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Thursday, 31 March 2022
So You Think You're In Love
Wednesday, 30 March 2022
2022 Charity Shop Purchases #21 - Natalie Merchant - Ophelia
Following the recent Motherland incident I took the precaution of cataloguing the Natalie Merchant CDs even though I am still only up to H a part of the larger plan. This proved to be very fortuitous as I was able to ascertain that the copy of Ophelia ,her second solo album from 1998 on Elektra, was a burn and it was therefore duly replaced by the CD on the shelves of the Sense charity shop in St Andrews
Her website advises that she experimented with string arrangements , horns and collaborated with a wide array of musicians.It helpfully lists them so I don't have to. It was self produced and she treated the recording as a series of workshops, where she would invite various musicians she had met over the years into her home studio to collaborate and record. While Ophelia is not a concept record in the traditional sense, the name of the album and the title track are a literary reference to Shakespeare's Ophelia
The album was released just prior to her collaborating with Billy Bragg and Wilco on Mermaid Avenue putting previously unreleased Woody Guthrie songs to music. She was also heavily championed by Andy Kershaw around this time.
To me there are certain similarities with Laura Marling albeit she is probably more consistently folky
Natalie Merchant - Kind & Generous
Natalie Merchant - Thick as Thieves
Tuesday, 29 March 2022
2022 Charity Shop Purchases #20 - Beth Orton - Daybreaker
A quick visit to St Andrews yielded a couple of solid if hardly spectacular purchases.
Like Laura Marling who featured recently Beth Orton is one of those artists that I probably would never consider buying anything new by but would always pick up anything by either second hand or via a charity shop.
Daybreaker her third album from 2002 is the third album that she released on Heavenly and her fourth in total. It joins Trailer Park and Central Reservation on the shelves as well as the Pass in TIme compilation. I also have a CD single of Concrete Sky which is a song of this album. I think that with the exception of Traier Park that they have all been charity purchases.
It sees Beth moving from her folkier roots to a more mainstream sound and it's fair to say that it received mixed reviews. Pitchfork says that it is the third in a series of progressively bland and unadventurous releases whereas Allmusic feels that it sacrifices immediacy for uniformity of mood and emotional tenor, and although it's perhaps her most consistent and mature work to date, it's also her least engaging, never matching the dizzying heights of her previous efforts.
The BBC make comparisons to Dido FFS but they later redeem themselves with referencecs to Tracy Thorn
After a first listen I'm fairly ambivalent .It is not as bad as some of the comments above but not a patch on its two predecessors. A commentator on Allmusic fairly accurately sums it up as she appears torn between being an electronic diva and a pure acoustic singer-songwriter.
As examples here are the title track with clear Chemical Brothers influences and the singery songwritery God Song with guest appearances by Emmylou Harris and Ryan Adams (who she was romantically invovled with at the time).
Further listens will determine whether it is a keeper.
Monday, 28 March 2022
Young America by The Poems is one of those albums that is the stuff of legend
The album was originally released on CD back in 2006 and I can remember Drew contacting Bobby Bluebell (who appears on the album) on Twitter on a number of occassions to ask if and when the album was coming out on vinyl.
Finally LNFG stepped up to the plate and have recently released it on vinyl as part of their Past Night Form Glasgow side project
Rough Trade writes Originally released on CD in 2006. (Has it really been 15 years?) The Poems were Robert Hodgens (the Bluebells), Bobby Paterson, Adrian Barry, Kerry Polwart (Karine's wee sister), RossMcFarlane and Andy May.
The album also features guest contributions from the likes of Isabel Campbell, Norman Blake and Justin Currie.
Alarm magazine is complimentary comparing them to the Go-Betweens. I can also hear shades of Motorcycle Boy in places.
I bought it on spec having not heard any of the songs but having read and heard universal praise and I'm really glad I did as it is an absolute belter. You should do so too.
The Poems -Sometimes, Somewhere, Someone Shoul Say Something
Sunday, 27 March 2022
No Depression #56 -Vic Chesnutt
No Depression - The Bi-monthly Journal of Alt- Country
Saturday, 26 March 2022
Seen at King Tuts - The Montrose Avenue
The Montrose Avenue
Wednesday 25th February 1998 £4.00 Ticket No 00134
i was aware that I had a copy of the CD single of Where Do I Stand? but quite surprised to discover that I had a digital copy of She's Looking For Me and a CD copy of their album Thirty Days Out which my filing system tells me was purchased in a Paisley charity shop a good few years later.
Not from the Angus town of Montrose but from Wokingham in Berkshire The Montrose Avenue (don't forget the The) were very briefly an indie rock/pop band.
They were signed to Columbia. She's Looking For Me was released in 1997 and reached the dizzy heights of number 118 in the UK singles charts.Where Do I Stand? was released in March 1998 and was their only top 40 hit peaking at 38 . I suspect that hearing it on the radio enticed me to go and see them. The ticket price of £4.00 probably helped.
The album was released on 12th October 1998 and reached 102 in the charts. They were more popular in Japan where it reached number 69 . They never released another album and disbanded in 1999.
I've just given the album a listen and it is perfectly pleasant but nothing startling. For me Where Do I Stand? is the obvious stand out and puts me in mind of the Gin Blossoms.
I have no recollection of or nothing by Ether.
The Montrose Avenue -Where Do I Stand?
The Montrose Avenue -She's Looking For Me
Friday, 25 March 2022
Fairport Friday - What We Did On Our Holidays
Now this is more like it. Fairport Convention's second album What We Did on Our Holidays was released in January 1969 and was the first of three absolute classic albums released by the band in that calendar year. Has any other band ever had a year like that?
The personnel was the same as the debut album with one crucial difference. Judy Dybie had left the band and was replaced by Sandy Denny. Not that Judy was bad but Sandy with her singing takes the band to a whole different level, or even stratosphere.Also, it was an out and out folk rock album as opposed to the musical hotchpotch on the first one. I'm not sure that it is crucial but it was also the first of their albums on the Island label..
Sandy also wrote the opening track Fotheringay which was to become the name of the band she set up with boyfriend Trevor Lucas when she left the band in 1970. Note to myself - one for the must have list.
Fotheringay Castle was where Mary Queen of Scots was executed and is the name of a street, and formerly a pub, on Glasgow's southside in the vicinity of the Battle of Langside
What we Did was the favourite album of all time of CCM favourite the late great Neal Casal.If it was good enough for Neal it is good enough for me.
Like George I'm not sharing Meet on the Ledge not because I'm contrary, like him, but because there are plenty of other good songs to choose from.
Another classic from 1969 next Friday? I think so.
Fairport Convention -Fotheringay
Monday, 21 March 2022
Last Monday when I featured Thunder and Fire by Jason & the Scorchers Alyson and Walter both got awfy excited when they saw the title thinking that it may have been the return of one of my compare and contrast series. Rol quite rightly pointed out that Thunder and Lightning would be more appropriate.
Anyway I had a look in the music file to see what there was in the Thunder file (there were plenty with Fire). Not much was the answer. There is some stuff by Johnny Thunders and also the Fabulous Thunderbirds. As far as songs were concerned there was Thunder on the Mountain by Bob Dylan which featured earlier this month and another three plus a couple about thunderstorms.
And obviously there was Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. I'm not sure why it didn't feature in my Springsteen Covered series particularly as I have two covers.Maybe it because they are not on the same planet never mind ballpark as the Boss.
Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Thunder Road(Live New Jersey 19/09/78)
Sunday, 20 March 2022
No Depression #55 - Mary Gauthier
No Depression - The Bi-monthly Journal of Alt- Country
Saturday, 19 March 2022
Seen at King Tuts : Townes Van Zandt
Townes Van Zandt
Sunday 11th December 1994 £7.50 Ticket No 00041
For the second week in a row a grizzly Country veteran albeit this one was held in the highest of regard by the Alternative Country set.
I feel privileged to have seen Townes Van Zandt live twice before his death on 1st January 1997 at the age of 52. The first time was the one above at King Tuts with the second being a year or so later at the County Hotel, Perth
It is fair to say that my pals and I were in an advanced state of excitement for getting to see an actual living legened championed by Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and anyone else you care to mention.The peak of his recording career was the late 60's and the 70s but due to his complicated financial situation he was a prolific live act as it constituted his main form of income.
He had actually released at album No Deeper Blue in 1994 which was his first studio album for seven years and I would imagine that one of the purposes of the tour was to promote it. Sadly it was to be be the last one released prior to his death. As is the way of things there were a good few releases and re-releases thereafter.
From memory he was in good form with all the classics getting an outing. During his lifetime he probably earned more from others recording of the likes of Pancho and Lefty, Tecumseh Valley and Kathleen than from his own original versions. It was great to hear them being sung by him though.
As I said I only saw him twice but for a number of years there was an annual quickly sold out tribute concert at Glasgow's Riverside Club where artists including Dean Owens would pay homage by covering his songs. Such is the legend of the man.
I can feel a Townes Songs Covered series coming along!
Townes Van Zandt - Delta Momma Blues
Townes Van Zandt - Waiting Around to Die
Friday, 18 March 2022
Someone, and apologies I can't remember who, recently commented on a blog that the first five albums by Fairport Convention were available for a reasonable price as one of those Five Classic Albums CD boxsets. Given that the only physical thing I had by them was the the CD compilation The History of Fairport Convention that was enough for me to press the trigger. It is also the next five Fridays sorted!
The self -titled first album was released in June 1968 on the Polydor label with a line up of Judy Dybie, Ian MacDonald (aka Iain Matthews), Richard Thompson,Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchins and Martin Lambie
It is not the electric traditional folk for which the band rightly became famous for. George in his Second is Better than First series on these pages compared it less that favourably against it's immediate successor What We Did On Our Holidays. His comment that its lack of consistency in musical style makes it almost a compilation album of different genres is fairly accurate but I have a considerably higher opinion of their cover version of Joni Mitchell's Chelsea Morning than he does.
It is the only album on which Judy Dybie, who died age 71 in July 2020, sings (and knits) on. Her replacement in the band made a considerable impression as we shall discover next week.
None of the songs from this album appear on The History of Fairport Convention. Now whether that is a statement as to their quality or because the compilation is on Island I shall leave for you to decide
Fairport Convention - I Don't Know Where I Stand
Fairport Convention - Jack O'Diamonds
Thursday, 17 March 2022
I got Cowboy Song the biography of Philip Lynott, by Graeme Thompson, out the library recently. It is the first one authorised by the Lynott Estate and is an easy but interesting read. I'm not quite sure as to why I got it out as I have never been a particularly huge fan of him or Thin Lizzy. This is probably because they became prominent in the late 70's when there were two main musical groups at school the greatcoat wearing hippies/heavy metal fans who occupied the common room and the part time punks who congregated on a small bridge near the school hall. I was in the latter group.
In many ways it is a pretty typical story much of which is well known. The band had been on the go for a while with little commercial success until their management persuaded them to record Whiskey in the Jar which they had been mucking around with in the studio and the rest is history. It became a bit of a mill stone around their necks and they rarely if ever played it live.
They built up a reputation as a great live band but failed to break through to the Premier League. Then there was a gradual and later rapid decline due to Lynott's increasing heroin addiction leading to his death on 4th January 1986 at the age of 36. The shift in peoples listening habits to New Wave then New Romantics probably didn't help either.
I knew that Crackerjack legend Leslie Crowther was his father-in -law for a while but the book threw up a few things that I was unaware of. I didn't know that he was referred to as Philip as opposed to Phil or that he has a couple of poetry books published. I was also unaware that he was not in fact Irish having been born to his single parent mother in Birmingham. He was subsequently brought up by his gran Sarah in the Crumlin area of Dublin (where Mrs CC's gran also stayed) from the age of eight. He was lucky as his two siblings were given up for adoption.
The only thing I have by him is the CD Wild One - The Very Best of Thin Lizzy. I shall spare you the ubiquitous Whiskey in the Jar and The Boys are Back in Town.
For a much more detailed review of the book this is by Barney Hoskins in The Guardian
Thin Lizzy - Don't Believe a Word
Wednesday, 16 March 2022
Around about Christmas 18/New Year 19 I picked up a vinyl copy of Jamboree in the Oxfam Charity Shop at Clarkston Toll on the Southern most extremities of Glasgow.It is from 1986 and is the second album by Athens, Georgia band Guadalcanal Diary and it is on the Elektra label.
The name was vaguely familiar thanks to our dear friend Brian. Also, A couple of their songs featured on the now legendary Hoboken to Athens compilation CDs by kevinpat which some of you may have been fortunate enough to get a copy of.
As is the way of these things it got a couple of plays and was filed away on the shelves. I've just completed the Gs on the database and this one was near the end alphabetically. I dusted it down and gave it a listen and was pretty much blown away.
There are obvious comparisons with their Athens neighbours R.E.M. but that is no bad thing given that it would be R.E.M in their more jangly IRS period. Allmusic states that this is an excellent, if sometimes bewildering album very much worth hearing.. I concur.
Guadalcanal Diary - Pray For Rain
Tuesday, 15 March 2022
Monday, 14 March 2022
Thunder and Fire
Jason & the Scorchers -When the Angels Cry
Jason & the Scorchers -Bible and a Gun
Sunday, 13 March 2022
No Depression #54 - Iris DeMent
No Depression - The Bi-monthly Journal of Alt- Country
Saturday, 12 March 2022
Seen at King Tut's - Steve Young
Friday 5th May 1995 £5.00 Ticket No 00030
A couple of weeks after seeing last week's featured artist Kingmaker I found myself back at King Tuts on a Friday night for something completely different. This time round I was here to see grizzly Honky Tonk country artist Steve Young.
My ticket number says 30 but there can't have been much more if any in the audience.I suppose that Tuts is not a natural venue for veteran country singers.Nevertheless being the old pro that he was he performed as if it was a full house and put on a terrific show.
Widely seen as a pioneer of country rock and alternative country he was part of the Outlaw movement in the mid 70s which saw the likes of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson become international superstars. I have him in the Americana as opposed to mainstream Country section of the shelves.
Steve unfortunately never reached such dizzy heights. Indeed, he is probably better known as a songwriter rather than a singer with The Eagles covering his Seven Bridges Road and Hank Williams Jr covering Montgomery in the Rain among others.
His first solo album from 1969 Rock, Salt and Nails featured the likes of Gram Parsons, Gene Clark and others from the Laurel Canyon scene. I have his 1975 album Honky Tonk Man on the Mountain Railroad label as well as 1991's Solo/Live on Watermelon in the States and Demon in the UK.
Sadly Steve died in March 2016 aged 73 having been in declining health since a head injury following a fall in October 2015
Steve Young -Seven Bridges Road
Steve Young - Montgomery in the Rain
Friday, 11 March 2022
Thursday, 10 March 2022
Wednesday, 9 March 2022
The Hard Way
2022 Charity Shop Purchases #17 - Steve Earle & the Dukes - The Hard Way
I've had The Hard Way the 4th album by Steve Earle and the Dukes from 1980 and a 12 inch of the track The Other Kind on vinyl from just about when they came out. I wouldn't say that it is one of his best ones given that it is poorly produced and there are not that many stand out tracks on it.Some folk buying it following the success of Copperhead Road probably came away disappointed. The debut Guitar Town is the must have from that period
I'd never seen it before on CD until I saw it in a Newton Mearns charity shop for 50p. Despite already having it . it seemed foolish not to. My spreadsheet has thrown up a potential new series - Albums I have on both vinyl and CD. I couldn't not add Mr Earle to the list.
For your listening pleasure the aforementioned The Other Kind. This is followed by Billy Austin the first of three death penalty songs that Steve has written. There is a better version of this on his 1991 live album Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator. Described by the Dallas Observer as storytelling at its stark,bleakest best.
But there's twenty-seven men here
Brown and poor
Most of them are guilty
Who are you to say for sure?
Steve Earle & the Dukes - The Other Kind
Steve Earle & the Dukes - Billy Austin
Tuesday, 8 March 2022
Monday, 7 March 2022
Younger Than Yesterday
Sunday, 6 March 2022
No Depression #53 - Willie Nelson
No Depression - The Bi-monthly Journal of Alt- Country