Saturday, 29 December 2012

Albums for Life: 75: Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

The story goes that when 'Kind of Blue' was released all aspiring trumpeter players attempted to play along and couldn't; sounded horrid, a pale imitation of Miles because "no-one plays like Miles". When Columbia came to remaster the album recently it was discovered that it had been previously rendered down by a tape machine that was running fast, hence the initial release was between the notes. Most musicians would call that a lemon sucking moment, but it seemed to suit this recording for some reason and also explained why nobody could play along. No-one liked the new 'in tune' version' so the powers returned it to its original imperfect state.
Many folk say the moment when Cannonball Adderly launches into his 'So What' sax solo at 3.25 was the birth of Modern Jazz.

I don't claim to understand jazz, I just know when something's right; the feel of this whole album is just so perfectly chilled. I know a Kindergarden teacher who plays 'So What' to calm her kids just before they have their morning nap. Miles goes 'budubbadubbadubbadubba' and the kids reply 'baba'; I keep listening for the black sheep but they never come; kind of surreal, kind of hilarious and kind of reassuring that the Kind of Blue touch paper is being lit so early...

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Albums for Life: 76: Ron Sexsmith

This has been doing my head in.
All over Xmas; when I should have been concentrating on the next sausage roll, the dilemma I kept defaulting to was: which Sexsmith album for the list? 
I guess it's because I feel a little protective over Ron; I was there at the start, long before Elvis (Costello), boring the arse off my mates, proclaiming this debut essential, risking life and limb shushing everybody at a half full Borderline gig; wallowing in each successive album, sure that this would be the one to break him. After seeing Rocking Ron in a recent BBC documentary, 'break' seems the operative word, such was his fragile nature. He did appear permanently on the edge of collapse during the recording of his last album 'Long Player Late Bloomer'. This, we were told, was his last shot, he'd spent the mortgage (and income from an odd duet with Michael Buble) on bringing in top 'rock' producer Bob erm... Rock (Metallica/Motley Crew) to give the album a commercial tweak.
And it was horrible; our boy was given a makeover that presented him over a backdrop that was Tom Petty Lite; a granny friendly version of himself if you like. Worst of all, Mr Rock put an auto tuner on the famously wandering voice that took away all of that lovely vulnerability and presented us with Sparky's Uncle, Elton Ron.

Still, the back catalogue is a precious thing, but which album?
I got it down to 'Other Songs' 'Whereabouts' or 'Time Being', all beauties, and yet the dog faced boy kept looking at me pleadingly from the cover of his debut and I couldn't resist it. The Mitchell Froom  produced pastoral pleasures are irresistible; opaque and ornate, it's an autumnal winter warmer...

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Xmas Everybody

Seasons' Greetings to all that visit these pages.
I hope that you all have a great day/holiday etc.
I'm hoping that 2013 will see a new Miracle Mile album and the start of the recordings of a new 'Jones' album. 
Beyond that, who knows? 
I always threaten gigs but never deliver; maybe this year...
Other things I can't promise to deliver are world peace and a new Prefab Sprout album.
There's always prayer...
What I can promise is a CD of my favourite songs of the year.
All you have to do is send me yours to:
Lisa Cottage
18 The Green
Wooburn Green 
Include your address and I'll reciprocate.
I'll be trying top get my thoughts together concerning some kind of 'Best of the Year' list between now and the 31st. It's been a funny old year; I'm always disappointed until I actually concentrate on what's gone and realize that it's actually been a fine year. 
Isn't the human creative spirit a brilliant thing? 
I know quite a few jobbing musicians who are skint with no big pay day on the horizon who keep on just for the love of it... so let's raise a glass today to all those creative folk, from the busker to the ballerina.
God Bless 'Em All...
Trev x
PS: Did anyone see Charlotte Church on the Jonathan Ross show? 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Albums for Life: 77: Kate Bush: 50 Words for Snow

A bit of a lazy choice this; it's the most seasonal album on my list so seems timely. I've never been truly smitten with Kate until now. Sure 'This Woman's Work' was gorgeous and I liked the sound of 'Hounds of Love' but I could never grasp what moved her and therefore had trouble relating to the warbling. Her concept here is so simple and so perfectly realised that you cannot help but to fall for it. Wintry tone poems are shaped by piano, double bass and Steve Gadd's subtle drumming to provide the perfect backdrop for the musing. Her son appears as a snowflake (I am light, I am sky) and Kate somehow makes this into a moving pean on the transience of life (or childhood) and the importance of care, (the world is so loud, keep falling, I'll find you). The most laudable element is the space; Kate takes her time, and the songs reveal themselves in their own sweet time, most of them clocking in at over 7 minutes. I'm not sure that this makes it 'radio friendly' but I love it all the more for that. 
Even an off kilter guest appearance by Elton John can't break the spell as the icy beauty washes over you. Bonkers, bold and beautiful.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Albums for Life: 78: Pablo Casals: The Bach Cello Suites

OK, I know that I'm off-piste with this but; these recordings are pretty important to my love of music and the performance of it...

The story goes that in 1890 a 13 year old Casals found the complete manuscripts for Grutzmacher's edition of Bach's six Cello Suites in a thrift shop in Barcelona; practiced them for 13 years before he felt worthy of their performance.
He committed them to tape in 1925, and, in search of perfection, continued re-recording them, culminating in the famous recordings of 1936/38/39.
The sound quality is slightly compromised by tape hiss but you cease to hear that once you lose yourself in these wondrous performances. And performance is the name of the game. Casals attacks what were once regarded as merely practice pieces with such gusto that it's difficult not to be swept away by his obvious rapture. It's said the Liszt was the first real pop star; he invested such personality into the performance of his own writings that his character and profile became as important to the moment as the music. There are elements of that here too; I'm no classicist but there are imperfections in Casal's dynamic playing that can only be regarded as willful interpretation; like a Hendrix of the cello.
Whenever these come on the iPod I always have to stop and listen, such is their hypnotic quality.
It ain't 'highbrow' folks, just the height of interpretive art from an artist who was obviously enraptured by the music he was born to perform. 
This is like life and light preserved in amber...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Confession of a Lucky Man

This photo contains my two favourite things...
I met one of them 26 years ago today.
Forgot to mention it this morning...
Do I:
A: Apply 'Fast Fret' and restring?
B: Have a shave and grovel?
Answers (or suggestions) below please...

Albums for Life: 79: Josh Rouse: Dressed Up Like Nebraska

In the late 90s I was briefly signed up to Rykodiscs, back then refuge of Elvis Costello and a home to Nick Drake's back catalogue;  a happy home then.
One of the directors was a guy named Ian Moss who I still keep in touch with. It was my first experience of the real benefit of being attached to a label: Free CDs.
Ian was an enthusiastic and generous guide.
One album that he pointed me towards was Josh Rouse's 1998 debut, 'Dressed Up Like Nebraska'.
I played it to death.
The follow ups 'Home' (2000) and 'Under Cold Blue Stars' (2002) were stellar and preferred by the critics but, as seems to be becoming ever more apparent to me, it was the entry point album that remained the most potent.

A cello weaves its way evocatively through much of the melancholy, there's an openness to the shimmering chords and shuffling drums that provides the perfect backdrop to Rouse's fetching tales of dislocation.
Rouse has gone on to produce many fine albums; although since moving to Spain he's cheered up a bit too much for the good of his music. He needs to get out of the sun and back into the shadows that helped inform this album's gloomy, dappled dilemmas; 'Dressed Up Like Nebraska' is magnificently miserable...

PS: Currently listening to 'Home' and realise that it's a better album; I'll post a couple of tracks at the bottom of the page after the two from 'Nebraska'.
I'm still sticking with my first love though...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Albums for Life: 80: Teiture: Poetry and Aeroplanes

After the dark, gravely gravity of Nick Cave's baritone I bring you the featherlight brightness of Teiture.
Perfect pop, beautifully executed.
Heartfelt honesty reigns.
His gentle music is unchallenging yet addictive.
Apparently he can't get arrested ...

Monday, 17 December 2012

Americana UK: Staff Writers' Top Ten of 2012

Americana UK is one of the very best online music magazines; their writing is top notch.
How happy am I therefore that their Deputy Editor Jeremy Searle has rated 'Ghost of Song' at number 2 on his Top Ten of 2012 list.
Click here to read his original review.
Thanks Jeremy; you are a gentleman.
You can see his choices below and read the rest of the staff ratings on the link here:
American UK: Staff Writers' Staff Top Ten

Meanwhile, 'Ghost of Song' is still available as a FREE DOWNLOAD here.
Or, see the link on the right.
It's dead easy.
No strings attached.
Ignore the 'Tip the Artist' tab unless you are moved to...
Free music; what are you waiting for?

Top Ten of 2012

Jeremy Searle – Deputy Editor

  1. Bellowhead – “Broadside” - A triumphant cacophony from folk's big band and the best live act around
  2. Jones – “Ghost of  a Song” - Best of Miracle Mile man's solo work, which means intelligent and thoughtful pop that's better than anybody else's
  3. Pete Seeger – “The Complete Bowdoin College Concert 1960” - One man, one guitar, a little bit of politics and a lot of fun from one of the few people to deserve the term legendary.  A double album without a wasted moment.
  4. Mama Rosin – “Bye Bye Bayou” - Swiss trio, with the aid of producer Jon Spencer, produce their finest yet: cajun, garage, punk, you name it, it's a wild exhilarating ride
  5. Kyle Carey – “Monongah” - Self-described as "Gaelic Americana", this is simply a delightful and enchanting debut
  6. Hatful of Rain – Way Up On The Hill - Another fine debut, haunting bluegrass-cum folk that can also kick over the traces when necessary.
  7. Various Artists – “History of New Orleans R’n’B 1921-1947,1947-1953” - Irresistible compilation with everything from "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" to "Who Drank My Beer?"
  8. The Vagaband – “Town and Country” - A delightfully ramshackle mix of country, folk blues and a lot more on yet another debut
  9. Malcolm Holcombe – “Down The River” - Righteous howl from a man who's more a force of nature than a performer
  10. The Mastersons – “Birds Fly South” - Buddy & Julie Miller meet Neil Finn on this great debut from Steve Earle cohorts

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Albums for Life: 81: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: The Boatman's Call

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do

Following on from the menacing 'Murder Ballads' came this more intimate collection from 1997.
Gone are the gloomy narratives; that murky malevolent heart of darkness is replaced by brooding heartache. The songs are low key, the arrangements beautifully understated. Shimmering strings suggest redemption whilst the lyrics speak of inner struggle; the voice is magnificently sombre and emotionally adroit amidst the confusion.
Lost and found, our Nick is hopelessly hopeful; denying the presence of angels but praying for their guidance.  Has there ever been a more appropriately named crooner?
Cave might be conflicted by his shadowy angst, but at least he's searching for some kind of light.
This is pitch perfect gothic melancholia.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Albums for Life: 82: Richard Harris: The Webb Sessions 1968 - 1969

There were houses 
There were hoses 
There were sprinklers on the lawn...
There was a frying pan 
And she would cook their dreams 
While they were dreaming
And later she would send them out to play
And the yard went on forever...

Way back when, intrigued at being inexplicably moved with the bonkers/brilliant nature of the twosome's hit single 'MacArthur Park' I decided to delve deeper and found this collection that brought together the two albums, 'A Tramp Shining' and 'The Yard Went on Forever', that
songwriter Jimmy Webb and hell raising actor Richard Harris made at the end of the 60s.
Webb is a genius lyricist who can colour obtuse meaning with the most rousing melodies and arrangements to give his songs a strange resonance. Yet, when he sang his own compositions he always faltered, such were the acrobatic demands of his ambitious melodies. He used some great singers to showcase his songs (particularly Glen Campbell) but it seemed an odd choice when, in 1969 he committed to recording 'A Tramp Shining'; with Harris, a talented actor but limited singer. Harris had displayed these limitations the previous year in the film 'Camelot'. This was a risk and yet it all works stunningly well; the songs are beautifully arranged by Webb, poignant and impenetrable, over the top and then subtle in a heartbeat. The star of the show is Harris of course, who hams it up with such bravado that you can't help but fall for the intoxicating vulnerability of it all. I still find myself cheering "go on my son!" when his voice goes stratospheric at the the end of 'MacArthur Park'.

The ambition was obvious: to move people.
Bulls eye!
The life affirming mad mix of dramatic arrangement and tremulous delivery, sugar coated beguiling songs that spoke in riddles about hope and nostalgia and inspired more than just this sappy hack.
The album was nominated for a Gammy in 1969.
It was followed the next year with more of the same on the equally brilliant 'The Yard Went on 

This wouldn't have got beyond the suits from the 70s onwards. 
I miss that maverick madness of Harris; a self confessed "compulsive excessive".
If you've the time keep scrolling to the bottom to see the affection that Harris and fellow sot Peter O'Toole share for rugby, cricket, booze and... erm... life itself.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lovesong: John Grant: Pale Green Ghosts

Many thanks to Nick Baker for bringing this to my attention:
After his resurgence with 'Queen of Denmark' (Mojo's 'Album of the Year' in 2010) John Grant resurfaces next year with 'Pale Green Ghosts'. 
Judging by the title track his music is no longer informed by the luxurious folkerama of Midlake. John's gone all electronica on us and, by my beard, it works a treat.
According to his label Bella Union the album was "recorded in Iceland , featuring Sinead O’Connor on guest vocals. The brilliant “Pale Green Ghosts” adds sublime notes of dark, gleaming electronica to the anticipated velveteen ballads, calling on all of Grant’s influences and tastes, presenting an artist at the peak of his powers…" which makes him sound like an expensive single malt.
Two questions:
What's he burying (or digging up)?
Does he remind anyone else of Eddie Izzard?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Albums for Life: 83: Ennio Morricone: Once Upon a Time in America

I guess that you need to love the film to love this and I lurve the film; maybe my favourite.
If you have not seen it, it's a four hour commitment but well worthy of your time. The film is soon to be released as was intended before the inevitable studio cuts took an hour off its initial 4 and a half hours. Director Sergio Leone was heartbroken by the edits and never made another film. Martin Scorsese is working with Leone's family and estate to resurrect the director's original 269 minutes; what he and many others regarded as his best work.
The musical themes are perfectly realized and bring certain scenes to mind immediately; particularly one heartbreaking moment where DeNiro's character, who has been reminiscing about his past imperfect, suddenly catches his older reflection in a window...
It was close between this soundtrack and Ennio's other masterpiece 'Cinema Paradiso' but there's more variety here and... it's just a better piece.
Watch, listen and weep.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Albums for Life: 84: Rufus Wainwright: Poses

I first became aware of Wainwright through his Dad's song 'Rufus is a Tit Man'; Loudoun Wainwright's paean to his hungry, breast feeding baby. The providing mother was Kate McGarrigle; his deep genetic pool promised 'talent' and 'attitude'.
20 odd years later he emerged with a promising debut album; which he followed up pretty smartly with 'Poses'.
Rufus has gone on to great success with a whole string of ambitious and eclectic albums; he veers from folk to opera (often in the same song) with consummate ease. Maybe too much ease, as, for me, his vocal gymnastics and artistic vision seems to have become more important than the songs. He's like the talented boy whose parents push him forward at Xmas gatherings; seemingly reluctant at first, then you just can't shut him up. Yup, our Rufus likes to show off his talent; now, often a wearying wailing wall of sound; signifying not a lot other than how sparkly he is...
I get the feeling that he's no longer singing to me but at me, or to his own, very lovely reflection.
And the camping and vamping is awfully impressive, I guess that you've got to admire the ambition, but his convoluted baroque 'n' roll is not particularly lovable.
The connection's gone; I prefer it when he looks you in the eye...

'Posies' had heart and humor; the boy was making giant strides whilst still taking baby steps; sure there was ambition aplenty but the voice sang directly to us, not to the royal box or indeed the heavens. There was a delicate vulnerability in the tremulous, rich, warm, beautiful delivery that marked him as a real talent; arch and self aware sure, but focussed, reigned in and emotionally engaging.
I've posted 'Tower of Learning' and 'Poses'; their original videos followed by live performances by the family. And, as we started this post with mother's milk, let's finish it with some chocolate milk...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Albums for Life: 85: Bjork: Debut

In the late 80s I remember Mark Fox, my then A&R man at Zomba publishing, giving me cassettes with demos from bands that he wondered about signing. For some reason he trusted my ear. One memorable cassette had songs from Wet Wet Wet, an early take on Deacon Blue's 'Dignity', 'Chase the Fox' from John Shuttleworth (Jilted John) and the original demo for what would become (for a while) the fastest selling single of all time for Whitney Huston, 'I Want to Dance With Somebody'.
He turned them all away; nowt to do with me I might add.
And then there was 'Birthday', a song from an Icelandic band called The Sugar Cubes. It was the singer that caught the ear; a yelping confusion of joy and sorrow; the voice of a euphoric and slightly dizzy alien...
All of those qualities were later captured perfectly by producer Nellee Hooper in 1993 on her first solo album, the imaginatively titled 'Debut'Brimming with emotion and singing from a different prayer book than the rest of us, Bjork did indeed seem to have come from a different planet. It's a hothouse of emotional intensity, stylings akimbo and housed in 'Electronica' and 'House' vibes, the calming beats and quirky samples provided the perfect background for her unsettlingly beautiful songs. The diversity of musical templates were all drawn into a unified whole by the clarity and focus of Bjork's intense delivery, a voice that skips unerringly between tender and terrifying. The effect is unsettling, yet... strangely calming and utterly charming. I think it's that contradiction that made the album so compelling. I put this on the other day and thought it was a greatest hits collection, so dense and memorable is the quality of the piece.
Her videos were pretty 'otherworldly' too...

Friday, 7 December 2012

How High's Yer Brow?

"No more dragging this wormy anus 'round on shag piles from Persia to Thrace. I've severed my reeking gonads,  fed them to your shrunken face"

Yes folks, Scott Walker has a new album out.
I've not heard it yet and am bracing myself for the inevitable joyful experience.
He's a challenge is Scott; revered and reviled in equal measures.
And that's just by me...
Scott's not really into 'connecting' these days.
Go on, try and catch his eye...

I admire his artistic ambition; he definitely sets a lofty bar.
According to The Quietus review, with 'Bish Bosch' Walker continues to develop 

"a late style utterly at odds with the music that made him a superstar. From certain perspectives, Walker's career hinges on the break of the mid-eighties, before which he was a performer of skewed romantic pop, and after which he became incorrigibly committed to envelope-pushing indebted to the literature (notably Beckett and Paul Celan) and music (particularly György Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis) of postwar European modernism. Indeed, the very idea of 'late style' emerges from the context of that ultra-ascetic avant-garde: the notion was cultivated by Theodor Adorno, late modernism's great theorist, to describe the way that Beethoven's mature work enacted – in Edward Said's helpful paraphrase – "a contradictory, alienated relationship."
Mmm, I guess there's no cow bell then...
Scott's also chosen his Ten Favourite Films.
You'll be astonished not to find 'Die Hard 3' on his list...
I don't think we'll be seeing him on Graham Norton's couch in the near future.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Albums for Life: 86: David Mead: Mine and Yours

'Mine and Yours' is 'Pop Lite', but pop perfection.
Many have been damned with the 'Macartneyesque' comparison.
It was more than justified by this cracking collection. There are no edges here, nothing to get you rubbing your chin and reaching for the Thesaurus; this is nowt but classic songwriting; fantastic singing, elevated by unchallenging yet perfect arrangements. The songs do exactly what you want them to, but with such winning warmth and big hearted benevolence that you just want to give the speakers a huge hug of gratitude. Sure, there are one or two moments of heartache but that's more than tempered by the bouncy Tin Pan classicism of it all. A winning combination one would have thought; apparently not, as Mead never saw that success that this album suggested was inevitable. I saw him live and solo at the time, with about 100 other folk (half full/empty) at London's Borderline club...

The follow up 'Indiana' was less glossy, a more introspective affair; normally my preferred mood, and it might indeed be a better album for that undercurrent of melancholy, but it was through 'Mine and Yours' that I discovered Mead's penchant for perfect pop.
He's still recording; going the now inevitable route of fan funded recordings. The cap in his hand that should be on his head could be a crown; the man is a prince of pop rendered a pauper by these strange times...
I had trouble finding videos to represent the album so...
First two tracks and the last one are tasters from his new album 'Dudes'.
Then there are some live clips from The Ivy League sessions.
Not knockout (Mead seems kind of weary of it all) but hopefully
enough to guide you to his string of fine albums.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Albums: 87: :The Sundays: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

In the late 80's a lot of bands were mimicking the jangle and rolling strum of Johnny Marr, and nobody did jangley adult pop better than The Smiths until... this band; with their first single they had the same 'where did that come from?' impact that the 'The Las' would later have with 'There She Goes'. 'Here's Where the Story Ends' went to number 1 in the US. No 'one hit wonders' though, they went on to release 'Blind' (92) and their final album 'Static and Silence' in 1997, which gave them their biggest UK hit with 'Summertime'.
All good stuff but how could they ever rediscover the charming naivety that gracefully elevated their stunning debut to such giddy heights?

Harriet Wheeler's voice floats euphorically above the sweet, toothless union of Joy Division and The Smiths; not a bitter pill sugar coated; more a blissful bileless bellyful of influence; her melodies are joyful still...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Albums For Life: 88: Kelly Joe Phelps: Sky Like a Broken Clock

This was a progression for Kelly Joe. Always a superb finger picker; maestro of the slide, his songs often played second fiddle to virtuoso displays of fretmanship. Where previously his blues progressions shaped the structures of the songwriting, here he sublimates that wild talent; effectively putting down the lap steel to sit on his hands and focus on story telling. He houses underbelly tales of the homeless and dysfunctional in the refuge of a warm band sound; it's less about performance, more about the song. The folksy vibe disappointed a lot of his old fans who admired him as a purist; a bluesman knee deep in the conventions that can constrict that genre.

Lyrically obtuse yet totally involving, these cliche free songs cast a cryptic eye on matters of the heart; often a heart of darkness, but still; all heart. If you want that particular organ massaged and squeezed a little, try and seek out the tall tale of 'Tommy' and his mice... I can't find it anywhere other than Spotify.
Here's 'Taylor John' from the album followed by a twitchy live performance of 'Beggar's Oil'. As ever his live performance reduces the song to it's raw essence, a taster; you really need to hear the album to get the full flavour of the stew.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Sticks and Stones

Sorry for dumbing down but in a recent road rage incident I was called a 'silver fox f*cker' which I thought was an odd but creative insult. As usual I spent the next hour or so thinking what my come back should have been rather than the 'wifiyootoo' that I managed. This somehow led me to these compilation clips of 'The Greatest Film Insults of All Time'. Be warned; the language is very strong. If you are easily offended I'd go for the second clip. Otherwise, sit back and bathe in some of the finest bile ever committed to celluloid. If you are not blowing fountains of snot by the end you are the son of a motherless goat... or a secretary...  Finally, we all know that shortly after the insults come the threats; 100 of them in the third clip.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Albums for Life: 89: Boo Hewerdine: Thanksgiving

Tell me that a lover's touch 
Is more than nature planting seeds
Oh what am I to believe?
South of here the winter's kinder
So they leave to find fair weather
And how high our spirits rise
On their returning

Blimey, surprisingly this was a toughie.
Almost as tough as Boo looks on the cover.
He's come for the rent?
No! He's given you his heart and soul... and he wants them back!

Trying to choose a top Boo record is a bit like having to decide which of one of your girlfriend's toes you like best; of course they're all beautiful, just slightly misshapen; occasionally corny, sometimes smelly even...
That's possibly why this ranks so ridiculously low; the songs are randomly great but... is there one defining album?
It could have been 'Baptist Hospital' but I always got the feeling that album was a bit of a haven for lost or homeless songs.
And then there's the beauteous 'Anon', I know that Boo holds that one particularly dear, and I too love it as, possibly, his most complete album, but... everything sits pretty and in situ on 'Thanksgiving' so I'm plumping (or is it plumbing?) for it.
It has an acoustic vibe that makes for a homely feast; the strings are lovingly arranged; the whole thing is beautifully understated; it just kind of unwinds...
I've posted a couple of random selections:
First up is the exquisite lead track 'The Birds are Leaving' (possibly my favourite solo Boo song) followed by 'Bell Book and a Candle'; as heard on Emmerdale...
Then I've featured 'Patience of Angels'; it's not on 'Thanksgiving' but it's lovely and the video might guide you to the excellent songwriting circle session that Boo did with Justin Currie and Chris Difford.
I've also attached this photo of the bard without glasses, if only for its shock value.
It'll definitely keep the pigeons off your sprouts...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Albums for Life: 90: Nine Horses: Snow Bourne Sorrow

It's a day full of dreams
It's a dream of a day

One of the benefits of David Sylvian having so many side projects is that I can pick this and also have one of his solo albums in my list. 
Sylvian described Nine Horses as  "a disembodied band". 
The album was made in 2005 with his brother Steve Jansen (ex Japan), the excellently named electronica guru Burnt Friedman, and featured guest appearances from Ryuichi Sakamoto, singer Stina Nordenstam and trumpeter Arve Henriksen. 

With 'Snow Bourne Sorrow', all of the usual Sylvian signposts apply: 'haunting beauty' 'ground breaking', 'style fusing', yet there's a warmth to the production and fat jazz chords that makes it one of his most accessible works; particularly relevant as the project was shelved in deference to Sylvian's quirky, spartan, borderline bonkers 'Blemish'.
This can be a challenging album too, if you want to really concentrate on it. Alternatively you can switch off and just wallow in its wonderful warmth.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Free Music: Over the Rhine & Rachael Yamagata

You might remember my 'Albums for Life' piece on Over the Rhine's 'Drunkard's Prayer'.
You've probably also noticed that I've recently made 'Ghost of Song' available through NoiseTrade as a free download.
Over the Rhine have just done the same thing with their lovely Xmas album 'Snow Angels'.
You can get it gratis here at NoiseTrade.
Another recommended freebie is Rachael Yamagata's 'Noisetrade Loft Sessions Mixtape' which is delicate piano balladry at its best.
You can, of course, still get 'Ghost of Song' here, or by clicking the button on the right... fill yer boots!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Quietus: Baker's Dozen

I seem to be mining the rich vein that is The Quietus of late (notwithstanding the execrable Mr Agr**able).
'Baker's Dozen' will resonate with those of us who are pontificating over our favourite albums here and elsewhere.
Here's an interview with Scottish novelist Ian Rankin, a man known for peppering his plots with musical references. He's asked by the tome to choose his 'Bakers' Dozen'; his favourite 13 albums; something he found "really really difficult. Who are you going to leave off that list? As somebody who has been listening to music for over 40 years, and collecting albums, there are thousands and thousands of things I would have included given the chance. I thought which albums would be like a diary of my life. Albums that I can listen to over and over again, but that also resonate with me, for the stories behind them."
Sound familiar?

If Rankin's Throbbing Gristle/Hawkwind/Bowie rousing racket doesn't appeal you could do worse than have a look at Beth Orton's familiar folky fare in the same series...

Hell, to stop me being lazy and regurgitating ad hoc, access all of the (mainly) fascinating lists here: