Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Other Vehicular Music 15

Renault 4 Request Music

Well, it was never going to be possible. That's too precise. And it isn't the most distinctive make to recognise from years gone by. So here is a solo offering,

Jim Lauderdale - London Southern, album review

Solid After Solid

Recorded in London with Nick Lowe’s band and record producers, the songs on this fine album are as English as wall-to-wall summer sunshine.

Indeed, opener Sweet time is as honky-tonk blues as the humid heat of a Deep Southern States’ post-Spring season, just to clarify, but second I love you more is continental, a lounge ballad with strings yet country-defined by Lauderdale’s distinctive twang. This and next We’ve only got so much time reside in their echo of 50s/60s pop balladry too, and perhaps this also hints at a marriage between roots and the international. Whatever, these are well-crafted songs, self-penned and co-written with the likes of Dan Penn and John Oates.

Fourth You came to get me is more upbeat, a walking pop-blues with horns and a hint of The Mavericks adding to the musical geography. What have you got to lose is gospel with a vocal chorus, and If I can’t resist returns to the latin-esque beats I hear in the Mavericks’ echo.

And it continues, solid song after solid song, Lauderdale’s signature sound in that vocal drawl. Ninth Different kind of groove some time is a soulful interjection, smooth as the groove its title signifies, a Country Green in the singing, if you get the al-lusion.

After the opener, eleventh Don’t shut me down is the other purer country song, with the album closing on the rockabilly of This is a door. Time to open it up and dance through the happy hall of songs once more.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hands Music 19

Carrie Elkin - The Penny Collector, album review

Confidence Prevails

This is a classy americana album, and it is mostly in the perfectly crisp and clear vocal of Elkin - I could namecheck 4 to 5 top country/americana female vocalists as similars and as fraework of excellence, but won't.

On opener New Mexico I actually do hear Judy Collins, but not in the timbre of the singing - rather the song itself: there is an echo of another, but again I think this is simply its quality, the background wail of a guitar, the acoustic guitar pluck, and the occasional gentle male vocal accompaniment providing, as with the rest of the album, a restrained but pertinent support.

It is all good. Second Always on the Run again displays Elkin's beautiful voice, front and centre clarity, a slow strut of a rhythm marching it forward. Crying Out is more delicate, a fine acoustic guitar base, then violin and cello just enough prettiness without over-orchestrating. The simplest of a sweetly sung cover of Paul Simon's American Tune showcases the perfection of Elkin's voice, strings here again, perhaps not necessary this time, but once more not overdone.

This is one of those confident listens from the very start. Do you know what I mean?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Tír na nÓg - A Tear and a Smile

The following, in anticipation of seeing the duo this Saturday, is a brief review of their brilliant second album, written in May, 2011.

My first Top Fifty posting - itself interesting - I didn't expand much. In many ways this says it all: there was no need. But I could have, and still might, as individual songs will always be absolute favourites [as opposed to simply favourites]:

Tír na nÓg - A Tear and a Smile

A Tear and a Smile
is the Dublin duo's second album, released in 1972, and is a folk gem, full of Irish lilt in the singing and fine guitar pluck and strum. The self-penned songs are gentle, earnest offerings - melodic, occasional harmony and simply sweet lyrically - and this album is indelibly mixed into the tiedye of my growing up at the time.

Before forming in Dublin, Leo O'Kelly came from Carlow and Sonny Condell from Newtownmountkennedy. Though their next album and later releases included more electrification, this is pure acoustic folk.

Wonderful songs are

Down Day
The Same Thing Happened

So Freely


Lady Ocean

Goodbye My Love

Two White Horses

That's 7 of the 10 and I am nitpicking the great from the good.

Tír na nÓg - 25th March, Totnes

Looking forward

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Last of the Citroen Music

Valerie Carter

February 1953 - March 2017

I was saddened to read today of the death of Valerie Carter on the 4th March, aged only 64.

Her passing hadn't made the news widely as it has for so many other musicians of late. That is entirely understandable: she wasn't a big, well-known star, but she was a fine singer and regarded highly by those with whom she worked, for example Jackson Browne and James Taylor. I had very recently  compiled a personal collection of her duets over the years, and the most apt tribute I can pay is to direct any interested readers to the reviews of her work I have written on this blog here.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Led Zeppelin, Ipswich, Suffolk, November 1971

I was living there then, and went to gigs at the venue, but missed this one. Damn!

But I did see The Sweet there in 1972.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Motorcycle Music 10

Chilly Gonzales & Jarvis Cocker - Room 29, album review

Fine Satirical and Musical Theatre

I was never a Pulp fan – not disliking, but not inclined to its Brit Pop [or whatever tag applies] and thus have little to align myself to it and Jarvis Cocker from the past – but I have always had a distant respect for Cocker, not least after he wafted a fart towards Michael Jackson live at the Brits [was it the Brits?] and thus also wafting his satirical but genuine disdain at the pomp and bloat of pop and the music industry.

In this album he would seem to be continuing his highly personal take on what music and therefore art should be: something singularly meaningful and purposeful – here the tales imagined and based on real events that took place at the Chateau Marmont and specifically in room 29 where Jarvis himself once stayed, apparently.

It is easier to read about the history of the Chateau/hotel from those in the know, and I would recommend this Guardian article. These are musical vignettes, the music provided by Canadian Chilly Gonzales, and are in most respects showy, theatrical pieces in sound and mood, the storytelling from dark to cheeky, the latter like Belle Boy in overall tone which is whimsical as well as darkly comic – the trials and tribulations of the generic belle boy – delivered in melodramatic music, rising lines and tight rhymes.

There are found sounds throughout – the sounds of a lift door opening/closing, glasses chinking and so on – and spoken voices as personas or as narratives from other sources. At times Cocker’s voice is sonorous, at others quite intentionally fragile, so the emotive is being foregrounded over and above melody. These are not memorable songs in their tunes, but instead in what they say and convey. It is intelligent storytelling in as much as this is the focus.

So I will be listening to hear more from the lyrics and follow those vignettes. There are sweet orchestrations as well as piano pieces that have a pleasing musicality – Salomé being a good example, though at times Cocker sounds a little too much like Chris Martin which alienates, until I remember who it is.

A Trick of the Light is perhaps the most theatrical, and the piano with strings sweep as it ends is beautifully cinematic, both as score and how it accompanies the story. The song Tearjerker and its instrumental echo The Tearjerker Returns is one of the more affecting, plaintive in both aspects of its story and the piano with melancholic string arrangement. Here are the lyrics:

You are such a jerk
You are a tearjerker
You don't need a girlfriend
You need a social worker


She's waiting at the airport
You're in your hotel room
With somebody who doesn't know you


Everybody always knew
The game that you were playing
You were fooling no one
So we're glad that you are paying


But still she's going to cry
Yes still it's going to hurt her
But you are a tearjerker
You're such a jerk yeah
A tearjerker
You're such a jerk, yeah


These surfaces are shining
Anything wipes off them
These surfaces are hard
Nothing seems to mark them


Breakfast ends at ten AM
Do you thing we could be through by then
Cause breakfast is inclusive
Do you think I'm stupid?


I'm stupid. I'm stupid.
You are such a jerk
You are a tearjerker

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Into the Distance Music 51

That's 51 postings x 7 Into the Distance album covers = 357. But who's counting?

It should be obvious: because 7 open up in each horizontal line that fills the menu box before it is enlarged, which it isn't.