discover the best new releases
Hinds I Don’t Run
Joshua Hedley Mr. Jukebox
Walter Wolfman Washington My Future Is My Past
Alison Moyet The Other Live Collection
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD
The Spanish garage quartet are back with the follow-up to 2016’s Leave Me Alone. Includes New For You and The Club.
Signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records, Joshua’s debut album features nine originals as well as a cover of When You Wish Upon A Star.
An icon on the New Orleans jazz scene, The Roadmasters’ Washington returns with this stripped-back, intimate album.
This live set features songs from throughout Moyet’s career, including tracks from Other plus reworked solo and Yazoo favourites.
We Are Scientists Megaplex
Middle Kids Lost Friends
Hailey Tuck Junk
out 27 April on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
The infamous duo once again dazzle the world with brand new splashes of colourful and addictive pop.
Debut album from the Australian trio - a radiant collection of haunting hooks, lyrical poignancy and irresistible indie rock.
On this masterclass in sublime singing, Hailey puts her own spin on songs by artists like Leonard Cohen, Pulp and Paul McCartney.
This is the ﬁrst new full-length album from legendary New England alternative band Belly in over 20 years.
Gaz Coombes World’s Strongest Man
Peace - Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll
Leon Bridges Good Thing
Charles Watson Now That I’m A River
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 18 May on CD & vinyl
Three years on from Matador, Gaz returns with his most ambitious solo release to date. Includes Walk The Walk.
Following the singles Power and From Under Liquid Glass, the indie rock quartet now unleash their third album.
He’s drawn comparisons with Otis Redding and Sam Cooke and now Leon makes a welcome return with album #2.
As good as any of Slow Club’s many highs, Watson has created something modern, fresh, exciting and potentially classic.
home of entertainment
LONDON a MEMPHIS a PA LO A LTO JUNE 2018
STEPHEN MALKMUS One of ’90s rock’s originals, the Pavement man trucks on, trying to not be “selfconscious or afraid”. He talks Dragnet and Christian rock with John Mulvey.
GRACE SLICK Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic siren on bedding the band and booting the booze, the music that soared and the records that stank. Warning: contains fun.
RYLEY WALKER Guitar music’s tortured explorer takes us on a tour of his Chicago manor and its improv scene – if he can put the drugs aside long enough to talk sense to Andrew Male.
1968: THE BIRTH OF HEAV Y Jon Savage selects 12 recordings that reflected a key year of turmoil in big, dark riffs and bludgeoning drums. Cream, Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly stomp on.
ROBERT PLANT On the road with the Golden God with a new lease of life, still searching for new music and fans who “lose their shit”. And Led Zep? “It makes me realise how time flies.”
ARCTIC MONKEYS From Sheffield to… space? Alex Turner & Co celebrate a decade as Britain’s top band with a bold new album exploring exciting new territory. “There’ll be fans that will be a bit confused now,” they tell Danny Eccleston.
MARTY BALIN, PAGE 46
“Grace Slick: she drove people crazy! But give her a mike and you couldn’t stop her.”
Sofia, so good: Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares showing up and singing out in Utrecht, p32.
ABTMP In lieu of a lock-in, Shabaka Hutchings, Bill Wyman and Jennifer Warnes get the post-pub sounds together.
THEORIES, RANTS, ETC A true Love story, a Fall guy and some Propaganda.
REAL GONE Safe travels Mickey Foote, Claudia Fontaine, Mike Harrison and more.
126 ASK FRED Which was the speediest re- and de-formation in the history of rock? Resurrection men: Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Lives, p116.
130 HELLO GOODBYE Trevor Burton joined The Move with every intention of getting to the top. Assault by hi-hats changed his mind.
WHAT GOES ON! 14
LOU REED When Lou quit rock’n’roll in 1970, he vowed to be a man of letters. He would change his mind, but in the interim his poetic muse flamed on. Now his widow Laurie Anderson presents a volume of verse with a 45.
BILL NELSON The six-string master of Be-Bop Deluxe and beyond is, as ever, hard at it in his private studio, his workrate a glorious example to slackers everywhere. He invites MOJO in for a summit, during which we strive to understand the secret of unceasing creativity!
GRAHAM COXON What blows the Blur guitarist’s swede? Only one way to find out – by sweating out of him which jazz, prog and improv he’d use as psychic weapons.
WIRE Pondering the limitations of punk, these cerebral contrarians found a route to 1977’s masterly Pink Flag. Colin Newman and Graham Lewis recall the gob, the slog and a breakthrough.
She’ll have you in stitches: Eleanor Friedberger, Lead Album, p86.
LE MYSTÈRE DES VOIX BULGARES They wowed the world when 4AD released their open-throated folk singing. Now the Bulgarian State Radio & TV Female Vocal Choir return with their first new album in 24 years.
MOJO FILTER 86 NEW ALBUMS Eleanor Friedberger in flame. Plus Jon Hopkins, Courtney Barnett, Ash, Leon Bridges, Roger Daltrey, Chvrches and more.
100 REISSUES Ornette Coleman frees jazz. Plus Neil Young, Prince Buster, Metallica and more.
112 BOOKS Paul Simon says: I did it my way. Plus, Can, Benjamin Zephaniah and Shirley Collins.
116 LIVES Deadmen Lesh and Weir in NYC. Hamburg hearts Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Jane Sanders Jane Sanders, AKA “Stitchin’ in the Kitchen”, is a textile artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has produced a multitude of portraits, all depicting popular musicians. To connect with Jane, and view her back catalogue follow her on Instagram @stitchin_in_the_kitchen
Danny Eccleston Danny joined the MOJO team in 2004, after stints at Q, the NME and multiple musicians’ mags. He has since interviewed heroes including Van Dyke Parks, Peter Perrett, Paul McCartney and The The. He really does like synth pop and encounters the Arctic Monkeys from p72.
Pieter M van Hattem “Being on the road with Robert Plant felt like the last scene in Close Encounters when Richard Dreyfuss walks into the Mothership. Surreal. He surrounds himself with some of the smartest and kindest people I’ve worked with. When I’m not taking photographs, you can find me in the Catskills fixing up my cabin. Find my work at www.pmvhphoto.com.”
Jay Blakesberg, Chris Ruiz, Jane Sanders
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE
THE MOJO MACHINE TURNS YOU ON 2018.
Sophie Mulcahy, Getty
“I’m really interested in the psychology of people,” the masterful Aussie singer-songwriter told MOJO last month. This tenderly crunching highlight from her forthcoming second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, shows how: a closely observed tale of relationship hiatus, given shade and uplift by a melody worthy of Evan Dando.
An appealingly skewed, twanging rethink of post-punk from Goat Girl, who’ve emerged these past few months as one of the most interesting new bands in Britain. Cracker Drool relocates spaghetti western ambience to the badlands of south London, given further droll gravitas by the quartet’s singer, Clottie Cream.
(Barnett) Published by Third Side Music, Marathon Artists 2018. Track available as single across all DSPs. www.courtneybarnett.com.au
(Pendlbury, Davies, Jones and Bock) Published by Kobalt Music Publishing. Licensed Courtesy of Rough Trade Records Limited by arrangement with Beggars Group Media Limited. Taken from the album ‘Goat Girl’ www.roughtraderecords.com
“I didn’t know my actual voice until I heard Tim Buckley,” Power told MOJO recently, “and I let go of any idea of how I should actually sound.” As a consequence, the London-Irish singer now sounds revelatory, capable of transforming her most harrowing confessions into ﬂights of uncanny, ethereal beauty.
How to update the desert blues of the Tuareg people, as their music exponentially spreads round the world? Tinariwen’s young associates, Imarhan, have found the perfect answer: up the pace, add a touch of Chic disco, and sing explicitly about the displacement caused by travel in foreign lands.
(Mae Power) (ASCAP)Published by Tompkins Square Publishing USA (administered by Concord Sounds) (ASCAP), from the album The Two Worlds (Tompkins Square) tompkinssquare.com / brigidmaepower.com
(Moussa, Abderahmane, Abdelkader, Ourzig, Khaldi, Bouhasse, Akhamouk). Published by Inear Publishing admin. by BMG Rights Management France 2018 Wedge under exclusive license to City Slang. Taken from the album Temet https://cityslang.com/
Those raised on the pulsating jangles of The Feelies and The Go-Betweens will ﬁnd much to love in Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. No indie gaucheness here, mind; this teaser from their second album is racey and ﬂuent where others would shamble.
Through a sequence of incrementally ambitious LPs, Furman has grappled with a twitchy, impassioned and now electro-tinged kind of ramalam. Maraschino-Red Dress works through self-doubt before reaching a yelping epiphany that embraces Furman’s key recurring themes of gender and religion.
(White) Published by Mushroom Music Publishing under licence to Sub Pop Records. Taken from album Hope Downs http://www.rollingblackoutsband.com
(Furman) Published by Kobalt Music Group. Copyright by Bella Union. Track taken from Transangelic Exodus ezrafurman.com
Almost certainly Texas’s premier Thai-surf band, the Houston trio have discreetly nurtured a cult following since supporting Father John Misty on tour. They also, as seen here, specialise in the sort of nonchalant lounge-funk that the Beastie Boys used to knock out between hardcore and rap. Khruangbin means “airplane” in Thai.
From Bloomington, Indiana, Jones and his troupe are a nuanced R&B band with deep inﬂuences from forgotten ‘60s soul groups like The Echoes and The Icemen. A loving, passionate revival comparable to the similarly well-observed ﬁrst album by Leon Bridges.
(Speer, Lee) & Warp Publishing. Taken from album Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo www. nighttimestories.co.uk
(Jones, Rhein & Gabriel) Published by Songs In Numerical Order administered by SC Publishing (BMI) & 2018 Dead Oceans / Colemine Records. Taken from album Durand Jones & The Indications
N 1997, MOJO LAUNCHED A SERIES OF CDs EXCLUSIVELY FOR OUR subscribers. The MOJO Machine Turns You On was styled in tribute to the classic label comps of the late ‘60s, but featured an eclectic mix of new sounds. The idea was simple: to assert that great music was still being made, by artists who understood and reinvented the traditions we loved. Twenty-one years later, that mission statement still endures, which is why we’ve decided to restart the MOJO Machine Turns You On imprint. Introducing, then, this 2018 edition, a meticulously curated showcase for some of our favourite songs of the year thus far. Among the 15 tracks gathered here, you’ll ﬁnd invigorating rethinks of folk and R&B, plastic funk and desert rock, Thai-style surf and elevated ramalam. You’ll discover a song called Curse Of The Contemporary, and ample proof that the gulf between ancient and modern is nowhere near as wide as some people would have you believe. Today, as always, we’d love to turn you on…
Though notionally a new band, LUMP actually turns out to be a collaboration between the stillprodigious Laura Marling and folktronica vet Mike Lindsay from Tunng. Curse Of The Contemporary is a ﬁrst glimpse of their ﬁrst album together, a postscript to Marling’s California sojourn that’s blessed with an uncanny warmth recalling, auspiciously, Kate Bush circa Aerial. (Lindsay, Marling) & Domino Music Publishing. Taken from the album LUMP out June 1
Breakout star of Matthew E White’s Spacebomb stable, Prass previews her forthcoming second album, The Future And The Past, with this exquisite piece of funk-pop, a mix of organic grooves and contemporary smarts, topped off with the Virginian singer channelling Janet Jackson at her most playful. (Prass) Published by Downtown Music Publishing/50 Happy The Kid/50, Natalie Prass/ASCAP Kyle Ryan/ ASCAP. Copyright by ATO Records, under exclusive licence to [PIAS]. Track produced by Matthew E White
“The music sounds like it’s falling apart, and the words come from a really fragile state of mind,” Chicago’s mercurial guitar star tells MOJO on page 52 this month. Telluride Speed, though, confounds Walker’s description, being a ﬂuent testimony to his evolving, adventurous jazz-folk.
An LA craftsman whose roles include production for Father John Misty and guitar for Roger Waters, Wilson’s own solo career has built on vintage, burnished Laurel Canyon vibes, growing into the expansive fantasias that ﬁll his recent Rare Birds album. Exhibit A: the rapturous, subtly tweaked classicism of There’s A Light.
Ghosts of the canyons also pass through this gem from Canadian duo Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum. The pair’s roots, though, tend to be in the California countryrock sound of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, given crispness and clarity by their exceptional producer Jeff Tweedy, from Wilco.
(Walker and Fredrick Bach) & 2018 Dead Oceans. Published by Covertly Canadian Publishing (BMI) administered by Kobalt Music Group Ltd / Come Here With That Music (ASCAP). Taken from the album Deafman Glance
(Wilson) Published by Jonathan Wilson Big Deal Music. Copyright by Bella Union Records. Track taken from Rare Birds songsofjonathanwilson.com
(Anderson, Linthicum) Published by Fir Mountain Music / Sinking Hill Songs / Songs Of NWIMP (ASCAP). Taken from the album The Siren’s Song http://www. kacyandclayton.com/
New Zealander Ruban Nielson’s grimy psychedelic R&B has pitched his band somewhere between Prince and Beck. But this highlight from the fourth UMO album, Sex & Food, ﬁnds his adjusted falsetto closer in spirit to Scritti Politti and Green Gartside, a similarly canny subverter of pop/ funk norms. (Nielson) Published by Third Side Music Inc (ASCAP) & 2018 Jagjaguwar. Courtesy of Jagjaguwar
One of the very best techno auteurs currently operating in the UK, Avery is also a dab hand at the itchier end of chill-out. Hence Slow Fade, an Aphexy dreamscape so beguiling, its parent album, Song For Alpha, could justiﬁably have been named ‘Selected Ambient Works 14-18’. Written by by Daniel Avery (Avery), published Phantasy Songs admin by Bucks Music Group. Phantasy Sound under exclusive licence to [PIAS]. New album Song For Alpha out now on Phantasy. http://www.danielavery.co.uk
15 – 24 JUNE 2018 C U R Æ T I O N -2 5 | D E AT H C A B F O R C U T I E | D E F T O N E S | T H E L I B E R T I N E S M A N I C ST R E E T P R E AC H E R S | M O G WA I | M Y B LO O DY VA L E N T I N E | N I N E I N C H N A I LS PLACEBO | THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS 6 5 D AY S O F S TAT I C | A L C E S T | F R I G H T E N E D R A B B I T | G O D I S A N A S T R O N A U T | K R I S T I N H E R S H L O W | M AY B E S H E W I L L | M O N O | T H E N O T W I S T | S U Z A N N E V E G A A DEAD FOREST INDEX | THE ANCHORESS | AND ALSO THE TREES | BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW | THE CHURCH DOUGLAS DARE | DRAHLA | EMMA RUTH RUNDLE | HILARY WOODS | I LIKE TRAINS | INDIAN QUEENS | JAMBINAI J O Q U A I L | J Ó N S I , A L E X S O M E R S & PA U L C O R L E Y | J O Y C U T | T H E J O Y F O R M I D A B L E | K A E L A N M I K L A K AT H R Y N J O S E P H | K I D S M O K E | T H E K V B | L O O P | M AT T H O L U B O W S K I | M O O N D U O | P L A N N I N G F O R B U R I A L P G . LO ST | P U M A R O S A | T H E S O F T M O O N | T H O U G H T FO R M S | T H E T W I L I G H T S A D | V E X R E D | YO N A K A Media Partner
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Shabaka Hutchings JAZZ SAX DYNAMO What music are you currently grooving to? The new Dizzee Rascal [Raskit]has been on my phone for the last month. Also Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris, Andy Sheppard’s new album on ECM, and John Surman’s Invisible Threads. I like it if it sounds like an actual person is communicating something to me. What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? I don’t think there could be an alltime favourite. Without analysing, it would be Vespertine by Björk. It’s the emotional areas she gets into, it’s like it’s big and small simultaneously. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? I bought three at the same time – D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar, Fugees’ The Score/Bootleg Versions and Mary J. Blige’s Share My World. I was living in Barbados, when I was 12 years old. It was from a high street store called Cave Shepherd.
Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? Kebbi Williams, he plays tenor saxophone. He’s from Atlanta. I met him when I first moved to London, and he played in a way which literally made me think, That’s how I want to play. I’m awkward when I meet him! What do you sing in the shower? I’m not a big singer but I’ll hum things, and get ideas. The bass line for Inner Babylon came from there. What is your favourite Saturday night record? If I’m not working and I’m at home, grooving in my living room, ATLiens by OutKast. I like the atmosphere; it’s not too hype. Staying in is great, especially if you’re a professional fun-maker five nights a week. And your Sunday morning record? Maybe Joanna Newsom, Ys. It’s got a good uplifting, reflective and optimistic vibe to it. Sons Of Kemet’s Your Queen Is A Reptile is out now on Impulse!
IN WHICH THE STARS REVEAL THE SONIC DELIGHTS GUARANTEED TO GET THEM GOING...
Jennifer Warnes WEARER OF FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT What music are you currently grooving to? Jorge Calderón’s new album, which will be released this year. I still like a variety of music, but only if it has that ingredient of ‘inner spirit’.
Pierrick Guidou, Getty (2)
What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? I don’t have one favourite, but Paul Simon’s Graceland is right up there – along with most of Ry Cooder’s albums from the 1970s. I sometimes like to listen to my album Famous Blue Raincoat when I’m on a long drive, so that falls into ‘Favourite Road Records’. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? My mother bought music at Baton Music Store on Center Street in Anaheim, CA, in the early ’5 bough Brend Hank Willia Harry Belafo Mario Lanza Of Ind
Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? I might have liked to be an opera singer, one with a happy marriage and a few healthy well-adjusted children! That said, I’ve always admired my friend Leah Kunkel’s natural vocal tone. She has the warmth of her sister Cass Elliot’s voice, but more intimate and soulful.
Bill Wyman STONE ALONE!
What do you sing in the shower? Whatever bits of song loops that remain in my subconscious from my dreams. What is your favourite Saturday night record? Recordings that help me cry or dance, depending on my mood: the Cal theme by Mark Knopfler. Stevie Wonder or Curtis Mayfield. Emmylou Harris singing Boulder To Birmingham. Doyle Bramhall’s Bird Nest On The Ground. The Wild Tchoupitoulas. The New World Symphony. Sam Cooke. And your Sunday morning record? Stevie Wonder’s Ave Maria or d What y of a, a end. ets. nother d
NOW PLAYING ● Sunday a.m. finds Shabaka Hutchings kicking back with Joanna Newsom’s enchanted 2006 progfolk album Ys. ● Forced to pick an all-time fave, Bill Wyman goes for sparkling 1961 teamup Ray Charles And Betty Carter. ● Jennifer Warnes’ Saturday night involves Emmylou Harris’s Boulder To Birmingham, her lament for Gram Parsons from 1975 LP Pieces Of The Sky.
What music are you currently grooving to? I’ve just finished mixing and mastering the latest Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings studio album, Studio Time, and I’m very proud of it. Apart from that, I’ve been listening to this wonderful Norwegian girl singer Sigrid, who is fantastic. She has perfect pitch. What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album? I’m an old sod so my music tastes go back a good way. Ray Charles And Betty Carter – the vocal intimacy between them is magic. A close second is The Best Of Mose Allison, a man who crossed the blues with a lovely touch of jazz. And Dire Straits’ Communiqué has one of my very favourite tracks, Once Upon A Time In The West. What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it? It was in Anerley, south-east London in 1953. I sold my stamp collection, and with the little money I got I bought a wind-up record player and an old 78 of Les Paul & Mary Ford singing The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise. It was the first record I heard that featured the electric guitar. I was fortunate in later life to have Les Paul as a friend.
Which musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be? For his voice, Chris Rea, my great mate. In another life, Ray Charles – the greatest artist of the 20th century in my eyes. Or, down south, George Jones – the Rolls Royce of country singers. What do you sing in the shower? I don’t waste my voice in the shower. Also, I almost drowned as a child and I’m scared of water. I get in and out as quickly as possible. What is your favourite Saturday night record? Chris Rea – Road To Hell. I’d love to do an album with him. And your Sunday morning record? Dr. John & Rickie Lee Jones – Makin’ Whoopee. These guys sing it special. It’s a close-run thing with the Ray Charles live version. Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings’ Studio Time is released by Edsel/ Demon.
SPRING EUROPEAN TOUR 2018 25/5 Sala Rem - Murcia, ES 26/5 Block Party - Castellon, ES 27/5 Auditorio Manuel Falla - Granada, ES 28/5 Sala X - Sevilla, ES 30/5 Loco Club - Valencia, ES 31/5 Porta Caeli - Valladolid, ES 01/6 Southside - Madrid, ES 02/6 Red Rooster Festival - Suffolk, UK 04/6 100 Club - London, UK 05/6 Bitterzoet - Amsterdam, NL 06/6 Le Flow - Paris, FR 07/6 Insomni Festival - Girona, ES 08/6 Escensario Santander - Santander, ES 09/6 S. Liquidos - Lanzarote, ES 13/6 Las Armas - Zaragoza, ES 14/6 Kafe Antzokia - Bilbao, ES 15/6 Helldorado - Vitoria, ES 16/6 Teatro Municipal - Ferrol, ES
OUT APRIL 21ST (RECORD STORE DAY) ON YEP ROC RECORDS
Robyn Hitchcock ON TOUR 11/5 12/5 15/5 16/5 17/5 18/5 19/5 22/5 23/5 24/5 25/5 26/5 29/5 30/5 31/5 1/6 2/6
Manchester Academy - Manchester, UK (FULL BAND) ULU Live - London, UK (FULL BAND) Fat Lils - Witney, UK The Louisiana - Bristol, UK Unitarian Church - Cambridge, UK Unitarian Church - Cambridge, UK Kino Theatr - St Leonards On Sea, UK Fruit - Hull, UK Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room - Liverpool, UK Oran Mor - Glagow, UK The HUBS - Sheield, UK More Music - Morecombe, UK Kingkerswell Parish Church - Newton Abbot, UK The Brooks - Southampton, UK Ramsgate Music Hall - Ramsgate, UK The Workmans Club - Dublin, IE Cyprus Avenue - Cork, IE
Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road London NW1 7DT Tel: 020 7437 9011 Reader queries: mojoreaders@ bauermedia.co.uk Subscriber queries: bauer@ subscription.co.uk General e-mail: mojo@ bauermedia.co.uk Website: mojo4music.com
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 Thanks for their help with this issue:
THEORIES, RANTS, ETC. MOJO welcomes letters for publication. Write to: MOJO Mail, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT. NEW E-mail: email@example.com
ELEVEN YEARS AGO, THE ARCTIC MONKEYS
appeared on MOJO’s cover for the first time. Feted as nothing less than the saviours of guitar music, Alex Turner was garlanded as a songwriter in a great British tradition. “He reminds me of a rock’n’roll Alan Bennett,” Paul Weller told us. “He captures those everyday things that everyone sees.” In the midst of all the fuss, though, the band were notably cautious. “We don’t know what we want to be yet,” admitted guitarist Jamie Cook. Since then, Turner has left Sheffield for Los Angeles, found numerous creative strategies to avoid being cast as the voice of his generation, and still seen his band become one of the biggest on the planet. Where could he go in 2018, to keep confounding expectations? To the moon, perhaps. This month, the band unveil to MOJO their most startling reinvention yet. The trip stretches from Rio to east London, from a vintage studio outside Paris to the louche environs of the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Along the way, you’ll find Turner tuning in to Dion and Serge Gainsbourg, and revealing more about himself than he’s ever done before. “It’s like the natural place to have gone, after that first record, was somewhere around ’ere,” Turner tells Danny Eccleston. A place beyond the earth’s atmosphere, but with maximum gravity…
Keith Cameron, Fred Dellar, Del Gentleman, Pat Gilbert, Anna Wood Among this month’s contributors: Matt Allen, Martin Aston, Mike Barnes, Mark Blake, Glyn Brown, Stevie Chick, Andy Cowan, Fred Dellar, Tom Doyle, Daryl Easlea, Paul Elliott, Jim Farber, David Fricke, Andy Fyfe, Pat Gilbert, Sophie Harris, David Hutcheon, Jim Irvin, Colin Irwin, David Katz, James McNair, Ben Myers, Kris Needs, Chris Nelson, Mark Paytress, Andrew Perry, Jon Savage, Victoria Segal, David Sheppard, Michael Simmons, Sylvie Simmons, Jeff Tamarkin, Kieron Tyler, Charles Waring, Roy Wilkinson, Lois Wilson, Stephen Worthy
Among this month’s photographers: Cover: Andrew Cotterill (insets: Getty, Pieter M van Hattem) Jay Blakesberg, Martin Bostock, Danny Clinch, Caroline Coon, Henry Diltz, Guy Eppel, Annette Green, Steve Gullick, Alexis Maryon, Katja Ruge, Mark Seliger, Paul Slattery, Chuck Stewart, Baron Wolman.
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JOHN MULVEY, EDITOR What is this flash of joy that’s giving me new life? Congratulations on this month’s publication [MOJO 294], and especially on the accompanying CD [Big Sensations], perhaps the finest in the long and distinguished history of the magazine. The music featured did indeed shape London’s Mod scene, but it was also big in the North-west, notably through The Donays’ Devil In His Heart, the flipside of Bad Boy – which I’d never heard (thank you) – and James Ray’s If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, very well covered by the underrated and surprisingly bluesy Freddie And The Dreamers, and tracks like Just A Little Bit, Watch Your Step and I Like It Like That which were staples on the Cavern scene. It also included the forlornly fabulous The Town I Live In which sold well in the UK, and a few that I’ve never heard of… wow! Take me back…
Ian MacDonald, via e-mail
We critics… do what we can Happy 50th Birthday indeed to that “beautiful record of a horrible time”: Love’s Forever Changes. I enjoyed Jim Irvin’s reassessment of this LP, which
consistently and rightly appears in lists of classic albums of that era. I was born in ’68, and grew up listening to my parents’ record collection, which naturally included The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys and Neil Diamond. I knew nothing much at all of Arthur Lee and Love until the early ’90s, when Forever Changes was increasingly being cited in the music press as a major influence on bands of the day, such as Shack. I had to investigate! So began a hunt for a copy of the album with the multicolour on white, almost African continentshaped sleeve art. “That’s my favourite album”: the words of the girl in Vibes Records in Bury, as she handed me a CD reissue of the record. It’s now one of my favourites too, and I was lucky enough to see Arthur and Love (actually Baby Lemonade) perform the album in full, brilliantly, at the Manchester Academy in 2003. No doubt there will be much attention later this year on The Beatles’ White Album, as it too reaches 50. Yes, it’s an OK album. Probably should have been shorter and more political. I prefer the beautifully stinging Forever Changes.
Stephen Gregory, Altrincham
➢ MOJO 11
Why are you smiling Total guess, but as Roger Daltrey i this month’s cover [MOJO 294] I presume the quotes above the le are from McVicar? Thanks for Ga Coombes’ Self Portrait, by the way Confessing to putting out the bins his underpants and a trilby made m laugh out loud.
Neil Martin, Cyprus
Let us prey: eagle-eyed reader spots Holly has a buzzard, not a falcon.
The vague memories… In addition to the letter of Hans-Jürgen Klitsch [MOJO 294] about the so-called “Scandinavian Tour” of Led Zeppelin, I can confirm that the tour was indeed bigger than one thought. I attended a gig in September 1968, probably the seventh, by The New Yardbirds in Lekkerkerk, near Rotterdam, the Netherlands. So maybe I was present at their first performance ever!
Kees Vogel, Sliedrecht
I’m not afraid to tell the truth now
Ruddy Bitch, via e-mail Thanks for the article on Steeleye Span [How To Buy, MOJO 294] and choosing the albums I produced to be four out of the Top 5 on your list. Only disappointing thing was you spelt my name incorrectly. It’s SANDY ROBERTON – no S.
Sandy Roberton, via e-mail
Re: The ZTT Label Blows Up!, Eyewitness, MOJO 294. Please allow me to add a bit to the comments of my former label colleagues who more or less omitted [journalist and ZTT conceptualist] Paul Morley from their criticism. For sure, Trevor Horn was a genius and reached his peak in the first half of the ’80s. And the ZTT contracts were from another age of exploitation. No doubt about it… But another millstone around the neck of ZTT was Mr Morley, who brought to fall what he had helped to build up – at least in the case of Propaganda. The way he handled his office affair – with our singer – seriously harmed our reputation with record companies on the continent [Claudia Brücken married Paul Morley in February 1985]. And it became a total disaster when he started to manipulate our artistic vision in his campaigns or artwork contributions. Worst and unacceptable for me was when he did not use a quote by [anti-Nazi activist] Sophie Scholl, but one by [terrorist] Ulrike Meinhof in the CD booklet of our album A Secret Wish. How controversial, how risqué… how stupid. But for putting us on that rollercoaster called ZTT: Immer noch Danke sehr.
Ralf Dörper, founder of Propaganda, via e-mail Re: Eyewitness, MOJO 294. That’s not a falcon [as noted in photo caption, see pic]. It’s a buzzard!
Nellie The Hierophant, via postcard
The squalid catalogue of your mistakes! For all Mose Allison’s musical mastery, I’m not sure drumming was ever one of his strengths. Besides, the
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photo of ‘Mose’ behind the traps on page 7 [MOJO 294] looks rather more like Frank Isola, who drummed with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and (doubtless the source, somehow, of the error) Mose Allison.
GREA GIFT!! T !
An orgy of brutal realism At the risk of raining on the parade of hyperbole that has marched through the music press since the death of Mark E Smith, may I dare offer a little balance into proceedings before the funeral caravan rolls on? Although the outpouring of affection for Smith and The Fall was understandable, we surely need some sense of perspective. After all, it’s doubtful if Smith would have broken through in any era other than that of punk when, apart from some notable exceptions, style decked substance and attitude trumped ability. Fans of The Fall are a stubbornly loyal lot who tend to rationalise Smith’s tuneless yawping – usually half-buried under the band’s protracted repetitions – as a virtue of pure punk principles. Superannuated punks are rather like their earlier Teddy Boy counterparts in the doggedness and sentimentality of their devotion to heroes. Well, bless ’em – but let’s try to keep our feet on the ground here. For MOJO’s Ian Harrison to assert that The Fall rival Dylan, Beefheart and Miles Davis “for sheer uniqueness” is, at the very least, questionable, unless he means in the very superficial sense of them all being unusual and clearly – though not wholly – uncompromising, as well as being around for quite a while. If that’s what he means, then that’s just about OK, but to otherwise mention Mark E Smith in the same breath as Bob Dylan, probably the world’s greatest songwriter of the last six decades, not to mention a genuine avant-gardiste with a remarkable vocal range and an innovative jazz virtuoso, is surely going too far.
Ian Roberts, Leicester
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Printing: William Gibbons MOJO (ISSN 1351-0193) is published 12 times a year by Bauer Consumer Media Ltd. Bauer Consumer Media Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 01176085, registered address Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough PE2 6EA Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica, NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to MOJO, Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA To ensure that you don’t miss an issue, visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk for the best subscriptions offers. For subscription or back issue queries, please contact CDS Global on Bauer@subscription.co.uk Phone from the UK on 01858 43 8884. Phone from overseas on +44 (0)1858 43 8884 For enquires on overseas newsstand sales e-mail Paul.Maher@seymour.co.uk © All material published is copyright of Bauer Consumer Media Ltd. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the prior permission of the publisher. MOJO accepts no responsibility for any unsolicited material. To find out more about where to buy MOJO, contact Frontline Ltd, at Midgate House, Midgate, Peterborough PE1 1TN. Tel: 01733 555161. COMPLAINTS: Bauer Consumer Media Limited is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (www.ipso.co.uk) and endeavours to respond to and resolve your concerns quickly. Our Editorial Complaints Policy (including full details of how to contact us about editorial complaints and IPSO’s contact details) can be found at www.bauermediacomplaints.co.uk. Our e mail address for editorial complaints covered by the Editorial Complaints Policy is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE HOT NEWS AND BIZARRE STORIES FROM PLANET MOJO
Unearthed and curated! Lou Reed’s verse and prose from his early-’70s sabbatical from rock.
ne guy was from Wales,” writes Lou Reed in a new book of his uncollected poetry and other writings, titled Do Angels Need Haircuts? This amused reference to an early encounter with Velvet Underground collaborator John Cale comes in a mid-’60s letter to the writer Delmore Schwartz, under whom Reed had studied literature at Syracuse University. After he left the Velvets in August 1970, having publicly forsaken rock’n’roll for poetry, the written word was on Reed’s mind again. Do Angels Need Haircuts? centres on a reading he gave at St Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City in March 1971. “It’s wonderful to picture that night and to picture Lou as a very, very ambitious young poet, very arrogant, very nervous, and conﬁdent at the same time,” says Laurie Anderson, Reed’s widow and the book’s co-producer. “He was always hilarious. I would say I was not fully aware of him then. When I met him in 1991 I thought he was British!” The volume features 12 poems and
Ode ’ed: (clockwise from main) a halo’d Lou enjoys a drink; ’60s Reed photographed by Moe Tucker; the book and 45; Laurie Anderson; the cassette of his NYC poetry reading.
“IT’S WONDERFUL TO PICTURE LOU AS A VERY, VERY AMBITIOUS YOUNG POET.” Laurie Anderson
prose pieces as read on the night, including the Velvet Underground track The Murder Mystery. The publication highlights Reed’s sardonic wit, including his introductions from the reading. “I don’t have a pejorative view towards queens,” he observes at one point. “You have to remember that I’m bi. That I’m biased. Right?” The poems display a wide stylistic span. Lipstick could have become a lyric on the Transformer album (“If lipstick were black you’d wear it/If love were straight you’d curl it”). There’s also the more self-serious oratorical voice of We Are The People (“We are the crystal gaze returned through the density and immensity of a berserk nation”). “He was this punk kid ﬁnding his way,” says Anderson, “but he also saw himself in a line of writers – which you can see when he makes a reference to [James Joyce’s] Ulysses. There were many, many versions [of Lou], as we all are many versions of ourselves.” The book also features striking Mick Rock portraits and much fascinating ephemera. The initial edition of 1,000 adds a 7-inch single featuring unheard performances recorded on cassette on the night. It’s taken from the now-ongoing Lou Reed Archive, which sits with New York Public Library, containing 600 hours of audio among masses of print material and other items. This archive will be further drawn on, as Anderson explains. “I just had a meeting today about doing some things with drones and his work on Metal Machine Music,” says Anderson. “We’re also doing The Art Of The Straight Line, a book about tai chi. There will be other anthologies as well – poetry and lyrics.” As for Delmore Schwartz, he died in 1966 but was celebrated in Reed’s 1982 track My House. “To the end of his life Lou was quoting Delmore,” says Anderson. “I found an account of people who’d spent money on the up-keep of Delmore’s grave, and Lou had been paying $300 a year. I was so touched by that.” Roy Wilkinson Do Angels Need Haircuts? is published by Anthology Editions.
© 2018 M.Tucker, Andrew Cifranic/Courtesy Plain Dealer Photo Archive
REAL GOOD RHYMES TOGETHER
APRIL 30 2-DVD package Detroit Techno (Wienerworld) collects French director Jacqueline Caux’s documentaries Never Stop – A Music That Resists (2017) and The Cycles Of The Mental Machine (2006). The former tells techno’s story, with contributions from pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Jeff Mills; the latter traces etroit’s interlinking usical history, with e help of DJ legend he Electrifying ojo and Underground esistance’s Mad Mike Banks (above), nterviewedinshadow…
FOLK ROOTS, NEW ROUTES A new country: (clockwise from top) Kaia Kater, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola Carter and Peggy Seeger.
hen the Cambridge organisers asked me to be guest curator,” says Rhiannon Giddens, “I said, Does this mean I get to be there the whole time and be around this beautiful vibe? Some festivals, people go to hang out and drink beer, maybe see a band or two. At Cambridge they really want to hear what’s going on.” A long-standing admirer of the Cambridge Folk Festival, the North Carolina ﬁddler, banjo player and voice will do her bit to enhance the experience still further with a specially selected programme of talent playing the Augus event at Cherry Hinton Hall. At Giddens invitation, folk elder Peggy Seeger, Can mountain-banjo player Kaia Kater, harm married couple Birds Of Chicago, ‘South Gothic’ guitarist Amythyst Kiah and Bris country-soul voice Yola Carter will share bill with First Aid Kit, Patti Smith, John P Rosanne Cash, Janis Ian and others. “Coming from the black string band tion, from a group like the Carolina Cho Drops, which began at the feet of an eld [folklorist and musician Sule Greg Wilso the thought of community is deﬁnitely something I’ve been connected to,” explains Giddens. “It’s that idea of creating community and making opportunities happen.” Part of this involves addressing what she believes in America and elsewhere is the “very narrow, white idea” of folk musicians as “a guy with a guitar, or a
“IT’S NOT DIVERSIFYING. IT’S JUST LETTING IT BE THE DIVERSITY
ba j g on the African-American artists and artists of colour. It really boils down to the idea of whose stories are we telling in folk music ?That’s an issue, because people of colour have been telling stories through folk music since the 1500s, indelibly, in America and the UK. The story of a nation is a mixture of everybody, and when we start narrow-ising the narrative, it does everybody a disservice. It’s not diversifying. It’s just letting it be the diversity that it is.” Broadening the narrative is clearly something she enjoys. “They’re all selﬁsh choices, because I love them all!” she says. “The life and the vibe that Yola brings is amazing, and Amythyst is just a powerhouse, she’s tapping into this ancient, tral sound and challenging f things, just by being, ha ha! And Ali , from Birds Of Chicago – the emotion ack, they’re fearless. Kaia’s very young epresenting a vantage point that’s and undertold. Everybody is – hing.” ew voices are, of course, part of a tinuum of the people’s music. Seeger, every generation of music learn from just watching her stage minutes,” says Giddens. “She always ories that need to be told and I’ve oked up to her. [Her song] The Ballad y Massey is about a man who came m Iraq and it’s beautiful, it does the hat ballads have done for hundreds rs. The singer gets out of the way and tory comes through. That was a very ghtful moment for me – you can still hat. And she does.”
Millie Jackson (above) plays the O2 Greenwich, her first London show for aeons. It’s gearing up to be quite a year for the R&B legend: in February the Georgia House Of Representatives passed a resolution commending her many accomplishments. In humble mood, Millie observed, “I do appreciate this… [there have been] times when I scratch my head and say, Why? I haven’t done anything but open my mouth and sing and get paid for doing it.”
MAY 29 Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye by the late musician’s manager Dave Lory and MOJO’s Jim Irvin is published by Post Hill Press. Interviews with intimates and collaborators (some speaking for the first time) feature, while Lory recalls tour experiences, studio time, the second album Buckley (above) did not live to complete and “what went down immediately after Lory got that fateful call, ‘Jeff is missing.’”
Reto Sterchi, Erika Goldring, John Morgan, Vicki Sharp, Getty (2)
Guest programmer Rhiannon Giddens explains her inclusive vision for this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival.
discover the best new releases
Eels The Deconstruction
Laura Veirs The Lookout
Josh T. Pearson The Straight Hits!
Josh Rouse Love In The Modern Age
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
out now on CD & vinyl
First new album in four years from the Mark Oliver Everett-fronted band. Includes Today Is The Day.
This proliﬁc songwriter proves the depth of her musical skill on this collection of inimitable and exquisite folk-pop songs.
Josh’s second solo album was recorded in Texas and includes Straight To The Top and You Set Me Straight.
This infectious collection pushes Rouse’s limits and forges a bold new chapter more than 20 years into his career.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra Sex And Food
Dylan Carlson Conquistador
Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse
DMA’s For Now
out now on CD & double vinyl
out 27 April on CD & vinyl
out 27 April on CD & vinyl
out 27 April on CD & vinyl
A shapeshifting album that spans battered drum machine funk, doomy and thrashing rock and psychedelic disco.
Debut solo album from Dylan Carlson, drone metal pioneer and founding member of the iconic band Earth.
Speedy’s third album is urgent and taut, adding textures like Linn drums and whirled guitar processing to their off-kilter hooks.
Sydney’s DMA’s are back with their much-anticipated new album. Includes Dawning and In The Air.
Grouper Grid Of Points
Malena Zavala Aliso
Ben Glover Shorebound
Simian Mobile Disco Murmurations
out 27 April on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD & vinyl
out 4 May on CD
out 11 May on CD & vinyl
This series of stark, minimal and vulnerable songs, woven with emotive silences, is another great addition to the Grouper canon.
Set to take the world by storm, this is the debut album from Malena Zavala inspired by Beach House, Brian Eno and Tame Impala.
Here, Ben joins forces with friends on both sides of the Atlantic including Gretchen Peters, Ricky Ross (Deacon Blue) and Mary Gauthier.
The British electronic duo are back with their ﬁfth album which features guest vocals from singing collective Deep Throat Choir.
home of entertainment
FACT SHEET Title: Drive This Comet Across The Sky/ Dynamos And Tremolos Date: June Production: Bill Nelson Songs: TBC The Buzz: “I don’t sit and meditate, but making the music is like a meditation.” Bill Nelson
BILL NELSON The august guitar visionary shows the dilettantes how it’s done with two new albums of retro dream-futurism.
ob Dylan has his Never Ending Tour,” says Bill Nelson, down the line from north Yorkshire. “This is a never-ending recording session.” When he led art rock cults Be-Bop Deluxe in the ’70s, Wakeﬁeld’s foremost guitar hero/ambient explorer said he wished it were possible to release albums every month, like a magazine. Having recorded in his home studio and elsewhere since the early ’80s, he’s still aspiring. So far, there are more than 120 albums in the solo Nelson canon, a number that will have appreciated by the time you read this. “I’ve got 12 albums ﬁnished and ready to go,” he says. “Because I record constantly, as soon as I ﬁnish one I’ll start on something else, and they soon pile up. Some come together quite quickly, others take ages. I don’t always start off with an album in mind, I just record and one will emerge, or I’ll sit down with a deﬁnite concept.” Currently brewing are the download set Drive This Comet Across The Sky – “a vocal album with a twist, more rock than the instrumental or ambient stuff, louder and more energetic” – and Dynamos And Tremolos. “That one’s instrumental, a marriage of contemporary guitar, the tremolo, with semi-retro synth sounds, which is the dynamo side of it,” says Nelson, who starts daily at 11.30am and, punctuated by meals and walks, carries on until 10.30pm-ish. Working with a 24-track hard disc recorder
Hot valves and strange voltages: Nelson gets in on the beam in his secret studio, March 2018.
“BEING IN THIS ROOM, IT’S ALMOST OUTSIDE OF TIME.”
and a Mackie mixing desk, his methods are hands-on. “I like being able to push faders and turn knobs,” he says. “It feels more tangible, like you’re actually in touch with the music. Mousing stuff around on a screen doesn’t feel quite connected, somehow.” Another reason for his prodigious output is his snug, ﬁnely tuned studio, a spare bedroom packed with recording gear, vintage sci-ﬁ toys and “retro-kitsch memorabilia” that all have personal relevance. ”I feel like you need to feel really at ease, and free of time constraints, when you’re recording,” he says. “Being in this room, it’s almost outside of time. And wherever I look, I’ll ﬁnd some inspiration. I guess these objects bring a sense of my past, and that ability to dream you have as a child, coming into the present.” When MOJO calls, this mind-opened state is being brought to bear on audio/visual pieces which Nelson will debut live – a rare activity since he lost the hearing in his right ear in 2014 – at his 70th birthday event in December, when he will play solo and with his improvising trio Orchestra Futura at Leeds University’s Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall. He’s also planning a neo-classical orchestral album with vocals. A musician whose collaborators have included Yellow Magic Orchestra, Reeves Gabrels, David Sylvian, Harold Budd and many more, he says he’d like to work with Bill Frisell in the future. “I’m kind of a workaholic,” he admits, “but it’s not like work, it’s more like playing around. I think that’s why I’ve never had a block. I enjoy the process too much.” Ian Harrison See billnelson.com for more info
Martin Bostock, Getty (2)
…Liverpool electropop oddities LADYTRON (vocali and Helen Marnie, righ working with produce Abbiss (Adele) on the new album since 2011 NEKO CASE ’s Hell-On arrives in June. Recorded in Sweden with Peter Bjorn And John’s Bjorn Yttling, guests include Mark Lanegan, Laura Veirs and k.d. lang.
“I write songs from a feeling of th folks who feel olated,” says Case, me in Vermont own during the ng …the San Union Tribune ted last month that BIE HANCK ’s new LP will ure contributions m Kendrick Lamar, yne Shorter, masi Washington
and others. “I’m still learning,” noted Herbie …THE CRANBERRIES will ﬁnish the album they were recording with singer Dolores O’Riordan, who died in January. “As this is something that we started as a band, with Dolo push ahead and ﬁ explained …VIC and the NIGHTI GALES have rec a collaborative alb …Kevin Shields revealed more
information about new MY BLOODY VALENTINE music to NPR. He said he envisaged two EPs and an album to be road-tested live. “I want to get… into a more present state which I’ve never really been in” t) cancelled March, but plained, orking in recording the follow ssiah…
Have cigar, will travel: Trumpbuster Mélissa Laveaux, medical school’s loss and music’s gain.
Canadian-Haitian indie-folk voice and guitar transmits rights and history. t a time of turbulence, violence and discord, it makes a change to meet a musician who has a grateful message for a divisive world leader. Just as Mélissa Laveaux was wondering how she could market 12 folk-tinged songs inﬂuenced by her Haitian heritage, the American president made his infamous “shithole countries” comment. “A lot of people couldn’t have found Haiti on a map, but he’s selling my album for me,” she reasons. “This idiot, talking about stuff he doesn’t know about. But thank you, Donald Trump, for doing my job for me.” The Ottawa-born, now Paris-based singer probably didn’t need POTUS’s support to get noticed, however. After releasing the album Camphor & Copper in 2006, she had been spotted by the Paris-based No Format! label, which was won over by her dexterous ﬁnger-picking, her way with a Caribbean groove, and her singing in English, French and Creole. Her second LP, Dying Is A Wild Night, was an indie-folk rock collection that demonstrated little desire to capitalise on what had gone before. “The label told me that all they wanted me to do was write songs that appealed to me, proper songwriting,” she says. “As long as they like the root of the work, then they’ll pay for it, and I think that’s fair – and it means my albums
“I CAN KEEP PEOPLE CONFUSED AND MY MANAGER FRUSTRATED.”
● For fans of Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Andy Palacio, Martha Jean-Claude ● “I cried recording some of these songs because I was going through stuff,” says Laveaux. “I was singing songs from my childhood and it kind of felt blasphemous to partly fuck with them.” ● A siwèl is both a Haitian plum and the Creole for an itinerant troubadour.
don’t need to sound alike. I can keep people confused and my manager frustrated.” Continuing that theme, her third album, Radyo Siwèl, ﬁnds KEY TRACKS Laveaux immersed in the ● Dodo Titit (Camphor traditional music of Haiti, the & Copper) island her teenage parents ﬂed ● Hash Pipe (Dying Is while it was ruled by the tyranniA Wild Night) ● La Sirèn La Balèn cal Baby Doc Duvalier. She bought (Radyo Siwèl) history books – learning that Haiti had been occupied by the United States from 1915 to 1934 was an eye-opener – and relearnt the songs of the civil rights activist Martha Jean-Claude that had ﬁlled the house she grew up in. Surprisingly, her parents were anything but encouraging. “My dad bought me my ﬁrst guitar, just after we returned from a visit to Haiti when I was 12, but my mom’s instinct was to say: ‘You’re terrible, your singing’s terrible.’ I sent them a link to my album in September; in March I found out they hadn’t listened to it. They still want me to go to medical school.” Then Laveaux has to conclude our interview – she’s giving a lecture to Paris schoolchildren about punk and marginalised societies. “It’s very exciting because it’s messing with their preconceptions of things. Watching videos of Les Rita Mitsouko – which they think is just 1980s French pop music, not ‘punk’ – it’s amazing seeing them having their ideas of a performer destroyed: ‘She [singer Catherine Ringer] isn’t trying to be pretty or seductive.’ I look forward to shattering preconceptions at every corner and turn, it’s kind of my job.” David Hutcheon
AN AMALGAMATION OF RECORD SHOPS AND LABELS DEDICATED TO BRINGING YOU NEW MUSIC
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THE THIRD EYE FOUNDATION
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WAKE THE DEAD ICI D’AILLEURS LP / CD
MIND OVER MIRRORS BELLOWING SUN PARADISE OF BACHELORS LP / CD
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CZARFACE & MF DOOM CZARFACE MEETS METAL FACE! GRANDSTAND MEDIA LP / CD
THE SHACKS HAZE BIG CROWN LP / CD
MY SWEET MOVIDA BLOW UP LP / 2CD
NO. 1 WINSPEAR LP / CD
THE LOUDER I CALL, THE FASTER IT RUNS MERGE RECORDS LP / CD
NUKE EARTH SLOVENLY LP / CD
THE CAVEMEN DIRTY WATER RECORDS LP / CD
KHÖME KAKKÄ DIRTY WATER RECORDS LP / CD
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BROUGHT TO LIFE AS NEW SONGS BY CHRIS CORNELL I ROSANNE CASH ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION ELVIS COSTELLO I RUSTON KELLY JOHN MELLENCAMP I BRAD PAISLEY JEWEL I KACEY MUSGRAVES AND MORE
FLAME 1 FOG
Where The Bug and producer Burial find the terror within urban Britain – worse now Bargain Booze has closed – on a slo-mo detonation of desolate grind. Find It: Bandcamp
THE PURPLE PUDDING CLAUSE FALLING
PORT SULPHUR THE LANE
Ex-Dolly Mixture Vocalist Rachel Bor and producer-spouse Steve Lovell bring bucolic inducement to get chemically enhanced. In the zone of Julian Cope’s Fried, which Lovell produced in 1984! Find It: Bandcamp Where Vic Godard, Davy Henderson and Sexual Objects’ Douglas MacIntyre team for a gliding indie-synth escapist reverie. Lyricist Vic lends his dulcet tones to a song for warm evenings. Find It: YouTube
MOJOPLAYLIST Moisten your reeds for this month s sonic beach party, with Afro-fusion, Lone Star roots and UK dub concrète!
1KAMASI WASHINGTON Not one to shirk a challenge, jazz’s Prince Regent follows The Epicc with another marathon odyssey. Across two CDs, Heaven And Earth pursues Washington’s twin themes of social justice and spiritual elevation. Here’s where it all starts: a ravishing, Latin-tinged cover of the theme from a 1972 Bruce Lee movie, repurposed as a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter. “Our time as victims is over,” sing Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible. “We will no longer ask for justice/Instead we will take our retribution.” Find it: Spotify/Apple BRIAN JOHNSON WITH MICK FLEETWOOD ROUTE 66
AC/DC’s voice and the Mac’s drummer together at last, at the latter’s restaurant in Maui doing Chuck’s rock’n’roll cornerstone in a swinging blues style. Wasn’t Brian meant to be retiring from live work? Not on this evidence. Find It: YouTube
SHANNON SHAW BROKE MY OWN
CHEIKH LÔ SET
ORBITAL FT PRO HAWKING WHERE
Shaw’s lead track from her debut solo album adds a lush soul weepie to the great pantheon of telephonic-pop singles (see also The White Stripes, Blondie, ELO). “Don’t worry about this heart of mine… you’ll only find static on the line.” Find it: YouTube Featuring fathoms-dee mentor Youssou N’Dour, ge Sufi spiritual depths, here’s newly remastered 1996 deb Find it: Streaming services
Filmed at the 2012 Summer ny, the Hartnoll brothers are visionary Stephen Hawking specs, explaining why the H provide us with “a complete Find It: YouTube Getty, Youri Lenquette
FANNY WALKED THE EARTH LURED AWAY
SHAKEY GRAVES MANSION DOOR
Action pact: (above) Kamasi Washington returns the punch; (below) Cheikh Lô is set for deep grooves.
Warm-blooded, deftly arranged roots-pop single from Texan Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s fifth album as Shakey Graves. Hits all those Tom Petty-located big-sky-scraping pleasure centres. Find it: Streaming services
“FLAME 1 FIND THE TERROR WITHIN URBAN BRITAIN.”
SNAPPED ANKLES ENERGY FLASH!
Joey Beltram’s two-step trance techno monster re-interpreted with vocals entreatingly high in the mix but otherwise faithful to the pulse-altering intensity of the original. From a Record Store Day covers EP. Find it: Streaming services
JESS WILLIAMSON I SEE THE WHITE
Having relocated to LA to examine her inner-visions, the opener from the Texan singer-songwriter’s excellent Cosmic Wink comes with an on-beach dance routine video. Find it: YouTube
THE CURE A FOREST (TREE MIX)
From Mixed Up, the soon-to-be-reissued predecessor of new Cure remix album Torn Down (Mixed Up Extras), here’s its dub of 1980’s haunted woods classic. Find It: YouTube
RAY LAMONTAGNE SUCH A SIMPLE THING
Sharing melodic DNA with Wild Horses (the Burritos’ version, not the Stones’), Reluctant Ray is back with this heartsore lovely from his seventh album. Its slide guitar supplication bodes well for the album, if not for the heart. Find it: Various streaming services
AKA pioneering ’70s rockers Fanny, here Jean and June Millington and drummer Brie Howard reunite for a quietly anthemic meditation on the importance of buggering on. Find It: YouTube
FIST OF FURY
Rotterdam Talking Heads/Television enthusiasts jut out with a riveting chugger of blasé threat and moral ambivalence, with Moe Tucker drums and scrabbly guitar solo. From their self-titled debut. Find It: Bandcamp
CÉLIA NA BOCA DO SOL
AZEKEL MR TAXI MAN
Brazilian singer Célia Regina Cruz brings a swish of red velvet glamour to Arthur Verocai’s hip-hop-sampled original; from her rare second self-titled 1972 LP, reissued by Mr Bongo next month. Find it: Soundcloud “Twenty-five and I can’t drive,” admits the Gorillaz/Massive Attack collaborator over a jazz-funk groove. Could be a West Coast pool-side jam, except it’s about being driven around London. Find it: Streaming services
EY & BONNIE LLY THE BRIDGE covers EP opens with her s recent Nick Drake CD. ms up with Will Oldham on.
ING HED THE SK Y -key British outlier lasts 102 style commune jams, raga, nd what might be a kora.
ERS BEAR CAGE meninblack went to Guildford heroics from originals Burnel en Warne and McCauley. This omp got the tickers moving.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR THE LIQUIDATOR
ROBERT WYATT TO MARK EVERY WHERE
(From The End Of An Ear, CBS, 1970)
(From Islands, Island, 1971)
“This was from a time when I was starting to be in experimental bands in Colchester, when I was about 17. Robert Wyatt’s being very, very free here. He’s got some trumpet players in and it’s very tone-clustery, with a lot of tape slap echo on it, so it’s quite disconcerting, very repetitive and mesmerising. The cataclysms at the end of the songs on this album used to remind me of the sound I’d experience in my head when I was coming round from a fainting ﬁt, which I used to have quite a lot of. A lot of his sounds are strangely subconscious, and unstable. They can make you feel anxious. It has its own psychedelic nature. Wyatt’s vocal chords sound like they evolved on another planet – he could quite easily be something that came out of the sea or a cave one day.”
KING CRIMSON LADIES OF THE ROAD “One of the most mind-blowing songs ever. It’s phenomenal, it’s got the most catastrophically distorted guitar sounds, the ﬁlthiest sax playing ever, and the production is just outrageous. It’s the weirdest song, with Mellotrons, backwards-y organ-y bits, incredible drumming, beautiful backing vocals, and it’s also very dark. I think it’s about women you meet on the road – they might be called groupies, I’m not sure you really call them that any more – and it describes all kinds of strange stuff, a bit icky at times. I had it on a cassette, which I lost for about 25 years, but when I heard it again, the weird few notes Robert Fripp plays instantly transported me back to being 18.”
(From Time Vaults, Sofa Sound, 1982) “It’s quite a jolly song, from an album of outtakes and rehearsals from the early ’70s. It’s got a noise at the beginning like a demon laughing, then this really pretty piano tune and Guy Evans’ ridiculous drumming! Peter Hammill’s having a little pop at the all the guys in the band, despairing of them and their situation. Hugh Banton made me realise that the organ can actually slake my desire for noisy guitars, quite awesomely. This is music that was instilled in me when my mind was like an open wound – it infected it and then I healed over, so it’s there forever.”
4WEFOREVER MORE SING
5I’LLJACKIE MCLEAN KEEP LOVING
(From Yours Forever More, RCA Victor, 1970)
“I watched this movie Permissive, which is an excellent document of the folk rock era – depressing scenes of wandering around central London in the early hours. This song was on it – I thought, Crikey, this voice! It was Alan Gorrie, who also played bass. It’s wonderful production, with Stratocasters and lots of nice reverb and amazingly recorded drums, with tape echo in the voice and then a tambourine will appear. I love simple, brilliantly recorded music that has a few elements coming in to tickle your ear hole. Onnie McIntyre and Alan Gorrie went on to form Average White Band, which was an interesting leap.”
(From Let Freedom Ring, Blue Note, 1963) “There are so many incredible bebop alto sax players. But Jackie McLean, who was a protégé of Charlie Parker, is a hero of mine. It’s just getting into free jazz, so there’s a few bebop passages getting into bits where he’s just screaming away. It’s a Bud Powell tune, whose life was particularly tragic, with hassle from the police and being put into Bellevue hospital. It’s pretty loose and not recorded that well, but the performance is so emotional I’m not sure they could have done it again. Jackie McLean has this thing in his tone where he seemed to pitch quite sharp, using absolutely no vibrato. When I ﬁrst heard this I had to listen to it about six more times. It’s a real soft one, slow and pretty with some bits that make your eyes well up, because it’s pain all the way through.”
Graham’s OST The End Of The F**king World is out now on Graham Coxon Records.
The Blur and solo guitar brainiac brings anxiety, ﬁlthy prog and laughing demons.
He’s got a hunch: Coxon ponders what’s under the paving stones.
OHN PRINE The country-folk commentator on writing with Phil Spector, taking punches and calisthenics. ack in 1970, everything got crazy real fast for emotionally raw yet puckish Chicagoan John Prine. “Kris Kristofferson was going ’round telling everybody that they had to listen to this new kid he’d discovered,” Prine recalls from his home in Nashville. “He did that over and over until I got signed up – still does say it! Within three months he’d introduced me to Bob Dylan and a load of my other heroes. It was a pretty steep curve from the off.” Prine’s reputation was immediately sealed by his self-titled 1971 debut, with over half its songs – among them the Vietnam protest of Sam Stone (“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes”) and Hello In There – now considered standards. Now 71, and having faced down two different cancers, Prine ofﬁcially founded his Oh Boy label in 1981 (his
Danny Clinch, Getty, Mark Seliger
website calls it “the second oldest artist-owned independent label in the country”, Dischord being the elder), and has released nearly 20 studio LPs. His latest, The Tree Of Forgiveness, is his ﬁrst new material for 13 years, and his strongest in decades. So, your first new material in 13 years. What took you so long? I lost track of time. Over the last 10 years the places we’ve been playing have been doubling and tripling without a new record. I told them, “Things are going too good, don’t ruin it with a new record.” You co-wrote a track on the album – God Only Knows – with Phil Spector. Isn’t he still in prison? It was an unﬁnished song from way back. We’d already written one song, If You Don’t Want My Love, which was a semi-hit in the UK [for Elaine Paige in 1981]. I played it to Spector about a year later to show him how it worked out, and before I left his house we’d wrote half of God Only Knows. I just ﬁnished it up before I went into the
Diamond in the rough: John Prine in Atlanta, Georgia, November 1975; (inset) the artist today.
PRINE TONES John’s five for the ages. 1 Johnny Cash The
Ways Of A Woman In Love (FROM SINGS THE SONGS THAT MADE HIM FAMOUS, SUN, 1958)
2 Bob Dylan Love
Minus Zero (FROM THE M CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH REMASTER, CAPITOL, 2005) 3 Van Morrison
M Madam George (FROM T.B. SHEETS, LONDON, 1973)
4 Jerry Lee Lewis
That Lucky Old Sun (FROM SUN ESSENTIALS, CHARLY, 2004)
5 Fats Domino M Margie (I’M READY B-SIDE,
studio last summer. I think we know a person who’s going to see him in prison, so I’m hoping to get this record to them so Spector gets to hear it. Does songwriting come to you easily? I have to work at it. For years before I made a record, and for years after, songwriting was my hobby, my getaway from everything else. Over the years it turns out this has become my job and any time something involves work I tend to run the other way. But I’m on a roll with it just now and been writing since we made this record, so it won’t be another 13 years before the next album. What’s the biggest change in the music industry since you started recording? Independent record companies. I started my own company 35 years ago and people thought we were committing suicide. I was still getting offers from major labels but I didn’t want to work that way. Things went so well for me on the road that I decided to go directly to my audience. At ﬁrst I just sold my stuff by mail, and now we’re the second oldest independent label in the US.
Why do you think your career is having its second wind? It’s a third wind! I’ve lived in Nashville for 35 years, moved here because I was a fan of old country music, but since then it’s become pop and mediocre rock’n’roll. Now some younger acts I really like have been talking about me as an inﬂuence: Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Margo Price… So that, coupled with people who were my original fans bringing their children and grandkids out to hear me. I guess I’ve ﬁnally caught up with myself. Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Roger Waters and Ron Sexsmith all claim you as one of their favourite songwriters. Who’s your go-to songwriter? Well, Bob Dylan has always been a constant. Bob opened a huge door that didn’t even exist before he built it, and he left it open. Johnny Cash’s early Sun stuff I always like. I got to know John in the last 20 years he was alive and he was such a colossal ﬁgure, it was like being around Abraham Lincoln. Van Morrison I can always depend on, and Gordon Lightfoot. You mentioned Ron Sexsmith. He’s one of the real greats, his melodies are gorgeous. You often use humour to make a serious point in your songwriting. Yep. I’ve always used humour. It’s a great buffer if you’re talking about something political with somebody from the opposite point of view. At school I was a little skinny guy with a big mouth and if you can make a big guy laugh before he punches you in the face you’ll at least get a softer punch. If you’re lucky he becomes your friend and won’t punch you at all. You appeared in the Billy Bob Thornton movie Daddy And Them . Do you have any more acting plans? I’d love to. If there’s anybody out there wants me, I still have my Actors Guild card, I’m fully paid up. How’s your health? Very good, thanks. I’ve had two cancers – lung and neck – and I had that thing where your heart goes out of rhythm and has to be stopped and started again. But things are good right now. I also got a knee replacement ﬁve days ago and I’m recuperating from that before we go on tour. It’s painful now but I’ll be dancing by then. Tell us something you’ve never told an interviewer before. I was a star gymnast in high school on the pommel horse. I beat everyone in the state but at the ﬁnals I fell off the horse and that was it, done. I loved gymnastics but I didn’t go to college, so there was no real place to do gymnastics except the circus. Andy Fyfe
LAST NIGHTA RECORD CHANGED MY LIFE
BETTYE LAVETTE The last woman standing hails Etta James’s 1960 hit All I Could Do Was Cry.
our favourite song. If all the sugar had turned to shit, what would it be? It was 1962. My parents sold corn liquor and had a jukebox in the living room. My mother was a country and western and gospel groupie, my father was a blues and gospel groupie. We listened to Ray Charles, B.B. King, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Little Esther… all music. I heard All I Could Do Was Cry at a place across the street from my school (in Detroit) called Mr Jerry’s. I was in the ninth grade. We went there every day after class and there was a jukebox there, so it must have been between 3.30 and 4 o’clock on a weekday. We’d have a quarter for the jukebox, and get a soda and three straws and a bag of potato chips. I guess it hit me. The heartbreak. That it was easier to cry than to laugh. The way she sang it and what it was about – “She was standing there with my man/I heard them
Keep on keeping on: (bottom) James’s song to break down to; (below) Bettye LaVette, patron of Mr Jerry’s, Detroit.
“IT HIT ME… IT WAS EASIER TO CRY THAN TO LAUGH.”
promise ‘til death do us part.” My boyfriend’s name was Pinky, and he was out of school by his own design. I thought he was going to marry Margie Cooper and not me. I broke down. You would have thought I had been married to someone for 30 years and they had left me! It’s because it pulls at the heart-strings and makes you cry. You know how men always sit, dabbing at their eyes, not really breaking down the way women do… it’s the minor key that does it, from Auld Lang Syne to Amazing Grace. And, I realised I sounded more like James Brown than Doris Day, so I wanted to ﬁnd someone that sounded like I sounded. So, I gravitated to Etta James and Bobby Bland and Marvin Gaye. I kind of drew on them. Pinky, he’s the father of my only child. He’s in Detroit, and as we’ve gotten older we’ve become certainly better friends. He turned out to be a mechanic, and Margie Cooper turned out to be assistant district attorney of the State Of Michigan! My husband has wrestled down all those songs I heard at Mr Jerry’s, and in my car it sounds like 1962 to 1963. A line on my new CD is ‘Come baby, remind me of where I once begun.’ And that’s what they do.” As told to Ian Harrison Bettye’s album of Bob Dylan songs Things Have Changed (Verve) is out now.
First Aid drum Kit: Klara (above) and Johanna (left) draw heads on heads.
FIRST AID KIT Stockholm’s folk siblings in their own words and by their own hands. I’d describe myself as… Klara Söderberg: A people-pleasing, emotional, independent, overthinker. Johanna Söderberg: An emotional rollercoaster, a cry-baby, perfectionist, angry feminist, day-dreamer. Music changed me because… K: I can’t remember a life before music, it was always such a natural part of my life. It gives me a sense of purpose and connection to the world. J: I think being a musician has made me a stronger individual and it’s made me very connected to my emotions. When I’m not making music… K: I watch a lot of ﬁlm and TV. I daydream. I pet dogs. J: I go to the cinema or theatre, I go on long walks in the forest, I shop for clothes, I cook lentil stews, I have board game dinners with my friends, I dog-sit, I eat a lot of cheese…
My biggest vice is… K: I value other people’s needs and feelings before my own. I think I’m being nice but I’m only doing myself, and everyone else, a disservice. Also I have a really bad sweet tooth. J: I say ”I’m sorry” too much. The last time I was embarrassed was… K: Being the centre of attention never embarrassed me. I get embarrassed all the time in smaller groups though. J: I ﬁnd it quite embarrassing to speak Swedish on stage. It feels so private and naked. When I speak English I can pretend that I’m a rock star. My formal qualiﬁcations are… K: None. I quit school when I was 16 to take a year to try to make the music thing work. Though I have dreams of becoming a dog therapist. J: I ﬁnished high school but that’s it. I’d love to study philosophy, history or language at university one day. The last time I cried was… K: Watching the last episode of the
“I MISSED OUT ON FUN BECAUSE OF FEAR AND PRIDE.” Johanna Söderberg
how Love yesterday. Their smiles seemed so genuine. J: I cried last night when I watched Call Me By Your Name. I’m quite heartbroken right now and the scene at the end just hit me really hard. Vinyl, CD or streaming? love listening to records, ugh I do stream most of the I listen to. l the way. But I’m constantly so I mostly stream music . My most treasured possession is… K: My insulin shots. I’ve been a diabetic since I was nine and without them I’d literally die. I also have a custom-built Gibson from the 1920s. J: A 1929 Gibson mandolin I was gifted by Jack White in Nashville. The best book I’ve read is… K: I really love Raymond Carver. I think What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is profound. J: My most memorable reading experience has to be 1984 by George Orwell. I read it when I was 12 and it got me interested in politics. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? K: Half-full. I’ve always had this sense that things are going to work out. J: Half-full! I have to say that to have the strength get up in the morning. My greatest regret is… K: I didn’t draw a better self-portrait. J: I regret having been so hard on myself and so shy in my teenage years. I feel like I missed out on a lot of fun, just because of fear and pride. When we die… K: I don’t think anything happens. I would really love to see my grandmas and my cat again, so I hold out hope for some kind of magic somewhere. J: I’d like to think I’ll be hanging out in a paradise version of Joshua Tree, singing songs with Gram Parsons. I would like to be remembered as… K: Hopefully I made the people around me feel seen and loved. J: A sweet soul who sang sweet songs. First Aid Kit’s Record Store Day/International Women’s Day 45 You Are The Problem Here is out now on Columbia.
…the ’68 release of the MC5’s debut will be marked th by Wayne Kramer (rig his Kick Out The Jams: T 50th Anniversary Tour. Joined by Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil, Fugazi’s Brendan Canty and others, Brother Wayne will play the album at Euro-festi and a US tour, ending in Detroit on October 27.
goal is that the a dience leaves… unifying e Irish STING stry he r Shaggy. good , “we both names” … rdcore Will The elegraph
reported that compared to just 70 illegal raves in London in 2016, 2017 saw 133 of them …last month dreamy Icelanders SIGUR R accused, and then cle avoidance. It was an a error, they explained, this did not stop word singer Jónsi’s owner two motorbikes gett …need a new record player? The MAG-L or “the world’s ﬁrst
levitating turntable”, would certainly impress your guests when you’re playing your Sham 69 45s. See evaudio.com for info … ornia rapper LIL XAN d out that you don’t go d saying TUPAC (left) boring” in interviews. t month he was rrounded by fans of the te rap great while eating acos, and had to call for a police escort to safety…
Alexis Taylor Beautiful Thing New album LP / CD / DL
“‘Beautiful Thing’ is house music from a better parallel universe” Justus Köhncke “It’s like the band Can were somehow transported from 70s Germany to Love Ranch club in 90s London, spent only a few moments there then back to 70s... then set about trying to make what they saw and heard!” Edwin Burdis “Demonstrates Taylor’s mastery of his peculiar strain of zonked late-night soul” 8/10 UNCUT
WIRE ACTIVATE AND RECORD PINK FLAG In the broiling milieu of 1976 Watford, a group formed. In a state of accelerated development, they dismissed punk chaos for discipline, economy and creative deconstruction, and their new minimalist model foresaw decades of art-rock to come. But how did they arrive at their seismic first album, and what was jettisoned on the way?
“THEY THOUGHT WE WERE TAKING PISS – AND THEY WERE RIGHT!” Graham Lewis
PART 1 “CREATIVITY JUST EXPLODED” Bassist, voice and lyricist Graham Lewis on chance, shifts and exploding creativity.
Annette Green, Colin Newman
Saw you in a mag: (main) Wire in ’77 (from left) Robert Gotobed, Bruce Gilbert, Colin Newman and Graham Lewis; (bottom row, from left) a page from Gotobed’s diary, showing early gigs and fees (£5 for playing the Nashville?!); the Roxy live LP; with soonto-be-ex-member George Gill (second right); signing to EMI, September ’77 (Nick Mobbs sat on floor, Mike Thorne third from right).
knew Bruce [Gilbert, guitar] socially from about 1974. I’d moved up to New Barnet for my ﬁnal year at art college. I was social secretary there, so I was steeped in what little was going on musically in London – stuff like Dr. Feelgood, and [Ian Dury’s] Kilburn And The High Roads, who I must’ve seen 20 times. Bruce had a job at Watford Art College [as ‘audio-visual technician’], and he put together an end-of-term group with Colin [Newman, singer/tune-writer] and [guitarist] George Gill, to do the college hop. By that point, I was working as a freelance fashion designer, but I still used to bump into Bruce. One time we went to see The Vibrators at the Lord Nelson on Holloway Road, and he said, ‘Would you like to come along and play bass?’ This was October 1976. I had to borrow a bass – a Paul McCartney violinstyle Hofner – and for an hour or so we made a racket. Afterwards, they said, ‘We heard you could play!’ I said, No, I told Bruce I had a bass – I was very speciﬁc. They were quite objectionable, but then Bruce called – ‘Er, we’re wondering if you’d like to come again this week?’ I was very much the outsider in all this, but I understood it was George’s group. We’d play his material, which was sort of New York Dolls, MC5-ish, rough-and-ready, ‘Hey man, let’s rock, we’re heavy dudes’ kind of thing. Not terribly good. Then, George somehow broke his ankle. By now we’d played three or four times, and we were rehearsing – Robert [Grey, aka Gotobed], our drummer, had found this underground ashtray in Stockwell – you came out, and you were green with tobacco ash – but George was off the map, so what were we gonna do? We’d seen all the new bands. We very much cared for the Buzzcocks, because they weren’t touched by that R&B/ rock‘n’roll tradition. And when the Ramones came over [in July ’76], that was inspiring. We really understood we had to play an awful lot faster, and tighter. Colin and I were out seeing The Damned at the Roxy in January ’77, and Colin was like, ‘I can write tunes, you know.’ I said, Well, I think I can write words, and took out of my pocket what became the words for Lowdown. Next time we turned up at the ashtray, Colin goes, ‘Here’s the song I’ve written to those words you gave me’, and we then learnt how to play Lowdown – our ﬁrst composition! An extraordinary thing. We started rehearsing three or four times a week, for 10 or 12 hours, and in a period of three weeks, the bulk of Pink Flag was written. With George, it’d been a racket, and being in tune didn’t matter, but this method and format, and our limited skills, suggested that things had to be very precise, edited and witty. A song did what it did, then it stopped. There was no fucking about, no twiddling guitar solos, no posturing. That proved to be a fantastic model, and the creativity just exploded from there. Once George was off crutches, it was extremely obvious that it wasn’t the same thing any more, and there was no room for what he did. It actually was a group now, with a sound, and there was an acceleration of purpose. We got a show at the Roxy [on February 24, 1977], supporting The Jam, and you had young Paul [Weller] going, ‘B-b-but where does it come from?’ It was getting so dreary, people saying what was punk, and what wasn’t. We came from a creative education, where you were taught to think and be ﬂexible. There was a lot of spitting at gigs, but also glass- and bottle-throwing. It was quite violent, and us fucking about with tempo didn’t help on that front, because they thought we were taking the piss – and they were right! We went back to the Roxy for the two shows in April that got recorded for Harvest/EMI’s live album, and that’s when Mike Thorne, who produced the Roxy album, became interested. He came up, wearing a jumper with a big eagle, or a sheep, on it – long hair, sparkly trousers and pixie boots – ‘Er, hullo! Would you like to use my tuner?’ But he basically got us through the door at EMI.” WIRE VOICE COLIN NEWMAN ON MOANING, AND WHY PINK WAS INTERESTING. TURN OVER! STUDIOS
PART 2 “IT WAS HARSH”
WIRE ACTIVATE AND RECORD PINK FLAG Wire front-person Colin Newman on jamming, humourless record labels and America calling.
Annette Green, Paul Slattery
retty much everyone on the Roxy live album went into EMI to ‘have the conversation’. They’d recorded our set, but we were writing new songs all the time, so we started demo-ing for them – two lots in May, underneath their ofﬁces in Manchester Square, and another lot in August. That’s when we got signed, and we were recording at Advision in Fitzrovia two weeks later, in early September. On the ﬁrst day, we didn’t understand anything about the recording process. Mike Thorne, who got the job of producing, had Rob playing his kit so they could get the drum sound up, and we ended up jamming for two hours. We were really excited, thinking we’d recorded a whole alternative album – we were disappointed when we realised they’d only been listening to the drums. With hindsight, we’ve always felt like Pink Flag was done to us, but it worked out well. Mike Thorne was responsible for deciding what went on there. Certain more recent tracks were excluded simply because they were too advanced, but that became the strength of Pink Flag –
that singular minimalist aesthetic. Mr Suit and 12XU were already comedy to us – we’d moved on, and written stuff like I Feel Mysterious Today, which went on Chairs Missing [’78]. Mr Suit seems straightforward, but it’s not at all about rejecting corporate sponsorship. It’s actually a slightly whingey love song, directed at someone who seemed to think this other person was more interesting than I was. A lot of the writing is quite personal: Straight Lines, which Bruce wrote, is just his life. The chorus – ‘Oh it’s unlust, and the one-dimensional boy’ – is so him. Bruce does pissy aphorisms. Other songs were more about process: for 106 Beats That, the chords came from some formula I’d worked out based on the names of train stations between London and Watford, so it does this absurd chord sequence. Then, Field D For The Sundays is completely tongue-in-cheek: the music w listened to wasn’t in the norm papers, which were full of people like Rod Stewart and Britt Ekland, so there was absolutely no expectation that we’d become those kind of people. I’m pretty sure the cover photo was inspired by the minimalism of Bruce’s paintin and he deﬁnitely came up wit
One chord and shouting: Wire (from left) Gilbert, Gotobed, Lewis and Newman, with initial releases and a badge; (below) the singer in performance.
“WE’VE ALWAYS FELT LIKE PINK FLAG WAS DONE TO US .” Colin Newman
the location – ‘There’s a ﬂagpole on Plymouth Hoe, with empty ground in front, blue sky.’ But Graham had come up with our colour concept on-stage, which was black, white and pink – black and white was the aesthetic of the day, but adding pink was interesting. We had a playback of the ﬁnal album at the record company, and they all thought it was harsh. We’d been signed by Nick Mobbs, who’d signed Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols, so they thought we might be the Pink Floyd of punk. They didn’t see the humour in it. The album came out in December ’77, and there’s a bootleg from the week after, where we only play two songs off it. For those songs we’d learnt we could all play the same thing at the same time, but for the Chairs Missing songs, we’d learnt we could play different things at the same time, and obviously that was more exciting to us. Mainly, the British press got it, and the Americans didn’t. There was a backlash against punk over there, but somehow Pink Flag skirted around that and inﬂuenced hardcore bands like Minor Threat. In America, they thought you had to pay your dues, and be on the road for four years before you made your ﬁrst album, but suddenly Pink Flag was offering that you could do one chord and shouting, and still make interesting music.” As told to Andrew Perry Wire release specials editions of their albums Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 on vinyl and CD on June 22.
66215/:'6;66215/:- $0-):;8- .$015/91<15-46:165
$0-5,?&1331)49#06= 6<-#:68?#65/68'6; Alone Again (Naturally)
$0-8-)4&-)<-8$0-1/0: .#413-9$6;+05,65- -),15B64-
All BGO Records new releases are available from Amazon and all good record shops or online at www.bgo-records.com For a free BGO Records text catalogue listing and order form, please email email@example.com or call 01284 724406 BGO Records, 7 St Andrews Street North, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1TZ A19:81*;:-,15:0-%*?!867-8;91+
Norman Whitfield Psychedelic Soul
Elemental Music, together with Universal Music Group, proudly presents a new CD collection of long out of print titles from the vaults of Motown Records. True masterpieces of the 70â€™s R&B, Soul & Funk scene. All of them produced by Norman Whitfield, considered one of the best soul-funk producers ever.
Ranked as #1 on the list of The Temptationsâ€™ TOP 10 albums in the December 2017 issue of MOJO Magazine
JXR SGD HLHS is the fourteenth studio album by The Temptations ENQ SGD NQCX NSNVM K@ADK released in 1971. It includes the ÂªÂ¬ GHS TRS X L@FHM@SHNM TMMHMF V@X VHSG D
The complete Un-Edited album for the First Time on CD ALSO AVAILABLE ON 180 gr. LP
The acclaimed 1973 album by The Temptations for the first time on CD format including the full KDMFSG TMÂ§DCHSDC RSTCHN UDQRHNMR of all of the album cuts (these KNMF UDQRHNMR VDQD OQDUHNTRKX NMKX @U@HK@AKD NM UHMXK
Righteous trippy soul, recorded CTQHMFSGDGDHFGSNEGDDLOS@SHNMR strong association with Norman Whitfield.
The next step along the path that Cloud Nine started and takes the Detroit band further away from a classic soul sound, and more towards the realm of psychedelic soul.
The album which represents the A@MCRETKKÂ§AKNVMRTALDQFDMBD into psychedelia.
Beatiﬁc choir Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares bewitched the ’80s. Elizabeth Fraser and Lisa Gerrard discuss their return.
he human voice is the most perfect instrument of all,” opines legendary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. For evidence, he could cite cultural ambassadors from another country formerly in the communist bloc, namely Bulgaria’s State Radio & TV Female Vocal Choir. Better known as Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares, their new album BooCheeMish is their ﬁrst in 24 years. That a Bulgarian choir has a French name is the doing of Swiss mining engineer-turned-ethnomusicologist Marcel Cellier, whose ﬁeld recordings – which began in 1952 – led to the 1975 compilation Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares on his own Disques Cellier label. The “mystery” was a reaction to the music’s uncanny, angelic sound, a piercing blend of heartache and euphoria, born from hardship and community, but also an open-throated method of singing. The album found a bigger audience in 1986, when UK independent 4AD licensed Cellier’s compilation. In 1985, Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy had completed his ﬁrst session for a solo album, overseen by 4AD skipper Ivo Watts-Russell. “To discharge the day’s creative energy,” Murphy recalls, he played a tape of Cellier’s album, discovered via a friend who’d used it as a soundtrack for a modern dance piece. “It simply buckled my knees!” says Watts-Russell. “Never before had I been so intensely subjugated by the human voice.” For post-punk-leaning 4AD to release archaic Balkan folk wasn’t such a strange concept. The label’s roster included Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, respectively fronted by post-punk theurgist Elizabeth Fraser and banshee siren Lisa Gerrard, both of whom were ﬂoored by the album. “I broke my voice in pieces trying to sing the way they did,” admits Gerrard, who guests on three songs on BooCheeMish. “But their celestial presence, their angelic sense of humility with joy buried deeply within it, became my greatest inspiration, especially in cinema [see her soundtrack contributions to Gladiator, Heat and Black Hawk Down, among others]. They gave me licence to yell out from the heart and soul.” “Their voices were my idea of an education, and a home,” says Fraser. “No way I’m going to sound like these women, but there was such freedom to what they did, how they constantly shifted dynamically and rhythmically, not to mention the polyphony and technique. And to think they’re possibly singing about sheep!” Indeed, BooCheeMish knee-buckler
Never mind the Balkans?: (main) Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares in the Pandhof Garden of the Dom Church, Utrecht, The Netherlands, November 9, 2017 (choir conductor Professor Dora Hristova, centre, in black); (bottom row) the choir before performing at the Domkerk; (below) Cocteau Twin Liz Fraser.
“THEIR VOICES WERE MY IDEA OF AN EDUCATION, AND A HOME.” Elizabeth Fraser
Zableyalo Agne involves a lamb that discovers the shepherd has sold her mother. Other lyrics on subjects such as good/bad omens, fetching water and courtship are mixed with new styles: Soﬁa’s world beatbox champion SkilleR appears on four tracks. According to Boyana Bounkova, the music publisher behind the revitalised Voix Bulgares, contemporary writers and modernised arrangements will “sustain the tradition but make music for a younger generation too.” As Bounkova explains, before communism “there were no choirs in folklore music”. Incredibly, the sound of angels was a blunt political tool, part of the new Soviet puppet regime’s drive to stamp out reactionary forces in Bulgaria’s traditional culture. Composer/military bandleader/ choir leader Filip Kutev would draw on modern classical theorists such as Schoenberg to create a new, “progressive” sound. Ironically, the group peaked when a second volume from Cellier’s vaults won the 1990 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording (in gift-giving mood, George Harrison ordered 26 copies from 4AD), not long after communism collapsed, leaving them to contend with the free market. Yet their voices would not be silenced. Kate Bush had nabbed three of the ensemble’s principal soloists, known as The Trio Bulgarka, for her LPs The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. In 1989, Bush spoke of tapping into “their female music from a strong female point of view, which I think gives it a tremendous intensity, which you don’t really ﬁnd it pop music.” There followed collaborations with Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet, while associate group the London Bulgarian Choir have been stage guests of historio-rockers British Sea Power. Says BSP guitarist Noble, “Sometimes Bulgarian vocal music isn’t far from art-rockers using drones, like Spacemen 3 or John Cale. There’s a lot of dissonance in there, playing around with altering the pitch around notes.” While recordings have been sporadic – “No producer or investor got involved, and it’s hard to write for the open-throated technique,” says Bounkova – BooCheeMish (the phonetic name of a folk dance) ﬁnds their spirit undimmed. For original Voix Bulgares members Radka Alexova and Elena Bozkova it’s also a chance to reprise the glory days, when they were feted as celebrities, travelling in a manner most Bulgarians could barely dream of, and with the opportunity to witness the impact of their heavenly voix. “When we performed for the ﬁrst time in London,” Alexova recalls, “the audience was very reserved and we were a little bit puzzled. Later, we learnt they were listening carefully with their eyes closed and when we ﬁnished they stood up and applauded for so long that we performed four encores. You can never forget such an experience.” Martin Aston
BooCheeMish is released by Prophecy.
Getty, Chris Ruiz (3)
PAINT A BULGAR PICTURE
MAY 1964 CHUCK BERRY Chuck Berry had already been a recording artist for nine years. He’d started at the top: Maybellene, a track he’d originally recorded as Ida Red, gained him the undisputed R&B hit of 1955, staying at Number 1 on the US Jukebox charts for 11 straight weeks. Yet despite appearing in ﬁlms including 1956’s Rock, Rock, Rock! and Go, Johnny Go! in 1959, he’d made little impact on the British record-buying public. Many may have regarded him as the font for all thing rock’n’roll, but 1958’s Sweet Little Sixteen was his lone Top 20 success to date. In 1963 there came a change. Pye International records did a deal with Chess that gave them access to Berry’s back catalogue, and by Christmas that year a double-header of Let It Rock/Memphis Tennessee was a UK Number 6 hit. Other Berry releases also sold well, and in early May 1964 he had the biggest British single of his career to that point with No Particular Place To Go,
which ascended to the third spot on the charts. Promoter Don Arden – aware that Berry was now on parole for 14 months after serving two-anda-half years behind bars for transporting a 14-year-old girl across state lines – duly offered him a British tour. Then living in Chicago, where his parole ofﬁcer proved to be remarkably liberal, Chuck recalled, “I could go anywhere without the parole ofﬁcer demanding that I ﬁrst register an account of my intended travels. He told me to state only fterward on my monthly eport, when and where I’d one.” So he upped and ew the Atlantic to accept
Sweet little rock’n’parole’er: (clockwise from main) Chuck wows ’em in Blighty; with excited fans; Don Arden; tourmate Carl Perkins; gig poster.
“THE AUDIENCE BECAME SO ROUSED… THE MANAGEMENT LOWERED
Arden’s invitation. Noting that “the tour had mostly bus and trains for transportation,” Berry was persuaded that coach travel was acceptable by two singer-dancers who were part of the show, namely Jemima Smith and Caroline Attard – AKA Decca recording artistes The Other Two – who were placed in a seat directly across from Berry’s set at the front of the bus. ”English buses are extremely plush with reclining seats like those of larger airliners,” Berry recalled, adding, ”Attard always wore slacks but Jemima was often seen in an exciting blouse and skirt.” The show was of the package variety, with Carl Perkins as main support while The Animals, The Nashville Teens, Kingsize Taylor & The Dominos plus The Swinging Blue Jeans provided the rest of the names on the posters. Perkins, whose career had been placed on hold following a horrendous car crash some years earlier, proved a popular ﬁgure with audiences on the tour, which got underway at Finsbury Park Astoria on May 9
Getty (3), Rex (2), Avalon, Alamy (2), Advertising Archives
PLAYS HIS FIRST UK TOUR!
ALSO THIS before trekking through a couple of dozen venues, from Plymouth to Glasgow. However, Perkins discovered that Chuck Berry, whom he had worked with years before, was not the man he had previously known and admired. ”I never saw a man so changed,” said Perkins. “He had been an easy-going guy before, the kinda guy who’d jam in dressing rooms, sit and swap licks and jokes. In England he was cold, real distant and bitter. It wasn’t just jail, it was those years of one-nighters, grinding it out like that can kill a man, but I ﬁgure it was mostly jail.” The Swinging Blue Jeans proved unpopular with audiences, who felt they were not true rockers, and Gene Vincent was drafted in for a couple of concerts, causing the Melody Maker to enthuse of one capital show: “Forget The Beatles and the Stones, London audiences haven’t witnessed anything quite as spectacular as three living legends – Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins – heading a one-nighter at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.“ But there was never any doubt about who was the star of the package. The smart-suited Berry, backed by Kingsize Taylor & The Dominos, with Roy Young helping out on piano, roused the out-front crowds on every occasion via classics Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen, Nadine, Maybellene and more. He literally stopped the show at his ﬁrst Hammersmith Odeon performance on May 10, where the audience became so roused by his trademark duckwalks that the management panicked and lowered the safety curtain. Even so, the tour proved an enormous success, and the only drawback was that a planned Granada TV special, due to feature Berry and Perkins, failed to materialise before Berry ﬂew home again to report to his parole ofﬁcer. Fred Dellar
AD ARCHIVE 1964
ERIC’S STUDIO DEBUT Eric Clapton (above) 4session, plays his first studio on two tracks for Otis Spann – Pretty Girls Everywhere and Stirs Me Up. Muddy Waters also appears on the date, as does Jimmy Page, who plays harmonica.
MOODIES IGNITE Laine, Mike 4ClintDenny Pinder, Ray Thomas, Warwick and Graeme Edge form The Moody Blues.
BARD VIBES Around The Beatles 6Produced is aired on ITV. by Jack Good, it features Cilla Black, P.J. Proby and, of course, The Beatles, who help spoof A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
YURO EXCHANGE Timi Yuro asks the 6Supreme Los Angeles Court to nullify
The mingers, not the song: The Rolling Stones (not that bad, surely?).
DAILY MIRROR CALLS STONES “UGLY” The Daily Mirror says of The Rolling Stones: “Everything seems to be against them on the surface. They are called the ugliest group in Britain. They’re not looked on kindly by most parents or by adults in general. They are even used to the type of articles that asks big brother if he would let his sister go out with them.” The Stones, whose debut album is at Number 1 and are heading off on their ﬁrst US tour, survive the harsh critique.
her contract with Liberty Records.
Hong Kong ka-blooey: Garland feels the pressure.
GUY LEVEL Mary Wells 16 reaches Number 1 in the States with My Guy. It’s the first Motown chart topper.
Bob Dylan plays 17 the Royal Festival Hall, his first big London
gig. Says The Times, “His voice was untamed and pinched, his enunciation poor but his sincerity never in doubt.”
WITH THE 4THEDANCE SHADOWS SHADOWS
SUTCH TREAT Screaming Lord 27 Sutch launches his pirate radio station Radio Sutch on a fort in the Thames Estuary.
SKA TIME Jamaica says it will send six dancers to demonstrate ska at New Jersey Palisades Amusement Park. Jimmy Cliff and Byron Lee are also due at the New York World’s Fair during the summer.
30 ‘So many ways to think about’ these fine baked beans – served with bacon and… tripe? Lungs? Answers on a postcard!
UK ALBUMS CHART MAY 17 ROLLING STONES 1 THE THE ROLLING STONES THE BEATLES 2 WITH THE BEATLES A SESSION WITH THE 3DAVE DAVE CLARK FIVE CLARK FIVE
DYLAN AT THE RFH
Rudy Lewis of The Drifters, a 27-year-old heroin addict, is found dead in his Harlem hotel room just hours before a recording session.
JUDY FALLS ILL IN OZ Judy Garland is hospitalised in Hong Kong, a week after a disastrous show in Melbourne which was reported in the New York World-Telegram with the headline ‘Riled Aussies Hoot Judy Off Stage.’ Rendered unconscious by a heart attack or, say others, a pill overdose, it is initially reported that she had died. Despite being advised to give up singing for a year to allow damage to her vocal cords to heal, she continues to perform.
WEST SIDE STORY 5RECORDING ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK PHILIPS
GIRL CALLED DUSTY 6 ADUSTY SPRINGFIELD PLEASE ME 7 PLEASE THE BEATLE WITH 8THESTAY THE HOLLIE HOLLIES PHILIPS
ELVIS’ GOLD 9ELVIS RECORDS V PRESLEY GEN 10 BLUE GENE PITN UNITED ARTISTS
The Shadow knows: Hank Marvin, at 4.
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COMPLETE CONTROL Mickey Foote, who oversaw The Clash’s peerless earliest studio recordings, died on March 2. he imprint left by some souls on rock’n’roll can be slight, yet their inﬂuence still immeasurable. So it is with Mickey Foote, The Clash’s live soundman who, in 1977, was tasked with producing the band’s early singles and self-titled debut LP; records which, together with those by the Pistols, created the foundational doctrines of UK punk. Foote’s close association with The Clash’s radically minded manager, Bernard Rhodes, also saw his manning the desk for three other crucial late-’70s acts: The Specials, Vic Godard & The Subway Sect and Dexys Midnight Runners. But the Basildon-raised former art student never harboured any illusions about his technical abilities. “I’m not an engineer, I never pretended to be one,” Foote told this writer in 2003, during an ultra-rare post-Clash interview. “That wasn’t my job… What was my job? To make it sound like we wanted it to, not [the record label].” Foote’s entry into The Clash’s orbit came via Joe Strummer, whom he’d befriended while at college in
Newport (Joe was just hanging out there at the time). When Strummer moved to London and formed The 101’ers, Foote – bluff, friendly, practical, resourceful – joined him as the band’s handyman and sound mixer, before jumping ship with Joe to The Clash in June 1976. His appointment with fate came after Mott The Hoople and future London Calling producer Guy Stevens had failed to capture the group’s exhilarating rehearsal-room sound on an early demo session for Polydor. Once signed to CBS, the band looked to their live soundman to bottle their raw punk lightning, ﬁrst on the inaugural White Riot single and then on The Clash. Working at CBS’s Whitﬁeld Street studios alongside in-house engineer Simon Humphrey, a ﬁtting clash of cultures erupted. “I made sure it wasn’t over-this’d or noise-gated that,” Foote recalled. “It was plug your amp in, turn it up to three and don’t mess about with anything. Most of the guide vocals were used because Joe’s voice wasn’t in the greatest condition. To sing above Mick Jones’s guitar, you’re not fucking joking!” Much to CBS’s surprise, the clipped, ﬁery broadside of The Clash reached Number 12 in the UK album charts,
Garageland: Mickey Foote (far right) keeps a watchful eye on CBS’s Simon Humphrey at The Clash sessions, as Simonon, Jones, Rhodes and roadie Roadent look on.
“BEING BETWEEN BERNIE AND THE CLASH WAS A DIFFICULT POSITION.” Mickey Foote
Album: The Clash (CBS, 1977) The Sound: Having initially suggested that the band record their debut live, to sound like The Velvet Underground’s Live At Max’s Kansas City, Foote contented himself with reining in CBS’s attempts to polish the recordings. “In the control room, you could press a button and, if this thing on the screen went round in a perfect circle, the sound was supposedly all right. It was like, Fuck that shit, turn that stuff off !”
becoming the sonic template for scores of punk groups to come. Within a year, however, Foote would be ﬁred for surreptitiously varispeeding The Clash’s fourth single, Clash City Rockers, in an attempt to give it extra zip. “I was asked to do it by Bernie on CBS’s advice,” he explained. “Being between Bernie and The Clash was a difﬁcult position; the band thought I’d sided with management against them… It was a fair cop. It was the same thing later with Kevin Rowland [who disapproved of Foote and Rhodes’ – as ‘Foot & Mouth’ – ﬁnal mix of Dexys’ debut single, Dance Stance].” After his working relationship with Rhodes ended in the early ’80s, Foote faded from public view, and he eventually re-trained as a heating engineer. By 2008, he’d moved back to his birthplace, Aberdeenshire, where he achieved minor celebrity for opposing a new golf course development by a US businessman named Donald Trump. Foote died in hospital, aged 66, after a short illness. Pat Gilbert
MIKE HARRISON SPOOKY TOOTH VOICE AND KEYSMAN BORN 1945 Born in Carlisle, blues-powered voice and keyboardist Mike Harrison played in local R&B men The V.I.P.s, who, after keyboardist Keith Emerson’s departure to form The Nice, found psychedelia with Art in 1967 and took part in the graphics/ music happening Hapshash And The Coloured Coat. Art would in turn evolve into dual voice/keys hard-psych rockers Spooky Tooth, who released four albums (including 1969’s rock-electronic fusion Ceremony with Pierre Henry, which Harrison disowned) before breaking up in 1970. The singer recorded solo and with a reformed Spooky Tooth until 1975 when he left music for more regular work, including a stint as a milkman. He returned in 1997, joining the Hamburg Blues Band and reuniting with Spooky Tooth for live work and the 1999 album Cross Purpose. In 2006, he released Late Starter, his ﬁrst solo album for 31 years. Ian Harrison
CLAUDIA FONTAINE AFRODIZIAK VOCALIST BORN 1960 Born in London, singer Claudia Fontaine began her career singing lovers rock, cutting her highly regarded debut single Natural High in 1981. She would ﬁnd fame with the vocal group Afrodiziak, initially a duo of Fontaine and future Soul II Soul vocalist Caron Wheeler. The group would become one of the most recognisable backing vocalists in ’80s UK pop, appearing on The Jam’s Beat Surrender, Elvis Costello’s Every Day I Write The Book and, having become a three-piece with Naomi Thompson, The Special AKA’s Free Nelson Mandela. Afrodiziak would also appear on recordings by the likes of Madness, Howard Jones and Heaven 17, while Fontaine’s solo credits included Paul Weller, Peter Gabriel, Holly Johnson, Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, Incognito and many others. In 1994 she was part of Pink Floyd’s live group for their The Division
Kneel, don’t run: The Ventures with Nokie Edwards (second right).
Bell tour, reaching memorable heights of expression and artistry when singing The Great Gig In The Sky. Clive Prior
NOKIE EDWARDS VENTURES GUITAR BORN 1935 A Lahoma, Oklahoma-born multi-instrumentalist who was playing professionally at the age of 11, Nole Floyd ‘Nokie’ Edwards moved to Tacoma, Washington in the late ’50s to play with country star Buck Owens. Soon after, he started playing bass with rocking instrumentalists The Ventures, who scored a Number 2 smash with the
twanging triumph that was Walk, Don’t Run in 1960. Switching to lead guitar, Edwards would provide focus and dynamic momentum for The Ventures’ direct yet nuanced output, leaving his mark on a re-recorded version of Walk, Don’t Run which reached US Number 8 in 1964. He left the group in 1968 for a solo career that spawned two albums, but returned from 1973 to 1984, and then again for regular tours of Japan. In the ’90s, Edwards was twice Grammy-nominated for his country and gospel recordings, and was present when The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. He played his last show in 2017. Ian Harrison
THEY ALSOSERVED SINGER KAK CHANNTHY (b.1980) fronted The Cambodian Space Project, a group which found inspiration in her homeland’s popular music of the ’60s and early ’70s a tradition almost extinguished by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The Cambodian Space Project released ﬁve albums and toured internationally, with Channthy collaborating with admirers including Mick Harvey, Paul Kelly and Dennis Coffey. She also performed with her group Channthy Cha Cha. In 2015 the documentary Not Easy Rock’n’Roll told her strange and inspiring story.
TOWER RECORDS founder RUSS SOLOMON (b.1925) founded the retail giant in 1960 in Sacramento: at its height, the hangar-sized, open-late, record shop/hangout had 200 outlets worldwide, offering the widest array of music. The scorched-earth consequences of downloading, and what Solomon admitted were poor business decisions, led to the chain’s closure in 2006. In 2015 the documentary All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records starred celebrity patrons including Bruce Springsteen and Elton John. ENTERTAINER SIR KEN DODD (b.1927) enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a comedian; he was also a successful singer, making the UK Top 40 singles charts on 18 occasions from 1960 to 1975. His hits included 1964’s signature song Happiness, and 1965’s million-selling
chart-topper Tears. He also recorded comedy records with his diminutive comic creations The Diddy Men: at his funeral at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral in March, Diddy Men and his trademark ‘tickling sticks’ were in evidence, and ﬂags were lowered in respect.
in the mid-’70s. He also recorded solo in 2000 he released his Tribute To Stéphane Grappelli and appeared on recordings with Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, ZAO, George Duke, Toots Thielemans, Jack DeJohnette and sundry Magma members, among many others.
ALBUM COVER art pioneer GARY BURDEN (b.1933) created memorable sleeve designs for Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, Laura Nyro, My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and many others. Burden was also noted for his long association with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, which began in 1970. “My friend for life, Gary was my art director, creating album covers with me for almost 50 years,” said Young in tribute, “beginning wit After The Gold Rush and ending with Paradox and Roxy…, my next two albums.” Burden also shared a Grammy for his packaging for Young The Archives Vol.1: 1963-1972. RAPPER CRAIG MACK (b.1970) was best known for his wiggy 1994 h Flava In Your Ear, whose remixed version provided early exposure for The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes. Though his debut LP Project: Funk Da World shipped gold, Mack was unable to capitalise on his early success, and from 2012 he joine a controversial Christian group in South Carolina. VIOLIN virtuoso DIDIER LOCKWOOD (b.1956) played with Paris’s rock-prog-jazz terrorsquad Magma
PRODUCER and DJ MATT DIKE (b.1961) co-founded the Delicious Vinyl label in 1987. As part of the Dust Brothers production team he found late-’80s pop-rap success with hits by Tone Lõc and Young MC; Dike and the Dust Brothers would go on to produce important chunks of the Beastie Boys’ 1989 sample -heavy masterwork Paul’s Boutique.
Love Me Dodd: Ken with Madame Tussauds’ Fabs, 1964.
thereafter disappeared from public view. TRADITIONAL musician LIAM O’FLYNN (b.1945) played the uilleann pipes, masterfully, with ground-breaking Irish folk group Planxty, who he co-founded in 1972. He also made ﬁve solo albums and recorded regularly with composer Shaun Davey and former Planxty bandmate Andy Irvine; O’Flynn’s other credits include work with the Everly Brothers, Kate Bush, Mark Knopﬂer, Emmylou Harris, Mike Oldﬁeld, Enya, Seamus Heaney, John Cage and many others. The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed him as “a genius and great Irish man”.
THE MOJO INTERVIEW
Stephen Malkmus traded Pavement’s high-status jumble rock for solo jeopardy and epic jams. Now he’s waving his freak flag high as the house goes up in flames. “Take the money and run!” he advises. Interview by JOHN MULVEY t Portrait by ANDREW COTTERILL
LIFETIME HAS PASSED SINCE Today, the 51-year-old Malkmus has flown in from Portland Courtney Love called him the “Grace Kelly ostensibly to promote Sparkle Hard, his seventh album with his 21st-century backing band, The Jicks. It’s another fine negotiation of slacker rock” but, 25 years on, Stephen between Malkmus’s baroque record collector tastes and his odd Malkmus arrives in a London hotel salon melodic sensibility, where bovver-booted glam-rock mutations with his looks more or less intact. His floppy, share album space with elaborate prog-folk workouts. There are collegial hair has only a few strands of grey, innovations, too: a frisson of AutoTune; a countryish duet with Kim and he still affects a certain distracted Gordon; and Bike Lane, the most explicitly political song Malkmus amusement at the world, at himself, and at the stuffed kangaroo has ever released, which contrasts white liberal anxieties with the in boxing gloves that stands next to our table. 2015 murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody. “I got a lot of credit from that quote,” he says, fidgeting with a He is also, though, happy to discuss the tattered red sweatband on his left wrist, a WE’RE NOTWORTHY whole trajectory of his career. “There are plastic tag still protruding from the back of his highs and lows,” he laughs. “I don’t know who shirt. “It’s the greatest thing Courtney Love Kim Gordon on the SM looks back and thinks everything was ever did in her life, as far as I’m concerned, enigma. “He’s like a horse.” awesome, especially something as far back as but I guess I’m narcissistic.” “Being asked to sing a Pavement. I was just a kid, and there’s a As frontman of Pavement, Malkmus’s duet with Stephen certain charge of first love in how you haphazard elegance and droll intelligence Malkmus is in my top ﬁve remember those times.” made him a role model for a generation of afterglow moments of a long ‘career, career, Whenever Malkmus touches on more indie rock fans who disdained that sort of career’. The song we sing, emotional areas, his answers are punctuated by reverence. Through the 1990s, Pavement Refute, is classic Malkmus. self-deprecating giggles, as if to put scare became one of the biggest cult bands in the Faux country, funny but also observaquotes around anything that might be misconworld, an often chaotic presence on the tional about contemporary life. He makes songwriting look as effortless as he does strued as pompous. “Talk is cheap,” he claims, periphery of scenes, occasionally coming into working on multiple online Scrabble when asked about his old bandmate Scott contact with the mainstream before an absurd games, or The NY Times crossword. The Kannberg wanting a 30th anniversary Pavement event – being pelted with mud at the Lollapalyrics and music always feel so entwined, whether one is across and one is down. reunion in 2019. “I can’t see that happening looza Festival in 1995, say – would send them They’re exacting like a novel but slouching back to the underground. myself. But I’m just the singer…” ➢ ambiguous like poetry. His songwriting
process is a mystery, like a horse.”
What are your memories of Los Angeles, where you were born? I don’t really remember too much: does anybody? I just have ﬂeeting memories of being on the beach looking for ocean glass. My grandparents’ house. My grandfather’s funeral. School, barely. My dog. A lot of babysitters. Our generation of parents, they were hands-off with children. We were pretty much dealt with by babysitters, whereas with my children now, we sort of curate their lives, we’re really intertwined with them. When you were eight, your family moved upstate to Stockton, and a couple of years later you met Scott Kannberg, co-founder of Pavement, on a football team. Scott once described you as the “neighbourhood brat”. I don’t know if I was, but as far as archetypes go, he was probably a little geekier. He had tortoiseshell glasses and was goofy at that point, like half the world. And I didn’t have tortoiseshell glasses, and I was slicker. I was deﬁnitely not the nicest kid in the neighbourhood, but I wasn’t a teaser. What did you listen to growing up? The ﬁrst time I bonded with a band was with Kiss. Ninety per cent of boys started with Kiss, then you could either go in the direction of Rush, or you could go in the direction of Devo. But luckily, you could all meet back at Van Halen. Then of course came second-wave punk rock – Black Flag – and then the new new wave, like R.E.M. and The Smiths. You went to the University Of Virginia, and met Bob Nastanovich, who would eventually join Pavement, and David Berman, with whom you’d form the Silver Jews. Did your tastes change when you were all working at the college radio station? At college it was bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur, and then retro comes, and ﬁnally I’ve got taste. The Velvet Underground, Can, The
Fall, Wire. That was where the actual music of Pavement, which is like a distorted version of all of those things, really starts. I never thought I’d be in a band with Scott when I was in college. I tried to start another band, this recording project called the Lake Speed. College ended, and I had this friend who was a bass player in Charlottesville. He was in this Grateful Dead covers band called The Skulltones, who made a lot of money playing sororities and fraternities. Sometimes they’d throw in a Sex Pistols song, something kinda edgy. With their drummer, we practised for a week and made a full album. It was basically like Pavement, except I didn’t hide the inﬂuences that well, and didn’t think about making it sound real dirty. I thought I was going to get signed to some crappy indie label and that was going to be my life. I was always writing songs. It was something to do, some world creation you do in your spare time. In England, I think there are dudes who look in the mirror and say, “We’re going to have a band, we’ve got this plan and we’re going to be big.” You know, “I love Morrissey and I want to be a star too,” like the dude from Suede. But usually, I think things just grow. In 1989, back visiting Stockton, you hooked up with Scott Kannberg again and recorded the ﬁrst Pavement single, Slay Tracks, at Louder Than You Think, a studio run by a hippy called Gary Young, who became your drummer. I came back, and Scott and I made a lo-ﬁ single in Stockton. Those Lake Speed dudes wouldn’t have understood. They wouldn’t have understood this really glitchy, intentionally shitty-sounding thing. Faust, Chrome, the Swell Maps. Maybe Wire and Pere Ubu – those were the inﬂuences on Slay Tracks, except for one song, Box Elder, this jangly song that didn’t really ﬁt but was the one that got popular with John Peel. The Wedding Present
A LIFE IN PICTURES
covered it and that gave us a tiny foot in the door. It was kind of sincere-sounding. Didn’t that foot-in-the-door happen while you were away travelling? Yeah, Scott to his credit printed a thousand copies. He believed in it. If it never came out, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I ﬂew to Paris, went to Spain and Italy, then Egypt and Turkey for six months of trying to live on falafels and water. I ended up in Berlin, went to this record store and saw the single there, and I couldn’t believe it. So yeah, I came back to wide acclaim (laughs). But when you got back to the States, instead of going to Stockton and making something more concrete out of Pavement, you decided to go to New York and worked with Nastanovich and Berman as security guards at the Whitney Museum Of American Art. There was no way I was going back to Stockton. I mean, if your parents are dying to get out of there, you’d better be. David and Bob were more a part of my intellectual cohort, but they didn’t play music, that was the problem. David wrote poetry and fanzines, but I don’t think he seriously thought he’d ever be in a band. I knew Bob could be in a band. In the sleevenotes to Pavement’s Secret History compilation, you wrote that yourself, Berman and Nastanovich “used to have sinister post-adolescent psychological battles – we deﬁnitely needed girlfriends.” That’s true. Every cis guy does, probably. We were still young, there wasn’t Tinder and stuff, we couldn’t work on our game. We had no game. Zero game. A lot of frustration. Those two fought a lot. And David got arrested for having mace in his backpack – his grandma gave it him and he just forgot about it. You had to have a permit for mace and he didn’t know, so he had to spend four hours in jail, and I remember Bob thinking that was the greatest
Malkmusian theory: the feast of Stephen.
The young Stephen Malkmus at play in Stockton, California: “We had our own Atari, and a kick-ass bumper pool.”
The Silver Jews: (from left) Malkmus, David Berman, Bob Nastanovich. “I didn’t have to conceptualise anything, I could just show up.”
Courtesy Stephen Malkmus (2), Kevin Scanlon, Getty (4), Camera Press, Rex
Pavement live at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, 1992: note the skills of inverted drummer, Gary Young.
Leno’s show”: Pavement awkwardly make the big time, 1994, alongside Drew Barrymore.
“They get what I do”: the ﬁrst Jicks line-up, 2003, (from left) Joanna Bolme, Mike Clark, John Moen, Malkmus.
Wowee zowee: the “Grace Kelly of slacker rock” contemplates his visage, 1996. “I guess I’m narcissistic…”
On tour in south London, June 1992: (from left) Mark Ibold, Scott Kannberg, Gary Young, Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich.
Kicker conspiracies: Pavement FC with new signing, drummer Steve West (second right), 1994.
Malkmus with Beck Hansen, producer of the ﬁfth Jicks album, Mirror Traffic, 2011.
“For better or worse, we were on Jay
thing. It was laughing at others’ misfortunes to mask your own. Men are into having hierarchies, much more so than women. Maybe we were just trying to ﬁgure that out. All through this period you were returning to California and making the ﬁrst Pavement records with Scott and Gary. Well we did the singles, and it was all fun and kids’ stuff until we made the 10-inch, Perfect Sound Forever [recorded late 1989/released ’91]. That was more serious, the gateway to [debut album] Slanted And Enchanted. People actually liked that, so I thought, “Well, if you like that, I can do it again.” But somehow, over the course of three weeks, I was listening to Dragnet or something and it became really Fall-inﬂuenced. We made the album over Christmas , for a thousand bucks, over ﬁve or six days. I brought the tape back to the dudes in New York, and Bob was like, “This is really good, man. I don’t know exactly what it is but something good is happening here.” I started listening to the cassette and thinking I actually might have something. I might not have to get a job for a while. It was probably the best feeling in the band, ever. Your friends liking it: that was awesome.
You once said you were worried when you ﬁnished Slanted And Enchanted that it would be seen as a big sell-out. More so the Watery Domestic EP, which came after it. I thought that was really poppy. We were on tour with Sonic Youth and it seemed like the only bands they were into were noise music. When you came to the UK in December 1992, supporting Sonic Youth, there seemed to be a lot of tensions within the band. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon were allegedly trying to sign you to Geffen, and
side of him, and I hadn’t seen it before in the studio. Often, in the early times, Gary acting crazy was like a Get Out Of Jail Free card for the moments in a gig when we didn’t know what we were doing. We were like a trainwreck band, and that was kind of cool, because we really didn’t know how to play. But while he was a disruptive ﬁgure, wasn’t Gary also the one who was most aggressive about getting a major deal? He was interested in that. He had a brother who worked in a studio in New York state where the Spin Doctors recorded. So he had connections to Columbia Records through the Spin Doctors. And Gary, to his credit, was probably right. The shelf life of a rock’n’roll band is today and tomorrow, and you’ve got to strike when it’s hot. If I was going to give any advice to any band now that was getting offered some money, my advice would be: do it! Take the money and run!
“Pavement were like a trainwreck band, and that was kind of cool, because we really didn’t know how to play.”
When you were writing songs, was it a self-conscious process? Were you trying to be literary, or playful, or was it just your natural voice? Some songs had a sci-ﬁ Mark E Smith voice. Some were informed by the writing of Raymond Carver. But I wasn’t thinking about it too much, I was just being phonetic. Some of that twentysomething ache and boyish edge is in there, but you don’t want to examine it too much because it’s sort of embarrassing.
Gary Young appeared to be out of control, pulling headstands in the middle of shows and putting a dead rabbit in your bag. That was a weird time. I think Sonic Youth asked Pavement to do it, but I wasn’t into it. Even though I loved Sonic Youth, I didn’t want to associate with them through David Geffen’s label. We were a buzzy band and we were popular, but I think I was really waiting to do the next thing. We were just getting drunk and trying to meet girls and stuff that cis guys do on tour. And Gary was annoying. I guess he was drinking. I remember he was horrible the very ﬁrst tour we went on. I saw the really wasted
At what point did you all decide that Gary had to leave Pavement? I remember going to Stockton and trying to teach Scott and Gary some new songs. It was OK, but it wasn’t sounding like I wanted it to sound. So I went back to New York and got another drummer [Steve West] and started practising with him, and then we went on tour with Gary and had a talk with him in Copenhagen [June 1993] and he quit. That was a big weight off my shoulders personally. Steve worked at the Whitney with Bob, and he went to high school with Bob, and he was in a popular high school band that people actually went to see, and he had an actual girlfriend in high school – which was a very rare thing, at least back in our time. He also had a space to rehearse in Brooklyn, a classic loft that looked like an artist should have. ➢
Sidewalk talk: Stephen Malkmus sparkles in Clerkenwell, London, March 12, 2018.
“I’m not sayin I know what I want from this, but one r .” thing I don’t want is to have no one care any ➣
And so that’s when you started formulating the second Pavement album, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain? I was already ready. I knew I wasn’t going to do the scratchy Fall thing any more, I was going to go in the opposite direction and sound like Free or The Eagles (laughs). I wanted to do something fat and warm-sounding. It didn’t turn out quite that way… No. But the idea was to trash out classic rock and take a bit of a piss at it, but also write good catchy songs. We’re still sloppy Pavement, but why don’t we try to make it sound a little bigger? And it was different-sounding. It had bass on it, for one thing [bassist Mark Ibold had been recruited into the band, along with Nastanovich as auxiliary drummer, after Slanted And Enchanted]. It got mixed on a real board, a Neve board. But again, it was made in a totally lackadaisical way, luckily. Do you ever look back and regret not seizing some of the opportunities that were presented to you around Crooked Rain? Maybe, yeah. Maybe we should’ve got a manager. It’s not like I imagine myself as Dave Grohl now, or something – but it certainly wouldn’t be bad to be Dave Grohl (laughs). So you’re on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno, doors are opening… and then you go
and make Wowee Zowee, which sounds like a conscious attempt to derail that success. Scott might say that. May was into myself too much, but I would list it and think it was so cool, a lot differen Crooked Rain in a way that no one was ex ng. I think it was a great move (laughs). Th re some weird songs on there, but to m ally did make sense. I just thought it was a little long. It’s a stoner album, in retrospect. It also sounds like the point where a culture of jamming comes into your music. As you started doing that, did the musical limitations of the other members of Pavement begin to frustrate you? Musically that could be a problem, but it’s all of a piece. It’s not one of those things where Eddie Van Halen can’t deal with the simple bass playing of Michael A ny. It’s just the personalities get stale. D wanna bounce off this person? That’s all t’s not really ability. It’s 10 years of con touring, and being exhausted. It’s a co t pressure cooker: more touring, more drinking, more potential for bad behaviour and rude things. More hangovers and more ﬂights. Can you recall a point where you decided you didn’t want to continue that ﬁght? Maybe during the making of the Terror Twilight album .
Wasn’t that virtually a solo album? Nah, I mean it could have been. It was me and Nigel [Godrich, producer] more, but I wouldn’t call it a solo record. The others are on there more than they’re on Crooked Rain, more than on Slanted And Enchanted… I sound like Billy Corgan. We did everything together as a band pretty much, but there was no song by Scott on there. You work so hard to get to a point, and then that point is where you can see the precipice, and you have to go do it all over again. It’s hard. Terror Twilight was going to be called Farewell Horizontal at one point? Mark thought of that. Do you think the band knew it was the end? Maybe. I don’t know for sure what I thought was going to happen. It’s kind of sad when you talk about it like this. I feel bad about it. Why did you describe yourself as a “cold cold boy with an American heart” on Terror Twilight? You must have been aware that a lot of people stereotyped you as being quite arch and aloof? That sounds like some kind of Bruce Springsteen wannabe thing. I wasn’t self-aware. I wasn’t acting out. I liked to read reviews of the band, but I don’t know if I paid attention to that stuff. I always see myself as an all-rounder
like The Grateful Dead can get into them and go deeper, but I didn’t have faith that it was a viable business model for me. I like trancey things, but I do ﬁnd this urge to edit things down and get purer and purer instead of blissing out. I’ve been thinking about how to make things sort of… vaguer for the next record. Has the Jicks period been liberating for you as a guitarist? To be able to play in more intricate ways with more simpatico players? That’s true. They got to understand me, they get what I do. And it takes a little while to get my thing, as a musician – to anticipate it. I thought I was doing songs like The Beatles, I didn’t know it was my thing. That gets to the heart of one of the reasons why your music has endured. There’s always been something structurally off about the way you write songs, which means it’s very hard to normalise them. I agree. It’s fortunate for me. I’m not saying I know what I want from this, but one thing I don’t want is to have no one care any more. It’s a weird time in the music world, where a lot of pre-internet artists are ﬂailing about. And I could be too, some might say, but people are somewhat into it, still. I’m grateful for that but I
Stephen Malkmus’s finest solo wig-outs. By John Mulvey. THE SWASHBUCKLING DEBUT Stephen Malkmus
★★★★ DOMINO, 2001
in the music: making the cover art, playing the solos, writing the songs. Lyrics are just a part of it. At the last Pavement show, at Brixton Academy on November 20, 1999, you hung a pair of handcuffs from your mikestand to symbolise, you said, “what it’s like being in a band all these years.” There were some handcuffs that had been left in Bob’s hotel room by his girlfriend. When we came downstairs, the staff said, ‘You’ve left these,’ and gave us these furry, sweet handcuffs for real lightweight kink action. Bob claimed they weren’t his, but we’d seen cop shows and so we put two and two together. I was teasing around with them in the bus to the venue, and backstage. It started very light-hearted. There was some talk it could be over, but I didn’t know it was going to be the last show of the band.
But you did shut down the band six months later and asked Scott to put the message out. That’s true. You’re making me feel bad for Scott (laughs). That must have been a bummer. The ﬁrst ﬁve records with The Jicks, before 2014’s Wig Out At Jagbags, seem to toggle between more concise pop (Stephen Malkmus; Face The Truth; Mirror Traffic) and more expansive, jamming-heavy albums (Pig Lib; Real Emotional Trash). Yeah, you can get worn out on the jamming stuff if you tour a lot and you agree to play those songs 40 times in 55 days. How much can you get from that? Of course, a band
“I’m not what you think I am,” sings Malkmus on Jo-Jo’s Jacket, but his ﬁrst solo album (working title: Swedish Reggae) turns out to be a mostly joyous reiteration of his core strengths. Self-produced under the nom de guerre of Clarence Skiboots, much of it could also be read as an allusive post-mortem on Pavement – not least The Hook, a cowbell-heavy yarn about the touring misdemeanours of Turkish pirates.
THE PROG-FOLK JAMMER Real Emotional Trash
★★★★ DOMINO, 2008
Four albums in, with the Jicks well attuned to his exploratory whims, Malkmus leans into a series of epic jams that often (eg Elmo Delmo) triangulate the space between Fairport Convention, The Grateful Dead and Television. The career-topping title track, meanwhile, spends 10 minutes imagining how Heroes & Villains would sound if covered by peak Status Quo.
THE BELGIAN POP DETOUR Wig Out At Jagbags
★★★★ DOMINO, 2014
While living in Berlin for a couple of years, Malkmus takes the Jicks to Belgium, and into the studio with Pavement soundman Remko Schouten. The result is one of his most exuberant and accessible records, also encompassing rueful college nostalgia (Lariat references the Dead, the Minutemen, Sun City Girls, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson), horn sections (Chartjunk) and a daft charge at punk (Rumble At The Rainbo). Great guitar solos, too.
don’t exactly know why, because it can turn at any time. A cynical way of looking at it is that you have a safety net, because you’ve got Pavement. What made you do the reformation tour in 2010? Was it Bob’s ﬁnancial situation? No, I thought it’d be fun. Everyone was asking, the band was up for it. I always imagined I’d do something like that, I just didn’t know when, and it was pretty nice, out on the campaign trail. But did you feel like the bad guy again when you didn’t want to carry it on? No. I knew that that was when to stop, and they’re wrong if they think it wasn’t. I wanted it to be special, I didn’t want to cheapen that, and it was already getting stale near the end. We had a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a really good, short concert. There were beta movie stars there afterwards, for a beta band. And then we went to Vegas and it was bad vibes. Your music often seems entrenched in the culture of being a record collector, but your processing means that it doesn’t sound exactly like Fairport Convention, or The Groundhogs, or The Grateful Dead. Yeah I think that’s true. I don’t manage to imitate the things that I like. I mean, I assume everyone’s doing this, but we pick things that weren’t popular. For instance Face The Truth, the inﬂuences on that are mostly forgotten, kind of mediocre Christian bands, folky things, and cold wave 7-inches. It’s trying to do all these things that failed and that no one liked, and then expecting people to like it. Maybe David Bowie thought he was doing that by liking Iggy Pop and The Velvet Underground. Does a reputation for being funny lyrically become a burden? I don’t think there’s a burden. You have to evaluate what you’re doing with lyrics periodically and see if you’re just talking BS – or if your BS is inspired. I’ve certainly talked BS, and I know I have my fair share of placeholder lyrics. When you’re younger, things ﬂow out and it’s cool, but you can’t get away with that your whole life. When you’re older you have to go through things a bit more, and read them out and ask, “Is that really good?” Now, when I’m trying to be a little vague or universal, I have to ask people if it translates. I’m sharing more as our world is crumbling. It’s interesting you came to prominence in a time of grunge and lo-ﬁ, when songwriting was predicated so much on confession and neuroses. But you seemed to be blissfully untouched by that. I think so. It is ironic, all these bands like Nirvana or Pearl Jam, people would always say, “Don’t talk to them about their lyrics.” I don’t think the world should be like that any more. It’s not like I’m trying to target my lyrics so that more people like them. I really want to know: am I missing the mark here? So is this, after 30 years, the ﬁrst inklings of self-doubt as an artist? I wouldn’t say it’s self-doubt. I think it’s a new mode of work; it’s not being self-conscious or afraid. The world is really crowded with things, and I just want your best thing. I have lots of other stuff to deal with and listen to, I don’t need to hear your ﬁve-out-of-10 record. As you get older, you want to ﬂy your freak ﬂag, but you also want to sell the records you don’t listen to any more. You want to focus on the good stuff. That’s what I’m doing more. M
RACE SLICK IS 78, SOBER AND HAPPY WITH life. “I’ve got a house, a car, I can pay for my food, buy paint and canvases,” she says. “I mean, what more junk do you need?” It’s five decades since Slick emerged from a bohemian enclave of San Francisco to become, with Jefferson Airplane, the Elizabeth Taylor of the psychedelic set. Beautiful, sharp-tongued, liberated and mischievous, she had a voice made for those times, an unusually loud Eastern-scaled wail that could lift a melody to the intoxicated heights of acid rock bliss. It could also drip pure poison. “Grace Slick,” sighs Marty Balin, her singing partner for much of the ’60s and ’70s. “She drove people crazy! But put a microphone in front of her and you couldn’t stop her.” Jefferson Airplane had originally been Balin’s band. An early San Francisco scene hipster, he’d opened the formative Matrix club in August 1965 to showcase the band; he designed the posters and generally called the shots. He also sang the ‘cry guy’ songs. Everything changed when Slick joined in October 1966, replacing Balin’s co-singer, the similarly dark-haired, low-voiced Signe Anderson, who’d found motherhood incompatible with recording for RCA and touring. Somebody To Love and White Rabbit, which Slick had written and performed with her previous group The Great Society, shook Jefferson Airplane from their folk rock orthodoxy. Both songs were Top 10 US hits during the first half of 1967. ➢
Sheâ€™s no Girl Scout: Grace Slick in San Francisco, January 1968.
By the summer, San Francisco had become the psychedelic capital of the world. Unknown to most, moves were afoot to bring the Airplane crashing back down. “I was romanced by Elektra,” says Slick. “They figured, ‘She’s got the hits,’ thought I was this hotshot.” Elektra already had ‘Queen Of The Beatniks’ Judy Henske, whose High Flying Bird was an Airplane set regular. They had bigger ideas for Slick. “I didn’t wanna be like Linda Ronstadt [would become] and carry a whole band,” she says. “I didn’t even wanna be Grace Slick! I like a band where everybody’s equal. Besides, I’m partly lazy.”
ODAY, SLICK CAN BE AS LAZY AS SHE LIKES. SHE LIVES in Malibu, Los Angeles, close to the ocean she loves. Daughter China and her husband live next door. She rarely gives interviews (“What, to talk about the ’60s for the ninetieth time?”), and seems to have granted this one on a whim. A new edition of Sunfighter, her 1971 album with Paul Kantner and heavy West Coast friends, is imminent. But she barely remembers it. “All I know is that my daughter’s the fat guy [ie the baby] on the front cover,” she says. “I have a real good 24-hour memory. But the other stuff? It’s arbitrary. I can sing you a dog food commercial from 1945 but don’t ask me to sing one of my songs.” That said, Slick is full of gusto. It’s 4.30am her time and she’s already threatening to wallop “stupid, racist” Trump on the nose. “I never sleep for more than an hour and a half at a time,” she explains. “They say you can’t think straight if you don’t sleep right. I’ve never thought straight anyway.” As you might expect from someone who once sang “Up against the wall, motherfuckers”, Slick is bang up to date with world politics. “CNN is iffy,” she says. “It does what the sponsors want. I watch latenight guys like Bill Maher if I want the real thing.” It’s a habit that goes back to when she first heard Lenny Bruce in the early ’60s: devastating, anti-establishment satire that turned her upbringing on its head. “I was really straight until I was about 23,” Slick says – and
Embryonic Journey: (from above) Slick in junior high, 1954; vinyl inspiration and apotheosis; the Airplane fly, November 1968 (from left: Paul Kantner, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin.
already too old for The Beatles: “My girlfriends asked me over to see them on Ed Sullivan, with their cutesy hairdos and matching outfits, singing ‘I wanna hold your hand’. I thought, That’s stupid.” The Stones, especially “defiant” Jagger, were more her thing. Lenny Bruce inspired one of Slick’s first songs, Father Bruce, a regular in The Great Society’s set. Sarcasm, probably the defining Grace Slick trait, was afoot in the band’s name too, which riffed on President Johnson’s recent initiative to combat poverty and racial injustice. Many, Slick included, felt it didn’t go far enough. “There were all kinds of reasons not to like what was going on,” she says. “Birmingham, Alabama, the war in Vietnam, Nixon…” Born in 1939, the eldest daughter of a banker father and a mother who once doubled for Hollywood actress Marion Davies, Grace Barnett Wing was steeped in The American Dream. In the kind of twist that Slick revels in, the seed of rebellion was planted by one of the Dream’s great achievements, a good postwar public education. “The Eisenhower ’50s were so sterile,” she says. “When I read about turn of the century Paris – Gertrude Stein, Diaghilev and Picasso, smoking dope, having interestng conversations and turning art on its head – that sounded a lot more fun.” If the Belle Epoque lit up an alternative lifestyle, Miles Davis’s Sketches Of Spain (1960) provided the soundtrack. “I could listen to that thing 24 hours straight,” she says. “When I first heard it, I thought, God, I’m in heaven.” Sketches Of Spain was
“Gotta revolution!”: (from top) the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow and After Bathing At Baxter’s LPs; talk to the hand, late ’66; soaring over Woodstock, early morning, August 17, 1969.
Baxter’s opened with a howl of feedback and wound up with an ensemble salute to an afternoon of “acid, incense and balloons” in Golden Gate Park. But Slick’s contributions were seriously strange. Two Heads was a clockwork-paced oddity dipped in a Dali landscape and subjected to serious stereo panning. Rejoyce merged James Joyce’s Ulysses with flyaway Sketches Of Spain horns, leaving psychedelia far behind. “I loved writing songs and taking them to the band,” Slick says of Jefferson Airplane’s heyday. “I’m not a great piano player but I’d play the chords and sing so they’d know what’s happening. When the band got hold of it, I’d be like, Wonderful, I love that!” Y THE END OF 1967, GRACE SLICK was a leading voice – and face – of the rock counterculture. At the Monterey Festival that June, D.A. Pennebaker’s camera remained focused on her throughout Today, blissfully unaware that the song was a Balin showpiece. Grace, a strangely beautiful tribute that concluded Country Joe & The Fish’s debut, Electric Music For The Mind And Body, did her reputation no harm either. “I’d seen her at the Fillmore with The Great Society,” says ‘Country’ Joe McDonald today. “I thought, Incredible voice but the material was bland. I went home and wrote something I thought was worthy of her, something that would show off her voice. I was thinking Yma Sumac art music. But I was too shy to tell her, so we ended up recording it.” On 1968’s Crown Of Creation and 1969’s live Bless Its Pointed Little Head, recorded at the Fillmore East in November ’68, Jefferson Airplane sounded like the best band in the world. “We had it all,” says Slick. “Jack and Jorma’s American blues. Paul’s ‘let’s all go to uter space’. I’m kinda dark and sarcastic. And Marty’s love songs. That’s fabulous – until the musicians start saying, ‘My shit’s etter than your shit.’” In November 1968, New Wave cinema’s nfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard filmed the Airplane performing on the roof of the Schuyler Hotel in New York. He thought hey were the most revolutionary band ➢
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Getty, Henry Diltz/Getty, Alamy
worlds away from Slick’s affluent family home in Palo Alto, California, and from bebop too. Folding Iberian folk song and classical influences into jazz, it created a new musical language. Slick swallowed it whole. Her songs, especially during Airplane days, sounded offbeat and beyond genre, unlike Kantner’s hymns to hippydom, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady’s acid rock blow-outs and Balin’s heartbreakers. And the moody semitones of Moorish/ flamenco music stayed with her (though Slick discovered her affinity with flamenco scales during an acid trip). The bolero beat that underpins White Rabbit came direct from Sketches Of Spain. “Genetically I’m Norwegian, so I’m not sure what that Spanish thing is,” says Slick. “I also love Spanish art and architecture, so it’s probably because the Spanish built California.” Her hometown Palo Alto translates as ‘Tall Tree’. White Rabbit will always be her defining work. Whereas The Great Society played it long, Indo-Jazz style, Jefferson Airplane tightened it up and stripped it back, creating a stealthy-sounding backdrop for Slick’s Alice In Wonderland acid fantasia. Her climactic “Feed your head!” was a clarion call. The Summer of Love saw San Francisco awash with dosed-up pleasure-seekers. Surrealistic Pillow, the tie-in album, went Top 3 in the US. Only The Beatles and The Monkees were selling more. “It was a big cultural moment,” Slick says. “For a couple of years there, it seemed we were headed in the right direction. There was this forward motion of people wanting peaceful solutions to a lot of issues.” The Beat Generation had merged with the Beatles generation, with LSD blurring the boundaries. “Drugs in the ’60s? There wasn’t anything abnormal about that,” Slick insists. “Marty and I drank, Jack and Jorma did speed, our drummer [Spencer Dryden] did alcohol, and Paul was marijuana. It was nothing.” Slick maintains she never saw anyone freak out on LSD. Musically, though, acid was all over late ’67’s After Bathing At Baxter’s, the third and most freaked-out Airplane album. Its title was a euphemism for tripping.
➣ Getty (2), Alamy
in North America. They duly obliged with a version of The House At Pooneil Corners that was relentless, almost terrifying. Slick and Balin traded lines like doomsayers welcoming the apocalypse. “Sometimes, we’d be like two saxophone players,” says Balin. “We d take off and the Here they sounded like three – Kirk, Coltrane and Coleman. It was a performance for new times, a song that railed against “all the bullshit around us” in a year marked by burning cities, political assassinations and Vietnam blackening everything. After a long winter lay-off, the band regrouped in spring 1969, only to find various factions pushing for prominence. Frustrated by the lack of playing-time, Kaukonen and Casady – soon calling themselves Hot Tuna – started to open for the Airplane. “I liked all the differences in the band,” says Slick, “but the guys were not appreciative of each other’s stuff.” T WOODSTOCK THAT AUGUST, SLICK IGNITED the Airplane’s early morning set by declaring, “It’s a new dawn.” During Volunteers, the title track from their forthcoming, highly politicised album, the band barked “Gotta revolution!” at the sleepy crowd. But those ‘Make love, not war’ banners were already in tatters. Four months later, on December 6, 1969, they were nowhere to be seen. “The Hell’s Angels had served as a deterrent to stop people climbing on stage in Golden Gate Park many times and they were fine,” says Slick. “So when Paul and I went to England and talked to Mick Jagger about a free concert, we recommended them.” The fateful free festival at Altamont Speedway, which ended in mayhem and murder, turned ugly earlier in the day as Jefferson Airplane were ripping into Fred Neil’s The Other Side Of This Life. Marty Balin leapt into the crowd to stop the violence and was promptly knocked out with a pool cue. “Put speed and alcohol together and something ugly’s gonna happen,” Slick says. But it was more than bad drugs. “We thought, If you give people an education, they won’t fight. But that’s not true. Unfortunately, the nervous system is more powerful than any education. You can see it today. The big brain is working on going to
Mars, but the nervous system still reacts as if there was a lion at the cave opening.” No song seemed more apt at the close of the decade than Wooden Ships, a highlight of Volunteers and a Kantner co-write with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. It was, says Slick, “a sad goodbye to a lousy form of life, a ‘We’re out of here’ kind of thing. But it was done with a certain amount of joy. I’d been on Crosby’s boat, literally a wooden ship, and it was beautiful. l the freedom, this soft, gentle way of living.” Slick, now dating Paul Kantner, wanted some of that. Making their escape to Bolinas, Marin County, in summer ’70, the new power couple began stockpiling their best material for their own albums. Blows Against The Empire, Kantner’s masterpiece, ran with the Wooden Ships idea, positing a hippy paradise somewhere in the cosmos. Follow-up Sunfighter celebrated the couple’s new daughter China, both in song and on the sleeve. Typically, Grace Slick was partly repelled by the Marin County way of life. Sunfighter had opened with Silver Spoon, a vicious attack on vegetarians that appeared to celebrate cannibalism. In spring 1971, she was arrested for drink-driving after crashing her Aston Martin at over 100mph. Her charge sheet, which already included raps for LSD, saying “fuck” on-stage and attacking cops, ought to have served as a warning “I guess she was a hard woman to be around,” says Marty Balin, who’d walked out on the band in late 1970. The sole Airplane member to refuse Slick’s affections, he has only good memories of their working relationship. “We both sang our hearts out and people used to think we were married. I’d make love to her on-stage and burn her down and she loved it. But offstage I hardly gave her the time of day and it drove her crazy.” “I didn’t do Marty because he didn’t show any interest,” Slick admits. “I thought, That’s fine, there’s four other guys left!” If being a woman in a male-dominated profession ever worked against her, Grace Slick didn’t notice. “It never occurred to me,” she says. “Women have always been singers. Being a justice of the Supreme Court, now that would’ve been hard.” In her autobiography she dismissed ‘the Cause’ as “a new slant on an old Tupperware party”. Today, she’s delighted men like Harvey Weinstein are finally being called out. “Having to put out to get the job? That’s got to stop,” she says. “When I was in my twenties, I didn’t have that problem. None of the record company heads or
ther people’s songs with the sole intention of having its, she’d embraced the unthinkable. We Built This City, ara and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now were all US umber 1s. “I’d damaged the band by being a roaring drunk,” she ys. “So I came back, did what I was told, and played the od girl. But it was boring and the songs were stupid.” Slick bowed out, joined Jefferson Airplane for a union album and tour in 1989, then called it a day. The Rolling Stones are the only group that look OK on ge when they’re old,” she says. “Rock’n’roll’s a young rson’s medium.”
A bumpy flight: (from left) with daughter China and mother Virginia; the Sunfighter sleeve; with Paul Kantner, 1976; Slick with Starship, 1988; with portrait of Jerry Garcia, 2000; Grace’s biggest post-Jefferson Airplane hits, Miracles (1975) and – eek! – We Built This City (1985).
Jay Blakesberg, Alamy
g Maybe the band members would, but I liked it because I liked all of them!” After what was virtually a Jefferson Airplane reunion tour in ’72, Kaukonen and Casady went to Europe to pursue their passion for speed-skating. The band faded from view. Hot Tuna and Slick/Kantner solo projects prevailed. In 1974, Slick released a solo album. She called it Manhole to annoy feminists. It was dominated by an epic love letter to Spain, rich in Iberian flourishes, made-up words and the London Symphony Orchestra. Sales weren’t great. That same year, Slick and Kantner put together Jefferson Starship, a name first employed on Blows Against The Empire. Against all expectations, the project outpaced Fleetwood Mac in the race to corner the AOR market in the States. Key to its success was Marty Balin, back on board on the proviso that he could sing what he wanted. He came up with Miracles, a song filled with all the sex he and Slick never had. It went Top 3. “I got her to sing all these ‘baby, baby, babys’ and she hated it,” he says. “It was like Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs,” she says. “Love songs are smarmy. I’m no good at writing them so I don’t.” Offstage, it was a different story. Slick, 35, had taken off with the band’s lights man Skip Johnson, 23. “You’re too old, too fat, and too drunk, but I love you,” he told her. On November 29, 1976, the pair were married in Hawaii. UT SLICK’S OTHER LOVE AFFAIR – WITH THE bottle – had by no means ended. On-stage in Hamburg in June 1978, during a rare European tour, more drunk than ever, her Third Reich satire – involving Nazi gestures and sticking her fingers up the nose of an audience member – got her sent home. “Then,” she says, “I get into my car, drive real fast, get arrested, yell at cops and go to jail. I turn into an asshole when I’m drunk. It got darker and darker.” In court and out of the band, she was ordered to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. “I didn’t want to stop drinking,” she says. “My idea of hell was living in California without a driver’s licence. But I went along and I liked it. Everybody’s equal and there are no hotshots.” Slick got her licence back and, after a few initial slips, has been sober for 25 years. The mid-’80s saw a new Grace Slick: “Sober, smiling and selling out”. Fronting Starship, forming a new singing partnership with AOR-voiced Mickey Thomas, and singing
LICK REKINDLED HER LOVE OF PAINTING. She’s been exhibiting for years, her interests being vivid portraits of animals, characters from songs d musicians from her past. While out driving, she’ll listen to anything from Grieg to Eminem and Journey. “Old people play CDs in cars!” she says. “Nobody can bother me and I like what the sound does in a car.” She can cry easily listening to music. “It’s because I’m happy. I never cry when I’m mad or disappointed.” Before she goes, Slick remembers something. “I do like the new Fab Four!” For the first time in almost two hours, I haven’t a clue what she’s talking about. “William, Kate, Harr y and Meghan Markle!” she says. “We don’t do that over here, so it’s fun and a bit Alice In Wonderland. The nearest we had to a queen over here was Elizabeth Taylor.” Indeed, you did. The Acid Queen. Ten feet tall, wasn’t she? M Paul Kantner & Grace Slick’s album Sunﬁghter is reissued on Retroworld.
GRACE SLICK and Janis Joplin (pictured below) both emerged on the San Francisco scene during 1966. Joplin fronted Big Brother & The Holding Company, who played raw, daring psychedelicised blues. “They called us Fire and Ice,” Slick
says. “She was Fire and I’m Ice. In fact, I’m literally ice – I’m almost Icelandic! Janis would stamp her feet on-stage and get that growly voice going. My voice is more like a horn. I was built for rock’n’roll because my voice is really loud. Janis was a rock’n’roll machine in her own way.” Both bands performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Jefferson Airplane were already having hits. CBS handed Big Brother a huge deal with a view to promoting oplin as a solo artist. “We didn’t see much of each other after that,” Slick ays. “You were either in the studio or n the road.” When Joplin died of an overdose n October 4, 1970, her peers and pals ere shaken but not necessarily hastened. “Marty was totally torn up y that and stopped doing drugs together,” says Slick. “I didn’t ecause I’m stupid. I thought, Yeah, aybe her but not me. I’m not gonna o that way. Which was not cessarily true…” The problem, she says, was roin. “It’s so small. You’d think, I’ll st have a little bit more. But that’s e bit that’ll kill you. Alcohol will too t it’s usually a long stupid thing. roin is real tricky: Jimi Hendrix, Jim orrison, Janis. You gotta look out cause you’re gonna die – now.”
Waving, not drowning: Ryley Walker braves the elements at North Avenue Beach, Chicago, March 7, 2018.
HEN PRIMROSE GREEN WAS RELEASED IN MARCH 2015, it was hailed by critics as the work of a young American musician in tune with the jazz-folk influences of Bert Jansch, Tim Buckley, John Martyn and Nick Drake. The album sold around 40,000 copies. Walker’s live shows brought in audiences who ranged from teenagers to old heads, but those who saw Walker play around this time, or witnessed the walkouts during some of his wilder instrumental experimentations, knew that here was an artist already uncomfortable with the limits Primrose Green placed on his sound. ➢
SUB-ZERO WIND BLOWS IN OFF L AKE Michigan. Traffic roars by on Interstate 41. Only dogwalkers and joggers are dumb enough to brave North Avenue beach on a day like today, and no one is going in the water. No one, that is, except Ryley Walker, who is currently wading out into the great lake’s freezing swells, arms open wide, shouting “Chicago is trying to kill me!” The day started late, the 28-year-old singer-songwriter’s morning written off due to a bad combination of downers and depression, but he rallied and is now keen to show MOJO round the city that has, for better and for worse, inspired his new album, Deafman Glance. “Chicago influenced this whole record,” he explains, post-wade, grey Nikes squelching. “This city is always stinging you, reminding you your body is breaking down. But it’s also a really creative musical community. It’s a fairly depressing record. I’m pretty depressed. But I finally found music that sounds like me. These songs are an audio version of a foot going into the balls of the guy that made Primrose Green. That kid needs an ass-kicking”
➣ Village song man, says Walker, as we sit talking next to a gurgling Gaggia in Chicago’s Cafe Mustache. Today, with black woolly hat pulled tight on his head, a spivvy moustache, filthy ripped jeans and a greasy, outsize clay-coloured Barbour jacket, he looks a world away from the clean-cut, flower-picking Ryley on that LP. “I really wanted to be Tim Buckley,” he continues, with the wry, self-mocking tone that is both his default setting and his armour. “People latched onto that, and that was great, but no one needs to hear me sing that vapid, emotionless imagery anymore: dumb flowers, dumb mountains, dumb skies. After a while I was like, I can’t contain this. I’m a city person. This is where I exist, and thrive.” Ryley Walker moved to Chicago in autumn 2007, when he was 18 years old. He’d grown up 80 miles away in Rockford, Illinois, a Midwestern town hit hard by Reaganomics, with a mum who worked at a grocery store and a dad who worked at a factory: “typical Midwestern middle-class people, hard-workers.” He learned guitar by playing along to Led Zeppelin IV and, like a lot of teenagers who discover they’re bad at sports, got into punk rock: Bad Religion, NOFX, Ramones. He also got into religion. He formed a punk duo, The Cryin’ Onions, with childhood friend Jordan Acosta, and started playing guitar for evangelical mega-church, Cross Current. “I was the annoying loud kid,” says Walker, “kind of like I am now. Never shut the fuck up. My teachers hated me. Rode my bike, smoked weed, [but] I went to church sometimes. Cross Current let me play guitar. Fifty bucks a week. Free pizza. My first paying gig. Sweet. I stopped going when they caught me smoking weed. I was like… (stoner dude voice) Fuck you, I don’t need this shit anyway!” A pause here to say that pretty much everything Ryley Walker says is weighted with self-deprecation. He adopts the stoner dude voice whenever he says something he thinks might sound dumb, clichéd, or privileged. He’s incredibly tough on himself: “I’m still the fat kid who’ll never be good at baseball,” he says, with serious irony. The Ryley Walker who enrolled at Chicago’s Columbia College in 2007 arrived with a ton of records, and few friends. Back in Rockford, he’d befriended owners of second-hand vinyl shops, getting hipped to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, PiL, free jazz and Joy Division, “all these weird people who dropped this mad knowledge on me.”
Through his love of mid-noughties Sonic Youth he’d also graded to the albums of Chicago musical polymath Jim O’Rourke. ding that O’Rourke’s 1997 LP Bad Timing was influenced by meone called John Fahey”, he got into Fahey, then Jack Rose, “a whole ton of Chicago music”. Walker spent his days riding his bike, travelling on the Blue train, and listening to Tortoise’s TNT on his iPod. I became obsessed with this city and its musical history,” he ains. “There’s something about it, something dissonant and et really pretty. I learned to find these weird patterns in the city as I listened to the music.” TILL UNDER LEGAL DRINKING AGE, Walker learned about Chicago house-shows, DIY music spaces in basements and front rooms around town for kids who couldn’t get into bars. “It was way more fun than college,” enthuses Walker. “Suddenly all I cared about was getting fucked up and having fun. I remember I was on acid, watching [Chicago power-jazz trio] Tiger Hatchery at this houseshow spot called The Ottoman Empire, and just being like, Dude we have got to fucking jam! These are my folks! They were like, ‘We live at this punk warehouse place called the Mopery. We have a jam every Tuesday, Wednesday. Come by.’” “He was this young, buzzed, relatively annoying kid,” remembers Tiger Hatcher y’s Ben Billington. “Before we knew he played guitar we ust knew him as ‘Wasted Tiger Hatchery Fan’. But he was an incredible listener. He can adapt to so many different styles.” Developing his fingerpicking technique, Walker discovered Robert Fripp’s ‘new standard tuning’ and the deconstructed jazz guitar of Derek Bailey, and threw himself into the Chicago scene. With Jay Castor he formed kosmische noise duo Heat Death and then acoustic noise-jazz outfit Wyoming with Tiger Hatchery double-bassist Andrew Scott Young. He also met and befriended Fredericksburg guitarist Daniel Bachman, and started playing out live with Brian Sulpizio of Chicago mainstays, Health & Beauty. “Mike Forbes, from Tiger Hatchery, brought him to my home studio,” remembers Sulpizio. “There was a cat at his house who’d pee on his clothes, so he’d show up not realising he smelled like cat piss. I’d loan him a shirt and pants while we explored new heights of musical greatness together.” In 2013 Walker was riding his bike through Chicago when he got hit by a car. He ended up in hospital and, confined to his apartment, spent a lot of time woodshedding, and trying his hand at vocals. Around the same time, he met up with Cooper Crain, of local psychedelic am collective Cave, who asked if he could record Walker sometime. Those sessions, with Ben Billington and Dan Thatcher of Tiger Hatchery, plus Brian Sulpizio guesting on guitar, became Walker’s first vocal LP, All Kinds Of You, released on Tompkins Square in 2014. “Those sessions were relatively loose,” says Ben Billington. “Ryley throwing some darts at the board and seeing what stuck, but super-fun.” Walker is uncomfortable talking about All Kinds Of You and his breakthrough follow-up, Primrose Green. He jokes about that period repeatedly – “Hey guys! Remember Fairport Convention? I do. Check out my pants!” – but it’s clear that his inability to be ➢
Dumb flowers: Walker on location for the Primrose Green sleeve photo shoot,2015; (insets, below) guitar tutorial Led Zeppelin IV; the four Ryley albums from then to now.
“The isolation in my head”: Ryley Walker on the outside, looking in, North Chicago.
ﬂuids are spilled, guts are puked. Even though I’m probably turning most of the readership off at this point, Helltrap Nightmare is very much a sweet show at the centre. It’s human, painful and run by an incredibly talented crew. Check out: One of their gigs when they come around.
HICAGO MUSIC is very much based in community. What I enjoy most is that improvising is very much the centre of it all. Take any Chicago folk musician, techno musician, solo singer, etc, and they will all be open to the idea of getting on stage together to see what happens, even if they have no former experience doing improvised music. Everyone has a very creative and daring spirit that I’ve yet to see in any other city. Here are some artists I think embody the spirit of song and improv, and play a major role in the current underground Chicago scene.
A trio of Doug Kaplan, Max Allison and Natalie Chami. A super trippy and psychedelic synth/drone band that’s the aural equivalent of watching Hershey’s strawberry syrup slowly ooze its way around a perfect scoop of rainbow ice cream. They’re an incredibly talented bunch and proudly DIY with th i expanding reco universe Hausu Check out: The Ho Workbook (UMOR
When I ﬁrst met John Daniel, he was playing drums in punk bands around Cleveland. He made the move to Chicago and has found amazing acclaim and success amongst his peers around town. Most of his releases as Forest Management are a beautiful masterclass in slow rolling drones. A patient listener is rewarded with peaks and valleys so real, you can run your hands across the wavering grass. Check out: Limited Confession (FORESTMANAGEMENT.BANDCAMP.COM)
One of the most uncompromising, daring artists I know. Haley Fohr has been a major inﬂuence on me for a long time. We used to live right next door to each other and I would be able to hear her practise singing through the walls. Her dedication and discipline has led her to create music that nobody else is making, or possibly could make. Check out: Reaching For Indigo (DRAG CITY)
t enigma. , non-music, frofuturism, UNK ROCK. . singer Travis
Most of the artists I’ve described have been in the left-of-centre territory. Luggage is very much where ROCK music is in Chicago right now. An incredible bunch of guys who work their asses off to achieve sonic perfection. It has the classic Ryley’s kindred spirits: Chicago sound of Tar/Jesus (from left) Forest Lizard but pushing a sort of Management, Circuit Des Yeux, Natural twisted psychedelic Cocteau Information Society Twins mist in the area. Soon to will get on be the new legends. that stage and command a room like nobody I’ve ever Check out: Three (DON GIOVANNI) seen. After decades on the scene, they continue to make beautiful records that confuse and bewilder the rest of Ben Billington has dedicated his entire this planet. ONO forever. adult life to booking bands, playing in Check out: Machines That Kill People bands, producing records, and being a (THERMIDOR/REISSUED BY GALACTIC ARCHIVE) general to the Chicago underground. He’s incredibly kind and has certainly helped me out for a long time. When I was much younger he went out of his This collective, run by Josh Abrams, has way to help me get shows, play with got to be one of my favourite bands of me, and be a good pal overall. His solo all time. The cyclical grooves are moniker Quicksails embodies the seamless and perfect. I’ve seen them sound of a million coloured pencils outdoors more than indoors which I dropping onto a million lily pads. think is a good thing. Always nice to lay Check out: A Fantasy In Seasons in the grass with a pair of shades on and forget the rest of the world while they perform. I think the percussion of Frank Rosaly/Mikel Avery is incredibly innovative and powerful. Check out: Simultonality (EREMITE)
This is a variety/comedy show hosted by the ever-bonkers Sarah Squirm. Chicago has a big history of improvised comedy which, to be frank, is fucking LAME. This show (often hosted at the Hideout/The Empty Bottle/other alternative venues) turns comedy inside out. Often literally. Body parts are exposed,
Roll another number: Walker lights a fire under his adopted hometown.
Nick is involved in just about every area of jazz music all over the city, but this is my favourite project of his. The band play frequently at the California Clipper in Humboldt Park. Their natural musical kinship and communication has had a profound effect on the way I collaborate with others, and the way my playing has developed over the last year. These are some of the absolute best players in the country all getting together to change the game with ease. Check out: Ultraviolet (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM)
ITH A TITLE LIFTED FROM A FILM BY THE PLAYwright and choreographer Robert Wilson, which “scared the shit out of ” the 10-year-old Ryley, Walker’s new LP, Deafman Glance was written sober: a first. “After Golden Sings,” says Walker, “I had those feelings again: ‘Oh shit, I hate that record!’ I’d toured my ass off, made no money and I’m driving myself into the ground. For the first time in my life, I hated music. I took time off from drugs and booze. I don’t know if it made the music better, but I’d wake every morning and not be hungover. I just needed to prove I could still do this.” Produced, like Golden Sings, by Walker with ex-Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach, and recorded and mixed by Cooper Crain, with a trusted team of Brian Sulpizio and Bill MacKay on electric guitar, Andrew Scott Young and Matt Lux on bass, Mikel Avery and Quin Kirchner on drums and Nate Lepine on flute, the idea was to make “a very contemporary Chicagoey record”, one that referenced Jim O’Rourke, yet echoed the decay and beauty of the city it was written in, as well as the mind that made it. “The music sounds like it’s falling apart,” says Walker, “and the words come from a really fragile state of mind. I find it ridiculous that, despite the luck I’ve been given, I’m still horribly depressed.”
It’s why, he says, his drug of choice has always been downers, or speed. “The last thing I want to do is think when I’m getting fucked up,” he says. “I just want to think, Holy shit, I’m flying! As horrible as it sounds, drugs provide me with freedom from my mind. They give me an ‘off ’ switch. I do not want to let inner Ryley out.” Ironically, Deafman Glance is the closest Walker has come to expressing “inner Ryley”, moving from the placid, interior sadness of Castle Dome, a metaphor for “the sense of isolation in my head” through songs that rise, soar, and fall away, high moods and low, down to the itchy, nervous jazz explorations of Accommodations, a track Walker is uncharacteristically proud of. “No one is making music like this,” he says. “Even though we worked on it for too long, spent too much money on it, and I lost my fucking mind in the process, it’s the one record of mine I can listen to all the way through. For now.” MOJO asks whether, after the pain of Primrose Green, Walker has finally found his own voice. He takes the question and pulls it down a black hole. “I’m ﬁnding my voice,” he stresses. “But the more I find my voice, the more I hate myself. You know, it was actually fun to be the folksy guy with the long wavy hair. Now it’s just fucking depressing. I’m self-sabotaging with drug abuse, straining the relationship with the labels. I’m making better music but it gets harder and harder.” Walker also admits that, for once, he’s scared to go out on tour. “I’ve spent the majority of my life touring,” he says, “but I have a solo tour coming up and I’m terrified. These songs don’t work as solo songs. “Plus,” he adds, “ I can’t trust myself any more on tour. I’m always trying to score dope and get fucked up. It’s wrecking me. I’d rather stay here and collaborate with other musicians, where my friends care for me.” HERE’S DARKNESS IN RYLEY’S MUSIC,” SAYS BILL MacKay. “He’s put more of himself into his songs, they’re becoming more complex, but he goes through a lot of turmoil in the process.” MOJO is sitting with the 51-year-old Chicago guitarist and regular Walker collaborator. It’s two hours later at Cafe Mustache. Onstage, Walker is prepping for the first of his improv residencies, playing amplified acoustic guitar alongside LeRoy Bach on electric guitar, Tortoise’s Dan Bitney on drums, and Chicago improv composer Ben LaMar Gay on cornet. The room is friendly, relaxed and supportive as Walker takes the stage. Woolly hat pulled down over his eyes, he moves with the group, leading and following, as they lock into a glorious fusion of free jazz, tantric drone and hypnotic electric noise. Dissonant and off, yet really pretty. MOJO focuses on Walker, head back, playing furiously, beatific smile beneath his moustache. He looks happy. Earlier, before we fell down the hole, I’d asked what it felt like to finally play music that felt in tune with this city he loves so much. “I feel like it’s me coming to,” he said. “Like I can finally breathe on my own. This city wants me dead but I’ll never leave. It’s going to take an act of God to shut this shit down, you know?” M
Full of beanies: Walker joins an improv session at Cafe Mustache, Logan Square, Chicago; (above) the players (from left) LeRoy Bach (guitar), Dan Bitney (drums), Ben LaMar Gay (cornet), Ryley Walker (guitar).
Guy Eppel (6), Michael Vallera, Mikel Avery
emotionally true to himself with Primrose Green still causes him upset. By the time he came to record the follow-up, 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, he was, in his own words, “pretty bummed out”, seeing himself as “this lying, megalomaniac narcissist conceited asshole” yet trying to work through it. “That was the whole mission of Golden Sings,” he says. “To prove I can actually sing, write, have my own voice, be me, and still be in this game!” Written on the Primrose Green tour, songs like The Halfwit In Me (“still the coolest song I’ve written”) and The Roundabout incorporated the same kind of witty observations and wordplay that dominate Walker’s own conversation, and the comic version of himself he presents in his Twitter account, whilst tracks like Funny Thing She Said and Sullen Mind found him explicitly addressing his own depression. “Massively so,” he admits. “Depression has been such a part of my own reality. I’ve been addicted to drugs since I was very young, using coke, speed and downers for a very long time. That causes a lot of depression. I’ve had great periods of sobriety but I always go back to it.”
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A heavy year: (clockwise from far left) Randy Holden of Blue Cheer, November; Nguyen Loan executes a Viet Cong prisoner, February; police and protestors in London, March; a Phantom II drops bombs on Vietnam, February; Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s Black Power salute, Mexico City, October; sailors on the USS Edson dispatch the ‘Million Pound Round’ Vietnam-wards; Soviet troops march into Prague, August; Jimi Hendrix, harbinger of Heavy; Paris students, May; Heavy biker in Hells Angels On Wheels movie; Steppenwolf’s John Kay; protest poster.
EFORE HEAVY METAL THERE WAS HEAVY rock, and before heavy rock there was a hipster word: one that meant serious, deep, worthy of note and respect - ‘it’s heavy, man’. As 1967 turned into 1968, it began to mean something else: heavy in the sense of the periodic table of metallic elements, heavy in the sense of the weight of the world on the shoulders. That was the mood in the comedown after the Summer of Love: things coming down, a sense of oppression either physical or mental in a world turning darker. As a style, Heavy begins in blues rock filtered through psychedelia. It was boosted by the arrival of two separate trios in 1966: Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. As the late rock critic Ian MacDonald suggested, bands lacking an extra rhythm guitarist – who was often the songwriter – created a change in the sound of pop as it was becoming rock. Simpler musical structures, often based on riffs, came to the fore, added to an improvisatory approach taken from jazz. The bassist would hold everything down while the drummer and the guitarist moved around their respective instruments. The first widely exposed Heavy record was Purple Haze, a massive UK hit for Hendrix in spring 1967: the lyrics were psychedelic, but from the opening two chord fanfare in, the sound was brutal – cut very loud in the original 45. In November, Cream unleashed the Rock ➢
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Riff par excellence on Disraeli Gears: Sunshine of Your Love, later covered by Hendrix on Lulu’s TV show. In the meantime, Vanilla Fudge had released their battering cover of You Keep Me Hanging On, an eventual US Top 10 hit and a UK pirate radio favourite. But it wasn’t just to do with the constitution of groups. Technological developments – in amplification particularly – initiated a kind of arms race, with Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Cream vying with each other to go further and louder. Over weening, drug-inspired ambition set in, with a corresponding lack of care given to melody and structure – traditional pop virtues. Indeed, the cutting edge of white music – coalescing as Rock – defined itself as against Pop: Cream complained about having to release singles; Led Zeppelin would later do without them altogether. The new appetite for rock music in general – evidenced by the success of Monterey – began to favour larger stages than the traditional club, ballroom or cinema, with the corresponding need to fill those venues with greater showmanship – eating guitars, burning guitars, smashing guitars – and fierce Marshall stacks. You can see a lot of this in Tony Palmer’s 1968 TV film, All My Loving, which features The Who, Cream and Hendrix, with Paul McCartney offering the immortal phrase: “pop music is the classical music of now.” The actual word ‘Heavy’ comes into view during 1967, with the psychedelic, improvisational Hapshash And The Coloured Coat album, which featured ‘The Human Host With The Heavy Metal Kids’. But it’s not until 1968 that a Heavy style begins to come into focus as a response to money, ambition and events in the world outside. 1968 was a dread year: with massive student protests throughout the US, Paris, London and Mexico City (where 300-400 young people were massacred in the Tlatelolco district), the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and escalation in Vietnam. Heavy times demanded an appropriate musical response: here are 12 of the Heaviest.
This is the true LOUD sound of Heavy to announce the new year: guitar and bass playing the same root notes, strangled vocals, a simple musical format (a 10-year-old rock’n’roll song), strident psychedelic guitar, sledgehammer drums, and even a half time segment towards the end. Named after a particularly potent brand of Owsley Stanley-synthesised LSD, Blue Cheer were San Francisco street hippies, formed by the drummer of the Oxford Circle and managed by a Hell’s Angel called Gut Terk. Eddie Cochran’s original had subtlety and humour, but everything here – including the lyrical pay-off – is
Heavy metal thunder!: (clockwise from above) Iron Butterfly brew up some Brobdingnagian nonsense; Steppenwolf see the upside of burnout; Blue Cheer rock Copenhagen; Spooky Tooth’s Mike Harrison feels the paranoia.
subordinated to the bludgeoning riff. Somewhat to everyone’s surprise, it went to Number 14 in the US charts, occasioning an American Bandstand performance with a bemused Dick Clark. Its parent album, Vincebus Eruptum, has much more of the same and is heavily regarded by Julian Cope, who deems it full of “barbarian thrill rides”.
As Art, Spooky Tooth had already established their proto-heavy credentials with a stripped-down, riff-heavy version of Buffalo Springﬁeld’s For What It’s Worth (aka What’s That Sound) the previous year. After changing their name and adding American keyboardist/writer/singer Gary Wright – a move suggested by Island head Chris Blackwell – they released this, their ﬁrst single, in February 1968. Mid-paced with a strong riff and carefully melodic touches, it’s nevertheless a doomy thing. “Sunshine help me/Help me take the strain away,” Wright sings in an overwrought voice, while the other vocalists rave and shriek behind him – a pop/rock song turned into an exorcism. 1967’s ecstatic elevation has gone, and in its place comes paranoia
(“People always going round putting me down”) and desperation. Spooky Tooth would mine this blues rock/downer mode to great effect on their second album (Spooky Two), which contains the all-time riff-rocker Better By You, Better Than Me – covered a decade later by Judas Priest.
Steppenwolf was a fabulous name to come across in the American chart run-downs of the time: what did they sound like? This drive-time warhorse was the ﬁrst of two huge Top 10s for the group in 1968: Magic Carpet Ride might be more psychedelic, but this pedal-to-the-metal rocker (Number 2 US in high summer; Top 30 UK) deﬁned the new rock style just as it helped to name it: “I like smoke and lightning/Heavy metal thunder.” It has everything: gruff vocals, swirling Hammond organ, a killer central riff, galloping drums and a deﬁnitive outsider/biker attitude. Its appearance, the following year, in Easy Rider sealed its countercultural credentials, and the song has since been covered by dozens of artists including Slade, Link Wray, and yes, Ozzy Osbourne with Miss Piggy.
Leonard Bernstein hated what he saw as this instrumental trashing of his classic from West Side Story: “I utterly loathe what they’ve done,” he said at the time. “They’ve corrupted my work.” On one level he was right, because The Nice’s epic version deconstructs the song and, by hammering the central melody as a riff, turns an immigrant’s dream of integration into an angry protest. The dominant sound is Keith Emerson’s Hammond organ, played at lightning speed, but David O’List’s guitar squalls and teases in just the right places. At the song’s close, up pipes a young girl’s voice, intoning the only lyric: “America is pregnant with promise and anticipation, but is murdered by the hand of the inevitable.” Catching an anti-American wave (the bracket in the title refers to the constitutional right to bear arms), The Nice’s brutal, six-minute recasting went to Number 21 in the UK. If it wasn’t so dextrous, it would be punk.
There is absolutely excuse for this Brobdingnagian pi of nonsense, but it’s totally great. Los Angeles’ Iron Butter had already set out t stall on their ﬁrst alb released in January; Heavy was but a prelude to the main event. L jams were becoming the norm on stage and album by 1968, and the group’s decision to enshrine their live favo As a song, In-A-GaddaVida is nothing – a drun ramble – but the group plough through the variations with, it has to said, some delicacy and virtuosity among the he passages and the throa clearing guitar noises. A base, of course, is a mon fuzz guitar/Hammond organ riff, the vocals are gruff and ‘manly’, there hint of Far Eastern prom and there is a drum solo around nine minutes in ➢
“BY 1968, I thought the British blues boom was pretty much over, now that everyone had jumped on the bandwagon. I said to Chris [Youlden, singer] that we had about two years left – Chris and I were both pessimists by nature. But Savoy Brown hadn’t had any hits like our peers Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack; we never had the mindset to get on Top Of The Pops, we were this pristine blues band and nothing to do with Swinging London, or the pop scene. We were living in a dismal ﬂat in Bayswater, doing really well but not making money. So, a lot of the heaviness was internal, but it also reﬂected what was going on around us. We’d had the high of 1967, which felt new and fresh and young. It felt like we were in charge, and then suddenly it wasn’t the case, and you were left facing reality and a lot of uncertainty. I was aware of the demons in life and the social aspect of things like the Vietnam War. Soldiers came to our shows in the US, saying Savoy Brown had helped get them through. All of a sudden, that creeps into a song like Train To Nowhere. Savoy Brown always wanted to play heavy music, to keep things real and direct, not to beat around the bush, or sing about ‘fairy clouds in the sky’. Train To Nowhere was a statement, an anti-pop statement. I wanted a modern version of Elvis’s Mystery Train, and I gave Chris the title, and the structure, and he wrote the lyrics and sung them brilliantly. Yes, it was dark! I’d always enjoyed that side of the blues, and that’s where Savoy Brown were so inﬂuential, or so bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest tell me. I’ve always heard the guitar that way, not with high treble but a heavy, deep mid-range. I was inﬂuenced by Otis Rush, and Willie Dixon, who introduced the minor key to blues, which gives you that heavy, dark sound everyone began to play, like Black Sabbath. Train To Nowhere was in a major key but I kept it to two chords, modal-style, so it was almost a drone. But I played the guitar solo in a minor key, and therein lies the heavy dark sound that would later come along, playing minor notes against the major key. The human factor, personality, is the key, but equipment was important too. We had our Marshalls, maybe even a full stack, which we set up in the far corner of the studio, and turned them up full, which sounded like a rhinoceros! A year later, you had Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, they took the bull by the horns. But Savoy Brown couldn’t join them. We were too ﬁrmly seated in the blues tradition. The latest Savoy Brown news i l di
Savoy Brown in September 1968, with Kim Simmonds on far right.
that actually contains a pretty good break. It deﬁnitely hit a chord, as the album which it dominated reached Number 4 in the US charts. One of the Atlantic label’s earliest rock successes, it eventually sold 30 million copies.
MY MOD band The Attack had already started turning heavy. I couldn’t afford a 100-watt Marshall amp, so mine was 50-watt, but if you turned it right up, as I’d seen Clapton do, it would distort and give you this incredible, attacking, heavy tone. My original concept for The Nice was a quartet styled like an orchestra. For example, the guitar would take the violin’s role, and we’d all play very powerfully. Keith [Emerson, keys] and I were both classically trained and thought we could do these incredible fusions – classical, jazz, rock – to get people’s attention. So did smashing up your instruments, like The Who, my favourite live band. I told Keith, “Smash up the organ, stand up when you’re playing, and throw your arms around!” America was the result of my parents’ stack of scores. One of them was West Side Story. This was material that hadn’t been commercialised into rock. But it became a protest song for us. We loved – we needed – American music like Tamla and soul, but the Vietnam War was a huge downer that turned everyone against the US. Our parents and grandparents had said they’d never go back to war, they’d been through two, and for what? For politics. Would the UK side with the US and things escalate into a Third World War? Robert Kennedy’s assassination was another huge shock, and the idea developed of releasing America as a protest single, which only Dylan seemed to have gotten away with. Americans in the audience asked if we’d burn their draft cards on-stage, which we did, but I didn’t know Keith planned to burn the US ﬂag on stage until I saw him drawing it on this big piece of paper – and at the Royal Albert Hall! When he set light to the ﬂag at the end, there was this big silence. It was very brave, but it got us banned from the venue. Overnight, we became quite famous, but we didn’t burn the ﬂag again – after the ban, we thought we’d call that quits! O’List’s album The Future Is Wild – featuring Attack O b
The Nice (from left): Keith Emerson, Davy O’List, Brian ‘Blinky’ Davison, Lee Jackson.
Much of Cream’s studio output runs contrary to their blistering live reputation: the eight cuts on the ﬁrst disc of the era-deﬁning double Wheels Of Fire oscillate between psychedelic pop (White Room), enhanced blues (Politician; Sitting On Top Of The World) and avant-pop experiments like Passing The Time and Pressed Rat And Warthog (written by Ginger Baker in collaboration with the jazz pianist and composer Mike Taylor). For the truly heavy stuff, you have to go to the live disc – and this version of the Robert Johnson classic is the most concise and exciting of all the ofﬁcially released Cream concert recordings. At the opening, Eric Clapton’s guitar is perfectly pitched, the solos aren’t too long, and the whole thing is wrapped up in four and a quarter minutes. Like it or not, this was the sound of the late ’60s: over-ampliﬁed guitars going on and on, blaring away.
Pop tries to go heavy, and falls ﬂat on its face. The Top 3 Fire Brigade had been a quirky rocker – but a rocker nevertheless. Driven by bad-ass guitarist Trevor Burton – stepping up to the plate after his confrère Ace Kefford quit – Wild Tiger Woman is a stomping blues, with squalling, Hendrix-inspired guitar, and some risqué lyrics that may well have hindered its success. This being The Move, the four musicians could never quite let go of their pop sensibility – shown particularly in the multi-voice middle eight – and there’s a hint of acid indigestion in lines like “Young and isive/Minds are in a maze.” Too complex ontradictory to be truly heavy, Wild Tiger an ﬂopped where it mattered, but The e would remain split between pop and y for the rest of their career.
Heavy goes to Number 1 UK for one week in early November 1968, following Those Were The Days and Hey Jude at the top and providing the full stop to a Beatle-dominated autumn. This ticks all e boxes: rich, swirling Hammond organ, noisy st-psychedelic guitar, slow tempo, battering ums and a harsh, soulful voice. Cocker and the ease Band stretch out The Beatles’ original to arly double its length with gospel-style
interactions and vocal overkill, particularly in the extended middle eight, making the whole thing turgid and, 50 years later, hard to enjoy to its bitter end. Cocker made some terriﬁc records – in particular Marjorine from earlier in that year – but this isn’t one of them. Yet it shows that Heavy was becoming mainstream by the end of ’68 – both in terms of chart success and stylistic spread.
Before it was a posthumous Number 1 single, it was the ﬁnal track on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland – along with The Beatles’ so-called ‘White Album’, the double album in a year full of them – and a better ﬁnale could not be imagined. An edited studio version of the long jam that took up most of Side 1 (hence the Slight Return), this cosmic blues begins with the most identiﬁable guitar fanfare: faded-in chicken plucks segueing into an archetypal blues riff, played through wah wah, before the full band comes in (at 31”) with annihilating power. There’s
Heavy goods vehicles: (clockwise from right): The “vengeful, chilling” Jimi Hendrix Experience; Love Sculpture – even their name was heavy; Joe Cocker – battering overkill?; Cream film It Was A Saturday Night.
arrangement. The third single by this Welsh group, it was rush-released after being aired on John Peel’s Top Gear and reached Number 5 in the UK charts slightly after Gun’s Race With The Devil – another headlong hurtling of heaviosity. Guitarist and writer Dave Edmunds went on to many great things, of course, but in the meantime, wasn’t there something Heavy, slab-like about his group’s name?
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a lot of soloing, but at this point Hendrix is still disciplined, and the minatory mood perfectly ﬁts the heavy lyrics, which veer from god-like omnipotence to a vengeful politeness and a chilling ﬁnale: “And if I don’t meet you no more in this world/Then I’ll, I’ll meet you in the next one/ And don’t be late, don’t be late…”
Savoy Brown are sometimes unfairly dismissed as Brit Blues journeymen, more successful in the US than in the UK. This extraordinary single blows that right out of the water: it’s not Heavy in instrumentation, but it’s a perfect example of how British musicians took the dread of the original blues and made it into something of their own. Trains were a long-standing blues
trope, but this is a song of the damned. Beginning slow with droning guitar, the group stay on the drone for four minutes, while Chris Youlden spells it out: “On this train ’til I die /Train I ride goes to God knows where/I don’t know and I don’t care.” It ends with a heartfelt warning all the more chilling because of its civility: “Please now brother don’t you ride this train/Ride the wrong rails, live your life in vain.”
The idea of melding classical music to pop was well underway by late 1968: The Nice were already playing the Brandenburg Concerto (Brandenburger) while Mason Williams had had a huge hit with the instrumental Classical Gas that summer. This version of the Khachaturian piece (from the ballet Gayane) is taken at a breakneck pace – all galloping drums and guitar slashes – while still holding ﬁrm to pop standards of melody and
In which Heavy is rising to such prominence that the country’s greatest pop group decides to spend some time there. Opinion is mixed about the results – in Revolution In The Head, Ian MacDonald decreed it risible – but there is something hypnotically off-kilter about the mismatch of form and execution. The riff, when it appears during the chorus, is slab-like, but the guitars are nowhere near heavy enough, and McCartney’s yells are privileged in the mix – unlike many Heavy records, where the instrumentation is the focus. There’s something stilted and halting about the rhythm, and the false ending seems redundant. The decision to retain Ringo’s shriek at the end (in the stereo version, at least) plants the song in the territory of experiment, if not piss-take – but the whole effect is obsessive and niggling, ripe for adoption by shagnasties of all M kinds. So yes, Heavy in the end.
Kingâ€™s gambit: Robert Plant considers his next move at Chess Forum, Greenwich Village, New York, February 15, 2018.
MOJO ON THE ROAD
VALHALLA CAN WAIT Being the guy from Led Zeppelin isn’t enough for Robert Plant. Instead, he continues to search for music to call his own. MOJO rides with the Sensational Space Shifters, in New York and Boston, to find a Golden God with something still to prove. “It’s good for the brain, innit?” he tells Andrew Perry. Portrait by Pieter M van Hattem. N THE GREEN ROOM AT THE FABLED Beacon Theatre on New York City’s Upper West Side, dinner is served. Robert Plant’s six-strong Sensational Space Shifters are dining with crew and local friends, after conducting a soundcheck without their leader. Yesterday Plant, who turns 70 this coming August, enjoyed a late night’s revelry at a gig in Brooklyn by Balkan gypsy brass crew Slavic Soul Party, and is apparently resting up in advance of this fourth show on a 12-night North American theatre tour. Suddenly, without fanfare or your even really noticing it, he drifts in with a cup of tea and sits at a table, quickly warming up to enthuse about Wolverhampton Wanderers’ runaway lead at the top of English football’s second tier. “Everyone said we’d struggle, because we’d signed all these little fellas from Portugal and Brazil,” he notes with glee, his famous corkscrew mane loosely tied at the back. “As if they wouldn’t survive the weather in the Midlands. But they just had a go, like we did with Zeppelin, you know, giving it to Springsteen – ‘What are you gonna do with that, mate?’ So, now we’re 13 points clear at the top, we chant, ‘We’re fucking shit in the winter!’”
It’s over a decade now since Led Zeppelin gave their one full performance since drummer John Bonham’s passing, at London’s O2 Arena in December 2007. It’s an open secret that the only obstacle to another reunion of Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, and bassist John Paul Jones – plus substitute sticksman, Jason ‘son-of ’ Bonham – is the singer’s reluctance to sideline a solo career that has evolved into an exotic and successful pan-generic adventure, exemplified by his fifteenth post-Zep studio album, 2017’s Carry Fire. Zeppelin’s increasingly historic one-off at The O2 was actually prompted by an unhappy accident at the Beacon. It was here that Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary Atlantic Records boss who’d mentored countless jazz, soul and rock artists over the years, including Zeppelin, took a fall on a backstage staircase, and never recovered from his ensuing head injuries. Led Zeppelin’s O2 concert was conceived in tribute to Ertegun’s memory, and Plant today comes over a little misty-eyed as he notes that the offending staircase has since been removed. His affection for the venue itself, however, is undiminished. “It’s just one of those places,” he says, eyes ➢ MOJO 65
a-twinkle as he drinks in the auditorium’s OTT array of neo-Grecian statues, arches and frescos, “where you put your hands on the walls, and you can feel the million musics, all through time. They’ve absorbed so much endeavour, and so much joy beyond the footlights, and so much tentative, speculative stuff from artists, trying things out here for the first time. Magnificent, isn’t it?”
HAT QUESTING SPIRIT IS energetically pursued on-stage later as, within a packed Beacon, Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters channel a fair few of those musics in one fabulously vibey, stylistically free-floating extravaganza. Out front, the singer appears absorbed and often transported by his band, particularly his two guitarists: the bearded, David Crosby-esque Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson, whom Plant colourfully describes as “the master of this beautiful, heart-warming aetherea of psychedelia”; and band leader Justin Adams, whose crunching voodoo-blues shuttle between West Africa and the Mississippi Delta – as Plant again puts it, “like a Tuareg twanger”. When Led Zeppelin tunes surface, they’re often the more reflective or acoustic ones: That’s The Way, from Led Zeppelin III, is
stirringly reimagined with upright bass, mandolin and exploratory picking from Tyson; Gallows Pole is revamped as a kind of delirious ‘speed ceilidh’, its Celtic stock tinged by flavours of Appalachian banjo and scratchy rockabilly guitar. And though Plant currently favours a measured, high-register croon, he will unleash the vocal beast of Zeppelin during a barn-storming, violin-propelled Misty Mountain Hop, moaning and screeching with vigour. The flat-out rock finally arrives on a monster-riffing encore of Whole Lotta Love, interspersed with extraneous snippets of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home and Santianna, a sea shanty dating back to the Mexican-American war of the 1840s. Afterwards, in a green room filled with New York City biz bigwigs, Plant again moves without superstar kerfuffle, but he is in buoyant mood. “Being with our gang is like a fun factory,” he tells MOJO, slurping from a glass of white wine. “It’s very intense musically, but it’s all done with the greatest open heart – like open-heart surgery! That’s what drives me to it, because, you know, you can’t duck out from mortality.” He pauses and sighs, perhaps thinking of the succession of peers who’ve fallen in recent months.
“That’s all going on, every day, so why not sing your heart out, eh?” HE FOLLOWING MORNING, WE join Plant at Chess Forum, an Arab-run shop-front in Greenwich Village dedicated to the greatest of all strategy board games. Sipping a latte, he explains how he chanced upon this place after arriving Stateside a few days early to acclimatise for the current tour, and duly signed up for a refresher course here, with a Maghrebi tutor from Casablanca. “Because it’s good for the brain, innit?” he reasons simply. “The teacher guy kept saying to me, (irate Arabic tone) ‘Why did you do that move – are you a fool?’ I said, (shrugging) Yes, I probably am.” Plant first visited Morocco with Jimmy Page in 1975, just after Zeppelin’s epic three-night stand at Earl’s Court, and explored the north-western edge of the Sahara for a few weeks. After spending a somewhat chequered 1980s apart, Page and Plant returned to Marrakesh to record tracks for 1994’s MTV-sponsored No Quarter, and also enlisted an Egyptian orchestra for that album’s sumptuous re-reading of Zeppelin’s Kashmir. “They used to say to me, ‘Mr Robert,
Carrying the flame: (right) the band shift space at the Beacon Theatre, New York, February 14, 2018 (from left) John Baggott, Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson, Dave Smith, Plant, Seth Lakeman, Billy Fuller, Justin Adams; (opposite) Plant, Adams (hidden) and Lakeman burst it out.
IF IT GOT A N Y BIGGER TH A N T H E AT R E S L I K E T H I S – I T ’ S A N
I N T I M AT E T H I NG
Pieter M van Hattem (7)
W E D O – Y O U ’ D L O S E A L O T. you speak the language of dogs!’” he recalls today with a smile. “Because the Egyptians always claim that Maghrebi, which I’d picked up over the years in Morocco, isn’t proper Arabic.” It was this strand of Plant’s musical DNA which laid the foundation for the original Strange Sensation line-up, formed in the aftermath of his last substantial collaboration with Page, 1998’s Walking Into Clarksdale album, as a liberation from the shackles of stadium rock. “I’d been playing with Jimmy,” says Plant, over robust coffees in a nearby Greek cafe, “and by 1999 it’d turned into this great concrete-monolith gig. There was a lot of muscle in it, and I just ran out of muscle. So I ran away.” Initially, he formed a knockabout folky skiffle group called The Priory Of Brion, based just over the Welsh border from his Worcestershire home, but what he really
sought was a platform for hybridising his various tastes, ancient and modern. “In those days,” he says, “people had much less understanding of how broad I wanted my music. My singing – that thing I can do – shouldn’t live in any one bag, in any one place. I was desperate to find someone who could steer a six-string guitar away from the normal guitar that you’d associate with a singer with my history.” To that end, recent collaborators from world-y troupes Afro Celt Soundsystem and Transglobal Underground directed him to Justin Adams, a nomadic diplomat’s son best known for bringing North and West African techniques into Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart. At the time of Plant’s call, Adams was busy mixing the first Western album by Mali’s Tinariwen, The Radio Tisdas Sessions, in his loft studio in Bath. The Strange Sensation duly became what its chief calls “a Bristolian West Country
set-up”, which included Clive Deamer and John Baggott, drummer and keyboard player respectively from Portishead’s touring band. That line-up cut 2002’s Dreamland, mostly covers, “to get the personality of the music,” says Plant, “and from then on, everybody could be themselves entirely.” That fully came to pass on 2005’s Mighty Rearranger, with the arrival of Skin Tyson, whom they poached from momentarily defunct Scouse Britpoppers Cast, as a more searching foil for Adams, and young bassist Billy Fuller, another Bristolian who was sourced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow from a seven-piece space-jazz improv unit called Fuzz Against Junk. Mighty Rearranger was rightly hailed as Plant’s tastiest post-Zeppelin effort thus far, but he soon left-turned, putting Strange Sensation on ice while he collaborated with Nashville star Alison Krauss on 2007’s sublime Raising Sand – a quietly envelopepushing alt-country record whose cult appreciation unforeseeably outgrew itself, to the point where the duo wound up touring arenas. “It was a different kind of audience for me, particularly in America,” he says. “Over here, Alison’s known for a particular thing, and she’s got more Grammys for it than ➢ MOJO 67
“H E K NOWS MOROCCO BETTER TH A N I DO!” Sensational Space Shifters’ Justin Adams on Robert Plant’s “pure spirit of adventure”.
Pieter M van Hattem (7)
I almost felt like my predilection for the Arabic, North African thing had been a handicap in the music business, because most people are like, ‘What do you want to play that kebab shop music for?’ I never thought I’d end up playing with someone who’s ‘classic rock’, but then the more I’ve got to know Robert, the more I’ve realised he actually knows Morocco better than I do. When he ﬁrst called me up, he asked what I’d been up to recently, and I said, I’ve just been out in the Sahara desert recording this band Tinariwen, and we were instantly on the same page. On that call, he said to me, ‘If you ever go back to Mali, take me as well.’ I said, OK, thinking, Well, that’s never gonna happen! Two years later, we went to the third Festival In The Desert, and that was an amazing, bonding experience, listening to all this incredible music under the stars, jamming with Ali Farka Touré… Working with him, I soon realised that a lot of his exceptional skills are about the techniques of music, as a vocalist and lyricist, but then he has more subtle ones, about chemistry between people, when the right moment to do something is – or, if you wanted to use posh words, ‘following the muse’. He’s hyper-sensitive to people’s vibes, and what’s going on in the room “ROBERT’S HYPER- – which you lose in the bigger places. SENSITIVE TO Robert’s the master PEOPLE’S VIBES, of putting compleAND WHAT’S GOING mentary personalities ON IN THE ROOM.” together. Skin [Tyson, other SSS guitarist] and I couldn’t be more different: he’s got that mind-expanding, psychedelic thing, with open tuning, and delicately ﬁnger-picked acoustic guitars. For me, it’s Hubert Sumlin, Tom Verlaine, Steve Cropper the James Brown guitarists, the Africa economical, rhythmic appr Robert lives in both of th he wants to go Jefferson Ai Crosby-Stills, or more the in groove thing, or the Arabic North African references – it all. He’s chosen people who got their own musical voice and he creates an environment where it’s good to experiment – don’t repeat yourself, we’re not doing things desperate trying to impress, or get on radio, let’s do something w that pure spirit of adventur We’re in an amazing situation, because right no it’s tough making interestin music and making it work ﬁnancially. So the fact that Robert’s name sells tickets straight away, and then for to be, ‘OK, let’s really go for it and make some out-there music’ – it’s a dream.
anybody else in the history of metalwork and fretwork! So we would play a bluegrass festival, and she’d come over to me and say, ‘What percentage of the crowd do you think ill l b h hird song?’ And they did! up and fuck off! They call at-snappers: they’d see the kit, get their collapsible , bang them together and way.” the middle of that paign came Zeppelin’s concert, which prompttalk of a full-scale union tour, the prospect which Plant has regularly stanced himself from. ow, with the approaching th anniversary of the ginal Zeppelin quartet’s gig together – as The Yardbirds, in Gladsaxe, mark on September 7, – there has been wed conjecture about le Zeppelin activity. At ere mention today, the
playfulness immediately drains from Plant’s eyes. We take it the prospect wouldn’t excite him? “No,” he says, then, after a pregnant pause: “it just makes me realise how time flies, and how long John Bonham has not been with us, and what a price to pay for the whole fucking thing. To have gone through car wrecks and losing my child” – in 1975, Plant was badly injured in a road accident on the island of Rhodes, and in 1977 lost his five-year-old son, Karac, to a stomach virus – “and then losing the guy who tried to help me get back into a creative place after losing my boy…” He gazes off for a moment. “So really, everything’s fine,” he concludes, abruptly. “It’s 50 years, but it’s not 50 years – it’s 38 years of darkness for a family [ie. Bonham’s]. So all that hullabaloo is great, and I’m sure there’ll be some great things to come out of it.” He smiles, as genuinely as he can, as he ponders the projects that Page may or may not have planned after the recent How The West Was Won reissue. “I really can’t wait to hear them – I might even get a free copy.”
Pocketful of golden: (clockwise from left) Robert Plant walking down Thompson Street, New York City; the Beacon Theatre audience earn plaudits from the band; SSS merch; (opposite) the Space Shifters deploy “power, energy and pulse.”
HE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre, the Sensational Space Shifters’ illustrious frontman is tackling his Zeppelin legacy, very much on his own terms. He and his half-dozen compadres are gathered on-stage in a circle, using their soundcheck to woodshed When The Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin IV’s powerhouse closer. After our interview in New York yesterday, the band drove up to Massachusetts, and even though Plant again burnt the candle at a City Winery gig by his buddy Steve Earle, they’ve convened here early to reinvent Levee, based upon an ominous loop that John Baggott has devised explicitly for the purpose. For a highly charged 90 minutes, this iconic track is reimagined, morphed, demolished, and reconstructed again, entirely on the fly. Often, it’s only when Plant moans a verse – “’f it keeps on rainin’…” – that you remember what song they’re doing. At one point, rimshots and a tweaked bass line seem to be nudging it towards dub territory, until they reach the bridge, where sawing violin from Dartmoor
PA G E A N D PLANT TURNED I N T O T H I S G R E AT
CONCR ETE MONOLITH G I G . T H E R E WA S A L O T O F M USC L E I N I T, A N D I J U S T R A N OUT OF MUSCLE . Brit-folker Seth Lakeman carries Page’s linking guitar melody with a downhome country lilt. Occasionally, Plant offers a broader direction – “You could burst it open right there!” – which Adams then tries to translate into actual music with the others. Whatever life in a revived Zeppelin may entail, it’s unlikely there’d be scope for such
seat-of-pants remapping of the sacred canon. Post-O2, Plant obviously saw that the road ahead, either with Zeppelin or Krauss, was leading into that enormo-dome world which summoned only memories of claustrophobia and pain, bereavement and burn-out. “You know those signs people put on lamp-posts over here,” he says, “with, ‘I’m lonely, anyone wanna date?’ – and you can tear the phone number off the bottom, and you can call this guy? I started to feel a bit like that as a singer. You know, ‘I wanna do something different now. Call me!’” Attempting to reclaim a little more agency over his musical life, in 2010 he reactivated the name Band Of Joy – after the pre-Zeppelin blues-psych group he’d inhabited in mid-’60s Stourbridge, with Bonham – for a folk/country venture based around Nashville sessioneers and his then partner, Texas-based chanteuse Patty Griffin, with whom he was living in Austin. Touring Europe, Band Of Joy were supported by JuJu, Justin Adams’ interim quartet where he played alongside Gambian one-string violinist Juldeh Camara, with ➢ MOJO 69
Feeling the muse: (clockwise from left) scenes outside the Orpheum Theatre, Boston, February 16, 2018; two nights earlier at the Beacon, New York; Skin Tyson and Plant; the Sensational Space Shifters take a bow; Plant has a board meeting with Imad Kha Chan, owner of NYC’s Chess Forum; RP sings his heart – “It’s a hell of a challenge to float this.”
Pieter M van Hattem (7)
Fuller on bass, and nu-school jazzer Dave Smith on drums. For a one-off gig in Guildford in May ’12, Plant was unable to assemble the Band Of Joy, and asked Adams if JuJu would back him. “We’d got that far,” Adams remembers, “so then it was, ‘Why don’t we give Skin a ring?’He was free, and John Baggott had just come off tour with Massive Attack, so that became the Sensational Space Shifters.” Plant himself was at a crossroads in life: missing his four kids, he was also finding Austin “exhausting climatically”, and disliked that he was treated as a celebrity there. “Certain things I couldn’t do naturally,” he says, “which I can in Ludlow or Shrewsbury. So I came home, and I felt that I’d failed in a plan – a cunning plan – for the first time.” The ensuing Sensational Space Shifters album, Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar, was about finally facing up to his twin-centred needs, for both domestic privacy and the musician’s peripatetic buzz. After touring that record, Camara returned to Gambia, and Seth Lakeman came aboard for Carry Fire’s touring phase. In the process, the
50 YEARS OF LED ZEPPELIN J UST M A K E S M E R E A L I S E H OW TIME FLIES, A N D HOW LONG JOH N BONH A M H AS NOT BE E N WITH US. band’s sonic identity shifted perceptibly away from West African trance-outs to incorporate arcane, but no less transcendent, Brit-folk traditions. Plant is delighted with the evolution. “It’s a hell of a challenge to float this,” he says. “It’s a teeny-weeny rolling thing, in the big scheme, but if it got any bigger than theatres like this – it’s an intimate thing we do, with power and energy and pulse – you’d lose a lot of that sensory stuff.”
HAT STUFF IS IN POWERFUL evidence in Boston later, as another pulsating show unfolds within the Orpheum’s vaulted, gold-and-magnoliapainted surrounds. The crowd here, on Friday night in hard-partying Boston, are even more up for it than New York. And though Plant himself was apparently snoozing a mere 10 minutes before stage time, he too is in top form, bringing heartache to Walking Into Clarksdale’s Please Read The Letter, while in the next breath joking about the pleasures of staying up late. There’s no outing for Levee, mind. “Well, fuck me,” Plant exclaims to MOJO backstage afterwards, again in post-show euphoria, “we finally have people coming who’re ready to lose their shit!” We’ve become used to rock royalty from the ’60s and ’70s raging against the dying of the light, yet right now – with performers retiring from the live arena, and after Prince and Tom Petty died medicating the aches and pains that come with later life on the road – one has to wonder how Plant, notorious for his excesses in the ’70s, copes so well. “Been there, done that,” he replies with a
21s t C E N T U R Y MAN Robert Plant’s Indian Summer, in albums. By Andrew Perry. Robert Plant Dreamland (Mercury, 2002) ++++ This off-the-cuff loosener for Plant’s embryonic Strange Sensation combo featured four hazily psychedelic self-composed jams, plus fragrant covers of, amongst others, the Tims (Rose and Buckley), Skip Spence, and Bukka White’s Fixin’ To Die – a Zep favourite, still in his live set.
Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation Mighty Rearranger (Sanctuary, 2005) +++++ As the Strange Sensation hit their stride, Plant delivered his best record in 30 years, the musical fusions of ancient/modern, Anglo-American/African, etc, matched in full-bloodedness by a world-travelling singer voicing knowledgably on tribal displacement, famine and political mendacity. Mighty tunes, too.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand (Decca, 2007) +++++ Stateside roots avatar T Bone Burnett played match-maker/ producer for this union of reborn rock god and much-garlanded new doyenne of bluegrass, which genre-bustingly pandered to neither’s audience. Recherché songs (Gene Clark, Tom Waits, etc) are lit up by consummate ensemble economy, and superlative duetting.
Robert Plant Band Of Joy (Decca, 2010) ++++
smirk, going on to reveal that he has a small brown bottle at home containing three Quaaludes which were prescribed to him in Los Angeles in the ’70s, but which he has kept as a warning to himself: “The label on the bottle says, ‘Robert Plant – for sleeplessness’ – it looks like an album cover! Three Rorer 714s, from Schwartz pharmacy in LA, and I often think to myself, Wow, there they are – poison!” Instead, Plant has chosen a modestly proportioned touring model which is sustainable for a singer of his vintage, with an itinerary loosely structured as one night on, one night off. “It’s not an endurance test,” he concludes. Within those parameters, there are few artists who’ve managed to remain as full-blooded and productive in their twilight years. At the end of this US tour, he’s off to Austin to sing on Patty Griffin’s new record. Though the pair reputedly separated in ’14, Griffin, if we’re reading the runes correctly, is still an important person in his life. Otherwise, in 2018, he’s on the run from those birthdays – not only Zeppelin’s 50th, but his own 70th.
According to Plant, his Nashville-centred Band Of Joy began working on sultry numbers by slowcore-rockers Low, and, inexorably, he and Texan vocal foil Patty Grifﬁn ended up in bed. Much smouldering folk/country majesty also ensued, plus a Zeppelin-taunting scamper through Barbara Lynn’s You Can’t Buy My Love.
Robert Plant Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch, 2014)
++++ After circumstance reactivated his Justin Adams-led, early-2000s backing combo (now rebranded the Sensational Space Shifters) the initial line-up featuring Gambian ﬁddle maestro Juldeh Camara cut but one record, strong on future-arcane anthems of displacement that audaciously surpass the “wholemeal world music” approach Plant and co loathe.
Robert Plant Carry Fire (Nonesuch, 2017) ++++ Back on a roll with Adams’ pan-globalist crew, Plant here voiced in a seductive croon to avoid contributing to the shrill discourse of contemporary news with any full-blast screeching. Bittersweet meditations on mature romance, but also refugee misery and political isolationism, make this another corker.
“I shan’t be at my own birthday,” he says, fondly recalling his 60th, where entertainment was provided by veteran comedians Frank Carson and Tommy Mundon. “Lenny Kravitz’s tour bus came from Ireland,” he recalls, “and it got stuck on the hump-back bridge in my village, with its front wheels on one side, and the rear wheels on the other. “But neither of those comedians are with us any more,” he sighs, “so if ever there’s a day for opiates... (pause) I might drop an Ambien and see what happens. If there’s a bustle in the hedgerow, it’ll be me, snoring!” Though anniversaries will be avoided, Plant is in good spiritual and professional fettle, and keen to get writing again. “After all that disorientation a few years ago, leaving Austin,” he says, “I’ve come to terms with my condition better. Now I know that it’s all home. Everything’s home. Soundchecks, staggering through the Black Country on a Friday night with a bunch of fatties – it’s all the same thing. When you smile, it’s home.” At which, Plant bids adieu, heading off for tomorrow night’s show in Toronto, grinning from ear to ear. M MOJO 71
E G A N O O M NT E P E S ON A E V A S H E AM -FAM Y E NK SINC YPER ND O IS H M AR S A T C O I T I T F B T E N ARC FIVE Y IP — I , DOU END OSINO, D THE LAR TRRHOO AT THE L & CA VEL L O E E STE FATH VERY. E HOT OSE N O S D NS AN -DISC TY BA U WH I F P S E L QU I L OP O I N P F TRA SM O A C CS .” TH HING LL . NYT I R A E Y OTT AN N. “B C STO REW E D L C N A E EC C Y Y B NN HY P DA A GR O T PHO
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M A E MOJO 73
T WAS JANUARY 2016, AND ALEX TURNER WAS BEGINNING TO WONDER whether he’d ever write another Arctic Monkeys song. “I think it’s always been like this to some extent,” says the singer, with some weariness. “I have to find ways to trick myself into writing songs. But this time, I’d run out of tricks…” After a 30th birthday trip with friends, Turner had returned to his Los Angeles abode, turned the key in the door and swung it open. Ostensibly, the house was as he’d left it. It was only when he turned left and poked his head around the door of what he still, in a comfortingly un-Los Angeles way, refers to as “the spare room” that he observed the new addition to the household: an upright piano, not exactly in the first flush of youth. “It was a Steinway Vertegrand,” he whispers reverentially, “a very kind 30th birthday gift from my manager. Looking back now it seems really… significant. It changed everything really.”
Two years on and five and a half thousand miles away, we’re talking change in Turner’s east London pied-à-terre – a two-up-two-down plucked straight out of Northern cliché and dropped in the country’s trendiest postcode. The front door is scuffed, the house number wonky, there are bin bags outside. In the kitchen there’s a box of Yorkshire Tea bags and a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Upstairs, Turner’s American model girlfriend Taylor Bagley – towering but friendly, sporting a copper-coloured gamine crop – enjoys the recently remodelled bathroom facilities. She was too tall to fit in the old tub, apparently. Turner half-sprawls, half-perches on the sofa in the living room, squinting in the light streaming through the front window, apologising for sunglasses indoors. He’s dressed in a brown silk shirt, navy pinstripe blazer, and black jeans with massive, flapping rips in the knees, but it’s his facial furniture that prompts a third glance: unwashed shoulder-length hair, tied back, and a goatee beard framing the big eyes and aquiline nose – a touch of the 1980s TV magician. On a small table next to him sits a George Saunders novel. In the back a Revox reel-to-reel spins tunes. “If you can’t play your reel-to-reel when MOJO’s coming over,” Turner smiles wryly, “when can you play it?” Turner’s new look heralds a new direction for his band. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, sixth album credited to Arctic Monkey is spacey and strange – lounge music the retro-future, an ejection if not reject of indie guitars. Its impending release MOJO meets Turner, is strictly hush-h – partly to wrongfoot, as far as possibl the all-encompassing digital transparen cy of everything; partly so that the album can be ‘dropped’, as an entity, without scene-stealing lead-off track, a gambit th plays to its strengths (ie, it is not rep with indie disco bangers) but not decreed by Turner. “Jamie was really keen on that idea,”
says, meaning Monkeys guitarist and policy touchstone Jamie Cook, “and I guess people at Domino. But it didn’t come from me. I understand it, I think.” It is said that Turner is an unenthusiastic interview. Sometimes this is put down to shyness, or petulance, but in the flesh it really does look like it physically pains him to reveal aspects of his inner life. That’s combined with an aggressive pre-filtering of his answers to expunge bragging, BS, convenient near-truth and pat answer – the basic building blocks of your rock’n’roll interview – that sometimes seems to strike him dumb. “I wouldn’t consider him reticent at all,” protests his friend and longtime producer James Ford. “But he’s definitely not happy-go-lucky. He’s wary of strangers. You would be, if you were him.” On November 15, 2014, 10 eventful years since the Sheffield group’s spiky demos first caused a stir on Myspace (remember that?) and eight since Gordon Brown declared himself a fan (remember him?), and still flush with the next-level success of their fifth album, AM, the Arctic Monkeys closed their biggest ever tour with a show in Rio De Janeiro. “We ended up on the beach at dawn,” recalls their manager Ian McAndrew of the demob euphoria. “And we all ran into the sea.” Turner returned to LA and started work on an album with Columbia-signed singer-songwriter Alexandra Savior. Then, in summer 2015, he reunited with Miles Kane to write and record a second Last Shadow Puppets album, Everything You’ve Come To Expect. In interviews, Turner and Kane traded in-jokes, ile Turner concocted elaborate and percilious statements – a different kind not-quite engaging – and Kane got into water when he propositioned a female rnalist. On their subsequent tour Turner ed baroque new tics to an increasingly andiloquent stage persona. Meanwhile, s Arctic Monkeys bandmates had sumed largely civilian existences. Jamie ook, drummer Matt Helders and bassist ck O’Malley were all married and fathers oung children. Time ticked on. Three years since AM’s 3 release, there was still no sign of any w Arctic Monkeys songs. ➢
“I HAVE TO FIND WAYS TO TRICK MYSELF INTO WRITING SONGS. BUT THIS TIME, I’D RUN OUT OF TRICKS.” ALEX TURNER
Star treatment: Arctic Monkeys, shot exclusively for MOJO, March 14, 2018 (from left) Jamie Cook, Alex Turner, Nick Oâ€™Malley, Matt Helders.
Save it for the morning after: Matt Helders and Alex Turner give it one last push on the final date of the AM Tour, HSBC Arena, Rio De Janeiro, November 15, 2014; (inset right) Turner at Brixton Academy, February 17, 2006.
SOUND THE EVOLUTION OF THE ARCTIC MONKEYS, IN 10 SONGS. KEITH CAMERON. 1 I BET YOU L GOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR (Domino 45, 2005) That kinetic ignition, the lyric’s multiple feats of metrical geometry: the breakout Arctic Monkeys record presented its creators as a ﬁnished article. Its narrative voice, meanwhile, skilfully toggles between participant and observer, while refreshing the Northern kitchen sink drama template with a teenage spark: “There ain’t no love, no Montagues or Capulets/Just banging tunes and DJ sets”.
2 A CERTAIN ROMANCE (from Whatever People S m, That’s What I’m Not, Do 2006) The debut album’s pugilist/poet duality is best captured by this epic closer, where crushing instrumental passages rub against the lyric’s detailed account of a lairy
nightscape –Rumble Fish relocated to Shefﬁeld. Alex Turner’s view on the pissed up scrappers is characteristically ambivalent, shifting from disdain to acceptance: “What can I say? I’ve known them for a long long time…”
3 LEAVE BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON (Domino 45, 2006) Written and recorded after Whatever People Say I Am…, this meticulously voiced account of one-night-stand disconsolation (“She’s thinking ‘He looks different today’”) showed the Monkeys could increase t emotional payload while ing out the ramalama. It was sibly
self-pity gets short shrift: “She said ‘Do me a favour and stop ﬂattering yourself.’”
Turner’s farewell to lost weekend reportage – though he would subsequently address similar dynamics in different locations.
4 TEDDY PICK (Domino 45, 2007) Taut from industrial-level roadwork and streamlined by co-producer James Ford, Teddy Picker effected a steroidal upgrade on Fake Tales Of San Francisco’s gawky poke at local scene wannabes. Turner’s takedown of the bandwidth generation’s malaise was brusque: “Not quick enough/Can I have it quicker?/Already thick and you’re getting thicker.”
5 DO ME A FAVOUR (from Favourite Worst Ni are, Domino, 2007) The second album’s quantum leap came two-thirds through, where its voice shifted unambiguously from third to ﬁrst person. This shattering break-up vignette – marshalled by Matt Helders’ beats, decorated by Jamie Cook as Johnny Marr – is voiced by the dumper, whose
6 CRYING LIGHTNING (Domino 45, 2009) As producer of Humbug, Josh Homme’s greatest gift to Arctic Monkeys was to set the individuals free while sonically rendering them as a true ensemble. Crying Lightning is a feat of construction, whereby the players are apparently soloing to different songs, yet the whole marches in lockstep. When it arrives, Cook’s actual solo stings like illicit frontier spirit.
7 CATAPULT (B-side of Cornerstone, D , 2009) The Arctic desert voodoo peaked with this ﬂamencopsych whirlwind. Egged on by Nick O’Malley’s unbridled bass, Turner hyperventi-
“ALEX IS DEFINITELY NOT HAPPY-GOLUCKY. HE’S WARY OF STRANGERS. YOU WOULD BE, IF YOU WERE HIM.” JAMES FORD
lates as he watches his girl fall for some cad, whose “heart was cut out of the same stone that they used to carve his jaw”. Homme wasn’t alone in wondering how Catapult didn’t make the ﬁnal cut.
8 PILEDRIVER WALTZ (from Suck It And See, Domino, 2011) Perhaps inevitably, the Monkeys’ fourth album felt like a retreat to safer territory; its best song was the group reworking of a solo Alex Turner recording from the Submarine ﬁlm soundtrack. However handsome, Piledriver Waltz’s bittersweet will-o-the-wisp efﬂorescence felt like mere routine for a band whose standards now demanded more.
nual, Jamie Cook ﬁnally unleashed his War Pigs moment into the spectral grooves of this billet fou to a Hollywood dream girl. She has a “kiss the colour of a constellation falling into place”. Al, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Barnsley any more…
10 WHY’D YOU ONLY CALL ME WHEN YOU’RE HIGH?
9 ARABELLA (from AM, Domino, 2013) Having emerged from the Homme Humbug with long hair and a Tony
(Domino 45, 2013) Even at its platinum-precision peaks, AM suggested Arctic Monkeys’ vision of high rolling wasn’t so far from messy nights at the Leadmill. The song’s phat-bottomed momentum wobbles on the verge of queasy, as Turner, even amid the glimmering Beverly Hills gold, ﬁnds himself “Somewhere darker, talking the same shite”. Too much of a good thing, and all that.
EFORE SITTING DOWN AT HIS 30TH BIRTHDAY present, Alex Turner hadn’t played piano with any seriousness since he was eight. “I was taught to play a bit,” he says, “but I never took to it the way I did to guitar when I was 15 or something. But there was always these three chords and a scale that I could play on piano, and I could always make it look like I knew what I was doing. And I guess I wanted to see what was behind that door…” Piano chord progressions dubbed onto a vintage 8-track in Turner’s spare room – renamed “The Lunar Surface” after the theory that the Apollo landing was faked on a soundstage by Stanley Kubrick – became the soundtrack to Turner’s own alternate reality. Slowly, a new sort of song emerged. “So I’ve tricked myself into writing – by sitting at the piano, doing this thing that I haven’t done before, then almost I’m allowed to…” he pauses, filtering again. “That gave me permission to go somewhere I’d had trouble getting to before. It allowed me to put across how I… feel, more… broadly than I’ve done before.” Songs came that coughed up piercing observaions on the human malaise, sometimes in disjointed punchlines. “That’s always the stuff that stays,” ays Turner. “Whenever you think you’re doing omething for a joke, you’re doing something for a eason, deep down.” Others appeared to address Turner’s own situaon, like Star Treatment, with its striking opening line “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes” – and midong admission that “Golden Boy’s in bad shape”… “That was me writing about writing,” he ys. “It was my 8 ½, the Fellini film – where the rector character can’t seem to make this movie, owever hard he tries. I was thinking about that. That s interesting to me.” Turner admits to subsequently trying and failing to replace the Strokes line, knowing it would make the song into one about Alex Turner, Rock Star. “Did the Strokes line feel too close to home? Yeah, absolutely,” he sighs. “But you can’t let that stop you. That whole thing of, Oh my God, what are they gonna think this means? You can’t really work like that.” Was Golden Boy really in bad shape? “In the sense that I was lost and didn’t really have any ideas about what I was going to do. ‘Golden Boy’’s a bit of a rob off that Leonard Cohen song, Dress Rehearsal Rag [“Where are you golden boy/Where is your famous golden touch?”]. I must have been playing the album [Songs Of Love And Hate] and it kind of got in there.” Is it the most autobiographical song he’s ever recorded? “Well the album sort of all is. I’m having a word with myself, intermittently, throughout all 11 tunes.” The richness and depth of Tranquility Base’s lyrical world – some of the songs feel like super-dense prose-poems set to music – will delight and relieve Turner admirers of long standing. After the extraordinary observational detail and characterful stance of Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, ➢ MOJO 77
Shadowy men on another planet: (from left) Helders, Turner, Cook, O’Malley. “Maybe there’ll be fans we gained from AM that will be a bit confused now.”
Andrew Cotterill (4)
That’s What I’m Not, it’s arguab for all his subsequent diversions – the gaudy fun-poking of Favourite Worst Nightmare, erotic surrealism of Humbug and AM’s pithy reflections on the ways of desire – Turner has worked within himself as a lyricist. James Ford says that on a night out with the singer you can see his ear at work – switching onto the conversational quirks of everyone around him. But Tranquility Base – a song-cycle with overarching sci-fi architecture that accommodates sophisticated swipes at our entertainment and infoswamped culture – is a trip somewhere new. “I tried to write this kind of thing before,” says Turner, clinking his rings on an Arctic Monkeys tea mug. “I just didn’t know how to, really. I think I tried and recognised, thankfully, that I wasn’t ready. It’s like the natural place to have gone, after that first record, was somewhere around ’ere.” In the song Science Fiction, he sings, “I want to make a simple point about peace and love, but in a sexy way that’s not obvious”. The dilemma of every pop writer who yearns to say something ‘meaningful’? “Yeah, it’s not a disclaimer,” says Turner. “But I think you have to recognise the vanity of that. It was the only way I could go there. Others are capable of going there in different ways...” Is this the yin to Last Shadow Puppets’ yang, where everything seemed more showy, more pretend-y? “That could be true,” says Turner, sounding unsure, “but I think also part of that Puppets record was… they were probably the most straight-up love letters I’d ever written. I put it all in there. And maybe that was part of it. I’d gone there completely with Sweet Dreams, TN, and Dream Synopsis and The Bourne Identity. You’re not going to get any of that on this album.” At the piano, imagining himself in a taqueria on the roof of a casino on the moon in a future version of now, Turner found he even sang differently – subtly strange and intimate, a lounge singer
at the Apocalypse – and his 8-track bedroom vocals have mostly survived subsequent sessions (“In the posh booth with the posh mike, we couldn’t get the same intimacy,” says James Ford). Listening back in early 2017, Turner kind of liked what he’d done. “But I was still unsure about what it was,” he insists. “Was it just… meanderin’?” Turner invited Jamie Cook out to Los Angeles to help him decide how out-there he’d gone. Is Cook the band’s gatekeeper? Turner laughs. “I think he has good judgment, yeah. And maybe it comes from the fact that this was all his idea – the band.” He needed Jamie to say if it was or it wasn’t Arctic Monkeys? “I suppose I did, yeah.” HAT’S NICE, BLAME ME ,” MOCKcomplains Jamie Cook, between sips of a Guinness in an east London pub. If the group’s label is keen to keep an imminent Arctic Monkeys release on the QT, this may not be the best place for this very recognisable gentleman to be seen. A young woman on the next table taps away at her laptop and glances our way. While five years was already a long time for a group in their commercial prime to lie doggo, and God knows how it would have played in terms of perceptions of their future as a band, Cook concedes that Tranquility Base was nearly an Alex Turner solo album. “I thi at first, because it was quite basic – piano, vocal and no guitar – wo minds about, ‘Is this Arctic Monkeys or am I going som lse with this?’” says Cook. “And maybe at first I was a bit like that as well. It’s definitely not a guitar-heavy record, not typically what we’d do. It took a lot more thinking about.” While Cook was visiting Turner, he added subtle guitar parts to the latter’s piano demos. Matt Helders, a near neighbour in Los Angeles, insinuated drums around Turner’s own. Nick O’Malley and James Ford were flown in to contribute. Later, in May 2017, full group sessions were convened at Vox Studios on Melrose
“AL WAS IN TWO MINDS ABOUT, ‘IS THIS ARCTIC MONKEYS OR NOT?’ AND MAYBE I WAS A BIT LIKE THAT AS WELL.” JAMIE COOK Avenue, where Charlie Parker recorded his legendary Dial Sessions and Tranquility Base acquired its ghostly veins of vintage keyboards: Orchestron, Dolceola, harpsichords real and synthesized. Then in September, chasing the live ensemble sound of Pet Sounds and Dion’s Born To Be With You (“It’s one of my favourite records of all time,” says Turner. “It’s like you want to go and live there for a bit”), Turner moved proceedings to La Frette Studios on the outskirts of Paris, invited extra players including Last Shadow Puppets’ touring drummer Loren Humphrey and regular Arctic Monkeys contributor Tom Rowley, and with Ford he orchestrated as many as nine musicians recording simultaneously live to analogue tape. Still, much of what’s heard on the final album has survived from Turner’s 8-track. “Al’s been very hands-on,” says Cook. “Producing-wise, he’s been the most involved he’s ever been. We did go to La Frette, but it was always going to be difficult to do it better.” If the final result is Arctic Monkeys, it’s a long way from their roots, sneaking into shows at Sheffield’s Leadmill to see The Strokes, Libertines, The Coral, the vanguard of the guitar revival of the early ’00s. “One of the first gigs I ever went to was The D4,” says Cook, dewy-eyed at the thought of the NZ garage rockers. “They had a song called Rock’n’Roll Motherfucker, which when you’re 17 is the best song title ever. We were all at Barnsley College at the time, all probably underage or looked it. It seemed mad that the D4’d come all the way from New Zealand. They were full-on. That’s definitely the moment I said to myself, I want to do this.” The Arctic Monkeys, with the terrible name they nearly ditched for the even worse Bang Bang, gained an early reputation for cussedness that they’ve never quite shaken off. Ian McAndrew remembers an incident when their pre-Domino debut single, Five Minutes With The Arctic Monkeys, sparked a feeding frenzy.
“This whole furore was going on and we got a call from Top Of The Pops wanting to book them. I thought this was great, so exciting – an unsigned band on TOTP. And Jamie said, Nah. There wasn’t even a discussion.” “We were kind of fearless,” says Cook. “We definitely upset people. We created a lot of rules: we’re not doing that, we’re not doing that, we’re not doing that. Maybe that was a way of protecting ourselves. Putting walls up.” After their debut album became the fastest-selling in the UK ever, the group, soon to lose original bassist Andy Nicholson, were not impervious to the feelings of British music fans who saw in them a rebirth of rock values thought lost, including the “old Jam fans” they still see at the front of their gigs, mixing it with the kids. “We knew the record meant that much to people,” says Cook. “We felt a responsibility on us to not fuck it up, to not let anyone down, including us-selves. What that would mean I’m not actually sure. Maybe we haven’t figured that out yet.” Later, drummer Matt Helders will tell MOJO that the group resisted early offers to play arenas when they felt they lacked the material to provide value for the ticket price. What else did they turn down? “Advertising,” says Cook. “Anything that looked like cashing in. We wanted to keep… real. I think a lot of stuff around us felt fake. Maybe that’s what people liked, that we felt… real.”
EAL’ WAS PERHAPS NOT QUITE THE VIBE AS THE AM tour, 150 shows old, ended in Rio in 2014. “I think we’d gone as far as we could go,” says Nick O’Malley. “I had these crazy ’80s hair metal leggings on-stage. I’d worn ’em on Halloween, which I’d done dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage, the WWF wrestler. That was a big sign that it was time to have a break.” ➢ MOJO 79
The Bang Bang Club: all smiles for the foundation line-up of Arctic Monkeys in 2006 (from left) Cook, Turner, Helders and original bassist Andy Nicholson.
“I REMEMBER THINKING, THIS IS DISGUSTING, THIS IS TERRIBLE… I CAN’T WAIT TO TELL EVERYBODY!” MATT HELDERS
INSIDE THE CLOSED WORLD OF THE ARCTIC MONKEYS, EARLY DOORS. “I REMEMBER very distinctly being on a train going to meet them [in 2005],” recalls James Ford. “I had the ear buds in and the ﬁrst thing I heard was Mardy Bum. Straight away it was, Oh shit, this is a voice I haven’t heard for a long time…” Ford was ruled out as producer of the band’s debut album but returned to helm Favourite Worst Nightmare. He’s been involved in every album since, but hasn’t forgotten his probationary period. “They were a close little gang,” he says. “Even though they were a lot younger than me they were really intimidating, hard to get along with. They were closed to all outsiders at that point.” Manager Ian McAndrew had a similar experience, when introduced to the four by his then-partner Geoff Barradale: “They were quite uncommunicative, didn’t really
demonstrate ambition. It took me a long time to gain their trust.” That changed, but McAndrew maintains the group’s innate suspicion of the world had, and has, a constructive side… “They intuitively know what is and isn’t right for them. I’ve just had to learn to listen. Like that ﬁrst really big show we did – Old Trafford Cricket Ground in 2007, with Amy Winehouse, The Coral and Supergrass on the bill. It was a 25 pound ticket – far too cheap! But their mates had to be OK with it. They were the sounding board for what was ‘proper’. It’s still like that in a way.” So what’s at the root of the Monkeys’ air of autonomy? “‘Authenticity’,” quips Matt Helders, facetiously. “I think there’s something, though. It has to do with where we’re from and the honesty that comes with that. I imagine that comes out through the music, too. Sometimes it’s being stubborn about the way we do things. How we wanna record stuff or decisions we make outside of that. I think there’s just – something genuine about it.”
ONLY ONES WHO KNOW
“It was weird,” agrees Matt Helders. “Like the end of a film. Even being in the airport to fly home was a bit of a comedown. The blank diary.” The backdrop has shifted, and all of the Arctic Monkeys are back at La Frette for a photo session, a chance to acquaint MOJO with this falling-apart piece of the Belle Epoque, overgrown with superannuated synths, tape decks and patch cables, a ghost house infected by the virus of recording. In the basement lurks the early-’70s 24-track Neve desk commissioned by legendary French playboy label boss Eddie Barclay and accidentally won at auction by La Frette owner Olivier Bloch Lainé (he bid first as a joke; no one followed). On the ground floor, the airy double living-room, originally used to record string ensembles, is where two drum kits, two pianos and a hodgepodge of vintage keyboards were arrayed last autumn in pursuit of Alex Turner’s Dion fantasies. “Everyone had a go on everything,” says Helders, a brisk and cheerful kind of fellow. “I think just because it was all set up and we could all move around. It wasn’t something we did so that we could talk about it later: ‘Yeah, I played synth and Alex played drums…’” La Frette offered the opportunity to immerse in the soundworld of Tranquility Base and absorb the local myths. To Turner’s delight, Bloch Lainé revealed he had been a housemate of one of his favourite French film composers, the late François de Roubaix. At their disposal was driver Joe, who had once leapt out of his cab in central Paris to save a man being beaten bloody by several assailants. The man turned out to be a very grateful Serge Gainsbourg. It was music, music, music. And wine. And crème anglaise. “There’s not much else to do around here,” says O’Malley. “There’s a Tabac up in the village – kind of a combined bookies, bar and cigarette shop – a lot of locals shouting at the TV and us lot drinking beers. They loved us by the end – I think we spent more than anyone had ever spent in there.” While Helders will baulk at the suggestion that, with his trademark triplet fills and extra-curricular coup as part of Iggy Pop’s Josh Homme-helmed Post Pop Depression project, he could now be genuinely termed A Musician, he admits that musical questing is now part of what Arctic Monkeys do. “That feeling started with Humbug,” says the drummer/ now-keyboardist, referencing the 2009 album they mostly made with Homme at the California desert studio, Rancho De La Luna. “We got away with that – now we can do anything, be anything. We’d allowed ourselves to explore, and we just got more into the craft of making a record. Because that’s the bit that lasts forever.” But was it really possible for the band to wipe the stunning success of AM from their minds before taking their next step? “We’ve had that challenge before,” says Helders, “after the first album success where we had to just get on and make the second, or else forever be dwelling on it. But this one didn’t feel like that. I mean, maybe there’ll be fans we gained from AM that will be a bit confused now. Like, that was their first experience of the band… ‘and now they’re doing this?’” “If we were worried about that we would never have made Humbug,” says Jamie Cook. “And to disappear for a ➢
MEMO FROM TURNER THE MUSIC FLOWING THROUGH MONKEY MINDS DURING THE MAKING OF TRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL & CASINO. T THE FOOT of the twisty stairwell at La Frette studios, an early-’70s Seeburg Olympian jukebox squats. It’s full of wonderful vinyl 45s but the would-be button-pusher has to take a ﬂyer, as the selections have no names on them. “I had to note the best ones down,” says Matt Helders, pulling out his mobile phone. “(Reads) The Stones – Moonlight Mile, some French songs, some doo wop. The Great Pretender by The Platters was a big one. Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles, Mrs Robinson, Joe Le Taxi…” “The jukebox felt like the centre of the La Frette universe,” says Alex Turner, who’s provided MOJO with a list of the songs that fed into the writing of Tranquility Base and its recording. “We was always hanging out at the bottom of them stairs, because the main living room was full of tackle. There wasn’t anywhere else to hang out.” Turner has been coming to France to record since the ﬁrst Last Shadow Puppets sessions at Studio Black Box in the Pays de la Loire in summer ’07, and French pop and soundtrack music remain a key inﬂuence on Tranquility Base. Jean-Claude Vannier, the arranger on Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson, is a longterm Turner obsession. “I’ve been chasing down the Melody Nelson bass tone for, like, 10 years now,” he says, and thinks he’s ﬁnally nailed it on Tranquility’s title track, where he plays a tricksy line on a painstakingly sourced Burns Vista Sonic bass, close to the type played by Dave Richmond on the original Gainsbourg sessions. But his soundtrack composer du jour is François de Roubaix, a prodigious synthesist of early electronica, folk elements and twangy spy guitars who died in a diving accident in 1975, not yet 40. The love affair started with cinéphile Turner’s devouring of Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 Gallic noir classic Le Samouraï, starring Alain Delon. “There’s this organ arpeggio in Le Samouraï that I deﬁnitely was thinking of when I wrote those parts on American Sports,” says Turner. “I went a bit mad on those arpeggios for a bit. “There’s some other organ movie stuff on that list too. The Nino Rota piece, Toby Dammit, is the soundtrack to Fellini’s third of [Edgar Allan Poe-inspired 1968 portmanteau movie] Spirits Of The Dead. That ﬁlm was something Richard Ayoade put us onto a while ago.”
Other strands of music woven into the Tranquility tapestry include quirkily arranged soul (The Three Degrees’ version of James Gang’s Collage, from their pre-Philly debut album, is a revelation) and full-on disco (Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King’s irresistible Love Come Down) – cheesy keyboard sounds are a Turner delicacy. Then there’s a penchant for comparatively overlooked ’70s singer-songwriters, like Lindisfarne founder Alan Hull, whose 1973 album Pipe Dream weaves a mellowed but sardonic spell. “That Pipe Dream album took me years to ﬁnd,” says Turner. “When I used to live in New York, there was a guy who worked in a restaurant I used to always chat about music with. I’d tell him I was into Dion and he’d recommend t ff th b i of that.” More recent Turner raves betray a yen for the whiff of coke-y rot in super-smooth late-’70s productions, like Ne Young’s Midnight On The Bay from The Stills-Young Band’s Long May You Run album (“I kept listening to that tune loads at La Frette”), but Jean-Claude Vannier is alway the default. In fact, there was chance that Turner might get to meet the great man through La Frette owner Olivier Bloch Lainé. “Olivier kept saying he’d call him, get him over, but he never did,” says Turner. “I heard a story about him, though. A guitarist friend of mine, Benji Lysaght, played the Hollywood Bowl with him, when they played all of Melody Nelson [in 2011]. Anyway, they were rehearsing and Vannier came introducing himself, and he came over to Benji, and Benji thought he was coming over to say, ‘Just have fun, enjoy yourself, it’s going to be OK.’ But actually he said something more along the lines of, ‘If you fuck up, it’s all ruined’ (laughs).”
Feel no fret: the Monkeys, plus pianist James Righton, in full sonic overhaul mode at La Frette Studios, near Paris; (inset above) pages from Alex Turner’s notebook (“In the words of Joe Cocker, rock on in one way or another”); the studio’s lucky juke.
couple of years and then come back with AM2? I think people would have been, ‘Fuck off.’” One thing that was unavoidable after AM’s global penetration was a higher profile for individual Arctic Monkeys. Certainly the number of idiots getting in Alex Turner’s face at airports, then YouTubing the results, has been on the rise. “I haven’t noticed it in a beneficial or a negative way,” demurs Helders. “I still have to queue up for things like anyone else, I still have to buy tickets to Disneyland. I suppose it’s different for Alex. People are always trying to get a reaction out of him.” Do you get told, “You’ve changed”? “A lot of us friends joke about that,” says Helders. “But I don’t think we’ve had too much backlash, or maybe we don’t see it, or hear it. I imagine it’s happening: ‘I went to school wi’ him. He’s a dick.’ People can’t stand it, can they? “But a lot changes between the ages of 18 to 30, don’t it?” he muses. “Whether you work in a call centre or do this. In some ways you change even less. It’s like Peter Pan syndrome. You don’t necessarily have to grow up at all – until you have a kid.” Asked if there was ever a moment when rock’n’roll fun tipped over into madness, Helders recalls a night around his 21st birthday, shortly after the release of Favourite Worst Nightmare. “One thing had led to another and I was in a scenario where I threw up next to Rod Stewart’s Ferrari outside his house in Beverly Hills,” he says. “I remember thinking, This is disgusting, this is terrible… I can’t wait to tell everybody! We’ve always said that as soon as any of it starts feeling normal then you’re done. That’s when someone needs to step in.” “It’s them moments when Shirley Bassey’s got her arm around you, and Paul McCartney’s over there,” adds O’Malley, recalling the Q magazine awards in 2007. “You feel like you’re in a film, in a story. But I never felt like I was losing it, because I never felt a part of it. I felt more like… an observer.” What’s the difference between having control and losing it? “Not going and doing the same thing the next night,” says Helders. “Or, it’s knowing that I’m still capable of massive regret. That’s reassuring. That means you’re not a sociopath.” N THE BIG ROOM AT LA FRETTE, THE SITE OF by sessions for Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree and recently revi Bad Seed Warren Ellis with Marianne Faithfull, Al plays piano, hair falling over his eyes, alone in a crowd. Soon he’ll be required to don some costumes – a roll neck, a silk shirt, a white tuxe jacket – and take a stroll through the village in-house photographer Zack Michaels s away. When the band are shot lean incongruously mouldy and clapped-out Ren Turner will grab a nearby garden spade and lean o one eyebrow raised. “When you shoot th Arctic Monkeys,” notes Zack, “humour is always an important element.” But with Turner particularly, it’s not always obvious when he’s joking. When he’s playing the rock star or being the rock star. Or sometimes, how seriously he’s taking himself, his music or writing. But maybe that too is changing. In his kitchen back in east London, as he brews MOJO a Yorkshire he seems both more relaxed and more earn keener than usual to share the traffic in his nog “All throughout that last Puppets tour I was reading [David Foster Wallace’s mammoth satire] Infinite Jest, and I think that’s got a lot to do with it,” he says,
Christian Rose, Dalle, Iconicpix
Alternative perspectives: some of the literary and audio-visual inputs to the Tranquility Base ecosphere (from top) David Foster Wallace’s Inﬁnite Jest; dystopic mail from Neil Postman; 1967 Gallic noir Le Samouraï; Jean-Claude Vannier; Fellini’s Spirits Of The Dead.
brightly. “Infinite Jest blew me mind – that and George Saunders. I think it did awaken something. There’s so much in it.” Besides what can only be described as its overarching conceit, Tranquility Base contains breadcrumb trails to bigger ideas. Like the Ballardian name of Turner’s taqueria on the moon: the Information-Action Ratio. “Did you find that then?” he smiles. “Yeah, that’s from Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death – that was the other thing I read before I wrote these songs. I might have got to that from David Axelrod’s podcast, The Axe Files. That’s the other David Axelrod, the one that worked wi’ Obama – (grins slyly) I like ’em both.” Neil Postman’s 1985 study, addressing the TV age but still jarringly relevant, argues that information changed from being essentially a tool to essentially a confectionary with the invention of the telegraph. “And the Information-Action Ratio is a way of explaining that we don’t need the vast amount of information we receive, and what we do about the information we receive isn’t ver y much,” expounds Turner. “A fantastic name for a taqueria, on the roof, of a hotel and casino complex, on the lunar surface – I think we can definitely agree on that.” A related recurring theme is the fetishisation of technology. It’s bothered Turner for a while. “But I found it very difficult to write about,” he says, “because it sounds ugly. All the words connected to it are horrible… And I don’t want to fucking hear it either. “But I think I’ve got better with technology since I wrote these songs,” he adds. “I realise that I’m not always checking the news – that I’ve kind of stepped away from it a bit. Maybe sometimes I put stuff into a song to stop myself from doing it – I think I’m just realising that’s true. Like there’s a line in the middle of She Looks Like Fun about waffling on to strangers about martial arts in bars, and that was definitely something I was doing a lot of and was aware I needed to stop doing.” Why martial arts? “I like to go to the kickboxing gym and have done for ages – I got into it while I was living in New York in 2010. I was just so impressed by the people I’d met in that world. Then you get to the bar and that stuff comes out… like, times a thousand. What impressed you about… “God! I’d so not intended to get into this! (laughs) The point is I’d waffled on in bars about that too much and I needed a new topic, ’cos there’s always gonna be something I suppose… unless stop going to bars.” HERE’S A CLUB IN ST LOUIS, MISSOURI, CALLED The Pageant that Arctic Monkeys played several times betheir elevation to Stateside arenas. Next to it, a hotel e Moonrise is wholly moon-themed. In the bar, they play songs with ‘Moon’ in the title and a masive model of the Earth’s satellite looms over he roof terrace. Alex Turner concedes that he seed of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino may have germinated here, and admits to the melancholy conviction that, as soon as humans do properly populate the moon, the first thing hey’ll build is a similarly vulgar temple to consumption. It’s part of a more general sadess and ruin that creeps across the album; a ense of loss that’s in Turner’s best songs, om A Certain Romance (“There’s only music that there’s new ringtones”) to Humbug’s ornerstone and beyond; that’s in a line like “I unch my fragrance called ‘Integrity’”. “It just feels like we’re not far away from a fragrance called ‘Integrity’ being an actual thing,” Turner sighs. “It’s the sort of thing I write down and then have to check that it doesn’t already exist.” Integrity is a much-referenced part of the appeal of Arctic Monkeys, but ➢ MOJO 83
Où est le concierge?: Arctic Monkeys waiting patiently in their hotel mezzanine of the mind.
“YOU CAN DO SO MUCH WITH MUSIC. LIKE BORN TO BE WITH YOU OR HISTOIRE DE MELODY NELSON. INCREDIBLE THINGS.” ALEX TURNER
what’s the checklist? Are ideas like indie or punk or rock’n’roll connected with it? “I think they all have a connection with instinct, those kinds of terms, to me,” says Turner. “More often than not, if you don’t trust those feelings you end up worse off. Gut feeling is what rock’n’roll, punk even, is all about.” At the Brit Awards in 2014, Turner delivered a short, wellturned speech on the subject of rock’n’roll (in précis: It Will Stand) – something the event clearly needed more of – before appearing to lose faith in it, dropping his mike and leaving the stage. Asking him how he feels about it in 2018 is like poking him with knives. “I maintain that I didn’t really have another way around it,” he says, more slowly than he’s said anything in nearly three hours of interview. “Another way of justifying getting up in that room. What else was I supposed to do? To go up there and pretend that I’d been dreaming about that moment since I was a kid would have been dishonest.” In the past he’s talked of the characters he plays on-stage, or in songs. Today the word ‘character’ makes him visibly squirm. “I don’t know why I recoil,” he says. “Maybe because by saying, It’s a character, it’s like I’m saying it’s not real, or it’s not true. But that’s not the case.” Bowie isn’t lying when he’s playing an alien rock star. Actors aren’t lying when they say words they didn’t write… “Yeah… and I suppose at the beginning of this band my attitude was uncomfortable with that idea, which is quite possibly an act in itself. I think that AM, with the haircut and that whole thing, I talked a lot about characters around there. Maybe that’s why I recoiled. I’ve had the persona conversation.” How accessible is the Alex Turner of the first album to him now? “Not at all really. (Pauses, squints, as if weighing the truth of this) They’re reissuing the first album in the US. Now, we never put the lyrics on the sleeve of the first album. I don’t fucking know why not, but it might have had something to do with being contrary at every available opportunity. But they’re gonna put the lyrics in the reissue, which meant I had to read through them, and that’s why I can tell you with confidence that I don’t have access to that person. But it did… amuse me. A trip down memory lane.”
Sometimes a short memory can be a boon to an artist – otherwise the sheer numbers shifted of AM’s deft meld of rock and R&B swagger (over a million on both sides of the Atlantic, after the diminishing returns of Humbug and Suck It And See) would be hard to ignore. Did Turner really not hear voices telling him to emulate it? “I think I probably did but my instincts were stronger,” he says. “I just have no idea how I would get back there to do that again. It seems so far away. It doesn’t seem possible. This is the only thing I could have done.” More than ever, there’s pressure on name artists to homogenise, file off their eccentricities to conform to a similar radio/streaming pop-dance-rock sound. You see bands old enough to know better falling into it – the thing of having to ‘compete’. “I don’t subscribe to that,” says Turner. “The more you can ignore the idea of competition, the idea of wanting to ‘win’ this thing, the better for your creativity. What I’m excited about is that you can do so much with music. Like Born To Be With You or Histoire De Melody Nelson. I mean, incredible things.” What’s the hardest part of making a record? “Accepting that you’ll never get close enough to Dion.” In 2007 Turner expressed dismay at the idea that Arctic Monkeys might make 12 or 13 albums. Maybe 12 or 13 albums like the first two, of what Turner now routinely describes as “chip shop rock’n’roll”, looked a stretch. Does an album like Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, with its Year Zero sonic overhaul and laissez-faire take on band roles and audience expectations, make that tally more likely? Does it mean Arctic Monkeys can now make any kind of record? Alex Turner hopes so. “It still seems like a large number, though,” he ponders. “I was watching a Joe Cocker documentary the other day, and he released, like 32 albums. That’s a lot. Maybe we’ve got a few more in us but maybe I need to take a detour or something. I need to have a Broadway period.” Turner strokes his bearded chin, imagining the critical response to this latest outrageous manifestation of Alex Turner hubris. “‘He’s done a play!’ I can just see me on BBC Breakfast talking about me play… in a fleece.” It would be his most extraordinary character yet. M
YOUR GUIDE TO THE MONTH’S BEST MUSIC. EDITED BY JENNY BULLEY
ALBUMS s Eleanor Friedberger turns Terpsichore sJon Hopkins’ utopian visions sRy Cooder’s blithe spirit sFatoumata Diawara is a knockout sPlus, Arctic Monkeys in space, another Iceage, the return of Françoise Hardy, Magic Numbers, Leon Bridges, Beach House, Bombino, Courtney Barnett, Roger Daltrey and more.
100 REISSUES sFree your mind with Ornette Coleman sFill your boots with Neil Young’s Archive sMetallica’s Garage Days revisited sPlus, Chet Baker, The Who, Bunny Lee, Bark Psychosis, Steve Miller, Wire and more.
112 BOOKS sPaul Simon’s almost autobiography. Plus, Moby Grape, Shirley Collins, Jimi Hendrix, UK record shops and more.
SCREEN sThe Slits tell their story. Plus, The Doors at the Isle Of Wight Festival, The Parkinsons’ not-quite rock‘n’roll legend and more.
116 LIVES sBack from The Dead: Phil and Bob in New York’s Radio City sIn Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, Charlotte Gainsbourg isn’t afraid.
“Still remarkable is the striking individuality of the voices in the abandon.” DAVID FRICKE GOES FREEFORM, REISSUES P100
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
Roots manoeuvre Fourth solo album from resting Fiery Furnace sees formidable change of direction, says Victoria Segal. Illustration by Jane Sanders.
★★★★★ Rebound FRENCHKISS. CD/DL/LP
t the end of 2016, in retreat from the US election’s grim realities and keen to keep moving after touring her third solo album, New View, Eleanor Friedberger travelled to Athens, Greece. The city was largely new to her, although, with a Greek-American mother, the country was not. Shopkeepers, convinced by her perfect accent and “relatively Greek” looks, talked to her as if she were a resident, but she still didn’t feel entirely at ease. “Going somewhere where the alphabet is different really affects you” she tells MOJO. “Somewhere you can’t immediately read a sign, you feel like you’re on another planet.” That sense of disconnection, of distance, of signs that are hard to read, runs deep through Rebound, her fourth album since she and her brother Matthew froze The Fiery Furnaces’ floridly rococo indie experiments in 2011. Most of Rebound’s songs read as if they are in a different alphabet, little emotional and musical accents subtly shifting the tone and meaning, familiar things – is that a love song? A heartbroken lament? – pitched up or down by musical circumflexes and lyrical cedillas. There is not much here (songwriting aside) that feels solid: relationships are slippery, communication is treacherous, language crumples like a bad ankle the second you put any weight on it. It’s an alienated mood emphasised by Friedberger’s brilliantly effective shift away from the homegrown classic rock that has marked much of her solo work, and into exotic ’80s synthesizers and programmed drums. New View was introduced by He Didn’t Mention His Mother, a warm, woody knock on Heaven’s door accompanied by a video of Friedberger and her band working and playing at a farm in upstate New York, an ungroomed domestic scene of dogs and kitchens and button-down shirts. Rebound’s first release, in contrast, was the obsessive pulse of In Between Stars, a song that seemed to be about infatuation and its ability to dissolve rational thought. The video showed Friedberger dancing alone, distorted by bright blurry waves of TV static, flesh-and-blood woman j turning into sci-fi blur. That retro-futurist chill is, however, deceptive: Rebound is still gloriously human to the touch. The album was named after the afterhours goth disco in Athens that sparked her vision for these songs – fittingly, she recorded it largely alone on a Casio keyboard before
KEY TRACKS ● ● ●
Everything It’s Hard Are We Good?
“ REBOUND ’S FRACTURED NARRATIVES FEEL INSULATED FROM THE WORLD BUT NEVER ISOLATED, NEVER INDULGENT.”
producer Clemens Knieper joined her. Rebound’s fractured narratives feel insulated from the world, but never isolated, never indulgent: instead, Friedberger explores everyday loneliness and disquiet. A phone number in a pocket is erased in the washing machine. A long-distance letter fraught with history offers no comfort, just “yak yak yak”. Even a dog barks in the wrong language. Sometimes, this dislocation can feel pleasantly dreamy – the blanketing drone of Nice To Be Nowhere, for example, is a romance in hopeless limbo, Move Closer covered by Suicide. Other times, it stings. In the opening My Jesus Phase – a wander in the wilderness? – Friedberg sits in the Galaxy Bar in Athens, one of the concrete locations map-pinned across this record. Her thoughts, though, are harder to chart. Amid spidery keyboards, her sentences tangle themselves up, drift and fade: “How will I… How will he find me?” she asks. The churchy thrum of Are We Good? backs a richly allusive tour-travelogue, where Friedberger struggles with more unsatisfactory human contact. “I proposed to a woman for a man last night,” the song opens, “She said, ‘Yes’, they cried and we kissed.” Here’s connection – but it’s at one strange, dispiriting remove. Elsewhere, words are robotic, unyielding, shutting Friedberger out: “How’s your French? It’s bad, none/ How’s your Swedish? It’s bad, none.” In the end, she’s reduced to asking the title question repeatedly, a quest for reassurance that never comes. There’s more thwarted intimacy on The Letter, a sweet skipping shuffle through pages from a long-distance lover, although the gap isn’t just literal: “The opposite of what he thought he thought/The opposite of what she wanted.” The well-oiled mechanised pop of It’s Hard, meanwhile, is another ill-fated attempt to put down roots. It unfolds in the club Rebound –“where time stands still/It’s like ’82 or ’83/Or ’85, it’s hard to tell”, and the music “sounds familiar but it’s sure not The Cure”. It’s another ersatz experience on a record of almosts, not-quites. Rebound, though, hits every target. Friedberger’s skill is to make this vague emotional terrain emotionally vivid, with paint-like splashes of synths and guitars brightening In Between Stars and The Letter; with her impeccable phrasing on Everything or My Jesus Phase. Rule Of Action initially feels like a kind of flattened, escaloped Stereolab, but it soon pops back into fabulous 3D, thanks to the interlacing vocals, the moth-light jazzy shuffle, the spiky keyboard wiring. There’s also sharp glints of hope: the gorgeous Make Me A Song sounds like a threat – “I could love you more” – but it’s a demand to create something meaningful and lasting: “Vibrate, resonate”. Most unabashed of all is Everything, a wise, funny statement of defiance, desire and self-worth that brings A Room Of One’s Own and Patti Smith’s M Train together at last as Friedberger intones with killer timing, “A house, a chair and a rug/That’s everything… I mean two houses please.” As Friedberger’s finest solo album to date, Rebound deserves such rewards. For all its passing ships, its glancing blows, it feels full to the brim – with experience, with emotion, with ideas. Supple, elastic, and in forward motion, it loses nothing in translation. Vibrate, resonate. FIERY ONE ON GREECE, ELEANOR TALKS! THE ALIENATION AND LONELINESS.
★★★ Personne d’Autre PARLOPHONE. CD/DL/LP
Belly Eleanor Friedberger: having fun, seriously.
“It was the hardest time I ever had.” Eleanor Friedberger speaks to Victoria Segal. You said you wanted to keep moving after touring New View in 2016 – what made you feel like that? “It’s a sad thing about getting older – I like what I do more than I ever have but I feel that touring the way I do which is very… lo-fi (laughs), is really taxing. I have this adrenalin which keeps me going and I don’t want it to stop. It’s probably a little bit unhealthy. I was feeling that way towards the end of 2016 and it was so marked because of the election in the US. The holidays come and everything shuts down, too, and I was like, I cannot let that happen, I have to make a plan to do something really drastic and big, which for me was – I’m going to go to Greece! I’m going take Greek lessons! And I’m going to try to write and not sit around and relax… which is what I might have been inclined to do a few years ago. I had a sense of urgency I didn’t have before. I think it comes with getting older and wanting to do as much as possible.” It’s often said that economically fragile places are creatively fertile – was that true of Athens? “For me it was exciting to be in a place where ‘DIY’ is an understatement. While I was there I assembled a Greek band with the help of some friends and we played in this abandoned hotel right in the centre of Athens. There’s no heat, there’s only one toilet, they have this makeshift bar, pay what you want – suggested donation two euros. I played to a thousand people, which is more people than I’ve ever played to at one of my solo gigs. It was amazing, it felt dangerous! That kind of thing would never happen in New York.” Back home, was it difficult to readjust to working? “It was the hardest time I ever had. I was also challenging myself – I bought this Casio keyboard and I started writing songs without lyrics in mind, which is something I never normally do. I had a handful of songs I really liked and it was a real struggle to insert lyrics. I was listening to Stereolab and I was really enjoying that – so many of the lyrics I just can’t understand, half are in French, half in English. I was like, What if I just sound like I’m singing in another language? I thought about doing that for a few days. There were also songs where I knew I wanted to write about something in particular – I haven’t done that much in the past. It’s Hard is about going to this nightclub [in Athens] called Rebound. On Everything, I wanted to poke fun at myself but also take myself very seriously, which is a hard thing to pull off. It’s about not wanting to compromise. I hope women can relate to that song.” There are a lot of communication breakdowns on Rebound – was that deliberate? “I wanted to make an album that sounds like being alone, that sounds like feeling alienated, that sounds like I don’t know where I belong. To me it’s a sad record, you know. With my previous records, people were like, ‘It’s a break up album!’ And I’m like, It’s not a fucking break-up album! It’s just so much more complicated than that.”
★★★ DOVE BELLY TOURING. CD/DL/LP
’90s alt-rock faves’ first album since 1995. Neither feud nor tragedy finished off Belly, just tourshredded friendships in the post-Nirvana era of alt-rock crossover and high expectations. Those factors no longer apply, but neither does a typical band dynamic – all four original members are here but their far-flung addresses mean DOVE (capital letters suggesting more than just the bird of peace) was assembled by e-mail. Perhaps that explains a seamless, burnished sound shorn of ‘alt’ spark or tension. Maybe they wanted to sound ‘grown up’. Either way, Belly linchpin Tanya Donelly’s nuanced, bittersweet inclinations rule, and the choruses lift off. Upbeat episodes (Shiny One; Stars Align) are outweighed by melancholic drama, from stripped ballads (Heartstrings; Suffer The Fools) to FM-radio flamer Quicksand. Dominated by lyrical references to dependence, trust and the threat to both, DOVE spans the benefits and risks of looking back and moving on. Martin Aston
What you’d expect fro doyenne of French po Atmospherically and musically, Françoise Hardy’s followup to 2013’s L’Amour Fou doesn’t surprise. Reassuringly autumnal, it drifts by with the grace of a soaring kite. The surprise is that Personne d’Autre exists. Hospitalisations over the past few years and the 2015 publication of her book Avis Non Autorisés… suggested music had taken a back seat. The album’s standouts are the subtly orchestrated Quel Dommage (with words by Hardy) and the ebbing-flowing Le Large, written by modern chanson auteur La Grande Sophie. Trois Petits Tours nods to the country music she liked as a teenager. Hardy was stimulated to record again after hearing Sleep, by Finnish band Poets Of The Fall, but unfortunately, its makeover as Dors Mon Ange here lacks impact. In Avis Non Autorisés…, she raged at the ageing process and expressed support for right-wing politicians. It sounds as if her anger has subsided. Kieron Tyler
★★★★ Love Is Dead VIRGIN. CD/DL/LP
Glaswegian trio built o apparent typo reach f superstardom. It’s a pretty novel break-up ditty that laments the fact that you and your amour’s names will now never be scrawled on bathroom walls, but that’s the approach of Graffiti, one of many surefooted, instantly memorable songs on Chvrches’ third album Love Is Dead. On Get Out, Deliverance and Never Say Die, frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s voice is as perfectly pop as Madonna’s, but rather more malleable, while bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty continue to fashion all kinds of euphoric or gently bittersweet synth hooks. With Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia) coproducing nine of the album’s 13 tracks, The National’s Matt Berninger duetting on My Enemy, and pretty much every tune here (save for stark piano and treated-dialogue segue ii)
★★★ Beyondless MATADOR. CD/DL/LP
Copenhagen punks p limits on fourth album
Given they were in their late teens when they released 2011 debut New Brigade, it would be worrying if Iceage hadn’t managed to rethink themselves a bit since then. The blowsy Bad Seeds
Iceage: no chill out.
roll of 2014’s Plowing Into The Field Of Love showed the Danish quartet starting to split their punk-scene skins, but Beyondless confirms a startling evolution, fins to flight at chaotic time-lapse speed. Their nails-into-concrete intensity remains locked into the DNA of Hurrah and Take It All – not least because of Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s ragged nihilist drawl – but the presence of horns and Sky Ferreira on Pain Killer, the staggering afterhours cabaret of Showtime, or The Day The Music Dies’ unexpected Britpop influence shows them bursting into new forms. As with any redevelopment, it’s often a mess, but to witness the process is genuinely exhilarating. Victoria Segal
Neil Young + Promise Of The Real
★★★ Paradox REPRISE. CD/DL/LP
The soundtrack to Dar Hannah’s eco-warrior/ concert movie. The subject of alternately patronising or dismissive reviews, Daryl Hannah’s Paradox movie harks back to Bob Dylan’s Renaldo & Clara, a mash-up of concert footage, ad-libbed dramatic interludes and documentary. Young’s soundtrack to his partner’s film is similarly random, but when it hits the right mark, it too dazzles. There are few complete songs – a solo organ performance of Pocahontas, Willie Nelson making a campfire cameo for Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground – but even without bigger context there are flashes of brilliance, such as the 10-minute live Cowgirl Jam with Promise Of The Real. Other snippets show songs such as Peace Trail are maturing nicely in the live crucible, while the stoned mumbling of The Turtles’ Happy Together offers a rare glimpse of Young actually having a laugh. Fascinating, like a whole Dylan Bootleg Series in one disc. Andy Fyfe
screaming ‘single!’, the sense that Chvrches are about to go St Peter’s Basilica-sized is inescapable. James McNair
Breathe deep: Jon Hopkins prepares for a psychedelic journey.
Another Green World Organic techno eminence in search of a better place. By Andrew Male.
★★★★ Singularity DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
WE ARE living through strange days, caught between fears of chaos and apocalypse whilst simultaneously buoyed by glimpses of brighter futures. In such dissident times, it makes sense that artists are playing with ideas of utopia. Recent albums by Björk and David Byrne, plus forthcoming releases by Kamasi Washington and Janelle Monáe, all ponder imaginary places of perfection, of escape from present day horrors. We can now add Singularity to that commendable list, a sonic realisation of a better world, conceived in the depths of psychedelic experimentation. The roots of Singularity’s world-view began in Hopkins’ 2013 breakthrough LP, Immunity. Although the Surrey-born producer has been making music since 1997, both as solo artist, film music composer and producer with the
ikes of Brian Eno, Coldplay and King Creosote, it wasn’t until mmunity that he arrived at a sound that felt fully immersive and definable, its synthesis of digital and analogue techniques emulating the space between the physical and the ethereal, the exterior and the interior. Conceived during a year off in California “exploring psychedelic states”, Singularity is also informed by the political chaos of 2016, and Hopkins’ attempts to combat the gloom, including Tibetan Tummo meditation and the Wim Hof breathing technique. Meticulously constructed, yet with melodies and rhythms born out of improvisation, it’s an album of two halves, moving from euphoric collapse to an uncertain contentment. For the first half of the record, ecstatic passages of bright release are bracketed by spaces of dissonance and desolation. The opening title track pushes a naive house melody into distortion and breakdown, led by a sub-bass rumble sampled from a thunderstorm outside Hopkins’ studio window. Recent single
plenty of characters to worry about here, but all’s not necessarily lost. Dive takes what could even be a hopeful turn, with the phrase “Lost all illusion.” There’s an acceptance here, but it’s hard won. Chris Nelson
Black Moth Super Rainbow
BELLA UNION. CD/DL/LP/MC
Dreamy duo head back into the darkness. The blankets of noise Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally wrap listeners in are so big and woolly they’ve been known to obscure their songs’ meaning. Words become more contours in the folds, more enveloping elements next to massive guitar distortion and molasses-y snare. Pay No Mind plays appealingly like The Jesus And Mary Chain slowed to 16 rpm. Then, just as you’re settling into drowsy twilight, out of nowhere, a lyric smacks like citrus on the tongue. Drunk In LA is another sheet of sound until Legrand admits, “I am loving losing life,” and you realise the singer’s on so much more than a bender. There are
stuck to his guns, meaning Panic Blooms generates fond memories of a recent past. While fragmentary doodles Aerosol Weather and One More Ear make little impression, the elegant Permanent Hole and almostbaroque album closer Mr No One make the case for still casting ears in this direction. Hopefully, the wilful Fec will continue carrying this particular torch. Kieron Tyler
Panic Blooms RAD CULT. CD/DL/LP
Dogged Pennsylvania sticks with what he kn What Black Moth Super Rainbow deal in has been bracketed as chillwave or hypnagogic pop. It’s 15 years since Tom Fec, aka Tobacco, began using BMSR as his prime musical vehicle, and Panic Blooms is the guise’s sixth album. The vision has remained consistent: vocodered vocals, wobbly synths, mushy percussion, random sonic interjections, and songs sounding as if they could fall apart at any moment – with fuzziness and distance cloaking the whole. Where others have moved on, Fec has
★★★★ As Long As I Have You POLYDOR. CD/DL/LP
The voice of The Who, with Townshend on guitar and Dave Eringa producing. Last month’s MOJO cover story charted As Long As I Have You’s lengthy gestation. The
Emerald Rush, with its corroded Strings Of Life keyboards and ghostly female vocals, recognises the transcendent joy in these patterns of collapse and recovery, while the twisted interior rhythms on Neon Pattern Drum suggest Hopkins might well be cranking this out on some fritzing Heath Robinson contraption of valves, flywheels and wires. His sense of sonic space lends these tracks an extra dimension, so that by the time we arrive at triumphal techno behemoth Everything Connected, the album’s rolling sense of tactile 3D space is enough to summon up images of shaking club walls, and crumbling plaster. Ironically, the second half feels brighter, more organic, yet somehow less satisfying. In the choral ambience of Feel First Life, the playful, Plone-like melodies of Luminous Beings and the nature sounds and piano melody of album closer Recovery, Hopkins is moving to a purer space, the imagined karmic utopia of his psychedelic travelling. Yet, and perhaps this is the point, there is something in Singularity that makes us want to travel back into the ruins and begin the journey again.
resulting album is a mainly R&B/soul covers record, on which Rog strives not only to restate his hegemony as bluesrooted rock vocal nabob but to show – as on the cracked Southern soul of Boz Scaggs’ I’ve Got Your Love and the impressive, self-penned Certified Rose – how age and experience have added even greater grain and texture to his pipes. Muscular adaptations of Stephen Stills’ How Far and Parliament’s Get On Out Of The Rain stray into ’70s Who territory, with stirring arrangements and hot Townshend licks, while his courageous tilt at Nick Cave piano ballad Into My Arms roils with heartache that can’t be faked. Now a new Who record, please. Pat Gilbert
Vive La Void
synth-led Germanic thing, Yamada’s vaporous vocals low enough in the mix that they’re almost wordless, often just another texture in the motorik matrix. While a little slavish in worship of her influences, these seven icy nearinstrumentals conjure a gripping imaginary thriller in the mind, their glacial electronic melodies underpinned by taut rhythms, like early Human League jamming with Can. Among the cold-blooded tracks, it’s the more infernal likes of Death Money, with its woozy synths, raspy slither and urgent pulse, or the paranoid chill of Devil (Yamada chanting “I saw the devil in a violent dream” over tom-tom rumble) that really quicken the pulse. The kosmische filigrees within the polar ambience of closer Atlantis are also a high-point. Stevie Chick
★★★ Vive La Void SACRED BONES. CD/DL/LP
Moon Duo side-project delivers cold-blooded Kraut-synth vignettes. One half of West Coast neopsychedelicists Moon Duo, keyboardist Sanae Yamada’s first album as Vive La Void is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a
Ry Cooder: dreaming on.
Spirit in the dark A part-satirical critique of moral decline in the US and beyond. By James McNair.
★★★★ The Prodigal Son FANTASY/CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL. CD/DL/LP
IN THE accompanying text for The Prodigal Son, Ry Cooder’s first solo album in six years, New Orleans writer Tom Piazza imagines stumbling across Ry in a clapboard church somewhere between Nashville and Knoxville.
The Dean Ween Group
★★★ Rock 2 SCHNITZEL. CD/LP
Self-explanatory seco outing for Ween axem Ultra-prolific grunge-era stoner satirists Ween disbanded in 2012, after wayward singer Gene Ween (aka Aaron Freeman) quit to sort out a drugs/alcohol problem. In between one-off reunions, his spiritual ‘bro’, guitarist Dean (né Mickey Melchiondo) built a studio in Belmar, New Jersey, and now the torrent of puerile pastiche flows afresh, backed by the old Ween touring combo. On paper, the repertoire leans a tad heavily on covers and instrumentals this time. However, Gerry & The Pacemakers’ Merseybeat weepie Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying is ingeniously revamped as a goofy Stones, lunar-flipped country-rocker, and vocalfree Sunset Over Belmar showcases Melchiondo’s secret weapon – P-Funk axeman Michael Hampton,
“I’m not religious”, Cooder tells Piazza as they perch on rough-hewn wooden pews, “but there s some kind of reverence mood that takes hold when you play these songs.” Secular though its vantage point ultimately is, this album is not without a certain questing, spiritual dimension. It sees Cooder pay the utmost respect to towering gospel and blues milestones by the Pilgrim Fathers and The Stanley Brothers, among others. There are also some fine new Cooder story-songs in which his righteous anger is leavened with dry humour and wonderfully effervescent grooves. Cooder’s magnificent way with bottleneck on steel is often in evidence, while his son Joachim’s percussion-rich soundscapes
aka Kidd Funkadelic, who still shreds like a mutha. Throw in growling metallic monster Yellow Pontiac (“You are what you eat, and the car that you drive… that ugly-ass yellow fuckin’ Pontiac”), and it’s a must for Ween faith-keepers. Andrew Perry
★★★★ Welcome Strangers
rural Perthshire. While there’s a real warmth in their music – the richness of cello or mellotron reflected back by the deep-grained, burnished voices of Emily Scott and Rob St John – there’s also a little chill around the edges, lurking in the tape loops under Mud And Flame or the awl-like guitar motif whittling away at Get Back Down. Old and new, sweet and sharp, Welcome Strangers holds you in an ambiguous, but utterly enchanting, embrace. Victoria Segal
Scottish quartet throw open the doors on exp second album.
With their first album, 2016’s Swell To Great, Modern Studies made a venerable Victorian harmonium their musical familiar, a very tangible way of linking the folkloric past to their experimental pop present. This second album, Welcome Strangers, widens the scope, not only welcoming in friends they haven’t met yet but deepening their sound with brass, strings and analogue synths, resulting in songs that suggest a muddy-hemmed Jim O’Rourke lost in a field in
★★★★ Deafman Glance DEAD OCEANS. CD/DL/LP
Questing guitar maest goes further out – wit jazz flute! A contrarian spirit, Ryley Walker’s desire to subvert his reputation – as a prodigious, folkish singer-songwriter pitched somewhere between Bert Jansch and John Martyn – is never quite as effective as he perhaps hopes. Solo album number four comes couched in a lot of conceptual rhetoric
with looped and sampled elements help contemporise his dad’s inherently rootsy sound. “Joachim’s Orwellian march of the doomed showed the way”, Cooder has said of the ghostly, treated-horns dialogue that underpins his ominous reading of Blind Willie Johnson’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine, and his son has one co-write credit and several co-arrangement credits here. Shrinking Man’s lightly worn tale of senior-citizen weight-loss decries the fashion industry’s use of child labour and has a gnarly, utterly joyous backbeat; in Gentrification, a wry, Paul Simon-like story of an inner-city neighbourhood spooked by the coming of “the Google men”, one individual’s response to the news that his building has just been bought by Johnny Depp is simply: “Who?” Cooder’s vocal performances – all one-take affairs we are told – are wonderful throughout, and never more so than on his cover of Alfred Reed’s spirited take-down of certain wealthy Christians’ consumerism, You Must Unload. But the most poignant song here is another Cooder original, Jesus And Woody. Built on tender acoustic guitar figures, and partimprovised in the studio on the day the father of Cooder’s daughter-in-law died, it finds Christ seeking musical and spiritual consolation from an American folk hero: “So sing me a song about this land is your land/And fascists bound to lose/You were a dreamer Mr Guthrie/And I was a dreamer too.” Ultimately, The Prodigal Son exhorts us to shape up in the humanitarian department, with Cooder questioning the moral compass of certain wealthy believers and would-be ethnic cleansers. His cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s rousing gospel entreaty Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right acts as a pretty good synopsis.
(“I was trying to make an anti-folk record”), and features passages of tinkling, diffuse improvisation, most notably on the itchy reverie that begins Can’t Ask Why. At heart, though, Deafman Glance is a superbly crafted reiteration of Walker’s aesthetic, with the Chicago scene influences of 2016’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung given greater prominence. Nate Lepine’s flute is a strong presence throughout, in songs whose nimbleness and intricacy often recall the post-rock chamber music of Jim O’Rourke, another Chicagoan who maintains a fine balance between classicism and innovation: check, especially, the ornate jazz-prog of Telluride Speed. John Mulvey
★★★ H.P.A.C. MYSTIC SONS. DL/LP
Soul-tronic salvation from Brit-Nigerian winner of 2016 Green Man ‘Rising’ competition. Tony Njoku cites Anohni, Björk and Arca as inspirations but he evokes an Afro-futurist James Blake, his blissful
undulations and falsetto vocal scorched by darkened synth tones and agitated rhythm. He’s likely conscious of Burial and Mulatu Astatke, too. H.P.A.C. stands for ‘hyper pink anxiety complex’ and, as on 2015 debut In Greyscale, Njoku’s childhood in a violence-ridden Lagos boarding school and subsequent search for peace is the backdrop for these taut meditations. Feeling Weightless is true to its title, but Remain Calm (describing a panic-attack response) builds ominous synth-drone waves to a piercing climax. Drifting Off In A Care Powered Balloon sits in between those two extremes, simultaneously becalmed and uneasy, full of space and dread, as if the only way to escape the perils on earth is to gaze at the stars. Martin Aston
Just Like A Summer Cloud sit nicely against the hopeful balladry of A Lifeboat. Still in their early twenties, the duo is primed for great, great things. Andy Fyfe
Lake Street Dive
★★★ Free Yourself Up
★★★★ Driving Friend RTE 8. CD/DL/LP
Californian musical journeyman goes from folk to rock to Americana. Two years ago, Johnny Irion put together a band, US Elevator, to play the rock songs that he’d been neglecting since he partnered with Sarah Lee Guthrie and made five folk albums. During a break in recording that band’s self-titled debut, he started writing the songs that led to this album, recording them on a 24-track vintage Studer tape machine. Not so much American rock, more Americana – 10 engaging songs played with a band that includes Neal Casal and members of the Dawes, Wilco and Mother Hips. Some of them played a part in US Elevator, so it’s no surprise to hear some of that album’s Burritos, Beatles and Laurel Canyon moments on this album too (Palm Springs; Salvage The Day; Angels Fly). Fine mid-tempo country-rock with a tinge of nostalgia and a sense of summer. Sylvie Simmons
Skilful performances ignite a strong set of ’70s-influenced soul-pop. Few singers sound happier voicing frustration than Rachael Price. The frontwoman of Massachusetts quartet Lake Street Dive exudes breeziness and grit at every turn. She has an especially agile voice, able to navigate tricky phrases the way a race-car driver hugs a curve. As always, the music on LSD’s sixth studio album follows suit, bouncing with honed ’70s pop-soul melodies buoyed by fleet instrumentation. At the same time, the irked lyrics make sharp observations about sexual politics (Dude), the toil of self-improvement (Shame Shame Shame) and the loneliness of the inner life (Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts). The group’s double-messages coalesce most finely on the few occasions they pause for ballads, like the aching I Can Change. But the nostalgic melodicism, and relentless pep, of the rest will thrill even those who miss what lies below. Jim Farber
★★★ Innerland SONIC CATHEDRAL. CD/LP/DL
Engineers’ prime-mov deftly creates site-spe pictures-in-sound. The first solo album from Engineers main man Mark Peters attracted attention as a limited-edition cassette last December, so this leap to widespread availability with extra tracks is welcome. Elements of what he is known for bleed through: the fogginess inherent to Engineers’ post-shoegazing stance, the glistening drift brought by their sometime keyboard player Ulrich Schnauss, also a past collaborator with Peters. Yet Innerland speaks its own language. Not in words, as it’s all-instrumental, but through eight focused tracks bringing to mind the nonvocal aspects of Eno’s Another Green World, Vini Reilly at his most hard-edged, and midperiod Popul Vuh. Whatever the touchstones, this aural map of north and north-west England is defined by an angularity which can only have evolved from a background in a band: May Mill drives forward, album opener Twenty Bridges rocks. Impressionistic; forceful too. Kieron Tyler
★★★★ The Siren’s Song NEW WEST. CD/DL/LP
Canadian cousins com down from the hills fo Tweedy-helmed secon Second cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum have known each other all their lives, growing up in isolated rural Saskatchewan. Their easy familiarity is evident throughout The Siren’s Song, with its beautiful mix of Kacy’s crystalline vocals and Clayton’s inventive, deepgroove country guitar. Moving away from the acoustic duo sound of their debut, Strange Country, the addition of a rhythm section adds warmth and depth, something producer Jeff Tweedy knows plenty about. ’60s folk revival and gothic cosmic country join together seamlessly, as if The Seekers were singing Nick Cave’s songs instead of the other way around. The quiet domestic desperation of deceptively jaunty The Light Of Day and the sunny, counLake Street Dive, with trypolitan vibes of agile singer Rachael Price (second left): grit and relentless pep.
★★★★ Last Man Standing LEGACY RECORDINGS. CD/DL/LP
Van Morrison And Joey DeFrancesco
★★★★ Kacy & Clayton
Van Morrison with Hammond organist and trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco (and the latter’s band) in a thrilling club jazz setting. Morrison, clearly enthused by DeFrancesco’s vibrant feel for playing the B3, elevates his game on a set weighted equally between blues standards and visits to his own back catalogue. All Saints Day from Morrison’s 1991 Hymns To The Silence is a lively reworking, with blasts of horns and choppy keys wedded to Morrison’s gruff, soulful vocal. Titus Turner via Ray Charles’s Sticks And Stones is an ebullient swing instructed by Jimmy Smith and the Blue Note school; Memphis Slim’s Every Day I Have The Blues and Guitar Slim’s The Things I Used To Do could be live at the Flamingo. Lois Wilson
You’re Driving Me Crazy SONY LEGACY. CD/DL/LP
Blues/jazz covers follow up to 2017’s Roll With The Punches and Versatile. His thirty-ninth album, and his third in seven months, places
At age 85, Willie’s writi and singing on peak f Following last year’s God’s Problem Child, Willie has released his second great album in a row, each track co-written with producer Buddy Cannon. It’s never morbid, but mortality is a running theme. Girded with a New Orleans second line rhythm, the title track pays tribute to late pals Waylon and Merle,
with the singer wryly ruminating about his own demise: “I don’t wanna be the last man standing/On second thought maybe I do.” In Bad Breath, one of the funnier examples of country cornballery, Willie sings “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.” But the album’s masterpiece is Something You Get Through, one of the greatest songs about loss ever written: “It’s not something you get over/But it’s something you get through.” Be assured, the tears the song yields are cathartic. Michael Simmons
★★★★ V. THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
First album in five yea from San Francisco-rai Portland-resident psy
Set to a motorik rhythm, opener Eclipse sets things off in fine style, fast and high with a relaxed feel and a long, liquid guitar solo. But the fifth Wooden Shjips album soon throttles to present a group confident and relaxed in what they’re doing. Most songs are between six and seven minutes long, relying on a basic groove that allows the musicians to relax and stretch out. All is texture and mood, with synthesizers and acoustic guitar augmenting the customary acidic, SFstyle psych guitar patch. The vocals are high, and buried in the overall mix. Backwards guitars vie with the synths to create a hazy, upbeat feel on songs like the melodic Already Gone and raw first single Staring At The Sun. V. creates a sense of space, both mental and physical, as well as the idea of an alternate perception that is the calling card of West Coast psychedelia. Jon Savage
Fatoumata Diawara: she’s got something to say.
Fighting talk With her second album, Mali’s ‘most likely to’ delivers a knockout blow. By David Hutcheon.
★★★★ Fenfo WAGRAM/MONTUNO. CD/DL/LP
IN 2011, when Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara released her debut, Fatou on World Circuit, there was no question that a significant talent
had landed. Prior to that, she was an actor, a street-theatre performer and part of Oumou Sangaré’s band. Even before anybody had heard of her, she had a CV that suggested quality and charisma. Critics, this one included, fell over themselves to declare that a new African star would be among us very shortly. But then came… Well, not quite nothing, but a semi-silence as Diawara put ascendancy on hold. She pulled together an all-star session protesting Islamist activity in Mali; she recorded a low-key duet album with the Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca; she appeared with Songhoy Blues, David Crosby and Africa Express; she guested on albums by Bobby Womack and the French superstar Matthieu Chedid (who
a roughness and freewheeling lack of structure to Imajghane that other bands might edit out, and Moctar’s instinctive feel for reggae comes through on several tracks – as does his love of apparently stumbling over a groove and then letting it take him wherever it wants. David Hutcheon
The Saharan axe hero who retains his rough edges. Of all the second-generation Tamasheq bluesmen, Omara Moctar seems the least beholden to the strictures his peers have applied to their music to keep it authentic. Perhaps that’s due to his Niger upbringing (rather than further north in the Sahara, where most of the internationally known bands originated) but it does put clear blue water between this fifth official Bombino album and Tinariwen et al. The apple doesn’t fall too far, of course, and well-versed doubters are entitled to wonder if they haven’t already amassed a few tracks called Midiwan from the Tuareg stable. However, there’s
resembles a fragment of Syd Barrett’s cracked eggshell brain, spare and tranquil as Young Marble Giants; Ducks’ atonal vocal, needling guitar and giddy rhythm is infuriating and yet uncannily gorgeous. Twilight Zone-esque eeriness and sampled frogs expand the necromancy, while Le Bon’s more accessible Gallic/Gaelic poptones surface in Real Outside. How she continues to turn apparent whimsy into profundity borders on the miraculous. Martin Aston
DRAG CITY. CD/DL/LP/MC
Second uninhibited ps trip from Welsh-Ameri alliance.
Drinks aren’t as far out as Cate Le Bon’s semiimprovised sideline BANANA but her partnership with Tim ‘White Fence’ Presley is still more freeform than either’s solo work. Recorded in remote St. Hippolyte Du Fort (hence Hippo Lite) in France, a town whose menfolk were decimated in WWII, the followup to 2015 debut Hermits On Holiday is suffused with as much sadness as madness. Whirring, elliptical and feverish, Blue From The Dark
Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow)
produces and provides guitar here). She has spent seven years observing, absorbing and making valued friends, determined the transition from debut to second album was going to be flawless. Rokia Traoré, with whom Diawara is often compared, released a similar guitar-and-voice debut but then stumbled when she repeated that act for the follow-up; it took a spectacular live show before the second phase of her career began. Diawara has got the live show in the bag, now here comes the album. And it’s a set that drags a whole continent behind it, screaming: “You can’t ignore us any more. You can’t hide us behind that world-music tab. You can no longer imagine that we are some other form of entertainment.” Fenfo (which translates roughly as “something to say”) defies simple abels: it could hardly be more African, more pop, more urban or more soulful. Its provenance is woven through it – on guitar, in the hythms, with the use of kora and kamel ngoni – but never made explicit. The lyrics are in Bambara, but who in their right mind could get hung up on that? To a young African, brought up on imported hip-hop, R&B, pop and soul, plus whatever music could be made at home, nothing is off limits, the entire artistic palette is there to be used. And Diawara exploits that uniqueness with aplomb. She understands duende, feels saudade and has experienced the blues, but she wraps them in a welcoming smile that comes from the heart, and then – because she knows how the political wind blows wherever this album may take her – presents the title of Negue Negue as a chant and dares you to sing it loudly. Seven years, it turns out, ain’t but a blink of the eye when you’re waiting for a superstar to arrive.
perceptive Robert Forster likened him to Antony And The Johnsons mixing “landscape and animal life and family into spiritual reverie”). But this uses string and brass arrangements, worked out by Gurrumul and his collaborator, Michael Hohnen, to make a stronger art-rock case for the singer (think Street Hassle, Radiohead’s Burn The Witch, or Maria McKee’s I’m Not Listening). The title track, previously heard on his debut, is transformed; the work put into newer songs suggests the next step could have been a full-blown Aborigine symphony. Immerse yourself in this, the countless layers have untold secrets to give up over time. David Hutcheon
Final act of the all-time bestselling indigenou Australian. Finished shortly before his death last July, the fifth album by Dr G Yunupingu is a quite stunning farewell. His first two releases put the listener in familiar territory – multi-layered vocals over guitar and bass accompaniment (the ever-
The Magic Numbers
★★★★ Outsiders ROLE PLAY. CD/DL/LP
The Stodart and Gannon siblings explore reality’s bite on fifth album. Gross simplification though it is, many have long thought The Magic Numbers permasmiling innocents – but their
first album in four years should put paid to that. Peopled by runaways, lost children, and “damaged goods bitten by the hounds of love”, Outsiders is a notably mature-sounding record full of gnarly guitars, scrunchy Hammond organ and tuneful innocence lost. “Maybe there’s no grand design”, concedes the chorus of Sweet Divide, wherein Romeo and Michele Stodart’s harmonies delight yet again, while Lost Children, comprised only of ‘50s-tone guitar grit and lonesome vocal, is a remarkable performance. For all the exuding of hardwon emotional intelligence, there are hopeful moments, too. One could imagine the late Glen Campbell eating up the vocal melody of Webbmeets-Bacharach infusion Power Lines, while the muted train-beat country of Wayward is just divine. James McNair
★★★ No. 4 KRANKY. CD/DL/LP
Belgium-based composer’s fourth LP of exquisite ambient explorations. Like the soundtrack to a threshold dream-state, Vantzou’s fourth LP begins with a distant ecstatic cry, a blissful fall through dark galaxies underscored by heavy machine hum and spectral Ligeti strings. Born of collaboration with fellow Kranky composers Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett, plus ExDirty Projector Angel Deradoorian, No. 4 is a warmer, more cohesive work than 2015’s No. 3. For this conceptual journey through inner space, Vantzou utilises piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, synthesizers, and percussion (plus the strings of Belgium’s Echo Collective) to travel landscapes of sleep and memory. The whole is deep, immersive and tranquilising, yet it’s tracks like Lava and Garden Of Forking Paths, where choral female voices call out and a pulsing bass line cuts through the ambient fog, that really shine out. Andrew Male
★★★★ Hit On All Sixess SPEEDOWAX. CD/DL/LP
Former Senseless Thin frontman Mark Keds g post-punk goth!
JB Deucher, Jen Maler
In amongst widely (self-) documented drug problems, grunge-era pop-punk pin-up Keds hasn’t been idle since his band’s demise in ’95. After briefly serving as The Wildhearts’ second guitarist, he’s fronted numerous groups (Jolt, The Lams, etc), but with Deadcuts he breaks fresh ground. Forgoing excitable Buzzcocks-isms, this second album’s opener, Single, crashes in with the gothily flanged guitars of peak-period Sisters Of Mercy, Keds voicing in the gravelly rasp of The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler.
Light fingers: Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton (left) and Rob Garza.
Though nocturnal and reptilian, Hit On All Sixess scores top marks for urgency, and an atmospheric toxicity you’ll wallow in for 46 minutes. Above all, it’s got tunes: Sleepless Allies sweeps by with all the subterranean majesty of a top-of-the-night Batcave classic, while Don’t Die Yet closes out with swingeing intensity, à la The Cure’s Pornography. Audibly inspired by the darkness its author has glimpsed, this album’s triumph is thus all the more potent. Andrew Perry
★★★★ Treasures From The Temple ESL. CD/DL/LP
Superior selection from veteran Washington DC groove bandits. Treasures From The Temple – the eleventh album from Washington DC’s Thievery Corporation – grew out of offcuts and mixes from 2017’s accomplished Temple Of I & I, recorded at Gee Jam Studios in Jamaica. Now 23 years into their career, producers Rob Garza and Eric Hilton plus a supporting cast of toasters and chanteuses again create their distinctive sound, updating those late-20th century genres, downtempo and lounge. Music To Make You Stagger is what the Thieveries do best, waves of electric piano over dubby horns, nagging congas and an insistent breakbeat. Voyage Libre (performed by LouLou Ghelichkhani) is yé-yé meeting OMD; Water Under The Bridge sounds like a lost glacial new romance, a blend of icy electronics and Natalia Clavier’s emotional vocal. “Where have all the good tunes gone?” toaster Notch muses on Waiting Too Long; Treasures From The Temple has plenty. Daryl Easlea
★★★★ Belief O GENESIS. CD/DL/LP
LP No.140 from the Bri folk-art factotum; his f for Tim Burgess’s label Not even Richard Youngs owns all of Richard Youngs’ recordings. For nearly 30 years, this 51-yearold Glasgow-based musician and librarian has released an astonishing run of rich, strange and fearless LPs that range from epic voice-and-guitar laments to discordant electronic experiments, always rooted in ancient traditions of the ballad and the dirge. For his debut release on Burgess’s boutique label, Young weaves 11 modern blues of frail longing around backwards guitar, mumbling bass and homemade percussion, his chanted lyrics like pale fragile spells for escaping the 21st century. Youngs fans should also check out Endless Futures, a RSD release on Glass Records Redux, comprising 11 tracks of “reimagined punk rock”, including a transportive, sidelong vocal improvisation over bass, drums and tremolo guitar, a portrait of Youngs caught between “faux halcyon days” and the “space-filling, contentproviding” present. Andrew Male
★★★★ Slowly Paradise CONSTELLATION. CD/DL/LP
Toronto improv guitarist returns with another LP of peculiar love balladry. A RASPBERRY. A wet-lipped Stylophone raspberry. That s the distinct sound Eric Chenaux chooses to lead off his gorgeous new LP with. The song shackled with this electronic flatulence is called Bird & Moon and finds Chenaux singing, in a sweet Garfunkel soar, over warped wah wah guitar, about how “Moonlight needs a little sky/To make the warmest light”. Chenaux is undoubtedly strange, but he also knows his music works because of that nervous tension between his free, deconstructed guitar playing, his melodic song structures and that frail, Chet Baker falsetto. At times reminiscent of Derek Bailey’s Ballads LP, with vocals by Arthur Russell, the songs on Slowly Paradise are slow love songs, but slow love songs that, thanks to Chenaux’s playing, suggest an impermanence at the heart of all romance, a chaos at life’s core.
MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES. CD/DL/LP
Dizzying and danceab prog-funk precision fr Sunderland. Like Field Music’s Brewis brothers – with whom he collaborated on his 2015 debut – Slug, ostensibly the nom de plume of Ian Black, appears intent on dismantling pop music and reconfiguring it into new shapes. There’s a hard funk edge at the heart of these explorations that manages to summon the image of King Crimson jamming in a drafty Sunderland warehouse, and a complexity that suggests a one-man Mackem Mahavishnu Orchestra. The staccato riffing and swirling of opener No Heavy Petting is brilliantly disorientating; Gibberish is slick psych-disco almost akin to MGMT, with deft percussion and subtle string arrangements throughout. George Clinton in full cosmic Funkadelic mode is perhaps Black’s closest reference point; remarkable for a man rumoured to work in a call centre in a recession-hit northern town. Admirably obtuse, Slug put the odd into prog odyssey with style. Ben Myers
BLACK TRUFFLE. DL/LP
PSYCHIC TROUBLES TAPES. DL/MC
Two recent works by the experimental American composer. In CrissCross, Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley create hallucinatory sound wave dialogues between amplifiers, while on Hanover, Lucier references instruments in a 1918 photo of his father’s jazz band for a swirling, ectenic drone of violin, sax and bowed vibraphone around lone piano notes.
This new collaboration between High Aura’d’s John Kolodij and Zelienople’s Matt Christensen is full-force, tripped out, sonic bliss; multi-tracked voices over New Age harmonics, slack-key guitar thrashing, bush-fire distortion and tumbling jazz drums, all tethered to boomsounding bass. No drugs necessary.
★★★ Exit Rumination INJAZERO. CD/DL/LP
Deeply in tune with the wild surrounds of his Port Hardy island home, this fourth release from the Canadian experimental musician uses manipulated bowed guitar and trumpet to create wild storms, chill drones and dissonant wails. Music for dark landscapes; like a modern, electronic scion of The Bothy Band and Boys Of The Lough.
★★★★ Eudaimon THREE:FOUR. DL/LP
Having previously interpreted the poetry of Walt Whitman and Sylvia Plath, Paris-born pianist and vocal improviser Dora now turns her hand to the mystical neo-Romanticism of Kathleen Raine. Dora’s ethereal, overlapping, sweetly melancholic vocals and cascading piano free Raine’s words from the page, investing them with a wild ecstatic fire. AM
★★★ Islands INFECTIOUS MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Album number seven f the Downpatrick, Cou Down-formed trio. With Tim Wheeler now living in NYC, Rick McMurray based in Edinburgh, and Mark Hamilton in Hoboken, the days when Ash were proximate enough to record and release a single every two weeks for a year are long gone. That said, Islands does a decent job of re-animating the kind of urgent, powerpop nous that fired ubiquitous 2001 single Burn Baby Burn (witness True Story and Annabel here). Other highlights include Buzzkill, a Ramones-ish grump about a thwarted hook-up that has The Undertones’ Damian O’Neill and Mickey Bradley on backing vocals, and Confessions In The Pool, which gets pleasing mileage from cascading synth arpeggios. There is, alas, something much more formulaic-sounding about All That I Have Left, but for at least 42 of its 46 minutes, Islands is an invigorating place to be marooned. James McNair
★★★★ Loner NEW WEST. CD/DL/LP/MC
Offbeat New York roots rocker forsakes folky navelgazing for peppy pop.
Kenneth James Gibson
★★★ In The Fields Of Nothing KOMPAKT. CD/DL/LP
Haunting soundtrack t fracturing America. Gibson lives, recluse-style, deep in the California forest, where isolation is presumably a creative tool; his known recording aliases currently stand at 13, most recognisably Bell Gardens, his chamber-Americana alliance with Stars Of The Lid’s Brian McBride, while reserving his
On Once Upon a Time, Canty reminds us he can pour as much soul into gentle snare taps as he can into avalanche drum rolls. Welcome back, boys, we missed you. Chris Nelson
★★★ The Messthetics DISCHORD. CD/DL/LP
Fugazi’s rhythm section rides again. When the world needs ’em most, Fugazi return. Well, Fugazi’s drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally have returned, and they’ve brought with them freak-out guitar whiz Anthony Pirog. Oh, and they’re an instrumental band. We’ll take it. The Messthetics is a short set, long on detail. Mythomania opens with the rhythm section in familiar crack form, but charts its own path in short order. Its sounds conjure a sense of soldiering forward through the woods at night, only to be surprised by UFO screeches from Pirog’s guitar. Serpent Tongue speeds by like a time-lapse nature documentary, while The Inner Ocean’s expansive soundscapes underscore that we are utterly alone.
★★★★ Sparkle Hard Seventh Jicks-backed from Pavement front Kim Gordon guests.
★★★★ Orquesta Akokán
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
José ‘Pepito’ Gómez leads the mambo revival with his intergenerational big band. The first track, Mambo Rapido, begins softly with a piano arpeggio, then a scream of brass; sax, trumpet and trombone dance atop polyrhythms driven by the tres cubano, cowbell and congos. Over this percussive wall of sound, vocalist José ‘Pepito’ Gómez calls out to the dancefloor. It’s a thrilling statement of intent by the massed ranks of the 20-strong Akokan ensemble – Akokan meaning ‘from the heart’ in Yoruba. Recorded live over three days in Havana’s staterun Areito studio, their selftitled debut recreates the carnival, colour and spectacle of the ’40s and ’50s Cuban dance band era, when Arsenio Rodríguez, Pérez Prado and Beny Moré were kings. As with Daptone’s soul projects, the emphasis is on authenticity and integrity and the result is spot-on; an exhilarating evocation that would have had New York’s Palladium rocking. Lois Wilson
Credit in here
Disillusioned by the troubadour life after touring 2014’s twangy I Will Not Be Afraid, Caroline Rose dropped anchor, took stock and started messing with synths. The results are writ large on this
third album; a feast of succinct, provocative powerpop that mangles the absurdities of modern life through a blackly comic lyrical mill. Whether satirically skewering the safety of conformity (More Of The Same), music industry sexism (Smile!) and single parenthood (Jeannie Becomes A Mom) or throwing nods to Kate Bush (Talk), Kim Wilde (Cry!) and Rilo Kiley (Soul No. 5), Rose has developed a knack for penning sparky, sarky, swaggering choruses that resonate long after her smoky tones have faded. Loner is the sound of her undoubted talent turned feral. It’s a wonderful, rollicking beast. Andy Cowan
own name for crepuscular, symphonic ambience. In The Fields Of Nothing is his third own-name outing, a soundtrack for the simultaneous loneliness and serenity felt in isolation while the outside world rages and implodes. Lengthy elegiac drifts include Unblinded, 11 minutes of undulating threnodies of piano and strings that max-out the lonely/serene paradox. There is also one passage of vocals, during Far From Home, which echoes Bell Gardens’ mournful deployment of pedal steel, where the grievous likes of “If you felt alive, I couldn’t tell, it’s coming to an end” seem aimed at himself, powerless to affect change. Martin Aston
Orquesta Akokán: Havana blast.
As well as blending linguistic elegance and musical levity, Sparkle Hard affirms Stephen Malkmus’s increasingly contemplative approach. The songwriter dials down his flippant rock lexicographer persona from the getgo, as Cast Off’s opening piano chords establish a troubled mood that pervades even the groovy choogle of Bike Lane, a venomous satire of the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police – “Kick off your jackboots, it’s time to unwind” – and then bleeds into the pointedly titled Middle America (“Men are scum, I won’t deny”), a regretful, ultra-melodious late-VU swoon. There’s a cosmic twinkle throughout, brightest amid Kite’s almighty guitar ascension, or the Can-go-jive-talking exit Let Them Eat Vowels, while Refute, a bluegrass duet with Kim Gordon, leans more to pathos than mischief. The PG Wodehouse of the indie generation has scarcely dealt a finer hand. Keith Cameron
The Third Eye Foundation
★★★ Wake The Dead ICI D’AILLEURS. CD/DL/LP
Matt Elliott’s beat-driv take on the post-classi sound. In the later ’90s, Bristol’s Third Eye Foundation filled a fuggedout space that had been vacated by My Bloody Valentine, welding as they did untethered noise to drum’n’bass rhythms and, deep in the mix, the most ghostly of melodies. After a run of more songwriterly albums under his own name, Wake The Dead is Matt Elliott’s first Third Eye album in eight years. Those mournful, cryptoclassical refrains are more prominent nowadays, so much so that the title track, especially, resembles a cross between Gavin Bryars and William Basinski. But there are also plenty of Elliott’s trademark banshee chorales, and a re-engagement with beat science: clattery, martial hiphop derivatives beneath the stately processionals; and a chopped, sampled shout of “Hate the fucking pigs” connecting That’s Why to the aggro-minimalism of Chicago’s footwork scene. John Mulvey
Hello spaceboys: Arctic Monkeys dare to leave the capsule.
fade-out/Call me when no one’s around”), and Slide, which is just piano, voice and ballad, Bay without the effects. Lucy O’Brien
★★★ Good Thing COLUMBIA. CD/DL/LP
★★★★ Tell Me How You Really Feel MILK/MARATHON. CD/DL/LP
Celebrate! Success has not spoiled the Melbournebased singer-songwriter. Courtney Barnett’s first postbreakthrough set betrays a little of the shock of her newly famous status – Nameless, Faceless plays less radiofriendly than usual, City Looks Pretty evokes the jet-laggy displacement of returning home a considerably bigger deal than when you left – but this second full-length is no In Utero-esque backlash. For one thing, while I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch feels more ferocious than Barnett’s entire back catalogue, the rest of the LP is characterised by an effortless pop knack suggesting even her snores are laced with classic indie-rock hooks. For another, Barnett’s no prisoner of her own darkness: her anxieties are balanced by resilient wit, her songs emotionally anchored but held aloft by something akin to hopefulness. Sunday Roast’s winning invocation, “Don’t come with your arms swinging, throw them around me”, sums up an album that’s warm, honest, awash with tuneage, never corny, and really rather marvellous. Stevie Chick
Texan soul revivalist e off on the old-timey detailing, for the bett Bridges’ 2015 debut Coming Home was the work of a man with the gift for the ersatz; its era-perfect soul confections had dust from the old Soulsville studio running through their veins. But painstakingly recreating the past swiftly becomes a creative dead end, and his second full-length, while still connected to soul’s sacred wellspring, frames his artisanal songcraft in more modernist settings. As such, the Memphian smoulder of Shy connects Al Green ache to ‘90s swing, while the minimalist downtempo of Lions suggests D’Angelo crooning from a nest of broken beats, and is quite lovely. Just as Leon’s litany of swoonsome romancing begins to feel sweet but insubstantial, along comes the closing Georgia To Texas, a jazzy, gospelsoaked autobiography that’ll steal your breath away, and confirm that brilliance really is within his grasp. Stevie Chick
★★★ Electric Light REPUBLIC. CD/DL/LP
Shouty choruses alter with clever R&B pop o winner’s second albu
After the open-mike acoustic feel of his 2015 debut Chaos And The Calm, Bay cranks it really high for the follow-up. The psychological wrestling of his first album is replaced by foot-stomping desire, from the hard, glinting rush of Pink Lemonade to the slow-core distortion of the self-explanatory Wasted On Each Other. Co-produced with Paul Epworth (Adele) and long-term collaborator Jon Green, this ambitious record loses subtlety in the grand Springsteen-ish gestures of songs like Just For Tonight. Bay fares better with the looped, crunchy soul and more nuanced lyrics of Fade Out (“You only love me in the
Steel City superstars land on the moon. It’s quite some trip, says Tom Doyle.
★★★★ Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino DOMINO. CD/DL/LP
★★★ Wide Awake! ROUGH TRADE. CD/DL/LP
NYC punks enlist Dan Mouse for sixth long-
One giant leap
The election victory of Donald Trump prompted the solace that at least we’d get some good punk records out of the travesty, as we had in the Reagan-Thatcher era. Wide Awake! is exactly what some had in mind. Unsurprisingly, it flies the Wire and Minutemen flags high. More surprising are occasional nods to funk and ‘60s bubblegum. Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience bolts a song with vocals reminiscent of ’80s hardcore onto another whose chorus lead-in would have worked for The Monkees. Using the passive voice throughout undercuts the Courts’ punch. Witness: “Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology.” OK, fine, but good on ’em for amending that wordiness with, “And fuck Tom Brady,” a much clearer kiss-off to America’s most hated sports star and noted Trump-endorser. Chris Nelson
EACH ARCTIC Monkeys album since their blockbuster 2006 debut has felt like an act of escapology – wriggle out of the straightjacket first, then break your way out of the water tank. 2013’s AM saw them emerging to the sound of a standing ovation: a UK Number 1, US Top 10, and such a strong set of songs that it yielded six singles. For their next trick, the Monkeys have ventured into space, with a thematic, if not exactly conceptual, near-future sci-fi lounge/soul album whose influences mirror Alex Turner’s listening tastes circa the second Last Shadow Puppets record, 2016’s Everything You’ve Come To Expect. Throughout, there are shades of Serge Gainsbourg (clipped ‘60s bass), David Axelrod (rolling grooves), The Beach Boys (watery, staccato Leslie speaker organ stabs) and various hues of David Bowie circa 1973-75. These tracks have their origins in a series of home-recorded Turner tapes that have been embellished by the other Monkeys – or not (two songs don’t even feature the band’s rhythm section) – and long-time producer James Ford, plus guests including Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions) and James Righton (formerly of Klaxons). Nonetheless, the spotlight stays trained on Turner, as he whirls around in his private studio, moving from baritone guitar to piano
to Orchestron to Dolceola. As ever, though, it’s on the mike that he truly shines. Breaking free (mostly) from his trademark songs of lust and arch observation, he uses a confessional opening line in Star Treatment (“I just wanted to be one of The Strokes”) to then spin a time-warping, fantastical tale wherein he paints himself as a cabaret singer who was “a little too wild in the ‘70s”, as the exotica echoes and twinkles around him. It’s brilliant and surprising stuff, which goes on to succeed in making oblique socio-political commentary both vivid and fun: Golden Trunks riffs on Feel Flows from Surf’s Up and imagines the leader of the free world as a wrestler in gilded budgie smugglers; American Sports looks back down to Earth to see an “aura over the battleground states”. The album’s title is an imagined lunar leisure facility whose parent song features a very friendly receptionist named Mark, keen to help direct your call. But it’s in album standout Four Out Of Five that the gentrification of the surface of the moon is fully realised: a yacht rock Moonage Daydream tongue-twister with 10cc harmonies where “cute new places keep on popping up” and the narrator’s taqueria is getting “rave reviews”. The notion that it may well become an arena/ festival singalong is highly amusing. All in all, the Monkeys’ sixth long-player is a bold move. While there’s every chance it will shed some fans, being a transitional album like Humbug (though not as hardgoing as that record’s heavy rifferama was) and basically not AM 2, it buys the group a lot of freedom. As Arctic Monkeys’ head album, it’s a thing that no one envisaged coming from those callow, Fred Perry-wearing youths of more than a decade ago. n shifting their base to the moon, from here they could go anywhere. To infinity and beyond.
lie in the fun and games of market days and local fairs (Unison, Shandai Ya). David Hutcheon
★★★ Liberty SHADOWBOX MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Alt-country singer tur psychobilly pulp quee
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: hieroglyphically inclined.
★★★★ Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation BULK RECORDINGS. CD/DL/LP
Time-travelling extraterrestrial’s bela sequel to conventiondefying alt-rap landm It’s hard to underestimate how much 1996’s spacedout debut Dr. Octagonecologyst redefined hip-hop’s imaginative limits. Set in 3000, it let Kool Keith’s titular rapping medic wreak havoc over futuristic beats supplied by rookie producer Dan The Automator (later a key architect of Gorillaz’ debut) and Invisibl Skratch Piklz DJ Qbert (a turntable Hendrix). Re-emerging into a mainstream rap landscape that’s openly embraced the strange ever since (Future; Earl Sweatshirt; Kevin Gates), Moosebumps… doesn’t sweat past glories. Automator’s superior beat chassis and Qbert’s fluid manipulations mash with spindly guitars, skronking saxes, steely synths and spooked strings. Keith’s surreal wordplay – full of insane peccadillos and a Noah’s Ark-full of wild animals – has one leg planted firmly in the future, ensuring Dr. Octagon is still one of a kind. Andy Cowan
Marie Andrews’ follow-up is a set steeped in the bitter wisdom that follows. A more old-fashioned brand of country than its predecessor, Kindness sees Andrews play the traditional diva, brilliantly so on the swelling, epic title track. Elsewhere, shadowed by atmospheric tremolo guitar and elements of Memphian soul, Andrews injects Americana archetypes with tenderness and empathy: Lift The Lonely From My Heart’s sharp update of classic country misery, Rough Around The Edges’ tale of “the flaws in all the in-betweens” humane and moving. The absence of the song about women’s reproductive rights she played on tour last year is a disappointment, but Two Cold Nights In Buffalo’s vision of an “American dream dying” suggests social comment remains an interest. Given the compassion of her songwriting, she should pursue it. Stevie Chick
★★★★ May Your Kindness Remain Alexis Maryon
Following her breakthrough, Nashville up-and-comer lets her love flow. If 2016’s Honest Life was a break-up album, Courtney
Love In The Modern Age YEP ROC. CD/DL/LP
Singer/songwriter get clinical on album No The album title sounds like an anthropology text, which is fitting since most of the songs are observations from an emotional distance. Ordi-
Land Of Ra’s chanted title might pay homage to an obvious Pyramids influence, Catto shepherds the song towards reggae; and, in a further negotiation of new horizons, the opening Tinoge flirts with Afrobeat. The suspicion remains, though, that a spiritual take on jazz remains their strongest suit, when Ackamoor’s tenor intertwines with Sandra Poindexter’s violin on the title track, or when he unleashes Pharoah-ish blasts that add a note of protest to the outstanding lament, Soliloquy For Michael Brown. John Mulvey
The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices Featuring Lisa Gerrard
★★★★ BooCheeMish PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS. CD/DL/LP
Medieval chills from the near east.
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
★★★ An Angel Fell STRUT. CD/DL/LP
★★★ Courtney Marie Andrews
nary People, Ordinary Lives is literally a surveillance story. On Businessman, the singer complains, “Deadlines wear me down” against a musical backdrop as sterile as the hotel rooms he endlessly hops to. Rouse fashions his tracks from a Steely Dan mould: catchy, precise, cold. The women in Women And The Wind aren’t partners but fleeting pleasures. Even a pledge of devotion, I’m Your Man, insists that a lover “Come and get it while you can,” presumably because the singer’s halfway out the door. Finally, on There Was A Time, a singer hits rock-bottom, asks for help and invests himself. When guitarist Xema Fuertes crowns the confession with an offkilter solo, it quenches like an overdue dose of honesty. Chris Nelson
Cosmic jazz vets explore new worlds – and East London! Latterly, Idris Ackamoor and his reconstituted Pyramids have managed to parlay a cultish reputation into a viable career, some four decades after their three fine Afrofuturist jazz albums were released on a tiny San Francisco label. After two comeback albums recorded in Berlin, An Angel Fell finds the band in Dalston, recording with Malcolm Catto of the eclectically inclined funk band, The Heliocentrics. It’s a judicious match-up: while
An essential listen for everybody who misses 4AD’s ethereal salad days in the mid-1980s – Gerrard sang (and still does) with Dead Can Dance; the women of the Bulgarian state radio choir hit the indie charts (no, honestly) after Bauhaus’s Pete Murphy discovered their 1975 LP – or anybody whose spine tingles at the thought of “sonic cathedrals”. The choir’s speciality – polyphonic harmonies from centuries-old folk forms from Bulgaria, Byzantium, Thrace and the Ottoman empire – is inimitable and here arranged as if to show up and bewilder today’s psychedelic warriors in a headphone challenge; Gerrard adds lead on a handful of tracks. While a medieval church might be the best place to hear songs such as Ganka or Sluntse, there is much to remind you that their origins
Less than two years ago, Lindi Ortega had decided to quit music. Dubbed the ‘dark star’ of country, the Canadian’s traditional twang mixed with punky attitude had ensured a loving fan-base and award nominations; but that didn’t pay the rent. Burned out, she started writing her farewell song – and glimpsed a new direction. She left her label, scaled back the honky-tonk, channelled her Mexican heritage and love of Tarantino and Morricone. The result is a kitschy cinematic journey, told by a cast of unsavoury characters, that moves from tragedy to redemption. Afraid Of The Dark echoes with Gretsch and ghostly P.J. Harvey intonations, while The Comeback Kid is the rip-snorting, Tim Burton-esque tale of a girl who took a bullet but rose again. Alongside lonesome harmonica, Ortega’s velvety Patsy Cline croon is unleashed. It doesn’t all work; but when it does, it’s wonderfully widescreen. Glyn Brown
The Sea And Cake
★★★ Any Day THRILL JOCKEY. CD/DL/LP
Sam Prekop and frien first album in six years This is the first album from Sea And Cake as a trio – Prekop on vocals, guitar and keyboards; Archer Prewitt on guitar; John McEntire of Tortoise on drums, bass and production duties. The group have been honing their craft for over 20 years and all their trademarks can be found here. Prekop’s light, breathy vocal lines feel like they are glancing across the surface of the music, although if anything, his timing and characteristic vocal cadences sound a little too familiar. And typically, most of the songs glide along smoothly rather than being demonstrative and dynamic, but there are rhythmic syncopations and all manner of instrumental subtleties going on just under the surface. Prewitt is on top form, playing some complex chord progressions with a silvery tone on Circle, while getting all fizzy and distorted over deep bass lines on Cover The Mountain. Mike Barnes
A Perfect Circle
★★★ Eat The Elephant
Angels Of Death
Notes From An Island
WESTERN VINYL. CD/DL/LP
PARADISE OF BACHELORS. CD/DL/LP
GILDED WINGS. CD/DL
The cerebral alt-rock collective’s first album in 14 years is at once brooding and beautiful. There’s biting humour in Maynard James Keenan’s apocalyptic mithering, offset by twinkly, minor-key soundscapes. PB
Texan Burns addresses the loss of her mother in eight songs that drift and haunt with layered voice and moody strings. Highlights: If I, and warmer Where Do I Begin that ends the album with acceptance, if not hope. SS
Recorded in a church by Lake Erie, the Canadian’s third finds her feeling mortal; drawing on poetry, reminiscence, visions, ghosts and the corporeal return to the earth, for country-soul songs full of warmth and comfort. JB
The Corner Of A Sphere
Micah P Hinson
At The British Broadcasting Corporation
When The Night Calls
Sadie Dupuis and her co-conspirators take on the #MeToo moment with deliciously off-kilter ‘90s noise on their third album. The vignettes pack enough detail and emotion to work as well in short fiction form. CN
FULL TIME HOBBY. CD/DL/LP
Texas songwriter’s 11 cuts for the Beeb since 2004. Deep fable-making (Lovers Lane), spiritual (God Is Good) and unfathomable (How Are You Just A Dream). JB
Who knew that a meld of ambient, free jazz and Korean folk could be so serendipitous? Park Jiha’s spectral minimalism – and her hammered dulcimer – feels like a belated sequel to Laraaji/Eno’s 1980 Day Of Radiance. JM
Less sepia-tinged than their alt-country debut but still warm, rootsy and melodic, this Keane spin-off allows Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin more impact than the soapopera pop of their day job. JB
LOST MAP. CD/DL/LP
Imploring opener Is It Enough sets out the shifting moods of sax-poet Angus Fairbairn’s new LP: skronk, ecstasy and keen-eyed observation. JB
★★★ Son of folk rock luminary Ashley Hutchings, Dunlop is an adept guitarist whose epic songwriting instincts prevail on a personal-political fourth album. Thoughtful break-up songs mirror British cultural isolationism outside. JB
CLUB AC30. DL/LP
Russian electro-shoegazers all but ditch guitars for strong third album. Dance AM and Triangles carve a deep motorik opener; then rave euphoria and swoony breakdowns trail Lyubov Soloveva’s vocals. JB
This Is Tom Waits Playlist Salad Undressed
Good Love Bad Love
Smalls Change (Meditations On Ageing)
Paul and Marijne of Salad reconvene with guitarist/ producer Donald Ross Skinner. If the name suggests a pared approach, it’s certainly light on ’90s bombast. Stylistically mottled, each song takes an unsentimental look at love. JB
Smalls has the driest lines in Spinal Tap (“Are we gonna do Stonehenge tomorrow?”). But there’s little dry about old guy jokes. About mobile phones. Backed by Steve Vai. CP
★★★★ Ancient Lights
Hummingbirds & Helicopters Vol. 1
TRU THOUGHTS. CD/DL/LP
Modern, ancient, and timeless, producer Tim Liken, sitarist Clem Alford and bassist Ben Hazleton lead a gently rambling spiritual jazz trip via Eddie Hicks’ rhythms, Idris Rahman’s clarinet and more. JB
Jolie Holland-conceived benefit album for hurricane hit South Texas and love song to the Gulf Coast. Twelve covers of songs about floods, Texas and broken lives sung by Jolie, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, et al. SS
potify already has Tom Waits playlists, but none like This Is Tom Waits. Despite the prosaic title, these 76 tracks are special: Tom has curated this career-span personally. While some notable tracks don’t make the cut (Way Down In The Hole), Waits proves no wilful obscurist as his choices journey from the likes of Closing Time’s Ol’ 55, through Swordfishtrombones’ 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six, before moving on to 2004’s Hoist That Rag. There’s no commentary, alas, but Waits’ more recent favourites are worth noting: 1999’s Mule Variations supplies nine songs, while six from 2002’s Alice sit beside classic ’70s cuts. Find it: Spotify
Hiss Golden Messenger Passing Clouds The US folk collective led by MC Taylor embrace Matthew E White’s golden soul grooves on stirring, Spacebombproduced charity single. Find it: YouTube
Wavves Onie The fuzz-drenched San Diegan quartet bravely rework this 1967 Electric Prunes’ debut album track with lolloping drums and dreamy spaced guitars. Find it: SoundCloud
Recommended Retailers 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
Vinyl Cafe 44 Abbey St, Carlisle CA3 8TX 01228 522845
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Barnstorm Records 128 Queensbury Court, Dumfries DG1 1BU 01387 267894
22 Milbank Terrace, Redcar TS10 1ED 07590590735
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10 Charles St, Newport NP20 1JU 35TheHeadrow,Leeds,LS16PU 01633 259 661 / www.diversevinyl.com 0113 2436743
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Holt Vinyl Vault
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EAST MIDLANDS Off The Beaten Tracks
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The Vinyl Frontier
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NEW FROM PROPER MUSIC GLEN PHILLIPS SWALLOWED BY THE NEW Phillips has been making music for over two decades, starting as the 14-year-old frontman for Toad The Wet Sprocket. During that time, he’s accumulated a sizable body of work with Toad (which collectively have sold close to 4 million units) and three as a solo artist. Swallowed By The New is an intensely personal album that reflects Glen’s mastery for converting raw emotion into sound. Featuring the bonus track, ‘Nobody’s Gonna Get Hurt’. COMPASS
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
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Rooster Records 98 Fore Street, Exeter EX4 3HY 01392 272009 / www.roosterrecords.co.uk
BEN GLOVER SHOREBOUND The newfound sounds and shapes that comprise Shorebound mark a moment in Ben Glover’s musical history — a moment that nods to the past decade of his artistry even while pivoting into the next era. He joins forces with friends on both sides of the Atlantic for Shorebound, including Gretchen Peters, Ricky Ross, Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey, Angel Snow, Robert Vincent, Amy Speace, Anthony Toner, and others. PROPER RECORDS
Sanctuary Music Acorn House 42 Nailsworth Mill Trading Estate Nailsworth GL6 0AG 01453 704481
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THE YOUNG’UNS STRANGERS BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS WINNER 2018: BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR Twice BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Group winners (2015 & 2016), The Young’uns’ fourth studio album Strangers is a collection of folk songs for our times – a homage to the outsider, a eulogy for the wayfarer and a hymn for the migrant – songs of conscience, songs of warmth and wit, songs to provoke, songs to inspire. “Exceptional songwriting - an album to match their formidable live reputation” ++++ MOJO HERETAU RECORDS
KARINE POLWART WITH PIPPA MURPHY A POCKET OF WIND RESISTANCE
Vinyl Cafe 44 Abbey Street, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8TX, 01228 522845 ‘Serving up an eclectic range of music on new and used vinyl with the added bonus of being able to test play used vinyl before purchase. It also houses an interesting cafe serving a delicious blend of refreshments to relax and slow down in a refreshingly different musical environment.’
BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS WINNER 2018: FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR Five-time winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Karine wrote, musically directed, and performed Wind Resistance, a critically acclaimed debut work for theatre. A poetic meditation on midwifery, ecology, sanctuary, and solidarity, it combines elements of memoir, essay, myth, sound art and song. ”Poignant, unflinching and beautiful” +++++THE TELEGRAPH HUDSON RECORDS
Disruptive influence A real-time document of how the alto saxophonist’s brief tenure at Atlantic transformed jazz history. By David Fricke.
★★★★★ The Atlantic Years RHINO. LP
he subject of this box set would have enjoyed the irony in the title. The Atlantic Years is a 10-disc remastered vinyl monument to Ornette Coleman’s historic entrance as a composer, improviser and bandleader at the front of jazz’s most convulsive decade: six classic studio LPs and four original anthologies of outtakes. In fact, the alto saxophonist, who died in 2015 at the age of 85, was a working artist at Atlantic Records for not even two years, cutting everything here in 10 sessions between May 1959 and March 1961. It became a habitual restlessness. Coleman ultimately issued his official canon – almost 40 albums across half a century – on 18 different labels, preferring self-determination and nomadic struggle to A&R politics and punitive contracts. But it was in Atlantic’s brief window of support and licence, in the same transforming season of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, that Coleman established his vision of an unprecedented, truly free jazz. Declaring his independence from chord-bound hierarchy, he unleashed a turbulence of equals that was at once vigorously avant-garde – shattering conventional relationships between melody, key and rhythm – and vividly descended from the unchained-ensemble surge of the early New Orleans groups and the ecstatic polyphony in black-church singing. Coleman later coined a name for his music: harmolodics. But the Atlantic LPs announced his certainty right away in the titles and cover art: the shotgun argument of The Shape Of Jazz To Come and Change Of The Century, recorded within six months of each other in 1959; the pure energy of Jackson Pollock’s action painting on 1961’s Free Jazz; the punctuative authority of Ornette!, released in December 1962. Coleman backed his audacity with immediately compelling tunes: the searing melancholy of Coleman’s alto and Don Cherry’s BACK STORY: cornet in the ballad Lonely FREE HOUSE Woman, the immortal opening of ● Coleman made his first two Atlantic albums at Shape…; the tart exuberance of Radio Recorders in Los Ramblin’, the first track on Change Angeles. The house Of The Century. Atlantic even engineer was a young man named Bones Howe, who released Change…’s Una Muy later engineered hits for Bonita, a whirligig melody cantered The Mamas & The Papas by Charlie Haden’s firm bass pulse, and produced six albums for Tom Waits. Howe told as a two-part 45 in 1960. In his the website Sound On linernotes to this set, former New Sound that he set up York Times critic Ben Ratliff points Coleman’s quartet “the same way they rehearsed out that Free Jazz – the 40-minute in Ornette’s apartment”. double-quartet improvisation that There were no music coined a movement – is “booty stands or charts. “Ornette didn’t even count off. He’d music”, anchored by explicit jjust lower his horn and themes and the elastic-R&B bind of they’d all hit it – at exactly drummers Billy Higgins and Ed the same tempo.” Blackwell. Coleman, born in Fort
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
KEY TRACKS Lonely Woman Una Muy Bonita ● Beauty Is A Rare Thing (First Take) ● ●
" FREE JAZZ IS THE EXTREME HERE, THE RECORD THAT DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE REVIEWED TWICE IN THE SAME ISSUE, AWARDING IT BOTH FIVE AND NO STARS.”
Worth, Texas, apprenticed on the Southern blues circuit, at one point touring with singer-guitarist Pee Wee Crayton. “All I wanted to do was write music that people would like,” Coleman told me in 1989. “I always told people I was commercial, because I was the only one doing what I was doing.” Modern Jazz Quintet pianist John Lewis said the same of Coleman 30 years earlier, in the jazz press, after seeing a club set in Los Angeles. He declared Coleman “the only really new thing in jazz” since the bebop mutiny of Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and encouraged MJQ’s producer at Atlantic, Nesuhi Ertegun, to sign the firebrand, then just turning 29. Coleman’s first two albums – in 1958 and ’59, for the West Coast imprint Contemporary – straddled eras, with Coleman and Cherry’s keening horns tugging forward against a formal drive (MJQ bassist Percy Heath, drummer Shelly Manne). At Atlantic, Ertegun wisely let Coleman loose with his working groups. Cherry was a constant, the compressed tone of that pocket horn belying the explosive, often sensual force in his soloing and harmonies, while the rhythm sections shifted across the sessions in subtle, exploring combinations: the buoyant fraternity of Haden and Higgins on Shape… and Change…; the earthy blend of Haden’s flow and the second line chops of Blackwell, a New Orleans native, on 1961’s This Is Our Music. Later dates featured bassists Scott La Faro from the Bill Evans Trio and Jimmy Garrison from Coltrane’s classic quartet. This Is Our Music was Coleman’s first date at Atlantic’s New York studio, made in the summer of 1960 right after his quartet’s controversial residency downtown at the Five Spot. The album was also Coleman’s first with Atlantic’s house engineer Tom Dowd. In the rightly titled Blues Connotation and the startling Gershwin standard Embraceable You, you hear that nightclub bond and the Texas roots inside the leader’s intellectual rigour. Dowd worked on the rest of Coleman’s Atlantic sessions, including Free Jazz and the 1962 release Ornette On Tenor, the saxophonist’s exuberant return to his first horn. Coleman rarely had an ear as acute and sensitive to his sinew and poignancy at the console again. Free Jazz, of course, is the extreme here, the record that Downbeat magazine famously reviewed twice in the same issue, awarding it both five and no stars. The album’s extended resonance – in Coltrane’s Ascension, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Sonic Youth’s feedback monsoon at the end of Expressway To Yr Skull – is undeniable. Still remarkable, even at this late date, is the striking individuality of the voices in the abandon: trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s hard-bop fire; Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet, a subterranean mirror of Coleman’s alto sax. A 1998 CD reissue featured the complete, uninterrupted performance, but there is something to be said for the breather, between sides one and two, back in effect here. Actually, I prefer First Take, the 17-minute outtake unearthed for Twins, a 1971 release included in this set. It’s faster, more urgent, practically punk rock, with a drone-and-sprint break by the basses. Coleman’s Atlantic revolution was fully issued on CD in the 1993 box Beauty Is A Rare Thing. But the music was re-sequenced according to session. The Atlantic Years restores the impact of Coleman’s daring as it first arrived, over 50 years ago. The shock and awe are still intact.
The new style: Ornette Coleman as depicted on the sleeve of 1959â€™s The Shape Of Jazz To Come.
recordings every bit as tremendous as those issued. Kieron Tyler
★★★★ X-Tra Wicked Reggae Anthology/ Serious Times Reggae Anthology
★★★★ Crying Bamboos
★★★★ Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls ACE. CD/DL
Twenty four rare ’61-69 gems from Motown’s female ranks, 14 previously unissued. In the mid-’60s, Motown’s assembly line went into overdrive; the result, great songs ended up on the shelf due to the sheer volume of material produced. The Supremes rarely suffered but everyone else did – Brenda Holloway in particular, who recorded nearly 150 shelved songs. Her title track here and the same year’s Without Love You Lose A Good Feelin’ are moulded in the classic Motown sound. Likewise Gladys Knight’s In My Heart I Know It’s Right, her ace first label recording, and The Marvelettes’ toothsome take on Sweet Talkin’ Guy. Breaking the mould but equally divine are Kim Weston’s So Long which places the big-voiced singer in an intimate setting with strings and Rita Wright’s It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’, which hints at the transcendental soul she later made as Syreeta. Lois Wilson
Two anthologies of Jamaican producer’s work from digital dancehall to roots revival. Robert Dixon started out in 1985 working with King Jammy. His quickness at mastering computerised technology led Bunny Lee to dub him ‘Digital’ and the name stuck. As Bobby Digital he launched his own label in 1988 and was soon running it out of his own studio. He was crucial in breaking Shabba Ranks with Just Reality, Wicked In Bed, Respect et al, and enabled dancehall to find its conscience with Admiral Tibet, Shabba Ranks & Ninjaman’s Serious Time and Sizzla’s Black Woman And Child. He also took the roots reggae of Horace Andy and Gregory Isaacs to a new audience with Bless You and Set Me Free respectively. Sold separately, these collections emphasise Digital’s impact on the dancehall and beyond. X-Tra Wicked includes an insightful documentary; Serious Times a Mighty Mike Heathen Mix CD. Lois Wilson
illustrates the state of flux The Who were in. Most of the time here, they sound happier playing other people’s songs, as if they’re not quite sure about their own. Mark Blake
IDEOLOGICAL ORGAN. CD/DL/LP
★★★★★ Remains SILENCE. LP
Five-LP tribute to the pioneering minimalist Swedish rock band. First, in 1967, there was Pärson Sound. Then there was International Harvester, quickly renamed Harvester. Next, in 1969, was Träd, Gräs & Stenar. Essentially the same band, all strove to marry Terry Riley’s minimalism and rock while nodding to traditional Swedish music. No other band on the planet was doing this to such an elevated level of far-outness. This was dronerock and the Swedish progg (sic) movement’s opening chapter. Remains collects stunningly remastered editions of International Harvester/Harvester’s two albums: 1968’s Sov Gott RoseMarie (issued by Finnish label Love as there was no suitable Swedish outlet) and1969’s Hemåt. Politics was inherent: the first album has a track called The Runcorn Report On Western Progress and the chant Ho Chi Minh. Albums three to five of the box set feature previously unheard
First vinyl edition in 4 for historical 1979 Pap New Guinea flute reco
Originally released on David Toop’s Quartz Publications, these ceremonial bamboo flute recordings by social anthropologist Ragnar Johnson now get a legitimate reissue on Stephen O’Malley’s label and the reasons are clear. Played at male initiation ceremonies in coastal villages near the Ramu River, and intended to emulate the cries of spirits, this collection of twin instrument dialogues – with occasional wooden gong and drum percussion – might fool the unsuspecting listener into thinking they were listening to some free workout by Don Cherry and Evan Parker: two breathy, wailing voices caught up in annular murmurations that dance around each other with a rough, devotional life. The interweaving flute drones have the ability to trick the ear into thinking you’re hearing melodies, instruments and voices that aren’t there, whether it be Slim Harpo’s harmonica, Pauline Oliveros’s accordion or the mating calls of rare jungle birds. Andew Male
Exile In Guyville MATADOR. CD/DL/LP
A 25th anniversary rei for an alt-rock classic collegiate sexual polit Somewhat playfully, this 1993 smash was a female rejoinder to the Stones’ lads-own shagger vibe (Exile On Main St. became a kind of inverse-template; both albums have 18 tracks). It’s a captivating portrait of Generation X sexual interplay – akin to a more plot-heavy Madonna fronting compositions that sit as intriguing parallels to Nirvana. Built on Phair’s selftaught chording and a melodic sense of rich DIY potency, these compelling narratives blossom into a transfixing (and profane) particularity – as on the signature track Fuck And Run. It’s a record so distinctive that it’s understandable Phair hasn’t equalled it in five subsequent albums. Now augmented by Phair’s three earlier Girly-Sound cassette albums, the reissue comes as 3-CD and 7-LP versions. Roy Wilkinson
King Tubby & Riley All Stars
Concrete Jungle Dub
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
DUB STORE. CD/DL/LP
Ultra-rare dub album overdue reissue.
Townshend and co cap in transition, live in Ne York City.
In 1968, The Who were in a quandary. They were no longer the twitchy teenage Mods of I Can’t Explain, but they’d yet to become an arena-rock group with the following year’s Tommy. Live At The Fillmore East 1968 is The Who: The Tricky In Between Years. Recorded in New York in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination, they bulldoze through I’m A Boy and deconstruct My Generation for more than 30 gruelling minutes. “Hard rock next… hard rock!” growls Pete Townshend before a bullish take on Eddie Cochran’s My Way. But his introduction suits most of the material, especially Cochran’s C’mon Everybody and a trance-like take on Johnny Kidd’s Shakin’ All Over. Little Billy, a strange Townshend curio Garden heads: about the perils of International smoking cigarettes, Harvester vibing al fresco.
Dennis Harris’s south-east London-based DIP stable issued an array of reggae during the 1970s, with the Concrete Jungle imprint reserved for hardcore roots. Concrete Jungle Dub was released in 1976 as a limited edition of 300, featuring the work of perceptive hit-maker Winston Riley, dubbed down by King Tubby at his legendary Waterhouse studio, with Riley’s brother Buster credited as producer and Harry J another noted mixing site. Despite some surface noise between songs due to the ancient source material, the 10 tracks are killer, with Stepping Stone Dub a ghostly, voiceless cut of Johnny Osborne’s rendition of The Delfonics’ Ready Or Not, Swal Field Dub a strippeddown take of Donovan D’s superb Who Is The One, and Dread Dub a bass-heavy recasting of Mervin Brooks’ Cheer Up Black Man. David Katz
Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk 1981 To 1988
Who Came First
The Tropical Disco Hus compilers go crate dig in the Far East. Journalist Yutaka Kimura economically defined City Pop as “urban pop music for those with urban lifestyles” – a variant on US R&B, disco and AOR that reflected the lavish exuberance of Japan’s postwar recovery. If western homage is explicit on Hitomi Tohyama’s strutting, confident Wanna Kiss (which liberally borrows its synthetic groove from Another One Bites The Dust) or Aru Takamura’s I’m In Love (an arch re-imagining of Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real), it’s hard not to shake a tailfeather to Hitomi Tohyama’s Exotic Yokogao (The Carpenters to a boogie beat) or the Madonna-esque dancepop seduction of Kaoru Akimoto’s Dress Down. Tokyo Nights… is all the more en vogue given City Pop’s recent resurgence via the YouTubesampling antics of various vaporwave artists. Andy Cowan
★★★★ ///Codename: Dustsucker FIRE. CD/DL/LP
Unrushed second album from the revere post-rock pioneers. For 10 years, it seemed that 1994’s Hex, debut album of London’s influential boundary-blurrers Bark Psychosis, would remain alone in the world, its reputation undimmed by anything so mundane as a ‘follow-up’. In 2004, however, the band’s prime mover Graham Sutton announced he had been working on a second record since 1999 and ///Codename: Dustsucker edged into the light. While Hex bloomed in the genre-fluid early ‘90s, layering ambient, jazz and Talk Talk atmospherics, /// Codename: Dustsucker no longer had that element of surprise (though it did feature ex-Talk Talk drummer Lee Harris). This reissue underlines its textural richness, however, a place where the woozy tropical shimmer of 400 Winters sits alongside Burning The City’s polished acoustic glow or the sentient machine music of INQB8TR. Bark Psychosis have remained ambient since, Sutton focusing on production work, but this reissue fills any space beautifully. Victoria Segal
Who mainman’s de first solo album re
Who Came First crept out during 1972 in the gap between Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. It found a home for ideas from The Who’s abandoned Lifehouse project and became a celebration of Townshend’s Indian master, Meher Baba. However, Townshend’s first solo album was made with a little help from his fellow disciples. Pete’s gentle readings of the later Who songs Pure And Easy and Let’s See Action still shine, while Ronnie Lane’s Evolution and Billy Nicholls’ Forever’s No Time At All, as pleasing as they are, still break the flow a little, just as they did on the original LP. Historians will savour the bonus disc’s alternative takes and musical sketches, while the less committed can still enjoy the previously unreleased The Love Man, where Townshend grapples with his new pedal steel, and hear just how much Roger Daltrey later brought to The Seeker. Mark Blake
The Eleventh House Featuring Larry Coryell
★★★ Level One RETROWORLD. CD
Forgotten jazz-rock gem dusted down fro the archives. Though not as well-known as fusion trailblazers the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return To Forever, the short-lived but highly influential The Eleventh House were a jazz-rock band to be reckoned with in the early-to-mid’-70s. Led by the late Larry Coryell’s fleet-offinger fretboard pyrotechnics, they were also powered by the propulsive polyrhythms of ex-Weather Report drummer Alphonse Mouzon. This was the quintet’s second album and their debut for Arista, issued in 1975, though a year later they had split up (they reformed briefly in 2017). Level One is arguably the most satisfying of their recordings, melding high-decibel rockstyle riffs with chromatic jazz solos and complex time signatures. All the band contribute material, such as the febrile prog-fusion of Mouzon’s Nyctaphobia, though Larry Coryell’s own tunes are arguably the strongest, as evidenced by the expansive three-part mood piece Suite. Charles Waring
Roxy music: Young, Talbot and glitter boot brilliantly confound the Strip.
The hard sell A legendarily damaged show emerges from the Archives. Less shaky than expected… By John Mulvey.
★★★★ Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live REPRISE. CD/DL/LP
IT’S POSSIBLE, just about, to overmythologise Neil Young’s Ditch period, riddled as it is with death, tequila, sunglasses at night and sundry other signifiers of rock’s darker potentialities. What is harder, though, is to overestimate the brilliance of the music that Young made between 1973 and 1975; the songs of Time Fades Away, On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night. When that last album’s main session was finished, in August 1973, Young and the Santa Monica Flyers – Crazy Horse’s Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Nils Lofgren, plus Stray Gator Ben Keith on steel – took up residence at the Roxy, an elite new club on Sunset Strip. They stole a wooden statue of a Native American and coupled it with a potted palm tree for a stage set. Nine hundred dollars’ worth of glittery platform boots were taped to Young’s grand piano, Black Beauty, as if to throw the grungy anti-glamour of the musicians into even sharper relief. Here was Young trialling the mix of rawness and artifice that would become a critical, if often confusing, part of his aesthetic. He would play in the most heartfelt and unvarnished way, but talk with a glibness that bordered on surrealism. “Welcome to Miami Beach,” he would
announce, “everything is cheaper than it looks.” How better to memorialise the deaths of his bandmate Danny Whitten, and his roadie Bruce Berry, than with a show that understood rock’n’roll could be celebrated, even as it was exposed as a kind of sick joke? The legend of Tonight’s The Night often fixates on bleakness, raggedness, vivid debauchery. What’s remarkable about the Roxy recordings, though, is the focus and power of the Santa Monica Flyers. Where some of the original album performances are fraught and tentative, as if committed to tape even as they were being written, the live performances a few days later are more robust, without diminishing the wired ambience. As on the studio version, the title track is played twice, but the first take here is crunchier and less spooked, Young’s voice more commanding as it plays off Lofgren’s sputtering guitar line. The a cappella harmonies of New Mama are uncannily tight, and even the set’s most harrowing song, Tired Eyes, moves with a purpose that belies the trauma. No concessions are made to the crowd; they just get the session’s nine songs, a snatch of Roll Out The Barrel, and a sprightly early version of Walk On, destined for On The Beach. By the time he and the Flyers left LA on tour, Young’s vision would become even more uncompromising: Tonight’s The Night itself would last half an hour, and audiences would become vocally riled by the lack of familiar songs. “We’re going to do an old tune for you now,” the unreliable showman vamps at the Roxy, before lurching into he hitherto unheard Walk On. “Sooner or later it all gets real,” he sings, honestly enough – but from now on, reality would be predicated on his own, very peculiar, terms.
CULTURES OF SOUL. CD/DL/LP
Ronnie Laws (who also plays flute) and etched with pain and sorrow. Lois Wilson
Barbara Dane: she’s beyond great.
with country guitar god Doc Watson – the thread is that voice loaded with humanity. Michael Simmons
★★★★★ The Essential Eric Andersen REAL GONE MUSIC. CD/DL
★★★★ Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS. CD/DL
Our Mother Of Americana finally gets collected: 2-CD set spanning 60 years. For someone dubbed “a gasser” by Louis Armstrong and whom Bob Dylan called “a hero”, Barbara Dane has certainly been overlooked. However, at the age of 90, Dane is finally undergoing a critical renaissance. While she got labelled a folkie because she often plays acoustically and is a devoted political activist, Dane started out as a jazz and blues singer, with a honeyed blues belt reminiscent of Bessie Smith. We hear early sides with nightclubbing jazzmen, live tracks with blues giants Lightnin’ Hopkins, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon, as well as pro-union sing-alongs with Pete Seeger and studio work with a pre-rock Chambers Brothers. There are art songs, anti-Reagan satire and duets
The first career-spann anthology of the grea singer-songwriter. Eric Andersen was considered one of Woody’s children when he emerged during the folk revival of the 1960s. But like Dylan, he’s more than a folk singer – truly one of the original singer-songwriters, transcending dusty boxcar sagas for the examination of existential dilemmas, with the natural sob in his distinctive tenor a powerfully effective emotional conduit. This 2-CD collection extends from a rare duet with Phil Ochs in 1964 and excerpts from his first album (1965’s Today Is The Highway), through his most well-known compositions Thirsty Boots, Violets Of Dawn, Blue River and Is It Really Love At All. His collaborators have included Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Rick Danko, David Bromberg, Joan Baez and Leon Russell – more proof of his limitless range. The download contains an extra nine songs. Michael Simmons
★★★★ Free As You Wanna Be NOW-AGAIN. DL/LP
First time reissue of Houston New Thing! pioneer’s 1970 debut in stereo and mono. Bubbha Thomas would later lead his band into funk, but for the drummer, bandleader and political activist’s first recordings for local label Judnell he was sat firmly at the feet of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, exploring both the interior and exterior struggle via deep jazz and the avant-garde. Recorded at Nashville Sound studio and produced by Thomas with label owner George Nelson, opener Creative Music celebrates art as a means of spiritual ascension through the chaotic clang and dissonance of horns and drums. The eightminute title track charts the civil rights confrontation. “At what price does equality come?” cries Thomas, through frenzied percussion and sax solos, directed by a young
the high Atlantic waves or the bleak Hebridean wind itself had been blessed with a proud singing voice. Andrew Male
Let’s Go To The Dance
ROCKA SHACKA. CD/DL/LP
PINK FLAG. CD/LP
Rare rocksteady, expe produced by the Princ
Progressive punk geni ushers in a new era.
Prince Buster will always be remembered as the King of Ska, yet this excellent compilation reveals that his lesserknown rocksteady productions are equally captivating. Harnessing the top session musicians of the day, including influential guitarist Lynn Taitt, Buster fashioned exceptional rocksteady with Hortense Ellis, the Righteous Flames and Freddy McKay, and voiced great romantic ballads such as Love Each Other and To Be Loved himself. He also morphed The Beatles’ All My Loving into an agreeable rocksteady groove. Larry Marshall’s mournful Wooden Heart has an intense instrumental counterpart in the ultra-rare Rocking In The Field; Dawn Penn’s languorous reworking of Dionne Warwick’s Long Day, Short Night is exquisite, and Errol Dunkley’s My Future Lies Ahead Of Me a previously unreleased killer. With highlights aplenty, the whole shebang is a real winner and feels all the better on doublevinyl format. David Katz
Three years and 154 gigs into their career, Wire produced this, their highestever charting album release, which scraped to Number 39 in late 1979. Sullen opener I Should Have Known Better offers a touchstone song for the burgeoning post-punk era, a precursor to the sullen tones of Bauhaus/Bunnymen and co who followed in their slipstream. Gone is the austere economy of debut Pink Flag, and in its place a greater use of synths and less obtuse approach to melody. High-IQ pop brilliance comes via stand-out track Map Ref. 41°N 93°W (a reference to the geographical centre of the US): “Chorus!” announces Colin Newman, archly. This hardback book/CD reissue comes with extra tracks and on vinyl too, and is a reminder of Wire’s initial and unsurpassed creative purple patch, the sound of four remarkable talents realising a shared new aesthetic vision for next-gen punk. Ben Myers
Young Wu Various
★★★★ Salm Volume 1 ARC LIGHT EDITIONS. LP
2003 document of Gae Psalm singing, release vinyl for the first time. Arc Light Editions release beautifully packaged vinyl reissues of hard-to-find experimental, improv and electronic LPs at reassuringly affordable prices. Yet while previous releases have been artist-led (Arthur Russell, Ingram Marshall, Joan La Barbara), Salm focuses on a tradition and a sound, the unique form of religious worship that is Gaelic psalm singing. Previously available on specialist Celtic music label Ridge, Salm Vol. 1 documents two evenings of congregational praise singing in the Isle of Lewis’s Back Free Church in October 2003. This is strange stuff, where the male ‘precentor’ sings psalm lines to a Lowland melody before the congregation answers en masse, at their own pitch and speed, each adding unique melodic flourishes. The result is eerie, soaring, roughhewn and transcendent, as if
★★★★ Shore Leave BAR NONE. CD/DL/LP
Sole album from choic Feelies offshoot. It took New Jersey guitarniks The Feelies six years to follow 1980’s college-rockdefining debut Crazy Rhythms with The Good Earth, but only one more year to make Shore Leave as Yung Wu. The change of name reflected drummer Dave Weckerman’s shift to vocalist/songwriter, though there’s no other difference beyond the nomenclature, just a more relaxed version of The Feelies’ itchy-scratchy nerdy origins. That said, Shore Leave bears an overarching debt to The Beatles’ Rain, a drone-pop variant of guitarists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million’s minimalist vigour, stated clearest in Eternal Ice and a cover of the Stones’ (Rain-soundalike) Child Of The Moon. Neil Young’s Powderfinger is made over more like (Feelies acolytes) R.E.M., and Eno/Phil Manzanera’s Big Day is rendered even janglier. But for Feelies purists, Spinning reprises some of Crazy Rhythms’ speedy mania. Martin Aston
VINYL PACKAGE OF THE MONTH Bunny Lee & The Aggrovators
Portrait In Jazz By William Claxton
Presents Super Dub Disco Style
JAZZ IMAGES. CD/DL
PRESSURE SOUNDS. CD/DL/LP
Anagogical dubs from ‘Striker’ Lee’s stable.
1979’s Presents Super Dub Disco Style is issued on CD with a bonus disc featuring Tommy McCook & The Aggrovators’ 1977 Super Star Disco Rockers – the pair are issued separately on vinyl. The link is Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, who produced both. The first takes dub into the realms of psychedelia. With Pat Kelly and Stanley ‘Barnabas’ Bryan at the controls, perception’s doors are opened with Shalin Temple Dub’s innovative layering of instruments – snaking horns, haunted organ, drum, bass – with echo, reverb and strange electronic pulses. Elsewhere Super Rockers Dub is peaceful protest; Money In My Pocket Dub utilises the ‘squawky’. The second album is mixed by King Tubby and Prince Jammy. It’s transcendental dub, in particular Lamb’s Bread Herb, an orphic reworking of Yabby You’s Death Trap, the apotheosis of what Lee calls McCook’s ‘far east’ sound. Lois Wilson
Grant Green: from bebop to funk and R&B, he always struck gold.
Eighteen-disc box set marks 30th anniversa of Baker’s death. With his chiselled, movie star good looks, the photogenic trumpeter and singer Chet Baker became the poster boy for West Coast cool jazz in the 1950s. Musically, it was a rich and fertile period for the young horn god, despite his drugs-blighted private life. This particular era is brought to life in vivid detail via this 18-CD retrospective, which presents Baker’s music in tandem with noted US photographer William Claxton’s indelible images of the trumpeter. Baker’s penchant for romantic balladry is the set’s central theme and highlighted on three discs dubbed ‘For Lovers’. Elsewhere, Baker’s significant sides for the Pacific Jazz and Riverside labels are present, including his innovative work with Gerry Mulligan that came to define cool jazz. For those partial to Baker’s burnished horn and dreamy, languid vocals, this is nothing less than a feast. Charles Waring
★★★★ Technicolour ONE LITTLE INDIAN. CD/DL/LP
Heterodox Essex pop trio’s amazing 1996 swansong. First time on vinyl. A working-class Essex trio, inspired by the grey pyretic sounds of Joy Division and Wire, yet fired by Public Enemy, The Young Gods, and the creative power of the Roland S-750 sampler, Disco Inferno spent the early ‘90s crafting chilly, dissembled pop, where the dystopian visions and paranoid sprechstimme of reluctant frontman Ian Crause were backlit by a green-screen of library samples (fireworks, breaking glass), pellucid guitar and doomy post-punk bass. They sold nothing, and in a euphoria born of financial desperation, the trio created this last-gasp masterpiece. Crause’s intense prophetic eye continues to map the hopelessness of the times, but his fragile singing is invested with a nervous luminosity. The drive is forward, the guitar sharp and electric, the ‘obvious’ samples (Lust For Life drums, the Doctor Who theme) sounding gloriously desperate. Failure never felt so beautiful. Andrew Male
★★★ Bring It On (20th Anniversary Edition) VIRGIN/UMC. CD
Reboot of 1998’s Merc winner proves you can too much of a good thi This 48-track, 4-CD box set will test the outer limits of a Gomez fan’s love. It groans with 35 previously unreleased tracks, including 25 demos, BBC sessions, and the Southport band’s 1998 Glastonbury show in its entirety. Unfortunately, the most dedicated followers probably already own this debut’s 10th anniversary edition which features many of the same rare recordings. Since part of the charm of the original album was its rustic, handmade feel, it’s no surprise that some of the newly unearthed demos don’t differ enough from the final product to excite. The most special tracks are the live ones that capture the excitement and freedom of a new band bursting with three significant
$ g Days Re-Revisited Metallica BLACKENED RECORDINGS. EP
uperficially it was a blast – Metallica getting back to their roots, covering favourite heavy metal and punk songs. On a deeper level, this 1987 EP was a shrewdly low-key debut for bassist Jason Newsted, replacing Cliff Burton who was killed in a tour bus crash a year earlier. While the sound is raw and the vibe loose – following a medley of two nasty Misfits numbers is a jokingly out-oftune snippet of Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills – there is reverence and absolute conviction in Metallica’s tributes to the bands that inspired them. Most significant of all is Diamond Head’s Helpless, its speedy, multi-riffed dynamic a template for Metallica’s revolutionary thrash metal. Also featured, for the first time in the UK, is a more left-field selection: Killing Joke’s The Wait. On black, orange vinyl and picture disc. Paul Elliott
singer-songwriters. There are other worthy bits, like a dusty cover of Neil Young’s Unknown Legend and a raw take on Get Miles. But for anyone but the most obsessed fan, less would have been more. Jim Farber
polyrhythmic extravaganza. Both LPs are enhanced by expansive linernotes. Charles Waring
Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz
Funk In France – Paris To Antibes/ Slick! Live At Oil Can Harry’s
Sublime jazz from a Scandinavian legend.
Two, separately availa lost live recordings by jazz guitarist rediscov
There were two distinctive phases in Green's recording career. He played bebopinfluenced jazz up until 1969, after which he branched out into funk and R&B. These two, live recordings – separated by six years – reveal that in a live setting, Green never totally abandoned his straight-ahead roots, blending swinging hard bop workouts with James Brown-inflected funk grooves. Both sets are scorchers, with the former capturing Green in both trio and quartet formats during a rare European tour. There's a deeper and heavier soul and funk quotient on Slick!, recorded in 1975 in Vancouver, which finds Green putting his own guitar-led spin on songs by the Ohio Players, Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder, and the O'Jays, whose For The Love Of Money is transformed into an epic
In late 1979, ill-fated Norwegian singer Toneff and American pianist Dobrogosz recorded an improvised version of My Funny Valentine, which was so remarkable, so sensitive in its approach, that a few years later the duo decided to record nine additional songs in similar vein. Fairytales, the resulting album, proved to be Norway’s bestselling jazz album and in a 2011 poll was declared by Norwegian musicians as the country’s finest album of all time. Now this remastered version is available, enabling a fresh generation of admirers to add it to their collections, filed alongside the equivalent likes of Ella Fitzgerald’s much hailed liaison with Ellis Larkins. It’s all about lyric interpretation. Songs involving texts from, variously, Fran Landesman, Emily Dickinson and Dave Frishberg ensure superior readability, while the inclusion of Kurt Weill’s Lost In The Stars and Jimmy Webb’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress provide further highlights. Fred Dellar
Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias
Mancunian satirists’ 1978 LP ably pastiches punk, new wave, reggae and, on near-hit Heads Down, No Nonsense Mindless Boogie, Status Quo. Some of the jokes have aged better than others. IH
Much under-loved maudlin 1974 glam jewel, re-cut from original production masters, with Steve Harley abetted by Andrew Powell-arranged Abbey Road choirs, piano and strings. Final track Tumbling Down is a lost treasure. PG
Little Miss Dynamite
Ne La Thiass
WORLD CIRCUIT. CD/DL/LP
4’9” but all of it bandsaw voice, blasting through this 23-track comp, 1956-’62. Debut hit Jambalaya would have been precocious even if this Georgia native had been older than 12. Dynamite’s raunchy sex-a-billy wouldn’t be allowed today. DE
The 1996 debut from Youssou N’Dour’s Senegalese protégé is a landmark African recording. Remastered by Lô from the original 1995 Africaonly cassette, its spiritually elevated sounds are richer, sun-warmed and jazzier. JB
Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés 1987-1991
After the internal-logic art rock of reunion album The Tenement Year, Ubu surprised us with the accessible-butstill-warped pop of Cloudland and Worlds In Collision. All in this box, plus bonus demos. IH
Publicity-shy perfectionist Liam Hayes’ exquisite 2002 landmark of obsessional, medium-fi chamber pop. The singer’s less magical, Rundgren-rocking fourth album, 2010’s Korp Sole Roller, also returns in black plastic. DE
Wheels Of Steel
IN THE RED. DL/LP
In 1980, Saxon’s second album delivered classic British heavy metal, inspiring a young Lars Ulrich, and a big hit, 747 (Strangers In The Night). Now added: live tracks from the first Monsters Of Rock festival. PE
Another re-up for a small classic of outsider proto-punk: psychedelic Stooges riffing and droogish electronic modulations, recorded in Daniel Lanois’ Ontario basement circa 1974. Now with bonus live set. JM
Pompitous! Cowboy? Gangster? Joker? Steve Miller, king of tongue-incheek blues rock. By Jim Irvin.
Having a laugh: Steve Miller (centre) and band prepare to take the money and run.
teve Miller’s critical acceptance speech upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 showed how much he cares for being part of the consensus – and for self-appointed gatekeepers. For fiftysomething years this talented journeyman has ridden his own path along the blues, psych, rock and synth-pop trails as The Steve Miller Band, an outfit with only one consistent member, whose first nine albums are now available again from Capitol/UMe on remastered vinyl, initially collected in an enticing, colourful boxed set. Miller’s records may occasionally play dumb – his “whatever works” approach to lyrics (ie, “the pompitous of love”) won’t have given Dylan any sleepless nights – but he has smartly understood that it takes hard work to make music sound effortless. Though his muse is deeply rooted in the blues, having Les Paul as a godfather showed him how pop and technology worked in harmony. As such, his early albums took advantage of synths, mellotrons and sound effects to impart psychedelic flavour. The debut Children Of The Futur produced b Olympic in L oversaw the albums), pro features ban Scaggs (bas (drums) sha Sailor ★★★ sound. Scag keyboard pl Jim Peterma before Brav
“THE RECORD ESPOUSED HIS PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC’S PRIMARY FUNCTION: THE MEANS TO A GOOD TIME.”
World ★★★★ (1969), which included a guest appearance from Paul McCartney (as Paul Ramon), working out his frustrations over The Beatles’ legal clashes on a song called My Dark Hour. The same year’s Your Saving Grace ★★ was a comparatively mundane blues album, then Miller rustled up more varied influences – country rock, Tex-Mex and tango – for the self-produced Number 5 ★★★★ (1970), a record that espoused his philosophy of music’s primary function: the means to a good time. In 1971, a broken neck slowed down Miller’s progress. Makeweight semilive album, Rock Love ★★, didn’t advance his career, but parts of overlooked flop Recall The Beginning… A Journey To Eden ★★★★ (1972) pointed toward his subsequent sound, adding strings and creamy harmonies to the recipe, the title track providing a pretty highlight. 1973’s breakthrough, The Joker ★★★, was a lighthearted but thin rock album lofted by its undeniably brilliant, chart-topping title track, which took him 19 days to perfect. Noting how attention to detail had paid off, Miller devised a new working method. Taking drummer Gary Mallaber and bass player Lonnie Turner into the studio for two weeks, he quickly cut 50 backing tracks, then spent 18 months perfecting all the overdubs and vocals by himself, a blend of spontaneity and fastidiousness that turned ynamite. results ti-platinum n Eagle and Book Of a year later, part of this . ng your the Hall of dvice that following s.
BE WITH. LP
The Coventry Automatics
★★★ Dawning Of A New Era
The Emergency Broadcast Years 1994-1997
Songs That Sound Like Movies
These pre-2 Tone 1978 demos lack the bite of later Specials versions, but the punk and reggae mix still stimulates on formative versions of familiar songs and oddities. IH
5-CD box revisits old material, live trance-outs, abduction concept album Alien 4 (fronted by Ron Tree) and, on Distant Horizons, dalliances with crusty techno. Still freaky. IH
The man behind 1979’s Escape (The Piña Colada Song)’s first three LPs. Knowing, narrative orch-pop songs recall Nilsson, Randy Newman and, at his most snarky, a more homely Warren Zevon. Honest! IH
Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar
BEGGARS ARKIVE. LP
True to the spirit if not the letter of punk, The Lurkers’ 1978 debut slobbers with street-urchin energy, its songs as close as any UK band of the era got to the Ramones for dumb fun. Great tunes too. Now on orange vinyl. KC
Ragas Abhogi & Vardhani IDEOLOGIC ORGAN. CD/DL/LP
From a Seattle house show in 1986, a lo-fi recording of Hindustani classical master Mohiuddin playing his rudra veena, a bassier sitar. Utterly engrossing take on raga. JM
Martin Freeman & Eddie Piller Present
Jazz On The Corner Mod pals’ club jazz playlist: Freeman picks the classics (Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Blossom Dearie, Eddie Harris); Piller’s choices are more esoteric. LW
Jackson’s salty blend of soul and soap opera is at max strength on her first Caught Up album, recorded at Muscle Shoals. Robustly narrated from two sides of a love triangle, it’s powerful, dramatic, and notably self-produced. JB
The Definitive Collection
The Biophonic Boombox Recordings
ANTHOLOGY RECORDINGS. CD/DL/LP
The pick of Gamble & Huff’s Philly soul orchestra ’73-78. Bulging with showtime R&B, funk, jazz, disco, muzak and, later, synthy grooves: let visions of giant velvet bow ties fill your mind. IH
Philadelphia synth trio’s selfreleased ’80s home recordings draw from the kosmische pulses of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze and US pattern music to create an eerily timeless electronica. AM
Rambunctious, eccentric 1969 debut from a minor American institution, now on CD for the first time. Swings wildly from bar-band choogling (a meaty take on C’mon Everybody), to Fugsy takes on Sun Ra and Carla Bley. JM
CHERRY RED. CD/DL
ACID JAZZ. CD/DL/LP
★★★★ Caught Up
The Searcher OST
Duck Stab/Buster & Glen
SONY MUSIC. CD/DL/LP
Thom Zimny’s three-hour doc soundtracked over two discs spanning El’s country-blues roots to pop cultural domination. A 3-CD deluxe ed features the original score by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, plus a ‘roots of Elvis’-style comp of his influences. JB
CHERRY RED/NEW RALPH. CD/LP
A “pREServed Edition” of the queasy listening classic from 1978 adds rehearsal and live takes (highlight: horrorcoreish Semolina, from 2011). Bach Is Dead, they sang. Maybe it was for the best. DE
The Studio Albums 1979-1987
Spiritual Jazz Vol 8: Japan
Classical rock superband’s first seven LPs, plus a live DVD. Originals, plus Satie, Vivaldi and Mozart numbers, from sensible prog to full Hooked On Classics. Bach’s Toccata is Old Spice-level exciting. IH
Not always “Spiritual”, but this survey of the Japanese scene 1961-1983 contains plenty of gold, from straight modal groove to enterprising fusions of east and west (cf Minoru Muraoka’s zen funk). JM
Ackamoor, Idris & The Pyramids 96 Andersen, Eric 104 Andrews, Courtney Marie 96 Arctic Monkeys 95 Ash 94 Baker, Chet 105 Bark Psychosis 103 Barnett, Courtney 95 Bay, James 95 Beach House 89 Belly 88 Black Moth Super Rainbow 89 Bombino 92 Bridges, Leon 95 Buster, Prince 104 Cheneaux, Eric 93 Chvrches 88 Coleman, Ornette 100 Cooder, Ry 90 Daltrey, Roger 89 Dane, Barbara 104 Deadcuts 93 Diawara, Fatoumata 92 Digital, Bobby 102 Disco Inferno 105 Dr. Octagon 96 Drinks 92 Eleventh House 103 Friedberger, Eleanor 86 Gibson, Kenneth James 94 Gomez 105 Green, Grant 105 Gurrumul 92 Hardy, Françoise 88 Hopkins, Jon 89 Iceage 88 International Harvester 102 Irion, Johnny 91 Johnson, Ragnar 102 Kacy & Clayton 91
Lake Street Dive 91 Lee, Bunny & The Aggrovators 105 Lightmen, The 104 Magic Numbers 92 Malkmus, Stephen & The Jicks 94 Messthetics 94 Metallica 105 Miller, Steve 106 Modern Studies 90 Morrison, Van 91 Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices 96 Nelson, Willie 91 Njoku, Tony 90 Orquesta Akokán 94 Ortega, Lindi 9 Parquet Courts 9 Peters, Mark 9 Phair, Liz 10 Rose, Caroline 9 Rouse, Josh 9 Sea And Cake 9 Slug 9 Thievery Corporation 9 Third Eye Foundation 9 Toneff, Radka & Dobrogosz, Steve 10 Townshend, Pete 10 Tubby, King & Riley All Stars 10 VA: More Motown Girls 10 VA: Salm Vol. 1 10 VA: Tokyo Nights 10 Vantzou, Christina Vive La Void Walker, Ryley Ween, Dean Who, The 1 Wire 1
Wooden Shjips Young Wu Young, Neil Young, Neil Youngs, Richard
91 104 103 88 93
COMING NEXT MONTH Ray LaMontagne, Natalie Prass, Father John Misty (pictured), Johnny Marr, The Beat, Weyes Blood, Neko Case, Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy, Theresa Wayman, Jeffrey Lewis, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Stuart Staples and more
rhythm and blues like the Stones and Pretty Things.” Out Of Borstal’s USP is its head-on collision of 1970 sound and vision – R&B, Jesus Christ Superstar, country, bluesy soul, proto-glam and hard rock, with plenty of funky breaks: miraculously, it all hangs together. Offbeat ﬂourishes added to the sense of yobby intrigue; a young actor was hired to narrate the track Borstal, his Cockney banter about casual violence and skinhead fashion interspersed with Beats-evoking bongos and drum rolls, prefacing a brass-heavy, guitar-squealing jam. The best tune was reserved for The Boys Lazed On The Verandah, Peter Sarstedt’s jaunty swing ballad sung (says Gorman) by bassist Francis, inspired by “the lustful prison governors whose houses were open at weekends to the better-behaved – and better-looking – boys in their care,” explains Napier-Bell. Francis also sang the confrontational Fighting, Spitting, Kicking Woman (written by Mike and Tony Newman of Plus, the latter going on to drum for Bowie and Bolan) while Gorman claims the Stonesy guitar on See You Later is his. “But the album sounded nothing like CREDITS us,” he says. Fresh still gamely Tracks: Intro – Borstal Theme/ Shifting The played along – “It was a chance to Blame/ Take What You get a record out, and I’d have done Want/ Back To My Home/ anything to promote our success,” Fighting, Spitting, Kicking he admits. This included having Woman/ Hit & Run/ Long, their precious locks shorn for the bluesy Hendrix fans Long While/ See You LP cover, posed moodily in front of Later/ The Boys Lazed On Brut. But the third group The Verandah/ You Made railings at Alexandra Palace. was bona ﬁde: teen trio Me What I Am/ Borstal After RCA released the album, Fresh, who really had Theme/ Life Is What You Fresh’s promo duties involved won the Weymouth Make It pretending to be borstal boys: talent show. “We played Personnel: Bob Gorman “That’s when it got strange,” says noisy pop-R&B, a bit like (guitar), Kevin Francis Gorman. Leaving the concept at The Yardbirds,” says (bass), Roger Chantler home, the band toured Europe, (drums), various session Fresh guitarist Bob musicians. and on returning, discovered Gorman, calling from Producers: Ray Singer Rocking Horse had ﬁnished a Gran Canaria. “And part and Simon Napier-Bell second Fresh LP, Fresh Today, also of the prize for winning Released: 1970 released in 1970. “Out Of Borstal was a record deal.” Recorded: Olympic had been really well received,” On the plane to New Studios, London says Napier-Bell. [Actor] Sal Mineo York, Singer read Chart peak: n/a ordered a thousand copies, and Brendan Behan’s Borstal Current availability: gave them as Christmas presents. Boy. “RCA wanted a out of print (see Discogs) Jagger liked it too, and bought a concept album so I lot. It hit a nerve with people.” mentioned it to Simon,” he says. Napier-Bell also recalls Singer, But not with posterity. “Ultimately it in a moment of creativity, declaring, destroyed us, because we’d veered so far “Fresh… Out Of Borstal!” The band away from what we were,” says Gorman. could surely mimic delinquent youth; “We were confused and argued too there was just one snag. “Until they much. When I see the guys back in came to London, we didn’t realise how Southampton, we’re still sad about it.” bad [Fresh] were,” says Napier-Bell. Afterwards, Francis ended up a school “So we made the record mostly with caretaker, drummer Roger Chantler musicians.” self-recorded solo albums, while Gorman asn’t like making an album with a backed Joe Tex and Geno Washington, ecalls Singer. “Kevin Francis did a and now plays the circuit in Gran Canaria. als, but other people sang more, “Thanks for the experience, Simon,” he lf included, Simon arranged, and says. “For good or bad, I learned a lot used great musicians like Herbie about the industry. And everything that’s owers and Clem Cattini. happened has led me to here, and I’m Unromantic, I know, but that’s very happy.” how it was.” Singer doesn’t feel particularly guilty The songs were also out of about how Fresh were handled, saying, esh’s control. Except for Rolling “If they’d really been worth their salt, es ballad Long Long While, they’d have pushed everything aside, er and Napier-Bell shared the and moved on.” Yet Napier-Bell admits, ing credits with brothers Peter “We were incredibly high-handed with Clive Sarstedt. Singer also took the band, just horrible. But we thought – eral lead vocals, on Hit & Run, as probably rightly – that’s what the music melessly fun a Little Richard rip-off business was all about. Since then, we’ve You Later was of the Stones’ learnt you’re not meant to do that, so we Tonk Women. “To make a do it with more discretion now. Like l-themed record,” Napier-Bell everyone else does!” “you’d choose tough, upbeat Martin Aston
Reform School’s Out This month’s found cell-wall carvings: bootcamp R&B exploitation with knobs on.
Fresh Out Of Borstal RCA VICTOR, 1970
lmost 50 years ago, a writer/ manager/schemer, who later worked with Bolan, Wham!, Japan and others, found a young R&B group from Southampton. Together they were responsible for a music business parable deﬁned by opportunity, promise and exploitation, producing a very British curio of grimy rock/pop vérité circa 1970. That it was a concept album about life in borstal only makes it more bizarre. Skyping from Thailand, Simon Napier-Bell recalls its creation. He’d formed Rocking Horse Productions with singer-turned-producer Ray Singer, who helmed Peter Sarstedt’s 1969 UK Number 1 Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). The duo’s plan was devious and daring “Everything was happening for Br bands in America,” recalls Napier“so we visited the major US labels, told each we had this amazing gro that we didn’t have time to record them before ﬂying out, but that we’d signed them on the spot. We didn’t have a single group, we wer just having fun.” Napier-Bell claims Rocking Horse scored 11 deals for 11 bands all discovered when judging a talent contest on Weymouth Pier (“Simon does tell wonderful stories,” observes Singer). In fact, they initially scored three deals. Two were for bands fabricated by Napier-Bell – Plus, whose The Seven Deadly Sins fused hard rock to a Catholic mass, and
Big house music: glowering in their prison blues, Fresh (left to right) Kevin Francis, Bob Gorman and Roger Chantler; (below) Simon Napier-Bell and Ray Singer (right) in deal-making mode.
“SAL MINEO ORDERED A THOUSAND COPIES, AND GAVE THEM AS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.” Simon er-Bell
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SHEFF IELD STEEL GOES PLATIN UM
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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
UK£5.00 US$9.99 CAN$11.99
“We would leave the stage smeared wit
The Jackson 5 10 Goin’ Back To Indiana MOTOWN 1971, REMASTERED CD 2010 £10.41
You Say: “He’d just turned 13, but MJ’s talent was already awesome.” Kenny Hunt, via e-mail The soundtrack to a goofy TV special guest-starring Diana Ross, Bill Cosby and a raft of basketball players, the meat of Goin’ Back To Indiana is gleaned from a raucous homecoming gig at the height of their fame. Highlights include an ominous lurch through Isaac Hayes’ reading of Walk On By (later sampled by Public Enemy for By The Time I Get To Arizona), a couple of agreeably frenetic Sly Stone covers and, best and most unlikely of all, a blissfully funky rewrite of Traffic’s Feelin’ Alright, a song Hayes would also cover in 1973. Of several J5 live albums, Goin’ Back To Indiana best captures the choreographed riot of their concerts.
Michael Jackson and The Jacksons Pop-R&B genius. By Stevie Chick.
he King Of Pop had hardscrabble beginnings. Born to shop assistant Katherine and steel-worker/bar-band guitarist Joe in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson ﬁrst performed alongside older brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon as The Jackson 5 on his seventh birthday. A combination of talent, toil and the ever-present threat of Joe’s cruel retributions swiftly vaulted the brothers from high school talent contests to the attention of Motown Records honcho Berry Gordy, who moved the Jacksons to Hollywood and teamed them with his new songwriting/production team The Corporation. Their ﬁrst four singles – I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, I’ll Be There – were chart-toppers, thanks to The Corporation’s brilliant material and the dazzling, prodigious gifts of Michael, an all-singing, all-dancing pre-teen phenomenon who was soon spun off into a parallel solo career. But Motown wasn’t sophisticated enough to evolve with its young charges, so as Jacksonmania inevitably waned, the Jacksons decamped to Epic, cutting two modestly successful albums with Philly Soul
Fiat tux: The Jackson 5 in March 1975 (from left) Tito, Jackie, Michael, Jermaine and Marlon; (far right) MJ turns down the Technicolor for his solo career, January 1979.
“ THRILLER REMAINS THE BESTSELLING ALBUM OF ALL TIME.”
supremos Gamble & Huff before taking the creative reins themselves for 1978’s disco-themed platinum-seller Destiny. The following year, Michael revived his solo career with Off The Wall, a monster hit marking his ﬁrst collaboration with producer Quincy Jones. 1982 follow-up Thriller – which remains the best-selling album of all time – helped usher him to his place atop pop’s throne, where he remained for the rest of the 20th century. But this imperial phase was marred by tabloid infamy and accusations of child abuse, and the disarray of his private eventually disengaged his previously llible pop touch: 2001’s Invincible was a relative disappointment and the last album before his 2009 death, weeks ahead of a ‘comeback’ tour. His ﬁnal years were dark and tragic, but the art he created continues to inspire, memorialising a peerless performer, singer and songwriter whose brilliant vision deﬁned pop itself for several decades. Remember him that way.
the best comments.
The Jacksons Destiny EPIC 1978, CD £12.74
You Say: “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) may be their best ever song.” Steve Read, via e-mail There was an impressive swagger to that title, but it wasn’t mere destiny that saw it shift four million copies. The 5 had flirted with disco before, but their first album to assert complete creative control placed songcraft and rhythm on equal terms. It led with the album’s sole cover, Blame It On The Boogie (by improbably named Brit hopeful Mick Jackson), an irrepressibly joyful pop confection, while the other big smash, Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground), was a deathlessly danceable beast. But Destiny had depth: check the gossamer strings and soft-focus balladry of Push Me Away, or the wry storytelling of That’s What You Get (For Being Polite).
The Jackson 5 The Jackson 5 Michael Michael 9Unreleased I Want You Back! 8 Jackson with 7 Lookin’ Through 6 Jackson The Windows Bad The Jackson 5
Jacksons 5The Triumph
MOTOWN 2009, CD £4.16
MOTOWN 1995, CD £22
You Say: “Superb quality outtakes and rarities collection.” Phil Castiglione, via e-mail
You Say: “Bypasses the extraneous stuff on the original albums.” Tom Partington, via e-mail
You Say: “His last great record.” Suzanne Murray, via e-mail
You Say: “A perfect accompaniment to Off The Wall… sad they couldn’t stay together.” Will Davies, via e-mail
An impressively solid raid of the Motown archives, this selection of mothballed Jackson 5 nuggets offers lively excerpts from a ’70s TV variety show hosted by comedian Flip Wilson, a souped-up outtake of their proto-disco banger Dancing Machine, and a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Man’s Temptation that suggests gravitas was not beyond the juvenile Michael’s reach. Best of all is Buttercup, a jazzy, swoonsome 1974 ballad penned and produced by Stevie Wonder, from a proposed collaborative album that never made it past the planning stages. On the evidence of this dulcet track, it was a missed opportunity.
Even as veteran Motown stars like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye were ditching the label’s ‘factory’ organisation in favour of creative control over their own auteurist visions, The Jackson 5’s success was lateera proof that the old school system could still deliver brilliance. But just like Motown’s early long-players, the Jacksons’ albums shamelessly balanced the singles with bubblegum filler and pedestrian retreads of the label’s classics. So this ’69-75 4-CD box set might be the best way to explore beyond the clan’s greatest hits, cherry-picking the best album tracks, along with a CD’s worth of rare and unreleased recordings.
Thriller was an impossible feat to follow, but Bad tried valiantly, and at times perhaps too hard. Even a Scorsese-directed promo couldn’t land the title track’s macho bombast – Michael was a lover, not a fighter, and Bad’s best moments were love songs: the giddy, light-headed The Way You Make Me Feel, the billowing, brilliantly overblown devotional of I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, a duet with Siedah Garrett. Elsewhere, Man In The Mirror worked alchemical magic, finding poignancy and uplift in well-worn self-help tropes, while CD bonus track Leave Me Alone toyed pointedly with Jacko’s ‘Wacko’ image, lashing out at the tabloid’s laying siege upon his ever-shrinking private life.
Off The Wall had made Michael a bona fide solo sensation, but he wasn’t too big yet to rejoin his brothers for another multi-platinum group effort. Nonetheless, the Jacksons were not a fraternity of equals, and Triumph is very much cast in Michael’s image, sounding like both a retread of Off The Wall and a dry run for Thriller. Which, as it turns out, is no bad thing: Can You Feel It remains the greatest foot-stomping anthem in the Jackson songbook, Everybody is zephyr-light and anticipates the dreaminess of Human Nature, while the sleek This Place Hotel’s stark declaration that “Hope is dead!” commits gleeful murder on the dancefloor.
MOTOWN 1972, REMASTERED CD 2016 £10.26
You Say: “Consistently good.” George Cheng, via e-mail Their previous album, 1971’s Maybe Tomorrow, marked the end of the Jacksons’ tenure with the Corporation – the team were responsible for only three tracks here. But while this sixth studio set began a period of transitional uncertainty for the 5, it’s one of their stronger albums, relying less on the Motown formula, more on booming Latinofunk excursions (Don’t Want To See Tomorrow), a piano-led barrel through Jackson Browne’s Doctor My Eyes, and an epic title track penned by Clifton Davis, blending sophisticated harmony arrangements and thrilling Shaftinfluenced machine-gun string blitzes for the Jacksons’ most ambitious song yet.
EPIC 1987, REMASTERED CD 2012 £5.99
EPIC 1980, REMASTERED CD 2009 £6.97
The Jackson 5 ABC MOTOWN 1970, CD £11.77
Michael Jackson Thriller
You Say: “There’s something perfect and ageless about all of it, not just the title song .” Gary Johnson, via e-mail
You Say: “One of the all-time greatest albums.” Hussain Miah, via e-mail
The strongest album of their bubblegum era, ABC boasted two of the 5’s finest singles with The Corporation – the title track, a bristling downpour of hooks and pop invention, and The Love You Save, which was the same, only more so – along with an unexpectedly convincing cover of Funkadelic’s I’ll Bet You, and a raft of Motown standards, given a unique new spin when voiced by 12-year-old Michael. His vigorous tears through Smokey Robinson’s (Come Round Here) I’m The One You Need and Stevie Wonder’s Don’t Know Why I Love You are highlights, Michael’s fierce, precocious delivery explained on 2-4-6-8: “I may be a little fella, but I have all the heart of Texas”.
The ambition displayed on Thriller is still breathtaking: not content with being one of soul’s hottest stars, Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album eyed up total world domination. Thriller confirmed him as pop polymath without equal, rubbing creative shoulders with the likes of Paul McCartney and Eddie Van Halen, drawing funk, disco, soul and even heavy rock into his vortex and owning them; and, via John Landis’s unforgettable promo for the titletrack, breaching MTV’s unspoken ‘colour barrier’. Thriller confirmed that Jackson was a talent that wouldn’t be contained by prosaic boundaries: the music he made was, simply, pop, and he was the King of it.
EPIC 1982, CD £5.99
Michael Jackson Off The Wall EPIC 1979, CD £5.59
You Say: “Wacky, batty esoteric pop that har the best of funk, disco and The Beatles.” Eoghan Lyng, MOJO Facebook Jackson’s true triumph was Thriller’s predecesso By 1979, disco was already on the wane, but Off The Wall transcended fad or genre, bending the groove to Michael’s will. Here, he took it to the nth level for Burn This Disco Out, or paired it with delicate tornado strings and horns for the mindwarping pop perfection of Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, or fused it with quiet storm for the blissful Rock With You. Away from the dancefloor, I Can’t Help It (co-written by Stevie Wonder) was a gorgeous ballad, coining a new, more mature sound for Jackson, one emphasise by the string-laden melancholy of She’s Out Of
Michael was a pioneer of the music video, so any Jacko library is incomplete with out a collection of his visual output: Michael Jackson’s Vision (Epic, 2010) is a pleas ingly exhaustive compendi um, including Jacksons clips along the way. Biography wise, J Randy Taraborrelli’s Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole at it prom ost Bad tchy, first post ompila ael (Epic, sts a fine uichi s Behind k from the ssions. h brilliant nists, brothers ourish as s, and their ve outputs or serious completists only.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT Simon’s first record with Garfunkel, 1957’s Hey, Schoolgirl – credited to Tom & Jerry – featured Simon’s father Lou on bass. ● After seeing Simon & Garfunkel’s live debut at Folk City in 1964, David Geffen, then working at the William Morris Agency, told Garfunkel that he “should stay in school.” ● Simon sang on BBC radio for the first time in 1965, on the religious programme Five To Ten. His song A Church Is Burning outraged the Beeb’s head of religious broadcasting.
Simon says A fully authorised and forensically detailed biography of Rhymin’ Simon. By David Fricke.
Wherever we may find him: Paul Simon at Wembley Studios, 1966.
Paul Simon: The Life ★★★★ Robert Hilburn SIMON & SCHUSTER. £14.99
ate in this unusual hybrid of personal testimony and forensic biography, Paul Simon – a painstaking songwriter, protective of his creative control on records – explains why he did over 100 hours of interviews for this book but did not write it himself or demand the ﬁnal cut. “I’m not drawn to big observations about it,” the singer says of his halfcentury in platinum-and-Grammy clover and the costs fully tallied here, including a string of failed relationships and the long drama of his vocal bond with Art Garfunkel. “You pay a price for fame,” Simon concedes, “but I’m not inclined to calculate it.”
“ARTIE’S JUST WORKING OUT HIS DEMONS.” Paul Simon
He leaves that to Robert Hilburn, who wrote 2013’s deﬁnitive Johnny Cash: The Life and was the chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times for 36 years: “I’m neurotically driven,” Simon told Hilburn back in 1973, confessing his constant fear of writer’s block. That early trust reaps dividends now. Hilburn threads incisive recall from Simon’s inner circle – boyhood pals; ex-wives Peggy Harper and the late Carrie Fisher; studio associates and inspirations including both Everly Brothers – with thorough reporting and extensive breakdowns of turning-point albums (1968’s Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel’s delicate peak of unity, and Graceland, the 1986 South African gamble that saved Simon’s career in middle age) as well as humbling missteps such as the 1980 ﬁlm One Trick Pony and 1998’s Broadway disaster The Capeman. Hilburn’s access and narrative licence sheds new light on Simon’s ascending years: his middle-class Jewish upbringing in Queens, New York, where he ﬁrst showed his competitive edge on the baseball ﬁeld; Simon’s pop factory apprenticeship making cheesy singles, initially with Garfunkel, under lame pseudonyms; and his awakening as a singer and composer via the British folk revival during formative trips to the UK in 1964 and ’65. Simon inherited much of his urgency to excel from his father Lou, a danceband musician who never made the big
time yet didn’t cut his son’s ﬁrst records any slack. “Lou’s early criticisms were right,” says a Queens friend. “That honesty stuck with Paul.” By 1964, Simon – of elﬁn height, with already thinning hair – was ﬁnding his charisma, singing I Am A Rock at an English folk club where “girls were screaming, and old ladies were jumping up and down,” according to a stunned eyewitness. Garfunkel is the pale rider haunting each page: dependent on Simon for words to sing in a partnership that was brittle and uneasy from the start; eager for reunion after the 1970 split; easily wounded in estrangement. “I don’t even read them any more,” Simon says at one point of his old school friend’s public jabs. “Artie’s just working out his demons.” It is a cool but characteristic dismissal. Even with the star riding shotgun instead of in the driver’s seat, Paul Simon: The Life moves like the singer’s best records – with enriched but even momentum. As Simon points out, recalling the ﬁrst time he saw Elvis Presley on TV, “I knew I couldn’t beat him. But I still felt like I could make it. I just had to go softer.”
All Gates Open: The Story Of Can
★★★★ Rob Young & Irmin Schmidt FABER & FABER. £25
Double-pronged history/ impressionistic memoir of Krautrock titans. An active group for seven years, by 1975 Can’s fan club numbered between 300 and 400 greatcoated heads. But while bigger-selling contemporaries have faded, Can’s in-themoment telepathic conjurations continue to crackle with insane life. This superb and only occasionally ‘official’ biography recounts how their unique entity sparked, grew, peaked and dissolved, with copious interviews with members and intimates, fascinating new insights (the real reason for the 1977 estrangement of bassist Holger Czukay is scandalous) and as sure a grasp of Can’s music, whether live, on film or live, as this reviewer has read. Can keyboardist Schmidt takes over for part two’s Can Kiosk, a free-ranging, self-described “collage” of diaries, dreams and discussion with Canadmirers including Mark E Smith, Wim Wenders and Nick Kent, which reflects on the group’s origins, practice and legacy in ways that are by turns severe, droll, tender and pithy. Can fans, get your orders in. Ian Harrison
and early death. His determination to turn his life around and pursue performance rhyme – inspired equally by Bob Marley, Patrik Fitzgerald and John Cooper Clarke – gained vital traction as early ’80s Thatcherite austerity bit hard. A self-styled anarchist, Benjamin Zephaniah doesn’t shirk naming names or apportioning blame as he draws disturbing parallels between Brexit Britain and the troubled times where he found his voice. Vivid, frank and to the point, yet bristling with compassion, this is a rousing romp through a life less ordinary and a timely reminder of art’s redemptive force. Andy Cowan
Cam Cobb JAWBONE. £14.95
First telling of San Francisco group’s bedevilled history in book form.
★★★ Garth Cartwright FLOOD GALLERY PUBLISHING. £12.99
Heavy-going history of this nation’s vinyl emporia, from 19th century to the present.
The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah
★★★★ Benjamin Zephaniah SIMON & SCHUSTER. £20
OBE-swerving Brum poet, playwright and national treasure takes stock. While the first hints of Zephaniah’s future as Britain’s premier dub poet came when he started rapping Bible passages for a church pastor aged eight, domestic carnage precluded a proper schooling, as the undiagnosed dyslexic and accomplished pickpocket embarked upon a series of hustles that signalled a oneway trajectory towards prison
In a valiant attempt to shatter the gender stereotype of record shops as the preserve of blokes with personality disorders, the cover shows Björk rifling through a ‘Fusion’ section, and the early pages depict two female shop owners (an early-’60s Shirley Bassey, and Ashli Todd from Britain’s oldest record shop, Spillers in Cardiff). In a colourful foreword, meanwhile, comedian Stewart Lee compares the author to the 17th-century antiquarians who vainly sought to protect our megalithic remains from lunk-headed destruction. Much love (and anger) doubtless fuels Cartwright’s compulsive documentation of this latterly endangered retail world. From the initially waxcylinder-purveying HMV, via label-launching mavericks like Virgin, Rough Trade, Small Wonder and Beggars Banquet, through to the death of Woolworths, Our Price and countless indies nationwide, there’s many a detailed tale told, with cameos from the likes of sometime counterworker at Bromley’s A.T. Furlong & Sons, David Bowie. Still: it has ‘dad’s birthday’ written all over it. Andrew Perry
All In The Downs: Reflections On Life, Landscape & Song
One Last Experience: The Jimi Hendrix Experience Live At The Royal Albert Hall February 1969
★★★★ What’s Big And Purple and Lives In The Ocean: The Moby Grape Story
Going For A Song: A Chronicle Of The UK Record Shop
problems with first manager Matthew Katz, but Moby Grape fans will lap this up. Jon Savage
Moby Grape began 1967 with a terrific first album and a major label deal with Columbia. Several events in that summer – having their prime evening slot bumped at Monterey; being arrested on drugs charges; suffering a hype overkill – derailed their extraordinary momentum, and the rest was drug deranged psychosis and a vain attempt to recapture the initial magic. The result, nevertheless, was three, arguably four, fascinating albums that define the San Francisco Sound. Cam Cobb tells this emblematic story well. The group’s careening trajectory from formation until the departure of Skip Spence is fleshed out, and his writing about the music is insightful and passionate. There are flaws. He begins with 80 pages about the 1971 reunion album, 20 Granite Creek, and I could have done with more detail about the derailment of Skip Spence and the group’s
Ben Valkhoff PICTURESOFJIMI.COM. £32
Lavish chronicle of Jimi’s last London concert; with previously-unseen photos. On February 24 1969, Jimi Hendrix played his last indoor British concert at the Royal Albert Hall; a chaotic jam-cum-guitarsmashing rampage compared to the previous week’s more subdued display at the same venue. One of the European super-fans who kept Jimi’s freak flag flying during leaner pre-Experience Hendrix times, Valkhoff experienced his lifeshaping close encounter after sneaking into the afternoon soundcheck on the 24th, photographing the band in an empty RAH, and then later, the show itself. It’s a refreshing, sometimes startling change from the familiar images of Hendrix at the time, with Valkhoff’s black-and-white photos bolstered by his forensic account of the day’s events and Jimi’s activities over this period: starting with the uproar of January’s Lulu TV show mutiny, and finishing with Noel Redding’s departure in June. Valkhoff’s beautifully presented labour-of-love is underscored by the feeling that this tumultuous era is ending, although never that Jimi’s days are now numbered. Kris Needs
Everyone’s welcome: Can in 1988 (from left) Michael Karoli, Damo Suzuki, Jaki Liebezeit, Malcolm Mooney, Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay.
Shirley Collins STRANGE ATTRACTOR PRESS. £15
A poignant story of tragedy, triumph and murder ballads. The recent The Ballad Of Shirley Collins movie and 2016’s Lodestar album mean the story of Shirley Collins’ return to active service after a 38-year break is now quite familiar. No great revelations here, then, but it is still a cracking tale and Shirley entertains with wry anecdotes, compelling honesty, sharp self-effacement and insights into the traditional songs that consume her. She doesn’t mess around; right from the outset she goes to the heart of the problems that rendered her silent all those years, detailing how she met, fell in love with , married and was ultimately betrayed by Ashley Hutchings. Her dispassionate telling is far more affecting than any angry revenge diatribe. There is some crossover with her previous book, America Over The Water, about Collins’ collecting adventures with Alan Lomax; but, gently guiding us through her rise, fall and rise, while expounding with relish on the wonder of traditional song, this is an engaging read. Colin Irwin
Atypical girls: life-changing rebels Albertine (left) and Palmolive.
Listen up An overlooked punk band get to tell their story. By Lois Wilson.
Here To Be Heard: The Story Of The Slits
★★★★ STARCLEANER/MOVIEHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT. C/DVD/DL
“THEY WERE scared of us,” says Viv Albertine of The Slits’ audience, in director William Badgley’s fantastic documentary on the band. “These guys didn’t know whether to fuck us or kill us, they were so confused.”
From 1976 to ’82 The Slits confounded all musical and gender expectation by creating an extraordinary noise that was labelled punk but encompassed so much more. “They were an avant-garde Afro-jazz motherfucking gang that no one else could touch,” says Don Letts, DJ and their first manager. “It was truly original,” adds writer Vivien Goldman. “A new sort of tribe striving for an equality that’s unknown in the regular world.” The Slits’ story unfolds from chaotic beginnings to celebratory reunion ending through candid insight from the band’s core – Albertine, Tessa Pollitt, Paloma McLardy aka Palmolive, and the late Ari Up – with extra detail from original guitarist Kate Korus, later drummers Budgie (Banshees) and Bruce Smith
than this morbid corner of the pop world. Ben Myers
27: Gone Too Soon
★★ Director: Simon Napier-Bell BULLDOG FILMS. DVD
Revelation-free ex of rock mortality.
This attempt to discover why an abundance of rock stars die at the age of 27 stumbles at the first hurdle when Tom Robinson remarks that more have died at 26 or 28. Simon Napier-Bell is well placed to explore the subject and calls upon plenty of music biz contacts, but the tone of these thin overviews of Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain and Winehouse is akin to Channel 5’s Autopsy. Pop star insight from members of Years & Years, The Feeling and Palma Violets feel entirely random, the psychology is cod and the “reefer madness”style footage somewhat stock. Paul Gambaccini’s assertion that Kurt Cobain was a one-hit wonder is also just plain wrong, though we do learn that Kurt’s mother’s famous “that stupid club” quote actually referred to the suicides of two uncles rather
Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story
ongoing passion for grease monkeying, and why Les Paul and Cliff Gallup rock. Ultimately, Beck comes across as the Ernest Shackleton of guitar exploration, Nigel Tufnell’s much-loved lookalike, and a 73-year-old with surprisingly toned biceps. James McNair
★★★★ Director: Matthew Longfellow EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT. DVD
The full Beck-Ola, f Yardbird to able in of Nessun Dorma.
“He’s having a conversation with you – it’s just that he’s not singing,” says Jimmy Page here of Beck’s hyper-articulate musicianship. From Slash to David Gilmour to Ronnie Wood, the sharpest axes in town line up to echo the sentiment, praising Jeff’s uncompromising love affair with the guitar. Matthew Longfellow’s affectionate 90-minute portrait also gleans plenty from Beck himself, who explains his part in the birth of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, why there was no point searching for another male singer after Rod’s stint in The Jeff Beck Group, how the 1958 movie Hot Rod Gang fired his
The Doors: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
(Pop Group/PiL), plus Letts, Goldman, The Raincoats’ Gina Birch, producer Dennis Bovell and the Pistols’ Paul Cook. “We were girls on a mission,” says Albertine, who describes Ari as “a shaman” she could channel all her insecurities through. Rehearsal and live footage captures their magnetic quality, the performances intense, captivating, the group an explosion of colour, vibrancy and fun. “You wanted to shock people out of their complacency,” says Palmolive. For Birch, seeing them was a revelation. “A lifechanging thing,” says The Raincoats’ singer. “This complete raw energy, it unlocked something in me and suddenly I was standing there thinking, I want to do this too.” Intimate footage taken at Ari’s mum Nora Forster’s home shows just how close the original four were, spending Christmases ogether and dancing to reggae played on Ari’s Dansette. “I felt I found my people,” ays Pollitt. Pollitt’s scrapbook from the time provides another personal touch. It’s filled with cuttings, including a Zig Zag front over and a News Of The World spread with the heading, “These girls make the ex Pistols look like choirboys.” While sensationalism and hostility dogged them – at one show Ari is slashed – they continued to push boundaries on their 1979 tour which saw the bill completed by Don Cherry, Creation Rebel and Prince Hammer – the original punky reggae party. For Cherry’s teenage daughter, Neneh, who got to join The Slits on-stage, it was “a dream come true”. As was the reconfigured line-up’s 2005 reunion for Ari and Pollitt, as it took them to a young audience in the States before Ari’s death in 2010. Albertine, meanwhile, continues to channel her sedition into her writing and concludes, reassuringly, “We were those people, we were those rebels and we still are”.
from the late director Murray Lerner’s original footage, the film showcases Morrison’s dedicated vocalising, and as such is a reminder that he remains one of rock’s finest singers, blessed with a natural instrument that was equal parts nightclub crooner and roadhouse blues shouter. The other Doors’ eclectic influences stand out: organist Manzarek’s classical chops, guitarist Krieger’s blues, flamenco and Indian music, and drummer Densmore’s jazz mastery. Michael Simmons
★★★★ Director: John Albarian EAGLE ROCK. DVD/BR/DL
The final film of Ji The Doors live. On August 30, 1970, The Doors performed one of their last concerts with Jim Morrison at the Isle Of Wight Festival, before Jim left for Paris and sunk “into the big sleep” a year later. Facing a jail sentence for allegedly exposing himself at a Miami gig, and burnt out on the rock-star trained-seal routine, he was sober and subdued in front of 600,000 fans. Recut
The Parkinsons: A Long Way To Nowhere
★★★★ Director: Caroline Richards BLUEBELL FILMS. DVD
Noughties punk’s noble shit-or-bust tale. “You’re a bunch of knobheads,” drummer Nick Sanderson tells his bandmates The Parkinsons, fondly, on a high-spirited 2003 tour of Japan, “that are great.” Those watching this rapturous, feral, poignant but ultimately uplifting documentary might
well concur. A Camden-based group from central Portugal with a trusting but sincere belief in the power of Pistolsmeet-Iggy-meets-Cramps punk rock, they were briefly ablaze in the early noughties. Their peak as naked-in-thecrowd contender-agitators who drank lager out of their shoes is illustrated with searing gig footage from the toilet circuit and beyond, plus other havoc, such as them scrapping with bouncers who then CS gas the unruly crowd. But however hard they tour, the next step eludes them, and the band relate their drift to disintegration with emotional candour. With 90 minutes of extras, there’s also a happier ending we won’t spoil. Ian Harrison
Abracadaver! Grateful Dead founders and the band’s eternal chalk and cheese embark on their ﬁrst tour as a duo. By David Fricke.
Bob Weir & Phil Lesh Radio City Music Hall, New York City
Jay Blakesburg (5)
or the remaining veterans, life beyond the Grateful Dead has not changed much – in practical, working terms – from the one they knew inside the original, touring maelstrom. Only three days before this show, singer-guitarist Bob Weir, 70, was in Florida with Dead & Company, his current gigging enterprise with drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart and, in guitarist John Mayer, an able ringer for the late Jerry Garcia. The previous week, bassist Phil Lesh was on-stage at his Bay Area club Terrapin Crossroads with the latest version of his Dead-repertory collective, Phil Lesh & Friends. The leader, a livertransplant and cancer survivor, is now 78. Still, there is profound precedence at Radio City, the first of six theatre dates spread across a week in New York, Boston and Chicago. Weir and Lesh – the eternal chalk and cheese of the Dead in age difference, rock’n’roll character and improvising vocabulary – are on the road in a strictly-duo format for the first time in their performing history. There is acute, supportive percussion at a stand-up kit by Wally Ingram, who has worked with David Lindley and Sheryl Crow. But for two long sets, the unrelenting focus is on Weir and Lesh – who clashed over the Dead’s business and legacy after Garcia’s passing in 1995; co-fronted the band Furthur over five, rocky years; and went their separate ways after the Fare Thee Well reunion shows in 2015 – engaging with their canon and each other in a stark, revelatory setting with no fallback zone. In the Dead, Weir and Lesh were the subtle rhythmic spine and the fluid, melodic certainty between the double drumming and Garcia’s spiralling leads. Tonight, the two men with the familiar comfort of Uncle Joh Band from Workingman’s Dead, quickly up the contrasts in their unique drive. instrumental breaks, Weir – who now looks like the elder partner, in his whaling-captain spray of stone-grey beard – is a jubilant storm of strumming and slicing flourishes on acoustic guitar as Lesh solos through the fray, exploring the tune’s byways like a low-end Garcia. A jaunty Friend Of The Devil, the ascending exchanges in Bird Song and a sly zigza – via a spurt of railroad boogie – into the stoned gait of He’s Gone highlight complementary momentum of Weir’s psychedelic impulses and the Bach-lik rigour of Lesh’s walking bass. There is an early left turn in repert
No fallback zone: Bob Weir in his Birkenstocks (main pic, left) and Phil Lesh in his element (main pic, right) – a Dead duo backed by Wally Ingram on drums.
“WEIR IS A JUBILANT STORM AS LESH SOLOS THROUGH THE FRAY LIKE A LOW-END GARCIA.”
one that didn’t even make the setlists at Fare Thee Well: American Beauty’s Operator, the only original song on a Dead studio LP by the band’s first casualty, founding organist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who died in 1973. Lesh takes the mike in his friend’s absence with a touching quaver framed by Weir’s bluesy filigrees. Other surprises come with juxtaposition. Weir kicksoff the second set with a virile barking-R&B vocal in Loose Lucy; Lesh follows with an earthy croon through the traditional ballad Peggy-O, an enduring feature on Dead tours for Garcia’s tremulous tenor. The spectral expanse of Mountains Of The Moon from 1969’s Aoxomoxoa – with Weir on a Stratocaster, adding tension and treble to his non-linear rhythm guitar – segues through a brief reprise of Bird Song to the urgent, angular climb of Let It Grow, the finale of the Weather Report Suite from 1973’s Wake Of The Flood. The stage presence is all business, of course. Weir makes a game attempt at banter with the adoring crowd, prefacing Bird Song with a bawdy story about Pigpen and his girlfriend at the time – Janis Joplin – complete with mockorgasm noises. But when they aren’t singing, Weir and Lesh turn to each other in close listening and anticipation: noting any shift in the other’s improvising; ready to respond – or lead – when a new path emerges. The purity of focus shifts the next night at Radio City – Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio joining Weir, Lesh and Ingram for the whole second set – and in Boston, where former Bob Dylan guitarist and Phil & Friends alumnus Larry Campbell guests with his wife, singer Teresa Williams. This show, however, is a stunning introduction in sustained close-up to a bond that, despite a few cracks over time, has never broken and still faces forward. The encore choice is fitting: Lesh’s healing ballad Box Of Rain. And earlier, before the Lost Sailor/Saint Of Circumstance medley, Weir recalls a crisis of confidence he had years ago during a walk in h ds. “It came to me,” he says. “I don’t at I’m looking for. But I just gotta keep t it.” The truckin’ continues.
SETLIST Uncle John’s Band / Operator / Ramble On Rose / Friend Of The Devil / Bird Song / He’s Gone / Lost Sailor / Saint Of Circumstance / Loose Lucy /Peggy-O / Me And My Uncle / Mountains Of The Moon / Bird Song (reprise) / Let It Grow / A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna t Fade Away / ain
SETLIST Lying With You / Ring A Ring O’Roses / I’m A Lie / Sylvia Says / Songbird / The Songs That We Sing / Les Crocodiles / Deadly Valentine / Kate / Charlotte For Ever / Rest/ Heaven Can Wait / Les Oxalis / Runaway / Lemon Incest
Steppin’ Out Family histories, new starts and a touch of Kanye. By Sophie Harris.
Framed: on-stage in the neon-lit basement of the Mojo Club.
Charlotte Gainsbourg Mojo Club, Hamburg
Katja Ruge (3)
t took me such a long time to admit that I could do live shows,” says Charlotte Gainsbourg, backstage at the Mojo Club. “It wasn’t part of my culture at all. I lived with my parents’ records all my life, but my father was so sick with stage fright.” There’s another aspect to the intensity of performing live this time around. In 2014, Gainsbourg moved from Paris to New York following the sudden death of her sister, the photographer Kate Barry. Her fourth album, Rest, took four years to materialise, with its creator writing her own lyrics for the ﬁrst time. Combining drama and disco with melancholy and understatement, it is her most intimate work to date. “Carrying my sister inside those songs in live shows is very touching,” she says. “I’m not scared about being sad all the
“ I’M NOT SCARED ABOUT BEING SAD ALL THE TIME.”
time. I’m very focused on those songs while I perform them, and happy to be there.” It feels right that the tour begins here in Hamburg. This ebullient, forgiving port city is a good place for ﬁrst starts – Brahms and The Beatles cut their teeth here – and for starting over. In the heart of the red-light district, the Mojo Club heaves with an immaculately turned-out, motionless crowd –
a perfect match for its sleek, minimalist architecture. The stage set-up is cool, too, with glowing white neon rectangles cutting through the darkness. One can feel a collective intake of breath as Gainsbourg takes the stage. Seated at the piano, she’s framed by the light strips, putting her at a glamorous remove from the audience. As soft as Gainsbourg’s voice is, there’s a toughness at work here, too. There’d have to be, given the subject matter of these songs: opener Lying With You recalls her experience of lying next to the body of her father Serge Gainsbourg after he died. While some of the album’s more reﬂective songs don’t quite ﬁnd the lift they need in this rather airless venue, numbers like gossamer disco strut Sylvia Says really soar. At the gloriously noisy climax of Deadly Valentine, strobes kick into action, Gainsbourg leans artfully against a neon frame and – for a moment – she smiles. But it’s the show’s ﬁrst encore that feels like a glorious reveal; it’s a delicate cover of Kanye West’s self-disparaging hip-hop anthem Runaway. It’s funny, hearing Gainsbourg singing “Let’s have a toast for the arseholes” in her clipped English accent. It also feels deeply honest, sung by a woman who must surely have seen her share of unchecked egos and wild creativity in her life. Later, Gainsbourg reﬂects on the show. “It’s difﬁcult to feel… what’s the word in English? To be bienveillant [benevolent] with the mistakes,” she says with a gentle laugh. “To feel that tenderness about myself? No.”
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3 nights from only £149pp
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See bigweekends.com for full break line up
BIGWEEKENDS.COM and enter code MOJO or call 0330 102 5269 3 seaside locations | Legendary artists performing live | Over 18s only | 3 nights accommodation | Deposits from only £15pp
Prices shown are per person per break based on four sharing a Silver self-catering apartment and include all discounts and £s of, Prices and line-ups are correct as of 05.04.18 but are subject to change. From £15 per person deposit is only valid when using the auto-pay feature and applies to new bookings only when booking more than 84 days before break start date. Deposits are non-refundable and your ﬁnal payment will be debited 12 weeks before you arrive. All ofers are subject to promotional availability, may be withdrawn at any time and cannot be combined with any other ofer or internet code except the 5% Premier Club loyalty discount. For full terms and conditions please visit butlins.com/terms. Calls to 03 numbers are charged at standard UK rates and may vary from mobiles. These calls are included in any inclusive packages. Butlin’s Skyline Limited, 1 Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. Registered in England No. 04011665.
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and the can be viewed on YouTube. Starr was an underrated singer, who is best remembered today for her pop success with Wheel Of Fortune. But she was a terriﬁc jazz voice, acclaimed by Billie Holiday as “the only white woman I know who can really sing the blues.”
Bow down! As Grandmaster Dellar zugzwangs you good with esoteric rock, jazz and pub wisdom. I was disappointed, but also relieved, that the partial Smiths reunion-plusorchestra foundered just as it was announced. But it led me to wonder what’s the shortest-lived band reunion in rock? Nick Johnson, via e-mail Fred Says: You could say Led Zeppelin’s 2007 gig at The 02 Arena or Pink Floyd at Live8, but as these were only ever meant to be one-off performances, we must dig a little deeper. Regarding actual long-term plans gone awry, The Velvet Underground’s monthplus as a working unit before splitting again in 1993 deserves a mention, while Cream’s 2005 reconvention was sunk by deep-rooted personal issues after just seven shows. But there’s something about Buffalo Springﬁeld’s 2011 reformation that mixes tantalising possibility with bafﬂing brevity: after just seven dates, and with a full tour promised, Neil Young decided to record with Crazy Horse instead, leaving the phrase ‘indeﬁnite hiatus’ ringing in fans’ ears. At least they played – pity those who bought tickets to see the Cocteau Twins headline Coachella in 2005, only for singer Elizabeth Fraser to pull out with a month to go.
WHAT HAPPENED TO PAUL HEATON’S PUB? I was sad to learn the pub Paul Heaton ran in Salford, The King’s Arms, is now in new hands. What happened? Daniel Ward, via e-mail Fred Says: We asked Paul a while ago, and he said: “There were a couple of businesses
I lost a bit of money on – trying to set up bicycle parks for the community, and trying to rescue the pub in Salford. But not great losses.” There’s also the matter of his popular comeback with ex-Beautiful South voice Jacqui Abbott after several years of commercial underachievement. “I thought the next stage was going to be me going round on my bicycle playing pubs and releasing records that maybe ﬁve or six thousand people will buy,” he said. “Suddenly all that changed.” So now you know.
TOTP – THE FINAL WORD I’m a couple of months behind on my MOJOs here in New Zealand, but I must point out that, regarding the TOTP live question (MOJO 287), David Bowie’s January 3, 1973 performance of The Jean Genie predates Stevie Wonder in 1974 and Tam White in 1975. Bowie’s vocal, harmonica and maracas are live and the backing is much rawer, even extending into a snipped Love Me Do. Ronson certainly a play his solo live. The clincher, t at 2:58, when Trevor Bolder ﬂuf for the chorus and comes in too Andy Bassett, New Plymouth, Ne Fred says: And I thought this wa is now!
WHERE IS THAT STARR SONG? There was a song from the ’40s that began “M I crooked letter, crooked letter I, hump-back, hump back.” Can you help? Richard Gray, via e-mail Fred says: This was an easy one for me, as I had a picture of Kay Starr stuck inside my RAF locker for two years. The song is M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I,
Mr Soul (limbo): (clockwise from main) Buffalo Springfield in 2011; Ringo lands one on Sugar Ray Robinson in the Candy movie; Bryan Ferry in 2010; Paul Heaton with his pub in Salford; Kay Starr introduces herself.
Ringo Starr’s ﬁrst appearance in a non-Beatle ﬁlm is reputed to be in a 1968 ﬁlm called Candy. I believe there was a soundtrack album issued but I can’t trace it. Is the album still available and does Ringo appear on any tracks? J. Logan, via e-mail Fred Says: The Candy soundtrack album was ﬁrst issued by ABC Records in the US during 1968 and appeared here on EMI-Stateside. A stellar affair, the ﬁlm starred Charles Aznavour, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, John Huston and Walter Matthau alongside Anita Pallenberg, Sugar Ray Robinson and Ringo (cast as a Mexican gardener). None of these feature on the album though, which includes The Byrds performing Child Of The Universe plus two songs by Steppenwolf (Magic Carpet Ride and Rock Me). Additionally, there’s a score by Dave Grusin featuring such tracks as Spec-Rac-Tac-Para-Comm, Ascension To Virginity and It’s Always Because Of This: A Deformity. The album has been out of print for a number of years but the ﬁlm was still loitering online recently, a dire reminder of an era when third-rate sex-satire passed for up-to-the-minute comedy.
HELP FRED… DID FERRY GO TO HELSINKI AND BACK? Could you please tell me why there is a male voice speaking a few words in Finnish at the start of Tender Is The Night on Bryan Ferry’s album Olympia? I think the voice belongs to a Finn who seems to be talking about sauna. One possible could be that either Ferry or ett Davies has tried to colour nightly atmosphere by adding a radio? It’s hard to believe ce is there by accident. Pertti Ojala, Pieksämäki Finland asked Dave A Stewart, who e track, but he failed to d. Anyone got any ideas, or d we ﬁle this one under mingly steamy’?
CONTACTFRED Write to: Ask Fred, MOJO, Fourth Floor, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT. OR e-mail Fred Dellar direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rex/Shutterstock, Getty (4)
WHICH WAS THE SHORTEST BAND REUNION?
IS THE CANDY SOUNDTRACK STILL TO BE HEARD?
BLACK MOUNTAIN HIGH
ANSWERS MOJO 293 Across: 1 Fats Domino, 6 Ska, 9 Two, 10/12 American Dream, 13 Dick Dale, 15 Stevie Wonder, 17 Ash, 19 The Idiot, 21 Too Funky, 22 Hues, 23 Kaya, 24 Twain, 25 Meltdown, 27 Adrift, 28 Once, 29 Cher, 31 Adam F, 32 Lemar, 34 Weird, 35 Muscle, 36 Eno, 37 De Capo, 38 Maire, 39 Limmie, 40 Rockit, 42 Def, 43 Bottle, 44 Ages, 46 Acid, 47 Crass, 50 Opal, 51 Surrender, 54 Eden, 55 Ian, 57 Cal, 58 Adrenalize, 60 Havens, 62 Queen, 63 The Dance, 64 Eddy, 65 Reedy
Win! Tickets for the Green Man festival.
eld since 2003 at its base in the Brecon Beacons, the Green Man’s an essential part of the outdoor music calendar. This year, from August 16-19, high standards will be maintained with performers including John Grant, The War On Drugs, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Cate Le Bon, Joan As Police Woman, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Public Service Broadcasting, Dirty Projectors, Kevin Morby, Baxter Dury and Jane Weaver, plus many others. This year s live MOJO Interview, meanwhile, will be with John Grant, who’ll discuss his work and career at the Talking Shop literary stage (other guests include Peggy Seeger, Viv Albertine and Can biographer Rob Young). There’s also comedy, ﬁlm, the Einstein’s Garden science area and more! Want to go? Sure you do. We have three pairs of tickets – worth £180 each, for the full four-day feast of fun – for three winners and a pal to attend. All you have to do is ﬁll in Pinetop Dellar’s crossword and send it to Black Mountain High!, MOJO, Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DJ. Please include your home address, email address and phone number. The closing date for entries is June 2. For the rules of the quiz, see www.mojo4music.com.
Down: 1 Frank Sinatra, 2 The National, 3 Drive, 4 M.C.A., 5 Old Before I Die, 7 At My Window, 8 God Only Knows, 11 Nash, 14/6 I Shot The Sheriff, 16 Edwyn Collins, 18 Sleaford Mods, 20 Thorne, 26 Tom Paxton, 29 Clambake, 30 Empire, 33 Reed, 34 Wolf Alice, 35 More, 37 DeBarge, 41 C.C.R., 45 Songhoy, 47 Creeque, 48 Alchemy, 49 Silence, 52 Elaine, 53 Driver, 56 Nasty, 59 Reef, 61 Vee. Winner: David Hunter of Dundee wins a Washburn WCG20SCE guitar
ACROSS 1 One of The Trembling Blenders (3,5) 5/12 down Loretta Lynn’s Jack Whiteproduced album (3,4,4) 7 It was Marvin Gaye’s first Number 1 album on the US soul chart (1.1.1.) 9 Was this Phil Collins release poorly clad? (2,6,8) 11 As tooted by Herbie Mann (5) 13 The Verve’s debut album (1,5,2,6) 17 Is This Whatcha Wont? he asked (5,5) 18 He was born Marshall Mathers III (6) 19 Rapper whose albums include Konvicted and Freedom (4) 20 Their LPs include Join The Dots and Clear Shot (3) 21 In My --- Time (Family) (3) 22 They delivered Dookie (5,3) 23 David Guetta album on which he collaborated with John Legend, The Script, etc (6) 25 He wore white sox for Adam And The Ants (4) 26 Could be Pitney, could be McDaniels (4) 27 This guitar-pickin’ Watson won eight Grammy awards (3) 28 Morissette who delivered that Jagged Little Pill (6) 29 Initially Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1,1,1) 31 Glastonbury band headed by Gary Stringer (4) 32 As paid by the Pet Shops in 1987? (4) 34 Morrissey’s relative advice? (4,5) 35 See photo clue A (3,6) 36 Bo Diddley hit found amid Simon And Garfunkel (4) 38 Singular percussion instrument (4) 40 Something found, like Daft Punk’s second album (9) 42 Macca’s band, formed in 1971 (5) 44 Queens Of The Stone Age’s current record label (7) 45 UB40’s favourite tipple? (3,3,4) 47 Pink Floyd soundtrack with extras? (4) 48 Sweetie who provided New Edition’s first hit (5,4) 49 Kraftwerk’s road song (8) 52 Fleetwood Mac offered little ones (4) 53 Not a major record company (5) 54 Eurythmics song inspired by Orwell (8) 56 ---- To The Music (5) 57 Musical genre (4) 58 Lucinda Williams’ 2001 album (7) 59 The only album that Robert Smith recorded with Siouxsie (6)
49 52 57
Getty (2), Alamy, Michael Berman
1 Anna Mae Bullock (4,6) 2 Your favourite magazine (4) 3 See photoclue B (2,7) 4 See photoclue C (3,8) 5 Bobby of Red Rubber Ball fame (3) 6 Michael who released Some Twist (3) 7 He was awarded an OBE in 2018 (4,6) 8 Rock duo, once part of 10CC (6,3,5) 10 Jazz pianist who was in with The In Crowd (6,5) 12 See 5 Across 14 Trent Reznor’s are Nine Inches long (5) 15 A rare one – the only album ever released by Mellow Candle (9,5) 16 This unfortunate woman provided an Everly Brothers hit (4,5) 24 Miles Davis’ 1986 album (4) 26 The surname is Moroder (7) 29 Wrecking Crew drummer Hal (6) 30 Where The Hollies went round and round (2,1,8) 32 Coloured like The Beatles 1962-1966 album (3) 33 A Split Enz or Basia album (4,3,4) 34 Ken’s fooling around to form a band (5,2,4) 37 Chilean nueva canción group based in Germany (6) 39 Label that signed Elvis Presley from Sun (1.1.1) 41 It’s visual thing (5) 43 Could be Speedy – or Robert Earl (4) 44 Fleetwood --- (3) 45 An issued recording perhaps (7) 46 Muse album (6) 50 Musical term for a chunk of time (3) 51 It’s a Rag’n’Bone Man album (5) 53 --- On Fire (Elton John) (3) 54 Named like Johnny Cash’s boy (3) 55 Johnnie Ray’s weepy success (3)
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They began by blowing minds in Brum, but collapse came at Streatham ice rink.
HELLO LATE 1965 Me and Ace [Kefford, bass] were at the Cedar Club in Birmingham, and Davy Jones (alias David Bowie) was playing. We got talking to him and he said, “You guys should form a band.” I was in Danny King & The Mayfair Set and Ace was in Carl Wayne & The Vikings at the time. So we asked the guys – [multi-instrumentalist] Roy Wood from Mike Sheridan And The Nightriders, and Carl Wayne [vocals] and Bev Bevan [drums] from The Vikings. They all said yes immediately. I think we all wanted to do something a bit more exciting, because music was changing. We’d be looking at The Who or The Kinks, and stuff coming from America. From the ﬁrst time we plugged in we knew we had something special. It was meant to be secret, ‘cos we were still playing in the other bands, but there were rumours everywhere. We were at Roy’s, he lived in a fourth-ﬂoor council ﬂat with his mum and dad. Roy’s mum had made us sandwiches and tea, and there was a knock at the door and it was Mike Sheridan saying, “Hello, hello, what’s going on here?” I think it was him who said to Roy, “You should call it The Move.” We rehearsed the vocals ﬁrst at Carl Wayne’s house, then we tried it out with the full rig in a rehearsal room and it came together pretty quick. At the ﬁrst rehearsal Ace said, “I’ve 130 MOJO
Sitting and hearing the grass grow: The Move in 1969 (from left) Bev Bevan, Roy Wood, Trevor Burton and Carl Wayne; (bottom) the ’65 Mod formation with (right) Ace Kefford; (below) Trevor today.
fucking had enough.” So I said, “Why don’t you go home, fuck off,” and he just lunged across the room and slammed me against the wall. The guys broke it up, and off he went, saying, “I’m leaving.” The next day he came back – it was all OK, he’d got it all out in the open. He was a moody fucker, Ace, volatile, a tough guy. The ﬁrst gig was at the Belfry Hotel on January 23, 1966. It was pretty much perfect. We were doing Motown, Chess, Atlantic stuff. All our former bands were there to check us out, I think they were shocked, most of them. But we knew what we were doing. There was burning ambition, to make it to the top.
GOODBYE FEBRUARY 1969
“I LOST IT AND THREW MY BASS AT HIM.”
Ace had left – he did go very strange after he’d had acid, it tipped him over the top. I think everybody was exhausted, because we made our money from gigging, we used to gig ﬁve, six nights a week. I think we could’ve branched out more musically – it was ’69, you had the Cream and Hendrix, Trafﬁc, all that, and we were stuck in the pop world. I wanted to expand it, jam a bit more, loosen it up. Roy was up for that but the other guys didn’t get it really. And we couldn’t really discuss it because we were too bloody busy gigging. We did tracks for an album but they all got mixed up with the singles. I like the album now [1968’s Move] but it was just a mish-mash, it didn’t have a focus. I was playing bass then, and me and Bev never clicked as a unit. We
Trevor Burton’s Record Store Day album Long Play is out on Gray Sky Records.
TREVOR BURTON AND THE MOVE
were doing this psychedelic gig in Denmark, somewhere like that, and I lost it, and threw my bass at him, kicked over my amps and stomped off. As I went off, his hi-hats sort of whistled past my head and he followed me into the dressing room and said, “When are you fucking leaving?!” I said, “I just did.” I did a Top Of The Pops after that. The band were on one stage and they’d put me on a plinth on the other side of the room. The separation was obvious. The very last gig was at Streatham ice rink. It was just another Move gig, it was OK. [Manager Tony] Secunda had gone and then Don Arden turned up in the dressing room saying, “I’m your new manager, boys.” That was it, deﬁnitely the end for me. They didn’t try and get me to stay and I was glad to get out of it. I’d got a place in Buckinghamshire, so I went down there, with a group of mates I’d put together, which was the start of Balls. But it’s all water under the bridge. It was a fantastic time in my life, and I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done if it hadn’t been for The Move. I’ve met Roy recently, we always got on well. He’s never changed. As told to Ian Harrison
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