Thursday, August 30, 2007

English Pastoral (1969)

It's my eldest daughter's 8th birthday today. I am taking the day off and we are heading south out of London into the country to row boats along a small river by an old pub, through green fields.

Have you ever seen a kingfisher, except on the telly?

I've never seen a kingfisher, except on the telly.

But still...

"Very beautiful and wonderful things do happen, don't they. And we live most of our lives in the hope of them" (The Railway Children)

Pink Floyd - 'Grantchester Meadows' (1969)

[from this]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Siren Song

Many Happy Returns Elizabeth Davidson Fraser, 44 today.

Gossamer, rococo, soaring - and that'll just be her birthday cake (arf arf).

Cocteau Twins - 'Garlands' (1983)
Tell me I'm not alone in still loving and playing their thrillingly dark debut?

This Mortal Coil - 'Song To The Siren' (1983)
Ah, bury me to this. At sea.

Elizabeth Fraser & Jeff Buckley - 'All Flowers In Time' (unreleased demo - c.1995)
The worst kept secret on the net - but boy is it good.

Elizabeth Fraser - 'Underwater' (2000)
Ultra-rare 9 minute white-label trance outing. You're welcome.

We are promised new solo Liz stuff soon; wish it would hurry, it's been taking its time...

[Lots more Cocteau Twins rarities for download free at their official site. Buy Garlands here, It'll End In Tears here].

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

English Pastoral

Some time ago a person I thought unknown posted a comment here recommending I check out Candidate and in particular their album Oxengate. He felt I was sure to like it.

My delight at this recommendation was even greater when I sampled said band and indeed did like them very much. Mind you, I had suspected I might the minute I read their MySpace...

'...Candidate forage for fragments of old folk songs in British hedgerows, and shove them into cleft sticks driven deep into mud effigies of John Cale. Sometimes they fasten broken Hollies albums to the side of Harry Nilsson with chewing gum stolen from Spacemen 3. Sometimes they just sit and watch bees' (!)

and Q magazine's description quoted there that Candidate are

'...just about the best available bridge between lo-fi Americana and the woody thrum of archaic Britfolk'

And so it proved. For Candidate are Fairport-Span for the Hype Machine generation (and listening to them also made me dig out my copy of XTC's superb Skylarking, but that's another story...)

What a marvellous thing this blogging mallarkey is, I mused, for a total stranger to so accurately deduce what I might like from merely feeling the vibes herein! 'Azarat', the commenter in question, turned out to be my brother-in-law, Big Tony.

And I didn't rumble him at all.

Not even when he sent me Oxengate for my birthday.

*sigh* How daft am I?

Still, Big Tony likes his strummy 60s folk, his real beer and his fishpond, so I guess he fits the older end of the Candidate listener demographic quite nicely; and he doesn't have a beard or anything, so we'll let him off this once.

Oxengate is an interesting and often lovely album, minute-long 'field music' interludes and all..

If you've already followed up the Epic45 threads cast by Rob at Landcroft House you might like this lot too.

English Pastoral eh? Revival genre of the noughties!

Candidate - 'Furlough' (2007)
Candidate - 'Swear It Will Snow' (2007)
Candidate - 'Harryhausen' (2007)

[You can buy Oxengate here and the band's official website is here. Thanks Tone. Bastard.].

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dance Friday *NEW SERIES*

Hugely inspired by Emmett's 23rd August post at the always marvellous Art Decade I am today uploading some real old genuine 24 carat gold old-skool house music. For surely this is the sound of Friday night.

And what is better than dancing your harris off to groovy house music than dancing your harris off to groovy house music with a political conscience too?

I'll tell you what - nada!

Ce Ce Rogers - 'Someday' (original 12" mix) (1988)

(Look! Ce Ce Rogers' website! Nice!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007


A couple of comments to my Into The Blue post centred on 'A Place In The Sun'.

I've only just heard that, sadly, the song's composer Ron Miller died last month aged 74.

Motown's only white 'house' songwriter (pic with Berry Gordy), he also penned 'For Once In My Life' (which became one of the most recorded songs in history) and 'Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday' for Stevie Wonder and wrote the lyrics to Diana Ross's 'Touch Me In The Morning'. In later years he wrote 'I've Never Been To Me' for Motown's white countrypop singer Charlene ('I've been to Nice and the isle of Greece' - ahem) and worked with Celine Dion (!) but we'll forgive him that in the circumstances...

There's a decent obit here.

Stevie Wonder - 'Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday' (1969)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Walking In The Ruins

Have you ever heard a song in your dreams?

I don't mean in the Paul McCartney dreamt 'Yesterday' and thought someone else had already written it sense; I mean that a song you've been listening to in the waking world has ended up playing in the iPod shuffle of your head while you slept?

This did for me while I was on holiday.

A relationship ended mapped out in memories of simple things done and places been; it is the kind of song that haunts you. So I thought I'd let it haunt you too.

From the best break-up album I've heard since Blood On The Tracks. Have a tissue handy.

Land's End at dusk
A day of churches
Her getting her hair cut
A windswept walk to Dunnet Head
Boarding a northbound train at Inverness
A rainy Cley-next-the-Sea
Her swinging on a tyre
Me taking her picture
A station frozen in time
March stars in a Norfolk sky

Her sleeping head on my shoulder
With the bus heading on
And the day-out done
A lighthouse sending its light
Out across Thurso bay at night
To Blakeney Point and back again
Walking in the ruins
Of Binham Priory
Abba on the jukebox at Parr Sands
A two way trip on the Bodinnick ferry

(Robert Wratten)

Trembling Blue Stars - 'ABBA On The Jukebox' (1996)

(Buy. Thanks as ever to Colin for starting me on the journey).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And Speaking Of Which...

...I'm still waiting for that backlash.

Arctic Monkeys- 'Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?' (2006)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Take It To The Bridge

Actually never mind autumn, I seem to have come back from Lot Valley sun to a London bloody winter.

So it is good news indeed that the new Richard Hawley album came out today and I can wallow, wallow in that rainswept city street romanticism and those warm, warm vocal tones (like Roy Orbison came from Sheffield...).

I guess you can't not have heard of Hawley now given the amount of (welcome and long overdue) press coverage he's had since the Mercury-nominated Coles Corner was released in 2005 and you probably even know a bit of his history too - music under his very skin (Dad worked in the steelworks by day and played session guitar in Sheffield blues clubs by night), almost famous with Britpop nearly-men The Longpigs, a spell with the touring line-up of Pulp - but it really wasn't so long ago that RH was releasing his first solo albums without much attention from anyone at all (of these - and all are excellent - I would recommend Late Night Final in particular).

If you get a chance to see him live you MUST GO - he's superb (I will treasure for a long time the memory of the lights going down at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last May and Hawley opening a sell-out gig there with the title track from Coles Corner, a song I quite genuinely believe to be one of the greatest written in the last ten years by anybody anywhere. And some people were still in the bar!).

Anyroad up, enough of my gassing - you can read lots more about Hawley in this month's Word magazine and many other places, and this meeting with the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner I found rather lovely to read as I waited in the car ferry queue two weeks ago too...

To the music.

Lady's Bridge is Hawley's fifth album and the third in a row to be named after a Sheffield landmark. It's his first since the passing of his Dad, from cancer.

Hawley's website notes...

'As a tribute to his dad the album cover features Richard in Sheffield’s answer to The Cavern, the legendary Club 60, on the stage where his father, over 30 years ago, played with blues legends John Lee Hooker and Muddy Walters'

And the man himself explains in the sleevenotes...

"I have crossed Lady's Bridge back and forth many times over the years, mainly to get to Kenny's Records on one side (now long gone sadly) or to the Castle Market on the other, both places provided me with food of different sorts. We all have to cross bridges in our lives and we all have to leave things behind that are hard to let go sometimes, pause though before you cross and watch the ancient river flow, be at peace...for a while...then move on"

Go on. Show that you appreciate hard graft, real talent and genuine passion for music and buy this record now.

Richard Hawley - 'Valentine' (2007)
Richard Hawley - 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours' (2007)

And from Late Night Final....

Richard Hawley - 'Something Is...' (2002)

(Official website here and MySpace here).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

In Search Of The Perfect Sunset....

...or at least a better view of it, we padded to the fields beyond the house, taking with us some music (of course) and some wine (of course of course) and had a bit of a Moment.

No, I wouldn't call it Balearic exactly - still, France eh? Interesting cheeses, lots of fresh air, Big Blue.

Vargo - 'The Moment' (2003) (from this)

Rolling off the ferry at Dover at 3:30am this morning we were greeted by blustery rain.


Mais alors, l'automne de blogging commence...more soul, more reggae, more grooviness, more guitarry/starry/noodly bits - more of whatever I flipping well fancy, frankly.

Restez-la mes braves; it's all to come...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Into The Blue

We rise tomorrow at 0400h ("What does the '0' stand for? O my God it's early!") to begin a long journey south in search of the sun, chasing the blue - we're headed to deepest, quietest, not much-happens-here-miles-from-the-nearest-supermarket SW rural France for two weeks.

I am not 'wireless-enabled' and all that mallarkey and besides, My Lovely Wife is fearsome when roused and My Lovely Daughters are expecting full participation in swimming pool capers, so there will be no whilst-on-holiday blogging for me.

I will save you my thrilling anecdotes for my return.

As I dropped in on all my favourite nooks and crannies of the blogosphere last night, leaving probably slightly drunken messages here and there (red wine) I did come over a bit unnecessary. A year ago I knew none of you, and now I consider you my friends and I will miss you while I'm gone.

Even some of you guys that stumble in here from Google looking for a Bob Dylan fansite or some Nick Drake bootlegs (sorry) and end up staying for a bit are going to get a shout out from me too.

Anyway, sorry to be joining the ever-expanding band of your regulars who have posted 'gone away' notices on their front windows, but I need a holiday and we'll both be better for a break. It's not you, it's me. I just need some time to myself. Etc, etc.

My attempts to put together some sort of summer special mix stalled in their infancy I'm afraid, mostly because I have been too busy enjoying Ally's genius one to do my own (it'll be the first thing we play on the car stereo as we roll off the ferry on the French side Ally).

But do you remember EPs? Four track 7 inches, usually following ye ancient principles of good gigs and good classical musical thingies - a mood but also some contrasts, some faster ones, some slower ones?

Well here's one for you, with love.

(Actually, dammit, there aren't any fast ones - it's a bit hippy/stoner. I go a bit hippy/stoner when I'm on me hols).

The Into The Blue EP (2007)

Stevie Wonder - ' A Place In The Sun' (1966)
John Martyn - 'One World' (1977)
Paddy McAloon - 'Sleeping Rough' (2003)
David Gilmour - 'The Blue' (2006)

[music from this, this, this and this]

Look after yourselves and those who count on you. We're back August 20th.