Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Bob Mould at Manchester Academy 2 on Sunday night, twenty years after I last saw him play there. Back in 1998 he played almost entirely solo stuff, promoting his then new record The Last Dog And Pony Show, with just a Sugar song held back for the encore. This time around, promoting his current new album Sunshine Rock, he plays songs from the last forty years of playing and making records, from their earliest recordings to his latest. Backed by a high kicking bassist and a drummer engaged in a one man war of attrition with his snare drum Bob hits the stage loud and fast and doesn't really let up. His guitar/pedals/twin amp set up makes Bob sound like two or three guitarists and it's loud, really loud, with those crystalline melodies fired off within the sheets of distorted riffs. There are few gaps between the songs, no light show to speak of, no projections or backdrop- just songs from the Bob Mould back catalogue. He opens with 2014 song The War and then blasts straight into Sugar's A Good Idea, the bass riff on its own for a few seconds before being submerged in Bob's wall of guitars. Three songs in and we're into I Apologise off Husker Du's 1985 New Day Rising. There is then a liberal smattering of songs from Sunshine Rock, Bob's self-willed optimistic, happy album, an album written in the aftermath of the death of both parents and Husker drummer Grant Hart, songs like Thirty Dozen Roses and Sin King, highlights from Sugar's 1992 album Copper Blue (Hoover Dam sounds enormous, bigger than the guitars and keyboards of the album version). People around me are adjusting their earplugs. Husker Du's 1982 hardcore single In A Free Land has been dusted down and in Trump's wake sounds no less relevant and no less alive. Bob has been unwell in recent days and on antibiotics for a chest infection, not that you'd guess- Sugar's If I Can't Change Your Mind roaring out of the amps, noise plus melodies, punk plus chorsues. He pauses three quarters of the way through to thank us for coming and introduce Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster on bass and drums and then its back to business. Something I Learned Today, one of Husker Du's most vital songs, is a ferocious blast, spitting fire and piss and from this point, for the final fifteen minutes or so Bob and band go off setlist, launching into one Husker Du song after another, almost a medley- Chartered Trips, their cover of The Mary Tyler Moore theme Love Is All Around Us, a beautiful and raging Celebrated Summer with Bob stretching out the pause into the guitar picking section at the end, finishing with Makes No Sense At All, the single that paved the way for Pixies and Nirvana to name but two. No encore. Lights on. Ears ringing. Home.
Monday, 18 March 2019
This Monday's long song comes from a long out of press compilation CD on Weatherall's mid-90s Emissions label by Being. Frust is fourteen abstract, experimental, downtempo minutes, released in November 1995. A breakbeat, some whirring noises, some waves of sound crossing from one speaker to the other, a distorted synth bassline. It stops and starts a few times, building slightly in intensity as it becomes less ambient and more present. It changes tack at around eleven and a half minutes, bringing in some lovely synth strings for the closing few minutes.
I didn't know anything about Being other than this track and the one that follows it on the album, the comparatively short Try which clocks in at a mere eight and a half minutes. But the internet provides answers- Being was/is Dave Paton, Scottish and in the mid 90s based in Edinburgh. He released three records through Emissions and has been self releasing the music he made in the 90s ever since, most recently in 2018. There's an article/interview at Discogs. If you've made it this far you can read it here.
Sunday, 17 March 2019
This is really good and tailor made for a Sunday morning. Balearic DJ Dr Rob has put together a mix of the source material that inspired some of Andrew Weatherall's productions and remixes (and provided the samples). It opens with the famous Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski dialogue from Paris, Texas (the source of the 'yep, I know that feeling' line at the end of I'm Coming Down on Screamdelica) and then winds its way from there through some of Weatherall's record collection- Miles Davis, Bill Laswell, Lee and Nancy, Claire Hammil, American Spring (produced by Brian Wilson), the acid trip and tape loop drone of Tomorrow Never Knows, Billy Stewart, The Emotions, Gang Of Four, Fearless Four, Brilliant, the headspinning and heavy Hey Ho by Dub Syndicate, some even heavier Big Youth and Depth Charge- a mix that works both for trainspotters and general chilled out enjoyment.
Tracklist in full-
Harry Dean Stanton – I Knew These People
Bill Laswell – Lost Roads
Miles Davis – Saeta
American Spring – Sweet Mountain
Lee Hazlewood – Some Velvet Morning
Claire Hammil – Tides
The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
Billy Stewart – Summertime
The Emotions – Don`t Want To Lose Your Love
Gang Of Four – What We All Want
Fearless Four – Rockin' It
Brilliant – Colours
Dub Syndicate – Hey Ho
Big Youth – Yabby Youth
Depth Charge – Depth Charge
Bonus selection- here's the Paris, Texas clip from the start of the mix and the end of the film, a scene and film that is always worth spending ten minutes with.
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Mogwai's The Sun Smells Too Loud (off their 2008 album Hawk Is Howling) is one of my favourite pieces of music of the 21st century, centred around rolling, pulsing bass and pounding drums and soaring guitars making an ecstatic noise. It is very lysergic with a groove you can dance to. A Youtube user called Simon has put Mogwai's music to clips of the Tommy Seebach Band and their dancers (filmed sometime in the late 60s doing Apache) to good effect.
There- doesn't improve your day?
The Sun Smells Too Loud
The James Holden remix, only available I think as part of his DJ Kicks CD, turns the noises up all over the place, dismantles the original and put its back together in a completely different order to fairly disorienting effect. All sorts of effects and FX going on including the main rippling guitar part played backwards (I think).
Friday, 15 March 2019
Some forward thinking electronica from 1982 from the combined talents of Chris And Cosey, then fresh out of Throbbing Gristle and enjoying the freedom of their independence. Chris Carter pioneered the use of all kinds of equipment, not least the Roland 303 bassline synth and Roland 808 drum machine, back before most people had even heard of either.
They've never really stopped and in recent years have made some wonderful remixes. This one is a case in point, a sweetly euphoric version of a Tim Burgess and Peter Gordon collaboration from 2016.
Begin (Carter Tutti Remix)
I'm part way through Cosey Fanni Tutti's autobiography, titled art sex music, and without giving too much away she has lived an eye-opening life, a life lived as art, and in the 1970s put up with some very shitty behaviour from Genesis P. Orridge.
Thursday, 14 March 2019
This song is the sound of summer come early, a brand new tune from Balearic overlord Apiento. Things You Do For Love is built around a very Italo- sounding ascending bassline, a 100 bpm shuffle and a pair of vocals, one soulful and one French. This is very easy indeed, and very European.
As I mentioned Europe, the ongoing shitstorm taking place in the UK parliament hit new heights this week. There's a part of me that really wants Article 50 extended for the sole reason of seeing the right wing nutjob Brexiters frothing at the mouth about it, that dickhead MP with the French surname making up some bollocks about his Dad not fighting the Germans for this, Tim Martin spitting cheap beer all over a branch of one of his pubs and Rees-Mogg tweeting something about his nanny in Latin while spluttering about parliamentary procedure. Little wins are sometimes the most satisfying.
Wednesday, 13 March 2019
I'm sure other people's blogs will mark the death of drummer Hal Blaine at the age of 90 as well as this one. Hal Blaine was one of the most recorded drummers in history, a man who played on over 6000 singles and 40 number one singles including those by The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, The Mamas And The Papas and The Supremes. He covered for Dennis Wilson on Pet Sounds. But the bottom line is he's the man who did the intro on this...
Be By Baby
The result of a dropped drumstick apparently, a mistake that became one of rock 'n' roll's most instantly identifiable sounds, amplified by Phil Spector's production. The boom-ba-boom-crash sound was borrowed by, to name but two, The Jesus And Mary Chain...
Just Like Honey
And Johnny Boy...
You Are The Generation Who Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
Coincidentally some of us were discussing the Johnny boy song on Twitter on Sunday night and I discovered that there's a Don Letts directed video for the song I'd never seen before. It's here.
Hal Blaine R.I.P.