accessible. Being the Stones seemed possible. Then suddenly The Kinks and The Yardbirds and The Who and The Animals, The Hollies… it was one great thing after the other. What about this music did you relate to? The fact that it was bands. It never had been before. There had been no such thing as a band in America. Other than The Crickets, brieﬂy, which Buddy Holly emerged from rather quickly, but basically it was all individuals. Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley… There was doo wop groups, surf groups, girl groups, but not a band where they sang and played and eventually wrote their own songs. This was a whole new communication coming at us. It completely appealed to me, where the individual pop stuff didn’t. I wasn’t an Elvis Presley fan. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a group until I saw The Beatles. All of a sudden it’s not about ‘me me me’, it was the posse – the friendship, family, ultimately communicating community. Was “community” something you lacked at that formative time in life? My mother divorced when I was young, but I grew up in my Italian grandmother’s house. I was their ﬁrst grandchild, so I did not have any lack of love, believe me! Quite the contrary. So it wasn’t something I was missing, but maybe
it was something about that family thing I grew up with that I wanted to emulate. The lacking leads one to want to be a star, want to be a celebrity, want to be the frontman. There’s a hole to be ﬁlled… Yeah, I think that is absolutely true. You have to need that spotlight to want to be in it. I never have. I learned how to be a frontman, and actually I got quite good at it. But it was never my inclination. By the early ’70s, both you and Springsteen have been hustling on the Asbury Park scene for years, in and out of bands together. Some of the names suggest artistic confusion: Dr Zoom And The Sonic Boom; Steel Mill; Funky, Dusty And The Soul Broom… Were you Funky or Dusty? (Laughs) I don’t know, we were just always making up these stupid names! We had the Sundance Blues Band, Southside Johnny & The Kid was a country blues thing, me and Southside, and then Davey Sancious joined that group for about a minute, right before Bruce got his record deal and then Davey went to Bruce. We did this stuff before we got into the music business. You took jobs working on road construction before backing ’60s groups like The Dovells on the oldies circuit. By 1975, the Jukes are ﬁnally picking up steam – and then Springsteen hires you just as Born To Run is completed. It was temporary at ﬁrst. Bruce had seven shows booked. And his career was over. These were the last seven shows of his career (laughs). I’d ended up doing all the business for the Jukes. I was managing them. And I hated it. So when Bruce says, “C’mon, let’s get out of town and play, I wanna put the guitar down for a minute,” I was like, “Yeah…” I was gonna go for seven gigs – and I stayed for seven years. ’Cos one of the gigs was The Bottom Line [in
A LIFE IN PICTURES
Scenes of Steven: from Bruce to Bada Bing.
Steven in his senior year at Middletown Township High School, NJ, 1968.
My hometown: 14-yearold Van Zandt (far right) with Middletown band The Mates, July 1965.
Men without women: as Little Steven on tour with the Disciples Of Soul, San Bernadino, CA, 1983.
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Getty Images (5), Rex, Photoshot
LP by Artists Against Apartheid, with Herbie Hancock (centre).
Back on E Street: reunited on-stage with The Boss, San Siro Stadium, Milan, June 2012. “In the end it’s the job… the work ethic is foremost in your mind.”
“I felt I needed to educate myself. I was completely ignorant about history, politics, life…” Little Steven grows up.
Tramps like us: with Bruce Springsteen (left) on the Born To Run tour in the mid-’70s.
This time it’s for real: on-stage with Southside Johnny, New Jersey, 1977.
“Look, this thing of ours”: in character as Silvio Dante, with James Gandolﬁni (Tony Soprano back left), Michael Imperioli (front right), and Tony Sirico.
“Ain’t gonna play Sun City”: commended by Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley for his 1985
broke the thing wide open. I joined the E Street Band and then the Jukes got their record deal at the same time. So I was doing both bands, balancing both. Was that tricky? A bit, yeah. I wasn’t playing in the Jukes any more, I got a guitar player to replace me. So I was just producing, writing the albums and arranging the albums and booking the shows. But the E Street Band weren’t that busy yet. We were still struggling. People think Born To Run was a hit – it wasn’t. And then Bruce got into a lawsuit, and there’s all kinds of problems during Darkness On The Edge Of Town. So we weren’t really able to work until our ﬁrst hit, which was on the ﬁfth album, The River,r with Hungry Heart. At that point we started working really quite regularly, and I stopped working with the Jukes.
I can get into a restaurant without reservations – that’s nice too! I’m not gonna lie to you, there’s some perks! Half the time the cops know you and don’t give you a ticket, so that’s all right, I can deal with that. But the rest, I can live without it, man. You left the E Street Band just prior to Born In The USA, the album that made Bruce a megastar… A brilliant move. There’s a few of us in that Hall of Fame of Assholes: me, Mick Taylor… I had completely lived in a tunnel vision, wanting to
started to go a little bit sideways. We’d always been very close, I really was a consigliere in that sense, and he kinda stopped listening to me for a minute. I thought, “To preserve the friendship it’s time to leave.” So I left. I started reading books about US foreign policy since World War Two and suddenly realised we weren’t these heroes of democracy I thought we were. I felt somebody needs to talk about this and nobody really was. Sun City by Artists United Against Apartheid featured a remarkable cast – and remarkably, it worked. I wasn’t a big enough celebrity to pull that off. It was pulled off strictly by willpower. I ﬁgured I need to politicise my big star friends, and then maybe we’ll get something done. That’s what happened. I’m very proud of that. We caught the bad guys so much by surprise they couldn’t defend themselves. We took down a government. We got Mandela out of jail. Just in time – I found out all kinds of things about that, by the way, from my ANC friends. There needs to be a real Mandela movie. They were feeding him drugs, to destroy his brain. Fascinating stuff.
“I love Paul Simon, most of the time, but he violated the South Africa boycott, for publicity.” y
In his autobiography, Bruce wonders why you didn’t just perform the songs you wrote for the Jukes yourself. I liked being behind the scenes. And then you ﬁnd out, there is no in-between in this world. Oh, I get it now! You’re either the star or you’re not! I discovered this way too late. I’m really quite stupid (laughs). I remember I had two hit singles off one of my solo albums, in Italy. And my wife comes over. Y’know, Rome is one of the very few towns she loves other than London, and we were just gonna go shopping, whatever, walking down the street… Couldn’t walk down the street. I’m attacked d by hundreds of kids. Now, how you react to that is up to you. Some people are like, “Oh what a thrill…” I was horriﬁed d by this! ( Laughs) I was like, “This is what it feels like to be a star?! I don’t fucking like it!” People saying “hello” when you walk down the street? I’m ﬁne with that. It’s nice.
try and make it as a rock’n’roll guy. Suddenly we did it – The Riverr broke through. We had a hit. We sold three million albums, which I thought was the most albums you could ever sell. We were selling out arenas. So after 15 years of hard work, I’m making a living – what do I do? I quit. (Laughs) Why? It’s complicated. Basically, I felt I needed to educate myself. I was completely ignorant about history, about politics, about life in general. So I become obsessed with politics. At the same time, we have a falling out. We’ve only had three real arguments in our lives, me and Bruce, and it was one of them. Things
You went to Soweto for research – wasn’t that technically breaking the cultural boycott? Yes. Which the Azanian People’s Organisation reminded me with their fucking machetes as they were considering whether to kill me or not, in a private meeting in Soweto. They put me on trial that night and I talked my way out of it. But it was one of those things that you get engaged in slowly. I’m in a cab and a black guy stepped off the kerb a little bit – and the cab driver swerved to hit him. For sport: “Fucking kafﬁr.” I’m like, “Did I just see that?” Here was racism at its peak, right in front of you. I’m
join B I stay
like, “I can’t just write about this.” So I thought, “I’ll get a few artists together and get more attention to it than I would ever get putting it as a song on my Freedom – No Compromise album,” which is where it would have been. The ﬁrst voices you hear on the song are Run-D.M.C. – signiﬁcantly, because hip-hop was still off-limits as far as the mainstream media was concerned. No doubt about it. The ﬁrst line is “We’re rockers and rappers…” Russell Simmons said to me at the session: “Wow, great – but we’re thinking of changing the name of rap.” I’m like, “What?! People barely know what it is.” He says, “Nah, it’s just too limiting. We’re thinking of calling it ‘hip-hop’…” I said, “That’s the stupidest fucking name I ever heard! What’s wrong with ‘rap’?!” Shows you what I knew… Anyway! Gil Scott-Heron was the most
important guy – we got him. Miles Davis, it was very important to get him. Did they require much persuasion? I had to explain to a few people what was going on. I remember explaining it to Lou Reed and to Joey Ramone, who were not really political people at that moment but they became political people after that. Then again, I had to explain it to the fucking Senate. I was showing the United States Senate where South Africa was on the fucking map! It wasn’t an issue at all in America. People trusted me, thank God. Even in South Africa they trusted me. I’m in Soweto trying to explain to people that are basically blowing up radio stations, they’re killing civilians, and I’m like, “You can’t fucking win doing this. I know how you can win. I’m gonna win this revolution on TV!” How did that go down?
Well, they didn’t have electricity in Soweto, never mind a fucking television. They’re looking at me, like “What?! OK, we’ll give you six months before we go back to blowing up radio stations.” Is it true that you persuaded AZAPO to take Paul Simon off an assassination list? Yeah. And I love Paul Simon, most of the time, but he intentionally violated the boycott, for publicity – which worked, frankly. He accused me, “How dare you support Mandela, he’s a communist! Look at where his money’s coming from…” I’m like, “Paul, go and make your fucking music and stay out of politics…” He says, “My art transcends politics.” I said, “Art doesn’t transcend politics, art is politics.” To this day he won’t admit he was wrong! Anyway, I didn’t want him to be a distraction. I had my eye on the ball. I think like a revolutionary, OK? I’m not a liberal, I’m not a nice guy.
“We had differences of opinion… and quite simply, my ears are just better.” Steve Van Zandt, London, November 2016.
narily important role to play, especially as a manager. But at a certain point the balance shifted a little bit. And I just felt I wasn’t getting quite as much attention. So yeah, some of that was certainly true. We had differences of opinion. Musical differences? Again, looking back now, I don’t see the musical differences as much as perhaps the methodology, the style of production. And very simply, my ears are just better. (Laughs) I’ve got really good ears. And they were necessary at the time. ’Cos I was hearing problems in the production style. Born To Run was magniﬁcent, but they got away with it. It was a bit mechanical for me. And then Darkness… was just a mess – some of his best work and it sounded terrible. So when it came time for The River, Bruce was like, “I want you to co-produce this,” and I came in, saying “OK, we’re gonna make this thing sound like a band. We’re gonna ﬁnally achieve that thing that we get live.” And we did. Because that’s just the
LITTLE STEVEN’SBIG THREE
The many faces of Van Zandt. By Keith Cameron. THE PRODUCER
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes Hearts Of Stone (EPIC, 1978)
The third album Van Zandt produced for blues brother Johnny Lyon was a shot of pure bar-band nobility, and the archetypal representation of the Jersey Shore sound. With Stax-worthy horn arrangements and a taut, gritty ensemble aesthetic, Van Zandt pens every song, aside from the mighty SVZ/ Southside/Springsteen co-write Trapped Again, plus the title track and Talk To Me, courtesy of Springsteen’s Darkness overﬂow.
Bruce Springsteen The River (CBS, 1980)
And I didn’t need the fucking distraction of some little fucking weasel talking about how (dreamy artist voice) “We’re gonna spread South African music around the world…” Fuck you and your South African fucking music, people are dying! It’s life and death. Every day that this thing goes on, another person dies, you understand?! This ain’t about fucking selling records. Let’s get this thing fucking done. And that’s what happened.
When you got Springsteen onto the Sun City record, you’d been out of the E Street Band for a couple of years. Clearly your fallingout was only temporary. Because I left the band, the friendship survived. Very quickly thereafter we became just as close. He went back to asking my advice, and listening. According to his autobiography, you had serious conversations when you left the band and then when you rejoined in the mid-’90s. He says he’d been “gently playing” you and Jon Landau off one another. Does that seem a fair assessment? It’s a little hard to imagine now, because I think me and Jon are good friends. And I always liked him and I always felt he had an extraordi-
He may have been frustrated by the “lost arguments” of the ﬁnal track selection (see the Outtakes disc on the Ties That Bind box set for what might have been), but Steve Van Zandt can take satisfaction from having co-produced arguably the greatest Bruce Springsteen album that is also a bona ﬁde E Street Band album. His later acting fame lends pathos to Two Hearts’ Bruce/SVZ duet: “Once I spent my time playing tough guy scenes.”
Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul Men Without Women (EMI AMERICA, 1982)
His solo debut saw Van Zandt battling personal demons. With three songs held back from the Jukes’ Hearts Of Stone, the ragged soul power is heightened on keynote track Save Me, which alludes both to his imminent political awakening (“I lived with things when I was younger I can’t swallow now”) and his rift with The Boss: “I’ve got to know if you are with me or against me now.”
way I think – I think like a band guy. Bruce partly does, and Jon partly does, but they also have that solo thing in their minds. I saw no difference between ‘Bruce Springsteen’ being the headline name and making a record that sounded like a band. I think they both had some, let’s say, relationship or responsibility to the solo aspect of it. Which I just never did. I’m just not interested in that. But it was fascinating to watch him evolve. He’s the greatest example for people to look at and realise that you’re not born with greatness. It’s not innate. Nobody’s born great. He fucking worked and worked and worked, and suddenly… OK, he got a little bit lucky, luckier than most, but then he opened the fucking dam. E Street Band live shows are legendary, both for their intensity and length. Never mind Bruce, how do you all do it? These things don’t happen overnight. You don’t go from doing a 90-minute show to four hours. You gradually get there. In the end, it’s the job. You’re doing a job. The work ethic is what’s foremost in your mind, in your actions. And you follow the leader. If Teddy Roosevelt’s going up that hill you better be close behind him (laughs). He’s very inspiring. And he pushes the envelope. I appreciate that. ’Cos I’d never do it in a million fucking years. No way. Not for fourr hours. That’s two of my shows. Any Bruce fans coming to my show might be disappointed, ’cos I say 90 minutes is just ﬁne! You’re physically limited by your mentality. He has inﬁnite mentality when it comes to the stage. He’s very comfortable there. I think it’s always been a bit of a sanctuary for him. What’s completelyy impossible is what Max Weinberg does. Bruce is crazy. But Max has twice the energy. Doing a drum solo in between every song, for 35 songs, over four hours – that’s just impossible. What was the motivation for starting your Underground Garage radio show in 2002? I put the radio on one day and I’m like, “What happened to music?!” I’m not hearing the great renaissance music. How are people going to aspire to greatness if they have no access to it? How did I become the only one playing the fucking Beatles?! So obviously there’s a necessity for this. My syndicated show is all over the world, I’m in a hundred countries. Just on BBC Radio 2 for the ﬁrst time the other day – hopefully it’s gonna be a regular thing here. Was acting a natural transition from performing on-stage? Not so much that, as much as being an autobiographical songwriter. I found that to be extremely useful. I had to come up with my own theory of acting (laughs), very quickly, once [Sopranos creator] David Chase asked me to be in the show. I turned him down at ﬁrst, I said, “I’m not an actor.” He said, “Yes you are, you just don’t know it yet.” My solo records were the same thing: digging very deep inside and really doing the research. That applied directly to acting in a contrary way. I wrote a lengthy biography about the character and went inside and found him. Will it be another 27 years before we see The Disciples Of Soul back in the UK? Bruce at this point seems more comfortable touring every other year, so if that continues I’m gonna come back and tour every other year. He’s not gonna tour for ’17, so I will. Being on-stage is so natural for me. The audience is part of the family at this point. I love the music and I love the band and I love the audience. It’s now ow – it’s here we are, in the same room, the same energy. Nothing is better than that, nothing’s more real. As long as you keep your roots there, you’re gonna be all right. M MOJO 45
“Nasty, harsh, dissonant, crude, feral, brutal, ugly, minimalist” : QRZDYH ZDV SXQN URFN·V HYHQ PRUH VRFLRSDWKLF sibling, feeding off funk and jazz and bankrupt 1HZ <RUN·V JURW DQG FKDRV WR YRPLW IRUWK music and performances of astonishing strangeness and violence. As prime
mover JAMES CHANCE returns to the fray, MOJO rounds up his ,” fellow heretics. “It had to be brutal they tell ANDREW MALE: “a short sharp stick in the eye.” Photography: JULIA GORTON
name came from Bradley Field, who’d been part of the Cleveland punk scene. I met him when he was setting ﬁre to a homeless person outside CBGB’s. I stamped that person out, and asked Bradley to join my band. He absolutely did not want to. He just wanted to drink himself into oblivion.” “Lydia had a brilliant idea of Bradley playing just snare and cymbal,” says Chance. “Which was all he could play anyway. He was scary. He’d get drunk, pick ﬁghts and get beaten up. And she had this bass player, Reck, who looked like a little Japanese Richard Hell.” EENAGE JESUS’ FIRST GIG was a CBGB audition on June 27, 1977. It was 10 minutes long. Too short by regular gig standards but a lifetime in the boxing ring of Field’s zombieslugged cymbal-snare and Reck’s gutpunch bass backing Lunch’s “hateful aggressive brat-rants” and razor-saw whirlpool of broken bottleneck slide. Chance skronked on sax, spiralling around as the rest stood terrifyingly still. “We were precise, tight, disciplined. It had to be brutal,” says Lunch. “A short sharp stick in the eye. James wanted to mingle. I wanted to put up a fucking wall.”
Culture bunker: the first Teenage Jesus And The Jerks line-up, circa 1977 (from left) Lydia Lunch, Reck, Bradley Field, James Chance.
Jim Sclavunos, then a ﬁlm student at New York Y University who ran a punk fanzine, No, to promote his band and get into gigs free, recalls his first T Teenage Jesus ce. “I’d imagined what punk be,” he says. “And Ramones and hard Hell were great, but never t extreme enough. Suicide came lose, but there still seemed to be step beyond. Then I saw Teenge Jesus: this nasty, harsh, issonant, crude, feral, brutal, gly, minimalist… thing. None of ose adjectives were something ever thought I wanted to hear. ere it was.” Surplus to requirements, Chance, a hild piano prodigy who’d spent three ears at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, irking instructors with Thelonious Monk and Cecil T Taylor abstractions, set about recruiting his own band. Pat Place, a 24-year-old visual arts student from Chicago, drawn to New YYork’s downtown chaos following the premature death of her older brother, still remembers the hiring process. “I was going to CBGB’s and Max’s every night,” says Place. “I felt life was short and I needed the urgency. James literally came up and said, ‘Uh, I was in T Teenage Jesus, but I’m starting my own band. I really like your hair. Do you play an instrument?’” Place was invited to rehearsals at a loft space on Delancey Street, an old vaudeville theatre where Lunch was now living with Sumner Crane. “I showed up with a borrowed bass and of course I couldn’t play,” says Place, laughing. “So James said, ‘Well why don’t you try guitar!?’ I’d seen Connie Burg and Lydia play slide so I said, I can do that.” Also in the Contortions mix was Adele Bertei, a Cleveland punk alumnus like Bradley Field who’d moved to New YYork following the death of her friend and collaborator, Pere Ubu founder Peter Laughner. “James said, ‘Sit in on drums’,” remembers Bertei. “‘Hey, you’ve got natural rhythm! Play the Acetone organ.’ He wanted me to play tone clusters. It was all about playing these odd syncopated polyrhythms off each other, very aggressively.” “Adele looked like this tough little female pimp,” says Chance. “Very swaggering. None of them could
courtesy Kristian Hoffman, Alamy, Dan Asher, Patty Hefﬂey
Desolation row: Mars at CBGB’s, 1978 (from left) Mark Cunningham, Nancy Arlen, Sumner Crane, Connie Burg; (left) bankrupt and broken, mid-’70s downtown New York.
Out of shape: The Contortions at Max’s Kansas City (from left) George Scott III, James Chance, Adele Bertei, James Nares, Pat Place, Chiko Hige.
really play the music I’d written, but they came up with their version of it.” The Contortions’ ﬁrst show was at Max’s Kansas City on December 4, 1977. By the middle of 1978, supplemented by Jack Ruby bassist George Scott III, Don Christensen and Jody Harris, drummer and guitarist from local neo-surf abstractionists Raybeats, they’d become formidable: brittle, amphetamine-wired polyrhythms, coloured by Place and Bertei’s atonal abstractions, all backing Chance’s outbursts of pained croon, skronk-jazz and physical violence. “They were unbelievable,” says future Lounge Lizard John Lurie, who’d moved to New York with his saxophone in 1974. “Jody Harris, George Scott and Donny Christensen were in the pocket, really nailing this James Brown stuff. And Pat Place was doing her Joan Of Arc thing, with this ascending, rising apocalypse guitar sound. Adele would be banging away on that organ, and James was almost like watching an autistic James Brown. Then he’d get into a ﬁght with people in the audience, and you’d have to go defend him. Then Anya Phillips came in, and they were just rude to everybody. It was already over, you know?” “I’d met Anya at this beneﬁt for X Magazine, in March 1978,” says Chance. “She’d gone there with her friend [art curator and scenester] Diego Cortez. Everybody was just sat on the ﬂoor. All these arty types. Real intellectual. Couldn’t stand them. I wanted to take them down a few pegs. I got mad and waded in. Then I got inspired, started slapping a few around.” Chance fought his way to the back of the room. Sitting in front of him was Phillips. A photographer, clothes designer, dominatrix at CBGB and exotic dancer at a burlesque club in Times Square, her father had been a general under Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. She was also the formidable ace face on the punk scene, and the co-founder, with Cortez, of The Molotov Cocktail Lounge, soon to be renamed The Mudd Club. “I thought, Ooh, shall I attack Anya?” remembers Chance. “But, no, discretion is the better part of valour. She came up after the show. We ended up hanging out. A little later she decided she wanted to manage the Contortions. She’d been in Germany, was impressed by the Baader-Meinhof thing, and said she had a choice between becoming a terrorist or a capitalist. So she decided to manage the Contortions and do both.”
“NO WAVE WASN’T A ST YLE. IT’S AN ATTITUDE OR AN APPLICATION BASED ON INSANITY AND EXTREME DISSIDENCE.”
LYDIA LUNCH “Anya was my girlfriend before she met James,” says Adele Bertei, “and she was adorable. A beautiful young girl who arrived with her eyes wide open, ready for everything. But with James it became this strange power couple. They were very much in love, and it inﬂuenced the dynamic of the and greatly.” S WELL AS INTRODUCING JAMES CHANCE to Anya Phillips, the X magazine beneﬁt highlighted the tensions between the more visceral East Village ands like Mars, Teenage Jesus and Contortions, nd the “arty types” around The Kitchen art cenre, in SoHo. Very much at the art end was 25-year-old New Yorker Rhys Chatham. A former piano tuner for Glenn Gould, who’d studied under La Monte Young and founded The Kitchen’s experimental music programme in 1971 while still a teenager, Chatham’s ﬁrst ever rock gig was the Ramones, at CBGB in May 1976. “It was far more complex than what I was dong,” he says, laughing. “They were working with three chords. I was working with one. But I felt an afﬁnity. The next day I got a Fender Telecaster.” After playing out with London art students Nina Canal and Robert Appleton in The Gynecologists, Chatham started messing with guitar harmonics. With the encouragement of Canal, and the help of guitarist Glenn Branca of SoHo art-noise quartet Theoretical Girls, Chatham unveiled his Guitar Trio at Max’s Kansas City in 1978. “I was scared,” says Chatham. “This secret agent in a foreign country. ‘SoHo Person!’ I thought I’d get lynched because we were going to play one E chord, for 20 minutes! Then do it again! But we turned the ampliﬁer up to 11, and, because of the overtones, people were asking the sound person, ‘Where are you hiding the singers?’ When I heard that, I felt good. They loved it.” Somewhere in the middle of this SoHo/East Village divide was Arto Lindsay’s DNA. Formed in 1978, and consciously intended as the dyspeptic doinky antithesis to Mars’ relentless post-Velvets glossolalia, DNA purposefully shunned the SoHo art-spaces yet approached their music very much as art project.
Genetic engineers: DNA (from left) Ikue Mori, Arto Lindsay, Robin Crutchfield; (right) DNA Mk II at CBGB’s, with Tim Wright (bass) replacing Crutchfield.
Julia Gorton (2), Marcia Resnick, Stephanie Chernikowski (2)
“We appreciated rock’n’roll as theatre,” says Lindsay. “It was very self-conscious. I’d stand in the middle of the stage, shout in a bluesy vibe, then do a falsetto woman’s part, then step away and stare out the audience, acknowledging that the whole thing involved masks.” Central to DNA’s sonic and visual aesthetic was the ritualistic metronomic drumming of Ikue Mori, who’d arrived from Tokyo with her boyfriend Reck and, says Adele Bertei, is an integral part of the missing ‘her-story’ of no wave. “Women like Ikue, China Burg, Nina Canal of Ut, all had ways of playing that had never been heard before,” says Bertei. “When Brian Eno arrived in New York, he was very drawn to the scene because of the women. He found that exciting. In all senses of the word.” According to legend, Eno arrived in New York in April 1978 to produce Talking Heads’ second album, More Songs About Buildings And Food. He saw a number of downtown bands at Artists Space that May, recording four of them at Big Apple Studio a few weeks later, for an album to be called No New York. “I have to debunk that,” says Mark Cunningham. “We started recording late June. He’d have had to hear us, propose the album to Island, and get us all into the studio in one month. Does that sound possible? Eno ﬁrst saw us at CBGB’s Theatre in December ’77. Maybe he came and went, but he was there for tw Another stor y still up for debate is Call the cops! how the Eno project Boris gives went from whole evidence. scene sampler – one track per band – to a showcase for just the East Village acts: Mars, Teenage Jesus, Contortions and DNA contributing four tracks each. “Anya and I convinced him to do that,” insists Arto
Lindsay. “It would have been nice if Rhys or Glenn’s bands had been on there but it wasn’t about keeping SoHo bands off. It was more about doing better for ourselves.” No New York was released in November 1978. Compared to live recordings that have surfaced subsequently, Eno’s album barely does justice to the sonic extremities each band was capable of. But it provided a lasting studio document of a scene about to implode. The ﬁrst band to sense the ﬁnality was Mars. Following the release of No New York, Mars cut their ﬁnal four tracks, released as an EP in 1980. “That was the last time we played together,” says Cunningham. “We were aware of a deconstruction process, of going down to something primal and basic, until there was nowhere to go.” “The Eno album encouraged a hierarchical thing,” says Ut’s Nina Camp. “Mars were notably not interested, but Lydia didn’t say no. James didn’t say no. Anya deﬁnitely didn’t say no.” Following the recording of No New York, Lydia Lunch sacked her bassist, Gordon Stevenson, and recruited Jim Sclavunos, ﬁrst taking his virginity. “She announced that from the outset,” he says. Once in the band, Sclavunos and fellow No mag scribe Chris Nelson invited Lydia and James to move into their brownstone. “It turned into the hell-house,” says Sclavunos. “It was the apotheosis of our LSD intake. Heavy objects through glass windows. Animal House meets the Manson Family. Lydia set up this self-destruct thing: when she was no longer a teenager the band would cease to exist. She kicked Bradley out and recruited her boyfriend Johnny O’Kane. A very troubled man. [In 2012 O’Kane made headlines in San Pedro by shooting his girlfriend to death, calling the police, then turning the gun on himself.] He was far more interested
in smoking his cigarette th playing the drums.”
Annene Kaye, Edo Bertoglio
IMULTANEOUS TO TEENAGE JESUS’ COLLAPSE Lunch and Sclavunos formed Beirut Slump, the “slo torturous bloody drag [to] Teenage Jesus’ hate fuck exempliﬁed on the Bobby Berkowitz 7-inch from March 197 “Named af ter the Son Of Sam,” says Sclavunos. “Cultur despair permeated everything, and Son Of Sam was a crucib The nihilism wasn’t just coming from nowhere.” “We were living in this junkyard dystopia,” says Adele Bertei. “There was a fearlessness. Then, almost overnight, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without running into a heroin dealer. Things suddenly devolved. I walked away ” “Everything changed when we recorded [Buy], the ﬁrst Contortions album for Ze Records,” says Pat Place. “Money came into the picture. Heroin came into the picture. Anya wanted to make James the star, James went along with it. We all quit after this gig in Paris where they blew all the money, and didn’t pay the band.” “There’d been tensions before Anya joined,” admits Chance. “Yes, she was extremely uncompromising, but she knew what she was doing. They thought she had these dark designs on making the band commercial, but it wasn’t the music Anya wanted to change, it was the image. We bought everyone nice sharkskin jackets, but no one seemed interested.” “She was his girlfriend,” says Arto Lindsay. “And it’s easier to bitch about the girlfriend. But she pushed them. She had persuasive abilities. DNA certainly hoped we’d be a success, but we were naive about what that involved. Anya was more aware.” Chance assembled a new Contortions, with musicians from downtown’s jazz scene, including Lester Bowie’s brother Joseph. “Punks hated jazz,” says Chance. “The ﬁrst black faces in no wave were in my band. We became the top live draw in New York, Anya was going to manage The Mudd Club, but then she had a feud with the co-owner. Then our Ze relationship got destroyed because [label boss] Michael Zilkha hired someone who took a grudge against us. We started recording for Chris Stein’s label, then Anya got sick. Then Blondie broke up and Chrysalis dropped Chris’s label. I called my agent one day and there was no agent.” art of noise: Anya Phillips died of cancer in June of 1981. The (from top) nihilistic icon Son Of Sam; Rhys Chatham; Jim Sclavunos; No ’zine.
JAMES CHANC E WAS LIKE AN AUTISTIC JAME S BROWN. HE’D G ET INTO A FIG HT WITH THE AUDIENCE, ND YOU’D H AVE TO O DEFEND HIM.”
JOHN LUR IE
The Mudd Club, along with Danceteria, which had opened in 1979, transformed the downtown scene from war zone to party central, signalling, for many, the end of a cene born of a community in austerity. “At CBGB’s I once did a gig with eight eople and got paid ﬁve dollars,” says Rhys Chatham. “Danceteria said, ‘We’re making ll kinds of money, we should share it.’ Sudenly bands were making $1,000 a night.” “Danceteria were paying a lot,” says Pat ace. “Plus, heroin and cocaine were huge. veryone was partying, people were dying.” “There wasn’t any official end of no wave,” says Jim Sclavunos. “DNA NA and Contortions carried on, but changed their sound. The club scene changed, but not in a negative way – bigger venues, more diverse crowds. I didn’t see anything negative about it.” “It did end,” says Mark Cunningham, “and it was abrupt. 1980. Cocaine, heroin, money. It became more competitive, egotistical. The integrity reconstituted around Swans, Sonic Youth, the improv scene.” “I was never into heroin, so that saved me,” says Lydia Lunch. “I was ostracised for not being a unkie, but I still consider myself no wave. I don’t feel comfortable in any other term. No wave wasn’t a style. It’s an attitude, or an application. No wave was based on insanity and extreme dissidence, being outside of just about everything. I still consider myself no wave because it fits nowhere else.” M The Flesh Is Weak, by James Chance & The Contortions, is out on True Groove. Adele Bertei is writing a no wave memoir. MOJO 51
I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You plucked sublime soul from a near-catastrophic melee of violence and racial tension, and came to deﬁne the possibilities of a nascent genre. “We knew what we had created ” discovers , “that this would be the future...” Portrait by
THE EVENING OF JANUARY 1967, downtown Florence, ma. Rick Hall, the owner of ios in nearby Muscle Shoals, is the doorway of a motel room retha Franklin and her manager hite. A disagreement, to put it progress. calling me a redneck?” a fumlows at T Ted White. u sure look like one to me,” ack. “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” yells Hall with a shove. White retaliates with a punch to Hall’s jaw Hall returns the blow and suddenly the pair are rolling on the ﬂoor in a ﬂurry of ﬁsts. Earlier that day, Franklin had begun her ﬁrst recording session for Atlantic A Records in Hall’s studio under the supervision of the label’s go-getting vice president and producer Jerry Wexler. In front of The Swampers, the studio’s house band, she had delivered an emotional rendition of Ronnie Shannon’s ballad I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love YYou) destined to usher in a new soul era. The moment she’d stopped playing the piano and looked up, the musicians had gone wild. “There was much whooping, cheering, and slapping on the back,” says soft-spoken songwriter Spooner Oldham, who played electric piano on the track. “Everybody there knew it was a case of right place, right time for everyone involved and the Lord that day. There were tears in my eyes, in everyone’s eyes.”
HE ARETHA FRANKLIN WHO STEPPED OFF THE plane in Memphis that overcast January morning on her way to Fame had travelled far. Since making her solo singing debut with a stirring Jesus, Be A Fence Around Me in her father,r the Reverend C.L. Franklin’s New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit in 1952, aged just 10, she’d thrilled audiences on his gospel caravan tour up and down the country alongside The Soul Stirrers, Mahalia Jackson and The Caravans, then recorded her ﬁrst album, Songs Of Faith, live in her father’s church for JVB R Records, aged 14. William Prince, the lead singer of The Precisions, a Detroit doo wop quartet, remembers her New Bethel performances with reverence. “My father played organ in her father’s church,” he says, “and she’d stand up and do a song. It would be a spontaneous performance. She’d start singing and you could hear the inﬂuence of Mahalia Jackson. But she was really out there on her own. No one else had her range or delivery. She was so dynamic and everyone would be up on their feet.” Aretha was attracted to. Her father’s It wasn’t just the Lord’s songs A record collection was a rich source of jazz and blues and he was as likely to be holding court at the dinner table with pop stars like Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, Bobby Bland and Fats Domino as with gospel singers The Staple Singers and James Cleveland. For the Franklins, gospel and pop went hand in hand. When she followed her hero Cooke into the pop market she had her preacher father’s full support. “Both her and her father were looking for mainstream, meaning pop success,” Wexler noted. “For them, there was no contradiction between praying in church and hitting the pop chart and no doubts about how suitable a career in pop music was for her. Their model was
Y knew history was being made,” agrees Oldham’s songwrit“You ing partner Dan Penn, also present at the session. “Jerry Wexler said, ‘Let’s cut Do Right Woman, Do Rig R ht Man next’ which I’d written with Chips Moman for the occasion. The band worked it up a bit while I came up with some words for the bridge. By the time R Hall and T Ted White had come to blows and I’d ﬁnished them, Rick Aretha was on the plane back to New York.” Y And that’s how one of the most monumental r sessions in soul music lore came abruptly to an e “I was livid,” admitted Wexler W in 2006. “Ar tha’s ﬁrst session for Atlantic Records at Muscl Shoals was over. We had only completed one song and had the beginnings of one other. Luckily, the ﬁnished one was one of the greatest d d”
They didn’t know: Aretha in 1960, listening to John Hammond, Columbia A&R legend, at their 30th Street studios, NYC.
Sam Cooke. They wanted her to make the same impact as he had.” “She learned a lot from Sam,” concurs singer L.C. Cooke, Sam’s younger brother, who in 1961 toured with the 19-year-old Aretha, Hank Ballard And The Midnighters and Clyde McPhatter. “He told her, always be strong, always be yourself, be Aretha Franklin and no one else and when you’re on-stage give your all. She was very young, she was still learning her craft but it was obvious she was different. nd style made her stand out. She had star quality ually wanted her to sign to his label RCA. Berry dy also wanted to sign her. Her father thought lumbia was the place for her, though. It was esblished, already had a reputation.” But Columbia producer John Hammond – ho signed Aretha after hearing a two-song emo in 1960 – saw her not as an R&B singer ike Sam Cooke, but as a jazz artist. Hammond, ho had signed Count Basie and Billie Holiday aced Franklin with pianist Ray Bryant, to some ial success. 1960’s label debut Today T I Sing The hit the US R&B T Top 10. 1961’s Rock-A-Bye by With A Dixie Melody took her into the Top S, Australia and Canada. By the mid ’60s, she’d ched up two more US R&B chart hits with Runnin’ R Out Of ls and One Step Ahead. She was also a popular live draw “She was becoming a fabulous performer in front of our eyes,” d Herb Kent, radio DJ for W WVON in Chicago from 1962 to ’70, o plugged her early songs on his show and caught her live. “Her ce, her style, her movements on-stage. YYou knew she was going be someone, already was someone.” “But there was a sense,” said Wexler, “that she wasn’t reaching r potential. That voice of hers, it should have put her on top. This s Aretha Franklin after all.” Etta James, who would eventually lose her Queen Of Soul
©Don Hunstein/Sony Music Entertainment, ©Art Kane – courtesy of Art Kane Archive
“JERRY WEXLER SAID HE WOULD NEVER WORK WITH ME AGAIN. ‘I’LL BURY YOU,’ THOSE WERE HIS EXACT WORDS.” RICK HALL
Soul sisters: Aretha with her sister Carolyn Franklin (left), 1967.
ED WHITE WAS ALSO KEEN TO STEER Franklin towards a white audience. The two had met at one of her father’s parties and married, in 1961, against her father’s wishes. Aretha, just 19 and already the mother of two boys, was ﬂattered, looking to White both as a father ﬁgure to herself and her sons. But White’s interest was also professional. Etta James claimed his intention was “to pimp Aretha out – not to other men, but to record companies. He gave her the attention she craved and she fell for him. He was good looking, he knew how to treat women nd it was a regular situation on the R&B ne. We were all pimped out, either for sex music. Men made money from us.” White encouraged a repertoire of roadway songs, with an eye on the sohisticated supper clubs. The result: poential Aretha hits went unnoticed. A dyamite performance of Rudy Clark’s The oop Shoop Song languished as an album while Betty Everett cashed in with an mber 1 in 1964; covers of Dionne Warwick and Barbara LLynn songs placed her in the role of follower rather than leader. Unhappy at the way her career was ﬁzzling, Aretha became unreliable, failing to turn up to shows or promo opportunities with little or no explanation. She also stopped recording, sitting out the last year-and-a-half of her Columbia contract. “She really wanted to be a star,” said Wexler. “She wanted adulation, she wanted money. Her father wanted the same things for her, and so did T Ted White. That’s what motivated the three of them then. And at Columbia she just wasn’t having big enough hits and it was easy to point the ﬁnger at Columbia and say it’s their fault.” When Franklin’s contract came up for renewal in 1966, the label was said to have lost $90,000 on her. But Wexler still jumped to sign her to Atlantic. “Louise DJ and friend of Bishop, a Philadelphia-based gospel D Aretha, called to say Aretha was ready for a new label,” Wexler said. “Aretha and T Ted White came to my New YYork ofﬁce. She called me Mr Wexler, I had to call her Miss Franklin. ‘I want hits,’ she said, and we did the deal the old school way, just the three of us with a handshake and the promise of $25,000 for the ﬁrst album.” Franklin ﬁtted right into Atlantic’s roster. Ahmet Ertegun’s label had, after f all, facilitated the birth of soul music, with key releases by Ray Charles and Ruth Brown. “I felt a natural afﬁnity with the Atlantic sound,” she wrote in Aretha: From These Roots, her 1999 autobiography with David Ritz. “To T me, Atlantic meant soul. And more and more – especially with the advent of Atlantic artists like The Young Y Rascals, Arthur Conley and Wilson Pickett – soul music was exploding.” Wexler approached Jim Stewart, Stax’s self-effacing co-founder, to produce her – in the hope he’d do with her what he’d done with Otis Redding: “Which was,” said Wexler, “[to] take a raw blues singer and turn him into a worldwide pop star.” After Stewart turned him down, Wexler headed to Muscle Shoals to Rick Hall’s Fame studio. Wexler, Hall and the house rhythm section – Spooner Oldham (organ, electric piano), Chips Moman (rhythm guitar), 56 MOJO
year of soul, picked by GEOFF BROWN.
THE FOUR TOPS
Lady soul: happy and confident, Aretha with husband Ted White (centre) and Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun at the label’s NYC studios.
TAMLA MOTOWN Reach Out I’ll Be There had been a UK/US Number 1 in 1966 and when it came the album was no disappointment, Levi Stubbs’ majestic tenor exhorting and crying ﬁve more hits – Bernadette, Standing In The Shadows Of Love, 7 Rooms Of Gloom, If I Were A Carpenter, Walk Away Renee – and stage fave I’ll Turn To Stone.
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS Everybody Needs Love
TAMLA MOTOWN Aretha’s only serious rival down the decades, Knight already had major R&B hits when she signed to Motown. This debut album, with a strong title track, Norman Whitﬁeld’s ﬁrst pass at I Heard It Through The Grapevine, eternal dancer Just Walk In My Shoes, soul smoulderer Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me served notice of further greatness to come.
You Got My Mind Messed Up GOLDWAX/STATESIDE Arguably the classic Southern soul album is centred on arguably the classic Southern soul song, Dan Penn and Chips Moman’s The Dark End Of The Street and its brooding, shadowy drama of cheating in love. Carr is every bit as effective on the more uptempo Pouring Water On A Drowning Man, tearful These Ain’t Raindrops and bereft I Don’t Wanna Be Hurt Anymore.
The Windows Of The World SCEPTER/PYE Sophisticated, well-orchestrated New York pop-soul, Dionne’s eighth album had six songs by producers Bacharach & David including versions of Always Something There To Remind Me and the original I Say A Little Prayer, which would be a hit, smaller than Dionne’s, for Aretha in 1968. The show tunes – Somewhere; What’s Good About Goodbye – recorded for, but bumped from, On Stage And In The Movies (also ’67) are a tad over-egged, though.
OTIS REDDING & CARLA THOMAS King & Queen STAX As well as soul triumphs, 1967 was marked by genuine soul tragedy – December saw the death of Otis Redding. For many, his passing marked the end, too, of Stax Records. This duets set was the sixth and last album released during his lifetime and starred a relaxed, witty version of Lowell Fulson’s Tramp, Otis teasing and joshing with Rufus Thomas’s daughter.
Roger Hawkins (drums), T Tommy Cogbill (bass), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) – had already struck gold with Wilson Pickett’s Land Of 1000 Dances and Mustang Sally. The brief W Wexler gave was simple: “It was a case of sit her at the piano and capture the sparks ﬂying. Basically I told her, go back to church and be yourself… I urged Aretha to be Aretha.” Exactly what Sam Cooke had told her a decade earlier. “Jerry had a different approach [to Columbia],” said Aretha. “He wanted to base the music around me, not only my feeling for the song but my piano playing and basic rhythm arrangement, my overall concept… [He] made sure I put my personal stamp on [it]… Atlantic provided TLC – tender loving care – in a way that made me feel secure and comfortable. I went to work.” L RANKLIN PERSONALLY picked 11 songs to record over a planned two-week n, arranging the piano parts on Fender Rhodes in her New YYork
©David Gahr/Getty Images
crown to Aretha, agreed. In 2005, she told MOJO, “Aretha could really sing. Give her any kind of song – soul, jazz, R&B, a show tune – she would give it hell, but not being with a label like Chess or Motown or Stax, they didn’t know what to do with her. Columbia was a white label, they didn’t know her market. She should have been having hits. Instead, I was.”
“THE BAND HAD NO IDEA WHO SHE WAS. THEY SAW IT AS JUST ANOTHER SESSION.” DAN PENN home, and the backing vocals with her sisters Carolyn and Erma Franklin plus Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney. Well prepped and dressed ready for work – “business casual, a nice trouser suit, stylish, unlike a lot of artists who would dress down,” says Spooner Oldham – she entered the studio and, with tape rolling, she put down what would become the title track of the album in just two hours. Oldham admits he wasn’t sure who Aretha was when he went into Fame that ﬁrst day. “I had heard her singing some night club songs, some show tunes, but nothing I had wanted to hear again and I didn’t know what to expect,” he says. “The band had no idea who she was,” adds Dan Penn, on whom she’d made a stronger impression. “They saw it as just another session, but I knew Aretha – I’d been listening to her records played on WLAC. You couldn’t ever forget that voice.” That voice had never sounded so intense and impassioned as it did that day. Liberated from the restraint of the jazz singer mould, sat at her piano with the band jamming, and using the collision of gospel, R&B and rock’n’roll as her vehicle, Franklin came of age. Sensual, powerful, in full bloom, she put her heart into her music and found
her soul. “We didn’t get the right groove immediately, but once we got it, we were away,” says Oldham. “She was incredibly shy, she didn’t say much, just went straight to the piano, then out came the voice of an angel. It was the piano playing to my mind that really made it work. With that in front of her, she felt free to do just what she wanted.” However, Ted White had needed Wexler to convince him that Muscle Shoals was the right home for Aretha. He was sceptical about placing her in front of The Swampers, a white rhythm section with a reputation in the South for head arrangements – working up the backing from scratch with the singer. He argued that she was used to recording in New York, with an orchestra and a conductor and a musical script. Yet Wexler was sure that the Muscle Shoals way of working would liberate her and Aretha agreed. “This was worlds away from how I had worked at Columbia,” she said, “far more spontaneous and free-ﬂowing, with so much more room to be creative… The enthusiasm and camaraderie in the studio were terriﬁc, like nothing I had experienced at Columbia. This new Aretha music was raw and real and so much more myself.” I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), the song, was MOJO 57
“ARETHA WAS USING THIS ALBUM TO TELL HER STORY, BOTH THE GOOD AND THE BAD BITS.” JERRY WEXLER
and White ﬂew back to New York the next day. “Ted White said Aretha would never work with me again,” Hall told MOJO in 2013. “Then Jerry Wexler said he’d never work with me again. ‘I’ll bury you,’ those were his exact words. It was dreadful.” EXLER R PRESSED UP AN ACETAT T E OF I NEVER Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) on his return to New York and by the end of the week it was a radio hit. With only a half-ﬁnished Do Right Woman, Do Right Man for the B-side, he put the call out to Aretha and ﬂew the Muscle Shoals band up to New York in the hope she’d arrive. “And she did,” says Wexler. “I wasn’t expecting that. I had to wait a couple of weeks, but in retrospect that didn’t matter.” So on February 8, 1967, she set to work at Atlantic Studios, at 1841 Broadway in midtown Manhattan. In front of Wexler, engineer Tom Dowd and arranger Arif Mardin, she added piano and organ to the rough Muscle Shoals demo. Then, over Erma, Carolyn and Cissy’s sumptuous backing vocals, she delivered her knockout lead. Wexler had nothing but praise for her. “In terms of production,” he said, “I never gave her guidance. She was so conﬁdent. She knew exactly what she needed to do. Everything was got down in one or two takes. All I had to do was get Tom Dowd to press ‘record’.” When Wexler invited the song’s writers, Dan Penn and Chips Moman, to hear the ﬁnished song, they were amazed. “We ﬂy to New York and we’re in the control room at Atlantic and it’s like, Wow!” says Penn. “Aretha “ starts to sing, her sisters come in behind her, she’s playing piano, I thought, Man, they sure captured the magic here.” When released as the ﬂip to I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), it delivered Aretha the hit she craved. Placing at the top of the US R&B chart and remaining there for seven weeks, it also entered the US pop Top 10 and sold over a million copies.
©David Gahr/Getty Images, Getty Images
the key. Legend has it that Ted White had met its writer, Ronnie Shannon, in a Detroit barber’s shop. Shannon, from Georgia, had stepped in to ask directions to Motown, introducing himself as a singer and songwriter. The barber told him to talk to White. When White’s haircut was ﬁnished, he went with Shannon out to his car, where he’d slept overnight, and Shannon sang him some songs. Impressed, White took him to his ofﬁce, briefed him on the kind of songs he wanted Aretha to sing – “classy, sophisticated” – and Shannon penned I Never Loved A Man in an afternoon. Down in Muscle Shoals, Franklin sang the lyric – “You’re a no good heart breaker/You’re a liar and you’re a cheat” – as if it were autobiography, a window on her tempestuous marriage. It was shattering. “When Ted White heard her sing and play I Never Loved A Man, live for the ﬁrst time, it was like he couldn’t believe his ears,” said Jerry Wexler. “It was like he was seeing what she was capable of for the ﬁrst time, what she could actually achieve.” The mood in the studio was euphoric, edging towards ominously over-excited. “We knew that [Ted] had a volatile temper, and he took a bottle and took a slug in celebration,” Wexler said. “He then handed it to the trumpeter [Kenneth Laxton] and he took a slug. That bottle went back and forth, I don’t know how many times. I thought, Uh oh, that’s not good…” As things started to get fuzzy, playful banter turned to mud-slinging. White stormed out. Wexler, angry at the disruption to the session, ordered Hall to ﬁre Laxton. “If it had ended there,” Hall said, “it might have been all right. The situation might have been salvageable.” Instead Hall followed White to the motel where White, Aretha and Wexler were staying, in the hope of straightening things out. Hall and White brawled, and even though Wexler intervened in the early hours of the morning, offering apologies and promises, Aretha
A week later, she put down a further nine songs which would complete the I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You album, songs she’d pored over with Wexler. “She came out to my home in Great Neck [on Long Island, NY],” he said. “We played through records together looking for songs for her to sing. She’d have deﬁnite ideas on what would work and what wouldn’t and how she’d approach doing something. She was already incredibly knowledgeable about music. Her musical intelligence was huge, despite being so young.” “Her and Jerry did their homework before they came to the studio,” says Oldham. “And it paid off. She’d start playing piano, sing a little, we’d pick it up from there, work it all up from scratch, come up with a chord chart. Those sessions were long, from 10am to midnight, a bit of supper, not much talk but always a lot of fun because it was so creative. And the control room would be rocking. Jerry and Tom would be listening, smiling, grinning. I don’t remember a time when things weren’t working for us at those New York sessions.” Covers of Ray Charles’ Drown In My Own Tears and Sam Cooke’s Good Times and A Change Is Gonna Come paid tribute to her touchstones. On the ﬁrst, penned by Henry Glover and debuted by Lula Reed in 1951, Franklin turned heartbreak jazz into deep soul. A stripped-down A Change Is Gonna Come became stirring, take-it-to-the-river sermonising. Cooke’s version may have expressed wistful hope, but Franklin’s has more conviction. She knows she will overcome all obstacles. “She wanted to tell people where she had come from,” Wexler said. “This was her musical background laid bare; Ray and Sam coming out of the church. There was also a sense, though, that she was saying, ‘I’m this good, I’m the new Ray, the new Sam.’ She was always reserved, she gave so little away about her personal life and let her music do her talking. It felt like she was using this album to tell her story, both the good and the bad bits.” On top of exceptional vocal and interpretational skills, Franklin was proving herself a songwriter – an opportunity denied her female peers at Stax, Chess and Motown. Dr Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) was pure licentious come-on blues. Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream, meanwhile, pinned her allegiance to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement over a bossa nova beat inspired by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz. But it was a fervid makeover of Otis Redding’s Respect that put her directly on the frontline. When released as the second single from the album in April, it was immediately adopted as a feminist and civil rights call to arms. The black journalist Phyl Garland dubbed it America’s “new national anthem” and when Wexler played Otis Redding her version, he told him, “I just lost my song… That girl has taken it from me.” For Franklin it provided an emotional release and documentation of her relationship with White, which would worsen in proportion with her growing fame. White was unable to deal with the power shift and Aretha took to drink to cope with the tension. The pair divorced in 1969. In his autobiography Rhythm And The Blues: A Life In American Music, Jerry Wexler described her as “Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows… I don’t pretend to know the sources of her anguish, but anguish surrounds Aretha…” ESPECT GAVE A ARE R THA A FRANKLIN HER FIRST US pop Number 1. The album was a huge success too. Issued on March 10, 1967, it became her ﬁrst US R&B Number 1 and biggest pop hit placing at Number 2. She was thrilled. “Everything about that ﬁrst Atlantic album pleased me,” Aretha wrote. “The acceptance, the sales, the musical power, the cover design…” By the end of the year, she’d been crowned the Queen Of Soul by the W WV VON radio DJ and club promoter Per vis ‘The Blues Man’ Spann, who in a mock coronation ceremony at the Regal Theatre in Chicago placed a crown on her head. Then on February 16, 1968 Aretha Day was declared in Detroit by the city’s Mayor Jerome Cavanagh. She would notch up a further six US R&B Number 1 albums, four of which were certiﬁed gold during her Atlantic tenure, all patterned on I Never Loved A Man… She also received eight consecutive Grammy Awards for best female R&B song –
the award eventually, unofﬁcially becoming dubbed ‘The Aretha’; her total currently stands at 18. For ﬁve years from 1967, her mastery was complete. There was also extraordinary music throughout the ’70s. After 1980 there were hits, but increasingly few and Franklin’s presence receded, more than ever the aloof, opaque character Wexler remembered from 1967. Yet she remained and remains, reputationally, the pre-eminent soul singer, the embodiment of the genre, an iconhood carved out by that very ﬁrst Atlantic album. “We all knew as soon as we heard the playback,” said Jerry Wexler. “We knew what we had created, that this would be the future… It’s the moment Aretha, the soul singer and the Queen Of Soul, is born.” In terms of its components, the music could hardly have been simpler, more direct. Yet it had very nearly never materialised at all. “How did we manage to get that performance out of her when Columbia had failed?” pondered Wexler. “The material and the environment at Columbia just wasn’t conducive to her letting go and ﬁnding her voice in the music. We provided that environment. It was that easy. We gave her the room to do it her way.” For Aretha, though, “…soul was the key. There was no compromising, no deliberate decision to go pop… We weren’t trying to manipulate or execute any marketing plan. We were simply trying to compose real music from my heart.” Which is exactly what they did. M With thanks to David Nathan and David Ritz.
The tragic tale of I Never Loved A Man’s sax icon, KING CURTIS. IT’S THERE in the way his sax snuggles up beside her or in his tone as he comments on her vocal in Soul Serenade – few musicians established such a close musical bond with Aretha than King Curtis, the Texan tenorist who featured on the New York recorded tracks of I Never Loved A Man…, and who would work regularly with her, become her musical director with his band The Kingpins, and was a mainstay of her band at the three extraordinary nights of performances on March 5, 6 and 7, 1971, that formed the source of her Live At Fillmore West, released in May 1971, and, indeed, his own LP of the same title which followed in August. Curtis had worked on half-a-dozen of Aretha’s ﬁrst Atlantic albums – a bluesy masterpiece during Going Down Slow on Aretha Arrives, for example – but perhaps none surpassed the sponteniety and ﬁzz of the Fillmore West performances as heard on Don’t Fight The Feeling, Rhino’s 4CD set of the complete three nights, which also feature Curtis’s sets in their entirety. Born Curtis Montgomery in Forth Worth on February 2, 1934, he was adopted by the Ousley family and was just six when he heard Louis Jordan on the radio, piquing his interest in the sax. By the age of 11 he was playing alto, as King
Curtis. When his school acquired a tenor, he volunteered to learn it. When they got a baritone he stepped up again. As beﬁts a child of Texas, he developed a hard, honking, deeptoned sound, but was a fan of Lester Young, too, and so alongside the bite of Earl Bostic and Gene Ammons, there was a sensitivity and variety to his ensemble and solo work, fed by the gospel of his childhood, and the blues and jazz heard on the radio. In the early ’50s he moved to New York, playing live dates with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Horace Silver, and building a reputation as an inspired session player as he moved into R&B and rock’n’roll. He worked at Atlantic in two spells. First as a go-to sessionman most memorably with The Coasters – Yakety Yak, Charlie Brown and Along Came Jones all have exuberant sax motifs. Post-Atlantic he had his ﬁrst hit (Soul Twist, a 1962 R&B Number 1 for Enjoy), played with Sam Cooke, signed to Capitol, then Prestige subsidiary Tru Sound for jazz sides with Nat Adderley and Wynton Kelly, and a vocal blues album Trouble In Mind. But in 1965 returned to Atlantic and recorded his best-know solo hits like his co-write with Luther Dixon, Soul Serenade, which Aretha would vocalise on I Never Loved A Man…, and his own song, Memphis Soul Stew. Tragically, on August 13, days after his careerpeak Live At Fillmore West was released, while carrying an air conditioner up to his New York apartment on West 86th Street he got into an argument with a drug dealer who was blocking the steps into the building and Sax appeal: was stabbed King Curtis to death. and (left) Live Geoff Brown masterwork.
When LEONARD COHEN left us in November, it marked the end of one of music’s most remarkable comeback stories – a man who swapped fame for a monk’s cell, then re-emerged to reclaim his crown, more lauded than ever. Cohen’s biographer SYLVIE SIMMONS chronicles the rise, retreat and glorious encore of a master artist whose devotion to his craft saw him working until the day before he died... HE HUT WASN’T MUCH BIGGER THAN Cohen lived in London for a while – Hampstead; lots a prison cell. It was one of a scattering of of writers there – but soon left to live in a house with no plain wood cabins on Mount Baldy, above electricity and running water on the Greek island of Hydra. the snowline, an abandoned boy scout camp In a room with plain white walls, like a monk’s cabin, he wrote that the hut’s longtime resident had helped novels. There’s a photograph of that room on the back sleeve of Songs From A Room, his lover Marianne Ihlen seated at his desk, turn into a monastery. Jikan was his name – naked but for a towel. Then, when given to him by Roshi Sasaki, the prose and poetry failed to pay even his head of the meagre bills, he decided he’d go to m o n a s t e r y, Nashville and be a country songwriter. when ordaining him as a Buddhist This on the basis of liking Hank Wilmonk. The name meant “ordinary liams, George Jones and Ray Charles’s silence” or “the silence between two country album and having once played thoughts”. You know him as Leonard in a square dance band. Cohen. For more than half the 1990s He’d been playing guitar since he he lived in this white-walled cabin. was 15, the same age that he discov“I was always going off the deep end,” ered Federico García Lorca. Which said Cohen, smiling. “So it was no was the moment that he had decided radical departure.” to be a poet – this was 1949; Cohen True, when you think about it, the had no tradition of rock music behind life of Leonard Cohen was a series of LEONARD COHEN him. But when he read Lorca, he said radical departures. He was born in he heard the music of the synagogue. Montreal into a well-to-do family of He also said that there was music berabbis, scholars, businessmen, who hind every word he wrote. founded synagogues and Canada’s ﬁrst En route to Nashville he stopped off Jewish newspaper. Serious people. Leonard became a serious in New York. A friend suggested he meet with Mary Martin, a fellow poet. He was 21 when his ﬁrst collection was published, Let Us Canadian, Albert Grossman’s former assistant, who had introduced Compare Mythologies, and he was hailed by the Canadian Bob Dylan to The Hawks, who became The Band. Martin introliterati as their new golden boy. There was even a documentary duced Cohen to Judy Collins, who covered his songs and took him made about him, as if he were a rock star: Ladies And Gentlemen… on stage, which led to John Hammond signing Cohen, as he had Mr Leonard Cohen. But instead of staying where he was loved, he done Dylan, to Columbia Records. left for New York where the Beat Poets weren’t so enamoured of Cohen was 33 when his debut album Songs Of Leonard Cohen his “rhymed, polished verses, which they associated with the came out. Another radical departure: this was youth culture, oppressive literary establishment.”
“Time speeds up the closer it gets to the end of the reel.”
PLUS BONO on the triumph of Hallelujah JOHN CALE, MADELEINE PEYROUX and MATTHEW E WHITE hymn aspects of a genius
Alamy, Sherman Lainez, Getty Images
The risks of humiliation: Cohen on-stage, nervous in 1970, Paris, and (opposite) triumphant in 2013, Leeds; (insets left) Songs Of… (1967), 1988’s I’m Your Man, rewritten lyrics.
when you weren’t to trust anyone over 30. Cohen was not a youth; it’s quite possible to believe he never was. Like his poems, his lyrics were sophisticated and dense. Although he had consumed copious amounts of cid and speed, his songs howed no evidence of eiher. His songs were like othing else being made in he late ’60s, he was unique, t the same time ancient and resh. Hammond had a hard me getting Columbia to sign n “old poet”. Cohen had a harder time making that ﬁrst album. When it was ﬁnally done he swore he would never make another – until Bob Johnston, back then a Columbia staff producer, lured him to Nashville after offering him the keys to a plain wooden cabin in the middle of nowhere. From the outset, Cohen’s relationship with the music business had ranged from dismal to conﬂicted. Take touring; Cohen hated it. “I felt,” he said, “that the risks of humiliation were too wide.” He had stage fright. He was even more afraid for his songs. They had come to him from somewhere pure and he’d worked long and hard to make them sincere representations of the moment. He wanted to protect them, not parade them before strangers in an artiﬁcial intimacy. He might have seemed like the consummate showman for any of us who saw him back then, but for much of his music career he drank and drugged himself copiously to get through a show. As time went on, songwriting became increasingly torturous also. Songs had to be “torn” from him. There’s the famous story of Cohen and Dylan trading lyrics over coffee in Paris. Dylan played him a new song and Cohen asked how long it took to write “Fifteen
minutes,” Dylan said. How long did it take Cohen to write his new song Hallelujah, he asked. “A couple of years,” Cohen told him, too embarrassed to tell him it was ﬁve years or more. But really the problem was not with writing a song – Cohen could do that relatively easily. It was his perfectionism and a craving for complete authenticity. Take Anthem. Ten to 15 years in the writing, Cohen recorded it for at least three different albums. He rejected it twice because, listening back, he felt that the guy singing the words was “putting us on”. The ﬁrst of those albums was Various Positions (1984), the same album Hallelujah was on – and the album that Columbia refused to release in the US because they didn’t think it had any real songs. “Leonard, we know you’re great,” the head of the company’s music division, Walter Yetnikoff, famously said, “We just don’t know if you’re any good.” For most of his music career, Cohen’s patch had been the UK and Europe, perhaps because darkness wasn’t so alienating here, intelligence and poetry not so suspect, and his wry, black humour was understood. “I thought they were making a mistake,” Cohen said. “I thought that there was an audience in the United States and Canada [but] from their point of view the market was so limited that it didn’t justify the distribution machinery.” It seems hardly credible now that the album that introduced Hallelujah – the all-purpose hymn for the millennium, the feelgood sing-along/treatise on the bleakness of human relations and go-to vocal workout on TV talent contests – was forced to come out in North America on an indie label. There had been some attempts to sell Leonard on that side of the Atlantic, all unsuccessful – his collaboration with Phil Spector, for example, Death Of A Ladies’ Man, Cohen’s lyrics, Spector writing music and producing the album (at gunpoint). Cohen ﬁnally broke through in the late ’80s, a time when many of his contemporaries were ﬂoundering. I’m Your Man (1988) reintroduced him as a suave, smart, self-deprecating lounge lizardcome-chansonnier. The songs’ themes were as dark as ever – Ain’t No Cure For Love a sing-along about love, sex, God and the AIDS
I’M Y FANOUR #1
crisis; First We Take Manhattan, probably the only Eurodisco song to tackle both the war between the sexes and the Holocaust. But the darkness was mitigated by catchy beats, keyboards in place of gloomy guitar and bright production. His humour was more obvious too: “I was born like this, I had no choice,” he sang laconically, “I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” This was really Cohen’s ﬁrst comeback. He had stepped into the shadows at the end of the Recent Songs tour, staying there for four years, writing a book of poems, psalms really, Book Of Mercy (1984). What he had learned from his ongoing studies with Roshi, he said, had led him back to the Talmud, Torah, Kabbalah and the Jewish prayer book. Since Various Positions didn’t much trouble North America, it had been nine years before I’m Your Man rebranded Cohen as cool. “In terms of my so-called career,” Cohen said, “I’m Your Man was certainly a rebirth. But it was hard to consider it a rebirth on a personal level. It was made under the usual dismal and morbid condition” – including an unravelled romantic life once again, the death of his manager Marty Machat, and a deepening of the depression he’d suffered since late adolescence. “Not just the blues,” he explained, but “a kind of mental violence that stops you from functioning properly from one moment to the next.” Unable to keep up the momentum, it was another four years before the follow-up. But The Future (1992) sold even better. Its lyrics were dystopic, pessimistic, but almost gleefully. The title track name-checked Stalin, Charles Manson, the Devil and Christ – and Coh himself as “the little Jew that wrote the Bible.” When the Lo Angeles riots broke out, Cohen had watched the ﬁres from his little house in an unglamorous part of the city. He had bought there to be near Roshi, whose ﬁrst US Zen Center had opened near South Central LA. Cohen catalogued all the sins of the West on the album. Everything was broken – but for Cohen everything always was. Even Jesus was broken on one his earliest songs, Suzanne. The state of being cracked, imperfect, was one of this perfectionist’s longest, deepest studies; it might Continues on page 66
“There’s Nothing Corny About Leonard” Madeleine Peyroux wouldn’t be the same without Dance Me To The End Of Love. I’ve sung Dance Me To The End Of Love [off Cohen’s Various Positions album] at every concert since I recorded it in 2004, and if I haven’t been singing it, if it was a day off or something, I’ve probably had it in my head. I’ve gotten 10 years older singing this song and I’ll never not want to sing it. It’s a love song that goes deeper than any other love song. The love songs of the American popular songbook are either quite tragic or otherwise kind of unbelievable, based on the tradition of operetta, maybe, that quickly becomes corny. But there’s nothing corny about Leonard, always a groundedness. When he says, “Dance me to your beauty”, the idea of ‘dancing to beauty’ immediately grabbed me. So every time I sing the song I focus on that ﬁrst line, because the dimensions I ﬁnd in that lyric – I get chills just thinking about them. Then he goes on to say all kinds of things I still ponder over, like,
“We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above.” Wow! How am I gonna ﬁgure this one out? But the fact that the Holocaust was a starting point for the song [the song’s “burning violin” refers to how the Nazis had musician inmates play outside the death camp crematoria] caused me huge difﬁculty after I recorded it. For a while I felt like I should be willing to take the song down a darker, more tragic or fatalistic avenue. But I found I would lose the connection with the audience, because it was too intellectual. And the fact of the matter is – and I can understand why Leonard tended not to come out and talk about this very much – the point is… to fall in love. Because if you’re capable of realising that nothing lasts forever while you’re listening to this song, then, yes, that makes it tragic, but it also makes it more enticing to stay in the song and inside the concepts that he talks about. That all reminds me to just sing the song. Y’know, I won’t let go of him. Someone asked me how I would say goodbye and I said, “I won’t.” The music has always been with me. I get to live his music. I’ve lived it for a long time. I’ve gotten to play it for over 10 years, almost every night. And it’s made me a better person.
Leonard Cohen’s initially-overlooked hymn to human imperfection has become an indisputable Anthem Of Our Time. “It might be the most perfect song in the world,” U2’s Bono tells Alan Light.
N 1995, U2 SINGER BONO RECORDED A version of Hallelujah for a Leonard Cohen tribute album called Tower Of Song. Of the hundreds of covers of this now-global anthem, this one stands as a unique approach – Bono murmurs the lyrics over a trip-hop beat by Howie B, with a trombone darting in and out of the mix, and breaks into a full falsetto for the chorus. It is not, it is fair to say, one of the most beloved renditions of the song. When I spoke to Bono for my book about Hallelujah’s rise to prominence, he instantly owned up to his misﬁre. “I wasn’t sure why I agreed to do this interview,” he said, “but then I remembered that I needed to apologise to the world. I didn’t just let myself down, or my parents, I let the whole school down…” But it wasn’t the least likely twist in the tale of Hallelujah – risen from the obscurity of Cohen’s synthy 1984 album Various Positions, via versions by John Cale (whose rendition, with re-edited lyrics, began life on another tribute album, 1991’s I’m Your Fan, before ﬁnding a larger audience in the ﬁlm Shrek 2); Jeff Buckley, on 1994’s iconic Grace album; and Alexandra Burke on the 2008 series of the UK’s talent juggernaut X Factor (it was that year’s UK Christmas Number 1 single). Though imperfect, Bono’s version was another staging post in the world’s rediscovery of the song. As he explained to me, it reﬂected a period of personal pain – emerging in a sense of conﬂict arguably truer to Hallelujah than many of the more conventionally beautiful covers – and an admiration for Leonard Cohen that went way, way back…
’VE BEEN A LEONARD COHEN FAN SINCE I was 14. He played Dublin in 1974 and I didn’t make it, I couldn’t get the money to go. People forget that it was against the law to listen to Leonard in the days of punk. Some of the most brutal, eye-gouging music criticism was directed at him in those years. He found irony, ironic context to place his meditations, with
humour – and eventually he was reborn as a humorist ladies’ man. As a student of the sound, I understood the resonances of his incantation in Hallelujah and his invocation of the Old Testament David. I’ve thought a lot about David – the ﬁrst bluesman, the ﬁrst God heckler. As well as shouting praises to God, he was also shouting admonishment – “Why has thou forsaken me?”, that’s the beginning of the blues. And he was a harp player. I think I understood the vaingloriousness of Hallelujah’s lyric, the hubris in it. It’s one of those rare things, it might be the most perfect song in the world. Of course, there’s also Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night and there’s Amazing Grace – but they’re really all the same subject, so maybe that’s why I say those. I don’t really remember being conscious of the Jeff Buckley version. I’m not sure I would have done it myself if I had been, though maybe that’s why I did the whisper – if you can’t take true ﬂight and do his kind of Suﬁ singing, maybe stick to recitation. But his version became very important to me in the years that followed, so much that I forgot that I’d even attempted it. Why did it take so long for people to notice Hallelujah? It looks now like it was so obviously a great painting, like a Rothko – you can sit in that room in the Tate Gallery and just go, “Well, there ya go, it’s a nice feeling in here,” and not realise that this is a really important moment for you, and really hard-won by the artist to get here. If you didn’t stop, you might miss the complexity of it. But in the end, this kind of thing just does come through. Jeff’s version really helped, of course, and it became very popular. I think when I recorded the song, I may have needed to hear it more than I needed to sing it. It was one of those moments – you take a day out, you’re
desperate, even wretched, and in desperate need of these words and that’s the only excuse. So I did it as beat poetry, with my fat lady voice, in falsetto for the chorus – it’s remarkable I could even get up to that at the time. I remember wanting to ﬁt in as much of the text as possible, making it about the words. I do think it was reverent in all the right ways. The lyric explains it best – there’s “the holy and the broken hallelujah” and mine was deﬁnitely the broken one. Leonard did send me a penknife after this version came out, and a book of his lyrics, signed “You take Manhattan, I’ll keep Berlin.” Hallelujah is a very powerful word, a big idea, and I’ve hung onto it very tightly over the years. Later, we did start doing a bit of Hallelujah with U2 – it has on occasion come out of me on-stage. On-stage, you have all kinds of distracting thoughts, good or nothing, sometimes ﬁlled with dark thoughts. Praising God, Jah, Yahweh – some of the brightest moments of clarity I’ve ever had have been on-stage, and also some terrible times, and I’ve always used that word if it ﬁts in a place. It’s an amazing word to say, it’s its own kind of mouth music just singing it. I noticed that when Leonard was singing Hallelujah the last time I saw him, he was trying to take it back – trying to remind us of the irony, the humour in it, to take some of the portentousness out and bring it back to his original humility and humour. He performed it like Lucky in Waiting For Godot, taking off his hat. It had all of its richness without any robes, any grandeur. The thing to watch for is when people make Hallelujah too lofty. He was wrestling it back to earth, like one of Blake’s angels, tethered to the ground.” Alan Light’s The Holy Or The Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, And The Unlikely Ascent Of Hallelujah is published by Atria.
It was one of many ways to try to Continued from page 63 cope with the “deep, paralysing anhave been his battle cr y. Anthem guish for no reason at all”. He’d tried –“There is a crack in ever ything/ treating his depression with alcohol That’s how the light gets in” ﬁnally and drugs of all kinds. The monastery made it onto this album, thanks in for him was “a hospital [where I large part to Rebecca De Mornay, who could] learn everything from the beconvinced Cohen, who was still workginning again, how to sit, how to walk, ing on it, that it was ﬁne as it was. She how to eat and how to be quiet... and Cohen were engaged to be marOnce you overcome your natural reried. The actress had just made the sistance to being told what to do, if biggest movie of her career, The Hand you can overcome that, then you begin That Rocks The Cradle, and Cohen LEONARD COHEN to relax into the schedule and the alwas there when she shot it, sitting in most voluptuous simplicity of the day. her trailer writing on a synthesizer. He That whole component of improvisawas her escort at the Oscars ceremony tion that tyrannises much of our lives in March 1992. When he went on tour begins to dissolve.” But that didn’t to promote the album, Rebecca would someork either. Five and a half years later, in such a times show up to give moral support. eep depression he couldn’t claw back up, he told Along the way, Cohen sang with Elton John oshi he was leaving. on Elton’s Duets album, and narrated a two-part Back in LA, he once again ran into his old Canadian TV series, The Tibetan Book Of The end Roscoe. Beck reminded him what he’d said Dead. He also accepted the Governor General’s e last time they met. “Ah,” said Cohen, “now Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement – one ve had it with the religious racket. I’m ready to of two handfuls Canada had recently bestowed ke up music again.” Nine years after The Future, on him. At the ceremony, Cohen said, “I feel ohen released his ﬁrst album of the new millenlike a soldier. You may get decorated for a um, Ten New Songs (2001). successful campaign [but it’s] probab just in the line of duty. You can’t let the CTOBER 2004. COHEN WAS IN honours deeply alter the way you ﬁght Montreal when his daughter Lorca Again he was afraid of betraying his ar called. She’d just had a strange converThe Future tour had been as much a ba ion with the boyfriend of someone tle for him as his early tours. He wa who worked for Kelley Lynch – Cohen’s manager since drinking so heavily that even Roshi, n Marty Machat’s death. All he would say was that Cohen stranger to alcohol, expressed concern eeded look at his bank accounts, and fast. At Lorca’s insistIn September 1994, back in LA, h nce, Cohen ﬂew back to LA and went to his bank. Almost ran into Roscoe Beck, his bass player on of his money was gone, including his retirement account, the 1979-80 Recent Songs tour. “I’ve well as publishing rights to some of his most had it with this music racket,” Cohen opular songs. told him. After celebrating his 60th Life since leaving the monastery had become birthday, he packed his bag and moved uite serene. He had a new romantic partner, into the hut 6,500 feet up in the San Gabriel is sometime backing singer Anjani Thomas. Mountains to be the servant and companion of an hree years after Ten New Songs he’d made old Japanese man and live the tough and highlynother album, Dear Heather (2004). The lengthy structured life of a Rinzai Zen monk. eriods he’d been spending in Mumbai, studying As well as breaking with the music business, hi edanta philosophy with Ramesh Balsekar, engagement to De Mornay was off. Romantic rela ad somehow cured his depression. But to spend tionships for Cohen were often just as conﬂicted is old age in what felt like an eternity of legal There had been long relationships with his muse nd ﬁnancial paperwork was a joke so black including Marianne Ihlen and later Suzanne Elro to test even his sense of humour. At the age the mother of his two children, but he had nev of 70, Cohen was forced to remortgage his married. Now it was religion, “my favourite hobby house in order to pay the lawyers. as he called it, that took the forefront. Although he remained a “It was an enormous distraction,” he said. “Will I ever be able to practising Jew, even as a Buddhist monk, he had spent his life studget back to a life where I get up in the morning, walk over to my ying different spiritual paths including Christianity, Scientology and keyboard or pick up my guitar or go to the meditation hall? Or will Vedanta. His poems and songs have often featured religious teachit just be appointments and searching through e-mails?” Help came ers and invariably associate religious and sexual devotion and ecstain the form of Robert Kory, Anjani’s ex-husband, a former music sies. Roshi, Cohen said, told the monks, “You lead hard lives, you industry lawyer, who offered to defer his fees and plunge into what rise early, you spend hours on ﬂoors, but if you want to try someturned out to be wildly convoluted business. thing really hard, try marriage. That is the true monastery.” Cohen’s two albums since leaving the monastery had sold some One attraction of Rinzai Zen was its almost military discipline. copies in the UK, Europe and Canada, but very few in the US. He’d Cohen had wanted to go to military school as a child, but when his had no interest in touring to promote them, wanting to stay as far father died – Leonard was nine – his mother put paid to that idea. as he could get away with from the music business and the spotlight. In his twenties Cohen had gone to Cuba to join the revolution and Even on his albums he moved increasingly away from centre stage. later offered himself to the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur war. Women had always played a part in Cohen’s songs – as backing singHe was turned down. The routine at the monastery was very rigorers, muses, and in Leanne Ungar’s case, engineer/producer, but Ten ous. “You get up very early, 2.30 or three in the morning, and there New Songs had been as much Sharon Robinson’s album as Cohen’s are duties assigned the whole day.” Dressed in black robe and san– her music, his words. On his next album, Dear Heather, he left dals, the monk’s uniform, he’d clean toilets, cut bamboo and act as much of the singing to the women, his own voice just a whisper. By Roshi’s driver, cook and secretary.
Rex, Simon Brackbill, Eric Mulet/Camera Press
“I’ve never thought of myself as a singer.”
Beating a retreat: Cohen at the Mount Baldy monastery, California, 1995; (insets left, from top) Leonard with Anjani Thomas, his albums Dear Heather and Ten New Songs, Sharon Robinson sharing the cover.
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“Poetry Crept Through Everything” Blue Alert (2006), his collaboration with Anjani, he had faded out almost entirely. It was Anjani’s idea, her music and vocals and her face on the sleeve. Meanwhile, Hal Willner’s ensemble project Came So Far For Beauty – begun in 2003 as a one-off celebration of Cohen in a Brooklyn park, funded by the Canadian Consulate – had taken on a life of its own. Various shows around the world featured a panoply of artists covering Cohen – among them Laurie Anderson, Linda Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Antony Hegarty, Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave. An Australian ﬁlm-maker used these concerts as a basis for the documentary ﬁlm I’m Your Man (2005). Philip Glass composed a series of song cycles based on poems Cohen was writing for his ﬁrst new volume in 22 years, Book Of Longing (2006). Everyone, it seemed, was singing Cohen’s songs but Cohen. But the thought of going on tour had started nagging at Cohen. He didn’t want to; he wasn’t sure he could do it after almost 15 years; he wasn’t convinced that anyone would want to see him. Yet since neither poetry nor albums were paying the bills, it was the only solution he could think of. Robert Kory called the UK concert promoters AEG; it turned out that one of the promoters, Rob Hallett, was a big Cohen fan. He ﬂew to LA, and made an offer Cohen couldn’t under his present circumstances refuse. After the meeting, Cohen drove to Sharon Robinson’s house and told her, a worried look on his face, “I think I’m going to have to go on tour again.” Cohen asked Roscoe Beck to be the musical director, and in January 2008 Beck started hiring. Some were musicians Cohen had worked with before – Sharon Robinson; guitarist Bob Metzger, Leanne Ungar’s husband – and some were new to him: keyboard player Neil Larsen; Javier Mas, a Spanish laud and bandurria player who had been the musical director of a Leonard Cohen tribute concert in Barcelona; and drummer Rafael Gayol. They hired a violin player then decided to replace her with a woodwind player and multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo. Jennifer Warnes was invited but declined. Sharon Robinson brought in the Webb Sisters. They rehearsed for four months, with the promoter footing the bill. “It’s hard to separate the feelings at the beginning of the tour,” said Leonard. “Reluctance of course. The difﬁculty of assem-
John Cale on Cohen’s humour and his ability to cross the lines of mortality. He was a gentle soul who affected an awful lot of people, but he was a poet ﬁrst. Poetry crept through everything. He came to see the Velvets in ’67? I didn’t know that. I ﬁrst ran into him in London and later I bumped into him in a Starbucks in LA. I really wanted to ask him about Zen and how he reconciled it with his Judaism. He always had this way of crossing back and forth between the lines of mortality. He could talk one minute about mysticism, and the next minute there would be a strong dose of reality. It’s a unique style. I saw him play at the Beacon Theatre in New York . He was playing with a full band, backing singers, and of all the songs Hallelujah stuck out for me and I went looking for it. Then Les Inrockuptibles were putting together this tribute record [I’m Your Fan, 1991] and this song came to mind. So I called him up to ask him for the lyrics. He sent me 15 verses – practically broke my fax machine! I looked at them and they had predominantly religious references – he sings about Yahweh, which didn’t really ring for me. I don’t have any religion myself that you’d notice, except maybe Gareth Bale. So I told him, “Look, I’m not comfortable with these”,
and he said, “Do whatever you want with them.” So of the verses he sent me, I picked the cheeky ones. I always thought the humour in them was great. “All I ever learned from love / Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you”: that’s competitive language, mate! The way he writes about sex is always entertaining, always makes me smile. It’s a rich song, because I can pick any number of different personas through which to sing it – however I’m feeling at that particular time. On the Fragments Of A Rainy Season tour, the versions I did live were all a little different, and I beneﬁted from that. It made me feel like there was a different thing waiting for me every night that I took it on. My version on Shrek 2 I suppose made a difference to how the song was disseminated. When I ﬁrst bumped into him in LA the topic of Hallelujah came up, and he said, “Yeah, it’s your fault…” Leonard always set a high standard. When I was listening to [New York ‘free radio’ pioneer] Bob Fass on WBAI, he was playing Leonard every night practically. And it became kind of an obligation to write that honestly, because that’s what Leonard was doing. You deﬁnitely felt the pressure, that here was a guy who was doing something very important. What was unique about him? He could talk about something secret without making it secret, and at the same time not divulging it. Some trick.
It’s just in the line of duty: accepting applause at the Tribute To Leonard Cohen concert, Gijon, October 21, 2011; (insets opposite) later albums Popular Problems and You Want It Darker, with biographer Sylvie Simmons.
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“His Melodies Flow Out Of Who He Is”
Guy Eppel, Getty Images, courtesy of Sylvie Simmons
Matthew E White on the “depth” and “extravagance” of the immortal Suzanne. Suzanne feels like one of those songs that are pulled down from the sky. It’s almost like it wasn’t written – more honed over hundreds of years, a folk song. It’s typical of this very natural melodic sense Leonard Cohen has. Like Paul McCartney, but different, his melodies seem to ﬂow out of who he is. I read somewhere that he said that he took a couple of ﬂamenco guitar lessons, learned a handful of chords and they were the ones he used for the rest of his life. I think there’s something in that. Like Dylan, there’s a clear palette, and there’s a part of what they do that’s limited. Harmonically, he works within an area, and vocally he’s not prodigious, but then there’s a part of what he does – the lyrics – that’s completely unbound by anything. Lyrically, Suzanne is extravagant, incredibly luxurious. When we covered it, me and [singer/collaborator] Flo [Morrissey] talked about this: what is actually going on in this song? The ﬁrst verse is about Suzanne, the second about Jesus and the third is about Suzanne again. But who do you think Suzanne is? Is she beautiful? In the third verse she’s not a typical romantic song subject, among the garbage and
seaweed, wearing rags. What’s happened since the ﬁrst verse? Ultimately, for me, it’s a word picture. It’s some kind of intense physical and emotional meeting between two people. And what’s Jesus doing here, in his wooden tower? Leonard’s take on spirituality is one I really like. It’s loose, and it spreads over everything, including sexual relationships. In some people’s spiritual music there’s this sense of struggle, but I don’t think there is that with Leonard. Also, it’s his language. It makes sense for him to use King David and Jesus as characters. His language is so biblical, it’s part of what gives him that authority. He’s telling you how it is. He’s not discussing with you how it is. There’s a really good Thelonious Monk quote: “A genius is the one most like himself.” And I think this about Leonard Cohen: he is an incredibly well-crafted version of himself. How he intertwines humanism and spirituality and a carnal love of life on Earth and a fascination with death, it’s all so well done. And he lets himself be himself – not everyon does that. When I liste his records, I get the sense of them being intensely shaped by a unique hand.
bling the band, especially when you haven’t done it for almost 15 years, and in those early periods of assembling the band I guess I felt some reluctance that I had started the whole process, because it didn’t look like it was going to pan out very well. There was a great anxiety about whether we had a show. And my voice,” he laughed. “Well my voice was the least of my worries. I’ve never thought of my voice as a ﬁne or a delicate instrument; I’ve never thought of myself as a singer.” But ﬁnally he said he was ready. He asked Kory, now his manager, to set up a “pre-tour tour” – 18 small, low-key venues in Canada, to give him a chance to fail miserably away from the eyes of the world. The ﬁrst show was in Fredericton, New Brunswick on May 11, 2008 in a 700-seat venue. Standing in the wings in his sharp suit, fedora and shiny shoes, his new uniform, Cohen took off his hat, bowed his head and said a little prayer. Putting it back on, he stepped on-stage for the ﬁrst time in a decade and a half. The applause was deafening. The whole place was on its feet. No one had played a note but the ovation just kept going. And when the music started and Cohen sang in a voice that was now several fathoms below sea level, you could hear a pin drop, such was the attention and devotion. The ofﬁcial tour started in June in Toronto – 3,000 seats, sold out. This time Cohen skipped on stage, literally, welcomed again tanding ovation. The Toronto Starr described it as “a lovea description applicable to all the concerts. Within weeks ey were playing to 100,000 at Glastonbury. As the tour continued, new bookings kept coming – an ntense schedule that would put a young band to shame. ohen was playing night after night, for three hours or ore, plus two-hour soundchecks; that perfectionism of his ver went away. “Everybody was rehearsed not only in the s but also in something unspoken,” said Cohen. “You could feel it in the dressing room as you moved closer to the concert, the sense of commitment, tangible in the room.” The audiences were the biggest and most age-diverse of his career, right around the
problems meant no more dancing on- and off-stage or falling to his knees. In the words of a man who liked to wear a uniform, he was “conﬁned to barracks”. But still working. “Time speeds up the closer it gets to the end of the reel,” he told me. “You don’t feel like wasting time.” October 21, 2016, a month after his 82nd birthday, Cohen released You Want It Darker. It was his third studio album in ﬁve years – astounding, given that there had been only 11 in the three and a half decades before the comeback tour. And miraculous, given the deterioration of Cohen’s health. Unable to use the studio above the garage where he’d UTUMN 2011. WE’RE IN recorded since Ten New Songs, it was Cohen’s modest house in Los made in the living room, Cohen sitAngeles, sitting at a wooden tating in an orthopaedic chair, ﬁghting ble in a small room with plain white through the fatigue. “Sometimes,” ADAM COHEN walls, listening on his computer to his said Adam Cohen, Leonard’s son and new album. Cohen’s eyes have been the album’s producer, “medical marclosed from start to end as if he were ijuana intervened and played a role. meditating. When I said I’d been watchAt times I was very worried about his ing him, wondering what was going through his health and the only thing that buoyed is spirits was the work itself.” mind, he said, “I was thinking of how it sounds. Listening for any false steps. But that wasn’t the “How do we produce work that touches case.” And if it were? “I’d have to take it back in he heart?” Cohen said, back in the ’90s. the studio.” That authenticity and perfectionism. We don’t want to live a superﬁcial life. We The album was Old Ideas (2012), his ﬁrst new want to be serious with each other with album in eight years. Despite the title – a wry ur friends, with our work. Serious has a reference to his songs having always explored the kind of voluptuous aspect to it. It is somesame themes – it had all new songs; two h d hing that we are deeply hungry for.” been premiered on tour. It was a wond His new album was a perfect example that such a pitiless judge of his own wo of that voluptuous seriousness. It was one of the richest, should have completed something to h deepest albums in a lifetime of rich, deep work. There’s no mistaking its urgency, intensity and darkness. Cohen satisfaction in such short time – an exten had a long practice of looking darkness in the eye. He sion of the length and focus of the tour? H aced death the same way. They’d come to some kind of pondered the question as if it had neve micable-enough agreement decades before. occurred to him. “I don’t really know, bu He had come to terms with growing old too. “I think it was a very devoted mode.” He said he ’s one of the most compassionate ways of saying goodbye missed the road, the routine, ritual and at the cosmos could devise,” he said. And age suited companionship, the feeling, as he put it im. The man in the suit and hat looked more of “full employment”. Before being t home with himself than the young Cohen forced back into action, “I had the feeling ver had. There were headlines in the papers that I was treading water – kind of quoting him saying, “I am ready to die” – between jobs, a bit at loose ends.” A big incentive nothing new from Leonard. But this time he for ﬁnishing the album was so that “I could put my decided to give a press conference in LA, band and the crew together. They keep writing me, sayomehow get up there and smile and say he ing, ‘Will we ever go out again?’” was going to live to 102. He said nothing They did. Another globe-spanning victory lap. Mor about the cancer. When I was writing new songs made their debut on-stage. In Decembe Cohen’s biography, a close friend from 2013, when the ﬁnal curtain fell, again he went straigh childhood, Mort Rosengarten, had deback to work. On his 80th birthday, just nine month scribed how, even when suffering acute later, he released another new album, Popular Problem bouts of depression, Leonard “wasn’t a (2014), which he described as setting “a new tone an whiny depressive, he didn’t complain.” In speed of hope and despair, grief and joy”. It was les the e-mail I got from Leonard around ﬁve weeks before his death, soft-focused than Old Ideas, an album that many reviewers took as he mentioned that he was “a little under the weather”. I’d forgotten his farewell. They’d forgotten that Cohen was always talking about what a master of understatement he was. death and was always drawn to goodbyes. In his ﬁnal album, he sang himself back home. “Hineni,” he There was talk of another tour. He had planned to take up smoksang, “I am ready”, accompanied by the cantor and choir of Coning again at 80, he told me, before turning it into one of his stage gregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, the synagogue his great pieces, and was looking forward to sneaking behind the tour bus for grandfather founded, and in whose cemetery he would be buried a smoke. Those two tours, there really had been nothing like them: on November 10, in a private ceremony, next to his parents. the hushed silence of the audience, that enormous wave of love, the In LA, Cohen was working until the day before he died: a new sheer, unwavering quality of the performances. Among the biggestcollection of poems, more than 50 of them done, and songs for a grossing tours of their time, they resulted in four live albums, Live In London (2009), Live In Dublin (2014), Songs From The Road new album. The champion of the cracked and broken, one of the (2010) and Can’t Forget: A Souvenir Of The Grand Tour (2015). great poets and songwriters of our time, a one-off, irreplaceable, he The demand was there, but his body wouldn’t allow it. Spinal died with his boots on, and left us so much. M
world, each show a sell-out, every show a triumph. “Once you get the hang of it,” Cohen had said of the monastic life, “you go into ninth gear and kind of ﬂoat through it all.” The parameters of this life on the road gave him a kind of freedom. The bowing and the falling to his knees satisﬁed a sense of rite and service that was rooted deep in him. More than one reviewer likened them to religious gatherings, even a papal visit. It was December 2010 now, the end of one of the most remarkable comeback tours ever, and here he was, 76, a rat pack rabbi, still sharp at the edges. He’d picked himself up, dusted himself off and by his own hard work reﬁlled his coffers and more.
“The only thing that buoyed his spirits was the work itself.”
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Ozzy Osbourne on-stage in 1975, the year Black Sabbath began to fall apart the first time around. â€œI was finished,â€? reflects the singer today.
Laurens Van Houten/Frank White Photo Agency
Tony Iommi thinks the white suits were a publicity wheeze on the band’s next Whisky booking, in October 1971. Alice Cooper? He looks doubtful. “On that ﬁrst American tour,r we did play with Mountain, and R Rod Stewart. It was all very different.” He laughs. “Suddenly we had groupies. We’d never experienced that before. We really liked it here.” Ozzy Osbourne, meanwhile, disputes supporting Alice Cooper, and certainly doesn’t recall being rude to Al Jardine. Considering Black Sabbath’s prevailing mindset at the time, however, he admits it’s a possibility. The Aquarian age was in its death throes, the ’60s’ love bubble fatally punctured by Manson and Altamont, and Black Sabbath were soundtracking the last rites. “Y’know, w (sings)‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a ﬂower in your hair…’?” Osbourne scoffs. “Fuck that ﬂower-power shit! We were livYou might as well be going to Mars. W ing in Birmingham, England. Pollution and pieand-chips. But I do distinctly remember we stayed at the R Regency Hyatt House. I could hear these sirens. I stood on the balcony,y about 10 74 MOJO
“It’s fascinating that the singer of the band that’s known for being so dark and so evil could be so loveable. When I think of Ozzy I think of the famous photo of him on a toilet with a cigarette in his hand, his pants around his ankles, having a drink and, on his bare knees, are tattoos of smiley faces (laughs). This is the man who sings Sabbath Bloody Sabbath! Ozzy’s personality and charisma shine through the darkness. His singing voice is very distinctive. His signature sound is a doubled vocal. He sings the line once and then sings it again and
that creates the effect, almost like a phase or a ﬂange. When he sings the line the second time they match up perfectly – not something everyone can do. He has this laser, crystal tone that can cut through the incredibly heavy music behind him. Ozzy is a huge Beatles fan and the amount of melody he included in this dark music was incredible. This sweet outer layer for something so explosive and sinister. His twisted, demonic teenage smile and the hair and the acne – all these things were important. The ﬁrst time I heard Sabbath and saw a picture of them, I felt I knew them. I knew people exactly like them. Kurt [Cobain] really liked Ozzy. Growing up in a town like Aberdeen [in Washington state] and hearing a band like Black Sabbath – it’s a sweet release. Suddenly there’s something outside your small-town world you can relate to – when you can hear that alienation in someone else’s music. The ﬁrst Nirvana record, Bleach, which play on but I love, you to some of those song and it’s a guitar line, a bass line, a vocal and thundering drums. There’s a lot of Black Sabbath in that, for sur As told to Roy Wilkin
storeys up, and two cop cars pull this car over W and drag this guy out. I’m saying to Bill Ward, They must be making a movie… And it was fucking real! Then Warner Bros let us go to Disneyland.” He chuckles. “In the shortest amount of time, we’d gone from a jazz-blues band called Earth to this… thing. It happened so quickly.” The trio are in reﬂective mood. Thirty-six hours prior to meeting MOJO, Black Sabbath played their last ever North American show. In two days’ time they’ll be on-stage in Mexico City, before this valedictory tour, dubbed The End – which began in January 2016 – heads to South America for shows in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Thereafter, Sabbath’s long goodbye will conclude in Januar y 2017 for a last sweep through Ireland and the UK, culminating with two nights in Birmingham. All farewells are bittersweet, and for Black Sabbath especially so: Butler,r Iommi and Osbourne will close the book in the city where it all began, but without their Ward, fellow founding member, drummer Bill W who walked away from the reunited band in 2012, citing a contractual dispute. The lugubrious Butler becomes even more rueful at mention of the ﬁnal curtain. “I’m glad we’re going out at the top rather than just dragging it out until we’re playing at the local pub. That’s the sweet part. The bitter part is that it’s the end. The end of a lifetime. It would have been great if Bill had been with us. It would have been perfect. That’s the sad part.” Beverly Hills is a long way from Aston, the working-class area of Birmingham where the members of Black Sabbath grew up, life prospects deﬁned by the heavy metal thunder of the local steel works. Today you’re more likely to spot Ozzy Osbourne on Doheny Drive than Lozells Road. Osbourne lives here with his wife Sharon, as do their three children. Los Angeles is also home to Butler. Only Iommi ofﬁcially resides in Britain, but with Sabbath spending most of 2016 on tour, such notions feel academic. “I’ve got a nice place in England but we were ﬂying here all the time,” says Osbourne. Despite an ear infection (“Occupational hazard – fucking 49 years of fucking very loud music”), he seems in a chipper mood, sipping iced tea and looking trim. “Wherever my family go, I go.” Los Angeles has been the location for some pivotal episodes in the Black Sabbath psychodrama-cum-soap opera. On November 11, 2011, the original quartet assembled at the Whisky AGo-Go, exactly 41 years on from that debut
Chris Walter, Ross Halﬁn, Getty
N NOVEMBER 11, 1970, Black Sabbath played for the very first time in Los Angeles. The previous evening they had opened for Rod Stewart in New York, Y while in a week’s time they would begin four nights at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, supporting The James Gang. But November 11 was the ﬁrst of a two-sets, ﬁve-night stand at the Whisky A-Go-Go, crucible of the Southern California scene. Some sources cite Sabbath opening up for the Whisky’s latest stars, Alice Cooper, while others claim the band hired white tuxedos to mark the occasion. Today, in a Beverly Hills hotel a mile and a half from the fabled Sunset Strip venue, none of them remembers it that way. “We were all stoned out of our brains then,” smiles Geezer Butler, apologetically. “The only thing I really remember is one of The Beach Boys coming round to say ‘hello’. Al Jardine. We all hated The Beach Boys so we threw him out.”
Children of the grave: Black Sabbath today (from left)Butler, Osbourne and Iommi, La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, November 25, 2016.
E ALL LOOKED pretty different from Day One. Geezer was kind of into hippy stuff, so he’d turn up looking like that. Then, Ozzy would turn up wearing a tap around his neck so we didn’t exactly look like a normal band!” recalls Tony Iommi, reﬂecting on Black Sabbath’s formative phase. By the summer of ’68, the four future members of Sabbath had worked their way through several bands, with Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler ending up in aspiring psychedelic outﬁt Rare Breed while Tony Iommi and Bill Ward were in Carlisle-based Mythology. The latter disbanded when they were arrested for possession of cannabis resin in May ’68. Rare Breed’s split was down to simpler reasons. “We were shit!” says Ozzy. Despite the fact that Iommi had tormented him at school, it was the singer who suggested to Butler that they should recruit the guitarist and drummer Ward. “We went round to Tony’s house and saw Bill and told him we wanted him to join our band,” says Butler, who at the time has just switched from rhythm guitar to bass. “Bill said, ‘I don’t really do anything without Tony.’ So, I got a big barrel of hash out and he said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll do it then.’” Naming themselves the Polka Tulk Blues Band, the ﬂedgling outﬁt also included guitarist
Jimmy Phillips and saxophone player Alan ‘Acker’ Clarke (“They were Ozzy’s mates, basically,” explains Butler) and began looking for gigs. “Tony and Bill got us a gig up in Carlisle so we learnt 18 songs. They were all blues numbers because it was the easiest thing to play,” remembers Butler. Dubbed ‘The New, Exciting Group From Birmingham’ on the ad (which also promised the audience ‘non-stop dancing’), the six-piece played The County Ballroom in Carlisle on Saturday, August 24, 1968. Despite their billing, the band – who soon jettisoned Phillips and Clarke – felt little afﬁnity with the fertile Midlands scene from which they’d sprung. “There were bands like The Move and The Moody Blues and Spencer Davis too, and they were always talked about in Birmingham, but I wouldn’t say we looked up to them,” says Iommi. “I think we always felt kind of outside of what they did.” If anything, the newly formed outﬁt were part of a new, heavier breed of bands who frequented Henry’s Blu Simpson’s Tuesday nig blues night upstairs at T on the corner of Station Street and Hill Street in central Brum. Osbourne and Iommi convinced Simpson to allow their band – now named Earth – to play a brief set during an inte which he agreed to ma would continue to do s
Simpson secu y supporting Ten Years After and Jethro Tull – the latter sufﬁciently impressed by what they saw to poach Iommi for a brief spell (see MOJO 235 for the full story). After witnessing Tull’s professionalism, and appearing with them in The Rolling Stones’ Rock’n’Roll Circus ﬁlm, Iommi soon returned to Earth with a renewed sense of purpose, while a gruelling residency at Hamburg’s Star-Club in June 1969 proved key. o things differently, s,” conﬁrms Iommi. ght us how to work more closely as a band.” In his quest to help arth ﬁnd suitable material, Simpson introduced them to Norman Haines, who o songs: the of The Rebel, which st, and the heavier, Came Down, recorded Zella Studios on Neither were ofﬁcially cetate of the latter ms that the band had a ﬁnal name change. ere up and running…
Getty (2), Alamy
Deep excavations: (main pic) Osbourne and Iommi get the blues as Earth rock the Star-Club, Hamburg, August 1969; (inset) Black Sabbath one year later, at Plumpton Racecourse, East Sussex.
LA gig, to announce a reunion to play live and make an album – a notable occasion, not least for the fact that just 12 months previously Osbourne and Iommi had been antagonists in a federal law suit over the rights to Black Sabbath’s name. The album, produced by Rick Rubin, was to have been the ﬁrst by the original line-up since 1978’s Never Say Die!, but Ward’s exit prior to recording put paid to the great reconciliation project. Ironically, Sabbath are now facing The End because of Iommi, the only original member never to leave, and his ongoing treatment for cancer. “My illness has changed my life a lot,” he says, “and my attitude. When I was going through my treatment, I didn’t think I was going to last, I had stage three lymphoma. That album, 13, was going to be it. It was after the 11/11/11 announcement that I found out about the cancer. So I wanted to get things going quick. And Bill wanted to take longer. Bill seemed to think he was getting a bad deal. We never dealt with that, we left all that to management. We just wanted to play together and enjoy it. We were playing with Bill for a bit and then he never turned up. I thought, What’s going on? It would have been nicer to have Bill with us but unfortunately it never happened.” Ward’s health has been an issue in the past – he suffered a heart attack in 1998 during rehearsals for the original Sabbath line-up’s ﬁrst reunion tour – but history suggests this is simply business as usual for a band with enough former members to ﬁll two 11-a-side football teams. The endemic instability began once Sabbath’s extraordinary run of success in the ’70s blew itself out amid creative ennui and chronic drug abuse. Osbourne left in late 1977, then rejoined early the following year, refusing to sing material the others had written in his absence. A year later, after a fractious tour behind the lacklustre Never Say Die! and struggling to muster material for a follow-up, the classic Black Sabbath formation fractured, numbed by drugs in a Bel Air mansion. Ward was dispatched to deliver his old drinking pal the coup de grâce. “I’d lost my way,” Ozzy says. “When they ﬁred me, I wasn’t doing anything. We’d been ripped off by managers, ripped off by lawyers, and I just thought, We’re only doing this to pay the fucking bills and buy drugs. It was just a bad time.” He brightens suddenly. “I said to Bill Ward one day, quite a while ago now: ‘You know what, we got ripped off Bill, but our lives were forever changed for the better.’ We came from a fucking hole – Aston. I could never hold a job down, being in a band was a way of getting out of England, driving round Europe and having fun with the lads, getting a few beers and a few joints. Not much fun in Lozells Road. One thing I will say: the ﬁrst 10 years of Black Sabbath, the original four, was pretty incredible.” Black Sabbath’s ﬁrst ﬁve albums – Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master Of Reality, Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – are arguably as potent a sequence of work as any in rock. Indeed, rock would be fundamentally unrecognisable without Sabbath’s DNA. They obviously begat heavy metal, but their wired, doomy primitivism also preﬁgured punk and beyond (Joy Division; goth), leading to grunge, whose progenitors (Melvins, Green River) and commercial bulwarks (Soundgarden, Nirvana) imbibed Tony Iommi’s minimalist riff doctrine like dental root canals to
the soul. Sabbath have been covered by denizens of every hard rock sub-strata imaginable, but also legions of the unexpected: Frank Zappa, the Butthole Surfers, The Cardigans, Busta Rhymes, Arab Strap, and most recently soul man Charles Bradley, whose version of Changes Ozzy considers “fucking amazing”. Once The End is over, and the last war stories have been told, the songs will be all that remains. So this seems an apt moment to consider 10 of Black Sabbath’s best, songs that moved their story along and on which their reputation rests. “Oh God,” shudders Geezer when presented with MOJO’s list. Then the bassist looks thoughtful. “It’s weird how many people missed how good the songs were in Sabbath.” (from Black Sabbath, 1970)
t’s quite a statement to name a song fter your band, then make it the openng track on your debut album, in turn amed after the same eponymous song. ut Black Sabbath was equipped to houlder this weight of importance, as it resented several of its creators’ distinuishing features fully-formed. Most critically, the riff, a three-note theme that would reverberate through Sabbath legend: a tritone featuring the infamously eerie between-note interval known since medieval times as the Diabola in Musica. “As soon as we came up with that riff we thought, This is it – this is the way we’ve got to go,” says Iommi. Butler’s bass was both rhythmic undertow and instigator of melody. Ward’s drums had bludgeoning force and yet he also delivered looser ﬂourishes, a result of his early absorption in jazz, as well as the inﬂuence of Birmingham contemporaries like Trafﬁc’s Jim Capaldi and Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. Osbourne’s raw,
HE SONG FEATURED ONE OTHER element for which Sabbath would become notorious: references to Satan. The lyric was written by Osbourne, but thereafter this role was predominantly taken by Butler, whose fascination with the occult was explicitly referenced on another Black Sabbath album track, N.I.B. “That was supposed to be humorous,” says Butler, “about the devil falling in love. It wasn’t to be taken seriously.” As a teenager, Butler collected bibles, crosses and other Christian artefacts. He even had ambitions to be a priest, but felt out of step with institutional religion, initially over a trivial incident at mass when a nun mistook the long-haired youth for a girl. “I walked out,” he says. “I’d seen this is how the Catholic church is – if they’d take the piss out of me because of the way I looked then it isn’t for me.” Dismayed by the public’s misapprehension or exploitation of his sincere spiritual quests, Butler would continue to explore faith-based themes through his lyrics for Black Sabbath, most powerfully in After Forever from 1971’s Master Of Reality: “Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone/Open your eyes, just realise that he is the one.” “After Forever is the ultimate Christian song,” says Butler. “It was basically about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. My family are Irish and Northern Ireland was on the news, you’d see these people with efﬁgies of the Pope hanging on a rope. Coming from an Irish part of Birmingham and knowing all the IRA R songs, it was real.” Bewilderinglyy After Forever was assumed to be an anti-religious tract. Which suggests that 78 MOJO
Black Sabbath’s audience were confused by the multiple layers of ambiguous intent – or perhaps the riffs sounded just too damn evil to be anything other than the work of you know who. Either way,y this theme would recur. (from Black Sabbath, 1970)
“His is one of the most joyful and jubilant sounds and styles that there’s ever been. He’s inspired thousands if not millions of guitar players down the years by his use of saturation, distortion and timbre in a way that no other player had done before. To me, his playing is blissful and liberating too. In terms of his technical style, it took me years to work it out and to understand how he used a treble boost. Basically, he pushed harmonic saturation out of the tubes in his amp and created a new sound. That’s what makes him so
foundational as a guitar player. If you were referring to him in mythological terms, you’d describe him as one of those guys who created the universe. He always had a vision, and that continues to this day. The albums I always go back to are Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Sabotage is probably when they were trying to go a bit more mainstream. There’s even disco beats on there, but the arrangements are incredible. And the riffs too! But he is the man who wrote the riff bible! He’s the riffmeister general! Hole In The Sky is one of my favourite tracks. The lyrics are amazing and a counterpoint to the uplifting quality in Tony’s playing. Sabbath’s inﬂuence does go beyond metal for sure and, again, that’s down to that saturation in Tony’s sound. You can hear that in a band like [Seattle doom/drone outﬁt] Earth, who’ve deﬁnitely pushed the envelope. There’s also still a real sense that Sabbath are an underground band even if they’re playing huge arenas. That’s unique. Tony’s vibe is incredible, and the image too: the moustache, the cross, the story about him damaging his hand… He’s battled a lot. That’s just so inspirational to so many people, even beyond music.” As told to Phil Alexander
The second song on the debut album hinted at what Black Sabbath might have become, had the writing-scary-music-for-a-gag thing not gone so well. The band’s origins as a blues band are still very evident, both in Ozzy’s earnest harmonica wailing and the brisk tempo affording Ward plenty of scope to demonstrate his dexterity. “On The Wizard you can hear the blues roots morphing into something else,” says Butler. “Up until we wrote Black Sabbath it was all 12-bar blues, things like Knock On Wood and Crossroads. We used to rehearse in the community centre in Aston, jam for three hours and if something struck us as particularly good we’d put it together from there. The Wizard lyrics came from Tolkien – I was reading The Hobbit at the time.” All of which would have served the band perfectly well. As Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin were beginning to prove, there was substantial currency in loud blues-rock with escapist lyrics about elves and maidens. But by turning inwards and channelling the mundane horror of real life, Black Sabbath became a ver y different, revolutionary proposition. “My mum and dad put the ﬁrst album on the radiogram,” says Ozzy. “After hearing it, my father turns to me and goes: ‘May I ask you something son? Are you sure you’re just drinking the occasional beer?’ I went, Yes dad – what do you think? He said, ‘It’s a bit… strange.’” (from Paranoid, 1970)
amously intended as he second album’s itle track until their ecord company got ervous about possile connotations ith the previous ear’s Manson Famiy slayings, W War Pigs was coloured both by the blasted landscapes of inner city Birmingham and the turbulent political climate beyond. “Where we came from played a big part in the music,” says Iommi. “It was an industrial city. I worked in a factory. We had a lot of crime, a lot of gangs. The gangs used to hang around the old bombsites. I lived across the road from one. It was ﬂattened, all rubble.” Like the rainfall which opens Black Sabbath, War Pigs’ grim atmosphere was ampliﬁed by the use of a basic but powerful sound effect by producer Rodger Bain, who deployed an air-raid siren to accompany the song’s forbidding introductory passage, before a two-note Iommi detonation heralded Osbourne’s clarion delivery
Chris Walter, Barry Plummer (4)
baleful holler (“Oh no, no! Please God help me!”) was a blunt instrument that commanded attention. Combined with the opening rainfall and the spartan studio ambience, the lasting impression was of deeply unsettling morbidity. Bleak music for bleak times. “We had dreams of getting out of Aston but the band was something to do that gave us pleasure, that got us out of our misery,” says Butler. “The way the song Black Sabbath came about was I’d been to see King Crimson play Mars by Gustav Holst. Next day I was trying to play that on bass. It stuck in Tony’s head and he came out with the riff. I told Ozzy about seeing this thing looking through the window at me – this supernatural experience. He came out with the lyric: ‘What is this that stands before me?’” The song’s bleakness was also a product of expediency. Thus far, Sabbath’s original material had been rooted in 12-bar blues, and therefore not very original at all. Iommi and Butler were Hammer horror fans and decided to attempt an emulation of those ﬁlms’ atmosphere. Or, as Osbourne puts it: “We just decided to write scary music for a gag.” As soon as they played the song to an audience, Sabbath had the conﬁrmation they needed. “Black Sabbath was totally different to everything else that we’d done,” says Butler. “We didn’t realise how different and how good it was until the next gig at this little blues club in Lichﬁeld. The place went nuts when we played it. They put their drinks down and listened to us.”
Avenging angel: Ronnie James Dio fronts the post-Ozzy Sabbath, Southampton Gaumont, 1980.
SBOURNE’S SACKING in 1979 unleashed a 20-year-long blizzard of ego, drugs, death and Keystone Cops-style musical chairs. And while separately (and despite themselves) the Sabs and Ozzy entities would make some great music, they became much more uni-dimensionally heavy metal at a time when the genre’s tropes were beginning to calcify, to the point where, upon This Is Spinal Tap’s arrival in 1984 to send up the scene, many of the funnies (Stonehenge, the dwarves) were barely-altered cops from the real-life soap opera Sabbath and their former singer had become. Yet for Sabbath, life without Ozzy began promisingly. The Iommi, Ward and Butler rump could hardly have hoped for a better, or better-received, debut for their new singer – diminutive ex-Elf and Rainbow shrieker Ronnie James Dio – than Heaven And Hell (1980), where faster tempos and Dio’s verve and melody placed them ﬁrmly in the contemporary metal ﬁrmament. That said, Bill Ward, struggling with alcoholism and his bandmates’ bullying (they would regularly set the paralytic paradiddler on ﬁre), claims to have “no memory” of the recording, failed to ﬁnish the subsequent tour and was replaced by Vinny Appice. It was this conﬁguration that recorded the also-excellent Mob Rules (1981), shortly before splintering. “The whole thing fell apart for very silly reasons.” opined Iommi of this Indian Summer of Sabbath in his 2012 memoir, Iron Man. “We were
all acting like children.” Indeed to a Dio ﬂit in 1982, taking Appice with him. Ward, now sober, returned, but disastrously, ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan was tapped up. With an album to record at The Manor in Oxfordshire, Gillan claimed he would camp outside (Iommi: “I thought he was joking, but when I arrived I saw this marquee outside”) before wrecking Ward’s car on a go-kart circuit, inspiring the extremely silly opening song (Trashed) on the quasi-parodic, catastrophically mufﬂed Born Again (1983). But the tour was the nadir. There really was a ﬁbreglass Stonehenge and dwarves. At Reading Festival, Gillan couldn’t read his lyrics – bound into folders and laid at his feet – for the dry ice. Bill Ward tumbled off the wagon, and was replaced by Bev Bevan. At the end, the disillusioned Butler, with problems at home, departed. Meanwhile, Ozzy’s Sabbath hiatus had begun wretchedly. The singer had spent three months locked in his hotel with only alcohol and drugs for company, before manager Don Arden’s daughter Sharon plotted an unlikely career revival allied with Quiet Riot guitar whizzkid Randy Rhoads. Heavy, theatrical pop songs embroidered with Rho widdle powered 1980’s Blizzard Of Ozz, but trag would die on a tour promoting the Diary Of A Madman follow-up, when the light aircraft in which he was a passenger buzzed the Ozzy tour bus as a prank, clipped a wing a The blow ﬂoored Oz singer only grew as a dr
ates in the ’80s and his set-up oved reliably adept at spotting p-and-coming axemen (cf. Jake E ee, and, especially, the earthier Zakk ylde – excellent on 1988’s doubleatinum No Rest For The Wicked) and became equally renowned for ruthless personnel purges prompting bitter legal fallout (sacked rhythm section Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake later sued for writing royalties on Diary; Sharon retaliated by reissuing the CD in 2002 with re-recorded bass and drum parts). While business thrived, chaos ruled Osbourne’s private life, a notable incident being his 1982 arrest in San Antonio for urinating on a memorial for those who died at the Alamo. Making matters more farcical, he was wearing one of Sharon’s dresses; she’d hidden his clothes in a failed effort to keep him in his hotel room, away from intoxicants. Back in Sabs World, all was confusion. A search for singers, post-Gillan, had prompted dalliances with Ray Gillen, David Donato and Jeff Fenholt. Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes ended up on Seventh Star (1986), a record slated as an Iommi solo project until Don Arden insisted it retain the Sabbath name. The Eternal Idol (1987) was the ﬁrst of ﬁve albums to feature singer Tony ‘The Cat’ Martin, in stints either side of a brief return by Dio on the agreeably m-laden Dehumanizer m stool spun ev Bevan, Eric Singer, zy Powell, Vinny Appice (again) and Bobby Rondinelli took turns, while Butler was in, out, in and out again. Sabbath’s loss of mmed up by 1995’s ast studio album ) , produced by Ernie C etal outﬁt Body Count. h long since dropped Vertigo, and at a d that made Butler’s on look exciting, a with Osbourne was …
Chris Walter, Alamy, Getty, Neil Zlozower/Atlas Icons
Everyday madness: the solo Ozzy Osbourne rides the crazy train, Long Beach Arena, 1986; (inset above) with wife Sharon, 1982.
Cross wires: Tony Iommi and the Seventh Star Black Sabbath line-up, 1985, featuring the latest Ozzy substitute Glenn Hughes (far right).
of Butler’s anti-war message. It could have been so different, however, if Ozzy’s original lyrics had been used, along with the song’s previous title, Walpurgis – which, as Osbourne notes, “is, like, Christmas Day for Satanists.” With the nation’s hell-hounds already on Sabbath’s tail, references to casting priests into the ﬁre were vetoed. “So I had to rewrite the lyrics,” says Butler. “It’s about the Vietnam War. Britain was on the verge of being brought into it, there was protests in the street, all kinds of anti-Vietnam things going on. War is the real Satanism. Politicians are the real Satanists. That’s what I was trying to say.”
(from Paranoid, 1970)
What became Sabbath’s signature song began as a hasty afterthought. Due to their relentless touring schedule, the band weren’t overblessed with new material, so when Rodger Bain announced one more song was required, Iommi cooked up Paranoid in the time it took for his mates to go for a sandwich at a cafe near Island Studios in west London. Upon returning, Osbourne improvised a vocal melody, then Butler wrote lyrics on the spot. “In no more than 15 minutes it was done,” says Osbourne. “Most of our successful songs have come out of nowhere.” The lyrics, however, came directly from Butler’s personal experience of mental illness. “It was originally called ‘The Paranoid’. The song was about myself. I was getting really down, and gloomy, and dark – and the doctor said, ‘Go down the pub and have a pint, you’ll be all right.’ I said, I’ve tried that. ‘Well, go and have two pints then.’ So I was really in despair when I wrote those lyrics. They were true feelings. Of course, Ozzy didn’t have a clue what ‘paranoid’ meant.” Paranoid remains Black Sabbath’s only Top 20 single, peaking at Number 4 and enjoying a six-week stay in the Top 10 during the autumn of 1970. Being atypical of the band’s material probably broadened its appeal, and it takes pole position on The Ultimate Collection, the latest, touraccompanying Black Sabbath best-of. “Because of Paranoid, we attracted all these screaming teenage girls to shows,” says Iommi. “It was really peculiar. Then of course they’d hear the other songs and go, ‘What the fuck’s this?!’ We’ve played it from that day to this.” Formally, with its speed, simplicity and austere sonics, Paranoid also anticipated punk. Although posited as a riposte to metal’s indulgence, punk often differed merely in details of tribal aesthetics. US punks The Dickies had a minor 1979 hit with a version of Paranoid – and Butler conﬁrms the appreciation was mutual. “I really liked the Sex Pistols. Take away Johnny Rotten’s vocals and Never Mind The Bollocks is just a really heavy album. I used to love The Stranglers as well, especially their album Rattus Norvegicus.” In 1987, amid a period
of line-up instability that was breathless even for Sabbath during their Ozzy-less era, Tony Iommi recruited former Clash drummer Terry Chimes. “Terry said The Clash were all big Sabbath fans,” smiles Iommi. (from Paranoid, 1970)
Although subsequently riven by dispute and personnel ﬂuctuation, originally Black Sabbath were a paradigm of the rock band as mutually supportive entity. Few songs better exempliﬁed each member’s individual contribution selﬂessly serving the whole than Iron Man, where the music’s lumbering simulation of a tragi-heroic android belied its artistry. “Bill started playing this beat,” says Iommi, “and I had to create something in my mind – I thought, This sounds monstrous. Ozzy sang the riff. Which was perfect for Iron Man.” Osbourne also came up with the title, which sparked Butler to write a lyric inspired by the science ﬁction literature he was devouring en route to an ecological epiphany. “This guy travels time, sees what the Earth’s become and returns to warn everybody,” says Butler. “He’s blasted through this magnetic ﬁeld and gets put in a museum for people to stare at an
“For five seconds, it’s great”: Ozzy gets snowblind, 1971.
Exit music: Black Sabbath bring The End to Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires, November 26, 2016.
iron guy. They don’t realise he’s still got a functioning mind. Then he gets bitter at the way people are treating him. He gets his revenge on them eventually.” It seems fair to assume that Butler identiﬁes with the iron man. “Yes. Climate change was just starting to happen in the early ’70s. I was aware of all that stuff, but it wasn’t being talked about in the media, it was underground. You feel it when you’re a young kid. You feel your generation pulling away from the older generation. Being anti-war, antipollution, it was the way the world was starting to turn.” “That’s Geezer,” says Osbourne, admiringly. “I’d still be writing the fucking lyric now if it was me. ‘Now, what rhymes with ‘iron man’…?’” (from Master Of Reality, 1971)
Sired by Sweet Leaf: the Sabsindebted LPs by Beastie Boys and Butthole Surfers.
(from Vol. 4, 1972)
He totally inspired my generation: guys like Cliff Burton [Metallica bass player] and a whole pool of other musicians. Hearing tracks like Planet Caravan, War Pigs, After Forever or Sweet Leaf – especially the middle section – was a real revelation. That music impacted on us in such an emotional way. When it comes to his lyrics, Lester Bangs described Black Sabbath as the ﬁrst Roman Catholic rock band. That’s all Geezer, because he actually uses genuine religious themes. So many people missed that the ﬁrst time around. He’s a real master, so are you really surprised that he can play bass so well and be brilliant in another way? The fact that he’s a great lyricist isn’t exactly surprising. He’s probably an incredible painter, too. Playing with him and Sabbath, I learnt stuff on-stage and off-stage. Most of all, I learnt that you have to respect the music and let it breathe. On-stage I had a bass bin on one side of me and Tony’s stack on the other, and it was like being caught between thunder and ightning. To me, Sabbath nvented so much. And we owe them such a debt of gratitude for that. As told to Phil Alexander
he most surprisngly successful song n the Sabbath canon aside from Osourne’s voice, it eatures none of the and’s hallmark eleents – Changes was legacy of Vol. 4’s blizzard conditions. Picture the scene: at 3am in Bel Air, hazy with cocaine, Tony Iommi decides to try out the Du Pont mansion’s grand piano. “Which was weird,” says Ozzy, “’cos Tony can’t play piano.” Doubtless inspired by the expensive ambience, Iommi essayed a lilting motif redolent of an upscale hotel lounge act. “Ozzy came in,” he says, “and it was a bit like one of them shows where the singer leans on the piano. That was the ﬁrst thing I came up with. So we went into the studio. Geezer played the Mellotron for the strings. We had bloody Rick Wakeman down there and I thought, Fucking hell, here’s me playing the piano, he’s gonna think, ‘What’s that…?!’ Because I could only play that. But it worked. Ozzy came up with a really good melody line, Geezer wrote the lyrics and off we went.” Osbourne’s instinct for pure melody invariably furnished Sabbath with a guileless compassion that reached beyond the Stygian grind.
Ross Halﬁn (9), Chris Walter
est anyone accuse lack Sabbath of beng too clever for heir own good, hen it came to the eﬁnitive stoner rock nthem they didn’t ook beyond the deinitive stoner rock riff. Opening Master Of Reality, their third album and the last with Rodger Bain, Sweet Leaf has proved one of Sabbath’s most inﬂuential pieces of music, repurposed by the Butthole Surfers as Sweat Loaf, while future Sabbath producer Rick Rubin sampled the riff as the basis of the Beastie Boys’ Rhymin’ & Stealin’. “It was another great Iommi riff,” says Butler. “It’s a homage to my favourite pastime. We were all stoned, all the time, at that time. That’s Tony choking on his joint at the beginning. That song wrote itself.” Sonically, Master Of Reality represents the apotheosis of Sabbath’s stoner phase, with an allpervasively pliant sludginess: the result of Iommi tuning his guitar a half-step lower and then tuning the bottom string lower still, the so-called ‘dropped-D’ tuning that would later define grunge. By the time of 1972’s Vol. 4, however, the band’s chemical world had shifted from marijuana to cocaine, and from English grey to Californian gold. Renting a Bel Air mansion from the heir to the Du Pont plastics fortune, Sabbath hymned their new vision with Snowblind, a drug song every bit as exultant as Sweet Leaf, albeit with intimations of a ruinous comedown. “We went mad,” says Iommi.
“Geezer’s playing is the difference between seeing a black-andwhite Charlie Chaplin ﬁlm and then, once you’ve heard him, watching a full-blown colour extravaganza. He works up, down, inside and all over the music. In that respect he’s like John Entwistle. He doesn’t play a background instrument. Sometimes he plays counterpoint, but there’s always that power in everything he does. He’s loud in the mix, too, which explains why the sound of the band is so totally different from everyone else on those early albums.
“We were having a private plane ﬂy in with cocaine sealed in a big block. Unbelievable. But for us then it was a creative tool.” Having escaped from an industrial environment, the now successful band were cogs in a different kind of machine. Cocaine was a lubricant to keep Black Sabbath productive. “We needed something,” says Butler. “As soon as we ﬁnished a tour we’d be in the studio writing and recording another album. Then back out on tour. It was constant work. We never had any time away from each other. So to socialise with each other we’d do loads of dope. And it was good stuff! When we were doing Vol. 4 we had a big bowl of cocaine on the table. Ozzy accidentally pressed an alarm button and the police arrived. We had to throw the coke and marijuana down the toilet. ‘Keep ’em talking while we’re ﬂushing!’ They didn’t even come into the house in the end. So we wasted thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff just ’cos of bloody Ozzy.” Osbourne laughs. “It was fucking boiling in there and I thought this button must be the airconditioning. Fifteen fucking cop cars come screaming up! The illusion of cocaine – for ﬁve seconds it’s great. Then it gets a grip of your soul… It’s just bullshit.” “I’ll always remember getting back home, to Birmingham,” says Butler. “The comedown was horriﬁc. I couldn’t face anybody. Not my missus, none of my family. Couldn’t relate to anybody. All I wanted to do was to get some more coke. But cocaine just didn’t work in Birmingham like it did in Bel Air.”
HE RAPPROCHEMENT started with a retirement: Ozzy announcing his decision to call it a day with a two-night swan song at the Costa Mesa Paciﬁc Amphitheatre in California on November 14 and 15, 1992, three weeks before his 44th birthday. Sabbath were touring their Dehumanizer album with Ronnie James Dio when they were invited to open the shows and encore with the original line-up of Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward. “I’m not supporting a clown!” declared Dio, before ofﬁcially quitting the band on the eve of the shows. Rob Halford – himself having just left Judas Priest after two decades to form his ultra-metal outﬁt Fight – was drafted in as an emergency replacement. “I got a call from Sharon, who asked me if I’d do the show after they had complications with Ronnie,” he said, adding, “I’m not entering into any of Sabbath’s disputes.” In the end, the original Sabbath would not materialise ’til the second night. “Thank you for a fucking fantastic life!” declared Ozzy at the end of his solo set. Then, as an MTV VJ ﬁlled in, the singer changed into a ‘70s-style fringed outﬁt and re-emerged with his original bandmates for the ﬁrst time since their appearance at Live Aid in 1985. “We are Black Sabbath!” he bellowed triumphantly as the band launched into their signature tune. Fairies Wear Boots, Iron Man and Paranoid followed, and then they were gone…
Osbourne’s retirement proved short-lived, the singer returning with his Ozzmosis album in ’95 and taking to the road for the ‘Retirement Sucks’ tour. Iommi, meanwhile, had also attempted to make a solo record with Butler, drummer Bobby Rondinelli and singer Tony Martin. Echoing the machinations around ’86’s Seventh Star, label IRS insisted it should be released under the Sabbath name. Cross Purposes emerged in January 1994, but for Butler it proved the ﬁnal straw – for now. Osbourne, Iommi and Butler would reassemble as Black Sabbath to play the US Ozzfest in the summer of 1997, with Faith No More/Ozzy drummer Mike Bordin ﬁlling in for Ward who had his own touring commitment, Ward returning for two monumental hometown shows at the Birmingham NEC on December 4 and 5. Such was the success of those gigs that Sabbath booked more for the summer of ’98, only for Ward to suffer a heart attack while rehearsing at Monnow Valley Studios in Wales. Mob Rules veteran Vinny Appice stepped in. The subsequent Reunion album – recorded live at the NEC – include tracks, Psycho Man and the ﬁrst featuring Ward drum machine. Neither proved to be vintage Sabbath. “We didn’t really have anything we could use and we were trying too hard to create something,” reﬂected Iommi. As a
result, while further Ozzfest appearances would ensue (in 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2005), a new studio album with the original line-up was not forthcomng. Meanwhile, Osbourne resumed his solo career and ommi and Butler reunited with Dio under the banner of Heaven And Hell prior to the singer’s death from stomach cancer in May 2010. On November 11, 2011, after much speculation, Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward held a press conference at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Los Angeles and announced their reformation, the fact that they were working on a new album, and their intention to tour, but any thoughts that a Black Sabbath project could be straightforward would be swiftly confounded. In January 2012, Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma, curtailing a number of shows that had been booked for that year as he underwent treatment. The following month, in an emotional statement, Ward announced he would not be playing with the band, stating that he had only been asked to make a cursory appearance at the end of their g “complicated issues gendas” as well as the e contract” as reasons for his absence. The remaining three members of Sabbath forged on, recording the Rick Rubin-produced 13 album with Rage hine drummer Brad g out on tour once with Ozzy’s drummer . The announcement of n September 3, 2015 would not be rejoining at their ﬁnal show at enting Arena would be nale. As MOJO went to ill ofﬁcially the case…
Armistice day: Black Sabbath reunite at the Whisky A-Go-Go, November 11, 2011 (from left) Universal Republic CEO Monte Lipman, Bill Ward, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and producer Rick Rubin.
But Changes really was something else. “For melody, it’s The Beatles,” Osbourne shrugs. “I remember as if it was fucking yesterday, I had a light blue transistor radio, walking down Witton Road in Aston and this song came on – She Loves You. It fucking turned my head. I was only 13, and I knew from then on I was either gonna be a criminal or in a band! I’ve never written anything like Changes before or since.”
as a result of his misfortune is beyond doubt. “I had no option, I had to come up with something,” he says. “I couldn’t play a full chord like I could before, so I thought I’ve got to make it sound big… I tried all different things: letting the bottom E ring, putting a bit of vibrato on the chords. I made a set of light gauge strings so I could practise, ’cos it hurt my ﬁngers otherwise. I made caps for my ﬁngertips. It developed the sound we had and the way we played. It sort of worked – we’re still here.”
(from Vol. 4, 1972) (from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1973)
This funked up riff vortex – “another cocaine euphoria song,” conﬁrms Butler – is arguably the most contentious absentee from the new compilation. “Don’t ask me,” says Osbourne, staring at a copy of The Ultimate Collection, “I don’t fucking do these things!” “I think Bill might have started that one,” says Iommi. “That was Frank Zappa’s favourite Sabbath song.” It was also the favourite of John Bonham, who once actually sat in while the band jammed Supernaut. Iommi chose the Led Zeppelin drummer as best man at his wedding, a cavalier appointment given Bonham’s predilection for drinking and fast cars. Indeed, it seems miraculous that no one died inbetween the stag night – Bonham drank 12 bottles of champagne in a row and had to be taken home by the groom – and next day’s ceremony, where Iommi’s guests kept disappearing outside, much to the puzzlement of his new mother-in-law. Osbourne remembers it fondly. “One side of the church was all gakked up and the other side were all, ‘What’s wrong with them?’ It was half a white wedding! Tony had married this high-class woman, and at his house for the reception Bonham was like, ‘Ah (rubs hands together) here comes the champagne…’ It was apple juice! Bonham went, ‘FUCKING APPLE JUICE! WHAT KIND OF FUCKING WEDDING IS THIS?!’ Tony knew if he’d served champagne they’d have been stealing shit from him, punch-ups on the lawn… It was nuts.”
y the time of 1973’s Sabbath Bloody abbath and 1975’s Sabotage, Sabbath’s nternal dynamic was fraying. Their rug intake, once a creative spur, was ow an impediment, while their relaionship with manager Patrick Meehan issolved into bitter litigation. The tress nonetheless inspired some of the ost remarkable music of the band’s career, particularly on the former record, where Killing Yourself To Live, a gargantuan display of Iommi’s riff abundance, simmered with self-loathing. “We realised we’d been ripped off,” says Butler. “We’d done all these tours and massive albums, and the manager had nicked all the money. Once we’d come off the drugs we realised something was seriously wrong with the business side. That’s when the lyrics started getting more reality-based, like Killing Yourself To Live.”
(from Vol. 4, 1972)
During their sojourns in Los Angeles, the band frequented the hippy enclave at Laguna Beach, famed for associations with Timothy Leary and Orange Sunshine LSD. “One time we were all on acid, sitting on the beach, watching the sun come up,” says Butler. “Just a magical experience.” Hence one of the instrumental interludes that featured on every Sabbath album from the outset, but which with Vol. 4’s Laguna Sunrise became more fully-ﬂedged compositions, with orchestral embellishment. These were showcases for Iommi’s abilities on acoustic guitar and, as such, tributes to one of his heroes, Django Reinhardt, whose forbearance in adapting his playing style to overcome disability inspired the 17-year-old Tony to do likewise after he lost two ﬁngertips on his right hand in an industrial accident. That Iommi’s distinctive style evolved
That’s all, folks: Butler, Osbourne and Iommi laugh in the face of the final curtain.
¢ 86 MOJO
eyes out because it was the end of an era,” says Butler. “And I felt sorry for Ozzy because he was so out of it, I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again. Luckily for him, Sharon came along. She saved his life.”
“My uncle had all the Sabbath records, but I didn’t grow to really appreciate them until I was an early teenager. My brother was big on them as well. Paranoid was the ﬁrst one we had, then Master Of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – big records in my world. Bill Ward’s an incredibly awesome drummer. They’re a fairly precise band but he’s really loose. He brings the swing and swagger. He has one of the all-time greatest single-hit drum ﬁlls, in the intro to Fairies Wear Boots. He goes from these frantic ﬁlls and breaks it down to a single hit. It makes that intro ultra powerful. He’s probably as
good, if not better, when he’s doing his triplet ﬁlls. I think Bill is right there with John Bonham, the kings of the triplet. He’s a jazz drummer playing hard rock. That’s the cool thing about a lot of the drummers that came up in the ’60s – they’re inventing a rock style but it’s rooted in jazz feel, and that got lost in the ’70s, everything becomes more plodding. On the early Sabbath records, Bill Ward was playing a drum kit that had one rack tom, one ﬂoor tom and some cymbals. And that’s where he was swinging the most, utilising the sm was a jazz set-up. Those early recor raw, nothing’s over-p fancy, they don’t step punk rock ethics. The nothing pretentious Black Sabbath that ge in the way of the mus All the bands in Seatt gravitated towards Sabbath. It didn’t matter if you liked punk rock or whatever – they’re just great, timeless hard rock records. Yo can’t deny the power of the Sabbath.” As told to Kei Camero
LMOST 40 YEARS ON FROM Sabbath’s traumatic rupture, the saving of life preoccupies one band member in particular. Upon completion of the South American leg of The End Tour, Tony Iommi will once again go under the surgeon’s knife. The oncologist treating his cancer retired earlier in 2016, and his new doctor decided he should undergo a fresh PET scan. Nothing of the original cancer remains, but the scan found new activity in his throat. “So they’re going to cut it off and test it, to see if it’s cancerous,” he says. “But this new guy, he’s really thorough, so that’s what I like.” Assuming Iommi’s latest treatment prompts no dire prognosis, Black Sabbath will play their last gig on February 4, 2017, at Birmingham’s Genting Arena. But will it really be the last? 2013’s 13 album suggested a band reviviﬁed, and its Number 1 chart placing – Sabbath’s ﬁrst since Paranoid in 1970 – was proof, were any more needed, of the public’s appetite. An EP of outtakes from the 13 sessions is available to buy at these ﬁnal shows, with the anti-war anthem Season Of The Dead, halcyon-era bludgeon in the vein of Into The Void, perhaps the best Ozzysung Black Sabbath song in 40 years. Tellingly, only Osbourne, the one member of Black Sabbath to enjoy a successful solo career, is adamant: “It’s not one of those bullshit retirements – this is it. I’m not stopping, but for Sabbath it’s over.” Geezer Butler seems more torn. “It would be nice to do one-offs. We’ve got the 50th anniversary coming up soon! You do just have to say, ‘This is the last one.’ Be nice to do something for the 50th though. A one-off. If we’re still here…” Tony Iommi arches an eyebrow. “Who knows? There might be a one-off, but we won’t be touring again. It really will be strange. I’ve lived this since day one. Ozzy had his own thing, Geezer’s come and gone, Bill’s come and gone, but I’ve been there all the time. I hope we can do something in future, a recording or something. We’ll see.” For Ozzy Osbourne, meanwhile, the dispute with Bill Ward still gnaws away. “At some point I wanna call him. I still love him, he’s still my brother, but you have arguments. To be honest , I don’t know what the fuck hapd. Because I don’t do the business of it. I’m sorry Bill couldn’t work mething out, I really am. I’m really ad we did this tour. I don’t know how l feel at the last show in Birmingham – I hope I can fucking sing, that’s for sure.” He laughs. “It’s kinda weird, cos to me, the world needs Black Sabth! But I’m blessed with the life I’ve d, from where I come from.” John Michael Osbourne gets to his t and offers a farewell handshake. “I ain’t got no complaints.” M
Ross Halﬁn, Chris Walter
Sabotage, meanwhile, is the sound of Black Sabbath on the verge of coming apart, just holding ﬁrm for one ﬁnal desperate scream. It was all laid bare on The Writ, the album’s intense epic closer – the last great song of the Ozzy era. “Sabotage was all about us getting sued,” says Butler. “It took us 10 months to make. Ozzy wasn’t really into it, I was thinking of going solo. It was starting to splinter. I’d always thought there was this pot of money, and there wasn’t. People would say, ‘How come he hasn’t bought his mum and dad a new house?’ Because I’ve got no money! Sabotage was the reality album.” Reality, however, was slipping away from Ozzy Osbourne. With a counter-intuitively prominent use of Moog, Am I Going Insane (Radio) was written by the singer, and its lyric – “If I don’t sound very cheerful/I think that I’m a schizophrenic” – spoke baldly of his state of mind. In the unlikelihood that his drooling delivery failed to convey Osbourne’s slide into full-on Syd Barrett territory, the title appended the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘mental’: a bleakly humorous emphasis. “Ozzy was losing hope,” says Butler. The two subsequent albums, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!, afﬁrmed that Black Sabbath needed a functional Ozzy Osbourne for their weird chemistry to work. And on 1978’s marathon world tour in support of the latter album, with Sabbath fatefully supported by Van Halen, Osbourne was barely present, let alone functional. “He was out of his brains all the time,” says Butler. “Ozzy totally lost the plot. He thought that Van Halen were ripping us off every night – which they were. Eventually Van Halen were going down incredibly well and we were losing faith in ourselves. The record company didn’t want to know us any more. You’d say ‘Hello’ to the guy from Warner Bros who’d been working with us for years, and he’d say, ‘I’m not here to see you.’ “So it was everything at once. Trying to manage ourselves, which we couldn’t do. Not knowing where any of the money was going. Being ignored by the record company. We either split then or something had to happen. That something was Ozzy.” Osbourne didn’t take it well. “I was ﬁnished. Staying at Le Parc Hotel on West Knoll, I would just order booze and drugs and have sluts round. That was the end of me.” His erstwhile friends and bandmates were distraught. “I went onto the lawn and cried my
YOUR GUIDE TO THE MONTH’S BEST MUSIC. EDITED BY JENNY BULLEY
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Book of revelations With a cast of friends led by Steve Gunn, Leeds’ accidental guitar hero sounds strong in the face of oncoming doom, says Andrew Male. Illustration by Chris Nurse.
PARADISE OF BACHELORS. CD/DL/LP
ichael Chapman always knew something was coming. Threaded through the young man songs of travel and romance on his first studio album, Rainmaker, recorded in 1969 when the Leeds-born singer-guitarist was 27, were prophetic images of rust and ruin, stones in the pockets and calamitous weather. Similarly, while Chapman’s acoustic guitar could start out sparkling, that harmonic hollow-body hum could easily slip into discord. These intimations of apocalypse weren’t exactly the blues or folk, although Chapman close-studied LPs by electric belters Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Big Bill Broonzy; and played alongside Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, and John Renbourn at Cornwall’s Count House and Folk Cottage. And while Chapman certainly pushed the boundaries of the early-’70s singer-songwriter form, there was an observational longing to his songs, a detached egoless drift that often invested his music with a decentred ghostliness, placing him at one existential remove from more cocksure fellow travellers such as Roy Harper and John Martyn. Down the years, Chapman’s unique sound influenced the greats. The greats paid him back in strange ways. David Bowie, whose Hunky Doryy sound and vocal approach owed much to Chapman’s 1970 LP Fully Qualified Survivor, borrowed Chapman’s guitarist, Mick Ronson, and never returned him. Elton John, who wanted Chapman as his guitarist, instead cadged his producer, Gus Dudgeon, as well as …Survivor’s BACK STORY: string arranger Paul Buckmaster. DEITY OF Chapman, meanwhile, remained in THE DALES G In the past 10 years Yorkshire. Chapman has accrued Fortunes shifted. The ’80s were an enviable list of tough on Chapman, capped by a testimonials from the heart attack in 1990. Meanwhile, alt-rock crowd. 50 producer and co-guitarist his intimations of apocalypse began Steve Gunn says, “His to influence a new, more generous endless drive and unique crowd. Thurston Moore cites voice serve as a model of what it means to be an Chapman’s 1973 album, Millstone artist,” while William Tyler Grit, as a root influence on Sonic regards him as “a titanic Youth and, at the end of the ’90s, guitar picker and an heroic and inspiring personality,” a decade spent rebuilding a However, it’s Thurston reputation lost in the ’80s, US gigs Moore who goes further saw Chapman fall in with the East still, saying, “He shreds on acoustic guitar the way Coast avant-guitar crowd, including Kandinsky wails with a Pelt’s Jack Rose and Nathan Bowles, paintbrush,” and “that The No-Neck Blues Band, and sound [Chapman achieved] on 1972’s guitarist Steve Gunn, musicians Millstone M Grit, it could who heard the phantoms in possibly be the first sort of Chapman’s music and brought hollow-body feedback on them to the surface. Rose died in record I know of. It’s a sound I’ve always been late 2009, and it was at a tribute using when I do noise concert for him in 2010 that Moore improvisation.” encouraged Chapman to make a
KEY TRACKS G G G
Memphis In Winter Rosh Pina Navigation
"HERE IS A MAN CLOSER TO THE END THAN THE BEGINNING, HAUNTED BY MEMORIES AND AUGURIES."
noise album, and Gunn first had the idea of recording an “American” album with Chapman. The noise LP became 2011’s revelatory The Resurrection And Revenge Of The Clayton Peacock, while the full band album took a little longer. Recorded with Gunn and Bowles, plus guitarist James Elkington, bassist Jimy SeiTang, and Chapman’s long-time friend, ’70s folk legend Bridget St John, at the No-Necks’ Black Dirt Studio in upstate New York, 50 is the first ‘full band’ Chapman LP since 1978’s major label farewell, Life On The Ceiling. It’s also a document of time elapsed since then, a time of hardship, obscurity, recovery, hard travel, perseverance and resurrection. Alongside three new compositions, and a hauntingly sad reworking of That Time Of Night (previously covered by Lucinda Williams), 50 includes reinterpretations of six relatively obscure Chapman numbers – previously released on cassettes and small labels in the ’90s and noughties. Opening track Spanish Incident (Ramón And Durango) sets the mood, with our narrator drinking “rough red wine” in a Basque roadside bar as “the heat rises just like Lazarus”. Nathan Bowles’ bright banjo and backing vocals from St John fill the scene with mountain-side colour yet the feeling remains of something dreadful and unavoidable approaching. That sense of foreboding is also present in Sometimes You Just Drive, a motoring new number inspired by the winter 2015 flooding of Carlisle, Chapman praying to God to make the rain stop before it comes through his door, because “I’m still waiting on my reward”. Elsewhere, on the chilling Memphis In Winter, Chapman’s dancing Fahey-esque guitar and gravelly intonation pull us into a Bluff City hell “out past the end of nowhere”, very possibly populated by the devil himself. Yet alongside the album’s end-of-days feel there is also a valedictory mood, the sense that, as with Blackstar and You Want It Darker, here is a man closer to the end than the beginning, haunted by memories and auguries, and communicating something of their uncanny twilight power. Two of the album’s most impressive moments come with a pair of deeply sad love songs, Falling From Grace and The Mallard, in which Chapman looks back on old flames with a sense of loss and regret. However, the playing on both tracks also suggests a reconciliatory warmth as if, between the darker time of their writing and this new reworking, Chapman has arrived at a wise epiphany. In fact, the more you listen to 50, the more you realise Chapman’s resonant, deep-toned playing, the intricate circling support from Gunn and co, and the hovering warmth of St John’s backing vocals are offering an entirely different path to those on offer in Chapman’s apocalyptic lyrics. Fittingly, the album’s final track, Navigation, finds Chapman lost in the night. A river blocks his path, the bridge is down, and he is too old to find his way home via the stars. On the original 1997 version Chapman sounded smothered, lost, wanting to go further but unable. This time around, preceded by beatific new instrumental Rosh Pina, bathed in the plangent harmonics of triple guitars, backed by Bridget St John’s deliciously whispered vocals, Michael Chapman sounds just fine exactly where he is, deep in the knowledge of what is coming, but finally aware of how far he’s come.
Burn Something Beautiful Y ROPER. CD/DL/LP FANTASY/P
One of many reasons not to build a wall between the US and Mexico. The son of Mexican immigrants to Texas, Alejandro Escovedo, now almost 66, still has audible charisma and impeccable rock’n’roll credentials. His first solo album in four years was co-written with Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5, and the pair also produced Burn Something Beautiful,l a bold and celebratory affair with shades of Transatlantic glam and Willy DeVille’s tarnished sass. Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Decemberists drummer John Moen are among the other guests who catch Escovedo’s fire on stand-outs such as Thought I’d Let You Know and J h V l e. But it’s mini stre Beauty Of Y parts New Y part Jad Fai storms you safe way ho made of lig Escovedo, c his glamoro transit acro
the pair to venture into the studio together. This longawaited collaboration has been worth the wait, allowing both musicians to venture into musical territory that is not necessarily their natural habitat. Mehldau sounds at home on folksy rambles like Tallahassee Junction while Thile imbues the jazz standard I Cover The Waterfront with a desolate tone, his plaintive vocals accompanied by suspenseful mandolin tremolos. Elsewhere, the pair conjure up a tremendous version of Gillian Welch’s Scarlet Town, revive Elliott Smith’s Independence Day as a skeletal piano/mandolin duet and transform Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right into a jaunty ragtime romp. Charles Waring
moment, underlined by a pulsing cover of George Harrison’s Govinda. The version of the Grease soundtrack makes perfect sense: this record feels like the time, the place, the motion. The way they are feeling. Victoria Segal
and flexing, Carter is usually best experienced live; a redheaded Rollins. On the Morricone-inspired Vampires he sounds as Alex Turner might had he hung out in tattoo parlours, and Wild Flowers swaps any residual rage for melody and a strong noir aesthetic. The sub-60 seconds of Jackals reminds that hardcore is all about economy, and the howling title track easily matches the grit and bluster of QOTSA or The Bronx. Ben Myers
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Modern Ruin DEATH CULT/KLS. CD/DL/LP
Flo Morrissey And Matthew E White
Eclectic covers album from simpatico duo.
Second album of heavilyinked UK hard rock.
Never willing to get too comfortable in a niche, Frank Carter is one of the few distinguishable figures in the rock scene. While his exit from provincial punk brutalists Gallows saw a diversion into radio rock with Pure Love, his hastily assembled 2015 comeback with The Rattlesnakes offered a galvanised rush of energy. This follow-up is more considered, though occasionally suffers
Occult Architecture Vol. 1
SACRED BONES. CD/DL/LP
The don of post-millennial psych-rock in peak form. Approximately 10 albums into Ripley Johnson’s career, this West Coast drone-meister, also of Wooden Shjips, has his influences carved in stone – the Velvets’ Sister Ray, Neu!, Spacemen 3, JAMC, a dash of s e ero-
Chris Th Brad Me NONESUCH. CD/DL/LP
Two Grammy winners combine their considerable talents. Nickel Creek and mando Chris Thile f played with pianist Meh live in Lond during the latter’s Wigmore H residency in 2011, but it’ taken anoth five years fo
The Pace Of The Passing ISLAND. CD/DL/LP
By gum: Ed Nash, bassist from Bombay Bicycle Club, steps out alone. Before taking an indefinite break at the start of 2016, Bombay Bicycle Club were one of those bands who constantly seemed to be on the brink of bursting their indie banks, but never quite swept anyone away. Toothless, the project of bassist Ed Nash, initially appears to succeed where they failed: opening track Charon swarms with ideas, the pastoral pollen of Donovan, Richard Davies and XTC stuck on its buzzy wings. The intrigue continues with the busy Grizzly Bear chime of Sisyphus and Alright Alright Alright’s Lush-style dreampop, while guest vocals from Marika Hackman and Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming add some exterior life. Yet The Pass Of The Passing is, ultimately, oddly inscrutable, a musical ghosting, its seductive, meticulous textures – acoustic wisps and Slowdive sighs on The Sun’s Midlife Crisis, Flaming Lips drums on Party For Two – elegant compensation for the lack of a strong centre. Victoria Segal
Ty Segall DRAG CITY. CD/DL/LP
mid mo out e h
Ty Segall nic wn,
nd g, his
Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
s ’s to e es still, de iff, a ndel top ms. drew Perry Muscle memory: Frank Carter returns.
Ever-busy Anglophile rocker’s latest long-player comes loaded for retropop kicks. Last heard giving his inner punk a Black Flagstyle thrashing with hardcore crew Gøggs, Ty Garrett Segall’s ninth solo album finds him back on far less aggressive form. Still grounding his sound in the fertile topsoil of the late 1960s and early ’70s, he weaves hard rock, psych, glam and pop into a vibrant patchwork whirl that borrows liberally from the likes of Marc Bolan and The Beatles, David Bowie and Big Star. Stuntplane solos and chunky riffs electrifying Break A Guitar and The Only One, while elsewhere acoustic cues and minor-key mellowness hold sway across Orange Color Queen, Papers and Take Care (To Comb Your Hair). With Segall’s magic touch shining brightly throughout, this eponymous offering once again demonstrates his effortless, and seemingly innate, ability to make the familiar feel fresh and enticing. Andrew Carden
“It felt like a family holiday” Jamie xx speaks to Tom Doyle. You made this album in New York, Reykjavik, Los Angeles, Marfa (Texas), as well as London. “We basically didn’t have any idea of what we wanted it to sound like, but we knew that we wanted to change the process. The last album was made very intensely, the three of us in a dark room in London for months and months on end. This time we wanted to be on the opposite side of the world and just be out of our little comfort zone.”
Night visions Wandsworth trio’s third retains the darkness while letting in more light. By Tom Doyle.
I See You
YOUNG TURKS. CD/DL/LP
OFTEN THE xx have seemed like rabbits caught in the glare of their own success. As the most widely-influential band of recent years, the fact that their original sixth form indie formula – part Cocteau Twins, part Joy Division, part Everything But The Girl – proved quite so winning seemed to take them aback as much as it did the rest of us. On-stage, as their recent high-profile appearance on Saturday Night Live performing tracks from this third album proved, a certain physical awkwardness lingers. It’s something co-singer Romy Madley Croft addresses in Brave For Y You, her words directed perhaps at the band’s audience, thanking them for emboldening her to “stand on a stage for you/Do the things that I’m afraid to do.” Musically, The xx are far more self-assured and I See You uses Oliver Sim’s vocal cameo on the standout Stranger In A Room from bandmate Jamie xx’s Mercury-nominated solo excursion In Colourr – along with that record’s bright and playful club concoctions – as the
springboard into new, if not entirely unfamiliar sonic depths. For the most part, the dance element of The xx’s sound is pushed to the fore, though sometimes lyrically inverted, as in A Violent Noise where Sim finds himself lost and alienated on the dancefloor, flinching at every thump of the clubland beats. The USP of The xx has always been the heart-play dialogue between Sim and Madley Croft, and here it veers between intense passion and jaded emotions. Opener Dangerous, with its triumphant brass motif and dubstep beats, sees the pair in the grip of amour fou, ignoring the warnings of their friends. By track two, Say Something Loving, it’s all gone Pete Tong. “I just don’t remember the thrill of affection,” sings Sim. “I went looking for it, could have been anyone’s kiss,” coolly responds Madley Croft. But there’s a lightness here previously missing in The xx’s often sepulchral soundscapes, not least with On Hold’s joyful sampling of Hall & Oates’ I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), or the slowed dancehall groove of Lips. Characteristically, though, there’s also darkness and, if the singers have often in the past seemed to be playing fictional roles, something close to real confession emerges. Sim frets in Replica that he’s becoming a clichéd rock star figure whose mistakes “were only chemical” as he moves from “another encore to an aftershow”. In other words, this is the sound of The xx growing up and examining how far they’ve travelled. I See You is more nuanced and upbeat
How did the locations affect the album? I guess all of the places were quite big, open spaces, which may have had an effect. But eally, no matter where we were, we were still spending most of the hours of the day in a studio. But to be in it together and all living n the same places, it kind of felt like a family holiday almost.” Did your solo album have a big influence on the group record? “Well, when we started writing songs for my album, we were writing in a different way, in twos instead of as a three. It felt quite freeing. So when we went in to record as the band, we just let go of a lot of unspoken rules and we were just in the moment making music that sounded good to us. We weren’t thinking too much into the future.” This record spotlights the dance element of The xx. Were you growing tired of being seen as gloomy youths? “I don’t think we were purposely trying to. But since we were, like, shy 18-year-olds new to this whole thing, we’ve all grown a lot as people. We’re generally very happy, and we wanted to express that, I guess, in our music.” But this is dance music often tinged with sadness… “Our favourite genre (laughs). I guess I like the juxtaposition that you can be dancing, which is kind of naturally quite a happy thing to do, but if you take that song home and listen to it, it can also make you cry.”
than their previous records but, perhaps shrewdly, it enhances their blueprint rather than completely redrawing it. A solid third album, then, it will shore up their popularity and expand their reach. In 2017, it will likely be everywhere.
opening trilogy of albums that brilliantly defined hip-hop’s golden age. Reunited by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show in November 2015, they decided to fulfil their contract alongside diplomatic go-betweens Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White. By the time of Dawg’s sudden death in March 2016, he had completed nine vocal tracks. Starved fans will heave a huge sigh of relief at bubbly opener The Space Program, a roiling rhyme-fest over a simple organ lick as Phife, Q-Tip and Jarobi relish the rat-tat-tat exchanges. The same powerful esprit de corps glows from Whateva Will Be’s old-fashioned cypher, rendered over a chubby loop of the Nairobi Sisters’ 1975 dub Promised Land, while the Check The Rhime-styled barrading of Dis Generation mangles Can and Musical Youth. A welcome political dimension emerges on The Killing Season, a Kanye West hook punctuating backand-forth rhymes about police brutality, while Q-Tip takes a prescient pop at Trump’s possible immigration policy on the doomy We The Life. It skewered the New York People: “All you black folks, you group’s messed-up internal Taking their leave: A Tribe must go/All you Mexicans, you dynamics as they bickered Called Quest must go… Muslims and gays, their way through a Rock The Bells stadium vibes conquer all. boy, we hate your ways/So all tour, ostensibly to defray medical costs for you bad folks, you must go…” self-proclaimed ‘sugar addict’ Phife Dawg’s It’s not perfect. You could question whether losing struggle with diabetes. The reveal was Melatonin (a seeming renegade from Q-Tip’s that the trio, whose last studio album was 2008 abstraction The Renaissance) or Q-Tip/ 1998’s The Love Moment, t still had one album André 3000 duet Kids… have any place on an left in its contract. ATCQ album. Or whether guest spots including Even seasoned fans would consider that Elton John, Jack White and the inevitable possibility remote as the film laid bare the Kendrick Lamar cameo are strictly necessary. widening void between rappers and childhood Ultimately, the original Tribe vibes conquer all. If friends Q-Tip and Phife. The former’s fluid, it’s tinged with sadness on Lost Somebody, the elliptical and complicated flows reflected his ludicrous Jamaican bounce and bumptious ceaseless perfectionism, while the vulnerable, Busta Rhymes patois of The Donald is a fittingly thin-skinned Phife’s astringent street verbals off-the-wall last salute to the Five Foot Assassin. supplied Tribe’s daffy humour across a peerless
The final word A Tribe Called Quest
We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service EPIC. CD/DL/LP
THERE WERE few glimmers of hope in Michael Rapaport’s uncomfortably close 2011 A Tribe Called Quest documentary Beats, Rhymes &
with relish; unleashing authentic James Brown screams (Riot), while re-booting Curtis Mayfield Blaxploitation funk (Boogieman), Prince dancepop (Have Some Love) and, less fortuitously, the processed stutter rap of Falco (California). Redolent of his and Danny Pudi’s post-credits TV skits, this radiantly executed effort is also, curiously, Childish Gambino’s most anonymous. Andy Cowan
Awaken, My Love! GLASSNOTE. CD/DL/LP
Restless rap renaissance man swerves left into full-on ’70s funk revival. In his self-aware dorkiness, Donald Glover is the Richard Ayoade of rap. Treated with suspicion for his lack of ‘street connections’, thick-rimmed shades and ever-lengthening Hollywood résumé (writing for 30 Rock, playing Troy Barnes in misfit campus series Community, starring in autobiographical sitcom Atlanta), Glover further snubs his detractors on Awaken, My Love!. Rather than pillage the flows of West, Drake and Lil Wayne for acute, pun-heavy dispatches, he dramatically re-embraces old funk and soul
Martini are both avowedly mainstream and subversively countercultural, though now, he argues, more earnest and less camp than in their heyday. Fortunately, he still has an ear for melody and a top vocalist. On their ninth album, Iranian, Armenian, Arabic, Turkish and South African covers take their place alongside samples from the songbooks of Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart (Rufus Wainwright tackles Blue Moon). It’s safe to suggest the pianist wasn’t planning on a lot of airplay at Trump rallies. Politics’ loss has been pop’s gain. David Hutcheon
Je Dis Oui! WRASSE. CD/DL
The City of Roses’ biggest band accentuates the positive. If all had gone to plan, Thomas Lauderdale should have become an Oregon politician – perhaps it was the music played at political soirees that deterred him, for he has spent the past 21 years driving a little orchestra that makes “urban global music” for events where music is rarely the focus. Simultaneously, then, Pink
Brenneck, saxophonist/label owner Neal Sugarman and drummer Homer Steinweiss), The Olympians create what they call “a temple of sound”. Which translates as 11 soul funk instrumentals modelled with acute attention to detail on Willie Hutch’s blaxploitation soundtracks for Motown and late-’60s San Antonio, Texas R&B cult heroes Mickey And The Soul Generation’s obscure 45s. Built on sturdy drums and fat bass, expanded with strings, harp and vibes, and with tough horns and distorted guitars providing just enough drama to hold the attention throughout, this is pure genre exercise but done well. Lois Wilson
The Olympians DAPTONE. CD/DL/LP
Daptone super group fanfare arrival with late ’60s-styled acid jazz funk instrumental album. A 10-piece supergroup, helmed by Lee Fields’ keyboardist Toby Panzer and comprising the best of the Daptone label’s sidemen (including guitarist Thomas
self-played EP Bishouné: Alma Del Huila, his fortunes suddenly reversed when Canadian rap superstar Drake co-opted 68 as the basis for Jungle and Lenny Kravitz took him on a European stadium trek. Now backed by a live quartet, the all-new Jardín retains the EP’s satisfyingly minimalist approach; splashy, impressionistic keyboards, brisk bass, restrained strings and Dilla-esque beats underscoring GarzónMontano’s artful honeydripping falsetto and trippy tales of red balloons, wayward fruit flies and tangerine hearts. Slender traces of D’Angelo, Prince, Bacharach & David and Rufus Wainwright flutter into the mix, but Garzón-Montano is an island unto himself. “What will become of me?” he demands to know on Trial. On Jardín’s evidence, infamy at the very least. Andy Cowan
STONES THROW. CD/DL/LP
Woozy, profound and outstanding debut from Brooklyn R&B singersongwriter. Fate played a reassuring hand in the rise of Gabriel GarzónMontano. After struggling to shift the first pressing of 2014’s
Unexpected last will and testimony from New York rap legends. Phife Dawg died during its recording. By Andy Cowan.
fusion of Sparks, Lalo Schifrin, Jim Steinman and Rufus Wainwright? Head here. Kieron Tyler
never silly or overreaching, and has enough echoes of later-period R.E.M. to please fans. It’s a solid experience rather than a wholly satisfying one, but if anyone has earned the right to the odd rock folly, it’s Mike Mills. Victoria Segal
Scandinavian noir, mirrored by the artwork’s bare landscapes of stone, grass, waves and sand: life stripped to its core. Martin Aston
Blood On The Keys ALIVE NATURAL SOUND. CD/DL/LP
This Morning CHAPTER 2. CD/DL/LP
More meaningful sounds from the former Gladiator. Although typically relegated to backing vocalist in roots reggae trio The Gladiators, when Clinton Fearon sang lead, his deep tenor always imparted something outstanding. It is hard to believe this is actually his 11th solo offering, and despite already reaching 65 years of age, his voice is completely undiminished, retaining all the nuanced appeal that permeates his most popular work. As he supports the Black Lives Matter campaign on No Justice, questions the monetisation of herb on Doctor Say and reminds of the unity of mankind on the moving Wi A One, Fearon’s is precisely the kind of voice we need right now, challenging the oppressive powers that seek to curtail our existence by unjust means; he also supplies the guitar, bass and percussion, making This Morning very much a Clinton Fearon vehicle. David Katz
Ex-Black Diamond Heavy righteously branches out. The sometime Reverend James Leg, né John Wesley Myers, was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee as the son of a Baptist preacher, and joined the family business to the extent of actual pulpitbashing as a mid-teen – until rock’n’roll saved him. Where BDH launched a seemingly unstoppable locomotive of punk-rockin’ blues, halted only by sticksman Van Campbell’s 2010 wedding, Myers’ solo records have deviated admirably from that script, colouring around his Howlin’ Wolf growl and filthy-dirty organ with unexpected shades. Here, street-walking disco (Mighty Man), weepie Stones balladry (I’ll Take It) and Waitsian oddness (St Michel Shuffle) make for an enjoyably varied journey, while the title track takes it to church with a sinister edge that only a fallen pastor could muster. Out-andout blues monster DogJaw, guest-starring Soledad Brothers’ Johnny Walker on slide, serves a welcome reminder that Myers still harbours wildfire in his breast. Andrew Perry
Bats Los Angeles duo create their very own soul-infused Bat Out Of Hell. While their nutty previous album …And Star Powerr was indebted to the Todd Rundgren of A Wizard, A True Star,r Foxygen’s profoundly over-the-top follow-up nods to the soul side of the auteur’s 1973 classic. The first album Sam France and Jonathan Rado have recorded in a studio proper, Hang co-opts full orchestra, Matthew E. White as arranger (White collaborator Trey Pollard conducts), The Lemon Twigs as rhythm section and Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd. However, this is writers France and Rado’s album. Rather than a grand folly, the eight-song concoction is a joyful, lush and fittingly grandiose suite defined by France’s melodramatic voice, Southern soul electric piano, swooning Gamble & Huff strings, showtune swagger and glam-rock chug: all of which meld seamlessly. Looking for Station To Station as conceived by a
Mike Mills & Robert McDuffie
The Flaming Lips
Rodrigo Leão & Scott Matthew
WARNER BROS. CD/DL/LP
Life Is Long GLITTERHOUSE. CD/DL/LP
A masterclass in sad baroque from Portuguese-Australian alliance. Beth Gibbons, Neil Hannon and Stuart Staples have all turned out for Lisbon’s chamber-pop maestro, so Leão clearly grooves to emotive, quavering voices to reinforce his brooding orchestrations. Having collaborated on Terrible Dawn (included here) with Queenslander Matthew, they’ve now gone the whole hog, Leão opting for a slowly unfurling ’60s-soundtrack brand of melancholia, the drums sitting right back beneath verdant strings, and Matthew’s aching baritone. The duo’s homelands may be sun-drenched but Life Is Long walks in shadow; Unnatural Disaster apart, it’s not austere and Stygian enough to recall that other Scott, Walker, but it’s in the same ballpark, the aural version of falling autumn leaves around the existential wanderer muttering “so toll the bell for those who fell…” (The Fallen). This utterly seductive drama resembles
Concerto For Violin, Rock Band And String Orchestra ORANGE MOUNTAIN. CD/DL
Welcome to the orchestration: grand gesture from R.E.M. bassist. Working with his childhood friend, fellow J Geils Band fan and now classical violinist Robert McDuffie, R.E.M.’s melodic linchpin Mike Mills has bravely – recklessly, even – headed into the dangerous territory between rock and classical music. Often declamatory and dramatic, Concerto For Violin, Rock Band And String Orchestra can sound like the music played during scene changes in the kind of production designed to encourage young people to go to the theatre, the swapping of vocals for violin making everything – even a take on the holy Nightswimming – sound as if it needs a box of matinee fruit Like Clockwork: pastilles. Even so, it’s Flaming Lips robustly engaging, keep it twisted.
seductive disco. There’s something very Style Council about Dougall’s breezy, hypermelodic positivity in such adversity. Like them, Stellular serves up a lovely, liberated tonic in dark times. Andrew Perry
Rose Elinor Dougall
Ex-Pipette and Mark Ronson collaborator in bloom. An on-the-radar chanteuse since her teens, Rose Elinor has certainly tried on a few mantles. This second solo album has a fabulous vibe of a young woman finally taking charge, defining what she now wants in life. Dougall co-wrote it with producer Oli Bayston, aka Boxed In, hence its ’80s-modernist sound, ’scaped with gleamingly elegant synths, and crisp post-punky beats. Colour Of Water opens with chiming guitars, then a joyful burst of keyboards – sonically maximalist pop, à la Heaven Or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins. Third up, the skipping, urgent title track pep-talks friends struggling in Austerity Britain; Take Yourself With You turns similar agonyaunting for a perma-partying husk into a languorous summer head-nodder; then All At Once satirises greed via
Oklahoma’s finest stay twisted and emotive on 17th long-player. Wayne Coyne happened upon the phrase “Oczy Mlody” in a Polish book he was “reading”. He doesn’t know Polish; he would skim the words meditatively. And that’s a fine approach for appreciating this album, letting its synths and programmed beats envelop you without regard for the lyrics about futuristic parties, sex and death. At this point, the Lips hardly need words to conjure waves of confusion, longing or sadness. Warped vocals underscore the disorientation. Do Glowy boasts a panoply of fantastical sounds: giant rubber bands, buzzing mosquitoes, choir bells. If lyrics about mushrooms, unicorns and frogs are your jam, Coyne & Co of course have you covered. The naked slaves and Amazon strippers do feel tiredly exploitative. But One Night While Hunting For Fairies and Witches And Wizards To Kill has… well, do you really need more than the title? Chris Nelson
Soul trader An American drifter makes a plea for solitude, beautifully. By Will Hodgkinson.
Not Even Happiness BASIN ROCK. CD/DL/LP
CONSIDERING THE selfish gene that drives songwriters to greatness, it is surprising that there haven’t been more albums about the price
Book Of Changes THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
Swooning love poesies and high folk melodrama. Previously a Delta blues revivalist and acid psychedelicist, Guy Blakeslee’s sixth album as Entrance recasts him as enchanted troubadour, while his pristine melodies and arrangements suggest a Lindsey Buckingham figure, crossed with dreamy, earnest, folkie-era Marc Bolan. A vivid, heart-on-sleeve lyricist, his Book Of Changes covers a broad emotional range; Blakeslee’s first words are, “Every time I see you I fall in love with everything about you”, on Always The Right Time, a Hallmark sentiment delivered with enough polish that it moves – but his sure touch doesn’t falter as the
of going your own way. “I’ve been called heartbreaker for doing justice to my own,” reveals Julie Byrne, in husky tones of gentle defiance, on Follow My Voice, the beautiful ode to solitude opening her second album. From then on there’s so much to love about Not Even Happiness: the lightness of the finger-picked acoustic guitar patterns, the flute and string interludes, the plaintive timbre in Byrne’s voice recalling fellow outsider folk figures Anne Briggs and Karen Dalton. What really makes it special, though, is the poetic and profound way she returns, time and again, to the dilemma of making love and intimacy work when you just want to follow your calling.
album enters darker waters. A tale of betrayal and yearning, Molly is epic melodrama of the best kind, while Leaving California blends personal tumult with apocalyptic visions. Revolution Eyes closes hopefully, with its vision of resurrection “from the dark night of the soul”, but it’s to Blakeslee’s credit that Book Of Changes charms even in its bleakest moments. Stevie Chick
Cameron Neal’s approach to songwriting. Rather than squeezing the anthemic, sparkly syncopation and sonsof-the-soil Americana into every song, each has fewer ingredients this time round. Nonetheless, this is a grabbag. Opener Another Youth takes Everything Everything to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the next track, Difference, comes across as a hirsute Cars. With both Empire and the oddly Verve-esque closer Santa Fe evoking Coldplay’s stadium dynamics, Trials & Truths is a diffuse experience. Kieron Tyler
Trials & Truths BELLA UNION. CD/DL/LP
Well-crafted second by fivepiece formed at Oklahoma’s Academy of Contemporary Music lacks a distinct voice. The two years between albums haven’t brought a shift in Horse Thief’s musical outlook. On their second album, the Oklahoma-based quintet still trade in a rootsinfluenced American rock on a mid-point between Midlake at their most straightforward and The Kings Of Leon when they decide to be downhome. What has changed is main-man
Perhaps Byrne’s background prepared her for the solitary life. Raised in Buffalo, New York, Y she picked up the guitar aged 17 after the multiple sclerosis afflicting her father, a wedding singer, developed to the point where he could no longer play. Three years later she set out on what remains a nomadic existence, passing through Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans and recording her 2014 debut, Rooms With Walls And Windows, along the way. Where that album was suffused with a longing for home, this one shows acceptance at forever being on the road. Melting Grid is a flute-laden paean to loneliness, written after Byrne saw the Pacific Northwest for the first time. Natural Blue, which features gliding arrangements that could have come from the late Robert Kirby for a Nick Drake album, evokes the dreamlike feeling of watching the dawn sky after staying up all night at a house party in Boulder, Colorado. It’s also very pretty, with a sparse production from Eric Littmann of the New York experimental collective Phantom Posse and understated strings from violinist Jake Falby. “The day has been melting away/We’ve been laying on the shore for a while,” she sings on Sea As It Glides, ocean sounds in the background adding to the languid charm of the words. There’s something romantic about this quiet, thoughtful music, but there’s a sad quality to it too. It is not so much depressed as insular, as if Byrne’s life as an American drifter has made her turn within. Not Even Happiness ends with I Live Now As A Singer, on which Byrne lays out her stall as a woman who has chosen to be on her own, who has found something more compelling than companionship or contentment. “There ain’t no use falling for me/ My heart ain’t in the ring for you,” she warns, against hymnal synthesizer chords. Not even happiness indeed.
companions Gilles-Vincent Rieder (drums), John Sluggett (guitar) and Jason Willett (bass) are in for the long haul. Despite the presence of a few additional collaborators, much in Half Japanese-world is as anticipated: Fair’s Pee-wee Herman voice dominates and scritch-scratch guitars churn upon a chassis built from 1967/69 Velvet Underground. There are, though, departures. The band moves forward. On The Right Track is a no wavetinged jazzy shuffle and Of Course It Is draws from Solomon Burke’s Everybody Needs Somebody To Love. “Our time is now,” declares Fair on Do It Now and, with so sprightly an album, there’s no reason to doubt him. Kieron Tyler
Hear The Lions Roar FIRE. CD/DL/LP
Sixteen LPs in, 39 years after debut, Maryland’s oddballs have a spring in their step. Hear The Lions Roarr arrives a year after Half Japanese’s last album Perfect and two on from Overjoyed. Before that, 2001’s Hello. If proof were needed, it confirms Jad Fair (David Fair is long gone) and his enduring musical
A Cathedral Of Hands RAGOORA. CD/DL
Sterling summit meeting of ’90s-era alt rock luminaries. After 13 years using his Stephen Hero alias, Patrick Fitzgerald has rediscovered collaboration. Following 2013’s Kitchens Of Distinction reunion and 2016’s April Seven
(partnering Family Cat singer Paul Frederick), Oskar’s Drum co-stars Wonky Alice guitarist Yves Altana for a feverish and transporting consolidation of KOD’s elegant storm and Hero’s gentler rage, reset by Altana’s love of (and history with) The Chameleons’ granite sound. Behind Fitzgerald’s urgent and gallant vocal, there’s space for his piano, as on heart-rendering The Last Time I Saw Roger. Inspired by Oskar, the disgruntled child of Gunter Grass’s World War II parable The Tin Drum, Fitzgerald is in fine malcontent form, haunted by YouTube 9/11 footage in a thunderous Infernal and screaming “what the fuckers have done to our beautiful land” in Quartz’s cascading prog. Elegiac finale Floating suggests we’re better off absconding for the Arctic. And post-Trump, you know just how he feels. Martin Aston
Arrival OST DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON. CD/DL/LP
The Oscar-nominated Icelander’s eerie soundtrack for Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral sci-fi hit. The oddly plausible premise of the film Arrival concerns linguists attempting to communicate with aliens, who one day park themselves in a fleet of massive, shell-like craft around the Earth. As much a film about language as it is a feasible, modern-day update of the hoary invaders-fromouter-space narrative, Jóhannsson composed its score using treated tape loops of miscellaneous vocal artists and ensembles – including Theatre Of Voices and cellistsinger Hildur Guðnadóttir – in addition to electronic and orthodox orchestration. The results are equal parts beautiful and unsettling – the title track, whose ominous drones and weird, John Hassell-like horn-voices accompany the first vistas of the gigantic alien vessels, for example, or Heptapod B, with its Morse code-like ululations and inexorably swelling brass clouds. One caveat; the movie’s main theme is actually Max Richter’s sumptuous chamber piece On The Nature Of Daylight, the non-inclusion of which here may disappoint some. David Sheppard
Future Politics DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
Renata Raksha, Scott Irvine
Toronto electronic crew spell out their “commitment to replace the approaching dystopia”.
was Austra, albe obviously comm a little icier (tho cold) thanks to Stelmanis’s voc third album title they’re also mo weight, here sp to Anohni’s ‘fut addressing Eart ailing agonies. F Politics’ galvanis takes myriad fo dreamy paean t ancestral mothe track and Freep precision hooks strumming inst Deep Thought, proto-operatic anthem I’m A M – the last a vehi the top of Stelm classically traine
range. Angel In Your Eye shifts even closer to the mood of Lisa (Dead Can Dance) Gerrard’s holy wars, while 43 is a particularly sombre finale. You can dance if you want to, Stelmanis appears to suggest, but don’t forget the bigger picture. Martin Aston
Reflection WARP. CD/DL/LP
Second album in nine months from the increasingly prolific ambient grandee.
Fairly hot on the heels of the vocalornamented The Ship, Brian Eno returns with music of a more signature stripe. Vaguely reminiscent of lengthy, meditative ambient benchmarks such as Discreet Music and Thursday Afternoon, the less-than-startlingly titled Reflection compromises a single 54-minute-long piece of pellucid instrumental music created using the generative technology that Eno has long extolled. A method of ‘growing’ music algorithmically, by feeding parameters into a software programme, the resultant music is, in Eno’s words, “probabilistic… so the piece unfolds differently every time it is activated”. Essentially one of these chance ‘unfoldings’ captured for posterity, Reflection’s electric piano-like note droplets and vapour-trail synths suggest the aural equivalent of a lava lamp’s viscous forms slowly rising and falling, until a sudden, unpredictably halting phrase momentarily shatters the enveloping, somnolent mood. It’s pleasant enough, if hardly transcendent, and feels – whisper it – ever so slightly old fashioned. David Sheppard
The caped campaigner: Austra’s Katie Stelmanis.
SECOND LANGUAGE. CD/DL/LP
Sadly the title says it all – but the group’s final album ranks with their best. During their 20-year lifespan the enigmatic Piano Magic have been classified as ambient pop, indietronica and darkwave, although the group prefer ghost rock. Closure is more substantial than that implies, carrying on the more direct approach of 2005’s Disaffected. The lengthy, gently swinging title track reminds of Bark Psychosis as it switches from reflective verses and monastic choruses to threatening guitar noise. On Landline, Glen Johnson recalls a woman, who has since become “dust”, through the mementoes of her answer-phone messages. His vocal line is underpinned by Jerome Tcherneyan’s speedy, exploratory drumming and buffeted by a guitar passage mixed with squalling synths and wind noises. The rest of the music is less disruptive, but woven with imaginative drum patterns, cello, tuned percussion and occasional trumpet, ending with the aching farewell, I Left You T ce, Not Once. Twi Mike Barnes
A Winged Victory For The Sullen
ERASED TAPES. CD/DL/LP
Grand, beguiling soundtrack mixing Nils Frahm and Arvo Pärt.
BETWEEN THEM, A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie and their pal and collaborator, Jóhann Jóhannsson, are cornering the market for beautiful, foreboding soundtracks. With Iris, O’Halloran and Wiltzie – half of ambient/drone protagonists Stars Of The Lid – lend their skills in melding grand, analogue electronica with modern classical tropes to the forthcoming movie from French director, Jalil Lespert. The smartest trick Iris pulls off is while it’s designed to be married to imagery, it creates its own currency when isolated in album form. In the film, Normandie’s skirls of interference and portentous strings probably aren’t set to scenes under a gunmetal grey sky – but that’s what it sounds like here. Retour Au Champs De Mars oscillates malevolently with throaty, Death Star bass synths; like much of Iris, it uses a covert approach to win you over.
CLIVAGE MUSIC/CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL. CD/DL/LP
Veteran techno scenester’s triumphant return. Dijon-based Pascal Arbez made a big name for himself back in the early ’00s via electroclash banger and d fl staple La Rock 01, uently, as go-to such high-profile ft Punk and Björk. -year-old dials oise and discord of releases for his m, which fuses pop, etro-futuristic disco ness, direction and ce of humour. ts are many and from the Mobys-Moroder driveelectro-pop of ng For The Stars to melessly saucy e to The Normal’s eatherette, the ulsating Sweet e (“I’m always in the or a long, slim and h…”). He even has dacity to fashion a y rip-off of Lipps Funkytown in speed – which, in a usly abandoned, ds-aloft kind of y, works brilliantly. Matt Yates
wonderfully cohesive, multitextured debut.
#### YEN. DL/LP
The chief constituent of Rob Shields’ music is deep house, albeit a variant where the dominant chromosome has mutated in quite lovely fashion, resulting in a fragile, translucent version to create soporific warmth and resonance, thin slivers of vocals offering accompaniment. Yet his most intriguing weapon is a guitar. On Sleepness its staccato form creates a rhythmic foundation for the synth passages on top.
Having studied astrophysics, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ross Tones’ music as Throwing Snow covers big ticket subjects. Embers, he says, interprets naturally occurring patterns, entropy and the perfection of imperfection – Deadmaus this ain’t. Instead, its dense and intense digital compositions enter your headspace with stealth or, at other times, occupy it with an assault of breathless beats, as on the glowering Recursion. A
Mechanism VILLAGE GREEN. CD/DL/LP
Soft Error’s background in film and TV composition is the foundation for the opulent, operatic electronica on Mechanism. Southend After Everyone Has Left is a spot of ghostly Victoriana, throb and strings combine on Bad Habits and Ridges delves into modern classical/experimental territory on an album uniting the synth characteristics of Wendy Carlos, John Carpenter’s dark paranoia and a dollop of drone.
Moebius Für Metropolis BUREAU B. CD/DL/LP
In 2012 Moebius created framework tracks for a live, improv-style accompaniment to Fritz Lang’s 1927 landmark movie. Moebius died in 2015, but his wife and friends collaborated to achieve his vision for its release as an album, where the fizzing energy of futuristic city life is brought to life by white noise, metallic clanks and hypnotic loops. SW
Flying tonight: The Blue Aeroplanes make a welcome return.
The Blue Aeroplanes
Welcome, Stranger! ART STAR. CD/DL/LP
Bristol group’s 11th LP since 1981, but first since 2011.
Hey Mr Ferryman DÉCOR. CD/DL/LP
The American Music Club man eyes up this world and the next. Still crossing the many rivers of doubt, hope and despair that have faced him since his American Music Club days, Mark Eitzel’s tenth solo album can nonetheless throw out surprises. Amid the muscular emotional flexing, inked and chiselled by Bernard Butler’s guitar, keyboard and production, lies Mr Humphries, a lament for the Are You Being Served? character, imagined sitting in his rest home remembering when he was “a free man walking from his cage”. That search for courage and meaning sweeps through into The Last Ten Years, originally written for American Music Club, or coma victim’s testimony Sleep From My Eyes, with more between-worlds hovering on the literal death-inVegas cabaret of An Angel’s Wing Brushed The Penny Slots. Earthier is In My Role As A Professional Singer And Ham: “Why are the righteous always eager for war?” Eitzel asks, before repeatedly singing, “I look away.” But of course, he never does. Victoria Segal
tarist for, among others, the New York Dolls. As a solo artist, influences from Tom Petty to Harry Nilsson are worn easily on the sleeve of his sequinned suit, mixing witty social commentary with off-kilter country rock. More focused than his weed-soaked debut In The Blazes (unreleased in the UK), Silver Tears nevertheless pinwheels from the roaring acoustic blues of Ready To Die to Memphis Rain’s tear-stained country and the Arlo Guthriestyle comic observation of Hard Life, signalling Tasjan’s determination to chase his art down whatever alley it ventures. He’s at his best, however, when he takes it all very seriously indeed, particularly for closing ballad Where The Road Begins And Ends, hopefully an indicator of a steadier path this remarkable 30-year-old may yet take. Andy Fyfe
Silver Tears NEW WEST. CD/DL/LP
Sequin-loving Nashville oddball’s UK debut. Another to emerge from the freak factory of East Nashville, Aaron Lee Tasjan has been kicking around as a journeyman gui-
Return To Ommadawn The Tubular Bellringer returns to the long-form style that launched his career and Richard Branson's business empire.
Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe
Unlikely collaboration between two British songwriting institutions. Too skilled, singular and wily to fall prey to the ephemeral vagaries of fashion, Mr Tilston and Mr Lowe have both consistently dodged the radar to achieve respective positions of influential respect, admiration and affection among the wider folk communities. For two such distinctly individual performers – Jez Lowe is rooted
building society ads. The faithful can still buy with confidence – these are polished performances – but others may weary of a long journey round past glories. John Bungey
VIRGIN EMI. CD/DL
The Janus Game
Aaron Lee Tasjan
firmly in the north-eastern tradition while Tilston is of a Graham/Jansch/Les Cousins guitar vintage – they blend together remarkably naturally. No firecrackers or groovy production tricks here, they just quietly go about their business in unfussy, unassuming, beguiling fashion, relying on the quality of Tilston’s guitar, Lowe’s mandolin/dulcimer/bouzouki and the craft of their joint songwriting. Full of easy charm, quiet sentiment and warm nostalgia, engaging songs like Leaving For Spain, Tattered And Torn, Hey Frankie and, especially, the Wizz Jones tribute The Strings That Wizz Once Strummed, are the works of a class act. Colin Irwin
Ommadawn, the guitarist’s third multiinstrumental blowout, was not as strikingly original as Tubular Bells but was more skilfully crafted and since 1975 has remained a firm fan favourite. That’s one reason Oldfield has redeployed the woody arsenal of guitars, ukulele, mandolin, bodhran, harp et al. The two pieces once again take pretty little tunes through a series of variations to develop multitracked mini guitar symphonies (the second has a main theme that recalls the great Hank Marvin). However, the trouble is that in the past 40 years Oldfield’s once-novel blend of rock and Celtic pop has been overused by everyone from Enya to Braveheart to
BUREAU B. CD/DL/LP
Maverick French guitarist turns negative headspace into a kosmische positive. Deep-mining the electronic/ avant-rock margins for over 40 years, first as leader of ’70s leftfielders Heldon then largely flying solo, Richard Pinhas has put his name to a formidable body of work. Originally pegged as his swan song release following a period of great personal upheaval, recording Reverse proved so fruitful it turned his outlook right around. Boasting a distinctly international crew featuring Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi, French rhythm-men Arthur Narcy (drums) and bassist Florian Tatar, US percussionist William Winant and Japanoise king Masami Akita, the resulting work is an entrancing inner space voyage through shapeshifter drones and radiant electronic nebulae. Propelled by Narcy’s jazz-wise prompting, the album’s four long-form pieces navigate slow-mo meteor storms, starburst swells and heart-of-thesun reverberations as Pinhas and his cohorts come within fingertip distance of infinity. Andrew Carden
Umbrella Weather RARE NOISE. CD/DL/LP
UK-based avant-jazz outfit unleash their eighth album. They might have been formed 13 years ago, but Led Bib’s luck hasn’t run out yet. Led by drummer Mark Holub – whose kinetic, swashbuckling rhythm tracks are the very heartbeat of their music – the London-based quintet return for another instalment of exploratory jazz. Drawing on influences from free jazz to punk and jazz-rock, they’ve arrived at a sound and style all their own. The 12 songs here are mostly wild, loud, anarchic and irreverent but hardly ever subdued (though Ceasefire, On The Roundabout, and LP epilogue Goodbye offer time for reflection). Elsewhere, it’s like the sonic equivalent of a war zone, with Pete Grogan’s and Chris Williams’ scattergunlike alto sax improv lines leading an all-out assault force. Charles Waring
With Welcome, Stranger!, it feels as if The Blue Aeroplanes have never been away. And they have indeed remained extant, even when inactive. Their highest profile came in the early ‘90s circa Swaggerr with Gerard Langley’s hipster raconteur delivery pitched between speaking and singing and their serried ranks of guitarists in all-action live shows. But when they signed to Harvest in the early 2000s, most people were looking the other way. Here the formula is still fresh and potent, with punchy production, twisting song structures and sweeping choruses. “Seagulls will eat their fish so why shouldn’t they eat our chips?” muses Langley on Walking Under Ladders For A Living, while Dead Tree! Dead Tree! offers rock’n’roll’s first arboreal lament. Mike Barnes
Back To Your Heart SHANACHIE. CD/DL
Third album from soulful Woodstock singer/songwriter championed by Sting. This 28-yearold rising souljazz chanteuse chose to follow her musical aspirations over studying at medical school and so far, having scored a Number 1 single in the US jazz charts, it’s a decision that has been fully vindicated. Blessed with a dazzling voice, Webster’s music sits comfortably alongside the mellow sounds of Sade and Rumer, perhaps, but has a more pronounced jazz influence in terms of its harmonic language and guitar and sax solos. Her latest album features 11 uniformly strong, original songs that range from sensuous, ruminative ballads to energised, muscular grooves. The title track, with its languorous strut, is an obvious standout while Where Do You Want To Go and Living A Lie are superlative showcases that spotlight Webster’s honeydrizzled vocals. Impressive. Charles Waring
MBE in 2012) and his CV includes collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Lamont Dozier and Erykah Badu. Love In Beats is his eighth long-player and undoubtedly one of his strongest, featuring several guest cameos, which include pianist Robert Glasper, grime MC Ty, and veteran soul man Leon Ware. Gritty and tough one moment and sensuously silky the next, Omar, together with his co-producer (and younger sibling) Scratch Professor, has crafted an eclectic and tremendously varied sonic landscape that is infused with the evocative lexicon of soul, jazz and Caribbean music. Charles Warin
Courtney Marie Andrews
Honest Life LOOSE. CD/DL/LP
Heartache, humour and huge country-folk melodies.
Love In Beats FREESTYLE. CD/DL/LP
Decorated British soul auteur returns after a four-year hiatus. This London-born multiinstrumentalist first made his mark back in 1991, scoring a Top 20 UK hit with the acid jazz anthem There’s Nothing Like This for Gilles Peterson’s Tal T kin’ Loud imprint. Much has happened to Omar Lye L -Fook in the ensuing 25 years (including the acquisition of an
Courtney Marie Andrews spent the last decade busking, recording four albums, strumming guitar for Damien Jurado and singing with emo-rockers Jimmy Eat World. That last detail offers few clues to her wonderful fifth full-length: rich, understated and resonant, it reveals Andrews as a gifted songsmith who can easily conjure longing and regret – classic country territory – but leavens that ache with humour, a little wisdom and a sure feel for melody. Her voice – a folky sweetness that breaks in the high register like Joni’s – is a treat. Her storytelling, meanwhile, is considered and compelling, be it Tab T le For One (a doubtless autobiographical tale of on-the-road heartache, with the loneliness balanced by a sense of her mission’s romance) or the rueful Let The Good One Go; by the time she makes her sole Lindsey Webster: prescribing the right medicine.
swing to sentimentalism, on closer Only In My Mind – a string-soaked, twang rewrite of Just My Imagination – she’s well and truly earned it. Stevie Chick
Henry Senior Jr
Plates Of Meat Y GE. CD/DL/LP MAIDEN VOYA
Debut album reinvents the pedal steel. We’ve all wondered at some time just what the pedal steel would’ve sounded like if, like The Rolling Stones, it had wandered through the doors of Studio 54 at the height of disco. Haven’t we? Well now we know, thanks to Henry Senior Jr, steel player for the UK’s premier Americana band Danny And The Champions Of The World. The soulman of slide is on a mission to educate that pedal steel is more than just a sidekick for weepsome country, Plates Of Meat’s instrumentals bounding from disco, soul and prog through the more familiar territory of Southern rock and powerpop. Senior’s playing takes central roles usually given to guitars and keyboards, rather than being a mere accent, his zealous vision for his instrument pulling Plates Of Meatt past any novelty barrier. It may be nuts, but it’s also the nuts. Andy Fyfe
Subterrenea EDITION. CD/DL
Debut album from vibraphone-led contemporary sextet. VIBRAPHONIST RALPH Wyld’s first CD since winning the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize in 2015 is a bold and creative statement, combining playful invention, full-blooded improvisation and ethereal beauty. Taking his contemporary jazz cue and inspiration from the likes of Wheeler and Dave Holland, and modern classical masters like Steve Reich, Wyld creates ebbing, evolving music which moves between pointillist minimalism, electro-acoustic soundscapes and post-bop intensity with persuasive flow and purpose. The themes are strong and unpredictable while the improvisations have a presence and swagger belying the players’ tender years. Kudos to Scott Chapman (drums) and Misha Mullov-Abbado (bass) for their authoritative, stimulating rhythm work, but James Copus (trumpet), Sam Rapley (clarinets) and Cecilia Bignall (cello) each make their mark on this outstanding debut.
Dark Sacred Night
Stuart McCallum/ Mike Walker
SUICIDE SQUEEZE. CD/DL/LP
Christmas With My Friends V
It’s the most soul-searching time of the year.
Now on its fifth volume, this artful look at centuries of festive music is still a welcome, surprising series. Whether presenting traditional Scandinavian melodies, Tin Pan Alley classics or obscure gospel, Swedish trombonist/vocalist/ producer Landgren and his team of singers and instrumentalists invest love and care to create the most heart-warming and atmospheric of seasonal listens.
Following their beautiful 2014 collaboration, guitarists McCallum (acoustic) and Walker (electric), develop their contemporary chamber sound with this set of haunting and evocative McCallum compositions. Prog rock, Celtic folk and impressionist jazz gestures co-exist in a unique, seductive soundworld in which even Burt Bacharach (a gorgeous realised Alfie) and Claude Debussy (String Quartet) have a welcome place.
There are plenty of reasons for atheists to make Christmas records: tradition, sentimentality. Bad Religion did it strictly for the melodies. It’s not so simple for David Bazan, the now-agnostic singer/ songwriter who once recorded as the Christian indie artist, Pedro The Lion. Dark Sacred Nightt is for those driven to spend the holiday alone and questioning. It marvels at the mysteries of Christendom, but Bazan can’t get behind them. The 10 songs (all previously issued as singles) mix carols with modern classics and originals. Stark arrangements emphasise the chasm between seasonal sentiments and the real world outside. Several songs puzzle mournfully about the promise for peace and good will to men. But most profound are the existential questions that know no season. Bazan sits sipping whiskey, “wondering if I still believe.” There are tidings aplenty, but little comfort and even less joy. Chris Nelson
Nigel Price Organ Trio
Heads & Tales Volume 2 WHIRLWIND. CD/DL
A modern jazz troubadour, guitarist Price’s blistering live shows and insatiable quest for invention in the hard bop/ soul jazz tradition also make him a straight-ahead jazz hero. His second double CD of contrafacts (new tunes on established chord sequences) and duets with himself keep the heat up high, Ross Stanley (organ) and Matt Home (drums) ideal partners in groove.
The Space Between
Strong Tea PAVILLON. CD/DL
Led by the French horn player and composer Jim Rattigan, Pavillon is a 12-piece group featuring the cream of the UK’s brass and woodwind players serving Rattigan’s labyrinthine, dense pieces. Fat-voiced, bellowing ensembles give way to intrepid solos from the likes of Steve Fishwick (trumpet) and Martin Speake (alto), while Gene Calderazzo (drums) is his usual provocative, inspiring self. CI
It all adds up: Parekh (left) & Singh, pristine pop-makers
The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band
Planet Lam PARADISE BANGKOK. CD/DL/LP
Rural dancefloor bangers from the Thai capital.
Migration NINJA TUNE. CD/DL/LP
Electronic voyager Simon Green goes global on sophisticated sixth offering. Bonobo has come on leaps and bounds since he marked out his own space amid the crate-digging beardscratchers of the early ’00s downtempo scene. Where many of his peers relied wholly on sample manipulation, Bonobo brought a musician’s edge to electronica, allying advanced compositional gifts to a DJ’s instinct for holding the floor. Recorded on the fly in Los Angeles, his sixth album is a global odyssey that touches down in Morocco on the spiritual Bambro Koyo Ganda, India over Kerala’s buzzy mosquito-styled chants, before wading into Canada’s twinkling snowdrifts amid the symphonic late night vibes of Ontario. Warm, never detached, opulent yet unostentatious, Migration lands its emotional KO on No Reason, an impassioned seven-minute duet with Nick Murphy. It ranks right up there with 2010’s exquisite Black Sands. Andy Cowan
dark, percussive elements of flamenco to underline his gentle melodies and lyrics; synth swathes, when they come, sound anything but cold. The vocal, questing and sometimes awkwardly sincere (but that’s no bad thing), mixes Tim Hardin, David Gray, even Tom Odell before he went mainstream. Lights Off is achingly deft, advice on a romance that can’t start: “She’s been there/Seen it all before/That’s not your fault.” Minimum looks at selling out in a corporate job: “You’re walking a fine line between wrong and right/Is that what you signed for?/They’re feeding you lines to keep you on their side/It works every time.” How Much is preposterously gorgeous: “I’ll make you mine/ I’ll make up your mind…” Understated, lovely. Glyn Brown
DUMONT DUMONT. CD/DL/LP
Debut from Bedfordshire boy blending flamenco and electronica. Heartfelt and wise beyond its years, this twists its way into your soul with a guitar technique our man learned in Seville. Cunningham uses the
Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children
For The Ages To Come AKASHIC. CD/DL/LP
Dead Light VILLAGE GREEN. CD/DL/LP
nine, intimate essays nonetheless conjure a very particular sonic universe, their almostdisintegrating acoustic electronica as mellifluous as it is opaque. So, while opener Blooms is reminiscent of the vinyl static-wreathed plunderphonics of Philip Jeck or The Caretaker, and Falling In might be a hushed, glitchfiltered Nils Frahm, the woozy, introverted spell they cast is essentially their own. Even on The Ballad Of A Small Player and Sleeper, which welcome daubs of cello and female voices respectively, the compelling fragility endures. David Sheppard
Persuasive, immersive debut by keyboard-manipulating instrumental duo. Pianist Anna Rose Carter and soundscaper Ed Hamilton began Dead Light after swapping city life for splendid rural isolation. There, Carter’s muted, prepared piano and Hamilton’s process-heavy analogue electronics – antediluvian reel-to-reel chains, tapes marinated in vinegar et al – were fused into music of gauzy, spectral beauty. Hardly the first album to locate innate poignancy in an artfully hamstrung piano, Dead Light’s
TSOOL behemoth’s pagan psych-punk-folk masterclass. For 17 years, cosmic viking Ebbot Lundberg led Gothenburg’s The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, a volatile six-piece which miraculously channelled the many ages of classic rock for the millennial age. After they disbanded, Lundberg dabbled in freeform space-jazz, but here returns to the songwriterly oeuvre for a beatifically exquisite collection, comparable to TSOOL’s spangly second album, Extended Revelation. His early-twentysomething Indigo Children ‘bring the rock’ on occasion (see Satanic Majesties-esque nugget Don’t Blow Your Mind), but otherwise conjure their leader’s beloved vibe of West Coast blissfulness, albeit usually tainted with a toxic whiff (to wit: Drowning In A Wishing Well). As such, his old band’s
Swedish-flagged twin-axe attack remains but a cherished memory, occasionally supplanted by ornate strings and triumphant trumpets. “Here I am, the only one again,” he croons on closer To Be Continued, “and it’s a story that will never end.” Here’s hoping. Andrew Perry
Though the stars of this second LP by the Bangkokbased sextet are nominally Kammao Perdtanon’s lute-like phin and the wheezing bamboo khaen (pipes) of Sawai Kaewsombat, to these ears it is Piyanart Jotikasthira’s bass that delivers the killer kick on 10 tunes fuelled by late-evening sessions, homemade herbinfused liquor and the club nights hosted by the band and their label for the past seven years. If the term ‘world music’ normally suggests a western listener’s perspective, this is what it means to Thai ears, with rock, reggae (especially dub) and jazz adding variety to molam and luk thung, traditional styles from central Thailand and the border with Laos. There’s greater variety here than on their debut, but it is the straightforward, head-down, hit-the-floor beats that make the most persuasive case. David Hutcheon
Analogue Creatures Living On An Island SWIM~. CD/DL/LP
Wire’s Colin Newman and Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel’s retrieve their electronic side project from its mothballs. A synthfavouring instrumental venture of the married postpunk veterans, the second of Immersion’s previous albums appeared back in 1999, so it’s slightly surprising to find the duo, who also play together in Githead among myriad other creative endeavours, finding room in the schedule to revive the franchise. Surprising, that is, until the album’s engrossing procession of Krautrockindebted electronic essays unfurl. As with previous Immersion material, analogue synthesizers provide the musical focus here, sporadically infused with electric guitars, often played in the oblique, angular style that Wire fans will instantly cleave to. Indeed, by turns spiky and scrubbed six-strings punctuate swirling, Cluster-like opener Always The Sea, while, elsewhere, Mechanical Creatures’ unsettling synthetic drone builds inexorably into an Eastern-tinged cosmic raga and Slow Light comes across like a more languorous cousin of Wire’s Mercy as reimagined by Popol Vuh. David Sheppard
Parekh & Singh
Indian indie-pop – much more than a novelty. Bookkeepers in Kolkata by day, vocalist/instrumentalist Nischay Parekh and drummer Jivraj Singh moonlight as pristine pop-makers. Despite their guitars, synths and organic-digital palette, the sound of Ocean is watercolourpale, a kind of spindly, sunkissed indie, with Smithsian (cf Panda and Me & You), bossa nova and ye-ye ripples, iced by Parekh’s breathy, Colin Blunstone-y voice. Yet North America, of all places, seems to preoccupy him, to wit Philosphize’s “New York state of mind in Indian Standard Time”, while the title I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll sounds borrowed from (Mrs Parekh fave) Frank Sinatra. The lyrics are ’50s-simple too, and keeping things simpler still is Ocean’s 25-minute timespan – only the daydreamy Ghosts breaks three minutes – sealing the deal of delightful pop naivety. Martin Aston
Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche
Life Without Sound
The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo
WICHITA T . CD/DL/LP
Montreal quartet dish intense grooves of Afro-prog psych: 10 tracks, three ‘movements’, a rump-shaking whole. JB
Sheffield’s Jarrod Gosling recruited the bell-clear voice of London singer Cecilia Fage for this album of esoteric psychfolk oddness played entirely on organ and drums. The effect is like gazing into a lava lamp; kitsch but effective. JB
Cleveland indie band continue to refine a form of popoid punk whose parameters may have been set decades ago, but when they crank out breathless melodic euphoria like Darkened Rings, originality seems a pointless objective anyway. CP
All The Kids
Pas Pire Pop, I Love You So Much A ON. CD/DL/LP CONSTELLATI
CONTROL FREAK KITTEN. CD/DL
AT THE HELM. CD/DL
The solo incarnation of Poliça bassist Chris Bierden, Invisible Boy features treated, helium vocals on an LP of starry-eyed synthetic soul pop. Like the electronic John Grant in empathetic mood, or Connan Mockasin’s childlike reveries. JB
Writing about her daughter’s premature birth, the Norwegian sounds understandably at sea: full of briny metaphors; shivering, icy fragility (Morula), waves of poignancy (Your Name), and crests of upbeat reverie (The Orbit). JB
Posthumous album from the Belfast’s Celtic soul cowboy, who set out to prove that the Irish invented country music. Listening to this set of warm, poignant bar room reflections, full of empathy, humour and depth, it’s hard to disagree. JB
DRAG CITY. CD/DL/LP
Wand man’s solo debut is a weave of sublimely lysergic folk-pop. Heather Lockie’s inspired strings bring serenity to the songs’ ’60s oddness. JB
Chris Ingham Quartet
Dudley Moore’s talents as a pianist/composer interpreted by pianist Ingham’s quartet, plus Harry Greene’s sax. Offers appropriate swing and humour or, with Sad One For George, a poignancy. A jazz joy. FD
Mind Over Mirrors
PLAY IT AGAIN SAM. CD/DL/LP
PARADISE OF BACHELORS. CD/DL/LP
Conceived on harmonium and synth in the Wisconsin wilds, Jamie Fennelly’s wintry designs warmed by the likes of Bitchin’ Bajas layering instruments, voices and electronics. CP
Orchestral Variations The Editors/Mogwai/Slowdive supergroup’s self-titled debut was full of high-spec, gloomily anthemic pop songs; this selfexplanatorily-titled auxiliary LP reconstructs each song via its peripheral components, sans vox. Lush and emotive. KC
Lose My Cool
RECORD SHOP. CD/DL
From Nottingham via the Danceteria of her mind, the DIY disco maverick channels vintage R&B and thrilling dancefloor pop of an ’80s Madonna/Janet/TLC stripe, in a voice that’s crystal cool in up and downtempo settings. JB
London/Austrian electro wiz Christopher Taylor moved to LA to record his second LP, lending warmth to his fore-fronted vocals and pop melodies over the digital crunch of deep-bass rhythms. His tendency to overemote can prove distracting. JB
Pop Ambient 2017
Go Get Gone
BREAD & BUTTER MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Inhale deeply of the Kompakt label’s annual waft of immersive drones (Leanardo Fresco’s Sonido Español), synthscaped romance (Kenneth James Gibson’s Her Flood…), glassy, yogic remixes (Soulsavers’ Hal by Wolfgang Voigt) et al. JB
Formed in Liverpool, recorded in the duo’s spiritual home Nashville. Zoe Nicol’s fleet banjo picking and warm, country tones weave into Rosie Jones’ grittier, pastoral-punk overtures on nostalgic songs of longing hearts and leaving trains. JB
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats A Little Something More From… EP aving just completed his biggest UK tour, Missouri neo-soul man Nathaniel Rateliff offers an eight-track EP. It fuses the intimate Americana of his solo albums, particularly 2010’s In Memory Loss, with the joyous brass of recent breakthrough Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Thus, Out On The Weekend (Version 2) pings with a country swing and swirling organs, the raw Just Talk To You beats with a gentle twang, while How To Make Friends has an alt-country edge. Interesting to see which path Rateliff & co take next. (Apple, Spotify, etc.)
The Weeknd I Feel It Coming (ft. Daft Punk) Daft Punk get the guest treatment from The Weeknd as the duo meld disco synths and vocoder into the Canadian’s warmly crooned pop. (Apple, Spotify, etc.)
Nada Senza Un Perché
Recorded with John Parish, the Italian chanteuse’s 2010 single has been resurrected via drama The Young Pope. Wearied, flawed yet soaring and beautiful, perfect for dancing in Sistine Chapel. (Apple, Spotify, etc.)
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Howard’s end Buzzcocks
Spiral Scratch Time’s Up DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
onsidering that 1976 has been apotheosised as the 40th Brit punk anniversary, it’s surprising how few recordings there are from that year. A lot of Sex Pistols, to be sure, but not much besides: a few early Clash demos, The Damned’s epochal New Rose, and that’s pretty much it. This extraordinary tranche of 15 1976 Buzzcocks songs captures a moment of inspiration and formation: quickly recorded to celebrate the fact that the gap between thinking and doing had suddenly shrunk to a mere instant. Buzzcocks came together as a direct result of seeing Sex Pistols. It wasn’t just that the London group were a bolt from the blue but also the fact that they focused various inchoate feelings and desires. Listening to Raw Power in 1973/4, Howard Devoto found that Iggy’s “personality and the music attached to some unfortunate trait I had. I wished to annoy, to be exhibitionist, to be self-destructive, all those things.” Witnessing Johnny Rotten bait the crowd in Welwyn Garden City with his cohort Pete Shelley gave Devoto the green light. Devoto and Shelley organised the two concerts in Manchester that gave Sex Pistols their first base outside London. Organised by fans rather than casual promoters, the shows gave the London group a chance to shine. Buzzcocks played the second Manchester show: a short set enlivened by a bit of autodestruction as Pete Shelley assaulted the amps with his Starway guitar. With the top half broken off, it became an emblem of Buzzcocks’ cheap and cheerful self-starter impulse. You didn’t BACK STORY: BUZZCOCKS need money to do it, just the V2.0 willingness to act. G Within a month of Spiral Within a month of the second Scratch’s release, Devoto Lesser Free Trade Hall gig, left and it was Buzzcocks 2.0, who began their Buzzcocks played the Ranch Bar recorded career with a – a small gay club in the basement jjet-propelled, ecstatic of Foo Foo’s Palace, the building version of Orgasm Addict with design by Malcolm owned by Manchester’s version of Garrett and artwork by Danny La Rue – and thus cemented Linder Sterling. Devoto the group’s intimate relationship formed Magazine, who debuted at the Last Night with sex and gender difference. of the Electric Circus in Out of this came a sequence of October 1977. Buzzcocks exploratory photos by Linder closed the event with Sterling and one of the group’s Time’s Up. Despite their timeliness, the Time’s Up greatest songs, the hilarious and recordings languished true Orgasm Addict – “Well W you’re until May 1978, when asking in an alley and your voice some enterprising soul bootlegged them in an ain’t steady/The sex mechanic’s ugly cover. They were rough but you’re more than ready.” officiallyy released in 2000. Ably steered by manager/
KEY TRACKS G
Boredom Lester Sands G I Can’t Control Myself G
“LOVE IS NOT A RELEASE OR AN ESCAPE BUT AN EXQUISITE BLEND OF ATTRACTION AND REPULSION."
colleague Richard Boon, Buzzcocks could develop at their own pace – untroubled by the growing media attention given to London punk. Allied to their fast and trebly attack was Pete Shelley’s unerring pop sense and Devoto’s sophisticated, angry yet witty lyrics that, in songs like Boredom, commented on punk shibboleths just as they were becoming fixed. His unwillingness to be part of a movement was clearly telegraphed: as he sang, with a hint of self-mockery, on Breakdown, “I wander loaded as a crowd, a nowhere wolf of pain”. Within three months of their live debut, Buzzcocks went into Revolution Studio in Manchester and ran through 11 songs with engineer Andy McPherson in the space of one afternoon – at a cost of under £50. ‘Do something speedy or else’ was the imperative and all 11 tracks are jittery, rough and entirely compelling: songs of love, lust and disgust, songs about the mundanity of everyday life and the cruelties of austerity – Iggy, The Troggs and Captain Beefheart distilled into a caustic itch. This was the material that the group played in their early sets, bar lost epics like Peking Hooligan, and it shows them quickly hitting their first stride. Seven of the songs would be released the next year, but it’s great to hear Devoto singing Orgasm Addict and snarling his way through the otherwise unheard I Can’t Control Myself – “this kind of feeling could destroy a nation.” The sound is as far away from power chord rock as you could get, as Shelley’s dustbin lid guitar triangulates with Steve Diggle’s bass and John Maher’s busy, skittering drums. Beneath this 1.0 version of Buzzcocks is Devoto’s existential vision: as he sings on Boredom, “I’m living in this movie/But it doesn’t move me.” Love is not a release or an escape but an exquisite blend of attraction and repulsion. Everyday life is “falling into fancy fragments” while queueing for a can of beans. The language is extravagant, occasionally crude and threatening – as on the otherwise unrecorded, splenetic highlight Lester Sands: “Lester Sands is a stupid fucker/Lester Sands will stay that way.” Two months later, Buzzcocks went into Manchester’s Indigo Sound with fledgling producer Martin ‘Zero’ Hannett. Recorded in half an hour, the songs were faster, more confident, and the minimal overdubs fleshed out the sound: they were released a month later on the Spiral Scratch EP, only the third 45 to come out of UK punk. The sleeve reinforced the self-starter nature of the project, with the number of takes recorded on the flip and the instantaneous nature of the whole package reinforced by the group polaroid on the front sleeve. With its infamous two-note guitar solo – a piss-take of heavy metal, Shelley later confessed – and defining lyric, Boredom became an immediate punk standard. The other three songs – Time’s Up, Breakdown and Friends Of Mine – reinforced the fact that this was something unique: a total fusion of image, music, production and practice that would – in its demystification of the recording process – have a huge influence on the Desperate Bicycles, Scritti Politti and the whole DIY/ independent movement. And it came from Manchester.
All of Buzzcocks’ Devoto-era 1976 recordings reissued 40 years on. Legendary debut single Spiral Scratch as a limited edition replica 7-inch. By Jon Savage.
Friends of mine: Buzzcocks (front step, from left) Pete Shelley, Howard Devoto and young chums; (back, from left) John Maher and Steve Diggle, more chums.
Leftover Wine TALKING ELEPHANT. CD/DL
The hippy chanteuse unplugged and unrestrained in New York, 1970. With her loosestringed acoustic, softloud vocal technique and unrestrained confessionals apropos love, pain and fame, Melanie was a Woodstock Generation Kurt Cobain. This mostly live set from 1970 captures it all: nervy monologues, stage invasions, the ritualised baring of the post-psychedelic soul, even the odd Freud-lampooning clap-along. You can bet Plastic Ono John was eavesdropping. The first five songs are outrageously intimate. The come-gather-round vibe of Close To It All and Beautiful People bookend a raucous, roof-raising triptych – Uptown And Down, Momma Momma, The Saddest Thing – that transforms Carnegie Hall into a cathedral of lost souls. That’s nothing compared to Tuning My Guitar, a Star Is Born-type riff on fame that goes the full Judy Garland, starting out with pin-dropping sobriety and ending in a riot of flamenco rhythms and gut-wrenching howls from the young woman at the centre of it all. Mark Paytress
vard, Los Angeles. In May 1966, Ray Manzarek’s UCLA film student pal Nettie Peña captured The Doors’ gig there on a quarter-inch reel-to-reel recorder, and it’s now been remastered by Doors engineer, Bruce Botnick. Completists will need the remarkably early incarnations of Strange Days and You Make Me Real, but there’s a rehearsal-room feel to the set that’s fleshed-out by blues covers and a take on Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Fight It, the band audibly chatting between songs. The packaging – a mock-up of a File-AWay Archival Storage Box containing a facsimile of John Densmore’s hand-written setlist and black and white prints of Peña’s photos of the show – is nice, but let’s hope 2017’s planned releases for The Doors’ 50th anniversary bring more representative music. James McNair
London Fog 1966 RHINO. CD/DL/LP
The earliest-known live recording of The Doors. This patchy, seven song set is named for the dive bar once found between Hamburger Hamlet and The Galaxy nightclub on Sunset Boule-
Lackluster Me APOLLON. CD/DL/LP
First reissue – and vinyl debut – for A-ha linchpin’s unsung ‘other’ band.
The Revolutionary Years 1975-83 GROUNDED MUSIC. CD/DL
Roots reggae hero’s compelling ‘best of’.
A Multitude Of Angels A dark period in the jazz pianist's life illuminated. Keith Jarrett will never forget 1996. That was the year he began to show symptoms of an unknown disease later diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which then became so debilitating that it prevented him from performing for two years. This 4-CD box set of solo Italian concerts captures Jarrett at the very point that his illness was beginning to take hold. As he writes in the linernotes,
questing of Give I Fi I Name to the futurism of Pave The Way and Ready, Aim, Fire. With sterling musicianship throughout and pristine audio quality, the journey is gripping from start to finish. David Katz
though he felt weak, “a multitude of angels” (which included his wife and the audience) helped imbue him with the strength to continue. What results is arguably Jarrett’s most spellbinding work and greater, perhaps, given the circumstances, than his classic The Köln Concertt album. Sensing that he might never perform again, Jarrett is not paralysed by fear but, rather, plays with an emotional abandon that is profoundly cathartic. Charles Waring
During the mid-1970s, Pablo Moses slowly ascended from the Kingston underground to be crowned one of the most distinctive voices in reggae, his thin, high tenor matched by inscrutable lyrics, often delivered in thick patois. Working closely with multiinstrumentalist/producer, Geoffrey Chung of the Now Generation band, the individuality of his output sparked interest from Chris Blackwell, who made Moses an Island artist during the early 1980s, and later, part of Alligator’s short-lived reggae roster. This overdue retrospective collects many of the most memorable stepping stones that chart his early progression, from the visionary musings of Revolutionary Dream and the identity
In 1985, Norway’s A-ha became part of pop’s elite. When the bubble finally burst, the band’s songwriter-guitarist Pål Waaktaar chose rebirth in defiantly swarthy, mid-tempo rock, having clocked Radiohead and Eels. 1995 debut album Mary Is Coming (reissued in 2006) was followed by 1997’s Lackluster Me, the title underlining Waaktaar’s spiritual malaise – “Everything is washed in shades of grey/Ask me how I know that I’m alive,” runs I Still Cry. It might be the sound of pop industry disillusionment, depression or simply a writing exercise, but the music’s coiffured brooding is convincing, with co-writer/ guitarist/wife Lauren Savoy and noted session drummer Frode Unneland painting shades of grey behind Waaktaar’s soul-weary voice; maybe this was the music he’d always wanted to make. Savoy won Grammy-equivalents at home but escaped notice outside Norway – their bad luck for pre-empting the noughties’ Scandinavian renaissance. Martin Aston
Grey days: Savoy (from left) Pål Waaktaar, Lauren Savoy, Frode Unneland.
Complete Third OMNIVORE. CD/DL
A three-disc set: demos to sessions to roughs; roughs to mixes; final masters. The 69 tracks, 28 previously unissued, were recorded in Memphis studio Ardent, with Alex Chilton, drummer Jody Stephens and producer Jim Dickinson in 1974. Taken together they map what’s commonly known as Big Star’s Third d album progression from inception to torturous end. Early demos of Like St Joan (Kanga Roo) and The Beach Boys’ Don’t Worry Baby, featuring just Chilton and acoustic guitar, capture the soul of the man and are utterly captivating; a duet with then girlfriend Lesa Aldridge on The Beatles’ I’m So Tired signals trouble ahead; by the time Chilton’s inviting a lush off the street to join in on a cover of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, it’s anything goes. The final result was one of the greatest longplayers ever made. Lois Wilson
The Ronettes Featuring Veronica BEAR FAMILY. LP
Straight reissue of 1965 cashin LP that collects the preSpector Ronettes’ 45s. Between 1961 and ’63, The Ronettes recorded five singles for New York’s Colpix and May labels. In 1965, when the group were riding high in the charts by fronting Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound at Philles Records, Colpix put the songs together and issued them as an album in the US, UK and Holland. Spector undeniably had genius vision, but these early recordings show that Ronnie et al weren’t merely marionettes in his puppet show. Produced by Stu Phillips, the songs – from debut I Want A Boy, released under the banner of Ronnie And The Relatives, to their label swan song, Good Girls – are all incredibly stirring; Ronnie’s raw R&B vocal, cushioned by close background harmonies and Brill Building orchestral pop, already showing great emotional maturity and musical intelligence and providing Spector with a girl group pattern to readily exploit. Lois Wilson
World’s end: David Ruffin, loneliness was his destiny.
The perfect disaster The tragic Temptation’s 1969 solo debut should have sealed his reputation, says Geoff Brown.
My Whole World Ended
WHEN DAVID Ruffin’s formidably strong yet supple tenor exited The Temptations in 1968, his whole world didn’t exactly end, but neither did he flourish in the manner he, or many others outside Motown, expected. A rebellious soul who had a strong belief in his excellence as a singer, a belief borne out by almost all of the available recorded evidence, it nonetheless did not pay to upset the powers that be, and his reputation, deserved or not, as a man who was hard to work with is evident in the ups and downs of a solo career that spanned seven albums at Motown (1969-77), at least one shelved project and a duets LP with his older brother Jimmy. Two outstanding tracks crossed over into pop, both reaching Number 9 in the US. The first was this solo debut album’s title track, but only the second, 1976’s imperishable Walk Away From Love, connected in the UK, reaching Number 10 in the pop charts. Mississippian Ruffin, born in 1941, had moved to Detroit in the late ’50s, signed to the Anna label in 1960 as a solo singer but ended up joining The Temptations in 1963. For Ruffin,
joining a group, playing on the team, learning routines and discipline, was not part of his DNA. Add to that mix the other strong characters in The Temptations – notably Otis Williams – and its other outstanding lead singers (Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams) and proven producers like Smokey Robinson, who early on leaned more towards Kendricks’s voice but set Ruffin free on My Girl, their first pop Number 1. After flourishing as lead singer in Norman Whitfield’s productions (Ain’t To Proud To Beg’s opening plea “I know you want to leave me” defined his style; Beauty’s Only Skin Deep; You’re My Everything; I Wish It Would Rain), solo deification seemed assured when after five years as a Temptation, My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me), the opener from his solo debut album, sailed into the US Top 10. The teams of Motown songwriters who worked on My Whole World Ended d knew Ruffin well, which makes the tone of the material chosen by singer and producers striking and pertinent. With his personal life dogged by separation, departure, desertion and disruption, he thoroughly inhabits every story though a voice exceptionally well-suited to heartbreak. My Whole World… starts the album on the highest emotional note – his whole world ended
when his woman left him, his desperation summed up by: “You just might as well have placed a gun to my head.” Flute and guitar distinguish the instrumental track. Replacing the missing Temps, The Originals’ backing vocals leave plenty of room for Ruffin to express as his tough personal journey continues: Pieces Of A Man (“with an invisible knife, you’ve cut me clean in two”); I’ve Lost Everything I’ve Ever Loved (his parents die in a fire on the 14th floor when he’s four, grandma dies, even his dog dies. Now his girl has cooled on him); in both Somebody Stole My Dream and The Double Cross his girl goes off to marry another (in the latter it’s his best friend). These are not lucky men and their tales are perfect for Ruffin’s ruptured-heart tenor. World Of Darkness is full of inventive production curlicues and girl group The Andantes are outstanding as Ruffin’s cosmos collapses: “Take away my sight, it’s no good to me/’Cos loneliness is my destiny,” he roars. Thankfully, not all of the dozen songs are quite so bleak. An early cover of Robert Knight’s 1967 soul hit Everlasting Love, plus I’ve Got To Find Myself A Brand New Baby, My Love Is Growing Stronger, and We’ll Have A Good Thing Going On all foresee a positive outcome, but in general the grittier the tale, the stronger Ruffin’s grip on the song. After My Whole World Ended, d Ruffin recorded a less successful Feelin’ Good, d but when a third album was shelved (eventually released in 2004 as David), his behaviour – drugs, fractious relationships with women, notably Tammi Terrell – and availability to work became markedly unreliable. After brief, hopeful interludes – two albums with Warners, a reunion with the Temps, a 1985 live album with Kendricks and fans Hall & Oates – David Ruffin’s
Sings A Handful Of Songs EL/CHERRY RED. CD/DL
A rewarding glance back at the ’50s and ’60s output of a British jazz vocal great.
##### Trane 90 ACROBAT. CD
A Coltrane primer and joyful celebration. John Coltrane kept busting through musical borders, so much so that when the tenor/soprano saxophonist died in 1967, it was as if he’d leaped over all earthly boundaries and had to continue his journey in another realm. This 4-CD box celebrates the jazz giant’s 90th birthday, and if you aren’t familiar with Coltrane’s work – start here. (If you are, this is a killer mixtape!) Combining the fat tone of R&B honkers and the fleet phrasing of Charlie Parker, he conjured his own legendary “sheets of sound”. Each disc has a theme (sideman,leader,collaborations and broadcasts/private tapes), giving us examples of his evolution (bop, ballads, modal, free), peers (Dizzy, Monk, Miles, Rollins) and his mastery of composition (Giant Steps, Naima). While impossible to compile a Coltrane ‘Best Of’ – there’s too much ‘best’ – Trane 90 brilliantly functions as close to one as possible. Michael Simmons
full-length debut, funk and punk feed into futurist synthpop that clearly has one eye on the burgeoning MTV playlists. Armed only with keyboards and the odd sax flourish, ODW polished their sound until it gleamed, scoring a minor hit with the stripped-down Lawnchairs along the way. The influence of Scary Monsters-era Bowie looms large over Elevate Her and Auto Music, though the band were also quick to declaim their similarly austere UK counterparts (Gary Numan, Human League, Depeche Mode) as mere gimmicks at the time. A lavish and lovinglydetailed artefact, this reissue also reminds that their geographical beginnings put Our Daughter’s Wedding close to the earliest of hip-hop – faintly detectable somewhere in here – and clearly at the US electro-pop vanguard. Ben Myers
Moving Windows FUTURISMO. CD/LP
Triple-synth future-pop stylings on this 1982 debut. It’s telling that New York trio Our Daughter’s Wedding shared producers with Funkadelic, Iggy Pop and Duran Duran, for on their
Dread Operator: Produced By Adrian Sherwood HOT MILK. CD/DL
Errol Brown Our Daughter’s Wedding
dates from 1978, when BB Seaton of The Gaylads was working closely with Brown at Treasure Isle, cutting tracks with Ken Boothe and Mikey Dread along with selfproduced work, and although only ever issued in tiny numbers as a pre-release LP in the Bronx, these dubs pack a mighty punch, easily on par with any of the dub sets issued in the era by Channel One or Joe Gibbs. Outstanding tracks include Roots Rockas, a stripped down cut of Boothe’s Who Really Cares, and Black Forest Rock, a bass-heavy reading of Seaton’s Is Life. David Katz
Orthodox Dub DUB STORE. CD/DL/LP
Extremely rare 1978 dub album stands up against any from that era. Errol Brown began engineering through family connections; producer Duke Reid was his uncle. Trained by the highly-skilled Byron Smith, chief engineer at Reid’s Treasure Isle facility, Brown cut his teeth mixing Alton Ellis, The Paragons, Peter Tosh and Marcia Griffiths. Orthodox Dub
Tracing the missing links to On-U Sound. Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label has been hailed for its unbridled experimentation, mashing up reggae, dub, post-punk, funk and other forms refracted through the lens of a workingclass British sensibility. Running an independent label on this uncompromising basis could be a risky business in the early 1980s, and when Sherwood faced bankruptcy he needed other outlets to fill the gaps, which is why Cherry Red issued the four LPs that are the subject of this boxed retrospective. Singers & Players’ Leaps & Bounds is the pick of the bunch, with Congo Ashanti Roy’s Breaking Down The Pressure and Mikey Dread’s Autobiography worth the price of admission alone; Creation Rebel’s dub-heavy Threat To Creation and Lows &
Highs both have some noteworthy reworkings of classic Jamaican rhythms, though the hodgepodge of Wild Paarty Sounds is less enticing. David Katz
Annie Ross was immersed in jazz right from the onset, initially being raised by her aunt, singer Ella Logan. This excellent release includes the complete 1959 A Gasser! album, on which Ross was accompanied by such as Zoot Sims Jim Hall, Bill Perkins and Russ Freeman, along with Sings A Handful Of Songs, a set recorded in England during 1963 and featuring a classy array of Johnny Spence arrangements honed by a John Barry production. Also featured are selections of her work as part of the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross vocal trio and, of lesser interest maybe, the original cast recording of Cranks, the surrealist musical that found her on-stage alongside an up-and-coming Anthony Newley. Fred Dellar
Moving On Up A Little Higher SHANACHIE. CD/DL
Twenty-two previously unissued live performances from the queen of gospel spanning 1946 to ’57. “I got to feel this thing, it’s got to be a part of me,” Mahalia Jackson announces just before launching into Keep Your Hand On The Plow, one of nine recordings taken from her spectacular 1957 Newport Jazz Festival appearance. With Dickie Mitchell pounding that church organ, she blueprints Aretha at Atlantic a decade earlier, as hymnal becomes rousing rocker and jazz crowd becomes reverent congregation. Earlier performances in Chicago’s Wendell Phillips High School and the Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church capture her raw and intimate on Have A Little Talk With Jesus and Getting Happy In Chicago. A magisterial reading of The Reunion in her front room from 1955, meanwhile, is of particular value as the only known recording of the singer with pianist Thomas A. Dorsey. Lois Wilson
14 Iced Bears
14 Iced Bears OPTIC NERVE. LP
Deluxe of debut full-length set by late ’80s indie-psych janglers includes rare EPs. Soft-spoken enough to earn themselves a single on Sarah Records, it was 14 Iced Bears’ propensity for hazy ’60s psychedelia and garage spikiness that separated them from many of their C86-era contemporaries. Released in 1988 on the shortlived Thunderball label, their first eponymous album followed a trio of well received EPs that also fill out this expanded reissue. Boasting winsome melody and endearing naiveté in abundance, the ’Bears’ quintessential indie charm has been little diminished by the passage of time. Through hailstone squall (Take It) and delicate introspection (Moths; Dust Remains) to kaleidoscope psych (Florence) and shoegaze-style shimmer (Surfacer), a direction embraced in earnest with second album Wonderr (also reissued this month), this is a welcome flashback to the glory days of the ‘scene in between’. Andrew Carden
VINYL PACKAGE hear the sound of revolution in these dreamy, dulcet grooves. Martin Aston
The Jazz Singer: The Muse Years 1972-1991 SOUL BROTHER. CD/DL/LP
Love Is A Drag
Superb anthology of the late jazz vocalist’s overlooked indie years.
Love Is A Drag
In the 1950s, at the dawn of his career, Syracuse, NY-born Mark Murphy was being hailed as the new Frank Sinatra but his subsequent career trajectory took him in another direction completely. Influenced by the phrasing and improvisation of bebop horn players, he recast himself as a motor-mouthed, virtuoso vocalist who could deliver complex melodies with a breathless athleticism – Tony Bennett on speed, if you will. This compilation finds Murphy at a particularly fertile period on Joe Field’s Muse label and includes some fine examples of the singer’s main forte, vocalese, in which he sang and composed lyrics to preexisting jazz instrumentals. Versions of Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments and Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay (as On The Red Cay) encapsulate Murphy’s genius. Listen out also for a fine jazz deconstruction of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. Charles Waring
MODERN HARMONIC. CD/DL/LP
1962 rarity, no artist credited. Subtitle: For Adult Listeners Only, Sultry Stylings By A Most Unusual Vocalist holds a clue. The artwork – two men in shadow, one blowing cigarette smoke – resembles the hip pose of a jazz disc, but the contents said otherwise: love songs typically voiced by women sung by a man. On release in 1962, the first album ever conceived for the nascent (if still criminalised) gay community was understandably uncredited, but in 2012 the instigator of the recording, Hollywood photographer Murray Garrett, revealed that the singer was (straight) Gene Howard, a crooner with the Stan Kenton and Gene Krupa big bands, who infused standards such as Mad About The Boy and The Man I Love with requisite romantic longing. While it’s true that the piano-bar settings were dated by 1962, it’s nonetheless no great stretch of the imagination to
The Girls Want The Boys!: Sweden’s Beat Girls 1964-1970 ACE. CD/DL/LP
The ’60s Scandi Invasion: a pre-Abba Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad feature. Eleanor Bodel spent 1968 and ’69 hitting the Swedish charts with covers of Neil Sedaka, Del Shannon and Goffin & King songs. It’s a little known B-side of hers, though, that lends this compendium of Swedish she-pop its title. A two-minute rush of tambourine shaking, guitar strumming and excitable vocals, The Girls Want The Boys embodies the thrill and intoxication of a teenage crush as well as any of Bodel’s US girl group peers did on their 45s. Meanwhile, Plommons, four girls with guitars who dressed in matching garb, look to the Brit Invasion on the beguiling Last Train To Liverpool from ’66. Elsewhere Lena Junoff delivers poppy R&B with 1968’s Good Kind Of Hurt; Doris’s Don’t, a yelping funk with big brass, still fills rare soul dancefloors today. Lois Wilson
Black Sabb The Ultimate BMG
he music made by Sabbath’s original line-up has been anthologised endlessly over the last four decades, their very first compilation, We Sold Our Souls For Rock’n’Roll,l emerging on the NEMS label in 1975, three years before Ozzy was unceremoniously fired from the band. Unlike that exploitative collection (and several others that followed in its wake), this 31-track affair comes with the band’s complete seal of approval, gathering up their most well-known tunes (Paranoid opens the proceedings) alongside deeper cuts (Rat Salad and Dirty Women, both now restored to Sabs’ current setlist on their global swan song). Impressively remastered, they are pressed on four heavyweight LPs housed in a lavish sleeve which folds out into a gigantic crucifix. CP
and the single mixes. It looks great, has been tautly mastered and, naturally, the centrepiece album is near faultless, but sadly ringing truer than ever. What IS going on? Jim Irvin
Yabby You & The Prophets
Beware Dub PRESSURE SOUNDS. CD/DL/LP
What’s Going On T MLA MOTOWN. LP TA
Does it make you wanna holler? Try this consoling four-disc vinyl box.
Girl seeks boy: Agnetha Fältskog, preAbba Beat Girl.
Marvin’s successful experiment fusing sociopolitical rumination to achingly beautiful soul music has been issued over 150 times, across multiple formats (DCC anyone?). Previous vinyl reissues include some with extra tracks, a camouflage picture disc and a unique Japanese quadrophonic edition. Now here’s one that’s both covetable and reasonably priced. Four LPs in a slip case box: the album we all know; the fascinating, slightly rawer original Detroit mix (previously only on a deluxe CD edition and French vinyl bootleg); a 1972 live performance that included the entire album and a closing side of bonus tracks: Sad Tomorrows (the B-side, early version of Flying High), Head Title (an early Distant Lover)
Peak-period King Tubby’s dub classic, enticingly expanded. As a Christian rasta in Jamaica, Yabby You’s music is forever attributed with ‘otherness’. Né Vivian Jackson, his early self-productions carry a mood of hymnal foreboding totally unique in mid-’70s roots. A sickly, arthritic youth, his origins in the Kingston ghetto of Waterhouse only turned to the positive when he chose to voice and mix his early 45s locally, at the poky studio of mild-mannered electrical wizz Tubby. Their association continued through the ’70s, and as Tubby’s star ascended and dub exploded transatlantically, Beware Dub – Jackson’s second comp of versions from Tubby, and his apprentices Prince Jammy and Scientist – scored high with London’s punks, sealing its era-classic status. Though hardly its inaugural reissue, this edition brackets the original album with unheard dubplate takes on Conquering Lion and God Is Watching You, which strip out the bass and drums, of all things, for a meditation on each track’s dread-chant core. Andrew Perry
Singles: The Definitive 45s Collection 1952-1991 STRUT. CD/DL/LP
Beautifully packaged collection bringing together all of Herman P Blount’s super-rare 7-inch sounds. Sun Ra authority Irwin Chusid must be applauded for this huge cosmic undertaking. When the Evidence label first released a Ra singles collection back in 1996, it amounted to 49 tracks across 2-CDs, many sourced from crackly vinyl. Now we have 3-CDs and 65 cuts, remastered from session reels belonging to Arkestra percussionist and Sun Ra Music Archive executive director, Michael D Anderson. Released for commercial jukebox play, or sold at gigs or via mail order, largely in the 1950s, Ra’s singles document a space-bop sound often significantly different from the Arkestra’s longplaying records, straightahead boplicity, twisting doowop harmonies and melancholy blues spiked with modernist dissonances and funky atonality. The jazz roots of George Clinton’s Mothership, Ra’s visionary music now sounds simultaneously joyous and bereft, a possible future now consigned to the past. Andrew Male
Fresh Cream (Deluxe Edition)
The Life Of A Man
COMMERCIAL MARKETING. CD/DL
1966 debut by the power trio who altered the course of rock. Four discs comprise the mono mix; stereo; early versions and outtakes plus BBC sessions; US stereo mix on Blu-Ray audio. A 6-LP version is due in April. CP
### SONY. CD
Posthumous best of the much loved Sheffield soul man condenses 2012’s 2-CD The Ultimate Hits 1968-2013 onto a single disc with the later material largely removed, apart from 2012’s rather unfunky I Come In Peace. CP
Bob Marley in stages, on stages. By Jim Irvin
uly 1975: Stepping onto the boards at London’s Lyceum Ballroom, Bob Marley found himself on the brink of something. First would come stardom. The Wailers had been popular – on and off – for 10 years in Jamaica. Elsewhere, everybody knew it was just a matter of time. d had Latest album, Natty Dread peaked at Number 43 here; a decent result for a reggae LP, but hardly a breakout smash. These shows were about to provide that. There were two nights at the 2,000 capacity venue, July 17 and 18, recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile rig. Hearing both shows in full, across three vinyl albums or two CDs on new expanded editions of the classic Bob Marley & The Wailers Live! (UMC) ####, it’s clear each night was equally strong, though the crowd, including many ex-pat Jamaicans, was perhaps more boisterous on the first night. Crucially, this was the British debut of Wailers 2.0. Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston had departed before Natty Dread d and Marley was fronting alone. The band had been expanded, with vocal assistance provided by the I-Threes, a female trio featuring Marley’s wife Rita, yet long-time Wailers fans might have expected this new iteration to be lacking something. Marley immediately quashes that thought with a stirring Trench Town Rock, its opening line,
y I got this”: Bob Marley, sans Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, has the last laugh.
“WHEN HE GETS TO NO WOMAN, NO CRY, A SMALL AND INTIMATE SONG IN THE STUDIO, THE CROWD SING ALONG LUSTILY.”
The Holy Mackerel
Lee Hazlewood agrees. When he gets to No Woman, No Cry, a rather small, intimate song in its studio form, the crowd sings along lustily. The extra wattage of 2,000 ecstatic souls gave Marley his first UK Top 10 hit. By the time Bob Marley – The Legend Live (Trojan) #### was filmed and recorded at Santa Barbara County Bowl on November 25, 1979 Marley had almost ascended to mythical status, a cypher for sufferahs everywhere, beacon of a musical third way – neither rock nor R&B, a ragamuffin sage to whom religion, sex, music, politics and herb were all part of the same drive; he addressed them all in his songs. He starts this set with a mini sermon, pretty baffling to Americans who’d come to party, but then launches into a deep and dubby Positive Vibration. Once again, immediately setting the agenda. The band is diamond solid (though I’d forgotten how incongruously bluesy the guitar solos were!), the I-Threes are seasoned and a taut horn section is present. Bob’s voice is gruffer now but commanding. The Lyceum shows sound tentative by comparison. The mix is a little sketchy, but it’s an appealing, appropriate roughness. This CD has a DVD film of the full show (plus documentary material) that was unavailable for review. It was one of his last shows to be shot. Two generous, desirable packages, your choice is between Marley on the cusp of greatness and Marley in his full pomp.
Cowboy In Sweden
Remastered country soundtrack to Hazlewood’s eccentric 1970 TV biopic. Suzi Jane Hokom and Swedish actress Nina Lizell’s Nancy-esque on Hey Cowboy – as Hazlewood and horse emerge from an aircraft hold. Period fun. CP
1968 psych-lite folk, country and MOR rocking with West Coast period charm, by songwriter Paul Williams’ early group. Remastered from the original in a new vinyl edition, with notes from Williams. IH
A Place For Us To Dream
SHIP TO SHORE PHONOCO. LP
#### WARNER. CD/DL
Dynamic 2-CD anthology of the glammiest outsiders with a run of singles as peppy as the Buzzcocks’, as stylish as T. Rex’s and as melodramatic as Ziggy-era Bowie. Arena-sized alienation, with class. MP
First posthumous career-scoop with unreleased Moonbeam Levels from 1982, and seven tracks new to CD (single edits of such as Let’s Go Crazy, Let’s Work, Little Red Corvette, etc) among the 40 songs. Tons left, then. Party like it’s 1999. GB
Tower Of Power
Bump City/Tower Of Power
Action Time Vision
Second (’72) and third (’73) LPs by the Oakland band with big line-up (11-piece) and sound (horn section, Lenny Pickett, Emilio Castillo etc) to match. Lenny Williams joined TOP for its funky hit What Is Hip? GB
#### CHERRY RED. CD
Mega 4-CD, 111-track, ’76-79 anthology focuses solely on independent punk releases. So stars (Damned, Ruts, SLF, Skids, Adam & Ants) swim with the era’s deluge of misfits and one-offs: Cortinas, Cravats, Menace, Jerks, Proles et al. KC
The Glitter Band
Original Album Series
Original Album Series
The RCA Active Years: 1981-1982
PLG UK CATALOG. CD
WARNERS MUSIC/PARLOPHONE. CD
B-Real and Sen-Dog’s dusted homicidal chicanery and DJ Muggs’ brilliant bassy boo-ya beats come housed in a 3D black resin skull on this 25th anniversary reissue. Shame the LA crew’s menace has seemed all too phantom since. AC
First five LPs from electronica pioneer – fading from the still-gorgeous boffin pop of The Golden Age Of Wireless into the becalmed AOR of 1992’s Astronauts & Heretics, via Aliens Ate My Buick’s goofy jazz-funk intermission. Once, this sounded like the future. DE
1977’s Sneakin’ Suspicion, the Feelgoods’ final album with Wilko Johnson, kicks off this 5-CD set which curiously omits ’79’s Private Practice but runs until 1981’s live affair, On The Job. Nevertheless, it’s maximum R&B at a budget price. PA
Burberry Box Set
The Solo Collection
GETT ON DOWN. CD
CAPTAIN OI!/7T’S. CD
Four LPs, ’74-76: stack heeled, Bacofoil’d debut Hey!! has the big hits and ace Glitterbeat thump. Thereafter they drift increasingly to pop normality, their 1976 disco version of Sympathy For The Devil sadly not as good as it promises. IH
The Nashville Teens Tobacco Road
Elton-curated, limited box of six LPs suitably-overdressed in a glittery box designed by Burberry. Spans the unimpeachable (Elton John, Madman…, Captain Fantastic) to personal picks (2001’s Songs From The Westt Coast). CP
First two LPs of her post-Pips career, Miss Gladys Knight and Gladys Knightt plus a CD of 45s, and a 12-incher. Her solo career didn’t spring off the starting blocks – songs, production not the best. But that voice can still take your breath away. GB
Deluxe ed of the Basildon pop sensation’s hit-packed synthsoul solo album from 1984, her first post-Yazoo. Repackaged in hardback with a second disc of 12-inch mixes, live versions etc. Follow-ups Raindancing, Hoodoo and Essexx also out. CP
Three LPs of synth-heavy space rock made up the Hawks’ brief tenure at RCA’s Active imprint. Here are all three in a clamshell box: Sonic Attackk (1981), Church Of Hawkwind d and Choose Your Masks (both ’82). PA
When A Man Loves A Woman/Warm & Tender Soul
Fine UK rock’n’roll/R&B band, terrific live, two singers, good piano (John Hawken), drums (Barrie Jenkins) heard here on 22 broadcast or unreleased tracks (1966-71). Heard them on Lee Lewis’s Star-Club date? GB
Southern soul man Sledge’s first two Atlantic albums (’66, ’67), part of three Edsel packs. This one has iconic title track, It Tears Me Up on the second. Three bonuses; tidy packs. GB
Theatre Of Hate
Tumblers From The Vaults (1970-1972)
#### CHERRY RED. CD
Two-CDs of Toronto electronic visionaries 1970’s self-titled set and ’71’s Long Lost Relatives. A future-now strain of rippling instrumental psychedelia, far beyond even fellow Moog pioneer Wendy Carlos. MA
Heavy with Cold War dread yet full of post-punk’s possibiity, Theatre Of Hate’s 1982 Mick Jones-produced album gets a fittingly ambitious 3-CD upgrade. B-sides (incl. stellar Propaganda), live CD, rarities, linernotes: terrific package. KC
I Don’t Care: Dutch Punk 1977-1983
RVNG INTL. CD/LP
Nether-punk notables The Ex, Ivy Greens, Rondos, Tits and more. Influenced by UK and US strains, it starts fast and gobby – not one but two songs rejoicing in the death of Elvis – and doesn’t deviate much. IH
Subtitled: 62 Classics From The Cramps’ Insane Collection, this 2-CD set – third in the series – delivers just that. From Jimmy Haskell’s 1959 space stomper Blast Off! to the comedic final waltz of ’40s satirist Spike Jones’ Chloe, it’s a wild ride. PA
14 Iced Bears 106 A Tribe Called Quest 92 A Winged Victory For The Sullen 95 Andrews, Courtney Marie 97 Austra 95 Bazan, David 97 Big Star 104 107 Black Sabbath Blue Aeroplanes 96 Bonobo 98 Brown, Errol 106 Buzzcocks 102 Byrne, Julie 94 Carter, Frank 90 Chapman, Michael 88 Childish Gambino 92 Coltrane, John 106 Cunningham, Charlie 98 Dead Light 98 Doors, The 104 Dougall, Rose Elinor 93 9 Eitzel, Mark Eno, Brian 9 Entrance 9 Escovedo, Alejandro 9 Fearon, Clinton 9 Flaming Lips, The 9 Foxygen 9 Garzón-Montano, Gabriel 9 Gaye, Marvin 10 Half Japanese 94 Hillage, Steve 104 Horse Thief 94 Immersion 98 Jackson, Mahalia 106 Jarrett 104 Jóhannsson, Jóhann 95 Leão, Rodrigo & Matthew, Scott 93 Led Bib 96
Leg, James 93 Love Is A Drag 107 Lundberg,Ebbot 98 Mehldau, Brad & Thile, Chris 90 Melanie 104 Mills, Mike & McDuffie, Robert 93 Moon Duo 90 Morrissey, Flo & E White, Matthew 90 MOSAIC 97 104 Moses, Pablo Murphy, Mark 107 Oldfield, Mike 96 Olympians, The 92 Omar 97 Oskar’s Drum 94 Our Daughters Wedding 106 Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, The 98 Parekh & Singh 98 Piano Magic 95
Pink Martini 92 Ronettes, The 104 Ross, Annie 106 Ruffin, David 105 Savoy 104 Segall, Ty 90 Senior Jr, Henry 97 Sun Ra 107 Tasjan, Aaron Lee 96 Tilston, Steve & Lowe, Jez 96 Toothless 90 Various: Dread Operator 106 Various: Swedish Beat Girls 107 Vitalic 95 Webster, Lindsey 97 xx, The 91 Yabby You & The Prophets107 COMING NEXT MONTH Jesca Hoop (below), Elbow, Jimmy Scott,Tinariwen, Pissed Jeans Jose J I H
Rudie Can’t Fail Add N To (X)
Add Insult To Injury MUTE 2000
hen Mute label head Daniel Miller signed south London synth deviants Add N To (X) in 1997, they slid neatly into the discography h next to releases l by b Throbbing h bb Gristle, The Normal and D.A.F. “Add N To (X) seemed to be out in their own world,” says Miller. “It was very freeform, anarchic, raw analogue electronics, which was very unfashionable at that time.” What did he think when he heard their album Add Insult To Injury? “Glam.” Glam’s one word for it. Formed in London’s Camberwell in 1994, with inspirations including the satisfying wrongnesses of outsider art and the theories of Buckminster Fuller and Kurt Schwitters, their spirited mistreatments of Moogs, Korgs and mellotrons were immediately striking. When they began work on their fourth LP in early 2000, their urge to unnerve was undimmed: member Steve Claydon describes the programme as, “to provide an alternative model and catalyse something aggressive, sensitive, gross and fragile… we just poured ourselves into our own vivid electronic meat grinder.” Initially, they’d planned to record it in Chicago with Steve Albini; instead, sessions were split over two locations. Founder member Barry 7 would work at Loon Wire studios in Shefﬁeld with producer and arranger Dean Honer; the latter would also join Claydon and “trouble-maker and soothsayer” Ann Shenton at the sleepy Villa Noailles in Provence, where Man Ray ﬁlmed in the ’20s. Says Shenton, “Barry had a huge set-up in Shefﬁeld: tonnes of synths in
v they recorded direct to DAT. “Sometimes chaos ruled,” says Shenton of the French sessions. “We had lobsters walking on synths and it was all quite surreal in this modernist villa. The gardens were laid out like the bow of a ship, crawling with geckos and scorpions.” Honer’s recollections are more practical. “I wouldn’t say the sessions were chaotic. Barry had just moved up to Shefﬁeld and we recorded live drums and other bits in his house and did the mixing and extra synths at my Shefﬁeld studio. We kind of made it up as we went along. A lot of the synths were in need of a service, so a short sharp punch to the chassis would be the ﬁrst thing to try if a machine – or person – was misbehaving.” Analogue synth-rock ﬁlth rich in novelty threat, crackpot energy and strange gravity resulted. Songs could be uncomfortably conceptualised: glam hooligan mantra Monster Bobby was a vision of future football crowd control depicting a giant head of Bobby M The languid B Shenton, is “a lov ﬂy who impregna lay his eggs, even ultimately dies.” Mute’s belief glam potential, m was expressed by suggestive single Me In. Its rude vid ﬁlmed by Jonny T and featured two models and a com juddering dildocalled the ‘amazi machine’, in a run hotel in Hay-on-W “We originally wa do something lik classic sped-up s scene in A Clockw Orange,” says Tru
“WE JUST POURED OURSELVES INTO OUR OWN VIVID ELECTRONIC MEAT GRINDER.” Steve Claydon
Tracks: Adding N To X / Brothel Charge / You Must Create / Kingdom Of Shades / Monster Bobby / Poke ’Er ’Ole / Plug Me In / Hit For Cheese / MDMH (Miami Dust Mite Harvest) / B.P. Perino / Incinerator No. 1 / The Regent Is Dead Personnel: Ann Shenton (synths, flute, cello, vocals); Barry 7 (synths, keyboards); Steve Claydon (synths, bass, cello, keys); Dave Williamson (bass); Joe Dilworth (drums); Rob Allum (synths, bass, percussion); Ben Rymer (vocals); Ross Orton (drums) Producers/Arrangers: Dean Honer/Add N To (X) Engineers: ‘Greebo’ Jones, 7, Honer Recorded: Loon Wire, Sheffield; Villa Noailles, Provence Released: 2000 Chart peak: none Available: second-hand
though, asserts they were not simply obsessed with sex. “I think it was a vehicle to address a larger group of concerns. Animism and animated machines. Synths as emotional beings. Our beings collaboration with the analogue kit questioned the nature of authorship; it was a reciprocal endeavour. Personally I was not bothered about exposing sexual taboos, although we did possess a number of massive organs.” The LP came out, with scratch and iff panels on the cover scented with e smell of grass, as used by anglers to avour bait. Even so, the world remained nmoved. 2002’s Loud Like Nature made ood on threats to move in an agrarian rection, but when Shenton left during ur rehearsals, the end was nigh. Honer remains impressed, though. he live shows were often amazing, narchic and primal, the antithesis of the dious head-nod laptop bands that oliferate now,” he says. “It was often e battle with the instruments and each her, that gave them an edge. They were ahead of their time.” Shenton hopes we may yet hear more from this singuar group. “I hope to record with Steve and Barry again,” she says. “Maybe they’ll collaborate on something with me for my new project, My Stinking Cosmos.” Ian Harrison
Getty Images, Dean Chalkley/Camera Press
This month’s victim found preserved in rock obscuria’s alkaline peat bog: an electronic detonation of exultation and disgust.
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Various 10 Curtis Mayfield’s
SONY LEGACY/OKEH Y 1995 £10.41
You Say: “Not just a great singer, dig these song/productions!” S Ball, via e-mail Before founding his own label, Curtom, in 1968, Curtis had been shaping the sound of others in his native Chicago for some years. Of the 18 tracks from 1963-65 here, 14 are Mayfield songs, eight are co-produced by him with the one of the city’s other studio legends, Carl Davis. With that provenance, quality is assured from Major Lance (five tracks including staples of The Impressions’ catalogue such as The Monkey Time and I’m The One Who Loves You), Billy Butler & The Enchanters (another five tracks from Jerry Butler’s younger brother), four from balladeer Walter Jackson, and more obviously commercial aim taken by The Artistics, The Opals and Gene Chandler.
The conscience of Chicago soul. By Geoff Brown.
f all the many tragedies these pages have recalled, there is none so awful, avoidable and simply mundane as the accident that befell Curtis Mayﬁeld on August 13, 1990, when a lighting rigging fell on him on-stage during a storm at Wingate Field, Flatbush, NY. Paralysed from the neck down, he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and died in 1999, aged just 57, but not before recording a ﬁnal album i n a painstaking, exhausting process. Happily for us, he’d already left a wonderful legacy of recordings. Born in Chicago in 1942 and raised in the Cabrini-Green projects, Mayﬁeld embodied that city’s soul sounds as a singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, label owner, performer, and talent scout. Singing gospel from the age of seven, things took off in 1956 when he joined lead singer Jerry Butler in local group Th The R Roosters. t TTwo years llater t th they became The Impressions, and recorded For
“WE SEEM TO BE ABLE TO DO EVERYTHING BUT GET ALONG.”
delicate falsetto vocal. From the mid 60s he absorbed into his work the impact of the US’s domestic battles and wars overseas, giving his catalogue a sociopolitical edge it never lost until he, like many of his era, struggled in the disco boom. Mayﬁeld later produced Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and The Staple Singers, among others, mothballed then reactivated his Curtom label, and was garlanded as both group and solo recording artist and songwriter. “We seem to be able to do everything but get along,” he tells the New York audience on Live!! With much-sampled and covered songs of encouragement and attainment like People Get Ready, Move On Up, Keep On Pushing, few did more to educate and heal than Curtis.
CAST YOUR VOTES! This month you chose your Top 10 Curtis Mayfield LPs. Next month we want your Bill Evans and groups Top 10. Send your selections to www. mojo4music.com or e-mail your Top 10 to email@example.com with the subject ‘How To Buy Bill Evans’ and we’ll print p the best comments.
Mayfield 4WorldCurtis Back To The CURTOM 1973 £5
You Say: “Everything up to ’77 is essential, but this is consistently excellent.” David Nathaniel, MOJO Facebook After the thundering success of his Superflyy soundtrack, Curtis spread the debate from ghetto experience to state-ofthe-nation critique. Set to typically well-wrought melodies, set in motion by the returning GI of the title track – “Soldier boy ain’t got no job… It’s so hard, back in the world” – his plight is offset by the lush orchestration, hummable tune and easy loping pace. Elsewhere, Future Shock and Right On For The Darkness lay out Mayfield’s concerns about the state of America, Rich Tufo’s arrangement enriching the latter. The spiritual Future Song is uptempo, optimistic; he looks back to more innocent times in If I Were Only A Child Again: “there were never such things to me as black and white”.
Getty Images, Rex, Alamy
Curtis Mayfield he Curtis Mayfield Curtis Mayfield he 9Order New World 8TheImpressions Curtis/Live! 6 Roots 5 Impressions 7 Young Mods’ Definitive WARNER BROS 1996 £5
You Say: “Wouldn’t know his physical limitations unless you were told.” Stephen Hofman, MOJO Facebook Following the terrible accident of August 1990, which left Curtis paralysed from the neck down, he was unable to play guitar but still strong in mind and determined to write and record. Thus this wonderful and unexpected comeback album of hope, courage and renewal. Despite the challenges faced in recording – laying on his back in the Atlanta studios, singing one painstaking line at a time – New World Orderr is an immediate and organic piece of work with his original new material as melodically strong and lyrically wise as ever. Guests Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin crowd in to support, but this was Curtis’s show, a valediction, and a triumphant close to the end of a rich working life.
Curtis Mayfield Superfly CURTOM 1972 £5.53, VINYL £6.44
You Say: “No blaxploitation soundtrack has melodies like these.” D Low, via e-mail Mayfield’s only US Number 1 pop album, his blaxploitation soundtrack Superflyy stands alongside Shaftt and Trouble Man as the genre’s peaks. The 1972 single LP of Superfly has perhaps the subtler pieces, while Shaftt has the vigour. Superflyy is no less effective for that. As well as its title track, Freddie’s Dead, Pusherman and opener Little Child Runnin’ Wild draw vivid outlines for the film’s action as the arrangements by Curtis, Rich Tufo and Johnny Pate drive the action, while Give Me Your Love (Love Song) is more than a romantic interlude. Among the expanded CD sets – Rhino’s has extra soundtrack music, alternate takes, radio spots, and a Curtis interview; worth finding is a ’98 Sequel pairing of Superfly with 1977’s Short Eyes, the Mayfield soundtrack with Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here.
Forgotten Story/ This Is My Country SEQUEL 1996, £5.64 CHARLY L 2008 £11.99
You Say: “Took balls to write Choice Of Colors at a time like that.” Anthony Kerr, MOJO Facebook An old Imps pairing worth seeking because on these two albums Curtis first engages successfully with the LP form from happy dancer (Stay Close To Me) via heartache (Gone Away) and pain (Fool For You), to the strong social messages of This Is My Country, Choice Of Colors and Mighty Mighty (Spade & Whitey), none of which are on Definitive (see No.5). This Is My Country, y from 1968, has a Donny Hathaway co-write; the following year’s Young Mods’… has Hathaway arrangements as he becomes a fixture at Curtom early in his brief career. Curtis made only one more LP with the Imps, but these were outstanding.
CURTOM 1971 £5, VINYL £11
CURTOM 1971 £5
You Say: “Proof he was as good on-stage as in a studio.” D White, via e-mail
You Say: “Mad this gem came so soon after Curtis.” Baz Coulson, via e-mail
Not a demonstrative or dancin’ live performer, Mayfield’s attractive melodies, powerful messages, deep sincerity and tight band nonetheless connected on-stage. This double is the best of several live sets. Taped at New York’s Bitter End, his comments and asides draw whoops of approbation on the likes of I Plan To Stay A Believer and We’re A Winner. On a good balance between older Imps material (Gypsy Woman too fast for my taste) and his then-new writing, he even hints at an unexpected social profundity in The Carpenters’ We’ve Only Just Begun. Ends with long jams on (Don’t Worry) If There’s Hell Below… and Stone Junkie. Other live sets include Curtis In Chicago (1973), At Ronnie Scott’s (1988), Radio 1 Live In Concertt (1990), but start here.
Roots was his second classic solo album – seven strong songs, excellent band and orchestral arrangements. Funky opener Get Down predicts the loose grooves Marvin Gaye would cut in the mid-tolate ’70s and plays like disco’s precursor. Keep On Keeping On evolves Move On Up’s aspirational theme and he grapples with environmental issues on Underground which, like an H.G. Wells sci-fi story, pictures a planet despoiled by man, forcing us to live beneath the surface: “We’ll all turn black, so who’s to know…” But his music is irrepressibly optimistic at its core – We Got To Have Peace and Beautiful Brother Of Mine, driven by compelling drums/ congas, blow away the clouds. Typically, Love To Keep You In My Mind closes with a message of constancy and hope.
KENT 2002 £11.50
You Say: “Updated the great Big Sixteen vinyl collection of ’65.” G Jackson, via e-mail Like most groups flourishing in the early ’60s, The Impressions’ best work for most of that decade was to be found on 45s. And of the many compilations out there, this is the neatest, tightest, best summation of their hit-strewn start. Its 28 songs span 1961-68 and have all the essential sides of Curtisera Imps, from the camp fire flicker of Gypsy Woman to the emerging pride of We’re A Winner. Mayfield’s Chicago soul sourced sounds and style from Motown (You’ve Been Cheatin’, Can’t Satisfy), doowop (I’m So Proud), and, like Sam Cooke, freely borrowed from gospel to spread the pop-soul word and d subtly sig nal social changes (Amen, People Get Ready, Keep On Pushing), but they were all inimitably Curtis.
Curtis Mayfield There’s No Place Like America Today CURTOM 1975 £9.34, VINYL £8.37
You Say: “Curtis’s sharp overview, in the best Curtis cover.” B Mathers, via e-mail An album made over 40 years ago, yet its predominantly dark mood and subject matter resonate as loudly today as in the mid ’70s. The seven songs paint a picture of a nation divided, illustrated by Peter Palombi’s evocative sleeve image of white comfort and privilege and black hard times. Indeed, the penultimate track is Hard Times, its solid if gentle funk a highlight (hear Baby Huey’s terrific earlier version too). Strong song stories include Billy Jack, shot dead in the brooding, funky opener that takes his name, and the uncertainty, not promise, that arrives in When Seasons Change. But Mayfield’s a healer – the steady gospel of Jesus and gorgeous reassurance of So In Love as it echoes doo-wop days balance the darkness.
Curtis Mayfield Curtis CURTOM 1970 £6, VINYL £21.54
You Say: “Still a stunning solo d Up was a gift to many careers.” After an Imps career already bulgi genre classics, Curtis provided the new label debut. From the very sta doesn’t mince words (opener (Do There’s A Hell Below We’re All Go as ever he also uplifts the spirit wi gospel-rooted calls-to-arms, as ex the much-covered, much-sample as good a black power/empower as those being penned at the time Gaye, Stevie Wonder, James Brown delicate black pride of We The Peo Are Darker Than Blue and Miss Bla America are exceptional.
For Curtis Mayfield boxes, start with Rhino’s 1996 3CD People Get Ready There’s also MCA’s Impressions heavy 2CD set The Anthology 1961 77 from ’92. udite man, ty – but the g Soul: The ayfield by ith Travis p115) is ate and can more popu Music And ting 1965 73 plus later Chuck D giv ctive. There age DVDs of Montreux, e Scott’s and many from 990, just s before his nt.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT G
I’m just a lucky so-and-so
The nonagenarian croonerturned-painter on his good life. By CharlesWaring.
Just Getting Started ####
Tony Bennett with Scott Simon HARPER COLLINS. £22
y his own admission, Tony Bennett has led a charmed life for most of his 90 years. “I know I’m lucky,” confesses the man whom Frank Sinatra once described as “the best singer in the business”, at the beginning g g of his third volume of memoirs which follows in the wake of 2007’s The Good Life and 2013’s Life Is A Gift. The opening pages of this latest instalment – whose chapters are interspersed with pictures of the singer’s paintings – read like a prayer of thanksgiving: a humble but heartfelt acknowledgment of how good fortune has smiled upon him. That’s not to say, though, that Bennett hasn’t tasted tragedy or faced tough times. Just 10 when his father died, in World War II, the aspiring singer narrowly dodged German bullets as a US
y g horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, which he helped to liberate. Later, in the 1970s, the singer faced another battle, with cocaine addiction and a shrinking audience for his music. It’s not all been easy for the boy from Astoria, Queens, whose main goal when he started singing professionally was to earn enough money to allow his mother to retire from her job as a seamstress. Both Bennett’s parents are lovingly portrayed here, which is not, by the way, an orthodox autobiography but rather a series of 42 vignettes describing the key people and moments that helped to shape the singer’s career and, more importantly, moulded him as a man. Many of those who aided and inspired Bennett are portrayed, including Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Crosby Louis Armstrong, Armstrong Nat ‘King’ King Cole, Martin Luther King Jr, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. The singer knew and worked with all these extraordinary people and his personal knowledge translates into reﬂections that are often insightfully illuminated. But anyone looking for dirt won’t ﬁnd it here, even in regard to Sinatra, whose alleged dark side Bennett “just never saw”. Instead, he remembers a different, even altruistic person: “The Frank Sinatra I knew was always a gentleman, a devoted friend, and a man of legendary generosity.”
Tony Bennett in the studio in the late ’50s, “the best singer in the business,” said Frank Sinatra.
“WHAT SHINES THROUGH IS HIS ZEST FOR LIFE.”
Bennett performed as Joe Bari in the 1940s until legendary comedian/movie star Bob Hope told him: “I don’t like your stage name.” On hearing the singer was born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, Hope’s response was: “Too long for the marquee. We’ll call you Tony Bennett.” G I Left My Heart In San Francisco became Bennett’s signature song when it was a hit in 1962. It had been given to the singer’s pianist, Ralph Sharon, 10 years earlier but the music manuscript had been mislaid, only to be rediscovered in 1961 at the bottom of a shirt drawer. G Doomed jazz pianist and junkie Bill Evans recorded with Bennett in the ’70s. At the time, Bennett had his own battle with addiction but discloses that Evans’ death in 1980 shook him out of it. “His loss sobered me,” he writes.
g see this as papering over the cracks but Bennett can only write what he knows. There are, though, moments of deep soulsearching. In a chapter devoted to Amy Winehouse – with whom the singer collaborated with on his album Duets II, recorded just before her death in 2011 – Bennett wrestles with his conscience. “Should I have said something to Amy about the drugs and drinking?” drinking? he asks and meditates on what he perceives as a missed opportunity to exert a positive inﬂuence on her: “I said nothing on the day I might have had a chance,” he reﬂects ruefully. Ironically, what we glean most from these reminiscences about other people is a more profound knowledge of Bennett himself. Though he exudes a statesman- like aura these days, what shines through this book is his humility, compassion and a zest for life. Even at 90, Tony Bennett is not content to rest on his laurels. Long may his good fortune continue.
Anatomy Of A Song
Marc Myers GROVE/ATLANTIC MONTHLY. £19.60
A behind-the-curtain peek at the wizards of pop. An expansion of his Wall Street Journal column of the same name, Marc Myers’ Anatomy Of A Song collects oral histories from songwriters, musicians and producers of 45 pop classics from the 1950s to the 1990s. Many of the songs that served as soundtracks of our lives are based on real-life scenarios. From The Young Rascals’ Groovin’ to Joni Mitchell’s Carey, the anecdotes give flesh to the meaning of the lyrics. Musical influences that get passed from artist to artist are equally fascinating – and often surprising. Motown staff scribe Lamont Dozier explains how Reach Out I’ll Be There by The Four Tops was inspired by Dylan’s “shoutsing” style in Like A Rolling Stone. And The Doors’ Ray Manzarek reveals that Light My Fire’s bass line “grew out of Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill.” Myers’ book is big-fun forensic musicology. Michael Simmons
Big Star: Isolated In The Light
Donna Ranieri & Fabrice Couillerot
FIRST THIRD. £40
Beautiful photo book celebrating the Memphis pop-rock greats. In their early-’70s original lifetime Big Star never occupied the mass media, but they were memorably documented – notably in the colour-drenched images of the celebrated Tennessee photographer William Eggleston. Big Star-related photos featured in the recent Eggleston retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and one of his shots was on the front of Big Star’s second album, Radio City. Numerous Eggleston photos figure in this book – hugely evocative images – but they’re far from the whole of a compelling visual narrative that reaches from Memphis mixing desks to the Swiss Alps. Alongside, there’s commentary from Big Star associates, from
surviving founder member Jody Stephens and from admirers including The Cramps and The Breeders’ Kim Deal. The book is a limited edition of 1,000 – 500 of which are a more expensive package with posters and a photographic print. Roy Wilkinson
Judas! From Forest Hills To The Free Trade Hall: A Historical View Of The Big Boo
Clinton Heylin ROUTE, £14.99
Even more Dylan circa ’65-66? Stifle any yawns: veteran Bob-writer Heylin deservedly got the job of writing the linernotes for 2016’s vast 1966 box set, and this forensic look at the period forever embodied by all that booing turns out to be a complementary delight. Everything is explained: the initial pattern of anti-electric rancour when Dylan toured North America (bad in Toronto, not an issue in Texas); the evolution of the music he played with The Band; and the fact that in the UK, he kept getting the wrong drugs (heroin instead of Moroccan kif, apparently). Heylin’s florid prose style sometimes grates, but his source material usually cuts through – as evidenced by a report from Pasadena in December ’65. “People started getting up and leaving,” says an unnamed witness. “They didn’t dig the ELECTRICITY. What a bunch of chumps, because Dylan and his group were ROCKING.” John Harris
I Am Dogboy
Karl Hyde FABER & FABER. £28
Underworld linchpin’s online diary anthologised. For an artist who documents urban chaos via fragmentary collaging of random words, photographs and design, the internet proved a perfect outlet for Karl Hyde, parallel to his band’s trancey tech-pop. Since ’99, he’s been a daily diarist thereon, and here
assembles the highlights into something surprisingly close to an autobiography, interspersed with desolate snaps and, at the foot of each page, song titles, which cleverly plant a playlistcum-soundtrack in the reader’s head. From childhood perceptions of the rhythm of traffic while growing up beside the A456 in Worcestershire, right through to rats getting into the binbags outside Bristol Colston Hall, the observational voice of Underworld is present and correct. But there’s a selfrevealing one, too, belonging to Hyde the fanboy, ecstatic at breaking into pop’s magical kingdom, yet insecure at rubbing shoulders with giants while touring in Blondie’s backing band. In those passages, he is eloquent and touching. Andrew Perry
Traveling Soul: The Life Of Curtis Mayfield
Mayfield, the voice of the civil rights movement who wrote hymnal anthems such as People Get Ready and We’re A Winner in The Impressions before becoming the conscious solo artist who elevated Blaxploitation with Superflyy but fell against changing musical trends. Born in 1966, Todd (assisted by Travis Atria) covers his father’s life from growing up a dirt poor musical child prodigy in Chicago’s fleabag hotels and notorious Cabrini-Green housing project to final years spent paralysed from the neck down after an on-stage accident during a freak storm in 1990. He blames his father’s deprived childhood and Gemini personality for this “gentle, conscious voice of a generation” leading a parallel life as ruthless control freak, habitual recluse and serial womaniser, although his love and admiration for Curtis shines poignantly throughout. Kris Needs
Todd Mayfield With Travis Atria CHICAGO REVIEW PRESS. £24
Mayfield’s son’s tale provides rare insights but pulls no punches. Until this affectionate but intimately revealing account by his son Todd, there had not been a suitably thorough biography of Curtis
Thank you friends: Big Star, basking.
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
Woody Woodmansey SIDGWICK & JACKSON. £8.99
Memoir from Bowie’s last surviving Spider. Unceremoniously sacked in July 1973 – on his wedding day, no less – from the hottest act in the world, Spiders From
Mars drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey spent the next 40 years in obscurity. Despite stints with Edgar Winter and Art Garfunkel, Woody could never escape being an ex-Spider. Three years ago, with Holy Holy, he toured the world performing material from his glam rock heyday. Now, the last surviving Spider is enjoying a new lease of life. Rather than settle scores, Woody’s ghost-written memoir sets the drummer’s generous, occasionally hair-raising tales within a familiar retelling of Bowie’s transformation from a chummy pop hopeful to a coke-fugged untouchable. “It knocked the shit out of me,” admits Woody, a Yorkshire lad who struggled with the image and dealt with the lifestyle by breakfasting with six tequila sunrises. Happily, he’s much better now. Mark Paytress
A series of separately available releases chronicle the small screen history of Ol’ Blue Eyes from the ’50s onwards. By Andrew Male.
The Frank Sinatra Collection EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT. DVD
inatra’s ﬁrst TV shows were a disaster. An early-’50s CBS series was killed off during the controversy surrounding his affair with Ava Gardner. His late-’50s ABC effort suffered death-by-critics due to Sinatra’s refusal to rehearse. So, when Frank agreed to a 1965 NBC TV special, things looked bad, especially with the singer exhausted from battling reporters over his relationship with Mia Farrow, and laid low by a foul cold, cold as referenced in Gay Talese’s now famous 1966 Esquire proﬁle. Yet somehow the ﬁnished programme was incredible. Amid a minimalist set of mustard yellow light and grey metal diagonals, looking like a tweedy anachronism, and dwarfed by Nelson Riddle’s 43-piece orchestra, Sinatra sang with weary warmth and troubled depth, revisiting songs of his youth and thoroughly inhabiting modern numbers of melancholy and loss. The performance was central to the
singer’s reinvention during the 1960s, a proto Elvis 68 Special, and alongside 1966’s Part II forms A Man And His Music (#####) the ﬁrst of Eagle Vision’s DVDs cataloguing Sinatra’s small screen history. Judging from Happy Holidays With Frank & Bing/Vintage Sinatra (####) which features ’50s series highlights alongside a 1957 festive confection where Sinatra and Bing Crosby sing carols of Merrie England, ’50s Sinatra was already a masterful visual interp f his songs (especially on a theatrical 1958 noir reading of One For My Baby), and it’s this that subsequent ’60s shows A Man And His Music + Ella + Jobim/Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing/Sinatra (####) excel in. From its dripping taps and road drills montage to Sinatra jazzily cutting loose with Riddle and gang, 1967’s Ella + Jobim repeatedly delights, Frank swapping pop hits with a breezy Fitzgerald, and gently whispering bossa poetry over Jobim’s sad guitar. On …Does His Thing, Sinatra addresses civil rights in a spirituals medley with Diahann Carroll, croons heartbreak in a cheap motel set, and grooves awkwardly in Nehru jacket with The 5th
Dimension. 1969’s Sinatra is mostly a sluggish mess, Frank bored, Don Costa’s orchestra a drag, but the ‘A Man Alone’ sequence is something else, Sinatra in itchy Arran sweater, delivering Rod McKuen’s wistful songs of uncertain gender with power, sensitivity and grace. Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back/The Main Event (####) documents Sinatra’s postretirement comeback. The rusty, nervous Frank of 1973’s Ol’ Blue Eyes kills it with poignant saloon songs, while The Main Event, Frank’s televised 1974 Madison Square Garden super-gig, buzzes with uptown energy. At The Royal Festival Hall/Sinatra In Japan (###) features the 1970 London H Frank, freewheeling and forgetting es with a stunning Billy Miller hestra, and the suave 1985 Budokan ow, somewhat tainted by the singer’s r humour. Meanwhile, Concert For e Americas (###) is just the minican Republic’s Altos de Chavón cert from August 1982, croaky atra and the Buddy Rich Orchestra n ﬁery form. Finally, y, with Sinatra And Friends// The Man And His Music (###), the 1977 …And Friends bash suffers from variety show guests such as John Denver and Robert Merrill, but the 1981 performance stuns, anks to a truly imperial Count ie And His Orchestra and two olate numbers from the late-career sterpiece She Shot Me Down that burn h same dramatic intensity Sinatra ibited during that 1958 performance One For My Baby, 23 years earlier.
Frank Sinatra Enterprises (5)
Ones for the road
Masters of their art: Frank Sinatra admires Count Basie’s technique, 1981; (insets from left) Sinatra, relaxed with Ella Fitzgerald; Fi ld late l masterpiece She Shot Me Down; Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back special, 1973; (below) still swinging.
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Lowland features Questing Dutch festival celebrates its ﬁrst decade. By Ian Harriso .
Le Guess Who? Utrecht, Netherlands
Jelmer De Haas (5), Jan Rijk (2), Tim Van Veen
uring his Saturday opening slot at Le Guess Who?, jazz folk improviser Ryley Walker has to contend with an out-oftune guitar. He rectifies matters with insouciance – wondering if anyone really is selling strong LSD up on the balcony? – and before a fierce and free version of his DIY-mind expansion opus Primrose Green, assures us: “My shit is tuned.” Celebrating 10 years since it began in the Dutch city of Utrecht, Le Guess Who? is all about the fine calibration. A questing, international four-days-and 200-plus sets for the receptive musical gourmand, it’s centred around gleaming five-hall music complex the TivoliVredenburg and 12 other venues across town, and this year Wilco, Savages, Julia Holter and Suuns each curate a night’s programme. Wilco’s day one trolley dash of entertainments include bone rattling US primitivism from 75 Dollar Bill, the wildly entertaining Malian blues rock of Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba, and the devotional, Arthur Russell-like voice poems of Alabama’s Lonnie Holley. The latter represents a principle recurring over the next four days – you don’t always know what you want, but when it’s there you recognise it. And while Wilco’s show in the Grote Zaal is tinged by the still-fresh Trump victory, their two-hour career-wide set is unbowed. Moving from country into indie-dance, noise rock and beyond, lift-off for the weekend is achieved. Friday begins with the valedictory sound of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Dance Me To The End Of Love played by local carillon player Malgosia Fiebig on the bells of U Tower. There’s further instrumen unorthodoxy when Bosnian-Swis Mario Batkovic fills the ancient J cold pulses, satanic orchestras an dramas, earning stand-up applau town, Estonian violinist Maarja N electronics man Hendrik Kaljujär loops and primeval forest chill to mysterious effect. Back at the main hall, Savages mercilessly drilled, all-consumin stadia-post-punk-in-waiting refoc the mind, with posturing singer Jehnny Beth declaring, “Don’t le fuckers get you down,” while remaining civil enough to take he boots off before plunging into the crowd. There’s no such courtesy Wrangler, who set the late night controls for Sheffield synth city 1 all the while swigging from cans. As is customary, Saturday afte becomes Le Mini Who?, a 60-ban taking place in the city’s record s bars and cafes. There are enticing Cocteaus wooze-frequencies from splendidly-named Deutsche Ashr
You know who: (right) Jehnny Beth, boots still on, fronts drilled Savages; (centre row, from left) spellbinding Julia Holter; enticingly mysterious Maarja Nuut; Ryley Walker, his shit is tuned; (bottom row, from left) Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, unbowed; wild Bassekou Kouyaté; otherworldly Patty Waters; the sheer spectacle of Elza Soares.
“BRAZILIAN MATRIARCH ELZA SOARES WINS THE NIGHT WITH HER RAINDOGSIN-RIO SAMBA FUSION.”
wondrous my-first-Iggy garage spume f Charlie & The Lesbians, whose bareche front-fiend writhes and grovels amongs café audience during a spirited run-thr The Runaways’ Cherry Bomb. Tonight’s curator, Julia Holter, plays from all four LPs with a four-piece grou absorbing 40 minutes, The Falling Age impressionistic 14-minutes is a spellbin highlight. Sax-augmented new song He which talks of inner ears, whiskey and states, has a ’70s Sparks feel and bodes her new record. For sheer spectacle, th Brazilian matriarch Elza Soares wins th provoking the masses with her Raindog samba-fusion of avant rock, jazz and ele delivered from a throne in a dress perha out of metalloid human viscera. The hy rhythmic Ethio-punk collaboration by institution The Ex and Addis Ababa’s F the yogic zithers of Laraaji, and The Co Coming’s jazz-psych raving complete an outstanding day. After audio gorging like this, it’s har feel lachrymose on Sunday, though the Gregorian chant from local gents Karol Magnus, Josephine Foster’s time travell warblings and the gleaming indie pop o Arcades all bring succour, while the mo potent proof of the festival’s ability to s comes with Patty Waters’ performance Sunday evening. A cult-acclaimed jazz voice who cut two albums for ESP-Disk in the mi she’s backed by a free-minded trio feattu original pianist and fellow ESP-Diskerr Greene. While her voice is a drier insttr than the harrowed scream that made h Black Is The Color Of Myy triumph of otherworldlyy r ability to give familiaritti and Wild Is The Wind ree ntal power is astonishingg. ere’s more: a swinging annd oise, high-tensile electronn nd the effusive north Inddi ng of the Junun project by press, Shye Ben Tzur andd J Dazed, happy, we leave reem bt that there are music fees then there is Le Guess W
Seattle all-stars close 25th anniversary tour with salute to the fallen. By Chris Nelson.
Temple T l Of The Th Dog D Paramount Theatre, Seattle
t’s hard to imagine an event more freighted with Seattle rock history than the closing shows of Temple Of The Dog’s 25th anniversary tour. Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron formed TOTD with members of the nascent Pearl Jam in 1990 to grieve the loss of Andrew Wood, the ﬂamboyant leader of Mother Love Bone, who died from a heroin overdose just as he was being hailed as the face of an ascendant, pre-Nirvana Paciﬁc Northwest rock scene. A quarter-century after Temple released their lone album (which they
unlikely funeral location for Wood. Over two-and-a-half hours,, the band mix their own songs with a handful of Mother Love Bone cuts and relevant covers of songs by Jimi Hendrix – another Seattle son gone too soon – and Mad Season, anotherr Seattle supergroup, with anotherr musician, Layne Staley of Alice In Chains, lost to substance abuse. Temple Of The Dog open their homecoming heavily, with Cornell’s goodbye to Wood, Say Hello 2 Heaven. The stage is stark, the band members dressed largely in black. Cornell wanders the stage, like the loss is still fresh. As Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready heads into a clarion solo, Cornell practically hugs him. And that’s the core of the night: grief stayed by affection for friends, for a city, for its sounds. Of course, the band – which includes Pearl Jam’s and Mother
Cornell, Stone Gossard; (below right) Mike McCready.
“ CORNELL WANDERS THE STAGE, LIKE THE LOSS IS STILL FRESH.”
practically kids. It was Mc Mc-Cready’s ﬁrst professional release. And yet tonight, as on the album, his solo on Call Me A Dog sounds as if it were pulled, perfectly formed, from the ages, an expertly crafted blend of ﬂash and concision. Between songs, Cornell recalls hearing Wood’s Stargazer and wishing he’d written it himself – something he usually thought about songs by bands 20 years older, from faraway places. “But this was Mother Love Bone. This was Andy.” y If Nirvana unveiled Seattle’s potential to the world, Mother Love Bone revealed the city’s potential to itself. Some of the covers feel obligatory, as if worried the band’s own 10 songs plus Mother Love Bone tracks wouldn’t ﬁll pace. But David Bowie’s y is spot on. Bowie’s entation inﬂuenced Wood, ie’s loss still stings. ural these musicians would mple Of The Dog during an niversary when people are ill buying albums. Yet this brief outing feels like something more at a time when we’ve lost Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, and others n quick succession. During the tour, we’ll also say goodbye to Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones. Holy, holy,” Cornell lores, “Hold on to anyone, on to anyone.” ’s an acknowledgement that ple leave. Play music with while you can. Listen to records. Love them. Now.
Tino Tran (3)
I’m still alive
Say Hello 2 Heaven / Wooden Jesus / Call Me A Dog / Your Savior / Stardog Champion / Stargazer / Seasons / Jump Into The Fire / Four Walled World / I’m A Mover / Pushin Forward Back / Hunger Strike / Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) / Heartshine / River Of Deceit / Holy Roller / Reach Down / Man Of Golden Words / Baby Lemonade / Times Of Trouble / Achilles Last Stand / Holy Holy / Fascination Street / War g / All Night g Thingg Pigs
S.J.M. CONCERTS PRESENTS SJM Concerts presents
BEAUTY IN THE EAST PERFORMING SONGS FROM THEIR TWO RECENT TOP 5 ALBUMS PLUS CLASSIC TRACKS FROM THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH AND THE HOUSEMARTINS
PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
SATURDAY 3RD JUNE 2017
HULL KC LIGHTSTREAM STADIUM (HOME OF HULL KR)
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THE SKELETAL FAMILY · PAULINE MURRAY
HEAVY✯ FIRE ✯TOUR ✯ 2017
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T H U R S D AY
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GUN CLOSE THE SHOW ON MARCH 8 BSR CLOSE THE SHOW ON MARCH 9
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WEDNESDAY MARCH 15
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Academy Events present presents
in association with SPIDER TOURING present
Celebrating The Twentieth Anniversary of Urban Hymns
STRANGEWAYS, HERE WE COME TOUR 2017 IMAGINING THE TOUR THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN IN 1987... PLUS THE HITS & THE BEST OF THEIR BACK CATALOGUE
FRI 24th FEBRUARY MANCHESTER O2 Ritz SAT 25th MARCH LIVERPOOL O2 Academy2 FRI 21st APRIL SHEFFIELD O2 Academy2 FRI 19th MAY NEWCASTLE O2 Academy SAT 3rd JUNE BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2 FRI 9th JUNE GLASGOW O2 ABC2 FRI 22nd SEPTEMBER BRISTOL O2 Academy FRI 6th OCTOBER BOURNEMOUTH Old Fire Station SAT 7th OCTOBER OXFORD O2 Academy2 SAT 21st OCTOBER LEICESTER The Scholar @ O2 Academy
THE WEDDING PRESENT
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IN ITS ENTIRETY
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in association with SPIDER TOURING presents
P LUS S P EC I A L GU E S T S
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PAYIN’ RESPECT TO THE MAN IN BLACK
WITH FULL LIVE BAND
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THE AMY WINEHOUSE EXPERIENCE BACK ...A.K.A
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plus special guests
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WAS BUDDY HOLLY A JAZZ FREAK? All set to ﬂy sideways through time? First dig Dellar’s lore on dudes, pseuds and rock feuds.
I’ve been told that Buddy Holly was a closet jazz fan and a great friend of Dave Brubeck’s. It seems unlikely, but can you conﬁrm this? Graham Bent, via e-mail Fred says: Surprisingly, perhaps, Holly was a jazz fanatic. Dave Brubeck once explained, ”One of the less reported of all friendships was mine with the late, great Buddy Holly. I knew Buddy for some time before he died and I always regretted that I did not see him as often as I would like to have done. When he was in London and appeared on Sunday Night At The London Palladium, I called on him in his dressing room and we chatted about music – Buddy had a great knowledge of the subject. He knew as much about the modern jazz scene as he did about what was happening in rock and blues and country. It’s just a pity that we never did get to record something together.”
WHO RECORDED THE BACKYARD SONG FIRST? I recently discovered Death May Be Your Santa Claus by Mott The Hoople and instantly bought the Brain Capers album. It contains a cover of Your Own Backyard by Dion, which may be the greatest anti-drugs song ever. But Brain Capers was released in 1972 and Born To Be With You, the Dion album that features Your Own Backyard, emerged in 1975. How could Mott have known about the song before it was even released? Jean-Baptiste, Paris, France Fred says: Dion originally released a
version of Your Own Backyard as a Warner single in 1970, with Sit Down Old Friend, the title track of that year’s LP, on the ﬂipside. The 45 even edged into the US charts at Number 73. Mystery solved.
WAS THIS THE FIRST A-Z OF ROCK? Do you recall the NME’s A-Z Of Rock Bands? I avidly collected this as it was given away over various weekly issues. I still have it, actually, bound with some of ma’s wool! I guess that there can’t be many copies left in existence. Mine is already a strange shade of ochre due to foxing but the cover is wonderful. I still treasure it as the writing was deﬁnitely of its time. I was wondering if, in fact, this was the ﬁrst instance of an A-Z of its kind? David C. Birch, via e-mail Fred says: Y the give-aw which was p early ’70s. I m contributed so However, I’ve alw considered Lillian Ro Rock Encylopedia to be th important A-Z listing of all things rock. First published in 1969, I grabbed a copy of the 1971 reprint and stil use it from time to time to remind myself of the era when the name Roosevelt Gook, aka Al Kooper, caused pundits to scratch heads. Roxon (real name Ropschitz) was Italian-bor but raised in Australia. She died at the age of 41 in 197 Some of us owe her a lot fo considerable research.
WHY DID JOHN TODD ARGUE? I remember John Lennon Todd Rundgren having a public argument in the ’7
The Buddy system: (clockwise from above) Holly (left) and Dave Brubeck pal up; Mick Taylor’s mysterious single; Todd Rundgren; Dion; Lillian Roxon’s pioneering Rock Encyclopedia.
HELP FRED… Having just watched Lond don: The Modern Babylon on Keith Richardss’ Lost Weekend, a song on the soundtrack gave me pause for thought. It was London n Town as ed by Donovan from his album r. The composer ccredit on the as Tim Hardin. However, I have a gle by Mick Taylorr (not that one) ng with compose er credit going to never been able to t ﬁnd any hical detail on Tayylor, so would be to know what hap ppened to him. Norman n Killon, Liverpool ays: The Pretty Things also ded a version of Lo ondon Town nd the same perio od with the poser credit corre ectly naming Tim din. But what happened happ to the ie Mick Taylor, whose version, like of Donovan, was produced by er Eden? Does anyone know?
CONTACTFRED Write to: Ask Fred, MOJO, Endeavour House, 189 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JG. OR e-mail Fred Dellar direct at firstname.lastname@example.org www.mojo4music.com for daily Ask Fred discussion
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placing replies in the music press. What was it all about? Philip S. Smith, via e-mail Fred says: Todd Rundgren criticised Lennon in the September 14, 1974 edition of Melody Maker, commenting, “John Lennon ain’t no revolutionary. He’s a f---idiot, man… all he wants to do is get attention for himself and if revolution gets him that attention, he’ll get attention through revolution. revolution Hitting a waitress in the Troubadour. What kind d of revolution is that?” After reading the rant, Lennon typed a reply headed “An open le etter to Sodd Runtlestuntle (from dr.winston oboogie) (sic)” saying, “I have never claimed to be a revolutionary. But I am allo owed to sing about anything I want.” He e also denied he hit a waitress – though he aadmitted, “I did act like an ass, I was drunk. So shoot me.” He added that the real reasson Rundgren was annoyed was because he didn’t know who Todd was when the tw wo ﬁrst met at the LA Rainbow. Lennon co oncluded his reply, “When I found out latter, I was cursing, ’cos I wanted to tell you how good you were. Anyway, however much you hurt me, darling, I’ll always love you u. J.L.” In a 2013 interview with The Guardiaan, Todd described the contretemps as “more of a stunt, really, cooked up by the paper so they could splatter the acrimony across their pages like blood! Ultimately, though, John and I realised we were being used and I got a phone call from him m one day and we just said: ‘Let’s drop this no ow.’”
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1 His singles include Love Bath and Virgin Man (6,8) 9 This Dylan song first appeared on The Band’s Music From Big Pinkk (1,5,2,8) 10 Shane, co-provider of that New York fairytale (8) 12 Journey’s wireless upbringing (6,2,5) 15 Shaped like the Larry who Zoomed up the charts (3) 16 Tex-Mex rockers fronted by the one and only Joey Burns (8) 17 Band that shares its name with a Laurel and Hardy film classic (10) 21 Like Scott Walker’s Murphy, Paul Simon’s Robinson or Herman’s Brown (3) 23 Ben comes around to provide a Marilyn Manson hit (8) 24 See photoclue A (4,7) 25 Jesus Blood Never Failed Me --- (Gavin Bryars) (3) 27 Assuring Gene Loves Jezebel LP (7) 30 “I was half in mind I was half in need,” (Style Council) (5,2,3,3) 32 They are rock’s celebrated bank-note burners (1.1.1.) 33 1988 single by Tiffany (3,4,4) 35 Earth ----- (The Penguins) (5) 37 Band formed by Macca in 1971 (5) 38 It got around for the Stereophonics in 2008 (4) 39 The Zombies’ keyboardist and founder member (3,6) 40 Guitar hero Steve is hidden within Ricky Gervais (3) 41 Buddy Holly’s hopeful hit (7) 43 He’s lead singer with The Cult (3,7) 47 Canadian a cappella group, obviously not short of material (6) 49 One hit wonder Mary who was Torn Between Two Lovers (9) 52 Hayes, or maybe Guillory (5) 54 See photoclue B (3,4) 55 Dutch city celebrated by both Coldplay and Jacques Brel (9) 57 Just now and then for an Erasure release (9) 58 Morning Dance jazzers (5,4)
1 His acting credits include Dune and Quadrophenia (5) 2 Macy Gray’s debut album (2,3,4,2) 3 See photoclue C (5,5) 4 Crawley’s foremost rocker? (6,5) 5 Both a band and a Lou Reed album (6) 6 Did this Billy Idol single sell fast? (5) 7 This rapper was born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (3) 8 American folk-rockers whose The Courage Of Others was once MOJO’s album of the month (7) 11 He’s the lead vocalist with Kings Of Leon (5,9) 13 Jazz’s finest Duke (9) 14 Ian Hunter hit that was nothing but the tooth? (4,6,5,3) 16/36 The Wedding Present’s hit offer (4,4,4,2) 18 Can man Czukay (6) 19 Mike Oldfield calls it his “angry, protest” album (6) 20 Singer lost amid The Crusaders (4) 22 The Isleys did it before Lulu (5) 26 The Residents Inuit album (6) 28 Roy Orbison’s cry of pain (2,6) 29 It was simple for Groove Armada (4) 31 ---- -- Baby (Muse) (4,2) 34 That little Loco-motion warbler (3) 35 Don’t Look Back In ----- advised David Bowie (5) 36 See 16 39 Do this and The Four Tops will be there (5,3) 40 Morrison or Dyke Parks maybe? (3) 42 Paul, American blues singer and acoustic guitarist (7) 44 The first albums to be released on this label were by Judee Sill and Jackson Browne (6) 45 Peter, Paul & Mary, for instance (4) 46 Macy initially provides a Village People hit (126.96.36.199.) 48 Dig Out Your Soul, they said in 2008 (5) 50 Jesse, kilted singer best known for The Thistle album (3) 51 1981 Rip Rig + Panic LP (3) 53 Cornflake Girl Tori (4) 56 Enigmatic Chameleons cover artist (3)
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DAVE MASON AND TRAFFIC They started as young guys getting it together in the country. But pop pressure meant he departed not once, but thrice…
Alamy (2), Chris Jensen
HELLO MID 1966 Jim [Capaldi] and I grew up not far apart, we got a group together called The Hellions, local Worcester boys, and then Deep Feeling. We’d play locally and up in Birmingham. We were big fans of The Spencer Davis Group, and I think Jim and I met Steve [Winwood] at a place called The Elbow Room in Birmingham, which was a sort of after-hours private club with music. Steve knew Chris Wood, and we had a lot of similar tastes, so it really started as just four young guys just hanging out, listening to music. I’d spent about two, three months being a roadie for The Spencer Davis Group prior to it all, too. It was gradual – the ﬁrst musical thing was, I sang harmony with Steve on [1966 Number 1] Somebody Help Me. And then all of us were on Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m A Man [both Top 10]. Steve had pretty much decided that he wanted to do something new, we knew that, so it sort of ﬂoated into Trafﬁc. I don’t even know if we had a meeting about it. We started working pretty much as soon as the decision was made. We occupied a little cottage in Berkshire, up a mud road with no electricity and no running water. Was it great? Yeah! Come on, we were kids, I was 19 or something. No marriages, mortgages or anything… what did we care?
the ti e of ole In My Shoe (from left) Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Dave Mason; (bottom) before the split; (below) Mason today.
sort of material we were gonna do, and I just went, shit this is a unique situation. I don’t know if I can write, but I’m gonna start! And of course, I’m not a street kid, it’s like, I just fell off the turnip truck here, life experiences were not big in my life. That, and the times… they were sort of whimsical songs, when I look back on it. But I ﬁnished up writing [Number 2 single] Hole In My Shoe, which became the biggest hit record. And I think that alone probably started the problem.
GOODBYE OCTOBER 1968
“IT’S LIKE, I JUST FELL OFF THE TURNIP TRUCK HERE.”
I left after the ﬁrst album [Mr.Fantasy, December 1967], not because there was any personal tensions, but because I was not prepared for the success, mentally and emotionally. Then I produced Music In A Doll’s House for the Family, got to know Hendrix and ﬁnished up on a couple of tracks on Electric Ladyland, d and started going back and forth to the US. In that break, I realised, If I’m gonna write, I gotta delve in a little deeper with the songs. As I remember it, they were in New York working [on 1968 LP Trafﬁc] at the Record Plant, and I went by to see everybody, and they only had ﬁve songs. I said, “Well, I got ﬁve songs.” So it was, OK, you’re back in. And one of those songs was Feelin’ Alright? I think what happened was, my songs always got picked as the singles, because I have somewhat of a pop sensibility. I think that was the beginning of my tenure there not being… erm, how do you put it
this point, I don’t really care. There was a meeting with the three of them at Chris Blackwell’s house, after that second album. Bottom line, the only thing that got everybody rufﬂed was that they didn’t really like what I wrote. In 1971, we did (live LP) Welcome To The Canteen. It was a great unit to come back together with, and I thought that it was hopefully going to happen. I was always hoping. But again, it just wasn’t to be. I still get asked, “When are you doing a Trafﬁc tour?” My standard answer is, “You’re asking the wrong guy,” heh heh. I’d love to do it. For three years I’ve done this show Trafﬁc Jam, doing those songs, and songs from my solo career. Pretty much all the songs in there I play are Jim and Steve’s, my own versions. They’re great. It’s like a musical biography, I suppose. Ian Harrison Dave Mason’s Trafﬁc Jam tours the UK in February and March 2017, see davemasonmusic.com for info
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