Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ten Albums That Impressed Me This Week (26/2)

Roxy Music - Country Life




Bill Fay - Bill Fay



Millie Jackson - Still Caught Up




The Facts of Life - Sometimes



U2 - Boy



John Cale - Music For a New Society



The Cars - Shake It Up




Various Artists - The Birth of Soul Vol. 2




Portishead - Dummy



Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Ask Forgiveness






Saturday, 25 February 2017

Ten Songs That Were Number 1 On This Date (26/2)

Another fortnight, another 10 Number 1s.

It's a 70s heavy selection - but several solid classics.

Which do you think is the best?



1958 - Michael Holliday - The Story of My Life



1959 - Elvis Presley - One Night



1966 - Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'



1969 - Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go To My Lovely?



1972 - Chicory Tip - Son of My Father



1974 - Suzi Quatro - Devil Gate Drive



1975 - Steve Harley & The Cockney Rebel - Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)



1976 - The Four Seasons - December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)



1977 - Leo Sayer - When I Need You



1984 - Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax




Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Ten Reasons Why I Might Lose It If Someone Talks of the 'Will of the People' In Relation to Brexit Once More.



I don't intend this blog to become very political, but sometimes things get under your skin, you know? One such thing is the phrase, rolled out again and again, 'the will of the people'. The purpose of the phrase is to suggest that any dissent on Brexit is anti-democratic and therefore to be condemned. And it's driving me insane...


  • I opposed Brexit, am I not one of the people? What's more, over 16m opposed Brexit - are they not 'the people' too?
  • Give the nature of the debate and the dishonesty of the campaigns it is not clear what the people wanted
  • Brexit was never effectively defined. Just because the people voted for x, it does not follow that they wanted x1 or x2 or so on. Therefore we cannot say exactly what the 'will of the people' is.
  • 'The People' are often wrong. Just because the people want something it does not follow that they should get it.
  • It fails the fact-value distinction - it may be a fact that the people want x, it does not follow that there is any moral obligation that x should be done
  • It is the democratic duty of our MPs, Lords and judiciary to scrutinise and challenge the proposals that are made in or though Parliament. As such they are not running against the 'will of the people' - they are doing their job
  • The term 'will of the people' is nonsensical. People are not in any sense so singular that they could have a will.
  • The voices most predisposed to using the phrase have been demonstrated again and again to not have the interests of the people in mind (Daily Mail, Daily Express, some politicians)
  • Given the contentious nature of the debate, it is not a given that a majority of the people would still will for that outcome. 
  • The age range of the people who willed for Brexit is such that the majority will have died before we have, if we ever do, leave the EU. The same cannot be said for those who will live to see it. Might we have a time where respecting the will of the people is equivalent to ignoring the will of the living?

So, argue for Brexit if you must. If someone is arguing back, however. then please respond with something better than that they are failing to respect the 'will of the people'. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ten Reasons Why Mean Streets is the Definitive Scorsese Movie

Talk about Scorsese and a certain number of films will come up quickly; Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull. These are, without question, amongst the greatest examples of American Cinema. It is also true to say that one thing that is often neglected is how diverse Scorsese films are. For every classic crime drama there is a Kundun, a Last Temptation of Christ or an Age of Innocence. That said, there are a set number of things that we typically anticipate when thinking about these films; for example, we think of them as New York films.

Anyway, while I don't expect to convince anyone of this, I contend that one film is the Scorsesiest of them all. One film encapsulates all the stereotypes so much that if you wanted a one-stop shop for a classic Scorsese movie, this should be the one. So forget Taxi Driver and the rest; Mean Streets is the one.

It just happens to be a bonus that Mean Streets is my favourite movie. I appreciate that it is not the best movie, or even the best Scorsese movie, but it presses my movie-buttons like no other.

Soundtrack

Aside from possibly Tarantino, no director has utilised the power of a pop music soundtrack more effectively. There are songs that have been utterly redefined by their use in Scorsese or Tarantino's movies. Think of Neil Diamond's 'Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon' (or the near identical Urge Overkill version) and the first thought is Pulp Fiction. Similarly, the second half of Layla is now the soundtrack to De Niro's cleaning up killing spree in Goodfellas.

The soundtrack to Mean Streets is pretty much perfect. Aside from the obligatory Stones tracks (including the criminally neglected 'Tell Me') and Cream, there are classics from The Ronettes, Shirelles and Marvelettes. Johnny Ace makes an appearance alongside some proper Italian ballads courtesy of Giuseppe De Stefano and Renato Carosone. In short, it is inspired.


Italian-American

While it is true that Scorsese has reflected various American communities throughout his career, none of them are his so much as Italian-American. He even made a documentary movie by that title that centred around his parents - it's been a while since I saw it, but I remember it fondly. Anyway, Mean Streets is grounded firmly in the tightness of that community. One of the perpetual themes of commentary on the film is the extent to which it is basically Scorsese's life during the mid-60s. I came across this quote via youtube (of all places):

"In my mind, it's not really a film - it's a declaration or a statement of who I am and how I was living; those thoughts and dilemmas and conflicts were very much a part of my life up to that point in time...There is no message. It's something that came out of me organically. The only way to express it was: camera and dialogue and actors and color and music. In my mind it was a representation of who I was, my friends, and where I came from. The genesis was my life."

Robert De Niro

No actor is as associated with Scorsese as De Niro - not even DiCaprio, who has starred in more recent movies. (Interesting side-note: Scorsese's collaboration with DiCaprio came as a result of a recommendation from De Niro, who had worked with Leo on 'This Boy's Life'.) In Mean Streets, De Niro gives one of his most manic performances. Sure, he is more iconic in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, but here he is hungry. The frenzy of Johnny-Boy is beyond compare.






New York

The city is as much of a character here as Charlie (Harvey Keitel), Johnny-Boy (Robert De Niro) or Michael (Richard Romanus). New York and the Feast of San Gennaro form the backdrop for the story and adds and explains the heightened sense of chaos that the film relies upon. While it is far narrower in scope than some of the grander representations of the city (Manhattan, Die Hard 3), focusing firmly upon one small neighbourhood, it is still unmistakably a New York film - even if it was filmed largely in Los Angeles.




Violence/Gangsters

Mean Streets is significantly less violent than many of Scorsese's later films and by the same token, the vision of gangsters or organised crime is much more sedate. In fact, the most violent scene in the film is mostly played for laughs (the bar fight, you mook!). However, the threat of violence, even if it is more moderate, is pervasive and persistent and is what makes Charlie's penance meaningful.

The role of organised crime is far closer here to the Godfather, than to Scarface or even Goodfellas. It is a family business; it is immediate and part of the fabric of the community whether you approved or not. Part of the charm of Mean Streets is the intimacy of the presence of crime - the parochialism of Giovanni - he's just looking out for his nephew.


Scorsese's own family

Here it is almost certainly a matter of finance, but the appearance of la familia Scorsese is as much a trademark of the director as anything else. His mother appears twice in the film - once as the woman in the hallway and again as the woman shutting the window at the very end of the film.


Humour

Scorsese movies, even when they are deadly serious, reflect moments of life in which cracks of humour shine in. We see it in the famous 'You talkin' to me' scene in Taxi Driver, Jimmy 'two times' in Goodfellas, the whole of Afterhours. Scorsese can move from perilous to hilarious and back better than any director I can think of and Mean Streets is no exception. From the 'Mook' bar fight to the improvised conversation between Charlie and Johnny-Boy, when it needs to reflect the humour that is found in all aspects of life, Mean Streets is very funny.




Inventive shots

It is well documented that Scorsese is a perpetual student of film. As a child he was sickly, and so most of his youth was spent at the cinema and he soaked everything in. If you've not seen A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, I cannot recommend it highly enough (I might have to rewatch it myself). In it, he not only demonstrates his knowledge of cinema, but his unbridled love of it. As such, even on this, his third feature (it could be argued his first real movie), his technique is already advanced. Given the lowkey and small nature of the film - in terms of its scope - and its moderate budget, Scorsese still manages to use the camera in ways that dazzle and draw you into the world. You can smell the world that Scorsese is showing you - that's a good filmmaker right there.


Being simultaneously progressive and regressive

This is probably the most contentious point on this list. I find that Scorsese, because of his subjects, often portray positions that are regressive - sexist, racist, homophobic etc. The worldviews and assumptions of his characters are the worldviews and assumptions of the traditional and typically chauvinistic. However, Scorsese is not that character and so he often finds ways of subverting the regressive and raising questions of it, either through the story or through the lens by which the story is told. Raging Bull is probably the clearest example here.

Mean Streets is problematic in this respect. Scorsese addresses the racism of his home community. Charlie develops a crush on Diane - a black stripper played by Jeannie Bell (TNT Jackson). He recognises the prejudice of those around him and calls it to question, even though it gives him sufficient pause to miss his moment with her. More problematic however is the portrayal of a gay character, which is a grotesque caricature. No doubt this was a character that you could find in downtown Manhattan in the 1960s, but even so, watching it today feels uncomfortable.


Religion

The film, if it is about anything, beyond Scorsese's world growing up that is, is about Charlie's attempt to reconcile his faith to the world that confronted him in his neighbourhood, friends and family. The opening lines of the film read, 'You don't make up for your sins in the church, you make up for them on the streets. The rest is all bullshit and you know it.' The film is a playing out of this thesis. Charlie wants to be a good Catholic; he knows he's a sinner and he knows that he has to pay for that sin - the question is what counts as meaningful penance.

It is no secret that the young Scorsese's alternate career was the priesthood. He was very drawn to the seminary. His subsequent films have returned explicitly to the problems of religion and redemption both explicit (Last Temptation, Kundun and his most recent, Silence) and implicit (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) - but here, in Mean Streets, do we see Scorsese's faith - his admiration for St. Francis, his belief in the possibility of salvation in the world.


Anyway, there is it. I love this film and hold Scorsese to be possibly the greatest director of the second half of the 20th century.

As a bonus - here is a Q&A Scorsese did on Mean Streets in 2011







Ten Albums That Impressed Me This Week (19/2)

Week ending 19th Feb 2017

Every week I listen to lots of albums - on average three or four a day. Once a week, roughly about this time (i.e. the weekend), I will note the ten albums that have impressed me the most. Usually, they will have impressed me positively; but not necessarily.

I may not make much commentary, if any. Although discussion in the comments is encouraged.

Doris Duke - I'm a Loser


Top notch Southern Soul. I'll never get tired of Swamp Dogg's production on the opener 'He's Gone'

John Cale - Fragments of a Rainy Season


Very different to the other live album I have of Cale ('Sabotage'); much more low key - just him and a piano. Intimate but I am not sure I prefer it...

The Kinks - Village Green Preservation Society


Dion - Dion


Come for the weird-ass version of Hendrix's 'Purple Haze', stay for the quality sixties troubadour-ing.

Abba - Voulez Vous


The last great Abba album and their most Disco.

Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - Mainstream


The Impressions - This is My Country


See my post on Curtis Mayfield! This is a great example of why Curtis is genius.

Tom Waits - The Heart of Saturday Night


Lovely, early Asylum era Waits. The title track is one my very favourites.

Grace Jones - Warm Leatherette


One day I will write a list of things to demonstrate why Grace Jones is amazing. In the mean time, we'll just have to admit to ourselves that a week in which I listen to a Grace Jones album is likely to be a week that she appears in a list like this.

Deaf School - 2nd Honeymoon


This is sort of silly, but irresistible.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Ten Reasons Why Curtis Mayfield Deserves His Place in the Pantheon

Ask most people about Curtis Mayfield and it's likely that there's only one track that they have in mind - 'Move on Up'. Now I don't want to knock this song at all - it's a monster and it is so well known for good reason. However, Mayfield had a career that lasted for almost 30 years and for the ten (ish) years covered here, he was on fire!

This list is noting some of the amazing tunes Curtis has given us that aren't 'Move On Up' - in other words, ten reasons why Curtis Mayfield should be a name at top of any list of great singer/songwriters, R&B artists, or rock'n'roll heroes full stop.


The Impressions - People Get Ready (1965)



One thing that is easy to overlook is the fact that Curtis Mayfield's career did not begin with his debut solo album. He had already had a full decade with one of Chicago's leading R&B vocal groups, The Impressions. This band launched not only Curtis' career but also Jerry Butler's and proved to be remarkably influential.

The word anthem was invented for songs like this, and this is illustrated by the looong list of cover versions that have been produced. It is uplifting and purposeful and alongside Sam Cooke's 'A Change is Gonna Come' it exemplifies the not only the mood but also the soul of the Civil Rights Movement. The close association of salvation with emancipation places it in the long tradition of African-American spirituals, but much like The Staples Singers, who also covered it, it never slips wholly into an other-worldliness - it keeps it's eyes firmly on the real life goals of equality and dignity.

The Impressions - We're A Winner (1968)



Maintaining the same emphasis - positivity, empowerment, pride and vitality. It's notable for a host of reasons, but it's an early indication of the direction that Mayfield's career and sound was going to go. The horns and high pitched guitars and falsetto vocals - even the chorus is looking forward to Curtis' most famous song.

The Impressions - Seven Years (1969)



While Curtis could write top-notch songs of social consciousness, we could just as well turn his hand to love, romance and heartbreak. 'Seven Years' from the brilliant 'Young Mod's Forgotten Story' traces the demise and breakdown of a long term relationship. To track such a story whilst maintaining a rhythm so upbeat shows the extent that Curtis was influenced by Motown.

Baby Huey & the Babysitters (1971) - Hard Times



Aside from the Curtis we know from his solo material and with The Impressions, what is not so generally recognised is his work with other artists. He was an accomplished writer, producer, as well as establishing a solidly successful label (at least for a time). Amongst the people that Curtis worked with was a younger Donny Hathaway, who was about to set out on an incredible if sadly short career of his own, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, Linda Clifford and the amazing Baby Huey. The latter's album is a monster, produced by Mayfield, and is a classic of psychedelic soul.

(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Gonna Go (1970)


Curtis' solo career burst into existence with Curtis, released on his own Curtom label in 1970. It included the perennial, Move On Up, but it opened with this, without doubt the heaviest piece that Curtis ever wrote. The lyrics are damning, but the music, while deep, is relentlessly upbeat. If we're all off to Hell, I hope that it sounds like this.

We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue (1970)


The same album produced this. No-one managed the same level of social commentary whilst still being so beautiful.

Pusherman (1972)





The relationship between Mayfield and the movie Superfly is pretty well documented so I am not going to repeat too much of it again here. Suffice it to say, Curtis' score elevates what was a pretty good, if flawed, blaxploitation movie to classic status. His choice to contrast the sympathetic portrayal of a drug dealer's plan to escape the ghetto with bitter social realism illustrates his genius.

(Also, I LOVE Soul Train)

If I Were Only A Child Again (1973)


Not much to say - just a great tune!


So In Love (1975)


Chilled out, soulful Curtis. A beautiful song about being deep in love. One of the awesome things about Curtis is that he never feels cheesy, or worse sweaty, in the way that Barry White or Isaac Hayes sometimes did. When he sings of love, it feels like love. It feels like spending time together, feeling good in each others' company.

Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here (1977)



Another soundtrack - another classic. Again, heavy as anything.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Ten Shows I Wish My Wife Liked...

Like many couples, my wife and I spend a lot of time watching TV together. Most shows we both like and I suppose it is fortuitous that we have such shared tastes - that, or to be expected given that, you know, we love each other and so overlap a lot.

Anyway, despite all that there are some shows that she simply hasn't bitten on. Some she has watched one or two episodes and not been drawn. Some she is simply repelled by.


Hill Street Blues

We should watch this for the theme music alone. And then it's being genuinely seminal TV.



Phoenix Nights

I do get that this is not everyone's taste, and Peter Kay is certainly over-rated in my book. But if there is one thing that Kay has done that makes him worthy of adulation, it's this.



M*A*S*H

To be fair, my wife has made it plain on many occasions that she does not like war films, and even though this is a sitcom set in a mobile army surgical hospital, it may be a little close to the line. Either way, her verdict: not funny. Perhaps it is revenge for my not liking Scrubs very much...?



Curb Your Enthusiasm

This is probably my fault. I showed her possibly the worst, most cringe-y, painful episode from possibly the worst, most cringe-y, painful TV show. This was poor judgement - she may never recover.



The Larry Sanders Show

We did try with this, but I am not quite sure what happened...



Becker

To be fair, this post-Cheers Ted Danson vehicle was not awesome. I'll concede that it was pretty patchy. But even so I like it. Again, her verdict: not funny...



Bod

There is a little backstory here, which I won't go into. Anyway, this is one of those weird pleasures I have carried over from childhood - sort of weird, creepy, contentless, funky (in an early 70s Derek Griffiths sort of way). I guess you had to be a 70s kid to get it and that rules her out. Sad face,,,



Star Trek: TNG

Star Trek: DS9

Star Trek: TOS




I couldn't decide whether this should be a single entry or three. I decided on the latter. Not only are these shows awesome (in the order presented above), but they form a key point on my world view. One day, I keep promising myself, one day, I'll convince her. And when I do, I'll not make the mistake I made with Curb...



I now sit in anticipation of a post from her of shows that she wishes that I liked!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Ten Songs That Were Number 1 On This Date

1962 - Cliff Richard and the Shadows - The Young Ones



1965 - The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'




1968 - Manfred Mann - The Mighty Quinn




1971 - George Harrison - My Sweet Lord




1973 - The Sweet - Blockbuster




1979 - Blondie - Heart of Glass




1982 - The Jam - A Town Called Malice/Precious




1983 - Men At Work - Down Under




1987 - Aretha Franklin & George Michael - I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)




2003 - T.A.T.U. - All the Things She Said


Ten Albums That Impressed Me This Week (12/2)

Week ending 12th Feb 2017

Every week I listen to lots of albums - on average three or four a day. Once a week, roughly about this time (i.e. the weekend), I will note the ten albums that have impressed me the most. Usually, they will have impressed me positively; but not necessarily.

I may not make much commentary, if any. Although discussion in the comments is encouraged.

Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy


Aside from 'The Crunge' and 'D'yer Maker', both of which I found a bit embarrassing, this album is a monster!

Nina Nastasia - The Blackened Air




Dire Straits - Making Movies


Romeo and Juliet - I need say no more.

Townes Van Zandt - Townes Van Zandt


I never fail to be blown away by this guy.

Oumou Sangare - Seya


A bit of prep for a piece I knocked up for Vanguard. A new album coming in May - that's exciting!

Supertramp - Crime of the Century


The right end of prog for me - Prog with a massive smear of pop thrown in. 'Bloody Well Right' was very enjoyable.

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds




Tortoise & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Brave and the Bold


Not necessary the best from either BPB or Tortoise, but it has some very interesting covers on it (Daniel, Thunder Road, The Calvary Cross)

Leo Sayer - Endless Flight


A new purchase, and a risky one at that. On first listen it was a very pleasant surprise. Who knows if it will hold up...?

United States of America - United States of America





Saturday, 11 February 2017

Ten Actors Who Make Being Bald Look Good


As a folicly challenged man, these guys make me feel a little better.
  • Gene Hackman
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Ed Harris
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Bryan Cranston (as Walter White)
  • Larry David
  • Bruce Willis
  • Jason Statham
  • Sean Connery
  • Telly Savalas

Friday, 10 February 2017

Ten Live Albums

Live albums, there's a lot of them. Sometimes they function as a greatest hits album and sometimes they are simply a marker - a place in their journey, or a contractual stop-gap. Sometimes, they are remarkable albums in their own right, bringing something new and distinct to an artist's discography.

Generally, I am not a massive fan of them, but here are ten live albums that I think are worthy of comment.

Sam Cooke - Live at the Harlem Square Club



This album was a revelation to me. I knew and admired Sam Cooke; I knew his reputation as the singer that all the later classic soul singers looked up to (Otis, Aretha, Marvin Gaye and so on). But to be honest, I just didn't feel it - his recordings were too polished and cleaned up. They were a product of the late 50s, very early 60s; it was either the Chitlin Circuit or the Supper Clubs, and Cooke had a pretty enough voice (note his time with the gospel group The Soul Stirrers) to appeal to the latter. And then I heard this, and the scales fell off - here was Sam Cooke, the SOUL singer. Here, he is much closer to Otis than to Nat King Cole. This kind of revelation is one of the reasons that a live album can be an essential document.


Bill Withers - Live at Carnegie Hall



Live at Carnegie Hall was Bill Withers' third album. It might be unusual to move so quickly to a format that capitalises on previous work rather than to build up a greater body of studio work first, but for Bill Withers, it was the perfect presentation of what made him so awesome. There's no flash or show off about this; it's just a double album of great great songs with a groove so so deep - you can't help but want to tap your feet and clap along, Also, the introduction to Withers' classic 'Grandma's Hands' is worth the price of admission alone.


Jane Birkin - Arabesque



I haven't too much to say about this album. Jane Birkin decides to reconfigure a selection of her ex-husband's most famous songs - many of which he wrote for her - by having them arranged by Djamel Benyelles, an Algerian violinist. The new arrangements are beautiful and Birkin commits to them incredibly. It breathes new and exciting life into Gainsbourg's work - especially if, like me, the French is somewhat lost on you.


Keith Jarrett - The Köln Concert



The story behind this album is fairly legendary: Jarrett was in bad shape, tired, with his back in a brace. He arrived late and found that the piano he expected was not present. The piano that was present was in poor condition especially the higher and lower notes - forcing Jarrett to improvisation in the middle registers. He almost refused to play, but was convinced. The constraints were evidently inspiring as it is without doubt entrancing and dazzling in so so many ways. I'm not the only one to think so - it is the best selling piano recording of all time and Jarrett's most successful work.


Nina Simone - Emergency Ward



Nina Simone released so many live albums that the odds were pretty high that at least one of them would make this list. In addition, almost all of them bring something interesting to the table, Simone was such a powerful and idiosyncratic performer. I have chosen this album despite the fact that it contains only three songs and none of them are in themselves songs that Simone is known for. However, the whole album is a resonant prayer of protest. The first piece, the first of two George Harrison covers, 'My Sweet Lord' harnesses a full gospel choir and appears to be a faithful celebration of God. Until, that it is - about 13 minutes into the song - Simone turns the tables and breaks into the poem 'Today is a Killer' by David Nelson. At this point, Simone's desire to see God is less about fulfilment of faith and more demanding an explanation for His absence in the face of pain and injustice.


Johnny Cash - At San Quentin



Aside from having the coolest cover on this list, this album is surely a worthy contender for greatest live album ever (a claim I wouldn't make for all the entries here). This wasn't Cash's first prison album - he had performed at Folsom Prison the year before; and as amazing as that performance was, this one exceeded it on all levels. The energy, the passion, the hatred of the venue and the misery it represented, are viscerally present in both singer and audience. Cash is literally on fire. And it contains the debut performance of 'A Boy Named Sue'.


Coil - Live Three



Horror author Clive Barker said that Coil were the only band that whose records he had taken off because they had made his bowels churn. I am fairly certain that that was meant as a compliment. Coil do induce a sense of dis-ease like no other and the sets of live disks released in 2002-3 are testament to that. I was hard pressed to choose between Live Three and Live Four, and I'm still not sure I've made the right choice. All I can say is that this is the only album on this list that makes me simultaneously sad and relieved that I wasn't present.


U2 - Under a Blood Red Sky



This album is a real transition. It marks the moment that Bono and Co. realised their potential and that destiny was, at least temporarily, staring them dead in the eye. It sits between the post-punk wannabes and the stadium giants they were to become. While the first side is more fun, including a couple of B-sides, it is the second, which capitalises on their most recent hits 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and 'New Years Day' that reveals the band stepping into Rock Godhood.


Bauhaus - Press the Eject and Give Me The Tape



I had to include this record since it largely changed my life. I will not go into the full story here (I have elsewhere) but my world was cracked wide open, most notably the John Cale cover (Rose Garden Funeral of Sores). The album as a whole is an excellent document of a band at the height of its powers. While it isn't quite broad enough to act as a greatest hits album (it precedes their 4th and 5th LPs), it does offer definitive and superior versions of songs found on earlier releases (the aforementioned, but also The Spy in the Cab, The Man with X-Ray Eyes, and, to be controversial, their classic 'Bela Lagosi's Dead).


Otis Redding - Live at Monterey



Breaking my rules a little here as this was never an album in its own right. As you can see from the album artwork above, it was released as a single split disk along with Jimi Hendrix's performance from Monterey. As an aside, that performance is also phenomenal. All the same, several live releases are devoted to Otis, and while they are invariably excellent - given the heavy ad libbing, his studio albums were sort of live anyway - they are pretty similar. Inevitable given the short time period they cover. However, I chose this one because it turned me on to Otis as a teenager who was mostly slipping into goth-dom (it made for some interesting mixtape interludes). If Redding had not died merely months later, it might have proven a pivotal recording for him - it ensured him a place in the rock'n'roll pantheon. Side note: Brian Jones was watching from the wings during the performance of The Stones' 'Satisfaction' with tears in his eyes.









Thursday, 9 February 2017

Ten Things

A new blog... But why, James..?

I want somewhere to put lists of things.

Lists of ten things.

They are likely to be pop culture related, but I make no promises. I also make no claim that the lists will be of the ten best things. They will just be ten things. I hope that, if you read them, you will add more things. They will be come lists of eleven or twelve, or more.