Friday, 31 January 2020

Length


In yesterdays post I spoke of "Revelation" being the first piece by a rock band (Love on "Da Capo") to take up a side of a vinyl album. That got me thinking of what followed from that.

Classical music seems to have often consisted of lengthy pieces in the form of symphonies , but these were usually split into movements to give orchestras and audiences a rest. Remember permanent functional recordings that could cope with that sort of length of music did not come until the vinyl album which was around the late forties early fifties , and some symphonies outlasted the realistic forty minute vinyl limitation (anything else results in groove cramming and sound degradation).

Pink Floyd took up s side of "Meddle" with "Echoes" and "Atom Heart Mother"'s title track took up the first side. Yes did the same with "Close To The Edge" and "Relayer" opened with the first side being taken up by "Gates of Delirium" .

"Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd and "Sergeant Pepper" by The Beatles were merged song cycles that had defined songs that segued into others.

Yesterday on my walk to work I listened to Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick" which is just a single forty minute piece, obviously consisting of movements and it does amage me that artists can remember everything to perform these live. That was followed by "Passion Play" which was split by the silly "Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" by effectively took up a fill vinyl album.

However Tull were outdone by Mountain who on the original vinyl album of "Twin Peaks" stretched "Nantucket Sleighride" over two and a half sides even though it was only thirty minutes long, so we'll go with the studio take of that for this last post in January. It's only six minutes long and amazing song about whaling, a section of it was also used for an ITV news program "Weekend World" , and I always loved the early Mountain album covers, amazing artwork.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Revelation


On my last post I realised I'd posted 21 times this January, last January I posted 17 times and I thought if I keep this up it will be another record year. I'd worked on in my heat that 21 x 12 = 372 !! Obviously my brain wasn't functioning correctly as it often doesn't.

This is probably my last post this month and will probably resume early  next week. I am off the Whitby for the weekend staying at Dillons one of my two preferred stays in Whitby (the other being La Rosa) , Dillon is brilliant , Craig and Matt are great hosts , the rooms are great and their breakfasts are awesome. This time it's Whitby by train, I wonder if the train will make it. Last time the line was blocked at Hartlepool so a taxi was laid on that got us to Whitby 45 minutes early...... you can't do negative delay repay (smiles).

Anyway I am getting through "Follow The Music" and the Elektra label has got it's first rock acts, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Love. Love, led by the unfeasibly talented Arthur Lee, were the first band to fill a side with a single piece, the eighteen minute "Revelation" on "Da Capo", their second album which you can listen to by clicking on the title link. It starts off with cod harpsichord  before reverting to more standard 4/4 pop rock progressing / descending into a jam, though more than listenable , owing a lot to long blues jams.

Love covered "Hey Joe" and the Bacharach / David song "My Little Red Book" book I'm going to share "Alone Again Or" with it's amazing brass arrangement and trumpet solo. It was also well covered by the Damned which you can hear here.



Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Archimedes' Devil


A quarter of the way through "Follow The Music" and it mentions that Jac Holzman had a desk toy called an Archimedes Devil. I'd never heard of these and couldn't really find anything on the web until I came across the Cartesian Diver or Cartesian Devil a classic science experiment which demonstrates the principle of buoyancy (Archimedes' principle) and the ideal gas law. So now I know what it is and I have seen them in the past, but this is another reason why it is great to read because it either brings back things you've forgotten or lets you discover new things.

I'm still not up to the introduction of rock music to Elektra (though the book's cover has about four Doors albums and The Beatles have been mentioned) but several unexpected names have popped up, one of which was Joshua Rifkin a player with the Even Dozen Jug Band (I really need to look into what a Jug Band is (A group that uses unconventional or improvised instruments, such as jugs, kazoos, and washboards.)  DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia are a great reference library.

But it a semi parallel with Brian Eno's Obscure imprint , Jac Holzman came up with the idea of a budget Classical label selling good quality albums for $2.50 undercutting major labels, and Rifkin was a musicologist who wrote the sleeve notes, The label is Nonesuch ,and I first came across this and Joshua Rifkin when he covered some Scott Joplin ragtime and his version of "The Entertainer" was what brought ragtime to my attention, Marvin Hamlisch covered it for the theme for the film "The Sting" , so that's what we go with today for your enjoyment.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Repetition


I heard some of the new Ed O' Brien (Radiohead) album and remember Thom Yorke saying they were dispensing with melody. Essentially music should contain some sort of recognisable pattern which may or may not be defined as melody.

Then I started thinking (and I have probably written about this before so I am repeating myself) that all songs and musical pieces are generally based on repetition , often starting with a drum beat or a rhythm in one form or another and then built up from there.

Obviously there is music that maybe doesn't have a beat as such (say in acapella) but there is recognisable repetition.

For a piece to not repeat and still be recognisable it needs to be very short, and often you will get bits in songs that do that, but repetition is essential to the actual production of a song or musical piece.

Ironically prose and film has to generally avoid repetition except in cases such as the two excellent Duncan Jones (David Bowie's lad) films "Moon" and "Source Code" where repetition is essential to the excellently executed storylines.

Life is full of repetition we sleep , wake eat , work then repeat. When we eat we have to wash and dry utensils and then repeat, same with clothes , we wear , wash  then wear in a never ending cycle which is not necessarily a bad thing , life is cyclical.

Yes it's a short Saturday morning post , and there is only one song for this , "Repetition" by The Fall.


Friday, 24 January 2020

Missing Targets


I was hoping for the blog to hit half a million visits by the end of January but with eight days to go and 21K short I think it will happen in the first week in February. January's step count is back to normal with 51K to do in eight days so that is fairly easy, and in theory I could do it in one day but that would mean walking over twenty miles and I'm far too lazy to do that.

My Christopher Lee slideshow video has passed 40K visits which is impressive when you consider the a hundred visits is considered a success for me. The Dr Seuss / Nick Cave Red Right Hand one is up to 5.6K (the first one I did hit 16K but new images became available so I extended it). Given "Red Right Hand"'s use in "Peaky Blinders" and the fact that it was the first ever non commissioned piece of music used it the "X Files".

I'm only a tenth of the way through "Follow The Music" but it is enjoyable finding out about recording , distribution and Jac Holzman's unimpressive attitude to women in the fifties, plus dealing with blacklisting during the McCarthyist Witch Hunts  is all very illuminating and interesting and I may have up to ten weeks of this, which is not a bad thing.

I am almost impressed with myself that I have written a decent length blog post with absolutely nothing to to say, just plucking the odd things out of the air to put down and share with you.

So the last thing on this Friday morning is to share the "Red Right Hand" video for you with excellent graphics by the brilliant Dr Faustus. , Oh here's a thing, because I've been writing this I've completely forgotten to take my tablets!!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Cars Hiss By My Window


This is basically my start to the days, around 4:30 - 5 am I start hearing cars on the road, then about 5:30 I hear the Central Heating Boiler (serviced today by my friend Harry Willis) start up , then at 5:45 my alarm goes off, which I turn off immediately then stretch to wake my body up before going to the bathroom to shave and clean my teeth, followed by a shower. That's my normal start to the day except today I heard a car and then the alarm went off, meaning I sort of had to get up immediately, with Harry coming to service the boiler at eight.

The "Follow The Music" book is very similar to "On Some Faraway Beach" , a lot of text, but very interesting and is going to be a long and interesting ride, about the history of Elektra records as well as the history of recording media and lots of other things including interviews with the artists involved and Jac Holzman's first record shop "The Record Loft" (it wasn't a loft but he thought it sounded folky.

The title of the post is another song from "LA Woman" one of my eldest daughter's favourite Doors albums so we will use that for this post methinks.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Rising


Last month I was 20K steps short of my step target, this month I am, so far,  37K ahead of my target. Last month I was plagued by 'flu'  which lasted into January and I am still recovering from it. Today, for the first time in a long time I walked into work and then walked home , so that 15K steps which is about six and a half miles, and it was quite easy. I was helped by listening to David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World" and the "No Plan" EP.

This morning I started reading "Follow The Music" by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws which is large format , small but readable print and four hundred pages , so it will take me a long time to get through, but has started out promisingly, and is a wonderful accompaniment to my most impressive box set "Forever Changing" the story of Elektra Records , you can see some pics by clicking on the Follow The Music link.

Anyway during my walk I listened o "The Man Who Sold The World" , disturbingly dark and although there were some songs I thought I didn't rate highly , namely "Running Gun Blues" and "Black Country Rock" I found that I actually did, and "She Shook Me Cold" is the only one that is not on the same level as the rest, and it's still good.

I followed this with the "No Plan" EP which I had dismissed as out takes, but even though it leads with the prophetic "Lazarus" from "Blackstar" it is remarkably good while not part of the "Blackstar" universe but thoroughly worth your time.

So we obviously go with "Lazarus".

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Back To Front


Yesterday I posted that generally we can trust technology. After finishing  "Riders on the Storm" by John Densmore I picked up "On Tyranny" by Timothy Snyder and it has pointed out a couple of instances where technology is possibly not to be trusted.

The book is small , 128 pages and large, easy to read print and has 20 lessons on tyranny in the last two centuries culminating in our current situation, and what YOU should do to combat this and defend freedoms. It is an absorbing, informative read, highlighting a lot of things that you may have missed, assumed were OK and the like.

One if the the points was electronic voting, machines can be manipulated, so the only safe way of voting is on paper slips that can be checked and recounted, although we know even that can be manipulated.

It mentions how easy it is to ignore when others are being mistreated , especially by authoritarians.

There are also example books of how authoritarian groups can subvert nations with the implicit approval of the silent majority , namely George Orwell's "1984"  and JK Rowling's "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows" . "1984" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" highlight the power of destroying books and relying on screens and billboards and an ever decreasing number of controlled words.

I will probably finish this book today but it really should be in everyone's library , and I do worry about people who say they don't read or don't like books.

We are in worrying times and one of the problems is that we laugh at our political leaders rather than taking them to task, so I think given the rise of the acceptability of racism in both the UK and USA thanks to their governments we will go with the excellent "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" by Pop Will Eat Itself.


Saturday, 18 January 2020

Inside Out


Today is going to be functional. I was changing the bedding and whichever way I pulled the quilt cover and pillowcases they seemed to be inside out. I got it right eventually but it is a tribulation to say the least.

Then I tried to fix the charging port on my phone, apparently it's full of compacted fabric so the charger wont stay in so it needs cleaning out. I tried it at work yesterday and thought I had broken it, but it seems as it was at home so that's something I also seed to look at.

Also the sink plug mechanism is sort of broken , it's nothing major just a bit awkward to put back together.

Add to that basic shopping and a haircut , as you can see a very functional day.

I thought there was a Hawkwind song called "Inside Out" but it's actually called "Upside Down" , thein I remembered Imelda May did a song with that title so I will share that with you.


Thursday, 16 January 2020

Psychological Barriers


Yesterday I had a doctors appointment in Shieldfield , East of Newcastle Centre over the Central Motorway, I live in Fenham to the West of the city centre and took the first bus that actually terminated in the city centre (it's the only one on that service that does).

A bus that would have served me just pulled out as I arrived so I walked down to the next stop where there were huge queues and I thought  "Could I walk? But it is across the Central Motorway" . Immediately I was placing a psychological barrier to stop me actually walking there. I looked at my watch and had 21 minutes to make my appointment and thought well I may as well try.

Six minutes later I was over the motorway and one bus stop away from the surgery, I kept on walking and five minutes later I was in the surgery , just over ten minutes from town centre to my doctor's surgery. My blood pressure was initially up after the walk according to their machine in the waiting room and the doctor was slightly concerned so retook it and all was fine. It was just after a brisk walk your blood pressure can go up.

Coming back I thought I can wait for a bus or be back in town in ten minutes walking. I chose the latter, and also took some photos and video of the Central Motorway on Instagram here.

This is just one example of the barriers we put up to stop us doing things when really we would benefit from actually doing that thing.

I now have to walk to the Post Office to pick a delivery and think I will go with "Walkin'" by CCS.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Trust In Techno


On Monday morning I had to get up at 4:45 Am , my alarm normally goes off at 5:45 and while it's fine to switch on an off , it's messy to change the alarm time, so I set my phone alarm for 4:45. No we are generally well served with technology, things generally work and failure is normally an exception, so generally you can trust technology (although computers and be a bit awkward and phones are not really phones anymore they are computers that, among other things allow you to make phone calls.

I also use mine to send videos to my dad and he, under Francesca's direction is getting a lot easier with sending video messages., and this all generally works.

If you press the light switch the light turns on or off, same with any number of devices so when I set the alarm on my phone, that should have been it until the alarm sounded, but I woke up at 1AM , 2AM , 3AM , and 4:30 AM . I am not sure why because I trust the technology but each time I woke I thought I had missed the alarm. I hadn't of course, and eventually at 4:30 I just got up and switched the alarm off, so it never got to sound.

So we'll go with one of my favourite bands The Alabama 3 , a live take of the excellent "You Dont Dance To Tekno Anymore" from their "Exile on Coldharbour Lane" amazing debut, and any time listening to the Alabama 3 is time very well spent.

The Grey Quiet


This was a phrase that came to me when I was out early Sunday morning, the sound of my footsteps disappeared almost before my feet hit the floor , there were no vehicles and the only person I saw was someone soundlessly walking their dog. The dog never barked. There was no wind, there was just an uncanny stillness in the air. It was quiet, and the quiet seemed to swallow all the sound.

It was an almost science fiction scenario, imagine if it was always like that. I'm sure there is at least a short story in this scenario, but it was something I just wanted to write down. Maybe I will revisit it sometime in the future.

Normally in life there is sound and movement but when you are the only thing moving and making any sound it gives an unusual feeling of loneliness. There are times you need to be alone, but not all the time. When I write these posts I can only do it when I have my own space and time.

So I still haven't finished "Riders on the Storm" but John Densmore has reached the making of "LA Woman" and according to him the word "Mojo" is a negro word for sexual prowess, I'd always assumed it was sort if charisma. This comes from the phrase in the title song of the album, as I 've said seven minutes, one and a half chords and a riff and totally brilliant, "Mr Mojo Risin" which is an anagram of Jim Morrison. To record the album, which Paul Rothschild didn't want to produce , so he didn't, the band co produced it with long term engineer  Bruce Botnick and "regressed" from 16 Track to 8 Track recording, recorded it in a couple of week and credited all songs to the band, going back to the situation with their first two albums, and producing one of their best discs.

So I am now off to the doctors and leave you with "LA Woman"

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Chain Tarot


Today was my second appearance on Radcliffe and Maconie's "The Chain" and you can hear my low key conversation with the lads about 136 minutes in to this show for that next month or so, The link was very simple so I didn't really expect it to be taken up but I went from "Book of Love" by Magnetic Fields to Magnetic Fields Pt 2 by Jean Michel Jarre who has surprisingly only appeared on The Chain once until now. My friend Graham heard me and reckoned Elvis Costello and The Attractions could be a good link, he has a week to get his email off to them.

Probably my favourite Christmas present was the Dali Tarot set and was wondering, given that I have about six tarot decks whether I should try to use them. I do love the art work on the deck but basically reading Tarot is done differently for everyone and is based on intuition and interpretation, so you may draw the hanged man but that can be taken as an end, a beginning, a change , lots of interpretations.

It is similar to the I-Ching but I suppose you could take any set of random object to prompt you to interpret what you actually see, Like many things people look for answers, but really the only answers can come from you, and things will only happen if you take actions to make them happen, things seldom drop into your lap unexpectedly (though I once found £20 on the street, obviously I couldn't return it so I kept it) but when I was last in Settle we found a wallet which I took to the Police station and they knew who's it was from a photograph in the wallet.

So I may use the Tarot and it may point me in a direction, but I will always have the benefit of some amazing artwork in my hands.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Strange Days


I started this blog in 2007, so this in my thirteenth year of blogging. That year I posted six times. This is my tenth post this year and it's the eleventh of January, so despite the fact I said I was going to be more relaxed about my posting I am almost averaging one a day, though it does help if you have something to stimulate your writing.

Also as I have said, some of my blog posts were single line items, barely worthy of a post it note. I think my posts are now a little more involved and hopefully better quality, though that is determined by people who read it, although I still only have five followers, and a few people who comment on facebook although that last two months have had over 50K page views , but again only ten comments over the last thirteen years. I have deleted spam advertising comments but that points to a hell of a lot of robots or skimmers.

I was surprised to find that from my last post my friend Robin has a signed copy of the John Densmore book "Riders on the Storm" and shared the Guardian article by him with me and my eldest daughter is a fan of the album "LA Woman" which I really didn't know at all. It is great to discover good things about family and friends through unexpected interaction. Facebook is useful at time.

So I am half way through "Riders on the Storm" and it's still interesting and more than readable and they have just finished recording the album "Strange Days" which was the first Doors album I bought. I was surprised to find that the eleven minute "When The Musics Over" was recorded without Jim Morrison and the vocals were added afterwards, although they had played it many times live. "People Are Strange"  is a doors song that everyone knows probably from the Echo and the Bunnymen cover from "The Lost Boys" but we will go with the title track from the album.

I'd also never realised that the front and back cover of the album were two halves of the same photograph.

Strange Days Indeed ......


Friday, 10 January 2020

Riders .....


The John Densmore book "Riders on the Storm" is not living up to it's dark first chapter but is still an engaging and interesting read.and is endorsed as "The Real Thing" by Robby Krieger The Doors' guitarist on the back cover.

Jim Morrison could sing and come up with some pretentious but excellent lyrics but as a person could be an absolute arse, but as a band they produced some great music.

Really the most important member of the band is the drummer, they can make or break the sound, they hold the performance together. In our first gig with The Bok we used a pick up drummer. Two songs in we told him to stop because he was ruining the songs. I saw a band supporting the Buzzcocks at Newcastle University, can't remember who it was, but their set was ruined by a bad drummer.

In my opinion The Doors produced four albums worth having , their debut, "Strange Days" (the first of their albums that I bought), "Absolutely Live (my favourite) and "LA Woman" (in my opinion their swansong). There were odd songs from other albums that I liked, particularly  "Five To One", and "LA Woman" has two stand outs, the title song which was seven minutes , one and a half chords, a memorable descending riff , though I suppose  "The End" is twelve minutes based on a couple of notes, eastern style improvisation and stream of consciousness. Then there's the sublime "Riders on the Storm"  deceptively laid back and menacing.

So really that's my opinion of The Doors' music and albums but have another two hundred pages of the book to go, so I'm wondering if I will discover any more interesting facts.

It's a freezing Friday morning, so have a great day, and we'll go with "Riders on the Storm".

Thursday, 9 January 2020

.....on the Storm


The rain is gently hitting the window pane and it's dark outside , although the back neighbour's security light  which is on permanently and has been for over a year (must cost a fortune) , and was wondering what book to read after "Special Deluxe" by Neil Young.

Another which was destined to go straight to a charity shop without me reading it. This would have been ironic as it has an Oxfam sticker on the back which means I probably bought it from Oxfam when I was working there pricing music after I left EE, so that is like five years back. The book is "Riders on the Storm:My Life With Jim Morrison and The Doors" by John Densmore the drummer with the Doors.

Like the Neil Young book I am very apprehensive about this and it starts almost like a modern gothic horror story, but more than readable. Now I lump Jim Morrison with Shaun Ryder and Morrissey , partially responsible for some amazing music (and some rubbish) sometimes great on stage but you wouldn't want to socialise with them for any length of time. Also Jim Morrison's lyrics were often incredibly pretentious , but pretentiousness can sometimes result in great music if you don't take it seriously (think "The End" and "Horse Latitudes") .

Anyway the book has now morphed into Densmore's early life and how he learned the piano and the the drums (separately in marching bands)  and is rolling along nicely.

No doubt I will report more as I go along and it means I get to share some Doors with you. They took their name from a William Blake line:

"There is the Known
And The Unknown
And In Between
Are The Doors of Perception"

So I'll go with "The End" as it is probably my favourite Doors song.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

No Parlez


This is the second post about albums where the CD was an extended version of the vinyl artefact. Prior to his solo career Paul Young hand been in excellent voice as the lead singer of the Q-Tips and possibly with the awful Streetband and their awful single "Toast".

"No Parlez" contained some decent covers such as "Wherever I Lay My Hat, That's My Home". "Love Will Tear Use Apart" and "Love of the Common People" , but the stand out for me was the cover of Anthony Moore's "No Parlez" , and I have featured a few Anthony Moore songs on this blog , check here, Anthony Morre collaborated with Peter Blegvad in Slapp Happy as well as Henry Cow so off the commercial spectrum but still managed some great singles.

Then I though of the phrase "No Parlez" and thought although we are more connected than ever, there was a couple on the train up to Edinburgh who spent most of their time texting on their phones rather than speaking to each other, and this is something you see more often than not, people preferring the company of their device rather than the company of real people. Sometimes I am guilty of this too though I will excuse it by saying I am looking up something or trying to find something out.

Still my preference is for face to face conversation and today I received the first video message on my phone from my 83 year old dad, being cajoled by his girlfriend's daughter to reply to a video that I sent her. Technology is great at times but it should be used judiciously.

So Far Away


When we got hit by CD I noticed something about two particular albums "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits  and "No Parlez" by Paul Young. I'll talk about the latter in my next post, but the CD versions of these albums were longer than the vinyl versions, taking advantage of the fact that due to compression and dropping of frequencies you can fit up to eighty minutes of music on to a CD (though I believe a Mission of Burma one actually exceeded that).

Basically the songs were just longer than the vinyl release, the ideal length for a vinyl album is about 18 minutes a side, and making it louder shortens that, the early Led Zeppelin albums have virtually no run out as Jimmy Page wanted the maximum effect from his production. Again Todd Rundgren brought out a sixty nine minute vinyl album "Initiation" which came with a warning to use a new needle each time you played it (that may be an urban legend but you get the point).

Anyway "Brothers In Arms" while a decent album , I only liked every other song on it and particularly the opener and closer. I first heard Dire Straits playing the excellent "Sultans of Swing" laid back but with stunning guitar work from Mark Knopfler.

The opener is "So Far Away" and got me thinking, thirty years ago , everyone I knew was on this island apart from a couple of relations who had departed for the antipodes. When I went to Mexico around the millenium someone told me that a bus from the Texas border to Mexico City took 24 hours. Mexico is BIG , but our maps show it as this little isthmus joining North and South America. Someone also mentioned about flying across Australia taking seven hours to fly! In Britain I don't like travelling by train for more that three hours (though some journeys are far more pleasant than others).

Now thanks to social media and the internet I am in contact with with people around the globe (remember messaging a friend to see if he wanted to come to a gig, he replied he had moved back to India) and the main problem is the time differential, but it does bring us much closer together in a way we couldn't imagine even in the nineties.

So another day , and another walk towards work.