Saturday, 1 May 2010

Dinosaur Jr and miracles



I have many good memories of travelling across London to the Brixton Academy to see a band but none so more that the time I went to see Dinosaur Jr with my buddy Jason.

I met Jason and his mate Jack at his house in Wimbledon and then caught the bus from Colliers Wood down to Brixton. Before getting on the bus we bought a quarter bottle of whiskey , a quarter bottle of vodka and 3 cans of Coke. The idea was that you drank half a can of Coke then topped it up with booze, then drank half a can and then topped it up again and so on. After 4 cycles the Coke was so diluted that you wouldn’t know there was any in the can! This was one way of getting drunk very quickly and by the time we got to Brixton we were all over the place!

Thinking back, we must have got the tube at some part of the journey as I remembers quite vividly the train breaking sharply and Jack rolling almost head over heels down the whole length of the carriage! Not one person reacted! It was like they saw this kind of thing every day!.

When we got to the Brixton Academy we headed to the bar, and this is where the miracle happened! Jason, or as we called him for the rest of the night, Jesus, bought 2 pints of cider and one pint of lager and then asked for a spare glass. At this point Jesus started mixing the drinks, tipping them from one glass to another, a bit of lager, a bit of cider, mixing up Snakebite. Once Jason had finished I was amazed to see, 4 full pints of booze! 4 from 3??? That is Bible stuff in my eyes!!!

The gig itself was brilliant, extremely loud and ear splitting. The tour was to promote the ‘Where You Been’ album

The ‘big’ hit to come from this album was Start Choppin’ which Dinosaur performed live on The Word. I remember the floor manager frantically waving at the band to wind up the song so that they could go to the next link but Dinosaur just kept playing! Eventually they plugged the plug on them. Brilliant!

Start Choppin’ – The Word

Out There – The Jenny Jones Show

Monday, 26 April 2010

A new direction

So much for my top 50 albums of all time! Not an easy task as it turned out. The problems with compiling such a list is that you only really write about the flavours of the day. Albums I want to hear today, right now. Of course there will always be albums that will be up there, Hunky Dory, Ill Communication, Zilch, but true top albums are like best friends, you can only honestly count them on one hand…. Oh go on then, two hands!!

You see they problem with compiling such a list is that you tend to forget the truly wondrous albums that you have listened to too many times and are sick to death of and therefore not included. This list shouldn’t be about now, it should be about ‘all time’.

So would I have reached 50 albums, ‘yes’ probably, would they have reflected my top 50 albums, no, probably not.

The good thing to come out of this, and you will see this as you work from bottom to top, is that I shifted from writing about why i liked an album to writing about the band, the gigs, the laughs and the mosh pits!! How I discovered a band, who was with me and what direction this band took me in.

So this is the new direction. No more top albums, I’m going to concentrate on the experiences, memories, good time and friends.

Hope you enjoy it!!!!


Monday, 20 July 2009

Sky Blue Sky - Wilco

Sky Blue Sky Review - Rolling Stone Magazine 14th May 2007

I’ve never seen Wilco so, unlike the other items on this blog, I don’t have any stories of live experiences or funny anecdotes. Unlike most bands, Wilco were not obvious, in fact Wilco crept up on me when I wasn’t looking and sat next to me waiting to be noticed. Once I had noticed them and listened to more and more albums, many of the bands I had, by heart, sited as major players in my best of list all shifted down a place.

I first came across Wilco when I bought Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco. A collection of unrecorded songs written by Woody Guthrie.

Extracts from

Woody Guthrie was the dean of American folk artists, the author of such classics as This Land is Your Land, Pastures of Plenty, Deportees, I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Any More and Rueben James. His giant influence on the entire course of American popular music, not least Bob Dylan’s acknowledgement of his debt to Guthrie, made him one of the seminal artists of the 20th Century. At the time of his death, in 1967, however, Guthrie left behind some 2500 unfinished songs, the lyrics to which were belatedly discovered many years later in the archives.

Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, first became aware of Billy Bragg in 1992, when he performed at New York City’s Summerstage birthday celebration for Woody. “Although he had come out of a punk rock background, he could sing along with the country and western singers, the folkies and just about everyone else who appeared in the show,” says Nora Guthrie.

Nora Guthrie decided that Bragg was the perfect candidate to set new music to the unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. There was no record of any music being written, thus Bragg was given the task of ‘reinventing’ original Woody Guthrie songs. The lyrics – about New York City streets, film star idols, drinking, loving, dying and even spaceships - were specifically chosen because they presented a completely different aspect to Woody Guthrie’s public persona. Bragg’s role was to provide the musical platform for a previously ‘unexplored’ Guthrie.

The result was Mermaid Avenue, released in 1998. Bragg’s collaborators on the project were American alt-country rockers, Wilco. Recordings began in Wilco’s hometown of Chicago and then in Dublin, where English fiddler Eliza Carthy and bluesman Corey Harris made their contributions. Natalie Merchant also added her talents when Bragg was finishing the recordings in Boston.

I bought this album on the back of being a huge Billy Bragg fan. Initially I would concentrate on the Billy tracks, not taking much notice of Wilco. Overtime I found the Wilco tracks more interesting, soulful and beautiful. For me Jeff Tweedy has the ultimate American singing voice.

Moving on from Mermaid Avenue I bought Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and then A Ghost Is Born, both classic albums. After these, of course, the whole back catalogue! I really can’t help myself!

Blue Sky Blue was one of the first albums I had ever downloaded but for some reason I lost it. Six months after downloading it I found it hidden in some obsolete folder on my PC and uploaded to my ipod. This album was well worth the wait, a total departure from anything they had done before, this was more soft country ballads, more delicate, ‘Either Way’, ‘Sky Blue Sky’, ‘Please Be Patient With Me’.  Of course there is always room for the familiar Wilco sound with the very good ‘Impossible Germany’ and ‘Side With The Seeds’ which has elements of one of my other great musical loves, ‘Pavement’.

As I type this I am listening to the new album, ‘Wilco The Album’, not so sure it’s going to replace this one just yet!!!

Impossible Germany

Please Be Patient With Me

Sky Blue Sky

Monday, 4 May 2009

Nowhere - Ride

Nowhere review -

Hear the complete album HERE

I first heard Ride whilst visiting my friend, Paul Morris. He was always first to pick up on the new bands back in the 80’s and 90’s. He got me into The Pale Fountains during the Pacific Street era and Aztec Camera, pre Oblivious! Paul had got hold of Ride’s first EP, released 15th January 1990, from a small independent record store situated in Inches Yard, Newbury (the store has since burned down, happening soon after the arrival of some intense competition with the arrival of Our Price Records!).

The EP opened with Chelsea Girl, a fast and furious song splashed with psychedelia and plenty of screaming Wah Wah. Funnily enough on first listening I had a problem with the vocals, the harmonies and the melodies were good, but to me, the combination of Mark Gardner and Andy Bell’s vocals were reminiscent to pirates singing some kind of sea shanty!! This is particularly so on the opening track of Nowhere, ‘Seagull’!! I got used to the sound pretty quickly but it still brings a smile to my face when I listen to them!!

After hearing the Ride EP I visited the soon to be burnt down record shop and purchased my own copy closely followed by their second EP, Play. Both EP’s can now be found packaged together on a CD entitled ‘Shine’. Again, an appearance on Snub TV also helped me build a relationship with this band, they looked right and sounded right, the full package. Looking back at pictures of me at the time I can quite possibly say that I was very much influenced by them!!

When Nowhere came out I wasn’t overly keen on it. I’d fallen in love with songs like Drive Blind, Close My Eyes and Perfect Time, all quite basic with the Ride 1990’s wall of sound. Nowhere was clearer, more structure with some well thought out layers. The only song which sounded anything like the two first EPs was Seagull. This was the opening track on the album, a comfortable familiar song which welcomed me to the record. As that song finish the sound of Ride I was accustomed to ended. I was disappointed at first but the album is a grower, after 5 or so listens Seagull sounded dated compared with the rest of the record.

Classic tracks on the album include Kaleidoscope, Dreams Burn Down, Vapour Trail and of course Nowhere.

Over the years I’ve seen Ride a number of times, Reading Festival, headlining the greatly missed Slough Festival (Revolver, Thousand Yard Stare) and supporting Pixies at Crystal Palace bowl, (this was memorable as this is where I first met Lion Man!).

One of the best shows was the homecoming performance at Oxford Apollo Theatre. This is where I bought my Leave Them All Behind T-Shirt which unfortunately no longer fits, but I’m working on getting back into it!!!

Another memorable performance was at the Brighton Centre, December 1994. A friend had got me a ticket to the Oasis fanclub concert, at this point I’d like to say that I hate Oasis but it was a night out!! Supporting Oasis that night was The La’s, Lee Mavers less John Power. When they had finished I went to get the beers in. I was carrying 4 pints of beer over to where my mates were waiting, then suddenly the sound of the synth part from Leave Them All Behind drifted in from the auditorium, my mates legged it and I was left there carrying 4 pints!! Realising is was a long introduction I managed to sink two pints before joining them.

The last time I saw Ride was as a fanclub performance at The Garage, Highbury .Ride were making the video for ‘How Does It Feel To Feel’, £5 in advance. It was a good night, they played along to the backing track of the new single 4 or 5 times and then treated us to about an hour of hits and favourites.

By this time the direction they’d chosen to take was heading away from where I was going, sad but have some great memories of a great band.

Chelsea Girl – Brixton 1992


Vapour Trail

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Superfuzz Bigmuff – Mudhoney


Album Review

Hear samples of the album HERE

I first came across Mudhoney when I saw them supporting Sonic Youth at the Kilburn National Ballroom on 23rd of March 1989 (See Daydream Nation). I had been told in advance that they were playing by a girl at work, stating that they were ‘pretty wild’, an understatement as it turned out!!

I arrived a little late so missed the start of the set. I worked my way through the Kilburn National foyer and headed to the bar on the right. I ordered a pint and then headed for the heavy black rubber doors of the auditorium. As I opened the door I was nearly thrown backwards by the shockwave of Mark Arm screaming  ‘I open my eyes, Watch the sky turn blue, I felt so good I almost forgot all about you’!!!!! (If I think). The sound was so powerful, it felt like I’d been smacked around the head by an invisible concrete slab!

I found the following set list from the gig;

3/23/89 Kilburn National Ballroom. London, England
Supporting: Sonic Youth
Supported By: Sperm Wails

Set: Mudride, Here Comes Sickness, No One Has, If I Think, Burn it Clean, Sweet Young Thing, This Gift, Touch Me I'm Sick (set incomplete and out of order after the first three songs)
With Sonic Youth: I Wanna Be Your Dog

Notes: For Sonic Youth's encore, Mudhoney comes out and plays I Wanna Be Your Dog with the group. The guys start throwing Kim Gordon and the rest of Sonic Youth around, and it turns into a big noisy mess, with people and instruments flying.

Mudhoney’s performance was wild, Mark Arm and Steve Turner either running into or jumping on each other while they played a heavy rhythm with a heavy dose of feedback overlaid! Bodies were flying, guitars were flying and hair!!!! So much hair!!!

Following this gig I went out and bought Superfuzz Bigmuff. The first track I already knew. Sonic Youth and Mudhoney had released a joint 12 inch single. Mudhoney performing the Sonic Youth track ‘Halloween’ and Sonic Youth performing the Mudhoney track ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’. I loved the Sonic Youth version with Kim Gordon on vocals however this version soon became second place to the Mudhoney version which was very gritty and dirty unlike the Sonic Youth version which was surprisingly clean!

Touch Me I'm Sick / Halloween - album cover

Stand out tracks are ‘If I Think’ and the awesome ‘In 'N' Out of Grace‘. A lightning speed rocker complete with duelling feedback guitar solos! The track started with the sample from the film ‘The Wild One’ staring Marlon Brando, later RIPPED OFF by Primal Scream on ‘Loaded’;

“We want to be free! We want to be free to do what we want to do! We want to be free to ride. And we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by man. And we want to get loaded!!!”

A truly wonderful album which lead on to so much…………

I was going to finish here, saving this story for later on, but what the heck!!!!

I was reading some record reviews in NME, the year was 1989. I came across a review which jumped out at me, within the first paragraph the review stated that ‘anyone that loved Mudhoney would love this band’.

That was enough for me, the next time I was in London I headed into Virgin Records and bought an album called ‘Bleach’ by a little known band named Nirvana!!!

Touch Me I’m Sick - 1991

In ‘N’ Out Of Grace

Sweet Young Thing/Chain That Door

Monday, 23 February 2009

Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth


Album Review – Rolling Stone Magazine – 12/01/1989

Hear the whole album HERE

Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation, the first ‘art’,’drone’, ‘grunge’ (call it what you will) album I bought after my earlier discovery of Pixies. A guitar driven album built upon discord, violence and beauty. Thurston Moore described this album as sounding ‘like the 1 train pulling out of Time Square’, such an accurate description as this album screeches and crashes and clashes as it hits your ear drum. A phenomenal album.

My memory is very sketchy as to why I bought this album. There are 3 different stories which may have lead me to the buy the album but 20 years on I can’t remember what came first. So I hope that by writing down all three stories they may jog my memory and make me a happy man for a day or two!!

1. In the 80’s NME, every few months, would give away a free 7 inch single. The single would have 3 or 4 artists on it, generally 2 on each side. The first single was released in 1985 and featured Bronski Beat (Hard Rain), Cocteau Twins (Ivo), The Smiths (What She Said (live)) and U2 (Wire). Very collectable now although I’d just found this single selling for 99p on Ebay!!!

In February 1987 NME added to the free EP series by releasing an single entitled NME’s Hat Trick. This single included Steinski & Mass Media (The Motorcade Sped On), Sonic Youth (White Cross Live In Tallahassee, Florida) and Sly & Robbie (When You're Hot You're Hot)

This was the first time that I’d heard Sonic Youth, the guitar was loud and very aggressive, clashing and battling with the rhythm section. I’d never heard guitar like this before, it wasn’t until I later saw them that I found out that they achieved these sound by de-tuning and jamming a screwdriver under the strings on the fret board! I still have the single, probably under my old bed at my Mum and Dad’s house, scratched to death and over played.

So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this single?? Possibly, I first heard Sonic Youth in February 1987 and Daydream Nation was released in October 1988.

2. Snub TV – BBC 2 once aired a music Series called Snub TV. The idea of the programme was to showcase bands that were not mainstream and were being ‘snubbed’ by the likes of The Tube, Whistle Test and Top of The Pops! This programme helped me discover many new bands. I particularly remember seeing Dinosaur Jr for the first time on this show playing Freak Scene. The programme also included Utra Vivid Scene, Spaceman 3, World Domination Enterprises and the Stone Roses.

Sonic Youth appeared on Snub TV with an extended piece where they performed Teenage Riot and Providence, both from Daydream Nation. The piece also included film of the band being interviewed. I remember very clearly Thurston Moore claiming that Sharon Tate’s foetus was king of the hippies!

I videoed this particular show and played it again and again. I loved everything about this band, so much so that I started to copy their fashion, adopted a drop-out attitude and stuck a screwdriver in my lovely Vox Les Paul!!

So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this appearance on Snub TV??

3. My friend, Andy Tubb called me and asked me if I wanted to go see Sonic Youth. It was the Daydream Nation tour, Kilburn National Ballroom on 23rd of March 1989. Sonic Youth were being supported by Mudhoney! (Expect the inclusion of Super Fuzz Big Muff in my top 50 soon!)

The gig was brilliant, everything that i expected it to be, loud and sweaty. In between songs, Thurston would put on a tape of The Carpenters whilst they swapped guitars or tuned up. I also remember him asking the lighting man to make him green, ‘I can only play the guitar when I’m green’!!!

The night ended with Mudhoney joining Sonic Youth on stage for the final encore, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by the Stooges. At some point Mark Arm (Mudhoney) leap onto Thurston and pulled his trousers down!!! A very good night!!!

So did I buy Daydream Nation on the back of this gig??? You know what, I don’t know and I don’t really care!! I’ve got the album, and that is all that counts!!!

Teenage Riot

Sonic Youth on Snub TV 1989

Part 1

Part 2

The Sprawl



Monday, 2 February 2009

Ill Communication – Beastie Boys



Album Review - Rolling Stone Magazine – 1994

Listen to the complete album HERE

I’m not really a lover of Hip Hop, perhaps I’m too old, from the wrong generation or just don’t understand! There is the occasional track which will jump out at me such as ‘20 seconds to comply’ by Silver Bullet and the very excellent ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ by Dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip. How many Hip Hop songs include a reference to Syd Barrett!!!! 

Ill Communication was the first Hip Hop album I bought, I have bought all Beastie Boys albums since it’s release but none have matched this classic. The album itself sounds like it was recorded live, directly onto tape. It’s very rough in it’s mix, having an almost dirty sound. It fits in very well with some of the other lo-fi records that I had been listening to for years.

I love the way this album flashes from the pure Hip Hop of ‘Flute Loop’, to the punk sound of ‘Heart Attack Man’, with the jazziness of ‘The Update’. A true talented group of musician backed up with Money Mark on keyboards and Mix Master Mike on decks.

Another strong sound which oozes out of this album is the, almost, 1970’s incidental cop show music. A funky groove with plenty going on in the percussion department. The kind of music which would accompany Dirty Harry as he chased a punk down a derelict back street  with  his Magnum 44 in hand!

Honestly, this album is a contender for my top 10, but we shall just have to wait and see!

Sure Shot


Root Down