LONDON a MEMPHIS a H A MMERSMITH JANUAR
STEVE JONES ON SEX PISTOLS CHEMISTRY, PAGE 51
Waiting on a train: Joe Henry and Billy Bragg get stoked, p34.
REGULARS 9 10 40 134 A
VHS firsts and The Fall Of The House Of Usher! V
138 H ELLO GOODBYE Chuck Mosley remembers the ins and outs of Faith No More.
WHAT GOES ON! 14
PAUL WELLER & ROBERT W Y TT They – plus bassist Danny Thompson – are playing a special one-off show in support of JJeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Weller tells us why.
A ALEX ANDRA SA IOR Colliding
M BY The former Vatican Commando of MO
O SIS Two decades ago, the Burnage OA brawlers were making the grandiloquent madness that was Be Here Now. Read on for the Eyewitness skinny from Noel Gallagher and cco-producer Owen Morris!
BILLY BRAGG & JOE HENRY
The Stones: with the blues, in the pink, on p92.
w Alex Turner, a desert mysteriosa with a with ccaptivating voice shakes off other people’s sshackles and gets on with the business of rising.
e eclectic dance music has got a handful of gothy, bluesy and Ethio-jazz songs to sing you – guaranteed to blow your mind, anytime. g
Shine A Light was their double-headed love letter to the American railway. We join them in New York and Boston for its hands-in, all-in tour.
MOJO FILTER 92 NEW ALBUMS The Rolling Stones
get back on the porch; Peter Doherty comes good; Neil Young declares peace. Plus: Jim James, Dean Ween, Solange, Kate Bush and Common.
108 REISSUES Chris Wood compiled; Prince unearthed; John Cale, The Who, Crowded House, Sonny Burgess, XTC, Norse jazz… and Gillan!
120 BOOKS Johnny Marr has his say about You
Know Who. Unseen Iggy Pop, by Iggy Pop. Plus: Steve Jones, fem-grunge and the Bay City Rollers.
124 LIVES Euro Pop Mavericks Cometh, in the UTORS INCLUDE about James d style guru, pedia entry, ingerow-tied of London's lon is le for wedgs, parties, anything.
Jim Irvin When biscuit radio crumbled, budding west London DJ turne singing for his supper. When F splintered, music journalism table. These days, songwritin others (Lana Del Rey, Lissie, N But Thieves) is what mostly b his parsnips. But this month achieves a life goal by interviewing Kate Bush on p80.
Indoe s born in Canada. CAD in 1985,he ted illustrator as ful fine artist. lude Moet and hnayaVodka, BBC and Levi's. //www.debutart. m/artist/vinceastiche
Guy Eppel, Simon Fernandez, Vince McIndoe
DREAM FOREVER A DREAM POP COMPENDIUM
School Of Seven Bells Poliça Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm The Anchoress Nite Jewel Yann Tiersen Amber Arcades A Winged Victory For The Sullen Haley Bonar and more
01 SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS Elias
02 POLIÇA Lately
03 JENNY HVAL Conceptual Romance
04 THE ALBUM LEAF Never Far
(Music by Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Deheza/All lyrics by Alejandra Deheza)
(Hval/Volden). Published by Smalltown Supermusic / Sony ATV
Published by This is POLIÇA adm. Kobalt www.thisispolica.com. 2016 Memphis Industries under licence from POLIÇA
Music Publishing Scandinavia. licence to Sacred Bones Records.
(Jimmy LaValle) Published by Album Leaf Music (ASCAP) (published by SONGS publishing) adm . Domino Publishing; http://www.
A standout track from February 2016’s United Crushers LP, Lately is the sound of Channy Leaneagh soaring with mournful thoughts of love, as her Minneapolis band dudes go deep into a druggy skittering synth groove that is over all to soon. From the album: United Crushers (MEMPHIS
Inspired by Chris Kraus’s subversive feminist campus novel, I Love Dick, Conceptual Romance begins midway through the narrative, the Norwegian avant-popist caught between the brain and the body, the physical and the intellectual, adrift in a depthless hydrosphere, trying to rationalise elation. From the album: Blood Bitch (SACRED BONES)
With 2016’s Between Waves, his sixth full-length LP as The Album Leaf, Jimmy LaValle expanded his sonic palette considerably, here using pulsing, brittle, driving kosmische rhythms and synth-pop melodies to illustrate the landscape in which his tales of love and loss unfold. From the album: Between Waves (RELAPSE)
12 AMBER ARCADES I Will Follow
Published by SVIIB Music BMI / Chrysalis Songs BMI. under exclusive licence to Full Time Hobby
Recorded in the wake of the death of band founder Benjamin Curtis in 2013, this euphoric lament from the New York electro-gaze outﬁt’s fourth and ﬁnal LP ﬁnds surviving band member Alejandra Deheza in wistful, elegiac mode, whispered memories born aloft on ascending Heaven Or Las Vegas clouds. From the album: SVIIB (FULL TIME HOBBY)
2016 Jenny Hval, under exclusive
09 NOVELLER Corridors
10 NICHOLAS KRGOVICH The Hills
11 DAWN OF MIDI Io
(Sarah Lipstate) Published by Fire Songs
(Nicholas Krgovich) Published by Tin Angel Publishing/
(Amino Belyamani/Aakaash Israni). Published by
Fire Records 2016
At the sweet spot between modern composition and eerie dream pop sits Austin-based composer and ﬁlmmaker Sarah Lipstate. This sneak preview of her forthcoming 2017 LP, A Pink Sunset For No One, is simultaneously unsettling and innocent, suggesting a benign encounter between downtown ’70s minimalism and Giallo horror. From the new album: A Pink Sunset For No One released on Fire Records, Feb 10, 2017
2016 Tin Angel Records
Nothing sits right in the world of Vancouver pop dissembler, Krgovich. Taken from the ﬁnal instalment of his dreamlike R&B trilogy salute to weird Hollywood, The Hills offers a Lynchian perspective on the banal sprawl of off-the-map industry LA, Psycho strings blending with Arthur Russell chamber pop to powerful if unsettling effect. From the album: The Hills (TIN ANGEL)
2016 Relapse Records, Inc
(Annelotte de Graaf)
2015 Erased Tapes Records Ltd.
2016 Heavenly Recordings under exclusive licence to [PIAS]. Licensed courtesy of Heavenly Records / [PIAS]. www.amberarcades.net
Named after the tormented priestess of Hera, Queen of the Gods, whom her husband, Zeus, seduced and then turned into a cow (and the innermost moon of Jupiter), Io is a hypnotic bass-led drive into deep space, the minimalist US jazz trio building complete solar systems from small acoustic details From the album: Dysnomia (ERASED TAPES)
Dutch artist and human rights advocate Annelotte de Graaf is also jangle pop auteur extraordinaire, Amber Arcades. Self-recorded, with members of Quilt and Real Estate, her 2016 debut Fading Lines is a summer daydream of an album, with abundant pop hooks sweetly audible through the somniferous shimmer. From the album: Fading Lines (HEAVENLY)
Erased Tapes Music Publishing Ltd. www.erasedtapes.com
HEN KATE BUSH RETURNED TO THE STAGE FOR THE ﬁrst time in 35 years, she created a show that was both musically and visually spectacular. Essentially consisting of three acts, the middle segment saw her reprise The Ninth Wave – the suite that makes up side two of her 1985 album, Hounds Of Love. That record’s duality also came into focus with her performances of its more accessible material, including Running Up That Hill and Cloudbusting. As Kate releases a document of those 2014 shows, MOJO presents this collection of music that moves from neo-classical soundscapes to ambient mood pieces and on to moments of unbridled progressive pop euphoria. To quote Kate herself, this is music that exists “somewhere in a dream between sleep and waking up”. Music to dream by, indeed…
05 NITE JEWEL Running Out Of Time (Ramona Gonzalez). Published by Whichever Way Music (SESAC).
2016 NITE JEWEL
Taken from 2016’s Liquid Cool LP, itself named after the aural aesthetic LA singer-songwriter Ramona Gonzalez repeatedly quests for, this could be the end point of said quest – a forlorn, mysterious and alien sound, an etiolated futuristic pop awash with sweetness and longing. From the album: Liquid Cool (GLORIETTE)
06 A WINGED VICTORY FOR THE SULLEN Atomos VI
07 THE ANCHORESS Bury Me
(Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie/Dustin O’Halloran)
On ﬁrst listen, the music Welsh singer-songwriter and actress Catherine Ann Davies makes as The Anchoress is light, romantic, innocent. But this is dark stuff, born from a life rich in accident, incident and loss and threaded with tales of anger and revenge. In the case of Bury Me, hers is a devastatingly powerful voice. From the album: Confessions Of A
Published by Lid Music (BMI)/DustinOHalloranMusic (BMI) administered by Embassy Music Corporation (BMI). 2014 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. www.erasedtapes.com
Scored for Wayne McGregor’s conceptual dance piece – performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2013 – Atomos is the sound of Stars Of The Lid composer Adam Wiltzie and keyboardist Dustin O’Halloran using piano, strings, horns and sonorous ambient drones to summon up ominous deep-space landspaces of black forbidding awe. From the album: Atomos (ERASED TAPES)
(Catherine Anne Davies). Publisher: Catherine Anne Davies. 2016 Catherine Anne Davies under licence to Snapper Music plc
Romance Novelist (KSCOPE)
14 ÓLAFUR ARNALDS & NILS FRAHM Four 15 YANN TIERSEN Porz Goret
(Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance
(Ólafur Arnalds/Nils Frahm).
Published by Domino Publishing Co. Ltd Co. Ltd
Published by Kobalt Music Group Ltd./Manners McDade Music Publishing 2015 Erased Tapes Records Ltd. www.erasedtapes.com Ltd.
2016 Everything’s Calm under exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. Licensed courtesy of Mute / [PIAS]. www.yanntiersen.com
A moment of quiet electronic contemplation from their collaborative 2015 Loon EP ﬁnds Icelandic producer Arnalds and Berlin-based pianist/ composer Frahm together and apart, working with two sonic elements – electronic waves and toy piano that somehow sit together perfectly. They always make it sound so simple, but no one else ever comes close. From the album: Collaborative Works
Originally released as a book of sheet music in December 2015, EUSA brought together 10 instrumentals related to the award-winning French composer’s home island of Ushant, off the coast of Brittany. On the evidence of this hushed, gently haunted piano piece, it must be a magical place to live. From the album: EUSA (MUTE)
Bob Moses is, in fact, two people, Vancouver friends Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, who moved to New York in 2012. Taken from their 2015 LP, Keeping Me Alive is a mournful, introspective, midtempo blend of EDM and songcraft with oddly effective echoes of ’90s soft rock. From the album: Days Gone By (DOMINO)
(Haley Bonar). Published by Third Side Music adm. www. haleybonar.com. Haley Bonar
2016 Memphis Industries under licence from
There is much to admire on Canadian-born Bonar’s seventh studio album but this is the gateway drug: ghostly echoes of Cocteau guitars speeding into gated goth drums and sweet heavenly melodies that call to mind Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, with all the romance, pain and beguiling mystery that implies. From the album: Impossible Dream (MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES)
13 BOB MOSES Keeping Me Alive 2015 Domino Recording
08 HALEY BONAR Skynz
Bette Midler STILL DIVINE!
c are you currently o? ld get the damn hi-fi to en to Nat King Cole – he g genius and his daughCole] was a genius too! I ele and Amy Winehouse. en to women. I listen to sh and Emmylou Harris. sh comes to shove, is me favourite album? No… any Aretha album. I’m rushing here. I would Gonna Take A Miracle, the Nyro made with Labelle. erful and so New York. e first record you ever nd where did you buy it? Hawaii and we had no didn’t buy records. But I 8s – The Andrews Sisters well Sisters, bandleaders Hampton, which I played is was the early ’50s and I ight. When I got to New y got a turntable and then
I bought The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. That would have been on 4th Street, I think, I would have been about 21. Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? Aretha! Aretha or nothing! What do you sing in the shower? I do not sing in the shower, because I can’t waste the water. We are in drought here in New York. I do take quick showers (laughs). What is your favourite Saturday night record? You mean when I’m cursing because the hi-fi won’t work and the iTunes library has disappeared somewhere? I play Diana Krall… Peggy Lee… and Aretha… and a lott of gospel. And your favourite Sunday morning record? No! We have to read the paper – the New York Times – from the front to the back. Endless newspaper! A remastered deluxe version of Bette’s 1972 debut album The Divine Miss M is out now.
IN WHICH THE STARS REVEAL THE SONIC DELIGHTS GUARANTEED TO GET THEM GOING...
HIP-HOP/JAZZ SAX BROADCASTER
What music are you currently grooving to? De La Soul’s and the Anonymous Nobody. What keeps them relevant is being able to evolve and yet retain their core identity. And Solange, though I’ve yet to take it fully on board. What, if push comes to shove, is your all time favourite alb It can change to week, but Percussion Bit for its explor African cultu ty, Abbey Lin vocals, the ly consciousne What was th first record y ever bought And where d you buy it? An embarras compilation hip-hop and house called LoveHouse, o sette, in Han I was about 1 Which music than yourse you ever wa Jimi Hendri ability to trav
we now consider to be so many different genres, for experiencing the counterculture of times that were interesting. I wouldn’t mind being him for a couple of days. Electric Ladyland d is an incredible revelation, it changed me.
THE RON MAEL OF ERASURE grooving to? The Idiot by Iggy Pop. I’ve just re-resurrected my record player so I’m going back to my old vinyl records. Last night I was playing the Thompson Twins’ Greatest Hits! I’m interested in this indie dance movement, too, I go to Beatport and see what’s in their Top 10. If I were to dance in public that’s what I’d dance to. And Jagwar Ma, I did a bit of DJing and that’s one of the tracks that I played.
What do you sing in the shower? West Indian nursery rhymes. I couldn’t explain why, it could be dormant voices within me, perhaps, inspiration for the next album. I should probably take notes. Little sketches, seedlings of ideas in the up albums. favourite night record? by Busta Or, I love jam after a gig – xophone t of singing e shower, off guard, comes out idn’t even was inside. your Sunday ing record? classical – I ach’s St John n. It’s the sis of club And The nderr by Lee an – perfect y barbecue en in winter. s out now on h Recordings.
NOW PLAYING G
The finest album of them all, according to Bette Midler, is Gonna Take A Miracle, the 1971 R&B covers album made by Laura Nyro and Labelle. G Soweto Kinch’s alltime favourite is Max Roach’s 1961 classic of serious, blazing protest, Percussion Bitter Sweet. G Vince Clarke’s first 45 was Sparks’ 1974 hit This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us from Boots – bought on a budget thanks to his sister’s staff discount.
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? Dark Side Of The Moon. I’ve got four copies on vinyl just in case one gets scratched. I just think it’s perfect. You forget about sequencing on records now, but it makes a huge difference. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us by Sparks, from Boots in Basildon. I think I was 13, my sister had a Saturday job there so I got a 25 pence discount! It was so exciting and thrilling, and both the guys looked so cool on Top Of The Pops, I had to get it.
Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? Erm, I wish I was a better guitarist but no one specific. What do you sing in the shower? I don’t. I make noises, grunting, groaning like a middle-aged man trying to get to the bits you can’t reach. Not musical, industrial – the body machine. What is your favourite Saturday night record? It’d probably be Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. When my mum was alive we used to have these firework night parties and we’d put Stayin’ Alive on the ghetto blaster and all do that dance, my mum, me, my sister and her two little kids. And your favourite Sunday morning record? Another cliché – Easy by Lionel Richie. I love that. It was on a Halifax ad years ago – a loft, the guy looking at London’s skyline. Erasure’s From Moscow To Mars box set is out now on BMG/Mute.
Endeavour House, 189 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8JG Tel: 020 7437 9011 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: Keith Cameron, Fred Dellar, Sarah Fagan, Del Gentleman, Paul Stokes Among this month’s contributors: Martin Aston,Mike Barnes, Mark Blake,Glyn Brown, Keith Cameron,Andrew Carden Stevie Chick,Andy Cowan, Max Décharné,Fred Dellar, Tom Doyle,Daryl Easlea, Andy Fyfe, George Garner,Pat Gilbert, Will Hodgkinson,David Hutcheon, Jim Irvin,Colin Irwin,David Katz, Andrew Male,James McNair, Bob Mehr,Ben Myers,Chris Nelson, Mark Paytress,Andrew Perry, Clive Prior,Tony Russell, Victoria Segal,David Sheppard, Michael Simmons,Sylvie Simmons, Mat Snow,Paul Stokes, Ben Thompson, Gianluca Tramontana, Paul Trynka,Kieron Tyler, Charles Waring, Roy Wilkinson,Lois Wilson, Anna Wood,Stephen Worthy Among this month’s photographers: Cover: John Carder Bush (Insets: Getty, Alamy) Kerry Brown, John Carder Bush, Andrew Cotterill, Paul Cox, Guy Eppel,Davis Factor, Simon Fernandez,Guido Harari, Elliott Landy,Steve Schapiro, John Scheele,Tom Sheehan, Ray Stevenson,John Tiberi
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SUCH WAS THE SENSORY R OVERLOAD
provided by Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn live show, it’s hard to fix one moment in the mind’s eye. Musically thrilling, visually arresting, utterly absorbing in its sheer theatricality, her 2014 comeback overwhelmed all who saw it. A visual keepsake of that 22-night run in London would be wonderful. Why there isn’t one is a question we put to Kate, who for the first time ever reveals the show’s inspiration and looks back at the performances. From hypothermia to the ‘helicopter’, our Kate cover story begins on page 80 and crowns an issue where once again we celebrate a year in music. We thank you for your support during 2016 and invite you to join us on December 27 as we look forward to the year ahead.
X , EDITOR-IN-CHIEF PHIL ALEXANDER You cannot have it both ways At last! R.E.M. on the cover of MOJO! By my reckoning (no pun intended!) this is only the third time in all 277 issues of the magazine that the band have actually made it onto the cover of your esteemed publication. I find that hard to believe when you consider their musical contribution. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of Out Of Time but it was fascinating to finally read their thoughts on how to handle success and the manner in which they created that sense of mystery that all great rock bands possess. Proof that hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing. Now if they could only just get back together on-stage, we’d all be happy.
Roger James, via e-mail
A great impression of simplicity The CDs that accompany your magazine are always a treat but I have to applaud you for Out Of Time. What a collection that truly is. It really does shine a light on a period during which so much great music emerged from that entire American underground scene and when punk’s initial spirit seemed to genuinely influence those that made it rather than mere financial gain. Grunge’s success was probably the pinnacle but it also happened to turn a whole scene into a corporate plaything. Oh, and the CD itself also made me wonder where the real alternative lies now…
Ewan Collins, via e-mail
Hey, hey! Ease up It’s high time someone stood up for the Pink Floyd single It Would Be So Nice, which the band
themselves always decry and which Jon Savage [MOJO Reissues, 277] describes as “poor”. I’ve always loved this record – admittedly more Kinks than post-Barrett Floyd – and I bet that if Syd had written it instead of Rick Wright it would be fondly thought of.
Simon Broad, via e-mail
What a pleasure! Although Syrinx [Buried Treasure, MOJO 277] were never reviewed in the UK music press, they were praised, along with Suicide, in an article in Melody Maker in early 1971. I mentioned this to a Canadian friend when I went to university the following year and he was thrilled to bits as he knew the band socially. He subsequently made me a present of Long Lost Relatives which I still enjoy, although I’m glad to see the reissue as it’s been played an awful lot over the last 45 years or so!
Andy C John, Winchester
They’re going mad! Am I the only person who noticed that on October 13 – the day that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature – the BBC’s Six O’Clock News bulletin reported the story… by using a clip of a tribute singer performing Bob’s immortal Like A Rolling Stone. Presumably it is this that rendered Bob – and the rest of us – ‘speechless’.
Michael Wimborne, via e-mail
Steady on, old boy Enjoyed Michael Simmons’ piece on The Byrds [MOJO 276]. However, it was somewhat spoiled by a typically English media negative trait. Simmons
writes “The British loved The Byrds”, then a few lines later he writes “The next step was to find out how England would react to them in person.” So what is it? England or Britain? British or English? Don’t you know the difference between England and Britain? Do you think England IS Britain? Or vice versa? If you mean Britain say Britain. Annoyed Scottish person,
Garry Rowe, Glasgow, via e-mail
Poetry of motion Flying back from Florida to Southern California today, I listened to a variety of Byrds tracks while greatly enjoying your ‘Eight Miles High’ Byrds piece at 30,000 feet. Perfect soundtrack and reading for my journey!
Tollis Pompeo, Carlsbad, via e-mail
Attractive brute Thanks for another great MOJO 276! Roger McGuinn perched on Lou Reed’s ghostly image on the cover intrigues. One story not shared with the readers, however, is the apocryphal origins of Metal Machine Music Part 1. Legend has it that Reed spoke with his professor Delmore Schwartz on a static-filled phone line. Schwartz told Reed that he should “keep the New York street in and wax on poetry attrition”. Reed heard “keep the New York sleet sin and fax on distortion”. This fabled exchange brought the creation or rather the “fax” of MMP Part 1. Either way, Reed merged the “NY street” and the “fax on distortion” with gusto.
Vin Maganzini, Massachusetts, via e-mail
Nothing but the music We met at W.H. Smith’s, Slough in 1993, emigrated to Canada the following year and were happy together until 2011 heralded a painful thee-year separation that finally ended in Italy in 2014. Relocation to SE Asia this year demanded a subscription if we were to maintain our re-kindled and re-vitalised relationship. My first subscription copy (MOJO 270) contained several articles and reviews on movers, shakers, and musicians I’ve met. These included a book about Pete Meaden who I spent time with at Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie studio in 1976 and I found to be a quiet unassuming gentle man; a fourstar review of Woodpigeon, whose main-man Mark Hamilton I worked briefly with in Calgary and whose career I’d subsequently lost touch with. And last but not least a book about XTC. My punk band Moscow had blagged a last-minute support slot to them in Swindon in 1977. Thanks to some bloody mechanic repairing our Transit van early we did a moonlit flit 24 hours before the gig causing me years of grief as XTC have become one of my favourite bands.
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M MAKES A GRE A GIFT!! T !
Since then you’ve introduced me to Michael Chapman and Terry Reid, forced me to reassess The Fall, The Smiths, P.J. Harvey, De La Soul, and loads more. Endless thanks for the latter – great art waits for you to catch up with it, eh? Angel Olsen, Throws, Kevin Morby and Heron Oblivion are some of the newer artists you’ve led me to investigate further. So thank you MOJO for 20-plus years of outstanding music and outstanding music writing. Rock on, move my soul indeed. Where do we go from here? P, and of course, S: Any chance of a feature on the criminally underrated Bill Nelson?
Trevor William Scott, via e-mail
It’s the right tempo… Thanks to Keith Cameron (Chant Down Albion feature – MOJO 274) for the reminder of the roots of British reggae and the continuing need to speak out in a distinctive voice. In particular I wish to acknowledge the reference to Blair Peach, who died through the actions of police that fateful day in Southall, in April 1979. Blair Peach was a New Zealander and UK readers may not be aware that a track in his honour can be found on the NZ reggae band Dread Beat And Blood’s album, Tribute To A Friend. This is a good example of the many Maori/Pasifika reggae acts that arose in the early ’80s in response to the racism and alienation that was occurring. Just as the brothers in the UK were finding their voice in the rhythms of reggae, so too in Aotearoa, where the subject matter of their material continues to provide an independent and critical voice. We now have a fine lineage of reggae-inspired bands such as Herbs, Trinity Roots, Kora, Katchafire (who all have enjoyed chart success at home) and the more recent dub offerings of The Black Seeds and Fat Freddy’s Drop (who both hold a strong presence on the international stage). The rise of reggae in Aotearoa/New Zealand can be attributed to Bob Marley’s only concert he gave here. Which, coincidentally, was also in April 1979. Marley’s influence here (and no doubt in the UK) continues. While February 6 might be a national holiday in New Zealand, many prefer to recognise it as Bob’s birthday – and an annual event is the One Love concert, which provides a great opportunity for established and up-coming local and international acts to play to a receptive audience. Highly recommended for anyone keen on imbibing in the best of Pasifika vibes.
Frank McDade, Wellington via e-mail
Sentimental hymn tune I just discovered something. If you play Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera back to back with Mink Deville’s Heaven Stood Still, it’s the same song, same melody. Correct me if I might have got it wrong.
Isa Halim, somewhere in America
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Group Managing Director, Advertising Abby Carvosso Head of Magazine Media Clare Chamberlain Group Commercial Director Simon Kilby Head Of Magazine Brands Rachel Flower Head of Music Neil McSteen Music Director Joel Stephan Creative Solutions Manager Rick Williams Regional Advertising Katherine Brown Classified Sales Executive Philip Nessfield Classified Sales Manager Karen Gardiner Inserts Manager Simon Buckenham Production Manager Andrew Stafford Ad Production Controller Helen Mear Creative Solutions Senior Producer Jenna Herman Creative Solutions Art Director Jon Cresswell Chief Executive Paul Keenan Group Managing Director Rob Munro-Hall Publisher Patrick Horton Commercial Marketing Director Liz Martin Managing Editor Sophie Price MOJO CD and Honours Creative Director Dave Henderson Senior Events Producer Marguerite Peck Business Analyst Natalie Talbot Head of Marketing Simon Doggett Marketing Manager Allyson Johnstone Direct Marketing Manager Julie Spires Direct Marketing Executive Rebecca Lambert Head of Communications Jess Blake
Printing: William Gibbons MOJO (ISSN 1351-0193) is published 12 times a year by Bauer Consumer Media Ltd. Bauer Consumer Media Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 01176085, registered address Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough PE2 6EA Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica, NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to MOJO, Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA To ensure that you don’t miss an issue, visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk for the best subscriptions offers. For subscription or back issue queries, please contact CDS Global on Bauer@subscription.co.uk Phone from the UK on 01858 43 8884. Phone from overseas on +44 (0)1858 43 8884 For enquires on overseas newsstand sales e-mail David.Clark@seymour.co.uk © All material published is copyright of Bauer Consumer Media Ltd. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the prior permission of the publisher. MOJO accepts no responsibility for any unsolicited material. To find out more about where to buy MOJO, contact Frontline Ltd, at Midgate House, Midgate, Peterborough PE1 1TN. Tel: 01733 555161. COMPLAINTS: Bauer Consumer Media Limited is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (www.ipso.co.uk) and endeavours to respond to and resolve your concerns quickly. Our Editorial Complaints Policy (including full details of how to contact us about editorial complaints and IPSO’s contact details) can be found at www. bauermediacomplaints.co.uk. Our e mail address for editorial complaints covered by the Editorial Complaints Policy is firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE HOT NEWS AND BIZARRE STORIES FROM PLANET MOJO
SET THE HOUSE ABLAZE
As he unites on-stage with Robert Wyatt for Corbyn’s Labour Party, Paul Weller talks politics, promises and proper modernism.
“PEOPLE WILL SEE IT AS A BIT OF HOPE ON THE HORIZON.” Paul Weller
DECEMBER 2 As befits the coming season, Ed Harcourt presents a benefit night for child refugees at the Union Chapel in Islington, in conjunction with kids’ entertainment charity The Flying Seagull Project. Also on the bill are Sophie Ellis-Bextor (above), Carl Barât, The Magic Numbers and Simon Munnery, AKA The League Against Tedium and Alan Parker, Urban Warrior. More guests are promised!
PICTURES OF YOU
n his foreword for In Between Days: The Cure In Photographs 1982-2005, Robert Smith calls photographer Tom Sheehan “a really good baize legend ruby star top geezer smudge man”, who confounded the group “with a ninja-like ability to hide in plain sight, a roll of ﬁlm changed before the scruffs had even noticed he was taking pictures.” Such is Sheehan’s persuasive patter and method, tantamount to a Jedi mind trick that enabled him to get in close where others failed. His familiarity with The Cure is there for all to see in In Between Days, which chronicles the group across three decades, as they move from post-punk contenders to international superstars. The connection, forged when Sheehan was working for music weekly Mel Maker, is clearly a strong one – but how was it made? “I dunno,” declares Sheehan. “They’re easy going guys, I’ve alwa got on with them. Maybe it’s the way I work. Y’see, you’re not there t hang with these herberts, you’re th get something that’s going to look great in a magazine. And The Cure are no-nonsense people, they love what they do and they want to get on with it, so if you can come out with some rock classics in a short space of time, I’ve done my job, everybody’s happy and the door is open the next time. As opposed to being a pain in the arse, shooting f hours for a one-page feature!”
g dressed for Mexico ’86.
“SHEEHAN HAS ‘A NINJA-LIKE ABILITY TO HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT’.” Robert
took ﬁve minutes to get some shots and it was bang, bingo, job done, see you over the green baize,” says Sheehan. “J Mascis, he has his own demeanour, and it can be miserable, but I think they were on a high.” These are the kind of shared experiences that bind. “We did have a good professional friendship [with The Cure] which then extended over into playing lots of snooker together and then dining after,” says Sheehan. The photographer’s snooker and curry evenings with the group almost led to a great lost Cure artefact. The Last Days Of The Raj restaurant on Drury Lane, a regular haunt, had a radio jingle whose lyrics were, “It’s raining outside, it’s a complete disaster/Come inside and a have a King Prawn Masala.” The staff attempted to persuade Smith to write some music for it – one hopes in the style of Pornography. y Sadly it was not to be. “That ve been brilliant,” says Sheehan. ould have put it on a ﬂexidisc.” ships apart, the images couldn’t exist he photographer’s eye. “I approach it nician as opposed to an artiste,” says “I don’t like stylised designed graphy, but if it ends up on a gallery l, so be it. It’s a conversation that I love o have. I come to life with a camera. Without sounding like a wanker, it’s my nstrument, and I want to play it.” In Between Days: The Cure In Photographs 1982-2005 by Tom Sheehan is available from the Flood Gallery Deluxe and limited edition Super-Deluxe ats, the latter including signed prints. Go ww.theﬂoodgallery.com for full details.
The Doors’ live album London Fog 1966 is released. Featuring the earliest known concert recording of the group, when they were house band at the Sunset Strip club of the same name, its seven tracks include songs by Muddy Waters and Little Richard, plus an early version of Strange Days. It comes in a special box set, containing a CD, a facsimile 10-inch test pressing, memorabilia and notes by fan Nettie Peña who recorded it on ¼-inch tape.
DECEMBER 31 As the year comes to its end, it’s surely time for the Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920s calendar, 2017 edition. Marking off the months with beauteous old ads for 78s by the likes of Charley Patton, Skip James and Big Bill Broonzy, while alerting you to important blues anniversaries all year round, it also comes with a CD of 23 mega-rarities, sonically restored. For more info go to www. bluesimages.com
Tom Sheehan, Rex
Photographer Tom Sheehan’s latest book captures The Cure, reveals capers, contexts and curry intrigue.
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS CHALEUR HUMAINE / OUT NOW - INCLUDES ‘TILTED’ & ‘SAINT CLAUDE’ MOJO
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Psych-Midlanders strip it down and amp it up as they prepare for an eruption with sophomore joint Volcano.
here are several keyboards employed on Temples’ new album, Volcano: a temperamental 1952 Selmer Clavioline for gliding monophonic synth riffs, for example, and a Korg MS-20 for analogue oscillations. But when frontman, guitarist, co-writer and producer James Edward Bagshaw dusted off a Vox Continental – the dinky organ beloved from classic garage rave-ups like 96 Tears and Pushin’ Too Hard – a particular aim was in mind. “It doesn’t sound like a Vox Continental at all,” he says from his tourbus bunk, on the road in California. “If we’re gonna put that on it, it’s gonna sound like a ’60s record, so we swathed it in a synthetic overtone and harmonics. We knew we had to push it in a different direction.” The group began the follow-up to 2014’s Sun Structures in September 2015. The group – no longer all resident in the Midlands – worked in sporadic three-day chunks at Bagshaw’s home set-up in Kettering, with extra drums recorded at Northampton’ Lodge studio and vocals taped in a private facility in an unspeciﬁed chapel. “Living in different places has its good and bad points,” says Bagshaw. “You have that kind of space that means you can reassemble, and your ideas have a less small town point of view. It works out.” The plan p was not dissimilar to that of their ﬁrst LP. “It
Walmsley, mixer David Wrench, James Bagshaw, Samuel Toms.
“DIRECTNESS, I GUESS WE WERE AFRAID OF IT. ON THIS RECORD, WE’RE NOT.”
The Buzz: It s a lot more
contemporise our songwriting,” he direct. And I don’t think that necessarily means poppy. says. “Probably the hardest thing It’s going to smack you in about the whole process is where the face, not just sit there the songs ﬁt aesthetically. You whimpering behind a wall of reverb.” James Edward don’t want to sound like you’ve Bagshaw rehashed the ﬁrst record or you’ve gone too pop, or too heavy or too leftﬁeld. We’re not trying to write avant-garde jazz pieces, we’re still writing pop songs with melody and character.” Mixing assistance came from Anglesey sound seer and Julian Cope associate David Wrench. “He was excellent,” says Bagshaw, who also talks animatedly of the record’s high-ﬁdelity sound and action in the sub bass areas. “He ironed out the creases and got stuff right.” He conﬁrms that though the group didn’t think Volcano had a particular theme, they now know different. “Now that we’ve ﬁnished it, lyrically there clearly is,” he says. “That’s about us not hiding behind ambiguous terms all the time. Directness, I guess we were afraid of it. On this record, we’re not. We want you to hear every single word, and we’re not gonna hide it behind tons and tons of reverb. Now all the decisions you’ve made are exposed, which is really nice when you’re happy with them, ‘cos then it’s something more than a song or a story when it hits that stage. We’re very proud of it.” Ian Harrison
…THE XX are making their third album, declaring, “It feels so good to be together making new music.” They also shared a playlist of cu listening, including Crims And Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells, How Long by Ace and Sketch For Summer by The Durutti Column is this how the record will sound?… Titled Spirit, the next album by DEPECH
MODE (Dave Gahan, left) will be produced by James Ford and Matrixxman… Liverpool’s IT’S ERIAL are ﬁnishing off eased 1992 album, House Having rediscovered the acks, they’ve “reshaped, d down and written new for many of the songs. It omewhere between the e rhythmic approach of 986 debut] Life’s Hard And Then You Die and the
cinematic story-telling qualities of [1990 follow-up] Song.” They’re also working on a bra d lb a new FLAMIN arrives in January by Dave Fridma Mlodyy promises t “melodically song ed”, with tracks in Galaxy I Sink, Liste The Frogs With D Eyes and We A Fa which features M
Cyrus… there are seven tracks recorded for a new FLEETWOOD MAC lb m, but Stevie Nicks (left) e whether she’ll be ng, and told the Miami hat group members have e “such different ways”… anwhile, Jeff Mangum ay be preparing new EUTRAL MILK OTEL music: he’s been lling art which includes e words ‘Double LP’…
PA, Splash News
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THE ALBUM - OUT NOW DELUXE LIMITED EDITION 2xCD SET featuring THE DREAM SYNOPSIS EP LP | CD | DL
QUEEN WE WILL ROCK YOU
From the Queen On Air BBC collection, a fast bovver version of the 1977 45. Play while imagining Freddie leading a Euro hooligan elite pitch invasion at Liverpool vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach. Find It: YouTube
CONOR OBERST (FT. SHAWN COLVIN AND PATTY GRIFFIN) THE PEARL
From The Life & Songs Of Emmylou Harris concert CD and DVD, Oberst sings the Red Dirt Girl song of religious war making – or is it heroin addiction? – in tones defeated and tragic. Find It: YouTube
DJ SHADOW STEM/LONG STEM (CLAMS CASINO REMIX)
The standout track on Endtroducing’s extra CD of remixes, as Michael Volpe’s alter ego shows us the workings of Shadow’s most minimal composition. Find it: YouTube
Why is there an ad for Roy Orbison: The Ultimate Collection following Julia Jacklin around online? With the title track from October’s debut LP, these algorithms are onto something. An unshowy but emotionally probing piece of plaintive indie-country, it finds the New South Wales talent considering the bizarre phenomenon of existence and the real ties that bind. Jacklin explains it as, “I’m freaking out about getting older and running out of time but so is everyone! So just sing about it, move on and keep working.” She tours Europe in February. Find It: YouTube
Moroderish 2004 disco pumper produced by Pet Shop Boys, with the late Pete lairily imagining fame and debauchery in typically edgy manner. manner At one point he observes observes, “Should’ve Should ve gone to stage school, got a career.” Never! Find It: YouTube
RADIAN PICKUP PICKOUT
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS IT’S A BETTER THAN GOOD TIME (WALTER GIBBONS MIX)
Doing it ffor the kids: (above) Julia Jacklin; (below) Anohni hides from the eel-filled handbag of doom.
Despite being a trio, Vienna electronic wonks Radian bring pleasing symmetry to their exploration of contrasting dynamics: this track’s quiet-loud drama has its own meditative pulse. Find It: YouTube
1978 single extended and expanded in orchestral disco splendour, with ‘come back to me’ sentiments and conga breakdown. Find It: YouTube
THE BUG SK AG TENG
Taking the celebrated Sleng Teng rhythm, Kevin Martin retools it into a multiplying murder virus of bass, noise and disturbance. Forget dancehall, this is dancehell. Also on the drug-damaged 2015 12-inch – Meth Teng and Krak Teng. V i h Find It: YouTube Brilliantly bonkers Alex Carver-dir downbeat title track from Anohni’s la cult artist/designer Susan Cianciolo fi the criminal trial of a miniature pony a dark, ectoplasmic dread. Find It: YouTube
JIM JAMES HERE IN SPIR
Busting his best What’s Going On Jacket frontman murmurs, soars and i groove and gently plinking keys, on a fortitude that marks a personal-politi Find It: YouTube
“ANOHNI’S VIDEO FEATURES THE CRIMINAL TRIAL OF A
LOW ISLAND AN Y WHERE
Oxford pups bring electronic pop chops and two blissful falsettos. Are they singing about war crimes or extolling iced lattes? Who knows? Find It: SoundCloud
ERIC COPELAND KIDS IN A COMA
From the Black Dice man’s second solo LP, this delightfully woozy mix of playground garage dub comes with a glitched-up video of West Coast kids skateboarding off the tops of houses. Find it: YouTube
HOLGER HILLER OBEN IM ECK
From 1986, the Palais Schaumburg vocalist takes us to a petrified forest where sympathetic kobolds play chamber music for the recently deceased. Find It: YouTube
CORY HANSON REPLICA
Warped, string-drenched, mystical acid-folk from The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo, the forthcoming solo album by the man behind LA fuzz-power psych-youths, Wand. Eerie, withdrawn, romantic and frayed, it brings to mind similar leering LSD introspection from ’60s outliers such as Mark Fry and Jimmy Campbell. Find it: SoundCloud
MILVA CHI MAI
MUSE NEW KIND OF KICK
Ten years before its weeping strings themed BBC Wales’ The Life And Times of David Lloyd George in 1981, Morricone’s Chi Mai was a poignant Italian ballad, sung by redhead sensation, Milva. Find it: YouTube Recorded for Hallowe’en, the Teignmouth stadium worriers’ campy cover of The Cramps’ 1981 classic shows admirable spirit. Now for Muse’s cover of A Date With Elvis in its entirety.
TATUS FT. TOM GRENNAN WRONG hose millennial soul voices with undeniable proper enunciation). But it all became clear utal live drum’n’bass on Jools Holland.
EDELL DAVIS (FT. SCOTT MCCAUGHEY GRANDMA GRANDPA he 90-year-old Delta musician’s Even The Devil e Blues, a rumination on coffee, booze and onism, with help from the R.E.M. affiliate.
AN TIME ad to change our name to Leviathan.” Thus t Span’s drummer in the ‘68 doc, A Year In The Celebrate Cherry Red’s release of Leviathan’s a Album by rewatching it in full.
Shervin Lainez, Emma McIntyre
DON’T LET THE KIDS WIN
PETE BURNS JACK AND JILL PARTY
“So much religion, still we hate one another…” Current UK roots reggae with classic-era quality from Bristol legends Talisman. Mixed by dub maestro Dennis Bovell; a new LP drops in March. Find it: SoundCloud
1 JULIA JACKLIN
The Chingford files: Steve Hillage by Steve Hillage; (below) the guitarist on the water.
STEVE HILLAGE The Gong/System 7/ Rainbow Dome Musick man in his own words and by his own hand.
I describe myself as… a molecule drifting – an atom aﬂoat. Part overgrown teenager, part old man. Creatively restless. Still searching for the spark, but nonetheless with a generally positive disposition, and an odd blend of outgoing enthusiasm and inward-looking solitude. Music changed me… by being a part of my life since the age of four, and the dominant part of my life since I left university and got my ﬁrst record deal at the age of 19. So in many ways rather than just changing me, music has
made me who I am. I guess as long as I still have a certain hunger for trying and learning new things in music I will continue at full pace. When I’m not making music… I’ve just started ﬁshing again after a long break. Miquette [Giraudy, Steve’s wife] and I love holidays in nice warm places. I’m also quite interested in politics, but in these days of Trump and Brexit I ﬁnd it increasingly frustrating and depressing. I hope in my own small way I can use music to bring good energy into this troubled world. But I’m always thinking about music in one way or another. The Chinese painter Wang Tiande said, “When you have reached a certain state of happiness it is impossible to take time off.” I always feel there
“I’M A MOLECULE DRIFTING – AN ATOM AFLOAT.”
is one more song to write, one more track to mix. My biggest vice is… red wine. Really good French red wine. Recently my brother dug out a 1984 Pauillac that my late father had bought 30 years ago – now that was seriously good! The last time I was embarrassed was… when we complained at a restaurant the other day. Miquette, being French, has no problem with this, but I get all tortured inside despite our complaint being justiﬁed. My formal qualiﬁcations are… three ‘A’ levels – I left university after one year, after Part 1 exams. The last time I cried was… I got a bit emotional after our Mirror System set at Ozora Festival in Hungary in August. I also got a bit emotional after reading John Donne’s poem No Man Is An Island live on radio a month ago. Vinyl, CD or MP3? …they all have their pros and cons. Vinyl sounds nice, but setting up the deck can be a bit of a pain. Digital ﬁles are quick and efﬁcient, but they lack the track information and credits you get on a physical record. I hope soon that CD-quality WAV or AIFF ﬁles will become the norm so we can do away with the sonic compromises of MP3. CDs are less cumbersome than vinyl and still afford an opportunity for creative artwork, and they are good for playing in the car. My most treasured possession is… my Steinberger GL guitar. The best book I’ve read r is… Homage To Catalonia by Georrge Orwell. I could have said Animal Farm or 1984, but Homage contains a lot of the roots of his later work. It goess really deep into fractured idealism an nd the smoke and mirrors of political manipulation. m Is the glass half-fulll or half-empty? Half-full of course! Where’s W the party? My greatest regret is… it would have been nice to have had more opportunities to write movie scores, particularly if they have a psych hedelic theme. When we die… our sspirit drifts into the great ocean, possibly to stay there or possibly to return here or to another planet far away. I would like to be remembered… in the world but not of the world. Steve’s 22-CD box Searching For The Spark 1969-1991 is out now on Madﬁsh.
…BOB DYLAN was suspected of aloofness when he made no public comment on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October: one Swedish Academy member even called him “arrogant”. But it seems Bob was simply so gobsmacked at the honour he was left speechless, and says he will attend the December ceremony if he can … speaking of great literature, ALEX 22 MOJO
BARTSCH’s Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves In London is a series of 42 photographs re-situating reggae LP art in its original setting (see below). It’s being kick- started by One Love books over at tinyurl.com/ zdb4kpw …the world rejoiced when RIC B AND AKIM , ip-hop railblazers ehind classics ke Paid In Full
and Follow The Leader, announced they’d tour internationally in 2017. They’ll also remaster and reissue their four albums: “No one wave can topple this great ship,” said a spokesman. “The wind i id !” th rap vet b the UK a Mitcham RICK , w a British the stree warning
looking forward to a nice cup of tea and some tasty biscuits” …they said the ABBA (below) reunion would never happen, but in 2018 the four Swedish pop deities will collaborate ith Si n Cowell on a “groundng venture that will se the very latest in ital and virtual reality echnology.” Just as long as they do Bang-A-Boomerang and On Top Of Old Smokey…
Premium Rockshot, Alex Bartsch
FACT SHEET G G
Steeped in desert enigma, this self-styled Mystery Girl has a little help by Alex Turner.
ho is the mystery girl? I don’t know,” Alexandra Savior murmurs of her upcoming single of that name. “Maybe it’s a representation of insecurity in oneself. But that means you’ll never really get the answer.” In light of the single’s video that she’s ﬁlming (as well as writing and directing) in the Joshua Tree national park later today, the Portland-born singer clearly appreciates ambiguity. “I love the eeriness of the desert,” she explains. “But there’s no storyline. It’s more about, Is it real, or is it not?” The air of intrigue extends to Savior’s dazzling, sultry sound and voice, with its echoes of nocturnal Mazzy Star (“their album So Tonight That I Might See is the only tape in my car”), and also Arctic Monkeys at their most desertparched. No surprise here – Savior’s forthcoming album, as yet untitled, is co-written with Alex Turner, who co-produces alongside Last Shadow Puppets’ James Ford. “Alex is an amazing lyricist, and that’s the area in which I wanted to grow,” Savior says. She admits, “I wasn’t like a huge fan of his music before. But his sound seeped into my record. That’s inevitable, because I used all his resources.” Pre-Turner, Jackson C. Frank and Karen Dalton were her guides on a long journey of self-discovery, pockmarked by insecurity, songs about “social anxiety” and ideas of fantasy perfection. The girl born Alexandra Savior McDermott was, she says, raised on soul and grunge by her dad before, at 13,
co es out of the shadows; (inset) co-writer and co-producer Alex Turner.
“THERE’S NO STORYLINE. IT’S MORE ABOUT, IS IT REAL, OR IS IT NOT?”
which triggered her ﬁrst songs. KEY TRACKS She and a schoolfriend recorded a G MTME G Mystery Girl cover of Angus & Julia Stone’s Big G Mirage Jet Plane that led to a solo deal G Shades with Columbia. A trip to London to meet co-writers for Adele and Florence followed, though Savior ultimately baulked. “Somebody plucked me up and offered me the world, like ‘You can do this, this is your dream.’ It wasn’t, but at 17 you have no direction. I went into it not knowing how to say no.” Back in LA, Savior compiled a list of her choice of collaborators; she was amazed when Turner agreed. One demo, Risk, reached T Bone Burnett, who used it in the second series of HBO’s True Detective. Then Turner ﬁlched their co-write Miracle Aligner for this year’s Last Shadow Puppets album, before two low-key Savior singles, Shade and MTME (both with self-written and directed videos), spread the word. The next battle is: can the mystery girl survive the de-mystiﬁcation process of potential fame? “It’s not enough to sing and write songs and have your picture taken too, you have to have an ego, and make people happy, and have them think you’re one of the coolest things in the world, whereas in reality, you’re just a sad girl singing songs,” she demurs. “It’s hard to stand your ground. I’m still ﬁguring all of this out.” Martin Aston
THE BRAND NEW ALBUM
MOBY The Play Boy digs goth, chill and one chord repeated!
(Amha 7-inch, 1969)
COWBOYS 1THRASH INTERNATIONAL
(Virgin 7-inch, 1979)
When I was a 15-year-old punk/ new wave kid, I would sit by the radio for three hours and tape anything interesting on the New York college radio station, WNYU. I still have some of those cassettes and they’re like Proustian time capsules. Cowboys International were almost a new wave ‘supergroup’ – Keith Levene and Terry Chimes were members – and their ﬁrst album is for me almost a greatest hits album. Every song it is remarkable, but Thrash is one of the most perfect pop songs ever recorded.
Back when I was living in New York and still drinking there was a Chinese restaurant on Broom Street in Little Italy. I’d go there when I was hungover to get really greasy vegan food. The manager had a cassette, the only cassette the restaurant owned, and it had this piece of simple and uplifting and beautiful Ethiopian jazz on it. So every time I’d go in there, without fail, I’d hear it, and I fell in love with it. This is just based around one repetitive chord ﬁgure, with a bafﬂing waltz-esque time signature. There’s a gentle atmospheric quality to it. It’s perfect through all its choices of restraint and omission, and it’s possibly the nicest use of piano and sax outside of A Love Supreme.
REVEREND 3OVERSTREET LOUIS
BELIEVE ON ME (from Rev. Louis Overstreet With His Sons And The Congregation Of St. Luke’s Powerhouse Church Of God In Christ, Arhoolie, 1995) This song is so ﬂawless. It was recorded with one crummy microphone in an empty-ish church in the deep South sometime in 1962. There’s no bass on it, and it’s one chord over and over again, and in spite of that, or maybe because of that, it’s so powerful. It really helps that this man has this voice of god. It’s a recording that’s a document, as opposed to a construction. This is about the beauty of the self-published. There’s an accidental authenticity to it that I love. It is really endearing and genuine. It makes multi-track recording seem like a mistake.
ABECEDARIANS 4MONARCHS SMILING
FREESCHA 5KID BROTHER
(Factory 12-inch, 1985)
(from Kids Fill The Floor, Attacknine, 2001)
Another obscure-ish LA synth band, although I believe their obscure cred is slightly challenged by the fact that they were brieﬂy signed to Factory. In the early ’80s I was obsessed with anything that came out of Shefﬁeld, Manchester – Cabaret Voltaire, Heaven 17, A Certain Ratio – when postpunks discovered drum machines and synthesizers. Such a magical conﬂuence of elements. I bought this 12-inch in 1985, and it was great. I thought they were from somewhere up north. But I’m assuming they just obsessed with Northern English music. And it speaks to this weird phenomenon, that Southern California has, for a very long time, been the global centre of goth culture.
A beautiful piece of obscure electronic/ ambient music from Freescha, who by all rights should have been superstars in a perfect world wherein people who make obscure ambient music go on to become superstars. I’d never heard of them until I was round the house of a friend of mine, and when he played it, in that magical way that odd instrumental music can alter the space, on a molecular level, it changed the air and the light in the room. It changed time. Everything slowed down and seemed different. The album was ironically entitled Kids Fill The Floor,r as the only ﬂoors this album would ﬁll would be with very calm and possibly sleeping babies.
Words: Andrew Male. Moby & The Void Paciﬁc Choir’s These Systems Are Failing is out now on Little Idiot
MULATU 2YEGELE ASTATKE TEZETA
best of the year CDs for
Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate
Richard Ashcroft These People
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
Teenage Fanclub Here
Glass Animals How To Be A Human Being
Passenger - Young As The Morning Old As The Sea
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry Shine A Light
Santana Santana IV
Charles Bradley Changes
Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Warpaint Heads Up
loads more to choose from in-store & online
Offer applies to stickered stock only, while stocks last. Price applies to standard CD versions.
FACT SHEET G
LORELLE MEETS THE OBSOLETE From Guadalajara, looping new wave psych duo achieve starry equilibrium.
e now live in a peaceful place on the hills,” says Lorena Quintanilla. “It’s very close to the ocean. Very quiet.” The guitarist and lead singer with Lorelle Meets The Obsolete is talking to MOJO about the band’s current home in Ensenada, Baja California, where they wrote and recorded their latest album, Balance. It’s easy to overstate the importance of location with bands – think of all the desperate outﬁts keen to say their studio was haunted – but with Lorelle and The Obsolete it seems key. The Mexican psychedelic husband-and-wife duo’s admittedly excellent ﬁrst three albums as Lorelle Meets The Obsolete (they’d previously played as Soho Riots and Holy Mountains) were recorded in urban surrounds in Guadalajara and Mexico City, and their haunted textures had a gnarled, raucous edge, with dreamlike melodies wrapped in a thick smoggy haze. Balance is something else entirely. “We got tired of the sound we accomplished on [2014 LP] Chambers,” says the band’s other half, Alberto Gonzalez. “It was an unspoken rule. It must not sound like Chambers.” As well as adding a delicious new post-punk synthesizer drone to their sound, and guitar audibly inspired by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the duo now feel they are working more collaboratively, as borne out by the new album’s title. “On the ﬁrst two albums all the ideas were mostly
The Obsolete s Lorena Quintanilla and Alberto Gonzalez.
“IN SPANISH I FEEL VERY NAKED WRITING PERSONAL THINGS.”
G La Distinción versions of each s g, one y Lorena, one by Alberto, recording whichever one they felt was the most effective. Another signiﬁcant change, this time around, is that Quintanilla has started writing songs in her native Spanish. “Writing in English is easy for me,” she says, “it creates [a] distance from myself, the psychological effect of an alter ego, because I don’t feel myself in English. But in Spanish I feel very naked writing personal things. Then I realised that if I say very abstract things in Spanish I don’t feel that way.” Recorded by the band at their home studio, Balance was mixed by previous MOJO Riser Cooper Crain, the Chicagobased producer and keyboardist of CAVE and Bitchin Bajas. They’ve worked together almost since they formed, in 2011. “We like what he makes,” says Gonzalez, “and he has a great ear. Plus, this new album has a lot of loops and textures like his work with Bitchin Bajas and he really brought those out.” Speaking to MOJO at the end of August, the band were about to tour the UK and Europe, taking in the Liverpool Psych Fest. Their 2013 set at the conscious-expanding twoday scally fuzz gala, augmented by the rhythm section from Italian dark psych quartet, New Candys, ﬁrst brought them to the attention of the UK’s new psych scene. “We can’t wait to play these songs live to people,” says Quintanilla. “It’s going to be really exciting!” Andrew Male
ALSORISING ormerly of Brighton rumbling goths The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, bassist Sym Gharial and frontman Andy Huxley once roved the rock’n’roll highway in a ﬂame-painted vintage roadster. Though that group ended in a messy wreck not once but twice, the two are now back motoring with rifﬁng, tortured punk-pop foursome PIANO WIRE (left). After August’s predatory double A-sider Get A Life/All Roads Lead To God, their debut Dream Underground, with production by Gil Norton, comes in January. Lyricist Gharial promises “twisted love and being a loner and going mad. Feeling detested. And fear.” Let the party commence. Clive Prior
he biggest claim to fame made so far by Yorkshire electronic duo worriedaboutsatan is probably that the band’s Gavin Miller (left, on right) is music supervisor for documentary ﬁlm-maker Adam Curtis. So it won’t be a surprise to ﬁnd that their music is intense, moody and dramatic. Formed in 2006 out of the ashes of a “loud, guitar-heavy band”, Miller says he and co-Worrier Thomas Ragsdale tried to “strip back the bombast and pomp of a lot of post-rock”. On their third album, Blank Tape, they’ve evolved from Burial-ish glitchy electronics “to something a bit grander, incorporating ambient textures and slo-mo techno” gloriously night-drive-through-the-city music that stands on its own merits. Joe Muggs
Steve Gullick, Congestión Nasal
best of the year CDs for
Bat For Lashes The Bride
Bon Iver 22, A Million
Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
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OASIS RECORD BE HERE NOW, 1996-7 Still soaring on the titanic success of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and its capture of the national moment, the country’s biggest group got back in the studio to make the follow-up. How could they fail? In time its chief architect would disown its elephantine hubris, deranged creation and lack of songs. But what was it really like in the eye of the supernova?
“NO ONE REALLY BELIEVED IT WAS A GREAT ALBUM.”
PART 1 “A LOT OF DRUGS” Songwriter and Oasis mainman Noel Gallagher recalls in-band strife, defaced canvas and excruciating loudness.
They hoped they thought they knew: (clockwise from far left) a pensive Noel Gallagher; Liam Gallagher having it; Ridge Farm logo; Oasis art action (artist’s impression); submerged Roller as visual metaphor cover art, Stocks House, Herts; the band; album label; Liam at Abbey Road; ticket for Knebworth; Be Here Now cover.
OWEN MORRIS TALKS MUSTIQUE, BLOODY MINDS AND PSYCHOSIS… TURN OVER! PRODUCER
Rex (3), Film Magic, Getty Images
hey were turbulent times. A lot of drugs involved. We should never have made that record then. From Knebworth, we have a couple of weeks off, hat American tour collapses halfway through… onships between people in the band were either xistent or fractious. Instead of going, ‘We should go parate ways for a year or two’, we decided like idiots traight into Abbey Road, arguing. e session] didn’t last too long. There’s a bar in there! re getting pissed all the time. I wasn’t there when kicked out, I’d hazard a guess it was summat Liam en up to. We moved to Ridge Farm [in Surrey]. It es to get going. The press had followed us, and se it’s on a farm there’s lots of farm people knocking d, so you would always be looking suspiciously out dow – admittedly high as a fucking kite – thinking: heep’s got a camera. I bet he works for The Sun.’ ght we convinced Liam his bedroom was haunted. he’d get up in the morning to have breakfast, one would go in and turn all the pictures back to r move a lamp. He’d arrive, pale – ‘You been in my room?’ ‘No.’ ‘’Cos the lamp’s now in the fucking ‘Whooooo!’ Highly amusing. had to go back to London. I’m sure it wasn’t for any cal reasons – just chaos of some description. If I was e my time again, I would have walked away. ‘I d be buying a yacht, what the fuck am I doing here g with Bonehead about a capo?!’ In that band, it’s ecause you’ve got a singer who speaks a different age, who’s got a brain the size of a frog. Like arguing Chinese fella about the German alphabet – there’s ing point. You might as well just plug in and play. we went to AIR [George Martin’s studio in London]. all day again. It was getting to that point where no as allowed in the studio when Liam was singing. I e, ‘I’m gonna go on holiday…’ I remember coming ter a month, and listening to it: I thought it was g. I called Owen [Morris, co-producer] and said, got to go back to AIR…’ We did the whole album in ays. And that’s what ended up on the record. You never leave them alone in the studio, any of them. e mix is terrible. There was 10 people in the control – seven of them Liam, pontiﬁcating about some nonsense. It was excruciatingly loud. We were s kites. I think subconsciously no one really believed a great album, just a case of, ‘Fuck it, this’ll do. Let’s t on the road.’ ou’re making a record you believe in, there’s no way ther] shit would get in the way. Morning Glory was he reason it worked is because the songs were – or they were better n Be Here Now w I look ack on it as a real missed pportunity. It goes back o giving all those great ongs away as B-sides – he Masterplan, Half The World Away, Acquiesce… The original idea was to four separate album Bonehead was gonna one, Alan was, I was, Guigs but Liam was gonna be in all m. ‘Be Here Now’, right? Geddit?!! No, neither did y else. Someone said, ‘This is going to cost over a n quid…’ ‘OK, maybe we’ll just have one album In the stately home where we shot it, there was a s painting of a fox hunt. Someone had drawn a cock lls on a horse jumping over a fence chasing the fox, felt pen. We had to buy the fucking painting! It was f money. It genuinely wasn’tt me. Fuck knows where w. I do hope Bonehead’s got it in his toilet.”
OASIS RECORD BE HERE NOW, 1996-7 Co-producer Owen Morris recalls fraternal aggro, wanting to stop and relative failure.
oel was in Mustique on holiday with Meg [May, 1996]. I ﬂew out for a week. All very glamorous, Johnny Depp and Kate Moss – me and Noel got stoned and drunk at Mick Jagger’s place, looking at the Andy Warhols on the wall. I took a basic 8-track and a little computer. He had one electric guitar, one bass, a mike and an acoustic. He rattled through all these songs. I prefer the demos – they feel so nice. The arrangements are tight and he doesn’t go on for ﬁve minutes at the end of each song song. There was no cocaine involved. He was on h ki th last time I
V-sign of the times: (clockwise from main) Noel and Liam Gallagher meet the public; Noel with Owen Morris (right); MTV invitation; Mustique holiday -makers (from left) Johnny Depp, Noel, Kate Moss, Meg Mathews.
“IT WAS PURE HATRED. COCAINE PSYCHOSIS.”
happy. Because the actual Be Here Now w sessions were pretty dire. The mood was appalling by then. They did the MTV thing, where Noel sang They had to say Liam had a bad sang. voice – he might have done, because he probably hadn’t slept in days. Noel was angry about that. I met up with Noel the day before we went into Abbey Road. He was just in a fucking mood. He was talking about this huge publishing deal he’d just signed. So there was lot of money involved for everybody to be there: myself, every member of the band. We went in and Noel was like, ‘I don’t want that cunt to be singing my songs, he’s a shit singer, I’m a better singer than him.’ Liam’s going, ‘I don’t want to sing that cunt’s songs, they’re shit, I write better songs g than him…’ It was p pure hatred. Cocaine psychosis. Took forever – we started at the end of September and didn’t ﬁnish ’til next May! It was bonkers. At Abbey Road, someone was going in at night and taking photos or taking items, so it wasn’t really private. Which was a shame, ’cos it’s obviously a brilliant studio. We went to Ridge Farm, which was almost even worse because the police and the paparazzi were camped outside. The police were driving around in the middle of the night with their lights on – quite intimidating, considering the vast amounts
of class A s on the premises. I don’t think anybody saw t going completely fucking ideways post-Knebworth. Yeah, they could have stopped and done it differently – but Noel didn’t want to stop. It was a bloody-minded mission to get it done. Me and [Oasis sound engineer] Mark Coyle went to Noel after a week at Abbey Road and suggested we stop. Because it wasn’t fun to be in the studio. But Noell jjustt went, N t ‘Oh, ‘Oh it’ll b be allll right.’ i ht ’ When it was all over I felt like I never wanted to record music again. It was depressing. But all these bands I’ve worked with since love it. They’re a younger generation and it was their ﬁrst Oasis album. They love everything about it. I’m like, OK… I said to [Oasis manager] Marcus Russell, ‘Was that a fuck-up?’ He said, ‘Well, nine million fucking records, Owen, so not really.’” Keith Cameron Oasis’ Be Here Now Chasing The Sun Edition is out now on Big Brother Recordings.
Rex, Alamy, Tom Sheehan
PART 2 “IT WAS BONKERS”
TRAIN THEY RIDE Lone wolves Billy Bragg and Joe Henry bring their railway concept suite to New York and Boston.
Guy Eppel (12)
ounds great!“ declares a delighted Billy Bragg from the second pew of an empty 800- capacity church-like venue humbly called The Society for Ethical Culture. Joe Henry is playing his ballad God Only Knows at the grand piano, and has just got to the break after the ﬁrst verse. It’s the soundcheck on the New York City stop of the pair’s Shine A Light tour, promoting September’s traditional American folk concept LP about the railways and their role in US song and mythology. It’s the latest instalment in 30 years of friendship and occasional collaboration: eac the pair start and ﬁnish the sh a duo, with mini solo sets in b Bragg s train-spotter Bragg’s train spotter juice ﬂowing while researching a b the moment Britain swapped guitar-based roots music afte Donegan’s 1956 hit Rock Islan “I realised there are a hug of railroad songs,” he says. “[T have] a metaphorical hold on American imagination. Train aren’t just about people bein trains. When you think of Joh Cash’s Folsom Prison, it’s not bars that make him hang his and cry, it’s the sound of the lonesome whistle of the train
get back on before the train pulled off again. So Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad was born. “This interested me immediately,” says Henry, who previously mixed the everyday sounds of his neighbourhood into his 2011 release Reverie, “to create something that suggests that this is something happening in real time, that involves real time engagement.” This is certainly what the audience gets at tonight’s show. The venue’s air of moral reverence, coupled with the charged political season, gives Henry’s grand piano-played, redemptionseeking Our Song extra weight. It’s followed by a voice and acoustic
tre, Boston, October 2, 2016; (inset) New York setlist; (below) Boston meet and greet.
“WE’RE GETTING AWAY WITH IT LIKE BUTCH CASSIDY
For his part, Bragg comes out swinging. He talks Brexit, refers to Boris Johnson as “pro having his cake and pro eating it too”, and says Donald Trump is “pro having yourr cake and eating it too!” Interpretive chops are ﬂexed with Vermont folk singer Anais Mitchell’s Why We Build The Wall, which he ties in with the Calais ‘Jungle’ and Trump’s Mexican plans. Given the electoral tension, songs sound political even when they’re not, and Billy introduces his relationshipthemed I Keep Faith with a plea to the audience to not lose hope in the coming vote. The wall theme is inued when Henry rejoins Bragg he Carter Family’s Railroading On Great Divide, and recalls the pair g along the Juarez and El Paso der, seeing the contrast between USA and Mexico. ost-gig, the merchandise table is aled as the new backstage, as the is pressed, CDs are sold, and -gig snaps with fans are taken. It is, ery sense of the word, a whistle tour conducted with military ision – a day earlier, after their ndcheck at the Levon Helm Studios oodstock, they even recorded a r of Merle Haggard’s If We Make It ugh December for a Christmas e. Conversation comes thick and
TENDERCOMRADES The Bragg/ Henry friendship explained.
From Barking to Boston (and New York City): (clockwise from top left) Henry on-stage in NY; Boston venue; Henry in the green room; Shine A Light (inset); soundchecking in NY; the Wilbur as seen from the stage; entrance to the Ethical Culture Centre; live in NYC; signing T-shirts in NY.
fast over clam chowder and scallops before the pair return to the hotel for exactly 40 minutes for, as Billy succinctly puts it, a “shit, shower and a shave”, which will also include internet time to ﬁnd out the results of heavy referendums in Hungary and Colombia. The following day they’re bound for Boston, sadly not by rail. Henry is, however, dressed like the kind of Western sharp-shooting gambler who’d be at home in a velvet-seated train carriage, circa 1880. Over a food break across the street from the historic Wilbur Theatre, MOJO quips that his co-conspirator – more a candidate for riding a depression-era boxcar in his faded ﬂannel shirt and crumpled trousers – makes them the Odd Couple of Americana. “We’re getting away with it like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” retorts Billy. “Our voices don’t necessarily suggest they might work together,” ponders Joe. “Neither of us has spent any amount of time singing harmony. We’re both lone wolves in a certain way, and we come from different backgrounds. But they’re not that different because all music comes out of a folk tradition. We’re dipping water out of the same river.” Unlike the New York date, the
Boston venue has cabaret seating with table-side bar service. During Henry’s pre-intermission solo set, questions are shouted from the dark as he tunes his temperamental 1930s Gibson. “Does Billy snore?” is the ﬁrst. After admitting the pair shared a sleeping car during their four-day recording trek, “like two fellas in the army”, Henry reminds the inquisitive audience member that his partner was once in the army, and that the fraternal omerta of the rails means he can’t say. The songs’ socio-political weight is again in evidence when Billy plays Woody Guthrie’s Hobo’s Lullaby with reference to the aforementioned Hungarian anti-asylum referendum result, but there’s joy unbound on the duo’s take on Rock Island Line and a closing cover of Leadbelly’s Midnight Special which, unlike the previous night, gets its intended spirited clap-along. Then there’s another busy merch table and more CDs and posters to sign. Meanwhile, a married couple who tell Billy that their ﬁrst dance was to his 1988 song Valentine’s Day Is Over get their CD for free. Gianluca Tramontana
“I would turn my younger brother onto Bob Dylan, The Band and Van Morrison,” reﬂects Joe Henry, looking back to his formative years. “He turned me onto Billy Bragg and The Clash.” The pair met in person in Warner Brothers’ London ofﬁce in 1988, where Mrs Henry was an international publicist. They bonded over Astral Weeks and Woody Guthrie, and six years later were duetting on Merle Haggard’s Dark As A Dungeon. In 2013 Henry produced Billy’s Tooth & Nail album. “Joe is someone who’s perfected what he does and taken it beyond what I do,” says Bragg. “I’ve learnt to listen to him, [how] to follow your impulse and not be restrained by the way you play or learn the song.” The learning cuts both ways. Says Henry, “I’ve been learning from Bill to let go of the idea that you’re separating your artistry from your thought process. It’s a seamless whole for him.” But which of each other’s songs do they rate most highly? Bragg names Our Song and all others a close second (“songs I’d have given an arm and a leg to write”). Joe replies that he likes Must I Paint You A Picture, Valentine’s Day Is Over and Tank Park Salute which prompts a “you big softy!” from its author.
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry will be touring the UK in January MOJO 35
DECEMBER 1961 ...THE TOKENS’ LION ROARS AT NUMBER 1 The whole world had gone Twist crazy, again – Chubby Checker was at Number 3 in the US charts with The Twist, ahead of his own Let’s Twist Again and Twistin’ USA, while Bill Black’s Twist-Her, Joey Dee & The Starliters’ Peppermint Twist, Gary U.S. Bonds’ Dear Lady Twist, Danny & The Juniors’ Twistin’ All Night Long and Ernie Freeman’s to-the-point The Twist could also be found among the best-sellers. Even Count Basie was bubbling under with Basie Twist. But Brooklyn doo woppers The Tokens outpaced them all. After displacing The Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman – Tamla’s ﬁrst US pole-position pop hit – they topped the listings for three weeks with The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Rarely had a song boasted so many writers’ credits. Those who had their name down for a piece of the action were Hugo Peretti, Albert Stanton, Luigi Creatore, Paul Campbell, George Weiss and Roy Ilene (aka Milt Gabler). Yet none of them had created the original melody. Originally known as Mbube, the basic tune had been around for years. South African singer Solomon Linda had written and recorded it back in 1939 with his group The Evening Birds. The Weavers later fashioned a hit revamp in 1952 under the title Wimoweh. Then the song lay dormant for a while. That is until The Tokens came into the picture. They’d been together since 1959, when pianist Phil Margo returned to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn ffrom a stint ti t iin th the C Catskills. t kill In I
left) Eddie Rabkin, Phil Margo, Jay Siegel, Mitch Margo, Hank Medress; Mbube 78; Lion picture sleeve; The Weavers and their version; Solomon Linda’s Evening Birds.
“WE WERE EMBARRASSED BY IT, AND TRIED TO CONVINCE THEM NOT TO RELEASE IT.” Phil Margo
the autumn of that year, he got together with Hank Medress and Jay Siegel from Daryl & The Oxfords, a local group whose membership had formerly included Neil Sedaka. Margo’s 12-year-old brother Mitch was then hauled in to sing harmony, and by Christmas 1959 The Tokens were ready to go. Signed to Warwick Records, they recorded one of their own songs, Tonight I Fell In Love, which made it into the US Top 20. Producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore [aka Hugo & Luigi] liked what they heard, and helped The Tokens obtain an audition for RCA Records, at which they performed their version of Wimoweh. Signed to the label, The Tokens recorded d d their h i version i off Linda’s Li d ’ song under the title The Lion Sleeps Tonight at their second RCA date in May 1960. “We were embarrassed by it,” Phil Margo later claimed, “and tried to Hugo & Luigi not to e it.” Jay Siegel ﬁrmed as much in an erview with oldmine magazine. The group did not ant that record to ome out. They were mbarrassed by the
title. It sounded so ridiculous, we used to slur over the title. But I loved it… RCA believed in it, the others didn’t… but they were wrong.” Hugo & Luigi, who had helped kit out Wimoweh with a new lyric and title, knew they were onto a winner from the very start. The Lion Sleeps Tonight had soon shifted more than three and a half million copies, and went on to sell double that amount. In the wake of international success and a series of low-level hits for RCA, The Tokens moved into production. “We decided we were gonna learn the business of music,” said Siegel. They laid down their ﬁrst marker with He’s So Fine, by The Chiffons. A Number 1 US pop hit in March 1963, it was hailed as the ﬁrst vocal group record to be produced by another full vocal group. Not only that, but The Tokens played all the backup instruments on the date, claiming that they couldn’t afford studio musicians. During 1964, the group appeared at New York’s Paramount Theatre with The Beatles, and in ’66 they formed their B.T. Puppy Records label. They produced B.T. Puppy’s ﬁrst Top 10 hit, See You In September by The Happenings, that May. Along the way The Tokens also helmed records for Randy & The Rainbows, Tony Orlando & Dawn and others. In 1973 came another switch. “We grew our hair long, and put on denim shirts,” recalled Siegel, as The Tokens changed identity to become Cross Country, and cut an album for Atco. That self-titled platter yielded a slo-mo, harmony-ﬁlled version of In The Midnight Hour that went Top 30. But it was to be their last hurrah. With no taste for touring or performing live, they disbanded a year later, regrouping for one ﬁnal ﬂing at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in October 1983. “We never had a proper curtain,” concluded Phil Margo. “Now I can bury that part of my life.” Fred Dellar
Getty Images (3), Alamy (2), courtesy of BriMel Archives, Advertising Archives
AD ARCHIVE 1961
Elvis Presley (above) fills in an 2automobile insurance form that lists a pink 1955 Cadillac sedan, a 1958 Harley-Davidson, a 1960 Rolls-Royce and a 1950 Chevy one-ton truck, which he uses to drive around Memphis incognito.
Ray Charles goes on trial, after a 4November 14 drugs bust, when a raid on his Indianapolis hotel room yielded marijuana and heroin. The case is dismissed due to evidence being obtained illegally.
Gene Chandler’s Duke Of Earl is 4released by Vee-Jay. A doo wop throwback, it will be Chandler’s biggest hit, selling over a million worldwide.
The Supremes, now to a trio since 8Barbara Martin’s
THE BEACH BOYS’ WAVE BREAKS
Surﬁn’, the ﬁrst recording by The Beach Boys, gets its ﬁrst-ever play on KFWB radio. It’s released on Candix Records, a minor Los Angeles company, and is penned by Brian Wilson (above far left) and his cousin Mike Love (far right). Though the song is a hit with pop listeners, purist surfers disapprove of the song’s non-instrumental nature. Signiﬁcantly, The Beach Boys’ ﬁrst live appearance takes place on the 23rd – playing a short set during the intermission at surf guitar hero Dick Dale’s last show of his two-year residency at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa.
departure, cut their second Motown 45. Titled Your Heart Belongs To Me, it’s written and produced by Smokey Robinson.
US R&B SINGLES DECEMBER 18
MR POSTMAN 1 PLEASE THE MARVELETTES ON YOUR LOVE 2 TURN LIGHT BOBBY BLAND WOMAN THE 3 GYPSY IMPRESSIONS ME THE SIMS 4 SOOTHE TWINS THERE’S NO OTHER (LIKE MY BABY) THE 5CRYSTALS
Due to litigation, Columbia Records halt Erroll Garner’s Swinging Solos, an LP collection of old tapes. Reviewers, distributors and DJs are instructed to ignore it.
The Everly Brothers win a 11 court decision against Acuff-Rose Music. The duo, who are now in the Marines, were facing a breach of contract suit.
The Cliff Richard-starring 13 film The Young Ones premieres at London’s Warner Theatre.
WORLD OF TWIST
18 Vinyl buff, listening to rare wax, at home in his drawers? Get outta here! Respect to Ernie Klack in his knitted boxers, though.
Roaring Brian: early Beach Boys live, with Murry Wilson (back left); (inset) the first 45.
Baltimore DJ Buddy Deane says The Twist’s revival is attracting a new audience: “Adults or, at best, ultra-conservative teenagers virtually untapped previously as potential customers for pop records.”
Please antipodes me: Frank, Nancy and Sammy.
SINATRA GOES TO OZ
Reprise Records DECEMBER 8 release their ﬁrst singles in Australia, namely Frank Sinatra’s I’ll Be Seeing You, Nancy Sinatra’s Cuff Links And A Tie Clip, plus Sammy Davis Jr’s There Is A Tavern In The Town. The ﬁrst Reprise album, due in a few days’ time, will be Frank Sinatra’s Sinatra Swings.
GOT TO KNOW JIMMY McCRACKLIN 6 JUST JUST OUT OF REACH (OF 7SOLOMON MY TWO OPEN ARMS) BURKE ART TONE
IN THE RAIN DINAH WASHINGTON 8 SEPTEMBER MERCURY
9 TOWE GENE IN T 10 DAR LITTLE JUNIOR PARKER
Hello, baby: The Crystals at Number 5.
S E K MA RFECT E AS P E TH ISTM CHR IFT! G
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TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE 19
A month before his death on October 23, Pete Burns gave his last press interview to Andrew Male. Here MOJO says goodbye to Dead Or Alive’s sui generis frontman.
oo-hoo, have you got the rough end of the stick!” That was the ﬁrst thing Pete Burns said to me when I phoned him on September 21 to talk about the forthcoming release of Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI, a 19-disc set, covering almost the entire recorded output of Dead Or Alive, the thigh-booted Mersey Hi-NRG platoon Burns fronted, in various forms, from 1980 onwards. It really should have been a chance for us to discuss a music career that was overtaken in 2006 by an admittedly astonishing performance on Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother, and a subsequent life measured out in breakfast TV appearances and shock tabloid headlines taking in ﬁnancial insolvency, his tempestuous marriage, and failed attempts to correct a series of bungled cosmetic procedures he underwent during the noughties. But Burns’ mood was low. “I’m not really in the mood to enthuse today,” he said. “I have down days and up days. I don’t go out. That’s partly because of my appearance but also because I’m a depression sufferer. I get very black moods where all I want to do is sleep and I’m cursed with chronic insomnia. I’m on sleeping pills at the moment but they’re not working. I grew up with a mother who was spectacular and always wanted me to be something special, but I inherited her depression and as I get older I get more melancholia. I realise that that’s what she left me with.” Things perked up when we talked about Sylvester’s ﬁrst appearance on Top Of The Pops, performing You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) in October 1978. “I saw him changing his gender on camera,” he said. “He’d put a fan across his face and he’d be a woman, then put a fan across his face and he’d be a man, and I just thought, Oh my God, that’s what I want to be.” Burns was born in Port Sunlight in Bebington, on August 5, 1959. His mother, Evelina Maria Bettina Quittner von Hudec, was a Jewish German aristocrat who ﬂed the Holocaust and married a British soldier, Francis Burns, in Vienna, then moved to England. “She was a ﬁsh out of water,” said Burns. “There was no neighbourhood for us to be in. Because she spoke only German and I spoke only German, we were viliﬁed as a Nazi family. There
(right) Pete Burns, Dead Or Alive days, “When the music press came to Liverpool to photograph the Bunnymen, they’d be more interested in photographing me.”; (below) “I made myself into what I wanted to be”; and with his mother Evelina, father Francis and exwife Lynne.
“I NEVER WANTED A NUMBER 1... EVERYTHING AFTER IS A DOWNWARD SPIRAL.”
Then came 1985’s Youthquake, produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, with its Number 1 hit, You Spin Me Round (Like A Record). Burns became a Smash Hits pop pin-up overnight. “I never wanted a Number 1,” Burns told me. “It changes your life beyond compare, and everything after is a downward spiral. You’ve no idea what were swastikas sprayed on our door.” it was like in the ’80s. I couldn’t even go The young Peter Jozeppi Burns to the supermarket without paparazzi rarely left the house, living in a fantasy photographing what was in my bag. world where he dressed as a Native Then my mother died and I had a American Indian and lived in a teepee complete nervous breakdown. No in the living room. Expelled from school can prepare you for that.” school for his red hair and shaved After the band’s chief songwriters eyebrows (in homage to Bowie), Burns stayed at home to look after his mother. Tim Lever and Mike Percy left acrimoniously in 1989, Dead Or Alive “She found out what had happened to continued to release records, mostly her father in the camps and had a outside the UK. “With each album it’s complete nervous breakdown, and became an alcoholic and pill-head,” he like having a child,” he said. “Unluckily many of my children have run way said. “So I nursed her through that.” from home or been aborted.” After One safe space was Liverpool’s 2000’s Fragile, DOA’s output was Best Probe Records, where Burns worked Ofs, as Burns moved into reality TV, from the late ’70s to the early ’80s, and an ongoing project to transform scaring the customers with his black his appearance via plastic surgery. contact lenses, and sneering at their “I still don’t know how to promote record purchases from behind his myself on chat shows,” he said. “My leopard-skin patterned cash-till. self-transformation via the surgeon’s “I had a clothes shop in the back knife was a totally separate element and I was quite happy,” said Burns. from self-promotion. I made myself “Then fame was thrust upon me. Roger Eagle, who ran Eric’s, said, ‘If you into what I wanted to be. From the earliest days, I didn’t recognise the don’t form a band I’m not going to let face in the mirror, so through trial and you into the club any more.’ So I had to error I transformed myself into very quickly form a band with Pete somebody I recognised, whose skin Wylie and Julian Cope, The Mystery I’m comfortable to live in.” Girls. We did two gigs. Then when the Talk turned to his friendships with music press started to come up to his ex-wife, Lynne, and ex-husband, Liverpool to photograph the Michael Simpson, both of whom he Bunnymen, they’d be more interested remained close to. We eventually got in photographing me.” back to music, including his work with Out of that came Burns’ ﬁrst band, the Pet Shop Boys on the 2004 track the DIY goth agitations of Nightmares Jack And Jill Party (“I’ve never enjoyed In Wax, and an early incarnation of working with two people in my life Dead Or Alive. “We were completely isolated from the Liverpool scene,” he more”), an unsuccessful reunion with recalled. “The Bunnymen Pete Waterman three would say things like, ‘If you years ago (“It lasted do an interview with Pete three days”) and the Burns you can’t do an new box set. interview with us.’ It was like “It’s like an epitaph, being at school.” isn’t it,” he said. “A bit Escape came with Dead ﬁnal, like there’s not Or Alive’s ﬁrst album, 1984’s going to be anything else. Sophisticated Boom Boom, There will be something THE LEGACY which achieved Burns’ else, but every time I have Track:YouSpin Me Round Sylvester-inspired dream of to commit something to (LikeARecord) (Epic, 1984) d A Number 1 in March ’85 tape, this fear comes. I – the ﬁrst such placing compare it to the success for the stack ’em high of Spin Me, thinking, Well Stock Aitken Waterman it’s not going to reach pop-production hydra – this throbbing chunk that kind of success, is it? of super-catchy, So I just bin it off.” f pumping Hi-NRG was Andrew Male Burns’s band Dead Or Alive’s ﬁnest moment. See also the promo video, for his strange mix of ﬂamboyant diva and intimidating hardnut.
THE BLUES BROTHER Phil Chess, who named and co-founded the famous Chicago label with his late sibling Leonard, left us on October 19.
ostwar opportunity transformed the US record business, a club with a handful of members, into a hubbub of entrepreneurism, a marketplace largely run by new Americans from the Old World. Scores of regional independent labels were created in the late ’40s. Most of them are remembered now only by historians and record collectors,, but a few, lucky to be in the right place at the right time, live on in the public memory of 20th-century music, and none more vividly than Chess Records. Phil Chess and his older brother Leonard – then Fiszel and Lejzor Czyz – arrived in the US from Poland in 1928 to join their father Jake in Chicago, and grew up in the Jewish enclave of South Karlov Avenue. Phil went to Western Kentucky University on a football scholarship, served in the army and
him to running a nightclub, the Macomba Lounge. Booking artists for the club led the brothers into the record business. In 1947 they bought a share of a small indie label, Aristocrat, and in 1948 scored their ﬁrst local hit with raw downhome blues, Muddy Waters’ I Can’t Be Satisﬁed/I Feel Like Going Home. In 1950 they acquired Aristocrat, changed its name to Chess and raised the curtain on a blues show that would run for years. Along with Muddy they signed Howlin’ Wolf,, Chuck Berry, y, Bo Diddley, y, The Moonglows, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Boyd and dozens more. By the early ’60s the Chess roster was a litany memorised by R&B devotees all over the world, and the core repertoire of British blues bands was mostly songs from the Chess catalogue. The received narrative of the label’s history has Leonard in the studio, the creative one, and Phil working in the ofﬁce. “He was always the younger
Chicago studio with Etta James in 1960, at the height of the label’s success.
“WHEN THE BAND WAS COOKING AND YOU GOT THAT GROOVE, BOY, THAT WAS IT.”
Album: Chess Pieces: The Very Best of Chess (Chess, 2005) The Sound: It puts the story together – Muddy and Wolf, Chuck and Bo, Etta James, Fontella Bass, Little Milton, Ramsey Lewis – through two amazing decades of cutting-edge American urban black music.
who interviewed Phil in 1970 for his book Feel Like Going Home, “and he seems to accept the role naturally.” In the lightly ﬁctionalised Chess biopic, Cadillac Records (2008), Phil disappears from the story altogether. In fact, the brothers shared the work from the start, from distribution to A&R and recording. “When we recorded Muddy and the band was cooking,” Phil reminisced, “and you got that groove, boy, that was it. Right awayy you y knew you y had something.” g In 1963, to help promote their list, now expanded with jazz artists like Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jamal, they acquired a Chicago radio station and renamed it WVON. But the later ’60s were unfriendly to their business, and in 1969 they sold both the company and the station. Leonard died that year; Phil ran WVON for three more years, then retired to Arizona, where he died in October aged 95. Tony Russell
Full of bounce: Bobby Vee in his early ’60s pop idol pomp.
RUBBER BALL MAN BORN 1943 When Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa in February 1959, the 15-year-old Robert Thomas Velline and his band The Shadows were one of the groups chosen to replace the fallen rockers at the next date of their scheduled tour, in Minnesota. Such was the poignant beginning of Bobby Vee’s career. Born in Fargo, North Dakota, he would go on to enjoy huge successes as a clean-cut pop idol in the days before the British Invasion, scoring his ﬁrst US hit with Devil Or Angel in 1960, and ﬁnding international acclaim soon after with the perky Rubber Ball. Take Good Of My Baby, Run To Him and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes carried on his winning streak, and he recorded regularly until 1970 with varying degrees of success – Come Back When You Grow Up reached Number 3 in 1967 – remaining a popular live draw until Alzheimer’s disease forced him to give up performing in 2011. He was in the audience in Minnesota in 2013 when Bob Dylan, who’d played piano in his band in 1959, called him “the most meaningful person I’ve ever been on the stage with”, before covering Vee’s 1959 debut Suzie Baby. Ian Harrison
THEY ALSOSERVED Dolly Parton’s 1967 debut. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.
BELFAST singer-songwriter BAP KENNEDY (b.1962, pictured above) released four LPs with Energy Orchard before going solo. His 1998 debut Domestic Blues was produced by Steve Earle, and over eight more albums he would work with Van Morrison, Mark Knopﬂer and Shane MacGowan. When diagnosed with cancer in May he began to write a frank and courageous online diary in which he revealed that his Asperger’s Syndrome was “the engine of my creativity”. His last album, Reckless Heart,t was released on November 18. SONGWRITER CURLY PUTMAN (b.1930) wrote and co-wrote a brace of classic, emotion-plumbing country hits, including D-I-V-O-R-C-E for Tammy Wynette in 1968 and He Stopped Loving Her Today for George Jones in 1980, both written with Bobby Braddock. His solo compositions included Green, Green Grass Of Home, turned into an international hit by Tom Jones in 1966, and Dumb Blonde, a track on
SYNTHESIZER PIONEER DON BUCHLA (b.1937) founded the electronic instrument company Buchla & Associates in Berkeley, California in 1963, and would go on to provide modular synthesizer units for Morton Subotnick, Buffy Sainte Marie and Silver Apples. He helped design the Grateful Dead’s soundsystem and played in The Electric Weasel Ensemble. TV HOST, DJ and actor JOHN ZACHERLE (b.1918), aka Zacherley, aka The Cool Ghoul, was the comedic undertaker whose mid-’60s New Jersey TV show Disc-O-Teen featured performances from groups including The Box Tops, The Doors and The Lovin’ Spoonful. Earlier he’d presented the Shock Theatre TV show in Pennsylvania, and had a Top 10 US hit in 1958 with Dinner With Drac, as well as making four horror-novelty albums. Lux Interior and the Grateful Dead were particular admirers. ACID HOUSE instigator EARL ‘SPANKY’ SMITH (b.c.1965) co-founded Chicago group Phuture with DJ Pierre and Herb J in 1985. The group changed the face of electronic dance music when they misused the Roland 303 bassline generator to record the seminal,
cerebrally squelching Acid Tracks in 1986. Smith continued to release music as Phuture after the departure of Pierre in 1990, but the duo reactivated for live shows and recording in 2014. CHICAGO RADIO DJ legend HERB KENT (b.1928) aka The Cool Gent made his ﬁrst broadcasts in 1944, and was a debonair Windy City ﬁxture from then on. His tenures at various stations involved playing classical music, soul and R&B and, while at WVON, appealing for calm after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In the early ’80s he presented the new wave show Stay Up And Punk Out, later cited as an inﬂuence by the burgeoning Chicago House scene. In 2009 he published his memoir The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives Of Radio Legend Herb Kent. He died on October 22, hours after broadcasting his Wake-Up Club show on V103. FIDDLER ANGUS R GRANT (b.1967) was the charismatic frontman of ‘acid croft’ band Shooglenifty. A pivotal ﬁgure in the rejuvenation of Scottish traditional music ever since his Two Fifty To Vigo propelled the band’s 1994 debut Venus In Tweeds to the forefront of folk and roots circles, Grant’s mesmeric playing wove Gaelic tunes learned from his father himself a renowned Highland ﬁddler into ambient and techno styles.
ELECTRONIC COMPOSER JEANJACQUES PERRY (b.1929) was an early adopter of the Ondioline keyboard after meeting its inventor Georges Jenny in Paris. After a move to New York he began his wildly inventive work with Moog and tape splicing, and made two space-age mid-’6 Gershon Kingsley recorded solo E 1970 LP Moog Ind sampled by Gang Fatboy Slim. Havi to France, in the ’9 resumed musical with Dana Count and Luke Vibert. SINGER JOAN M JOHNSON (b.1 pictured right) wa third of New Orle girl group The Dixie Cups, alongside her cousins Rosa Lee and Barbara An Hawkins. The ﬁrs signings to Leibe and Stoller’s Red Bird label, they ha in June 1964 with blissful Chapel Of Follow-ups includ People Say and Ik
2 LPs ON 1CD
MOANIN’ THE BLUES + I SAW THE LIGHT + 6 BONUS TRACKS This essential edition presents
the long unavailable masterpiece Moanin’ the Blues, and the equally wonderful I Saw the Light, which included the album’s iconic title track. These LPs contain some of Hank Williams’ greatest studio recordings from the peak of his career, as well as lesser-known numbers that are just as enjoyable as the classics. Both sensational albums have been remastered and packaged together in this collector’s edition, which also includes 6 bonus tracks. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 30 TRACKS. T.T.: 77:28’
MAMIE VAN DOREN
OOH BA LA BABY – HER EXCITING ROCK N ROLL RECORDINGS 1956-1959 This collector’s edition presents 19 tracks by Mamie Van Doren, consisting of some of the fabulous and underrated recordings she made during the mid- and late 1950s. All of these songs are true snapshots from the early days of rock & roll. Some of the material here isn’t available on other collectio ns, nor have these recordings ever been previously compiled together on one CD. 16-PAGE BOOKLET
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
THAT’S HOW HEARTACHES ARE MADE – 1958-1962 RECORDINGS
This special release includes 30 studio tracks, consisting of a selection of the sensational recordings Washington made between 1958 and 1962. Twelve of these splendid songs would conform Washington’s debut LP, the iconic That’s How Heartaches are Made, originally issued by Sue Records. All of these great songs have been remastered in this collector’s edition, which gives ample proof of Baby Washington’s versatility as well as her rightful place in the R&B and early soul pantheon. 16-PAGE BOOKLET - 30 TRACKS – T.T.:73:35’
DRIFTING BLUES +N
15 BONUS TRACKS “Known as the Fath er of the Delta Blue s, Patton was revered by Soul Jam Records is proud to present Charles Brown’s underrated album, Drifting Blue s. This lost gem was originally issu ed as a 12” LPin 195 7 by subsidiary label Sco re, and long unavaila the Aladdin ble on any format. In addition to the original masterpiece , this remastered collector’s edition contains 15 bonus tracks, consisting hard-to-find sides of issued by different labels. 16-PAGE BOOK LET – 27 TRAC KS – 73:35’
RARE PHOTOS, VINTAGE MEMORABILIA, DETAILED LINER NOTES AND MORE. FOR MORE INFORMATION:
BUDDY & ELLA JOHNSON RECORDINGS
ROCK ON! THE 1956-1962 contains 28 remastered This quintessential collector’s edition of the sensational studio tracks, consisting of a variety Mercury and the recordings the Johnsons made for the “Buddy Johnson’s Roulette labels between 1956 and 1962. jump helped him and blues pop, B, & R of astute mixture the ‘s50s with a transition his band into and throughout rock & roll.” The sound that came close at times to original Cash Box Magazine. S. T.T.: 69:22 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 28 TRACK
2 LPs ON 1
T-BONE BLUES + SINGS THE BLUES + 5 BONUS TRACKS This quintessential release includes two of Walker’s finest albums: T-Bone Blues and Sings the Blues, remastered and packaged together in this collector’s edition, which also includes 5 bonus tracks from the same period. ”It was T-Bone Walker who really started me to want to play the blues. I can still hear T-Bone in my mind today, from that first record I heard ‘Stormy Monday’.” B.B. King. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 28 TRACKS. T.T.: 79:52
ROY BUCHANAN AFTER HOURS
The set contains three different sessions recorded by the blues giant in 1928. The first date was captured in Memphis, and the other two in New York City. OKeh Records subsequently issued them all as 78rpm sides. In addition, this essential collector’s CD contains 6 bonus tracks, consisting of lesser-known numbers which were taped years later. If it wasn’t by Mississippi John Hurt, I would not be making music at all.” Ben Harper. “The Blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman on your mind”. Mississippi John Hurt. 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 19 TRACKS. T.T.: 58:58
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BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON
DARK WAS THE NIGHT 1927-1930 Dallas, Atlanta, and New Orleans Recordings regarded as Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is of one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists in the history the the idiom. Johnson made a number of recordings before remastered newly This Depression carried him into obscurity. CD release contains 24 Blind Willie Johnson songs, recorded by Columbia Records between 1927 and 1930, and released as 78-rpm singles. “Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground is the most transcendent piece in all American Music.” Ry Cooder 16-PAGE BOOKLET / 24 TRACKS. T.T.: 75:45
THE MOJO INTERVIEW
Smack k with Thunders, hugs with Dylan, robbery, assault and Rotten: it’s been emotional for the Sex Pistols’ sonic sparkplug. “I was always told I was a piece of shit,” explains Steve Jones. Interview by BOB MEHR t Portrait by DAVIS FACTOR
charity concert staged by Dave Grohl, before ceding the stage to a mix of rock and other celebs: V Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar, The Police’s Stewart Copeland, Microsoft f billionaire-rocker Paul Allen… “It was bizarre,” notes Jones, “but it was a good hang.” Before he could get to the concert, however, Jones found himself the subject of unwanted attention, walking from his Benedict Canyon gaff to pick up his motorcycle at a shop in West he’s helmed since 2004. Hollywood: “Outta nowhere this bloke comes up and starts hitting At 61, the Sex Pistols’ guitarist and founder cuts an expansive on me! Points to me helmet and says, ‘Hey, where’s the rest of ﬁgure in dark shades and ﬂowing lavender shirt (with monothat?’ It was a good opening line…” grammed “SJ” S cuffs). The Shepherd’s Bush boy has been an LA Jones declined the fellow’s advances, but concedes a case of the resident for more than 35 years; he’s also decades sober, an ardent biter bit, recalling “all the times I come onto some chick too strong member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a keen practitioner of and they’re not interested. Now I know how they felt.” Transcendental Meditation… “I’ve done therapy for years, done a T That natural sense of storytelling is what threads his new lot of stuff,” f he says. “I’m always up for tryin’ to better meself.” memoir, Lonely Boy: T Tales From A Sex Pistol, a hilarious and at It’s also been a long time since Jones last times harrowing read – written with MOJ OO stole anything (notoriouslyy he’ll admit to contributor Ben Thompson – that restores WE’RE NOTWORTHY lifting Bowie’s backline from the HammerJones to the centre of the Pistols story, while The Cult’s Billy Duffyy on smith Odeon Ziggy ﬁnale, just one of a spree addressing his post-punk wilderness years, the of thefts f that equipped the Pistols in their various addictions (theft, heroin, sex) that led keeping up with Jonesy. mid-’70s infancy), but some vices remain. The him there, and exploring the childhood abuses “Steve’s gift was that he cut Sunday morning following his Friday broadaway the unnecessary that left him scarred but determined to make frippery in rock; he distilled cast, MOJ O O ﬁnds him groggily tucking into a his mark on the world. it to the essence. He’s also plate of bacon and eggs at a trendy West “Not bad for someone who couldn’t the least pretentious guy I Hollywood café. fucking read for most me life,” says Jones with know: very honest, though he hates confrontation. “Had a late night,” he says, explaining that a twinkle. “I still don’t read many books – was Mind you, he did propagate the lie that a he’d sung a couple of Pistols tunes at a private a nightmare reading mine just to make Fender Twin sounds good for rock. I still
‘‘Y Getty Images
OU’RE LISTENING… TO JONESY’S Jukebox… on K-L-O-S.” It’s just past noon on a Friday and Steve Jones is where you’ll ﬁnd him ﬁve days a week: behind the microphone on Los Angeles’ iconic classic rock station, hosting the popular free-form music and chat show
think he had a Marshall hidden inside his.”
forever… fuckin’ hell! Anyway, wot you wanna know?” You never knew your birth father, Don Jarvis, growing up, but you managed to connect with him recently – did he know who you’d become? I don’t think he knew about me at all. When he was watching Bill Grundy he probably had no idea that it was his kid (laughs). In 2008, my friend Laurie encouraged me to track him down. I’m glad she did. When I ﬁrst spoke to him on the phone it was like hearing myself, it was eerie. He kinda looked like me, too. He was an amateur boxer then he became a lorry driver. He actually used to be a teddy boy, he liked that ’50s music. But I think I get the musical side from me mum. My mum has the rhythm. You had a pretty bleak childhood – was music in your early life? No music in my house. No music at all. No visitors. Very weird. Closest was the guy next door. He was a bit older and he had a little record player and the single of Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze. That caught my ear for sure. I’d come over and be in the bedroom with him and his bird. Didn’t really know him but I just kept saying, “Play it again.” Was it really the thieving that set you on the path to music? When I started nicking all the gear, at 15, 16, that was the start. But I never dreamt that would happen to me, being a musician. I thought musicians fell out of the sky, it ain’t something just anyone could do. And I was always told I was a piece of shit. I didn’t have that thing like most kids where they say “I wanna do that, learn an instrument and start a band.” The thing that was pushing me was different. The main revelation in Lonely Boy is that
you were molested by your stepfather around the age of 10. Was that a hard thing to decide to include? I think it was important to let you know where I came from and what pushed me to start the Pistols. That had a lot to do with it – that shitty upbringing deﬁnitely steered the way. If I’d had really good parents, if I would’ve lived with my nan forever, would I have had that motivation? I think music’s in my blood, I still woulda been into music. But guys get angry when they get fucked with. I s add that ain’t a requirement to start a b You began with the pre-Pistols band The Swankers. You were the frontman. I was singing, Wally Nightingale was on guitar, [bassist] Glen Matlock was involved, and Cookie [Paul Cook] was on drums. That line-up was short lived but there was actually one gig we did at Salter’s Café on King’s Road. We did about four or ﬁve songs, Did You No Wrong was one of them. This song, Scarface, that I vaguely remember as something we’d written together was another. I was terriﬁed. I was not singer material, not frontman material. It was awful. After that I kinda knew, there’s no way I can do this. Malcolm McLaren came down a few times and then came the fatal day where he says, “Wally’s gotta go and you gotta get a singer” – and I got pushed over to guitar. You talk about how your undiagnosed ADD made it impossible to learn in school. But with the aid of some speed – diet pills, speciﬁcally – you managed to hunker down and teach yourself guitar. I was totally self-medicating. I was doctor and patient. Would stay up literally hours, trying to ﬁgure it out on me own. Wally had showed me a couple chords on a stolen guitar that I gave him – it was a sunburst Les Paul, I remember. But my education came from the ﬁrst Dolls album and all the Stooges albums, Raw Powerr especially.
A LIFE IN PICTURES
But the Pistols were thinking of adding another guitarist early on, right? We auditioned for another guitar player, ’cos Cookie didn’t think I could cut it (laughs). We put out an ad and it’s amazing how many clowns showed up. There was this one guy named Fabian Quest – that was the name he gave himself. The name was great, but he turned up with all these effects pedals and he couldn’t play a fucking note. He was worse than me! Despite your diet-pill guitar camp, very few of the Pistols’ tunes have that speed-fuelled punk tempo. That was mainly because me and Cookie and Glen were fans of the Faces. That was more our blueprint, as far as a start with tempos and riffs. You couldn’t be that melodic with [Johnny] Rotten. We didn’t have that Rod Stewart character. But, musically, it was more the Faces than The Stooges or Dolls. Was there a speciﬁc moment where the Pistols clicked? When Anarchy In The UK came into the fold. We had the riff and Rotten was in the corner writing words and McLaren started grooving on it. It felt like we were onto something then. When you think about it, with Rotten’s voice, no one really sounded like that, it was an accident. And I was an accident. ’Cos I couldn’t really play. In a way, that was the Pistols sound. We was just ﬁguring it out. But we ﬁgured it out at a quick pace. That was the best time, pre-fame. I’m sure most bands say that. I didn’t know if it was gonna be a success or what. It was just fun. It all seemed like it was meant to be. None of this shit was worked out. I’m sure McLaren had his agenda, but he didn’t know what was gonna happen… like with the Grundy thing. Was the Grundy incident inevitable – after all, you’re backstage drinking and…
Courtesy of Steve Jones(2), Ray Stevenson, Mirrorpix, Retna/Photoshot, Getty Images, Rex, Robert Matheu, John Tiberi
Steve Jones: shots of an unarmed Pistol.
young Steve Jones, looking for the football pitch, near Riverside Gardens. Princes of punk: with Johnny Rotten at the height of Sex Pistols fame. “If he was a bit cooler it would have been easier to carry on.” Snakes alive!: Jones with Gaye Advert. “I’m a lot more accepting of women than I used to be.”
A fair copper: in Whitehall, London SW1, ’76. “I’ve always been a comedian at heart,” says Steve.
Radio hams: with Dave Grohl, a Jonesy’s Jukebox radio show guest the day Bowie died, January 2016. The sinking feeling: SJ in a bidet. “It’s probably me looking for attention – I’m all for having a bit of fun.”
Paid off: the Pistols, March 13, 1977 (from left) Paul Cook, Jones with A&M cheque for £75,000, Sid Vicious, JR, Malcolm McLaren.
Reunited: Pistols ’96, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, with bassist Glen Matlock (far left). “If we was getting Rolling Stones money we’d put up with each other.”
Have Mercy: Jones at Joshua Tree, March 31, 1987, the year his solo debut came out.
think if there was some kinda set-up there. I don’t know if some producer thought, “Let’s put some bottles in there and get them drunk, it’ll make for good telly.” I don’t know if that was an agenda. And why the ﬁlter button wasn’t on either. Honestly, when I called him [a “fucking rotter“] I forgot I was on TV for a second. Thought I was in a pub or something and he was being an arsehole. It’s all down to the Blue Nun (laughs). After that you became tabloid fodder. There’s pictures of you reading the newspaper with all the “The Filth And The Fury” headlines. But the truth was you couldn’t read. I weren’t completely illiterate. But I wasn’t good. I was a bit thick at that point. ADD and thick. I don’t think anyone cared or knew. Rotten probably knew. He was a smart guy for his age, very smart, looking back. It wasn’t until I’d been sober about 10 years [in the mid ’90s] that I learned to read properly. I got this bird to come to my house a couple times a week to teach me how to read and write. Did that for about a year.
looked great. It was, “Whoa, who’s this fuckin’ guy?” And then Sid came in and as far as visuals, you couldn’t beat that. I resented taking second ﬁddle when Sid joined – third ﬁddle, really. So I guess there was an underlying resentment. Well, that and people saying the then-busy UK session guitarist Chris Spedding had played all your parts… Oh yeah. Still get a few fuckers thinking he played for me.
Which is basically what you did after the last gig at Winterland – you went to Brazil. I always run when I get uncomfortable. That’s what I did with the Pistols. After the last show, I split and Cookie followed. In hindsight, was that a good idea? Sometimes I regret doing that, and not sticking in there with Rotten. But the Sid thing was awful. Despite the recriminations and legal proceedings against Malcolm McLaren that would follow after the Pistols split, you’re very generous towards him in the book. For sure. He was very important to me taking this direction. Whether he fucked us over or didn’t look after the money, or didn’t care about the money, that’s irrelevant. I don’t think he was deliberately taking our money and keeping it for himself. He put a lot of it into [The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle movie]. I just didn’t have that resentment towards him that Rotten had. We always connected, me and McLaren.
“I had the wrong hair. I couldn’t lead a punk band with that hair… too hairdresser-like.”
There’s a point in your book where you say of the Pistols, “It was my band.” Yeah, Rotten ain’t gonna like that. But the band started before him and I was the one pushing it. Cookie woulda left if I hadn’t kept nagging him to hang in there. Do you feel like you should’ve taken more ownership of the group at the time? Why didn’t you? It was my hair. I had the wrong hair. I couldn’t lead a punk band with that hair (laughs). It’s thinned out a little bit now – but back then it was too poncey, too hairdresser-like. That was the way I looked at it, honestly. Rotten, he
The Sex Pistols’ tour of America in 1978: did you fear something bad would happen to the band? It was kinda scary. Not to the point where I thought I was gonna get shot or die. But the gigs with all the bottle throwing and cans and all the rest of it was rough. We had shit thrown at us in the early days – when we’d go up to the north of England people would sling the odd bottle at ya. But America was a weird place, it was a whole other world. I think maybe if the tour was organised a bit better, if we had a guitar tech or whatever normal bands do… it deﬁnitely was not catered to us. Then all this media kept following us everywhere. It was horrible. I thought, “Oh God – is this it?” That added to me wanting to get out.
Your post-Pistols band The Professionals coincided with your increasing use of heroin. That period was horrible for me. I didn’t give a shit about the music, I just wanted to get high. All I cared about was not feeling anything. I think it was my shit from growing up. That was it. I couldn’t deal with reality. When did you ﬁrst do it? I was with McLaren on my 21st birthday in Paris. One of his buddies gave me some smack and I snorted it. That was the ﬁrst time. Then when Johnny Thunders And The Heartbreakers came to London. [Heartbreakers manager] Leee Childers had some ﬂat in Wardour Street and I remember being there snorting some in the bathroom with him.
“Rotten always ha on. He can’t l t i ard do n ith anybody.” ¢
When did you know you had a real problem? I’d moved to north London, into a ﬂat I bought for £14,000. We were starting to do the Swindle. I showed up once on set and I didn’t have any smack with me and I started feeling like shit. I remembered I had a little bit left in a drawer at home. So I went running back home, snorted it and thought “Oh no, I’m in trouble. I’m really in trouble here.” I snorted it and smoked it for about a year before I shot it up – then I did that for another six years. But I’m not really a junkie. There are some guys who are just born to be fucking junkies. I don’t think I’m that guy. But it was a perfect escape for me.
There were a lot of low points that followed – what was the lowest? I ended up in New York with this girl. She was staying with a photographer that took rock pictures, like promo pictures of bands. He moved out, and there was a bunch of 8-by-10s of groups like Heart and we’d literally take them, put them on the street, on the sidewalk trying to sell them. That was demoralising. Punk was totally over and no one cared about me. Especially in England, with that whole Blitz and New Romantic stuff. Here I was just a scruff looking for a ﬁx. And how did you get back into the game, so to speak? I moved to LA, eventually got sober and started
writing songs again. I started writing with Iggy Pop and [Duran Duran’s] Andy Taylor and things started getting back on track. Got a management deal and a record deal. I guess that’s when the darkness lifted. Do you look back with any fondness on your two solo albums [1987’s] Mercy and [1989’s] Fire And Gasoline? More so with Mercy, that was all right. Fire And Gasoline was embarrassing, me trying to be like the hard rock guy. That was purely to get laid. I’d gotten sober and all my attention went to pussy. The addict in me was still active, he just stopped doing drugs and alcohol. So I grew the hair out, started working out, got a tan – the Fabio phase.
ship with a woman. I just don’t think she wanted a kid. During ‘the Fabio phase’, you struck up an unlikely friendship with Bob Dylan, playing on his 1988 album Down In The Groove. He seemed to take a shine to you. I think he liked the rebelliousness of the Pistols. I did the one session with him and I’ve never recorded like that. We just jammed and Bob kept throwing different songs at us. “Let’s try this one.” And we’d just kinda play along. We run through about 10 songs like that. And then he said, “OK” – and that was it, no overdubs. Not one of his biggest albums, but it was great. After I did the thing at the studio, I saw him at a party, he come running over to me, give me a big fucking hug. Big hugs all around. I was with a guy and he was like, (bewildered) “What the fucking hell?” He couldn’t believe it. And I kinda went like, “OK, Bob, easy.” (laughs) The Pistols reunion in ’96 and the subsequent tours were fraught affairs behind the scenes. Your relationship with John appears to be non-existent...
Guitar aggro from the Sex Pistols and beyond. By Phil Alexander. THE CLASSIC LP!
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (VIRGIN, 1977)
If Johnny Rotten’s vocal snarl remains an inimitable expression of personal rage, then the sound of Jones’s overdriven Les Paul is a source of universal inspiration. Drawing on Mott The Hoople’s punctuating powerchords, the guitarist’s layering adds a chromed edge, his oft-overlooked subtlety evident on opener Submission – its Morse code undertow adding to the track’s urgency.
THE ‘LOST’ LP!
I Didn’t See It Coming (VIRGIN, 1981)
#### That was another part of getting sober; the vanity kicked in.
A lot of Lonely Boy deals with your relationships with women… I’m deﬁnitely a lot more accepting of women now than I used to be. I didn’t give a fuck about women in the Fabio phase. I deﬁnitely look at women now as human beings and not as objects and try and treat them with respect. That took a lot of work for me to get there. Because of that way of being brought up, it’s made me unable to have a relationship with a woman, like a real commitment. So I don’t even try now. Why is that? I don’t think I’ve really healed with my mum. I choose not to talk to her any more, since 2008. I was trying to make it work for a while, but it was too painful. I think I still got stuff to deal with her, make amends, whatever it is. I think it’s my relationship with her that makes it impossible for me to have a relation-
Formed in ’79 by Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Jones, The Professionals found themselves beset by internal strife, legal turmoil and Jonesy’s ongoing drug problems. The latter ﬁnally contributed to the band’s demise, but I Didn’t See It Coming is a valiant collection of post-Pistols anthems that hints at what might have been.
THE SOLO LP!
Fire And Gasoline (MCA, 1989)
Having joined LA’s Harleyriding hard rock circus, Jones cut his second solo album with The Cult’s Ian Astbury co-producing. Members of Mötley Crüe and Rose Tattoo contributed to the writing, while Axl Rose added his signature screech to Pistols nugget I Did U No Wrong. A product of what Jones refers to as the ‘Fabio’ years; his guitar playing remains decidedly muscular throughout.
I wish behind closed doors we could be real with one another. That never really happened. And I don’t want to say this in a disrespectful way, but I’ve never met anyone with such low self-esteem. He always has to be on. He can’t let his guard down with anybody. That’s how I see it. That was a big part of why I didn’t want to be around him. It was too uncomfortable. I’m sure I pushed his buttons in whatever ways. And I’m sure he always thinks me and Cookie are against him, that victim role thing. But I think if he was a bit cooler, it would’ve been a lot easier to carry on. He’s happy when he does his PiL. I’m glad for whatever makes him happy. I don’t wish any ill on him at all. But I’m happy when I ain’t around the Pistols. If we was getting Rolling Stones money we’d put up with each other… Was there ever any point where you seriously thought of making a follow-up to Never Mind The Bollocks? Maybe we did when we was rehearsing around 2003. We did a little tour across America and we were coming up with new riffs. But in the end, it wasn’t happening. Wasn’t meant to be. We did do a recording for [video game] Guitar Hero where we did a different version of Anarchy. We cut it all again from scratch – me, Cookie and John. We were all in the studio together. That was an attempt to hang out. I dunno – we got to take responsibility too, me and Cookie, for why it doesn’t work. It literally is like an ex-wife… you don’t want to hang out after you’re divorced, do ya? Beyond the Pistols, you’ve found another calling with the Jonesy’s Jukebox radio show, which you’ve been doing on and off for a decade. Now you’re on the air daily on a big classic rock station. Yeah, but I don’t think it’s a mainstream thing. I don’t want to be mainstream. It’s for music lovers, who like hearing songs they never hear on the radio. They get excited about it, like I would be if I was driving around and there was a bloke like me playing Roxy Music or whatever. And then there’s the interviews and me farting and burping in between songs – I would love that, I would love to be driving around listening to some guy doing that. But I don’t think I’m going to be Ryan Seacrest any time soon. Who’ve been your best and worst guests? Jerry Lee Lewis was rough. And the guy from The Animals, Eric Burdon, he was another one. He was not having it, it was miserable. Not giving me nothing. Alan Parsons, recently, was bad. He didn’t like punk. Had to force it out of him to say that. He’s a classic upper-class public schoolboy snob. He probably looked at punks as like a lower breed. There have been a few good ’uns. Peter Wolf was great, I was a big J. Geils fan. He’s a real showman. The show with Dave Grohl was something else. It was in January and he come on to talk about Lemmy, who’d just died. Then an hour into it Bowie dies. It freaked me out. I never get fucked up over stuff like that but I went all cold through my body. So Lemmy is Grohl’s idol and Bowie is one of my idols, and we’re both just talking and grieving on the air. You’ve also become proliﬁc on Instagram, posting your performances of songs and weird comedy videos. Another addiction? Well, it’s probably me looking for attention, sad to say, at 61 years old. But I like making people laugh, putting a smile on people’s faces. There’s so much crap in the world, so much horrible shit. If I can spread a little light, and have a bit of fun I’m all for that. The stuff I do is like Benny Hill or the Carry On movies. I suppose I’ve always been a comedian at heart. M MOJO 51
Robbie Robertson, London, 1971; (insets opposite, from top), 1964â€™s The Squires/ Levon & The Hawks (from left) Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Robertson; in the â€™70s, Hudson, Manuel, Helm, Robertson, Danko.
In the Pink: Robertson and Helm at West Saugerties, New York near Woodstock; (opposite from top) electric flag-bearers with (from left) Robertson, Bob Dylan, Helm and Manuel, Forest Hills Tennis Club, 1965; Robbie and his parents, Toronto; Music From Big Pink.
Elliott Landy/Getty Images, Courtesy of Robbie Robertson, Courtesy of Bea Hunt of the West Side Tennis Club
ECKED OUT IN AN ALL-BLACK suit, Robbie Robertson exudes elegance and a well-read intelligence, – the latter all the more fascinating given his teenage education chickenpickin’ in honky-tonks where – in the words of his ﬁrst major employer Ronnie H ins – “You had to sho your razor and puke twice before they’d let you in the door.” We’re meeting at his small ofﬁce in a nondescript Los Angeles neighbourhood. Propped against a wall is the Martin W D-28 acoustic on which he wrote The Weight and in a corner the Fender T Twin Reverb amp that survived Woodstock and The Last W Waltz. “Talking-one-two, T talking-talking-talking,” R son says into MOJ O O’s tape recorder,r checking levels in a raspy baritone. The recorder is working and Robertson’s been too. He’s penned a new memoir called T Testimony (“penned” is literal – he wrote it longhand), its title a statement that the private songwriter-guitarist is going to open up. Robertson’s formative role in rock is unquestioned – from his beginnings as an adolescent proto-shredding T Telecaster master, through his crucial complicity in Bob Dylan’s rock reinvention and the unsurpassed rootsy originality of The Band. But others – notably Band drummer Levon Helm – have published their accounts o the era. Helm, in particular, was bitterly critical. Half-First Nations (ie. Indian), half-Jewish, Robertson grew up in T Toronto, Canada and, like many 1950s kids, his future was determined by a Christmas guitar and Be-Bop-ALula on the soda shop jukebox. On a trip north of the border, Arkansas rockabilly raver Ronnie Hawkins ﬁrst crossed paths with the 16-year-old when the kid was in opening act The Suedes and later hired him as bassist for his backing group The Hawks; Robertson’s rhythm section partner was another Arkansan, Levon Helm. In T Testimony, Robertson writes that Hawkins had big plans for the youngster from the start, taking him on a song-hunting mission to New York’s Brill Building. When Robbie asked why he wasn’t taking Levon, Hawkins said of Helm, “He ain’t a song person.” These ﬁve words would have implications later. “I was writing songs before I knew I was writing songs,” Robertson tells MOJO. “I was trying to ﬁgure out a guitar part on a song when I was quite young, and I got so frustrated with it. I thought, The hell with it – I’ll just make up a song. So I’d just write a song because it was a short cut. I wrote songs ’cos I had to. Ronnie says to me, ‘Levon’ll play it better than anybody,y but he isn’t really the kinda guy who goes out in search of songs and cares about it, he’s like, Let’s just play.’” y Hawkins was adopted as a T Toronto rocker in the early ’60s. The Hawks evolved into Robbie, Levon, bassist/singer Rick Danko, pianist/singer Richard Manuel and organist/saxophonist Garth Hudson. They’d become more than a band – they would be The Band. But ﬁrst they’d be the most notorious sidemen in rock’n’roll. Who Do You Love – the single Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks cut in 1963 with your hellﬁre solo – sounded like it came out of nowhere.
y y uthful irit – there’s no patience involved. henever it was time for me to blow nnie’s mind – to do something that ould make him just scream – I couldn’t ait. And so, that energy, that exciteent, that teeth-grinding screaming uitar was something that takes a rtain amount of youth. here’s that famous Dylan quote, alling you a “mathematical guitar enius”. What do you think he meant y “mathematical”? ’s having a structure [that’s] improvised nd at the same time you have a sense of ynamics – when to rise, when to fall, when to shimmer, when to growl. When The Hawks hooked up with Dylan, he found this explosive, dynamic thing. Because of his intensity, it raised everything up and we didn’t come down enough and people were saying this music is so loud we can’t hear the words. Part of that was he wanted that raging spirit on these songs. We got booed all over North America, Australia, Europe, and people were saying this isn’t working and we kept on and Bob didn’t budge. We got to a place where we would listen to these tapes and say, “You know what? They’re wrong. And we’re right.” Eight years later, we do a tour, the  Dylan/Band tour, we play the same way, same intensity and everybody says, “Wow, that was amazing.” The world came around – we didn’t change a note. There’s a line in your book, “This wasn’t the folk traditionalist Dylan; this was the emergence of a new species.” What did you learn from Bob in 1965 and ’66? The obvious thing we learned – that everybody learned – was there was a new way of songwriting. There was a much more colourful, descriptive, humorous, outrageous thrill ride of wordplay. We hadn’t seen this before – this was breaking some big rules. I remember saying to Bob one time, “Maybe there’s too many verses in this” (laughs), and he said, “There probably are, but that’s what I was thinking about when I wrote it.” His spirit was on ﬁre, and he was knocking down the boundaries that had been built up around music. It excited me to be part of this revolution. Levon didn’t like it at ﬁrst and left The Hawks for a while. Besides the booing, what didn’t he like? He didn’t like the music, he didn’t like the songs – at that time. He didn’t like the fame game that was going on with Dylan because it didn’t feel real to him. He wasn’t comfortable in New York City, he wasn’t comfortable around that many Jews. I write about this when he’s telling me he wants to leave and he says, “I don’t like this goddamn music, I don’t like Albert Grossman, and I don’t like being surrounded by all these goddamn…” And he stopped himself, but I knew where he was going and I thought, You don’t get it, or you don’t want to get it. MOJO 55
On fire: Bob Dylan, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson talk tactics during the cover shoot for The Basement Tapes, Los Angeles, 1975; (below) their classic second album.
In 1968, Music From Big Pink k was so different to anything else. It still is. Something happened in that basement. We weren’t playing to an audience, we were playing to one another, and we were in a circle. If you couldn’t hear somebody singing, it meant you were playing too loud. So we found a subtlety, it made you hold your breath – ahhh. Energy and power and excitement and violence had a lot to do with our music. Now, there was a different sensibility. And the songs that I was writing, if you played too hard, it was out of context. All of these things started to have a new kind of grace. Everybody else was getting louder and we’re going to this other place and there was a delicacy to it. Little things meant more than the obvious. All of these musicalities we heard – ﬁfe-and-drum blues, mountain music, Delta, Anglican choirs, rockabilly, Johnny Cash – the simplicity is exquisite. The Staple Singers when they sang gospel and it’s just the voices and Roebuck’s guitar… Curtis Mayﬁeld. And jazz – Charles Lloyd. All of this we’re gathering and all of it makes this new music. There’s also something spooky about it – otherworldly, impenetrable. It was cinematic. You not only could hear it, you could see it. It had a sound that we had never heard before. Voices were used in a way that we hadn’t heard before. Instruments were played with a delicacy that pulled at your heartstrings and it had this beautiful sadness to it. The more we got lost in that movie, Big Pink, the more comfortable it felt. 56 MOJO
On the second album, you write about things you couldn’t have known about – like turning 73. Of course, you’re now 73. Where did these songs come from? On The Band record, I wasn’t writing personal songs, I was telling stories. We’d be driving down a highway and I’d see a little house off in a ﬁeld, and I’d think there’s a light on there – what’s going on in that house? Some of it was reﬂective of periods in the South because I was 16 years old when I went from Canada to the Mississippi Delta and it made a huge impression on me, ’cos I thought, I’m going to the Holy Land, I’m going where this stuff grows out of the ground. It was like writing a movie script. One of the stories in the book is you and Levon attempting an armed robbery. In the world that we ran in,we knew so many people from dark places, criminals that were really good at it,thieves [who] took great pride in their gift. They were friends of ours,they came to where we played. Now this is big cities up north. In the South was a different kind of criminal.I tell the story about when Levon and I score some grass with this guy that’s got ﬁngers missing. He takes us out into the country and these two old guys are out there…
The gay pot dealers? Yeah, and the guy’s shooting heroin in his neck. They weren’t feminine. They were guys who had spent most of their life in prison – for them, it’s a different kind of gay. It’s like, I fuck whatever I can, whether it’s you or a tree. All of these characters [we met] – playing for Jack Ruby in his club with a one-armed go-go dancer and then a month later he kills Oswald. The circles we ran in made this idea of Levon and I doing this robbery not that far-fetched. We weren’t that different from these people. On both sides of the tracks, they like breaking the rules, they like getting away with stuff that’s naughty.
OBERTSON’S TESTIMONY ENDS WITH THE LAST Waltz in 1976 – the all-star show at San Francisco’s Winterland that was ﬁlmed by Martin Scorsese and turned into a deﬁnitive document of rock. But it wasn’t the end of The Band. After various solo projects, the group hit the road again in 1983, without Robertson, and recorded, notably 1993’s Jericho – a little gem. In 2016, three are too soon gone: Richard Manuel by his own hand in 1986, Rick Danko from heart failure in 1999 and Helm in 2012 from a return of the cancer he was thought to have beaten over a decade before. Robertson has released several solo albums, written children’s books and worked with Martin Scorsese on ﬁlm music, while Garth Hudson continues to compose and record. The Robertson-Helm bond had been one of The Band’s anchors. “They each shared a part of the other’s soul,” Helm’s ex, Libby TitusFagen, told Band biographer Barney Hoskyns. “One would start a sentence and the other would ﬁnish it. They had their own alphabet, their own clock, their own DNA, a Levon-Robbie double helix.” And yet many Band fans have taken sides, some blaming Robertson for
Photo by John Scheele ©2016, Richard E. Aaron/MPTV Images
OLLOWING THE DYLAN TOUR/ORDEAL OF 1966, The Hawks retreated to a basement in Woodstock, New York. Music From Big Pink and The Band of 1968 and ’69 followed – a one-two knockout punch. The ﬁrst ﬁltered American roots music through an ethereal dream state, the second was more literal – an American history lesson conjured by Robertson and Manuel’s songs and told through the eyes of ﬁctional participants. The records irrevocably changed the trajectory of rock. Meanwhile, the emotional content of Robertson’s songs – steeped in tradition, ﬁlled with boisterous sexuality, deﬁant pride and inconsolable regret – had precedence in his own life. His First Nations mother carried stories and rituals from before the white man’s conquering of North America, while his blood father’s brother was mobbed-up in murky, illegal rackets involving black market diamonds – with a prominent family in Toronto’s Cosa Nostra as partners. This led to Robertson’s close-call as a would-be mob bagman, delivering diamonds for his uncle. The deal was aborted, as was a later caper when he and Levon planned to knock over an illicit card game. Armed and masked, the two future Band-mates arrived at the scene of the proposed crime, only to ﬁnd the game had been cancelled. Robertson’s memoir reveals someone who was clearly more than a dilettante with a library card.
Big Pink comes out and The Beatles and Clapton come banging on your door. Did you realise you’d created something special? We realised that it was touching people in the way that we hoped, but at the same time we were suspicious of success. Most of the stuff we really liked, not a lot of people knew about it and that’s what was golden about it. So when we put out … Big Pink, on one hand you think, Isn’t it wonderful that people are embracing this, but at the same time we would never look at the charts. That’s where you go wrong, when you start thinking about this as a popularity contest. So sure enough, at a certain point we became successful and things changed and it hurt people personally. The more successful we got, the more self-destructive we got.
alleged transgressions in a relationship whose complexities they know nothing about. When the subject comes up now it’s clear he’s had enough. As he wrote in The Rumor from 1970’s Stage Fright album: “Maybe it’s a lie/Even if it’s a sin/They’ll repeat the rumor again.” The big controversy among Band fans is the deterioration of your friendship with Levon. You went to see Levon when he was dying: was there any talk or exchange? He wasn’t conscious, so all I could do was sit there and hold his hand and think about all of the amazing things that we had experienced together, and that he was still like the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real brother and that I loved him dearly. The negative thing between Levon and me happened 10 years after The Last Waltz. In all of the times that we were together, some of it’s loving and fabulous and some of it, [Levon’s] heroin [use], got in the way. Heroin will let you defy the truth and I did not understand that in our brotherhood. And it hurt me, you know, [but] I knew I had to learn to accept it. But as time went on, something happened and he got bitter and paranoid. It drove the other guys in The Band crazy. They were like, “What the fuck now?” He thought everybody was trying to fool him and take advantage – concert promoters, accountants, lawyers, managers, Bob Dylan, everybody. This thing grew in him and it was like a plague, and I would say, “Listen, we’re keeping a real close eye, don’t worry about it, I know this is driving you nuts.” Then he started coming up with things we should do and our advisers said that’s not a good idea – he wanted us to build shopping centres in Arkansas. It got to the point where I couldn’t discuss with him what we were going to do next because we weren’t getting anywhere. When it came time for The Last Waltz, a lot of which was done because Richard was in such bad shape that we knew he’s going to die – we gotta get out of the way. Plus, Levon and Rick were in bad shape. None of us were in great shape, but the three of them were in and out of a heroin thing. It wore me down – I couldn’t do it. So I said, “Let’s bring this to a joyous musical conclusion because something has to be done.” And Levon’s thing became like a demon inside of him, eating him up. Everybody was having a lot of trouble with it, and it bothered me as much as anybody because I was the one closest to him. The Last Waltz was a relief – I didn’t have to babysit this every day [any more]. Levon wasn’t good at taking responsibility for his own part in it. Finally, 10 years after The Band, it became my fault. What about Levon’s claims concerning songwriting credits? There was never one discussion between the guys in the band about me not writing the songs. That would have been preposterous. I worked my ass off and they knew what I did and came to me and apologised for not holding up their end in that area. [Levon] made statements years after The Band that were just blatantly unfounded, and he’d never said one word to me about that in all of our times together. I chose to not say anything ’cos I knew that he was suffering from something and I didn’t want to turn this into anything. It broke my heart, but I knew it was untruthful, and of every song that I ever wrote for The Band, I wrote and brought to them, I never brought a song to them and said, “Can you help me ﬁnish this.” I ﬁnished some of theirr songs, but never once did [the opposite] happen. And he played a lesser part in the songwriting than anybody because, as we said earlier, it wasn’t his thing, it didn’t come naturally to him. So, he wrote Strawberry Wine and I helped him ﬁnish it, and I gave him credit on Life Is A Carnival and Jemima Surrender ’cos he was there, I loved him and I wanted to give him credit. There are those – particularly some punk rockers – who’ve criticised The Band – and particularly The Last Waltz – as representing a tired ethos and being ‘Dinosaur Rock’. What’s your response? Was Billie Holiday a dinosaur? Was Charlie Parker a dinosaur? These people changed the world. These people in The Last Waltz changed the fucking world. Some new people have done incredible work, but the jury’s still out on whether they changed the world. And I have great respect for The Clash. I’ve met some of those guys over the years and they worship The Band and told me, “That’s the stuff that made us wanna make powerful music and do it well.” And Elvis Costello, another one – and I knew the Sex Pistols, I knew Johnny [Lydon]. So I know you’re using “punk rock” as just a viewﬁnder towards something. But don’t ask me – ask them. In the book you mention seeing Coltrane perform, calling him “antishowbiz.” That was my reaction every time I saw The Band in the day. We didn’t play by anybody’s rules and when everybody was going in this direction of wearing big polka dots and silly clothes and screaming hate about their parents, The Band was taking pictures with our parents. We were dressing the way we dressed every day. Not because it was a look, but because we lived up in the mountains and you couldn’t wear polka dotty clothes – you’d look silly at the hardware store. We came from our own past, our own realness, and our own honesty. And then everybody M started dressing like us!
Testimony by Robbie Robertson is published by William Heinemann. A companion CD of the same name is also available.
Robbie with Last Waltz director Martin Scorsese, 1978; (inset top) Muddy Waters.
(Duke, 1959) Ace blues loper with the saw-voiced Davis nudged Booker’s halfthetic, half-mo punctuation. Future JB’s man Jabo Starks keeps time.
The sax-playing Neville brother shared Booker’s picaresque junkie lifestyle: “I went up to New York in ’67 and he was already there playing and touring. He turned me on to a little scam he had going. If you signed onto the methadone programme, you got a letter to take to the welfare department and to SSI [Supplemental Security Income], and you go to the ofﬁce to pick up the cheques; they don’t mail them out. He signed up in Harlem, the Village, Brooklyn, got a cheque each place – 400 bucks here, 400 bucks there, twice a month. Things weren’t computerised so they didn’t know. We needed money, and Booker wasn’t a violent guy; he wasn’t going to go out and rob people. Dr. John told me that Booker was the best con man he ever met.” Dr. John concurs: “He had about 30 little weird hustles going right under our nose. It wasn’t like we wasn’t streetwise – that he could slide something past old-school cats was amazing. Even in that area he was a genius.” A stretch for possession in the notorious Angola prison farm in 1970 – doubly perilous for an extravagantly gay man – preceded the mysterious loss of Booker’s left eye in 1973. An infection from a dirty syringe is the least colourful cited cause. Dr. John tells the story of a scam backﬁring: “We’d written arrangements for an album for some guy from Britain, something to do with Jackie Kennedy and a guy who became like a roadie for Ringo Starr. Booker went and picked up the money for the arrangement, and said the guy was high on acid [so] he was going back to get the money again. W Went two times, then a third. Next thing I know he’s in the hospital, his face busted up. He took a pretty bad ass-whupping and lost his eye.” UBSEQUENTLY L EQUIPPED WITH A rafﬁshly starred eyepatch, Booker wasn’t done with the white rock aristocracy. In the ’70s, he played sessions with The Doobie Brothers and John Mayall, while Joe Boyd produced one of his few studio albums, Junco Partner, for which the maestro required a candelabra on the studio piano. “He was ambitious and adored applause; he’d sit there drinking it in,” Boyd tells MOJO. “But aside from his mercurial personality, health and heroin addiction, the reason James
did not become more successful was that he was not a commercial singer, though he idolised Ray Charles. James’s voice was quite harsh and limited, so recording him I focused on his playing and o instrumental tracks. Though he was discovered by European promoters, that was not the same as being a star in America.” Booker got a huge ﬁx of applause and acclaim touring Europe, but when he returned to New Orleans he was back in the bars, as he said, “passing the bucket at the Maple Leaf ”. Business as usual was such a comedown his tendency to mania tipped into paranoia, the CIA frequently invoked in rambling on-stage harangues. An audience of one to a demented late-night phone call was his piano pupil, the son of New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr, who was such a Booker fan he had a jail sentence commuted in exchange for piano lessons for his talented youngster. “The relationship I had with James from a teacher/ student point of view was very unorthodox,” Connick Jr recalls. “Never a set time, never a set place. I was dogged in my pursuit of his knowledge. I wanted to know how to play like that so badly it was a barrage of questions: ‘Hey, James, you played this on Sunny Side Of The Street – how did you do that?’ He would sit down and show me. “James didn’t let keys or the instrument itself dictate what he was going to play. Wherever his hands fell is where he’d play, like it just didn’t matter. He could play in any key, in any tempo. He had the most hand independence I have ever seen. He was a small man and not a forceful player yet his sound was twice as big as mine. It’s like a golf swing; it’s not about how hard you swing the club. He just had this touch; it just seems so effortless.” In November 1983, when Connick was 16, his father phoned with bad news. “He said James died today, liver failure. Frank Minyard, the Coroner of New Orleans who was also a good friend, told me that his liver looked like a raisin.” James Booker was 43. Only now, three decades later, is he getting something like his due. M
1960) er’s butterﬂy hands x cocktail-hour vocations from his ammond B3 for Don obey’s Houston-based abel. Let the good mes roll, as Hunter hompson had it.
(from Ringo, Apple 1973) Aka Hold On: an unlikely alliance of Booker’s slopping-everywhere piano chaos and Marc Bolan’s cast-iron right hand. The great man really lets rip from 2.23.
(from Junco Partner, Island 1976) Chopin soaked in ﬁle gumbo from his most satisfying, Joe Boyd-produced album. Hear his left hand dipping it in the mud.
(from Spiders On The Keys, Rounder 1993) A Booker signature, at NO’s Maple Leaf Bar, from a hoard of console tapes made 1977- 82. The 88s just can’t contain his spirit.
Lodestar (COOKING VINYL) The Source (ECC) Upcetera (NIAG) The Gloaming 2 (REAL WORLD) Every Bird That Flies (SHELLS IN THE OCEAN)
Manchester’s Improving Daily (CADIZ) Cactacus (AVELINE) Chaim Tannenbaum (STORYSOUND) Forgotten Kingdom (HANDS ON MUSIC) Shadows (NO MASTERS)
Big Black Coat (CITY SLANG) The Bells (STUDIO BARNHUS)
(The Leaf Label)
Rock’s guilty secret is its habitual straining for signiﬁcance and often faking it;The Divine Comedy aka Neil Hannon alights upon depths via the deceptive shallows of a modern Noël Coward. Album 11’s effervescent orchestral pop brocades ear-pleasing songs,pensive heartache lurking within witty cabaret inconsequence. MS Start with: How Can You Leave Me On My Own
If intergalactic jazz voyager Sun Ra had relocated to Cologne in 1971, he may well have made an album like this.Led by happening saxist Shabaka Hutchings, the London trio conjure up 12 tracks of driving jazz-tronica that will appeal to fans of fellow Mercury Music Prize nominees Radiohead and David Bowie. PA Start with: Space Carnival
EARS (WESTERN VINYL) elseq 1 5 (WARP) Elasticity (ELASTIC DREAMS)
Although a reworking of a two-year-old French release, the debut by Héloïse Letissier (who is both Christine and The Queens) already sounds timeless, a spectral slice of empowering yet melancholic electro-pop about being strong enough to be who you want to be. If Beyoncé had fronted Talk Talk… DH Start with:Jonathan :
After a post-heartbreak sojourn in Rome,this Aberystwyth all-rounder – a Cockeresque yelper with a thing for half-mast strides – produced an audacious orch-pop conceit of renewal, devotion and the transcendent nature of art. Vigorously individual, it’s proof of the wisdom of following wild personal urges. He plays the tuba, too. IH Start With: How To Recognise A Work of Art
Former Antony & The Johnsons singer’s vigorous tirade against the human and environmental cost of the nihilistic devotion to global capital evinced by The Man (who, it’s noted, is a man), delivered via the contemporary electronics of Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never. Disco’s Rebecca Solnit on a down day. JB Start with: 4 Degrees
Sketches From An Island 2 (INTERNATIONAL FEEL) Under The Sun (WARP) Motion Graphics (DOMINO) Sirens (OTHER PEOPLE) Plum (BRUNETTE EDITIONS)
Compiled by CHRIS INGHAM
(Caroline) (City Slang)
Alexander Scriabin’s Ragtime Band (MISTER SAM)
Four Plus Three (KWJAZZ) Together, As One (EDITION) Notes From New York (IMPULSE) In My Room (QWEST/MEMBRAN)
Twisted Toons Vol 2 (CADIZ MUSIC)
The Bopped & The Bopless (33) Tetra (WHIRLWIND)
The Royal Bopsters Project (MOTEMA) Country For Old Men (IMPULSE)
Guided By Voices alumnus Doug Gillard joined the NY trio for this robust reassertion of their USP: wistful reﬂection; inspired guitar pop melodies.Lyricist Matthew Caws’selfawareness speaks to drug casualties, autistic outliers and tongue-tied romantics on songs whose golden moments sound deceptively simple and are immaculately arranged. JB Start with: Friend Hospital
He’s singing beautifully,still writes strong songs spiced with telling detail and runs a great band (with Fiachra Trench back on groovy keys and soulful arrangements) – there are few 71-year-old rock legends you can say all of that about.If Amy Winehouse had written wry opener Let It Rhyme,they’d be calling it genius. DE Start with: Let It Rhyme
(Matador) (Drag City) (Polydor)
It’s proof of the Compton rapper’s current status as the most alert mind with the sophisticated ﬂow in the genre that an album of psych-jazz-soul ‘rejects’from last year’s To Pimp A Butterﬂyy opus chimes as another tocsin bell from the creativepolitical frontline. Proof that more of the same can be wonderful. CP Start with: Untitled 03
A recharging of the batteries for Will Oldham and a meditative retreat for the listener as BPB surrenders to the blissful, drone-state reality of the interstellar Chicago trio, sweetly tracking their harmonic trail with sung fortune cookie maxims that simultaneously resonate with beauty, profundity and emptiness. AM Start with: May Life Throw You A Pleasant Curve
In the wake of 2014’s supercharged Way Out Weather,the r third full-band LP from this Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter took its own sweet time, Gunn and his clear-eyed nine-piece motoring down guitar rock’s blue highways in search of the peaceful eternal now. AM Start with: Ancient Jules
Kanye West billed The Life Of Pablo his gospel album, but fellow Chicagoan Chancellor Bennett stole his thunder. The risk-taking unsigned rapper’s third mixtape panoramically reinvigorated gospel’s spiritual core, outshone Justin Bieber and birthed the modern maxim: “Ain’t no Twitter in heaven.” AC Start with: Blessings
Memphis soul man, back on his hometown label, is in excellent vocal form – warm,spiced by a little grit – and writing as well as ever: welcoming melodies, believable stories, the occasional revisit to his impressive past. GB Start with: The Three Of Me
Schmilco ditches the electric guitars to smile lopsidedly at a world it doesn’t really like or understand, Jeff Tweedy’s whispered, troubled meditations (“Can my cold heart change – even out of spite?”) barely audible above his band’s hushed, sybaritic country rock. Misanthropy at its most silken and soothing. PG Start with: If Ever I Was A Child
Hippy’s plangent troubadour-turnedone-man soap opera, Crosby’s creative Indian summer continues with this pared-down, spacious and resonant interplay of aspic voice, exotically tuned guitars and little else. Sometimes protesting, usually questioning, but above all questing for connection to the One (wife Jan) and Oneness (life,the universe). MS Start with: Drive Out To The Desert
Suede’s surprisingly graceful comeback continued as Britpop’s outsiders merged past glories with present dangers, their grand ballads and levitating pop songs tackling dark matters: depression, self-doubt, and communication failure. They hadn’t entirely put away wildish things, though: each song shows the same enthralling life-and-death commitment that made their name. VS Start with: Like Kids
Stung by founding drummer Josh Block’s unannounced departure, reluctant WD supremo James Petralli conﬁgured a new Denim. Stiff roared out of the traps,echoing the taut groovy majesty of Houses OfThe Holy-era Zeppelin, plus splashes of Smokey Robinsonstyle soul balladry. AP Start with: Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)
Over double-album length, Blake fully realised his postdubstep, avant-soul vision:combining electronic cut-ups, twisty-turny songs and the affecting warmth of his lovely voice. Even in the moments without sonic trickery – as on the Joni Mitchellechoing piano beauty of F.O.R.E.V.E.R – The Colour In Anything dazzled. TD Start with: Love Me In Whatever Way
An unexpect Prince endor ﬂagged up n things chez Wearside’s p Brewis broth Namely: mor playfulness,m funk in their satisfying alb since ’07’s To Town. You co bandy their c corralled refe – Hall & Oate Dan, the Pur – but actually Music are no own archety Start with: Disappointe Field Music’s David (left) and Peter Brewis, their own archetypes.
(Bronze Rat/Series Aphonos)
To Berlin, where two Australians, “experimental” drummer Steve Heather and piano player Chris Abrahams (of The Necks), conspire with a double bass (Canada) and guitar (Germany) to make hypnotic instrumental music on the axis that connects Miles Davis and Talk Talk. “The essence of music”, they josh, but this limpid, restful, beautifully recorded future classic is
Coloring Book (CHANCE THE RAPPER)
Tell Them It’s Winter (HIGH FOCUS) Atrocity Exhibition (WARP) Hella Personal Film Festival (MELLO MUSIC GROUP)
Malibu (STEEL WOOL) Views (ISLAND) Blonde (BOYS DON’T CRY)
(Boy Better Know) And The Anonymous Nobody (AOI) Made In The Manor (PARLOPHONE)
The Life Of Pablo (UNIVERSAL)
UNDERGROUND Compiled by ANDREW MALE
FEMENINE (FROZEN REEDS) Simultaneous Flight Patterns (BRAWL RECORDS) Hubris (EDITIONS MEGO) You Know What It’s Like (BLACKEST EVER BLACK) Dirt Road (ANOTHER TIMBRE)
Stasis (GHOST BOX)
If this bedevilled nation gets more condemned by the hour, south London “cartoon industrialists” FWF are providing the soundtrack. Starring Harold Shipman, Mussolini and the Internationale, drooled over with disco and Krautrock, its squalid dirges gleefully circled the plughole of negation. Suitably, even their continued existence is debatable. IH Start With: Tinfoil Deathstar
Now armed with two drummers, John Dwyer’s San Francisco renegades continue to move from their garagerock roots deep into gnarled psychedelic territory. The eight guitar-heavy tracks on offer mix playful titles (Ticklish Warrior, Gelatinous Cube) with lyrical nihilism on an effort that provides an intense, overwhelming experience when absorbed through headphones. PA Start with: Plastic Plant
A supergroup with such a noticeable imbalance in star power has no right to work so well. But with characteristic Zen modesty, k.d.lang uses her singular torch song voice to enrich and support Laura Veirs’ dextrous, tender compositions and Neko Case’s gift for rollicking melodic uplift. JB Start with: I Want To Be Here
The hard sharp angles and street gnarl of UK grime – over a decade old now – is poking at the ﬂab of global pop and mainstream rap, its currency emblemised by universal acclaim (plus Pharrell/Drake props) for Joseph Junior Adenuga’s de facto hits comp. Each track parries and punches, lunges and grabs; there’s even a QOTSA sample. CP Start with: Shutdown
“I am writing a songbook on a mountain,” the LA-based Woods bassist declared on Black Flowers: a vivid mission statement for his Woodstockrecorded third solo album. If there was something old moving through these songs, there’s also police brutality among the coyotes and crows. Ancient skills with a cutting edge. VS Start with:I : Have Been To The Mountain
It’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry (EDITIONS MEGO) Dreamboat (MIE) Bes (NAWA RECORDINGS) Stockhausen: Aus Den Sieben Tagen (ZEITKRATZER PRODUCTIONS)
(Anti/Epitaph) (Jagjaguwar) The Chicago Way (ALLIGATOR) Blues Immigrant (TONGUE ’N GROOVE) Can’t Shake This Feeling (DELMARK) Chicago Bound (JASMINE) Downhome Blues: Detroit Special (WIENERWORLD)
Maxwell Street (STONY PLAIN)
The Big Sound Of... (ALLIGATOR) Live At The Greek Theatre (PROVOGUE) Better The Devil You Know (BLACK HEN) Truth (DELMARK)
First album in 30 years from the Prefab Four proved a surprisingly sharp return. Produced by Adam Schlesinger, and buoyed by songs from a host of name admirers (XTC’s Andy Partridge, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller) the surviving Monkees turn out a pop platter worthy of their ’60s peak. BM Start with: Me And Magdelena
The St Louis-bred songstrel with the hard eye for human frailty has barely put a foot wrong so far, and hereby expands her palette from wholefood indie-folk into more sensual and jeopardy-strewn zones (Intern’s jaded, synthy games-playing). The scary part: there’s even better to come. DE Start with: Heart Shaped Face
Saying nothing against previous albums by the eccentric singersongwriter from Concord,CA, but there’s a melodic spell woven here that’s new, with contributions from interesting musicians (including Angel Olsen) lending a shimmery ’70s pop feel, like 10cc’s I’m Not In Love but about loving a meth casualty with “fucked up hair”. DE Start with: Medusa’s Outhouse
Thematically joined to 2015’s Teens Of Style, this chronicled Will Toledo’s attempts to become an adult. Sorry and cracked though his narrations are (“Friends are better with drugs,” is one observation), the songs’ invention, depth and anthemic guitars suggest his story will be evolving and, yes, immense. IH Start With: The Ballad Of The Costa Concordia
Beyoncé’s little sister channelled Marvin Gaye and Minnie Riperton and enlisted moving interludes from her parents on this soulful account of the stories behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Anger manifested softly, while Knowles Jr projected a hope for redemption. SW Start with:Cranes In The Sky
“Elegance and dignity”: Nick Cave at work amid One More Time With Feeling.
Yeah, look, he’s prickly, and there was one particularly tense day, where I was trying to get him to do stuff that he didn’t wanna do. He gets very contrary, but he had good reason in this case. I have a personal relationship with Nick that goes back 30 years. We know each other through a girl. You know the song Deanna? Well, I started going out with her, and her and Nick had broken up about three months before [circa 1988]. He was a legendary character in Melbourne, but he was always pretty warm to me.
The idea was that it was just gonna play once [on album release day], in theatres, so I thought it should be a theatrical experience. I’ve been obsessed with 3D for years, and I think there’s a way to use it where it’s very intimate. At the same time, I thought, “Let’s do it in black and white”, because that provides a kind of elegance and dignity. It was a way to give Nick a little distance, at the same time as feeling you’re right there with him.
WHEN NICK Cave lost one of his twin 15-year-old sons, Arthur, to a tragic cliff-top accident in May 2015, few could have imagined that he would plough on with his creative endeavours. It was even less likely that this most ﬁercely guarded of songsmiths would allow the making of the ensuing album, Skeleton Tree, to be ﬁlmed. The resultant movie, shot by an old friend from Melbourne, Andrew Dominik, is truly extraordinary, capturing the near-hallucinatory shock of the Cave family’s bereavement, and the singer’s heartwrenching efforts to navigate his way through the pain via stream-of-consciousness music.
Dominik speaks from LA about the gruelling but life-changing experience of directing it.
When Arthur died, everybody rallied around Nick, and it just came out of that. At the time, to be honest, I wasn’t even sure that he was in his right mind, wanting to do this. But his instincts have been spot on, I think. When we began, it wasn’t necessarily gonna deal with Arthur; it was just that Nick had to do something in support of the record, and he didn’t wanna do interviews.
I just knew I was gonna shoot eight songs, but I knew that they’d add up to 35 minutes or whatever, and the ﬁlm needed to be at least 90 minutes. I talked to Nick about doing some interviews, and we had to negotiate. He was very wary. Even in the few days before we started shooting, we were still working out what the ﬁlm was gonna be. The whole idea that the ﬁlm was gonna deal with Arthur – I knew that it had to, and I guess he did, too.
I basically made a deal with him, that he could cut anything he wanted, and I thought it was because he had that deal in place, that he was prepared to let me get in there. It was only on the last day of the shoot that Nick told me he actually did want people to know how he felt, and that was part of his motive behind making the ﬁlm. He told me that he got such an outpouring of support – from people that he knew, and complete strangers – and he was really moved by it. They all were, the whole family. He told me, all the literature says that grief is kind of a solo show, that you do it on your own, but that hadn’t been the case for him, or Susie, or [surviving twin] Earl. He found people’s responses really helpful, and he felt that he wanted to let those people who cared know what his state was, and what the state of his family was.
(dir. Mat Whitecross) Kerry Brown
(dir. Paul Fegan) (dir. Brendan Toller)
(dir. Ron Howard)
Life and groovy times of punk seer and “company freak” Danny Fields.
In the eye of the worldchanging hurricane that was The Beatles on tour.
Arab Strap truth-teller Aidan Moffat goes in search of the Scottish Ballad, ﬁnds… something.
The most entertaining rock’n’roll group of the ’90s fail to disappoint in this epic, candid, farcical rags to WAGs doc.
IN BOSSWorld, 2016 has been The Year of The River. From Pittsburgh in January to Foxborough, Massachusetts in September, via the stadia of Europe, the E Street Band toured in honour of Bruce Springsteen’s sprawling 1980 double album, a mere 35 years after the ﬁrst time. For the US stretch, they played The River in its entirety, every night opening with Meet Me In The City, a song that didn’t make the ﬁnal cut but now had pole position in the set and was also opener on a 22-track outtakes album, the beating heart of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection. For Springsteen, this box set was an opportunity to reﬂect on a pivotal period in his story. As he said on the 2016 tour’s opening night, The River “was the record where I was trying to ﬁgure out where I ﬁt in…” A tall order: hence the record’s protracted evolution from its aborted 10-song original – included on the box set – to its 20-song ﬁnished article. But for Steve Van Zandt, Springsteen’s long-time friend, E Street Band guitarist and The River’s co-producer, it was a bittersweet exercise, a reminder of what was and yet might have been.
“All the stuff that was left off…” he says, rolling his eyes, momentarily speechless. “Every one a lost argument – every single song a lost argument. An argument that I lost. The outtakes are my favourites.” Van Zandt’s encyclopaedic knowledge of rock and soul, plus his devotion to the music’s streetwise aesthetic, made him the perfect conduit for Springsteen’s desire for a record that married rawness with romance. There’s a torrid intensity to Meet Me In The City, or The Man Who Got Away, or Roulette, where Springsteen’s afﬁnity for UK punk is very clear: the E Street Band sound like better-fed versions of The Attractions or The Clash. Simultaneously soul-pop ditties like Hungry Heart were extrapolating deeper themes of community and country through character-led narratives. The song-glut suggests Springsteen was operating on a manic level. “Y’know, what can you say?” shrugs Van Zandt. “People would have careers on these other songs – multiple careers off of these songs. Bruce’s ability to write pop-rock music is
unique. Completely unique. And, he’s one of the great soul singers of all time. The thrill of doing The River every night this year was hearing him sing the soul songs. Which he never does. He takes it completely for granted. Maybe it proves that there is no god, or else he’d be striking him with lightning for taking it for granted! You’re the greatest fucking white soul singer on the fucking planet! Drive All Night, Fade Away, I Wanna Marry You… we never do those songs! All of a sudden we’re doing them every night. It was the greatest show we’ve done since the original River tour.” In his autobiography Springsteen recalls making the The River as “an odyssey, [we were] toiling in the vineyards of pop, searching for complicated answers to mystifying questions.” Thanks to its deep archaeological intent, The Ties ThatBind makes sense of the mystery, and renders the complications as simple as “1-2-3-4”. The record’s co-producer has no doubts. “It’s our best album,” says Steve Van Zandt. “And it’s his best album, and it’s his best performance. It was wonderful this year, to see it and hear it.”
Farewell Aldebaran (OMNIVORE) Finally, an authentic reissue for this unique 1969 meld of psych-folk and baroque pop. The Early Years 1967-72 (PLG UK) Crushing 27-disc box sets the seal on the Syd era and hiatus.
Sulk [Collector’s Edition] (BMG) Overlooked ’80s pioneers of louche, over-reaching pop get their due. The 1966 Live Recordings [40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (COLUMBIA) Even more crushing 36disc box anthologises that tour.Play fucking loud!
The RCA & Arista Album Collection (SONY) Ace remastering job, overseen by the man himself in his last days. This Heat (LIGHT IN THE ATTIC) Post-punk brainiacs restored to inﬂuencedu-jour status. Out Of Time (RHINO) Lovingly packaged, enlightening demos, reminded us why we love ’em. The Complete BBC Sessions Worth it for the Playhouse Theatre versh of White Summer alone.
The Chicago-based jazzy folkster folded the best of John Martyn, Michael Chapman and Van Morrison into his head-spinning third album. Alongside the acoustic guitar virtuosity, Walker’s songwriting has dramatically matured, unpicking the deeply fascinating world of a man with few artistic, or possibly personal, boundaries. AF Start with: Sullen Mind
Nobody’s Fool (BEAR FAMILY) A vinyl resurrection for this 1973 gem. Crate diggers, stand down.
Bruce Springsteen’s “ability to write poprock music is completely unique,” says Steve Van Zandt.
Dylan wrings every scrap of stoic wisdom from this second consecutive batch of American songbook humdingers, while his array of guitarists prove their mastery of easy-swinging country-jazz. Bonus: as gig-goers attest, this new singing-intune thing pays dividends across the catalogue. For his next trick… some new Bob Dylan songs please! DE Start with: All The Way
Against the papery wheeze of a Victorian pedal harmonium this young pop-folk quartet have created a haunted,wistful collection of abstracted folk ballads, hypnotic poems of memory and strange magic,sung with melancholy and beauty, lit with a hazy autumnal light. AM Start with: Dive Bombing
The fourth album since the trio’s rapprochement is an evolutionary triumph: intense moodswings, from crushing melancholy to star-swept euphoria, orchestrated by J Mascis guitar alchemy and powered by a band comfortable with its state of gnarly grace. As bassist Lou Barlow told MOJO: “We’re basically perfecting something here.” KC Start with: Tiny
The Cult’s milliennial rebirth reaches a peak of nobility amid Hidden City’s splayed-leg rock heroics and uneasy contemplation of imminent apocalypse. There’s always been a wild chemistry to Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy’s shotgun wedding, but it’s remarkable that their ﬂamboyance could still be channelled with such soulful conviction. KC Start with: Avalanche Of Light
TFC maintain such a direct connection to what made them great to begin with that even after 27 years it doesn’t feel like their best work is behind them. Album 11 offers further reﬁnement of core values: guitar pop purity with melodies to the fore while heartsore lyrics come caramel-coated. JB Start with: It’s A Sign
It is easy to liken Canterbury’s Syd Arthur to the forefathers of their hometown scene. However, while the four-piece draw on the joyous, experimental approach that deﬁned that fecund late-’60s period,their fourth album is the epitome of 21st century progressive pop.One for‘heads’ who dig heart and soul too. PA Start with: No Peace
Anxious to keep things interesting, Justin Vernon ﬂirts with disappearing up himself, but settles for having a look around and coming back with a warped-pop jewel. Determinedly current in certain respects – distorted beats and vocoder but with enough moments of outstanding,beauty to be timeless too. JI Start with: 33 “God”
Late-ﬂowering soul brother makes the Black Sabbath ballad title track his own,but get that real zazz feeling on the punishing James Brown-rooted pounders Good To Be Back Home and Ain’t It A Sin. Bradley’s recent stomach cancer diagnosis is a worry, though. GB Start with: Ain’t It A Sin
The erstwhile Destiny’s Child mainstay gave her old band’s name new meaning with a sixth studio solo album which bestrode the turbulent year of 2016 like a bootyshaking colossus. Lemonade synthesises source material from Led Zeppelin to Malcolm X into an electrifying paean to the revolutionary potential of hurt pride. BT Start with: Don’t Hurt Yourself
FLOTUS (CITY SLANG) Paging Mr Proust (SHAM) A Sailor’s Guide To Earth (ATLANTIC) Upland Stories (BLOODSHOT) Above The Prairie (THE PINES) case/lang/veirs (ANTI/EPITAPH) Nos Da Comrade (DOMESTICO)
The Narrows (YEP ROC)
(Island) The Ghosts Of Highway 20 (HIGHWAY 20) Full Circle (LEGACY)
MUSIQUE ORIGINALE DU FILMS (HABIBI FUNK) Zoo Folle (FOUR FLIES) Taxi Driver (WAXWORKS)
If the skittery beats and baleful eye of latter-day Radiohead put you off, then the Oxonians’ninth studio album might be the tonic, a study in softness and band dynamics, where The Numbers could even be folky Zep with strings by Charles Stepney. For once, they’ve not reinvented the wheel. But who doesn’t like a wheel? DE Start with: True Love Waits
After a brace of Albion-analysing albums,Polly Jean addresses a benighted globe, inspired by sojourns in Afghanistan and Washington DC’s housing projects. These are songs as reportage, more John Pilger than Patti Smith, yet their stirring choruses, underpinned by martial beats and potent brass, locate poignancy amid the quotidian desolation. DS Start with:The Wheel
(Boys Don’t Cry)
Paralleling Bon Iver’s descent into a blurry, ballady underworld, Ocean’s luxurious jumble of narcoleptic jams and swimming ambience – with occasional sampled speech and highspeed rap jitters also interrupting the ﬂow – was the most bafﬂing,beautiful and expectationsubverting contender in eons – or hip-hop’s Kid A. MA Start with: Nikes
All 82 of Cohen’s years lend monolithic heft and Old Testament solemnity to nine intimate meditations on our times and his.Son Adam’s smart production accentuates the magnetic pull of dad’s crater-deep voice,raising it up and ornamenting it with choral elements, cantor phrases, strings,twanging 1950s guitars and organ. JMcN Start with: It Seemed The Better Way
(Bad Seed Ltd)
The death of Cave’s son Arthur shortly before this album’s completion shifted both the ﬁnal course of the music and the way it would be heard. An inescapably complicated piece of work, its core remains the astonishing force of Cave’s songwriting, driving a band at their most experimental. VS Start With: Jesus Alone
The Warriors (WAXWORKS) Circle Of Light (TRUNK) Heartworn Highways (LIGHT IN THE ATTIC) The Knick Series 2 (MILAN) The Man Who Fell To Earth (UNIVERSAL) The Long Good Friday (SILVA SCREEN) The Irony Of Fate (EARTH)
THE WOMAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD (MAIS UM) Canzoni Della Cupa (DARK) Palermo Hollywood (WRASSE) Like A Bird Or Spirit, Not A Face (PONDEROSA) A Hermitage (BELLA UNION) Kidayú (HOT CASA REC) …Meets Batida (CRAMMED DISCS) Né So (NONESUCH) Arbina (GLITTERBEAT)
Tropix (URBAN JUNGLE)
This San Francisco supergroup, featuring acid folk spectre Meg Baird of Espers and one half of Californian noiseniks Comets On Fire, are having a blast on their debut. Equal parts Fairport Convention-style pure-voiced whimsy and skull-crushing metal horror, it’s the sonic equivalent of being pummelled by a daisy. WH Start with: Oriar
A period of “emotional winter”, a chromatic guitar line and a visit to Harry Partch’s collection of mictrotonal instruments inspired Simon (and producer Roy Halee) to show once again that it’s when the 75-year-old is at his most alien, experimental and imaginative that he does his best work. DH Start with: Cool Papa Bell
If this turns out, as threatened, to be his valedictory album, it’s one hell of a farewell. Following the trajectory of Iggy’s classic Bowie-produced texts, collaborator Josh Homme prepared his ﬁnest avant-rock bed for the author’s reﬂections on an extraordinary life: a ﬁttingly sepulchral stage for this great American voice. KC Start with: American Valhalla
Getting a modern electronic makeover is de rigueurr but Lambchop’s digital diversion proved an effortless step into the territory explored on Mark Kozelek’s 2013 collaboration with The Album Leaf. Kurt Wagner’s deep, tender baritone meshes smoothly with the hypnotic pulse and spark of contemporary production without ever jarring. JB Start with: In Care Of 8675309
After a four-year wait, the 28-year-old north Londoner delivered 10 ﬁve-star performances of remarkable maturity on this second album. A better balance of tempi lifts the mood, and despite mostly dark, doubting, angry, guilt-ridden material, rediscovered hope equals glowing, positive future. GB Start with: Cold Little Heart
ON THE morning of January 11, 2016, Blackstar, released three days earlier, underwent a miraculous transformation. Just hailed one of the most ambitious works in David Bowie’s career, reports of his death meant it now became his last will and testament. Nothing since Lennon’s Double Fantasy had such a sting in its tail. Only this was different. Bowie knew it was coming. “David changed the game 100 per cent for this in a way he’d not done before,” says co-producer Tony Visconti, accepting MOJO’s Album Of The Year laurels on behalf of them both. “We’d broken all the rules on Low but this was an even higher level of liberation. This was dropping the rock context majorly.” Bowie had long admired Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Valedictory masterpieces of Late Style, Strauss’s death-facing compositions deeply affected him. “Terribly romantic, sad, poignant,” he said, admitting that he regularly gave copies to his friends. In the grip of a similar late ﬂourish of creativity, it seemed he could not resist one last, meaningful work of his own. “He wanted this album to be
perfect,” says Visconti. To that end, he worked up detailed home demos. “The songs were very different,” Visconti continues, “but so were the band. They were like super-musicians with added brain and muscle power. David needed that to take it to another level.” Hip-hop-savvy jazz musos from the New York club scene, the Donny McCaslin Quartet were hand-picked by Bowie to bring the new material to life. McCaslin’s magniﬁcent sax stepped to the fore. The percussion, fragmented, loopy, sometimes calciﬁed with electro beats, underpinned everything with a haunting momentum. Guitars, overdubbed later, were kept to a minimum. On one key song, Lazarus, Bowie beckons gently, “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” He was, insists Visconti. “His human spirit was extremely strong in those last years. And he knew that music was his real strength.” Bowie was doing what he did best and loved most, leading the band on the studio ﬂoor and making some of the most thrilling music of his life. But the producer still cautions against a too-literal reading of the lyrics. “We never talked about death,” Visconti says. “Maybe [it
came up] around [2013’s] The Next Day,” he concedes. “I think he said that what happens is the lights just go out.” Blackstar’s opening 10-minute title track plays with that metaphor – “a solitary candle”, ﬂickering between light and dark, life and death. Deﬁning the LP, it’s a remarkable three-part piece, both celestial and disquieting. Arabesque swoops and ﬂutes are set against mention of executions, evoking cosmic mystery and the dystopian visions that always ran deep in Bowie’s psyche. Then those helium-voiced “I’m a Blackstar!” interj i invoking L. Gnom “I thought it w humorous,” says “The Gregorian c slightly melodra the Al Green sect hysterically funn singing he’s a bla star and all that.” Blackstar is hardly ‘prog Bowie’, but for the ﬁrst time on a Bowie album, the daredevil musicality is as much the focus
as what Visconti has called the “handsomest voice”. Yet that, too, is here, especially on Sue (In A Season Of Crime), where he delivers an astonishing, Scott Walkerish highwire performance over a sleazy John Barry groove. Everything here moves forward. Only on the ﬁnal two tracks do we hear hints of previous Bowies. The Mick Ronson-like guitar line that plays out Dollar Days was Visconti’s suggestion, approved by Bowie. The closing ballad, I Can’t Give Everything Away is melodically similar to Ziggy’s graveside lament, Soul Love, while haunting harp samples blow in from A New Career In A New Town. “Romantic, sad, poignant,” says Visconti, and for the man they called The Dame, a ﬁnal theatrical ﬂourish. “Blackstar is the closest you’ll ever get to who David really was,” he notes. “There is no pretence on this record.” Feel free to buy copies for your friends.
David Bowie’s press ofﬁcer calls MOJO to enquire after the publication date of the issue on sale November 24. This follows a drip feed of rumours about new Bowie material since April, when it was announced he was collaborating with Irish playwright on a musical sequel to , called .
It’s ofﬁcial. Bowie will write new music for the SpongeBob Squarepants musical.
Sky Atlantic post the credit sequence of their new TV crime series, . It has one minute and six of a newly compose song by David Bow Director says “the music [is] brooding, beautifu sentimental… I stil
Bowie’s press ofﬁcer plays MOJO two tracks from the forthcoming album and shows us some of the album artwork and selections from a new photo shoot. The album will be released on January 8, the artist’s 69th birthday, and will be called .
MOJO’s Keith Cameron interviews about the making of the album. Visconti explains the chronology and introduces the New York jazz musicians, including sax player and drummer , helping forge a e sound. s always ng outside ox,” he notes. Let’s just bust it all up, start again…”
A website appears, featuring a countdown to the November 19 release of the Blackstar single.
Hoardings appear featuring the soon-to-be distinctive Blackstar font, , created by ﬁlm-maker, designer, typographer and long-time Bowie collaborator, Jonathan Barnbrook, and based along the lines of the Unicode blackstar character U+2605.
A 10-minute promotional ﬁlm for Blackstar is released. There is much speculation over its use of imagery, especially the jewelled skeleton in a space- suit, which many assume is a reference to recurring Bowie song character Major Tom. In an interview on the Noisey website, the ﬁlm’s director, , says “If you’re a proliﬁc artist going into
your late sixties you’d at least start to think about mortality, your own relevance to history, in a different way. There’s almost a biographical aspect to this.”
Reviews of Blackstar start appearing. Keith Cameron’s in MOJO hears an album that is ecstatic, rueful, but confounding. Jody Rosen, writing in Billboard, parses Lazarus as a song “narrated from beyond the grave by a ghost who drops his cell phone from heaven to the Earth”, and I Can’t Give Everything Away as words from “the reaper, [wearing] a skate-rat’s hightops… tiptoeing up behind you.” The Daily Star, meanwhile, asks if Blackstar is a “coded warning of a coming apocalypse”.
The album is released.
Steve Schapiro/Corbis/Getty, Alamy
can’t fathom what actually happened.”
Always thinking outside the box: David Bowie, 1974; (opposite below) SpongeBob Squarepants, music by Bowie?
A year on Blackstar: (from left) Peaky Blinders’ Cillian Murphy; Lady Gaga’s Grammys tribute; Elvis’s Flaming Star; memorial at birthplace mural in Tunstall Road, Brixton; in 1976’s reissued The Man Who Fell To Earth; Crucifixion by David Jones, from Bowie’s art collection; brought to book.
Thousands ﬂock to his Brixton birthplace and gather around the Bowie mural on to mourn his passing. By evening it has turned into a street party.
Realisation dawns that Blackstar was Bowie’s epitaph. Detective work begins. American music writer says on Twitter that certain types of cancer lesions are referred to as “black stars”. The website mlkshk.com points out that Blackstar was the original title of the 1961 song Flaming Star and might have been an inspiration, given its lyrics: “Every man has a black star/A black star over his shoulder/And when a man sees his black star/He knows his time, his time has come.” Users of Reddit and Twitter note that a Tumblr account http:// thevillaoformen.tumblr.com, set up on November 20, 2015, has images similar to those on Blackstar.r Some speculate as to whether the Tumblr was set up by Bowie himself, given that many images are similar to those in the Lazarus video, which premiered on January 7.
Attempts to grasp Bowie’s importance continue. Among archive and unseen footage is a 1999 BBC interview with in which DB predicts the future potential of the internet and the decline of the music industry – “We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating 74 MOJO
performs a David Bowie Grammys tribute, with a Nile Rodgers-arranged 10-song megamix medley, complete with multiple costume changes. The loss of Bowie is felt all the more. and terrifying,” he tells a sceptical Paxman – and a clip of Bowie in 1983 calling out for the lack of black artists on the station.
Blackstarr is the on the Billboard 200, Bowie’s ﬁrst ever Number 1 LP in the US. It is also Number 1 in 23 other countries. An asterism of seven stars in the shape of the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt is named after David Bowie by a group of Belgian astronomers from the MIRA Observatory.
tells Dezeen magazine that the Blackstarr cover “was designed to reﬂect the musician’s mortality… the idea of a black hole sucking in everything… the end of the universe… things that relate to mortality.” New York’s mayor, declares January 20 David Bowie Day in honour of the “global icon who made New York his home”.
Two new books of Bowie photos are announced: by and by . The cover image for the Schapiro book shows a Man Who Fell To Earth-vintage Bowie dressed in blue trousers and cropped-neck blue top with diagonal white stripes, an outﬁt the Lazarus video references.
At the David Bowie is honoured with a posthumous Icon Award. Backed by Bowie’s 2004 tour band, and dressed as The Thin White Duke, (described by Bowie as “the future of music”) performs an impassioned version of Life On Mars?
Instagram launch a 16-episode mini-series Unbound, based on the music of Blackstar.r Before his death Bowie gave the ﬁlm- makers access to music and images from the LP, with “no limits or preconditions”. Each 15-second episode features images and ideas suggested by Blackstar’s music, lyrics and artwork. It is a wordless Lynchian drama. A limited edition deluxe vinyl box set of Bowie At The Beeb is released.
The reissues and repackages continue with a 3-LP box of Bowie’s 2004 Dublin show on the Reality Tour and a vinyl reissue of ChangesOneBowie.
A campaign begins to save the where Bowie performed in 1969 (immortalised In Memory Of A Free Festival) and wrote Life On Mars?. Meanwhile, New York’s , where Blackstarr was recorded, shuts down because its owners can’t
A previously unheard , To Be Love, is released by LA sound engineer Ron De Strulle. Lambeth council announces that the David Bowie mural on is to become a locally-listed permanent memorial. Comedian, broadcaster and noted Bowie fan posts a brace of moving, emotional podcasts in which he comes to terms with Bowie’s death, and the death of his father. With contributions from and , it proves to be one of the best assessments of the post-Blackstarr landscape.
I Can’t Give Everything Away is released as a single. ’s simple animated video moves from Blackstar’s graphic black and white world to a more optimistic colour landscape. The Creative Loaﬁng website posts an extract from David J’s 2014 memoir in which the Bauhaus bassist recalls his time on the set of Tony Scott’s , when Bowie played him 1970 soul-beat instrumental Groovin With Mr Bloe and asked, “Well, what does that remind you of?” When the bassist guessed A New Career In A New Town, Bowie “placed a ﬁnger to his lips, gave a wink, and carried on dancing.”
It is announced that Season 3 of will feature
Starstock, Steve Schapiro/Corbis/Getty, Alamy, Mirrorpix, Wireimage
¢ An announcement on David Bowie’s Facebook page reads:
pay the rising rents due to gentriﬁcation. Bowie’s former home in Mustique, , is purchased by multi-millionaire Bowie super-fan Simon Dolan for $20m.
music from David Bowie’s Blackstar.r The show’s creator explains that Bowie was a huge fan and personally called Knight, asking that his music be used. Writing on his website bowiewonderworld.com points out that in Episode 5 of Season 1 (ﬁrst broadcast on October 10, 2013) Thomas Shelby, played by , scribbles a black star in a diary, saying, “Black star day. [The] day we take out Billy Kimber and his men. No one knows this.” Kinder says: “I am 100 per cent certain this where David got the Blackstar name from.”
A Reddit user points out that if you hold the gatefold sleeve for Blackstarr up to the sunlight, the star transforms into a ﬁeld of glowing gold stars.
More excellent Bowie footage emerges on the Mister Sussex YouTube channel, including a live 1979 performance of Boys Keep Swinging on .
is published. Written in just 10 weeks, in response to the singer’s death, it is an impressionistic 496-page mix of riff, memoir, insight, contradiction and self-regard. Grief must have played a part. Berlin-based conductor directs an evening tribute to . The evening is mixed but stand-outs include The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan’s vitreous performance of I Can’t Give Everything Away and John Cale’s troubled Valentine’s Day. A 30th Anniversary edition of Julien
exactly six months after his grandad made room for him. Love you both so.”
performs Lazarus at .
Blackstarr heads the shortlist for the . Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), a 12-CD box, is released. It has a previously unreleased album from 1974, The Gouster,r as explored in MOJO 274.
, mayor of Berlin, unveils a plaque at Hauptstrasse 155, the house where Bowie worked on Low, Heroes and Lodger.
Previously thought lost, and original soundtrack for
is released. A letter in Record Collector mag from a Mr Janes reveals that his father recently found three 8-inch acetates by at a church jumble sale. They are I Don’t Mind I Wish You
An original copy of David Bowie’s second album becomes the most expensive record ever sold on Discogs, selling for (£4,722).
Bowie when he was plain Davy Jones & The Lower Third, at BBC Television Centre, March ’65.
releases a solo w backed by the LP, Beyond Now, musicians who played on Blackstar.r On it, he covers the Low w album’s Warszawa.
The 40th Anniversary reissue of movie is released on Blu-ray.
’ auction of David collection, Bowie/ egins. The three- part er 350 works from the vate collection Outsider Art, African art, furniture mphis group, and
.A works, particularly are by south London and namesake n referenced in rk, including
I get melodies stuck in my head after one listen, so thank you, , for Cheap Thrills. I couldn’t get it out of my head from the moment I heard it. She’s an astonishing songwriter and it’s a great pop song. I saw perform in Berlin. It was amazing. And I saw at Madison Square Garden. Amazing shows both of them surp perfo perfo neve amaz amaz know mome the au degree anticip comple perform – it was incredib
2016 brought me a bounty of more sounds and events than I could cover. But the release of ’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung came in the wake of a
’s Wede Harer Guzo cassette on LP – a beautiful collection of Ethiopian soul party-time slow-burners (pictured, top left). Hailu also played the Marfa Myths festival along with Heron Oblivion. Hailu and his band performed an incredible, crooked and grooving set in a small Texas roadhouse – spilling out to outdoor hickory ﬁres, the desert night and countless stars. And thanks to for another classic: Mangy Love.
Wood/Metal/ Plastic/Pattern/ Rhythm/Rock by (above) is my soundtrack to driving a rental car through some unknown town, packing bags for a trip, and chopping vegetables at home. This album has become a guide through different daily activities because it strikes a perfect balance of cyclical hypnotism. Their sonic palette is something all their own, not overproduced or overplayed. Strings come in underneath Che
Chen’s supreme guitar tone. Rick Brown’s trance percussion offers a guiding support, with bass, strings, and horns supporting the melody. They have gathered all the moving parts perfectly.
Best things I’ve heard this year… , whose The Sound Experiment 2 EP (below) came out in the summer – a fantastic vocalist. ’s Long Live The Chief is as funky as fuck with good lyrics, too; ’s Apricityy is streets ahead musically. ’s Black Man In A White World – great modern R&B sound. The new album on
’s Blonde was an album that was hyped to the extreme on release so you couldn’t escape it, but for me it lived up to all that hype. I love it for so many reasons. It’s like a modern day version of Joni Mitchell’s Blue: so sparse and painfully intimate. His stream-ofconsciousness delivery, and the meandering style of the melodies, reminds me of Joni’s songwriting during that period, too. The imagery Frank creates within his words, and that heavy sense of melancholy it provokes is beautiful. Pure emotion and poetry. What an awesome record!
Stax, This i Is Where I Live : his voice is still so strong and lyrics are beautiful – soul’s back! Also, The Bird off ’s new album, Malibu, and Samory I’s African Daughter is a great new roots reggae tune. I really got into the album The Epic, too: spiritual music for the 21st century.
Starstock, Steve Schapiro/Corbis/Getty, Alamy, Mirrorpix, Wireimage
It’s a compilation. That’s the stuff I listen to. She only made one proper album in the early part of her career, Every Little Bit Hurts. She also wrote You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, the Blood, Sweat And Tears song, but she does it so much better. Before Aretha Franklin, a lot of female soul singers had these very individual voices, and with Brenda Holloway it’s just her phrasing, without that blatant soulfulness. It’s subtler than that, you know. Another singer like that is . When I was like a 12-year-old kid, she was the essence of sexiness. Both singers had an innate musicianship, something that you rarely hear today. I just stay in the past, where there’s always
some new treasure to be discovered.
I spend such a lot of time working on music I don’t really have time to listen to it. Having said that, I listened a lot to ’s Blackstarr and I think it’s absolutely fantastic. What a piece of work, and what an incredible statement for someone to make as they are dying, so brave and powerful It’s one of the best things he’s ever done, musically and lyrically. I think his voice soun great on it, too. In places I suppose it’s a bit vulnerable, I found that just made it all th more emotive.
Lovers is a record by (above right), a conc and creation some 25 year the making, a something I’ll return to much like the swallows of Capistran
– or at least whenever I want some company when administering CPR for a small crowd. To know this record is to know Nels’ soul surrendered unto our ears. In much the same manner
Experiment, on Saturday Night Live. He’s totally charming. He bowled me over when I saw him. So sweet and natural. And it’s based in gospel and religion but it didn’t matter. All of a sudden you get this vision of urban America totally different from what you get from listening to any of the heavy duty rappers. This is a different colour, a different ethos. He’s talking about his grandma, and all of that. I’ve actually seen him on a bunch of things and every time he’s perfect. Now he’s doing a Kit-Kat commercial and he’s perfect on that too
I’m listening to Fontessa by
’s The Life Of Pablo (pictured, below left) and ’s Blonde are relentless in their exploration of art, treating the music as a means of creating a portrait of the artist, rather than a vehicle for the audience’s emotions. This prioritisation of the artist’s persona extends through the method of release, the hype beforehand, the discourse afterwards – all coloured by the confrontational and off-the-cuff nature of Kanye, or the aloof and cool ﬁgure of Frank. That such artists ﬂourish in these times makes me excited for the future of music, and grateful to be around now. British label. I was into the Latin stuff early, but now it’s fucking ubiquitous, that reggaeton/dembow beat is on everything.
’ new stuff is really good – I’ve always liked them. Both of those records – A Weird Exits (below) and An Odd Entrances – are great. There’s something below the surface of
e d d s from Atlan they were by their pe them out were reall ﬁgured th being rag because t gorgeous girls and dt I also have By The Oc the head, I can out – I wan that with m band. The record I bo was a Best Cumbia on 78 MOJO
I got really into this reggae compilation album, Jahtarian Dubbers Vol. 2, especially this track International Farmer by Pupajim, a singer from Brittany. I’m turning into one of those pathetic modern music listeners – I Shazam things in bars or on my local college radio station, UMASS. There’s a song called No Passion by [from 2015’s Teens Of Style] I liked. But at home, it’s more likely I’ll listen to classical music or jazz. In the morning I listen to a lot of while I paint. In the afternoon, , especially Pithecanthropus Erectus. I love how arranged Mingus’s stuff is, there’s a lot of Duke Ellington in his DNA and a deliberate emphasis on the melody. It’s got a lot of humour in it too, and some chaos sometimes – like a trafﬁc jam. But I’m sparing with that. I have ﬁve kids – the house already sounds like a trafﬁc jam.
I was really excited by that track, 33 “God”. I like that it’s super-cryptic – I enjoy not
understanding things! – and there’s something Peter Gabriel about it. All of the Syds really liked the album, too. Jonny Greenwood’s strings are really beautiful – being a violinist, I love that. And I really enjoyed [Haitian/Canadian dance producer] Kaytranada’s 99.9%. It’s kinda house music with a hip-hop sensibility; he reworks a Brazilian song [Gal Costa’s Pontos De Luz] into this track called Lite Spots that’s amazing. Check out , which is the solo project of Thomas Fec from Black Moth Super Rainbow. It’s psychedelic electronica but really analogue, lots of vocoder. He should be getting a lot more love, I think. And in terms of discovering old stuff, [Apricityy producer] Jason Falkner played us ’s Pre Langue EP [from 1979] – kind of like Robert Wyatt Beefheart punk, dry but free and wild and unbelievably inventive, totally pushing against the format. I was blown away.
Phil Alexander, Martin Aston, Geoff Brown, Jenny Bulley, Keith Cameron, Andy Cowan, Tom Doyle, Danny Eccleston, Andy Fyfe, Pat Gilbert, Ian Harrison, Will Hodgkinson, David Hutcheon, Jim Irvin, James McNair, Andrew Male, Bob Mehr, Mark Paytress, Andrew Perry, Clive Prior, Ben Thompson, Victoria Segal, David Sheppard, Mat Snow, Steven Worthy
. It’s a beauty. And Chris Connor’s version of Lush Life [from 1954’s …Sings Lullabys For Lovers], which is one of my favourite songs. It moves in such a strange way. It was by Billy Strayhorn, and he was gay. It’s a song about the gay nightlife – “[sings] I used to visit all the very gay places…” – and that never occurred to me, until maybe a year ago. I also like . You ever seen a photograph of Chopin? Oh. My. God. A true star. He looks like he could eat a hundred wild animals. He looks ferocious. I like the French, very much: . And I like . I love her voice. It’s always good when people like the way an alto sounds, instead of those fuckin’ sopranos. We don’t need any more sopranos. Do you think Adele could do a good version of Lush Life? She could start really low. Write it down! Tell her!
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G N I V A W “You can’t fucking have bigger fucking waves!” Kate Bush films her studio tank segment for Before The Dawn, shortly before hypothermia set in.
FORTY YEARS INTO HER CAREER, KATE BUSH IS STILL LOOKING FOR FRESH WAYS TO EXHAUST HERSELF. BEFORE THE DAWN, HER RUN OF 22 LIVE SHOWS IN LONDON IN 2014, REQUIRED HER TO SING DANGLING IN COLD WATER, INTERACT WITH PUPPETS AND CONJURE A HURRICANE ON-STAGE. AND NOW THAT SHE HAS PREPARED A LIVE ALBUM SOUVENIR OF THE EVENT, COMES THE CHALLENGE OF BEING INTERVIEWED. “YOU DON’T KNOW IF PEOPLE WILL LIKE WHAT YOU DO,” SHE TELLS JIM IRVIN... “YOU NEVER DO.”
. .NOT DROWNING MOJO 81
ANUARYY 1978. I WAS 18, SHE WAS 19. OUR EYES MET IN A CRAMPED, yeasty-smelling record library in Osterley, west London. “Look,” I said, handing her a thick stack of postcards requesting that her debut single be played on UBN, the only British radio station ever to broadcast exclusively to biscuit factories, where I’d landed my ﬁrst music biz gig as junior DJ and playlist compiler. “All these are for your song.” “Wow,” she said, leaﬁng through the requests from Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and London, people packing custard creams, Jammie Dodgers and Penguins, people working in mailrooms and ofﬁces, each of them wanting to hear Wuthering Heights, which, ignoring the record label’s ofﬁcial February 1978 release date, United Biscuits Network had been playing for months. Her eyes sparkled. ““Amazing,” she said. footlights, went into a short, rocking set starting with Lily from The Red Shoes and building, via Running Up That Hill, to a rousing King Of The Mountain, at which point a ﬁgure appeared to whip up a hurricane and the stage dissolved into a seascape. Then we saw Kate, on screen, ﬂoating in water singing The Ninth Wave’s opening section, And Dream Of Sheep, the narrator’s reality on screen and her dreams on stage. Delightful headfuckery ensued as theatre, concert and ﬁlm entwined. There was a spectacular breaching of the fourth wall when a helicopter descended from the venue’s ceiling, a genuinely startling piece of theatre. And that was just Act One. After an intermission, A Sky Of Honey unfurled before our very eyes, a sun in the eaves of the Apollo’s proscenium, a faceless wooden child walking through the landscape and Kate’s own child, Albert McIntosh, portraying the painter who controls the setting sun and serenades the moon. Visual twists and enchantments kept on coming, the last being a full-size silver birch tree bursting suddenly through Kate’s piano as she sat down to sing encore Among Angels from 50 Words For Snow. The crowd’s singalong to the closing Cloudbusting was unforgettable. Someone should have turned on the sprinklers; to have it rain at that moment would have made it utterly perfect. We cheered Kate and The KT Fellowship to the echo. On the soundtrack album – ﬁnally released this month after two years of rumour – you can hear her startled reaction: “Oh my god!” You can sense months of work making sense in that moment.
“EVERYTHING WAS BIZARRE AT THAT TIME. BUT IT WAS VERY EXCITING.”
T’S THE LIVE ALBUM THAT BRINGS Kate back into MOJO’s orbit today. She’s agreed to be interviewed about the production and its recorded incarnation and after a few days’ postponement (she’s been suffering from an ear infection) it’s her unique tones that come spilling from the speakerphone. Kate Bush interviews, even sightings, are a rarity – she has refused face-to-face interrogations since the promo work for Aerial – and although she is warm and friendly, laughing frequently, her responses come with built-in wariness, as if any adjective more interesting than “interesting” might be too revealing. She’s adept at sidestepping enquiries that could touch upon anything personal and surprisingly unforthcoming on some topics. For example, I thought she’d chat enthusiastically about the show’s new song Tawny Moon, touchingly performed by her son, Bertie, who was credited as the show’s Creative Advisor, yet when I mention it, “After dusk was the moment to see the moon rising and have a song about it,” is her unedifying response. I press on.
And dream of biscuit factory radio DJs... Bush in the ﬁrst ﬂush of success, and (above) Wuthering Heights, the song that started it all: “I didn’t want to be a personality.”
©John Carder Bush
Because UBN had relayed the enthusiasm of our captive listeners to EMI, the station had secured Kate Bush’s ﬁrst ever radio interview – our hidden network a useful dry run for the more public stations. Frankly, it was rather stilted. She wasn’t, it seemed, a natural interviewee. Smaller and more delicate than her recorded voice suggested, but no less charismatic, she drifted through this early promotional outing looking slightly bemused. Someone touched her elbow to guide her towards the exit. She handed back the requests. “It’s a hit,” I said, nodding affirmatively, rather lost for words myself. “Wow,” she said again. The next time I was in a room with Kate Bush was 36 and a half years later, August 29, 2014, in the stalls of the Hammersmith Apollo theatre for the second night of Before The Dawn, a show that ran for just 22 performances, the ﬁrst run of live dates she had undertaken since her Tour Of Life in 1979 in the wake of the extraordinary success of her debut album, The Kick Inside. The crowd in the Apollo that night seemed giddy with anticipation. Apart from a few lucky souls who had perhaps witnessed the Tour Of Life, the odd charity gala or the appearance with David Gilmour, singing Comfortably Numb at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002, none had ever seen her perform, yet had adored her music for over 30 years or, in many cases by the look of them, all their lives. It’s hard to think of another ‘heritage’ act, with a comparably broad fanbase, who has appeared so rarely on stage. People had come from across the globe for this rare opportunity to experience that voice ﬁrst-hand. Before The Dawn centred around two fascinating suites of songs recorded roughly 20 years apart, each a crowning moment in her songbook. The Ninth Wave (from Hounds Of Love) concerns a woman lost at sea, dangling in the water from a lifejacket – its little light shining – desperate not to fall asleep and die of cold, daydreaming of her loved ones while she waits to be rescued. It is dark and bleak, with ﬂashes of hope as she summons images of her family and ﬁghts to stay alive. A Sky Of Honey (from Aerial), contrastingly, is a celebration of love, light and birdsong, an enigmatic painter encouraging the sunset and a couple who come together during a summer’s day and night. The conceit of the show was of a regular gig being blown apart and turned into a dreamworld. Kate and her band trucked on-stage and, after a tsunami of applause and affection had hit them across the
“I KNEW I WANTED TO START WITH LILY – THIS PRAYER OF PROTECTION THAT WOULD GO OUT INTO THE THEATRE.”
The Greatest Show On Earth: (top row, from left): outside the Hammersmith Apollo; Kate and dancers go Under Ice; the floating living room from Watching You Without
Did Bertie relish the opportunity? “I think he enjoyed it,” she says. So that clears that up. But ﬁrst I ask if she recalls being interviewed in a biscuit factor y just before Wuthering Heights dropped. “No, I don’t,” she laughs apologetically. “I thought it might have been bizarre enough to stick in your mind,” I say. “Everything was bizarre at that time,” she replies. “Did you know immediately that your life was never going to be the same again?” “No. You deal with stuff as it comes in, don’t you? It was such an intense time. But it was very exciting that it was being responded to in such an incredibly positive way. Because you just don’t know do you? You don’t know if people will like what you do, you never do.” Throughout your career you’ve been good at taking yourself away to ponder before coming back with something new. How soon did that become the rhythm for you? Well, there was deﬁnitely a point quite early on where I realised that, if I wasn’t careful, what was going to happen was I was going to be spending all my time promoting the work that I’d just done and not have time to work on what I had to do next. They’re two completely different worlds, obviously, on every level. And what was important to me was to create something artistically interesting, I didn’t want to be a personality. So I turned that around very quickly, so my time was being spent on the creative work. Because it’s all-consuming, doing some- thing creatively interesting, it’s a lot of work.
Rex (8), Getty, Famous (2)
What part did that play in your decision not to appear live for so long? Was that a promotional tool you could do without? No. I really enjoyed playing live. It was a lot of fun. But it was exhausting, really exhausting. At the time I thought I’d make another couple of albums and then do a new show working with all-new material. Then I started getting into the whole process of being a recording artist and that started to become very consuming, plus having to make visuals that went with it, it all veered into a slightly different path. It wasn’t really something that was designed, it just happened and it took me away from the whole idea of doing live work. So what tipped it then, in M as you wrote in the program The Dawn, you turned to yo Bertie and said, “Shall we d some live shows?” It’s hard to explain why. I’d go a point where I’d done two a very quickly, one after the ot [2011’s Director’s Cut and 50 W Snow] and I didn’t want to go make another album. So I tho maybe I should do some live (Laughs) That’s what happen
Deeper into A Sky Of Honey: (main pic and left) Kate’s son Bertie McIntosh paints the sunset; (above left) puppeteer Ben Thompson guides “Tesoro”, the artist’s mannequin.
“Oh my god!” Kate feels the opening night love, August 26, 2014; (above) an ensemble Cloudbusting; (opposite from left) Kate climbs towards safety while singing Hello Earth; designer Robert Allsop’s “Lords Of The Waves”.
I didn’t want to do the shows without Bertie because I thought he’d be a very valuable part of the process, which he was, and it needed to fall at a time that worked around his schedule [Bertie was only 16 when the shows took place] and that happened to be a good time for him. I thought the whole idea of putting a show together would be a lot of fun. Not that being in it would be fun; that was very frightening. But putting a show together was something I thought I could do. So you imagined it as a show rather than a series of gigs right from the start? Absolutely. I didn’t want to tour. It was a way to do a piece of theatre around those two conceptual pieces that were in opposition to each other. One, a really terrible story of a woman lost at sea, everything about it is like a nightmare, set at night, in darkness and totally in opposition to the other story, which is stepping through a summer’s day, golden light and a painter painting this day that’s occurring. I thought the contrasts would be very interesting visually. I really liked the idea of trying to move from what seemed to be a straight rock concert into a piece of theatre. And what I thought would be fascinating – which I’d not seen done before – was moving from obvious rock show, rhythmic lighting to theatrical lighting. You wrote that the ﬁrst two people you wanted to cast were the lighting designer and the drummer… Yes, the drummer [Omar Hakim] because he’s core to the band, core to the music, and lighting designer [Mark Henderson] because the show was going to be so heavily based on the nature of light, setting the atmosphere of those worlds: deep sea and a lovely afternoon. Having had the idea, who do you call, where do you start to look for a budget to produce something like this? The ﬁrst thing was the promoter, this extraordinary guy called Simon Moran [SJM Concerts] who had so much trust in me being able to come up with the goods, not having performed for an incredibly long time and he was wonderful, really supportive, really into the whole idea. He was the key person. What determined the length of the run? Was it what you thought you could manage in terms of stamina? (Laughs) No, it was just based on the block of time that was available.
Auteur! Auteur!: (from left) Bush with Lindsay Kemp in The Line, The Cross & The Curve (1994); backstage larks; performing The Dreaming (1982); Kate steps on her notes for the Rubberband Girl video, 1993.
oversee the whole show from the outside. Stepping into it was very difﬁcult. As we moved forward it was very important to have somebody else out there, especially once I stepped into it.
wanted to do for a while was a conceptual thing over a side of vinyl. When that song – And Dream Of Sheep – came in, it felt like it could go somewhere.
How far along did that happen? Well, I suppose I knew all along that I had to be in it.
Both pieces have pretty enigmatic story lines. Were you concerned about spoiling it for listeners who’d formed their own pictures and narratives over the years by putting them deﬁnitively on stage? No, I wasn’t (laughs).
But you were pretending you didn’t. Yes (laughs). What does that say about you, Kate? I’ve got no idea. What do you think it says? Maybe I don’t want to know. Someone who wants control, needs to delegate but can’t? Your career has been this mix of tremendous ﬂamboyance and tremendous privacy and both those things are totally required for it to work. Basically, I’m a storyteller, I like to try and tell a story, and that, although it’s coming from the inside, has a lot to do with standing outside the process. Does that make sense? So you expect people to be interested in the story not the teller? Yes.
Could you have done it for longer, then? Well the show got better and better. It had started to settle, I was certainly feeling more comfortable with it as a performer, but it was tiring. By the time we hit the ﬁrstt night we were exhausted!
When did you decide to bring a helicopter in? That was quite early.
Did you have to get yourself match ﬁt, take singing and movement lessons? No. There wasn’t time! The prep process was so incredibly intense, like trying to put an enormous jigsaw puzzle together.
Yes, and genuinely scary in the room. Scary is good!
Did you write any kind of script? I had two books, two folders with all my written ideas and pictures and I would take those to all the meetings. In the early stages we would have, say, a ﬁve-hour meeting about one part of the show, and we couldn’t go on to the second part because it was too intense. Gradually, as it got up and running, we could switch between the two parts of the show but it was overwhelming at times to have to switch between them because they were two such different worlds. Did you always intend to have a theatre director [Adrian Noble] involved? Early on I thought it would be really nice if I got someone else to be in it (laughs), then I could just 86 MOJO
A bold move, I thought… (Laughing) It was rather good wasn’t it?
I saw the show on the second night and it was a triumph, and I’ve never heard such love from an audience. Was it like that every night? Every night they were fantastic. You couldn’t have wished for more appreciative audiences. There was a different energy coming off them each night, but they were all so receptive. It was exciting and very moving, very touching. There wasn’t any separation, they came with us on that journey every night, do you know what I mean? We didn’t get any chance to do previews – which for something so complex was pretty daunting – we were straight out there and up and at ’em (laughs). Many of your songs are dense with narrative. When you came to write The Ninth Wave, what was it about that story that made you think it should be told over several songs? Hmm. I’m not sure really. But something I’d
Having given yourself the opportunity, did you render the songs on-stage exactly as you had originally visualised them or did you use ideas that others brought to the table that took them places you weren’t expecting? I think it’s a separate thing. When you visualise a song it doesn’t have any boundaries at all. When you’re putting together a show in a theatre you immediately have certain boundaries. And that’s good. Are you a natural collaborator? A natural collaborator…? (Considers) Well, as long as I have total creative control, yes (laughs).
HEN KATE BUSH HAS LET GUEST collaborators into her music it has often muddied the water, obscured the material’s strengths. Yet Before The Dawn brought so many disciplines together – ﬁlm, theatre, dance, illusion, puppetry, stonemasonry probably – collaboration was vital. The dialogue in the Ninth W Wave section was written by author and Bush fan David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, A Ghostwritten et al). An astronomer hears a distress signal from a stricken craft. The stranded woman’s husband and son discuss what’s for tea and wonder where mum’s got to. Then Kate, in spirit, is discovered behind a door and she sings Watching You Without Me. Cue lumps in throat. Also for The Ninth Wave, she was ﬁlmed ﬂoating, and singing, in a 20-foot water tank at Shepperton Studios. Co-directing for six hours in this position, while technicians sweated trying to make sure the vocal mikes wouldn’t get damaged by the water, being circled by teams of divers and aquaphobic make-up artists, Kate became increas-
THEATRE OF DREAMS LONG BEFORE BEFORE THE DAWN, KATE BUSH WAS MIXING MUSIC WITH VISUAL AND PERFORMING ART. “YOU COULD TELL SHE HAD BIG BALLS OF STEEL,” RECALLS PHOTOGRAPHER-COLLABORATOR GUIDO HARARI.
Guido Harari (5)
VEN BEFORE she became famous, Kate Bush had an unusually strong and playful sense of how to present herself visually. Thanks to childhood modelling sessions for her photographer brother John Carder Bush – in which she appeared as if a character in an Arthur Rackham illustration, or sometimes a junior member of The Incredible String Band – the future recording artist was already entirely comfortable in front of the lens. This penchant for dressing-up continued into the photo sessions with Gered Mankowitz for her early LPs: the leonine costume of Lionheart; the moody ’40s Hollywood star poses, and of course the dancer-in-leotard shapes which revealed her passion for performance, sparked in 1976 in the Covent Garden dance studio of Lindsay Kemp. “I remember very clearly the day that I ﬁrst encountered Kate,” recounts Kemp in his foreword to Italian photographer Guido Harari’s book, The Kate Inside. “I encouraged her to show me her spirit dancing. She was transported. At times she looked like a swan gliding over water. As the music swelled she let herself be swept away, twirling and leaping like a mad thing.” Bush’s deft performances made as strong an impression as her music in her early career – not least the dervish whirls of Wuthering Heights and the ambitious theatricality of Tour Of Life – and by 1982’s The Dreaming, with the ﬂailing dance tics of the Sat In Your Lap video, the singer’s choreography was strange and unsettling. Harari (a collaborator and
friend of Kemp’s) ﬁrst photographed Bush that year, when she performed the title track of her fourth album on Italian TV with dancers Douglas McNicol and Gary Hurst. “After the show they came back to the hotel in their shipwrecked astronaut gear and thick ethnic make-up,” says Harari. “Kate looked lovely and lively. Beautiful golden eyes, a big mane of henna’ed hair. She appeared self-assured and fearless on-stage and in her videos. Off-stage she was a quiet creature. But you could tell she had big balls of steel.” Bush and Harari, says the latter, seemed to be “psychically hooked” when it came to visual concepts. Thus in 1985 he was invited to Wickham Farm in Bexley, where she had ﬁnished work on Hounds Of Love, for a promotional shoot that would be more naturalistic than high-conceptual. “We didn’t have much verbal communication during the shoots,” says Harari. “I don’t recall lunch breaks. There was no music playing in the background to create any kind of mood. Our photo shoots were 12 or 15-hour-long marathons and we would shoot up to 10 different sets or more. It’s impossible to sustain your subject’s interest for such a long time, but we had quite a few very inspired moments.” As inspired, if gruelling, was the shoot for Bush’s 50-minute ﬁlm of songs from 1993’s The Red Shoes, The Line, The Cross And The Curve, for which Harari was on-set photographer. “Kate had given me total access on the set,” he remembers. “Since she had stopped performing in 1979, this was a unique opportunity to capture her in performance and also backstage, during breaks, in a ﬂy-on-the-wall
mode. She had a very special way of making everybody feel so comfortable working with her. There were so many pressures, many I had no idea of, like the fact her mother had just died. Plus, she was not only starring in the movie, but also directing. Not the easiest task, while making your ﬁrst movie.” For the project Bush casted Lindsay Kemp as a demented choreographer. In taking direction, Kemp was impressed by how his former student had turned master. “She was demanding, and rightly so,” he recalls. “On one occasion she told me off for being too slow, as ﬁlm directors have often done in the past. Slowness on stage can be magically time-warping, but less so on ﬁlm. Unlike Ken Russell however [Kemp appeared in Russell’s Savage Messiah in 1972], Kate didn’t accuse me of wasting ﬁlm.” In 2005, Bush dismissed the ﬁlm to MOJO as “a load of old bollocks!” Why does Harari feel she was so disappointed? “She’s always been a perfectionist and I don’t think she allowed for much time to shoot and then edit the ﬁlm,” he reasons. “She was completely focused on the project and would carry these huge notebooks ﬁlled with very precise notes and sketches. But I remember she rushed things a bit in order to take the ﬁlm to the London Film Festival. There are many great ideas in the ﬁlm, but it seems a bit disjointed here and there. She probably could’ve improved it with a little more time.” In some ways, The Line, The Cross And The Curve proved to be a dry run for the Before The Dawn shows 11 years later. “I saw the September 2 show and was absolutely blown away,” the photographer enthuses. “The musicianship, the choreography, the visuals, everything was absolutely state of the art. Just the idea of performing again after 35 years was mind-blowing. Talk about balls of steel…” Tom Doyle
“SHE APPEARED SO SELF-ASSURED AND FEARLESS ON-STAGE. OFF-STAGE SHE AS THIS QUIET CREATURE.” Guido Harari
For Deluxe and Collector editions of Harari’s book see the “Kate Inside” page in his Wall Of Sound Gallery website (www. wallofsoundgallery.com). Or go via http://www.wallofsoundgallery.com/en/the-kateinside-by-guido_harari/ the-kate-inside.php. Prices are 520 Euros for Deluxe, and 120 for Collector. Plus shipping.
ingly irritable. Someone mentioned they needed bigger waves. “You can’t have bigger fucking waves,” said Kate. “They go all over the fucking live vocal and they sound like a fucking bathroom, not the fucking ocean.” “But it doesn’t look right, we need bigger waves.” “You can’t fucking have bigger fucking waves!” That night Kate developed a temperature and the following morning a ﬂu-like fever. Her doctor told her by phone that she was suffering from mild hypothermia and to only go into the water for two hours at a time on the next day of shooting. “It was the ﬁrst time in all my years of nutty ideas that I really questioned my sanity,” Kate admitted in the notes for the show. Why did you want to use ﬁlm? I love ﬁlm so much. You can never tell if it’s going to work, but it seemed such a good idea, that interaction, the ﬁlm of her reality, while her dreams take place on-stage. Did it seem such a good idea when you were getting hypothermia in a tank in Pinewood? Yeah, it was a difﬁcult shoot.
Hadn’t anyone ﬂagged that up, that it might be physically taxing? Hmm, well if you’re trying to do something a bit different it’s going to be difﬁcult on some level. What was key, for me, wasn’t so much the being in the water but the idea that, hopefully, being in the water and singing live would transmit a sense of the very difﬁcult environment that the woman ﬁnds herself in. And that was very challenging technically. It was a real achievement on that level. It’s such an horriﬁc scenario isn’t it? Absolutely terrifying, and it needed to feel like there was some real struggle involved. May I admit that I’m still not too sure, even after seeing the show, whether she actually survives or not. Yes, funny that. I always felt it was very clear in my mind, but having seen the show I was hoping that would now be very clear and you’re saying it’s not. Yes. Does she survive? I can’t bear it any longer. The problem is there was ﬁlmed material that showed her being rescued but because people were watching me being carried off down the aisle they didn’t see the rescue on ﬁlm. I wondered if she was dreaming she was being rescued, or being lifted dead from the water. Maybe I shouldn’t say. Maybe we should keep it a secret. I know several people who came away none the wiser. (Laughs) I think that’s rather good.
© John Carder Bush
I gather the ﬁrst set design you worked on was the living room with the father and son. Why begin there? In a way it was the only contact with reality that she had. That was home, her one glimmer of hope, that was what she was hanging on for. It made sense to start with that. They’re very casual about her being late home, as if she comes over the ocean every night. What kind of job does this woman have?! Did you construct a back story? There were all kinds of ideas. Originally that didn’t seem so important. She could have been a marine biologist or something. A working mum anyhow!
When you were picking the songs for the opening part of the show what criteria were you using? I knew that I wanted to start off with Lily because I wanted the whole thing to begin with this prayer of protection that would go out into the theatre. Which felt like a powerful way to start the show. They needed to be band-orientated, very ‘up’, not breaking off to do a piano and vocal. We did originally have an extra song, Never Be Mine [reinstated on the live album], and we had to take that out because the show was running too long. So that whole section became more compressed, more grungy. King Of The Mountain was pivotal; it provided the transition into The Ninth Wave, and I wanted to get this idea that it would start out normally like the other tracks and then turn into this whirlwind. Did the show achieve everything you set out to achieve? Yes, in the sense that it stood up as a piece of theatre. I’m very glad that we did it. A really extraordinary team, extraordinary energy running through the whole thing. Sometimes when I’ve started projects you get obstacles that slow or stop you, you do with any creative project, it’s all about struggle, but with this it was almost like all the lights were green, it was very unusual the way that the team came together and it all fell into place. The doors weren’t shut as we tried to move forward. Very unusual. I thought the show was so theatrically strong that it could exist in its own right, be something you could franchise out: the Kate Bush musical. Have you ever considered that? No, no. How did it work compiling the album? Did it take a long time listening to all the versions and picking the best stuff? I don’t think I really want to talk about that side of it because I think it rather spoils it. A lot of art is a bit like a magic trick and it’s good not to dissect too much, not to kill the frog! [In the CD notes Kate writes: ”Nothing at all has been re-recorded or overdubbed on this live album, just two or three sound FX added to help with the atmosphere.”] Is there going to be a DVD as well? It was ﬁlmed, after all… It was ﬁlmed. And it has been archived. But there are no current plans to bring out a DVD. I think that the CD is, in a way, much more representative of being at the shows than a DVD. When you’re at a live show it’s the whole experience of sitting there in an audience, you can scan the stage, choose where to look, it’s completely different from ﬁlm. Obviously it was such a visual experience, a visual delight, it would be a shame to lose that. Well, I dunno, there might be something at some point, but there’s certainly no plans at the moment. I want to very much move on and do something new. I’d like to do something (pregnant pause)… new! (Laughs.) Do you know what yet? (Emphatically) No.
HATEVER SHE ATTEM next, Bush is aware that music business she is return to, however tangentially, with thi lease, has changed radically from one she entered 40 years ago. asked if she could handle the scrutiny and access required to former in 2016, were she to lau today, she says, reasonably enou
“AM I A NATURAL COLLABORATOR...? WELL, AS LONG AS I HAVE TOTAL CREATIVE CONTROL, YES.” MOJO 89
THEROOMWOBBLEABIT” HOW AUTHOR DAVID MITCHELL HELPED TURN THE NINTH WAVE INTO A COUP DE THEATRE. As a fan, what’s your history with The Ninth Wave?
I ‘acquired’ my brother’s cassette of Hounds Of Love when it came out in 1985. When I was living in Japan I bought it on CD and discovered it sounded even better in 2000. I loved The Ninth Wave’s juxtapositions of style and mood: from dreamy to sinister, from ﬂuid choral to nightmarish ritual, from climactic to subdued, from despair to hope. I played it a lot when I was writing at night, hoping some of its sonic atoms might attach themselves to my second novel, whose chapters I thought of, self-ﬂatteringly, as tracks. How did you understand the narrative? I thought then (and think now) that it treads that ﬁne line between too much and too little. We know a woman’s in danger of drowning, we know she’s revisiting her past; but we don’t know for sure if , like William Golding’s Pincher Martin, what’s happening to her is what goes on in a drowning person’s brain. What was the process of your getting involved in Before The Dawn? In 2010 I wrote about Kate Bush for The Guardian’s My Hero column. A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from Kate to thank me. The call made the room wobble a bit. A year or two after that, she asked if I’d meet for a discreet conversation about an upcoming project... How did the scenes you wrote come together? ‘Watching Them Without Her’ – the father and son scene – came ﬁrst. When we met, Kate told me what she was after, and provided a couple of pages of ideas for dialogue. I wrote character sketches for the father and son, thinking about who these people were, how they might speak. Kate and I then bounced this back and forth to each other by email a few times – more than ﬁve, less than 10. The ‘Astronomer’s Call’ and the short distress call fragment came later, and were written the same way. What was your overall response to the show? The show was one of the best things I’ve seen in my life. I remember it vividly two years later and I think I always will. It established that Kate Bush is an interpreter of life, the heart and the imagination. She’s a major British artist of our time, and probably beyond our time. As far as you are concerned, does ‘she’ live, does she drown? Is the rescue a dream? I think the woman lives. Drowning is too emo, too Ophelia, too easy. The last track, The Morning Fog, has too much light and air to be a watery grave.
Do you ever get intimations of mortality and wonder about your legacy? Oh my god, what a terrible question! What I mean is, as an artist you don’t want the work you leave to be devalued when you go… I don’t want it to be devalued when I’m alive! And that seems to be a big struggle nowadays, to be honest. The recording business is very difﬁcult to deal with on some levels, because music is being continually devalued. You have to ﬁght for your music not to be treated as a disposable item. Music is an important part of people’s lives – when I had time to listen to lots of albums I really treasured that. Is making a record a futile exercise nowadays? Oh dear, don’t say that. I think that the album is a great art form. When they’re good it’s a very special thing. Making a good one is hard. God forbid there’s ever a time when no one can afford to make an album. Recorded music is special. I would love to think I could continue to make albums. I hope each project is distinct from the one before. That’s very important to me, not making the same album over and over. I’m always trying to tread new territory. Joni Mitchell says she only had one equal and that was Dylan. A bold claim… Coming from anyone else that might be construed as arrogant, but coming from her… Do you place yourself in any kind of lineage? No. (Pause) Isn’t it great that Dylan got the Nobel Prize?! Yes. I don’t know why anyone’s surprised. I think it’s absolutely brilliant. He deserves it. He totally blew open the gates for pop lyricists. He’s a poet, isn’t he? Him and Paul Simon are the great pop poets. Are the words easy or hard for you? Erm. I don’t think they’re that hard. Sometimes the music is harder. They have to dance hand in hand, that’s the thing. I love the way you drop conversational phrases into your songs that might seem banal written down, but have tremendous power when you hear them sung. I’m thinking of Moments Of Pleasure, where you just describe little things people have said or done – “spinning in the chair at Abbey Road” – but the cumulative weight is really moving. Do you enjoy exploring the poetry of the everyday?
A song has a huge advantage over a piece of poetry. A song’s words can fall very differently from a word in a poem. The accompaniment of melody allows it to have extra weight or to lighten it. You’ve got two strings, if you know what I mean. There can be tremendous power in what would seem to be the ordinary, that’s what we deal with all the time. But, in a way, we’re also always looking for something that’s a little bit other than the ordinary, and that’s really what it always comes back to. Are you always looking for new ways to express what you want to say or do you think you have a style that you understand and that you’re reﬁning throughout your work? Hmm, I don’t know, because every time I start a new project it always feels like I’ve never done it before. Am I going to be able to come up with anything? And then, once you start working, it’s what comes in, isn’t it? If anything comes through that feels like something I’ve done before I don’t pursue it, because I’m looking for something new. The more you work on something the more it takes on its own identity. I’m not sure I have any devices that I use. How do songs arrive to you these days – the same way they always have? I don’t know, because I haven’t written anything for quite a while! But you trust they will come when they’re ready? No, because when I sit down to start I don’t know if anything will come. Would you like to do something like Before The Dawn again? It was incredibly exciting but it was incredibly hard work, really a lot of work. You say that as if you’re surprised, but surely everything you’ve ever done has been hard work, hasn’t it? You’ve said as much today. Yes. (Laughs) Well it has, and each time I think, This won’t be too difﬁcult. I knew that this was going to be a lot of work because it was ambitious and I hadn’t performed for such a long time. I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning, because each project obviously has its own challenges, but they all seem to be very difﬁcult to make. Apart from 50 Words For Snow, w which was the easiest album I’ve ever made and that was very much to do with the fact that it was straight off the back of Director’s Cut. I was still in that mode, if you like. The title Director’s Cutt implies the material wasn’t in your control to begin with, but it was. So what could you do on that record that you couldn’t do originally to those songs? Look back on them. Ideally you’d take a big break before you start mixing… there was always a sense that my work was never… It takes me a long time, so it’s always, Let’s get it done, let’s get it done. Director’s Cutt was very important for me because if I hadn’t done that I’m not sure I would have done these shows. It allowed me to revisit the work, to reinterpret, for example, with drums instead of drum machine – and it was so exciting working with [drummer] Steve Gadd – somehow it allowed me to re-enter those tracks, reconnect with the work. It’s not easy to put into words. The work is a continually evolving process for me. If I hadn’t made The Dreaming, hadn’t taken the step to produce that record, Hounds Of Love would never have happened, or been what it was. Whatever you do opens a door to something in the future. On behalf of your fans, may I say we look forward to enjoying whatever lies behind the next door. Well, thank you so much. Bye bye. M
She’s behiiiind you! The Watching You Without Me scene from Before The Dawn.
no idea,” but adds that ial media is “not really ething that appeals to me. king up stories is what I like do. I don’t think I’m particuy interesting.” Her thirst for stories means t when she relaxes at home s often with a movie. She es that she resents the trailthat give the game away, and cial media, again, when it aves nothing to the imaginan” and spoils a surprise. I ask she’s heard any music she and she mentions David r (see page 72), which brings up the subject of the number of musical heroes who’ve recently passed away. Stupidly, I omit to ask her about Prince, whom she worked with, but it makes me wonder if she’s made plans for the afterlife.
YOUR GUIDE TO THE MONTHâ€™S BEST MUSIC. EDITED BY JENNY BULLEY
ALBUMS s s s s s
108 REISSUES s s s s
120 BOOKS s s
122 SCREEN s
124 LIVES s s
AND IT WAS YELLO, SAYS IAN HARRISON. SEE LIVES PAGE 126
RATINGS & FORMATS MC
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Shake Your Hips As the Stones reclaim the blues, Paul Trynka ﬁnds their frontman in inspirational form. Illustration by Vince McIndoe.
The Rolling Stones
Blue And Lonesome POLYDOR. CD/DL/LP
t takes a superhuman imagination to remember the distant days when playing the blues was dangerous. And perhaps the Stones are a superhuman band, for there are moments in this collection of blues covers when the years fall away, and the music sounds not like a cashcow, but a message from another dimension. And let’s not forget, this was another dimension. When Brian Jones and Mick Jagger introduced Howlin’ Wolf to white America on Shindig!, in May 1965, this was a moment that trailblazed an epic societal change. For it was a full three months later, in August, that black Americans from Wolf’s native Mississippi gained the right to vote. It was this inspired, inexplicable identification with a struggling, overlooked population that powered the early Stones, hot-wiring their electrifying debut album. It’s a shock that the magic should be there, once the upstarts have turned elder statesman; a bigger shock, still, is that it’s Mick Jagger – not always celebrated for his emotional contribution to Rolling Stones music – who taps into something timeless and poignant. Don’t abandon all your preconceptions, though. For decades now, blues covers have been a staple of dully competent, forgettable bar bands, and this album has its share: for instance the unspectacular opener, Just Your Fool – your archetypal fast-paced 12-bar, with almost every element, the turnaround, walking bass, uptempo shuffle, that you’ve heard a million times before. It doesn’t have the grace to be awful, just predictable. When the Stones started out, they were inexpert: their versions of Little Red Rooster or I Just Want To Make Love To You were thrilling because they were struggling to achieve the sound in their heads. Now they’re not struggling – which means the edge, the unpredictability, emanates from that unexpected source: everyone’s favourite hobo, Sir Michael Jagger, who steps to the BACK STORY: fire three songs in, and dominates BLUES WITH thereafter. A FEELING The song where it all lifts off is G Blue And Lonesome, the the title track. It’s the best noise Stones’ first studio album since 2005, grew out of a the Stones have made in decades: break during the band's spiky, scrubbed guitar shards attempt to record new cascade in via the right-hand material. The title track, recorded as a kind of speaker from its arrestingly “palate-cleanser”, grew scrunchy, punky opening, while into an album of blues Jagger’s voice fills the centre stage. covers, songs from the band’s heroes including As if for the first time you marvel Little Walter (pictured at what a thing his voice is: above), Jimmy Reed and distinctly white, bending notes Otis Rush. Produced by Don Was, the album also almost in a bel canto style, perhaps features friend and rival a vestige of his youthful fascination Eric Clapton on two songs. with Elvis, so utterly English and so
KEY TRACKS G G G
Blue And Lonesome Hoodoo Blues Little Rain
“IT’S THE BEST NOISE THE STONES HAVE MADE IN DECADES.”
uniquely his own. When Jagger fakes a bluesman’s howl, he seems to do so in full knowledge and pride of the fakery… this is the Pot Noodle of blues, he seems to tell us, and you want it more than the real thing. He squeezes notes, strangles them – yet not for one nanosecond does he ever over-emote. It’s mesmerising, uncanny, and so effervescently inspired it might even make cynics forgive the hagiographic sleevenotes and descriptions of how Jagger and Richards discovered R&B without a single mention of the band’s blues purist and co-founder, Brian Jones. Jones’s distinctive slide guitar sound is sorely missed on, say, Everybody Knows About My Good Thing, where Eric Clapton turns in a tame interpretation – although, again, Jagger’s singing lifts it above the mundane. By contrast, Keith Richards seems strangely subdued on many tracks – there’s rarely a hint of the elliptical, minimal textures of his best solo work – but when it comes, it’s scintillating. Little Rain, especially, is taut and thrilling; haunting twin guitars frame a sparse soundscape, a bleak meditation that again is as good as anything the Stones have done since the ’60s. There’s a moment when Charlie Watts hits a crash cymbal, and the rhythm quivers and stops for a heartbeat, that effortlessly evokes a similar judder in their version of Honest I Do. You genuinely feel the years roll back. There’s also a touching return to the blues style of Nashville’s Excello label, long championed by the Stones, in the form of Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester’s Hoodoo Blues. The original is a crazed, minimalist classic, which the Stones amp up exactly like The White Stripes beefed up Son House’s Death Letter Blues: a simple beat, a single idea, and there’s no attempt made to tidy it up orr to craft it into an epic. Rather, it’s tiny, claustrophobic. You can see the wiring, the tool-marks, how they glued it all together, and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s those three songs, Blue And Lonesome, Hoodoo Blues and Little Rain, that evoke the transformational quality of the Stones’ original breakthrough: that a music which transcended its origins in a Jim Crow era could speak anew with an English accent. That it happened in the ’60s is still astonishing. That you can still hear this process today is simply magical. Three, of course, is the magic number, but not a large one. It’s disappointing that there aren’t one or two more inspiring moments, especially when there’s a roughly equivalent number of duds. The most glaring example is the song they sign off with: I Can’t Quit You Baby. Otis Rush’s original helped kick off the Brits’ obsession with West Side Chicago blues – jagged, supremely minimal, with a haunting quality that embodies the life of its inspirational, troubled composer. This version is ponderous, over-literal and so obviously transmutes gold into lead that you wonder how it possibly made the cut. Hopefully, Otis Rush will feel that the royalties outweigh the presumption. Still, magic is not transactional, not negated by the prosaic. Hearing the Stones tap once more into the power of the simple and unadorned, with a singer whose voice has, if anything, improved over the years, gives hope that the self-proclaimed Biggest Band In The World will rememberr to think small.
Anyone for tea? Tasseomancy enjoy horsing around.
to recreate that buzz on record and Giorgio Moroder’s comeback spluttered like a faulty glitterball. Perhaps with this in mind, French dance veteran Marc Cerrone is leaving nothing to chance, creating exactly the sort of album you’d expect from him, all synths and sophistication. Red Lips has plentiful collaborations, with those from left-of-centre often providing the highlights: Tony Allen’s drumming on 2nd Chance is fabulous; Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor adds beguiling blankness to Steal Your Love. Rodgers, of course, is not far away, with his quicksilver playing throughout. Aloe Blacc swaggers with a charming insouciance on C’est Bon, which is an accurate description of Red Lips itself. Daryl Easlea
Happy Rabbit LOST BOY. CD/DL/LP
Norwegian triple Grammy winner in peak form. “This music would not have been made if it wasn’t for…” Happy Rabbit’s sleevenotes list 43 artists, of which The Beach Boys, ELO, Queen, The Divine Comedy and Ron Sexsmith are most pertinent to Thomas Helland’s plangent craft (less so Kate Bush and Tom Waits). In other words, wistful elegance in the key of baroque, rooted in piano and long, languorous vocal notes. His eighth album in 12 years could be a case of quality sacrificed to quantity, but practice continues to make perfect – and there are 14 songs here, without chaff. The lullaby title track and When I Was A Child – replete with bursts of twin-guitar flame – are inspired by his new-born son, but Helland was a romantic to begin with: here are tracks named Joy And Happiness (creamy choir reverie) and (candlelit ballad) Need Your Love, and The Voyage Home, a blissful nine-minute finale. Martin Aston
HOT CASA. CD/DL/LP
The voodoo beats keeps on coming. Pure African funk of a sort not enough of the 1970s originals ever managed to turn into a convincing full-length LP, the second album by Peter Solo’s Lyon-based outfit is dance-
floor dynamite. The Togo-born bandleader takes the vocal harmonies from his homeland’s vodun rites and melds them to the similar trance elements he found in funk, soul and gospel – on Lonlon, he channels the spirit of Otis; Natural Vaudou is straight-up JB – then lets the groove take over. Horns and keyboards jump between stabs of Ethiopia (Don’t Go) and the Cuban riffs (On Se Pousse) that inspired Mali and Senegal to develop their own regional variants in the 1960s. If that doesn’t sound like the most original package of all time, rest assured that just makes it all the better for your feet to find the beat. David Hutcheon
#### Do Easy
BELLA UNION. CD/DL/LP
Spirited Canadian twins get the magick vibes down to a ‘tea’. Inspired by The Discipline Of Do Easy – William Burroughs’s philosophy of taking the calmest, simplest way – Tasseomancy’s third album moves with a deceptively breezy sway. Twins Romy and Sari Lightman (also of Austra) didn’t name their musical project after the art of tea-leaf divination for nothing, though: beneath the gauzy drift of synthesizers and sighs, the sisters seem unsettlingly watchful, alert to tiny shifts and portents. Gentle Man and Missoula’s oracular chants drowse on the edge of visionary rapture, while the title track seems to have found its own cosmic portal, soft-whip sounds of sea, saxophone and steel drums creating a kind of tropical Avalon, a beach party hosted by Bat For Lashes and Let’s Eat Grandma. “We’re thinking of never coming back,” they sing on Eli, a declaration that seems as much invitation as plan, and one that’s irresistible. Victoria Segal
The Dean Ween Group
This way for a 1980s dance-pop homage.
The Deaner Album
Diana’s 2013 Perpetual Surrenderr was originally a one-off studio album jolly for Toronto trio Joseph Shabason (sax, synths), Kieran Adams (drums, synths) and Carmen Elle (guitar, vocals); then they toured, and now they’ve reprised the quintessential ’80s motherlode that first fired them. And this time, they’re committed. If Perpetual Surrender had elements of woozy, chillwave, Familiar Touch is full-scale yacht-rock so cation, with honed cho hooks and silken arrang ments rippling with pre curves, as though mine Fairlight and Synclavier instruction manuals. Th blurb mentions Annie L Jam & Lewis, Prefab Spr and Yellow Magic Orch heady company that Di fall slightly behind, lack the same maverick touc it’s perhaps a little too planned, and unruffled opening pair Confessio What You Get – and late the shimmering Cry – a proof of what Diana do very well: a confection dancefloor perfection. Marti
Red Lips BECAUSE MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
French veteran still lo good on the dancefloo At the t Daft Pu legitimi disco w 2013’s Random Access Memories, respec for their ancestors seemed overdue. In its wake, while Nile Rodge (and Chic) continue to s out shows, they have ye
Ween mouthpiece straps on that Jammypac again. Genre-eating Pennsylvanian humourists Ween played a few shows Stateside in 2016 but have otherwise been dormant since 2011, while Gene Ween (né Aaron Freeman) is reputedly in recovery. His fictional ‘bro’ Dean (aka Mickey Melchiondo) has kept an equally low profile, but
John Hassall And The April Rainers
Wheels To Idyll VAM. CD/DL/LP
Libertines bassman dispenses dulcet psychpop on solo debut. P h
bid to escape of life with John Hassall the relative othenburg, company of Our Lives stafsson to -player of lody-soaked p that easily satz acid-pop r Control or Spinal Tap’s ower People. ere are inspired rneys to the his gran, which very rock’n’roll, e of tracks do r on the side y sweetness – ch sugarcube, ough acid hit. assall’s tuneess rarely fires, and e homely, ostalgic charms the whimsilly folky Julie ly, the trippedt Mosey rough My nd and the gling chug Given Time hich could ily pass for a mitive Buffalo Springfield groover) never Voodoo you wear out their think you are? welcome. Vaudou Game Stevie Chick will get your feet dancing.
here breaks cover effectively fronting Ween’s touring band, supplanting Gene with three surviving P-Funk guitarists who solo liberally over downand-dirty tunes like Mercedes Benz, and the vintageFunkadelic-esque Doo Doo Chasers. Elsewhere, the Group expertly walk the homage/ pastiche divide in all areas of classic rock: Southern boogie for Bundle Of Joy’s portrait of a Kenny Powers-style “bad motherfucker”, floaty Santanaisms on Garry, and so forth. Gum reprises early Ween’s tinpot infantilism (“I like gum, all kinds of gum”). Indeed, any fears that ‘Deaner’ may have matured during his absence are summarily nipped in the bud by the most puerile collection of ditties since, well, Ween. Andrew Perry
What became of forever? The seemingly indestructible Libertine is finally feeling mortal. By Andrew Perry.
CLOUDS HILL/BMG. CD/DL/LP
THE PETE Doherty of mid-’00s tabloid infamy, glassy-eyed and sweating, was not a likely candidate to be still making albums in 2016. Yet, here he serves up his eighth in the 14 years since The Libertines’ Up The Brackett – a solid work-rate, by any stretch. Where the Libs channel his punchier songcraft, and Babyshambles allows him to be more free-form, one might imagine his self-attributed records to be sketchy, indulgent, incoherent. Far from it: like 2009’s Grace/Wastelands, this second solo outing is all about tight tunes, minimally instrumented, with affectingly open-hearted lyrics – respite, perhaps, from the exhausting narrative of his frictional co-writing with Carl Barât. In early 2016, with Libs reunion operations intermittently ongoing, Doherty filled a scheduling gap by turning up at a day’s notice at Clouds Hill Recordings in Hamburg, and residing there for the ensuing six months. There, he wrote and recorded Hamburg Demonstrations, hiring the studio/label’s head-honcho producer, Johann Scheerer, and a pool of associated Deutsche musos, who provide a loose combo backdrop for their leader’s starry, Romantic flights of fancy. A recurrent theme is a fear of mortality: in opener Kolly Kibber, Doherty declares his unwillingness to expire like that character in Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock – a stealthy figure, whom newspaper readers are enlisted to track down in exchange for prize money (echoes of Pete’s time with Kate Moss, surely), but who gets “thrown from the ghost train, into the beautiful briny sea”. Exactly what Doherty’s saying is possibly encrypted in a second verse sung in indecipherable German, but the inexplicable magic this volatile character can weave becomes more than apparent at 2:15, as the lurching chorus gives way to a spine-tinglingly pretty breakdown, where female backing singers coo Kibber’s name, launching our hero towards his comically escapist resolve to “have a skinful, and sing Knees Up Mother Brodie!” And that’s just the first number. Further on, a warmer (and slightly retitled) take on his heartwrenching lament for Amy Winehouse, Flags From The Old Regime, is equally packed with intrigue. As on last year’s funereally orchestrated single version, Doherty seems to unveil what he glimpsed within the toweringly beehived chanteuse’s soul, during a legendary hard drugs binge at her Camden crash-pad circa 2008 (just Google ‘doherty winehouse mice’). Chillingly, given her tragic passing in 2011, he croons about how “They made your fortune, but
you broke inside”, and duly worries, “How’re you gonna stand up there in front of the whole wide world, when you don’t feel them songs no more?” Here, the pair’s bender extends to a sixth night, leaving a plausibly tired-and-emotional Doherty to mumble, “I don’t want to die in the shower”. Once heard, it’s hard not to think of Flags… when confronted with images of the lost-looking Amy in her final days. At the other extreme, Hell To Pay At The Gates Of Heaven rousingly meditates on the notion of fighting for your beliefs. “C’mon boys, you gotta choose your weapon/J-45 or AK-47?” runs the Clash-y refrain – guitar or gun? Band or army? Such was Doherty’s response to last November’s Bataclan terror attack, remarkably focused in its commitment to self-expression over violence, with a palpable undertow of apocalyptic fear. Also aboard are some lovely love songs: Libs-watchers will celebrate the official appearance of much-bootlegged She Is Far,
the touching acoustic closer, which he penned in his teens, and is accordingly lit up by lurid images of moving to the capital. Again, though, in keeping also with his contributions to 2015’s Libertines album, Anthems For Doomed Youth, it almost has the mood of a eulogy for a wayward sweetheart, whom he excuses “for every single dirty magazine”. Flourishing with fabulously heartbroken lines like “All those rivers underneath the city flow with tears”, Doherty is emerging as a master of weepie balladry, where even London’s sewers come up smelling of roses. Detractors might point to his reliance on pre-Libs compositions, and the two versions of I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone) – one hauntingly orchestral, the other straightup electric – as an indicator of creative bankruptcy. In truth, though, you come away from Hamburg Demonstrations only further assured of the breadth and indestructibility of Doherty’s talent.
hypnotic/motorik rhythms and unavoidably utopian intimations of sunlit, glasstowered cities and dreamy, above-the-clouds glide paths. Opener Melts Into Air sets the tone with its simple, languid beats, aerated production and a beguiling lead synth melody that seems to have always existed – imagine Kraftwerk’s Neon Lights recast as a blissed-out Ibiza come-down anthem and you’re in the vicinity. After that, there’s really no let up, and while The Magic In You and New Days Starts At Dawn add hazy, vaguely a-ha-recalling vocals, the glinting, all-enveloping assault never abates. David Sheppard
Before The Dawn
FISH PEOPLE. CD/DL/LP
A Christmas gift from The KT Fellowship: 2014’s historic stage return on 2-CD or 4-LP.
Bedfordshire-Lancs psychfolk quartet wield Thor’s hammer on third LP.
All live albums are by definition incomplete: if people went to concerts just to listen, notions of performance would never have developed. So it feels perverse for a show as elaborately staged and painstakingly choreographed as Before The Dawn (puppets; helicopter; on-screen heroine floating in the ocean) to be represented without visuals, even though it was filmed. At least the 75,000 or so fortunate enough to get tickets for Kate Bush’s 22-date Hammersmith Apollo residency can stoke their memories of what was a unique theatrical experience. In the absence of a DVD, everyone else has these 150 minutes of music and their imagination. Maybe that’s the point – even audio-only, this is a lavish sensory banquet, its three acts sequenced so the best-known material is dispatched early, before the meditative conceptual setpieces The Ninth Wave and A Sky Of Honey tap profound emotional reserves, with Kate’s 16-year-old son Bertie to the fore. “I will always remember this,” she says, after the valedictory singalong through Cloudbusting summons a final outpouring of love from her audience. Before The Dawn is glorious and confounding – in other words, pure Kate. Keith Cameron
The sleeve art is straight outta Middle Earth: sombre warrior and runic script. Likewise, Ruins’ content sees Wolf People targeting their primordial riff filigrees more unequivocally than before. Any nostalgia for the gentler pastorales of 2010’s debut Steeple is compensated both by the heightened viscera – sustain-heavy twin-guitar whirlwinds and drums clattering like hell-bound mares – and the fact that the band’s bucolic thread is correspondingly stronger also. Thus, Night Witch’s scorchedretina thrills give way to errant chorister Jack Sharp’s incantation (“Delivering death wherever I go, as graceful and quiet as snow”) and thence the twice-reprised Kingfisher, a potent conflation of The Battle Of Evermore and More Than A Feeling. As with Black Sabbath or Pentangle, there’s a palpable connection to their country’s dread history that allows Wolf People to transcend their music’s fantasy elements, while still being properly fantastic. Keith Cameron
James Chance & The Contortions
Just... Fabulous Rock’n’Roll SONY. CD/DL/LP
Solid ’50s covers by the UK’s most enduring hitmaker. Anyone who’s seen the surviving clip of a 19-year-old Cliff on the Oh Boy show in ’59, deploying his finest Elvis moves on a cracking rendition of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s Turn Me Loose, will welcome this, a new LP of pure ’50s material. Sensibly, no one is trying to re-invent the wheel here, but the band swings like a barn door in a high wind, and the man himself, now 76, still has a voice that can very much deliver the goods. Following on from his 2013 covers album, Rip It Up, he stays in the same groove, with a powerhouse version of Little Richard’s She’s Got It, and an assured re-tooling of (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame. Still, for all the up-tempo songs, the highlight is probably the stripped-down and soulful rendition of Sam Cooke’s debut hit, You Send Me. Max Décharné
SCRIPTED REALITIES. CD/DL/LP
TRUE GROOVE. CD/DL/LP
Six years in the making, No Further Ahead Than Today’s 10, chromium-smooth synth-pop essays are so meticulously, lavishly and mellifluously constructed that listening to them is like being dosed up with dopamine, after which time is required to sit back and meditate upon the inexorable procession of, by turns, soaring and glacial keyboard melodies,
James ‘Chance’ Siegfried has been a lesserspotted late’70s NYC avantmusic avatar in recent years, but working with guitarist/True Groove CEO
No Further Ahead Than Today Fourth set of deluxe, escapist electronica from gifted German sound sculptor.
The Flesh Is Weak
Belated return for veteran no wave pioneer and cronies.
Tomás Doncker on the 35th anniversary reissue of the Contortions’ influential 1979 debut Buyy in 2014 seems to have reinvigorated the once pugilistic sax-blowing, vocal cord-shredding frontman. Hence The Flesh Is Weak, k which features Doncker but is light on original band members, finds Chance in sporadically angsty form on a mixture of old and new Contortions tracks, alongside pointedly wonky covers of I Who Have Nothing and Gil Scott-Heron’s Home Is Where The Hatred Is. Proffering a familiar composite of sax skronk, hopped-up guitar and Chance’s wounded-soulmeets-hipster-shriek vocals, the spiky, pawky title track (“I have esoteric taste/Wasted on the masses”) successfully revisits the original Contortions’ Ornette Colemanmeets-James Brown art-funk blueprint, even if elsewhere age has rounded off Chance’s sharper edges. David Sheppard
Peace Trail WARNERS. CD/DL/LP/CASS/PONO
The great protest continues. It seems that Neil Young has well and truly entered a phase
Goodnight City PIAS. CD/DL/LP
Folk scion’s raw and intimate fourth studio album. “I used to do a lot of blow,” sings Martha Wainwright on Around The Bend, “now I only do the show.” Wry and sung without regret, it’s a suitable opener for a meticulouslyarranged downbeat set in which her distinctive vocals sit centre stage. With half the album written by a supporting cast that includes tUnE-yArDs, Glen Hansard, Beth Orton, Martha’s brother Rufus and, on Piano Music, lyrics by Booker Prize-winning author Michael Ondaatje, Wainwright nevertheless manages to make the songs her own. Her family have always been adept at documenting their folk dynasty, and both the Carly Simon-esque Franci and Francis concern her two-yearold son while referencing the passing of late mother Kate McGarrigle. Further high points come in the delicate jazz stylings of Before The Children Came Along and the more contemporarysounding Take The Reins, written by Merrill Garbus. Here is a career unfurling at its own sweet pace. Ben Myers
Spirit still willing: sax maniac James Chance blows hard.
where the message is much more important than the medium. After Earth’s somewhat bizarre mixture of live performance and insect noises, Peace Trail finds Young playing half developed riffs while famed drummer Jim Keltner kicks around some dustbins and Paul Bushnell does his level best on bass to follow whatever melody he can locate. None of which is the point of Peace Trail. Spurred into action by the protestors on North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation, who are attempting to halt a pipeline that is destroying their sacred land, Young rails against corporate greed, post-truth politics, gender discrimination, online shopping and beyond, delivering his bitterest state of the nation address since Freedom. However, Peace Trail is ragged rather than Ragged Gloryy and, while hats should be tipped for the sentiments expressed, with less urgency to make his point and more time spent on making it listenable the message might have stood a chance of reaching a few more ears. Andy Fyfe
Home Burial KIRKINRIOLA. CD/DL/LP
Next-level Americana debut from Belfast five-piece. Belfast is emerging as a unique voice in UK Americana. Nashville-based Belfast man Ben Glover, Malojian and now newcomers Arborist all bring a distinct flavour to the genre. Already with a cult following thanks to Kim Deal’s duet on their first single, Twisted Arrow, singer and songwriter Mark McCambridge and drummer/ producer Ben McAuley have put flesh on that earliest track’s bones. Quiet and pastoral, the subtle flourishes of brass, strings, piano and fascinating little guitar licks still bring a smile even when McCambridge is at his morbidly most brilliant, worrying about mortality on A Man Of My Years, dark personal choices in Rules Of The Burial, The Force Of Her Will’s womanly mysteries or death in general on pretty much everything else. A staggering debut of depth and substance. Andy Fyfe
Live In San Francisco CASTLE FACE. CD/LP
West Coast power trio have all guitars blazing for first long-playing fireball. Already a proven sixstring pyrotechnician thanks to his past work with Comets On Fire, Howlin’ Rain and Heron Oblivion, Ethan Miller’s latest rave-up unit teams patented ear-scorch with speed-freak punk to exhilarating effect. Replacing
studio restraint with frenzied on-stage flight, after three limited edition 7-inchers this all-too-brief album-length live set finds Miller, bassist Josh Haynes and drummer Chris Johnson unleashing an amphetamine-fast explosion of MC5-meets-Motörhead clamour. Throwing out enough heat to power a small city, what they lack in stamina they more than make up for in breathless energy and incendiary joy. Over long before your head’s had a chance to stop spinning, Live In San Francisco makes a mouth-watering appetiser for the full-blown studio banger due next year. Andrew Carden
The Last Pedestrians
Battle Of A Simple Man YETI BOY. CD/DL
Eccentric agit-prop by gnarly dudes from Nottingham. That’s agit-prop in a rackety avant-garde style, sorta how Frank Zappa might do it. Fifth album from a motley crew formed in the ’70s, this folds anarchic humour into jazz, almost Delta blues, pub rock and psychedelia, heavy on the mandolin and wasted double bass. They might sing about Britain’s broken dreams, but it’s done in a grainy Southern states way. The coup is lead vocalist Harry Stephenson’s sardonic, subterranean Captain Beefheart growl. Psycho country-folker Too Much Trouble details modern life’s travails – neighbours from hell whose dogs rip out the weed you’re trying to grow; Breakfast At Wetherspoons is a homeless alkie’s tale: “In the beer garden everyone could hear you scream/The echoing dregs of your get rich scheme…”; and
Grave situation: Arborist’s Mark McCambridge thinks mortality.
Haunted is as touching a country-rock track as JJ Cale could deliver. Boisterous, earthy, heartfelt. Glyn Brown
United Kingdom ODD BOX. DL/LP
Home-recorded protest LP, subtitled (or How To Come To Terms With Your Culture). Recorded piecemeal in band members’ respective hallways, bedrooms and front rooms, with walls covered with duvets for soundproofing, this sequel to the C86 awkward squad’s 2014 comeback Middle Aged Freaks is noisy, scratchy, making use of detuned guitars, feedback, electric violin screeching and iPhone foundsound recordings from London’s streets, trains and L ically, it Alexandra Park. Lyr holds a mirror up to 21st century Britain – “You have to work your whole damn life,” singer and songwriter David Callahan bemoans on Across The River Of Death; on Thanks he sneers, “I start at eight and I finish at eight/Thanks, says the line manager, for working late/ On my own time like I’m required.” In a sleeve using Joel Goodman’s photo of New Year’s Eve revellers in Manchester, it’s provocative protest, thrilling from start to finish. Lois Wilson
TRI ANGLE. CD/DL/LP
LA-based electronic artist weaves layers of found-sound design into maximalist pop patterns. THE INLAY card on Katie Gately’s cassette-only single-track 2013 debut Pipes stated: “NO INSTRUMENTS WERE USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS RECORDING.” A gabbling polyphonic women’s choir, soaring over tribal rhythms, Pipes was just Gately’s vocals, Frankensteined through multiple computer programmes, to suggest a futurist pop collaboration between Yello, Meredith Monk, Grand Mixer DXT and Laurie Anderson. Three years on, and her debut LP for Tri-Angle suggests Pipes was the plumbing for an entire sonic universe. Initially the effect is assault, like the chaos of an unfamiliar foreign capital at rush hour, a sampled cacophony of foreign noises, alien voices, urban distortion and percussive excess. Gradually, however, landmarks emerge, Gately’s soft vocal melodies audible through the layers of madness, leading you to points of strange beauty and lyrical wonder. Then the realisation dawns; you have just arrived in your favourite city.
Brown Acid: The Third Trip RIDING EASY. CD/DL/LP
Another selection of rare-asyou-like rock nuggets brought to the surface. With the bottom of the barrel still nowhere in sight, this latest instalment in the Brown Acid series unearths a treasure chest of rough-cut gems from the depths of proto-metal obscurity. All of Stateside origin bar Chook (New Zealand) and Factory (UK), a roll call of names like Blown Free, Cold Swett (sic) and Flash Beverage speaks volumes for the hairy-headed greatness on offer here. Kicking off in fine style with Grand Theft’s tighttrousered wake-up call Scream (It’s Eating Me Alive), a feast of über-chunky riffing, locomotive grooves and histrionic swagger follows. Saving a pretty penny in collector’s coin, too, with the likes of Factory’s Time Machine and Diehard’s Heartbreak selling for triple-figure sums online, this precious metal set is worth its weight in gold. Andrew Carden
EDITIONS MEGO. CD/DL/LP
PATTERNED AIR. CD/DL
Inspired by the hypno-synthy stealth-rhythms of Wang Chung’s soundtrack for William Friedkin’s 1985 movie To Live And Die In LA, Australian multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi and his several distinguished collaborators (Jim O’Rourke, Joe Talia, Ricardo Villalobos, Mark Fell and Arto Lindsay) move from cold pulsing grooves to free electronic jazz freakout in a manner most conducive to euphoria.
Specifically designed as a sensory classroomaid for special needs children, Victoria Wilson’s Woodland Walk harks back to ’70s BBC schools broadcasts, the drones and ripples of her EMS VCS3 combining with Carl Orffian recorders, woodblock chatter and melancholy glockenspiel to suggest a lost library music wonder that Jonny Trunk has yet to discover.
Sky Movers Must Fight On
GLASS REDUX. CD/DL
Influenced by Hindustani classical music, psych-folk and samba, for his second solo album the experimental Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr pushes his 12- and six-string instruments through a variety of studio effects to locate a spectral sonic landscape, a trance state between the acoustic and the electronic, where an alchemical late-hours lyricism is born.
Alongside the new Richard Youngs album reviewed on page 102, the Glass Redux label release this damaged wonder by his friend (and Ilk collaborator) Andrew Paine. Sky Movers… is a long-player of warped electronic dubs and corroded disco laments about caravan parks, chicken suits, free shoes, Doctor Who and crap aphorisms. Horribly addictive. Addictively horrible. AM
Call to arms: Jim James lays out his manifesto.
My Morning Jacket man’s second solo album is a state-of-thenation address. By James McNair.
Eternally Even ATO/CAPITOL. CD/DL/LP
“LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT can do the heavy lifting,” opined comedian Deborah FrancesWhite recently, and in late 2016 popular music also seems to have re-awoken to that possibility.
You’ve got your troubles I’ve got mine, Britannia might reasonably tell Uncle Sam, mindful of Brexit and Trump, but as Louisville, Kentucky’s Jim James attempts to rouse the body politic, he sums-up thus: “All of us feel afraid in these absolutely insane times.” T tter feed – One need only check James’s Twi props for Louisville’s anti-fascist musicians; a link to footage of Michelle Obama’s recent, whollydecent speech – to gauge his allegiances, but it’s on his second solo LP, Eternally Even, an urgent if mostly meditative-sounding call-to-arms, that he brings poetic shape and power to his politics. It’s arguable that the obvious, if untouchable, precursor to this soulful, often articulately funky record is Marvin Gaye’s 1971 masterpiece,
with minstrel-era scat and has that aura of something that’s played on a calliope. Yes, these are the good times. At least 50 years out of date, and wonderfully so. Fred Dellar
Sex Swing Luke Bell
Luke Bell BILL HILL. CD/DL/LP
Future country star embarks on a trip into the past. He’s just a young man from Wyoming but Luke Bell’s been known to hide behind a Methuselah beard and sounds as though he’s part of country music history. His music reminds you of a golden era when Buck O, Merle and Lefty filled the charts with drinking songs and honky-tonk hotshots. Wanna hear a train song? Well, Bell’s got a couple of those here in All Blue and Working Man’s Dream. Remember the inevitable tough cowpoke at the bar, ready to pick a fight? Bell’s song The Bullfighter recalls him too. Ragtime Troubles adds maybe a touch of New Orleans to the proceedings. It comes filled
Colin Webster, whose Coltrane-like dissonances offset Dan Chandler’s melodyphobic musings and wrench them away from being merely imitative of Swans, Liars or Suicide. There’s even a PiL-ish peppiness to Karnak, suggestive of a sassier future should the lure of being Das Boot’s house band start to pall. Andy Cowan
Sex Swing QUIETUS PHONOGRAPHIC CORPORATION. CD/DL/LP
Brassy, brazen debut from unseemly avant-psych supergroup. You wouldn’t let Sex Swing lay your patio. Culling its members from deep underground troupes Part Chimp, Mugstar, Dethscalator and Earth, it’s easy to imagine the shifty quintet hovering menacingly around the circular saws in Homebase. From the spooked synth attack of hellish 12-minute opener A Natural Satellite inwards, they do little to dispel those fears, robust drums and dirty organs underscoring the swaggering menace of Grace Jones and The Murder Of Maria Marten. Their secret weapon is Dead Neanderthals’ saxophonist
Real Britannia CLASSIC ALBUM CLUB. CD/DL/LP
Ambitious third album from the reformed prog oddballs. Always more ambitious than their late ‘90s peers, Ultrasound suffered during the dying days of Britpop for an unapologetic liking of Gary Glitter, Pere Ubu, Cardiacs and Jethro Tull. Though the myth of rose-tinted nostalgia and
false memories – especially for the haunted 1970s – is the concept, their eccentricities and examinations of Britain today mean they’re better suited to these twisted times. While No Man’s Land offers apocalyptic post-punk/prog anger and Kon-Tiki their trademark high-drama pop, the true centrepiece is Tiny Wood’s autobiographical 20-minute suite, Blue Remembered Hills. With pastoral inserts and thematic crescendos, it’s as evocative and emotionally raw as Dennis Potter’s drama in which the playful innocence of youth masked something altogether more insidious: “I’m just a big fat cuckoo living up North,” wails Wood. Unlike its namesake however, this story of survival and dreaming big has a happy ending. Ben Myers
her father and a home studio in the back garden, it makes sense that Xana Romeo would choose a singing career. Part of the growing ‘Reggae Revival’ scene that aims to return Jamaican music to its predancehall core values, Xana’s brand of new roots reggae is firmly rooted in the present, and on this auspicious first offering, co-produced by Jahlonzo of Dubtonic Kru, she switches between standard vocals and rapping sections with ease, addressing topics such as police harassment, child abuse and income disparity. Her voice is confident, expressive, and very much her own, and the corresponding dub versions add to the appeal: Rate Rasta, Glitter Ain’t Gold and the title track hold righteous indignation, while Righteous Path and King Of Zion are keen devotional numbers. David Katz
Wake Up CHARMAX. CD/DL/LP
Promising roots reggae debut from Max’s younger daughter. Raised in a musical household in rural Jamaica with the veteran singer Max Romeo as
What goes around
What’s Going On. Themes James explores include our “broken and corrupt political system”, and people “not treating each other with equality and respect”. As the sonically dense, karmically-aware Same Old Lie intimates, moreover, the misinformation that seeks to blind and bind us is still cancerously present, unyielding and depressingly familiar. Like 2013’s Regions Of Light And Sound Of God, Eternally Even has nine songs. Gone are the acoustic guitars and most of the overt prettiness. EEE is big on hooky, big-bottomed organ ballast, woody sounding electric guitars, and the kind of warm, fuzzy Blaxploitation funk that discerning market stallholders once charmed London’s Camden Town with of a Sunday (In The Moment and True Nature, the latter with acknowledged and very audible samples of The Supreme Jubilees’ 1979 gospel/soul pearl, It’ll All Be Over). At times, the record seems n oddly sedative rallying call, ut on the hypnotic, mattressat groove of We Ain’t Getting ny Younger Pt. 2, James’s lose-miked vocal uses eduction, then a swish of the eaper’s scythe, to get us up, motivated and involved: Time’s your oyster/The grave’s lways getting closer/We ain’t etting any younger.” The album’s cover portrait (inset left) conjures some pimped-up ghost of Mardi-Gras past, with James decked-out in white fur and an elaborate mask of gaudy trinkets. Evocative and deliberately hazy, it fits the music perfectly. Meanwhile, with its prog rock-indebted intro, the title track is a cracker reminiscent of Flaming Lips at their most touchingly existential. It also suggests that, as he lays out his manifesto, James, now 38, is working on his own shit, too: “Reaching out/I’ve thought about you often/My feelings towards you softened over time/I hope you’re having a wonderful life.”
Orchestra Of Syrian Musicians
Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra Of Syrian Musicians & Guests TRANSGRESSIVE. CD/DL/LP
Exile on Straight Street with Weller, Albarn, Holter et al, on tour in Europe in June. Damon Albarn’s ambitious attempt to reunite musicians who had been scattered across the globe by the conflict in Syria may have been the most testing tour of the summer; the results are a rare piece of good news from the Levant. If the idea of an album of orchestral Middle Eastern music doesn’t appeal, the majesty of Old Damascus may involve a conversion of sorts; the debate should be ended with the intense rhythm of Al Ajahleh (guests Seckou Keita and Bassekou Kouyaté emphasise that this is an Africa Express project). Yet it’s the adaptations of Western tracks that are the key to the album: Paul McCartney’s Blackbird has a terrific choral addition; Julia Holter’s Feel You benefits from massed strings and subtler percussion; the Arabic flavours of Blur’s Out Of Time are heightened. Definitely one of 2016’s better achievements. David Hutcheon
WORLD VILLAGE. CD/DL/LP
World tour for the tango enthusiast who “dances like a whip and sings like a scar”.
Angelina: riding at the blues-art interface.
Linyera – leaves Buenos Aires and washes up first in Japan, then a volcanic crater in southern Italy. Before long, he is playing a foxtrot in China, carousing with Serge Gainsbourg (a cover of Intoxicated Man) and Erik Satie. All the costume changes distract, however, and the sharp focus of his earlier albums is lost. It’s a brave stab in a new direction, but doesn’t always keep you glued to the music. David Hutcheon
Parfaite Et Impudique FEINT. CD/DL
France-based Italian duo look to edgy synth-pop archetypes of yore. The title, translates as Perfect And Shameless: a tall order. Psch-Pshit are Alice and Mariele, Italians living in Bordeaux and Lyon. Previously lovers, they reunited as a now slimmed-down feminist artmusic collective, which formed in 2009, to record for the first time. With songs in English or French, Parfaite Et Impudique treads a line between electroclash and Elli et Jacno’s firstwave French synthpop. In distanced, frosty voices, the duo intone lyrics about turning your back on an employment crisis and a heart which has stopped feeling, over atmospheric, minimal backings pulsing through the hinterlands of Hot On The Heels Of Love Throbbing Gristle and pre-Some Bizzare Soft Cell. But what could be a po-faced salvage exercise is an audacious, melody-stuffed rollercoaster. While perfection is unachievable, Psch-Pshit’s shamelessness is in no doubt. Kieron Tyler
Vagabond Saint WONDERFULSOUND. CD/DL
Exceptional first album from blues moaner in the great tradition of Bessie and Ma. Angelina Grimshaw doesn’t sound like she comes from Ryde. Her debut album, Vagabond Saint is steeped instead in old America: gospel, jazz, Bob Dylan folk, which her parents played to her when she was young, but also those early blues women, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Memphis Minnie, whose records she’d sing along to in the bathroom as a teen. That practice paid off well, as from the moment she opens her mouth here: her gargley vocal, set to fortissimo, summons dusty trails, rattling trains and late-night boozing. Her other main influence is art; the mesmeric boogie title song is inspired by Paul Benney’s Snow In Jerusalem; the acoustic drama of Manola by Alexej Jawlensky’s expressionist painting of the same name. Lois Wilson
Black America Again VIRGIN/EMI. CD/DL
Storied Chicago rapper re-invokes the power of protest to mirror troubled times. “I TOOK MY hustle and made it a weapon,” spits Common on Rain, reflecting on a career that’s transported him from Chicago’s slums to Hollywood’s red carpets. Common’s made missteps en route – 2002’s prog rock/neo-soul fusion Electric Circus was a spectacular fail – but regained his muse on 2014’s taut state of Chicago address Nobody’s Smiling. Pyramids’ borrowing of Chuck D’s mantra “I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddlin’” is emblematic of his still abrasive mood, whether dissecting the prison system’s failures on A Bigger Picture Called Free or unleashing his most heartfelt rallying cry on the thrilling Robert Glasper-produced, Stevie Wonder-starring title track. The ’70s soul-powered The Day Women Took Over is another high, but leaves a glut of superior languid jazzy filler to negotiate.
LUCKY NUMBER. CD/DL/LP
Boy/girl R&B-HM colliders go avant-pop. This Brooklyn duo spent the early ’00s mashing up block-rockin’ drummachine, Derek Miller’s headbanging guitar riffs and the saccharine/sinister vocal stylings of Alexis Krauss, in the process grazing the US TTop 20. Where 2013’s Bitter Rivals edged towards a less brutalist sound, fourth outing Jessica Rabbitt goes the whole hog, reining in Miller’s Marshall abuse to carefully policed blasts, modern in a more orld, is all ly effective. pens amid abuse and , ProT o ools-era n I Can’t ore, Miller’s bediently net Jacksonrionics, which horus they’ve d to deliver. synth-driven, g I Can Only Beyoncénlimited Dark f attack ary R&B with de mental’s both farnd potentially k-leading. Andrew Perry
A Seat At The Table
Forever cast in sister Beyoncé’s shadow, Solange’s songwriting skills flourish on her third album, her captivating Minnie Ripertonesque falsetto soaring above soothing fusions of old school soul and future funk. It never minces intentions, with straighttalking, slow burning paeans to black affirmation such as Mad, Don’t Touch My Hair and F.U.B.U. interwoven with her parents’ startling spoken reflections. A sensitive, sure-footed triumph.
The rebirth of jazz in the hands of Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington continues to throw up inventive acts. The London trio founded by drummer Yussef Dayes and keyboardist Kamaal Williams give it an urban twist, factoring grime and broken beat influences into their unpredictable improvised jams, with extra sonic kick arriving courtesy of Heliocentrics’ big cheese Malcolm Catto.
Throwback To The Future
Live & Direct
TOMMY BOY. CD/DL/LP
Guilty in the past of letting his conceptual fervour run riot, Prince Paul’s latest project is his most focused in years. It sees the erstwhile De La Soul producer link with Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca and Brazilian MC Gorila Urbano for a cross-cultural feast of breakbeats, samba and bossa nova. Ultimately guided by voices, it peaks on cypher session S Bento MC5, an affectionate homage to A Tribe Called Quest’s Scenario.
#### RINSE. CD/DL
P Money has proved his staying power. The Lewisham MC first started to impact on the grime scene in the late ’00s when his whip-smart nimble flow ignited raves and pirate radio freestyles. Now comes this inspiring debut, an arresting 360 autobiography that skirts genre clichés without renouncing universal bangers. Tracks such as Panasonic, Gunfighters and Lyrics & Flows are sturdily crafted and seem certain to outlast the insular scene that spawned him. AC
Dr. John & Various
The Musical Mojo Of Dr. John CONCORD. CD+DVD/BR
All The Colours Of The Dark L . CD/DL/LP DEATH WALTZ
The Band With No Shame: Portland’s spaghettiwesterners load their fourth. A barroom door flies open. The clientele turn to stare. In stride Federale, the sevenpiece band led by Brian Jonestown Massacre bassist Collin Hegna. Somewhere, the soundtrack to A Fistful Of Dollars starts to play, and play, and play – and doesn’t stop until grown men break down in tears. Federale are an impressively monomaniacal bunch, the face on their musical Wanted poster Ennio Morricone, pursued endlessly into the dusty horizon. All The Colours Of The Darkk doesn’t lack for skill or high drama – it couldn’t with such mariachi brass and ominous whistlings – but it can’t quite shake off a dust-cloud of gimmickry. They do tip a Stetson to Nick Cave in Murder Ballads mode (Ain’t Gonna Run) or Some Velvet Morning (All The Colours Of The Dark), but ultimately, Federale feel like fancy dress – their boots dashing, their hats authentic, their horse a one-trick pony. Victoria Segal
Countdown MOTEMA MUSIC. CD/DL
Musical wisdom from a 13-year-old pianist. Thirteen-yearold Bali-born piano sensation Alexander has blown the collective mind of the jazz community. It’s not simply his phenomenal fleet chops that have left listeners
awed – to some degree chops can be taught – but his uncanny ability to reflect the range of the human heart through sensitive, discerning phrasing. In addition to Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane covers, this debut follow-up is a sampler of his own compositional scope, from gospel to Latin to balladry. Like any jazz great, he’s gifted with a natural embrace of the blue note and Sunday morning church, leaving one in a state of wonder over his mature, worldly expressions: How does the kid know? It’s obvious he pays attention – a particularly striking attribute for one new to shaving. Joey Alexander not only makes remarkable, stirring music, he teaches us a lesson and we can’t help but pay attention. Michael Simmons
tery, opening the connecting door between Lana Del Rey and London Grammar. She’s not all about anaesthetised elegance, however: Twin Thing, a sad sweet song about her late sister, has a sharp emotional undertow, while Poison Apple takes its melancholy onto the edges of the dancefloor, just to watch. I’m Yours lacks character, but even so, being better than she should be isn’t Pixie Geldof’s sole talent here. Victoria Segal
Madjafalao BECAUSE. CD/DL/LP
I’m Yours STRANGER. CD/DL/LP
Model scion strikes out on her own. Of all the reactions that artists can hope for when they release their work into the world, “pleasantly surprised” isn’t one of the best. Yet it’s undeniable that a natural first response to Pixie Geldof’s debut album is to be slightly taken aback by its poise, its languid modern pop attempting to sweep the tabloid detritus from her name in one fluid gesture. Daughter of Bob, sister of Peaches, Geldof doesn’t have much easy mystique, but here she creates an atmosphere of Blue Hotel mys-
The Memory Band
Thee Oh Sees
A Fair Field
An Odd Entrances
#### Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo
grunts are still on the money and those voodoo-rhythms simply don’t age. Highlights are many, but Africa Lonlon is reason enough to hope they keep on keeping on. David Hutcheon
Benin’s voodoo kings approach their 50th year in fine form. Much has happened since the cratediggers at Soundway and Analog Africa elevated Mélomé Clément’s big band to cult status 20 years after their activities had been wound down: substantial sales beyond West Africa for the first time, international tours and the chance to record a new album (released in 2011 and worth the wait). The death of Clément in 2012 could have been the full stop the reconstituted band weren’t looking for. However, with arch digger Florent Mazzoleni in the producer’s chair, long-term members Loko Pierre, Gustave Bentho and Vincent Ahehehinnou have decided to carry on. The latter’s presence, in particular, means you barely notice the join: his JB-like
STATIC CARAVAN. CD/DL/LP
CASTLE FACE. CD/LP
Unfettered modernist folk collective triumph on album number five. The Memory Band might be steeped in tradition – their fifth album opens with a 60-year-old recording of singer Vashti Vincent describing how folk songs were passed along – but there’s nothing antique here. Folk forms and melodies inform these nine songs, but there’s more at work: the potent churn of Children Of The Stones echoes the doomy downward chords of The Spencer Davis Group’s I’m A Man and etches them with urgent clavi and overcast harmonies, while the jazzy bustle and scything strings of The Mason And The Lark owe as much to downtempo as anything pre-electric, and the double-bass buckling Up The Common could have slipped off Mo’ Wax’s Headz compilation. Beyond this inventiveness and adventurism, this is music that moves, whether with the sweet, small, perfect songcraft of On Our Side, or the elegiac majesty of Against Our Laws Contrary. Unexpected and bewitching, A Fair Field d is a triumph. Stevie Chick
Downbeat companion to this year’s A Weird Exits – obviously! Even as John Dwyer’s star ascends after 15-plus years fronting Thee Oh Sees, there’s no let-up in his madcap productivity: this collects the mellower off-cuts from 2016’s breakthrough album sessions, presenting a more reflective insight into his abilities. Onstage, as heard on Live At San Francisco (also this year!), TOS can be an onslaught, backed by a twin-sticksman battery that offers no quarter. Here, it’s easier to discern just how tightly woven and diverse their grooves can be: You Will Find It Here, after a jazzy tuneup overture, glides with all the expansive majesty of Physical Graffiti-era Zeppelin. The Poem contrastingly evokes the synthy bliss of Eno’s Deep Blue Day, while Jammed Exit, with its flutes and spidery bassline, imagines Wobble-era PiL gone Popol Vuh – far-out, indeed. A mixed bag, then, but rarely short of mood-elevating. Andrew Perry
A slammin’ tribute to The Physician Of Phonk. New Orleans native Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John, soaked up the city’s jumbo gumbo to evolve into an American original: virtuosic pianist, vocal pipes pip, mala-prop master, all-round beloved character. Peers and pups lined up in May 2014 in the Crescent City to celebrate the Doc: Allen Toussaint, Mavis Staples, Bruce Springsteen, Irma Thomas and John Fogerty, among others. Highlights are many. Shannon McNally’s version of Bobby Charles’ Street People makes the adjective ‘lazy’ a compliment conjuring Louisiana humidity. Aaron Neville’s flawless blue yodel on Percy Mayfield’s Please Send Me Someone To Love is accompanied by brother Charles Neville on sax and Mac on the 88s. The latter wraps the bash with the aching Katrina ballad Rain and his classics I Walk On Gilded Splinters and Such A Night. Michael Simmons
Six Miles Deep MOLOKO PLUS. CD
International trio’s debut long-player, live and direct in Deutschland Named after a Rowland S Howard song on The Birthday Party’s Junkyard album, Dim Locator feature two-thirds of Berlin’s muchmissed Australian/English band Fatal Shore. Indeed, in many ways, this album is the sound of vocalist/guitarist Phil Shoenfelt and drummer Chris Hughes carrying on that fine tradition, following the untimely death of Bruno Adams from cancer in 2009. Recorded live in Leipzig, there are powerful covers of Beasts Of Bourbon and Pink Fairies songs, plus Howard’s own I Ate The Knife, but their own material provides the real highlights. In particular, the atmospheric menace of Carolyn, and closing track Touch, with its insistent refrain “Everything I touch/Slips away from me” – the sound of people from two different hemispheres who’ve lived in central Europe for several decades, recorded on one of many long nights on the road. Max Décharné
Porcupine Meat ROUNDER. CD/LP
The 83-year-old “King of Soul Blues”, still strutting his stuff. Bobby Rush can’t get no satisfaction. Women tempt him with their catfish stew but
their short dresses offend his sense of propriety. Despite the alluring skillset he outlines in Nighttime Gardener, they turn away from him in bed. It may be his attitude: after all, in the title track he compares a woman to porcupine meat (“too fat to eat, too lean to throw away”). He spends a lot of time alone (Me, Myself And I), worn out (I’m Tired) or with his back against the wall (Got Me Accused). It should be depressing, but his feisty croak and old-school blues harmonica, and the funky settings, with thumping bass and jabbing horns, make it surprisingly upbeat. Guest appearances by Keb’ Mo’, Dave Alvin, Joe Bonamassa and Vasti Jackson add spice, but the recipe is essentially Rush’s, and good eating throughout. Tony Russell
Full Closure And No Details CAPTURED TRACKS. CD/DL/LP
Debut from Brisbane songwriter details ex-relationship. Gabriella Cohen has a badass way with a distorted electric guitar, and she puts it to therapeutic use on this, turned out in 10 days at her parents’ home. Her stock in trade is fuzzy, smokey, Velvet Underground guitar-pop coupled with a woozy but articulate voice; opener Beaches may coast on airy harmonies, but they’re anchored by narcotic ShangriLas vocals. Those vocals turn alluringly sinister on Quaaludeslow I Don’t Feel So Alive where, sounding like a congested blend of Bobby Gillespie, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan, she smothers her begging with an ironic baby doll pout. Piano Song is a weary, paranoid waltz in the manner of Leonard Cohen (“Who are you talking to?”). Yet by final track Alien Anthem she’s worked through it. “When it comes to this/I do not miss/ Don’t reminisce – No!” Closure, and then some. Glyn Brown
Gabriella Cohen: apparently not going into details.
The Starless Room CLOUDS HILL. CD/DL/LP
Gallon Drunkard uncovers his inner Carole King! Having jumpstarted his GD career howling amid savage feedback, Johnston was never an identifiable candidate for singer-songwriterly designs. A quarter-century on, the piano tunesmithery on this, the ex-Bad Seed’s solo debut, leads to an unexpected sound-palette of smouldering beauty, often lit up by sumptuous orchestral arrangements from one Sebastian Hoffmann. Reminiscent of both lone wolf ventures by late Swell Maps sticksman and fellow chaos merchant Epic Soundtracks, and Dave Gahan’s records with Soulsavers, The Starless Room has a nocturnal romance: reverb-drenched opener I’d Give You Anything lurches oceanically, while six-minute centrepiece Dark Water ascends ineffably heavenward on malnourished gospel choir and exultantly swaying violins. It’s not necessarily alll change: amid indisputable prettiness, The Light Of Love finds our hero sombrely avowing, “We measure time by the glass.” OK, then, let’s drink heartily to the new direction. Andrew Perry
The Furrow Collective
Wild Hog HUDSON. CD/DL/LP
Second set of weird ballads from Anglo cots adventurers. BACK IN the day they’d have been called a supergroup, but Alasdair Roberts, Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton and Emily Portman have shrewdly commandeered the term ‘collective’. Unlike many such collaborations, they actually sound like a genuine meeting of minds who knit neatly into a natural, albeit oddball, unit. Kindred spirits all, they are not merely drawn to the weirdness of traditional song, but are inspired to waft ever-more dreamlike and bewitching spells around it. Brilliantly produced by Andy Bell with Trembling Bells percussionist Alex Neilson among the guests, they gently place their own quietly deranged mark on some of the tradition’s more bizarre epics, from swan murder (Polly Vaughn) to sex, ghosts and defilement (Willie’s Fatal Visit) and rape, defiance and childbirth (Prince Heathen). They even make Barbara Allen sound fresh and ever more tragic. Intriguingly engrossing, insidiously disquieting.
True Born Irishman
#### No Exit
E A R MUSIC. CD/DVD
Live ‘best of’ taken from Faithfull’s 2014 European tour. Comes with live DVD. Live albums often disappoint but this one doesn’t. Recorded during her 2014 European tour to celebrate 50 years of music, it captures Faithfull with band – Ed Harcourt, Rob Ellis, Rob McVey – majestic but still a little bashful. We get the hits – a moving As Tears Go By, a menacing The Price Of Love – but it’s when she announces in her cracked speaking voice, “Now we come to what I call junkie’s corner”, that she reveals the true strength of her character. Sister Morphine is pure heartbreak; Late Victorian Holocaust, written for her by Nick Cave, is haunting, macabre with Faithfull accompanied by funereal piano as she intones, “We were star babies in the dark/Throwing up in Meanwhile Park.” Lois Wilson
DAOIRI RECORDINGS. CD/LP
The original line-up of Pentangle went back on the road in 2008. Cynicism is easily attached to such reunions but this beautifully recorded, immaculately packaged double album from that tour is the sound of a band effortlessly rediscovering the intuitive chemistry that created their appealingly subtle interweaving of jazz and folk in the first place. Understated, there are no grand gestures here, but plenty of artistry. A proud epitaph.
With Christy Moore and Donal Lunny among his champions, Farrell has created quite the buzz in Ireland and, with this assured set of modern and trad material (including a lively Bogie’s Bonnie Belle) it’s easy to hear why. His powerfully unadorned vocals might be from any era, variously recalling Paul Brady and Andy Irvine, and with Mike McGoldrick adding magnificently to the varied instrumentation, it’s a powerful statement.
We Banjo 3
Martin Simpson & Dom Flemons
Ever Popular Favourites
The misnamed We Banjo 3 (there are four of them and only two regularly play banjo) have invented their own ‘file under’ category… Celticgrass. Not sure about that, but the blend of the brilliant Scahill brothers’ formidable Irish tune-making with material of a distinctly American vintage, along with the no-nonsense singing of David Howley, is effective. Stage is always likely to be their forte but this is a very vibrant record.
The revered Mr Simpson exercises his passion for blues and American roots in tandem with the co-founder of Carolina Chocolate Drops. They’re sensational on-stage, with Simpson’s exquisite guitar and Flemons’ infectious vigour conjuring storms with the likes of John Hardy, Little Sadie, Buckeye Jim and Champagne Charlie. These recordings of their 2015 tour, lose something in translation. Still hot though. CI
Smash The System CHERRY RED. CD/DL/LP
Ex-Auteurs frontman back to peak modes – songs about ritual magic and The Incredible String Band.
El Hombre Trajeado consider the nonlinear pleasures of a fast diagonal.
No Waves MATADOR. CD/DL/LP
Uncompromising live set from Kim Gordon’s postSonic Youth project Of all the Sonic Youth members’ post-split projects, Body/ Head – which paired Kim Gordon with friend/guitarist Bill Nace for turbulent improvisations – was perhaps the most daring and cathartic, while the pair’s performances supporting their Coming Apart LP were an intense, scarifying treat. Shorn of the Richard Kern projections that accompanied them, this live album culled from those shows doesn’t really do justice to that experience. Indeed, the brooding, noir-ish chimes and moans of Sugar Water and The Show Is Over – which tap into the murky interstitial passages on Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising album – play out like the slow build of a rising rollercoaster, with the blistering free-noise of the 23-minute Abstract/Actress’s final 10 minutes as the pay-off. And those 10 cacophonic minutes are impressive and thrilling, but the package as a whole doesn’t invite repeated listens. Stevie Chick
The Rest Is Scenery
Rob Daly, Brian Hartley
GLASS REDUX. CD/DL
‘High concept, low technique’ outing by biblically prolific Scottish singer-songwriter. Whether working with Andrew Paine, Simon Wickham-Smith or solo, Richard Youngs has built a stunning body of work, leaving his
singular mark on electronic minimalism, gridless house, mutant pop, brutal blues and rural folk. The maverick songwriter’s genre vaulting often works within defined parameters and his 146th release is no different, based on the remit that “chord changes are a luxury made possible by technical competence”. Youngs starts the album in E-minor and moves his guitar capo a fret up for each track, offsetting its repetitive structures with subtle ornamentations, Pete Aves’ warm pedal steel and enigmatic musings in his pensive Neil Young-ish voice. If it doesn’t reach the sustained invention of John Coltrane’s odyssey in E, Africa/ Brass, Youngs’ talent at wringing emotion from base materials remains undimmed. Andy Cowan
Nonagram SOWETO KINCH RECORDINGS. CD/DL/LP
Birmingham-based saxophonist and MC continues to impress. If 2013’s epic double album The Legend Of Mike Smith – a Faustian fable about the pitfalls of the music business, which is about to be turned into a travelling theatrical stage show – wasn’t ambitious enough, Kinch’s latest opus sees him unleashing a 17-track concept album inspired by arcane mathematical principles. But while on paper, Nonagram might seem more than a tad esoteric (its creator describes it as “a journey
through a hidden world of abstraction”), in actuality, the music, despite the abstruse concepts that underpin it, is easier to assimilate. In fact, you don’t have to know the theory behind Nonagram to appreciate its varied sonic landscapes. There’s plenty of virtuosic saxophone-led improv and also some tremendous hiphop-infused jazz, best exemplified by Four Caste, which offers a trenchant commentary on a racially-polarised world. Scintillating stuff. Charles Waring
Following a largely instrumental concept album about British nuclear bunkers, here Haines returns to what he’s better known for – the funny, sardonic, wordy and concisely tuneful alt rock found in tracks such as Ulrike Meinhof’s Brain Is Missing. Haines has explored such blackened histories for decades now, making them his own with his “behind you!” panto-punk rasp and such enigmatically compelling digressions as “I was channelling Young Mr Grace when a voice said get me to the allnight garage” (Power Of The Witch). Haines’s early lyrical riches suggested a bleaker take on Ray Davies, but now he only really resembles himself – a distinctive and exhilarating vituperative voice celebrating anything from glam rock (Marc Bolan Blues) to beans on toast (Bruce Lee, Roman Polanski And Me). Roy Wilkinson
El Hombre Trajeado
Fast Diagonal CHEMIKAL UNDERGROUND. DL/LP
Serially underrated Glasgow post-rock alchemists get physical after 10-year hiatus. The nearly men of the Caledonian post-rock underground haven’t been entirely idle in absentia, with fleet-fingered guitarist RM Hubbert pushing the flamenco envelope in unexpected solo directions. His spidery playing is much more reined in with El Hombre Trajeado, all the better to augment the shifting time signatures of Stef Sinclair and brothers Stevie and Ben Jones. There’s a jazzy intuition to their jerky kinetic jams that recalls fIREHOSE, Slint and prime-time Minutemen, while a surprise second half adds vocal cameos from Chris Mack (James Orr Complex), Polish pop collagist Ela Orleans and sound artist Sue Tompkins. The latter’s Do It Puritan! impressively invokes Altered Images’ I Could Be Happy and Sly & Robbie’s Boops simultaneously, underlining the sophisticated, nonlinear pleasures at the frenzied core of Fast Diagonal. Andy Cowan
LOCAL ACTION/OUR DAWN ENTERTAINMENT. CD/DL
Louvre’s mournful, stringladen minimalism. Music, however, is just one element of D6WN’s innovative quest to engage with her audience. Stephen Worthy
E.S.T. Symphony ACT. CD/DL
Defunct Swedish jazz trio’s music receives a fabulous orchestral makeover. The tragic death in 2008 of e.s.t.’s leader, pianist Esbjörn Svensson, in a scuba-diving accident brought the curtain down on one of the most influential and trailblazing European jazz acts of the 1990s and early noughties. Part of the appeal was their fearlessness and the breadth of their musical imagination. They weren’t afraid to embrace rock, electronica and classical music and fuse those elements with pianoled jazz to create something unique. Since 2013 the group’s remaining personnel (bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström) have been touring, performing e.s.t.’s back catalogue with an orchestra conducted by Hans Ek. Now the project, dedicated to Svensson’s memory, has been recorded and thanks to Ek’s richly detailed and intensely dramatic but finely nuanced large-canvas arrangements, the result is a thrilling widescreen adventure that will not
New Orleans R&B vocalist channelling Björk, Rihanna and Janelle Monáe. Blurring the lines between modern R&B and electronic music, Dawn R vious two album were more akin t boosted by an ar impact and embr technology that make a 360° live video and offer R a USB stick filled active goodies. T of D6WN’s ‘Heart Redemption has a focus than its for in which she’s aid by co-producer Travis ‘Machinedrum’ Stewart. His signature sound – frenetic dance music, rooted in trap and footwork – manifests itself o Renegade, where quaking bass dro and D6WN’s Auto Tuned vocals pus into Major Lazer Redemption territory. Yet the songs: D6WN moments are wh engages with restraint wins ou her audience. like the jazzy cho and baroque gui licks percolating through LA and
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DELUXE REMASTERED EDITIONS OF FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS 2CD & DOWNLOAD
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The Benoît Pioulard
Listening Matter KRANKY. CD/DL/LP
The Colourist & Emiliana Torrini
Even The Devil Gets The Blues
The Colourist & Emiliana Torrini
THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
French songwriter Lola G and guitarist James Greer (ex-GBV) craft shoegazey obfuscation and taut, post-punk tunage to best deliver Lola’s politically acute songs. Self-billed as “anarcho-symbolist rock”, or Savages with pop hooks. JB
Underground firebrands Thalia Zedek, Jason Sanford and Gavin McCarthy form new, bass-less trio with enough energy to leaven occasional heaviness in dynamics. A debut both thrillingly volatile and touchingly melancholic. JB
Thomas Meluch’s sixth album under the Pioulard name sees the welcome return of his hushed falsetto. Voice and guitar are punctuated by the bare-wire crackle of electronics on a bruised, heartsore set. JB
ROUGH TRADE. CD/DL/LP
The Icelandic singer teams with a Belgian neoclassical ensemble to rework 11 unreleased songs. Rousing, otherworldly, outlandish. JB
Bluesman Davis famously used a knife to play slide guitar. A stroke in 2005 silenced that, but not his voice. Now 90, aided by strong rock guitars, he sings old favourites and tells stories. GB
The Main Grains
Ship Of Fools
The Boy Who Died Wolf
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
Fourth LP for Montreal trio led by sessioneer Rishi Dhir, whose proggy pop-rock is technically striking, yet for all its precision sounds oddly sanitised. For those who think Alexis Taylor fronting Garbage sounds like an intriguing proposition. CP
US trio whose dangerously rhetorical name and penchant for RHCP-style bombast – distortion, nimble bass, huge breakdowns and tortured vocals – may alarm those who recall grunge and nu metal. CP
BIG CROWN. CD/DL/LP
Her debut LP, Make It Hot, t came in ’98. At long last, here’s the second. Continuing the theme of 2013’s Lady, y her LP with Terri Walker, Nicole Wray’s gospelcharged soul voice, heard on Black Keys’ Blakroc and Brothers, is massively recommended. GB
Ambient torchbearer Scott Morgan uses boiling kettles and “resonant moving air” (whooshing?) to fill his ticking digital spaces. He references Philip Glass, anti-humanist literature and aerial photos of industrial pollution. JB
TWENTY STONE BLATT. CD/DL/LP
Former Wildhearts/Yo-Yos bass man Danny McCormack returns, bloodied but distinctly unbowed. Cue six fine tracks of post-Ramones buzzsaw pop, plus a well-meant cover of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks. PA
Public Service Broadcasting
FAR OUT RECORDINGS. CD/DL
Live At Brixton
An album of jazz standards from the Brazilian singer whose mid-’70s LPs of singularly glorious feminist bossa nova are beloved of rare groovers. Pitted against Billie, Ella et al, she holds her own with sweet-voiced aplomb. JB
TEST CARD RECORDINGS. CD/LP+DVD
Stirring 2014 solo album from Pete’s younger bro’ Simon gets its first UK release via his own Stir label. Confessional outpourings, tough rock and complex folk pickings peak on the emotional title track. PG
Double album plus DVD of the duo’s 2015 live show, in which their time-slip USP of using technology to celebrate a pre-digital age reached its zenith on the Race For Space tour. Remarkably moving. CP
DINE ALONE. CD/DL/LP
A quartet convened on the festival circuit by members of Quicksand, Bad Religion and Trail Of Dead, who exceed the sum of their hardcore parts by adding loose, QOTSA-style hips to their riffs and even the odd synth. JB
The Dream Synopsis EP lex Turner and Miles Kane’s new EP offers two reworked LP tracks plus some favourite covers. Les Cactus honours the wild abandon of Jacques Dutronc’s original, Glaxo Babies’ This Is Your Life becomes a vicious spy theme, while Turner revels in wearing Leonard Cohen’s clothes – and telling his jokes! – tackling Is This What You Wanted. Best of all is the pair’s bounding, string-driven, psych rewind of The Fall’s Totally Wired, prompting wry smiles and admiration in equal measure. (Apple, Spotify, etc) PS
Ólafur Arnalds Study For Player Piano (ii) The brittle yet evocative moody bonus track from recent album Island Songs is now available to stream. (Apple, Spotify, etc)
Joe Fox Autopilot With Elliott Smith and Pixies influences, the singer discovered busking by A$AP Rocky offers something new on this wan ember from his Acoustic Alley Sessions EP. (Apple, Spotify, etc)
The Last Shadow Puppets
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Pills, trills & bellyaches Chris Wood
Evening Blue HIDDEN MASTERS/CAROLINE INTERNATI A ONAL. CD/LP
n July 11, 1983, Steve Winwood played Hammersmith Odeon on his first solo tour. The Spencer Davis Group’s former teenage prodigy and ex-Traffic frontman was back in the charts. The boyish 35-year-old Winwood had become a pop star again. Around 2am the following day, Traffic’s one-time sax and woodwind player Chris Wood died in a Birmingham hospital, his body battered by years of drug and alcohol abuse. Winwood had been planning a hospital visit. But there were gigs to play and he hadn’t expected Wood to go so soon. Nobody had. Like many of his more famous peers, Chris Wood was a war baby who chose the blues, modern jazz and art school over office/factory work and the promise of a gold watch on retirement. The teenage Wood bought a flute, frequented the Midlands clubs, and in 1967 joined fellow Brummie Steve Winwood in Traffic. But when the band split in 1974, Chris Wood became a spectral presence on the music scene; a gifted session musician but an often troubled soul. Besides Traffic, Wood’s wonderful, sometimes frantic, often graceful playing was heard on albums by John Martyn, Free, Nick Drake and Jimi Hendrix; his flute added another layer of watery strangeness to Electric Ladyland’s 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be). But since his death at the age of 39, Wood’s legacy has been overlooked and even forgotten. Evening Blue sets out to change all that. It’s the product of four years’ worth of archaeological research by a former Island Records PR, the archivist Neil Storey, and Wood’s sister Stephanie. The result is four CDs BACK STORY: (containing many previously DARK MAGIC unreleased demos and outtakes), G Chris Wood had a deep a vinyl LP version of Wood’s only interest in magic and astrology going back to solo album, and a 208-page his Traffic days. Among hardback book filled with his favourite books was memories and previously the five-volume A Treatise On The Seven Rays by unseen photos. British author Alice As worthy as these rarities are, Bailey. Some of Wood’s the bedrock of this collection is songwriting, including Moonchild Vulcan on his Wood’s work with Traffic, the solo album, was said to band’s songs appearing like markers have been inspired by the across three of the four discs. books. “Chris was into mysticism and magic,” Traffic drummer/lyricist Jim recalled Island Records’ Capaldi is quoted in the book as Suzette Newman. “He was saying Wood’s most “wonderful way ahead of [Traffic] on gift” to Traffic was John that.” In 1970, Wood, his wife Jeanette and Traffic’s Barleycorn, the arcane folk song Jim Capaldi took part in he played his bandmates and a séance in which Wood which became part of their US later claimed they made contact with the late Brian breakthrough album, 1970’s Jones, whose spirit told John Barleycorn Must Die. them he’d been murdered. It’s impossible to imagine
KEY TRACKS G G G G G
No Time To Live John Barleycorn Outside In Steph’s Tune See No Man Girl
“WHERE FLUTE AND SAX SPARRED WITH LATIN, JAMAICAN AND AFRICAN RHYTHMS, AND ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.”
Traffic’s version without Wood’s beautifully measured flute playing; a style he said was inspired by listening to birdsong. But his contribution to other Traffic songs here, including (Roamin’ Thru’ The Gloamin’) With 40,000 Headmen, Tragic Magic and Rainmaker, is just as vital. No Time To Live, originally from Traffic’s 1968 self-titled album, summarises Wood’s role perfectly. Winwood’s voice and regal Hammond take centrestage, but it’s Wood’s sax, sounding like it’s being played by a ghost in another room, which gives the song its haunted grandeur. When Winwood took a break from Traffic in 1969 to form Blind Faith, Wood joined Capaldi, Traffic’s Dave Mason and Island sessionman/keyboard player Mick Weaver, aka Wynder K. Frog, in Mason, Capaldi, Wood And Frog. Their previously unreleased On A Theme Of… flashes back to early-’60s jazz-pop, with Wood’s saxophone for once hogging the limelight. But after Traffic, it sounds too much like a step back in time. Shortly after, Wood went to America to tour with Dr. John, whose gumbo stew of jazz, smack and mysticism seemed like a good fit. But the home demos included here are of greater curiosity than musical value. The doctor’s group included Chris’s future wife, singer Jeanette Jacobs. Jeanette told Chris she was the illegitimate daughter of Egypt’s King Farouk; her mother the monarch’s favourite courtesan. In fact, she was the offspring of a Greek mother and American father, living in Queens, New York. Wood and Jacobs began a tempestuous relationship and married in 1972. Sadly, Wood’s marital problems and hard drug habits cast a shadow over the rest of his career. Evening Blue collates his varied session work with US blues vocalist Martha Veléz, folk singer-songwriter Gordon Jackson and Derek And The Dominos’ co-founder Bobby Whitlock. And, at times, on John Martyn’s brilliant, densely claustrophobic Outside In, it sounds as if Wood is channelling his demons into the work. However, the flipside to this darkness is the music he made with The Wailers’ keyboard player Tyrone Downie, Traffic’s percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah and, later, Venezuelan bassist Jorge Spiteri. These previously unreleased collaborations, including the exhilarating Wood/Downie duet Steph’s Tune, are some of the most joyful music Chris Wood ever made. It was as if he’d found a new place, away from conventional rock’n’roll, where flute and sax sparred with Latin, Jamaican and African rhythms, and anything was possible. The same sense of adventure informed Wood’s only solo album, partly recorded with Downie and Spiteri between 1977 and ’78, but never released at the time. An incomplete version of the album was issued in 2008 under the title Vulcan. Evening Blue’s first disc and vinyl LP include the full, newly remastered and correctly sequenced version, running in the order Wood intended. The likes of See No Man Girl and Barbed Wire offer a rare chance to hear Wood leading a band. Had it come out in 1978, this supple, Afro-tinged jazz would never have toppled the Saturday Night Fever or Grease soundtracks from the charts. But that wasn’t the point. Chris Wood was never destined to become a rock star. Evening Blue is both a wonderful tribute and a rare chance to hear this gifted, but too often forgotten, musician in the spotlight.
Monsterkonzert archives, courtesy of Marcel Aeby, Photoshot
The result of many years of painstaking research, the forgotten legacy of this tragic former member of Trafﬁc is lovingly restored. By Mark Blake.
snapping at the heels of more monolithic contemporaries. After 20 years, Fuzzy Logic still hasn’t stopped making sense. Victoria Segal
Marigold and Sixface, delivered with that lusty banshee holler (likewise the prototype I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain) that would become Buckley’s calling card. Martin Aston
Waxing The Gospel
#### Tim Buckley
Lady, Give Me Your Key: The Unissued 1967 Solo Acoustic Sessions FUTURE DAYS. CD/DL/LP
Fascinating find from the private collections of Buckley’s lyricist/producer. Among those cult performers whose legacies were posthumously tested in the CD age, Tim Buckley has been served better than most: not only was he prolific, but quality control only wavered right at the end. Demos have emerged from 1965-66, 1968 and 1973, but these 13 are the best yet. Five were re-recorded for 1967’s Goodbye And Hello, and regarded as over-egged (blame producer Jerry Yester), so these solo versions are extraprecious, with 20-year-old Buckley’s dazzling tenor on the cusp between boyhood naivety and adult liberation. The studio version of unreleased single Once Upon A Time resurfaced in 2009, but not the gorgeous flipside Lady, Give Me Your Key, here alongside five abandoned songs, of which three more are pearls: a tempo-shifting Contact, gossamer-pretty
SENTIENT SONICS. CD/DL/LP
The third solo album, from 1982, by the Wire singer and guitarist. When Wire imploded in 1980, Colin Newman recorded three solo albums, A-Z, Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish and Not To. All are reissued as 2CD packages, but the third is particularly fascinating as it contains demos for an uncompleted fourth. Not To ticked the boxes for Wire fans with Robert Gotobed on drums and a handful of unreleased group songs. We Meet Under Tables and 5/10 are sinister and incantatory, while Lorries, led by Simon Gilham’s melodic bass line, is as catchy as any bubble-gum pop, with an absurdist chorus line of “Soixante nouveau/Liebe dich, bateaux.” Newman has said that lyrics need not have literal meaning, a point reinforced by the arch, early Eno-ish 1,2,3, Beep, Beep. A cover of George Harrison’s Blue Jay Way may seem an odd choice, but with its sketchy yet memorable construction and sense of disorientation, it fits in perfectly. Mike Barnes
Super Furry Animals
Fuzzy Logic BMG. CD/DL/LP
Welsh gang’s debut reaches 20 unicorn-riding years. Released into the Britpop wilds of 1996, Super Furry Animals’ debut shows – now as then – a band too quick-witted and fleet-footed to lumber towards the tar-pits of retro rock’n’roll stardom. This expanded two-disc reissue of Fuzzy Logic records them as a fascinating anomaly, ancient folk and rock traits irradiated by dance culture. Rowdier singles God! Show Me Magic and Something For The Weekend are obvious entry points, matching the druggy, fuggy student-cred of putting Howard Marks on the cover. Hometown Unicorn and Gathering Moss, however, reveal their genuine otherworldliness, a depth developed on 1997’s Radiato Excellent B-sides Dim Bendith and Lazy Life (Of No Fixed Identity), scattered demos (including The Man Don’t Give A Fuck) and their 1996 Phoenix Festival set underline their facility with ideas, a gift that kept them
How evangelical revivalism first met the recording industry in the 1890s. Rescued from wax cylinders found in a box, this remarkable set gathers field recordings from 1897 plus the earliest recordings of sacred favourites such as Rock Of Ages and Nearer My God To Thee, as sold to the first phonograph owners. Among the finds are the only recording of the blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby, who wore Roger McGuinn glasses and was born in 1820, making her among the oldest voices recorded; and Emile Berliner reciting the Lord’s Prayer in 1890, five years before he founded the world’s first record label. If the second disc relies too heavily on the rich voice of the famous missionary Ira D Sankey, the third – hear the Moody Quartette take harmony singing in a barbershop direction, Harry Heath arguing for Prohibition, and perhaps the first recording of a cat – is a treasure chest. David Hutcheon
The Folk Den Project: Twentieth Anniversary Edition APRIL FIRST PRODUCTIONS. CD
Back to folk’s future with McGuinn. Former Byrd McGuinn has spent over 20 years releasing a classic folk song a month on his Folk Den website, from whence comes this latest anthology with 100 newly recorded songs on four CDs. As McGuinn points out, “Before there were books, music saved our history”, and he covers songs of seafaring, unions, railroads, cowboys, drinking, lost love (the last two often go together) as well as spirituals and kids’ tunes (She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain; This Old Man). A lifelong tech geek, McGuinn explains in the notes what equipment he used to layer vocals and instruments in these recordings – most of the latter played by himself. The artist blends the archaic with state of the art technology to create a rousing mix of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Michael Simmons
Feeling Good It’s logical: Super Furry Animals, still making sense.
Rare jazz and funk grooves by a legendary producer of the ’60s and ’70s. Bob Shad was the man who first signed Big Brother & The Holding Company, launching Janis Joplin on her way. In 1958 he recorded The Jades, whose 15-year-old guitarist was Lou Reed. He also produced Charlie Parker and Oscar Peterson, among others, and set up his own label, Mainstream, from which catalogue this invigorating compilation stems. The names involved are mainly familiar – jazz heroes like Art Farmer, Shelly Manne, Blue Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae all provide funk-flavoured offerings, while trumpeter Clark Terry offers one of his wordless wonders in Rum And Mumbles hitting a Caribbean groove. Barry Miles’ Scatbird is heightened by a particularly creative John Abercrombie guitar solo, but the surprises stem from littlehailed singers Alice Clark and Ellerine Harding, both of whom deliver tracks deserving of soul Valhalla. Fred Dellar
The Wailing Wailers
The Wailing Wailers STUDIO ONE. CD/DL/LP
Reissue of 1965 debut LP, restored to its original form. The Wailers reached Studio One in late 1963 as an unruly quintet led by Junior Braithwaite, but Clement Dodd rightly understood that Bob Marley should lead and the reshuffle made the group an outstanding act of the ska era. Debut album The Wailing Wailers has been reissued before, but always with unfitting overdubs, added by Dodd to modernise the sound; at last, this overdue reissue, taken from original master tapes, restores the album to its original form, the first of an ambitious Studio One reissue programme. With the exception of an ill-fitting take of What’s New Pussycat, the material sounds as fresh as ever, with the first cuts of One Love and Put It On retaining all of their emotive power; Rude Boy and When The Well Runs Dry are among the lesser-known gems ripe for exploration. David Katz
Royal ascendancy: Prince, shortly after his late-’70s move to Warner Bros.
Expanded version of early tracks before the Purple reign came. By Geoff Brown.
94 East Featuring Prince
94 East Featuring Prince CHARLY. CD/DL/LP
AS NEWS broke that the release of Prince 4Ever,r his second official bumper hits package but first posthumous album, will be followed by an expanded Purple Rain, showered with previously unreleased tracks (some hitherto only in bootlegged versions), it’s clear that unearthing the burial mounds of unheard Prince recordings said to be housed in the Paisley Park vaults has begun. Meanwhile, his earliest collaborator has tidied, expanded and repackaged these late ’70s tracks, most of which were taped when Prince Rogers Nelson was just 17. Like Michael Jackson’s childhood recordings for Steeltown or Otis Redding’s pre-Stax Little Richard imitations, the six core 1977 recordings here have been long available and scrutinised for signs of incipient genius. Indeed, Minneapolis Genius was the simple title of the CDs released by
Pepe Willie’s band 94 East on Hot Pink US, 1986) and Castle Communications UK, ’87) – Prince’s name was listed on he front in small type merely as one of four contributors, while its purple design featuring a white dove eferenced his 1984 hit, When Doves Cry. Prince’s precocious talent had found a home in local bands Grand Central (1972) and Champagne (’73) by the time this music was recorded at Minneapolis’s Cookhouse studio with older New Yorker Pepe Willie. On Genius, the six tracks had been remixed with instrumental parts added. Here, those additions have been removed and the CD now runs to 13 tracks – including two new songs unearthed from a storage closet at the Cookhouse, said to be from ’75, and a rehearsal recording of one of the six previously available tracks. The music also comes as single vinyl LP of the original six, and a double album of the expanded version. Not fully-formed but undeniably distinctive,
Mann, Gerry Mulligan, Kenny Burrell, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Drew and Shelly Manne feature in the various line-ups on this 17-track compilation. Fred Dellar
The Fallen Leaves Chet Baker
Plays And Sings Ballads For Lovers
Punk Rock For Gentlemen PARLIAMENT. LP
Vinyl vindication for London garage rock masters.
Heartbreak served cool and vulnerable. Jazz aficionados derided Baker’s vocals when he first downed his horn, adjudging them at best ‘an acquired taste’. His Bixian-into-bebop trumpet style won plaudits, but vocally he was considered too mundane, too feminine in his approach. But these recordings, spanning 1952-59, present him in generally excellent form both vocally and instrumentally, as he wends his way through such standards as It Never Entered My Mind, My Funny Valentine, Alone Together and a scatinfused Everything Happens To Me. Elite names such as Chico Hamilton, Bill Evans, Herbie
Three albums into their career as standardbearers for a particularly British brand of guitar music – at that fine spot where The Pretty Things meet Pretty Vacant, over a decent cup of tea – The Fallen Leaves have taken 12 songs from those CDs for this vinyl LP collection of their self-styled ‘Minimum R&B’. Vocalist Rob Green and long-time compadre Rob Symmons, superb original guitarist with the Subway Sect, formed the band in 2004, and have co-written all the material. These finely-crafted songs are sharp and direct
with a minimum of overdubs, yet the band also know the value of well-placed backing vocals. After all this staccato activity, each side closes with a longer track (Shining and Trouble respectively) in which they stretch out to great effect, mirroring the force of their live shows. An excellent showcase of the band at their best. Max Décharné
Previously Unreleased YES WAVE. CD/DL
Electronica auteur’s proto house, new wave and dub collision. Trevor Jackson is one of electronic music’s cultural polyglots. Producer, musical artist, label owner, DJ, sleeve designer, talent spotter and film-maker, he’s a man with a seemingly limitless vision and raft of strong opinions. It’s 16 years since one of his myriad projects, Playgroup, released its only album, one heaped with praise, not least in this publication. It was a raw and
Prince’s vocal and guitar styles often loom in the mix as audible and obvious as, say, Jimi Hendrix’s sideman fretwork on The Isley Brothers’ Testify. Just Another Sucker, here moved to track one, is the Princeliest groove with Andre Cymone’s bass prominent; other tracks ooze embryonic Minneapolis funk (seven-minute instrumental jam If You Feel Like Dancin’ is like a later Time/ Jam & Lewis production), while the gentler Lovin’ Cup is jazz-funk in a David Sanborn bag and Dance To The Music Of The World has the drive of the 1999 era, his grasp of James Brown/ George Clinton jams manifest. The new tracks? You can understand why they were previously omitted. If We Don’t (nice pop), Better Than You Think (good guitar), I’ll Always Love You (dull vocal, good band), You Can Be My Teacher (Prince’s real voice starts to emerge on the uptempo cut), Love Love Love (light funk) and the rehearsal tape of Dance To The Music Of The World shows a promising young band. And a fiercely promising young man.
faithful harnessing of the multiple strands that congregated in mid-’80s clubland – early house, postpunk, dub and disco. This generous 23-track collection pulls together unreleased recordings and demos from that period, but they’re far from detritus swept up from the studio floor. The trippy, echo-soaked ESG-style grooves of Nothingness and Move My Body’s channelling of the kind of gritty, locked grooves that Frankie Knuckles pioneered, act as an aural history lesson and a potent reminder of Jackson’s unstinting creativity. Stephen Worthy
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams
recording of What Are They Doing In Heaven Today has been covered by as diverse an array as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vince Gill and Mogwai. His gospel sounds are routinely called ‘otherworldly’ and ‘unique’. In the valuable research that accompanies this set of remastered 78s, Michael Corcoran uncovers just how apt those descriptors are. Phillips, it turns out, is playing a one-of-a-kind homemade instrument he called a “manzarene”, a fretless zither attached to a celestaphone. Corcoran uncovers census records and old newspapers, travels to Simsboro, Texas and queries relatives, friends and church-goers. Along the way, he rights several myths attached to Phillips. By finally revealing the long-sought truth behind these cuts, Corcoran manages to make them all the more remarkable. Chris Nelson
DUST TO DIGITAL. CD/DL
Mystery solved in Dust To Digital’s typically handsome hardcover set. Though he’s less known than his friend, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Washington Phillips’s 1927-29 catalogue is beloved by musicians. His
Precipitation likely: John Cale expects unsettled outlook.
Magic and loss A 2-CD reissue of the Welsh singer-songwriter’s 1992 live LP proves that less is undeniably more, says Andrew Male.
Fragments Of A Rainy Season DOMINO. CD/DL
RECORDED AT A various locations during his 1992 European tour, Fragments Of A Rainy Season, appears in John Cale’s chronology as the culmination of a six-year period in which the
Welsh singer-songwriter and producer put his world in order. Starting in 1985, with the birth of his daughter Eden, and the untangling of The Velvet Underground’s royalties, Cale ditched the drugs and booze, and the concomitant paranoia, and began to regard the world in a fresh, sober light. However, if this new model Cale was a more mellowed individual, his friends still carried old enmities. TTwo Brian Eno collaborations – Words For The Dying’s symphonic arrangements of Dylan Thomas poems, and the at-daggers synth-pop of Wrong Way Up – resulted in Eno attempting to attack Cale with a set of chopsticks, while his partnership with Lou Reed on the 1990 Andy Warhol tribute Songs For Drella ended with Reed’s request that Cale’s name be removed from the project. Proof that Cale worked better alone was his
Girls I Could Have Had, As Children We Grew and My Own Love, each a little gem in its own right and each discarded for different reasons – the first, for instance, because it was “more about me than Roger”, as Pete explains in his fascinating annotations of the demo tracks. Pat Gilbert
My Generation UNIVERSAL. CD/DL
Five-CD box of their first album, with stereo, mono and bonus material, plus three unknown songs. The Who’s My Generation, issued in December 1965, is an uneven, unsettling beast, looking backwards to their bluesy roots (covers of James Brown’s I Don’t Mind and Please Please Please, and Bo Diddley’s I’m A Man), forward to their stormy, free-form future (The Ox), while capturing their psychological Pop Art present (The Kids Are Alright, My Generation) and dark, quirky humour (It’s Not True, Legal Matter). Essential to the narrative is the disc of demos made by Pete Townshend at his flat in Chesham Place, including The
The Hart Valley Drifters
dexterous and his wit wry, while the others are solid, if not masters. In addition to classics by the ubiquitous songsmith known as ‘Traditional’ there are tunes composed by Earl Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers and Dock Boggs. Garcia had yet to develop his otherworldly reedy singing voice and, like many Yankee country practitioners, the group vocals overall are the biggest drawback, but hell – this collection is both fascinating and big fun. Michael Simmons
Folk Time A O. CD/DL ROUND/AT
Pickin’ and grinnin’ with a young Jerry Garcia. A quintet of young men specialising in bluegrass and old-timey country, The Hart Valley Drifters featured a 20-year-old Jerry Garcia on banjo, guitar and lead vocals as well as future Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter on bass and New Riders Of The Purple Sage co-founder David Nelson on guitar. Taped for a college radio folk show in 1962, these are the Dead’s non-leading leader’s earliest studio recordings. Garcia’s picking is
The Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs DOMINO. LP
Stephin Merritt’s 1999 magnum opus of love’s many forms gets a vinyl refit. Conceived in Manhattan piano bars and originally planned as an off-Broadway revue to be sung by four drag queens, 69 Love Songs was an ambitious project, but one that guaranteed frontman/ composer Stephin Merritt’s
game-changing 1991 reworking of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, where he ignored Cohen’s helpful fax of 15 verses and stripped the thing down to what spoke best to Cale. Similarly, Fragments… is the sound of a man stripping everything to essentials – voice, piano, acoustic guitar – and deciding that, for the time being, it might be best to work some things out on his own. Namely, who am I, or, more specifically, who was I? Re-sequenced to the original 1992 setlist, this expanded reissue ends on Hallelujah but now begins with three spare reworkings of the Dylan Thomas adaptations. Delivered with an impassioned sincerity drawn from his chapel oots, they perfectly underpin the how’s troubled autobiographical narrative, centred around the albums Cale recorded between 1973 and 975, and 1982’s bleak, blasted Music For A New Society. Described in the press-notes as “[his] prettiest songs”, in reality they are, like Cale’s sung line from Thomas’s Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed, “wounds wrapped in soft sheets”. Tracks such as Fear, Guts, and his wracked cover of Heartbreak Hotel, present naked portraits of the rabid, paranoid personas Cale adopted and inhabited in the mid ’70s. Similarly, while evocative, narrative songs like Chinese Envoy, Paris 1919 and Buffalo Ballet glisten with a melodic innocence, like the Graham Greene novels that fed into them they also twitch with romantic interior unease, weighted with intimations of death. The key to this duality is the plainness of the live arrangements. On an extra CD of outtakes, Cale is accompanied by small string section. Apart from a brilliantly uneasy Antarctica Starts Here, they don’t work. It’s all too much. Stripped to their essential core, they reveal themselves as simultaneously bleak and beautiful; the holy and d the broken hallelujah.
place in the pop pantheon. The triple-CD (now six-LP) set effortlessly spanned genres and moods exploring its titular theme, but Merritt only rarely (and knowingly) stumbled into pastiche, and his lyrics were acidly droll and earnestly tender, sometimes at once (see Reno Dakota, which locates heartbreak to an exact Pantone shade). Accompanied by charming co-singers Claudia Gonson, Dudley Klute and Shirley Simms, Merritt glumly rejoices in his role as pre-millennial Sondheim, whether playing a murderously irritated spouse on Yeah! Oh, Yeah!, or proving an expert cartographer of regret on the likes of Busby Berkeley Dreams and Papa Was A Rodeo. The result remains one of the great American songbooks. Stevie Chick
The Last Waltz RHINO. CD/LP
Yet another trip around the ballroom. You surely know already that The Band’s 1976 final concert was ace. The night was a chance to prove it was all real
– the rockabilly roots, the collaborations with Dylan, the influence on heavyweight peers – before it all disappeared. This Wheel’s On Fire shakes with fearsome adrenalin absent from its Basement Tapes and Big Pink recordings. Up On Cripple Creek is the loudest burble ever recorded. The myriad guests – Neil Young, The Staple Singers, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison – serve witness to the excellence. The question, then, is what’s new for the 40th anniversary box that was missing from the 25th birthday set? Nothing musically, but there is a vinyl edition. A Collector’s Edition adds a 300-page faux-leather book including a replica of Martin Scorsese’s shooting script for The Last Waltz film, fold-out storyboards and more. Last Waltz? Check. Final waltz? We’ll see. Chris Nelson
VINYL PACKAGE E OF THE MONTH Saint Etienne
Fox Base Alpha HEAV A ENLY. CD/LP
Twenty-five years on, explicatory pop’s pioneering album hits the shops again. Fox Base Alpha should never be deleted. The benchmark exercise in marrying a very early ’90s dance sensibility to an acute understanding of ’60s pop, Saint Etienne’s debut album also celebrated pastand-present London with a rare flair for repurposing an acute understanding of psychogeography. Crucially, dancefloor smarts parried with enviable, moody, downbeat tunes. And there was self-mythologising: in the song titles This Is Radio Etienne (a pop at The Clash), Etienne Gonna Die and London Belongs To Me (after the 1940s book/film). This 25th anniversary reissue says nothing new though. Despite a few tweaks in the credits, it is as per the 2009 edition: same digipack, same bonus tracks on the second disc, same linernotes and same booklet. Nonetheless, it arrives as a reminder of Saint Etienne’s importance. A stand-alone, single-disc vinyl version of the album is also out. Kieron Tyler
Deep Purple’s barking mad uncles in the attic. A Jackson Pollock-like splurge of ’50s R&B, pomp rock and heavy metal, they looked as peculiar as they sounded, with burly bassist John McCoy resembling a Dr Who villain. Yet Gillan played arenas around the UK and had Top 30 hits with covers of Elvis’s Trouble and New Orleans. This fivedisc box pairs their best work (1979’s Mr Universe and 1980’s Glory Road d albums) with the less compelling half-live Double Trouble, Future Shock and Magic. The red-blooded likes of Vengeance, No Easy Way and Fighting Man strove hard to recreate Purple’s powerful bluster. But guitarist Bernie Tormé’s exit in 1981 cost Gillan dearly. By ’82’s hamfisted cover of Stevie Wonder’s Living In The City their time was up. Mark Blake
Gillan: The Vinyl Collection 1979-1982 DEMON. LP
Oddball Deep Purple offshoot’s glory years boxed. Compared to their streamlined-sounding rivals Whitesnake and Rainbow, Ian Gillan’s ’80s group were
South seas bubble: you’re never alone in a Crowded House.
Miles Davis Quintet
Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5 Another revelatory archive package chronicling the years 1966-1968.
##### CAPITOL. CD/DL/LP
Their greatest moment of genius with added outtakes and schmancy booklet. Most pop rock acts are running out of steam by album four. Not Neil Finn’s Crowded House, who in 1993 found a sense of freedom with new producer Youth (it was their first outing without über-controlling Mitchell Froom), not least while conducting sessions in the nude. All of Crowded House’s seven albums are being reissued with extra live versions,
S Sonny’s Back In Town SUN/CHARLY
rehearsals and writing demos; 117 tracks in total, many unreleased and often radically different. However, because Together Alone houses Distant Sun, one of the most perfect pop songs ever written, it marks their peak. But there is also the shivering ecstasy of Nails In My Feet, knife-edge tension in Fingers Of Love, Catherine Wheels’ deceptively funky acoustic groove and a Maori choir and long drums on the title track. With the South Seas wind blowing in its hair, Together Alone is unbeatable. Andy Fyfe
Miles Davis wasn’t renowned for being depicted as anything less than intensely serious on his album covers but 1967’s aptly-titled Miles Smiles was a rare exception, depicting the trumpeter looking carefree and relaxed. The making of that particular album, recorded over two days in October ’66, is the main focus of this 3-CD box set and it’s evident from Davis’s jokey (and expletive-ridden) patter in the studio that, psychologically and creatively, he was in a harmonious place. For the first time ever, we get all of the session reels for a complete Davis album – including aborted takes, false starts, and lots of absorbing studio chatter – and the effect is like eavesdropping on a genius at work. But while there’s plenty of
ack in 2009 the Charly label released an acclaimed budget rock’n’roll series that – with the exception of rogue Welsh combo Crazy Cavan And The Rhythm Rockers – mined the catalogue of the famed Memphis label, Sun Records. That collection has now been edited, newly remastered and re-booted as the Sun Rockabilly Legends Series and sees 10 key artists neatly anthologised on 10-inch vinyl. Arkansas-born Sun survivor Sonny Burgess – now a sprightly 87 and still playing following a 15-year hiatus that started in the late ’60s – leads the charge with Volume 1’s 10-track collection. The first 1,000 copies are available on pink coloured vinyl designed to match the sleeve colour-way, while a second volume dedicated to Warren Smith comes pressed on fetching green wax. Moreover, material such as Burgess’s Red Headed Woman, We Wanna Boogie and Restless remains as frantic as ever, enhanced sound and all. PA
levity in the studio, it can’t mask the utmost seriousness of the amazing music that Miles Davis created. Charles Waring
Flute, sitar and tabla ramp up the exoticism. Kieron Tyler
Soundgarden Oriental Sunshine
Dedicated To The Bird We Love ROUND 2. LP
Despite being Scandinavian, exotic acid-folk gem sounds as British as could be. Nothing about Dedicated To The Bird We Love suggests its country of origin. If encountered without foreknowledge, the sole album from Norway’s Oriental Sunshine would be taken as a top-drawer example of Indianinfused British psychedelic-folk to sit snugly alongside The Incredible String Band, Mellow Candle and the exploratory side of Trader Horne. Nina Johansen and future Ozark Mountain Daredevil (really) Rune Walle met at a boarding school near Norway’s second city Bergen and then attended art school there. He had Norway’s only sitar, she had an acoustic guitar. In the street, Walle encountered Indian art student Satnam Singh. He played flute and tabla. Thus, the short-lived Oriental Sunshine were born. The trio’s atmospheric 1970 album is stuffed with sinuous melodies carried (in the main) by Johansen’s crystalline voice and sympathetic additional instrumentation.
Badmotorfinger Super Deluxe Edition UME/A&M. CD/DL/LP/BR/DVD
One of grunge’s essential releases receives definitive anniversary treatment. Heard 25 years on, Soundgarden’s third album remains a beguiling affair. By crossfertilising the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with their own counterintuitive rhythms and wry humour, Badmotorfinger helped establish grunge’s pervasive mood and yet paradoxically frustrated efforts to categorise its sound. Reissued here in multiple deluxe formats, it stands as their finest outing. Beyond the immediate remastered thrill of knotted songs like Outshined and Rusty Cage, the assembled extras prove Soundgarden’s archives are far from depleted following 2014’s Echo Of Miles rarities collection. Unreleased studio outtakes offer a thrillingly unvarnished alternate album – including a Brian May appearance on New Damage – while the live album/DVD of their 1992 hometown set at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre features a searing 15-minute rendition of Slaves & Bulldozers. Regardless of how they’re captured, these songs still have the capacity to enthral. George Garner
The free world aybe he’d seen Cecil Taylor playing with Albert Ayler at Copenhagen’s Cafe Montmartre in late 1962, or perhaps it was just from hearing Ornette Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come a few years earlier. Whatever the spark, in October 1963, barely into his twenties, Danish pianist Tom Prehn took an equally fresh-faced drummer, bassist and tenor sax player into the Copenhagen studios of the Sonet label to record two sides of urgent, non-metrical free jazz. But somewhere between the recording of this monster and the test pressings, the quartet turned against it. As a result, Axiom became the rarest European jazz LP in existence: just two copies. When Swedish Improviser Mats Gustafsson finally got to hear a copy, in the collection of writer, musician and free jazz archivist John Corbett, he campaigned for it to be reissued on vinyl by Rune Kristoffersen’s Rune Grammofon label. The linernotes to Tom Prehn Quartet’s Axiom (Rune Grammofon ###) ask whether this might be the first European free jazz LP. That surely overlooks Joe Harriott’s wonderful Abstract, released a year earlier. Yet, while Abstractt is certainly a smarter, wittier and far more joyful LP, it’s also a more tethered work, where, at any given moment, one member of the rhythm section can be heard prowling around the outside of the raw, pulsing, bluesy chatter. With Axiom,
AMJ Meets RSD
I’m Not Talkin’
Sky Blue Love Vol 1
Jazz is a European state of mind. By Jim Irvin.
Norse gods: Scorch Trio lay down some XXXrated improv.
“PREHN URGES HIS CREW TO UNMOOR FROM MELODY AND PLUNGE EVER DEEPER INTO THE BOILING DEPTHS OF NOISE.”
there is no such security, certainly not the serious, jabbing finger of Prehn’s piano which seems to urge his crew to unmoor from melody and plunge ever deeper into the boiling depths of noise. X (Rune Scorch Trio’s XXX Grammofon ####) brings us into the 21st century with four LPs cataloguing the output of the Norwegian noise-improv power trio (plus a previously unreleased 2000 Finnish radio session), assembled by guitarist Raoul Björkenheim, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love in the early noughties. Reviews at the time drew comparison with Sonny Sharrock, Jimi Hendrix, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Albert Ayler, but heard now, Scorch Trio’s intense overdriven mix of electric guitar, bass, drums and electronics, which moves effortlessly from a spiky redfaced wildness to points of bristling melancholy, forms a bedrock of influences that feed into such contemporary Rune Grammofon acts as Hedvig Mollestad Trio, Bushman’s Revenge, Elephant9 and Krokofant. Jazz vinyl releases of a more venerable nature include Yusef Lateef’s Live At Ronnie Scott’s (Gearbox ####) and Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas (Gearbox ###). The Lateef date, from January 1966, features Stan Tracey on piano and shows both musicians in a lyrical yet experimental mode, while the Gordon session from Holland in 1972 brings us back to Northern Europe, with the then Copenhagen-based 49-yearold tenor man taking a band of Dutch musicians through a loose and fast swing session of Gordon standards.
A major influence on such ‘60s hipsters as Georgie Fame, The Who and The Yardbirds, Mose had an effortless piano-roll style and lyrical edge those earnest Brits could never match. Top notch set focuses on his grooviest sides. AM
RSD is Bristol dub maestro Rob Smith. AMJ are musicians Andy Clarke, John Hollis, and Mark Spence. Together they make an enjoyable hybrid of dub and KPM world music. This set combines earlier vinyl releases and new cuts. AM
Grin featuring Nils Lofgren
Sunlight/Feets Don’t Fail Me Now
FLOATING WORLD. CD/DL
Before solo and E Street Band fame, guitar/vox Nils cut three LPs in 1971-72 with his tidy rockin’ trio, writing all songs but sharing vocals. Neil Young, country, blues, pop, all infused in his likeable sound. GB
When George Benson ‘went pop’ it was bad, but how w the jazz purists railed as former Miles pianist HH vocoder’d up late-’70s disco charts. His crimes? Poppy I Thought It Was You; funky You Bet Your Love. GB
…And Then I Wrote
BURNING SOUNDS. CD
Originally released in 1962 on the Liberty label, and long unavailable on CD, Nelson’s debut is something of a revelation when first heard, given how perfectly formed that plaintive lonesome sound was when it first arrived. AM
A ’70s roots reggae bonanza with 60 tracks on this 4-CD sampler of the notable west London JA pre-release outlet’s catalogue. Some killer Gregory Isaacs dubs , while the strong lovers rock disc boasts Janet Kay’s Loving You. KC
Northern Soul Weekender
#### ACE. CD/DL
Subtitled “the songs of Ennio Morricone” this is a revelation for anyone who thought Il Maestro only excelled in the world of instrumental high drama. From Scott Walker to Edda Del’Orso, this is mad pop romance of the finest kind. AM
#### CHARLY. CD
Wigan Casino’s Russ Winstanley picks 27 tracks – a brief weekend, but the moves, imitative of Motown (Sidney Barnes), full of enthusiasm (Willie Parker), great voices too: Ann Sexton, Joe Tex. GB
Endtroducing (20th Anniversary)
The Wildest Clan
The Complete RCA Singles
BODY & SOUL. CD/DL
These wild concert and radio performances have undergone a sonic restoration, so it feels like the impassioned Belgian chansonnierr is in your front room, belting out Les Biches and La Statue. AM
Two early ‘60s LPs by the New Orleans king of wild’n’suave R&B and big band tenor sax swing. It hasn’t all aged well but his super-sleazy version of The Shadows’ Apache is something else. AM
Two-CD, 61-track set of the A- and B-sides the Kentucky country/pop crossover queen recorded 1953-62; the altar for anyone keen to hear the bittersweet roots of ‘60s girl groups like the Shangri-Las. CP
Three-discs featuring the original masterpiece, remixes by Lee Bannon, Clams Casino and Prince Paul, and outtakes and demos that reveal Endtroducing’s genius was in the selection and editing. AM
Two-CDs, 38 tracks make up the ex-Zappa keyboard/ singer’s Anthology: The Epic Years, his commercial jazz-funk ’77-84 zenith. Titled Dukey Stick and Sweet Baby, y the CDs favour concise jazz-funk stylings like Reach For It and Just For You. GB
John Lee Hooker
Marc Hurtado/ Alan Vega
Legrand Jazz + Legrand Piano
1960-1961 Live In Paris
The Modern, Chess & Vee-Jay Singles
Sam Butera & The Witnesses
SOUL MUSIC. CD
Collection of inimitable blues, 1949-62 45s, 101 tracks from famed – Boogie Chillun, Boom Boom, Dimples, etc – to less feted John Lee Hooker sides. A great recycler, Hooker’s blues here are timeless. GB
2010 collaboration where Suicide’s street thesp says whatever comes into his head over electro murk from France. Some tracks drag, some enjoyably spook. Lydia Lunch joins in on Prison Sacrifice. IH
K’s Arthurian psych rock invited scorn in 1996 for its punning titles and Asiatic stylings; in truth, it was superior retro powerpop, Hey Dude, Tattva and Start All Over all sitting comfy on the Stone Roses-to-Verve timeline. PG
From 2007, the Slade bassist and co-writer goes Jeff Lynne and 'works through his stuff’ with Fabs-esque songs of love, death and self-analysis. CD two’s aggro 2002 live show features ‘60s covers, Slade tunes and Pretty Vacant. IH
Two CDs, four late ‘50s solo LPs from the French cinema composer. The overall mood is tinkling nouvelle vague jazz cool, with a stellar rive gauche cast: Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Herbie Mann, Bill Evans. AM
Let’s Go Down And Blow Our Minds
#### GRAPEFRUIT. CD
The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1967 in 3CD box tells of vast bandwagon leap to turn on by soul-jazzers, blues-rockers, beat-poppers. Like the race to punk to the power of 10, but with better players. GB
SOUL JAZZ. CD/DL/LP
A 19-track riposte to French punk‘s unfairly mal reputation. The influence of The Stooges and NY Dolls is obvious, but Metal Urbain, Marie Et Les Garçons, Kas Product et al offer distinctive shots of 1977-80 vintage Gallic alienation. KC
APE HOUSE. CD
On CD and Blu-ray, 1986’s sublime Todd Rundgrenproduced life-in-a-summer’s day concept piece, in four different versions (one’s by Steven Wilson), with oodles of demos. Fans of the original will gasp at the extra depth. IH
Roger Troutman’s band of post-Clinton, Dayton funkers made three LPs 1980-83, with More Bounce To The Ounce I’s perennial fave, RT’s talking box vocals, lithe bass, frisky guitar all Zapp hallmarks. Good to have ’em in one place. GB
94 East Alexander, Joey Angelina Arborist Baker, Chet Band, The Bell, Luke Body/Head Buckley, Tim Burgess, Sonny Bush, Kate Cale, John Cerrone Chance, James And The Contortions Cohen, Gabriella Common Crowded House D6WN Davis, Miles Dean Ween Group, The Diana Dim Locator Doherty, Peter Dr. John El Hombre Trajeado EST Symphony Faithfull, Marianne Fallen Leaves Federale Feral Ohms Furrow Collective, The Gately, Katie Geldof, Pixie Gillan Haines, Luke Hart Valley Drifters, The Hassall, John Hell, Thom James, Jim Johnston, James
111 100 99 97 111 112 98 102 110 113 96 112 94 96 101 99 113 102 113 94 94 10 1 1 1 1 1 10 9 10 9 10 11 10 11 9 9 9 10
Kinch, Soweto Last Pedestrians, The Magnetic Fields McGuinn, Roger Melingo Memory Band, The Newman, Colin Orchestra of Syrian Musicians Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Oriental Sunshine Phillips, Washington Playgroup Psch-Pshit Richard, Cliff Rolling Stones, The Romeo, Xana Rush, Bobby Saint Etienne Schnauss, Ulrich Sex Swing Shad, Bob Sl i h B ll
102 97 112 110 99 100 110 99 100 113 111 111 99 96 92 98 101 113 96 98 110
Super Furry Animals Tasseomancy Thee Oh Sees Ultrasound VA: Brown Acid VA: Waxing The Gospel Vaudou Game Wailing Wailers, The Wainwright, Martha Who, The Wolf People Wolfhounds, The Wood, Chris Young, Neil Youngs, Richard
110 94 100 98 97 110 94 110 96 112 96 97 108 96 102
COMING NEXT MONTH The xx, Childish Gambino, Julie Byrne (pictured), Tinariwen, Mark Eitzel, Flaming Lips, Omar, Temple Of The Dog, Julia Holter
Green party: Julie Byrne leaves us with a new album, reviewed next month.
This month’s sticky sweet wrapper lifted off the sole of a music industry’s jackboot: a heart-melting blend of Scottish melodicism and Maryland alt-punk poetry.
At the end of the 90s, however, air had split with his wife and, as a means of coping, embarked upon a prolonged world tour. “He was travelling the world and playing shows to sort of deal with that,” says Blake. “He was a little bit lost and he ended up staying with us, for two weeks in Glasgow, with my wife and my daughter. I was renovating our bathroom at the time. It was a bit of a disaster. Jad was helping me. I said, Look Jad, I don’t want you Words Of Wisdom having g to pick p up p our old toilet. So we g go And A d Hope H to the dump and we’re coming back into the ﬂat and there’s Jad, at the top of the GEOGRAPHIC, 2002 stairs, holding our toilet! What a guy. He’ll s with so many events on the get his hands dirty. Literally.” Scottish music scene, this story Over a glass of wine one night, Blake begins with Stephen Pastel. suggested Jad might record an album with “The ﬁrst time I met Jad Fair was when Teenage Fanclub,who were between he recorded a single with The Pastels in labels and contractual commitments at 1991,” remembers Norman Blake of the that point, having been dropped by veteran art-punk, who co-founded Half Columbia, who’d taken them on after the Japanese with his brother David in end of the Creation label in December 1999. Maryland in 1975. “He’d come over to “We’d all seen Jad perform,” says Blake. play a show and Teenage Fanclub had a “Everybody liked him as a person, we knew studio space, where we were demoing what he was capable of and we knew that Bandwagonesque, so we offered them we could bring something to it as well. the space to make the single. Myself and Plus, Jad always carrie Gerard [Love] played on it.” books of lyrics, so we The Pastels ended up recording two ready to go. It was rea singles with Jad Fair – This Could Be The come up with the m Night and Jad Fair & The Pastels No. 2 – For a band with a framing Fair’s innocent romances and perfectly crafted son joyful maxims for life in gently rolling approach to Words O 12-string landscapes. Both work as And Hope was radical samplers of the kind of special records different. “Everythin Fair was making, both solo and with completely improvis collaborators, in the mid ’90s. On hold Blake. “Nothing was w were the screeching vocals and primitive before we went into t punk jazz discord of Half Japanese, studio.” replaced by a soaring big-as-the-sun The music was rec Sesame Street positivity. in Glasgow’s Riversid Whenever Jad played Glasgow, The Studios where Blake Pastels and the Fannies would go to see would play a short him play and, recalls Blake, “for some melody on his little reason me and him would talk insanely Casio MT-65 keyboar with each other. We hit it off. Jad has his that the rest of the ba eccentricities, his mannerisms, but he’s a would develop. “May
the inspiring, heartbreaking Fair.
Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair
“THERE’S JAD, AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, HOLDING
little sequence and everyone would drop in behind that. We took turns doing that, switching instruments for every track, then we’d say, Do you have a lyric for that, Jad? And he’d say, ‘Oh, I have one here!’ Then he’d go and put his vocals down in one take. That was it. It’s really difﬁcult to do that, but we knew he was capable of it. He has a great sense of rhythm and metre metre, especially around improvisation. He can work with whatever material anyone else brings.” The evidence is there for all to hear on Words Of Wisdom And Hope. In the band’s warm, protective shade of lilting guitar melodies, hovering organ, intense Velvets riffs, and the reassuring backing melodies of The Pastels’ Katrina Mitchell, Fair’s songs blend uncanny optimism with a vulnerable delivery that suggests these bright and afﬁrmative “words of wisdom and hope” might be the only things holding the singer’s fragile world together. The effect is by turns inspiring and heartbreaking. “Here’s the thing,” says Blake. “Jad is what they term an outsider artist or whatever. To a lot of people that means you’re not very good, you know. That’s beside the point, it means you have an unorthodox approach to making music. We didn’t have the constraints of working as a pop group. This was really exciting.” Released speedily on Stephen Pastel’s Geographic label, and Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label in the US – with a sleeve by experienced visual artist Jad, naturally – it was certainly the quickest album Teenage Fanclub have ever made. Norman Blake also thinks it’s one of their best. “It’s one of our favourite records,” says Blake. “Jad’s lyrics are amazing and there are some really beautiful songs on there. I see it as a proper Teenage Fanclub record.” Andrew Male
Courtesy of Jad Fair (2)
A Glasgow kiss
Tracks: Behold The Miracle / I Feel Fine / Near To You / Smile / Crush On You / Love Will Conquer / Power Of Your Tenderness / Vampire’s Claw / Secret Heart / You Rock / Love’s Taken Over / The Good Thing Personnel: Jad Fair (vcls) Norman Blake, (gtr, bs, kybds), Gerard Love (gtr, bs, drms), Raymond McGinley (gtr, mando), Finlay MacDonald (kybds, bs), Paul Quinn (drms, gtr), Katrina Mitchell (vcls, drms) Engineer: Johnny Cameron Producer: Jad Fair, Teenage Fanclub Recorded: Riverside Studios, Glasgow; tracks 3, 10 & 11 “recorded up a lane in Finnieston”. Released: 2002 Chart peak: none Available: second-hand
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MODERN MUSIC & MORE.
ALL-STAR SPECIAL ISSUE ON SALE NOW!
he 10 Necessaries Big Sky/Event Horizon
SIRE 1981/1982 £12-£80
You Say: “A fascinating, sensitive, powerpop curio.” Michael O’Neill, via e-mail Despite the wealth of Russell reissues in the past 12 years, there are still areas ripe for rediscovery. Possibly top of that list is the series of recordings Russell made with Ernie Brooks, including the full Flying Hearts demo sessions produced by John Hammond, and the one and a half records he made as keyboardist, cellist, guitarist and backing singer with Brooks’ anguished proto-Shins art-pop quartet, The Necessaries. Confusingly, the group’s first long-player, Big Sky, y was withdrawn and reissued in a slightly different form as Event Horizon a year later. Occasionally going for silly money on Discogs, both are still spottable for a snip on eBay.
Omni-faceted Buddhist-disco savant. By ndr l .
f the ﬁrst question is how to buy Arthur Russell, the next question is surely which Arthur Russell do you buy? In 20-plus years of making music, from the late 1960s until his death from AIDS in 1992, aged just 40, Russell moved from organic Indian-inﬂuenced American minimalism to transcendental forms of New York disco (released under numerous different names including Dinosaur L, Loose Joints and Indian Ocean), and a lonesome, tender sort of space-dub song-form that incorporated elements of pop, country, folk and early music. Born and raised amid the corn ﬁelds and rusting coal-mines of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Russell took cello and piano lessons as a child and was already writing music when, in 1968, aged 18, he moved to San Francisco to study Buddhism. After a deeper education in North Indian and Western forms of classical music, he met beat poet and fellow Buddhist Allen Ginsberg. The poet helped Russell move to New York where he immersed himself in the emerging disco scene and the avant-garde collectives ll centred d around d The h Kitchen i h on Wooster Street.
Russell it t e tool of his trade, 1980s; (right) mug shot with earphones.
“EVERYTHING HERE… SERVES TO UNDERLINE THE SCALE OF RUSSELL’S UNFATHOMABLE GENIUS.”
short lifeti e, releases were ini al and manageable. In the wake of his subsequent rediscovery in 2004, following the compilations Calling Out Of Contextt (Rough Trade) and The World Of Arthur Russelll (Soul Jazz), his discography has become increasingly in need of navigation, thanks largely to the excellent work of Portland’s Audika Records, who’ve steadily released archive works from the Russell estate that have simultaneously expanded and complicated the backcatalogue. However, overlaps be damned, as everything here, from futuristic explodedview club grooves to bittersweet ballads and angular art-pop, only serves to underline the scale of Russell’s unfathomable genius, what was lost, and what might have been.
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Arthur Russell Love Is Overtaking Me
ROUGH TRADE 2008 £12.53
You Say: “He could do vocal pop and country as well.” Kevin Gross, via e-mail A collection of folk, pop, and country songs written and recorded by Russell between 1973 and 1990, Love Is Overtaking Me divided fans on release, with some arguing that it was the first evidence of barrel-scraping from the Russell estate. Others heard something very different, however, an emotional overview of an artist’s entire career, containing some of his very last recordings, which presented him at his most tender and autobiographical. Although audibly influenced by James Taylor and The Modern Lovers, in their unguarded narrative style the songs here also anticipate such alt singer-songwriters as Kurt Wagner, Bill Callahan, The Magnetic Fields and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Janette Beckman, Alamy
Russell Various 9 Arthur Springfield 8Arthur The World Of Russell
You Say: “Are they really works in progress?” Doug Harrison, via e-mail
You Say: “Shows that whatever he was doing, it was the same thing.” Phil Castiglione, via e-mail
AUDIKA 2006 DOWNLOAD £6.93
Culled from an incomplete album Russell had been working on from 1988 until the time of his death, and bulked out with an eight-minute DFA d wouldn’t be remix, Springfield anyone’s first Arthur Russell purchase; but they’d be wrong. The title track is soft-spoken downer-house, a spacey early-morning saunter of smothered horns, fuzzed piano stabs and stoned beats, that feels simultaneously futuristic and out-of-time. Other tracks include wilder, scratchier takes on Let’s Go Swimming and Hiding Your Present… (pieces Russell repeatedly returned to) and the incredible You Have Did The Right Thing When You Put That Skylight In, a distorted rag of kosmische euphoria about the installation of a nice new window on the cumulus.
SOUL JAZZ 2004 £12.87
You Say: “My gateway drug to his World Of Echo.” David Nicholls Crucial in the 2004 revival of interest in Russell’s works, this compilation effectively presented him as the abstract genius of New York disco, bringing together the sweet gamelan abnormality of Lola’s Wax The Van (vocals by Lola Blank, wife of record producer/engineer Bob Blank) plus the hypnotic erotic pull of Larry Levan’s mix of the Loose Joints track Is It All Over My Face, alongside the twilight club strangeness of such solo Russell tracks as In The Light Of The Miracle, A Little Lost and Keeping Up. There are cross-overs here with the Sleeping Bag compilation 24>24 Music, but as a one-stop-shop sampler of Russell’s best club work, The World Of… is hard to beat.
AUDIKA 2015 £15.19
A spare skeletal framework of voice, cello and drum machine for another almost-album Russell was working on in the early ’80s. Assembled from three separate test pressings of a long-player planned for release under the pseudonym Indian Ocean, this a collection of defiantly rough and loose electro-pop, versions of songs that appear in more fully fleshed out form elsewhere: Let’s Go Swimming, Hiding Your Present From You, Lucky Cloud and This Is How We Walk On The Moon. Ironically, for all its metallic percussion and distorted vocals this one of Russell’s most intimate recordings; full-moon 3am lullabies for weird insomniacs longing for sweet sleep.
e L Thought 6BestFirstThought 5TheDinosaur 24 > 24 Music: Definitive AUDIKA 2006 £17.67
You Say: “Remarkable instrumental head music.” Peter Garner, via e-mail
SLEEPING BAG 1981, REISSUE TRAFFIC ENTERTAINMENT 2011 £16.93
The cheapest way to immerse yourself in the meditative wordless compositions Russell made between 1973 and 1983 is via this 2006 Rough Trade compilation. On the pieces Instrumentals Volume 1 and 2 (recorded at The Kitchen between 1975 and 1977) you hear the clearest influence on Russell’s music of the flat expansive Iowa landscapes in which he spent his childhood, as well as the clear, quiet, calm phrases, derived from his own Buddhist teachings. The other long work, Tower Of Meaning, adapted from an original commission by Robert Wilson, plays like a forlorn wordless pastoral cousin to another Wilson commission, David Byrne’s Music For “The Knee Plays”
You Say: “Club sounds for questing souls.” Will Barnes, via e-mail Originally conceived as a disco-based jam with his downtown avant-garde pals at The Kitchen in April 1979, 24>24 Music was Russell’s attempt to bridge the worlds of club music and new composition. In the manic repetitive, discordant chamber-disco and jazz-punk cries of No, Thank You and In The Corn Belt, plus François Kevorkian’s remix of Go Bang!, Russell created a future-club sound, chromatic euphoric wonk-funk that pointed the way to Chicago house and early hip-hop and still sounds forward-thinking today. This double disc version comes with essential 12-inch mixes profiling Russell’s Sleeping Bag label.
Arthur Russell Another Thought POINT MUSIC 1994, REISSUE ORANGE MOUNTAIN 2006 £13.75
You Say: “Sensual and mysterious pieces… this is simply superb.” Catherine Berry, via e-mail Originally released on CD in 1994, when World Of Echo was already out of print, for many inquisitive music-lovers this was their very first fulllength experience of Arthur Russell. Put together from some 800 reels of tape by producer Don Christensen in the aftermath of Russell’s death, Another Thoughtt has a veiled, valedictory feel, a ghostly autumnal intimacy that is partly down to Christensen’s personal aesthetic of mourning – defined by his decision to concentrate predominantly on spare, hushed voice and cello compositions – but also due to the circumstances of its composition; a sudden chill that breaks the dream, to paraphrase the final track on the album.
Arthur Russell Calling Out Of Context AUDIKA 2004 DOWNLOAD £7.99
You Say: “A surprising album, even for Arthur Russell.” Trevor Scott, via e-mail Like Another Thought, t this is another composite album, compiled from tracks Russell was working on in the years leading up to his death, including yet more material intended for the Corn LP (apparently completed in 1985 but never released) and hours of recordings for a Rough Trade record that was never finalised. However, in terms of mood and groove it couldn’t be more different. Very much a celebration of Russell’s late-period club minimalism, Calling Out Of Contextt is a collection of constantly pulsing, agitated, rhythmic pop poems where the sadness and longing, undeniably ever present, is nevertheless always just below the surface.
Arthur Russell World Of Echo
Read Tim Lawrence’s Russell biography Hold On To Your Dreams, and watch Matt Wolf’s documentary Wild Combination. Then immerse yourself in Song IV from Zummo With An X, the 1985 LP by Russell col laborator Peter Zummo: Russell’s wordless singing s
UPSIDE 1986 AUDIKA REISSUE 2005 DO
You Say: “A melancholy da out the beats.” Rory McDo His masterpiece. First out in Echo is the sound of late-nigh under a full moon, a solitary m in a warm sedative blanket o cello rhythms, the eerie cave voice, and the reflections of childhood; “Echo in various m Russell said in the LP’s linern were chosen more for sound but when their meaning bre with by jags of cello feedbac resonant Arthur Russell mela the eternal farm kid realisin alone in the New York night.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT G
Marr memoir buries those Smiths’ reunion rumours forever. By Ian Harrison.
Set The Boy Free #### Johnny Marr CENTURY. £20
erhaps the most newsworthy episode in this balanced and sane memoir is the time in 2008 when Johnny Marr, fresh from remastering The Smiths’ back catalogue, met up for a rare drink with old foil Morrissey in south Manchester. Relations were warm enough for the two to discuss the subject that interviewers have plagued p g both of them about forever: the reformation of The Smiths. For four days, it seems it was really going to happen. Then it wasn’t. Marr doesn’t speculate on why, but it leaves a bad taste. It seems the guitarist is as disappointed that this epochal, euphoric group is sometimes remembered with negativity. Set The Boy Free, as much as it can, seeks to dispel that cloud, as well as setting his own record straight. As to his suitability for writing it, Marr told MOJO, “I’ve got perspective and maturity, and I’ve still got the love.”
g presence throughout, and early on in this story-ﬁlled, all-chronological work, it’s easy to discern why. Blame his stable working-class upbringing, early onset guitar obsession and conviction that he was destined to be in a great group, plus his uncommon traits of steely, hip practicality and esoteric imagination. It gives the adventure that was The Smiths a fated quality, and the years 1982-87 get more than a third of the book’s unghosted 476 pages. The insider’s view as the group ignite and achieve full fusion has the sense of riding a giant wave, and he’s as thrilled as anyone by the multilayered world The Smiths were creating – see the digression into his sincere attempts to replicate the beehive ’do of Ronette Estelle Bennett in 1984. 1984 Yet there there’ss no doubt he considers The Smiths as an entity he set in motion, recruiting the members and motivating them as “the centre of the wheel”. From this rare perspective, the grim end comes alive in all its godawful dysfunction. Feelings are still raw when he recalls drummer Mike Joyce
atti mith, 1978; (right) a 2014 solo show; (below) “I want to get on with the rest of my life,” he says.
“EVERYBODY NOW KNOWS HOW IT FELT TO BE ME, AND TO BE INSIDE THE GROUP.”
and managerless disarray, Marr’s hope that the group can some- how be saved are poignant. Still, it’s not hard to sympathise when he ﬁnally thinks of his estranged bandmates, “Fuck you.” The three less complicated decades that follow bring different challenges, as he works with bands including The The, Electronic and Modest Mouse, mutual respect ﬂourishes and conﬂict is avoided. Meetings with Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Bryan y Ferryy and Oasis also show how far he’s travelled. There’s still the impression that the kid who channelled his need for transcendence through his guitar is still essentially the same person, though, and that his story is far from concluded. “I wouldn’t have done it, if I hadn’t done it now,” says Marr of writing the book, “because I want to get on with the rest of my life without looking back at all. But I’m really pleased that everybody now knows how it felt to be me, and to be inside the group, and to remind people of what we all felt. Those people who didn’t know that, they do now.”
©Mark McGarraghy, John Shard, ©Johnny Marr Perso onal Collection,, ©Andyy
Thorn in his side
When he was in Freak Party in 1981, Marr was arrested and put in the cells for introducing the possessor of a stolen LS Lowry painting to a fence. He got off with a £300 fine. G He specifically said he did not want the shot of The Smiths that featured on the The Queen Is Dead sleeve to be used. G During a post-Smiths jjam with Paul McCartney, Marr told him about The Smiths’ messy split. “That’s bands for ya,” said Macca. G Recalling his rave days at the Haçienda, Marr observes that the stereotypical early ’90s Madchester pill-drongo “set the image of the Northern working class back 40 years.”
When The Screaming Stops: The Dark History Of The Bay City Rollers
Simon Spence OMNIBUS PRESS. £25
The full horrific story of “Scottish Savile” Tam Paton and the Bay City Rollers. By the end of the Bay City Rollers’ short reign as pop superstars in the late ’70s, their young lives were already ruined by predatory Svengali manager Tam Paton’s incessant abuse and the millions they had earned being spirited away by greedy accountants and ruthless record companies. Although lurid revelations about Paton, who died in 2009, and epic financial skulduggery have fed tabloids for years, this first proper account shows they were the tip of a massive iceberg that reached the highest levels of government (explaining Savile-style coverups). Spence should be commended for his brutally forensic detail over 540 pages, interviewing Rollers, associates and victims, though sometimes he derails his own flow with archaic phraseology (“her tits were enormous”, when describing a 14-year-old fan) or jarring typographical errors. A difficult read, and not for the squeamish. Kris Needs
Life And Death On The New York Dancefloor 1980-1983
Tim Lawrence DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS, £22.99
Painstaking chronicle of New York during its crucial melting-pot era. The tornado of creativity and seismic cultural revolutions that gripped 20th century New York seem doomed to be examined as separate movements rather than pieces of the same historical jigsaw, with the vital early ’80s often overshadowed by the previous decade. Thankfully, Tim Lawrence, author of Love Saves The Day:
A History Of American Dance Music Culture 1970-79 and Arthur Russell’s biography, has turned his forensic gaze on this most crucial time in New York’s history, when future cultural trends were forged in a frenzy of cross-pollination, experimentation and anarchic celebration before Reagonomics, AIDS and corporate takeovers crept in. Using hundreds of interviews, Lawrence intricately weaves evolving underground scenes, concurrently charting the rises of hip-hop, graffiti and electro, survival of disco, besieged gay scenes and post-punk (although overlooking Suicide), awarding each chapter its own playlist. Compelling and often beautiful, his meticulous account hums with incandescent street noise. Kris Needs
I Live Inside: Memoirs Of A Babe In Toyland
Michelle Leon MINNESOTA HISTORICAL PRESS. £16
Life with the pioneering noisers, as viewed from the trenches. Bassist with the molten Minnesota punk trio until early 1992, Michelle Leon’s memoir of her days with Babes In Toyland doesn’t aim to place the group into historical context or make grand claims for their roiling, brilliant noise. Rather, it’s an impressionistic account of tour buses, parties, backstage tension and on-stage exultation; Leon doesn’t attempt an objective overview of the Babes’ mission, and the book is a better read for it. Her diary-like entries would be less tolerable if she were a less sensitive or poetic writer, but Leon has a great feel for the personalities of her larger-thanlife, feet-of-clay bandmates and for the highs and lows of her touring life, able to grab nuanced poignancy from wandering hungover and unslept past queues of commuters, while the book’s later passages, covering her love for ill-fated roadie Joe Cole – shot dead in a robbery in December 1991 – are heavy and moving. Stevie Chick
Robbie Robertson WILLIAM HEINEMANN. £20
The Band’s tale beguiles still. How did a group so rich in talent and promise implode so hopelessly, only to pull the rabbit out of the hat with such a spectacular leaving do? Almost a quarter century after
the late Levon Helm published his autobiography, de facto Band leader/guitarist/ songwriter Robbie Robertson finally has his own say in the solemnly-titled Testimony. (Did he, one wonders, wait for Helm to go before committing pen to paper?) The sad truth, however, is that Testimony makes for a slightly soulless read. While there’s much to learn and many gaps filled in for the curious, the book is written in a clichéd style of numbing, if self-regarding, banality. However much sympathy one has with Robertson’s desperate attempts to herd The Band’s cats, there’s rarely the sense here of a flesh-and-blood human being behind the rote recollections. Helm’s book may have been written by Stephen Davis, but the drummer’s irresistible voice was audible in its every phrase. Barney Hoskyns
Total Chaos: The Story Of The Stooges – As Told By Iggy Pop
##### Jeff Gold
THIRD MAN. £40.70
A perfect marriage of Stooges-related images and Igster insight. Total Chaos deploys an effective ruse: Stooges memorabilia hoarder/former record label bigwig Jeff Gold shows Iggy his stash, then
Not doing comedy: The Stooges’ ringmaster Iggy Pop has the floor.
Steve Jones WILLIAM HEINEMANN. £20
Memoir of the “one-man West London crime wave” who gave the Pistols their Panzer tank guitar sound.
prints his responses as firstperson Stooges history. Evocative, often previously unpublished photos and facsimiles of recording contracts etc prove excellent aides-mémoire, Iggy soon riffing about living in a lavatory and telling of smoking dope with Chubby Checker. Nico and sometime Stooges producer John Cale are “The Munsters”, Ron Asheton contacts Three Stooges’ leader Moe Howard to clear purloining their name (“fine so long as you’re not doing comedy”), and with Iggy dipped in glitter or peanut butter, bleeding from errant stage-dives and suffering drug-related “total amnesia”, books don’t come more vivid or visceral. There are also Q&A’s with Josh Homme and Joan Jett, plus props from Jack White and Johnny Marr. Fitting, somehow, that White first encountered The Stooges’ Fun House – “the definitive rock album of America” – in a dumpster. James McNair
The fact the Sex Pistols looked so wrong was, of course, part of what made them so right. And Jones, seemingly a scaffolder in S&M gear, had a very strange energy: Lonely Boy explains why. Abused as a child by his stepfather – who demanded Jones give him a “pedal and crank” – he entered his teens a confused tearaway, addicted to stealing and “rumping” girls. The former enabled him to kickstart the Pistols by nicking David Bowie’s gear from the Hammersmith Odeon Ziggy shows; the latter to use prostitutes from age 15 and shag everyone in punk. Here, the Pistols’ story, retold refreshingly and with added rumpage, is followed by lurid episodes down-and-out in New York and LA, Jones out of his mind on smack. But what’s special about this book is its story arc, which will make the most hardened punk well up: he gets clean, finally meets his birth dad and completes a circle by playing the Pistols’ last (but one) show at the site of his Ziggy thievage. A poignant, honest, drily humorous rump-fest from a lost soul found. Pat Gilbert
Connected: manager, talent scout, enabler Danny Fields, “like a fuel line in a car”, said Iggy Pop.
Slapstick traces Homage to Danny Fields, one of rock and punk’s most irrepressible unsung heroes. By Sylvie Simmons.
MAGNOLIA PICTURES/DIR: BRENDAN TOLLER. DVD
IN THE photograph, five young men are standing in front of a brick wall. Four are longhaired, dressed in black jackets and threadbare
jeans – the Ramones. In the middle, looking like a college kid with his short wavy hair, hello-mum smile and an ironed, white Ramones T-shirt tucked into jeans so clean you can hear them squeak, is Danny Fields. Their manager. The book Danny Says gets its title from a song the Ramones wrote about him. It’s on their End Of The Century album– it’s also on the Bawlers part of Tom Waits’ Orphans triple album; Foo Fighters did it too. That’s the thing about Danny Fields, he turns up in all sorts of places. For one critical era in the musical history of New Y York, when folk became rock and rock
press conferences and live clips stitch together a narrative that makes sense of their extraordinary journey from loveable moptops to political menaces. The switch to US stadia in 1965 was the only way to cope with the chaotic crowds, and their refusal to play to a segregated audience in Jacksonville in ’64 ominously points the way to the extreme right-wing backlash in ’66, after the “bigger than Jesus” hoo-ha. In the end, it all got too mad, too dangerous. Pat Gilbert
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
STUDIO CANAL/DIR RON HOWARD. DVD/BR/DL
The Fabs viewed through the prism of their life on the road. When news broke of yet another Beatles doc, directed by Ron Howard – a Hollywood guy! – alarm bells rang. They oughtn’t have: for what many may think of as a very English tale is revealed by Howard to be an international story, the Fabs’ revolution as powerful in Helsinki and Beirut as in Ormskirk. The swathes of unseen overseas newsreels,
Stretch And Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives
Unlikely ’90s hip-hop gatekeepers tell their on-air story. “We changed what a mix-show could be,” says the young, beanpole DJ Stretch Armstrong midway through this retelling of hip-hop’s below-the-radar history in the pre-internet age. It’s no understatement. Alongside his nerdy flatmate Bobbito Garcia,
the pair turned an unpromising graveyard shift on Columbia University radio station WKCR into a microcosmic glimpse of rap’s future: their policy of unsigned acts, demo battles, freestyles and locker-room badinage crucially going out live with expletives undeleted. There’s revelatory audio of 16-year-old upstarts The Notorious B.I.G. and Nas, plus a ferocious face-off between Big L and Jay-Z that sent cassette traders crazy. And while Stretch And Bobbito aren’t averse to trumpeting their worth, hiphop’s hardest hitters all readily appear to back their claims. Andy Cowan
Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression – Live At The Royal Albert Hall
EAGLE ROCK. DVD/BR/DL
There goes success: Iggy bids adieu, May 13, 2016. By announcing that his album in cahoots with Josh Homme was a final joust with the mainstream music biz, Iggy Pop raised the stakes
became punk, there were few with a broader sweep, bigger heart and more connections than Fields. Managing was one of a long list of jobs he did, often barely paid. When he started with the Ramones he flew to Florida, where his mother lived, to ask for a $300 loan to pay for their equipment. Danny, as Punk magazine’s Legs McNeil says, “did it for love and art, not money or sex.” As a talent scout for Elektra, Fields got Jac Holzman to sign a volatile, hardcore-leftie, proto-punk band from Detroit called the MC5. He also got The Stooges their first record deal. Iggy, in one of many celebrity interviews, describes Danny as “a connector, like a fuel line in a car” – essential to making it run. Danny did it again when he introduced Iggy to David Bowie, figuring they’d get along. Fields also tried match-making his roommate Nico and Jim Morrison, the idea being that she would keep him away from all the groupies who were giving him junk and STDs. We get to hear quite how well that turned out. Danny persuaded Elektra to release a radio edit of The Doors’ lengthy Light My Fire, which propelled the band into the big leagues. He was also behind the release of David Peel & The Lower East Side’s Have A Marijuana album, another Elektra success. Holzman, n his interview, sounds genuinely sorry for firing Fields. A wunderkind, Danny had earned a Harvard law degree while still in his teens, but his sexuality made him feel like an outsider, unlike in the art and music demi-monde of New York. Y Warhol said, shortly before he died, that he’d love to make a film of Danny’s life. Instead we have this warm, crowd-funded indie documentary, which suits him fine. There’s old photos and footage, nifty animation and best of all, Danny and his stories – an opinionated, selfeffacing, hilarious raconteur.
for his 2016 tour – especially when Post Pop Depression was revealed as his most resonant solo record since The Idiott and Lust For Life. No one present at this show could doubt that they’d seen the best Iggy band since 1977’s Bowie/Gardiner/ Sales Bros line-up, and while the main man is the rightful focal point of this handsome production, equal credit is due to Homme, Helders, Fertita et al for nervelessly powering their hero to the pinnacle. Iggy’s emergence from the audience, bloodied but elated, after Funtime is as much a testimony to the group’s wired performance as his astonishing commitment to the cause. Keith Cameron
Superstars In Concert
FABULOUS FILMS. DVD
Essential footage of Faces, Hendrix, Stones and more. A mixtape-style canter through pop-rock’s history up to its 1973 release, Superstars In Concert at first doesn’t seem promising. Though credited as director, Peter Clifton – later behind The Song Remains The Same – cobbled together
footage from others in what claimed to be a record of superstars, indeed, in concert. The promo film for Cat Stevens’ Father And Son blows that title out of the water, but some mind-blowing raw material is featured. The Stones’ live-inthe-studio promo for Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a threatening, visceral record of the band in their made-up glory, while Pink Floyd’s live Careful With That Axe Eugene is jawdroppingly intense. On-stage, Tina Turner is so sexed-up the microphone she’s fondling might have gone off in her hand. Pumping live footage of Otis Redding on the UK leg of the 1967 Stax-Volt tour further makes the case for this delightful rag-bag. Kieron Tyler
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She’s got it Héloïse Letissier and her gang bring the full pop experience to Brixton. By Anna Wood.
Christine And The Queens
Brixton Academy, London
Simon Fernandez (5)
hristine And The Queens are the whole shebang – a singing, dancing, perfect pop sensation with super-catchy songs that encourage binge listening and wholehearted devotion. Their sole album, Chaleur Humaine, was released in the UK in February 2016, but they only really broke through here after an appearance on Later With Jools Holland in June. Tonight, Brixton Academy is heaving and tomorrow night’s gig is also sold out. The audience isn’t just here to see a good new band they’ve heard a couple of times on the radio, either. This is a fully adoring, rapt, singingalong-to-every-word crowd. There is whooping and ‘we love you’s and dancing and arm-waving. “I love every single one of you,” lead queen Héloïse Letissier tells them, and it seems like every single one of the 5,000 people here whoops and yells back. “Tonight you are free,” she declares. “Embrace and own everything you are.” And then they play iT, the opening song on the album and the very first song Letissier wrote: a piece of delicate, throbbing, disco pop that you can listen to and sing along to dozens of times before you realise it’s about a young woman imagining she has a penis. It reminds you how strange and catchy and subversive and sad and thoroughly joyful great pop music ca b There is a huge silhouette project behind Letissier, with legs wide like cowboy, looming over her and us. It great big shadow of the man she is n maybe, but she brings extraordinary elegant-macho prowess to the stage. She is a miniature Elvis, doing Jailhouse Rock knee-swings in her shirt and slacks. There is such theatricality in the show, from the call-and-response wi the guitarist during iT to the danglin striplights which move around like a Muybridge study of flight above the the spotlight on Letissier when she s Claude, like a tribute to Edith Piaf. And then there is the dancing. Le fronts the band, but is basically Chri The Queens all by herself, with thre playingg guitar and synths behind her she is joined by four extraordinary, l dancers, dressed in black just like he Sometimes there’s only two of th on-stage with her; sometimes none. one of them strolls on midsong, like extra in West Side Story. There are t interludes during the set, includingg a blast of Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You
Royal flush: Queen Christine, aka, Héloïse Letissier, brings elegant-macho prowess to the stage; (below) finding her inner Michael Jackson with looselimbed male dance troupe.
“CHRISTINE IS A MINIATURE ELVIS, DOING JAILHOUSE ROCK KNEESWINGS
City’s Good Life (“London!” she shout love house music!”), during which a da struts across the stage on his hands, an pirouettes and another steps forward a performs a breakdance windmill. Later are backflips, vogueingg and gravity-def leans and plunges. Mainly, though, they dance with Le in a gang of three or five, with loose lim and wonderful exactness. There’s a Pin modern dance influence in the miniatu dramas contained within this choreogr in the way the dancers move together l and without regiment, like a flock of b together byy a central idea rather than ju dance routine. Letissier is a performer who uses ev to demonstrate an idea or a feeling. Du Science Fiction there is an almost nimi piminy precision to her moves, other ti is Michael Jackson, with the MJ moves same awkward, jerky power. She has an earnestness and vulnerability which she full effect – beautiful and graceful and Letissier gallops across the stage, she sl mikestand to the floor, she sways and p she leans right over then snaps back, s crouches on fingertips and toes. Even t most heterosexual woman might find h wondering how powerful herr thighs mu She covers Terence Trent D’Arby’s s 1987 hit Sign Your Name – with just a and her clear, French-accented voice. S ‘fortunately’ five crystalline syllables, le startling octave for the chorus and pull ons from the crowd. Her voice y, it can be sulky and sweet and mes throaty, slipping between F glish, between whispers and go On Paradis Perdus she sings Kanye lyric, “You’ll never find ody better than me.” And if he s at this gig, even Kanye would ave to agree with her.
Starshipper / Half Ladies / iT / Science Fiction / Paradis Perdus / Here / No Harm Is Done / Tilted / Safe And Holy / Narcissus Is Back / Ugly-Pretty / Good Life /Intranquilité/ Saint Claude / Loving Cup / Sign Your Name / Nuit 17 À 52
Swiss synth-pop kings make concert debut 37 years after forming. By Ian Harrison.
Kraftwerk, Berlin ada, the galvanising art movement that was instigated in Zurich in 1916 and soon spread to Berlin and beyond, has often inﬂuenced the elegant absurdities, sonic montages and cartoony smarts of Swiss pop paradoxes Yello. A century after Hugo Ball ﬁrst ﬂoated the name, they’re retreading those Dadaesque steps in apt style: 37 years after their debut record release, Dieter Meier and Boris Blank are playing their ﬁrst ever full live show tonight, in a former power station in East Berlin. This frankly gobsmacking move is in support of Toy, y an outstanding return to the stirring diversities of mid-’80s classics such as Stella and One Second. Conse-
quently, as the s ld out c owd gather in this giant concrete arts space there is an air of happy unreality and expectation. How to make ﬂesh something that, apart from a few PA appearances, has existed purely in sound and vision since the Shah Of Iran was dethroned? As a big screen animation of the group’s name reforming into different words counts down into darkness, the set initially plays it coy, as two trumpeters blow long lonesome notes to projections of a futuristic megapolis, over the electronic ether of Toyy piece Magma. The thunderclap moment comes with Do It from 1994’s Zebra, an electro-acoustic tribal call to action over deliberation which Yello, presumably, are addressing to themselves. As well as Meier and Blank, who watches from an eyrie of keyboards, there’s a percussionist, drummer, guitarist and a ﬁve-piece horn section on-stage, soon to three dynamic female vo What follows is weigh though vintage selection
debut in Berlin; (insets below, from left) Boris Blank at eyrie of keyboards; Meier: “Do we have another song?”
“ SECRET ENVOYS FROM FROM SOME ELEVATED TINTIN ADVENTURE
noticed in the clubs of New York, sounds immense, a proto-acid subway train with phenomenal cowbell action and Meier’s percussive Anglo-European rapping, while a boinging yet somehow sombre re-make of 1985’s ubiquitous Oh Yeah is another highlight. The time scales involved are alluded to on a beefed up, mysterious take on Toy’s 30,000 Days – that’s the span of the average human life – and with torchy guest spots from vocalists Malia and Fiﬁ Rong, the set builds and ebbs and builds again, moving like a play, addressing the Yello obsessions of romance and intrigue. As gravel-voiced Meier dances with past versions of himself onscreen, it’s pleasing how unchanged he and Blank are, still e secret envoys from some ntin adventure of the mind. ding ovation time when ders, “Do we have another 1988’s lurid Number 7 hit eeds forth, a kinetic sonic that ﬁnds him clicking his s, happy in his vortex of tic perfection. The next day MOJO stops by their hotel for a quick word. ght they have any plans to ay, for example, 1986 killer oldrush in future? Boris, thus r the most reluctant to play e at all, starts scat-singing the ck’s rhythmic base. Dieter, aissance gentleman of wealth who’s just got off his rowing eclares himself happy with show, and talks about ates in London. All in, it’s an nd fabulous trick: a group er seemed completely real me vividly alive.
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Magma / Do It / The Evening’s Young / Limbo / Bostich / Electrified / Cold Flame / 30,000 Days / The Time Tunnel / Kiss The Cloud / Lost In Motion / Tied Up / Liquid Lies / Starlight Scene / Tool Of Love / Oh Yeah / Blue Biscuit / Si Senor Harry The Hairy Grill / The Race
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PERFORMING SONGS FROM THESE PEOPLE, HIS SOLO ALBUMS AND THE VERVE WITH THE HERITAGE ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY WIL MALONE
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OXFORD O2 ACADEMY BOURNEMOUTH O2 ACADEMY NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY NORWICH THE NICK RAYNS LCR, UEA GUILDFORD G LIVE LONDON O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN LONDON O 2 E X T R A D A T E A D D E D FORUM KENTISH TOWN MANCHESTER ALBERT HALL BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY LEEDS O2 ACADEMY GLASGOW O2 ABC
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WED 15 DONCASTER DOME
SUN 05 LONDON EVENTIM APOLLO
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Academy Events present presents
by arrangement with THE MAGNIFICENT AGENCY presents
in association with SPIDER TOURING present
THE WEDDING PRESENT PERFORMING THE ALBUM
PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
(PERFORMING LIVERPOOL ONLY - BOTH NIGHTS)
IN ITS ENTIRETY JUNE 2017 WEDNESDAY 7th NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY THURSDAY 8th BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY THURSDAY 15th BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY
Saturday 3rd December
BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2
SUNDAY 4 DECEMBER LONDON O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE T SATURDASOLD OU DECEMBER
Wednesday 21st December
GLASGOW O2 ABC2 Thursday 22nd December
SECOND DATE ADDED DUETO POPULAR DEMAND
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NEWCASTLE O2 Academy
SUPPORTING DAMIEN DEMPSEY @ CELTIC CONNECTIONS
THURSDAY 2nd FEBRUARY GLASGOW O2 ABC2 FRIDAY 3rd FEBRUARY LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 presents
AN EV ENI NG W I T H
FRI 27 GLASGOW O2 ABC2 SAT 28 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY
FEBRUARY 2017 SAT 04 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 SAT 11 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY2 FRI 17 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY3 SAT 18 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY2 FRI 24 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY SAT 25 LONDON O2 ACADEMY2
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in association with SPIDER TOURING presents
SATURDAY 4th FEBRUARY BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY3
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS
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S OU T HM A R T I NS PLUS GUESTS
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NATIONAL TOUR 2017
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SUN THU FRI SAT
4th 15th 16th 17th
DECEMBER 2016 LONDON O2 Academy Islington NEWCASTLE O2 Academy2 SHEFFIELD O2 Academy2 MANCHESTER Club Academy
THEJAMESHUNTERSIX · JAMESHUNTERMUSIC.COM ·
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‘EXILE TO BLUES’
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DID THEY ALL JOIN IN? Has anyone got the actual photograph used on the front of Island’s 1969 budget sampler You Can All Join In? Wikipedia says artists 1, 13 and 23 in its key to the shot are Clive Bunker, Richard Thompson and Chris Mercer, but where are they? Richard Prout, via e-mail Fred says: Over to Neil Storey, creator of the superb Island Book Of Records project: “The picture was taken early morning, in Hyde Park, by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis, who perched atop of a step-ladder to get everyone in the frame. The album was the idea of then Island MD David Betteridge, with the basic premise that it was to be an LP of everyone then on the label. Originally, Chris Blackwell planned it as a gatefold sleeve but production costs negated that and that’s why there appears to be a strange crop on the left hand side of the cover.” As for our missing subjects, he offers, “Richard Thompson? My guess is that’s his hair to be seen just to Iain Matthews’ right. Is that Chris Mercer with a quarter face barely visible? Impossible to say. Clive Bunker? Only he could tell you.” Not all Island acts are shown, Neil adds: Nick Drake and John Martyn aren’t there; Mike Harrison H i iis the h only l SSpooky k TTooth h member b whose face can be seen (Mike Kellie and Greg Ridley were stoned, got on the wrong tube, and arrived just as everyone was leaving). Neil also says, “Alex and Patrick from Nirvana arrived straight from an all-nighter at the Speakeasy, and Patrick remembers Trafﬁc’s Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi arriving in a mudsplattered jeep straight from their Berkshire cottage. And why is Ian A. Anderson (the bearded Manfred Mann look-alike in the centre) there at all? Most
y Breakdown – was due for release. However, Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, aware of the confusion, successfully petitioned for it to be excluded. Has anyone got the original picture? Unlikely, unless Aubrey Powell has an outtake of a colour dupe. In those days, the original went to the record company for repro and very rarely was the image returned. Incidentally, You Can All Join In reached Number 5 in the charts (conﬁrmed by Record Retailer April 2, 1969) and not Number 18 as mentioned in Wiki.”
PETER AND POE Regarding the Edgar Allan Poe query in MOJO 275. Shortly before his death, Debussy attempted to write an opera based on The Fall Of The House Of Usher. Philip Glass actually did so in 1987. Arid Stromsrag, via e-mail Fred says: I’ve since been reminded that Peter Hamm based on 1991. R Bizza by V Smi on t Bell
WHICH WAS THE FIRST ROCK CONCERT VIDEO? Traffic (main, from left) Chris Wood, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi go “thrrrp!”; You Can All Join In cover shot; Jeff Finlin; Debussy; Gary Numan’s
I was trying to work out exxactly when rock concert recordings ofﬁcia ally appeared on video and, of course, subssequently on DVD. Also, who was the ﬁrrst band or artist to be featured? Richard White, via e-mail Fred says: It’s generally acccepted that Gary Numan’s The Touring Princciple ’79, released in April 1980, was the ﬁrst music video to make it into the sh hops, beating The Beat b by a few weeks. A Numan’s stage extravareleased by Mortal in t containe ed no further aising the e still unanquestion about what ned to the original footage d at the Hammersmith
WHAT INSPIRED SUGAR BLUE? I love Jeff Finlin’s s Blue. So did Came it seems, for he us song in the sound his ﬁlm Elizabetht What inspired Fin write the song, an where is the used installation seen o of Somewhere Sou Wonder, r the Finlin album on which Sugar Blue ﬁrst appeared? M George,via e-m Fred says: I invited Finlin himself to an
HELP FRED… ever happened to rina Phillip ps, who sang h The Colourﬁeld and eletal Fam mily? I could ver see e Beautifu ul South without nking of her h 1985 duet h Terry Hall Ha on Thinking You.
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
Confused about whether to get up, get down or get over? Heed Dellar’s video, LP sleeve and opera counsel!
this. He said: “Sugar Blue? I hit my bottom really in 1997 and had to get sober. I thought it was the worst thing that could probably have happened to me. But in the end, it turned out to be the best thing. It was the beginning of a great adventure for me, one that included the transcendence of opposites, a spiritual life, somewhere in the middle of what we see as good and bad right and wrong bad, wrong, a magical ma place really, where a new dimenssion opens up – all of my work has really been b about that journey.” As to Somewhere South Of Wonder with its ‘car-henge’ sleeve, Finlin says: “The cover was sent to me by a designer in London actually – but iro onically the installation is right up the rroad from me in Alliance, western Nebraskaa. I’ve never been there but I’m actually thinkking of driving up that way.” Finlin, who is currrently working on a new book of poetry, plays UK dates in February 2017 to promote Life After Death, his 20-track compilation.
STRANGE CELESTIAL ABBEY ROAD
ANSWERS MOJO 276 Across: 1 Ozzy Osbourne, 7 Act, 9/7down Ian Anderson, 10 Willie Nelson, 11 Dan, 12 Sue, 13 Aly Bain, 14 Nat, 15 Hats, 17 Spence, 18 Easy, 19 Skid Row, 21 Vai, 22 Lark, 23 Praise, 24 Nanci, 26 You’ll See, 27 Lane 28 Nitin Sawhney, 31 Everly, 32 Eye, 34 P.Y.T., 36 Cee Lo Green, 37 Odyssey, 38 Dru, 39 Rhino, 40 Peek-A-Boo, 41 Nigeria, 42 Mekons, 43/35 Cheap Trick, 45 N-Joi, 47 Ether, 48 Love, 49 Go For Broke, 50 Basil, 51 Lilac, 53 A Northern, 56 Planes, 57 Eminem, 58 Santigold
Win! Revolver swag and a TG2-500 microphone pre-amp.
orld famous recording facility Abbey Road Studios is offering one lucky MOJO reader a chance to win its exclusive Revolver 1966 merchandise range, and the TG2-500 microphone pre-ampliﬁer – all worth a total of £850! Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ landmark album and comprising a T-shirt, linen tote-bag, notebook and mug, the Revolver 1966 range is emblazoned with a bold 1966 graphic using Klaus Voormann’s iconic LP artwork. And for musicians and producers seeking vintage Abbey Road sonic character, the TG2-500 is essential. D i d by Ch dl r Li it d, it’ th i recreation of the on the Abbey Road ng the sessions for de Of The Moon LPs. d, and send the oad, MOJO, 3rd Floor, don WC2 8JG. Please mber with your entry. www.mojo4music. L or XL!
Down: 1 Otway, 2 Zal Yanovsky, 3 Onions, 4 Bonnie Raitt, 5 Rust Never Sleeps, 6 Einstein, 8 Tench, 13 Ask, 16 Tyranny, 19 Style Council, 20 Dolores Keane, 22 Lily, 23 Penny, 25 Ash, 29 Wooden Horse, 30 Nirvana, 32 End Of The Line, 33 Ecuador, 34 Pyramid Song, 36 Crown Of Horn, 44 Peel, 46 Trot, 49 Glass, 50 Bell, 52 Come, 54 Hag, 55 Ned. Winner: Jane Sendel of Sheffield and Malcolm Stobbart of Prenton each win a Chord Mojo DAC and headphone amp.
39 42 41
Getty Images (3)
1 He memorably declared, “the internet is completely over.” (6) 4 Phil Collins’ debut solo album (4,5) 9 Dylan album that starts with a Wiggle Wiggle (5,3,3,3) 10 Gold or Ridgley maybe (6) 12 Lyrics – or a complete Bee Gees hit (5) 13 See photoclue A (4,5) 17 Rappers hidden amid Loudon Wainwright (1.1.1,) 18 See 51 Down 19 Feeling of achievement resulting from a Robert Palmer album? (5) 20/12D The male half of Everything But The Girl (3,4) 21 Neil Young’s somewhat hyphenated release (2-2-3) 23 See photoclue B (4) 25 Madness went driving in my one (3) 26 Agreed, this was a hit for Ash (2,4) 27 Harold Faltermeyer hit that spawned a Crazy Frog (4,1) 28 Reg Lane becomes super soul man (2,5) 29 Tangerine Dream album recorded live in 1990 (4) 30 Wordy genre (3) 31 Shows or performances (4) 33 A request to play it again, Sam? (6) 34 Pet Shop Boys definite no-no (3,1,3) 36 Could be Junior, could be Mary (5) 38 Crosby, Stills and him (4) 39 Attractive like Phil May’s Things (6) 40 King Crimson’s reptilian album (6) 42 Woking road brought to fame by Paul Weller in 1995 (7) 44 Ripped apart like those Enz or a Lush album (5) 45 It’s a great reissue label (3) 46 The Nice’s final official album (5) 47 The Strawbs’ album collected these along with curios (8) 48 Goodbye in Fierce fashion (2,4) 49 Ben who’s also known as Plan B (4) 51 George Benson album that soared to platinum status (2,6) 53 --- Farlow, jazz guitarist known as Octopus (3) 54 The kind of game played by Otis Redding (5) 55 This ‘80s band started out as the Leyton Buzzards (6,7) 57 Cliff, UK folkie prominent on the ‘60s scene (7) 58 Kinks thoroughfare that was visited by The Jam (4,3,6)
1 Free singer (4,7) 2 The B-side to The Beatles’ Help (2,4) 3/23 Rhythmic munching as promoted by Blondie (3,2,3,4) 4 Aka Larry Lurex (7,7) 5 All I Really Want To Do was her first UK solo hit (4) 6 The surname is Bunyan (6) 7 “What’ll you do when you get lonely” (Derek & The Dominos) (5) 8 Folk singer (and MBE) McCarthy (5) 11 Direction for Elvis Costello in 2003 (5) 12 See 20 Across 13 Burdon located in America (4) 14 “Floating, bumping, noses dodge a tooth” (Syd Barrett) (8) 15 Stackridge’s flautist-vocalist (6,6) 16 Roxy Music album – perhaps noisy (5) 22 A 100-eyed giant – like a Wishbone Ash album (5) 24 John, Daryl Hall’s partner in song (5) 26 Jimmy Smith or Booker T maybe? (8) 30 New Order’s non-relaxing single (8) 32 Alley that inspired Rod Stewart’s second solo album (8) 35 See photoclue C (5,6) 37 Band named after a holy island (11) 39 Ain’t That ----- (Marvin Gaye) (8) 41 The Turners – as they were (3,3,4,) 42 Jackson Browne hit, popular with the Remain party? (4) 43 Relatively a Mothers Of Invention release (5,4) 45 Record label that eventually changed its name to Folkways (4) 50 International arts festival launched by Peter Gabriel (5) 51/18 Her Acoustic Soul album garnered seven Grammy nominations (5,4) 52 Cat’s beverage for the Tillerman (3) 53 Macy Gray album, starts by Relating To A Psychopath (3,2) 56 We --- At Sea (Pigeon Detectives LP) (3)
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CHUCK MOSLEY AND FAITH NO MORE His “yelling to the beat” helped invent rap-rock – but that loud mouth led “outside inﬂuences” to unseat him.
Tony Mottram/Retna/Photoshot, courtesy of Chuck Mosley, Getty Images
HELLO LATE 1984 Bill [Gould, FNM bassist] and I had played together in our ﬁrst band The Animated, playing super-fast pop songs, kinda like The Dickies. Then he went to university in Berkeley, where he and Roddy [Bottum, keyboards] met Mike [Bordin, drums], and they started Faith No More. They always had trouble hanging onto singers singers, so whenever they played LA, Billy would ask me to sing. I wasn’t a singer, I’d just go up there and rant and yell. For a while Faith No More had Courtney Love singing with them, but that didn’t work out. I had my own band, Haircuts That Kill, and I’d met a girl from Holland and was gonna move out there. Then Billy said, “We’ve got shows booked but no singer, come sing with us again.” And we actually did pretty good – we might even have practised beforehand. Then Bill booked some more shows, and then it turned into an album and a tour. I had to say goodbye to Holland. Our shows were really chaotic, punk rock, but the music they made was so different, really ahead of its time, and I wanted to make my vocals as good as I could.
On the rhythmic stuff, I would rap, or rant. I loved rap, though I wasn’t any good at it. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was yelling to the beat. And not to brag or anything, but yeah, I’m the ﬁrst person who rapped over rock. I took some singing lessons for the melodic stuff, but really it was listening to David Bowie that taught me how to croon. I loved them all, even Jim [Martin, guitarist], though I antagonised him. Jim’s a fuckin’ genius, he just didn’t understand ghetto people. I was outspoken, loudmouthed, the only one who didn’t grow up with money. I’d ask why we were paying people working on our tour $ $100 a day and only getting $10 ourselves. So I complained a lot, and we fought a lot. But I always thought the ﬁghting added to the aggression of the live show, and to the music.
GOODBYE JUNE 1988 The friction between us never bothered me, but outside inﬂuences – managers, label people – started putting pressure on the band to get rid of me before they recorded the third album. Warners reckoned it could go platinum. I was a ‘trouble-maker’, and they knew it’d cost a lot more to get rid of me after the band got successful. Roddy was closest to me, so they got him to tell me over the phone that I was ﬁred. I was very upset. I tried to show that I was a team player and that I would shut the fuck
1988 (fro l ft) Bill Gould, Jim Martin, Mosley, Roddy Bottum, Mike Bordin; (bottom) early days; (below) Chuck in 2016.
“I COMPLAINED A LOT, AND WE FOUGHT A LOT.”
dis issal, so no one did anything to dispel them. After a while, they became part of the narrative, taking on a life of their own. But any real issues with drugs arose after I was ﬁred. I felt cheated, as I never really wanted to sing for them in the ﬁrst place. I had other plans, but I started to realise they were on to something. And right when things started rolling along, I was ﬁred with no explanation. It hurt something awesome, and to kill the pain, I turned to drugs. That day, in fact. I made up with the group soon after the legal stuff was settled – I was Roddy’s date to the 1990 Grammys, we’ve all been tight since then. They re-released our debut album We Care A Lot this summer, and we played a couple of shows together in August. August It was scary – I wanted people to acknowledge that I did a good job when I was in the band – but it was great, a huge, tearful love-fest. As told to Stevie Chick We Care A Lot (Deluxe Band Version) is out available now
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