Saturday, 20 June 2009

Scootz "n" Bootz

I don't know about you but I recognised some time ago that all of my favourite records had a certain something about them in common, whatever the genre. To this day I don't know whether it's the production, the bass sound or what but they've all got that "mojo".
Imagine my surprise, then, not to mention delight, when I found Scootz "n" Bootz.
Every single album put up there has that mojo and many of my all time favourites are up there. Genre's not an issue - he's got soul, rockabilly, punk, ska, metal; there's not a bad album in sight.
You NEED to check the site out.
Oh, and he luuurves de scooters.

The Redskins - Neither Washington Nor Moscow (1986)

Along with "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels" by Dexy's (see below), this is one of my all-time favourite albums.

Coming from a very similar place as "Soul Rebels", "NWNM" melds the rabble rousing punk crunch of The Clash c."London's Calling" with genuine Muscle Shoals soul to a staggering effect that has in no way aged over 23 years.

Forget the extreme socialist polemic, the swagger and bile of the band, and leader Chris Dean in particular, with those awesome brass riffs and rockabilly guitar chords, just gets the adrenaline flowing every time.

I'm not doing a track-by-track on this one, they're all too good to be picked to pieces, but stand outs for me include "Kick Over The Statues", "It Can Be Done", "Keep On Keeping On" and "Hold On".

Sadly, after this the band were no more and other than a couple of singles and a live album there's nothing else out there. On the other hand it's hard to see how they could ever have beaten this record so perhaps that's a good thing.

Meantime, if you want a rush, go fetch.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Comments... PLEASE!!!!

800 and odd visitors and NO COMMENTS??!!
PLEASE let me know if you like my blog, if it's shit, what you'd like to see....
I await with bated breath.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Take The Pills!

Jingle jangle, oo oo oo - no it's not Jimmy Saville back in the house, it's Take The Pills!, an avowedly partisan website of all things twee, indie-pop, lo-fi and bubblegum.
If you like your music with a huge side-helping of sugar, you wear your hair floppy and you think no good music's been made since 1987, check this blog.
Heavily based around the C86 generation of bands, Take The Pills! showcases the sounds of that era but keeps the faith with music from around the globe of the same ilk from then 'til now.
Good sounds.

The Farmer's Boys - With These Hands (1985)

Emerging from Norwich in the early 80s, The Farmer's Boys were an unashamed indie-pop band. This album, their second and, sadly, last, came out in 1985 but its meld of Orange Juice/The Housemartins-type sounds is as fresh today as they ever were.
The album sets the scene by kicking off with a cover of the old Cliff Richard song "In The Country", up-tempo, jangling guitars to the fore and with enough verve and cheer to bring an immediate smile to your face. "I Built The World" keeps the pace up and bright and "Sport For All" manages to make miserablism chipper!
Next up "Art Gallery", with blasting horns and slightly harder guitars, is one of the album's highlights, "Something From Nothing" slows it down a bit before we're hit with "Phew Wow!" a bouncing romp of a song with Beach Boys harmonies, strings and the band's trademark cheeky grin stamped all over it. "All Of A Sudden" keeps the ball in the air then we're brought right back down to earth with "Heartache", a pastiche torch song. "Walkabout", with rabble rousing backing vocals is very redolent of its era with vaguely Spandau Ballet-ish vocalising. The album rounds off with "Whatever Is He Like?", a re-do of the band's first single.
I bought this album when it came out in 1985 and it pretty much had a permanent place on the stereo. I dug it out again when I heard the band were re-releasing their first album, "Get Out & Walk", and was astounded that I could remember every hook, chorus and lyric.
If you're feeling a bit glum or you've got a mate that wants cheering up, put this on. It should be prescribed by doctors for depression!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Dashing Blade

Dashing Blade opens his site with the comment "just some stuff I reckon you should hear before you die" and I couldn't agree more.

Bizarrely the site pretty much mirrors my own record collection so imagine my delight when I found it!

Mixing great music (anything from ABC to New York Dolls) with some unusual entries such as radio broadcasts, audio books and "Sounds Of The Rainforest", a free Sunday newspaper CD, and inordinately well-written commentary, A Dashing Blade is a fascinating delve into one man's sounds and interests and that, alone, is certainly going to keep this writer coming back for more. and meaningless

John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett - Deep & Meaningless (1978)

Anyone dismissing John Otway as simply a mentalist novelty act does so at their peril. I picked this album up in a bargain bin in 1979 on the strength of "Beware Of The Flowers" and, after initial disappointment that the rest of the album was nothing like that, grew to love every track.

Opener "Place Farm Way" is as good a traditional folk song as you'll hear anywhere, as is "To Anne", a paen to lost love. These two songs, albeit tinged with Otway's slightly bonkers delivery, have a real beauty that seems timeless in the great songwriter tradition.

"Beware Of The Flowers", however, ramps up the volume and was one of the major contributing factors to Otway & Barrett's "success" at the height of punk (see the Wikipedia entry for Otway's views on his success), Barrett's guitar more than a match for the "Guitar Hero" generation. Back to traditional, but more up tempo, story telling next with "Alamo" before "My Body Is Making Me", archetypal Otway body talk.

"Josephine" is in the same vein as "Place Farm Way" and "To Anne", a gorgeous pastoral tale of May Day celebrations, but Otway can't resist more nuttiness with "Schnott", "Riders In The Sky" (yes, that one!) and "Running From The Law". Runouts, "I Wouldn't Wish It On You" and "Can't Complain" lack the fascination of the earlier tracks but are still wonderful songs.

Otway is a grossly underrated songwriter, perhaps because of his delivery and approach, and this album, to my mind, showcases his talents in all areas. The CD reissue is now coupled with the pair's self-titled debut album which is not as good (although it does contain the hit single "Really Free" and "Racing Cars", the latter which came as a free 7" with my copy of the album).

I can't recommend "Deep & Meaningless" enough; I guarantee you'll be hooked. (Willy Barrett's site)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Back On The Road

If ever a blog can be said to have something for everyone it's Back On The Road.
With no discussions or reviews, the blog's simply a run down of classic albums from the 50s to the 00s, giving you the cover, a track list and a download link. It doesn't specialise in either era or style, just the greats and at the top of each page they give you their own compilation, "Top Singles 1955-2000", a year per page. Collect the set!
The only bugbear for me is the absence of a search engine but with a blog this good it seems churlish to criticise.
You need to check this site out!

The Pretenders - The Pretenders (1980)

One of the great debut albums, "Pretenders" still gives me goose-bumps even after 30 years and repeated listenings.
An ex-journo and bona fide rock chick, Chrissie Hynde had brought together a group of genuinely brilliant musicians, having tried out with a number of early-incarnations of punk bands in the mid to late 70s.
There's no need to specify and describe tracks here as every one is a genuine winner, but up for special mention must go "Precious", a barn-storming barrage of new wave rock guitar and bass, "Tattooed Love Boys", odd-tempoed but astounding and "The Wait", pure rock pop class.
Other special mentions must go to the band's cover of The Kinks' "Stop Your Sobbing" (Hynde later lived with and had a child by Ray Davies), "Private Life", covered later to exemplary effect by Grace Jones and the massive hit single "Brass In Pocket".
The tragedy unfolded shortly after the follow up, Pretenders II, when both guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farnden succumbed to drugs overdoses within weeks of each other.
This is a must have album, if not for the fact that it's a genuine classic then for the sheer, unadulterated joy of listening to it and the knowledge that you're hearing genius at work.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Never Get Out Of The Boat & The Heat Warps

J R Heat Warp of The Heat Warps and Willard of Never Get Out Of The Boat! have come together to create the wonderous thing that is For The Love Of Harry (see below) but each have their own blog, both marvellous in different ways.

The Heat Warps collects together classic albums and rareties primarily from the 60s and 70s rock and funk pantheon, with Beatles, Dylan, Dr John, krautrock et al, all lovingly bundled together and annotated and described with finesse. There's info a-plenty on each album and if J R doesn't give it to you he shows you where to go for it. Dig in!

Never Get Out Of The Boat! is a veritable smorgasboard of stuff you didn't know you wanted until Willard brought it to you on a plate. From Zappa and Beefheart to Americana and Dylan, rareties to the fore, Willard's collection will keep you entertained for hours. He also has a Friday Night At The Movies slot heading his site for those times when music just can't cut for you. Yummy!

Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson (1971)

An iconic album that was part of the background to my own childhood and the only record that I brought with me from my parents' (truly dire) collection into adulthood.
I can't do better in review than J R Heat Warp at the marvellous devotional blog For The Love Of Harry. I hope he forgives this lift...
"Following the moderate success of Nilsson Sings Newman and The Point!, Harry enlisted the production help of Richard Perry, booked London’s Trident Studio and set out to make the most rock n’ roll album of his career. Nilsson Schmilsson signaled a shift away from the heavy orchestration, multi-layered harmonies and rich production that characterized his 60s output, and toward a more organic, raucous approach to music making; a massively successful move that would yield a pair of top 40 singles (“Coconut” and “Jump Into the Fire”) as well as a worldwide #1 (“Without You”). And with this change in direction and the success that followed, it would be easy to peg Nilsson Schmilsson as Harry's "sell-out" album, and fortunately, it's anything but. In addition to the chart toppers contained within this iconic sleeve (evidently RCA failed to notice the hash pipe in Harry's left hand) were some of the most adventurous, flat out beautiful songs in his repertoire. Musicians have built entire careers around the success of songs half as good as "Early In The Morning", but here Harry knocks it out with just an organ and a set of pipes that at this point are merely colored by brandy and cigarettes, not yet ravaged by the hard partying that lay ahead. An intense, gorgeous LP that in true Nilsson fashion, left him with no other choice but to make a sequel." - JR Heat Warp

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers

Pedro loves you. You can tell he does because he works really hard to bring you not just the best in indie music, from Smiths to Folds, but new bands you've not heard.

He doesn't fart about chatting, he doesn't put up stuff that the NME loves, he puts up stuff that Pedro loves and that's what matters. Pedro wants you to love what he loves. He loves his music.

Listen to him. to normal

Ben Folds - Way To Normal (2008)

Anyone who has followed Ben Folds over the years will be aware that he seems to release contented albums and bitter albums alternately. This is very much in the latter category and, to these ears at least, is his most accomplished and complete recording to date.

Weighing heavily on the side of what Folds calls "punk rock for sissies", openers "Hiroshima" (an account of Folds falling off the stage on tour in Japan), "Dr Yang" (taking the piss out of alternative therapy) and "The Frown Song" (taking the piss out of the uber-trendy ladies-who-lunch brigade) sparkle with Folds' barbed wit and invention.

Folds reaches his peaks here next with the beautiful "Before Cologne/Cologne", a heart breaking tale of long-distance love, and "You Don't Know Me" where he duets with Regina Spektor in what should have been the biggest worldwide smash of 2008. Why it wasn't is entirely beyond me.

The middle tracks, "Errant Dog" and "Free Coffee", are worth skipping, particularly "Errant Dog" which is the worse track on the album by a long shot (filler?) but "Coffee" segues very nicely into "The Bitch Went Nuts", quite possibly the bitterest but most hilarious break-up song I've ever heard and very heavily on the nerd rock side of things.
"Brainwascht" and "Kylie From Connecticut" are both excellent examples of what Ben Folds does best but it's on "Effington" that everything comes together; the wit, the warmth and the elegiac, movie-centric sweep of the sound.
P.S. as an addendum, Folds, in anticipation of piracy, went into a studio in Dublin with his band and recorded what has become known as "Way To Normal (Fake)". He wanted to pre-empt the piracy and released a fake album, many of the tracks having the same titles as the real tracks, but entirely different songs! The two singles, "You Don't Know Me" and "Cologne" are in their original format but the other tracks are entirely different. Check it out at
The new "Free Coffee" is highly recommended.