Checking Townes' most up to date discography, I note that there is now a complete plethora of live albums available under his name but I have a total sum of one of them. I should add that I have a whole heap of live bootlegs, so perhaps I can be excused this misdemeanor? Whatever, the one I do own is a thing of great beauty and some power. Townes Van Zandt Live At The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas was Townes' first live recording, released in 1977 but recorded in 1973. It basically captures what is, for this fan, the perfect TVZ set.
For The Sake Of The Song
This is very intimate recording in what was obviously a pretty small club where the crowd were well acquainted with the music of their fellow Texan. The album actually commences with an announcement about where the good people of Houston would find the toilets and the table football ('foosball'!) (all upstairs, y'all!). There is also a nice apology about having to keep the doors open as the air conditioning was screwing with the taping; I can only imagine how bloody humid it must have been. What about the music? Well, it's Townes Van Zandt as everyone would want to hear him: alone with a guitar, playing his songs in fine voice and with some good fingerpicking. We also get a number of Townes's dead-pan jokes thrown into the mix. Perfect.
Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
Townes' early studio albums were famously over-produced affairs, with some extraneous instrumental backing which sounds nice today in a kind of 'period' of way but which did nothing for his great songs. When you listen to Live At The Old Quarter all you get is pure Townes Van Zandt. One of my all time favourite live albums.
...witnessing the return of Bristol's seminal funky punkers, The Pop Group. However, I'm not in the mass that will be forming at the Anson Rooms at Bristol University; instead, I'm in the Welsh Valleys nursing the lurgy. I'm told it's something called 'Man Flu' but I feel lot worse than that.
Here's the new video for an old favourite.
Where There's A Will There's A Way (1980)
Might as well really punish myself by spinning this too.
The Boys From Brazil (1979)
Well, missed my chance, I suppose. I bet it'll be f***ing amazing.
I know that First Aid Kit released their third full album way back in June but it's taken me this long to get around to actually purchasing it. I've no excuses, really, as I love all their other releases, going right back to their first mini-album, Drunken Trees (2008), so I don't know why I've been so tardy. I can report that I think Stay Gold is a fine addition to their growing oeuvre, continuing a body of work that presents the young Swedish siblings as a sort of (note 'sort of') cross between Abba and Espers by way of the Nashville Sound. That cover it? I'm glad the darkness is still there in their melodies and lyrics and hope that they don't become too polished in their push for wider recognition but Klara and Johanna do certainly deserve to be 'stars' (whatever that means). Great vocals, great harmonies, wonderful tunes you want to hear again and again. Thankfully nabbed some tickets to catch them in Cardiff in the new year.
My Silver Lining (2014)
And one of the loveliest songs they have written thus far.
In 1971, the incomparable Willie Nelson released a concept album titled Yesterday's Wine, telling the story of the life of 'the imperfect man'. Criminally not readily available these days, this is a record that deserves wider attention. Have a hopeful Sunday.
"Steady at the back there! Come on, boys, calm down a bit; there's room for all, so don't push. Oi! You two! Get down from that window! I told you last week and mind your language! Girls to the front. We've got a treat for you tonight: a real pop group. Yeah, The Sensation. No, I've never 'eard of 'em either. Bring back yer cola bottles, there's a penny on returns."
Black Eyed Woman (1973)
Meanwhile, a gang of bigger kids have come up from the park and are waiting outside on this cold autumn night, dressed for trouble - all Ben Sherman's and brogues.