discover the best new releases
Parquet Courts Wide Awaaaaake!
Ray LaMontagne Part Of The Light
Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
Produced by Danger Mouse, this is the band’s ﬁfth album, packed with their traditional punk rock passion as well as a lyrical tenderness.
Grammy Award-winning Ray’s seventh studio album includes the hypnotic single Such A Simple Thing.
One of the most distinctive voices in music returns with the follow-up to her recent top 10 collaboration, Lotta Sea Lice, with Kurt Vile.
The Irish alternative rockers make a welcome return with album #7. Includes the singles Buzzkill and Annabel.
Ry Cooder The Prodigal Son
Loreena McKennitt Lost Souls
Beach House 7
out now on CD & exclusive red viny
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
Wolfgang Voigt unveils his sixth album as GAS, the outlet for his selected ambient works.
Loreena’s ﬁrst release of original material since 2006 - a rich and culturally eclectic recording and an exotic musical journey like no other.
Beach House’s approach in the creation of 7 was one of rebirth and rejuvenation. Includes the single Lemon Glow.
The Magic Numbers Outsiders
Neko Case Hell-On
Lykke Li So Sad So Sexy
Gruff Rhys Babelsberg
out now on CD & vinyl
out 1 June on CD & vinyl
out 8 June on CD
out 8 June on CD & vinyl
This album, though recognisable as a Magic Numbers record in its melodies, is brimming with conﬁdence and has a more bluesy guitar sound.
Case’s ﬁrst solo LP in half a decade features contributions from Mark Lanegan, k.d. lang, Beth Ditto and more.
The critically acclaimed Lykke Li now unleashes her fourth studio album. Includes the stunning singles Hard Rain and Deep End.
Gruff’s ﬁfth and ﬁnest album to date features the 72 piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales with orchestral scores by Stephen McNaff.
This new album is framed by Cooder’s expressive vocals and graceful, elegant guitar work.
home of entertainment
LONDO JULY 2018
DAMO SUZUKI Can’s vocal vortex on life-asimprov, rum contracts and Jürgen Klopp. “When by accident something happens,” he insists, “it’s more interesting than if you plan it.”
KAMASI WASHINGTON South Central LA’s street fighter-turned-saxophone colossus is bringing jazz into the 21st century, on a cosmic scale. Snoop and Kendrick are along for the ride.
PATTI SMITH As she gears up for UK shows, rock’s poet-in-chief relives her life on stage. Includes: writing for Janis; the clarinet controv; that Nobel prizegiving, and more!
PAUL SIMON How his visits to Britain between 1963 and 1965 are more significant than previously thought. Revelations courtesy of Robert Hilburn’s remarkable new biography.
COVER STORY PINK FLOYD’S 50 GREATEST SONGS From the cauldron of Syd Psych to the emotional journeys of Dark Side… and beyond, the Ultimate Head Band’s omni-brilliance explored. Plus: insiders speak! And: how Nick Mason is taking Early Floyd on the road!
“I ran the band pretty tight. I would read T. E. Lawrence to them while they were trying to eat.” PATTI SMITH, P.50 MOJO 3
ALL BACK TO MY PLACE Liz Phair, Larry Heard and Victor Willis, Village People lawman, bring the post-pub noise.
Amyl And The Sniffers: hair apparent in MOJO Rising, p29.
THEORIES, RANTS, ETC
REAL GONE Cecil Taylor, Charles Neville,
Saluting Spooky Tooth and multiple Yeses. Bob Dorough and more, we bid you adieu.
126 ASK FRED What was the great Ur-reverb? 130 HELLO GOODBYE Ian Burden on
Yo La Tengo: shake, rattle and roll, Lives, p116.
the warm-up and the freeze-out of his seven years in The Human League.
WHAT GOES ON! 14
CRAZY HORSE So Neil Young got back together with his most storied band for the first time in four years, and played in Fresno without rehearsing? MOJO reports from the front row.
CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON Fresh from playing Macbeth in Stratford, the distinguished actor selects reggae, funk, northern spoken word and other sounds and furies that signify everything.
Future days: Natalie Prass, Lead Album, p86.
SUEDE They've made album eight in Willesden, using (they claim) the only vintage desk in London not used on The Dark Side Of The Moon. Anderson’s men open up about gateway songs, terror and sounding like themselves..
NORMA WATERSON The folk dynast and timeless voice confides about past days, new work and finding a place in the endless river of song .
THE CURE In 1987 Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me threatened to make them into a pop band. The gothic weight of Disintegration saw Robert Smith taking control of his band's destiny. An Eyewitness special goes into the hows, whys, and what?
MOJO FILTER 86
NEW ALBUMS Natalie Prass’s postTrump catharsis. Plus, Father John Misty, Gruff Rhys, Janelle Monáe, Johnny Marr, Nas, Ray LaMontagne, Wilko Johnson and more.
102 REISSUES Gene Clark unearthed. Plus, Bruce Springsteen, Nina Simone, Brian Eno, Zuider Zee, Diana Ross And The Supremes and more.
114 BOOKS Robert Gordon’s vivid reflections of Memphis. Plus Billy Fury and a double hit of grime.
116 LIVES Yo La Tengo bring the noise to Dublin and Leon Bridges gets soulful in London town.
ing to meet Damo, could barely believe hen I started listening y teens. I have a booklising in photography and Berlin, I take ple and my travels,and n Of Anti-Matter.We a new record out and are touring this year.
MOJO Associate Can vocalist Dam about his first b occasions over t succeeded with Interview.This m also dug talking Williamson,fou fifths of Suede a Christopher Eccl
ritic for the Los y 35 years, during he legends of popular nce 2005, he has Flakes With John g biography of nd Paul Simon: which he spoke for more than 100 ’s extracted from p56.
Micky Kelleher, Jamie Wdziekonski
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE
To begin: a galloping voluntary from Wayne Coyne and his coconspirators, fearlessly in thrall to Pink Floyd’s One Of These Days. A highlight of 2006’s At War With The Mystics: within three years, the Lips’ Floyd fetish would extend to covering The Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety. Written by Fridmann, Kurstin. Published by 2006 EMI Blackwood Music Inc./Lovely Sorts of Death Music BMI. 2006 Kurstin Music (ASCAP) / EMI April Music, Inc. Taken from the album At War With The Mystics.
The relative calm after the storm, as two signiﬁcant forces on the Chicago music scene (lauded by Ryley Walker in last month’s MOJO) face off. Imagine freeform ‘60s Floyd fused with the ambient grandeur of their ‘70s incarnation, and you’re close to the potency achieved on Anemometer. Written by Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas. & 2015 Drag City, Inc. Taken from the album Automaginary. Available at http://www. dragcity.com/products/automaginary
Located deep in the Krautrock hinterlands, Malesch is the title track of Agitation Free’s 1972 debut: a questing, elaborate workout inspired – as the ﬁeld recording which opens the track suggests – by the band’s travels in Egypt. In an unlikely bid to turn on the planet, their career peaked that year with a performance as part of the Munich Olympics’ cultural programme.
A bold vocalist/composer from Orcas Island, far north of Seattle, Smith brings a glimmering sense of New Age wonder to her music, predominantly made on a vintage Buchla modular synth. An Intention comes from her serenely ambitious 2017 set The Kid, a concept album charting nothing less than the entire human lifespan.
The American jazz trumpeter has been a key player for over four decades, not least as a collaborator with Floyd’s progressive contemporaries, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. The gaseous blues of Dreaming comes from Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One), his ﬁrst album in nine years, which is reviewed on page 94.
Written by Ulbrich, Schwenke, Rausch, Hoenig, Günther. Special-Guest Hamel (org)). & Agitation Free. Available from SPV / MIG www.agitationfree.com
Written by Smith. Published by Kaitlyn Smith & : Western Vinyl. Taken from the album The Kid.
Written by Hassell. Published by Metisse Music. Licensed courtesy of Ndeya Records. Taken from the album Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One).
“Inner Space Rock offerings from the Woodlands of Washington” is how William Sol advertises his myriad releases as Prana Crafter online. A sacred guitar jam at once reminiscent of Gilmour, Popol Vuh and the referenced Ash Ra Tempel, Holy Tempel Of Flow comes from Sol’s recent Bodhi Cheetah’s Choice cassette.
Entourage Music And Theatre Ensemble were an esoteric project fusing jazz, folk and classical minimalism in New York through the mid-‘70s. This atmospheric, recently rediscovered track shows how narrow the sonic gap was between Floyd at their regal zenith, and the more beatiﬁc denizens of the avant-garde.
A Swedish psych-prog behemoth whose career dates back (under the name Pärson Sound) to The Pink Floyd’s formative years, the surviving members of Träd Gräs called time on recording last year with a valedictory album, weighted with poignancy: Tack För Kaffet (So Long).
Written by Sol. 2018 William Sol Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records. Taken from the album Bodhi Cheetah’s Choice. Available at https:// pranacrafterbbib.bandcamp.com/album/ bodhi-cheetahs-choice
Written by Clark. admin. By Concord Sounds obo Tompkins Square Publishing USA) (ASCAP) Taken from the 3CD set, Ceremony Of Dreams: Studio Sessions & Outtakes, 1972-1977 (TSQ 5463) Tompkinssquare.com
Written by Fiske, Gartz, Persson, Sjöholm) published by Publisher Psychedelic Sorcery Music & Subliminal Sounds 2017. Taken from the album Tack For Kaffet (So Long). Available at http://www. subliminalsounds.se
OW TO CHART THE EXPANSES OF INNER AND outer space with music? It’s a challenge which has invigorated wave after wave of psychedelic adventurers, many of whom were emboldened by the pioneering work of Pink Floyd. Long-form investigations like Echoes – source, of course, of our Bright Ambassadors Of Morning title – stretched the boundaries of what rock could sound like, what a rock song could do, and how long it could last. Guitarists were untethered from the simple business of rifﬁng. Electronics were deployed for transcendent purposes. Musical maps were redrawn on a whim. Whole new worlds opened up, ready to be explored by artists like the 12 assembled here on this latest, furthest-out MOJO CD. They range from Floyd’s contemporaries and fellow travellers, through to new players from 2018’s hypnagogic underground. All, though, are united by an imperishable instinct to go further. Throw the windows wide, and play loud across the sky!
Along with kindred spirits Floating Points, Holden is a British electronica producer who has recently expanded his set-up to incorporate a distinctly Floydian live band, The Animal Spirits. Exhibit A: this stately lunar overture, complete with saxophone shade from Etienne Jaumet that captures the spirit of Dick Parry. Written by Holden. Published by Warp Publishing. & Border Community Recordings Ltd 2017. Taken from the album The Animal Spirits. Available at www. jamesholden.org www.bordercommunity.com
Few of Pink Floyd’s contemporaries have steered such a parallel course as Phil Manzanera, culminating in work with David Gilmour and a production credit on Floyd’s The Endless River. Here, in the companyof his current Sound Of Blue band, Manzanera revisits the luxuriant title track of his 1975 solo debut. Written by Manzanera. Published Gallery Music Ltd. Kobalt. Taken from the album Phil Manzanera And The Sound Of Blue Band Live In Japan released October 2017 on Expression Records Ltd. Available at https:// burningshed.com/store/philmanzanera/philmanzanera_live-in-japan_cd
Kosmische folk from Eastern Europe, you say? Look no further than the engrossing rituals enacted by Wacław Zimpel and Kuba Ziołek, multi-tasking vets from the Polish underground scene. Memory Dome is a looping accumulation of brackish strumming, jazz-tinged reed drones and hushed invocations, remarkable for its concentrated ritual intensity. The opening track from last year’s self-titled hidden gem of an album. Written by Zimpel/Ziolek. Copyright Instant Classic. All Rights Reserved. Zimpel Ziołek album available on CD, LP and digital. http://instant-classic.com
The Runt retools his extravagant vision with the help of cosmic disco kingpin Lindstrøm and his Norwegian colleague, Nikolaisen. A fantasia of multitracked Todds, programmed for maximum lysergic disorientation. Written by Todd Rundgren / Emil Nikolaisen / HansPeter Lindstrøm (Rundgren, Nikolaisen, Lindstrøm). & Smalltown Supersound. Taken from the album Runddans (Smalltown Supersound). Available at www.smalltownsupersound.com
Paul McCartney 2018 Editions
NEW • Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Wings Greatest • Thrillington On 180g black vinyl limited edition colour vinyl and CD digipak
Out Now PaulMcCartney.com
Liz Phair GUYVILLE EXILE What music are you currently grooving to? Seinabo Sey’s new video for Breathe, Hinds, Aldous Harding, and Juliana Hatfield’s Olivia Newton-John covers. What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? Exile On Main St. It’s the most nutritionally complete banquet of an album. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a rock star, you can just listen to that album and then you’ll pretty much have lived it. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? The first vinyl record I ever bought was an album by Madness. I mistakenly thought it had Our House on it. I was in Vienna, on a trip with my parents. Everybody was wandering around another charming cathedral. I dipped into a record shop to try and look cool, determined to show up to lunch with a vinyl record in my bag. But man, was I disappointed when I realised the single wasn’t on there.
Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? I think it would be fun to be in Metallica right now. What do you sing in the shower? This morning I sang John Mayer’s Daughters to cleanse myself from reading the disturbing details in the Cosby verdict. What is your favourite Saturday night record? I’m not sure I play music on Saturday nights. I leave the weekends to the millennials. But if I want to bring up the energy I might put on Parquet Courts’ Human Performance. And your Sunday morning record? Something like Nick Drake’s Pink Moon would be good, or Joanna Newsom’s Ys. Maybe Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. Sunday music should transport you to another place in your mind. Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set is out now on Matador.
IN WHICH THE STARS REVEAL THE SONIC DELIGHTS GUARANTEED TO GET THEM GOING...
Victor Willis VILLAGE PEOPLE’S ROZZER What music are you currently grooving to? D-Train and The Invisible Man’s Band. For new stuff, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Meek Mill.
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. I liked the concept, telling the story of somebody coming back from the war and dealing with the drug scene, the children, saving the babies… Or Village People’s Cruisin’, with Y.M.C.A. on it. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? Probably a Temptations record, maybe My Girl or I Wish It Would Rain. I was living in San Francisco the Haight A w r t u C W t y t I I t b
myself. But I’ve admired quite a few artists – Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Otis Redding… But we’ve all got our own style.
What do you sing in the shower? My own songs, the stuff I’m getting ready to go and have to go and do in my show later in that evening. (sings) “Y-MC-A!” Sure, people still love those songs.
What music are you currently grooving to? Well, putting an album together, mixing it down, working on the show… I’ve been listening to my own music. When your livelihood is music, sometimes you don’t get to hear everybody else’s.
What is your favourite Saturday night record? Depends. If it was partying, Edwin Starr, I used to sing 25 Miles, or the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive. Or if it was romance, it would be a nice slow jam – Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye – (sings) “Can’t get enough of your love, babe!” And your Sunday morning record? Probably church music, gospel. I used to listen to Aretha was a and so sed etha’s the c co 2 ge mmps, and begins rch 21,
MR. FINGERS, HOUSE MUSIC LEGEND
NOW PLAYING ● Liz Phair’s all-time fave is the Stones’ 1972 wasted outlaw classic Exile On Main S – for her money St. the quintessence of rock-star excess. ● For a romantic, slow-jam Saturday night, Victor Willis puts Barry White’s 1974 signature Number 1 Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe on the turntable. ● Larry Heard still gets a frisson of long, late Chicago weekends with Oliver Cheatham’s 1983 party anthem Get Down Saturday Night.
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? I have a room full of favourite albums. But if I had to pick out something, there are a lot of selections on Songs In The Key Of Life I enjoy. I can’t say I’ve ever done any critical thinking about it. I want to feel more than think. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? It was Sly & The Family Stone, the 45 of Hot Fun In The Summertime. I was nine years old and I saved my lunch money to buy it. Chances are the store was Metro Music in our neighbourhood in Chicago. That got wore out – when you only have one record, you play it a zillion, trillion times. Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be?
I’ve admired tons of guys: Chick Corea, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Luther Vandross. But you have to switch back to reality. What do you sing in the shower? I don’t sing anything, uh-uh. What is your favourite Saturday night record? I don’t have one. I’m approaching 60 – I’ll be in bed, no matter if I am Mr. Fingers! But Oliver Cheatham’s Get Down Saturday Night was a song for getting ready to go out and party. Hearing that would immediately make you think back to fun times with friends. And your Sunday morning record? The news. I’d go to church and then start working again. I do music like everyone does a shift at their job. It’s not 24/7 – that much music would get boring. You have to leave room to want it. Mr. Fingers’ Cerebral Hemispheres is out now on Alleviated Records.
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Editor John Mulvey Senior Editor Danny Eccleston Art Editor Mark Wagstaff Associate Editor (Production) Geoff Brown Associate Editor (Reviews) Jenny Bulley Associate Editor (News) Ian Harrison Picture Editor Matt Turner Senior Associate Editor Andrew Male Associate Deputy Art Editor Russell Moorcroft Contributing Editors Phil Alexander, Keith Cameron, Sylvie Simmons For mojo4music.com contact Danny Eccleston
THEORIES, RANTS, ETC. MOJO welcomes letters for publication. Write to: MOJO Mail, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT. NEW E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PINK FLOYD?
Over the next few weeks, there’s a chance to examine two radically different options. Roger Waters brings the polemical spectacular of Us + Them to arenas and vast outdoor spaces around the UK and Europe. But on a much smaller scale, the appearance of Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets marks a poignant new chapter in the Floyd saga. We join the drummer as he reconnects with songs Pink Floyd left behind a half-century ago: a set of freakouts and idiosyncrasy that frames a time before The Dark Side Of The Moon, and revitalises the legacy of Syd Barrett. It’s a good time, then, for MOJO’s electoral college of heads to work out something akin to a definitive Floyd Top 50. There are deathless anthems, lost treasures, a prevailing sense of psychedelia being reconfigured for new eras, a cameo from Emily, and a tar monster with bladder control issues. “It’s 50 years ago, but those songs have lasted pretty well,” understates Mason, before speculating what might happen were Waters and David Gilmour to guest with him. “If we found ourselves reunited as Pink Floyd,” says Mason, “the whole world would come to an end!”
Thanks for their help with this issue:
Mark Blake, Keith Cameron, Fred Dellar, Del Gentleman Among this month’s contributors: Matt Allen, Martin Aston, Mike Barnes, Mark Blake, Glyn Brown, David Cavanagh, Stevie Chick, Andy Cowan, Fred Dellar, Tom Doyle, Andy Fyfe, Pat Gilbert, Mark Golley, Robert Hillburn, Will Hodgkinson, David Hutcheon, Jim Irvin, Colin Irwin, David Katz, James McNair, Joe Muggs, Kris Needs, Chris Nelson, Carl Magnus Palm, Mark Paytress, Andrew Perry, Jon Savage, Victoria Segal, David Sheppard, Michael Simmons, Sylvie Simmons, Mat Snow, Jeff Tamarkin, Kieron Tyler, Charles Waring, Lois Wilson, Stephen Worthy
Among this month’s photographers: Covers: Barrie Wentzell, Baron Wolman. Warwick Baker, Danny Clinch, Andrew Cotterill, Joe Dilworth, Jill Furmanovsky, Micky Kelleher, Colm Kelly, Adrian Matthews, Tom Sheehan, Peter Still, Emma Tillman, Cornell Van Der Windt.
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JOHN MULVEY, EDITOR You’re beautiful! Another excellent issue, MOJO 295. The Arctic Monkeys article featured Alex Turner namedropping the late great Alan Hull, and my favourite composition of his – Blue Murder – from his classic debut album Pipedream. I followed Alan’s career with Lindisfarne and his marvellous output as a solo artiste and had the pleasure of meeting him over a pint or two in The Tap & Spile in Lincoln. I have the nicotine-stained T-shirt signed by Alan and the band to prove it. Come on MOJO, now’s the time to feature a tribute to one of Britain’s finest homegrown singer-songwriters.
Kev Steer, Lincoln
How can we find some bread? Re: Robert Plant feature [MOJO 295]. Poor guy! Having people all over the world loving him for the music he made in naff old Led Zeppelin! What a millstone! Perhaps if he were to send me all his royalties accruing from said band, he (and I) would feel a whole better.
Ged Burke, address supplied
You shouldn’t take things so seriously Re: Viv Albertine in All Back To My Place, May ’18 issue. What a colossal wasted read. She obviously possesses zero interest in music. The space would’ve
been better served by someone who actually cares. Surely MOJO has access to those people?
Dick Rossetti, sent “from the car phone”
Come on, man, don’t be a drag Shame on Ian Roberts for criticising Mark E Smith with his condescending letter [MOJO 295]. Talk about kicking a man whilst he was down. Particularly galling was his assertion that Smith could in no way compare to Bob Dylan. Let’s keep our feet on the ground and get some perspective about His Royal Bobness here. The man has a voice like a crusty old fart, and has written such abominations as Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Rainy Day Women, and that Christmas album people only put on to laugh at. He’s also destined to be on the cover of MOJO at least once a year from now until the end of recorded time, so in Mark’s words: STOP MITHERING.
Joe Mitchell, Ramsbottom
How can you pass up a new experience? So I am looking through your issue with Mark Smith [MOJO 293], who I have never even heard of and I know music. Real good true music, not so much punk and avant-garde crap. But blues, blues rock, rock and roll. Ever hear of McKenna Mendelson Mainline? Three Man Army? Bull Angus? ➢ MOJO 11
Freedom? OK, those are old names but there are plenty of new guitar bands out there, too. That Ian Harrison feels Mark’s album legacy rivals Dylan or Miles Davis should warrant his admission to the nearest psychiatric hospital. This person was evidentially a cult figure for people who haven’t a clue about really good music. Btw, Captain Beeffart [sic] – I’ll give you he was another clown of a musician. Wow wow wow Mark E Smith. A legend in his and your own minds, really? Sad sad sad if you feel this person’s music was something special. Again I’ve never even heard of him and there is no doubt in my mind through tuition alone this turkey’s music sucked. I suppose Trump derangement syndrome has reached the UK. The Fall. Who the fuck where [sic] The Fall? Chris Rea is great. Mark Smith is dead!
George E, via e-mail
for whom The Nice were the backing band? I don’t suppose MOJO has a vacancy for a well-paid nitpicker, er, I mean, fact-checker, do you?
Steve Rigby, Manchester
Are you, like, honest? Could you please tell your reviewers to write more about the music – and not only about the lyrics? I love Forever Changes by Love mostly because of the music, and in my opinion it’s a timeless classic, that deserves many listeners. But your review of the reissue [in MOJO 294] almost only has focus on the lyrics. In my opinion it is a common weakness among British reviewers. You know how to do it, I can see. In a very short review of the Damned’s new record, Lois Wilson writes about the making of the music – that is information I can use. So would you please tell Lois to write a new review about Wreckless Eric’s new record?
Christian Barfoed, Skodsborg, Denmark
This one will run and run…
I just got the new MOJO delivered and, on reaching Real Gone, learned that Mike Harrison died last month. Don’t know how I missed this but I guess it won’t have made BBC Breakfast headlines. Like many my age in the late ’60s and still at school, quite a few of the only albums I could afford were The World Of… series (Mayall, Them, The Zombies and so forth) and compilations like You Can All Join In, Nice Enough To Eat, Fill Your Head With Rock and Bumpers. It was on the first album mentioned that I discovered Spooky Tooth with the track Sunshine Help Me, which remains a favourite single. I bought all their albums up to and including The Last Puff and several of their earlier singles such as That Was Only Yesterday. To this day, Spooky Two remains in my personal Top 10 Albums Of All Time list and, of course, came in three different colour-tinted sleeves (all of which I have). It is acknowledged by music writers as their best, and is a delight. Thanks, Mike, for all the pleasure you gave with your voice and with this band. RIP.
Regarding the film quotes on MOJO 295’s Theories, Rants page. They’re from the (English subtitles) on Fellini’s 8½, which was namechecked by cineaste Alex Turner in the Arctic Monkeys piece. You know we’re just Googling these don’t you?
Terry Maunder, Leeds
I'll never do it again, I swear I know that Pedantry is the son of Arrogance and the father to Boredom but, nevertheless, I wonder if Route 66 is best described as Chuck Berry’s “rock’n’roll cornerstone” [MOJO Playlist, issue 295]? Whilst Chuck did cut a version of the song in 1961, it was originally written by Bobby Troup in 1946 and was recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole. In the same issue, Jon Savage’s excellent piece on the birth of heavy rock refers to the ‘young girl’ who pipes up at the end of The Nice’s America. Wasn’t this the voice of the daughter of P.P. Arnold,
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This is really groovy! Don’t you think so? Hello MOJO! Your magazine is more enjoyable with every issue. Would you please do an article about the band “Saxon”? They seem underrated, just as good as Motörhead or Judas Priest, I think. Also, Harry Styles stuff for my granddaughter, Zoe! Keep rockin’!
Ms Glenda Constante, Grosse Point, MI
Hardly anybody mix the two Thanks for updating us on the enchanting twists and turns happening in Yes world or, more accurately the Yeses’ camps in MOJO 294. Their many personnel changes and divisions are legendary. Bravo to Mike Barnes for keeping track of the moving parts! Even though it’s true that they are the artists and can work any way they want, it makes one wonder, Is the music benefitting? What if John and Paul joined George and Ringo for the Bangladesh Concerts? How bewildering and wonderful would that have been? George invited both to join him and both said no. Time is passing us all by and we can relish the memory of Bangladesh, just as Pink Floyd fans can happily recall Roger and David burying the hatchet and playing for a good cause. Yes is the answer and you know that, so tour!
Vin Maganzini, WMFO, Tufts University, MASS (Ahem) Your move, Yeses!
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BARNSTORMING! Neil Young resurrects a classic version of Crazy Horse for the ﬁrst time in 45 years
Cornell Van Der Windt (2), Adrian Matthews
he Horse is ready to leave the barn!” When Neil Young has an idea, things tend to happen rather fast. So it was that, 10 days after he announced on his website that Crazy Horse had reconvened, the band were on-stage in Fresno, California, for the ﬁrst time in four years. This is not, though, quite the same Crazy Horse; the name, in fact, now seems to be ‘NYCH’. Guitarist Frank ‘Poncho’ Sampedro told MOJO in January that he had heard “rumblings” of a reunion, but ahead of the ﬁrst Fresno date on May 1, Young announced, “Poncho isn’t able to join us right now, but we all hope he’ll be back.” Instead, Young, drummer Ralph Molina and bass player Billy Talbot are joined by one of Sampedro’s predecessors in Crazy Horse (and a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Nils Lofgren. Lofgren’s return is well-timed: he was a critical part of the band, brieﬂy rechristened the Santa Monica Flyers, who backed Young in 1973 for the Tonight’s The Night sessions, and at the subsequent shows just released as Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live. True to unpredictable form, Young does not opt for a straight homage to Tonight’s The Night at the ﬁrst two Fresno dates. Instead, the next chapter of Crazy Horse history rolls out with setlists that draw from classic albums like After The Goldrush, Zuma, On The Beach and Ragged Glory. Alongside a 14-minute Cortez The Killer, Young digs out tantalising rarities: Freedom’s fragile, elegant Too Far Gone, accompanied by exquisite slide from Lofgren; The Losing End, from “YOUNG SAID Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and a couple of songs from 1996’s oft-forgotten Broken Arrow in Big THEY’RE Time and Scattered. UNREHEARSED. It turns out that setlist “clues” were recently been THEY SOUND strewn across Young’s Archives pages, many of the ANYTHING songs appearing as ‘Song of the Day’ ahead of the BUT.” Horse’s return. Although Young repeatedly described the band as being totally unrehearsed, as a unit they sounded anything but, at times almost succinct and crisp. Cinnamon Girl and Like A Hurricane showcased a band who were well-drilled while retaining that gritty garage charm, well to the fore on Tonight’s The Night’s World On A String. Lofgren added unfu class to proceedings, eyes always locked on Yo The unreleased Archives treasure being rea for release reputedly includes ﬁve Crazy Horse records, among them the mythical 2000 studi Toast, and 2012 tour record Alchemy. Crazy Hor future is uncertain, with Sampedro absent, Talb – who suffered a stroke in 2014 – looking tired b the effort, and Lofgren maintaining a solo care In June, Young returns to his latterday band choice, Promise Of The Real, for the ﬁrst of three summer festival dates, and there will be a solo Bridge School fundraiser in the Hamptons, whe seats cost $10,000 each. As for Crazy Horse, eve three-quarters of the current line-up may be unaware of what awaits them next. But across three nights in Fresno, four men p their hearts and souls into a lifetime’s work. Mark Go
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THE HOT NEWS AND BIZARRE STORIES FROM PLANET MOJO
Ragged glory: (clockwise from main) Crazy Horse live at the Warners Theatre, Fresno, May 1, 2018 (from left) Billy Talbot, Nils Lofgren, Neil Young and Ralph Molina; theatre exterior; taking a bow.
MAY 31 Looking back at five decades in music, Kenney Jones autobiography Let The Good Times Roll is published by Blink Publishing. It promises “the people, the parties, the friendships, the fallouts, the laughter, the sadness, the sex, drugs, and a lot of rock’n’ roll.” Asked about the bands he’s drummed in, meanwhile, Kenney opines, “The Small Faces were the most creative, The Faces were the most fun, The Who were the most exciting.”
Abba authority Carl Magnus Palm examines their shock reformation. Plus! Benny on the tape archive.
n June 5, 2016, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad took the stage at a private party at Stockholm’s Berns Hotel and performed Abba’s poignant 1980 song The Way Old Friends Do. It was to celebrate 50 years since their former bandmates Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ﬁrst met, and was the ﬁrst time Abba’s lead singers had sung together at anything even resembling a public event since the band split in 1982. Most of us who were there were certain that we had heard Fältskog and Lyngstad’s voices together for the last time. Small wonder, then, that the world’s media exploded at the news last month that Abba had been back in the studio in June 2017 to record two new songs. “[It was] like no time had passed at all,” Ulvaeus told CNN of the session at Andersson’s Riksmixningsverket Studio in Stockholm, adding that Fältskog and Lyngstad “are in very good voice. Slightly, slightly lower perhaps, but they sound very much Abba.” The reason for the reunion is a forthcoming live concert project, where the group will appear h
Here we go again: (main) Abba in 1979, as they will appear in hologram form (from left) Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson; (below) Abba in 2016.
“IT SEEMS LIKE WE HAD A LOT OF FUN ALL THE TIME.” Benny Andersson
JUNE 8 Sleaford Mods’ scabrous, comic, awardbagging documentary Bunch Of Kunst (dir. Christine Franz) gets a DVD release through F&F Productions. A warts-and-all portrait covering their improbable rise over two years, it comes with a CD of their complete performance at Berlin’s SO36 venue from June 2017, featuring such band faves as Middle Men, McFlurry and Jobseeker.
JUNE 19 The Rolling Stones conclude the UK leg of their No Filter stadium tour with a show at Twickenham Stadium. On European dates last year they included unaired-for-decades songs including Play With Fire and Dancing With Mr D. Keith Richards’ promise of a new album this year adds to hopes that the setlist will bring more surprises.
Getty (2), Alamy, PA
nied by live musicians. The group felt it might be more valid if they could contribute at least one new song to the setlist. Work went so well they came up with a second. The two songs are described by band representative Görel Hanser as a 2018 version of the vintage Abba sound. The ballad I Still Have Faith In You, as performed by the avatars, will be previewed in an Abba tribute television special in December, co-produced by the BBC and NBC. Andersson revealed that it’s “in 6/8, so you can’t disco dance to it.” The second tune, Don’t Shut Me Down, is “more of an uptempo song”, according to Hanser, and will probably be unveiled when the avatar concert premieres in April 2019. Judging by more recent Andersson/Ulvaeus songs, such as the dramatic mid-tempo Bara, Bara Du (Only, Only You) from a 2016 album by the Benny Andersson Band, the songs will pick up where Abba left off: digniﬁed yet catchy, like The Winner Takes It All and One Of Us, rather than the early carefree hits, Waterloo and Mamma Mia. Certainly, it isn’t hard to imagine the female half of Abba singing those tunes. Last year, a revised edition of my book, ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions, was bli hed, and I have since then gained access cache of tapes with more unreleased ngs and alternate versions. These have ainly been culled from the on-the-side udio tapes that original Abba engineer ichael B. Tretow kept running throughut recording sessions. Around the same time as Abba recorded r new songs, I was sat in Andersson’s istening to Monsieur, Monsieur, an early take of the Arrival album’s My Love, My Life with Fältskog on vocals, as well as early song demos. More detail on these tapes will be published in a companion volume to be published in 2019. As Andersson told me in 2016, “There’s a lot of junk on [the tapes], but it’s pretty fun to have them, because you can hear us talking and laughing. The interesting thing, when you listen, is that it seems like we had a lot of fun all the time, the girls as well; like it was all pleasurable.”
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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Sparkle Hard
Ryley Walker Deafman Glance
out now on CD & vinyl Album #7 from the band. Includes the twangy single Middle America and the old-school four-chord stomper Shiggy.
Charles Watson Now That I’m A River
Half Man Half Biscuit No-one Cares About...
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out now on CD & vinyl
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The follow-up to 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, and the second Ryley Walker album produced by LeRoy Bach and Walker himself.
As good as any of Slow Club’s many highs. Watson has created something modern, fresh, exciting and potentially classic.
Brand new studio album from HMHB and the band’s ﬁrst new release since And Some Fell On Stony Ground in 2016.
Agnes Obel Late Night Tales
Lindi Ortega Liberty
The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices - Boocheemish
Brian Jonestown Massacre Something Else
out 25 May on CD & vinyl
out 25 May on CD & vinyl
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A beautifully programmed and bewitching selection of music including three exclusive recordings from Agnes herself.
On this album, the Canadian singer spins a wild, Spaghetti Westernstyle yarn about heartbreak, revenge and redemption.
This release sees the esteemed Bulgarian choir performing together with labelmate Lisa Gerrard on several tracks.
The 17th full length release from the band is less experimental and more of a retracing back to their traditional sound.
Julian Cope Skellington 3
Warmduscher Whale City
Snail Mail Lush
out 1 June on CD
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Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy With The Gift Band Anchor
In February 2018, Julian Cope resuscitated his long dormant Skellington project with the recording of these 12 brand new songs.
Warmduscher take us on a wild ride into Whale City with members of Fat White Family, Childhood and Paranoid London.
out 1 June on CD & vinyl
Lindsey Jordan’s stunning debut record for her solo indie pop project Snail Mail. Includes the single Pristine.
The remarkable Anchor features a beguiling collection of both traditional and contemporary songs.
home of entertainment
out 8 June on CD & vinyl
CHRIS FORSYTH & THE SOLAR MOTEL BAND DON’T BE DENIED
CULTURE & RANKING JOE & THE MIGHTY TWO BALDHEAD BRIDGE/BABYLON BRIDGE
Premium jam of the month, as New York’s heirs to Television reframe Neil Young’s autobiographical burner from Time Fades Away. Among the quicksilver guitarplay, note the lyric tweaks, as “We played all night” becomes “We played all high”. Find it: Bandcamp
Rasta reggae prophesies the end of the oppressors’ shitstem with a cheeky take on London Bridge Is Falling Down. Then we get an inspired dub version full of joyous proportion-inverting delirium. Find it: YouTube
The new single from the NY band’s fourth LP sounds like The Pretenders’ Message Of Love played too fast but with impeccable beat logic, and on a Wurlitzer. Find it: Streaming services
AMBER ARCADES GOODNIGHT EUROPE/SIMPLE SONG Dutch artist Annelotte De Graaf trails her new album European Heartbreakk (due September 28) with a three-part short film of the same name. A romance as political allegory, the first instalment features the track Goodnight Europe (“No one really got you I suppose”), whose message of isolation is bleakly direct. Part two brings release, and a road trip that takes in Alpine vistas, coastal sunsets and the gorgeous upbeat horns of Simple Song. Part three, unreleased at press time, brings the promise of resolution (“I have a plan”…) Find it: YouTube JIM JAMES JUST A FOOL
Those pining for James to give it the big, My Morning Jacketesque cosmic rock-out with an aerated guitar riff, howling, country-souled chorus and super-reverby production; the wait is over! So good it could have been recorded in a grain silo. Find it: SoundCloud
WIRE FRENCH FILM BLURRED (VE
This demo of the Chairs Missing track – just 7 shows the speedy, slack-jawed-but-brainy punk Thorne got his hands on them. From the album’s special edition. Find it: YouTube
ONE ELEVEN HEAVY DAWSON LANE
FAZ WALTZ JULIE
A frayed new riff on Cosmic American Music, by James ‘Wooden Wand’ Toth and other psych/roots notables. Reductive first take: Workingman’s Dead deconstructed by Royal Trux… Find it: tinyurl.com/yczc5f5w
From Lombardy, boogie powerpop with a touch of Slade for growing big bushy sideburns to. From the LP Double Decker. Find it: YouTube
“THUNDERCAT SPLICES ZAPPA AND
HENRY PRIESTMAN AND LES GLOVER NOT IN MY NAME
A dossier of political crookery sets out the duo’s new folk-pop protest, wry love songs and social commentary set, Six Of One & Half A Dozen Of The Other. Find it: YouTube
CORTE REAL & CHARLIE O. LA CHANSON TRISTE
From La Souterraine C’est Extra, a tribute to chanson giant Léo Ferré, a song of bittersweet valediction via voice, piano and strings. Find it: SoundCloud
COWBOY JUNKIES ALL THAT RECKONING (PART 1)
Ontario alt-country cults return with a viscous brooder on how the personal and political connect. Find it: YouTube
GIRLS NAMES HAUS PROUD
Belfast band channel the spirit of Cold War-era disco via icy beats, echoey Joy Division-invoking production and frontman Cathal Cully’s deadpan vocals. ervices
ERGROUND CROWNHOLDERS m 1999, the Barrow beatmaker bolts breaks and ple for a track that demands b-boy stances. d
EL RAULT DREAM SONG
SLEEP SONIC TITAN
THUNDERCAT FINAL FIGHT
A band for whom immutable heavy perman greatest asset finally record an old live favourite album in 20 years. High intensity doom metal, in tition and stoner vibes guaranteed. Find it: Streaming services “Let’s go down the rabbit hole,” suggests th so Los Angeles polymath. Cue unbound, soundjazz micro-randomising, seemingly recorded un splicing of Zappa and George Duke continues un this new song, his first new material since 2017’s Find it: SoundCloud MOJO listens to music on Roksa equipment
Title-track to an EP by producer David Wrench and fine arts student Evangeline Ling: a style mag dream-team of glitchy beats and synth-pop vocal froideur, all mist and Berlin-architect cool. Find it: SoundCloud
JAMES BROWN TALKIN’ LOUD AND SAYIN’ NOTHING
The 1972 version, where drummer John ‘Jabo’ Starks’ deft, metronomic beats are the central ingredient that allows everything else to move and challenge over nine glorious minutes. See next issue for a fuller appreciation of this master sticksman, who died in May. Find it: YouTube
Europa league: (above) Amber Arcades plots a way back; (below) Thundercat, in the mood to punish.
ioed Canadian whose Lauren Canyon-evocative ess hymns the joys of a nice nap on this track. Stylophone (yes, we know) to induce woozy, unlight drowsiness. treaming services
BLACK POPE ATOM BOMB Cork Cramps fans talk nuclear threat over a neol soundtrack of surf guitar rumble. Check their nd Ivy’s I Was A Teenage Werewolf too. opemusic.com
CHICO ARNEZ WOULD I
From 1972, funky lounge sounds with rocking guitar, wiggy brass, and the title repeated breathlessly in the style of perennially-frustrated Carry On film actor Kenneth Connor. nchester DJ P.P. Roy for the tip. ube
Getty, Nick Helderman
BRAZILIAN GIRLS LET’S MAKE LOVE
JOAN ARMATRADING The veteran singer/songwriter by her own hand and in her own words. I’d describe myself as… I think as self-aware, not in a big-headed way, just that I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I like challenges, I like discovering new things, I like being with people but I’m not afraid to be on my own. Music changed me because… I wouldn’t say music changed me. I would say music made me. Actually, perhaps I should say I was made for music. Writing songs is the thing I love doing the most. Music’s wonderful and nobody invented it – nobody taught birds to sing or humans to hum. This is why music is so important, like breathing, it’s just simply a part of us. Music’s opened many avenues for me, I’ve met some wonderful people, been to some fantastic places, and all because music is my career. How cool is that? When I’m not making music… or performing or writing, then I just do normal things, watch television, I go for walks, I visit friends, just everyday stuff. My biggest vice is… is reading gossip magazines a vice? Because I love reading them. The last time I was embarrassed was… you know when you’re walking along the street and you trip on something and you look back to see what it was and then you notice that people have seen you do that? That happened to me the other day, and that can be embarrassing. My formal qualiﬁcations are… a BA honours degree in history. I took an Open University course whilst I was on tour and took my ﬁnal exam on the last day, driving straight from the airport to the examination room. I was 51 when I went to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for my graduation ceremony. The last time I cried was… these days I seem to cry at the drop of a hat, at anything soppy on the television,
Her, herself and her: Joan Armatrading, vinyl sceptic and Agatha Christie buff.
“NEVER HAVING DIED, I HAVE NO PROOF OF WHAT HAPPENS.”
when I think of the inhumanity of man, and because something is just beautiful. Vinyl, CD or streaming?… I’m actually not too fussed, as long I can hear the piece of music I want, as long as it’s not scratchy. I asked a mastering engineer if there was anything in it, when people make the favourable comparison between analogue and digital, and he said it’s just nostalgia that makes them choose vinyl. My most treasured possession is… my guitar and my piano. I’m having two. As long as I had these two I could sustain myself both creatively and ﬁnancially. The best book I’ve read is… a tough question, because it’s a bit like asking which is best, oranges or apples. They’re completely different things. Even with my own writing, I couldn’t
tell you the best one I’ve ever written. So how do I say Of Mice And Men is better than Hard Times? Even comparing works by the same author is very difﬁcult. I’ve read many Agatha Christie books – is Murder On The Orient Express better than The Mysterious Affair At Styles? Is the glass half-full or half-empty? I’m an optimist so, half full on the way to being full. My greatest regret is… I don’t really have regrets. When we die… I have no idea. Never having died, I have no proof of what happens. Having said that, I do believe there is a God. I would like to be remembered… it would be nice just to be remembered. Not Too Far Away is out now on BMG. Joan tours the UK from September
…BOB DYLAN has launched his own brand of whiskey. Available in three different permutations Heaven’s Door has been created entrepreneur Marc Bu who told the New York that discussions somet involved “a long look… you’re not sure if that’s or approval.” Said Dylan statement: “I’ve been a try some of the best sp world of whiskey has to
This is great whiskey”… speaking of doors, the one to Bob’s old room at the Chelsea Hotel raised 70,000 at auction rs formerly used eonard i Hendrix… (left) will he Brontë t this summer, ords of tribute to Heights author ontë will be d on one of four
stones on the West Yorkshire moors. Kate called the public art “an honour and, in a way, a chance to say ‘thank you’ to her” …MASSIVE ATTACK (below) marked two decades since their Mezzanine album with plans to have it encoded into DNA then c b T t s m
widespread surprise in April when it was announced that Lindsey Buckingham was being replaced in FLEETWOOD MAC by Crowded House’s Neil Finn and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell because he mit
Alamy (2), Joel Anderson
LUCY DACUS Hotly-pursued Virginia singer-songwriterrocker opens her heart to “posi-nihilism”.
think people are thirsty for honesty, something earnest and genuine,” reckons Lucy Dacus. “If there’s a trend right now, it’s content-driven.” Nadia Reid, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, The Weather Station: it’s a particularly female-fronted trend too, a style of singer-songwriter-emo that burns and soothes at the same time. But it was Dacus alone who was chased by 20 labels, majors included, after her 2016 debut No Burden landed. In the event, Matador (long-time supporters of Dacus’s beloved Yo La Tengo) has released her new album Historian, a smouldering, sometimes-’90s alt-rock take on the open-heart approach, iced by Dacus’s gorgeous, languid alto. As her tour van heads into Manhattan to pick up albums from Matador to sell at tonight’s show in Philadelphia, Dacus talks about Historian’s title, inspired by her love of keeping a journal. “I think it’s more the act than the journal itself,” she sighs. “But words in my head take up space, and they come out as ink. If I didn’t think about home, it would disappear… it’s how I stay in touch with where I’m from and what I care about.” She hails from Mechanicsville, a cornﬁeld-ringed suburban idyll outside Richmond, Virginia. “Suburbia’s the perfect place for angst to appear,” she avers. Other key inﬂuences were a religious upbringing (today, she viliﬁes
Shelf portrait: Lucy Dacus browses for more words to take up space in her head.
“IT’S SO CATHARTIC WHEN PEOPLE SCREAM ALONG.”
● For fans of: Nadia Reid, Yo La Tengo, The Breeders ● Tracey Thorn recently tweeted a favourite lyric from Night Shift. “It’s disorientating,” says Dacus. “But really nice.” ● Dacus and pal Julien Baker – both trending singersongwriters, raised Christian, signed to Matador – have a secret handshake: “We call it the double eagle,” she says.
“religion as politics” and “hate in God’s name”) allied with the freedom to absorb her parents’ Bowie, Springsteen and Prince records. Yet Dacus went her own KEY TRACKS way. “I rediscovered an old ● Pillar Of Truth ● Night Shift songbook,” she says, “and my ﬁrst ● Yours & Mine songs had the same goals as now – trying to cultivate understanding, honesty and hope, but also acknowledge the darker side of life.” Despite her musical talents, Dacus chose a ﬁlm studies degree. But to make ﬁlms, she admits, “I had to trust others to do it exactly how I wanted. A song feels more personal and direct, and I can write it on my own.” Still, she needed assistance – and encouragement – to start recording: her friend, guitar student Jacob Blizard, asked if Dacus had enough songs he could play on, to fulﬁl a college project, which became No Burden. Blizard, whose creamy tones gives Dacus much of her alt-rock glow, remains her go-to guitarist, a member of what she calls “The Lucy Dacus Show”, currently selling out every night. “The best part is when I get to scream at the end of [Historian opener] Night Shift, it’s so cathartic when people scream along! But the message is where I put most of myself. I call it ‘posi-nihilism’. Nothing matters, everything you care about will decay, but on that foundation, you can still build meaning, and ﬁnd fun and beauty. I think it’s a healthy way to look at the world.” Martin Aston Lucy Dacus plays the Green Man Festival in August
CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON The esteemed actor and timelord selects mystic space reggae, homeopathic found poetry and hypno-funk visions.
IN 5MANMISTY ROOTS KIND
RUPIE EDWARDS IRE FEELINGS (SK ANGA)
(Cactus 45, 1974)
(From Rum Sodomy & The Lash, Stiff, 1985)
“I remember exactly where I was when I heard this. I’d just ﬁnished a game of football on a Sunday and we’d gone to this paper shop on Coniston Avenue in Little Hulton to buy a Jubbly ice drink. All my mates were buzzing about and this came on. I was just astounded. I was familiar with reggae music but I didn’t know what this was. It’s like Jamaican space music for The Clangers, deﬁnitely funky, and mystical, like an incantation sung in a made-up language. I also thought he was taking the piss a bit. It made me understand what reggae musicians were reaching for, while being rhythmic, melodic and danceable. I was brought up on a very white council estate and was very aware of racism, but what impacted on me was black music. Rupie trusted this little white boy in Little Hulton to get it, and I did.”
THE POGUES AND THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA
“This account of a soldier’s experience [in 1915 in the Dardanelles, written by Eric Bogle] is one of the great anti-war songs. It’s not preachy or soapboxy. I felt I knew this individual – the actor in me saw how much Shane [MacGowan] had got inside that man, and the accompaniment’s as simple and direct as his delivery. You have to participate. You go everywhere with it, you see Johnny Turk, the corpses… I felt like it could have been me, and I know it off by heart. It’s the most Scorsese version of the song, bringing out the real psychological damage. It’s the only record that’s made me cry.”
BETTY DAVIS WALKIN’ UP THE ROAD (From Betty Davis, Just Sunshine, 1973)
“She had an amazing musical vision. I was listening to a lot of Prince when I heard this. I just went, “Christ almighty!” The bass intro is as good as anything you’d hear on Parliament-Funkadelic: the music’s strangely skeletal and simple, and quite elemental. It’s quite hypnotic and she’s talking to you about very intimate things. It’s like theatre what she was doing, forefronting race and sexuality at a time when everything was against her, and being very, very funky with it. I kind of see her in a bar, with wooden ﬂoors and a brightly lit stage, but you can’t see any light around her, just her and a mike, hi b iful, eous g herself. f she got it, and I’d d to have ive.”
BIG HARD 4FISH EXCELLENT
(From Live At The Counter Eurovision 79, People Unite, 1979)
“I have to credit John Peel with making me aware of this. It’s just the message of it – ‘Without knowledge of your history you have no control over your future’ – the gift that we have to be human, the sacredness of it, and what we can do with it. What anchors me to it, apart from the lyrical content, are the drums. They’re religious, African, biblical, elemental. It’s a live version as well, so it’s funky and it swings – politics you can dance to. The voices are amazing too. It sounds like, and I’m going to sound very pretentious here, what a heart yearns for, and the landscape of it would be the blood and the chambers of the heart. Bands like Misty and Steel Pulse broadened my idea of Britishness and opened my eyes to other people’s struggles. There was a message there that united us.”
(One Little Indian 12-inch, 1990) “I ﬁrst heard this as the intro music at a Morrissey concert before he went into How Soon Is Now? It’s rap, yeah, or a performance piece, or an installation. It makes me think of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman as well. It expresses something very profound about being British, to me, in an accent I can recognise and relate to. It has this drawly, deadpan spoken word thing that sounds almost like (adopts Scouse accent) fucken Lily Savage… there’s an incredible subtlety in how (Josie Jones) delivers those words. It’s like pub talk, someone listing all the life-denying things [including “macho dickhead”, “red sock in the white washing”, “fucking bastard Thatcher”], but by stating the opposite, it’s a hymn to life and existence and purity, which ﬂies in the face of that ‘90s thing about making a virtue of your ignorance. You’re just very glad somebody said it.”
Pass the pipe (organ): Christopher pulls out the stops.
SUEDE The resurgent masters of dramatic, crepuscular art rock face their demons on epic album eight.
e wanted the album to sound really wintry,” says Suede’s Brett Anderson, sat with his bandmates in the mixing suite of Willesden’s Assault & Battery Studios, in April. “There was a picture we kept referring to – a cat walking down this snowy avenue of trees. Every song had to look as though it could ﬁt into that world.” The creation of The Blue Hour – Suede’s eighth album in total, and their third since returning in 2010 – began in May 2016, when Anderson, guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboardist Neil Codling wrote Mistress, a Roxy-eque ambient vignette depicting a child realising his father is having an affair. With the way forward revealed, they spent 18 months composing the rest before recording it in six weeks from September to October 2017, working in Assault & Battery’s live room. A six-song preview reveals a group in strapping creative health. Album opener As One is the epic, anthropomorphic entry to the underworld; Beyond The Outskirts is elegiac, big-rifﬁng classic Suede; Life Is Golden a joyous pop moment, and Flytipping, with its epic Bowiesque denouement, recalls Dog Man Star-era gem The Living Dead.
Songs sung blue: (main, from left) Suede’s Richard Oakes, Neil Codling and Brett Anderson with producer Alan Moulder; (above) the new album’s visual cue.
“A LOT OF IT’S ABOUT THE TERRORS OF CHILDHOOD.” Brett Anderson
Title: The Blue Hour Date: September Production: Alan Moulder Songs: Life Is Golden/Cold Hands/Mistress/Beyond The Outskirts/Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You/ Flytipping The Buzz: “The depth of this record is something we’d never have approached in the ’90s. We just didn’t have the patience for it.” Brett Anderson
Anderson admits his recent memoir Coal Black Mornings nformed The Blue Hour. “The book tirred up memories of my hildhood,” he says. “A lot of it is bout the terrors of childhood, and the child’s perspective is me. Also, geographically it’s set in a very speciﬁc place – a scruffy, unpleasant rural setting, of B-roads, ﬂy-tipping, roadkill and concrete paths, discarded white goods by the side of the road… it’s not an album about [Suede hometown] Haywards Heath though.” The Blue Hour itself, meanwhile, references the time at dawn and dusk when blue predominates in the spectrum. “It’s twilight,” says Anderson. “I had this idea that the child is lost and people are looking for it, as the night is closing in.” This time, Suede’s long-term producer Ed Buller (now a ﬁlm composer based in California) has been replaced by Alan Moulder, of whom bassist Mat Osman says, “he’s been on our radar forever.” “I wish I could give you some dirt – arguments and ﬁghting,” Moulder tells MOJO. “But it was really good fun.” “These days, you just have to let the band live and breathe,” reasons Oakes. “The moment you try and tell people what to play it falls apart and it loses its identity.” And what do they think of the fact that next year marks 30 years of Suede? “It’s great, but you just don’t think about it,” says Osman. “I couldn’t do any of it if we weren’t still making great records we’re proud of.” Ian Harrison
…re-formed grunge hel L7 have so far released t new tunes and now ann “We’ve had such a blast recording again that we decided to keep the ball rolling.” There’ll be a new record this year, their ﬁrs since Slap-Happy in ’99 … Bradford Cox and company are heading ba into the studio for a new DEERHUNTER albu in October. It’s preceded
y cassette sold on dates g this month…when n Bey, alias MOS DEF ft), said in February that e and Talib Kweli were making a new Black Star record with producer Madlib, 20 years after their uch-admired sole LP. weli admitted they’d ong discussed it but he ad no warning of the nnouncement. The two
will, however, headline the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival on July 14, so ﬁngers crossed… ALDOUS HARDING has been in the studio with regular producer Jo Parish. New tour m is expected on the which will be out n year… NEW ORDER ’s Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman have joined with Devo’s Josh
Hager for new band Shadowparty. Vocalist Denise Johnson, Verve guitarist Nick McCabe and arranger Joe Duddell, who scored New th orchestra, their ﬁrst album, y… coming in ber, THE MON TWIGS ’ ft) second LP, Go School. “It’s a rock usical about a onkey,” revealed n insider…
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NORMA WATERSON The English folk matriarch on mystery, contentment and the Bee Gees.
even years ago, Norma Waterson, one of the great enduring forces of the folk revival from her years with the Watersons onwards, almost died. She’d just released the acclaimed album Gift with daughter Eliza Carthy: following a gig in Warrington, Norma went to the local A&E to check out a painful ankle. That’s about all she can remember. She fell into a coma and spent several months in different hospitals suffering from septicaemia and infections. “Everyone thought I was a goner, but they don’t get rid of me that easily,” she laughs. After a painful haul back, she’s now picked up where she left off with Anchor, a new album with her daughter Eliza. She’s even keen to perform live again and is already planning material for her next release. And while many may view her as the ultimate traditional singer, Anchor
– recorded in a beautiful old church facing the sea in her home town of Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire – is a veritable cornucopia of styles, inﬂuences and sources, including songs by Tom Waits, Kurt Weill, Nick Lowe and Eric Idle. People may be surprised by the range of some of the album’s content. Yes. My grandmother brought us up really. She was half-Irish and we were never told we couldn’t listen to a certain music. Some people of our generation were told they shouldn’t listen to The Beatles and stuff like that because it was rubbish, but our gran said good music is good music wherever it comes from. She was a great music hall fan. My dad played guitar and banjo, so we had a very eclectic and catholic love of music, and had inﬂuences from everywhere really. Did you see it as a mission to popularise traditional music in the early days?
Come Hull or high water: the incomparable Norma, not an Elvis fan.
NORMA’S WISDOM Five Waterson winners 1 .Frank Sinatra I Fall In Love Too Easily (COLUMBIA 78, 1945)
Gimme A Pigfoot (PARLOPHONE 78, 1934)
3. Michael Marra Monkey Hair (FROM GAELS M BLUE, MINK, 1985)
The Brown & Yellow Ale 5. Traditional
Death & The Lady
No, it was just something we loved and we wanted to ﬁnd out more about it. All the stuff in the ‘50s done by the skifﬂe groups was American, and we’d say “Where’s our stuff? Where’s our tradition?” And we’d go up to the Dales to the little villages and meet up with Annie Briggs and talk to people… and I remember getting drunk a lot. Annie would sing a bawdy song like Underneath My Apron and the women would be disgusted. After The Watersons originally split in 1968, you went off to live in Montserrat – what was that like? There were these little bands there and on Friday night they had what they called ‘wash your feet and come’ dances. I sang with some of the groups but they didn’t know anything about traditional music, so it was mostly things like Leaving On A Jet Plane. I became a DJ on Radio Antilles, which was pop music and news. A bit like Radio 1. I read the news and did English programmes. They had Spanish and German programmes too. It was very strange. I was there four years but I missed the family and took the opportunity to come back.
What do you think of the folk scene these days? To be honest, I don’t have a lot to do with it. It has become a lot more poppish. It’s not my thing. It’s become a more concert-y thing. The modern practice is to go to a festival and listen. When Eliza started Normafest [an annual January festival in Robin Hood’s Bay held in Norma’s honour] she didn’t want lots of concerts, so there were a lot of [communal] singarounds. She wanted to get people more involved and that has worked to a certain degree. Are your grandchildren into folk music? They’ve both got ﬁddles but we don’t try and push them. We never did with Eliza. She’d say she wanted to go to Manchester to see Prince, and we said, “OK, off you go.” She went through that phase, but one day she borrowed one of [her dad] Martin’s songbooks and suddenly came running downstairs and said, “Mum, Mum, have you read the stories in this book!?” Martin and I looked at one another and said, “We’ve got her!” Is music as important to you now as it ever was? In some cases more so. When I look at the scene now and the songs, I think if we and other people like [Tyneside singer] Louis Killen hadn’t been around, those songs that the young people sing now may not be there. We stood on the shoulders of giants and sent the music out there and I’m sort of proud of our little place in the music. What songs attract you? Mysterious songs. Interesting songs. I was in Ireland once, and this old man dressed in a black suit opened his mouth and sang a song called The Brown And Yellow Ale. It’s about a man walking down the street with his wife and he meets another man who says, “Lend me your wife for a year and a day”, and this man says yes. But in a year and a day the wife won’t go back with him, won’t even look at him, and says she wants to make him a cofﬁn made of holly. A very strange song. This old man, who must have been at least 80, sang it and I burst into tears. I had to leave. I do cry a lot over songs.
How do you look back on your life? I am nearly 80 and I don’t mind that I’m getting to the end of my life. I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve been to fantastic places and I have a wonderful family. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Tell us something you’ve never told an interviewer before. I love the Bee Gees but I don’t like Elvis Presley. Martin loved the early Elvis songs but I never did like him. I never liked the Stones either. I thought they were just stealing from black singers. Colin Irwin
LAST NIGHTA RECORD CHANGED MY LIFE
JAMES WILLIAMSON The Stooges’ guitar on Bob Dylan’s ’64 LP The Times They Are A-Changin’.
was 14, 15, in Pontiac, Michigan. The Ventures and surf music had been kinda huge for me – you might say that without [Chantays’ hit] Pipeline there’d be no [1973 Stooges LP] Raw Power. And in the Detroit area, you couldn’t help but be surrounded by Motown. We had a basement at home and I’d go down there and play music. It was the time of life when I was at the nexus of all my hormones, emotions and the confusion about things typical of that age. In particular, I didn’t have a very good experience with my army colonel stepfather. He was a West Point guy. He liked Beethoven. My music was always too loud. He was, ‘What is this rock‘n’roll? Bad things are happening!’ The powers that be were not accepting of my approach to life. It was causing problems, my mother didn’t know what to do with me. So she decided to take advantage of the army medical situation, and had me go see an army shrink. He put me into the army hospital. That summer I’d gone to Mexico and I’d picked up a switchblade knife.
With God on his side: James Williamson (below) blames it all on Dylan’s epochal third (bottom).
“I’D GONE TO MEXICO, PICKED UP A SWITCHBLADE.”
I showed it to one of the GIs, and the next thing you know, I’m being transferred to a real psych ward. It was like a miniature version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. You’d see the shrinks, and during ‘recreation’ people would draw and listen to things or whatever. So I had my mom bring in these Bob Dylan albums. So here am I, and I laid that needle down on The Times They Are A-Changin’ and you could just see the horror, and the unsettling effect that it had on the people in there, until eventually they wouldn’t let me play it anymore! That sort of made it crystal clear to me about the impact of this guy, and how much that voice and message would polarise people, and unify people in my age group. There was a kind of a message, that my generation was changing, and it was changing things. Three months later they put me in juvenile hall. I’d already learned to play guitar and I took that and used it as an emotional outlet. I was affected by tons of bands – the Stones, Them, The Yardbirds – but Dylan’s the one who kicked off the stance.” As told to Ian Harrison James Williamson And The Pink Hearts’ Behind The Shade is out on June 22, on Leopard Lady.
Hot! Hot! Hot!!!: (main) pale boys The Cure (from left) Simon Gallup, Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst (top), Boris Williams and Porl Thompson, Brazil, March 30, 1987; (right, from top) recent albums and singles; Smith readies for his closeup; live in February ’87; old pals Thompson and Tolhurst; Fiction boss Chris Parry with Cure sales award.
THE CURE’S AMERI BREAKTHROUGH With 1987’s sprawling pop, goth and funk double LP Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Robert Smith’s bipolar chartbusters from Crawley found US success and beckoning stadia across the world. Two years later, the hypnotising gloom of Disintegration turned up the chill to mark the group’s commercial zenith. But what sparked this retrenchment, and who were the casualties?
PART 1 “PEOPLE WENT NUTS ” Keysman Lol Tolhurst and Fiction label boss/de facto manager Chris Parry recall luxury, booze and meet’n’greets.
“WE HAD THE ‘CRAZY MOTHERFUCKER’ BUS, WHICH I WAS ON.” Lol Tolhurst
CP: [1982 single] Let’s Go To Bed had done the initial hard work for The Cure in America, but what broke them there was Inbetween Days in 1985. America had never been on Robert’s horizon, they’d never done a big tour there, and never any meet’n’greets or that side of stuff. They were still a cult band, with mystique, though they’d begun to impregnate even pop radio, but then we had a good US label in Elektra, run by Bob Krasnow, a real Anglophile, who loved the idea of The Cure breaking the US, as I did. Lots of British bands had been going over, like New Order and The Psychedelic Furs. They were different to US bands – very exciting, and the kind of bands that American kids didn’t want to share with their parents. It was right place, right time. Standing On A Beach [The Cure singles compilation] had come out after The Head On The Door, and [1978 debut single] Killing An Arab was upsetting some Americans even then. But that issue aside, it was a really happy period for The Cure. They demoed Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me in Miraval in the south of France, and Rob was writing songs like Why Can’t I Be You? and Hot Hot Hot – it was a bit of a love-fest, slightly cocaine-driven, with lots of estate rosé wine… it was good they had good livers – with lots of joie de vivre and ‘let’s do this and that, and make a double album’. Whereas Disintegration, which followed, was more ‘let’s get into ketamine’. I mean, it wasn’t that particular drug, but it felt more down. It took few prisoners.” DAVID M. ALLEN RECALLS THE NOTORIOUS IN-STUDIO ‘LOL HATE GALLERY’. TURN OVER! PRODUCER
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LT: I’ve always thought there were two Cures – the original trio and what fans call the ‘Imperial Cure’ with Boris [Williams, drums] and Pearl [Porl] Thompson (guitar), which made The Head On The Door (1985). The ﬁve-piece Cure could be more musical, with the luxury to spread out. It wasn’t like we were out at goth clubs every night, our tastes were far more universal than that. We’d showed that on The Head On The Door, and when we started what became Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Robert said to bring everything we’d all been working on – we all had little home studios by then. It was a way to open things out further, and it turned into a double album. We’d got together at Boris’s house in Devon, we installed a pool table in one room, the gear in another, and a cask of scrumpy between them, and drank loads. Simon [Gallup] called Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me our K-Tel album – it came out of being happier and less concerned with the outside world. I felt I was the custodian of the spirit of The Cure. Whoever came in, I’d engage the side of them I thought would further things for us. I’d known Pearl since we were 17, which helped, and Boris had a similar outlook, and a good sense of humour. We were like a gang, that’s why it worked. On tour, we’d roll into town each night, unapologetic, hope you like it. But by the time we toured the US for Kiss Me…, being all on one bus got a little chaotic, so we had the ‘cup of tea, read a book, go to bed’ bus and the ‘crazy motherfucker’ bus, which I admit I was on almost all the time. But audiences had really caught on to us by then. For Kiss Me… live, it sounds Spinal Tap, but the production values were the best we’d had. Each show started with us playing [Kiss Me… intro] The Kiss behind a kabuki curtain, so the audience couldn’t see us, and they only slowly realised it was us playing, and just when Rob [Robert Smith] started singing, the curtain would fall, and people went nuts, every time. You needed a spectacle to impress bigger audiences, and because Pearl’s guitar allowed Robert to wander around more, he could engage with audiences, which helped with playing bigger venues. It was a convergence of different important factors, up another level.”
with. After he had left, when we made [1992 album] Wish, I encouraged a hate gallery of Lol, in the control room, as if he was there in person.”
THE CURE’S AMERICAN BREAKTHROUGH Tolhurst, Parry and Cure producer David M. Allen on comedowns, departures and devil’s advocacy. DMA: “I started working with The Cure on [1983 single] The Lovecats, and I was like an extra band member for a long time [producing ﬁve Cure albums between ‘83 and ‘91). They were a gang then, fun to hang around with. After shows, it would be ‘Club Smith’ or ‘Club Gallup’ with the boombox, and they’d play dance music, not Leonard Cohen. Likewise, on Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me – everyone was attracted to different styles. To do a disco song like Hot Hot Hot!!! was brave, but it all ﬁtted the Cure canon. 28 MOJO
But maybe Kiss Me… didn’t hang together. One reviewer called it shambolic, which deﬁnitely inﬂuenced my thoughts on Disintegration, to make a huge slab of the same thing. It’s an amazing album, a deﬁnite statement at the peak of goth. To me, all Robert’s love songs were about [long-time girlfriend] Mary and all the hate songs were about Lol, and when you take that balance away… To watch Lol, the friend you’ve known since childhood, become a shambling mess, drinking two bottles of Grand Marnier a day – you have Disintegration ight there. Everyone n the band was elieved when Lol went, though I wasn’t. You could view Lol as a muse, and a band’s chemistry is a very difﬁcult thing to
Closedown: (clockwise from main) Robert Smith in the US, September ’89; the post-Tolhurst line-up with Roger O’Donnell (centre), MTV Awards, 1989; Disintegration; David M. Allen; Disintegration 45s.
“ DISINTEGRATION … A HUGE SLAB OF THE SAME THING.” David M. Allen
CP: “Most Cure members came to me and complained about Lol. I was reluctant to see him go. Call me old-fashioned, but T. Rex had two players, didn’t they? And earlier on, Lol had been really helpful in keeping The Cure alive. But the band were adults and I never counselled Rob. The best thing was to involve him with as little stuff as possible – just get him into the box so he could play, whether it was a small room or an arena, or Giants Stadium in New York. I know Rob struggled with the madness of touring, and the disconnect with arena crowds, and sometimes he said, ‘This is it, the last tour’. But to me that was him carping on, playing devil’s advocate. You have to measure it by the man you know today, and The Cure are still playing.” As told to Martin Aston Robert Smith’s Meltdown runs at London’s Southbank Centre from June 15 to June 24. Lol Tolhurst’s memoir Cured is published by Quercus.
PART 2 “THE PEAK OF GOTH”
LT: “We’d gone from playing colleges to arenas, which changes a band. I saw Rob’s antipathy toward being this new rock star, so he had to change things again, and that’s Disintegration – darker and heavier and more focused. But the centre wouldn’t hold, namely my situation, which I think is why it’s called ‘Disintegration’. Certainly, I was disintegrating, I was so isolated in my own madness, I didn’t notice what was going on around me. When Robert sent me a letter to say I’d been ﬁred, I agree that he saved my life [Tolhurst immediately booked into the Priory rehab clinic].”
FACT SHEET ● For fans of The Slits, X-Ray Spex, Huggy Bear ● The debut Amyl And The Sniffers album, released via Damaged Goods, brings together their Giddy Up and Big Attraction EPs ● Of Dolly Parton, Taylor says: “Her music is great but her personality is the best EVER.”
AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS Melbourne sharpie revivalists atom-smash punk and boogie rock to blow the doorsoff the bottle shop.
here is a haircut in rock so uncool it dare not speak its name (often): the mullet, as variously sported by Bono, Michael Bolton and The Jam’s Bruce Foxton. Alarmingly, this may soon change thanks to the exponentially rising stock of Melbourne’s Amyl And The Sniffers, an unalloyed bunch of head-kicking punk racketeers whose post-gig rituals include hacking off fans’ locks to emulate their own unrepentant long-at-the-back couiffage; and, as their name suggests, snorting the semi-legal gay scene drug, amyl nitrate. “Because of our name, loads of kids bring amyl to our gigs,” explains 22-year-old singer Amy Louise Taylor (hence their ‘Amyl’ moniker). “Our bass player Gus thinks they should bring more. It’s pretty good, but it does give you a headache…” The Sniffers’ mullet look is a knowing nod to the mid-’70s Melbourne-centred ‘Sharpie’ scene, a now much-mythologised pre-punk subculture based around a skinhead/glam image, gang violence and back-to-basics boogie rock from acts like Coloured Balls, Skyhooks and an embryonic AC/DC. Those touchstones, together with a
Celebrate the mullet: outback rowdies Amyl And The Sniffers (from left) Gus Romer, Amy Louise Taylor, Bryce Wilson and Declan Martens.
“I’M NOT TRYING TO BE SHOCKING, IT’S JUST STUFF IN MY BRAIN.” Amy Louise Taylor
classic Ramones/Slits four-chord armoury, gleefully stoke the Sniffers’ sound. But it’s Taylor’s bogan sass and lyrics about Melbourne punk lowlife – KEY TRACKS titles such as Blowjob, I’m Not A Loser, ● I’m Not A Loser ’70s Street Munchies and Mole (Sniff ● Mole (Sniff Sniff) Sniff) speak volumes – which elevate the ● Caltex Cowgirl ● Westgate group into a genuinely thrilling cross● ’70s Street Munchies cultural experience. “I don’t think of the lyrics as funny or shocking,” says Taylor, whose musical heroes are Nancy Sinatra and Dolly Parton, and, as like her bandmates, has home-made tatts and is partial to a drop of ‘goon’ (cheap wine in a box). “I just sing what I’m thinking. I’m not trying to be shocking or sexy, it’s just stuff in my brain.” The band formed one day in February 2016, when Taylor and her St Kilda housemates Declan Martens (guitar), Callum Newton (bass) and Bryce Wilson (drums) decided to write and record some songs in her bedroom. Twenty-four hours later, the raucous Giddy Up EP was posted on Bandcamp, eventually attracting the attention of Flightless Records – home of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – who funded 2017’s super-punky Big Attraction EP. A change of bass player – in came ginger-haired Gus Romer (“he already had the right haircut”) – followed, as did support slots with Foo Fighters and Oz punk legends Cosmic Psychos. The Sniffers are set to visit the UK later this month, where their growing cult has seen their London Lexington show sell out weeks in advance. “It’s growing organically,” says Taylor. “A lot of people hate us, but I don’t care.” Pat Gilbert
ALSORISING he whole church just ﬂipped out,” says Louisiana-born Durand Jones, recalling of his public singing debut. “That’s when I realised maybe I could make something of this.” Which he did in 2012: after a move to Indiana to study music, he formed his soul band DURAND JONES AND THE INDICATIONS and spent Sundays putting vintage-model R&B onto Tascam tape, resulting in 2016’s self-titled debut (reissued this year in expanded version). Songs are raw, built around Jones’s nuanced emotional rasp (think Otis to Sam Cooke). Live, they are equally explosive: with Jones animatedly fronting a super-tight revue-band, soul satisfaction is guaranteed. Lois Wilson
ijuana-based MINT FIELD 21-year-olds Estrella Sánchez (vocals & guitar) and Amor Amezcua (drums & synths) make an impressive noise for a duo. Their sound is vast and contemplative, sometimes driving and abrasive, with songs prompted by “observing speciﬁc moments in nature,” says Amezcua. Their debut album Pasar De Las Luces is in a dream-pop/post-rock lineage that stretches from Sonic Youth and Slowdive through to Mogwai and The xx, though for Sanchez, her inspiration reaches back further to the ethereal post-punk of 4AD: “I remember listening to Elizabeth Fraser,” she says, “and thinking she has the most unique and melancholic voice.” Joe Banks
JUNE 1956 ...MIDDLE AMERICA GETS NERVOUS That February, Elvis Presley’s breakthrough Heartbreak Hotel had set America’s broadcasting networks twitching. “The controversy over the effect of rock and roll music on the morals of minors have prompted… a particularly cautious censorship ear open for material that might lead youngsters astray,” tutted Billboard. In the line of ﬁre in the second week of June ‘56 Nervous Norvus, on the Dot label w fallen into immed at NBC, ABC and C major networks e bannedthe recor or relegated it to time-spots. Nerv was in reality Jim Memphis-born so chronic asthmati times truck drive a novelty hit conc careless motorist gets his ichor top up following an a accidents, roused censors to action to its car-crash so
Getty (6), Alamy, Advertising Archives
effects and vocal interjections including “Slip the blood to me, Bud”, “Pour the crimson in me, Jimson”, and “Pass the claret to me, Barrett.” “There’s nothing funny about a blood transfusion,” thundered NBC’s censorship caliph, one Stockton Helfrich. The media furore caused such a demand for Drake’s demented delivery that the record was catapulted into the US Top 20. t that pop or rock e the only sounds t alarmed American io and TV at that e. A survey of adcasters revealed h Cole Porter ndards as Love For e and Let’s Do ad long been idered too risqué amily audience ears eed, Broadway cals had long been s suppliers of songs ating sex, which is in’t Say No from ma was banned at he Soliloquy from usel was nixed at
Getting kicks in rude ’56: (main) Elvis and friends on Milton Berle’s show, June 5, 1956; (top) Nervous Norvus’s wax; (right) Elvis and Miltie; (bottom) Debra Paget.
“THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT A BLOOD TRANSFUSION.” Stockton Helfrich, NBC
CBS, and There Is Nothing Like A Dame from South Paciﬁc was declared verboten at ABC. So much for mere words. Others were concerned about excessive body movement. Elvis, inevitably, was blasted for an appearance on Milton Berle’s NBC-TV Show, with The Journal-American commenting: “Elvis Presley wiggled and wriggled with such abdominal gyrations that burlesque bombshell Georgia Sothern really deserves equal time to reply in gyrating kind … He can’t sing a lick, makes up for vocal shortcomings with the weirdest and plainly planned, suggestive animation short of an aborigine’s mating dance.” Elsewhere, DJ Jerry Marshall, who ran the popular Make-Believe Ballroom show on station WNEW, informed his audience that “Elvis will have to drop the hoochy coochy gyrations or end up as Pelvis Presley in circus sideshows and burlesque.” But the wilder side of rock was exploding. An open letter to DJs, dealers and distributors appeared in the month’s trade magazines,
MONTH commencing: ”You’ll know what it feels like to be a poor Negro boy in Macon, Georgia, dreaming dreams that couldn’t possibly come true – and yet it did… I invested two dollars in a test recording and sent it to a record company in Hollywood. The next thing I knew I was recording for that company.” The letter was really no more than a personalised advert for the ultra-frantic Little Richard, who, having already scored with Tutti-Frutti and Long Tall Sally, was proving a fount of ecstasy, with his latest single release, Rip It Up/ Ready Teddy, selling a remarkable 342,000 copies in its ﬁrst 10 days of release. The record was, however, the cause of nationwide disapproval, following a Baltimore appearance by Richard during which concert-goers had attempted to jump from the balcony, while some female fans had ripped off their underwear and thrown it onto the stage. Earlier, on June 3, the authorities at Santa Cruz, California had slapped a total ban on all things rock’n’roll at public events following a dance featuring Chuck Higgins, who had an area hit with Pachuko Hop. It was reported that the teenagers at the venue, were “engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalising motions induced by the provocative rhythms.” Meanwhile, Elvis was still ﬁghting off those who found his Milton Berle Show performance obscene, declaring that his performance was no more raunchsome than that of TV co-star Debra Paget. “She wore a tight thing with feathers on the behind where they wiggle the most and who bumped and pooshed out all over the place,” he claimed. Paget would duly be cast as the leading lady in Elvis’s ﬁrst ﬁlm, Love Me Tender. Not everyone disapproved of the new music and its rhythmic possibilities, though: this month none other than Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, declared of rock’n’roll, “I guess it’s OK. At least it has a beat.” Fred Dellar
AD ARCHIVE 1956
Do the strand(ed): The Cadets (clockwise from top left) Willie Davis, Dub Jones, Aaron Collins, Lloyd McCraw and Ted Taylor; (below) hit 45.
GENE SCENE release the first single from 6theirCapitol would-be Elvis Presley, Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent (above), a singer they hail as “the screaming end!” The record becomes a hit in both the US and UK charts.
RAM JAMS Buck Ram, writer of The 9GreatManager Pretender and Only You, joins forces with DJ Alan Freed for a campaign to make teenage tearaways become responsible citizens. To launch it, Ram’s written Don’t Be A Bunny – meaning, in hip-speak, don’t be a wise guy or troublemaker.
LONNIE OK’D Lonnie Donegan is 10 rapturously received in New York. The skiffling superstar’s current release, Lost John, is almost booted off NBC’s National Radio Fan Club Show after accusations of racial stereotyping, but is soon cleared.
JUNGLE FEVER HITS! The Cadets’ only hit, a version of The Jay Hawks’ wacky Stranded In The Jungle, is released by Modern. The doo woppers, who also record as The Jacks, had mostly been knocking out covers of N Brown, The Drifters, The Midnighters and even Elvis Presley since early ‘55. The Cadets’ take reaches number 15 in July: by August, their version and The Jay Hawks’ is joined by a third by The Gadabouts. Later interpretations come courtesy of Shorty Long, the New York Dolls and Adam Ant.
US J UKEBOX HITS JUNE 13
BOONE IDOL Clean-cut Pat Boone notches a UK Number 1 with his cover of The Flamingos’ I’ll Be Home. It will be the American star’s only UK chart-topper.
HOTEL 1 HEARTBREAK ELVIS PRESLEY WIND GOGI 2 WAYWARD GRANT TOWER CATHY 3 IVORY CARR MOONGLOW & THE 4MORRIS THEME FROM PICNIC STOLOFF RCA VICTOR
PEARLY PLATES Sunset Records 23 ship out a special 45 rpm clear
vinyl recording of a Pearl Bailey interview that allows DJs to ask questions and then cue in Pearly Mae’s answers.
Gun show: Spike Milligan celebrates his hit.
FAREWELL, BROWNIE Clifford Brown, one 26 of the most influential trumpet stars ever to grace the world of jazz, dies in a car crash at the age of 25.
STAN SQUIBS Satirical singing advertising man 30 Stan Freberg releases
We Brits now enjoy a “brighter outlook in the matter of underwear,” says ad for Yankee drawers, with pub signs on them.
a double-sided send up of two current chart hits, Heartbreak Hotel and Rock Island Line. The backup combo on the latter are billed as Freberg’s ‘Sniffle Group’.
ON THE 5 STANDING CORNER THE FOUR LADS COLUMBIA
IN LOVE AGAIN FATS 6 I’M DOMINO 7 =CARBLUE SU IV 7 =GALE MOON 9PICNIC THEM G IMPERIAL
GOON VIBRATIONS Radio comedy insaniacs The Goons – AKA Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe – enter the UK charts with I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas/ The Bluebottle Blues. Milligan had earlier performed the song on an episode of The Goon Show, entitled The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal, in order to ﬁll in time left vacant when the show’s musicians went on strike.
HOT 10 DIGGIT (DOG ZIGG BOOM) PER COMO RCA VICTO
Tower record: Gale Storm at joint seven!
S H T N O 6M T
S U J R FO !
0 5 . 8 1 ÂŁ
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MOMENTUM IN SPACE Cecil Taylor, one of jazz piano’s most uncompromising pathﬁnders, died on April 5.
ecil Taylor has always hated me since I said he couldn’t play,” wrote Miles Davis in his 1989 autobiography. It could be said that his perception of Taylor, an avant-garde, starkly individualistic pianist who composed and played with a ﬁerce intensity, echoed the opinion of the jazz mainstream. In fact, such was Taylor’s reputation that club owners on the ‘60s jazz circuit refused to give him work, lest his relentless atonality scare away the audience. Despite this, Taylor never once compromised his aspirations or diluted his output to appease popular tastes. Born in Queens, the young Taylor ﬁrst became interested in music after hearing Duke Ellington’s drummer, Sonny Greer. This awakening would later inﬂuence his uniquely percussive approach to the piano, an instrument that he took up when he was six. By his late teens, Taylor was studying composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston. As the ‘50s
commenced, he saw in jazz the means of exploring new musical possibilities. Leading a quartet which included saxophonist Steve Lacy, Taylor’s 1956 debut LP was Jazz Advance, whose title alluded to the pianist’s progressive take on bebop. After recording with John Coltrane in 1958 (for the LP Stereo Drive), a year later Taylor released the prophetically-titled Looking Ahead!, where he began to rebel against conventional notions of melody, harmony, and structure. Though it was released at a time wh sax Col the bec Tay ﬁer “I tr on lea ad ma onc des a st deﬁ dis clu cho
Where there’s smoke: (main) Cecil Taylor, player of ‘88 tuned drums’, at the Montreux Jazz Festival, July 1976; (below) in New York, 1985.
“I TRY TO IMITATE ON
fractured melodic lines characterised by wide jumps between notes. In his thirties Taylor struggled to ﬁnd work as a musician (dishwashing and dry cleaning were two jobs he took to pay the rent), but his fortunes improved in the 1970s, when he regularly performed in Europe and became famed for his demanding, lengthy solo piano recitals punctuated by s, poetry and him attacking s with his ﬁsts and elbows. lso started to record with more ncy. The period from 1980 to tnessed a plethora of albums jazz indies such as Soul Note, d FMP, and Taylor began to the respect his groundbreakc endeavours deserved. of his ﬁnal performances – in o mark his receipt of the 50 yen Kyoto Prize for Arts And phy in 2013 – proved his g spirit and performing vigour till strong into his ninth e. “What I am doing,” he ed of his life’s work, “is creating ent American language.” Charles Waring
Album: Unit Structures (Blue Note, 1966) The Sound: In his verbose linernotes to this landmark album, Taylor uses abstract phrases like “joint energy disposal in parts of singular feedings” to describe music that deﬁes words and easy categorisation. Veering from turbulent squalls of notes and explosions of vivid colour to reposeful but eerie soundscapes, Taylor and his septet create an absorbing sonic dialogue that’s unremitting in its y
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YVONNE STAPLES STAPLE SINGER AND MANAGER BORN 1937
Crescent City reedsman: Charles Neville, live on-stage.
CHARLES NEVILLE NEVILLE BROTHERS HORN MAN BORN 1938 The second oldest sibling in New Orleans music royalty the Neville Brothers, Charles Neville grew up in what his brother Aaron called “a happy, musical home” in the city’s
tough Calliope housing project. He spent the ‘50s and ‘60s playing saxophone on the road with the likes of B.B. King, Little Walter and Fats Domino, punctuated by US Navy service and time in jail for drugs, where he played with fellow inmates including pianist James Booker. After a stint playing jazz in New York, he returned to New Orleans in the ‘70s, when his uncle George Landry – AKA Big Chief
Jolly of the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indian tribe – united his nephews for a 1976 studio date. The siblings recorded nine albums of R&B, blues, doo wop, funk, jazz and pop between 1978 and 2004, winning a Grammy for 1989’s mysterious Healing Chant. Brother Aaron paid tribute: “You were a great brother. You’ll always be in my heart and soul, like a tattoo.” Ian Harrison
When her brother Pervis left the Staple Singers, Yvonne Staples adopted a frontline role alongside her father Pops and her sisters Cleotha and Mavis in the long-established, gospel-rooted, civil rights-promoting singing group. Their most successful period followed, as October 1971’s Respect Yourself hit Number 12 US and I’ll Take You There made Number 1 in February ’72. More big sellers ensued, including 1975’s Let’s Do It Again, and in 1976 the group sang The Weight with The Band on The Last Waltz, though commercial success waned thereafter. Throughout, although possessing a strong voice, Yvonne was content to sing backing and to manage the group, motivating and assisting sister Mavis in the same capacity with her solo career. Clive Prior
THEY ALSOSERVED was Eulalia in 2014.
JAZZ MUSICIAN, vocalese singer, composer and producer BOB DOROUGH (above, b.1923) worked as a pianist and arranger in New York and Paris with the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Blossom Dearie and Miles Davis in the ’50s and ’60s. In 1972, fresh from producing Spanky And Our Gang, he began to write and direct the beloved six-part educational US TV cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock!, which included 3 Is A Magic Number, later sampled by De La Soul. His other collaborators included Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou and Hal Willner, while his writing credits included jazz numbers Comin’ Home Baby and I’m Hip. Having released his solo debut Devil May Care in 1956, Dorough’s last
BASSIST BRIAN HOOPER (b.c.1963) served with Sydney alt-bluesers Beasts Of Bourbon. Additionally, he recorded solo and with Kim Salmon & The Surrealists, The Voyeurs and Rowland S. Howard, and played bass on Death Is Not The End on Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads in 1996 (Hooper was also part of Cave’s vocal ensemble The Moron Tabernacle Choir). His ﬁnal performance was at his own beneﬁt concert in Melbourne in April, organised by friends and colleagues including Mick Harvey and the reunited Beasts Of Bourbon. PIANIST and singer ROY YOUNG (b.1937) featured on late-’50s UK rock’n’roll TV as Roy ‘Rock ‘Em’ Young, whereafter he recorded solo and toured with Cliff Richard and The Shadows. In 1961, in Hamburg, he played with Tony Sheridan and later The Beatles; he would also tour with the Fabs on their last European dates in 1966 as a member of Cliff Bennett And The
Rebel Rousers. Young’s later activities included managing Long John Baldry, touring with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, Star-Club reunions and playing on three songs on Bowie’s Low. EDM DJ and producer AVICII (b. Tim Bergling, 1989) began releasing dance tracks in 2008 but broke through with 2011’s Etta James-sampling Levels. In 2013, his country-electronic Wake Me Up brought huge US success m th th re Pu an am ot Al pr ne hi re fro in di
of Ted Heath, Ivor and Basil Kirchin and Geraldo in the ‘40s and ‘50s, before forming his own orchestra to play with Tony Bennett, among others. He also did sessions for Cleo Laine, Vic Lewis, Roy Castle and Johnny Keating, recorded numerous tributes to James Last, and, in 1968 played the trumpet solo on Martha My Dear on The Beatles’ White Album. BASSIST, PRODUCER and DJ STUART COLMAN (b.1944) was a member of
Colours, who had a Top 10 UK hit in 1965 with Mirror, Mirror. The group then morphed into The Flying Machine, who hit Top 5 US with Smile A Little Smile For Me in 1969. In 1976, after protesting about the BBC’s sidelining of rock’n’roll, Colman was given his own weekly It’s Rock‘n’Roll show on Radio 1. This led to producing hits for Shakin’ Stevens, including Green Door and This Ole House; he also produced Kim Wilde, Phil Everly, Billy Fury and Little
TR an ba ST RE (b w Maggie Stredder: chief Ladybird.
And Griots and the 2004 Faust collaboration Derbe Respect, Alder. His former bandmate MC Dälek called him, “an extremely talented and intelligent brother who impressed us from the day we met him.” VOCAL GROUP singer MAGGIE STREDDER (b.1936) known to pop-pickers as ‘the girl in the glasses’ ﬁrst came to notice as a member of Liverpool pools ﬁrm choir The Vernons Girls, who appeared regularly on Oh Boy! Stredder then formed vocal group
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THE MOJO INTERVIEW
With a book, a doc and more gigs on the go, Can’s shamanic lightning rod sustains as a freelance “Metaphysical Transporter”, always looking forward, “not backside”. “It’s my job, ha ha!” laughs Damo Suzuki. Interview by IAN HARRISON t Portrait by JOE DILWORTH
OJO’S APRIL 10 TRIP TO COLOGNE Damo Suzuki’s Network in the late ’90s, he maintains a neverto meet Damo Suzuki coincides with a ending global tour schedule abetted by his ‘Sound Carriers’ – local massive public-sector strike across musicians he meets on the day of performance, and with whom he Germany. Yet despite hundreds of improvises without rehearsal. Can’s first vocalist Malcolm Mooney cancelled flights, plus fears of long delays told MOJO, “It takes a brave soul to work as he does.” on the tarmac and a diversion to 2017 alone saw Suzuki play Peru, Albania and the Indian Frankfurt, we succeed in arriving on time Himalayas, while notable collaborators in the pursuit of high-wire at a café looking out over the tree-lined Stadtwald city park lake. instant creation have included Earthless, Pond and, playing as A puckish, slight, long-haired 68-year-old in jeans, checked Imperial Wax, the final line-up of The Fall. shirt and creamy brown knitted bonnet, Damo is clearly tickled by The soft handshake and playful manner, however, belie a man of this smooth arrival against a backdrop of uncertainty and potential considerable iron: having already been treated for cancer in the chaos, vindicating as it does his own mistrust of systems, habit and ’80s, he is today again dealing with the disease. Energy: A Docuregularity. “When by accident something happens,” he says, “it’s mentary Featuring Damo Suzuki & Elke Morsbach – Damo’s much more interesting than if you plan it. I like to live the whole of partner – a crowd-funded film directed by Yorkshire filmmaker my life quite free like this.” Michelle Heighway, will tell the story of this fight. Additionally, I Fascinating chance played a vital role in the Am Damo Suzuki, the singer’s memoir Japanese-born vocalist’s membership of Can, co-authored with Paul Woods, will be WE’RE NOTWORTHY the telepathic superpower he fronted from published by Omnibus in the autumn. Such Mogwai’s Stuart Braith1970 to 1973. In that time he used his voice as retrospection is arguably surprising, as Damo ambient texture, percussive instrument and has often declined to discuss his first group waite taps Damo’s energy. extra-lingual sense-relayer on four essential – he did not contribute to Rob Young’s recent “He made those amazing albums, 1971’s ritual masterwork Tago Mago Can biography All Gates Open, for example albums with Can, using his voice as a rhythm, a sound and the following year’s teeming rhythmic – citing his preference to look only forwards. and an emotion. Me and blowout Ege Bamyasi among them. Following Not today though. As birds tweet and Barry from Mogwai got to 1973’s levitating, ambient Future Days, he left coffee is drunk, this quietly charismatic senior play with him [in 2012]. Everyone was feeding off the group and the music life, returning in the head – whose Japanese-into-German-intoeveryone else’s energy and it made you ’80s to play freeform gigs. After forming English speech patterns sometimes display ➢ realise how making music on the spot is
the birth of all music. He’s an inspiration.”
a gnomic Yoda-ness, with frequent references to energy in all its positive manifestations – looks back on an uncompromising creative life in pursuit of the eternal moment. “For me, like everybody else, life is so short,” he says. “So face in front of you, not backside.” How’s your health? I must think about my body condition. How it will be in the next three or four hours, I don’t know. I am taking every day medicines, which is quite a strong preparation from morphine. Which is opium – so I’m totally stoned, ha ha! On the stage I feel free, I feel better than normal. Everywhere from my body and my soul, I can get free. That’s kind of a therapy for sickness as well. Music is a healing thing because there is harmony. Details of your early life are not well known. Are you a mystery man? I’m not mysterious! I just didn’t talk so much. You were born Kenji Suzuki in Oiso, near Tokyo, in 1950. What did your parents do? My father was an architect. My mother was a housewife, which was normal at that time. My father died when I was ﬁve years old and my mother had real difﬁculty, with four small kids she could not support in a ﬁnancial way. But she did it. She was 36 or something, still young. She is the most respected person in my life, because I learned from her so many things. She was strong. When she was young, she was playing tennis, which was [seen as] quite terrible at that time. I think she liked my life because I’m the only kid enjoying freedom. She lived in the Second World War – really hard times. What was the young Damo like? I was an individual. Ha ha! Quite outlaw. But never with violence. I had quite enough time
for myself, and ideas, because I was not really good with school, I didn’t study that much. Everyone [in the family] ﬁnished university – except me! I tried to be empty here (taps temple) because it’s the best thing for creative process. If you don’t have any information you can make many things, you can go in all 360 degrees of direction. What excited you musically as a teenager? Different kinds of music – quite mainstream. Tamla Motown, Atlantic Records, Young Rascals and Aretha Franklin. I didn’t want to be a fan of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles – everybody was a fan of The Beatles! – so I liked The Kinks much more. In ‘64 they were making heavy metal kinds of stuff. This was the start of the real British rock in my opinion. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were not really original, I think. Never have I thought about being a musician, though. It wasn’t my dream. I was much more interested in being a comic painter, a cartoonist. You left Japan as soon as you were able to. I left in 1968, when I had just become 18, one day after my birthday. For me the world was something mysterious, it was quite scary. Everything was slow. It was letter-time, before the internet. First I stayed in Sweden, with friends, for something like two winters, in ‘68 and ‘69, in some tiny village with 50 people, two shops and a church. It was a lonesome place! I went to Ireland too. I didn’t plan that much. If anything is coming, I take it. An attitude suited to 1968? I am a ’68 person, yes – it was good to experiment at this time, when I was 18 years old. All social things were moving at that time, everybody was able to go to demonstrations, against authority, especially the USA. Opinions were not controlled by the media, like today. I liked being a part of it, but I don’t think that time was better; I like now much more.
A LIFE IN PICTURES
Courtesy Gerald Jenkins, Courtesy Damo Suzuki (6), from All Gates Open: The Story Of Can, published by Faber.
Damo, aged 10, with (right) younger brother Hirofumi.
The 18-year-old Damo living the hippy life in Gräsmark, south-west Sweden, and ﬁnding it wanting, but still something to be learned from.
The Never-Ending Tour hits Brighton: Suzuki on-stage at the Hope & Ruin, October 11, 2016, shortly after a major operation.
(right) with original Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney on a double-header UK trip, April 2007.
Getting better: Damo at home in Cologne with partner Elke Morsbach, co-star of Michelle Heighway’s in-production ﬁlm Energy.
Shades of greatness: at the start of his short but seismic Can adventure.
Hovercraft of the gods: going cross-channel with Can in ‘71, from left: Damo, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay and Michael Karoli.
The stripey-trousered philanthropist: Damo (centre) with Karoli (far left) and Gary Lucas (thumbs up, second left), in 1998.
Kabuki Suzuki: ’80s Damo puts on some slap for photographer Heinz Kastrop.
The Can Men cometh: Damo
Where did the name ‘Damo’ come from? Accounts differ – is it from the accidentprone manga character Marude Dameo, or did you get it in Ireland? I don’t know. Maybe in Sweden? It just came, maybe I said, “I’m Damo.” But in my opinion, everybody has to change their own name. Maybe your uncle or aunt is making your name when you are born, but after a while it’s not ﬁxed together with you, so it’s good after 18, 21 to change your name [to one that] ﬁts with your personality. To pronounce, if I’m in England its ‘Day-mo’, if I’m in Germany or Japan it’s ‘Dammo’. You ended up living in West Germany in early 1970. I’d made busking around Europe for one year. I didn’t have any pieces to play because I couldn’t play really good guitar. Besides music, I was painting on the street with chalks – for me it was necessary because I didn’t have money to travel, for meal. Then I was working for three months for a musical, Hair, in Munich. At that time if you get a job maybe you get 500 German marks a month, something like that. With Hair, I had double salary. One day I was outside, and I made a happening, maybe it was quite loud, because I’m unsatisﬁed and I had frustration because I was working on this musical theatre and (look of absolute boredom) every day same. By accident somebody found me on the street, and since then, OK, I make music. You’re referring to April 1970, when you met Holger Czukay (bass) and Jaki Liebezeit (drums) of Can, who were looking for a singer after their original vocalist Malcolm Mooney’s departure. Yes, that’s when Holger saw me. Maybe he
Can-do camera: Suzuki through the years.
Hippy-time was kind of a trend, not maybe in a commercial way, but it was not like having a free spirit. They were, for me, egoists.
didn’t see any Japanese before but he was interested to talk to me. When they asked me to sing, I never thought I’d stay with this band or be invited to make recordings of LPs, I never had such a dream. Without Holger I am not a musician, anyway. It was really a turning point. What were your new bandmates like? Everybody in the band is quite special. And they had different interests in music. Jaki was free jazz, Irmin [Schmidt, keyboard player] was a conductor of an orchestra, Holger [worked with] Stockhausen and Michael [Karoli] was a young rock guitarist. And I was a hippy! So ﬁve totally different people with ﬁve different directions. With the chemistry, naturally it came together. That’s why it’s quite timeless music.
in Paris in 1969. At that time they didn’t like anybody to have long hair in Paris. When they brought me out they said, “Don’t come back!” Ha ha! Were Can’s recordings always spontaneous? The music was spontaneous, yeah. We made really long, long sessions, sometimes three or four hours without stopping, and Holger was always recording. It was a luxury that we had our own studio with a private atmosphere. It was kind of a creative home. If we don’t investigate in such things at that times many
for Holger mainly, you know. He edited everything on Halleluhwah. Were the group friends? Not really. Just ﬁve different people with an interest to make new things, who came together. Maybe Irmin and Jaki were friends. Maybe Michael Karoli was my friend – he was quite near my age – and also maybe Jaki, because I performed a lot with him later. But Irmin, Jaki, Holger, they’re 10 to 12 years older than me.
“Hippy-time was kind of a trend. It was not like having a free spirit. They were, for me, egoists.”
You quickly found yourself in the studio. [1970 LP] Soundtracks was quite strange for me because I’d never made a recording before, and it became an LP. It’s special for the song Mother Sky. I used to go to one pub, every day almost, and Holger came one time with a cassette and said, “Damo, listen, it’s a good British band.” I was saying, “Oh it’s really good, the voice is similar to me…” And he said, “It is you, it is Mother Sky!” He was joking.
Holger also helped out when you were nearly deported, early on. It was ’70, I think. Polizei caught me on the street and I stayed one week in jail. They wanted to send me back to Japan. Holger, I think, spoke with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Stockhausen made an action to save Damo Suzuki! [The composer wrote to the City of Cologne’s Immigration Department]. Before that, I was quite a lot of time in the jail because I didn’t have a licence and made music on the street. For example, in Tampere in Finland, also
good moments of our music is not going to come out. This is the power-point of this band. Tago Mago, recorded at the Schloss Nörvenich, is still a powerful piece of work. Ooh. It took us quite a long time. It wasn’t the idea to make a double LP, it came from an idea from [Irmin’s wife and de facto Can manager] Hildegard, or something. Every piece was created differently. Mushroom was actually I and Jaki and our road manager Manni Löhe – he was the craziest person – playing together. The explosion at the beginning of Oh Yeah – Irmin had the idea to put a small ﬁrework in the hall, which we recorded. Things like that happened. It was kind of a patchwork
With Ege Bamyasi – and its hit single Spoon – Can suddenly found commercial success. Yeah. Strange time. But a good thing about Spoon, I made it in only three or four minutes, singing and writing my words and melody. Maybe I did it two times. The band at that time was getting quite famous, on the front pages of pop music magazines. I have to give autographs on the street. I don’t like this – if people are accepted for the music it’s OK, not because this is a ‘famous person’.
Around this time, after a 1972 concert at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park, you make the acquaintance of Hawkwind and Lemmy. Yes. Hawkwind were not really like a British band, more like a German band. I liked them. When Lemmy played in Düsseldorf [with Motörhead], he showed me his airplane on the stage – the Bomber! He was proud about this. Later, I performed with [Hawkwind’s sax player] Nik Turner and I met [Hawkwind dancer] Stacia at a concert in Japan – that was the ﬁrst time I met her in about 40 years! Was there an optimum period for you in Can? When I left, I think! Or when I joined. Middle is almost getting like work. Not really, but ➢
Tree of life: Damo Suzuki looks to the future at Cologne’s Stadtwald Forest, April 16, 2018.
“Can was getting quite famous, on the front pages of pop music magazines. I really don’t like this.”
You also found religion around this time. Yes, I became a Jehovah’s Witness during my time with Can. I am not any more – I was with them maybe six, seven years. I’m a Christian too now, but I’m believing much more in the Bible. I really don’t like to belong anywhere. That’s the reason I left from Can as well. Do I think I should have stayed? No. Partly it was like this. I was only 23 years old. I wanted to see another world. What did you do afterwards? After I quit from Can I had jobs. I worked in Essen in hotels, as a street worker, in an ofﬁce for a Japanese company… it was a good time to try something else. I learned many things
from this period. Like, if I am working in hotels I must be always patient and friendly – there are many strange guests. Did you keep up with Can’s career? No. I don’t listen to any kind of music actually. In the 1980s you returned to music. I came back to music in ‘84, or something, after my cancer operation. Half a year after my surgery, I went to a one-day festival in Cologne and Jimmy Cliff and Talking Heads played. I liked the atmosphere so I wanted to make music again, but in a different way. I never developed my own band before the Damo Suzuki Band. We played 40-50 concerts, and after ﬁnishing I released a 7-CD box. In 1985 the The Fall released the song I Am Damo Suzuki, some UK listeners’ ﬁrst encounter with you as a concept. Yeah, yeah, Mark E Smith. I met him only two times, so I cannot say so much about him. A strange person – he was singing, “I am Damo Suzuki” – so he must be! But it’s quite usual
nowadays. On the internet many people are using my name. In 1989 Can released their reunion album Rite Time, but you did not take part. From 1986, they asked me. The A-side is for Malcolm [Mooney], the B-side is for me. They wanted to make a special contract. Malcolm and I get money, the other people get some percentage or something. Conditions for the singers and the other members were different. That is one of the reasons I didn’t make it. One reason? Another was I didn’t want to repeat my time. To get together for this – for me, it’s not natural. To get together you must be constant, as a friend, then I would make it, maybe. But we didn’t talk and we didn’t meet, we had such distance. It was too late. Many bands are doing reunion stuff and I really don’t like this. In the ’80s and ’90s you also play with Dunkelziffer and Damo Suzuki’s Network. Was your approach still improvisatory in nature?
scheduled. Even when I was playing with the Can I was hitchhiking to some places. I lived the same, like how hippy life was at that time. I think everything is OK. I think the best thing is Future Days. This is the point where I left the band. For me, two or three years is quite enough – it was only ﬁve per cent of my life.
After the Network, you instigate the Sound Carriers, with a freer, transitory attitude to line-ups. It was quite a political reason. On March 19, 2003, America bombed Iraq. This day I was on an early ﬂight to New York. Two, three days before that, millions of people all over the world were protesting against the bombing. So I thought maybe I should make some things with the music. I’m not the kind of person to make leadership, in front of people, making big speeches. Music is a communication, and there is violence because there is no communication. I wanted to make something [to promote] understanding. Since then, you’ve travelled the world on a never-ending tour playing with local musicians, without rehearsing. The minimum I have made concert with is two people. I’ve performed with 50, 35, a string quartet, a soprano singer. The youngest one was a 15-year-old guitarist from Glasgow, the oldest was more than 80 years old, an Irish harp player. I have performed together with only females – a totally different energy and a different challenge. It’s not about technique, know-how or music interest, or being male or female or young or old. During the concert we are developing and getting together. The responsibility is not only mine, it is the whole Sound Carriers together. Together we go further. That is why I started this project. Can you prepare the musicians, at all? Maybe before the show some musicians are getting nervous. I make some kind of lottery. Everyone must pick a number to see who is going ﬁrst, second. If the supporting band are playing really loud music, then I must have contrast. Let’s play something ambient, with synthesizers, something like that. Or it might be, OK, let’s make a noise beginning, and I will jump up on the stage and everybody makes a noise. But I only tell them one minute before. It’s much more interesting like this. When you are using your voice as an instrument – “the language of the stone age” as you once called it – are you consciously communicating something? It has no meaning. I don’t like to have any text, singing the same thing hundreds of times, covering myself. Maybe it’s comfortable and not risky to have a lyric, but I take much more of an emotional thing from that spontaneous feeling, the feeling you cannot programme. Maybe I’m communicating the endless wide possibility of joy to come. Does it ever go wrong? Every concert is different. Sound Carriers different, place different, audience is different and my condition is also different, so why should I compare? How do you stay match-ﬁt? Every day is training, almost like a mirror for the music. Am I free? Maybe. It’s kind of a life process, and a study for me, to try new things, and new cities and places. It’s kind of a challenge and an adventure too. It’s like a football game. Every game starts from zero-zero, yeah. Because I cannot play football, that’s why I’m using my music as a football. You’re a big fan of Liverpool FC. Football I really like. It’s like a drug. Everyone is so crazy – especially the Liverpool fans, the Scousers! I never supported them before.
I’m still a fan of Dortmund – but [ex Borussia Dortmund manager] Jürgen Klopp is at Liverpool now, that’s why I’m supporting. It’s the kind of football I like – heavy metal football. Aggressive! Is football like music? You cannot compare it. With the music there is no winner and no loser. But it is a sport – a mind-sport, with the result of making everybody happy. Wouldn’t a Can reunion have made many people happy? In the beginning of this century, 2002-3 – Michael was already died – there was an Australian rich man who asked me, “Do you have interest to play with Can with original members?” He said he liked to arrange tour of America, everywhere. He wanted to pay everyone enough money to live the rest of their life! I said no. The guy from Australia was
Three spontaneous Suzuki splurges, picked by Ian Harrison. THE CAN CULMINATION
★★★★★ Ege Bamyasi UA, 1972
Can’s fourth was completed in a hurry using extant recordings, yet it’s perhaps the group’s most accessible work, hypnotic rhythms and fervid textures fuelling the anguished yet groovy Vitamin C and slinky One More Night. The dramatic West German Number 6 hit Spoon, meanwhile, showcases Damo the avant-teen idol in all his jumpsuited glory, his shamanic Ur-language – more silken and cryptic than his predecessor Mooney’s racked rawness – a crucial element.
THE PRIMORDIAL JAM
Cul De Sac & Damo Suzuki
★★★★ Abhayamudra STRANGE ATTRACTIONS AUDIO H
Recorded in the US and Europe in 2002 and 2003, here Damo unites with the Boston psych pathﬁnders (think a junkyard Popol Vuh) for two hours-plus of metallic echo and fracture, forward movement and obscure revelation. Beograd 1 steams in on a Crazy Horses beat as the singer jerks and screams. Elsewhere, we enter post-jazz-rock In A Silent Way territory, shiver on the Asiatic plains, and hear Damo growl and scat-sing like Louis Armstrong.
THE KRAUTROCK REVIVAL
Damo Suzuki & Jelly Planet
★★★ Damo Suzuki & Je
PURPLE PYRAMID, 2018
A rare studio session from 2005, here Damo is joined by four Dortmund freaks for two half-hour trips into neo-krautrock. With Michael Rother-like guitars, Wildschweinbraten – or ‘Roast Wild Boar’ – recalls Can’s Mother Sky and Bel Air, while Venushügel, named for the mons pubis, brings a Yoo Doo Right golem-stalk. On both tracks, our hero’s verbiage (does he sing “Cowboys are on the rise” and “I cannot tune any more voice”?) drives the group along.
quite upset. For him it was quite meaningful. I played with Jaki and Michael again, but I accepted them as good musicians, not as Can. What’s wrong with reunions? The audience – all the times older people! This kind of nostalgia and sentimentality, getting old times again, is totally against creativity for me. Terrible sad. So many big-name bands, the audience come like a tourist, like taking photos in front of Tower Bridge. I like to have the audience asking, “What is Damo Suzuki doing with our local musicians?” They’re coming for a special event, not Halleluhwah or Future Days. Do you fear your illness could get in the way of music? I must take medicines and it’s up to me if I make another surgery. I can live like this, because there is many things I like to do, to stay creative. And I have 25 concerts this year, and there could be a lot more. I get on the stage and I feel really free. This is the best moment to see audience smiling. All space is getting together and we are in a kind of trance moment. Your business card says ‘Metaphysical Transporter’. It’s my job, ha ha! A metaphysical transporter, what I am doing, without anything, I can transplant my idea and my philosophy to another people. At the same time, we are creative together. You are also working on a book. If somebody comes with a project, I say, “OK, let’s make it.” Paul [Woods] had the idea for a book, three or four years before. I feel a little bit arrogant if I made a book by myself. But if somebody asks me to do it his way… OK, why not? It’s a biography but I think it will be a different biography than anyone else’s. It’s not only my perspective on my life. Like the ﬁlm Rashomon – different people have different truths, and also lies. Your life will get a ﬁlm version too. It’s a documentation ﬁlm. Michelle showed up two, three years ago, maybe it was ﬁrst time I was in the hospital. She wanted to make something about energy. It’s a story about before and after my surgery. I have another ﬁlm project, with Cameron Lee, a young ﬁlm student. They’ve reserved locations in Jura in Scotland. I’ve never been an actor before. It’s called The Future Stone. Maybe one day I’m going to make a ﬁlm by myself, as a director. It’s my dream but I don’t want to speak about it – three years later, people asking, “What is Damo doing? He doesn’t make anything!” Are you a custodian of the Can spirit? Irmin and Hildegard are thinking I am. I don’t play the music of Can but what I am doing, they wanted to make music this way. After 50 years almost, young people are still buying Can LPs. Every 10 years another generation – hiphop people, new wave people – is listening to this music and getting into it. It’s really funny! How do you regard the last 50-odd years? It just happened. Maybe some people will be surprised, but I don’t think so much about this. After the illness I had for three long years, you’re simply happy to be here breathing air. I feel I’m very thankful to all people in front of me from the stage. You think, “Can I get a better thing than this?” Life is so, just good. You can go like a locomotive train, keep on going and reach the next station, and then another station… this is never-ending. This is all people’s dreams, to be never-ending. M Help crowdfund Energy: A Documentary About Damo Suzuki at www.energythefilm.co.uk. I Am Damo Suzuki is published by Omnibus in September.
Damo Suzuki supports the imprisoned activist Fumiaki Hoshino. For info: tinyurl.com/ya8hnzbc
It was improvised, sure. I make things which I can do. I really don’t like to do anything which I cannot.
Light of the world: in the church of Kamasi Washington, aka Union Chapel, Islington, London, March 23, 2018.
UTSIDE A FANCY ITALIAN RESTAURANT IN NORTH LONDON, the world has stopped. After spotting Kamasi Washington at one of his tables, the manager has asked if the 37-year-old jazz saxophonist might pose for pictures. A small crowd gathers, some from recognition, others simply to check out this big, handsome African-American, clad in a mustard-and-cream dashiki with heavy amber and turquoise necklace, holding a hand-carved lion-handle walking stick, and staring out over Highbury Corner roundabout. It’s a powerful look, one that made its first appearance on the cover of Washington’s triple-disc 2015 debut studio LP, The Epic, which saw the musician, father’s saxophone in hand, sporting a black dashiki – his first, bought from a Senegalese tailor called Bob in downtown Inglewood – in front of a sci-fi spacescape. The Epic was praised as an expansive restatement of visionary celestial jazz. Washington had previously played with Raphael Saadiq, Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus, and had recently scored strings for Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, but he was soon being ➢
Street ﬁghting Mas: (above) Kamasi Washington wielding spiritual staff; (left, from top) suits you – Washington playing with AC Timba Jazz at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Los Angeles, 2006; 2015’s cosmologically tuned-in masterpiece The Epic; Washington walks on water for new album Heaven And Earth.
➣ Tom Oldham, Getty
compared to such sax visionaries as John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and being anointed by African-American writer Greg Tate, as “the jazz voice of Black Lives Matter”. Now, he has written a sequel, Heaven And Earth, an autobiographical two-disc journey into his own past and future that moves from maximalist cosmic gospel to tig , al post bop, from cinematic keyboard freak-outs to wild harmonic choirs; a rallying battle-cry of 21st century multicultural astro-spiritualism, aimed at the head, heart, and soul of modern America. “We’re fighting against the notion that it’s OK to kill someone because you feel threatened by how they look,” explains Washington, in deep, dancing, scholastic tones. “If you’re a big dark-skinned black man, you’re taught very early on to be careful, because you’re seen as a threat. Our music represents that fear – that my life is not as valuable as yours – but it’s about loving life too, and the possibility of what you can be. Before I started wearing these African clothes, people would assume I was a threat, that it was OK to be violent toward me. That’s a reality I’ve lived with my whole life.” Impromptu Highbury Corner photo-shoot over, the manager says he might put Kamasi’s photo in the restaurant window. “Yeah!” says Washington, laughing. “‘Do not take cheques from this man! Ask for payment first’.” ’VE LIVED MY WHOLE LIFE IN SOUTH CENTRAL LA,” says Kamasi Washington, “but that first house I grew up in, on 74th and Figueroa, was a pretty dangerous place to be. Deep in the hood. We weren’t even allowed out on the sidewalk.” We’re sitting in a high-windowed suite of a London hotel, looking out over Regent’s Park and marvelling at how close Kamasi Washington came to the gangbanger lifestyle. Washington’s parents divorced when he was three years old, but the influence of his father, Rickey, a professional jazz musician, and his chemistry teacher mother kept him away from the Bloods and the Crips, if not N.W.A. “I kept my N.W.A tapes secret,” he says. “If my parents found out they’d have taken them away. But N.W.A was the first time I felt anyone was talking about where I came from.” Like the other six Washington children, Kamasi learnt an instrument from an early age, starting on drums at three, before graduating to piano then clarinet, which he’d take to school, playing Boyz II Men and Jodeci songs for his fellow pupils. Some kids carried
s, and Washington was still drawn to gang culture. Then, a panican group called Ujima visited Washington’s school, handing copies of Malcolm X’s autobiography; reading it, Washington lised he could be a force for betterment. And around the same me, his older cousin, Lamar, gave Washington an Art Blakey & The z Messengers mixtape. “I’d grown up around jazz,” says Washington. “My dad would play me heavy John Coltrane, like Ascension. But this was different. My cousin – way cooler than me – was reaching out, asking me to learn these songs so we could play them together. Secondly, Art Blakey’s style fit that hardcore hip-hop vibe. It spoke to me.” Struggling to replicate Wayne Shorter’s proean sax sound on clarinet, Washington asked his dad if he could switch instruments. Rickey et him a test: learn Shorter’s Sleeping Dancer leep On on clarinet, and sing him a Charlie arker song. “I sang him Now’s The Time,” ays Washington. “He was like, ‘OK, you serius’. Two days later I was playing in my uncle’s hurch band, for the first time playing music for eople. It fast-forwarded my development.” Such life-stages are referenced in Heaven And Earth’s odyssey of realisation and discovery. Recorded across three LA studios, with a twin-rhythm section 13-piece band, plus 26-piece orchestra and 13-piece choir, the double album is dramatic in ambition and operatic in scope, referencing both Kamasi’s real life (Earth), his imagined, potential life (Heaven) and the way the two intertwine. “With each of us, our reality is so much based on our imagination,” explains Washington. “The hard part is believing your little pocket in the world can be what you want it to be, that no one can affect your whole world unless you give them your power.” That optimistic philosophy is particularly embodied in one of Heaven’s stand-out tracks, Street Fighter Mas, where Kamasi draws on a misspent youth, playing Street Fighter with local gangbangers, in service of a joyous cinematic theme song for kids like himself who triumphed in arenas many might dismiss as ‘low culture’. “I was really good at Street Fighter,” he explains, “and I was this little kid playing with these scary gangster killer dudes at the local liquor store, but I felt safe. I realised no one is all bad or all good. A pretty important lesson to learn from Street Fighter.” At 13, Washington’s street-corner education ended when he graduated to the prestigious Hamilton Music Academy in Castle Heights, where he met young piano prodigy, Cameron Graves. “Kamasi was playing first tenor, next to me on piano,” says Graves. “We were both into Coltrane, so after class we’d hang out in the band room, jamming a little trio. It started from there.” Enter Inglewood music educator Reggie Andrews. Concerned that Hamilton graduates like Washington and Graves had created a brain drain in South Central, Andrews had started up the MultiSchool Jazz Band, allowing young local musicians to play together. Andrews invited Washington; Washington invited Graves. “Suddenly I’m seeing kids I’d grown up with, like Ronald and Stephen Bruner,” says Washington. “Kindred spirits, but these kids were… goood. At Hamilton I’d been front of the pack, into Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, [but] at Multi-School Jazz Band everyone was way ahead of me. They had professional gigs. They sounded like The Jazz Messengers!” “Kamasi unified us,” says Ronald Bruner Jr. “I was the crazy person, Stephen was the super-artistic, quiet person, Cameron the super-focused person, and Kamasi, every time he got on each one of us, we’d feel comfortable in our skin, no matter how messed ➢
By any means necessary: Kamasi Washington contemplates his chosen weapon; (top) the making of the man (from bottom) key text The Autobiography Of Malcolm X; N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton, as covertly listened to on cassette; John Coltrane’s “heavy” 1965 landmark Ascension.
➣ Credit in
up we were. Kamasi has always been an advocate for his people being good people. His music and writing is very encompassing, just like his hug.” The Multi-School Jazz Band started playing at Leimert Park, a focus of the Black Arts movement and LA jazz nucleus since 1965’s Watts riots. “We started to see the connections and the history,” says Washington. “It gave me a reality check.” Another reality check came in 1997 when the Multi-School Jazz Band played the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, in front of 10,000 people. Washington, tapped for a solo, hadn’t prepared. “I didn’t sound good,” he says. “It just ate at me.” Determined it wouldn’t happen again, he began practising, hard; on his own, with Cameron Graves and the Bruners at Graves’ father’s house in Inglewood, and at a coffee shop off Crenshaw called Doughboy Dozens, playing hardcore R&B with comedian/poet, Brandon Bowlin. It paid off. In 1999, Washington, Graves and the Bruners entered LA’s John Coltrane Music Competition. “It was a competition for grown-ups,” explains Graves, “and we won it! As kids! Some writer called us ‘young jazz giants’. We took it.” After graduating from college, Washington enrolled at UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology, where he met Kenny Burrell and Billy Higgins and began playing with Ethiopian and Cuban bands to expand his chops. Then the Bruners’ cousin, Terrace Martin, got him a gig in Snoop Dogg’s horn section.
“It’s where the jazz came in. Be in the moment and not be scared. Plus, I got this lesson in feel. Like, you can play all that stuff, but can you feel it, and play that feel? And if you don’t, you suck.” Washington started a residency at 5th Street Dick’s coffee shop in Leimert Park, playing with whoever was in town. One weekend the Bruner brothers and Graves all cancelled. Washington called up drums-bass-guitar trio Tony Austin, Miles Mosley and Brandon Coleman. Then everyone showed up. The Kamasi Washington double-rhythm section was born. “It opened the music up in an amazing way,” says Washington. “I started telling everybody to come all the time. That became The West Coast Get Down.” Back from gigging with the likes of Snoop, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Stanley Clarke, and Kenny Garrett, the Get Down members started adding hip-hop, gospel R&B, funk, neo-soul and post-bop knowledge, with no sense that one music was superior to the other. “I made a pact with Kamasi that whatever we learned we’d bring it home,” says Ronald Bruner Jr. “We started jumping ahead really fast.” With money from the Snoop tour, Washington built a home studio, using the gear to record a live album at 5th Street Dick’s. After another self-produced LP followed in 2007, Stephen Bruner also caught the recording bug. “All of a sudden Stephen’s playing with Flying Lotus,” remembers Washington. “Then Golden Age Of Apocalypse comes out and everybody’s calling Stephen ‘Thundercat’. That was a real eye-opener. We’d always felt we had something special, but there was no way to get it out of LA. Especially with everyone saying ‘jazz is dead’. Then Thundercat makes a 100 per cent jazz record. He blew up. We were like, Man, we need to push on.” On the back of Thundercat’s success, it finally felt like The West Coast Get Down were getting their music heard outside of LA. Then Flying Lotus asked Washington if he’d be interested in putting an LP out on his Brainfeeder label. “It was a dream come true,” says Washington. “Like hearing bout the land of milk and honey, and then someone comes back
Calling all space travellers: Kamasi looks to the stars; (above, from top) Thundercat’s The Golden Age Of Apocalypse; Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly; Washington’s 2017 EP Harmony Of DIfference; on-stage at Washington DC’s Howard Theatre, August 26, 2015 (from left) Patrice Quinn, Miles Mosley, Ronald Bruner, Kamasi Washington, Ryan Porter.
with a bunch of milk and honey shouting, ‘IT IS THERE!’” Pulling from a repertoire developed during a residency at The Piano Bar in Hollywood, Washington and friends booked a month of studio time at Kingsize Soundlabs in Echo Park where they recorded nearly 200 pieces, 17 of which became The Epic; three hours of music, across three discs. With three horns, two drummers, two bassists, two keyboardists and a vocalist (plus choir and strings), The Epic was a new maximalist, multicultural jazz philosophy that spoke to old and young alike, all tied together by Washington’s raw, rangy tenor. “Real hardcore jazz went away for a while,” says Cameron Graves. “But The Epic brought it back. And people weren’t asleep. They were waiting for this. The Epic did what Black Panther’s doing now. It reinvigorated interest in African heritage and ancestry.” In the wake of The Epic, Washington’s friend, saxophonist Terrace Martin, got him a gig adding strings to a Tupac skit on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. One track led to five: “It just kept building. Me sitting on a couch with my keyboards, Kendrick next to me. I’d never worked like that before. Normally I’m a hermit.” A year after The Epic’s release, Washington started work on the follow-up, Heaven And Earth. In the midst of preparations, he was asked to create an installation for the Whitney Biennial. Comprised of five songs about the five stages to truth – Desire, Humility, Knowledge, Perspective and Integrity – Washington dubbed the project and a resultant EP Harmony Of Difference, a term that would come to describe the sound and philosophy of Heaven And Earth. “There was all this social noise around about building walls and getting rid of foreigners,” explains Washington. “It helped me understand what Heaven And Earth is really about: the celebration of multiculturalism and the power of individual thought.” “With The Epic we reached out and found our ancestors,” says Cameron Graves. “It was the pieces of the puzzle. Heaven And Earth is the solving of the puzzle.” DAMP THURSDAY IN DALSTON. Dwarfing the tiny DJ booth of cool Japanese restaurant Brilliant Corners, Kamasi Washington introduces his new LP to a small gathering of musicians, label types and jazz hipsters (and MOJO). “It’s not about actual earth and actual heaven,” he says, with a dry chuckle. “It’s about how we experience the world, and
FIVE FORMATIVE LPs THAT INSPIRED KAMASI’S CAREER.
Free For All (Blue Note, 1964) “One song on my cousin’s mixtape, A Chant For Bu, had been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest. I brought the tape in to school and pretty soon we had this tight little circle of Art Blakey fans. But this album really did it for ig Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan fan. I’d grown up playing in church and Lee Morgan’s soulful playing spoke directly to me.”
Transition (Impulse, “My dad tried to get me into it when I was younger but it was too over my head. The summer before I started high school, 1996, I bought it in Tower Records in Hollywood. Listening to it on the way home I was shouting and crying because his playing went right to my heart. That summer I practised all day every day.”
Symphony Of Psalms (CBS, 1970) “The version on Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky had the biggest impact on me. It was the power of the voice, the way Stravinsky uses voice. They weren’t passive. For The Epic when I was thinking of the sound of the strings and the choir, it was Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms I was really thinking of. Like, if I could put that on top of Coltrane’s Transition…”
Legacy (AMMP, 1996) “All those years at UCLA studying musicology, this was the ﬁrst album from another part of the world that made it into my main rotation. It wasn’t scholastic. I had to learn the whole form and approach to the way he played music, but it affected me emotionally, the tablas and their use of triplets, I was just tripping out on the grooves. It felt like some J Dilla stuff.”
Fan-tas-tic (Vol 1) (Donut Boy Recordings, 1997) “This took hip-hop in a whole different direction. Because of Slum Village we started listening to J Dilla nstrumentals really closely. Dilla made hip-hop more ike something we could do. Because of the way he used hythms and harmonies and samples, it felt composed. way I think about rhythm, chords, melodies. He changed the way I think about everything.”
how we imagine it. If you had the power to change this world, would you do something about it?” He presses play on Earth’s opening track, a heavy, squalling battle-cry cover of Joseph Koo and Ku Chia Hui’s Main Theme from 1972 Bruce Lee kung fu film, Fist Of Fury. As it plays, MOJO spots Florence Welch dancing expressively, all undulating arms, to vocalist Patrice Quinn’s defiant words: “When I’m faced with unjust injury/Then I change my hands to fists of fury.” “That’s the bleakest point of the whole record,” explains Washington, later. “I want people to realise that to live is to struggle, but also that life is beautiful. We’re at the bottom of the mountain, but look up.” Conceptually, Earth “starts at the bottom”, says Washington, moving from the Black Power stance of Fists Of Fury to the choral Mwandishi urgency of Can You Hear Him into an Afro-Cuban refit of Freddie Hubbard’s Hub-Tones, rising to the wild melodic crescendo of One Of One. “That’s a track we couldn’t have played two years ago,” says Washington. “As we’ve grown we’ve had to let go, like on a sheer rocky hill – if you tighten up you’ll fall.” By contrast, Heaven starts at the top, with a cosmic dance of ascending strings, choirs and horns that is The Space Traveller’s Lullaby, moving through the Latin vocoder ballad Vi Lua Vi Sol – written in Brazil with Stanley Clarke, for a girl who told Kamasi she could talk to the moon – and Street Fighter Mas. But it’s dominated by numbers for those who have passed, whether it be the tender, dancing Song For The Fallen, a tribute to the late West Coast Get Down pianist Austin Peralta, or the urgent, impassioned Show Us The Way, written for American slave rebel Nat Turner, before ending on the celebratory Will You Sing where the 12-strong choir cry out, “With our song one day we’ll change the world, will you sing?”, over Robert ‘Sput’ Searight’s skittering drums, Ryan Porter’s squelching trombone and Washington’s weeping sax. Heard through Brilliant Corners’ stateof-the-art surround-sound speakers, the album sounds almost excessively rich, textured and uplifting. It is a celebration of all its influences. This is just as Washington intended. “That’s why I put everything in it,” he says. “Right now it’s easy to feel dehumanised, expendable and disposable, so it’s good to have something to take you out of that low place. There are dark parts to life. We all want to tuck our heads down and cry somewhere. But there’s a lot that’s really beautiful. It’s amazing, a blessing, that we have all these influences. That’s what this album is saying: you don’t have to M be overwhelmed.” MOJO 49
People have the power: Patti Smith rides the waves of emotion at the Hollywood Palladium, July 29, 1979.
Early morning dream: Patti Smith enjoys William S Burroughs’ The Soft Machine, November 1974; (inset, below right) handbill for a Smith/Gerard Malanga poetry reading in St Mark’s Church, NYC, 1971.
GAZES WISTFULLY ACROSS HER WRITING TABLE AT THE FLOORto-ceiling book shelves lining one wall of her Manhattan home. The singer and poet is culling her library, donating items to charity, and it has been hard. “I look at a book, and I know I don’t need it,” she admits. “But then I go, Oh, Robert used to like to look at this, or Sam gave me this,” referring to two of the most important companions and profound losses in her life: photographer-artist Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989, and playwright Sam Shepard, who died last year. “It’s my whole history,” she says. “Looking at my book shelves, I can see what I was reading when I was pregnant with Jackson” – her son, now a guitarist like his late father, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith of the MC5 – “and when I met Tom Verlaine. I have a book for every event in my life.”
Set free: with Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye (left) and Richard Sohl.
With Steven Sebring, director of the new tourfilm Horses: Patti Smith And Her Band.
ter your debut with Lenny at St Mark’s Church, did you envision a future on-stage? o.I did some work the theatre.I had e really good parts. Madame nnet in The Boy d.I was in plays at Ma.But I could not wearing makeup. idn’t like being to saying the ds over and over. provise.Robert g me to do a ng,and he rough Gerard. epard who ving a little guitar
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It is still a life in overdrive. Earlier today, Smith, 71, was at this table working on a forthcoming illustrated edition of Just Kids, her best-selling 2010 memoir of her relationship with Mapplethorpe and their creative awakening in the explosive, bohemian New York of the 1960s and early 1970s. In two weeks, she hosts a film festival premiere of Horses: Patti Smith And Her Band, director Steven Sebring’s documentary of her 2015 tour performing the landmark 1975 album, Horses. And Smith is back on the road this summer, in Britain and Europe [see panel, p55] with her loyal cadre: guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty from Smith’s original ’70s group, and her bassist of two decades, Tony Shanahan. (She also performs often with her pianist-daughter Jesse.) Smith laughs when asked about the heading on her website, where most artists promote ‘Tours’ and ‘Concerts’ Raised in a working-class household in New Jersey, she calls them ‘Jobs’. “I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘gig’,” Smith says firmly. “When I I always called them jobs,” whether it was her shifts at the Strand booksto early club shows at CBGB in 1974. She cites a memory that came back while at images for the new Just Kids. “We have a flyer for my first reading” – at Church in February, 1971 with Kaye on guitar. “It says, ‘Gerard Malanga, po ‘Patti Smith, work.’ I remember Gerard saying, ‘Why are you calling yours w I said, I can’t bring myself to call myself a poet. I’m a worker.” For more than thre hours, in her hom and at a favourite coffee shop nearby Smith – in all-black except for a white Tshirt – recounts he life in art and labou especially on st making plain her det nation to keep movi while other rock star vintage dramatically a their retirements. “‘ an honourable word insists. “It’s what yo make a living. But I’ After I quit the Strand had to have another tr al job. Playing the grea of Europe – that’s my
behind it. I had written this poem which had a big car crash at the end. I asked Lenny if he could improvise car-crash music, some feedback, and he said,“Sure.” That was mission accomplished. Then you got an offer to join a rock band. [Producer] Sandy Pearlman was there. He wanted me to sing with Blue Öyster Cult, which was still called Stalk-Forrest Group. I heard [BÖC singer] Eric Bloom and said,“He’s doing ﬁne.” But I met [guitarist-keyboard player] Allen Lanier and started writing with him. I was writing songs with Lee Crabtree [who played with The Fugs]. I wrote a song for Janis Joplin. What was it called? Work Song, of all things. It was so Janis, because it’s about a girl who gives all of her life to work. It had lines like,“She’s on the stage while love slips through a theatre that is full.” I saw her all the time. She was so lonely. She wanted a real boyfriend, someone who only cared about her. I wrote this little song, she liked it and then ➢
“I have no fear”: Smith at her studio on West 23rd Street, New York, 1972.
she had to go to California. She was recording Pearl and never came back.
William Burroughs in your f club,you don’t need anybod
I’ve heard a recording of that St Mark’s reading.I don’t hear any nerves. Oh no.The Warhol people were in that audience. There was Lou Reed,all of the Circus and Creem magazine people.Sam Shepard was my armour. He taught me a lesson about improvisation: “Create like you’re a drummer.You miss the beat? You create another like you’re Elvin Jones.” I have no fear.When I was younger,I thought I might be a school teacher because I like being in front of people talkin’. Todd Rundgren wanted to get me on [the TV show] Laugh-In because he thought I was so funny.I was just working in a bookstore.But Robert believed in me,and Sam magniﬁed my swagger.
Did playing the clarinet he your singing? On Wave,my singing is a littl richer.I certainly think my singing is richer now than it when I was younger,becaus there’s more breath there.I d sing as high.But that was an important shift for me.I coul with strength.
You’ve always had strong men at your side, along the way. The man in my life has always been important to me,no matter how a relationship went.I’m very conscious of what each person did to help me along the path,to make it more elegant,less rocky.I used to sing“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”very aggressively.I had so much energy.Allen Lanier suggested that delivery on Horses: “Why don’t you pull back and do it a little slinkier? Make people come to you.”
When you started the Patti Smith Group,did you envision it as a full-strength squad like The Rolling Stones? At ﬁrst,it was just you, Lenny and pianist Richard Sohl. It was a process of evolution.Richard was classically trained and very happy to play Mozart-style variations on three chords.But once I got a sense that we were becoming a rock’n’roll band [with Daugherty and bassist Ivan Kral],I felt like we had a mission.When we rehearsed,I’d have the band do Land [from Horses] for half an hour before I’d even step in.I wanted them to keep playing until they were an organism.I didn’t want fancy guitar work or big solos.What was important was we were a pulse. I ran it pretty tight.We had to be authentic and principled.I would read T.E.Lawrence to them aloud while they were trying to eat.I would have all these ideas,sit with the men and the crew in the canteen and read to them from Seven Pillars Of Wisdom. You polarised audiences when you played the clarinet on-stage.What inspired that? It was Fred.I dedicated [1979 album] Wave to“my clarinet teacher”.I was a shallow breather.I was born with bronchial pneumonia.I sang through my nose.He sai further down.” loved Coltrane. sax like Art Pep mouthpiece.Fr played as a kid. into it. I had no skil pretty fast.But y really liked my c William Burrou Gysin.I spent a f them in Amster two of them wo about Morocco long smoke and I improvised – it sounded like so Berber musicia (smiles).I thought they were just being nice.But I’d stop and Wild wind: they’d say, Patti Smith the “Keep going!”If clarinet-player you have Brion clears the room in 1979.
ATTI WAS TO “I choose songs that ing America have something to Horses when say”: Patti performs Land; (below) “awefirst met Fred: on Marc some” Joan Baez. 1976, in Detroit after a re company party at a hotrestaurant. “I was going the back door,” she recalle view. “I happened to look up, and this guy is standing there as I was leaving. Lenny introduced me to him: ‘This is Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, the legendary guitar player for the MC5,’ and that was it. Changed my life.” Patti married Fred in 1980 and moved to Detroit to raise a family. In 1988, she emerged from seclusion with Dream Of Life: eight songs co-written with Fred and coWhat to expect from Patti’s produced by him. But the album was critically pounded, and the couple never UK shows in June and toured together. Patti would not go back August, and what Joan Baez into the studio for almost a decade, until has to do with it. after Fred’s death in 1994. “I didn’t think I was coming back,” she MITH’S summer shows in Britain and continental Europe come in a variety of says of recording and touring, “and it didn’t settings: solo, with her band and in varying disturb me. I felt like my job was done. I line-ups with Lenny Kaye and her son Jackson; in a didn’t sacrifice my greatest dream, because Venice theatre, a Cardiff church and opening outdoor shows for Nick Cave in London (June 3) and writing was my greatest dream. Also I had Dublin (June 6). “I’ve played in front of 250,000 two children. I couldn’t visualise myself people and 25 people – I’m comfortable doing getting back on the road.” both,” she says. “I don’t mourn my record sales sliding down. I’m just happy I get more jobs – and Smith finally returned, for good, in 1996 good ones.” with Gone Again , a record loaded with At 71, Smith prepares for touring in “my own mourning – for Fred, Mapplethorpe and romantic, military way. I ﬁll up my little suitcase. I her brother; for Kurt Cobain on About A lace up my boots. As I age and the climate shifts, it affects my bronchial condition. I do my exercises, Boy. The album also marked the start of a get acupuncture. new, vital phase in her art: memorialising “The last tour was to play Horses,” Smith continues. the fallen. “We’re gonna do different songs, but I don’t go out ake Gone Again? ecord.I feel the pth of my grieving. w.It was the one ull cognition of my ’s like going to an ening to these uest on that ckley – his last n a record before d in 1997. orking with Tom at the time.I met en I did one of my formances back, palooza.I was ning Pissing In ver,and I felt like uld not go on.It sn’t stage fright.It s overwhelming otion.All of a en,I felt this energy g me.It got me ➢
to do experimental work. We have a young audience. They want to hear certain songs. If I still feel a connection, I’ll do them. I’m happy to do Because The Night for the 100,000th time. But I like interesting covers. I have a couple of new ones for this tour. “I don’t have a stage persona,” she insists. “I choose songs that have something to say: People Have The Power Peaceable Kingdom which I wrote about the about som anything stuff, and thinking a On Aug Cambridg claims, an do a coup was awes sheep wit about Bo Baez. I we concert] w I was in 11 and she in him. He h plaid shirt and his ea looked so “Bobby D she called
Working it: Patti with husband Fred ’Sonic’ Smith and (left) Arista Records’ Clive Davis, 1984; (below) rock TV impresario Dick Clark: “I’m a businessman”.
What a night: Smith with Because The Night co-author Bruce Springsteen, Tribeca Film Festival, April 23, 2018; (right) red carpet friend Ralph Fiennes.
econd l],” she ore That’s We ople in use The gh hit for ay and port, in ousness, idn’t ere one should ne.”
this boy,Jeff.Tom introduced him,and I thanked him: “I felt you stirring me on.” I told him we were recording: “Why don’t you come by?”He was listening to [the improvisation] Fireﬂies and said,“Could I try something on this?”He left and came back with this strange-shaped box.He took out this Indian instrument,an esraj,and played it (she makes a high,delicate,humming sound). See this box here? (Smith opens a black case near her work table) That’s the instrument.His mother gave it to me.When they found him in the water,he had a tiny key in his pocket.It was for this instrument.The only thing he played it on was my record.(She holds up the frayed bow) He played it so intently.And it’s got a broken string. But it did its work.It was the ﬁreﬂy on Fireﬂies. How do you look back on the albums that followed,such as [1997’s] Peace And Noise and [2000’s] Gung Ho? They get passed over in the rush to celebrate Horses. There were great improvisations in that period: the Ho Chi Minh song [Gung Ho];Gandhi [on 2004’s Trampin’];Memento Mori [on Peace And Noise].But they’re emotionally wrenching. In what way? None of them had lyrics.They are based on emotional experiences in the studio.Radio Baghdad [on Trampin’] is 12 minutes long.It was completely improvised on study I had done.I can’t remember 12 minutes’ worth of lyrics on-stage.It wouldn’t be the same.Sometimes you have to lay them aside for a while. When I’ve seen you do those pieces live,I recognise a kernel of text from the records. But you spin off into melancholy,outrage, whatever that kernel inspires in the moment. It’s what Richard,Lenny and I started – locked riffs that I ride from one place to another.The subject matter of our younger pieces was more poetic.Radio Baghdad is a mother trying to sing a lullaby to her children about their country while Americans are dropping bombs on them.
’s not a piece I can o over and over like n actress. I don’t say that in an nsulting way. I have reat respect for actors. hey can do an motional speech from Shakespeare,or die on-stage, with the same intensity.I’ve watched my friend Ralph Fiennes do that – he’ll stop on the street and deliver a speech from Richard III. He’s a true actor. I’m more of a channeller. People Have The Power was largely ignored when it came out on Dream Of Life but has come into its own on-stage. Its continuing relevance has eclipsed Because The Night as your biggest song. Fred wanted it to be sung by people all over the world. He didn’t live to see it performed live. But I’ve been on marches where people who didn’t know me sang it with banners held high. I’ve seen it in the Greek elections. I’ve seen Palestinians with signs that said “People Have The Power”. It’s beautiful because it’s exactly what he wanted. Many people feel so powerless now that they take refuge in demagogues. Given that, is the song’s meaning still valid? Absolutely. There’s always going to be the children. There’s always going to be a movement. We keep getting slammed. And we get up and keep going. Now we have the students across the country who marched that day against gun violence [the March For Our Lives on March 24]. The people have more power than they think.
T’S SO FUNNY WHEN PEOPLE SAY ‘Horses changed my life,’” Smith says, resuming our conversation over an afternoon coffee in a Soho café. “My own book changed my life. I was hoping it would have some cult following. It’s been my greatest success. Nothing else I’ve done comes close.” Just Kids – a worldwide bestseller, translated into 45 languages, and the 2010 win-
Jesse Dittmar, Getty (2), Rex, Alamy
N 1977, Jimmy Iovine was doing double-duty at the Record Plant in New York: producing Patti Smith’s third album, Easter, at the same time he was engineering Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town. When Springsteen decided to shelve an unﬁnished love song from his sessions, Iovine took it to Smith, who added lyrics about her new romance with future husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. As Iovine said later, “I knew a girl singing that song, to a guy, was the sexiest thing in the world.” Released in March, 1978, Because The Night became a Top 40 hit. Patti soon got an invitation from Dick Clark, the rock’n’roll-TV impresario, to perform on The American Music Awards. “Dick Clark called my house,” she says. “I guess he got my number from Clive [Davis, the head of Arista]. It was a very big show, really exciting. He was telling me the parameters and said, ‘They’ll get the master [tape] from Clive.’ I said, Oh, no, we can play that song perfectly. He said, ‘You have to lip sync.’ “I said, No, I can’t lip sync. He said, ‘Yes, you can.’ I said, I can’t and I won’t. Mr Clark, I am an artist, and I can’t do that. He said, ‘I’m a businessman, and if you don’t do that, you’ll probably see everything slipping away.’ He wasn’t threatening me. He was simply telling me the facts.” Smith refused to lip sync; Clark produced the show without her. Because The Night – a thundering pledge of devotion fusing the theatrical ith’s ard’s asting
Early in 1978, Patti was poised to break through w Because The Night. All sh needed was a national TV spot…
ner of the National Book Award for nonfiction – is actually two stories. One is a very personal and moving account of Smith’s relationship with Mapplethorpe. The other is a valentine to a creative age in New York that now seems distant, almost impossible. Talking about Just Kids today, Smith is at once proud and melancholy. “I promised I would write it the day before Robert died,” she says. “My task was to deliver my promise – to be responsible to our relationship and belief system and, at the same time, to New York City and all of the people who touched our lives. “It’s ironic because Robert always wanted me to have a hit record,” Smith adds with a fond laugh. “He’d say, ‘Patti, when are you going to write something we can dance to?’ But I did have a hit book. I almost cry every time I think about it. It’s like he said, ‘I’m going to die tomorrow, but I’m going to make sure you’re taken care of.’” I was surprised to ﬁnd that when you sang at the Nobel ceremony for Bob Dylan’s literature prize, you took it on before you knew he won. The idea was I was singing for the laureate of literature. Maybe it’s not my favourite writer. Whoever it is, it is always someone of great merit. So I chose a song that I thought would be right for any writer, Wing [from Gone Again]. When he won, I realised,“I can’t do my own song.” Instead you sang A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” – and had to start again after stumbling over the words. I do know that song backwards and forwards.It was like I was the boxer who overprepared. I wanted to magnify Bob’s moment the best I could, to be invisible and just be the song. Instead, I was the most myself I’ve ever been (grins). That’s life. Ironically, Dylan got his Nobel when he was releasing nothing but Frank Sinatra covers. Have you listened to those albums? If I want to listen to Sinatra, I’ll listen to Sinatra. But I look at Bob Dylan the same way I look at Picasso. Guernica is the most important painting ever. I love Cubism. But if he wants to do 45 ﬁsh plates, he can because he’s Picasso. I took that attitude with Bob a long time ago. It’s been a very long time since I’ve related to some of the things he’s doing. But it doesn’t matter, because I can go back, when I’m in a certain mood, and listen to Chimes Of Freedom or John Wesley Harding. This guy gave us The Death Of Emmett Till. Have you see Springsteen On Broadway? No. I went to see Bruce at Town Hall, to speak about his book. But I don’t go out to much of anything. I saw the Fleet Foxes at Electric Lady [Studios]. I only had to walk up the street. The one band I will walk through the desert to see is My Bloody Valentine. How did you come to make The Coral Sea with MBV’s Kevin Shields? When it came out in 2008, it was his ﬁrst album in two decades. I loved My Bloody Valentine. When I was chosen to be the curator of Meltdown [in 2005], they wanted to know who I wanted to collaborate with. I said,“Kevin Shields.”They said he was in seclusion; it would be easier to call David Bowie.I said,“Ask him.” He said yes. I went to a studio in Camden Town. We sat on a couch and talked. I said,“I want to do this book, read these poems.” He had a guitar, and he would pluck the strings. After a couple of hours, I said,“Do you want to rehearse?” He said,“This was a good rehearsal.”
We remade it on-stage the way we knew each other – with a beat-up couch and his pedals in front of him. One loop connected with another, and it got so loud that I couldn’t even see. I threw the book on the ﬂoor and improvised. The music shooted up, like the inside of a cathedral. I ﬁnished and laid down on the couch until he was done. It was one of the most transporting experiences ever. Two things I wish in my life: that Dream Of Life had its better due, for Fred’s sake, and that The Coral Sea had its better due for Kevin’s sake.Every once in a while I hear from him. He’s living in a little cabin in Ireland. He’ll tell me about this goat that got into his house and ate one of his master [tapes]. There’s always some tale of woe. Have you been writing new songs? Yes. I would have been very happy if [2012’s] Banga was my last record. But I want to do one more, and Columbia will give me one. I have enough things to say. Some songs are issuedriven. Some are coming more from my roots, Appalachian folk songs. But they don’t come easy. Writing songs is the hardest thing in the world for me. What’s so hard about it? It’s unpredictable. Someone can give me music, and I can go for months without ﬁnding a single word. Then I’ll have a strange thing like Maria [on Banga]. Tony [Shanahan] had a piece of music. We were in his studio in Hoboken. [The actress] Maria Schneider had just died. I listened to this music, tears started falling and I heard the whole thing – I just wrote it down. I know my gifts. I’m not Smokey Robinson. I’ve written a hundred songs in probably my whole life. Someone will say,“I’ve been working on this record, I have 42 songs to choose from.” I’m going… (stares in disbelief). But your emphasis on art as work has given you longevity in a way that’s harder for bigger artists. When you’re a ‘rock star’, people always expect you to create – and succeed – as if you’re always 25.
This boy came up to me, really naively. He wasn’t being mean. He goes,“Did you used to be Patti Smith?” I said,“Yeah.” He had a copy of Horses he wanted me to sign – it was his father’s. He said, “What happened?” I looked at him and said,“I got old.” (Laughs) He looked so scared. All of a sudden, he started laughing. He realised time had passed. I signed his album and he went on his way. I’m never going anywhere. I’m always going to be doing something. There are so many things to be angry about, frightened of, sick over. But life is good. I’m excited to be alive. Like Bob said [in If Dogs Run Free],“Just do your thing/You’ll be king.” I actually say that to myself sometimes. I’m the king of my own joy. They can’t take away my joy of being alive. I won’t let them. M Patti Smith appears at the MOJO-endorsed Cambridge Folk Festival, August 2-5. See www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/folk-festival
Getty, Paul Simon
Groovy thing goinâ€™ on: Paul Simon with friends, 1965.
“He was paradoxical”: Paul Simon at The Jacquard Club, Mischief Tavern, Norwich, August 24, 1965.
I 60 MOJO
you blew into town from Oklahoma, like Tom Paxton, or the Midwest like Bob Dylan, who made up the story that he’d ridden the rails as a hobo. Eager for new experiences, Simon had joined the thousands of young people who hitchhiked across the country in the summer of 1962, inspired partially by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. He planned to continue the following summer with a trip to Europe, both to see the sights and, specifically, to check out the music scene, prompted no doubt by the reference in Nat Hentoff ’s linernotes for Freewheelin’ to Dylan’s having performed briefly in London and The sojourn was to prove the several over 1963-65, and usly significant in Simon’s dent as a writer and performer. MON BUSKED FOR SPARE ist spots and slept, at least for the concrete embankment of While there, he met Dave ung Englishman who gave him n to sing at a Sunday evening an above a pub across from ation in Brentwood, Essex. so arranged for Simon to play by club, the White Swan
Look sharp: Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon in a Columbia Records publicity shoot, 1964.
g home, McCausland told rentwood Folk Club regulars derful young American folk who played a prized Martin adnought guitar would be
Getty, Eastern Daily Press/Archant
N 1963, AGED 21, PAUL SIMON WAS already a veteran of the New York music business. Not only a teen pop-rock recording artist – as a duo with schoolmate Art Garfunkel (as Tom & Jerry); solo, as Jerry Landis and True Taylor; and briefly, in early 1960, in a white Brooklyn vocal group called The Mystics – but also a producer, demo singer and song plugger, all the while juggling classes at Queens College. Yet, since a 1958 split with Garfunkel which would prove a fertile source of future acrimony, hits had proven elusive. Simon was not the early ’60s’ idea of a natural pop star. “There was always something about me, about my face and my expressions,” Simon told me in 2015. “When I was nine or 10, people would ask me all the time, ‘What’s wrong?’ Even my m me, ‘What happened? You used and now you look sad.’ All I know is that melancholy entered into my personality som olescence. Artie says I was angry about heig angry. I was melancholy.” Simon’s stature had been at the root of jection by The Mystics in early 1960 (“We w tough guys, and here was this nerdy little g from Queens,” said Mystics bass singer A Contrera). But by ’63 music was changing in Simon’s favour. He warmed to the acousti flavours of the new folk boom, led by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, pop stars of a new stripe, and had begun to write songs in a “softer” and “deeper” style. Simon got on-stage at a few open-mike hootenanny nights in Greenwich Village where he ran into another image problem To come from Queens and try to get a gig at Village club was much more difficult than
coming to the club. One of those regulars was so interested – especially in that guitar – that he went to the White Swan show, where Simon sang He Was My Brother and at least three songs that had been recorded by Joan Baez: What Have They Done To The Rain, The Lily Of The West, and Geordie. After the show, a couple of fans took Simon to central London in search of some late-night folk clubs where Simon sang Man Of Constant Sorrow, and, surprisingly, the Little Willie John hit Fever. At each stop, the reaction was enthusiastic. After staying in London that night, Simon showed u next day at the McCauslands’ in Brentwood, where would do a brief set on Sunday at Dave’s club. “Paul go along great with my father – with all of us, in fact ” recalled Jonty McCausland, Dave’s younger broth “He played a few songs on the guitar and said hoped to come back to England soon and do som more shows.” Buoyed by what was at that point rare accl Simon returned to New York to accept a plugging Edward B Marks Music Company, one of the world music publishers, although any excitement was da discovered the company’s vast musical catalogu dated. “They wanted me to pitch songs like The P and nobody was ever going to record them,” sai make things worse, I wasn’t a good salesman.” Feeling guilty about not being able to place the m gave the company the publishing rights to some of including He Was My Brother and another folk Dominguez. Apparently eager to get active in the co rary market, Marks arranged for the two songs released as a single in August 1963 by a tiny label ca Tribute. To differentiate from Simon’s Jerry Lan sides, the record was released under the pseudon Paul Kane. It disappeared quickly. But in the fall of 1963, Simon had another s brewing, one that drew on his enthusiasm for his c lege literature classes, of which he would later say feels like there’s Camus in there”. The Sound Of Silence hadn’t come easily, even though Simon was working with new purpose and ambition. Paul played an early version of the song for his jazz bassist father Lou and brother Eddie in his upstairs bedroom, and he was thrilled when his father responded with, “You wrote this, Paul? It’s very good!” He wasn’t finished with the song when he returned to England on his Christmas break, but he played what he had for the McCauslands, and Jonty McCausland remembered his dad telling Paul how much he liked the song. Simon’s bond with the McCauslands was special. “It was like we adopted him and he adopted us,” said Jonty’s older sister, Lynne. Later, when he was doing shows in other towns, Simon would often return to the McCauslands’ well after midnight, around the time Lynne’s dad was getting home from work, and they would sit and talk for hours. Eventually, Mr McCausland began calling Simon his fifth son. When the McCauslands needed $3,500 in 1967 for the deposit on a pub, Paul gave them the money. “It wasn’t a loan,” Lynne said. “It was a gift.” This second exposure to the British folk scene made a strong impression on Simon. After years of rejection in New York folk circles, he was embraced. “I remember being introduced as Paul Simon from New York, and people actually cheered,” Simon said. “We were still close enough to the war that people really liked Americans.” In New York, things were looking up, too.
There’d been a rapprochement with Garfunkel, and Simon’s plugging role had brought his songs to the attention of Tom Wilson, Dylan’s producer at Columbia. The reconstituted duo signed for the label on February 10, 1964, and between March 10 and 31 the pair recorded the material for their debut album with Wilson and engineer Roy Halee, including five Simon originals – notably The Sound Of Silence and what was to prove the album’s title track, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Indicating a measure of ambivalence on Columbia’s part, its release date was set for October. On July 10 Simon returned to England, where he would meet the first love of his life.
ON RECALLED FIRST SEEING KATHY ty taking tickets on the steps of the Brentd Folk Club in 1963 but they didn’t meet until April 1964, introduced at the White Dave McCausland. The singer had dated a amount in New York, but this was different. ove at first sight,” he said years later. “I had t was just chemistry.” ited because everyone liked them both,” aid. “Kathy was lovely, very gentle, very shy had his quiet and shy side, so they fit each n was continuing to build an audience. Wally bout the American even before they shared a Brentwood Folk Club but was still surprised at g Simon’s set. “It was a phenomenon that I had where,” he recalled. “Paul was singing I Am A girls were screaming, and old ladies were up and down. It was really quite staggering.” ly Simon travelled from London to Paris, anied by English folk singer Redd Sullivan. who had bought a Sunbeam Alpine sports car, e eventually took back to the States, spent king in the street, but it was as much for fun money. His good spirits made it all the more g when he heard of the murder of his exmate, activist Andrew Goodman – along h two Congress Of Racial Equality colleagues mes Chaney and Michael Schwerner – in ississippi on June 21. As soon as he heard out Goodman’s death, Simon went to the merican Express office in Paris to get more formation, but he had to go back outside beuse he was so shaken he was afraid he was ing to throw up. Soon after Simon returned to London, Art Garfunkel, who was on vacation in Europe, visited him and accompanied him on some club gigs. But they didn’t revive Simon & Garfunkel; Simon was still a solo act in England. On their last night in town before returning to America, Simon played a few of his songs, including The Sound Of Silence and Leaves That Are Green, at the Flamingo Club. Then he brought Garfunkel on-stage to sing Wednesday Morning…’s Benedictus with him. Afterwards, Simon was approached by Judith Piepe – later a key booster for Cat Stevens, Sandy Denny, and Al Stewart – who said she loved his songs and wanted to introduce him to some of her contacts at BBC Radio. Simon thanked her but said he had to get back to New York. The Simon & Garfunkel album was finally coming out, and he planned to enroll in Brooklyn Law School, after an aptitude test, which he’d taken largely because some friends were sitting for it, suggested law would be a good field for him. ➢ MOJO 61
Notes on an island: Simon & Garfunkel loosen up before the ITV cameras at Ready Steady Go!, July 8, 1966.
HAT DECISION WAS TO LOOK ESPECIALLY WISE when Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. emerged, finally, in November, to little fanfare. Garfunkel returned to his studies at Columbia University but Simon was not so easily deterred; he quit law school after one semester. In contrast to his label’s promotional efforts, Simon returned to England in January 1965 to find that Piepe had been working overtime on his behalf. He’d recorded a BBC session on her prompting, and the songs found a home on the Light Programme’s daily religious show, Five To Ten. As it turned out, the slot was better than it sounded because it was in between two massively popular shows, one of which, Housewives’ Choice, had about eight-and-a-half million listeners. The programmes, each featuring one Simon song, aired on four consecutive days in March. To the network’s amazement, the response to the songs was enormous. People all over England called the BBC asking who this fellow Paul Simon was and where they could buy his records, all of which prompted the BBC to air four more Simon episodes in May. Sensing an opening, Piepe talked CBS Records in London into making an album with Simon. Tom Wilson flew in from New York to sort out legal details. Reginald Warburton and Stanley West were credited as producers, but what was there to produce? Simon went into Levy’s Recording Studio on New Bond Street with an acoustic guitar on Thursday, June 17, and sang into a single microphone. Unlike the Simon & Garfunkel album, these were all Simon songs – no covers and certainly no Dylan. When the solo album and a single (I Am A Rock) were released in England that summer, neither sold much, which is surprising given all the response to the BBC show. The joke was that maybe Piepe made all those calls to the station herself. On the positive side, the recordings helped build Simon’s reputation among folk club operators. Unlike most of the performers bidding for time on the club scene, he actually had an album in stores. Simon played more than 60 dates in four months on that UK visit. In some ways, he was a student again – learning about performing and adjusting to the life of a professional musician. At a folk gathering around this time, Simon offered this playful sketch of himself for the event programme: “I am Paul Simon. I’m sure of that. It is probably the only thing I am sure of. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1941 and a piece of less relevant information I can’t conceive. I started writing at the age of 19 – perhaps I should say my
birthday was 1960. There’s nothing I did before that year that means a hell of a lot. I write not so much as a means of communicating my thoughts to others, but rather because I might die of internal poisoning if I didn’t release the words that spawn in my brain. Oh, man, that does sound dramatic.” According to most who knew him in England, Simon was viewed warmly, not simply for his manner but also his open-heartedness. “Paul was a very lovable person,” said Joan Bata – a friend of Piepe’s – recalling how Simon often came in at four in the morning with a bag of doughnuts to share with ever yone. But not ever yone was so enamoured of him. “Paul managed to rub some people the wrong way,” said one veteran of the British club scene. “He was paradoxical: charming, courteous, shy, arrogant, self-assured, ruthlessly determined. He was eager to learn, to soak things up, open to experiences, yet very opinionated and driven. If you expressed an opinion he disagreed with or information that would be of no use to him, he’d shut down – the eyelids would come down. This led some people to think he was on a mission on behalf of himself, which, of course, he was.”
IMON FLUKED A TV SLOT ON READY STEADY GO!’S JULY 23 programme. He’d been booked for the less popular folk programme, Heartsong, but that series was cancelled before his date. Since Simon had already been paid, the production company, which handled both, switched him to the pop show. “When Simon showed up at rehearsal that afternoon, we were sort of snotty toward him because we didn’t really want him on the show,” director Michael Lindsay-Hogg said years later. “He was folk. He wasn’t rock. He didn’t fit.” Because Simon was a last-minute addition to an already crowded show, Lindsay-Hogg told him he needed to drop a verse from his only number, I Am a Rock. When the director passed by the makeup area a few minutes later, he found Simon sitting in a chair, leaning on a table, his head in his arms. He seemed beaten down. “You don’t understand,” Simon told him. “I Am a Rock is a story, and if you cut a verse out of it, you’ve ruined the story.” Lindsay-Hogg, who personally liked the song, apologised, but the verse had to be cut. Paul and Kathy were still seeing a lot of each other. She would take the train to town to visit him at Piepe’s, where Joan Bata noticed an early danger sign in their relationship. “Kathy used to get a bit sulky
because she felt that Paul was neglecting her,” she said. “He was neglecting her in a way that wasn’t deliberately being hurtful. It was just that his mind was totally occupied with something else.” Still, there was no question Paul was in love with Kathy, which was why he missed her so deeply during a nine-date tour late that summer in the north-west. It was the trip that inspired his second great song. Later, in interviews, Simon would often say Homeward Bound grew out of the northern England tour, even specifying the time he sat in a railway station in Widnes. Residents would place a plaque outside the station to mark the spot where they believed Simon wrote the song. After the first two plaques were stolen, a third was set up inside the station, where someone could keep an eye on it. Geoff Speed ran the Windsor Folk Club in Widnes, where, on September 13, 1965, Simon sang for maybe an hour – mostly his own songs – which was unusual on the folk club circuit because most performers sang old English ballads. Speed’s wife, Pam, was struck by something else. Most performers closed their eyes when they sang, but Simon looked right at the audience. “He made you feel like he was singing just to you,” she said. “He was so sincere. Right away, I thought, He’s got it.” The final word on Homeward Bound belongs to Speed, bec he was the one who drove Simon to the Widnes train station day he was supposed to have written the song. “It has alway been a sweet story, but there’s no way he could have written the song at the station,” Speed said. “The thing I remember most about that morning was that we got to the station just as the train pulled in, and Paul had to run to make it. He didn’t have time to sit down, much less write a song.”
Sound Of Silence on the Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. album, the label brass wanted to record a new album, titled Sounds Of Silence, and include the new version. That way they could also replace the cover songs with some of the new Simon tunes. A secondary benefit was that the new cover photo would take them out of the suits that had made them look square. Suddenly, everything Simon always wanted was waiting in the States. Yet he was torn. He went to see the McCauslands. “He was excited about what was happening in America, but part of him didn’t want to leave England; didn’t want to leave Kathy,” Lynne McCausland said. “He spent a long time talking to my mother about what he should do.” Ultimately, there was no way Simon was going to pass up the opportunity, but he didn’t necessarily think the move would be permanent. He told Kathy he’d go to New York, maybe make some money (he actually mentioned $25,000), and then return to England. With that in mind, on Wednesday, December 8, Simon stepped onto an Air India flight, homeward bound. When he arrived in New York, The Sound Of Silence was Number 26 in Billboard. By January 1, 1966, it was Number 1, and his life was changed forever. M mon: The Life by Robert Hilburn ublished by Simon & Schuster.
IMON WAS BACK IN LONDON IN PLENTY OF TIM to celebrate his 24th birthday and work on Homeward Bo while he hoped for word from New York about a single version of The Sound Of Silence, electrified by producer Tom Wilson, on the unlikely chance it actually caught on. Al Stewart had a room next to Simon’s at Piepe’s, and he could hear Simon working on his songs through the thin walls. Stewart, four years younger than Simon, was so impressed that he started following Paul around to clubs, even carrying his guitar on occasion, trying to pick up some pointers. “One day I heard Paul searching for the right word,” Stewart said. “He’d play ‘Sitting in a railway station, got a ticket for my…’ And then after a long pause, I’d hear, ‘destination.’ After a while, he came out to the communal area and played it for whoever was around.” In New York, Columbia Records’ promotion staff were getting encouraging reports from the field about DJ reaction to the new The Sound Of Silence. The first breakthrough was when the single entered the Boston airplay chart at Number 21, just eight spots behind the week’s hottest new single, The Supremes’ I Hear A Symphony. Still, everyone at Columbia knew the real test was whether The Sound Of Silence would pop up on charts outside of Boston. As they waited in early November, Simon left London on what would be his last significant tour of 1965: a series of dates in the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. In Denmark, Simon took a ferry from Aarhus to Cop h the week of November 21 and went straight to his publish office to see where the single had gone on the latest US ch As he picked up the new issue of Cash Box he was underst ably anxious. If The Sound Of Silence hadn’t leapt into Top 100, it most likely never would. Trying to prolong suspense, he looked at the bottom of the chart to see w Number 100 was, then slowly looked higher on the list – 90, 85, 80 – and his heart began to sink. Just when he about to give up, he saw it – gloriously! – at 58. “At that moment,” Simon said, “I knew my life was go to change forever.” When he returned to London, Garfunkel was calling fr New York. Columbia Records wanted Paul to come home i mediately. Rather than simply replace the old version of T
Respect is due: Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Canterbury Park, Shakopee, Minnesota, July 2, 1999.
STAGGERING IN THEIR BREADTH and variety, sonic revolutionaries several times over, innovators in the very subject matter of rock’n’roll, Pink Floyd are much, much more than three bands for the price of one. Born in Cambridge, forged in swinging mid’60s London, they were defined by the quirky glamour and unsettling visions of their singer, songwriter and guitarist Syd Barrett, before his tragic decline and sudden departure ushered in an era of exploration. As Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright and new boy David Gilmour sought a path in mindblown jams and avant-garde happenings, before bursting from the underground with a compelling new simplicity that drew universal sustenance from their doubts, crises and traumas. Like the best bands, the relative
ascendancy of their many phases has waxed and waned – such that, now, the primal wailing of The Nile Song, opiated drift of Comfortably Numb and inventive whimsy of Bike are hard to prise apart – and though the acrimonious, post-’79 schism between Waters and the rest compromised the output of all parties, the subsequent bloom of Floydiana has been a boon to fans. Although Barrett died in 2006 and Wright in 2008, their story continues – as Waters tours material from the post-Syd era; Mason revives the group’s early work; Gilmour’s guitar weeps on; and reunions are ever rumoured. The Biggest, Best Cult Band Ever? As these 50 songs – selected and celebrated over the next 20 pages by MOJO staff and writers – prove, they’re all that and More…
From Roger ‘Careful With That Axe’ Waters; Emily ‘See Emily Play’ Young; Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell; Peter ‘The Tar Monster’ Dockley; bass cornerstone Guy Pratt, and Waters wingman Jonathan Wilson. Martin Aston, Mark Blake, Keith Cameron, David Cavanagh, Stevie Chick, Andy Cowan, Tom Doyle, Danny Eccleston, Ian Harrison, Jim Irvin, James McNair, Andrew Male, John Mulvey, Mark Paytress, Clive Prior, Victoria Segal, David Sheppard, Mat Snow
Illustration by Del Gentleman
Nick Mason takes his band’s extraordinary early songs back on the road… in some unlikely company. It’s True!
summer of 1970 wearing only underpants) as “Argument in E Minor For Band and Orchestra”, Atom Heart Mother is deliciously overwrought with sound effects and Geesin’s orchestral colourings, creating a kind of wartime stroll in the countryside under ominous skies. But the band were never too sure about what they’d created – hence the pathos of the album’s “non-psychedelic” sleeve image. JI
(from The Early Years 1965-1967: Cambridge St/ation, 2016) Primeval evidence of a unique, misshapen take on pop. Recorded as The Tea Set around Christmas 1964, with Rado Klose augmenting Syd Barrett on guitars, this peppy Roger Waters ditty feels uncanny in light of Barrett’s later struggles with the quotidian. Here, singing Syd would love to take a stroll with his lady friend – played by Rick Wright’s first wife Juliette Gale – if it weren’t for his litany of afflictions, including “Meningitis, peritonitis/DTs and a washed-up brain”. A Nervous Norvus-style novelty-turned-macabre prophecy. DE
(from The Division Bell, 1994)
(from The Endless River, 2014) They don’t speak, but do ter? From what David Gilmour insists will be the last Floyd album, this daring summary of the group’s historical dynamic – with a lyric hewn from wife Polly Samson’s observations of the briefly reunited quartet backstage at Live 8. “We bitch and we fight/Diss each other on sight,” concedes Gilmour, before unfurling a guitar solo that sounds like a peace offering. And for more Classic Floyd moves, see also surging Endless River instrumental, It’s What We Do: exactly what it says on the tin. CP
(from The Early Years 1965-1967: Cambridge St/ation, 2016) Not a paean to Syd’s five a day… One of several Barrett songs recorded as a potential follow-up to See Emily Play, this psychgrotesque remained officially unreleased for half a decade, portents of its author’s incipient mental collapse being deemed too painfully obvious. A by-turns whimsically sardonic and darkly candid self-portrait (“I've been looking all over the place for a place for me/But it ain’t anywhere”), wedded to coruscating guitars and primal drums, its titular chorus chant may err toward the comedic, but it remains principally an essay in haunted disorientation. DS
Irene Winsby/Mark Hayward Collection, Photoshot
(from The Early Years 1970: Devi/ ation, 2016) Blissed-out, sun-dazed psychotropia. Possibly the best thing about 2016’s mammoth Early Years box, the Floyd’s unused contributions to the Zabriskie Point soundtrack showcase the group at their most effortless, telepathic and agenda-free, contrasting the sun-kissed folk rock textures of Crumbling Land and its more leisurely cousins (cf. On The Highway; Love Scene Version 7) with this head music high-watermark. Wright and Gilmour weave exquisitely up to a point at 2:50 when all the drugs kick in. The Verve used to think they were this good. DE
ROGER WATERS remembers Syd The Songwriter. “Syd was an extraordinarily creative, talented, buoyant, lively, wonderful, beautiful guy. And he wrote songs. That’s the only thing that matters in a band. Somebody has to have something to say, and Syd had a lot to say. He’d read Hilaire Belloc, Lewis Carroll, the I Ching, and taken things from them. And some of the stuff he did was absolutely rooted in experience. Bike is a love song, obviously. It’s a child-like ditty, but the way it scans is extremely strange and quirky. There’s a lot of Cambridge in there as well – bucolic sketching of the life of a young person on the banks of the River Cam discovering their sexuality and intellectuality and individuality. First records represent 10, 15 years of work. So the Syd I knew was represented by those [The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn] songs. They could easily have been written by someone who wasn’t about to become ill. But, equally, the side of him that was teetering on the edge, that couldn’t really cope, was [later] represented by Vegetable Man and Dark Globe. It was always my plan that Syd would stay on as a sort of Brian Wilson character and write, but he was too ill, so the rest of us were forced into writing, or else going back to being architects.” As told to Mark Paytress Godhood before being sacrificed on the altar of economics. Being Waters, he wouldn’t shut up about it, and seemed to relish the irony of signalling the emptiness of Big Rock with Even Bigger Rock. The double-LP’s opener – so good they played it twice – out-Queens Queen with a riff that smashes said wall to bits, before bombing the debris with Stukas. Not what you expected to see/hear? Tough titties. DE
(from Atom Heart Mother, 1970) (from The Wall, 1979) Unveiling the insane album that killed the ’70s. Waters saw where ’70s rock was going as early as 1973 – addled musicians elevated to
Their first side-long excursion led their first chart-topping album. Begun as the theme for an imaginary western and described by eccentric arranger Ron Geesin (who worked on it in a garret in the sticky
Authentic Floydian buc wrapped in authentic Gilmour g David Gilmour ends Floyd’s second stab at creative life after Waters with a glance back at Cambridge beginnings, haunted by “the embers of bridges” and subsequent “slow decay” like the big old Eeyore he is. Jon Carin’s opening piano figure, answering the church bell, is one of the late group’s most striking gambits and the stately subsequent music, more like the Volga than the Cam, is simultaneously unFloyd-like yet full of heavy feeling. Gilmour finishes with a guitar solo whose shrillness says ‘fretful’. CP
(from The Wall, 1979) You talkin’ to me? What does Roger Waters really want? To break down the psychic barriers that separate us all, to pioneer a New Universal Empathy? To be touched the character who sits “naked by the phone” in this, one of The Wall’s handful of epic slowies? Or merely to wag the finger? Whatever, Hey You is an object lesson in what the Floyd offer in harness – the sharing of vocals between Gilmour and Waters marking a tonal shift between solicitousness and despair, with Mason once again the master punctuator. DE
(from Obscured By Clouds, 1972) Floyd go CSNY. Echoing The Dark Side Of The Moon – and hastily recorded half-way through those sessions – Obscured By Clouds is also six songs and four instrumentals, unfussily arranged (for a film, Barbet Schroeder’s La Vallée), and full of arresting moments, such as this pretty Gilmour/ Waters composition with a Beatley, country-rock aspect, led by acoustic guitar and harmony vocals, and featuring a lyrical piano interlude by Wright. Pleasingly diffident in its original mix, when given a polish in 2016 for the Early Years 1972: Obfusc/ation set it sparkled and soared. JI
My world, my rules: Syd Barrett heading for the escape hatch.
(from A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968)
It begins cold, no instrumental introduction, just Syd singing, in a voice somewhere between drowsy and sardonic, that “It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I’m much obliged to you for making it clear that I’m not here.” In both their belletrist formality and gnomic nature, they’re words that might have been uttered by the Dormouse or the Cheshire Cat in Barrett’s childhood copy of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – a paradoxical riddle about appearance and disappearance. The mood is further invested with a nonchalant fragility by the barelythere strums of Syd’s Levin acoustic, Roger’s baby-steps electric bass, Nick Mason’s hi-hat taps, and Rick Wright’s recorder trills. Like many of Barrett’s songs, Jugband Blues at first appears deceptively slight, a fragile creation seemingly born in the moment of first utterance, and displaying few solid signs of authorial nutsand-bolts ‘craftsmanship’. As with a child’s nursery rhyme, the song’s first third floats in a limbo of the eternal present, unspooling horizontally, shifting character from the innocently romantic (“And I never knew the moon could be so big”) to deeply disturbed (“and I’m wondering who could be
writing this song”) to a kind of naive resolve in the second verse (“I don’t care if the sun don’t shine… I’ll do my loving in the winter”). It may mean nothing. Then again, it may mean everything. The base track was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in the second week of October 1967, a period of “relentlessly unsettled” weather, according to the Met Office, when Syd was living at 101 Cromwell Road with his girlfriend, Lindsay Corner, and a handful of acid-fried acolytes. Tiring of pop fame, besieged by groupies and hangers-on, dosing on LSD, Barrett was, like the Cheshire Cat, gradually disappearing from view, leaving behind a look of blank resignation. So, while it’s easy to read Syd’s final Floyd song as a portrait of acid-fried crack-up, mightn’t it also be a wet autumn abdication, from a band member simultaneously “here” and “not here” to a band he no longer felt a part of: I’m off, I’ll do my loving in the winter, and who’s writing this song anyway? Of the Salvation Army-band-and-kazoo interlude that arrives at around 1:10, Barrett apparently told producer Norman Smith that the musicians should play “what they like”, the possibility being that it just didn’t matter any more. Or maybe Syd wanted to bid farewell to the Floyd on a note of parodic anarchy, because what’s more ‘late 1967’ than a Salvation Army Band playing what they want? What to make of it all? Surely the last line must go to Syd: “And what exactly is a dream/And what exactly is a joke?” His time in Pink Floyd had been both. MOJO 67
once have seemed risibly off-message but now seems poignantly candid. JI
(from Atom Heart Mother, 1970) Gilmour shines solo, and plays drums too!
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
Sounding like its writer is surveying a bucolic sunset through a haze of Red Leb, Gilmour’s senses are working overtime here (“Distant bells/New mown grass smells”). Fat Old Sun has something of the Abbey Road Beatles about it and may be the dreamiest Floyd tune ever. Although often wigged-out on-stage with various solos tripling its length, the studio version remains the most focused and mesmeric. TD
(from The Wall, 1979) Existential angst and American TV. Floyd’s use of found sounds peaked on The Wall. Here, the album’s central character Pink sinks to a spiritual low while his hotel-room TV plays an episode of the 1960s western Gunsmoke and the US comedy Gomer Pyle, USMC. These distant voices punctuate Waters reciting the song’s title, and making it sound less like a question, more like a threat. The beautiful classical guitar interlude (played by session man Joe DiBlasi, as Gilmour thought his version wasn’t up to snuff) makes for a wonderful, startling contrast. MB
(from More OST, 1969) We’re all together and chilling is our aim. Eighteen years before acid house, this is what hippy drug music sounded like on Ibiza. Two acoustic guitars, a half-awake piano and a tin whistle, played by Mason’s then wife Lindy, adding a soupçon of a spaghetti western heat-haze. Gilmour, straining upwards in a daunting key, sings of a woman’s eyes and the colour of jealousy; in the film, gamine Estelle dances, tickles Stefan’s nipple with a blade of grass and kisses him. The island passes from dawn to dusk in three minutes. DC
The great lost flop single that made them concentrate on LPs. Dismissed by Waters as a “notable failure”, Floyd’s fifth single was in fact cosmic pop par excellence, from its opening missive to
Close your eyes and say a prayer. Goodnight children, everywhere. A bedtime story from mother fires the young Barrett’s imagination, sending him hurtling to blissful faraway kingdoms. It was a magical combination back then, he remembers: mummy and the written word. He and Wright share vocals on this enchanting dream-bubble of a tune, while Waters plays surely his most elegant ever bass runs. Folklore was to become poignant reality in 1982 when Barrett, then 36, did indeed return to the sanctuary of mother, living in her Cambridge house alone after her death in 1991. DC
Longtime Floyd bassist GUY PRATT on the art of David Gilmour. “With the exception of Robert Palmer, I’ve never met anyone with such an innate grasp of how music works and what goes with what. There’s this ludicrous majesty to his sound. It was Syd’s use of the Binson echo that started him off, and he emulated Syd’s style, but where that toolkit took him was somewhere completely different to where Syd would have gone. I’ve stood next to David when he kicks off the solo to Comfortably Numb about 500 times, and the last time, at the Albert Hall, the hairs still stood up on the back of my neck. The solo changes and there are two or three bits I get annoyed if he doesn’t play them. But the execution is nothing to him; it’s all about the sound. He’ll try endless combinations of pedals and amps until he ﬁnds the sound he wants. He needs to hear what he wants to do what he wants. The one delay setting he invented on The Wall was responsible for U2’s entire career; I wonder if The Edge has ever thanked him for that octave triplet? Yet when The Division Bell came out, a reviewer accused him on the song Take It Back of playing U2-type guitar!” As told to Mat Snow “Eugene” (presumably the one on the B-side with his axe) from Henry McLean with his flying machine. Dreamy Gilmour-sung, Hammondsupported verses explode into trippy, aptly-propulsive choruses as take-off is giddily achieved. Discarded for years (it wasn’t even on Relics), dusted down it’s a forgotten gem. TD
(from A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968) Rick Wright inherits Syd’s soft side and attempts to turn back time. Wright’s soporific vocal and becalmed piano embodied the comedown from the figurative party of 1967 and Floyd’s ascendance. It’s easy to read his lament for childhood innocence and games (“Why can’t we play today/Why can’t we stay that way?”) as a metaphor for the departing Syd, and in the slow madrigal of the chorus, the “chhhhh” vocal additions and the curlicues of Sputnik-evoking slide guitar – played by Syd in a rare Saucerful… cameo – a vivid echo of his departing bandmate’s sound. MA
(from More OST, 1969) Sound-painting on the subconscious mind’s cave-wal Augmenting Barbet Schroeder’s tragic hippy romance, this impressionistic seven-minute instrumental variously soundtracks heroin use, “tripping balls” and toying with a dish of mercury. It remains sense-distorting when experienced in isolation: an oddly guarded, deep aural void featuring manipulated tapes, shimmering gongs and psychotropic organs – one passage manages to suggest the interplanetary call-sign in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. It also called out to such West German adepts of the coming kosmische milieu as Edgar Froese, Klaus Schulze and Florian Fricke. IH
(B-side, Apples And Oranges, 1967/from Relics, 1971) Psych anomaly, title irrelevant. “Trying to impress but feeling rather empty” sings Rick Wright on his pretty psych-pop curio about a bad night out, its chirpy, gimmicky swinging-London feel – which the lyric neatly skewers – going somewhere they’d never visit again. The predominant E minor chord imparts the era’s sense of anticipation and possibility, the refrain “I opened the door to an empty room/Then I forget” takes it back. The song’s admission of being out of one’s depth might
Uncomfortably done. Opening with a fanfare of guitars, distorted and slightly out of tune, Floyd’s last notable recording with Syd Barrett took psychedelic pop to a place even the band could barely comprehend. Hastily written and produced, Apples And Oranges wears its verse-chorus-verse structure lightly. With the rhythm section virtually obliterated, it’s Barrett’s fast-moving lyric scenario – walking, shopping, feeding ducks, instant love! – and bouncing-off-walls guitars that dominate. By contrast the nursery-rhyme chorus sounds banal, perhaps deliberately so. Syd’s wah wah pedal waves a knowing farewell. MP Continues on page 76
Detention time again: Roger Waters lays a brick during The Wall tour, 1980.
(from The Wall, 1979)
Among the many artefacts in Pink Floyd’s exhibition Their Mortal Remains are the cane and punishment book from Syd Barrett and Roger Waters’ old alma mater, the Cambridgeshire High School For Boys. The cane was used by headmaster Arthur Eagling, and the book records that Floyd’s future bass player received six strokes for fighting in 1959. Waters challenged his tutors at every opportunity. He was dishonourably discharged from the school cadet force, and once claimed to have staged some sort of Dadaist art prank, by eating the apples on the school gardener’s favourite tree without first removing them from the branches. All this fed into the story of The Wall’s disillusioned rock star, Pink. But Waters took his revenge on Eagling and the rest with the album’s unexpected hit single. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’s supremely dismissive message – “We don’t need no edu-kay-shun” – was a red rag to teachers across Thatcher’s Britain, but a gift to schoolkids everywhere. The song’s wildest card is still drummer Nick Mason’s four-on-the-floor rhythm. The idea of Pink Floyd ‘going’ disco seemed improbable at the time. But The Wall was a double album with room for such experimentation. Despite Floyd thinking they couldn’t write hit singles after Syd
Barrett left, Another Brick…’s sloganeering lyrics and post-Saturday Night Fever drum beat made it ideal for radio airplay. Unusually for Pink Floyd, the song cuts right to the chase, with its sole verse sung twice. But the devil is in the detail. David Gilmour’s delivery of the first few lines up until “no dark sarcasm in the classroom”, is almost comically deadpan, but it’s elevated at 0:47, when Roger Waters adds his manic tone to the mix (“Hey teachers!…”). Waters returns later as the hysterical Scottish schoolmaster – “How can ye have any pudding if ye don’t eat ya meat!” – and you can hear the disgraced army cadet and phantom apple-eater in every tortured syllable. The teenage choir on the second version of the verse is simple but dazzlingly effective. The band and producer Bob Ezrin recorded most of The Wall in Super Bear Studios, in Berre-les-Alpes, France. But engineer Nick Griffiths at Floyd’s Britannia Row studio in north London was ordered to “find some kids” and headed to nearby Islington Green School. His hastilyassembled choir evoke the spirit of Fagin’s pickpockets in Lionel Bart’s Oliver! but, like everything on Another Brick In The Wall, they never out-stay their welcome. Gilmour plays the song out with a guitar solo so sublime, so measured, even one extra note would have knocked it out of sync. Taken individually, this peculiar mish-mash of disco drumming, children’s voices and phoney Scottish accents is all wrong. Together, though, it makes perfect, brilliant sense. MOJO 69
Biding my time: Nick Mason with Pink Floyd, performing See Emily Play, Top Of The Pops, July 1967.
S MAN-CAVES GO, NICK MASON’S IS MORE THAN USUALLY impressive. Tucked away in Islington, north London, it’s split over two floors and every wall and shelf abounds with trophies from his musical career and, even more spectacularly, his great passion for motor racing. Occupying pride of place in the airily expansive main room of his lair gleams a scarlet racing car, reassembled in situ “like a ship in a bottle”, as its careful owner explains. Whereas almost every other band of their era will muster surviving members for victory lap after victory lap, the co-founding drummer of one of the biggest stadium machines ever is on the eve of a rather more select but also more intriguing spin round the live circuit. Starting off in venues of a size he will last have played half a century ago, Mason has gathered a motley crew from the ranks of the family firm, The Orb, The Blockheads, and, jaw-droppingly, Spandau Ballet, to reboot songs from Pink Floyd’s first five years, almost none of which have been aired by an actual member of the group since The Dark Side Of The Moon changed everything in 1973. In honour of Floyd’s second album, he has called the band Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, “which can then be shortened to the Saucers.” Our story starts in the Pyrenean foothills where dwells Lee Harris, occasional guitarist and sometime manager of The Blockheads following Ian Dury’s death; his cinematogra- ➢
pher father Stuart worked with Pink Floyd’s late visualiser-inchief Storm Thorgerson on the High Hopes video and subsequent screen projects. Through his pal Guy Pratt, Pink Floyd’s bassist since 1987, he met David Gilmour, and on Pratt’s 50th in 2012 joined Gilmour and future Saucers Pratt, Gary Kemp and Dom Beken on stage. Immersed as he was in Floydiana and itching to play again, Harris figured that whereas on stage Roger Waters had staked a claim to the Dark Side to Final Cut album quintet, and Gilmour to the albums that followed, those that preceded Dark Side had no takers. So he had the wheeze that Mason should take the early Floyd catalogue on the road with a band which might conceivably include him. He put it to Pratt to put to Mason. “Guy thought it was good manners to pass this on to me but didn’t expect it to go further. But it was the right moment,” Mason recalls. “I really enjoyed doing the exhibition [Their Mortal Remains, which debuted at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum last year] but it made me feel like ancient history, part of English Heritage. Rather than do the odd guest moment, I wanted to really play.” The line-up quickly came together. Mason would be joined by Pratt, his other half in the Floyd rhythm section for longer than Waters, while Harris could hardly be excluded from his own idea. Meanwhile, in a selection sure to strobe the Floyd fan message boards like a UFO Club light show, Mason invited his mate Gary Kemp too: “I had thought he might come along as a guest artist a couple of times, but he had so much enthusiasm that it became driven by all of us rather than me desperately trying to lead a band in my old age.” HERE WAS A PRECEDENT FOR THIS SEEMING musical misalliance, Pratt recalls: “Gary, Nick, our mutual friend Simon Le Bon and I played at a wedding a couple of years ago – the set was Floyd, Duran and Spandau. Rio is possibly the fastest thing Nick has played in his life.” But Gary Kemp? The anti-Floyd surely…? Not a bit of it, insists the Spandau Ballet man. His very first band, aged 12, with fellow child actors Phil Daniels and Peter-Hugo Daly, “rocked up at
Cosmo Landesman’s house – his father Jay was the counter-culturalist – and in the basement the very first song we played was Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. With Floyd, I had an intellectual and musical aspiration to be taken somewhere else in an abstract fashion which other chart music couldn’t do.” Nor was that influence mothballed when Kemp found fame a decade later as a white funk New Romantic. “If you listen to the three tunes on the B-side of our second album Diamond,” he says, “we were absolutely trying to emulate Pink Floyd, right down to found sounds. We were all massive fans – John Keeble has a double bass drum because of Nick. “Floyd came out of a very similar scene to Spandau Ballet as the house band of a youth movement based on a central London club, the UFO, representing a particular moment of musical change, psychedelia; then it was the Middle Earth and glam rock, the Roxy and punk, the Blitz and you end up with us.” Joining all the dots in the line-up is the self-styled “multi-talentless” bass virtuoso, bon viveur, raconteur, stand-up comedian, author and networker supreme Guy Pratt, who not only seems to know everybody but has played with most of them. As keyboardist Dom Beken barely exaggerates, “Guy is a great person with whom to play Six Degrees Of Separation. You can get to anyone you want to within two steps through Guy.” Being the son-in-law of the late Rick Wright, Pratt’s recommendation of the former Orb man to play keyboards in the Saucers carried weight; after all, Beken had worked closely with Wright as his musical assistant and knew his stuff.
Coming back to life: (clockwise from left), Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets prepare for take-off; bassist/raconteur Guy Pratt, and the Orb/Floyd/Spandau/Blockhead love-in (from left) Dom Beken, Pratt, Mason, Gary Kemp, Lee Harris.
“There’s a real mixture in Rick’s playing of jazz, blues and quite anharmonic, chromatic textures like musique concrète,” says Beken. “It’s down to me to come up with something Wrightesque but with my own stamp. If I’d said to Rick I was going to learn one of his keyboard solos off Ummagumma or something, he’d look at me as if I was slightly mad and say, ‘I wouldn’t bother doing that.’” For Mason, virtuosity and enthusiasm are givens in the Saucers. As the calm and good-humoured timekeeper in a band which so acrimoniously and spectacularly split asunder, Mason seeks above all the ability to get along. “I want to be in a band with people I know well and like, though there’s nothing like being in a band to put you off people after a few weeks. I’m gradually morphing after 50 years at the back of the stage to being band leader, ruling with a rod of iron, ha ha! But it’s all about enjoyment – I’m not going into it for the experience of being Roger Waters. And I’m not trying to steal the thunder of the Australian Pink Floyd or any of the rest of them. I have no interest in slavishly following every detail of what we did on a record, but to be a little bit looser, take a fresh look at things. It will var y from song to song. On Interstellar Overdrive it would be silly to try to replicate every plink and plonk of 1967. We will find the right balance as we go along.” Including Interstellar Overdrive, Lucifer Sam, Astronomy Domine, Bike, Fearless, Point Me At The Sky, See Emily Play, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Green Is The Colour, The Nile Song and One Of These Days, the setlist alone is as evocative as the aroma of patchouli on
“FOR ME, there are two lists: best to play and best to listen to. Comfortably Numb is one of the best for both. It has a complexity and a dynamic that is curiously like a Led Zep song, starting with one of the sparsest drum parts I’ve ever played, with bass drum beats deliberately left out. But I never put on anything we’ve done for my own pleasure. We’ve listened to it in the studio, so played outside on a smaller system it sounds a bit weak, as if not everything we recorded is there. If I had to send one Floyd album into space to show alien species what we could do, it would be The Dark Side Of The Moon. Like Sgt. Pepper, on their own the songs aren’t necessarily the greatest we’ve ever done but they work together. I don’t think we got the structure quite right, though – with its tempo and construction I would move On The Run further in. The album I am very fond of is A Saucerful Of Secrets, one of our least known. Though not as well constructed as Dark Side, it’s full of ideas. I like the experimental element of the way the title track is constructed, and Set The Controls is a favourite, an extraordinary leap forward by Roger from Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk six months before. And Jugband Blues is the most wonderful, saddest goodbye-to-Syd song ever.”
Afghan. To road test the whole idea, in January the Saucers played a secret showcase to friends and insiders. Among those invited was record manufacturer Karen Emanuel: “Old and much loved Pink Floyd tracks played loud by one of their founding members with incredibly accomplished musicians – what’s not to like?” she says. “Made the hairs on my arms stand on end.” N A SENSE THE PROJECT REASSERTS Mason’s agency within a Floyd narrative that bigger personalities have tended to dominate. “When I first got to see the Floyd doing Dark Side, I ended up looking at Nick because he was the one moving the most,” muses Gary Kemp. “Nick is so much in the foreground of stuff like Live At Pompeii, his playing extremely busy and dominant on what is basically freakout space rock. Since Dark Side, it’s an area of Floyd’s catalogue that hasn’t really been explored live. Yet it’s the one I grew up on – as kids we all knew Careful With That Axe, Eugene and Obscured By Clouds.” Nick Mason: “I didn’t regard myself as a flailing power drummer but I was trying to emulate Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker and Keith Moon. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for Ginger Baker; seeing him fronting Cream made me think, That’s what I want to do. And when Floyd toured with Hendrix, I would watch Mitch and try to be like him. The only one I didn’t was Keith, because he kicked his drums over and I couldn’t afford another set. But I play everything in half-time these ➢ MOJO 73
Reuters, Getty (3), Rex, © Peter Dockley
days. My doctor said to me, ‘Don’t play anything above your pulse rate.’ “Chico Hamilton’s playing on Jazz On A Summer’s Day put me onto using mallets on Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” Mason continues, “which is still a song I absolutely love playing. In a period when everything was maximum volume, I really like its pulled-back dynamics.” From Ummagumma, will the Saucers be playing Nick’s composition, The Grand Vi zier’s Garden Party? “I think not! But songs like Scarecrow, Bike and Chapter 24 have a charm. It’s 50 years ago but those songs have lasted pretty well. Their construction is quite unusual, with none of the bar counts we’ve got so used to with a middle eight, a 12 bar then another middle eight, verse, chorus and so on. Though Rick had had a formal musical training, the rest of us hadn’t, so we didn’t know the rules. “I always felt we were slightly outside the mainstream, gifted amateurs rather than pro-
Any colour you like: (clockwise from top) Pink Floyd, London’s UFO club, December 1966; Spandau Ballet’s Gary and Martin Kemp, Blitz Club, 1980; illuminated reveller and Nick Mason at UFO, 1966; (left) Mason’s bespoke drum kit 2018 and (bottom left) with Waters and Gilmour for the one-night-only Floyd reunion, London’s 02 Arena, May 12, 2011.
essionals initially. Back in 1967 I doubt we’d done more than 100 hours playing each, just a few gigs and rehearsals. Consequently we were hidebound by our ability. We d been in college, not going to Hamburg and playing the circuit.” In contrast to their working neighbours at EMI Abbey Road studios in early spring 1967… “When we were recording Piper, The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper,” says Mason. “But we weren’t popping into each other’s sessions. hey were gods and we were new boys, the uper fourth.I only recall us going into Studio 2 nce, when they were recording Lovely Rita, and sounded so grown up and professional. And hen Sgt. Pepper finally came out, its complexity d recording perfection were mind-boggling.”
If Pink Floyd did have a peer group in those early days, it was Soft Machine. “We were friends and did a few shows with them supporting Jimi Hendrix. I liked them all, and our slightly similar middle-class art school backgrounds drew us closer. Whereas, on that tour, The Move in their stage suits were a really able rock band. We felt a bit ill at ease in the company of these really proper bands, a bit like dilettantes because we hadn’t had that experience. David had; he’d paid his dues in Jokers Wild, toured in France and all that. But when he first joined, he was having to mime to Syd’s recordings. That must have been hard.” HOUGH THE SAUCERS ARE AT PAINS NOT TO replicate the period detail of the early Floyd catalogue, the idiosyncrasies of Syd Barrett’s songs force a certain way of playing, and none more so than that most seemingly childish ditty, Bike. “Bike is terrifying to play because it has no two bars in the same time signature,” explains Dom Beken. “You have to be completely guided by the vocal,” adds Guy Pratt. “Yet this seems to pose no challenge to Nick whatsoever.” Mason is unfazed: “Once you’ve recorded something, something in the memory bank makes it easy to relearn.” “In rehearsal we were struggling with Astronomy Domine or Set The Controls,” says Beken. “How do we match the atmospherics? How many bars of this or that? And Nick just said, ‘Tell you what, everyone – just relax and pretend you’re in a band.’ So now we have a British rock’n’roll attitude; we attack the songs a bit. The last thing Nick wants is to be a musician in his own tribute band.” “The early songs are very fresh to play, and very punk,” says Guy Pratt. “John Lydon wore a Pink Floyd T-shirt and app ently named Sid Vicious after Syd. And you could slip Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun into Joy Division’s Closer and no one would notice. The bass is pure Hooky.” “The Syd tunes are ’60s pop classics and wonderful to sing, but challenging because of things like where to put the beat in Bike,” says Gary Kemp. “Prog can be very blokeish and serious but the infiltration of this Puck-like character and his side-eyed glance at the world pulls it back the other way.” Barrett the man, as much as Barrett the songwriter, is a vestigial presence that haunts Mason’s reanimation of ’67-’71 Floyd. What happened to him will always be part of the experience of this music, for its fans and creators alike. “It’s clearer now how little we understood and how ill-equipped we were to deal with anything,” Mason reflects. “Maybe Syd had taken STP, this very powerful version of LSD now known to have long-term effects, which would explain a bit about how he was. There is still no definitive explanation about whether he was psychotic or whether it was LSD or – which is most important of all – whether he had got to the point where he thought, ‘I actually don’t want to be a pop star; I want to be a painter.’ I don’t think we were capable of understanding that anyone could not want to get on the bandwagon we were on, so we could only assume he was insane. We don’t know exactly what happened, but it wasn’t simply he took drugs and went mad and we staggered on without him.” One pre-Dark Side classic that won’t be played is Echoes. Guy Pratt explains why not: “The 2006 [David Gilmour] tour was all about the musical relationship between David and Rick. When Rick died [in 2008], he being my son’s grandfather, Echoes was so special I said I would never play it again. And David stood by that, despite the pressure on him to play it at Pompeii [in 2016].” The Saucers are flying with the blessing of not only Gilmour but Waters too. “Not that they have any reason to be beady, but you never know,” says Mason. “It would be very nice if either David and Roger came down and did something, but not the first few shows. I like the phrase ‘work in progress’, and you learn as you play. And if both of them joined us on-stage it would be really alarming; if we found ourselves reunited as Pink Floyd, the whole world would come to an end!” M
Dockley found himself on-stage at the Royal Albert Hall, dressed as an orc-like monster, and spraying the audience with fake urine from a large plastic phallus. He’d landed a cameo role in Pink Floyd’s ‘Final Lunacy’ concert at the venerable London venue, one of several Floyd ‘musical happenings’ that year. Dockley’s relationship with Pink Floyd began while a student at Hornsey art college in 1965. He’d moved into Syd Barrett’s old room at landlord/lecturer Mike Leonard’s Highgate house. “Roger Waters and Rick Wright had the front room,” he recalls today, “which they shared with a large pile of ﬁsh-and-chip papers. I was doing sculpture at Hornsey but was interested in performance art and started making costumes to wear during my own performances.” ‘The Tar Monster’, as the became known, was made and painted with a black, ﬂ roof covering. Dockley add snout, a Quasimodo-style breasts and a penis large enough to accommodate a washing-up liquid bottle ﬁ with dyed water. Dockley premiered the outﬁt at an art installation, Pneutube, at London’s ICA, created with the collective Eventstructure Research Group (who’d later design Floyd’s ﬂying pig). But whe Nick Mason spotted the co Dockley was invited to join spring ’69 UK tour and app several concerts, including Albert and Royal Festival H £10 a night. Floyd’s show included tw suites, The Man and The Jo which incorporated music on Ummagumma and Mor “My performance accom
a piece which included the sound of water dripping in a cave,” Dockley tells MOJO. “I’d quietly make my way through the stalls, snifﬁng those in the aisle seats. Once people got over the shock, they were ﬁne. Though a girl in the front row one night screamed and rushed out of the building.” Dockley’s performance culminated with him on-stage, “skipping around like a lively orc rom The Lord Of The Rings”, before dousing the front row with the ontents of his rubbery manhood. Once, he threatened to spray the and as well. “It could have been the reatest rock’n’roll story,”he says. Tar Monster Electrocutes Pink oyd On-Stage’ – but I thought etter of it.” One night after studying the ender-confused costume, Roger aters asked Dockley, “What was our relationship with your mother ke?“ “Looking back,” says the artist, erhaps it was an early example trans art.” Two years later, Dockley and entstructure Research Group aged another effect during Floyd’s al fresco concert at Crystal Palace Bowl. The group concealed a large inﬂatable octopus in the lake in front of the stage. It was meant to inﬂate during the show, but when gig-goers decided to cool off in the pond, they trampled on the deﬂated prop and ﬁlled it with water. “One of the guys from ESRG waded in and had to shake the limbs out to get it to rise up,” laughs Dockley. “Meanwhile I was there, heaving dry ice into the pond.” Dockley embarked on a career as an artist and lecturer, but occasionally runs into one of his fellow performers: “I live in Hampstead and bump into Nick Mason from time to time.” Sadly, though, the tar monster costume was consigned to the great gig in the sky some years ago. “The photograph is all that’s left ”
Fantastic beast: Peter Dockley as The Tar Monster, 1969.
goose honk, and a parody of Barrett assonance (“Hear the lark and harken to the barking…”) in an attempt to bring the bygone “sounds of yesterday into this city room”: a failed return to a childhood innocence that would become the key theme of Waters’ imperial Floyd work. AM
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973) Waters and Gilmour tamper with a new synth; invent hardcore techno… A jittery guitar workout previewed live in 1972, little more than velocity and a prevailing anxious edge survived when the instrumental Travel Sequence was recorded and renamed the following January. Now, extensive fiddling with an EMS Synthi AKS results in the piece being rescored as a bobbling, overdriven sequencer demonstration. Not just a precursor of cosmic synthscapes like Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra and Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene Part II but, thanks to its gritted-teeth intensity, a harbinger of the bracingly unmellow techno that would emerge out of Detroit a decade later. JM
For all the wackiness of Syd’s human beatboxing and the Telecaster/Farfisa freakout heralding an outro spookily anticipating Ron Grainer’s theme music for The Prisoner – first broadcast in September 1967, a month after Piper’s release – this piano-led instrumental group composition derives from the then-hip sound of souljazz, most obviously Randy Lewis, whose Wade In The Water had grooved the Flamingo and other Mod clubs the previous year. And does Rick’s tentative playing nod to Monk? MS
(from Animals, 1977) …
Floyd had done barbed before – Money, obviously – but never vicious. Issued during punk’s breakout year, this radical rereading of jazzy live jam Raving And Drooling matched Waters’ satirical pugilism and political insight with brooding Dr Who bass, jagged, slashing guitars (both played by Gilmour), screeching Hammonds and petrified synths. While there is bathos in its mid-section’s irreverent skewering of Psalm 23, Sheep’s vivid evocation of a crazed karate-chopping flock overthrowing their swingeing masters is abnormally primal. AC
(from The Early Years 1965–1972, 2016) Fasten your safety belts. “Blam blam your pointers…” The next projected single after See Emily Play (an idea quickly vetoed by EMI), this muchbootlegged ’67 Barrett song is a deeply hallucinatory splatter painting comprised of wild tempo changes, hair-raising sound FX, utterly mad vocals – Barrett is a menacing Chipmunk, Nick Mason like Anthony Sher’s Richard III – and impossible-to-follow lyrics about an old washerwoman. Is it a forewarning of schizophrenia? Is it a bizarre version of the hokey cokey (“Fling your arms madly!”)? The Floyd sat on it for decades, apparently troubled by it, before sanctioning an official release in 2016. DC
“I saw Pink Floyd at the Royal Festival Hall in 1969, when they spent 20 minutes building a table, boiling a kettle and making cups of tea on-stage. In retrospect, it was the beginning of what Roger Waters has described as ‘electric theatre’. Even with Syd Barrett, Floyd were never obvious pop stars, so I think they were always, but particularly Roger, subconsciously looking for something else to make up for certain insecurities after Syd left. I remember sitting there, watching them build this table. It was incredibly avant-garde and shocking, but the longer it went on I started to feel slightly embarrassed and awkward. I’m not sure they felt totally comfortable either, especially David Gilmour. David had come from a covers band doing the hits – he played Hey Joe better than Jimi Hendrix. Now here he was involved in some theatrical event. In those early days, he often faced away from the audience and hovered by his amps, doing a lot of twiddling. When they went back into ‘Pink Floyd’ mode, the audience looked relieved. You could feel the tension. I’m not saying the experiment didn’t work, but it was like the time [art student] Pete Dockley terrorised the audience dressed up as a ‘tar monster’ (see panel, p75), it was all a bit unsettling and rather intimidating. These 1969 shows were a stepping stone to something else. And that something else was the ﬂying pig and inﬂatables on the 1977 tour and, eventually, The Wall. It was all part of Roger’s big idea to bring exciting visual elements to a Pink Floyd show.” As told to Mark Blake
(from Ummagumma, 1969 Innocent pre-Floyd Cambridge idyll recalled. Both a bucolic elegy to a picturesque stretch of the Cam near David Gilmour’s family home and a quiet cry of desperation. Waters over-eggs the pastoral with loops of skylark chirps, a
A personalised companion piece to Dark Side’s Us & Them, Waters’ succinct ballad is the ultimate sketch of the English idyll shattered. Skylark song and spoken word dialogue from Roger’s infant son Harry combine with tender nylon string guitar and Gilmour’s sweet, softly cooed harmonies, but this masterfully-wrought mood of gossamer innocence is all to accentuate the song’s tense “Did you hear the falling bombs?” refrain and the overhead terror of the Luftwaffe. Mourning a stolen childhood and a stolen generation. JMcN
(from Animals, 1977) Barking mad tale of terminal illness and despair. Dogs was originally titled You Gotta Be Crazy, and included lyrics so tongue-twisting David Gilmour couldn’t sing them. The reworked song, with its canine metaphor for corporate drones, sounds like a soundtrack for suicidal stockbrokers leaping to their deaths after the Wall Street Crash. Roger Waters’ message is made more poignant by Gilmour’s cut-glass English vocal on its bleakest line (“Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer…”), while his acoustic guitar figure suggests biblical storm clouds gathering. MB
(from A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968) With Syd on the wane, Waters pitches a space rock vision of Floyd's future. The title comes from Michael Moorcock’s 1965 novel The Fireclown, some lyrics are directly lifted from Tang-dynasty Chinese poetry, and the eastern melody fits with the Summer of Love’s Phrygian tinge (see also: White Rabbit). Yet for all its gauche psych tropes, Set The Controls… has a bleak force that’s distinctive and compelling. Reputedly the only Floyd recording to feature both Barrett and Gilmour, you’ll struggle to hear either above the sound of Waters directing Mason and Wright along a new path. KC
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967) Icarus lifts off from Lewis Carroll’s sylvan meadow. Featuring Roger Waters on swanee whistle, Flaming marries starry-eyed acid pop with something more unsettling, as Syd roves in Peter Pan-like ecstasies while a perplexed Floyd struggle to keep him in focus. There are shivers galore though an undertone oyeurism and threat You can’t see me but can you”) shows just how Barrett’s psychedelic excesses were drawing him into the twilight basement of Last Scream… and Vegetable Man. IH
Where Mod hands the keys to psychedelia.
Something wicked this way comes.
Floyd sleeve guru AUBREY ‘PO’ POWELL on the band’s “intimidating” live act.
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
(from The Wall, 1979)
The mother of all jams: Frank Zappa guests with Pink Floyd, Actuel Festival, Amougies, Belgium, October 1969.
(from Ummagumma, 1969)
May 1968. In Paris, students rioted. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the computer Hal – like Syd Barrett – malfunctioned and had to be disconnected. Elsewhere in cinemas, Burt Lancaster swam his way through a glazed, opiated suburbia (The Swimmer), and Ian Ogilvy grabbed an axe from a dungeon wall (Witchfinder General) and maniacally hacked Vincent Price to death. Taking the counterculture’s temperature, Pink Floyd pulled all the elements together – the surrealism; the silence and stillness; the lurching shock and frenzy – and Careful With That Axe, Eugene was born. Initially an organ-led improv with a fluid title (Keep Smiling People, Murderotic Woman), Eugene took on a more disturbing quality as the months passed. By December ’68, you could flip the latest Floyd flop single (Point Me At The Sky) and there was Eugene, a macabre Struwwelpeter of a song, languid in tempo, anchored to its two-note bassline, lulling the listener to sweet slumber with drowsy drops of glockenspiel. Somewhere around the 1:30 mark, though, the lullaby became a penny dreadful. The five words of the title were whispered, a strangulated scream was heard and the axe fell again and again. After a guitar solo from Gilmour, the drama subsided and the song returned to its former calm state. Audiences loved it. Wherever Floyd went, from
Pompeii to the American Mid-west, Eugene and his uplifted axe went with them. The Pompeii version from ’71 is justifiably highly rated, but the spring ’69 performance on Ummagumma is even better, a perfect coalescence of horror, the cosmos and the English countryside. The opening bars are cathedral-quiet with their tickled cymbals and fade-in guitar effects. Wright’s organ meanders about in an abstract headspace just on the pastel side of gothic. Mason’s rimshots confirm the pulse. Gilmour sings a series of long, chorister-style falsetto notes that evoke church pulpits and distant galaxies. Where are we going? Evensong? Outer space? Will there be honey still for tea? Then the skies darken. Waters whispers the title, giving the signal for the tranquillity to be shattered. The screaming that follows is proper Janet Leigh stuff; Eugene is clearly severing a lot of arteries. As Waters screams, Mason pounds his drums and Gilmour solos for almost three minutes, shrieking and babbling as though trying to describe the bloodcurdling scene for the benefit of first responders. Wright is drowned out. Mason eases off. Eventually someone pacifies Gilmour and Wright re-enters, fluttering around in the agitated sun like a wasp circling a picnic basket. The piece ends as gently as it began. Panic over. Relax and breathe. It was only an axe murder. There was a time, pre- and post-Barrett, when young people veered from neurosis to stoicism, from serenity to derangement. Small wonder, in the turmoil of ’68, that a disorientated Floyd fathered Eugene. Grim reaper. Psychedelic serial killer. Blankfaced assassin. MOJO 77
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)
The corrupting power of filthy lucre.
You don’t have to be mad to work here, but…
With its iconic Waters bass line, taut Gilmour chords and best-heard-in-quadrophonic kerchings! and jingles, Money’s 7/4 groove is so pukka James Brown might have overseen the tape-splicing. It also provides a uniquely inspiring bed for Dick Parry’s wanton tenor sax. Waters’ lyric excels because it confides a love/ hate relationship with the root of all evil, while Gilmour’s thoroughbred soloing rides magnificent interplay on the romp home. A musique concrète blues only Floyd could mint. JMcN
If the lunatic is “on the grass” as Roger Waters’ haunting, haunted study of insanity begins, he soon creeps inwards, from “the hall” to “in my head”. Syd Barrett’s shadow falls hard here – “games and daisy-chains and laughs” hints that this is See Emily Play’s inevitable destination – yet while Brain Damage attempts there-butfor-the-grace-of-God solidarity, red-blooded Hammond organ and churchy backing vocals promising redemption, the fearful laughing (tour manager Peter Watts), lobotomy allusions and no-radio-contact imagery keep it very much on the dark side. VS
(from The Wall, 1979) A knockout shot of dread, beauty and guitar solo.
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967) Their punkiest moment, in tribute to Syd’s Siamese cat. Cats are enviable models of independence and inscrutability, their eyes ilently staring – especially when viewed through an LSD prism. Syd was definitely receiving dark vibes here, and j p ; ifer Gentle” (supposedly ex-girlfriend Jenny Spires) is “a witch”, supported by the swarthy descending riff that snakes through. With Syd’s neo-surf-rock ‘drone’ solo – quite avant for the period – additional background scrapes/crackles and a hovering ecclesiastic organ, Lucifer Sam created a mood as ominous as The Velvet Underground. MA
(from The Wall – Music From The Film 7-inch, 1982) The key to unlocking The Wall, and The Final Cut. In its murmured first verse, wordless choir, warm brass band arrangement and chiming church bells, there’s something of Jona Lewie’s pacifist 1980 Christmas hit Stop The Cavalry in Waters’ eulogy to a father who lost his life at Anzio. Rog sneers at the generals and the King, his voice eventually a despairing cry of futility and loss, but at its hushed heart, and in its title, this is a wintry bedtime story that Eric Fletcher Waters might have told his son, if only he’d returned from the war. AM
(from Wish You Were Here, 1975)
What JONATHAN WILSON has learned as Waters’ sideman “Playing with him night after night [on the ongoing Us & Them tour] it’s struck me how, as a songwriter, Roger follows his gut. It’s not about a million ideas or chords or twists and turns; he’s quick to focus on one thing and pursue that. Playing Wish You Were Here with him, the simplicity of it gets me every time, the minimalism of the architecture. He left space for Pink Floyd to go to interesting places, like when they go from 7/4 into 4/4 for the guitar solo on Money. On tour, he listens back to every show – probably no one else would do that. And he’s always coming back with tweaks, so the show is constantly changing. Like, we did a complete ground-up rearrangement on Welcome To The Machine, with drums, for a ninepiece band, on the hop. I’m here to learn what he has to teach. Last night I was listening to the lyrics of Us And Them as I sang them, really considering them. That line in the ﬁnal chorus – “Out of my way/It’s a busy day/I’ve got things on my mind” – that sums it all up. We turn a blind eye to everything – the suffering and pain and warmongering – and we go down to Sainsbury’s and get our shit for dinner. Roger observes all that so keenly.” As told to Danny Eccleston
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
This song’s unlovely inspiration – an ill Roger Waters enduring muscle-relaxant injections to perform during 1977’s US tour – fittingly fades into David Gilmour’s analgesic guitar sweep and Michael Kamen’s swaddling orchestral arrangements. The structure is theatrical – Roger’s spiteful doctor (“just a little pin prick”) speaking out loud to Gilmour’s anaesthetised but internally lucid patient – but the song moves with such limpid grace through themes of childhood innocence and the price of escape that it transcends its concept, floating above everything, untouchable. VS
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973) In an inspired late substitution, the death track bursts into life Few great bands have been so underserved vocally, Floyd’s post-Syd appeal having been hitherto more about the instrumentation. Dark Side changed the game by hiring the human high emotion of soulful backing singers and Dick Parry’s sax. Here, on what had been a moody organ track overlaid with sundry spoken words – and working-titled The Mortality Sequence or The Religion Song until the band had a brainwave – sessioneer Clare Torry’s blue-eyed soul wailing transforms melancholy think-piece into spiritual epiphany. MS
(from More OST, 1969)
Waiting for The Man.
Psych music of the spheres.
The road – or river – less travelled…
“The machine” is the government, but also the record company, bastion of greed and manipulation (see also album companion Have A Cigar) – combined, they represent the dehumanisation by business and industry. Waters wrote it, Gilmour sang (and provided the acoustic guitar anchor), but Wright dominates the arrangement: a claustrophobic, semi-ambient layer cake with VCS, ARP String and Minimoog synths crossing over spacey symphonic and white noise with bonus industrial FX – an epic combination of steeliness, serenity and unease. MA
The debut album’s tone-setter is both ethereal and clamorous. After a static-ridden intro, featuring co-manager Pete Jenner intoning the names of celestial bodies through a megaphone, it slips the surly bonds of Earth, courtesy of Nick Mason’s thwacked toms-toms and Syd Barrett’s pealing Fender Esquire chords, his undulating, nursery-rhyme vocal, numinously harmonised by Rick Wright, vividly name-checking Uranus’s ‘Shakespearian’ moons (Oberon, Titania…) en route to outer and, undoubtedly in Syd’s case, inner space. DS
If Roger Waters and Richard Wright were battling for songwriting control of the Floyd in 1969, The Nile Song presented a radical solution from the former: reinventing the band as a brutalist power trio. A Cro-Magnon stomp very much attuned to the heavy vibes of the time, Wright doesn’t feature, while Gilmour delivers Waters’ wispy invocations in a surprisingly belligerent holler. Best heard in the pure mono mix that surfaced in 2011, for maximum sledgehammer impact. They could have been as big as Blue Cheer… JM
The time and the place: Pink Floyd playing at Le Cloître, Abbaye de Royaumont, Asnièressur-Oise, June 15, 1971.
(from Meddle, 1971)
The strange case of Fearless continues to bemuse. Just why did Floyd never perform this song in public? Fan polls routinely rank it among the band’s greatest. Doubtless the cult of the enigma plays into such appraisals, yet for a song to be regarded as ‘overlooked’ requires a certain affront to public opinion. And by any objective measure, Fearless has ineffable qualities that set it apart. The mystery stems from the roots. Fearless uses a highly unorthodox variant on the open G, with the first string tuned up a huge three notes, from low E to G, and the sixth string, the high E, tuned down to B. Roger Waters credits Syd Barrett with showing him this beautiful sequence of notes, but it’s where he and David Gilmour take them that makes Fearless special. Instead of wallowing in the vast melancholy resonance of Syd’s sound, Gilmour’s multi-tracked guitars pick their way upwards, in affirmation of the lyric: “You say the hill’s too steep to climb/Chiding/You say you’d like to see me try…” The riff melody ebbs and flows, but Gilmour’s downstrokes and his beatific vocal signal that the adversarial “you” shall not prevail. Soon the lyric assumes a spiritual quality: “As I rise above the treeline and the clouds, I look down/ Hearing the sound of the things you said today.”
The second verse’s personification of the idiot (“fearless”) and the magistrate (“merciless”) – as well as the subtle shifting of “you”s identity – makes apparent the song’s ‘us and them’ perspective. Such anti-establishment moral cartography would direct much of Floyd’s future work, but this was its first explicit usage. If Meddle is the album on which Pink Floyd arrived at a long-term post-Syd artistic identity, then Fearless defines that reinvention just as much as the more celebrated Echoes. Here begins the road to Wish You Were Here, albeit with even greater allusion, and restraint: Richard Wright seems barely apparent, until his brace of piano hammer-downs signal the idiot’s final ascent (or is it commemoration?), born aloft by the “sound of the faces in the crowd”. Infamously, its mass appeal was highlighted by excerpts of the Anfield Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone, a deeply effective tool, which only rendered its absence from setlists all the more bewildering. But cometh the time: in October 2016, 45 years after its creation and mere weeks before the fateful US presidential election, Roger Waters finally accorded Fearless due status, playing it just before Shine On You Crazy Diamond at the 2016 Desert Trip festival. Waters juxtaposed the song’s righteous invocation of people power with colossal backdrop images of war in Gaza and on America’s streets, and accompanying slogans: “If you are not angry, you are not paying attention.” Hardly subtle – but Fearless could take it. MOJO 79
avant-garde? And, after nearly 17 minutes of ambulatory improv, who cared? JM
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973) Too churchy for Antonioni – but perfect for Dark Side’s bleak majesty.
(from Wish You Were Here, 1975)
This ruminative, jazzy glide originated as a melody Wright penned for the soundtrack to Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, which the director rejected as “too sad – it makes me think of church.” The heavy, existential vibe of Dark Side, however, proved a perfect home for the piece, paired with a Waters lyric observing man’s inhumanity, and the futility of protest. Bleak stuff, though Dick Parry’s tenor sax and Gilmour and Wright’s heavenly harmonies made something blissful of its melancholy. SC
Weddings, birthdays, Ed bloody Sheeran at the Olympics – it’s singalongaPink. Even Floyd’s lone arms-around-the-world anthem is an awkward sod. There’s only one chorus (if indeed it is a chorus, as opposed to one long verse). It only gets going after a minute of clever clogs stuff, with the song heard incidentally on a radio. But it floors us, because the riff’s lulling tension leads to that inevitable crossroads of the soul, where green field meets cold rail, and lives can change. Years later, even Roger Waters admitted: “It still brings tears to my eyes… because we fail to make the connections that we ought to.” Wish You Were Here is about who you think it’s about – but it’s about everyone else too. KC
(from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967, and Relics, 1971) Think once, think twice… Perhaps Floyd’s most blatantly Cambridge moment. Syd gifts his latest squeeze his few worldly possessions (although not the titular twowheeler) over dustbin lid timpani and j y n outdo The Beatles (recording Sgt. Pepper next door) for invention with its “room of musical tunes” – a parting collage of oscillators, clocks, violins, gongs and a reversed loop of laughter uncannily redolent of Canada geese honking their way over King’s College. AC
(from Meddle, 1971) The pivot on which a remarkable career swings. This is where accusations that Pink Floyd sound cold and distant evaporate. Echoes, a side-long epic that marked the transition from underground soundscapers to progressive rock sophisticates, swells with passions both raw and spiritual. It starts out with submarine ‘pings’ and ends with howling winds. But it’s flesh and blood that makes this journey: melancholy Rick Wright and his chordal washes, Gilmour’s dexterity, Mason’s unifying groove and Waters’ tough bass and salvation-seeking language, realised with great tenderness by Wright and Gilmour. “It just rolls,” Wright told me. Effortlessly. MP
(from London ’66-67, 1995)
Space rock’s first flight: buckl nspired by a halfemembered melody hummed by co-manager Peter enner (was it Love’s My Little Red Book? Or the Steptoe & Son theme?) and originally recorded for Peter Whitehead s Tonite Let s All Make Love In London doc, this jam actually predates the skimpier, pan-heavy Piper take by over a month. Were they avant-gardists invigorated by the dynamic potential of rock’n’roll, or rock’n’rollers liberated by the protean possibilities of the
EMILY YOUNG inspired Syd’s See Emily Play – but only a bit, she insists. “It was 1966 and I was a 15-year-old beat, into French Existentialism and white lipstick, at Holland Park School. One day Hoppy [photographer and underground scenester John Hopkins] visited the school to invite us to the London Free School nearby in Powis Terrace, which provided various community activities. Being curious, I went along with my friend Anjelica [Huston, later an actress and memoirist]. I got quite involved, a teenager watching what cool people a lot older than me were doing; there was a lot of romantic discussion about the perfectibility of humankind, poetry, Blake, Zen Buddhism. On Friday night fundraisers at All Saints Hall, the regular band was The Pink Floyd Sound. I was more into R&B, so the dreamy hippy thing wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it was interesting. And the light show was wonderful, and I liked to get stoned and dance. After playing, we’d sit around on grubby sofas and pass around joints. I was quite pretty and word got out that I was a lord’s daughter, and apparently the guys in the band called me the ‘psychedelic schoolgirl’. In May 1967 I wasn’t at the concert [Games For May, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England], but someone said they’d played this song See Emily Play, and I thought, Gosh, that’s nice, a song with my name, but I didn’t think it was about me. And I don’t think it was now; Syd and me didn’t have a love affair and he didn’t really know me. I was an acceptable vision. It could have been some other girl who played a part in his dream. It could have been Anjelica, but Emily scanned better. Syd said the song was inspired by a dream, and I was interested in that, where the artistic impulse comes from – I am an artist. I think it was his anima, his feminine creative spirit, in trouble. He was taking a lot of acid at the time and I think he was in terrible danger; his creative spirit was about to die. I associate Syd with those wild creatures of the forest who are not necessarily nice, a Shakespearian ﬁgure like Puck or Ariel, and also Pan – if you get lost in his world, you can go mad. He was a magical poet but it was a tragic story.” As told to Mat Snow
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973) Basic bodily function celebrated in the ultimate stoner rock song. The Dark Side Of The Moon’s first proper song has Roger Waters’ lyrics exploring life’s uncertainties while the group seem to be playing through a Valium fug. And that’s the joy of Breathe: its wonderful lack of urgency. Gilmour’s measured vocal and keening pedal steel and Rick Wright’s Hammond glide gently over what sounds like Nick Mason playing the drums with one hand tied behind his back. “Run rabbit run,” declares Gilmour, sounding mildly energised. But, really, nobody’s running anywhere. MB
(single, 1967) Not just a strange hobby, but a strange debut. loyd’s first 45 underlined their imely mutation rom R&B try-outs to psychedelic ingénues, yet Syd’s subect for Arnold Layne’s dramatic whoosh and gleam was no lysergic vision, only a detached sketch of a clothes-stealing transvestite familiar with Mrs Barrett and Waters’ washing lines. Still, the realm of English eccentricity chimed with Syd’s, while Joe Boyd’s production – especially the fairground-queasy organ solo – radiated with the “moonshine” of Layne’s nocturnal locale. An audacious start. MA
(from The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973) Ding dong! The meaning of life… and that solo. Take up thy tennis racquet and wail! From its first live airing in early 1972 – far gentler than it would become six months later in the studio – Time was all about the guitar solo. Unleashed unusually early in the song’s development, it’s a sonic spectacular of overdriven, Binson-echoed full fuzz Stratocaster, yet is exquisitely measured and lyrical in its emotional amplification of Roger Waters’ lyrical message of how we are enslaved by our fearful regret over wasting precious lifetime. MS
Underground overground: (from left) Waters, Mason, Barrett and Wright illuminate Piccadilly Circus, 1967.
On May 12, 1967, Pink Floyd performed a show at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, billed as “space-age relaxation for the climax of Spring”. There were two debuts that night: Heath Robinson surround-sound machine, The Azimuth Co-ordinator, joystick-distorting time and space for the stoned masses, and a Syd Barrett song which played a similar trick. Sharing its name with the event, Games For May was the story of a girl called Emily, moving unsteadily through a landscape she can’t quite understand. See Emily Play, as Games For May quickly became, gathers all the playful trappings of London’s psychedelic scene around it: nursery imagery, vintage Victoriana, toy-box tricks. Released as Pink Floyd’s second single on June 16, it was a Top 10 hit and led to three Top Of The Pops appearances, but if it was more palatable to the powers-that-be than deviant predecessor Arnold Layne, See Emily Play was just as disturbing. Pink Floyd lore states that Barrett’s mental balance tipped permanently during its recording, but you don’t need that background to sense something is profoundly wrong here. Whatever’s happening to Emily in her shroudlike sacrificial “gown that touches the ground”, crying in a darkened wooded landscape full of strange noises (“aaah-oooo!”), it’s nothing good. Whoever she is – reportedly scene denizen Emily Young – she
is isolated, made an example of from the start. She “tries, but misunderstands” and is “often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams ’til tomorrow.” “See Emily play,” insists Barrett repeatedly, drawing out the words like a fey carnival barker, and while the line mimics the jolly syntax of a child’s reading book (“see Spot run!”) there is something queasily voyeuristic here. “Free games for May/See Emily play” – who is having fun here, and who is sport? It’s an unease that’s echoed in the tension between the intricate prettiness – the milky clink of Barrett’s china tea-set vowels, Richard Wright’s sped-up piano and electric harpsichord capering – and the martial beat of the drums and organ. Just as the song threatens to spin off into the blue, it’s slammed back down by the bassy clang before verses, forced to keep running. Having been told there is “no other day” – less carpe diem, more threat – Emily is ordered to “float on a river forever and ever”, not blissful suspended animation, but Ophelia-like oblivion. The times demanded child-like wonder and untethered freedom – free games for May! – but here, innocence is a doomed project from the start. In May 1967, Rogers Waters and Syd Barrett famously appeared on BBC1’s arts show Look Of The Week, where they were interrogated by Austrian musician Hans Keller, politely outraged by their punishing volume. “My verdict is, it’s a little bit of a regression to childhood,” Keller concluded, “but after all, why not?” The answer, if See Emily Play’s ruined trip backwards is any measure, is because it’s terrifying. MOJO 81
So here it is, the apogee, the pip, the Floydest of the Floyd, a song where nearly nine of its thirteen-something minutes pass before we hear a human voice. Because Wish You Were Here is an album partly about absence, in particular the absence of the Floyd’s founder member, Syd Barrett. Growing out of an improvisation, the full 26-minute work – or something close to it – was first heard live, as Shine On, during gigs in Paris and London in 1974. Though conceived as one continuous track in the tradition of Atom Heart Mother and Echoes, it was eventually chopped in two to bookend the follow-up to the most celebrated record of their career, The Dark Side Of The Moon. The sessions were slow and arduous – technical issues with a new studio desk meant they had to scrap Shine On’s hard-won backing track and start from scratch – the shadow of the hit was daunting, but under difficult circumstances they conjured the work that best defines them. The first two and a half minutes are given to one giant chord of G# played on synthesizer, organ and wine-glass rims (a leftover from the abandoned Household Objects project), transparent sheets of sound, slightly chilling, through which float Rick Wright’s 82 MOJO
(from Wish You Were Here, 1975)
Minimoog and some wind chimes. At 2:08 David Gilmour enters upon his Stratocaster, the tone control slightly rolled off, serving up a sort of appetiser solo to remind us that the Floyd were rooted in the blues. The chord finally, satisfyingly, changes at 2:23. Gilmour blows for another minute or so and then, at 3:54, after a lull, plays the four chiming notes – one for each member of the band – Bb, F, G, E, which had provided the starting point for the whole piece and which they came to call “Syd’s theme”. Both uplifting and unsettling, captured in the vast Abbey Road Studio 1, usually the location for orchestral sessions, to give it added breadth, it’s one of the most evocative musical phrases in rock. And it seems to say: “We are Pink Floyd… Here’s what we do… One of us left… This one’s for him.” Thus, at 4:30 the whole band kicks in. The theme is repeated more rapidly while Gilmour solos again, before Rick answers on his flutey Minimoog. At 7:34, just when you think someone might sing, there’s another, slightly more abrasive bluesy guitar solo. Finally, at 8:41, we hear the first voice. It’s Roger Waters: “Remember when you were young,” he begins. “You shone like the sun,” follow Rick and David together. Much of Waters’ work in the Floyd appears to pivot around two themes: rage at the fate of his soldier father, lost in the war with Germany, and what that meant to Roger himself; and bewilderment at the fate of Syd Barrett, lost in the war with pop music, its temptations and requirements, and what that made Waters and his band-
Ghosts in the machine: Pink Floyd recording Wish You Were Here at Abbey Road, 1975.
mates become. At this point, Waters is still processing the impact of The Dark Side Of The Moon. That album’s study of insanity under modern pressures was, consciously or otherwise, thinking about Syd. This album, in particular this song, addresses him directly, painting a picture of their founder, “the target for far away laughter” who “wore out his welcome with random precision”, in one of Waters’ most candid, moving lyrics. Hearing it for the first time, on the radio in the week of its release, I was taken aback by the tension of this opening gambit. As if playing on the anticipation for Dark Side 2, it seemed like they’d effectively compressed their monster hit album into one track, mirroring its scope, its musicality, its gospel crescendos. Indeed, I thought the last line Roger sang was: “Come on you piper, you painter, you prism and shine”. Waters was telling Syd that everything they do is refracted through him, that they couldn’t have done the one with the prism on the cover without him. Then I saw the lyric sheet and realised it was not “prism” but “prisoner”. The subject is trapped inside his condition. This is a blues once removed, then. Syd can no longer bewail his dilemma himself, so his former colleagues do it for him. Dick Parry’s smoky, British-
sounding baritone sax solo meanders like a punt full of promise down the Cam, circa 1965. The title is sung by joyful voices – the band augmented by Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams, The Blackberries – as if the Floyd, the public and, for good measure, a host of angels are all encouraging Syd to continue entertaining and enlightening them. However, this stirring entreaty is as futile, in its way, as saying “Give us a smile, Syd mate, it might never happen!” This beautiful work’s secret is that it was a river deep, mountain high exercise in wishful thinking. The legend goes that a bald, overweight, bewildered Syd, after six years’ absence from the group, wandered into Abbey Road, unrecognised, during sessions for this song, his song, stood at the back of the studio listening – while, bizarrely, poignantly, brushing his teeth – and then asked when he was strapping on his guitar. “Sorry Syd, the guitar’s all done,” said his bandmates, moved to tears. They knew then, by the time his song was ready to hear, that this particular crazy diamond had done all the shining he was ever going to do. MOJO 83
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YOUR GUIDE TO THE MONTH’S BEST MUSIC. EDITED BY JENNY BULLEY
ALBUMS s Natalie Prass is worth waiting for s Saved from himself: Father John Misty s Gruff Rhys’ Bethesda Babylon s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever hang tough s Jon Hassell goes fourth again s Plus, Kamasi Washington, Johnny Marr, Neko Case, Shannon Shaw, The Last Poets, Onyx Collective, Sleep, Janelle Monáe, Wilko Johnson and more.
102 REISSUES s Gene Clark in the wilderness s Bruce Springsteen’s vinyl box s Lost in Memphis with Zuider Zee s Plus, France Gall, Gussie Clark, Célia, Nina Simone, The Cure, Brian Eno, Evan Parker, The Supremes and more.
112 HOW TO BUY s The revolutionary sounds of Fela Kuti.
BOOKS s Bluff guy Robert Gordon’s new anthology s Plus, Billy Fury, two grime tomes, the inside word on Jeff Buckley and more.
116 LIVES s Yo La Tengo’s Dublin shake down s Leon Bridges rings the changes in London.
“Poignant and powerful, detailing the African-American experience and music as liberation.” LOIS WILSON READS ROBERT GORDON’S TALES FROM MEMPHIS. PAGE 114
RATINGS & FORMATS Your guide to the month’s best music is now even more definitive with our handy format guide. CD COMPACT DISC DL DOWNLOAD ST STREAMING LP VINYL MC CASSETTE DVD DIGITAL VIDEO DISC C IN CINEMAS BR BLU-RAY
★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ MOJO CLASSIC
DISAPPOINTING BEST AVOIDED DEPLORABLE
Let’s wait a while The Spacebomb singer’s righteous political funk and anti-Trump epics are brilliantly executed, says Stevie Chick. Illustration by Steve Rawlings.
★★★★ The Future And The Past ATO. CD/DL/LP
hough patience may not come naturally to her, the waiting game has served Natalie Prass well. She spent nine years on the periphery of the Nashville music scene, studying songwriting at nearby Middle Tennessee State University, scoring work as a session singer, and trying to realise her dream of making an album that fused Brill Building songwriting with a Motown/Stax sensibility. She flunked out on that last aim, until she left Nashville and reconnected with old school-friend Matthew E White, then pursuing similarly pie-in-the-sky dreams of starting a label, assembling a fearsome house band and cutting his own records of idiosyncratic, anachronistic soul. Together, they recorded an album of Prass’s songs, an early White project by his nascent Spacebomb operation, produced on spec in the hope some record label might license it. By the time Prass’s eponymous debut finally saw release in 2015 (following White’s own acclaimed breakthrough, Big Inner), it had spent three years gathering dust. While promoting the LP – a beguiling set that encompassed lissom Southern soul, cobwebby gothic country and one perfect sucker punch of lachrymose heartache, My Baby Don’t Understand Me – Prass revealed she’d already penned two albums’ worth of new material while waiting for it to come out. Her concerts, meanwhile, saw her leaven the pre-digital ’70s soul swelter of the Spacebomb aesthetic with a cover of Any Time, Any Place, a seamy slow jam from the youngest Jackson family member’s 1993 album, janet. – evidence of intriguing new influences Prass might add to the formula for the follow-up. Prass was scheduled to record that second album in the summer of 2016, before her best-laid plans unravelled and the sessions were postponed, and then postponed again. She finally entered the studio that December, by which time a contentious American election – and the tumult of resultant misogyny – left Prass heartsick and sure that new material would no longer be timely. She junked all but one of those songs (Nothing To Say), and visited White’s house every single day. “We would talk, and I would write,” Prass tells MOJO. “And it helped me sort through my feelings. It was therapeutic for me; I desperately needed it.”
KEY TRACKS ● ● ●
Sisters Ship Go Down Far From You
"BRISTLING FUNK AND DELIRIOUS SOUL, LIKE JAM & LEWIS GIVEN ARTISANAL REFITS."
This latest delay, which she now says “felt like fate”, turns out to be the making of The Future And The Past, a follow-up that strides decisively beyond the potentials sketched out by her debut. Engaging with our current dark epoch in a personal, ingenious way, it’s an album that’s cerebral and from the heart in the same moment, without any sense of contradiction. That Janet Jackson cover was no red herring. The music here pushes the Spacebomb sound out of its lush, Willie Mitchell-derived cul-de-sac and connects with a more modernist muse: Short Court Style, The Fire and Ain’t Nobody put that in-house group and their strings in the service of bristling funk and delirious soul, like Jam & Lewis productions given artisanal refits. The blissful Never Too Late feels like it slipped off side two of Jackson’s Control, with its staccato keyboard stabs, its angelic trilling synthesizers, a middle eight that fell from heaven, and Prass haunting the upper registers. Her vocal melodies swoop and soar with the poise and gymnastic skill of an Ameriie, though only ever for sake of the song, never just for show. The surface of The Future And The Past is impressive, then, but the substance is sublime, her lyrics sophisticated and skilful. Far From You rewrites The Carpenters’ breakthrough hit to eulogise Karen, whose pristine soulfulness Prass often evokes (“Why do birds suddenly disappear/Instead of singing here?” is another of her devastating couplets). Elsewhere, Prass delivers hymns to persistence in the face of darkness, evading polemic in favour of the poetic, and all the more powerful for that. Sisters is as explicit as the message gets, possessed of a righteous enough slink that it could be the work of Erykah Badu, a post-#MeToo anthem, the chorus calling to the “nasty women” (another Janet callback) to “keep your sisters close”, the verses taking aim at the gender pay gap, sexual harassment and domestic abuse. Hot For The Mountain expands on the theme – with an infectious chorus of “We’ll take you on/We can take you all” – while widening the album’s musical canvas: eerie Eastern melodies, strings lifted from Kashmir, melting piano chords. It’s a dry run for the album’s true masterpiece, Ship Go Down, six-minutes of lopsided metre, jazzy exploration, and an orchestra rumbling like a distant storm. Prass’s vocals obey their own errant rhythms throughout, playful like vocalese but carrying her heaviest lyric on the album: part-elegy/part-warning of a disaster in progress, a nation sinking under its own folly, a “wolf in wolf’s clothing” at the helm. Its wild, bleakly beautiful psych-Tropicália climax evokes the darkest of raptures. The track is masterful, recalling imperial-era Joni Mitchell (though more in the spirit of her ambition and ability, her refusal to be tethered to any songwriting orthodoxy, than sound), its bite anchoring the relative sweetness of the rest of the album. Indeed, in both modes (and in its sense of balance), The Future And The Past is a triumph, a coming-of-age that over-delivers on all Prass promised, and suggests limitless skies in answer to where she might go next. However long it takes, on this evidence it will be worth the wait. TENNESSEAN SINGER ON SIBLING NATALIE TALKS! THE POP STARS, TEARS AND TRUMP.
Natalie Prass: from therapy to carpentry.
★★★★ The Sciences THIRD MAN. CD/DL/LP
Doom-metal originato first new full-length al in 20 years.
“People thought that I was insane.” Natalie Prass speaks to Stevie Chick. Before you started working with Matthew E. White, you were working in Nashville. Were they fruitful years? “Nashville whipped me into shape as far as my songwriting chops, my singing, learning guitar and just being completely immersed in the business. But I didn’t have any money, and when I told people I wanted to make, like, a Dionne Warwick-style record, people thought I was insane, because that was not ‘cool’.” You wrote two albums’ worth of songs during the delay between recording your debut and its release. Are those the songs we hear on The Future And The Past? “I’d planned to record this album in June 2016, but the sessions got pushed to December. By then the election had happened, and I scrapped those songs and started from scratch. I wanted to talk about all the stuff that was going on, it seemed so much more important than my relationship problems or whatever (laughs). I want to contribute to the conversation. It was extremely therapeutic for me, because I was literally on the verge of tears for months, like, any time anybody mentioned Trump I would just start crying.” Far From You references The Carpenters. Is Karen Carpenter an influence? “Oh, big time. I’ve always gotten people saying that I look like her, since I was a little kid. I became totally fascinated by her. You can hear her personality in her voice, she just really draws you in with her delivery and her spirit. People focus on the way she died, but I wanted to write a tribute to her as a kind soul, a really talented drummer, a skilled musician… Just somebody I think was a real light within all of the darkness that the music could be, and I think it’s tragic that the darkness overtook her and brought her down.” A couple of the songs – Hot For The Mountain and Ship Go Down – make ambitious breaks from the pop format. “Those two songs show my more experimental side. I love classic songwriting, I love the typical ‘verse, prechorus, chorus’ thing, but it’s really fun to still have a structure, but have it be a little more adventurous. With Ship Go Down, I told the band that I wanted it to build into a kind of chaotic, Tropicália freakout at the end. I think they nailed it!” It’s a cathartic moment. Is it one of the more political songs on the album? “Yeah (laughs). On that one, I definitely tapped into my anger.”
This San Jose stoner triumvirate, whose 63-minute one-track masterpiece Dopesmoker was refused release by London Records in ’98, and only came out in its definitive form on Southern Lord in 2012, dropped this comeback record unannounced, with minimum fuss, on 20 April – aka 4/20, as in International Weed Day. After splitting up in disillusion over the London affair, Al Cisneros’s crew reconvened in 2009 for sporadic activity, and have customarily not rushed into nailing The Sciences, nor departed from their rubric of Burroughsian ganja mythspinning (see Marijuanaut’s Theme; The Botanist), set to eardrum-busting, down-tuned slo-mo jams. Of the three monolithic pieces that thunder past the 10-minute mark, live staple Sonic Titan’s the pick, its circling, amps-overdriven insistence sufficient to induce paralysis even in a noninhaling person, and thus fully warranting its title. The pyramids-evoking Giza Butler should also press any Sabbath buff’s buttons. Andrew Perry
★★★ Dirty Computer BAD BOY/ATLANTIC. CD/DL/LP
Monáe's third is more simulation than salvat
towards the difficulties of loving as a black, queer woman in today's America are cautious. She repeatedly refers to her inability to express her emotions fully – which is exactly how Dirty Computer leaves you feeling. Laura Snapes
★★★ Hell-On ANTI. CD/DL/LP
Rock and country sing philosophical for eigh long-player.
On Hell-On’s opening title track, Case defines divinity as capricious as “a lusty tyre fire,” fuelled by “rock, paper, scissors rage”. A few songs later, on Bad Luck, she questions her own erratic nature: “My heart could break for a one-legged seagull, and still afford nothing to you?” Images both earthy and heavenly make repeated showings, but Case’s vexing concern is troubled humans. On My Uncle’s Navy, she’s traumatised by a relation who tears the heads from snakes, yet notes, “Bullies are not born, they are pressed into form.” Several songs function nearly as spoken word (a pity for we who love Case’s belting melodies). That’s true for Curse Of The I-5 Corridor, though its chorus is classic country: “Baby I’m afraid… maybe I should go home alone tonight.” The dreadfilled music that follows suggests she doesn’t. Perhaps ambivalence is our most godly characteristic. Chris Nelson
For a decade Tom Rush Janelle Monáe has stood on pop’s Voices periphery, APPLESEED. CD/DL/LP creating Greenwich Village folk spectacular statements legend finds his mojo. but never troubling the mainstream. Her android Renowned as hauteur was admirable, yet an outstanding impenetrable. Dirty Computer guitarist, a fine is presented as a coming-out: bluesy singer significantly sexier and and renowned poppier than before, it scans champion of as a grab for the mainstream other songwriters (he covered and personal liberation l J i Mit h ll J Both come off hap There are revelato she raps on Djang chin-forward over treacly backing; M Feel is a brazen ho to mentor Prince t brims with Monáe of her sexual powe vulnerable sensua Don’t Judge Me su the incessant “sexprotestations elsew less so. It lacks mu coherence – off-ki psychedelia (So Af meets anaemic po (Screwed) – and a Neko Case: coherent manifest expert on Monáe's gestures infernal affairs.
Taylor and Jackson Browne), at the age of 77, Tom Rush belatedly appears to have mastered the art of songwriting himself. Apart from No Regrets – a major hit for The Walker Brothers – Rush’s previous songwriting output has been sparse; but, nine years after his previous album What I Know, this is his first of almost entirely original material (there is a pleasingly relaxed reading of Corina Corina). None of these new songs will stop the traffic, but it is a very warm, understated collection, conveying the reassurance of old-time Nashville, reminiscent of a smiley, weather-beaten Willie Nelson. A top-notch supporting cast, including the great Sam Bush on mandolin and fiddle, Al Perkins on Dobro and pedal steel, and Matt Nakoa on keyboards, maintain pace and keep the spirit strictly feel-good. Colin Irwin
★★★★ Call The Comet WARNER BROS. CD/DL/LP
Third album under the Marr solo marque channels the Trump-era Zeitgeist. Spread between 2013’s The Messenger and 2014’s Playland there was enough material for a single killer record, the ex-Smith playing to his strengths with jagged, postpunk explorations and dreamy soundscapes, all topped by an unexpectedly warm Manc voice pitched somewhere twixt old foils Morrissey and Bernard Sumner. Call The Comet excavates similarly layered ’80s sounds, this time with mucho geopolitics and echoes of Sisters Of Mercy and – somewhat ironically considering a school-age Billy Duffy taught him the di t f it The Cult. ops rock ines: aunting film ure, ng Hans cinematic e Smiths’ cheekily ractor chanised beats. t’s all angle of e – ever achable. Pat Gilbert
People Are My Drug
NEW WEST. CD/DL/LP
PSYCHIC HOTLINE. CD/DL/LP
R.E.M. guitarist teams up with Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter.
North Carolina mainstay finds salvation in his musical community.
Pals for decades, Arthur and Buck hothoused this record with a raft of songs hatched spontaneously at Buck’s pad in Baja California, Mexico. Theirs is a useful symbiosis, Arthur bringing lead vocals plus speed and agility in the production chair, and Buck bringing that big name clout that will get the duo’s eponymous debut heard. Breezy Zen opener I Am The Moment sets the tone for an album in free-fall – melodies, lyrics and arrangements all happening with minimum interference from each party’s internal editor. With its electric sitar and rich Arthur baritone, beat-box propelled strummer Forever Falling is an obvious stand-out, while quirky protest song American Century has real pep. The duo’s valiant attempt to circumvent the buzz-kill of pre-meditation can only take them so far, however, and Arthur Buck is not without the odd dud. James McNair
Cook’s voluminous CV includes various projects with Justin Vernon, a key role in Hiss Golden Messenger, and his own experimental indie-rock band, Megafaun. This second solo album, though, most betrays his time spent working with the Blind Boys Of Alabama, steering as it does Cook’s virtuoso folk-soul towards gospel revelations. There’s a note of ambiguity in placing Randy Newman’s He Gives Us All His Love alongside more straightforward declarations of faith like a full-blooded take on The Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi’s Tide Of Life. But Cook’s belief in the transporting power of music, and the consolations of a musical community – HGM’s MC Taylor contributes one song, and Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath shares vocals and songwriting on another – are infectious. A version of Allen Toussaint’s Life rounds things off, with brass band and rowdy massed voices; the perfect encapsulation of a generous, rousing musical vision. John Mulvey
★★★★ The Alligator Bride SILVER CURRENT. CD/DL/LP
Californian hairies stri gold on their fifth LP. It ain’t what Ethan Miller does, it’s the way that he does it. His Comets On Fire achieved cosmic majesty by hotwiring space-rock and setting controls for the sun; Howlin’ Rain’s more classic strain of rock, meanwhile, is played with such earnest power, such gleeful flair, all cliché burns up on re-entry. Their fifth full-length is Southern-fried and steeped in the ‘70s, but the references aren’t mere sleeve-decoration – they’re tattooed across Howlin’ Rain’s bountiful hearts. Borne aloft by the strangled bottleneck passion of guitarists Miller and Daniel Cervantes, played with the soulfulness of Creedence and grounded by the romance of poetic story-telling, Miller spins Springsteen-esque portraits of druggy West Coast misfits and ne’er-do-wells. It’s an album of sublime crescendos and melodies like warm embraces, and with an elegiac closer, Coming Down, locating gospel beauty within the Hendrixian nirvana. So joyful, so tender, so warmly anthemic, its vintage moves are timeless, and irresistible. Stevie Chick
It’s hymn again: Father John Misty waits to be served.
His dark materials After Pure Comedy’s stateof-humanity address, Josh Tillman has another go at removing the plank from his own eye. By Victoria Segal.
Father John Misty
Songs Of The Saxophones FULL TIME HOBBY. CD/DL/LP
An aura of dark reflect defines American atmosphericists’ debu Songs Of The Saxophones raises the question of whether interest can be sustained over a whole album when a chosen approach is stuck to rigidly. The album’s 10 songs feature distant, watery guitar, a defeated male vocal, heartbeat percussion and otherworldly colour from flute, vibes and, indeed, saxophone. The case is made by formulating a hermetic sound-world which inexorably reels the listener further and further in. The core members are American husband and wife Alexi Erenkov and Alison Alderdice: the former was studying jazz but grew frustrated with its lack of emotion and limited audience, so decided on a change of tack. The mood conjured here is of closed doors and darkened rooms. “I’m a failure,” sings Erenkov on centrepiece track Just Give Up. David Lynch will swoon when he hears this exercise in etiolation. Kieron Tyler
God’s Favorite Customer BELLA UNION. CD/DL/LP
EVEN A listener with a pause button can be exhausted by Josh Tillman: the on-stage rants, the controversial interviews, the wind-ups, the music. No wonder, then, that the complicated singer-songwriter also sounds a little tired on his fourth album as Father John Misty. 2015’s uxorious I Love You, Honeybear was an elaborate confection of self-loathing, self-regard and selfrevelation, a cake he decisively had and ate; last spring’s Pure Comedy widened its scope, human history filtered through his apocalyptic worldview. By comparison, God’s Favorite Customer seems almost subdued, the lurid sleeve cartoons of Pure Comedy replaced by a moody portrait of Tillman, his favourite subject of all. Inspired by a rough patch – living in a hotel, heartbreak, hedonism – these songs feel less slippery, free from garish lyrics about Taylor Swift (although Jason Isbell is namechecked) or triggers for Twitter rows about authenticity. There is, however, restraint; it’s lush, but not every line tries to spit out a diamond. “Put yourself in my shoes,” Tillman sings, or “I’m in over my head” – familiar, threadbare phrases, hard to hide behind. The Palace’s Judee Sill swell is a particularly delicate, lightheaded account of separation,
housekeeping and room service no match for a home, while the title track falls into old habits: God a kind of barman, Tillman as “trouble”. When he does get flash – “pointless benders with reptilian strangers” on Please Don’t Die’s country billow – the wordplay jars. Yet God’s Favorite Customer isn’t merely a more boring Father John Misty record, despite some in-his-sleep AOR balladry. The Stooges-spite of Date Night seems like a blog-age update of Pavement’s Range Life, while the stormy drums of Hangout At The Gallows push towards the prog light. He plays his old self-referential games on Mr Tillman, a dialogue between an unravelling, paranoid singer and a concerned hotel receptionist over a bittersweet Elliott Smith roll. There’s more reflection on The Songwriter, where Tillman imagines swapping jobs with his partner. “Would you undress me repeatedly in public/To show how very noble and naked you could be?” he asks, over quiet piano, adding selfflagellation to the thought experiment. Over 10 songs, however, things soften – not with I Love You, Honeybear sentiment, but with a pragmatism closer to Pure Comedy’s bleak resignation. The lingering ELO embrace of Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All uses perfectly unromantic imagery to suggest enduring love: “Like a carcass left out in the heat/This love is bursting out of me,” he sings. We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That), meanwhile, suggests that as you age, “company gets pretty thin” so “why not me, why not you, why not now?” It’s a very good question. After the bilious visions of Pure Comedy, God’s Favorite Customer can feel like running emotional epairs, a holding pattern, emporary accommodation. For an artist who is often oo much, however, it is ust enough.
The Last Poets
Understand What Black Is
MEXICAN SUMMER. CD/DL/LP
The incredible journey Pat Gilbert takes a mini-break in the erstwhile Super Furry Animal’s latest vision.
★★★★ Babelsberg ROUGH TRADE. CD/DL/LP
AS BEFITS a man for whom the words ‘singular’ and eccentric’ may have been minted, Gruff Rhys’s post-Super Furry Animals career has taken him to some truly weird and wonderful places. First there was Neon Neon, his ’80s electro-pop project conducted on-stage from a chair; more recently the immersive multi-sensual theatre experience (with app) of his Candylion album, and American Interior, for which Rhys followed in the footsteps of distant ancestor John Evans in search of a lost, Welsh-speaking tribe in Missouri. Now, in 2018, he’s arrived in Babelsberg – in real life the name of the film studio near Berlin, but in the Welshman’s fervent imagination a new Babylon on the brink of apocalypse, dominated by an evil Trump Tower-style edifice. With typical perversity, however, the musical soundtrack to this disturbed über-reality isn’t dark and futuristic; instead, it’s a 10-song trip of charmingly
bonkers ’60s-stye orchestral pop, in which Rhys restates himself as a kind of Welsh Lee Hazlewood, corny and suave on the outside, really quite odd on the inside. Curiously, Babelsberg’s most overtly political tracks – Architecture Of Amnesia, Drones In The City, Negative Vibes – were written before the EU referendum and Trump’s victory, the album’s vocals and backing tracks recorded in 2016 in a threeday binge at producer Ali Chant’s soon-tobe-knocked-down Toybox studio in Bristol. It was another 18 months before the orchestral score, by award-winning composer Stephen McNeff, was recorded by the National Orchestra Of Wales, and final mixing completed in the Californian desert. The opener, Frontier Man, with its lush string arrangements, bouncy countrypop groove and duet with 9Bach vocalist Lisa Jen, sets the tone: Nancy & Lee cruising down the M4 on a balmy summer’s day. Lyrically, as ever, much of the record is joyously unfathomable, whether Rhys is singing about being thrown to hammerhead sharks, coughing up blood on an American tour, hovercraft, or solar systems’ transactions in the sky. The music, though, is nothing but warm and inviting, often borrowing familiar melodies – from Gorillaz, Crosby, Stills & Nash, ELO – and reaching its seductive apotheosis in delightful closer Selfies In The Sunset, featuring a duet with modelurned-actress Lily Cole. Babelsberg is, without doubt, one of the finest expressions so far of Rhys’s alent – and the perfect destination for this year’s summer break.
Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy With The Gift Band
Hip-hop progenitors’ album in 21 years. The Last Poets’ prophetic 1970 debut was hip-hop in all but name. Flamed into being by visionary Hendrix producer Alan Douglas, the militant, spark-flying spoken words of Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole and Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin woke a generation. While the fractured trio’s various post‘80s comebacks have been somewhat less seismic, this vital, vintage-sounding hookup with dusty jazz fiend Ben Lamdin and reggae producer Prince Fatty – packed with wilding horns and lurching bass – bridles with unwearied defiance on How Many Bullets, The Music and She Is. The 10-minute Rain Of Terror stands out, Oyewole’s gloriously chewy voice backing up his repeated charge of “America’s a terrorist” with impassioned gravitas. If this is their valedictory offering – their combined age is 214! – they exit, opportunely, with a firecracker. Andy Cowan
★★★ Blow Your Mind
Mother and daughter on Waits, Weill and Ki
STUDIO ROCKERS. LP/CD/DL
Given Norma Waterson’s health problems, nobody would have blamed her for playing safe with this follow-up to 2010’s Gift. But that’s not the way of Norma or daughter Eliza Carthy, who’s always up for pushing the envelope that bit further. The result is a boldly fresh album that veers between lithe wit, sinister landscapes, big choruses and coolly adventurous instrumental arrangements to embrace the dark beauty of Michael Marra’s The Beast, Tom Waits’ haunting Strange Weather, Eric Idle’s knockabout Galaxy Song, Nick Lowe’s The Beast In Me and even a Martin Carthy re-make of his greatest hit, Scarborough Fair. The Waterson voice has recovered miraculously, and Eliza’s characteristic ebullience both on voice and fiddle is irresistible; but producers Neill MacColl and Kate St John also deserve credit for the constantly intriguing context that takes it stratospheres beyond the conventional confines of folk music. Colin Irwin
R&B guitar maestro’s ongoing modern medi defying comeback.
Any new music from Wilko Johnson still seems like a miracle in light of his recovery from what was presumed to be a terminal illness. The follow-up to 2014’s Roger Daltrey collaboration Going Back Home, is also Johnson’s first solo album in 30 years. The events of recent times have inspired some unusually philosophical lyrics – “Feels so good/ Deep down in my misery…” – he sings on Marijuana. But musically Johnson adheres to a policy of If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. His karate-chopping fills on Beauty and That’s The Way I Love You are straight off Dr. Feelgood’s Down By The Jetty. But there are enough off-kilter moments to stop complacency setting in: notably Low Down’s splicing of spoken-word poetry with surly, slow blues. The closing instrumental Slamming, with its Nicky Hopkins-alike piano run, evokes The Who’s The Ox, and sounds like Johnson revelling in the sheer joy of not just making music, but simply being alive. Mark Blake
Animal magnetism: Gruff Rhys has a pause for reflection.
A third dispatch of he and heart wisdom fro LA-based Texan. “Tell me everything you think you know about consciousness?” asks Jess Williamson amid the baroque folk swell of I See The White, the song that sets out her third album’s preoccupation with dreams, visions and self-examination. With a feel for the great West Coast darkside albums of the ‘70s (Gene Clark’s No Other, Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue) Williamson outlines her personal mythology; as a lover, a daughter and, by the closing Piano Love, a future mother, via songs sung in a resonant, often Patti Smithlike voice, over a heat haze backing of Rhodes piano and guitar. The mood oscillates between sun-baked romantic reverie and mournful introspection. The title references Jungian analysis, and if that suggests cod-psychedelics, or worse, dry academics, then be assured, the magic here is real. Jenny Bulley
★★★★ Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol.1 PRAH RECORDINGS. CD/DL/LP
Canonical ambient wo sublimely re-arranged the titular instrument Welsh multiinstrumentalists Stephen Black and Paul Jones met at music college, only to go their separate ways, the former recording as Sweet Baboo, the latter as an avantgarde jazzer. Reuniting over a mutual love for hard-to-classify reflective music, they set about reprising some of their favourite pieces as a largely analogue duo. The resulting album inhabits a wonderfully hazy space between ambient immersion and new age tranquillity, previously staked out by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Virginia Astley, the paredback instrumentation, occasionally abetted by drum machines, kalimbas and Space Echo. As such, serene minimalist benchmarks like Roedelius’s Wenn Der Südwind Weht or Eno’s Julie With are parsed to an exquisite essence, while Arthur Russell’s A Little Lost is recast as thing of gently surging, beguiling poignancy. David Sheppard
★★★★ Je Suis Une Île HEAVENLY. CD/DL/LP
All Maud cons – Escher inspired psych from Fr
“Sometimes,” says Maud Nadal, “things make sense when you put them in reverse.” The debut outing by this Auvergne-raised pal of Melody’s Echo Chamber and Aquaserge creates its own world of warped logic, each of its sides unable to exist without the other. Issues raised in one
lyric will be answered in another; the misplaced optimism of opener Wherever supplanted by the cheery closing of a chapter in Des Bras; and backwards vocal samples on the title track suggest that – using one of Hollywood’s finest clichés – Maud, a perfectly sweet and pleasant young woman, made this album in tandem with the malevolent Maud who only comes out at night. Keyboard-driven dream-pop with chiming guitars that give the air of post-Cocteaus psychedelia, Nadal’s chosen oeuvre couldn’t be more ‘now’: file under ‘yet another reason why French women rule music in 2018’. David Hutcheon
★★★★ Childqueen FAT POSSUM. CD/DL/LP
From LA, a stunning ps soul odyssey, the follo to 2016’s debut The Vis Blazing along musical roads less travelled, Bonet taps soul, torch song, psych and vocal jazz, to the point where Morgana King and Minnie Riperton with Rotary Connection meet Judy Henske circa Farewell Aldebaran. Conceptually, Bonet’s second album also harks back – to the state of innocence, before adulthood spoils the party. A child prodigy on viola, flute and guitar, the adult Bonet has self-written, played, produced and engineered Childqueen, lending context to the title track’s lyric: “What’s the matter, don’t you got a man/To tell you what you’re worth to him?” But Bonet is still hopeful (Procession: “Every morning brings the chance to renew”), and bliss is her default setting, through dabs of sunshine pop (Thoughts Around Tea), silken funk (Mother Maybe) and Delphine’s stoned soul picnic. A record out of time, and, in terms of quality, out of this world. Martin Aston
★★★★ Cloud Corner THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
The Oregon-based gui goes deep and heavy Thrill Jockey debut.
For the past 13 years Marisa Anderson has been engaged in gentle acts of musical subversion, taking elements of traditional American music, from folk to gospel to western movie scores, and quietly unpicking and rearranging them for electric guitar. The exercise was most overt on 2013’s Traditional And Public Domain Songs but even 2016’s gorgeous Into The Light played like the soundtrack to an antiwestern, with bold action replaced by quiet desert contemplation. For Cloud Corner Anderson has further incorporated the Tuareg styles of Mdou Moctar, Kildjate Moussa Albadé, and Ahmoudou Madassane into her music. Played on the Andean charango and Mexican requinto jarocho as well as her usual range of electric guitars, Anderson’s playing is simultaneously muscular and relaxed, defiant and heartfelt, a new nomadic American music for her own troubled times. Andrew Male
★★★★ The One That Touched The Sky
★★★★ Cargo IHM. CD/DL/LP
Tangerine Dream, yesterday and today. IF ANYONE knows how to pastiche an ’80s Tangerine Dream soundtrack it’s Thorsten Quaeschning of Picture Palace Music, who in 2005 became a full-time member of Tangerine Dream. For this score to Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke’s Antipodean zombie apocalypse drama, he gets everything right: the pulsing and fizzing electronics, the incidental melancholy drones, the subterranean clangs and, with the help of a cello/viola/violin string trio, moments of bleak, gliding Michael Nyman-esque beauty. If you need to check the veracity, listen next to the smashing reissue of Tangerine Dream’s gorgeous, elegiac 1989 score to Steve De Jarnatt’s end-of-the-world rom-com Miracle Mile (Fire Records), where Edgar Froese and Paul Haslinger simultaneously nod to John Carpenter’s synth minimalism, Popol Vuh’s electronic choirs, Moroder’s digital Euro-pop and their own kosmische past.
TULUUM SHIMMERING. CD-R/DL
A one-man psychedeli freakout. Soft, strong and very long.
Thanks to its accessibility for DIY artists, the website bandcamp. com has become quite the psychedelic ecosystem; a place where home-studio explorers can easily place huge tranches of music. Such an outlier is Tuluum Shimmering, a UK artist who has stealthily released over 50 albums, many on cassette and CD-R, with 30 currently available on Bandcamp. This latest is a glorious introduction to his world; a 102-minute jam that involves the relentless looping of layer upon year of instrumentation. It begins rustically, like the work of a freak-folk commune in ‘70s Finland, or a correspondingly mystical Japanese troupe like Taj Mahal Travellers. The last half-hour is particularly elevating, though, mixing as it does the harmonium-heavy vibes of Indian raga with what may be a kora, and finding resolution as a kind of insistent panglobal kin to Terry Riley’s In C. Halo Maud: John Mulvey she’s an island, allegedly.
Serge Gainsbourg & Michel Colombier
Richard Hawley & Ollie Trevers
CADIZ MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Originally only released as a 7” featuring the astonishing Requiem Pour Un Con and sitar groove-out Psychastenie, now Gainsbourg and Vannier’s score to George Lautner’s groovy 1968 noir policier is available as a full LP, which means some smoky keyboard instrumentals and two bonus wig-outs from William Klein’s Mr Freedom soundtrack.
Those who long for that melancholy haunted fairground sound of early Richard Hawley should track this down as it contains a number of wonderfully hushed and downbeat Hawley miniatures, alongside a series of tiny accordion-and-guitar instrumentals. Just remember to skip the X Factor blustering of co-contributor, Ollie Trevers.
The Friends Of Eddie Coyle
You Were Never Really Here
LAKESHORE/RED. CD DL LP
One of the great overlooked ‘70s funk soundtracks, Grusin using a crack team of LA sessioneers (Tom Scott, Bud Shank, Larry Bunker, Joe Porcaro, Emil Richards) to add a backdrop of larcenous street-hustle to Peter Yates’ super-bleak George V. Higgins adaptation. The David Toop linernotes are an added bonus.
Another month, another knockout Jonny Greenwood score, this time an experiment in terror with Greenwood using brutal Ligeti string drones, musique concrète, fat ’80s doom synths and gamelan percussion to add even more levels of tension to Lynne Ramsay’s stunning adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ modern noir novella. AM
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: a thunder from Down Under.
The big country Australia’s latest guitar-slingers uphold a rich Antipodean pop heritage. By Keith Cameron.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
★★★★ Hope Downs SUB POP. CD/DL/LP
MOST BANDS either grow into their names over time, or transcend them. In the case of this Melbourne quintet, however, their unabbreviated banner fits very well from the get-go: ‘Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’ hints at
the disturbance and the overload, as well as the elemental beauty that’s embedded in this Melbourne quintet’s self-styled “tough pop” sound. Built from a propulsive rhythm section and sprung on triple guitars that explode in spiralised patterns rather than merely jangle, these songs often deal in high emotional currency. Always, though, a laconic gaze keeps matters grounded in everyday grit. “Do you feel it all that much, do you really think it matters?” wonders Fran Keaney, amid the hurtling Feeliesworthy Time In Common, before adding: “I tell you, I do.” This is Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s full-length debut, following two EP-cum-mini-albums. Hope Downs has the virtues of both with more agitation than either, and sees the three guitarplaying singers combine as one mutually self-
non-conformity. Elsewhere, the ever-perilous terrain of snail-pace beats-per-minute is masterfully traversed on aching devotional It’s Always Been You, while the album’s Lennon-like title track pledges humanitarian ideals. It’s still raining in Ray’s heart, but this is radiant stuff. James McNair
Part Of The Light
New Hampshire native selfproduces and reins in the psych of 2016’s Ouroboros. There’s often a maudlin tenderness to LaMontagne’s best songs, but his name is Ray and he is, ipso facto, a part of the light. Album seven’s opener To The Sea even finds him in rare whimsical mood, its ‘60s Simon & Garfunkel tropes and detailed loversday-out story recalling Paul Simon at his most playful. Quality control remains high throughout here: hence Such A Simple Thing is a country ballad of unfussy classicism, and the soaring Paper Man – “I won’t live like a paper man/ Step into line joined at the hand” – is a fine anthem to
Shaw, the rest arose from woodshedding sessions with the band. All are ballads and their arrangements are lavish, with dramatic strings and sweet girl-group backing vocals. Golden Frames best shows off the devastating force of Shaw’s scream; Broke My Own has her playing out her torch-singer fantasies. Throughout, she oozes charisma, sophistication and soul. Lois Wilson
Shannon In Nashville NONESUCH. CD/DL/LP
Debut solo LP from Clams singer, hot on the heels of her group’s fifth album. Impressed by Shannon Shaw’s gutbucket vocal power, Dan Auerbach suggested she record a Dusty In Memphis-style solo album with Auerbach’s house band, two of whom had been in the Memphis Boys, who backed Dusty on that original outing. Like Dusty, Shaw suffers from insecurity and self-doubt. Like Dusty also, that gives her performances an emotional intensity and edge. Of the 13 songs here, six are written by
supportive entity, in the spirit of arguably their country’s greatest pop band, The Go-Betweens, whose DNA at times feels baked into these beautifully framed courtship glimpses, like the yearning How Long? and bittersweet Sister’s Jeans (“I saw you falling down along Sydney Road”), or the deceptively throwaway Cappuccino City (“Coffee is cold/ Service is shitty”). Fran Keaney is the acoustic guy but feels like the quiet power: alongside Tom Russo, he provides lyrics for eight out of 10 of these glinting nuggets. Keaney’s cousin Joe White is the minority songwriter but deals the wildest leads, and with pinpoint clarity – distortion is deployed just once, on Exclusive Grave, to great effect. When he lets rip on Russo’s standout Mainland it’s like uncovering a mythical extended take of Primal Scream’s Velocity Girl. Indeed, there’s such a pronounced post-VU ’80s classicism to Rolling Blackouts C.F. that n a previous era would have seen hem the subject of a bloody bidding war between Alan McGee and Geoff Travis. See also the palpable influence of New Zealand pop touchstones The Chills and The Clean: White’s Bellarine is a thunderous new-build on the latter’s Point That Thing Somewhere Else, while Time In Common fuses both bands’ drollery and riptide melodies ina breathless embrace. Titling your debut album after a vast iron ore mine in the arid wilderness of Western Australia suggests a sensitivity to this island continent’s troubled history, its conflicted present and unwritten future. Ultimately, the record triumphs via Rolling Blackouts’ deep inhabitation of their music, and the space of its creation. As Joe White sings on Talking Straight, “I wanna know where the silence comes from.” You don’t need to have shivered on the Bellarine peninsula waterfront, or got lost down Sydney Road, to understand what he means. Hope Downs is where the heart is.
echoed vocal a second guess. The chorus of I’ve Been Fine talks itself in circles. “Why can’t you be next to me?” Wayman asks insistently, but the murky music behind – provided by Wayman, who handles bass, guitar, synth and beats herself – reveals conflict in her longing. Later, the question is subsumed by sound, no resolution in sight. Dram evokes the woozy days of new infatuation with skittering noise and disorienting vocals, eventually finding stability in a psychgarage guitar solo. While the soundscapes offer subtle rewards, lyrics’ emotional perseverance takes a toll. On The Dream, she yearns for peace: “Wish I could be quiet for one little minute and stop with all the thinking.” Wise words for moving forward. Chris Nelson
★★★ LoveLaws CAROLINE. CD/DL/LP
Trip-hoppy solo album from Warpaint guitarist and singer under the TT moniker. Theresa Wayman cut LoveLaws in large part at home; it sounds like she recorded it entirely in her head, every
★★★ Rare Feeling BB*ISLAND. CD/DL/LP
Americana sideman’s belated bid for just desserts. In Rare Feeling’s sleevenotes, Mat ‘Mt’ Davidson recalls his first home (garage) studio and
subsequent attempts to recreate the “golden stillness” he found there. Few know of the first five Twain albums, all self-released while Davidson was serving elsewhere (including with The Low Anthem), shackled by depression. Perhaps the “rare feeling” is that of being supported – he’s finally got label distribution – but if Rare Feeling is a burnished version of his scuffed Americana, Davidson has also scaled back to a gorgeous, lean ‘folk-andwestern’, through which he croons like a male Angel Olsen. Golden and still, indeed – and almost shocking in the virtual absence of the maudlin tendencies that typify this genre. ‘What I’ve got doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s enough for me,’ might be the rare feeling he’s espousing, and he’s wearing it very well. Martin Aston
Imagine an Americanised version of John Cale’s Paris 1919, a sublime slice of cultural, historical realism from one man’s unfettered imagination. Martin Aston
★★★ Not Too Far Away
★★★★ Remain In Light KRAVENWORKS. CD/DL/LP
Bringing Byrne and co back home to Benin. Much was made of Talking Heads’ immersion in African music in 1980, yet their ‘African’ album, Remain In Light is notably lacking in sounds plundered from their Fela Kuti tapes. So this remodelling by the Dahomey-born Kidjo is a ‘What if …?’, with the singer claiming she is “bringing it back to Africa” while substituting Eno, Nona Hendryx and Adrian Belew for Jeff Bhasker, Ezra Koenig and Tony Allen. The most fun comes, unsurprisingly, on the funkier first side, with Crosseyed And Painless given an Afrobeat treatment, and the polyrhythms of Born Under Punches complementing the lyrics’ stream of consciousness. On the darker second side, Once In A Lifetime benefits from guitars and horns straight out of the townships; the new “ideal” face, meanwhile, of Seen Not Seen retains a scary topicality; and the recast Listening Wind is eerily magnificent. David Hutcheon
Veteran troubadour’s twenty-first album. Consistency is a quality that has defined Armatrading's oeuvre since her recording career began back in 1972. Though her popularity reached its apex as early as 1976 (when she scored her biggest UK hit single with the anthemic Love And Affection), the Saint Kitts-born/Birmingham-raised singer/songwriter has been able to maintain a loyal and devoted fan-base during the last 40 years due to the magnetism of her live performances and continued high quality of her work. This new, self-produced offering explores the theme of love and relationships that has been the leitmotif of so many of her albums. They range from simple declarations of love (I Like It When We're Together) to deeper, existential mediations (No More Pain). Overall, these 10 songs encapsulate Armatrading's genius for getting to the crux of an emotional matter and expressing her feelings in a simple but eloquent and heart-warming way. Charles Waring
Damien Jurado The Horizon Just Laughed SECRETLY CANADIAN. CD/DL/LP
Seattle’s best-kept sec reaches thirteenth alb
Let’s Eat Grandma
★★★★ I’m All Ears TRANSGRESSIVE. CD/DL/LP
Audible shift on Norwich duo’s second album. School recorders, twin telepathy, songs about glowing mushrooms: Let’s Eat Grandma’s 2016 debut I, Gemini didn’t go easy on the idiosyncrasy. I’m All Ears has sheared off some of that Alice-In-Wonderland eccentricity along with Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth’s hair, but if the circus-field antics are superseded by darker, sleeker dancefloor shapes, it remains a volatile, persistently disconcerting record. These are no longer insular bedroom fantasia but path-finding songs, navigating the murk of modern life, the need to find an identity while
Philly and Motown with a dash of Hall & Oates. In sharp contrast, Golden Days, with its blaring Daptone-style horn fanfares, shows that the band can deliver uptempo material with equal panache. Charles Waring
★★★ Golden Days CANDELION. CD/DL/LP
Fourth and best albu from rising London qu
They channelled an ’80s pop-soul vibe on 2014's Cheap Hotel, which included the sublime single Red Cassette, but on this self-produced 10-track offering, Mamas Gun's influences go back further in time, to the 1970s. Indeed, singer Andy Platts wraps his lyrics in a silky soul sound that is redolent of classic Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. But while they undoubtedly wear their influences like a badge of honour, Mamas Gun have got something original going on, allowing their music to transcend any accusations of retro-pastiche. The best cut is I Need A Win, an anthem for perennial losers, which is an amalgam of
Here We Go Love! ABSOLUTE. CD/DL
Dave Wakeling’s follo 1982’s Special Beat Ser
Angélique Kidjo: and the heat goes on.
For four albums, from 2010’s Saint Bartlett to 2014’s Visions Of Us On The Land, Jurado paired wistful folk impressionism with producer Richard Swift’s ornate backline, a soft-rock Topanga Canyon vision through stained-glass windows. Selfproducing for the first time, Jurado’s colour palette retains occasional ornamentation, including orchestration, Wurlitzers and a choir, but his immaculate velvet baritone is more often set in the starker relief of voice/guitar basics. The most baroque aspects here are Jurado’s lyrics, populated by characters (song-titles include Percy Faith, Lou-Jean and Florence-Jean). He seems always on the move, across various towns – Laredo, Rodriguez – and US states, most significantly on The Last Great Washington State, which is almost a novella in length.
playing nicely with others. Distinctive balloon-animal vocals rub against the euphoric beats of Falling Into Me and the glitchy gender-politicking of Hot Pink (co-produced by SOPHIE and The Horrors’ Faris Badwan), while the out-ofbody throb of Donnie Darko shows a hard edge to their disturbing powers. As they move on, Let’s Eat Grandma aren’t quite what they used to be, but that feels like a cause for celebration, not sorrow. Victoria Segal
Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling both helm their own version of The Beat. Last year Roger’s issued Bounce, now Wakeling follows with this. While Ranking Roger’s album was dependable, Here We Go Love! is great. Recorded piecemeal over two years with Wakeling’s touring band and with sax parts written by the late Saxa (a tendon injury meant he couldn’t actually play), it summons the excitement and exuberance of their past over 13 songs about love and politics. In the first camp, there’s the title track, an expletive driven pogo-pop number; in the latter, If Killing Worked, an anti-war protest for modern times with blaring horns and organ, and The One And Only, an intelligent critique of Trump’s fans. How Can You Stand There?, meanwhile, combines both and rejoices in the Sound Of Young (all grown up) Birmingham. Lois Wilson
Lump DEAD OCEANS. CD/DL/LP
Tuung mainman Mike Lindsay and songwriter Laura Marling find a bond. Born of a chance meeting at a London bowling alley in 2016 between Marling and Lindsay – each of whom has reshaped notions of folk music – this collaboration was always going to produce something sonically elegant. Accordingly, this six-song cycle is built around a drone, its individual tracks manifesting as if in curls of smoke. Album opener Late To The Flight plays like an impressionistic sense poem, gorgeously intimate and unhurried, while the playful May I Be The Light moves from deadpan to dreamy with a deftness that recalls Ivor Cutler’s I’m Going In A Field. But as the record’s title suggests, there’s also an awkwardness to Lump that unsettles – in a good way – from the Joni Mitchell-toned California satire Curse Of The Contemporary to the febrile, throaty Rolling Thunder. Sophie Harris
Jon Hassell: multicoloured dreams, muted tones.
Horn of plenty Ambient jazz explorer updates his map of the Fourth World. By John Mulvey.
★★★★ Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) NDEYA. CD/DL/LP
FORTY YEARS lost in the bush of ghosts is not, on the face of it, a logical way to become a major player. For most of that time, the American trumpeter Jon Hassell has marked out a sonic territory that he identifies as the ‘Fourth World’, a misty interzone with porous borders,
inclusive way in which Washington reframes jazz history for both neophytes and connoisseurs. At times suggesting Archie Shepp’s Attica Blues rescored by Charles Stepney, the high point comes with hyperdriven gospel workout Show Us The Way. But really, take it all in, as a series of near-overwhelming musical epiphanies. John Mulvey
Heaven & Earth
Brad Mehldau Trio
YOUNG TURKS. CD/DL/LP
Hallelujah! A new classic of spiritual jazz. After debuting with a 3-CD package titled The Epic, the LA saxophonist’s second album looks relatively concise: just two CDs this time. If anything, though, Heaven & Earth feels even more monumental, reconciling the questing imperative of spiritual jazz with a personal state-of-thenation assessment of the USA in 2018, while deploying choirs and maximalist arrangements at every opportunity. Lavish, portentous, aware of its political significance, Heaven & Earth also swings like crazy, and the seriousness of the endeavour never detracts from the warm-hearted and
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
where fragile approximations of jazz, minimalism and global trance are processed through an ambient haze. While open to eclectic influence, Hassell’s music is also curiously hermetic in feel, but that hasn’t stopped him collaborating with the likes of Talking Heads, David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel and, most significantly, Brian Eno. He brings exotic theory, and a languorous signature tone that imbues anything in its vicinity with a certain spiritual heft. It’s easy to classify Hassell as an adjunct to the brainy cabal who broke down barriers between prog, post-punk and an expanding soundworld of possibilities in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Still, the most striking thing about Listening To Pictures, Hassell’s first new album in nine years, is how effortlessly contemporary it sounds. That unhurried, muted trumpet is still pre-eminent, reasserting Hassell as electric Miles
groundbreaking album series that has taken democratic improvisation and group interplay to new heights. He’s fortunate to have empathic sidemen in bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, who can intuitively second-guess and respond to Mehldau’s every thought. With its blend of fine original music, standards, lesser-known jazz numbers, and pop songs (including spellbinding renditions of Brian Wilson’s Friends and Paul McCartney’s Great Day), this supernal album encapsulates the brilliance of arguably the greatest jazz trio of modern times. Charles Waring
Fifteenth album by no jazz threesome. A prolific and protean musician whose curiosity has taken him to various sonic destinations in his 25-year career (including electronic and classical music), Brad Mehldau’s greatest legacy will undoubtedly be his work within a jazz trio setting. Like Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett before him, Mehldau has redefined the aesthetics of the post-bebop piano trio with a
Davis’s most imaginative heir. It sits, though, among splattery, fractured beatscapes like Picnic, where a fusillade of glitches and rapid digital edits coalesce into a meditative whole. Picnic, the dislocated nocturne of Her First Rain, and much else here could be mistaken as the work of a contemporary producer like Flying Lotus, or Oneohtrix Point Never; no mean feat for an 81-year-old. But Listening To Pictures feels more like the culmination of a musical journey than a faddish whim. It’s one which begins in mid-’60s Cologne, where Hassell studied with Stockhausen and roomed with Can’s Irmin Schmidt, proceeds through work with Terry Riley and assiduous tudy of Teo Macero’s diced Miles Davis productions, and reaches a key point when Eno lends his disorienting systems to 1980’s Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics and the ollowing year’s Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two. Cutting-edge technology may now aid Hassell, but his aesthetic has emained consistent since his 1977 olo debut, Vernal Equinox (usefully eissued, along with a bunch of Hassell’s other rare sets, as downloads from his new Ndeya label). At the same time as appearing radically modern, though, this stealthily accomplished trumpeter has rarely sounded so jazzy. Opener Dreaming is a kind of phased blues shuffle, while Manga Scene finds Hassell soloing tenderly, in the vein of Chet Baker, while software appears to be serenely malfunctioning all around him. In 2007, Eno wrote of how Hassell’s experiment was to “imagine a globalised world constantly integrating and hybridising, where differences were celebrated and dignified – and to try to realise it in music.” In 2018 that project, with all its elegance, humanity and political urgency, seems more relevant than ever.
phonist Isaiah Barr (renowned for honking two at once) and non-linear drummer Austin Williamson, with many of those freestyle jams captured on 2016’s vinyl-only debut 2nd Avenue Rundown and two subsequent EPs, all recorded live. While Barr’s snaking, circling refrains recall primetime Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy on the lolloping Battle Of The Bowery and rapid-fire Delancey Dilemma, OC also trace ‘60s film scores and previously untrammelled ground amid Nag Champa’s clattering discord and Eviction Notice’s challenging no wave skronk. An edgy outing vividly redolent of downtown Manhattan – as was – this composed studio transition keeps OC’s sawn-off edges intact. Andy Cowan
★★★★ Lower East Suite Part 3
BIG DADA. CD/DL/LP
New York jazz ensemb complete homespun tr
Onyx Collective made their name with impromptu guerrilla shows that made a virtue of improvisation. A revolving cast of players pivoted around guttural saxo-
Illmatic: Live From The Kennedy Center MASS APPEAL. DL/LP
The 1994 hip-hop classic goes classical. If Nasir Jones has never escaped the shadow cast by his debut, the landmark Illmatic isn’t the worst albatross to be saddled with.
This 2014 concert revisits the album on its 20th anniversary at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, with the National Symphony Orchestra. The orchestration is no gimmick, rendering Illmatic’s cinematic sweep in widescreen, lending a graceful, David Axelrod-style grandeur to NY State Of Mind, and making a panoramic, profound epic of This World Is Yours. Jones, meanwhile, is in a retrospective mood, marvelling at the enduring phenomenon of Illmatic, and its raw roots. “I didn’t come from a privileged family,” he says at one point. “I wanted to be heard.” Twenty years on, he holds his mettle amid the salubrious surroundings, delivering his finest lines with ice-cold focus and prowling his masterpiece like it’s a victory lap or a prize-fight. A concert LP that’s by no means essential, but still often thrills. Stevie Chick
Gang Gang Dance
★★★ Kazuashita 4AD. CD/DL/LP
First album in seven y from New York’s globa thinking dance collect It’s clear from the opening moments of Kazuashita, the belated followup to 2011’s Eye Contact, that time hasn’t diminished Gang Gang Dance’s desire to make expansive, horizon-chasing music. First track (infirma terrae) is a bulbous electronic pulse that might have come from space, but they quickly assume their righteous human form with J-Tree, Lizzi Bougatsos’s bluesky vocals yielding to a recording of protestors at Standing Rock. Their synthetic sunsetpink landscapes can veer towards boho spa music – Cocteau Twins in a seaweed wrap – but there is a rich, rainbow beauty to the title track, while the fractured, collaged scenery of Snake Dub highlights their art-scene roots. Just when it seems it’s an invitation to drift away, Kazuashita snags the attention, demands vigilance; a record of the world, rather than out of it. Victoria Segal
★★★ Grid Of Points KRANKY. CD/DL/LP
Liz Harris finds anothe to make herself disapp
Tanja Engelberts, Phil Sharp
Accompanying the hushed recorded works of German composer Jakob Ullmann is usually a small note that requests you “listen to this CD at the lowest possibly volume… just barely [masking] the ambient sounds in your room”. The idea is the music should never dominate, and, like an ancient damaged text, must remain impossible to fully decipher. Something of that philosophy exists behind
Grouper’s Liz Harris: this must be the place.
Liz Harris’s tenth album as Grouper. Following 2014’s 'unplugged' Ruins, where she stripped away her usual loops, fuzz and effects to reveal four spare, sad songs of voice and piano, Grid Of Points is a further vanishing act; eight brief fragments in which the ghostly vocal harmonies and echoing piano seem to exist just out of comprehension, as if playing in a distant hall, or half-remembered from a dream. Andrew Male
Melody’s Echo Chamber
★★★★ Bon Voyage DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
France’s musical adventurer cooks up an intoxicating sonic stew. Bon Voyage was meant to hit shops in spring last year but didn’t due to Melody Prochet’s hospitalisation after an accident. Shirim, the album’s final track, was a single in 2014. Thus, the second Melody’s Echo Chamber album arrives four-and-a-half years after its predecessor. Despite the disjointed backstory and the presence of Dungen’s Gustav Ejstes, Reine Fiske and Johan Holmegard, The Amazing’s Fredrik Swahn and Pond’s Nicholas Allbrook – Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is absent this time – and lyrics in English, French and Swedish, the album has its own voice. Notwithstanding a very Stereolab first couple of minutes, Bon Voyage’s sensibility is akin to that of Tropicálistas Os Mutantes and Tom Zé. Songs stop, start, twist and turn, as well as featuring sudden instrumental interjections and dives into Moroccan and Israeli melody lines. Head for the head-spinning track four, Var Har Du Vart, for confir-
mation of this psychedelic smörgåsbord’s singular appeal. Kieron Tyler
★★★ Colt SACRED BONES. CD/DL/LP
Solo debut from the Dublin-based singer a multi-disciplinary arti Hilary Woods was the teenage bass guitarist with Dublin indie group JJ72 and left the group in 2003. But now she paints and works in theatre sound design, and the music on Colt makes those Top Of The Pops appearances feel even more distant. The subdued guitar on Black Rainbow reminds of Julee Cruise’s Floating Into The Night and early Mazzy Star. Woods has said that, in her attempts to make sense of the everyday, she explores “aloneness” and “desire”, both of which seem to be amplified in this sparse, nocturnal world. On Take Him In, she sings over gentle piano arpeggios, cool synth currents and percussion ticking like a clock. It takes a while to get some traction on these unassuming songs. But once inside it is a strange and enticing world. Mike Barnes
★★★★ Nothing Is Still NINJA TUNE. CD/DL/LP
Poignant, panoramic, downtempo chronicle. LEON VYNEHALL’S primary milieu is experimental-leaning house, but Nothing Is Still has grander designs. Its genesis was in Polaroids of Vynehall’s grandparents following their emigration from England to the US in the 1960s. Their experiences are reimagined through this touching, downbeat soundtrackwithout-a-film. From The Sea/It Looms traces the passage from Southampton with serene strings, slivers of piano and distant seagulls, a blast of brass signalling their arrival. Throughout the album, film-like background foley – restaurant chatter, wildlife, traffic’s unholy tumult – bolsters the cinematic aesthetic. On the brief pirouette of Birds On The Tarmac and mechanical chattermeets-celestial-choirs of Trouble, Vynehall raids the Riley/Reich minimal playbook, reflecting the contemporary musical landscape. English Oak’s grimy disco is the sole venture into trad dancefloor territory. Rather, this is a sumptuous and personal record capturing universal human themes; of hope, fortitude and loss.
★★★ Ideal Home
BLANC CHECK. CD/DL/LP
Blancmange man and Gazelle Twin associate an exhibition of thems
★★★★ e .
“There are roadworks all around… major delays at every junction/Network’s down/Try semaphore,” intones Blancmange’s Neil Arthur over the implacable bleep of Field This, a song that sounds like the traffic update of nightmares. Yet Ideal Home, the intriguing collaboration between Arthur and electronic experimentalist Bernholz, stretches to modern alienation beyond the daily commute, using subtle field recordings, minimal synths and low-mood vocals to generate bespoke, hi-spec, chrome-plated unease. The duo can be frosty and arch, as on the title track’s threatened malfunction, but there are very few places to hide on Thought Terminating In Your Night, not much more than the rasp of vocals on metal, or the devotional swell of Come And Play. More human warmth filters through the electro-Tindersticks of Gap In The Curtain and Bulk Erase, but Ideal Home shows the value of keeping the emotional shades down and the ambient temperature cool. Victoria Segal
Oneohtrix Point Never
Here, From Where We Are
As Pariah, Arthur Cayzer has transitioned from spacey UK bass to gnarled, saturnine techno, but his Houndstooth debut is different again. Through At The Edge, with its counterpoint of abrasive textures and twinkling melody, and Seed Bank’s celestial throb, he’s forged an album of swooning, soft-lens electronica that is firmly of the Eno/Aphex Twin lineage.
After his Vangelislike Good Time soundtrack, for Age Of Daniel Lopatin returns to his experimental soundscapes and exploratory, out-there pop. Frequently overwhelming yet unconventionally comforting, there’s bebop-style envelopepushing at work on a meander between ghostly electro-country (Babylon), quasi-baroque (The Station) and jazz soundscape/ slow house hybrid (Last Known Image Of A Song).
Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer often trigger hysteria in electronic music circles. Heavy with atmosphere, Dream House doesn’t disappoint, corralling their genius for cerebral house chicanery, subtle techno and motorik rhythms. The appearance of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Einstürzende Neubauten founder member Gudrun Gut neatly places Âme in the upper chamber of German electronic experimentalism.
Rausch KOMPAKT. CD/DL/LP
Emotive and widescreen, Wolfgang Voigt’s music as GAS evokes the majesty of the German countryside that inspires it. The veteran producer’s sixth album is designed to be consumed in one sitting. Its sprawling, ambient techno is a sensory overload of submerged beats, like windscreen wipers during drizzle, over which drift icy phrases and fragments. SW
Fantastic Negrito: he never gives up. heartbreaking. Original Fug and Holy Modal Rounder founder Peter Stampfel also sings and plays fiddle. Michael Simmons
★★★★ Hundreds of Days GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL. CD/DL/LP
Sublime, wordless ess from contemplative W Coast-based harpist.
with sax trails and flowing flutes. Euphoric and spacey, this is a party worth joining. Lucy O’Brien
Jeffrey Lewis And The Deposit Returners
★★★★ Fantastic Negrito
★★★★ Please Don’t Be Dead COOKING VINYL. CD/DL/LP
Blood Wine Or Honey
★★★★ Fear & Celebration DO RIGHT! MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Spectral dancefloors by the South China Sea. Consisting of James Banbury (Auteurs, Infantjoy), Shane Aspegren (Berg Sans Nipple) and Head Clowns jazzer Joseph von Hess, this Hong Kong-based trio are a kind of electro-indie supergroup. Their head-cleansing, motorikdriven, Pigbag-style throwdown Anxious Party People ended up on Gilles Peterson’s 2017 Worldwide Awards list and was championed by 6Music’s Tom Ravenscroft. And this debut album expands the party vibe into nine tracks of Rip Rig & Panic meets Can – post-punk sax mingled with ghostly choruses and lo-fi hi-tech electronics. The funky undertow ensures that the mix never descends into wonky whimsy. Stand-out track Orwellian Woman bears this out: starting off as a humorous song with a disco pulse, it builds into a lyrical mood piece
Follow-up to Grammywinning debut. Charismatic, outspoken and now 50 years old, Xavier Dphrepaulezz was raised in a Muslim home in Massachusetts, the eighth of 14 kids in a Somali-Caribbean family. Moving to LA, our hero got a record deal, failed spectacularly and after a car smash that damaged his playing hand, became a farmer. It wasn’t until the birth of his son that he picked up a guitar again, self-financing 2016’s rapturously-received Last Days Of Oakland. This treads similar terrain, burrowing into Delta blues, weaving in elements of Leadbelly, Prince-style funk and hip-hop loops. You could call the tone political, but it’s just a cry for calm in a world of addiction, guns, corrupt police… There’s heavy Led Zep psychedelia, Robert Johnson plaintiveness, and the tiny dubby diamond in Never Give Up, all adding up to a descendant of What’s Going On, delivered by a resilient, Hendrix-style dandy. Glyn Brown
Works By Tuli Kupferberg
In 2014, Mary Lattimore, a go-to plucker for the likes of Nick Cave and Thurston Moore, swapped her native Philadelphia for a peripatetic traipse around the US, along the way writing 2016’s At The Dam, and, courtesy of a lengthy residency at California’s Headlands Center for the Arts, this swooning, pastoral successor. On it, Lattimore’s deftly played, sometimes heavily processed concert grand harp unfurls mellifluously against yearning keyboard ambiences to generate immersive, natural worldinspired soundscapes. Typically, aptly-titled opener It Feels Like Floating, with its tumbling arpeggios wreathed in ever-more wistful organs, or Baltic Birch’s darkly echoing strums, nod to canonical purveyors of spatial composition such as Stars Of The Lid or Brian Eno. Yet they are also possessed with an ingenuous directness, as if Lattimore is discovering the music’s rippling magic even as she delivers it. David Sheppard
songwriting cartels of Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift makes perfect sense. Matt Allen
★★ All The Time UMC. CD/DL/LP
Otis Williams-led fivereturn from eight-year with mainly covers alb
The Temptations are a very different fish to the group who sung vocal harmony and psychedelic soul at Motown in the ’60s. Their sole remaining original member, 76-year-old Otis Williams, ties them to the name only, for their sound is very much rooted in a modern soul that began with Boyz II Men and stamps its authority on Sam Smith et al today. This is borne out in this album’s choice of covers – The Weeknd’s Earned It, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, the aforesaid Smith’s Stay With Me and Maxwell’s Pretty Wings are all delivered straight, and with little emotional connection. Larry Braggs, formerly of Tower Of Power, can sing of course, and the harmonies by Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks and Willie Greene are pretty, but ultimately one is still left wondering just what is the point? Lois Wilson
★★★★ Whale City
DON GIOVANNI. CD/DL
THE LEAF LABEL. CD/DL/LP
Tribute to Fugs poet Tuli The K earns an ‘A’.
Second album of grub from the Fat White fou the oddest gang in to
Late poet Tuli Kupferberg was in his forties when he cofounded satirical protest-smutrock band The Fugs in 1964. Immersion in American pop and Yiddish folk songs gave him a knack for melody, expertise in literature provided lyrical flair, and a subversive outlook ensured his cutting wit. Now contemporary freak folkie Jeffrey Lewis performs Tuli’s bohemian rhapsodies, with this collection of the elder’s originals celebrating the joys of sex (What Are You Doing After The Orgy?), skewering the financially motivated (This Is A Hit Song), and what Kupferberg called parasongs: new lyrics to familiar melodies (I Want To Hold Your Foot). Lewis’s rendition of torch ballad Morning Morning is
★★★ Wildness POLYDOR. CD/DL/LP
Hit-and-miss return fr indie-pop’s heartbrok anthem-makers. Anyone listening to Don’t Give In – the opening shot single from Snow Patrol’s seventh studio album – might have feared the worst for the band’s songwriter, Gary Lightbody. His knack of writing anthemic melancholia seemed askew; an off-the-mark stab at Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen vocals casting a grim shadow over what was a slowburning lament. Thankfully, Wildness’s remaining portfolio is stuffed with hooky but soulbruised cuts, most memorably on the tender, piano-led What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? and A Youth Written In Fire. Meanwhile, Snow Patrol’s habit of seeking out catchy, call and response choruses looms large on Empress, though A Dark Switch’s whipsnap funk provides the biggest surprise here: suddenly Lightbody’s introduction to the
Sobriety (of sorts) suits Saul Adamczewski. Returning from a rehabilitative sabbatical, the Fat White Family founder has not only launched the psychTropicália of Insecure Men, but also re-joined various cohorts from Childhood and Paranoid London in Warmduscher. They might be his most immediate and accessible project yet. While Standing On The Corner recalls the rattling art-punk of Mclusky or Nomeansno, 1000 Whispers sees frontman Clams Baker proselytising over the type of white urban gospel last heard from The Make-Up, while The Sweet Smell Of Florida is daft and dirty funk. Elsewhere, three spoken word/ electro pieces barely clock in at the one-minute mark, but it’s all imbued with such unhinged energy and genreskipping abandon that Warmduscher collectively concoct some weird pop voodoo, perhaps best heard on the swampy bastard blues of the title track. Ben Myers
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Tone Poet, Vol. 4
The Songs Of Other England
AHH OHH. CD/DL/LP
Allen pulls off a high-stakes comeback with aplomb; bold emotional directness supplanting gobby perpetualteen ‘tude on a set of soulful urban pop. Features several sympathetic assists (Mark Ronson, Ezra Koenig). JB
RUBBER CHEESE MUSIC. CD/DL
Former Generation X and Westworld guitar wiz celebrates his longtime US desert home with growly, bottlenecked sand-rock, assisted here on percussion by a visiting Rat Scabies. PG
Suede guitarist Richard Oakes and singer/producer Sean McGhee adeptly meld folkinspired portrait songs and stories to distinct musical approaches including a wistful Talk Talk-ish title track. JB
Yonkers singer-songwriter’s intriguing debut explores Eastern philosophical notions in a voice striving for its own equilibrium; high, lispy, but full of soul warmth. Highlight: Navy Blues with its swirling, treated strings. JB
Wolfgang Press man Michael Allen’s second collaboration with painter/producer Giuseppe De Bellis comes 10 years after their debut. Je Suis Geniuser sets the tone with its brooding, metallic percussion and bare-wire electronics. JB
Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert
Bird Dog Dante
In The Rainbow Rain
Here Lies The Body
ROCKET GIRL. CD/DL/LP
THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
NØ FØRMAT! CD/DL/LP
ROCK ACTION. CD/DL/LP
More 4AD alumni in the shape of Clan Of Xymox/Sleeps With Fishes’ Nooten, whose fourth solo LP was made with Kate Bush’s engineer Stephen W Tayler. Wistful, non-rock instrumentals crying out for an interpretive dance. JB
Atmospheric mage and producer John Parish underscores his composing skills with these uneasy instrumentals and tightwound songs. P.J. Harvey drives Mark Linkous memorial Sorry For Your Loss. VS
Will Sheff and crew confront the dire state of modernity with songs of promise, resilience and the occasional unpredictable turn. You can imagine Don Henley singing alternative universe-Eagles Don’t Move Back To LA. JT
Six tracks from the queen of Wassoulou soul’s 2017 album sympathetically remixed by electronic types. Highlights: St Germain’s housey Fadjamou, and Natureboy expertly foregrounding Tony Allen’s terrific Yere Faga beat. JB
Hubbert’s flamenco guitar and electronic textures bring out the warmth in Moffat’s folk narratives. Here, a misbegotten romance plays out across the album in disturbing, always enthralling fashion. JB
Mazzy Star Quiet, The Winter Harbor Sarah Louise
THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
SONY MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
A North Carolinan guitarist of considerable, John Fahey-ish chops, Sarah Louise Henson’s latest finds her privileging her 12-string and showcasing her stentorian voice, for eldritch psych-folk that recalls Meg Baird’s work in Espers. JM
Hotly-tipped 25-year-old Texan jazz singer puts her own distinctive spin on songs by Pulp (Underwear), Leonard Cohen (That Don’t Make It Junk) and Paul McCartney (title track). A little goes a long way though. CP
Another Time, Another Place
Well-crafted third from the south London art pop duo with a playful spirit to match their impeccable post-punk influences. Singer Alice Merida Richards’ deadpan observation of social inequality elevates the whole album. JB
Leonard Cohen’s Oscargarlanded backing singer sounds terrific on a diverse set. Precision arrangements render material by Mickey Newbury and Pearl Jam as one in BBC Radio 2 daytime slickness. CP
eturning after a near fouryear absence, Mazzy Star’s haunting melancholia and child-like wonder has never felt quite so earthy as it does here. All the usual ingredients are in place – the breathy vocals, the horizon-stretching guitars – but with bluesy hints and brooding pianos Quiet, The Winter Harbor conjures a subtle atmosphere that could happily house a reflective Nick Cave or David Lynch. The track leads off the duo’s Still EP (out on June 1) which boasts the equally evocative That Way Again, the title track, plus a new ‘Ascension Version’ of their 1993 album’s strung out title track and closer, So Tonight That I Might See. PS Find it: Streaming services
Emily Capell Twisting On The Waves This ’60s soul-meetsJamie T cut from the Londoner’s latest EP is both impassioned and uncompromising. Find it: Streaming services
Trailblazers Electro music pioneers reveal the secrets of their musical rewirings in a new weekly podcast. Gary Numan kicks things off, with Goldie among those set to follow. PS Find it: Deezer’s Electronic channel
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Here’s the exclusive monthly guide to the country’s most mouthwatering independent record emporia. Chosen for their knowledge of both current releases and specialist areas, hey’re guaranteed to provide the personal uch you won’t find elsewhere. And they stock O too. All where you see this sign. SCOTLAND Assai 241-243 King Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee DD5 2AX 01382 738406 1 Grindlay Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AT 0131 228 3943
Skipton Rd, Harrogate, HG1 4 AA 01423504035
Piccadilly Records 53 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR 0161 839 8008
Soda Music 28 Starrord New Road, Altrincham WA14 0161 929 1432
128 Queensbury Court, Dumfries DG1 1BU 01387 267894
12BankSt,EdinburghEH12LN 0131 622 7246
44 Abbey St, Carlisle CA3 8TX 01228 522845 44 Bridge St, Bolton BL1 2EG 01204 384579
Europa Music 10 Friars Street, Stirling FK8 1HA 01786 448623
Flipside Kilmarnock Indoor Market, 65-75 Tichield Street, Kilmarnock KA1 1PA 0743 116015
Maidinvinyl 7 Rosemount Viaduct Aberdeen, AB25 1NE 07864 547203
Mo Fidelity 126 Murray Street Montrose, DD10 9JG 07870 491240
NORTH EAST Blackslab 22 Milbank Terrace, Redcar TS10 1ED 07590590735
Bakewell DE45 1BZ 07929 282 950
3 Regent Street, Barnsley S70 2EG
NORTH WALES Vod Music 28 New Street, Mold, Flintshire CH7 1NZ 07904688739 / www.vodmusic.co.uk
MID/STH WALES Andys 16 Northgate, Aberystwyth SY23 2JS 01970 624581 Derricks 221 Oxford St, Swansea SA1 3BQ 01792 654 226 / www.derricksmusic.co.uk
10 Charles St, Newport NP20 1JU 35TheHeadrow,Leeds,LS16PU 01633 259 661 / 0113 2436743 www.diversevinyl.com
Earworm Records Powells Yard, Goodramgate, York YO1 7LS 01904 627488
Jumbo Records 1-3 Merrion Centre, Leeds LS2 8NG 0113 245 5570 / www.jumborecords.co.uk
Haystacks 2 Castle Wall, Blackfold, Hay on Wye HR3 5EQ 075272 98199
Spillers 31 Morgan Arcade, Cardif CF10 1AF 02920224905
Tangled Parrot Carmarthen
81 Renshaw Street
Liverpool L1 2SJ 01517071850
1-7 Central Arcade, Newcastle Upper Floor, 32 King St, upon Tyne, NE1 5BP Carmarthen SA31 1BS 0191 232 1356
12 High St, Congleton CW12 1BC 01260 280778 / www.aamusic.co.uk
Muse Music 40 Market St, Hebden Bridge HX7 6AA 01422 843496
Unit 25, Courtyard Shops, Old Bridge, Haverfordwest SA61 2AN 07796987534
47 Church St, Preston 232 Fullwood Road, PR1 3DH Sheield S10 3BA 01772 884 772 / 0114 266 8493 www.action-records.co.uk
The Electric Church 23 Nun St, Newcastle, NE1 5AG Birthwistle Building, Over Square, Winsford CW7 2JP 07828 897413
0191 260 3246 / www.reflexcd.co.uk
Grind and Groove Records
67B Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG 0191 230 2500 / www.roots2music.com
58 Cavendish Street, Keighley BD21 3RL 07483 156867
Loafers Vinyl & Coffee Rustic Level, The Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 1RE 07960 532371
P&C Music 6 Devonshire Place,
8 Church St, Pontypridd CF37 2TH 01443 406421
MIDLANDS The Attic 7 Market Street, Ashby De La Zouch LE65 2QQ 01530588381
Eclipse Records Unit 4 Victorian Arcade Walsall, WS1 1RE 01922 322142
86 Tadcaster Rd, York,YO241LR Left For Dead 07975899839 14 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury SY1 1XB Vinyl Tap 01743 247777 / 42 John William St, www.leftfordeadshop.co.uk Huddersield HD1 1ER 01484 517720 / Music In The Green www.vinyltap.co.uk Rutland Square, Buxton road,
4/6 Piccadilly Arcade, Hanley, Stoke On Trent ST1 1DL 01782 206000 / www.musicmaniauk.com
Revolution Records 16 Park Place Shopping Centre, Walsall WS1 1NP 01922 620895
Tangled Parrot Hay-On-Wye 5 Market St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, HR3 5AF 07817781493 / www.tangledparrot.com
Rough Trade East ‘Dray Walk’ Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane E1 6QL 0207 392 7788 / www.roughtrade.com
34-35 Berwick St, W1V 3RF 101CowleyRd,Oxford,OX41HU 0207 7343297 / www.sisterray.co.uk 01865 793866 / www.truckmusicstore.co.uk Soul Brother 1 Keswick Road, SW15 2HL EAST 020 8875 1018 / www.soulbrother.com Compact Music 89 North St, Sudbury, C010 IRF Soul Propieter 01787 881160 64 Elm Road, Brixton SW2 2UB 07532 492196 Fives 22 The Broadway, SOUTH Leigh On Sea SS9 1AW 01702 711 629 101 Collectors
Holt Vinyl Vault
1 Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6AA 101 West St, Farnham GU9 7EN Seismic Records 01263 713225 01252 734409 / Spencer Street, www. 101collectors Intense Records Leamington Spa CV31 3NF records.co.uk 33/34 Viaduct Road, 01926 831333 Chelmsford CM1 1TS Analogue October 19a Couth Street, Chichester 01245 347372 ST Records PO19 1EJ 165 Wolverhampton St, Dudley, The Nevermind West Midlands DY1 3HA 07725 038881 The Music Store 01384 230726 10 Church St, Boston PE21 6NW Black Circle Records 01205 369419 Strand Records 2 Roebuck Mews, 2a Hocklife Unit 15, The Strand, Relevant St, Leighton Buzzard LU7 9BG Longton ST3 2JF 260 Mill Rd, Cambridge CB1 3NF 01525 839917 / 0759 29208319 01223 244 684 www.blackcirclerecords. co.uk Slipped Discs EAST MIDLANDS 21 High St, Billericay, CM12 9AJ The Compact Disc Off The Beaten 01245 350820 57 London Road, Sevenoaks Tracks TN14 1AU Vinyl Hunter 36AswellStreet,LouthLN119HP 56 St Johns Street, Bury St 01732 740 889 01507 607677 / www. Edmunds IP33 1SN Crows Head Records offthebeatentracks.org 01284 725410 Unit 1, Garamonde Drive, Milton Keynes MK8 8DF Rough Trade LONDON 07780031804 5 Broad St, Nottingham NG1 3AL Audio Gold Davids Music 0115869 4012 308-310 Park Road, 12 Eastcheap, Crouch End, N8 8LA Letchworth SG6 3DE Tallbird Records 0208 341 9007 01462 475 900 / 10 Soresby Street, www.davids-music.co.uk Chesterield S40 1JN Casbah Records 01246 234548 Elephant Records The Beehive, 320-322 Creek 8 Kings Walk, Winchester Rd, Greenwich SE10 9SW Vinyl Lounge SO23 8AF 0208 858 1964 / 4 Regent St, Mansield, www.casbahrecords.co.uk 078711 88474 NG18 1SS Empire Records 01623 427291 Eel Pie Records 45 Church Street, Twickenham 21 Heritage Close, St Albans AL3 4EB TW1 1NR WEST 01727 860890 07817756315
11 St George’s Place, Cheltenham GL50 3LA 01242 227 725
Forest Vinyl Unit 7, Hollyhill Park , Hollyhill Road, Cinderford Gl14 2YB 07751 404393.
The Music Store
Flashback Records 131 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E2 7DG 0207 735 49356
Gatefeld Record Lounge 61 Hermitage Road, Hitchin SG5 1DB 0779 3029754
50 Essex Rd, Islington N1 8LR
70High St,WhitstableCT5 1BD 01227 263337
144 Crouch Hill, Crouch End N8 9DX
Drake House, 1 Pavilion Business Park, Forest Vale Industrial Estate, Cinderford GL14 2YD 01600 716362
Unit 12, Woolgate Centre, Witney OX28 6AP 01993 700567
130 Talbot Road, W11 1JA 020 7229 8541 / www.roughtrade.com
52A Windsor Street, Uxbridge UB8 1AB 01895 259369
Harbour Records 29 High Street, Emsworth PO10 7AG 01243 37415
Heathen Chemistry 130 West Street, Fareham PO160EL 074822 12656
Hot Salvation 32 Rendezvous Street,
Folkestone CT20 1EY 01303 487657
House of Martin 60 High Street, Broadstairs CT10 1JT 01843 860949
Hundred Records 47 The Hundred, Romsey SO51 8GE 01794 518655
Music’s Not Dead 71 Devonshire Road, Bexhill On Sea TN40 1BD 07903 731371
South Record Shop www.jamrecords.co.uk 22 Queens Rd, Southend-on- Longwell Records Sea SS1 1LU 36 Temple St. Keynsham 01702 826166 BS31 1EH www.southrecordshop.com 077954 72504
Stylus Records 35a High Street, Baldock SG7 6BG 07818022615
The Vault 1 Castle Street, Christchurch Dorset, BH23 1DP 01202 482134
Vinilo 55 Queensway, Southampton SO14 3BL 07825 707369
The Basement, 14 Gildredge Rd, Eastbourne BN21 4RL The Vinyl Frontier 01323 430 304 / 35 Grove Road, Eastbourne www.pebblerecords.co.uk BN21 4TT 01323 410313 Pie & Vinyl Vinyl Matters 61 Castle Road, Southsea Bakers Lane, Chapel Street, PO5 3AY Petersield, GU32 3DY 07837 009587 07720 244849
The Record Shop 37 Hill Avenue, Amersham HP6 5BX 01494 433311
The Record Corner
Vinyl Realm 52 Long Street, Devizes SN10 1NP 07502 332327
Pound Lane, Godalming GU7 1BX 01483 422 006 www.therecordcorner. co.uk
20 Castle Street, Canterbury CT1 2QJ 01227 456907
28 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL 01273 606312
Revolution Vinyl Café 8 Trinity Road, Weymouth DT4 8TJ 01305 788664
Rockit 58 High Street, Poole BH15 1DA 07964 446780
Slide Records 9 The Arcade Bedford, MK40 1NS 01234 261603
33 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG 0333 323 0736
Museum Vinyl Market House, 2 Market Hill, Saint Austell PL25 5QB 07792834509
SOUTH WEST The Drift Record Shop 103 High St, Totnes, TQ9 6SN 01803 866828 / www.thedriftrecordshop. co.uk
Friendly Records 8 North Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 1HT 07701 027824
Hurley Books & Records
Andersen’s well-earned word-of-mouth reputation is backed up by two European Blues Awards, a Juno nomination for Roots & Traditional Album of The Year, 6 Maple Blues Awards for Male Vocalist of the year and over 10 million views on YouTube. With Live At Olympic Hall, Andersen’s thunderous, one-of-a-kind voice is joined by his superbly talented friends from the 10-piece band, The Mellotones. TRUE NORTH
Unit 6, Pearl Assurance House, Queen Street, Newton Abbot TQ12 2AQ 01626 334942
Raves From The Grave 20 Cheap St, Frome, BA11 1BN 01373 464666 / www. ravesfromthegrave.com
Red House Records 21-23 Faringdon Road, Swindon SN1 5AR 01793 526393 / www.redhouserecords. co.uk
Retro Sounds Unit 7, Morfa Hall, Clif Road Newquay TR7 1SG 07964 043364 2, Market House Arcade, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 2JA 01208 264754
ANA EGGE WHITE TIGER White Tiger features wind, string, and vocal arrangements by multi-instrumentalist/ producer Alec Spiegelman (Cuddle Magic) and guest appearances by Anais Mitchell, Billy Strings, Alex Hargreaves, and Buck Meek (Big Thief). Like the tiger in the title song, Egge, herself, is near-miraculous, rare but real; and as Lucinda Williams said, “Listen to her lyrics. Ana is the folk Nina Simone.” STORYSOUND RECORDS
98 Fore Street, Exeter EX4 3HY 01392 272009 / www.roosterrecords.co.uk
Sanctuary Music Acorn House, 42 Nailsworth, Mill Trading Estate, Nailsworth GL6 0AG 01453 704481
Shiftys 169 High Street, Street BA16 0ND 07722 906366
Sound Knowledge 22 Hughenden Yard, Marlborough SN8 1LT 01672 511106
57 High Street, Billericay CM12 9AX
3, Jetty Street, Mevagissey PL26 6HU 01726 842200
Vinyl Collectors and Sellers
32 High Street, Falmouth TR11 2AD 01326 211722 /
Cross Keys Arcade, Queen Street, Salisbury SP1 1EY 01722410660
9 King Street, Deal CT146HX 07500114442
MATT ANDERSEN LIVE AT OLYMPIC HALL
Room 33 Records
NEW FROM PROPER MUSIC
IOW Records Units 6-7, Central Market, Newport, PO38 8JF 07709 708744 The Isle of Wight has a new record shop. Clive and Effie Moss have opened a dedicated vinyl shop in the heart of the island. The shop is close to where the historic music festival is held. The couple have had an enthusiastic response from both locals and tourists alike who enjoy crate-digging through their genuine crates. Also stocking Rega Turntables, mugs and various merchandise. therecordshopiow.com, @therecordshopiow Opening Times: Mon-Thu 10am-4pm, Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm
GRETCHEN PETERS DANCING WITH THE BEAST With melody and melancholy, the songs on Peters’ new album, Dancing With The Beast, combine to lift the effort over the high artistic bar set by her last outing, 2015’s award-winning Blackbirds. Gretchen will be touring in May & June in support of this latest release. PROPER RECORDS
NORMA WATERSON & ELIZA CARTHY WITH THE GIFT BAND ANCHOR Mother and daughter British folk doyennes and extended family’s first album since 2010’s Gift features wonderful interpretations of songs by Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, KT Tunstall, Kurt Weill and Monty Python, amongst others. Produced by Neill MacColl and Kate St. John. Available on CD, 2LP 180g vinyl, download and to stream. TOPIC RECORDS / VINYL180
The impossible Byrd Gene Clark
★★★★ Gene Clark Sings For You OMNIVORE. CD/DL/LP
967 was a frustrating year for Gene Clark. It started well with the release of his first solo album, but in June – while his erstwhile bandmates played the era-defining Monterey Pop festival – he was out of a record contract. Despite being a prolific writer and a major player in one of the biggest American groups of the period, he would not release another record until October 1968, and that was not a solo project but a collaboration, The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark. This collection – a holy grail for Clark fans – comes from the heart of this wilderness period. Clark had been a major star only the year before, so God knows what he must have felt as the Californian music industry exploded without him. Perhaps one indication comes in the strongest song here, the gorgeous On Her Own, in which San Francisco is repeatedly mentioned: not as an idealised sun-drenched hippy haven, but as a place of hopeless pilgrimage and deep sadness, all mist and rain. It’s not too difficult to see that Clark suffered a drastic loss of confidence after leaving The Byrds. Certainly, Columbia Records did him no favours by releasing his first solo album, a fine mixture of 1966 Beatles-esque Mod pop and the first stirrings of country rock, both as a collaboration with the Gosdin Brothers and in the same week as The Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday. It’s as though they had already made him a lesser priority. People didn’t leave hit groups without some kind of jeopardy in the mid-’60s, and this lack of support continued. The next recordings Clark made for Columbia were for a cover of an Ian & Sylvia tune, The French Girl. After So You Lost Your Baby stiffed as a single in April 1967, that was it as far as Columbia were concerned. Clark was cast adrift, but he didn’t stop writing: the tap that had been turned on in 1964 would not be turned off, and these 13 songs are a BACK STORY: small percentage of the dozens that GENE he wrote during this period. THERAPY ● Recorded in late 1967, The sound quality is fairly the long-bootlegged Sings primitive: just Clark’s guitar, a basic For You demos consist of and uncredited rhythm section, eight tracks that are augmented by an extra and Alex Del Zoppo on piano and five songs from a 1967 Chamberlin Strings (an American acetate given to the folk version of the Mellotron). Clearly rock group The Rose Garden. Together with the these songs are not an unreleased aborted Columbia single album but demos, cut just to The French Girl/Only release the pressure of writing so Colombe and the Hugh Masekela-enhanced Back many songs. Their origin from an Street Mirror (another acetate is well disguised, but the single session), that fact they are rushed comes out in makes a total of at least 17 Clark’s hurried vocals – cracking songs that Clark recorded that year, none of which on the high notes in several places would be released for – and poor mixing, of the drums more than a decade. in particular.
KEY TRACKS ● ● ●
On Her Own One Way Road 7:30 Mode
“SAN FRANCISCO AS A PLACE OF HOPELESS PILGRIMAGE AND DEEP SADNESS, ALL MIST AND RAIN.”
This takes a few plays to get through, but once you’re in, there are many delights. The opening lyrics of On Her Own begin with “What double lines I must have been crossing/Between the bold awakening and the asleep”, and the 13 songs are full of Clark’s Dylan-inspired poetry: harnessed, unlike Dylan himself, to the service of pure emotion. The predominant mood is downbeat, with observations of city scenes and elemental images adding depth to intimate scenarios of miscommunication, separation, love affairs gone wrong. The eight tracks from the acetate offer variations of pace on the basic theme. Past Tense is a good rocker that could easily have fitted on his first solo album, with a scenario not too distant from You’re Gonna Lose That Girl. Past My Door begins in abjection – “Well I didn’t intend to linger at your door” – before picking up speed and spacing out – “Took a walk with you/The clouds were blue on the bottom and white on the top” – and resolving in an instrumental coda. Dominated by a strange rolling drum pattern, That’s Alright By Me is another walk-out song. Its dolorous tones are lightened by a melodic chorus line and one of the sessions’ more developed arrangements, with a dynamic group performance sweetened by strings. Alone of these songs, it would be revisited in February 1968 in Clark’s first session after signing to A&M. That’s Alright… segues into the fast, switchback melody of One Way Road, a welcome paradox of up-tempo sadness that you can only wonder how the Byrds would have enhanced. Down On the Pier is one of the weightier pieces, with a hypnotic chorus line and calliope sounds underpinning a lyric of loneliness and desertion – “The hours I’ve spent on a loneliness spree” – that quotes Heartbreak Hotel and prefigures the feeling of Otis Redding’s Dock Of The Bay: “I’m here down on the pier/But you’re never here/There’s no-one but me.” The most substantial track, 7:30 Mode, is a six-minute epic that points forward to the complexities of No Other. Benefitting from a reasonable production, it was obviously intended as a grand statement. The images flash by with hallucinatory precision and the emotion is sure and true. Clark’s depression at his Byrds experience and lack of subsequent success can be heard in lines such as “He blew until his notes were lent unable/His soul stripped bare to bleed of its remorse/Incredible armada undermined.” The additional songs are from a different, undated session: from their construction and approach, they were recorded before the Sings For You demos. Most are completely acoustic, and worthy of inclusion: the Positively 4th Street acrostic On Tenth Street and the more Beatles-esque Understand Me and A Long Time. The latter and Till Today were given to The Rose Garden and included on their one and only album (also reissued by Omnivore as A Trip Through The Garden). Sings For You is an important issue but not that easy a listen. The less-than-stellar fidelity does not enhance the depressive mood of compositions such as Yesterday Am I Right. The impression given is that, despite all his fame and fortune – symbolised by his chocolate brown Porsche, once owned by Steve McQueen – Gene Clark was a depressive, solitary man who was unable to shrug off career disappointments, but was compelled to revisit them in the repetitious cycle prefigured here.
Michael Ochs Archive
The ﬁrst ofﬁcial release of the former Byrd’s legendary 1967 demos takes us straight to the heart of his wilderness years. By Jon Savage.
Cast adrift in 1967: Gene Clark circa Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers.
★★★★ African Scream Contest 2 ANALOG AFRICA. CD/DL/LP
1970s Benin was home some of the most rema electric grooves ever.
Analog Africa has been unearthing floor-filling treasure from ’70s Africa for more than a decade, and none more explosive than 2008’s African Scream Contest. In revealing the impact of James Brown’s funk on Benin’s already dizzying mix of ancestral Vodoun (voodoo) rhythms, highlife, Cuban son and French chanson, this masterclass in the hypnotic power of syncopation sat easily alongside the more familiar Can and electric Miles Davis titles. The early-’70s rarity by Les Sympathics De Porto-Novo that introduces this second volume maintains the high standard – deep, gnarly funk enriched with dirty horns, spidery guitar and wheezing Farfisa. As befits the title, there’s much yelping throughout, though it’s the rich voices and rollover rhythms, enhanced by unfussy, upfront ’70s production that are the stars here. Mark Paytress
The Gun Club
★★★ Mother Juno COOKING VINYL. CD/LP
Comeback fourth album from Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid Congo Powers. The Gun Club split after 1984’s The Las Vegas Story only to return in 1987 with a reconfigured line-up – Jeffrey Lee Pierce reunited with Kid Congo Powers, drummer Nick Sanderson and bassist and JLP’s girlfriend Romi Mori.
Deep, gnarly funk: Les Sympathics De Porto-Novo.
The result, Mother Juno, recorded in Berlin’s Hansa Studios with producer Robin Guthrie, still sounds fantastical today, though this no-frills reissue – no deluxe packaging or linernotes – could be much improved. Tracks range from the punk-blues signature rocking of Bill Bailey and Thunderhead to the glimmery The Breaking Hands, which betrays Guthrie’s imprint in its gossamer textures. The group are at their best, though, when delivering Pierce’s strangulating love/ drug songs. “Eyes are gone, you’re complaining, and then screaming at the ceiling,” he sings on Yellow Eyes, his heartbreak croon accompanied by Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld’s spectral slide. Lois Wilson
in the mid ’80s, which is where this multi-disc trawl kicks in, describing his dual modus operandi as making “music that stands still and paintings that move”. Much here conforms to that becalmed, immersive ambient stereotype, whether it’s the somnolent tonal drift of Surbahar Sleeping Music or the doleful, bell-like murmurings of I Dormienti. There are also several darker, more granular essays, like the lengthy,curiously disquieting accompaniment to 77 Million Paintings. Indeed, much of the later, generative-derived material (especially that gathered on the Imaginary Installations disc) errs toward spare, sombre dissonance – which, divorced from any sense of the visual, makes for a somewhat arid listening experience. David Sheppard
Evan Parker/ Derek Bailey/ Han Bennink
★★★★ The Topography Of The Lungs OTOROKU/INCUS. LP
★★★ Music For Installations UMC. CD/DL/LP
Deluxe box set of the ambient eminence’s vi art accompaniments. Arguably the quintessential British art school musician, Brian Eno has spent almost half a century inculcating popular music with conceptual approaches often drawn from the visual avantgarde. He picked up his own, installation-based art practice
Essential vinyl reissue a British improv landm In H.G. Wells’ 1901 story The New Accelerator, two men ingest an elixir which speeds up their physiological processes, allowing them to move at great speed, while observing the world in slow motion. Something of their experiment is suggested by this remarkable 1970 collaboration between guitarist Bailey, saxophonist Parker and drummer Han Bennink. The debut release on the Incus label Parker and Bailey set up with Tony Oxley, The Topography Of The Lungs finds guitarist
and saxophonist bending classical and free jazz ghosts into ectoplasmic improv noise. Moving rapidly, yet minute and intricate in detail, both men brutalised forward by Bennink’s merciless percussion, the effect is of scholarly dialogue becoming punch-up; complex equations for wild explosions. Part of the Cafe Oto and Honest Jon’s labels reissue of every Incus release on digital and vinyl, this is the place to start. Andrew Male
★★★★ Planet Mod: Brit Soul, R&B And Freakbeat From The Shel Talmy Vaults BIG BEAT. CD/LP/DL
First in a series collatin the Who/Kinks produc rare and unissued wor Last year’s Making Time: A Shel Talmy Production collected the US producer’s direct hits. Now we get the odds and sods, with 14 of the 24 tracks here previously unissued. A demo take on The New Breed’s Unto Us is a more raw, spiky and far superior version of their 1965 Brit R&B flipside. Likewise, a club jazz reworking of Bowie’s Take My Tip by B movie actor/singer Kenny Miller eclipses Miller’s issued version from the same year. Goldie And The Gingerbreads excel on an early runthrough of B-side The Skip, a fantastic organ-grinder swing led by Margo Crocitto with Nicky Hopkins in toe. The Soul Brothers’ Goodbye So Long provides another gem. Delicious heartbreak harmony soul from the US/Trinidadian duo, it’s another one that sadly got away. Lois Wilson
Svein Finnerud Trio
★★★ Plastic Sun ODIN. CD/DL/LP
Spirited Norwegian ja landmark sees the ligh Plastic Sun was originally issued in 1970 by the Swedish label Sonet, as at that point there were few outlets for jazz albums in the Svein Finnerud Trio’s home country of Norway. Its reissue by the Norwegian Jazz Federation’s own imprint confirms Plastic Sun’s centrality to the topography of Nordic jazz. The second album by the trio – Finnerud (piano; he died in 2000), Bjørnar Andresen (vocals, bass; he died in 2004), Espen Rud (drums) – hopscotches across styles. Notwithstanding overt use of prepared piano, a cover of Ornette Coleman’s Dee Dee is played relatively straight, while deconstructions of Annette Peacock’s Cartoon and Touching are reassembled coherently. Andresen’s linear album opener Bernhard nods to Paul Bley, and Finnerud’s Parelius N evinces a cartoonish absurdity. Each and every voice of this playful album evokes where music was, and where it would go. Kieron Tyler
★★★★ Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris DUST TO DIGITAL. CD/DL
Three audio discs, one video, plus hardbound book from premier archivist label. Bill Ferris began recording songs of locals near Vicksburg, Mississippi as a teen in the civil rights era; he’d later lead the National Endowment For The Humanities. This survey of his collecting assembles work from artists such as guitarist and sculptor James ‘Son Ford’ Thomas and bottle-blower Louis Dotson. Walter Lee Hood’s voice soars over the accompaniment from fellow Parchman Farm penitentiary inmates. Their backing on the gospel Home On High likely has its roots in work songs, but its trance-like quality also suggests blues outside the Delta. Mary and Amanda Gordon remind us that it’s somewhat unusual to hear two female voices singing American church music together: no men, no children, no choir. When they call on God “so my enemies cannot harm me” you have to wonder what that felt like in the South of 1967. Chris Nelson
Exile from E Street The Boss’s LA Years in a 10-disc vinyl box. By Keith Cameron.
★★★ The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996
Western hero: Bruce goes Cali.
DURING THE summer of 1992, Bruce Springsteen played an amphitheatre in Germany. His new band were pumping, and 60,000 fans were loving it. Or most of them. From the stage, Springsteen spotted a lone figure high on the green hill at the arena’s edge, holding up a sign that said, simply: “E Street.” This box set is probably not for that guy. During 1987-1989, Bruce Springsteen first marginalised, then walked away from the E Street Band, the New Jersey misfits around which he’d woven so much of the mythology which sustained him through his early-’70s lean period and eventually powered him to superstardom. At this point, for many good reasons, Springsteen wanted to be elsewhere, be someone else – and to play with different people. And although the final element in this heavyweight package sees him reunited with his old comrades, suggesting a neat redemptive story arc, the reality was more complex. 1987’s Tunnel Of Love was the newly married
★★★ Mixed Up & Mixed Up Extras 2018 UMC. CD/DL/LP
1990 remix set expanded with 16 newies. Unlike most artists of his evolutionary rigour, Robert Smith has energetically engaged in the process of ‘deluxe-editioning’. Whether out of benevolence or controlfreakery, he has remastered iconic albums, laid bare his processes via copious demos, and even contextualised it all in his own linernotes. Here, he goes further, remastering the original Mixed Up, collating Disc Two’s rare/unheard rejigs from 1982-90, and delivering a third disc of his own freshly cooked remixes, aka Torn Down – the first ‘new’ Cure music in 10 years. Where 1990’s recasting of big tunes as proto-trip hop
Springsteen’s relationship crisis album – assuredly not what Columbia Records were hoping for after Born In The USA. Bruce recorded every part himself, then reluctantly invited each E Street Band member to improve on his efforts. They are barely present. Despite the sterile production, it’s a vivid portrayal of personal torment, with great songs: the title track, Tougher Than The Rest and Brilliant Disguise. Given what happened next – Springsteen got divorced, broke up the E Street Band, moved to California and started a family with new wife Patti Scialfa – 1992’s simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town make sense: the work of a man focused on changing nappies or seeing his therapist, rather than playing with a succession of hi-calibre LA session cats. Who knows if the E Street Band could have improved
(Close To Me) and even indiedance (Never Enough) sounds woefully dated, this time he’s carefully swerved such foreseeably obsolescent genre exercises, preferring a more timeless tech-deconstructivism. Recherché selections such as The Drowning Man (off ’81’s Faith) acquire a David Lynchian stateliness. Not as much fun, for sure, but a safer bet in the long run. Andrew Perry
Shina Williams & His African Percussionists
heaven for cowbell and conga addicts – while horns sections that include trumpeters Big John and Papa Okokon Udofia and sax players Fuzzy Gbagi and Brother Humphrey take turns to blow terrific solos. The killer cut is Cunny Jam Wayo, a peerless masterpiece of Nigerian funk that opens with Williams trying to sort out a dispute with his all-female chorus and ends with arguably Tunde Williams’ greatest trumpet solo. Original pressings fetch £400 these days. A bargain, quite frankly, if you don’t like reissues. David Hutcheon
MR BONGO. CD/LP
Three-track Nigerian boogie classic.
BEAR FAMILY. CD
Although it’s Agboju Logun that became a club hit – Earthworks remixed it in 1984, Strut reissued that and the 1979 version last year this first re-release of the full album by Lagos-based Williams highlights how fierce his all-star ensemble was. It’s the rhythm section that holds everything together – very
The ‘Songs And Sound America’s Forgotten on 4-CDs plus book. Following 2010’s Next Stop Is Vietnam, compiler Hugo Keesing turns his forensic attention to documenting the often-overlooked Korean conflict that started in June 1950 and ended three years later. Divided into four self-
on emotionally hollowed out fare like Man’s Job or Real World? On tour, the ‘Other Band’ breathed some life into the new material, but as In Concert/MTV Plugged confirms, the sacred texts were better served by E Street’s idiosyncrasies. The live album does at least feature Red Headed Woman, a frank account of down-time chez Scialfa-Springsteen. When it came to bands, however, maybe Bruce was coming around to the opinion of that German guy with the sign. In January 1995, he summoned the old gang and hashed out some new songs (four on 1996’s Blood Brothers EP, included here). The restored soul is palpable. Springsteen’s next album reasserted his status as moral compass for the soul of America: the austere acoustic songs of The Ghost Of Tom Joad lay bare the injustice suffered by migrant workers along the Mexico-US border. Bruce was back, and he would never leave home again.
descriptive sections (Going To War Again, Somewhere In Korea, On The Homefront, Peace And Its Legacies), Keesing weaves archival news reports around 121 country, blues, pop, folk, bluegrass and gospel nuggets by names including Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Boy Crudup, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Merle Travis, Louvin Brothers and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The emotional gamut veers between upbeat patriotism, ‘Dear John’ letters, battlefield desperation and grief, with obscurities like Jackie Doll & His Pickled Peppers’ When They Drop The Atomic Bomb among the many priceless moments. Monumental, and now worryingly relevant. Kris Needs
compilation is immaculate, with the four LPs wrapped in gorgeous picture sleeves with US-style stick-on backs and housed in a lavish 12-inch box. The 45 demos, versions and shelved songs collected, meanwhile, hint at the possible alternate histories for the quintessential girl group, had Gordy seen fit. Early tracks – You Can Depend On Me, acknowledged as their first ever recording; Tears Of Sorrow, Because I Love Him – reveal an incredibly soulful harmony trio. Too Hot and a cover of I Saw Her Standing There, the latter intended for their 1964 A Bit Of Liverpool album, place Florence Ballard centre-stage, and are raw, rowdy R&B. A 1968 dramatic take on Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone with Norman Whitfield suggests psychedelic potential. Lois Wilson
Diana Ross And The Supremes
★★★★ Supreme Rarities 1960-1969 THIRD MAN. LP
Fab debut vinyl edition of 2008’s Hip O-Select CD. The presentation of this firsttime-on-vinyl rarities
Glam racket: Zuider Zee, dandies in their private underworld.
Lost at zee Ill-fated Memphis powerpoppers re-emerge after 43 years. By Will Hodgkinson.
★★★★ Zeenith LIGHT IN THE ATTIC. CD/DL/LP
ZUIDER ZEE must have seemed a safe bet. Four friends with a deep love of The Beatles and a
road-tested work ethic, their sound combined the melodic sophistication of the Fabs, the rock’n’roll passion of Big Star and the cosmic dancing of T.Rex. CBS duly hyped Zuider Zee as capable of filling some Lennon-and-McCartney-sized shoes, but the Memphis-based band’s self-titled 1975 album came and went without a trace. Listening to this collection of earlier, previously unreleased recordings, from the wild, Wings-like Haunter Of The Darkness to the ELOtinged epic rock of After The Shine’s Gone, you wonder: why wasn’t this band huge? At the very least it should have been a beloved cult concern, along the lines of Sparks and Cheap Trick. As it turns out, bad luck and bad timing stopped Zuider Zee in their tracks.
funky kick-off, Dominus Tecum zigzags between a marching refrain and ethereal verses. Mia is ‘70s lounge-deluxe with extra cheese. Mastered from the best available vinyl copy, there are some glitchy moments sonically (eg, Detalhes), but it beats shelling out for an original. Jim Irvin
MR BONGO. CD/DL/LP
Stellar, super-rare and bootlegged Brazilian item, officially released at last. Like Peter Gabriel, strident Brazilian singer Célia Regina Cruz, who died last year, began her career, confusingly, with four self-titled albums. Only one, the second, from 1972, currently fetches north of £300 for a decent copy. The reason? It’s a delight with an all-star cast: Marcos Valle, Erasmo Carlos, Jobim etc. Twelve tunes in 32 minutes, produced and arranged by the fashionable Arthur Verocai, including Na Boca Do Sol, the mellow highlight of his own solo album, repurposed in a prowling, brassy version that packs a different punch. A Hora É Essa is an energising
Places and Let Off Sump blasting by, with bass and synth to the fore; disc two starts with dubs of the Mighty Diamonds’ The Root Is There, shifts to spectacular dubs of Big Youth’s Screaming Target, and then adds thematic dubs of the ‘70s, while disc three augments the Black Foundation Dub and Dread At The Controls Dub sets with more bonus tracks. David Katz
Dub Anthology MUSIC WORKS. CD
Limited-edition b diverse dubs from JA producer.
t of iling
Gussie Clarke is one of Jamaica’s most renowned record producers. Having scored hit material with Big Youth, I Roy and Dennis Brown in the early 1970s, he never lost steam in the years to follow, garnering incredible success with digital dancehall too. This 3-CD box set collects over 70 dub tracks from his lengthy career, and although presented in haphazard fashion, the material really delights. Disc one runs the gauntlet of various phases, with hits like Unexpected
Singer/songwriter Richard Orange and drummer Gary Bertrand, friends since high school in Lafayette, Louisiana, earned their stripes in the Sergeant Pepper-like Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band. Then, in 1971 the music entrepreneur Lelan Rogers flew in by private plane to talk 16-year-old Orange into moving to Jackson, Mississippi and leading the house band at BJ’s, a nightclub Rogers co-owned with the singer BJ Thomas. When Rogers subsequently moved to Memphis he took Orange and his gang with him, where they lived in poverty-stricken squalor and survived, according to the singer, by taking “lots of acid for about six months to a year”. They became Zuider Zee and developed a florid style with shades of The Kinks and Bowie, which didn’t go down too well on the Southern rock circuit the band found themselves on. One can only imagine what the greasy denim crowd made of Lancelot’s Theme, with its medieval flute and words of courtly love. With concerts proving an unrewarding slog, especially after Richard Orange was crippled in pain with a herniated disc in May 1974, hope was pinned on the debut, but by the time of its release CBS had lost nterest. The album received no advertising or radio support and, despite words of praise from Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, sank without trace. A year later bassist John Bonar was sacked for borrowing the tour van to see a girlfriend, where he was attacked by two criminals who stole all of the band’s equipment. A subsequent new line-up supported the Sex Pistols in Memphis in January 1978 – “Sid Vicious stumbling around out of his gourd… all very unremarkable,” remembers Orange – but the dream was over. What we are left with is this unearthed treasure trove, where ‘60s garage band innocence meets ‘70s virtuoso rocking in a most delightful way.
through 1964. They wisely adopted a hands-off policy and allowed Simone room to produce herself. Her template was a perfect, eclectic taste in material ranging from jazz, folk, show tunes, standards and R&B coupled with a deep background in classical music (particularly made manifest in her piano playing). Above all, her poignant, heartbreaking vocal embodied the blues. It can be a cliché to note this, but nobody sounded like Nina. Highlights include Ellington’s I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good), the infectiously rhythmic foot-stomper Little Liza Jane and her own salaciously slow and sly composition I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl. Michael Simmons
The Colpix Singles STATESIDE. CD/DL/LP
Proof that Nina Simone knew her strengths from the beginning. Between her debut on Bethlehem Records and later classics with Philips and RCA, Nina Simone was signed to Colpix Records from 1959
Yiddish Glory – The Lost Songs Of World War II SIX DEGREES. CD/DL
Written in the 1940s, rediscovered in the 1990s. The 18 tracks here were written during 1939-45 by Jewish non-professionals, including soldiers, prisoners in
concentration camps and inhabitants of the ghettos, yet they were never expected to be heard, and Stalin’s post-war purges meant they were confiscated, presumed lost forever. Rediscovered in Ukraine five decades later, however, they turned out to be a treasure of on-the-ground reportage, letters to the front line and eye-witness accounts of atrocities. Recorded for the first time with a klezmer supergroup (featuring Trio Loyko, Sergei Erdenko and Sophie Milman, among others), the lyrics have been fitted to tunes from a variety of sources, including popular folk melodies that could have inspired the writers. The horrors in some of the lyrics are often anything but obvious, although the kicking that Hitler gets in On The High Mountain leaps joyfully across the language barrier. David Hutcheon
VINYL PACKAGE OF THE MONTH Black Box Recorder
★★★★ Life Is Unfair ONE LITTLE INDIAN. CD+DVD
Box set of their three s albums, plus rarities d 2008 concert DVD.
As unmistakably English, in their way, as Nick Drake, Black Box Recorder ladled ennui, disillusionment and knowing black comedy over kitchen sink drama; the clipped and perfect enunciation of all-important frontwoman Sarah Nixey evoking Jenny Agutter in need of Valium. Life Is Unfair reminds us of their unique flair for the pop song as case study, perfectly exemplified by Child Psychology and their rather more chipper nod to Wham!’s lesscelebrated partner, Andrew Ridgeley. With hindsight, they just occasionally sound like a joke or a dare pushed too far, but School Song’s daft roll call of teacher-speak clichés still tickles, and pop has rarely been so smart or subversive. Refreshing, too, to learn that Luke Haines, John Moore and Nixey called time because none of them could be arsed being in a band any more. James McNair
★★★★ The Words In Between EARTH. CD/DL/LP
1971 debut album fro overlooked UK guitari Evans was a mainstay of the 1970s folk scene, and although he seems to keep slipping from public memory, his fluid fingerpicking put him up with the likes of Jansch,
Drama-funk: The O’Jays at Cleveland’s Saru label.
Renbourn, Ralph McTell and Michael Chapman. Originally released on Ian A. Anderson’s The Village Thing label, this album was recorded on a Revox reel-to-reel, giving it an unadorned and intimate feel. While it would work as a series of standalone guitar pieces, the only instrumental is the scintillating Insanity Rag. Evans is a fine songwriter and the way his guitar lines coil around the vocal melodies is delicious, his warm reassuring voice occasionally backed by Adrienne Webber. There are love songs and pithy observations, particularly the bittersweet tales of the titular character’s romantic liaisons on Rosie, while City Road carries a Nick Drake-like sense of melancholy. Mike Barnes
returned by the barrowful. From there, however, the horn player uncovered something far deeper, a truly spiritual, political mood that meant his 1970s output still thrills. If the hits don’t keep on coming, his interpretation of You Keep Me Hangin’ On contains as many reasons to pause and think as the glorious Stimela (Coal Train), from 1974’s never re-released I Am Not Afraid, here in its entirety. David Hutcheon
You’ve Got The Power: The Complete 1956-1962 Federal & King Singles NEW CONTINENT. CD
Brown sets the control soul and funk on 3-CD
★★★ ’66-‘76 WRASSE. CD/DL
Masterful collection remembering a jazz crusader. Though the sleevenotes acknowledge the South African’s passing in January, this is clearly no fast-buck cash-in; Masekela and longtime compadre Stewart Levine together picked 47 tracks from 11 albums released in a decade that encompassed jazz, soul, pop and roots: hitting the high spots when Grazing In The Grass, the single from 1968’s The Promise Of A Future made Number 1; reaching a commercial nadir when the following year's brilliantly harrowing Masekela was
For Brown, 1956 to ’62 was a period of finding his voice – nine consecutive flops that mined Little Richard, The Drifters – but also unprecedented innovation. Please, Please, Please, Try Me and Think were pivotal in the development of R&B, soul and funk respectively. At the same time, he was also performing unabatedly, debuting at the Apollo in 1959, recording live there in ’62 – studio versions of I'll Go Crazy, Night Train and I Don’t Mind from his set provide more highpoints – and the Famous Flames line-up was consolidated, with leader JC Davis and Bobby Byrd. Despite this, label boss Syd Nathan still didn’t believe, and the closer (Do The) Mashed Potato was issued under the pseudonym Nat Kendrick And The Swans on Henry Stone’s Dade label. When it hit, Nathan stepped up, moving Brown from Federal to his flagship King label. Lois Wilson
utside France, Gall may always be the naïf associated with Les Sucettes, Serge Gainsbourg’s tribute to oral sex, yet when it comes to relaying teenage life in the 1960s, her work with bandleader Alain Goraguer stands comparison with The Crystals or Helen Shapiro. Between her Eurovision win in 1965 and 1968, when pop turned serious, few captured the teen beat as infectiously. Following her death in January, Universal is revisiting her LPs, and Baby Pop, from 1966, should be in every yé-yé fan’s collection. Opening with the title track, one of Gainsbourg’s earliest Jamaican excursions, it sweeps from strident drama (Mon Bateau De Nuit, Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges) to universal cri de coeur (C’est Pas Facile D’Etre Une Fille). DH
The Time live in an all-star band with Miles Davis at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival. Charles Waring
★★★★ Eccentric Soul: The Saru Label
Gerry Mulligan And Thelonious Monk
★★★★ Mulligan Meets Monk POLL WINNERS. CD
Rare ‘57 alignment of stars from opposite ends of the jazz universe. Recorded in August 1957 for Riverside Records, this was the only studio collaboration between Monk, the so-called ‘High Priest Of Bop’ and Gerry Mulligan, a leading light of the West Coast ‘cool’ jazz sound. Though their respective styles – Monk was prone to angular melodies and dissonant harmonies, while Mulligan’s baritone sax was smooth and lyrical – seemed diametrically opposed, the pair found common ground in the studio and immediately gelled. Mulligan navigates the tricky melodies of Monk’s classic tunes Round Midnight and Straight No Chaser with nonchalant ease, while Monk adds his own unique stylistic touches to the saxophonist’s upbeat tune Decidedly. Alternate takes of four of the album’s six tunes are included, as well as Mulligan and Monk playing Charlie Parker’s Now’s
Top-notch soul obscurities, from a label best known for its O’Jays association. From 1970 to ’72 Saru, a tiny Cleveland label, issued 19 singles, all collected here. There was no house style. Instead, the A&R team – including The O’Jays’ Bobbys Massey and Dukes – signed everything from sublime vocal harmony to raw bluesy soul. In the former camp, the Out Of Sights deliver For The Rest Of My Life. In the latter, David Peoples’ Got To Get My Broom Out presents an expressive singer with sadly unfulfilled potential. Michael Bell, a vocalist in the mould of The Temptations’ Eddie Kendricks, contributes Can’t Make It Without You. The O’Jays, meanwhile, blueprint their future Philly sound with the drama-funk of Shattered Man. Lois Wilson
CHERRY RED. CD/DL
With its tricky drum fills and new boy Gary Moore’s knotty guitar solos, the Brit jazz fusioneers’ War Dance swam upstream against the tide of punk in ‘77, and now suggests an ale-drinking, home-grown version of Weather Report. MB
On posh vinyl, the newlytrepanned Cope fully set out his stall here in 1991, with ace tunes to burn. Also available on renewed wax, his other major label albums from 1987 to 1992’s Jehovahkill, which is also vital. IH
LA, Memphis And Tyler, Texas
Leavin’ Your Homework Undone
BEAR FAMILY. LP
1969: rockabilly lifer grapples with Southern soul, blues and garage, corrals Ry Cooder, James Burton and The Memphis Horns across the titular cities and creates a funky roots freakout session. JM
A fourth set of previously unreleased recordings by the Southern soul writer, spanning 1968-1971. While few live up to opener I Got A Feeling, even Jones’s demos confirm his way with a hook. CP
Ipan In Xiktli Metztli
The Blue Notebooks
MR BONGO. CD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON. CD/LP
1981 recordings by Mexico City psych-rocker-turnedmusicologist Pérez, who blends native Mexican instruments with electronics across four hypnotic, shrill, fascinating and frequently bonkers-sounding suites. CP
Contemporary classical composer’s 2004 album sees his piano and organ subtlety interwoven with strings and Tilda Swinton readings of Kafka. A second disc of remixes and alternative versions bring extra meditative loveliness. CP
Live In Kyoto 1978
DRAG CITY. CD/LP
CHERRY RED. CD
Genteel roistering from the acoustic maestro in a Japanese coffee house. American and British vernacular folk sits alongside mildly deranged Elizabethan workouts; all united by Renbourn’s easy, open-hearted virtuosity. JM
Punk is dead, long live punk: so said Discharge, Subhumans, and their primitive ilk amid the Thatcherised grimzone that was 1980-83 UK. The absence of Crass aside, this definitive 4-CD, 113-track box set is a blast of hope in the dark. CP
Family, stoned Kid-funk and so-called psychedelic soul in the early ‘70s. By Jim Irvin
Power dressing: The Temptations emerge from their psychedelic shack.
he Sylvers, 10 siblings born in the Watts district of LA from 1951 to 1966 – nine of whom, at one time or another, have played in the band that bears their name – while best known for R&B smash Boogie Fever cut for Capitol Records, had earlier made records for small label Pride. The most sought after is Sylvers II (Mr Bongo, 1973) ★★★, all whipped-cream pop-soul and proto-funk breaks, and written mostly by eldest brother Leon Sylvers III. Not as slick as The Jacksons – the vocals aren’t always on point – but that adds to its charm. Also from 1973 and on Mr Bongo, 11-year-old brother Foster’s solo album, Foster Sylvers ★★★, went after some Michael Jackson action. Though Foster’s a shade squeakier than MJ, lead-off single Misdemeanour is a wonk-funk delight. However, a crack at Mockingbird, with a wayward recorder solo, takes some digesting, and an ambitious medley of Paul McCartney’s Uncle Albert, Lullaby and Hey Jude goes off the rails. Five albums produced by Norman Whitfield for The Temptations are back through Elemental Music, starting with 1969’s Puzzle People ★★★, a style-update in the time of Sly Stone with smash hit I Can’t Get Next To You and Message From A Black Man which,
“A WAYWARD RECORDER SOLO TAKES SOME DIGESTING."
despite being a radio favourite, was thought by the band to be too politically strong to perform live. Whitfield placing these socialconscience songs at a tangent to the Temps’ self-image and slick contemporary stage act meant these albums were more his than theirs. 1970’s Psychedelic Shack ★★★, a mistimed shout-out to the hippy crowd, led to this era being termed ’psychedelic soul’. Sociological soul might be closer, as Whitfield and writer Barrett Strong delved into topics as un-stoned as Vietnam, ghetto poverty and keeping up with the Joneses. On 1971’s Sky’s The Limit ★★★★, Smiling Faces Sometimes is a dub-like whirlpool of vocals and extended musical passages, while 1972’s Solid Rock ★★★★, the overlooked first album with Dennis Edwards and Richard Street in the lineup, delivers a great extended take on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine in the vein of Isaac Hayes, and the cool but timelocked Stop The War Now. Here’s Whitfield perfecting the formula that will lead to the epic Papa Was A Rolling Stone later in 1972. Whitfield went all-in on 1973’s Masterpiece ★★★. But the beautifully-played title track feels slightly uninspired, as does a sequel to Papa… called Ma. Each of these albums has moments of riveting invention. It’s a shame Whitfield couldn’t have condensed their ideas into a couple of superb records over the period instead of having to churn out several albums per year.
Three Six Nine! The Best Of Shirley Ellis
An Introduction To
CHERRY RED. CD/DL/LP
From the sassy ‘60s pop-soul writer of The Clapping Song fame, these 24-tracks suggest a more melodious variety. Weirdest: hydrogen-bomb warning Christmas song You Better Be Good, World. JB
Created amid chaos in 1997, here is skewed pop, deranged covers, murky noise and confounding sensitivity – bassist Steve Hanley mused that it took in all of the group’s past incarnations. Disc two adds more essential thoughttransference from MES. IH
Three-disc expansion of Chorley’s most future-thinking man’s 1980 debut. Ballardian and depersonalised, this allelectronic collection still sends shivers, as do the acres of extras (sample titles: Terminal Zone, Fragmentary City and The Uranium Committee).IH
Two-disc, 20th anniversary ed of Shirley and co’s alt-rock megalith. Brutally streamlined, digital power-pop; immediately melodic and lyrically provocative, you either loathed it or loved it, and still will. Sounds less harsh in digitally attuned times. JB
Excellent 14-track initiation to the great Scottish folk singer, emphasising his politicised anger and lyricism, as well as acoustic and electric guitar skills. Spanning the ’70s-00s, standouts include his antinationalist anthem Both SIdes Of The Tweed. KC
The Monochrome Set
Live In Vienna, 2016
Lady In Waiting
FLOATING WORLD. CD/DL
The Complete Capitol Singles: 1967-1970
Last year’s Live In Chicago… was an official bootleg, run from the soundboard, but this show, mixed from the multi-track, is an official live album. The result: same brilliant playing, but higher-fi and with an extra CD. MBa
Four CDs: her two Virgin albums, 1989’s Kite and 1991’s Electric Landlady, plus two discs of B-sides and remixes and DVD of video promo. All showcase MacColl’s harmonic gift, as adept at jangle pop as post-modern country. CP
CHERRY RED. CD
Floridian sextet’s 1976 second album straddled Southern rock and country. Think: the Eagles with marginally more guitar solos, while the nineminute-plus Freeborn Man suggests a jazzier riposte to Skynyrd’s Freebird. MB
Hornsey indie pop pioneers’ third from 1982, with 1986 live album Fin, and extras including the ’79-’82 singles. But how much winsome, clever PG Wodehouse pop can you take? DE
Teak-tough country charttoppers from the Baron of Bakersfield, whose “freight train” sound influenced Gram Parsons. Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass certainly has an ear cocked to them Byrds. DE
Eric Clapton: Life In 12 Bars OST
Paris In The Spring
Compiled by Saint Etienne’s Stanley and Wiggs, ’68-75 French pop after the tumult of 1968: the likes of Nino Ferrer, Polnareff, dirty Serge and more bring movie strings, funky breaks, optimism and trepidation. Merveilleux! IH
The soundtrack to the recent documentary meshes benchmark Clapton hits with the blues songs which inspired them – plus another outing for The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. MB
Beside Bowie OST
On double vinyl, their most underrated album, with haunted songs like Mofo and Wake Up Dead Man in no way cheapened by the ’97 dance stylings. Darker than you remember – and how good is Last Night On Earth? DE
Miserly 14-track comp squishes Mick Ronson’s work with Bowie, Elton, Hunter etc. Solos on Michael Chapman’s Soulful Lady astound. But two tracks from the Freddie Mercury Tribute is excessive and two don’t feature Ronson at all. DE
Anderson, Marisa Armatrading, Joan Arthur Buck Beat, The Black Box Recorder Blood Wine Or Honey Bonet, Kadhja Brown, James Case, Neko Célia Clark, Gene Clarke, Gussie Cook, Phil Cure, The Eno, Brian Evans, Dave Fantastic Negrito Father John Misty Gall, France Gang Gang Dance Group Listening Grouper Gun Club, The Halo Maud Hassell, John Howlin’ Rain Johnson, Wilko Jurado, Damien Kidjo, Angelique LaMontagne, Ray Last Poets, The Lattimore, Mary Let’s Eat Grandma Lewis, Jeffrey Lump Mamas Gun Marr, Johnny Masekela, Hugh Mehldau, Brad Melody’s Echo Chamber Monáe, Janelle
91 93 89 93 107 96 91 107 88 106 102 106 89 105 104 107 96 89 107 95 91 95 104 91 94 8 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 96 93 93 88 107 94 95 88
Monk, Thelonious & Mulligan, Gerry 107 Nas 94 Near Future 95 Onyx Collective 94 Parker, Evan 104 Picture Palace Music 91 Prass, Natalie 86 Rhys, Gruff 90 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever 92 Rush, Tom 88 Saxophones, The 89 Shaw, Shannon 92 Simone, Nina 106 Sleep 88 Snow Patrol 96 Springsteen, Bruce 105 Supremes, The 105 Svein Finnerud Trio 104 Temptations, The 96 TT 92 Tuluum Shimmering 91 Twain 92 Vari Af i
Contest 104 Various: Battleground Korea 105 Various: Planet Mod 104 Various: The Saru Label 107 Various: Voices Of Mississippi 104 Vynhall, Leon 95 Warmduscher 96 Washington, Kamasi 94 Waterson, Norma & Carthy, Eliza 90 Williams, Shina 105 Williamson, Jess 90 Woods, Hilary 95 Yiddish Glory 106 Zuider Zee 106 COMING NEXT MONTH Jim James (pictured), Ray Davies, The Rolling Stones, The The, Olivia Chaney, Dawes, The Alarm, Swing Out Sister, Buffalo Springfield PiL
Jim James: his new solo album Uniform Distortion is noteworthy.
Winging It This month’s exhumed sonic reliquary: velvet, Lethean pop for ravers coming down.
One Dove Morning Dove White
Wildlife on one: One Dove in 1992 (from left): Jim McKinven, Dot Allison and Ian Carmichael; (below) spangled and enjoying himself, Andrew Weatherall.
BOY’S OWN RECORDINGS, 1993
n album that soundtracked the end of the acid house honeymoon – for the few that loved it – had a suitably decadent beginning. “I was playing at a club in Rimini as part of some Balearic charabanc,” remembers DJ/producer Andrew Weatherall of a night in 1991, “and at about 6am when it ﬁnished, the owner opened up the back of the club onto the beach and said we’d be carrying on on his yacht. Not quite a Roman Abramovich super-yacht, but sound enough – and off we went. So there I was, spangled and enjoying the view, and a young lady came up and started singing in my ear. ‘I’m Dorothy Allison and I’ve got a band in Glasgow,’ she said. Then we landed and stumbled back up the beach.” Her band was called Dove a trio of Allison, Jim McKinven (form Altered Images and Berlin B Ian Carmichael (producer a keyboardist for Sarah Reco The Orchids). They’d only r song, Fallen, on Glasgow’s – but that song’s dub space insinuatingly whispered vo harmonica lifted from a Sup record had captured the bi mysteries of the morning a rave better than almost any caused quite a stir. Weathe meanwhile, was on a high i sense, having – despite nex studio experience – just ma shalled Primal Scream into completing their ecstasy-s era-deﬁning Screamadelica With Allison giving up h Glasgow University bioche
“IT WAS THE ANTIDOTE TO THE WAILING DIVA THING.” Andrew Weatherall
degree to work full-time on music, the ﬁrst collaboration to come out of the yacht introduction was reworking Fallen for the renamed One Dove. “I was nervous!” says Carmichael. “Andy [Weatherall] came to my studio in Glasgow and I was late, so he was waiting outside when I got there. I thought he’d be really pissed off, but the reviews for Screamadelica had just come out, so he was reading the papers on the doorstep and was obviously delighted.” The remix happened quickly. “It was instinctive and spontaneous,” says Carmichael. “The whole time I was watching recording levels on my old Revox ¼-inch bouncing into the red, and splicing lots of sections of tape together with shaking hands; it was terrifying for me. I thought the whole thing would be a mess, but when we played it back at the end and heard his version of Fallen it was miraculous.” This quickly developed into a smooth working relationship, the results released on Weatherall and friends’ Boy’s Own Productions. The three would write, send tracks to Weatherall, who brought in associates like Jah Wobble and Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes for embellishment. Surprisingly rapidly, given the fervid times – “I remember next to nothing of the process, I’m afraid,” says Weatherall, “or indeed of those years” – it fell together into an extraordinarily coherent whole “Every song we came up um,” says Carmizing the whole time ogether.” nded the ambient the time with a rich try heartbreak – he group nodded to overed Dolly Parton’s -side for the Why ke Me single – with wreathed in a sonic plementary s softly breathed . “There were no cs,” says Weatherall. he antidote to the diva thing we’d all ed in house music.” a gorgeous, lingering of an album with a eart, and as a
suitable partner for Screamadelica it’s puzzling that it didn’t sell like hot disco biscuits, particularly as Boy’s Own now had the backing of a major label, London. “It’s easy to blame the record label,” says Weatherall, “so let’s do just that. The album came together nice and quickly – if they’d just have put it out, said ‘Here’s a cool new band’ and let them get on with it, one suspects the second album would have been where they got big.” But London kept Morning Dove White in limbo for a year, insisting on more pop mixes of the album’s singles by Stephen Hague. Those single mixes are actually superb, but, as Carmichael says “maybe they put a lot of the hardcore Weatherall fans off.” William Orbit remixed too, sonically preﬁguring his work with Madonna and All Saints. Despite a promising performance from the singles, MDW didn’t become the hit London wanted, and the stress took its toll. The second album – made without Weatherall – was painful, the band’s relationship disintegrated, their “failure to become the new Eurythmics” led to the label shelving the album, and they split in 1996. Allison would go on to record solo, working with Death In Vegas, Pete Doherty and Scott Walker. McKinven still plays and DJs in Glasgow, and has released occasional projects, including the fantastically moody electro guises Organs Of Love and WomenSaid on the connoisseur’s imprint Optimo Music. Carmichael worked with trip-hoppers Lamb for some time, produced Bis and The Pastels, and maintains an ongoing relationship with The Orchids – as well as being a director of the School Of Sound Recording. MDW, a couple of B-sides and some leaked second album demos on Soundcloud are the only remaining monument to their time together: just a glimpse of what might have been, and as such, evocative of the pleasures and regrets of its era. Joe Muggs
Tracks: Fallen / White Love (Guitar Paradise Mix) / Breakdown (Cellophane Boat Mix) / There Goes The Cure / Sirens / My Friend / Transient Truth / Why Don’t You Take Me / White Love (Piano Reprise) Personnel: Dot Allison (vocals, keyboards, programming); Ian Carmichael (keyboards, programming); Jim McKinven (bass, guitar, keyboards, programming). Producers: Andrew Weatherall, One Dove;
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Fela 10 RansomeKuti And His Africa 70 Fela’s London Scene HIS MASTER’S VOICE 1971, DOWNLOAD £7.99
You say: “This is the gateway.” @robvollmar via Twitter The musicians in Fela’s Africa 70 band who arrived in London in 1971 were funkier than the mosquito’s proverbial. Warmed up on the live scene – Ginger Baker made introductions – by the time they moved into Abbey Road studios, they were untouchable, unrecognisable from the group that recorded 1969’s Afrobeat debut, Fela Fela Fela (AKA The LA Sessions). “I’m gonna change the rhythm of this thing, so get ready,” Kuti warns on J’Ehin J’Ehin. A terrific second LP – Live!, recorded in front of 150 guests in Abbey Road – was recorded with Baker helping out on drums.
Fela Kuti The Godfather Of Afrobeat. By David Hutcheon.
Question jam answer man: Fela backstage at his Shrine venue, 1978; (right) with synth in New York in ’86.
ela Kuti recorded more classic albums than The Beatles or almost any other band you care to mention – and he released most of them in a three-year spell (1974-77) when he and his band were living a life of sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and perpetual brutal conﬂict with the Nigerian state. Yes, the friction was a two-way thing, but you’d have got better odds on the Spartans triumphing at Thermopylae. Born into a middle-class family 80 years ago, Kuti was sent to Britain to study medicine in the 1950s, and only turned to music once beyond his mother’s reach. He came of age in London’s jazz clubs, but it wasn’t until a US tour alerted him to the civil rights struggle and the socio-cultural signiﬁcance of black music that he found his niche as a musician. It took a 1970 concert in Lagos by James Brown, however, before Nigerian audiences caught up with Kuti’s blend of funk and African rhythms, but thereafter the decade belonged to him.
“HE WAS JAMES BROWN, HUEY NEWTON, DUKE ELLINGTON… ALL ROLLED UP IN ONE BLACK AFRICAN FIST.” Mos Def
Or should have: a contretemps with the police put Kuti and the authorities at loggerheads, a destructive spiral that would see his home burnt down, many of his 28 (simultaneous) wives raped, his mother killed and Kuti counting the cost of his outspokenness. Admittedly, some of the things he said, did and believed don’t elicit much sympathy now (nor did they then) but, to quote Mos Def: “Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was James Brown, Huey Newton, Rick James, Bob Marley and Ol’ Dirty Bastard all rolled up in one black African ﬁst.” Despite the distractions, his output was prodigious: he and his musicians recorded more than 40 LPs in the 1970s (albeit, usually comprising only one or two extended songs) and continued at a rate of almost three a year until 1991. So you’re going to need a very large space on your shelves.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti And Egypt 80 Underground System STERN’S AFRICA 1992, DOWNLOAD £7.99
You Say: “His last, powerful hurrah... steadfast until the end.” Ryan Howells, via e-mail Against the odds, Kuti’s final album is one of his very best. Twenty years of confrontation had worn him down – his presence at concerts much reduced, he was physically past his best long before AIDS brought about his death in 1997 – the politics and spiritual beliefs of the 1980s had lost him support outside Africa, and the 100-plus touring parties were eating up funds and scaring off promoters. Yet here the years fall away as Fela weaves a polemic tying African corruption to the former colonial powers, and contrasts the thieves in power with great leaders who were being airbrushed from history.
Anikulapo Fela Ransome Fela RansomeFela 980 Félá Kuti & Egypt 8Koola Kuti And His 7 Kuti And 6 Live In Lobitos The Africa 70 Detroit 1986
Fela Ransome5Africa Kuti & The 70
Original Suffer Head LAGOS INTERNATIONAL 1981, KNITTING FACTORY 2010, CD £10.65
You Say: “Power Show is a song for the masses.” @OOyinbowale via Twitter Having lost most of the Africa 70 musicians in 1979-80, Kuti debuted Egypt 80, with baritone saxophonist Lekan Animashaun replacing Tony Allen as bandleader (he’s still there today). Their first album together features two grandly ambitious songs, the title track and Power Show, listing the problems after Nigeria’s wealth was carved up, leaving an African powerhouse adrift in the Third World. The reboot is both seamless and obvious, but the decade would see Fela’s fortunes slide, his energies funnelled into politics, legal and money woes, or sapped by spirituality, drugs and battle scars.
Fela Ransome Kuti And His Koola Lobitos KNITTING FACTORY 2016, £9.01
You Say: “Start from the top.” @Mr_Fola via Twitter In lieu of a definitive collection of Fela’s early singles – some may yet remain undiscovered – this compilation of pre-funk 45s and highlife-via-Afro-jazz LPs is the best example of Kuti’s music prior to his political awakening. Existing between Kuti’s return from studying in London in 1963 and the disastrous – but pivotal – tour of America in 1969, the Koola Lobitos (Cool Cats) made little impact in Nigeria, reputedly because nobody could dance to their Miles Davis stylings. Approached as a stepping stone, however, the roots of the revolution are here for all to see. What was missing was attitude.
STRUT 2012, DOWNLOAD £7.99
EMI 1972, DOWNOAD £6.49
You Say: “Fela out of jail and furious… a blistering live document.” Steve Kramer, via e-mail
EMI NIGERIA 1974, KNITTING FACTORY 2010, CD £15.06
You Say: “Lady made me levitate and first seated Fela among the gods.” @awobu13 via Twitter As the 1970s dawned, Kuti was a prophet with few followers at home: American Black Power statements didn’t resonate in an independent Nigeria looking forward to its oil-rich future. In 1972-73, however, he delivered Shakara and Gentleman. On the latter, he makes fun of suit-wearing Nigerian men; on the former’s Lady, he berates African women for adopting Women’s Lib and expecting men to do the dishes. While his listeners could brush over the misogyny as satire, the interplay between guitars, horns and percussion was irresistible. At last, both Fela and Nigeria club-goers had found out what he could do.
Having spent 18 months in prison, Kuti returned to the international stage in 1986 with a tour of Europe and America that was both a celebration of his excesses and - although it would take a while before it became obvious – the last hurrah. Fortunately, somebody in the crowd at the Fox Theatre recorded the five-song, three-hour set, and the four tracks on which Kuti appears demonstrate the power of Egypt 80. It’s not for the fainthearted (Confusion Break Bones and Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense both require 40 free minutes), but it’s worth concentrating to hear the masterful arrangements.
You Say: “A concept about traffic jams and post-colonial Nigeria… wild.” Derek Hamilton, via e-mail Kuti goes prog. A 25-minute contemplation of the mounting problems of Lagos – traffic chaos was a useful metaphor for many things – Confusion opens with Kuti and Tony Allen improvising on electric keyboards and drums, creating a psychedelic mood forever on the cusp of being shattered by a crack on the snare. After five minutes, guitar and bass set up the groove, underpinning trumpet and tenor sax solos (tenor was Fela’s new thing, having taken it up the year before). Confusion is both Africa 70’s most adventurous and least predictable LP; a battle cry and demonstration of musical prowess.
POLYDOR 1976, DOWNLOAD £6.49
You Say: “It’s the archetypical Fela album – artwork, politics, humour, funk…” Mike Gavin via Facebook From 1974, Fela’s struggles with the authorities became the narrative arc behind his albums: arrests and attacks fuelled his lyrics but also perpetuated the clampdown. For his seventh LP of 1976, Kuti turned on the military, mocking soldiers’ inability to think independently. The results were predictable, with the band’s compound razed, its inhabitants beaten and horrifically abused. Whatever the cost, Zombie is the Africa 70’s finest 12 minutes, galloping along, Fela’s sax to the fore – is there a finer brass workout anywhere? – and the refrain is so catchy you can believe reports stating soldiers were singing it as they burnt down Kuti’s commune, the selfdeclared Kalakuta Republic.
Fela Kuti Anthology 2 WRASSE 2009, CD £14.71
You Say: “A banquet of the Africa 70 band at full throttle… full of references to the danger he put himself in to speak truth in music.” Lou Bernard, via e-mail The biggest selling point of Kuti on CD is that 25-minute tracks are no longer split over two sides, but Fela is best experienced on vinyl – the humour running through Lemi Ghariokwu’s sleeve designs is a huge part of the overall picture. However, this double-CD set rounds up the best of the Africa 70’s peak years (197580) and adds a live show – previously unreleased – from the Berlin Jazz Festival on DVD, and recorded for German television in November 1978, shortly before the band disintegrated, fed up with Kuti’s autocracy and the lack of money they got for all the grief.
Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa 70 Expensive Shit SOUNDWORKSHOP 1975, KNITTING FACTORY CD, 2013 £16.59
You say: “He literally made a classic record out of a bowel movement.” @clare_hill via Twitter Imprisoned on drugs charges in 19 inmates conspired to ensure the au provided with a clean sample and h From the band on fire to the mocki and his topless queens offering cel Power salutes behind barbed wire, joyful snark of the lyrics (as Fela sin about the downside of evacuating his digestive system, the gleeful chorus comes back: “Because the shit dey smell”), it’s Afrobeat heaven. Proving Africa 70 could do deep soul too, Water No Get Enemy on side two ensures pole position.
Albums by Fela’s sidemen started appearing in the 1970s, with Ginger Baker’s Stratavarious and trumpeter Tunde Williams’ Mr Big Mouth worth searching out. Dele Sosimi and Tony Allen keep the flame burning, while sons Femi and Seun have followed in the family tradition. Carlos Moore’s biography Fela: This Bitch Of A Life, for better or worse, couldn’t be more Felaesque, while Trevor Schoonmaker E Veal have pro scholarly works. mentaries fill in aps, even if inevitable: Don’t Teach sense (on ogy 1); Finding which was tied he Broadway sical; and Music he Weapon.
Adrian Boot/urbanimage, Waring Abbott
Fela And Afrika 70 Zombie
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT James Carr said of Dark End Of The Street: “Just sing it the way you talk.” ● Alex Chilton’s last words to his wife were “Run the red light”, as he was rushed to the hospital. ● Ringo once told Jerry Lee Lewis to “shove this record up your butts” after he was kept waiting to play on Lewis’ The Session.
Funky town An anthology of the Memphis author’s vivid writing. By Lois Wilson.
Memphis Rent Party ★★★★
Seeking a stronger jolt: Robert Gordon’s subjects (clockwise from top left) Jerry Lee, Junior Kimbrough, Alex Chilton, Furry Lewis, Sam Phillips.
Robert Gordon BLOOMSBURY. £18.99
n July 4, 1975, Robert Gordon saw the Rolling Stones in Memphis. He was 14 and it was a pivotal moment. Not because of anything the Stones did that night, but because of everything their support act, the octogenarian blues-man Furry Lewis, summoned within him. “Furry’s intimacy let me feel the wrinkles on the hands wrapped around the guitar neck… The raw power of Furry’s personality was so infused into his music and stories that his songs became his life, and he took me places I did not know, to times I couldn’t have experienced,” the author enthuses. From that moment on, Gordon becomes “a seeker”,
“ALEX CHILTON TOOK A LEAK FROM THE STAGE.”
documenting the margins of Memphis life through an artistic prism culminating in 1995’s It Came From Memphis, a benchmark in blues writing. Memphis Rent Party is excellent too: an anthology of Gordon’s writings, many previously unpublished, but also comprising linernotes and articles for Rolling Stone, Oxford American, LA Weekly and MOJO. Gordon gets into the mindset of his subject matter with a rare understanding and empathy. An interview with Cat Power’s Chan Marshall for Stop Smiling in 2006 is so intense he asks her PR if it’s OK to print the piece afterwards. Recalling a tough day of press in France she tells him: “I took off all my clothes and I shoved them full of towels and I put my fake self, with shoes and the socks and everything on the bed with a sheet over my head to make it look like I was dead. I curled up underneath the thing and was just bawling”. A vivid portrait of Junior Kimbrough’s Sunday blues jams is both blues chronicle and astute social history. “It gathered those seeking a stronger jolt, higher wattage, a more intense escape. Like a church, Junior’s joint was a room pulsating as one.” Elsewhere, there are brilliantly put together essays about the men – Sam Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis – who made Memphis great. There are also much
needed dues paid to the women who made such men: the chapter on Mama Rose Newborn, the spouse of bandleader Phineas Newborn Sr and mother of jazz brothers Phineas Jr and Calvin Newborn, is poignant and powerful, detailing the African American experience and music as liberation. Gordon wrote this entry purely for himself in 1993, never submitting it, presuming (probably correctly) that no one would publish it. He paid Mama Rose for her time though, noting, “publicity couldn’t help with her heating bill.” Musician Jim Dickinson provides a lighter note, recalling Alex Chilton taking a leak from the stage of a Panther Burns gig. Alex Chilton, meanwhile, says, “the world is wrong, I am right.” Gordon begins that particular piece: “Alex stuck his ﬁnger down his throat and gagged, showing me that’s how much he hated his hometown… he didn’t like me much either.” Gordon’s honesty is touching and together these writings are testament to the people who made Memphis, but also to the city that in turn shaped them. And Gordon is one of those people.
Dan Ball, Getty, Bill Steber, Ted Barron, Bettmann
Inner City Pressure: The Story Of Grime
★★★ Dan Hancox WILLIAM COLLINS. £20
Grime Kids: The Inside Story Of The Global Grime Takeover
★★★★ DJ Target TRAPEZE. £16.99
Two views on grime: one from street-level, one loftily sociological. With its knockoff Dizzee Rascal cover font and title taken from a song in another genre, Inner City Pressure looks like a hastily thrown-together compendium of broadsheet grime think-pieces. It’s better than that – the five-year ASBO banning Slimzee from going above the fourth floor of any building is one of many cruelly pertinent details – but the book’s overall impact is lessened by Hancox’s clear preference for writing about grime’s socio-economic backdrop of “turbogentrification” rather than the music. Those two strands of the story bind together more satisfyingly in Pay As U Go Cartel and Roll Deep Crew veteran-turned-1Xtra mainstay DJ Target’s diligently selfpenned and very entertaining insider opus. He arguably also provides deeper insight into the mercurial character of Wiley than the godfather of grime’s own scattershot memoir. Ben Thompson
Halfway To Paradise – The Life Of Billy Fury
★★★★ David & Caroline Stafford OMNIBUS PRESS. £20
Britain’s most authentic ‘50s rocker gets the biography he richly deserves.
He wasn’t the first rocker from this side of the pond to cut a 45, but Billy Fury’s magnificent 10-inch LP, The Sound Of Fury, which he wrote himself, threw
down the gauntlet and showed everyone that followed what was possible, Beatles and Stones included. While this is not the first attempt to tell the story, David and Caroline Stafford have done a magnificent job, speaking to many of those who knew Fury and telling the tale with great affection mixed with genuine humour. In September 1982, shortly before Fury’s untimely death, several thousand Teds and rockabillies gathered at London’s Lyceum Ballroom for Paul McCartney’s Buddy Holly Week Rock’n’Roll Dance Championship. Ringo was up in the balcony, Paul & Linda appeared in full Ted gear, but when Billy Fury walked out on stage the roar from the hardcore faithful dwarfed anything else heard that night. With this book, the Staffords have done him justice. Max Décharné
This Is Hip: The Life Of Mark Murphy
★★★★ Peter Jones EQUINOX. £25
ambitions never fulfilled (a plan for 18 albums including one called Live In Pakistan) and the fact that he stupidly dabbled with heroin in his latter days. All in all, more light is shone on a career that was all too fleeting. Tom Doyle
Jeff Buckley From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye
★★★★ Dave Lory with Jim Irvin POST HILL PRESS. £19.35
Buckley’s former co-manager looks back, with help from MOJO writer. Dave Lory has refrained from telling his side of the Jeff Buckley tale until now, though the 21 years that have passed since the singer’s death haven’t dimmed this vivid account. The manager worked with Buckley for only 44 months, though it was quite a ride. Nearly 40 pages of oral history (featuring the likes of Columbia A&R man Steve Berkowitz and photographer Merri Cyr) usher us in, but it’s the following diary-styled tour chapters that prove the most illuminating, particularly for the early US solo jaunt where the singer grew frustrated and angry with audiences calling out requests for his father’s songs. Buckley’s insecurities are revealed, along with
Echoes From Then: Glimpses Of John McLaughlin 1959-1975
★★★★ Colin Harper MARKET SQUARE. £20
Weighty companion volume to the author's previous McLaughlin tome. After he'd finished his epic 2014 book on the British jazz-rock avatar – 2014’s criticallylauded Bathed In Lightning: John McLaughlin, The ’60s And Beyond – Harper had a lot of information, interview quotes, and miscellaneous material left over that he wanted to find a home for. Some of it ended up in eBook bonus chapters and online appendices, but now this assiduously-researched book corrals all those leftovers into a compendium that is bolstered with vital new chapters plus a sessionography and erainvoking reproductions of magazine interviews and press adverts from the period covered. It all amounts to a profoundly fascinating portrait of McLaughlin that is packed with microscopic detail and also, crucially, insight – both to
his pre-stardom years in the ’60s, and the heady days of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in all their ’70s pomp and glory. Essential reading for fusion anoraks. Charles Waring
Incidents Crowded With Life
★★★★ John Howard FKP. £14.99
Songwriter’s superb account of the travails of trying to make it in the ’70s. John Howard was one of the nearlymen of the 1970s: an immensely talented singersongwriter, whose albums like Kid In A Big World displayed a unique style blending the harmonies of Abbey Road with the slyness of Hunky Dory. Yet his career was dogged with ill luck, from management, record companies and homophobia. This autobiography tells Howard’s story, from a Lancashire childhood, to sexual adventures and musical beginnings, via the weirdness of near-fame in the decade of excess (his description of seeing Leonard Cohen play a CBS conference to an audience of uninterested drunks is extraordinary) and at least one attempt on his life. Now writing and recording again, John Howard makes great records that are astonishingly free of the bitterness most of us would feel in his place. David Quantick
Overdue and painstakingly researched biography of a jazz vocal icon. Singer-author Peter Jones explains: “Mark Murphy never fitted in. He grew up gay at a time when being gay was literally unspeakable – a crime both legally and socially. He was white when many thought that jazz singers ought to be black…” Later, Jones reveals that Murphy was also near-bald at a young age and wore a toupee on the cover of his debut album. But he possessed a remarkable, ever-flexible voice and was, without doubt, a master of scat and vocalese. Provider of over 40 albums – the book includes a full discography – fuelled by a love of Miles, Kerouac and Peggy Lee, Murphy was rediscovered in the ’80s, thanks to Gilles Peterson. Yet he remained forever uncompromising and innovative. Voted Best Male Jazz Singer by Downbeat magazine in 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2001 and winner of five Grammy Awards, the man from Syracuse, New York never enjoyed, nor sought, commercial success. But his life story and his music provide an intriguing tale. Fred Dellar
The sound and the Fury: when Billy met hornbill.
Progressive party The epic adventures of New Jersey’s most enduring cult band. Watch out for weaponised maracas! By John Mulvey.
Yo La Tengo Olympia Theatre, Dublin ow do you find your way from one song to the next? For Yo La Tengo, navigating a path through their vast repertoire every night, the challenge involves memory, creativity, agile working practices and a nimble step. There is a profusion of gear that the multi-tasking trio must dodge on the Olympia stage, a maze of vintage keyboards, guitars, drum machines, drum kits (two), double bass (one) and iPod, that recreates the meticulous chaos of their Hoboken rehearsal space. Passage between workstations, mid-song, can be hazardous, given how the carpet is a minefield of effects pedals, shakers and bells. The air, too, contains obstacles, with painted vinyl discs and CDs dangling from the gantry; a neat manifestation of Yo La Tengo’s status as the beloved band of record nerds nonpareil. Later, Ira Kaplan will commit the ultimate offence, when he smashes a 7-inch, hanging just above the organ, with an inadvertently weaponised maraca. First, though, there is a lot to get through. Earlier this year, YLT played a run of US dates, during which they showcased the immersive textures of their new album, There’s A Riot Going On, along with an uncanny mastery of their previous 14 albums, and a knack for finding an unlikely cover version or three for every occasion. One hundred and twenty-two different songs were essayed across 15 gigs. “It seems now there’s more RAM, like we’re accruing lots of memory,” says James McNew, after the first European show’s soundcheck. “You’re supposed to start forgetting things as you grow older, but it seems we’re remembering more.” McNew, 48, is the ne 1991, seven years after K Hubley, 58, had founded endurance pivots on bein indie rockers – “37 Reco Dead In Yo La Tengo Co notorious Onion headlin or behave like anything s “Certain bands of ou album and the same eigh the next tour one of tho wayside and they do the Kaplan. “To not be like t decision.” A typical Yo La Tengo then, is a study in extrem precision and cacophono begins with tambourines rustle and an arc of feedb Are Here, the first track and a useful mission stat ambient space that YLT the studio. As the song p
Micky Kelleher & Colm Kelly
Shake some action: Yo La Tengo amid a minefield of pedals and percussion (main pic, from left) Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew.
“KAPLAN WRESTLES HIS GUITAR ABOVE HIS HEAD, TURNED UP SO LOUD THE
the ethereal becomes more substantive, Kaplan shaping a guitar line reminiscent of solo Michael Rother. In an opening set which also features lunar doo wop (Forever), beatnik folk-pop (One PM Again) and some gorgeous Velvetsy miniatures (The Hour Grows Late and I Feel Like Going Home), the minimalist peak comes with Ashes, a serene mix of drone rock and exotica. While Hubley sings, Kaplan takes three considered trips from his organ to the unoccupied drum kit, where he applies a single brushstroke to a cymbal and returns to base. In the interstices, there is the gripping spectacle of a band improvising new routes from one disparate song to another. If the first half mood suits the grand intimacy of this old theatre, the belligerence that punctuates the second set is both shocking and bracing. Dream Dream Away’s amniotic strum is a red herring. Now, Kaplan’s self-effacement is replaced by an older persona – that of noise-rock maven, wrestling his guitar above his head and into his guts, turned up so loud the trajectories of feedback become visceral. Not everything totally succeeds; the clank undermining Hubley’s filigree Shades Of Blue may be an experiment too far. But mostly, from a deranged take on 1995’s Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1) to the mellifluous squalls of I Heard You Looking, the set reasserts YLT’s most potent secret. Hiding behind assumptions of indie tweeness, Kaplan is actually one of the most furiously inventive guitar heroes of his generation. That he chooses to deploy his virtuosity with such measure is a key part of what makes his band so special. They are rock scholars – Alternative TV and Gene Clark covers are conjured up for the encore – whose knowledge informs, but never overwhelms a get from one ts just before going, we just et there.” But a way to make e possibilities it where it might
SETLIST You Are Here / Forever / The Hour Grows Late / Ashes / She May, She Might / One PM Again / Iâ€™ll Be Around / I Feel Like Going Home / Here You Are / Dream Dream Away / Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1) / Stockholm Syndrome / For You Too / Shades Of Blue / Autumn Sweater / Big Day Coming (Second Version) / Nothing To Hide / Decora / I Heard You Looking / Action Time Vision / Tried So Hard / Tom Courtenay
Transformer man Texan soul man practises his new R&B moves in a small club. By Tom Doyle.
Leon Bridges The Jazz Café, London
he last time Leon Bridges played in London, back in April 2016, he comfortably sold out the 4,900-capacity O2 Academy Brixton, meaning that the pavement outside this club show for an audience of 420 is abuzz with ticketless fans desperate to gain access. In the event, those who can’t get in are happy to listen to the gig while standing in the drizzle. Inside, as Bridges unleashes his set-to-stun soul voice on tried-and-
tested opener Smooth Sailin’, the crowd is instantly awed. It’s immediate proof of why this 28-year-old Texan was fast-tracked from his dishwashing-in-a-diner days of 2014 to the Top 10 transatlantic status of his Coming Home debut album only a year later. For its follow-up, Good Thing, Bridges has attempted a tricksy timeslip from his ‘60s vintage soul moves to modernist R&B, as evidenced second song in tonight with the D’Angelo-ish good-foot groove of Bad Bad News. As the show progresses, a slight awkwardness is evident though – not in Bridges’ faultless performances on the mike, but physically, particularly when he attempts a pas de deux with backing vocalist Brittni Jessie. Sometimes, his lyrics let him down too, as in newie (and clumsy ode to coyness) Shy. Far better is
Lone star state of mind: Leon Bridges twists and grooves; (below) Bridges with bandmates (from left) Brittni Jessie, Rico Allen and Cliff Wright.
“ TICKETLESS FANS ARE HAPPY TO LISTEN TO THE GIG WHILE STANDING IN THE DRIZZLE.”
Smooth Sailin’/Bad Bad News/Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand/Out Of Line/ Brown Skin Girl/Beyond/ Coming Home/Better Man/Hold On/Shy/Mrs/ Lisa Sawyer/Juice/If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)/Flowers/Twistin’ & Groovin’/River/Pussyfootin’/Mississippi Kisses
freshly-minted ballad Beyond, which matches a sterling melody to a cosmic declaration of devotion to a potential partner through “space and time and the afterlife”. Of the six new songs aired tonight, it has the greatest potential to be his biggest hit. Throughout, Bridges’ six-piece band – squeezed together on the conﬁnes of The Jazz Café stage – are utterly superb, and clearly having a ball, safe in the knowledge that they’re cooking up the good stuff. Drummer Rico Allen and keyboardist Erskine Hawkins frequently share knowing grins. The ’50s doo wop of Lisa Sawyer, always a highlight of his shows, remains a standout, but if anything, you can see the ensemble digging harder into the new material, particularly the pristine late-’70s-fashioned funk of If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be). The disconnect between the retro and contemporary elements of Coming Home and Good Thing is less evident on stage than on record, but there remains a strong sense that record company voices are whispering into Bridges’ ears, telling him that a more modern approach could yield greater dividends. Strange, then, that tonight he omits from his set You Don’t Know, his latest album’s brilliant take on Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson, with its likely mass appeal Get Lucky/Uptown Funk danceﬂoor shapes. Instead, he relies on his now traditional showstopper spiritual, the Sam Cooke-like River, to absolutely beam his star power. But, ultimately, this warm-up gig catches Bridges at a key transitional point. If he’s given his own space and time to develop, and to truly mesh together his disparate R&B styles, he could be with us for a long, long time.
Cause right now it’s time to...
TUESDAY 10TH JULY 2018 NOVEMBER 2018
FRIDAY 09 BRISTOL O 2 ACADEMY SATURDAY 10 GLASGOW O 2 ABC SUNDAY 11 MANCHESTER ALBERT HALL MONDAY 12 LONDON O 2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE /35?A3B3=CB1>D:
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ED G E ST LIVE PRESENTS
Thriller | Billie Jean | P.Y.T | Off The Wall | Rock With You | Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ | Baby Be Mine | Bad Beat It | Ai No Corrida | Give Me The Night | Fly Me To The Moon | Soul Bossa Nova | And many many more
An intimate evening of songs and stories
The Icon, The Legend, The Hitmaker
‘A Life in Song’
JULY 20 GATESHEAD The Sage, Gateshead 21 LIVERPOOL Philharmonic 22 LONDON The Bridge Theatre 24 BEXHILL-ON-SEA De La Warr Pavilion 25 BRISTOL St George's 26 BIRMINGHAM Town Hall 28 PERTH Concert Hall 29 SALFORD The Lowry
www. graha m nash.com PRODUCED BY ESL & SERIOUS BY ARRANGEMENT WITH ASGARD
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WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE 2018
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Produced and proudly presented by Senbla in association with Quincy Jones Productions
With very special guests:
CORINNE BAILEY RAE CARO EMERALD JESS GLYNNE LALAH HATHAWAY MICK HUCKNALL BEVERLEY KNIGHT JONAH NILSSON MARK RONSON JACK SAVORETTI ANDREAS VARADY PAUL WELLER FROM DIRTY LOOPS
And more to be announced Hosted by QUINCY JONES Featuring an on stage conversation with Quincy and Nic Harcourt on the history of the hits.
FULL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA conducted by JULES BUCKLEY and QUINCY JONES
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& friends by arrangement with THE MAGNIFICENT AGENCY presents
WINTER TOUR 2018
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NOVEMBER 30 HOLMFIRTH PICTUREDROME DECEMBER 01 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY 02 LEAMINGTON SPA ASSEMBLY ROOMS 06 CARDIFF TRAMSHED 07 BOURNEMOUTH THE OLD FIRE STATION 08 EXETER THE PHOENIX 13 SOUTHAMPTON ENGINE ROOMS 14 CAMBRIDGE THE JUNCTION 15 LONDON O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE
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by arrangement with CITI & United Talent Agency presents
Winter Tour 2018 THE WORLD’S No. 1 PULP TRIBUTE BAND
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THE WEDDING PRESENT 1985 TOMMY1987 30th Anniversary Concerts FEATURING ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAMER
STEVEN VAN ZANDT OF THE E STREET BAND, THE SOPRANOS, LILYHAMMER, AND LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE!
THE SOULFIRE TEACHROCK TOUR EUROPE 2018
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SUN 22 JULY 2018 MANCHESTER O2 RITZ SAT 28 JULY 2018 BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE
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STEVE EARLE kes
Performing Tommy which compiled the band’s first singles (including My Favourite Dress & Go Out And Get ‘Em, Boy!) and features the definitive sound of early Wedding Present. Plus other songs.
NOVEMBER 01 HULL The Welly Club 02 WAKEFIELD Warehouse 23 03 STOKE Keele Uni 08 SHEFFIELD The plug 09 LIVERPOOL O2 Academy2 10 CARLISLE Old Fire Station 15 GLOUCESTER Guildhall 16 BRIGHTON Concorde 2 21 EDINBURGH Liquid Rooms 22 GLASGOW O2 ABC 23 NEWCASTLE Riverside 24 BLACKBURN King George’s Hall 29 BRISTOL O2 Academy 30 SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms DECEMBER 01 BIRMINGHAM The Mill
Fri 25th May BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY Sat 26th May LIVERPOOL ARTS CLUB Thu 7th June OXFORD O2 ACADEMY Fri 8th June NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY
Friday 12th October 2018
LEICESTER THE SCHOLAR @ O2 ACADEMY
Fri 14th Dec LONDON O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
Saturday 13th October 2018
LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 Friday 23rd November 2018
BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY3
IN ASSOCIATION WITH RBM COMEDY PRESENTS
BER OCTO 8
MAY 2018 THU 24 BRIGHTON Concorde 2 FRI 25 LONDON O2 Academy Islington THU 31 STOCKTON-ON-TEES ARC JUNE 2018 FRI 01 BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2 SAT 02 LIVERPOOL O2 Academy2 WOODLAND ECHOES OUT NOW
THU 07 FRI 08 FRI 15 THU 21 FRI 22 THU 28 FRI 29
GLASGOW Oran Mor SHEFFIELD O2 Academy2 OXFORD O2 Academy2 CARDIFF The Globe STURMINSTER NEWTON The Exchange BATH Komedia EASTLEIGH The Concorde Club NICKHEYWARD.COM
FRIDAY 05 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 MONDAY 08 LONDON KOKO FRIDAY 19 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY2
THE UK’s No.1 TRIBUTE TO THE ARCTIC MONKEYS PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
NATIONAL TOUR 2018 FRI SAT FRI SAT SAT FRI SAT
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OCT OCT OCT NOV NOV NOV DEC
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THE PUBLIC IMAGE IS ROTTEN TOUR MAY 2018 30 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY JUNE 2018 01 BOURNEMOUTH O2 ACADEMY 04 COVENTRY THE COPPER ROOMS 06 NORWICH THE LCR @ UEA 12 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY 13 GLASGOW O2 ABC 15 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY 16 MANCHESTER O2 RITZ 18 HULL ASYLUM @ HULL UNIVERSITY
21 CARDIFF THE TRAMSHED 23 EXETER LEMON GROVE 24 WREXHAM WILLIAM ASTON HALL 26 READING SUB 89 27 FROME CHEESE & GRAIN 29 NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY 30 SOUTHAMPTON ENGINE ROOMS AUGUST 2018 28 INVERNESS THE IRONWORKS 29 ABERDEEN THE ASSEMBLY 31 DUNDEE THE CHURCH
An ACADEMY EVENTS presentation by arrangement with ATC LIVE
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LIVE IN LONDON
2018 THE LEGENDARY JAPANESE GUITARIST RETURNS TO LONDON
and friends by arrangement with The Sounds That History Saved Agency presents
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An academy events presentation by arrangement with Neil O’Brien Entertainment and DADA Music
PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
THURSDAY 13TH DECEMBER 2018 O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN LONDON NEWMODELARMY.ORG AN ACADEMY EVENTS PRESENTATION
TICKETMASTER.CO.UK & ALL USUAL AGENTS
VICTORIA PARK LONDON, E3
FRI 25 MAY
SAT 26 MAY
SUN 27 MAY
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Phoenix
Lorde > Justice Sampha
Beck Father John Misty
Glass Animals > Richie Hawtin CLOSE Dixon > Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker Chromeo > Young Fathers George Fitzgerald LIVE Hercules & Love Affair > Roman Flügel DJ Tennis > Gerd Janson Superorganism > Hookworms Oscar and the Wolf > Confidence Man Eclair Fifi > Fort Romeau Knox Fortune > Lo Moon
Soulwax > Lykke Li > Popcaan BADBADNOTGOOD > Rhye Stefflon Don > Rex Orange County Omar-S > Hunee > ABRA Sevdaliza > DJ Richard Call Super > Shanti Celeste DJ Python > Kojey Radical Jesse James Solomon Her > Beatrice Dillon
Friendly Fires > Tom Misch Flying Lotus 3D > The Black Madonna Django Django > Kelela Mashrou’ Leila > Sylvan Esso Khruangbin > Maribou State DJS Parcels > Alexis Taylor > Yellow Days Yaeji > Octavian > Mr G Live Agoria Live > Allie X > ItaloJohnson Byron The Aquarius > Bones Garage DEBONAIR
DESPACIO Featuring James Murphy & 2manydjs ALL WEEKEND LONG
PLUS MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
FRIDAY 01 JUNE VICTORIA PARK LONDON, E3
SATURDAY 02 JUNE VICTORIA PARK LONDON, E3
SUNDAY 03 JUNE VICTORIA PARK LONDON, E3
EXCLUSIVE 2018 UK SHOW
THE HUNNA > BLOSSOMS FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD > THE AMAZONS PLUS MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
VERY SPECIAL GUESTS
+ very special guests
THE WAR ON DRUGS FUTURE ISLANDS
PATTI SMITH AND HER BAND ST. VINCENT COURTNEY BARNETT
WARPAINT > CAT POWER PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE > SPOON AMBER RUN > THIS IS THE KIT THE DISTRICTS > ROSTAM
Subject to Licence. Line up subject to change
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WHOSE MUSIC ECHOED FIRST? Plagued by questions, cavils and enigmas? Then let sage Fred Dellar illuminate the pop-lore darkness! I read a newspaper piece recently regarding Duane Eddy’s use of an echo chamber – apparently, he ran his guitar sound through a huge grain tank to enhance that famous twang – and I wondered, who used an echo chamber ﬁrst? Don Kingsley, via e-mail Fred Says: The ﬁrst successful use of the ploy can be attributed to Turkish-born Jerry Murad and his Harmonicats, whose echo-enhanced version of Peg O’ My Heart, recorded for Chicago’s tiny Vitacoustic label, topped the US charts for eight weeks in 1947. I also remember being amazed by the huge sound of the Stan Kenton band during the ’40s, achieved through the use of eight concrete-clad subterranean echo chambers, 20 feet below the Capitol Records Building, devised by Les Paul who had experimented with echo in a cave that he purchased. In later years, saxophonist Paul Horn recorded in various locations – the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Taj Mahal, etc – in a search to gain enhanced sound. But the very ﬁrst use of creative reverberation? Readers’ thoughts are welcomed at the usual e-mail address!
WHAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF MORRISON’S SONG Is there any back story to Woman In The Window, the song on Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party album Ultra Payloaded that featured the voice of Jim Morrison? Was the vocal take really unreleased, and how did this come about? Kent Boreham, via e-mail Fred says: Perry Farrell, along with The Doors’ John Densmore and actor Josh Hartnett, employed the Satellite Party track as a theme song when launching Global Cool, a campaign to reduce carbon emissions, in January 2007. At that point Farrell explained that the Morrison vocal
had been recorded in 1970 “before Jim left for Paris”. In truth, Woman In The Window was one of the poems voiced by Morrison at Elektra’s studios in Los Angeles during March 1969, which later surfaced on the somewhat mistitled Lost Paris Tapes bootleg. Other extracts from these sessions have surfaced from time to time, prominently on the 1978 release An American Prayer, where the three surviving Doors recorded new music over audio of Morrison reading poetry and other spoken word performances.
WHEREFORE ART BUZZY? Whatever happened to Buzzy Linhart, who made the superb Buzzy, on Kama Sutra Records, with such people as Skunk Baxter, Todd Rundgren and Moogy Klingman in the early ‘70s? Pete Cummings, via e-mail Fred Says: I know the record, which many people refer to as ‘The Black Album’ to differentiate between this and an earlier LP, also titled Buzzy, which was made in England with south Wales’s Eyes Of Blue. Linhart went on to play (mainly vibes) on albums by Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, Carly Simon, Cat Mother and various others. While continuing to release solo albums up to 2015, he became a successful songwriter and even slotted in some TV acting parts along the way. But he’s also suffered health problems, including knee trouble, osteoporosis, strokes and heart attacks, so much so that an online cry for help ran: “I’m in trouble, need a complete shoulder replacement, losing everything.” He blamed a cop whom he maintains deliberated dislocated his shoulder due to a case of mistaken identity. Well-wishers can do their bit over at sweetrelief.org/ program/buzzy-linhart-fund/.
DID BONEY M LIFT FROM COZY POWELL? After a recent vinyl night, someone brought Boney M’s Nightflight To Venus (don’t ask) to play, so play we did. Having never heard this album before I was completely astonished when the title track proved to be a direct copy – drum beat, guitar riff, everything – to Dance With The
Reverb madness: (clockwise from main) Les Paul wonders if it needs more guitars; Boney M and influencer Cozy Powell; Mary Lou Williams; Jim Morrison and Buzzy Linhart.
WAS THAT THE SOUND OF TOM PAXTON? In Greta Gerwig’s ﬁlm Lady Bird, there‘s a scene, just six or seven minutes in, when Laurie Metcalf is driving a car while a singer that sounds like Tom Paxton can be heard on the soundtrack. The song is also repeated towards the end of the movie. Can you identify the song? T.A. Merry, via e-mail Fred says: The performer is the late John Hartford and the song is This Eve Of Parting, which originally appeared on Hartford’s The Love Album in 1968. It currently appears on a Lady Bird soundtrack album but be careful, because there are two albums with similar sleeves – one featuring Jon Brion’s ﬁlm score and the other containing the various vocal tracks by Hartford, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, Ani DiFranco plus others, some of which have little to do with the movie but appear under the dubious “inspired by the ﬁlm” designation.
HELP FRED I picked up the 1978 Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor duet live album Embraced – basically the sound of two jazz pianists playing at cross purposes, one ‘traditional’ and one free. Was this the most non-sympatico team-up ever released on vinyl? Hard to quantify I know, but still… Ian Davies, via e-mail
CONTACTFRED Write to: Ask Fred, MOJO, Fourth Floor, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT. OR email Fred Dellar direct at firstname.lastname@example.org www.mojo4music.com for daily Ask Fred discussion
Devil by the late great Cozy Powell. Didn’t anyone notice this at the time? Paul Howells, via e-mail Fred says: Apparently, Cozy Powell was completely cool about producer Frank Farian employing the Dance With The Devil drumbeat and never received any royalties from sales of either Nightﬂight To Venus or the following track Rasputin, which arguably also owed much to Cozy’s percussive pursuits. Incidentally, there are those who point out that Dance With The Devil itself was itself an emulation of sorts, one that utilised the main melody of Hendrix’s 3rd Stone From The Sun. Finally, mention of Rasputin acts as a reminder of one of pop’s eeriest facts – that former Boney M lead singer Bobby Farrell died in a St Petersburg hotel on December 30, 2010, while Grigori Rasputin, the subject of the group’s hit, was assassinated in St Petersburg on December 30, 1916. Spooky!
ANSWERS MOJO 294
D Win! A custom-designed, ofﬁcially-endorsed Lennon ﬁgurine – with singing and resting facial expressions!
ith ofﬁces across the globe, design house Molecule 8 are in the business of creating uncannily life-like ﬁgurines of iconic musicians and movie characters. One of their latest is this superb sixth scale (12-inch), limited edition collectible ﬁgure of Imagine-period John Lennon. Designed by sculptor K.A. Kim, it boasts a posable Stainless Steel Mark I: LITE Endoskeleton and comes with two interchangeable head sculpts with singing and resting facial expressions, interchangeable hands making different gestures, two choices of glasses (classic yellow-tinted and round style), three outﬁts (including Lennon’s army shirt an velvet jacket), cowboy boots or sandals, and a ﬁgure stand. They’re worth £269.99 each, and we have three to give awa To win one, get Bebop Surgeon General Fred’s crosswo ﬁlled in and send it to John Step Beyond, MOJO, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DJ. Please include your home address, e-mail address and phone number. Th closing date for entries is July 2. For the rules of the quiz, se www.mojo4music.com .
Across: 1 Gregory Porter, 9 Reckless Daughter, 11 C’mon C’mon, 13 Whiplash Smile, 15 Adam, 16 Oil, 17 My Vitriol, 20 Ahoy, 23 La’s, 24 Star, 25 Mona, 28 Never, 31 Tom Verlaine, 33 Camden, 36 At Folsom Prison, 39 Uprising, 40 Melanie, 43 George, 45/37 Layers Of The Onion, 47 Len, 49 Anna, 50 Dr. Robert, 52 Currents, 54 God, 56 Jan And Dean, 58 Hate Me Now, 60 Sonic Youth,61AliCampbell, 62 Yanni, 63 Kim. Down: 1 Gary Numan, 2 El Camino, 3 Orlando, 4 Yes I Will, 5 Old Siam, Sir, 6 True Love Ways, 7 Rah, 8 Gary Moore, 10 T-shirt, 12 Madam, 14 Edgar Winter, 18 Tsunami, 19/30 Ian McCulloch, 21 Havens, 22 Yet, 26 Oh Mercy, 27 Y.M.C.A., 29 Vassar, 32 Elf, 34 Free, 35 End Of The, 38 Lene, 41 Alan, 42 anola, 44 Ole, 46 thman, 48 ation, 51 Roebuck, Anthem, 54 Germs, Dolby, 57 Days, 59 , 60 Sly. nner: Paul wson of Porthill Bob Latcham of kley each win a set QED speaker cables speakers.
For more info see molecule8.com/product/john-lennon/ 1
ACROSS 1 He walked a Psycho’s Path (4,5) 6 See photoclue A (6) 9 Rod Stewart album that featured You Wear It Well (5,1,4,6) 12 Could be Bobby, could be Black (4) 13 Tom Waits’ debut studio album (7,4) 15 Was this an endless hit for Erykah Badu? (2,3,2) 18 His Time To Grow album won a Mobo Award (5) 19 It was a doo wop hit for The Chords and Crew Cuts (6) 20 Lomax, Hull, Price possibly (4) 23 David Sylvian’s Uncommon album (7) 25 American ----- (David Byrne album) (6) 26 Harlem’s legendary music venue (6) 27 Kupferberg of The Fugs (4) 28 See 37 Down 30 Hip-hop heroes initially found amid Loudon Wainwright (3) 31 Dine around for Robert John Godfrey’s band (4) 32 Duran Duran’s 1984 live album (5) 34 UK label that issued records by Gang Of Four, Human League, Mekons etc. (4) 35 Not albums or EPs (7) 37 A celebrated type of synthesizer (4) 39 Jackson brother, or Yugoslav leader? (4) 41 See photoclue B (6) 44 Military music or Little Peggy (5) 46 Boston boy band who were On The Block (3,4) 47 Notorious twins portrayed on-screen by Gary and Martin Kemp (4) 48 They began life as Linda Ronstadt’s back-up unit (6) 49 Sings Totally ----- (Michael Bublé album) (6) 51 Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart parent (6) 54 It was the last Suede album to feature Bernard Butler (3,3,4) 55 Their 1999 debut LP was Showbiz (4) 56 See photoclue C (2,4) 57 --- Lee The Healer (Beach Boys) (4) 58 Their debut chart hit was Whatcha Gonna Do About It (5,5) 62 Kaiser Chief Wilson (5) 64 Instrument played by Charlie Christian (6) 65 This Johnny brought rock’n’roll to France (8) 66 The booted Sinatra (5) 67 Carly Simon’s very open third album (2,7)
Getty (2), Alamy
1 She had a posthumous number 1 with Me And Bobby McGee in 1970 (5,6) 2 The Rolling Stones’ filmed Cuban concert (6,4) 3 Lynn, the coalminer’s daughter (7) 4 --- Loves His Work (James Taylor album) (3) 5 That chic Mr Rodgers (4) 6 They topped the UK chart with Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me (4) 7 Their albums include Babel and Sigh No More (7,3,4) 8 Tucker or possibly Donelly (5) 10 Ukulele in brief (3) 11 Country music star, once wed to Julia Roberts (4,6) 13 Bright Eyes album named after a town in Florida (9) 14 Initially Music Corporation of America (3) 16 Cole or maybe Adderley (3) 17 A Kinks track or a Wipers album (4,3,4) 21 Their Bell That Never Rang album was produced by Joan Wasser (3) 22 A pest like Menswear’s debut LP (8) 24 Record label once home to R.E.M. and The Go-Go’s (3) 27 Can’s 1971 album (4,4) 29 Jack White’s White Stripes buddy (3) 33 Genre of music found amid demo (3) 36 Thunders, Johansen, Sylvain… (3,4,5) 37/28 Leader of The First National Band (4,7) 38 --- and Terry Woods (3) 40 --- ----- Around (Foo Fighters) (3,5) 42 Could be Rick, could be Willie (6) 43 UK guitarist, Brian Robson Rankin (4,6) 45 Jenny, lead singer with Babe Ruth (4) 50 22, - ----- Bon Iver’s numerical album (1,7) 52 Leiber and Stoller’s rock canine (5,3) 53 It was The Pretty Things’ first hit (7) 54 “My good old --- does an Arabesque” (Nilsson lyric) (4) 59 Motown’s first UK hit, as performed by Mary Wells (2,3) 60 Band headed by Yannis Philippakis (5) 61 Longsy D mixed it with Acid in ’89 (3) 63 High ---- , Van Dyke Parks song (4) 65 About --- (Malcolm McLaren) (3)
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IAN BURDEN AND THE HUMAN LEAGUE It began as a three-week gig. Seven years later, the freeze set in with Minneapolis R&B and ennui.
HELLO OCTOBER 1980 I was living in Shefﬁeld. The original line-up of The Human League – a band I really did like – had split up. Philip Oakey [voice] and Adrian Wright [stage visuals, keyboards] had taken the name and the contractual obligations that went with that, the ﬁrst one being a European tour. They only had a week to get it together, or they’d get sued, so I suspect they had quite a lot of anxiety. At the time, a girlfriend of mine lived in the same house as Philip, so he asked me if I knew any replacement keyboardists. No one I thought of was available, but I told him, “Look, I can programme analogue synths and the keyboard parts of Human League songs are well within my capability” – I mean, you could effectively play all of them with one ﬁnger – so I could do it. He said he’d wanted to ask me in the ﬁrst place but he’d been too nervous. I had no long-term thoughts. They just needed a hand for three weeks, and I was looking forward to the travelling. The ﬁrst gig was at Doncaster Rotters and the response seemed to be good. Philip and Adrian stood on top of a tower and did Judas Priest’s Take On The World as the opening number. I mean, I was so focused on all these switches and knobs and sliders that I didn’t really pay much attention really. On that tour there were people who expected a different band, not [new vocalists Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall]
dancing about and stuff, but I guess that’s what happens with bands. You have a change of direction, you’re going to lose some audience and gain some audience. Later, bit by bit I drifted into the writing and recording of [mega-selling October ’81 LP] Dare. Philip had programmed a really peculiar rhythm, and I started adding parts to it. It became [April ‘81 breakthrough hit] The Sound Of The Crowd. There was the decision to release it as a single, and Adrian took photos for the artwork at their grotty little studio in Shefﬁeld, which was a former veterinary practice. They told me to have my photo taken too – this was the point when Philip told me I was in the band.
Where the people look good and the musicis loud: The Human League in ’81 (from left) Adrian Wright, Susan Sulley, Joanne Catherall, Philip Oakey and Ian Burden; (bottom) Burden’s farewell tour, 1987 and (below) Ian today.
GOODBYE SUMMER 1987 I was not happy making the Crash album [beginning in February 1986]. We were in Minneapolis for the recording, which took about six weeks, two months. It was minus 14 degrees. All I remember is sitting in the studio waiting to be summoned to go and do something. [Producers] Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they’re really brilliant at what they do, but what they do is make Jam and Lewis records that are fronted by whatever artist the record company wished them to attach to the project. There were songs I was involved with on the record but I didn’t play anything at all. Occasionally I had to stand in front of a microphone with headphones on and sing some part. I remember a song called I Need Your Loving coming down the headphones. It wasn’t a Human League song, and it didn’t do anything for me. I was very bored.
“THEY HAD A WEEK TO GET IT TOGETHER, OR THEY’D GET SUED.”
I had the thought, constantly, that I would have preferred to be back at Genetic Studios in Berkshire with [Dare co-producer] Martin Rushent making a Human League record. After the tour to promote it, I wanted to get on and start writing new material – I was holding on to the hope that Crash would become part of the history and we could somehow get back to where we ought to be. Philip didn’t seem to have a great deal of enthusiasm for getting together with me. So, I thought, This is an opportune moment [to leave]. Our last meeting was at Philip’s house in Shefﬁeld. Both Susan and Joanne were there. We talked standing up, in his kitchen. I outlined my reasons – that I didn’t feel required enough creatively, and it felt a bit like when you go round the Monopoly board and pick up £200 every time, but you’re not putting anything down. Joanne suggested I took a few months off, I said, “I don’t think so.” Philip didn’t say a lot, but Philip never does. Why we split with Martin Rushent is still a mystery to me. We could have had another album out within a year of Dare, with hit singles on it. As it was, [1984 LP] Hysteria dragged on – a representation of us ﬂoundering, with a three-year gap. It must have been very disappointing, for anyone waiting. As told to Ian Harrison Ian Burden’s debut solo album, Hey Hey Ho Hum, is out now on Rutland Artspace Limited.
s y o b e h t “ . ” . . k c a b e ar PIN K FLO YD
A JOURN EY TO THE DARK SIDE
DE F LEP PA RD
RA INB OW
SHEFF IELD STEEL GOES PLATIN UM
MR BLACK MORE IS BACK
ON E SAL N OW
THIN LIZZY STILL DANGEROUS CH ECK OUT: W W W . P L A N E T R O C K . C O M
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“We would leave the stage smeared wit