One of my favourite new bands are Night Beds – not least for the astonishing voice of Winston Yellen who writes and sings their material. Perhaps the song that showcases both his songwriting skills and amazing vocal range is Cherry Blossoms.
This is a shot I took this morning in my garden – it looks its best in Springtime. This line from the Night Beds song says it all really –
Cherry Blossoms In Spring, And All The Joy It Brings
Seriously recommend this band – sadly missed them on their recent UK tour – hope to catch them next time around. Meantime, hope you like the shot of the blossom.
Spent the afternoon watching the weather close in on the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London; quite a spectacle in spite of the grey skies. By way of a cheery contrast, I’m posting about a band my son introduced me to. Apparently he thinks I’m hip enough to appreciate them. Hope you are too! The band in question are Tame Impala. Here’s the cover from their album, Innerspeaker.
I imagine the covers to their first ep and their album might give you a bit of a clue about the sort of musical treat you’re in for. If not, how about this description from their website – http://www.tameimpala.com/ – psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock – now there’s an antidote to the Diamond Jubilee and the gloomy weather if ever I heard one. You might want to check out this YouTube video of Solitude is Bliss – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxvf7gR4-2M – great music and interesting video, too. Enjoy!
Me and Paul Weller go back a long way. All the way to 22nd November, 1977 to be precise, when I found myself walking alongside him and Bruce Foxton the night they played Cardiff’s Top Rank as The Jam. It was fast establishing itself as the venue of choice for many of the emerging punk bands. I somehow managed to miss seeing The Stranglers, but I did catch Ian Dury and the Blockheads there.
1977 was a curious year musically speaking. Around that time I was watching bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, as well as Hot Chocolate (yes, Hot Chocolate – an excellent live act let me tell you!). Then there was Cher at Cardiff University Students’ Union, not forgetting The Ramones on my 21st birthday. What you need to know is that around the same time I was listening to Steely Dan and spending many a happy night in Cardiff’s nightclubs boogying the night away to Earth, Wind and Fire and the rich feast that was disco. Yet only two or three years previously I’d been testing my amp’s stamina with Roxy Music, David Bowie, King Crimson and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Here’s the cover from In the Court of the Crimson King. They don’t design them like that anymore!
1977 was indeed a changing of the guard. Musical compasses were struggling to find their magnetic north. All we knew for certain was that there was a new energy in the air and a powerful and urgent pulse pounding our eardrums. Here’s the late, great Ian Dury hitting us with his rhythm stick ..
Lots of water under the bridge since then. Most of the acts above have disbanded. Re-mastered special edition cd’s of classic albums abound. But some artists go from strength to strength. One of those is Paul Weller and the proof is his new album – Sonik Kicks.
Let me nail my colours to the mast – I think this is an excellent album from a great musician and songwriter. Yes, an artist with a great pedigree, but he’s facing forward with confidence not resting nostalgically on his laurels. It’s an album that’s both contemporary and classy. Sure, there’s a hint of his earlier work in the opening track – Green – albeit with a nod in the direction of electro. So, too, in some of the urgent vocals as in The Attic. There are some truly beautiful tracks on the album, too, with some neat arrangements – both strings and synths. I’m sure he’s heard it before, but while his vocal is very much his own, there’s a definite Bowie-like quality to the vocal on That Dangerous Age. This album’s good value, too – fourteen tracks in total. My own personal favourite is the last track – Be Happy Children – with it’s warm soul vocal. See what you think. Ps – nice touch to dedicate the album to the memory of the late Amy Winehouse. Nice one, Paul, you’re a gent!
Happy St. Pat’s Day everyone! Hope it’s a good one. My maternal grandfather was Irish with family in County Wicklow and Drogheda near Dublin. It was probably he more than anyone who encouraged my love of music. This well known song – The Black Velvet Band – sung here by The Dubliners – was one of his favourites- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1n4VmujZVM .So this is a tribute to him.
Sadly, my grandfather never did get to return to Ireland, however, I was fortunate to have had several holidays there as a child. The best was probably the first trip. Flying from Liverpool to Dublin with Aer Lingus (who else?) – and driving over to Ireland’s west coast, we drove west and stayed in Salthills on Galway Bay.
Not my photograph I’m afraid – think we were still taking black & white photo’s then. But it gives you some idea of the beauty of the place. Offshore a little way are the Aran Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. Next stop America. My father’s not Irish at all but nevertheless has a soft spot for the well known Irish ballad Galway Bay. Many different versions but here sung by Celtic Woman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geCEqzD3LYI
Looking at this picture reminds me of a hot August day, swimming here with my brother, Tim. Happy days!
Both of these songs are special to me, too, because of the associations they have, although my own personal favourite is Fairytale of New York – sung live here by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrAwK9juhhY
So to the Irish diaspora everywhere, Slainte!
Putney’s south of the river – the Thames, that is – but this was no guarantee that it would feel any warmer than the rest of London on Friday last week. I’d been feeling deprived of snow this winter up in Liverpool, but there was plenty of it in London. Slippery pavements, occasional snowmen, and muffled commuters on the tube, were all signs of the recent cold snap. This is the station at East Putney. Minutes later I was having coffee, a croissant, and a respite from the cold in a cafe next door.
Had a great day with the client in Putney, but it had been hard work and a very early start that morning. Decided a little exercise was in order and walked the half mile or so back to the station and was intrigued to see a sign for Soul Brother Records.
Must have looked a little incongruous in my black overcoat with a suit and tie underneath but the staff couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. This was a small, specialist and independent record shop that happened to specialise in funk, soul and jazz. So – “I’d like some funk, please” – seemed as good an opening line as any. After all, they were the specialists. I was keen to see how they’d interpret such an open brief.
The two guys – Laurence and Johnny – couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. I’d nearly bought a double album of early Candi Staton on their say-so at the start of the proceedings. The recommendations came thick and fast; their enthusiasm was infectious! In the end, I settled on a classic 70’s album by The Meters – a New Orleans funk outfit – called Rejuvenation. It’s a great album and far more accomplished all round than their funk contemporaries, Rufus. With a cover like this, you know you’re in for an exciting set. Personal favourite track so far is Hey Pocky A-Way.
Second purchase was a classic soul album from the same period – I’m Only A Man – by Willie Tee. As soon as they played this on the shop’s sound system it was game over – I had to have it. His version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix leaves the original in the shade. And I never thought this could be a soul song too! The whole album has more a Chicago soul feel rather than say, Philadelphia or the West Coast.
Great to see the shop have a website too for online ordering – http://www.soulbrother.com/ – this could turn out to be an expensive find today!
Gloomy, grey and wintry day in Liverpool today but still plenty of tourists arriving in taxis and on the Magical Mystery Tour coach outside John Lennon’s home on Menlove Avenue. Thought this photo of a detail inside the Hard Day’s Night Hotel in Liverpool might brighten things up a little!