Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Bermondsey Joyriders at the 100 Club on New Years Day

Gary Lammin and his Bermondsey Joyriders join the Vibrators, Johnny Throttle and Spizz at the 100 Club to pay homage to The Roxy.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Gig frenzy in the run-up to Christmas

The run-up to Christmas often presages a fall-off in the number of gigs, even in a town this big. This year however it looks crazy and I reckon I’m going to chalk up at least another six before the ‘big day’ and that’s without thinking about the Folks’ Xmas Party tomorrow with James Hunter.

One of the best shows of last year was The War On Drugs at The Windmill; it was actually a double-header with the Bowerbirds but we were delayed so long that we missed them. It was one of those packed-out Windmill shows and luckily Tim Perry let me stand behind the DJ booth on the grounds that it had been my birthday the day before. Their singer also performs as Kurt Vile And The Violators, has an album out on Matador, and is at The Lexington on Tuesday. In support are the wondrous Wolf People who’ve signed to Jagjaguwar and have Tidings, an album of (relatively) historic recordings, released in February.

Wednesday sees the End Of The Road Xmas bash at Cargo. End Of The Road is just the best festival going; great size, great site, great booking policy. I’ve been three times, and we already have our tickets for next year. One of the surprises of the festival, because a late addition, was Josh T Pearson. As the mainman of Lift To Experience he was responsible for one of the best, though already neglected, albums of the last decade; The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads. This should be a splendid bash and a damn good gig.

Danny And The Champs nights are not to missed. Aside from never knowing what you’re going to get from Mr Wilson or who’s going to play with him, you always get good undercards. Last month there was Ben Thomas, this time there’s The Moon Music Orchestra, and new Loose stablemates and sometime Champs Trevor Moss And Hannah Lou whose forthcoming album he produced.

Saturday is What’s Cookin’ and I’m not supposed to say who’s playing but they did make a ‘staggering, blistering, primal, screaming rock’n’roll record...just louder than the rest and better than the rest. A mighty garage rock attack coruscating in its dragging-up-from-the-roots frenzy. Basic in both brevity and lo-fi simplicity; not to mention the sheer noise’. How many bands like that are there around, let alone in London?

Sunday’s a day off and then Monday and Tuseday are McNiff nights, and from his mailout:

Two very special gigs with the guys from Modena City Ramblers, coming all the way from Italy ( the clue's in the title! )

21st Dec @12 bar club, Denmark street, LONDON WC2 8.00pm til 11.00pm £6

I'll do a solo set as well as with the Ramblers ( we call ourselves
Narrow Men ) Also we're very lucky to have DAN RAZA and TRAILHEAD, alt
country from Berlin Uk debut, plus EMIT BLOCH, if i can track him down in

The following night, 22nd, we'll be at Filthy MacNasty's Whisky Cafe ( 68
amwell street, Kings Cross/Angel where we'll be joined by ALAN TYLER and ANDY HANK DOG. Starts at 7.30pm

Come to both - look forward to seeing you.

Trent Miller was going to be playing at Filthy’s but now he’s flying to Italy on the 21st so he won’t be around.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Green Pajamas and boatclub weekend shows

Give me money I want to go to these gigs. Matt Piucci's new band boatclub and The Green Pajamas - except the Manzanita show which is just boatclub:

4 Dec 2009 21:00 Kelly’s Olympian, Portland, Oregon
5 Dec 2009 13:00 Music Millenium, Portland, Oregon (In Store)
5 Dec 2009 21:00 Lo Fi Performance Gallery, Seattle, Washington
6 Dec 2009 20:00 San Dune Pub, Manzanita, Oregon

Nikki Sudden in Holborn Library

Now this is a very strange thing. As some of you will know I spend a lot more time than is healthy in Holborn Library. An establishment standing as a classic example of the destruction wrought over the last thirty years by central and local government on the once-admirable British public library. And as such you can often find very interesting books being given the heave-ho.

Yesterday morning I walked in to find a near-perfect hardback copy of Stanley Booth's Rythm Oil on the booksale. I remarked on this to the librarian who'd put it there and grabbed it. I have a very nice copy already that Mike Hart got for me from his brother a decade or so ago but I had no doubt that I'd find a deserving home for this one.

Later in the day the same lady approached me with a copy of Mystery Train - an 1977 paperback in hardback library binding - a bit mottled as it had been there for thirty years. I wasn't initially so interested as I have a couple of copies of later editions and it's always in print, but I did flick through it to remind myself as to how different the original discography was. That was when I noticed the handwriting on the back endpapers.

Someone had transcribed the opening verse of 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' and looking down it was Nikki Sudden, in Cologne, on the 11th November 1986. It's definitely Nikki's handwriting, and one would surmise it's a goodbye note to someone he'd met on tour and maybe left sleeping.

Curiously, judging by the date label, the book was only loaned from Holborn a few days before the 11th but then saw no further activity till early 1988. How it got back from Germany is a little mystery. But if I was guessing how it got there I would start by remarking that Holborn Library is very close to the old Creation office at 83 Clerkenwell Road and that Nikki was seldom without a book; I believe he was actually reading at a kitchen table when he died. So perhaps Nikki used the Creation address to join Holborn, borrowed Mystery Train, had read it by the time he got to Cologne, and thus left it as a valediction for his brief encounter.

That may be far off the mark, but it's a nice idea. Of poignancy to me personally is that on the 10th January 2006 Nikki, Bleddyn Butcher, and myself spent several hours together in The Apple Tree in Mount Pleasant, again very close to Holborn, doing the photos to accompany Phil Shoenfelt's interview with him that appeared in BoB 69. It was a very pleasant day and we talked around all sorts of things after the pictures were done. And it turned out to be the last time I ever saw him - so it seems to me a sign of some grace that a trace of him should now turn up again, unlooked for but where he might be expected, in that same location.

Kid Congo Powers at the 100 Club

Sunday night was down to the 100 Club to see Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey Birds. There was a touch of nostalgia involved - I'd used to run into Kid in the 80s in Gun Club and Bad Seeds days and I seem to recall us going to a Leonard Cohen show together. But I'd also heard the 2005 record Philosophy And Underwear and I'd read an excellent report of the Glasgow show.

It was a Dirty Water night with an undercard of The Crushers and King Salami and there was a fair old crowd with many familiar faces, and we all proceeded to have a jolly time. Kid and his band dress in mariachi suits and exude an appropriately sleazy glamour. The set kicked off with a definite tropical sway which didn't entirely transmit to the crowd; someone suggested to me the drums were plodding whereas it was more a case of an excellent rock drummer (Ron Miller) playing a little against his instincts.

For me pretty soon it was pretty good stuff. I'm intrigued to snag the new In The Red album Dracula Boots from which we heard songs like 'Hitchhiking'. There was a new song - possibly called 'My Other Life' and about Hollywood 1978 - to feature on one of series of five 7" singles projected for next year. Then a tribute to Lux Interior followed by 'I'm Cramped' and 'For The Love Of Ivy' along with a touch of 'Mother Earth'.

An excellent night and if you're in Europe plenty of time to catch the show as they're around till 20th December.

12.1 Stay Sick Club Brighton, UK
12.2 L'Alcatraz Roubaix, FR
12.3 L'Autre Club Nancy, FR
12.4 Queen Kong Neuchatel, FR
12.5 Hazelwood Studios Frankfurt, DE
12.6 Passenger Zu Zinc Besancon, FR
12.7 Deep Inside Dijon, FR
12.9 Le Chabada Angers, FR
12.10 LA2 (Primavera club fest) Barcelona, ES
12.11 Barreiro Rocks Festival Lisbon, PT
12.12 Wurlitzer Ballroom (Primavera Club fest) Madrid, ES
12.13 Le Rendemains qui chantent Tulle, FR
12.15 La Boule Noire Paris, FR
12.16 UBU Rennes, FR
12.17 L'Abordage Evreux, FR
12.18 La Nef Angouleme, FR
12.19 La TAF Montpellier, FR
12.20 Electric Christmas Gigors, FR

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Bucketfull Of Brains #73 now out in the world

OK kids. Bucketfull Of Brains #73 has been out in the world for about a week now. All the subscriber copies are in the post (except for the one that arrived this morning from an eminent gent in Chicago). There’s a pile in Minus Zero and Sister Ray, hopefully they’ll be in Rough Trade soon, and also a couple of shops in New York and Stockholm.

The subscription drive has made a good start. Not yet hit the 400 of course, but that’s going take a while, and there’s lots more viral nonsense to get up to yet. But to have around 60 fresh subscribers already is, to us, very healthy. I’ve been really gratified by the diversity of the folk who are now signed up. Plus the totally unexpected gifts (and let me just reiterate, nothing is too small) that have turned up have been humbling.

Earlier this week we got a bit more au fait with PayPal and realised that it was easy to make those buttons and let people use a credit/debit card without being registered. I’ve shoved them in one or two places and they’re being utilised, and now they’re going on here as well. Because if you’ve haven’t subscribed we’d still love you to, and if you just want to buy the single issue then we’re providing you with that option too.

Anyway to reiterate here’s a rundown of what’s in BoB#73

Lucky Soul: ‘It sounds like the Supremes, but inside out. Surely you understand that?!’
Interview by Terry Hermon

Achievements In Sound: Mick Dillingham talks with Gino Nave formerly of San Francisco’s Red Letter Day

John Wesley Harding: Then, now, and whenever
Wesley Stace speaks to Nick West

The Drones: ‘The Golden Section’
Hugh Gulland talks to the Melbourne four piece about the ravaged magnificence of Havilah

‘I never travel far without a little Big Star’
Simon Wright hears the box set, sees the band in Hyde Park, and converses with John Fry, Jody Stephens and Alex Chilton.

‘We oppose all rock’n’roll’
Phil King hears from Rob Symmons of Subway Sect and Fallen Leaves about 1976, how the Sect formed, and the 100 Club Festival (with unseen pics of the Pistols).

Mavericks In Maturity
Jeremy Gluck talks to Peter Holsapple about working with Chris Stamey again

What do you know about Diesel Park West?
Phil Suggitt chats to John Butler and hears about the night Bob Moseley called him up.

Plus The Bermondsey Joyriders, Bryan Estepa, Adrian Whitehead, New sounds from the Thames Delta, Gimme Shelter, Dennis Dalcin’s Garage, and a lot of reviews.

To buy a single issue inclusive of postage it’s £3.25 (UK), £4.50 (Europe) and £5.50 (USA & ROW). Quote bucketfull@blueyonder.co.uk) or just pay by credit/debit card (no registration required)

BoB #73

For a three issue subscription (tell us when to start #72 or #73) it’s £9.00 (UK), £12.00 (Europe) and £15.00 (USA & ROW)

BoB 3 Issue Subscription

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

It was Bill Forsyth at Minus Zero who got me into Midlake, probably about three years ago. Over the years there've been more than a few records he's insisted I buy and generally he's been right. I found that I was taken by The Trials Of Van Occupanther pretty much immediately, and most people I played it to were of the same mind. My thoughts on the album are summed up in the following:

"It’s a record of magic and otherness. A series of conceptually linked songs set in the American wilderness in the late 19th century, involving a ‘lonely scientist’, in an atmosphere that’s mainly pastoral but at times menacing. Harking back to pre-punk days and gentle psych-folk it has a rich and organic sound that warms and reassures, and its lyrical elisions invite you to join, as part-creator, this second life.

"Comparisons are made, not altogether accurately, to later Fleetwood Mac and America, and the shade of the mysterious Jimmie Spheeris has been invoked by the band itself. However in their spirit of evocation of other times, though not necessarily musically, they are perhaps closest to Tandy and The Band."

That's from the preface to an interview I did with Tim Smith, from Summer 2007, that ran in Rock'n'Reel that autumn (Nov/Dec issue). Tim also talked about their intended follow-up as they'd been playing a new song,‘The Children Of The Grounds':

“It’s a little darker sounding. I think the next album will be darker. Maybe half the album is written. I still have a lot to write but I just want to get started recording. We’ll begin when we get back. We’re still waiting on gear to come in, but now we’ve got a proper studio or at least a space we can convert. We recorded the first two in the living room.

“We’re doing it ourselves again. We’re still figuring things out. It’s a learning thing. It’s a bit of a frustrating process as being fun. It can be so gruelling by the time it’s done. I’m just saying that as it might take us a year. There’s pressure but I’m quite confident it’ll be a better album. I’m pretty sure from listening to the demos. I just think the songs are better. I don’t know if there’s any ‘Roscoe’s. There’s definitely no ‘Roscoe’s in the bunch, but you can’t expect to write 20 of those! We’ll see.”

It's now been announced that album, 'The Courage Of Others', is slated for release on 1st February next year. To quote from Bella Union's press release:

"Midlake’s new album also looks to a slightly earlier, and definitely British, trad-tainted folk sound. It may share the same gorgeously analogue-warm electro-acoustic template as Van Occupanther but it’s a slower, darker and more carved record, both eerier and dreamier...Neither do the new songs feature any hermit-scientists like Van Occupanther, or the mythical Roscoe. The songs that constitute The Courage Of Others, Tim says, are closer to his heart than those of their first two albums because, “I don’t feel I’m looking at the songs through someone else’s eyes. I’ve tried to keep it as true to myself as I could.”

The tracks are:

Acts Of Man
Winter Dies
Small Mountain
Core Of Nature
Rulers, Ruling All Things
Children Of The Grounds
Bring Down
The Horn
The Courage Of Others
In The Ground

and there's a projected short tour of the UK to coincide

Friday 22 January – NEWCASTLE – The Cluny
Saturday 23 January – LEICESTER – The Musician
Sunday 24 January – CAMBRIDGE – Junction2
Wednesday 27 January – NORWICH – Arts Centre
Thursday 28 January – LONDON – Tabernacle

Monday, 26 October 2009

Trent Miller and Ben Thomas

Another trip to the Gladstone. This time to see a double-header of Trent Miller and Ben Folke Thomas. To call these two singer-songwriters will not doubt damn them in many eyes but that's at base what they are. They also happen to be the two most exciting prospects on the London live scene currently, and to have seen them develop (by leaps and bounds) over the last nine months has been a fascinating experience.

Interestingly, and perhaps not without significance, neither of them are English; Trent's Italian and Ben's Swedish; but it takes a while to gather that. What strikes you is their assurance and their familiarity with the varied forms of past American music. Ben with Dylan, Prine, and their ilk; Trent with Robert Johnson, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Thin White Rope (at times there's a clear echo of Guy Kyser to his singing voice).

Trent is driven. He's already put out one album this year - Cerberus - and he's written a load more songs and is adding more musicians. Saturday I don't think he played one song off Cerberus though he did play his Gene Clark tribute song and JLP's 'Secret Fires'. Not coincidentally there's a Trent original of that title on Cerberus which you'll find a fuller review of in BoB#73.

Ben often seems more laid back but it's something of an act. He's now fronting a five-piece band with the ubiquitous rhythm section of Graham Knight and Steve Brookes, the impressive lap steel and slide guitar of Paul Cuddeford, and now added the splendid violin of a young woman called Barbara who's previously played with Dan Raza. He comes over with a simulacra of the stage moves of the early 90s Bob Dylan (when he would have been about five) and lyrically he's not averse to quoting the Zim. This in no way negates the fact that he's an inventive lyricist and has a good eight or nine songs to form the basis of a memorable debut album.

So far there is no Ben Thomas product, though there was a limited edition (of ten) CD in September and there's four-track promo doing the rounds. However you ought be champing at the bit for songs like 'Paradise Lost', 'Can't Live That Way', and 'Hole In My Heart'.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Subscriptions: Join The Bucketfull Of Brains 400

You can now see – on the Facebook group, on the MySpace page, and obviously here - the cover of Bucketfull #73. It features Lucky Soul, The Drones, John Wesley Harding. Achievements In Sound, Rob Symmons, Roky Erickson, Peter Holsapple, Big Star, along with all the usual stuff. It will be published very soon.

But it’s been something of a struggle to get out. Not from content which we’re overflowing with, but finance. For reasons too convoluted and drawn out to rehearse here, though we will put a resume up on the blog shortly, we have been broke and hand-to-mouth (if that) for the last two years or more. How we’ve been able to survive is through our loyal subscribers, many of whom have stuck with us over more than a decade. But most of their current investment is dead, either spent on previous issues or the basic infrastructure of BoB .

So we’ve thought about what we can do to get a bit more cash. In fact to gather enough reserves to ensure we can pay for the next three magazines without even needing to solicit advertising. After doing a bit of basic maths we’ve realised that this is possible to achieve with 400 new subscribers. We suspended subscriptions about 18 months ago due to the uncertainty of continuance but we’re now reopening them in a revised fashion.

So from now Three Issue Subscriptions are now open. For the UK it’s £8.50, for Europe £11.50, and USA and ROW £14.50. You can start with #73, or with #72 (the Jesse Hector cover). Please pay by PayPal (it is easy to sign up for, as a number of our friends can now attest) to the usual email (bucketfull@blueyonder.co.uk).
There's now a PayPal button below that should make it even easier.

The reality is that if you’ve ever thought of subscribing to Bucketfull Of Brains now is the time to do it; certainly in England it’s going to cost around the same as three beers. We do sadly have to pass on carriage costs to our overseas readers, but in most places it is the only way you’ll be able to get it for a while.

Lastly we would ask you to pass this on to all and any remotely relevant mailing lists or contacts you have or have access to. It’s our 30th anniversary year and we would like to see 31, and while we wouldn’t be quite ready to call ourselves an institution our continued existence does keep the editors out of one.


Sunday, 18 October 2009

Simon J Alpin

Went down to The Gladstone last night to catch a short set from Simon J Alpin. Simon's known more as a very-respected sideman (Teenage Fanclub, Grand Drive) and producer (Kathleen Haskard) though for a period he was an integral part of Willard Grant Conspiracy. He was mainly playing songs from his 2007 album On The Wire. That's a record that still needs to be discovered properly though it did achieve Maverick's album of the month status. Sounding rather like Dan Penn backed by the Rolling Thunder Revue it has an easy rustic grace enhanced with a variety of instrumentation; Simon's lap steel. Josh Hillman's violin, viola, and saw, and a cello too. Robert Fisher, Caitlin Cary, Jess Klein, and the Wilson brothers add backing vocals at different junctures. Well worth chasing up.

Available through his MySpace.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

We Are Only Riders – The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project

We Are Only Riders – The JLP Sessions Project

Here's news of a JLP-based project that's released 11th January on Glitterhouse. The following is all lifted from the press release.

A musical collective of artists who have come together to interpret and in some cases, complete unfinished skeletal works by Jeffrey Lee Pierce

Featuring Nick Cave, Debbie Harry, Lydia Lunch, Mick Harvey, Mark Lanegan, Isobel Campbell, Barry Adamson, Johnny Dowd, Dave Alvin, The Sadies, The Raveonettes, Kid Congo Powers, David Eugene Edwards,

We Are Only Riders is more than just a 'various artists' compilation. It’s a musical collective of artists who have come together to interpret (and in some cases, complete) unfinished skeletal works by Jeffrey Lee Pierce, an artist they were friends with or whose work they admired. Artists featured on the album include Nick Cave, who has done his own solo track, as well as duetting with Debbie Harry, and playing piano on Debbie’s solo track, and added backing vocals on the Cypress Grove track. Mick Harvey contributed to two of the Nick Cave tracks and has recorded a solo track. Barry Adamson plays bass on the Nick Cave solo track and also on the Mark Lanegan solo track, who has also recorded a duet with Isobel Campbell. Dave Alvin is the driving force behind 'Walkin' The Streets' together with Lydia Lunch, a song which The Blasters and The Gun Club jammed on together in the studio after a drunken night many years ago.

About three years ago while clearing out his attic, Cypress Grove came across a bag of dusty old cassettes. He started to sort through them and found one marked 'JLP Songs'. As soon as he put it on he remembered what it was; Cypress Grove & Jeffrey rehearsing material for the album they made together in the early 90’s. (Ramblin’ Jeffrey Lee and Cypress Grove with Willie love'). The album was initially going to contain country songs, but it gradually evolved into a full blown blues album. It was recorded on an old boombox in Cypress Grove’s bedroom, just the two of them on acoustic guitars. The sound quality was terrible, but was good enough to make out the songs, which were excellent. The three country songs were ‘Ramblin’ Mind’, ‘Constant Waiting’ and ‘Free To Walk’. In addition to the terrible audio quality, there was also no level of performance on these recordings, as Jeffrey was merely showing Cypress Grove the material. Releasing these songs from the cassette was therefore out of the question. But if Cypress Grove could get them properly recorded, that would be different. Also, because there were no definitive versions of these songs, and there was no idea how Jeffrey himself would have envisaged the completed work, then why stop at one version? It would be fascinating to hear how different artists might interpret these songs from this most basic and crude of templates – the cassette!

Cypress Grove initially started to contact musicians through their myspace pages. Mark Lanegan was totally into it and was in the studio at the time, so was able to record his stuff quite quickly. Cypress Grove then asked if Isobel Campbell would duet on 'Free to Walk' with Mark, which of course she did. She was so please with it that she added the song to their live shows. Cypress Grove then e-mailed Jim Sclavunos and asked if he thought Nick Cave would be interested, who also agreed.

This would have been impossible without Digital technology, with artists adding their parts all over the world - London, Melbourne, Glasgow, Barcelona, Los Angeles etc. Once word of the Project started to get out, more material became available through family and friends. Jeffrey’s old friend Phast Phreddie Patterson provided a copy of a home made cassette recording he made of Jeffrey doing ‘My Cadillac’ and ‘St. Mark’s Place’, which were actually pre – Gun Club recordings. Also, Cypress Grove was able to obtain the two inch master tapes of some song ideas they had recorded at the end of the 'Ramblin’ Jeffrey Lee' sessions.

One of these was 'The Snow Country'. All they had was Jeffrey’s guitar part and the drums; but no vocals. Cypress Grove had no idea what Jeffrey had in mind for this song but he had acquired some hand written lyrics that Jeffrey had never used, so they matched ‘The Snow Country’ lyrics to the track. Gene Temesy and Mick Harvey came up with the vocal melody and they had a brand new Jeffrey composition from beyond the grave! With the exception of 'Lucky Jim', all the songs on the album are brand new Jeffrey songs.

'Lucky Jim' was on the end of the 'Ramblin’ Jeffrey Lee' tapes and was the very first time Jeffrey recorded this song. In Cypress Grove’s opinion, this version is better that the one that ended up on the ‘Lucky Jim’ album. So although Cypress Grove had a policy of 'no previously released songs – only new material', he felt he had to make an exception for this one. The only problem was the tape ran out after about one and a half minutes. But thanks to digital technology, Cypress Grove was able to 'stitch' an entire song together and then add bass and guitar parts. Debbie Harry added vocals and Chris Stein played Guitar, with Nick Cave’s piano to top of it all. The track listing is as follows:

1 Nick Cave – 'Ramblin’ Mind'
2 Mark Lanegan – 'Constant Waiting'
3 The Raveonettes – 'Free To Walk'
4 Debbie Harry – 'Lucky Jim'
5 Lydia Lunch – 'My Cadillac'
6 David Eugene Edwards – 'Ramblin’ Mind'
7 The Sadies – 'Constant Waiting'
8 Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell – 'Free To Walk'
9 Lydia Lunch – 'St. Marks Place'
10.Crippled Black Phoenix – 'Bells On The River'
11.Cypress Grove – 'Ramblin’ Mind'
12.Johnny Dowd – 'Constant Waiting'
13.Nick Cave & Debbie Harry – 'Free To Walk'
14.Mick Harvey – 'The Snow Country'
15.David Eugene Edwards & Crippled Black Phoenix – 'Just Like A Mexican Love'
16.Lydia Lunch, Dave Alvin, And The JLP Sessions Project – 'Walkin' Down The Street (Doin' My Thing)'

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Baseball Project/Minus 5 Tour

I've heard a few of the shows from the McCaughey, Wynn, Pitmon, Buck extravaganza and I'll come back to them in a little time. For now here's something to warm the heart. Last night they played the 40 Watt Club in Athens and towards the end got some special guests up. Here's the very rare sight of Bill Berry behind a drum kit with Peter and Mike (and Scott who's played every REM show since 1994). Enjoy, and thanks to AthensMusicJunkie.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Phil Ochs tribute show

I was surprised how many people just didn't know who I was talking about when I said I was going to a Phil Ochs tribute show, even some of the London folkies. It seems sad if he's slipping away from the collective memory, though I can't really believe that's true. Certainly hearing a whole series of his songs on this evening I was struck anew by what a great songwriter he was, and how cheated I feel that he's been gone so long.

There's a tragedy about his story; he's the one they couldn't save; and a sense of if only. If only he hadn't been too fucked for them to risk asking to go on the Rolling Thunder Revue. If only he'd somehow got through that darkness in Spring 1976. One can't help feeling he'd have found a new lease of life as punk days flowered. He'd surely take pleasure in Grant McLennan's 'Get outta the car, Ochs' t-shirt.

The reason this happened now, aside from the fact that Martin 'Hungry Dog' Dowsing and Ed Baxter of Resonance FM are big Ochs fans, is that Bob Rafkin is in town. Bob played with Phil at the infamous Gunfight At Carnegie Hall in 1970 and he's on various of the albums. A regular visitor to London he's a direct link to the man. Some years ago I conducted an interview with him, trapped now on a busted hard drive I believe, in which he talked at length about Phil, Eric Andersen, and others of the Greenwich Village fraternity.

It's an evening of joy and reverence but not too much of the latter. At one point Rafkin quips "His and my lives ran in parallel, but when I tried to hang myself the rope broke". Everybody chooses excellent songs and everybody's nailed them. It's certainly not a night where people dash off a half-learned version of something simple and then go on to play three of their own songs.

Ed Baxter handles the compering with an easy, informal intelligence. He recalls the slogan of the Yippies 'Abandon the creeping meatball', reminding us that Phil was there in Lincoln Park, Chicago, in 1968. He talks about his decades-long obsession with Ochs and music, recalls Henry Cow who did an intriguing cover of 'No More Songs' in 1976.

Hungry Dog opened proceedings with the Broadside song 'If I Knew', 'No More Songs', and 'When I'm Gone'. He was followed by a brace from Onions; 'You Can't Get Too Stoned' and 'What Are We Fighting For' the latter embellished with glorious 12-string. Then came Ellen Mary McGhee with what's perhaps my personal favourite Phil song, 'Flower Lady', in a magical rendition. She followed this with an unaccompanied version of the traditional song - sometimes called 'Molly Bawn'- about the boy who shoots his sweetheart thinking she's a swan.

Bob Rafkin then came up and as well as playing 'There But For Fortune' and 'Changes' he told the tales about Phil, Greenwich Village, clubs like The Dug Out and The Tin Angel, David Blue, Eric Andersen, and eventually told the Carnegie Hall story. Still Innocent gave a lovely rendition of 'Days Of Decision' and then 'In The Heat Of The Summer. Bravely and entirely rightly Suzy Almond sang 'The Highwayman' Phil's adaption of the tender, tragic poem of Alfred Noyes.

It might have been then that the evening would wind down but quite the opposite it took off in another direction. I've noted AJ Dehany before, but here with three monstrous guitar assaults he took on 'I Aint Marchin' Anymore','The Scorpion Departs But Never Returns' and 'Crucifixion' and made something new and wild out of each of them. It seems that he's about to take a sabbatical, and projects like The Edgar Allan Pogues are currently on hold but on form like this I want to hear more. Same can be said for Glassglue; the Teutonic vocals of Marcel Stroetzler certainly offer a very different gloss on 'Love Me I'm A Liberal'.

So an excellent, worthwhile evening. A salute to Martin for putting it together, an hoorah for the ensemble for all taking it seriously, and a glass raised to the memory of one who is gone.

Got No Chains - A Walkabouts Tribute

GOT NO CHAINS – The Songs Of The Walkabouts various artists
Glitterhouse Records GRCD 698


01 Grand Theft Auto – Chris Cacavas
02 Cold Eye – Hugo Race
03 Got No Chains – Terry Lee Hale & The Seattle Clams
04 Acetylene – Walter Salas-Humara
05 This Rotten Tree – Willard Grant Conspiracy
06 Sundowner – The Bambi Molesters
07 Christmas Valley – Jon Langford
08 Fuck Your Fear – Chris Brokaw
09 Nightbirds – The Minus 5
10 Jack Candy – Steve Wynn & Linda Pitmon
11 Specimen Days – Savoy Grand
12 Wondertown – Whip
13 Nights Between Stations – Al DeLoner
14 Unholy Dreams – Gary Heffern & Beautiful People
15 The Light Will Stay On – Locas in Love

Comes with a booklet with liner-notes from John Parker and Tony Kroes and every contributing artist.
It's a double album with a bonus CD containing the original Walkabouts songs remastered.

Released by Glitterhouse on 25th September

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The House That Horse Built

Last Tuesday evening I went to the book launch of Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann at the invitation of my friend Joe Hurley. McCann's a New York-based Irish writer and Joe's written a bunch of songs relating to the new book. I didn't know anything about it and hadn't seen the ecstatic review it got in The Observer the previous Sunday. However it was clear from the brief extracts that McCann read that it was rather special. It reminded me, in both its sweep and its intricacy, of DeLillo.

Then Joe sang a song called 'The House That Horse Built'. This is based on a episode in the novel around a black prostitute who loses her daughter. It's an epic song of almost ten minutes duration in four parts: 'My Name Is Till (You Can Call Me Sweetcakes)', 'Let The Great World Spin (I Am Of This Earth)', 'Hanging From The Pipes (Leaving The House That Horse Built)' and 'Coda (Let The Great World Spin Without Me)'. Just reading the titles gives you an extent of the ambition involved, and met.

On a single hearing the chorus stuck. Now I've got my hands on the recording, currently only available on a mini-album that Joe's selling on the rest of the publicity tour. The album has four tracks; first the ten minute version and then three outtakes of shorter extracts. It's good to say that my instincts from last week were quite correct; it's a phenomena. Lyrically compelling, wondrously sung, and superbly produced by Don Fleming.

The roll-call of supporting musicians is impressive; Tony Shanahan, James Mastro, Paddy Moloney, and Dennis Diken, to name but a few. And then there's Tillie's Choir - Tami Lynn, Antonique Smith, and Faith Hahn - who, in a moment of quite spine-chilling intensity, revisit the chorus to devastating effect.

And there's more to come. Next Spring there'll be a full album of around ten tracks which Bloomsbury are very interested in having to coincide with the release of the paperback - so watch this space.

Meanwhile catch Joe on the tour, at the projected London show (late September or November), or in the States in between.

European Dates:

September 18th Hamburg, Germany

September 19th Berlin, Germany

September 21st Cologne, Germany

September 22nd Zurich, Switzerland

September 23rd Halle/Innsbruck, Austria

September 24th Vienna, Austria

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I Phil Therefore I Am: A Tribute To Phil Ochs

Wednesday 16th September

Various Artists play a PHIL OCHS tribute night, with SUZY ALMOND + AJ DEHANY + GLASSGLUE + HUNGRY DOG + ELLEN MARY McGEE + VINCE McCANN + ONIONS + former Ochs guitarist BOB RAFKIN + STILL INNOCENT + EMMA TRICCA + others £6

Dogfishtrombone presents

I Phil Therefore I Am: A Tribute To Phil Ochs

Dogfishtrombone and 12 Bar Club are delighted to present a night entirely independent of the corporate promotions occurring elsewhere in this city. Instead of paying £20+ to drag around from venue to venue in the hope of catching a “buzz” act, you can settle in for a night here and see a fantastic range of artists paying tribute to one of the great protest singers and artistic activists of our time, Phil Ochs, who, although he never saw his 36th birthday, wrote hundreds of songs, many of them covered by more mainstream artists, and inspired hundreds of other artists and thousands of fans.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Bermondsey Joyriders at the 100 Club

Thursday’s gig at the 100 Club was a cracker. I’d been wanting to see The Bermondsey Joyriders for some time now, especially since I heard their eponymous album. Gary Lammin is a shockingly good guitarist and all-round good bloke, and he and his two bandmates, Keith Boyce and Martin Stacey (ex-Chelsea, co-writer of ‘Right To Work’) more or less played the whole album. Add to which they were joined on stage by John Sinclair (Gary’s been playing with him recently and they have a mutual appreciation society going) for ‘The Screamers’ off his Full Circle collection.

Gary’s previous includes Cock Sparrer and he’s redone their ‘Runnin’ Riot’ for the album, plus there’s a kind of tribute to Johnny Thunders in ‘Part Of My Problem’ which joyously quotes the Dolls. Spotted in the audience was Charlie Murray who’s described Gary as a ‘cross between Ian Dury and Son House’. That’s pretty much how it is, and certainly the appearance of various Millwall faces on stage during ‘Who Are Ya?’ testified to the South London roots of it all. Plus it was cool to see punks back in the 100 Club and have Spizz playing some tunes.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Willy DeVille

I'm not going to do much more than mark the passing of Willy DeVille. Our good pal Bill Holmes has said it just as good over at Dr Bristol's Prescription and I entreat you to go and read his words.

Suffice to say we salute Willy in the sure knowledge there's some fine Spanish strolling going down in heaven. Because it was the album nearest to hand I've been playing Le Chat Bleu and loving it all, especially the co-writes with Doc Pomus 'Just To Walk That Little Girl Home', 'That World Outside', and 'You Just Keep Holding On'. Magical and timeless.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

You've Got To Be There For The King

Alan Tyler and Jon The Boatman present

Come to ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS this Sunday 16 August at the Betsey
, Farringdon Road, London. It’s a special Elvis night to mark the
32nd anniversary of the death of The King. It’s 3 floors of Elvis; at 6.30
we are screening the live music documentary That’s the Way It Is in the
upstairs room, in the basement there’s dancing to the Hillbilly Cat with Djs
Jon the Boatman and Dan till 12, and in the bar you can hear more choice
cuts of Elvis throughout the night. There will be Elvis food and drink too.
No dodgy impersonators, no live music, just 100% solid gold Elvis all night

If you love Elvis already you’ve got to be there.
If you don’t love Elvis you’ve REALLY got to be there!

Elvisly yours

6 PM - 12 PM
Betsey Trotwood 56 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 3BL

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Roky Erickson in the UK

People have been wondering about the line-up to accompany Roky Erickson at The Green Man Festival and at The Forum in London on the 20th August. I've just been in touch with Troy Campbell who's co-tour managing with Roky's son Jegar, and these are the guys

Kyle Ellison - guitar (Meat Puppets/Butthole Surfers)
Matt Harris - bass (The Posies/Ian Moore/Oranger)
Kyle Schneider - drums (Charlie Sexton/Ian Moore)

As you can see they all have pedigree.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Richie Unterberger's Velvet Underground book

On Tuesday night I went along to hear Richie Unterberger talk about his new book on The Velvet Underground. He’s been doing a libraries tour of London and surrounds, which shouldn’t be that radical, but is something of a new departure in this country. It happens a lot in the States and he actually suggested it to Jawbone who were initially sceptical. As it was there were close to 100 people at Swiss Cottage Library on a damp night.

The book is White Light/White Heat The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day. It’s the story of the band told as a chronology. I haven’t read it yet but I dipped in to see if the show I went to in October 1971 is mentioned (it’s not though adjacent ones are). It’s over 350 pages and there’s lots to read and a load of splendid black and white photographs.

Richie didn’t read as such. He told stories, showed clips, and talked through a slide show of photos. Finishing up with a couple of clips from the Bataclan Cale/Reed/Nico show of 1972. A very worthwhile enterprise for which thanks are due to Jon Mills of Jawbone (and Shindig) and Camden Libraries.

Some Groovies in Hoboken

Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney played at Maxwells in Hoboken on Thursday night (and at Southpaw in Brooklyn yesterday). Here's 'Shake Some Action'.

Fairport Convention last Saturday

Here are now a couple of clips from the Barbican show last Saturday night

'Meet On The Ledge'; the final encore. Wait for Thompson's verse.

Linde Nijland sings 'Fotheringay'

Monday, 20 July 2009

Fairport Convention at the Barbican

The Fairport Convention show on Saturday was simply a joy to witness. With the exception of Dave Swarbrick it seemed everybody who could be was there. And despite a slight quibble over the sound, in that Richard Thompson’s guitar could have done with being a bit louder, particularly when Chris Leslie was playing fiddle, and my personal wish that they play Eric Andersen’s ‘Close The Door Lightly’ not being fulfilled, there was no cause to carp.

The show began with Judy Dyble, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, and Simon Nicol taking to the stage and, after a few words from Judy, beginning the proceedings with ‘Satisfied Mind’. Then Joe Boyd appeared and recounted seeing them in Soho playing an American song he didn’t know and being convinced he should manage them. This song was ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’ which, joined by Iain Matthews and Dave Mattacks, they proceeded to play. It proved a highlight even from a first half full of highlights.

This first half features songs from the first three records revisited, with a variety of guest vocalists taking the Sandy Denny role; Linde Nijland for ‘Fotheringay”, Kellie While for a fabulous ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’, and Kamilla Thompson joining brother Teddy for ‘Who knows Where The Time Goes’. Teddy himself does an excellent job on ‘Genesis Hall’. Martin Carthy had been expected to sing ‘A Sailor’s Life’ but Norma Waterson’s ill-health prevented him appearing. Thus Kellie took the vocals on what turned out to be a pretty fine reading. This was though the moment where one did wish Thompson’s guitar was more prominent.

After the interval it was on to Liege And Lief and Full House. Singing duties now taken over by Christine While, Kellie’s mum. Fine versions of ‘Come All Ye” ‘Tam Lin’ ‘The Deserter’ and ‘Matty Groves’, then Christine’s exit followed by the arrival of Dave Pegg for ‘Walk Awhile’, ‘Doctor Of Physic’, Sir Patrick Spens’ and ‘Dirty Linen’.

That seemed to be it but in calling for an encore we knew there was at least one song that still needed to be heard. And in fact there were two, with almost all the company present and augmented by Linda Thompson, still in her raincoat. First the hit, as Simon Nicol explained it, ‘Si Tu Dois Partir’ and then inevitably, thankfully, ‘Meet On The Ledge’ in which Richard Thompson’s third verse induced a massive tingle down the personal, and I’d guess collective, spine.

Set List

Satisfied Mind
Time Will Show The Wiser
One Sure Thing
Jack O'Diamonds
Some Sweet Day
I’ll Keep It With Mine
Genesis Hall
Who Knows Where The Time Goes
A Sailor's Life

- Interval -

Come All Ye
Tam Lin
The Deserter
Crazy Man Michael
Matty Groves
Walk Awhile
Doctor Of Physic
Sir Patrick Spens
Dirty Linen

- Encore -

Si Tu Dois Partir
Meet On The Ledge

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Barry Melton - Two London Gigs

Barry Melton of The Fish is playing a couple of gigs this week. On Wednesday he's at What's Cookin' and on Thursday at the Cross Keys in Kings Cross. The latter is a benefit and costs a fiver. Graham Larkbey and The Escape Committee are also playing and will be his backing band.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Big Star in Hyde Park - 1st July

Simon Wright
reviews the show on his My Space page

Here's the setlist

In The Street
Don’t Lie To me
When My Baby’s Beside Me
I Am The Cosmos
Way Out West
Till The End Of The Day
The Ballad Of El Goodo
Do You Wanna Make It
For You
September Gurls
Patty Girl
Mine Exclusively
Thank You Friends

Johnny Clash MBE at Tate Britain

It's tonight so it's short notice but Brother Lloyd Coombes is spinning discs for Richard Long

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Million Star Hotel - Jeffrey Dean Foster

Getting on for four years since I first heard this. Still as magical and arresting, still hidden, still waiting to be discovered.

"Million Star Hotel is like a multi-faced diamond reflecting light into a hall of mirrors. A classic pop album from North Carolina that unashamedly mines past glories. Made by someone whose teenage years were spent in the 70s in cars with radios. You hear late Beach Boys, Neil Young, Bolan, and of a time when music and romance were inextricably mingled.

Put together over a number of years, it comprises 14 songs and nearly 70 minutes. Adventurous well-made songs illuminated by those million stars but created like sculptures, with always something more. Always another teasing little sound in the corner.

Lynn Blakey, Don Dixon and Chris Phillips help out. Mitch Easter plays guitar and co-produces, but it’s Foster’s album. His strengths define it. His warm tenor voice is always entrancing. He writes a memorable lyric: “she bet on a bobtail loser”. He takes classic lines and makes them new; we know where titles like ‘Long Gone Sailor’ and ‘All I Do Is Dream’ come from.

The start is a gentle ambience and a whisper that grows into the tale of a ‘Lily Of The Highway’. The major motifs are all here: girls, cars, growth, loss. Its variance is the promise of what’s to follow, redeemed by ‘The Summer Of The Son Of Sam’. 1977, when Elvis and Skynyrd both fell to earth. Over six minutes the song rises, from a quiet meditative night with cicadas, into an epic.

Memorable moments persist; ‘Little Priest’ begins like glam rock, and becomes a California surf ballad. ‘Don’t Listen To Me’ channels Danny Whitten. ‘Long Gone Sailor’ seems part-written under the influence of Holland. Yet every second of this remarkable album cries out to be listened to. Everything here does its part; these songs will never let the careful listener down. Always they’ll inspire, and always they’ll reward."

Rock'n'Reel 2007


Friday, 19 June 2009

What's Kickin' Vol 4

It's that tine again. Another compilation, out on Stove Pony, from the East London combination of What's Cookin' and Mule Freedom. I've had the CD for a couple of weeks and I think it' possibly the best so far.

From the alt.ska of Smokey Angle Shades' 'Don't Leave Me' to the magical 'Mildsensations' from The Mild Sensations nineteen tracks later it's all strong stuff. There's our old buddy, Barracuda, and Bucketfull scribe Jeremy Gluck with 'Buried Not Dead', The Ugly Guys, with former Kursaals Paul Shuttleworth and Vic Collins on board, and Graham Larkbey with his splendid neo-pub rock revisiting the glory days of Ducks Deluxe and the late-70s Groovies.

Then there's 'Mercy II', an as-yet unreleased track from everyone's current faves The Wolf People, and 'If Your Lips Move You're Lying' from Matt Hill aka Quiet Loner. Not to mention Stove Pony's own Lucky Strikes with 'Morning Light' from their just-released The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick album.

Wednesday night there was a launch party over at the Sheepwalk in Leytonstone. Eight of the artistes did short sets in the packed and sweltering upstairs room.

The bluegrass trio Ghost Town Showdown kicked off showcasing their murder ballad 'Little Glass Of Wine'; the tale of a particularly disastrous fit of pique and its aftermath. Matt Hill then hushed the room with 'Get Me Johnny Cash On The Phone', and then had everyone laughing at 'Lips Move, as witty as John Wesley Harding we thought.

Andrew Mueller then played 'Do You Have A Sister?', one of the stand-outs on the album but a little diminished sans band. Lance Baldock of Cusack and Matt Boulter turned out to be The Midsensations and their beautiful instrumental sounded just as fine live as it does on the record.

Then a little vignette, and probably the set of the night, from Graham Larkbey And The Escape Committee. Their ‘Won’t Wait Forever For You’ took us straight back to 1978 and closing your eyes you could almost conjure Chris and Cyril. The Henry Brothers recalled radio hours of yesteryear with their dead-accurate and ever-enjoyable Louvin/Stanley Brothers invocations. Dan Raza did a speedy solo slot, and then Smokey Angle Shades ended up the proceedings with a slightly longer set. I guess after carrying their piano upstairs Stephen was going to get his money's worth out of them.

Some good nights coming up there soon too. Wolf People on July 1st and Barry Melton on 16th.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Hungry Dog Brand & Will Scott at the 12 Bar Club

Sunday night took me to the 12 Bar Club to catch a couple of bands put on by Martin Dowsing. Martin,of course, performs as The Hungry Dog Brand, and has been putting on eclectic nights at venues all over London for a few years now.

A few months ago he spent some time in New York and played as the guest of Will Scott and tonight he was returning the favour. Scott hails from Indiana but is now based in Brooklyn and some mean guitar. His set featured a mix of originals and readings deep in the tradition but lively and innovative. A couple of Son House tunes, 'Preachin' Blues' and Grinnin' In My Face', 'See That My Grave Is Kept Clean'(on which he was joined by Jan Bell), and his own 'Stain Lifter'. “Living proof that white men can play the blues” said Mr H Dog.

He was followed by the latest incarnation of The Hungry Dog Brand. Since I last saw them they've found a fine young guitarist in AJ Dehany who was set up stage right with a fair array of pedals and effects that he wasn't shy of using; he looks like a fellow worth pursuing in his own right. A mixture of songs - 'Leprosy' and 'Say Hello To My Idiot Son' from 2007's Boy Meets Dog album - and 'Stranger On The Third Floor' and 'The Old Ghost Train' from more recent times. It was good to see Martin still retains his raw edge; no-one's ever going to find him easy listening but why would they want to. mental note made to catch another gig soon.

(Did see that he's scheduled to play the 12 Bar Club's Phil Ochs tribute night on 16th September.Put that in your diary.)

Friday, 22 May 2009

See We're Back

Actually we’ve been back for two months now. At least that’s when the first copies of #72 started creeping out. The relaunch is something of a long, slow process in which we concentrate on keeping our nerve, and beginning to produce a regular flow of information through our varying formats.

Apart from the print magazine we’re here – and many of these posts will also turn up in our My Space. We also are tweeting in an eccentric and spinning-off fashion; uncertain entirely of the virtues but having gained enough positives to see it worth persisting with. That I’ve learnt of Dag Juhlin’s mightily amusing reports from SXSW this year is justification in itself.

The new mag is mainly available directly from us. It is for sale in select emporia across London and various other places but the safest way to get it is to order from us. We finally lost patience with our final distributor after The Only Ones issue (#71) which left us personally out of pocket for a long time . Despite their name which indicated they were able to place the magazine all the way around the world it transpired they only managed to get it into three of the 26 or so Borders shops in the UK, in none of the US Borders, and priced the title so prohibitively that folk like Miles Of Music and Not Lame who wanted to sell it couldn’t.

Obviously I would say this but it is crucial that people do buy the magazine. We are kicking against the pricks in our customary cussed fashion and it’s not costing as much as it used to but it still requires a turnover. So literally every copy sold makes a difference.

Don’t feel it’s too late to buy #72. Stories about Jesse Hector, The Sonics, and Steve Wynn aren’t nine days wonders. We’ve been writing about Steve since he and us were in short trousers and it’ll continue like that while one or other us is still breathing.

#73 is well on the way. Who’ll be in it? Wouldn’t you all like to know? I’d look towards a list that leads off with Lucky Soul, John Wesley Harding, and The Drones and you won’t go far wrong.

Meanwhile keep a weather eye in our direction. It’ll be worth it.