Friday, 31 October 2014

GUB Archeology #1

Was up in the attic today when I found this. Actually, I found an entire copy of The Bangor and North Wales Weekly News, dated Thursday, 18th June, 1981 but you don't need that much detail. The picture below was emblazoned across the front page with a story about a protest to prevent the threatened closure of the local theatre. Yours truly can be seen with guitar, pork pie hat and slightly bent knees in front of the banner where you can just read BA(my head)OR. My mate, Tony, is to the right of me as you look. The bloke on the left with third guitar tagged along on the day but can't remember who he was. We busked all day to save that bloody theatre and it worked. They've since knocked it down.

Very weird seeing this again. The beginnings of The Singing Bears.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Susan, Martin and Me

It's been a long time since I've had the opportunity to look through the family photograph albums but I did snatch a few minutes with them the other day whilst sorting through some things at my dad's house. I must try to put them all in some kind of order as they seemed to be all over the shop and there were many much loved and well remembered snaps that I just couldn't find at all. However, I did come across the little gem above, which features myself (far right) with two friends, Susan and Martin Collins, on the mean streets of St. Paul's, Bristol in the mid-60's. I must have been about four or five, I'd guess. Just look at me stuffing my hands in the pockets of my voluminous shorts with my t-shirt all tucked in. Martin seems to be holding a very small skipping rope and Susan looks ready to do some shopping. We're outside their house in London Road; I think their dad's Morris Minor is parked alongside us. If you look up above their car, just beyond the lamp-post at the far end of the other side of the street, I believe you can see my dad's black Ford Prefect which is parked outside the door to our flat which was actually in Lower Ashley Road. Shortly after this was taken Susan and Martin moved to the leafy suburb of Henleaze. Lovely kids but too nicely groomed for our area. They made the great escape.


Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Milk Cow Blues (1946)

Gary Clail (with Bim Sherman)
Beef (1990)

Arlo Guthrie
Lay Down Little Doggies (1970)

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jack Bruce R.I.P.

One of the greats of British rock music has left these shores. Renowned for his writing, bass playing and vocals with 60's mega-group, Cream, Jack came out of the British jazz and blues scene before finding worldwide fame alongside Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. His writing partnership with Pete Brown resulted in many of Cream's finest moments and they continued to work together on Jack's solo projects.  Here's a fine tune of their's from my favourite Jack Bruce LP, Songs For A Tailor (1969). RIP, sir.

To Isengard (1969)

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Live Album Series: Townes Van Zandt

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' way ('Hey, let's get in some kettle drums!') 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.


No Place To Fall

Thursday, 23 October 2014

What I Should Be Doing Right Now...

...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.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

First Aid Kit

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.

Cedar Lane (2014)